[su_accordion] World Seed Chapter 176[/su_accordion]
For the next three days, we were almost constantly in training simulations. It took us fifteen attempts before we were able to take out a pair of assault ships guarded by a single shield ship. Next was one assault ship guarded by two shield ships, another pain. For that fight, I had to actually get into the midst of it myself and let Celeste go back to commanding. On the bright side, we learned that if I burn a couple of stars for their energy, I can blast through one of the assault ships. Sadly, handling that much power also ripped my body to shreds, but it was a work in progress.
After that, we did two pairs of enemy ships, followed by various circumstances where the planet would be able to help them, or a nearby starbase. Though, the starbase was a conceptual design that Celeste and the Deus Ex captains created based on the white hole technologies the New Human Empire seemed to be employing.
Anyways, by the end of the three days, we were confident that we had plans to win against up to four of their ships in any configuration. Any more and we’d likely suffer heavy losses. One the fourth day, the final Deus Ex ship managed to catch up with us.
For now, I was sharing the tactical information with the relevant crew members, that way we would be prepared to act at a moment’s notice. Of course, I doubted the strategies were foolproof, and knew that the enemy would eventually adapt to them. Right now, I was relying on the hopes that we knew more about their fleets than they did about ours.
Sadly, no amount of simulations could prepare me for what was on this planet we were heading to. Malthan was being completely unhelpful in that regard, which was understandable. I mean, he offered me a quest to investigate. Why would he do that, and then just tell me the answer?
Sharon, sitting with me and the senior officers in charge of the Ariadne, looked at me strangely as I was briefing them on the strategies. “John…?”
“Yes? Is there a problem with the plan?” I asked, looking curiously to her.
“Yes, yes there is. Why is it that every plan you have mentioned so far with at least four enemy ships requires you detonating your body to take one out?” Okay… that is a very good question, and an even better concern for a wife to have for her husband!
“Well… we don’t exactly have the firepower to take on a fourth ship with just what we have. And, since I’m the only one able to bring out so much explosive power, it makes sense for me to do it. I mean, it’s not like I’ll be going in my main body or anything, and we actually have extra clones this time.”
Sharon gave me a questioning look, as if she still didn’t think that was a good enough explanation. It’s the best I have, though! If we had more powerful ships, then this would be easy to solve! Sharon turned to look at Celeste. “Is there any way we can bounce their attacks back at them? I mean, their laser weapons should be more than enough to break through those shields. Especially if they are stacked a few times.”
Celeste helplessly shook her head. “We tried reconfiguring our shields to various wavelengths. We found what should be the optimum setting to deflect the damage from their attacks, but it won’t let us send it back at them. For that, we would need a special device, either opening a portal to have their attack redirected, or create a giant mirror in space. Problem is, the laser is too powerful, so any mirror, whether magical or technological, would be blasted apart. As for the portal, that would need some work.”
Sharon glanced at me at the mention of portals, and I had to shake my head as well. “With how much energy those lasers contain, I don’t think I’d last half a second redirecting them without my brain turning to mush.”
She let out a resigned sigh, nodding her head in acceptance. “Fine, but I still don’t like that plan.”
I chuckled slightly. “If you can come up with something that does not require me to become a living bomb, please, I beg of you to tell us. You have no idea how uncomfortable that is.” She cracked a small smile at that, so I guessed my joke got through.
“Huh…” She suddenly lifted her head up. “What if you tried to use your black hole to absorb the energy from their white hole? From what you said the last time that you absorbed a lot of energy, your grove got closer to evolving. Would a white hole be able to give it that extra push?”
I felt a cold sweat pour down my back as I considered that. “Please spare me from that. I want to destroy one ship, not the solar system. You saw how intense the absorption process was when I upgraded earlier. I can only imagine that upgrading to the universe stage would be thousands of times worse. Remember, we still need that planet in one piece.”
Sharon opened her mouth, as if preparing to speak, but realized she had nothing to counter that with. “Okay, point. Still kind of want you to hurry up and evolve it, though. My grove finished getting pulled through to your black hole last night.” She crossed her arms and puffed out her cheeks to pout, and I could only blink in surprise. I hadn’t noticed when her grove was affected by the black hole.
It was still nearly four months until my own grove was fully pulled in, but maybe with hers lacking the gravity element, it was easier to grab. “Sorry… I didn’t know. Well, we’ll save that tactic for a ‘plan B’ if we need it in the future when we aren’t trying to keep the surroundings intact.”
She nodded slightly at that. Honestly, I was still wondering what would happen with her grove when mine went to the next stage. Malthan wouldn’t tell me anything about it, except that she wouldn’t be hurt, which was at least reassuring to know.
After the meeting was over, people went back to their respective posts. We were still nearly a week out from the battle, so it’s not like it had been an emergency meeting. If we had spent all ten days in the simulations just to figure out the various combinations that could be defending one planet, we’d be in way more trouble.
