Skyfire Avenue Chapter 621-630

Chapter 621: Scout, Hunt

Their new plan resulted in quite a lot of success. In under twelve hours they’d managed to hunt down and kill eight different kinds of aliens. Each one was unique, with different abilities. They encountered some that were fast, attacked at range, defense, and close combat.

The rule held true that an alien’s size corresponded to their strength. Across breeds, the larger they were the more damage they were capable of. They came in different shapes, too.

The Paragons were too overpowered for their purposes. Lan Jue and the Driver handled the creatures as they were found. They noted that none of them called for help, they just lashed out. It may have been, though, that they were underestimating Zeus-1’s small size. Lan Jue was relieved to discover the trend, it made their job much easier.

Battle also gave Lan Jue and the Driver a chance to practice their combined lightning. Of all the types they encountered, not a single alien was able to defend against it. One after another, their empowered thunderbolt Discipline destroyed the aliens. The yin-yang lightning destructive capabilities surprised everyone.
Especially for Lan Jue. Thunder essence had filtered into his abilities, infusing it with immortal qi and the echoes of empyreal lightning. His attacks were breathtakingly strong. His victims didn’t explode, they were disintegrated. Their size mean nothing in the face of Zeus’ punishing electric fire.

This did not mean Star Division’s scout team didn’t encounter problems. Space was choked with the creatures the closer they came to the galaxy’s center. Several times they had to break off a target because there were other aliens nearby.

Shadowing the monsters revealed that their targets were larger planets. Clearly they suspected those planets were more hospitable to life.

It was hard to guess how many of the creatures there were, but they could at least affirm that there were many different types. They encountered one that they didn’t dare engage. It had been too big a target, and the corrosive aura around it was powerful. They fled the instant it came into view.

It was three thousand meters long at least, with a long dark purple body. Great triangular scales covered it from head to tail. It looked like some sort of mutant, winged toad. They witnessed it belch an asteroid which struck a nearby small planet. The
crater was visible from hundreds of kilometers away.

This kind of alien had to be their equivalent of a Paragon.
They had no choice but to keep their distance and watch.

“We should find a place to rest for a while. People have been on edge for too long.” Lan Jue said to Xiaosu. Both of them were on the bridge.

For twenty-four hours straight they’d been hunting prey. Her day had been a blur of meditating to recover mental energy, then expending it to learn the intricacies of alien sentience. She continuously clouded them in similar psionic bursts to keep them hidden. Their achievements in the span of a day were outstanding. Lin Guoguo was able to perfectly mimic the pulse of several weaker aliens.

However, it was an exceedingly draining process for her. She couldn’t hold it for very long, only thirty minutes if she put all her focus towards it. Afterward she would need time to recover.

Su Xiaosu opened up a map of the area. With her knowledge of the Starfields, she was quickly able to identify a suitable planet.
“This planet used to belong to a pirate clan, but there are no signs of life now. It’s prone to magnetic storms, so the pirates abandoned it. We can rest and prepare there, the aliens won’t trouble us.”

“Alright,” Lan Jue affirmed with a nod.

Zeus-1 broke off course, and dove into a nearby asteroid field. Despite her exhaustion, Lin Guoguo remained attached to the helmet. When any sign of alien presence was detected, her immediately sent out a pulse to mask their passage.

Much to everyone’s relief, their trip to safe harbor went smoothly. They didn’t run into any aliens they couldn’t avoid. They arrived at the abandoned planet and touched down.

Their landing site was a small area ringed by mountains. Between natural cover and the Blinding Stone, they were well hidden.

As the engines cooled, Lan Jue sharply clapped his hands. “Alright, everyone take a breather. We’ll take turns on watch, I’ll start. Xiaosu, let’s take a look at the star maps.”
Lin Guoguo immediately removed the helmet and began to meditate. She would have more time to recover now. It was exhausting, but on the upside she could definitely sense her powers strengthening faster than mere cultivation.

Lan Jue looked over the maps. “How far are we from where the three main planets were,” he asked Xiaosu.

She indicated a space. “Another twenty four hours if we keep the same course. Direct flight will be closer to twelve.”

He nodded. “Alright, we’ll rest for a while then stick with the plan. Keep the same pace.”

The Accountant chimed in. “Should we send back what we learned on a UAV? They release electronic signatures, no signs of life. They shouldn’t be discovered by the enemy.”

Lan Jue nodded his way. “Very well, we’ll give it a try. At least we’ll see if this is a good method for passing information. If it does that’ll come in useful for future scout missions.”

“Alright, I’ll take care of it,” the Accountant replied.
The young genius was a lot more reliable after following Lan Jue around for so long, and especially since joining Star Division. The Accountant was now one of the most integral people on Lan Jue’s team. Every day he toiled without complaint, a far cry from the whining boy he used to be. Even the Keeper, crotchety though he was, was well pleased by his grandson.

Lan Jue continued to Su Xiaosu. “You all rest first, I’ll stand watch here. Someone will relieve me in three hours. We’re wheels-up in six hours. Accountant, make sure we record the location of this planet, we may need to come back here. It’s safe.”

“Definitely not bad,” the Accountant agreed. “This place has a unique magnetic field that interferes with other kinds of energy waves, psionic pulses included. If aliens want a good look at this planet, it won’t be easy. Not to mention there’s nothing here to pique their interest.”

The others left to rest and recover after their long watch. Lan Jue remained behind in the bridge, silently watching the screens. There wasn’t much in the way of scenery. The swath of sky he could see was blotted with asteroids. On occasion the light of the galaxy’s star peaked through the rock. The day here was a mottled patchwork of light and shadow.
Situations like this were common in the Shattered Starfields, and one of the reasons so few chose to live out here. Humans needed sunlight and water, neither of which was abundant here.

As Lan Jue looked up at the undulating sea of stone,  he thought about the three alien planets. They’d made a  good choice in taking the Starfields first. If they hadn’t been discovered, they could have stayed here for ages, gaining strength.

There were few places suitable for life in the Starfields, but it was an enormous system. Few was relative when it spanned so many dwarf planets. It all added up, so for the aliens it was a place rife with potential.

How could they defeat these creatures? This wasn’t a battle of righteousness versus evil. It was about two species trying to survive. To the aliens, humans were food – no different from the vital energy of the planets they lived on. If humans wanted to live, they had to struggle. Who came out victorious in the end would depend on who was stronger.

The three alien planets were the greatest threat. They counted as alien creatures themselves, and given their size it was likely
they were more dangerous than a Bastion Ship. If they wanted to destroy them, it would take the accumulated strength of humanity. They could surround the planets and give it all they got, then maybe they would have a chance to keep living.

He had to admit that their current course was satisfying. They were gathering essential intelligence, and with each alien they killed it was one less they had to face later. Taking those vital crystals weakened their enemies and made humanity better.

“What are you thinking about?” A soft voice interrupted his reflections.

Lan Jue smirked. “Just thinking about the best way to deal with these aliens.”

The Wine Master took a seat nearby. “More and more I’ve come to respect the Clairvoyant’s foresight. You truly have become the focal point of all of this.”

Chapter 622: Teleport Base

Lan Jue laughed. “Enough of that, I’m just one person. I rely on the people around me.”

The Wine Master rejoined. “What have you thought up, then?”

“Understanding,” he said. “That’s our greatest deficit right now. Right now they know a lot more about us than we do about them. Think about it, you remember the Violet Princess? To take on human form they must have studied the DNA of humans, understood its complexities. She even learned human speech. Just this proves how far behind we are.”

The Wine Master nodded his agreement. “We’re too spread out, humanities numbers are in the billions. We’ve colonized planets in dozens of star systems. It’s impossible to keep the aliens from infiltrating our worlds. However, I expect that your Violet Princess was one of their leaders. If any of these things can look like us, we might as well not bother to fight. The war is already lost, we should just flee.”

Lan Jue sighed. “My only hope is that they don’t suddenly appear in the Eastern Alliance.”
The Wine Master frowned. “Humanity as a species is struggling for survival. Aren’t you being selfish?”

He chuckled. “I never said I wasn’t!”

The Wine Master couldn’t help but smirk as well. “I suppose that makes me selfish, too.”

However, Lan Jue’s smile was short lived. “Actually I’m anxious. The Clairvoyant’s dying vision wasn’t random or contrived. From what we’ve witnessed these things are strong, but I don’t think that’s the whole story. If this is all they got, I haven’t seen ‘species threatening power’ yet.”

The Wine Master replied with a bitter nod. “Indeed, I worry about this as well. That’s why I chose to come with you. You need sufficient ability if you want good information.”

But Lan Jue’s lips curled down in a frown. “Oh come on. If the Clockmaker had stayed home, would you have come?”

The Paragon chuckled. “This is what they call ‘killing two birds with one stone.’” His mood had been quite good over the
last few days, since his relationship with the Clockmaker was growing closer. To him it was like a blessing from heaven.

Lan Jue answered. “Wait until we get closer to the center. I have a feeling we’ll really need all of your help then. ‘Seek not accomplishments, but freedom from faults.’ We’ll need to do our best to avoid a fight. Guoguo has gotten very good at mimicking the pulses, hopefully that’ll be enough.”

I believe this is a quote from Hu Yaobang, Chinese Chairman from 1981-1982. Pretty interesting story if Wikipedia is to be believed

The Wine Master looked through the window to the scenery outside. “This planet isn’t bad, good for staying out of sight. What if we made this a forward scouting base? So long as the aliens are in the Starfields, we can use this as a center of operations.”

