CHAPTER 1 - OVERCHARGE
A single explosion in the air scout’s engines caused it to crash directly to the ground, but it was already too late for its enemy: Leython Dygonn had seen the base’s lay-out and he devised an attack plan within seconds.
“Leave the anti-air at home, Josh.” He said with a trace of boredom in his voice. The mission was one of the easiest he had seen in his entire career. The Aeon commanders weren’t even trying to do anything. “This reminds me of our Sinivar battle, Marisa. I’m sure there’s something more in it, they can send substitutes at any minute.”
“Seraphim unit detected.” Replied Marisa just as Leython finished. “There is your ‘something’. “What do we do now?”
“Command has to decide on the next step. Until then, I’ll monitor their progress while you destroy all --” He was interrupted by the massive explosion caused by Josh Funky. “-- Aeon commanders. If I see that they become too strong, we’ll switch immediately. Then we’re going to have to kill the Aeon with assassination attempts rather than our full power.”
Ten of Leython’s air scouts had already taken off and all left in a different direction. At the front, with the city behind him and the Aeon pilots to his east, he was sure the aliens had lost seventy per cent of their possible construction yards.
Half a minute later, he had his answer: “Six bases in total. The weakest one at the back. He’s slow in his initial building. All firepower on him right now, use every air unit and Josh,” he said and he turned to the UEF major, “distribute some air transports.”
Bombers above a second Aeon base had almost destroyed the commander and Leython noticed how soon the ACU would explode, just three bombing runs would be enough: “Shilon, get four bombers back! Jeff, air transport with engineers down there!”
Another explosion filled up the sky within moments and the second Aeon base self-destructed another few later. Meanwhile, the first Seraphim bombers attacked Shilon’s base, but the newly improved anti-air managed to destroy them with a just a few losses in the Symbiont’s base. Shilon reclaimed them immediately and nothing happened: the Seraphim didn’t have a quantum leeching device installed yet.
In one simple motion, all of Josh Funky’s air transports converged on the sixth Seraphim base while Shilon’s bombers had just overtaken them and the first bombs already fell. All of the alien’s structures were still stronger than the coalition’s counterparts but the many tier one power generators and the few tech two mass extractors couldn’t stand the overwhelming force that descended upon the base.
Lobo artillery, Mantis assault bots and Aurora light tanks were dropped and their respective owners immediately broke the groups apart while giving them targets to attack. The Seraphim commander fired its first shots while the artillery decimated the structures the bombers had left standing.
One of Josh’s air transports crashed themselves in the delicate radar tower, blinding the Seraph. No one had time for a backup or an advanced version to support their comrade. Major Funky saw the alien interceptors sent by an ally were about to find him, regardless of the lack of intel. He ordered the other transports to fly into the ACU.
Before he managed to do so, the land units had suffered some casualties. The first overcharged shot had decimated the Mantii, effectively eliminating half of the direct assault force. The Lobo artillery were of no concern to the pilot, their shots could be dodged with ease, if necessary.
But the UEF artillery didn’t even bother the command unit. Instead, they showed how human technology was slowly but surely catching up with the Seraphim. Throughout the two years, their production facilities succumbed sooner and sooner to the violent fragmentation shells.
“Shilon, turn the bombers around, attack the Seraphim base to the west. Their backup is disrupted, it’s time to move on to the next one.”
Shilon didn’t even answer but the Zeus type planes immediately turned for their new target. In the meanwhile, Selene had advanced to the tier two level and five engineers had managed to sneak through a backdoor in the Aeon front, they were preparing Leython’s secret attack.
Even for the Seraphim, retaliation came surprisingly quick. Air transports performing a kamikaze strike on the sixth commander didn’t make the pilot flinch. A couple of swift moves and all the transports could do before they crashed was scratching an arm or leg. Thee overcharged bolts destroyed the Auroras and Mantii that were left, while the first Seraphim air transport arrived. Eight tanks to assist the commander in the destruction of the final group of units, Josh’s Lobos.
