The Federation mecha operator saw that his opponent was completely dead; only then did he let out a breath, relaxing fully. Similarly, he had not noticed anything odd, just feeling glad that the opponent had run out of stamina before he had. This was why he was the one who lived and not the opponent.
Hiding at one side, Ling Lan was just thinking whether to go out and meet the other to obtain an update on the battlefield situation when a frisson of alarm coursed through her heart. Without even thinking about it, Ling Lan pushed off the ground forcefully with both arms, sending her whole body flying backwards rapidly.
At that moment, a terrifying light energy beam poured down from the skies, accompanied by a horrified voice screaming, "Dodge ...!!"
A Twilight mecha in the air had noticed the surviving Federation mecha operator on the ground, and had decisively raised the gun in his hand to send a powerful light beam blasting down on the other. Not too far from this spot, another Federation mecha had also happened to see the opponent's movement, and had tried to lift his own gun to stop the other, but it was too late.
The resting Federation mecha operator standing there had no chance of reacting, directly being engulfed by that massive light beam ...
A loud "BOOM" and the earth was blasted apart, causing an approximately 20-metre wide pit to appear. Right then, that Federation mecha operator standing there had disappeared without a trace, only leaving behind blood-soaked dark rust coloured earth as proof of his existence.
"Bastards! I'll kill you!" The other Federation mecha operator's anguished voice rang out, interspersed with countless blasts from his gun.
In the air, yet another pair of Federation and Twilight Empire mecha became locked in battle, outcome uncertain.
Less than 10 metres away from the deep pit, Ling Lan was lying flat on the ground, drenched in cold sweat, not daring to make a single move. Luckily she had sensed the danger back then and had run away in time. Otherwise, if she had still been hiding in her original spot, that hit just now would have turned her into a puddle of bloody water just like that Federation mecha operator.
Even so, she had still been struck heavily by a broken tree which had been thrown her way by the blast, incurring some internal damage. Ling Lan knew very well that in this kind of grand mecha battle, fragile physical bodies just could not stand up to the potential damage. She was already considered unbelievably lucky for surviving this round.
"Boss, the mecha discarded by those two earlier may perhaps still be usable." Right now, Little Four was also very nervous. Ling Lan was stuck on her own on the battlefield — this situation was just too dangerous. They needed to have a mecha of their own to be able to stand up to the enemy. After searching for a long while, Little Four had found that the mecha which had fallen at the very start of this still seemed somewhat intact, so there was a chance it could still be used.
"Let's wait for a moment. Let those two mecha leave first." Ling Lan circulated her Qi to start healing her injuries as she consoled Little Four.
By now, there was nothing but flat ground around those two mecha which had fallen, no available cover whatsoever. If she just rushed out like this, she would definitely be noticed by the two mecha battling it out in the sky. Ling Lan absolutely did not want to be like that Federation mecha operator earlier — consumed by fire, saying a thorough goodbye to the world, leaving no trace behind.
Little Four knew that Ling Lan was right, and so said nothing further. However, the notion of getting a mecha of their own once again reared up in his heart. That way, he would be able to control the A.I. of the mecha and help his boss.
Ling Lan's internal injury was not too severe, but if not treated well, there would still be the possibility of future problems. Especially since they were still in a dangerous position right now — any damage would mean a decrease in combat ability, so the most important thing now was to make sure her injury was fully healed.
Consequently, Ling Lan left the safety of her surroundings up to Little Four, putting her full attention into recuperating. Very quickly, Ling Lan shut out all thoughts of her surroundings, entering a deeper dimension of Qi circulation and healing ...
When Ling Lan opened her eyes once more, her body felt light — the tired feeling in her muscles as she had rushed here was gone along with her injury. Ling Lan knew that this was due to the deeper level of Qi healing, replenishing the vital energies of her body till its optimum state.
Ling Lan's spirits were light as she looked up subconsciously. There was nothing there — the two mecha fighting there before she began healing herself were gone. Frowning lightly, Ling Lan asked, "Little Four, why didn't you wake me?" Who knew how much time she had wasted — if she had known that those two mecha were gone, she would have woken up earlier.
Little Four did not think he did anything wrong. Righteously, he said, "You need to be well so we can find Qi Long and the others more efficiently."
Ling Lan had nothing to say in response to Little Four's words. After all, Little Four had done so for her sake. If she did not heal her injuries fully and forced herself to go and look for her companions, and then, if by any chance there was any danger, she may have dropped the ball at a critical point. That was definitely being irresponsible.
Thus, Ling Lan cast aside the issue and began sneaking cautiously towards the two fallen mecha. As she moved, she asked Little Four, "When did those two mecha leave?"
"Hmm? They never left ..." For a moment, Little Four had no idea what Ling Lan was saying.
"Then where are they?" Little Four's words scared Ling Lan so much that she immediately dropped flat to the ground and stopped moving. Could it be that the two mecha were hiding in some unseen corner? Why didn't this little rascal tell her about this sooner?
"Oh, they're just laying about 1000 metres away." Little Four's words let Ling Lan's heart settle back in her ribcage.
