A fog swept up the confusing confines of the conference room. Throughout the haze that resembled a mist, the clear forms of seven acolytes from the Church of Haatumak lay crunched against the ceiling-turned-deck!
Even if their forms seemed intangible and untouchable, they still had to be bound by the rules of physics! If gravity didn't affect their forms, they would find it a lot harder to move around the ship! They hadn't expected gravity to reverse and the air to be sucked away!
Regretfully, the acolytes all wore vacsuits that automatically enveloped their heads in an airtight seal, protecting them from the sudden deprivation of air.
Ves couldn't afford to stare all day. He activated his jamming device, causing the entire airless compartment to buzz and become charged with energy.
This blocked any form of electronic communication and many other devices, preventing the recovering acolytes from sending out a message through these means!
Due to the lack of air in the conference room, nobody would be able to hear each other in the open air. All of the occupants automatically joined a local communications channel, which but to their consternation, the jamming device filled the channel with static!
Ves knew that with the acolytes maintaining their invisible state despite their sudden crash, those who prepared for the code 835 would begin to grow skeptical. He needed to make his move now!
He raised his arm and allowed his spiritually-charged eyes to track his gun to Acolyte Villis, who rested on the ceiling right above his head.
Bloodmist splattered over his combat armor as his ballistic round hit the old woman straight in her center mass!
Not only did the others became alarmed at the sight of evaporating bloodmist, but the ceiling suddenly became host to a robed figure garbed in a vacsuit clutching the gaping wound in her stomach! The vacsuit automatically closed the gaps from the round that bore through the formerly invisible lady's stomach, but Ves fired again, this time managing to bore another round through the old lady's head!
That wasn't all. Though a lot of the Vandals expressed skepticism to the decision to declare a code 835, the acolyte's suddenly-visible corpse finally managed to make them come around to the fact that hidden infiltrators lived in their midst!
Even though the jamming device scrambled all communication channels, the Vandals still possessed other means of communication. Major Verle stretched out an arm and shaped his armored fingers in a specific shape.
This silent hand gesture immediately caused the Vandals armed with energy weapons to fire them indiscriminately at the ceiling-turned-deck at low power settings. The sustained laser beams emanating from their pistols raked across the ceiling eventually hitting some of the acolytes and causing them to pop to visibility.
Those armed with ballistic weapons immediately peppered them with a torrent of projectiles!
However, not every acolyte went down without a fight. Those who became aware that they had been exposed began to fight back!
They did not appear to employ any weapons for some reason, but instead they stretched out their hands towards the upside-down Vandals who stuck themselves in place with their magnetic boots and greaves and pushed out a strange purple energy wave that caused the Vandals in the way to lose their consciousness and fall!
What was that?! That energy wave passed straight through everyone's armor as if they didn't exist!
The counterattack merely spurred the armed Vandals on! They directed their full firepower into taking out the acolytes in short order. The locked compartment left no room for them to run!
Ves kept his high-powered jamming device active even after the last acolyte succumbed to the lasers and bullets that turned his body into a smoking sieve. The robes and vacsuits may have facilitated their ability to stay out of sight, but it offered them little protection against attacks!
Major Verle performed a series of hand gestures that Ves unfortunately couldn't interpret. The mech officer noticed that and projected a small text from his helmet into the air.
[TURN OFF THE JAMMER.]
That was risky. If Ves turned off his gadget, the acolytes hiding elsewhere might get wind of the deaths of their colleagues. They would know the game was up!
Yet Ves had no power to decide how to respond to this outcome. He could only place his hopes on the Vandals and pray they responded quickly enough to neutralize the other uninvited guests.
As Ves reluctantly deactivated his jamming device, Major Verle performed a quick series of actions.
First, he turned gravity back to normal and let air return to the conference room. Second, he issued a fleet-wide command at the highest priority, announcing that a code 835 was in effect. Third, he fired off a quick message to the Swordmaidens to warn them of the same threats, though whether they listened or not Ves wasn't sure.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
"Sweep the fleet of these infiltrators! Get to your stations and prepare for retaliation!"
The entire Vandal fleet entered the highest level of alertness. Alarms rang like crazy and red lights flashed ominously over everyone's heads. The code 835 declaration caused the ship captains and mech officers to use similar tricks to catch any possible infiltrators.
Yet somehow the acolytes stationed on the other vessels received a separate signal at the exact same time! Just as the Vandal officers aboard the other ships began to employ a response against the code 835, the acolytes moved faster! Each of them employed their strange energy attacks that struck the commanding officers of the other ships!
Reports of ambush attacks and assassinations already started pouring in! The only upside was that the other combat carriers only hosted two or three uninvited guests at most. The Shield of Hispania warranted a lot more acolytes due to her role as the flagship of the fleet. If the cultists managed to take out the staff officers, then the coordination and cohesion of the fleet would suffer a massive hit!
As Ves raced towards the command center and plopped himself to his seat, security officers drummed in every direction and started inspecting each corridor and compartment with handheld scanners, dust sprayers and other methods of stealth detection.
Personally, Ves figured they already took out all of the acolytes assigned to the Shield of Hispania. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the rest of the Vandals and Swordmaiden vessels!
Casualties mounted when the alerted acolytes struck the first blow on the other vessels!
