While Varian's improvized plan was about to be launched in the solar system, the situation in Zion duchy began to shift.

It was marked by the presence of the arrival of someone unexpected.

The people of the capital star system, throughout the ten planets watched the screens at their homes in anticipation.

10 billion.

That's the death count caused by the green star during the short duration. Panic had reached unprecedented levels.

It didn't matter if it was ancestral home or a burning legacy, people sold everything they could and took flight.

It had only been six short hours, but the population went from 300 billion to 250 billion.

Unlike humanity during the Neptune evacuation, Zions had adequate technology for mass travel.

So, the ones who could and were determined to leave left quickly. This was despite many officers trying to make people stay one way or another.

Almost 50 billion more were just forced to stay. Estimates suggested that around 100 billion were trying to wrap things up and leave after fixing a proper destination.

Only 100 billion, 1/3rd of the whole population, reported that they'd stay here and if needed, die here.

Now, it was these loyal people who felt more joy than anyone else.





The crowds chanted praises for the savior who rushed back, filling their hearts with a sense of security.

The thirty planets, hundreds of moons, and an even larger number of space cities began to chant.

As if the planet itself was singing alongside them, the loud, heart-thumping praises echoed.

As he landed on the administrative region—Purple Moon or as it was called publicly, the Purple Crescent Crown—Xoler was in goosebumps at the response he received.

But upon thinking how badly the populace had been affected that his mere return gave them this much hope, a harrowing pain engulfed the prince.

These people were behaving as if they were abandoned—by their ruler, army, peers, and even fate itself.

They wouldn't be so wrong to draw such a conclusion.

Duke Jataur had been missing.

The army, before Oleg, had a section of it flirting and jumping on ship with a foreign power. After Oleg, the army started indiscriminate, insidious 'traitor' finding which only resulted in motivated killings.

The rich Zions didn't care for their poorer brethren. They took all the important stuff they could—critical medicine, stocks of food, saved money. Some of it was legal, some of it was not. But all of it was immoral.

And fate—perhaps this was the biggest of them all. Zions had no idea what and why everything was happening. It's like someone just woke up one day and decided to royally screw them over.

"People," Xoler took a deep breath and said out loud. "I am back!"

His assuring voice resounded throughout the capital and was quickly broadcast across the duchy. There was finally a sense of relief and security.

He glanced at the military leaders gathered outside the administrative building, with Oleg in a duke's ceremonial robe at the front, and frowned.

"Oleg, why did you dis—"

"Why are you so late?" Oleg lashed out. "Have you shown your face now that the duchy is finally safe? My cowardly brother, you might be a rank higher than me but your courage is generations lower."

Xoler wasn't just surprised by those words, he was surprised that Oleg was broadcasting everything.

"And you call me—the duke—by name? How dare you?! Is this the respect you show to our law?" Oleg's voice was calm and chilly.

Inwardly, however, he was gnashing his teeth, wondering why Xoler hadn't died.

'Why? Why? That formation just saved the duchy! I was ready to die for this duchy even if nothing happened! Now you come up and want to take all credit? No fucking way! Father said it's mine! The duchy is my rightful inheritance! Mine!'

Feeling the disgruntled look on his brother's face, Xoler realized that things might have reached a point of no return.

He was already suspicious of Oleg's act of disappearing suddenly during the mission and his involvement in Champion Gor as well as Hybrid Mor's incident.

Now, his actions were all indicating one thing.

'This brother of mine wants the throne. When everyone is so scarred by the near-death experience, he's willing to broadcast our conversation to garner support. He doesn't understand the severity of the issue or the sensitivity of the public at this time.'

Xoler's gaze cooled down. From skepticism to outright hostility, the prince's view of the current affairs changed.

He had to first set the affairs right. For that to happen, Oleg was an obstacle.

"Prince Oleg, you better give up the throne and leave or I'll have to take it, along with your head."

"See! This is his honest intention! This butcher is no savior, people!" Oleg yelled at the screens and summoned a scepter that was only used by the duke.

With a single tap, a formation began to activate on the purple moon. Right from the start, the pressure crushed rank 5s to the ground and burdened rank 6s.

"You crazy son of a…" Xoler didn't take any chances. He grabbed into the void and the space-time around Oleg twisted.

"No, no. Nonnono! Noo!"

As a tremendous force of gravity pressed him together, the prince struggled for a way out. But he was crushed like a bug and died a sudden, ugly, and helpless death. The eldest prince's dream of becoming the duke didn't even last for a week.

Prince Xoler glanced at the military officers, some of whom grew closer to Oleg and wanted to speak up.

An invisible pressure slammed them on their shoulders and the auras in their body began to riot.

"I will be the Duke from today." Xoler grabbed the scepter and tapped it on the ground twice.

The broadcast fluctuated before focusing on the new prince.

"Any doubts?"

His voice resounded throughout the duchy. The military officers, the strongest still being only rank 6, didn't oppose the rank 7 prince. The public gaped at the turn of events in utter silence.

When Xoler thought things would go smoothly from here on—

"Did you lot really think you ended me?" A deep voice rang across the main star system, filled with contempt and derision.

A green light began to shine at the edges of the star system. The public was scared into sobbing once they glanced at the familiar green light.

Prince Xoler frowned. "Come out and fight."

"Hehehehe, Why? Are you too scared to come out? Don't you want to avenge the billion or ten billion lives?" The deep voice mocked on.

Prince Merov hadn't healed. His injuries were so severe that he had to hide for now. But he had no problem playing this part.

"Prince, don't risk it. The man wasn't a normal rank 7, it—"

"It's Duke." Xoler corrected and a mark flashed on his forehead.

He appeared at the edge of the star system, his aura sweeping the surroundings and killing intent drowning everything in sight.

"Come out."

The howls of three creatures was the answer.

A winged wolf, a White tiger, and a Tri-headed snake.

All of them low rank 7.