Chapter 801: The Mission Continues
The alien home worlds’ main objective was not the destruction of humanity, but completing their evolution and establishing an immortal realm of their own. It didn’t serve them to wipe out the human species, and it was a task that would be much easier once they became god-like.
All the possible scenarios raced through Lan Qing’s mind. His train of thought was precise and clear.
Lan Jue and Qianlin had finally become Paragons, and Luo Xianni was now part of the Infinite. Both of these happy circumstances went better than expected. After breaking through Lan Jue was no weaker than the An Lun admiral himself. With the addition of his Harmonious Swords, he and Qianlin were incredibly effective on the battlefield, inferior only to Jue Di, Luo Xianni and the Terminator. The Northern Paragon would be hard-pressed to contend against their combined strength if ever he had to.
With their advancement the total strength of the human attack force soared. Their initial victory against the aliens had been achieved with minimal losses. But it remained to be seen if they could keep this momentum through the final battle.
“Report!” An anxious voice called out.
“Speak!” Lan Qing’s eyes popped open and turned toward the messenger. Current standing orders were to bring any important information to him immediately.
“We’ve just received correspondence from Scout Team 16. They report two of the planets are no longer purple.” As he spoke the messenger hurried forward and handed Lan Qing the data in his possession.
Lan Qing looked it over. A small smile spread across his face – his father was indeed Jue Di! The strongest human alive wasn’t just something they called him. If the purple color was draining from them, it meant the progenitors were dead and the planets were freed. Only Jue could accomplish such a magnificent feat in so short a period.
“Have we received any information from the scout teams heading for Europa?”
“Not yet,” the messenger replied. “They should be arriving at their prescribed location within an hour. So far communications seems normal, but they haven’t encountered
anything out of the ordinary.”
“Alright, let me know the instant we get any more intelligence.” Information about Europa and the alien planets was paramount. They could only proceed once they knew more about the interior of the solar system and the presence of their primary targets.
As of the latest reports the routed alien forces had regrouped at two nearby planets. However, they’ve made no overtures to advance, as though they were intending to protect those two worlds in particular. One of those planets was the Terminator’s responsibility, and the other belonged to Lan Jue’s team.
No news was forthcoming from the Terminator’s strike force. Although, they did know they managed to successfully infiltrate the planet while Lan Qing was busy with the initial assault. Specific circumstances were not forthcoming.
Lan Jue and his people hadn’t moved on to their second objective yet. They were treating the mutated survivors of Angel.
The problem Lan Qing faced now was whether to concentrate
or split his forces. Was it better to attack both clusters of enemies at once, or focus on one?
The aliens were not adept at long-range fighting, but they made up for it with incredible speed. Most human ships couldn’t outrun them. It was how their forces had managed to escape without being obliterated.
If he split his forces and the enemy set up an ambush it would put them in a dire situation. If he brought his forces to bear against just one group, the other one would be free to harass and possibly retake Angel.
And so, while their inaugural victory had been inspiring, the enemy had not been routed. The fight was more complicated than ever, and having experienced what a head-on engagement cost them it was difficult to assess how the aliens would adjust their tactics. They would certainly lean on their speed superiority, and to address that would force the human forces to give up advantage in other areas. This was a problem Lan Qing had to consider carefully.
“We bide our time, wait for an opportunity.” Lan Qing muttered to himself.
Kang Hui had already contacted him once, asking if they should continue the assault. However, Lan Qing vetoed the idea. He chose to allow their forces to rest and reorganize in preparation for the next phase of their plan. He knew now wasn’t the time to rush in. They had to establish themselves on Angel first, then they could make their decision.
The enemy forces were a problem. He had to endure.
Although the alien planets were almost certainly in the process of evolving, moderation was integral. What he wanted was to create a situation where the aliens would be forced to initiate the attack, and fight on humanity’s terms. In this way they could hurt the enemy with the least effort and cost possible. Yet if they didn’t overcome the alien forces definitively, assaulting their home worlds would be impossible. Lan Qing saw the problem with acute clarity.
Beep-beep! His communicator buzzed.
“What is it?” He asked.
Lan Jue’s voice answered on the other end. “We’ve worked it out. There are no more infected humans on Angel. Who’d have
thought Qianlin’s abilities would extend to this. Pretty lucky, eh?”
Lan Qing smiled. “You and your team rest for a little while, then continue your mission. The alien forces have split into two, and are hiding at the planets you and the Terminator are meant to liberate. I can give you a way in, but you’ll need to kill the progenitor quickly and get back as soon as you can.”
“Relax, we have faith.” Lan Jue’s voice was full of determination. Luo Xianni had now arisen to the same level as Jue Di – a powerful denizen of the Infinite. With the addition of Lan Jue and Qianlin after their sharp rise in strength, the situation was well within their ability to handle. What else need be said?
Zeus-1 had returned to the planet a while ago. It was waiting for Lan Jue’s team to continue the mission.
Lan Qing went on. “It’s wonderful that Qianlin’s protogenia can heal the afflicted, but I will remind you that they are not in a position to be saved yet. If you make that your priority you’re just putting them in danger. Your objective is the destruction of the progenitor and returning vitality to the planet.”
“Alright, I understand.” Lan Jue was clear on his role and his brother’s instructions. Their plan had been to clear and retake Angel, not any of the other planets. They didn’t have the soldiers for it. If they divided their forces it was just inviting disaster, he knew that.
A pale light flickered around him as Lan Jue grinned. He’d waited a long time for this day. He was anxious to show off his capabilities.
After disconnecting with his brother, Lan Jue, Qianlin and Luo Xianni returned to the arena. They gathered the other three Paragons, then contacted Mika and boarded Zeus-1. It was time for them to leave for their second objective.
Lan Jue and Qianlin didn’t need to rest. Healing the afflicted had solidified Qianlin’s powers, and Lan Jue had also benefited from using her as a conduit. What’s more, Lan Jue was surprised to discover that Qianlin’s actions had empowered her with no small measure of faith-based force.
Without question, the Pontiff enjoyed the highest levels of faith among the human worlds. The Pontiff’s Citadel had scores of faithful and years of effort had cultivated a base of followers to support their organization.
Yet now the Western Alliance was all but wiped out. It was to be expected that their faith would be shaken. With Qianlin appearing as she did to deliver them from torment, convictions had quickly changed.
The benefits of the power of faith were largely a mystery to Lan Jue, but he was able to sense that Qianlin’s Domain was strengthening faster than his. Not only that, but her progress was stable and consistent. This was the benefit of the Queen of Heaven. She had no battlefield utility to speak of, her powers were designed for the salvation of mankind. Giving up one aspect enhanced another. Her strength and prestige were a reward for Zhou Qianlin’s pure nature.
Luo Xianni knelt quietly in a corner, recovering the energy she’d spent while also solidifying her recent advancement. It went without saying that Qianlin’s presence was immensely beneficial. Her Domain eased many of Luo Xianni’s concerns in breaking through, and served to help her stabilize her new heights of power.
As the three of them worked in tandem to heal the mutant humans, pushing Qianlin’s Domain to its highest point, Luo Xianni had be the most positively affected. Although it had cost her in energy consumption, the stabilization of her protogenia was critical. The more stable her powers were the easier it was
to control them, so that she might deceive universal protogenia.
As she looked at Qianlin and Lan Jue, Xiuxiu’s eyes were gloomy. She had always been acutely aware of the difference between her and Qianlin. Now that her mind had recovered, she knew she had no chance with her boss. The other Amazons handled it better, her disappointment was deepest. But what could she do? Emotion wasn’t something you could simply will away.
Zeus-1 roared ahead toward the second planet they were to free. Lan Jue’s mind was on the information about their next destination.
The planet was somewhat smaller than Angel. It was pockmarked with splotches of black due to steady volcanic activity. Of all the eight planets, conditions on this one were likely the worst. It was a blessing in disguise that the human population was the smallest. Still it was a planet rich in natural resources which produced a great deal of rare metals, and thus was considered more important than Angel to the West.
Its proximity to Angel also influenced its naming scheme. The West called it Demon, as much for the poetry of it as for its special characteristics. Volcanic eruptions acted in much the
same way mythical demons did.
Volcanoes brought destruction, but also new life. Volcanic ash was rich in mineral substances that nourished the earth, so the vegetation that did grow on Demon was rich in vital energy. More than most other planets.
Chapter 802: Sheol
It was no accident that this resource-rich place was one of the aliens’ targets.
Three hours after departing from Angel, Sheol appeared on the horizon. The surface was a darker hue of purple than Angel had been, but that was likely because the planet’s natural color was darker.
Even from this distance Lan Jue could see the host of alien creatures in the space around it. These were the remains of the main force that Lan Qing had defeated. They were here to protect the planet, but also to wait for an opportunity to pay the humans back for the pain they’d visited upon them.
Zeus-1 took a wide tack, approaching from the side but keeping a safe distance. The fiends were too thick for them to infiltrate at the moment. The human armada had departed for this sector of space at the same time Lan Jue had left. Now they just had to wait.
After holding their position for some time, the three bastions were again on the move. Meanwhile its twelve support fleets remained behind in perfect formation. Middle Heaven,
Tyrannosaurus, and Poseidon advanced on Sheol in the triangular arrangement that’d worked for them so far.
They moved slowly, but that only made them seem all the more imposing after their recent victory.
Middle Heaven again took the lead, the largest and least attractive of the three. Not that appearance was a big concern in a warship, but An Lun was anything but pretty to begin with. It looked like splotchy stone ball spinning through space.
