Chapter 516: Gathering of the Monarchs

    Chapter 516: Gathering of the Monarchs

    "So what is this, a fashion show?" Lan Jue looked pointedly at their matching outfits.

    Chu Cheng chuckled lazily. "Nah, great minds think alike is all, I shouldn't have to tell you that. Or maybe I should - it looks like you aren't part of our unspoken psychic connection."

    He did happen to own a similar blazer. His was part of a dark blue suit.

    "Let's go!" He curtly waved them into the Avenue. An Liu stepped aside to let them pass.

    He led them to his own Zeus' Jewelry Shop first. As they traversed the Avenue, Lan Jue turned to his brother. "Why didn't you guys tell me earlier? I'd have gone to meet you."

    "Wasn't worth the trouble," Hua Li answered. "Didn't you just get back?"

    Lan Jue shook his head. "Thi isn't any trouble."

    They arrived before the Sapphire entrance of the Jewelry Shop. He pushed open the door, and they found all four of his Amazons inside waiting. They rose to their feet as the Monarchs entered.

    It wasn't a very large store. Eight people started to make it feel stuffy.

    This didn't go over Lan Jue's head. "This place is starting to feel a little small," he ruminated," there's no way to make it bigger, though. Let's head inside."

    They traversed the store, and entered Lan Jue's quarters located behind the service counter. Xiuxiu brought in some seats, and with the sofa it was enough to accommodate everyone.

    Lan Qing took a seat, and then turned his attention to Lan Jue. "How's father?"

    "Well his face looks the same, but his character sure has changed," Lan Jue replied.

    Lan Qing's eyes dimmed as his thoughts turned dark. "I've been so busy. I should go see him, too."

    Chu Cheng, his tones regretful, chimed in. "Are the things you're responsible for handled?" It was a fair question. Humanity was about to be embroiled in a war, and Lan Qing was one of the foremost commanders in the East. He was personally responsible for a whole planet, An Lun. How could he leave with all this going on?

    His presence on Skyfire was only possible because the Avenue requested his presence from the Eastern military. He was given special permission to leave his post, otherwise this would have been impossible. Once this business with the Clairvoyant was done, he would have to return right away.

    When Lan Qing didn't answer, his younger brother spoke up instead, "Dad's got cabin fever. I heard him say it a few times while I was there. He may not be on Ziluo anymore. Can't know unless you go there, I guess."

    A hard light glinted in Lan Qing's eyes. "I suspect the arrival of these aliens and father's sudden wanderlust aren't a coincidence."

    Jue Di was the single strongest human living today. If he were to show up in the fight against these invaders, then the benefits were self-evident.

    A smirk touched Lan Jue's lips. "My hope is that he comes to Skyfire Avenue. But at least for the time being, that probably isn't going to happen."

    Chu Cheng thrust his head toward Skyfire Museum. "How's the Clairvoyant? When is he supposed to break his hermitage?"

    Lan Jue turned to Chu Cheng. "Soon, within the next couple days." His mood soured when reminded of the Clairvoyant.

    "Every human life has its conclusion." Hua Li's soft, sage-like words joined the conversation. "Don't be too sad, it's the natural way."

    Lan Jue swung his eyes to Hua Li. "This reminds me. You guys at Poseidon are damn slick. Got a nice haul of Tears, I hear."

    Hua Li gave a demur smirk. "That has nothing to do with me. Mo Xiao deals with all of that - I don't do much on the business end.

    "Tears... are you guys talking about those useless 'S'-ranked trinkets from Lyr?" Chu Cheng gave them both curious looks.

    Lan Jue darted him a look down his nose. "Your head for economics... The Poseidon Group knows what they're up to. Not a moment's hesitation when they sensed opportunity. What I mean by that, is those useless gems are going to become one of the most precious commodities in the universe very soon. It cost them a pretty penny to buy up what they did, but the potential returns I can't even imagine."

    Lan Qing's low voice added to his brother's explanation. "The Group also knows how to get what it wants. Their purchase was originally blocked, but they leveraged the help they'd given Taihua to push the purchase through. A one-time deal."

    "Wait wait wait... hold on. How is it all you guys know this and I don't? What the hell is going on with these Tears all of a sudden?" Chu Cheng swung his eyes from one face to another.

    Lan Jue explained. "Here's the deal..." He went on to fill him in on the animulae, and how the Tears fit in.

    Chu Cheng's eyes got progressively bigger until Lan Jue finished. "So you're telling me... that we've discovered a way to stay young. Forever."

