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Chapter 670: Dazzling Ice Lotus

    Chapter 670: Dazzling Ice Lotus

    When she saw the Driver's rugged, roguish appearance her scowl deepened. "Behave yourself."

    He answered with a shrug. "How well I behave depends on the company. If I'm not getting any respect why should I sow you any?"

    "You!"

    A flash of light blinded Ling Ya's eyes. All she saw was the Driver shoot a hand out, and suddenly the two mechas blocking their path were blasted away. They flew a full tend minutes before striking the metal floor and grinding to a halt.

    For half a moment the other mechas were stunned and unmoving. Then the sound of laser weapons revving up filled the hangar, and barrels were pointed their way waiting for the colonel's command.

    "Hold your fire!" Ling Ya screeched. Part of her purpose here was to test the scouts' grit but she didn't want to start a real firefight. That would surely cause irrevocable consequences.

    "Yeah, come to their rescue." The Driver had suddenly reappeared in front of Ling Ya. He fixed her with his hard eyes, bolts of purple lightning dancing in their depths.

    She staggered back a step but quickly regained her composure. A pale white light surrounded her, and as she spoke her words were hard but the tone was cowardly. "How dare you cause trouble aboard this Bastion! We'll have you court martialed!"

    His eyebrows shot up. "Court martial? For your Northern army? Grand! Give me the invitation and I'd be happy to play around with your stuffed suits for a little while. Now I'm tired of your poor reception. Let us in, or don't be surprised if I lose my temper. And if you can't do that then call someone who can."

    Soldier temperaments were rarely on an even keel. Ling Ya especially, as a twenty-something officer who earned her place on Tyrannosaurus. She lost her composure and in response the white aura around her flared. Instantly the temperature dropped. Her skin became as clear as ice, her black hair white as snow. Rising into the air she was surrounded by pulses of energy that were surprisingly strong.

    But she wasn't looking at the Driver. Her eyes were fixed on Lan Jue. "Commander, I know you walked away as Champion of the Grand Adept tournament. It's a shame I couldn't participate, being a member of the arm. Now we have a chance to see if I could have beaten you. If you can best me, your scouting team can proceed without verification."

    "Just you?" Another voice answered her, and another figure stepped up to stand by Lan Jue's side. When their helmet was revealed, Su Xiaosu's face was revealed.

    "Beat me, then you might have what it takes to challenge the boss." She didn't mince words. Even before she was done talking the Morning Star rose into the air. A corona of golden light radiated out like the heavens were opening behind her. She flicked her wrist and a whip of crackling gold light lashed out at Ling Ya.

    Her answer was to sniff dismissively. Her arms spread out, a spear having appeared in her hand. Ling Ya was born as genetic anomaly, her Discipline awakening at the moment of her birth. This was considered congenital Talent and meant her cultivation was far superior to a normal Adept's. As a result she was a ninth level seventh rank Talent at such a young age, and what's more was one of the few in Northern military service whose body was uncorrupted by technology.

    Ling Ya had volunteered for this assignment. She was one of their crack fighters as well as a respected staff officer. Her rank was not indicative of her abilities nor her station here on Tyrannosaurus. She was a rising star in the North, to be certain.

    When she'd heard that the scouting team was headed by commander Lan Jue - the same Lan Jue that had won the Great Adept Tournament - she was filled with a burning desire to test herself against him. She got her wish when the Admiral hinted for her to feel out their abilities. Ultimately this was the inspiration behind her tough and somewhat demeaning greeting.

    Ling Ya extended her spear and all the chill that had filled the air vanished, gathered into a single point. In the instant her spear and the whip met, all of that icy power raced through Su Xiaosu's weapon and toward her body.

    Remember, Su Xiaosu was once the Moonfiend Empress - Morning Star to the Pontiff. Though she was meek in her dealings with Lan Jue, her persona was entirely different when confronting a foe. She flicked her wrist and the bullwhip separated into countless copies of itself. Meanwhile a sheath of blazing fire covered each leather crop. It burned away Ling Ya's icy power without effort. Ling Ya barely had time to react before the whip was on her again.

    Holy Fire!

    Ling Ya retreated, brandishing her spear. It lashed out too quick to follow, blocking each strand of Su Xiaosu's whip as they came. Their clash was loud and constant like the beat of a war drum.

    The Driver stood beside Lan Jue, watching the exchange. "It's hard to say, but this little one's tough! Ninth level seventh rank, maybe."

    Lan Jue concurred. "Seems about right. She was sent to test us. I didn't think it was the North's style, but if that's what they want we'll give them a show."

    Ling Ya and Su Xiaosu were about even in Discipline, but when it came to combat experience the Moonfiend Empress had the upper hand. She was a product of the Pontiff's Citadel, and later carved out a realm of her own in the Shattered Starfields. A veteran of at least one hundred battles, what enemy would be new to her? Ling Ya's Ice Discipline was strong, but Xiaosu's Holy Light was no less potent.