However the aliens would not soon forget that this rocky orb could turn into a blazing sun at a moment’s notice. The memory of their fiery defeat would forever be seared into their memory. Middle Heaven’s combat tactics were also varied and unexpected, and the aliens still weren’t sure what the bastion was capable of.
Poseidon and Tyrannosaurus followed in the rocky war- planet’s wake. Tyrannosaurus, its metallic luster glinting in the dark, was the most traditional of the three. Poseidon was the most beautiful, with its sky-blue exterior.
As they approached an invisible, inexplicable pressure filled
the space around them.
Not long after the bastions appeared within view, the aliens tasked with protecting Sheol began to move. They gathered into formation and fled to the far side of the planet, staying true to their previous tactics. Clearly they feared what these human ships could do.
For good reason. They had watched their brethren die horribly from the bastions, and it filled them with fear.
Lan Jue sat in Zeus-1 with a thoughtful expression on his face. “It looks like the aliens are trying to delay. This is good.”
Biding time meant the alien home words were indeed evolving. These weaker beasts were trying to buy them enough time to complete the process. For the present they wouldn’t have to worry about the planets showing up out of nowhere. Once they completed their transformation, however, things would be different.
Of course Lan Jue had strong feelings toward that eventuality, but right now delaying indicated the best of all scenarios for humanity.
“Prepare to set out!” Lan Jue gave Mika the command.
Zeus-1 started to move again, on a trajectory toward Sheol.
Lan Jue knew that the aliens had to have stealth capabilities of some fashion. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to react as quickly as they did to the presence of bastions. Lan Jue also understood the psychology of these monsters. They preferred a straight fight, hence their predisposition for head- on assaults. They had the necessary strength to overwhelm and destroy the human armada, too. Only, they knew little about Middle Heaven and didn’t understand its fighting abilities. That lack of intelligence had already cost them dearly.
Since their loss the aliens had chosen to forego direct confrontation. Now evasion was their main tactic. This confirmed that their main aim was to delay the human forces, and use the seven outer planets to act as stumbling blocks. If they fled from planet to planet the humans would be forced to take them in a circuitous route that would take days. The aliens knew they had the advantage of speed.
Lan Jue was confident that if the bastions moved in for a full attack the aliens would withdraw. They would stretch the human ships thin and use that to their benefit. That was
precisely the situation Lan Jue did not want to see. His brother saw it, too.
As they moved in closer to the planet, its surface was made clearer to them. It was composed of many peaks and valleys, with cities concentrated on tracts of flat land where they could be found. From orbit they could also see the bases and infrastructure left behind by the West. They were all in various states of destruction.
Only a few aliens dotted the path ahead. Through Lin Guoguo’s psychic obfuscation, they slipped by and entered the planet’s atmosphere. The ground came rushing up to meet them.
Meanwhile the bastions continued to approach, pressuring the alien forces. This had given Lan Jue and his party the opportunity to sneak in, but left them open to siege.
When Zeus-1 was a couple thousand meters above the ground it stopped. Six figures dropped out, disappearing in flash of pink before materializing on Sheol’s pock-marked surface.
They were immediately met with the faint odor of Sulphur.
This wasn’t a trait of the aliens’ presence. The purple corruption they expected to see did not cover everything, either. Those areas were active volcanoes sprang up had burned the creeping fungus away. In fact, there was no life to be found near the smoldering scars.
Lan Jue and the other five stood quietly and waited. They would wait until Zeus-1 was safely away before continuing on. If their means of escape was discovered they would have to rush to its aid.
However Zeus’ Amazons did not disappoint. Zeus-1 quickly disappeared into the sky. They couldn’t see it with the Blinding Stone, of course, but they could be assured everything was fine from the absence of combat sounds.
Luo Xianni knelt on the ground while flickers of pink danced in her eyes. Her fighting style was different now that she’d entered the Infinite. Quick and decisive victory was her modus operandi.
The Pharmacist looked toward Lan Jue. “Do you need me to lead?” She asked.
Lan Jue smiled. “Let us try. You can be backup. Driver, Pauper, guard our flanks.”
Everyone nodded. No one doubted Qianlin’s power after seeing what she did on Angel. These two young folks achieved levels of power beyond their reach with their simultaneous breakthroughs. They could only accept that the younger generation would be their superiors.
It was the same for the Pharmacist. She broke through to a Reflection of Heaven and Earth, and had a Banishing Blade at her command.
Lan Je and Qianlin stood side by side, hand in hand, immersing themselves in each other’s thoughts and sensations. Smile smiles were on both of their faces.
Envy flitted across the Pharmacist’s expression as she looked at the two young lovers. Her heart filled with sadness. If her husband were here perhaps they would act similarly.
Ultus had to be recovered! The Pharmacist pursed her lips in determination.
“Found it.” Luo Xianni’s eyes suddenly popped open, sparkling. All of a sudden six streams of light appeared beneath everyone’s feet.
In a flash everyone disappeared. For them in was like reality clicked, like the shutter of a camera, and they were somewhere else. The scene was one of expansive pink, covered entirely in writhing alien bodies. The sky above, the ground below – everywhere replete with enemies. Obviously they were on the planet’s far side.
Just as on Angel they spied the enormous artery stretching out into space, connecting heaven and earth. At its base the progenitor writhed its gargantuan bulk as it gorged on the world’s vital energy.
The alien numbers were beyond imagining. Lan Jue could also see a familiar figure hanging in the air. It was the Violet Prince.
He floated in the center of the alien horde while the lesser beasts roiled in his orbit. In the skies overhead a couple creatures several thousand meters long could faintly be seen. A mighty array of foes was putting it lightly.
Luo Xianni spoke to them. “We’re in a parallel dimension of my creation. They can’t see us, but we can see them. The progenitor is below, surrounded by who knows how many alien guardians. That is the Violet Prince, whose power you are familiar with. Now that I’ve advanced I’m sure I can keep him tied up, but I’m not sure I can defeat him. When the time comes I’ll initiate the attack and focus on him and the aliens closest to him. The rest of you take this opportunity to go after the progenitor. Once it’s slain, we’ll escape.”
If Lan Jue and Qianlin hadn’t broken through, or if Luo Xianni hadn’t chosen to rise to the Infinite, than this plan would not be possible. There were too many powerful aliens for them to contend with all at once. It would have been as impossible as pulling embers from a fire without burning one’s hands.
The progenitor were getting stronger with each time they found a new one. This one was probably Nirvana-level or higher, more than enough to keep them tied down and allow the other beasts to swallow them up.
However, now that they had a Paragon of the Infinite on their side the chances of retreat were high. Even the Violet Prince was no cause for alarm. This plan could work.
“Mother, I suggest we wait. This isn’t the best time to move in.” If another one of the alien royalty of a doppelganger appeared, they could easily get overwhelmed.
“So what do you suggest?” She asked.
Chapter 803: Harmonious Dispatch!
Lan Jue explained. “My brother will continue to press them, you’ve seen how they react to the bastions. As they get closer the aliens will have to respond in some fashion, maybe even leave the planet. If their aim is buy time then they won’t want a straight confrontation – I think we’ll have a better opportunity.”
After thinking for a moment, Luo Xianni nodded. “Alright, we’ll wait and see what happens.”
As the minutes passed the aliens swirled in a chaotic tide. Only the Violet Prince was still, a boulder in a stream of writhing purple bodies. His eyes were closed as though he were deeply thinking on something.
The waves of energy that radiated from him were no different from the last time they encountered him. However, Lan Jue sensed something more in the beast, like he was more… human. With all the victims of their recent attacks it was likely he used their genetic material to improve himself as well.
Lan Jue watched the time. His brother never told him how he intended to harass the creatures, but he did tell him how long
the window would be before they turned back. In less than an hour the bastions were due to return to the fleet.
As anticipated, as the bastions drew nearer to Sheol’s surface the aliens grew more agitated. However, there was little change in their formation. As time crawled by, they swirled through the skies and crawled along the ground as the progenitor writhed. Its massive tentacles swiped erratically, and caustic mist belched upward in an unending stream.
None of the aliens dared draw near the progenitor. It seemed as though they feared it on some level. By contrast there were any number of monstrous creatures surrounding the Violet Prince.
Waiting was sometimes a form of torment. Such was the case now as the humans looked on, yet they had no choice. The time was not yet right.
Finally, as the time for withdrawal was nearly upon them, Lan Jue saw a slight change in the Prince’s face. He began to wave his arms. In response the aliens around him soared into the skies above.
Are they leaving? Lan Jue’s heart began to beat faster.
Then, all of a sudden, they sensed something looking at them.
“No good!” Lan Jue growled as blue light sprang up around him. Luo Xianni also reacted immediately, and after a brief flash of pink their surroundings changed.
Now they were in the sky, but they could sense the violet power brazenly penetrating Luo Xianni’s parallel reality. All around them an oppressive tension descended.
Now wasn’t the time to ponder how they were discovered. The first to act was their strongest, Luo Xianni, who transferred her other five teammates several hundred meters away.
Half a breath later the Violet Prince’s fist was bearing down on the Photographer. His whole arm went through her face. To his surprise, her only reaction was to ripple. All at once the world around him changed and he was caught in a vortex of power. He fought to extricate himself, and when he eventually did he was out in space. Utter darkness closed in one him, but only for a moment before a pink light started to creep in from all directions.
“Quick!” Lan Jue and the others heard Luo Xianni’s voice in their ears. They had already started moving once they saw their team leader capture the Violet Prince in the vortex.
