Chapter 387: History of the Amazons
It looked easy, but in reality no ordinary person could pull it off. Only Adepts who were eighth level or above could hold their breath for long enough to be transported through a customs check. But this was more than that – the Morningstar was in a complete, compressed vacuum in the interdimensional space created by Lan Jue’s ring. Ninth level Talent was the minimum needed to survive that ordeal.
There also wasn’t any current technology capable of sniffing out a ninth level Adepts aura. At that point security forces just did the best they could.
Once they were boarded Lan Jue and Qianlin sat together. Su Xiaosu sat separately. She was quiet at first, like a refined young woman. No one would ever suspect they sat beside a fierce pirate Queen.
“I’m not sure she’ll leave once she gets to Skyfire Avenue.” Zhou Qianlin let her skepticism be known.
“I can’t very well drive her away in that case,” Lan Jue said with a helpless grin. “You were right, though. All of those girls back at the shop came my way for some reason or another. Mika’s Satan’s daughter, for example. Ever since I helped her escape, Satan’s harbored a deep resentment. He could cause me no end of troubles at any moment. Xiuxiu agreed to follow me, but we’ve been friends since we were children. We grew up together. My grandfather had his own plans and made the arrangements. Guoguo and Ke’er I rescued from the North. Lin Guoguo’s family is also quite storied, but because of her unsettling Discipline they plotted to have her killed. They’d find another successor, one easier to control. She narrowly escaped death, but Ke’er’s story is the most tragic.”
Qianlin looked surprised that the adorable Ke’er’s history would be so bad. “What happened?”
Lan Jue’s face fell as he recounted. “You probably already know that many of the West’s Adepts got their powers through Fantascia Genetica and other genetic manipulation. That’s largely the reason the West has so many more Adepts than the East. The drawback is that higher level Adepts do not react well to the serum. The risks are very high, and the cost astronomical. It sees some use in the North as well, as part of their Adept creation process. Mostly, though, they’re made by joining human to technology. The two are violently smashed together to force a result. Ke’er was an orphan out there, and grew up in their system. She was born with a Discipline, but it was very weak – first level, just barely. But then they came for her, and started their experiments. They said they were trying to make a super soldier.”
“They were careful to choose children with no background, no one anyone would miss. The experiments were a series of failures that often left the children permanently crippled. Many died. In their final ‘batch’ of subjects a few showed promise, Ke’er among them. Her core isn’t a real one, but a special s-ranked power gem and her Discipline is mostly from the gem itself. Maybe a third of her entire body is precision military equipment.”
Qianlin’s eyes almost popped out of her head. A child, forced to be cut apart and put back together with a machine, entirely without her will. It was a nightmare, that Ke’er had to suffer through day after day.
Lan Jue went on. “I guess I saved them all, not much different than Little Moon 1. So you know, what can I do? Could you just let them go their own way and fend for themselves? My only option was to let them stay. They live happy lives now, and the day they decide to leave I’ll give them enough to live comfortably. I didn’t agree to any of this Amazon stuff. I see them as my sisters.”
This was the first time Qianlin could think of that Lan Jue shared something so personal. She sighed. “That may be the case, and you’re a good man, but what about them? How would they feel about bringing someone else back? Do you expect them to not have any sort of feelings for you whatsoever?”
Lan Jue was taken aback, and grinned at her. “What am I supposed to do about that? There are two sides to every coin, right? The best I can do is not lead them on. You know better than anyone who I hold in my heart.”
Qianlin didn’t want to provoke him or act snide. She just sounded anxious. “You should really think about what needs to be done for these women in the next couple of years. They may grow up and make other plans, but what if they don’t? you’ll just let them stay with you forever?”
“You think I haven’t done that yet? I’ve spoken with each one of them in private about it, but the second the topic comes up the tears come down. Sometimes they cry so hard they can’t speak, or they desperately ask not to go. What am I supposed to do? I don’t even dare broach the topic anymore. The second I start in on it, everything goes crazy.” Lan Jue huffed.
Qianlin gave him a flat look. “From the looks of it, even if my sister were alive she wouldn’t be happy marrying you. Not with so many women following you around.”
Lan Jue humphed. “Hera was nearly so mean as you. She knew all those girls well and never once said a word about it.”
She sniffed a laugh at him. “You talk like you understand women. No ordinary girl would ever approve of sharing her man. My sister was just a good person, that’s all.”
A deep and pervasive pain flit across Lan Jue’s eyes. “Well it doesn’t matter, does it. She’s dead.”
Zhou Qianlin was silent. After a time, she raised her head. “I’m sorry.”
Lan Jue shook his head. “Do you know why I’ve kept you at arms length since I met you? I’m actually still a little afraid of seeing you, because every time I do I see your sister. You two look so similar, I still forget sometimes. I stay away to protect myself I guess, but that leaves you alienated.”
Her eyes dropped to the floor. “I’d be very happy if I met a man who loved me as much as you love her.” What she didn’t express, was her own sadness for her unrequited affection for him.
Lan Jue said nothing more. He leaned back in the big, comfortable first class seat and closed his eyes like he were sleeping.
The ship calmly went on its way. Once it left atmosphere it picked up speed, and then at last Lan Jue could claim victory. The Once-Moonfiend empress, now again the Morninstar Su Xiaosu, was saved. Now that they were out in open space, the Pontiff’s men would have a hard time intercepting them even if they found out they were here. The West wouldn’t send troops after them.
The ship’s destination was the capital of the Northern Alliance, Planet Luo. It was the single largest, populated planet in all the human colonies. It was the political and economic heart of the North.
This was as much true for Adepts as it was for normal citizens. The North’s Adept organization – The Great Conclave – was located on Luo as well.
Unlike the Western Capital, Lan Jue had been here several times. It also happened to be the home of one of his close brothers. Chu Cheng, successor to the Hades bloodline, had his place here.
This Adept tournament was like a cyclone sweeping through the Adept world. It was one of the greatest occasions in the last decade, and it was starting very soon.
- I’m going to retroactively change the pet name Lan Jue has for the Moonfiend Empress. Originally, when we did not know her name, I elected to use ‘Yue’ in place of moon (which is what it meant) because I suspected her name might contain the character – many Chinese female names do. I thought it seemed more familiar and affectionate. Little Moon makes more sense, since it fits with her title of Moonfiend Empress. I’ll try and replace previous mentions of Little Yue to little moon to avoid confusion as soon as I can. ↩