Just when the squad leader was about to lock onto Ling Lan's mecha, the mecha's waist twisted into a very bizarre position, and its initial forwards flight trajectory suddenly took a 180 degree turn.
It should be known that for a mecha to change directions, they either needed to curve and make a U-turn in the form of a semi-circle, or they could choose to stop their engines and turn their body around before starting their engines again. The first option would maintain a mecha's speed, but required time; the second was immediate, but the mecha would lose the speed it had built up.
However, this control of Ling Lan suppressed the weaknesses of the two options and kept most of their strengths. This was a control method unique to the Mandora star system that Ling Lan had learned from Instructor Number Three in the learning space. Of course, according to what Instructor Number Three said, this control method was actually still a very basic and flawed one. This was because the mecha of this world were really a bit too crude and simple, meaning many of the more advanced control methods just could not be executed.
The squad leader saw the opponent twist bizarrely — successfully changing directions and maintaining its high speed — and charge fiercely towards him.
"What is this?" the squad leader shouted. This completely went against the principles of mecha control.
If Little Four had known that this move would cause the opponent to be so shocked, he would definitely be extraordinarily smug and laugh up into the skies, because this was a product of their Mandora star system — they had a saying back there which reverberated throughout the entire galaxy, and that was: When Mandora moves, who stands a chance?
Perhaps Ling Lan's control had exceeded the squad leader's expectations, unprepared, he easily let Ling Lan get close to him, and the two looked about to collide in the very next second.
Still, he was the squad leader of an ace mecha squad after all, as well as being an ace mecha member. His mental fortitude and his experience were obviously much better than the other two; his adaptive ability especially was well-seasoned.
The squad leader did not react like Ling Lan's first opponent, Kotou, who had panicked and chosen to dodge. Instead, he calmly turned off his engine thruster. Without the support of the engine thruster, the mecha began plummeting towards the ground due to its own weight.
But after it had dropped about half the body height of the mecha, the squad leader started up the engine once more. At the same time, the upper body of the mecha bent backwards, and its left hand raised a high-frequency blade high to stab at the cockpit of the Federation mecha who had already leapt to his original position.
Of course, even if he managed to hit his target, it would not inflict a fatal injury on the opponent. At most, the opponent would just be struck dizzy for a moment. Yet, that was what he was aiming for. As long as a pause appeared in the opponent's control, he would have the time to counterattack.
However, that would be the best-case scenario. It was also possible that he would not stun the other even if he managed to hit his target, which would instead let the opponent have the opportunity to attack in close range, resulting in a mutually damaging encounter.
But whichever the case, he would not be the loser. He still had a teammate behind him, so even if he and the opponent were both damaged in this encounter, his teammate would be able to eliminate the opponent.
The squad leader knew very well that in this situation right now, he could not afford to retreat. The moment he retreated, he would lose the initiative to attack and would be forced into a defensive position. With just one face-off, he could clearly tell that the opponent was a mecha expert. The opponent definitely would not let any opportunity slip by; he would definitely stick to him like an ulcer to the bone and launch a barrage of attacks on him as he dodged. When that happened, he would really be in danger. The moment he failed to avoid due to any negligence, he could very well lose his life.
The squad leader really hoped that the opponent would give up attacking and choose to evade his strike. This way, the situation would be reversed, and the one with the attack momentum would be him instead.
The situation was not as advantageous to him as he imagined — the opponent did not choose to evade, but also wasn't struck by him either. The Federation mecha raised his right hand in that brief instant and used a similar high-frequency blade to parry his attack.
An explosive "CLANG!" Two sharp blades collided violently!
Not just that, the opponent's left hand had pulled out the beam saber behind his back at some point, and after blocking with his right hand, the beam saber in his left hand swung ruthlessly at the waist of the squad leader's mecha.
If the squad leader were to be hit by this savage blow, even if his mecha was not chopped in half, the internal driver pathways would definitely be disrupted, which would cause the mecha to malfunction, perhaps even becoming immobile and useless.
The right hand of the squad leader's mecha was equipped with a beam cannon. The beam cannon was large and heavy, but very powerful. As long as it hit, its attack was capable of melting a mecha straightaway, achieving a one-hit kill effect. All this while, countless Federation mecha had been killed by beam cannons — its efficiency was extraordinary.
In terms of long-range attacks, this weapon was fearsome. However, every weapon had its weakness. The beam cannon's was for an enemy to get close. The moment the enemy got close, the heavy bulky beam cannon would become nothing more than a burden, preventing a mecha from moving nimbly, just like the predicament the squad leader was facing right now.
The squad leader was undoubtedly a decisive person. He immediately chose to discard the beam cannon. The large beam cannon dropped from the sky, crashing heavily into the dense foliage below. Without the extra weight of the beam cannon, the now nimble mecha arm rose up to meet the opponent's beam saber.
A dull "Clang" — beam saber and mecha arm collided once again. The two of them were thrown backwards. The Twilight mecha had activated the beam shield on its right arm in that instant, rendering Ling Lan's beam saber attack ineffective.
The squad leader's prompt response let him tide over this crisis safely, but the initially ready to fire Shikamaru began to falter.
