Chapter 733: Confluence

    Chapter 733: Confluence

    Once Zeus-1's wheels were safely on the tarmac Lan Jue, Jue Di and the Pharmacist disembarked. Lan Qing, the Wine Master and the Clockmaker were waiting for them. The welcoming party was not big, but not small. Of course they weren't there to welcome Lan Jue, he knew. They were there for Jue Di.

    Lan Jue walked forward quickly and with a pleasant smile. "Wine Master! It's been a while!"

    The Wine Master stared back at him with a flat, cold stare. He breezed right past Lan Jue and bowed before Jue Di. "Your Majesty, we're sorry for troubling you."

    Jue Di waved him off. "It's no trouble running after my own boy. Find me someplace quiet, and call me when the fighting starts."

    "Indeed, we already have something prepared for you. Aunt is there waiting for you, I'll take you there." The Wine Master rose and lead the way personally.

    The Pharmacist walked over to Lan Jue's side and nodded respectfully to the Clockmaker. "I'm sorry. All of this was my fault. I've caused a lot of trouble."

    The Clockmaker smiled back at her. "Misfortunes may sometimes be a blessing in disguise. What is done is done. Come, everyone is waiting for you."

    Lan Qing walked over to Lan Jue, then. He patted his brother's shoulder and offered a nod of acknowledgement for the Pharmacist. He said nothing, just turned and left, as cool as ever.

    The Clockmaker led the two of them to a verticar. After clambering in Lan Jue spoke. "How's the situation?"

    "Unclear," she answered with a low voice. "But we think the people on those four planets..."

    Lan Jue's face darkened. After so long, the chance of finding any survivors was close to zero. Five percent of the total human population, gone in a blink of the eye.

    The Clockmaker went on. "The enemy is cunning. They've turned the four planets into defensive fortresses with a huge number of aliens standing watch. They've managed to completely cut us off from any information. The North has attempted several scouting sorties but all have failed. Some of their Bastions have also tried to get close enough to harass them, but have been repelled by the defenses. The commands are also hesitant to bring their ships in too deep for fear they'll be trapped. So, we find ourselves in a stalemate. Full-on assault is our only option."

    Lan Jue frowned as he thought. He hadn't anticipated their foes might lay a trap like this. If they relied on the normal aliens alone they would be no match for bastions and their fleets. But, by virtue of the four planets as advance guard, no one knew the condition or actions of the alien planets themselves. If the planets were not yet distracted by their evolution an attack would be dangerously premature. No one could tell how much power their enemy would bring to bear.

    "What's the North's plan?" Lan Jue asked.

    She obliged. "After hearing you were on your way His Majesty the Terminator has chosen all-out assault on the enemy position. Whether or not the planets have begun their evolution, now is the time. Our hands are tied, but the North has faith our bastions can effectively fight back. This isn't the Starfields, its home territory and they don't have the benefit of cover. Representative forces from every Alliance has gathered here for the final charge. Even if the planets aren't distracted, so long as they don't teleport away we have a chance to rout them."

    Lan Jue nodded in understanding. "So it is, but for some reason something doesn't feel right."

    "Oh? How so? Is there a problem with the information you've provided?" The Clockmaker asked, surprised.

    Lan Jue shook his head. "No, the data we recovered should be rock-solid. It seems like they're waiting for us to come in for the attack. From everything we've seen we know the monsters are intelligent. So far they've had the upper hand in every encounter. They must know the sort of power the Alliances plan to throw at them, but they're just waiting? To say nothing of the fact it seems outside of their character."

    The Clockmaker's brows scrunched tight. "But the arrow's already knocked. It wouldn't make any sense to call it all off now, unless we can get some reliable information on the planets themselves."

    Lan Jue's voice was resolute. "I want to try. Can we tell the North to let us try a scouting mission? We'll slip passed the enemy's lines and find the planets. Once we confirm their status we can begin the attack."

