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Chapter 707: Acquaintances

    Chapter 707: Acquaintances

    It's him? It is really him?

    Qiu Xiaochen gaped at him open-mouthed. Of course she knew the name, even seen him on T.V. during the Great Adept Tournament. Dressed in a suit, she hadn't immediately recognized him.

    Now, beyond all expectations, he was here next to Admiral Lan Qing. Lan Jue had disappeared from the wider world after becoming champion, but here he was.

    His victory over Titan had deeply affected her. Before she watched him put the convert down, she had had plans of entering the transformation process herself. However, she changed her mind after seeing what happened to the North's second greatest convert.

    She also remembered his heroic deeds, how he had been willing to sacrifice his life for the innocent. He was a real hero!

    Lan Qing, Lan Jue... they were brothers?

    "All set?" Lan Jue asked Ross.

    "Ye... yes of course. Chairman Lan, right this way." He respectfully referred to him by his highest title, chairman of Skyfire Avenue. Any other organization and his title wouldn't have mattered, no matter how flowery. But Skyfire Avenue was different! He was one of the leaders of a group that boasted eight Paragons! Besides, he was a peak-ranked Adept himself, poised to join their ranks.

    Twin rising stars! It was the best phrase Ross could think of to describe these two.

    Qiu Xiaochen followed them with her eyes as Ross led the pair to the front of the room. She looked back at her own superior, unconsciously swallowing her anxiety.

    Lan Qing was delivered to the table atop the dais, as expected, and offered a seat near the middle. Though he was young his merits, military status, and Paragon rank demanded a seat at the high table.

    What came as a surprise to Lan Jue was when Ross offered him a seat atop the dais, closer to the center than his brother. That was to say, in the center.

    Seats of the dais were arranged into two rows. The first row had eight seats, and the second fourteen. Lan Qing was near the center of the second line and Lan Qing near the center of the first!

    At first Lan Jue was shocked and a little confused. However, after a moment he understood.

    It was simple; he represented Skyfire Avenue! Namely, Skyfire's Star Division and its eight Paragons.

    He recovered from his surprise quickly. The North set them up this way for a reason. These guys are competition? Well let's show them we can play nice, they must have thought.

    But far from being grateful, Lan Jue felt disdain.

    Lan Qing sat quietly in the second row. His eyes were closed, as though he were meditating.

    A short while later Lan Jue spied a series familiar face entering the conference hall.

    The first person Lan Jue recognized was the man who had nearly died with him in the Shattered Starfields. Tyrannosaurus' commander, Kang Hui! Though he'd suffered a terrible loss, discerning eyes could tell he had not lost much of his influence. Despite the rumors he'd retained both his command and rank, resulting in a stern rebuke but little more.

    In truth the Northern leadership had no choice. The only person with experience in fighting these creatures was Kang Hui. His knowledge was indispensable to the Northern war effort, and it was that knowledge that saved so many lives. Relegating him to the sidelines now would be unwise.

    So, after a series of intense discussions as to his punishment, it was decided he would work off his offenses on the battlefield.

    Kang Hui spied Lan Jue almost immediately. He approached Star Division's commander with determined steps and, disregarding the stares he received, he extended his hand to shake.

    "Commander Lan, we meet again. Without the help of you and your people I'm afraid..." He trailed off. Circumstances were different now and it was best to say less than more.

    He felt conflicted. He deeply respected this young man - he was capable and smart. But Wu Qiu's mutinous actions had tainted their relationship. Lan Jue hadn't been fooled, bu that didn't mean he knew the whole truth either. How could Kang Hui not be embarrassed by what had happened? Lan Jue had saved his life, and in return...

    Shame caught Kang Hui's tongue.

    But Lan Jue answered with a smile. "Hello, Admiral. I hope we have an opportunity to fight side by side again."

    Kang Hui sighed. "It may not be so simple. We'll speak again later, the conference is about to start." He took his seat on the second row.

    While taking his seat the Northern Admiral was surprised to find another soldier, who looked very much like the young man he so admired. He sat in an honored position like himself.

    "That's my brother. Lan Qing, Admiral of the An Lun forces." Lan Jue's voice whispered in his ear.

    He was surprised for a moment, but recovered quickly. He took his seat beside the Admiral and struck up a conversation. Lan Qing was famously economical with words, but he was happy to speak with Kang Hui. He didn't want to pass up the opportunity to speak with a commander who had first-hand experience fighting the alien hordes.

    Another familiar face came in shortly afterward. Their arrival caused many in the room to rise to their feet in a sign of respect. Military personnel snapped to attention as the Terminator, the North's sole Paragon, entered.

    His enormous stature was like a magnet, everyone's eyes were immediately drawn to him. Lan Jue rose to his feet with all the others. As a Northern leader he also was sat in the first row of the dais.

    "Small waves of the past become tides that propel us forward! The new generation is really something to behold." Of course the Terminator would be able to sense the changes in Lan Jue's strength.

    Lan Jue's response was respectful. "I am undeserving of the praise. His Majesty is just as vigorous as ever."

    This earned a chortle from the Paragon. "Is Jun'er well?"

    "She's doing wonderfully," he replied. "She says she would like to come and visit 'big uncle' sometime when she has the chance."

    For a moment, disappointment flashed in the large Paragon's eyes. "Tell her I'll try and visit when the aliens have been dealt with."
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