Chapter 352: Force!
Richard’s voice was soft and indifferent. “Don’t label me with that nonsense. I am an individual, and this is my decision. This has nothing to do with my family, and if the East should want to investigate, then they can come find me. Now come, don’t make me have to make you. And as for you.” Richard’s attention quickly shot to Lan Jue.
Lan Jue looked back. “What about me?”
“You will leave this planet forever. Spend your life repenting for how you’ve treated me in some quiet corner,” Richard said. He waved his hand toward the etiquette teacher, and two of the nearby mechas took a menacing step forward.
Just then, however, a thunderous roar proceeded by a streak of turquoise captured everyone’s attention. It smashed in to the ground between them.
“Let’s see who dares!”
It was a massive green mecha, which exuded a strange aura of similar hue. The voice was infinitely cold and threatening. The mecha was crouched in preparation, bearing large spikes jutting from its hands.
“Lan Jue, Zhou Qianlin, get away. I’ll hold them off!” Tan Lingyun called from the cockpit.
The Savage Goddess never faltered in the moment of truth. Director Wu had even tried to hold her back, but she threw him back and rushed in to the fray.
As a Sovereign-ranked pilot, numbers didn’t frighten her. This was different, though. Nearly all of the mechas were pulsing with their own prosperous energies. They were not your average mecha pilot. Fitting for the Austin family, Tan Lingyun knew.
“Thank you, Professor Tan.” Lan Jue called to her. He took Qianlin by the hand and ran.
“No, we can’t just leave Professor Tan here!” Qianlin struggled, but couldn’t break free.
The Spirit Caller gem warmed against her chest:
Lan Jue: Silly girl, I’m not going to jump in right here, in front of everyone! The faculty don’t know my real identity or strength.
Qianlin: Ah? So what are we going to do?
Lan Jue: The sneaky always have their ways.
Richard could only watch as they fled. He howled at the surrounding mechas. “Get them!”
They moved out, almost before he even gave the order. One hundred mechas acted in synchronicity. These were the elite personal forces of the Austin family, and none of them were below Emperor rank. Immediately, ten of them surrounding Tan Lingyun. The rest gave chase to Lan Jue and Qianlin through land and air.
Lan Jue raced ahead of them, pulling Qianlin behind. Soon they were in the hotel’s front courtyard again. The two of them hid in a dark corner.
The Austin family bodyguards were famed for being both individually strong, and excellent as a unit. A dozen mecha descended upon the courtyard from above, and surrounded the inky-black shadows of the corner. All together, floodlights from the mechas painted the corner with bright light.
However, to their surprise, neither target was there. They paid no notice to the electrical outlet set against the wall.
There was a flash, then Qianlin and Lan Jue appeared within the safe confines of the hotel. Zhou Qianlin turned to her protector. “Tan Lingyun is under attack, are you sure she’s alright?”
“The Savage Goddess is fine,” Lan Jue assured. “She’s nearly at the height of Sovereign rank – almost a God pilot. These guys are no joke, but it’ll take a lot to defeat her. What’s more, although Richard came here to kidnap you, the West does have rules. He wouldn’t dare murder somebody over this. That would make things far too loud and public. Even the Austin family wouldn’t protect him then. He has only one objective, and that’s to get you. So how are you hoping we solve this?”
“If we can ensure the teacher’s safety, then just get me out of here,” she said.
Lan Jue gave a calm response. “We could always kill him, end the problem once and for all.”
Qianlin looked at him, stunned, then shook her head. “Whatever the case now, I was almost his wife. I might not like him, but I certainly don’t want him dead. All of this came about because of me. I owe him.” Qianlin couldn’t allow that to happen. Richard still had no idea what he was up against. Zhou Qianlin understood that the only reason Lan Jue hadn’t handled the situation already was because it would expose him to the faculty. Although his features were calm, Qianlin could see the fury behind his eyes.
“As you wish,” he answered. “I’ll let him go. But I promise you a third encounter like this will end very differently. He’s already caused a great deal of trouble to us both. Next time, I’m going to beat the holy hell out of him.” He was not the sort to talk badly behind someone’s back, so he refrained from telling Qianlin about Richard’s earlier plans to have him ‘dealt with.’ He honestly didn’t care about that. Lan Jue had never really seen Richard as an enemy – a goofy stalker, maybe, that that was all. But now, with his true colors revealed, Lan Jue was ashamed he didn’t see it earlier.
Lan Jue connected quickly with someone through his communicator. They exchanged a few quiet sentences, then Lan Jue pulled her through the socket again.
