Chapter 511: I Prefer the Mask

    Chapter 511: I Prefer the Mask

    "You.." IT was the only thing Tan Lingyun could manage to mutter.

    "Are you alright, Tan Lingyun?" Lan Jue waved his hand in front of her eyes.

    Suddenly, there was a flash in the woman's eyes. Before Lan Jue could react, Tan Lingyun reached out and grabbed his hand, and tried to twist it around.

    Lan Jue was taken aback for a moment, but his subconscious reacted for him. He took a step back, his hand still held tightly by the Savage Goddess. He turned his wrist, forcing hers to as well. A half-second glint of lightning flashed as a bolt struck her wrist. Her whole body went numb, while Lan Jue took a few steps back to maintain a safe distance.

    "Professotr Tan. I really don't understand why you have to be violent every time we run in to one another. Is there so much hatred between us?" Lan Jue was beginning to grow irritated.

    "Yes!" She screamed back in challenge. She lunged at him like a leopardess, her fingers swiping like claws at his face.

    Lan Jue watched her coming, and grunted angrily. "I've tolerated you for long enough!" Lan Jue's body shimmered and vanished. All Tan Lingyun saw was a flash, and then suddenly, before her eyes, there were countless Lan Jues menacingly glaring at her. The whole world went spinning, and when she finally got her bearings she discovered she was on her back. Luckily, Lan Jue was not the kind of person to react in anger. She'd hit hard, but he'd floored her on the grass. He could have just as easily driven her through the concrete a few steps away.

    Lan Jue pressed her against the floor with a hand against her shoulder blade. His other hand kept her wrist twisted and pressed against her middle back. "Are you convinced?" He asked, dryly.

    She writhed in ager. "I am not! Let me go!"

    "I can do that," Lan Jue answered. "But you have to stop acting like a crazy person."

    Tan Lingyun did not protest. She didn't say anything. Eventually Lan Jue let her free.

    She took the opportunity to whip herself around, trying to sweep Lan Jue's legs out from under him.

    Damnit, Lan Jue muttered inwardly, is she trying to cut my legs off? He brought his legs together and launched himself backward. In the same moment, his right hand reached out and released a gust of gentle energy. When it struck Tan Lingyun, it sent her spinning in the opposite direction.

    He came to a stop, pointing threatningly with his hand. There was a flash of gold, and suddenly Lan Jue face was replaced with the opulent golden mask familiar to Zeus. "Enough! Stay your hand!" he commanded.

    Tan Lingyun, upon seeing the true Zeus before her, was frozen in place. Her whole body quivered. For reasons unknown, when she saw him this way all violence drained from her.

    He saw her standing there, stunned. "What's wrong with your head? Are you finally finished?"

    She summoned enough gall to stammer at him. "Y-you... you look better this way. I can stomach it."

    "You're a damn masochist!" Lan Jue hissed at her. "Where are my A.R.C. students. Take me."

    "Oh." She'd been a vicious tigress moments before, but dutifully pointed out where the students were and trotted off without any further argument.

    Behind the mask Lan Jue watched her go, truly speechless. Mean women need mean men, apparently. This lady...

    Tan Lingyun quietly led him to the distant building, never once looking back. She managed to get herself under control, but tshe could feel the hard eyes behind the golden mask at her back. It made her shiver, and memories of the A.R.C. class swam through her foggy head. It was a feeling she found she liked, one she didn't get from Lan Jue.

    Am I really a masochist? Tan Lingyun worried over the question. None of that mattered, though. He came back.

    Her lips spread in to a sinister grin. "Drillmaster, now that you're back, do you need your assistants again?" She queried.

    Lan Jue nodded behind her. "If you all agree, we can continue the training. But it won't be on campus."

    "I agree!" There wasn't an ounce of hesitation from her. Inwardly,

    Lan Jue sighed. Those were the words he wished he'd heard from Qianlin. If only! But pondering the what-ifs wasn't helping anything, and it was all too late. She was gone, and he didn't know where.

    "Other than Qianlin, which other A.R.C. students have left campus?" He asked.

    Tan Lingyun called back over her shoulder. "They're all here, except for Qianlin. Me and Wang Hongyuan, too. With his identity and exploits made public, Wang Hongyuan's was also caught in the crossfire. Everyone knew about him as well. In fact, the two of them had been in charge of the independent A.R.C. program since his departure.

    "What's been going on with the university lately?"