Lan Jue paused. “A base point? I don’t think there’s any point! If we’re caught out there they’ll just follow us back. Plus, who’s to say we can get back here? Nothing stays the same out here, routes change. As this planet drifts through the system and the aliens continue to wreak havoc, who knows how the landscape will change.”
An enigmatic grin split the older man’s face. “Of course it’s not that simple. I’m talking about its immediate establishment as a launch point. I can set a rune array here.”

Lan Jue’s eyes lit up. “A teleportation array? But, how far is its limit?”

“That depends on how much is put into it,” the Wine Master explained. “The information you brought back on your last mission was vital for the Alliance, and it proved the worth of Star Division. I used this opportunity to request resources from parliament. I can set up a long distance array here with what we were given, but it will take ten days. It requires ten s-ranked interspatial power gems, and an addition one with each use. However, it will be stronger enough to transfer us out of the Starfields completely. So long as we remain within range, we can flee at the first sign of danger right back here.”

The Wine Master spoke calmly as though discussing the weather, while Lan Jue stared at him with wide eyes. “Since when have you been able to this?”

The Wine Master chuckled. “Just me? I can’t, but with my aunt here we can manage together.”
Lan Jue a deep breath. The Wine Master’s suggestion was promising safety, as well as an excellent springboard to continue their mission. Having a succor point would bring the danger way down, and their flexibility way up.

Indeed, an s-ranked gem for each use was a steep price, but worthy. The information and vital crystals they obtained would more than make up for them.

“What are we waiting for? We’ve got work to do!” Lan Jue said, his way of agreeing with the idea. There was nothing better for the success of their mission than establishing the teleport array. It’ll be here for a long while after, too, in case they needed it.

“Oh, right, I have to ask – have much can you transfer?” Lan Jue asked.

“Zeus-1 will be no problem,” he said. “If it was Majesty, we would need three times the resources but it would also be possible. But if we did have to transfer something of that scale, it would be very taxing for my aunt and I. We would need a long time to recover.”
Lan Jue shook his head. “We won’t need anything the likes of Majesty teleported. Zeus-1 will more than serve. You know, I suddenly had an idea that’ll make us all rich.”

The Wine Master grumbled in annoyance. “Since when did you get so interested in making money? You’ve become addicted to the life of a pirate.”

Lan Jue laughed. “Isn’t war just a grab for cash and resources? Don’t you still owe me for all the power gems I brought back from the North? Can anyone live without money? Once your array is set up our safety is pretty much guaranteed, we can safely go right to the galaxy’s center and get as  much intelligence as we need. All of you Paragons together, if you pull out all the stops, could eradicated an untold number of these things – and thus gain a whole bunch of vital crystals. These crystals are one of the most valuable resources ever discovered. After all, what else is out there that can promise a longer life? According to the Keeper and Bookworm, a man can stay young forever with enough of them.”

The Wine Master paused. He hadn’t thought about it that way. The transportation array was for safety and scouting, but what Lan Jue was saying made sense. They thin the heard and gather the precious crystals, a win-win for humanity. Why pass up an opportunity to grow rich doing the right thing?
The Wine Master could help but nod at the logic of it. “It certainly seems possible. Let’s talk more about it when the array is completed.”

“Alright!” Lan Jue replied. Lan Jue’s twinkling eyes met the Wine Master’s, and they shared an unspoken thought in that gaze. If this worked out, it wasn’t just good for the Avenue. It was a chance to lift the whole Eastern Alliance above its competition!

Humanity’s progress was built on population, talent, wealth, and food. The most important was people, and if you had talented people than you had it all.

Life death, sickness and health, it was the natural way of the universe. Be they beggar or Paragon, everyone feared death. So one could imagine how enticing the exuvium process was. Obviously the continued existence of humanity was important, but the real underlying drive to find these planets for the West and North, were these crystals! You’d never hear it is the news, but the Alliances had begun to compete for them the moment the universe knew of their existence.

Skyfire Avenue was likely the most richly endowed in crystals at present, including the very first one Lan Jue got from Taihua.
It was responsible for what they knew about the crystals, and ultimately the reason why the East was leading the research by more than a year. The things that could be accomplished in a year were many, not least of which was success in extending both the Booker and the Keeper’s lives. The Bookworm used part of it to break through to Paragon.

A single vital crystal enabled all of that. So, imagine what a warehouse full could do for the East. The decision was made, they were no longer here to rest for a while. They had an array to build.

Lan Jue denied the Driver’s request to proceed with the scouting mission on the grounds of safety. Once the protection of the array was behind them, they would continue.

Over the next ten days the two of them continued to train yin- yang lightning. The Wine Master was kept busy constructing the array with the help of the Clockmaker and Luo Xianni.

Lan Jue and the Driver practiced under the eye of Jue Di. With his guidance their progress felt like a thousand miles a day. Lan Jue continued to do all his cultivation joined with Qianlin. He shared the benefits of hi training with her, including the immortal qi gained from the thunder essence.
Lan Jue could sense that Qianlin’s consciousness was slowly improving, day by day. Every now and again they paused so the Driver could meditate on what they learned. When he did, Lan Jue and Qianlin practiced the blade. Her swordsmanship was coming along quite well. In fact, everything looked to be on an upward trend. Her total recovery was only a matter of time.

After ten days of sporadic training, both Lan Jue and the Driver saw incredible changes to their Disciplines. Lan Jue’s energies were about fifty percent transformed, thirty percent for the Driver.

Chapter 623: Primordial Lightning

The Driver benefited tremendously from the practice. Although the thunder essence was absorbed by Lan Jue, a small amount of it was transferred to him through their shared cultivation. Just that small amount helped to create a foundation that would support his rise to Paragon. It helped him to discover his own Path.

Lan Jue’s quantifiable strength didn’t improve much, though he had been actively trying to curtail the speed of his improvement. Star Division’s commander was focused on purification of the energy rather than accumulation of it.

Jue Di helped his son navigate the intricacies of his own path to Paragon. Lan Jue was calmer, which aided his cultivation. Currently their problem was Qianlin. If they were intended to break through together, how was that possible? Qianlin didn’t have the presence of mind to seek her Path. His only recourse was to stop his progress and await the happy day got back to normal.

“All set!” The Wine Master’s voice was calm, and his face lit up in self-appreciation. He’d clearly succeeded.
Lan Jue peered through the window at the expanse of barren mountains. “Where?”

“If you could see it, it wouldn’t be very hidden from aliens would it,” the Wine Master snapped. “I used dimensional fragmentation to hide them.”

“Does it need to be tested?” Lan Jue asked.

The Wine Master stared at him. “Testing would require an s- ranked interdimensional power gem. Relax, my aunt and I have checked it several times, and tried with a small amount of energy. There won’t be a problem. If you want to try it, wait until we need to use it.”

“Fine,” he replied. “So we should prepare to leave.”

The Wine Master nodded. “That’s right, there’s no time to waste. We’ve been held up here for ten days, and we have a lot we still need to learn. Right, did the unmanned information drones get back ok?”

Lan Jue’s brows knit together when he thought of them.
“They didn’t. I don’t think there’s a way for us to send information back alone. There are many dangers  in  the Starfields and no human consciousness to guide them.  Then there are the aliens to consider. UAVs can’t cloak. Altogether it starts to look unlikely drones will be much help to us.”

“Then we just need to make sure we get what we can and bring it back quick.” The Wine Master said.

Twenty minutes later, Zeus-1 was in the air. IT shop off toward the alien planets, leaving a column of diffused light in its wake.

They abandoned their circuitous right for something more direct. He ordered Mika and Xiaosu to bring them to the Starfield’s heart as quickly as they could. Caution could be relaxed now that their safety was assured.

“Boss, aliens have appeared on our radar, three of them. They’ll be within range in twenty minutes. Should we use the pulse to cover ourselves?” Xiaosu asked.

Lan Jue shook his head. “No need. Who wants to deal with them?”
The Taming Dragon Arhat curiously looked his way. “You don’t want to keep your distance? It could call others.”

Lan Jue smirked. “Orders have changed – we’re a Fire Scout troop. We hit the enemy and record how they react. No more need for stealth.”

The Wine Master frowned. “It’s a little early, no?”

Lan Jue looked his way. “I’m not saying we’re rushing in. Its fine, your responsibility is to help us lock the aliens down if we need it. Guoguo, you should prepare. Wait for our order.”

“Aye,” in Guoguo replied. The helmet she used to connect with the ship was already descending onto her head.

“I’ll go!” The Driver stood, eager to jump at the chance.

“Alright.” Lan Jue nodded his way.

The Driver was thrilled with the power coursing through him. Even at an eighth-rank Adept he felt like he was improving
markedly every day. Once he completed the transformation of his Discipline he would be at peak level. Poised to become a Paragon.

From the ship’s windows they could see three figures separate from the darkness of space. They were the aliens, each one a least a hundred meters long. The two on either side had long black bodies, and purple depression all over them. They looked particularly fierce, but were approaching at only a moderate pace.

“A swordfish and two Reefs.” Su Xiaosu shouted the report over her shoulder. They’d seen these kinds before.

The alien they called the ‘swordfish’ was a warrior of their species. It was going slow now, but they’d seen what it was capable of. IT was actually one of the fastest aliens they’d encountered. Tactically it approached problems simply, with a full-on rush. It attacked with mad ferocity, in attempts to overwhelm its foe.

They saw one drill a perfectly smooth hole through a one- kilometer long asteroid, and pass through like it wasn’t there. Lan Jue determined that the worst place to be was right in front of one of those things. Even a Paragon might not be able to take
a direct hit.

