Chapter 675: Pride?

    Chapter 675: Pride?

    At first the shot looked like it was directed at empty space, but just as it fired the Swordfish threw itself into the path of the attack.

    Boom-! Space was lit up by an explosion of electric blue light. In the center of the blazing orb of power was a single dark spot. For a few moments the explosion lingered, but eventually dispersed. When it did the alien was gone, and only its vital crystal remained, floating quietly in the void.

    How did he do that? Again Ling Ya was more confused than enlightened. Could this little ship really pack this big a punch? And what incredible accuracy! Frankly, a patrol boat shouldn't have been able to kill a Swordfish in one shot.

    The North wasn't absent their own battlefield experience. Once they'd started the engines of war Northern soldiers had encountered several of this aliens. Although the Seventh Fleet had been destroyed, crews had managed to send back priceless information before succumbing to the aliens. Ling Ya had it memorized. Swordfish boasted impressive defenses, to where shots from a dreadnaught may not put one down - to say nothing of a patrol boat.

    Lan Jue picked the helmet off his head and turned to Lin Guoguo. "Don't get distracted."

    Lin Guoguo's response was serious. "I know, boss. I'm sorry." She replaced him on the chair and affixed the helmet to her own head.

    Lan Jue's next target was Ling Ya. "Your role here is support, not to cause trouble. Colonel you will do the job you were sent here to do, stop getting the way of our mission."

    The look of displeasure on his face riled her. The nerve! But there was nothing she could say. It had been her meddling that lead Lin Guoguo to become distracted.

    "Mnh." That was the extent of her response. She returned to her chair.

    "Little Ya, dial it back a little. We'll come across more aliens as we proceed, we don't need to go digging for information. I'm sure they'll reveal more as time goes on." Wu Qiu's voice whispered in Ling Ya's ear.

    Ling Ya snapped her head around, unwilling to capitulate. "What's there to learn from this guy? A few tricks and secrets? Not that he shares any of those with us. Uncle Wu, how was their gun that strong? It killed a Swordfish in one shot. Now they have another vital crystal, which means more resources."

    "That couldn't have been purely the ship's weaponry," Wu Qiu replied. "It was enhanced by Discipline. I can't tell just how strong Commander Jue is, but he it must be impressive. I imagine he has more surprises in store for us."

    Ling Ya answered by rolling her eyes. "Do you think there's a way we could convince him to join the North, uncle? That girl is a zealot, and I fear she won't be going anywhere unless it's with him!"

    This earned a wry chuckle from him. "So you do see his worth. He is the vice Chairman of Skyfire Avenue's leadership council. You know how well the Avenue is doing lately, especially with regards to Paragons. His status there is even higher than some of them, so what does this mean? It means the Avenue would stop at nothing to make sure he stays right where he is. This commander is probably the future of Skyfire Avenue, how could we entice him away?"

    Ling Ya scowled. "He may act like a gentleman but he's got an ego the size of Tyrannosaurus. And he's a sexual deviant. These pretty women around him are head over heels - I can't see anything good in that situation."

    Ah-choo! Lan Jue suddenly let out a loud sneeze 1

    Ling Ya's face froze.

    Wu Qiu smirked. "Alright, stop talking and pay attention. He's conceited but perhaps it's warranted. How many people do you know with his influence and power at his age?"

    Zeus-1 continued on. More aliens came and went, but overall they were fewer than the last time Lan Jue had visited. As they neared where the planet had been, Lan Jue ordered Su Xiaosu to pull into an orbit instead of flying in directly. They would try to approach aliens from the side.

    If the aliens knew humans were on their way, they would also likely know where their ships were. In addition, they would be ready for scouts, and a direct incursion would meet with heavy defenses. With some planning they could swing around the side or back and lower their chances of being discovered.

    Ling Ya didn't cause any further problems and contended herself with observing quietly. She recorded everything they encountered along the way and sent everything back to Tyrannosaurus. The longer they scouted the enemy the more she felt Lin Guoguo was important. Whenever they got close to the aliens she would immediately put that strange helmet back on.

    She had to be a psychic of some kind! Each new hint pointed at that possibility.

    "Boss, we've arrived." Su Xiaosu turned her head and looked at Lan Jue.

