At the moment she arrived at the Sethis moon, she started to work immediately. Now, several engineers were upgrading the land factory to tier three. Without enemies being around, there was no need to build a gigantic army. Only engineers were necessary. She would not waste resources on upgrades for her ACU, as they had to be ejected before gating out again.
Gating out. Into the unknown spaces of the vast quarantine zone. It reminded her to something. Being alone, without any chance to get help. Back in the days that she was five years old. She lost her parents. A man unknown to her had told her about it. Marisa did not cry, but did not say a single word for three months, until Abigail found her in an orphan centre and took care of her. Finding out that she was a seer, Toth taught her as much about The Way as possible.
Now she was twenty years old and cast out of the Aeon community by disobeying the orders that Marxon gave her. She had to flee before the Avatar of War could locate the ACU, he might choose to activate the self destruct codes. If the Avatar was able to activate the codes, there was nothing she could do to cancel the self destruct sequence from her ACU.
Because of that, she was building nothing but engineers, they would build power generators and mass extractors. Or they’d reclaim every rock that was in the vicinity.
At tier three in thirteen minutes. It had to be a speed record. A tier three engineer was constructed and would immediately start to construct a quantum gate.
She now had left Sinivar island almost fourteen minutes ago and still, she had not seen a bright flash at the surface of Sethis. She should see it as soon as either of the commanders had been killed, because the sky was clear. The island might be seen if she looked good, but a command unit that exploded was easily seen from half a million kilometres distance.
The thoughts had not formed in Marisa’s head or a brilliant light appeared at the distant planet. The enemy ACU was gone. Yet, half a minute later, a second light appeared. Slightly larger from her point of view, but that obviously was an Aeon ACU that exploded. Marisa needed some time to think things over.
It was nineteen minutes after Thazin arrived. So this first, brilliant flash had to be an overloaded quantum gate. She had heard about it when Aeon quantum scientists were experimenting with it.
If the wake was just a tad too strong for the gate to send its package through, be it a small rock or a command unit, the gate would overload and strengthen the wake more than a tenfold. Aeon gates overloaded and exploded in an enormous flash, with a screeching sound like no one had ever heard.
If the ACU tried to pass the gate too early, it would most likely explode. Thazin was lucky in the first occasion, being only blown back. Not that it mattered later on, Marisa noticed, because the UEF commander called Dygonn had taken care of her without remorse.
So Dygonn was cunning, smart and fought in harmony with her, but when he faced a merciless enemy, he would turn just as merciless. A commander to be reckoned with.
The quantum gate was about to be finished. In her thoughts, Marisa forgot to let the other engineers assist her tier three version of it. It actually was only better because she still had time to ensure that no one could notice the gate through the quantum network when it hooked up. If Marxon found it, he only needed five seconds to send the self destruct codes and initiate the sequence.
While it was still under construction, Marisa ordered it not to do anything as soon as construction was completed and also block any incoming data. She still had to build enough power supply to leave through the quantum network, into the depths of the long forgotten space between Aeon and UEF.
The Way held many secrets, Marisa never knew when one would be revealed to her again, but when she needed to, she always found one. She immediately understood the signs that she deciphered and wrote down some numbers. On a sheet of paper she always took with her when she left with her ACU on a mission.
It was nice to be able to type everything in, but for the love of writing, she always had pen and paper at her hand. Besides, if technology would ever fail, she could still communicate, or just express her hobby of drawing.
Four minutes later, two tier three power generators were constructed. With the power of their tier two and one counterparts, the gate had enough power to connect with a part of the quantum network in the quarantine zone and send the ACU towards it. Searching for the coordinates that Marisa now typed in, the quantum gate found a planet. There was no data in the ACU’s database. Of course not, the planet had probably been left deserted several hundred years ago.
The remains of the old quantum network of the Earth Empire still existed nonetheless. Despite for the fact that the network had not been maintained for all the time that it was left unused, the quantum gate did not need so very much energy more than for the usual trips back to Seraphim Two.
Having found the exact current location of the planet, in orbit around its sun, the quantum gate gave the green light for travel. Marisa walked towards it. Thankful that no message from Seraphim Two came through, she understood that the gate effectively blocked all data coming from the Aeon home planet.
Just at the moment she wanted to walk into the gate’s quantum travelling conduit itself, she remembered the quantum wake that was still present here. It was eighteen minutes after she arrived, so she had to wait another two minutes. The quantum gate gave the green light for travel though. It was probably true, because something at the size of a small civilian convoy could be sent through already.
After waiting for two minutes, none of her sensors showed a quantum wake any more. Marisa walked into the gate and disappeared from the Sethis moon. Five seconds later, her engineers and structures, now unable to find the ACU’s signal, self destructed. Only one known living human soul was still present at the solar system of Sethis. One that would leave twenty five minutes later.
“You did a good job, lieutenant Dygonn.” Clarke said.
“Thank you general, I apologize for talking to that Aeon commander.” Leython answered her.
“That’s something I wanted to talk about. Never do it again if that commander does something else than taunt. You may taunt back, but they are dangerous brain washers. Be careful with them.”
“Honestly, I would have expected a harsher lecture, general.”
“Be careful what you wish for. Now, I will promote you to captain. Congratulations.”
“Thank you. Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?” Leython asked.
“Yes, your father tried to contact you, he had an important message concerning a certain Lyndis. You’d better wait for a moment, because it is now four o’clock in the morning in Tokyo.”
Leython looked at the digital clocks in the office. The Los Angeles clock showed that it was fifteen past eleven in the morning, the one in Tokyo indeed showed the time of fifteen past four.
“You have the rest of the day off, unless you want to help your team with the maintenance of your command unit.” Clarke said.
“Nah,” Leython answered, “they’ll handle it. Besides, I am not an engineering genius. Three weeks ago, they told me that they’d rather have me not to help them. It takes more time with than without me. Not that I care so much, after they’ve done their job, they’ll get me in the cockpit again to let me test everything. Anyway, thanks, general.” And Leython was permitted to leave.
Normally, he had to assist with whatever was around, left to do because the UEF was a bit short on manpower at the moment. It seemed that this issue had been brought down a bit. Leython saw that more people walked around the UEF control centre where he was now.
Time to go home and enjoy some good moments of rest.
Six hours later, Leython decided to make a call to his father, Harm.
He did not have to wait long for a response: “Hello?”
“Hello dad, it’s me, Leython.”
“Hey Leython, how you’re doing?” Harm asked.
“I’m fine, today I had to work at the edge of the UEF territory, but I’m not allowed to say more about it, sorry about that.”
“Too bad, you really can’t tell?”
“No, not on the phone, you’ll have to come to LA by yourself before I can tell about it. And even then we’d have to be in a secure UEF base.” Leython said.
“Ok, anyway, I’ve got something far more important. Your grandmaster, Wayu Lyndis has disappeared. Without a trace.”
“Interesting? Is that all you have to say after she shaped an important part of your life.”
“Yes, actually she shaped more of my life than you and mother did, no offence dad.”
“But it’s true nonetheless, I’m sorry about it, you know that too.” Harm tried to apologise, but Leython knew better.
All of his life he had to suffer from his father’s ambition. When his mother died in a terrible accident, Leython was taken with his father to Japan, because Harm could start a good career there. Together with the Japanese culture, wherein the community was chosen over the individual, Leython became silent and turned into himself, without caring about others.
Today’s battle has changed that more than all of the work Jeff had done in trying to make him more outgoing, but his father remained the same, thinking that ‘sorry’ would do the trick.
“Yes, I know, but ‘sorry’ won’t help so very much I think, anyway, what is it about Lyndis?”
Harm probably tried to retort, but despite that, he continued about Leython’s grandmaster in sword fighting.
“She left everything behind and is gone now. It looks like she can disappear better than a Cybran ACU with stealth and cloak. You ought to find her.”
“No, I don’t. She is thirty four years old now, has passed the best of her life in physical terms, despite for being the youngest grandmaster ever and training every day, she’ll only get... less good, slower, ‘weaker’.” Leython said before continuing:
“Her predecessor disappeared too, when she became a grandmaster. That was at the moment she surpassed him, just twenty years old. At that moment, this man gave his sword to her and left. Just got away and he has never been found back. I guess that I am as good as she is, or better. She knows it.”
“Wait, you just said that she knows that you’re better than her, how can that be possible, you haven’t seen each other in almost four years.” Harm said and he continued: “By the way, she left with a note, written six and a half hours ago.” Leython’s father cited the note:
“My sword goes to Leython Dygonn, my best student, who came to me at the day I was granted the rank of grandmaster, fourteen years ago.”
“She left that note six hours ago, you said. That’s when the battle ended. Anyway, here she clearly left a trace, while you said there wasn’t one.”
“Well, then, go and find her. You’ve got an ACU, I’m just the commanding officer here and I need to stay here. You can go out and find her.”
