Chapter 96: Brothers

Thunk! A massive, cyan hand effortlessly swatted the fiery lance from the sky. Mika went careening through the air.

The dazzling cyan light reflected off of Lan Qing’s dark eyes. He turned and fixed his gaze on the distant Lin Guoguo. She huffed in response, and the golden glow in her eyes began to fade.

Ke’er was preparing for her own attack when a hand covered in snaking bolts of electricity fell upon her. “That’s enough. Everyone stand down.” Lan Jue’s harsh voice stopped the women in their tracks.

Xiuxiu remained by Lan Jue, supporting him as he stood. Lan Qing, step by step, made his way towards his brother.

The howitzer-sized canon situated before Lan Jue had shifted again to the form of Ke’er. “Boss!” she called.

With her shift Lan Jue’s hand rested now on Ke’er’s shoulder. He moved around in front of her.

Mika and Lin Guoguo wasted no time getting to their patron’s side. Zeus’ Amazons formed ranks behind him.

Lan Qing’s advance stopped three meters before his brother, and he slipped his hands in to his trouser pockets. He struck an impressive figure in his black suit, facing the small group in front of him with indifference.

Mika, Guoguo and Ke’er watched him carefully. Now so close under scrutiny, they felt he looked familiar and turned to peer at Lan Jue. Surprise overtook them as they immediately spotted the resemblance between this black-suited man and their boss. About the only thing markedly different between the two men was their temperament.

The man they faced was like a rock; hard, cold, unforgiving. Lan Jue was elegant and placid.

“What do you want.”

“Are you hurt?”

The two men spoke at the same time, then became silent. They were of about the same height, and shared many similarities in appearance. The brothers stood staring at one another in the growing darkness.

There they were in the middle of the Avenue, but surprisingly no guards or enforcement personnel were present despite their brief scuffle. In fact, it seemed like there was nothing, no one around them. Just Lan Qing, Lan Jue, and the Amazons.

“Young Master.”1 Xiuxiu spoke up, her voice timid.

“Young master?” Mika, until recently ready to spit fire, and the three others all looked at her in curiosity.

Of all the Amazons, Xiuxiu had been with Lan Jue the longest. While the other three were close with their boss, they weren’t as familiar. Not longer after they joined him, he chose to live here in seclusion. Now, hearing Xiuxiu’s address and seeing the similarities between the man and their employer, the others understood. But if that was true, why would he attack first without a word?

Lan Qing’s dark eyes narrowed. “Who was it.”

Lan Jue’s face was equally as cold as his brother’s. “None of your concern. My business, I’ll deal with it.”

Lan Qing took a step forward, though whether to say or do something wasn’t immediately clear. What was clear, was the almost instant and unspeakably violent sensation that filled the air around him as he did. All four Amazons shifted uncomfortably as the murderous aura enveloped them like a nightmare. Even Mika, titled the Stygian Succubus, turned ghastly pale in the face of it.

Lan Qing’s ordinarily dispassionate façade had changed, curdled and grown hard as a lust for blood shone behind his eyes. The fear that welled up inside the girls was hard to imagine.

Lan Jue appeared unmoved. The chill in his voice remained. “I said, it’s none of your business.”

After a moment, Lan Qing’s suffocating aura and his dark expression melted away. For Xiuxiu and the girls, the sudden shift felt like they were standing on the cusp of an abyss. Any misstep and they could get lost in it.

Xiuxiu had still managed to retain her composure, but her three sisters were on much less of an even keel. How strong was this guy! Just his presence was almost enough to reduce them to sniveling balls of fear.

Mika had been affected worst. There was a difference between her own powers – a power, a terror derived from darkness – and his. What she felt from him was pure, unadulterated bloodlust. It was something only one who’d killed many, many people could know. And yet there was something else there, unexplanable. There was a sort of stateliness, or nobility. The two forces seemed opposed, and yet there they were – integrity, nobility. Barbarity.

“Fine! Keep it to yourself. I’ll just go back, and let him know.” Lan Qing’s voice was soft, even. His features had again returned to their solemn default.

The cool regard he’d given his brother changed with the assertion. An anxiety crept in to his voice. “No you wont!”

Lan Qing’s features softened as he regarded his younger brother.

“It was because of me!” Mika stepped up to her boss’ side as she spoke. “He was protecting me. That’s how he got hurt. The men were from the Pontiff’s Castle, and if you’re really the boss’ brother those are the men you should seek out for revenge. Not here, making him worse. Can’t you see how bad his condition is?”

“The Castle,” Lan Qing growled. “Which one of the Archangels was it.”

Lan Jue just looked at him. Mika, her prickly manner making an appearance, snarled at him. “Archangels? This is my boss, why not guess the Pontiff himself?”

“Were it the Pontiff,” Lan Qing answered quietly, “and he’d brought you four – you’d all be dead. If it were he himself, he’d have managed to flee. But I know him… understand him. That weakness, weak will.”

“Who are you calling weak?!” Ke’er’s anger flared.

Her challenge was ignored. Instead Lan Jue’s brother stepped forward and reach a hand out as though to grab him.

