Chapter 190: I Beg You to Help Professor Tan
Zhou Qianlin was surprised. “Could he even be a match for Professor Tan?”
Le Ziqian nodded. “His name is Su He. Have you heard of him?”
“Su He? You don’t mean the East’s famous Su He, do you?” Qianlin’s eyes opened wide at the revelation. She stared at her professor, flabbergasted.
Once again, he nodded. “I haven’t the slightest idea how Lir managed to convince him to join. It’s quite the problem. Even I’m impressed with the man, and I’m a hard one to enthuse. And unless I’m mistaken, we’ll be against him tomorrow for the research competition as well. Big problem. No wonder they agreed to it, with him on their side.”
“He was an academician at the Eastern R&D University by the age of twenty-six, and a Sovereign-ranked pilot. He should be around thirty-three now, about the same age as me. Differences in ability, however, are hard to determine. We participated in a competition before, and I envied his practical knowledge. In my youth, he was about the only person I truly admired.”
Qianlin looked concerned. “What should we do, Professor?”
A familiar, bitingly cold female voice rang through the arena. “If this Lir University puppet is so vehement about it, who am I to deny him. If he beats me, they win – just like him. He won’t gang up like they want us to, to make us look cheap.”
Le Ziqian patted his forehead in frustration. “This temper of yours, Lingyun,” he said with a sigh. “I understand her thinking, but it’s misguided. Three on one, we might have stood a chance. In an even fight, though…”
He trailed off, lost in some secret thought. He piped up again suddenly. “Mm, yes. This has to do with our Dean, Xu Renjian. Dean Xu’s research group is always in contest with Su He’s, and in fact the two are the largest in the alliance – with two radically different views on the subject. I fear Su He is here for one purpose, and that is to challenge Xu Renjian’s authority. That is why he’s with Lir University.”
Qianlin thought in silence for a moment before replying. “Do you think he’ll take it too far?”
Le Ziqian’s answer was delivered through a bitter smirk. “I like to think I understand the man, at least a little. Ordinarily, the most striking feature about him is his calm. Almost apathetic. But this guy’s conceit runs to the bone. The student Tang Xiao beat was more than likely his little apprentice, so their fight will be about him regaining face. As for Lingyun…”
He lapsed in to silence, anxiety clearly written on his face.
Wang Hongyuan leaped to his feet. Lan Jue tried to yank him back down. “What are you doing?”
Hongyuan slumped back in his chair. “Such an arrogant bastard. He wants to go three on one? Lemme show him what pride gets you.”
He’d barely finished the sentence before Tan Lingyun’s voice filled the arena. A cheer went up from the audience around them.
Lan Jue only smiled. “The Savage Goddess’ gumption really is impressive, eh?”
“Lingyun is strong,” Hongyuan conceded, “but do you think she’s strong enough to beat that punk?”
Lan Jue shook his head.
Wang Hongyuan gave him friend a scalding look. “You look down on her that much, eh? She’s an eight-ranked Disciple and a Sovereign-class pilot. You still don’t think she’s capable?”
“For him to propose this sort of contest, he must know more than the Lir leadership lets on. Plus, I know that man, and he’s undoubtedly stronger than Lingyun. His name is Su He,” Lan Jue remarked.
“Su He?” Wang Hongyuan wasn’t familiar with the name.
Lan Jue stared at him blankly. “Professor Wang. You’re not from the Eastern Alliance, are you. Unless I’m mistaken, I’d say Western. If that’s the case, it’s no surprise you don’t know him.”
Wang Hongyuan’s brows narrowed. “And that’s the reason for his vanity, I suppose. If Tan Lingyun should lose, I’m not sure this punk will stay his hand.”
Lan Jue opened his mouth to speak, when suddenly that familiar warmth arose against his chest where the Soulcaller gem rested.
Qianlin: You think you could help Professor Tan? That guy from Lir is supposed to be very strong.
Lan Jue: How am I supposed to help her?
I don’t know…
I’m begging you.
Are you unable to?
Is that your answer?
No problem. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this guy. I’d be interested to gauge his progress.
Lan Jue said nothing further, and the Soulcaller gem cooled.
“I have to visit the restroom. Excuse me.” Lan Jue rose, and meandered his way through the crowd.
Wang Hongyuan watched him leave from the corner of his eye. A smile spread across his face.
Jin Yan poked him. “Where’s Professor Lan go?”
“The bathroom,” he answered. “Call of nature, he’ll be back in a bit.”
Tan Lingyun cut the connection on her communicator. She watched Le Ziqian’s name fade from the screen.
