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Chapter 578: One Swipe

    Chapter 578: One Swipe

    Lan Jue didn't move, even as the four Adepts charged at him. They were abnormally fast, like four bolts of lightning. Each one of them bore a dark red dagger in their palms, which glinted in the light as they surrounded the Monarch. He had nowhere to go.

    "Assassins are the absolute worst," Lan Jue sneered. A moment later the four attackers were flailing wildly through the air like sacks of grain. Golden electricity crackled across their bodies, causing them to jerk and shudder violently before being reduced to ash.

    Redbeard, a few steps behind, stopped dead in his tracks. He was amazed by what he'd just seen. He was no slouch in his Discipline - ninth level fifth rank! The men he'd brought here strong, too. Two were over ninth level, and the rest were no less than eighth. They were his closest people.

    Those four were quadruplets, very rarely seen. Each of them shared the same expertise in speed and a Discipline involving daggers. The four of them against a ninth-level Adept should have been easy pickings.

    Redbeard couldn't feel any hint of Discipline from Lan Jue, and yet he'd witnessed his people incinerated. With a wave of his hand, four powerful Adepts saw their defenses overcome and their lives snuffed out, effortlessly. He'd never seen anything like it.

    No wonder... no wonder Gabriel wasn't fighting! Now Redbeard understood. He staggered back a few steps until he stood beside the Archangel.

    "Master Gabriel..." Redbeard offered uncertainly.

    He got no response from the sour-faced Messenger of Death. Hesitation had him frozen. He had almost joined in when the four other Adepts surrounding Lan Jue. However, the flood of power he'd felt made him stop. It felt like a Paragon's.

    Could Lan Jue have broken through?

    Gabriel shook his head like a dog shedding water. He was seeing this clearly, but that made the situation even more frightening.

    Redbeard's communicator began to ring. Everyone's eyes went to him

    "Boss! Boss, we can't hold them back. The enemy's come out of nowhere. They're too strong and too many. Their mechas -" The voice cut out after an ear-piercing screech.

    The Moonfiend Pirate's new boss felt his breathing quicken. He snapped his head to Gabriel. "Master Gabriel, you have to make a decision. If we don't take control of this room our people outside can't get in to back us up!"

    Gabriel took a deep breath. It was the moment of truth. It was time for him to make a decision.

    Under Lan Jue's hard gaze, Gabriel took a step to the side, and hung his head.

    The Star Division commander smiled. "A wise man submits to the tides of fate. No wonder they call you the Messenger of Death." This was precisely why Lan Jue sent the Driver off to deal with the railgun while he remained here.

    Their enemies were many, and this place was the heart of their organization. The Driver's personality favored confrontation. With him here the potential for problems rose. As important as this place was to their mission, he chose to remain behind and handle things personally.

    He'd elected to speak with Gabriel at length, in the hopes that he could avoid having to face every pirate. The control center was large, but not large enough for him to take on the whole clan. What Redbeard and Gabriel didn't consider was how desperate Lan Jue was not for these controls to get destroyed.

    Redbeard was right, this place was the only location where you could control planetary defenses. With them engaged, the pirates from outside couldn't get involved and Star Division had all the time in the world. But if the controls were broken, things became a lot more uncertain. For instance, no one knew how the defense system would react without a central control to direct it. Because of this, he had to protect the controls as much as control them.

    Gabriel's promise not to interfere made dealing with the other pirates much easier.

    Redbeard recognized his precarious position right away. He roared like a beast, and his body began to swell. His already impressive beard lengthened, while his muscles bulged. Even before Redbeard's battle cry ebbed, he'd become a three-meter tall behemoth. A Wildman.

    No... a lion?

    His Discipline was metamorphosis. He channeled the spirit of the lion, one of the strongest transformations for shifters. The remaining Adepts around him also flared their Disciplines threateningly.

    Redbeard didn't know what agreement Gabriel and Lan Jue had come to, but he could see that the Archangel wasn't going to join in the fight. He had to fall back on his own capabilities, but they weren't enough! This new enemy was after the Moonfiend Pirate clan. As the current leader of the clan, he knew that meant him.

