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Chapter 577: Crossing Paths

    Chapter 577: Crossing Paths

    Their mission was done. Most of the ships were in flames. The battleship that was spared Zeus-1's barrage sit in the middle of a burning ruin. Soon the ships beside it would explode. With the destruction that would cause, it would be days before the ship could fly. The air field's defenses were obliterated before they could be turned on.

    On Luna, at the Moonfiend Palace, the mission continued.

    The Driver and Lan Jue took over the main controls, then began passing orders to their troops. They still had a lot to do.

    Lan Jue rushed to the main controls, connecting to Majesty to help decrypt the pirate's systems. Su Xiaosu had given the Accountant a wealth of information on them, which made cracking in a breeze.

    "I'm in," the Accountant confirmed."

    They could hear explosions in the distance. Alarms were going off all across their monitors. This was the central control room for more than just the palace. It monitors the planet's defense systems and satellites, too. Once an alarm was tripped on an airfield, it showed up on their screens.

    A grin spread across Lan Jue's face. He shot the Driver a thumbs-up. The Driver responded with a nod to say he was ready.

    "Xiaosu, how's it going on your end?" Lan Jue spoke into his communicator.

    Su Xiaosu's voice returned. "We're in the tunnel, all set."

    "Good. When you're ready." Lan Jue then turned back to the main controls. "Majesty, engage the fortress' defenses."

    "Got it!" The Accountant was frugal with his words when needed. In fact he was less a man and more a robot. His eyes flashed erratically with strings of code, and a dim light hung over him.

    Moonfiend Palace.

    A deep, low rumble shuddered through the palace. The earth quaked and shook dust from the surrounding buildings. Outside, the walls that separated Luna from the palace began to rise from the ground. The whole structure was lifting into the air.

    Floodlights cracked as they sparked to life. They shone from the palace towers like a dozen eyes. Inside, metal walls shot up from the floor, compartmentalizing everything. A dim, reddish-orange membrane of light hung over the exterior.

    A few minutes later, Moonfiend Palace was clear of the ground. Alloy walls and energy shielding turned the quaint castle into a scaled-down Bastion ship. As if to prove the point, a massive gun emerged from the peak of the palace's tallest tower. Slowly it extended, ominously preparing to annihilate whatever it pointed at.

    Within the control center, Lan Jue turned to the Driver. "Head to the railgun, I'll take care of things on this end."

    The Driver was surprised. "I thought the plan was to defend this place. Where are you planning on going?"

    Lan Jue smirked. "I sense a presence; a presence of an old friend. I'll stay here, you go ahead. Don't delay."

    The Driver was wise enough to know this was not the time for nonsense. He didn't know why Lan Jue suddenly changed the plan, but he changed into a bolt of electricity and shot toward his new target.

    Star Division's objectives were straight-forward; take the Palace, and engage its defenses. First and Second Brigade were to flood the halls and deal with the pirates within. Once the Palace was under their control, they would use it to eradicate the remaining enemy forces. Moonfiend air fields lay in ruin. So long as the Star Division kept their cool, their chance at victory were good.

    Of course, this was easier said than done. There were a lot of moving parts that had to work in perfect harmony. If any of the pirate ships got off the ground, it would put a great deal of pressure on the Division's ground forces.

    Taking the palace was integral to their plans, but was not an easy target. The foes within were the best of the clan. Enemies would be strong, and numerous. The Clan' leadership was certain to be here. Taking it without losing a soldier would be tough.

    Meanwhile, Majesty was responsible for pinning down a whole planet. The Photographer had to erase one from reality for several hours. Every cog in their war machine had to do their job flawlessly. It was the only way their plan would succeed.

    As Lan Jue looked over the monitors, there was a flash of light in the control room. He was joined by another man. When Lan Jue saw who it was, he grinned.

    "My old friend, it's been a while." He smiled amicably to the newcomer.

    Gabriel's reaction to seeing Lan Jue was different. He was stunned, never having imagined he would show up here. The angel's heart sank.

    The sudden alarms had interrupted his cultivating. He'd felt an ominous wave pass through him, an inexplicable fear that spread through his whole body. It had been a long time since he'd felt anything like that. He couldn't imagine what would cause it.