The two ‘Reefs’ as they called them, weren’t terribly friendly either. The divots on their body shot out destructive light that protected them within a range of twenty kilometers. They dissolved and consumed whatever they touched. If they struck anything organic, it was destroyed and absorbed immediately.

They were strong, and when facing three the Driver only had one option; get in close and put them down before they had a chance to respond.

Thunderclap appeared in the vacuous depths of space, hidden by a hundred-meter long asteroid. Its glimmering spear was clutched in its hand, waiting.

From experience they knew these aliens could extend their perception up to ten kilometers and maintain it. You had to be close already if you wanted to avoid detection.

The light around Thunderclap’s spear began  to  change, turning from silver to a translucent purple. The spear’s shaft was clear as crystal. A purple light also flashed in the mecha’s eyes. Compared to the last alien he fought, his battle experience
had risen to a new level.

The aliens were closing in, twenty kilometers from Thunderclap’s location. The Driver burst into motion. The mecha lifted its hand and slapped the surface of the asteroid. Tons of space stone went hurdling toward an inevitable collision with the beasts

Swordfish reacted fastest. It swerved just enough to put it in line with the asteroid. Then, when the two met, the clash turned the asteroid into a cloud of debris.

However, at that same moment there was a flash of purple. Thunderclap appeared beside the alien, then vanished in a blinding eruption of purple light!

Fast as lightning, loud as thunder; it perfectly explained the Driver’s trademark fighting style. He flashed in close then let them have it with his thunderbolt Discipline. Only, this time it was his taiyin thunderbolt he was using. The yin-yang lightning had evolved it into an empowered purple adaptation.

The Driver had listened to all these old sorts of powers from the ancient world that kept getting discussed. He settled on his
own name for his unique variant – primordial lightning. It was nowhere near as destructive as the real stuff, but it looked like it.

From their vantage on Zeus-1, the purple light seemed hazy and small. However, it was a large enough explosion to engulf all three aliens.

They were stunned, but the initial attack had failed to destroy them outright. Instead they grew sluggish like they were trying to swim through soup. Especially swordfish, it struggled and lashed from side to side to try and free itself to no avail. No matter what it did, it couldn’t rid itself of the confining purple light.

All three of the creatures melted away beneath the force of the blast. They were dissolved, they were purified.

Thunderclap spun like a top, and the primordial lightning became a vortex of destruction in response. The remains of the creatures were sucked into its depths and devoured.

The Taming Dragon Arhat watched with surprise. “When did this guy get so strong? What is that purple lightning?”
Lan Jue smiled. “He calls it ‘primordial lightning,’ I guess that’s its name.”

Many average Adepts probably weren’t familiar with the concept of primordial lightning, but the Pauper had the blood of the Taming Dragon Arhat. He had quite a wealth of knowledge regarding the old world.

There’s probably another name for it somewhere, but this is one of the Five Thunders in Daoist thunder magic. Specifically, he is using the lightning created by the natural laws of the universe, hence primordial. The other kinds of lightning come from heaven, the gods, and so forth. All of them seem particularly suited to combat Buddhist immortals.

“Nature’s primordial lightning? He’s got some gall! Honestly, though, his Discipline has reached an almost protogenic level. He isn’t even a Paragon, how is it he’s able to control something this powerful? In a straight fight I’d need to fight my hardest to beat him.”

Lan Jue looked at his friend with a mischievous, instigating grin. “You should give it a try when we get back.”
The Pauper chuckled, but didn’t fall for it. “We’ll see.”

Thunderclap made its way back to the ship, bearing three more vital crystals for their collection. However, the Driver didn’t dock. Instead he coaxed the mecha to the front of Zeus-1 and hovered in front of the windows.

“Whadda ya think? That primordial lightning is something else, right?” The Driver’s arrogant voice crackled through the ship’s speakers.

The Wine Master called back. “Your lightning can inhibit the aliens. The swordfish and reefs are strong, but they didn’t have a chance to fight back. It was like your lightning froze them up.”

A chuckle was returned. “Of course, it’s the primordial lightning. The seventy-two primordial lightnings that could kill immortals!”

Chapter 624: All-Heaven Lightning

“That’s enough singing your own praises, reign it in,” Lan Jue said. “If you could really use primordial lightning than these aliens would no longer be a problem. Go ahead and just wipe them out for us.”

Primordial lightning. Generated by the natural energies of the universe, the seventy-two primordial blasts were said to be able to kill immortals. There were eight systems: Yi Mu Righteous Lightning, Bing Huo Yang-Lightning, Gui Shui Yin-Lightning, Geng Jin Destructive Lightning, Wu Tu Umbral Lightning, Evil Execution Lightning, Godslayer Mystical Lightning, Violet Extinguishing Lightning. Each system had nine layers, and everyone had a natural disdain for the realms of the Buddhist pantheon. This terrible power wasn’t used to cut  down  the beasts of the world. Its purpose was to rebel against the powers of the gods.

Daoist thunder magic is a real thing (the practice, I dunno bout the magic). My knowledge is very limited, but thunder magic is a cultivation method and a means of attack/defense. It’s based on a sexagenarian cycle – rounds of 60. By using the ganzhi (heavenly roots and earthy stems), and the wuxing (five elements), astrologers and mystics created a system to observe the cosmos which was later applied to telling time. These systems are used to tell the state of a particular year, month,
day, even minute by determining what condition the flows of energy are at that moment. For example, ganzhi says I was born in the year of Yin-Wood ox. If you remember, yin is the energy that is ‘dark, low, cold, slow’, but it is also the root of life and creativity that keeps yang in check. Wood, according to the five elements, is indicative of growth, expansion, newness. The Ox is the second animal in the Chinese zodiac (after the rat), and it considered reliable, but tends to inaction, likes to work and is persistent, but can be stubborn. Further study can tell me which of these powers, and the other elements, were strong or weak at the moment of my birth. Thus, knowing this, I can presumably determine my fundamental strengths and flaws and how I interact with the forces of nature in any specific moment.

Each character in the names of thunder lightning mean something specific, but giving them their full names would be unwieldy, long, and generally unsuitable for English translation. For instance, the name of the first one is actually Beta/Secondary/Yin Wood Righteous Lightning. The second one is Tetra/Third Fire Yang-Lightning. The first character describes its ranking in the sexagenary cycle, the second is its element, and the third a descriptor. Mu = wood, Huo = fire, Shui
= water, Jin = metal, Tu = earth. You will also note ‘violet’, which is an important color in Daoism, considered the color of the gods/kings/immortals, much like ancient Rome.

The five element philosophy states that the elements work in
a specific order. I forget whether or not I’ve described them before, but briefly: Elements generate and restrict one another. Here’s an article that explains it well with visuals. Fire burns and molds metal (fire restricts metal) and creates nutrients for the soil (fire generates earth). Earth restricts the flow of water (earth restricts water), and metal is created in the bosom of the earth (earth generates metal). Metal generates water, I don’t have a good example for that, and metal cuts down forests (metal restricts wood). Water quenches fire (water restricts fire) and is food to help wood grow (water generates wood). This is as it should be, but there are many factors that can adjust the flow. If a particular element becomes too strong, it can revolt against its controller and become imbalanced. The thunder magic lightning is said to be so strong it breaks the natural order and can destroy its controllers, the gods.

Something so powerful it could sear the heavens, how could the Driver really control that? The tribulation lightning of the old days was said to be a part of this thunder magic. Suffering the nine layers of primordial lightning was the tribulation.

Lan Jue speculated that the thunder essence he was absorbing was the result of this lightning. A great beast sometime in the distance past did not survive when the tribulation lightning came for it. The likelihood of real primordial lightning existing somewhere inside was high.
Meanwhile this shameless guy went right for the lofty name. Not to be outshone, Lan Jue was determined to find an even more arrogant name for his own Discipline. He settled on the next level up from Primordial lightning – All-Heaven Lightning.

All-Heaven Lightning, the product of Pan Gu himself. Ranked below only the Five Thunders, it was used during the creation of heaven and earth to eliminate chaos.

The god, the creator of the universe according to Chinese origin myths.

The most powerful Daoist thunder magic, used specifically to kill or defend – like to put down an equally powerful Daoist mystic.

In the face of these arrogant youth, Jue Di was encouraging. The paths they’d chosen for themselves were the correct ones. Everything was borne from the same source, so who was to say their Disciplines couldn’t reach these levels with time and effort? Especially since Lan Jue was absorbing immortal qi from the thunder essence, his chances of evolving his Discipline into such godly heights wasn’t unthinkable. His yang-style thunderbolt served as a good foundation. Of course, Lan Jue would not be able to fully control it unless he became an
immortal himself.

Zeus-1 was finished evading. It was headed right for the center of the Shattered Starfields, where the three alien planets awaited. Their tactics when encountering aliens remained the same. The ship’s radar revealed them as they neared.

“One hundred and fifty seven of them altogether. They’re coming from all directions, headed right for us.” Su Xiaosu reported.

“Several unique psychic pulses have buffeted us already.
Should I respond?” Guoguo asked.

“No need,” her commander replied. “They’re delivering themselves to us on a silver platter. What do you say, mighty Paragons? Who wants some exercise?”

The Wine Master could not participate. He had to keep his strength in case they needed to flee. However, the Epochrion and the Pauper both stood. “We’ll go, and the Driver as well. Each of us will be responsible for a direction.”
Lan Jue shot her a thumbs-up. “Workin’ hard!”

Zeus-1 reduced speed and eventually came to a stop. It hovered in the blackness, awaiting the enemy’s arrival. A flash of light drew the eye outside of the ship’s bridge as the two Paragons exited.

They joined the Driver outside, and gave him a nod. The three of them headed out to keep some distance between them and their ship.

