Skyfire Avenue Chapter 821-830

Chapter 821: Star Division Collision

The Violet Prince grunted in irritation, and gestured once again. This time a host of umbrella-shaped aliens spread out, and under the protection of armored turtle-aliens they began to approach.

He could see already that, while these humans were small in number, they commanded great strength.

On the other side, Lan Jue was quietly giving orders. Suddenly a barrage of blinding white light erupted from the planet’s surface. It surged toward the aliens like a murderous tide. The first salvo from their railguns!

Over a hundred burning streaks of energy slammed into the enemy forces.

But the Violet Prince was ready. The beast he rode upon writhed violently, and a surge of mental energy burst from it. The smaller creatures around it seemed to explode outward, flung in every direction. Most of the salvo hit nothing but air. Trying to get a lock of these aliens was going to be harder than they thought.
Only a handful of shots found their mark, striking the several thousand meter long monstrosity that protected them. However, the beast itself was safeguarded beneath a chitin-like shell. Its thick plating absorbed the railgun fire without incident. No even a scratch remained to mark where the guns had hit their target.

The enemy was stronger than expected, but Lan Jue wasn’t flustered. He glared at the armored aliens coming their way and, with eyes narrowed, nodded.

Star Division saw the signal and was on the move. A thousand soldiers spread out to meet the armored foes head to head. This time the Paragons didn’t react, instead keeping their eyes trained on the alien generals.

Tan Lingyun led her small team toward a target, one of the armored beasts. She knew this breed to be lacking in defenses power but well defended. They could survive a direct shot from a battleship. They were large, cumbersome, and hard to crack.

The next wave coming in behind them was a host of monsters that looked like evil centipedes. As Star Division moved in to intercept the turtle-aliens they rushed in as support. A spray of purple beams shot out. The salvo was cunningly arranged, with
each dozen-meter wide ray aimed right for a mecha suit.

Star Division then proved their worth on the battlefield.

Tan Lingyun led the counteroffensive in her emerald-green mecha. She launched off of the turtle-alien with the tip of her mechanical foot and launched herself into the air. In her hands glinted the pair of short swords that were her weapons, and she swiped them downwards. The speed of their movement left behind a streak of aquamarine power that spread out in a wave. The wave seemed almost soft, but in its passage the air rippled strangely. The beams of purple light that had been cast their way were reflected back as they encountered the sword-swipes, no small amount of which pummeled the turtle-alien in front of them. None of the shots reached Tan Lingyun’s team.

Hers wasn’t the only team to evade the attack, similar tactics were employed for the other units. For instance, Tang Xiao morphed himself into a shield – teasingly formed in the shape of a turtle – that protected his team.

The aliens were strong, but their strength only came into play within a certain scope. They could defend themselves well enough against warships, but Star Division was another matter.
Not every team chose to take the blasts head on. Some had more clever solutions. The turtle creatures were over a hundred meters long in some cases, and though cumbersome made for effective barriers. The largest human mecha suits were twenty meters, max. Lan Jue saw some of the teams knock the turtle a hundred and eighty degrees and use it as a shield. Their shell was the alien’s greatest advantage. If a human couldn’t break it, then how could these centipedes?

The shells were strong, but didn’t cover the alien from head to toe. Like a turtle they had limbs and a head, and those were its weakest points.

Star Division’s reaction was quick. In what looked like just a flash of color, the beasts were immobile or dead. Many of their vital crystals had been extracted and recovered by the soldiers. Meanwhile the centipedes continued their hail of fire to no effect.

A hundred turtle-aliens were dead or turned to the enemy’s profit. The Violet Prince’s face was a dark thunderhead. These humans… they were proving troublesome.

He looked upon Lan Jue with some small measure of fear. He had felt the power released when he and Qianlin had broken
through. Even now his human-like heart beat with trepidation.

It was this fear that stopped him from sending in a full charge. However, it was beginning to seem as though typical alien soldiers were ineffectual. When did their turtle brethren become so weak? It was as though they didn’t have any armor at all.

Of course that wasn’t true, their defenses were strong as ever. But now they faced human Discipline, mighty powers enhanced by technological mastery. It was particularly effective against their own strengths, which relied on vital  energy.  It  was proving far more fatal than pure energy alone. The turtles were dealt with before they could serve their intended purpose.

At last the Violet Prince engaged. He waved his hand and a flood of purple light spread out from him, swallowing his lesser soldiers in its wake. As the power washed over them the aliens’ eyes darkened to an angry wine hue. Their bodies swelled, and a fierce aura hung over them.

Amplification?

Lan Jue smirked. Did he think they couldn’t play the same
game? He needn’t say anything, Qianlin was already releasing her soothing light over the soldiers. Over a few short days she had been imbued with an enormous flood of faith. She was only too eager to release some of it.

The power of faith was a pure form of energy, suppressing it was difficult. If it had been the Pontiff in her place, he would have been only too happy to turn that faith toward personal benefit, to make himself stronger.

However the faith he had commanded was borne of tradition, whereas Qianlin’s was the result of salvation. The Pontiff’s people begged for peace within them, and Qianlin’s followers had been directly saved. The purity of it was entirely different. She was their redeemer! Faith like that was sincere and powerful, how could Qianlin not benefit from it even if she didn’t seek to?

The white light spread far and wide, even covering the nearest centipede monsters. To them the light was like the fire from a thousand suns. They screamed in pain and fled before they were destroyed, trailing plumes of acrid purple smoke. Even direct orders from the Violet Prince fell on deaf ears. Fear and instinct overrode his commands.
Human reactions were reversed. Under the light of the Queen of Heaven they felt refreshed, renewed. Any energy they’d expended was returned to them in an instant, but there was something more. It was as though there was something in the air, something that merged with them and communicated with their Disciplines. A strength they’d never felt filled their bodies.

The more experienced Adepts understood – this was protogenia. What they felt was the pull of their truth living in the threads of the universe. It was only the faintest hint, but to them it was almost miraculous. Just like Lan Jue had in years past, using his protogenia through his Ascension to amplify his powers, these soldiers were strengthened. It lifted them up in every way!

Lan Jue’s decision to bring Star Division into the main fight was not random. By now the leaders of every unit of Star Division was a ninth level Talent. Their mecha suits were custom made to blend with their abilities seamlessly, resulting in formidable destructive power especially harmful to aliens.

But this was secondary. Star Division wouldn’t be able to stop the full alien army by their own strength alone. Even with a couple interstellar fleets as backup, the enemy was simply too strong, and powerful though the railguns were their efficacy was limited.
The Paragons were the true power. Star Division’s primary directive was to keep them safe. Making sure they survived was paramount to the success or failure of the human assault. Prior to making his suggestion to Lan Qing, he’d made sure to have Qianlin try her Discipline on normal Adepts first.

They were pleasantly surprised!

Under the Queen of Heaven Domain, these Adepts could begin to sense their own protogenia. They couldn’t control it, but its presence was enough to amplify their abilities by three hundred percent or more.

What’s more, Qianlin’s abilities restored their  energy  the same as it did for Paragons. She was a one-woman support team for the whole Division, and with her help their chances of survival rose sharply.

Chapter 822: Queen of Heaven Amplification

Under the light of the Queen of Heaven, the soldiers felt their Disciplines change. Their Cores were unlocked, their potential released. That unexplainable carefree sensation made their confidence soar, and when the aliens came crashing down on them it was like colliding with a dam. The  human  soldiers didn’t give them an inch of ground.

Of course, the Paragons were not idle.

A small, quaint clock appeared in the Epochrion’s hand. Its top and bottom halves separated, revealing a universe of stars within. The twinkling globes danced in strange patterns. In response, time became a lazy river that forced the encroaching aliens to a near-standstill. Once they got close to Star Division’s line the Paragon’s Domain made them sitting sucks.

Control over the flow of time! Easy for someone of the Clockmaker’s strength.

There were powerful beasts among the alien invaders as well, but since they were all borne from the same source their powers were all drawn from a singular well. Humans though – and
especially Paragons – were all unique in their abilities. Each one was possessed of their own strengths.

The Epochrion and the Cosmagus worked together to bring their foes low. While the Epochrion took away the advantage of their speed, Skyfire Avenue’s Wine Master was responsible for helping Star Division’s fighters. When a soldier began to tire or was in mortal danger, a flash of silver conveyed them behind the front line. This prevented their unified defense from being broken. The Wine Master handily controlled the battlefield, eliminating the creatures he deemed too much for Star Division and expertly extracting their vital crystals. With the help of the two Paragons, Skyfire Avenue’s private army was having no trouble stemming the purple tide of gnashing teeth and swiping claws.

For now. The enemy was many, numbering in the tens of thousands. How long could they continue at this pace before their energy ran out? Eventually they would run out, and be drowned.

Angel’s new planetary defenses delivered its second salvo. The enemy had charged at the humans in a group, which strengthened their charge. However, it also made avoiding the railguns more difficult. The largest creature leaned on its doughty defenses again, but couldn’t protect all of its smaller
compatriots. Many were felled by the hail of fire.