    After his earlier correspondence with Redbeard, Gabriel later heard from the pirate that the main control room had come under assault. The fortress' defenses were under enemy command and they had to get them back. Gabriel, the Messenger of Death, rushed to the scene.

    The last person he expected to run in to was Zeus.

    Gabriel had been there with Michael and Raphael, right here on this planet, when the trap had been lain for Lan Jue. They had been dispatched here to kill him. The old adage rings true that every dog had its day, and fate had chosen now to bring these two old enemies together on a familiar battlefield. By why? Shouldn't Zeus have been on Skyfire Avenue? What was he doing all the way out here?

    Gabriel was very much aware of how terrifying the man before him could be. He'd seen it with his own eyes at the Great Adept Tournament. Honestly, the angel knew he was no match for the Monarch.

    A corona of holy light sprang up around Gabriel. His shields.

    "Why are you here?" Gabriel demanded.

    Lan Jue replied with a smirk. "Why are you here, Gabriel? Strange that we should meet here - us and the most righteous Pontiff's Citadel. My, if your followers ever found out it would be catastrophic."

    Anger flashes in Gabriel's cold eyes. "Did you come for me?"

    Lan Jue shook his head. "You think too highly of yourself. Certainly not special enough to have me drag myself all the way out here."

    The Archangel's eyes narrowed, but expertly stifled his anger. "Then why in the galaxy have you come?"

    Lan Jue tepidly explained. "I'm a bit of a confessed germophobe. If something's dirty, I have a compulsion to wipe it clean. The Moonfiend Pirates used to be clean, but they've since come under new management. Things have gotten murky."

    Understanding dawned on the Pontiff's man. "So it was your treacherous hand that's strangled all those pirate clans. You..."

    Lan Jue's stare hardened. "Treacherous hand? Eliminating evil is the work of good men, or is that not something they teach you in the Citadel? Perhaps I should show you what I'm talking about."

    Gabriel's heart was racing. His dark eyes were pinned to Lan Jue's. "Your goals are exactly the same as ours, just different methods. If Skyfire Avenue is here to stake a claim I'm sure something can be negotiated. Have you forgotten our shared enemy? Did you know that I had gotten several of the pirate clans to agree to join in the defense of humanity when those aliens arrive? But you've slaughtered them all. Was that Skyfire Avenue's intention?"

    This made the Monarch chuckle. "Are you afraid? Nothing you say means anything. All I know, is that you need to make sure you're running a tight ship if you want it to weather a storm. If we don't cut out the cancer of piracy now, they'll rise against us when the aliens arrive - right when we're at our most vulnerable. You're right - we share the same enemy. So if you behave yourself and stay right here, then I'll return you to the Citadel when we're finished."

    Gabriel was stunned. "You're that confident? You're standing on planet Moonfiend! It's called that for a reason. Do you have any idea how many pirates there are stationed here? My best guess is you've brought no more than three battleships!"

    Another chuckle shook Lan Jue. He turned away from Gabriel and tapped at the keyboard before him.

    Screens all throughout the control room flickered to life. Each one showed scenes of desolation and raging fires. Gabriel's time on Moonfiend was long, he knew he was looking at.

    Gabriel opened his mouth to speak when suddenly a group of men burst into the room. A telling flood of energy surrounded them. Their leader was a large man with a fiery red beard, who looked to be in a very bad mood.

    "Master Gabriel!" Redbeard was surprised by the angel's presence, but before he spoke further he noticed Lan Jue. The pirate leader's eyes narrowed, and in an instant his face changed. He saw the images of the screens, and like Gabriel knew right away what it meant. He'd only just gotten news of the attacks.

    "Grab him!" Redbeard charged at Lan Jue with four of his men.

    When the palace's defenses had suddenly engaged, Redbeard was shocked. He was used to these leisurely days now, the Moonfiend Pirates weren't near as vigilant as the Red Widows. After his communicator started to buzz and reports of attack came in did he come to his senses. He immediately gave the order to engage, informed Gabriel, and brought his strongest subordinates to the control room.
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