Ling Lan resolutely ignored her discomfort; she gritted her teeth and controlled the mecha to pull out its beam saber from the Twilight mecha's cockpit.
Ling Lan's discomfort was not because this was her first kill in real life, but because her current small body found it a little hard to bear the reaction force from operating mecha.
Little Four noticed Ling Lan's condition and understanding the reason behind it, he asked her anxiously, "Boss, are you alright?"
Little Four knew that operating mecha would definitely cause reaction force to reflect back on the operator's body. He had already done his best to lower the reaction force incurred to the minimum, hoping that his boss would not be harmed by it.
However, Little Four never expected that Ling Lan would perform so outstandingly for her very first time operating real mecha. In particular, those final movements to evade the artillery had been beyond her usual standards — evolving the irregular dash of advanced mecha operators straight to the irregular flicker only ace operators were capable of.
The irregular dash and the irregular flicker were actually the same skill. The reason there were two names for it, was that depending on the operator's skill proficiency, the resulting effect was visibly different.
The irregular dash was an advanced mecha control technique, one of the compulsory techniques advanced mecha warriors and special-class mecha operators must learn. On the other hand, irregular flicker was a skill exclusive to ace operators. In other words, only an ace operator would be able to execute irregular flicker perfectly.
This was also why Qi Long and Wu Jiong would mistake Ling Lan for an ace operator. Frankly, Ling Lan's current control capabilities were only at the level of an advanced mecha warrior. At most, she could be said to have stepped half a foot into the ranks of special-class mecha operators.
Without a doubt, the appearance of the irregular flicker was the result of an accidental cross-limits burst of skill.
Of course, this cross-stage display of skill had also dealt heavy damage to Ling Lan's body. Although Little Four had already tried his best to minimize the damage, Ling Lan's body had still incurred a certain degree of damage.
"I'm fine. I've been through worse pain than this. This is nothing," Ling Lan reassured Little Four. Even though her complexion was so pale that it was worrying, her spirits were still at regular levels; it was as if the pain of her body did not exist.
Honestly, from the moment she had decided to pilot the mecha, she was already mentally prepared to get hurt. Mind you, for a child not yet 13 years old, no matter how solidly built the child was, their bones just could not handle the feedback force from operating mecha. This was also one of the reasons why the Federation banned children below 13 years old from learning how to operate mecha.
Of course, Ling Lan's reassurance to Little Four was also the truth. This little bit of pain she felt now was nothing compared to the excruciating pain of her illness from her previous life. In comparison, the pain she felt now was not even worth mentioning.
"Besides, Little Four, you've already helped me neutralize most of the reaction force, protecting me well. So I'm fine. Thank you, Little Four!" Ling Lan thanked Little Four sincerely for his hard work. If not for him, her body might be in even worse condition.
"Boss, I definitely won't fall for your candy-wrapped missiles ..." Little Four was beaming, a smile blooming on his face, stretching from ear to ear. Still, he did not forget to clarify his stance. As a principled intelligent entity, how could he be so easily bought?
Ling Lan ignored the currently tsundere Little Four, quickly scanning her surroundings instead. Very quickly, she had found Qi Long and the others' hiding place. Seeing the lot of them unharmed, she instantly relaxed.
Ling Lan efficiently hung the mecha's beam saber back on its back and slipped the high-frequency blade back into its place at the mecha's outer thigh. Just as she was thinking to go greet Qi Long and the others, Little Four's expression suddenly tightened and he warned, "Boss, the two Twilight mecha who left earlier are coming back. They're about 2 kilometres away from us."
Ling Lan felt a weight settle in her heart at these words. Although she already knew this was a possibility, finding out that the opponent was really coming still made her a little nervous.
"Hide properly. Don't come out!" Ling Lan threw down these words and purposefully flew the mecha in another direction, preparing to distance herself from this area. Ling Lan did not want the following battle to hurt Qi Long and the others, otherwise her coming here to aid them would be meaningless.
Qi Long and the others hiding in the dense forest heard a cold voice ring out by their ears. They were startled, and dispelled all thoughts of climbing out from their hiding place. They laid flat in their respective hiding places, not daring to make any movement.
"It's the Twilight mecha. The two mecha who left earlier have returned. Everyone make sure to stay hidden!" Wu Jiong's hiding spot happened to allow him to see the mecha flying swiftly by in the skies above. He immediately hissed out a warning. Qi Long and the others now knew why the Federation mecha had warned them not to move before flying off.
"He's trying to save us by drawing those two mecha away?" There was a complicated expression on Lin Zhong-qing's face; it was a combination of gratitude and respect, and also a trace of bewilderment.
"He's an ace mecha operator, he'll definitely be able to defeat those two mecha." Luo Lang clenched his fists, trying to convince himself while convincing Lin Zhong-qing at the same time.
"Will he? Don't tell me you didn't see the numbers on the arms of those three mecha." Ye Xu's spirits were low. As children within a militant system, they were well-informed about their own nation's and their enemy nations' mecha details. (At least, they knew more than the time-travelling outsider Ling Lan.)
Ye Xu's words caused everyone to fall silent. Only Lin Zhong-qing remained confused; he looked at Qi Long and then Han Jijyun, hoping that they would explain things for him. As a poor commoner, he did not really know much about this military information.
