“My name is Leython Dygonn, did you ever hear about me? Did you ever fight me?”
“Leython Dygonn?” The enemy answered and Leython thought he could hear a slight trace of suprise in her voice. “You’re supposed to be dead. You were killed in a battle between the UEF and the Cybrans. Now tell me who you really are!”
“I am Leython Dygonn. I survived the battle against the Cybrans and worked with them ever since.” Leython answered, while he started to construct an air factory.
“Then I will have the pleasure in killing you. I can still avenge my sister’s death.”
“What was your sister’s name?”
“Lisa Thazin.” The pilot snarled.
“I never heard of her.” Leython said immediately.
“Why do you people always lie?!” The commander said furiously. “You killed her at the planet called Sethis.”
“She didn’t introduce herself to me.” Leython answered calmly.
“I am Felicity Thazin,” finally, Leython had a name, “and I will avenge my older sister’s death.” She repeated.
“That isn’t the reason for you to be here. You didn’t even know I was still alive when you were sent to this planet. Why are you here.”
“That is none of you business. Farewell.” And commander Thazin closed the channel.
“Oh great, really awesome!” Leython said angrily. “I came to this planet to search for an exiled commander, not for a fanatic.”
Within some minutes, the first group of five hover tanks arrived at Leython’s base. The enemy didn’t use a scout. One well aimed overcharge bolt destroyed them all. Nonetheless, it was a disturbing thought. Such a move was either one out of inexperience or out of an abundance of units. The images his air scouts sent to him told Leython it was the latter. Hover tanks were everywhere.
They were located at mass extractors and at the many passage entrances around. Finally, Leython found the enemy base itself and sighed in relief. She didn’t upgrade any of her factories. Yet.
The fact that she too was still at the tier one stage didn’t give him a reason to take it easy though. The Aeon commander had surely seen the air scouts and was probably going to build anti-air units. This brought a problem in Leython’s plans. He had grown fond of the Cybran tier one bomber and it’s cluster bombs. Those had the same effect as the ACU’s overcharge function to hover tanks.
Several minutes later, the enemy lines grew solid, as Leython hadn’t mounted a single attack yet. He knew that he couldn’t delay that assault for an indefinite time. While he built tier one bombers and upgraded his very limited economy, the enemy could finally decide it was time to attack or to start a tech two production line. If it was the former, there was no problem, but in case of the latter, Leython knew that he was in for some trouble. Zeus bombers just didn’t do it quite well against a shielded army comprising heavy tanks and mobile flak vehicles.
Several minutes later...
Having finally upgraded his own land factory to the second tier, with the three mass extractors that were directly available for him, he built tier two engineers and started to produce tanks and stealth generators. Perhaps he could win this battle after all, Leython thought while he sent his bombers up in the air. He finally had an impressive armada and allowed the air units to attack.
Air scouts flew over the enemy lines, constantly revealing their targets. Leython had the time to target the enemy tanks and he needed it. Without Shilon’s support, giving all units their own target took him a long time.
Coming closer by the second, the bombers still encountered no problems. Leython knew that already, because his air scouts provided him with excellent intelligence. It was time to build some radar towers though.
Suddenly, several groups, consisting out of five interceptors appeared.
“I’m surprised.” Leyton said, opening a public channel. “You can become the most dangerous enemy I have ever faced. If you were just a bit more experienced.”
“I am the most dangerous enemy you have ever faced. That’s because I will cleanse you.”
“I have no idea about how this battle will end, but I’m certain that I won’t die. You have surprised me but that is thanks to your advantage in time and the fact that I’m not really used to working alone. I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Yet, no ‘Oh my god I’m dying’-feeling.” Leython said.
“I will not disappoint you. You’ll see the end of your decadent life soon enough.” The Aeon pilot replied and she closed the channel.
The interceptors had taken out Leython’s bombers already, but not before most of the Zeus type air units had dropped their payload and decimated the enemy army. Nonetheless, it was not over yet.
The Aeon still outnumbered him.
Perhaps no longer on the ground, because the small groups of tanks that were left could easily be destroyed by the few heavy tanks Leython had. However, Leython made a critical mistake by not preparing for fighter squads and now he paid the price.
As if it weren’t enough, he had also lost half of his air scouts.
The drums of war had finally caught up with her. Marisa stood up and walked towards the cliff. This planet had been her home for two and a half years now. There could be only one logical reason: Leython Dygonn had found her, finally.
Marisa expected him to be here sooner, but apparently, that wasn’t the case. Why? The mysterious enemy she had faced only once, who came from the UEF but showed more of harmony than many of her Aeon friends, he had one more question to answer: what took him so long?
Not that his prolonged absence irritated Marisa, she was interested in all the adventures that mister Dygonn had faced since they left Sinivar Island. By the looks of it, this challenge was going to be a serious one, the ‘princess’ concluded while she looked at the scene with her binoculars.
She saw a couple of Aurora tanks hovering alongside the dozens of wrecks. Apparently, Leython had built massive groups of UEF bombers. The federation type of units could never take down nine or even ten in one pass, for as far as she knew. The only bomber could ever achieve such a thing, was the Cybran bomber.
The only possible conclusion Marisa could think of, was that mister Dygonn had an abundance of air units. He outnumbered his enemy and would surely win. She stopped looking, turned and wanted to take a bath in the small river three hundred meters further away when, alarmed by remembering it, she recognized the unknown wreck amongst the auroras.
The wreck was the result of a shot down Cybran bomber.
Building another group of three bombers seemed a waste, especially in the knowledge of the enemy’s air superiority, but it was an efficient sacrifice. When the interceptors attacked and took down his bomber armada, he also lost most of his intelligence capabilities. Now it was time to regain it.
Leython sent the bombers to the few tier one tank groups to destroy them. It took down the remainder of the Aeon’s land army and distracted the interceptors. It gave the opportunity to send the leftover air scouts on the scout vast area around the enemy’s base.
Less than twenty seconds later, the interceptors appeared on Leython’s screen: the bombers’ limited visual range gave them away for the little time they still flew. Those interceptors would be falling like leafs seconds later.
“His tactic repeated. At Sinivar, he sent the evacuees by air transports.” Marisa said to herself. She had to observe the battle for a tad longer. It was incredible to use these binoculars, with it, she could easily look at things that were ten kilometres away.
“I had to send my entire air force at those to make an impression at the Avatar-of-War and look like an Aeon fanatic. Naturally, that’s what I did but I knew it was too good to be true and yes, this situation is too good to be true for mister Dygonn’s enemy as well.”
Marisa saw how the Conservator fighters were destroyed instantaneously, while three flak guns were dropped by the Aeon’s enemy. Despite for the fact that these were Cybran units, it had to be Leython. Only he could create such a powerful trap.
Confident that it couldn’t end up wrong, Marisa turned around again and started to walk. This time, she wouldn’t peek again. There was a bath waiting for her.
“You trapped me?!” Felicity said angrily.
“And it gets worse. Right now, air scouts fly all over your base and the region around it.” Leython said, once again he revealed no emotion while he sent new air transports everywhere. These transports carried just one engineer, which were going to build radar towers. It was a tested strategy, an old one and a predictable one, but a successful one.
Three minutes later, Leython knew everything about his enemy. She had a tier two army comparable to his in size and firepower, but possessed a massive group of hover tanks once again. This time, she seemed to be fed up with the battle. She sent everything she had, giving Leython no chance to build enough bombers against the tier one tanks, especially because the Aeon pilot sent shield generators with them.
Leython was outnumbered on the ground, making air the only viable option. He had to retreat to a safer spot, although...
Some key words came into mind: retreat, air, tier two army, an enemy who was sending everything she had, towards him, in other words, away from her base.
While Leython planned to retreat with his ACU, using the tier two army slow the enemy down a little bit, his plans changed. The word ‘retreat’ was swapped with the word ‘attack’, while the rest of his key words remained what they were, but had a whole different meaning now.
The word air, which meant ‘Prowlers” at first, now stated the use of transports. Initially, the tier two army had to give Leython some time while he retreated, but the intelligence expert gave it the main role in attacking the enemy ACU. But it probably wasn’t enough.
“Escape craft? I can build it with my ACU? It’s got sixteen missiles?” Leython asked rhetorically. “Doctor Brackman, I’m going to use the corsair as an assault craft.” Leython said to himself.
On Earth, in general Clarke’s office...
“Are you sure about this, Lancet?”
“Yes general.” The lieutenant answered.
“Too much has happened in the last few years.” Jeff said, sadness engulfed his voice.
“Such as?” Clarke asked.
“You know what happened. You got my file on your desk.” Sadness immediately changed in fury. “I lost five colleagues in the past year and now Leython appears to be fighting against me...”
“Is it about that? Leave it and forget him.” The general answered simply.
“You may be without emotion, general,” snarled Jeff, “but I am not. The war takes its toll on people like me. You may be able to see your friends die or your comrades perish, but I can’t. I was able to leave it and concentrate on my missions again, but now I have seen that Leython is not dead but actually fighting alongside the Cybrans, it’s...”
“it’s too much for me.” Jeff said after a couple of seconds of silence.
“Very well.” Clarke concluded. “Your file will be processed today. By midnight exactly, you are no longer in the UEF army. Be aware that you’ll have to get all of your personal belongings as soon as possible.”
“I know general.”
“Then hereby, you have officially resigned.”
Jeff left Clarke’s office without a word.
“He just left?” Dostya asked, stunned by Leython’s sudden action. Brackman had informed her about it.
“Yes, he just left.” The doctor answered simply.
“How can he do such a thing?! We need him.”
“Ordering him to stay here would be against my principles, Dostya. In the Cybran Nation, it is an accepted norm to make oneself of use. Thanks to the Infinite War, Cybran’s only think of saving other Cybrans and fighting for their own freedom as the greatest good.
Freedom is the one thing that we have to work for, the one thing that we have to fight for. The thing is, you all sacrifice your own needs for the collective, for the community. It is hard work, day in, day out. However, sometimes it is better to have some rest, to have a vacation.” Brackman said.
“We can’t afford it. Not with the UEF on our tails and the Avatar-of-War wanting nothing but to exterminate us.” Dostya said harshly.
“Then why do we free the Cybrans if we are just going to get them to work again. The ideals are motivating, I know that and I can’t object to it. After all, I want all Symbionts to be free as much as you do. I work as hard for it as you do.”
“Then what is the problem? And what has this got to do with Dygonn?” The annoyed elite-commander asked.
“If someone makes himself of use, he deserves to be rewarded. We mustn’t liberate people to make them work for us without compensation. Then they might eventually feel that they’re not free at all. A person deserves a day off, something the vast majority of the Cybran Nation’s citizens never had. That is the answer to your fist question.” Brackman said.
“Ok, so you gave Dygonn his vacation?”
“No, he just took it and I doubt it will be like a real vacation. He’ll still have to work, but it’ll be more rewarding.”
“He took it?”
“And I just let him go.” Brackman replied calmly. “Don’t forget that I told him I’d allow him to leave if he wanted. If he wanted to go to the UEF, he could do so. If he wanted to join the Aeon, he could do so.” The doctor said, while looking at a data-matrix.
“Something I still think of as a very, very bad idea, doctor.” Dostya replied.
“Because he could leak information about us, to either the Federation president or the Avatar-of-War?”
“Do not forget this. He can be trusted with the most incriminating secrets. He didn’t say a single thing about the UEF technology.”
“But he did tell about the Matar Fortress, eventually. That allowed us to free thousands of Symbionts.” The elite-commander objected.
“And that was the reason for him to leak intel. Because of that, he could fight for freedom. You may not have noticed it, but he was having a hard time choosing between the UEF and the Cybran Nation. At first, he saw it as two opposite things, like good and evil.
However, when he gave the matter more thought, he could determine what the best thing was to do, he could fight for the Cybran while not damaging the UEF ideals. That’s what he did. He didn’t do anything that seriously endangered the UEF.” Brackman said, finally looking Dostya in her eyes.
“Had he returned to the Federation, then he’d never fight against us so ruthlessly as he would if he never met us. He would never leak intel and the only pilots he’d show no mercy would be the Assumpta, because they show no mercy either.
You can trust Leython Dygonn. He’d never do anything against his ideals.” Brackman concluded.
“I understand. I understand why you wouldn’t stop him from leaving, but I have a question: what would you do if I’d say I’d leave.”
“I’d ask you to find a new elite-commander for me. Someone who is as skilled as you are. I couldn’t force you to do so, but I know that I never even have to ask because you wouldn’t leave before ensuring the prolonged safety of all Symbionts.”
“You know me all too well, doctor.” Dostya said.
One transport carrying one engineer. It left Leython’s base to build a small outpost seven kilometres away. That engineer would build a land factory, a power generator and a mass extractor. If the Aeon commander destroyed his ACU before he took out hers, then Leython could still fly to this outpost and leave the planet alive when he wanted to.
It was going to take a long time before he wanted to leave though. First, he wanted to meet that other Aeon commander. The one who was exiled. The one who like many others, according to the rumours Leython heard at the UEF, was about to be ordered to go to a planet with nothing but a survival kit. The one who left before the Aeon could exile her. The one who did have an ACU here. The one who didn’t come to his aid.
However, what made Leython think she was witnessing this battle in the first place? She could be anywhere on the planet.
Yet, that sensation he felt. He couldn’t explain it, but she was near. Maybe not so very near as he hoped to be, but within a range of one hundred kilometres perhaps?
He still had to search for this commander he knew only by the letters ‘MZG’, but that would come later.
First, he had to take out Felicity Thazin, too bad for her. She might have been able to retreat, if she had upgraded her land factory to tier three and would have built a quantum gateway. It was too late now.
