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Chapter 635: Parliamentary Disagreements

    Chapter 635: Parliamentary Disagreements

    Planet Skyfire, Parliamentary Assembly Building.

    The Speaker sat stony-faced in the silence after the holograms ceased.

    "This is the latest information brought back by Commander Lan Jue and his Star Division. It's the only information we've received at all. So far the data's already taught our researchers a lot about the aliens. Most importantly know is crafting a strategy. What we've learned from commander Lan Jue is that these creatures are much stronger than we'd assumed. Our people will suffer and pay with their lives wherever this enemy chooses to emerge. While I understand that the commander's earlier suggestion - to evacuate the people to better defended areas - is difficult, that it will affect the plans we have crafted and even undermine the foundation of this assembly, I believe in the interest of preserving lives it is the best course of action."

    Murmured conversation followed the Speaker's remarks. The strength of these aliens had been revealed to them in the images from Star Division. Even Paragons couldn't stand against an invading army that large. The Accountant's analyses were particularly troubling. Many aliens were spied on the alien planet's surface that could rival human capital ships. However it was the planet itself that was their most fearsome weapon. It could be anywhere at any time, swallow entire planets, ending all life in an instant.

    A choice had to be made. Commander Lan Jue had called for a mass evacuation. Smaller and verdant planets had to be cleared as high-risk targets while their citizens found succor closer together. They could wait out the battle in relative safety. Until the armies of man fell, their citizens would not suffer the brunt of alien hostility.

    But, what about when it was time to go back? This troubles the politicians greatly. It was a question of unity and obeisance. Western and Northern governments were likely having a lot less polite conversations around this decision.

    "Mister Speaker!" An elderly parliamentarian called out for his attention. "According to the information before us, we know that these aliens are dangerous. In fact, they are a threat to our continued existence. I also support the suggestion put forward by Commander Lan Jue. However, we must be cognizant enough to view the problem from a wider perspective. For instance, how could we respond if we evacuate these planets, only to have the West or North occupy them in our stead? If the aliens pass us by then not only have we suffered tremendous loss, our sovereignty may be at risk. Remember that the planets which are most attractive to these beasts are also the ones that empower them. We evacuate these planets and leave them to their fate - strengthen our foes."

    The elderly man paused, after a moment beginning again with a valiant expression of determination on his face. "There will need to be sacrifices for the future of the Eastern Alliance. To me, it seems the best method is to quarter our interstellar fleets within Eastern space. If the aliens show, we will be capable of an immediate response. Although this plan will put several important government planets and their people at considerable risk, it is the best for our Alliance overall. In the end, we must also consider there is a one-in-three chance the aliens will even come our way."

    It sounded cruel, to sacrifice these planets for the security of the majority. Leaving them behind as fodder. Several faces in the chamber went pale.

    "I cannot accept that." Eastern Alliance's Prime Minister Zhou Xueguan shot to his feet. His booming, indignant voice rang through the chamber. "Every single life is priceless, and the most sacred duty of a government is to defend its people. How can we even consider leaving them in the path of danger? I am in agreement with the Speaker; I would rather suffer a loss of resources, than to lose our people. Let the West and North do as they will. If they choose to take advantage of us in the face of this apocalyptic threat, then they shall reveal themselves as an enemy to humanity."

    The parliamentary assembly erupted into a shouting match.

    Zhou Xueguan stood amid the chaos, his face hard as he thought. The East was supposed to be better off. At least when it came to the aliens there appeared to have been some kind of understanding. The news he was receiving out of the West and North made him even more nervous.

    All of the data recovered from An Lun was poured over. Sensitive material had been redacted, but otherwise the Eastern government was quick to give everything they could to their counterparts in the other Alliances. Initial reports, however, revealed that many contested the reality of these reports, accusing the East of deliberate fabrication. Some were even going so far as to denounce the East as enemies.

