The residents here were all capable of combat at some level. They had all decided that Ye Chong’s group members had demonstrated incredible strength, strong enough to qualify them as Jie experts! Only Jie experts could be so strong.
Nine Jie experts!
This was unthinkable! No one would believe that nine Jie experts were fighting together without seeing it for themselves. Jie experts were the strongest in the hierarchy of combat expertise, the pinnacle of achievement in the ancient art of combat. Generations of combat experts thought of the Jie experts as shrouded in mystery.
There were not many Jie experts in He Yue galaxy. You can count them all with your fingers. They were mostly enlisted by larger organizations, often responsible of combat instruction for the organization’s inner disciples. They rarely showed themselves outside, only taking on the occasional role of bodyguard. Even the Ye family, with the most number of Jie experts, had only five of them.
Now, they were nine Jie experts on the streets! Just where did they come from?
Ye Chong did not look back at the corpses, since he knew that no one would survive their attack. He said, "Let’s go," and the group vanished before the spectators’s eyes.
That was too creepy! They moved eerily fast. If anyone still had their doubts about the group’s strength as Jie experts, they were quickly disillusioned.
The scent of blood filled the air. One could hear some witnesses vomiting beyond the scene.
Up in the air of Foundation city, another form of battle was taking place.
300 mechs, made up of forces from three different sides, were at a stalemate in the skies. The tension was thick enough to cut through with a knife. None of the mechs dared to make any movements. Their strengths were almost equal to one another. If any side attacked first, the other two sides might just cooperate and finish off the instigating side.
This disquieting scenario was a conundrum for the leaders on all three sides. However, none of them dared to make a move, for fear of suffering the fatal threat from the combined forces of the other two sides.
Luo Xing was growing more and more anxious. While he knew from Lady Xue that the other two families would make their move, he did not expect them to act so quickly. Under the circumstances, he had no choice but to stay where he was.
He could only pray that the combat experts under him would do the job. It should not be a problem, with 36 against nine. He was familiar with all the combat experts. They had all completed their ascetic training, and a few of them were even successors to some ancient combat techniques. All in all, these 36 combat experts were a formidable force in Foundation city.
It had decades since the last time the Three Aristocratic Families had openly faced-off one another. Foundation city was now in a critical state. Every mech pilot with a mech had slipped into their mechs right away. Given the situation, only a mech could protect them. In just 10 minutes, the sky above Foundation city was filled with mechs.
The surrounding spectators watched in horror at the 300 mechs confronting each other. If the three sides really started a battle, the city would suffer. The more insightful ones began to wonder it this was a herald of darker times to come. Once the Three Aristocratic Families started warring against one another openly, the He Yue galaxy would probably be plunged into a prolonged state of chaos.
No one knew the cause of this confrontation.
Just then, a large fleet of mechs were coming their way, with more than a thousand mechs. However, the people relaxed at the sight of this fleet. The battle would probably not come to be. The fleet came from the real ruler of the city, the Kuri tribe.
At last, the confrontation ended under the mediation of the Kuri tribe.
When Luo Xing saw his 36 men, his already agitated heart skipped a beat, and his face paled.
Nine Jie experts had killed in their merciless ways. Hundreds of mechs from the Three Aristocratic Families had nearly started a war. Kuri tribe’s interference had stopped that. Tension in Foundation city was rising. These news spread like wildfire across the entire He Yue galaxy. Even Hai Lian’s obscure reputation grew to a household name.
There were nine Jie experts. The number was hard to swallow. One could hear discussions everywhere about how nine Jie experts had seemingly appeared out of thin air, and killed 36 combat experts who had completed their ascetic training. More notably, these 36 combat experts were enlisted by the Xue Lan clan.
Who were these nine Jie experts? Why would they kill the 36 combat experts? How were they related to the Xue Lan clan? Rumours were abound.
Everyone was waiting for the nine Jie experts to make their next move. Jie experts were like mythical characters to the average person, enough to hook their curiosity.