Ten tentacles thick as buildings were already coming their way. Each one of them was covered in enormous suction discs, and their vacuum force was felt even before they arrived. Stranger still, this suction force didn’t affect their bodies, so much as it started to drain their life force.
The progenitor below was upright. Its enormous body was riddled with grotesque lumps. As its tentacles wildly whipped through the air, everything around them was consumed in a fog of purple.
In this poisoned environment the humans could feel their vital energy begin to warp.
Paragons had a level of control over their bodies that approached legendary levels, and yet despite this they could feel the creature draining their essence from them. One could imagine how immediate and catastrophic the result would be for a normal human. They would be a desiccated husk before they knew what had happened.
The Pharmacist grunted, and a beam of white light erupted from her and into the sky. It shattered into tens of thousands of glittering shards, sharp as razors, roiling through the area like a tempest. The Harbinger Faerie released her slaughter Domain, and with it a tide of murderous energy surged through the area.
The Driver reacted next, calling his Domain to bear. He pressed his power to its limit, nearly a Reflection of Heaven and Earth. Since experiencing primordial lightning for himself his comprehension of his own powers had deepened. The opportunity to sense its true nature had empowered him significantly.
A dense net of purple lightning was constructed around him, and diffused outward until him and all of his companions were contained within. The nearest tentacles were blasted back, and their suction discs fell away. They sloughed off, as though some inexplicable corrosion had infected them.
The Pauper’s body rocked, and then he appeared a short distance away. His hands were pressed together in front of him, and at his back the image of his Taming Dragon Arhat appeared. When the dirty man thrust his arms toward the heavens a golden dragon burst from him.
The Pauper vanished, but the golden dragon he’d summoned roared and rose toward the skies. It continued to grow until mere moments later it was a majestic beast thousands of meters long. With a roar it shined its golden light all around them, an aura thick with power that clashed with the aliens as they descended to the progenitor’s aid.
Lan Jue and Qianlin exchanged a glance. Their hearts as one, a flash of light heralded the appearance of their swords.
The moment Lan Jue took Captus into his hand, pockets of reality around him collapsed. Qianlin took up her own blade and in doing so, countless wisps of blue light sprang to life. With the appearance of the Banishing Blades, in addition to Occisus’ aura, the progenitor’s tentacles were suddenly uninterested in coming their way.
The Pharmacist thrust forward with her weapon and the dharmic image at her back mimicked the move. She and her manifestation fused into one, and Occisus swelled to a hundred times its original length.
A brilliant wave of white light issued forth. Where it passed the air would change from a prismatic display to a stark canvas of black and white. It was though the beam of life carved a
schism between life and death, separating two halves of reality. Ten of the monster’s tentacles froze mid-squirm then disintegrated as their life energy was consumed.
The progenitor screeched from the sudden, blinding pain. Several more tentacles quickly grew to replace the ones it had lost. These monsters were among the apex of their species, thus were they able to recover from nearly any injury. So long as they had vital energy to support them, and weren’t sudden killed, they could overcome tremendous punishment.
Though its tentacles were quickly replaced, the beast didn’t dare press the attack. Yet the Pharmacist did not let up. She was a whirlwind of motion, releases waves of protogenia that swept passed the Pauper’s golden dragon as waves of sword-swipes.
As a Reflection of Heaven and Earth, her sword technique was different than it had been before. Each bloom of light cut through the aliens in their path as though they were nothing. Any creature unfortunate enough to meet Occisus’ power was cut into dozens of pieces and slain.
With her Slaughter Domain and Occisus power as one, nothing could withstand its bloodcurdling power. It of course went without saying that as the Pharmacist grew in strength, so
too did her Domain.
Two figures were then spotted above the progenitor. Behind Lan Jue, a regal image appeared wearing a golden crown. Middle Heaven Emperor of the North Pole Star of Purple Subtlety. Behind Qianlin was her own dharmic image; Guanyin, the Queen of Heaven.
With their dharmas revealed, Lan Jue and Qianlin did not merge. Instead, together as one, they thrust forward with their Banishing Blades.
With this simple movement the skies shuddered. A rainbow of colors radiated from the two of them.
A series of resplendent gold runes appeared within the emanating power of Captus. As the dharmic image at Lan Jue’s back motioned a halo of indigo light arose. It reflected off of Captus’ blade, which hummed in response, followed by sparks of red electricity.
A haze of white descended upon them. As the Queen of Heaven’s powers washed over Lan Jue and Qianlin, they felt their abilities grow.
Ten thousand swords focused flow! The invincible Harmonious Swords! As the weapons struck in tandem a colorful beam of light descended unto their target, rich with lethal and imperatorial power.
When that light appeared, the Violet Prince – locked in combat far above the planet – shuddered. Disbelief shimmered in his eyes.
Luo Xianni also unconsciously cast her eyes toward Sheol. In contrast to her foe, she smiled.
For Lan Jue and Qianlin the attack was nearly automatic. As he looked on, Lan Jue saw that his partner’s unique style was even more fluid and ethereal than it had been. Both of them only had each other in their hearts, mutually devoted, resulting in the Harmonious Swords!
Sensing the danger it was in, the progenitor retracted its tentacles and coiled them tightly. Wrapped up in an undulating purple column, it thrust them into the sky in attempts to withstand the beam of rainbow light.
But it was to no avail. Where the tentacles and light met, the
monster’s appendages disintegrated. It was incapable of stopping the righteous onslaught. Like a spear descended from heaven, the column of light pierced the progenitor.
Squelch! It penetrated the beast’s sickening purple flesh then began to spread. It struck with such force that the light was reflected off the ground and bounced back into the air as thousands upon thousands of individual shards of power.
Chapter 804: Saving Heaven’s Light
Lan Jue and Qianlin became translucent, then invisible. Only Guanyin and the Emperor of the North Pole Star remained visible in the sky with the Banishing Blades in their hands. Guanyin was crystal clear, but in contrast the Emperor of the North Pole Star was diaphanous.
The hum from Demortus and Captus filled the air as they stretched out together – not to attack, but to lead. They directed the stream of technicolor light that descended from on high toward its singular aim.
One of the monsters, thousands of meters long, sensed the danger approaching. It turned to flee, wildly raking the air with its metallic claws. But the torrent of light swept passed before it could escape, piercing through its forehead and beyond. One after the other all aliens in its path were cut down.
The two dharmic images rose higher into the air. White light radiate from the Queen of Heaven and fell upon a vast expanse of land. Sizzling mists arose from the bodies of all aliens caught within the light. They screeched and cried in pain, flying aimlessly toward succor. The other humans, bathed in the light of Guanyin, felt their protogenia swiftly recovering.
The Emperor of the North Pole Star indicated a direction with Captus. Meanwhile, a blue cloud gathered ominously over its head. Several bolts of typical-looking lightning were cast from it. They sought out and incinerated the monstrous creatures as they writhed within Qianlin’s Domain. All victims of lightning were erased from being, with nothing remaining to mark their existence but a vital crystal.
The Emperor’s Domain, the Palm of Five Thunders, was lightning based. Although it was far weaker and less dramatic than the cloud that had appeared during Lan Jue’s ascension, the appearance of All-Heaven Lightning still struck a cord of fear even among the Paragons.
Even Lan Jue and Qianlin hadn’t suspected defeating the progenitor would be this easy. The Harmonious Swords were draining, but now that the two of them were Paragons and commanded the forces of the universe, the technique’s cost was reduced while its efficacy skyrocketed. They could continue to fight even after employing it.
With the death of the progenitor, the nearby aliens were uninclined to race in and throw their lives away. Lan Jue and Qianlin exchanged a look before raising their swords once more, but the Pharmacist’s voice stopped them. “Let’s charge in!”
“Alright!” The Pauper fell in beside Lan Jue and Qianlin, with the Pharmacist on the other side before all four leapt into the air. The Driver remained behind, and with a shivers dozens of lightning bolts erupted from him. They didn’t seek out aliens, rather they struck the many vital crystals strewn around the battlefield and recovered them. Primarily they wanted the progenitor’s crystal, a real treasure for humanity that simultaneously robbed power from their enemies.
Lan Jue marked their path by pointing with his weapon. Where he indicated, a sea of power rushed through – focused flow. In the same moment Qianlin’s weapon exploded into tens of thousands of twinkling lights – Ten Thousand Swords as One, Demortus’ cutting power spread far and wide.
One focused and heavy, the other light and diffuse. As the two of them shared an intimate look their techniques melded and the rainbow light appeared once again. It shot into the sky and painted everything in myriad shades of color.
Nothing could withstand its passage. Anything remotely near the rainbow was massacred. By the time the Driver caught up to them the column of light was so wide it swallowed all five Paragons into its bosom. Suddenly they were moving at incredible speed, and in a blink they had swept through the atmosphere back out into space.
Most of the enemy forces were gone, only a few stragglers remained. They made no move to stop the humans, for they did not dare contend against the rainbow light.
In the distance they could see flashes of pink and violet clashing. Waves of staggering energy were released with every blast. When Luo Xianni saw the rainbow light split the darkness of space she knew their mission was complete. In a flicker of pink light she rejoined her team.
The Violet Prince was hot on her heels, and reached out with his hands. A piercing violet light fell over the humans.
Lan Jue and Qianlin didn’t wait for permission, and again struck out with the Harmonious Swords. For a third time a beam of rainbow light was born. But the Violet Prince didn’t balk, didn’t back down. The two beams met each other halfway.
