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Chapter 818: Goddess!

    Chapter 818: Goddess!

    Every minute was a battle for a life and death, so no one spared any effort in supporting the soldiers on the front line. They cheered and praised even though the benefits were meager. At least the soldiers had no regrets, and they felt their odds were improved.

    Lan Qing, Kang Hui, and Hua Li focused this passion. They were heroes to all of mankind, and their victory of the alien horde had imbued the people with hope. There were rumblings among the Northern populace, asking why they hadn't sent more troops with Tyrannosaurus. The politicians had no words to answer them. Sometimes the people's sentiment changed with the wind.

    The nervous buzz was almost palpable as people waited for news - good or bad.

    Middle Heaven, Tyrannosaurus, and Poseidon flew on in v-formation. It had proven to be the best arrangement, capable of defending against enemies coming from any direction. In a departure from earlier, the supporting fleets were not around the bastions but within their formation, flying in the spaces between them.

    This had been Lan Qing's idea, and the purpose behind it was simple. Bastions were the most defensible ships humanity had produced, and were best suited for protecting against strong alien offenses. The supporting vessels were more effective when they didn't have to worry over protecting themselves. Nor did they get in the way of the bastion's armaments.

    The drawback was that this formation was anything but agile and their speed suffered. But, like a hedgehog, they could bristle up at the first sign of an enemy and be ready for battle. None of the fleet commanders found fault in the decision to use this formation, including Hua Li and Kang Hui. With so many lives under their command they were glad safety was considered. It cost them more time, but it was better than costing lives unnecessarily. In the vastness of space there was no shelter and their foe could appear at any time.

    Another battle could erupt at any moment, one that could mean defeat for them and their species. Every soldier quietly waited for that moment to arrive.

    Lan Jue, Qianlin, and the other Paragons had all been left on Angel. This time their group included the Master of Wine, Bize.

    Granny Bess, as she had once been known, had absconded to the Barrows while the army was making its preparations. There she explained their situation to Aubert de Villaine and both Paragons had returned together. It was strange to have the man among them, appearing as a sentient knot of vines, but he was still a Paragon. Any help was appreciated and improved mankind's chances.

    Star Division had also been left behind. Their role as rear defense was important, and no one knew what the aliens would throw at them, if anything. It was wise to assume the monsters knew the armada had left Angel, leaving their back exposed.

    "Temporary residents of Angel, your attention please. Heed the recording."

    The planet-wide announcement captured everyone's attention. Survivors from all seven planets had been gathered here, but it didn't feel crowded. Many had lived, but many more had died as a result of the alien aggression.

    Over the last several days the survivors had started to settle down and reestablish themselves on the planet. With the army's help they'd managed to accomplish much in a short period of time.

    As resources continued to flow in the residents were at least able to live with some small measure of comfort. They still needed to have food brought in to sustain their colony, however. Recreational areas had even been constructed, so that the people could gather and hear news from the outside.

    Holographic images appeared all around the planet, piped through the existing infrastructure that survived the attack. There was no functional concept of family anymore, and everyone was huddled in homes with whoever else needed shelter.

    "Our soldiers have been dispatched to Europa, ready to give their lives for the future of our species." The image changed, showing the three bastions and twelve fleets advancing toward the system's center.

    The viewers answered with shock and anxiety. Could they win? Was there a chance? As the thought flitted through their minds an invisible fear gripped them. If the army is gone, what will we do, they thought.

    Yet as the fear took hold the picture changed again. Rows of imposing artillery appeared before them.

    "We know this can be frightening, but take heart. Our planet is well protected by a defensive array no less than ten times stronger than Angel's had been originally. These installations will protect us from any enemy presence and guarantee your safety. We ask that you go about your lives normally and wait for news of victory from our heroic warriors abroad."

    The impressive guns calmed some of their fear, but these citizens were still survivors of a very recent catastrophe. The moment of confidence was short-lived, replaced with dismay over their future.

    Of course they had planetary defenses before the aliens arrived! However even if they bolstered these system, would it be enough to protect them against another attack? Now that the allied forces were moving in for the final battle, did that mean they'd abandoned them?

    The survivors of this tragedy were the elite. They were smart enough to recognize this problem after only a moment's thought. But what could they do? There was nowhere to run, were they just to remain here and wait for death?

    The holographic message wasn't finished. The picture changed again.

    "We have a message from a familiar person - or perhaps goddess is a better name."

    Goddess?

    Through the haze of panic the survivors turned their attention back to the broadcast. They gaped in disbelief at the image that greeted them. It was a woman, in a spotless gown of lily white with black hair that fell down her back. Her azure eyes sparkled like stars and were full of warmth.

    She was beautiful... a flawless beauty like the immortals of old. So absolute was her purity that no hint of profane contemplation dared cross the onlookers' minds.

    She really was the goddess!

    None of them had forgotten, in their moment of great pain and desperate need, the face of this beautiful woman. That infinitely merciful face was forever burned on their soul. But at the time she had been a thousand meters tall, a blazing image suspended in air like a guardian angel. This time she appeared before them as a woman - a real flesh and blood person - though no less stunning.

    Was it truly her? Their goddess? The question rattled through their shocked minds.

    "Salutations everyone. I am Zhou Qianlin. My Paragon title is Guanyin, Queen of Heaven." Her voice was soft and gentle as a spring breeze. The sound of it alone was soothing as the survivors listened, rapt. Some of them recognized the voice from the time of their salvation. It was even more soothing than they remembered.

    Guanyin, the Queen of Heaven - Zhou Qianlin. A Paragon? This was their goddess? Paragon was a title that affected them profoundly, for to the common man Paragons were nearly indistinguishable from gods. It confirmed their conclusion that she was super human.

    It was her, it was certainly her. She had been the one who saved their lives.

    She smiled warmly, and to everyone watching it was as though she was looking right at them, right into their souls. As they watched she was surrounded by a halo of white light, followed by the appearance of the large dharmic image they knew well. There was no doubt she was their savior.

    "Please, be at ease. I am here with you, along with ten other Paragons. You have not been abandoned, just left in our care. So long as we draw breath no harm shall come to you."

    The images of the other Paragons appeared beside her. Several of the faces were ones they knew, such as the Pontiff, the North's mighty Terminator, and luminaries from Skyfire Avenue. Their presence confirmed their goddess' status.

    Many fell to their knees, faces streaked with tears. Life was precious, more important than anything, and this woman had gifted them new life in the wake of disaster. Now she stood before them and promised to live or die by their side. Their fear and panic was washed away, replaced with an abiding reverence.

    She was a true goddess!

    ζ

    Even before the broadcast ended, Qianlin helplessly felt the surge of faith pouring into her. There was nothing to be done for it, after discussing it with the others everyone decided it should be her to soothe the masses. After saving so many it didn't matter that no one knew who she was, her influence was lofty as the heavens. Even the Pontiff paled by comparison.

    Calming the populace was integral to keeping them safe. These intelligent and capable people would still play an important role in their fight. So it was she came before them and entreated calm, to great effect. Not only was their fear allayed, but their fervent support assured.

    Called reverberated through the planet; I fight with the Goddess, they cried! Angel rang with the promise of duty.
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