Tendrils of white light stretched from the Epochrion and waved around her like strings of silk. Out in the vacuum of space, she looked like an immortal from those ancient days.

As the crew of the ship watched, those white lights coalesced behind the Paragon until she vanished entirely. What remained was the avatar of her Dogma, a hundred meters tall and blazing with light that painted the heavens.

The avatar was enormous, clad in snow-white robes of samite. Silken ribbons swirled around it with strange shadows flitting between. It was liking watching the threads of time.
The image of the Epochrion’s dogma looked precisely like her. Waves of protogenic energy radiated out from her with such intensity that it seemed the stars trembled.

Inner Dogma! Lan Jue could see it right away. It was the most common dogma in the realm of adepts, the kind developed by oneself. Typically, inner dogma were weaker than the sort that was passed down. They were established from scratch, through untold years of self-reflection and searching.

The benefit was that it was suited perfectly to the individual. No absorption or training was needed, it all came down to the truths as the adept saw them. Inherited dogmas took time to become accustomed to, to understand. Another’s teachings had to become the core of their being. Only then did its strength surpass inner dogma.

In the distance, aliens began to creep into their line of sight. No less than ten swordfish led the charge. They had a lock on Zeus-1 already, and were quickly bearing down on them. However, when they noticed the giant human in space their target changed.

The ripples of protogenia were comparatively weak, but all living things had instincts and the aliens were no different.
They were inexorably drawn to the enticing lights. The swordfish stopped, long enough for the other aliens to catch up.

Just then, the Epochrion lifted her right hand and swept it before her. An enormous grandfather clock appeared. It flickered with a pale golden shine. Around it swirled a host of other colors, which within them bore strange and fantastical images.

She reached out again and pinched the giant clock’s hour hand between two fingers. Just as the aliens arrived, it stopped. The hour hand stopped, the minute hand stopped, the pendulum stopped. Everything seemed to freeze in time.

The aliens were suddenly thrust into a dimension of black and white. Everything around them stopped dead in its tracks. No matter how strong they were, or what talents these beasts possessed, it all meant nothing. They couldn’t even think or feel.

From Zeus-1, all they saw was the Epochrion reach out.
Afterwards, the aliens just… stopped.

The other two reacted immediately and flew in opposite
directions. The Pauper soared upwards, and as he did his own dogma was again revealed. He grew until he was as large as the Epochrion, an image of the Taming Dragon Arhat bare to the waist. His hands had also swollen to gigantic proportions.

He struck with his palm. The sound of a dragon’s roar answered. Several of the encroaching aliens couldn’t hope to defend themselves and were instantly destroyed. He never used his Domain, only direct attacks. The Taming Dragon Arhat’s strength was on clear display for everyone to marvel at.

The Driver’s charge bore similar results. Thunderbolt’s entire body buzzed with translucent primordial lightning. He swung his spear vertically and horizontally. Everywhere the purple lightning fell, the monsters were slain.

In only a few minutes over a hundred alien creatures had been dispatched. The Driver was beginning to show signs of fatigue. His Discipline was nearly at the protogenic level, but his body wasn’t prepared to sustain it. He wasn’t a Paragon yet, after all.

“That’s a fortune right there,” Lan Jue mused with a smile. Aliens of this size, who could travel and fight in space, were sure to each possess their own vital crystal. Star Division just earned over a hundred of them.
“Boss, more than a thousand aliens headed our way now. It looks like three waves, and one of them is over three thousand meters long.” Su Xiaosu gave her report while watching the radar.

Lan Jue’s face changed. Obviously killing so many aliens would attract some attention. “Call them back,” he said. “Let’s get out of here.” Despite their headlong rush into the fray, their goal wasn’t to engage with the enemy’s main force. They were, after all, really just here to scout.

“No need.” This time, it was Jue Di who spoke.

Buzzzz! A strange, unnatural sound rattled their ship. The Pauper, Driver, and Clockmaker all seemed to shake.

In the distance, the gargantuan form of an alien appeared.

In all his encounters with the aliens, this was the largest he’d seen aside from the alien planets themselves. He’d also seen one like it in the recording of the Seventh Fleet’s destruction. Its outward appearance was similar to a chameleon, blown up to nightmarish proportions. A giant bulge swelled at the back of its head and its whole body was covered in thick purple scales.
Sixteen eyes looked every which way, each of them shining with different intensities of purple light.

It had seven fins altogether, six for flight and the last one on the back of its tail for steering. Every one of those fins were composed of chutes, whose ends were wreathed in a pale violet halo. They appeared to act much like Zeus-1’s engines.

An entourage of aliens follows in its wake. Compared to the main one, however, the others looked like children. That screeching buzz had been this colossus’ roar.

“It’s a Basilisk!” Lan Jue breathed in awe.

They were rare to see, and thankfully so. They were strong. Once they’d come across another of its ilk, only a thousand meters long. Lan Jue had given it a wide berth. He’d named it Basilisk because of its appearance.

The Driver, Pauper, and Clockmaker were approaching the ship. The Driver’s voice rang through the bridge. “We’ve got quite a few coming, what should we do? Are we making a run for it? That big one doesn’t look like an easy scrap. The Epochrion said it’s their version of a Paragon. It looks like we
really kicked the hornet’s nest!”

“We’re not retreating just yet. You protect yourselves, dad is going out there to deal with them.” The news was like a shot of adrenaline to the Driver. For a second he didn’t utter a word, but then relayed the information to his two companions. The Paragons shared a quick glance, and spied the surprise in each other’s eyes.

Jue Di was going himself?

The near-mythical superhuman, gone for these many years, was going to deal with the threat. What could they expect to see?

The aliens come closer with every passing moment and their numbers swelled. There were ten times as many, now.

Chapter 625: Deva-gati

Although the creatures were still far away, they could see the scales on its back writhing. The purple halo around it was bright and getting bigger and enhanced the purple lights burning in its sixteen eyes. As the humans looked on, the beast opened its enormous maw. Suddenly a vacuum force tugged at them.

The Clockmaker’s protogenic grandfather clock radiated a pale golden light that expanded to encompass the Paragons and the Driver. Her Domain helped to stabilize them and protect them from being sucked up.

Then the suction force suddenly stopped.

A flying cloud, gold and blinding, appeared out in space. It bore Jue Di to their side. He looked entirely different from the worker they’d first met. His face was calm, and he gazed upon the encroaching monsters like they were insignificant insects.

“Shut up!” He shouted at the Basilisk in irritation. Strangely, the monster did as instructed and fell silent. To the humans, the creature almost looked nervous.
Jue Di clenched his hand into a fist, and slowly extended it toward the aliens. It was almost lazy, a simple punch – like a child might.

“Huuuunggg—“ The guttural sounds of Buddhist prayer echoed through space.

In the next instant, the three Skyfire Avenue fighters were surprised to find they were no longer out in space. They looked around to see the vaulted spires of a Buddhist temple. Their entire world was painted gold. Bodhisattvas, Arhats and other holy men surrounded them.

“Deva-gati!” The Pauper’s voice quavered. He’d heard of this, a legendary Buddhist Domain called Deva-gati after the world of gods. It was said to be capable of guiding the enlightened. Of course he’d never seen it, but the scene before them had all the signs.

The deep Buddhist chants continued, however the world of gold slowly began translucent and vanished. The Pauper and the others recovered their senses. The Driver actually fared best, since he still hadn’t come to understand the world of protogenia. He could not feel the deep, abiding power that Jue Di had commanded.
The Clockmaker, usually calm and composed, literally gaped. She held a hand over her mouth. At some point the grandfather clock she’d summoned disappeared, along with the image of her dogma. She was back to her normal size, floating with the others in space. The Pauper fared about the same, but he was breather faster than the Epochrion.

All three turned their eyes in unison to the distant aliens, but there was nothing to see. Seconds earlier a thousand aliens had been bearing down on them, only to vanish in a single punch. Only a cloud of purple light remained.

“How about someone heads over to pick up the remains,” Jue Di said indifferently.

The others snapped out of their shock. The Pauper reacted first, disappearing in a flash and reappearing where the creatures had once been. What he found was a vital crystal ten meters long, the source of the purple light. He was still a distance from it, but he could clearly feel the vital energy pouring from it. It was, frankly, terrifying.

A single punch…
All it took for Jue Di to eliminate a thousand world-devouring monsters was a single punch. He made it look so simple. And his Domain – the legendary Deva-gati!

For those watching from Zeus-1, things were unclear. All they’d seen was a flash of golden light, and suddenly their radar was coming up clean. Jue Di returned, said he was going to take a nap, then disappeared into his cabin.

The aliens were nowhere to be found. When the Pauper, Clockmaker and Driver returned they didn’t utter a word. All three were silent, trying to comprehend what they’d witnessed. Now they understood what strength was. They understood why Jue Di was a living legend, an unparalleled powerhouse.

What Jue Di had shown them was far outside of what they thought possible.

The Pauper shook his head, trying to shake the shock from his brain, then found a place to sit. The Clockmaker was taking it hardest, though. She knew she would never compare to Jue Di, but the true discrepancy between them was astounding. His Domain had overtaken everything to the point where her own Domain was instantly drowned out, even her dogma.
Put another way, if Jue Di desired it he could slay her with a single finger.

This fearsome power was beyond the scope of his legend. If Jue Di had been this strong during the paragon battle all those years ago, no one would have lived to tell the tale.

Lan Jue saw it differently. It warmed his heart to see such tremendous strength. His father was hale and hardy.

