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Chapter 87 - The War for Hells Valley

 Five wasteland airships tore through the clouds, revealing their grim outlines to the forest valley below. With the valley's mysterious veil pierced it stretched out below the airships, laid bare before their payload.

'Hell' was a poor name for this valley, for it was rife with underground rivers that nourished its foliage. Great trees bursting with life lives there, a sight rarely seen in the blasted landscape outside the elysian borders.

Several buildings in the elysian style rose from the valley's canopy, rising majestically toward the skies. Grasping towers stood vigil over the main compound, a grand construction peppered with elaborate sculptures. A semi-transparent shell hung over it, protecting the building from outside damage.

A small docking port hovered a hundred meters above, whereupon ten or so warships were stationed. A dangling spire at the center was the source of the compound's protective aura.

Most airships constructed in the elysian lands didn't function outside of the domain's borders. There were those warships that were specially blessed to allow them to work in the wastelands, however their energy was not limitless like the others. The tower at the center of the docks was a source of such energy, and through it the ships were able to maintain flight.

This was, of course, a treasure bestowed upon them from the gods. No human was capable of creating such a wondrous thing.

Wolfblade, wrapped in his large cloak and hidden beneath the layers of bandages, was a mysterious and unsettling character. Strange as he appeared, no one here dared question his orders or act in opposition. This operation was the Dark Atom's first direct assault on the elysian lands, and Wolfblade was here to see to it personally. He was the one who'd put the plan in motion, and he would see it through. It was the only way to ensure success.

"The valley's forces should return in about ten minutes. We have five minutes to get through their defenses. Commence the attack."

"Yes, sir!"

The Dark Atom's five ships quickly reached the valley. Once over the compound it immediately began unloading scores of disc-shaped objects from their holds. They fell like rain to the buildings below and stuck to the shield of light protecting them. Each metallic disc had a flashing light attached which pulsed with increasing frequency until at last-


All at once, the Dark Atom's enormous shaped charges detonated.

Fractures instantly raced across the translucent shell as thousands of pounds of explosive force assailed it. An unending series of bombings followed, with the crackling roar of machine guns spitting a tempest of bullets. The fractures increased.

Then, one of the ships released a concussive burst of blue light from a pulse cannon. The valley's defenses could take no more and were destroyed.

It'd taken less than ten seconds from start to finish - a fine display of Wolfblade's tactical abilities. Skycloud domain's advanced outpost was overcome without any wasted effort, as though Wolfblade knew their defensive capabilities like the back of his hand.

Hell's Valley and its garrison was blindsided by the sudden, dreadful assault.

When the alarms began to sound, the docks - and in fact the whole valley - descended into turmoil. One of the docked ships on standby reacted first and managed to disembark.

The jade-like ships of the elysians were gorgeous, standing in sharp contrast to the motley assortment of scrap that constituted wasteland airships. A spindle rose from the top of the warship around which coiled tens of thousands of sapphire bolts. Like a host of electric eels they slithered to the spindle's tip, then exploded out in a burst of electrical energy.


A hole appeared in the center of one of the enemy airships, molten edges dripping slag metal.

Elysian warships were powerful weapons of war, but the sneak attack had taken them by surprise. They were without command and caught unprepared. While it managed to get a shot off, this lone vessel quickly became the focus of the Dark Atom's remaining airships, which pummeled it with cannon fire. Its once beautiful exterior crumbled and burned.


At Wolfblade's command, the stranger in black leapt out of the airship. He tumbled from over three hundred meters in the air without rope or harness. Even the valley's instructors, strong as they were, would have faced fatal injury falling from such a height. Yet the black-robed stranger did not hesitate. He fell faster and faster, nearly breaking the sound barrier, closing in on the beleaguered elysian warship.

"Stop him!"

There weren't many left in the outpost, but those had stayed behind were seasoned warriors. The black-robed man's descent took only moment, but still the soldiers moved to react and intercept. They fired crossbows at the encroaching invader, bolts that were not only thicker than normal but also complex in their construction. A crystal set in the center of each shift shone with brilliant light, and they exploded fantastically when they hit their target.

The shadowy visitor ignored these terrifying explosive bolts. A series of blasts engulfed him, but he kept on perfect indifference. His large frame pierced the clouds of acrid smoke and crashed into the ship's highest point fist first.

Its mask cracked loudly, shattering into a storm of splinters from top to bottom. In less time than it took to gasp, the cracks spread to the deck and then the hull. Finally, with an earth-shuddering blast, the elysian warship snapped in half and erupted in flame.

It wasn't Skycloud's biggest warship, but it was still a mighty vessel several dozen meters long! Elysian equipment was known for its quality and durability, yet Wolfblade's henchmen cracked it apart with a single punch.

Hundreds of Dark Atom invaders began the full assault.