While Leython saw the Aeon army march onward, coming closer to the base by the second and crushing one tree after another, he took a different approach. The enemy had lost all of her air units, thanks to his mobile flak guns.
With his Corsair, he flew through the sky, escorted by interceptors and followed by air the air transports that held every Rhino tank and Mantis heavy assault bot he had at the moment he took off.
He left the Aeon army behind, that would be able to fire in thirty seconds. Some quickly built point defences had to destroy enough units so that his ACU wouldn’t be destroyed before he killed the Aeon commander. Leython didn’t trust this plan though. It was likely to fail due to the enemy army’s size.
Using tier one bombers to decimate the enemy hover tanks was out of the question. The army had the shield generators’ protection. He didn’t dare to use a transport to leave. He hadn’t even built one and it was surely going to be so unlucky that it was destroyed at the moment it took off, seriously damaging, if not destroying the command unit.
Ordering the ACU to leave by foot was not possible either. The only way out was straight into the Aeon commander’s army.
Leython’s only conclusion was that he had no choice but to execute his plan. Something he knew already, but was confirmed now that the first point defence tower was destroyed.
His ACU was as standing near a cliff, as far away from the Aeon army as possible, which would give him another ten seconds. Every single second was crucial in order to save the command unit.
Thirteen seconds before his own army would land. The Aeon commander aimed her main cannon at the moment Leython flew past her. The ACU turned around and fired an overcharge bolt to take him down, but with a sudden manoeuvre, the shot missed and disappeared in the air.
Tanks and bots dropped on the ground, turning their guns. Leython flew higher and higher, still surrounded by his interceptors but he wasn’t interested in his own course. He switched his to the ACU’s control console in his fighter and ordered it to fire an overcharge shot by himself, destroying six enemy tanks. While it did so, Leython gave movement orders to each of his tier two units. They had to scatter around the enemy ACU. Another supercharged bolt was fired by her, this time it had more effect and it destroyed two Rhino tanks and two Mantii.
Both command units were being damaged rapidly, but both fought back well. Leython’s ACU didn’t move, but Leython did. He finally turned around and descended as quickly as possible, forcing the interceptors into a myriad of turns to follow. It had the look of an air show, but there was no one to show off to.
His ACU was about to be destroyed, while the one enemy tank after another dropped dead. His point defences were ignored while the Aeon army had moved on to deal with the power plants, mass extractors, factories and ultimately the ACU. Because the enemy shield generators stopped working for some reason, the Auto-gun and Cerberus destroyed one hover tank after another, reducing the army’s firepower. It slowed the enemy down in taking his heavily damaged command unit out, but the tanks would still succeed if Leython let her.
Luckily, the Aeon ACU was almost taken as well. Unfortunately, his small army was completely destroyed. Still, there was always an answer and this answer came in the form of sixteen missiles. Within two seconds, all of the small rockets were launched and went straight for the enemy. Leython fired his weapons from the maximum range possible, because he had to turn around and leave as soon as possible for him to survive the nuclear blast.
The light emerging from the explosion allowed Leython to see even with his eyes closed, but he calmed down. The enemy was gone and he was still flying. While the base and all of the enemy units were destroyed, Leython turned towards his ACU. Amazingly, it still stood, but barely.
The Armored Command Unit’s self-regeneration system was destroyed, it’s logic array was gone as well, making it impossible for him to give his orders properly. The armour was completely gone and, as if it weren’t enough, the core could breach at any moment. Leython knew what he had to do to prevent his unit from blowing up.
He immediately shut the unit down, allowing the core to cool down and thus saving his command unit from exploding. Having put the engineer he sent away under his fighter’s control, as well as the buildings his engineer had built, he knew he could get away if he wanted to.
But he didn’t want to leave. Now, he could finally do what he came for and another advantage of the Corsair escape craft design came in handy. The radars, omni sensors and spy planes were all equipped with the most advanced sensor systems, but they disregarded the smaller energy sources.
Spy planes didn’t bother with humans walking in the wilderness that was the ACU’s warzone, but the Corsair’s sensors did. It was stunning, how much live forms Leython saw. Most were small and thanks to QAI’s incredible database, they were recognized as birds, foxes or fish. One live form was significantly larger, just two kilometres away. This system was more advanced than Leython could ever dream of. The downside was that it couldn’t be used in a battle, but where would he face a battle now?
Marisa knew it when the blinding light emerged from behind the cliff. Just when she was about to get dressed again, after washing herself in the small river, the enemy commander was killed. Mister Dygonn had succeeded. Her hair still wet, she decided it was time for some tea.
Ironic. She was thinking about tea and calmly stepped through the large bushes that hid her small estate, but a live was destroyed. Every live was worth saving, but she knew that this commander was a fanatic who underestimated her enemy. Despite for the fact that death should have been avoided, Marisa didn’t despise herself for not joining the battle to save both pilots. She couldn’t help but think that it was better for the Avatar’s fanatic puppets to be destroyed, even not while she could’ve been the Illuminate princess.
Now, she sat in the forgotten region, the dark area of the universe, yet she still was a princess. She had the whole planet for herself, had the time to do whatever she wanted and she actually loved it. Not the best way to be the Aeon Illuminate’s leader, but it surely didn’t mean she had given in to decadency? Perhaps a little bit, Marisa thought, smiling.
While she sipped from her tea she could hear a plane coming. It was time to share her world with someone else. It was time to share her live with someone else...
Leython landed, the live form appeared to be sitting behind the bushes. Was she hiding? Was she waiting. The suspense of not knowing who this would be, who he would be meeting was excruciating, but why? He knew who this would be. He knew that the person who he was about to meet, was like his sword mastery teacher Lyndis, but of his age.
What was wrong with him? Was it the fear for the fact that he was emotionless? The fear for saying that he wasn’t interested in her daily issues, something that had turn many dates into a disaster? But he expected the Aeon to care less about an ideal weight or the perfect look nonetheless.
Lyndis said that those with a clear mind knew that the perfect look was the most comfortable one. The Aeon were said to be brainwashers with their crazy philosophy, but this one was different. She managed to make him think, really think. Her philosophy couldn’t differ so much from Lyndis.
All thoughts entered Leython’s mind at the same time. At a different moment, he didn’t know of anything to say at the beginning, except for ‘hello’, in the dumbest way ever. This moment was different and not because he was about to meet the most special girl he knew of. It was because of the pilot he killed. The ACU he destroyed. It forced him to warn her of the radiation a ruptured core caused.
Leython stood five metres away from the bushes. He took a deep breath and finally spoke:
“Madam, I am Leython Dygonn and I am sorry to interrupt and although it would be nice to meet a friendly face, I have got to warn you first. I destroyed an Armored Command Unit and as you probably know, that causes radiation. I suggest to move by about four kilometres.”
“Do not worry, mister Dygonn.” A soft female voice sounded from behind the bushes. Leython heard she was standing up now. “The Aeon command unit has got a so-called ‘clean core’. There is no radiation coming from it, not even in case of an explosion. I must say, you did a good job in taking out the enemy. She had a lead of several minutes.” The Aeon female said while she stepped though the bushes.
For the first time in his entire live, Leython was stunned.
“I am Marisa Zelda Gawain.” The most beautiful girl Leython had ever seen, said. She wore no piloting suit, but a orange shirt and jeans she apparently made by herself and would’ve been a popular choice of girls in a summer on Earth.
Feeling himself incredibly stupid, Leython saw Marisa walk towards him: “We already met at Sinivar, you are a brilliant commander.”
The calm voice comforted Leython, allowing him to get a hold of himself. He smiled friendly, but didn’t say anything, this time because he wanted Marisa to speak again. Apparently, she noticed it and immediately spoke again:
“Welcome on Tessalis.”
However, Leython entered the warzone via the quantum network, unlike the others. The UEF commander was no fool. He located the quantum wake’s eruption and ordered his experimental artillery to fire.
“I’ve got a transport on the move,” Redfog said, “keep walking about!”
“I know, I’m moving to the point where the latest shell landed, there’s little chance that the artillery will hit me there, despite for its outstanding accuracy.”
“Air superiority fighters are on the move.” The Tip of The Spear said. “Those will protect you for the time being. You’re going towards Redfog’s base and we’ll think of a useful job for you when you arrive.”
Three minutes later, Leython landed safely in Redfog’s base. He came up with a new plan immediately.
“I’ll upgrade my ACU with a teleporting module, a microwave laser and the tier three upgrade. Then, I’ll go to the other side of the battlefield. That will be out of your ACU’s effective range, but just inside the enemy’s range.”
“That’s downright suicide.” Dostya said.
“I’ve carefully checked the field around the fortress when we were preparing the assault. I will teleport in a small lake. The only thing that the UEF will have near the water, are the available mass extractors and perhaps some engineers and to prevent that I might be detected by those units.”
“You plan ahead.” The Elite-Commander concluded.
“Of course I do. I never act without planning ahead.”
“A sound strategy, but what do you want to gain with it?” Redfog asked.
“Breaking the balance. In my ACU, I can assist you in keeping the base online while the Mavor pounds everything outside the stealth generators’ protection. At the other side of the warzone, I can make him divert his forces and then you can finally attack.”
Leython had left Redfog’s base while it was being pounded by the Mavor artillery, the enemy had finally found it. Dostya and The Tip of The Spear did their utmost best to stop the constant stream of UEF tanks, assault bots and air units. The units were all commanded by one pilot and Leython had seen that his allies were having a very hard time in standing their ground.
So this was what happened if the UEF had a maximum of two hours as an advantage: three of the best commanders around were kept in check. However, if one enemy initiated a backdoor attack, then the fortress would crumble.
If he, only he, could’ve designed the fortress on his own, without anyone interfering, then the advantage of two hours would be one of two years. In the end however...
In the end, it was for the better that his design was said to be too expensive. If that was built, then he wouldn’t be able to get his hands on the data he wanted.
Half an hour later...
No information from Redfog, Dostya or The Tip of the Spear. No word from Shilon. Not a single message from Brackman. Within twelve hours, complete radio silence for a second time. Working in secret was nice, what he actually liked most, but the problem was that everything that happened to his allies, was a secret to him.
It bugged him. Dostya could fire her last shots now, before her ACU exploded. She could just as well make the UEF commander fire his last shots. The problem was that Leython had no intel and therefore he had no control.
Omni sensors scattered around his own warzone. He did have intel here, he did have control. His enemy didn’t know anything about it. Leython had deliberately left the mass extractors intact, as well as the engineers that moved about. The enemy had built some omni sensors, but not enough to prevent the intelligence expert from sneaking through the net. It limited Leython to the extractors that were inside his ACU’s range, but too far away for the enemy’s. It gave him a disadvantage in resources that was no problem.
As long as he had the time to prepare, there was nothing to worry about. It’d take him some time though.
An hour later...
Three Plan B submarines moved slowly but steadily forward. By every minute, they came closer to the enemy’s base. Steadily moving and unseen, they prepared their nuclear missiles. The UEF commander still didn’t know that Leython was even around, to his east, while he was holding his frontline intact against Dostya, Redfog and The Tip of The Spear.
However, Leython’s secret appearance would be made public at anytime now.
To ensure the safety of his submarines, he had built a distraction fleet and sent it towards the enemy base as well, but on a different course altogether. The destroyers, cruisers and even a battleship would alarm the enemy.
The UEF pilot would probably switch his Mavor’s targets to take down Leython’s fleet, but the real threat, the Plan Bs, were able to move on unnoticed and ultimately launch their missiles. The fleet could be a redundant element in Leython’s strategy, as the submarines could only be detected by an omni sensor and a sonar system.
The intelligence expert did not scout, a move that was part of his plan. Nonetheless, he thought it’d be safe to assume that his enemy didn’t have either sonars nor tier three sensor system. Why would he, if he did not think about the possibility of an enemy teleporting in his back yard.
Five minutes later, the submarines arrived at their destination. Leython could hit his targets now. Three economy plants, tier three artillery systems and nuclear missile launchers. The Dukes, as Leython remembered their names, were cheaper than a Mavor, but had a negligible range compared to their experimental counterpart, especially in a warzone that grew as wide as this.
However, five tier three artillery could decimate an army when it was on the move and slipped through the Mavor’s nets. Those had to be destroyed for the Cybran’s advance to be successful.
The nuclear silos, for clear reasons, were going to be destroyed as well. The UEF commander had found Redfog’s base a minute before Leython teleported and the SMDs were easy targets for a Mavor. Then, some missiles were powerful enough to take down Redfog’s base.
The only problem was, taking out the enemy’s missile defences. All were protected with some point defences, as The Tip of The Spear pointed out just before Leython teleported. Brackman’s personal agent had provided Leython with the best example of waging the intelligence war. Now, the former UEF pilot envied him.
Leython’s presence was a secret, but he couldn’t scout his battlefield. His enemy may be blind, but the situation was just the same for him. The only information Leython had, was about the enemy base. Then again, that was all he needed at the moment.
“All Symbionts are safe.” Shilon said.
“Well done, Shilon, well done.” Brackman replied. “They will be treated as soon as possible. The progress will, as you know, take some days or several years.”
“I haven’t forgotten. It took me seventeen months.”
“Tell me Shilon, when are you ready to take up your family name again?” Brackman asked the twenty-three years old man.
“Do you remember what you said shortly after we... ‘seized’ Leython?” The doctor asked rhetorically. “You said that wounds will never heal if the matter hasn’t been dealt with.”