“Pick up speed, horizontal bearing. Let’s get out of here.” Lan Jue commanded. They had put down no small number of aliens, the aliens planets were definitely aware. Nor had it been as easy as it looked. It took three Paragons and Jue Di to get them this far.

But that punch… it was like it had been empowered by the curse of an angry god. When Lan Qing used his curses, they didn’t come anywhere near his father’s.

That was strength. Real strength!

Lan Jue stood in a daze, not moving a muscle. He allowed the
residual energies to wash over him and sought to learn what he could. Though he hadn’t been out there with the others, but the hull of a ship couldn’t dream of obstructing even the shadow of his father’s brawn.

In the recesses of his mind Lan Jue could feel Captus hum.
Both it and Demortus were reacting to something.

Zeus-1 continued to pick up speed and race through space for a full half an hour. It gave everyone time to collect themselves and recover.

When the Wine Master and the others had first met Jue Di, in truth they’d been slightly disappointed. They were expecting a legend but got a mechanic. Now they saw the legend, and then some.

Jue Di, this was Jue Di! The only known Paragon to reach the Infinite, the fourth degree of protogenic mastery. Watching that punch hadn’t just shocked them, it had given them tremendous confidence. Even the Wine Master was starting to think that his ten days of labor setting up the teleport array wasn’t necessary. With the god-like Jue Di on board, what alien could harm them? Jue Di simply had to want to, and even those alien planets were at risk.
In his cabin, Jue Di sat at the foot of the bed. Luo Xianni sat beside him, concern writ clear on her face.

“Hnnghh….” Jue Di sighed and closed his eyes.

“What is it? Are you alright?” She asked with some concern.

He grinned and shook his head. “I’m fine. It’s been so long since I’ve lifted a hand. I didn’t expect that. ‘Time and tide wait for no man’! In the end, though, there is no path forward.”

Luo Xianni scrunched her face in thought. “Could you use A- Jue’s abilities to help you take that final step?”

He shook his head. “No. He’s still too weak. Even once he’s absorbed all the thunder essence, I’m afraid it still won’t be enough. I have spent years searching, do you think it would be so easy?”

Her face became serious. “You shouldn’t have gone out there.
I don’t want you to do that again.”
He shrugged. “I only wanted to see where I am at. It’s been more than ten years since I’ve lifted a finger. It’s why I didn’t want to be with you. If we’re forced to part forever, could we handle it?”

Luo Xianni threw her arms around him. “I don’t care. All I want is to spend all my time with you. If that day comes, I’ll go with you.”

Jue Di gently stroked her hair. “Stop that nonsense. There’s still so much you want to do. I just hope A-Jue comes into his own before I go. He and his brother are much further along than I was at their age. I can only give them my experiences, and show them the way. Especially A-Jue. The thunder essence has changed his thunderbolt Discipline. Not primordial or all- heaven lightning, but whatever it is will help  him  when  it comes time to break through. How could I ask him to help me, at such a crucial time? When he’s strong enough, he could use this opportunity for himself.”

Luo Xianni vigorously shook her head. “Let’s not talk about this. I just want to hold you like this.”

Just then, a terrible consciousness drew its attention to the spot where Zeus-1 and the aliens had been. It swept across the
empty space, then spread out into the distance. Jue Di’s eyes hardened and he sat up straight.

“What is it?” Luo Xianni asked.

His eyebrows were knit tight. “I felt a powerful wave of energy. It originated far from us, but it’s still so strong.”

Luo Xianni looked at him with concern. “Was it mechanical, or….”

He shook his head. “It felt like a consciousness. It came too fast, I couldn’t feel it clearly.”

“For you to say something is strong… is it your same level?” She asked.

But he shrugged. “I don’t know. The universe is boundless, it wouldn’t be unthinkable to encounter something like me. I’m just concerned it’s that alien.”

Luo Xianni was beside herself with anxiety. “Should we tell A-
Jue, tell him not to keep going toward the planets?”

He replied with a mirthless laugh. “The aliens came to the Starfields to prepare for the assault on humanity. If we leave them alone, do you think they’ll just leave? Sooner or later, we’re going to have to face them.”

“But, you…”

Jue Di waved her off with his hand. “I’ve been a bully my whole life, you think I’m prepared to accept this bullshit?”

“Right,” she said, suddenly thinking of something. “Those vital crystals are no use to you?”

Chapter 626: Prying

Jue Di shook his head. “We’re on different levels, it has limited use for me. I would need crystals from something as strong as I. It’s the same for you. Those Paragons in the Realm of Protogenia, or who are Reflections of Heaven and Earth, they can use them. But for those like you and me, we’ve already surpassed natural restrictions and are connected to the universe at large. Only creatures with a similar connection can supplement our energies.”

A faint, bloodthirsty light shone in Luo Xianni’s eyes. “Then we’ll search until we find that alien, something that’ll work for us!”

Jue Di nodded. “This is also one reason I wanted to come along. If such a chance exists, I’m not going to let it slip.”

When she heard his affirmation, her mood improved. “You will definitely succeed,” she said through a smile. “You’re invincible.”

Zeus-1 took a distant, circuitous route from the scene of their last battle before continuing toward the galaxy’s center. The last encounter had left them flush, so much in fact that the
Wine Master was having trouble keeping calm.

Altogether they’d gathered one thousand seven hundred vital crystals. Among them was the ten-meter long one from the Basilisk. If they managed to bring all of these back to human worlds intact, the response would be overwhelming. The cost to create their teleport base paled in comparison. They would be the cornerstone of the Eastern Alliance’s future dominance!

After preliminary calculations by the Accountant they estimated more than ten thousand people could use these to extend their lives, if the energy they released was any indication. This was on the conservative side, even before considering the Basilisk crystal.

The asteroid belts were beginning to look familiar. More and more aliens were appearing on their radar. However, now that they were closer to the planets he didn’t engage. Scouting was the main priority at the moment, seek and destroy only if they had time.

They relied on Lin Guoguo’s psychic pulses to keep them hidden when an alien came too close. She’d become quite adroit at mimicking alien consciousness after so many days of practice.
“We’ll nearly be there once we cross the asteroid field.” Su Xiaosu’s somewhat nervous voice called to Lan Jue.

He walked over to her side and looked over her shoulder at the radar. Sadly its scanning range was soiled by the chaotic energies and magnetic disturbances of the Shattered Starfields. They couldn’t see much beyond the tips of their noses.

“Wine Master, prepare to evacuate us at a moment’s notice.” Lan Jue said.

The Wine Master nodded. His dimensional scepter was already in his hand. The Epochrion and the Taming Dragon Arhat were in their respective cabins, preparing for a fight.

“Guoguo, how long can you keep this up?” He looked her way.

“At least an hour with no problems,” she answered.

He nodded. “Full speed ahead. Accountant, make sure all our scanning equipment is ready to go.”
“Aye aye!”

Zeus-1 leapt forward, barreling over a large asteroid on its way to clear space – and its target, the three alien planets.

At top speed it didn’t take them long to traverse the belt. As the last space rock rolled past, the rest of the galaxy was revealed. At last, they’d reached their destination.

Except, everything was not what they expected. When they arrived at where the three primary planets had been, only one planet remained, hovering in the spot Moonfiend had once occupied. The other two were gone, with no trace left behind.

Xiaosu gasped. “They’ve already teleported away?”

Lan Jue placed a hand on her shoulder.  “Not  necessarily, don’t panic. Move in closer and scan the area. Remember that these planets can move. Maybe the planets split up to cover more area. After all, out here even one of these planets are invincible. Let’s move in and take a look. Mika, call my parents here to look. Assuming only one of the planets are here, maybe we can cause a little chaos.”
Jue Di’s apocalyptic punch had stunned everyone, and was a font of courage for Lan Jue. If his father could put down one of these three fatal worlds, it could mean the difference in humanity’s coming crisis.

Mika rushed to fetch them, while Zeus-1 slowly crept closer. The Psychic Tide continued to put her full effort into maintaining their camouflage.

From afar the planet almost looked like a human Bastion Ship, floating quietly by itself. A hive would be a more apt description, though. Scores of alien creatures could be spied leaving and returning from its surface. It swallowed them up and spat out others, keeping the flow steady.

Undoubtedly the creatures were being dispatched to gather more life energy. When they returned, they delivered that energy to the planet itself.

It was the first time Lan Jue was close enough to see the process clearly.

The surface of the planet was entirely purple. Its surface was pockmarked with craters, mountains, and strange fold-like
valleys. A pale purple haze surrounded it, like an atmosphere. That was all he could tell with his eyes alone. He couldn’t see or sense much beyond that.

Jue Di and Luo Xianni arrived at the bridge and walked to his side. They looked out at the scene.

“Just one?” Jue Di’s brows wrinkled in thought.

Lan Jue nodded. “We can only see one. The other two most likely moved on. Now we know they can move and fight separately.”

Jue Di’s eyes narrowed. He was thinking of something, but there was no telling what.

Lan Jue continued. “From our previous encounter we can determine that these planets are living creatures. They’re like brood mothers, and can spawn aliens for their needs. They use life energy pilfered from elsewhere to empower themselves. The one we found on Taihua, the one we called a progenitor, was essentially a scaled-down version of this thing. It also spawned aliens and sent them out to drain the planet. It was using that energy to get bigger. We suspect that’s how these things
develop.”

Jue Di nodded, expressing his agreement.

“Father, we have no way of telling how strong this planet is. If you were to fight it, do you think you could cause some damage?” Lan Jue asked.

“Absolutely not!” Luo Xianni answered for him.

Lan Jue paused. Everyone’s eyes turned her way.

