Chapter 228: Prince of Devils?
“Getting in to the special ARC curriculum was one of the luckiest breaks I ever had in my life – and at the same time, one of the unluckiest. That short period will forever be etched on my soul. It was then I learned the true meaning of hardship. There were so many times when I just wanted to quit, to walk away. But, every time those thoughts entered my mind I looked to the people standing beside me. If they could sustain in the face of these difficulties, why couldn’t I? Of course I could! I would think about my future, about what would happen if I became a legendary pilot. I promised myself that the first thing I’d do was defeat the demon drillmaster! Not just a demon… he was the Prince of Devils, and I promised myself I’d show him the torture he put us though.”
These crack students were very familiar with the sim pods that dotted the warehouse. One after the other, they entered them as naturally as climbing in to bed.
Director Wu patted Lan Jue’s shoulder, then turned and left. He did not remain to supervise for, after all, it was he who sent for Lan Jue to teach the class. He trusted the young man’s capabilities explicitly, not to mention it was a plan concocted in tandem with Dean Xu. It was beyond lucky to have found this God-ranked pilot hidden among their staff, and a great boon to have him teaching for them. If in the end their gamble paid off, it would be the dawn of a new age for their university.
Lan Jue nodded towards Wang Hongyuan, and the two entered their own sim pods to get the class under way.
As they did, a figure ran in from outside.
The Savage Goddess looked heroic, almost valiant in her tight-fitting flight suit. However, her face was dark with rage. She arrived just as Director Wu was making his exit.
“What’s the meaning of this, Director.” She veritably growled at her superior as they met in the hall.
The teaching affairs director reacted to her attack with a nonchalant air. “What’s the matter, Professor Tan? Is there something I can assist you with?”
The Savage Goddess spoke with a clear undertone of rage. “You’re asking me what the problem is? What’s the meaning of calling away all of my best students, including Zhou Qianlin. And now I’m just hearing now about this Advanced Robotics Combat class you’ve started. Why wasn’t I told about any of this? What’s this class all about?”
Tan Lingyun had had her own mecha combat class in the afternoon. She’d first noticed something wrong when, during roll call, she discovered all of her best students were absent. Not a one was present. She only earned about the ARC curriculum after asking about them. She was out the door practically before her students finished telling her about it.
Director Wu looked awkwardly at the famed instructor. “Lingyun. Calm yourself. Everything happened rather quickly, so we didn’t have the opportunity to bring all of our instructors up to speed. The fault lies with me, but understand that this is very fortuitous for our school. An advantage for our students that couldn’t be disregarded. This is a chance that comes only once in a lifetime. So I must ask that you forgive me the circumstances, and trust that all will be explained moving forward.”
Doubt and displeasure were written clear on the Savage Goddess’ face. She walked with the Director as they left the building.
“What on earth is going on, Director? Is this ARC class really that important?”
Wu Junyi conversed with her in somewhat hushed tones. “We’d originally hoped to keep this a strict secret. However, your contributions to this school, and your professional ethics are without question – so I’ll tell you. You must promise not to share this information with anyone. If you do, it could cause immeasurable damage to our university. Do you understand?”
Tan Lingyun’s face gradually shed its angry expression as Director Wu went on. When she spoke, her voice was also hardly a whisper. “So what’s going on?”
“We’ve invited a God-ranked pilot in to our school,” Wu Junyi began. “A guest professor. However, as you know these pilots are rare and powerful individuals. This man’s particular demands were that his identity remains a secret. Not a soul is to know who he truly is. He’s promised to carve out some time every week from his schedule, to train our students in his craft. Because his tenure here is temporary, we concocted this class as the best opportunity to utilize his abilities while he’s here. It was for these reasons we didn’t discuss this with you – or anyone else, for that matter.”
“A god-ranked pilot? 1” The single phrase came as an utter shock to Tan Lingyun. Her pretty eyes were large, and her face was incredulous. A mysterious figure swam though her mind as the information was revealed.
Wu Junyi only nodded in confirmation.
Tan Lingyun felt off-kilter. The revelation threw her heart in to chaos. Her red lips slowly curled in to a smirk.
“What’s his name?”
Wu Junyi shook his head at her. “I can’t tell you. I’ve promised to keep this a secret. If I break this promise he’ll leave, and we’ll have thrown away a chance at having a God-ranked teacher instructing our students. You tell me, how would that affect our school?”
The passionate woman immediately nodded, indicating she understood. But she drew to a stop, and her eyes stared off in to the distance as she pondered.
Wu Junyi stop as well, and turned to face her. “I hope you understand the circumstances Professor Tan, and the gravity of it all. From the school’s perspective, this was unquestionably the right move. If it has caused you any trouble, allow me to apologize on behalf of the administration.” 2
She was shaken from her silent musing, immediately shaking her head at Director Wu. “I’m anxious that so many of our best students are being called away. Even considering this instructor’s status as a God-ranked pilot, I’m still worried. I have a request.”