“When I said that, I meant that you’d need all information, so you can deal with the matter with a clear mind. I am driven by my past and I will not stop fighting until the work has been done, which is impossible if you do not know anything. However, how you resolve the issue, is entirely up to you. Or me, in my case.”
“What has this got to do with your family name? You never told me.”
“I still know everything about my past. What caused it. I had the means to resolve my issue at the moment I was freed and that’s what I did.”
“But that is no reason to sever your only tie with your family, is it Shilon?”
“It is, doctor. It is. My own parents signed me up for the Symbiont program when I was sixteen years old. I was to make some money for the family. They never saw me back.”
“They must be devastated to realize that they’d never hear anything from you again.”
“Good riddance, you may try to make me forgive, by letting me be named by my family name again, but I think of the ultimate revenge, when I object to it.”
Shilon’s words were cold as ice and Brackman knew that there was no retort left. He had expected Shilon to say this, but there was still a chance to try to make him forgive the events of the past. The Symbiont was clear though.
“Shilon, I have another thing for you to do, now that all Symbionts are safe and the remaining pilots at the settlement will go via the other Matar gates. I need you to go to Dygonn. He arrived at the fortress, to bring it down with our three best pilots.”
“I’m going to take control of his units again?”
“That’s correct. It appears that mister Dygonn has successfully nuked the enemy. Redfog told me that there were three nuclear explosions. You’ll have to teleport to his base first. Leython’s location is still unknown, even to me. Only Redfog knows where he went to. He and Leython designated the exact destination. You will have to ask him about Leython’s whereabouts.”
“Why is he the only one who knows?” Shilon asked.
“We want to prevent the UEF to find out where he exactly is. That’s why Redfog is the only one who knows.”
“Do you really think that the UEF has not found him by –” The Symbiont started, but Brackman cut him off:
“Quiet Shilon, anything you say will give compromise Leython’s position.” The doctor said hastily. “Just go to Redfog, he’ll explain the rest of it.”
“Roger that, doctor.” Shilon replied.
“Good that you’re here, Shilon. I nuked the base a few minutes ago. I’ll transfer my units to you and tell what’s going on.” Leython said and with a few clicks on his console, he transferred every combat unit he had. After another couple of clicks, Shilon had the required energy for the units’ stealth generators to run.
“If the UEF hear a single word about me being exactly here, they’ll send forces and kill me in no time. I managed to arrive in secret, because I teleported, but if the UEF would’ve picked up a transmission with Brackman in which anyone speaks of my backdoor assault, the commander will be searching for me. I also didn’t tell Dostya or The Tip of The Spear. Redfog was the closest to me and therefore we could set up a very weak but highly encrypted signal to still talk with each other. That makes him the only one who knows where I am.”
“But how did Brackman know that you’d need my help?” Shilon asked.
“He doesn’t, but he knows that the two of us work better than any other team does. Or we at least come close to the top of that list.” Leython answered, while he sent his Plan B submarines away from the place they launched their missiles.
“So he just contacted Redfog and told that I was coming to assist you and that he had to tell where exactly you are?”
“No, Redfog contacted Brackman and then he told you. Move the fleet to the north east.”
“Got it.” The Symbiont said and he gave the fleet its new orders. “But that means that your location is disclosed.” He said, wanting to know everything about Leython’s plan
“Only my presence is disclosed. Not my location. However, it was revealed at the moment that I launched the nukes. The UEF commander managed to send spy planes across our allies’ bases for numerous times and knows that they don’t have nuclear silos. He also knows about the Plan B subs and that our allies couldn’t have built one, because there’s no water anywhere near. That only leaves a fourth enemy for the UEF to fight. Me.”
“I get it.” Shilon said while he sent his fleet further. “Since your presence is known, Brackman can freely talk about that.”
“Exactly.” Leython said, building another group of nuclear submarines. “And then you went to Redfog and so the assassin could tell exactly where I was.”
“How much spy planes have flown around here already?” Shilon asked.
“I haven’t seen an air unit on radar yet, but I expect –” Leython started, but the facts were ahead of his expectations: “—there’s the first one! So he did send planes to every location within his ACU’s range.”
“That’d be the smartest option. If he’d only send some to his north, it’d take him hours before he finds us.”
“You’re right, but now he knows in some minutes, if we’re lucky. We’ve got to prepare for that Mavor. I’ll take the air units under control again. I can respond faster to whatever comes into the sensor’s range.”
Ten minutes later...
“Dostya, Dygonn managed to deal with the tier three artillery, but not with the Mavor. That is the one thing that keeps us busy and the enemy’s going to complete a second ne as well.” Redfog said.
“Do you want to contact him?” Dostya asked. “If the UEF still doesn’t know where he is, they might find out by our channel.”
“He’s had enough time without any UEF interference now. Whatever happens, the Mavor can’t choose between him or us, it can’t turn it’s barrel so quickly to keep all four of us busy. If the UEF commander chooses to attack Dygonn, we can finally move out. If he keeps concentrating on us, then Dygonn can apply pressure in just the way he pleases. Dygonn was a little too cautious in hiding his position.
Dostya couldn’t object to what the assassin said, but she didn’t have to. Leython had already tried to open a channel with Redfog: “I have been discovered.” He said when Redfog accepted Leython’s request.
“That means that the enemy’s got to choose now.” Redfog said.
“No.” The Tip of The Spear interrupted. He, like the others, saw a quantum wake eruption. “He retreated.”
“Clarke probably gave the order.” Leython said. “The UEF lost too many pilots on this battle. How many did we lose?”
“Two.” Dostya said. “The UEF lost at least seven.” In the far distance, all UEF structures exploded. The commander had been gone for too long.
“Ok, will the fortress be evacuated as well?” Shilon asked, who joined the conversation now.
“It probably already is, Shilon.” The Tip of The Spear answered. “The commander might have started the evacuation procedure at the moment that I killed the first enemy.”
“Ok, then we just have to go to the remains of their base and ensure everything gets destroyed.” Redfog concluded.
“No, I want something else to be done first too. Collect all the data that the Matar gate has picked up. I want to find out about every signature of a commander gating through the network of the last years.” Leython said.
“That’s thousands of registrations. What do you want to do with it?” Dostya asked, stunned by Leython’s sudden interest of useless information.
“I need it because of one particular date, but getting the whole disk with us is probably faster than finding it, trying to hack it with our limited knowledge and then extract the data I want. We’d better be taking it with us and let the QAI handle the job.”
“You’ve got a point there. Let’s go. However, if the fortress’ main buildings are completely destroyed too, we don’t have the UEF registration at hand we’ll have to access the quantum gate’s journal, which goes back by only one year.” The Tip of The Spear said.
“That won’t be enough, so I really hope that the UEF have still got this information here.”
“You know, it’s a bit of an anti-climax. We were finally going to push on, but then the UEF commander retreats. We could’ve had another two-hour battle.” Shilon said.
“I have seen enough battles for today Shilon.” Leython replied. It was tiring to fight in an ACU for so long.
The next day, after everyone who was involved had some proper rest , QAI gave the results of his hacking work to Leython.
“That’s a clear signature, for quite a lot of gates, but the destination isn’t detected, is it?” Leython asked.
“No, the enemy Aeon commander’s endpoint isn’t picked up by the Matar gate.” QAI responded.
“That means we need more information.”
“I got some information from the freed Symbionts.” Brackman interrupted.
“Tell me, where did the Aeon commander go to, according to the Sethis space gate?” Leython asked excitedly. Clarke listened to him and leaked the intel he wanted. He just hoped that she’d remember yesterday and not revert back to her usual stern way-of-doing. Leython gave her the first step to peace without bloodshed: listening to the opposition. Hopefully, Clarke would realize that.
“The signature goes into the quarantine zone, just like the Matar gate’s signature.” Brackman said.
“QAI, give me a map of both signatures. Then we might be able to find out where they cross.”
The artificial intelligence obeyed without a question: an image appeared immediately.
“Luckily, both signatures come close to each other in terms of gates. I will now send information via both paths and see how much possible gates there are at the point where the signature is lost. It shouldn’t be that much.”
While QAI tried to find the possible gates the Aeon commander might have travelled by, Leython and Brackman concentrated on the new escape plane: “The aircraft’s design has met its limit. I cannot add a very small resource system to it, so you can help yourself to build a personal quantum gate and leave.” The doctor said.
“So we’ve got to send a distress signal towards a Cybran node if we survive only with the plane?” Leython asked.
“Yes. The plane’s got a total of sixteen cluster missile pods though. That is a good amount, but there’s no laser gun attached to the design.”
“Sixteen. It might be nice, but it won’t be enough in certain situations. If you can find a way to build a small resource allocation system, attach a missile construction pod to it. That will allow us to fire an indefinite number of rockets.”
“That might indeed be a better idea. Survival first.” Brackman said. “I will update your ACU with the new plane’s design immediately.”
Some hours later...
“I have succeeded in the search for a gate. It is the only one that could be the enemy’s destination. If the Aeon pilot did not travel via that gate, either the Matar or the Sethis gate would have given a different path. That would also have happened if the enemy travelled further than the place I found. This has got to be the destination.” QAI said.
“Thank you, QAI.” Leython said. “Doctor, I will leave for that gate immediately. Don’t contact me. I will find you if I need something. I might be gone for several days, if not weeks or months. Perhaps forever.” He had made up his mind. It was time to use the keys he had and open the doors of his life.
Fifteen minutes later, Leython arrived at the gate’s planet. The first things he noticed, was that he stood near a small cliff, that he had a valuable mass field to his disposal and that he was going to need it, because of the public transmission his ACU picked up.
“This is my planet, Symbiont. I will cleanse you! You are late. If you’re lucky, abomination, you might escape, but I will give you no chance.” The Aeon commander snarled.
“Great. Another battle.” The intelligence expert said sarcastically. “I’m having enough of this. I didn’t go to three different planets in two days, just to fight people. Yet, I guess I have no choice.”
“That’s not good, that unprotected area is not at the base’s edge. Our nuke will be shot down when it passes the other SMDs. I’m going to tell Brackman that his nuclear sub design has got a flaw.” Leython replied and he contacted the Cybran doctor.
Brackman was not worried: “The missile flies at full speed when it passes the enemy base and that’s an advantage for us. The anti missiles have to gain their speed and your nuke will be out of their range by the time they are finally at top speed.”
“Ok, thanks doctor. Now, we must ensure that our anti missiles can stop nukes coming from enemy submarines. We can be sure that they’ve got nuclear submarines in a month or so.”
“I’m already working on that with a couple of scientists. I have a more important matter for you. Think of a name for our unit.”
“Plan B.” Leython answered and he closed his channel.
“The missile is sub-orbital. It will have to pass our missile defences at the sides of the base. That means we’ve got nothing to worry about. The nuke will be shot down far before –” Defack couldn’t finish. Interception missiles were launched, but by the time they arrived at the desired height, the nuclear missile had already passed.
“Move the Titans out of there!” Funky said in desperation. He had taken a look at the Cybran force. It comprised of more than twice the amount of Titans they had. Now the titans had moved towards the destroyed SMD, because a Cybran ACU stood there only moments ago.
Yrol, stunned by Funky’s sudden outburst, didn’t know what to and it took him the crucial few seconds to realize that he had to send the tier three siege assault bots away from the nuke’s destination. By the time the Titans were on the move, the missile’s warhead exploded.
“We lost all of our bots, damn it. All we’ve got left are some Point Defences!” Defack said furiously. He wanted to blame Yrol for sending all of the Titans towards the UEF commander, but he realized that he was the one who wanted every mobile unit moving towards the teleported commander.
“What should we do now sir?” Lancet asked.
“Complete our missile and let’s get rid of an enemy base. We still have a chance.” Defack answered.
“Sir, I suggest we target the enemy assault bots. Then we will be back in the battle.”
“Strategic launch detected.”
“I’m going to move away from my base.” Shilon said, the enemy still had a missile silo, that was clear. Leython’s backstab attack dealt only minor damage. They were still vulnerable to a nuke.
“I just activated my teleportation module, I’m going towards one of my stealthed omni sensors.” Leython replied. “Send the loyalists away.”
“Roger that, they’ll no longer be there when the nuke arrives.”
“Don’t forget that you’ve got to send them all to different locations. We don’t have a single clue on the nuke’s destination.” Leython said, while he was instantly brought to one of his small outposts.
“Talking about that nuke. We still have to take care of that missile launcher. Do you have any more tricks on your sleeve?”
“Attacking with the Loyalists. We can break through their defences now that they lost their assault bots.”
“When is that nuke finally going to arrive?” Shilon didn’t seem to be interested in the battle plan. He seemed to be interested in the weather.
“I guess that it’s going to take a little longer...” Leython answered and it took only a few seconds before he saw the missile on his strategic overview screen: “There it is, going for the spot where our Loyalists first stood.”
Another few seconds later, the missile exploded, snow instantly vaporized and the shockwave caused a minor snowstorm, covering some of Shilon’s power generators, factories and most of the loyalists that were scattered around.
“Shall I regroup and attack?” Shilon asked.
“General Clarke wants to speak to you, commander Defack.” An EarthCom officer had just contacted him with a priority message.
“Patch her through.” Defack replied.
“I’m going to need the three commanders. The Aeon are attacking Luthien with a small assault force. We had taken Yrol, Lancet and Funky away because we thought that –”
“– Luthien wouldn’t be attacked by the Aeon at this time.” Defack finished.
“Correct,” Clarke said, seeming to be a bit irritated. She didn’t like it to be cut off.
“I’ll build quantum gates then, are reinforcements available?”
“No, so you are to deal with the enemy as soon as possible.”
