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Chapter 685: Heron-Class Bastion

    Chapter 685: Heron-Class Bastion

    Arachnid was a newer design, incorporating new advances in bionic integration. The North was not called the trailblazers of technological advancement for nothing.

    Arachnid didn't need any backup from an intergalactic fleet, an unstoppable force of war in and of itself. Thus, it traveled without an escort for fear it would impeded on its own ability to wage war.

    By the time Arachnid's legs were fully extended, all seven thousand of its fighter ships were deployed. They quickly dispersed like a cloud, but didn't rush in to attack. They were like spectators, a net of eyes.

    Eight rectangular engines spat tangerine-colored light from behind the Bastion. It looked like a terrible beast birthed from the abyss of space, and it raced ahead hungry for alien blood.

    The sudden transformation was an unexpected surprise for the alien attackers, especially when the bladed arms began to swipe through the air.

    The simple motion was actually phenomenally precise. Within Arachnid, a host of supercomputers controlled every aspect of the arms. Each swipe was calibrated to avoid collision with the other arms and make every strike as effective as possible. High-frequency ionization, as evidence by the pale blue light that surrounded them, made them incredibly sharp. They were deadly mechanical talons.

    Scrrrrgzt! A brief but piercing sound like nails on a chalkboard shuddered through the ship. Outside, the tortoise-shell line of defense that had protected the aliens from Arachnid's railguns were parted like butter before a hot knife. The three thousand six hundred meter forearm even sliced through the saucer-alien pushing them from behind. Many of the alien forces hiding behind it dispersed, and many others were instantly slain.

    In no time, Arachnid's eight arms carved away the aliens defensive shield.

    Panels flipped all along the Bastions surface as the railguns reengaged. Columns of light fires into the alien forces, and from afar Arachnid looked like a bristling hedgehog. Purple mists of caustic fluid hung in the air, remnants of the alien massacre.

    For the fighter ships watching from afar, they looked like pleasant clouds.

    This was the power of a Bastion ship, the greatest war machine humans have produced!

    The long-planned trap lain by the aliens had been foiled, and now they were exposed to the punishing rain of fire from Arachnid's railguns.

    ζ

    Like a bird of prey swooping through the darkness, the Heron-class Bastion ship made its way through the Shattered Starfields. Compared to its brethren, it moved the fasted among the rocks and moons,

    Heron was markedly different from all other Bastions. Its constructed look like a fighter ship, only blown up to staggering proportions with a wingspan of thirty five thousand meters. Its hull was thirty seven thousand meters fore to aft and stretched a sleek seven thousand one hundred meters tall.

    Heron carried ten thousand smaller copies of itself onboard but lacked a single main cannon like Arachnid or Tyrannosaurus. Instead it had three slightly smaller ones with power equivalent to ten Capital ships each. It was also the fastest Bastion ship ever built.

    Northern technology adhered to the idea of 'build everything and see what works,' and newer style ships like this were created to push the boundaries of what they were capable of. They were even constructed with elements that gave them the ability to completely change shape. As difficult as it was for a ship like Arachnid to change even part of itself, one could imagine the trouble in finding ways for a whole ship to transform. 1

    Heron was a prototype of this new generation of Bastion ships. Its manufacturing principle was 'make it faster than any Bastion before it.' They were successful, and Heron became the preferred Bastion for the North's long-range missions. While it couldn't boast the sheer destructive power or defensibility as its predecessors, its speed gave it an advantage the others lacked. Furthermore, it was supplemented by several divisions of fighter groups that could engage swiftly. A ship like this sweeping into a battle could dramatically change the tide!

    Yan Yuan stood proudly before the bridge window, watching the asteroids bounce off Heron's shields. He was enjoying the view. It made him feel powerful, unstoppable.

    He was one of the new generation of Northern military leaders, two years younger than Kang Hui but already an admiral. Where he differed from Tyrannosaurus' commander was his lineage. Yan Yuan came from a storied Northern family, and was his family's pride and joy. He leaned on the considerable resources at his disposal to temper himself into the successful soldier he was today. While unconfirmed, he was also considered the future patriarch of his family - a true rising star in the North.

    Originally the North hadn't required Yan Yuan's participation in this fight, but he'd insisted. He felt humiliated by the fact Kang Hui had risen through the ranks faster and enjoy more prestige. The only way to prove his superiority, he felt, was on the battlefield.

    Combat had already broken out, he knew. They'd received the call for aid from Tyrannosaurus and were already advancing as fast as they dared. He had to get there! Yan Yuan would not allow his stellar military record to be stained by inaction - he was a perfectionist.

    "Sir!"

    "Report."

    "We will reach Tyrannosaurus in one hour, Admiral."

    "Flank speed, and tell the gunnery officers to prepare for immediate combat once we arrive." Yan Yuan ordered.

    "Aye, aye!"

    Heron's construction was such that it didn't need fear the Starfield's many obstructions. In fact its wings were made to be weapons, sharp and sturdy. Northern leaders had proposed sending Heron into the Starfields a long time ago to clear out pirate forces, but the cost was deemed untenable. So, when Yan Yuan brought this up to his superiors they approached his request to join the expedition.

    It was time to prove his merit! Yan Yuan gripped his hands into tight fists. His career could be described as flawless, all he needed was a fight big enough to get people's attention. This was it, and he cherished the opportunity. Yan Yuan was confident in his capabilities, and the capabilities of the ship he commanded.

    "Admiral, we've just received reports from Arachnid that they've been ambushed." The urgent news brought Yan Yuan back to the present.

    "Go to defcon 1!" He barked the order while returning to the commander's chair.

    Heron's radar swept into through the rocky expanse of space around them. Bow-mounted railguns extended and started target-tracing while the main cannons began to charge.

    Although Yan Yuan had never participated in a full-on military campaign, he had a wealth of theoretical knowledge and plentiful experience with small engagements. Tyrannosaurus was locked in a firefight with one of the planets. Arachnid had been waylaid by another. It could only mean the enemy had known they were coming, and assuming Heron would slip by unmolested was foolish. Enemy forces would do whatever they could to prevent them from giving aid to Tyrannosaurus.

    Just as Heron was preparing for a fight, a sudden and unexpected pull come from the side. It originated deep in the asteroid belt, strong enough to pull the Bastion off course.

    "Cut engines! Prepare to engage!" A beam of dazzling white light shot into the distance from the top of the ship. It was a type of long-range radar that released a pulse after a few moments, revealing a large area to their scanners. Heron used it to uncover enemy positions or confound interference attempts.

    However something unexpected happen. As the white light spread farther and grew wider, a flash of imperial purple erased it from being. IT was as though the universe simply swallowed it up.

    That was...

    Heron didn't stop to fight an unseen enemy. Its engines blazed in attempts to shed the traction dragging it backward. Speed being the Bastion's greatest asset, it was a wise choice to escape from their foes attack range and re-engage on their terms. Yan Yuan was an admiral, he knew tactics.

    Once the ship got some distance, it turned back around toward where the sneak attack had come from.

    What they saw was a nebula of purple - a swarm of aliens too many to count headed their way. The creatures were pouring in from the surrounding asteroid field, some of them larger than Capital ships.

    In the center of the throng was a massive violet planet slowly emerging from the darkness. A swirling whirlpool roiled at its center. Though smaller than the one attacking Tyrannosaurus, it was the same in all other respects.

    1. They've built Starscream! What have they done!
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