The targets had disappeared without a trace. None of the mecha could grasp how that could be, it didn’t make any sense! They must have sort of cloaking device, they postured, though where would they go?
“What? Disappeared?! You find them, you understand? I don’t care if you have to tear the place apart, find them!” Richard’s voice rose to a screeching yell. He was like a man who’d lost his mind.
Tan Lingyun was locked in an epic struggle. One on one she could handle. Even three, or five didn’t worry her very much. But ten was too many, and as a unit they were that much stronger.
There was a level of unspoken understanding in an Emperor Unit. None of them were weak, physically or in Discipline. Tan Lingyun sensed that they were equivalent to the An Lun soldiers and the ARC students. None were below fifth rank. With their expert training and the small area they were even more threatening. Under these conditions, they were even more dangerous than the An Lun soldiers. About the only difference was their mechas were equipped with self-destruct buttons.
Still, Tan Lingyun was fearless. She lashed out at them with her spiked fists like a wild animal. After the ARC training, she could feel that she had improved.
Tendrils of green energy constantly wove together and pulsed outward to ward off attacks that got through her jukes and parries.
“Take care of this one first, I don’t believe they’ll just watch one of their own get hurt. They didn’t run.” Richard looked on with calm expression. He cruelly, and calculatingly considered the situation.
The moment Richard knew where she would be, he encircled the positioned and kept it tight. Lan Jue and Zhou Qianlin couldn’t have simply vanished or broken through. He was even monitoring all air traffic through his family’s connections. That was how he knew where to be so quickly. So long as they didn’t get off the planet, he had his ways of tracking them down. At least, that’s how Richard thought.
More cobalt blue mechas joined in. They slithered like quicksilver, weaving in and out to deliver attacks on to Tan Lingyun.
She was outnumbered, and it was becoming more than she could ward off. Their strikes and laser blasts pelted her incessantly. But her hand speed was enough, she had the capabilities for more – but she did not want to kill these pilots. Her only option was defense. If she killed any of them, nobody was going to be making it off this planet. Tan Lingyun, however, had made the same determination Lan Jue had. Richard wouldn’t dare murder someone in full view of a crowd. Much less a foreign tourist. Already what was happening would certainly get back to official channels through Director Wu.
A lazy voice called out above the din. “What is the matter with you – a bunch of men picking on a lone woman. Get out of here, you disgust me.”
There was a flash of light as a figure appeared, charging in from the side. A thunderous blast followed violent golden light – a dragon!
Boom—! One of the mechas was sent spiraling in to the distance. The pilot gaped at the jagged tears in his mecha’s chest plate.
A mecha’s cockpit was in the chest, so obviously that was where a suit’s armor was strongest. To damage that thick plate of alloy titanium at all was impressive, much less ruin it! The pilot shivered in terror.
The piercing, bestial roars rose in strength and volume. The Austin elite guards were thrown aside like rag dolls in every which direction as the dragon of golden light threw them to the horizon. Each ended the same – soaring limply through the air with their chest plates turned to scrap. Their shields were like paper before this terrifying beast.
“Who the hell is this?!” Richard roared.
“I’m your daddy!” The teasing, disrespectful voice replied.
“Young Master – Careful!” A figure darted out from the shadows and sprang in front of Richard, just in time to ward him against another’s arrival.
Bang! The one who leapt out to protect Richard was violently shoved back a few paces. They regained their footing, but the look of confusion on their face spoke volumes.
A man stood in the spot he’d occupied a moment before. He was disheveled, with a rat’s nest for hair and thread-bare clothing. A… beggar?
The Pauper looked listessly around. He rubbed his dirty face and then, one finger digging in his nose to dislodge a booger 1, pointed with his right hand. Another great dragon of light roared to life at his gesture.
The guard, a man clad in black as it was revealed, did not dare underestimate this situation. His hands shot out, and an expansive shield of blood-red energy sprang out to protect them.
Booom-! This time, the force was enough to send the man flailing away half a dozen yards. Richard had no one else to hide behind.
The Pauper motioned at Richard, and the young Austin family heir felt a terrifying pull dragging him toward his assailant. He fought, but couldn’t free himself. Anger was no longer appropriate in this situation, he determined. So Richard began to wail for help.
“E-elder, please have mercy!” The man in black called out from a distance.
But by now the Pauper already had Richard by the neck. His finger since extricated from his nose, he use the same hand to rudely pat the young boy on the cheek. “Hey there kid, throwing our weight around are we?”
Richard couldn’t respond, on account of his wind-pipe being crushed beneath that dirty hand.
- Funny note, ‘booger’ in Chinese is literally translated as ‘nose shit’. I love it. ↩