“Very well, expect the commanders to be on Luthien in five minutes. You probably want to talk to them?”
“Yes, patch them through.”
“Quantum wakes detected, Leython.” Shilon said. Three UEF commanders had left.
“Ok, how is the progress with the loyalists?” Leython asked.
“Very good, do you want this commander to die?” Shilon replied, knowing how Leython wanted to spare UEF commanders.
“Has he done something wrong? I don’t think so.”
“I do think so, my friend.” Brackman interrupted.
“Doctor? What is it?”
“This commander you are fighting, Defack, has destroyed an entire Three-Rivers node town. I will not force you to see him die or to give the order, but I want you to rethink what fighting for people’s lives means. You have probably killed several Aeon knights even though their vile acts had been done months before that. You may no longer want to kill pilots who don’t harm innocents, but I believe that you still show no mercy to those who do. Am I right?”
“Yes, you are, doctor. There is one other thing though.” Leython said.
“What is it, my friend?” Brackman asked.
“The Aeon are attacking a planet because of your distraction and I promised Clarke to assist when she wanted to ask me.” Leython answered, remembering what he had said. He asked Brackman to create a ruse, but put perhaps millions of UEF lives on the line because of that.
“You are so perceptive. I could never have guessed that the departure of three commanders was because of a ruse someone had made.”
“It’s not that hard, I asked for it. But tell me where it is, so I can go there.”
“We still have to think about our own goal. We plan to free Symbionts, do you remember?”
“Can’t the others do that? Or are they all killed by the UEF?”
“No, most fare better than you do. Redfog, Dostya and the Tip of the Spear are already done and now they attack the fortress itself.”
“Tell them that they must not make unnecessary kills.” Leython immediately said, forgetting about Brackman’s ruse for a moment.
“I will forward your request, but don’t expect Redfog to listen.” The doctor replied.
“I know, we’re some sort of opposite poles. But now I have at least made an attempt.”
“I stated Luthien as a target, the Aeon have sent a minor force, thinking that the planet is completely undefended and that it would take hours before the first commanders arrived.”
“Then I will go there and help the UEF. After I’ve taken care of this enemy.” Leython said.
Shilon joined in the conversation, he didn’t forget the original goal of the Matar battle: “I’ll construct the quantum gates we need to bring commanders to the Symbiont settlement.”
“Good, now that is settled, let’s get to work.” Brackman said and he closed the channel.
“We’re ten minutes late. We’re never going to make up for that.” Lancet said.
“We have to. Think, what could we do. They’re going to cleanse the small settlements we have here, but they’re on the other side of the river. I don’t know why they’re not going to use tier one weaponry, but –” Yrol started.
“We’re going to employ a simple strategy. I’m going to build air transports and bombers to stop the enemy as much as possible. Jeff, you will provide resources and Healon will build defences at the settlements.”
“Ok sir.” Yrol replied.
The commanders worked in silence for five minutes, then Josh spoke again, informing them of what they had all noticed: “Another quantum wake detected. It comes from isle in the river.”
“That’s no nice spot. Not so much mass there.” Yrol said.
“I don’t care how nice his spot is. I only care if he’s going to help us or not.” Jeff said.
Leython started to work immediately. He had to spend the first time on constructing economical structures only. The UEF were with three, he was alone and their common enemy had five knights available on the field, for some time now. Leython was in a troublesome situation, without many mass extractors available, being outnumbered by the enemy and having no allies, he now wondered whether he might have jumped in the wrong battle.
It was only a minute ago since the remaining UEF commander had been killed by Shilon’s sudden Loyalist assault. Leython had constructed his quantum gate only few seconds later and then left the planet, after transferring every unit and building he had.
“Josh, we still can’t contact the commander who gated in fifteen minutes ago.” Jeff said. In the time that passed, they had barely managed to deal with the enormous abundance of Aeon light tanks. Everyone realised that the enemies were inexperienced. Perhaps it was a trap, but there wasn’t time to think about it now. Because Josh, Jeff and Healon had to leave, the only commander that was still stationed at Luthien, was struck by a sudden illness.
It made them the only commanders to protect this planet. Yet Josh was able to take out many enemy units by his superior bomber management. Yrol was capable of halting any tank that came through, by building one point defence after another and Jeff managed to support them both while continuing expanding his own economy. It worked only barely.
“Spy plane detected.” Josh said.
“What, now already?!” Yrol asked in surprise.
“It’s been more than twenty five minutes since the Aeon arrived, they could have kept their real potential as a secret.” Jeff replied. “But it is Cybran. Defack is dead. Leython is here.”
“Why wouldn’t he want to speak to us, sir and why are you so sure that Defack is dead?” Yrol couldn’t stop asking questions, but Jeff couldn’t blame him. He and Simon Beck were the same during their academic training.
“I don’t know why he doesn’t open the bloody channel,” Josh answered, “but we can be sure that Defack’s dead because Leython wants to finish his job on Matar.”
“How do you know that?”
“If I remember him well, he is a thorough person. You can tell that by the way he builds up his intelligence network. He never misses a single spot. If he went here to do something, then he has done his job on Matar. That’s how he is.”
Ten minutes later...
Leython´s base had grown, he had constructed onmi sensors at almost every location he wanted and so he was close to a perfect infiltration of both the UEF and Aeon forces. What he saw was that the battle seemed at a balance between both armies. The Aeon were with more and arrived earlier. However, Josh Funky did an incredible job on decimating the enemy waves of units and hampering their resource income by his air force management. Jeff worked on his economy without a single pause. Then, this new commander did a nice job in taking orders and, with the necessary guidance, he constructed enough point defences and artillery structures to destroy any unit that came through Josh’s violence.
Ten minutes later, the first Galactic Colossus was taken out by the team of three. Still unable to cleanse a single UEF building, the Aeon assaults became more desperate. Seeing the first strategic missile silo under construction, Leython knew that he had to join the battle now.
His first plan, to attack with an enormous squad of loyalists, would be thwarted before he even attempted it. The Aeon commanders were dug in too carefully. However, there was little time. It wouldn’t take long before the first settlement would be nuked... And the UEF commanders didn’t scout the area...
It was time to step to plan B.
Another ten minutes later...
“Sir, it’s going to take too long.” Healon said. “We’ve got to prepare for a nuke.”
“I’ve already got a missile defence, kid.” Jeff replied. By a quick look at his overview screen, he noticed that Josh had one as well. “We’ve got to worry about those settlements. We still don’t have a chance of evacuation, so we’ll have to put SMDs there immediately.”
“What about my base? Sorry that I forgot, but –” Healon started, but Josh cut him off: “We’ve got to worry about the civilians now, don’t ask questions now but get to work!”
“Strategic Launch detected.” An automated voice stated.
“Damn it, damn it! We’re too late.” Healon panicked.
“Move it, with all of our forces. We’ve got to minimize the damage. Get it done!” Josh reacted abruptly.
“Did it take you that long before building a missile? I’ve got three armed subs already, and you don’t know about it.” Leython said, although he knew that no one could hear him.
Without a doubt, he could explain the situation. The Aeon pilots had spent most of their time and mass on building siege assault bots, air superiority fighters and experimental assault bots, while he could just spend all of his effort on nuclear subs, economy and basic protection he would not need anyway. He made up for his small amount of mass extractors by building tier three economy plants.
The Aeon were occupied by the UEF and the UEF were occupied by the Aeon. He was left alone, remained undetected, thanks to the abundance of deceiver mobile stealth generators.
He now had three missiles available, but no possibility of destroying the targets he found. Those were protected by strategic missile defences and although the nukes couldn’t be destroyed while they were still at top speed, they were surely taken down when they made the turn in order to hit their target.
Leython had to send vast groups of spy planes to find out how he could take out the missile defences most efficiently. He succeeded though and found out that he could use his teleporting trick again.
Just before he activated his module, he saw the Aeon’s nuke’s shocking effect. The purple radiance, coming from an Aeon ACU explosion or a strategic missile, joined with the bright yellow flames, typical of a UEF ACU’s core rupture.
“What a waste of talent, that was.”
“We lost Yrol, general.” Jeff said.
“How is the rest of the mission going?” Clarke asked indifferently.
“Fairly well. The thing is, we might have got Leython on this planet.”
“I received word of Defack’s defeat. He has been killed by Leython or his companion.”
“If Leython is really here –” Jeff started, but Clarke cut him off immediately:
“then you’ll not be in trouble. He said that he’d help protecting the civilians against an Aeon assault. I don’t know how he knows that those fanatics are attacking Luthien, but I don’t care either.” She said.
“Leython’s helping us. We’ll not slow him down before the Aeon are driven out.” Josh joined the conversation.
“Strategic Launch detected.” An automated voice interrupted the UEF officers.
“That’s the Aeon again! I hope that it’s got a target that’s protected by an SMD.” Jeff said.
Thirty seconds later, three crimson colour radiating blasts appeared in the Aeon territory.
“That’s impossible! I’ve checked those bases with spy planes,” Jeff said, “they’re protected all too well with missile defences. How can three nukes pass those, if they fly at sub-orbital altitude?”
“The same way as one nuke passed our defences at Matar.” Josh replied.
“I’m going to report this, the Cybran’s have got nukes that fly lower than ours, but at such a speed that they bypass the missile defences.” Clarke said.
“Then why did Leython teleport on Matar to kill our SMD.” Jeff asked.
“Simple.” Josh answered, while sending a new group of Titan assault bots towards the front. Despite for the fact that the Aeon had lost parts of their base, they still sent wave after wave of units. “The nuke has got to make a turn when it reaches its target. That turning makes the nuke slow down and allows a missile to catch up.”
“So, basically, we’ve got to protect all of our SMDs very well, just like with the normal missile launchers. A ring of defences protect the inner target against those fast sub-orbital nukes.” Clarke concluded. “I’ll send a note to every commander we have, to protect SMDs very well when facing a Cybran commander, until we can make our anti-missiles to fly faster.”
“Ma’am, I might have an idea of where those nukes actually come from.”
“Submarines?” Clarke asked.
“Yes, how do you know?”
“It’s an age old technology. For the first time designed in the twentieth century. We weren’t capable of doing it in the current theatre of war because we need to house the missile production in the submarine as well. Every scientist has forgotten about it, in Aeon, UEF or Cybran territory alike. That’s why we didn’t see nuclear subs until now, the Cybrans have apparently cracked the nut. They know how to do it.” The general said.
“I’m going back to my work, gentlemen. You’ll have to do your job now. Take those Aeon commanders out at the slightest opportunity. Clarke out.”
The missiles had reached their targets, but dealt only a minor blow. Three missiles versus five large bases didn’t mean anything compared to the fact that the Aeon realised that the Cybran, whose petty spy planes could had been seen scouting their bases several times, was dangerous after all. They would actively search for him, so Leython realised that it was time to build up as much defensive weapons as possible, to thwart any Aeon assault.
Suddenly, Leython was hailed from Earth. The message was unencrypted. It could just as well be a public announcement from the UEF president, but he already knew that it was his best servant who was trying to hail him.
“Once again, hello general Clarke.” Leython said, while he encoded the channel.
“What exactly are you doing here, traitor?” Clarke asked coldly.
“Assisting your forces. If you didn’t notice, I just slowed the Aeons down a little bit, just to tip the balance in our favour. Within an hour, they’re on the retreat, especially if my next series of nukes come through.”
“You switched sides. You turned your back on the UEF.”
“For the UEF, I indeed am a traitor. For myself, I am not. I fight for my ideals and since I realised what the words ‘Symbiont Program’ really mean, I now still fight for freedom, but no longer for slavery. Surely you know what I mean, don’t you?” Leython said harshly.
Clarke didn’t say anything, still looking directly at the one she used to teach how to fight, but now seemed an uncompromising killing machine.
After a minute, while Leython’s army, comprising of Loyalists and Trebuchet mobile artillery, grew at every moment, Leython spoke again.
“I have an idea, if you know what I mean. You can leak some intel. No one will notice. What do you fight for, general?” Leython asked, his harsh tone had disappeared almost immediately. He seemed concerned now.
“I am still thinking of Sinivar. Do you remember that I spoke to an Aeon pilot? I spoke to another pilot, the one who teleported into my base only minutes before I killed the second. She used my quantum gate that I quickly gave the Sethis moon as destination point at the moment I she told me what she was up to.”
“You spoke to the first one?” Clarke asked, stunned that didn’t EarthCom informed the general.
“Not literally, I spoke by the movement of units. I knew who she was and she knew who I was. We... communicated without speaking, you know?”
“What do you want?” Clarke demanded.
“I want to know where she went to.”
“Back to Seraphim Two, obviously. That’s where they go to.” The UEF general said matter-of-factly.
“No, not this one, she was replaced by another pilot and didn’t wait for the quantum wake to dissipate at her side of Sinivar Island. She went to my gate to go somewhere the Aeon don’t have control. You know that as well as I do.”
“Perhaps she realised that the line couldn’t be held.”
“And then she’d left the job to someone else, that she could get back to Seraphim Two safely, while the second commander had to die on the battlefield? But in the meanwhile she takes a route that isbest described as a good way to kill yourself?
No one would ever sacrifice a life if it can be spared, while risking one’s own life as well. You know that.”
“What makes you think that I know where –” The general started, but Leython cut her off violently.
“Don’t talk like that! I know that travelling through the network leaves a trace. Every quantum gate registers it and the information can go through the entire network.”
“I can’t help you.” Clarke said coldly. Yet Leython knew that she realized the information was in a database somewhere, with an hour of work, she could’ve found the location of most of the space gates in between Sethis and the mysterious Aeon commander’s destination.
