Chapter 686: Crossing Swords

    Chapter 686: Crossing Swords

    The aliens spread out like a dragnet, trying to swallow Heron up. An equally large force of them appeared behind the Bastion as well. All of a sudden the ship was caught between two forces; it was a vice and they were caught right in the middle.

    Ambush! Yan Yuan's face fell. For forces to appear behind them, it meant they knew Heron was specialized in speed and planned for it. Fighting while outflanked was asking for desire. They had to get to Tyrannosaurus.

    Yan Yuan was desperate for glory, but he didn't let it cloud his judgement. He knew little about these creatures and was in an unfavorable position. Tactical retreat was the wisest course.

    The enemy was no less cunning or intelligent than mankind, the same determination Kang Hui and Holmen had come to. Retreat had been cut off by the time Yan Yuan had made to flee. If he'd have been faster, he might have been able to break the encirclement. Now Heron faced the full strength of the alien planet, and even though Heron was fast it was too large to make a quick escape. Turning took time, time the aliens weren't likely to give.

    A number of strange umbra-like monstrosity came at them, firing smaller aliens that looked like tortoises and pushing them ahead in their charge. Rays of purple light also shot by on their way toward Heron.

    However the most frightening was of course the alien planet itself. It wasn't attacking them yet, but its massive presence was like an ominous star, stifling the breath of soldier and officer alike.

    They had to retreat!

    Yan Yuan screwed up his courage and gave the order. Heron didn't release its forces into the fight, instead blasting forward at full speed. Its milky-white shield now blazed bright gold, and in the darkness of space Heron looked like a fiery phoenix come to wreak havoc.

    Was he planning to charge through the enemy line?

    The aliens continued to close in.

    BANG! Heron crashed into the enemy forces with a shuddering crash. No matter how large the aliens were, compared to the Bastion ship they were hardly worth noting. Herons razor-like wings were supplemented by its shields, which were formed to a blade's edge. Even tortoise-aliens were unceremoniously cleaved in half as it roared passed.

    Nor did Heron keep a direct path. No sooner did it reach top speed then the ship pulled to one side, arcing perilously to one side. They were making a break for it, but it wasn't going to be easy. Their new trajectory was bleeding their speed and leaving them open to attacks from the side.

    Railguns hummed mechanically as they extended. Beams of light flashes at odd intervals, blasting through the throng of foes. Heron was baring its talons.

    But there were too many. They couldn't stop the Bastion, but they could at least slow it down. Meanwhile the evil planet was drawing ever closer, the horde of monstrous creatures tightened the net.

    "Cannon, clear us a path!"

    Heron's three main guns, affixed it its back, were fully charged and ready. Although they weren't as powerful as those on Arachnid or Tyrannosaurus, the trade-off was they primed faster.

    Three identical beams of energy tore through the darkness. Anything caught in its path was immediately disintegrated.

    Two of the three guns were aimed straight ahead, opening the way forward. The third one took shots at the alien planet, slowly but surely bearing down on them. In the same instant, Heron's main engines exploded with columns of angry red light that rocketing the ship forward - signs the engines were overcharged. Its railguns were already firing as quickly as they could. Heron darted forward like a sparrow, desperate to escape its captor.

    It broke through! Yan Yuan's face relaxed ever so slightly. He knew his ship, yes there were aliens that could catch them but none that could do the Bastion any significant damage. There was no way that lumbering planet would be able to stay on their tail.

    His eyes were fixed to the radar, watching for any movement from the planet.

    Surprisingly, the swarm of aliens stopped their pursuit and turned around. So did the planet, but much to his shock it began to swell with frightening speed. Its change in size also caused Heron's cannon fire to shoot directly into the central vortex. He shots vanished, leaving no visible damage to the planet itself.

    It was less a planet and more a possessed balloon from some nightmare.

    What was it planning?

    "Redirect all power to shields!" Yan Yuan shouted. Now wasn't the time to fret over energy reserves.

    In their short exchange Yan Yuan realized how strong his foe really was. The planet was like a Bastion ship with a seemingly limitless number of aliens as support. Without a fleet to help, he didn't like their chances of survival.

    As Yan Yuan pondered his dire situation he kept an eye on the planet. It grew and swelled grotesquely into a massive, fleshy red orb. Even from vast distances, one could almost pick out its throbbing arteries.

    Heron's overcharged engines had created some distance between it and the horror behind. For a moment it looked like their escape was a success.

    Only just then, without warning, a blood-curdling scream tore through Yan Yuan's brain. The hellish screech felt like it was tearing through his very soul.

    He was stunned by it, and next he knew the planet was practically on top of them.

    It was so fast it seemed to violate the laws of physics. Heron was faster than anything humans had built, but this living planet was moving three times as fast!

    With some curiosity he noted that the planet appeared to shrink as it got closer. He couldn't shake an almost comical image; a popped balloon shooting forward.

    "Fire at will, keep it off us!" Railguns all along the Bastion swung around to find their target. They let loose in a frenzied salvo, hoping against hope it'd somehow keep them from destruction.
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