Chapter 75: Pirates?
By the time the Accountant was once again brought before Lan Jue, his face was so swollen as to be almost unrecognizable. Mika threw him atop one of the chairs before taking up her own, stony-faced.
“Right, now we can have a conversation. What did the Keeper send you here to do,” Lan Jue asked, settling himself beside the battered Accountant.
The Accountant responded, his words muffled and muddled from the beating. “Jewelry Master… treating me this way… it’s inhuman!”
“Mika.” Lan Jue looked towards the fiery woman.
“No! No wait, I’m sorry, I was wrong.” The Accountant stared wide-eyed at Lan Jue, terror clear in their depths.
Lan Jue turned his eyes back to the cowed man.
“The Keeper gave me some equipment, to help locate and mine gem deposits.”
Lan Jue looked skeptical. “What’s your relationship with the Keeper?”
“Ehm… I can’t say.”
“Alright… alright… I-I’m his only grandson.”
Lan Jue blinked, taken aback. He knew for a fact that the only way the Accountant could have entered Skyfire Avenue as a resident was to undergo a series of stringent evaluations. There were no shortcuts.
“You’re the Keeper’s grandson.” His face said he didn’t believe it.
The Accountant’s anger flared. “What’s wrong with me being his grandson?! You think it’s a blessing being part of his family? Ever since I was small the old man has been brainwashing me with floods of useless data. Trying to fill me with his knowledge and ideas. From when I was three to twenty-three, I only had four hours of sleep a night. Then, to Skyfire Avenue for the evaluations. You want to know why I talk so much? Because I wasn’t able to share my thoughts at all for twenty years! You don’t know how much I loved the outside world, but I couldn’t leave the geriatrics side. I’m twenty four, and still a virgin. How pathetic is that!”
Lan Jue spoke now in considerably droll tones. “And that’s why you snuck on my ship?”
“Eh…” the Accountant stuttered. “Jewelry Master, I know you aren’t one to stoop to pettiness. Let’s not fuss about it. I’ve always been a little hyperactive, since I was small. Sometimes I can’t help myself. I see something interesting and I want to study and look and examine…”
Lan Jue waved his hand, cutting him off. He didn’t have the time to listen to the Accountant talk all day.
“Seeing as you’re part of the Keeper’s family, I wont bother with you any more this time. But in return you have to go through the sip’s systems and patch up their loopholes, so that next time no one – not even you – can sneak on board. Then we’ll be square.”
“No problem. O-only, how can you prove I wont be able to get back in?” The Accountant’s eyes shone with curiosity.
Lan Jue laughed. “Let me tell you a secret. See these four ladies? One of them is psychic. If I want to know anything at all about you, it’s as easy as asking a question. Take a guess… which one do you think it is?”
“Psychic?” The Accountant’s heart rate shot up. As the Keeper’s son he absolutely knew about the Psychic Discipline. And how horrifying it could be.
Regardless of the type of psychic ability, congenitally derived Psychic Discipline begins at no less than the seventh-level of Talent, with plenty of potential for growth. The Accountant hadn’t imagined Lan Jue commanded such a companion.
His eyes fluttered back and forth from Mika, Lin Guoguo, Ke’er and Xiuxiu. He’d already been acquainted with Mika’s fiery temperament. And with her degree of power, she was a downright Dragon Lady. It couldn’t be her, then, and thus must be one of the other three. But which one?
His own Talent was fairly useful in a fight, so combat didn’t frighten him too badly. But a psychic, those types were capable of controlling your mind in the blink of an eye. No amount of intelligence could protect you.
“Mika, from now on you’re in charge of the Accountant. Get him a computer, and make him prove his worth.”
Mika turned her face to shoot the Accountant a charming smile. “As you command, boss.”
The Accountant’s face grew sour at the prospect of being stuck with his tortures, and the pain in his body occasionally still caused him to twitch. Mika had left quite the impression on him.
“Boss, radar’s picked up a gunboat-class ship bearing down on us. Wait, no… three of them. Two on the original’s flanks.”
“Pirates? A-are they pirates? Is there going to be a fight?” The Accountant asked excitedly.
“Shut up!” Mika spat at him.
Ships in the tree alliances were broken in a class system. From high to low, they were; Bastions, Sovereign-Class Base Ships, Capital Warships, Expedition Battleships, common battleships, and gunboats. After those were carriers and mechas.
Generally speaking gunboats weren’t fitted for long-range expeditions, they needed to resupply at depot vessels. Any fleet required a range of ships to function effectively.
Zeus-1 was also, technically, a gunship, but compared to it’s unfitted cousins they were like night and day. It had no specialized mecha compartment, and could only house a crew of about ten. Regular gunboats, on the other hand, usually flew with a small mecha combat group. It was the best load-out for stellar assault missions.
“Signal the boats, affirm their identities.” Lan Jue said softly. He made no move to return to the captains chair.
“Approaching gunships have refused signal,” Ke’er reported.
“Purpose unclear. Their speed has increased and their gun ports are opened,” Lin Guoguo followed.
“We’re getting demands to surrender,” Ke’er said.
Lan Jue chuckled. “Surrender? Ladies, which one of you would like the honors?”
“Oh! Me!” Other than Xiuxiu, the other three ladies all scrambled to speak at once.
The Accountant just watched the scene, speechless.
The three girls, each with a sharp look in their eyes, stared at one another for a moment before raising high their right hands. Together, they called out: “Odd One Out!”1
The three women each shot their hands out, Mika and Ke’er palms down, and Lin Guoguo with her hand facing up.
“Hah! I win,” Guoguo called out excitedly. She immediately typed something out on the keyboard before her. A silver helmet descended from the roof of the cabin to settle on her head.
“The enemy’s main battery is charged and ready. Estimated time to fire, ten seconds.” Ke’er was watching her control panel as the information streamed past.
“Ten seconds is enough,” Lin Guoguo affirmed. She’d quickly become all business. From the three meter tall conical bow of the ship, a firing tower slowly issued forth. A golden power gem was affixed to the tower’s apex.
1. This is actually called ‘Black/White Match’ in Chinese, and is played by shooting your hand out either palm up or palm down. The odd one out is the winner.