At first contact the rainbow light buckled beneath the intensity of the purple beam. However, soon signs of weakness showed in the Prince’s attack, as its edges disintegrated before a rapidly strengthening Harmonious Swords technique.
The Prince could sense it acutely, his life essence boiling
within him. The power he contended against was sometimes focused and sometimes scattered, a fact which stopped his strength from assailing it directly.
He roared in anger and frustration, pouring even more of his capabilities into the violet stream. As it seemed he would overcome the humans’ powers there was a burst of blinding light. His prey was gone.
Lan Jue and the others reappeared in a flash of pink light. This time they were safely aboard Zeus-1. Luckily all six had restrained their powers when the flash appeared. Otherwise the sudden burst of power from so many Paragons would have undoubtedly obliterated the ship and everyone on it.
Their mission was a complete success.
The Driver extended a thumbs-up toward Lan Jue and Qianlin. After their breakthrough, their powers were simply incredible. Both were irreplaceably assets on the battlefield. Their actions also proved that an Adept’s powers could counter and restrict the aliens’, capable of causing fatal damage. With
the Banishing Blades they were even able to deflect the powers of the Violet Prince, whose strength far outmatched theirs. The technique still wasn’t even perfected.
Lan Jue chuckled wryly. “We only had about forty-percent of our energy left. The Harmonious Sword technique is incredibly draining.”
The two of them could not be fused and use the technique at the same time – after it, It required a pair. This meant the technique was driven by the force of Reflection of Heaven and Earth. Still, they were able to use their inferior powers to contend against a much stronger foe – at the cost of great effort.
The Pharmacist smiled at them both. “Very good. Now as your power increases you should continue to train the technique in order to call on it's true might.”
Lan Jue nodded in agreement. After three consecutive uses he felt exhausted. Much of the energy they poured into the technique wasn’t directed into the attack. In fact, it required tremendous strength and concentration to keep the manifestation stable. Qianlin had suffered for a long time in a coma, and though their hearts were as one they needed to continue training their cooperation. Individually they were very
proficient with their styles, but together they needed practice.
However the foundation of the Harmonious Swords technique was a union of hearts. Thankfully this was something they had already achieved. The technical aspects of it were much easier by comparison and just required mutual cultivation.
Zeus-1 picked up speed and vacated Sheol’s gravity well. Lan Jue took the opportunity to get in contact with Lan Qing and let him know what happened.
“A-Jue, you can’t come back yet. The Terminator has run into some trouble, powerful enemies they’ve so far managed to keep off. We can’t move the troops in time so you need to get there as soon as possible. The bastions are headed back to rejoin the armada, and when we do we’ll move in for support. You should head there directly.”
When Lan Jue heard the news he couldn’t help but feel anxious. The elation they felt for a successful mission quickly subsided. “Alright, we’re on our way.”
“Mika, change course for Heaven’s Light.” Lan Jue ordered.
Mika whipped her head around and looked at him, surprised. “Boss, Heaven’s Light…”
Lan Jue interrupted her concern. “Don’t worry, the situation now is unclear. Lan Qing has asked us to go and aid the Terminator’s team. Quickly now.”
“Aye, aye.” Mika complied, her heart racing. Her father was with the Terminator. Although she hadn’t been a part of the Dark Citadel or that man’s life for years, it was where she grew up. That man was her father.
Her mind harkened back to the conversation they’d had before the mission began. Suddenly her heart sank and an inexplicable sense of oppression settled on her shoulders. She wouldn’t accept it but the heart was not susceptible to her deception. She still cared for him, she wanted him to live.
Zeus-1 veered off of its intended course, burning full speed for the next planet in the system – Heaven’s Light. They were a streak of brightness against a black backdrop.
Lan Jue could feel Mika’s anxiety. He replaced Lin Guoguo at the captain’s chair and lent the ship his powers so it would move faster. The ship was too small to support much of a Paragon’s abilities, however, so Lan Jue was more than enough to give it the juice it needed.
After making their overtures against Sheol, the bastions had since turned around and were returning to the fleet. Their next target was Heaven’s Light.
According to the information they’d gotten, the Terminator had encounter no small obstacle to completing their mission. They were beset in enemy territory and were fighting for their lives. Normal aliens were not the concern, for they certainly could not harm these Paragons. What was frightening by the Terminator’s report was it meant more powerful foes had come up against them.
Three humanoid aliens had appeared.
All three were avatars of the planets; Monarch, Empress and Consort. The last two were similar in appearance to the Violet Princess, beautiful and deadly, but slightly older. The only way to tell them apart was by their hair, one purple and one red.
Chapter 805: The King of Devils
Queen, Consort and Monarch – the three most powerful aliens outside of the home worlds themselves. Luckily none of them were strong enough to ascend to the Infinite. However three Nirvana-level enemies was enough to cause the Terminator and his allies significant trouble.
The Terminator himself had achieved Nirvana, but only recently. Besides him the Wine Master and Clockmaker were Reflections of Heaven and Earth. The others were still within the Realm of Protogenia.
The seven of them together, employing their full strength, were able to keep the enemy at bay. At least for now. The valley they fought in was scarred by the marks of their conflict. From overhead it looked like a jagged crater.
Roars and explosions filled the air, competing against one another as the chaos continued. A gigantic image of a man with pitch black skin, ten thousand meters tall stomped through the area. His body blazed with a blinding golden light, and every time he threw a punch hundreds of aliens were eliminated.
Scores of enemies threw themselves at him. Their blows
landed, but only transient marks remained from their efforts. None of the lesser beasts could overcome his defenses. This was the Terminator’s dharmic image. The others were managing to avoid destruction because he had taken the fore.
Once they had infiltrated the planet, the Terminator had quietly lead his team toward the progenitor’s location and waited for their opportunity. But when the space battle had begun, the situation here had been less than ideal. Many aliens remained surrounding the progenitor. That was when they found the three who would give them the most worry.
When the battle was at its height the Terminator could wait no longer. They had two planets they were responsible for liberating, and seven Paragons waiting to do their part. They could not delay!
He formulated a plan; He would use his own body to shield the others while they dealt with the progenitor.
Unfortunately for them the creature was also Nirvana-level. Their plan appeared to be working at the outset, with the Terminator relying on his overpowering strength to single- handedly keep the three doppelgangers at bay.
However, although the other Paragons exclusively turned their attacks on the progenitor, they weren’t strong enough to bring it down. The best they’d managed was to injure it. Meanwhile, the doppelgangers were commanding the alien forces to surround and besiege them.
A Paragon’s protogenic recovery rate was quick, which meant their staying power in a fight was similarly impressive. However, while this planet used to be human territory it belonged to the enemy now. The progenitor’s corrupting influence acted as support for the creatures helping them to heal and replenish rapidly, while also empowering the planets’ avatars.
Mission success was tantalizingly close when they started their assault. With their target within view, how could they retreat? But as time went on the situation worsened. The Paragons had to fight harder as more aliens came to the progenitor’s aid. The air was so thick with enemies even the clouds were blotted out.
At last the Wine Master sent out a request for help. Things had spiraled out of their control, and if they fell here the cost to humanity would be immense. He used his dimensional powers to keep the enemies at bay by opening portals in front of the encroaching forces. In their headlong charge the monsters
would barrel through the portals and find themselves far away.
Now, load roars filled the air. A mushroom cloud lifted debris high into the planet’s atmosphere, followed by a powerful shockwave. For a moment that section of horizon burned like a sunrise. Scores of aliens tumbled from the sky.
The fight had raged at a fever pitch for several hours with the Paragons slaying countless numbers of aliens. Unfortunately their vital crystals were swallowed up by the fungus-infested earth and returned to the enemy. Ultimately they suffered no losses.
The Terminator’s team took turns resting and pressing the attack to try and conserve energy, but continuous battle was beginning to take its toll.
An inferno of dark red fire repelled a group of aliens. Satan’s face glowered in the stark shadows his fires created. All of a sudden he rose sharply into the air, outside of their defensive formation.
“Satan, what are you doing?! Get back here!” The Keeper shouted.
Satan turned his head and peered back at the researcher. Suddenly he smiled. “Get ready to break out of the encirclement!” As he spoke his pale hands were pressed together in front of him. A sea of fire erupted in all directions with him at its center. This was enough to force the aliens around him to fall back. Simultaneously, a strange black light lingered between the King of Devil’s palms.
It grew into a pitch-black sword that was strange to behold. It was long and thin, even its handguard oddly dainty. On either end of the handguard were two identical black gemstones, complimenting a third at the base of the pommel. They glimmered with a strange and bewitching light, but the blade itself was a flat black that reflected no light whatsoever.
When the rapier appeared all light in the vicinity dimmed, swallowed into its inky surface.
“This is…” The Pontiff stared in surprise.
Satan’s demonic star was fixed on the aliens. His lips moved as a low, guttural chant slithered through the air. A pair of enormous wings burst from his back and spread wide, matched by a pair of dark red horns drilling out from his forehead. Satan’s aura rapidly swelled in power.
This dramatic transformation captured the attention of the three doppelgangers. They had continued to try and rush in to end these humans, but the Terminator’s power had so far kept them at bay. The Northern Paragon was riddled with wounds, but with the help of the Wine Master and Clockmaker they’d managed to keep their party safe – but only barely.
Satan turned his attention back toward the Keeper. “When I’m gone, give this blade to my daughter. And watch that hypocrite, make sure he doesn’t get his hands on it.”
