Gialumeth gazed down upon the destruction he caused with his ACU, his team and more than a hundred Ahwassa bombers. Again, millions of human lives were lost. His warriors attacked without remorse and death followed them closely.
The Way’s teachings were to respect all life and the ironic aspect of this war was to destroy life in order to be able to respect it in turn. Gialumeth had been informed about Jaran Marxon, Avatar-of-War of the Aeon Illuminate. He too knew that the death of humans was not an obstacle to avoid but a necessary sacrifice.
This time, it would not stop with the sacrifice of only the UEF or the Cybran Nation, but the Aeon Illuminate was to disappear as well, although that would have to come later, as the Seraphim’s arrival met issues at the first hour.
Not that it mattered for humanity in the end, thought Gialumeth, not that it mattered for the millions people who died here. Not that it mattered for the small group that managed to escape this day. Eventually, they would all be wiped out.
Gialumeth was sure that he would soon meet the Cybran and the Federation commanders again, the two who led the evacuation of the small town they were protecting. It gave the Seraphim commander, as well as his warriors, time to think about the arsenal that the enemies had at their disposal. Dozens of strategic missiles had been launched and even though those things didn’t do very much to the experimental bombers, which had left ground zero before a missile would arrive, it was a force to be reckoned with.
“Warriors.” Said Gialumeth to his subordinates after he had altered the approach of the mission. “We will no longer directly confront the enemy. We will build up a base of operations at a relative safe location of the planet. When our armies grow steadily, we will attack. The possibility of attack by strategic missiles will then be insignificant.”
“Well reasoned, commander,” replied Yxilianeth, “but we have to defeat the enemy commanders as well. When they die, the civilians will have no protection. Then we can cross the galaxy without resistance.”
“That is correct, but if we work fast, there will be no difference between our preparation and the possibility of slowing down due to a strategic attack. We will – ” Gialumeth stopped, he had just proven how useless his own idea was. If there wasn’t any difference between the time they took by preparing and the slow down they suffered from a possible strategic missile, then there wasn’t any difference the other way around either.
“Do no longer think about my new approach, it is not better than the old one. We will attack our enemies directly.”
It took more than six weeks before Leython heard about the first victory. The first direct victory over their new aggressor. QAI had been disabled for a small period of time, thanks to doctor Brackman. He managed to clear the quantum network of any distortion, which allowed the UEF and the Cybran Nation to move freely again. That wasn’t all though, since the father of the Cybrans was smart enough to include QAI’s betrayal in his message.
Being able to communicate with the rest of the universe again was a nice gesture, but it came with a dangerous problem as well. Any message might be tracked by QAI. Leython was certain that the artificial intelligence would be able to decrypt every message he sent and that wasn’t even a necessity as merely tracking the message would be enough to disclose the possible receivers’ locations. Leython would also not be surprised if QAI tracked the data soon enough to find out where he was hiding with Josh and Eric.
“I have a plan.” Said Leython to his colleagues after some hours of thinking. “It’s a dangerous idea but I don’t see how we can make our way to a larger community or more commanders in any other way.”
“Tell me, what’s the plan?” Asked Josh. “And what do we have to do?”
“I’ll travel to a UEF planet somewhere in UEF territory, a planet of which we know it isn’t habited. Then, I’ll broadcast an emergency message throughout the galaxy, claiming I am under attack by the Seraphim.”
“That’s ridiculous!” Said Eric furiously. “You’re an idiot if you think anyone will rescue you. Everyone knows what the Seraphim are capable of. Claiming such a thing is claiming you’re living your last moments. Anyone joining you to rescue you will only join you in death.”
“The Cybrans will reply.” Answered Leython calmly. “They’ll not come to the rescue directly, but we’ll find a rendezvous point where I will go to. Dostya, Brackman and others are smart enough to see I’m coming up with a ruse.”
“What about the Seraphim? QAI?” Asked Josh. “You’ll need a way to deal with that.”
“QAI will track me right away, I’ll have to work fast in order to get a quantum gate up. Given the fact that we haven’t been attacked, the Seraphim have ordered their computer not to attack me, or concentrate on me at all. They’re either underestimating the threat we pose or they’re right when they think they’ll eventually kill us when they accidentally stumble upon us.”
“If that is true, why will QAI track you?”
“It’s ordered to track everything, I think. The distortion hampered QAI’s effectiveness but it will now be able to track a lot of the network’s traffic. That is the best way to inform its masters where any humans are hiding. Since we have cut ourselves off of the network since the message from Brackman and we’re far away from Earth, we’re relatively safe. However, as soon as one of us travels, QAI will note that and strike. If we get too close to Seraphim territory, they’ll attack and we’re done for.”
“That’s not going to be easy, picking the best planet. We’re got to be far away from the Seraphim, but not too close to Sethis, then we’ll jeopardize the people here.” Said Josh.
“Not to mention that you put anyone on the planet you arrive on in danger if you accidentally go to an inhabited place.” Concluded Eric.
“Not just anyone there, but also the people who live in the immediate region of my arrival gate.”
“What about Aeon territory?” Asked Eric, but Josh had a better idea:
“Perhaps we should use the quarantine zone. That’ll provide a safe haven for you or the civilians. It’s far from the Seraphim, not easily detected by QAI and we also stay away from Aeon territory, which is good because we don’t know about them either.” Added Josh to answer Eric’s confusion look as to why travelling to the Illuminate was a dangerous plan.
“That might be a good idea. You will go to Tessalis, but not before we’re sure you can construct the food production facilities that I can build. The same problem must be solved for the radio towers. We need them to control the production facilities.”
“If we have that, what will you do?”
“I’ll travel elsewhere, sending a message from Sethis directly after you left will be a danger as well.” Said Leython.
“How so? QAI has already anticipated that you’re here, right?” Asked Eric. “That’ll make it less of a danger to be here when we communicate.”
“You’re right.” Said Josh. “Leython, why didn’t you plan this before?”
“I didn’t think of it, not before you mentioned the quarantine zone. Even I need some time to alter plans and conclude what the new situation is. I don’t have that problem in the heat of a battle of course.”
“Can we get on now?” Asked Eric. “We can talk about our characteristics later.”
“You’re right. I’ll stay here and wait some time, a couple of hours. Then I’m sure that you’ve got a base or something like that. Just for good measure. In case Aeon forces attack. They might be hostile now.”
“Then we’ll just contact you. If we can.” Said Josh. “You’ll join the battle and we’ll then have a good chance of taking them on.”
“Exactly. If it’s silent for some hours, I can safely assume that QAI has not tracked you and attacked, or ordered to attack. Then I’ll send a message through the network and the Cybrans will find a way to contact me. When that whole procedure has been dealt with, we’ll escape from QAI’s grasp and come up with a plan of action.”
“What makes you so sure the Cybrans will help you?” Asked Eric. “They’ll be hiding, assuming they’re still surviving. They’ll not risk their lives for a mere seventy to seventy-five thousand people.”
“I have designed a plan to successfully attack the fortress of Matar and even if the fortress we had designed would have made it through the UEF bureaucracy, I would’ve been successful. They have learned from that, in addition to the strategically and technical geniuses they already had there. They’ll come up with a plan that’ll get us to safety and keep them alive in the meanwhile.”
The dread of the night cast a daunting shadow over Marisa’s and Selene’s base. Two knights had joined them, named Jelea and Tomin. They were inexperienced, having joined the military ranks only a few weeks before the end of the Infinite War.
They had fought more battles in their ACU than Selene, but in turn, she had advised dozens of commanders with information, only to protect the Aeon community. Marxon had never allowed her to be involved with an assault on the UEF or the Cybran Nation, not after her so-called failure when she attacked the Three-Rivers node.
It allowed her to willingly put the most effort in her duty without being directly responsible for the massacre on Federation citizens or Symbionts. By the years that past, she gained more and more knowledge about the war, battles, the ACU and the Aeon, UEF and Cybran arsenal.
It was not nearly as much as what the best commanders knew, like Marisa or crusader Rhiza, but she could keep up with her ally who was disguised as Petrene Ellessar, the person who had trained with her loved one during her years on Tessalis.
Then again, there was nothing to fear for, as long as she stayed on Virdona, which was her job. Her base built, she took a careful look at the fortifications that knights Jelea and Tomin had constructed.
“Bad protection.” Said Marisa through the heavily encrypted channel they had made. “It is clear that they know nothing. Technically, this is a good thing but it saddens me as well, how has it come to this?”
“How we can send such recruits to battle?” Asked Selene. “We have been like this as well.”
“That is the most saddening fact.” Answered Marisa, but she corrected herself immediately: “No, that the war still is, is the most saddening fact, but inexperienced people fighting at the hardest front comes in second.”
“We had senior commanders on our field at least.” Said Selene in disgust. “Halley thinks that we’re four inexperienced knights and she willingly did this. What if we are attacked?”
“We will escape. Knights Jelea and Tomin think that we will all retreat deeper in Illiminate space but in fact, we will have our route towards the Cybran Nation or the UEF. Perhaps we may be able to contact Leython.”
“He may no longer be alive. I know, Marisa, that we must not give up hope, but...”
“Should we consider the possibility?” Asked Marisa. “As long as we do not know anything about the outside world, the only thing we can do is learning what has happened and act as soon as we know everything. Then, I will contact Leython or mourn his death. Not before I know what has become of him.”
“Yes, Marisa. I understand. Let us train now then. The bases of our fellow knights are not very good, to say the least, but I can use some more battlefield experience as well.”
“Then we shall train.”
A day after Josh and Eric evacuated the civilians to Tessalis, Leython arrived as well. Anxiety chilled Josh’s spine as he called the former UEF captain through an encrypted channel.
“Leython, come in! Did you have any success?”
“I did, we’re going to have to prepare for evacuation immediately. We’ve got one hour before we have to go.”
“One hour? We’ll have to start right away.” Said Josh while he opened a channel with Leython’s father. “Prepare for evacuation immediately. We’re going to leave within an hour. Prepare everyone!”
“An hour?!” Gasped Harm in surprise. “How are we supposed to get everyone through the quantum gates by that time?”
“Just get everyone in the convoys, mister Dygonn.” Said Josh. “We’ll worry about the gates.”
“Dad.” Said Leython. “The Cybrans can evacuate in a matter of minutes. They have given us an hour, if we fail, we’ll have to do this all over again. Failure is not an option.”
“I get it, I’ll do everything I can, keep this channel up.” Replied Harm.
“Leython, we’ve got company.” Said Eric and he immediately send spy planes in every direction. “Reading the wake signature now...”
“I’m building a base. Tell the citizens to be calm and rational, that’ll make things go faster. We’ve got that time to keep the enemy away, but if it is Seraphim, we’ve got to be very creative to hold it out for more than ten minutes.”
“It aren’t the aliens. The quantum signature I’m reading is from the Aeon.” Said Eric, having analysed his graphs.
“Contact them.” Said Josh, although it was not necessary, they were already hailed.
“This is Templar Halley of the Order of the Illuminate. You will be cleansed. For the glory of the Seraphim!”
Leython, Josh and Eric immediately shut down their channels with the Aeon pilot and Eric launched two strategic missiles as he spoke: “I’ve got more of those, but I’d rather wait some time.”
“We can take those idiots with ease.” Said Josh. “We’ve got tier three weaponry, two Mavors, nukes, Broadswords and Ambassadors.”
“Get busy, I’ll start working as well.”
Less than two minutes after Halley’s team arrived on Tessalis, she was spotted by spy planes. She immediately concluded that they were too close to the enemy’s base. Strategic bombers could attack any moment so she had immediately built a tier one radar system and ordered her subordinates to do the same, glad that her ACU was now able to do so. It would buy them some time, perhaps enough to retreat into one of the many small lakes or rivers since they were close enough to those.
That would not safe them indefinitely though, if the enemy had tier three bombers, torpedo bombers could be built in little time. As if it weren’t enough, strategic missiles could follow and those were powerful enough to decimate all forms of life and any machines in the lakes.
“Templar, I am under siege by artillery fire, considering the blast, it is a Mavor, no it are two.”
“Understood, knight Rhilasa. We will request a recall immediately.” Answered Halley.
“They will be unable to withdraw us now.” Said the knight who was under attacked by two UEF artillery at the same time. “I am retreating to the nearest lake but I do not know if I can make it. The spy planes are on me and those weapons –” Suddenly the message stopped, as well as every signal from Rhilasa’s ACU.
The only message that remained was the ACU’s destruction notification, confirmed by its explosion.
“– are accurate?” Finished Halley for the knight who had just perished.
“Seraphim Two, this is templar Halley. Our landing zone is too close to the UEF commanders, we are done for if we cannot be recalled. We are making our way to a location where the quantum wake is insignificant. However, we are running out of time, so please withdraw us as soon as you can.”
“I will prepare for that. Two minutes should be enough.”
“I estimate that we need slightly longer than that to arrive at a good location.”