    The loudest detractors came from the West. In some regards this was to be expected considering the scandalous way in which the wedding between Richard and Qianlin had ended. The Austin family had a great deal of political clout in the West, and their rancor for the East was no secret. They were lobbying as hard as they could for the Western congress to ignore any further correspondence from them about the alien threat.

    Zhou Xueguan and his administration was keeping this information under wraps, though. Revealing the West's distrust would only make matters worse. At the same time they could find no means to convince them otherwise. The West had thrown a lot of resources at scouting but weren't looking in the right place. They believed, like all the others, that the aliens were going to come from outside human space. They even reputedly had some data from deep space, a fact that rendered many members of the East speechless. Both sides were working with different numbers, each distrusting the other.

    The aliens hadn't made their move, but already humanity was in disarray. Discord was the worst situation they could find themselves in, but here it was.

    Now was not the time to deal with Western skeptics, though. Once their own people were safe, others could be considered. The war hawks in parliament may be callous, but at least they're willing to confront the truth. Unity in the face of a foreign enemy was something they could count on, at least. Their struggle was finding the best way to proceed.

    "Silence!" The Speaker slammed his gavel, combating the chaos that had come over the assembly. A few sharp bangs was enough to capture most everyone's attention.

    The Speaker's solemn voice filled the quiet. "There is another matter that needs to be addressed. Skyfire Avenue's Star Division, under leadership of commander Lan Jue and the Avenue's dignified Paragons, returned from their scouting expedition with some vital crystals. I'm informed it's not a small number, enough that there will be a surplus when we've taken what's needed for research. Skyfire Avenue has recommended that we use them in trade for weapons and other materials from the West and North. It's a decision that must be made quickly. General Li Si, as head of the armies what are your thoughts?"

    General Li Si occupied the row closest to the Speaker's podium. Various luminaries from the many branches of the military were arrayed by rank. The Li family was well-known as a perennial military family, and in fact the new, youngest general in history had once been his disciple. Indeed, General Li had fought vociferously for Lan Qing's promotion.

    Li Si was seventy three years old this year, but he had the bearing of a man half his age. Tall, with a straight back and a quiet strength, when he stood the chamber was completely silent. Everyone's attention fixated on this venerable old warrior.

    He was sixteen when he joined the army and had been a part of the company for nearly sixty years. In that time he'd participated in ten separate campaigns and earned himself the name Predator General. Every officer he cultivated shared his ferociousness, and a dogged desire to guard their borders.

    "I endorse this plan. The exuvium process is a breakthrough in prolonging life in times of peace. But this is war. We must ensure that we are adequately prepared to protect ourselves when the alien menace comes. In addition, strength of arms directly correlates to obtaining these vital crystals. From the data collected we have discovered that the most effective deterrent against these creatures, are adepts and mechas that can empower them. They consume vital energy, but fear the products of it. In the eyes of Adepts the East has become a promised land. Skyfire Avenue boasts five Paragons, more than any other organization. If we've managed to bring back one haul, we can get another. Our most pressing focus now must surely be shoring up defenses. One way to do that is to increase the fleet. Then we could protect more planets."

    The General turned away from the Speaker, addressing the rest of the assembly. "I have listened to your debates. There is merit to each side. Know that I am being upfront with my allegiances. I am a military man. For us, our first responsibility is our duty to the nation. We will fight for whatever this governing body decides. However, a soldier's duty is also to protect the homeland. All of it. We cannot face sacrificing one group to protect another. We will fight to the last drop of blood, to keep all civilians safe from harm."

    General Li let his words hand in the air for a moment. Then, he turned back to the Speaker. With a small nod of respect, the soldier retook his seat.

    His words weren't just a vote for the Speaker's plan, but an affirmation of their martial code. He was telling everyone what the Eastern military stood for. Their strongest advantage had always been unity, and the general was a shining beacon of that. Now after witnessing the rise o his disciple Lan Qing, no one questioned this man's status.

    The Speaker's low voice returned. "We will have a ten minute recess then reconvene for a vote on how to proceed. I hope in that time everyone can agree on a plan of action."
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