“What,” Leython asked, “do you think that I can just ask the general for a holiday or something? And that I can go to Matar or whatever nice planet she could have gone to. This is trying to find a needle in a haystack, dad. And this needle probably knows where I am and is on the move every time again. We’re not supposed to follow her, dad. We’re not.”
“Ok then,” Harm said, clearly reluctant to let the matter go, “I’ll send the sword to you with the first officer that is going to make a trip to LA. Good-bye Leython.”
“Good-bye dad.” And Leython hung up the phone.
So a strange thing happened. Wayu Lyndis left. At the exact moment that his opponent left. If there was something like a “Way”, Leython now believed in it. It was better to hide that thought though. Clarke was quite clear.
Two hours later, Leython visited Jeff, who just returned from the Cybran front. He heard about Leython’s victory by Earthcom:
“So Leython, how are you doing? Did the battle end well?”
“Yep, it did. I battled an interesting commander. It felt like we both understood each other.”
“How can that happen, those Aeon’s are just mindless brainwashers.” Jeff said.
“Not this one, she was smart, very good in battle, but she didn’t try her best to kill the people of Sinivar. She gave me the time to evacuate them, but no chance to kill her.”
“I heard that you killed an Aeon commander, how is that possible if she didn’t give you any chance.”
“Another Aeon commander gated in later on. That was a mindless idiot. She sent in three Colossi without any assistance, or looking at what I had beforehand. I destroyed two of them in the conventional way, one by sending a tactical missile into its eye and then shooting an overcharge bolt at the same place. Later, she tried to flee too soon, gating out while the quantum wake was still active. She was lucky to survive the overloading of her gate, but it did not matter in the least because I had more than one hundred Riptides coming at her.”
“Good to hear that you’re still in shape. I’m going to watch the replay as soon as I’m back at the base. Another whiskey?”
“Sure.” Leython said. “So, you’ve got yourself a new house, do you like it?”
“Yes, I’m quite happy with it. I couldn’t really live in that small apartment I had. You’re still in such a thing, aren’t you?” Jeff asked. It was not odd that he had to, because the two friends had not seen each other in six months.
“Yeah, but I don’t need anything bigger than that. The less I’ve got, the less I’ve got to care for, or think about. Another thing, don’t tell anyone else about my battle, you’re actually not supposed to know it from me.”
“I know that,” Jeff said, “I’ll watch the replay as soon as possible.”
Leython continued: “Now I’m speaking about things I don’t care about, my sword fighting master has given me her sword. She’s gone now.”
“What!?” Jeff asked, almost yelling, “You told something about that, a couple of years ago. That she would leave if the time was right or something? I don’t really understand, so tell me what happened.”
“She taught me all she could, well, that’s what the best teachers do, and she was one of the best. Now she told me that she’d leave as soon as there was no need for me to learn anything from her again. She’d just leave. No one would be able to follow her, wherever she’s going to. She’d leave her life and start anew.”
“So far, I understand,” Jeff said, “So you saw it coming, that’s why you’re so calm now, isn’t it?”
“Yes, I’m quite emotionless, but I know that I would be affected if this news came to me all of a sudden. My father told me I had to look for her, try to find her but I know that she doesn’t want that. Otherwise she would have told me.”
“Now she only told you that she’d leave, and now she did. I get it, she thinks her life in here has no use anymore, right?” Jeff asked.
“Exactly, I’m as good as she is, not just in sword mastery, but in living my life as a whole. In any sort of fighting. Be it with a sword, an ACU or my own mind.”
“When did she leave?”
“About eight hours and fourty five minutes ago. And you want to know what’s the strangest about it?”
“She left at the exact moment that the first enemy I battled, had left. The smart one, you know?”
“Don’t let a commanding officer you saying that, then you’ll lose your piloting privileges.” Jeff warned his friend.
“I know, but this is strange, not? Two people, one who formed a good part of my life, one who made me think, really think, they leave the known world at exactly the same moment. Without telling each other or something.”
“I guess that your teacher is still here somewhere...” Jeff started, but Leython had his answer ready:
“No, she’s not on Earth, then she’ll be found too easily.”
“Well, you can still hide on this planet, despite for its crowdedness.”
“True, but she’d not want to live in here. Not only it is crowded, but it also is incredibly polluted. She’d never want to live here. She’d sooner go to a planet in the quarantine zone, than staying here.
Rather in space, far away, completely alone on a planet, than alone in just a deserted place on Earth.” Leython said.
“Now, where did this ‘smart’ person go, do you have any idea?”
“Well, quantum engineers tried to find out where this commander went to, after she gated away from the moon. She left the moon some minutes before me, because she didn’t suffer from that increased quantum wake like I did. The engineers had noticed that the gate of hers created a tunnel towards the quarantine zone, but they lost its signature.”
“So she could’ve travelled towards the zone, but also towards Aeon territory. That doesn’t help any further.”
“I find it amazing that the engineers can find out where another commander went to, with another gate. They tried to tell me in plain English. It is possible because my gate held some sort of connection with the quantum wake on the moon. Now the Aeon commander built another quantum gate, before the wake had dissipated, so my gate finds a connection with that other one, strangely it wasn’t able to transmit data, but it received more than enough information” Leython said, “now, the other gate does of course not explicitly tell mine, where it’s providing passage to, but the quantum engineers are able to tell something about it, by analysing a ‘quantum reflection’ in the information of my gate.”
“Confusing,” Jeff said, now finally giving Leython his whiskey, “to think about it, we use the gates but don’t even know what happens to us when we use them.”
“Anyway, I have no idea where she went. It’s a shame. The first date I got and lasted for longer than thirty minutes and probably the only one in which the girl didn’t hate me for who or what I am.”
“You always know to put a joke at the end of it.” Jeff said, not knowing that Leython was serious.
Finally. After more than ten hours, Marisa had managed to access the core data of her ACU. This data was usually unavailable for Aeon knights, but Marisa had tried her luck and found assistance in The Way. She heard about Marxon, how he could tell what he was facing in battle, just with The Way.
Marisa could find answers very directly, what she was searching for. Perhaps it was her ability as a seer, with her military and technical mind that allowed her to search for access codes in her own ACU core. Now she had accessed the self destruct codes of her command unit. It was time to change them. Marisa chose for something completely random.
If the Avatar of War wanted to see her dead, but the codes did not work anymore, he would type in her birth date at first, then he’d take the date that she became a knight and then today, the day that she was stripped of her piloting privileges. If that did not work, he would try any other important date in her live. In her parents’ lives... Something completely random would not work for the first try. It still was dangerous, Marxon was talented in finding secrets too...
Marisa hoped that she could build an algorithm to change the code every time one was tried.
But at this moment, she did not care. Marisa had enough of working in her ACU for now.
She ordered her command unit to shut down, stepped out and climbed down.
Looking at the beautiful forest she saw, gazing downward from the hill she stood on, Marisa started to walk...
The Missile had to keep its height as well, the eye was more than ninety meters higher than the missile at the moment it was fired. The ACU could still retreat and keep a head start of the enemy experimental for long enough so that the Fatboys to destroy it, but it was time for a test. Against a commander as stupid as she, Leython could afford that luxury.
Leython pressed the launch button, after the flight path was calculated. The missile was about to cross the enemy eye on its way to a spot in the air, where it would detonate itself.
The result was just what Leython expected. The loud explosion signalled that the eye had been destroyed. It had lost its focussing lens. Unlike the Fatboy’s stream of fire, thirty five minutes ago, the core engine had not been destroyed. This was probably so because the Fatboy had a much better diversion of the fire over the time and its stream of bullets caused an enormous heat. The missile did not.
Therefore, the core engine of the colossus still charged and now it started to fire around. However, the laser lost any means of focus and aim. It did manage to burn the grass on the ground, but that meant nothing because grass had no such thing as structural integrity or tier three shielding.
Lisa was furious. Her entire assault had been repelled by a secret enemy fire base, and three experimentals. Those experimentals were nothing. Fatboys! They had no real firepower like the phason laser. Yet they managed to destroy her own experimental weapons! The enemy had used range to his advantage. Despite for the Colossus’s heavy armour, the enemy rain of shells managed to blow it away and hit the engines eventually.
Even the artillery, that were supposed to be so inaccurate, managed to deal with a Sacred Assault Bot, with the help of a Fatboy. Now, the third Colossus had lost its laser focussing because of a trick from the enemy commander. Lisa still had the bot’s massiveness though and she started to walk towards the enemy commander.
What she saw now, was hilarious. The enemy commander walked towards the Colossus, instead of away from it. He just let himself be crushed.
Lisa’s smile disappeared at the moment that Dygonn used his overcharge cannon. Aimed up high, it hit the Colossus’ eye, just like the tactical missile and the energy bolt caused an enormous explosion to erupt from the core engine.
