[su_accordion] World Seed Chapter 175[/su_accordion]
This time, while we were traveling to our new destination, I could not afford to be busy. We now had information regarding their ships’ capabilities, so it was possible to form simulations for battle. That’s what I planned to do, run over various simulations so that we had a solid plan in mind before we arrived.
Participating in this simulation was Celeste, as well as the captains of the Qu’Lopti and Deus Ex fleets. Naturally, we weren’t able to include the two that were still behind at the previous base, but all of the other ships had linked simulation chairs installed so that we could do practice runs like this. While I had been in these simulation chairs before, it was mostly for brief breaks, or to practice a new ability. I had never done anything of this scale before.
“So, any suggestions for the settings?” I asked, my body appearing as suspended in a black void. Around me were the several other participants, all in similar conditions. Only the Qu’Lopti did not seem to be taking this seriously, floating around and doing flips while the rest of us considered.
It was one of the Deus Ex captains that spoke up. I really couldn’t tell you which one, because they have identical body frames and voices. Sounds really racist, I know, but it’s true! They all look the exact same! “We should begin with two ships of a similar configuration as what we faced at the most recent outpost, with the planet providing no aid to either party, and then increase the difficulty as we find appropriate countermeasures.”
Celeste nodded at that suggestion. “We should also give ourselves a time limit. We have to perform an investigation on the surface of this planet after the fight, so the battle should last no longer than fifteen minutes. That way, they don’t have time to destroy whatever evidence we are looking for.”
Everyone nodded at that. Looking at the Qu’Lopti officers, I began giving out instructions. “Your first priority after we emerge from FTL is to form all but one of the Judgement Warriors, and the Executioner. The remaining Judgement ships should fan out, keep their shields and turrets busy while the other ships find their targets. All Judgement Warriors should spread themselves out and open fire with their railguns, while the Executioner prepares its full arsenal.”
I saw two of the Qu’Lopti captains grinning as they heard this, obviously enjoying these battle simulations. “For the Deus Ex… are you all able to command the missing ship for this simulation, until they arrive?” When they nodded their heads, I breathed out a sigh of relief. “Okay, then. Priority target for your fleet is the turrets of the assault ship. Judging by the last battle, they seem to get exponentially stronger the more of them stack for a single strike. Even removing one from the equation will be a big help.”
Finally, I turned to Celeste. “You’ll be in command of the Ariadne for the first few simulations. Use the information you gathered from the last encounter to probe their defenses, find a way to breach them. Otherwise, use your best judgement to choose your targets, but try to disable their warp gate early on if you can.”
Celeste crossed her arms in front of her and raised an eyebrow, an amused smirk on her face. “And what will you be doing, then?”
“I’m going to see what happens when an overpowered ant punches an elephant.” I knew that I probably couldn’t make much difference by myself, but I wanted to do this for two reasons. One was to see their capabilities firsthand, when I’m not distracted by a warp gate. The other was because I had very little experience commanding a space fleet during an actual battle. Before I tried to do so, I wanted to watch how Celeste did it a few times first.
Celeste, likely plucking these thoughts from my mind, nodded her head. “Alright, let’s put on a show for you, then. Since we’re removing the planet from the equation, setting it as a barren rock of roughly the same size as Earth.”
Once she was done applying all the different settings to the simulation, we were diving right in. I saw the many different ship from the side labeled Sons of Chaos drop out of FTL, immediately regretting that I allowed that name to last this long. Thankfully, they all began executing the plan as soon as the simulation began.
For the purpose of this simulation, I was spawned just on top of the Ariadne, already in my full combat form. Thanks to the abilities I had acquired, I no longer needed to fear the exotic energies from subspace, and could be prepared to launch the moment we dropped out. There was actually an even more powerful ability I had at my disposal for space battles, and this was the perfect chance to try it out.
Jumping off of the Ariadne, I set my course to take me in the direction of the two New Human Empire ships. They appeared in exactly the same configuration as before, with the warp gate some distance behind them. Shortly after jumping off the Ariadne, just as the Qu’Lopti mechs were getting prepared, I vanished from the battlefield, a rip in space leading to a purple void appearing momentarily in my place.
This was the other ability I had gotten from the space dragon, the ability to traverse between normal space and subspace. For a few brief moments, I was surrounded by a myriad of black and purple energies, each of which felt like they were bombarding me from all sides, kept at bay only by the shielding ability of that same dragon. I moved forward less than half a kilometer before using the ability again, reappearing in normal space.
When I re-emerged, I was actually behind the New Human Empire ships, having gone a bit too far in my estimations. Still, I was fairly close, closer than any of the Judgement ships that were buzzing around as distractions. And what would you do if an enemy just appeared behind you at the start of a battle? Naturally, one of the turrets flew to aim at me, but this time I was more prepared.
