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Chapter 629: Not Even the Same Level

    Chapter 629: Not Even the Same Level

    An intense discomfort washed over everything as reality was torn apart and put back together. Thankfully, it lasted only a moment. The bizarre sensation passed and the universe returned to normal. Zeus-1 was quietly settled on the surface of a small planet, like it'd been there the whole time.

    Lan Jue scowled, fighting to dispel the affliction. As though in response, a cool and refreshing energy spread out from his chest like being submerged in spring water.

    The Paragons seemed fine, but Zeus' five Amazons each reacted differently to the teleportation. Lin Guoguo seemed to have fared best, while the others were in various states of discomfort.

    The oppressive power that had enveloped them was now gone. Their slice of the cosmos was still and quiet.

    Lan Jue heaved a sigh. The s-ranked gem consumed to perform the teleportation was well worth it. It'd gotten them out of an extremely dangerous situation.

    But he didn't know how his father was. Anxiety began to gnaw at him. Neither he nor his brother had ever seen the full extent of their father's strength, because he had had no cause to. They could only guess by the residual energies they sensed. Now, just as it was when they were kids, no one could compare to the invincible Jue Di.

    "Relax, he'll be fine. That creature isn't strong enough to defeat your father. Even if it was, he knows when to run." Luo Xianni gently patted his shoulder and spoke in a calm voice.

    Lan Jue turned his head to look her way. Although she spoke with confidence, he could see his own anxiety reflected in her eyes. Now was not the time to be discouraging, though. Besides she was right, his father would be fine.

    The others of their party were in better spirits, especially the Wine Master. They'd gained much in their short excursion. They'd learned a lot about the hostile planets, and managed to flee in the face of an alien horde. Many were put down in the process, adding to the growing number of vital crystals in Star Division's possession. Cash couldn't buy the treasures they'd reaped.

    "Jewelry Master, should we return to the East when Jue Di returnes?" The Wine master asked.

    The young commander nodded. "That's what I'm thinking. We've already managed to get a lot, it's imperative we bring back what we learn. We still don't know what these planets are capable of, but we've learned much about the aliens and their types. We also know they fear our Disciplines - they are invulnerable. On the other hand we've discovered another one of their leaders, who is at least as strong as Jue Di. Stronger than the Violet Princess. In the future it will be this 'royal' family we'll need to be most wary of."

    The Wine Master nodded slowly, as though thinking deeply. He'd seen Jue Di's power with his own eyes, ending a host of foes with a single punch. If the one they found was of similar status to Jue Di, it meant it was just as strong. That was more frightening than he cared to think about.

    A creature that strong was far beyond what humanity's weapons could contend with. Whether they infiltrated the population or attacked head on, the aliens could do tremendous damage. That kind of destruction could split a planet.

    The Accountant had  by now recovered from the discomfort of teleportation. He had been the busiest of them all, constantly collecting and analyzing the data that crossed his screen. He was about to return to work when his eyes caught something on screen. "There's a wave of energy coming at us from the planet's location."

    When the Accountant delivered his report, everyone's face changed. They were still within the Shattered Starfields, but far from where the three primary planets had once been. Feeling residual energy from this far away could only mean an incredibly powerful event!

    Even the stoic Luo Xianni reacted. This power must have come from Jue Di - or maybe, the alien.

    Lan Jue looked at her again. "Ma. Father, he..." The question he wanted to ask was obvious. Was this from Jue Di, so far from where they left him?

    She shook her head. "I don't know, either. It may not be just his. Whatever the case, he'll definitely be coming back."

    He heaved a sigh. Luo Xianni's affirmations were thick were her own hopes, and weren't necessarily coming from a place of clear thought. Right now, though, they had no choice but to hope what she said was as true as she made it sound.

    Everyone's mood was gloomy. Jue Di was the strongest human ever! He was their trump card, their final line of defense against these terrible creatures. If he fell during a simple scouting mission the results would be catastrophic. No one wanted to imagine that scenario.

    There was nothing they could do but wait - wait for their hero to return. Lan Jue was commander of the excursion, and as such his most important job was to command. However he couldn't keep his hands from clenching into fists quivering with frustration. If he was by himself, he'd rush in at the first sign of distress from Jue Di. He would live or die by his father's side. But he had others to consider. He'd come with students, soldiers and companions that he was responsible for. His wishes and desires didn't override that responsibility. So, all he could do was wait, and not for long. If his father didn't show up in a reasonable time frame, they'd have to leave without him. The data they'd acquired had to get back as soon as possible.

    Despite his anxiety, though, he did believe in his dad. He was a hero, and heroes squeak by danger to save the day. It was faith - faith in the best of humanity.

    After a little while, people were beginning to get impatient.

    Just then there was a flash of golden light, and the ship's bridge had an extra passenger. Jue Di.

    "Dad!' Joy filled Lan Jue's relieved call.

    Outwardly his father looked fine, no different than he had when they left but for a dark look in his eye. He was thinking about something. He nodded toward his son. "Let's go, time to head back." He said nothing further, returning to his cabin.

    Lan Jue looked at Su Xiaosu and nodded. She wasted no time, and Zeus-1 was in the air a moment later. They were headed for the border of the Shattered Starfields at top speed.

    Lan Jue turned to look for Luo Xianni, but only caught her back as she hurried after Jue Di. Lan Jue hesitated, but in the end didn't follow. If his father had something he wanted to tell him, he'd do so. If he didn't, he had his reasons.

    **

    "What is it?" Luo Xianni followed Jue Di back to their cabin. Her voice was low and secretive. Out of everyone in their scouting party she had been the most anxious for his return. She knew the truth.

    Jue Di shook his head. "I couldn't do it. I was right, that creature is as strong as I am. If I could get its vial crystal then it could help. But he isn't the strongest. Just when we were beginning our fight a burst of energy came from the planet. It was even stronger than he was. I had to flee."

    "Stronger than you?" Luo Xianni asked, aghast.

    Jue Di stared at her. "Not even the same level. That's why I haven't told them, it won't help anything now."

    The Photographer didn't know how to respond. Not on the same level, what did that mean when Jue Di was stronger than anyone? The only thing she could imagine was the immortals of old.

    Jue Di went on. "But that doesn't mean I came back empty handed. I learned a little from this self-styled 'Violet Prince.' I suspect they emulate humans because it benefits their evolution. The human body is the most highly evolved organism in the known universe thus far. That's why they want to learn about us. Our mannerisms, knowledge, faith... they want to know it all. They chose us as a target not just for food, but because their future depends on it. Our DNA is the key."

    Luo Xianni's brows furrowed. "It looks like this fight is inevitable, and we'll need to fight tooth and nail." She was a Paragon who had reached Nirvana, and the destructive capabilities she commanded were staggering. For a creature stronger even than Jue Di to appear before them, what human invention could contend with that?

    "This will need further thought," Jue Di mused. "The more we learn, the better we'll be able to fight them. Not to mention a fair bit of a luck."

    The return trip went smoothly. Aliens crossed their path, but it wasn't difficult to evade them, or hide with the help of Lin Guoguo's psychic pulses. They didn't risk a fight. Eventually they made their way out of hostile territory, and back into human controlled space.

    Lan Jue's first order of business was to establish contact and deliver the data they recovered. As expected, what they learned was invaluable. He shared it with An Lun first. They had better communication equipment than Zeus-1. And Lan Jue trusted his brother implicitly.

    "You're back?" Lan Qing's face appeared on their screens. His face was calm, but there was relief in his eyes. The most frightening thing about these aliens was the amount they didn't know. He was worried because he didn't know what to expect. If they were in contact, at least it meant they'd escaped the Starfields.
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