Chapter 823: The Golden Titan

    Chapter 823: The Golden Titan

    After breaking through to Nirvana, the Terminator's abilities surged to new heights. His combat prowess was the stuff of legends. All of the problems of his construction that held him back before had been resolved, effectively transforming him into a congenital Talent. A real Nirvana-level master.

    His appearance now was intended to turn away the enemy and give his human comrade an advantage.

    The Violet Prince's eyes flickered with a cold light, and whatever dark purpose crossed his mind was shared by the beast below him. The enormous creatures hurled itself forward, leaving the Prince and Princess behind in the emptiness of space. Every meter of its snake-like body squirmed and writhed as it raced for the titans. When it arrived the monster whipped around and lashed out at the golden line with its tail. Where the appendage passed the universe seemed cleaved in two.

    The golden titans glowed with an aura of tungsten light. As the evil wyrm's tail came crashing through they they did not flee. None of the enormous images ducked or dodged, simply taking the beating head on. However, something strange was revealed, for as the titans were struck they were not destroyed or thrown away. Instead they stuck to the tail like plaster, melting into an adhesive liquid that coiled around its body.

    One after the other they suffered the lash of the monster's tail, only to stick tenaciously to it. Even as large as the creature was, the weight of these titanic defenders was proving to be more than it could stand. Its tail began to droop, and as it did the liquid gold reformed into a titanic image even larger than before. This one was over ten thousand meters tall, dark skinned and heroic - the Terminator. He channeled the powers of Nirvana through himself to create this unique, melee fighting style.

    Dozens of savage dark-gold spikes erupted from the Terminator's flesh and dug into the monster. As it brandished its tail, desperately whipping it about to free itself from the Terminator's clutches, the humongous Paragon only dug in deeper. Aliens too slow or too foolish to move were smashed to a fine mist as the Terminator was flung around.

    The massive alien beast roared in pain and frustration, struggling with ever more violent maneuvers. But the Terminator would be removed, no matter how valiantly it struggled. The two were locked in struggle between the two armies.

    Star Division took this opportunity to catch their breath. Under Qianlin's restorative Domain they quickly began to recover their strength and stamina.

    The Pharmacist and Driver split up, each going to the opposite flank to defend against aliens trying to get around. On the planet below railguns were still firing. The aliens still could not find a way through the defensive line.

    Lan Jue's cold, hard eyes glared at the Violet Prince and Princess. The aliens didn't have the upper hand yet, but they also had yet to advance on the humans with their full strength. Victory or defeat rested on whether the two alien generals could be dealt with.

    A strange look played across the Princess' face as she looked upon Lan Jue. A stream of purple light shot forward quicker than anyone could react. In a blink, she was standing before Star Division's commander. Her hand reached out for him.

    Lan Jue didn't know much about the enigmatic alien royalty, but he did know her to be as strong as she was cruel. He saw her intentions in her eyes moments before she acted, and stood his ground fearlessly.

    Lan Jue and Qianlin, blades in hand, struck back. They reacted as one, slipping seamlessly into the posture Apparent Close-up.  Focused flow combined with the Taiji style was both majestic and dignified. Lan Jue faced the Princess' advance as solid as a lofty mountain.

    Qianlin's Thousand Swords as One technique together with the posture was agile as the wind and gentle as spring rain. The motion simultaneously sealed any escape and slipped into every opening. 1

    Their movements were mirrored, their intentions one. Harmonious Swords. The rainbow-colored light that emerged between them formed a shield that blocked the Princess' aggression.

    Bang! The moment they made contact the rainbow light expanded like a detonation. The violet light that had threatened to swallow Lan Jue up was deflected away like waves against a Cliffside.

    Both Lan Jue and the Princess didn't budge, attack and defense evenly matched. All of the other Paragons were thrown back by the force of the Princess' charge. However in the midst of their shock they also breathed a sigh of relief. Qianlin and Lan Jue, hand in hand, could stand on their own against an Infinite-level foe.

    Lan Jue's reaction was internal, his exclamations ringing in his heart. Not long ago he was little more than a thorn in the Princess' side, hardly above the worth of a stray dog. Where before he had no choice but to flee from her, now he could stand against her power.

    After their temporary isolation, both he and Qianlin were more familiar with the nature of their protogenia. This was also true for their Harmonious Swords technique. Jun Yongye and Xuanyuan Shishi taught them that it wasn't necessary for them to pour all of their energy into the technique. The Harmonious Swords were about application of swordsmanship in combination with intention. A little internal energy could go a long way when paired with technique. Not only did this reduce the energetic cost, but also made their attacks stronger.

    The most important part of their isolation had been studying the Harmonious Swords. Now they put this new knowledge to good use in defending themselves against the Violet Princess.

