Chapter 70: Possibilities
Shock! At the last words of the Wine Master Lan Jue felt the surprise vibrate to his very core. He stared slack-jawed.
For an avid lover of wine to have this opportunity – to taste a wine actually created by one of the Three Gods of Wine – it didn’t matter what the ‘rank’ of it was, it filled him with something almost unspeakable. He was happier even than that day he’d had the Romanee-Conti.
In the former era, bottles of Romanee-Conti were produced in the thousands per year. Products of the Master Henri Jayer, however, only numbered in the hundreds regardless of classification! It was an experience that could not be measured with any amount of money.
“Thank you,” Lan Jue stated, simply and earnestly.
The Wine Master smiled contentedly. “Come, drink.”
“I don’t really want to.”
“It’s already opened,” the Wine Master insisted. “It’ll spoil otherwise. It has to be finished as soon as possible.”
“Actually, I meant I’d rather take it home and enjoy it carefully,” Lan Jue said. “What do you think?”
The bottle had done it’s job. Before discovering it was the product of Henri Jayer, he knew only that it was a village wine from 1997. It’s low classification didn’t detract, however, from those wondrous tastes that had nearly caused him to forget his troubles.
“So go on then, what do you want me to do?” Lan Jue finished the last drop from his glass and, setting it down, stared pointedly at the Wine Master.
“You’re that sure I want something from you?”
Lan Jue’s eyes narrowed, similar to his expression the first time he’d sipped the exquisite wine. “It can’t be easy to part with a wine from one of the great masters. If you were really that generous I’d be truly happy.”
The Wine Master laughed. “You always talk about how stingy I am. But how could a miser suddenly be so generous? So in fact you guess correctly, there is a request I’d like to make of you. The Clairvoyant has discovered that someone from a nearby planet is attempted to acquire another bottle from one of the Three Masters. I’d like to go see for myself, and present them with a gift. In the three alliances there are only a select few who possess such exemplary wines. I hope that through these discoveries we can uncover the secrets of these masters, and bring their gifts back to modern man.”
Lan Jue’s eyes widened and grew bright. “Truly?”
The Wine Master nodded. “Wine isn’t just my hobby, it’s my only hobby. This isn’t something I’d joke about.”
“Two questions,” Lan Jue began. “First, you’ve had wine like this the whole time and you’ve never shared before?! And second, you actually take advantage of the Clairvoyan’ts powers to find wine?”
The Wine Master gave him a hard stare. “What are you trying to say?”
Lan Jue broke in to a peel of laughter, shooting his old friend a big thumbs-up. “Good on you!”
The two men exchanged a look, before starting to howl in laughter.
“So you agree?” The Wine Master asked again, recovering from his guffaws.
Lan Jue shrugged. “With your powers, you still need my help?”
“The Clairvoyant’s divinations were somehow cut short near the end of his vision,” the Wine Master said. “You should understand what this means. ‘A wise man doesn’t stand beneath a collapsing wall’1 , and more than that how could you enjoy the fruits if you don’t do the labor?”
Lan Jue sighed. “Fine, what can I say. This Henri Jayer has fed my wine addiction, this will be my reciprocation. But, it’ll have to wait. I have to head to the Shattered Starfields. I’ll be gone about a month, when I get back we’ll discuss where to go from there.”
“Not a problem.” The Wine Master smiled. “I’m in no hurry. I still have some in stock.”
“I’m off!” Lan Jue rose, waving his head.
A shadow swept passed, and a dozen seconds later rolling thunder followed. It was a McKelly p12 high altitude verti-car. Only a car like that could reach such break-neck speeds.
“Mika, slow down! I’m getting car-sick…” Lin Guoguo’s face was pained, and she had a white-knuckle grip on the car’s grip handle.
Lan Jue sat in the back middle seat of the car as it roared along. Xiuxiu and Lin Guoguo sat on either side of him. In front, Mika sat behind the wheel, peering through red hair and black-rimmed glasses while Ke’er cheered her on in the passenger’s seat.
Mika’s driving style was anything but conservative as she was squeezing every drop of horsepower from the car. She’d broken the sound barrier long ago.
“Fine, fine. Weak. The boss didn’t say anything…” Mika grumbled.
“I just lost my lunch,” Lan Jue said lazily, leaning against the seatback.
Xiuxiu giggled. Ke’er turned back to look at Lan Jue at stuck out her tongue.
Mika huffed. “We’ll be there shortly. Hold on.” The car suddenly took a handsome drift to the side before suddenly losing altitude. Instruments inside helped regulate the weightlessness of gravity, but that didn’t stop their stomach from jumping in to their throat.
Lin Guoguo screamed, followed shortly by Xiuxiu.
Ten seconds later the car was pulling steadily up to the public airship hangar of Planet Skyfire.
Beep, beep, beep! A harsh alarm filled the interior. Several uniformed guards suddenly gathered round. An electronic voice joined them: “Speed violation, classification; severe. Please exit the vehicle immediately, and submit to an inspection.”
The McKelly p12 high-altitude verti-car’s doors folded open like a pair of butterfly wings. The four gorgeous women stepped out in tandem: Fiery Mika, Blue-haired Ke’er, Xiuxiu the raven-haired beauty and green-bobbed Guoguo.
The four all wore their jet-black, close fitting flight suits. The contours of their slender figures were outlined perfectly, every curve and valley. Though they were wearing helmets you could almost hear the guardsmen take a collective gulp as their heads figuratively exploded.
“Is there a problem, handsome gentlemen?” Mika swept her flirtatious gaze from one officer to the other.
“M-miss, you broke the speed limit,” one officer stuttered.
“Oh, I’m sooo sorry! Can you be a dear and watch the car for us? We have some… business.” Mika waved a delicate hand at them, turned, and strode off. The three women at her heels followed her lead.
Lan Jue stood in their midst, a distinct swagger to his gait.
A few moments later, watching them leave, one of the officers came to his senses.
“We’re wearing helmets. How would she know if we were handsome?”
- The phrase here means a wise man has the ability to recognize and protect himself from potentially dangerous situations. Also, when finding oneself in a dangerous situation, having the ability to extricate oneself quickly. ↩