Chapter 63: Shattered Starfields
“Boss, according to the information from the man called Oliver, I’ve narrowed the location of the Mundus vein to somewhere in this region.” Mika pushed her glasses further up on her nose, lending her a distinctly intellectual appearance.
A curtain of pale yellow light appeared before Lan Jue and the four women. The orb it created was alive with twinkling lights – a star map.
“It must be there. The Shattered Starfields.” Lan Jue narrowed his brow.
The Shattered Starfields. It was a place Zeus and his Four Amazons were intimately familiar with.
It was situated in the very center of humanity’s three Great Alliances. By size alone it was larger than any one of the Alliances. It effectively cut off each from the other, requiring a wormhole to circumnavigate.
The interior was riddled with asteroid belts, each of them unstable. They moved without rhyme or reason. What’s more, strange planets resided within. The Three they were called, nestled within the depths of the belts themselves.
But there was more than these three planets and their belts, of course. A multitude of smaller planets could also be found. They were also unsafe and unstable, damaged from repeatedly passing through the shifting asteroid belts.
It was this instability, and the very real danger of destruction that ensured no large-scale airship ever dared sail through.
It was also why the Shattered Starfields had become a pirate’s playground. Larger ships were unable to pass, but smaller ships could traverse without incident owing to their increased maneuverability and the experience of their pilots. The three large planets hidden amidst the asteroid curtains were all hearth and home to pirates.
Pirate clans both large and small dominated the area. The smallest counted barely a hundred strong, while the largest could be separated in to several divisions. The largest were housed on the three main planets, but the smaller ones also were home to smaller pirate clans. The more stable the planet, obviously, the more powerful the clan it was home to.
The Moonfiend Pirates were the first among the buccaneers. Their Moonfiend Empress was also known among them as the greatest of the Pirate Kings. Her strength and reputation is what allowed for those like Gao Yong to give in to their arrogance, and attempt to assault Skyfire Avenue.
Lan Jue looked upon three planets Mika had narrowed their search too. His face grew darker still. “If we want to go to any of those, we’ll have to visit the Three first to resupply. They also keep moving, so we’ll need to find a specific bearing to get to them. We’ll need accurate starmaps from the Three to proceed.
Mika nodded. “Of course. So to find the Mundus vein we’ll need supplies and maps from the Three, then we can get started. In my estimation the collision from the asteroid belts, and the friction it causes, would lead to the creation of all sorts of material. We should find a sizable vein.”
Xiuxiu’s apprehensive voice chimed in. “Even assuming we find it, extracting it will be no small problem. After all the starfields are pirate territory.”
Lan Jue’s pensive expression shifted, and he smiled. “It will indeed, but we’ll have some help there. The Keeper and I have entered in to arrangement, sharing the proceeds. He’s sure to lend some aid.”
“That old scientist?” Lin Guoguo sounded taken aback.
Lan Jue nodded. “We’re all denizens of the Avenue, aren’t we? It would be rude not to share.”
Ke’er stuck out her lower lip in defiance. “We don’t need Skyfire Avenue’s protection anyway.”
Lan Jue only smiled, but Xiuxiu gave her a reprimanding poke.
Lin Guoguo went on. “Boss, give the word. When are we heading out?”
Lan Jue shut off the projector and turned to face the four girls. “Are we really all going? We’re leaving no one to keep shop?”
The women each looked at one another, but it was Xiuxiu who eventually dropped her head and spoke. “I can stay, boss.”
Mika wrapped her arm around Xiuxiu’s shoulder. “Stop being such a goodie-goodie already. It makes it hard to tease you.”
Ke’er spoke up. “Don’t tease sister Xiuxiu!”
Lin Guoguo winked an eye. “We have to pass out of the alliance, three million kilometers from the planet before we can jump through a wormhole and passed the alliance defenders. Then we’ll have to jump again through the collapsing wormhole. Then we’ll be in range of the Shattered Starfield. We’ll need seven days to get there, then considering travel within the system and a return flight, we’re looking at twenty-five days to a month so long as we don’t run in to any problems. Closing the shop for a month isn’t so long.”
“That’s right!” Ke’er vigorously nodded her head.
“Fine,” Lan Jue said. “Start preparing. Since we’re all leaving, we’ll leave as early as we can. Tomorrow morning.”
The women each looked at each other, their pretty eyes filled with excitement. “Thank you boss,” the spoke in unison.
Mika: “I’ll make sure we stick to the plan.”
Lin Guoguo: “I’ll prepare the airship.”
Ke’er: “I’ll be responsible for supplies.”
Xiuxiu: “I’ve got the equipment and resource assignment.”
Seeing the girls so excited caused Lan Jue’s smile to grow brighter. “This is all on us. Our own mission. We’ll call it Operation Crystal Incursion.”
“Yeah,” the girls answered together. It was like they’d all changed, a fire roiling in the depths of their pretty eyes.
Yes! Zeus’ Amazons. Three years of waiting, three years of silence. The sleeping giant was finally awakening. How could they not be excited? It was as though the universe had suddenly opened up before them.
They each had the urge to shout it towards the heavens. Zeus is back!
It was afternoon, and already the sunlight wasn’t as dazzling as it had been in the morning. The sun had begun it’s trek to the horizon, and below it studies had begun to end for the day in the National Eastern University. Zhou Qianlin and Tang Mi were making their way from the campus.
“Where are you heading to tonight anyway, Qianlin? Why aren’t you leaving with me?” Tang Mi asked in curiosity.
“I’m going to the beautician with mother,” Qianlin answered. “She’s coming to pick me up. You can go ahead and head out first.”
Tang Mi continued suspiciously. “Skin like yours and you’re still going to a beautician? If that’s the case what am I supposed to do? Anyway, I’ll head out then. I don’t know what my brother’s been up to either. Yesterday he let someone beat him to a pulp, and today he didn’t even bother to come to school. I’ll go home and look for him.”
“Alright, I’ll see you later.”
Zhou Qianlin began walking. Five hundred meters later she saw a familiar antique bicycle.