The Dark Citadel’s former leader erupted into thunderous laughter. His body was consumed in an inferno of hellfire.
Satan’s aura intensified by several orders of magnitude. With a flourish he flipped the blade around and hugged it toward himself. The sleep blade slipped into him, right where his heart was located.
The second it pierced his heart, everything within five hundred meters of the Paragon froze in place. Suddenly they crumbled away into ash.
Satan’s body became the center of a massive black vortex. A
manic surge of demonic energy whipped around it like a tempest.
The Pontiff looked on, struck dumb with amazement. He and Satan had been adversaries for decades and knew each other like brothers. He knew what this was.
“He… he’s broken the stygian seal?” He gasped.
“Stygian seal? What’s that?” The Keeper asked. The Avenue’s ultimate researcher could feel that the energy Satan was releasing far exceeded his typical capabilities, and it was still rising. The protogenia around him was solidifying, as though in anticipation of something terrible.
“The power of the Satan bloodline is derived from the King of Devils. It grants them incredible power, but corrupts their hearts and devours their souls. There is never a good end for members of their cursed bloodline. Eventually their soul comes under the command of the Devil, and they become puppets of pure animalistic evil. Only upon becoming Paragons can this possession be halted, and in turn the Adept becomes a Devil in the flesh. Satan is the only one of their ilk I’ve seen who has been able to thoroughly seal the corruption of his blood right. By piercing his heart he releases the full power latent in his
blood, the only way to summon the full strength of the King of Devils. But it comes at the cost of his body and soul. The mythical King of Devils has powers even beyond the Infinite. Even a shadow of its presence would be harrowing.”
The Keeper didn’t completely understand what the Keeper was saying, but he grasped enough. Satan intended to sacrifice his own life energy to overcome the aliens. The Arcane Magnate had never held Satan or his despicable bloodline in high regard, but in this moment he looked upon the man with respect. A Paragon’s life was long and highly cherished, the Keeper knew this well. This man was willing to give up his life without complaint. That was true strength.
Satan’s eyes were a ghastly blood red. His body and aura grew before their eyes.
“I am the King of Devils – greatest of my generation. Surely you lesser creatures cannot hope to shackle me? Ha-ha-ha-ha!” His mad cackling cracked like thunder and with a vicious yank
he pulled the rapier free from his chest. It, too, had grown with the rest of him, and now his demonic aura had drowned all the world around them.
Shadows coalesced around him to create a red cloak that
flapped at his back. His pale face had become leathery red and monstrous. The light in his eyes was no longer human.
With a single beat of his enormous wings Satan was suddenly on the other side of the battlefield. The aliens around him only felt a sudden burning sensation, then all of a sudden an area a thousand meters in diameter was swallowed up in red light. They were cut off from the rest of the battle.
The Terminator acutely felt the power that came from the demon and knew that even his Nirvana-level abilities would not be able to contend against him.
Satan’s ice-cold features regarded the North’s Paragon defender. “Terminator. I have a request.” His voice was cold as death.
The Terminator continued to fight, but was paying close attention.
Chapter 806: Satan’s Last Words
“Spit it out!” The Terminator said between world-shaking punches. Satan was sacrificing his life so that the rest of them might live. How could he ignore his request?
Satan’s voice was low and solemn. “If my daughter decides to take over the Dark Citadel, I want you to support her claim. If she refuses let the Hades bloodline take control. I bequeath my demonic blade to my last remaining daughter. I trust you, and I trust the Avenue, but I will place no faith in that snake the
Pontiff. Keep Mika safe.”
“Alright!” The Terminator agreed without hesitation. Sorrow flitted through his eyes.
For a hundred years the number of Paragons in the world had remained constant. Only within the last year or so were new names added to the list. Both of them were old established heroes of a bygone era. To witness his contemporary’ life cut short in this way, the Terminator was filled with admiration.
Every Paragon had some extreme measure hidden away in case of events such as this, but they also had misgivings. The Terminator, for instance, couldn’t sacrifice himself because the North needed him. If he were to fall the North would have no
one to contend against the daunting power of the East.
Satan’s courage was as surprising as it was praiseworthy.
Satan chuckled. His right hand lifted and pointed toward the heavens. “Go!” He roared.
The area of smoldering red around him suddenly became a tornado of energy that swallowed up the Paragons and spat them into the air. Demonic flames lapped at their heels and burned so intensely they kept the alien avatars at bay.
The fires began to consume Satan’s body. His powers hovered on the cusp of the Infinite.
“So this is what the Infinite feels like, the power I was meant to command.” Satan stepped forward into the center of the tornado. If he remained within it and left with the others there was a chance he could survive. But he was the King of Devils – he sought a glorious death in combat.
“Come! Children of the alien fiends. I will show you the power of a real monster.” He swiped his rapier through the air,
sending waves of crimson energy in all directions.
Monarch’s doppelganger retreated a step and lifted its hands. An orb of violet light issued from its palms and burned away the encroaching attack. Queen and Consort came closing in on Satan’s location from either flank.
Satan watched them come with fearless countenance, ready to face them alone. The hellfire that clung to him flickered dangerously and burned brighter. The avatars were reluctant to get close, for they knew the heat from those fires could scorch them down to their souls.
The red tornado had flung the other six Paragons with such force they were in the upper reaches of the planet’s atmosphere before they knew it. Many lesser aliens had rushed after them, but of course could not block their escape.
The Terminator’s expression was uncharacteristically angry. As he flew at the head of the group his big hands grabbed whatever beasts dared get to close before ripping the life out of them in grotesque fashion. It was the only way he could release the pain and resentment that ate at his heart.
The other Paragons didn’t utter a sound, but similar feelings were clear on their faces.
The Wine Master, Clockmaker, Keeper and Bookworm were all glowering. Skyfire Avenue adhered to a strict code of fairness and justice. The Keeper had been prepared to use his own power of last resort, but Satan had been faster.
Even the Pontiff’s face betrayed a sense of loss, almost disbelief. He would never have suspected Satan to take this measure. As an emissary of God it should have been his responsibility! But he didn’t have the courage his contemporary had.
The Paragons slaughtered their way out of encirclement, eventually fighting their way out into space. Once they had some breathing room the Wine Master waved his scepter and a silver light enveloped them. When it receded they were far from the planet’s surface. Without the doppelgangers the aliens couldn’t prevent them from escaping.
Just then a streak of light arrived, a beam that was there one minute and gone the next as it swept through the pursuing alien force. A bone-jarring explosion ensued that sent the monsters reeling in all directions. Zeus-1 appeared suspended in the
The Wine Master dare not delay. Waving his scepter again his protogenia conveyed them into the small ship’s interior. Immediately Zeus-1’s Blinding Stone was reengaged and Lin Guoguo concealed their presence with her psychic force. They peeled off to evade their enemy’s search.
Zeus-1 was nearing its limit. It had been working beyond capacity the whole way to Heaven’s Light, a feat only possible because Lan Jue was feeding it energy. When they returned to the fleet his ship would need serious repairs.
When he saw the group of Paragons appear on the bridge Lan Jue’s first reaction was to sigh in relief. He made it in time to save them. But his satisfaction was brief, for soon he saw the problem. They were short one.
“Where is he?” Lan Jue had noticed it immediately, and so had Mika. She had approached the moment they appeared. There was a tremble in her voice.
It was the Terminator who answered her. “In order to save our lives Satan pierced his own heart with his demon blade. He
used the King of Devils true power to cover our retreat…”
“What?” For a moment Mika’s eyes went dark. She felt faint.
For years she had hated Satan, withholding forgiveness for his alleged crimes. But, in her heart he was always undefeatable – an indomitable force that could overcome all obstacles. Like all little girls she believed her dad could conquer the universe. He was the Devil of this generation.
Now they were telling her that this man, this indestructible force of nature, the man she’d despised for so long, was…
“Mika, don’t rush to conclusions. Let’s take a look, maybe there’s something we can do.” Lan Jue had come to her side, helping to keep her steady.
“Lan Jue you mustn’t rush in!” The Wine Master warned.
“With our gathered strength we can escape unscathed,” Lan Jue said. “My mother has risen to the Infinite.” His own eyes sparkled as he allowed his aura to be revealed to them.
Surprise appeared on their faces as Lan Jue’s aura washed over them. “You broke through?” The Terminator asked.
The Paragons of Skyfire Avenue were aware, but the other were not.
Lan Jue nodded. He then turned back to Mika. “Pull yourself together.”
Mika was tough. She grit her teeth and nodded.
“The target for this planet still remains, we need to make sure it gets done. Let’s go.” Luo Xianni’s stoic voice intruded. With a wave of her hand, all the Paragon aboard Zeus-1 vanished.
Chapter 807: Homage to the Stars
A flash of pink light, and the Paragons were hanging in the purple atmosphere of Heaven’s Light. This time their assault team was twelve strong; Luo Xianni, the Terminator, Clockmaker, Wine Master, Pharmacist, Driver, Keeper, Bookworm, Pauper, Pontiff, Lan Jue, and Zhou Qianlin. These were nearly all of humanity’s strongest warriors.
In the distance they could see the red tornado slowly sputter out.
The Terminator spoke in a solemn voice. “There. That’s also where the progenitor is.”
Another flash of pink and they were conveyed to where Satan had released his power. Wild energies flit through the air, potent and stifling. Yet, they were beginning to weaken.
Lan Jue saw Satan right away.
