Chapter 573: Battle in the Void [V6C103 - Sorrow of a Silent Parting]
"Yuying?" Qianye was delighted to hear this voice. Wei Potian's expression, on the other hand, wasn't too good. His words just now clearly weren't leading to anything good. It could be said that his luck was extremely bad to have been caught red-handed like this.
Zhao Yuying entered in large strides with the eye-catching Mountain Splitter on her back. Despite walking energetically, her aura was well-contained, and her footsteps, silent. Qianye was worried at first because she hadn't appeared on the battlefield at Giant's Repose. Now it would seem that she had not only healed after the long recuperation, but her strength had also increased.
Wei Potian revealed an embarrassed smile upon seeing Zhao Yuying and began shifting his feet toward the window. Apparently, he was planning an escape route. However, Zhao Yuying aimed that terrifying cannon toward the window and shouted, "Where do you think you're going? Get back here!"
Wei Potian's expression rapidly fluctuated. He wasn't too confident about taking a blast from Mountain Splitter at such a short distance. All he could do was obey and move back to the center of the room.
Qianye's eyelids twitched as he hurriedly stepped in front of Wei Potian. With Zhao Yuying's character, it was quite possible that she would open fire. Even though a blast from Mountain Splitter wasn't enough to heavily injure Wei Potian, it would most certainly destroy this residence.
Zhao Yuying rolled her eyes at Qianye as she put down her cannon. "You're always playing the good guy!"
Qianye sighed in relief and quickly changed the topic. "Yuying, why are you still lugging that thing around in the military camp?"
"We're in a state of war right now, and battles can break out anytime. It's more convenient to keep it near me," Zhao Yuying spoke with righteous confidence, but the two men were drenched in cold sweat—ready to fight anytime in the imperial main camp? Who was she going to fight?
At that point, Qianye recalled that the Zhao clan camp wasn't in this camp and asked curiously, "Isn't the Zhao clan supposed to set out from Suyang City? How come you're here?"
Zhao Yuying sat down at the table and said while glaring at Qianye, "It's possible that we'll have to fight the Evernight fleet before landing on the floating continent. A battle in the void is no joke, and you've never fought one before. What if you're done in by someone? So, I came over with a battleship. You should just stick with me when the time comes."
Wei Potian butted in. "Just one? Why don't you travel with our Wei family's fleet? We can take care of each other."
This time, Zhao Yuying accepted the gesture without much resistance. Despite her odd temperament, she was quite serious in such matters.
The three discussed their upcoming plan before leaving to make final preparations.
The Wei family fleet was in the second batch that would set out two days later. Zhao Yuying's airship was more or less her private vessel, so it was arranged in the rear. The time for departure arrived in the blink of an eye. Having finished all of his preparations, Qianye boarded the airship with Zhao Yuying.
Moments later, the bold call of a bugle echoed through the skies. Numerous imperial high-speed airships spread out in all directions to guard the skies above Yuanshui, followed soon by the primary battleships. The massive, dark vessels took to the air as though there was no weight on them.
This was the empire's third fleet, in charge of escorting the giant landing crafts toward the floating continent. The entire fleet assumed formation in the air, changed directions, and flew into the depths of the void. Only then was it time for the landing fleet to ascend.
The landing fleet was made up of nearly a thousand airships of different types. At this moment, they were like a flock of zooming birds—countless in numbers and of all shapes and sizes. They rose up and assembled in different parts of the sky.
Two imperial regular army corps set out from Yuanshui City, along with two high-ranking aristocratic families and a dozen or so smaller ones. There were many more landowning households and independent experts of unknown affiliation. There was a certain degree of order among the main army corps, but the same couldn't be said for the aristocracy. All kinds of airships were flying about chaotically and gathered into an uproarious mass.
The third imperial fleet seemed to have expected this. They especially left a small patrol squad to guide and assemble these aristocratic families in different air regions. Even so, half a day had passed before they began flying toward the third fleet in formation.
Zhao Yuying's airship was a highspeed corvette, an upgrade of the standard model the Zhao clan was building for the empire. Its performance was much better than airships of the same grade.
Qianye knew the journey was long. He remained in his own cabin after boarding the airship, cultivating and adjusting his condition to its peak. Zhao Yuying had also discarded her disorganized style and was seizing the moment to cultivate.
One day and one night passed in flight. The landing fleet's formation had loosened into a long snake, and some of the aristocratic families were even struggling to keep up with the others.
Qianye was cultivating when the ship's alarms rang out. He suddenly opened his eyes, shot up, and grabbed Thunderbolt. Only then did he remember that he was still in the void and that Thunderbolt was useless here.
Hence, Qianye put the sniper rifle down and ran toward the bridge.
Zhao Yuying was already in the captain's room at the moment, gazing intently into the distance.
"What's going on?" Qianye inquired.
"An Evernight ambush squadron," Zhao Yuying replied in a hurry.
