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Chapter 594: The Return of Zhou Qianlin

    Chapter 594: The Return of Zhou Qianlin

    The Driver gave a bitter laugh. "Those politicians will never compromise. I guarantee they're thinking just because the aliens have shown up in the Starfields, they may not show up in the East. They're probably hoping they'll show up in one of the other two Alliances and make it their problem. Why should we put our necks on the line if we aren't really in danger? How much would it cost? I can almost hear it from here. I'm telling you, those are going to be their excuses. They won't pay any attention to your proposal."

    The Gourmet nodded in agreement. "It's the way of the world. Similar conversations are being had in the West and North, as well. Even if they all know it's the right call, they won't be the ones to make it."

    Lan Jue answered. "We just have to continue to do everything we can. At the very least, Skyfire and An Lun appear to be safe. Most soldiers will be stationed on these planets. It's more important than ever that we make Star Division a powerful fighting force. You saw everything that happened, even railguns counted for nothing against those planets. While fighting her, I did notice that her species seem to be antithetical to Adepts. Put another way, our abilities seem particularly suited to harming them."

    "And yet to them we're practically ants," the Driver said with a fatalistic chuckle. "I

    t looked like she could swallow up our whole division with that giant mouth of hers."

    "You shouldn't underestimate your capabilities," the Gourmet assured. "We simply need to improve ourselves. I, for one, intent to shut myself away in meditation for a while."

    The Wine Master nodded. "We live in troubled times. Star Division has ever mounting pressure to grow, but I believe they'll rise to the occasion when they know what's on the line. Now you all must be tired. Go back and rest, if you have anything to discuss it can wait until tomorrow. I'll keep an eye on parliament and let you know if there's any news."

    "Alright," Lan Jue replied with a nod. He returned to his store with a heavy heart.

    The Wine Master watched him go with an expression of gratitude. He muttered to himself, "Clairvoyant, I can't deny you're good judge of character. You chose well, he's already set upon his path. Maybe you played with destiny, or maybe it was always supposed to be this way, but with him around I have hope."

    ζ

    Zeus' Jewelry Shop almost appeared deserted. When Lan Jue arrived, his four Amazons were busy tidying things up. Dust had managed to creep in during their extended absence.

    That was inaccurate. There were now five Amazons. Su Xiaosu was there as well. For Star Division business, she kept the wheels turning as general commander of the force, but here she was the fifth Amazon. When she got to work she looked just like the other women.

    "Boss!"

    When he got back the ladies straightened up and greeted him with a smile.

    He managed a smile after a moment. "You all have worked so hard lately, take a break. We'll deal with the cleaning later."

    Mika chuckled. "No problem, this is our home. You can't rest well in a dirty home. Isn't that right, Xiaosu."

    "Yeah," she replied with a nod.

    Lan Jue was pleased to see them all getting along. Their experiences in the Starfields had brought Su Xiaosu into the fold. The former Moonfiend Empress had shown herself to be more than skilled in the midst of battle, but she seemed just as comfortable here in the store. Lan Jue was the same, Zeus' Jewelry Shop was safe harbor. Just coming back helped settle some of the turmoil in his heart, but it also brought to the fore how bone tired he was.

    Suddenly, for no immediately apparent reason, Lan Jue felt a pulse of energy. As he watched, stunned, his body emitted an unfamiliar blue aura. The Amazons gaped at him and shied from the sharp waves of power radiating from him.

    Lan Jue paused, then his face lit up with joy. He turned away from the women and raced toward his apartments in the back. "Don't let anyone disturb me!" He said before disappearing into his room.

    Zeus' five Amazons looked at one another, confused. They had no idea what was going on.

    "Is boss about to break through again? I've sensed him getting more and more powerful. We have to work hard, too." Ke'er pumped her tiny fists.

    Lin Guoguo nodded firmly. "I need to meditate myself. IF we aren't strong, we won't be able to protect the boss. Ke'er, you haven't broken through to ninth level yet? Keep it up!"

    "Soon, soon," she assured, "should be any day. Ah, I'm the last one."

    Xiuxiu had also recently broken through, leaving the Baleful Tempest alone at the peak of eighth level. However, strictly in terms of Discipline the Morning Star beat them all. After her was Mika, and with her bloodline and battle experience, she wasn't any less of a nightmare on the battlefield than Xiaosu.

