Chapter 748: Middle Heaven’s Protection

    Chapter 748: Middle Heaven's Protection

    Most military leaders were obedient enough to head the retreat order. But the commanders of the Citadels were thirsty for riches and chose to ignore them.

    "We have our own ships. We'll stay and take out some more of these creatures, it'll be fine." The Pontiff cooly gave the command.

    Satan, on the other side of the planet, cursed under his breath. "Bastard. He dares to disobey my orders. Are vital crystals worth more than your lives? You have five minutes to get your asses back here."

    In contrast to the Pontiff's Citadel, Satan's people had not continuously suffered at the hands of Lan Jue. Though he was greedy, he was less desperate and more sensitive to commands. Despite his covetous nature, he understood that live was more important.

    "That was an order to retreat, do you hear me!" Satan's angry shout crackled through the Dark Citadel's communications channels.

    "But, your Majesty, the vital crystals..."

    "Idiot! Do you think the army strategists are stupid? Do you think they'd order a general retreat for no reason? I'm leaving, if you want to wait here for death then so be it."

    Satan screamed, his heart filled with a disquiet he couldn't put his finger on. It had only gotten worse when he got a message from the daughter he'd been estranged from for years. The note was simple.


    Seeing her name on his communicator stirred a host of complicated emotions, but chief among them was unease. Without it he likely would have reacted much the same way as the Pontiff.

    Satan relayed the order to Lucifer, telling them to retreat as quickly as possible. The Paragon didn't bother with a ship and instead shot through the air by virtue of his own power, and into space.


    "What are they up to?" The Violet Prince shut his eyes and tried to penetrate the disturbance with his psychic energy. But he was thwarted by the scale of power of it, only succeeding in causing himself more pain.

    The Princess was grasping at straws. "Perhaps it is a precursor to their invasion? These are what the humans call 'interference waves.' We mustn't wait, it's time to act."

    An ominous lint glinted in her companion's eye. "You're right. Whether they're attacking or fleeing we must react."

    They exchanged a look, then suddenly vanished in a tornado of purple energy.


    Zeus-1 and Majesty blasted through Monteux's atmosphere at intense speeds, fleeing the battlefield. Moments after speaking with his brother, Lan Jue had alerted his troops. They were the first to gather by the transport ships in preparation to withdraw. Construction of the base and railguns had continued, though robot engineers were left the task. This perplexed the enemies and gave the humans cover for their retreat.

    When the EMP missiles struck, the ships were guided into orbit by pilot experience alone. They fled the area with exceptional discipline.

    Detonating a planet took time. No matter how strong the aliens were, a world that was the result of several millennia of compression wouldn't explode with a word. It needed to undergo a process. However, no one knew how long that process would actually take. If it was on the shorter side, retreat might already be too late for those on the ground.

    What's more, only heaven knew the scope of a planetary explosion. How far would its destruction reach? They'd never bothered to calculate how much energy these worlds contained in their cores, or how resilient they were. Every planet was complicated and unique.

    However, beyond all question the explosion would be catastrophic.

    Lan Jue stood in the bridge on Zeus-1, his hand wrapped around a metal rod. He continuously flooded the ship with his Discipline to give it the energy needed. The light spat from its engines were a brilliant gold. Paragons on Majesty were doing the same.

    Star Division's commander scowled, his face dark with rage. Lan Jue's fury was not simply because of the loss of these planets. It reminded him of the half-healed wounds deep within himself, of the darkest period of his life.

    Hera had perished under similar circumstances, had she not? When that planet exploded Lan Jue felt like his soul had been in the center of it. For years he was inconsolable, and the path to recovery had been long and difficult.

    These beasts - they were unthinkably cruel!

    If they had not discovered the alien plot, the humans' plans would have proceeded. Their ships and bastions would have retaken the planets and begun reconstruction. None of them would have been able to flee when the plants exploded. Perhaps the bastions would have survived, their defenses were strong, but the fleets and all their soldiers? How could they have survived the raging destruction of a planet at close range? Countless lives would have been lost in an instant.

    It would have been an unprecedented loss for humanity's military. Without a means to fight back, it would have spelled the end of their species at the hands of the alien menace.

    Although Lan Jue and the men and women of the Alliances had learned a great deal about their enemy, their boundless cruelty and cunning continued to surprise. It was not easy to devour several planets' worth of energy so fast, yet they did. What's more, the energy required to detonate a planet was enormous. In order to prepare so quickly, it meant this had been their plan from the beginning.

    Lan Jue's first terrified thought was that they couldn't think like humans if they wanted to fight against these monsters. The alien planets were no longer here, and whether they teleported away or left by some other means their target was somewhere else.

    They were exactly as intelligent as Lan Jue suspected, which was why it seemed so strange for them to choose such an indefensible position as a place to evolve. Humanity's armies were a threat, so they did whatever was necessary to stop them. Callously obliterating billions of lives and four planets was a passing thought, tools to use to their advantage.

    It was frightening how accurately these beasts were able to judge human reactions. They knew how the North would be forced to react if their planets fell into enemy hands. They would have no choice but to come with their full might. They even anticipated mankind would fret over their ability to teleport, and painstakingly kept that possibility alive in the minds of their prey.

    Were it not for Jun'er and Jue Di's efforts, they might have succeeded. Even if only half of their ships were lost, a third of their bastions, humanity would never had joined together again in mutual defense. Leaders and politicians would have chosen to look after their own, to flee in the face of overwhelming adversity. But by then the alien teleportation abilities would make them invincible. They would hunt down and kill the humans with impunity until they got the DNA material they needed. With mankind's armies in disarray, nothing would stand in the way of their domination.

    How many humans would remain if that were to occur? Would it really spell the end of their species? No one knew. The universe was a dangerous place, and they didn't have any hidden strength to depend upon. It was all unsettling conjecture.

    Yet the heavens seemed to favor humanity. It had given them Jue Di, Jun'er. The Clairvoyant...

    Zeus-1 was moving so fast the view outside its windows were a blur. In an instant they were looking back at the rapidly shrinking Monteux. Majesty kept on its heels. Although the battleship was larger by a fair amount, it had its advantages. Its equipment was top of the line, and had several Paragons as support to ensure it could keep up. However, the ships would need repairs after being so dramatically overloaded. The intense speed and flow of power damaged their internal components.

    Before long Lan Jue spotted Middle Heaven looming nearby. It was easy to pick out - after all, it was a planet!

    Middle Heaven was also on the move, and Su Xiaosu calculated a trajectory to bring them around its far side. Once in position they cut their speed and pulled into one of the bastion's docking ports.

    Lan Jue let himself relax, just a little. He was confident in Middle Heaven's defenses. So long as they weren't too near the blast, they would survive. But then he realized they were moving toward Monteux, and didn't appear to be slowing.

    After a moment of panicked confusion, Lan Jue understood. As he listened to communications passed along commanders he discovered five others were doing the same. Only two of the bastions weren't pulling out to the front.

    The bastions were going to use themselves to block the blast.

    Bastions were the pinnacle of human construction, and that included their defenses. They had the best chances of surviving the blast of a planetary explosion. Although humanity's forces were in full retreat, the planets could detonate at any moment. The bastions were determined to deflect as much of the blast as they could to give their people a chance.

    It called to mind memories of Tyrannosaurus, when Admiral Kang had used the ship's bulk to defend his fleet from the alien asteroid shower. Now Lan Qing and five of the North's bastions were preparing to do the same. They tightened ranks, and waited.
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