Chapter 153: The East’s Sorrow
The high-altitude verti-car steadily made its descent to the southern parking lot behind Skyfire Avenue. The two doors spread open like mechanical wings, and four attractive women exited.
“Stop faking boss, we’re back.” Mika called to Lan Jue, lazily sitting in the back seat with his eyes shut. She still didn’t sound pleased with him.
“Eh… oh, we’re here! I’m so tired, I’m just going to go right in and head to my room. Just so so tired.” Lan Jue pulled himself from the car and groggily stumbled towards the Avenue.
Zeus’ four amazons naturally fell in to formation around him, placing their boss in the center and walking back towards the shop.
Inwardly Lan Jue was fighting a smile. Dismissing the ladies this time would prove to be a daunting task.
The door to the jewelry shop opened, and he once again found himself in that world of sapphire blue. Lan Jue stopped and raised his hands in a show of capitulation. “Alright, ladies. This is all my fault. Whatever you say is how it’ll be, and I’ll accept my punishment without question. Ok?”
Xiuxiu’s eyes were red, and wet from tears. “How could you be like this, boss? Even with your injuries you still sneak out. Then this happens, you’re out there all alone and what are we supposed to do?”
“Don’t cry Xiuxiu, don’t cry.” Lan Jue hurried to comfort her.
Ke’er was next, and stuck out her ruby lips petulantly. “You’re the one talking about punishment. We just want to talk about what happened and be clear.”
“That’s right,” Mika’s strict voice interjected.
Lan Jue looked towards Guoguo to save him from the angry ladies, but was met with her pained expression.
“So what do you want me to do,” he said helplessly.
Ke’er moved to his side, dragging a stool behind her. She forced Lan Jue to sit. Mika saddled up before him. “Three rules. Agree and we’ll forget all about what happened today, otherwise… otherwise we’re all leaving. After all, if you can’t even consider your own safety, you can’t be expected to take care of us. If that’s the case what are we still doing here? Right ladies?”
“That’s right!” The other three women chimed in.
“What is this a mutiny?!” Lan Jue glared at the four of them in turn before rising to leave. However, before he could get far the four women converged on him. Four sets of sad, pained, angry eyes pinned him in place. Under their unified assault his indignation was useless. He sat back down.
“Alright, fine. Speak your piece,” he grumbled.
Mika continued. “First, we must always be appraised of your whereabouts.”
“Second, no matter where you go, at least one of us must be with you at all times,” Xiuxiu added.
Ke’er was next. “The third we’ll hold in reserve. If something else crops up that needs dealing with, we’ll revisit this rule.”
Lin Guoguo was last. “In conclusion, I hope you understand that your life isn’t your own. What happens to you has an effect on all of us. You absolutely mustn’t ever dump us again to go galavanting. If you want to see us cry, then go right ahead. But that’s when we leave you forever. We’re here for you the same way you’re here for us, so if there really is a problem you have to face we’ll be there to look after you. Like we said when facing the Archangels, we live and die together.”
“You heard it.”
It would take far more than any normal man possessed to stand against the pressure these four Amazons were putting on Lan Jue. He almost felt himself breaking out in a cold sweat. “Ok, you got it. I agree completely, settled?”
Mika towered over him. “Take this seriously!”
Lan Jue wordlessly and vehemently nodded his head. Finally, the slightest hint of a smile spread across her face.
“Long live Zeus and the Amazons!” Ke’er shot her fists in the air, then high-fived Lin Guoguo. Xiuxiu’s teary eyes dried instantly. Mika stood there looking infinitely pleased with herself, hands on her hips. “Remember boss, a real man stands by what he says!”
Lan Jue was helpless, and simply sat looking at the four victorious ladies. But despite his dressing down, in the depths of his heart he was proud and appreciative.
Ah, home. Indeed, this was his home. And these women weren’t his maids or servants, they were more like sisters. With them near, this was home.
Ke’er tittered as she bounced happily to Lan Jue’s side. “You look tired boss, let me give you a back rub.”
Lin Guoguo followed her. She snapped up Lan Jue’s left hand. “I’ll relax your hands.”
Xiuxiu wordlessly moved to his right, getting to work on his arm.
Mika dropped to a knee and shot him a charming smile. “Foot rub?” 1
Lan Jue’s voice was serious when he addressed them. “I will not be fooled by your sugar-coated bullets!”
One minute later.
The sound of fitful snoring filled the shop.
“The boss really was tired.” Ke’er’s fingers danced from Lan Jue’s shoulders up to his head. She gently kneaded his scalp.
Xiuxiu replied, her voice terse. “Those beasts on Taihua must have been terribly dangerous, and we still don’t know what happened. It’s clear he doesn’t want to talk about it. From what the news is saying, it must have been terrible.”
