Ling Lan was not oblivious to Little Four’s little tantrum, but her attention was entirely absorbed by Little Four’s words. Those missiles had been launched in the direction of the two mechas, but the range of laser cannons were notably short, meaning that it was highly unlikely for those missiles to hit the mechas, unless …
It wasn’t that Ling Lan hadn’t considered using the laser cannons on the hover car, but the information she had obtained from Little Four regarding the laser cannons had dissuaded her. Laser cannons had both a distinct advantage and a distinct disadvantage — typically, its disadvantage could be ignored as long as its advantage was utilised to its maximum effect.
Unfortunately, Ling Lan couldn’t do that right now. The laser cannon’s advantage was its high attack power, and the likelihood of its missiles exploding upon impact. This meant that it would cause a certain amount of area-of-effect damage, having a high destructive power against its surroundings. Ling Lan didn’t dare to fire the laser cannons to help Chamberlain Ling Qin kill the assassins because she was afraid that any mistake may end up in tragedy — where she accidentally killed Ling Qin instead of the assassins.
Of course, she had also considered using the cannons to deal with the two mechas in the distance — but the disadvantage of the laser cannon was its short range. It was likely that the missiles would only fly half the distance before running out of speed and falling to the ground to explode harmlessly.
These two characteristics of the laser cannons tied Ling Lan’s hands. Though of course Ling Lan was already mentally prepared to let Little Four fire the cannons anyway if Chamberlain Ling Qin’s life was truly threatened by the assassins.
By now, Ling Lan had gotten a vague sense of what Little Four had been trying to say. She believed that Little Four wouldn’t do something pointless — since he had dared to fire the laser cannons, he must have found a way to overcome its weakness. Perhaps those two minor A.I.s he had mentioned would bring about some effect to solve the problem … If that was so, then Little Four was truly brilliant. Ling Lan’s spirits soared.
Little Four clearly sensed the change in Ling Lan’s thoughts, and although he still had his back to Ling Lan, his butt started wriggling around, as if delighted by Ling Lan’s newfound cheer.
Ling Lan noticed Little Four’s reaction, and knew that she must have guessed correctly. As such, she quickly praised, "Little Four, you’re really the best Little Four."
After spending so many years with Little Four, Ling Lan had already become familiar with all his quirks, and knew very well how much he loved praise. With just this simple phrase, she managed to make Little Four so happy that his eyes twinkled, completely forgetting that he had just been angry at Ling Lan.
Little Four pranced back to Ling Lan’s side, patting his little chest as he said confidently, "Relax, Boss, leave the two mechas to me. Hehe, there are still two shots in the laser cannons — let me immediately install this little A.I.s onto them as well. That way, even if the attack this time is avoided, we can still continue attacking."
Little Four’s words slightly reassured Ling Lan. As long as they could distract the two mechas, Chamberlain Ling Qin would have even more time to handle those assassins, greatly raising the odds of his safety.
Still, Ling Lan cautioned Little Four not to fire those last two missiles unless absolutely necessary — at times, the threat of an attack was much more valuable than an actual attack.
Ling Lan knew very well that although laser missiles had a lot of destructive power, that was only against people with basic protective gear. Against those mechas which were composed from super titanium alloys, unless the missiles hit a defensive weak point, such as the mecha’s cockpit (though the laser missiles would still not be able to breach the cockpit, its attack would shake the surroundings violently, possibly harming the pilot within it), they would be rather ineffective.
On the opponent’s side, as Ling Lan expected, mecha A and mecha B had not given up. They wasted no time in preparing to shoot down that final hover car. To their surprise however, before they could fire their own sniper rifles, the hover car had turned towards them and launched its own laser cannons in their direction.
Mecha A couldn’t hide the scorn in his voice as he mocked, "Tsk, does he really think he’ll hit us with that?"
Within the Federation, aside from greenhorns, everyone else knew the characteristics of laser cannons. Firepower was its advantage, while range was its fatal flaw. The only reasons it hadn’t been dismissed completely by the Federation was that its production cost was cheap and that it was still viable in a close-range battle, leading it to remain as one of the staple weapons of the federal military.
