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Chapter 711: Don’t Be Na?ve

    Chapter 711: Don't Be Naïve

    After candidly explaining their problems and suggesting solutions, Lan Jue returned to his seat.

    Suddenly encountering the Violet Princess during their last mission had shaken Lan Jue deeply. At his level of power, and with the Pharmacist's help, they only managed to survive by luck. In reality perhaps the only person who was sure to survive a scouting mission was his father. However, his father had long been under threat by universal protogenia and couldn't use his powers over long periods. Every time he used his abilities it was like taking years off his life.

    So Lan Jue's greatest hope was that humanity find some way to use technology to solve this problem. If they could, it would be a huge weight off mankind's collective shoulders.

    After Lan Jue's short speech, military leaders and researchers alike sat in contemplative silence.

    The morning portion of the conference was done. For the afternoon the delegates would be separated into their respective specialties. Military leaders would gather to discuss how to direct their armed forces while scientists would ponder how to bring technology up to the task.

    Lan Jue and his brother left the hall, when suddenly they were stopped.

    "Commander Lan Jue, Admiral Lan Qing. Can I invite you out to dinner?" Kang Hui's earnest voice called.

    Lan Jue shot his brother a glance. "Of course."

    A pleasant smile split the Northern admiral's face, "Excellent. Please come with me, gentlemen."

    The cafeteria was a plain place, as was the fare. A fourth person had joined them for the mean along the way - Yan Yuan, Admiral of Heron.

    Yan Yuan, unlike Kang Hui, had had his command stripped and not returned. Although Heron had managed to escape without loss of life, returning it to full functionality would be painfully expensive for the North. But at least he'd lived.

    "Commander Lan, Yan Yuan and I would like to propose a toast to you. Since we still have meetings in the afternoon tea will have to take the place of wine." Kang Hui lifted his glass, followed soon after by Yan Yuan.

    Lan Jue, a smile on his face, lifted his glass in salute and took a sip.

    Kang Hui went on. "It feels like the old world has passed, things are different now. When First Fleet sacrificed itself I will confess, I thought it was in vain. I didn't think we would come back from that doomed mission. We did, thanks to you and your Star Division. I am ashamed for what happened after. Although I can't go into details, I can tell you that none of it was at my command."

    Lan Jue waved a hand. "What is done is done. We all answer to someone, it's nothing to fret over. But if we want to have any chance against the aliens, the only way we can do it is together. Otherwise it's a slow march toward destruction."

    Kang Hui nodded sagely. "Indeed! Our internal leadership finally realized the truth of that sentiment, that's why we're holding this conference. Only when we stand together and fight hard against our foreign enemy will be succeed. Commander Lan, do you plan to lead your army on another scouting mission?"

    Lan Jue's heart jumped. Kang Hui had called it an army, not a scout team. The meaning was clear.

    After thinking for a moment, he responded. "In scouting the enemy, especially if you plan to harass them, you must first consider safety. Of course we won't stop trying to learn more about what we face, but we must choose the best people for the job. As I told the conference what we need is technology that can meet our needs, anything that can assure our safety. If all we're doing is courting death, then even if our people can handle it psychologically the losses we've suffered are pointless.

    Kang Hui nodded his head. "I understand. Take heart, Commander Lan. We will do everything within our power."

    Lan Qing never spoke a work. He sad by his brother's side and quietly ate his food.

    Finally, Yan Yuan tried to engage him in conversation. "I've heard so much about you, Admiral Lan. What do you think about our situation? Do you have any suggestions for what we should do?"

    Lan Qing raised his head and regarded the two Northerners. "I have nothing to say. Show your strongest hand and hide your weaknesses."

    It was a sweeping phrase with no specific meaning, but when it came from the super soldier of An Lun it filled them with confidence. Even though they were commanders as well, Kang Hui and Yan Yuan looked at the young admiral in surprise. No wonder he was the East's youngest, most lauded leader. Beneath that calm was a stealing determination to show what he was made of.

    "You seem confident," Yan Yuan couldn't help but say.

    "Confidence isn't in the things you say," Lan Qing replied. "It's in the things you do. I am confident that I will meet these aliens one day, and when I do I will fight with the full extent of my abilities."