Jue Di stared at her for a moment before answering. “I can’t tell. The planet’s atmosphere is hiding its energies from me. I’d need to get in there.”

Chapter 627: Exposed

Lan Jue was a smart guy, he could immediately from Luo Xianni’s reaction that something was wrong with his father. She didn’t hesitate to veto his idea. Lan Jue spoke directly to Su Xiaosu. “Keep a distant orbit around the planet. Scan and record everything we can.”

“Aye aye.” She pulled the ship into position and continued scanning their target. This was already enough, as they certainly weren’t going to risk talking a stroll on the planet’s surface. Heaven only knew what lay beneath that toxic atmosphere.

Lan Jue didn’t want to confront his father about it now. He gave the order to keep their distance without hesitation. There would be time for questions when they were in less dangerous territory, but Luo Xianni’s reaction had planted a seat of anxiety in his heart. No one knew him better than she did.

Their scans weren’t only directed at the planet. Information was gathered on the flow of aliens that came and went as well. Their cameras were trained on them from a safe distance, hungrily lapping up every detail. The data they were getting was priceless for the future war effort.
As they continued their orbit, an alien creature blocked their path.

It was a breed they’d never seen before. The top of it was wide and thick, making it look like a giant umbrella. Dozens of spindly tendrils hung down from a body that rose over a thousand meters and stretched five hundred meters across. In terms of size, it was among the largest yet recorded.

Zeus-1 stopped. They looked for a way around it, but that was when they noticed the alien behemoth stop as well. Then the powerful psychic pulse came.

“Aah!” Lin Guoguo screamed, oscillating flashes of golden light glimmering around her. She tore the metal helmet off her head.

“We’re exposed!” Lan Jue was the first to react. Su Xiaosu wasted no time turning the ship around and trying to dash back the way they came.

The alien was on the move again, and picking up speed. Despite its size, it moved incredible fast and the tendrils below it splayed out behind like wisps of hair. Meter by meter the gap
between them shrunk. The humans onboard looked at their radar screen in horror as a host of blips appeared.

Among them were swordfish, reefs, spiral aliens and more. They tumbled out from underneath the cap of the jellyfish- shaped monstrosity and charged at Zeus-1.

Clearly this one could carry smaller aliens with it. It somehow was able to store them in interdimensional space. Whatever breed this was, the creature was certainly among the peak of its kind.

A haze of golden light hung over the ship, and the host of enemies froze. In the same instant Zeus-1 blasted to full speed toward the asteroid belt they’d approached from.

The situation wasn’t yet dire enough to use the Wine Master’s teleporter. Lan Jue was also hesitant to show their secrets to their pursuers. The one who’d bought them time was the Epochrion. Through her command over time, she’d slowed them to a stand-still. Out in deep space she was in her element, it strengthened her protogenia.

The others sensed something wrong and swarmed for the
ship. By some unknown means they were able to instantly communicate, so that the aliens that sped in from afar knew precisely where to go. In moments they were surrounded. Space was thick with writhing alien bodies.

According to the radar, in the span of a moment there were now ten thousand aliens bearing down on them.

Woosh! A swordfish sailed right across their bow. Zeus-1 was barely able to evade its charge. Lan Jue had taken over the controls from Lin Guoguo. He channeled his powers through the ship, monitoring and enhancing it.

“I’ll try short-range teleportation first to see if we can shake them,” the Wine Master called out.

The aliens swarmed thicker and closer, and through the undulating purple flesh flashes of silver blinded the eye. There was a burst, and then Zeus-1 was gone.

When it reappeared, the ship was on the dark side of a large asteroid. They didn’t stop, racing into the distance the moment they got their bearings. But then an orb of purple energy appeared in their path. As it grew every asteroid contained
within was disintegrated. Even space-time seemed carved into slices.

They felt a heavy consciousness descend upon them and lock on the ship. It didn’t bear the threat of direct attack, but it did overwhelm Lan Jue’s mind. His face changed as a dizziness consumed him.

More of them were quickly approaching. Streaks of dangerous purple light were surrounding them again everywhere they looked. Another powerful wave of psychic force struck them and make the Clockmaker grunt. She staggered, but the golden light protecting them only got stronger.

It was time for Luo Xianni to get involved. She waved her hands and everything around them changed. Zeus-1 was covered in a pink hue, in and out. Whoosh! Reality ripped apart in front of them, and then they were gone. Her powers were like the Wine Master’s, but as a Paragon of Nirvana level hers were far more effective.

When space reconstructed itself the aliens were gone, replaced with a sea of stone. They were back in the asteroid belt.
Lan Jue gave his mother a thumbs-up, but when he looked at her she seemed uncomfortable. He frowned. Jue Di’s eyes narrowed, like he was concentrating on something.

The universe changed again. The asteroids were gone, and Zeus-1 was thrust into a world of purple, the natural color of this new reality.

“Humans!” A deep and rumbling voice arose. It bore a harshness like flesh on gravel. Everyone but Luo Xianni and Jue Di trembled uncontrollably at the sound.

They trembled because the voice came from within them.
Within their own minds.

Outside the windows something appeared floating in purple nothingness.

Su Xiaosu adjusted the radar, spreading its radius.

It was a man, or looked like a man. He was tall and strong, maybe in his twenties. His form was covered in deep purple robes, and the flesh that was revealed bore a pallid color.
Despite that he bore himself majestically. He was perfectly proportioned, but a frigidness lived in his violet eyes.

It was his hair that struck Lan Jue. It evoked memories, visions of the long curious hair of the Violet Princess. This man was indeed one of the leaders.

“I’m going!” Luo Xianni growled.

“No!” Jue Di lifted his hand and placed it upon her shoulder. Looking into her eyes, he shook his head. “You can’t. He’s like me.”

Luo Xianni’s eyes widened. “You mean…”

Chapter 628: A Change in Fortune

Luo Xianni’s face was almost excited. If this creature was as strong as Jue Di, its vital crystal would be enough to extend his life! She wasn’t worried about her lover’s ability to defeat the alien. In her heart, Jue Di was invincible.

Jue Di nodded. His voice was low and solemn. “When we make our move, the rest of you try to escape. I’ll catch up with you at the teleport base.”

He saw the hesitation in his son’s eyes. “Don’t imagine yourself immune. If there’s one of these things around, there’s likely to be a second not far behind. Safety for everyone has to be our first priority.”

He didn’t wait for a response. Jue Di’s body was consumed in a flash of light and disappeared. Reality reacted, becoming brighter. A torrential flood of golden light surged in every direction with Zeus-1 as the center. The oppressive and terrifying aura of the alien was pushed back.

Lan Jue looked at Luo Xianni and the Wine Master. He nodded. Now wasn’t the time to be cheap with their resources, they had to go – especially with so many alien crystals on board.
His father had spoken true, they had to keep everyone safe. They didn’t dare involve themselves in a battle between two demi-gods. Not to mention, if the Violet Princess or others like her joined in, they would have no way to flee.

Luo Xianni’s eyes glimmered with pale pink light. A silver halo sprang up around the Wine Master. Skyfire Avenue’s Photographer placed her hands upon her nephew’s shoulders and channeled her own powers through him while he traced intricate patterns in the air with his scepter.

Waves of enigmatic silver light flooded the ship. It radiated out through the hull, creating a pocket of interdimensional power. Pink light shined down upon it like light from a cherry blossom sun. Zeus-1 erupted into a shower of pink sparks, and was gone. All that remained was a shell of silver light and shadows of mystical runes.

Jue Di stood proudly in the purple universe. The aura of his power covered Zeus-1’s escape. The alien paid the fleeing ship no mind, all of his attention was on the newly arrived Jue Di. They looked at one another warily.

“You are… human?” The violet-hued man queried.
“That’s right!” Jue Di replied.

A strange expression crossed his face. “You are the strongest prey I’ve met.”

Jue Di answered with a haughty sniff. “We’ll see who is whose prey.”

The creature lifted a hand and pointed at itself. His words were jerky, like he found them to be unnatural. “I. Violet Prince!”

Jue Di looked at him with hard eyes. “And who is the Violet Princess?”

This caused the alien to tilt its head to the side and pause to think. After a small while, he answered. “Little sister!” After he said it he thought again for a moment, but eventually nodded. “Yes. Sister! This is what humans say. We were produced from the same…. Parent. She is my sister.”

Jue Di continued. “You do have parents, then?”
Again there was a moment of consideration before the Violet Prince answered. “Factual. King, Queen. Second Queen.”

Fear gripped Jue Di’s chest. They were emulating humans, and if the prince was this strong what could he expect from his parents? He could see some of his own fear reflected in the eyes of his adversary when he made mention of his parents.

“Why do you act like humans?” Jue Di asked.

The Violet Prince glanced at him, then as though he’d thought of something, said, “This I must not say. It is secret. You are food, and when I eat you I will be strong like Queen.”

He was no longer interested in conversation. The creature moved on Jue Di, and the world they found themselves in suddenly became the eye of a terrible tempest. Surges of purple energy lashed out at the human champion. Reality rippled in protest as the burst of power grew closer.

A brutal pressure descended on Jue Di from all sides. Space around him collapse, and the Paragon found himself in the center of a vacuum that was gobbling everything up.
The Violet Prince reappeared among the buffeting winds. He stretched out a hand that had grown to ten times its original size. The center of his palm was a jet black orb like a black hole, swallowing everything in its path.

Jue Di watched him come, unmoving. But when the Prince lifted his hand, Jue Di charged at him with a fist pulled back.

In contrast to when he attacked the alien horde before, there weren’t any flashy lights or images. All of his strength was contained in that gnarled fist, turning it a radiant gold. It bore the same mysterious power, but it somehow felt different.