All the while, the Violet Prince’s eyes were fixed on Lan Jue with a burning hatred. This clash between Star Division and the alien force was only the overture. The true battle would be the contest between both sides’ generals. Lan Jue had proven himself a foe to be feared after cutting the life from Monarch’s avatar. The impression his victory left was deep, especially within the heart of the Prince. He was no longer so sure of his supremacy.

The Prince also sensed another, stronger power hidden somewhere in the wings. From time to time he could feel the enigmatic aura, but only for a moment before it would vanish again. Whatever human commanded that strength was a real threat to his life. He watched from his vantage atop the enormous monster he rode in on, watching and biding his time.

He would wait for the most opportune moment, when his forces broke the human defensive line. Their Paragons would be forced to engage and weakness would be revealed. That was the time to strike.

Lan Jue was also measured in action. On the one hand the situation was under control, and on the other this was good
experience for his people. This would not be the last time Star Division would need to fight against overwhelming odds. It was important they grew accustomed to space combat, to Qianlin’s augmentative powers. So long as the danger wasn’t too great, allowing them to cut their teeth on these enemies was the best sort of training.

The human defenders felt more courageous and powerful the more they fought beneath Qianlin’s soothing light. Their enemies were strong, but so were they. Within the protective confines of their mechas beams of light fired out at their enemies, some over a hundred meters long. Under their combined fire the aliens fell like flies, and the leaders of each unit led their soldiers into the fray.

The stronger aliens were still to come, but for now the situation was well in hand.

The Pharmacist cast a glance toward Lan Jue. He, in turn, shook his head. Now wasn’t the time to reveal their full strength. They had to find the right time not just to stall these monsters, but to slay as many as they could.

Time ticked by, minute by minute, as the battle raged. Signs of exhaustion were beginning to show, in the pilots as well as
their suits. But the soldiers’ training and battle experience served them well. Already more than three thousand of these monstrosities had been killed, many relinquishing their vital crystals.

Quite the showing, considering this was Star Division’s first battle in space.

The Wine Master continued to recall soldiers too tired to continue. As their numbers dwindled Star Division began to be pushed back. The mass of creatures that had been waiting for this moment began to writhe anxiously.

Lan Jue’s eyes sparkled, and when he spoke his voice was low and even. “Driver, Pharmacist. You’re up.”

The Pharmacist had started to feel impatient. The hatred she felt for these monsters seeped down into her bones. Lan Jue’s order was hardly out of his mouth before a hail of stabbing white light erupted from her.

The sword-swipes moved with remarkable speed, plowing into the enemy force in a matter of moments. Lan Jue cast his attention toward the ground and shouted another order.
The railguns below were commanded to fire at will, turning Angel’s surface into a bristling field of light. The mighty weapons fired again and again, maintaining pressure against the enemy.

The Violet Prince surveyed his own warriors and saw that they were beginning to fracture. If this continued he wouldn’t be able to keep control of their formation.

The first two rounds from the railguns had been at reduced power – one-third of their capabilities. Lan Jue had been holding back. He knew the alien understood humans, their weapons and tactics. He used their confidence against them by appearing weak while waiting for the perfect moment to strike back.

This salvo punished the aliens for their hubris. With the sudden, explosive arrival of the Driver and Pharmacist on the field, their losses were great. The tightly-bound clusters the aliens were in was just what the Pharmacist wanted. The more of these fiends she killed, the stronger Domain became.

Meanwhile the Driver was also wreaking havoc. He shot into the midst of the aliens as a bolt of lightning then released his Domain like a bomb. He was on the cusp of becoming a
Reflection of Heaven and Earth, and his understanding of primordial lightning helped him tremendously. He had come to call his Domain Primal, in honor of this power that had transformed him. As it spread out, his pocket of the cosmos became a dazzling display of thunderbolts.

This manifestation of his protogenia was mighty indeed, and any aliens caught within range was devoured by the burning light. Although primordial lightning was not as strong as All- Heaven lightning, the difference was small. Each bolt disintegrate scores of aliens as it streaked through space.

The Paragons and railgun fire stabilized the front line and halted their gradual retreat. The steady slaughter of the monsters continued.

Their Prince had begun to feel a nagging sense of unease. He had fought many battles against the humans, including their strongest. He felt he understood them. As far as he had seen there were only a handful of these pink creatures that could cause him harm. Even these so-called Paragons, by and large, did not possess the power needed to cause him fear.

However as he watched the Pharmacist and Driver eliminate his soldiers, the Prince had to admit that there were some
among his prey who were worthy adversaries. The force at their fingertips was devastating to the aliens, and inhibited their vital energy.

He stamped his feet, and the beast upon which he rode screeched a terrible roar. However, roar was not the proper word for there was no sound. Instead a wave of gut-wrenching turbulence ripped through space and toward the human line.

The aliens that were caught in the shockwave rode it forward, their bodies rippling grotesquely but otherwise were unaffected. The humans would not meet it so easily. It first was met by the Clockmaker’s Domain and rush through without stopping. The Epochrion felt it shatter beneath the force of the wave before roaring passed toward Star Division. It looks like a collision was inevitable.

Suddenly, an impenetrable wall appeared between the shockwave and Star Division. A wall of flesh. Scores of people, each one a thousand meters high, stood with their hands linked and facing down the blast. A golden light and awe-inspiring aura surrounded them all.

The acoustic attack crested against them like a storm surge, but went no further. The figures stood with their feet planted
and didn’t move an inch. The two forces were separated by the enormous golden silhouettes, with whatever forces remaining behind them quickly put down by the Pharmacist and Driver.

“Titans!” The giants roared in one voice. Then, in a single fluid movement, they all lashed out with a punch toward the enemy.

The power they unleashed took away the breath of the human onlookers. Aliens several times their size were thrust away like they were made of paper. The aliens’ murderous advance was abruptly turned back on them. Now it was the Prince’s camp that was beginning to lose ground.

There were only a few among the humans who had the power to single-handedly turn the tide of battle. This time it had been the Terminator.

Nirvana, ubiquitous power! After rising to the next level his transformations became myriad. This new ability, Titan, was what they witnessed now. Once again he emerged in the midst of battle, putting himself between his people and danger. Without him the seven Paragons on Heaven’s Light would never have survived.

Chapter 823: The Golden Titan

After breaking through to Nirvana, the Terminator’s abilities surged to new heights. His combat prowess was the stuff of legends. All of the problems of his construction that held him back before had been resolved, effectively  transforming  him into a congenital Talent. A real Nirvana-level master.

His appearance now was intended to turn away the enemy and give his human comrade an advantage.

The Violet Prince’s eyes flickered with a cold light, and whatever dark purpose crossed his mind was shared by the beast below him. The enormous creatures hurled itself forward, leaving the Prince and Princess behind in the emptiness of space. Every meter of its snake-like body squirmed and writhed as it raced for the titans. When it arrived the monster whipped around and lashed out at the golden line with its tail. Where the appendage passed the universe seemed cleaved in two.

The golden titans glowed with an aura of tungsten light. As the evil wyrm’s tail came crashing through they they did not flee. None of the enormous images ducked or dodged, simply taking the beating head on. However, something strange was revealed, for as the titans were struck they were not destroyed or thrown away. Instead they stuck to the tail like plaster,
melting into an adhesive liquid that coiled around its body.

One after the other they suffered the lash of the monster’s tail, only to stick tenaciously to it. Even as large as the creature was, the weight of these titanic defenders was proving to be more than it could stand. Its tail began to droop, and as it did the liquid gold reformed into a titanic image even larger than before. This one was over ten thousand meters tall, dark skinned and heroic – the Terminator. He channeled the powers of Nirvana through himself to create this unique, melee fighting style.

Dozens of savage dark-gold spikes erupted from the Terminator’s flesh and dug into the monster. As it brandished its tail, desperately whipping it about to free itself from the Terminator’s clutches, the humongous Paragon only dug in deeper. Aliens too slow or too foolish to move were smashed to a fine mist as the Terminator was flung around.

The massive alien beast roared in pain and frustration, struggling with ever more violent maneuvers. But the Terminator would be removed, no matter how valiantly it struggled. The two were locked in struggle between the two armies.
Star Division took this opportunity to catch their breath. Under Qianlin’s restorative Domain they quickly began to recover their strength and stamina.

The Pharmacist and Driver split up, each going to the opposite flank to defend against aliens trying to get around. On the planet below railguns were still firing. The aliens still could not find a way through the defensive line.

Lan Jue’s cold, hard eyes glared at the Violet Prince and Princess. The aliens didn’t have the upper hand yet, but they also had yet to advance on the humans with their full strength. Victory or defeat rested on whether the two alien generals could be dealt with.

A strange look played across the Princess’ face as she looked upon Lan Jue. A stream of purple light shot forward quicker than anyone could react. In a blink, she was standing before Star Division’s commander. Her hand reached out for him.

Lan Jue didn’t know much about the enigmatic alien royalty, but he did know her to be as strong as she was cruel. He saw her intentions in her eyes moments before she acted, and stood his ground fearlessly.
Lan Jue and Qianlin, blades in hand, struck  back.  They reacted as one, slipping seamlessly into the posture Apparent Close-up. Focused flow combined with the Taiji style was both majestic and dignified. Lan Jue faced the Princess’ advance as solid as a lofty mountain.

