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Chapter 781: Cosmic Battleground

    Chapter 781: Cosmic Battleground

    In being thrown across the battlefield, the aliens had no formation to speak of. They were subject to the combined might of the human armada the moment they arrived.

    Among them was a thousand-meter long monstrosity that looked like a crocodile. It wildly swung its tail, and spat orbs of dazzling purple energy from its maw at the ships closest to it.

    But in the midst of its thrashing strikes an orange glow met it. The force of it knocked the creature a thousand meters away. Although its defenses were strong enough to protect it from being destroyed outright, the explosion stunned the monster. Its attacks missed, the human ships were safe.

    The humans in their orderly formations were effectively defended. More than a thousand foes were cast at them, but their ships were many and their fire concentrated. Under the sustained barraged the wave of enemies were quickly destroyed.

    Vital crystals of carrying sizes twinkled like stars, marking where an alien had died.

    In the distance, the large shapeshifting alien had already flung the second wave their way. It had had more time to prepare this time, so this second batch was three times the size of the first. While the humans were busy with those, aliens from around the planet closed in on their defensive line.

    The orb-shaped alien had swelled to ten times its size, a hundred thousand meters of undulating purple flesh. Even compared to the planet it came from it was a sight to behold. It turned once and swallowed up a host of creatures, turned again and spat them forth.

    Humans may have puzzled out a way to counteract their enemy's tactics, but so had the aliens found a way to render their range ineffectual. Throwing them into the humans like this wasn't to cause damage - though it was great if they did. It was intended to send the humans into disarray, to disrupt their cooperation and make them weak.

    A host of monsters from the planet came buzzing toward the armada like locusts. Their main force was drawing ever nearer. It was clear they had prepared better than the humans had thought.

    This was not to say Lan Qing wasn't ready for them. Middle Heaven fires back like an angry hornet's nest, firing beams of saffron light into the aliens as they neared and wiping out the first two batches thrown toward them from the planet. The stronger ones survived, though they were shot away and barred from damaging nearby ships.

    The human ships quickly retreated. As they fell back they pummeled the aliens with secondary fire. Their withdrawal was orderly, and included the three bastions. It was an impressive feat by itself to maintain order among the twelve fleets - more than ten thousand ships, all told.

    They punished the enemy as they fell back. Though individually these fleets could not compete with the destructive power of a bastion, together the carnage they wrought was no less impressive. Beneath the hail of cannon fire the monsters were kept at bay.

    The defender class of aliens were too slow to get to the front and protect their brethren, while the faster attackers could protect themselves from being blasted to bits. The humans' retreat was not fast, but was just fast enough so that the aliens couldn't overcome them.

    The mightiest defender they faced was Middle Heaven, which remained between them and the rest of the human ships. It lashed out at them with bursts of yellow light like a deadly guardian. It pinpointed the most threatening parts of the alien horde and pick them apart, protecting the smaller vessels much the same as the aliens had done by protecting themselves behind a planet. In both attack and defense Middle Heaven was indispensable.

    Despite the aliens' natural defenses and survivability, they couldn't withstand the sustained battery from their prey. By retreating and attacking at the same time they were able to maintain their ranged advantage.

    Yet the aliens were malleable in their tactics. The massive orb gathered up another bunch of aliens to throw at them - this time exclusively tortoise-like defenders. They were thrown to the fore where they immediately linked together to form a tightly-packed shield. Instantly the efficacy of human cannon fire was greatly reduced.

    However, so was the aliens' ability to attack. They remained safely behind the turtle shells, pushing them forward. The defenders were well adapted to protecting themselves but did not have the speed of the attackers. In order to protect themselves the fighters had to push the shell before them in order to avoid being blown apart.

    Even so, the aliens advanced faster than the humans could retreat. The distance between them began to shrink. The creatures were adept at close-range fighting, and their goal was clear - get in close where human ships could no longer rely on their guns.

