The cheetah mecha changed direction repeatedly in mid-air, springing from one obstacle to another; it actually managed to stay in the air without having to set foot on the ground even once. Using multiple rebounds, he weaved his way nimbly through the air, jumping over wave after unending wave of obstacles. Without any real danger, he lasted till the final point, passing this assessment mission perfectly.
"Congratulations, XXX, for graduating the basic mecha controls course with a result of 1 minute 57 seconds. This record has been entered into the top 1000 of the elite leaderboard." A line of red text appeared suddenly on the screen of Ling Lan's mecha. This proved that the other's speed was indeed exceptional.
"Wow, Amazing. This result of his actually placed him within the top 1000 of the elite leaderboard, and this is his first attempt too!" Little Four's words stunned Ling Lan once more. Mind you, the other's control ability is something not even she — with the learning space she possessed, and the tenfold extra practice time she had because of it — could do. And the other had just accomplished it so easily ...
"Could it be that he has suppressed his previous passing results?" Ling Lan felt her own confidence take a big hit, and recalling that the other was an evolved spectre, capable of manipulating data in the virtual world, she wondered if the other had applied some subterfuge here.
"I checked. He really didn't." Little Four's words informed Ling Lan that the other's result was a true one. This fired up Ling Lan's motivation — this time, she really felt the difference between herself and a true aberrant-level prodigy of this world. Having no true rivals that could match up to her in the Central Scout Academy had made her slacken, but this event made her draw taut the reins of hard work once more, setting her firmly on the road of the strong.
"He's really amazing. Who knows how well I can do?" Competitive spirit flared in Ling Lan's heart. She had always been the boss at the academy, so suddenly having someone be better than her had made her eager to test herself.
"Why don't you try for yourself, Boss?" Little Four was obviously a troublemaker; sensing her restlessness, he immediately started goading Ling Lan.
It was true that Ling Lan wanted to know what level her basic control skills were at, so she went along with Little Four's suggestion and chose to take the basic controls assessment mission.
Ling Lan felt herself being transported into a spacious area. This area was different from the assessment area of the cheetah mecha previously.
"Every assessment map is chosen randomly. Word has it that there are over 100,000 maps, so it is virtually impossible to prepare for the assessment by researching the maps beforehand. This also guarantees that the result of every assessment is valid and reliable," said Little Four, explaining why the map was different.
"Since the maps are different, then why do they still rank people based on time? Among these hundred thousand maps, there must be some levels which are harder or easier than others," said Ling Lan doubtfully.
"The difficulty level of all the maps is equal. The controls being assessed on each map are about the same so that the operator’s true abilities are reflected in the results. For instance, the operator of that cheetah mecha earlier finished his map in 1 minute 57 seconds; then, he would also finish this map in almost the same amount of time. The deviation won't exceed one second, give or take."
Ling Lan nodded to show she understood. She saw a timer appear on the screen of the mecha counting down to the start of the test. This method of informing was much more humane than that of the learning space — after all, the system here gave you some prep time, unlike the learning space, which would start whenever it felt like it. Every start would just sneak up without warning, leaving Ling Lan feeling helpless.
Seeing two large letters 'GO' appear, Ling Lan controlled her rabbit mecha to bound off at flying speed. The fully engaged Ling Lan didn't know that, at this time, a familiar mecha had slipped into her assessment mission space. It was that cheetah mecha, the evolved spectre who Ling Lan had always considered extremely dangerous.
It turned out that the cheetah mecha had been fully aware of Ling Lan's presence during his assessment. However, Ling Lan's mecha had really just seemed so harmless, and its behaviour of nibbling on a carrot had been so amusing, that the cheetah mecha's operator couldn't help but chuckle, curiosity towards the operator of such a cute mecha stealing into his mind.
He saw that the rabbit mecha was simply observing quietly, and so left it alone. When his assessment ended, seeing the notification messages from the system, he was also very moved and satisfied. By the time his emotions settled and he was about to select the option to graduate and leave the mecha training hall, he unintentionally noticed that Ling Lan's rabbit mecha had chosen to take the assessment mission as well. Curious, he didn't choose to graduate, but instead chose the option to return for more training, and so was sent back to the mecha training hall. Then, he had entered this space to watch Ling Lan's assessment.
Of course, this choice meant that he would have to retake the basic assessment again once more later on, but he didn't care. After all, for him, passing the assessment was really a simple matter.
Little Four had noticed the other from the very moment he entered to observe, but Little Four chose not to inform Ling Lan. This was because Little Four didn't think the other could influence them in any way. Even if the other was an evolved spectre, Little Four believed all along that the virtual world was his territory — no one would be able to harm Ling Lan under his watch.
In order to let the rabbit mecha manoeuvre freely without any burden, Ling Lan shifted the carrot, which had initially been on the rabbit's back, to its mouth and clamped down to hold it between its teeth. After that, a giant rabbit could be seen hopping around nimbly within that vast space, dodging one obstacle after another.
