Every human who watched the broadcast of the CFA warfleet witnessed the planet coming to life!

Not only that, they saw how quickly the enormous mass of sand and other substances engulfed the majestic battleship and her powerful escorts without being stopped!

Though the CFA ’s desperate, AI-driven counterattack managed to wipe out enough sandmen to constitute two standard planets, the sandmen had plenty left to complete their sneak attack!

”How could the CFA have failed to detect that the planet consisted entirely of sandmen?! ” Miles Tovar wailed.
”Their scanners are cutting edge! The sandmen are too primitive! Such a huge mass of sandmen should have never been able to hide their energy signatures! ”

”Maybe you aren ’t giving the sandman enough credit. ” Ves replied in a muted tone.
”Since the sandmen were willing to provoke our race, they should have been prepared for our response! We should never underestimate our enemies no matter how weak they appear! ”

Though he looked numb, he was anything but unaffected.
The huge reversal shocked him to his core!

Unlike most people, Ves instantly associated this massive trap to Sigrund!

Was this what the sentient AI prepared all these years since it escaped the Starlight Megalodon?

All Ves could say was that this attack was far too bold! Only an inhuman artificial entity like Sigrund would have the guts to target a powerful element of the CFA!

The planet managed to engulf an entire battleship and all of her escorts by virtue of its enormous amount of sandmen!

Ves didn ’t even know how the sandmen managed to form so many sandmen and sustain them all in a single place! The requirements to sustain so many sandmen and keep them in a dormant and undetectable state was unimaginably difficult!

The sandmen never exhibited such a high degree of sophistication! This was why Ves instantly concluded that Sigrund was the mastermind!

As a former super processor adapted to perform human research from the Starlight Megalodon, Sigrund doubtlessly possessed a high degree of mastery of human technology!

Not only that, the AI was intimately familiar with the CFA!

Perhaps Sigrund launched the entire sandman invasion in a gambit to capture a CFA battleship!

The thought of Sigrund gaining control over the Karaton Dwight frightened Ves out of his wits!

What was Sigrund trying to accomplish? Was he plotting the downfall of the CFA?

That was pure madness!

Even if the AI managed to capture a battleship, the counterattack from the CFA would doubtlessly be fierce!

It would be hard for Sigrund to hide all of its traces!

While Ves and everyone else remained horrified, the huge streams of sand piled up on each other and formed a new, diminished planet, encapsulating the CFA warfleet like a coffin!

”Is this the end?! ”

”How could a mighty warfleet fall into a trap?! ”

Several minutes passed as the onlookers observed the new planet with horror.
Hardly anyone questioned why the broadcast kept running.
A disaster like this should have compelled the CFA to cut off the feed.

While several people already started panicking for all kinds of reasons, Ves pushed down his speculations and waited for something to happen.

Eventually, the planet began to shake.
Earthquakes started to form over the surface while energy escaped from the cracks.

Soon enough, the entire planet blew up yet again!

This time, the violent explosion was much more uncontrolled! A wash of energy vaporized or pushed out all of the sandman with incredible violence!

Not a single sandman managed to recover! The broken chunks flung away into space as not a single grain of sand managed to retain any signs of life!

In the center of the former planet, a familiar fleet reemerged.

Bright white energy shields enveloped the Karaton Dwight and all of her escorts, shielding them from damage! Thick lines of energy connected them together, appearing to spread the burden between all of the vessels so that no single shield risked getting overloaded!

”The warfleet is intact! ”

Hardly anyone could have imagined that even the smaller destroyer class vessels managed to escape getting crushed by an entire planet ’s worth of sandmen!

As someone who understood the power and technology of the CFA a little better, Ves was not surprised the warfleet managed to survive this surprise attack.

Every CFA warship was built to withstand the toughest weapons employed by humans and aliens.

Even if the surprise attack managed to destroy the smaller escorts, a battleship like the Karaton Dwight would never have fallen so easily!

An outdated vessel such as the Starlight Megalodon was not as comparable as a modern battleship in terms of defense!

With the connected shield technology demonstrated by the CFA, it was no problem for the Karaton Dwight to lend its abundant defensive power to her escorts and vice versa!

The energy shields eventually flickered off, causing the ships to reveal their true appearances.

Compared to before, none of the vessels escaped unscathed this time.

Some of the destroyers showed some tears and deformations.
A few compartments had doubtlessly been breached, which meant that the CFA had definitely suffered some casualties this time!

The cruisers were better off.
Aside from some dents and missing surface modules, the hull armor of these warships mainly remained intact.

As for the Karaton Dwight, not a single imperfection marred her surface.

Ves sighed with envy.
The power of a peak mech could not be compared to the might of a human battleship!

”Not even god mechs can match this performance! ” Pachtold Tovar exclaimed.

”Idiot! ” Cherie slapped Pachtold ’s back.
”God mechs are unfathomable! According to the rumors, they have the ability to destroy a planet as well! ”

”Nonsense! ” Gilbert Tovar threw up his hands.
”A mech can only hold so much power.
Can ’t you recognize that the MTA deliberately hypes the power of god mechs? No god pilot can stand up to a battleship! ”

Ves couldn ’t help but pitch in.
”The true power of a god mech piloted by a god pilot is unclear.
Technology is constantly advancing.
What was true fifty years ago might not be true today.
However, the same applies to modern battleships.
Both god mechs and battleships are constantly getting better over time as long humanity keeps innovating! ”

The Tovars all fell into silence at his insightful words.

