Lan Jue slapped his forehead in frustration. “Enough, you two. I got one megalomaniac and one sexual predator. How in the hell did I get stuck with you two as my brothers!”
Chu Cheng slapped a hand down upon Lan Jue’s shoulder. “A-Jue, I swear to you no one will discover my identity. But you’re underestimating my charm, because even with a mask the girls will be swarming me. I don’t expect you to understand. So go on then, tell us what you’re gunna do.”
Lan Jue revealed his plan for the students and future dealings, simple and uncomplicated with nothing held back. The other two gentlemen were clearly bemused by the prospect, and their excitement only grew as he continued to lay out his plan.
“Isn’t that too… savage?” Chu Cheng couldn’t help but share his opinions, after hearing everything.
“Yeah!” Lan Jue replied, his own tones conflicted. “I’m honestly afraid these young people won’t be able to stick to it.”
Chu Cheng’s tone grew solemn. “This is your problem, A-Jue. You’re always underestimating how much we can handle. How do you think humanity’s become master of the stars? How is it we came to colonize and rule over so many planets? Because we’re amazingly adaptive. We’re ferocious! When I was young and in training, a few of my teachers employed cruel methods. Sometimes I hardly wished to live. Hell, you could probably learn a thing or two from them for your schemes.”
Hua Li took up his favored imperatorial inflection. “Do you two have any humanity? You’re sitting here discussing the best ways to destroy the future of the Alliances by crushing their flowers under foot. My own training was very different from the two of you. Like baptism in a rainstorm. My father told me once, ‘if you seek to control the oceans, you must stand firm against the roaring waves.’ I think he was right. We of the Poseidon bloodline, we have our family secrets but you two are my brothers. There’s no reason to hide any of this from you, so I have no qualms in sharing it. What do you think?”
Lan Jue and Chu Cheng both shot their thumbs towards Hua Li. Pointed downward.
Three young men, with three very different ideas. Lan Jue took their thoughts in to account, while simultaneously shuddering. It was like the Three Stooges asserting they were smarter than Einstein. If the three of them really did join to teach, then it really would be like a vision of hell.
When Mika returned she saw the three troublesome youths conspiring quietly. She couldn’t help but slink over, and in doing so caught a few sentences. When she cried out it took all three men by surprise. “What is this? Planning some sort of terrible thing no doubt.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Lan Jue replied. “Medicine?”
Mika produced the myriad pharmaceuticals she was asked to purchase. It was a large bag, with many smaller ones inside.
Lan Jue turned his eyes towards Hua Li. “According to our new system, we’re gunna need a higher dosage. But I’m running low on funds…”
Hua Li shrugged. “Money will not be a concern. This is about the future of humanity. Mika, buy whatever you need – I’ll reimburse you. No expenses spared!” As he spoke, he produced a small card from his pocket and handed it to the Stygian Succubus.
Chu Cheng wrapped Hua Li in a bear-hug. “Hey money-bags, take care of me too!”
Hua Li’s knee shot up towards Chu Cheng’s gibbly bits, forcing Chu Cheng to retreat. “Keep away from me, you stink like all kinds of body fluid! Come at me again and you’ll suffer death with no descendants!”
Lan Jue beckoned the other two closer. “Alright, alright – stop messing around. Let’s continue planning. Time waits for no man, after all. This first ARC program will last two months, and from what I can tell a normal program will not be enough. They don’t need rigorous, they need tragic. We have to think about how to prevent deaths or madness.”
The other two solemnly nodded their heads. “That’s a problem,” they said in unison.
Early morning. Lan Jue had gotten up in the early hours, along with his two troublesome comrades.
“Are we taking the verti-car?” Chu Cheng asked piteously.
Lan Jue shook his head. “My identity is still a secret. I go every day by bike – if I’m suddenly arriving in an expensive car it’d attract too much attention. You two come by car, if you’re joining.”
“No way,” Hua Li said with a lilt in his voice. “I thought riding the bicycle was awesome. Quaint and amusing! You can take the car on your own, A-Cheng.”
Chu Cheng sniffed righteously. “How is this acceptable? We three brothers have to stick together, and since you both want to rise the bike I guess I am, too. I call the backseat, though – you got the crossbar this time, A-Li!”
“Don’t you have any humanity?”
“Dunno, how much does it cost?”
“We’ll play rock-paper-scissors for it!”
Ten minutes later, Lan Jue was groaning piteously as he pedaled the antique bicycle along the road. Hua Li had been stuck with the crossbar, and his mood was accurately revealed by his pained expression. Three pairs of long legs bounced and banged as they fought their way towards the university. ‘Crowded’ did not do the scene justice.
