Chapter 470: Ling Xiao’s Pride and Troubles!
Translator: ryuxenji Editor: H2dH2mr
The imperial operator’s words received his partner’s approval. Ling Lan’s amazing performance had moved the two initially unperturbed and indifferent imperial operators, making them reconsider taking in students themselves. Yes, maybe next time, when the First Men’s Military Academy took in new students, they could go over there to see if there were any good seedlings …
In the meantime, a heated debate of whether 51 shots or 52 shots had been fired had broken out among the audience. Ling Xiao, who had been quietly seated at the rostrum, showed no change in his expression, but those familiar with him realised that the corner of his lip was slowly but surely tilting upwards, the smile on his lips becoming increasingly tangible. This meant that he was in an extremely good mood …
Of course Ling Xiao would feel good, because he had seen — and he was the only one who had seen — that there was a trick behind Ling Lan’s last shot. Using a special-class mecha, she had successfully gone beyond the boundaries of her level to pull off a skill that could only have been executed by an ace mecha — Synchronous Shooting!
Synchronous Shooting was a skill that allowed an operator to shoot two beam shots at the same time. Besides the muzzle of the gun being lighted up just that little bit more while shooting, the posture and shooting frequency looked exactly as when shooting an ordinary single beam shot. As such, Synchronous Shooting was one of the hardest long-range offensive skills to detect. It was just so stealthy that even the most experienced mecha masters could not confirm for sure whether someone was actually performing Synchronous Shooting or just shooting a single shot. This was also one of the reasons why Synchronous Shooting managed to become an ace level top-class skill. It was just too hard to deal with — truly a technique that just could not be effectively defended against.
Another reason Synchronous Shooting managed to become a top-class ace level skill was that it was very difficult to execute. To successfully use Synchronous Shooting, a mecha master’s hand speed needed to be at the peak of ace level. Without that level of hand speed, the mecha master would not be able to perform Synchronous Shooting even if he wanted to. Of course, even with the required hand speed, the skill might still fail. The mecha’s A.I. must also be reliable — even a delay of 0.01 second could cause an attempted synchronous shot to end up as two ordinary beam shots.
Ling Lan’s success made Ling Xiao feel both proud and a little helpless at the same time. His daughter seemed to have already entered the rebellious phase his parenting book had mentioned.
Ling Xiao had long known that Ling Lan had already advanced into ace level. Still, executing Synchronous Shooting with an ace mecha versus executing it with a special-class mecha were two completely different concepts. With a special-class mecha, the demands on Ling Lan’s finger speed was much more stringent, because the A.I. of a special-class mecha was a hair weaker than the A.I. of an ace mecha. Do not underestimate this thin hairs-breadth of difference — it required an operator to pay several magnitudes the cost to execute an ace technique.
Since Ling Lan managed to successfully execute Synchronous Shooting, in the end, her One-Point Sustained Shooting had successfully fired 7 beam shots. In other words, Ling Lan had fired 53 shots in total and not the 52 or 51 shots as everyone else believed. This number had drawn even with the record set by Ling Xiao in the past. How could Ling Xiao not be proud? This amazing genius mecha operator was none other than his very own daughter! Who said girls could not match up to boys? Ling Xiao believed that his daughter would definitely create a miracle!
However, after the pride he felt subsided, Ling Xiao began to fret. For his daughter’s own safety, he had advised her to show a little restraint. On the surface, Ling Lan had indeed seemed to have listened, but in actual fact, this move had displayed her rebellious streak — even if she had to show restraint, she would show it in her own domineering way!
Right then, Ling Xiao’s thoughts could not help but stray. Was his daughter trying to prove to him that she was no longer the child that needed him to protect her from the winds and rains? That she had grown up enough to independently face the storms of the outside world?
Thinking of this possibility, Ling Xiao suddenly felt a little crestfallen. The absence of 16 years was not that easy to make up for, especially now when he had come to the realisation that his daughter increasingly did not need him anymore. This fuelled his fury against the people that sabotaged him, for making him miss the most precious childhood period of his daughter.
“It’s about time to collect some of the interest on the grudges of that time!” A cold glint shone in Ling Xiao’s eyes. There was a brief trace of killing intent, but between blinks of an eye, Ling Xiao had returned to his usual kindly demeanour, still as mellow as jade and as smiley-faced as ever.
