Chapter 671: Tyrannosaurus-Class Bastion Ship
Ling Ya smiled sweetly, completely absent the antagonism from before. “It’s a shame I wasn’t able to receive commander Lan Jue’s instruction.”
Lan Jue looked her way. “Our two forces are allies. We don’t want to hurt anyone, just maintain the peace. When we encounter the alien creatures I’d be happy to compare kill counts with the colonel.”
“It’s a deal,” she replied with a lopsided grin.
Although she was speaking to Lan Jue, her eyes inadvertently swept toward Su Xiaosu. The angel looked familiar, she thought. It had been uncomfortable to discover her battle prowess was even slightly inferior to the woman.
Wu Qiu went on. “I was told this is not your first excursion into the Shattered Starfields to hunt for aliens. Perhaps you could tell us more about what happened when you encountered the alien planets?”
Lan Jue smiled at the secretary. “I suspect the admiral will ask similar questions. Don’t you think it’d be prudent to discuss it then?”
Wu Qiu had come upon some resistance. He just smiled and said nothing further. He’d already provoked his Eastern guests, he could expect the cold shoulder.
As the verti-car quietly soared through the ship’s interior they were treated to vista of spider-web like walkways cris-crossing one another across vast distances. The building below them were getting smaller, indicating that their car was heading upward.
They passed three separate security checks before ultimately arriving in an oval area. The verti-car touched down, and the two Northern officers lead Lan Jue and his team from the car. Wu Qiu guided them to a large building about the size of a football field. After another check they were permitted inside.
“Commander, if you would leave your team in the waiting area and follow me to the admiral?” Wu Qiu requested.
“Very well.” It wasn’t necessary for everyone to clutter up the
Ling Ya motioned for him to follow. “Please come with me.”
Lan Jue gave his companions a nod. Ling Ya and the Driver took up the lead as they headed for the waiting room, followed by the Paragons. None of them removed their helmets or spoke. Wu Qiu directed Lan Jue toward another hallway.
Three more security checks later, they entered an elevator.
“You know I still think about your performance in the Adept Tournament!” Wu Qiu said conversationally.
Lan Jue replied with a demure smile. “I was just lucky, and the age restrictions helped. Your Discipline was impressive… peak of ninth level, I reckon. Dispersion.”
Wu Qiu sighed. “It wasn’t once I reached this level that I understood why Skyfire Avenue adheres so strongly to purely congenital Talent. Acquired power has its limits. After all, the technology far surpasses the capabilities of the human body.”
“It’s a problem with methods to overcome. His Majesty the Terminator found a way, didn’t he?” Lan Jue answered.
Wu Qiu chuckled politely. “How could I hope to compare to his Majesty.”
A gentle ‘ding’ announced their arrival. The elevator doors opened.
A spacious room was revealed to them with a snow-white floor constructed of some special sort of glass. Military men bustled here and there, none below field-grade officer ranks. Beeps and clicks issued from high-tech machines that filled the room.
Lan Jue’s eyes glittered as he looked around. Although it was his first visit to a Bastion ship, this was clearly the control room.
A Bastion’s size and mass was comparable to a small planet. It took an army to build one, and it was far too large to be run by even a sizeable team. There was the main control station, but also several control sectors that worked in tandem. The main control station was like the brain of the ship, which passed
orders to the various sectors. These sectors controlled ship movement, weapons systems, and life support to name a few examples. Each section was independently operated by a team of officers.
Because of this structure, the soldiers treated the ship no differently than being stationed on a planet. Some of them had been living here for dozens of years. The living areas were analogous to cities on Skyfire or Luo, and in theory were much safer.
A touch of pride was revealed in Wu Qiu’s smile. “This is Tyrannosuarus’ main control station. The Admiral’s officer is on the other end, he’s expecting you. He’s very interesting in what you learned in your last trip. We appreciate your hard work.”
Lan Jue was the definition of polite propriety. “Your praise is undeserved, Secretary. We are happy to help however we can, in the name of humanity.”
The station’s officers paid them no mind, too busy with their duties to dawdle. Ebbs and flows of energy buffeted Lan Jue from all sides, telling him nearly all of these soldiers were Adepts. All sorts of Disciplines were represented, filling the area
with a vibrant atmosphere.
Lan Jue knew that Adepts were preferred for high-grade research and command positions. The reason was simple; they could do more than your average human. Their Talent gave them advantages and staying power in a fight. Tyrannosaurus seemed no different, however there weren’t any high-level Adepts here.
Wu Qiu lead Lan Jue to a silvery-white elevator in the back. They stepped in and continued their ascent. During the ride Lan Jue felt no less than three passes of energy sweep across their bodies – more checks. Wu Qiu’s credentials stopped any untoward reactions from being tripped.
They certainly took defense seriously!
The ride took only a few seconds. When the doors opened again, all sound from the station below was gone. There was only the quiet buzz of electricity to break the silence.
First to catch Lan Jue’s eyes was nothing short of the boundless universe, spread out before him. The vaulted room was transparent from floor to ceiling. One wall was taken up by
a series of monitors, thick with strings of complicated data. The other flickered with blinking, enigmatic lights. Even if Lan Jue knew what they were he wouldn’t have known what they meant.
A Spartan desk of white was toward the back, and behind it sat a man.
Even seated Lan Jue could see the man was very tall. His features were the familiar type of his own Alliance, with lines belying his middle-age. Dark hair matched darker eyes, typical for Easterners. Four golden stars twinkled on his shoulder strap, indicating his high rank.
“Sir!” Wu Qiu snapped to attention.
The Admiral lifted his head from the holographic device on his desk. His eyes went to Lan Jue first. They were calm eyes, but somehow strange like they bore their own unique allure. It was like he could peer directly into your soul.
But, then, the commander of the Northern army’s Tyrannosaurus-class Bastion wrinkled his eyebrows and shut his eyes.
Wu Qiu started and suddenly stppped forward, blocking Lan Jue’s view. He could feel undulations of power coming off the secretary. Lan Jue, meanwhile, did not move.
“It’s fine.” Kang Hui’s voice was low. He rose from behind the desk and approached, stopping beside Wu Qiu. His eyes were lit with appreciation. “Hello, Commander Lan. “I am Kang Hui.” As he spoke the Admiral offered a salute.
Lan Jue was not a member of the military so did not return the salute. He nodded instead. “Hello, Admiral Kang Hui.” His response was even.
Kang Hui turned toward Wu Qiu and nodded. The secretary took a few steps back but remained in the office.
Surprise lingered in Lan Jue’s mind. Kang Hui was the leader of one of humanity’s most destructive weapons – and yet, his Discipline was hardly substantial. At best he boasted a seventh level Discipline, far inferior to the likes of Wu Qiu or Ling Ya. His Discipline, he suspected, had something to do with his eyes.
Kang Hui probably saw the uncertainty in his guest’s look. He smiled. “Welcome to Tyrannosaurus, commander. Please sit.”
He indicated a metallic sea situated in front of the desk. Wu Qiu separated himself further, stepping off to the side of the room. However he remained, likely to ensure the Admiral’s protection.
Lan Jue did not stand on ceremony and took the offered seat.
Kang Hui returned to his own chair opposite.
“I’m a direct sort of person, commander. We have embarked on this journey on behalf of humanity, to meet the alien threat. I don’t imagine its necessary we go over the guiding principles, so I’ll get to the point. We are hoping you can help us learn more about our enemy.”
Lan Jue answered with a slight nod. “We’re here to help in your operation. We can be ready to leave right away and begin sending back information.”
Kang Hui leaned back. “I was hoping we might first discuss what you learned during your last tour, get a clearer picture of the situation. According to our information you made two trips to the Shattered Starfields. The first time you uncovered their planets’ ability to teleport. Your second visit served to learn more about the creatures themselves. I must express my admiration of your work, especially since our own scouting
attempts have repeatedly ended in failure. Some of our scouts were even equipped with cloaking devices, to no avail.”
Lan Jue nodded knowingly. “Their counterreconnaisance capabilities are very strong. They identify one another through powerful psionic bursts. They use this to identify and locate non-alien lifeforms. As a result Blinding Stones are effective, but only to within a certain range. Once close enough, their psionic abilities render them useless. We learned this the hard way.”
Kang Hui regarded him with some surprise. “You were discovered? With all due respect, how did you accomplish your mission?”
Lan Jue smirked. “We killed the one that spotted us and kept going.”
He didn’t go into detail about Lin Guoguo or her methods, that was a state secret. She’s joined them for this trip as well, but remained back on the ship. He kept in contact with her through the Soulcaller gem. After all, the North had tried to kill him a number of times – it was important to be on guard.
The Chinese here is interesting, I thought, if I’m understanding it right. ‘Hit a nail’ is the translation, but ‘nail’ was the name for the front entrance of a government official’s mansion – a place where the common man was not permitted to pass. So ‘to hit a nail’ meant to come upon an impassable obstacle
The term is ‘chinese face’
Chapter 672: Communication
Kang Hui lapsed into a contemplative silence. He had tested Lan Jue’s Discipline for himself. As the Jewelry Master had deduced, Kang Hui’s Discipline was his eyes – through them he had precise analytical powers. Although he didn’t have much in the way of attack, his eyes were able to pick out the specifics of whatever he gazed on. Even ninth level Adepts couldn’t hide from him.
But when he looked at Lan Jue, he felt an incisiveness that went beyond the norm. So sharp he almost felt cut just by recognizing it, forcing him to retract his Discipline. It also made him look at Lan Jue in a new light. If he said he killed those aliens, he believed him.
“Would like you to describe what you saw when you witnessed the alien planets for the first them. As well as the situation when you encountered them next.”
Lan Jue obliged with a nod. He went over what they’d discovered, telling him about Star Division and their encounters with the West and Gabriel. The West and North already had some news of Star Division’s existence, but it remained a mysterious arm of Skyfire Avenue’s might.
