Chapter 499: Planet Ziluo

    Chapter 499: Planet Ziluo

    It started as a pinprick of blue light, which slowly grew until it was almost on top of Thor before suddenly stopping. It was Zeus-2, returning to the scene. Thor returned to the ship, and soon Zeus-2 was hovering over the corpse of the monster. As it neared, a beam of pale silver light shot out from below it. It enveloped the body, and then soon after the creature vanished.

    In order to accommodate large caches of materials, Lan Jue had set up a series of high-grade interdimensional storage gems, set up in a lattice. It seemed the extra installation was coming in useful. OF course, no living thing would survive in this pocket reality. It was made to store inert materials like minerals and mech suits. The capability of this small ship to house a large number of mech suits was actually one of its great advantages. All of it was, of course, quite expensive. Lan Jue paid for it what a country would pay for a battleship. It was not something your average citizen could afford.

    It was quite the find. This universe-traversing specimen wasn't as strong as the progenitor on Taihua, but it wasn't much weaker. Now that he had another piece to work with, they could learn even more about what these things were and how they ticked.

    Zeus-2 continued on its journey, though Lan Jue was more cautious this time. He gave up cultivation in lieu of watching being vigilant. He guessed that the one he ran in to was a scout from the monster planets. It was strong, and fast. It was out here scanning for suitable planets, then would have likely returned to share what it learned.

    It was a guess, and one he couldn't prove without more information. However, this was still human-occupied space he traversed. Finding one of those things out here was at least proof that the alien monsters were getting closer. Also, it had some means of getting around the blockades that protected human space. Space was large, though, and it was impossible to watch everywhere at once. He guessed that whatever the case, this creature must have been highly intelligent.

    The encounter brought Lan Jue's mind back to the images of the seventh fleet. Flashes of destruction flit across his memory, playing against the backdrop of Luo's horizon. The power of those planets alone was staggering. Add to that the countless hordes of monsters, and the implications were enough to give one nightmares.

    At least it was starting to look like humanity would be able to fight back. He'd watched the planet swallow up and spat back the battleship attacks, but at least the smaller creatures were killable. Humanity was also awash with incredibly destructive weaponry they hadn't tried yet. Plundering human planets wasn't going to be an easy task for these creatures when all three Alliances' Bastion Ships were giving them hell.

    Lan Jue split his time between watching the route and finishing the Thor designs. Upgrading an already world-class mecha wasn't easy. The designs had to not only be precise and make sense, but also had to be theoretically possible. Once it was designed to the right specifications, next he had to gather the needed materials. That was the cheapest way to do it.

    Zeus-2 continued on its journey for another three days. Eventually a planet, covered in a purple hue, loomed in the distance. It wasn't large, in fact dwarf planets were likely a bit bigger, but it was beautiful. It hung against the blackness of space like a gemstone on black velvet. The light from its star filtered through the purple atmosphere, making it appear to glow.

    Planet Ziluo, an Administration planet under Eastern jurisdiction. 1 It was about one-sixth the mass of the mother planet, which was small for its function. It had fresh water and all the things human needed, but was otherwise lacking in resources.

    An interesting quirk to this planet, was that every year it was buffeted by intense galactic storms. The near-constant encounters caused the planet's magnetic field to adapt in a completely unique way, resulting in the condensed shell of elements that it was famous for. The radiation that flooded the planet's interior was harmful to most humans. Life could only survive in small, shielded pockets on its surface.

    To Adepts though, Ziluo was a fine spot for cultivating. This was especially true for Elementalists who's Disciplines resonated well here. They came in droves every year to train. And, while it wasn't terribly rich in resources, it did have special power gems unique to itself.

    The entire planet had only thirteen cities dotting its surface, but each one was huge. Special biomes were created around these cities so that the denizens could live comfortably. It boasted the highest rate of Adepts of any planet in the East, and aside from Skyfire Avenue, the strongest. There weren't a wealth of peak-ranked Adepts, but the number of mid-ranged Talents was impressive. Finally, it was also famous for its mecha R&D and manufacturing plants.

    "Cleared for approach!" A sweet and melodious female voice crackled through the speakers. Zeus-2's credentials had already been scanned and approved. The magnificent, sapphire body of the craft shimmered like a gem as it pierced Ziluo's atmosphere. It began its descent toward the planet's capital, also called Ziluo.