The vortex of energy from the alien stopped suddenly. His oppressive aura shattered like a pane of glass. Surprise widened his eyes as Jue Di’s golden fist came right for his chest.

The deluge of power had hidden the alien’s attacks from Jue Di’s view, but the Violet Prince had had enough time to pull him arms in and press his palms together. A crackling sound filled the air, the Violet Prince’s body was painted with threads of gold. In a blink he he was a hundred meters away, fast as a golden bullet and out of harm’s way.
Jue Di grunted. His own body swayed and in the next instant he was chasing the Violet Prince, right on his heels. His lifted his right hand, and a staff appeared in his calloused grip.

“Big!” With the word of command, his staff exploded to several times its size. Likewise the Paragon’s own figure stretched to over a thousand meters. The staff was gold at the ends with a silver body, and as it swung through the air toward the Violet Prince it seemed like it could pulverize anything it met.

Spectral images of the staff exploded through the purple universe, obliterating asteroids in its path. If the Wine Master or Epochrion could see this power, who knew what the shock would do to them.

Boom–! The strike hit the Violet Prince head-on, but his reaction was not what Jue Di expected. The human form of the alien dissolved into a purple mist. Not only did the staff attack fail to knock the creature away, its gaseous form simply parted around the attack.

However this lasted only for a brief moment. As the gas tried to intertwine itself around the staff, it erupted with power to rival the creation of the cosmos.
For the Violet Prince, it was as though everything around him changed. He no longer was in a purple universe of his creation, but on the surface of some unknown planet. When the golden light receded he saw a clear and bright sky, a deep blue sea. But as he looked on the picturesque scenery melted together.

“Ahhhh….” The Prince’s blood-curdling scream tore through the air. Its gaseous form tried to escape, desperate to flee in any direction, but the golden aura of the staff kept it contained.

Jue Di’s body changed, too. His hair and eyes had become gold, his muscles bulged. The muscles of his jaw corded as he strained, body bowed like he was bearing the weight of the universe.

This strike had a name; UpEnder. One of the most forceful attacks in Jue Di’s arsenal. There was enough force behind that single attack to completely destroy a planet! Even when he was in his prime, it was rarely used. However today, facing this mysterious Violet Prince, he pulled no punches. He started the fight with the full force of his abilities.

The alien prince was on the verge of destruction. Suddenly, a terrible roar arose.
A beam of magenta light erupted from the distant alien planet. It was headed right for Jue Di’s staff.

Jue Di scowled. His enormous body fractures in to hundreds of golden mirror images that spread across the heavens before recombining. The destructive power of his UpEnder attack was gone, like it had never existed.

The beleaguered Violet Prince reconstituted himself from the mists. He no longer bore the composed, heroic bearing he had had. His features were monstrous, his maw large and stilted. What was a perfectly proportioned human body swelled grotesquely, culminating in a hideous magenta beast over ten thousand meters long.

The Prince’s new form brought to mind the ancient Tyrannosaurus of old Earth. However, the features of its head were grossly exaggerated. It took up almost half its total mass.

Its great mouth opened wide, revealing an all-consuming blackness. Hurricane-force winds tugged at Jue Di as the beast approached to swallow him up.

When the myriad copies of Jue Di recombined he did not
pause. The Paragon shot backwards in retreat so quickly he became a golden light. Soon that, too, disappeared.

The Prince bit into thin air. When it discovered its target missing, it let loose a bellowing cry. It was so intense nearby asteroids were shaken apart and reduced to dust. A large swath of space was cleared. A creature of this size and strength could likely clear the Shattered Starfields if it stayed in the area for a thousand years or so.

“Aaaagghhrrrrrrr!” The creature’s roar ripped across space like a wave of force. Its whole body shook in rage. Not yet ready to give in, it bristled as beams of violet light were spewed from its armored form. The area attack was grandiose and far- reaching, a burst to flush his enemy from hiding.

In the distance, the beam of magenta from the alien planet deepened to a pitch black. The sickly hue quickly spread over the celestial body until it was almost invisible against the dark backdrop of space.

When that tyrannical power enveloped the Violet Prince, both it and the creature vanished. Everything became silent, still. Nothing remained to speak of the battle, and all that was left was a pocket of empty space in the middle of an asteroid belt.
The Monkey King bore a staff he took from the Dragon King.
This is likely Jue Di’s astrum.

Chapter 629: Not Even the Same Level

An intense discomfort washed over everything as reality was torn apart and put back together. Thankfully, it lasted only a moment. The bizarre sensation passed and the universe returned to normal. Zeus-1 was quietly settled on the surface of a small planet, like it’d been there the whole time.

Lan Jue scowled, fighting to dispel the affliction. As though in response, a cool and refreshing energy spread out from his chest like being submerged in spring water.

The Paragons seemed fine, but Zeus’ five Amazons each reacted differently to the teleportation. Lin Guoguo seemed to have fared best, while the others were in various states of discomfort.

The oppressive power that had enveloped them was now gone. Their slice of the cosmos was still and quiet.

Lan Jue heaved a sigh. The s-ranked gem consumed to perform the teleportation was well worth it. It’d gotten them out of an extremely dangerous situation.
But he didn’t know how his father was. Anxiety began to gnaw at him. Neither he nor his brother had ever seen the full extent of their father’s strength, because he had had no cause to. They could only guess by the residual energies they sensed. Now, just as it was when they were kids, no one could compare to the invincible Jue Di.

“Relax, he’ll be fine. That creature isn’t strong enough to defeat your father. Even if it was, he knows when to run.” Luo Xianni gently patted his shoulder and spoke in a calm voice.

Lan Jue turned his head to look her way. Although she spoke with confidence, he could see his own anxiety reflected in her eyes. Now was not the time to be discouraging, though. Besides she was right, his father would be fine.

The others of their party were in better spirits, especially the Wine Master. They’d gained much in their short excursion. They’d learned a lot about the hostile planets, and managed to flee in the face of an alien horde. Many were put down in the process, adding to the growing number of vital crystals in Star Division’s possession. Cash couldn’t buy the treasures they’d reaped.

“Jewelry Master, should we return to the East when Jue Di
returnes?” The Wine master asked.

The young commander nodded. “That’s what I’m thinking. We’ve already managed to get a lot, it’s imperative we bring back what we learn. We still don’t know what these planets are capable of, but we’ve learned much about the aliens and their types. We also know they fear our Disciplines – they are invulnerable. On the other hand we’ve discovered another one of their leaders, who is at least as strong as Jue Di. Stronger than the Violet Princess. In the future it will be this ‘royal’ family we’ll need to be most wary of.”

The Wine Master nodded slowly, as though thinking deeply. He’d seen Jue Di’s power with his own eyes, ending a host of foes with a single punch. If the one they found was of similar status to Jue Di, it meant it was just as strong. That was more frightening than he cared to think about.

A creature that strong was far beyond what humanity’s weapons could contend with. Whether they infiltrated the population or attacked head on, the aliens could do tremendous damage. That kind of destruction could split a planet.

The Accountant had by now recovered from the discomfort of teleportation. He had been the busiest of them all, constantly
collecting and analyzing the data that crossed his screen. He was about to return to work when his eyes caught something on screen. “There’s a wave of energy coming at us from the planet’s location.”

When the Accountant delivered his report, everyone’s face changed. They were still within the Shattered Starfields, but far from where the three primary planets had once been. Feeling residual energy from this far away could only mean an incredibly powerful event!

Even the stoic  Luo Xianni reacted. This power must have come from Jue Di – or maybe, the alien.

Lan Jue looked at her again. “Ma. Father, he…” The question he wanted to ask was obvious. Was this from Jue Di, so far from where they left him?

She shook her head. “I don’t know, either. It may not be just his. Whatever the case, he’ll definitely be coming back.”

He heaved a sigh. Luo Xianni’s affirmations were thick were her own hopes, and weren’t necessarily coming from a place of clear thought. Right now, though, they had no choice but to
hope what she said was as true as she made it sound.

Everyone’s mood was gloomy. Jue Di was the strongest human ever! He was their trump card, their final line of defense against these terrible creatures. If he fell during a simple scouting mission the results would be catastrophic. No one wanted to imagine that scenario.

There was nothing they could do but wait – wait for their hero to return. Lan Jue was commander of the excursion, and as such his most important job was to command. However he couldn’t keep his hands from clenching into fists quivering with frustration. If he was by himself, he’d rush in at the first sign of distress from Jue Di. He would live or die by his father’s side. But he had others to consider. He’d come with students, soldiers and companions that he was responsible for. His wishes and desires didn’t override that responsibility. So, all he could do was wait, and not for long. If his father didn’t show up in a reasonable time frame, they’d have to leave without him. The data they’d acquired had to get back as soon as possible.

Despite his anxiety, though, he did believe in his dad. He was a hero, and heroes squeak by danger to save the day. It was faith
– faith in the best of humanity.
After a little while, people were beginning to get impatient.

Just then there was a flash of golden light, and the ship’s bridge had an extra passenger. Jue Di.

“Dad!’ Joy filled Lan Jue’s relieved call.

Outwardly his father looked fine, no different than he had when they left but for a dark look in his eye. He was thinking about something. He nodded toward his son. “Let’s go, time to head back.” He said nothing further, returning to his cabin.

Lan Jue looked at Su Xiaosu and nodded. She wasted no time, and Zeus-1 was in the air a moment later. They were headed for the border of the Shattered Starfields at top speed.

Lan Jue turned to look for Luo Xianni, but only caught her back as she hurried after Jue Di. Lan Jue hesitated, but in the end didn’t follow. If his father had something he wanted to tell him, he’d do so. If he didn’t, he had his reasons.

