[su_accordion]Chapter 171: The Siege[/su_accordion]
Author’s Corner: Distractions are an author’s greatest weakness.
“Ready to go?” I called out over the comms, sitting in my captain’s chair. The away teams had been prepared, with several teams set up to look at the base below. After dealing with the New Human Empire ships, it became an easy matter for the Qu’Lopti fleet to take out the rest of the hologram projectors. Most of them had even been destroyed with the detonation of the warp gate.
The first team was to be led by Sharon, consisting of herself, Yin, Celeste, Yo, and Priscilla. Although I wasn’t there to contribute, Priscilla was able to fill in as a team healer. Next, five minutes after they teleport in and determine the situation, the second team will be sent. This team consists of Nathan, Amy, Clara, Sam, and Brian, with Nathan in command.
Finally, after they go down, five minutes later the final team will be sent. This team has Ackbar, Kismet, Aelsgwynn, Demona, and… my parents, with Ackbar as the leader of this group. Tessa and Tokemi both tried to insist that they could participate as well, but I had to draw the line somewhere.
Anyways, aside from those three teams, two of the Judgement mechs were going down for artillery support, to make sure that the site wasn’t bombed. From the reports, there was a large facility on this world, as well as scattered outposts. However, there was nothing to signify that a civilization existed on this world.
As a compromise with Celeste, I would be watching the engagement through her eyes again. This way, I wouldn’t have to just wait and read about it through a report later. Otherwise, clone or no, I would charge down there with them. While my body might be vulnerable to giant spaceship turrets, I am fairly confident in my ability to handle attacks planetside.
Closing my eyes, I allowed Celeste to ‘send’ me her sight. Currently, they were still in the teleport bay, and Sharon was just beginning to issue orders. This would be the first combat operation any of them have been in since we left the Qu’Lopti world, so they were fully suited up in their customized armors.
“Celeste, you’ll be in charge of scouting the area once we’re down.” Sharon looked towards me– well, towards Celeste who I was watching from– and spoke while adjusting her leather gloves. “Once you have a map of the area, we’ll begin moving. I can’t bring out any of my companions from my grove, so if we run into trouble, I’ll be counting on you, Priscilla.”
The rabbit girl nodded energetically. “Leave it to me, Mistress!” She said with a wide smile, giving an exaggerated thumbs up.
Sharon nodded and looked towards Yin. “You’ll be in the back of the group. Use your telekinesis and magic for crowd control.” Finally, she turned to Yo. “As for you, you’ll be with me in the front. Everyone clear on their roles?”
When everyone nodded, Sharon gave the order to teleport them down to the planet. The facility itself was shielded, so they couldn’t go there directly. Instead, they appeared roughly a hundred meters away, near a wide river. In between them and the facility was a large, reinforced wall.
After Sharon gave Celeste the signal, she closed her eyes and focused. “Sorry, John.” She sent me mentally. “Your mind isn’t able to handle this many signals at once, so I’ll keep it easy for you.”
I knew what she was about to do, so I wasn’t surprised when I suddenly had an aerial view of the area. It wasn’t that Celeste had opened her eyes, rather she was no longer anywhere to be found around the group. She had activated her unique skill, which she trained for over five years now.
Reality Break: Limitless Silver Sand. Although I didn’t really approve of her name for the skill, it was incredibly useful. Using this power, she was able to deconstruct her body into a cloud of sand, and reshape it however she wanted. Currently, she seemed to be dispersing it into the air, using each tiny part of herself as a scouting drone.
I could see specks of silver sand floating past the wall, and into the air vents. From there, she let it spread out further and further. Roughly five minutes later, after using almost all of her mana to maintain the cloud form, her body pieced itself back together next to the other girls. “I didn’t manage to get everywhere in time, but I’ll be good to go in a second. Also, security seems to be on its way.”
“Humans?” Sharon asked, though she found the alternative unlikely, judging by her voice.
“Mostly.” Celeste nodded. “The humans seem to be the upper echelons of the facility, but there was another race here as well. One I don’t have in my records.” Closing her eyes again, she reactivated her skill to change her shape into the form of the second alien race we had seen upon her scouting.
This was a tall, green race, looking almost like orcs. The main difference was that they had four arms, instead of the normal two, and a sharp horn on their forehead. “The humans are armed with energy rifles, while the other race carries four short swords. The humans also have a type of battle armor, while the other one does not.”
I couldn’t help but shake my head, and it seemed like Sharon was no different. “So, they’re being used as cannon fodder.” At this time, five more beams of light descended, marking the arrival of the second team. And with them, the massive mech also came into view from above. “Listen up, guys. We’ve got incoming. Energy rifles and standard swords, from the descriptions.”
Nathan nodded, pulling a stack of talismans from his inventory. “Leave them to us. If it’s not some terrifying monster heading our way, we can take it.” I chuckled at that, remembering their original fight with the boss monster on Hydra.
Sharon smiled. “Take it easy, you guys.” Then, she turned to Priscilla. “Think you can hide us until we get in?”
Priscilla nodded with a grin. “Easily.” Her eyes began to glow a bright white, and I watched as they disappeared from view, one by one. “Let’s go!” She called out, excitedly, and I could see dust clouds rising up from the ground as she sprinted towards the wall. Celeste followed shortly after, and I could only assume that the others did as well.
The reinforced wall was really no problem for them to get around. Everyone in the group had either some kind of flight ability… or was a rabbit. Although I couldn’t see her, I knew that Priscilla had simply managed to jump over the wall, likely carrying Sharon with her.
