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Chapter 581: Total Control

    Chapter 581: Total Control

    The secondary planets were planets in their own right, though not as large as Moonfiend. Still, they needed to maintain a stable relationship with their star the same as any other planet, lest they run into a whole host of problems.

    The Moonfiend Pirates had reached their end. Already Second Brigade was divvying up their spoils from the palace. Su Xiaosu turned her head toward Lan Jue. "Boss, are we leaving when the operation is over?"

    He nodded. "We'll be done here. We've caused quite a dent in the pirate population, and I'm not looking for a genocide. News of what we've done here will get out. They don't know where we came from, but eventually the West and North may react. When we've finished our mission, we'll return to Skyfire Avenue. The troops need time to rest and recuperate."

    "Alright."

    The thunder of the cannons slowed. The third shot from the railgun turned the ground around the palace into a sea of fire. Just as a third of the city collapsed around the palace, the pirates' morale crumbled. They fled, as far and as fast from the murderous palace as they could go.

    Their first instincts were to head for the airfields. There they could board ships and make an escape. News of their destruction had never reached them, though. They were fleeing right into the arms of the enemy.

    "First and Second Brigades, leave small units each to keep control of the palace. The rest, go out and clean up the remaining pirate forces." Lan Jue gave the order through his communicator. It was time to take the fight to them.

    Star Division soldiers set out to make sure the pirates couldn't mount a quick recovery. Lan Jue wanted this place cleansed. It was inevitable that pirates would return, but any clan looking to dominate the planets would need time and resources.

    Finishing the pirates off wasn't as easy or quick as their initial attack. They had to hunt them down first, which they did with the help of airships.

    Meanwhile, Lan Jue ordered Zeus-1 to return. Their riches from the raid would be stored on the nimble ship. About the only thing that improved after the Moonfiend Empress' removal were their coffers.

    Xiaosu counted it as three times what it was before she'd left. Densely packed riches won from Moonfiend's enemies. Ever since the Pontiff's Citadel had taken over, their path of destruction had been even more thorough than the Star Division's.

    Why would so many pirates agree to subjugation? Simply put, the Moonfiend Pirates gave them no choice. They relied on superior resources and firepower to eliminate all the clans around them. It was join, or die.

    The Pontiff's Citadel would be loath to give up these resources. They'd come to rely on the riches from the Starfields. They wanted to build it up as a subordinate state, so much that they expended tremendous effort to develop it. The railgun was proof of their commitment.

    Lan Jue wasn't greedy. Although the big planetary defense railguns were powerful weapons of war, taking all of them would be impossible. There were enemies waiting on the other planets with their defensive measures at full strength. They would have to be happy with what they got from Moonfiend.

    Star Division's commander wasn't much interested in the railguns, but they would fetch a good price. The East could probably use them in the construction of a Bastion ship. The soldiers left behind found themselves recruited as temporary porters. Boxes upon boxes of resources from Moonfiend were loaded up and stored in Zeus-1.

    In times like these, having a master of interspatial Discipline was of great benefit. The Photographer had provided Lan Jue with something she called the Hungry Bangle. As she described it, there was enough space to fit the Wine Master's whole Reaper Arena inside. IF it weren't for this gift, it would take an armada to fly their winnings home.

    However even with the Hungry Bangle, Zeus-1 couldn't take it all. Luckily, they'd also spared a couple battleships that could take the spillover.

    The Citadel's victims were directed onto Zeus-1. They'd been there when the Citadel dragged Su Xiaosu into the dungeons, and watched what how she was punished. They'd also seen her daring rescue. Now she was back with the savior to free them, so they gave her and her people no trouble.

    These poor, tortured souls had been promising youths to survive this long. The fantascia genetica was heartless and deadly, but it'd made them strong. Others weren't so lucky.

    Those that survived were injected with medicines that sealed this power. Before they were brainwashed into service, they were dangerous if left unchecked. Once they got back to the Avenue, it shouldn't take their doctors long to flush it out of their systems.