“I’m in trouble guys.” Said Jeff suddenly. “Seraphim units are preparing to attack my outposts. If I lose that, they win the battle.” Before he finished, the new groups of units already moved to organize better. Leython issued his orders for a proper defensive line. “Josh, Shilon, we’re going to have to go there with our ACUs. Selene, how long?”
“One minute.” Answered the Aeon knight. “They still do not suspect anything.”
“Leython.” Interrupted Marisa suddenly. “HQ confirms that this is the only front, but they are sending additional commanders for support.”
“Understood. The city is forty kilometres behind us. How is it going there?”
“They are preparing to leave but a successful evacuation will take time.”
“Understood. We’re going to have to retreat eventually. They’ll be too strong when they expand properly.” Said Leython while his ACU was pulled into the first tier two transport he built.
While he set of for Jeff’s expansion zone, three consecutive nuclear explosions told him Selene was successful. Her tactical missile strikes had been successful and the unprepared Order knights didn’t stand a chance.
The Seraphim responded immediately and sent a group of units in the direction of the open space. Engineers unloaded and reclaimed immediately, while building a couple of factories and power generators.
“More missiles Selene! Hit everything, especially engineers that will stand still for a longer time.” Said Marisa quickly while Shilon and Josh moved in their air transports as well.
“HQ. This is Dygonn, where are the reinforcements? We need them right now to make a difference on the field. If it takes more time, we’re going to have to hide and fight in the city.”
“Commander Dygonn, we will relay your advice to the commanders. They are unable to join you in the next three minutes.”
“Great.” Said Leython angrily. “We’re going to need battle upgrades, nothing but those. We’ll be forced in the defensive within moments”.
“Leython, if we are going to have a battle in the city, resource allocation systems may be useful.” Said Jeff.
“No, we can drain energy from the city itself, range upgrades, shield generators and cloaking generators will probably do more than point defences.”
Leython’s ACU was dropped at the new front between the coalition forces and the Seraphim. Three scout units arrived and he destroyed them all with ease, but not before they had seen that there were no tanks to back him up.
“Any bomber should assist us. Since they have only one shot at it, thanks to their fighters, we have to send the bombers towards their new expansion after their first run, they might make that because it’s an unexpected move.”
Josh and Shilon joined Leython half a minute later, shortly before the Seraphim army moved out. It consisted of nothing but medium tanks and anti-air vehicles. Selene had upgraded her land factory to tier two and the first mobile shield generators loaded into the transports to be shipped to the three commanders that guarded the frontline.
The first of Jeff’s Riptide tanks arrived as well and as soon as the first enemy tanks moved into range, they were destroyed by the overcharged bolts from any of the three ACUs, or damaged by the tier two hover tanks that had joined the fray, to be destroyed by an ACU’s ordinary shot.
Those few UEF tanks and three command units wouldn’t be enough on their own though, so the commanders ignored the anti-air vehicles, which calmly moved forward, to create a perimeter around them as if they were protecting one of their own at all costs.
Selene reacted accordingly and she ordered the air transport to drop the shield generators before they got too close, but that wasn’t the worst problem the Seraphim’s odd defences had created.
Out of nowhere, five tier one transports from alien origin arrived and they were about to drop forty artillery units among the commanders.
Leython, Josh and Shilon turned their attention to the closest three, picked their target and fired an overloaded shot. Leython remembered the effects on a heavily damaged experimental bomber: one shot like this tore it apart with ease, so the effects on a minor transport, even though it was much stronger than the UEF version, would be satisfying.
As he expected, he now had to care about sixteen hover units instead of forty. The two last transports couldn’t be stopped but as soon as one of them touched down, it exploded in an instant. The shot came from an ACU standing incredibly far away.
“I have arrived just in time, it seems.” Said Marisa with a serene smile on her face. The enemy she targeted was too far for her ACU’s effective range, even with the upgrade she had constructed on its arm, but her knowledge in The Way with her incredible experience with her machine had allowed her to perform extraordinarily.