“… We could hardly believe it when we saw what happened to Moonfiend. This Violet Princess and aliens like her are strong – similar to a Nirvana-level Paragon. If not for the concerted efforts of our Paragons and their teleportation specialty, we likely wouldn’t have gotten away as clean as we did.”
Kang Hui listened attentively the whole time, absorbing every detail. From time to time he would ask a question which Lan Jue dutifully answered. Just as Kang Hui had said, this was a problem facing all of mankind, a battle of survival against two opposing species. No matter the disagreements between East and North, they would need to band together to face it.
Lan Jue had some information of his own about Admiral Kand Hui. He had originally been an Eastern man, but walked a neutral path once joining the Northern Army. However, because of his lauded military exploits his position was never in danger. He enjoyed widespread support. So whether it was hawks or doves calling for his removal, none of them had any power to get it done.
He had a stellar record. Lan Jue thought if it had been the Arachnid’s commander, Admiral Holmen, their participation would have been more deeply debated.
After Lan Jue’s report was finished, Kang Hui fell silent once more. Then, “How confident are you the mission will be a success if you head out to scout again?”
“If we keep our distance and we’re there just to determine whether the planet has moved, about eighty percent. If we want to get closer it’s hard to say. Our earlier discoveries showed that the planet is a frightening living entity, stronger than any Paragon humanity has produced. There’s no way to hide from its psionic pulse. Because of this we have no way to guarantee success of a close pass.”
Kang Hui responded. “We don’t need you to get close, just make sure they’re there. The bulk of the action will be our responsibility this time, but I need to know where they are as soon as possible. Find out and bring back the information as quick as you can.”
“Absolutely.” Lan Jue replied without hesitation.
After a moment of consideration the admiral continued. “I have a somewhat unreasonable request. Because of the importance of this mission, I would like my people to accompany you. One as a trainee and one to help you complete your mission without incident.”
Kang Hui framed it as a request, but his mannerism made it clear he expected Lan Jue to acquiesce.
Much to the Admiral’s surprise, Lan Jue smiled and nodded his head. “An extra set of capable hands is always welcome.” This ‘help’ he was sending was certainly there to supervise and report back. Lan Jue was expecting it.
The Tyrannosaurus’ commander was well aware of how important scouting was. Even for Lan Qing and Lan Jue, they knew the value of confirming intelligence independently. If Kang Hui hadn’t insisted on sending someone with him, Lan Jue would have been suspicious.
“So long as you understand,” Kang Hui replied. “You’ve come a long way, we invite you to rest onboard. It will take us about a day to reach the border of the Starfields, then I will leave this important mission in your hands.”
Lan Jue recognized their meeting was over. He stood. “So long as you keep faith, we’ll make sure your army gets the information as soon as possible.”
Kang Hui didn’t rise as Wu Qiu led Lan Jue from the office.
When they were gone he leaned back in his chair and lapsed into thought. His eyes flit back and forth, though what was going on in his mind remained a mystery.
After a little while Wu Qiu returned. “Admiral!” He called, announcing his arrival.
Kang Hui looked up at him. “What do you think of him?”
The secretary was thoughtful for a moment. “Inscrutable.”
“Oh? Explain.” Kang Hui urged. He had a lot that concerned him, but Lan Jue seemed of particular importance.
Wu Qiu obliged. “At first he seemed gentle, dignified. However quickly he proved to be quite intelligent. From what we could gather he’s in his thirties. Not a Paragon, but there’s certainly something unique about him. Little Ya wasn’t able to goad him into a fight, which was my hope, but after meeting with him it dispelled any thoughts of weakness.”
“Young men who are strong and in positions of power are often arrogant. However he didn’t appear prideful – maybe
world-wise, someone who knows the pain of reality. Economical and careful with his words, but I found myself convinced with his pledge of support.”
Kang Hui nodded. “I also thought he was a different sort. Level-headed. I wasn’t able to get a strong read of him, but I could tell he was a righteous man. I think he’s trustworthy. Ask Ling Ya to go with them, watch how they do things and confirm the information. She’ll keep an eye on them.”
“Yes, sir.” Wu Qiu gave a salute.
Lan Jue and the others were given a lavish area to lay their heads. If this were in a hotel it would be a presidential suit, with all the fixtures of opulence. It was also, without question, riddled with recording equipment, but the Paragons’ Domain made sure to render them ineffectual. When they got there Lan Jue let Lin Guoguo know everything was fine.
Luo Xianni munched happily on some fruit. “Son,” she said, “What do you think? What are your thoughts on the admiral?”
Lan Jue looked her way. “He’s even-tempered, but beyond that I’m not sure. I didn’t sense a lot of strength from him – his Discipline is Sight, but what exactly I don’t know. He tried to scan me but I think Occisus bit back. In a day the Bastion will reach the Starfields and our mission will begin. They’ll be sending… representatives to come with us.”
The Gourmet nodded. “That’s expected. So what’s the plan?
Are you going to let them see our strength?”
Lan Jue turned his attention to him. “There’s nothing for it, they’ll find out eventually. If we do encounter aliens we should fight as hard as if they weren’t there. If we get exposed then it was meant to be, let nature take its course.”
The Clockmaker cast him a glance. “The North fears Skyfire Avenue. If they know we Paragons are here it’s how to know how they’ll react.”
Five Paragons, Lan Jue, the Pharmacist, Driver, Su Xiaosu, Lin Guoguo and of course Zhou Qianlin were all here representing the Avenue. Altogether about half of Skyfire Avenue’s strength was in the belly of one of the North’s greatest assets. If the North threw caution to the wind and turned their guns on them, they wouldn’t be able to run.
Lan Jue nodded, aware of her meaning. “Be cautious. Right now they still aren’t sure of who we are. If they do make a move it’ll be when our mission is over. For the moment we’re safe. I’ve already talked it over with the Wine Master and we have a plan to ensure everyone’s safety.”
The Wine Master nodded. His right hand motioned in the air and his scepter appeared in a flash of silver light.
“Tyrannosaurus is the North’s second largest Bastion. Since we’re here, I figured a souvenir was appropriate. We’re protected against the small-minded.”
The members of the scout team gave each other looks. They understood his meaning, and couldn’t help the smiles that crept into their faces.
Typically Bastions were stationary; not because they were slow or ineffectual, but because moving them cost a great deal of energy. As it slowly lumbered through space it looks like a slowly moving planet, surrounded by ships that – from a distance – looks like a cloud of twinkling asteroids.
Chapter 673: The Investigation Begins
A typical interstellar fleet typical consisted of a capital ship, four to eight dreadnaughts, three to six expedition ships, a couple hundred battleships and countless patrol boats. Five fleets spread out across space in an impressive array like a deadly spearhead.
Three of them – the Sixth, Eleventh and Thirteenth fleets – hugged close to Tyrannosaurus. They were the Bastion’s protection escort.
The border of the Shattered Starfields loomed in the distance. It was marked by a veritable wall of asteroids so thick you couldn’t see between them. Tyrannosaurus’ main thrusters were cut, and a series of stabilizers hummed gently as it brought the massive ship to a halt.
“Admiral. We’ve reached the target location. The First and Third fleets are coming into formation.” One of the ship’s staff made the report to Kang Hui.
The admiral’s voice was steady. “Tell the Skyfire team it’s time to start the mission.”
A few moments later a wall separated on the ship’s exterior. A humble blue ship separated itself from the lumbering behemoth and quietly slipped into space.
Zeus-1 was roughly the size of a patrol ship. Next to Tyrannosaurus it was almost invisible, but it gave the countersign and lithely slipped through the forest of warships into the Starfields.
Seated on the bridge, Ling Ya tried to look at everything at once. The interior was smaller than a typical patrol ship. There were installations that were clearly added in afterward to accommodate an unusually large crew.
As she continued to examine the bridge she noted that the equipment was also entirely different than she might expect. Initially Ling Ya had looked down on the little blue boat, and in fact all of the East. She felt they were inferior in technology and capability. However upon entering Zeus-1 her preconceptions changed. Everything was state-of-the-art – in fact, there were a few pieces of equipment even Tyrannosaurus didn’t have.
She was also surprised to discover there was someone aboard she hadn’t noticed before. How, when they’d scanned the ship so thoroughly before! Despite her prejudices, Zeus-1 had
impressed her greatly.
Lan Jue stood beside Su Xiaosu, who was guiding the ship. He was quietly watching the asteroids slip by. The Paragons were in the resting area. Currently the only ones on the bridge were Lan Jue, Xiaosu, Guoguo, Wu Qiu and Ling Ya herself. The Driver was cultivating in the resting area with the others. Part of his reason for coming was to continue training with Lan Jue, with the ultimate aim of completing his Discipline’s transformation. Once the process was complete he was on good footing to breakthrough to the Realm of Protogenia and could attempt it at his leisure.
But the Driver heeded Lan Jue’s advice. He worked to suppress his abilities and delay his breakthrough. Now that his ascension was almost assured his goal had changed – simply becoming a Paragon wasn’t enough. He wanted to become even stronger, be a Reflection of Heaven and Earth. Maybe even achieve Nirvana.
Ling Ya’s attention returned to Lan Jue. In his meticulously kept uniform, the young commander looked particularly elegant and dignified. He left quite the impression. There was a teasing light in his eyes when he smiled.
Hmph! I’ll definitely show him when the fighting starts. We just need to find some aliens. We’ll see just how capable this guy really is, if he can even complete this mission.
Zeus-1 sped up as it vanished into the tumbling rocks.
Ling Ya continued to study Star Division’s commander. Wu Qiu’s attention, meanwhile, was on Su Xiaosu, primarily because he noticed she was the only one responsible for flying the ship. Obviously this was in part because of the ship’s advanced systems, however it spoke volumes to her skills as a pilot. She had to keep an eye on the overall situation, know the ship intimately, and possess a great deal of experience – a lack in one and she wouldn’t be able to do what she was doing. But she was so young, with a Discipline more suitable for fighting than flying.
