Chapter 684: Ares’ Cleaver

    Chapter 684: Ares' Cleaver

    Holmen never took his eyes from the screen in front of him. He watched every detail as Tyrannosaurus lead its entourage in battle against the alien planet.

    The monsters were crafty, using the galaxy itself as a weapon. Were it him in Kang Hui's place, Holmen wasn't sure he would have fared much better. You better hold out Kang Hui, you miscreant, you better hold the line! Wait for me to come pull your ass out of the fire.

    No matter his personal feelings, protecting the North and its army was their shared goal.

    "Admiral! Sensors have picked up a strong pulse of vital energy." The voice of one of his officers interrupted Holmen's thoughts.

    He and Kang Hui had different styles of command. Tyrannosaurus' Captain relied on his own superhuman vision to guide his men. Holmen, meanwhile, preferred to delegate when possible. He firmly believed that a single person had limits, no matter how strong. A fighting force was strongest when they worked in unison.

    As a result his people were some of the best. Although Holmen was prone to angry outbursts, and was as cold as a man could be, his soldiers loved him dearly. Unless the situation warranted, his staff handled their own business and troubled him only when necessary.

    "Continue battle preparations. Where are we with the main cannon?" A glint flashed in Holmen's eye and his right hand slapped the surface of his desk. As though in response, two large metallic hoops rose from either side of him. His desk separated to reveal several control panels, transforming into a complicated operations control center.

    "Sir, main cannon is charged to forty-one percent. It will be ready to fire in eleven minutes and thirty-two seconds."

    "Redirect energy to the guns to hasten the charge. Thirty degrees to port. Reduce speed to standard ahead, forty percent." He calmly delivered his orders.

    Arachnid's spindly body suddenly lurched to the left. One of its enormous legs crashed down on a larger moon and used it to redirect its forward motion. At the same moment its secondary weapons systems came online. Glimmering railguns with glowing barrels appeared all along the Bastion's surface.

    Suddenly, a large purple sphere appeared not far to one side. They saw it just in time to witness a hail of purple beams launch from its surface. They were headed right for Arachnid.

    A small, hard smile broke Holmen's stony features.

    That bastard was right after all. Here you are then? Excellent! Let's see what you've got. Brothers and sisters of the Seventh Fleet, today I make them pay!

    The light surrounding Arachnid suddenly swelled. As its railguns took aim at the planet the ship feigned to one side.

    A stream of data tumbled across Holmen's screens. Quick calculations told him the alien planet was thirty-two times larger than his ship - quite a bit larger. There were no readings on power levels yet.

    Holmen's reactions were calm and precise. He'd been waiting for this. Come on then, you bastards!

    The purple rays were fast and rapidly approaching. Scanners revealed them to large aliens, with umbrella-shaped monstrosities in the lead. They raced ahead with a clear target, and large as they were they still moved with uncanny agility. They juked and dodged, changing direction so quickly they were hard to lock onto. Strange pulses blasted from the umbrella-aliens as well, confounding Arachnid's scanning systems.

    "First Combat Division, engage!" Holmen called out the order through his intercom.

    Panels on the side of the ship split open, and from them gushed a horde of combat ships like angry wasps. They were all silvery-white, no larger than fifty meters from bow to stern, and sleek as missiles. They scattered into the surrounding vacuum of space, darting in all directions.

    Stationed forces of a Bastion were different from general army units. A single division boasted a thousand ships. Typically a Bastion had between five thousand and ten thousand fighters ready to be deployed. They were their standard front-line troops.

    Tyrannosaurus couldn't engage the enemy with its troops in the midst of an asteroid storm, but Arachnid's situation was different. He didn't have to hold back vital combat resources and deployed them right away. Often in a space battle these small combat ships were more effective than mechas. Fighter ships worked better together out in space, while mechas were more suitable to ground combat operations. They were more adaptable and had more power and options available to them. Out here among the stars, a full contingent of fighters could erase a whole fleet.

    Arachnid's First Combat Division fighters spread out around the Bastion, but not too far. They gathered into a hundred units of ten ships, unifying agility with firepower. The aliens came at them like bullets fired from the purple planet. By the time First Combat Division was in place, the creatures were on them.

    However the aliens weren't met by the fighters. The first thing in their way was more than five hundred blasts of energy. They burst from between the fighter units, perfectly accurate.

    Railgun fire! Arachnid started the fight with a wall of destructive energy from one of humanity's most potent weapons. Each gun was individually manned, ensuring there was no friendly fire. Meanwhile the fighters hovered in position so as not to get in the way. The battle had begun!

    The saucer-shaped aliens reacted quickly. They spun around at incredible speed, flinging out orbs of purple energy. The orbs spread out and stuck together like a film to warm the aliens from the encroaching attack.

    Seconds later a deafening explosion arose. Blinding white and toxic purple met in a cloud of tumultuous energy.

    Holmen grinned at his screens, confident that the salvo caused his foes pain. Those looked like normal alien fighters, nothing special, and that blast had come from his Alpha- and Beta- railgun arrays.

    But he would be disappointed. As the tempest of energy subsided the aliens reappeared. Enormous, shield-like bodies protected the smaller aliens from the railguns, rendering them useless. Their cumbersome form looked thick and craggy like tortoise shells.

    Arachnid's long-range scanners peered into their midst, revealing the shell-bearing aliens. They were huge, easily two hundred meters in diameter for the big ones, no less than one hundred for their smaller brethren. Their shells were the same sickly purple as the planet and flickered with violet light. They were thick, just as effective as ships' armor.

    All the railguns had managed to do was push them back and cause their shields to ripple. Nothing got through.

    Even Lan Jue, with all his experience, would be dumbfounded by the scene. They had been brought along with the saucer-aliens as natural shields. Saucer-aliens remained behind and pushed the shields ahead of them to protect against the railguns. The remaining alien forces followed. Meanwhile the giant alien planet was approaching from the distance!

    A dark and seething anger tainted Holmen's face. He wasn't upset that they'd survived his first salvo. What troubled him was their intelligence. It was all planned, all deliberate.

    "Ares' Cleaver!" Holmen growled the words into the intercom. He firmly pressed a distinct, angry red button on his panel.

    Arachnid's First Combat Division burst into the fray while even more were dispatched from the Bastion. The bristling railguns swung back into the closed position, leaving Arachnid's surface an unbroken field of alloy armor.

    The atmosphere-like shield around the Bastion receded. While it seemed to be getting smaller, that was simply because it was condensing. Concurrently the ship's eight mechanical legs splayed out around it, flipping in the process. Their back ends were thick and sturdy, while the front was sharp as a blade.

    Arachnid's body was thirty-thousand meters around. Its legs were eight thousand meters long and separated into two section. The bottom sections were five thousand four hundred meters long, and were tipped by the second section, each three thousand six hundred meters long. Thus in just a few moment the spider became a deadly sphere with eight razor-sharp blades splayed around it. They called it; Ares' Cleaver!

    Tyrannosaurus relied on its enormous size and impressive weapons suite - a very traditional Bastion. With its large energy stores it was best suited for fighting with other interstellar fleets.
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