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Chapter 671: Tyrannosaurus-Class Bastion Ship

    Chapter 671: Tyrannosaurus-Class Bastion Ship

    Ling Ya smiled sweetly, completely absent the antagonism from before. "It's a shame I wasn't able to receive commander Lan Jue's instruction."

    Lan Jue looked her way. "Our two forces are allies. We don't want to hurt anyone, just maintain the peace. When we encounter the alien creatures I'd be happy to compare kill counts with the colonel."

    "It's a deal," she replied with a lopsided grin.

    Although she was speaking to Lan Jue, her eyes inadvertently swept toward Su Xiaosu. The angel looked familiar, she thought. It had been uncomfortable to discover her battle prowess was even slightly inferior to the woman.

    Wu Qiu went on. "I was told this is not your first excursion into the Shattered Starfields to hunt for aliens. Perhaps you could tell us more about what happened when you encountered the alien planets?"

    Lan Jue smiled at the secretary. "I suspect the admiral will ask similar questions. Don't you think it'd be prudent to discuss it then?"

    Wu Qiu had come upon some resistance 1. He just smiled and said nothing further. He'd already provoked his Eastern guests, he could expect the cold shoulder.

    As the verti-car quietly soared through the ship's interior they were treated to vista of spider-web like walkways cris-crossing one another across vast distances. The building below them were getting smaller, indicating that their car was heading upward.

    They passed three separate security checks before ultimately arriving in an oval area. The verti-car touched down, and the two Northern officers lead Lan Jue and his team from the car. Wu Qiu guided them to a large building about the size of a football field. After another check they were permitted inside.

    "Commander, if you would leave your team in the waiting area and follow me to the admiral?" Wu Qiu requested.

    "Very well." It wasn't necessary for everyone to clutter up the admiral's office.

    Ling Ya motioned for him to follow. "Please come with me."

    Lan Jue gave his companions a nod. Ling Ya and the Driver took up the lead as they headed for the waiting room, followed by the Paragons. None of them removed their helmets or spoke. Wu Qiu directed Lan Jue toward another hallway.

    Three more security checks later, they entered an elevator.

    "You know I still think about your performance in the Adept Tournament!" Wu Qiu said conversationally.

    Lan Jue replied with a demure smile. "I was just lucky, and the age restrictions helped. Your Discipline was impressive... peak of ninth level, I reckon. Dispersion."

    Wu Qiu sighed. "It wasn't once I reached this level that I understood why Skyfire Avenue adheres so strongly to purely congenital Talent. Acquired power has its limits. After all, the technology far surpasses the capabilities of the human body."

    "It's a problem with methods to overcome. His Majesty the Terminator found a way, didn't he?" Lan Jue answered.

    Wu Qiu chuckled politely. "How could I hope to compare to his Majesty."

    A gentle 'ding' announced their arrival. The elevator doors opened.

    A spacious room was revealed to them with a snow-white floor constructed of some special sort of glass. Military men bustled here and there, none below field-grade officer ranks. Beeps and clicks issued from high-tech machines that filled the room.

    Lan Jue's eyes glittered as he looked around. Although it was his first visit to a Bastion ship, this was clearly the control room.

    A Bastion's size and mass was comparable to a small planet. It took an army to build one, and it was far too large to be run by even a sizeable team. There was the main control station, but also several control sectors that worked in tandem. The main control station was like the brain of the ship, which passed orders to the various sectors. These sectors controlled ship movement, weapons systems, and life support to name a few examples. Each section was independently operated by a team of officers.

    Because of this structure, the soldiers treated the ship no differently than being stationed on a planet. Some of them had been living here for dozens of years. The living areas were analogous to cities on Skyfire or Luo, and in theory were much safer.

    A touch of pride was revealed in Wu Qiu's smile. "This is Tyrannosuarus' main control station. The Admiral's officer is on the other end, he's expecting you. He's very interesting in what you learned in your last trip. We appreciate your hard work."

    Lan Jue was the definition of polite propriety. "Your praise is undeserved, Secretary. We are happy to help however we can, in the name of humanity."

    The station's officers paid them no mind, too busy with their duties to dawdle. Ebbs and flows of energy buffeted Lan Jue from all sides, telling him nearly all of these soldiers were Adepts. All sorts of Disciplines were represented, filling the area with a vibrant atmosphere.

    Lan Jue knew that Adepts were preferred for high-grade research and command positions. The reason was simple; they could do more than your average human. Their Talent gave them advantages and staying power in a fight. Tyrannosaurus seemed no different, however there weren't any high-level Adepts here.

