Chapter 219: The Old Fox’s Coercion
Wu Junyi nodded. “I knew from the outset you got hired through a recommendation from that respected old master. Knowing that, I didn’t want you here as an electives teacher. Frankly speaking, when the dean asked that we start you at the associate professor level, I balked. I was in complete disagreement. Now I saw that I was short-sighted. I’d like to apologize to you, Professor Lan.” As he spoke, he actually bowed low at the waist to his employee.
Lan Jue immediately lept to his feet, pulling Director Wu up.
Just then, a powerful expulsion of force radiated from Wu Junyi’s shoulders. It was intense, and far beyond what any normal man could sustain.
Lan Jue’s response was immediate, and subconscious. His Discipline flared to protect him, however there was nothing to protect himself from. The frightening aura had dissipated.
No! Lan Jue’s face scrunched in a frown the moment he realized he’d been tricked. It was too late.
Sparks of dancing electricity raced over Director Wu’s body. A yellow light covered him like a membrane to protect from the emulsion, and yet he still had to step back until he bumped against the wall.
Lan Jue straightened, and a bitter smile spread across his face. “What’s this about, Director?”
The Director chuckled, pleased at the success of his deception. “It’s my own fault we never realized our school has such a great talent! Now that we know, however, it’s time to make adjustments. Professor Lan, as Director of Teaching Affairs for the National Eastern University, it is my opinion you are no longer a fit for teaching electives. I ask you pick a more suitable post, for everyone’s benefit. Hm… lightning. That was your discipline, wasn’t it? Powerful!”
Lan Jue sighed. This cunning fox! He was smart enough to catch the holes in my story.
“Director Wu, as it stands you currently have two choices: First, I immediately resign and leave the school. Second, you act like nothing has changed. I continue on with my etiquette class and no one’s the wiser. Peaceful, quiet co-existence.”
A pale blue light flickered around the mercenary king, an icy-cold light in his eyes. The entire teaching office grew heavy with an oppressive energy that threatened to suffocate Director Wu.
Wu Junyi’s suspicions had begun when he’d witnessed him arrive with the Accountant. It was the young scientist’s reputation that was the biggest give-away. And so, hearing Lan Jue had returned today, he went first thing to go and confront him. The sudden release of his powers had been a test.
As expected, Lan Jue had had no choice but to react with his own powers. He saw everything clearly then, why else would he be smiling so profusely?
Facing the younger teacher, under the weight of that terrible aura, he stood strong and still as though nothing were amiss 1. He let the Jewelry Master’s power wash over him like a tide, and did not resist.
“Fine.” Such was the Director’s response, much to Lan Jue’s surprise.
Of course Lan Jue didn’t really want to leave. He’d promised Zhou Qianlin he’d protect her in several years of service, and there was still so much left to his ‘sentence.’ What’s more, he was truly enjoying this relatively relaxed lifestyle. He was becoming used to it. Under these conditions, how could he want to give all of this up?
Wu Junyi’s face bore a small smile. “With your capabilities, Professor Lan, refusing a post of your choosing is a monumental waste of your talent. However, logic dictates that there must be a reason for your presence. A man of your status, here on a mission, certainly will not leave utill that mission is complete. If you’re willing to walk away from your duties, then I have nothing more to say 2.”
Lan Jue fixed Wu Junyi with those electric blue eyes. He stood tall and proud, a king in his kingdom – and he was, for as teaching director everything here was under his purview. But if he was a king, he was a rascally one!
“Director… being too smart is traditionally very bad for a person’s health,” Lan Jue threatened.
Wu Junyi would not be cowed, and when he addressed Lan Jue he did so with a righteous countenance. “My death means nothing if it’s for the development and future of our University.”
Lan Jue’s face went stiff. He was starting to realize that Director Wu’s greatest strength didn’t come from his Discipline, but instead from his scheming brain and insufferable pride!
“Is that really what you want?” Lan Jue asked helplessly.
Wu Junyi responded with a soft laugh. “Of course not! I’m here as a Director, re-evaluating an employee. It’s criminal to cover up a person’s talent, don’t you agree? Ah yes, and unless I’m mistaken the pilot of that blue mecha on Lir was you. Indeed, you are the hero of Lir – a hero for all of humanity. I’m sure there would be no end of media attention as they tried to uncover your plethora of courageous deeds. As your colleague, I feel it’s my responsibility to help you disseminate this information. I also deeply feel it would be in both of our best interests that we work from the same office.”
Lan Jue released a frustrated sigh. He wanted to allow his Discipline to explode like a volcano, but he fought to control it. Growling through gritted teeth, he addressed the cunning older man. “Conduct yourself with some kindness and integrity, Director!”
Wu Junyi chortled, a sinister smile plastered on his face. “I have always treated my companions with integrity! And now that you’ve shown your hand, I think it’s fair to assume Professor Tan’s miraculous upset during the educational exchange also bears your fingerprints. Tang Xiao has also been cagey about his whereabouts, so I took a look at the school’s security footage. He seems to be coming here to the electives building an awful lot lately. You are an instructor – we, are all instructors here. For the benefit of the next generation, for the future of our university, Professor Lan, I’d like to officially invite you to advance to an official post!” Wu Junyi’s voice had slowly grown more powerful and imperatorial as he spoke, until his majestic announcement rang with power and sincerity. 3
Lan Jue found his situation both hilarious and aggravating. This normally upright and righteous man, Director of the Teaching Department, now seemed nothing short of a miracle worker! With nothing but the faintest hints of subversion, he was able to uncover nearly all of Lan Jue’s lies.
