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Chapter 557: Envy Lovers, Not Immortals

    Chapter 557: Envy Lovers, Not Immortals

    "Alright," Lan Jue said helplessly, "you've sufficiently dashed my hopes. I know I'll never get that strong."

    The Voice of Jun Yongye chuckled. "Actually, it's not entirely out of the question. You have the benefit of Captus and the thunder essence. If you reach the strength of your father, then there would be a chance at becoming an immortal. We could find a planet that is young and full of its primary qi to seek the empyrean lightning. These days the world of immortals has passed. If you were to reach the status of immortal, I'm not sure what would happen to you. At the very least your life will be extended by around three thousand years."

    "Three... three thousand years?" Lan Jue's internal voice was thick with disbelief. No wonder people in the old days were so desperate to become immortals. Three thousand years put the exuvium process to shame!

    "What about Qianlin? Could she reach that level?" Lan Jue hurriedly asked.

    "For her, I fear it is impossible," Jun Yongye replied. "Only you took on the properties of the thunder essence. You need need to find another treasure housing the spirit of an immortal if you want her to succeed. Or, you can try to have her reincarnated - but I strongly advise against that. The dangers are too great."

    Lan Jue sighed. "Yeah. If that's the case then I won't try it either."

    "Why? You'd be willing to give up life as a god?" Jun Yongye would be well pleased if Lan Jue lived for so long. The Banishing Blades could have only a single master at a time. Having chosen Lan Jue, he would do everything he could to help his new master improve. The longer Lan Jue lived, the longer Yongye's consciousness would persist.

    Lan Jue smiled. "Haven't you heard the phrase, 'Envy lovers, not Immortals.' What would be the point of living for so long without the woman I love by my side? Life would be long, but wasteful."

    Jun Yongye was quiet for a moment. "Then you must strive to find another artifact like the thunder essence."

    Lan Jue was a little surprised. "The Banishing Blades are the strongest weapons that ever existed. You don't have immortal qi as part of you?"

    "Ha ha ha!" Jun Yongye burst into a string of guffaws. Lan Jue found it uncomfortable to be on the other side of mocking laughter.

    When Jun Yongye regained his composure, he explained. "Of course not, not even heavenly qi. Our power is derived from time immemorable. Even the greatest Buddhist immortals discovered us and were afraid. If the Banishing Blades are gathered and their power revealed, any immortal nearby would be eradicated. So you tell me, would we bear such an essence?"

    "Got it, you're amazing!" Lan Jue said in resignation. He couldn't think of anything else to say.

    As he sat there, lost in thought, the Star Division was in disarray. The dramatic scene from moments before was still fresh in their minds. It was dead? So quickly? The four brigade leaders furiously chattered among themselves. They were all Adepts of considerable power. That monstrous beast had blot out the sky, its power surging like tidal waves across the land. And then, it was chopped up like a brisket.

    If it had been the Gourmet, then the beast probably would have been taken care of even quicker, but it wasn't the Gourmet! It was their commander, who had just come back from three days of retreat. Did it mean the Star Division's commanding officer had broken through to Paragon?

    That was the only explanation any of the Division's leadership could come up with. In fact any Adept who knew Lan Jue even superficially had the same thought.

    If he did break through, then how many Paragons did the Avenue have, now? That wasn't even considering the Division itself. A second Paragon at their back meant there were practically assured victory in whatever they chose to do.

    There was a subsect of soldiers who weren't in the know. For them, the question always persisted as to why Lan Jue was their commander, and not the Infernal Vanguard. Their questions were laid to rest after their commander's display. After what they saw, even the Gourmet may not be able a match for the Jewelry Master. With someone so strong at the helm, they were a force that would shake the faith of all their enemies!

    Su Xiaosu, the Driver, the Bartender, and the Coffee Master each shared furtive looks, sharing their unspoken confusion. They sat across from Lan Jue who seemed lost in thought. No one dared speak and disturb him.

    The Driver was particularly struck by what he'd seen. He and Lan Jue were old friends, drinking buddies. They'd cultivated together while searching the properties of their yin-yang Thunderbolt Disciplines. After blowing up a hotel room they didn't cultivate together any more, but his Talent had still improved.

