Avalel dived towards the plasma cannon. It wasn’t the main fort, but it will be a huge blow to the Achien army. At the same time, Kavlina was rushing to the plasma cannon to deal a fatal blow. Just then, they both noticed something. The plasma cannon had moved its turret, and the entire army had stopped firing. Instead, their guns were all aimed at one direction, and in horror, they knew where they were aiming at. The settlement. Avalel immediately warped to the edge of the crater, the tiny blades creating a ring to produce an energy barrier around the crater and his wings shielding himself. Kavlina, meanwhile, continued her path, preparing to strike the plasma cannon before it fired. As Kavlina jumped up and began to raise her arms to strike the turret simultaneously, she saw a bright light growing and shining inside the plasma cannon. Uh oh. We fell for it. Again. The plasma cannon raised the turret up at her and fired. The next instant, thousands of bullets, missiles, bombs and blasts alike fired at Avalel.
The girl. She’s injured, the voice spoke in a tone of urgency. You and all survivors will soon be too, if you still have this pathetic defense.
Release the Arachma’s energy. This will weaken your armor, but it will strengthen the barrier.
If you say so, Elethien the Great. The Arachma shone with a bright crimson light as the barrier was slowly dyed red. The tiny blades now combined into a great ring, and the barrier now became more than four times its original thickness. As the blasts slammed into the barrier, Avalel could feel the ground shudder beneath him. The barrier constantly buzzed as the blasts made thumping noises when they hit it. Although the blasts were seemingly endless, the barrier still held, its light not fading one bit.
In the distance, Avalel could see a silhouette of a highly charged energy ball. No. Three. One was especially large, and as these colossal concentrated spheres of energy struck the barrier, Avalel felt pain in his chest, where the Arachma was resting. Now, several bullets managed to pierce through and landed near Avalel. The barrier had been weakened by the combined strength of the plasma blasts. Some bullets even managed to hit their intended target, but they simply bounced off from the protection of the wings. They’re trying to wear you down, the voice warned, Don’t waste your energy on the little blasts. Only strengthen the barrier when you see the plasma coming. Avalel gritted his teeth. He was beginning to tire, but he was far from giving up. Please continue giving me guidance, he thought to the voice, and help us win this battle.
Kavlina winced. When she tried to shield herself with her arms, her armor had managed to absorb most of the plasma, but suddenly, at the last second, she felt the armor disintegrating into dust. As the last few bits of plasma struck her, she felt she was being engulfed by fire. Her arms now badly burnt, she expected for the drones to immediately dispose of her. Instead, she saw every blast, every bullet firing at Avalel and the settlement, the smoke obscuring her vision to the settlement. The blasts were only barely above her, keeping her from even raising her back a little.
Lel! She thought, and almost pushed herself to stand before a bullet almost struck her head, its noise a scream. She quickly ducked, grateful that death had passed by her door again. Her whole upper body was burnt to some degree, making every beat of the heart painful. Some of her hair had been singed, and the skin of her forearms were almost completely burnt off, revealing the flesh below. Her back was relatively safe from the blast, but the impact to the ground caused some pebbles to lodge themselves dangerously near her spine and vital organs. Her lower body, however, was relatively unscathed, as she only endured some small bruises on her knee.
Inch by inch, she crawled forward like a snake, her chest and stomach scraping the ground below. She had used the remaining strength of her arms to move them to rest on her back, so now the pain had lessened. Still, every inch was painful and the constant bleeding from her arms dyed her shirt a slight pink. Now I finally know the feeling of the lame and beggars, she thought, a pity that I didn’t learn this earlier.
She found a large boulder nearby after many minutes of crawling. The boulder was already chipped from the firing, but it still stood, firmly rooted to the ground. Forcing herself to sit and lean on the rough surface of the boulder, she now examined her wounds. There were many wounds on her upper body from the long crawling, and combined with the bleeding on her arms, she could barely differentiate which part was bleeding, which part wasn’t. She sighed. Seems like I just walked out after being cut a hundred times. She repetitively moved her back up and down on the boulder in an attempt to remove the pebbles and metal lodged in her body, and after some time, most of them were removed. The boulder and the ground beneath her was now stained with blood and her clothing was now torn with many small holes, but it definitely helped to lessen the pain. Still, she was now exhausted, and she finally collapsed and fainted, her injured body gently sliding down the boulder and her arms resting on the soft grass below, shielded by the boulder.
Nasition smiled, looking at the energy barrier from the displays of his headquarters. The reinforcement plasma cannon had helped boost the damage of his already strong army. Now, the main gun of his fort and the two plasma cannons were firing simultaneously, shaking the barrier. His plan (or rather, his subordinate’s plan) had worked. Fixing Avalel in one place, it was only a matter of time before the barrier faltered and all inside the barrier would be extinguished. The girl who attacked his army with Avalel had disappeared, but he was sure that she was evaporated from a blast of a plasma cannon. Now, he simply needed to sit back and watch the eventual destruction of his enemy.
“Sire,” a soldier reported, disrupting his focus, “The energy barrier is growing weaker, but we have run out of bullets.”
“Never mind that. Just tell those troops to hold their formation and let others finish their job.”
“But sire… ” the soldier continued, worry spreading across his face.
“What now?” Nasition stopped smiling, as he felt there was, again, something wrong.
“The rest of our troops are reporting overheated systems in their rifles. Some rifles have already malfunctioned and stopped working.”
Just then, another soldier came on his display. His uniform clearly showed he was part of the crew of the plasma cannons.
“Sire,” he cried, “Our plasma cannons are overheating despite our best attempts at trying to cool it down. At this rate, the cannons would eventually explode and potentially harm the main fort!”
Another came onto the display. This time, the soldier was wearing the commanding uniform of the artillery batteries.
“Sire, over 50% of our artillery batteries have ran out of ammunition. Those artillery batteries are forced to stop and wait for supplies.”
More and more reports began pouring in, flooding Nasition’s displays. It was clear that his army cannot continue like this and they were in the same dire situation as Avalel. Nasition was furious, and yet kept his composure relatively well to keep the morale. If I stop now, that brat will break my army. I cannot let this chance escape my grasp.
“Sire,” a crew member of his headquarters reported, “Our main gun is overheating, and some systems are beginning to fail.”
“JUST CARRY ON!” Nasition fumed as he clearly lost his control over his temper, “All of you, stop bothering me and DO WHAT I COMMANDED YOU TO DO!” The faces of his subordinates spontaneously disappeared from his displays.
“Actually, sire,” an advisor suggested, “Since the barrier has been significantly weakened, we can now charge with our melee weapons and cut that Avalel into ribbons.”
Nasition shouted into the loudspeaker. “All units, stop what you’re doing and charge at full speed to the barrier! If your shields or anything are holding you back, drop it! I want every living being on the settlement extinguished and killed! I don’t care what the costs are, just charge as I have told you and DON’T STOP!”
The drones abruptly stopped firing and began to charge, breaking formation. Shields and rifles were littered across the ground. The dry grass caught fire from the overheated rifles and the fire began to spread in the direction of the wind, which was heading towards the settlement. Some of the damaged drones’ plating fell, revealing their skeletal structure. The plasma cannons and the fort now stopped and began to cool down their systems and recharge their energy reserves from the Elyfesta. They were now planning to break the barrier and kill Avalel with the sheer weight numbers. Nasition was smiling again. Avalel, his enemy which he had pursued for so long, was finally going to be removed.