Lin Guoguo sniffed in agitation, though the look she shot Lan Jue was gentle. “He stayed back to help save the others, otherwise how would his abilities have recovered like this. If he wasn’t already hurt those monsters wouldn’t have stood a chance.”
“Not of that matters to me,” Mika sad harshly. “He’s my boss, I want him to be safe and at ease. If he died, I’d probably bury myself with him.” Her hands inadvertently increased their pressure as she massaged his leg.
Lan Jue stirred somewhat. The Stygian Succubus quickly reigned in her anger, and her grip softened.
A bloodcurdling roar tore through the dense forest.
“This is Gamma Unit. Gamma Unit reporting. We’ve encountered some sort of orangutan-like monster. It’s quick, and very strong. Our laser rifles aren’t doing anything. We need some support, send backup right away.”
“Wait, look out. Ah! Com-“
A series of pained screams arose. All was dim, chaotic.
A dazzling, clear blue figure appeared then. In the blink of an eye the purplish beast was burnt black as coal. It didn’t even have time to scream.
“Ah! What the hell was that?! A mecha! A huge one. We’re saved, saved! Hell yeah! These must be the reinforcements.”
“Damn! Look up there, what the hell is that? Watch it, it’s coming straight for our ship.”
“No good. Look there, that ship’s been wrecked. It’s coming right for us. Full speed ahead. Full speed!”
“It’s too late!”
Suddenly, a resplendent flash of golden light washed over them. A dazzling sapphire figure thundered by, followed by a monster’s pained cry.
The maroon mecha moved with terrifying speed. It vanished in a flicker of sanguine color, appearing again a moment later in another spot. The monster it was facing was cut asunder. The machine continued on without any hesitation, like it was duty-bound.
A group of trembling children stood below it, none older than perhaps ten. Another group of adults were no far off, lying in a pool of blood. It looked as though they had died warding the children from something.
The purple monstrosity collapsed to the floor with a thud.
As the mists faded, the dark red mecha became more distinct. It reached out its large mechanical hand and gathered the kids together.
Their shrill cries for help hung in the thick air of the forest. Unfortunately, their parents could no longer protect them.
The images shone on every eye, three-dimension and stark. As the news images flickered from the holographic emitters, the heart of every on-looker was heavy with terror over what they saw.
Time and again the red and blue mecha appeared before them, fighting off beasts and protecting tourists. The most frequently spied was the sapphire mecha, but it was too fast for the satellite images to get a clear picture. Still it’s flashing bolts of lightning were unmistakable, and with each burst of energy another monster was slain, and another group saved from certain death.
The news also showed another, a young woman covered in green light, who battled the creatures with nothing but a machete.
And then the golden man, with blades of light in his hands that ended whatever beast crossed his path.
Most striking, however, was the last few images. They revealed an enormous colossus, far larger than all the others. It writhes in pain as a quiet silver light slowly carved it in to pieces.
Viewers stared wide-eyed and open-mouthed as the images flashed past them. They fought to watch through misty eyes and choking sobs.
The videos and images continued for another half an hour before they finally stopped. They were replaced with the pretty face of a female news anchor.
“What you’re witnessing is an unprecedented disaster, one that invariably fills each of us with a deep sadness. However, this great tragedy has also shown us the might of the human spirit. Several great heroes arose when they were needed. They charged in to the enemy ranks, fearless despite the odds against them. They pressed on to save the lives of their fellow man. This includes our brave fighting men and women of Taihua who are all worthy of our respect and admiration. Unfortunately, our recent reports reveal that seventy percent of the soldiers garrisoned on Taihua have been lost. Seventy percent of our righteous protectors fallen, having given their lives for our brothers and sisters of the Eastern Alliance, and in defense of our sovereign territory.”
“Other than those brave soldiers, there were more heroes who chose to remain behind and fight against the invaders, who brought great power to bear against our enemies. In light of this information, our station is launching an effort to uncover the identity of these courageous individuals. As we’ve seen, not all of these great saviors managed to escape Taihua with their lives, but it is our duty to find the ones that did and thank them for their service. At the very least, they should be showered with flowers and applause. I’m sure those that were saved by their actions would like to personally give their thanks. To our heroes, your actions bring you glory that rings through all of the three alliances!” 2
Her voice rose in power and emotion as she spoke, with the images of the mechas and soldiers flashing continuously on the large screen behind her.
“As we near the end of this broadcast, I’d like to say – I’m still single. If any of you valiant young men are hearing this, I’d like to take you out for a drink.” As she spoke, she rose to her feet to point directly at the streak of blue light that soared passed the screen behind her!
- Is this for real? Ridiculous… ↩
- As a foreigner, this news report might sound a little strange. Very flowery and dramatic. I’d thought about ‘drying out’ the language a little to make it seem more in line with what we might expect a news report about a national tragedy to be, but in reality channels in china like CCTV and Xinhua – mouthpieces of the government – deliver reports just like this. ↩