Seeing how the top of the experimental blew up and the arms of the Colossus fell down was bad, but what was worse was that she now lost contact with the tall unit. Now, she had no assault force left. It was time to start a more powerful project, one that allowed her to destroy the enemy base in little time. She started to build an Apocalypse, the Aeon tier three strategic missile launcher.
Leython moved backwards as fast as he could, the Colossus was about to fall down. There was probably no need to worry about being crushed now the top of the bot was destroyed. It made the experimental a lot shorter. There was no downside to being cautious nonetheless, not in this case.
An unencrypted message arrived, probably from the enemy commander. Leython opened the channel. What he heard was what he expected. A voice that clearly presented hate and left no place for mercy. This commander was eager to kill him:
“You may have managed to defeat my experimental, but the war is far from over. I will defeat you, Dygonn!”
Although it was forbidden to socialise with an Aeon commander, Leython answered her:
“You are not properly fighting me. You’re just wasting your time and mass with weak assaults like that.”
“I almost killed you with that Colossus, next time, you want be so lucky.” The enemy said harshly.
“If I did not know that the Colossus could be destroyed in that way, I wouldn’t have done it but retreated instead. Three Fatboy are enough to eliminate that stupid walker of yours far before you killed me.”
“I would have destroyed your base and therefore made you sit on this planet even longer!”
“No, because you have wasted your forces. Now it is my turn to attack and I will not be so stupid as you. I will break your base and kill you far before you can assemble your next assault force. It was nice to have a chat with you, but now I got to shut the transmission because my Commanding Officer is looking really angry at me for talking with an Aeon chick.” Leython ended the transmission and immediately answered general Clarke:
“Sorry general, the transmission was not encrypted and I assumed it to be a taunt. What else could it be if she just lost the majority of her forces?”
Clarke answered him: “I know about this taunting, but it is something Aeon commanders rarely do.”
“General, do I have permission to speak freely?” Leython asked.
“You know that I will never do something, certainly not at this stage of the battle, without knowing what could possibly happen. I have thought of all scenarios that could happen, also the worst-case one.”
“Yes? Go on.” Clarke said impatiently.
“The moment she tried to contact me was just like the moment that I launched that tactical missile from the back of my ACU. I knew that she was overconfident. You can tell someone’s personality by their behaviour in battle. Therefore I knew that she was not trying to convert me or something, she was just trying to scare me of or play with me, thinking that she’s got control and I’ve got nothing.”
“But since you’ve got more than that, here are your new orders, kill her. It should not be too hard if I see the battlefield there.” Clarke said.
“Oh no general, it is not that hard at all. I just waited for this perfect moment to do it.” Leython said after the UEF general closed the transmission.
Being alone, Leython said, more to himself than to the enemy commander who couldn’t hear him anyways: “Now it is my turn, oh yes, it is.”
The Atlantis surfaced and released its Air superiority fighters and Broadswords. At the same time, a hover army of one hundred and fifty Riptides, all hanging in tier two air transports, were moved around the island, to be dropped three hundred meters away from the enemy shore.
The shore was protected by a lot of tier two turrets, so his heavy gunships had to be used here. A lot of flak towers supported the turrets and the whole was protected by stealth and shield generators. The stealth generators were rendered useless when three spy planes flew over it, some twenty five minutes ago, but the shield generators were working perfectly.
Most, if not all, of the Broadswords were going to be destroyed by flak and enemy air superiority fighters, but it meant nothing if they managed to destroy the enemy point defences.
The air armada was on the move. Leython’s air superiority fighters, flying in a wide formation, were about to pass his gunships now, just before the whole group would come into the range of the enemy tier two flak towers. Drawing the fire from them, the air superiority fighters were protecting the Broadswords against this flak. The tier three fighters also unleashed their weapons against their Aeon counterparts, that took off to stop the enemy threat. It was going to be too late nonetheless.
Before Leython’s enemy ordered the fighters to deal with the gunships, thirty per cent were already destroyed by his own overwhelming force of wasps. Being outnumbered with sixty to one hundred did not seem very much, but in terms of these massive dogfights, it meant that the overwhelmed force was going to lose if it had no proper assistance from SAM sites.
Losing the air force to a larger one was bad, but it was a lot worse now that UEF gunships were going to destroy the beach protection, Leython knew. The Aeon commander must be fearing for her life, although she’d probably notice that her flak cannons were left operational and that they were taking down one Broadsword after another. However, it was not Leython’s intention to destroy the flak towers immediately.
With some quick micro management, a gunship flew underneath the dome of the enemy tier three shield generator and now destroyed it. One enemy shield suddenly disappeared. Two others collapsed underneath the constant hammering of the gunships, still forty in total. Nothing distracted Leython from what he had to do as he ordered a gunship to take down the two generators that were now frantically trying to restore their shields. Another Broadsword was flying underneath the fourth and last generator and taking it out.
The defences were unprotected, Lisa saw, but this would surely be the last of the enemy forces. Quickly trying to destroy all enemy gunships, with both her flak cannons and her quickly dwindling force of Coronas, she finally made some progress. There were roughly twenty gunships left, but they were doing the strangest thing that Lisa ever saw. They targeted her Oblivions, leaving the flak cannons to fire and take them down.
The real shock came when all the Oblivion cannons had been destroyed. Dozens of air transports appeared. The flak cannons fired at it, but the transports descended on the water so fast that they dodged the grenades. They dropped hover tanks, more than hundred of them.
Having distracted the flak towers for now, Leython quickly moved the seven gunships he had left and sent them underneath every shield that he saw, ordering to destroy the generator, so that the Riptides didn’t have to deal with those any more. Transports with units happened to be useful with for more than just dropping the units off. It distracted his enemy and forced her to let the flak towers fire at something else. Every aspect of the plan, even the distance to the beach for dropping the Riptides off, was working perfect.
The Wasps took care of the last air superiority fighters before leaving back to the Atlantis for repairs.
The Broadswords managed to take down most of the enemy shield generators before being shot down by mobile flak vehicles. Their job was over.
Just the seven artillery that had to be destroyed and then the hover army could destroy the enemy base without any issues, apart from the minor fire bases that were present at the entrances, but those did not matter because they couldn’t destroy one hundred and fifty tanks before the entire base was destroyed. The artillery could severely delay him though, but he had his plan ready.
The army of hover tanks seemed endless, but Lisa knew that they could not stand up against the Oblivion cannons that she had left at the front gates, in combination with her seven Miasmas. Standing underneath the last shield that she had left, protected by the artillery and five Oblivion cannons, she still had a chance to hold out, although it was only a slim one.
If anything had shocked her, it was nothing compared to the loud explosions she heard not too far away from her. The artillery had been destroyed by two strategic bombers. The Riptides moved closer and closer. She could still make a run for the gate, trying to leave Sethis.
The quantum wake was still present, but it was her only chance now.
Moving closer to the gate, contacting Seraphim Two as she went, she saw the vast army of hover tanks moving closer without slowing down. It had reached the beach a short time ago.
“This is Lisa Thazin, I am retreating, back towards Seraphim Two, prepare for my arrival.”
“You can’t, Knight Thazin,” Marxon answered, “the quantum wake is still present.”
“But I will die if I don’t leave.”
“You will also lose your life if you do try to leave. Take your last moments of your life to prepare to become one with The Way.”
Leython saw that the enemy ACU moved closer and closer to the gate. He did not know what would happen if the wake was magnified by a commander that was trying to gate, but it might collide with the wake that was still present at his own base, damaging his own ACU. Now was the first time that he worried about what was going to happen.
“EarthCom, this is lieutenant Dygonn, what happens if a commander gates while the quantum wake is still present?”
“Then the gate will overload, destroying the ACU. If other gates stand in the quantum wake, they will overload as well. So stay away from your own gate,” the officer added now he noticed what was going on, “the wake will expand and merge with yours, destroying the gate in your base as well. Where you are now, you are save though.”
“Ok, thanks, I will not move, Dygonn out.”
Seeing how the commander moved into the gate, seeing how the gate charged and overloaded was one of the most terrifying things Leython had ever witnessed. The sound that was forwarded towards him, from the sensors of the Riptides, was worse than ten Colossi charging their lasers at the same time.
It seemed to hurt his ears more than a Mavor could when he was being fired away by it.
The light that emerged from it was brighter than that of an Aeon ACU explosion.
Just when Leython closed his eyes, saying, with voice-command, that his audio system in the ACU had to be turned to a much lower volume, the gate exploded and the enemy command unit had been blown away. Laying on its back, she tried to get her nearly forty meters tall unit up and flee, but she was helpless. His own gate had shut down in as in an emergency situation and Leython knew why, the quantum wake was too strong. He just had to wait for it to disappear.
Ten seconds later, the Riptide hover tanks arrived near the commander and prepared to fire. Leython was contacted again:
“Don’t kill me, I can teach you about The Way, you mustn’t do this.” She seemed to be overwhelmed by panic. Two Aeon commanders that tried to convert him they certainly did not say “I can teach you about The Way” at any time, they took a more subtle approach.
