4 of 6 | Chapter 17


The LRT units made up three by three formations, although a swarm of such Demon fighters consisted of eight as one of them was much larger than the others and took up a double position. Each of these swarms was part of a squadron, consisting of a total of forty swarms that were positioned around Cameo type vessels, which were the largest enforcement units in the fleet. The Cameo vessels were equipped, not only with far stronger gravity cannons, but had NGI drives as well. They were not specifically designed for space travel, but it was helpful in terms of defense for them to be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere. The Cameos were even capable of taking a submarine out of the ocean and putting it onto the Moon if needed.

A total of forty-eight squadron were based on each platform together with which they embodied the poles of enforcement. Globally, the LRT units of execution consisted of one hundred fifty-three thousand six hundred smaller or larger Demon fighters, and four hundred and eighty Cameo type vessels, making a force that left almost no room for misinterpretation.


An ASEC command ship appeared out of nowhere above the black force, soaring high above them. The extremely humid air washed out its color, but from the ground, it still seemed enormous. Murinko and his best officers traveled in the company of the thirty-eight successful commanders, who had all but disappeared from their home cities in the intervening period. Unlike their peers, who had been rejected and sent home during training, they were far beyond the average in character, strength, and perseverance. Their characteristics were also very different from each other. There were those good at coordinating a team, those whose strengths lay predominantly in mission planning and organization, but there were also some odd characters who excelled in decision-making. Those who succeeded in remaining a part of the ASEC commander training program represented essential values and were to play a significant role in the military action to come.

So far all attempts at breaking them, both physically and mentally, had failed. Even Steersman's systematic psychological warfare had not deterred them from becoming active commanders in the world's most influential military organization. It had quickly become common knowledge that Steersman knew no bounds when he pitted his expectations against any of their productive capacity.

Whether they managed to resist him or not, the one and a half years of continuous mental and spiritual effort had transformed the candidates and given maturity as well. They had become conscious minded adults, and despite their youth, they had become intimately familiar with and fully grasped the problems that faced the world.

ASEC leadership was aware of this also. It had been decided that—after months of tactical exercises with operational robots, the time had come to take part in real military operations.

Their current mission was for real and going live, which placed upon them an incredible amount of strain. Two-man teams were required to deploy terrestrial robot units against the Land Army, as the Chinese had not only prepared with their Air Forces. Therefore, the commanders had to defend against armored and mechanized land divisions as well as contend with air defense forces.

When the fifth ASEC northern divisions infiltrated Chinese airspace like a matte black mist, the Chinese fighter squadrons were already close by and waited only for the command to attack.

And the command arrived.

The Demon swarms immediately spread out and the black fog quickly vanished. Only Cameo units remained clustered together as they had much stronger defense systems, the entire surface area of each ship was protected against impact by negative gravitational shields. They were transporting terrestrial units so they flew close to the ground to release them. During the course of land unit deployment they became easy targets for anti-aircraft defense, so thousands of short-response robots immediately disembarked, then the Cameos quickly disappeared into the air and hastened to reinforce fighter swarms.

Subsequently, nineteen control vehicles were positioned near the robot squadrons by the ASEC command ship. Each of them had two commanders on board who—according to protocol—controlled the robots within half a kilometer range of the control vessel, but not more than a proportionate share of the total workforce.

This method of command had many advantages as the formation of specific units were subject to the requirements dictated by the course of battle or by best tactical positions, rather than by a specific commander. This way, even after having left an area, robots would continue their missions according to the last order received until they were belonged to a new field of control, where new orders would be given by the nearest commander. This system allowed for such flexibility in the hands of the commanders that traditional methods of warfare could never match their reaction times.

According to ASEC NLA program security protocols, active intervention in any events occurring in an operation had to take place as soon as possible, because any perception of a prolonged military action could allow escalation into a fully blown conflict, which was to be as much avoided as possible.

The final opposition mission had been planned to last a total of forty-five minutes, which initially seemed just completely unrealistic in a battle against the world's largest armed forces, especially considering that zero human collateral damage was acceptable. However, in return, ASEC was counting on a substantial financial gain as all incapacitated military equipment, machines and weapons would end up at the molecular neutralization center to be recycled into raw materials.

After landing nearby, command vessels deployed terrestrial SRT robots as planned, in divisional order. Each such division was known as a cluster, and when a number of clusters attacked the same target, they made up a multi-cluster.

In command vessel eleven, Jeff Hayes and his partner Dave Valko were sitting in a semi-recumbent position, both studying displays which showed the positions of Chinese units. The images showed everything in quite some detail. They saw that other clusters had already positioned themselves on both flanks.

Around the command vessel, the robots were moving in deliberate disarray. The vessel provided the highest degree of safety for staff, and although it was not suitable for combat, it was well equipped for defensive and deceptive maneuvers.

“All right, let's go,” Hayes said quietly, though his heart was raging in his chest. Ahead, thousands of robots marched on, and a little further in the distance, the fourth and eighteenth command vessels were visible. Hayes and Valko's command area closed the wedge at the rear, giving them a strategically important role in the endgame.

“Take it easy!” ordered Murinko from the chief command ship, that had long been in thick of things. He was tensely observing the vital signs of the young commanders, and saw that in all of them, neurotransmitter activity had jumped, especially dopamine and serotonin levels. They were also affected by high levels of adrenaline in their blood streams. “As long as they're shooting rockets and steel cores, there'll be no problem,” he quipped reassuringly.

“Yes, sir,” replied Valko.

Above them, the sky churned. The three by three formations tumbled and rolled in seeming confusion, but none of them broke with the eight Demons fighters sticking together as if they were one. They only separated when they captured an enemy fighter.

The Chinese fighter planes, maneuvering insanely across the sky, were quite simply left with no chance as powerful gravitational radii caught them in their beams, then pushed them mercilessly to the ground where the wings and fuselages broke and crumpled like toys. The pilots were removed and the destroyed aircrafts were collected. It was a continuous process.



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