He was once again human form, and Monarch’s doppelganger had him by the neck. Lan Jue could feel the vital energy draining from his ally at a rapid pace. The demon blade he’d
used to pierce his heart had become spectral in appearance, opaque. The alien avatar tried to take it for itself, but its hand passed through as though trying to grasp at air.
There was a flicker, and the sword vanished.
Satan’s eyes weakly turned to compatriots, pain clearly in his twisted expression. However, there was neither fear nor sadness, but defiance.
BOOM--! The area was bathed in an explosion of red light, throwing everything into a furor of energy. The release of power from a Paragon in the moments before their death was incredible, more than the avatars could entirely defend against. They went flailing through the air.
“Die-!” Luo Xianni roared. Her tiny pink camera appeared in her hands.
Ka-cha! With the click of the shutter, the creatures froze in mid air. A white light sprang up that settled over the Paragons, and with it the Terminator and his team felt their drained protogenic might recover.
Yet, despite this they were not surprised. All of them were struck to the core by Satan’s death. Brilliant lights erupted from the human warriors, toward the avatars and the lesser beasts around them.
Three strange orbs of purple light shimmered, and all of a sudden the immobilized doppelgangers were gone. Then, overhead, three enormous silhouettes blotted out the sky. The alien home worlds. Their aura bore down on the surface of Heaven’s Light like a torrent of power. Lan Jue and the others froe in their charge and shook with shock and fear.
The alien planets?
As their nightmarish foes appeared the whole of reality was immersed in purple light. The aura of power that surrounded the Avatars buffeted them in ever more powerful waves. In the space of an instant they were on the upper border of Nirvana. It wasn’t just their protogenia, either – every ounce of them was bursting with empowered energy.
As the humans looked on, a strange scene unfolded. All the surrounding aliens turned and headed for the doppelgangers. When they got close their bodies disintegrated into eddies of purple mist, and wormed their way into the planet’s
Despite the many experiences these Paragons had in fighting the aliens, this was the first time they’d witnessed something like this. Everyone’s face fell, they knew what the avatars were doing; consuming the energy of the creatures around them to increase their strength.
All of these monsters were creations of the three alien planets, and were destined to return to them. In this way they were all one, though it was the first time they witnessed it in such a literal fashion. If this kept up it wouldn’t be long before these three creatures commanded the power of Infinite, or close to it.
“Attack.” Luo Xianni’s voice was cold, calm. She lifted her camera and a pale pink light emerged as dual columns descending from the sky.
Suddenly reality split. Where there had been one unbroken purple horizon now it was cleaved in half. The gathered alien avatars were violently thrust apart, as though deposited in separate dimensions.
Luo Xianni’s fighting style was complicated. She saw that
these creatures were strong, but they were strongest together. As such their best chance was to divide and conquer.
Although the Photographer’s breakthrough was still fresh, and her familiarity with her newfound powers in its infancy, she was still a denizen of the Infinite. Even beneath the strengthening light of the planets, she was still their superior.
The avatars were on the move. Lan Jue and Qianlin reacted first by becoming dual bolts of lightning and heading their way.
Lan Jue waved his hands and the misty environment around him parted. Emulsions of the aliens’ power vanished in his vicinity, replaced by a universe of purple light. Out in space the soldiers aboard the human warships saw a singular star blaze in the sky, preceding a strange sight. It was like someone dimmed all the other stars and planets, dialing down their intensity.
In truth this was Lan Jue, employing the might of his Domain for the first time. Even he wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.
Middle Heaven Emperor of the North Pole Star of Purple Subtlety was master of the stars, or so he had been called. All the stellar bodies payed homage to the North Star, and
constrained their light in its presence. Although Lan Jue was only a Reflection of Heaven and Earth, the strength of his Domain was evident.
Within the glittering luminescence of his Domain crackling lightning danced in and out of existence. Each arc of electricity was a different color from the one before it, changing from gold to blue to purple and countless others. Each crackling bolt also bore a different feel, a unique sense – a staggering fear.
An alien came charging in from overhead, headlong into Lan Jue’s Domain. The moment it crossed the border the field around the Jewelry Master lit up as dozens of lightning bolts surged toward the intruder. It was reduced to smoldering powder after the first blast, even its vital crystal was atomized. Whatever energy was contained in the beast dissipated through Lan Jue Domain and left no trace.
Boundless Starlight, Palm of Five Lightning. This was the power bequeathed to him by the Emperor of the North Star.
Modern humans had thus far been unable to manifest the dharma of these long-lost gods. But Lan Jue’s destiny was beyond compare, his luck supernatural. With the thunder essence and the echoes of tribulation lightning it contained, as
well as his own lightning Discipline and Jue Di’s tutelage… with his dedicated cultivation and constant restraint, the assistance of immortal qi and his painstakingly evolved All-Heaven Lightning, he was able to grasp the vestiges of Purple Subtlety and thus solidify his protogenia.
Chapter 808: A Domain of Boundless Starlight
It went without saying that Lan Jue’s luck was exceptional. Lan Jue earlier conjectures had proven time and again to be close to the truth. And everything, once it reached a certain level of power, would either break through to new heights or be destroyed.
The ancient realm of immortals succumbed to the second eventuality and passed into history. But how powerful were those being that created a space that could contend against the universe itself?
The Middle Heaven Emperor of the North Pole Star of Purple Subtlety was not the mightiest of this legendary beings, but he was certainly among the strongest. One can imagine the resilience and potency of his primordial spirit. What remained of his influence was enough to empower Lan Jue.
Having just broken through Lan Jue hadn’t had enough time to wholly understand this gift. However, through his environment and experiences he already had a connection to it that fused them together.
The Banishing Blades were stupendous weapons of power. In the hands of the Emperor of the North Star, they were incomparably destructive. In fact, only the gathered Banishing Blades would be capable of causing harm to a god and his godblade.
Thus with this mystical inheritance Lan Jue was able to galvanize the potential of Captus with great success. It was why he and Qianlin were able to employ the Harmonious Swords style to such abundant success.
In the first moments of releasing his Discipline, Lan Jue felt like the heavens and earth moved at his behest. Within the scope of his Domain he was master and creator, and his protogenia was the motive force for everything that existed. Stars dimmed because they were lending their energy to his pocket reality, translating into the blasts of thunder that snaked through it. It was the foundational energy of the Palm of Five Lightnings and produced a Domain few could contend against.
Lan Qing’s Buddha’s Revelation Domain was held in high regard as one of the strongest as well, but the Buddhist faith was lenient and pacifistic by nature. It was mostly defensive and empowering, where Lan Jue’s Boundless Starlight Domain was designed for direct force. It even has some similarities to the Banishing Strategy. If the Emperor of the North Star himself
summoned this Domain, nevermind the alien planets, whole swaths of the universe would cease to exist.
Lan Jue, of course, was nowhere near those levels of power. However when his Domain was released the potential that pulsed within it was staggering.
Qianlin stood by his side, saying nothing. Her Queen of Heaven Domain linked with whatever power was nearby in mutual support. It was inevitable that the stronger one’s power was, the more unstable it was by nature. But bathed in the light of the Queen of Heaven the dangers were abated. White light hung over the domineering image of the Emperor and swelled the manifestation of its Domain farther by half. Lan Jue did not feel drained even despite the expansion of his influence. On the contrary he felt more rooted.
Their target was designated, Monarch’s avatar. There was a flash of purple, and the Boundless Starlight swept up to meet their foe.
When this war started Lan Jue and Qianlin had not been Paragons. They had been Adepts mere hours ago, and now possessed strength enough to challenge a foe who bore the power of Nirvana – and the strongest of the planets’
From all intelligence and information gathered, Lan Jue knew that if the alien home worlds were still evolving then these beasts in human skin – along with the Violet Prince and Princess
– were the alien’s strongest line of defense. How strong he could not say for sure, but some could at least contend with the Infinite. Beyond a doubt, cutting down one of these top generals would be a tremendous blow against the enemies of humanity.
Satan had died in the conflict, but he had used his death to give mankind a chance. Here were gathered nearly all Paragons, and if they could leave behind the corpses of these doppelgangers and their alien pawns it could turn the tide of battle.
The suddenness of Lan Jue’s Domain and the fact it could overtake it at all was a surprise for the avatar. But he didn’t have time to marvel over it long, before in a flash an arc of golden lightning was blasting toward him. It was the strongest of the five lightnings – chaos.
Monarch’s representative swung its arms in a circular pattern and the essence of its violet energy was summoned, coalescing into a shield to block the lightning’s path.
When the two met there was no dramatic explosion or deafening blast. When the chaos lightning reached the violet light it simply vanished. However, the avatar’s shield was covered in a misty golden hue. It began to melt away before their eyes.
Amazement was the word to best describe the avatar’s features. Its body trembled then shot into the distance. Strong as it was the beast did not desire to face chaotic lightning head- on.
But the lesser monsters continued to tumble from the sky as All-Heaven Lightning hunted them down. As Lan Jue’s chosen specialty it was only slightly less destructive than chaotic lightning. Lan Jue was not the Emperor of the North Star, and his powers were a mere shadow of the ancient god, but it was more than enough to strike fear in the hearts of these monsters.
B-o-o-o-m—The peal of thunder was so intense it made the doppelganger’s shield tremble.
More glittering bolts of electric power came crashing down from on high. The searing purple of primordial lightning, the three turquoise bolts, and more assailed the doppelganger. The creature was pinned and its spirit rattled, forced to rely on
exuding pure energy to defend itself.
