Chapter 701: Restructuring

    Chapter 701: Restructuring

    The Bookworm was the one to answer. "Ships won't work. It can be put into their weapons, but ship guns spread vital energy too thin. We can't concentrate Discipline enough to pierce their defenses. As far as our tests have shown, mechas are the most suitable weapons. They deal the most damage while providing the highest rate of survivability for the Adept. Outfits like our Star Division are particularly effective against them for this reason."

    The leaders around the table nodded their heads in understanding. Star Division's success, they knew, would also translate into a higher standing for Skyfire Avenue.

    The Keeper continued. "We've given the results of our experimentation to the military already. They will share it with the West and North soon. I believe they will create Adept armies of their own once they learn of their efficacy."

    The Wine Master turned to Lan Jue. "Jewelry Master, as commander of Star Division why don't you tell us about how it's doing?"

    He responded with a nod. "At present Star Division is one thousand five hundred fighters strong, all Adepts of varying degrees. It is split into four brigades: First Brigade specializes in close- and fixed-combat; Second Brigade is composed of area- and long-range fighters; Third Brigade is recon and support; and Fourth Brigade is specialists."

    "As I said, Third Brigade is our reconnaissance and infiltration team. Fourth Brigade deals with logistics, rear support and coordination. First and Second brigades are mainly combat. They are subdivided into units of ten soldiers each, led by an eighth-level Adept or higher. We encourage our fighters by rewarding them with loot and vital crystals, based on merit."

    "Currently all of our people have been outfitted with customized mechas that play to their Disciplines. Results have been exceptional. I dare say that Star Division is stronger than any group of comparable size. Calling us a 'Division' may not be true in terms of numbers, but our accomplishments earn us the name."

    "We cut our teeth clearing out pirate strongholds in the Shattered Starfields. We were victorious is every mission. Star Division encountered the alien planets on Moonfiend and fled with one casualty, we've been building up arms and personnel since then. While we can't compare to the destructive capabilities of a Bastion ship or interstellar fleet off-planet, we can do just as much damage on the ground. With Paragons counted among our numbers, I believe we could compare to a Bastion ship in regards to sheer cataclysmic potential. After all, a human can go where a planet-sized ship can't. If we can infiltrate a Bastion, we can take it."

    The Keeper chortled. "That might be a little ambitious. After the Violet Prince's attack on Tyrannosaurus, the Alliances are taking a closer look at internal security."

    Lan Jue paused, then chuckled in spite of himself. "This is a good thing, a little pain to learn their lesson. Alright, that's all I have to report."

    The Wine Master glanced at him. "In order to better protect Skyfire and by extension Skyfire Avenue, we've agreed to make Star Division part of the conventional Eastern army. We will fight the alien threat together, and toward this end I suggest all Paragons lend their strength to the cause. Star Division and the Eastern army would benefit greatly from your participation. Jewelry Master, as commander you can assign us as you please."

    Inwardly Lan Jue glowered at his old friend. The old bastard was leaving him all the responsibility. But he wasn't wrong, it was Lan Jue's job, and one he couldn't avoid.

    "After some thought I've decided it makes little sense for the Paragons to be disseminated among the Brigades. The way we're set up it wouldn't be fair or useful to other members of a Paragon's ten-man unit. Further, Paragons aren't best in mecha suits. They're more than strong enough without them. In conclusion, I feel the Paragons should work as independent actors - essentially their own Brigade. They can be dispatched on strategic missions as is most suitable to their abilities and the situation."

    The Wine Master regarded him with a faint smile. "An interesting thought. I have no opinion on the matter, it's up to you. So who should lead this Paragon Brigade?"

    Lan Jue had already accepted his friend's fine gift of alcohol. There was no recourse but to do his duty. "It has been very difficult to find a suitable candidate, and I've thought long on the problem. I don't know enough about your individual leadership skills, so for the moment we'll keep the post open. I'm open to suggestions, and would like to hear what our illustrious Paragons think."