Ke’er pushed herself between them, to block Lan Qing’s advance. However, she was pushed away by a sudden fierce wind exuded from the black-clad general. In response, four beams of cyan light flashed through the air, cutting orbits around Lan Jue’s position.

An ear-splitting squeal filled the air, as four ragged gashes appeared from nowhere. The four women looked on helplessly. Lan Qing’s hand had reached it target, taking hold of his brother’s left wrist.

“It’s fine,” Zeus assured his Amazons.

A moment later, Lan Qing relinquished his hold. “Let’s go,” he said quietly.

“Mm,” came Lan Jue’s reply. He then turned towards the Jewelry Shop and began the walk home.

Meanwhile the four women watched, struck still in confusion. “If you would, the four of you please stay in the Underground tonight. I’ve got some things to talk about with him,” he said, pausing just long enough to speak over his shoulder at them.

“… boss!” Mika stuttered towards him in hesitation.

Xiuxiu, however, had begun to pull at her. “Let’s go,” she said, making for the public elevator nearby. They all fell silent in tacit consent.

Lan Jue continued to make for the Jewelry store, as did the women; one above, and one below.

ζ

“Xiuxiu, what in the hell is going on? Who is that guy?” They had arrived at the elevator by then, and Mika could contain her confusion no longer. Lin Guoguo and Ke’er looked similarly perturbed by these events, but said nothing.

“That,” Xiuxiu said, “was the Young Master, Sir’s older brother by birth – Sir, of course, being the boss. By the time you three had come, he’d made me stop calling him that.”

Lin Guoguu’s expression was afire with curiosity and surprise at the gossip. “He’s fierce.. frightening! That power that tore the air… so powerful! I almost ran right in to it. The boss certainly knows some unsettling people. But if they’re brothers, why would he show up and immediately start beating on his sibling? What kind of family is that?”

Xiuxiu’s vexation was clear as she shook her head. “I can’t say. I’m not at liberty to talk about anything relating to the boss’ family. Just this… you’ve heard of the Four Divine Monarchs? Three others, with names like our Zeus.”

Ke’er shrugged. “We knew he was the Monarch Zeus since we met him. You’re not saying his brother is one too, are you? There was Prometheus, Hades, Zeus and Poseidon – named after the most powerful gods form Greek mythology. So… which one was he?”

“The most famous one,” Xiuxiu responded.

Lin Guoguo couldn’t help herself. “First of the Monarchs… the supersoldier of An Lun… the god of wisdom. Prometheus!”

Xiuxiu nodded.

“Ahhh!” Lin Guoguo veritably squealed. Her three companions jumped in surprise.

“WHAT are you doing?!” Mika glared at her.

Lin Guoguo was almost shaking. “Prometheus used to be my idol! When I started following the boss I’d asked him if he’d take me to meet Prometheus. At the time he didn’t say anything. And now, to find out he’s the boss’ brother is just the best! Ah, man! I wanna go back up and see him again.”

In contrast to Guoguo’s excitement, Ke’er’s face had grown sour. “The supersoldier of An Lun. What’s so great about him?”

Guoguo stopped, stunned, and shot her sister a look. “What’s your problem?” Mika is the one who responded, fixing Guoguo with a meaningful stare. It didn’t take long for her to realize what it meant, and immediately shut her mouth.

Ke’er, however, had already calmed down. Her face softened as she spoke, and took her companion’s hand in her own. “I’m sorry. I was just… thinking about before. I didn’t mean to, and I shouldn’t have. Ever since I chose to follow the boss I gave all that up. Here, this, this is my family now.”

Lin Guoguo almost tripped over herself to reply. “It was my fault. I forgot you were from the Northern Alliance. I’m so sorry, Ke’er.”

Mika grinned at the pair. “Alright, let’s go. We can continue all this jaw-waggling on our own turf. It’s hard to know who’s listening out here.” She pushed the call button for the elevator for emphasis.

Lin Guogguo snickered suddenly. “You guys think the Accountant got back? My guess is he wont be back for a little while. Wasn’t our fault the verti-car could only hold five. And public transport is the worst. Just thinking about the look on his face when we left him back there makes me laugh, hah!”

ζ

Zeus’ Jewelry Store.

Ting ting. The doors situated above the door rung prettily as they entered. The lights were off, and the interior was blanketed in darkness.

Lan Jue made no move to turn on the lights to the exterior. He continued on until reaching the inner rooms, only then illuminating their surroundings.

Lan Qing followed silently behind. The two brothers stood, quiet, bathed in gentle light.

Lan Jue settled himself on the nearby sofa. Little by little, his hard expression eased. Lan Qing remained standing, facing his brother with arms crossed over his chest.

“What do you want from me,” Lan Jue began, his tone markedly inhospitable.

“Nothing,” his brother replied.

Silence.

“So tell me, what’s with that girl. For the Castle to send out it’s Archangels after her, they must have known she was with you.”

Lan Jue’s response was swift and angry. “Why do you have to stick your nose in my business? You should get the hell away from me.”

“Because I’m your brother!”

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