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Chapter 604: I’ll be the Scout!

    Chapter 604: I'll be the Scout!

    "You'll go? Go do what?" The Wine Master asked.

    Lan Jue responded. "I'll be the scout! The Driver's right, intelligence is incredibly important especially now. Without it we're sitting ducks. I'll take Zeus-1 - it's small, fast, and can cloak. It'll be perfectly safe."

    "Unacceptable!" The Wine Master quickly answered. "You cannot go. Star Division needs your leadership and guidance. Do you even know your status among your soldiers? If something happens to you, how are we supposed to fulfill the Clairvoyant's prophecy?"

    A smile touched Lan Jue's lips. "Don't be so worried. The Clairvoyant picked me because it's what he saw in his visions - because I would help humanity weather this crisis. If that man's prophecies were as strong as they all assume we are, then I won't be dying any time soon. There's danger, no doubt, but between the asteroid belts and the Blinding Stone, I can escape without much trouble."

    The Wine Master's eyebrows screwed together. "It's still too dangerous. This is not your responsibility."

    Lan Jue adopted an angry countenance. "You can't say that. I may not be military but these aliens are everybody's problem. I am capable, why can't I flex a little?"

    The old paragon hesitated. "Let me think about it."

    "He's right." The Clockmaster added her voice to the discussion. "We need as much information as we can get. Normal scouting parties can't do the job so we need to take up the slack. Compared to normal soldiers we've been blessed with a myriad of advantages that can help us. Even a paragon can't survive a shot from a capital ship, but a strong, individual Adept can do more than a whole contingent of soldiers. Scouting is a job he can do, and I'll go with him."

    She fixed Lan Jue with her eyes as she spoke the final words.

    Lan Jue paused, surprised by her sudden offer of services. As far as he knew, the Clockmaker had hardly left her shop since returning to the Avenue. This was a wild departure from normal. With her along, their chance of success increased significantly, that was undisputed. She had the power to control time, and was a powerful Paragon in her own right. Her presence would be of untold value.

    "You're going?" The Wine Master looked at the Clockmaker in shock.

    She nodded. "There's no reason for me to just stand around here. I'm back and I want to help."

    The Wine Master was silent. After a few moment he lifted his head and looked at the Clockmaker. "Then I'll go as well."

    The Driver and Lan Jue each looked at the Wine Master with strange looks. This guy, he cared more about his girl than he did his friends!

    The Clockmaker paused, and her face reddened ever so slightly. "If you leave then who will take care of things around here?"

    He waved away her concerns. "I can deliver major policy decisions from anywhere. The Gourmet will be staying back to cultivate, so I'll speak with him about it. Anyway, once Lan Jue takes Star Division to An Lun there will be very little here to pay attention to at all. I hardly ever leave, and if we're going to talk about using our powers, why can't I?"

    Lan Jue sighed. "I used to think you had some self-respect. I guess I was wrong."

    The Wine Master glared at him. "You scoundrel! We are going in order to keep you safe. Between us we control both time and space, you can ask for better company."

    "Who's a scoundrel?" Lan Jue countered disdainfully. "My mother will certainly be coming with me to An Lun. Between you who do you think has more control over time, huh? Your presence makes no difference."

    "You..." The Wine Master was speechless, and of course he would be. What could he say? Everything he knew he learned from the Photographer. With Lan Jue's mother going with him, there really was no reason for the Wine Master to tag along. He understood now why Lan Jue was so set on scouting as well. The Photographer's abilities were among the strongest in history. If they couldn't kill what came their way, they could flee. It was no different than having Jue Di in your backseat.

    The Clockmaker looked to the embarrassed Wine Master sitting beside her. "I'm going to start getting ready. Call me when it's time to leave." She punctuated the sentence with a nod to the two younger gentlemen, then she left.

    The Wine Master rose sharply to his feet and sent her off. The Driver noticed and spoke softly to Lan Jue beside him. "Why'd you screw with him like that? It's hard for an old tree to spread new roots, and just as he was about to flower you go and make trouble."

