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It was extremely difficult to shoot accurately while flying at high speed. Furthermore, ace mecha operators basically all knew how to dodge using irregular flight, some even able to use irregular flicker for long periods of time. Thus, in a battle between opponents of the same level for advanced mecha operators and above, to defeat the other with pure gunfire ... this was almost impossible.

However, Ling Lan had not planned to incapacitate the opponent with just her beam rifle to begin with. She was only using it to create the impression that she was fighting for her life; in reality, she was preparing to lure the opponent to the rock mountain.

The two mecha shot at one another with the guns in their hands, neither doing damage to the other. Still, because the Twilight mecha operator's beam cannon was a more powerful weapon, Ling Lan was at a disadvantage.

In this manner, Ling Lan had no choice but to retreat as she fought, slowly drawing the opponent to the rock mountain.

18 beam shots were not much. Ling Lan had already calculated and used them sparingly, but they were gone in a blink of an eye. Though she knew very well that she had no shots left in her rifle, she pretended not to know, pressing her trigger once more as she aimed at the Twilight mecha ...

No more? Panic. The anxious Federation operator once again controlled his mecha to press down on the trigger again and again ... but there was still nothing!

Mecha operator Shikamaru saw that the Federation mecha's movements were somewhat flustered — repeatedly pressing on the trigger, but its beam rifle did not respond. He paused, thinking to himself. Could this be a trap?

Shikamaru cannot be blamed for being wary. The example of his squad leader was still fresh in his mind. Remembering how his squad leader fell for plot after plot before finally self-destructing had made him jumpy and paranoid. His first reaction to any strange situation now was to wonder whether the opponent had some plot up his sleeve.

However, when he saw the Federation mecha throw away the beam rifle in the end and turn tail to run, he knew that the other's rifle had truly run out of power.

Shikamaru's heart leapt in joy. This meant that the opponent no longer had any long-range attacks. As long as he kept his distance, long-range attacks were his domain now. He immediately controlled his mecha to chase after the fleeing Federation mecha.

Of course, Shikamaru could only give chase without worry because Ling Lan had thrown away her beam rifle. If the opponent were still holding onto his rifle, Shikamaru would definitely be on his guard and not chase so closely on the opponent's heels.

The two mecha began a game of tag — at one point, the Twilight mecha shot its beam cannon once, but the shot was dodged nimbly by the Federation mecha operator. This caused Shikamaru to curse internally. It has already been three rounds of continuous battle — why was the opponent still so focused?

"Little Four, have you finished calculating?" Ling Lan asked calmly, not at all influenced by the cascading flashing red alerts all over her screen.

"The beam cannon requires roughly 55 seconds to gather its energy, but this doesn't exclude the fact that the opponent could be faking," responded Little Four. While the opponent had been firing at them, Little Four had been constantly gathering data and analysing it. However, what he could analyse was merely what the opponent revealed. If the opponent just happened to be as cunning as his boss, then his analyses could very well all be wrong.

"How likely is that?" asked Ling Lan.

"About 15% chance," replied Little Four. After all, this data was gathered within a short period of time, so some error was to be expected. Thus, the risk of this being a plot was still quite high.

"In other words, 85% chance of winning. It would be stupid not to take the risk." A trace of a smile appeared on Ling Lan's lips. In the learning space, as long as there was more than 50% chance of winning, she would fight for it, because if you didn't, you would definitely die.

"Yup. Also, the mecha's damage levels are already at 75%. From this point on, the mecha's damage rate will double, so it may not hold out for even 2 minutes ..." reminded Little Four, looking at the horrifying damage levels of the mecha and its almost depleted power.

Ling Lan did not respond. Her fingers sped up even more, and this time, her fingers completely disappeared. Focused on the controls, Ling Lan did not notice, while Little Four did not dare to say anything about it, afraid that he would distract Ling Lan.

Ling Lan's mecha began circling the rock mountain as it flew; she was still waiting for an opportunity.

"Boom!" The Twilight mecha on her tail fired its beam cannon once more. The immense beam flew at her from a diagonal angle. Ling Lan calmly executed a small range irregular movement, dodging the attack.

Irregular movement placed a heavier burden on mecha — Ling Lan could even hear the mecha's body emitting creaking noises. The mecha was very likely to break apart soon.

However, Ling Lan paid no attention to all this. Instead, she continued by pulling off a surprising move — she turned off the mecha's engines. Then, she controlled the mecha to get into a pose where all four limbs were facing the ground, and with the limbs as landing pads, her mecha began falling towards the rock mountain below.

Ling Lan was not very high above the rock mountain to begin with, and the mecha itself was heavy, so it took less than 10 seconds for the mecha to crash into the rock mountain.

A loud "Boom"! The forceful impact caused the rock mountain to quake, throwing dust into the air, and Ling Lan's mecha was soon obscured within it.

Shikamaru had quickly halted his mecha when Ling Lan's mecha had dropped, keeping his distance. Extremely cautiously, he kept his cannon trained at the dust cloud. At any odd movement, he would dodge and shoot. Ling Lan had been wily from the start; this made Shikamaru very wary.