Flying forward, I shielded my figure with my large wings, since I did not need them for flight in space. I filled them with my Mana Leech ability, and attuned myself to the light element. By temporarily sacrificing all of my other affinities, even if I didn’t reach 100%, I should have at least 95%. Knowing that, I should be able to resist a pure light attack like this without difficulty.
Sure enough, I felt a blast of heat on my wings a few moments later. Although it was still painful, it was not to a degree that I was in danger of a quick death. If I had to estimate, I could likely handle a blast from two turrets like this, using my regeneration power to sustain me. If I tried to tank three, I would die before the blast ended. Any more would be an instant defeat.
After five seconds of sustained laser fire, the heat from my wings faded away. Two small holes had been burnt through, but it was not significant enough damage for me to waste one of my full heals. Instead, I cast a standard healing spell on myself while continuing to fly closer to the assault ship.
I could see the rain of weapons fire surrounding the two ships, causing the hexagonal shields to go into overdrive to protect both ships. This is where the other weakness of those shields becomes apparent, as quick attacks such as railgun rounds tend to arrive before the shield finishes forming. However, that only made them targets for the assault turrets. Aside from the one trained on me, and one other that came to assist it, the rest were targeting the Qu’Lopti Judgement Warriors.
Thankfully, the specialty of those mechs happened to be melee, rather than ranged. That meant that their movement abilities were high enough to avoid a lock by simply flying around in random patterns, only occasionally firing a shot. Sadly, their railgun fire did not do much damage to either ship, despite being able to pass through the shield before it forms.
Soon, just before I was at the assault ship, the two layered turrets fired at me. Well, more accurately, the one in the back fired into the other one, which somehow amplified its power to attack me. I still chose to block in the same manner as I had before, though this time I tapped into the power of the black hole within my grove to aid me in absorbing the lasers.
Unlike before, I barely felt the heat from the lasers, as much of the energy was absorbed before it could reach me. I also did not have to continue for the entire five seconds, because I flew through the turrets. Yes, through them. They were in front of me, and it was quicker than going around. Thankfully, there was that great big hole in the center of each turret that they fired from. I felt an uncomfortable energy wash over me, before I was on the other side.
Now, there was nothing standing between me and the silver metal of the enemy ship. Now… Let’s go punch an elephant. I clenched my fist, cancelling out my attunement and drawing on the mana from my grove. My fist gave off a faint shine as I filled it with metal mana, then slammed it against the hull of the ship.
Unsurprisingly, my fist was not more powerful than a railgun blast from one of the Judgement Warriors. However, I did not despair quite yet. Instead, I reached out my mana senses and began constructing a second body, this one made almost entirely of metal mana. Compared to my combat form, this body was roughly three times as large, looking like a silver angel.
When I had this second body punch, there was a visible dent on the surface, and sparks flying everywhere. Seeing that, I couldn’t help but grin, having the silver angel’s fist turn into a long blade to strike again. However, before it could make contact, I found myself floating just outside the airlock of the Ariadne again, my connection with the construct severed. What happened? I asked in my head as I turned to look at the battle.
In the distance, I saw the warp gate flickering on and off, as if it had been short-circuited. More importantly, one of the metal rings wrapping around the white hole of the assault ship had been shattered. The white field of energy at its center trembled, convulsing for several seconds before a second field of energy spread out to encompass the ship. A blinding white light erupted from the center of the ship, like a small sun, and when it faded away there was not a single trace of the assault ship remaining.
“We were dealing the finishing blow, so had to pull the ant back home.” Celeste said in a teasing voice. “Looks like we have a solid plan for dealing with this setup. As long as they don’t focus on one of our larger ships with three or more turrets, we can defeat a single pair. Shall we up the difficulty, then?”
I nodded, and we all appeared in the same vacant lobby space as before. “This time, let’s make it two assault ships, with a single shield ship.” One of the Qu’Lopti officers suggested, I believe the one in charge of the Executioner. “We already have trouble with a single shield ship unless we spread out our attacks to make them use up more energy, but it’s manageable. A second shield ship would take a lot longer to get used to than a second turret ship.”
The Deus Ex captains nodded, one of them speaking up. “This is acceptable.”
With that, we went in to run another scenario. This time… it was a crushing defeat. It wasn’t simply that they doubled the number of targets that could be attacked. I didn’t dare to try to go out on my own again, because one ship was constantly committed to full attacks on a single target while the second chased the moving targets with its turrets.
After the first ten seconds, we lost the Ariadne. Then, every thirty seconds, another ship was destroyed. In the end, although the Qu’Lopti mechs managed to destroy the shield ship, there wasn’t enough backup for them to take out the assault ships. They could only wait to be killed.
How are we going to deal with that?