    Gabriel could only watch in silence as Lan Jue gave his commands. All of their efforts, the result of their own hearts blood, were being undone with every word. He felt numb. A lot of the news going on outside was unknown to the angel, but it was clear Zeus had brought an army. A strong army, otherwise they couldn't have pulled any of this off.

    Was this an arm of the Avenue, flexing to show its strength? He remained lost in silent thought, contemplating how wrong they were in assuming invulnerability. The moment he realized it was burned bright in his memory; he'd lost faith when he saw Lan Jue destroy Redbeard with a single strike.

    There was no chance, not even the ghost of a chance. Putting up a fight would be suicide. All he could do was shut his mouth and open his ears. Hopefully someone would let something slip that he could bring back to the Pontiff.

    Gabriel shuddered to think of the Pontiff's rage when he discovered what happened here. It would be meaningless, because no amount of rage would change what happened today. They would have to suffer this tremendous blow to the Citadel in silence.

    It wasn't like they could petition the Western government for help. Wrangling these pirates had been the Pontiff's pet project. What benefit would the West have in getting themselves mixed up in this?

    They had been thoroughly knocked down from their perch. As far as Gabriel could see, the Citadel would serve as the Avenue's punching bag for a long time to come.

    The Dark Citadel and the Conclave had similar misgivings. Losing the Epochrion was unforgivable to the North. Even if she chose not to lift a hand against them, losing a Paragon was a disaster. The Conclave could rely on nobody but the Terminator now.

    By contrast, the Avenue was lousy with powerful Adepts. This one who was a constant thorn in their side was as strong as Metatron, or the fallen angel Lucifer. He might even be stronger. After all, Metatron and Lucifer had been striving for years to break through to Paragon. But the power he'd felt from Lan Jue was closer to the protogenic realm than what he'd felt from either of the two Westerners.

    Even if Lan Jue wasn't a Paragon now, it was assured he would become one in the future. Gabriel knew that after seeing the tournament. The East was smaller and poorer than the other Alliances, but the Avenue was a force to be reckoned with. With these Adepts at their back and aliens at the gates, who would dare say the East wasn't a rising force?

    Gabriel's mind was in chaos. His greatest worry was his own safety. It was only a year since they ambushed Lan Jue not far from here, and in a year he'd become a nightmare to the Citadel. No wonder he could defeat Michael, even then.

    Lan Jue had no what idea what the Archangel was thinking about. The Star Division commander just sat nearby, and waited. A short while later another familiar face joined them in the room. The Infernal Vanguard, the Gourmet!

    This is definitely a display of force by the Avenue! They're even sending Paragons!

    A poisonous jealousy wormed through Gabriel's chest. The Avenue had so many Paragons they could just send them out thoughtlessly on excursions like these. The Pontiff's Citadel? They had the Pontiff, still reeling from the chaos instigated by Lan Jue.

    Skyfire Avenue would never have to face that problem. How many Paragons did they have now?

    The Gourmet was not here to end lives, something he'd expressed to Lan Jue before. So, he would assume command of the palace. With a Paragon here, even a host of battleships wouldn't take this place back.

    Gabriel felt thoroughly hopeless. He shut his eyes, trying to shut out the world.

    Eventually day broke, revealing a gorgeous morning. Light from the Starfields' distant star illuminated and warmed the planet. However, the golden light only fell upon destruction. Two hours later, most of the city was stripped bare. Trenches were the railgun had made landfall smoldered, black and angry. The radioative wasteland was frightening to look upon.

    Star Division's work wasn't over. With the help of the battleships, they continued to sweep the planet and remove all traces of pirates. Majesty did not participate. Instead it remained in orbit and watched for any sign of action from the two other planets. Anyone who tried to get off the planet was quickly silenced by the Division battleship.

    The Gourmet pulled out several small cakes from his personal interdimensional storage device that he'd made himself. Each one was about the size of a hand, and golden-brown. Even cold they had a faint, pleasing aroma.
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