“One enemy down!” Said Josh, excitement clearly audible in his voice. “We’ve got them on the run already, that’ll allow us to concentrate on the evacuation. How long do we have left?”
“Fifty-five minutes.” Replied Leython quickly. “Our biggest problem is the evacuation. How is it going Harm?” Asked the former UEF captain as he turned his eyes to his father’s screen.
“I think we’ll get everyone out in time. The civilians are cooperating, but that explosion caused some panic. I’ve got it under control, I think. Just ensure that the battle doesn’t come any closer.”
“No problem.” Said Eric. “I’ve got spy planes all over the place. Leython’s monitoring everything.”
“Enemy commanders are retreating. Should we finish them?” Asked Josh to the intelligence expert.
Leython and Eric both answered at the same time, but they didn’t agree. Leython immediately explained why they had to leave the Aeon commanders alone:
“If we kill another one, the civilians will notice. The longer they keep their cool, the better. Get gunships and strategic bombers across the field to destroy enemy structures if they give it another try. Keep the Mavor’s constant fire as well, but don’t aim for anything within the enemy’s ACU’s vicinity.”
“Why, won’t that get on the citizen’s nerves?” Asked Josh. Harm answered immediately: “They know we are in a storm, too much silence is no good either. They know something is going on, so it’s a bad thing if they don’t feel something is going on. The constant and periodic Mavor barrage will actually soothe them.”
Leython had to do his best not to succumb to his anxiety as he knew all too well what could happen on the planet, but he didn’t see any results. The Mavor artillery fired but unlike the civilians, Leython’s guts told him what he already knew, nothing really happened. He wondered what was going to happen. Was QAI planning reinforcements? Were the Seraphim about to strike? Whatever was going on, he knew that at least a small part of the Aeon military force was still fighting alongside the Seraphim forces.
Minutes passed like hours, days or weeks as Leython noticed that the Aeon commanders suddenly disappeared and Harm passed on that news to the citizens who quickly boarded the convoy’s trucks.
“General, we have uninvited guests on planet. I am unable to check who they are by their signature. Spy planes are now checking in.” Said major Johnston through his channel.
“The wake is massive, I suspect that it are some commanders evacuating civilians.” Filled one of his subordinates in, lieutenant Fer.
“This is lieutenant Yale.” Said another subordinate as he saw several Blackbirds identify one of the ACUs as Cybran. “Identify yourselves.”
“I am commander Shilon, good to meet you. I am with Jeff Lancet, a UEF commander, I’ll patch him through.”
“Commander Lancet? Report.” Said the general immediately. “Give us a brief summary of your past few months.
“We’ve been fairly lucky. I got away from Earth seconds before the enemy bombers decimated my base. Since then, I have been attacked by QAI once, only a few hours after the Seraphim invasion. We’ve retaliated the assault but couldn’t pass on the message about QAI’s betrayal. Luckily, we’ve been left alone since that giant computer failed.” Said Jeff before he had to catch some extra breath. Shilon immediately continued.
“As soon as the distortions in the quantum network stopped, we’ve planned a method to evacuate the small town we’ve protected. The other people on the planet have been warned and the local commanders said they would be preparing for evacuation. Unfortunately, the Seraphim attacked Uranus Delta too early for them. We left in time and we’re a bit surprised to find you here.”
“We have been waiting for commander Dygonn.” Said the general. “They should be here in two minutes. We will send transports for you, commander. Hop in with the civilians, we’ll take you away at the same time as Dygonn. I’ll tell my other commanders to build additional gates.”
“Understood.” Replied Jeff. “Shilon, you’re coming with us, whether you like it or not and whether the general likes it or not.”
“Don’t worry about me, I’d like to stick with the UEF for a little longer.”
It was only ninety seconds later that another group arrived on the planet. A larger group this time and Leython was contacted immediately.
“Commanders, I’m ready, let’s get us out of here.” Said Leython immediately but the general, unknown to him, had different plans.
“We have encountered more refugees. Ten thousand civilians extra, who all have to make their way to the Cybran hideouts. While we have prepared ourselves with redundant quantum gates, we don’t enough. I expect we have to wait five minutes longer.”
“Five minutes can be too much. It is what killed lieutenant Wigan.” Said Josh immediately. “We’ve met some Seraphim and their weaponry is extremely powerful.”
“We know, commander.” Replied the general. “We’ve met them as well and it has cost us dearly. I have an alliance with the Cybrans and they have sent me and a squad of UEF commanders on the job of rescuing you.”
“So this is how Nihavi looks like. How is Dostya?” Asked Leython. “I planned this with her.”
“She’s working on the diversion and that’s all we know.” Answered the general. “For as far as we know, they’re holding the line, but they aren’t aware of the extra time we need.”
“Well, contact them and tell them.” Said Eric impatiently. “They’ve got to delay the enemy for longer.”
“Unfortunately, that won’t work.” Said Leython. “Their diversion is planned so that QAI’s drones and the Seraphim commanders will not go to this planet as soon as our UEF general arrives. Then, he can calmly build a base and quantum gates so that we’re away less than a minute after we’ve arrived. The Cybrans don’t have a strategy that’s designed for longer than that and it cannot be altered at this stage.”
“What if the strategy fails?” Retorted Eric, but Leython already had his answer.
“It won’t, they’ve set some of the greatest minds on that and Dostya is leading the assault group. I helped them with it, so even with superior technology, the Seraphim will be hard pressed to actually kill a commander. That doesn’t mean they’ve got an easy job. Their defences will be compromised badly by the time they retreat, which should be right now.”
Leython barely finished or more commanders arrived on Nihavi, this time, wake’s signature clearly gave away what was going on.
“Seraphim commanders, Cybran ACUs. The enemies are here.” Said Leython.
“Did QAI notice us going to this planet?” Asked Eric.
“We can be certain that QAI knows just about everything in this region.” Answered the general.”It is not nearly in the deepest reaches of space and Brackman has told us that the Quantum AI probably built more mainframes than the Cybrans originally thought. All of those mainframes are processing as much network activity as possible and eighty thousand people travelling go this planet will easily be detected as a priority target.”
“Ok, I get it. We’ve got no choice but to fight, do we?”
“We’re going to put the heat at them as much as we can but you’d better just stay where you are.” Said major Johnston as the transports dropped the commanders and the civilian trucks. “The trucks control authority should be given to us so that we can make it out of here safely.”
“Understood.” Said Leython and he immediately transferred his authority to the UEF allies. He just had to sit the next four minutes out, but that would probably be no problem. Even with the Seraphim coming for them, they should be able hold out for that long. The UEF commanders had already sent their forces towards the enemy and this time, the Seraphim were much closer to the Federation base, which meant that they would have less time to prepare for an assault. A small delay in their initial plans would probably not even be necessary.
“We’ve encountered QAI’s drones at the front. They’ve made a mistake.” Said lieutenant Fer.
“That’s no mistake.” Replied Leython quickly. “QAI will take the first blow while the Seraphim can mount up a small strike force that’s capable of breaking through. Our anti-air equipment is not nearly enough to take air transports out. Continue with your bombers, I want to delay the Seraphim at their bases, Cybran weaponry isn’t a problem when that arrives at our base.”
“The civilian trucks are almost at their gates.” Said the general while he constructed a new gateway. “I just have to build one extra for myself.”
“We’ll arrive at the Seraphim bases in twenty seconds. They might have gotten their first interceptors in the air already.” Informed lieutenant Fer.
“Possibly but that small period of time and that minor expenditure will be enough of a delay to save all of our civilians from them. The enemy artillery may then be only one second too late, but that doesn’t make a difference from a minute or an hour or even a day. It is too late.” Said major Johnston.
The Seraphim didn’t construct an interceptor though. They were doing exactly what Leython thought. They had carefully planned ahead. For each commander that built artillery units, the other constructed air transports, effectively halving the time they needed to prepare their first attack.
“Destroy their power generators!” Said Leython, realising that it might not be so effective. QAI’s drones would have anticipated on the tactic to deal with the Seraphim by taking their economy and they would in turn ensure some additional income. Leython immediately spoke again: “No, wait! Attack the artillery. Destroy those weapons.”
“They’re late. We cannot allow this. They should’ve been here for three minutes already.” Said Dostya impatiently.
“What should we do?” Asked one of her squad members immediately. “The longer we wait, the more danger awaits for some of the Cybran nodes.”
“We have a plan B and a plan C, so we can stay here for some time. We should be extra careful though.”
“I have prepared my strategic missiles for immediate launch if necessary, commander. Any enemy that arrives here will be destroyed or delayed immediately.”
“That is not the problem. The problem lies with the enemies on galactic scale. As soon as one order commander or one of QAI’s drones discovers any of our hideouts, we face a huge setback.”
Luckily for Dostya and her men, it was less than two minutes later that the vast UEF company arrived.
“Dostya,” said Leython immediately after opening a channel, “we’ve met some friends who wanted to join us in our escape. That delayed us. The Seraphim didn’t have the chance to get their hands on us though. For as far as I know, we can continue our plan as intended.”
“To be absolutely certain, we’ll not do that. We’ll take another route than originally intended. Let’s go.”
An hour later, Leython stood in the main control hall of the outpost Dostya and the unknown UEF general had constructed. They had nothing but bad news.
“The UEF military destroyed, Clarke somewhere but we don’t know where, if she is still alive, the Aeon under control of the Seraphim, QAI gone and several nodes wiped out? Including the Three-Rivers node?” Asked Shilon. “Do we have any good news?”
“We’re still alive.” Answered Leython. We’re just going to have to wait until we can beat those Seraphim. As long as we’re not dead, we can fight them or hide from them. It should work. I’ve got something else though.”
“What is it?” Asked the general.
“It is a data chip a girl had with her. The chip looks of Cybran design but the strange thing was, that this girl lived in the UEF. It doesn’t fit on any UEF computer port and the ports I have in my Cybran ACU aren’t good either. To make it worse, manually analysing the data gave no result, it is encrypted with a very powerful key.”
“What’s so important about it?” Asked Jeff. “That girl most definitely got the chip from one of her parents and who knows what sort of job they had. Perhaps it’s full with all adult content made on Earth. The UEF society is pretty wicked if it comes to that.”
“I’m more surprised that those words come from you, than with the idea in general.” Answered Eric with a smile. “But we don’t think so. The girl remembers clearly that she got that from her mother shortly before she was put in my hands. If you do that, the chip should’ve something important on it and even though we don’t like to say it, adult videos are not rated in the category of ‘important’.”
“We’ll take a look at it. What was this girl’s name?” Asked Dostya. “We might know more with just that.”
“Lucia Yale, but she clearly said that there’s no commander in the army who’s related to her.” Answered Harm.
“No use for us. There’s no important person called Yale in the history for as far as I know.” Said Dostya immediately.
“We’d better get back to our daily business then.” Said the general and he turned to Leython, Eric, Jeff, Josh and Shilon. “You five will join our forces. We’ll immediately inform you of your duties but first, I’ll formally introduce myself. I am general William Hall.”
In the Aeon society, the aliens were welcomed as their great leaders. The princess was nowhere to be found, providing the opportunity for evaluator Kael to rise and fill up the vacuum of power.
Her words were heard and the Aeon continued their bloody and zealous war. Not even doubting the teachings of their leader, the people of the Illuminate easily forgot the princess’ attempt to end the endless fighting.
Marisa sighed. She and Selene still refused to join the military, for Kael a reason to brand them as outcasts. They were, reluctantly, allowed in the capital city of Seraphim Two, but anywhere they walked, the people glared angrily at them. Now they were left without a job, Selene would soon have to sell the house and beg for food and a place to sleep.
Marisa had heard about Rhiza’s rebellion but she doubted if she had any chance of joining them for as long as she didn’t have an ACU. She realised how perfect the Aeon civilisation was, as long as she could agree with the main body of government. Disagreeing with the evaluators though, had become a direct request to be exiled, if not worse.
She and Selene were locked up on their planet. The longer this crisis endured, the more she realised her mistake by leaving her ACU and confronting templar Halley, before leaving for Selene’s house. She wasn’t allowed in the ACU’s hangar and they had taken her command unit, erased all of the data in it and were about to turn it over to a new knight. Within a couple of days, she would have lost the monumental weapon that represented her impressive clash against Marxon.
“We have no choice but to join the ranks of Kael.” Said Marisa, after she considered all of their options.
“What?! Why?” Asked Selene immediately. “That is insane. We cannot commit ourselves to murder, can we?”
“Have you ever murdered? Have you ever killed thousands of people for Marxon’s so called great plans?”
“No, I have not. Neither have you, but we have never fought at the front, I have had only one real battle and I was so inexperienced that I couldn’t do anything.”
“That is the same with me. I was always working as support commander on resource duty. Building up a large economy farm and sending out experimental units to the front only to transfer them to others. I never did my best. When I was forced on the defence, I fought good enough to drive the enemy back and if necessary, I killed a Cybran or UEF commander.”