"Casualties are mounting, sir! We have confirmed the deaths of six ship captains, twelve mech officers, two security captains, four chief technicians and five chief engineers!"
"Damn!" Major Verle slammed his fist against his armrest. "They hesitated too much!"
For some reason, the worshippers of Haatumak skipped over mech designers entirely, prioritizing the deaths of chief technicians over any mech designer but Ves.
He felt rather insulted for his profession. Did the cultists regard mech designers as useless?!
"Over sixty wounded officers and chiefs are being tended to, sir. All of them have suffered various degrees of neurological damage, but the docs estimate they can make a full recovery within two weeks of intensive treatment."
"That's still too much!"
Too many Vandal officers hadn't been diligent in memorizing the contingency codes. Code 835 was one of many possible emergency situations listed out in a disaster manual of the Mech Corps. The military truly thought about almost anything, considering that the unclassified portion of the disaster manual already exceeded over a thousand different codes!
While the rank-and-file weren't expected to memorize the codes by heart as they would simply be informed of their meaning when the commanding officer declared an emergency, the officers and chiefs should have known better!
Now that the acolytes succeeded in assassinating their primary targets, they attempted to avoid retaliation as best as they could in order to sow more chaos!
"Sir, severe cases of sabotage has been detected on the Ascendant, the Finmoth Regal and the Linever Swan! Their FTL drives blew apart and their power reactor's containment has been damaged! The surviving engineers have immediately initiated emergency shutdowns for their sips. All three ships are dead in space!"
More bad news! Two important combat carriers and one extremely vital logistics ship turned from functional starships into vulnerable metal prisons!
"Assign three combat carriers to cover one ship each! Inform the rest to standby and deploy their spaceborn mechs to cover against a possible pirate attack!"
"Sir, Captain Rakeshir informs us that the Antecedent's power reactor is reaching critical levels! Their chief engineer is dead and their remaining engineers all suffered severe wounds in their attempts to put down the chief engineer's assassin! He intends to give the order to abandon ship!"
Major Verle grimaced even more. Even if their most senior ship captain managed to survive, the crisis had reached such a dire level at the Antecedent that they were about to write off a precious combat carrier!
"Reply with an acknowledgement and tell him that he has full discretion over the matter!"
While the Vandals buckled and heaved due to this crisis, the Swordmaidens suffered comparably worse! Three of their vessels already started sputtering and faltering as large heat signatures emanated from their engineering bays. Escape pods and hastily launched mechs escaped the doomed carriers as fast as they could. If not for the abundant amount of safety mechanisms built into even the cheaper models of power reactors, the Swordmaidens would never have enough time to complete their evacuation!
Even then, the predominant evacuees consisted of the female Swordmaidens. As for their male enslaved technical personnel, they weren't allowed to flee before every other Swordmaiden made it out!
By the time the three precious Swordmaiden carriers blew up, hundreds of slaves and scores of Swordmaidens failed to make it out in time!
Perhaps the only consolation was that their pirate allies actually lost less officers and chiefs than the Vandals. Not only had the Church of Haatumak assigned fewer acolytes to stalk the Swordmaidens, but Commander Lydia and most of their senior officers possessed extremely good battle reflexes! Their robust, genetically modified bodies also managed to withstand the energy wave attacks, causing them to fall into a temporary coma instead of becoming permanently brain dead!
Ves started to harbor some suspicions about the strange mode of attack. He understood why the acolytes didn't carry any weapons. Their light garments and lack of equipment facilitated their stealth. Yet where did the energy wave attacks come from?
After he listened to the reports that poured in from the other ships, he suddenly found that the others hadn't detected any purple waves. Those struck by the attacks never saw them coming, and witnesses stated that they all saw the officers and chiefs collapse like a puppet whose strings were cut!
"Is it my vision?"
Ves realized that he had only been able to see the energy waves due to his spiritual vision!
The implications dawned on him. The Church of Haatumak and by extension the Five Scrolls Compact managed to find a way to weaponize spirituality!
The only good news was that once the acolytes unleashed their energy wave attacks, they lost all of their accumulation. They couldn't attack again and possessed no other weapons. Even if they picked up the pistols of the fallen officers, the weapons were biometrically locked to their owners.
The only way the acolytes could do more damage was to activate their hidden bombs and lead the Flagrant Vandals in a merry chase.
"Keep hunting down the rats! Scour our ships from top to bottom at least thrice! Don't let any of these infiltrators alive!"
Still, the loss of the Antecedent, the crippling of two more vital starships and the death of so many leaders among the Flagrant Vandals definitely set them back a lot!
As for Lydia's Swordmaidens, while they mostly managed to chop or shoot the acolytes apart before they could inflict too many casualties, the loss of three entire carriers impacted them hugely as they experienced an acute shortage of ships!
While both sides had been able to launch their spaceborn mechs or threw out their landbound mechs into space in a hurry, all of those mechs lost their motherships and became homeless!
Without a ship to berth in, The Vandals and Swordmaidens wouldn't be able to bring these homeless mechs to the Aeon Corona System. They urgently needed to obtain more ships!
Major Verle already started studying the local plot. While all of the pirate vessels drawn to the debris field noted the strange setbacks suffered by the Vandals and the Swordmaidens, they mostly returned to looting the debris field without a care.
"Time to grab some new ships." He muttered.