Chapter 763: Separate Action

    Chapter 763: Separate Action

    An enormous purple hand a thousand meters across came down from above to try and swat the Pharmacist from the sky. She fearlessly advanced with her weapon leading the way. There was a flash of white, a pained scream, and suddenly the Pharmacist was through the hand like it was nothing.

    Lan Jue, holding tight to Qianlin's hand, lifted into the air as well. They were almost immediately surrounded by the light of their swords; Captus red, and Demortus blue. They were both inspired by the power of their brother Occisus, and pulsed with stifling power. With their swords held high they joined the Pharmacist in her charge toward the Monarch's doppelganger.

    Waves of energy surged from the alien like an angry tide. It punched at the Pharmacist, forcing her to retreat before turning on Lan Jue and Qianlin. It reached out to grab them.

    It was Lan Jue's first time fighting a creature like this. All of a sudden he felt as though everything around them was their enemy. The world wanted them dead. An unspeakable pressure pressed in from all sides, pure energy suppression - the same method he'd used to seal the Wine Master's Domain.

    He leapt to the side to block Qianlin. With a flick of the wrist he carved out an angry red circle with Captus and everything within it imploded. A burst of energy shot out with enough force to catapult Lan Jue and Qianlin from the battlefield. They were gone, the pressure that assailed them collapsed on empty space.

    This was the joining of Captus and Taiji.

    In the next instant Qianlin sprang up from behind Lan Jue. She swiped her weapon, birthing a hail of blue barbs that filled the air. A hundred thousand bursts of Demortus' cutting bite raced for their target. Lan Jue was not idle and thrust his sword into the circular patch he'd carved in the sky. Though the movement was simple, the strength of the power it exuded had the weight of a thousand pounds behind it. Like roaring waves it burst forth, sweeping through the pressure that had threatened to crush them.

    A column of white light descended from above them, bearing the murderous aura of Occisus. Through the aid of her Righteous Slaughter Domain the woman had never encountered a battle she couldn't overcome. She was harder to fight the longer it took. Now that she was a Paragon the power of her sword was amplified greatly, and even the doppelganger's mighty capabilities couldn't deny her. For every onslaught that was rebuffed she returned with something stronger.

    All of a sudden the alien shrunk, dramatically reduced to the size of a normal man once again. It stretched out its right hand to brazenly deflect the Pharmacist.

    It was going to use its own body to contend against Occisus?

    Ting! The Harbinger Fairy was violently thrust backward, the monster's puissance was simply too great. Yet it did not escape unscathed. A deep cleft had been cut into its fist which leaked poison vapor.

    Occisus was truly a legendary weapon! It was foolish for any living thing to try and stand in its path.

    Lan Jue and Qianlin linked hands and advanced. He cut toward the beast, focused flow! Behind him another river of blue power emerged - ten thousand blades as one!

    Though the two lovers could employ the Harmonious Swords, their individual styles still complimented each other. Calm, graceful, strong. The emulsions from the two Banishing Blades flickered as they surrounded the Monarch's copy.

    "Be careful!" The Wine Master shouted. Lan Jue had no time to react before an inexplicable power rammed into him, sending both he and Qianlin several kilometers away. As he flailed through the air he saw the spot they'd just occupied collapsed into a void of purple energy. IF the Wine Master hadn't acted they would have been killed.

    He scowled. Impotence in this crucial fight was unacceptable. He decided it was time.

    Though he commanded the power of a Paragon, he was not one. It put him at an insurmountable disadvantage against a foe this powerful, he simply didn't have the energy to face him! They were worlds apart and no special weapon or substance could close that gap. After all, the enemy they faced was at least equivalent to Nirvana.

    Comparatively the Pharmacist was doing much better, relying on none but herself and the strength of her weapon. Despite the alien's superior abilities it feared Occisus and had learned the dangers of getting too close. The Pharmacist and the blade were as one, and together they restrained the destructive power of the doppelganger to where his advantages could not overcome her.

    The Wine Master leapt into action, joining her in the life or death struggle.

