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After giving her thanks, Ling Lan no longer paid any attention to the man or his response; all her focus was now on the mecha combat match about to begin. This caused the man beside her to throw a speechless glance at her — well, that was rather perfunctory. Shouldn't she be more sincere when thanking someone?!

Ling Lan was oblivious to the internal grumbles of the man beside her. After choosing God view, the image before her eyes shifted instantly, revealing two very different images. One image was focused on the red mecha, while the other showed that the silver mecha had already hidden itself underneath one of the sand dunes. The colour of the mecha was gradually changing to match the colour of the dune.

Ling Lan found this rather interesting, and put her attention on the silver mecha's image, silently saying in her mind to zoom out ... Unthinkingly, she had stumbled upon the correct controls. The image zoomed out, showing that the hiding place of the silver mecha was completely invisible from a high bird's eye view.

Using the same method again, Ling Lan zoomed out the image of the red mecha as well. Only then did she find out that the red mecha was actually not that far away from the silver mecha — it was just that the red mecha had been circling around without getting close to the other's hiding spot. Now, the whereabouts of both mecha had been observed.

On the lower left corner of the image, there was a number counting down. Ling Lan guessed that this was probably the official start time of the match. The number was now already at 73, so the match would probably start about a minute or so later.

Moreover, Ling Lan also noticed that after she chose a viewing angle, it was as if she had entered a separate space. She couldn't feel the presence of anyone around her — it was as if she was the only one watching this battle, all disturbances screened away. Ling Lan was comfortable with this — at least that man with the dangerous presence would not be able to disrupt her from enjoying the mecha fight.

Meanwhile, on Little Four's end, not only did he search out all kinds of control systems for mecha fighting games, he also looted all the information about other control systems that could be found within the virtual world. After he returned from his pillaging, Little Four told Ling Lan that this kind of low-level mistake would never happen ever again.

Little Four's mood was actually terrible right then. He had never expected that the virtual world would have a game directly implanted inside it, and that every game would have different control systems. This threw him, a virtual god, for a loop, causing him to lose face greatly in front of his boss this time. He still remembered how he had proudly proclaimed himself as the god of the virtual world to his boss once ...

Who could have expected that there were things a god didn't know ... it was such a slap in the face!

Ling Lan had no idea Little Four was tying himself up in knots over this; right now, she was patiently waiting for the countdown to reach zero. Finally, when the clock displayed a string of zeroes, the initially circling red mecha abruptly changed directions and flew straight towards the silver mecha's hiding spot. Ling Lan supposed that it was very likely that, to avoid wasting time with hide-and-seek, the system had directly informed the red mecha of its opponent's general position.

Ling Lan believed that, for fairness' sake, the system wouldn't give specific coordinates on the other's location to either side. Sure enough, the red mecha's subsequent actions proved this point. In the air, while still about 5 km away from the silver mecha's position, the red mecha suddenly launched a guided missile.

The moment the missile was fired, Ling Lan felt ripples pass through the image. Little Four jumped in with an immediate explanation, "This is a  NNEMP 1 missile. It can disrupt the radar scanning of a mecha."

It looked like in order to make the audience feel the scene better, the system had added in these visual effects to represent these originally invisible interactions.

"What is the furthest distance that a mecha's radar scanning can reach?" asked Ling Lan thoughtfully.

"Depends on the mecha's radar model. A common mecha will typically be able to scan up to 2000 metres, an intermediate mecha up to 2500 metres, and an advanced mecha up to 3000 metres. Of course, there's still special-class mecha which can scan up to 4000 metres."

"Could the silver mecha be a special-class mecha?"

"At J8 level, it's very likely to possess a special-class mecha. But for a special-class mecha, not only must the mecha operator's operational skill be up to level, the operator must also have gathered a certain amount of meritorious exploits," explained Little Four to Ling Lan as he browsed through the information he had found.

Ling Lan nodded. Now she understood why the red mecha had fired the NNEMP missile from 5 km away. It was probably afraid the opponent was a special-class mecha, whose radar was capable of sensing 1000 metres further than his own mecha.

It was a reality that the red mecha couldn't afford to lose, so he couldn't gamble on this possibility.

The red mecha had just fired the NNEMP missile when it transformed into humanoid shape in mid-air and slowly descended to land on the ground. Next, the red mecha's colour slowly faded to match the colour of the desert.

"This is the 'chameleon system' only equipped on advanced mecha and beyond. It allows a mecha's external colour to change according to its environment." Little Four continued to clarify things for Ling Lan. Originally, all this information would be taught to Ling Lan in the scout academy before she turned 13; however, since Little Four had let Ling Lan come into contact with the virtual world and mecha fights prematurely, Little Four had no choice but to become the transmitter of knowledge.

A ring-shaped object slowly emerged from the shoulder area of the red mecha which had turned into the colour of the desert. Then, the object slowly and carefully snuck towards the position of the silver mecha.

