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Chapter 848: Jue Di the All-Powerful

    Chapter 848: Jue Di the All-Powerful

    Other than Lan Qing himself, Jue Di was the only one who knew the whole battle strategy. The Violet Prince's estimations had been correct in that if he hadn't blocked Tyrannosaurus' shot - if he'd elected to dodge - Lan Qing had been ready to turn Middle Heaven into a weapon. Terminal Ray would have been used to carve a path, and the bastion would detonate itself against the home worlds and Europa.

    With Luo Xianni aboard, they would have been teleported to safety before the detonation could claim them. The plan had been dangerous, but the chances of the alien planets escaping from such a dramatic play unscathed were slim to none.

    Though it required Lan Qing to gamble with his life, Jue Di knew his son was ready to give his life for the cause.

    When the admiral had discussed his plans with Lan Jue he'd been the picture of calm, but in fact his heart was in turmoil. As commander he had to send his only brother into the heart of the enemy's forces, perhaps to die. He had no choice despite the stabbing protests in his heart.

    In secret Lan Qing had told his father that he would not retreat until Lan Jue returned safely. He would give his life to give his brother a chance, if necessary. This made him more dangerous than the aliens realized for he could detonate Middle Heaven at any moment, and as captain of the ship he would not be easily convinced to abandon ship.

    At the time Jue Di had said little. But as a father how could he stand by and watch his son with his own eyes? His greatest pride was his two sons and the men they had become, even more than his own accomplishments. If they survived the conflict those young men would grow to be more powerful than he ever was. Perhaps they could even create an immortal realm and live forever.

    Lan Qing wasn't the only one willing to give up his life for the opportunity of another's future.

    The Violet Prince appeared like a ghost before Jue Di. He could sense that the human was suffering greater than he from the pressure of universal protogenia. Jue Di's life energy was weakening.

    At last he was free from the power of the humans' strongest deterrents and could take the offensive. In combination with the Princess-blade he was sure he could at least entangle Jue Di and keep him from wreaking havoc on the battlefield. Once the avatars could rejoin the fight the tide would change in their favor. The bastions would be destroyed, then they could deal with the situation on their other flank.

    Clang! The ringing sound burst through the air. This time it was Jue Di who staggered backward.

    With the strength he possessed Jue Di could defend himself with few worries, even with the Prince and Princess attacking together. However it had been many long years since his ascension to the Infinite, and the punishment that universal protogenia had wrought on him had only gotten stronger with time. The effect on his vital energy was severe. Now, after fighting so hard with all of his might, the cost was tremendous. Were it not for his dharmic reflection one would see his hair had gone completely white.

    "Release!" Jue Di growled the word, and a burst of energy issued from his astrum. Beams of light illuminated tens of thousands of mirror images of the Compliant Rod hovering in space around them.

    Ward of the Jade Palace! Lost knowledge of the Staff of a Thousand Strikes style - and among its most draining moves [1. This one really sent me down the rabbit hole. When looking up the strange combination of character it lead me to a poem by none other than Mao Zi Dong. I'm sure I'm not doing it justice but I'm reading it as; The Golden Monkey bears his cudgel / The dust clears ten thousands li around the Jade Palace / We cheer the arrival of the Great Sage Sun (the monkey king) / For the monsters have come again. According to what I read on the internet this was written as an artistic way for Chairman Mao to decry the actions of the Soviet Union who, at the time, was disparaging of the Chinese communist system. It's meant, I think, to evoke the imagery of the great monkey king clearing away all enemies.]

    Once more the Violet Prince was thrust back, and the other elite were forced farther from the confrontation.

    Dazzling light blazed in Jue Di's eyes as the golden light around him was released to create a vortex of energy so mighty it threatened to swallow everyone up on both sides. His already tyrannical aura surged by several orders of magnitude that manifested in a supernova of energy.

    Reality around him rippled from the strain. Universal protogenia was thick in the air and its promise of complete destruction washed over the Violet Prince like a suffocating tide. He stumbled backward in fear.

    Normal aliens and humans existed without fear of universal protogenia. It was of no concern unless one reached vaulted heights of power, and only then did one learn to appreciate and fear it.

    Lan Qing watched from within Middle Heaven's control room. Throughout the battle his features had been calm, even cold. But now he stared in nervous surprise. He knew what Jue Di was doing.

