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Chapter 565: Turning a Planet into a Photograph?

    Chapter 565: Turning a Planet into a Photograph?

    Su Xiaosu's eyebrows drew together. "We have to take the main planet as quickly as we can, to avoid casualties. I know that personally. Most of the clan's power will be concentrated there as well. If we can take them out than the battle is half won. Our main problems right now are the battleships docked on the other planets, and the planetary defense system. Assuming we take the main planet without any problems, they'll have their fleet heading out way before we can respond. We'll have a hard time fighting them off. The two satellite planets and their defenses will cancel out whatever benefit we get from the main planet."

    The Drive nodded at her determinations. "I don't recommend breaking up. We're already a small outfit. If we separate it gives the enemy a greater chance at routing our people. It's dangerous."

    Su Xiaosu replied. "I'm also worried about this. Without soldiers, the damage we can do is limited. When I established the defenses we did it in layers. The first line is attack, and the second is defense. If they don't outright destroy the enemy it at least slows them down. We're going to encounter resistance from without and within. We'll need time to get our troops going. We must find a way to keep their battleship's from launching. Majesty and Zeus-1 will be fine, but those on the ground won't have anywhere to retreat to."

    The Bartender was next to share his views. "So what you're saying is we need a way to keep the other two planets pinned down while we deal with the main one. Once we have control of it we can use the planetary defenses to protect ourselves from counter-attack."

    "Not only that, remember that the pirate clans of the other planets aren't so well organized," Xiaosu said. "Their first instinct will be to scatter, not engage. They aren't soldiers, so a quick and hard attack will shake morale. We just need to hit the main planet hard and hold on to it. We'll keep Majesty on patrol. The pirates wouldn't dare throw themselves on their swords for the Pontiff's Citadel.

    "The Bartender is right. We focus on the main planet and use it to fend off the others. Especially with Majesty's speed and weapon systems, taking one planet shouldn't be that hard. But, I haven't thought up an answer to the satellites yet. Zeus-1 will be too busy ferrying troops, and doesn't hit hard enough at any rate."

    Lan Jue listened with thoughtful expression. "How about I go in with Alpha Squad? With the Gourmet that should be enough." The three of them - Lan Jue, the Pharmacist, and the Gourmet - had enough destructive power between them to handle the planet's defenses. The Gourmet was a Paragon, while Lan Jue and the Pharmacist were nearly there themselves. They didn't shy from direct confrontation.

    "I've thought about that," Xiaosu revealed. "Troop strength is considerable on the main planet. We also have to assume the Pontiff has one of his people here to watch over things. Strong as we are I'm afraid we could get caught up in a lengthy fight. This is their turf, if we get pinned down we'll be surrounded and overrun in no time. If we start sustaining casualties it may be too fast to control - then we bite the dust. All this needs more thought. It doesn't work yet. I think we should hit nearby target and search for an opportunity. If one doesn't reveal itself, we retreat. Safety has to be the priority."

    "It's just one piddly little planet, isn't it? What's the problem, just leave it to me." This time it was a lazy, somewhat irritated voice that answered. The newly awakened Luo Xianni appeared from wherever she'd been hiding, and plopped down onto a nearby chair.

    "Ma, you..." Lan Jue looked at her questioningly.

    "What?" She snapped. "Am I not part of your little Star Division, hm? Have I been flying around in this miserable tub with you for no reason? Your mother needs a little exercise too, you know. Have to move these old bones. Just point out the one you need me to deal with."

    Lan Jue meekly pressed her further. "What do you plan to do?" He realized his step mother was a little off the rails. He saw things differently than normal people. He had to consider everyone's safety before giving her free reign. Strong as she was, a slight problem could become an unmitigated disaster.

    Her response was tepid. "Turn it to a photo, what of it? Let them suffer for a while then let them go."

    "Y-... the whole planet?" Lan Jue's jaw nearly struck the floor. Even his voice cracked.

    Su Xiaosu was too stunned to speak. The cigar perched between the Driver's lips tumbled to the ground. The Coffee Master was shaken that coffee in his hand spilled all over his white shirt. The Bartender fared better, only choking on his own saliva. He launched in to a fit of coughing.

    The Gourmet's face twitched. The Pharmacist wasn't present. She left the decision-making to the others, and was content to just execute the plans.

    "Ma, are you sure that's even something humans are capable of?" Lan Jue forced himself to find the words for his question.

