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Chapter 736: Hmph!
If this operation was a success, then no more needed to be said about Middle Heaven’s stockpile – things will continue as usual. Poseidon Group would continue to live happily on planet Poseidon just as before. But if humanity’s gambit failed the Poseidon Group would announce their defection from the West, and leave for Skyfire where they would join with Eastern forces.
If that happened the West’s power would immediately suffer. They would be no match for the East at that point, and Poseidon Group wouldn’t need to fear retribution.
In addition, Poseidon Group had its own plans to flee if things went sour.
Humanity’s future hinged on the result of this war, a war they had to win. If they did not, no one wanted to think of the horror that would follow. Their only chance would be a desperate escape.
Warships covered the heavens, as numerous as the stars, surrounding the lumbering form of Middle Heaven as it flew through space. Lan Qing assured his brother that their current speed was only half of what the bastion was capable of. Although the East had offered their Northern counterparts full support, they still had some reservations. If the North used this opportunity to assault its allies, the East would have to be ready. As a result, the Alliances were separated into their own areas, isolated and responsible for their own part of the plan.
It took three days for Middle Heaven to reach the launching area and get in formation. Then they waited, silent but vigilant, anticipating the order to begin.
Eight bastions and twelve fleets could cover an impressive area. Everywhere the eye looked it was meat with a sea of metal. Middle Heaven’s radar was filled with blinking red lights. In the distance their instruments could pick out the violet giants that were the four former human planets. Even the space around them seemed to have adopted a purple haze – aliens, countless scores of them suspended in space.
Never had Lan Jue seen so many gathered in one place. They were thickly packed but their numbers spread far and wide. Their psionic pulses were too intense to penetrate, effectively making everything behind them invisible. Long-range telescopes were the best way to get a read on the situation at this point. Their electronic surveillance had been rendered useless.
Inwardly Lan Jue sighed as he stared at the screens. The aliens were adept at controlling information. So far they had kept humans from getting any of the intelligence they needed to mount an effective defense. Alien strategy continued to outplay humanity’s.
Lan Jue hadn’t gotten any rest as they approached the staging area. He was too busy directing Star Division and preparing for the incursion. He hadn’t even had time to cultivate. Although at his level, even failing to cultivate didn’t stop his power from increasing on its own. Every day he felt his power struggling to expand beyond his control, bringing him closer to that final step.
He could sense the time of his breakthrough was near. It was the same for Zhou Qianlin. Once she had reached ninth rank, Lan Jue was surprised to discover Qianlin’s Discipline strengthening even faster than his own. Of course, their powers were different. Qianlin’s abilities were the purest Lan Jue had ever seen. Especially once combined with immortal qi, her Discipline was entirely free from impurities. It appeared to continue refining itself as time went on.
No one was more impatient to break through than Lan Jue. He was confident that once they did, Qianlin would awaken from her vegetative state. They could be together again. He had looked after her for so long, and through the process the agitation that consumed his eased. To him, nothing was more important that being able to be with her. Without her, what use was anything else?
She wasn’t Hera, he knew that. But she had come to mean just as much to him.
She had to wake up!
“Boss?” A gentle voice interrupted his thoughts.
Lan Jue turned his head. Xiuxiu stood by his shoulder, offering a glass of water.
“Thank you.” He took it from her and sipped from the glass. “How has your cultivation been going?” He asked with a smile.
She smiled back, a sweet and gentle smile. “Very well. We’ve all been working very hard lately.”
Lan Jue regarded her apologetically. “I’ve been so busy lately, I’ve had no time to look after you ladies.”
Xiuxiu smiled. “It’s fine! We don’t mind so long as you’re alright. We just hope you could bring us along more. We’re happy when we’re near you.”
Lan Jue’s brows furrowed. “Xiuxiu, you’ve been with me the longest. Ever since we were small father took you in and raised you with us. I’ve always seen you as a younger sister, equal in all things. That Zeus’ Amazons business was just something other people called you, you girls have always been my closest friends. But you know that a person can’t share their heart. There’ve been no shortage of people reminding me that I shouldn’t string you and the others along or there will be problems. Xiuxiu, my hope for you and the others is that you find places of your own when this fight is over. I want all of you to be happy.”