    Ziluo City was the largest settlement on the planet, and famous in particular for its research facilities. The city was covered with scientists and engineers, all dedicated to the advancement of mecha technology. Many God-ranked mechas were designed here. The obviously invested a lot in this place. So, considering the city's focus, the most encountered professions were mecha pilots, engineers and construction crew.

    Lan Jue guided Zeus-2 in to the public air hangar. Practiced movements urged the ship to a designated, sapphire blue spot in a quiet corner. It looked very much like his private hangar on Skyfire, only much bigger.

    Lan Jue's expression was a little strange, and every meter forward that he moved, he looked less comfortable. He bit back the distracting feeling and followed the robots guiding him to park.

    The warehouse wasn't empty. As Lan Jue steered Zeus-2 in to place, he passed by another ship of similar hue, though it was two or three times larger than his own. Aerodynamically it looked like a souped-up version of Zeus-2, and polished to where it almost looked like it was made entirely of sapphire. The dim lights of the warehouse interior reflected off its surface.

    Lan Jue sucked in a breath. This had to be his latest creation.

    He disembarked, and couldn't help but wander over to the flashy machine and take a closer look. He spent several minutes looking at it, while the fearful expression drained from his face. It was slowly replaced by surprise.

    "You're back." he voice was deep, and sudden.

    Lan Jue spun around before he could even think. He then froze like a statue, hardly even daring to breathe.

    Footsteps rang through the enormous warehouse as a figure approached.

    He looked to be around forty, roughly the same age as the Gourmet. Tall, with leathery skin the color of old bronze, his eyes seemed to shine with an unnatural brightness. The man couldn't be considered handsome, but he exuded a powerful male aura. The black hair on his head was cut short, and stood against his head like countless little black needles.

    He was dressed in a worn and tattered jumpsuit with the sleeves cut off. His arms were strong, nothing but muscle. The legs of the jumpsuit were rife with tears and holes. Clearly, it'd been a while since he'd bought new clothes.

    A smoldering cigar was caught between the man's thick fingers. He lifted it to his lips and took a long drag, then slowly exhaled. All the while he simply stared at Lan Jue, saying nothing.

    "Come with me." He motioned curtly with his hand, then turned and left the warehouse.

    Lan Jue hadn't moved a fraction of an inch during the whole exchange, but the moment the command was given Lan Jue was on the move. He almost ran after the other man. He kept his piece, and didn't utter a single word. However, it was clear from his stiff gait and trembling hands that he was anything but collected.

    The left the warehouse and took a short walk to its outer wall. There, the middle-aged man placed his hand against the plaster. At his touch, a beam of golden light appeared and opened a portal against the warehouse wall. He walked through it without a second thought.

    Lan Jue stumbled in on his heels, blindly and without hesitation. He was as obedient and unquestioning as a child.

    The older man walked on at an easy pace, as the route brought them down through the earth. After about fifty meters, they arrived at an elevator. They stepped inside, and the man pushed a button.

    The elevator shook, then they began their descent. For a moment, Lan Jue felt somewhat weightless.

    The man didn't say anything to Lan Jue during the trek. He stood quietly while Lan Jue watched his every move. The look in his eyes was conflicted. This went on for about a minute, then the elevator doors opened to a raucous scene.

    It was an open room, with a ceiling easily two hundred meters overhead. Lan Jue swept his eyes left and right, but couldn't find where the room ended. Machinery hummed all around - this was evidently a factory.

    The older man walked on. Lan Jue dutifully followed.

    "Uncle Chi. 2' Each worker they passed respectfully saluted the man. The black-haired man greeted each of them with a gentle smile. He wore the uniform of a normal working man, but his status was clear by the respect the others showed him.

    They walked through the noisy factory to a far wall, where the man led them through another metal door. It shut behind them, and all sound from the outside world ceased. It looked as though they'd entered some sort of office, furnished with simple metal accoutrements. Beyond that, it was pretty sparse.

    The man made his way around the single desk, and fell in to the seat behind it. He pointed to a nearby stool. "Sit."

    "Father!" Lan Jue couldn't hold the silence any longer.

    Upon hearing the greeting, the man's eyes narrowed. "That's what you call me, but I was certain you'd never come back here."

    1. This is a very interesting name that is more or less impossible to translate while retaining meaning. Luo is the same Luo as the capital city of the North. The Zi means purple, so this is 'Planet Purple Luo' - which is dumb as hell. Instead, I kept it as pinyin, but keep the juxtaposition in mind.

    2. Pronounced 'Chur'
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