Chapter 238: Tan Lingyun’s Excitement
Tan Lingyun’s eyes widened until they were like saucers. “Is it really you?” An intense blush reddened her cheeks – this mighty woman blushed like a schoolgirl, recalling everything that happened when they were locked together in that mecha suit.
“How… how did you get out, that day? I clearly remember locking the cockpit.” Tan Lingyun said softly, her head hanging.
“You still have the nerve to talk about it, after biting the hand that feeds you?” Lan Jue hissed back in irritation.
Tan Lingyun’s head shot up. Her tone was apologetic as she attempted to defend herself. “No! That wasn’t my intention. I just wanted to know who you really are. I needed to find out your identity and thank you for what you did.”
“Figure it out yet?” he asked.
“Remove the mask and let me see.”
Lan Jue’s eyes were hard and accusatory. “Tan Lingyun, let me make this clear. I am a special instructor under employment by the NEU. Right now, you may be an assistant, but you are also my student. If you wish to truly break in to God-class, then you need to concentrate on absorbing everything I have to teach. These pointless obsessions are a waste of time – are you hearing me?” Lan Jue’s voice had risen in volume, until the final few words were veritably shouted at her.
Tan Lingyun jumped slightly at the force of it. She straightened in indignation. “I… understand. How shall I address you, Drillmaster? As Lei Feng?”
“Whatever you like,” Lan Jue responded absently. “Call me Drillmaster in front of the students. Now if there’s nothing else you can take your leave as well. What’s coming in the next two months will be more difficult than you or the students can imagine. Go home, enjoy your time. It’ll be the last opportunity you have for two months.”
“Lei Feng,” she interjected, “you claimed that everyone who participates will raise one pilot class. Is this true?”
“Who do I know,” Lan Jue said dismissively. “I’m just trying to get them interested in the process. It was to stop them from quitting half-way through.”
“Ah?” Tan Lingyun blinked, surprised by the revelation.
Lan Jue payed her no further mind. He turned to leave without saying another word.
But Tan Lingyun wasn’t finished. She trotted after him. “Lei Feng. Let me take you out for a meal, as thank you for helping with the Lir competition.”
Lan Jue stopped in his tracks. He turned his head towards her. “That’s not necessary. I didn’t help you, I was helping the university. You just happened to be there, so don’t feel as though you owe anything. Just do your job these next two months.” With that said, the warehouse filled with light as Lan Jue dissolved in to a streak of white-hot lightning. When the blinding light receded, he was gone.
So fast! Tan Lingyun stood stunned, her eyes bright.
This was a real man! A powerful man. Excitement filled her.
Lan Jue changed his clothes, and went out among the others once again as the etiquette teacher. He rubbed his tired face, kneading the hard lines away so that the noblesse avait l’air might return. A small smile sat upon his lips as he walked through campus.
As fate would have it, once again his trek led him directly in to the path of Tan Lingyun. However, this time their chance encounter didn’t result in confrontation – on the contrary, she walked by as though he didn’t register to her at all. With excitement clear on her face, she swept by like Lan Jue didn’t exist.
What is she so happy about, he pondered. Maybe she thinks our future classes are going to be easy.
A sinister light filled his eyes as he watched her go. I’ll do to them what dad did to me and my brother. Hah! I’ll forge you kids in to useful members of society yet.
“What’s with the evil grin?” Zhou Qianlin jumped as she came around their usual meeting corner, and spied Lan Jue with his decidedly unwholesome smile. Her bodyguard’s mild and graceful exterior had a shady feel today.
Lan Jue coughed, and chuckled sheepishly. “Nothing, just thinking about the olden days. What? Are you really thinking of sticking with the class? I’ll tell you that if you do, I’m not going to take it easy on you. It’ll be difficult, more difficult than anything you’ve done before.”
Zhou Qianlin was steadfast. Her determined stare met his. “I’m not afraid!”
Lan Jue’s smile fell away, so that when he spoke again the words were serious and heavy. “I’ll ask once more; are you sure you want to join the ARC program? I’ll work you to your limit, past what a normal person can endure. You will not be given any exceptions, no quarter. These two months will require inhuman levels of persistence. You will not be able to back out later.”
Zhou Qianlin’s own expression was solemn and serious. She took a breath. “I can handle it!”
Lan Jue nodded. “Very well. Good luck!”
Lan Jue clambered on to the bicycle, and held it steady while Qianlin shimmied on. They bounced their way towards Mount Tian, mostly silent until they reached the foot of the mountain.
“Alright, you can go back. With the changes to this class I’m sure you have a lot you have to do.” Qianlin said.
Lan Jue nodded. “You, too. I’ll come and get you tomorrow morning.”
She shook her head. “No need. Tang Mi said she’ll come and get me with her car, since we’ll have things to bring with us. You can go to the school director, Prince of Devils Drillmaster!” She couldn’t help but grin at the dramatic title.
Lan Jue followed suit. “Laugh it up. Soon you’ll be saying that with sincerity.”
Upon returning to Skyfire Avenue, Lan Jue made his way directly to the Underground, so that he might check up on his student Jin Tao. As anticipated, the first round of treatment had concluded and the young mutt had absorbed it all without incident. Everything was normal. Three days at most, he judged, and Jin Tao would wake up from the induced coma.
“Mika, I have a list here of things I’ll need you to help me purchase right away.” Lan Jue handed his office manager a slip of paper.