“I know that you’ll not retrieve the exact location of this Aeon commander I’m looking for, just by following the trace from the Sethis space gate. The quantum engineers lost the tunnel’s signature somewhere in the quarantine zone, but the signature was available for the length of several gates. I never got my hands on it though.
So general, I’ll ask you again, what do you fight for? Do you fight for the UEF or do you fight to live in freedom, to meet people and to learn more about them? If you fight for the UEF, you’d better just end our conversation right now, so you don’t have to talk to a ‘traitor’. If not...” Leython said and he waited for several seconds to find if the general would close the channel abruptly.
“...If not, then you’ll give me the information I want.”
“And then what? You’re going to enter the quarantine zone and explore every planet to find this fanatic? That takes ages, not that I mind.” She said ferociously.
“The signature will only give a direction, with Sethis as the tunnel’s start. However, the Matar gate has probably located the signature as well It’s close enough to Sethis and it’s also so stable that it can pick up almost any quantum signature. So, I can find more information there. You don’t have to ask the people at the Matar Fortress for this intel, to give it to me. I’ll ask them by myself.”
“You’ll not be able to breach the fortress’ security. No one has ever done that.”
“The fortress is badly protected. You didn’t attend to the final meeting of our project, when Stirling spoke ill about our result. It was too expensive, half of it was redundant and it was all too complicated, he said.
The thing is, I am an excellent strategist and my plans prove that the current design is not good enough, that the base we as group of six trainees made, was a much better idea. Then, the fortress would have been impenetrable, even though the rest of the planet might not be in case of an assault I employed. But now... the fortress is easily dealt with.” Leython said.
Clarke was stunned. If it was true what Leython said, then the Matar Fortress could be taken within two hours. She had to assume it was true, because Leython’s strategy skills were excellent indeed.
“The whole assault... was planned by you?”
“Not only by me, but I had my share in it.”
A silence fell. Long enough for Leython to concentrate on his forces. He did manage to fortify his base while talking to Clarke but didn’t have time left for the nuclear subs.
After a few seconds, Leython spoke again: “General, think about what I have said, I don’t think you’ll regret it. I didn’t regret thinking on my own when I talked to several Symbionts or to doctor Brackman himself. I’m going to give the final shots to tip the balance in the UEF commanders’ favour. Expect them to be back in fifteen minutes. I do have two last words for you. If you’re still as good as in our trainings, you’ll understand.”
“What are those words?” Clarke asked, still with the coldest tone Leython heard.
“Symbiont settlement.” Leython answered. “And now, I’m closing the channel. Think about everything I have said. Goodbye.”
Alone again, Leython started his second and final strike on the Aeon commanders. He started building tactical missile launchers near the stealthed omni sensors, providing himself with a powerful and secret weapon. The Aeon didn’t attack him even though they knew he was a threat.
It meant that the Loyalists he had built, didn’t serve a purpose yet. It was time to give them one.
Leython built several air transports and extra mobile stealth generators. When those were completed, he loaded up all tier three bots he had, including one deceiver for every transport.
He saw that the Aeons were still desperately trying to break the UEF settlement’s defences, but because of Funky’s unit management, they didn’t come even close.
Having loaded up all transports, taking almost a minute, Leython sent them in. Along with some strategic bombers and air superiority fighters to distract the enemy’s anti-air weaponry, he ordered the transports to drop their units near six different strategic missile defences. This time, Leython was sure he had found the most important locations of three bases. The fourth and the fifth, were no targets for his nukes.
Only two minutes later, the armada of strategic bombers dropped their payload upon one of the commanders, who had just lost some of shields’s protection due to the combined strike of more than twenty tactical missiles. She didn’t stand a chance. The explosion lit up the sky brilliantly and Leython knew that his plan was working.
Three commanders had all lost two vital strategic missile defences. Leython launched the missiles, knowing that there were no means to stopping them. He attacked the fourth commander with a small batch of Loyalists he had left and those units turned out to be a good investment as well. He could see another bright explosion at the horizon, one that would be joined by six crimson colour radiating suns only moments later.
Half a minute after the nukes arrived, the last of Leython’s units were finally destroyed and the commander himself had launched the few tactical missiles he had, destroying another two power generators. Then, he left via his quantum gate, back to Matar and ready to take down the planet’s fortress.
“Ah, Dygonn, you’re late to join the party here.” Redfog greeted him.
“Better late than not at all. I’m going to destroy the fortress and show that it isn’t impenetrable.
“Good to have you at our side.” Dostya said. “I, Redfog and The Tip of The Spear are already working here. The rest of the commanders are either elsewhere on the planet, having dealt with the UEF commanders, or they’re assisting our brothers at the Cybran Settlement.”
“Good, when the Symbionts are free, I want them to tell if they heard anything from general Clarke.”
“Why do you want that, Dygonn?” Redfog asked.
“They will provide me with a key, just like this fortress will within two hours.”
Just one second later, a shell exploded close to Leython’s ACU.
“A Mavor, I’m being marked!”
Four minutes had passed now, the UEF commanders were about to realize that the first place they went to, housed a distraction. They would move on now. The fact that no news meant good news calmed the doctor a bit, but he also knew that if a pilot contacted him, his enemy was on his field for about a minute already. He took a look at the scene again.
After ten minutes, a commander could have a higher mass income than a standard resource allocation system gave. The energy production was significantly, but not critically lower. They actually had an advantage if they could keep the Matar commanders busy for ten minutes, just by using some gigantic mobile rocks.
Yet as always, things never went according to plan. After about five minutes, Redfog contacted him.
“Quantum wake eruptions detected, not too far away. We’ve got three UEF commanders coming for us.”
“Now you have also revealed yourself, so you are bound to attract more enemies.”
“I personally doubt it, they have made a plan. Three commanders per group of two Cybrans come from Earth or some other core planet. Then, the Matar commanders have more time to deal with the distractions. After ten minutes however, I will be facing four enemies, of which one will build tier three units shortly.”
“Ok, I will not contact anyone else, we will just continue our plan like nothing happened. You should have done the same though, assassin, just to ensure that you’d not gain more attention and enemies coming for you.”
“That is why I did contact you. If anyone can take more enemies, it is me, Dostya or the Tip of the Spear. Not Dygonn, Shilon or someone else. What I have done is trying to get two Matar commanders to my area, despite for the fact that the UEF has got a plan not according to my ideas. Now, that ex-UEF pilot has got the time to build quantum gates for the connection to the Cybran settlement.”
“Your plan failed, Dygonn is hailing me now.” Brackman said and he opened the channel with Leython.
“Doctor, I’ve got three UEF pilots near my base. They managed to find some nice spots that aren’t affected by Shilon’s or my quantum wake. We’re under attack already. The Matar commander will probably follow shortly, so we’re in some sort of trouble. Tell the people that are supposed to go to the settlement, have to wait a little longer.”
“Damn it Dygonn, what are you doing. Now you’ve ensured that you’ll get a Matar commander will get to you anyway.”
“That’d happen even if I didn’t contact Brackman. They’ve spread the commanders over the locations where they’re being attacked, no matter what would happen otherwise. They sent in three more per group of Cybrans, so I’m sure that that the Matar commander will arrive as planned.”
More commanders contacted Brackman as well. This was going wrong. The enemy could decide to take care of the real assailants now, instead of moving on to the second ruse. There was nothing that could be done against it though.
“Our plan seems awfully stupid now,” Dostya said, “we were focussed on the teleporting enemies so much that we didn’t think about extra-planeterial reinforcements. It puts us with our backs to the wall. Everyone will have to double their efforts. Let’s get to work!”
Dostya closed the channel immediately after she said her words and Leython knew that everyone was in trouble. The plan to distract all of the commanders had been his. With Brackman’s and Redfog’s help, he filled in the details, how to distract the enemy and now general Clarke jeopardized everything.
However, Leython had trained against Clarke before, this was a move he had to expect. Whenever Leython attacked her at several points, she would spread all of her forces over the different fronts. Units that were patrolling somewhere else, were withdrawn...
“Brackman, we’ve got to find out which planets are less protected now and make sure that we attack there. These new reinforcements are commanders that have been withdrawn from another post.”
“We can’t risk to send in another group of commanders.”
“Then leak intel to the Aeon, that the planets that are less protected now, would be left completely undefended. They might not realize that it’s a trap and relieve us a bit if they go.”
“I’ll do it and see if it makes any difference, but in the meanwhile, you’ve got three enemies, with a fourth on the way. Please do survive this, my friend.” The doctor said and he closed the channel, going to work immediately.
“So we’ve got company?” Shilon asked, while finishing the upgrade to a tier two air factory. He and Leython planned that one of them would build land units and the other would construct air. Five minutes before gating, they finally decided that Shilon could better build the air units, because he was best with unit management.
He had to bring in the tanks with air transports and was most likely to meet aerial resistance in the progress, so the micromanagement skills were a serious requirement.
Leython and Shilon were at the north pole. The vast land mass was covered with snow and had some valuable mass fields. They were lucky to arrive at exactly the right place.
“Three ACUs already, but they’re here for only a minute. Build five interceptors and then go for a couple of gunships. I will get some land scouts and find out which base is the easiest to attack, so we can go on to the second one as soon as possible. We’ve got a timely advantage but the fourth enemy will be here in three minutes, if we’re lucky.”
“So you want to get rid of them first, even if the fourth guy is probably here by the time we arrive at the first base?” The Symbiont asked.
“Yes, that fourth enemy needs time to build up a base as well.” Leython said, while building the land scouts he promised, before continuing to a small batch of Rhino heavy tanks. “He’s got as much energy as we have when he arrives, but less mass. The mass production is the bottleneck at first. If he knows how to arrange everything, he’ll be fine and kicking in a couple of minutes. If not, it’s going to take him longer.”
“But as we have already established weeks ago, we can’t rely on luck.” Shilon replied. The first three interceptors were built and he continued upgrading his mass extractors while his friend built another tier two power generator.
“That’s correct, Shilon. The thing is, that we’ve got to keep the enemy’s mass income as low as possible. They will work together and the problem is that’ll increase their effectiveness. We would have beaten you on Sung Island, if it weren’t for the fact that we argued all the time.”
“They will not argue, as soon as the teleporting commander arrives, he’ll take command and they’ll let him do everything, while constructing economical buildings.” Shilon said, while his first gunship took off now. “So now we’ll have attack them before their ally can get it all on track.”
“Don’t kill any of those UEF pilots, whatever you want to do else.” Leython said, sending his scouts towards the quantum wake eruptions’ locations now. He continued with the build of Rhino tanks. If they could just destroy two enemy bases.
“That’ll keep them very busy. If we can get rid of the enemy bases, but let the ACUs live, they’ll have no means of retreating and if we attack a lone commander, they’ll certainly send in units to save him. This will buy us some time and we can force them to spread themselves thin, making it easier to attack key points to destroy the next base. And so we go on to the next and the next. We could take out a hundred enemies this way, we just have to get it started now.”
“I’ve got three gunships, which base is the easiest one?”
“It’s simple to say when they’re here for five minutes. They’ve already got a land army rolling so we’ve got to hurry up. Get the base closest to yours, we’ll dub that the ‘first’ enemy to make it easier. The gunships are to take the mass extractors out, then the anti air mobiles that will certainly be built in the process and after that, the factories themselves.”
“Ok, I got that. I should send in my interceptors as well?”
“No, those are to go to the base the furthest away from us, that’s our ‘third’ enemy. That’s their air commander. Keep him busy with the interceptors and I’ll give you the tanks, so we can take that one out by land units.” Leython said, while he ordered his five Rhino tanks to move on. The sixth had to wait.
“Then I’m going to build a transport now and it’s time to load up the tanks.” The Cybran answered while the gunships started to fire at the first transport.”
“Commander Defack, tell us what to do.”
“I’m going to give you some resources at first, Lancet. You’re already losing the mass extractors you need. Build anti-air and you’ll be fine. These enemy commanders appear to be typical. They’re going for air solely or for land only. Your reaction can be typical as well then. Funky, you are building air units, so you’ve got to assist Lancet.”
“Understood commander.” The major answered and he closed his channel. Not even a minute later, he hailed his allies again:
“Guys, I’m in trouble.” He said, an air transport had dropped next to his air factory. A tactic he employed a lot of times, had been used against him! It wasn’t done as brilliantly as he could have, but it would be as effective. The tanks were already firing at two mass extractors, that were destroyed seconds later. The air factory followed soon, along with the power generators.
“That changes it, they’re using land and air combined, this means that they’re working very well together. That’s not usual with them. Those Symbionts are just idiots, they run and hide when they meet resistance.” Defack said.
“Then why are they here?” Commander Yrol, a fresh recruit asked.
“They want something and are desperate, otherwise they wouldn’t have sent their entire military to Matar. We’ll stop them though. Yrol, go with your commander and every tank you have, you’ll go to Funky’s base, help him recover. Then Funky can do his air magic. That’s what you’re good at, aren’t you?” Defack asked while he saw Lancet successfully dealing with his aerial threat.
“You appear to know the facts. Yes, just give me artillery and an air transport. Then the enemy base is down to a pile of ashes in an instant.” Josh replied happily.
“That second enemy is moving all of it out of his base. Shilon, take the two new transports, fill them up and go towards that base. We’ve got the chance to get it down now!”
“Aren’t you interested in where the fourth enemy is now?” The Cybran asked. He feared that the enemy who was last to arrive, would come by surprise and take them both out.
“Don’t you know who I am yet?” Leython asked, half stern, half amused: of course he was insterested. “I do the strategy and tactics. The unit management is all up to you.”