There was sufficient room for Ling Lan's mecha to prance around freely — this allowed Ling Lan to pay less attention to those obstacles. At this moment, Ling Lan was unleashing the fastest speed she could handle for the rabbit mecha to run; in other words, her hand speed had already reached its highest point at present.
"What great speed. Their hand speed is most likely already at a high level. Who knew planet Azure had such an amazing youth ... is it an academy student? If it is an academy student, then who could it be? Is it a supreme prodigy who managed to beat the trial to remove their virtual access lock at only age 13?" The cheetah mecha operator wondered to himself in awe as he watched the rabbit mecha's speed. In his mind, he was going through the people he knew to try and figure out who the rabbit mecha operator could be among those on planet Azure.
Frankly, the cheetah mecha couldn't be blamed for not considering the other planets. This was because the newbies in the mecha training hall were either the freshest of newbies, those who had just gained access to the extended virtual world, or students from the scout academies who had succeeded in their challenge. Either way, they were the type with no money who wouldn't be able to afford the exorbitant fees for a transfer. Therefore, if they wanted to learn about mecha, they would definitely go to the local mecha training hall for training, and not choose to transfer to another planet.
Just like that, due to a misunderstanding, the cheetah mecha operator was never able to find the operator of the rabbit mecha. Only when he went to military school later on did he manage to find some hints.
Some of Ling Lan's high-speed turns left the cheetah mecha operator in awe, but also with some regret. "Hmm, it looks like there are some minor flaws in accuracy, but at this speed, this performance is already impeccable." The cheetah mecha operator's operator knew very well that, the faster the speed, the more difficult it was to control the mecha. Certain turning motions, which could be executed within perfect range at low speed, would become extremely difficult at high speeds. Typically, as long as a set movement can be completed at high speed, then it would already be considered an excellent performance.
Ling Lan's performance in the first half was basically perfect, but the latter half of the assessment wasn't that easy. Just when Ling Lan was enjoying her run, the difficult section arrived — it turned out that she had reached the part with the irregularly moving obstacles. Even though Ling Lan already knew these obstacles existed, they came on so suddenly that she was still thrown for a bit of a loop.
This was because these moving obstacles arrived so abruptly, and they moved without any sense of predictability.
Ling Lan was in the midst of sprinting when she saw a large rock hurtling towards her from her left side with the corner of her eye. At that speed, Ling Lan knew well that it would soon smash into her mecha's waist.
In a split second, Ling Lan decided — she rejected the option of an emergency stop, because she knew that once her mecha stopped, she wouldn't be able to increase its speed to this level again. This was because there was no longer any space here for her to slowly increase her mecha's speed. Her only option now was to break through with pure speed.
Ling Lan's decision was the same as the cheetah mecha's — progress by leaping from obstacle to obstacle. The thrusters on both sides of Ling Lan's mecha's waist activated at the same time. Borrowing the force of the thrusters, the mecha's speed was again raised by a whole level.
But the large rock was just coming at her too quickly — even though Ling Lan had increased the speed of her mecha by a hair with the help of her thrusters, she still only managed to push half of the mecha's body out of the path of the incoming rock. The rabbit mecha's hind legs were still within range of the rock's trajectory.
"Is he going to fail here?" The cheetah mecha operator frowned, because at this moment, there was already no possible way for the rabbit mecha operator to dodge anymore. However, right then, the rabbit mecha's next move sent a sparkle through his eyes, and he couldn't help but yell out in admiration.
The rabbit mecha had done something completely unexpected. With a sudden shake of its hind legs, the rabbit mecha had bent its hind legs back till a right angle was formed between its waist and its hind legs. Because of this bizarre move, the large rock had just barely grazed by the rabbit mecha's hind legs. On top of that, the mecha's raised hind legs pushed off abruptly against the large rock passing by, making an extremely terrifying loud noise. And this push sent the rabbit mecha zooming forwards at three times its original high speed.
If the instructors of the learning space had seen this move, they would have all exclaimed that this was the secret combat skill Rabbit Sky Leap.
This move had been inspired by the abilities of a rabbit, but was actually unsuitable to be used in conjunction with the rabbit mecha. However, in this last scene, Ling Lan had been forced into a corner, and had involuntarily used this move. Of course, being able to execute the move so nimbly with the rabbit mecha was all thanks to the hard work Ling Lan had put into her basic mecha control training in the learning space. She had already absorbed those basic mecha controls into her very instincts. Thus, in that critical moment, she had been able to take out this move, helping her to escape this desperate situation.
However, Ling Lan's crisis wasn't over yet. The added power of the Rabbit Sky Leap made the mecha's speed go beyond the limits of what Ling Lan could safely control. Meanwhile, the obstacles also became faster to match the increased speed of the mecha, becoming even more erratic and strange in their movements, leaving Ling Lan scrambling to stay in control.
Seated within the rabbit mecha, Ling Lan was already drenched in sweat. She peered intently at all the images being displayed inside the mecha, dodging every obstacle that came from heaven knows where. Unknowingly, her hand speed had actually broken past her bottleneck, becoming faster and faster, at times even producing several afterimages, something which had never happened before.90 degrees