She took it and gave it a quick glance. Surprise flit across her pretty face. “What’s with all the medical equipment, boss? You know how black-hearted the Pharmacist is, this is going to cost us.”
Lan Jue’s response was delivered through a grin. “Don’t worry about it, just get what we need. It’ll be reimbursed. The Pharmacist’s goods might be expensive, but they’re better quality than you’ll get anywhere else outside the Avenue. The East’s medicines may not be as potent as those developed in the West, but they’re the product of thousands of years of experimentation and development, and that makes them something special 1
“Alright.” Mika didn’t push the issue further, and left immediately to do as requested.
Lan Jue had already run the list passed Director Wu, who gave his consent. But the price of these materials were so high that the school could only afford a portion. He’d gone to Lan Qing for the rest, hoping to apply for a grant from the army.
These young pilots were the property of the Eastern Alliance, he figured. More than that, they were where the East pinned their hopes for the future. It was for these reasons that Lan Qing approached the grant, without any conditions applied.
“Guoguo,” he went on, addressing the other Amazon. “I’ll need you to prepare some things for me as well. From our own stock.” He produced another paper and handed it to her.
Lin Guoguo snapped it up and looked it over. Her tones curious, she asked “What do you need all these power gems and medicines for, boss? Are we training an army?”
“That’s about right,” he said with a smirk. “And an experiment.”
“Oh. Alright, I’ll get it done.” And with that, Lin Guoguo also headed out.
Next, he tapped Hua Li’s number in to his communicator. “Hey Hua Li,” he began. “Get Chu Cheng and come on down to the store. The girls are out and I’m keeping an eye on things, but we have something we need to talk about.”
It wasn’t long before the two showed up.
“What’s going on? I heard you’re acting as Drillmaster for the NEU now.” Chu Cheng regarded Lan Jue with no small measure of surprise.
Hua Li’s face was similar. The two Monarchs exchanged a wordless glance.
Lan Jue replied first by shrugging his shoulders. “If those three monster planets are real, then humanity is set to face a nasty problem in the near future. We have to do everything we can to prepare, am I right? Lan Qing was right, the other day: we’re not going out like this. What I’m doing isn’t just for them, but for me – so I’ll have a clear conscience in the knowledge that I did everything I could. If the fight breaks out, I’ll be on the first ship to An Lun.”
Chu Cheng chortled. “It wasn’t a criticism!”
Hua Li nodded in agreement with his fiery counterpart. “We’re just wondering why you never told us about this? It’s sure to be a good time! Do you have any idea how boring it is here? And it’s not like I can just up and leave. Wouldn’t it be better if I hide at the school? And we have the god battle in less than a month – lots of fun stuff on the horizon.”
Chu Cheng nodded in sagely agreement. “Indeed, indeed! There’s just a gaggle of cuties in your school too, students and faculty both. Ahh, the pursuit of knowledge is such a wonderful thing! A-Jue, we’re all brothers here. You must get me in the program.”
Lan Jue looked at the two, slack-jawed. It took him a good few seconds to recover. “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings, huh…”
Chu Cheng laughed. “Right? We never see you, so we’re stuck in the Avenue training. We’ve got cabin fever! And with three paragons ambling around, I have to walk on eggshells all the time. Certainly the university campus would be a different story. With our good looks and formidable skill, there’s sure to be no end to the pretty girls who’d throw themselves at us!”
“Shut the hell up,” Lan Jue muttered. “A-Li, maybe. But you can get lost! I’m responsible for my students – I’m not throwing a wolf in among them!”
Chu Cheng’s anger flared. “Why? You’re always on about moral integrity. Worse case I won’t run around chasing girls, but I won’t reject them either. Come on, you know that’s fair.”
Lan Jue shot him an icy glare. “I’m trying to keep my identity a secret. If you guys go, you’ll have to do the same. With masks on, how do you intend to pick up women? And you being who you are, I can’t imagine you’ll be able to resist the urge to show your face the first time a nice pair of legs walks past. Nope, absolutely not, you’re not going anywhere. A-Li, you can come – just put on a mask.”
“No problem, Hua Li said delightedly. “There’s no difference between a pollution mask and whatever you’ll have me wearing. Even if you didn’t say anything, I couldn’t brazenly be walking around in the open. Hell, if you told them that the magnificent, beloved, worshipped Poseidon was their drillmaster… shit, they’d all faint before we even got the class under way!”
- This is in reference to the assurances that Traditional Chinese medicinal theory and application is different from Western medicine modalities, both practically and in approach. Eastern medicine tends to focus on the root of an issue, with symptoms being utilized for syndrome differentiation so that the germ of the issue can be eradicated. Often – well, traditionally, anyway – these symptoms were secondary to the cause of the problem and only treated forcefully if they’re life-threatening. This is true for their medicines as well: Many of the pharmaceuticals we enjoy today are the result of isolating and chemically reproducing therapeutic effects derived from herbs. Chinese medical formulae often use the herb itself instead of a synthetic. This results in less potent pharmaceuticals, but also less extreme side-effects, and less stress on the liver. So in short, Chinese medicine has always been about ‘slow and steady wins the race’, even forgoing quick relief of symptoms, whereas the Western medicinal system has become ‘make it go away as soon as possible.’ There are arguments for the validity of these statements on both sides, but that’s the crux of the argument from a TCM perspective. ↩