Qianlin’s Thousand Swords as One technique together with
the posture was agile as the wind and gentle as spring rain. The motion simultaneously sealed any escape and slipped into every opening.

It’s been a while since my Taiji days, and any practitioner in the comments please feel free to correct me. Apparent Closing- up is a defense/counterattack posture. I don’t think there’s an equivalent in the sword form, but hand-to-hand the intention is to draw your enemy in while they attack, force them to overextend, then strike back. In Taiji pay close attention to the center of mass of the practitioner, their upper body remains relatively immobile, it’s their feet and core which moves. The posture begins with the defender leaning onto his back leg, keeping the attacker’s target out of reach or – if the defender’s been grabbed – pulling them off balance. When the attacker moves in, the defender’s hands drop to either deflect the blow downward, or grab the attacker’s wrist and give them a subtle tug off balance. Since they’ve already overextended and are no longer ‘rooted’ (meaning maintaining balance through good footwork), the defender rolls forward with both hands, pushes
up from the ground and shoves the attacker away. If you do it right, you can really send people flying.

Their movements were mirrored, their intentions one. Harmonious Swords. The rainbow-colored light that emerged between them formed a shield that blocked the Princess’ aggression.

Bang! The moment they made contact the rainbow light expanded like a detonation. The violet light that had threatened to swallow Lan Jue up was deflected away like waves against a Cliffside.

Both Lan Jue and the Princess didn’t budge, attack  and defense evenly matched. All of the other Paragons were thrown back by the force of the Princess’ charge. However in the midst of their shock they also breathed a sigh of relief. Qianlin and Lan Jue, hand in hand, could stand on their own against an Infinite-level foe.

Lan Jue’s reaction was internal, his exclamations ringing in his heart. Not long ago he was little more than a thorn in the Princess’ side, hardly above the worth of a stray dog. Where before he had no choice but to flee from her, now he could stand against her power.
After their temporary isolation, both he and Qianlin were more familiar with the nature of their protogenia. This was also true for their Harmonious Swords technique. Jun Yongye and Xuanyuan Shishi taught them that it wasn’t necessary for them to pour all of their energy into the technique. The Harmonious Swords were about application of swordsmanship in combination with intention. A little internal energy could go a long way when paired with technique. Not only did this reduce the energetic cost, but also made their attacks stronger.

The most important part of their isolation had been studying the Harmonious Swords. Now they put this new knowledge to good use in defending themselves against the Violet Princess.

Surprise was revealed on the alien royalty’s face. She hadn’t witnessed Lan Jue’s breakthrough herself, only heard the details from the Prince. While she always recognized his potential, she still assumed him to be her inferior. He was not an adversary, but a potential mate. Now, though, she began to wonder if her determination was wrong. Perhaps this man was stronger than she gave him credit for.

In the moment of collision she had felt a strange power resist her, causing space and time to collapse. This collapse stymied her powers and kept them from spreading out, instead being swallowed up by the void. It was swiftly followed by the
sensation of a hundred thousand needles digging into her soft flesh. If she had continued her attack she might have even gotten hurt. As such she had not yet countered Lan Jue’s Harmonious Swords.

The two Paragons shared a look, seeing each other reflected in the depths of their eyes. As one, they reached out again with their Banishing Blades. Red and blue light burst forth, mingling together into a panoply of color. The Harmonious Swords, giving shape to the depths of human vengeance!

The spirits of the swords arose unhindered as a torrent; focused flow, ten thousand swords as one.

The rainbow of color took on a life of its own, flaring with incomparable force. The breadth of its power filled space.

A cold anger glinted behind the Princess’ eyes. Ten dagger-like nails sprang out from the tip of each finger and she swiped at the air. Purple streamers followed in the wake of her claws as she tore at the righteous light. Then she pulled her arms apart, as though trying to rip the emulsion of the Harmonious Blade in two.
Vicious and feral, that was the alien fighting style. Both Lan Jue and Qianlin felt their protogenia destabilize as it came under assault. Suddenly the Princess’ power was everywhere all at once, surrounding them in her terrifying presence.

Just as she seemed to have them in her clutches, the Princess’ face changed. Her suffocating bearing weakened, and instead of the light of the Harmonious Swords being ripped apart she staggered.

The light pushed back, struck her, and forced her back. However Lan Jue could see it didn’t cause any lasting damage. With powers that were borne of the Infinite, her resilience was legendary.

Ka-cha! The Violet Princess was painted pink from head to toe as the sound of a camera shutter snapped in their ears. She was frozen in place. A menacing aura as powerful as her own descended upon them. It was so stifling it almost made Lan Jue and Qianlin drop their weapons.

A light as brilliant and mesmerizing as beams from heaven shone from on high. Everything outside of the god  rays darkened to nothing. All the rest of the universe seemed inferior to what was appearing before them.
For the first time, fear was plain on the Princess’ face. She wanted to struggle but found she could not move. Lan Jue shared a mysterious smile with Qianlin and then, suddenly, they vanished.

A towering staff descended in the midst of the golden column of light. In fact the light was radiating from its bronze surface. Reality tore itself apart at the borders of it, like everything they knew was being swallowed in a sea of black holes.

All light, all energy was swallowed up by the staff. In the distance the Violet Prince stared with pale face, but couldn’t run even if his legs would let him.

Somewhere far away they both heard the derisive grunt. The Violet Princess was encased in a shell of purple light that burned away the pink that had been holding her.

The staff crashed down upon the crown on her head. The blow threw her thousands of meters away.

The purple light cracked and fell away like an eggshell, followed by spider web fractures slithering all over the Princess’ body. She began to slowly disintegrate, but was saved from
destruction when another shell of purple energy enveloped her. Despite this she continued to bleed profusely. After suffering such a tremendous strike, she could no longer control the form of her body.

Jue Di appeared by Lan Jue’s side. His hard, cruel eyes glared into the distance. “Give me everything you’ve got. If you can.”

Silence answered him. The Violet Prince had recovered the Princess and returned her to his side. Clearly she had suffered a nearly mortal blow. Her beautiful face was pale and streaked with blood, and her eyes wide with fear and alarm. She had felt death coming for her, sensed her essence fleeing.

Lan Jue narrowed his eyes in thought. From the start he figured the Prince and Princess would make an appearance. By virtue of the ten Paragons on the human side, he was confident that even with royalty as their adversaries they could hold them. The Prince and Princess were strong, but they would not bring the Avatars and leave the solar system’s interior entirely undefended.

Chapter 824: Winning Buddha Legacy

Because of this, their strength was limited. For now Lan Jue was relying on the strength of his fellow Paragons, and waiting for his enemy to make the first move.

Lan Jue had faith that he and Qianlin’s Harmonious Sword technique could resist the Prince and Princess, despite their power gap. He’d done it before, all that was needed is to give his mother and father a chance to act.

Their foes could vaguely sense his mother’s presence, but they didn’t know his father was also near. Jue Di was the strongest human alive, and had explored the secrets of the Infinite for an untold number of years. One on one, neither the Prince nor Princess had what was needed to best him. Only Monarch was a threat.

Lan Jue had hoped that either one of the royals attacked him. If they did, his mother and father could move in and cut them down. If one of these alien generals could be destroyed it would be a great victory for the humans. What’s more, their vital crystals would definitely be of great help to Jue Di.

Unfortunately his hopes did not come to fruition. He did not
expect the two aliens to defend each other so well, enough to ward off his father’s full attack.

When Jue Di’s staff came crashing down, Lan Jue felt the force of it. Not even the Harmonious Swords could defend against something like that. His father’s strength was truly awe- inspiring.

He knew where his father’s inheritance was derived from. It was the essence of a mighty being passed down from antiquity, no less mighty than the Buddhas of old. He had been called the Winning Buddha – Great Sage Equal to Heaven!

The Monkey King. Really the Monkey King was a total asshole, which fits into the earlier narratives we have of Jue Di. He stole, he beat people up, he was an agent of chaos. I could never get far enough along in his story, but I’m told he’s forcibly reeducated by a Buddhist master later – after being buried under a mountain for a thousand years.

Jue Di’s astrum was a weapon of his own creation, modeled after the golden staff that was favored by the Great Sage. In regards to strength it was no less potent than a Banishing Blade, and in fact had some advantages the swords did not.
Yet, it still was not enough to kill the Violet Princess.

Jue Di was not put off by the failure of his sneak attack to end her life. He hovered in the air with an imperatorial air, and though he did not press the attack he had become the center of the battle.

When the ultimate Paragon revealed himself the humans’ spirits soared. The aliens sensed his stupefying aura and hesitated. Their leader, the Prince, scowled. Four flashes of purple lit up the space around him revealing four figures, but only one of them was an avatar.

The avatar took a step forward, and in a blink it was past the Prince and standing in front of Jue Di. Flickers of purple light hung over its figure.

But its powers were only Nirvana-level.

“You are also a robust creature. You have achieved such heights, why do you remain in conflict with us? Our realm with certainly have a place for the likes of you. Together our people can overcome the tyranny of the universe! Sure you understand this truth?” The monstrous voice it spoke with had a peculiar
quality to it, an allure that inspired capitulation.

