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Chapter 825: The Battle for the Universe Begins

    Chapter 825: The Battle for the Universe Begins

    Lan Qing shook his head. "Don't be hasty. We'll call them when we need them the most." He had his plans, the core of which were secret even to Kang Hui and Hua Li.

    Kang Hui couldn't help but admire the Admiral as he looked at his calm façade through the screen. It was more than impressive that he could maintain his composure in the face of this alien threat. No wonder he achieved the rank of admiral so young.

    He made no further complaints. The Eastern leader's fortitude washed away any final doubts he had.

    Middle Heaven didn't stop or slow after the appearance of this mighty impediment, and maintained the same forward momentum. Its honeycomb array of cannons stretched out, smoldering with orange light. They were ready to fire at a moment's notice.

    The three bastions and their twelve support fleets moved into battle formation.

    The center of the alien force was the twelve crocodile titans and the twelve avatars that rode them. The rest of the horde spread out on either side, far enough to avoid taking too much damage from human long-ranged attacks. Measures were taken to even the playing field and reduce their enemy's advantage, learned from a wealth of experience on the battlefield.

    It was necessary. Out here in the emptiness of space there was nowhere to hide, and so long as they were outside of melee distance they were inhibited. What's more, their loss at Angel meant they didn't have a rear force to fall back on.

    Somewhere behind them was Europa and their home worlds, trying desperately to succeed in their own breakthrough. But the aliens didn't fear, they were confident the humans couldn't break their line.

    Lan Qing's guess had been correct, the aliens had not used their full strength at the beginning this war. One important reason was they feared destroying the human soldiers outright would reveal to them how strong they would need to make their next attempt. The creatures didn't want stronger opposition.

    Now the human armada was proving to be more troublesome than they'd predicted. The only way to make sure they were stopped was to finally reveal the strength the aliens had been hiding this whole time. Victory would come at a cost, but it was necessary. If another group of humans of comparable strength showed up, they could negatively impact their masters' evolution.

    And so a dogfight was inevitable where the aliens would try to do as much damage as they could while maintaining their own numbers. As ever their goal was clear - stall for time.

    So far, at least on the surface, they appeared successful. The humans had made it into the solar system's interior, but it'd cost them dearly in time and resources. Every moment brought them closer to the ascension of their home worlds to godhood. Even if the humans sent another group, by the time they got here it would be too late.

    Stretching over two thousand meters tall, the central avatar seemed to lead the others. Its head snapped up, quickly followed by the others. Twelve thunderous roars were released as one from the monsters they rode.

    The waves of sound and energy were so intense they shook the empty space between the two armies. Miniscule cracks appeared in reality as the wave of power headed toward the human ships. A shockwave, their version of a long-ranged attack.

    Lan Jue had provided his brother with more than news of their victory. He'd also handed over a full recording of the encounter, and with it integral information about this massive fiends. Armed with this knowledge Lan Qing had ordered all ships to have their ships on and at full capacity.

    Middle Heaven responded by releasing a barrage of orange light back at them.

    The rays of energy burned holes in the shockwave that bled off its power. Still, the combined ire of twelve Nirvana-level beasts was intrepid.

    Danger to the bastions themselves was limited, large as they were - the worst they might suffer was a good tremor. However, the smaller ships fared less fortunately. A few were blasted out of formation and strained the armada's steel curtain.

    Just then the aliens rushed in like locusts from either side, madly gnashing their teeth and swiping their claws. The titanic monstrosities followed close behind, propelled forward by beating wings. Their target was Middle Heaven.

    The commanders of the alien horde were cunning. They knew the key to routing the armada was to first destroy the largest of them. With Middle Heaven destroyed human morale would plummet. Victory would be in their clawed grasp.

    Standing in the command center, Lan Qing was unfazed by the deadly tide bearing down on them. Instead he only muttered to himself. "This is all you've got?"

    "Interstellar fleets, proceed."

    Helmsmen aboard the scores of human vessels received the order and the ships began to move. The three bastions threw open their hangar bays and belched out clouds of drones. Like launched like guided missiles. Drones were typically between thirty and fifty meters long, though each bastion was equipped with slightly different aircraft.

    Drones from Tyrannosaurus were a sky-blue color and were marked with a dinosaur insignia. They were fifty meters long, equipped with a laser blaster and four antimatter missiles that packed as much punch as a small positron cannon. Only the North, with its deep pockets, could outfit their drones with so much firepower. Neither the North nor West could compare in this regard.

    Poseidon Group, however, was another story. As the richest organization in all of human history, it was impossible to understate how highly they regarded their flagship. Nothing was spared in its construction nor in the fleets that accompanied it. Up to now those fleets had proven their technical superiority, in some ways performing better even than Tyrannosaurus.

    The drones aboard Poseidon were forty meters long, slightly smaller than their Northern counterparts. They were a deep, cobalt blue and had the Poseidon trident emblazoned on their surface. They also bore laser blasters, two instead of one, and six guided missiles. Two of those were antimatter missiles, and the remaining four were soft water bombs. Their destructive power far outstripped Tyrannosaurus' drones, and boasted of Poseidon's wealth.

    Laser fire was the proverbial bread and butter of fighter drones. It's how they stayed in the fight. Missiles were damaging, yes, but more importantly was whether the ships had enough energy reserves to stay in fray longer. Arming these drones with two laser guns proved Poseidon Group's faith that they had enough energy to meet and surpass their brethren from other alliances - the result of extensive scientific research.

    Ten thousand drones were released from the bowels of Tyrannosaurus, a truly stunning number. However, not to be outdone, Poseidon boasted eighteen thousand fighters of their own - even more than the North's fallen Terminator bastion.

    Middle Heaven's drones were white and were marked with the ensign of the Bloodiron Khans. They were a surprising sixty meters long, even larger than Tyrannosaurus'. Were it not for the sheer size of Middle Heaven, it wouldn't be capable of housing very many such machines.

    Although they were long, their construction was exceedingly slender and streamlined. None of them were fitted with missiles, but they did have four laser cannons as replacements. They were specialized to only one mode of combat. Flame decals adorned their tails.

    Three very different classes of fighter drones, each as effective as the last. Poseidon's vessels appeared to be the most punishing, but were also the smallest. Appearances were deceiving. Tyrannosaurus' drones were middle of the road in regards to size, and showed off the North's technical superiority.

    Finally there was Middle Heaven's squadron, largest of the group. However size was not the most important factor in interstellar combat. Larger ships made larger targets for the enemy! What's more they didn't have any missiles as secondary artillery. Contemporary military strategists would conclude they were the weakest of the three classes.

    The four laser cannons were notable, but largely disregarded as laughable especially for Northerners. The North had more bastions - and thus more experience with them - than any other alliance. The drones aboard Tyrannosaurus were the result of all their research and expertise. They struck the perfect balance between attack, speed and maneuverability.
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