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Chapter 683: Moonfiend?

    Chapter 683: Moonfiend?

    Ying Tianlong snapped to attention and saluted his superior. "Admiral Kang, I am willing to accept whatever disciplinary action you deem necessary. But the First Fleet is the backbone of our nation's security, I beg you to come to our aid."

    "Commander Ying," Kang Hui began coolly, "you will follow all orders to the letter, do you understand? If we survive this fight, then we can discuss punishment."

    "Aye, aye!" Ying Tianlong stood straight, chest out. Pride had clouded his judgement, but the man was still an outstanding soldier. He understood what was required of him in this moment, and although he was loathe to admit his failing to the admiral he wasn't willing to gamble with the one hundred thousand lives under his command.

    After accepting Ying Tianlong's apologies, Kan Hui's face bore no change. In a fighting force this large there were more important things for him to attend to besides a commander's wounded pride. He was already being pulled in too many directions.

    Lan Jue took Qianlin's hand and they walked over to the admiral.

    "What it is, commander Lan?" Wu Qiu was also standing by Kang Hui, one of many officer in what had become the war room. He waited patiently for orders, along with Ling Ya. When he saw Lan Jue approaching the admiral he stepped in to block his path. Kang Hui could not be disturbed.

    Lan Jue's voice was low. "We can help the admiral keep up his energy."

    Wu Qiu paused, then turned his head to look at Kang Hui stooped over his desk. When he turned back he looked unconvinced. "The admiral has to pay close attention, he's directing our defenses. He mustn't be disturbed."

    Little by little the flood of asteroids had started to decrease. The alien planet could spit them out, but had no control over where they went once it did.

    First Fleet managed to pull themselves into formation. Ying Tianlong's Capital ship and the fleet's ten dreadnaughts had pulled in front as a shield for the smaller ships. The battleships and patrol boats huddled behind their bigger brethren while they shot apart any asteroids that came their way.

    Then, the alien planet began to move.

    It picked up speed, approaching the human defenders once more. All the while asteroids were belched from within that rotating vortex.

    Kang Hui's pupils contracted. "All dreadnaught-class ships or higher, prepare main cannons."

    Only a short period of time had passed since the fight began. However, it was so frantic and ferocious no one could tell just how long it'd been. They had waiting for this moment with singular focus, and now that it was here they were almost too stunned to react.

    It was getting closer! Meanwhile the asteroid assault was diminishing by the moment. Northern ships repositioned their heavy weapons toward the encroaching enemy powerhouse.

    But then, without warning the planet stopped dead in its tracks once again. The asteroids vomited from within stopped as well.

    Was it spent?

    No sooner did the thought cross the soldiers' minds than it was dramatically disproved. They gaped at the madness they witnessed.

    The planet began to expand again, even bigger than it had been before. A colossal form emerged from the vortex. It was round, an orb with an entirely purple surface that emerged slowly but picked up speed. As it fired from the planet it began to spin with such speed that its gravity well wracked surrounding space. For good reason - it was ten times the size of Tyrannosaurus!

    "Moonfiend!" The shocked gasp came from the woman standing with Lin Guoguo at the back of the room, Su Xiaosu.

    No one knew the planet better than she did. She knew it the second she saw its topography. And she was right, this enormous purple planet spat at them from the aliens was the husk of Moonfiend! Nothing lived on its poison surface now, making it nothing but a cosmic corpse turned weapon.

    They thought we knew about them, but no one could have imagined the aliens would use a whole planet to attack them. Whether gravity, atmosphere, or sheer mass, a collision with Moonfiend would exterminate anything it came in contact with.

    "All ships open fire, give everything you've got!" Kang Hui's cool exterior was broken, he shouted the order. The moment Xiaosu recognized the planet, he understood the danger they were in.

    There was only one result if they planet hit them, complete annihilation. The alien planet had come close enough that - at Moonfiend's speed - they would have no way to escape if they tried to run. What's more, even if they tried the space around them was still thick with asteroids. Their only option was a single bold gambit, destroy the planet with overwhelming firepower.

