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Chapter 631: The Power of Star Division!

    Chapter 631: The Power of Star Division!

    Star Division had improved far beyond Lan Jue's expectations, be it strength, cooperation or discipline. When they were faced with the Bloodiron Khans, it broke into its individual cells to harass and surprise attack the enemy. In this way, they gnawed away at the Bloodiron Khans until they collapsed. If they tried to push the offensive, Star Division focused its strength to turn guerilla strikes into full-on raids.

    After experiencing the epiphanies of Lan Qing's breakthrough, Star Division had undergone another sharp rise in capability. No small number of troops used what they learned to smash through bottlenecks. The number of sixth level Talents was shrinking as they advanced to seventh and eighth. Their equipment only continued to improve, making them a nightmare to contend against.

    The strictly disciplined Bloodiron Khans grumbled and quietly nursed their grievances when the games were done. They requested better mechas after finding their own were insufficient. However, there wasn't anything Lan Qing could do to help them. How did Star Division earn their impressive gear? They took it themselves. Star Division was laden with riches, and was the most affluent military outfit in the East. A national organization with limited government funds couldn't compete. Star Division's mechas were custom tailored to suit their soldier's Disciplines. They were choked full of the best power gems available to enhance those Disciplines. It gave them a nearly insurmountable advantage.

    An Lun's soldiers weren't alone in their displeasure. Lan Qing was similarly perturbed by the results. He had personally commanded his troops during the second exercise, but the results were the same. There was nothing for it - the difference in equipment and individual ability was too great.

    Currently Star Division was so flush with ninth level Adepts that each squad was led by one. These exceptionally talented soldiers were also empowered by their mechas. Even though they weren't all god-ranked pilots, they were head and shoulders above any normal soldier. Lan Qing had to watch as his own soldiers were cast into disarray by Star Division.

    Lan Qing knew that if his solders were as strong individually as his brother's soldiers, under his command they would have more than a solid chance at victory. For now, however, the chances were simply too remote to entertain. He could have joined in himself and single-handedly turn the tide of battle - but what would be the point? Didn't Star Division have Paragons of its own? They just weren't present at the time.

    Lan Qing's final analysis of Star Division was that it was an incomparable Adept fighting force. He secretly admired Skyfire Avenue for taking the risk in its creation and training. Establishing a small army the likes of this took tremendous resources and iron determination! It was no easy feat.

    As it turned out, Skyfire Avenue had a singular vision. You couldn't describe Star Division as a normal mecha division by any stretch. Gathering all these adepts under one banner and giving them the full support of Skyfire Avenue resulted in the fastest creation of a major military installation ever.

    Aside from everything else, what normal person could boast being present for the breakthrough of two Paragons? Until recently the occurrences were rare and available only to a select few, and normal humans didn't benefit at all. By contrast Star Division was proud to find that many of their soldiers gained incredible insights from these experiences. The best of them acquired the most.

    Lan Jue was pushed on by the success of his brother. What he didn't know was that Lan Qing was inspired by adversity as well. Lan Qing yearned for the impossible so that he might overcome it. How else could he have achieved so much at such a young age? Talent alone wasn't enough. Strength of will and unwavering determination blazed the path.

    As Lan Jue listened to the Bartender and Coffee Master's exulted reports, a strange expression came across his face. An immense surge of pride filled him. So long as they continued on this path, his soldiers would grow in strength and ability. All he had to do was mention the wealth of crystals they'd recovered and morale would skyrocket. Now that it was confirmed their Disciplines were effective against the aliens, it also affirmed that Star Division would be an integral weapon against the invaders when the time came.

    "What about the ones we left back on Skyfire?" He asked.

    The Coffee Master replied. "They've all come around after their insights. That fat disciple of yours seems to have gained the most from it. I could even sense faint waves of protogenia coming from him. It really chaps my ass! Even being by your side for so long, I still can't even see the realm of protogenia on the horizon."

    Lan Jue scowled at him. "Enough nonsense, you seem happy enough with where you are not to work hard. You think your potential is somehow inferior to anyone else's? 'Fastest Hands Under Heaven'?"

    The Bartender sounded curious as he joined in. "What you're saying isn't entirely accurate. These days potential isn't enough. Without grueling work you don't have a chance. You haven't seen what the teams do, they're constantly competing. Not just with others outside of the Division, but among each squad. They're constantly testing themselves. We know that's what you want encouraged so we've thought up an inter-Division competition. The winning team will be put on the list for the exuvium process, what do you think?"

    Lan Jue was taken aback. "How did you think this up?"

    This made the Coffee Master chortle. "Our soldiers have too much pent-up energy and nowhere to let it out. We were trying to think of something for them to put their effort toward. It'd be along the same lines as the Great Adept tournament, with them initially separated by brigades. It'd take place in DreamNet, ten on ten. Ace squads would participate too, against two normal squads. We figured it was fairer. In the end the winners are put on exuvium list."

    Lan Jue laughed. "Excellent idea! But the soldiers in Ace squad are too strong. Even if you broke the squad in half they could still handily defeat a normal squad. Break them up and have them compete as individuals, among one another. At the same time, each squad can elect one person to fight in single battles. We have two competitions going simultaneously, one for teams and one for ace squad members. Brigade commanders can participate in the individual fights as well. Paragons, of course, can't. Neither can I or the Pharmacist."

    The Bartender gave an approving thumbs-up. "Much more thorough. So be it, we'll call this part of their training. Give us half a month to get things in order."

    Lan Jue nodded. "We can make it a common thing, these competitions. We can use it to inspire them to work harder. The rewards will be different each time. Right now the Avenue isn't hurting for riches or equipment."

    The three of them hammered out the remainder of the details. They expected it would cause a fierce competitive spirit to emerge. Of course, safety had to be considered and their training with the Bloodiron Khans would continue. Real life battles weren't needed anymore, DreamNet was enough of an analogue for real life.

    With this in mind, Lan Jue set off to find his brother and suggest the two groups continue to train together. Perhaps leave the Star Division here for a while longer. At any rate it would take time for the East to digest the information they brought, and share it with their colleagues in the West and North.

    Predictably, Lan Qing was very busy. But he made a point of carving out some time for his little brother. "What is it? I have a meeting in a little while." Lan Qing said, wasting no time.

    Lan Jue launched right into it. "I was hoping to keep Star Division here for a little while. I'd like them to continue training with the Bloodiron Khans, I think it'd benefit everyone. We can continue the joint battles in DreamNet, that way we can practice in different terrains and conditions. Get them ready for anything."

    Lan Qing gave him an accusatory sideways look. "You haven't won enough? There's too much difference in individual strength and equipment. It won't help my people very much to keep getting trounced. It'll only undermine their morale."

    Lan Jue grinned at him. "When did you lose faith? If you're worried about that we can reduce the numbers participating. We can't downgrade their gear because they used it all throughout their training, it's a part of their strategy. It'll take away too much of their effectiveness."

    A hardness flashed through Lan Qing's eyes. "You think I can accept this sort of scorn for my people?" Ever since taking command, he never had to ask his opponents to go easy.

    Lan Jue shrugged. "Those are the facts. And anyway, you shouldn't be discouraged. Your men are facing the greatest Adept army in history - the epitome of Skyfire Avenue's strength! Each soldier is strong on their own, with a mountain of money behind them. Facing a smaller group doesn't mean you're losing face. The whole point is mutual improvement, surviving the alien invasion and making them pay for what they've done. How does saving face help this?"
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