    "Alright!" Lan Jue left for the resting cabin. They were near the last known location of the alien planet - on the other side of that familiar asteroid belt. Now they had to be takes things more seriously and be more careful. The Paragons needed to be made aware.

    Wu Qiu, meanwhile, was still inwardly praising Su Xiaosu. What a prize she was! Not only was she a masterful pilot, but she seemed to know the Starfields like the back of her hand. It would take the North's own scout teams at least another day to find this place, and that was with guidance equipment.

    Skyfire Avenue really was rife with talent! If he knew that Xiaosu was the once-feared Moonfiend Empress, the shock might have killed him.

    Before Lan Jue and his party left the Avenue, a final decision had been reached concerning the prisoners that had been locked in the Pontiff's dungeons. Two-thirds of them remained to join Star Division and were already training with the soldiers. This served to boost their numbers by close to fifty percent, for a total of over one thousand three hundred men and women. The newcomers were disseminated through the four divisions based on abilities. After body checks they were cleared to begin a strict training regimen.

    The Paragons arrived on the bridge from the other room and took their seats. Their arrival caught the eyes of Wu Qiu and Ling Ya, since they had been entirely out of sight until now. In fact the two Northerners had almost forgotten they were on board. What was their purpose, anyway?

    Lan Jue returned to Xiaosu's side. "Let's go!"

    "Aye aye!" She barked her reply, then plunged Zeus-1 into the asteroid belt.

    The Driver took his helmet off and joined Lan Jue at the controls. "I'm more or less done assimilating what I learned. One more round and the transformation will be complete. I'm still suppressing my Discipline but it feels like I can't hold it much longer. What should I do?"

    Lan Jue smiled. "If you can't hold it back then let nature do what it does. But as it is now completing the transformation will probably force your breakthrough. Let's wait until we get back and you can complete the process there. Otherwise it'd be a waste."

    The Driver chortled. "I never thought the day would come - but here I am worried I'm too early. When we get back, then."

    What were they talking about? Ling Ya watched the men with sharp and curious eyes. They might as well have been speaking in riddles. Breakthrough? To what, the next level? That man was likely a ninth level Talent, too, but what would he be nervous about 'breaking through' into? Wu Qiu didn't understand either, but they were here as a friendly attaché, so he couldn't use his Discipline to find out more about the soldier.

    Once they entered the belt's magnetic field 2 Zeus-1 began to shake. Lin Guoguo was in a meditative state, ready for a surprise attack. An asteroid field would be the best place for the creatures to ambush them so she had to be ready. To avoid detection she had to be react at a moment's notice.

    However, for all their anxiety things seemed safe. It looked as though they would make it through the asteroid field without incident.

    "We're nearly at the mission area. Mother, you and the others get ready." Lan Jue turned his Luo Xianni and the Wine Master, sitting nearby.

    The two of them rose, helmets still concealing their identities. However Lan Jue's sentence had taken Ling Ya by surprise.

    This commander actually brought his mother on a dangerous scouting mission? Nothing in their intelligence briefing about Star Division said anything about the commander's mother being a part! He was supposed to be an orphan. His brother, they knew, was the Eastern super soldier who recently broke through to Reflection of Heaven and Earth - Admiral Lan Qing. But, he was supposed to be an orphan as well.

    Luo Xianni and her nephew stood shoulder to shoulder. They quietly felt the ebb and flow of energy outside the ship. Jue Di wasn't here to protect them this time, so they had to be ready to flee if things turned bad. Otherwise, they risked destruction at the hands of a powerful alien.

    The Gourmet, Pauper, and Clockmaker stood as well. They occupied different corners of the bridge. They were ready to lend themselves to the fight. Each of them hand their hands resting on a metallic orb that was affixed to the ship by a rod. From the outside they looked like they were meant to keep them steady, but Wu Qiu knew better. They were used to infuse the ship with Discipline.

    All of them were strong Adepts? Was this whole squad...

    1. They say when someone's talkin' ** about you, you sneeze. It differs, I think, from place to place but specifically they say; one sneeze, someone's cursing you. Two sneezes, someone's missing you. Three sneezes... you're sick, go see a doctor.

    2. Which seems unlikely, he might have meant gravitational field.
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