He had to run, quickly and as far as he could. He would hide somewhere in the Northern Alliance, and find safety under their protection. He still had a battleship, it would serve to raise his worth in their eyes.
Luckily, most of the money they’d gained through looting over the last several years had been poured in to the pirate leader’s flagship. Every pirate knew that a day like this would come eventually. So, he had spent his time preparing.
The radar squealed an alarm.
“An enemy is in pursuit,” a pirate hollered.
Feng Lin felt his whole body quiver. He raced to the screen to see for himself. A shimmering ball of blue light was closing in. It was impossibly fast, and was already practically on top of their position.
Blue! He knew what that represented.
Feng Ling was full of anger and resentment, but none of that was worth his life. “Open her all the way up – all thrusters and main engines. Full speed ahead!” He shouted the orders, his voice ringing on the bridge.
He tensely watched the screen, watched as that blue orb approach. However, as he looked on he saw the ball of light flash – and then, it was gone.
“Eh?” The pirate sitting in front of the radar panel was furiously trying to find the orb. “Where’d it go?” The encroaching danger was nowhere to be seen.
Suddenly, the entire ship began to shake.
All the color drained from Feng Lin’s face, turning the fleshy nubs from a dark red to a sickly pale. “Mechas!” He shouted. “Get the mecha ready! Attack!”
Mechas couldn’t compete with battleships on any level, this was a simply fact. Look at the sheer amount of resources that are required to build a battleship! In both attack and defense, a battleship outclassed a mecha by orders of magnitude.
Speed, for instance – an ordinary mecha couldn’t reach light speed, something that was true even for most God-ranked mechas. Battleships, however, needed only slight modifications before it was capable of the feat – even FTL.
However, in the universe there were no absolutes. What a mecha suit couldn’t do on its own, it could do easily with the right pilot.
An example was Jezebel, and the terrifying hellfire meteor shower she’d used to decimate the pirate fighters. If anyone other than Mika were to pilot it, it didn’t matter who they were the same results could not be achieved.
Thor was another. With his own powers and the lightning energies of the suit, he could easily and quickly reach light speed.
Battleships were only capable of accelerating to light speed in the vacuum of space. Feng Lin had yet to break atmosphere.
At its speeds, Thor was like a twinkle of light. In no time at all, it was beside the ship. The ships shields were up, however, and those were formidable for a mecha to handle alone.
Thor tore through the air, spinning like a drill with its spear leading the charge. The shields shuddered, flashed, then parted. Thor was through.
Bang! Thor attached itself to the hull of the ship.
Although battleships and patrol boats were only separated by one ‘level’, they were vastly differently vehicles. Patrollers were meant as supports for battleships, or their stationed planets. They were closer ranged skirmishers, and search vessels. Conversely, battleships were adept at traveling long distances, and were capable weapons for nearly all manner of combat. Because of this, its armor was considerably thicker than its smaller counter-parts. They had to be made to withstand blasts from rival battleships, after all. The result was a much hardier ship when compared to patrol boats.
But Thor didn’t seem to be aiming to destroy the ship it was clinging to. As it stood there, latched to the ship, it began to pulse with waves of electric blue light. The strange energy swept across the length and breadth of Feng Ling’s escape vessel.
Inside, the ship was a chaotic mess. His ship was powerful, yes, but badly understaffed. In his rush to escape, Feng Ling had brought only his most trusted men. Less than fifty mechas were available to mount a defense.
Feng Lin himself clambered in to a suit. He shook terrible as he got the machine started. He only felt safe inside the belly of one of these beasts. But, why was it so quiet all of a sudden…
Screeaacchh! The strange sound suddenly filled the cockpit. The control board sizzled as bolts of electricity raced through it. Smoke began to fill the interior. All of the ship’s electrical equipment had gone haywire.
Creaks and groans arose as external pressure slowly began to crush the ship. The lights cut out.
“Ah!” Feng Lin screamed impotently, and turned on the suit’s flood lights. He dove to the side and in to a corner.
Suddenly the room’s interior was host to a second figure, this one encased in gold and emitting rays of brilliant, electric blue light. Gold hair, gold robe, gold mask.
That majestic figure lit up the area like a small sun, but the pirates could only feel the creeping chill of fear crawling up their spines.
Every pirate in the Shattered Starfields was familiar with this figure. The blood of countless buccaneers stained his hands, more than anyone knew.
“Zeus… Zeus, you have to listen to me. Take it easy now, alright? Let’s just… let’s just talk this out.” Feng Ling’s voice cracked from fear. Zeus wasn’t in his suit, but from what he knew of the man that didn’t make the slightest bit of difference.