    The Driver always knew Lan Jue was stronger than he was. He was blessed with an almost unnatural streak of luck, too. This, though, was more than just a rank or two different! He must be cheating!

    ζ

    Once Majesty and Zeus-1 left with the soldiers, Tempest had grown quiet. Their riches were already worthy of song, so there wasn't much on Tempest to keep them there. As their mission progressed, the likelihood of coming back to this distant planet was practically zero.

    Lan Jue stood before the bridge's expansive windows, smiling softly. He turned his head toward Su Xiaosu. "What's our next objective?"

    "The Red Widows," she answered. "They're one of the top ten pirate clan in the Shattered Starfields. After a month the soldiers are all working well together, it's time for them to face a stronger opponent. It'll stimulate their growth."

    "Alright." He didn't press for any more information about the Red Widows. He trusted Xiaosu.

    Normally, as commander of the Star Division, he personally managed all matters no matter big or small. However, after his meditations things were different. First of all, Xiaosu's command and responsibility was no less than his own by this point. In the future Lan Jue would need to put more of his energy into cultivation, and he wouldn't have the mental or physical energy to deal with the multitude of problems that come with running an army. So, without making it widely known, Lan Jue went about expanding the responsibilities of his subordinates.

    Once their destination was confirmed, Lan Jue returned to his quarters and returned to meditating. For the last few days he'd felt ill at ease, especially when he came out of his hermitage. Ever since the joining, he and Qianlin have been unable to separate.

    Ever since accepting Demortuis, Qianlin had fallen into a strange state, almost like hibernation or meditation after deep understanding. He had to wait for her to snap out of it before they could separate. But could he wait? There was no other option.

    Because they were still joined, Lan Jue was unable to tell how much his own Talent had grown. He was in no hurry for Paragon and wished to wait for Qianlin, so the bulk of his cultivation was spent trying to grasp the secrets of the thunder essence, controlling Captus, and stabilizing his own Discipline.

    Jun Yongye applauded this period of relative peace. Joining with the Banishing Blade was only the initial step. If he wanted to become the sword's true master, than they had to be in complete harmony - completely symbiotic. To get there would take time and patience.

    Two days later, Star Division was closing on their next target.

    The Red Widows were different than the clans they'd faced before, in part because their base wasn't a planet, or even several planets. Strong though they were by comparison, they still didn't even come close to threatening the Moonfiend Pirates.

    In fact their base was on a sizeable asteroid, which itself had captured three smaller space rocks in its orbit. The quad-asteroid set-up endowed them with natural barriers to protect themselves, and the bases on each of the smaller rocks were capable of mounting a tenacious defense. At the first sign of danger the smaller bases would react, sending in whatever reinforcements they needed. Most of the clan's might was focused on their outlying bases because the planetoid had its own defense system that even extended to protect the asteroids.

    According to Xiaosu's information, the Red Widows had two battleships, more than twenty patrol ships, and a well-equipped mecha division. They were also equipped with a planetary defense system which allowed them to bring a good slice of the Starfields under their control. That's how they earned their top ten spot on the pirate list.

    The Red Widow Pirate Clan didn't have a very long history, maybe only fifteen years. In fact, the vast majority of pirate clans didn't have much of a history to speak of. They rose and fell faster than the ancient dynasties.

    The Red Widows had caught Su Xiaosu's eye back when she had been the Moonfiend Empress, but she had been careful to not act rashly. It would have been very costly to deal with them, so she opted to permit their existence.

    That was, until now. The Star Division needed a target.

    Majesty and Zeus-1 stopped a few thousand kilometers from one of the clan's asteroids. With the Blinding Stones equipped, they were indistinguishable from the black expanse of space.

    When Lan Jue entered the war room, his commanders were all gathered. Everyone agreed on the plan of action. It was time to press the attack. Lan Jue was settled in the captain's chair with Su Xiaosu at his side. The whole plan was hers, after all, it only made sense for her to lead the charge.
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