As Celeste flew above the wall, we were able to see at least two dozen people running towards it. Among them, five were human, while the others were all those strange four-armed orcs. Rather than leaving the wall or scaling it, they took up defensive positions, as if assuming the wall would be scaled or breached. Why build a defensive wall like that in the first place if you know it won’t help? I couldn’t help but ask myself.
Celeste sent me an answer mentally. “Maybe the wall is just to ward off normal monsters?”
I couldn’t argue that thought, so simply waited until the group arrived at the door the security team had come through. Naturally, it had closed behind them, but that did not mean much to this group. They stood there, waiting for their chance, and it soon came.
From the wall that they had just scaled over, there was the sound of a large explosion. Celeste glanced back, and we saw that a section of the wall had collapsed. At the same time, one of the humans aimed their guns. “Fire!” He shouted, and all five energy rifles shot towards the cloud of dust and smoke.
After their first volley ended, they ordered the grunts to charge in. But, this was the chance that Celeste had been waiting for. With them distracted by the battle, she was able to hack the door. No, she did not connect and override the controls. Instead, she turned her arms into long, thin swords, and actually hacked the wall to pieces.
“There is a security checkpoint on the other side of this door we’ll have to take out. After that, a corridor with a single turret concealed in the ceiling.” Celeste instructed, as Sharon and Yo walked into the checkpoint.
I had expected there to be some hesitation from Sharon towards killing other humans, but she once again showed me her brutal side. As soon as the guard saw us walk in, he shot to his feet to trigger the alarm. Before Yo could even take action, Sharon had pointed her fist at him, and a long metal blade rapidly extended.
When she retracted the blade back into her glove, the end was covered in blood. A moment later, the guard fell to the ground, coughing and choking on blood from the new hole in his neck. Against my expectations, Sharon did not even flinch when she killed him, simply walking towards the next door. “Yo, get ready for the turret.” She said as she crouched down, assuming a fighting stance.
Both of Sharon’s fists became covered in metal, and she punched forward with enough force to rip the door out of its frame and send it tumbling a few feet down the hall. At that time, red lights began flashing throughout the base, likely alerting anyone that remains of the approaching danger. A circular section of the ceiling in the corridor ahead of them dropped down, revealing a turret with two gun barrels.
Yo, having been assigned this job, ran forward, forming her left hand into a shield. Crackling white light shot out from both barrels of the turret, impacting against the slime shield. However, she must have granted it properties of a fairly resistant material, because it held firm. Once she was within five meters of the turret, she extended her right hand, forming it into her spear. The spear extended outwards, piercing straight through the turret, which let out a shower of sparks and a whine of machinery failing.
“Let’s move.” Sharon said coldly, walking up to the next door. I managed to spot some silver dust floating into the air vents, and assumed that Celeste converted a small part of herself to the cloud again in order to scout.
After triggering the alarm, all of the doors were now locked. However, they were not as heavily reinforced as those at the security checkpoint, so it was easy for the team to get through them. After Sharon punched down the next door, there was a blast of energy, and she was sent flying back a few feet. On the other side of the door were two security officers, each aiming energy rifles at the group. “Identify yourselves!” They shouted, priming their weapons again.
“Mistress!” Priscilla cried out, appearing almost instantly next to the downed Sharon. Thanks to her armor, the wounds were not severe, but Priscilla immediately began treatment anyways. Meanwhile, Yo walked up to the doorway, grimacing at the pair of officers.
“That was a mistake.” She said, her voice darker than I had ever heard it. Ripples began forming along her skin, likely some imperceptible shift she performed.
“Grunts, charge!” One of the officers shouted out, and six of the green aliens burst into the hall, brandishing their swords.
Yo didn’t seem to pay any attention to them, simply running forward towards the two with rifles. However, no matter how close she got to the unfamiliar aliens, they were unable to hit them. Each that tried would have its swords stop in midair, before their bodies were thrown back to slam against the wall. Although Celeste wasn’t looking in that direction, I knew it had to be the result of Yin’s telekinesis.
When Yo arrived in front of the two officers, who were by this point panicking and waiting for their rifles to recharge, she shoved her hands through both of their chests. I saw as blood spewed out of their bodies like a bad special effect in an action movie, before they collapsed to the ground. It was at this point that my viewpoint shifted to focus on the six aliens.
Celeste held up her hands, inside each of which was a small plasma pistol, and began mowing down the immobilized enemies. With everyone taken care of, Yo raced back towards Priscilla and Sharon, dropping down to her knees to look at the wound on the latter’s chest. “Is she okay?” Yo asked, her voice filled with concern. Soon, I saw Yin walk into view as well, standing over Priscilla and the others and looking down at Sharon.
Priscilla nodded, a gentle smile on her face. “She’s fine. Just give her a minute for the natural healing process to pick up, and we can get moving again. Go stand guard, make sure we’re not ambushed.”
Yo nodded her head, immediately returning to the doorway. Looking down at one of the bodies, she picked it up and tossed it back into the hall. “Celeste, think you can work with that?”
Celeste seemed to understand her meaning, looking down to the body. “It’s still intact enough, and there hasn’t been enough time for the soul to dissipate. It will work.” She extended one hand towards the body, before her viewpoint seemed to shake slightly. No doubt she was ripping the man’s soul out to look through his memories, but I couldn’t use my sensory abilities to verify. And, since Celeste wasn’t sharing those memories with me, I didn’t know what she found.
“Well… this is interesting.” She spoke after a few moments, and I could feel a smile forming on her lips.