    In this circumstance he hadn't any choice but to call on every ounce of his power. To mount a comeback, this man needed to die and this control room had to come back under their control. He fell back on his last resort, a final effort to win.

    Mei's words returned to memory. She'd told him that Redbeard had a secret escape tunnel, but it wasn't here. Thinking back on her piteous cries, Lan Jue couldn't help but feel a surge of murderous rage. Punishing these men was righteous work!

    Lan Jue hardly reacted. His right hand waved halfheartedly. Instantly, the whole room was filled with red light. Whatever strange power he'd called had an intense vacuum-force that tugged at everyone.

    Gabriel wasn't in the light, but was greatly frightened by what he saw. He threw himself away as far as he could get. His holy shields blazed as he poured his whole Discipline into them.

    Poof! The gentle sound was that of several pirates being reduced to dust. Several of the faster ones managed to summon their own shields. All the others were killed outright. Redbeard roared as he struggled forward. His temper flared out of control.

    How could this be? Redbeard was at a complete lost. He was a shifter! His Discipline was strongest when he focused all of it into his transformation. Yet, beneath that red light even breathing was a struggle.

    A sword had appeared in Lan Jue's hand. The dim crimson light surrounding it was strange to behold. Finally he moved, rising to his feet and taking a single step forward. The sword swept out in an arc, and from it came a flood of power more intense than a tsunami.

    The flush of deadly power cleansed everything in its path. That which Lan Jue deemed unworthy was swept from reality. Redbeard, and all of his strongest allies, were gone. Nothing remained to prove they ever existed.

    The greatest failings of these pirates was in their taste for war - or lack thereof. Ever since the start their foes had been hesitant. None of them fought with resolve, desperate to escape. In a single, effortless swipe of his sword Lan Jue put an end to their evil ways. Outwardly they could not know, however, that it was far from effortless. That one swing had consumed perhaps thirty percent of Lan Jue's energy.

    Captus! A thousand strikes as one!

    Gabriel watched it all. Even from a safe distance his body shook uncontrollably. A single swipe! He... he really has become a Paragon!

    He was wrong, of course. Lan Jue still had a long path to walk before he became a Paragon. However, he wasn't entirely wrong. Lan Jue was peak-ranked with Qianlin. Adding the power of the sword, first degree Paragons would have a hard time besting him.

    A number of pirates watched from outside because the room had limited space. After seeing their leadership slain, however, they didn't dare enter. They were stupefied after watching the red light erase their mighty leader - all at the hands of this young nobody. It was entirely outside of the realm of comprehension.

    No one knew who started it, but suddenly the pirates started to scream and run every which way. None of them were particularly keen in joining Redbeard's fate.

    However, unbeknownst to them their fates were sealed. Lan Jue's face bore a faint smile.

    The fighting still raged, and his Division would need more time to get things under control. Further, the surviving pirates were beginning to come to their senses. Lan Jue guessed they had begun to break into groups and converge on the palace. It was likely the last order Redbeard had given before his death.

    However, none of that was important now. The enemy air fields were destroyed and they had control over their fortress. The preliminary steps of their plan were complete. Now they had to wait for news from outer space.

    So long as they could keep the other planets and their reinforcements tied up, this victory was assured. Already, he was sure, the smarter pirates were planning their escape.

    Gabriel appeared absent-minded. When he eventually emerged from his haze, he wandered over to a chair and quietly took a seat.

    Lan Jue continued on like the Archangel didn't exist. He pulled up his communicator. "Redbeard's been dealt with. Xiaosu, how are things on your end?"

    Su Xiaosu's voice returned. "The rescue's complete. We have complete control over the Moonfiend Palace. The enemy was routed after the initial strike!" She sounded somewhat conflicted with her last words.

    Was this organization so weak when it was under her control? They were like sheep to the slaughter.

    Xiaosu's report made Gabriel quake. In order to retain any semblance of dignity, he sat listlessly in that chair. A rescue operation? Who were they rescuing?

    Nevermind Gabriel, none of the leadership in the Pontiff's Citadel expected this to happen. They thought the Starfields would be a safe place to put their captured experiments. However, Lan Jue had shown up and ruined all their plans.
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