Little Four brought up the image of the scene 1000 metres away in front of Ling Lan's eyes. Through it, Ling Lan could see that the two mecha had apparently perished together. 1000 metres away, there was yet another deep pit, and at the bottom of it, the two mecha were tangled up with one another. The beam sabers in the hands of both mecha were deeply buried in the other's cockpit. Thick crimson liquid was gushing out endlessly from both cockpits — the mecha operators inside were extremely unlikely to have survived.
"Little Four, monitor the surroundings, including the area above," ordered Ling Lan, after letting out a heavy sigh. Almost every second on the battlefield, a life was ended. Ling Lan hoped she did not become the next to perish. Thus, she needed to get a handle on the surrounding situation so that she would not be caught off guard by an enemy hiding in a corner.
Under Little Four's comprehensive monitoring, Ling Lan safely arrived at her destination. Little Four swiftly checked the two mecha and found that they were both viable for repair. After some consideration, Ling Lan decided to take control of the Federation mecha. Although she also considered using the Twilight Empire mecha to sneak into the ranks of the Twilight Empire and attack them from within, the battlefield was a chaotic mess — both sides were already in a battle frenzy, if she were accidentally killed by the Federation, that would be such an ironic waste.
Ling Lan quickly climbed into the cockpit, and Little Four instantly took over the control rights of the A.I.. Then, the first thing he did was to urgently shut the cockpit hatch, and then activate the mecha.
The mecha's screen lit up in a flash, and then countless combinations of 0s and 1s appeared, scrolling up in an endless stream from the bottom of the screen, finally covering the entire screen ...
"Boss, please wait patiently. I'm upgrading the A.I. and repairing some of the broken driver routines." Little Four's voice suddenly came out from the mecha's sound systems.
Ling Lan waited for roughly 3 minutes, and the countless 0s and 1s finally disappeared from the screen, condensing down to form two large words — Polar Light!
After a brief moment, the two words slowly faded from the screen. At the same time, the screen brightened, and Ling Lan felt the enclosed feeling she had at the start fade away. She could now see the limitless blue skies, and several columns of black smoke drifting over from who knows where.
"This mecha is part of the advanced mecha Polar Light series." Seeing the words 'Polar Light', Ling Lan immediately knew what level of mecha she was about to operate. Who'd have guessed that her first time piloting a real mecha would directly skip basic mecha, lower mecha, and intermediate mecha, jumping straight to advanced mecha? Other children probably wouldn't even dare to dream of such a thing. "As expected, anything is possible on a battlefield!" thought Ling Lan to herself.
"The Polar Light series — its strengths are its speed and its long-range attacks. In contrast, it's a bit weaker in terms of close-range combat," said Little Four regretfully. It should be noted that whether in terms of physical skills or mecha control, Ling Lan's skills in close-range combat were much stronger than her long-range attacks.
"Little Four, there's no such thing as strengths and weaknesses for mecha. Whether it's strong or weak depends entirely on the ability of the operator." A small smile hung on the corners of Ling Lan's lips. Even if this was the weakest mecha, when it came to close-range combat, she had the confidence to utilise it well.
"Also, I've found the instructional channel for the Polar Light controls. Boss, do you want to view it?" This was an advanced mecha after all, some of its controls were somewhat different from those of a basic mecha.
"Okay, just speed it up." Ling Lan had already scanned the control buttons — most of it was almost the same as with basic mecha controls, with only a few new additions. What Ling Lan was interested in was this section of the video.
Very quickly, Ling Lan had absorbed the newly added things. There was nothing too strange about them, mostly just the launch buttons of some artillery weapons. Ling Lan wasn't someone who used those much anyway, so this just made Ling Lan even more confident.
"What a shame that other than two small high-frequency blades and a beam saber, this mecha has no other close-range weaponry." Little Four was full of contempt for the dullness of the high-frequency blades and the sole piercing function of the beam saber.
"They're enough for me." Ling Lan nimbly controlled the mecha to grip the beam saber in its left hand. That length and piercing function really made it feel like a tri-edge trench knife; Ling Lan was very pleased.
"Little Four, run an immediate check on the remaining artillery left and the power levels." Ling Lan was not an impulsive person. Everything she did, she hoped to do it with all the information at her disposal.
"Head: anti-aircraft missiles, 2. Left arm: Beam shield energy sufficient, able to support 2 hours of continuous combat. Beam saber energy insufficient, only able to sustain for around 40 minutes. Right arm: 57 mm high-energy beam rifle, able to fire 18 beam shots. Additionally, in the chest area, two inlaid rockets were still unused. Driver energy blocks: Main energy block with 20% remaining, two secondary energy blocks still left unused." Little Four reported the status items of the mecha to Ling Lan one by one.
"If we fly, how long can we sustain movement? If I fight at full strength, how long can the mecha hold out?" Ling Lan then threw a few possible scenarios at Little Four.
"Purely flying, we'll be fine within 10 hours. If you combine flight with full out combat, 30 minutes should be okay!" replied Little Four conclusively.
"Got it." Ling Lan now had a baseline. She then operated the mecha to fly swiftly at low altitudes, rapidly making her way towards Qi Long and the others. Ling Lan was not flying at max speeds, however, because she did not want to be noticed and targeted by the enemies in the air above ...literal translation of the original is: to form two large Chinese characters — 极光! (Ji Guang)Original says 'cluster bombs' here but later chapters suddenly change to 'anti-aircraft missiles', which fit with the battle descriptions, so I'm changing this now.