This was Monarch’s voice, or some shadow of it. Though the alien patriarch was not present it could speak through these copies. As he gazed upon the shell of light that crackled around the beast Lan Jue suddenly understood – it had been Monarch that saved the Violet Princess.

The revelation struck him like a ton of bricks. Were they not in the midst of their evolution? How were they able to express their power so far away? It meant that they were a threat regardless of where they were. Did this portend that Lan Qing would be facing the power of the three alien home worlds in his own campaign? What chance did they stand now?

Lan Jue felt like he was being drowned in an ocean of despair.
A terrifying chill filled him.

Jue Di’s response was calm. “Not bad. Contending against universal protogenia is important to us as well. But you have your people, and I have my own. Your methods of overcoming the universe are based on the destruction of humans, my brethren. Already you have slain so many. Do you expect me to stand at your side after the atrocities you’ve committed? Those who are not of our blood do not hold the same ideals. Even if
you succeed to creating your realm it would be no place for me – we are not the same. A whole new universe wouldn’t be big enough for both of us.”

A chilly tone entered Monarch’s voice. “You aren’t strong enough to stand against me. Once we succeed and I rise to new heights of dominance, I will consider halting the destruction of your species. It would hold no more interest for me. But I will only let you live if you cease your resistance now.”

Jue Di laughed openly in the monster’s face. “What are you, three years old? Nothing but empty words. You would simply go back on your word the moment your realm was created. My people and I would be slain. Our destiny is in our hands, so continue your evolution if you can. We’ll see who dominates in the end.”

The avatar glared at Jue Di with cold, feral eyes. After a moment, it nodded. “Very well!”

The purple aura drained from the avatar and it returned to normal. The host of aliens around them began to slither away, breaking off the attack.
The titanic monster struggling with the Terminator roared. Its tail broke free, shed like a lizard’s. Then it and its smaller brethren returned to the Prince’s side where they receded into the darkness of space as one.

They were retreating. Jue Di’s authoritative appearance had pushed them back, resulting in a stellar victory for humans. Many alien creatures were destroyed, while mankind had emerged without casualties.

Lan Jue did not give the order to pursue. The enemy’s retreat was slow and orderly, and there was high chance of an ambush if they chose to go after them. Their mission was to protect Angel, which they had.

“Let’s head back.” Jue Di grumbled at them.

Star Division set about gathering vital crystals from the corpse of their fallen foes. Only then did they head back to the safety of the planet.

Repelled! The enemy had been pushed back! The good news flew to all corners of Angel. They had really fought back the tide of destruction!
But Lan Jue and the others were not overjoyed. This was only the start, information about the others was their new priority. Once news of the armada’s situation got back they would decide whether or not to join Lan Qing on Middle Heaven.

They learned of their status soon. Though Angel was safe, the armada was locked in a deadly stalemate at the front lines.

“Excellent!” After hearing about Lan Jue’s success a fierce light shone in Lan Qing’s eyes. Now that their rear was secured, they could push forward without worry.

Hua Li and Kang Hui also got the news.

“Shall we begin, Admiral Lan?” Kang Hui’s deep voice queried.

Lan Qing nodded. Now was the time for them to do their part.

A few moments later, Middle Heaven began to stir from its silent vigil.
The Violet Prince, Princess, and at least some of the avatars were absent from this battlefield. Lan Qing’s forces faced only a few of their top echelons, marking this as their best opportunity to press ahead. He’d been waiting for news from Angel, and now he had it.

An angry orange glow sprang up behind Middle Heaven, pushing the warplanet forward toward the enemy. Their foes did not have human worlds to hide behind this time, their only option was direct combat.

The three bastions started ahead at the same time, with the twelve fleets in neat formation around them. All together they slowly advanced.

On the enemy’s side their formation shifted. Creatures that were leading the charge split off from the main force and began to trace a route toward the armada’s flanks. The beasts in the rear were revealed.

Soldiers huddled by the windows of their ships saw the monstrous aliens appear from behind the front lines. Each one of them looked like giant winged crocodiles over ten thousand meters long. All told there were twelve, and each one bore a humanoid finger standing on its head. Avatars of the three
planets.

Twelve enormous beasts, and twelve avatars to command them. Twenty four Paragon-level monstrosities headed their way. Most were equivalent in strength to Nirvana, but at least three bore the power of the Infinite.

Seeing so many powerful foes arrayed against them caused Lan Qing to suck in a breath. Their forces were more capable than he’d anticipated. This showed that the aliens had never employed their full strength against the humans. Perhaps they hadn’t needed to before. Now, however, their presence spoke volumes.

Kang Hui scowled at the scene. He’d downplayed Lan Qing’s warning when he’d told them the aliens had not yet showed their full hand. He suspected the Admiral of being overly cautious. If they had the strength, why didn’t these monsters simply overrun the humans from the outset? Lan Qing had shared his reasoning but Kang Hui only agreed on the surface.

The truth of Lan Qing’s words was proven now. The terrifying might of their enemy was revealed to them. Comparatively the humans didn’t even have twenty-four Paragons to answer with.
“Should we ask the Paragons to join us, Admiral Lan?” Kang Hui asked.

Chapter 825: The Battle for the Universe Begins

Lan Qing shook his head. “Don’t be hasty. We’ll call them when we need them the most.” He had his plans, the core of which were secret even to Kang Hui and Hua Li.

Kang Hui couldn’t help but admire the Admiral as he looked at his calm fa├žade through the screen. It was more than impressive that he could maintain his composure in the face of this alien threat. No wonder he achieved the rank of admiral so young.

He made no further complaints. The Eastern leader’s fortitude washed away any final doubts he had.

Middle Heaven didn’t stop or slow after the appearance of this mighty impediment, and maintained the same forward momentum. Its honeycomb array of cannons stretched out, smoldering with orange light. They were ready to fire at a moment’s notice.

The three bastions and their twelve support fleets moved into battle formation.
The center of the alien force was the twelve crocodile titans and the twelve avatars that rode them. The rest of the horde spread out on either side, far enough to avoid taking too much damage from human long-ranged attacks. Measures were taken to even the playing field and reduce their enemy’s advantage, learned from a wealth of experience on the battlefield.

It was necessary. Out here in the emptiness of space there was nowhere to hide, and so long as they were outside of melee distance they were inhibited. What’s more, their loss at Angel meant they didn’t have a rear force to fall back on.

Somewhere behind them was Europa and their home worlds, trying desperately to succeed in their own breakthrough. But the aliens didn’t fear, they were confident the humans couldn’t break their line.

Lan Qing’s guess had been correct, the aliens had not used their full strength at the beginning this war. One important reason was they feared destroying the human soldiers outright would reveal to them how strong they would need to make their next attempt. The creatures didn’t want stronger opposition.

Now the human armada was proving to be more troublesome than they’d predicted. The only way to make sure they were
stopped was to finally reveal the strength the aliens had been hiding this whole time. Victory would come at a cost, but it was necessary. If another group of humans of comparable strength showed up, they could negatively impact their masters’ evolution.

And so a dogfight was inevitable where the aliens would try to do as much damage as they could while maintaining their own numbers. As ever their goal was clear – stall for time.

So far, at least on the surface, they appeared successful. The humans had made it into the solar system’s interior, but it’d cost them dearly in time and resources. Every moment brought them closer to the ascension of their home worlds to godhood. Even if the humans sent another group, by the time they got here it would be too late.

Stretching over two thousand meters tall, the central avatar seemed to lead the others. Its head snapped up, quickly followed by the others. Twelve thunderous roars were released as one from the monsters they rode.

The waves of sound and energy were so intense they shook the empty space between the two armies. Miniscule cracks appeared in reality as the wave of power headed toward the
human ships. A shockwave, their version of a long-ranged attack.

Lan Jue had provided his brother with more than news of their victory. He’d also handed over a full recording of the encounter, and with it integral information about this massive fiends. Armed with this knowledge Lan Qing had ordered all ships to have their ships on and at full capacity.

Middle Heaven responded by releasing a barrage of orange light back at them.

The rays of energy burned holes in the shockwave that bled off its power. Still, the combined ire of twelve Nirvana-level beasts was intrepid.

Danger to the bastions themselves was limited, large as they were – the worst they might suffer was a good tremor. However, the smaller ships fared less fortunately. A few were blasted out of formation and strained the armada’s steel curtain.

Just then the aliens rushed in like locusts from either side, madly gnashing their teeth and swiping their claws. The titanic monstrosities followed  close  behind,  propelled  forward by
beating wings. Their target was Middle Heaven.

The commanders of the alien horde were cunning. They knew the key to routing the armada was to first destroy the largest of them. With Middle Heaven destroyed human morale would plummet. Victory would be in their clawed grasp.

Standing in the command center, Lan Qing was unfazed by the deadly tide bearing down on them. Instead he only muttered to himself. “This is all you’ve got?”

“Interstellar fleets, proceed.”

Helmsmen aboard the scores of human vessels received the order and the ships began to move. The three bastions threw open their hangar bays and belched out clouds of drones. Like launched like guided missiles. Drones were typically between thirty and fifty meters long, though each bastion was equipped with slightly different aircraft.