Then again, this enemy did not have the time for subtlety, because she was about to be destroyed by the hover tanks’ Gatling cannons.
“And then, going with you? To your home planet? Besides, you cannot teach me about your ‘way’ at all. I’ve heard about words of harmony and such. I remember them from teachings a long time ago, and the first hour of this battle, before you took command. But certainly not from your bold, arrogant and careless moves. Also, why do you guys call it the ‘way’, why not calling it the ‘street’?”
Leython closed wanted to close the transmission at the moment that he saw warning lights at the transmission screen. Yellow lights flashed, the warning sounds of a breached core were audible. A second later, static appeared on the screen, followed by the image that the connection was lost.
The enemy Aeon commander was dead.
“EarthCom,” Leython said after establishing a new connection, “I have eliminated the enemy commander, I will return and report as soon as I can.”
“Understood, lieutenant,” Clarke answered, Leython was patched through as soon as the EarthCom officer heard the word ‘eliminated’. Clarke continued: “A job well done, you will report to my room personally, we have some two things to discuss. One of them, you will like, the other... not.”
Clarke did not stress the last words too much, though, so Leython was not worried.
“General, it will take thirty minutes at least. That is the time that the ACU computer has estimated for the quantum wake to disappear. It is very strong now that the enemy has overloaded her gate by trying to leave Sethis too soon.”
“I understand, I will see you in an hour then. General Clarke out.”
“Knight Gawain, what is your status? How much progress have you made with the cleansing?” He asked.
“The civilians have been evacuated, no one has been cleans—” Marxon cut her off:
“You failed.” The simple words were said with no trace of compassion or compromise. Marxon face seemed appropriate for that.
“Here are your new orders, Gawain…” Marisa heard it right; she was not spoken to with the title of Knight any more. This was a bad omen.
“… You will construct a quantum gate. When the gate has been completed, a knight will arrive to replace you. When the effects of the quantum wake have dissipated, you will leave and return to Seraphim Two. Your replacement will deal with the enemy and the rest of Sethis if necessary.”
Marisa wondered why he did not send in the new knight now already. Perhaps it was because he wanted to spare energy on Seraphim Two, which was possible if a gate was constructed at the receiving end.
The Avatar of War continued: “I expect all of your units, including the three Galactic Colossi under construction, to be transferred to your replacement upon her arrival. Do you understand?”
“Yes Avatar, but I have just one question.” Marisa answered.
“What will happen to me when I arrive at Seraphim Two?” Marisa could already guess the answer; she would be exiled from the Aeon Illuminate. She was careful to keep her expression neutral regardless; having already decided that she would not comply with such an order.
Leython sent in the transports that held tier three engineers and mobile shield generators. As soon as the units were dropped off, the engineers started to build a stealth generator. There was little chance that the tier two building would protect against a watchful eye. But Leython’s tactics had depended on a bit of luck several times before, so why could he not try it now? He still had to wait for another fifteen minutes to go back to Earth. It was enough time for the enemy to send in another assault, but he and, more importantly, his Atlantis were not sitting still.
The Atlantis had almost arrived. His Fatboy was nearly in firing range of the supposed artillery array. Now, it was time to send that spy plane over the hill opposing his, where he placed his own firebase.
As the spy plane passed the hill, Leython saw twenty five tier two artillery. Those artillery could not reach the beach to decimate his hover army, but they had half of the enemy economy system under their protection. If Leython was to destroy everything but the enemy ACU, those artillery had to be destroyed, preferably by his Fatboy.
There was one problem though. Twenty artillery could destroy a Fatboy. Leython counted himself lucky that there were no shields to protect the tier two weapons, only stealth generators and anti air emplacements. An air attack would likely fail, so the only thing that could take the artillery out was the Fatboy, because he had no tier three artillery or strategic missiles available. Let alone a Mavor.
The Fatboy moved closer and the artillery started to turn around. It would take another ten seconds before the turrets of the experimental factory were going to fire, so at least one enemy salvo could reach the Fatboy without getting any return fire.
The artillery had fired and most shots were off. Leython knew that most would miss because of the same issue that the UEF had with the first shot: they had trouble aligning themselves to the enemy unit while they turned their turrets.
The Fatboy started to fire as well, Leython had ordered every turret to fire at a different artillery gun, so that there would be less fire wasted on units that were already destroyed. He could not help it, but he thanked the enemy commander for this little mistake of building no shields. Six artilleries were destroyed before they fired their second salvo. That second series of shells was a lot more accurate though. The Fatboy’s shield collapsed instantly. Those Aeon were horribly good at making their weapons accurate.
The unit was now about to be destroyed. It would only take a couple of shots from those enemy artillery. Luckily, Leython saw more dots, marked as those tier two structures, disappear. At the third salvo, the Fatboy was hit at critical components, each exploding and doing more damage to the tier four unit than any Aeon shell could have done. The first explosions caused a chain reaction, tearing the whole experimental apart. The explosions left the Fatboy unrecognizable, but it had done its job well. Only seven artillery remained and those could be destroyed with two strategic bombers. Leython decided to build two Ambassadors right away, so that problem would not last long.
“I have yet to decide, but you will be stripped of your piloting privileges.” The Avatar of War paused a moment, his tone cracking like a whip when he spoke again:
“Do you not understand?”
“I do, far better than you, Avatar.” Marisa said.
The Avatar looked even angrier than Marisa could imagine, but she was not scared. He would never be able to do any harm, not without compromising his plans at any rate. Of course, he could use the self destruct codes of her ACU, but then her opponent, Leython Dygonn, would leave Sethis alive. The only thing that he could do was give her a lecture and Marisa would not be so easily cowered
“I am baffled. You claim to understand my plans? You can’t even imagine how far from the truth you are! I no longer even see how you could ever become a princess of the Illuminate, not if you cannot understand the truth that I have accepted.” Another pause, before Marxon talked again.
“Only the complete cleansing of the UEF and the abominations of ‘doctor’ Brackman’s Cybran Nation can lead to peace across the universe. If we continue to wage war as we did, it will take another thousand years – no, ten thousand years - before we can even dream of accomplishing our goals.”
Marisa could not disagree that it would take a long time before the UEF was ready to learn about The Way, but she knew that that was not necessary to achieve peace between their people.
“Traditional warfare will cost more lives than will ever be lost through cleansing. The method might be harsh, but it is the only one that will bring glory to the Aeon Illuminate and The Way.” Marxon ended his lecture, now it was Marisa’s turn.
“Yes, you are absolutely right.” She said. If Marxon was surprised, he did not show it. Marisa knew that most knights would probably bow their heads and approved to the wisdom of their elders under such circumstances.
Then again, most knights were not as advanced in The Way as she was. Marxon’s knowledge seemed to dwarf everyone that surrounded him, but Marisa’s tutelage under Abigail Toth would not be in vain.
Marisa continued: “Yes, there will be fewer deaths in ten years than in ten thousand and why? Not because of your plans, because those will contribute to a then thousand year lasting war! You will not succeed in this, Marxon! Rhianne Burke will see to that. She has not been chosen as princess over me without proper reasoning. Only through her actions can we hope for an end to this war. Peace cannot be achieved through genocide!”
Any person would have stepped back by Marisa’s harsh tone, but the Avatar did not. He didn’t even flinch. His current facial expression remained exactly the same as the one before Marisa’s lecture. Now she was sure. She was to be exiled. All the work that she had done in the past hour was for naught. She could have stayed on Seraphim Two and perhaps help Toth and Princess Burke, but now it was too late.
She had made her opinion clear and her only remaining option was to flee from the Aeon Illuminate. Still, she had one trick left up her sleeve: her ACU.
Ten minutes had passed since the last group of the convoy had left. He had survived half of the time he had to wait, but nothing had happened at all… Something was wrong here. To find out what, Leython had built over thirty Blackbird spy planes, they all had their own flight path, all paths crossed each other directly above the enemy and the planes were aligned to each other, so that they all would reach the cross point at the same time.
What Leython saw, apart from thirty crashing spy planes because of anti air, was a well-protected beach at the back of the base and a quantum gate that was about to deliver a second commander.
Why? And why, to Leython’s shock, did the ACU that fought for an hour here already, eject the upgrade it had now, to construct a new one?
Judging by the fluctuation of the enemy shields at the very moment that the surviving spy planes left the base, the commander was constructing the most expensive upgrade in terms of energy: the teleportation upgrade. It meant that a new commander would take over command here and that she was going somewhere else. This spelled nothing good. More so because of the three Galactic Colossi that were being constructed. In eight minutes, Leython guessed, the experimental bots would be completed and on their way to his base. Since the new commander was going to assume command then, Leython thought it was not likely that those three Colossi were going to hold back.