Director Wu regarded her calmly. “And what’s that?”
“I would also like to participate in the ARC classes,” Tan Lingyun announced. “If this instructor you’ve brought really is a God-ranked pilot, then he must be quite powerful. In that case, I could stand to learn a few things as well. It would benefit everyone.”
Surprise lit up the director’s face, but after a moment he nodded. “Certainly, I encourage you to participate. They should already be in the sim warehouse with class under way. I’ll go with you, explain things to the instructor.”
The two of them turned around, and entered the room Wu Junyi had just vacated. They found a couple empty pods, and turned them on.
DreamNet, National Eastern University Special Area
By now all of the students had arrived, together again in their various mecha suits. Each were as unique as the students who piloted them. Naturally, one’s financial resources played a part in the mecha they possessed in DreamNet. Like anything, the more money you had at your disposal, the better your equipment would be.
It meant there were a wide variety of students under his direction – both in terms of skill and equipment.
What was surprising to them, though, were the two very low key – and yet very familiar – mecha suits standing before them.
Sabermechs! The most basic model available without just being a metal frame. Each had a name hanging over their head; Little Flea, and Nooblet.
What kind of special instructors are these, they thought? Did they think this was a joke? One by one, hidden in their dark sim pods, the students’ faces adopted various shades of contempt.
Of course, not everyone shared the same idea.
Neither Tang Xiao nor Tang Mi cracked a smile. Upon seeing ‘Nooblet’ flash before her, Tang Mi’s teeth immediately began to grind in rage. However, she bit back on the old young to her pride. She knew without a doubt that this Nooblet was as good as they say.
As for Tang Xiao, who else was more aware of the truth around Nooblet than he? This special instructor, their drillmaster, the Prince of Devils, was his master!
He’d had suspicions the moment he’d heard Lan Jue give his speech. Calling himself a devil was an even more obvious hint. However, his Master was employing some sort of voice modulation, so the voice wasn’t what he was expecting, and it threw him off.
He couldn’t believe the school had somehow convinced Professor Lan to teach mecha combat. It was that fact that caused him to be surprised.
For the last few days, Tang Xiao had dutifully been showing up to suffer the torturous blows of Mika. However, despite the discomfort he could clearly see improvement in his practice bouts with the Stygian Succubus. In the half a month since they began, he felt his previously stagnant Discipline improving by leaps and bounds. And there was something else, something more. It felt like a wall… a membrane or something that was preventing him from moving faster. But he could feel it tearing.
It was an intense source of excitement for Tang Xiao. And after that day, when he routed the Lirian challengers, his respect for his Master only grew. With a woman like Mika under his command, how powerful was he?
His only regret up to this point was that the Master hadn’t trained mecha combat with him personally. That changed today, much to his surprise.
“You all think your mechas are pretty nice, right? Your pride and joy.” Any icy, accusing voice hung in the cockpits of each student.
Silence prevailed. Fifty students, the tops of their classes, each suffered a collective shudder as fear passed through them. Of course they were arrogant, regarded as treasures of the university. And yet they knew, instinctively, that their masked teachers were something more than normal men.
Lan Jue’s cutting voice rattled in their ears. “Today’s class is simply, children. You have one task only; defeat Nooblet, and Little Flea. Once that happens, we call it a day. You’ve got the next five minutes to discuss tactics, then we see how much work we’ve got ahead of us. While you chat, my associate and I will turn off comms.”
Two flashes punctuated the drillmaster’s instructions. A peridot and onyx mecha appeared once the glare receded.
Nooblet stomped over.
It was Wu Junyi’s voice he heard first. “I apologize for the sudden interruption, Professor. This is one of our faculty, Tan Lingyun. She herself is a sovereign-ranked pilot, and would like to participate in your class. She’s very excited to study under you. Will this be alright?”
Tan. Ling. Yun. The green mecha, those three syllables, set the students in to a tizzy.
Tan Lingyun was here. The Savage Goddess! In the eyes of her students, she was God-ranked, and no one could tell them different.
But that’s right! With Professor Tan among them, why would they bring these strange outsiders to teach? Could this mean that this man could be even more powerful than their dear Savage Goddess? Were that so, it would mean this man was God-ranked himself! Was it possible?
- Is everyone on Skyfire hard of hearing? It it like a space-culture thing to repeat what everyone says, like to prove you’re listening or something? Will re-stating what was just expressed to you somehow dissipate the overwhelming surprise rattling your brain? Boggles the mind. ↩
- And another thought. How can he be so hard with Lan Jue – a man whose Discipline could obliterate him – but when it comes to the Savage Goddess he’s practically a pussy-cat. Where’s the guy who stared down a Divine Monarch and didn’t blink? Is this really the best way to handle a staff member with a famously bad temper, who consistently disrespects not only other teachers but also her boss? I’m disappointed in you, Director. ↩