This made him very curious to know more about Su Xiaosu.
The further they got into the dangerous Starfields, the more his respect for her increased. They swung between the asteroids like a swallow, never slowing down. It was a masterful dance from one potential disaster to another.
As far as Wu Qiu was concerned, not a single pilot in Tyrannosaurus’ entourage could match her. Her reaction speed was too fast! Like the master butcher who never strikes bone. What skill! If she had joined the Northern army she would certainly have been one of their most preeminent pilots. And a ninth level Adept – what a woman!
Wu Qiu also found himself stealing furtive glances of the woman seated in the captain’s chair, Lin Guoguo. She held herself with a regal bearing. She was beautiful, mysterious, and there was a deep intelligence in her eyes.
She was snuggled into the chair with a novel in her hands – exceedingly laissez-faire.
What an odd collection of people! One pilot, a hands-off commander, and a girl more interested in her story than the mission. Everyone else was just hanging around. However, Wu Qiu didn’t look down on them. He knew how to look at the big picture. Although they’d only witnessed Xiaosu’s strength, the enigmatic nature of the rest of them was telling and intriguing. They were certainly there for a reason, otherwise they wouldn’t have come along. Yet, he still didn’t even know who everyone was.
Lan Jue wandered over toward Wu Qiu and took a seat behind him. A small smirk tugged at his lips. “We’ve entered into the outskirts of the Shattered Starfields, Secretary. We’ll reached the inner solar system in a couple of days. We may encounter aliens in transit, so it would be prudent for you to keep in contact with Tyrannosaurus.”
Wu Qiu nodded. “You don’t need to worry, commander.
Leave it to us.”
They had joined the scouting crew with the North’s most advanced communications equipment. Although the Starfields’ magnetic field was strong, the devices and Tyrannosaurus’ own magnetic field would ensure information could be shared reliably.
Ling Ya’s pretty eyes never left Lan Jue. “Commander, your team doesn’t appear to be treating this any differently from a normal scouting trip. If we do encounter aliens how do you expect to handle them?”
“We’re just here to gather intelligence,” Lan Jue replied. “We’ll avoid them to the best of our ability, otherwise combat could draw more to us. Once we accomplish our task, we’ll return home immediately.”
She continued her questioning. “You told Admiral Hui in your report that they search through psionic pulses, rendering Blinding Stones useless when you get too close. What guarantees do we have that we’ll be able to avoid them?”
Lan Jue’s smile widened. “I’ve got to leave you with a little suspense. Watch closely, you’ll find out soon enough.”
Ling Ya pursed her lips, but didn’t pursue it any further. But the look in her eyes made her displeasure clear.
Their flight continued, fast but stable. The ship’s internal gravity dampeners made their trek comfortable despite the pitching and rolling. Lan Jue didn’t engage them in any further conversation ad was content to sit quietly, eyes closed, lost in his own thoughts.
Six hours later he opened his eyes. A thoughtful looked crossed his face as he rose and walked over to Su Xiaosu.
“Something feels off.” He muttered.
Xiaosu nodded. “I sense it, too. We haven’t come across a
single alien signature. Do you think they’ve left the Starfields?”
“That was be the worst case scenario,” he replied darkly.
Su Xiaosu also couldn’t help but frown. She knew what Lan Jue meant. The North had amassed enough firepower to destroy
– or at least grievously wound – the alien forces. If the aliens were no longer here than the expedition was a monumental waste of time and resources. Uncertainty was the worst part of it, because if they weren’t here then where would they appear next?
Ling Ya appeared at Lan Jue’s shoulder. “What is it? What’s happened?”
Lan Jue’s voice was low. “Something strange. We should have encounter aliens by now.”
“Could they have already left?” She asked.
“That’s what we’re afraid of,” he answered.
Ling Ya scowled. “So you’re saying they’ve teleported?”
Lan Jue glanced at her. “I’m saying that’s a possibility. We suspect teleporting consumed a lot of energy but it’s been some time since we witnessed it. We can’t rule out the fact they might have already left. What’s more, we have been studying the aliens but I can assure you they’ve been studying us as well. It’s short-sighted to expect they didn’t notice all the commotion from the North. It can’t be dismissed that the fact you put this expedition together could be the reason they aren’t here.”
Ling Ya seemed unconvinced. “This entire operation was kept secret. According to your last trip weren’t they were raiding for energy? They couldn’t have vanished so quickly. It takes time for their scouts to gather information, too!”
“The fact is we still know frighteningly little about them,” Lan Jue countered. “We have no way of knowing how they share information, maybe even telepathically.”
Chapter 674: He Actually Enslaves You?
Ling Ya stuffed her hands into her pockets. “So what do we do now? If there’s nothing to find do we just turn back?”
Lan Jue nodded. “Let Tyrannosaurus know we haven’t found any aliens yet, and include the possibility they may have teleported away. Alert human-occupied planets as well, tell them to be vigilant.”
Ling Ya nodded. She had her reservations about Lan Jue, but she was a professional soldier. This was not the time to act mutinous. She wasted no time relaying the information back to Tyrannosaurus with Wu Qiu.
“Boss, aliens incoming!” Suddenly Su Xiaosu’s urgent voice rang through the bridge. Everyone’s eyes immediately shot toward the radar screen. Sure enough, three angry red dots were closing on their position, and fast.
“Keep out of sight!” Lan Jue ordered.
“Wait.” Ling Ya hurried back to Lan Jue’s side. “Can we get a look at them first? We need to confirm they actually are aliens.
We need our information to be precise.”
Lan Jue stared at her for a moment. This woman was smart. What she was saying was only part of the story. What she really wanted to know was how Zeus-1 fought or evaded foes.
“Fine.” His hesitation was brief. It was time to get down to business.
Zeus-1 continued on with no deviations in course. Lan Jue was silent, with no need to give his crew commands. Behind him, the helmet had already descended onto Lin Guoguo’s head and she was ready for her role.
Through the bridge’s windows they could see three purple spots rapidly growing larger on the horizon. Once the telescopes picked them up Lan Jue recognized them as the most common sort, shuttle aliens. They specialized in speed.
“Shuttlers. They’re fast and prefer to ram their prey. The trick is to keep your distance and deal with them as quickly as possible. Don’t give them a chance to hit you.”
She listened carefully and nodded her head. All the information humanity had gathered on these creatures was locked in her memory. She produced her recording equipment and started to record them.
Her attention was also fixed on Lan Jue. Part of her mission was to discover how this small scout team dealt with the threat of alien discovery.
There were three of them, together about as strong as four ninth level Adepts. They weren’t much of a threat.
Ling Ya continued to record the aliens as they drew nearer, while at the same time inconspicuously keeping an eye on Lan Jue. She was curious how he would handle the situation.
Yet, much to her shock the aliens flew right by. They never stopped or slowed down, and even when they got close they didn’t seem to notice Zeus-1 was there at all.
“Huh?” Ling Ya couldn’t help but vocalize her confusion. “They didn’t see us? Didn’t you say they could locate telepathically?”
“Pay attention!” That was his answer.
Ling Ya nearly groaned. Pay attention, he said! This man needed a spanking!
Lan Jue relaxed now that they’d encountered some sign of alien life. There were many reasons the aliens might not have been immediately encountered – for example, they might have moved to a more energy-rich sector of the Starfields. Now that they were sure the aliens were around, the North’s expedition could proceed.
Zeus-1 continued to penetrate deeper into the Shattered Starfields in search of the alien planets. Their encounter had already been reported to Tyrannosaurus, along with the video.
Zeus-1 wasn’t the only scout ship that had been sent out. There were seven or eight more on patrol, looking or information. All of them were specially equipped patrol boats.
The further in they went, the more aliens they came across. However, no matter what sort of alien they encountered Zeus-1 kept out of sight or flew right by. The aliens were none the wiser.
Ling Ya watched as closely as she could. It wasn’t until their third encounter with the creatures did she noticed something off about Lin Guoguo.
Skyfire Avenue had an Adept that was able to hide them from the aliens! No wonder… no wonder their missions succeeded. Finally she’d uncovered their secret.
Lan Jue didn’t take advantage of the Wine Master’s transference power to take them inside. For one, they didn’t know the condition of the transfer location. Secondly, using it was very costly. Finally there were things they could learn on the trip in.
“Hello, I’m Ling Ya. May I know your name?” With no aliens in their immediate vicinity, Ling Ya made her way over to Lin Guoguo and greeted her with a smile.
“Hello, I’m Lin Guoguo.” She answered with a pretty smile, appearing very friendly.
“Hello, Guoguo. You’re an Adept from Skyfire Avenue?” She asked. “Your Discipline helps you avoid the aliens?”
“If you look closely you’ll understand,” she answered. “It’s pretty bold to directly ask an Adept what their Discipline is, don’t you think?”
Ling Ya was not deterred. “It’s nice to meet you. If you have an opportunity you should come to the North for some vacation time. We have a lot of things to keep you entertained, as well as help with cultivation. When we’re done perhaps you’d like to stay on Tyrannosaurus for a little while? I can show you around.”
Lin Guoguo shook her head. “No thanks, I’d prefer to stay with the boss.”
“Boss? Him?” Ling Ya cast her eyes toward Lan Jue.
Lin Guoguo nodded innocently. “Yes! He’s my boss, and master. I do what he tells me and follow his orders.”
Ling Ya gaped at her. “My God! What century are we living in where he can enslave you like this! You must be suffering terribly, but can’t say anything. I’ll help you and make sure you get justice.”