Drones from Tyrannosaurus were a sky-blue color and were marked with a dinosaur insignia. They were fifty meters long, equipped with a laser blaster and four antimatter missiles that packed as much punch as a small positron cannon. Only the
North, with its deep pockets, could outfit their drones with so much firepower. Neither the North nor West could compare in this regard.

Poseidon Group, however, was another story. As the richest organization in all of human history, it was impossible to understate how highly they regarded their flagship. Nothing was spared in its construction nor in the fleets that accompanied it. Up to now those fleets had proven their technical superiority, in some ways performing better even than Tyrannosaurus.

The drones aboard Poseidon were forty meters long, slightly smaller than their Northern counterparts. They were a deep, cobalt blue and had the Poseidon trident emblazoned on their surface. They also bore laser blasters, two instead of one, and six guided missiles. Two of those were antimatter missiles, and the remaining four were soft water bombs. Their destructive power far outstripped Tyrannosaurus’ drones, and boasted of Poseidon’s wealth.

Laser fire was the proverbial bread and butter of fighter drones. It’s how they stayed in the fight. Missiles were damaging, yes, but more importantly was whether the ships had enough energy reserves to stay in fray longer. Arming these drones with two laser guns proved Poseidon Group’s faith that
they had enough energy to meet and surpass their brethren from other alliances – the result of extensive scientific research.

Ten thousand drones were released from the bowels of Tyrannosaurus, a truly stunning number. However, not to be outdone, Poseidon boasted eighteen thousand fighters of their own – even more than the North’s fallen Terminator bastion.

Middle Heaven’s drones were white and were marked with the ensign of the Bloodiron Khans. They were a surprising sixty meters long, even larger than Tyrannosaurus’. Were it not for the sheer size of Middle Heaven, it wouldn’t be capable of housing very many such machines.

Although they were long, their construction was exceedingly slender and streamlined. None of them were fitted with missiles, but they did have four laser cannons as replacements. They were specialized to only one mode of combat. Flame decals adorned their tails.

Three very different classes of fighter drones, each as effective as the last. Poseidon’s vessels appeared to be the most punishing, but were also the smallest. Appearances were deceiving. Tyrannosaurus’ drones were middle of the road in regards to size, and showed off the North’s technical
superiority.

Finally there was Middle Heaven’s squadron, largest of the group. However size was not the most important factor in interstellar combat. Larger ships made larger targets for the enemy! What’s more they didn’t have any missiles as secondary artillery. Contemporary military strategists would conclude they were the weakest of the three classes.

The four laser cannons were notable, but largely disregarded as laughable especially for Northerners. The North had more bastions – and thus more experience with them – than any other alliance. The drones aboard Tyrannosaurus were the result of all their research and expertise. They struck the perfect balance between attack, speed and maneuverability.

Chapter 826: Who is Mightiest?

To the North, the Poseidon-class bastion was an upstart, new to the game. It was strong, certainly, but essentially purchased through the Group’s stupendous wealth. Meanwhile Middle Heaven’s fighter drones seemed unreasonable.

The cost of laser guns were not cheap. Although they were reusable – unlike missiles – they had to be practical in function otherwise they were just decoration. How much energy did they require? At the North’s current level of technology equipping their drones with two laser weapons was already pushing the upper limit. Continuous use of both drained their energy reserves quickly, making returns to the bastion for resupply more frequent. On average, a drone needed thirty minutes to charge their stores back to full capacity. That was thirty minutes away from the action.

Drones weren’t just used for harassing the enemy, either. They performed well at causing interference, which meant the longer they could remain on the field the more effective they were.

Four laser guns looked impressive, and they could probably cause some damage, but how many shots could you get off? They were sitting ducks once their energy stores were exhausted
without missiles to back them up, making them essentially useless. Half the time they’d spend docked on the bastion, charging.

Middle Heaven had shocked the commanders of other vessels again and again throughout the war. Yet despite this Northern military officers scorned these new drones. The East was the East, they joked to one another, ever inferior. These fancy drones were little more than a ploy to trick the public into thinking they were strong.

Their derisive comments would change, however, as the fight unfolded.

As the three bastions released their cloud of drones they spread out to the armada’s periphery. The ships were small, but were superior in both speed and maneuverability to their larger counterparts. As they burst passed the defensive line they didn’t rush in for direct conflict against the aliens, and instead swung wide around their edges. Their goal was to harass and distract the enemy to protect the rest of the fleet.

Numbering in the tens of thousands it was unwise to disregard even these tiny drones. Before bastions they were the forefront of military conflicts. After all, a million ant bites could
bring down an elephant. A single drone couldn’t do much, but a wave of them could be devastating.

Drone pilots were carefully screened. They were among the highest trained, with their best surpassing god-ranked mecha pilots in skill. They couldn’t capture a battlefield on their own, but a solid pilot could give the assistance needed to win the day.

Three sets of colorful drones darted among the enemy, each with their own style. The sky-blue ships from Tyrannosaurus charged in, spreading out in all directions at the last moment like a blooming flower. Then, like a giant blanket, burned ahead to meet the encroaching alien forces.

Tyrannosaurus’ secondary weapons systems went live, firing beams of light into the enemy. Fleet vessels nearby lent their firepower to the frontal assault as well.

But the aliens were determined to fight and die for their home worlds. They pushed ahead into the deadly barrage with complete disregard to their individual safety. Fighting at a distance was not their specialty, they had to press in close in order to destroy these pesky human ships.
The first line of aliens were shredded beneath the hail of laser fire from Tyrannosaurus and its entourage. But the creatures were not foolish, the creatures at the fore of their charge were ones most suited toward defense. They were pummeled by the salvos but pushed ahead a good while before succumbing to their wounds. As they did, the beasts behind them picked up speed, desperate to close the gap.

Tyrannosaurus’ fighter drones began to show the aliens their strength. All at once the two thousand drones leading the charge fired their antimatter rockets. Northern training was on full display as the attack was executed in almost perfect synchronicity. Only their targets were varied, to spread the destruction of their missiles over a wide area.

Space lit up as the missiles found their marks. The sudden, intense blast flew the oncoming alien horde into chaos as the sturdier beasts fled to avoid the aftermath.

Another thousand drones moved in from the rear and began peppering the enemy with laser fire. Attacks were coming from all sides and the aliens weren’t sure which way to turn. The tactic was simple but effective; hit the enemy hard then use superior speed and maneuverability to escape out of range. Meanwhile the main human fleet was still tearing through swaths of foes, and Tyrannosaurus was turning to position its
main gun while spraying fire from their secondary cannons. The bastions and its surrounding ships punished the creatures with the full might of their weapons, stopping the charge.

Poseidon was even more effective. It was larger than the North’s former flagship, Terminator, and was equipped with a plethora of secondary weapon arrays. The rays of energy it spat were a deep blue, as though it were spouting torrents of sea water at the enemy.

Aside from its main weapons, Poseidon was also equipped with twelve auxiliary heavy cannons. They were strong enough that one blast was enough to rip apart aliens three thousand meters long. The dense bombardment from their secondary weapons systems and railguns also outstripped Tyrannosaurus.

Their drones’ fighter style was also unique. They arranged themselves in circular formation around Poseidon, creating a defensive perimeter. When the aliens got close those stacks of rings ring expanded and released its laser payload. Round after round of burning energy tore through the enemy ranks to create a perfect cover for the Group’s home vessel and forced the monsters back.

Poseidon’s main weapon was yet to be employed. Compared to
Tyrannosaurus, it was holding back the tide of aliens with ease. The preponderance of resources available to the Poseidon Group was on full display as their bastion’s remarkable capabilities were revealed.

But it was Middle Heaven that was under the greatest pressure, for they didn’t face the lesser breeds of monsters. The East’s flagship was the focus of the twelve titanic fiends and the twelve avatars that rode them. Their goal was to destroy Middle Heaven and strike a blow at the heart of the human armada. Middle Heaven was the core of human resistance, and its command center. If they didn’t hold the line, it would spell the armada’s destruction.

Chapter 827: Sacrifice?

Middle Heaven held nothing back. The moment its drones were dispatched they shook the heavens with their offensive response.

Fifteen thousand drones flooded the battlefield like wasps from the hive. All four of their laser cannons were blazing from the outset, forcing lesser creatures back before they ever got close. The spread of their guns was so ubiquitous and intense they could rival four interstellar fleets.

Five such fleets surrounded Middle Heaven now, but for now their cannons were dark. It seemed like they were waiting for something. Likewise Middle Heaven’s honeycomb of cannons were on full display, but were not firing. The saffron yellow energy that twinkled in the depths of its guns could be seen, but no one knew when they would explode into action.

One of Monarch’s avatars was the commander of the enemy forces. It lifted it arm overhead and in response the crocodile- like monsters picked up speed. Once more they roared a challenge at the human ships, but the shockwave they produced was aimed at the drones instead of the bastion.
Your bastion may be able to withstand our shockwave, it must have thought, but can your paltry drones?

It went without saying that shockwave was a restrictive force of the drones. The wide-spread attack limited their actions. But Middle Heaven had an answer.