However, the nine Jie experts and Hai Lian had vanished into thin air. The term "vanish" was never more appropriately used. They had disappeared without a trace. In fact, when the nine Jie experts started killing, they received unprecedented attention. All the major forces had ordered their spies in every city on Soundfall planet to look for the group. Even cities on planets around Soundfall received the same orders.
However, the group seemed to have vanished without a single trace.
The public’s attention was quickly diverted to the Three Aristocratic Families. The scale of their forces deployed for the group did not escape the public eye. Members of the Xue Lai clan’s Ten Pillars were sent to Soundfall. The Ye family’s elites had arrived on Soundfall. Xi Feng tribe’s trump cards were arriving on Soundfall. The list went on and on. All attention was on Soundfall.
An undercurrent was surging on Soundfall planet.
Ye Chong had no time to consider these matters. His side was overwhelmingly disadvantaged. Any direct confrontation would be fatal to them. The group was heading as fast as they could to where Sang Mu was. Ye Chong did not care to cover their tracks any longer as they ran with all they had. He had never run like this without holding back for a long time. The rest of group noticed, and picked up their pace. However, they were not used to depending on mechs to travel, like Ye Chong. The Sang family had their own ways of running; compared to Ye Chong, they were managing more easily. After 500 years of continuous improvements, their skills were more efficient and effective.
The group’s bloody methods had left the witnesses stunned. No one had dared to follow them.
They quickly reached where Sang Mu was.
"Take your mechs. Tie, pass Hai Lian to me. We’re returning to Sang Pu the rest as soon as possible."
"Ok, here," Sang Tie passed Hai Lian from his hands to Ye Chong’s. Poor Hai Lian, being manhandled from one person to another. He was a full adult, but was carried by Sang Tie and Ye Chong as though he weighed like nothing.
Ye Chong withdrew Han Jia and threw Hai Lian into the pilot cabin, then entering the cabin himself. The pilot cabin was not large, and now it was packed with just two people inside.
Hai Lian finally recovered his senses. When he saw Ye Chong coming into the pilot cabin, he quickly grew horrified. "Don’t … Don’t …" Could he be thinking of … Even for someone who had his share of debauchery like Hai Lian, he never thought that he would be on the receiving end …
Ye Chong took a glance at Hai Lian, not understand, but he had no time to think on it further. His hands were on the controls dashboard, and Han Jia was up in the sky the next moment. Inside Han Jia, Ye Chong finally heaved a sigh of relief. With him piloting Han Jia, he would at least stand a chance in battle.
Ye Chong thought Hai Lian’s mech was too slow, so he brought Hai Lian into the pilot cabin with him instead. He never thought that this decision had led to the illusion of the group vanishing into thin air.
Be it Ye Chong’s Han Jia or the group’s Collision mechs, they were all full-skeleton mechs. Full-skeleton mechs had excellent anti-detection properties that allowed them to safely evade the tight surveillance on Soundfall. The group had even crossed paths with a few flotilla of starships along the way, but none of them were aware of their existence.
Han Jia’s holographic scanning system was so simply that it was practically useless. Collision was even more primitive, that it did not have a holographic scanning system; only a small observing window was installed. It was nearly impossible for them to notice that they were pursued, if there ever were. On the other hand, the starships were all used to relying on holographic scanning systems that they never thought of using the ancient way of optical scanning!
However, Collision mechs had absolutely brilliant speed.
Once they reached where the base, Hai Lian finally realised how fast the odd-shaped mechs were, and that he had actually slowed down the group last time. He was quite jealous of them. His had prided on Moonlight for its speed, but compared to these odd-shaped mechs, Moonlight seemed to crawl like a snail.
No mech pilot would not yearn for a mech that can fly faster, much less a speed-type mech pilot like Hai Lian, who relied more on speed than anything.
Once back to the base, everyone instantly felt relieved.
However, the immediate problem presented itself - where should they go next?