No other Aeon commander had battled him like she, whoever she was. When she no longer had control over this army, it was game over, back to war, but Leython was ready, just as his gate. He did not have to fight for so long at all. Just to hold out for another ten minutes, which was easy because the enemy experimentals could not arrive before that time has passed. On these thoughts, there was nothing to worry about.
Just one question remained: why would his opponent use a teleportation module if she could just wait long enough for the quantum wake on her own side of the island had dissipated. Did she not want to? Was she ordered to go to another location on Sethis? Leython had to take appropriate actions to whatever was going to happen.
The teleportation upgrade was completed. Just a minute ago, seemingly countless spy planes had flown over Marisa’s base a minute ago. They were shot down by SAM sites and her air superiority fighters, that quickly took off to deal with the enemy planes. It did not matter in the least. She could no longer be stopped. There was no safe return to Seraphim Two, the title of Knight was already taken away from her. She was not going to let the same thing happen with her ACU.
Before Marxon ended the transmission, he said that she was blind for the truth, but in fact, she embraced it. It was the Avatar who was blind. Blind for the simple fact that his efforts would not end the war. She finally knew what that one vision meant that she witnessed three months ago.
A man who burned a thousand houses, killing everyone inside, to ensure the safety of his own family, was killed by his own brothers. The ones he told that he would take care of everything, took care of him. Marxon was this man. It was only a matter of time before Marisa could see who the brothers, or sisters, where.
But to be able to see it, she had to be on the same place as Marxon at his final moments, which she couldn’t do without her ACU. She could not be in on the run Aeon territory with this gigantic machine though. So she had to leave to another planet. However, as soon as she transferred her units to the new knight that had arrived just moments ago, the quantum gate would be reset. It would send anything that went through it, towards the planet that the ‘owner’ came from. In this case, directly back to Seraphim Two, to the Avatar of War. She had to use another quantum gate.
“Knight Gawain, hey! Are you daydreaming?” Marisa woke up out of her thoughts. The other commander was Lisa Thazin, who obviously was anxious to start. The search, or rush, for adventure was a bad habit. It blinded people, it made them arrogant.
Thazin quickly continued now she saw that Marisa was paying attention: “Your Galactic Colossi are almost finished. Prepare to transfer all units to me now.”
Had she lost herself in her thoughts for so long? Apparently, because it really was seventeen minutes after the last convoy had passed the quantum gate and left Sinivar Island. Just twenty seconds remained before the third Galactic Colossus had been completed in its construction. Now, the tricky part came along. Marisa had to wait for two and a half minutes before the quantum wake on the enemy’s side of the island had disappeared. The units had to be transferred now already. She had to stretch things before teleporting off, because she still needed four tier three quantum reactors to do the teleportation.
Marisa had an idea and started to talk to Lisa: “I have survived this battle up to now because of my own knowledge and the brilliance of my opponent, Leython Dygonn. He knows what he is doing, all the time. For your own sake, do not fight him without showing him the proper respect. Do not taunt him. Do not try his patience and do certainly not try any blind assault on his base. If you do either of that, you will die. Only a smart commander, a commander who can make him think, is good enough to take him on and leave this place alive.”
“He is just a UEF commander. Those are blind and know little. We are enlightened. Naturally, I will win this battle and finish him.”
“You won’t get away from him alive, then. It’s tragic that I have to tell you this. I’m sorry, but I am the last person that will see you alive. You cannot think that you will kill him because you are known with The Way and he is not. As a matter of fact, if he knew so little as you claimed, he and I could not have fought in harmony with each other like we have done. We, Leython and I, could not have tested each other’s abilities and still be alive now if either of us was not so smart. I am sorry if this did not help you any further, farewell, I must go now.”
On those words, Marisa activated the teleportation module.
The quantum wake in his base had dissipated. It was time to leave Sethis. Leython turned his ACU around when he suddenly noticed an enemy unit standing in the middle of his base. He had no idea how it could have arrived there, just without him seeing it happen, until he saw that it was the enemy commander, his opponent.
The commander walked towards his quantum gate as fast as she could. Leython saw that she had ejected all upgrades already. She was going there before he could. It meant that he had to wait for another twenty minutes, thus facing three Galactic Colossi that were now going towards his base.
The puzzle was solved. This commander no longer held command over her units. She must have transferred them just after she teleported towards here. Apparently, it was possible to teleport away even if a quantum wake was still present in the area of departure. Regardless, she almost made it towards the quantum gate now, artillery had turned around, he had to be careful not to let them fire and accessed them immediately. Using his own voice to give commands, which he had never done before because he didn’t thrust the technology of audio-command, but he had no choice now:
“Hold fire!” He yelled, immediately continuing: “Quantum gate, change destination: New destination is the location of the Sethis moon, with the lowest energy cost to go there!”
A neutral automatic voice answered him: “Code clearance required.” Leython cursed, this Aeon commander was not allowed to gate back to a core planet. Then half of the UEF military would be mobilized because the high ranked officials would think that the Federation was about to face a full scale invasion from the Aeon. More importantly, this Aeon commander would die.
He just remembered that his ACU was upgraded with a special procedure if there was an emergency. He spat on a tiny display to his left hand and yelled: “Override every safety procedure of the quantum gate and repeat: Its destination is the Sethis moon, with the lowest energy cost to travel!”
The display had turned red as soon as he spat on it. It analyzed Leython’s DNA in less than one thousandth of a second. Having ‘heard’ the correct voice that was supposed to be with this DNA, the ACU transmitted the orders to the quantum gate just at the moment that the Aeon command unit walked into the blue, wall-like beam. With one bright flash, it was gone.
Lisa Thazin sent the three Galactic Colossi across the island. Apparently, these experimental weapons were the only ones that Gawain had built after her last failed assault. Since the Colossi were so powerful, Thazin reckoned that one was strong enough to deal with the base on its own. There were no units in sight at all.
Why did she had to plan her assault if it was so obvious that the enemy stood no chance against three Sacred Assault Bots? She sent the bots apart from each other. One left her western entrance and went to the north in one straight path. Another left her base via the eastern entrance and also that one moved in one line towards the enemy base.
The third took the most direct approach. It was on the move through the middle of the island, through the destroyed city. Just to make sure that all would go perfect, she ordered the Colossi to arrive at the enemy base simultaneously. The enemy commander could have a minor trick that allowed him to take on one bot at the same time, postponing his death. Three should be too much for him in any way, but even then it did not matter if this assault failed because this Dygonn had to wait another twenty minutes before he could leave the planet.
Marisa said that she was going to die if she could not make Dygonn think? Three Galactic Colossi would make him think, so there was no way that she was going to end in an explosion on Sethis.
Three minutes later, Leython had perfectly prepared against two enemy experimental bots. The only one that was an issue, was the third, the one going through the enemy city. He was already frantically completing his three Fatboys under construction: one close to the artillery, the two others on the western side of the island.
The Fatboys were about to be completed in one minute, two minutes before the Colossi could arrive.
The third could arrive at the base without being fired at by anything. Leython could still get the Broadswords from his Atlantis, or recall the one hundred and fifty Riptides back to his base, drop them near the Colossus and destroy it in that way, but the only thing he had to do is preventing the assault bot from burning his base down. One way or another.
Lisa’s Sacred Assault Bots moved closer and closer, all the time, it looked like they were going to destroy Leython’s base without any resistance. Until…
Suddenly, twenty seven shells from enemy artillery rained down upon the Colossus to the east. Several shells were wrong, but most hit it. What was going on here? In their first salvo, artillery were not supposed to be accurate.
Knight Thazin did not know Leython had turned the artillery around, with their guns pointed towards the location where the assault bot would come in range. Because they now only had to align themselves and not turn around completely anymore, the enemy artillery had no issues with their first shot any more.
The second Galactic Colossus did not fare any better. A constant rain of shells descended upon it. The shells created an enormous heat, melting away the armor of the experimental. Now another stream hit the eastern bot, which meant, so thought Lisa, that a Fatboy must have come to the artilleries’ aid.
But Lisa was not worried. One experimental was still moving on, towards the base. There was no way that this one would be destroyed before it reached the enemy base and destroyed it. If the enemy fled towards the sea, Lisa had her next move done already. The Aeon’s Shocker, their tier three strategic bomber, could destroy the enemy ACU in this shallow water. Torpedo bombers would probably have no use, because the torpedoes were going to fall into the sand. There was no way she could lose.
“The western Colossus has lost fifty per cent of its structural integrity and is going down soon in a matter of seconds. Its first engine is going to blow…” The EarthCom officer said just at the moment that a deafening explosion erupted from the massive experimental. A chain reaction followed, destroying more and more engines.
The top of the Colossus was blasted some meters up before falling onto the grass, in four large pieces. Leython was glad that he did not stand there with his ACU. Such heaps of metal were heavy enough to crush the almost forty meter tall mech and kill him. The arms of the Colossus had been blown away as well and lay on the ground just before the massive torso struck the grass, which instantly burned in the heat.