According to the stories, he could destroy this battleship with nothing but his bare hands.
A cold, empirical voice boomed through the entirety of the vessel. “Say what you need to say.”
Feng Ling’s chest rose and fell with ragged breaths. “I-I know what we’ve done is wrong. Piracy, is wrong. But none of this was my choice! It was all the Northern Alliance, the Northerners made me do it! They said it was so the East would send ships in to the Starfields. I’ll tell you everything, I swear. Just, please let me go! I’ll stand trial and tell everyone about the North’s plans. Is it money? I’ll give you everything I own. Y-you can give it to the victim’s families, as compensation.”
Now, staring death in the face, nothing else mattered but life. He was on his home turf, surrounded by his men. And yet, upon seeing Zeus he knew the fight was ended.
“Did you think about this when you massacred those people? Did you give any thought to the fact that this day would come?” Zeus took a step forward. Hundreds of errant golden lightning bolts fired in all directions from his body. They were so intense, that the pirate closest to him was immediately encased in golden light. The pilot within was reduced to ash before he could scream.
The other suits reacted by turning on their shields. They began to slowly retreat – none dared face this terrifying man.
“I was wrong, I’m sorry! But, but I didn’t want to do it! What could I do? I can’t stand up to the whole Northern Alliance! And if I didn’t do it, they’d just get someone else. Then they would come for my head! I surrender, I’ll follow you anywhere. I’ll do anything you want me to do.”
Zeus sniffed disdainfully. “Under interstellar law, I cannot kill you once you’ve surrendered. And yet, when you came across that transport ship, I wonder if you extended them the same courtesy. Was it the North who told you to slaughter them like dogs? Did you give those innocent souls any second chances? You did not stay your hand once – not for the elderly, not for the children. You just cut them down. It’s too late for words now. You, all of you, will be reborn in the next life as beasts. And even that will be too good for you.”
“Get him!” Feng Lin howled. Zeus had made it clear he would offer no quarter. If he wanted to live, defeating the Mercenary King would be his only chance.
The interior of the battleship flashed erratically as laser rifles fired. The air hissed and sizzled. The ship’s interior was sturdy and well equipped, with its own interior shielding. In fact, they were specifically installed because the pirates knew the risk of fighting on their own ship was significant. They had to avoid damaging this very expensive war machine. The haphazard rifle fire ricocheted in all directions, but left the ship itself largely unscathed.
The pirates’ eyes grew wide as they watched the blasts penetrate Zeus. They did it! Did they?
But not a moment later, everything around them was painted a blinding gold.
“I command the clouds to gather!”
Foreboding mists of gold crept around them, appearing from nowhere. It reached in to every nook and every corner. Only particularly well-shielded areas seemed to keep it at bay.
“The heavens… shall splinter!”
Bolts of golden electricity – thicker than man’s waist – exploded through every hallway. Countless lightning bolts surged like an ocean, obliterating everything it came in to contact with.
Where they on the planet, Lan Juwe would have needed the help of Thor to route the enemy this quickly. But in the confines of this floating metal coffin, the pirates had nowhere to run – nowhere to hide. Zeus had grown tired of speaking with these animals, so he would speak with action. Under his precise control, those terrible bolts of lightning relayed his message.
When he was finished, not even corpses remained. The pilots in their cockpits had been disintegrated, wiped from the universe by these righteous bolts.
Only one single mecha was spared the reckoning. When that terrifying lightning ceased to wreak havoc, Feng Ling remained. He sat in the cockpit, too frightened to move. His arms and legs shook, and at some point he’d urinated himself. Just the presence of this awesome protogenic power was making it hard to breathe.
This was the power of Zeus’ Ascension. The mighty god of lightning made real.
Once again that golden figure appeared silently out of thin air. He stared silently at Feng Ling for a moment, then spread his arms. Loud creaking protests rang through the ship when suddenly Feng Ling’s chest plate fractured and blew apart. The pirate lord tumbled to the ground.
Lan Jue’s face became a sneer a he looked upon the man. The small ugly thing had soiled himself as well, and the stench hung heavy in the air.
“Tell me. Who from the Northern Alliance asked you to attack that transport?” Zeus’ cold, cruel voice was like metal.
“It was…” Feng Ling spilled what he knew without hesitated or remorse.
Lan Jue huffed. With a dismissive wave of his right hand, a bolt of lightning ended the miserable man, removing him and his stench from existence.