Lin Guoguo sighed, her innocent expression lost and replaced with a teasing smirk. “Girl, you think you’re smart. I’m not one to start trouble. If he was like that why would I stick around? You think too much. To put it simply if the boss wasn’t around, the universe would be absent one Lin Guoguo. I owe him my life and I’m going to spend it at his side. No one’s going to change that fact. When I die, I’m going to do it in his arms, you understand?”
Ling Ya was stunned. “Are you his girlfriend?” Lin Guoguo was pretty, strong, and clearly cared deeply for her commander. It was a natural assumption.
Lin Guoguo’s answered betrayed the lump in her throat. “No! He isn’t interested in Guoguo. Sister… perhaps you can try to convince him to accept me? I’d even be his concubine!”
Lan Jue, not far away, almost fell over.
Ling Ya scowled. “Hopeless. You’re brainwashed.”
Lin Guoguo vigorously nodded her head. “I am! And not just me; Xiaosu, Mika, Ke’er, and Xiuxiu are all victims of the boss’ nefarious brainwashing technique! Even as a concubine I
wouldn’t be his first.”
“Guoguo!” Lan Jue’s irritation was no secret.
She stuck her tongue out at him.
“Swordfish!” Su Xiaosu’s voice cut through the banter.
Swordfish were among the fastest aliens they knew of. The moment they heard one was in range Lin Guoguo returned her head to the helmet – but it was already too late.
A flash of purple flickered outside the window, then stopped.
An alien’s lumbering body came into view.
Aside from the radiant purple color of its flesh, Swordfish aliens looked remarkably like their namesake. Its main weapon was the sword-like mouth protruding from its head, but that was not to say its whole body was a danger.
It was a troublesome beast. It didn’t have any long-range attack capabilities, but was fast enough to close distances in a
hurry. It could hit hard enough to tear through a battleship’s hull like paper. At full speed one of these things could put a dreadnaught out of commission.
For this reason Lan Jue and his team had a vested interest in dealing with them. Best was to kill it as quickly as possible.
Lin Guoguo had been distracted by her chat with Lingya and wasn’t wearing the helmet. The Swordfish had arrived too suddenly. They were discovered by its psychic pulse.
“Boss, what do we do?” Su Xiaosu asked. The pulse also meant the alien had a lock on them. The alien was already turning around. Its body was enveloped by a vibrant purple light, and all of a sudden it became a beam of energy headed straight for them.
Despite Zeus-1’s impressive defenses, they didn’t dare let this creature get a solid hit. Xiaosu’s experience kicked in and she quickly swerved Zeus-1 out of the alien’s path.
Lan Jue looked out the window. “I’ve got this one.” The others were resting and it would take too long to get them up to speed.
Lan Jue rushed to where Lin Guoguo was seated. She stuck her tongue out again for good measure and got out of his way. Lan Jue took the vacated seat.
The helmet descended and fit itself snugly on his head.
Zeus-1 continued to pitch and roll, but the alien was too fast for Xiaosu to keep up.
Ling Ya stuck her tongue out, fixated on Lan Jue and his reaction. She was desperate to know how he dealt with these things, and finally the time had come to tip his hand.
Lan Jue leaned back, helmet on his head, and hands resting lightly on the chair’s armrests.
Suddenly the bridge seemed different, like the entire ship had been injected with a life of its own. Zeus-1 banked hard to the side, just fast enough to avoid another attack. A pale blue light sprang up to surround them.
Then, a beam of blue light erupted from the front of the ship.
Chapter 675: Pride?
At first the shot looked like it was directed at empty space, but just as it fired the Swordfish threw itself into the path of the attack.
Boom–! Space was lit up by an explosion of electric blue light. In the center of the blazing orb of power was a single dark spot. For a few moments the explosion lingered, but eventually dispersed. When it did the alien was gone, and only its vital crystal remained, floating quietly in the void.
How did he do that? Again Ling Ya was more confused than enlightened. Could this little ship really pack this big a punch? And what incredible accuracy! Frankly, a patrol boat shouldn’t have been able to kill a Swordfish in one shot.
The North wasn’t absent their own battlefield experience. Once they’d started the engines of war Northern soldiers had encountered several of this aliens. Although the Seventh Fleet had been destroyed, crews had managed to send back priceless information before succumbing to the aliens. Ling Ya had it memorized. Swordfish boasted impressive defenses, to where shots from a dreadnaught may not put one down – to say nothing of a patrol boat.
Lan Jue picked the helmet off his head and turned to Lin Guoguo. “Don’t get distracted.”
Lin Guoguo’s response was serious. “I know, boss. I’m sorry.” She replaced him on the chair and affixed the helmet to her own head.
Lan Jue’s next target was Ling Ya. “Your role here is support, not to cause trouble. Colonel you will do the job you were sent here to do, stop getting the way of our mission.”
The look of displeasure on his face riled her. The nerve! But there was nothing she could say. It had been her meddling that lead Lin Guoguo to become distracted.
“Mnh.” That was the extent of her response. She returned to her chair.
“Little Ya, dial it back a little. We’ll come across more aliens as we proceed, we don’t need to go digging for information. I’m sure they’ll reveal more as time goes on.” Wu Qiu’s voice whispered in Ling Ya’s ear.
Ling Ya snapped her head around, unwilling to capitulate. “What’s there to learn from this guy? A few tricks and secrets? Not that he shares any of those with us. Uncle Wu, how was their gun that strong? It killed a Swordfish in one shot. Now they have another vital crystal, which means more resources.”
“That couldn’t have been purely the ship’s weaponry,” Wu Qiu replied. “It was enhanced by Discipline. I can’t tell just how strong Commander Jue is, but he it must be impressive. I imagine he has more surprises in store for us.”
Ling Ya answered by rolling her eyes. “Do you think there’s a way we could convince him to join the North, uncle? That girl is a zealot, and I fear she won’t be going anywhere unless it’s with him!”
This earned a wry chuckle from him. “So you do see his worth. He is the vice Chairman of Skyfire Avenue’s leadership council. You know how well the Avenue is doing lately, especially with regards to Paragons. His status there is even higher than some of them, so what does this mean? It means the Avenue would stop at nothing to make sure he stays right where he is. This commander is probably the future of Skyfire Avenue, how could we entice him away?”
Ling Ya scowled. “He may act like a gentleman but he’s got an ego the size of Tyrannosaurus. And he’s a sexual deviant. These pretty women around him are head over heels – I can’t see anything good in that situation.”
Ah-choo! Lan Jue suddenly let out a loud sneeze.
Ling Ya’s face froze.
Wu Qiu smirked. “Alright, stop talking and pay attention. He’s conceited but perhaps it’s warranted. How many people do you know with his influence and power at his age?”
Zeus-1 continued on. More aliens came and went, but overall they were fewer than the last time Lan Jue had visited. As they neared where the planet had been, Lan Jue ordered Su Xiaosu to pull into an orbit instead of flying in directly. They would try to approach aliens from the side.
If the aliens knew humans were on their way, they would also likely know where their ships were. In addition, they would be ready for scouts, and a direct incursion would meet with heavy defenses. With some planning they could swing around the side or back and lower their chances of being discovered.
Ling Ya didn’t cause any further problems and contended herself with observing quietly. She recorded everything they encountered along the way and sent everything back to Tyrannosaurus. The longer they scouted the enemy the more she felt Lin Guoguo was important. Whenever they got close to the aliens she would immediately put that strange helmet back on.
She had to be a psychic of some kind! Each new hint pointed at that possibility.
“Boss, we’ve arrived.” Su Xiaosu turned her head and looked at Lan Jue.
“Alright!” Lan Jue left for the resting cabin. They were near the last known location of the alien planet – on the other side of that familiar asteroid belt. Now they had to be takes things more seriously and be more careful. The Paragons needed to be made aware.
Wu Qiu, meanwhile, was still inwardly praising Su Xiaosu. What a prize she was! Not only was she a masterful pilot, but she seemed to know the Starfields like the back of her hand. It would take the North’s own scout teams at least another day to find this place, and that was with guidance equipment.
Skyfire Avenue really was rife with talent! If he knew that Xiaosu was the once-feared Moonfiend Empress, the shock might have killed him.
Before Lan Jue and his party left the Avenue, a final decision had been reached concerning the prisoners that had been locked in the Pontiff’s dungeons. Two-thirds of them remained to join Star Division and were already training with the soldiers. This served to boost their numbers by close to fifty percent, for a total of over one thousand three hundred men and women. The newcomers were disseminated through the four divisions based on abilities. After body checks they were cleared to begin a strict training regimen.
The Paragons arrived on the bridge from the other room and took their seats. Their arrival caught the eyes of Wu Qiu and Ling Ya, since they had been entirely out of sight until now. In fact the two Northerners had almost forgotten they were on board. What was their purpose, anyway?
Lan Jue returned to Xiaosu’s side. “Let’s go!”
“Aye aye!” She barked her reply, then plunged Zeus-1 into the asteroid belt.
The Driver took his helmet off and joined Lan Jue at the controls. “I’m more or less done assimilating what I learned. One more round and the transformation will be complete. I’m still suppressing my Discipline but it feels like I can’t hold it much longer. What should I do?”
Lan Jue smiled. “If you can’t hold it back then let nature do what it does. But as it is now completing the transformation will probably force your breakthrough. Let’s wait until we get back and you can complete the process there. Otherwise it’d be a waste.”
The Driver chortled. “I never thought the day would come – but here I am worried I’m too early. When we get back, then.”
What were they talking about? Ling Ya watched the men with sharp and curious eyes. They might as well have been speaking in riddles. Breakthrough? To what, the next level? That man was likely a ninth level Talent, too, but what would he be nervous about ‘breaking through’ into? Wu Qiu didn’t understand either, but they were here as a friendly attaché, so he couldn’t use his Discipline to find out more about the soldier.
Once they entered the belt’s magnetic field Zeus-1 began to shake. Lin Guoguo was in a meditative state, ready for a surprise
attack. An asteroid field would be the best place for the creatures to ambush them so she had to be ready. To avoid detection she had to be react at a moment’s notice.
