Chapter 21: Into the Woods
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As expected, nothing else mattered to Ye Chong – nothing but the opponent before him.
The battlefield was set the woods; which was not commonly used since most mech pilots today combat in space. Even within the atmosphere, battles usually took place in the sky, which was why mech models that specialized in shooting became conventional.
Shooting was always Ye Chong’s Achilles’ heel, since he had never so much as to wield even the most rudimentary model of ray guns. The galaxy’s government had strict policies on weapon disposal – this meant that Ye Chong had lived with only physical ammunitions, and that space pirates would not be able to resupply their ammunition from trash planets.
NR Training without physical feedback had its limits since mental and physical developments are complementary, and one cannot improve without the other. Ye Chong faced the exact same problem during his shooting practice, and even Mu Shang could not offer any further assistance.
The thought of Mu Shang lifted his spirits, and Ye Chong smiled a little, wondering what the mech was up to these days.
Ah, distraction amidst a battle was bad – Ye Chong quickly gathered his thoughts.
The mech he was using now was a deep purple Dark Shadow; a high level assault type model. The body was thin and elongated that enabled high agility at a close range; it stood at eight and a half meters tall, shorter than the average height of ten meters. The mech was equipped remarkably – two durable magnetic daggers that looked as dark as night, its quality far better than that of the Raven’s. Unlike laser sabers, they blend into darkness; a perpetual threat that remained largely hidden from sight. A thirty-centimeter long sickle adorned both its wrists respectively – these double-edged blades were made of densely compressed metal alloys, capable of slicing through most mech armors. Ye Chong approved in particular the way the sickle was further coated with black paint to avoid unwanted glaring. The mech’s calves were similarly armed. Other concealed weapons like retractable blades from the tip of its feet could be found on numerous parts of the mech, and Ye Chong, who was always one for guiles and craftiness appreciated them a lot. This was far more acceptable than his little trick of attaching the barbs on Winnie.
If the mech was coated with black paint all over, it would be perfect, thought Ye Chong.
The Dark Shadow was an unorthodox choice. It had no long-ranged weapons, which meant the pilot must be skillful enough in combat at close range. Since long-ranged attacks were currently typical, this mech model was widely ignored. On the other hand, in order to improve flexibility, the mech’s body armor was deliberately constructed thin which made it a vulnerable target. Moreover, while the Dark Shadow could manage impressively over a short period, its low energy storage meant that long distance travel was nearly impossible; essentially making it obsolete for space travel. These were the many reasons this particular model was left in the dust.
Ye Chong was familiar with all the peculiarities of the Dark Shadow, so he opposed of the popular opinion. Since Dark Shadow was designed for assassination purposes, undoubtedly it was unsuited for one-on-one battles. One should not blame the design of a mech when it performed poorly in something it was not intended for.
His opponent’s mech was a modified one – eight bazookas that gave the impression of a porcupine, a pair of 50k grade double barrel particle cannons, and another pair of 20k grade photon gun made up part of its arsenal. Compared to guns, they looked more like full-sized cannons! There were two more supersonic guns; their attacks could penetrate through armor and strike the pilot’s body directly, causing nausea and dizziness. The smallest weapon holstered at the waist however, was what bothered Ye Chong the most – a Fallilang laser sniper rifle. Laser rifles were known to have impeccable aiming, and the Fallilang was legendary – a fifteen-kilometer shot would have an error margin of half a millimeter, and its laser intensity could burn through the armor of all but a few of the best mechs. There was also a ten-mega pulse heat ray gun for wide range attacks, covering the mech's blind spots. The mech looked odd; perhaps even ugly would better describe it, for it looked more like a moving fortress than a mech.
Ye Chong thought it looked like a heavily armed castle in the air.
Look at the side of that body - it could surely hold much more power than the Dark Shadow, therefore afford dragging the battle all day and all night. Ye Chong cursed inside – this was his first time facing such a crazy mech.
Due to the varied geography and topology of the battleground, both participants of the battle would be sent to separate random locations within it.
Time to enter the woods. Ye Chong thought coldly. One of the Dark Shadow's coveted features was its capability to reverse locating system. Deep within the labyrinths of the woods, it would be difficult to catch on to the Dark Shadow.
Ye Chong moved through the thicket cautiously, unaware that silence had spread throughout the audience.
As Ye Chong began to gain popularity, more and more people came to view his battles. Today, the audience seats were fully occupied, and multiple screens available on the viewing podium caught Ye Chong's movements from every possible angle.
It was easy to understand the audiences’ surprise. While the Dark Shadow was famed for its agility, Ye Chong still managed to make his way through the trees at a remarkably fast pace without slowing down; much like an unimpeded gust of wind. How was that possible? The spectators were shocked! Wild trunks and thick vines sprawled throughout the primeval forest; even a slow journey through the woods would have to be made with care.
Ye Chong was one that possessed terrifying skills!
However, these were merely survival skills for Ye Chong. The trash planet's maze of waste materials was far worse to maneuver through compared to the current landscape; to hunt for the mutants that live amongst the trash meant that the hunter had to move faster and better than his prey, for the alternative menu of disgusting liquid food was appalling! Even when Ye Chong first began piloting Winnie, he did not have to worry about the matter anymore. Mu's training further sharpened his skills, and Ye Chong could now find his way through challenging territory with ease.
Out of the blue, a deafening crackle boomed from the southwest.
Ye Chong hunched in anticipation like a panther, approaching the source of the sound silently. His sharp movements won another gasp of admiration from the audience.
Ye Chong hid behind a particularly dense area of the tree canopy, carefully observing his opponent.
The opponent mech had no intentions of battling with Ye Chong amongst the trees. Instead, it stayed in midair and cleared a wide perimeter around itself with its firepower. Once Ye Chong entered the clearing, there would be no place to hide from the deadly threats of the laser beams and cannon fire.
Ye Chong was in deep trouble!