The other Colossus was still walking towards the base, but because it was being fired at by artillery and the third Fatboy, it was going down in less than thirty seconds nonetheless.
When he thought about things going down, his thoughts led him back to the only Galactic Colossus that was still unharmed. He already sent the, now idle, Fatboys from the western front towards it, but they would not come in time. Standing near the beach, with his new ACU upgrade, he saw the Colossus walking towards his base while charging the core behind its eye, preparing the phason laser. Leython started to walk towards it.
But Leython didn’t build Strikers, he constructed a large hover army. This army would be dropped three hundred meters away from the enemy shore. Then, they should move towards it and take out the most important buildings there. This made that his opponent would be busy restoring her base while Leython just waited to gate out, back to Earth.
He could use all these resources for the defense, to build more and more tier two artillery, but he was building Fatboys as well. Besides, if he managed to destroy the enemy base, those defenses were not necessary anymore. The best defense was the offense.
The fact that his air factory was occupied with the construction of air transports meant that Leython needed an extra air factory. It was time to build the Atlantis. This experimental air factory, that was able to submerge, could construct an air force in little time. It should build air superiority fighters and heavy gunships.
It would take some time before the build of the Atlantis was completed, so in the air, the battle had to wait. Leython hoped that his opponent would agree to that, otherwise he was in serious trouble.
Although, “trouble”, he still had forty nine mobile flak vehicles left from his trap, they could deal with enemy airborne forces.
Despite for the speed that tier three units flew at, they could be damaged by the somewhat slow grenades from flak. If strategic bombers flew in large groups, the first of them wouldn’t be hit, but those behind should get a full shot of air grenades. A smart commander could deal with that issue however, by sending several smaller groups all around. However, that again was no issue for someone who knew how to turtle up with shields.
Each small group of bombers came from a different direction, facing a different shield. In the first pass, those bombers wouldn’t break through the shields. On the second pass, they faced shields on the opposite side of the base. Then, SAM sites would take them down.
So all Leython had to do to protect his own base was building tier three SAM sites. The Wasps built at his Atlantis, which was halfway through construction now, could protect the Broadswords that had to be built as well.
The first Oblivion cannons at the beach were a fact. Along with stealth generators, so that her opponent could not see it, the cannons were able to ‘sink’ the hovering tanks. Assuming that Dygonn was constructing heavy gunships as well, Marisa decided that some flak could be useful as well. Together with the Aeon’s most powerful shields, the Radiances, this beach could become impenetrable.
The first Galactic Colossus was being constructed as well. This one should go on his own, just before the last civilians could leave.
It should make Marxon think that she was trying her best on cleansing whatever was still in reach, but he might notice that it was an obvious mistake to send only one Sacred Assault bot towards the base, with just twenty harbingers. Marisa knew that the enemy artillery were able to hit the bot and that an enemy experimental mobile factory was probably going to give covering fire as well. Her forces didn’t stand a chance then. Still, it was better than spending no time in trying to gain the Avatar of War’s confidence.
“Now, what if I were to be attacked by a Galactic Colossus now?” Leython thought, it was time to contact EarthCom again.
“Earthcom, I need you to check in on some sort of scenario: A UEF base, with twenty artillery seven hundred meters away from that base, on the right. Do you get that?”
“Yes, sir, what comes next?”
“A Galactic Colossus moving towards the base, dead on.”
“Probability that the Colossus will reach the base and deal damage is fourty five per cent.”
“Now what if a Fatboy is with the artillery?”
“Then the chance will go down to five per cent, if the enemy is lucky. A Fatboy has to fire with all guns for only forty seconds on the Colossus, and with those artillery assisting, there’s nothing to worry about.”
“Thanks, Lieutenant Dygonn out.”
He had to hurry up with his Fatboy. If that weapon wasn’t finished before a Galactic Colossus reached his base, this battle was over, in a negative way. Without a Fatboy, the damage dealt to the enemy bot depended on how much of the Klink Hammer shells hit it.
Marisa’s first Galactic Colossus was constructed. It was time to send it. The Sacred Assault bot was very powerful, but also very slow. A group of enemy artillery was able to take it down, despite the incredible armor. If Dygonn had a Fatboy, it wouldn’t make it even close to the shields of his base.
The Colossus moved forward, with fifteen harbingers at its side. Sensors showed that the quantum wake at the opposite of the island suddenly increased again. The third group left Sethis.
This Galactic Colossus was estimated to arrive a minute before the fifth group went through the gate. Marisa immediately started construction of the second bot, queued up the third and the fourth, that would make the final assault.
She could construct a CZAR as well, a flying fortress, but it would be no use. That unit was able to fly one meter before being shot down, it was so fragile and slow. She also had three tier three air factories now, so the construction ability of the CZAR was useless. No, she better continued on the current strategy, that was flawless: likely to fail but it ensured her own safety more than perfectly.
Using the resources to the maximum, Leython had finally completed construction of the Fatboy. The mobile factory was expensive, especially when much mass was needed for other projects. The Atlantis was constructed as well and while it moved around the island, so the air force could attack the enemy base from behind, where there was no protection.
The first enemy experimental bot moved closer a few minutes later. Tier four units were slow, so slow that if commanders saw one halfway the battlefield, coming to their base, they’d still have enough time to set up some proper defense. That was fourty years ago.
Now, the story was different. The UEF Fatboy’s range had been increased so much that it almost matched the range of tier two artillery. Besides that, the Fatboy had a powerful shield that could withstand the firepower of fifteen shells.
The inaccuracy of the artillery would not matter against larger shields, so the protective dome around the Fatboy was small; the shells were still too far off to do damage. All in all, the Fatboy was now strong enough to come to an enemy base and lay siege to it. The experimental war factory was quite a match to the best defended bases.
The same case was for the Aeon Colossus. Thirty seven years ago, when it was first seen, it was nothing but a gigantic mech with a terrifying laser on it, but it lacked armor in every way. Now, it had so much armor that it could break through most bases without any issues. Tier two artillery and, again, the UEF Fatboy were the only useful weapons on land to take it down without being damaged by it.
In the air, Broadswords and strategic bombers could help very much as well, but Leython did not want to use the little air he had, that was part of his assault.
The first Klink Hammers turned their turrets while the fourth group of the convoy left the planet of Sethis via the quantum network. It was only up to now that Leython noticed that the enemy had sent more than just a Colossus. Other units supported it. Nothing for him, not to notice gray dots for three minutes. Was he dreaming away?
It could very well be, this battle created so many questions about his enemy, his opponent, that he thought of everything that was remotely connected with this battle, but not necessary to win it: the history of the experimental, the strange way his opponent probably thought on how to wage war. What kind of game he was actually playing with her. All useless in order to win the battle. It was not his job to think about it. It was his job to get the civilians out and then leave by himself.
Despite the fact that he shouldn’t, he did think about it. This girl, he wanted to meet her. Know who she was. He realized that, because of the game, she was much like him…
One point twenty five per cent. The damage the first salvo of the enemy artillery had done to the Sacred Assault Bot. For the proportions of that bot, this amount of damage meant virtually nothing. At the Lyceum of Knights, on Seraphim Two, Marisa was instructed that the Galactic Colossus could withstand enormous amounts of damage. She knew better now. Despite the fact that one and one fourth of a per cent seemed naught, it was an enormous amount.
To understand that, one had do understand what this Colossus was up against. It faced about twenty tier two artillery, if not more. Despite the fact that this enemy fire base was stealthed, Marisa knew that it was located on a hill without a front entrance. This meant that she had to send the bot through commander Dygonn’s base if she wanted to take them down. The colossus could not make it even towards the main entrance to the base if the next salvo’s were more accurate.
And they were. Marisa suspected it already. She knew that the first salvo was likely to miss because artilleries had to turn and align themselves with the enemy unit completely. This issue was hurting her more than Dygonn though. The artillery that missed the Colossus hit the escorting Harbingers. Her tier three bots were severely damaged. Most of them could not withstand another hit from the artillery. Here, one could see how easily a heavily armored, large army can be destroyed.
It just took some weapons that were not one hundred per cent accurate, but fired projectiles with a large area of effect. Several units were hit at the same time, so the enemy weapons actually inflicted three or four times the damage they normally did.
Then there was the damage dealt to the Galactic Colossus itself. That bit more than one per cent seemed nothing, but it was only with one Artillery that hit it. Now, with the third series of shells hitting the army, the Colossus had already lost forty per cent of it’s armor. It wouldn’t take long before it was down. Just four more salvos and it was over.
Perhaps the Sacred bot could charge it’s laser to take down one shield, but that thought was quickly lost in the barrage that suddenly hammered the Colossus at its front.
The Fatboy started to assist in the barrage that fell upon the enemy army. Leython saw that there was not much of an army left though. Only one unit remained. Leython did not have to scout to know that it was the Galactic Colossus. It was obvious since it survived over thirty shots from his Klink Hammer array. The Fatboy’s barrage would surely take down layer after layer of the Galactic Colossus.