    From the start of the battle, humans had relied on Middle Heaven to keep them in a favorable position. However the aliens were not pushovers. They quickly recovered from the shock of being outplayed. They came in now from all sides to surround the human, too many to deal with all at once - at least five times the number of warships they'd brought. None were particularly large, but they came in such numbers that they were nearly as difficult to put down.

    Now was the key, whether the humans could survive against the full strength of the alien horde. At present, at least in regards to strategy, the humans were not in an inferior position. Whether or not they would ultimately succeed only time would tell.

    At long last, it was time for Zeus-1 to make its move. It moved in from the side of Angel, silent as a ghost. Now that the aliens were engaged in an all-out fight with the human armada, their numbers were fewer around the planet. Lan Jue's approach was made much easier with fewer defenders to spot him.

    Zeus-1 shot forward like an arrow under Mika's deft control. Between Lin Guoguo's psionic pulses and the Blinding Stone, they were effectively invisible. They flit between groups of aliens rushing to join the attack, drawing closer to the planet's surface by the moment.

    Everyone aboard the ship knew their roles. They were ready, and anxious to do their part. Lan Jue held tightly to Qianlin's hand as he waited for his opportunity.

    Their task was the most difficult. The bulk of the alien force might have been directed at the armada, but the strongest ones would be amassing on the planet. Taking on the progenitor would be easier said than done, as difficult as it was dangerous. It would undoubtedly be defended by mighty protectors.

    Alien strength was on full display this time, mightier even than they'd shown during the campaign in the Northern Alliance. Although they were proving capable enemies against Middle Heaven and the others, it also served to prove Lan Jue and his brother right. Their home worlds must be in the process of evolution.

    Where they not, no matter how clever Lan Qing's plans the humans would have been outmatched. If they were here humans would be no match for the devastation they would cause. At best they would be an irritation.

    As they passed through the thinning purple mist, Lan Jue's eyes grew sharp.

    "Take care of yourself!" The Terminator, who until now had not spoken, strode forward and clapped his massive hand on Lan Jue's shoulder.

    Lan Jue answered with a resolute nod, then walked ahead. The others of his team followed, headed for Zeus-1's hangar doors.

    Zeus-1 wouldn't be able to land. They would have to disembark and descend to the planet themselves. From there they would seek out and destroy the progenitor.

    "Boss! Go get 'em!" The four amazons cried in unison.

    He grinned and shot them a thumbs-up.

    Once they hit the atmosphere Zeus-1's Blinding Stone was less effective. The ship appeared and disappeared in the thin purple atmosphere. The frantic glimmering caught the attention of two nearby aliens. They heaved themselves around, preparing to attack.

    But just then two foreboding beams of white light shot out. The two large creatures froze for half a breath, then split into two halves and tumbled away.

    Several figured ejected from the sapphire vessel once the coast was clear and headed for the surface. Zeus-1 peeled away, leaving a contrail in its wake as it re-entered orbit. Once it was again out in space, it disappeared from view.

    Lan Jue tightly gripped Qianlin's hand. With his mind fixed on the task at hand, he led the way. He didn't bring out Thor, it was too obvious a target. Nor was it suitable to use with the team.

    The Pharmacist, Pauper, Driver and Gourmet splayed out behind him. Luo Xianni was nowhere to be seen. Six figures shot through the air toward the far side of the planet.

    They didn't have time to hide themselves or evade detection. They raced ahead as quickly as they could. This was a blitzkrieg, their job was to burst in, cut off the head of the snake and retreat.

    They were discovered by nearby aliens right away. One of them that looked like an eagle let loose an ear-piercing shriek. It then charged at them with talons bared.

    The Harbinger Faerie glared at it was an expression cold as ice. In a flash she was in the front of their team with her first two fingers extended forward. Twinkling starlight appeared around her, when all of a sudden scores of copies of her legendary blade appeared in the air. They swung and stabbed all around, protecting the humans within. Under their security they pushed on.
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