In one of the basic training rooms in the mecha training hall of planet Azure, three mecha were practising to dodge obstacles in the air and on the ground.
A humanoid mecha and an avian mecha very quickly finished their own basic training, leaving only a rhinoceros bestial mecha dodging awkwardly — he was only about halfway through his course.
The other two mecha who had already finished began to talk quietly between themselves. In an annoyed tone, the avian mecha said, "Lu Xiaolong is really too stupid. Even letting him choose to control the easiest bestial mecha, he still needs over 15 minutes to complete the basic training course. The assessment contents will be several times harder than this, and a passing grade needs to be within 5 minutes ... heaven knows when he'll be able to get there and graduate."
"Originally, I had thought he was simple-minded and easy to order around, but now it looks like I made a mistake. Simpletons just can't handle mecha control," said the humanoid mecha sulkily, as if deeply regretting his oversight.
"Do we have to stay here together with this idiot? The other students who graduated from the scout academy with us have all already entered the real mecha world. I even heard that quite a few of them have already upgraded their mecha." The avian mecha was rather anxious, feeling that he was being held back by that idiot on their team.
"At the beginning when we wanted to form our 3-man team, our plan was for Lu Xiaolong to be the shield right at the front. You would be in charge of aerial attacks, and I would cover long-range attacks. If we give up on him, we'll need to find a new team member in the mecha world ..." The humanoid mecha was considering what would be the most beneficial course of action for them.
"By the time we wait for that idiot to graduate, we would long have integrated with our new team member. Right now, I'm very worried about whether he can even coordinate with us. You should know that the middle to late stages require team work to complete missions. At that time, a team cannot have any notable weaknesses ..." The avian mecha had already lost patience; he didn't think much of Lu Xiaolong's chances at all, thinking that he might hold them back then.
"Fine, we won't wait for him anymore. Let's go take the assessment first, but how should we tell him?" The humanoid mecha had always maintained his outward image of a nice guy.
"Watch me do it. When the idiot comes out from practice, I'll tell him." The avian mecha knew the troubles of the humanoid mecha, so he chose to volunteer.
After waiting a good long while, the bestial mecha finally finished his one round of basic training. Face beaded with sweat, he ran over to the two mecha waiting for him, and said in embarrassment, "Sorry, Ah Ka, Dali, I made you wait."
The avian mecha sighed softly and said, "Xiaolong, looks like we need to go our separate ways."
The bestial mecha was taken aback, unable to figure out what the avian mecha was saying at that moment.
"I discussed things with Ah Ka, and think that we should go and take the basic assessment first. We'll then go out to the mecha world to gather some resources, and then complete a team building mission to fully establish a team." The avian mecha laid out their plans.
The bestial mecha still didn't understand. "Isn't the minimum requirement for the team building mission three people?"
"We've checked out the discussion forums at the mecha world, there are professional gamers who specialize in taking on these kinds of missions. They help teams that don't have enough members to complete the mission, and when a proper member comes along, they'll quit the team to let the other in." The avian mecha was cursing internally — why did other have to choose to be so smart now? Actually knowing about the member requirement for the team building mission.
"So that's how it is. That's great! I've been worried that I might be holding you both back. This past period of time, I've actually been thinking of telling you both to just go look for a new member and stop waiting for me." The bestial mecha let out a sigh of relief. He was really very reluctant to part ways with these two good friends who were willing to accommodate his denseness.
"Hehe, so you had already known that you were holding us back, eh ..." The avian mecha chuckled awkwardly. Internally, he was filled with regret. He regretted that he hadn't known the other had had these kinds of thoughts; otherwise, he wouldn't have had to find this sort of excuse. He was also annoyed at the other — if he had those kinds of thoughts, then why hadn't he said anything earlier?! If he really considered them as friends, then he definitely wouldn't have wanted to hold them back. This Lu Xiaolong was clearly trying to cling to them and rely on them.
"Xiaolong, don't take this to heart too much. We're good friends, you know. You need to work hard here; don't let us leave you too far behind," said the humanoid mecha in a hurry, sensing the avian mecha's building rage. If the fact that they had abandoned a teammate were to become public knowledge, their team would definitely be unable to get a new member. Whether it was in the real world or on the virtual network, abandoning and betraying one's teammate was extremely looked down upon. He was unwilling to have such a sin staining his name.
Clearly ashamed, the bestial mecha said, "Yeah, I'll work hard. I must pass this assessment as soon as possible to catch up to you two."
The avian mecha operator's lips curled, thinking nothing of the other's promises. However, under the humanoid mecha's warning glare, he could only throw out some comforting words, "You really don't have to rush. Wait for us to get even more resources in the mecha world, then when you join us, you will be able to get a newer and better mecha immediately."
The bestial mecha said gratefully, "Thank you, Ah Ka and Dali."
The humanoid mecha and the avian mecha immediately made preparations to take the assessment. The bestial mecha wanted to watch their assessments, hoping to gain some experience, but the humanoid mecha advised him otherwise, saying, "You should observe the assessment of someone who's also using a bestial mecha. That would be much more useful for you."
