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Chapter 885: Success?

    Chapter 885: Success?

    "Poseidon, prepare your main weapon." Kang Hui ordered. He was taking personal command of how this final attack was executed.

    "Soft Water bombs are ready to be deployed!" Hua Li's voice returned. Poseidon's patriarch was also taking full responsibility of his family's bastion.

    "Fire!" Kang Hui said.

    "Fire!" Hua Li echoed.

    Six glittering orbs were belched from Poseidon. Marvelous tails of blue light hung in the darkness of space where they passed on their way toward Europa.

    The destructive capabilities of the Soft Water bombs were put on display more than once in earlier battles. Against living targets it was frighteningly effective, and the most difficult to evade.

    The six bombs quickly reached their destination. They were ingeniously released in a line and slipped into the cloudy surface of Europa one after the other.

    Nothing changed as the first bomb entered, then the second, then the third...

    Once all six bombs disappeared into the fog a reaction became visible. The rolling tide of mist became tumultuous. Barely visible were flashes of blue light as the bombs detonated. They were arranged in a line to detonate at different depths, from the highest reaches of Europa's atmosphere to where the ground presumably hid below.

    Kang Hui had determined it was the best use of Poseidon's weapons. His aim wasn't to harm the planet so much as clear the fog so they could get a glimpse of what lay beneath.

    The aliens had a reason for everything. When Heron's attack disappeared into the fog Kang Hui knew the mists must have some defensive purpose. Perhaps they drained and devoured energy that passed through. If that were true the first step to a successful blow would have to be clearing a path through the fog. Without its protection they could damage the planet.

    His tactics were sound. The cloud cover melted away like snow before the summer sun. Europa's surface was revealed.

    Spectators looked on in surprise. Europa's surface had been painted in a pale purple hue, in contrast to the rich purple of the home worlds that had taken it over. The remains of human structures could be faintly discerned by their long-ranged telescopes, partially obscured by wisps of the fog that remained.

    Kang Hui did not appreciate the beautiful scenery, for he knew the cost of its creation. He continued to deliver his commands.

    "Tyrannosaurus, fire the main gun!"

    Tyrannosaurus' weapons were already aimed and fully charged. Once the order was given its primary cannon released a blazing beam of light right into the channel left by the Soft Water bombs. It sizzled through the darkness of space, a spear ready to skewer the planet like a kebab.

    "Heron, all remaining ships, fire at will!" With Tyrannosaurus' blast on its way Kang Hui ordered the fury of the human armada released on their enemy.

    Without hesitation thousands upon thousands of cannon blasts followed in the wake of Tyrannosaurus' shot. They were all carefully aimed to slip through the same channel, like threading a needle. Poseidon's secondary weapons systems, which packed as much punch as a fleet of capital ships, also spat out a salvo.

    This was their chance to accomplish their goal in one final, decisive stroke. No one held back.

    The resulting explosion was so intense it shook the distant ships. Burst after concussive burst rang in everyone's ears - a sound they would remember for all the rest of their days. Without the protection of the fog the ire of the human armada was heard, though it was difficult to tell how much it was felt. Still, Kang Hui was confident in the capability of their unified assault.

    "Middle Heaven, prepare Terminal Ray!" Kang Hui did not let up.

    Against any normal planet the last hail of cannon fire would have been enough to split it in twain. However, Kang Hui did not want to underestimate their enemy, not in the slightest. Everything they had at their disposal, every weapon and tactic, he wanted thrown at their foes. They wouldn't stop until Europa was a cloud of space dust.

    Flickers of angry amber light appeared around Middle Heaven as several beams were fired at once from different locations. They coalesced in front of the war planet into a single point of light so pregnant with energy space warped around it - Terminal Ray. The last time it was used in combat mankind walked away with several elite vital crystals. Now its aim was to obliterate Europa before it was converted into an alien paradise. To Kang Hui this was the pièce de résistance. The surface of the planet should already been a cratered hellscape, and once Terminal Ray made landfall Europa would be no more. It just needed to drill past the crust and into its core.

