Chapter 55: A+A (III)
The Queen could not be killed. The moment it was killed, all the arthropods would rebel and humanity’s defensive line would likely not last an hour. However, the reason Shang Ke had people find the Queen was not to kill it, but to “kidnap” it.
The build of the Queen was smaller than the variants, its black shell would have a dark purple shine and a special device must be used to locate it. During the arthropod attack, the arthropod sandstorm had damaged a lot of the equipment in Via City, so their readings were static and they could not find the Queen’s position. Now that it was found, it cannot hide from their readings anymore.
As long as they bring the Queen to the human’s defensive area, the arthropod army will also shift accordingly. The only difficult point was that outside of Via City the arthropod sandstorm was going full bore. Getting a five-mile distance from the arthropods was impossible. With the arthropod’s speed, they would be forced to double back in less than ten minutes.
Shang Ke would have to take the Queen into the arthropod sandstorm, however far he could. But any means of transportation capable of taking them into the arthropod sandstorm was unavailable, so they would have to do so on foot. With the storm in addition to the weight of the protective gear and equipment, even with an alpha’s strong body, they likely wouldn’t make it far. What’s more, the protective gear did not promise that one would not be affected by the radiation—the original Filmore was a testament to that, even though the reason he had been affected was because his protective gear has been damaged during his escape.
However, it was their best option.
At that moment, the arthropods restarted their attack. The soldiers all dragged their beaten bodies to fight, running purely on willpower. It would be another three days until the storm ends, but the defensive line of Via City was already on the brink of collapse.
Shang Ke knew that he couldn’t drag this out any further. He donned a set of protective gear and leaned on the back of a fighter aircraft.
The soldiers who were still fighting fiercely did not pay attention to Shang Ke, who was wearing protective gear and lying on a fighter aircraft and rushing into the sea of bugs, alongside two other aircraft, all heading straight for the Queen.
“What is he trying to do?” Several hundred meters outside of the war zone, Lin Jie watched Shang Ke on the screen.
“Capturing the Queen and drawing away the arthropod army.” Rhine wore a grave expression and his tone was incomparably calm.
“The arthropod sandstorm is five miles out from them. It is simply impossible for him to draw the arthropods away that far. He would be throwing away his life in vain.” Lin Jie pursed his lips.
“I think,” Rhine calmly spoke, “his main purpose is to stall for time.”
Lin Jie fell quiet, but his eyes held admiration as he watched Shang Ke. No one expected this novice, second lieutenant to show such remarkable and courageous qualities when brushing so close to death. He was fully aware that he wouldn’t succeed in his mission, but still put every effort into trying. Even if only death lay ahead, he would walk forward without hesitation.
“How are the readings of the arthropod sandstorm? When will it end?” Rhine asked.
Lin Jie answered, “The latest reading said four days. The storm will gradually start shrinking in two days and the radiation intensity will be reduced,”
Rhine’s eyes turn a shade darker, “Too long, they have at most two days. Have the first and second battle squads prepare for a rescue.”
Within the sea of bugs, two aircraft fighters were in charge of acting as screens while one was in charge of capturing the Queen. A dozen minutes later, the four of them had grabbed the Queen and, before being buried by the swarm, rushed full throttle out of the arthropod’s encirclement, heading in the opposite direction of Via City.
The arthropods sensed that their Queen was captured and flew into a rage. They gave up their siege of the city and started to pursue the fighter aircrafts like a wave.
The soldiers who still fought bitterly with the arthropods immediately noticed the shift in the direction of the onslaught and saw that the enemy was chasing after three fighter aircraft who flew far from the defensive line. The soldiers were quick to understand what happened.
Their commander left while carrying the Queen and leading away the arthropod army. The commander ring’s signal light disappeared in the distant horizon like a fading star.
Via City was temporarily relieved. The soldiers took the time to rest, reorganize and survive. But they couldn’t help but feel that their young second lieutenant would never come back to them.
“Sir!” The soldiers face the horizon and shouted loudly.
