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It was years ago when the Clairvoyant had given the Four Divine Monarchs his pendants. For the others the charms had been used up upon their breakthroughs. Only Lan Jue’s remained, even after becoming a Paragon.
The Clairvoyant’s gift, Lumina, wasn’t made to heal Lan Jue. In fact, its purpose was to provoke the stars.
Lan Jue’s inheritance was the Master of Stars, the Emperor of the North Star. The namesake of this inheritance controlled the myriad burning bodies, but control worked both ways. The stars also possessed a direct line to their master. At the moment of his destruction Lan Jue received the nourishing power of the stars, thoroughly remaking his body. With the help of his cosmic brethren his protogenia was stilled and his breakthrough completed.
Once Lan Jue was out of danger, Qianlin’s condition improved as well. Under the light of the stars Lan Jue understood the intricacies of his protogenia and shared his epiphanies through their connection. In this way he helped her to stabilize her own protogenia.
Qianlin’s Queen of Heaven abilities were stable by nature. So long as the initial steps of her breakthrough where completed, the rest would take care of itself. Now that the threads of protogenia within her were disentangled her aura calmed and her Domain spread out. Her familiar, soothing white light enveloped them both. Through it their protogenia was steadied and the power of starlight united with it. Not only were they out of danger, but their cultivation even strengthened some small degree.
With a sigh, Jue Di shook his head.
Luo Xianni also relaxed, and when she spoke her voice was thick with relief. “They’re fine. Why do you sigh like that?”
Jue Di never took his eyes from his son. “I never respected the old shyster. I only ever saw him as a charlatan who liked to show off his skills. In the face of true power, prophecies were an illusion. I see now that the old me was wrong. The reach of his divinations are long and their influence vast. Hi power saved my son. His vision could see past his own demise to what humanity needed in its hour of need. Eye of Tomorrow… he couldn’t have had a more fitting name.”
Luo Xianni smiled, a small smile that lit up her face. But when she spoke she sounded disappointed. “Yes! If he were alive, perhaps we’d be better equipped to face these beasts.”
Jue Di sniffed. “What is dead is dead. What worth is there in lamenting?”
Luo Xianni rolled her eyes at him. “Aren’t you the little green-eyed monster.”
His lips curled into a scowl. “I prefer killing the purple ones. It looks like the aliens have retreated. I suspect they’ve fled to defend the planets. We’ve got serious troubles ahead.”
Luo Xianni followed his eyes to where the alien home worlds hovered. Her teasing expression gave way to solemnity.
The aliens were too strong. They weren’t going to win a direct confrontation, as the last battle proved. Even if they defeated the monsters, what would be the cost? Both sides would be decimated.
Most importantly, they discovered the planets still had some means of influencing the fight. Monarch had exerted its strength in the perfect moment to safe its generals, even strengthening them. They weren’t even sure whether or not the planets could fight back directly. How much time was left before their evolution was complete?
Mankind’s allied forces didn’t have the strength to rout its enemy!
“We must make the best of what we have. If we really aren’t strong enough, there’s nothing to be done.” Luo Xianni muttered.
Jue Di’s voice was cold. “Don’t rush to conclusions. Monarch and the others are not invincible. Their auras are strong, but they have no way to enter the battle directly. If they did our fight would have been ended long ago. Lan Qing has a plan, something that will solve our problem. Perhaps there’s still a chance, but we can only know it by probing the enemy’s defense. If our sacrifice means the destruction of these monsters, then it’s worth it. When it comes to the pivotal moment, who can say…”
His voice trailed off, his face stern.
Lan Qing watched the situation unfold from his screens. He sighed in relief as his brother, by some miracle, was saved from destruction. So long as Lan Jue and Qianlin escaped unscathed, he could call their battle a success.
“Do we have statistics on battle damage?” Lan Qing returned his attention to the matters at hand.
“They’re here now.”
A report appeared before the admiral.
Allied forces losses could not be described as light. Over five thousand drones had been destroyed, as well as three hundred warships of various types. Six hundred more were damaged, among them a capital ship that could no longer participate in the fight.
All three bastions had expended tremendous energy in the clash, especially Poseidon. At least for a while they would not be capable of transforming as they needed time to recharge. Tyrannosaurus spent the least. It’d only fired its main cannon twice throughout the conflict.