Even Lan Jue was surprised at the fortitude of his Domain. Whatever the circumstance he was still just a Reflection of Heaven and Earth. It spoke volumes to his abilities that he was able to suppress a monster that was a full degree of power above him.
The pressure from their clash was palpable in the air. There was a flash of light in Lan Jue’s eyes as he thrust Captus forward. He closed his eyes, and suddenly he was one with the essence of his Domain.
A beam of red light streaked forward. As it raced forward bolts of all the different sorts fell into its wake. Monarch’s avatar hovered directly in its path of destruction.
Boom-- -- -- To the doppelganger it was as though reality collapsed around it. The blasts of lightning that tied him down grew ever stronger. Within this terrible state he could feel a wild energy tearing at his body.
The Five Lightnings were righteous by nature and suppressed the power of evil. Captus was a weapon forged by the gods.
Together, and empowered by his Domain, the force at Lan Jue’s command was overwhelming.
It might be expected that Lan Jue and Qianlin, with their Harmonious Swords, could defeat a progenitor of Nirvana level. It was a different thing entirely that Lan Jue, empowered by the image of the Emperor of the North Star, could face down one of the alien generals on his own and not be in too inferior a position.
The only person who could compete with him in sheer talent was Lan Qing. This was true in both dharmic image and Domain. But don’t forget that Lan Qing was not the bearer of a Banishing Blade. Nor was Lan Qing’s powers focused on offense, but control. Thus Lan Jue, with all the tools at his disposal, had the sheer destructive power of the likes of Luo Xianni and his father. Even the Terminator could not say for certain if he could win a one-on-one encounter with the young man.
However Lan Jue had not recognized this. After all since his breakthrough he had just known the strength of the Harmonious Swords. He had only anticipated their combined strength to be enough for the task ahead. He would only come to know the scope of his personal abilities through trial by combat – as he was doing now.
The aura pouring from the Monarch’s avatar was threatening. Although, it was less terrifying than it had been prior to being consumed by Lan Jue’s Domain. Boundless Starlight seemed to be repressing the monster’s cultivation while simultaneously peppering it with attacks. Lan Jue was as surprised as anyone when he saw his Domain fuse perfectly with the tide of Captus’ power. The Five Lightnings worked in sync with the Banishing Blade to great effect.
The alien general was cut off, surrounded on all sides by the reality-piercing might of Captus. Meanwhile Lan Jue’s Domain worked with a mind of its own. Lightning strikes of various colors traced their way through the air in a mass onslaught.
Monarch’s avatar threw its head back and roared at the sky. The pain was excruciating, and the power he needed to free himself was fleeting like water through sand. Destruction was a terrifyingly real possibility.
All cognizant beings knew terror. The more powerful they were, the deeper their fear ran. When the circumstances of one’s demise were laid bare, that dread became unescapable.
Such was the truth Monarch’s representative faced. Scales began to emerge on its skin. Where its face had once been
handsome and gallant, now it was a mask of feral inhumanity. It could no longer control itself and defend against Boundless Starlight, and was forced to reveal its true nature.
In the instant Lan Jue thrust forward with Captus, Qianlin mimicked the motion with her own sword. But her attack was absent the overwhelming power of Lan Jue’s. Hers was possessed by a faintly discernible immortal presence, and emerged as a hail of piercing blue light. Ubiquitous as rain in a summer storm.
The myriad blue lights served as guides for the power of the Five Lightnings. The centralized blasts of electricity dispersed, but only to attach themselves to the fragments of sword energy.
First the incisiveness of Demortus, then the sheer force of the Five Lightnings, together forged into a hail of catastrophic intensity. Each beam of blue light was like an atom bomb that pummeled the avatar’s defenses.
It couldn’t keep it all out. The shield around one of Monarch’s mightiest agents collapsed.
Chapter 809: Death of the Doppelganger
In the moment the creature’s defenses shattered, its full and terrible potential was unleashed. A wave of dark purple light spread out from it like ink from an octopus. Wherever the slithering light touched an infection bloomed that constrained the power of the Five Lightnings. As the contamination spread the Monarch’s avatar disappeared within it.
The thick, plum-colored taint spread quickly, swallowing everything it came across. Lightning continued to blast at it from all corners of Lan Jue’s Domain, but couldn’t seem to burn it away.
Lan Jue scowled. This inky energy was strangely unique, composed of condensed vital energy and possessed of a ruinous hunger. It surged with an ebb and flow, constantly creating and destroying as it spread out through his Domain.
That should have been power only the alien planets could control. Understanding was beginning to dawn on the Jewelry Master. He thought life and death were as incompatible as fire and water, but in fact they were the extremes of one another. Destruction was the end result of life, and life was born from ashes of destruction. The two were inexorably combined.
The alien evolutionary process required unceasing destruction of humanity. Through consumption of their vital energies they expanded their own, a common fact of nature and one they had been involved in for many years.
Thus did they continue to rise in strength to their current level. Their whole reality was incessant consumption, and through it they understood vitality and creation, death and decay. It was their reality, their protogenia. This was the only way they knew how to fight against the tyranny of universal suppression.
As life and death coiled among each other, the aliens’ protogenia continued to change. It was a constant cycle of consumption, assimilation and creation. The planets created more of their species but had to deprive others of life to do so.
Creation and destruction. It was also the crux of the universe.
The death of one universe invariable gave rise to another.
Lan Jue had to acknowledge that, although the aliens were a threat to his species, their understanding of the natural way was profound. It had to be, otherwise they never would have reached the heights they enjoy today or have the power necessary to create a realm of their own. If they continued on
their path, who’s to say they wouldn’t eventually threaten the universe as a whole?
Lan Jue and Zhou Qianlin exchanged a wordless glance. Their hearts as one and their aim identical, a pair of lights sprang up around them.
Behind Lan Jue appeared his dharmic image, the Middle Heaven Emperor of the North Pole Star of Purple Subtlety. The Queen of Heaven, Guanyin, towered over Qianlin. As their dharma manifested, both of their auras surged.
The light of the Queen of Heaven was marvelous, almost crystalline. Qianlin was a vision of benevolence and protection. Lan Jue’s presence, meanwhile, adopted an imperatorial air with a promise of bloody judgement.
Direct confrontation of protogenia was the best way to resolve this conflict with the enemy.
The Emperor of the North Star was commander of the cosmos, back when the immortal realm existed. He held authority over life and death, simultaneously creator and destroyer, whose knowledge of the correlation between the two
was complete. Lan Jue’s knowledge, by comparison, was superficial at best. Yet still he had access to a depth of understanding far beyond what the aliens had accrued.
The Queen of Heaven was a power of pure deliverance, perfectly selfless and rooted in virtue.
As the two powers mingled the connection between life and death faded into the background. What was important in this moment was their relationship to each other. Their affections had survived numerous trials and transcended all, leaving only their love. Qianlin had been willing to sacrifice herself to destruction in order to save Lan Jue, who in turn would give up his life for her.
In this integral moment the only thing in their hearts was each other. Against the backdrop of creation and annihilation their love bloomed.
Suddenly the light of their swords flared. Both Paragons merged into the images of their dharma. The Emperor of the North Star took Guanyin’s hand in his own, and the two stood side by side. The kingly image of the former god was different now than it had been upon Lan Jue’s breakthrough. At that time he had channeled the primordial spirit of the Emperor, rife
with disdain. Brimming with power and contempt, it scared the Monarch’s avatar enough to force its retreat.
This time the image looked more like Lan Jue. His influence was not settled, and the light of the cosmos did not live in his eyes as it did for the Emperor of the North Star. Instead the image of the beautiful woman beside him was reflected in their depths.
Dual beams of red and blue burst forth. Hand in hand, Lan Jue stood with Captus gripped in his right fist. Demortus was nestled in Qianlin’s right. As the two of them lifted their godblades, their light combined. They were separate only in appearance, for their spirits were one as the Harmonious Swords were released in a resplendent rainbow beam of light.
Lan Jue’s Boundless Starlight Domain and Qianlin’s Queen of Heaven abilities combined. An unprecedented sensation swelled through both of them, washing away any barriers that remained. Only the great affection they felt for one another was left.
Lan Jue’s face betrayed a contented smile, as did Qianlin’s. In fact it seemed as though they’d forgotten the presence of their mighty enemy. The multifaceted flair of the Harmonious
Swords erupted from them and fractured into a shower of light.
The poisonous light of the avatar continued to grow, roiling with the powers of life and death, creation and destruction. However, as the rainbow of colors shone upon it the inky darkness was dispelled like a mist before the morning sun.
The emulsion of energy from the couple continued to grow and spread across a huge area. Their Domains were channeled through the Banishing Blades to both empower and be empowered.
As reality continued to unravel around it, the alien general felt like it was trapped in a universe of suffering. Tens of thousands of shimmering bolts descended upon him. As they pierced the darkness things became strangely surreal for the avatar. The power derived from the home worlds he put so much faith in was revealed to be fragile in the face of the Harmonious Swords.
So fragile, in fact, that it seemed resistance was futile. The beast’s body proceeded to swell, proceeded to regain its true monstrous form. But even as the full might of its abilities surged through it, the dagger-like beams of color pierced its flesh only to burst out of the other side. All of a sudden it was a creature of
pure, shining light.
The feeling of of the inevitable overcame it. Monarch’s avatar slowly closed its eyes as pieces of the creature began to chip away. Panic set in and it thrashed, trying to find any way to evade the purifying light. No succor was found.
It didn’t make sense. By all that they knew these humans shouldn’t have been able to harm it. However the moment their Domain consumed it, the doppelganger was cut off from the others. When these glimmering lights came the connection it had to the home worlds was severed as well.