    "Alright," she answered. "I'll alert Admiral Lan. He'll have the Eastern forces let the North know."'

    Lan Jue nodded, determined to succeed. While other missions may have met with failure, he knew the monsters well. All of Star Division and his five Amazons would be called on. Between Lin Guoguo's abilities, Zeus-1's technology and their familiarity with the aliens, slipping through the aliens' defensive encirclement shouldn't be impossible. After all, Skyfire Avenue was lousy with Paragons these days. On top of it all they had the full might of humanity behind them. If they ran into trouble they could call for the assault to begin and use that to their advantage.

    The verticar found its destination and settled to the ground. When Lan Jue stepped out, he was met with a sight that stirred him deeply.

    Row upon row of smartly dressed Star Division soldiers stood in perfect formation. They snapped to attention the moment he appeared.


    Lan Jue stepped forward, standing before the fighting force he'd forged. His heart was filled with the mighty vigour that poured from them.

    Standing at the fore were Skyfire Avenue's Paragon, and another familiar face. A stooped figure, a head of white hair and a pair of sharp eyes drew his attention. It was none other than the one who forced the blood connection between he and Qianlin, the one who'd gifted him the Arrow of Compassion. One of the great Gods of Wine - Bize Lilou!

    The Wine Master must have been successful in convincing her to help. However, absent was the other god of wine they'd met, Aubert de Villaine.

    The Infernal Vanguard, Arcane Magnate, Karmic Scholar, Arhat of the Descending Dragon, and the Wine Master were all present. Of course, there was the Pharmacist and Clockmaker by his side. A host of Paragons. 1

    The East's representation in the world of Adepts could only be described as overwhelming. Do not forget that the Astral Phantom, Lan Qing, Luo Xianni and Jue Di also counted among their number. Ten Paragons arrayed for battle! That kind of power was able to shake the pillars of heaven.

    Among them Lan Jue also felt another presence and a close friend. The Driver. He grinned at Lan Jue from the crowd. His gruff exterior had undergone a change, and the whole of him seemed more refined. Physically he was larger, and spiritually he was more restrained.

    He broke through! He had become a Paragon, a fact that sent Lan Jue's heart soaring. It meant an even stronger position for the East, and humanity. It was important to remember that he commanded yin-yang lightning, which made him stronger than your average Paragon. The Arcane Magnate and Karmic Scholarly likely wouldn't beat him in a spar.

    "I apologize for worrying everyone." The Pharmacist spoke, not waiting for Lan Jue to address his soldiers. She took a step forward and bowed low at the waist.

    "Mama!" The clear voice rang through the air like a ray of sunshine, and a little body pushed her way through the crowd and into the Pharmacist's arms.

    The Pharmacist, a women wrought from iron, crumbled before the tiny girl. Tears streamed from eyes as she hugged Jun'er tightly to her.

    Regret surged through her. "I'm so sorry, Jun'er. I'm sorry. Mama shouldn't have left you, I won't go running off like that again. I'm sorry, my baby."

    Jun'er's eyes were dry, her tiny face beamed a smile at her mother as she patted her back with a small hand. "It's ok, mama, everything will be fine. I knew daddy would bring you back. We'll be together forever. I missed you mama."

    The Pharmacist kissed Jun'er's cheek and didn't speak further.

    Lan Jue came over to the two of them and gently ruffled the girl's hair.

    The Wine Master interrupted. "No time for discussion. We need to prepare for the attack. How are you?"

    Lan Jue paused. "I'm fine... what is it? Has the fight already started?"

    The Wine Master nodded. "The North has alerted us that they will be starting soon. Star Division is to offer its support. We're off to war."

    1. What would you call a group of Paragons? A gaggle? A murder? A school?   ED: A hoard? A pack? ... hmm, a pack of Paragons... I like the alliteration. Sounds kinda weak though. Plethora! A plethora of Paragons!
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