Chapter 388: Planet Luo, Luo City
The flight from Eurmania to the capital of the Northern Alliance took four days.
Su Xiaosu was quiet for almost the entire trip. She sat in thought, silently ruminating her fate. The several times Lan Jue went to check on her, he could see that she was far from her normal self. Of course she never admitted it, instead assuring him that she was fine. All she needed was time to get her head straight.
Zhou Qian Lin didn’t press him any further about the Amazons. On the contrary, she was uncharacteristically warm. It was almost as though she were trying to make up for her past misgivings.
The two of them didn’t cultivated together as they’d done on Reims, but did practice circulating each others’ Disciplines. Lan Jue taught the young politician’s daughter more finely tuned skills in using his powers, while also considering what he’d learned from the use of his master’s Taiji abilities.
Ever since meeting Qianlin – even more since she’d used her powers on him – Lan Jue’s cultivation was significantly faster. In a few months he’d discovered more than in three years of careful meditation. His decadent days of self-pity were gone, and though the pain in his heart persisted he was able to cope now.
Four days passed quickly, and before they knew it Planet Luo was looming large in their vision. They began their descent toward the capital of the massive planet – Luo City.
This was among one of the most famous cities in the history of humanity, and the economic hub of the Northern Alliance. The place was rife with service and entertainment for visitors, state-of-the-art scientific research facilities, and the Adept organization the Great Conclave. This place was the Jewel of the North, and the heart of Planet Luo.
The ship eventually touched down, and Lan Jue lead the two beautiful women from the hangar. The stewardesses watched him go with a fiery light in their eyes. It was unusual to see a man with such an entourage, to say nothing for his first-class tickets.
Lan Jue found a place to change in to a blue leisure suit and a white shirt. The two-piece ensemble didn’t need a tie. Qianlin was clad in a fine white dress with her sleek hair pulled in to a pony tail. She exuded youthful exuberance, and her big blue eyes shone like diamonds.
Su Xiaosu was less in the mood for pure beauty. She wore black trousers with a black jacket and white blouse. Her head of full, black, curly hair tumbled down to her shoulders. She looked as beautiful as she did capable. Compared to Qianlin she looked much more professional, and her red-tinted eyes bestowed a very different feel from Qianlin’s cobalt blue. She followed a few steps behind Lan Jue, demur and silent like an assistant.
Two black-haired beauties; one in white, one in black; blue eyes, and red eyes. Although Qianlin was in a class of beauty all her own, Xiaosu had the charm and figure of an experienced woman. Both ladies were of a similar height.
With these two in his wake, it was going to be impossible for them to go anywhere without a host of eyes following.
Now that they were on Luo, Lan Jue wasted no more time worrying over the Pontiff and his cronies. They were safe here, and even if they did run in to some of the Pontiff’s men here they had nothing to fear. So what if he brought Xiaosu? The Pontiff’s Citadel had no proof that he’d been the one to save her. This being the North, even if they could prove it, so what? Even despite the glitz and glamour of this ornament, the Pontiff wouldn’t be attending. The highest officer of the Citadel would likely be Metatron. With them being so thoroughly embarrassed, he wasn’t sure when they’d show up.
“We’re here.” Lan Jue said in to his communicator.
“Come on out,” a voice urged. “We’re waiting at the front.” The voice drawled on in a lazy tone.
They passed through the security check, and not an instant after they stepped outside was Lan Jue able to spot their welcome party. The man wore a sharp suit of black and red, and was busily flirting with a woman laden with luggage.
“A-Cheng!” Lan Jue called.
Chu Cheng turned his face to the sound. Before anything, his eyes picked out the two beautiful woman at Lan Jue’s side, and his eyes shone with promise. The woman he’d been chatting up was entirely forgotten as he made his way over to them.
“A-Jue, why is it always like this with you! Always with a pretty girl on your arm! It’s a pleasure as always to see you again, Miss Zhou. And who is this new face?” Chu Cheng’s eyes roamed unabashedly over Su Xiaosu’s form. He wasn’t sure of Lan Jue’s relationship with Qianlin, especially considering her similarities to Hera. But this woman was free game, and was nearly as beautiful.
“Hello,” she said, politely extending a hand. “I’m Su Xiaosu, the boss’ new secretary.”
The muscles of Chu Cheng’s face twitched. He turned his face and stared at Lan Jue without uttering a word.
The former Mercenary King scowled. “Your own lady is waiting for you over there.”
Chu Cheng stared wordlessly at Lan Jue a moment longer before turning away. He called for the woman to come over. She did so, haltingly.
Chu Cheng returned to the group. He addressed with a note of embarrassment in his voice. “We, uh, just met. Exchanged a few sentences. Shall we go? The car is out front.” He wrapped an arm around Lan Jue’s shoulder as they meandered toward the exit.
Chu Cheng’s questions were relentless. “Another one for your store, eh? Fess up, all of these beautiful, feisty, voluptuous women… how do I get me some?”
