Zonrad paced behind the gunners with his back arched straight and his arms folded behind his back.
His commanding demeanor caused them to be on their best behavior as they supervised the positron beam turrets.

Right now, an enormous swarm of sandman drones attempted to attack the flagship Archangel Battle Group.

Unfortunately, they were so weak that a single destroyer could wipe them all off the face of the galaxy!

The only reason why the sandman drones were allowed to approach the battleship to begin with was because the CFA needed to make a show out of crushing the sandmen.

Though the CFA did not really care too much about public relations, it didn ’t hurt to remind the space peasants who protected them at night.

The states that governed much of humanity could only play their games as long as the CFA remained vigilant and continued to fulfill its noble mission.

Lieutenant Zonrad Reze twitched a smile as he observed the performance of the positron beam turrets shooting down the sandman drones.

To deal with a swarm of small craft analogues, the Karaton Dwight possessed better means of wiping them out.
If Admiral Teyrach wanted to, he could have just ordered the launch of a number of burst missiles to deal a huge amount of area damage!

Though the damage of these missiles was very dispersed, it was more than enough to wipe out billions of sandman drones in an instant!

Since this star system was the capital of the sandman empire, no one was surprised to encounter so much opposition.

In fact, they already expected something of this nature.
From the beginning of this retribution mission, the Archangel Battle Group encountered far too little opposition.

The star systems under the control of the sandman race had been stripped to the bone.
Every sandman leader that used to occupy these star systems were nowhere to be seen.

The exobiologists and other experts in charge of analyzing the sandmen made some conclusions.

Much of the sandmen had been sent to assault human space.
This much was already obvious.

However, there was a significant possibility that a portion of their strength would be diverted to protect the sandman emperor.

The opposition the Karaton Dwight and her escorts faced proved this prediction right.

The sandman emperor apparently concentrated a huge amount of sandmen in this single star system.
Evidently, it was smart enough to prepare for the inevitable response for its actions.

Unfortunately, it looked down on the CFA.
Even if Admiral Teyrach dispersed some of the elements of the Archangel Battle Group to sweep through every sandman star system, what he brought to this location was enough to crush all opposition!

Zonrad stepped behind one of his subordinates and slapped the man behind the head.

”Straighten your back and pay more attention Mr.
Johnson! We are making history here by crushing the center of the sandman empire! ”

The gunner suppressed his fear and frustration towards his superior and straightened his posture.

In fact, Johnson had only slumped as much as anyone did when they sat behind a bank of terminals for over three hours.

It didn ’t help that the positron beam turrets didn ’t require their input.
Monodwell automatically targeted the sandman drones and operated the weapons to shoot down swathes of them with unerring accuracy!

The gunners could never come close to matching the extreme accuracy and efficiency exhibited by this super intelligence!

Therefore, the spacers in charge of servicing and operating the positron beam turrets mostly stood by and allowed Monodwell to exert complete control over them during battle.

Naturally, the gunners could always override Monodwell ’s control the moment something anomalous took place.

Humans must always be in ultimate control of their own weapons.
This was a basic principle that the CFA never forgot.

Zonrad and every other Fleeter did not expect the sandmen to be able to interfere with Karaton Dwight ’s state-of-the-art systems.
Even if no human spacer manned their stations on the battleship, Monodwell would easily be able to take over their roles!

One of the gunners sneezed.

Arzo! ” Zonrad stormed over the offending spacer and slapped the man in the face! ”Your conduct is unbecoming of a Fleeter! You have just earned yourself a demerit! ”

He continued to watch over his men like a hawk, preventing them from relaxing during the entire engagement!

Though every spacer of the CFA enjoyed a lot of enhancements, it was impossible to treat them too extravagantly.
None of them possessed the focus and concentration to remain attentive for over eight hours!

It took this much time to wipe out the sandman swarms orbiting the capital planet of the sandman empire.

Even Zonrad had begun to see this operation as a chore.

The sandmen were unimaginably weak.
Though they had the power to overrun many third-rate states, their lack of development and intelligent direction wasted much of their potential.

The crude sandman drones never stood a chance of scratching the coating of the Karaton Dwight!

As the final tide of sandman drones met its end, the Karaton Dwight and her escort ships moved into a lower orbit of the capital planet.

The large, heavy gravity planet beneath the warships looked overwhelmingly barren at first glance.
If not for the strange artificial-looking cubes, spheres and other geometric structures dotting the landscape, Zonrad might have mistaken it as a lifeless ball of dirt!

What happened next was out of Zonrad ’s area of responsibility.
While the starboard positron beam turrets were able to fire upon targets on the surface, they weren ’t the best tools for the job.

This time, Admiral Teyrach evidently decided to speed up the extermination, because the Karaton Dwight and the other escort ships all opened fire with their kinetic cannons!

Instantly, the artificial sandman structures on the surface were wiped out from settlement to settlement!

With all of the warships in the star system splitting up the work, it did not take too long to demolish each and every settlement.

Finally, an enormous pyramid had been left for last.
According to prior intelligence, the enormous, six-sided amalgamation of sand was the ’palace ’ of the sandman emperor!