“I ask you give me some time,” Lan Jue said in resignation.
Wu Junyi nodded without a hint of hesitation. “Of course, how long do you think you’ll need? I trust an hour is sufficient?” 4
“You’re pushing it,” Lan Jue hissed.
Wu Junyi raised his hands in capitulation. “Come now, contain yourself. I’m kidding. Three days. Professor you must understand, I haven’t the slightest idea why you’re here, or how long you’ll remain. Radical action was the only option left to me, to ensure you help our university as much as you can for the time you’re with us. I’m sure you can understand where I’m coming from.”
Lan Jue waved his hand in irritation. “Fine. Three days. You’ll have your answer by then.” With that, he returned to his seat.
Wu Junyi’s face bore a smirk dripping with guile and self-satisfaction. He turned on his heel and left.
However, he was stopped in his victory march by a pudgy face coming around a corner. Xu Renjian approached, and in a low voice asked, “How’d it go?”
Wu Junyi give him a big thumbs-up. “You’re a damned genius, dean. A damned genius! Hehe. He’s got nowhere to go. And he verified all of your suspicions. That was him on Lir, and he was behind our victory in the games. I had my own suspicious about how Professor Tan could suddenly become so proficient.”
The pudgy man’s face wobbled as he nodded. “Keep all of this in the strictest confidence, not a word to anyone. He he he… Now that we’re taking full advantage of this young man, after the grandmaster sent him to us, I almost feel bad.”
“Ah-choo!” Once Lan Jue had settled onto his chair, a sudden overpowering sneeze overcame him. 5
Director Wu is really too cunning! But no, that can’t be right. It couldn’t just have been him. Even as Director he couldn’t extend such a deal without the approval of higher-ups. There must be someone else pulling the strings.
The Dean! Two old foxes sussing me out. No wonder!
Lan Jue knew there was nothing for it. Now that it had progressed to this point it would be enormously difficult to wriggle his way out of it unless he asked the Keeper himself to intervene. But even that wouldn’t work! What Director Wu had said was true; their cause was righteous, the development of the next generation, and improving the strength of their mecha department. How could he refuse?
Did that mean he hadn’t any choice? Was he going to be forced to move to mecha combat?
Lan Jue was painted in to a corner. All he’d wanted was a quiet, peaceful life! If he accepted the post he’d absolutely have to put his whole heart and soul in to it. He’d certainly become the center of everyone’s attention. There weren’t any guarantees that his history as Zeus wouldn’t eventually be revealed. He had no shortage of enemies, not to mention his flagrant kidnapping of the Eastern Chairman’s daughter. During her wedding! If that were to happen, his only option would be to hole up in the Avenue for protection.
Was this truly the destruction of the peaceful existence he’d worked so hard for?
With no classes scheduled for the day, and his mood soured, Lan Jue prepared to leave for the Avenue. He had to think about things, carefully find his way.
He pondered the issue as he left the building, out onto the campus grounds.
What could he do? What was the right play? How could he protect both his identity and his hope for an easy life? He needed time to really examine the problem.
A cold voice intruded upon his thoughts as he wandered the streets. “If you dare run in to me, you’ll be writing your own death warrant.”
Lan Jue’s head shot up, and who should he see directly before him but the Savage Goddess herself, Tan Lingyun.
Lan Jue was in no mood to deal with her or her irrational anger. “Are you incapable of going around?!”
“Go around?” Her finely sculpted brows shot up. She, too, was in a sour mood after being unable to locate ‘Lei Feng.’
Lan Jue decided it wasn’t worth it, and stepped to the side. “Go on then, move along.” It was, after all, the gentlemanly thing to do.
Tan Ling huffed, and stormed off. As ever, she glared at him scornfully as she passed.
Lan Jue’s eyes lit up as he watched her leave, as though something had crossed his mind. His right hand curled in to a fist and beat against his chest. “Got it!”
- Pimp status achieved. ↩
- Pimp level, OVER NINE THOUSAND!!! ↩
- To truly understand the gravity of this proposal, you have to understand how government positions work in China. Working in a university is considered a solid government job, wherein you can almost never get fired. Tenure isn’t required, it’s just a life-long post unless you do something exceptionally crappy like murder someone. Even then it can be swept under the rug. Now these positions are, ninety-nine percent of the time, actually legally purchased. You spend several hundred thousand yuan and you can buy your way in to an eternal, cushy gig. They’re very rarely given on merit of ability, so for Wu Junyi to offer this to Lan Jue is veritably unheard of, and is a significant display of his respect for him. ↩
- Why isn’t this guy the hero of our story? ↩
- This is equivalent to the Western old-wives tale that your ears burn when someone’s talking about you. In China they said you sneeze when someone’s talking behind your back. ↩