    Lin Guoguo, Xiuxiu, and Ke'er finished out the list.

    Ke'er hadn't reached ninth level yet, but her destructive capabilities were still overwhelming. She could release a punishing barrage in an instant. Once she broke through, her powers would make a dramatic leap in strength.

    Lan Jue burst into his apartments and slipped into a meditative posture. He focused on the flows of energy pulsing in his body. There was a pale white light, when suddenly a figure appeared. Zhou Qianlin.

    When he felt that ubiquitous aura of sharpness, he knew that Qianlin and Demortus had joined completely. Impatiently to see the results, he'd rushed back.

    He hadn't seen Qianlin in two months, and he missed her dearly. He tenderly covered her naked figure with a blanket before seeing if there was any change in her situation. She stood across from him, her big eyes staring blankly just as before. However, he could sense a change in her aura. A pale, almost translucent blue light hung over her skin and flickered. Her previously gentle waves of energy had become more robust.

    "Is the joining successful?" Lan Jue couldn't help but wonder aloud.

    A pair of blue lights glinted in Qianlin's eyes. A moment later, Xuanyuan Shishi's voice filled his ears. "It is complete. She was as accepting and resilient as a rough diamond. There was no resistance in accepting my power. You had to use the thunder essence to assist you in accepting Yongye, but no such help was needed for her. There is no one better suited to join with me. You must protect her. I have already seared my knowledge of the Ten Thousand Swords as One 1, but she will need your guidance. I have no power over her body, but I can tell you that she does appear to have recovered somewhat."

    "Thank you." Lan Jue looked dejected. He'd hoped that joining with Demortus would return Qianlin to consciousness. Now it appeared that was just wishful thinking.

    "Qianlin." Lan Jue softly called.

    The blue light faded away from them, revealing big clear eyes. No hint of emotion came from them, though her pupils contracted slightly at the mention of her name.

    Lan Jue sat beside her, and leaned her against his chest so he could take her into his arms. He didn't want to ever let go. In these last few months if he wasn't fighting, he was cultivating. But no matter how he kept himself busy, the pang of missing Qianlin never went away.

    To see her again after so long, Lan Jue was filled with delight. But where there was joy, there was also sadness. All he could do was hold her this way, and listen quietly to her heartbeat. It was enough for now.

    "You know Qianlin, I miss you. You need to wake up, I don't care about what's happened before. I will always love Hera - she taught me what love is. I love you the same. I'll admit at first I took you as a replacement. Her shadow. But I learned how wrong that was. I love you. Please wake up. Let's avenge Hera together, and hunt down the people that hurt her. It's too much for me alone. I need you beside me."

    He laid them both down on the bed. He didn't dare kiss her for fear that she would disappear and he wouldn't get to see her anymore. They laid like that, separated by a blanket, with his head resting against hers. He closed his eyes. At last a sense of quiet came over his troubled soul, and he knew that she would come to him when he needed her the most.

    His fingers gently ran through her hair. His eyes dimmed. Months in combat had drained Lan Jue to the point of exhaustion. At some point, despite his vigilance, Lan Jue fell asleep. Qianlin's eyes twitched, and then shut as well. The room was plunged into silence.

    ζ

    When Lan Jue awoke, his first sensation was the warmth against his chest. Warm, soft, and with a faint fragrance. It was then he noticed his body's natural response to the comfortable sensations.

    When he looked down to get a grasp on the situation, his eyes were met with a waterfall of black hair. Somehow, he'd gotten wrapped in the blanket with Qianlin. Their bodies were pressed close together.

    Lan Jue shuffled to try and extricate himself, but in his excited state maneuvering was difficult. He briefly pressed against her, but that was enough. The warm body dissolved into light and merged into his chest.

    "Goddamn do I hate Bize!" Lan Jue whined. It'd been difficult just to get the chance to see her, but even the specter of affection was forbidden. What could be more tortuous than this?

    Lan Jue lay atop the best, feeling his body surge to the peak of ninth rank. He didn't find it pleasing, this time. He still didn't know how strong their Disciplines were separately.

    1. His title, but also the name of the sword style
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