Middle Heaven appeared to have spent the most in energy stores, but thanks to its molinite core those stores were being quickly replenished. Of course, the drawback came in that core’s instability.
The allied forces had suffered losses, but thanks to the tenacity of their defenses those losses were kept as low as could be expected. Casualties were kept within the boundaries of Lan Qing’s expectations.
Star Division lost thirty of their soldiers in the attack, the first time they’d lost a single person since their inception. But in a fight for the future of humanity, against some of the strongest creatures they’d ever faced, how could they expect to emerge unscathed?
War with the alien menace was horrifying for humans, but the losses for the enemy were astronomical. At least sixty thousand beasts were put down between the battles on Angel and the front lines. These were monsters capable of fighting in space, not the mutated copies created by a progenitor. Among the enemy’s dead were no less than five generals, though unfortunately only two of their vital crystals had been recovered. What happened to the three beasts slain by Lan Jue’s Gate of Cataclysm, no one knew.
Best estimates posited that these battles cost the alien horde a fourth of their total numbers. Stunning, when one considered how inferior humanity’s numbers were. With the aliens in full retreat the allies were cheering their victory, but also going about the business of recovery. The burden of time was on them, for no one knew how long it would be before the alien planets completed their evolution. Once repairs were complete, another attack would be initiated immediately.
What’s more, although the home worlds themselves were incapable of fighting directly, most of the alien power structure was still intact. The Violet Prince and Princess had returned from afield, doubling the number of Infinite-level aliens protecting their leaders. When it came to direct force humanity was in the weeds, even with Lan Jue and Qianlin now crossing over into Nirvana.
The situation required careful thought. Only the perfect plan could give the humans a chance at survival.
After this fight, Europa and the alien planets were within sight. Regardless of how dire their position had become, this was the closes the allies had ever come to their target. Kang Hui had already sent requests to the Northern government for reinforcements. If by some stroke of luck the alien evolutionary process was still a ways off, reinforcements might be useful.
The North agreed. However, no one knew for certain how long it would take to mobilize and dispatch these reserves.
The surviving soldiers stood in orderly formation, hats off and heads bowed. They stood in silent respect for their fallen brothers and sisters.
Fighting out in space, the chance of recovering corpses was almost zero. Finally, death had come to claim their brave compatriots. Although they had lost the fewest of any military division, the pain was no less biting.
“Vigil is over.” Su Xiaosu’s voice was solemn, but stern. The soldiers lifted their heads.
Xiaosu addressed the company. “The heroism of our fallen compatriots will forever be recorded in the annals of our organization. Whatever honors and spoils they earned will be given to their families to help them through this difficult time. After this victory all of our families have earned a run through the exuvium process. This is true for their families as well.”
“They can rest, but our fight isn’t over. We must continue to fight for our brothers and sisters who still live, for every man, woman and child of our species. If we lose, none of our spoils will save us. The exuvium process will means nothing if our people are made extinct by an apocalypse of purple. So it is - soldiers, fellows - that we mustn’t mourn. In honor of those we’ve lost, and those remain, we must fight even harder.”
“Now I’m sure you’ve all learned much after these two glorious battles. Rest and meditate on what you’ve learned, then return in twelve hours. We’ve got more training to do!”
Star Division was dismissed, soldiers departing to their quarters to recover after the fights. A few moments of peace were a luxury in war.
Without a doubt the soldiers were fatigued after their two concurrent campaigns. Especially with the loss of their fellows, their hearts had taken a blow.
When her charges left Su Xiaosu fell exhausted to the floor and curled her legs beneath her. Her chest and fell as she fought for breath.
How could she not be drained? Star Division had been under her command since Angel, and she was responsible for every one of them. Her careful command, her orders to look out for each other, were what kept them alive.
At last, Star Division had shown their worth, emerging as an integral part of this battle’s success. It was their back line defense that ensured the allied ships weren’t destroyed, and kept their guns firing. Finally, Star Division had found their proper place in the allied forces. The first battle was over, but there would be more to come. Would the alien home worlds be destroyed quickly?
Xiaosu was so tired all she wanted to do was curl up in bed. But then a warm, comforting sensation washed over her. She lifted her head and spied Skyfire Avenue’s doctor headed her way.
“What’s wrong? Are you alright?” He asked.
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