Xiuxiu’s face changed and turned pale. “Boss, you don’t want us? Because you have sister Qianlin?”
Lan Jue paused. “How could you think that? It’s not that I don’t want you, I don’t want to hold you back!”
Xiuxiu hung her head and muttered. “Happiness is different for everyone. Having a family, a husband and children doesn’t always mean happiness. For me, happiness is being with you. Seeing you every day is enough. This is my only requirement, my small wish – and you want to deprive me of it?”
She lifted her head and fixed Lan Jue’s eyes with her own. “You say you can’t share your heart. But what about Hera? You loved her, now you have Zhou Qianlin. All this time I’ve been right by your side. Waiting, waiting… waiting for a day that never comes. Now you won’t even let me wait?”
Her voice rose with every word, thick with emotion. Her body was shaking. Lan Jue stared at her without knowing what to do. He thought back to the Pharmacist’s warning and realized she was right. He hadn’t realized Xiuxiu’s obsession had consumed her so.
“I’m sorry Xiuxiu. That’s not what I meant, It’s just…”
“You don’t need to say anything.” She shouted, tears streaming down her face. “I’m not going anywhere until the day I die. If you want me to go then you’ll have to kill me.” She swung around and sobbed as she ran out, giving Lan Jue no chance to respond.
As he watched her flee Lan Jue was struck with a pang in his chest. He felt like a coward. Ever since they were small Lan Jue knew she liked him, but he figured it would fade with time. Instead it was the opposite, and things had only gotten worse.
If Xiuxiu was like this, then what about Ke’er, Mika and Lin Guoguo? Could he expect the same reaction? It was unfair to them! But they didn’t want to go.
Lan Jue rubbed his forehead. He was at a total loss as to what he should do. Once the fight was over he would have to sit down with them and have a frank conversation.
Perplexing though the situation was, Lan Jue had no regrets. Xiuxiu had been with him always. Ke’er, Lin Guoguo and Mika had each been saved. If he had to do it all again he would, without question,
Setting the glass of water down, Lan Jue decided to spend some time cultivating. They had come to the calm before the storm, the perfect time to reflect on what he’d learned.
Just then, he heard determined footsteps approaching. The aggressive aura surrounding her was choking. Her body was clearly outlined in the tight flight-suit she wore and her head of fiery red hair bounced wildly behind her.
Of all of the Amazons, Mika’s potential was the greatest. Even Su Xiaosu couldn’t compare. Her Discipline had improved the most recently, and she was now ninth level fifth rank. Lan Jue knew she had the greatest chance of all the Amazons to become a Paragon one day. But her potential was also her curse, the demon blood that was her lineage could easily spiral out of her control.
“Boss!” Her voice was high. Lan Jue didn’t have to ask to know why she was here.
“Mika, sit.” He pointed to a nearby chair.
“I will not sit.” Her hands were planted firmly on her hips and she glared daggers at him. “Why are you tormenting Xiuxiu? Do you know how much she likes you? How could you treat her this way?”
“I –“ Lan Jue opened his mouth, but found he didn’t know how to explain himself.
Mika was in a rage. “We don’t demand anything from you, why the hell are you forcing us to leave? We don’t need to go find some man. We don’t need another family. We have all the family we need at Zeus’ Jewelry Shop. Do you know I catch Xiuxiu staring at your picture on her communicator sometimes? She smiled like an idiot whenever you come up in conversation. But even she isn’t trying to get anything from you. Still you want us gone. Boss, I’m telling you now, if you tell us to go we’re taking our own lives. We’ll make you regret it the rest of your life. Hmph!”
Mika spun around and stomped off, her head held high like a queen. Lan Jue watched her go with his mouth hanging open. Was this… were they declaring war on him?