Leython had not said it or Shilon was already moving with the air transports. This was the best moment for them to get themselves an advantage and to make it to that as close as possible, the Symbiont knew that he had to thrust his friend blindly.
“If one of my former colleagues at the academy would’ve cooperated like you do, we’d be a perfect team. He had to disagree with me though every time that I made a plan.”
“Is that one of the comrades you lost at Sung Island?” Shilon asked.
“No, that guy is stationed at Pollux or Capella or somewhere else where the UEF have a nice day. I’m glad that there’s no chance that we would have to work together, but I might enjoy a reunion.”
“Be careful what you wish for.” Shilon said. Things could turn out so complicated. Leython’s adventure at Sung Island was a perfect example.
“Now please tell me how we’re going to find out what that fourth guy is up to, if he is already here.”
“I’ve got my Radar upgraded to omni sensor.” Leython said, realising how easy it was to get that done if he just had five minutes without any enemy present, and another five minutes in which he and Shilon seemed to have perfect control.”
“I can’t see a new enemy so far though.” He continued, looking at his intelligence screen. No gray dots had appeared in the new, increased range. This meant that the UEF commander was either far away from the sensor, or smart enough to use stealth generators in his base. At one moment or another, he had to come out of that protection nonetheless.
Shortly after the thoughts had formed in Leython’s mind, he realised that the UEF commander could never be smart enough to use stealth generators: the unknown pilot hailed him.
“You’re about to die, Symbionts.” He said, in a maniacal way Leython remembered from zealous Aeon Knights. He quickly looked at his intelligence screen again. Shilon’s artillery were pounding the second base and the mass extractors were about to be destroyed.
“Why, are we with our backs to the wall?” Shilon asked, who not exactly knew how the battle fared. All he did was managing the units he had, relying on Leython’s intelligence work.
He had an idea though and that idea was that they were winning, since he could remember damaging the first base with three gunships, taking out the air factory and some mass extractors of the third. He was now dealing damage against the second. By logic, only one base would remain and that was the unknown one, assuming Leython didn’t manage to gain more intel in the meantime.
“You have no idea.” The UEF commander said.
“No, we don’t.” Leython answered, telling the truth about the enemy base. “But we have an impression, you have given us at least eight minutes time to play a sandbox building game before you arrived. Those eight minutes were probably ten and with a bit of luck, they were twelve.”
“How do you know that?” The pilot sneered.
“Come on, do you really think that I don’t know where you’ve been? It was my idea to camouflage the stuff after all. What did you think of the rocks that were ACUs, according to the quantum wake?”
“What I thought of it isn’t important, why do you care, by the way?” The enemy commander answered.
“Just tell me.”
“To put it plainly, sorry that I can’t tell this out loud, we’ve got a child in our platoon today.”
“Hey, I’m twenty-one and I’m used to rough language.” An unknown voice sounded, the person in charge had apparently left the channel to his comrades open, so that they could join in the conversation. This was a flaw. They were all being distracted, at the side of the UEF. Only someone who was able to concentrate very much on both the battle and the small talk Leython and his enemy were having, could possibly listen and still command the army nicely.
Leython knew he could do that, as he was ordering his first tier three engineer to build a large Ion reactor and saw that Shilon was doing very well with the small armies he had to make it a hard day for the three UEF pilots who just gated in. He also knew that the recruit who was listening, wasn’t concentrating on the battle anymore. Possibly, although not probably, the other two commanders were no longer interested in the debate of guns and missiles either, but more in the debate of words.
“You’re a recruit and therefore your premature mind may not be poisoned by swearing or tough words.” The leading commander jeered.
“Anyway, what I wanted to say, since you wanted me to answer the question. I am angry about that...” the pilot pressed a button and a loud “beep” was heard, while commander said a word, “...prank and you sons of a...” the “beep” appeared again “...need to get away from our planet immediately.”
“That point is made clear, thanks for the information. Now I’ve got another question. That second beeping sound I heard, I know what word you wanted to conceal there, but that first beep: I just want to ask to be sure of it. Was that supposed to be an F-word?” Leython asked with a smile.
“What is the problem with you, you idiot?” The recruit said, he had connected to Leython directly now. “I’ve heard of only one other crazy Cybran but he’s fighting in an SCU. Have you been raised by that one?”
“No, but I do know who you mean. I got this kind of behaviour by an old friend though.” Leython answered, forgetting he was a Cybran for a single second.
Then, an all too familiar voice sounded from the channel that came via the commander in charge: “Don’t worry, Cybran, we’ve got crazy people too. My name is Josh Funky and several of yours have been trying to kill me before. I jumped on an air transport, just alone, without my ACU and that transport brought me to safety. It was a wild ride though. You probably never heard of something that crazy did you?”
“I did, but now I really have to go.” Leython answered, knowing that the conversation almost gave him away.
“That almost went wrong.” Leython said to Shilon, after closing all the channels that came from the UEF ACUs.
“That’s Funky, is that the one you learned from that you had to do something crazy sometimes?”
“Well, I know the rest of the history. He’s also very good with air drops, isn’t he?” Shilon asked.
“That’s correct. What I just told you to do, he can do better. He’s been slowed down though.” Leython said while he watched how the last Rhino tanks were destroyed by an overcharge shot: no matter how good Shilon was with micro management, destruction by such a shot was unavoidable.
“So, what do we do now?” The Cybran asked again.
“Find out where the last commander is. In the meanwhile, I’ll assist with your economy management and you will start producing more and more units. You’ll attack the three bases that are nearby while I search for the fourth enemy and then we’ll see what we can do about him.” Leython answered, while watching how the snow melted and vaporized in the artilleries’ constant shelling at the second base.
“Now, this fourth enemy, he is overconfident and everything he doesn’t expect, will come to a him as a complete surprise. If that happens, he’ll get frustrated and he’ll not understand how it could’ve happened, but he’ll not learn from it. That will make him perform worse. So all we have to do is to surprise him.” Leython summarised.
“And that turns out to be another useful conversation.” Shilon said, smiling, while he filled up a new transport.
“Send that one to the second base, even though you still have units there. It is the rookie’s one. He was letting his base to be damaged while we were talking, so he’s most easily distracted.”
“Sir, I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” Lieutenant Lancet said.
“What’s the big deal about it, one of them is an idiot, you can tell that by the way he talked just a few minutes ago. The other one only asked a question, perhaps something more, but he’s appears to be no problem either.” Defack said, apparently not interested in the battle.
“But sir, we have suffered several losses already and I’m under attack again.” Yrol said.
“Lancet, Funky, send everything you’ve got and help Yrol. What I was saying is that we’ve got nothing to worry about. One person who’s not special, one who’s an idiot, saying stupid things. This is easier than a daily job and not just because of the fact that I’m supporting you with my Resource Allocation System, I am now having a nice base already.”
“My base is mostly down, but the enemies are gone now. I’m going to recover.”
“Funky, Lancet, the units you have, send them to scout.” Defack said, while constructing a few bombers to attack whatever his allies’ units found. Realising that he was probably far away from the enemy, he cancelled his production orders and decided to tech up to tier three.
“May I speak sir?” Funky asked.
“Yes, what is it?”
“I recognized that Cybran voice, it’s one of my and Jeff’s friends. It’s Leython Dygonn.”
“That’s impossible, he’s dead.” Defack retorted coldly.
“I know sir and that’s why I’m so confused. However, his voice and behaviour are all too familiar. He’s talking nonsense to enemies, that’s for sure, but in fact, he’s gaining intel on who we are. If he knows how we respond to him in a conversation, he can tell who we are and how we fight. If it is really Dygonn, we’re in deep trouble.”
“I believe that both the Cybran and the UEF have an idiot fighting here. Don’t you think it’s a little bit ridiculous that a perfect UEF commander would have switched sides to those rebels’ side while he’s dead?” Defack asked sarcastically.
“Supposed to be dead, sir.” Funky responded.
“Enough, time to go to work.” The commander in charge said and he, Funky, Lancet and recruit Yrol concentrated on their actual work to the fullest again. Without realizing it, they had given Leython and Shilon a very big advantage. Not only they had wasted time by all of the conversations, but Defack had given himself away as well.
Three minutes later...
“Commander, I’m in serious trouble! They’re everywhere and coming with too much. Funky’s got to call off his air drop and send the units to me instead.” Yrol said. Their enemies hadn’t attacked for some moments now, apparent to be giving up. Therefore the sudden new attack, despite for having a few minutes of rest, came to them as a complete surprise.
“Don’t do that, Funky. We finally found one enemy’s base, so we’ve got to give that a full shot.” Defack said, knowing that the slight advantage they had in numbers, was nullified by the enemy’s lead in time. He also knew that the advantage was completely thanks to his Allocation System and tier three upgrade. This meant that his three allies, who arrived earlier than him, had the full weight of two Cybran commanders.
The Cybrans were a bunch of fools who ran away at the first sight of an enemy, but that didn’t mean they weren’t dangerous if they had a full tier two level base before UEF commanders arrived. They had to play this battle in a smart way, Defack knew that much.
The problem they faced was a simple one. How to get the upper hand? To do so, they had to be organized in the form of one or two powerful bases, so that they were capable of protecting everything, no matter how sneaky the Cybran assaults were. They had to sacrifice some ground, a base if necessary...
“No,” Defack said after some moments, “Yrol, retreat with your ACU to my base, I will assist you in upgrading the unit with an allocation system. That will pay off soon and then your ACU can assist me in building everything I need. Give your base away, just get out. We can’t get organized if we’re spread so thin across the battlefield.”
“Sir, can’t we –” Yrol started, but Funky cut him off:
“No, we can’t. The more time we are spread out like this, the more time we waste as an inefficient group of idiots. “We can’t work if we’re inefficient. That’s what I base my assaults on, forcing the enemy to an inefficient way of commanding his army, by spreading him thin.” The UEF pilot said.
Yrol couldn’t object to that. Inexperienced as he was, he didn’t see a lost battle when the enemy guns fired at his cockpit already. Yet Funky knew better, he had planned his escape at the moment that the Cybrans landed in his base, remembering the battle at the Zeta Canis red continent all to well.
“Ok, we’ve definitely got Funky on the other side of the battlefield.” Leython said. Eighteen Lobo mobile artillery had just slipped through his base defences. Leython had prepared for that, but Funky was able to find a weak spot after all.
“That guy is as good with tactics as you are, Leython.” Shilon replied.
“Well, I see a weak point at the first sight. He’s got to actively search for one.” Leython said, while firing an overcharge shot and destroying five units in an instant.
“He also knows less about the intelligence warfare or strategy employment than I do.” Leython continued. “However, he is faster because he works more on an impulse. Whenever he sees a weak point, he immediately sends an air transport with a couple of low-tech artillery, proving that those are very useful indeed.”
“It appears to be so,” Shilon spoke again, while he sent the units that Leython provided him with, directly back into the former UEF pilot’s base. The Lobo squad was about to be decimated, but not without doing significant damage upon Leython’s base. Three tier two mass extractors and a small Ion reactor were lost. The large reactor was damaged and had to be repaired to ensure that it’d survive another possible assault.
“So that’s what he does all the time.” Shilon said. It wasn’t a question. He heard the stories that other Cybrans told about Funky when they faced him in one battle or another.
Ten minutes later, Defack had a sizable base, thanks to Yrol’s and Lancet’s assistance. They had drastically changed the battle plan since Yrol lost his base. Defack decided to be assisted by Lancet, instead of assisting him and Funky. Funky would have to attack the enemy, with every unit he had. He usually didn’t come any further than thwarting the Cybrans in their assault, but that was still better than having to recover from every group of units that made it to their base.
Funky didn’t seem to be able to hold the line forever though. Enemy ranks moved in closer and closer by every minute, what sort of unit movement he employed. What was worse, the enemy moved in at Lancet. Soon, Defack would have lost his support.
“Lancet, spend all of your resources on stationary flak guns and point defences. The Cybrans are coming too close for comfort now.”
“I’m going to work on it, can you keep it up?”
“I have to and I will.” Defack answered the lieutenant. If Funky could hold the line with Lancet, Defack himself could make his plan in just the way he wanted and he had all the time he wanted to employ the strategy he liked to take out his enemies.
Yet no more than two extra minutes passed before Jeff had to make an emergency call. Defack had just watched the lieutenant’s progress on the defensive line and didn’t need Jeff to tell him what had happened.
“Strategic bombers! I have to get out of here or I’m dead.” Lancet said.
“I saw that, looks like you’ve got no other choice. Ok, I’ll need to get every single unit of mass you can provide me with. The construction of my base is progressing a little bit, but not fast enough. I’ll build SAM sites and shield generators. Then we’ll continue with building Point Defences and artillery guns in and around my base. We’ll make the base almost impenetrable then and if we succeed in that, nothing’s going to go wrong after all.”
“I assume I’ve got to hold them off on my own again?” Funky asked.
“Correct, so good luck and get cracking with your air drops.”
“Frankly, I’m running out of ideas. These two enemies are better than I am. One of them is good at using intel. I’m sure that’s Lethon, really sure.” The major started...
“He’s dead!” Defack answered. “How can we fight against someone who’s dead?”
“Not, but be happy if we’re fighting against a ghost, because that’s still better than fighting the best intelligence expert that has ever lived in human history.” Recruit Yrol said.
“The thing is,” major Funky pressed on, persistent on clarifying the problem he faced, “one of them is excellent with intel and the other person is very good at micro management. I’m fairly good at both, specialized in air drops, but I’m not so good at mirco management than that second Cybran commander and I’m also not so good with intel as the first one we’re fighting, whether he’s Dygonn or not.