    If Tyrannosaurus' main cannon had been charged, even a rogue planet wouldn't have frightened them. It was strong enough to blast it apart. However it wasn't ready, wasted on a failed shot against the alien world. Their railguns would have to be enough, or they were doomed.

    Boom-boom-boom boom-boom! A ceaseless series of blasts shook the Bastion ship as its guns fired. They held nothing back.

    Third, Sixth, Eleventh and Thirteenth fleets unleashed their Capital ships and dreadnaughts. Cannons that had been trained on the enemy were turned on its weapon instead. Blinding streaks of light swept passed Tyrannosaurus' flanks.

    Luo Xianni, watching from the war room, darted out her hand to grab the Wine Master's arm. When he turned to look at her, she fixed him with a look and nodded. Jue Di's partner was strong enough to deal with the planet, but it came at a dangerous cost. There was also the Violet Prince to consider.

    It was speeding up! For a terrible moment the humans watched as their cannon fire and Moonfiend closed in on one another. The question was front and center in everyone's mind. Would it stop the planet? Was this the beginning of a great victory, or their last moments breathing?

    Kang Huis' hands gripped the edges of his desk with enough force to turn his knuckles white. He glared at the screens with hard eyes and a clenched jaw. This was the most important battle of his life, and possibly his last.

    ζ

    Arachnid sailed through space so quickly it left a wake of displaced meteorites in its path. Since there was no entourage to protect it paid no mind to the detritus swirling around it. Eight enormous mechanical legs hung limp behind the Bastion ship as it charged ahead, enveloped in a faint white light.

    If judged by mass, the Arachnid-class Bastion was among the smaller of the North's mighty ships. However that didn't speak to its awesome power. Although they looked like a spider's legs, that was as far as the similarities went. Not only did they make the ship more agile than its larger brothers, they were also invaluable in a fight.

    Holmen sat behind his desk with a steaming cup of coffee in his hands. The screen in front of him flashed with scenes of a desperate battle. A life feed from Tyrannosaurus.

    "Sir!" A voice spat from the intercom on his desk.

    "Speak." The admiral took a sip from his cup.

    "Admiral. We just got word from Tyrannosaurus to engage as soon as we can. They warned us to look out for an ambush."

    "Got it," he replied tepidly.

    Holmen was a leading voice among the more hawkish members of the military, and a senior commander. He'd been promoted to Fleet Admiral for this excursion. He was the same commander who had attempted to blow Lan Jue out of the sky on his trip to the Starfields. Zeus-1 was very nearly destroyed at his order.

    Of all the Northern officers he was the most familiar with the Shattered Starfields. It was for this reason he was chosen to join the expedition.

    "Ambush? He's frightened." Holmen muttered to himself over the rim of his coffee mug. He and Kang Hui had never been friends. In his mind Kang Hui's lineage was inferior, it made him weak. How was it he'd been promoted faster, he wondered? If he'd been given the same cherry-picked missions Kang Hui had received, he would have been Fleet Admiral years ago.

    Competition was in his nature, especially when it came to Kang Hui. As for the alien threat he had also been vigilant and itching to get his hands dirty. Before being given command of a Bastion, the Seventh Fleet had been under his command. He knew how capable it had been as a fighting force, and thus could see how strong the alien creatures must be.

    He'd volunteered for this mission, in part as revenge but also to earn himself a vital crystal. Many high-level military leaders were backed by powerful families. It was how they got their status in the first place.

    "Ahead at flank speed, bring us to the battlefield. Make sure the main cannon is charged and prepared to engage." He wasn't convinced of any imminent danger, but he knew better than to underestimate an enemy. Although he had no love for Kang Hui, he had to admit the man was competent in some areas. Among them was a comprehensive tactical knowledge on the battlefield.

    Engines flared beneath the mechanical spider's abdomen, thrusting it even faster toward the fight. Holmen's Bastion was crewed by excellent officers who guided Arachnid through the Starfields deftly, dodging asteroids and small moons as they were encountered. The ship's mechanical legs would occasionally stretched out to knock obstacles out of the way. It looked more like an octopus than a spider.
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