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Chapter 498: Battle!

    Chapter 498: Battle!

    Lan Jue and the monstrous alien were already close, and the ship's main cannon had a total lock. It wouldn't miss.

    It didn't, but the result was not what he expected. The beam of empowered electric light struck the alien straight on, but instead of obliterating it, the beast instead grew larger. Its seed-like shape morphed before his eyes until it splayed out like an umbrella. It flattened itself out to give the blast more surface area. The only lasting effect seemed to be a halo of blue light that hung over the creature.

    His attack was completely useless. The rapidly advancing monster stopped, and only continued to advance through inertia. Lan Jue urged Zeus-2 to the side, veering out in a graceful arc so he could flank it.

    Clearly this was a monster and not a machine. If it were a construct, then how could it change shape like that? It relied on its physical abilities for defense, not shields or anything else. All of this only confirmed Lan Jue's suspicions.

    The monster swung around as graceful as a flying saucer, picking up speed as it did. It was getting closer.

    Lan Jue kept his eyes on the sensor read-outs. He could now clearly see the scales that ran up and down the length of its body. They appeared to release some kind of strange purple light that hung around them like an atmosphere. Lan Jue figured it must be that light that somehow managed to neutralize his attack. It must be unthinkably strong! The saucer-shaped beast was coming in horizontally, and he could see that its edges were as sharp as the edge of a knife. He didn't want to imagine what would happen if they crashed.

    The ship's engines roared as he picked up speed. It lurched and pitched as the ship changed direction, burning for an escape trajectory. Relatively speaking, Zeus-2 wasn't the most heavily armed ship. However, what it lacked in fire power, it more than made up for in maneuverability.

    Of course, Lan Jue wasn't running. He needed some distance so continue the assault. But even though he looked to be retreating, the monster never stopped. Its body collapsed and returned to its former shape, while plumes of purple light were blasted out from behind. Soon it was racing toward him at the speed of light 1.

    The distance between them was closing. Things were beginning to look bad for the lone blue ship.

    Damn things are so hard to deal with! His was the first thought that raced through Lan Jue's mind. These things were even meaner than he remembered. Running wasn't an option. There was only one thing to do!

    He jabbed at the keyboard, and the ship gained speed. A shell of protective light appeared around him.

    "Zeus-2 has entered in to cruise control. Human Delivery Ordinance, stage one, commencing." The calm, digital voice rang through the cockpit. An electric blue light sprang up around Lan Jue, and warped around him to become a glimmering golden flight suit. Fighting in space was different from fighting in atmosphere, and he had to be ready. Even his head was covered.

    "HuDO, stage two commencing!." Lan Jue's seat retracted and went flat. Behind him, the wall slowly spread apart and Lan Jue was delivered in to the ordinance room like a torpedo being fit in to a tube.

    "HuDO, stage three commencing!" A square-shaped protrusion appeared on the surface of Zeus-2.

    "Firing."

    A piercing blue light blasted from the ship and back toward the chasing monster. Zeus-2 continued on its course. An egg-shaped orb had been spat out from it like a cannon shot, and within it was Lan Jue. An imposing shadow followed in his wake. Thor!

    Zeus-2 wasn't a combat ship, and it didn't have the tools necessary to fully express Lan Jue's abilities. Thor didn't have that problem.

    There was a flash against Thor's breastplate, and Lan Jue vanished in to the mecha. The war machine's eyes flared to life. Immediately, waves of energy began to emanate from it.

    Thor remained in the pocket of light as it barreled toward the encroaching foe. Lan Jue furiously integrated his Discipline with the mecha in preparation. A golden sword of energy coalesced in its metallic hands. He'd chosen the sword as his weapon, so he and his mecha needed to adapt.

    The beast continued at top speed toward Zeus-2. It of course could sense Lan Jue's approach, but paid little mind to the irritating speck. It spread open its mouth to reveal four rows of jagged teeth like mountain ranges, ready to swallow the blue light up.

    Except that Lan Jue was a smart one. His speed bled to zero, maintaining a safe distance from his target. He then fired thrusters and shot the mecha upward. This both prevented impact damage and cut down on unpredictable outcomes.

    But the creature lashed out with its gnashing teeth, and caught the edge of Thor's booster. Crack! Thor shuddered as the enormous bite force caused the thruster to buckle.

