Chapter 709: The Conference

    Chapter 709: The Conference

    His words rang with power and passion. Much to everyone's surprise, he began with justification of the North's failed actions while admitted its failure.

    Kang Hui sat stony faced on the second row. Lan Jue was also expressionless.

    Among politicians every sentences had a meaning. However, the President wasn't playing politics. His words were encouraging, to the people and to the arms forces. That's what they needed now.

    "Our government has chosen to reinstate Admiral Kang Hui. He shall continue to lead Tyrannosaurus against our foes. In a moment the Admiral will share with us the details of the operation so we can understand what in the world happened. But more importantly, what we learned."

    Kang Hui stood, and as he did the overhead lights caught the four golden stars on his shoulder. With determined steps he took the podium, and the lights dimmed as a holographic image appeared in the air.

    The images flickered. Frozen frames from the Tyrannosaurus' recordings.

    "Yes, we lost. The reason for it was primarily a failure of understanding the enemy. I stand before all of you today to tell you - unequivocally - that however strong you may think these monsters are, they're stronger. We have had time to analyze the data we've recovered and have since shared it with all of you. We did this because when the time comes for us to defend ourselves, we hope it will help us all against the alien enemy."

    Kang Hui's words were sincere and passionate. He went on to explain the planning and execution of the mission, the Bastions plans, and ultimately their fate after meeting the alien planets.

    Whether it was Tyrannosaurus' botched fight, Heron desperate escape or Arachnid's destruction, no detail was spared. Kang Hui shared all he knew easily and without reservation. Everything was locked in his head, and never once did he have to refer to a sheet to provide the data.

    Lan Jue listened intently. What he shared with his people was from a spectator's perspective. Kang Hui's knowledge came from a position of leadership.

    It took the Admiral about an hour to relate the battle from start to finish. His eyes were red when he told them about Ying Tianlong's final charge, and Arachnid's decimation. Never once did he speak ill about the two fallen commanders. The only words he had for them were tales of heroism and strength.

    "At this point I would like to offer my sincerest thanks..." He turned back, and looked at the rows of chairs behind him.

    "We invited Star Division's scout team to participate, due to their previous experience with the aliens. Despite their credentials, I will admit I had my doubts before we set out on our expedition. However, the more I worked with them the more their abilities were proven. What you ladies and gentlemen may not be aware of, was that Star Division's scouting party consisted of five Paragons. Due to this deep well of ability they were able to time and again escape from the jaws of death and return with information crucial to our understanding of the enemy. Thank you, commander Lan Jue. Without your help Tyrannosaurus would have succumbed to the enemy's traps. If you hadn't come to save us from the Violet Prince the operation wouldn't have even gotten off the ground. On behalf of everyone who served on Tyrannosaurus, thank you for everything you've done."

    As he spoke, Kang Hui saluted Lan Jue.

    Lan Jue respectfully stood and smiled at his brother in arms, but said nothing.

    Once Kang Hui finished relating all the information about the failed battle he returned to his seat.

    The Northern President's deep voice broke the silence. "After our ships returned, we set about trying to see what we could learn. We examined everything that was obtained from the Starfields and set about analyzing every bit of data we had on the beasts. Now, this includes the results of Eastern Alliance's own research, which we've used to help make our findings more complete. His Majesty the Terminator will now take the podium to tell us all we know of the aliens."

    Surprised mutters rippled through the hall. They didn't expect the Terminator to give the report himself.

    The North's ultimate convert rose to his feet, like a mountain ripping itself up from the roots. When he took the podium he offered no flower address. His booming voice rattled the walls.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, what Kang Hui said is absolutely true. These monsters are worse than our most terrible nightmare. Like the Admiral I, too, would like to first thank Skyfire Avenue. Their preeminent researchers, known as the Keeper and Bookworm, were the first to learn the secrets of our enemy. From them, we've learned a great deal."

    "According to research, the first thing we were able to discover was that these creatures are like us; biological. Where they differ - and what makes them frightening - is their need to consume. Their zeal for growth and evolution is all-consuming. They do this by devouring their prey, and using their genetic material to perfect themselves. It is this process that makes them strong, it is this process that makes them a threat."

    "We have evolved as well. In the former era the average lifespan sat around fifty years. Now it is not uncommon to live one hundred and fifty years. In some special cases we can live to be three hundred. This is thanks to evolution. However where we are changed over long periods of time, the aliens can evolve almost immediately."

    "We now believe that these aliens began small - a single-celled organism. As they consumed other living things they grew and changed. We suspect the three alien planets arose from that humble place. From the higher cast of these creatures we've learned their names. The largest is called Monarch, the one that fought against Tyrannosaurus. Empress is the second, the one that destroyed Arachnid. Heron narrowly escaped the third, Consort."

    "Nothing can match the ever-changing nature of these monsters. While they may look like planets, they are as alive as you or me. Think on that for a moment. They react in a fight by instinct, faster than any machine we can create."

    "In the East they say the universe is ruled by an invisible force. When a single creature becomes too strong, that invisible force descends upon it. I know that many in the North and West's science community believe that to be hogwash, but as a Paragon I can tell you it's absolutely true. How do I know? Because I can already feel it. It isn't clear, but it's there."

    "Undoubtedly, the power these planets possess is far beyond any human alive - possibly stronger than thing that has ever lived. They have evaded the rules of the universe by concealing themselves as celestial bodies. We suspect their increased surface area diffuses the pressure from the universe and makes it more bearable. While the hypothesis remains to be proven, it does fit in with what we know."

    "What this means is that while it may look like a planet, we are facing a living thing - a strange, enigmatic living thing.  I suspect that not only do they gather live energy for their own evolution, but also to keep their leaders alive. If that's the case, then the data we have begins to make sense."

    "Nothing is perfect, everything has a flaw. I do, as I'm sure every Paragon does. Nothing is undefeatable, and these aliens are no exception. According to what the Keeper and Bookworm have learned, the weakness of these beasts lies in their very DNA."

    The Terminator went on. From his words Lan Jue could tell the Northern Paragon believed in the data from Skyfire Avenue. That meant he believed Paragons were the best weapon humanity had against this powerful foe.

    "During this last attempt, we were denied the precious vital crystals. For all we sacrificed, we didn't even come close to what the East offered in their auction. But we can count the lives we spent trying to get them. What we learned was that other aliens would gather up the crystals left behind. We saw it clearest when Arachnid came under attack. You all saw the tentacles that came from Empress. Most were involved in containing Arachnid, but several others can clearly be seen gathering vital crystals."
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