“But now we will be forced to attack civilians, I hope you understand that.” Said Selene in disgust.
“We will not have to do that.” Replied Marisa immediately. “As soon as we make it elsewhere, we flee and make it to Sethis.”
“Do you really think that they will let us go so easily?” Asked Selene. “You were lucky with Marxon because he made the slightest mistake and did not know anything about your intentions. It is all known to Kael.”
“As soon as we are on the battlefield, we can go anywhere. They have no chance to stop us.”
“The distortions will. Apparently, the static is barely affecting the network in Aeon territory but I am sure that our movement is hampered at the border.” Retorted Selene. She could not believe that Marisa thought it would be so easy.
“We need not to worry. As soon as we arrive on a mission to cleanse our so called enemies, we will turn on the people who are supposed to be our fellow knights, save the citizens on the planet and make our way out. The distortion on the quantum network is not so bad that we cannot make it into the UEF or Cybran Nation at all.’’
“We managed to destroy QAI’s ACUs but we can’t make our way out of here.” Said Jeff. “The network is disrupted. Do you have any ideas?”
“Perhaps, but it can take a lot of time.” Replied Shilon. “We’ll have to build a powerful gate complex and we may not be able to leave together.”
“That’s a problem. The person who arrives at the destination first will be in a world of trouble.”
“Yes, we’ll be detected by QAI immediately. It’s either you or me who’s going to face overwhelming odds. Let’s not forget that we’ve got ten thousand people under our protection now.” Said Shilon, commenting on the town they were now. They were helped nicely, being provided of food and water for the past fourteen days.
“What if we spread out over the planet?” Asked Jeff. “Then we might be able to get out all at the same time.”
“No, the problem is with the quantum network itself, not with the arrival site or, in our case, the location of departure.”
“So that means...” Started Jeff, but he couldn’t make a solid conclusion. This situation was completely unknown to him.
“It basically means that we’re going to need a lot more energy to make a clear path for ourselves and the civilians, so much it’ll be impossible, if we’re not lucky. Perhaps we should go planet-hopping but that means we’ve got to be fast, we’ll run out of food in no-time.” Said Shilon.
“We’ll have to make it to a remote planet where we have food directly available and we’ve got one day to go there. That means we’ll have... How much jumps of making it there?” Asked Jeff. “Assuming we need two hours to set up for the next jump through the network, we’ll have twelve chances of making it to our destination. But we don’t have much time, with those Aliens coming for us. We’ll have to make our decision, do you have the Fedaration’s territory mapped in your database?”
“I have and I know about a couple of planets but none of those must be more than twelve junctions away from us, right?”
“As by our own calculations, yes.” Said Shilon immediately. They were making the correct assumptions and that was good thing, because they couldn’t afford any other mistakes now.
“I’ll take a look at the map, I’ll tell you in five minutes. You should prepare the town for the evacuation.”
Plenty of food, that wasn’t the problem. Leython’s small food production devices worked perfectly and the broadcasting towers worked as they wanted as well. However, the quality reflected the people’s mood. Leython was used to the kind of food that he knew of the Cybran Nation, despite for the fact that he spend most of his time in the Three-Rivers node, which included proper meals like he was used to from Earth, before he left for Tessalis.
Their quality of food wasn’t the worst problem though. They were unable to make a connection with any other planet. They were blind and had no idea about the Seraphim’s progress through the galaxy.
Now, after they fortified their position on Sethis, Leython, Josh and Eric analysed all information they got from Cole’s spy planes. The result was simply shocking.
“What we’re looking at, are low-tech air units that not only deal more damage, but are also a lot stronger.” Said Leython, directly addressing the main problem.
“What makes you think they’re low-tech units?” Asked Eric.
Josh answered immediately, commenting on the last moments of his subordinate’s life while sending a small video to Eric: “These planes are faster than the ones you’ve seen before and the bombs are devastating.”
“I see, sir.” Replied Eric. “Those are not as strong as the experimentals’s bombs and they don’t have such a massive blast wave, but they’re deadly nonetheless.” He didn’t see any reading of sensors, only the images he got from major Funky and that still told more than enough.
“That’s what we found out. It destroyed Cole’s shields, the generators and his SAM sites. Those things are as powerful as our strategic bombers. As we have established with the other weapons, they’re much stronger than our weaponry. Our anti-air equipment is capable of destroying our aerial technology, but is no match for what they’ve got.”
“A big problem. As soon as they’re on the planet, we’ve got to get out. We don’t stand a chance against them.” Said Eric, fearing the worst. “We should prepare for an immediate evacuation, quantum gates have to be built everywhere around the city. In the meanwhile, we should look for another remote planet.”
“A higher priority is to contact the rest of humanity.” Said Leython. “For as far as we know, the Cybran Nation still relies on the Quantum AI. That is a cancer growing in their military body they’re asking for help.”
Josh sighed, they were outnumbered, outmatched by superior technology and they still knew only about a small portion of the Seraphim’s arsenal. “So we have two priorities. Inform the outside world of QAI’s betrayal, which is important for the Cybrans in particular, but also protect the people here and evacuate them if necessary. That’s not going to be a cakewalk because we only have three ACUs.”
“I know Josh, I know.” Said Leython. “It’s going to take a long time before we can even think about forming an army to charge against the enemies we face now.”
“How about the Aeon Illuminate?” Asked Eric. “Their forces were loyal to a person who’s been killed, or the princess, who surely is gone as well. We’ve all seen the moments of which I’m sure were her last.”
“I do not know. Marisa’s abilities in combat can compete with other powerful commanders and her knowledge about The Way is as extended as Rhianne Burke’s.” Answered Leython. “If she is in the Aeon society, she may be able to rally the military and the spiritual wing and forge a powerful force that can hamper the Seraphim’s progress, despite for the Alien’s superior technology. However, she was exiled and it’ll take much to achieve her goal. If she made it away from Earth alive in the first place.”
She did, but was in no position to assume control of the Aeon community and prepare for the Seraphim’s onslaught. Treated as outcasts, Marisa and Selene had nowhere to go and therefore, on Marisa’s encouragement, they decided to join the military force again.
It was a dangerous gambit but Marisa didn’t think she had any choice but to do this, hoping she had a chance of rebelling against the Order of the Illuminate and forcing evaluator Kael to her knees.
“So tell me.” Said templar Halley after she heard Marisa’s story, still under the impression that she was talking to Petrene Ellessar. “Why have you not considered this before?”
“I... was uncertain about the intentions of the Seraphim.” Said Marisa, trying to show anxiety. If Halley fell for it, she’d believe that her new knights were easily controllable and would not have to be carefully watched on the battlefield. No one would think they might turn against the Order.
“I see. You are certain about their intentions now?” Asked Halley, disregarding Marisa’s tone.
“Yes, I am.”
“Good, I will see to it that your ACU will be returned to you. Elenes,” said Halley while she turned to Selene, “you will be granted a new command unit. Both of you will first patrol the Illuminate territory and cleanse any UEF or Cybran refugees that might arrive on one of our planets.”
“I understand.” Said Marisa, thinking about a possible way out if they were kept so close to Seraphim Two.
“As soon as you might meet a rebelling pilot, you will destroy her without any communication. If there are too many enemies, request for reinforcements but also build quantum gates in case you may have to retreat.”
“When will we be granted our piloting privileges, templar Halley?” Asked Selene, she suspected that it would take some time.
“Your ACU will not be ready within seven days. Then, you will be sent to the boundaries of the Illuminate’s territory. Ellessar will have to wait for that time as well. You will have more than enough to do for the current week though. I am sending you to work on a training program.”
“Harm?” Leython Dygonn’s father heard the little girl’s voice as she walked into the observation tower.
“What is it, Lucia?”
“I found this in the backpack mum gave to me when she saved my life.” Said Lucia and she showed a small data chip. “I just found it and I don’t know what it is.”
“That’s a data chip, but it must be a very advanced one, I never saw that sort of design before. I even don’t know if we can read it with the technology we’ve got available here.”
“Did your mother tell you where she got it from?” Interrupted Reid Let.
“I’ll show Leython, maybe he knows more about it.” Said Harm and the little girl gave the data chip to him and then she walked away again.
“Leython.” Said Harm after he opened a channel. “How much do you know about the Seraphim?”
“Not enough yet.” Was the simple answer. “Not enough to tell about the size of their arsenal or the firepower of their weapons. I can tell you though, that their destructive abilities outmatch ours on every level. Especially on air. Their land units are perhaps twice as strong as well, but also deal twice the damage.”
“That is bad. So you don’t stand a chance?” Asked Harm.
“We’ve got large bases now, Josh and Eric have built Mavor artilleries and we’ve got strategic missiles. So we’ll slow them down a bit, I hope. We might be able to evacuate but we’ve got to find some planets we can go to. We’re short on everything but food. We need clothes in case we arrive on an arctic planet and so on, we’re very lucky to be here and I hope that we can stay here for some time.”
“Ok, we’ll have to find some other planets then. What about the quarantine zone? Do you have any idea of planets there?”
“Tessalis, we could go there but I’d rather not to. The quarantine zone is a nice place to hide, I know that because I stayed there with Marisa, but we also have no contact at all. Even if the distortions and all static in the Quantum Network disappear, we’ll be hard pressed to communicate, especially because we have to know who we want to speak with and where he or she is. That also means we’ve got no idea of what’s going on elsewhere in the galaxy, whether we can go back or not.”
“We’ll have to think of something.” Said Harm. “Now I’ve got another question, do you know more about this?” He asked and he showed the data chip.
“I have seen something similar in the Cybran Nation, but nothing looked exactly like that. It’s unique I think. You’re sure the data chips in the Federation don’t look like that nowadays?”
“I thought about that as well and I’m absolutely sure that nothing looks like this on Earth.”
“Then how did that end up with you?”
“That girl Eric rescued, Lucia, had it. Her mother gave it to her but she didn’t notice until now.”
“Odd, how can a normal citizen end up with such a thing. Perhaps it’s designed by the mother herself. See if you can get access to the data in any way. Is the interface recognizable?”
“Not at all. I can’t plug it in. The UEF computers don’t have the port this chip requires.”
“Perhaps I can analyse it. Come to my ACU, then I’ll take a look at it.”
Ten minutes later, Leython looked at the chip in confusion. None of the tests he ran gave a useful answer. The chip’s interface didn’t match any of the current Cybran ones and analysing it by one q-bit at a time gave no result either.
“It looks like this thing is encrypted with a very powerful code.” Said Leython. “I can’t let my ACU analyse it manually and I also can’t plug it in.”
“You ran every decryption tool on the data after you had it analysed?” Asked Josh? “If so, plugging it in won’t help you, even if you could try it.”
“I know...” Answered Leython. “Perhaps you can analyse it.”
“No, we don’t have such equipment in our command units. We’ve got to do that at a UEF base.”
“Ok, we’ll have to think of that later then.”
“Why do we bother?” Asked Eric. “This is a chip owned by a civilian, it’s not like they’ve got important data on that thing.”
“If you don’t have any important data, why do you put it on a chip that can’t be plugged in a Cybran computer and that isn’t even recognized in the UEF in the first place?” Replied Leython. “Manually analysing it will leave you lost with the next stage: encryption. If this thing is from the UEF, I can tell why I can’t decrypt it but how big is the chance that it actually is from the UEF, given the fact that no one recognizes it?”
“You think it’s from the Cybran Nation then?” Retorted Eric. “Come on, you can’t explain how it got on Earth.”
“No, I can’t. Strange things have happened in the last thousand years but this is a total mystery. However, the design looks a lot like what we’ve got in the Cybran Nation today.”
“Let’s focus on something more important for now.” Said Josh, to end the matter. “We’ve got to look at neighbouring gates that allow us to travel to hospitable planets, planets we don’t have to build a whole life-support infrastructure on just to house the civilians.”
“You’re right. We can still travel a bit but we’ve got to be careful not to do it too soon or too late. If the Seraphim are upon us, evacuating to a neighbouring gate will not save us. We’ve got to stay a few steps ahead.”
“Evaluator Kael. Good day.” Halley managed to speak with the most respectful tone possible and Kael seemed to notice that. “Petrene Ellessar and Selene Elenes have come to me today. They are no longer our concern. I have ordered them to patrol near the Illuminate border. The quantum distortions and the quarantine zone will probably prevent desertion.”
“A fine achievement. They are the last that know about Gawain’s false teachings.” Said Kael, the tone of satisfaction clearly audible. “with that problem out of the way, we can now fully concentrate on the rebellion of Rhiza and her friends.”
“Should we monitor Elenes and Ellessar to be certain about our control?” Asked Halley.
“No, such a mission is beneath the abilities and expertise of your team, it is a waste of your talents. I will assign two new knights to that. The two we have under control are inexperienced. Ellessar is commanding an ACU for only a short time now and Elenes has not commanded troops on the battlefield for years. Their training will be enough to keep them alive in case of a major assault, which will most likely not occur. They do not know much more than that.”