    Wu Qiu lead Lan Jue to a silvery-white elevator in the back. They stepped in and continued their ascent. During the ride Lan Jue felt no less than three passes of energy sweep across their bodies - more checks. Wu Qiu's credentials stopped any untoward reactions from being tripped.

    They certainly took defense seriously!

    The ride took only a few seconds. When the doors opened again, all sound from the station below was gone. There was only the quiet buzz of electricity to break the silence.

    First to catch Lan Jue's eyes was nothing short of the boundless universe, spread out before him. The vaulted room was transparent from floor to ceiling. One wall was taken up by a series of monitors, thick with strings of complicated data. The other flickered with blinking, enigmatic lights. Even if Lan Jue knew what they were he wouldn't have known what they meant.

    A Spartan desk of white was toward the back, and behind it sat a man.

    Even seated Lan Jue could see the man was very tall. His features were the familiar type of his own Alliance 2, with lines belying his middle-age. Dark hair matched darker eyes, typical for Easterners. Four golden stars twinkled on his shoulder strap, indicating his high rank.

    "Sir!" Wu Qiu snapped to attention.

    The Admiral lifted his head from the holographic device on his desk. His eyes went to Lan Jue first. They were calm eyes, but somehow strange like they bore their own unique allure. It was like he could peer directly into your soul.

    But, then, the commander of the Northern army's Tyrannosaurus-class Bastion wrinkled his eyebrows and shut his eyes.

    Wu Qiu started and suddenly stppped forward, blocking Lan Jue's view. He could feel undulations of power coming off the secretary. Lan Jue, meanwhile, did not move.

    "It's fine." Kang Hui's voice was low. He rose from behind the desk and approached, stopping beside Wu Qiu. His eyes were lit with appreciation. "Hello, Commander Lan. "I am Kang Hui." As he spoke the Admiral offered a salute.

    Lan Jue was not a member of the military so did not return the salute. He nodded instead. "Hello, Admiral Kang Hui." His response was even.

    Kang Hui turned toward Wu Qiu and nodded. The secretary took a few steps back but remained in the office.

    Surprise lingered in Lan Jue's mind. Kang Hui was the leader of one of humanity's most destructive weapons - and yet, his Discipline was hardly substantial. At best he boasted a seventh level Discipline, far inferior to the likes of Wu Qiu or Ling Ya. His Discipline, he suspected, had something to do with his eyes.

    Kang Hui probably saw the uncertainty in his guest's look. He smiled. "Welcome to Tyrannosaurus, commander. Please sit." He indicated a metallic sea situated in front of the desk. Wu Qiu separated himself further, stepping off to the side of the room. However he remained, likely to ensure the Admiral's protection.

    Lan Jue did not stand on ceremony and took the offered seat. Kang Hui returned to his own chair opposite.

    "I'm a direct sort of person, commander. We have embarked on this journey on behalf of humanity, to meet the alien threat. I don't imagine its necessary we go over the guiding principles, so I'll get to the point. We are hoping you can help us learn more about our enemy."

    Lan Jue answered with a slight nod. "We're here to help in your operation. We can be ready to leave right away and begin sending back information."

    Kang Hui leaned back. "I was hoping we might first discuss what you learned during your last tour, get a clearer picture of the situation. According to our information you made two trips to the Shattered Starfields. The first time you uncovered their planets' ability to teleport. Your second visit served to learn more about the creatures themselves. I must express my admiration of your work, especially since our own scouting attempts have repeatedly ended in failure. Some of our scouts were even equipped with cloaking devices, to no avail."

    Lan Jue nodded knowingly. "Their counterreconnaisance capabilities are very strong. They identify one another through powerful psionic bursts. They use this to identify and locate non-alien lifeforms. As a result Blinding Stones are effective, but only to within a certain range. Once close enough, their psionic abilities render them useless. We learned this the hard way."

    Kang Hui regarded him with some surprise. "You were discovered? With all due respect, how did you accomplish your mission?"

    Lan Jue smirked. "We killed the one that spotted us and kept going."

    He didn't go into detail about Lin Guoguo or her methods, that was a state secret. She's joined them for this trip as well, but remained back on the ship. He kept in contact with her through the Soulcaller gem. After all, the North had tried to kill him a number of times - it was important to be on guard.

    1. The Chinese here is interesting, I thought, if I'm understanding it right. 'Hit a nail' is the translation, but 'nail' was the name for the front entrance of a government official's mansion - a place where the common man was not permitted to pass. So 'to hit a nail' meant to come upon an impassable obstacle

    2. The term is 'chinese face'
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