    Lan Jue's combat experience was vast, so he knew how to react. In addition, it could be said that he'd improved in almost every way from his last encounter with these beasts. While his Discipline may not be the same rank it was, it had been tempered, and his control had improved.

    His hand speed was now around eighty commands per second. Thor suddenly flared in to a blazing point of light, and drilled in to the creature's mouth. Its great maw was closed, with the ruined slag of Thor's thruster in its teeth. Lan Jue and his suit were somewhere in the depths of its mouth.

    The creature was big, but its perception was razor sharp. In a matter of moments, it knew that something inside itself was different. The slimy walls of its innards rolled and contracted, trying to dislodge the irritant. Thor's exterior flood lights revealed the meaty surroundings, which shone back at him with an unsettling luster.

    Speed wouldn't save him from the crushing pressure of the monster's intestines, but Lan Jue didn't panic. If he didn't have a plan, he wouldn't be here. His previous encounters with these creatures taught him what they were capable of, but everything had its weakness - even if it was three patrol ships long. Nature had rules, and that was that the outside was always tougher than the inside. Even a Bastion ship could be destroyed from the inside.

    The peristalsis didn't come alone. Soon a flood of purple, caustic fluid came rushing through. Thor reacted by releasing a corona of purplish-blue light. The golden sword in its hand swung around, and dug viciously in to the meaty floor.

    However, he was shocked to discover resistance. His sword was imbued with traces of protogenia, and yet something still fought back. The rolling waves of contracted became quick and erratic. Still, though, the sword would not cut through.

    No wonder this tiny thing allowed me to eat it, the creature must have thought. It thinks it has a way out.

    Flickers of intense light flashed in Lan Jue's eyes. He fearlessly called upon the power of his Discipline to burst out and empower Thor. The violet light it released suddenly lit up and became a dazzling gold. It began to spin, faster and faster until it was a blazing drill bit with all his power directed straight down through the sword.

    "Squelch!" At last the sword pierced monster's flesh, and in that instant a rush of electrical current fired out from Lan Jue in all directions. The current put the beast's innards into a spasm and stopped the crushing waves.

    The light in Lan Jue's eyes blazed ever brighter, and he fought further through the intractable meat of the creature. Bolts of golden lightning thick as a man continued to barrage the alien from the inside. Its shielding was beginning to show signs of weakening.

    It was in pain. Suspended in the vacuum of space, the creature cut off its chase and began to writhe in agony. It appeared its last meal didn't agree with it, but regret solved nothing. Throwing it up also appeared easier said than done. It thrashed and wretched in attempts to dislodge the painful invader, by this time Thor was already through in to the monster's organs.

    Thor was surrounded by the mangled innards of the beast. Lan Jue looked around for just a moment, then took advantage - as a temporary guest - to fill the inside of the creature with a full-strength Forest of Lightning.

    From outside, the alien monster contracted every muscle in its body, twisting itself in to a tortured ball. Beams of golden light began to creep out from fissures in its surface. Lan Jue was filling it with attack power comparable of a battleship, and the enormously powerful beast could do nothing.

    The golden light continued to rage inside and flicker without. Its great girth contracted until it could no longer move.

    Several minutes passed in stillness, then...

    Poof! An orb of golden light drilled straight through the monster's skull. Out in the silence of space, its muscles finally released as it died. Its corpse hung suspended in the darkness, and would remain there for eternity.

    Thor cut through the vacuum of space like a blazing star, while errant bolts of lightning erupted from it every which way. Its resplendent surface gleamed with electric power, and no trace of the grimy depths it had just traversed were visible.

    Behind it, the great beast heaved, and then the light of its life went out.

    Thor cut its thrusters and hung motionless in the air. It lifted its great hand to reveal a crystalline, spindle-like object. It looked similar to the one from Taihua, though smaller. What was strange, however, was what it released. Waves of strange, heterogeneous energy poured from it among a mist of purple vapor.

    This just confirmed what Lan Jue already knew. This creature was the same kind that attacked Taihua, but since he has never seen the planets they purportedly came from, he couldn't say if they were connected.

    1. Which, for those curious, is - according to google - 299,792,458 meters per second. A turd coming at you that fast would drill a hole through you and the planet you stood on, much less a giant purple turd monster.
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