“Time to wrap this up.” Said Leython and he targeted one of the eight artillery that was still intact. It was gone two seconds later, along with two others. Marisa had turned her attention to the anti-air units.
Five UEF fragmentation artillery would pose little to no threat to an ACU, due to the low rate of fire that made the shots easily avoidable. The Seraphim equivalent was different though.
Nicknamed Fobo, both for the fact that they were floating Lobo artillery and because of the fear they spread amongst the coalition commanders, these weapons did a little bit less damage per shot but had a much higher rate of fire in combination with a firing randomness that was exactly right for a pilot to make a bad guess as to plot a new course. It had served its name well.
As it turned out, the eight that had been destroyed in less time than for a man to think of the reason for a nickname, didn’t do any harm at all. While the pilots destroyed the artillery, they moved towards these units and away from the tanks, to join Marisa. A new series of overloaded shots tore holes in the frontline moments later and the advantage was back in the hands of the coalition pilots.
Shield generators had finally arrived to take the beating that would certainly come again. Selene had sent a new batch already, strengthening the coalition forces in the heart of the firestorm.
Meanwhile, Selene’s tactical missiles continuously hit their targets. The Seraphim had sent engineers to reclaim the bases of the three Order pilots who had survived the longest, but the Aeon templar had given them no chance to do so. One fell after another and after all construction units had been destroyed, the missile silos turned their attention to the wreckage itself. Strong tier two factories housed a large amount of valuable resources, resources the coalition could never get their hands on.
The only two that were left in their base, were captain Lancet and templar Elenes. They rushed on with their economy, to produce as many tier three units as soon as possible, while they also prepared their own command units with the powerful enhancements they had available.
“Leython, we are going to lose the battle here anyway, we will be pushed into the city. Can we drain the city’s power grid for our own energy? It would be useless to construct a shield generator if we cannot power it.”
“No problem, just do it. The city’s power grid will be all ours when we have to retreat.” Answered Leython quickly while he planted another overcharged bolt into the mass of tanks. While those exploded, three additional air scouts flew by to assess the remainder of the Seraphim’s strike force.
“It’s endless!” He said after a few seconds. “Even the Seraphim can’t construct so many tanks in so little time with only five bases.” The air scouts continued to the base they had just destroyed, at the cost of their entire strike force. Leython saw a fully reconstructed base, with the first tech two land factory.
He immediately sent the three planes in three separate directions, but one was already damaged and a group of interceptors had suddenly appeared.
“I’m at tech three now.” Said Jeff before Leython could say they were going to have to hurry up. “Thanks for the support, I’m fortifying my front line so you can upgrade your ACUs.”
“Reinforcements have arrived. They are close to the city, so they will hook into that power grid for a jumpstart in their economy.” Said Marisa while she targeted a new Seraphim transport, tier two this time. “They are too fast, is this a new upgrade in their arsenal?” She asked at the moment the transport was torn in pieces.
“No, QAI is involved. He gated in at the same moment as the five order forces to conceal the quantum wake and while we were concentrating on them, the other ACUs could work unnoticed. It explains why those order pilots carefully took out one air scout after another, but weren’t fit for a simple battle.”
“So what do we do now?”
“Jeff, Selene, you will fortify the front line and prepare a proper economy while Shilon will continue with bombers. I’ll pay my attention to fighters and additional economy. Josh, air transports and economy. Marisa, oblivion cannons.”
Everyone knew that the Seraphim units, especially their fighters and bombers, still had a powerful advantage and that six aliens could outnumber Shilon and Leython with ease if it came down to raw numbers. However, Leython had still not drained his tactical plans and he might be able to keep up to six air armadas busy with just a few fighters and bombers.
“Jeff, Selene, you’ll also have to build tier three land units, mobile shield generators and flak tanks. We’re going to be forced into the city and we need units to stay alive. You’ll have the toughest job now, I’ll need you to help the others with economy as well.”
