Wolf and the rest stood in awe. The AU’s fleet was all but destroyed. In her head, she was doing the math. I can’t just rush his position. That’s suicide! Our shield could never hope to counter such a thing. No matter how I approach this, there is no way around it! Just then, there was an alert.
“Ma’am, fighter units have just deployed from the remaining Imperial Fleet! They’re on an intercept course!”
Matthias looked to her. “What do you suggest?”
It was a trap. An obvious and devious trap that had one purpose – to draw her forces out. If they did nothing, they would be defenseless. The Empire’s airships were moving as well. If they went in, they’d be obliterated by the Fortress’ primary weapon. Adam’s forces were prepared to give their lives for this battle. They were ready to be killed for their Emperor.
Beneath her mask, Wolf gritted her teeth. “Send the Empire’s airships forward. Keep Winter’s Shadow in reserve. If you see any opportunity to use the Odysseus’ cannons, do so. He can’t have many rounds for a weapon that powerful. I refuse to believe it. If nothing else, we can draw this out and buy ourselves time.”
Matthias looked displeased. “We’re knowingly sending them to their deaths.”
Wolf nodded. “What else can we do? We shall honor those who fall in battle today, by making Adam pay for his reckless use of a weapon of mass destruction.”
No one looked happy, but they understood.
She got up, heading out. “I’m taking the WASP in to battle. I’ll do what I can to cleave through the Empire’s forces. Maybe we can keep our forces back. We don’t know what the firing radius of that thing is. Also, send all information we’ve got on it to the WASP. We’re joining the fight!”
Oracle was waiting inside when she arrived.
“We’re heading out. Not to the front, mind you. Not for long, anyway. Get us just outside the firing range of the approaching airships. I mean to keep them at a distance. They all know what the WASP is capable of, They’ll stay back.”
He nodded, powering it up. While he did that, Wolf brought up the data on the weapon. The weapon was not a torpedo or anything like that. It was some kind of container that had the explosive material inside. Best as she could tell, it was a kind of Nova Particle accelerate that would make the particles reverberate off one-another. The energy generated was massive. Once the pressure built up within the container, it would burst forth and then grow until the energy collapsed in on itself. An efficient weapon, and one which there was absolutely no way to counter. The port it came from appeared to be a rudimentary cannon, propelling the device forward. There seemed to be a roughly 20 second delay from the firing of the weapon to the explosion. Since there was no way to counter the weapon, her options were incredibly limited. That’s when an idea hit her.
“Don’t get us moving just yet! I have an idea.” She got up, running out on to the flight deck. There were several pilots moving down the runway.
“Pilots, may I have a moment?”
They all stopped and saluted.
“Of course, ma’am. What do you need?” one asked.
The section of her Armor where an eye was opened, with the eye glowing. “You all will fly on my wing and will follow any command I give you, understand?”
They all seemed confused for a second, then saluted. “Yes ma’am!”
“Excellent. Then get to your craft and form up behind me. I will be in the WASP.”
They ran to do as bidden. She got back onboard and they took off.
The sky outside was already a battlefield. Their ships were doing their best to keep the fighting to a safe distance from the bulk of the fleet. Most of these airships knew that they were going to their doom, but the stakes were bad. There were six fighter pilots who Wolf had taken control of. They formed up on the WASP and got into position. There was no point in dodging the battle. She meant to get into the thick of it.
Wolf set up a link to the fighters. “Alright, P-Group. You will hold on me unless otherwise directed, understood?”
“Excellent.” She set up a link to the rest of the fleet. “To those who can, clear the WASP’s firing lane.” Their ships moved fast to obey. They knew what was coming. Several fighters came at them, opening fire. Wolf was still the master of calibration for the shield, so they were no threat to them. Once preparations were complete, the jewel-shaped device went flying forward. She disabled just enough of the shield to send the silver beam into it. The beam was redirected in a hundred different ways. The ships from Adam’s fleet in the fray were cut to ribbons. The fighters were largely unscathed, but for those who were unlucky.
On the bridge of his ship, Adam smiled. So that’s how it is. Let’s see what good your shield does you now!
“Use the Device!”
“Yes, your highness!”
The bottom of the airship opened, with enough of the shield disengaging for the cannon to have room to fire. It send a warhead flying out.
Wolf moved fast. “P1, fly directly at the warhead!”
The man’s fighter jetting out like a flash. “Yes ma’am!”
“Your sacrifice will be remembered, soldier.”
“It is my pleasure, ma’am! Long live the Wolf!” The fighter bolted right past the falling and burning airships. Those that didn’t crash didn’t even have time to react.
Adam was confused. “What is that lunatic trying to pull?!”
The fighter collided with it a little bit back from Adam’s fleet. The device didn’t immediately explode.
Wolf smiled. I see. So the weapon isn’t armed until it launches. Impact doesn’t make this thing explode. I can exploit this!
The fighter was halfway to the Fortress before it went off. Another black sun, that grew and grew. It consumed a fair amount of Adam’s remaining forces, while theirs were unscathed.
Adam also smiled. Not bad. She’s a quick learner. “Send a third of the remaining forces! I don’t want her to gain ground!” If I can just keep them at bay, we can get in close enough to end this.
The sun collapsed, with the air being sucked in. Even the WASP was feeling it. Oracle growled as he stabilized the engine. One of their fighters lost control and got hit.
“Damn it all!” Wolf snarled. She looked and saw more of the hanging particles. They were thicker now. Not so thick as to be seen by the casual observer, but this growth was concerning. Adam’s fleet was moving forward again. Those who survived the blast were attacking. This battle was going nowhere fast.
“Prepare to fire again!” Adam shouted into the comm.
Riddler came on. “My lord, I don’t think that’s a good idea, to fire consecutively! Particle density is starting to become and issue.