Ling Lan saw the opponent eject successfully out of his cockpit and instantly relaxed. That final Synchronous Shot had been unintentional. At that time, while she had been focusing on the operations for One-Point Sustained Shooting, she had actually entered a rare state of harmony between man and nature — this state had reached a peak during her sixth shot, blasting through the bottleneck on her finger speed that had already been stalled for a full half a year to enter a whole new stage.
And it was at precisely that moment when she had naturally performed Synchronous Shooting … in the end, she had succeeded — that extra beam shot had been like the final straw that had broken the camel’s back, causing the opponent’s mecha, which should only have been half-destroyed in the attack, to be completely destroyed.
Fortunately, she had been shooting at the upper half of the mecha then, giving the opponent time to eject out of his mecha. It was a truly a great blessing that tragedy had been avoided!
Seeing that the other was alright, Ling Lan calmly instructed Little Four to handle any evidence which could easily expose her secret and her strength. For instance, her long-barrelled beam gun and her energy storage unit had to be destroyed — if it was ever discovered that there was still enough calories inside for two more beam shots, she would definitely be pushed to the forefront of danger. At that time, even her father Ling Xiao would probably be unable to ensure her safety.
Little Four was very efficient, instantly destroying the electrical circuits of the energy storage unit. He also applied a little cover-up to make the energy storage unit look like it had shorted due to having been overdrawn on calories. At the same time, he also modified the saved records on the A.I.. Data on Ling Lan’s operations would be saved on the A.I. — this was initially a function meant to help mecha operators review their own operations to identify their shortcomings and fix them, but it was now a potential source which could expose Ling Lan’s true strength. Little Four naturally would not overlook it.
Little Four only needed one or two minutes to deal with all of these things. The reason why he even needed that much time was that it was a little more troublesome to edit the saved records on the A.I. and still keep things reasonable. If he could have just formatted it to wipe everything, he would have been done in just one second. However, if he really did that, it would be too conspicuous and would have certainly aroused suspicion even if there had not been any suspicion to begin with.
Still, a minute or two was not very long — by the time Ling Lan’s mecha was descending slowly towards the ground, Little Four had already reported back to Ling Lan that everything was OK.
When Ling Lan alighted from her mecha, Zhao Jun raised two thumbs up high, cheering for her. Fifty-two shots! That was the number which almost every special-class long-range operator aimed for. Unfortunately, this number was not so easily achieved. Those who managed it and survived till now were all imperial operators of the Federation without any exceptions, and some had even achieved god-class status …
Qiao Ting looked at Ling Lan striding over to them and his fists clenched so tightly that his fingernails were practically digging into his flesh. Despite that, Qiao Ting felt no pain, only a powerful sense of danger creeping over his heart. He even wondered if such an outstanding person would enter ace level earlier than he had …
Thinking of the possibility, it was like a fire was burning in his chest, leaving him feeling extremely uncomfortable. He took in a deep breath to suppress the agitation within him … perhaps after he returned from this tournament, he should really contemplate how he could best conserve his power calories while shooting so he could increase his number of shots to the utmost limits!
“I will not lose!” Qiao Ting once again threw down these words like a promise to himself before boarding his mecha and preparing for his match. This left Ling Lan quite speechless. It seemed as if every time she returned victorious, Qiao Ting would come and throw this phrase at her. How proud did this Qiao Ting have to be to be so tenacious in his desire to beat her? Even willing to go to the extent of replicating her attack methods to compete against her? Should they not walk their own paths like the saying ‘ let the four winds blow as they will, I will remain standing steadfast still 1 ‘?
The Jingan Military Academy had lost the second match as well now, and in such a miserable way to boot. Even though Zhu Jing had not been injured because he had ejected himself in time, after a staff member had examined Zhu Jing’s mecha and declared that there was nothing wrong with it, the expressions of the Jingan contingent turned sour. They felt as if they had been given a big hard slap …
In particular, after seeing how he had been defeated from a replay, Zhu Jing found himself gnashing his teeth in anger towards Ling Lan. He felt that he had lost too pathetically — it had just been an oversight which had led to him falling for the opponent’s plot. He had not been on guard, which was why he had been defeated by the opponent’s sneak attack.
“Although our defeat is already a foregone conclusion, we cannot let the First Men’s Military Academy defeat us in straight matches 2 . No matter what, we need to at least win one match!” encouraged the team leader of the Jingan Military Academy.