“I should have played for the seat, too!” Lan Jue moaned, pedaling valiantly.
“Why the hell is that,” Hua Li grumbled, turning his head back to glare at Lan Jue.
Bitterness crept in to Lan Jue’s voice as he spoke. “Do you know how heavy you two are? I’m just surprised this bike hasn’t crumpled already. If it did you two would be dead for sure.”
Chu Cheng chuckled at his colleague’s displeasure. “You’re the host, and this is a good display of manliness.” He sat in the VIP seat atop the back tire, sans the discomfort of Hua Li and the effort of Lan Jue. He had no reason to complain.
The remaining trek to the university was a difficult one. Once they arrived her hurriedly kicked his two team mates off of the bike and walked the rest of the way to the gate himself. He didn’t have to worry about getting them in to the university. He’d also already given them their golden masks.
Upon entering campus Lan Jue was surprised to discover Wu Junyi waiting for him once more. This time the director was waiting inside, and stood silent and stoic. It was as though he were just there to observe the students filing in to classes. Seeing his serious expression, the students didn’t loiter around.
Lan Jue approached, and stopped his bicycle once they were face to face. “What are you doing here again?”
“Waiting for you!” The director replied. “The students are all prepared, and things have been organized as per your instructions. We’ve chartered a bus to take them directly to West Hill. I already set up everything for them there. We’re all set.”
Lan Jue nodded. “Good. Where’s the bus?”
Director Wu indicated with a wave of his hand. “By the mecha combat department. Once you’re ready to go, you can be on your way.”
Lan Jue looked towards the department, then turned his attention back to Wu Junyi. “I brought two others with me today. Help them in, in a little bit. One of them is wearing a pollution mask, you’ll spot him right away. They’ll be helping me teach over the next several days. They won’t be able to help us all the time, but when they’re here it’ll make the classes even better.”
Of course, director Wu couldn’t have known ‘even better’ meant ‘even more terrifying.’ When he replied, his inflection was full of enthusiasm. “Even better! I’ll bring them in right now, then send them to the bus. Go ahead and get changed.”
Lan Jue nodded, then left.
Mecha Combat Department.
The tour bus was beautiful, clean and white. Students were milling about, placing bags of all shapes and sizes underneath the bus and filing in. As they were going to be gone for a month, there was a consider amount of baggage to consider – especially true for the female students.
Zhou Qianlin was the exception. Unlike Tang Mi – who came with a massive rucksack – Qianlin arrived with only a small bag of clothes and toiletries.
The presence of Tang Mi and Zhou Qianlin gave the other students a false sense of security. They believed that, with these two beauties permitted to join, the classes couldn’t be that difficult. For these young men, all full of spunk, this was a very good situation for them to find themselves in. Or so they thought.
Tan Lingyun had also arrived, quite early. She wore a flight suit, which showed off her impressive figure. She did not sit, but instead stood at the front of the bus and watched the happenings with vibrant, excited eyes.
For her, this was certainly a good thing. After all, the belief was she would exit this program a God-ranked pilot. It was the only thing she could think about.
It was Lei Feng’s ability, the power he displayed, was a determining factor in her enthusiasm to be sure. Even without considering everything else that was in store, if she learned the different tricks and skills he’d displayed, that alone would launch her to God-hood.
Wang Hongyuan was also in attendance, though in contrast to Tan Lingyun, he was seated in the very last row of the bus. It looked as though they shared a tacit understanding; one assistant in front, the other in the back, watching. The reality was less altruistic, that being that Wang Hongyuan simply wanted to limit his exposure to Tan Lingyun as much as possible. The chance of blowing his cover was too high.
By now, all the students were settled, chatting loudly among themselves. Just then, a tall figure appeared in the bus’ doorway.
The moment he stepped foot in the bus, silence took over everything. All eyes turned to him, and it felt as though the temperature dropped a good few degrees.
He was tall, with a golden mask and a decidedly frightening aura.
“Hello Drillmaster.” The first few rows of the bust called out to their teacher in unison. The others followed suit on their heels. No one dared show this man disrespect.
Lan Jue swept his eyes over the gathered students. In the end his glance fell upon Tan Lingyun, standing at his side.
She spoke without hesitation. “Drillmaster. Fifty-one registered ARC students and two Assistant Drill instructors, all present and accounted for. We’re ready to go on your command.”
Lan Jue simply nodded. “We’ve got two more coming.”
Two more? Curiosity welled up within the Savage Goddess. Who else could be coming?
No sooner had the thought crossed her mind, then the two final travelers stepped through the door. Every student on the bus stared, eyes wide, as the mystery individuals appeared.