“Then two less experienced knights will suffice.” Concluded Halley.
“That is correct. I will find the commanders that are more experienced than Ellessar and Elenes but who do not have the skills to be wasted by keeping them on this assignment.”
“I understand, evaluator Kael. I also have a second matter to attend to. Since Ellessar is no longer in my team and one of my knights perished during the battle of Earth. I have need of new commanders.”
“I will assign you additional pilots. You will now command a team of five knights. A group of six commanders in total is perfect for a swift attack but also for a long battle. Undoubtedly, you are aware of that, given the excellent teaching of Marxon’s military academy.”
“Yes, evaluator. When I receive word of the reinforcements in my team, I will go anywhere where you deem us necessary, for the glory of the Seraphim.”
Although she was locked up on a planet, a concept that she couldn’t comprehend, she had to run. Run faster than the two years older friend she met two weeks ago. He had found her and it now came up to who could go back and call dibs.
The problem was, Edward was faster and that was the reason for having not won a single time. Using the whole story as the field, Lucia could think of a hundred, if not a thousand hiding places, but she was too afraid to go somewhere else after hiding for the first time. If she’d run into Edward then, she would’ve lost anyway.
Perhaps it was a plan to try nonetheless, as not doing anything until he saw her wasn’t any better. If she could just think of something else.
The words barely formed in her mind as she saw a crawlspace that would lead to the room she and Edward were running for. Edward missed it and even if he would have noticed, he couldn’t fit in. It forced him to go around, which took him a long time. Hopefully, it would take him too long.
She could and she immediately crawled through, seeing an empty room. As she stood up, she heard Edward’s steps coming closer. A second later, he stormed in, stunned to see her, but unable to hide a smile as she said the winning word. She had finally beaten him.
The fishes scattered as fast as they could in order to make way for the UEF Ace class vessel. The nuclear submarine moved on forward at full speed, not even notifying its parent control unit, major Funky’s ACU, of all the marine life.
“Cole, report.” Said Josh, as he suddenly noticed a gray dot on his strategic screen. It was outside of his own sensor’s range, so it could only mean that Cole had an omni sensor nearby. Josh’s memory and a glance at the area confirmed that.
“I’ve seen it sir and I’m already sending a spy plane.” Replied Cole. Half a minute later, the spy plane identified a Cybran ACU building its base. Before Josh could even open a transmission channel, the Cybran pilot did: “This is Leython Dygonn for any UEF commander in the field. Please identify yourself.”
“Leython, it’s Josh.” Sounded the answer and Leython sighed in relief.
“It’s good to hear that you survived. Is there anyone with you?”
“I’m lieutenant Cole Wigan.” Said another pilot after he joined the conversation.
Before either of the UEF pilots could speak, Leython already continued. “Whatever you do, don’t contact QAI, he’s turned to the Seraphim. I don’t know how many Symbionts know about this but we’ve got to inform the Cybran nation.”
“With all of the static throughout the whole quantum network? We can’t do anything. How did you make it here by the way? Last time I checked, you went to Sethis.”
“I did make it there, barely. Eric is still alive but I don’t know about anyone else.” Answered Leython. “When I made it to Sethis, QAI attacked us with twelve ACUs but it’s going to have to upgrade a lot of its own algorithms if it is expecting to win even one battle. I think that it’s working on that problem now.”
“Now answer me the more important questions. How did you get here? If we know we might have a way of going to Sethis, while evacuating the people here. This is dangerously close to those Aliens that attacked Earth.”
“I found an open spot within the distortions, I’m surprised that you guys didn’t see that.” Said Leython simply.
“We haven’t seen anything.” Replied Cole immediately. Leython’s heart suddenly skipped a beat...
“A trap! QAI’s done this for me.”
“Sir?” Said Cole. “I’m detecting that the distortions are dissipating. They’ll not be gone but it might be good enough for us to get out of here.”
“Let’s help Leython first.” Replied Josh to his subordinate before turning to his old friend. “I’ll be sending engineers towards your position, I’ll order them to assist your ACU. In the meanwhile, Cole will provide you with the resources you will need. You’d better build a whole base instead of one quantum gate because we’re going to evacuate as many civilians as possible. We’ve got a town nearby.”
“How big is this town?” Asked Leython immediately, ordering his ACU to construct a land factory, as he was already done with his mass extractors and power generators.
“Eighty thousand I believe. I’m contacting the governor again, to begin with the evacuation. I hope that we’ll be in time.
“Dygonn is on Spica Prime as we speak, master.” Informed QAI. It had almost been two days on Earth since the Seraphim arrived on Earth and they now made their progress in UEF territory. Unfortunately, they were slowed down within the first hours. The vast Quantum Rift turned out to be unstable, drastically reducing the forces they could make available.
Nonetheless, an adequate number of Seraphim pilots made it through and now they were not only obliterating anything on Earth, but the hunt on the highest ranked members of the UEF and Cybran societies had begun.
According to QAI, Dygonn was one of the best commanders of the current time and his immediate demise was advised.
“Gialumeth, you will go to Spica Prime and attack Dygonn. He is your first target, you should not concentrate on any other commander before the Cybran commander is dead. He is the only one commanding a Cybran ACU. The other two are, according to the Quantum AI, piloting UEF command units. They have a fully operational base but that should be no problem for our superior technology. I recommend to rely on aerial weaponry.”
“I understand, War Leader. I will go immediately. I presume that, when I am successful, I must turn my attention to the civilians on the planet?”Said the Seraphim commander. Seth-Iavow nodded and Gialumeth immediately ordered the five warriors he had under his command, to join and follow him.
“QAI,” said the War Leader, “it is no longer required to concentrate your processes on Dygonn. Superior numbers and technology will soon end his life.”
“Affirmative. There is a ninety-nine per cent chance that you are correct.” Answered QAI. “Reallocating the processes now.”
Three minutes later...
“Sir, I’m detecting a quantum wake in my vicinity.” Said Cole to Josh. Leython listened as well and he immediately answered.
“Send me the signature.” He said while he constructed his first tier two power generator. Josh’s and Cole’s assistance was more than welcome at this moment.
Cole sent the image to his own superior and to Leython while he tried to explain what sort of commander could have caused it.
“I don’t get it, it looks like some interference is causing the readings to spike off the charts but it looks like the total energy required to gate is not more than what Leython needed to bring his own ACU across the quantum network.”
“Cole, get spy planes up and send them in all directions. I can’t explain what sort of commander it is. The Aeon’s signature may look like this but it really won’t have such high readings in its chart. Not even with the current state of the quantum network. Besides, the gate to this planet isn’t even blocked anymore. I’m barely reading any distortion.” Said Josh, fearing the worst.
“It’s Seraphim. Prepare for combat.” Said Leython. He knew that the readings he saw couldn’t be caused by any ACU made by the human race.
“Seraphim?” Asked Josh, while he immediately ordered his transports, filled with artillery, to move out to the first wake eruption they had noticed. Leython called it off though.
“That’s the name of the aliens, the teachers of the Aeon Illuminate’s ancestors. Stop the transports. Wait a few minutes while we check that zone with spy planes. The Commander will be able to overcharge the first group of units, destroy the second while it is dodging the grenades and then use another overcharge shot to deal with the third. That’ll cost you fifty per cent of your squad and you haven’t done anything.”
“You want me to wait until the enemy’s got a base?”
Six Seraphim command units started their work immediately, ignoring the land they set ablaze upon their arrival. The commander, Gialumeth, had ordered the frontal warrior to construct a regeneration upgrade on his ACU immediately. Spica Prime was too far away from Earth to travel with all of the enhancements, but their tier three construction arm could be maintained while they travelled away from humanities cradle.
Lianta was the person who entered the battlefield closest to their enemies and the only one within the enemy’s active ACU range. He had to keep the UEF and Cybran forces busy while the others built their base and armies to deal with the enemy. Satisfied that all did as ordered, Gialumeth himself finished construction on his air factory and his command unit immediately turned to build some power generators. Mass extractors would soon follow and then he could upgrade his economy exponentially.
In the meanwhile, two of his subordinates had already begun construction on a tier two power generator, ready to assist the others whenever it was necessary. The last two would soon be ready to upgrade their land factories to tier two and construct the Ilshavoh bots, units designed to take out an enemy tier one army in rapid succession, while even outranging every direct combat unit the humans had in the tier two stage.
One light air transport took off, the first air unit Gialumeth had built in the heavy realm. It was ready to intercept the enemy plans…
Three minutes later...
“Josh, you should be able to do maximum damage with your air drops now. Let’s get going.” Said Leython. The UEF major immediately responded and relayed the orders to his forces. Air transports took off, carrying nothing but Lobo artillery, ready to delay the enemy.
No sooner they arrived, or the mobile artillery were taking damage by enemy tanks.
“Ignore everything, just get the buildings. Overkill if necessary. Get a factory.”
“I know, I know.” Said Josh frantically. He ordered the units to fire and they did, but not before one entire group was taken out by an overcharge shot. Another group didn’t fare any better, several units were already destroyed by small jets of plasma that seemed to come out of nowhere.
“Cole!” Yelled Leython and Josh’s lieutenant yelped in surprise: “What is it sir?”
“Get spy planes up. I want full intel on the enemy, move your ACU ahead if necessary. We must know where we can strike next. Where are the Broadswords and Ambassadors? They should be able to do something.”
“I’ll send them right away but it isn’t very much.” Answered Josh immediately. “We’ve primarily built air superiority fighters because of the enemy experimental bombers. That’s more important. One of those things can level an entire base.”
“Nukes?” Asked Leython immediately. Strategic weapons should be able to do something.
“I’ve got two in a submarine but that one’s on the other side of the battlefield. I’ll order it to return immediately.”
This was a setback. Josh Funky was an excellent commander if it came to a surgical strike on the enemy. However, such tactics were useless for as long as the enemy had an ACU in the vicinity of his own base. Realising the threat the possibility that the enemy could execute another bombing run, he didn’t build very much bombers or gunships, but relied more on the defence of his own base.
“The missile sub has turned around. It’ll take some time though...”
“That means it’ll destroy more.”
“The city’s evacuation has begun. Perhaps you could get some transports with your mobile stealth fields there. You could get the civilians out without the Seraphim knowing.”
Thanks to QAI’s vast database, Gialumeth had enough knowledge about human warfare to know what his advantage in this war was. Far before the humans discovered quantum travel, they already displayed that superior technology was capable of destroying vast enemy armies. However, with such an edge in battle, a dangerous form of overconfidence could lead to defeat.
Gialumeth understood that crafty traps were well capable of causing a setback for the enemy, if not worse. Armies were destroyed because their generals thought they could deal with the problem at hand within a day or a week, severely underestimating the enemy.
“Lianta, air transports are inbound. Ilshavohs will support you. The units will be transferred for the optimal effects of the regeneration field. I am also arriving with some engineers, those will construct tier two point defences.”
“Thank you, commander.” Answered warrior Lianta in gratitude. They had survived the first wave with ease but while they were working on their initial base, the enemy had time to send in more units in a vain attempt to destroy them. Even though everyone was confident that they would not suffer any casualties, they were very well aware of the economical disadvantage they had at this moment.
“Commander Gialumeth,” Said Ri-Entish, one of the two commanders responsible for the economy they required to destroy the enemy base and cleanse the planet. “I detect several spy planes of UEF design flying over my base. I take it that we are on an arrival site too far for the enemy to reach, as is our plan? Only Lianta is in the combat zone, is he not?”
“That is correct, warrior Ri-Entish. You know however, that we are not far from the enemy ACU’s command zone. They need to move no more than a few kilometres if they wish to reach us.”
“Should we construct shield generators immediately, commander?” Asked warrior Quen-Terah, the one who was specialised in land and air combat, who was therefore closest to Lianta, ready to support him.
“I suggest to do so.”Advised Yxilianeth, Gialumeth’s first lieutenant. “You, Lianta and warrior Perlutowin will be the enemy’s primary targets. I have watched the grand scene and they have discovered you with their spy planes as well. Soon, you will see strategic bombers and advanced gunships.”
“I concur.” Filled Gialumeth in. “It are my air factories that will play a critical role in our battle now. While you prepare yourselves for battle, I will be able to support warrior Lianta with tier two bombers. Those weapons, whilst slower than the humans’ air superiority fighters and strategic bombers, are very capable of decimating the enemy’s assaults. Do prepare yourselves properly though, as I am not able to cover everyone at every moment. Construct shields and anti-air units.”
Werder Dorvaro, governor of Tiverda, stood in the middle of living hell. Eighty thousand citizens frantically tried to get away as soon as they could, rushing to the transport convoy. He and his predecessors always had an urge to be prepared for a surprise, to be ready for a sudden attack and in order to accomplish that, they built hundreds of transport trucks. In case they had to evacuate, by orders of a commander, they could.
