Chapter 801: The Mission Continues

    Chapter 801: The Mission Continues

    The alien home worlds' main objective was not the destruction of humanity, but completing their evolution and establishing an immortal realm of their own. It didn't serve them to wipe out the human species, and it was a task that would be much easier once they became god-like.

    All the possible scenarios raced through Lan Qing's mind. His train of thought was precise and clear.

    Lan Jue and Qianlin had finally become Paragons, and Luo Xianni was now part of the Infinite. Both of these happy circumstances went better than expected. After breaking through Lan Jue was no weaker than the An Lun admiral himself. With the addition of his Harmonious Swords, he and Qianlin were incredibly effective on the battlefield, inferior only to Jue Di, Luo Xianni and the Terminator. The Northern Paragon would be hard-pressed to contend against their combined strength if ever he had to.

    With their advancement the total strength of the human attack force soared. Their initial victory against the aliens had been achieved with minimal losses. But it remained to be seen if they could keep this momentum through the final battle.

    "Report!" An anxious voice called out.

    "Speak!" Lan Qing's eyes popped open and turned toward the messenger. Current standing orders were to bring any important information to him immediately.

    "We've just received correspondence from Scout Team 16. They report two of the planets are no longer purple." As he spoke the messenger hurried forward and handed Lan Qing the data in his possession.

    Lan Qing looked it over. A small smile spread across his face - his father was indeed Jue Di! The strongest human alive wasn't just something they called him. If the purple color was draining from them, it meant the progenitors were dead and the planets were freed. Only Jue could accomplish such a magnificent feat in so short a period.

    "Have we received any information from the scout teams heading for Europa?"

    "Not yet," the messenger replied. "They should be arriving at their prescribed location within an hour. So far communications seems normal, but they haven't encountered anything out of the ordinary."

    "Alright, let me know the instant we get any more intelligence." Information about Europa and the alien planets was paramount. They could only proceed once they knew more about the interior of the solar system and the presence of their primary targets.

    As of the latest reports the routed alien forces had regrouped at two nearby planets. However, they've made no overtures to advance, as though they were intending to protect those two worlds in particular. One of those planets was the Terminator's responsibility, and the other belonged to Lan Jue's team.

    No news was forthcoming from the Terminator's strike force. Although, they did know they managed to successfully infiltrate the planet while Lan Qing was busy with the initial assault. Specific circumstances were not forthcoming.

    Lan Jue and his people hadn't moved on to their second objective yet. They were treating the mutated survivors of Angel.

    The problem Lan Qing faced now was whether to concentrate or split his forces. Was it better to attack both clusters of enemies at once, or focus on one?

    The aliens were not adept at long-range fighting, but they made up for it with incredible speed. Most human ships couldn't outrun them. It was how their forces had managed to escape without being obliterated.

    If he split his forces and the enemy set up an ambush it would put them in a dire situation. If he brought his forces to bear against just one group, the other one would be free to harass and possibly retake Angel.

    And so, while their inaugural victory had been inspiring, the enemy had not been routed. The fight was more complicated than ever, and having experienced what a head-on engagement cost them it was difficult to assess how the aliens would adjust their tactics. They would certainly lean on their speed superiority, and to address that would force the human forces to give up advantage in other areas. This was a problem Lan Qing had to consider carefully.

    "We bide our time, wait for an opportunity." Lan Qing muttered to himself.

    Kang Hui had already contacted him once, asking if they should continue the assault. However, Lan Qing vetoed the idea. He chose to allow their forces to rest and reorganize in preparation for the next phase of their plan. He knew now wasn't the time to rush in. They had to establish themselves on Angel first, then they could make their decision.

    The enemy forces were a problem. He had to endure.

    Although the alien planets were almost certainly in the process of evolving, moderation was integral. What he wanted was to create a situation where the aliens would be forced to initiate the attack, and fight on humanity's terms. In this way they could hurt the enemy with the least effort and cost possible. Yet if they didn't overcome the alien forces definitively, assaulting their home worlds would be impossible. Lan Qing saw the problem with acute clarity.

    Beep-beep! His communicator buzzed.

    "What is it?" He asked.

    Lan Jue's voice answered on the other end. "We've worked it out. There are no more infected humans on Angel. Who'd have thought Qianlin's abilities would extend to this. Pretty lucky, eh?"