The drones broke off and scattered in all directions to try and avoid the blast. Meanwhile the barrels at the rear of Middle Heavens fired all together, hurling the bastion forward like an enormous cannon ball. In the same moment the myriad of guns on its surface began to radiate with yellow light.

Lan Qing’s earlier surprise attack, Solar Flare, was fresh in the enemy’s mind. It’d served as a profound lesson for them.

The titans broke off their charge and the avatars that rode them swelled. In an instant they were a thousand meters tall, evil giants in human flesh surrounded by a stifling aura. They didn’t attack right away, waiting for the perfect moment. When the opportunity presented itself they would strike and destroy this bastion that had caused them so much suffering.

The titans themselves were no less commanding than
sovereign-class Capital ships. The avatars that commanded them were equivalent to Nirvana-level Paragons. They were confident in their overwhelming force, assured in the inevitable destruction of their prey. Although bastions were a danger, their technology-based attacks were limited by resources.

As they’d learned, Solar Flare was terrifyingly destructive but only within a certain scope. The avatars had the advantage of speed and knew Middle Heaven’s plans, so the humans could not lure them close enough for the attack to do them harm.

For the moment the battle was at a stalemate, but the aliens had the advantage of numbers.

Middle Heaven launched ahead alone. Saffron light flickered against the purple skin of the beasts as the distance between them closed.

Suddenly the frontal cannons on Middle Heaven lit up. Just as Monarch’s avatar thought a frontal attack was incoming, the whole bastion flared with blinding light. Its rear thrusters opened wide and the ship blazed ahead like an indomitable comet.
The sheer power radiating from the bastion was enough to strike fear in the hearts of the avatars. Almost automatically they tried to avoid where they thought the attack would come from but Middle Heaven didn’t stop. On the contrary it continued to pick up speed, and all the while the bright yellow energy encasing it grew brighter. It looked like preparation for Solar Flare.

More surprising to the fragment of Monarch was the erratic, almost unstable pulses of energy it felt from the bastion. The faster it went the more precarious it felt, like the entire ship could detonate at any moment.

Was it planning…?

After a moment of surprise the avatar understood what Middle Heaven was going to do. Middle Heaven wasn’t moving in to attack them, it was heading right for Europa. It was a blazing comet on a collision course with the Western capital.

Sacrifice itself?

Monarch’s doppelganger was bewildered. The alien forces were confident they could repel the humans, even destroy
them. However, it had never occurred to them that Middle Heaven would throw itself into one of the humans own planets.

Middle Heaven, remember, was a planet that was remolded into a ship. The sheer catastrophic force of two planets colliding was terrifying to ponder. What’s more, the fluctuating waves of power radiating from the ship far surpassed what the aliens imagined it was capable of. It was comparable to the energy of an exploding star!

Even if the alien home worlds completed their evolution, the explosion like that might be enough to destroy them.

Unthinkable! Monarch’s avatar released an ear-piercing shriek, calling the titans back. They swung around and charged toward Middle Heaven, desperate to stop it at all costs. They could not allow the bastion to collide with Europa.

Pressure on the remaining ships eased as the avatars were pulled from the battlefield. Though Middle Heaven was no longer in play, the five fleets it left behind and its drones were able to hold the line together with the other two bastions.

Their long-ranged advantage continued to serve the humans
as the battle progressed, substantially increased by the addition of the drones. The containment strategies and sheer number of the smaller ships made up for their lack of close-range combat ability.

Much to the surprise of commanders on Poseidon and Tyrannosaurus, Middle Heaven’s drones stayed in the fight despite its bastion leaving. Their stores of energy were far superior to the others even employing double the number of laser guns per ship. One drone packed the punch of a battleship.

If it were a few ships it wouldn’t mean much, but fifteen thousand such vessels was unheard of! One salvo cleared out a huge area of foes, and the attacks were perfectly executed. Clearly their training and cooperation were also superior. After evading the enemy shockwave, they quickly became the main force for front line. Under their protection the five interstellar fleets continued to tear through the enemy with their own weapons, while reducing their own losses.

Chapter 828: The Strongest Drones

Good man, is there anything Lan Qing can’t do?

Hua Li wasn’t as surprised by the status of Middle Heaven’s drones as the Northerners were. After all, he knew Lan Qing better, and their relationship went beyond mere cooperation. Kang Hui’s mind raced and decided that the East must have found some special method of energy use. It was the only way they could use four laser cannons over such a long period and not have to recharge. It was a truly game-changing development that he was completely unaware of until this moment. If not for this war his military would still be in the dark.

It was incredible to see this alliance, which the North consistently looked down on, rising to such technological prominence so quickly. Middle Heaven was an example, superior to the North’s fallen Terminator-class bastion. Kang Hui figured his alliance would need three bastions if they wanted to bring it down in a fight. Nor were there any commanders on his side that could compare with Lan Qing.

The Eastern admiral had told them he would use Middle Heaven to lure the main force away and do whatever it could to reduce their numbers. He had not, however, told them how he’d planned to do that. When Kang Hui saw Middle Heaven
blazing toward Europa he was just as surprised as the avatars. But he also knew the only way to truly deceive the enemy was to hide the truth from one’s own side.

Under Lan Qing’s leadership a single bastion was inscrutable, and had limitless utility. Even his own soldiers didn’t fully know what he was capable of or what his goals were. It was his greatest strength.

By now Middle Heaven had stretched far from the main body of the armada, but the blinding light it emitted was clearly visible. Was he really planning to sacrifice himself and his ship in a kamikaze run? Whether or not it would succeed, the courage was stunning.

If his own troops believed he was charging in for a final collision, of course the aliens did as well. Twelve lumbering monstrosities raced after the burning bastion, guided by twelve avatars of the aliens’ home planets.

Meanwhile the human and alien forces continued to pummel one another, neither gaining the upper hand. No one knew what would become of the valiant Middle Heaven either.
Lan Qing stood in the bastion’s control center, his eyes glued to the screens before him. His face was the same expressionless mask it always was. All of the ship’s energy was being called on and the temperatures inside where reaching scalding levels. Through his enhanced perception Lan Qing could sense every wave of erratic energy pulsing from the molonite.

This was precisely the sensation he was looking for. How else would he get the alien generals’ attention?

If the twenty four monsters that followed him were allowed to wreak havoc among the ship, humanity’s chances of victory were slim. It didn’t matter if the aliens break their lines or the humans pressed ahead to Europa, the result would be close combat. The aliens had them beat in that regard.

So, Lan Qing conceived this plan before they set out. A suicide attack!

These creatures were hell-bent on evolution. Destroying the human race wasn’t their main objective. Lan Qing grasped this, and so he pushed the molinite that powered Middle Heaven to its limit. Its precarious nature made them a threat even if Solar Flare wasn’t used.
He ignored the mighty beasts that sought to stop his charge, and pressed ahead. Whether or not they followed, he didn’t care. If they didn’t give chase his suicide run would be unhindered and their mission would be successful.

Lan Qing knew how much energy was contained in the molonite that powered his bastion. He knew what sort of devastation would be caused if it was released all at once on the alien home worlds. At the very least, one of the planets would be completely obliterated. If the three were close enough he could kill all three.

If sacrificing Middle Heaven meant the destruction of his enemy, Lan Qing considered that a worthy price. Not just for the East, but for all mankind.

Of course, as he anticipated, the aliens had come after him and with a vengeance. They put their speed advantage to work and were on a course to intercept.

“Turn!” Lan Qing coldly ordered.

Middle Heaven’s trajectory slowly started to change. It traced a burning arc in attempts to avoid being caught, then swung
around again to keep Europa in its path.

While Lan Qing wasn’t sure of the planets’ precise location, Lan Jue’s recon intelligence had proven that they were here. Somehow Europa was involved in their evolution, so they couldn’t be far. Europa’s location was no secret, so that’s where he was headed.

The twelve crocodile-beasts swung around to continue their pursuit. They gave up trying to cut the ship off and opted to attack its flanks directly. Furiously beating their wings to keep up, orbs of sickly purple-black energy were spat from their mouths. At the same time the avatars that rode them leapt from the creatures and raced ahead with frightening speed. Their thousand-meter tall bodies blazed with the light of their powers, and together their auras threatened to drown out Middle Heaven’s star-like luminescence. They hoped to forcibly bridle the bastion’s speed.

The closer they came to Middle Heaven, the sense of instability grew more intense. It could blow at any moment, and when it did the aliens would have no chance to flee. So, although the avatars had the strength to stop the bastion, they nonetheless held back. Although they were simply fragments of the planets they came from, they still had a consciousness. Anything with a mind of its own feared death.
Terrifying was the only way to expression the combination of the twelve titans and the avatars that commanded them. Middle Heaven’s shields were increased to their highest levels to withstand their attempts to slow it down. As a result its speed invariably slowed. However the wild fluctuations of energy never ceased.

They were now far from the main battlefield.

Merciless light flickered in the eyes of the primary avatar, another from Monarch. Its arms had become two massive tentacles that spread over Middle Heaven. They swelled larger as the suction pads that covered their underside sucked away the shield’s energy. The human bastion had no way to cut itself free, but it could blast them away.

