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Chapter 632: Do You Want to Torture Me?

    Chapter 632: Do You Want to Torture Me?

    Faced with his younger brother's sass, Lan Qing laughed. "Very well, you've got your wish. On one condition; we fight, in front of all our men."

    Lan Jue froze for a minute, then burst out. "Do you want to torture me?!"

    Lan Qing's irritation flared. "You come to me for the help of my men and this is how you react?"

    Lan Jue's eyes nearly rolled out of his head, but after a moment he nodded. "Fine, it's agreed. Losing to my brother doesn't mean anything, I'm not concerned about face. Only, you're an illustrious Paragon now. You'll earn no glory from beating me. I should fight with Qianlin, I think you'll agree to that. Two on one."

    "Alright!" Lan Qing agreed straight off. His intention wasn't to abuse his brother. Ever since breaking through he'd been unable to find anyone of comparable level to contend with. He was immersed in a whole new realm of capability he had no opportunity to test. Outwardly he looked calm, but he was struggling with an itch he couldn't scratch.

    "Tomorrow, then!" Lan Jue promptly decided.

    Lan Jue was also curious what his brother could conjure up as a Reflection of Heaven and Earth. The effects his breakthrough had on An Lun were still fresh in his memory. The East had been clever in concealing the truth, stating that the strange aura that had hung over the planet was the implementation of a new defense system.

    The Bloodiron Khans had been struggling with their recent losses to Star Division, especially since they'd lost under the command of their illustrious super soldier. Their morale had taken a significant hit. Their training was second to none, but every one of them knew that overcoming the powerhouses from Skyfire was almost impossible.

    It was in the midst of this gloom that they learned Star Division would contend against them with fewer numbers. The shame and indignation they felt nearly made them choke. They were the Bloodiron Khans! Since when where they the ones looked down on? But they had no option but to swallow their pride.

    Early the next morning, both armies gathered on the An Lun training grounds.

    Star Division's soldiers stood as one, imposing and full of stamina. Their faces were bright with self-confidence. They'd first joined Star Division for profit, some of them because of an affiliation with Skyfire Avenue. But over time, after sweeping through the Starfields and defeating the Bloodiron Khans, after developing relationships with teammates, they felt like part of something. Most importantly, they could clearly see rapid improvement after joining up. Every squad was under the direction of a ninth level Adept that guided their betterment. They trained and cultivated together. With the addition of the Avenue's resources, and the opportunity to witness a Paragon's breakthrough, all of this together was far beyond anything they could have accomplished by themselves.

    With things as they were, none of them pined for the old days. Who didn't want to stronger? The smart ones knew how dangerous the coming fight was going to be. Backed by strong allies, they were more likely to achieve the success they desired. Skyfire Avenue was a haven for the strong. If they couldn't be safe there, then humanity was closer to destruction than people thought. Star Division's soldiers were flush with confidence.

    An Lun's Bloodiron Khans stood in precise formation, but a closer look penetrated the discipline to reveal the resentment beneath. A few furtive glares were thrown toward their Skyfire compatriots across the field, thick with hostility. Finally meeting an insurmountable foe dug at their ego.

    Lan Jue and Lan Qing appeared simultaneously in the center of the field. Both brother regarded each other with a chilly calm. Qianlin stood beside Lan Jue, hand in hand.

    Peppered among the Skyfire soldiers were many of Lan Jue's A.R.C. students. When they saw Qianlin, they almost gasped in surprise. Only a few even had an inkling of the relationship between them, and when they discovered his true identity many couldn't help but lose a little respect for the Demon Drillmaster. After all, he was their etiquette teacher! Qianlin's sudden and complete absent had also made many of them curious. Now here she was, and the revelation shocked them.

    Tan Lingyun's eyes narrowed ever so slightly. She had a boisterous and overbearing personality, but she was still a woman. The gentleness in his eyes when he looked at Qianlin was proof enough, she didn't have a chance. But dwelling on it served nothing, her only purpose now would be to become the strongest she could be.

