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Chapter 882: Striking Out Again

    Chapter 882: Striking Out Again

    His ruminations reminded Kang Hui that Lan Qing's strategy had been right every step of the way. He'd taken advantage of the aliens' desperation to evolve, attacking them when they were at their weakest and diminishing their numbers. The creatures didn't respond, assured in their victory. All they had to do was repel the human forces long enough for the home worlds to ascend. Once they did, mankind would be served up on a platter.

    Ignored and underestimated Lan Qing was able to command his forces masterfully. Bit by bit he gnawed away at the enemy. He began to accumulate victories but never became cocky.

    When humanity's forces ultimately retook the seven planets Kang Hui saw a glimmer of hope. Under Lan Qing there was a chance, albeit remote. His spirit stirred at last and he studiously observed Lan Qing's plans. Kang Hui spared no effort to support this young genius leader.

    In the end Lan Qing's tactics proved true. Through his wisdom and persistence humanity had achieved a miracle. Inch by inch they were fighting back against the forces of destruction. Today they were still fighting for their lives, but the soldiers of humankind were no longer passively reacting. They were taking the fight to the enemy. If there was still time before the home worlds completed their evolution, there was a chance this mission could thoroughly destroy the alien horde.

    Miracle was the perfect word to describe what Lan Qing had done.

    They should call you the Miracle Admiral, Kang Hui mused. Middle Heaven was strong indeed, but without Lan Qing's artful strategies it wouldn't have performed such glorious feats.

    This time, I will be the one to see this mission to its end.

    They had to finish their war on Europa. Whatever the cost they couldn't allow the aliens' reign of destruction to spread farther than it already had. His fellows had already suffered tremendously, and he knew they couldn't suffer much more.

    Tyrannosaurus' energy stores were full after three days of replenishment. Heron flew on its left and Poseidon on its right. Middle Heaven was behind. It was not the primary force in the armada any longer but still was kept in the formation's leadership position, which was also the most defensible. Lan Qing and the other Paragons were there, and although it was depleted it was still one of the most powerful bastions in human history.

    After everything that had happened since leaving the Northern Alliance, there was no doubt Middle Heaven had earned that title. Poseidon's spectacular metamorphic abilities were staggering, but the family's ship still didn't match up to the war planet. Middle Heaven's Terminal Ray was a truly terrifying weapon of mass destruction. According to Kang Hui's calculations there was nothing in all of known space that could survive a blast from Middle Heaven's main weapon.

    The four bastions and ten fleets gradually closed in on Europa. Repairs continued as the armada made its way. Latest reports stated that Middle Heaven was at sixty percent combat effectiveness. Poseidon was at fifty percent, and couldn't transform to its mecha form. Tyrannosaurus boasted eighty percent of its capabilities, and Heron was fresh-faced and ready for battle. As for the ten support fleets that remained, they were operating at eighty percent efficiency.

    Of course, aside from Heron all of the bastions had lost many of their fighter drones. Altogether only a third remained. Heron could only carry three thousand drones, the least capacity of all the bastions.

    ξ

    Pale light flickered around Lan Qing. He sat with a cool and stately expression on his face. The admiral's hands were pressed together before his chest, and light trembled erratically in his eyes.

    He and the Pharmacist had already broken through to Nirvana. With the help of Qianlin's Domain, their protogenia was quickly stabilized. All four of them sat around the vital crystal and the strange apparatus now, silently absorbing the energies it released. The crystal they used now was from one of the Infinite-level monsters they'd slain - the Violet Princess'.

    Her crystal was purer than the others by comparison, but also more vibrant. The energies it released were difficult to control. Half their store of Tears was already spent.

    Lan Jue sat across from his brother, the two women were on either side. Their swords floated nearby, for as they absorbed the vital energy they also needed to explore the secrets of the Banishing Blades.

    The mysteries of the Banishing Strategy went far beyond their understanding of the systems of energy. In many ways the power of the Strategy was a sort of protogenia, but it was not a protogenia borne of the universe they resided in. It came from somewhere else entirely.

    The Strategy produced its terrifying might through the repulsion of this protogenia and universal protogenia. The clash and subsequent rebuttal were focused into the Strategy to create its world-shattering result.

    The fact it was able to borrow from universal protogenia was a staggering prospect!

    As the four Paragons grew in strength and explored the knowledge of the swords, they could sense the ire of universal protogenia searching for them. They could feel, if only faintly, what the old immortal realm must have been like.

    Immortals in those ancient days were powerful beyond comprehension. It took Celestial Master Yuanshi and Celestial Master Taishang - along with two others - to overcome the destruction of the Banishing Blades.

    Lan Jue had never been too interested in the immortal realm, but his knowledge of it had improved since gleaning the secrets of Captus.

    The immortal realm wasn't as simple as they'd originally thought. It was a reality created by the interwoven powers of protogenia. It not only protected them from universe protogenia but was also possessed of a protogenia all its own.

    It was more than a pocket reality - it was its own universe that existed parallel to their own. Over time it grew and become stronger until it came to the notice of the original universe. But the power of the realm could not be reversed. Since it relied on the essence of the universe this process could not be interrupted. If it did it could threaten the destruction of the immortal realm. As such the immortals of old did all they could do curtail the growth of their realm, lest it come into conflict with the universe it existed within.

    The end result of that conflict from ages past was not recorded in the Banishing Blades. All they knew was the ancient realm of the immortals was gone. If it wasn't, these magnificent weapons would not have fallen into the hands of man.

    Lan Jue knew what he meant with Jun Yongye had told him so long ago, that even as Paragon he would only command a tenth of what the swords could do. It seemed that may have been an exaggeration, but not in his favor. Even after achieving Nirvana, learnings Captus' secrets, and becoming one with the blade he could not say for certain he could summon ten percent of the sword's might.

    The true power of the Banishing Blades could only be wielded by the highest caste of immortals! Knowing this, could they really hope to succeed in laying out the Banishing Strategy?

    None of them presumed to know the answer. They continued to grow in power but the strength of the swords was inscrutable, deep, and seemingly without end. The stronger they became the more immeasurable these weapons seemed. All they could do was continue to learn, improve their cultivation, and hope they could survive the Strategy.

    In the end, what measure of destruction they would cause was left in the hands of Heaven.

    Li Ke's features were creviced with doubt. As a part of Ultus he, too, felt what they were feeling. The power of it ran deeper than he'd expected, lending ever more credence to their titles as the strongest weapons ever created. The pressure it put on the humans was immense.

    If it ended up that they were not strong enough to control the Strategy there would be only one avenue left for them. But the cost...

    A sadness flit across Li Ke's ghostly expression when he thought about the possibility.

    ξ

    Europa appeared on the horizon. The writhing membrane that surrounded it seemed thicker and more widespread than ever. The three home worlds were still attached to it, emitting a rich purple hue. However, all three of them were less than a third of their original size.

    Meanwhile, Europa was twice the size it had been before, almost a whole new entity. It was hidden beneath layers of violet clouds that concealed its surface. Its hue was lighter than the home worlds, and as the rolling fogs changed it gave the appearance of being alive.

    The savagery of the aliens was missing from their new creation. Europa was... strangely beautiful.

    When he saw it Kang Hui's heart sank. It was clear the home worlds' evolution was nearing completion. It would happen any day.

    "All ships, pay attention. I want all weapons systems charged and prepared for use. Do not be caught off guard. The time for rest is over, the war is back on." Kang Hui gave the order.

    They couldn't wait, not a moment more. The home worlds could finish their evil ceremony at any moment so they had to strike first and strike hard. If they didn't, they wouldn't live to regret it.
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