However, they only prepared their materials for an immediate evacuation, but not the people, a mere instruction booklet was a critical flaw. Tens of thousands had to get away, many of them not exactly knowing how bad the situation was, none of them aware of the time they had left. Even Werder didn’t know it.
The group of policemen that were available, was already stretched to the limit. The mass of people that frantically tried to make it to the transports looked like a large colony of panicking ants. The people of Tiverda lacked organization and their governor was unable to do anything about it.
“Sir, you should get into a transport as well.” One of his police officers said. “You’re the most important person of our city, we should get you to safety as soon as possible.”
“I’m the most important person? Then why do you want me to leave? Give me some more time to be here. Perhaps I can think of something.”
“Sir, with all due respect, you do the best job in the universe while you’re behind a desk. Let us handle this. We’ve got whole security programs available for big events that draw more than a hundred thousand people, from all over the continent. The only difference between that and this is the fact that we’re caught by surprise. Really, you should get out of here so you can manage us as soon as we’re evacuated.”
“Ok then, I’ll go.” Said Werder, knowing that the police officer was actually right, but he also saw that the man didn’t allow any retort. While the governor walked to the transport, noticed an air unit arrive in the city.
“I’ve got the first group of civilians.” Said Leython as he ordered the Dragon Fly to go to Josh’s base and drop the civilian trucks off.
“Good, we have to hurry up. The longer we take, the stronger they become. We haven’t been able to do so much yet.”
“How long until you can launch those missiles?”
“It’ll still take ten minutes before we’ve got that within range of their frontal base. My strategic bombers are arriving there now, they should be able to deal with the threat.”
Josh Funky couldn’t be further from the truth. He had a squad of thirty Ambassador bombers, a number that was capable of taking any normal commander out, even if it were in an Aeon base, fortified with four heavy shield generators.
However, before one single bomber even managed to get close enough to the base, a squad of Seraphim fighters appeared in front of them and opened fire. Leython didn’t know at what tier level those weapons were built, or whether the Seraphim commanders had tier restrictions at all, but each single one of the small group of fighters took one Ambassador down.
As if it weren’t enough, the remainder of Josh’s strike force met some shield generators that turned out to be more than adequate to stop the bombers’ payloads. Tier two flak guns returned fire and tore wide holes in the planes’ wings. Before Josh could do anything, another group of fighters arrived and decimated what was left of the air group.
“I didn’t do anything!” Said Josh. “Cole, send every land unit we have. I’ll bring my army. We’re going to end this now.”
“Yes sir. My units are moving out.” Answered the lieutenant.
A vast group, larger than Leython and Eric had commanded while they were fighting QAI, moved out immediately. Transports picked them up and Cole mentioned that he had an omni sensor available that reported the location of every single Seraphim plane in the area, so that he could safely send the units by air. Josh agreed and did the same while he ordered some newly built spy planes to move out and as soon as they reached the limit of his ACU’s range, he’d immediately transfer them to Cole.
After three minutes of flying, Cole’s units came dangerously close to the enemy fighters and he decided to drop his force of Titans, Parashields and Sky Boxers.
“He’s too late, now we’ll finally do some damage in return.” Said Cole as he noticed that the Seraphim’s air force arrived to try and take his units out. What he didn’t know, was that the fighters turned out to be bombers.
“Our Nothas are only taking minor damage from the enemy.” Said Gialumeth, his satisfaction clearly notable in his voice. “Their shield generators manage to hold the first wave and will likely withstand the second as well, but only because I order my bombers to spread out for a maximum effect as soon as the shields buckle.”
“The Ilshavohs are ready to support my ACU and I will stay behind the shield layers.” Filled Lianta in. “They will stand no chance.”
No more than half a minute later, the enemy units arrived and Lianta fired an overcharge shot, destroying three assault bots. Notha bombers and Ilshavoh bots took more units out in rapid succession, one after another.
“Another wave is incoming. My bombers will intercept, warrior Lianta. I thrust that you can deal with what is left of the first group.”
“Easily, commander. Our weapons prove to be more than adequate for our work.”
“I’ve lost every Titan in my assault force, captain.” Said Cole desperately. “Your units won’t do anything.”
“I’ve sent my air superiority fighters, they should be able to deal with the enemy bombers now.” Replied Josh immediately while the Wasps already closed in. They outnumbered the enemy but Josh feared that it would be a close call if the units were to turn their attention to his air force instead of the land assault.
His fear, caused by the enemy’s capabilities on land combat, turned out to be the truth as the bombers paid attention to the new threat and attacked Josh’s Wasps.
“At least my land assault can continue. I’ll move on with the Titans and Parashields, they’ll destroy the base and the enemy commander.”
But the UEF major was wrong. Before they even made it close, two Seraphim air transports arrived and dropped mobile shield generators, along with some assault bots Leython and Josh thought they saw before, but two command units stood amongst them as well. They both fired simultaneously, but targeted two different units. Instantly, five Titans exploded.
“Well, we’ve seen the effect before but this officially confirms it, they have the ability to overcharge our units.” Said Leython. “More air transports have taken another group of civilians away but we’ll be working on this for some more time. You’ll have to help me. We’ll stand no chance against the Seraphim so we’d better build some defences near the city.”
“I’m already working on that.” Replied Josh. “Omni sensor coming online in some seconds, then I’ll build SAM sites and shield generators.”
However, before Josh could erect the first shield, he noticed a large air unit flying at high speed. None of them even had to think about what it was while the last of Josh’s Titans was destroyed.
“They’re panicking even more.” Said Leython, commenting on the civilians. Unable to do anything, Cole returned his ACU to his base: “They’ll be wiped out. We’ve got nothing.”
Still, both the lieutenant and the major frantically tried to attack the enemy bomber. Hundreds of air superiority fighters took off and rushed for the enemy.
“I hope this can do something. Cole, use every single unit of mass you’ve got to build Wasps! Leython, you should do the same. We might be able to deal with this enemy unit but we’ll take huge losses. If they have another one, we must be able to retaliate.”
The tier three fighters were too late to prevent the experimental bomber from dropping its first payload. Leython had witnessed them up close in Los Angeles, but either he forgot how powerful they were, or the bombs magnitude had tripled since as he saw how hundreds of bodies flew in all directions, whereas even more were instantly vaporised.
“Josh, how far are you with that nuclear sub? Get the first base. Most of the land forces are probably still there, only to protect their front. If they decide that they no longer have to defend themselves, we’ll face even more trouble. Nuke that frontal base!”
The UEF major reacted immediately, noticing that the strategic missile sub had the base already in its range. “Two missiles launched. That should keep them busy. Perhaps their command units can’t deal with that and we might take out three.”
The enemy fighters returned, ready to protect the experimental bomber from the UEF Wasps but apparently, the vast aircraft didn’t need any. Josh couldn’t believe the sight of his fighters crashing in rapid succession only because of some guns on the enemy bomber.
Still, the enemy fighters displayed their terrifying firepower by decimating the Federation air force, although they were unable to catch up with the air superiority fighters that survived.
“I’m hardly doing any damage.” Said Cole, although it was completely unnecessary to report it. All commanders noticed that the bomber’s integrity was incredible, almost three times more than the Cybran Soul Ripper’s.
“It’s regenerating its armour!” Said Leython, noticing how the gaps in the bomber’s wings, although it were only minor scuffs, disappeared under a layer of solidifying metal.
The bomber dropped another bomb, remorselessly killing even more citizens. In the meanwhile, Leython sent in more air transports as it was the only way the people might survive. He chose a flight path that might go unnoticed to the enemy, but he soon noticed how an armoured command unit arrived near the town and started construction on an omni sensor, with the support of several units Leython immediately identified as engineers.
“Damnit, I’ll not get out of the town in time!” Said the intelligence expert. Before he even said it, he already ordered the transports back, wondering how the civilian trucks were loaded so soon.
However, as he predicted, the seraphim’s radar tower was ready before the transports managed to get away. The enemy fighters, no longer having to protect the experimental bomber, changed direction and immediately gave chase to the transports.
“I can’t do anything.” Said Leython, losing hope for the citizens, but still trying to save them. He ordered an emergency drop for his transports shortly before the fighters arrived. All trucks were dropped successfully but Leython was sure that several civilians would be unconscious by now.
Josh had been given the command over the trucks’ automated systems and he ordered them to move away immediately while spreading them out.
Two more commanders arrived by air transports, directly ahead of the convoy. As soon as they stood on the ground, they charged their guns, destroying three or four at the same time with their overcharged bolts.
Before any other truck could do anything else, the experimental bomber arrived and dropped another bomb, instantly dealing with a large portion of the convoy .
“We failed.” Said Josh, unable to hide his disappointment in himself. “We can’t do anything, they’ll be destroyed.”
“Do you have another nuke? Launch it at the commander near the edge of the city. You’ll destroy the omni sensor.” Said Leython.
“That’ll kill thousands of civilians.” Tried Cole to retort.
Josh had his answer ready though: “They’ll die anyway, if there are any left. The evacuation wasn’t supposed to be at that location. If there are any left, we must sacrifice them for another chance to safe the others.”
Cole was horrified. How could his superior, major Funky, make such a decision? How could he so easily sacrifice people while he always had an answer to every problem. Even worse, he knew that Josh was right. There was no answer to this problem.
“We should get out of here as soon as possible, before they turn their attention to us.”
“They already have. Their land units are moving out.” Said Cole. “They’re sending them directly to you, Leython. Air transports are moving in to pick them up.”
“We’ll have no choice.” Said Josh, while he looked at the two missiles that made it at their destination. It instantly destroyed parts of the enemy base but it was no real use. The Seraphim assault bots were already moving out and the commanders were wreaking havoc on the town and the convoy. The third missile was flying through the air and would soon destroy the omni sensor that Leython wanted to take out of commission but even that would be insignificant as the two supporting commander had constructed more radar towers.
“Enemy units coming for me!” Yelled Cole suddenly. He stood at the edge of his base, ready to move towards his quantum gate as he saw several air units fly towards him. The units were larger and faster than the fighters they had seen before and they already dropped their bombs. Explosions that were not as large, but seemed to be as destructive as the experimental bomb’s payload, took the shields out, as well as the anti air defences underneath it.
“Enemy command unit detected!” Said Cole. “It’s in an air transport and its flying directly overhead. I’m targeting it.” Immediately, the ACU fired an overcharge shot that directly hit the Seraphim ACU. The air transport should’ve been torn apart by the blast but for some reason, the commander seemed to absorb the shock.
Terrified for what was coming, Cole gathered all forces he had to converge on his ACU while he saw the transport dropping the enemy commander near one of his shield generators. The Seraphim command unit turned its gun around while Cole fired another overcharge shot. This time, the bolt exploded even more ferociously than the commanders had seen any time before.
The shield generator exploded and a strategic missile defence silo was heavily damaged but that was nothing compared to what was about to happen. The ACU’s weapon charged, blinding Cole. As the screens lowered the brightness, a colourful jet of energy surged through the air and hit Cole’s ACU.
Instantly, the core ruptured and Josh could do nothing but watch how the command unit exploded. Shocked by this, he ordered his two quantum gates to link up with each other and the Cybran one while Leython tried to contact the gate of Sethis, unable to speak.
The Sinnta strategic bombers had done their job well, thought Gialumeth. Within the time any human would ever deem possible, he, Ri-Entish and Yxilianeth managed to gain air superiority over a fully-fledged tier three air force.
Now, while Yxilianeth waited for the nuclear explosion to dissipate, he and Ri-Entish made their way towards the two enemy commanders. Ri-Entish had a small but powerful air force available to deal with the UEF commander, he would destroy Dygonn. The Cybran ACU walked towards the quantum gate but the Ahwassa had changed its purpose and was ready to eradicate the means to escape, if not destroy the enemy ACU at the same time.
Air transports moved ahead and were taking fire from the enemy SAM sites but they dropped their forces before even one could be taken down. Gialumeth felt that his ACU smoothly hit the ground and immediately he fired an overcharge shot on a tier two power generator. One of the three reactors exploded immediately, seconds before the other two were destroyed by the Ilshavoh bots.
Three seconds later, the Ahwassa bomb would explode in the quantum gateway, but Gialumeth already contacted his War Leader: “I am too late. The attempt on Dygonn is not successful.”
Leython and Josh both took a deep breath. They survived, barely. Leython immediately contacted Eric and spoke in a: “Get Ambassadors all over the place. We’ll begin with the immediate construction of our bases. Prepare the whole city for evacuation and build additional gates so we can all make it out of here in time. Prepare strategic missiles and use what economy you have left to support us.”
The news surprised Eric and he immediately asked what was going on: “Are we going to be under attack?”
“Possibly.” Answered Josh, his face showed nothing but disappointment and defeat. “We don’t know but if they come here, we’re done for. I’m surprised we actually managed to make it here with the static and distortion all over the network.”
“QAI is responsible for that. It hampers movement but especially for me, it made a clear passage from Sethis to Spica Prime. That makes it a little harder for bring the distortions back in, if it expected it had to do that in the first place. QAI assumed I would die.”
