Withering fire from the three surviving anti-aircraft emplacements had luckily managed to shoot down two of the Gigants, before the two remaining hoverships made short work of the guns with their pulse lasers. Doing that, however, had delayed the ghorkovs for a precious few seconds.
They had to have flown all the way to the edge of the Bremen dome and then turned east, flying between the buildings to avoid being spotted in the final approach to the Host Station, while at the same time one massive wave of drone-copters kept his attention focused in the northern battle lines.
Ballsy. And it had nearly worked, too!
As it was, they had been detected only upon reaching the inner defense line, so SDU 7 had all of thirty five seconds to beam in a couple squadrons of missile tanks, leave Cuatro and Nam in charge of things up north and activate the shield.
The thrumming of energy pulses hammering the barrier was his cue to close his eyes and initiate the dive.
After the usual dizzying descent through electronic nothingness, his consciousness found itself in control of one of the tank drones. The rest of the machines had already started launching their payloads at the Gigants and he was quick to follow suit. Behaving in anomalous fashion was a surefire way to give away his presence, if the ghorkovian operators were paying attention.
And, considering how very canny these guys had proven just now, that was a sucker's bet.
So far, the Gigants were ignoring the storm of depleted uranium pellets and high explosive warheads that the tank drones and the Host Station's turrets were sending their way. The saucer gunships were a fairly tough design and the kyternesians had probably surmised that they would last longer against the drones than the Host Station would against the Gigants.
Threat analysis said that they were right, so it was up to him to prove them wrong.
Of the predecessors, three had found themselves in similar situations. Two of them had managed to beat the odds, but one hadn't. SDU 7 nodded mentally. Leaving Cuatro in the central databank, while a situation not unlike the battle that had claimed his life unfolded, would have been a mistake. He didn't need the distraction.
In the end, it took him all of twelve seconds to analyze it all, from the telemetry of the rockets to the enemy fire rate. A top of the line AI could have done the same, perhaps, but it would have taken quite a bit longer, perhaps whole minutes.
Even the best machines in Central couldn't quite follow in real time the shortcuts and leaps of intuition of the young humans that had been chosen to become Synaptic Donor Units. And SDU 7 was the last and best of them all.
He gave the command and the missile tank launched a new projectile, guided according to the highly specific data provided by its pilot. It hit the left Gigant thrice as fast as sound and impacted near the primary energy emitter, in a spot previously damaged by a different missile. The detonation of the missile shattered the main lens of the laser, just before it could release a new blast, and left a great deal of energy free to propagate omnidirectionally.
The frontal third of the hovership disintegrated in a violent explosion and the rest fell from the sky, like a puppet with cut strings.
The bombardment of the last ghorkovian vessel faltered briefly. Then, it turned its weaponry against the drone tanks, blowing up eight tanks in half as many seconds. A mistake.
Ten seconds after the destruction of its partner, the Gigant resumed its attack. Someone in the kyternesian command center must have realized what had happened and ordered the operator to stick to the plan, but it was too late now. The last remaining gunship would not be able to breach the shield before being shot down.
SDU 7 ended the dive and returned to his body, cradled by the life support systems in the heart of the Host Station. With a sigh, the young man decided to take a breather. The electronic duplicates of his deceased predecessors could handle things in the frontline for a couple of minutes.
He closed his eyes, cut the info feeds and activated the feeding system. A tube filled his mouth with chicken flavored nutripaste (his favorite!) and then washed it down with water. SDU 7 felt the impacts against the shield end for good, just as he started to enjoy the pleasant buzz of the stimulants.
He allowed himself a smile.
Note: A number of technical liberties were taken in the writing of this piece.
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