    "The purpose behind our joint exercises is to make one another better. Commander Lan Jue and I have spoken, and decided that over the next month, we will be conducting these exercises every two days. Half of Star Division will contend with the full might of the Bloodiron Khans. As we continue, we will analyze the results to make adjustments as necessary. Khan, if you wish to recapture your reputation, you will need to examine yourselves." Lan Qing's voice was soft, but his words were like a fire in the hearts of his men. A fierceness sparkled in their eyes.

    Lan Jue and Qianlin stood behind the Commander in Chief, never speaking a word. However, his easy smile and encouraging expression inspired the Star Division soldiers. They'd defeated the undefeated An Lun super soldier!

    "I suspect we all know what it means for Adepts for compete against one another. In a moment, Commander Lan Jue and I will exchange blows. We hope you all will find it enlightening. Everyone, sit." Lan Qing's soft voice commanded.

    Every one of the Bloodiron Khan's obeyed, practically in a single motion. Star Division didn't move a muscle. Lan Qing was the An Lun super soldier, leader of the Bloodiron Khans and commander of the Eastern armies. What he wasn't, was their commanding officer.

    "Everyone sit,"Lan Jue quietly ordered. They looked upon their leader with fervent, burning eyes. In the eyes of his brigade officers, however, Lan Jue could see pity. It was no secret to them that Lan Qing had immediately become a Reflection of Heaven and Earth. It seemed ludicrous that Lan Jue would agree to this fight when anyone could guess the outcome. It was masochism! They just waited for it to be over.

    Lan Jue slowly swung his eyes back to Lan Qing. Lifting his free hand, he beckoned for him to begin.

    Lan Qing lifted his own arm, but to speak into his communicator. "Tell them to cut off all satellite surveillance footage."

    Their fight couldn't take place in DreamNet because the system couldn't handle protogenic energy. As a result, their contest would take place in the real world. Lan Qing's aim in making the planet dark was, of course, to confound the West and North.

    With his commands given, Lan Qing gave his brother a final look, laden with unspoken meaning. His  body shook, then suddenly became a beam of turquoise light. It cleaved  the air, racing into the heavens and disappearing from view.

    Lan Jue looked to Qianlin who stood quietly beside him. His hand tightened around hers, and they shot up after him. The three fighters were invisible to the armies waiting on the ground below, however as they vanished a holographic projection flickered to life. It focused on Lan Qing, Lan Jue and Qianlin so that they didn't miss a moment. As the promise of a spectacular fight hung in the air, their mutual animosity was gone. Everyone's attention was fixated on the hologram, especially the Bloodiron Khans. They might have lost, but their high commander wouldn't!

    The Khans knew about Lan Jue. They'd watched the Great Adept Tournament like everyone else. Meanwhile the analysts of An Lun had busily learned all they could about Star Division - and especially their Grand Champion commander.

    Champion of the Great Adept Tournament against the An Lun super soldier. Who would win? For the Khans the answer was clearly their general. After all, he was a Paragon of the second degree!

    Lan Qing continued until he was hovering in the stratosphere. For one with powers strong as his, this was effortless. For Qianlin and Lan Jue it was also posed no threat. A crackling aura of thunderbolt energy surrounded them and kept the suffocating pressure of space at bay. They weren't the least bit slowed and kept pace with the Paragon.

    Excitement smoldered in Lan Jue's eyes. He could test his powers against his brother at last, and why wouldn't he be excited to show off how much he'd accomplished? He and the Driver had managed to transform about half their Discipline to the powerful yin-yang lightning. While they'd both benefited greatly, Lan Jue was quicker and smoother through the process because he could endure more of the energy at once. Both he and Qianlin had been in a constant state of development. The immortal qi was penetrating all the way down into their DNA. Its effects had been particularly evident in the last few months, like they'd reached a new level.
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