“Why did you go here in the first place?” Asked Josh.
“I wanted to see if I could warn the Cybran Nation, but before I got the chance to look for any other way to contact Dostya, Bagby, doctor Brackman or anyone else, the trap already sprung.”
“I managed to send an emergency broadcast all over the planet to warn for the Seraphim invasion, that immediate evacuation was required. We couldn’t leave them without at least warning them, could we?” Said Josh, hoping that some would survive.
“Are there more UEF commanders on planet?” Asked Leython.
“Yes, they will assist, but I hope that they’ll survive the onslaught. The stronger they become, the harder they’re to contain. They only need those experimental bombers and when they’ll have enough, they’ll just repeat the trick of planetary bombing.”
“Leython, I’ve got your father here for you.” Interrupted Eric, before Leython could reply. “It’s got to do with the food supply.”
“Yes dad, what is it?” Asked Leython, tired because of the little sleep he got after the battle against QAI.
“We found a crops facility in Tharod and thanks to two young and smart engineers, both are up and running already. However, we have to wait for at least three months. The same goes for the farmland. The vast regions would normally provide more than enough corn but we’ve got to take a close look on the quality. It’s been growing here for several years unchecked now. Weed is growing everywhere and we still have to wait for some months before the corn is eatable.”
“That isn’t our worst concern. I’ll build a base first, then I’ll build additional food production plants. Is the broadcasting tower still holding?” Asked Leython.
“Yes it is. It’s a perfect thing to keep those small plants online but I think we’ll need another one, so we don’t stretch this one too much. It’ll also come in handy if one of them actually malfunctions.” Answered Harm.
He looked at the radio tower that stood in the middle of London Sethii. At first, he was surprised to see such ancient techniques in the modern world but he quickly realised that such things were cheap to build and probably very reliable, while most of the people knew how such things worked. Either way, technology of more than nineteen hundred years old allowed the people here to eat something, even though it was not much, while Leython could try to contact the Cybran nation elsewhere in the universe.
It didn’t work though. Instead, he met the more advanced technology of the Seraphim. Listening to Josh Funky’s battle report, they didn’t stand a chance against one single bomber, were forced back by mere ground forces, lost a UEF commander to one single Seraphim ACU and slower, seemingly less powerful fighters decimated their state-of-the-art air force.
Even now, the Seraphim could be preparing their assault on Sethis, to deal with his son and the two UEF commanders once and for all, while the human pilots had worked for an insane period of time with little to no sleep...
“How can you be so sure?” Asked Eric, while he sent transports, filled up with engineers, to every location of QAI’s bases, so he could reclaim everything the artificial intelligence had left behind.
“This is incredibly bad in comparison to what he could get from the databases of battle replays. It suffers from a repetitive machine complex worse than the recruits do. Even you wouldn’t try a land assault for the gazillionth time in a battle. QAI still has much to learn.”
“Well, we’d better not tell that computer. Not that we can. Its ACUs are all gone.” Replied Eric, recalling QAI’s retreat of ten minutes ago.
“There are more ways of contacting QAI than just by opening a channel to one of its ACUs.” Said Leython. “We’ve got more pressing matters though. You now have the time to get the girl to the rest of the evacuees. I’ll oversee the battlefield for now.”
“Is this pilot a threat?” Asked Seth-Iavow simply. QAI informed only of its issues against a simple commander. It had not notified the War Leader at the moment it initiated its assault upon the human, so the artificial intelligence had possibly, if not probably, calculated that twelve command units were enough to destroy someone. It had not concluded that the outcome of the battle was unknown.
“The commander in question is dangerous. If he manages to survive, he can strike back. He has the ability to survive three-to-one odds. Despite of the Seraphim’s superior technology, I suggest the immediate removal of Dygonn. I am unable to destroy him.”
“Concentrate on Brackman instead. Also continue your effort in delaying general Clarke’s meeting with Dostya. A single commander, no matter how intelligent, is nothing compared to the continued survival of the father of the Cybran nation or peace between the Federation and the Syombionts.
We have passed the Quantum Rift and prepare the finale of our assault on Earth. None shall survive.”
“As soon as you complete your task on humanity’s first planet, I will lure Dygonn into a trap on a planet near Earth, so you can find him shortly after his arrival.”
“If you find him more important than the best commanders of the UEF or the Cybran nation,” said Seth-Iavow to the artificial intelligence, “then why do we not know more of him?”
“I estimated that twelve of my ACUs were able to deal with him. My calculations are wrong. It is preferable to dispose of him with superior technology.”
“I understand...” Said the War Leader slowly. Dygonn had become one of their primary targets. It was imperative that they spread out through UEF territory as soon as they could.
“Mister Dygonn? I have been able to find a food processing centre in the city. There is one problem.” Said Reid Let, the only advisor Harm still had.
“Tell me. It’s not a manufacturing centre, but only a processing centre for the crops that grow on the lands surrounding the city?”
“It is not that bad, sir. The problem is that we can only support a mere ten thousand with the crops manufacturing plant itself. We also cannot get something eatable from it within three months. That is, if we’re lucky enough to have a specialist amongst the civilians who can get that thing to work within a week or so.”
The bad news devastated Harm. The cities on Earth, even cities of similar size as London Sethii, all had powerful food manufacturing plants to support every citizen. They were carefully maintained in order to keep the population healthy, well-fed and, most importantly, content.
On planets like these, planets that housed fewer civilians compared to Earth by far, growing crops in the natural way was probably a much better and much more preferable way of producing food.
All of this wouldn’t be a problem if Sethis wasn’t evacuated several years ago. Harm remembered that his own son had participated in it, although he heard about it much later than the actual evacuation. If he made the correct conclusions out of what he heard and saw about Dygonn and the female that was with him, in his apartment, she was his loved one and he developed that crush during his battle on Sinivar Island.
“Sir?” Asked Reid. “What are your orders?”
“That we should find the means of scavenging this land as soon as possible so that we may find food. Perhaps hunt deer, if that is possible. I’ll ask my son and commander Temera to help.”
“I understand sir. Should we half the rations in the meantime?”
“Yes. The people won’t like it, but then we’ve got six days to find food.” Answered Harm, while he was interrupted by an incoming transmission. “Wait a minute... Dygonn, what is it?”
It was Eric. He came to the town as fast as he could to get the little girl to a more peaceful environment. “I’ve got a girl in my ACU and now that the battle’s over, I’ve got the time to get her out. Can you get her some water so she can recover?”
“I’ll do what I can, but we’ve got more trouble than just this, captain.” Said Harm. “I need you and Leython here immediately.”
Leython didn’t know what to do after his father explained the situation. “We must act immediately. With supply for six days, on half rations, we simply don’t have the time to support seventy thousand people. I have got blueprints for a food production plant in my ACU but it is only for a few people. I would have to build thousand of those things and every single one requires contact with its ACU.”
“And it would take some time before the first supplies are produced, I assume?” Asked Reid Let to Leython.
“Yes, a couple of hours. It’s not much but it can be critical if we require so much.”
“But not everyone has to eat at the same time, right?” Asked Harm. “If we can distribute the food correctly, everyone will be eating at a different time. That’ll surely double the number of people we can support.”
“I didn’t think of that. Good idea.” Answered Leython. “I think we’ll triple the number but we’ll still be able to support a mere thirty thousand. I don’t think that the civilians will be happy with less than fifty per cent rations of food that doesn’t even taste well.”
“No, that is correct.” Said Eric. “We’ll need something better. We’ll have to explore the area. Perhaps go to another city and see if they have a major production facility there. That’ll relieve us in a couple of months.”
“Yes.” Said Harm. “Reid, search for some scientists. Some engineers who know how this stuff works. We’ll have to get that working as soon as we can. Leython, you will build food production facilities while Eric will build a defensive base and use spy planes to explore the area. Any fertile land can be turned into farmland. We’ve got a great chance of finding ourselves in the middle of farms that have been abandoned years ago. With a bit of luck, we can get something eatable from that pretty soon.”
“Well, we destroyed part of the farmland in our battle with QAI. So you can be sure that we’re compromised. Cybran strategic missiles pose no nuclear threat despite for the fact that we still call them nukes, so we’re luckily save from any sort of radioactive contamination.” Said Leython.
“Leython, get to work immediately. We need everything we can get.”
Three hours later...
“I’ve almost finished construction on my supply base. We’ll need the means of distributing it to the people, dad.” Said Leython after hours of work. The small structures had their own power supply and required very little resources to work, compared to the Cybran weaponry, but Leython had built more than nine hundred.
“I can take care of that. Don’t forget that I’m good with any kind of logistics.”
“We are still short on food, we’ll have to think of something.”
“Perhaps one of you can go to another city and search for a large food processing centre to power up. We can then distribute food from there.”
“It’ll not be much. I think that the only cities in the vicinity are Tharod and New Venice. We can take a look, if those cities still exist.”
“How do you know that?” Asked Harm. As far as he knew, Leython wasn’t so interested in the current geographical state of a planet.
“How I know it, isn’t important. We’ve got to take a look, but I’m not sure how we can do that. I’ve got my fighter though. I’ll work on that as soon as I can but I can only take one person with me.”
“Perhaps you should leave that to someone else. You’re more use to us in that ACU.” Interrupted Reid Let.
“I know, but I doubt that you know of any pilot who can fly my plane.” Replied Leython. “The handling is ancient, from the twenty-second century or something like that, so if you can find someone who can fly with that sort of equipment...”
“I’ll do my best. I can do that while I’m looking for other useful people. I already found some new assistants for your father. He can’t do it all by himself.”
“I’m trying to find a way to get the production plants to work without the ACU’s contact. There should be a way to do this, but I haven’t found out how.”
“Why do you want to do that? Building another base? Asked Reid.
“No, I want to find out what’s going on in the universe. We might be one of the few who actually know that QAI has turned against us. The whole Cybran nation relies on that thing and not having it is an issue, but having it fight against you while you just send thousands of requests and enormous files of data to that thing is nothing short from direct suicide.”
“The trap for Dygonn is ready to be deployed at your discretion, master.” Said QAI. It had dedicated one of its major processes to the search for Dygonn. If it found out that the human was travelling through the quantum network, it could warn the Seraphim warriors immediately, who would arrive within Dygonn’s vicinity five minutes later. If the human pilot was lucky.
“We are currently in the stage of cleansing Earth.” Answered Seth-Iavow. “The Ahwassas are successful, but most of our ACUs are here as well because we are seeking to see the entire planet free from any humans. We will not continue until Dygonn is the primary target. We are engaging the high-ranked members of the UEF and Cybran nation soon, they are more important.”
“Affirmative. My calculations conclude that the death of Clarke or Dostya is fifty point three times more significant than the death of Dygonn. When you are ready to attack the strategist, I suggest to do it immediately.”
“You will arrange the trap, yes.” Said the War Leader. “This is the second time you wish to elaborate about Dygonn’s destruction. I will not forget.”
“I really wish we had the support of some more commanders, Leython. We can’t possibly hold the line on our own if those Seraphim come to attack us.” Said Eric, tired by what had become hours of work.
“Not to mention that we’ve got to keep ourselves awake for twelve hours, in this ACU. We’ll have to keep watch in turn.” Replied Leython simply.
“I’m sure that we’re going to live in our command units. I’m the only one with a proper base now.”
“Yeah, one with only three omni sensors. You’ve got to build them all over the field. We must know all about it.”
“Oh, sorry. I’ll start working on that immediately.” Said the UEF captain. “Hey, I’m sorry about what I did at the Academy.”
“Oh please, you’re not getting sentimental, are you?” Asked Leython, unable to hide his irritation. “I know it’s not easy to apologize and even harder to find the right words for it so I understand that you’ll sound stupid, but please don’t make it too bad. Besides, I’ve had my share in our constant arguing as well.”
“Yeah, but you were right about everything you said.” Retrted Eric, as if he hoped he could condone Leython’s behaviour.
“So were you, except for the ‘loyalty to the UEF part’. Or maybe you were right about that too. I don’t think I could turn to the Cybrans so easily if doctor Brackman hadn’t explained his situation.”
“How was it there, in the Cybran nation?” Asked Eric, suddenly changing the subject.
“Well, I’ve been in a node that’s got a society much like the UEF. I can’t tell you much about the other nodes, except that they’ve all got the same ugly tasting food.”
“I think that the first groups of citizens have found out by now.” Answered Leython, hoping that he didn’t do more wrong than right by using the Cybran manufacturing devices.
“It’s dreadful. Disgusting.” Said Edward. His mother sighed. Edward had always been a troublesome boy if it came to food, but this time he was absolutely right about it. He wasn’t the only one who hated it, only by taking a look at the other people in the street was enough that Dygonn’s food production facility turned out to be bad.
“It’s not that it actually tastes bad, I don’t taste it at all and that makes it bad because I’m chewing on something that feels and looks like... Like molten plastic.”
