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Chapter 575: Underworld

    Chapter 575: Underworld

    Ten-man teams of mechas converged on the hangar, blowing apart anything in their path. The wholly unprepared ships were quickly dealt with. They also had plenty of explosives to get the job done. The Bartender and the Coffee Master had done their parts.

    It was all too fast, too furious. They didn't even have time to respond before their lives were snuffed out, mounting no measure of defense.

    The Gourmet was suspended in air, five hundred meters above the hangar below. It shed the darkness thanks to a host of flickering lamps. The Paragons face was calm as a lake surface. The hangar he was responsible for was the largest one.

    His communicator vibrated. It was a sign - his eyes narrowed, and he pressed his hands together in front of his chest.

    Waves of dull grey light gushed from the Gourmet, swallowing up the world around him. On a dark night like this, even pirates looking straight up wouldn't have noticed anything different. All of their detection equipment meant nothing when considering a Paragon.

    Far far away they heard the rumble. Moments later, the hangar descended into chaos.

    A tall pirate stumbled from his room, howling to his compatriots. "What the hell is that? Did two hangars just get attacked?"

    The pirate brought up his left arm and hurriedly dialed in a number. "Attention personnel of Devil Razor hangar. Attention personnel. Man your ships as fast as you can. Engage, find the enemy and engage!"

    Each of the hangars and their ships were placed under a single clan's command. This hangar belonged to the Devil Razors, who were famous for their speed and ferocity. Two battleships and a dozen patrol boats were under their command.

    The leader of the small armada was also the pirate chief. They called him Archdevil. He was a ninth level, first rank Adept with a wealth of combat experience and no moral compass. His masterful command was only matched by his poisoned reputation. Man, woman, young, or old - not a soul was left when he was dispatched.

    Pirates began to burst out of the dormitories. The battleships hummed as they prepared for lift-off. Archdevil then ran to his flagship. They didn't have a plan or anyone to save but themselves. A pirate's priority was always their own safety first.

    Startled at first, the pirate chief was calm and collected now. Two of the hangars had been attacked. He knew these clans and their leaders. His first instinct wasn't an outside foe, but internal conflict. After all, their planetary defenses were impenetrable! You'd need a lot of people to hit two hangars at once. How would you get them in unseen?

    The Moonfiend Pirates had been in control for a while, but not everyone walked to the beat of the same drum. The Moonfiend Pirates were an alliance of clans that shared a common interest. As big as they were, they couldn't compare to a hundred smaller clans working against it. That's why many of the clans joined, but weren't behind them one hundred percent. Without Redbeard's decision to dissolve his own clan into the Moonfiend Pirates, there'd be a lot more unrest and cessation.

    With these considerations in mind, Archdevil's snap judgement was that this was a purge - Redbeard clearing the deck of possible mutineers. He tried to get in touch with Luna for more information, but communications seemed to be down. They were in the dark.

    The silence made him all the more nervous. Archdevil quickly boarded his battleship, his mind racing. At least as commander of the small fleet he had a bargaining chip. Fleeing was not an option, however. The moment they rose to a certain height the planet's guns would be trained on them.

    Archdevil's mind raced, considering various strategies and consequences when suddenly he felt a crushing pressure bearing down on him. He was a ninth level Talent, with all the perception enhancements that came with it. He lifted his head and was surprised to find the stars hidden beneath an overcast sky. That was where the pressure was coming from. An indescribable fear crept into his heart as he watched the ominous heavens.

    What... what is that?

    He cast his eyes further, toward the horizon. Far away he could see the stars twinkling dimly against the night sky, but here they were absent. The airspace over the hangar was blanketed by some ineffable power.

    "The enemy is attacking!" He voice boomed across the field, empowered by his Discipline. In the same instant there was a flash as he summoned his mecha - a jet-black suit darker than a shadow.

    He made the right decision. Battleships were lumbering, they reacted slowly. Although he didn't know what this grey sky heralded, he knew it was beyond his scope to handle alone. In situations like this, you fled to fight another day. Mecha suits were more reliable for that then bulky battleships. Archdevil was confident his Discipline and the support of the suit would help him escape unscathed.

    There wasn't any time to worry about anything else. All he was interested in was staying alive.

    He almost didn't notice when the world around him changed. The lights illuminating the base brightened for no discernable reason. They glowed with an uncomfortable sanguine light.

    The brighter the red light became, the harder it became for the pirates to move. They struggled mightily, but it was like trying to swim through molasses. Everything felt immediately claustrophobic. Some felt it hard to breathe. Now, every eye was straining to peer at the sinister sky.

    The scene that greeted them was the strangest they would ever see. The air had become crimson, and orbs of dark red slowly descended from on high. They were dazzling, and shimmered with red light. Their interior was smoky and mysterious, like some mysterious power trying to disguise the light.

    IT all felt so strange, difficult for them to put into words. They watched enthralled and helpless as the orbs descended upon the hangar.

    The first orb silently fell upon one of the battleships. There was a saying that went, 'the heavens fall upon the highest point first.' This was proven true, as one of the pirate battleships became the first to enjoy the 'fun' these crimson bubbles bore.

    "Poof!" The intimidating bubble popped in a way that would delight any small child. As it did, the cloud of mist it bore spread out. From the ground pirates watched in horror as the mighty hull of their battleship was soundlessly eaten away. It was as though the aimless cloud had taken an enormous bite out of it.

    One after the other the bubbles fell. There were no explosions, or screams, or blasts. It was silent as the grave, and that made the scene all the more terrifying. The mist was as destructive as a magma flow. The pirates helplessly watched as they were devoured, piece by piece, by the slow-moving bubbles.

    The smart and lucky ones - like Archdevil - were in their mechas before the bubbles started falling. They fought against the clinging air to escape before they could become victims of the evil mist.

    The pirates in their battleships were the unlucky ones. They had nowhere to run. This was the Infernal Vanguard's Domain - the Underworld!

    The Gourmet remained suspended in air. The red light poured out of him. He paid no mind to the pirates who attempted to flee, and in fact looked at nothing. His eyes were cast calmly into the distance. At this level in his cultivation he could command protogenia, but he also had to obey it. It was just as Luo Xianni said, Paragons had rules. They couldn't kill carelessly if they wanted to hold on to their humanity. So he let the ones who were fast enough escape unmolested. His purpose was to destroy the hangar. That would be enough.

    Five minutes later, the skies were clear. There was no mist and no ominous red light. All that remained was a strangely jagged landscape. It looked like the hangar had been the victim of a meteor shower. All signs of ships buildings or people were gone - swallowed by the Underworld.

    The Gourmet grinned, then vanished. Stillness was all that remained.

    ζ

    The Pharmacist walked unhurriedly toward the metal door. It was locked, which was to be expected of an important pirate installation in the dead of night. Of the five hangars, this one was the smallest.

    "This is a restricted area. Please vacate immediately." A harsh electric voice called the warning. A red light snapped to life, illuminating the Pharmacist from above.
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