Lan Jue glowered dubiously. “Can you not? Can’t you take a day off from chasing skirts? You’re like a bee, just mindlessly after honey.”
“Bullshit,” Chu Cheng muttered so just his friend could hear. “Do you think this common woman could compare to either of these girls? So you gunna find me a ninth level secretary Adept or what? Go on and tell me, how many is it you’ve got now? Or maybe we can talk a trade, right? I don’t see Mika here, and instead you brought the new girl. What gives?”
Lan Jue turned his head, and gave his friend a deceivingly warm smile. “I’m not telling you!”
Chu Cheng scowled. “I thought we were brothers!” He almost shouted.
Lan Jue’s voice was thick with disdain. “And a proper brother wouldn’t ask to throw good women to the wolves. There’s a reason any girl who likes you turns out unsuitable. Hell out here they’ve got fire insurance, health insurance, and Chu Cheng insurance – every family knows. I’ll tell you what though, if I ever meet a woman I want to torture, I’ll send her your way.”
“You’re a sour bastard,” Chu Cheng complained. “I always knew there was something wrong with you. Fine, screw you then. I’ll find introduce myself, and if it works out I expect you to stay out of my way.”
Lan Jue waved his hand, wordlessly inviting Chu Cheng to make good on his threat. If he had the balls to chase the Moonfiend Empress, Lan Jue wouldn’t stand in his way.
As anticipated, Chu Cheng’s attempts fell on deaf ears. No matter what he said on their way to the car, Xiaosu replied only with tiny nods or shakes of her head. She didn’t open her mouth once, and her eyes never left her boss’ back.
Chu Cheng could do nothing in the face of her intractable silence. He had to accept defeat.
A gorgeous maglev luxury car was waiting for them outside, and they filed in. Chu Cheng and Lan Jue occupied the front, while the women sat in the back.
Lan Jue spoke up as they went on their way. “Is A-Li here? He mentioned he might be interested in participating.”
“He got here a while ago – even set up a concert on the planet. He really pissed Mo Xiao off, so he’s been paying his dues with a strong of performances. I made another guest appearance when he did the show here, actually. In fact the tournament organizers asked him to do the opening ceremony. I bet he made a pretty penny off of that deal.”
“Does that mean he can’t compete in the games themselves?” he asked.
“Hua Li wanted to, but Mo Xiao shot that idea down. She said unless there was no doubt he’d win, he was staying put. Said it would ruin his reputation.” Chu Cheng grinned.
Lan Jue laughed in spite of himself. “Mo Xiao’s a professional – she knows the business. What about you? Are you participating?”
“The master has to school the students,” Chu Cheng haughtily assured. “What, you nervous?”
“Oh yes.” Lan Jue nodded emphatically. “I might cry.”
“Well aren’t we an arrogant ass,” Chu Cheng replied, a little surprised. “I can sense that hidden power, not a bad trick. Make yourself seem weaker, right? A wolf in sheep’s clothing 1!”
Lan Jue chuckled. “You discovered my secret. I guess I won’t have that going for me when we meet in the ring. Oh, there’s something I have to tell you as well. You better mentally prepare for it, because your uncle’s coming with the Avenue’s team.”
Chu Cheng’s eyes popped. “Eh? He actually agreed to come out here?”
He already knew of his uncle’s rise to Paragon status, of course. It must have been a stunning shock to the whole family. It was of monumental importance to the Hades bloodline. At last, they had a champion to lead the charge against Satan.
Lan Jue went on. “I wanted to remind you and your family not to harbor any false hope for him. He didn’t choose Hades for his title. He chose the Infernal Vanguard. You should know what that means. Aside from him, you’re the only other one of this generation with the potential to reach Paragon. He left that title for you, when it’s your time. But he also left you that responsibility.”
Chu Cheng’s face grew solemn. “The old bastard is shameless!”
Lan Jue snorted a laugh. “Stress is a motivating force. Work for it.”
“When you get to where we are, how much use is ‘working for it?’ The only improvements come from sudden epiphanies. Anyway, uncle coming here is a good thing. Whatever the circumstances, he should come home to visit. After all these years things are sure to have mostly blown over. I asked dad myself, and he said that woman’s death wasn’t his order.”
Lan Jue shrugged. “This is your family’s business. You should handle it on your own. As an outsider there isn’t much I can contribute. As far as I know, the Gourmet has zero interest in going home. He said he likes the Avenue, and liked being the Gourmet. Right, and your new aunt is probably coming as well.”
Chu Cheng nodded in understanding. “When are they coming?”
“Should be soon,” he answered.
Chu Cheng arranged for the three visitors to stay in the same hotel he’d visited before – the Intercontinental. Lan Jue wouldn’t be so brash as to insist on sharing a room with Qianlin, so the three of them had separate suites.
- The Chinese reads as ‘dress as a pig to eat the tiger.’ It’s pretty fascinating how these things evolve independently, but are still so similar. ↩