"The ring-shaped object is an IE-type 2 heat detector, the newest model on the market. It's considered a type of retrofit, not an original component of mecha. This model of heat detector can sense heat up to a distance of 1500 metres." Little Four was quick to react, introducing this new item that had appeared to Ling Lan immediately.

Ling Lan nodded silently. Even if the K8 mecha also had an IE-type heat detector equipped, the red mecha would not be disadvantaged. The two mechas had initially been set apart greatly by their long-range sensing capabilities, but with this move by the red mecha, the playing field had been levelled. Of course, if the other side didn't have the newest heat detector equipped, this move would have given the red mecha the upper hand.

A well-timed and well-used NNEMP missile — it looked like the red mecha had come fully prepared for this cross-level challenge. It hadn't issued the challenge recklessly, and had come armed with meticulous strategy and tactics to handle the J8. It seemed like this match wouldn't be a quick one-sided battle; if the J8 wasn't careful, an upset might really be possible ... Ling Lan felt her enthusiasm surge.

Ling Lan wanted to know how the silver mecha would react after facing the loss of its radar. She turned her attention to the silver mecha's side and was promptly shocked still by the other's decision. Apparently, when the silver mecha had seen its radar fizzle out, it had stopped to think. After about one minute, the operator chose to submerge the mecha's entire body into the sand dune and shut down the mecha. The scene truly became deathly silent.

This action naturally stunned Ling Lan. Even though Ling Lan didn't know much about mecha, she still knew that shutting down a mecha would also remove the defensive shield originally shielding the outside of the mecha. In other words, the defensive ability of the mecha currently would depend solely on the strength of the metal it was made of. If it was coincidentally shot by the opponent's laser gun, it would definitely take heavy damage.

Ling Lan knew very well that doing this on the battlefield was pretty much a suicidal act. However, in this one-on-one fight, it worked wonders. This move by the J8 mecha made the J6 mecha's heat detector become utterly useless. In other words, the J8's choice levelled the playing field once again. To discover the other, they could rely on nothing else but their eyes; no external force or gadget could be borrowed.

At this point, Ling Lan thought of another question. "The mecha is inactivated, losing its defences. Our human bodies naturally produce heat — won't that be picked up by the heat detector?"

Little Four answered, "Because the protective clothing that mecha operators wear have heat-shielding properties, so the heat detector won't be able to pick up their body heat."

Ling Lan understood now. No wonder the J8 mecha had chosen to shut down without any hesitation. He had this to fall back on.

The J6 mecha which had already changed colour to merge with the desert sand began to walk across the desert. Ling Lan thought that the weight of the mecha itself would make it very difficult for the mecha to move, but unexpectedly, the mecha walked on the sand as if it were normal flat ground, as if it took no extra effort whatsoever. She took a closer look at the mecha's feet, and found that only its sole would sink into the sand, as if its big and heavy body did not exist.

Could it be that this virtual world wasn't able to simulate realistic effects? Ling Lan was doubtful.

Little Four sensed Ling Lan's puzzlement, and hurried to clear it up. "It's not like that. These mecha come with their own levitation system, which can decrease the mecha's body weight. Here, the J6 mecha is still not being operated to its maximum capabilities. If a top-notch mecha operator were controlling it, its feet wouldn't sink at all into the yellow sand. Now that would truly be a display of walking on firm ground."

So that's how it was! Ling Lan felt as if she had become more knowledgeable. She found that things related to mecha couldn't be viewed through the lens of normal logic. Right now, her interest towards mecha was rising in a vertical line — the long-slumbering mecha dream of hers began to stir and flare up once more.

Goddammit, she really wished she owned a mecha right now! Ling Lan's heart throbbed with excitement and impatience.

"Boss, if you want mecha, please get over your fear of heights first!" whined Little Four with a pout. The main reason he still hadn't given Ling Lan any sort of mecha training till now was that Ling Lan was still afraid of heights.

Little Four's words caused even Ling Lan's thick-skinned face to turn red. Although her fear of heights had indeed gotten better under forceful training over this duration of time, she wasn't sure if she was really over it yet ... and so, Ling Lan pretended not to have heard anything, looking away from Little Four's accusative stare. She turned her attention back to the images before her.

The red mecha carefully approached the silver mecha's position. However, all he knew was the other's general position and not the actual position, so when he found that the heat detector wasn't picking anything up, he stopped moving and began to consider what to do next. By now, the J6 mecha must have probably figured out that the heat detector was useless.

The J6 mecha seemed to become a little nervous now. Ling Lan saw that, with every step he took, he would look around warily. After many close brushes, he finally got closer and closer to the sand dune that the J8 was hiding in.

Who would discover the other first? The J8 was hidden within the sand dune, making it very difficult for the J6 to discover it. On the other hand, the J8 had shut down his mecha, and was in a blinded state. Both sides were not able to see the other — was this match destined to be a game of hide-and-seek from beginning to end?

Non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse IE is an acronym used by the author with no explanation.

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