The bestial mecha felt that what the humanoid mecha said was right. So, he looked up the assessment venues of bestial mecha, and found that there were a few bestial mecha taking the assessment right now. He selected the one with the most recent start time, and clicked the option to enter and observe.
Seeing the bestial mecha disappear from the training room, the humanoid mecha and the avian mecha each chose to begin their respective assessments, and were transported to their individual assessment mission spaces.
Lu Xiaolong had just entered the assessment space, when he saw a rabbit mecha dancing and leaping gracefully among the irregularly moving obstacles. Lu Xiaolong first reaction was to wonder if he was seeing things — he rubbed his eyes and found that the scene before him was real. Gradually, without knowing it, he was absorbed into the other's movements. The mecha before his eyes was no longer a mecha, but a real live rabbit, prancing freely in a forest.
Suddenly, the scene stopped moving. Lu Xiaolong roused from his trance, and found that the rabbit mecha had already passed and ended its assessment. Abruptly thinking of something, he looked up at the top part of his screen. A line of red text was flashing brightly, "Congratulations, XXX, for graduating the basic mecha controls course with a result of 1 minute 18 seconds. This record has been entered into the top 100 of the elite leaderboard."
"Top 100 of the elite leaderboard!" Lu Xiaolong felt as if his eyes were about to pop out of his head. Such great fortune had fallen upon him — he had never expected that a random choice had given him the chance to observe the assessment of someone at the level of a god. If he could only draw some inspiration from this experience, it would benefit him for life.
However, Lu Xiaolong very quickly deflated, because he found that in his mind, other than the other's magnificent and graceful moves, there was nothing else. This had truly been an epic fail of an observation — he couldn't believe he had missed such a great opportunity.
Head bowed in depression, Lu Xiaolong opened up the selection pane for bestial mecha assessments once more. Besides the rabbit mecha which had just finished, the other mecha's assessments were still in progress. Lu Xiaolong stared at the few names on his list, and just couldn't work up the enthusiasm to go watch any of them.
Right at that moment, a new mecha suddenly popped out among the selections. Reflexively, Lu Xiaolong clicked on it.
This time, it was a cheetah mecha. Lu Xiaolong had just raised his head, when he saw the cheetah mecha flying out to become a shooting ray of light, even leaving a phantom trail behind it.
"An expert!" Although Lu Xiaolong knew his own control was nothing to talk about, his skills of appreciation were pretty amazing. He immediately sensed that he had gotten lucky once again.
Sure enough, it wasn't long before the other arrived at the section with the moving obstacles. The feeling that he got from the rabbit mecha in the previous assessment engulfed him once more. Once again, he had the illusion that the cheetah mecha before his eyes was a live cheetah on the hunt. It nimbly dodged all obstacles in its way, heading unerringly towards its target.
Lu Xiaolong didn't even look at the time; once again, he was utterly absorbed in the cheetah mecha's agile movements, all the way till the end.
"Congratulations, XXX, for graduating the basic mecha controls course with a result of 1 minute 19 seconds. This record has been entered into the top 100 of the elite leaderboard." Unsurprisingly, when Lu Xiaolong turned back to his screen, a result infinitely close to the rabbit mecha's appeared before his eyes. It was also a top 100 score.
"Later, I must definitely participate in the mecha lucky draw!" Lu Xiaolong felt that his RP must definitely be off the charts for him to bump into two gods of mecha back to back. This luck could very well nab him a rumoured mecha equipment in the draw!
If only he could get to know those two gods ... but unfortunately, those gods must have already chosen to graduate and leave. Feeling regretful, Lu Xiaolong didn't have any mood to observe any further, so he chose to leave the assessment area to return once more to his training room. But when he got there, the two gods that he had assumed had graduated and left were actually standing right there before him ...
"Ah ... why are you two still here?!" Lu Xiaolong's voice blasted out into the room. It turned out that Lu Xiaolong had forgotten to close the public speaker he had turned on when he had spoken with his friends.
The rabbit mecha and the cheetah mecha had initially been practising on their own, but hearing his voice, they both looked back simultaneously.
Lu Xiaolong could almost see the confusion in the eyes of both mecha. This made him almost want to slap himself so that he could use pain to remind himself to be more aware of what he was doing.
"Didn't you both make it into the top 100 already? Why didn't you choose to graduate?" Lu Xiaolong still couldn't restrain his curiosity, spilling his questions out in a rush.
However, right after he said this, Lu Xiaolong immediately regretted it. Who knew if the two gods would find his questions annoying and choose to leave this room and go somewhere else? Then, wouldn't he have thoroughly lost the chance to get to know these two gods better?
Sure enough, the rabbit mecha only turned to glance at the cheetah mecha, and then with a bob of its head, it turned away to continue practising its basic movements. Sigh, as expected, gods weren't so easy to approach. Lu Xiaolong lowered his head and sighed dejectedly.