However, for all their anxiety things seemed safe. It looked as though they would make it through the asteroid field without incident.
“We’re nearly at the mission area. Mother, you and the others get ready.” Lan Jue turned his Luo Xianni and the Wine Master, sitting nearby.
The two of them rose, helmets still concealing their identities.
However Lan Jue’s sentence had taken Ling Ya by surprise.
This commander actually brought his mother on a dangerous scouting mission? Nothing in their intelligence briefing about Star Division said anything about the commander’s mother being a part! He was supposed to be an orphan. His brother, they knew, was the Eastern super soldier who recently broke through to Reflection of Heaven and Earth – Admiral Lan Qing. But, he was supposed to be an orphan as well.
Luo Xianni and her nephew stood shoulder to shoulder. They
quietly felt the ebb and flow of energy outside the ship. Jue Di wasn’t here to protect them this time, so they had to be ready to flee if things turned bad. Otherwise, they risked destruction at the hands of a powerful alien.
The Gourmet, Pauper, and Clockmaker stood as well. They occupied different corners of the bridge. They were ready to lend themselves to the fight. Each of them hand their hands resting on a metallic orb that was affixed to the ship by a rod. From the outside they looked like they were meant to keep them steady, but Wu Qiu knew better. They were used to infuse the ship with Discipline.
All of them were strong Adepts? Was this whole squad…
They say when someone’s talkin’ shit about you, you sneeze. It differs, I think, from place to place but specifically they say; one sneeze, someone’s cursing you. Two sneezes, someone’s missing you. Three sneezes… you’re sick, go see a doctor.
Which seems unlikely, he might have meant gravitational field.
Chapter 676: Magnified
The shaking came to an abrupt stop and Zeus-1 burst from the asteroid field like a swallow from the clouds. The vast expanse of space stretched out before them.
Ling Ya and Wu Qiu looked out onto the scene. Where the Shattered Starfields primary planets had been, there remained only a single purple world.
“An alien planet…?” Ling Ya gapes at what she saw.
Lan Jue nodded his head, staring at it with serious countenance. He looked toward Su Xiaosu. “Measure it. I feel like it’s larger than last time.”
After a moment Xiaosu’s stringent voice replied. “It is. Forty- six percent bigger than when we saw it first. That’s a serious increase. Unless this is another planet, it’s evolved.”
Lan Jue sighed, trying to suppress the anxiety welling up in his chest. He continued in a sour voice. “Pull into a distant orbit, keep taking video. Secretary Wu, suspend communications with Tyrannosaurus – we aren’t safe here. We
can deliver the information when we’ve finished, and are safely back in the asteroid field.
“Alright!” Wu Qiu’s reply was quick and compliant. He was witnessing the alien planet with his own eyes, and this meant several things. At the very least everything Lan Jue had told them before was true. He wasn’t going to start causing trouble now.
Ling Ya was also filled with a disquiet she couldn’t shake. This thing was five times bigger than the mighty ship she’d come from. Ferocious looking creatures came and went from it in a constant stream. This was the power her army had come to face!
The Driver muttered darkly. “The other two are still nowhere to be seen, but I’m not gunna complain there’s only one of ‘em. Divide and conquer. If we can put this thing down you can call the expedition a success.”
Lan Jue nodded. “Indeed.”
Maintaining distance and taking pictures did not put them in any immediate danger. Between the Blinding Stone and Lin Guoguo’s constant masking they avoided detection. After an
hour of silent observation, Lan Jue gave the order for them to retreat. Lin Guoguo couldn’t keep the ruse up forever and needed to rest soon. Once they were safely hidden in the asteroid field, with Lan Jue’s permission, Wu Qiu sent Tyrannosaurus all that they’d learned.
Their target was confirmed. It was time to commence the operation.
“Commander Lan. Admiral Kang would like a word with you,” Wu Qiu said.
Lan Jue walked to his side and took the communication device from the secretary. “Hello, Admiral.”
Kang Hui’s glum voice answered. “Hello commander. The intelligence you gathered was tremendously important. We’re preparing to move out as we speak, headed your way. We need you to continue to watch and report back what you see. We need to be kept abreast of the planet’s condition and location to facilitate our operation.”
“Leave to us,” Lan Jue affirmed.
Reconnaissance was of course more involved than taking a peak. They were the North’s eyes out here, and only through constant observation could they set the stage for a successful attack.
He could hear the Admiral’s appreciation for their work in his voice. Not only had they been quiet, but they had installed themselves as an invaluable source of information. It made what they had to do much easier.
“If possible, commander, we’d like you and your time to extend the scope of your reconnaissance. Specifically, we’re looking for the presence of the other two planets. These creatures obviously possess higher intelligence – we need to be sure they haven’t set a trap.”
Kang Hui’s suggestion struck Lan Jue. The old fox was a clever one, he silently praised.
“Breathe easy, Admiral. We’ll take a more careful look around and let you know what we find,” Lan Jue confirmed.
On the outskirts of the Shattered Starfields, a white light had risen up around Tyrannosaurus. Its main propulsion systems were coming online, and its large array of boosters were pulsing with pale light. The five fleets that had gathered around it parted to make way.
Kang Hui, seated in the captain’s charge, gave the order. “Tyrannosaurus-class Bastion ship, on the move – into the Starfields. Fleet commanders, order your ships to follow. No one stays behind. Alpha formation.”
Tyrannosaurus began to pick up speed, and from the bridge they could see the rocky expanse that marked the Starfields’ border creeping toward them. Large as the ship was, they certainly weren’t going to find any gaps to slip through.
They barreled ahead at top speed, brazenly headed for the asteroid belt.
The white light around the ship buzzed. As they met the asteroids, the larger ones were harmlessly vast to the side. Smaller space rocks were smashed to dust. The North’s
Tyrannosaurus-class Bastion ship drove through the belt like it was no more than a nuisance.
It was dramatic proof that the three alliances could have dealt with the pirate menace. They just didn’t want to.
The fleets fell in behind Tyrannosaurus in a line as the massive ship cleared a path. All they had to do was follow, like hiding beneath the shade of a great tree. However the going was slow, and it cost Tyrannosaurus dearly in energy. Although it was equipped with devices that could replenish energy through space radiation, it was spending far more than it could recover in a short period.
In distant parts of space the North’s Arachnid- and Heron- class Bastions were also on the move. They pushed through the cosmic debris just like Tyrannosaurus. The operation was now fully under way.
Moments after Lan Jue got news of Tyrannosaurus’ entry, he was struck by a surge of pressure. Now, more than ever, their role was crucial to the success of the mission. Spread out,
observe, report. No rest for the wicked.
Lan Jue had replaced Su Xiaosu at the controls. They found a relatively space spot for Lin Guoguo to recover. The five Paragons were on the bridge, leaving only the Pharmacist alone in the resting area. She would be called if combat broke out.
“At full speed it’ll take Tyrannosaurus about five days to reach our location. The interim is important,” Wu Qiu reminded Lan Jue.
The alien planet was as enigmatic as it ever was. It hung in the darkness of space, and besides the aliens coming and going in droves they could learn nothing else from it.
The days passed. The atmosphere about Zeus-1 grew more tense by the hour. All they had to do was persist until fighting broke out. They were anxious for the Bastion ship to arrive and engage the enemy, a single alien planet against three bastion ships and five fleets. The North had mobilized a third of its total military power – equally a fifth of humanity’s strength.
If they could bring punishment upon one of the alien homeworlds, it would prove that humanity has what it takes to fight back. Victory would mean tremendous gain for the North as well, but Lan Jue was unconcerned. So long as humanity’s future was assured, that was all that mattered to him.
“Tyrannosaurus will be here in four hours. They’re resting and prepping for the last leg. When they get here they’ll move right in for the attack. Combat will be initiated right away, before the aliens have a chance to react.” Wu Qiu gave the latest information to Lan Jue. His voice betrayed his excitement.
It had been a long time since these terrifying weapons had seen full combat. The secretary had total faith in the Bastion ship. He knew what it was capable of.
Lan Jue also permitted himself some measure of relief. With Tyrannosaurus’ arrival their work would be done.
“Let’s perform final checks – make sure the planet is still there and the situation hasn’t changed,” Lan Jue ordered. He didn’t assume anything. The closer it came to all-out combat, the more
careful he’d been.
Zeus-1 slipped out from the asteroid fields and continued to watch the planet, invisible as a ghost. Nothing was different, the planet was just the same as before. It seemed to have no idea what was coming.
“No good.” Lan Jue scowled, suspicious.
“Hm? What is it?” Ling Ya swiftly hurried to his side.
“The aliens have scouts and gathers out constantly, tracking down and bringing back energy all across the galaxy. Your military made quite an impressive entrance, but they seem totally unaware. It’s too quiet.”
Wu Qiu joined them, curious. “I thought the same, but it’s too late to go back now. Our only option is to go ahead with the mission. We have a lot of firepower on the way, not to mention we’ve been watching for days. If this is an ambush it’s too late for them, too. But I’ll share your concerns with Admiral Kang.”
“Good,” Lan Jue replied. No matter what, they had to
continue watching, continue with their reconnaissance.
Three more hours… two more.
One more hour!
Chapter 677: Infiltration
Humanity’s strongest army had arrived. Lan Jue could feel the formless pressure approaching from behind. They continued to patrol along the border of the asteroid field, orbiting the alien planet once every twenty minutes. If the planet was preparing to move they would know right away.
All quiet! Even if the planet tried to flee it was already too late. After all, teleporting an entire star takes a lot of energy. It needed time to complete the process.
Could they have underestimated the humans? Hope sprang up in Lan Jue’s heart
“Boss, something’s happening!” Su Xiaosu pointed to their target and shouted in excitement. “Nothing’s leaving, just coming back. They know we’re coming.”