A slithering cold crept up the avatar’s spine, enough of a sensation to force it to react. Its tentacle-arms detached like a lizard’s tail, and it shot far into the distance as a beam of violet light.

A dark golden light erupted from the position it’d just abandoned. Below, a silhouette was visible on the planet’s surface.
CRACK! The golden light became an enormous golden staff. The first beast to feel its wrath was one of the crocodiles, as the weapon smashed down on its enormous head. Its mighty skull caved in and the brains within were destroyed.

Three more images appeared as the monster as cut up into dozens of pieces. It became a cloud of blood and gore hovering in space.

An image appeared just outside of the bastion, a figured clad head to toe in glittering golden armor. The parts of its body which were revealed were covered in coarse golden hair, and its eyes were a smoldering crimson-gold that shone like dual suns. In its hand was the giant staff that had slain the giant beast.

The image lunged toward the next group of enemies, swinging its staff. Its mighty aura alone frightened several avatars away. However the ten-thousand meter long crocodiles could not so easily elude the attack. One by one they were smashed apart by the staff.

Jue Di had joined the fight, releasing the unbridled might of his Winning Buddha dharma. The ultimate Paragon’s appearance relieved Middle Heaven of its tormentors.
On the others side of Middle Heaven a flash of pink flit by. Another beast had only half a moment to react before it froze solid. A surge of rainbow light painted the creature in a myriad of colors before burst into pieces. A vortex of red energy appeared moments later to swallow the remains of the creatures into nothing.

Several of the twenty-four mightiest aliens were slain in the sudden sneak attack. Meanwhile blinking lights heralded the arrival of several more figures around the bastion. Middle Heaven continued along its arc but no longer headed for Europa. Now it was burning back toward the main battle.

The aliens were unprepared for the sudden change in circumstance. Losing two titans dropped their total power by no small amount, but they would not be deterred. They came around for another charge at Middle Heaven.

Having transferred back onto Middle Heaven several minutes ago, they had been waiting for the right moment to strike back. They wanted to punish the creatures with their first appearance.

This had been Lan Qing’s plan all along, though he’d been taken aback by the full strength the monsters brought to bear.
Still Jue Di and Luo Xianni had blocked three of their strongest
– Infinite-level powerhouses like themselves. The other Paragons spread out to deal with the remainder.

Humanity undoubtedly was inferior to the aliens in terms of sheer numbers. This was a disadvantage for them when considering aggregate power. However they had Middle Heaven to rely on, and its honeycomb of cannons were effective support in thinning the alien horde.

Chapter 829: Head-On Conflict

Lan Jue and Qianlin’s Harmonious Sword technique fought off two more avatars and one titan. Captus and Occisus was empowered by Lan Jue’s Boundless Starlight Domain. Together, not only were the two not in danger, they even held the upper hand.

Boundless Starlight, enhanced by the Queen of Heaven Domain, captured the three beasts within it. Lan Jue’s Palm of Five Lightnings was also a great boon. Since the monsters had to work harder to defend themselves against the Domain, their Harmonious Swords forced them to stick together and combine their might to ward off destruction.

It was still unsure which side would win, but for the moment the humans were not in danger of losing.

The Terminator fought off two of the monsters by himself. Already intrepid and formidable, his strength swelled beneath the light of the Queen of Heaven. He was no less frightening than the creatures that assailed him, and keeping them at bay was not an issue.

Things were going less happily for the other Paragons. The
beasts were all of Nirvana-level at least. Other than the Pharmacist whose Slaughter Domain helped her keep up despite being a Reflection of Heaven and Earth, the others needed to double up against their foes.

Those avatars not locked in battle with the Paragons focused their attacks on Middle Heaven.

“Aagghh!” Monarch’s avatar, commanding the power of the Infinite, roared in feral rage. The other avatars cried back in response. They broke off their attacks on Middle Heaven and focused entirely on the Paragons.

Jue Di and Luo Xianni stood shoulder to shoulder, fighting off three more Infinite-level aliens. Lan Jue and Qianlin were still at war against two avatars and a titan. The Pharmacist had one avatar to herself. The Driver was focused on a titan, relying on the power of his primordial lightning to keep it pinned down. The Terminator was using all the strength available to him to battle two avatars.

Yet this was only ten of the creatures. The remaining twelve fell upon the rest of the human defense; the Wine Master, Clockmaker, Pauper, Keeper, Bookworm, the two Gods of Wine, the Pontiff, and Gourmet.
Just in terms of numbers they were at a disadvantage. What’s more, they couldn’t match up man to man in terms of Discipline strength.

The Clockmaker had already summoned her dharmic image, the enormous grandfather clock manipulating the flows of time to their benefit. The remaining eight Paragons fought for their lives head to head against a superior enemy.

“Go help them.” Jue Di said to Luo Xianni at his side.

The two of them were faring well against three Infinite-level monsters. Jue Di’s golden staff was almost more than his foes could protect against. They were forced to defend themselves with everything they had and had no way to fight back. With the addition of Luo Xianni’s mystical camera they had already managed to cause them some harm.

But while they were gaining ground, their allies were in dire straits. Jue Di had to make a decision. Luo Xianni stared at him for a moment but offered no resistance. In a flash of pink she was gone, off to help their friends.

“Take advice from Luo Xianni. A camera is all you need!”
Click!

With the sound of the shutter all area above the twelve aliens was painted pink, twelve mirror images of Luo Xianni appeared from nowhere. The aliens froze in place.

The rest of the Paragons saw their moment. The Keeper and Bookworm’s Positron Cannon, the Wine Master’s Dimensional Compression, Gourmet’s soul fire, Pauper’s Taming Dragon Palm, and the others’ special attacks were unleashed all at the same moment.

At last some respite.

But containing so many Nirvana-level creatures was not easy for the Photographer. They remained frozen only for a moment, but at last the situation was coming under control.

As Luo Xianni left, the pressure on Jue Di rose sharply.

The three avatars he faced were the closest in strength to the planets themselves. Their experience in war was varied and extensive. Resilient tentacles lashed around the Paragons and he
drew upon his Deva-gati Domain to hold them back. Suddenly this sector of space was filled with copies of the man, but when faced against the planets’ doppelganger they had little deterring effect. All they could do was distract and harass. Together the three monsters began to chip away at his Domain. While he quickly patched the holes they created, he was slowly losing ground.

All the while Jue Di faced his foes with a calm face. He swung his staff in an endless flurry of attacks, pummeling them with his Thousand-ton Cudgel technique.

The avatars worked together to defend themselves. Queen’s avatar split into several copies, revealing her master of interdimensional powers. Her images flit in and out of existence, attacking Jue Di’s blind spots. Consort’s fragment hovered by Monarch’s avatar and manipulated time around them.

Achieving such heights of power, the home worlds were knowledgeable in all the ways of the universe. Creation, destruction, space-time – all of them were fundamental powers of reality. In order to evolve and create their own realm, these were the powers they’d focused on cultivating.
Monarch’s avatar was encased in a shell of dark purple light. It glared at Jue Di with a ghastly face. Its arms had split into countless tentacles that seemed to swipe at the human from everywhere at once. Its own Domain fluctuated between creation and destruction, in constant conflict with Jue Di’s imposing aura.

Jue Di was strong, but even he had his limits within the Infinite. Facing three enemies of similar strength, even with all his knowledge and fighting experience, turning the tide to his favor would be extremely difficult.

The war continued on three fronts. Suddenly, a light erupted around them.

While the aliens were busy with the Paragons, Middle Heaven had slipped away and rejoined the main battle.

So far the armada had not gained ground, but were holding their own. The most dramatic fights were among the Paragons, but winning victory on the main field was key to success. If they could destroy the enemy’s primary force it would take the pressure off the human ships and give them more leeway.
Lan Qing did not join the Paragon battle, but not for lack of desire. He had a more important task to manage.

When Middle Heaven returned the alien leadership did not follow. Seeing their mighty bastion return unscathed, the human soldiers felt their hearts surge with hope.

The moment it returned to battle, Middle Heaven’s array of cannons were unleashed. With its molinite contained, the energy was refocused toward the bastion’s devastating attacks. Meanwhile Middle Heaven’s drones were finally able to return and charge their weapons.

After so long nearly all the drones from every bastion were low on energy. They had to return and recharge before returning to the front. For the moment, the armada was in a weaker position as its backup dwindled. They had to hold while their drones recharged. This was why Middle Heave hurried to return to their side.

The alien forces had sacrificed much, but were nearly through the human defensive line. The armada had begun to suffer significant losses. However as Middle Heaven came in guns blazing, the aliens were shoved back. The fleet commanders had some space to breathe.
As one side gained ground the other responded, back and forth as the fight continued. The stalemate kept both sides from dealing a definitive blow. Now it was a matter of who could hold out longer.

At present it appeared as though it was the aliens who were suffering greatest. Though the humans had to maintain a continuous rate of fire, they were not losing many ships and could hold out against a thinning alien horde.

However they were only gaining against weaker breeds of creatures. The stronger ones among them were withstanding the attacks, so the losses they faced were only their lower caste. The core of the alien army remained intact.

