Skyfire Avenue, Chapter 443

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Chapter 443: Qian Bian vs. Jiang Yuan

“Chi Tianjiao has lost. The competitors must not be harmed.” The Terminator’s deep voice boomed through the arena.

Chi Tiantjian was caught off-guard and stumbled backward, falling on to her backside. A moment later, two deep slices appeared in the ground where she had just stood. When she saw it, her face blanched. The Terminator’s voice had saved her from getting cut in two.

Down the field, the Pharmacist’s spectral sword vanished from view. She regarded her defeated foe with cold eyes. “If I discover that you use human blood to augment your powers, you won’t even remember a day when you weren’t in agony.”

The Pharmacist glanced for a moment toward the VIP platform, but said nothing. After a moment she floated away back toward the resting area.

That… that was it?

The audience was dumbfounded. It didn’t look like Chi Tianjiao even registered on the Pharmacist’s radar. Too fast to see anything! Certainly the fastest since the quarter-finals had started.

It was expected that the contenders this late in the tournament would all be powerhouses. So how could something so blatantly one-sided happen? Chi Tianjiao couldn’t protect herself – even the Terminator had to intervene. Was their difference in power really that stark? The simply answer was no; the weakness lay in the restraints of Chi Tianjiao’s Discipline.

Disciples of Celestial Master Qian were followers of ancient Chinese values, values which were attuned to the righteous qi of the earth. All things evil, base and vile were weak against her Discipline. Chi Tianjiao’s skills were based in darkness, and with the Pharmacist’s abilities practically on another level, she hadn’t a chance.

The defeated Adept stumbled from the ring in a daze. She looked almost afraid as she walked right passed the resting area, and right out of the arena.

The first fight of the second group had concluded. The Pharmacist had once more marred the field with her power.

Next fight; Qian Bian against Jiang Yuan.

Most competitors had a firm understanding of Jiang Yuan’s strength, if not its limit. His opponent was another matter. The Northerner was a mystery, but he’d already left quite the impression with the crowd.

From the Accountant’s information, Qian Bian was a ninth level sixth rank who had fused his body and his Discipline with the newest liquid metal technology. The result was fierce adaptability and resistance. Several types of weaponry had been installed as well, so the end result of his conversion was higher than the official score of his Discipline. He was not a weakling.

The two men separated to either side of the ring.

The Necromancer was as imposing and macabre as ever. His compatriot’s loss to Titan didn’t appear to have affected him in any way. Qian Bian was another classical-style Easterner, tall with a spiky yellow Mohawk over two meters tall. One could guess height was an important aspect of manliness in the North, but in fact the imposing stature of converts was often directly correlated to their strength. This was especially true for an Adept like Qian Bian.

However, for the moment both of them had very dour expressions, and the reason was simple. They had, along with everyone else, seen the Pharmacist’s performance. Jiang Yuan may not have been bothered by Qi Mu’s loss, but the Pharmacist terrified him. Qian Bian was no different. It was a clear message; you’ve got no chance in this group.

Jiang Yuan’s powers were also rooted in darkness, so he had very carefully watched the last fight. The moment he saw how quickly Chi Tianjiao lost, he knew his days were numbered. But it was what it was, and he would do his best against the Eastern dragon lady to see what he could acquire from the experience. Now to protect his ego, he would have to begin by defeating the convert in front of him. He had something to prove.

Qian Bian was less flustered. With Titan and Yan Ningya in the fight, he had no illusions of winning the tournament crown. His goal had been to reach the quarter-finals, and that was a goal he’d achieved. The rest was just an opportunity for growth, so he faced his next fight with that in mind.

“Three, two, one. Begin!”

Qian Bian’s hands shot up, and much to the crowd’s surprise they watched his body become a pure titanium white.  His two arms shifted before their arms, remolding in to dual six-barrel laser cannons. A storm of energy blasts were headed to his foe.

 

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Lan Jue watched from the resting area, recovered after his own encounter. It had been a great one in terms of results, with his Core a full one third more compressed than it had been. What he wouldn’t have dared to do himself, Bing Yu’s ice powers had helped him achieve flawlessly.

The Pharmacist had returned as well, and walked over to the chair beside him. It was like the tyrannical woman who’d embarrassed Chi Tianjiao was someone else entirely. She even smiled when she saw how carefully he was watching the fight. “What? Are you afraid they’re going to beat me?”