“I know Edward. I know, but there’s not much we can do about it.” Sighed Sephia. “We’ve been told we can eat some of the food from Earth, but we’ve got to try to do five days with that... and this.”
Edward didn’t answer, but took another bit of the gray goo on his plate, trying not to vomit.
Suddenly, they both heard a sound of something flying through the air. As they both looked up, like many around them, they saw a plane that was of Cybran design.
Leython landed at a clear spot on the street, thanking his ability to take off and land vertically. He jumped out immediately and ignored the angry glares cast at him by almost everyone who saw the former UEF commander.
Sephia noticed that the twenty-six year old man carefully looked around while he walked and that he eventually turned to her, seemingly forgetting everyone else.
When he stood close to her, he immediately talked: “Are you Sephia Alaric? I’m Leython Dygonn and my father’s assistant has identified you as a pilot.”
“I’m sorry, what is this all about?”
“Have you learned to fly with the twenty-second centuries’ plane equipment? With that I mean the cockpit of that fighter.” Said Leython and he pointed at his plane.
“I think I can.” Replied Sephia, still not knowing what Leython wanted her to do. “Why?”
“We need you to check neighbouring cities. I know of two cities nearby, named Tharod and New Venice. The UEF type of food manufacturing plants produce much better crops than the Cybran ones, as you have experienced by yourself now. There is one plant in London Sethii, but that’ll not do for more than ten thousand people. I suspect that most of the food here was still done by manual labour on real farms, a concept that is barely known on Earth.”
“You want me to look at cities nearby to see if those have a manufacturing plant as well? Why me?”
“If you can pilot the plane, I’m relieved of that duty and I can do what I’m best at, protecting this place against any sort of enemy, I’ll be of better use in my ACU but we still have to see if we can get more UEF food, if you know what I mean.”
“I get it, so what do I do if I find those production plants? How will I find them in the first place?”
“My father’s assistant, Reid Let, is searching for either of the engineers who work in such a plant. We’re very lucky to have them, because they might know how to get such a thing started.”
“What if we manage to do that?”
“Then you’ll come back here and we’ll discuss the next step. We hope that we can have enough people to run such a thing.”
“Ok, I think I can do that.” Said Sepia, looking a bit scared nonetheless. “But what about my son?”
“I’ll take him to my father. I think he found someone to take care of the girl captain Temera took in his ACU, he’ll also find someone for your son for the time being.”
The spy planes rushed towards the front and flew further as fast as they could. While QAI sent in another wave of strategic missiles, it immediately changed their targets. They were no longer flying to be taken out by Dygonn’s defences, but had to destroy several Olympus radar towers that QAI failed to detect earlier.
Immediately, the Seraphim’s creation programmed and compiled a new set of algorithms, again. Dygonn had built the omni sensors at locations QAI would not look in case its forces would be attacked. QAI understood why.
Dygonn had been monitoring every single one of its forces and took the time to plan a trap. The traps were set at the end of the line: the Cybran and UEF bases owned by the human commanders. Any unit that would be sent in, was destroyed. QAI had taken all possible scenarios into account, safe for this one. Dygonn was a commander who always wanted to deal with a certain threat as quickly and as efficiently as possible, so that he suffered the least harm and was absolutely certain about his success, but that wasn’t the case this time.
Within a millisecond, the artificial intelligence found a way to find Dygonn and started to calculate where it exactly had to target its strategic missiles, so that the strategist noticed he was going to die when it was far too late.
Leython’s first action was to build a static stealth generator. As soon as he realised that QAI wasn’t searching for him behind its own lines, he started working on his base.
Seconds later, the Twilight stealth generator was active and Leython added a tier one land factory to it. With those two buildings, the base should start working on its own so that the former UEF captain could teleport back to his main base if he had to.
Suddenly, he noticed that he was going to be set back in his plans. A strategic missile descended close to the two Monkeylords he had destroyed just before they entered his base. No Strategic Missile Defence was able to take the weapon down and Leython didn’t understand why QAI hadn’t done this before. An artificial intelligence could not feel any emotion and was therefore unable to be nervous. Its capabilities on the field were not depending on a good or bad mood and would be employed in the best way, always.
Then again, they were still alive even though they had eight ACUs against them. It should’ve ended badly for the two human commanders before they even got their hands on the destruction of the fourth command unit.
“Eric, how much fatboys do you have?”
“None yet, I don’t have that much resources available and it’s just been thirty seconds since we’ve been working on our new plan.”
“How far are you with the first one?” Asked Leython impatiently.
“Thirty per cent at this moment, don’t rush me!” Shot Eric back.
“Sorry, but I’m not very sure about whether this is going to work or not.”
“Neither am I but we don’t have much of a choice, do we?”
While Leython continued with his base in the middle of QAI’s territory, he noticed that his enemy wasn’t doing very much. It was waiting for something and that meant they would be in trouble very soon.
A minute later, Leython knew what QAI was waiting for. The omni sensors near the front, carefully hidden by stealth generators, were now facing the devastating power of multiple strategic missiles.
They didn’t stand a chance.
“We just lost our main source of intel, Eric. Be ready for anything, especially strategic bombers and experimental Spiderbots.” Said Leython hastily. “I’m discarding my stealth generator and rebuilding the teleporter. I’ve got my land factory upgraded to tier two and it’s building mobile stealth generators, which will cover up my base. Tier two engineers, and tier three versions of them later on, will fortify my base and build an assault force.”
“What do we have to do in the meanwhile? Like you said, we can’t sit here and wait for QAI to come.”
“QAI knows that it can’t breach our bases with land forces, it is building air units now. So we’ll be safe if we use our own land units to deal with one of its bases.”
“What if QAI knows that as well? Then it’ll wait for us to fail and attack us afterwards.” Said Eric. “I’m going to send in spy planes to check in on his defences.”
“You make a valid point and that’s why you’re going to have to hurry up with those Fatboy experimentals.” Said Leython. The better Eric could defend his own base, the safer they both were. Leython could protect his own hideout with his ACU and the possible support from Eric’s experimental factories.
A minute later, Eric’s spy planes disclosed the secrets of QAI’s bases that were located closest to the front.
“Nothing special.” He said while his Blackbird planes fell like leafs. “I’m losing my aircraft to base defences, not to air superiority fighters. You’re right about that assault. We should do it now.”
“We’re going to have to be careful. We’ll bring the forces in with air transports, covered by Deceivers. Then we can get close to the enemy base without being detected. We’ll have to send spy planes with our force too though. We cannot allow QAI to destroy our air fleet if it accidentally stumbles on us with Geminis, or if we forgot about one of its omni sensors.”
The eighty-ninth wave of Spooks detected Dygonn’s ACU in his own base but QAI calculated that the enemy had enough time to build a stationary stealth generator and at least two factories for the time that the ACU’s location was unknown.
Building additional omni sensors everywhere, in order to disclose the enemy’s hideout, was an impossible task. It would cost too much energy and by the time the job was done, Dygonn would have constructed an army that was very capable of destroying his economical bases.
The strategic missiles QAI had sent, continued though. Those were targeting the exact location where Dygonn was while he wasn’t found on the artificial intelligence’s radar. That was the area where the human pilot would have built a base.
QAI didn’t have to build tier three radar towers to find Dygonn’s secret base, it only had to calculate the location by known intel and vast databases about the strategist’s strategies.
To be absolutely certain, QAI started building yet another group of spy planes, which were to find the remains of Dygonn’s futile attempt of a backdoor assault after the strategic missiles exploded.
In other words, they were to find a pile of rubble right now.
“I’ve got my first fatboy up and running, Leython.” Said Eric half a minute after three nuclear explosions occurred at some random location of the battlefield. “How are things on your end?”
“The usual, I’m being besieged by strategic missiles.” Replied the former UEF captain while he built another missile defence structure to cover his latest addition of his base. “I’m building some mass fabricators and power generators. Getting myself lots of Loyalists, Trebuchets and mobile flak as well, along with the deceivers.”
“Good, when were we attacking again?”
“Let’s load up the transports, are your gunships ready?” Asked Leython. Whether their new plan worked or not depended on the Stinger class gunships that were supposed to draw QAI’s attention.
“Everything’s ready. Give me the flight path for our diversion.” Replied the UEF captain. Leython could hear his eagerness in his voice.
“Don’t get too excited. We don’t know if this really works or not.”
“Doing nothing will definitely not work.” Said Eric while thirty air transports took off. Every transport carried a mobile stealth generator, a Parashield, a Loyalist and a Titan. Leython was sure that he and his ally were able to destroy the entire base before any strategic bomber arrived.
While Eric concentrated on the flight paths of the gunships and the air transports, Leython sent some Dragon Flies to follow. His tier two transports carried nothing but engineers and a single Deceiver. A destroyed base was still very useful and Leython wouldn’t allow QAI to have it.
“The front is incredibly silent. We’re facing no land forces and air units aren’t coming for us either.” Said Eric. “I really wonder whether this computer is stupid or actually preparing a trap for us.”
“Perhaps I can answer that question for you. I’ve got some units on radar. Send some Blackbirds to find out what it is. I’m fairly certain about what we’re going to see but just in case I’m wrong...” Answered Leython and several UEF spy planes took off immediately to find out what it was.
Leython’s expectations became truth with the first sight on QAI’s weaponry.
“Well, I can answer that question. This computer is just stupid. It’s not creative. I wouldn’t expect anything but Hunter bots as a diversion of his tier three assault.” Said Leython and Eric became so excited that the little girl who watched what he did became scared of him: “Leython, just teleport in with your ACU and shoot those things down with that laser.”
“I might actually not want to do that. QAI’s got bombers as backup and I’ll be dead in an instant. Calm down a bit, Eric. It’s not for me but you’re about to give that girl a heart failure.”
“Oh yeah, sorry.” Said the UEF captain and he glanced at the girl. In that tiny moment, Leython noticed the tier three land force that the spy planes discovered shortly after they left the light assault bots.
“Ok, I’m in trouble if we don’t do anything about that. It’s forty Loyalists at least, with backup from Wagners, Deceivers and two Monkeylords.” Said the strategist. Eric immediately ordered his first fatboy to move to Leython’s base and Leython thanked him for that.
In the meanwhile, the Air transports arrived close to their target. The Stinger gunships had to be targeted by now, thought Leython, but the simple fact was that nothing happened.
“Land with the transports here.” Said Leython, marking the closest possible location that was still out of reach for the enemy flak towers and SAM sites. “Attack the base to the west with our gunships. Perhaps we can kill two bases with one plan.”
“This is ridiculous.” Answered Eric. “We should have been attacked already.” He had barely spoken the words or all of his air transports were destroyed. It was too late to salvage the damage, all hope for QAI to thwart this plan was gone. The UEF Sky Lifters had already dropped the units, only moments before the one hundred Gemini shot them down.
“There’s the response we’ve been waiting for. QAI anticipated on our plan. It’s about time.” Said Leyhon, glad that his Dragon Fly transports still flew. They were supposed to arrive a minute later than their UEF counterparts and that saved them. Leython immediately turned to the situation of Eric’s gunships: “Divert all power to their thrusters and see if you can destroy the power plants in that other base.”
“If we get these two bases down, QAI’s intel won’t reach to the location of its first two losses, will it?” Asked Eric.
“No, it won’t. That’s why I asked you to attack the other base as well. If we can deal with this, we’ll push the frontlines away from our bases and QAI will lose a lot of its zone of control. We can finally expand forward instead of having to use our backyard.”
Thirty Titans and thirty Loyalists continuously fired their guns as they entered the enemy base. Leython had told Eric the targets of interest: tier three power generators, mass extractors and mass fabricators. As usual in this battle for intelligence, QAI’s omni sensors were to be destroyed as well.
“It’s barely got any volatile buildings clumped together. This isn’t really good for us.”
“Divert your groups. Make groups of two Titans and two Parashields. I’ll do my best to include two Loyalists as well, but I’m a little busy retreating the stealth generators.” Said Leython while he sent every Deceiver back to his own base. They had served their purpose by concealing the UEF transports but were useless now QAI had spotted the army within its own base.
Meanwhile, the tier two Gunships had arrived at their target and the first part of the group already fell.
“I think we made a mistake by letting them attack this base. It’s thick in anti-air.” Said Eric while he managed to destroy two Ion Reactors.
“Locate the omni sensor and destroy it.” Said Leython shortly after he powered up his teleportation module, although it was too late. The gunships that survived the first waves of anti-air grenades were quickly destroyed by the several SAM sites that all targeted an individual Stinger.
As the last gunship crashed, Leython suddenly stood directly in front of the light assault bots that were only two minutes away from his base. The tier three army would follow less than a minute later.
The Cybran ACU’s heavy microwave laser powered up and the red beam cut through the enemy ranks like a hot knife through butter. Leyton added an overcharged shot to it and then activated its teleporter again.