The three aircraft quickly arrived at the edge of the storm. If they moved forward just a bit more, their operating system would malfunction.
Shang Ke jumped off the aircraft and told the other three, “You lot can return, leave the rest to me”
“Sir!” The three pilots spoke at the same time.
“You aren’t wearing protective gear, so following me would be useless.” Shang Ke picked up the suitcase carrying the Queen and then rushed into the storm without looking back.
The three pilots raised their hands and saluted in the direction Shang Ke disappeared to, their eyes glistening with tears.
Shang Ke had researched the topography of the surroundings of Via City. Around seven or eight miles away from here was a natural moat several hundred meters long around a separated rock form. He planned to hang the Queen on the steep cliff about fifty to sixty meters away from the moat. If the arthropods want to save their Queen, they would likely have to expend a lot of time and energy to do so.
Shang Ke controlled the pace of his breathing, drawing his strength to the limits, and ran like a burst of uncontrollable wind, madly rushing through the storm.
Despite being utterly exhausted, there was also a feeling of elatedness, as if his entire person was about to fly.
He never knew that his physical ability was actually this good, to be able to run for so long despite fighting for several days and nights.
The arthropod army was chasing from behind him so he could not stop at all. The earlier he gets rid of the Queen, the higher the chance he will have of living.
He did not know how long had been, but Shang Ke finally arrived at his destination. From behind, the earthquake-like shaking of the arthropod army followed.
Shang Ke did not dare dally. He slung the bow over his shoulder and loaded an arrow, then targeted the cliff and shot. The arrowhead flew straight and lodged itself tightly into a crack on the cliff. Attached to the nock of the arrow was a steel wire leading down to Shang Ke.
He quickly turned around and ran for a rock on another cliff, before climbing agilely to the top. He squatted and quietly watched the activity below.
Most of the arthropods in Via City were drawn away by Shang Ke. The few remaining were no longer able to threaten the defensive line. The soldiers followed the original procedure and split into groups to fight.
This was their chance to live given to them by their Second Lieutenant Filmore in exchange for his life. All the soldiers gathered their strength and fought the final battle.
The eighth day passed, the ninth day passed… The prediction that the arthropod army could only be delayed for two days was proven false on the ninth day with its continued absence.
The hearts of the soldiers shook. They did not know what kind of method their commander was using to drag out this much time. Seeing as their chance at survival was finally within grasp due to his actions, everyone was endlessly moved.
Compared to everyone else at Via City, Shang Ke’s situation was not very optimistic.
The reason why the arthropods never returned was because Shang Ke “heroically” attracted their aggression.
At the beginning, Shang Ke was hiding patiently and waiting for the arthropods to save their Queen and leave. Then, he would be safe. However, just when the arthropod army was about to leave, his unlucky cursed halo abruptly appeared: 【Cursed Halo Activate: Berserk Mode ten hours, target: Shang Ke.】
Being shone on by the cursed halo, Shang Ke felt the blood in his body boil and he suddenly stood up, roaring into the sky. It was as if he was attempting to kick-start Sparta the Second.
After hearing such an earth-shaking roar, the arthropods very “passionately” responded with an equally aggressive and provoking roar.
Shang Ke watched the bugs begin climbing up to his hiding place and gave a middle finger to the System in his heart. He then took out his saber and started an inhuman “killing” of the bugs. If someone were watching, they would likely think him on drugs…
The first rescue team arrived on the tenth day. They wore protective gear and brought weaponry and equipment as they passed through the already shrunken storm on foot.
When the rescue team, formed of twenty thousand people, hurried over, the soldiers of Via City were so moved that tears started to stream down their faces and they all dropped to the floor, powerless to move again.
Bodies were everywhere within the city, the flesh piling up meters in places, and there was almost no place to walk in. Seeing such a scene, the soldiers that came to rescue them were simply unable to imagine just what kind of horrific battle they had faced. The soldiers of Via City, under the conditions of no reinforcement, no weapons and being greatly outnumbered and outpowered managed to hold down the defensive line for more than ten days. This was the greatest miracle in the entire war history of the Empire.