Since they had already lost two matches before Qiao Ting had appeared to represent the First Men’s Military Academy, this meant that they no longer had any chance of winning the round. This was because they had no one capable of contending with Qiao Ting, so their only wish now was to win a match or two before being defeated to save some face as the 6th rank. Otherwise, if they were defeated in straight matches, then they would be no different from those other military academies who had been defeated by the First Men’s Military Academy prior to this. Those schools had just been unlucky enough to meet the First Men’s Military Academy a little earlier …
However, this wish of theirs was instantly crushed when they saw that Qiao Ting was the third contestant. As the third member of Jingan walked onto the field, his complexion was green. If at all possible, he really did not want to take the field just to be tormented by Qiao Ting. The gap between their levels gave him no room to put up a fight … he could only hope that Qiao Ting’s fighting spirit was not too intense so that he would be able to last a little longer and not lose too much face.
Perhaps triggered by Ling Lan’s 52 shots (Because no one had even considered the possibility of someone using a special-class mecha to execute the top-class ace level technique Synchronous Shooting, and after factoring in the judgment of the two imperial operators monitoring the match, the referee panel had determined that Ling Lan had fired a total of 52 shots in the end.), Qiao Ting’s desire to attack was overwhelming. As soon as the match began, he pulled away at top speed, and when he had gained enough distance, he immediately used two advanced techniques to finish off his opponent.
This match broke the record for the shortest time taken by a long-range operator to end a fight. Long-range operators were unlike close-combat operators who could clash at the first instant to decide the outcome. They needed to first pull a certain distance away before they could carry out their attacks. This also resulted in the time needed for a long-range operator to finish a match being longer than that needed by a close-combat operator. Even such an outstanding long-range ace operator as Qiao Ting who was a head above most others would never be able to compete against the record time of a close-combat operator in defeating an opponent.
However, all of this was not enough to affect Qiao Ting from being the most popular contestant in this tournament. Even though Ling Lan had managed to obtain the excellent results of 52 shots, she was outshined instantly by this new time record of Qiao Ting’s.
Ling Lan was extremely pleased by this outcome. She suddenly found that this serious competitiveness of Qiao Ting was actually pretty good for her. At critical moments, he could totally become her shield to deflect attention, allowing her to hide behind him.
“Perhaps, I can try provoking Qiao Ting a bit more? And let him perform a little better?” Ling Lan stroked her jaw as she thought to herself.
The First Men’s Military Academy defeated Jingan in three straight matches, letting them move on into the tentative top 4. Meanwhile, at the same time, the three other mecha fights to determine the top 4 were being held at three other mecha combat fields. After Ling Lan and the others had stared for a period of time at the large screen backstage, they received news on it that the First Co-ed Military Academy had also defeated their opponent to become the second to enter the tentative top 4. This was closely followed by the Third Men’s Military Academy’s advancement. The difference between the two academies’ victories was only about 2 to 3 minutes.
The battle for the final slot into the tentative top 4 was rather intense. Since the Second Men’s Military Academy had lost prematurely and was not part of the top 8 this year, this had caused the initial solid past rankings of the top 4 to lose one of its corners. This also pitted the original number 5, Qiguang, and number 7, Yaohuang, against each other. Neither side was willing to give up on this chance to progress; the round was fought till the final fifth match. In the end, the 5th-ranking Qiguang won by a slim margin by the referee panel’s ruling to advance into the tentative top 4.
After the top 8 military academies had fought, the two resurrected academies, the Second Men’s Military Academy and the Federal Defence Military Academy, respectively challenged the initially 9th and 8th rank schools. Having already lost one round previously, the Second Men’s Military Academy was no longer as arrogant and conceited as it had been at the start. In order to guarantee their victory, they had cautiously chosen to challenge the weakest academy among their available opponents, the ranked 9th military academy which they had the most confidence to defeat.
It should be said that Jiang Shaoyu’s re-entry had caused the Second Men’s Military Academy’s strength to rise on a vertical axis. Fighting as a resurrected wildcard, they quickly defeated the 9th-ranking military academy in three straight matches to replace the other in the top 8. Meanwhile, the Federal Defence Military Academy clashed with the original 8th-ranking academy, but they were not as lucky — after five tough matches, they had still been defeated in the end.
