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Chapter 664: Gratitude

    Chapter 664: Gratitude

    Had Lan Jue been there by the seaside, and had he seen the object in the woman's hands he would have recognized it immediately. He would have recognized her as well.

    The Violet Princess was dressed as she had been when Lan Jue first saw her, just as breathtakingly beautiful. However, it was precisely her beauty that made her seem so strange - so unnatural. Although compared to their encounter on Moonfiend she seemed more 'human' now.

    The gem in her hands was a Tear of Neptune, the s-ranked power gem only produced on Lyr.

    After she stepped out of the ocean the Violet Princess lifted the power gem, pinched between her fingers. She peered at it with a curious look in her eye. Then, she popped it into her mouth. The beautiful alien disintegrated into a beam of light and vanished without a trace.

    ζ

    Lyr University, it was the first time Lan Jue had actually visited it. He was greeted by Han Ruchao, Su He and other school leaders.

    The university had survived thanks to their steadfast efforts. Han Ruchao's eyes were red as he struggled to contain his emotion. It was bittersweet, for although many lived a number of his teachers died in the fighting. Thankfully the loss of life was minimal, despite the high rate of injury.

    The ordeal had been transformative for the students and faculty. Order was still maintained, those who were healthy made sure rules were followed and people remained calm. Once the aliens were gone people could begin to return to their homes.

    "Thank you... thank you for coming so quickly. On behalf of this school and the whole city, thank you." Han Ruchao heartily shook Lan Jue's hand. Of course, he had no idea this was the same man who had embarrassed him so thoroughly during the student exchange so long ago.

    Lan Jue's address was respectful. "It wasn't me, you should thank the soldiers who put their lives on the line. You're a real hero, Dean Han. Your direction saved many lives today. Thank you." Whatever grudge existed between Ruchao and Xu Renjian, in Lan Jue's eyes this man was as deserving of respect as any soldier.

    He'd heard the Dean's determination to live or die with his school from Su He, and it had moved him. If everyone had his spirit and resolve, what would they have to fear from an enemy twice as strong as these beasts? His display of indomitable will was true Nobility!

    While the leaders exchanged words, Star Division's soldiers were exiting their mechas. These aliens were typical fare for them, so they weren't overjoyed at the victory unlike their Lyrian counterparts.

    Xiao Han had recovered some by now. He hobbled through the crowds of Division fighters in search of the fat one that had saved his life. He wanted to personally share his gratitude for saving his life.

    The fat mecha wasn't hard to find, it was much larger than the others. He picked it out from far away. He hurried over, and on the way saw the mecha that had spoken to him during the fight. A beautiful women stepped out.

    His eyes lit up, she sure was pretty! She had long blonde hair, a slender body and legs that wouldn't quit; straight, thin and round. They ended in a nice rounded backside and a tiny waist. Any hot-blooded man would feel his heart race at the sight of her.

    She floated to the ground and ran her hands through her tousled hair. She gathered the golden strands up into a ponytail.

    All of a sudden the sky darkened. When Xiao Han lifted his head he saw an enormous mecha descending upon him. It was savage looking, like a rabid lion. The intensity that surrounded it left the surrounding Lyr students in awe. This was one impressive mecha.

    A light beamed down to the ground below and a young man with short hair was deposited onto the field. He made his way toward the long-legged beauty with an easy smile on his face.

    "Little Mi," he called out to her.

    ζ

    "Can't you change your style? Barreling in here and there - what happens if you get surrounded? Then what?" Tang Mi showed her displeasure with Jin Tao through her scowl.

    He chortled. "That's who I am, I'll never to learn to be as tricky as your brother!"

    "Who are you calling tricky, dumb-mutt? You keep trying to hit on my sister and I'll kick your ass!" Tang Xiao dropped from his mecha and stomped over toward Jin Tao.

    Jin Tao's response was thick with disdain. "Alright that's enough. You think you can tell Little Mi how to live her life? You may be stronger than me now, but big brother here will make you think twice before throwing your weight around!"

    "Bring it on, then!" Tang Xiao spat. "I've been waiting for the day for ages!"