However, the typically talkative and outgoing Qi Long was uncharacteristically pensive and uncommunicative. His face revealed his puzzlement as he thought deeply about something. Han Jijyun cast a confused look at him, but found that Qi Long's attention wasn't here at all. So, he took over to explain, "The Twilight mecha operators' levels can be determined by the serial number on their arms. Those few mecha earlier all had an 'X' at the beginning of their serial numbers. That means they're from an ace mecha team!"
"Ace?" Lin Zhong-qing caught hold of the key point.
Han Jijyun smiled bitterly and nodded. With that, Lin Zhong-qing understood, and his face drained of all colour ...
Would their saviour lose his wings here? The children's hearts grew heavy with worry.
"Squad leader, I've found Kotou-kun's mecha. There's a large hole in Kotou-kun's cockpit. Looks like it's been shattered. From my observations, this should be the result of a stab by a mecha's beam saber ..." Mecha operator Shikamaru discovered the area Kotou-kun had perished on his scanner. The zoomed-in pictures his camera picked up was very clear; it was very obvious how his teammate had died.
"Baka-yarou!" A vein popped out on the squad leader's forehead as he gritted his teeth and cursed. He was irritated that someone had actually managed to kill his subordinate right under his nose. This made him feel extremely humiliated.
"Squad leader, there's a mecha over there ... it's Federation." Mecha operator Shikamaru had already widened his search range, and soon picked up the low-flying Ling Lan on his radar.
"That fellow must be the one who killed Kotou-kun. We must kill him to wash away our disgrace. After him!" Livid, the squad leader immediately turned and set his mecha on the path towards that mecha. Behind him, Shikamaru reacted swiftly, hurriedly following with his mecha.
Ling Lan's mecha was not flying in a concealed manner, and its speed was not very fast either. She was doing this intentionally so those two mecha would chase her and get further away from the hiding place of Qi Long and the others. Ling Lan knew very well that she would have to risk her life to fight against two ace mecha. During that time, she wouldn't be able to spare any mind for the surrounding situation. To avoid harming Qi Long and the others by accident, the further she could get away from them, the better.
The image Little Four transmitted to her let Ling Lan know that the two mecha were following her as she had hoped. Then, Ling Lan abruptly increased her speed by many times. The two main engines of the mecha roared in unison, and the mecha drew a lightning-quick line through the air, flying over 1000 metres in an instant.
"Shikamaru-kun, speed up. The opponent has noticed us." The squad leader saw the Federation mecha trying to escape and knew that the other had noticed them on his tail.
"Hai!" The two Twilight mecha increased their speed at the same time, and like two feral dogs locked on Ling Lan's scent, they chased after her.
As Ling Lan was controlling her movement speed, not pushing her mecha to its limits, after around 10 seconds, the enemy had already caught up to her.
"Shikamaru-kun, high altitude snipe." Once Ling Lan entered sniping range, the squad leader immediately gave the order. He dearly wished that his subordinate would be able to destroy that hateful mecha operator with one shot.
"Hai!" The mecha operator Shikamaru was a sniping expert to begin with. He controlled his mecha to fly steadily and lifted the sniping rifle in his mecha's hands. The moment he managed to lock onto Ling Lan flying in front of him, he pressed the firing button.
"Boss, we've been targeted." The opponent had just locked onto Ling Lan's mecha when Little Four issued a warning.
Ling Lan's fingers danced frenetically — very quickly, sweat began to bead up on her forehead and the tip of her nose, condensing to slide down her face and drop ...
Her mecha was suddenly seen to wriggle like a fish in water, drawing a strange curve, allowing it to dodge Shikamaru's shot by a narrow margin!
"Irregular flight! Damn it!" Mecha operator Shikamaru was extremely put out for missing his target. He also knew how to execute irregular flight, but to be able to calculate the trajectory of a shot so accurately ... this was the first time he was seeing this.
What Shikamaru did not know was that it wasn't the mecha operator who managed this feat, but Little Four substituting for the mecha's A.I.. Of course, this was also only possible due to Ling Lan and Little Four's close rapport. Otherwise, if they were unlucky, they might very well have been hit and perished along with the mecha.
Although Ling Lan managed to evade multiple snipes by the mecha operator Shikamaru, she was held back at the same time. When the squad leader chasing them got within 100 metres of Ling Lan, he sneakily raised the beam cannon in his hands to aim at Ling Lan who was still busily dodging Shikamaru's attacks, prepared to lock onto her and shoot.
"Boss, the other mecha is also about to attack," cautioned Little Four anxiously.
"Troublesome!" Ling Lan was confident that she could successfully dodge all the snipe attacks of one mecha, but if two mecha attacked at the same time, Ling Lan wasn't sure if she could remain unharmed.
That said, Ling Lan's control hand speed actually increased by one level. Right then, the outlines of Ling Lan's fingers were no longer visible, nor was it possible to see which buttons were being pressed. At most, on the control panel, one could only see the countless afterimages of her fingers, just like blossom after blossom of flowers blooming, beautiful and ephemeral ...i.e. dieAn extension of 'baka'. Where 'baka' is 'idiot', 'baka-yarou' is like 'idiot-fellow'.