The task didn’t daunt either of them and Jeff even seemed delighted to work on it. Many of the tanks the four at the front destroyed, could safely be reclaimed. Even though they were outnumbered, the commanders could make a step forward every ten seconds. A large part of the junk was already secured and UEF engineers were now reclaiming one unit after another.
Forty minutes later, the sun had risen but looking down from one of the many passage ways high in the city barely gave anything but fog.
The battlefield had radically changed, faster than Leython had seen any time before. He counted himself lucky that this was the first time he faced multiple Seraphim commanders with a strong economy. Their initial bases were gone after twenty minutes, which would take more than an hour to do during the Infinite War.
While the coalition regrouped in the massive city, the Seraphim did the same at the edge. The central pathways were the most important and because of that, they were protected by one of the best commanders.
Leython’s team was far away from the city’s centre, preparing a distraction in order to get as many of the Seraphim tanks and assault bots away from where the aliens actually wanted them.
It did work, but it had a drawback. The team of six had been able to construct a small strike force to dig in, trap the enemy and hold out for as long as possible, but they couldn’t endlessly hold against the enemy. The reality was even harsher, their problems started before they retreated.
Selene had been trapped in her base due to the sudden rush from the Seraphim. Air superiority fighters had appeared out of nowhere and transported tier two assault bots were about to follow. Selene had nowhere to go and she immediately responded, swapping her advanced shield generator for a teleporting module. Unfortunately it meant that she lost three quarters of her ACUs possible protection.
To make up for it, she chose to ditch the enhanced quantum disruptor upgrade, halving her effective firing range. In return, she now had a tier three upgrade which came the ability to construct defence towers and additional strength.
Building oblivion cannons in the middle of the pathways hundreds of metres above the ground gave the team an edge, but it wasn’t nearly enough because they were low on their mass income. The only advantage they had with the city was that the alien most powerful air unit, the experimental bomber, was almost useless.
The assault bots did not meet such restrictions though and seven groups of eight were now closing in on Leython and Josh, both were standing at a cross junction six hundred metres above the ground, their only safe way of retreat was south of them. With their own combat upgrades still available, both commanders fired two overcharged bolts directly ahead and they destroyed one group before the bots could fire.
Leython’s ACU turned to the right and activated its microwave laser. The units were destroyed within twenty seconds without returning fire since they couldn’t detect the cloaked ACU. Josh had retreated after he fired his shot, with the only purpose that the Seraphim assault units followed him.
Both ACUs fired another overcharged shot to their north, ending another group’s existence and leaving only three squads alive. The remaining tier two assault bots didn’t pose a threat anymore, but a substitute closed in already.
“Josh, you still have time to move to the west.” Said Leython. “If we make it to the city’s centre, we might be able to assist there.”
“Roger that. Just destroy all bots and keep the commander busy.”
“He’ll be too late.” Replied Leython calmly and the microwave laser fired again, decimating the last of the Seraphim units within moments, before he followed Josh in his footsteps, unnoticed by the Serahpim.
A couple of blocks to the south, the other four did the same and they were about to cross the same street shortly after each other, while they were separated by only a few blocks. They moved with their own groups of units, or what was left of it from the past battles. Marisa was the first one to cross one of the many deserted roads.
“Enemy bomber incoming.” She said and she turned her ACU’s gun towards it. “It is heading for me and I cannot make it across the road in time.”
Before she was able to say all of it, Josh fired an overcharged shot in the experimental plane’s hull at the moment that it passed the last obstructing building. Leython fired at same moment and his shot hit the bomber a millisecond later. Two brilliant flashes lit up the entire plane’s hull and it destabilized for a moment, but it didn’t crash.
Moments later, Shilon added another shot, but the Seraphim only saw a sudden bolt surging for the bomber without noticing where it came from. Selene and Jeff used their overcharge ability as well and a total of three consecutive blasts did its fair share of damage. The bomber destabilized again as it lost several chunks of its sleek wings. The powerful engine lost a portion of its power and caused the experimental weapon to slow down.