Hummmm. A strange buzzing sound arose as suddenly six glittering blue halos appeared. They spread out among the aliens, washing over them and freezing them in place.

Poseidon’s main weapons fired, six Soft Water bombs detonating in the midst of their enemies. All of a sudden their side of the field was less crowded. Though the attack was hardly flashy, the efficacy of Poseidon’s primary weapons were uncontested. In this fight they were even more effective than Tyrannosaurus.
The Northern bastion did not employ its main cannon, the cost would be too great. The enemy was too spread out and using it would be like trying to hit a mosquito with laser rifle. Under these conditions it was more useful to siphon that power into their shields, keeping them in the fight as long as possible.

Though they were holding their own, the situation was looking less favorable for the humans. This was especially true for the Paragons, who were stretched thin. If one fell, it could cascade into a torrent that would turn the battle against them.

Lan Qing wasn’t the only one who saw it. Kang Hui and Hua Li recognized the danger as well.

“Lan Qing, I’m going in to join them. We can’t afford to lose that fight.” Hua Li said impatiently to Lan Qing’s image on his screen.

Chapter 830: All-Out

Only a Paragon could participate in a Paragon battle. Only Hua Li, Lan Qing, and Chu Cheng were not yet involved as they were commanding forces.

Lan Qing answered Hua Li’s statement with a thoughtful frown. He heard another voice from beside the Poseidon Group patriarch. “No, you can’t go. You are the symbol of our people. If something happens to you our soldiers may be routed.”

Certainly the voice belonged to Mo Xiao. Lan Qing happened to agree with her too. Just as he was needed on Middle Earth, Hua Li was this generation’s guide and commander. If something happened to him while he was off ship, Poseidon Group would suffer.

“Mo Xiao is right. You can’t go.” Lan Qing decided.

Hua Li hurried to respond. “You think Poseidon Group is so fragile that they can’t survive without me? I have to go, A-Jue and the others can’t hold out for long and I’m doing nothing for our cause on this ship. Mo Xiao, you keep my absence a secret – don’t let anyone know where I’ve gone.” Hua Li hung up before anyone else could voice objections.
Poseidon-class Bastion Ship.

“No! You can’t go!” Mo Xiao clung to his arm. She looked at him but not in anger, instead imploring him with her eyes.

But he regarded her with firm determination. “I have to go. How can I abandon my brother? Besides, Paragons are the backbone of our strategy, we’re the only soldiers who can win this war. My addition might be the last straw needed to break the aliens’ back.”

Mo Xiao opened her mouth to protest further, but before she could Hua Li turned to water in her grip. He collapsed to the floor in a cascade of gentle blue light and vanished.

Tears fell unbidden from Mo Xiao’s eyes. She stared at the spot he’d stood with a deep pain writ plain on her face.

“Why?” She asked the air. “Why do you treat me this way?
I’m your wife!”

Poseidon was inspired to join the fight. Elsewhere, someone else with fire in their heart joined the battle.
Two beams of light – one blue, one red – appeared in space among the ships. Grey flames licked the wake  around  the stream of red light as it cut a bloody swath toward the other Paragons. Meanwhile, Hua Li faced little resistance. The enemy was still trying to recover from the Soft Water bombs.

“I knew you wouldn’t be able to help yourself.” When he saw his friend, Hua Li grinned.

Chu Cheng sniffed pridefully. “What do you mean ‘help myself’? I am the very definition of undaunted, this is courage you’re looking at. Aren’t I heroic?”

Hua Li looked down his nose at his friend. “Heroism or horse- shit? Prove it on the battlefield! Let’s go!” The two of them raced toward Lan Jue and the others, leaving brilliant trails of light behind them.

They’d only stepped foot in the Realm of Protogenia, but any help would draw pressure from their allies.

As they shot off to join the Paragons, things were changing on the main field as well. Not more than five minutes after Hua Li’s charge, thousands of drones poured from Middle Heaven’s
hangars.

During the last clash a tenth of the bastion’s drones had fallen to alien attacks. Now their numbers had shrunk to thirteen thousand, but still enough to be a decisive presence on the battlefield. The total number still hovered around fifteen thousand if you included the thousand or so other fighters that had joined unexpectedly.

Star Division had also transferred over with the Paragons!

The allied forces had thrown everything they could toward victory – every ship, soldier and weapon. Star Division had had no more than an hour to rest after their fight on Angel before being thrust into the main conflict. But they’re morale was high, and their lust for glory strong. Finally, they had an opportunity to really show the universe what they could do. If they survived, they would come back as heroes of humanity.

Skyfire Avenue’s great fighting force already proved their worth by repelling the alien sneak attack on Angel. This time, though, they were fighting on their own. There were no Paragons to back them up but they were not needed. With Middle Heaven as backup, Star Division quickly stabilized the field and prevented the aliens from breaking past the armada’s
lines.

Lan Qing’s mission for them was simple; fill in the gaps.

Allies forces were doing a fair job at being everywhere at once, but they weren’t perfect. Inevitably some aliens would break through, and once they did they caused considerable damage. Star Division’s job was to spread out in units and kill the beasts that found their way in.

This sort of fight suited them just fine. Individually they were strong, but that didn’t help them in a space-battle where large- scale cooperation was needed. However mopping up whatever was left they took to like fish to water.

Their presence shored up the allied defenses and protected their back line. The situation on the field was less volatile with their presence.

Kang Hui was shocked when he learned that Middle Heaven’s drones were back in the fight after only five minutes.

“How is this possible?” His own drones needed at least twenty
minutes before they were fully charged. He wasn’t sure about Poseidon Group, but he figured it had to be similar. But why would it be different for Middle Heaven? It was beyond anything he’d witnessed before.

It was an Eastern secret, which Lan Qing was of course not permitted to share. At any rate the North couldn’t replicate Middle Heaven’s fighters even if it knew how. Each one of the drones used a small amount of molinite as their reactor core. They used the same power that gave the bastion life to power their own systems and weapons.

Their core design was based on the energy from molinite, and optimized for its use. However they could not store the energy for long. Due to its unstable nature the molinite would decay quickly. In other words, the drones could only function if they remained near enough to Middle Heaven for them to recharge regularly. If they were gone too long or too far, their fighting capability fell off sharply – nothing more than flying scrap metal.

In the end, even the East couldn’t replicate Middle Heaven’s drones.

However, so long as they were around Middle Heaven, they
were the bastion’s trump card. Another interesting aspect of their construction had to do with their missiles. While molinite afforded the drones’ tremendous staying power in a fight, their erratic energy made bombs unstable. Bombs made out of the stuff were simply too likely to explode when you least wanted them to.

But despite the dangers molinite far outstripped any other energy medium for drone reactor cores. They only took three minutes to recharge, with a minute each to dock and redeploy. One-fourth the time of anyone else.

It took Kang Hui several moments before he regained focus. He couldn’t help but admire Middle Heaven’s strength. The speed and dominance of its drones was so superior, three bastions would likely struggle in a fight against it. That was before one considered Lan Qing’s keen military mind.

Once its drones were back in the field, Middle Heaven also began to react.

The greatest boon to the human forces now was the fact that the strongest of the aliens were split in two. One portion of them had been busy near Angel and hadn’t returned. The remainder were currently warring with the Paragons. Neither
could lend their influence to the main battle.

Although the number of aliens throwing themselves at the armada was sizeable they were nonetheless weaker by comparison. This allowed the ships to punish the creatures without much fear of reprisal.

Lan Qing called out an order through his dedicated communications channel. “Engage Warplanet status!”

Sirens wailed all throughout the bastion and personnel were racing to their stations. If some omnipotent being were watching they could see everyone strapping themselves down with sturdy harnesses.

Middle Heaven began to shake. Somehow the molinite that powered the ship was galvanized and began to pulse with waves of energy. The oscillations were so intense they could be seen from kilometers away.

Flickering orange light shuddered through Middle Heaven and erupted from its rocky surface in bands of color. The honeycomb cannons that dotted its surface were retracted as the light completely enveloped it. In some ways it looked like it
had when preparing for the Solar Flare.

“Mo Xiao, use Poseidon to engage the enemy with your full arsenal. If you want Hua Li to return without incident we need to throw everything we have behind a decisive victory right now.” Lan Qing’s stern, cold voice crackled through Mo Xiao’s screen.

She looked back at him with an equally frigid expression. She never liked the Lan brother, but she was an intelligent woman. She had to be in order to lead the Poseidon family business. Lan Qing was right, if she wanted Ha Li back it started right here.

“Activating Poseidon’s Trident Mode.”

It was Poseidon’s turn to shiver as the whole bastion began to change. The spherical ship stretched as its innards peaked free, completely modifying its shape. A shape-shifting bastion! It was incredible to behold.

Kang Hui stared from Tyrannosaurus’ bridge in wonderment. The ship he commanded was a traditional one, and that meant balance among all the normal bastion systems. But there was nothing normal about either of the bastions he was allied with.
He had no idea what Middle Heaven was up to, and Poseidon was in the middle of a stupendous transformation.

Little by little Poseidon Group’s bastion split and reformed, until it rearranged itself in to a humanoid shape. It even bore a weapon, an absolutely humongous golden trident.

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