Four, five, six seconds and the enemy bot seemed to move on just like nothing was happening. Then, it suddenly seemed to accept all of the enemy fire as a large explosion erupted from the top of the gigantic mech. Leython did not know what, in the name of the entire UEF arsenal, had caused that. It was not something that could be caused by a weapon of the Federation, but he did not know that yet.
He quickly constructed a tier one scout with his factory. It was not necessary to build a more sophisticated version, because the hummingbird would reach the Colossus without any issues.
What he saw was as terrifying as the Colossus’s sturdy and all-ignoring approach: the entire top of the bot was blown away. Leython assumed that the constant fire of the Fatboy was aimed too high. It had hit the Colossus at almost two hundred meters of height. There was its laser eye located. The heat of the bullets probably caused the weapon to explode.
What was more interesting was that in those six seconds, only one of the turrets of the Fatboy had hit the eye, the rest of them had hit the Colossus at a much lower altitude. This meant that the damage done to the eye was equivalent to one tactical missile.
So the Galactic Colossus was useless. She ordered it to turn around and go back to her base, so that she could reclaim it, but the Sacred Assault Bot would probably be destroyed by the artillery and the Fatboy.
Such a gigantic weapon and when it was destroyed it only looked like a gigantic heap of metal that lay on the ground. When the bot had received the critical amount of damage, it would fall down like person that had been executed by a shot in the back of his head.
An ACU exploded in a massive thermonuclear explosion if it was taken out. A weapon like the Colossus did not. Marisa thought that it was strange, until she had found the differences between the ACU’s core and the engines of the Sacred Assault Bot.
A command unit had a core that was capable of producing mass and energy. This piece of technology was very sophisticated, but also very volatile. The twenty four engines in the Colossus’s heart were not designed to create resources, only to move. While the ACU had to use the core to fire its weapons as well, the Colossus had a special core engine behind its eye, to fire the phason laser.
That core exploded now because of the fire that the enemy Fatboy had laid upon it. So apparently, this core was of a high energy signature, like the ACU core. The eye was not as heavily armored as the rest of the Colossus. Marisa saw that her experimental had succumbed to the firepower of the enemy Artillery array now. The armor on the back was destroyed. That was another “nice” aspect of the Colossus, Marisa suddenly thought.
If the armor on the front was damaged, countless microscopic bots would remove some on the back and add it on the other side. The downside of this was that, if one turned the Sacred bot around, the armor was not as strong as it could be, because some was removed. Now, for this Colossus, it did made the difference.
Marisa knew that the assault was to fail, but she did not expect this to happen. The situation was going to be very dangerous if she let that mass field be reclaimed. There were no enemy air superiority fighters though. So one pass with a strategic bomber should be enough.
Just before the Galactic Colossus was destroyed, the fifth group of the convoy passed the gate, creating bright flashes of light as the left Sethis. The civilians were save. After they had been transported by air, used in a trap to remove the enemy’s air superiority, they had to wait in Leython’s base for the quantum gate to be constructed. They even heard the hammering of the Klink Hammers and the experimental land factory that fired upon the Colossus.
The fifth group leader, a local island tour guide, contacted Leython, in panic, when the top of the enemy experimental had exploded. It terrified him, he thought that a power generator or something like that, close to this last group of the convoy, had exploded. He thought that the enemy Colossus was close to the convoy, that it was about to destroy it, killing everyone inside.
Leython had to reassure him that everything was all right, in fact, that it all was going better than expected.
Now the fifth group was away, Leython could start his own assault. The Atlantis was far from reaching its destination, however. It was time to reclaim the wrecks that once were tier three bots, as well as the remainder of the experimental weapon.
His opponent probably expected this, so it was time to send in some mobile shields as well. While he did all of that, he would send his own Fatboy towards the enemy base. Not via the most expected way though, but closest to where the enemy artillery were located.
When he did his assault towards the enemy base to find out what the trap was that the Aeon commander had set up, he had noticed that there were enemy tier two artillery guns. He thought that he should send a spy plane, the Blackbird over this area.
His idea of the assault he had planned now, was to destroy the enemy base, but leave the commander alive. This allowed him to leave the planet without any issues, while he had the chance to meet her again… But what would happen to her after she left, would she survive all battles that she still faced? Or would he die tomorrow already? Leython hoped that the answers, that eventually would come, could please him.
As soon as the air units arrived at the enemy base, the bombers went down. A large group of flak, which Leython hadn’t seen because of stealth generators, concentrated their fire in the air. Leython, forgetting to make more assault groups, was irritated a bit by his own fault.
With some quick management of the gunships, they left formation. It saved two third of the total amount of stingers and also their Pillar tanks, Parashields and flak vehicles they transported.
While the stingers dropped their units, they fired at the target Leython quickly pointed out for them.
The plan was to destroy the enemy shield generators.
Normally, gunships flew at a higher altitude than the tier two generator’s shield reached. This made it impossible to fly underneath the shield and take out the fragile generator.
Now the gunships were landing, they could do so and so it happened. Six tier two generators were destroyed, exposing the equipment underneath: Oblivion cannons, mobile flak vehicles, tier two heavy tanks, all weaponry that was capable of doing tremendous damage on Leython’s attack force. An artillery shot arrived at Leython’s tanks, destroying five of them immediately. Two gunships, which were slow to take off, were taken out as well.
“And he knows it.” Marisa said to herself. She noticed the seemingly relentless assault, which ended in chaos because of her trap. She saw that her opponent was doing a desperate job to keep the gunships in the air, despite the overwhelming amount of flak fired at them. The UEF commander was faring well though and Marisa knew that he must have known that it was a trap he got his troops in.
If a commander would fall into such a trap without knowing it beforehand, he could not do such a concentrated micro management. He would be surprised for the first seconds. If this commander were surprised, he would have lost all of his gunships instead of managing to save two third by just sending them sideward.
The result was that the gunships now had landed and dropped their units at the two secondary entrances of her base. Now, they would wreak havoc in there. It was good that Marisa had suspected such things to happen. Now, she had a complete squad of interceptors still at hand, under the protection of her stealth generator.
That stealth generator also housed the artillery which now was firing at the enemy tanks. The first shot was a direct hit already. Oblivion cannons had turned their cannons, but not before being damaged severely. Enemy shield generators were online now, so the first salvo of shots would not do anything. Marisa knew that the defenses were lost, but that the same would happen to the enemy army.
“Come on, where are your hidden interceptors, they should come by know and take out my gunships.” Leython had just enough time to say it, before the enemy fighters arrived and finished off the gunships that were damaged.
“Ah, now my attack is lost. It’ll just take some time before those enemy tanks have destroyed mine as well.” He saw that his Pillars had destroyed the enemy Point defense towers, but the tanks were still working and his own mobile shields collapsed under the merciless fire of those tanks. It wouldn’t take long anymore.
That the Point defenses had been destroyed was nice, but Leython had no land units left. In fact, he was upgrading all of his factories to go to tier three now. The battle was to reach the next stage. Air factories had to be upgraded next.
Leython was surprised by his speed again, without noticing, he had upgraded mass extractors while building an army, setting a trap and attacking with all of his firepower.
“Now, what will happen next?” Marisa thought.
“Knight Gawain, I see that you have not yet cleansed the convoy. The citizens are in the enemy base. You will attack that base and destroy the trucks.” The Avatar contacted her again. She noticed that he grew impatient.”
“Avatar, I need more advanced weaponry. The enemy will upgrade to tier three shortly and despite the fact that our harbingers are stronger than their tier three bots, I doubt that I’ll ever be able to breach through the base defenses. I am sending an air scout over his base, or for so far as it can go before being shot down and I see that he is turtling up. I cannot break his base without experimental weaponry.” Marisa responded.
“Then you will get authorization to build Galactic Colossi, Air fortresses and Tempest battleships. But why haven’t you built a fleet yet?”
“I would have to send an engineer five kilometers out of shore. The water closer to the island is too shallow and full of reefs. Our destroyers can therefore not reach the opposite side of the island, where the enemy is. Naval is not of use here.”
“Very well, use tier two and perhaps tier three artillery to break his shields. You will still get the ability to build experimentals, use them well.” And Marxon ended the transmission again.
“Commander Dygonn, general Clarke here. How is the situation?” It was not EarthCom who contacted him? Surely the general was bored again, or his mission was really important. Then he realized, as a matter of fact, that his mission was that important.
“I have evacuated the citizens and I am one minute short of constructing a quantum gate, then my first tier three engineer will be built. On the note of the battle here, my enemy and I are very closely balanced.” Leython answered.