    Surprise was revealed on the alien royalty's face. She hadn't witnessed Lan Jue's breakthrough herself, only heard the details from the Prince. While she always recognized his potential, she still assumed him to be her inferior. He was not an adversary, but a potential mate. Now, though, she began to wonder if her determination was wrong. Perhaps this man was stronger than she gave him credit for.

    In the moment of collision she had felt a strange power resist her, causing space and time to collapse. This collapse stymied her powers and kept them from spreading out, instead being swallowed up by the void. It was swiftly followed by the sensation of a hundred thousand needles digging into her soft flesh. If she had continued her attack she might have even gotten hurt. As such she had not yet countered Lan Jue's Harmonious Swords.

    The two Paragons shared a look, seeing each other reflected in the depths of their eyes. As one, they reached out again with their Banishing Blades. Red and blue light burst forth, mingling together into a panoply of color. The Harmonious Swords, giving shape to the depths of human vengeance!

    The spirits of the swords arose unhindered as a torrent; focused flow, ten thousand swords as one.

    The rainbow of color took on a life of its own, flaring with incomparable force. The breadth of its power filled space.

    A cold anger glinted behind the Princess' eyes. Ten dagger-like nails sprang out from the tip of each finger and she swiped at the air. Purple streamers followed in the wake of her claws as she tore at the righteous light. Then she pulled her arms apart, as though trying to rip the emulsion of the Harmonious Blade in two.

    Vicious and feral, that was the alien fighting style. Both Lan Jue and Qianlin felt their protogenia destabilize as it came under assault. Suddenly the Princess' power was everywhere all at once, surrounding them in her terrifying presence.

    Just as she seemed to have them in her clutches, the Princess' face changed. Her suffocating bearing weakened, and instead of the light of the Harmonious Swords being ripped apart she staggered.

    The light pushed back, struck her, and forced her back. However Lan Jue could see it didn't cause any lasting damage. With powers that were borne of the Infinite, her resilience was legendary.

    Ka-cha! The Violet Princess was painted pink from head to toe as the sound of a camera shutter snapped in their ears. She was frozen in place. A menacing aura as powerful as her own descended upon them. It was so stifling it almost made Lan Jue and Qianlin drop their weapons.

    A light as brilliant and mesmerizing as beams from heaven shone from on high. Everything outside of the god rays darkened to nothing. All the rest of the universe seemed inferior to what was appearing before them.

    For the first time, fear was plain on the Princess' face. She wanted to struggle but found she could not move. Lan Jue shared a mysterious smile with Qianlin and then, suddenly, they vanished.

    A towering staff descended in the midst of the golden column of light. In fact the light was radiating from its bronze surface. Reality tore itself apart at the borders of it, like everything they knew was being swallowed in a sea of black holes.

    All light, all energy was swallowed up by the staff. In the distance the Violet Prince stared with pale face, but couldn't run even if his legs would let him.

    Somewhere far away they both heard the derisive grunt. The Violet Princess was encased in a shell of purple light that burned away the pink that had been holding her.

    The staff crashed down upon the crown on her head. The blow threw her thousands of meters away.

    The purple light cracked and fell away like an eggshell, followed by spider web fractures slithering all over the Princess' body. She began to slowly disintegrate, but was saved from destruction when another shell of purple energy enveloped her. Despite this she continued to bleed profusely. After suffering such a tremendous strike, she could no longer control the form of her body.

    Jue Di appeared by Lan Jue's side. His hard, cruel eyes glared into the distance. "Give me everything you've got. If you can."

    Silence answered him. The Violet Prince had recovered the Princess and returned her to his side. Clearly she had suffered a nearly mortal blow. Her beautiful face was pale and streaked with blood, and her eyes wide with fear and alarm. She had felt death coming for her, sensed her essence fleeing.

    Lan Jue narrowed his eyes in thought. From the start he figured the Prince and Princess would make an appearance. By virtue of the ten Paragons on the human side, he was confident that even with royalty as their adversaries they could hold them. The Prince and Princess were strong, but they would not bring the Avatars and leave the solar system's interior entirely undefended.

    1. It's been a while since my Taiji days, and any practitioner in the comments please feel free to correct me. Apparent Closing-up is a defense/counterattack posture. I don't think there's an equivalent in the sword form, but hand-to-hand the intention is to draw your enemy in while they attack, force them to overextend, then strike back. In Taiji pay close attention to the center of mass of the practitioner, their upper body remains relatively immobile, it's their feet and core which moves. The posture begins with the defender leaning onto his back leg, keeping the attacker's target out of reach or - if the defender's been grabbed - pulling them off balance. When the attacker moves in, the defender's hands drop to either deflect the blow downward, or grab the attacker's wrist and give them a subtle tug off balance. Since they've already overextended and are no longer 'rooted' (meaning maintaining balance through good footwork), the defender rolls forward with both hands, pushes up from the ground and shoves the attacker away. If you do it right, you can really send people flying.
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