Marisa had continued down the road and at the moment she had almost crossed the junction, she turned her ACU around, aimed at the bomber’s nose and fired an overloaded shot. The sixth was too much for the unit: a gigantic green flash surged through the middle of the bomber and tore it in two perfect pieces.
One part crashed through the passageway and into the city’s depths. The other met its end in one of the gigantic skyscrapers and exploded. The tower ignited in an instant.
“That’s one enemy down.” Said Leython to his team members before he contacted HQ. “Command, we’re moving to the centre, our diversion isn’t working anymore. We’re losing so many units to the Seraphim that they don’t think we need much more attention than one commander.”
“Hurry up then, things are looking risky downtown.” Answered the officer and the team had finally been given access to the status of the centre and they immediately understood how serious the situation was and why they had to pick up the pace.
Three air transports dropped a full load of tier two assault bots and a fourth one had already left. It’s package, six bots and three Fobos, was moving in on the spaceship that was supposed to be protected. Three quick shots destroyed two hovering artillery and one assault unit. They came from an ACU that rushed to meet the enemy and protect the ship that was still between the two groups. Six Titan assault bots followed her in her footsteps but those were not good enough against the sheer power that still awaited on the other side of the crossroad.
“Multiple hostiles closing in on this location!” Said Samantha Clarke, the general who was at the head of the small UEF strike force. “Get that ship out of here.”
“Engines coming online, just need a couple of more minutes.” Replied the ship’s pilot calmly.
The ships engines fired up and the craft itself was released from its dock but it didn’t leave yet. Clarke didn’t hesitate for a moment and she sent the Titans forward while she opened fire again, destroying the last artillery unit and several assault bots.
The first Titans used their weapons too and scored their share of kills before they suffered the first casualties to their enemy equivalents. For the general it meant that she had lost a third of her units.
Static on the audio feed took the General’s words away for a moment but it was obvious that she demanded reinforcements.
Without knowing it, Dostya had already obliged but it was not until now that she had made it close enough to the cross junction. A few shots relieved the Titans for a moment.
While Dostya and Clarke were frantically trying to hold the Seraphim at their front, they didn’t have time to take a look at what was coming from behind. Leython wanted to warn them, but he was suddenly caught off guard by the units that were threatening some of his own team members.
“Selene, Jeff! Units are heading your way.” The two commanders looked around immediately, they had both taken separate ways after they helped to take care of the enemy bomber. Jeff could escape because he had some units left to fight with and he was close to Shilon. Selene was not so fortunate but she had a plan.
“HQ, what region of this planet is still free from the Seraphim but abundant in resources? I still have a teleportation device on my unit and that is my only chance.” She said before she fired a shot at a lone unit that prowled too close.
“We’re giving you some coordinates. We are absolutely certain that the Seraphim are not there, they seemed to have come for this city alone. Good luck.” The energy supply instantly failed for several blocks around Selene’s ACU as she drained a major portion of the city’s power grid. It took her ten seconds to disappear and leave a disappointed Seraphim pilot with a legion of units at the wrong location.
“We’ll worry about her later. How are Clarke and Dostya?” Asked Leython as he rushed further towards the spaceship. At the moment he turned back to the screen that forwarded the situation, he saw that everything went wrong.
An overcharged bolt from a Seraphim ACU pierced through the spacecraft’s hull and it caused a chain reaction. Fire burst from one side over the full length of the ship as it crashed downward in the foggy depths of the city. Dostya had left a few moments earlier and all Titans were destroyed.
Clarke’s ACU was the only thing left and that made it the direct target of the relentless assault bots. Static returned into the life feed and Leython couldn’t hear whether the general was frantically requesting to be recalled or if she informed Coalition HQ that her ability to be gated away from Capella was blocked.
The Seraphim ACU that had fired an overloaded shot at the spacecraft now turned its weapon at its UEF equivalent and fired. The overcharged bolt hit the command unit straight in its chest, causing it to explode in an instant.
A few seconds later but light-years away, general Hall made another note in the HQ’s logbook.
“X-day+716: General Samantha Clarke is killed in battle.”