    Lan Qing smiled. "You and your team rest for a little while, then continue your mission. The alien forces have split into two, and are hiding at the planets you and the Terminator are meant to liberate. I can give you a way in, but you'll need to kill the progenitor quickly and get back as soon as you can."

    "Relax, we have faith." Lan Jue's voice was full of determination. Luo Xianni had now arisen to the same level as Jue Di - a powerful denizen of the Infinite. With the addition of Lan Jue and Qianlin after their sharp rise in strength, the situation was well within their ability to handle. What else need be said?

    Zeus-1 had returned to the planet a while ago. It was waiting for Lan Jue's team to continue the mission.

    Lan Qing went on. "It's wonderful that Qianlin's protogenia can heal the afflicted, but I will remind you that they are not in a position to be saved yet. If you make that your priority you're just putting them in danger. Your objective is the destruction of the progenitor and returning vitality to the planet."

    "Alright, I understand." Lan Jue was clear on his role and his brother's instructions. Their plan had been to clear and retake Angel, not any of the other planets. They didn't have the soldiers for it. If they divided their forces it was just inviting disaster, he knew that.

    A pale light flickered around him as Lan Jue grinned. He'd waited a long time for this day. He was anxious to show off his capabilities.

    After disconnecting with his brother, Lan Jue, Qianlin and Luo Xianni returned to the arena. They gathered the other three Paragons, then contacted Mika and boarded Zeus-1. It was time for them to leave for their second objective.

    Lan Jue and Qianlin didn't need to rest. Healing the afflicted had solidified Qianlin's powers, and Lan Jue had also benefited from using her as a conduit. What's more, Lan Jue was surprised to discover that Qianlin's actions had empowered her with no small measure of faith-based force.

    Without question, the Pontiff enjoyed the highest levels of faith among the human worlds. The Pontiff's Citadel had scores of faithful and years of effort had cultivated a base of followers to support their organization.

    Yet now the Western Alliance was all but wiped out. It was to be expected that their faith would be shaken. With Qianlin appearing as she did to deliver them from torment, convictions had quickly changed.

    The benefits of the power of faith were largely a mystery to Lan Jue, but he was able to sense that Qianlin's Domain was strengthening faster than his. Not only that, but her progress was stable and consistent. This was the benefit of the Queen of Heaven. She had no battlefield utility to speak of, her powers were designed for the salvation of mankind. Giving up one aspect enhanced another. Her strength and prestige were a reward for Zhou Qianlin's pure nature.

    Luo Xianni knelt quietly in a corner, recovering the energy she'd spent while also solidifying her recent advancement. It went without saying that Qianlin's presence was immensely beneficial. Her Domain eased many of Luo Xianni's concerns in breaking through, and served to help her stabilize her new heights of power.

    As the three of them worked in tandem to heal the mutant humans, pushing Qianlin's Domain to its highest point, Luo Xianni had be the most positively affected. Although it had cost her in energy consumption, the stabilization of her protogenia was critical. The more stable her powers were the easier it was to control them, so that she might deceive universal protogenia.

    As she looked at Qianlin and Lan Jue, Xiuxiu's eyes were gloomy. She had always been acutely aware of the difference between her and Qianlin. Now that her mind had recovered, she knew she had no chance with her boss. The other Amazons handled it better, her disappointment was deepest. But what could she do? Emotion wasn't something you could simply will away.

    Zeus-1 roared ahead toward the second planet they were to free. Lan Jue's mind was on the information about their next destination.

    The planet was somewhat smaller than Angel. It was pockmarked with splotches of black due to steady volcanic activity. Of all the eight planets, conditions on this one were likely the worst. It was a blessing in disguise that the human population was the smallest. Still it was a planet rich in natural resources which produced a great deal of rare metals, and thus was considered more important than Angel to the West.

    Its proximity to Angel also influenced its naming scheme. The West called it Demon, as much for the poetry of it as for its special characteristics. Volcanic eruptions acted in much the same way mythical demons did.

    Volcanoes brought destruction, but also new life. Volcanic ash was rich in mineral substances that nourished the earth, so the vegetation that did grow on Demon was rich in vital energy. More than most other planets.
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