    The units Tang Xiao and Jin Tao commanded were the fastest improving of any. Their combat effectiveness soared. Tang Xiao had gained knowledge by the Descending Dragon Arhat's rise, but Jin Tao had learned a lot from the ascension of Lan Qing. Both of them benefited greatly from their experiences, and their Disciplines reflected it. Tang Xiao had crossed the threshold into ninth level, while Tang Xiao was only half a step behind. But what he lacked in power he made up for in raw passion, a passion he inspired in others as well.

    The two of them had infuriated the Bloodiron Khans during their time training in An Lun. One threw himself into any situation, consequences be damned. The other was as cunning and slippery as a fox. While outside of combat they were constantly trading barbs, in a fight their teams were practically unstoppable especially together.

    Once during training Tang Xiao had come up with a plan, following Jin Tao as he ripped through the weak flank of the Khans. That day Jin Tao became famous for his brutal fighting style. It was the highlight of the trip.

    ζ

    Xiao Han stopped dead in his tracks a few steps away. When he saw the tubby pilot trot over he couldn't keep the rage from infecting his face. He couldn't believe it - never in a hundred thousand years could he imagine that hateful man would be the one to save his life. The same hateful man who'd disgraced him so intensely. But, how could he have become so strong in so short a time?

    Tang Xiao must have felt Xiao Han's dagger-like glare, because he turned his way. When he saw him, he smiled wide enough to show all his teeth.

    Xiao Han heaved a sigh and eventually urged his feet onward. Long trudging steps brought him before his savior. He grudgingly nodded his head. "Thank you."

    Tang Xiao chuckled. "No need. I didn't like you before, but today I saw a true man. Forget what happened in the past, don't let me get too far ahead."

    As he spoke, Tang Xiao extended his right hand.

    Something flashes in Xiao Han's eyes. He hesitated, but finally took the offered hand. The obsessiveness with which he held onto that old hatred melted away as he took his comrade's hand. They were brothers in arms. The fatso wasn't quite so hateful as he used to be.

    **

    Three days later.

    Things had settled down on Lyr. Refugees returned to their homes to pick up the pieces. The East had sent a large number of soldiers to the planet and they had been busy searching for any vestige of the enemy.

    Even if there was something hiding in the depths of the ocean they would find it. No matter where it came from, it was a living thing and that meant their technology could detect it. Humanity's radar and sonar were exceptional.

    Lan Qing had spread the news for all planets to keep their detection equipment on and at full power. Everyone had to be vigilant for the presence of progenitors. In addition to the radar, they were encouraged to begin regular patrols as well.

    The military approved his plan immediately. What's more, they recommended the same to the other Alliances.

    Lan Jue look through the window of his room, out over the azure sea. He couldn't shake the dark cloud over his heart. On the surface it looked like things were back to normal, but Lyr had suffered terribly at the hands of the aliens - and not just the cities and people, but the delicate oceans as well. It would take a decade or more for the wounds to heal.

    What's more, they had responded quickly. If the progenitor had had more time the damage it caused might never have been reversed. It was important not to underestimate how frightening these creatures could be.

    Lan Qing had left the day before and had put a lot of distance between him and Lyr already. He had to rush back, there was a lot for him to do.

    The Star Division, meanwhile, remained on Lyr to rest for a time. They remained in part to help with the recovery efforts, but also as a reward. Lyr was a beautiful place, and anyone who liked the ocean would enjoy it here. Ever since Star Division's inception the soldiers had either trained intensively or fought intensively. They deserved a break.

    At the university's insistence Star Division was housed in auxiliary dorms on campus. Han Ruchao knew he couldn't pass up this excellent opportunity for Star Division's lauded soldiers to teach his students. With Lan Jue's blessing several ninth-level Talents and God-ranked pilots were assembled to impart what they could to the university's population.

    After the battle LU was flush with a unity of purpose. Those teachers and students who distinguished themselves were handsomely rewarded by the Eastern government. The military was also eager to extend invitations. It wouldn't be long before those students who grow to become notable soldiers in their own right.

    Sometimes bad circumstances could lead to good results. At least as far as Lan Jue could tell, humanity would fight together in the face of this foreign threat. They would need that if they had any hope to survive.

    He turned away from the window and looked at the bed. Zhou Qianlin sat upon it cross-legged, quietly meditating.
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