    "Father!" Lan Qing couldn't stop himself from gasping in alarm. Emotions roiled within him, outside of his control.

    A gentle hand fell upon his shoulder. When Lan Qing turned he saw the tear-streaked face of Luo Xianni.

    "You must continue to command your troops. Don't lose focus." She said in a soft voice.

    "You knew?" He asked through his shock.

    She answered him with a smile that was full of sadness and pain. "A parent cannot sit by and watch their children give their lives. We are willing to face any danger to ensure your safety. He made this decision a long time ago, anxious for the opportunity even. He's been deceiving you - those crystals we've found have only ever had a very limited effect on his vital energy. For years he's been one step away from godhood, and has struggled against universal protogenia because of it. In ten seconds he's going to perform a miracle just for you. Don't squander it, child."

    Lan Qing's body shook visibly, but the light in his eyes was resolute. Whatever pain was eating him up within he couldn't show, for he was the leader of humanity's last stand. The soul of their resistance. If he broke down now his father's sacrifice would be for nothing.

    He forced himself into a state of numb serenity and proceeded to deliver a string of orders. Middle Heaven began to fire in earnest, but ignored the elite aliens. Poseidon began the process of its transformation.

    The halo of light around Jue Di grew more intense as time stretched on. Universal protogenia - typically invisible - aggregated around him in rippling streamers of light as it tried to constrain the Paragon. So far it was unable to stem his flood of power.

    Jue Di's body began to shrink until he returned to his normal size. Then, a strange energy pulsed out from him that erased the shell of copper light he emitted. It was replaced by a soft white-gold haze.

    "Immortal qi... so this is what it feels like." The ghost of a smile touched Jue Di's lips. Beneath the shimmering light he looked like a man in his twenties with a handsome heroic face. Red light flickered in and out of existence behind his eyes. His staff became solid gold.

    The fear that gripped the Violet Prince was so intense he forgot to press the attack. Even his weapon, the Princess turned steel, seemed to shake as the scene unfolded. The two of them could feel Jue Di acutely and the power he commanded, and they recognized it as the same sensation they felt from Monarch. The alien ruler could not employ their full strength once they reached this level of strength - not because it couldn't, but because it didn't dare.

    What Jue Di released went far beyond the Infinite and into a new level entirely. Even universal protogenia could feel the pressure of might this lofty. For this reason the universe answered with ten times the power, resulting in apocalyptic destructive force.

    Once Monarch became this strong, it and the others 'became' planets to protect themselves. It was how they survived until now. Ever since then they had explored any means to combat universal protogenia, finally culminating with this attempt to evolve.

    Now, before their eyes, this human was pushing himself to the same level. Was he not afraid of what universal protogenia would do to him?

    Dozens of desperate thoughts shot through the Prince's mind. First the first time, retreat was among them.

    But it was too late.

    Jue Di but glanced at his staff and it took on a life of its own. In a blink the golden weapon carved out another circle, though much smaller than the first. However, despite its size the power that surged from it swallowed up all the alien elite, including the Prince and Princess. Before anyone could react they all vanished, along with Jue Di himself.

    Emptiness. Nothing remained of the Paragon or his enemies.

    All of the alien horde's commanders were gone, sending the beasts into chaos. Middle Heaven sat in their midst, a burning globe of orange as its weapons fired at full capacity. The heat was so intense An Lun's mantle was beginning to melt.

    Poseidon's transformation completed and once more the towering mechanical mecha and its trident appeared on the battlefield. It thrust the enormous weapon into the enemy's midst, and together with the help of the drones they mounted a counterattack.

    ξ

    Within an expanse of golden light, Jue Di stood tall and proud as though he were the center of the universe. Be it the Prince, Princess or avatars, all of them had shed their humanoid shells and hovered in the light in their natural forms. Even still they were nothing before the all-pervasive might of humanity's greatest Paragon.

    Slowly he pointed with the head of his golden staff, aiming at the Violet Prince.

    The Prince's reaction was to lash out with his Princess-sword as quickly as possible. A tear appeared behind the beast, trying to pull him from this reality.

    However all it took was a flash of red-gold light from Jue Di's eyes, and the fissure was sealed.
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