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Chapter 897: Hua Li and Mo Xiao

    Chapter 897: Hua Li and Mo Xiao

    For a moment the smile on Hua Li's face appeared more forced than genuine. He saw Lan Jue's shock and it filled him with an indescribable regret.

    "I'm the one who killed Hera. I didn't know it would hurt you so badly. But, I had to." His smile warped into a pained scowl and he clutched his chest. Were it not for the inherent vitality of his bloodline, the Prince's attack would have destroyed him outright.

    "Do you remember when you asked me why I don't like Mo Xiao? You said she was a good woman. You're right, she is. She's always been good to me, but I don't like her in that way. I told you I have someone that I love, someone I've always loved. Just Like Xiuxiu who always loved you but was never loved in return. We're very similar this way. We just have... different tastes."

    Hua Li's eyes were red from the emotion. "The one I love has almost superhuman talent, an open mind, and a good heart. They're strong, and always willing to give help where and when it's needed. From the moment we met I knew this was the person I was meant to love."

    "But life had other plans. They loved someone else and I knew I would never have a chance. I could only remain silent, give my blessings, and hope they were happy. But the pain never got better. I saw that wonderful face in my mind every day. I longed to be near whenever I could, as often as possible. But he was always with a woman. He never knew how I felt."

    "One day I couldn't take it anymore. I convinced myself I had to kill her, that it was the only way I'd have a chance. Jealousy poisoned my heart and caused me to make a terrible mistake."

    Lan Jue couldn't believe what he was hearing. He gaped at Hua Li, stunned beyond words. He'd never suspected... never expected to hear anything like this from his closest friend.

    Hua Li looked deeply into his eyes, his expression oft and sorrowful. "I'm so sorry, A-Jue. I want to give my life to pay for the awful thing I did. I hope it can mean I don't owe Hera. I knew our different orientation would mean we'd never be together but it never stopped my love. I didn't want to leave without you knowing the truth. If there is a next life I hope I can come back as a woman, as beautiful as Hera or Qianlin, and I hope I meet you first."

    Lan Jue shut his eyes tightly and muttered through grit teeth. "A-Li, I -"

    'No! That's not true!" The cry came a navy blue mecha that came their way. A petite figure emerged and tightly wrapped her arms around Hua Li.

    "It wasn't him! He didn't do it!" Mo Xiao, president of the Poseidon Group, sobbed as she held onto her husband.

    Hua Li's face changed, growing pale and fatigued. "What are you doing here? Go, quickly. You need to command Poseidon."

    Mo Xiao looked at him sadly. "I knew this would happen. I knew you were going to make this choice, that's why I didn't want you to go. You've always felt like his life is more important than yours. But you don't realize I feel the same about you!"

    She snapped her head around and looked at Lan Jue. Her lips trembled.

    "It wasn't him. Hua Li didn't kill Hera. He loved you so much, how could he hurt you in any way? It didn't matter how sad he was he never wanted anything bad to happen to you. I knew how he felt about you but I liked him ever since I was young. That like grew into love, and nothing was going to change it. I... I'm the one who killed Hera!"

    As she went on her voice became more and more hysterical. "Hua Li was never going to give me his heart, but I couldn't stand to see him so sad all the time. I had to help him, and so long as Hera was alive Hua Li would never have his chance. So I killed her, for him. I came up with the plan, arranged everything, and in the end I succeeded. In doing so I destroyed you, too."

    "Hua Li never dared to tell you everything and you continued to sink into depression. I killed Hera, not A-Li. A-Li never once did anything to hurt you. Once he found out what I did he alienated me but, A-Li, everything I did was for you. I just wanted you to be happy and I was willing to do anything to make it happen. I never expected you to love me, but to be the mother of your child would be enough. Yet you wouldn't even give me the opportunity to be with you, to see you every day. Why?! Why would you chose to give your life for this man who never knew your heart? You idiot!"

    Hua Li stroked her long dark hair. "Aren't you just as foolish? To say I wasn't involved in Hera's death simply isn't true. If it weren't for who I am and who I loved, Hera would still be alive. I never told A-Jue, even after I figured out it was you. I didn't do anything to try and make it right. In the deepest parts of my heart I know I'm just as responsible for what you did to Hera. I had to try and pay her back. Mo Xiao, go back. All of this will be solved when I am gone. We have a child, and you have to take care of him. Flee now, while Monarch is still captured."

    Mo Xiao smiled. "You're finally concerned for my well-being. That makes me happy. But do you really think that if you die I will continue living?"

    "No!" Hua Li struggled, knowing what was to come, but with his Core shattered there was nothing he could do.

    Mo Xiao deftly slipped a dagger into her own heart. With a soft grunt she looked up at him, a smile on her face and tears in her eyes. She hugged him tight.

    "In the end, I'm happy to die in your arms... A-Li..."

    Hua Li's lips moved but no sound came out. He lifted his head and looked at Lan Jue, his face forlorn and unaccepting. Motes of blue light began to rise from Hua Li and Mo Xiao's body. Eventually they both disappeared into an enormous bubble and floated away into space.

    Lan Jue was stupefied by all that had happened. His mother and father were gone, now Hua Li had perished. But not before revealing that terrible secret.

    However, even before the battle Lan Jue knew who had a hand in Hera's death. He'd been struggling with it since he found out, but told no one.

    The storage device Xiuxiu had left him had contained a lot of information. The worst of it detailed Xiuxiu's collaboration with Mo Xiao. They'd conspired to earn Hera's faith, and orchestrated her murder. It was why Xiuxiu's last words were an apology. Lan Jue never suspected the people closest to him were responsible for one of the most terrible periods in his life.

    Xiuxiu's reasons her simple; love. When her suffering and Mo Xiao's met, the two women came up with their plan. However Xiuxiu's revelations did not reveal Hua Li's special affections. Now it all made sense, why Mo Xiao would do what she did.

    After Hera's death Lan Jue was consumed by anger. He swore to hunt down the monster that killed her and tear them apart. But now, how could he let that anger go? There was no target for this deep-seated loathing.

    Xiuxiu was dead. Hua Li, Mo Xiao - dead. Xiuxiu and Hua Li gave their lives to protect him. What was he to do with this resentment? When he looked at Qianlin he found no enmity or anger in her face. Instead he saw concern.

    It was done. The past was the past, and it had to remain there. The only way left was forward and nothing else was important.

    Lan Jue focused anew on the task at hand. Determination hardened his face and the light around him burned brighter than ever. He became a pillar of crimson light, the same as Captus. In choosing to give his life for humanity all past grudges were given up. Right now there was one thing which demanded all of him, and that was completing the Strategy so that Monarch might be destroyed and peace could return to the worlds of man.

    Within the flood of energy the Strategy required, all distractions melted from Lan Jue's mind. However a bone-deep weariness sunk into his soul, like he was being consumed from within. He could feel that his body might give in at any moment and be destroyed, but this was to be his fate. When he died all of him - body and soul - would be sacrifice on the altar of the Strategy so that it would succeed. It had to, so that Monarch could be defeated.

    Mankind's Paragons had lost another, and without Hua Li the fight was that much more perilous. Luckily Luo Xianni had injured the Prince gravely and in doing so made managing his attacks easier. Even so the remaining Paragons were being beaten back. It would only be a matter of time before more lives were taken.
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