    As their contest continued Xiaosu slowly began to get the upper hand. The crack of her golden whip knocked away Ling Ya's spear again and again. No matter how the colonel struck, on which direction she attacked from, breaking the Morning's Star's defenses seemed fruitless.

    Just then Ling Ya stopped. With a grunt she thrust the head of her spear into the ground in front of her. As the icy weapon buried itself in the ground her body became illusory. All of a sudden the hangar was filled with a vacuum force that pulled everything toward that spear, like it was the center of a black hole. Cold power coalesced around it, creating beautiful petals of glittering ice.

    Dazzling Ice Lotus!

    Once Ling Ya realized her victory would not come easy, she began to reveal her real power!

    The temperature dropped by a hundred degrees in an instant. Hoarfrost grew along the metal frames of the mechas as they looked on in silent vigil. Su Xiaosu found herself unable to shake the traction, and each second brought her inexorably closer to the deadly sharp lotus petals.

    Xiaosu reacted quickly. The hand holding the whip lifted and the motion brought her whole body up into the air. Her arm whipped around to make the whip coil in subsonic circles around her body. Her body continued to release a flood of brazen holy light that filled every corner of the hangar.

    All of a sudden six resplendent wings extended from her spine. Hovering majesty above the crowd the whip she bore became a blade that glowed with divine power.

    A column of light that seemed cast from heaven itself was cast down onto the Dazzling Ice Lotus. In response the cutting petals folded inward as though to meet the holy light.

    Two powerful manifestations of energy met, and their collision caused the ground to shake. Even though the Bastion was constructed of the strongest alloys, it still could only just bear the load of two ninth-level Talents.

    "Hold!" A booming voice rang through the area, bringing with it a flood of invisible power. Where it swept by reality warped. To witness it was marvelous, and the power it bore was impressive. As the waves of distortion swept by, both the Dazzling Ice Lotus and the column of divine light vanished - dissolved into nothing.

    Surprise glimmered in Lan Jue's eye. This was surely a unique Discipline, and strong if it could overwhelm two ninth level Adepts. Attaining such potency even before reaching protogenic levels spoke volumes to its strength.

    Su Xiaosu performed a backflip in midair, tumbling back to earth at Lan Jue's side. Ling Ya reappeared as well. A cloud of ice particles coiled around her.

    He was a man in his forties, the one who'd interrupted them. Twinkling insignias on his shoulder board revealed him to be a Major General. Short-cut blond hair sharply contrasted with his ruddy, bronzed skin. A gleaming intelligence was clear in his eyes.

    "Ling ya, apologize to commander Lan Jue. He and his party are guests on the Tyrannosaurus and you let your pride get out of hand. Later you'll be choosing your own punishment!" His voice was harsh, but a look at his face showed them to be insincere.

    The hard look on her face melted away. She turned to Lan Jue. "I apologize, commander. I was too aggressive. Please forgive me."

    The middle-aged newcomer gave him no chance to respond, stepping up to face him. He snapped a salute. "Welcome aboard, commander Lan Jue. I am under-secretary in charge of combat operations here on Tyrannosaurus, Wu Qiu. I'd like to apologize for the actions of my colleagues."

    Lan Jue replied with a smile. He was well aware this was a test, and once their abilities were confirmed the charade was abandoned. Classic good-cop, bad-cop.

    "It's no problem, a misunderstanding I'm sure. I assume you're happy with our qualifications?"

    Wu Qiu was impressed. Lan Jue looked young - no more than thirty, perhaps - and yet was not only a champion Adept, but cool-headed as well. He was even-tempered in praise and humiliation. A rare quality in a person!

    "Please, commander!" He stepped to the side and swept his hand out, opening the way.

    Lan Jue nodded, signaled his companions, and headed for the verti-car.

    Wu Qiu shot Ling Ya a hard, brief look then followed. Ling Ya had accomplished her mission, but she was not intended to use the full strength of her ninth level Talent. This was a Bastion ship! Who knew what damage they could cause?

    Ling Ya was not the least bit frightened of the secretary. She stuck her tongue out at him and feigned a pitiful look. 1

    Wu Qiu scowled helplessly but didn't stop her when she got into the car. Thankfully Northern verti-cars were spacious, with room enough to fit up to twenty passengers.

    The doors closed and they gently lifted into the air. They maneuvered through a portal that granted them entry further into the ship, then picked up speed.

    "Commander Lan." Wu Qiu smiled as he turned slightly in his seat to face him. "I really would like to apologize for all that. On behalf of the Tyrannosaurus."

    "Now that the misunderstanding has been cleared up there's no more reason to speak on it," he assured. "Colonel Ling Ya displayed considerable skill."

    1. There was a TV show my wife used to watch with her parents when we'd visit on Sundays. I don't remember the name, but it was about a soldier woman during the Cultural Revolution. She was basically portrayed as a housewife in uniform, and demure and 'cutesie' as a teenager. It was pretty ridiculous.
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