    Lunch ended, and the four men returned to the conference hall were delegates had broken into their groups. Lan Jue and Lan Qing separated as well, Lan Qing sitting with military leaders and Lan Jue meeting with researchers. He did so for two reasons. First, he was a powerful Adept in his own right, and second was his scouts would lean heavily on technology to do their jobs in the future.

    Talk continued until dusk. By the time it ended tired representatives dragged themselves from the conference hall.

    "Come with me." A deep voice stopped Lan Qing and Lan Jue as they were preparing to leave.

    Lan Jue's eyes sparkled, and surprise alit Lan Qing's features. Both of them turned their heads in one fluid motion, searching for the origin of the voice.

    Large and imposing, the Terminator stood nearby. Everyone who passed bowed and scraped in their passage.

    ζ

    Qiu Xiaochen was leaving the hall when she spied Lan Jue and Lan Qing out of the corner of her eye. Her steps quickened and she tried to catch up, but not because of some mission given to her by the West. In fact, it was because she was honestly interested in these two young stars of the East.

    Young, handsome, similar in appearance but very different in nature, they were outstanding members of their generation. Who wouldn't be interested in getting closer to people such as them?

    However, as she neared she was surprised to see them stride off in another direction. They were headed toward a man who always made her feel like it was harder to breathe.

    The Terminator! The strongest man in the North, and the second most powerful Paragon on the Paragon List.

    They wanted to speak with the Paragon?

    Ah, but of course, Lan Qing was also a Paragon. Lan Qing's recent ascension was no secret. Nor was his title; Peerless Light Emperor of Middle Heaven. But subconsciously it was easy to forget and simply see him as Admiral of An Lun, or super soldier, or Prometheus. She had to remind herself that he was now a Paragon, and a Reflection of Heaven and Earth at that.

    Why are they speaking to the Terminator? Something about Adepts?

    Qiu Xiaochen stopped in her tracks. She couldn't just walk over, she was in no position to trouble people of their stature.

    The Western general's voice interrupted her thoughts from behind. "Never mind."

    She looked back. "Oh, general."

    "I don't know what's going to happen," he sighed.

    This seemed to surprise the Colonel. "You mean you don't know how the war with the aliens will go?"

    He answered with a small smile. "No, I mean I don't know what will happen to the West. The North is on the cutting edge of technology, and has a powerful army. The East has the most powerful Adept organization in history. Both of them will fare well against the alien threat, and the East seems poised to become the next super power. But us? Although the West is the leader in genetic research we're nonetheless a step behind in understanding the exuvium process. Our military is not much stronger than the East's. We have two Adept organizations at odds with one another, whose leaders have deigned not to show their faces for some time. The future of our alliance troubles me."

    Qiu Xiaochen was unsettled by his words. "But we have the Poseidon Group!"

    When she thought about Hua Li's beautiful face her face adopted a tinge of red. Like many young women Poseidon was a secret crush.

    "Do you really think Gobi Entertainment or the Poseidon group are part of the West?" He asked. "Xiaochen, you're old enough to know better."

    ζ

    Not far away a man smiled - an easy, simple smile that drew near every eye his way. As a Paragon he could hear every conversation that was happening in the room. He had planned to speak with Lan Jue, but like Xiaochen was stopped when he saw him and his brother move toward the Terminator. In truth there was no need for Hua Li to come to this conference in person. He'd come because he knew Lan Jue would be here.

    It was as the Western general said, Gobi Entertainment and Poseidon Group were not officially part of the West. They didn't accept nor exert any direct influence on Western affairs. Poseidon Group belonged to Poseidon Group.

    Hua Li was the sole leader and representative of Poseidon Corps. With the aliens on their doorstep, how the Corps and Group reacted was important, where they pointed their power was significant. He wanted to discuss this with Lan Qing and Lan Jue, and see where he could offer his help. The foundation of such a cooperative was trust, and they trusted Hua Li more than they did the West.

    Outside of the conference hall a large bus was waiting. It had been arranged for the military leadership, chief among whom was the Terminator. To the North he was more than just a man, he was a symbol. To the North he was like a god among men.

    Lan Jue followed the Terminator onto the bus. Much to his surprise, while the bus looked luxurious on the outside the interior was anything but. Rows of plain but wide seats stretched to the back and that was all.

    The Terminator sat, and although the bus was wide he made it seem cramped. His dark features were calm and solemn.

    "I'm bringing you to a place where you and I can spar, Lan Qing. You should begin to prepare."
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