Through the windows, Qianye could see the distant fleet of sinister-looking Evernight ships. Their bodies were round with long frames sticking out in each direction, making them look like spiders from a distance. The most eye-catching were the sharp spikes on their bodies. These thorns weren't just used to scare people—their function was to tear apart the enemy airship in a close quarter fight.
One would know at a glance that the fleet belonged to the arachne. Their airship technology was only a bit better than the werewolves', but they were durable and cheap to construct.
The arachne ambush squadron was made up of dozens of airships. They sped up abruptly as the two fleets came into each other's view and spread out toward the imperial landing vessels.
Although the two sides were disproportionate in numbers, the imperial side consisted mostly of transport airships with no firepower. There was only a small number of true escort battleships. Some of the landowning households had used cargo airships as a stopgap measure, causing them to lag behind the primary fleet and the entire formation to stretch longer.
Zhao Yuying stared at an arachne battleship zooming in from the front and shouted, "That one, follow it!"
That arachne warship was over twice as large as their corvette, but the fearless Zhao Yuying ordered the captain to give chase. Through the windows, one could see the imperial escort ships advancing one after another, leaving only a few to guard the landing party.
The Zhao clan's corvette held the obvious performance advantage, leaving the other imperial airships in the dust and closing in on the arachne fleet. Very soon, it was a mere thousand meters away.
The corvette shook violently at this moment as it shot out a two-meter-long metallic crossbow bolt—the projectile glowed with a sinister hue as it flew toward the arachne warship. The arachne warship's eight trestles quickly lit up with origin power and, with a couple of swift movements, dragged the massive airship into a sharp turn to dodge the arrow. From a distance, this giant airship was as agile and life-like as an arachne warrior.
The corvette fired once more under Zhao Yuying's command, but it grazed past the arachne airship.
"Useless!" Zhao Yuying smashed the helm with her fist.
The arachne warship seemed to have realized the Zhao clan corvette's power. It decided not to engage the ship on its tail and, instead, leverage its agility to maintain a constant distance between them. It soon charged into a group of landing vessels belonging to low and middle-ranked aristocratic families. This squadron consisted of a dozen-odd cargo airships of varying models, and only a couple of which were lightly armed.
The arachne battleship rushed up barbarically and passed through the obstruction of the armed airships after taking a few hits. It swerved around and crashed fiercely into a transport airship, and then moved on without slowing down. Those sharp barbs were like blades and produced several long defects on the transport airships.
A row of cannons stretched out from the arachne battleship's side. A volley of shots struck the damaged areas on the transport ship, causing a series of wild explosions inside.
Seeing the spray of raging flames, even an amateur like Qianye understood that the transport was done for.
A spring of the arachne airship's eight legs sent the airship flying toward the next transport. The transports spread out to evade but they were simply too slow to get away from the pursuit.
"Trash! A group of rubbish!" Zhao Yuying was furious. Her corvette had already fired four or five ballista rounds, but most of them were dodged. Only one of them connected and left minor damage on the arachne battleship.
The explosion of every transport ship signified the deaths of hundreds of soldiers. A flying champion might be saved after rushing out of the airship, but the other soldiers would fall into the void along with the burning vessel.
The one in charge of this arachne battleship was apparently an expert. It darted about with great alacrity and would always dodge the attacks from behind at the last moment. It seemed to have no intention of getting tangled up with Zhao Yuying's corvette.
Qianye observed the arachne battleship carefully and discovered that there were origin arrays at the ends of its limbs. They would push the battleship in a different direction every time ripples of light appeared around them. From a distance, it looked very much like a large spider treading over water.
On several occasions, Zhao Yuying wanted to man the cannons herself, however, the captain might not necessarily be able to catch up to the arachne warship without her instructions. Zhao Yuying's eyes were sharp and she had ample experience in this field, allowing her to project the opponent's movements from very subtle changes.
Qianye observed for a while and discovered that the Zhao clan corvette's speed, braking power, and firepower were well above the arachne battleship, but was less agile. The situation on the battlefield at this moment had become rather chaotic. There were burning airships everywhere and transports flying off in all directions, the perfect time for these arachne airships to shine.
Qianye formed an idea after getting the knack of things. He walked over to Zhao Yuying and said, "You pilot, I'll man the cannons."
Zhao Yuying's eyes lit up. "Okay! You lot, take Qianye to the cannons!"
As Qianye disappeared through the gangway leading to the cannon platform, the captain said in a soft voice, "Miss, young noble Qianye has never used a ship cannon before, has he? Is this appropriate?"
Zhao Yuying sneered, "Even if he misses every shot, it can't be any worse than you trash!"
The captain's face turned red and no longer dared say anything.
It actually wasn't that the Zhao clan warriors weren't capable. It was just that the one controlling the arachne battleship was a true expert. Such a person was more than capable of driving a regular army battleship if he were on the empire's side.