    Lan Jue laughed. "How am I making trouble? Don't you think he was coming on a little strong? I was trying to tell him to back off. If he doesn't he's gunna miss his chance."

    "Horse**! You little bastard, you come in here and drink my wine and then attack me! Have you got any conscience at all?" The Paragon was clearly furious.

    Lan Jue sat back and spoke as though delivering some profound thought. "You should be thanking me. I'm trying to give you a chance to get close to the Clockmaker!"

    "We already are, who the hell needs you?" He blurted out.

    "Oh." Lan Jue and the Driver shared the expression as they were informed. The Wine Master's voice was dangerously calm, but still red from the shame and anger. "Now get. The. Hell. Out! NOW!" The sharp clap of his hands punctuated the words. He glowered at them in resentment.

    The Driver and Lan Jue stood. "We're going. We won't cause any more trouble. We'll find somewhere else to practice."

    Practice had strengthened their level of control. So long as they restrained the amount of energy, at least they wouldn't blow the place up.

    After he saw them leave, the Wine Master couldn't help but chuckle. In truth, ever since the Clockmaker's return he'd been in high spirits. Perhaps it was time for a little trip. There was an opportunity to meet the legendary Jue Di, after all. His aunt - so strong and haughty - fell head over heels for the man. He wanted to know what he was like.

    ζ

    Jin Tao's eyes slowly opened as he roused from deep meditation. He sensed that hi Discipline was somehow different, but he couldn't pinpoint precisely what it was.

    He scratched his head then clambered to his feet.

    There were many of the Star Division left here now. The remainder were being looked after by the Skyfire Avenue security force. When they saw him awaken, they waved him over and led him away.

    Jin Tao looked back to glance at Tang Xiao, who was still meditating. He saw flashing of golden light around his rival that took him by surprise. He looked like one of those fat happy Buddhas, complete with a small smile and everything. He didn't move - he didn't even seem to be breathing.

    Jin Tao wasn't the 'dumb mutt' he used to be. He knew more about the world of Adepts than he had before. Did this mean his rival had found a suitable type of protogenia? Jin Tao couldn't help but feel a little envious. The two of them were both personal disciples of Lan Jue, and he had shared with them many specifics about the world of protogenia.

    Jin Tao knew that finding the right protogenia was important. If you did, it meant ninth level was within reach. It was the first step on their Path to Paragon.

    Results like this were part of why it was so beneficial to find an Adept breaking through to Paragon. It was a rare opportunity only a few Adepts ever got to experience. Insights gained from circumstances like this had a chance to tremendously boost an Adept's abilities. It was like trying to compile a computer program from scratch. You could work for three days and three nights and still get nowhere, but a single sentence from someone in the know could make it all clear.

    Jin Tao admitted that he'd learned something from the new Paragon. However, compared to Tang Xiao it seemed his insights were less. It was unfortunate, but that just meant he had to work harder!

    Ever since meeting Lan Jue, Jin Tao had tread a path he thought he'd never see. Every day he was stronger, and that gave him inspiration.

    He thought back to a year ago, when he was a trouble maker with no sense of societal responsibility. Now he was an eighth level warrior, reputable by normal standards. No one called him trash any more.

    Lan Jue's words swam up through his memory, the requirements he'd shared the day Jin Tao swore fealty. He would became a soldier, and be a man of use and character! This had always been his deepest desire. Now he was among brothers and sisters who strove every day for greatness, and it filled him with joy and pride. The past was long forgotten, there was only the future.

    His competition with Tang Xiao was also a motivating force. It irked him terribly that Tang Xiao was always in the lead, and he'd had to use the fantascia genetica decoction just to close the gap. But he was crazy and cowboyish, and that made him work harder than everybody else. 1. He was happiest when he was cultivating.

    When the others saw it, even Tang Xiao, they called him crazy. He wasn't normal.

    "What are you thinking about?" Suddenly, a hand clamped down on Jin Tao's shoulder.

    He was caught so much by surprise that he tripped, and went sailing through the air. He stayed there on all fours with eyes risen. He'd been careless to let someone get so close without him knowing.

    1. I would read a novel just about Jin Tao.
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