Lan Jue looked at the screens and confirmed Su Xiaosu’s report. All they saw where scores of beasts moving toward the planet from all direction and disappearing into the atmosphere. It was less a planet and more like a beehive.
Anxiety gripped Lan Jue’s heart. What were these monsters preparing to do?
All of star division’s members had gathered on the bridge, preparing for the operation to begin. The Wine Maker and Photographer were prepared to transfer them out at a moment’s notice. They were about to witness a full-fledged intergalactic war. Even the shockwaves from their class were going to be earthshaking. It was best to keep their difference at not get involved.
They sent everything – their observations and concerns – back to Tyrannosaurus with the latest scout report. Kang Hui told them to await further orders. It was expected that an operation this large was going to be discovered by the enemy before the attack began.
Tyrannosaurus barreled ahead. Its five-fleet entourage spread out behind and began clearing asteroids in their path with weapon fire. Battle was soon to ensue, so preparation was more important than conserving energy.
“Huh?” Lan Jue’s eyes popped open, wide with surprise. He could see things changing outside. The alien planet, large already, began to expand like a balloon.
As it grew a part in the center began to collapse inward. The bigger it got the deeper the cavern became, and along with it came an imposing vacuum force.
“What is it doing?” Wu Qiu gasped.
Lan Jue’s face fell as the possibilities dawned on him. “It’s the same thing that happened before the Seventh Fleet was destroyed. But this planet is much bigger… you should tell Tyrannosaurus.”
“We can’t! Communications have been cut!” Ling Ya cried.
Lan Jue felt his heart jump into his throat. Their communication equipment was strong – for it to fail now, this was no accident.
“Boss, the traction is too strong. We’re being sucked in!” Su Xiaosu’s voice was urgent.
Just as she warned, Zeus-1 and the asteroids around it began to tumble faster and faster to the rapidly expanding planet. The collapsed center was like a large black hole.
It had known all along. It had known they were coming.
The Wine Master and the Photographer looked at Lan Jue, awaiting his orders. They could leave at a moment’s notice, teleporting to safety.
Zeus-1 was picking up speed out of their control along with the kilotons of rock around them. Right now those asteroids were the main threat to their lives.
A golden hue hung over the ship, a manifestation of the Pauper’s power as he channeled it through Zeus-1. It protected them to some degree against the asteroids but they were insignificantly small by comparison. Against that enormous alien planet even a Paragon seemed impotently weak.
Lan Jue snapped his head toward Wu Qiu. “Secretary, we can’t alert your superiors from here. Our only option is to flee and try to bring them what we learned. What are your thoughts?”
Wu Qiu gaped at him. “Flee? How?!” Zeus-1 was careening toward the planet and crashing asteroids were exploding all around them. Wu Qiu and Ling Ya both were pale as sheets.
Lan Jue didn’t wait. He called out the order. “Do it!” Only prompt decisions would free them from this situation.
The Wine Master and Photographer released their respective powers, which flared dramatically around them. A strange, low chanting filled the bridge.
Ling Ya and the Secretary felt everything change. Reality became surreal. An intense pain nearly sent them into convulsions.
Thankfully the sensation lasted only a moment.
Buzz– Zeus-1 shuddered. The universe settled, and the familiar sights of their succor planet came into view. It had cost them, but the Paragons readily made the sacrifice to save their lives.
Wu Qiu and Ling Ya still hadn’t recovered.
“Secretary!” Lan Jue unceremoniously smacked him in the forehead. A tremble wracked through him as he regained his composure.
“See if you can get ahold of Tyrannosaurus and let them know what we saw.” He ordered.
Wu Qiu glanced out the bridge’s windows. Everything seemed normal but for the fact that they were in an entirely different part of space. What… what’s going on, he pondered. How did they get away?
His head was swimming with questions, but Wu Qiu was a professional soldier and secretary of combat. He snapped back to the present and immediately tried to get in contact with the Bastion ship.
“Tyrannosaurus, Tyrannosaurus! This is Zeus-1. Respond!”
“This is Tyrannosaurus.” Someone on the other end answered.
Wu Qiu’s face lit up in relief. “The situation has changed. I
need to speak with Admiral Kang immediately!”
“This is Kang Hui!” The Admiral’s voice came on a few moments later. “What’s going on, why did you contact me?”
Wu Qiu wasted no time explaining. “Admiral, something’s changed with the aliens. We experienced a strong disturbance that cut our communications. The planet had begun to expand and is drawing all the asteroids towards it. There’s some sort of black hole in the center of the planet, similar to what the Seventh Fleet encountered. You have to be careful.”
“Where are you? Tell us everything.”
Wu Qiu paused. Where? How should he know? He looked at Lan Jue for help.
Lan Jue came to his rescue. “Admiral Kang, this is Lan Jue. The situation became dire and we were forced to teleport to safety. We currently cannot get close enough to continue surveillance. Please be cautious – the aliens have likely known for a long time that you were coming. I don’t know what they prepared but they’ve had ample time to do it.”
Teleportation? Back on Tyrannosaurus Kang Hui was silent.
What was happening? That tiny patrol boat could teleport?
An ear-splitting alarm began to screech.
“Attention all hands. Attention all hands! Enemies have invaded the ship, man defenses!” The digitized voice rang through the alert system. Kang Hui’s face fell, but he wasn’t alone. Lan Jue was just as disturbed.
Aliens boarded the Bastion ship? How was this possible? Then it dawned on him. Lan Jue spoke urgently. “Admiral… admiral are you there?”
Kang Hui responded with a strangely calm voice. “I’m here, what is it?”
Lan Jue wasted no time. “Please confirm infiltration and let me know. I might know who it is.”
It took only a moment for the admiral to return with more news. “It’s a violet figure. Too fast to see more clearly, but it’s strong. We’ve already lost one of our mecha pilots and it’s
heading my way. Is it an alien?” Despite the danger, he maintained an eerie level of calm.
Lan Jue heaved a sigh. One figure. It could be the Violet Princess… or the Violet Prince? The aliens had been ready for this. This was bad.
He quickly gave his suggestion. “We’ll be there soon, admiral. Employ your strongest defenses to slow the invader down. He’s a humanoid alien as strong as the legendary Jue Di. You need to flee to safety and stop your advance immediately.”
Lan Jue’s voice was more a command than a request. Tyrannosaurus was the heart of that attack group and the center of the operation. If something were to happen to Kang Hui they would be flying into an unmitigated catastrophe.
“When will you arrive?” He asked.
“Soon!” Lan Jue replied without hesitation. “Sir you need to make a decision!”
Chapter 678: Making Their Move
“I know!” Kang Hui opened up a second line but kept Lan Jue on the communicator.
“Hand down my order. Bring the ship and the fleets to a stop. Engage all of the ship’s internal defenses to their highest readiness and do whatever possible to stop the invader. Put the fleet in a defensive position as well and tell them to be ready for a fight. Defcon 1!” His orders were simple and to the point. He said they needed to hear in a few short sentences.
On the other line, Lan Jue sighed in relief. He turned around. “Mother, Wine Master. We need to get to him as soon as possible. We can’t let the enemy succeed.”
Out there in space was the North’s best fighters. If they fell before the operation even began, if one of their mighty Bastions fells, the future of humanity would be bleak indeed! Nothing else was more important than making sure Admiral Kang was safe.
On one end of the bridge Wu Qiu and Ling Ya stared in muddled confusion. On the other, the Wine Master was already lifting his scepter. The ship was flooded with a stabbing silver
light. At the same time it mingled with a gentle pink glow. They mingled together and filled every corner of the ship.
The first teleport had been so sudden, the situation so dire, that the Northern soldiers hadn’t even known what happened. However, now they saw it coming – could feel the pulses of protogenia coming from the two helmeted scouts. Whoever they were, they commanded power on a whole other level!
PRotogenia… Paragons? The Wine Master? Incredible! This man bathed in silver, scepter in hand, was Skyfire Avenue’s chairman and foremost Paragon – the Cosmagus!
But the other one? A pink, enigmatic energy that was hard to fathom wafted from her. Another powerhouse? How was it she felt even stronger than the Cosmagus?
Time didn’t wait for them to puzzle out the answers. Reality rippled like waves in a pond. After the very unpleasant first experience both Wu Qiu and Ling Ya reacted by calling on their Discipline for defense. Neither were eager to feel the effects of teleportation again.
Flash! When matter reconstituted itself around them the first
they heard was a deafening alarm. Outside the windows was a world of white while the sounds of destruction crashed all around.
As Ling Ya and Wu Qiu looked out over the familiar scene and twisted metal, they gaped in shock.
“Secretary, get out there and find the Admiral. We need to confirm his location!” Lan Jue wasted no time in explaining things to them. With a flick of his wrist a long white dress appeared in his grip. Immediately following, he was consumed by an orb of crackling electric light that hid him from view.
When the light dissipated a moment later there was someone else beside the Star Division commander.
Lin gYa gaped when she saw her. She was gorgeous! In her flowing white dress her beauty could topple mountains. A surreal atmosphere surrounded her as though she were a fairy come from the land of fantasy.
Her Discipline wasn’t lightning. Who was this woman?
Wu Qiu had recovered faster than the colonel. It’d taken him only a few moments to recognize this place as the resting area in Tyrannosaurus’ living quarters. He needn’t ask how they got here; teleportation. But how they teleported here, only the mysterious scouts would know.
His ears rang as the alarms screeched all around them, sharpening his mind. Now wasn’t the time for thought, but for quick and decisive action.
“Admiral? Admiral where are you? We’ve teleported into Tyrannosaurus with reinforcements.” Wu Qiu shouted into his communicator.
“Teleportation? Get over here, the emergency code is 5431…” Kang Hui quickly rattled off a series of numbers.
“No need for all that trouble,” the Wine Master interrupted. The Wine Master lifted his scepter for a third time. In a flash, they were gone.