And so, the defeated Federal Defence Military Academy and the initial 9th-ranking academy that had been defeated by the Second Men’s Military Academy would be fighting next for the 9th and 10th position in the rankings of this tournament. If there were no surprises, these two schools which were ranked 9th and 10th in previous tournaments as well would retain their original rankings. This was still an acceptable outcome for both military academies.
Meanwhile, at this time, the Second Men’s Military Academy which had been resurrected joined the other 3 schools which had lost to the tentative top 4 academies. Just as with those other academies, they now had a chance to challenge one of the top 4.
The former 8th-ranking school which had been defeated by the First Co-ed Military Academy naturally chose to challenge the 5th-ranking academy. Among the tentative top 4, they were the comparatively weakest one.
However, even though the 5th rank’s strength was weaker than that of the First Men’s Military Academy, the Third Men’s Military Academy, and the First Co-ed Military Academy, the academy was still not weak enough for the 8th-rank to overcome. After fighting 4 matches, the 5th-rank had already managed to win 3 matches, securing their position in the top 4.
Immediately after was the 7th-rank’s challenge. Aside from being unable to challenge the opponent which had already defeated them, the 5th-ranking military academy, all the other military academies in the top 4 were viable options. After some consideration, the 7th-rank chose to challenge the Third Men’s Military Academy. Of the remaining three academies they could pick, the Third Men’s Military Academy was undoubtedly the weakest one — one should always choose the softest bone to chew on.
However, the 7th-rank still lost their challenge. The Third Men’s Military Academy may not have an ace operator holding the fort like with the First Men’s Military Academy, the Second Men’s Military Academy, and the First Co-ed Military Academy, but their five representative mecha operators were all equally powerful, all of them at the peak of special-class. The 7th-rank still was not strong enough to snatch three matches from these five opponent members.
Next, the 6th-ranking Jingan Military Academy which had been defeated by the First Men’s Military Academy chose to challenge the 5th-ranking academy. The two schools were very close in ranking, and their strength levels were extremely similar as well. Perhaps feeling repressed from being bullied by the First Men’s Military Academy earlier, the Jingan Military Academy exploded with great ferocity, struggling against the opponent for all five matches to finally wrest victory from the jaws of the opponent. They won their third match by a narrow margin and successfully replaced their opponent in the tentative top 4.
However, their luck ended there. The resurrected Second Men’s Military Academy chose to challenge them immediately after. Perhaps Jingan had used up all their strength in the previous challenge round, or perhaps they lost confidence at the thought of facing the Second Men’s Military Academy which had the ace operator Jiang Shaoyu leading them — in this match-up, Jingan lost to the Second Men’s Military Academy in three straight matches. The Second Men’s Military Academy efficiently dispatched the Jingan Military Academy and took their place in the tentative top 4.
With that, all the matches in the morning were done. The official top 4 had been decided. They were still the same few schools who had dominated the past tournaments, unshakeable by thunder or lightning 3 . They were respectively the First Men’s Military Academy, the Second Men’s Military Academy, the Third Men’s Military Academy, and the First Co-ed Military Academy.
After a short break at noon, the matches resumed in the afternoon. At this time, whether it was the live audience on planet Qiming or the rest of the Federation public who were at home watching the live broadcast, all of their attention was on the combat field. They were all eagerly anticipating the upcoming semi-finals and finals.
The feelings of the four academies waiting backstage for the final match-up list to be revealed were all different. The five members of the First Men’s Military Academy were as steady as Mount Tai, extremely at ease. No matter which opponent they drew, they had the confidence to defeat them and advance to the finals.
As for the other three academies, they were all plagued with worry at the moment. Their greatest concern was, of course, meeting the First Men’s Military Academy early. Leaving aside the fact that the First Academy had the publicly acknowledged number one of all the military academies, the ace operator Qiao Ting — below him, there was still Zhao Jun, who had managed to force a draw against the ace operator Jiang Shaoyu; Ling Lan, who had perfect basic controls, created a new personal-name technique, and achieved an almost perfect shot-count; Mu Shaoyu, who had already achieved the peak of special class; as well as Han Yu, who was still able to overpower 80% of the special-class operators in this tournament despite being slightly weaker than his teammates. Not a single one of them would be easy to handle.