The Gemini fighters arrived shortly after the last gunship fell. QAI had successfully ignored the diversion but was too late to destroy the real threat nonetheless. As if it weren’t enough, the UEF gunships had managed to destroy a critical component in the artificial intelligence’s front lines.
Not only they destroyed three ion reactors, one of the last few that were to be destroyed, took the tier three radar tower with it in its crash.
The only two Olympus towers QAI had left now, was the one in the base that was under attack and the one hidden in the long since destroyed base: the first outpost that was attacked by the UEF commander Temera.
QAI counted on the fact that Dygonn had found it already but apparently, the strategist was not smart enough to do so. The longer it would take him, the better it was for the Seraphim’s creation.
Ten of the forty Revenants that were to destroy the compound of UEF and Cybran assault force, were suddenly ordered to turn around. QAI noticed Dygonn’s bold move as it detected a Cybran ACU in front of the Hunter bots, decimating five within a second. Within fifteen seconds, they would arrive and end Dygonn’s life.
Five seconds later, they turned around again. Dygonn had, without knowing it, activated its teleportation module a second too early and QAI made another mark in Dygonn’s extensive database: the commander had an increased quantity of what humans called ‘luck’.
It was not much of a problem, so concluded QAI, ordering the other bombers to fly in five groups of six. Each squad would be able to deal with two shields and their generators, while damaging the heavy assault bots as well. The Revenants that were lagging would end it.
Having to do that three times over meant that most of the base was lost, but this was the fastest way to deal with the problem.
Engineers reclaimed as fast as they could and it paid off for Leython. While he originally planned to stop production in his factories of his primary base, in order to build an army for a sneak attack on QAI fast enough, he could now just build weapons with everything he could.
Sadly, it meant that Eric got no advantage from the wrecks yet, while he did deserve at least half of it, thanks to his role in the battle.
However, Eric didn’t need it, yet. He wouldn’t be under attack so soon and he would probably not face any enemy unit in his own base anymore. Not today.
As Leython teleported back into his own base, closely monitoring all progress on the known battlefield, he thought about a possible secret omni sensor that QAI could have.
While he continued with his job, he noticed the Cybran Revenant bombers that closed in on the compound of Cybran and UEF forces. The bombers were carefully grouped and could almost destroy one squad in one bombing run. For some reason, QAI made a mistake though, by being one bomber short in each group. The shield generators would be destroyed but all assault bots were strong enough to survive the first run.
Leython carefully looked at what happened and the result was exactly as he predicted. It was a flaw in QAI’s plan, one that came apparent as the units managed to take some structures down before another squad of bombers arrived and finished the job on five of the fifteen groups he and Eric had.
“You’re right Leython, we can take this base down.” Said Eric. “I took the liberty of building some spy planes again. Where do you want them?”
“Scout the gating points of the first two of QAI’s drones we destroyed. I’m sending stealth generators to you, order your engineers to assist them so that I can order them to move out and then we can finally claim those locations.”
“How is the enemy land force doing?”
“Still alive. I’m working on trebuchets and I’m also trying to get my cloaking generator again. If I can do that, my ACU will be able to help.”
“Isn’t that dangerous with those bombers near?”
“The bombers will be shot down long before I put my ACU on the line. I’m allowing the land force to enter my base, the Revenants will follow in order to take my fragile shields out. They will fall like leafs and then I’m safe.”
“That’ll cost you your base.” Retorted Eric. Leython was all too easy with his sacrifices. Eric remembered that it was the other way around at the time of the Academy. Normally, it was Dygonn who thought the plan through and won the battle with the least casualties. It was Eric who didn’t care about his units and just sent them in.
“It’s a necessary sacrifice. I heard you saying such a thing before. Wondering whether it couldn’t be done in a better way.” Answered Leython while he checked his base in the north, far behind QAI’s lines.
“I don’t, frankly. I usually don’t care about how much I lose, as long as I can keep going. You won’t be able to do so at all if you lose your base.” Said Eric, destroying the final buildings of one of QAI’s bases. The attack had been very effective. A base that seemed to cost more than ten minutes to break down with tier three weaponry, was actually flattened little more than three. It had to be anyway, because that also happened to be the time the bombers needed to deal with the threat.
“It was when we had to destroy a Cybran commander, hidden by its cloaking generator. Under my command, we used tier one bombers and dealt with the problem. You objected, thinking it wouldn’t work and it would take too much bombers down.”
“Oh, yeah, but what does that have to do with this?”
“What I want to say and what I wanted to explain back then, was that if the casualties are worse on the enemy’s side, then they’re worth it. Especially because there’s not a single human life on the line.”
“Will your casualties be worth it?”
“Yes, assuming I can keep some SMDs alive, I’ll be able to reclaim and rebuild everything that’s destroyed. It’ll actually make me some mass I think. Don’t forget that I will also be able to take one of QAI’s economy bases out of commission.”
Six thousand three hundred and thirty ancient ticks, or, as humans phrased it: ten minutes and thirty three seconds.
It was the time Dygonn and Temera needed to destroy one of QAI’s bases and thwart the renewed assault on the strategist. QAI now had eight bases and eight commanders left, as the ACU in the besieged base could retreat soon enough.
However, it didn’t do the artificial intelligence any good to have it. By now, the Cybran command units were nothing more than a glorified engineer. However, every ACU could control thousand units and that was needed in order to succeed.
The total of its arsenal could rise to eight thousand, while Dygonn and Temera were limited to two thousand. It was time to dig in and leave the uncontrolled zones uncontrolled. Constant use of strategic missiles could prevent the two human commanders from gaining the mass deposits that once belonged to the drone ACUs, but it was expensive, even with its massive economy.
Another five minutes went by as QAI constructed one unit after another, launched several nukes, all hitting their targets and sent spy plane after spy plane in order to find out what Dygonn was up to.
Unfortunately, the former UEF captain was up to something that would frustrate any human being.
Out of nowhere, more than hundred units appeared. By the time QAI detected them on radar, they already entered a base. The base solely built for economical purposes.
Visual contact immediately showed the Artificial intelligence that he faced tier one artillery, covered by Deceiver stealth generators.
On their own, facing an enemy unit of some sort, these weapons could do virtually nothing, but now a vast group converged on the only base that had no defensive weaponry, because there was no chance that Dygonn would find a way to attack the base.
Not even when he managed to get away with the construction of a secret base, he would be able to reach out here. He couldn’t possibly send his units through. It would only be possible if he had built the base incredibly close to QAI’s economy farms.
Within a millisecond, the Seraphim’s Creation simulated this scenario and by reversing the program, it calculated exactly where the base would be. Another millisecond later, the strategic missile launchers opened their hatch and launched every missile they had.
More than twenty nukes ascended in the air, their course being plotted to the nanometre precise.
Not only the base would be destroyed, but the whole surrounding area would see death itself.
The damage on its base had already been done though. QAI could do little but send the ACU in and charge with its overcharge functionality. The ACU wasn’t equipped with a microwave laser to save some mass. Additionally, if the assassination attempt of some time ago would fail badly, QAI still needed a command unit to control the battlefield.
Artillery shells exploded at the edge of the base and their explosions were immediately followed by the destruction of three economy farms. One minute later, forty per cent of the base’s income was gone.
Another ten seconds later, the air was filled with a massive thermonuclear explosion.
“Five down, seven to go.” Said Leython. The explosion caused by an Ion Reactor created an enormous chain reaction and instantaneously decimated the base. As if the catastrophe wasn’t enough for QAI, one of its drones was inside. It couldn’t hope to survive the explosions that were good for several nukes.
“Don’t you think it will find your secret base now?” Asked Eric. Even for someone who’s weakness was intelligence warfare, it was obvious that QAI knew where it had to search.
“It will. I think it has already launched its entire nuclear arsenal in order to deal with it. We both know that QAI’s built so many omni sensors everywhere, that it deemed its own backyard secure. I’m certain that it has build a perimeter, around its economy base. Using bombers then, as soon as some units are detected, is better than any other sort of defensive weaponry.
The fact that I managed to break through virtually unnoticed, means that QAI knows the base can be at only one location. QAI calculated where that would be.”
“It calculated it before and was wrong. What’s the chance that it’s wrong again?”
“Nil. I’ve been able to hide my ACU relatively easy and walk away from where I teleported, early on. Then I built the base at a completely different location than QAI expected. That’s why its calculations were wrong before.
This time, I’ve sent a large army, making it impossible to manoeuvre through QAI’s nets of omni sensors. So a simple calculations remains.”
“If QAI knows where your base is, you can tell where its omni sensors are.”
“I already know that. I’m working on that issue now. Medusa artilleries were not the only units I built.”
With a series of orders, Leython sent several air scouts and tier one bombers in the air. Being fairly certain about the location of QAI’s radar installations, he only had to find the exact spots. He wasn’t so good with calculations as the artificial intelligence though, so it would still take some time. Time his enemy could use to take his small air force down.
Nonetheless, the assault would prove disastrous for QAI, because Leython soon found three sensors.
“This means I can easily build a new base.” He said to Eric, ordering engineers to leave his old one, protected the mobile stealth generators that were used to guide the Medusa artillery.
“I finished another Fatboy. I’ve got ten now.” Replied Eric. He also had a new tier three army, carefully covered by more than fifty tier two shields.
“Send them in. Fatboys covered by the Parashields. QAI’s bombers will attempt to take those out first and your experimentals aren’t the strongest that could be built in the field.”
Eric obeyed Leython and ordered his army to move. Less than half a minute later, Leython’s air transports dropped several mobile stealth generators off, so they could hide the assault force.
The advance went excruciatingly slow and it took them ten minutes to get halfway through. Leython sent another group of transports to join the assault force. This time, they were carrying engineers, covered by Deceivers, as usual.
While they continued with their creeping death, Leython had built another base behind enemy lines. The strategic missiles QAI launched, had done their job and his old base was completely vaporized. As the new base, concealed form QAI’s radar, slowly but steadily grew, Leython noticed that the artificial intelligence had decided to give it another try. Another wave of Spooks surged through the sky and discovered the platoon of Fatboys. It would certainly not take long before the strategic bombers arrived.
“Eric, stop moving, order your Fatboys to build tier three engineers and build some tier two shield generators.” Said Leython, while he constructed some SAM sites.
Shortly before the experimental factories had built their engineers, ten Revenant squads arrived and dropped their payload. The ten Fatboys’ shields immediately collapsed, as well as the shields directly in front of them.
Tier two mobile flak responded to the thread, launching grenades into the sky. Fast as they were, the first few Revenants made it through without any damage but the ones that followed took the full folly. Despite for the deadly barrage, none of the bombers crashed to the ground.
“Leython, why don’t you build an omni sensor here? Then we can see the bombers the whole time.” Said Eric. Leython wanted to agree, but they had more pressing matters at hand.
“Build SMDs, QAI will launch strategic missiles and the Fatboys won’t be able to get out in time.”
The missile defences were expensive and took some time to build, but Eric had a second batch of engineers available and he ordered them to work together.
While suddenly half of the bombers fell out of the sky due to the extensive damage dealt by the mobile flak guns, managed the two human commanders to build two defence silos and the engineers immediately went to work to fill them up to the maximum.
“You’re able to get some extra construction drones, Eric, so you’ll have to build the omni sensor now.” Said Leython. Without a word, the UEF captain went to work with his third group his Fatboys built for him and ten seconds later, his new radar tower detected a vast group of units moving in on the assault force.
“The Fatboys will deal with that, keep them where they are.” Said Leython, watching at the strategy screen, with Eric’s information forwarded for him. QAI apparently knew about the new UEF omni sensor as well: “The units are trying to retreat. That computer knows it can’t deal with the threat.”
“Strategic launch detected.” Leython and Eric heard it in their cockpits simultaneously but neither of them were alarmed. Even though they didn’t have a missile now, the nukes would take too long before they’d arrive. By the time they should explode, the two commanders had gotten their hands on four defensive missiles.
QAI was unable to do anything, safe for witnessing the loss of two more bases. Apparently, some of Dygonn’s units had survived the missile strike that was supposed to deal with the secret base behind the artificial intelligence’s lines.
The wrong calculations set QAI further back by every moment that passed. Fatboys took its bases out while it was unable to do anything against it.
QAI spent many of its processes in analyzing the battle, to find out what went wrong. While the seventh ACU went nuclear, it could not conclude anything, safe from the fact that the approach of destroying Dygonn had failed to begin with. The intelligence expert had been able to analyze the artificial intelligence’s movement and used that to his advantage.
UEF wasps appeared and it was obvious that QAI now had to give up its air superiority as well.
Every moment that the Seraphim’s Creation discovered another of Dygonn’s tactics, the strategy expert altered his approach and changed small but important details in his battle plan. Along with the advantage in time, it gave him the edge required to hold the line, reclaim anything that was within reach and strike back.
There was only one way to destroy Dygonn now. However, the creators had made it in this universe only several hours ago. They could not go here immediately, having planned a relatively slow but steadily moving apocalypse. It was time to lure Dygonn back into the centre of UEF territory.