    They continued to walk as Tan Lingyun caught him up to speed. "Things are very good. Ever since the news of who you are broke, enrollment has skyrocketed. A lot of foreign instructors have applied for positions, too. The local government's been keeping a close eye, and are angling to turn this in to a military university."

    "Mh." Lan Jue nodded as she explained. "That's good. Let's see how the students are doing."

    He kept the mask on. It seemed to command respect from the Savage Goddess, so perhaps the students would react similarly. Under Lingyun's direction, they traversed the college and walked in to a separate area off to one side of campus. A single building and a small training field had been constructed there.

    The school sure was generous! Lan Jue looked over the additions with silent praise.

    Of course, the University was run by a couple of crafty old bastards. After Lan Jue's victory, it took them no time to capitalize on it. Snippets of the training he lead were inexplicably 'leaked' and served as wonderful advertisement. The A.R.C. kids were the university's trump card.

    As a unit, they were spectacular. When you added in their gear earned from An Luo, they were definitely the center of many discussions. Not least of this was Wu Junyi's clandestine trip to Luo, where he tried to convince the university to come for another round of competitions.

    His goal was obvious.

    Su He was no longer part of the university's teaching team. Lyr had many good pilots, but the school didn't have the benefit of Lan Jue or his training program. Nor did it have the likes of Tan Lingyun or Wang Hongyuan. You didn't have to be the Clairvoyant see how that competition would play out.

    The NEU's teaching director also called in the media once the story broke. Under his sneaky dealings, students from worlds away were trying to find a way to get in to his school.

    The A.R.C. students themselves suddenly awoke to discover they were hot commodities. Stellar offers were being thrown at them from everywhere.

    Thankfully, Tan Lingyun had remained to look after his students, and she kept to his strict teaching doctrine. With her keeping careful watch, they worked to solidify the things they learned during training. Firming up after a period of laziness was always harder than just maintaining!

    "We're here. At around this time, they should be training." Tan Lingyun indicated the stadium

    "Right, let's go take a look." Lan Jue followed behind her. When they got closer, he started hearing the sounds of activity. They slipped in and stood in one corner to watch.

    Forty-nine crack pilots in training practiced battle stances under the close watch of Drillmaster Wang Hongyuan. One on one fights! Limitations in space kept the groups to four each. They alternated, and it appeared that the day's training focused on Discipline integration.

    "Can you insure safety while training like this?" Lan Jue asked Tan Lingyun.

    She nodded. "We've thought about that. Every fight has either Wang Hongyuan, myself, or a high-rank Adept keeping close watch. They all know to take it easy against each other. It doesn't have the same benefits as a real life or death struggle, but it helps them. They're much better at employing their Discipline in combat now, and that means more efficient use with their mechas as well."

    Lan Jue nodded in appreciation. "You've taken a good tack, but they need to be stronger. Let's see how much they've improved."

    Even before his words disappeared from the air, Lan Jue vanished in a flash. Like a bolt, he raced toward the oblivious trainees.

    His sudden and dramatic reaction startled Tan Lingyun, and excited her. Big green eyes sparkled, and the verdant green aura of her Discipline surrounded her. Her voice boomed across the field as she raced after the demon Drillmaster. "Enemies are at the gates! Attention!"

    Her call was like a password. All at once, the students broke off from one another and scattered in all directions. Defensive mechas were in the front, filling the stadium with light as their Discipline birthed shields.

    Lan Jue was a golden arc of electricity. He always preferred to start things off with his own people. His first target was Tang Xiao.

    The young Adept hadn't changed much since the last time Lan Jue saw him, still a little fat. Tang Xiao reacted immediately when he saw the figure approach. Crouching low, human flesh became metal and what was a mecha became an orb of metal. Dozens upon dozens of dangerous spikes suddenly sprang out from its surface.

    As crafty as ever!

    Lan Jue came to a sudden halt in midair. A single finger stretched out, and from it shot a bolt of lightning. The wild blast of electricity struck Tang Xiao, and coiled around in preparation to blast him away.

    However, in a shocking reversal, Lan Jue watched as Tang Xiao reacted. The spikes around him stretched taller, then splayed out like umbrellas. This second metallic shell protected his inward body from being directly affected. He got hit, but there was no conduction for the lightning to cause real damage.

    His head snapped around when, suddenly, he heard an earth-trembling scream coming from his flank.
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