Of course he didn’t. Jiang Yuan’s Discipline attributes spelled his doom, while Qian Bian just didn’t have the strength. Liquid metal wasn’t so difficult to defeat as one might think. Direct explosive force was simplest, and besides Qian Mu was still part human.

“I was just thinking about an acquaintance with similar abilities to Qian Bian,” Lan Jue mused.

His mind went to Ke’er, the Force Tempest 1. Those two were very similar indeed! A single Adept with the power of two. Ke’er’s ‘participation’ in the Northern experiments had involved the best technology available, and it appeared the same held true for Qian Bian 2. His Discipline was higher than Kun’er’s, but Lan Jue felt like he was missing something his Amazon already had.

The Pharmacist’s gentle voice intruded. “There is no future for a thing half man, half machine. Understanding protogenia requires that we have an understanding of ourselves. Titan is different, though. They built him to join with his Discipline so that they might grow together. For Qian Bian, they tried to force him in to power.”

Lan Jue suddenly understood what it was that made Ke’er and Qian Bian different. The Amazon’s abilities were metalmorphosis and explosive energy, and the metals they had used to remake her had not been your run-of-the-mill variety. Really, the thing that had been most affected had been her Core, which they’d catalyzed to make it grow. So one difference between the two was that the experiments on Ke’er were of a higher grade. Lan Jue vaguely remembered Ke’er telling him that, when she did it, the success rate for this sort of thing was very small. It was because of her than Qian Bian existed at all.

On the field, the fight had reached a fever pitch.

 

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Qian Bian opened with a salvo of powerful energy blasts. His style and powers were commonly encountered in the North, though few ever reached his level. With his Disciplines in tune, he blasted Jiang Yuan’s side of the ring with missile fire. The six-barrel cannons that his arms had become, belched like raging dragons. Pyroblast Missile!

Glimmering flashes could be seen in the area around Qian Bian’s shoulders. His liquid form undulated, and from somewhere inside two enormous orbs of energy launched outward. They screamed through the air right toward Jiang Yuan, with a smoldering tail of fire in their wake.

As Qian Bian was summoning the pyroblast missiles, Jiang Yuan called forth his dark scepter. He pointed, summonging an enormous skull that blocked the path to him. Qian Bian’s missiles grew closer and, just as they looked as though they would reach their target, a sickly green light erupted from the skull’s eyes. When the light reached the missiles, they exploded in midair. The resulted blast buffeting the whole interior of the battlefield.

Jiang Yuan remained behind the destructive glare of the skull, all the while muttering curses. Pus-green orbs of toxic power were flung every which way. Dark glyphs hung in the air around him, tainting the piece of reality they inhabited. They slowly began to converge.

Qian Bian had an idea of his foe’s abilities from the pre-fight research. Jiang Yuan’s curses weren’t random, but precise and all-pervasive. So, once he knew that Jiang Yuan would be his opponent, he was ready – more than ready. Victory against the necromancer would be won by direct, explosive force. The longer he waited, the more likely his defeat became.

While Jiang Yuan was dealing with the missiles, the convert crouched low then launched himself in to the air. His body changed as he soared, before crashing to the ground in the form of an artillery gun.

It didn’t look like much, size wise, but the barrel was downright huge. The dark maw of the weapon began to glow red as the power within raged to be let free. An unseen energy reverberated all around them.

Jiang Yuan’s eyes narrowed, clearly sensing the ominous surge from his opponent. The protective skull before him was little more than fractured bone after the pyroblast missile strikes.

A cold, hard look appeared in the necromancer’s eyes, and he took a threatening step forward. At once, the putrid aura swelled to cover him entirely. His growling voice became great cries of profanity.

The arena shook with the terrible power of his voice. Everyone who heard felt their head begin to spin, and those unfortunate spectators who were not Adepts began to wretch uncontrollably.

Light around the arena shifted as the force field readjusted to the threat. Gradually, the necromancer’s poisonous words were locked away within the ring. Just in time, for in that moment Qian Bian’s attack had charged. The gun roared as a beam of saffron yellow erupted from within to devour the field.


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  1. Embarrassing.. I can’t remember if I’ve titled her before. If someone knows whether I have, please let me know and I’ll adjust.
  2. As an aside, his name is 千变, ‘ten thousand changes.’

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