**
“What is it?” Luo Xianni followed Jue Di back to their cabin. Her voice was low and secretive. Out of everyone in their scouting party she had been the most anxious for his return. She knew the truth.

Jue Di shook his head. “I couldn’t do it. I was right, that creature is as strong as I am. If I could get its vial crystal then it could help. But he isn’t the strongest. Just when we were beginning our fight a burst of energy came from the planet. It was even stronger than he was. I had to flee.”

“Stronger than you?” Luo Xianni asked, aghast.

Jue Di stared at her. “Not even the same level. That’s why I haven’t told them, it won’t help anything now.”

The Photographer didn’t know how to respond. Not on the same level, what did that mean when Jue Di was stronger than anyone? The only thing she could imagine was the immortals of old.

Jue Di went on. “But that doesn’t mean I came back empty handed. I learned a little from this self-styled ‘Violet Prince.’ I suspect they emulate humans because it benefits their
evolution. The human body is the most highly evolved organism in the known universe thus far. That’s why they want to learn about us. Our mannerisms, knowledge, faith… they want to know it all. They chose us as a target not just for food, but because their future depends on it. Our DNA is the key.”

Luo Xianni’s brows furrowed. “It looks like this fight is inevitable, and we’ll need to fight tooth and nail.” She was a Paragon who had reached Nirvana, and the destructive capabilities she commanded were staggering. For a creature stronger even than Jue Di to appear before them, what human invention could contend with that?

“This will need further thought,” Jue Di mused. “The more we learn, the better we’ll be able to fight them. Not to mention a fair bit of a luck.”

The return trip went smoothly. Aliens crossed their path, but it wasn’t difficult to evade them, or hide with the help of Lin Guoguo’s psychic pulses. They didn’t risk a fight. Eventually they made their way out of hostile territory, and back into human controlled space.

Lan Jue’s first order of business was to establish contact and deliver the data they recovered. As expected, what they learned
was invaluable. He shared it with An Lun first. They had better communication equipment than Zeus-1. And Lan Jue trusted his brother implicitly.

“You’re back?” Lan Qing’s face appeared on their screens. His face was calm, but there was relief in his eyes. The most frightening thing about these aliens was the amount they didn’t know. He was worried because he didn’t know what to expect. If they were in contact, at least it meant they’d escaped the Starfields.

Chapter 630: Safe Return

“Yeah, we just escaped the Starfields. Our first move was to get this data to you. Send it to the Eastern government as quickly as you can. We’ve learned a lot this time.” A smirk spread across Lan Jue’s face.

”Alright!” Lan Qing Replied, then cut the connection.

The data was uploaded to An Lun under the Accountant’s direction. When the progress bar hit one hundred percent Lan Jue allowed himself to breathe a sigh of relief. They had succeeded, their scouting mission was over. In the end they were more shaken up than anything. Small wonder for a team of five Paragons. If they’d failed with so much overwhelming firepower behind them, humanity would be lost.

Zeus-1 sailed toward An Lun as fast as they could to collect the rest of Star Division. There would be more missions for them once the Eastern government analyzed what was gathered. However, before all that they had to bring the vital crystals back and determine how much they’d gained.

They would give some of these crystals to reliable members of the Eastern government, in order to maximize their profits. As
more of these crystals were recovered their worth would decrease. Until then, they could be exchanged with the North and West for essential goods – like battleships. Strength would determine who would be victorious in the fight against the aliens, the East had to keep that in consideration.

Once the file transfers were complete, Lan Jue allowed himself some personal time. He continued training with the Driver, determined to complete the transformation of their Discipline. Once it was, they could truly say their powers were the stuff of Paragons. Lan Jue wouldn’t let his brother get too far ahead.

At first Lan Jue thought he was comparable to Lan Qing while he and Qianlin were joined, especially with the addition of immortal qi and Captus. Of course, no one could have imagined Lan Qing would break through to Paragon and immediately become a Reflection of Heaven and Earth. It’d filled Lan Jue with happiness, but also a sense of urgency that only deepened the more he learned about the alien menace.

As an Adept, Lan Jue was among the strongest of them. But when it came to Paragons his strength was a drop in a bucket. It was a deficiency, one he knew he had to correct by sparing no effort or expense on his own progress. If he wanted to help when he was needed, he had to be as strong as the best of
humanity.

If he was alone, Lan Jue knew that becoming as strong as he wanted would be a long process. He would need to achieve at least Nirvana, like the Photographer or the Violet Princess. But he wasn’t alone, he had Qianlin by his side. If they could become Paragons together, with Captus and Demortus they could carve bloody swaths through even the strongest of these creatures. It was still possible. After his recultivation, an abrupt rise like his brother’s was still in the cards.

Zeus-1 returned to An Lun without incident, and was greeted at the docking port by Lan Qing. Now that he’d broken through, his standing in the military was entirely different. He was the youngest commander, youngest admiral, and the youngest supreme commander in military history. He could lay claim to all of these records with pride. It also meant he was one of the most powerful men in the Eastern Alliance, and that was before considering his martial and Adept prowess.

Before Lan Jue and his team left for their scouting mission, the Eastern government had decided to send their Fourth Fleet to An Lun. It was now considered a permanent fixture of the planet, under Lan Qing’s direct command. With an entire fleet – nay, a whole planet – under his personal direction, Lan Qing was the most famous commander in the whole history of the
East.

War was on the horizon, no one was running care-free through fields of flowers. The soldiers were well-trained and continued to push themselves. The fleet was equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. Already, Lan Qing had them training with the rest of An Lun’s soldiers to make sure they were up to par. There was no question that the Fourth Fleet and An Lun’s warriors – as well as Lan Qing himself – would become one of the strongest factions of the Eastern resistance effort.

The East was comparably weak, and suffered from its own internal political strife. However, compared to the other two Alliances the East was much more unified. No one stood in the way of the government’s work to protect themselves from these aliens. Everything they did was to strive for the survival and expansion of the East. Of all the Alliances the East had been the first to react to the threat, and were the quickest in making the necessary changes. After publishing their findings on the exuvium process, flocks of talented individuals had begun to immigrate into the East, searching for opportunity. Of course, this was done privately.

“Brother.” When he saw Lan Qing, Lan Jue felt his pride in victory flush through him. His brother had spent the days after his breakthrough perfecting himself, smoothing the rough
edges of his dharma. He was calmer, and the waves of erratic energy were gone. He looked and felt like any normal man, entirely ordinary. It was a potent example of his abilities. In so short a time he was able to reign in the raging tides of protogenia and bring them under his control. Such tremendous talent!

Lan Jue wasn’t the only one to notice it. The Pauper, Wine Master, and Clockmaker saw it as well. Inwardly the Wine Master sighed. He was an old Paragon, and even still the gap between him and Lan Qing was vast beyond measure. The young commander may not have had the experience he possessed, but he was like a child when it came to comprehension.

“It’s good you’re back. The information you brought back is priceless.” Lan Qing nodded at his brother before offering his regards to the Paragons.

Jue Di was the picture of calm, standing tall with his hands clasped at the small of his back. However, his eyes said he was thinking about something.

“Father!” Lan Qing walked over to stand in front of Jue Di.
He nodded in greeting. When he spoke, his voice was full of satisfaction. “Not bad, it looks like you’ve brought your powers under control. Keep striving. I may have recommended your dharma for less than savory reasons, but it is one of the most potent. When you learn to communicate with heaven and earth, when you achieve Nirvana, it will serve you well. Perhaps one day you’ll discover the long-lost Western Paradise.”

Lan Jue interjected. “Don’t you want grandchildren? Are you trying to make my brother a monk?”

“Dharma isn’t faith,” Jue Di said in irritation. “Monk my ass. You have as many pretty girls crowding around you as clouds in the sky, but you don’t introduce any to your brother. I’ve never troubled you over that, yet you have the gall to try and call me out?”

Lan Jue just shrugged. “His standards are too high, what am I supposed to do?”

This earned a glare from Lan Qing. “You must be tired. Rest. I have everything prepared.”

In reality, everyone had had ample time to rest on the trip
back to An Lun. However mentally, they could only begin to relax once they were back on the base. The Wine Master, Clockmaker and the other Paragons had been especially harried to say nothing of the team’s commander. But Lan Jue could not rest, and once he got back to his room he summoned the Bartender and Coffee Master to make their report on the Division’s training.

He was surprised to learn that his soldiers took to An Lun’s environment quickly. They worked very well with his brother’s Bloodiron Khans and had already undergone two expansive joint military exercises. Both times Star Division had emerged victorious. If it had been a real fight, it would have been difficult to overcome the Khan’s superior training and teamwork. On the other hand, Star Division’s advantages were obvious. Firstly was their individual skill. There were over eighty ninth level Adepts in the Division, and each one could take out a squad of Khans. They weren’t as unified as their brothers in arms, but don’t forget that their experienced was forged in the fires of ruined pirate bases.

From the beginning, Lan Jue had trained his people like a pirate fighting force. Ten people to a squad was the best organization to play off of their individual strengths.

So it was that as a traditional military organization, they
weren’t as structured as most, however it did come with a unique set of advantages. Squad mates worked well together as a solitary fighting force. Adepts that made up the Division were among the best the East had to offer and were organized well so that each soldier supplemented the others of their team. It wasn’t perfect, but there were improvements too. Each squad was as disciplined as an army, as harmonious as a family. Whenever they were together, a squad’s first concern was how to make the team stronger. Their competition was their brothers and sisters in other squads.

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