“Ok, you will also gain access to our experimental weapons. The Atlantis is perhaps less useful because of the shallow shore close to the island, so you can only use it because of the enormous speed it can build air units. Those fighters and strategic bombers will have to fly some time then.” Clarke answered before continuing: “The Mavor is expensive, but will immediately pay off if you finish it, don’t start construction however, before you are absolutely save in your base. The Mavor will help break the enemy base shields, but cannot be used as a defensive weapon like the Fatboy.”
“Thanks general, Dygonn out.” Leython ended the transmission and he noticed what his opponent was about to do: another attack, probably the last tier two assault was about to arrive at the middle plateau, where Sinivar recently stood. Now, only The Black Hawk was left.
Marisa sent in the tier two assault force to see what would happen. She expected that her opponent could not send anything against it, so that the group of tanks and shield generators was able to go all the way to the enemy base.
The tanks and Mobile Missile launchers came closer to The Black Hawk. The first missiles were fired, Marisa tried to stop the Evensongs from firing, such a beautiful thing as that had not to be destroyed but the first missiles were already on the way.
By the time she had stopped the units, the tanks had the building in their range. Deadly bolts went everywhere. The pillars were destroyed in an instant. For some reason the Evensong missile launchers started to fire again, it was too late. The Black Hawk collapsed under the devastating power of plasma bolts and missiles alike.
“Damn you! You make me wonder now, what are you, one seeking harmony or just plain evil?” Leython yelled. He contacted EarthCom:
“EarthCom, the enemy destroyed the BlackHawk, she’s evil!”
“Commander Dygonn, relax, it’s just a roller coaster.” The officer replied.
“Just a roller coaster? What are you saying there? It is the best roller coaster in the UEF. A symbol of freedom, I agree that it is not the fastest, longest or the one with the best G forces, but it is the most beautiful one.”
“Sir, have you been on that one in your life?” The officer asked him.
“No, but commander Arnold has, and he told me that that one is the best because it gives that perfect feeling.” Leython said.
“If you say so, now please evacuate the civilians, your gate is ready and aligned to the quantum network. You can send them in groups of ten trucks, then wait three minutes for the next group because of the quantum wake. After they are all sent, hold out twenty minutes for your ACU to be gated. EarthCom out.” The officer closed the transmission.
That meant he had to hold out for thirty five minutes now, Leython thought, while he contacted the first group of the convoy: “I already assumed I had to send you guys in groups of ten trucks, which is why I’ve made such groups before you were transported here by air. Now, the first group can go.”
“Thank you commander Dygonn, all of the important citizens, as well as doctor Sweeny are in this group. We’re going now, good luck.”
The first group passed the gate, the trucks disappeared as if they passed a wall that vaporized them. Bright flashes of light erupted from the gate for each passing vehicle. The first group was away.
The tier two assault force came closer to the enemy base. The Evensongs were almost in firing range.
They stopped and started to launch their missiles. The Obsidian tanks continued forward with the mobile shield generators.
Normally, Marisa would order them to stop and wait before the missile launchers had done their job, but this battle was not the place for the best tactics, she might break through, even with this puny force and that was not supposed to happen.
The Obsidian tanks were taken under fire. Shield after shield collapsed, in quick succession. Marisa saw that her opponent had some tier two artillery as well, judging by the explosions that met the shields. Enemy point defenses fired at the tier two heavy tanks. It didn’t take long before they were destroyed. With only a couple of them being able to fire at the enemy shield generators, this assault failed miserably, just as Marisa expected.
The Mobile Missile Launchers were still firing and Marisa let them, It would not take long before they were destroyed, she assumed.
Another salvo of missiles hit the shield generators. Leython saw a mass of ten to twelve dots on his radar screen. He didn’t have to send a scout to check out what they were. His Klink Hammer tier two artillery could reach them, and so they fired. The first artillery was off, but the second one hit the enemy units spot on. Without a protecting shield, these units were no match for such rude firepower.
Tier three, he had finally reached it. Most of his land factories were able to build titans now, but Leython decided not to let them do so. First, it was time to build more shield generators, and of course a couple of Tier three fusion reactors.
The air factory advanced to tier three as well. It was time to build Air superiority fighters. Air support was crucial for the UEF’s land forces, just as for the other faction’s forces as well. If the enemy had strategic bombers, the siege assault bots could be destroyed in no time. The UEF had an additional advantage with air superiority, though. The Broadsword was, in Leython’s opinion, the best air unit that ever existed. They were very strong, so strong that they could even take fire from several mobile flak vehicles for a little time.
This, and the devastating firepower, made the Broadswords the perfect weapons to destroy the Aeon Galactic Colossus. Leython calculated that the enemy experimental bot had to be hit by eighty shells from a Klink Hammer. Now that was not too hard either, if you could support sudden spike in required energy and if you could protect the, probably twenty, artillery in your base, it was just that heavy gunships did not face such issues.
Leython was already building artillery at a plateau near his base, opposite to where his opponent was building them. There would be twenty five Klink Hammers, all protected by two tier three shield generators and some stealth generators.
The loss of her tier two army made the battle completely balanced, Marisa knew. Neither she or her opponent had an assault force. Neither of them had navy, since it was completely useless. Neither of them had something else than interceptors for air. She had an omni sensor now, along with her first large quantum reactor the Aeon’s tier three power generator.
Her opponent probably had the same. Her air factory just completed the upgrade to tier three. Her three land factories already met that tier a minute ago. Perhaps it looked a bit stupid if three factories were upgraded their highest tier, because one factory, with a lot of engineers as assistance, had the same firepower. Now however, three factories had a powerful advantage over one, because each factory was aligned with one entrance to her base.
Units coming from a factory would gather near that entrance at an open spot. If she was attacked by a powerful land force on all three sides, there still was nothing to worry about.
She also had to protect a beach, if enemy hover tanks arrived. She just received word from her assistants at Seraphim Two. They had her opponent’s name: Leython Dygonn.
This Dygonn was known with some Aeon knights already. He was a good assistant for other UEF commanders. With his astonishing efficiency of gathering intel, he quickly found weak spots in enemy formations, defenses, or strategies and then he exploited them. Because he ‘merely’ assisted others, he usually had no army, but only economy. Especially energy was important for him. Sometimes he had to maintain five omni sensors at once.
The way he exploited enemy weaknesses was usually in the verbal way: he ordered his allies where to attack, with which units. They complied immediately. Such strategies were highly effective, Seraphim Two said. In all battles where Dygonn assisted, there was no casualty on the UEF front, but more than ten Aeon Knights had already been killed because of his assistance.
This was no one hundred per cent accurate intel, however. It was an assumption, but it could very well be fairly correct, the analysts at Seraphim Two had searched for keywords in their own database. Then they watched the replays that came up containing such keywords. The words Marisa had given were “plan before attack” and “intel first”.
The most probable answer was that she was fighting against Leython Dygonn. It could be two other commanders, but one had recently been killed and the other retired two years ago. Then, they took a quick look at the results of all battles that the commander, which was the one to their opinion, had fought. By this way, they came up with the casualties and Dygonn’s expertise on intel warfare.
It was not that Leython Dygonn only dealt blows to the Aeon and did not got hit back though. He had to retreat several times, just because it was too late to turn the tide if he gated in later in the battle.
So she was fighting against Leython Dygonn. An exceptional strategist. This commander would certainly see her undefended beach and attack with the powerful hover tanks that the UEF had available at tier two.
She had noticed, by the new quantum wake eruption that her sensors had shown, that the second group of civilians had left. She wondered when Marxon would contact her again. It was time to build a powerful assault force that was strong enough to destroy the enemy base, but just at the moment that Dygonn was leaving the planet. She therefore had to wait twenty nine minutes before reaching the enemy base.
Twenty nine minutes, that would probably give the ability to build four Galactic Colossi and a large group of harbingers. An air force should be present by then too. The enemy base was to go down just a second too late, so that it would look like that she did her best. It was not likely that Marxon did not forgive her faults, but she had to try. One who does not try does not reach enlightenment.
Now why did Leython Dygonn have to survive? Marisa Gawain knew it. The special elements of this battle told her.
Leython continued with his economy, his fire base of artillery and the construction of broadswords and Air Superiority Fighters. Engineers could shortly begin construction on the first Fatboy. His commander could start the upgrade of the Resource Allocation System now. Leython had just removed the Zephyr firepower upgrade from his arm, so that there was place for the new system.
The battlefield was balanced, both commanders prepared for a large battle. Leython should start building an enormous group of Riptides now. There was a weakness in the enemy beach and Riptides could do a lot of damage. His own beach was unprotected as well, but the Aeon tier one light tanks made no threat at all because he could send his own hover tanks against them. It could be that a hovering army of shield generators and flak vehicles came along, but that posed no threat either.
His hover tanks would then just move underneath the shields and take the generators out. He was probably to sustain heavy casualties on his Riptide force, but they made up some time and their fire would force the shields to go to their maximum. Then, a quick construction of Triads at the beach was enough to make the shields collapse and the aurora’s to go down.