    "Forever? Unlikely, but at least extend your life and delay old age," Lan Jue said. "These animulae follow the law of conservation of energy just like everything else. This is a transfer of energy from one state to another."

    Chu Cheng took a deep breath. Then, he fixed Lan Jue with a solemn look. "Does the Avenue need any more people?"

    "Sure," Lan Jue said. "We always want people. Not swine, though. People."

    Chu Cheng's face lit up at Lan Jue's first words. Soon, though, that face was less bright and more constipated. He vomited a string of curse words.

    Hua Li, meanwhile, was guffawing loudly. "Well said!"

    "Well said my ass!" Chu Cheng challenged. "Life is precious, and love is worth even more. Not that any of you lonely sad saps over here would have any idea what I'm talking about. Sooner or later society is gunna weed you bastards out, mark my words. Now speak, is all of this even possible?" His last question was put to Lan Qing.

    The super-soldier nodded slightly. "Preliminary experiments have already concluded, but the next step will need more research. We aren't the only ones working on this. The North and West have their own programs looking into it."

    Chu Cheng whistled appreciatively. "So that means we're gunna live longer than anyone before, and still look good while doin it! Haha!"

    Lan Qing just stared at him with a flat expression. "The best way to stay young forever, is to stop wasting your energy chasing women and cultivate instead. Once you hit Paragon, your body will stay the same until the day you die. I would also highly advise all of you to decline exuviation until after you've broken through. So far, we aren't sure if this process has an effect on an Adept's potency. The Bookworm might have been a special case. He was trapped at peak rank for many years, and the exuviation process helped him to shed the blocks of his old body. For others, if they have the possibility of breaking through naturally, then that should be their priority. It might end up posing as an impediment."

    "So you think it has the potential to stop us from advancing," Lan Jue asked.

    His brother nodded. "I'm not certain, but the evidence has shown that the possibility is significant. Outside energies are outside. No matter how well purified it is, there's a chance your body will reject some of it. Until you break through to Paragon, it will of course affect everything. Still, the best way to keep your youth will always be working to become a Paragon. When you are immersed in understanding of the universe, your life will naturally be extended."

    Lan Jue nodded. He definitely agreed with his older brother's thinking. His foundation was much stronger than it had been, and since re-cultivating his ultimate breakthrough to Paragon was certain. It wouldn't be long.

    Hua Li looked back at him, his eyes full of meaning. "After taking the Championship, the Avenue's status in the universe has grown. It may not be a good thing, ultimately, but at least it's an opportunity."

    Lan Jue's face fell. He look to his brother.

    Lan Qing sat ramrod straight, immovable as a mountain. "The desert wants the rain; the maid seeks to get married. What will be, will be. We will resist what we can."

    Lan Jue smiled. In this moment, he was glad to have an older brother.

    Hua Li nodded slowly. "Just prepare as early as you can. A-Jue, you've got a lot swirling around you lately. Be cautious."

    Chuckling, Lan Jue spoke up. "I was hoping just be an observer, but that won't be the case. The Avenue is making a mecha Division, and the Wine Master's put me in charge. It's given me a headache. They're all Adepts, and the Avenue has always been a loose organization. Commanding a group like this won't be easy."

    Chu Cheng and Hua Li were both visibly survived by the news. Only Lan Qing's face remained impassive, like he already knew.

    Hua Li eventually recovered and nodded. "That's definitely a problem. What are you gunna do about it?"

    Lan Jue answered. "The best I can. I'll figure it out when training starts. I need to know where they're at."

    Lan Qing was encouraging. "It won't be as difficult as you think. At the very least you're all fighting for the same thing, and have similar goals. What you need to do is you make sure you're all on the same page, then divide and conquer."

    "Divide and conquer?" He looked at his older brother, eager for advice. He'd brought it up so he could get Lan Qing's thoughts. It would have been a waste otherwise.

    Lan Qing nodded. "An Adepts greatest strength is their individual fighting ability, which is much higher than an average soldier. The Avenue won't be sparing any expense for these machines. These men and women won't find army training suitable. Fighting as a cohesive unit takes time and training, and it won't allow them to employ their full strength. Adepts are too different to work effectively together that way. I suggest you separate them into small groups, and watch how they progress then. Have them separate when the fight starts, and stay away from the main battlefield."

    "I have the same thinking," Lan Jue replied. "The front won't be suitable. That'll be up to your army. We'll be backup, and support."

    Lan Qing went on. "You can use the pirates as a proof of concept. Hit them hard then retreat, protecting yourselves by disengaging. In this way, if the war goes south you'll be poised to give aid."
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