Chapter 433: Daddy Will Win It!

    Chapter 433: Daddy Will Win It!

    The Accountant broke in to laughter. "Don't worry everyone. Current estimates put their success rate at zero-point-zero-three percent. At present, the idea of mass producing Paragons is impossible. A Paragon Is a special entity whose body, will, and energy have all coalesced in to a complete whole. It's almost inconceivable anyone could have the technology to replicate that. But even with occasional success they are still hemorrhaging money. It would be hard to justify spending it on this program instead of upgrading their naval fleet. So, it is my estimation that Titan is an exception rather than the rule. In fact, I suspect he'll never reach Paragon - that's why the North is revealing him to us now instead of after he's broken through."

    The Accountant's assurances eased some of the hard faces in the room. He went on.

    "His strength is nonetheless unquestionable. The only thing I don't know is how much punishment he can ultimately dish out. I'll need more information, so I'll continue my analysis as the tournament continues. The only advise I can give you, Jewelry Master, is pray you don't meet him in the first round. I'll need time to find his Achilles heel."

    Lan Jue remained impassive as the Accountant explained. "Very well. Pressure is motivation. I'm not interested in winning, just doing my best in each fight."

    The Gourmet nodded sagely. "Well said. I hope that the Pharmacist and Driver share your philosophy. Whoever takes the crown is not important, but the safety of everyone from the avenue is. After that the aim should be to learn what we can. Go on, Accountant."

    He obliged. "Next, Ju Mu. You've all seen him in action. He represents the Dark Citadel, and was one of their surprise additions to the tournament. He is a ninth level eighth rank Adept, given the name the Wolf King. The data on him is also somewhat thin, but we know he is a genetically modified Talent. When he achieves his second metamorphosis his speed, strength, and defense are all improved. There are indications he's also holding on to some tricks we haven't seen yet. Unfortunately, he's been paired with Titan, and I judge his chances at beating the Convert to be pretty low. He doesn't have a way to overcome Titan's overwhelming force."

    The Bartender - his expression sour - said, "You said it, the Wolf King almost certainly has some more up his sleeve. Are you sure his chances are so low?" He'd just lost to Ji Mu, and if the Wolf King wasn't strong enough to beat Titan than what did it say about him?

    The Accountant shot him a look of irritation. "Did I say it was certain? Of course there's a chance he could win, but if he does it will be by a small margin." It was clear he stood by his analysis.

    "Well let's hope they meet in the first round," the Bartender growled resentfully.

    "It would be the best situation for the Jewelry Master," the Accountant answered, his brows furrowed. "If they tired each other out, then he might have a chance at the semi-finals."

    Lan Jue sat silently, though his expression looked a little uncomfortable. The Accountant gave him a knowing look then went on. "The third person in group one is named Bing Yu. We know a little more about her. She's an older, attractive woman. About the Jewelry Master's age."

    "Daddy, why is this man so bad?" Jun'er interrupted. "He's always saying mean things."

    Lan Jue smirked. "It's because he's sick, baby. He's what we call a 'tight-butt', and is in desperate need of someone to help him ease it out."

    "Ahem! Jun'er, I wasn't talking about your daddy. I'm just trying to explain! You should convince him to forfeit, Jun'er - these next fights are going to be really hard!"

    Jun'er, clearly annoyed by the suggestion, answered. "You're a liar! Daddy's definitely going to win the competition!"

    "Hehehe!" The Accountant broke in to laughter. "You're definitely your father's daughter. I hope it all turns out well, but reality is cruel little one. He's going to need to give it all he's got."

    Jun'er swung her face to Lan Jue, then to the Accountant. "Daddy will be the winner."

    The Accountant gave her a tolerant chuckle. "Yeah, so how about a bet? If I lose and your daddy wins then you can kiss me. But if he loses then I get to kiss you!"

    "I will literally murder you." The Pharmacist looked at him with a pair of cutting, angry eyes.

    "Ehhh..." The Accountant blanched when he suddenly remembered the young girl's mother nearby. He quickly added, "pretend I never said anything."

    "I'll bet you. I real noble doesn't go back on their word." Jun'er's tiny but resolute voice called attention back to her.

    The Accountant didn't know how to react. The Pharmacist was likewise surprised. "Jun'er, honey, enough," she chastised.

    The girl's  voice rose an octave. "I won't! Daddy will be the champion! And if I lose then I will give you a kiss. But if you lose then you have to be my daddy's sidekick. Whatever daddy needs you to do you have to do. Are you brave enough?"

    Her audience watched in speechless amazement. She would not be dissuaded.