Now, these two are working together and that gives the dangerous combination of air drops that can be done just as nicely as what I can do. It also means that my aerial assaults are completely useless.” The major concluded.
“Very well,” Defack answered, “destroy your factories, reclaim them and give me every unit of mass. Then I’ll be able to build faster. That means that I’ll catch up with our enemy and then we’ll eventually win the battle.”
“Roger that, sir.”
“Finally, I found the fourth enemy’s base.” Leython said.
“And I lost contact with that commander in the first base we’ve been attacking. He’s probably retreating.” Shilon replied. They had been passing on information all the time.
“I’m going to take a look at it, send the strategic bombers towards the third base, that’s the only one we’ve let to bloom for a while.”
“The second one is completely down I think. I can’t see any gray dots in that area anymore.” The Cybran said, after taking a quick look at his intelligence screen.
“Oh, did I forget to tell you? After your last units got destroyed, the enemy destroyed and reclaimed that base.” Leython asked while sending a new group of spy planes across the battlefield, hoping to find the lost ACU.
“Nevermind, it doesn’t matter that you forget such a minority.” Shilon said, underestimating the importance of Intel for Leython again.
“It does matter to me, Shilon, you should know that by now.” Leython corrected his friend.
“Oh, of course.” Was the answer. Shilon wanted to forget the matter as soon as possible. It was not a good way he thought now, but Leython knew that as long as the two were together, the intelligence war and the performance of the Cybran tanks and fighters would be perfect.
“I’m attacking the third enemy base. Should I plant a bomb or two on the enemy’s ACU? That should put them more on a defensive line, shouldn’t it?” The Symbiont asked.
“No more than two, pay attention. That base is probably Josh Funky’s,” Leython answered, remembering that the transports had the same color pattern as the buildings in the base that was now being bombed. “I don’t want to see an old friend die in here, especially not someone who knows so well how to fight.”
“Ok, how’s the radar build progressing now?”
“Fairly well. I’ve got four omni sensors now. One in my own base, two in the far fields, for possible secret strikes and to ensure the safety of our mass extractors that are far away. Additionally one in your base.”
“I knew about that last one, but how are you doing with building radars near the fourth base. I know that you’re sending transports out to surround a discovered enemy at the very moment you find out where he is with a spy plane.”
“Those are on the move. How many times have I actually said that those mobile stealth generators are incredible?” Leython asked.
He could now just send the transports inside enemy’s radar range, drastically increasing the speed in which you could build radars very close to the enemy’s base. When the omni sensor and the tier two stealth building were constructed, he could just go on with the engineers again. Back in the days of the UEF, it was a matter of building a whole path of stealth generators inside the enemy’s radar range. This was much easier.
“I’m under attack, two of those bombers have just targeted my ACU.” Funky said, his voice was still calm though. He knew the risk of his profession and even enjoyed it. The oncoming of a possible end was... enthralling.
“I’m going to send my air superiority fighters towards you, Funky.” Defack said, knowing that he had to do anything to save the lives of the men he had under his command. The bombers were no longer targeting the enemy command unit though. Defack had his thoughts about it. Was this just the Cybran’s stupidity, or a plan laid out by Leython Dygonn, assuming he had survived in one way or another.
“Simple, isn’t it?” the commander said. There was no resistance. Apparently, his thoughts were wrong as he assumed. The longer this battle took, the stranger it became, but only in someone’s mind. On the field, this was just a regular event.
Less than a second later, Defack was in for a surprise. Ten air superiority fighters appeared above Funky’s base. Before he could retreat his five tier three planes, they were taken down.
“What?! How is this possible?!”
Although Defack forgot what he thought about, the small aerial skirmish was a plan laid out by the dead UEF pilot.
“That’s what overconfidence leads to, Shilon.” Leython said.
“What, that they lose in a five versus ten battle? Isn’t that usual for an air battle?”
“Oh, that is, but he was expecting that we didn’t have any air units, apart from those bombers. So he just sent in all of his tier three fighters. We have just dealt with their air force and we can bomb the remains of these closest enemy bases at our leisure.”
“He must be angry by now.” Shilon said, now remembering how Leython described the enemy commander.
“Oh yes, he’ll be very angry, but he can’t do anything about it. I knew everything about his personality and now I also know it all about his base too. He’ll stand no chance.” Leython couldn’t conclude his statement before his enemy contacted him again:
“You’ll pay for that.” Were the first words Leython heard after he allowed the channel to be opened.
“I have yet to see how.” Leython answered.
“What kind of horrendously ugly sort of clothing is what you’re wearing there by the way?”
“That, if you find out, you are a better investigator than I am. You are not though, I can tell that by now already. You’ll be beaten here soon.”
“You’ll never kill me! Never, you hear!” The enemy pilot provoked him. Leython remained calm nonetheless.
“I never said that I’d kill you. Only that I’d beat you. Unless you can give me a very good reason for me to think that you’re better off dead, I’ll not kill you. I haven’t come here to eliminate a commander or two, just to do something else.”
“And what is that?”
“Wasting your time.” Leython said with a smile.
“Have fun wasting my time, you’ll pay dearly for it. I have now nearly completed my base. I can attack at my leisure.”
Leython wanted to say that he could find a weakness at any time, but kept himself from doing so. Any more words and he’d betray himself.
“I’m absolutely sure that that was Dygonn, sir. Just send an image of the pilot to EarthCom and ask general Clarke if she can take a look. I can’t be sure because of that long hair and the wardrobe he’s wearing” Funky said.
“Do you honestly think that Clarke’s got enough time for such nonsense? We just have to take care of them. Let’s think of a sound strategy now, Funky.” Defack replied.
“Yes, sir, of course, but there’s one thing: Clarke had enough time for training sessions with Dygonn. me Lancet and three others, who were known as ‘Stirling’s best six’ at the end of our Academy training. Regardless of what our enemy is, we’ve got to be organized, yes. That is why we retreated to your base and assisted in further building it.
However, if we don’t face Dygonn, we know we can go on like this, we’re probably winning. Otherwise...” Funky said, while taking a deep breath.
Lancet filled the pause in immediately:
“Otherwise we’ve got to assume that our enemy effectively has got an omni sensor in the middle of our own base.”
“Yeah ok, so you guys want to know if you’re up to him or not.” Defack said, finally realising what Lancet and Funky wanted.
“That’s correct sir.”
“Ok then, I’ll ask Clarke if she can identify our enemy we’ve been speaking to. That’ll take a minute. In the meanwhile, help me with the construction on this missile launcher, while we also build tier three siege assault bots.”
“I scouted the enemy base again.” Leython said, ten minutes after the latest time they had talked with their UEF enemy.
“Like you do in, what? Every fifteen seconds?” Shilon asked rhetorically.
“Yes,” Leython answered nonetheless, “but we have a problem. The base is impenetrable, they have almost constructed that nuke launcher and we don’t have an SMD yet. It looks like we underestimated the enemy in a certain way.”
“While we’ve got nothing of that stuff, have we?” Shilon asked, refering to heavy weapons. “Well, we’ve got a good group of tier three units, but that was because you thought the base can be penetrated by Loyalists, right?”
“Correct, but I’ve got to come to a different conclusion. Now I’ve been working on that already, just to be sure, if our primary plan might fail.”
“Damn, you never tell me anything. How is the enemy supposed to know what you’re up to if you don’t even inform your allies?” Shilon laughed.
“Not. They’re not supposed to know it. That’s what the intelligence war is all about.”
“You’re not going to tell me what you’re planning to do?”
“Well, it’s got to do with nukes.” Leython said.
“They’ve got an SMD.” Shilon said, after a small pause.
“And you’ll probably want to stop me from doing this.”
“As do I.” A female voice sounded suddenly in Leython’s cockpit.
“Hello general Clarke, what do you want to talk about?” Leython said. Knowing that he was discovered, he could as well just talk to her in the usual way.
“I want to talk about your betrayal.” The general said firmly.
“I don’t and I also don’t have to take orders from you anymore. Just know this, general: I would still protect the UEF from an Aeon assault, you just have to call me, even though you can’t know how, and I’ll be there fighting off those crazy zealots.
However, I can’t fight for the UEF if it comes down to Symbionts. How do you think about fighting for freedom to live how people please, when fighting off the Aeons at a certain moment, but fending off the Cybrans at another time?” Leython asked and he closed the channel.
He wanted to talk more, but this wasn’t the time. He had to kick her butt, or better: her troops’ butts.
Another few minutes later.
“Ok Shilon, now you know the full plan. Ensure that I’ve got everything I require, no matter what happens. Not that anything would happen.” Leython said, certain that they were safe apart from the oncoming strategic missile.
“What you’re going to do is just crazy.”
“Hey, someone’s got to show that Funky’s little trip on that air transport isn’t crazy enough.”
“Well, to be honest, I don’t think what’s worse. Sitting on top of something that flies at six hundred kilometres per hour or doing what you’re going to do.”
“What we planned initially isn’t the real plan. It’s to show the UEF that we are up to something, while we’re not planning to do it at all. Now, we can just let those spy planes fly over. The real threat isn’t in our base, but hidden elsewhere...”
“It’s still crazy, but let’s do this.” Shilon said.
“Enemy commander in our base!” Lancet yelled.
“They just teleported in here.” Funky said.
“That part of our base isn’t important. It’s got an SMD, that’s our only important building there.” Defak said, denying that the possible loss of several economy farms was a serious setback.
“I’ll send the Titans towards our enemy commander.” Yrol filled his allies in. He was about to become a good pilot if he found more of such ideas.
Defack opened another channel: “Well hallo Leython Dygonn. You finally decided that you’re going to die here on Matar, and now concluded that it’d be best to die in my base?” He furiously said to his enemy. It was a scandal that he was backstabbed in such a manner!
“No, I’m going to hurt you.” And Leython charged his microwave laser. As the air shrieked, the red beam hit the strategic missile defence. It exploded in an instant.
“So, that’s supposed to hurt?” Defack asked. “Well, it didn’t.”
“What hurts is that I destroyed your SMD.” Leython said, while his teleportation module prepared to take him away again.
“Get those Titans here.” Defack ordered the recruit.
“There on their way, but they’re too late.” Yrol replied.
“Whatever, you’ve got no nuke silo, your assault is useless. You’ve done nothing serious.” The arrogant commander said.
“No, I’ve got no Strategic Missile building.” Leython answered calmly. He stood in his own base again, hiding any trace of emotion.
They had looked at the planet dozens of times, searching for more locations where they could send the ACUs at. However, the problem still remained: the enemy had seventeen times more the mass and three hundred times more the energy by the time they arrived. They had to be delayed were the assault to turn out even remotely successful.
Several options were thought of already. Sending the commanders into mountainous area. Large groups of units would be useless in passages, but the problem then would be that the UEF tier three bots would still be arriving in the scene too soon, decimating the Cybran units, that were probably not even from the tier two level.
A second plan was to send in so many Cybran ACUs in, at different locations, to force the UEF pilots to teleport to a new location every time that a Cybran had been defeated. Redfog said that he was prepared to sacrifice some of his men to give Leython, Shilon and Dostya the required time, but Leython objected to it. He didn’t want to send pilots to their doom and was certain that the attempt was based on chance too much. He or Dostya could be the first one to be targeted.
Eventually, after two weeks, Brackman came up with a very simple idea, making everyone feel stupid for not thinking of it.
“Why don’t we send in dummy ACUs? The quantum signal’s strength is only dependent on the energy that is being sent. In other words, it’s mass. The amount of panels and electronics won't change the quantum signal. We can just send in numerous ACUs but they’ll not know that those are dummies.”
“Of course,” Leython answered, “why didn’t I think of that before? It’s so easy to do. It’s the Trojan Horse idea, but the other way around. Instead of gift-wrapping a group of soldiers and putting them in front of the enemy’s gates, we’ll send a couple of fake threats to them and come along by ourselves shortly afterwards.”
“But how are we going to make that happen?” Shilon asked.
“It’s simple, we’ll send in seven fake ACUs at the first moment, wait for the required time for the enemy to teleport towards them and when they are there, we’ll send in the next group. This group will consist out of twenty one ACUs: seven dummies, fourteen real ones, that will operate in groups of two. The UEF ACUs will go to the seven new faked units by the time they realize that the first group is a ruse.”
“This will take them about five minutes, as a maximum.” Redfog filled in, who was attending at that time. He had calculated the total time it would take for an ACU pilot to find out the ruse and then teleport towards his new location, after reporting to their headquarters and receiving their next set of orders.
“After those five minutes, they’ll most definitely have noticed that the ACU is fake and then they’ll teleport to the new location, where they’ll stay for another five minutes, also as a maximum.”
“That means we’ve got a bit less than ten minutes. If we’re lucky to lure the UEF to our faked ACUs twice.” Shilon noted.
“That’s correct, to do so, we’ve got to send the second bait at the best mass fields, the Matar Fortress’ HQ will certainly send their men towards those points first.” Leython said and for that next week, they all searched for the strongest fields on Matar, based on old information.
Brackman told the others that, for as far as he knew, by following the news for more than thousand years, Matar had never suffered from shifting mass fields caused by sudden tectonic activity. Matar never was very active in that way and therefore the data that was some years old, was still accurate. Despite for that, it was still a lot of work to find out where to place a total of twenty-eight ACUs on, fake or real.
The only thing they were certain of, was that the eight best spots were reserved for the seven ruses that would arrive in the second wave and the Matar Fortress. They had to work hard to arrange the rest.