They jumped ship a couple hundred meters off the ground, but in contrast to the black-robed man from before, they each had gliders strapped to their backs. From below, it looked like a plague of bats descending on the valley.

Wolfblade pulled the first of his three swords free from its sheath. This one was unique constructed, with three blades arranged around a hollow center. It was an exquisite piece, but different from the weapons of the elysians. Theirs were typically created from jade-like material that was beautiful to behold, etched with artistically crafted designs.

Wolfblade's weapon was not a work of art, but highly functional. It was certainly no product of the elysian lands, but nor was it a weapon you could find in the wastelands.

That last one possibility. It had to be a weapon of the ancients, found in the ruins of their long-dead civilization.

Wolfblade pressed some level or switch, and the blades began to rotate. They spun so quickly it became impossible to differentiate one blade from the other, appearing only as a shimmering cylinder. A dazzling light radiated from the hollow center, bright as the wasteland sun. It stretched out fifteen meters toward the sky.

With both hands on the hilt of the sword, Wolfblade heaved it down onto the floating tower. Like a knife through paper, the light cut it right down the center.

With the tower destroyed, the docks were done for.

They'd only remained suspended over the valley thanks to the tower's mysterious energy. Robbed of this power, the docks - and indeed all the airships attached it - began to fail. Gravity regained its dominance and started to drag them toward the ground.

Dark Atom's leader did not pause to enjoy the view. A glider with a pair of portable jets launched Wolfblade forward. He swung his magnificent blade again, this time carving out a one hundred meter fissure in the fortress below.

With two swings of his sword Wolfblade had performed staggering feats!

Most important to understand was the fact that Wolfblade was no demonhunter. All of the power at his command did not come from any relic. In other words, all of incredible accomplishments were due to the might of his weapons, the technology he carried. With them he could outperform any number of demonhunters.

His assault was more than the elysians could fathom. How could a mere heathen command such incredible power?

The column of destructive light in Wolfblade's hand dissipated and the blades stopped rotating. As is true with many powerful tools, it required tremendous energy to use and a long time to recharge. It was best used to destroy fortified positions, not protracted engagements.

The Dark Atom had already achieved their goal. In destroying their ivory tower, the elysian dogs no longer had their warships to protect them. A second blow penetrated the valley's mighty defenses, giving them a way in.

Wolfblade returned the sword to its sheath. He then drew the second.

This one, like the first, was a product of ancient technology. It wasn't nearly as dramatic as the first, merely a high-frequency blade, but not to be underestimated. It vibrated at such a frequency that most average relics would be damaged or destroyed with a single blow.

"Advance. Seven minutes twenty seconds remaining."

"Heheh, plenty of time."

Buzzard let a contingent of soldiers through the fissure Wolfblade created. They were fast, too fast for the defenders to repel. By the time veterans gathered at the breach there were several dozen infiltrators already inside. Wolfblade, the black-robed man and the others began to battle the valley's few guardians.

Hell's Army was formidable, far superior to any rag-tag wasteland outfit. Yet despite the name, they were not a standard combat outfit, with only a thousand or soldiers ready to take up arms. Its three instructors had left with six hundred of those men, with the remainder being all that stood between the Dark Atom and control of the valley.

"Elysian dogs! Die!"

One of the invaders was a large man, protected beneath a heavy iron vest. A cigar smoked behind his scruffy beard, and the minigun in his grip screamed as it mowed through the defenders. He laughed maniacally as he swept the gun back and forth. The fires that belched from its barrels shone off his bronze, sweat-drenched skin and made his burly frame shudder with each shot. Though he seemed out of his mind, this half-mad soldier was an expert in the field of control. Round after round was spat from the massive gun, and each one found its mark in a soldier's head.

An elite marksman like him could single-handedly fight off a whole battalion if he had suitable cover. Not far away from him an old man faced another group of soldiers. They were closing in while he lazily pulled a vial of come chemical compound from his pockets. He flung it toward his foes with a slingshot.

As the small flask hit the ground, it belched a ball of fire several meters into the air. An area ten meters in diameter was engulfed in flames, melting anyone unfortunate enough to be caught inside.

In addition, the invaders were populated with several strong mutant soldiers. Halfway transformed between man and beast, they tore the elysians apart with tooth and claw.

So it went, with countless corpses marking each little victory.

The Dark Atom boasted many capable warriors, before even counting the likes of Wolfblade or his strange black-robed companion. There were all manner of fighters, all with different styles. However, the elysians did not sit idly b and welcome death. After all, they were veteran warriors themselves. Each darted around the battlefield, quick as lightning, piercing through the mutants' armor with their crossbows. Their weapons fired dozens of bolts in seconds and could punch through armor that would stop a blade, accurate as any rifle.

Intense combat followed.

Suddenly, Wolfblade's voice rang out through the compound. "The situation has changed! They'll be back earlier than expected, prepare to defend!"