“Brigadier General Lancelot, please save Second Lieutenant Filmore!” the situation of Via City progressively steadied with the arrival of the reinforcement army. The arthropod army led away by Shang Ke still has not returned, signifying that he may very well still be alive. After more than ten days of combat with Filmore, the soldiers of Via City did not lack any respect for this young second lieutenant. As such, they immediately requested his rescue.
Rhine organized three special battle squads at once and wore his protective gear, rushing to save Filmore.
The sandstorm had already reduced to the point that the radiation would not affect their technology so they could finally use some of their special equipment. Rhine guided the special battle squads, who were full of strength, wielding excellent weapons and were far stronger than the common soldiers by several folds. With them, rushing into a sea of bugs to save one person was accomplishable.
However, when they arrived after traveling at top speed, they were utterly shocked by the scene before them.
A small, mountain-shaped rock not too far from them was heaped with the corpses of bugs. While they couldn’t see it, the deep moat surrounding the rock formation was filled with tens of thousands of fallen arthropods. The rock itself was almost completely covered as well, a spectacular glistening pile of black beetle corpses.
At the summit was a man in ragged clothing, holding a bug leg over a fire. He was sitting cross-legged and the upper half of his well-built body was covered in injuries of all sizes. Even so, it gave him a hard to describe charm.
Sitting on top of the mountain of bug corpses, dangerously close to the radiation of the bugs, while half-naked from the top and eating a roasted bug leg. Did he have to be so sexy and domineering? If a picture was taken of this scene, it would be treated as a family heirloom!
Everyone roughly calculated the numbers of bug corpses. At minimum, there were thirty thousand. In just two days, without stopping to sleep or rest, on average, one per minute was killed… Holy crap, was this guy still human? Killing so many bugs purely on willpower, and under a condition where he was very much exhausted in the first place. This kind of strength and perseverance was really too scary!
What was even stranger was that he had actually dared to roast bugs to eat. This kind of bug could be eaten? Smelling it from their spot, it smelled pretty nice! What about the remaining variants? How come they couldn’t see any?
“Second lieutenant Filmore.” Rhine ordered the soldiers to raise their vigilance and then shouted to the top of the summit.
Yet the man at the summit remained motionless without any reaction.
Everyone’s heart thumped once: He couldn’t be…
Rhine knitted his brows tightly as he stepped on the bodies of the dead bugs and jumped over a couple of others, nimbly making his way to the top of the summit and stood in front of Shang Ke.
Shang Ke’s head was drooping with his hair weakly covering his forehead. His eyes were closed and his long eyelashes cast a faint shadow. His face bloody and his lips were slightly cracked, his shoulders were sagging with his right hand holding his long sword with the blade pointed down. His left hand held a roasted bug leg, which he had only taken a few bites out of. His half-naked body was full of claw marks and stab wounds. In places, the bone was visible through the gash, a pure white beneath pools of blood.
Rhine felt his chest tighten. If it weren’t for the slight movements of his chest, he would have believed that the other man was dead already.
Thank the heavens, he was still alive.
Rhine slowly bent down and was just about to help him when he saw his eyes suddenly snapping open and a long sword slashed towards him.
Rhine did not dodge. He smoothly caught Shang Ke’s wrist and met his gaze with those star-like eyes.
“You’re…” Shang Ke could finally take a good look at him and somewhat relaxed his body as his voice made a rather dry and rough sound.
“Rhine Lancelot.” Rhine stared at him without blinking.
Rhine Lancelot? Isn’t he the “main character” of this world? This man has the familiar presence he was used to!
Shang Ke’s heart jumped and the light flickered in his eyes. With some expectation and happiness, he slowly moved his gaze toward Rhine’s right hand.
Rhine just so happens to release him at the right time, revealing his palm.
It was completely blank.
There wasn’t a mole!