    Kang Hui didn't put much stock in the stories of ancient immortal realms. To him the alien evolution was a process of energy consolidation. No matter how strong they got, once their planet was destroyed their evolution was finished.

    At last, humanity's long, dark night was coming to an end!

    The light of expectation glimmered in Kang Hui's eyes. One tortuous event after another had plagued them as they waited for this day! He and his species would survive. Kang Hui imagined seeing his family, heard the cheers of the people as they came back from this bloody campaign. Peace would reign again.

    Suddenly a bone-deep fatigue washed over him. If he could go back he likely wouldn't join the army. He envied the life of the normal man, quiet and peaceful. At the very least he would want a nice, long vacation once this was all finished. Let the military function without him for a time, he could avoid the interviews and galas and feasts.

    The thoughts flitted through his mind, but did not impeded his command.

    "Terminal Ray - fire!" Kang Hui coolly gave the order just as the blasts from Tyrannosaurus and the other ships were dying down.

    Never let up! Let the attacks compound and make each other stronger. Kang Hui had considered everything that required consideration, and took all steps necessary to see this corrupted human planet destroyed.

    Terminal Ray's flash lasted only a moment. In what couldn't have been longer than a fraction of a second, the piercing ray of light buried itself in Europa's surface. The afterimage of its passage was burned in the eyes of spectators.

    Would it be enough? Kang Hui's fists had unconsciously clenched, and he wasn't alone. Every commander of every ship watched in dread anticipation.

    Kang Hui ordered everyone to fall back. Europa was among the largest planets to have been inhabited by humans. Once it exploded the scale of its detonation would cover a vast area. It would be very easy for their whole armada to be wiped out in the aftermath.

    Gradually the lights all faded. The fog surrounding Europa continued to buck and writhe, except for the funnel created by the Soft Water bombs. Why was there no sound of explosion? Did the attack land?

    Uncertainty wormed its way into Kang Hui's mind. He could see clearly through the cavity in the clouds, peered through their telescopes and magnified on his screen. Europa's surface was a world of golden purple, unscathed but for the crater where their attacks had landed. In the place where they'd aimed their barrage was a vortex of purple energy that fiercely swirled.

    In the center of the vortex was a haze of golden orange light. That had to be the residual energy from Terminal Ray's passage. The light began to grow, and as it did the whole of Europa started to shake ever so slightly.

    Success?

    Kang Hui's heart fluttered. He saw the shudders as a sign of impending collapse and ordered everyone to fall back as quickly as they could.

    However it was then he noticed a change in the three planets affixed to Europa. They stretched and became oblate before eventually dissolving onto the surface of Europa. The purple orbs that were once Monarch, Queen and Consort shimmered gold and disappeared into the fog.

    This...

    Was Europa going to explode? When Kang Hui witnessed this scene he was painfully skeptical. If their target planet was going to die, why would the aliens merged with it?

    A voice entered his mind, as cold as it was terrifying.

    "Thank you for your bounty, humans!" The thought was clear and mocking.

    Disquiet filled Kang Hui's heart. He wasn't the only one to hear the voice either - every single soul aboard every vessel heard the voice in their mind.

    "Attack, attack with everything you've got!" Kang Hui shouted.

    The home worlds weren't destroyed, and Europa wasn't going to explode. Kang Hui came to a dark and bitter understanding.

    The effect of this intrusive thought had a dramatic effect on the soldiers. Their attacks were let loose on Europa, but wild and haphazard.

    All four bastions had used their main weapons and needed time to recharge them, especially Middle Heaven. Terminal Ray was especially draining and it would be a while before the East's bastion could use it again.

    The crater that they'd created with their attack was gone. The fog that surrounded Europa was dimmer now and threads of gold were spreading through it. At the same time it settled deeper into the atmosphere and thinned out, giving the beleaguered planet a misty, fantastical air.
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