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Ravens of Eternity
Chapter 426 - 426 The Center of the Galaxy, Pt 1

426 The Center of the Galaxy, Pt Galactic Center of the Milky Way

Spinning all around the bright glowing center was a massive cloud of dust and debris. It swirled around the center itself, and engulfed countless solar systems and star clusters within itself. More than that, the cloud helped obscure the glow from those countless stars.

Its brightness was truly blinding. Perhaps painfully so.

Entire stars orbited in long ellipses around the very center, a few with incredible speeds exceeding 20 million meters per second. Their combined glow absolutely illuminated everything all around them. Their combined heat obliterated everything else.

Except, of course, for the very center itself.

Instead, the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* at the center of the galaxy absorbed all of the light and energy around it hungrily. The black hole’s rapidly spinning accretion disk shone with white-hot intensity as it was itself consumed.

Defiantly orbiting the black hole’s accretion disk appeared to be a massive octahedral space station. It was orbiting in a perfect circle, and seemed absolutely resistant to the black hole’s gravitational pull. Or, at least, seemed indifferent to it.

More than that, it was resisting the sheer amount of radiation that bathed absolutely everything else. In essence, the intense heat cooked everything all around for dozens of parsecs in every direction.

But not this station.


And equally as strange, the heavily reinforced seed-shaped object headed towards the station as well. It was far larger than the usual ones that Orsethii used. This one had numerous protective layers around and in front of it. Its front nose glowed brightly from the incredible heat to the point where layer after layer burned off as each moment passed.

As it cruised over towards the space station with unbelievable speeds, more of its outer shell tore off and split apart. Great rifts began to split across its surface, and threatened to break it all apart completely.

But before it could be ripped apart, the seed maneuvered itself into the station’s own gravitational field. It passed through some kind of dampening field, which somehow negated the intense radiation field, then got caught inside the station’s gravitational pull.

Then the seed then joined the station’s orbit as its remaining few outer shells cooled. Their dull orange glows soon faded to dark reds as the moments slipped by.

Just as it hit a stable orbital speed, space flashed and warped all around the seed. Thousands of Einherjar ships teleported into the station’s orbital zone fractions of a moment later. They were joined by the Corvus Republic, who were among the first ones through. And despite the size of their combined fleet, the station beneath them far overshadowed them.

Every officer on the tactical bridge was agape in awe, or muttering at the station’s size.

According to the initial analytical reports splashed on the tacmap itself, it was wider than Gaea at 13,000 kilometers. Its depth was equally as wide, and its height was nearly twice as long at 20,000 km.

It took a few moments for anyone to break the silence. Most simply couldn’t comprehend what they were even looking at.

“Don’t tell me that base goes all the way to the core,” said Anali. “If so, then by the time we find whoever this benefactor is and stop him, the galaxy will be long since dead. And I’m not just talking about time dilation here.”

Many of the others immediately agreed audibly while a few hushed conversations erupted among some. None of them could really find whoever they were looking for inside of a station that large – that was an impossibility.

Unless of course, they committed to a generations-long search. Which they weren’t. Time was of the absolute essence. Who knows how many countless billions suffered and died as they stood idle these few moments?

“Is there any way to even destroy this thing?” asked Halbrecht. “None of our ships have planet cracking capabilities. Maybe Thanatos. Maybe.”

“I agree,” replied Freya. “I’m guessing the best we could do is barely punch through that surface, even with Thanatos at full power. And I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that who or what we’re looking for is deep in the very center of that thing.”

“I am calculating similarly,” added Raijin. “No matter how well I tweak the Republic’s sensor probes, I cannot see anywhere inside the station’s inner core. It appears to be 1500 km in diameter, and is highly shielded and protected.”

“Alright, what about the rest of it?” asked Sin. “Looks like some kind of seamless armor plating on the outside, but it can’t be that all the way to the core, right?”

Raijin compiled her data and created a quick holographic cutaway of the station itself. It held the numerous layers between the outer shell and the impenetrable inner core. Then, she displayed it onto the tacmap itself, so every officer could easily see.

Of course, the analysts and tacticians on the tactical bridge also got their copies, along with the raw data the Republic had collected.

“There is indeed an armor-like outer crust,” Raijin began. “It is similar to the earth’s… er, Gaea’s crust. But it is 100 km thick uniformly, and packed tighter. Instead of the predominant elements of oxygen, silicon, and aluminum, this outer layer is composed mostly of tungsten, titanium, and carbon.

“All other elements do exist in the mix, but at greatly diminishing returns. Some elements seem to be equally as rare as on Gaea. Gold, for instance.”

“A-a hundred kilometers, you said?” Halbrecht muttered. “Our guns can’t possibly get through that.”

“We might if we concentrated fire,” countered Anali. “Though it might take every gun we’ve got.”

“And if it’s spacious enough inside, maybe we could send in some fighters or something,” said Freya. “Mecha. Send mecha. They can wreck any soft targets inside. Like maybe highly volatile power generators or something?”