All three schools knew that if they were to encounter the First Men’s Military Academy in the semi-finals, that would certainly spell tragedy for them. And even if they managed to crunch down this hard rock by some lucky fluke and advance to the finals, they would definitely be too exhausted to compete with their opponent in the finals. Some members of these respective academies even began praying silently that any passing gods or spirits would help them out — please, please, please do not let them meet the First Men’s Military Academy in the semi-finals …
No matter how worried they were, the destined time would come eventually — one academy was destined to become the sacrifice on the First Academy’s altar this round …
When the final match-up listings appeared on the large screen, the Third Men’s Military Academy could only bemoan their horrible luck this year. Actually already matched up against the killer First Men’s Military Academy in the semi-finals!
Ling Lan and her team continued to use the same method, playing ‘rock, paper, scissors’ to decide their line-up. This time, Han Yu finally achieved a revolution4 and snatched up the right to fight first. Mu Shaoyu also performed well, nabbing the second slot following Han Yu, while Zhao Jun would be fighting third. In the final showdown between Qiao Ting and Ling Lan, Qiao Ting managed to narrowly beat out Ling Lan to obtain the rights to fight fourth. Hence, Ling Lan could only resign herself to being the last to fight, holding the fort for her team.
In reality, Ling Lan and the rest all knew that Han Yu’s chances were not good in the first fight. After all, his opponent was also a long-range fighter who was already at the peak of special class, which was a small rank higher than Han Yu’s own realm. Unless Han Yu managed a sudden breakthrough during the fight, there was almost no chance of him winning the match.
In spite of this, Qiao Ting, Ling Lan, and the rest of the team still entrusted their hopes to Han Yu, wishing he would perform well in his fight. However, hopes were just hopes in the end — reality was harsh and cruel. Han Yu was suppressed by his opponent from the very start of the match. Both combatants being long-range fighters, Han Yu was so outclassed that he could only exhaust himself running around the field with no way of even fighting back. Still, this was also the match that showed the audience how skilful Han Yu was in evasion manoeuvres. Despite being chased around so badly by the opponent, the opponent only managed to land a handful of effective attacks on him.
One attacking while the other dodged, the two fighters eventually used up all of the time allocated for the match. Unsurprisingly, Han Yu lost due to a lower points total than his opponent at the end. Han Yu knew very well what the outcome would be even before the referee panel made their call — after greeting Ling Lan and the others when he returned, he shuffled off to sit in a corner, staring soullessly into the distance.
Even though Han Yu’s personality was a little irritating, Qiao Ting and the others could see that, other than those first few matches where he had performed badly due to looking down on his opponent, he had always tried his best after that whenever it was his turn to fight. This included this last match. Although he had still been defeated in the end, Han Yu had still managed to last till the time limit ran out with a handicap of being one rank weaker than his opponent. It was clear to see how resilient he was and how hard he was trying.
Thus, when Han Yu behaved oddly after returning, Zhao Jun and Mu Shaoyu were rather worried. As Mu Shaoyu had to prepare to fight next, he could only push aside his concern for the moment, boarding his mecha to make some final adjustments.
Zhao Jun hesitated for a moment, but then walked over to Han Yu’s side. He wanted to ask him how he was doing. After all, he had worked under Han Yu for four years before this — even though their relationship had been more one of mutually using one another, they had still been working together for a long time. There was some bond there, so he should still check in on the other for a bit.
Zhao Jun had just reached out to shake the other when another hand acted faster than his. Before he could even touch Han Yu, that hand grabbed hold of Zhao Jun’s wrist.
Zhao Jun felt his hand go numb, and his hand was rendered immobile. He turned his head in shock, only to see that the one who had stopped him was in fact Boss Lan.
“That fight just now has inspired Regiment Commander Han,” said Ling Lan as she released Zhao Jun’s hand.
Zhao Jun was astonished. “Boss Lan, are you saying that Han Yu … has received some insight?” Even though Zhao Jun asked this question, he did not expect to receive an answer. This was because he knew that Ling Lan would never lie. If Boss Lan said Han Yu was processing some insight, then Han Yu was most certainly in the process of enlightenment.
Right then, Zhao Jun could not help but feel envy-jealousy-hate stir in his heart towards Han Yu. How blessed was he to gain this opportunity for insight? Zhao Jun thought of himself and was instantly tearing up inside … why couldn’t he be that lucky? Everyday yearning for an epiphany yet never ever receiving one — that solid barrier blocking him from advancing to ace level all this time … when would it loosen up?
Knowing now that Han Yu was busy with his insights, Zhao Jun did not try to disturb him anymore. Fifteen minutes later, it was Mu Shaoyu’s turn to take the field!