The CFA expected the pyramid to lift up in the air to meet the Archangel Battle Group in battle.

The pyramid was so large that it would have forced the Karaton Dwight to resort to other weaponry if it joined the attacking sandman swarms!

Yet during the entire time the battle group wiped out the defenders, the sandman on the surface remained dormant and unmoving.

This strange pattern of behavior disconcerted Zonrad and some of his fellow spacers.

Was the sandman emperor really so stupid to leave itself defenseless against the CFA?

Zonrad didn ’t know.
He wasn ’t involved with the affairs concerning the sandmen, and he hadn ’t bothered to read up on them because he knew they were too weak.

He graciously gave his men some reprieve, though only because his superior ordered him to rotate the shift.

In any case, most of the Fleeters long lost their excitement about destroying the capital of the sandman empire.

A weak opponent never excited them.
This was because the Independent Evaluation System always rewarded the minimum amount of merits when bullying weak opponents!

Only by fighting the strong would the Fleeters be able to earn an abundant amount of merits!

No matter their backgrounds, the only way for them to augment themselves and rise up the ranks was by earning lots of merits.

With the Independent Evaluation System in place, those participating in battles always received the exact amount of merits they deserved.

His scowl deepened as he observed the final moment of the pyramid ’s existence.

Through the data presented by the terminals, Zonrad learned that every single grain of material consisted of an exotic substance.

Not a single piece of mundane sand or other junk could be found in the pyramid ’s structure.

The closer to the center, the greater the quality of materials.

Ordinarily, bringing so many energetic exotics together would doubtlessly lead to explosions, energy discharges and other anomalies.

However, the sandmen were somehow able to contain the effects of their own bodies and prevent the exotics from interacting with each other!

This was a very curious quirk about the sandmen, but sadly the CFA had already researched this property to death.

There was no reason to keep the pyramid enact.
The abundant amount of high-grade exotics concentrated in the center did not attract their interest at all.

The sandmen emperor must be crushed, and it was better to do it sooner rather than later!

Once the Karaton Dwight orbited straight above the pyramid, the large structure finally reacted.

An enormous energy beam shot out from the top without any warning! The beam instantly crashed against the keel of the Karaton Dwight!

Such an energy discharge was enough to scour the life of an entire continent!

Even though the battleship endured an enormous blow, Zonrad did not even blink at this response.

It would have been strange if the sandman emperor did not strike a last blow.

Against an attack of this magnitude, the Karaton Dwight did not even bother to activate her shields or other active defensive measures.
Her armor, which consisted entirely of high-grade exotics, was more than sufficient enough to resist this attack!

Once the energy beam puttered out, the stricken surface displayed no damage at all aside from some damage to the coating.

Even then, the coating automatically regenerated once the attack was over.

The sandman emperor failed to inflict any meaningful damage to the battleship!

”It ’s time to end this. ” Zonrad whispered in a bored tone.

After showing off her invincibility, the Karaton Dwight finally launched her counterattack.

A main cannon turret aimed downwards and targeted the pyramid.
A huge projectile spat out from one of the ship-sized gun barrels without any warning!

The pyramid and the surrounding surface instantly blew up as the projectile thudded deep into the surface of the planet!

The enhanced defenses of the pyramid amounted for nothing against the awesome firepower of a battleship!

In fact, Zonrad already knew that the main cannon deliberately held back much of its damage.
It only fired at a fraction of its power in order to launch the simplest and cheapest projectile.

The effect was already enough.
The surface of the planet looked as if an enormous asteroid impacted the surface!

The entire heavy gravity planet underwent huge ecological changes due to this enormous impact!

If the Karaton Dwight had fired on a planet inhabited by humans, then the Big Two would have instantly condemned the entire battle group!

Such awesome power should never be directed against humans!

Of course, the Karaton Dwight already scanned the planet for possible human lifesigns.
If the sandmen captured and brought back even a single living human, Admiral Teyrach would have never ordered his battleship to attack the surface so unscrupulously.

Now that the sandman emperor was presumed dead, the warships began to scan the entire planet down to its core.

A few small concentrations of sandmen managed to live, but none of them possessed the energy of a high caste member of their race.

There was no need to bother with cleaning up these remnants.

The CFA could just issue some missions to the space peasants to sweep up the remains of the sandman empire.

Just as Zonrad received an order to lock the positron beam turrets, an alarm suddenly screeched across the entire battle group!

The Karaton Dwight detected a huge amount of energy from the planet!

As Zonrad tried to make sense of what was happening, the planet exploded into pieces, turning into countless streams of sand that instantly approached the orbiting fleet!

The warships of the Archangel Battle Group instantly activated their defenses and discharged some of their main armaments!

However, there wasn ’t enough time to fire some of their main armaments! The planet was also far too close for the ships to launch their antimatter missiles and other planet-destroying weapons!

The streams of sand were not only vast and numerous, they also converged extremely fast upon the warships! Thougt the Karaton Dwight alone managed to diminish a third of the total mass of attacking streams, she simply hadn ’t been prepared to kill an entire heavy gravity planet ’s worth of sandmen!

Within just fifteen seconds, the seemingly-living planet succeeded in gulping the entire fleet in orbit!

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