Should they return to Archipelago? That was the last resort. The truth was, if they went back just like this, they would only feel dissatisfied, be it Ye Chong or the Sang family members. Since the Three Aristocratic Families and the Three Forces were closely related, there must be some way to travel between the He Yue galaxy and the Five Galaxies. However, from the fact that even Hai Lian had not heard of the Five Galaxies, this travelling route must be controlled by the Three Aristocratic Families, unbeknownst to outsiders. Ye Chong did the maths in his mind.
Mu and Shang were still somewhere out there. If they had reached the Five Galaxies, Ye Chong was sure that he would find them soon enough. He had sayed with the mech for so long, and had many shared memories in the Five Galaxies. With Mu’s meticulous nature, he would definitely keep watch of the places where they had been together. Once he reached one of those places, he would be able to get in touch with them.
The He Yue galaxy, however, was too unfamiliar to him. Connecting to Mu and Shang would be a difficult task.
The group gathered around.
Ye Chong asked, "Where in the He Yue galaxy is the influence of the Three Aristocratic Families weakest?"
"Where is the influence of the Three Aristocratic Families weakest? Let me think." Hai Lian knitted his brows together in deep thought. He knew that they had made enemies with the Xue Lan clan after that previous battle. It was too late for him to back out. Besides, from Ye Chong’s words, it seemed that the other two families were also involved. The only choice left for him would be to follow Ye Chong and his group to save his own hide.
Everyone looked to the frowning Hai Lian. None of them asked Ye Chong about his story with the Three Aristocratic Families. The man had become the leader of the Sang tribe in spirit. As for the Three Aristocratic Families or whatever, they were not scared at all. 500 years ago, the Sang family was one of the Four Aristocratic Families. They too had aristocratic blood flowing in their veins. Besides, they believed that as long as the good sir was with them, the Sang family would be restored to its former glory one day.
"Oh, right, I’ve thought of a place," Hai Lian said, excited. "Gray Valley, let’s go to Gray Valley."
"Gray Valley?" Ye Chong repeated the name as a question.
"Yes, Gray Valey." Hai Lian seemed unusually certain of it, and quickly explained, "Gray Valley is not an actual valley, but a region on the other side of the Calamitous Asteroid Belt. It comprises of 124 planets. Originally, the place was inhabited by some primitive tribes, but one day, some of the freelance pilots who felt distasteful against the aristocrats escaped to that place. Soon, the population grew, consisting of people who did not like the aristocrats. They offered a helping hand to the local tribes, and gradually gained their acceptance. As more and more people grew tired of the aristocrats, the population in Gray Valley increased. They rebelled against the aristocrats. Then, Gray Valley barred any aristocrats from entering. If any mech pilot was found to be from an aristocratic family, they would be hunted down until the ends of the world. This reaction comes naturally to the area’s inhabitants. Any Gray Valley resident would do it."
"So there’s a place like that," Ye Chong mused to himself.
"The aristocrats tried to take over Gray Valley before, but their forces were met with unprecedented resistance. The united fleet of all the aristocratic families were annihilated. Since then, the people knew that the aristocrats were not invincible."
Hai Lian’s mind wandered as he narrated the story. Stories about rebelling against power were always moving.
"However, Gray Valley is a dangerous place. No large organization could survive there. The largest body you’ll see is a small organization, like a mech squad. Fights are common, and the weak die fast. Mech pilots who enter the place are all the ones who are confident of their own abilities. Someone once said that the strongest mech pilots do not come from the Three Aristocratic Families, but from Gray Valley.
"It’s also the largest black market in the galaxy. In order to maintain stable trading activity, no one is allowed to attack trading fleets. That’s one of the Three Death Precepts."
"The Three Death Precepts?" Sang Fan asked, curious.
"That’s right. Anyone who violates the Three Death Precepts will be hunted down by all the Gray Valley residents. The first Precept is to not be an aristocrat, the second is to never harm local residents, and the third is to never attack trading fleets. Gray Valley residents can and will kill anyone who violates any of the Three Death Precepts, and they’ll even be heavily rewarded for it."
"Interesting," Sang Pu commented casually, a flicker of excitement quickly disappearing from his eyes.