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Chapter 688: The Splendor of Life!

    Chapter 688: The Splendor of Life!

    The first thing Holmen noticed were the odd data readings. No gravity? None whatsoever... what did it mean? Without gravity a planet would break apart like sand. It was smaller than a main sequence star, a white dwarf or a neutral star, but that didn't excuse it from the laws of the universe!

    However the Bastion had already crossed the point of no return, and uncertainly only bred fear at this point. The time was now, and Arachnid reacted by swiping with its massive arms.

    The plan wasn't to smash into the planet directly. With their size discrepancy the Bastion would certainly lose that dogfight. Instead Holmen's plan was a simple one; tear at it with Arachnid's arms. The East claimed it was alive, didn't they? Very well, then! Then we'll stab the damn thing to death. Swing by, chop it up, blast it with the main guns, repeat.

    It was Arachnid's best method against an enemy planet. Holmen knew this, and in fact some had come to call him the World Butcher for his dark skillset. He'd destroyed more than one living planet for the benefit of the North.

    Boom-! Impact! Arachnid's eight bladed arms tore into the planet in no particular order.

    However, the gore or grit Arachnid's Captain hope to see did not appear.

    Where Ares' Cleavers struck the surface of the planet flashes with purple light. The flashes deflected the strikes, leaving not so much as a scratch behind. In responsible the earth surged, spatting enormous purple tentacles that wrapped around Arachnid like boa constrictors.

    No! We were drawn in!

    "Main cannon, fire!" Though surprise, Holmen wasn't beaten yet. He shouted the order to his subordinates.

    Firing the gun so close put Arachnid in the red zone - it was more than likely it would be damaged by the subsequent blast. Holmen took this into consideration but made the decision anyway. These creatures were dangerous, they needed to be stopped.

    The guns were primed, and at his command they were fired. But just then, at precisely the wrong moment, the planet-born tentacles pulled. Arachnid was wrenched to the side just as the cannon released its payload. The beam shot off into space, missing its target entirely.

    It was like their foe had planned this from the beginning. Their desperate gambit had failed. But how? How did it know the exact moment they were firing their guns? A haze overcame him, a cold sweat springing up on his forehead.

    The fighter ships, seeing Arachnid waylaid, rushed in to its rescue. They opened fire on the planet with everything they had.

    Ripples of purple light spread from where their shots met its shield. Arachnid's railguns continued to fire at whatever target they could reach. Meanwhile its legs fought to free themselves. Nothing was effective.

    How could this be? How could its shields be so strong? Those thoughts screamed through Holmen's head.

    But no matter how many times he asked the question, no answers were forthcoming. More tentacles surged from the planet, groping for Arachnid. Still others lashed through space at the darting fighters.

    The tentacles - the smallest three thousand meters, and the largest nearly ten thousand - were covered in countless suction discs. With every swipe the discs caught some unfortunate pilot and either crushed their plane to ruin or threw them into their comrades.

    Railguns along Arachnid's surface fired wildly at the tentacles, blowing many of them apart. But when one fell, ten more appeared. They wrapped around the Bastion to keep it from fleeing, or bashed against its shields with bone-jarring force.

    How?! Holmen continued to shout orders while watching the rapidly deteriorating situation pass before his eyes as data on a screen. Their energy stores were being quickly exhausted.

    To think, he'd turned his nose up at the East's intelligence? A living planet? Nonsense.

    He would have called tentacles rising from a planet's surface nonsense as well, but they were right outside his window trying to rip his ship apart. Shields that made a Bastion envious protected the impossible planet from harm, even from Are's Cleavers.

    "Deploy the mechas!" Holmen's voice was hoarse, his voice lilting even as he shouted the order. Mechas would make no difference here.

    Not only had Arachnid had its victory snatched away, it seemed to be heaving its last gasp.

    ζ

    "Send me!" Luo Xianni calmly stared at her nephew.

    The Wine Master looked back. "I'm going with you."

    "And me." The Clockmaker let her voice be heard.

    Moonfiend's desiccated corpse was barreling toward them, leaving no time for deliberation. Resolve burned in the Paragons' eyes.

    It wasn't hard to imagine how difficult it would be to alter a planet's trajectory - impossible, under normal circumstances. Luo Xianni possessed this power, but it would cost her, maybe even her life. After all, there was an even more terrible planet waiting for its chance to strike.

    Just as the Paragons were preparing to leave, Kang Hui's voice stopped them in their tracks. "Wait."

    Everyone looked toward the Admiral. They saw his bloodshot eyes looking back.

    "First Fleet. First Fleet's Admiral Ying Tianlong respond. Ying Tianlong, what are you doing?!" He shouted at the monitors.

    It was then the Skyfire delegation saw the monitors. A single ship was headed full speed at the planet on a collision course. They could tell by the light from its engines that it was going too fast to change course.

    It wasn't alone. A hot of ships followed, duty-bound to follow their commander even to certain death.

    "Admiral Hui! I am determined to fix my mistake. Please make sure Tyrannosaurus survives. For the North!" Ying Tianlong's voice crackled on the intercom. His voice wasn't loud or passionate or prideful. He sounded calm. Resolute.

    Kang Hui stood behind his desk with his hands clenched in impotent fists. He'd always known of Ying Tianlong's contempt for him. He knew it was why he'd dragged his feet to follow orders. But in these final moments they stopped being rivals. They were soldiers, and Kang Hui understood Ying Tianlong's decision.

    First Fleet blazed a path through space on a suicide mission into Moonfiend's surface. A sacrifice to give Tyrannosaurus a chance at survival.

    To face death with an unflinching gaze... the words were simple, but only heroes lived it.

    "Ying Tianlong-!" Kang Hui shouted at the monitors.

    "Let the world know I was no less than you, Kang Hui! Ha-ha-ha-ha!"

    A chorus of laughter answered Kang Hui's pained shout. When they heard the brave reply, Lan Jue, the Pharmacist and the Driver stood tall in silent respect. The North and East may not always have been allies, but in humanity's darkest hour they were brothers-in-arms.

    Boom--

    First Fleet's flagship disappeared into a brilliant ball of flame as it and all the energy it contained detonated against Moonfiend's surface. It was followed by another, then another as every single ship from the First Fleet followed their admiral into oblivion.

    They were the North's mightiest fleet, a band of brothers! Heroes, to the North and all mankind!

    Tears had appeared on Kang Hui's craggy face. He snatched the cap off of his head as he snapped around to face Lan Jue and his team. "Please, head to the energy core and infuse the main cannon with as much power as you can."

    First Fleet's sacrifice had significantly slowed Moonfiend's approach. One hundred thousand souls spilt their blood to give the rest of them a chance.

    The Wine Master glanced at the map where Kang Hui was pointing. With a wave of his scepter, he and the rest of Star Division vanished in a flash of light.

    Kang Hui didn't stop to brush the tears from his face and returned to giving orders. Tyrannosaurus began to turn, leading the remaining four fleets in a course to avoid Moonfiend.

    But as they started to turn the distant alien planet began to pick up speed, racing toward Moonfiend. It began to swell once again and the whirling vortex at its center sucked at the dead planet it'd spat forth.

    ζ

    Tyrannosaurus' Energy Core Room.

    They stood in an open circular room with two hundred chambers. Each one housed a metal bar, and someone standing beside it.

    All of them were Adepts, none less than fifth rank. When the battle had turned against them they raced down here to lend their Disciplines to the ship for guns and shields. Even two hundred Adepts didn't have the power Tyrannosaurus needed, but if they focused their gifts on just one area the benefits were sizeable. Empowering turrets, for instance, or a sector's shields. Or a cannon.
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