Kang Hui’s office.
“Who’s that!” A pulse of powerful energy swept through the area, crashing from all directions. A shell of white light hid everything.
Admiral Kang Hui was seated calmly behind his desk. Four Adepts of different specialties stood at his side. Each one of them were bathed in auras that betrayed their peak-level status. The office interior’s defenses reacted quickly. The walls bristled with guns that pointed at the center of the white light, ready to fire at the first sign of danger.
“Admiral, it’s us!” Wu Qiu’s urgent voice called to him.
When Kang Hui saw it was indeed Skyfire Avenue’s scout team, he was dumbfounded. In all his years he’d never witnessed anything like this! Only a few minutes earlier these mysterious Adepts were close enough to the aliens to feed him information. Now here they were – it was inconceivable!
The Wine Master removed his helmet, revealing his craggy features. “No time for talk, Admiral. I am the Wine Master of Skyfire Avenue, I came with the scout team. We believe your Bastion ship has been infiltrated by one of the aliens’ strongest leaders. We need control over your ship’s defenses to help us beat it back. If we don’t succeed than Tyrannosaurus will be destroyed. We need to know precisely where it is this moment.”
Kang Hui’s surprise was short-lived. Of course he knew who the Wine Master was – also known as His Majesty Cosmagus! No wonder… no wonder this team succeeded where so many others had failed. They had a Paragon! A Paragon acting as a scout!
Star Division’s remaining members removed their helmets, one by one. Kang Hui – normally steady and reserved – began to shake.
He didn’t know the Gourmet or the Pauper, nor did he have any idea who Luo Xianni was. However, there was no way he wouldn’t recognize one of the North’s former Paragon leaders – the Epochrion!
“Your Majesty Epochrion?” He shot up onto his feet.
She nodded. “At ease, Admiral. We rushed back here to ensure your safety and keep this ship from being destroyed. We need you to turn over the ship’s defenses to us. Prepare to meet the enemy. They’re coming.”
“Yes!” Kang Hui was not part of an indecisive generation. Although things were far outside of what was planned, he reacted with purpose. He turned to a man with a general’s star on his shoulder, one of the peak=level Adepts. “Give their Majesties whatever is needed to combat the enemy. Start with the alien’s coordinates.”
Lan Jue paid them no mind, his attention was on one of the large screens nearby. A flash of purple streaked by. All you could see was a humanoid shape before the defenses barring its path exploded into shrapnel. Destruction was left in the monster’s wake.
Doughty mecha suits were left in ruin and any personnel unlucky enough to cross its path were instantly slain. Their essence was gobbled up faster than the soldiers could react.
But Lan Jue’s perception was sharp. All he caught was a pair of eyes. That was enough.
“That’s the Violet Prince. Let’s get after him!”
The Wine Master shot his eyes toward Lan Jue and nodded.
The Photographer growled. “A-Jue, Gourmet, Pauper, Wine Master, Clockmaker, Pharmacist and Driver – do whatever you can to slow him down. I’ll find a way to take this fight out of the ship.”
“Got it.” They said in unison.
The Wine Master waved his scepter. An orb og silver extending from the head until it swallowed them all up. It contracted against into a single point and vanished, along with Star Division’s fighters. Once they’d found the Prince’s location on the screens it wasn’t difficult to track him down.
Kang Hui stared blankly at the empty spot they had occupied. Who was that woman who was issuing orders? Even the Cosmagus and Epochrion had regarded her with respect and deference. What did this mean? The Epochrion was a Reflection of Heaven and Earth! He didn’t even know who the other woman was!
“Admiral, the Gourmet is likely Skyfire Avenue’s Infernal Vanguard. As far as we can tell, the one they called the Pauper is the Arhat of the Descending Dragon. The Pharmacist was the woman who came in second place during the Great Adept Tournament.” One of the Admiral’s attendants had leaned in to share the information.
Kang Hui’s surprise was clear. “You mean to tell me this scouting team has five Paragons… “
The soldier stood there, just as shocked, but nodded after a few seconds of quiet. “Yes, sir…”
Kang Hui’s face began to change. He became darkly obsessed with a single thought: How strong were these things where a scout force needed five Paragons?
Flickering silver light deposited Lan Jue and the others in an empty area of the ship. The wine Master was the first to move, stepping ahead and indicating with scepter. What issued forth was a ray of anti-space that carved a channel through the ship. It extended forward until crashing into the far wall. Reality
around the borders of the pitch-black aisle crackled in protest and everything around them adopt a surreal quality. The universe seemed stacked on top of itself, layer upon layer, warping and changing even as they looked on.
It was the Wine Master’s Domain, Interspatial Flux!
The space between dimensions possessed tremendous amounts of energy. Be it folding, tearing or blending, this energy had many ways to wreak havoc.
Chapter 679: The Monstrous Prince
Suddenly a torrent of purple light crashed into the Wine Master’s domain. It was a brazen flood that tried to fight its way through. Eventually the interspatial flux fractured and gave way. The Wine Master’s Domain was nearly defeated.
Just as it broke through the line a loud ‘ding!’ sounded through the area. The flood of purple stopped in its tracks. A clock had sprung up in the beleaguered folds of reality that sparkled with a myriad of colors. Where it’s light radiated time appeared to slow, and the purple light’s spread was halted.
The clock was difficult to perceive clearly as it existed in the flux. However, a figured appeared in its center – the image of the Clockmaker.
The Epochrion! Reflection of Heaven and Earth!
A grey light sprang up from nearby to join the fray. It seemed unhindered by the Epochrion’s power. It roiled like a pestilence, corrupting space around it at it headed for the purple light. Although it did not stop the violet power’s advance, it did slow it. Where they clashes spouts of grey fire lapped at the edges.
The Gourmet, Infernal Vanguard!
Three mighty Paragons battled to contain the purple light.
They struggled to ensure it could not extend its terrible reach.
And yet it was not enough!
The Violet Prince was a contemporary of Jue Di, even against three Paragons he was not at a disadvantage. His fully manifested power stretched into the Infinite.
The purple light suddenly receded, contracting. It untangled itself from the burning power of the Gourmet’s Domain. In the next instant it swelled to form a nightmarish beast before lunging ahead once more. The interspatial flux continued to give way, and the Epochrion’s time dilation was losing its grip on the monster. Nothing seemed capable of standing in its way.
“Aaaggghhh…” Raging cries made the whole structure shudder, and a golden dragon threaded its way through the corridor of interspatial flux. Its snake-like body writhed, its horned head thrashed, and five-clawed hands swiped ferociously. The golden figure twinkled majestically in the blackness of the Wine Master’s Domain. It met the lizard-like
purple beast with hesitation.
The purple monster seemed to grow more distinct, more real – like a hideous crocodile corrupted by evil. Its enormous head occupied nearly half its body, and as the creature opened its maw the combined powers of the Paragons collapsed into it.
Fear and surprise swept through the human defenders.
Strong though the Violet Prince was, he still was beneath Jue Di’s capabilities. If he threw caution to the wind and employed his full powers the Violet Prince would not be alive. Though Jue Di was not here, the Prince was facing humanity’s first-class Paragons, who themselves were capable fighters. They would not be able to defeat the Prince, but there was a chance they could repel him.
“Crack!” The first to lash out was their strongest, the Epochrion. The clock paused, its pendulum froze. For a moment everything was calm, and even the monstrous Prince was still. An orb of silver light floated through frozen time and into the Prince’s mouth. Next came the golden dragon, racing forth at incredible speed. The ghastly grey fires congealed to form a spectral blade, which then tumbled from the sky toward their enemy.
As the Gourmet’s weapon fell three clear ringing cries issued forth, and three dazzling lights appeared. Red, white and blue respectively. They flickered in an uncomfortable and illusory fashion, but upon closer inspection seemed more real than the Domains they passed through.
Boom–! The first explosion came from the silver orb. It detonated with a flash of silver light, while black tears in reality spider-webbed out in every direction. Dimensional Tempest!
It was the Wine Master’s most daunting attack, a dimensional phenomenon turned attack. It caused wide-spread devastation, obliterating everything within its scope, tearing apart the dimension itself. At full power it could erase pockets of the universe. Of course the Wine Master could not command such power, but it mimicked universal protogenia in much the same way.
He was on the cusp of becoming a Reflection of Heaven and Earth, though he wasn’t yet there. Still, the destructive power at his fingertips was extraordinary.
The purple monster was wracked with pain. It reacted by clamping its enormous jaws shut to suppress the imploding dimensional tear within. The monster was strong – strong
enough to simply devour the Wine Master’s strongest attack.
But it was given no respite. With a threatening roar the golden dragon descended upon it, backed by the power of several Paragons’ Domains. Reality shuddered in its passing. Tendrils of golden light suddenly appeared around the creature’s head, wrapping around it as though to tie its mouth shut.
Four pillars of light crashed onto in the same moment. The first to make contact was the largest, the enormous grey blade. When it struck ribbons of grey power joined the gold to constrain the beast. The three other lights quickly followed.
A strange and fantastical scene emerged. While the Paragons struggled vainly against the Violet Prince, the impact of those three lights made the whole ship quake.
Three jets of purple light issued from the monster’s back, spat from three identical gashes. The Prince writhed and howled.
They wounded it! Those jets of light was its blood!
The monster trashed desperately against the Domains that restrained it. Cracks appeared in the Paragons’ power as they struggled to keep hold.
In this moment of truth a flood of pink light surged through the area, covering everything like a film. It sealed the cracking Domains together, shoring them up. Then, they all became that shining pink hue. It grew brighter and brighter until – all of a sudden – everything vanished.
Another flash lit up the endless darkness of space.
The crocodile-beast was thrust out into the freezing vacuum. The pink light then deposited several other figures a short distance away. At the fore was none other than the Photographer. Spread out behind her were the Wine Master, Gourmet, Pauper, Lan Jue, Zhou Qianlin, the Pharmacist and the Driver.