    All of the humans together couldn't equal the strength of the alien. For this moment their focus was to restrain the beast. To this end the natural constraints of human vitality, and Occisus power, created a stalemate.

    "We've got this handled, continue with the mission. I'll get us out when you're finished." The Wine Master's voice spoke directly into Lan Jue's ear.

    "Alright." Lan Jue made the decision, following the Wine Master's suggestion. Right now they served no purpose here, and would only get in the way. They could use the Harmonious Sword technique, but it would be draining and best saved as a last resort.

    Lan Jue and Qianlin disappeared into Thor's cockpit once more. The mecha lurched forward at incredible speed. The doppelganger turned as though to follow but was quickly cut off by the Pharmacist. Indeed she was becoming harder to manage as the fight continued, and the light from her and her weapon was unlike anything they'd seen before. Every strike was possessed of indomitable power and righteous intent, leaving the beast with no chance to catch its breath. Frightening as the sword was, the Monarch's copy didn't dare disregard its lethality. If the human bearer struck it in the vital crystal, it would be no more.

    He could also sense that the Wine Master and Pharmacist were beginning to flag. They were relying on their strongest abilities to defend themselves, but that could not be maintained for long. Soon they would tire.

    Once it fled the battle, Thor darted through the sky like a fish in a stream. In a blink it was moving at top speed. The violet royal's appearance had scared off the other aliens giving it space to maneuver. A clash of Paragons was destructive enough to cause real danger simply by getting too close.

    This was their chance. With Lan Jue at the controls Thor quickly covered ground toward the far side of the planet. With every kilometer that passed he was more astonished by what he saw; ground nearly black from poison and buildings on the verge of collapse. Not a single living human was anywhere within radar range.

    More striking were the thick tentacles that served as the progenitor's arteries. They were writhing and prominent like varicose veins that all pointed in the same directions. If he didn't know better he could confuse them for the meridians of the planet itself.

    Of course a planet didn't have meridians. It was obvious what these arteries belonged to.

    He continued to race forward, eventually crossing over to the back side of the former human world. Immediately he saw that it was dark and gloomy, and his mind was invaded with a strange sensation.

    Something, he didn't know what, wasn't right. Something he should be noticing but wasn't.

    The gloom was an unnatural violet in color that hung over everything like a mist. He could feel within it a lurking presence, potent and all-pervasive.

    Ah! Suddenly he understood. Something felt off ever since he'd come to the planet but he hadn't been able to put his finger on it until this moment. This planet wasn't rotating.

    Every cosmic body had its own rotational properties, even stars. Something that had no rotation whatsoever was exceedingly odd. Because some planets were slower than others to make one circuit it was sometimes hard to tell.

    "Thor, access planetary data. Check to see if any of the other planets we've encountered have a rotation." Lan Jue ordered the on-board AI to check the scouting data they'd accumulated up to this point.

    "Yes," the suit responded.

    A few moments later Thor confirmed Lan Jue's guess, none of the planets were moving. They were perfectly still.

    One of the dangers of a planet losing its rotation was forcing it out of orbit. It would go from a stable path to an enormous asteroid. That was a disaster both for the planet itself and all of its neighbors.

    The aliens were capable of more than just destroying planets, they could stop them dead in their tracks. But why?

    Thor continued on, and when it reached the far side of the planet, in that world of gloom and violet, Lan Jue could see far into the distance. His mouth fell open.

    What he saw, he would remember for the rest of his life.

    What was it?

    The veins that slithered across the planet's surface gathered all together at a single point, and rose into the sky as a single column. It was similar to what they'd witnessed on Monteux, but this artery was at least a hundred times larger! It was like a straw rising from the world out into space that squirmed and wriggled. 1

    "Thor, rise!" Lan Jue shouted the order and Thor reacted immediately. He ascended with no concern for hiding, and no concern for the myriad aliens that waited in space. He was somewhat surprised that he didn't encounter any of the beasts as he rose. Soon he peaked over the clouds, through the atmosphere, and into space.

    1. Interesting note, the motion of your bowels and digestive tract - that wave-like motion that pushes things along - is called peristalsis. That's what this artery is doing.
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