“There are plenty of soft targets beneath,” Raijin answered. “In fact, there are countless power sources scattered all over the place. As you can see, this station has numerous layers. Each one has all manner of technological devices scattered everywhere.

“I’m able to tell what some of them do. This, for example, appears to be some kind of energy conversion engine. It is directly connected to an energy bank a hundred kilometers away, and some kind of energy absorption device that is also a hundred kilometers away.

“I wish I could tell you how they work, but I do not.”

Raijin gave a great sigh. If she had more time to study them, she was sure she could easily reverse-engineer them. Then again, all life’s problems could be solved in that way, if one had all the time in the galaxy.

“More to the point,” she continued, “the station has no weak points to destroy, no capacity for a cascade of failure. Everything is redundant many hundreds of times over. There are countless power loops, intelligence circuits, databanks, communications nodes, fabricators, and so on.

“Not only that, but everything is packed so tightly that it would be impossible to maneuver inside of the station. Unless, of course, you were my size.”

“Damnit,” said Freya. “Why can’t it ever be easy?”

“So that implies that everything that really is critical to the station is in that impenetrable core,” said Claire. “You mentioned all those different systems, but none seemed to cater specifically towards life support, right? No apartments or food processing or medical or hygiene facilities and systems. Or am I wrong in thinking that everyone on that station is hiding in the core?”

“I’ll agree with you there,” Colviss chimed in. “Except I have one really big question – how do any of them get out? I’m not seeing any exits anywhere in the data. Not a single hangar bay or docking collar in sight.”

“That is correct,” Raijin replied. “The surface is completely uniform.”

“And maybe they don’t leave,” said Sin. “No need to. If they’ve got all that all around them, they don’t need anything else, right? Literally sitting in the center of the galaxy, watching it all spin around them, gobbling up whatever raw resources they need from all around. Best view anywhere, to be honest.”

“Could be hollow in that inner core,” Freya said after a moment. “Maybe they live on that inner surface, and they port ships in and out of the middle? Seems plausible, right?”

A few muttered in agreement.

None could debate it further as orange emergency lights splashed all around the tactical bridge. It was joined by a medium-alert klaxon that jolted everyone to immediate action.

An alert flashed on all their screens, and on the tacmap.


Surface movement detected

On the tacmap, the space station’s surface began to move and shift. Not the entire surface, but only one of its eight sides. Specifically, the one closest to the Einherjar – the section they were orbiting right over.

The surface rippled outward from the center, but with such force that some portions of the surface were flung off. It almost seemed like it was shedding off flakes of its surface, and flung large shards of composite materials into the air.

And those shards didn’t fall back down like the others – instead, they stayed up in the air right at the peak. Sand-like particles began to pour off their topsides and fell back down towards the station’s surface. Most of what was on them slid off, but left large metal slabs floating high above the surface.

What was left behind hovering in space appeared to be dozens upon dozens of octahedral ships – the Benefactor’s fleet. They formed out of the rippling surface so naturally and seamlessly that the sight utterly frightened many of the Einherjar’s officers.

Alarm swept through Raijin as she realized what was actually happening.

“The crust isn’t a crust!” she said. “It’s a nanite soup filled with raw materials! The station’s surface is eight massive fabrication pools next to each other! And they have more than enough to make countless fleets.”

All watched with awe as more and more ships rose up into the sky, propelled by the rapid rippling of the gargantuan fabrication pool below them.

Over a dozen devastators rose up from the soup. They were accompanied by a hundred battleships, over a thousand cruisers, and thousands of destroyers and frigates.

On top of that, there were tens of thousands of fighters, mecha, and drones that swarmed the space between the larger ships.

The Einherjar found themselves completely outnumbered by more than 5 to 1 in the span of a few moments. And that was just from a few ripples from one of eight sides of the station. Some feared what would happen if the station went all out and churned out fleet after fleet on all sides.

They could be erased in mere moments.

“All hands, prepare for a fight!” Anali yelled over comms. “Move the fleet into a reactive Garuda formation, broadsides pointing at the station. Devastators have free facing choice. Bring your biggest guns to this fight – we’re gonna need ‘em!”

The Einherjar immediately shifted their positions as instructed. They moved into a sweeping formation that bared their most potent weapons toward the station. Or, more importantly, towards the station’s fleet that was forming up and advancing on their position.

“Weapons free!” commanded Halbrecht.

Numerous ships of the Einherjar immediately opened up their myriad weapon systems and rained destruction down on the ascending enemy fleet. They shot thick disintegration beams along with bright plasma lances and lacerated the enemy with unerring precision.

The benefactor’s fleet suffered a great deal of damage as the Einherjar’s overcharged weapons dug massive scars across their armor. Entire swaths were consumed by the beams or ripped apart by plasma with incredible ferocity.

They focused as much of their fire on the 12 enemy devastators, and raked their tough exterior shells as much as possible. The ships chewed into the devastators with pinpoint precision as deep as they could, and slagged their thick armor with prejudice.

But even that was far from enough.

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Ravens of Eternity Chapter 426 - 426 The Center of the Galaxy, Pt 1