Of course, all this happened within the blink of an eye — Shikamaru had just gotten ready when a blue and white figure leapt out from the dust cloud, lunging at him at a frightful speed.

This speed was definitely not a speed an advanced mecha could achieve — Shikamaru's first reaction was to retreat and then he reflexively pressed down on the trigger of his cannon ... but nothing happened. He glanced at the indicator on his screen, only to find that the 55-second recharge time wasn't over yet; there were still 11 seconds remaining.

Shikamaru gritted his teeth and pushed his engines to their limits, letting the mecha retreat at full speed. He needed to get past this brief 11 seconds — as long as he could survive till then, a shot from his beam cannon would be enough to destroy this detestable Federation mecha in front of him.

The Federation mecha leaping at the Twilight mecha was currently already worn and battered. Its initially still intact left leg had also disappeared by this time; all that was left were some broken edges at its thighs. The entire outer shell of the mecha was covered in scratches, and some of its internal parts were even exposed at certain areas. That last fall had indeed caused significant damage to the mecha's body.

"The mecha can only hold out for another 50 seconds at most ..." Little Four was doing his best to maintain the condition of the mecha so that it wouldn't break apart in the very next second.

Ling Lan did not seem to hear Little Four's warning. Right then, she felt as if she was an outside observer, watching herself operate the mecha with cold eyes. Her thought processes were somewhat mechanical, accurately pushing the engines to the maximum speed the mecha could take, aiming the mecha to pounce at the opponent at almost light speed.

At this moment, the two mecha's roles in their game of tag were now reversed, and the distance between them grew increasingly closer ... One of them was anxiously waiting for his beam cannon to recharge, while the other was waiting for the final gap between them to close. She had done everything she could, now it was up to the goddess of luck to decide who she would favour.

Shikamaru watched as the Federation mecha got closer and closer. 10 metres, 5 metres, 3 metres ... a feral smile emerged on his face, "Die!"

He decisively pressed the button to fire his beam cannon. At that very moment, the cannon's power had finally finished recharging, allowing it to fire once again.

A crisp yet resounding "SNAP", and Shikamaru saw sparks bloom at his right shoulder from the corner of his eyes. Then, he realised in shock that the beam cannon on his right shoulder had not fired at all ...

"Warning! Right arm control system has been destroyed. Please repair immediately!" The A.I. mechanically reported the damage sustained by the mecha.

Shikamaru had no idea what had happened, but still understood that his mecha must have somehow been manipulated by the opponent, causing the cannon on its right arm to become useless ... cold sweat beaded on his forehead. Without thinking about it, he forced his engines to speed up even more, trying to pull away and distance himself from the opponent.

As long as he could pull away, his left hand could take over and use the weapon in his right hand. When that time came, victory would still be his.

Shikamaru's plan was beautiful, but reality was not as cooperative as he had hoped. He felt his mecha sink downwards. It turned out that the despicable Federation mecha had actually caught his mecha in a tight hug. In other words, no matter how much he accelerated, he would not be able to pull away from the Federation mecha.

This continuous series of actions caused Ling Lan's complexion to be as white as paper. Blood spilled uncontrollably from her mouth in large heaves. Still, Ling Lan tenaciously held on. She decisively pulled up the self-destruct mechanism of her mecha, and pressed down on the cockpit's eject button at the same time.

"Little Four, the rest is in your hands." These were Ling Lan's final words before she lost consciousness. Of course, this was because Ling Lan fully trusted Little Four, otherwise she would not so easily allow herself to faint away.

The moment the cockpit was ejected, control would be handed over to the A.I.. The A.I. would calculate the best reactionary force to apply for a safe landing and determine a secure landing spot. On this front, Little Four was undoubtedly even more reliable than any regular A.I..

"Leave it to me, Boss!" said Little Four solemnly. He knew very well that Ling Lan was putting her life in his hands — this was a display of Ling Lan's faith in him. At this thought, Little Four's core chip burned. This made Little Four a little worried about whether his chip would overheat and blow.

On his side camera, Shikamaru saw the ejected cockpit of the Federation mecha and immediately realised what was about to happen. He tried to get the Federation mecha still clinging to him off, but either Ling Lan had made the mecha hold on very tightly, or Shikamaru himself was too panicked — he was actually unable to find a way to get the mecha off. He was trapped.

Right then, Qi Long and the others had already made their way to a spot about 1 kilometre away from the battle. When they saw the Federation mecha crash into the rock mountain, they could not help but be anxious and despair. But then they saw the Federation mecha shoot out once more from the dust cloud, and almost leapt up in their excitement.

They also saw the Federation mecha shoot a white light from its right hand at the Twilight mecha when the two were about 3 metres apart. This move was too sudden, so subtle that the Twilight mecha did not detect it.

original phrase here literally translates to: 'prone to imagine soldiers behind every grass and tree'.
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