Skyfire Avenue’s eight mighty warriors stared down the Violet Prince, who had re-assumed human form.
Short as their first exchange was, Lan Jue and the others had spared nothing in their assault. The only one who hadn’t gotten
involved was the Driver, but not for lack of desire. He simply had no opportunity.
Tyrannosaurus was quick to take advantage of the opportunity. Its massive white shields sprang up like a milky atmosphere. Humanity’s greatest technological achievement was called such for a reason. Even the Violet Prince wasn’t going to get passed those shields.
Rage flashed in the Prince’s eyes, but he wasn’t looking at the Paragons. His glare was reserved for Lan Jue, Qianlin and the Pharmacist. They stared back, and in their hands were the legendary weapons of ages past; Captus, Demortus, Occisus. Those three cursed weapons were the ones that had injured him. Although the humans could not see it, three small cuts ran across his back. Small though they were, they would not heal and continuously leaked purple fluid.
The Prince stood there, staring. It was impossible to tell what he was thinking.
Meanwhile Luo Xianni’s face was dark and dour. She had waited for the perfect moment to get involved, and in the Prince’s moment of weakness transferred it and them away from the Bastion ship. If the Prince had succeeded in destroying
Tyrannosaurus, all of their effort up to this point would have been for naught. At the very least it would have thrown the Northern army into chaos. Without Admiral Kang Hui, the whole strike force would been sitting ducks.
Finally the Prince settled his sights on Lan Jue’s face. Something flashed behind his eyes, and then he dissolved into a beam of purple light and vanished. The human defenders were silently relieved. Making him flee was difficult enough, keeping him there would be impossible.
They allowed themselves a moment to relax. But just then, a choking sense of danger swept over them. They each unconsciously drew their eyes up.
Asteroids from the belt of space rocks collapsed inward, and the vacuum force they’d fled from before reemerged. Lan Jue gaped at what he saw. The planet was so far! What sort of power was necessary to extend the traction this far?! He didn’t know how many asteroids there were, put big or small, whatever the number, the planet’s was drawing them in.
What was its plan?
Lan Jue felt the power tug at him even as he stood in thought. While Tyrannosaurus remained stable, the myriad ships in its fleet had been cast into disarray. Dreadnaughts and larger ships fared better because of their mass and engines, but battleships, patrol boats and even expedition ships were being dragged out of position.
Chapter 680: The Cusp
A stillness came over everything, but instead of easing the fear in Lan Jue’s heart it only increased it. As he watched the asteroids crash into one another, he and his friends were bathed in a beam of light from Tyrannosaurus.
A tractor beam. Lan Jue’s sullen expression lessened. The Admiral had come to their aid instead of kicking them while they were down. The beam drew them in, and in a flash they appeared within the belly of the Bastion ship.
A familiar face was waiting for them when the scouting party settled. It was Ling Ya, though her face was absent the prideful glower from before. Now it was drawn and pale. She bowed respectfully before them. “Please, everyone, come with me. The Admiral has requested I bring you to meet with him.” She turned and headed away.
“I’ve got it.” Lui Xianni scowled, and with a wave of her hand the pink manifestation of her power sprang up and covered them all. In a blink they were again within Kang Hui’s office.
For a Paragon of Luo Xianni’s standing the internal security o Tyrannosaurus was in name only. She only needed to know a
location to transfer herself and anywhere she pleased right to it.
When they appeared in the office, Kang Hui rose to his feet in solemn silence. He saluted.
The gesture represented his respect and appreciation for their work in those crucial moments. Words couldn’t express his sentiments well enough. Besides, there was still an eminent danger to address.
“Admiral, is there anything on the radar?” Lan Jue wasted no time, immediately engaging the Northern commander in questioning.
Undoubtedly, the ship’s radar systems were state-of-the-art. Only through it would they be able to pick out encroaching alien forces as early as possible.
Kang Hui’s eyebrows drew together. “Everything is strangely quiet. But several of our smaller ships were dragged away by that strange force. I’ve already ordered the ships to pull into defensive formations as quickly as possible.”
As he spoke, he indicated one of the large screens near him. It switched to a large radar display. It crackled and flickered, for although it was constructed of the best technology it was still affected by the Starfields’ interference.
There were a few blips indicating alien forces. But as they watched the number of bogies grew.
“They’re gathering!” Lan Jue hissed.
Kang Hui muttered. “They aren’t moving quickly… slow. At this rate they’ll be on us in an hour.”
“Admiral, prepare all ships for battle. These are aliens, we can’t face them the normal way. The one who infiltrated your ship is known as the Violet Prince – one of their strongest. He’s good at looking like us, copying our genetics. They need it because they believe our DNA will unlock their potential as a species.”
Kang Hui sighed. “How many of his kind are there?”
He knew that without the intervention of these people before
him, Tyrannosaurus would have been lost. The devastation a fourth-degree Paragon could do was unthinkable. He didn’t even want to imagine what would have happened without their help.
“We aren’t sure. At least two that we know of, and we believe the planets themselves are alien lifeforms. Those three worlds are probably the strongest of all the alien creatures.” Lan Jue voice was gloomy.
The Admiral sighed once more. It seemed things were worse than he thought.
He reached out a pressed a button on his desk. “Combat division, spread the word: All ships, prepare for battle. Get back into formation as quickly as possible and engage shields. Wait for the attack.” The aliens were amassing for an offensive, now wasn’t the time to charge ahead. They would wait for their foes to come to them.
The five fleets were some of the North’s best. Their formation had been broken by the surprise traction, but they were already forming back up. They would only have one shot at this, so the ships formed an arc formation centered around the Bastion. It allowed them to unleash the full might of their weapons on the
aliens as they came.
The full might of the aliens were on full display. All of humanity’s combined military might couldn’t copy what was amassing just outside of the fleet’s strike range.
The living planet continued ahead unabated, maintaining stable speed. The large black hole that was its maw remained open, and the mass of the planet itself seemed a hundred times larger. The length and breadth of space as far as the eye could see was thick with alien creatures.
‘Terrifying’ didn’t do the scene justice. However, they faced five of the best trained fleets in space with a planet-sized ship at their head.
With every kilometer they drew nearer, the anxiety in the air thickened.
Kang Hui closely monitored the data as it flit across his screens, ticking down the distance between the two armies. He’d called to prepare them early because different ships needed different prep time. The larger the vessel, the more time was required to charge their weapons.
Lan Jue watched the screens as well, but his mind was on other things. When he struck with Captus he felt it slip into the Prince’s body. The beast’s mighty defenses seemed significantly less mighty in the face of the Banishing Blade. In other words, the god weapons were particularly well suited against them. The Violet Prince would likely be able to survive a direct blast from Jue Di. This meant what aliens feared the most was the combination of a Paragon’s abilities and weapons such as Captus. They devoured vital energy, but it was also their undoing.
The only way to prove the hypothesis was to face the creatures again. When the Prince’s eyes had found his own, Lan Jue didn’t see hatred. He saw respect. He respects me? He must
know the Princess sought me out and made her proposition.
These monsters are no less intelligent than mankind. But what was their end game?
As he thought Qianlin stood silently by his side. Ling Ya was nearby as well, lifelessly staring at them.
She’s so beautiful! She thought. So beautiful… but where did she come from?
The two of them together seemed like towering pillars. Ling Ya’s feelings were strange; before seeing Qianlin she was
anxious to test herself against Lan Jue. However, once the beautiful woman in white appeared that eagerness abated.
She couldn’t figure out why, but it was true nonetheless. It made her uncomfortable.
The communicator on Kang Hui’s desk was never silent. Reports flooded in to Tyrannosaurus from the various fleet leaders. His office doubled as the center of military action, where all of his staff officers sent information and waited for the admiral’s orders.
Eventually Lan Jue looked at the man responsible for the Northern fleets. Being admiral was no easy job, he thought.
“Sir! The alien forces will be in range of our main cannon in five minutes. We’ve charged and ready to fire on your orders!” One of the gunnery officers shouted into the office.
“Give the order,” Kang Hui began. “Capital ships and dreadnaughts have their weapons at the ready. Once they’re in range, let them have it. Let’s test their defenses!”
It was the first time in his life Kang Hui gave that order.
How terrifying was the strength of a Bastion’s main gun! He had no choice but to see. There were two reasons; First, the enemy was clustered, it was a good opportunity to see how strong their defenses were. Second, it took twenty minutes to fully charge the weapon. Using it at the battle’s onset gave them a chance to fire it a second time.
It was a weapon of mass destruction, and two blasts increased their chances of victory.
The Skyfire scout team watched with baited breath. By now they were recovered from their fight with the Prince, but his escape was clearly planned. How was the alien planet going to face these human defenders?
What was about to transpire was one of the most important moments in human history. Who lived and who died hung in the balance.
The decision would soon be made!
“Enemy will be within range in one minute! Fifty-nine… fifty- eight… fifty-seven…”
The countdown began. Tyrannosaurus turned end over end toward the beasts, revealing its base. To save on energy the ship’s main thrusters and main canon were constructed together.
A canon the size of a small moon extended from the base. An angry red light roiled within the barrel. Even the soldiers of the Northern fleet peered out of the windows with nervous excitement. Witnessing a Bastion’s main weapons fire was a rare event.
The center of Kang Hui’s desk separated, and from the opening arose a single, blood-red button. As he placed his hand upon it, a light scanned is retinae.
“Retina and fingerprint scan complete. DNA conformation complete. Emotional state; normal. Heart rate; normal. Identification process complete.”
Not even the ship’s Captain could be trusted implicitly with a weapon as powerful as this. Checks were required to make sure
they were in the right state of mind. Only then could the hell that was Tyrannosaurus’ primary cannon be unleashed.