    The Keeper was first. "I don't care, so long as I'm not called out on too many missions. The Bookworm and I have a great deal of experiments that must be attended to."

    I know, Lan Jue muttered internally.

    "I agree," the Wine Master said.

    None of the other Paragons had opinions to share.

    While the Paragons seemed numerous on paper, the truth was somewhat different. The Keeper and Bookworm were scientists and wouldn't participate much in field work. The Wine Master and the Clockmaker, meanwhile, would be leaving for who knew how long. The Pharmacist was dealing with personal issues, so really the only Paragons Lan Jue had under his command at any one time were the Gourmet and the Pauper. As for Luo Xianni, she wasn't even here! He never really counted her among them, anyway. How could he presume to order around his mother and father?

    The Wine Master pretended not to notice his sour expression. "The Clockmaker and I will be leaving tomorrow on a task of our own. We hope to convince two more Paragons to join us. During my absence all matters of leadership for Star Division and the Avenue will be handled by the Jewelry Master. He will temporarily replace me as chairman of the Skyfire Council. If anyone has any thoughts or objections they my share them now."

    No one spoke. They all felt Lan Jue was a fine choice.

    A thin voice broke Lan Jue's appreciative mood. "Look at you, Lei Feng. Congratulations, I knew the Wine Master was shopping around for a patsy." The Coffee Master's voice spoke directly into his ear, thick with mirth.

    Lan Jue quietly replied. "You want the damn job?"

    The Coffee Master chuckled. "That's no good, everyone sees your skill - you're our first choice. There's no escaping duty, Chairman! Work hard."

    "Jewelry Master," the Wine Master broke in, "things have been arranged with the army leaders. They would like you to contact Fleet Admiral Lan Qing as soon as possible and dispatch Star Division to link up with his forces."

    "Alright," Lan Jue answered with a nod.

    Star Division had been to An Lun before, but that had been for training. Now they were going to become part of the illustrious An Lun forces. It felt strange to the Jewelry Master.

    "Will we remain an independent force or must we comply with their commands?" Lan Jue asked the Wine Master. He trusted his brother, but Lan Jue's loyalties were to Star Division and Skyfire Avenue, whereas Lan Qing served at the pleasure of the East. It was better to understand their role clearly from the start.

    He explained. "We're a relatively independent adjunct force. If you're given an unreasonable directive you are free to refuse, but our standing orders are to support and protect the An Lun army and Skyfire. In general you will adhere to their requests - I'm sure the so-called super soldier of An Lun will be cooperative."

    Lan Jue nodded, he of course had faith in his brother. It just felt strange, especially since An Lun was so distant from Skyfire. How could they protect something so far away?

    The council went on for a while longer, discussing details bringing Star Division's resources with them to An Lun. It seemed like the best decision, for if by some tragedy Skyfire was destroyed at least some of the Avenue's assets would remain intact. An Lun was a military base, and so was far safer than Skyfire.

    After the session conclusion Lan Jue made his way over to Jun'er, still seated quietly in the back. He lifted her up into his arms.

    "Have you been good?" He asked, running a hand through her hair. She'd only grown bigger and more beautiful in the time since he'd seen her last. Jun'er was definitely blessed with her mother's fine genes.

    "I've been very good. I get to play with the stars every day, it's so much fun! Do you want to come with me to see the stars?" She asked.


    Following her lead, Lan Jue went with Jun'er to the former Clairvoyant's room. When he opened the door they were bathed in gentle starlight.

    Jun'er wriggled to get free of his embrace. When she did, a beam of starlight fell over her, and she floated into the air. Surrounded by that cosmic light she looked like a young goddess.

    Lan Jue's eyes narrowed unconsciously as he felt the waves of power coming from her. However, he was surprised to find that something was hidden from him - he couldn't feel how strong she had become.

    "I'm already eighth rank." She said, like she'd read his mind.

    Lan Jue gaped at her. Eighth rank?
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