“Su He!” Tan Lingyun’s pupils contracted. Le Ziqian’s revelations hadn’t deterred her, in fact only strengthening her resolve.
She looked up, surrounded by Wu Junyi and no small number of instructors from the mecha combat department.
“Professor Tan.” Wu Junyi took a step forward.
She took a deep breath. “I apologize, Director. I was impulsive. I should not have represented the school in that fashion. If we lose I’ll bear the consequences. You’ll have my resignation.”
Wu Junyi shook his head, smirking. “Alas, the Dean asked me to come here and tell you, you’ve done well. Your decision is the school’s decision. Win or lose, just keep our school’s positive momentum going!”
Tan Lingyun’s pretty face lit up in a rare smile, and she nodded her head. She settled on the floor, crossed her legs, and closed her eyes. She had to mentally prepare for what was to follow.
Wu Junyi wordlessly waved to the others, and the small group dispersed.
There was a thirty-minute interval between the student and teacher battles. It was sufficient time to reset and prepare.
Lan Jue leaned against a wall, tapping a number in to his communicator.
“Jewelry Master? What are you calling me for?” The voice that answered sounded less than pleased to hear from him.
“I need a favor.” Lan Jue said, smiling at the reaction.
“No! I haven’t forgotten how you guys treated me the last time.” The man sounded decidedly displeased.
“Remember that women don’t like petty men,” Lan Jue cooed. “You aren’t a petty man, are you Accountant?”
Indeed, it was the Accountant, and he remembered just as well as the poor man the way they left him stranded. Ostensibly the excuse was that there wasn’t any room in the car for him, the Amazons and Zeus all together. So they’d just left him there to find his own way back.
The Accountant’s angry voice shot back at him. “Don’t give me that crap. Introduce me to one of those ladies that follow you around, then, and maybe I’ll help.”
Lan Jue’s voice adopted a scornful tone. “You’re asking me to help you chase skirts. Just the fact you’re saying it makes your grandpa lose face. Are you going to help me or not? I can always ask someone else. Your grandfather definitely must know someone with the expertise I need. Someone who wouldn’t refuse a comrade in arms.”
“You will not mention any of this to my grandfather!” The Accountant suddenly sounded flustered.
“Then stop talking nonsense. So what’s the answer.”
“You’re like a damn slave master,” the Accountant lamented.
“I’m recording this.”
“What the hell do you want!”
Half an hour passed in the blink of an eye.
Su He and Tan Lingyun strode to their respective simulators and began running diagnostics.
“The simulated combat competition between the National Eastern University and Lir University will begin shortly. The combatants shall be; from the NEU, Professor Tan Lingyun; from Lir University, Professor Su He. Would both challengers please prepare. The combat map shall be chosen at random.”
Tan Lingyun’s hands darted over the simulated controls, tapping away to their own rhythm. The screen flashed with each command. She was ready, at her best, and anxious to get under way.
“The map for this battle shall be: Sky.”
An air battle!
In truth the Sky arena wasn’t entirely in the air. There was cloud cover, for instance, and more. They changed the necessary tactics and flow of a fight. In the end the differences between an air and ground fight were as different as night and day. It opened up entirely new avenues of strategy, however there was a higher reliance on pilot control.
In the next instant, two mechas appeared in the map.
Tan Lingyun’s suit was a pale green, which rose eighteen meters tall. Just by the look of it, it was clear dexterity was its focus. This was affirmed with the two small metallic wings bolted to its back frame. The whole thing was surrounded by a faint green light – undoubtedly a characteristic of a powerful gem at its core.
Su He’s suit was yellow. It was taller than his opponent’s, with a streamlined construction that made it look more aerodynamic. A massive laser canon was strapped to its back. Like Hua Qianhu before him, this one looked like a sniper mecha.
“Three. Two. One. Begin!”
The digitized voice rang out, and with that the deciding fight in the instructor combat exchange commenced.
Aleady the NEU had cinched the student battles. Winning here, and in the real fights, would mean an unequivocal victory for the research school. But they were only halfway there.
The entire audience sat on the edge of their seat. Every eye was locked on the giant projector screens.
As soon as she heard the word begin, Tan Lingyun’s mecha was on the move. The pale green suit emitted a cocoon of disruptive energy as she raced towards her opponent. However, a close look would reveal that her seemingly straightforward rush was actually punctuated with precise jukes and dodges.
It was a step above disordered movement, a style they called Anticipative Advance. The tiny movements deterred ranged combat, while still optimizing forward momentum. A high-level tactic used primarily for snipers.
This fight was going to be an intense one.