”Which side are you leaning on, Mr.
Larkinson? ” Miles Tovar curiously asked.

”From my limited experiences and understanding of mechs and battleships, I think they both have their merits.
However, comparing the battle power of a single god mech to the battle power of a single battleship isn ’t necessarily useful.
Think of how many god pilots are known to exist and think of how many battleships the Big Two managed to build over the years. ”

Every member of his design team looked uncomfortable.

Regardless of the might of these two weapon platforms, everyone knew that one was much less prevalent than the other!

It took an unimaginable amount of resources to construct a battleship.
Practically the entire structure consisted of high-grade exotics with amazing properties!

Building a single battleship consumed as much resources as several first-class mech corps!

Nonetheless, these battleships lasted for centuries without a problem.
As long as they received continuous upgrades, it was no problem for the CFA to field older battleship classes.

By drawing upon a portion of the gigantic amount of resources in human space, the CFA managed to build a considerable amount of battleships!

No one knew how many battleships and even larger warships the CFA managed to accumulate.
Some guessed that the number surpassed a million, while some lowered their estimates to a hundred-thousand or less.

Regardless of the truth, there was no doubt that the CFA could easily protect the extremely lengthy borders of human space!

”The CFA can easily construct a thousand battleships in a matter of years. ” Ves spoke with certainty.
”Can the MTA elevate enough mech pilots into god pilots in the same period of time? ”

Everyone helplessly shook their heads.

The advancement of high-ranking mech pilots was always difficult.
Only a small amount of lucky and talented mech pilots managed to take the next step.

Only around a hundred known god pilots existed throughout human space.
It took four centuries to facilitate the rise of so few god pilots!

Even though mechs were rather new and immature compared to warships, no one believed the mech community would be able to boost their emergence rate!

Since everyone at the design lab were mech designers, they didn ’t want mechs to lose out against warships.

This time though, everyone felt relieved that Karaton Dwight managed to survive this disaster.

At the battleship, Lieutenant Zonrad Reze was barking out orders to keep his men busy.

”Inspect the integrity of every single component! ” He shouted and gesticulated his arms in fury.
”I ’ll have your hides if you have missed any damage! ”

As an officer of the CFA, he was indignant that the sandmen managed to humiliate the Archangel Battle Group!

He knew that this action was being broadcasted to the public.
To allow the space peasants to witness this disgrace was intolerable!

”We ’re lucky that we managed to salvage some of our pride. ” He muttered under his breath.

Conrad had no doubt that the Karaton Dwight would be able to endure an attack of this degree.
This was one of the reasons why he wanted to serve on a battleship in the first place.

However, it was a very real question whether the smaller ships would be able to survive unscathed.
The connected shield technology could only lend out so much protection at a time.

The eventual outcome was worse than he hoped.
Some of the destroyers patrolling in the periphery of the formation received less protection than ideal, causing the sandmen to penetrate their shields to a modest degree.

”Monodwell, how many casualties have we suffered? ”

[You are not privy to this information.]

”Tch. ”

It was worth a try.

”Monodwell, how have you judged my performance during this combat action? ”

[You have demonstrated the pride and valor expected of an officer of the Common Fleet Alliance.
Your calm and exercise of authority has made your section in one of the best-performing units of the Auxiliary Gunnery department.
Since the current combat action has not yet concluded, the calculation of merits awarded for your exemplary performance is still forthcoming.]

”Huh?! ” Zonrad scratched his head.
”Please confirm, Monodwell! ”

[Rest assured that you are 100 percent certain to receive merits and additional rewards, lieutenant.]

”This.. ” Hope began to well up in his eyes.

Zonrad was not entirely sure whether his conduct deserved distinction.
He did not behave much differently than usual today.
It was just that this time he faced a serious alien threat.

”This is it! ” He hissed and grinned! ”I ’m no peacetime officer! As long as I ’m in the thick of battle, I ’ll surely be able to vindicate myself! ”

Only battle allowed him to rise up the ranks! This was the conclusion he reached after Monodwell informed him that he received a positive evaluation!

While nothing was set in stone yet at this point, Conrad did not doubt the super AI at all! Monodwell was completely honest and impartial! Its programming made sure that it was literally incapable of lying to humans! At most, it could only withhold information if the Fleeter lacked the necessary permissions.

”Monodwell! Keep an eye on me! I ’ll surely be able to prove myself again! ”

[Please endeavor to commit your heart and soul to the glory of the Common Fleet Alliance!]

While Zonrad started to fantasize about his future success, back at Cloudy Curtain Ves switched off the projection of the broadcast.

”There ’s nothing more to see here. ” He spoke.
”Although something unexpected happened, the CFA has succeeded in destroying the capital of the sandman empire.
It won ’t take long for them to sweep the outlying star systems of the aliens, thereby causing the invading forces to lose long-term support! ”

With the completion of the CFA ’s mission, every human pulled in the Sand War finally spotted a light at the end of the tunnel! The endless flood of sandman fleets must surely reach a limit at some point!

The question was how long the Bright Republic and other beleaguered states had to hold the line.

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