    A nervous chuckle escaped the Accountant. "Alright, alright you clever little thing. You've got a bet with your big brother. Better wash your cheek for that kiss you're gunna owe me!" He found himself in an embarrassing situation, but thought little of it. She was just a kid.

    Jun'er sniffed in acceptance then snuggled back in to Lan Jue's arms.

    The Avenue delegation was a sea of smirks, all but for three. The Accountant didn't notice anything funny. The Gourmet had a strange, enigmatic look in his eye and the Pharmacist was contemplative. Lan Jue looked bewildered. 1

    Even with all his intelligence, the Accountant couldn't know that Jun'er's insistence could have been a prediction. Had he some inkling, he'd be wise enough to know the dangers of betting against a psychic.

    The Gourmet and the Pharmacist silently pondered the meaning of what they'd seen. Surely it meant her powers were quite strong already, if she could see something so clearly already. She was already outstripping the Clairvoyant when he was her age.

    For Lan Jue, the prediction didn't matter. He would put as much of himself in to the fight as possible, but failure meant disappointing Jun'er. That could not be allowed to happen!

    "I'll continue." The Accountant said. "Bing Yu is from the West, and as her name suggests, her Discipline concerns ice. She has an impressive reputation in her Alliance that is especially telling, since she is not affiliated with either Citadel. Whether or not she's used genetica to improve her skills isn't clear, but she's a ninth level seventh rank nonetheless. They call her Absolute Zero. Ice Adepts are strong in general, but she began to realize protgenia when she was only third rank. Since then her progress has been practically light speed - real potential to become a Paragon. She's no less powerful than the one the Pharmacist fought, Hades."

    The Accountant's words were specific, chosen to illustrate to Lan Jue precisely how strong she was.

    The Barber huffed. "You're in the group of death, here. There aren't going to be any weaklings."

    The Accountant shoot a glance at Lan Jue, then chortled. "The best situation for our Jewelry Master would be to encounter Bing Yu in the first round, then Titan last. If Ji Mu and Titan rough each other up, he has a chance. But that being the best option doesn't mean it'll be easy. I'm sure the Jewelry Master knows enough of his own abilities to craft his own defense, much more than I. Anyway, his group isn't even the worst."

    The Barber blinked, openly stunned. "What, you mean the Pharmacist's group?" The strength of their resident drug pusher was evident to everyone, and everyone suspected she was going to be the one to walk away with the crown.

    "No." The Accountant shook his head. "There's nothing special there - b-barring you, Pharmacist, of course. You'll need to watch out for the Necromancer, Jiang Yuan, because he'll try to restrain you in various ways. But I'm certain your skills will triumph over his. You're our hope for the semi-finals."

    The Driver glowered at the Accountant. "You're one hell of a downer, do you know that? The Jewelry Master's right, you should see the doctor for that tight ass of yours."

    The Accountant immediately adopted his well-practiced, victimized pout. "I'm giving a presentation! Gourmet, you should take responsibility for the content. I've been busy all afternoon and look how they treat me!"

    "So give your presentation and stop sniveling over every asinine comment. Go on."

    "I'm really not trying to say anything about your abilities," the Accountant said earnestly. "In fact, the worst group is yours! Altogether your group has the highest destructive rating. It makes your chance of success... ehm, remote."

    "Eh?" The Driver gave him a skeptical look. "There's no one of any note, no one with a reputation. That Yan Ningya might have me break a sweat, but the others haven't displayed anything in their last fights to make me concerned. What could you come up with that I missed?"

    That smirk spread across the Accountant's face again. "There are many people in this universe who appear as sheep but are truly wolves, my dear Driver. Your group is proof. You think Yan Ningya's strength is something to sniff at? That's exactly why you can't see it. I managed to get in to a Conclave supercomputer to look for clues, and the clues lead me to a surprising discovery. Yan Ningya is as high up the chain of command as Titan, according to Great Conclave internal correspondence. As we all know, a Conclavian's rank in their organization is directly correlated to their ability. What does it say that she doesn't take orders from Titan? Wore, that's about the only information we have on her. From what we could gather, her Discipline is time-based. That's rare, about as rare as ...oh, I don't know, predictive Disciplines. In fact the only information I could dig up about any notable time Discipline was the Clockmaker. A member of the Avenue for a while, but a Northerner - now known as the Paragon Epochrion. That leads me to one conclusion; Yan Ningya is either the student or disciple of Epochrion."

    1. At the top of the paragraph TJSS noted three people not smiling, but described four. I've amended the three to a four in the spirit of what I'm sure was his meaning.
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