While the two mecha were tangled up together, he did not dare to fire his cannon, since he might hit his own squad leader as well if he wasn't careful.
This was also one reason why Ling Lan had chosen to fight in close quarters with the squad leader. Otherwise, no matter how proficient she was at irregular flight, she would still be hit eventually by one of the two mecha's attacks. Right now, her stubborn insistence on sticking to a close-range fight had tied the hands of the other mecha, temporarily easing her crisis.
But Ling Lan knew that this was just a temporary reprieve — the opponent definitely would not let this passive situation continue. They would definitely find a chance to attack. On her end, she would need to find a way to eliminate one of the mecha before her opponents found that chance. As such, Ling Lan's choice was to start by first targeting this mecha, which was obviously the main attacker.
The two mecha jumped apart immediately upon contact. The Federation mecha's two side engines roared once more, stopping this rebound in its tracks before pushing the mecha forwards once more to hack at the opponent with its right hand. Ling Lan now had to ensure that her mecha remained within a body's length of the Twilight mecha, or else she may draw the other mecha's long-range snipe attacks.
"Baka!" The squad leader had yet to catch his breath when he saw the opponent attacking once more. He hurriedly controlled his mecha to meet the attack with his own blade, a curse spilling from his mouth.
Remember, a proportion of the reaction force when controlling mecha to fight would be fed back onto the mecha operator's body. Therefore, mecha operators had the habit of stopping for a moment to rest after taking action, before moving on to the next move. It was very easy for the body to get injured when executing consecutive moves.
In the cockpit, Ling Lan's complexion was becoming increasingly paler. The load on her body had already exceeded her limits — Little Four was even worried whether his boss would collapse in the next second. This kind of high frequency attack was really too taxing on the body.
Although the battlefield of the mecha and the hiding place of Qi Long and the others were significantly far apart, the two teams in the forest were still somewhat flustered by the intense sounds of collision and the blasts of artillery.
"Qi Long, it's too dangerous for us to stay here. Why don't we continue moving? Let's go around the battlefield to the nearest air raid shelter to hide." Wu Jiong felt that instead of waiting here blindly, they might as well take the risk and continue moving forwards. Perhaps they would stand a better chance that way.
Wu Jiong's words caused everyone's expressions to shift. Han Jijyun and the rest of Ling Lan's team looked to Qi Long, waiting for him to make the decision. When Ling Lan was not around, they would defer to Qi Long. Ling Lan's purposeful cultivation of Qi Long as the team leader had been acknowledged by everyone in the team. So, even if she wasn't there, the team would not lose direction.
After some thought, Qi Long said seriously to his team members, "I'll be staying here to wait. What do you all think?"
Including Han Jijyun, the team members were all taken aback by Qi Long's words.
"Why?" asked Han Jijyun. Qi Long must have his reasons for choosing to stay; they wanted to know the reason before making a decision.
Qi Long raised his head to look at the mecha fighting in the skies in the distance. His gaze was complicated, but he soon regained his composure and turned to face the group, saying, "Boss Lan said that he would come. I need to wait for him."
Han Jijyun and the others abruptly remembered. The situation earlier had been too precarious — the near loss of their lives at the hands of the Twilight mecha had driven this point from their minds. All of them nodded their heads to show that they wanted to wait for their boss together with Qi Long. They believed that since Boss Ling Lan had said he was coming here, then he would definitely come.
Wu Jiong cast a long look at Qi Long and his team, somewhat admiring and somewhat envious. He admired the strong bond of friendship among Ling Lan, Qi Long, and the others of their team, which held up even in the face of death, and also envied their great luck — actually having a boss who would be willing to brave lethal danger to come save them.
"Then we'll leave first." Wu Jiong turned to look at his teammates behind him, gaze lingering on the injured Chen Yu. They could not afford to wait.
Qi Long watched as Wu Jiong left with his team, until their figures disappeared. Then, he turned to say to his companions, "Let us go!"
"Where? Aren't we waiting for Boss Lan?" Luo Lang was bewildered.
"I want to see our saviour's battle up close," said Qi Long, looking to the battlefield in the distance, "Perhaps I will be able to find the answer I want. No, I don't need it ..." Qi Long's words were somewhat contradictory.
Han Jijyun was the one who understood Qi Long best. His expression shifted and he asked, "Did you notice something?"
"No, I don't know, and I don't want to know." Qi Long dodged Han Jijyun's question, directly putting on his backpack and heading off towards the mecha battlefield.
Han Jijyun was puzzled, but he did not continue to question Qi Long, merely indicating for Luo Lang and Lin Zhong-qing to follow.
Since Qi Long did not want to talk about it, then he would not ask. He believed that as long as he followed Qi Long, he would be able to find the answer.
The two mecha had been tussling for several moves. Well, it was more of Ling Lan attacking fiercely while the squad leader defended himself passively. Seeing that the situation was not looking good for his squad leader, Shikamaru finally fired.
His marksmanship was very accurate. Even though Ling Lan was fighting the other at such high speeds, she was still shot.
"The mecha's external shell received light damage. The beam's effect is minor. Initial estimations suggest that the other is using a miniature beam gun!" Little Four ran a quick scan of the mecha and reported his findings.i.e. very tenaciously