    Luo Xianni's aggravation was still clear in her voice. "Smelly runt, are you saying your mother isn't human, ey?! How could you call yourself my son? If that reprobate you call a father were here he could turn all three of those planets into space dust by himself. You think we got where we are by only taking the easy pickings? What are a few planets, they don't mean anything. You've got three hours to take control of the main planet. Leave one of the others to me. Just remember that heaven demands morality. Don't kill for no reason, there are bound to be workers and families that don't deserve to die. I'll help keep them boxed up, but I won't participate in a massacre."

    Paragons - especially Paragons as strong as she was - rarely showed their strength. They especially loathed taking life for no good reason. At their levels of power, their bodies and souls were steeped in the true nature of the universe. If they killed negligently protogenia would take revenge on their own bodies.

    Jue Di was a good example. In his youth he took a great many lives. Ever since he'd lived in seclusion, trying to cleanse his soul.

    Lan Jue swallowed as he thought on it. The Driver couldn't help but insert himself in the conversation. "Aunt... no, can I also call you mom? I swear fealty."

    Luo Xianni rolled her eyes. "Not just anyone can call themselves my son. You're too much of a ruffian for me. Right, you children go on and plan the rest then. I'm going back to sleep. Call me when we're ready to get started."

    She stood up and sashayed out of the room before anyone could reply.

    The Driver turned to the Gourmet. "What a woman, amiright? You're a Paragon, why can't you blow up a planet?"

    "I..." The Gourmet felt like he'd been punched in the gut, but couldn't think of a comeback. Be it strength, cultivation, or potency, he couldn't hold a candle to the Photographer. Even as a Paragon himself, he could hardly believe she was capable of doing what she said she could.

    He was excited to see her do it! A whole planet, for three whole hours.

    Lan Jue stood and turned to Su Xiaosu. "Keep working on the plan. I'm going to rest."

    "I'll rest as well," the Gourmet added.

    The Coffee Master looked up from frowning pitifully at his soiled shirt. "Rest of what?" 1

    ζ

    Lan Jue returned to his cabin and sat cross-legged atop the bed. He focused his attention inward and attempted to summon the sword-spirit. "Yongye."

    "Hm?" Jun Yongye's voice filled his mind. Lan Jue's body was suddenly surrounded by a pale red light.

    After their joining, Captus' power had settled into a deep slumber. Only when he called upon it did the Banishing Blade flare to life. It was the same for the soul of the weapon. Jun Yongye spent his days cultivating, still and silent unless Lan Jue was in danger.

    Just as Lan Jue was not strong enough to command Captus' full strength, neither was Jun Yongye able to call it all at once. He had to improve as much as Lan Jue did, so that the two together could master the godly weapon. They complemented one another.

    Lan Jue told him about what the Photographer had said.

    "Is that possible? Can an interdimensional Adept really seal an entire planet away from reality?" Lan Jue asked. He was still surprised by the mere idea of it. He was scared of Luo Xianni before, but if what she said was true it totally changed the way he looked at Adepts and protogenia.

    Jun Yongye muttered. "If she says it, then it must be true. I don't know what she's capable of. There are no limits to what humanity is capable of. If one day you are able to draw upon fifty percent of the sword's power, you too would be capable of laying waste to a planet. But where we destroy, she can seal. This is gentler. I sense that she uses something else, some special strategy that she uses in tandem with her Domain. It looks like a complete seal, but there's some trickery involved. To truly seal away a planet for long periods, one needed to be as powerful as the Immortals of old."

    Lan Jue's response was resigned. "Let's stop using the immortals as comparisons. They no longer exist. Well, it looks like I'll need to keep working hard. Qianlin is still in a coma. Who knows when she'll awaken."

    Two months had passed and there was no change in Qianlin's condition. He felt her life force, but consciousness still eluded her.

    1. TJSS made a play on words. Lan Jue says he wants to  - basically, relax. However, in China it is common practice to double a person's last name as a term of endearment. In fact I knew a woman named . We never called her  because it's usually reserved for people younger than you. So after hearing Lan Jue say '' - I want to relax - the Coffee master misconstrues it as 'I miss Jingjing.' So he says 'who is Jingjing?' Sort of like 'Who's on first?' Obviously this doesn't work in English, so I wrote up a joke that was just as bad.
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