Despite for the fact that the fields didn’t change that much, making an accurate prediction on where the strongest positions were, was nigh on impossible. Leython knew that they still relied on luck if it came to which locations were the second to be attacked and which were the third to be visited by the UEF.
Dostya came with more bad news. She reckoned, with a proper reason, that the commanders at Matar might know where the three strongest fields were, but they’d never be able to tell the location of fields four, five, six, seven and eight, even though the engineering team, which Colonel Stirling was part of, had looked carefully at all of that information.
Leython knew already the location of these three strongest mass fields and was certain that the largest one was reserved for the Matar Fortress and that therefore at least two UEF commanders were going to be lured towards the second wave of faked commanders.
After the whole third week of discussing, they had not yet gotten themselves a single planet closer to winning the war. They still had only two points that the UEF would certainly go to, with five locations to go.
“Why don’t we send fake ACUs towards UEF settlements? They’ll have to go and attack them.” Leython asked.
“They’ll decide not to. When the UEF faces a total fourteen locations being attacked, thinking that all ACUs are real, they’ll go to the ones with the highest priority. Civilians are not the highest priority.”
“What happened in the UEF during my absence?” The ex-UEF pilot retorted. “When I had to thwart an Aeon assault, I was always sent to one large city or another, because I had to evacuate it, or bolster its defences so that the people wouldn’t die in the relentless assault.”
“That is at the Aeon front. You know what you’re up to when you’re facing Aeon enemies. They strike to cleanse. We however, have many different goals when we attack. It’s either liberating Symbionts, stealing technology or forcing the Aeon or the UEF to go back if the war falls out of balance. In the latter occasion, we give the faction that is compromised severely, the opportunity to restore their defensive line, by attacking the victorious faction.” Redfog said, while he still looked at the region around Matar’s Fortress.
“If we want the Aeon to go back where they came from, we can assault Aeon settlements, they’ll certainly try to stop us, just like the UEF wants to do against the Aeon at this moment.”
“Are you seriously going to raid and kill Aeon citizens? That’s dreadful.” Leython said directly, not knowing he was very close at crossing a line to Redfog.
“You’d be dead now if I was my predecessor.” He snarled, without looking up. “I am not going to kill you because you are valuable to us. If not, Brackman might have a hard time stopping me.”
Leython was stunned by the sudden change of tone. What was an emotionless person at first, turned out to be fury itself now.
“I am without sentimental feelings for people I do not know and for people I have met. If that person dies, so be it, no matter how agonizing his death is. That is what makes me the leader of my node.” Redfog explained, his voice seemingly calm again. “I do not share your sympathy for people who want to cleanse us, but I do understand that you don’t have the same opinion about how to deal with them. Be careful in the future, because my successor may be as relentless as my predecessor and he’d have you killed.”
“Ok.” Leython said, unable to say anything else.
“Anyway,” Redfog went on, “the Aeon respond to such a raid. The UEF do not. They’d sacrifice a planet for a victory at Seraphim Two and the destruction of the Aeon. What we need to do against the UEF is something else.”
Leython understood and realised why the UEF could sacrifice a planet for a chance of victory over the Aeon. It was horrible to think of it, but as a strategist, Leython was able to comprehend. If the Aeon were utterly destroyed, the UEF could concentrate on the Cybrans and certainly win, just like the Aeon should be able to cleanse the whole Cybran Nation if it weren’t for the UEF keeping them busy.
For the Aeon however, the lives of their citizens were a lot more important than a swift victory, unlike for Riley.
“To make the UEF respond to our raids,” Redfog went on, “we have to attack them at key points, such as a planet where they can get their resources for building ACUs from, or we attack their key gating points, giving them a hard time travelling through their own territory.”
“Ok, so we’ve got t find five locations on Matar, so that their commanders will go there. That should be easier than guessing five more locations for our fake ACUs to go to and hope the UEF commanders will teleport towards there.” Leython said, understanding that the plan could be brought down to planetary level.
“Which locations do you have in mind?” He asked and looked at Redfog, who still gazed at the Matar Fortress.
“Well, this is one and we can turn it in five.” He said, pointing at the fortress.
“How?” Shilon asked, who entered the room again just a minute ago.
“We will send in fake ACUs about a hundred and seventy kilometres away from the fortress. Then we will provoke the UEF to respond to us, because we still pose a threat. We could build up a huge air force and move in. If we rush it, we can easily attack the fortress in three hours. It is so far away for the primary commander that he must stay at home and can’t reach us. So he’s got to get in five colleagues to do the job.”
“Than that’s settled, finally.” Leython said and Brackman, who had been listening all the time, nodded in approval.
“Ok, then we’ve got to do three things before we can mount that assault. First, we’ve got to find nine commanders willing to join the battle on Matar, taking for granted that you, Shilon, Dostya, the Tip of the Spear and of course I will fight. Before you ask, yes I will.” Redfog said.
“Then,” Shilon filled in, assuming he knew what Redfog meant, “we’ll have to make fourteen cheap ACUs, with no impressive electronics, just a block of mass that has the same weight as an ACU and can be moved around.”
“Correct and the last thing we’ve got to do...” Redfog said, while he turned his eyes to Leython for the first time this day. “Dygonn, come here, I’m going to make a Cybran of you, we don’t want you to show the UEF your initial affiliation at the first moment you talk with them.”
“What? Excuse me? Are you going to put an AI chip in my head? I’d rather insult you than allow you to do that.”
“Don’t worry, the transformation is only aesthetically, I’ve got this red marker and I’m just going to put some lines on your face. You must repeat it every day so we’re sure it’ll suit for the day we attack, which may be only three days away. After that, it’ll go away eventually.”
“What do you exactly mean with ‘eventually’?”
“Having a shower every day, using a good bit of soap.” Redfog answered and he started painting Leython’s head. His method was crude and pained a bit, but Leython knew that the job would be done properly now. At the moment, he preferred Redfog above anyone else because he made sure the result would be satisfying.
Two days later, in Brackman’s Airship, above the Minerva Surface...
“Leython, my friend, we have managed to get a total of fourteen pilots to attack Matar. They all know the dangers and they’re ready to go.” Brackman said. They were both alone in Brackman’s airship. Yesterday, the Aeon decided to launch another full scale assault. It ended in a victory for the Cybrans, but only one enemy commander was eliminated. The Illuminate had wasted a whole day and it was time to make up for that.
“You are doing what Redfog told you do to, I see?” The doctor continued.
“Yes, of course. If I want to ensure that I remain unnoticed, I should do this. The UEF will certainly want to know how we managed to crack the nut and if they see an image of me without an implant, someone will immediately realise who I am. I’d rather be... ‘dead’.” Leython said, smiling.
The fact that he was deemed to have perished at Sung Island was very entertaining, to say the least. Because of him, the Cybrans now knew how to take care of the Matar Fortress and because the UEF thought he was dead, they had no clue about what was coming to them.
“There is a high chance that they still know who you are.” Brackman said. “I doubt that they fall for the ruse of a painted head.”
“That’s true, but it’s not the only thing that’ll be different. You know that I haven’t had a proper haircut since quite some time. My hair’s now the length it was during the final months of my sword mastery training. I’m going to change clothes as well so that no one will recognize me when I’m in my ACU, fighting on Matar.”
“But you don’t have any clothes that suit a Samurai, or a sword master from those role playing games you have in the UEF.” Brackman said, knowing how Leython wanted to look like.
“I’ve been working on that since we started planning the assault on Matar.”
“Then why did you accept Redfog to change your facial appearance?”
“Because he had a point and he is persistent, to say the least.” Leython answered. “I have been thinking of our fake ACUs. We should camouflage them as much as possible.”
“So the pilot who sees a forwarded image of an air scout takes a longer time to understand what is going on? It is a good idea, but I doubt that we could make an ACU that has got nothing but two legs and an engine, perfectly camouflaged just by a paint job.” Brackman said.
“That’s not exactly what I meant, doctor. I meant that we’ve got to make them look like a natural object. How much time is it going to take to find a gigantic stone that weighs as much as an ACU and looks like it’s been there for a long time?” Leython asked.
“That is a splendid idea. The only thing is that we’ve got to use quantum gates like the one in my airship to gate the objects in. They can’t just walk through our conventional gates.” The doctor said.
“That is true, but now I think of something else. We may be able to transfer a gigantic stone to make it look like the ACU has walked away from its gating point, but we still have the effects of a quantum wake. Those burning trees won’t be gone after five minutes. Our enemy will certainly know that our rock seems untouched by scorch marks or so and understand that this was a ruse.”
“That may be true, but the quantum wake will leave effects on the object that has travelled just like it leaves effects on the surroundings of the arrival site. If it is just that a metal object like our ACUs is left almost unscarred, but something made out of stone will have some marks on it. And even if we delay them for just one second, it’s worth the try.”
“Another thing, doctor. We must keep radio silence when we arrive at Matar. If we talk with each other, the UEF might pick that up and find out that we are real pilots. That’d ruin everything.” Leython said.
“Yes, we must tell the others not to talk until they are absolutely sure that the UEF commanders know where they have to go to. Anyone who remains unnoticed will have to keep it that way for as long as possible.”
Three days later, on Minerva...
Leython was glad with the way Cybrans were able to turn a design in a working prototype in a day. It appeared that the only ‘mobile’ quantum gate they had, was the one in Brackman’s airship. It wouldn’t suffice for seven huge rocks.
The prototypes they now used were basically some huge stones with an engine in it, and some wheels underneath. They looked incredibly stupid and seemed the work of a three year old kid who lived in his own fantasy, but they would get the job done.
When the ‘rock-on-wheels’ travelled through the quantum network, it was ordered to move another hundred metres and then automatically shut down.
Leython was worried about the tracks that were left behind, but Dostya told him that the time of planning and waiting was over. It had been a full month since she came with the news about the settlement and that was too long, she said.
Leython agreed, knowing that they could work another month on perfecting everything, but that wouldn’t have mattered much. He was already glad that the seemingly unimpressive weapons were able to move a bit around with their programming. No ACU was required whatsoever.
Leython agreed with the Elite-Commander that they would assemble all commanders by tomorrow noon and attack an hour later.
Dostya immediately left to inform every pilot involved while Leython and shilon constructed the required gates for the first seven rocks to be transferred.
Redfog was already working on the fourteen gates for the real ACUs, three hundred kilometres away, safe from any quantum wake. On the far side of the planet, the Tip of the Spear was working on the gates for the second group of faked ACUs, ready to be gated to Matar.
The next day...
“Ok guys,” Leython said, three minutes before they would all leave for a new battle at Matar, “it’s about time, QAI has got control over my gates for the first ruse and the required power generators. The rocks are moving in as scheduled. I’m teleporting towards Redfog’s base.”
Ten seconds later, he arrived in front of his own gate Redfog built for him and he immediately ejected the upgrades his ACU had and prepared for quantum travel. The gates were programmed to be activated all at the same time, so that no commander would be too late and couldn’t travel anymore because of the wake.
Another ten seconds later, the Tip of the Spear arrived and he joined with the other commanders, all standing in one line. They moved towards their gates, while Redfog entered the exact time they had to be activated.
“Ok, two minutes remaining before the first ruse goes to Matar, we arrive twenty seconds later.” The assassin said.
“Then I have the time to give you one extra thing to play with.” Brackman interrupted. “This is a new weapon designed for naval combat. I hope that you will be able to use it to the best. It is powerful and stealthily, a perfect weapon for many of you.” The doctor said and he glanced at Redfog and Leython.
“I do not yet have a name for it, any ideas are welcome.”
“Thanks, doc.” Shilon said, after taking a look at the weapon. He seemed impressed.
“Everyone’s ready?” Leython asked. Now the project was about to go to the second stage, the actual assault, he was eager to have it turn out useful.
The assault on the Matar Fortress was not the actual goal, he had to remember. The plan was to have every pilot build a quantum gate, so that other Symbionts would make it through to the settlement, free their enslaved brothers and could go back safely.
“Ok, one last thing to remind you all,” Leython said, “me may not open a single channel from now on. When we are on planet, the UEF are having trouble finding out which quantum wake eruption comes from a real ACU and which one not. As soon as they pick up a single signal, encrypted or not, they’ll go there first to investigate, assuming they find a Cybran pilot. When you are spotted, talk to no one else, but your teammate or to Brackman, who is overseeing the operation. He knows about everyone who’s been detected and will tell who it is safe to talk to, because they’re detected anyway.”
“Good luck everyone.” The Tip of the Spear said and everyone closed his or her channel. Some moments later, they were all gone from Minerva and arrived at Matar. Leython saw the molten snow around him, at Matar’s North pole and wanted to tell Shilon that he arrived safely and was going to start right away. Yet he knew that he had not to. He hoped that he could keep himself from hitting the communications panel. Radio Silence was as bad as having no radar.
“General Clarke, an emergency transmission from Matar.” An EarthCom officer had opened a channel to her desk and Clarke almost gasped in surprise.
“Patch the commanding officer through.”
“General, twenty eight Cybran commanders have come to Matar. We need reinforcements.” The colonel said, while he was building factories around the home base. He was alone while five enemy commanders were suddenly less than two hundred kilometres away from him.
“How are they grouped?” The general asked.
“Fourteen commanders work alone, fourteen in groups of two.”
“Give me the locations of the seven groups of two. I’ll send in three commanders per group to deal with them. Your men will target the pilots that work alone.”
“They have already teleported towards their first target and will be at the second one in about five minutes. Then they will join the battle with the commanders you send in.”
“Good, that issue has been taken care of, theoretically. I’ll send the word, the reinforcements should be there in about five minutes. I hope that it will all go as we just planned. Clarke out.” The general said and she closed the channel.