An eruption of blinding purple light burst from its chest, impossibly bright and alarming. It was as though something within it was fighting tooth and nail to get free.
It was revealed to be an orb, shimmering and translucent like a gem. It looked like a miniature version of the Monarch planet.
Rays of purple light blazed into the blackness of space just as Lan Jue and Qianlin dropped their swords. The purple orb hung suspended in nothingness, but was soon enveloped by an enigmatic power. It was something even the alien planets
couldn’t grasp, an energy that sealed the evil will of the crystal and cleansed its poisonous nature. A few moments later it was nothing more than a crystal of pure vital energy.
The kaleidoscope of light continued for a full minute until, little by little, it faded into darkness. When Lan Jue and Qianlin opened their eyes, their dharmic images were gone. It was only them, hand in hand, swords at the ready.
It was a little awkward that the other Paragons were standing nearby, gaping at them in abject confusion.
Lan Jue blinked at them, and with a little cough, asked, “What happened?”
Luo Xianni sounded incredulous. “You don’t know?”
He shook his head. “Last thing I remember is employing the Harmonious Swords against Monarch’s avatar. Then she and I slipped into some kind of meditation… it’s hard to describe. Everything after that is fuzzy. I suppose we killed it?” He asked, uncertain.
Luo Xianni nodded. “It looked like you really grasped the power of that technique. The Monarch’s doppelganger couldn’t flee. When you released that light the other two seemed to have felt it and escaped. They used the images of the three planets we saw to somehow ferry them away.”
Lan Jue looked around and discovered that the other Paragons had slain the remaining alien forces. Most of the progenitor’s corruption was already gone.
The Driver was almost fierce as he came upon Lan Jue. “What was that? When did the two of you get so strong?”
Lan Jue grinned ruefully. “If I told you I actually have no clue, would you believe me?”
The Driver just stared at him. But the truth was, Lan Jue and Qianlin really didn’t know how they’d managed to kill Monarch’s avatar.
Chapter 810: Mika’s Decision
Thinking back, Lan Jue could only recall the moment their Harmonious Swords technique combined with their Domains. It must have been under their combined might that the avatar fell.
Together Qianlin and Lan Jue were not inferior to Monarch’s doppelganger. However, they did not have the benefit of the home worlds’ support. In fact the monster had ample opportunity to flee, but his downfall came as a result of underestimating his foes. Specifically Lan Jue’s Boundless Starlight Domain.
When the human Domain overtook it, the power of Boundless Starlight cut it off from the rest of reality. Suddenly the avatar was lost in a world where the rules were stacked against it. Normal Domains would not have such control over it, but Lan Jue’s inheritance came from an ancient and powerful line. Although he was only capable of summoning the simplest of its powers, Boundless Starlight was nonetheless a legendary gift even in its own day. Even the highest caste of immortals would flinch at its presence. Lan Jue’s strength was not yet matured, but the Monarch’s avatar could not match up to even the lowest sort of immortal!
Hubris had made it want to kill Lan Jue and Qianlin in the
fastest and most direct fashion possible. Its own demise never seemed possible. Yet, when the power of transferal was cut off and the overwhelming might of the Harmonious Swords descended upon it, hubris proved its end. If it had avoided being absorbed by Lan Jue’s Domain it could have fled. Now, of course, it was too late.
The progenitor was slain, Monarch’s avatar eliminated. It was a grand day for the forces of humanity and a mighty blow to the strength of their enemy.
The rest of the alien forces had cleared out. They fled with the doppelgangers of Consort and Queen into the recesses of space. The Pharmacist, the Pauper and more gave chase while others like Luo Xianni and the Driver remained on the planet. They feared perhaps the expense in energy would do the two of them harm. However, it seemed their fears were unwarranted.
“It seems we can no longer look at you through old lenses!” Luo Xianni praised. She could see the difference in Lan Jue’s eyes. He was an equal.
Lan Jue took up Qianlin’s hand and smiled. “Let’s return to Zeus-1.”
Their victory was grand, but it wasn’t without cost. Satan had fallen and the effect on Mika was sure to be tragic. He had to look after her.
Heaven’s Light was retaken. Now only a single planet remained for them to liberate, and with all the Paragons together it would not be a problem to achieve.
When they got back to Zeus-1, Xiuxiu had taken over as pilot. Mika was to one side of the cockpit in a daze. A long, thin sword lay atop her lap. The spindly weapon radiated a dark light that gave it a sinister charm. It was her father’s weapon, Archfiend.
Lan Jue hurried to where she sat and knelt before her.
She lifted her head and managed a thin smile. Her eyes were red but no tears fell.
“Boss, I’m sorry. I think I have to go.”
Lan Jue paused. “Mika, you…”
She cut him off. “The Dark Citadel was his life’s work. He forged it with his blood and sweat. Now that he’s gone I want to keep his memory by maintaining what he strove so hard to create. If we survive, I want to reestablish the Dark Citadel and continue his legacy. I’m sorry, boss.”
For a time Lan Jue was silent. From the start both of them had intended to keep her as far from the Dark Citadel as possible. Not all of those with the demonic bloodline could control their monstrous nature as well as Satan had. Even the fallen Paragon had to go through a period of madness before he found his path.
Mika was strong, but it would be some time before she became a Paragon. More than a few of Satan’s remaining lieutenants were more developed than she. Would they listen to her? Would they follow her lead under these circumstances?
More than any of those concerns, however, Lan Jue didn’t want to see her succumb to the darkness of her bloodline. He didn’t want her to lose her humanity.
Mika sensed his reticence. Her voice was soft. “Boss, it’s fine. I
will always remember what you told me, and I won’t lose my way no matter what. I’ll follow the righteous path, and under my guidance the darkness will not turn to chaos. I’m sorry, I have to do this.”
Lan Jue understood the position she found herself in. He sighed deeply. “Mika, I will support any decision you make. I will be at your back forever to give help whenever it’s needed. I’ll help you track down the survivors.”
But Mika shook her head, denying his help. “No, I need to do it myself. It’s a task only I can accomplish. What he did, I must do.”
She said it with a steely resolve. She had always been a child of demons, but repressed it because of her life in service to Zeus’ Jewelry Shop. Satan’s death was a catalyst, allowing her to let her true self flourish. Ever since that encounter with her father things had changed, she was no longer the same person.
She supported Archfiend with her hands and lifted it off of her lap, turning her vision to the porthole and its view of space. There was a flicker and crimson light slowly filled her eyes.
Lan Jue patted her shoulder. “You got this.”
The Pontiff was not far away, sighing with subdued emotion. Satan had a fine daughter! Making decisions like these with such clarity in the face of disaster was no easy thing. What of himself, he thought?
For better or worse the Dark Citadel’s core power had remained intact. Could the same be said for the Pontiff’s Citadel? He wasn’t alone, but only the highest echelons of his organization were left. He couldn’t know the state of things back on Europa.
The final outlying planet was abnormally easy to free from alien control. In fact, they couldn’t even find a progenitor. By the time they arrived the only sign it had been there was a deep hole and receding fungus. Evidently the aliens were no longer interested in sparring with the humans over these territories. Not a single alien remained, only mutated humans were left to wander the desolate planes.
Their missions were a success. In the fastest time they could
muster these planets were returned to human control. Resources had already begun the trek over. Most was from other Western planets that had escaped the scourge, so they would arrive soon.
At this time it wasn’t the three admirals who were busiest. In fact it was Luo Xianni, Lan Jue and Qianlin. The Queen of Heaven Domain and its fabulous abilities were needed all throughout the system. It was the first time since the ancient days that a power like hers was revealed, and soon Guanyin’s purity was known far and wide.
When her image appeared in the skies, saving the souls of the unfortunate, her prestige soared. Even just seeing pictures or video excited the masses and filled them with hope. Humanity had its savior. It was great fortune for so many to live after alien domination.
The Western government had passed out of existence. For now, temporary control of the administrative planets was passed to the allied military forces. As control was enforced and people returned to health, the heart of the people began to settle.
The survivors in particular were quiet with their demands.
Weathering this awful catastrophe was enough. Coinciding with their deliverance was a change of faith. They had seen their goddess descend from heaven and save them from a tortured existence. Guanyin, the Queen of Heaven – words that shone like the sun in the hearts of Westerners. Through her they had been granted new life, and Qianlin could feel their faith spanning across the solar system.
It took three whole days and nights for them to cure everyone.
However, through this process they encountered trouble. In the process of healing the afflicted and clearing the alien toxins, Qianlin’s Domain continued to improve. As faith in her powers increased with each life saved her abilities were amplified. Lan Jue similarly benefited from her augmentation, and it was this constant amplification that allowed them to accomplish the task so quickly.
However, just as advancing too slow was a problem, so was growing too fast!
Lan Jue and Qianlin exploded in power as they ascended to Paragon. With their powers combined and through the strength of the Harmonious Swords they could already slay a Nirvana- level foe. But with speed invariably came instability.
Lan Jue’s situation was somewhat better, after all he had been forced to recultivate all the way back to the peak of ninth level. The process had made his foundation remarkably solid. For Qianlin the circumstances were different. Much of her growth had been with Lan Jue’s assistance, and that had steadied her powers.
Now she was possessed of tremendous energy, empowered by the faith of those she’d saved. In only a matter of days both she and Lan Jue were pressing against the barrier to Nirvana. And this after shedding as much impure energy as she could manage.