He slammed his fist into his chair. “I gave you an order, now follow it!”
“Yes, your highness!”
He looked at the airship battle. This attrition was driving them into a stalemate.
Wolf brought the WASP’s main gun online. She let-fly, cutting another swathe through the enemy’s reinforcements.
“All ships, move forward! This battle isn’t over yet!”
Matthias smiled. About damn time! All this waiting and hiding shit was getting on my nerves.
“Split into two forces and use the mountains as your backing. Stay as far to the side of the main battle was possible!” It’s time to get Adam’s attention.
The device came online.
“Fire another round! I’m sure that she’ll have her people do another suicide run. It doesn’t matter. She only had four more with her. They had vastly more warheads.
The round went out.
“P2, block that warhead! Don’t let that Imperial dog have any inch of ground on us!”
“Yes ma’am!” The fighter went out like a bolt.
Adam looked up. “All crafts, bring that fighter down! Don’t let it interfere with our weapon’s power!” Every fighter and airship was firing, but Enigma and Brainiac’s designs held up. The engine was so fast that most couldn’t target, and the burst-shield was performing beautifully. The fighter made contact with the warhead. It went off at roughly the same place as the last one did. The black sun that it created was different. This one grew bigger. There were signs of instability along it. Like something was inside, trying to get out. It collapsed, with the segments of the fleet moving along the mountain being pulled.
Matthias kept his cool. “Increase power to the starboard-particle emitters! Push us away!” He was getting worried. Something everyone was noticing – there were little groupings of particles that seemed to be riding on the winds. Like a breeze they could see.
“What the hell is that?” one crewman asked.
Adam got to his feet. “Damn it all! I will not suffer her tricks any longer! Fire again! Then fire another one immediately after it collapses! Let’s see her block that!”
“But sir-!” Riddler demanded.
“You fucking peasant, follow my orders!”
Deep within the bowels of the ship, Riddler was nervous. Something wasn’t right here.
The device came on, sending the next warhead. Wolf didn’t like this. What the hell is he doing?! The particle ribbons were now able to be seen by the rest. Kind of. To her, these ribbons were massive and grouping. Her stomach knotted up. This was all very wrong.
“P5, bring it down!”
“Yes ma’am!” He went off. By now, Adam’s ships were either destroyed or disabled. They couldn’t hope to target the fighter. It made contact with the warhead, pushing it back. Right as the explosion reached its maximum expansion, something happened. A large ribbon of light, very reminiscent of a lightning bolt, went out. It blasted into the mountains and took out over a dozen of the Empire’s ships on Wolf’s side. Everyone was in shock. Adam was smiling. He had finally tasted blood with his weapon. As the blast collapsed, he started to laugh.
“Excellent! Now, fire again!”
Mary looked up, not liking the look on his face.
The weapon sent out another round, right as the sun was collapsing. The WASP was stabilizing, as she saw the next warhead.
“Oh shit!” She turned to Oracle. “Get us out of here!”
He hit the controls, moving them back. The remaining fighters in P-Group were with them. But as the weapon got to the point of where previous warheads went off, something weird happened – it stopped!
Adam was confused. “What the hell?! What’s going on?!”
Riddler was terrified. So was Mary. Matthias stood with baited breath.
Wolf suddenly had a revelation. She cued up the fleet. “All ships, get out of there! Rise above the mountains and use them as a shield! Trust me, you have to get out of here!”
Matthias was too scared not to comply. Their ships turned and started to move. The warhead was hanging in mid-air, seeming to pop and sizzle.
That’s when it happened. In a flash, the weapon went off. What was once comparable to a black sun, now truly was. The weapon’s explosive radius became utterly massive. It engulfed almost the entire valley! Even the Fortress was falling back. It grew and grew until it reached a point where it stopped growing. But that made everyone even more terrified. It wasn’t collapsing!
Oracle looked to Wolf. “Boss, what the hell is going on?!”
She disengaged the faceplate of her Armor, eyes wide. “Oh god, it’s happened! I read about this in the some of the research data from Lab 451. It was theorized that if enough of the Nova Particle was gathered in one place, with explosive force, it could become self-sustaining.”
“Self-sustaining, you mean…?!”
“Yes. It won’t collapse. Ever! The sphere will become like a star.” The fear inside of her was incredible. “Oracle. This is it! This is the end of the world!”
The man looked back out. The sun had all the appearance of a star. There were jets of light coming off of it. Their airships were out of the way, but all he could do is sit there. The man wanted to cry.
Just then, from the sphere, another bolt came out. This one, however, went right at the Fortress. It impacted with the shield and the display of light was brilliant.
Wolf’s mouth was open. “Time to see what happens when the ultimate sword meets the perfect shield.”
The bolt just kept getting bigger and bigger. Adam and everyone inside was in terror. Then, with the sound of a giant crack, the shield collapsed. The bolt of light went right through the Fortress, carving it into gigantic pieces that held in the air for a second on the particle fields, then collapsed to Earth.
Inside of the Odysseus, Matthias and the others were looking at footage from the WASP. Many were crying. Some were praying.
Gabby was holding Ariel tight.
“So this is it. This is how our world ends.”
Ariel looked at the footage. “Guess that God isn’t going to show, huh?”
The bolt went into the drive cores of the Fortress as it fell. The Black Sun got bigger and bigger, consuming the Nova Particle fuel inside. Soon, it was so massive that their airships were going back even further from the mountains.
Wolf felt herself start to shake. “We’re all going to die here. Every last one of us.”
Until next time, a quote,
“They say there is no such place as Paradise. Even if you search to the ends of the Earth, there’s nothing at all. No matter how far you walk, it’s just the same road, it just goes on and on. But in spite of that…Why am I so driven to find it?” -Kiba, Wolf’s Rain