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Thinking back, Lan Jue could only recall the moment their Harmonious Swords technique combined with their Domains. It must have been under their combined might that the avatar fell.
Together Qianlin and Lan Jue were not inferior to Monarch’s doppelganger. However, they did not have the benefit of the home worlds’ support. In fact the monster had ample opportunity to flee, but his downfall came as a result of underestimating his foes. Specifically Lan Jue’s Boundless Starlight Domain.
When the human Domain overtook it, the power of Boundless Starlight cut it off from the rest of reality. Suddenly the avatar was lost in a world where the rules were stacked against it. Normal Domains would not have such control over it, but Lan Jue’s inheritance came from an ancient and powerful line. Although he was only capable of summoning the simplest of its powers, Boundless Starlight was nonetheless a legendary gift even in its own day. Even the highest caste of immortals would flinch at its presence. Lan Jue’s strength was not yet matured, but the Monarch’s avatar could not match up to even the lowest sort of immortal!
Hubris had made it want to kill Lan Jue and Qianlin in the fastest and most direct fashion possible. Its own demise never seemed possible. Yet, when the power of transferal was cut off and the overwhelming might of the Harmonious Swords descended upon it, hubris proved its end. If it had avoided being absorbed by Lan Jue’s Domain it could have fled. Now, of course, it was too late.
The progenitor was slain, Monarch’s avatar eliminated. It was a grand day for the forces of humanity and a mighty blow to the strength of their enemy.
The rest of the alien forces had cleared out. They fled with the doppelgangers of Consort and Queen into the recesses of space. The Pharmacist, the Pauper and more gave chase while others like Luo Xianni and the Driver remained on the planet. They feared perhaps the expense in energy would do the two of them harm. However, it seemed their fears were unwarranted.
“It seems we can no longer look at you through old lenses!” Luo Xianni praised. She could see the difference in Lan Jue’s eyes. He was an equal.
Lan Jue took up Qianlin’s hand and smiled. “Let’s return to Zeus-1.”
Their victory was grand, but it wasn’t without cost. Satan had fallen and the effect on Mika was sure to be tragic. He had to look after her.
Heaven’s Light was retaken. Now only a single planet remained for them to liberate, and with all the Paragons together it would not be a problem to achieve.
When they got back to Zeus-1, Xiuxiu had taken over as pilot. Mika was to one side of the cockpit in a daze. A long, thin sword lay atop her lap. The spindly weapon radiated a dark light that gave it a sinister charm. It was her father’s weapon, Archfiend.
Lan Jue hurried to where she sat and knelt before her.
She lifted her head and managed a thin smile. Her eyes were red but no tears fell.
“Boss, I’m sorry. I think I have to go.”
Lan Jue paused. “Mika, you…”
She cut him off. “The Dark Citadel was his life’s work. He forged it with his blood and sweat. Now that he’s gone I want to keep his memory by maintaining what he strove so hard to create. If we survive, I want to reestablish the Dark Citadel and continue his legacy. I’m sorry, boss.”
For a time Lan Jue was silent. From the start both of them had intended to keep her as far from the Dark Citadel as possible. Not all of those with the demonic bloodline could control their monstrous nature as well as Satan had. Even the fallen Paragon had to go through a period of madness before he found his path.
Mika was strong, but it would be some time before she became a Paragon. More than a few of Satan’s remaining lieutenants were more developed than she. Would they listen to her? Would they follow her lead under these circumstances?
More than any of those concerns, however, Lan Jue didn’t want to see her succumb to the darkness of her bloodline. He didn’t want her to lose her humanity.
Mika sensed his reticence. Her voice was soft. “Boss, it’s fine. I will always remember what you told me, and I won’t lose my way no matter what. I’ll follow the righteous path, and under my guidance the darkness will not turn to chaos. I’m sorry, I have to do this.”
Lan Jue understood the position she found herself in. He sighed deeply. “Mika, I will support any decision you make. I will be at your back forever to give help whenever it’s needed. I’ll help you track down the survivors.”
But Mika shook her head, denying his help. “No, I need to do it myself. It’s a task only I can accomplish. What he did, I must do.”
She said it with a steely resolve. She had always been a child of demons, but repressed it because of her life in service to Zeus’ Jewelry Shop. Satan’s death was a catalyst, allowing her to let her true self flourish. Ever since that encounter with her father things had changed, she was no longer the same person.
She supported Archfiend with her hands and lifted it off of her lap, turning her vision to the porthole and its view of space. There was a flicker and crimson light slowly filled her eyes.
Lan Jue patted her shoulder. “You got this.”
The Pontiff was not far away, sighing with subdued emotion. Satan had a fine daughter! Making decisions like these with such clarity in the face of disaster was no easy thing. What of himself, he thought?
For better or worse the Dark Citadel’s core power had remained intact. Could the same be said for the Pontiff’s Citadel? He wasn’t alone, but only the highest echelons of his organization were left. He couldn’t know the state of things back on Europa.
The final outlying planet was abnormally easy to free from alien control. In fact, they couldn’t even find a progenitor. By the time they arrived the only sign it had been there was a deep hole and receding fungus. Evidently the aliens were no longer interested in sparring with the humans over these territories. Not a single alien remained, only mutated humans were left to wander the desolate planes.
Their missions were a success. In the fastest time they could muster these planets were returned to human control. Resources had already begun the trek over. Most was from other Western planets that had escaped the scourge, so they would arrive soon.
At this time it wasn’t the three admirals who were busiest. In fact it was Luo Xianni, Lan Jue and Qianlin. The Queen of Heaven Domain and its fabulous abilities were needed all throughout the system. It was the first time since the ancient days that a power like hers was revealed, and soon Guanyin’s purity was known far and wide.
When her image appeared in the skies, saving the souls of the unfortunate, her prestige soared. Even just seeing pictures or video excited the masses and filled them with hope. Humanity had its savior. It was great fortune for so many to live after alien domination.
The Western government had passed out of existence. For now, temporary control of the administrative planets was passed to the allied military forces. As control was enforced and people returned to health, the heart of the people began to settle.
The survivors in particular were quiet with their demands. Weathering this awful catastrophe was enough. Coinciding with their deliverance was a change of faith. They had seen their goddess descend from heaven and save them from a tortured existence. Guanyin, the Queen of Heaven - words that shone like the sun in the hearts of Westerners. Through her they had been granted new life, and Qianlin could feel their faith spanning across the solar system.
It took three whole days and nights for them to cure everyone.
However, through this process they encountered trouble. In the process of healing the afflicted and clearing the alien toxins, Qianlin’s Domain continued to improve. As faith in her powers increased with each life saved her abilities were amplified. Lan Jue similarly benefited from her augmentation, and it was this constant amplification that allowed them to accomplish the task so quickly.
However, just as advancing too slow was a problem, so was growing too fast!
Lan Jue and Qianlin exploded in power as they ascended to Paragon. With their powers combined and through the strength of the Harmonious Swords they could already slay a Nirvana-level foe. But with speed invariably came instability.
Lan Jue’s situation was somewhat better, after all he had been forced to recultivate all the way back to the peak of ninth level. The process had made his foundation remarkably solid. For Qianlin the circumstances were different. Much of her growth had been with Lan Jue’s assistance, and that had steadied her powers.
Now she was possessed of tremendous energy, empowered by the faith of those she’d saved. In only a matter of days both she and Lan Jue were pressing against the barrier to Nirvana. And this after shedding as much impure energy as she could manage.
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