As I got back to my room, I discovered that the door was already open. Inside, Tokemi was laying on my bed, on her stomach with her legs kicking back and forth while she read a book. Once she saw I had entered the room, she set the book down and smiled at me. “Hey dad! How’d the meeting go?”
Okay, so I was surprised to find her waiting for me in my room. Glancing back at the door that was still open, I cast my mana senses out towards it. Yup, frozen. Tokemi must have been pretty irritated if she froze the door open with time mana, and left it that way. I shook my head with a bitter smile as I walked towards her. “It went alright, I guess. I take it you wanted to see me?”
She made a large nodding motion with her head. “Yeah! I hardly ever get to see you since we left Qu’Lesh!” She laid down flat on the bed, arms and legs sprawled out. “So, tonight I’m making sure that changes!”
I blinked, confused by her meaning. “And you’re going to do that by….?”
“Yahtzee!” Tokemi held up her hands, and an old game box suddenly appeared in them. Furrowing her brows, the box quickly returned to mint condition. “Mom said I shouldn’t bother you too much the last few days, because you were busy with stuff, but she said you’re all done with that now!”
Tokemi had a happy smile on her face as she said that, so I couldn’t exactly turn her away. “Okay, okay. We’ve got some time now.” I sat down on the bed as Tokemi fished out the cups and dice, flipping the box over to use as a playing mat. “Neat trick with the door, by the way.” I nodded back towards the door, which was still stuck open.
Tokemi blinked, as if only just realizing that she had done that. “Oh, sorry. Wanted to make sure you knew I was in here.” She giggled lightly. A moment later, I heard the door to the room closing, evidently her power no longer affecting it.
“Ah… How good is your time control power now?” I asked curiously.
“Got my affinity up to 92% last week!” She declared proudly. I chuckled, remembering that my own hadn’t even hit 60% yet. Then again, she had a very big advantage when it came to this affinity.
“That so? How big of an area are you able to cover with it?” Time was a weird element to work with. From my practices, it generally did not matter what was in the field you affected, time influences everything equally. That’s also why it took so much work to increase the area I could affect with my time powers.
“Hmm… I never really tested.” She shrugged. “I can make time stop, or go way faster, though!” She grinned, tossing two dice into the air. The first one froze soon after it left her hand, but the other went up and back down faster than I could blink. “I think I’m getting the hang of rewinding, too… That one’s hard, though.”
Suddenly, I felt like she was half here to show off, and the thought made me laugh. Regardless, that power she displayed was certainly one with a terrifying potential. If she could really ‘stop’ time for a wide area, then the New Human Empire’s attacks would never even reach us. But, that would be asking her to cover kilometers with that power. If she had a full 100% affinity, she might be able to do that, but anything less made me doubtful.
Though, this opened up a new idea for how I could handle the fights. I hadn’t tried using my time control during the simulations, partly because I didn’t have enough practice with it for Celeste to properly simulate it.
In a somewhat better mood, I spent the next several hours playing games with Tokemi, who was only too happy to have the attention. I was still determined not to let her fight, but at least I knew that she had the power to protect herself if need be. Hell, she probably has more raw fighting power with her time control than almost anyone on this ship.
For the next several days, I began practicing my own ability to control time mana. With it being the only ‘absolute’ power I had, I knew that I needed far more training with it. Unfortunately, Tokemi is the only other person in the entire ship that practices this element, and she isn’t even that well informed about it. What could you expect, she’s not even ten years old yet. In my opinion, being as strong and smart as she is at this age is already monstrous.
On the tenth day, I found myself on the bridge, already plugged into a clone body. All of the senior officers from the briefing a week ago were at their stations, preparing for the inevitable fight. Celeste was standing next to me, ready to fill in in the event that a worst case scenario appeared and I had to leave the ship.
“Everyone, we are less than five minutes away from the New Human Empire’s AB7 base. Everyone should have been briefed on the various strategies to deal with this encounter. I don’t want anyone running off on their own. This one fight could change everything–”
“Captain.” The scanning officer interrupted me, which gave me a bad feeling.
“They appear to have an FTL jammer in the subspace around their world. We’ll have to drop out a short distance earlier than expected.” Nothing like a bucket of ice cold water to spill over my plans. Without the ability to jump to subspace and back, my plan for self-detonation did not have much merit.
“Slight change of plans. We’re dropping out in thirty seconds. Everyone set your shields to the indicated frequencies to minimize damage.” We might be able to destroy their FTL jammer, but doing so would open us up to an ambush with them knowing exactly where we’d drop out. It seemed a better idea to save what little surprise we could.
“Everyone, prepare to execute the plan in three, two, one… Begin.” I gave the signal for the Sons of Chaos to start their assault, all ships immediately dropping out of FTL to engage.