That said, laser cannons were only a real threat to normal soldiers. They were really ineffective against mecha operators like them — even if they were hit, besides the possibility of being pushed around a bit by the shockwave, the missiles would do nothing to them.
Mecha B thought the same as mecha A, dismissive of the harm the laser missiles could do to them. The missiles might not even hit them to begin with! Impatiently, he said, "Ignore those two junks, just focus on shooting down that hover car. We don’t have much time left." By his estimations, they only had two minutes left at most — they had no more time to waste.
"Yes!" Mecha A didn’t dare to say anything more, putting all his focus into pulling on his trigger to attack that bothersome hover car.
But he hadn’t managed to shoot that many times when he heard his mecha’s systems issuing a strong warning, "Caution! Caution! Attack detected, we have been targeted! Impact in 9, 8, 7 …"
On the screen, a lighted dot representing the attack source was closing the distance fast and looked like it was about to hit them very soon.
"F*ck!" Mecha A only had time to curse briefly, before having to move his mecha into evasion manoeuvres. At the same time, mecha B had also started busily dodging.
"Isn’t it just a laser cannon? What the hell is going on?" As mecha B dodged, the attack source drew closer, and he could clearly see from his screen that the attacks were the two laser missiles they had dismissed earlier. Of course, one of the missiles was targeting him.
Mecha A completed an almost perfect 90 degree turn, thinking that he would be able to evade the missile completely by doing so. However, he immediately found that the missile actually turned with him, causing him to shout out in alarm, "It’s following me! Goddammit, what the hell is this?!"
Did laser missiles have this tracking ability? And was their range this long? Mecha A felt his world view tilting on its axis — how could such an unbelievable thing happen?
Mecha B naturally noticed this as well. His evasion movements were even more extravagant than mecha A’s, even involving irregular flash evasion (a lower level version of freeform flash evasion). Logically, he should have been able to dodge any number of laser missiles this way. But now, no matter how he dodged, that one laser missile dogged his every move, unlike regular laser missiles which would have fallen to the ground and exploded by now.
"These are definitely not laser missiles!" The experienced mecha B concluded. "These must be modified homing missiles — make sure you don’t get hit by them, or else you’ll be dead!"
Mecha B decisively identified the missiles as homing missiles that had been modified to look like laser missiles. Despite appearances, they were sure to be the much more expensive and powerful super homing missiles which were a nightmare to low level mecha pilots.
Super homing missiles were a type of artillery which had high destructive power and was equipped with tracking ability. Its power was not something a minor laser missile could compare with — if it hit, a normal standardized mecha would most likely be smashed into a pulp, although some higher level mechas might still be able to withstand its attacks.
It had been feared by mecha pilots everywhere ever since it was first created, and was now considered one of the most troublesome artillery by mecha pilots. Another nickname it had was ‘newbie killer’.
This was because the homing missiles had very formidable tracking — once it locked onto a target, it was useless no matter how the mecha operator tried to outmanoeuvre it. Of course, this was with the exception of high level operators who could pull off highly advanced manoeuvres which utilised the operator’s surroundings, causing the missile to blow up by hitting something else. However, this skill was not something the average mecha operator could handle, and so the homing missile was considered one of the most hated weaponry among the low level mecha pilots. Many newbies often had their wings clipped because of this missile, which was how it had gained its nickname.
Thus, when mecha A and mecha B began suspecting that these missiles after them could be homing missiles, they no longer had any thought to spare about the hover cars. Now, they only had one goal — find a way to dodge these tracking missiles stuck to them.
There was no helping it — if it was before, they wouldn’t have been so concerned. This time, for the sake of hiding their identity, they had been given regular standardised mecha to operate, which were incapable of withstanding a hit from a homing missile.
On Ling Lan’s side, she watched in puzzlement as the two mechas jumped around dramatically to avoid the missiles. After all, even if the missiles hit, as long as they didn’t hit the cockpit, the effect would be negligible — why were those two mechas so flustered?
Ling Lan had no idea that Little Four’s modifications had inadvertently caused the opponent to mistake the missiles for the terrifying homing missiles, causing them to react accordingly out of caution. It should be said that the heavens were truly watching over Ling Lan, helping her to resolve her greatest threat at this crucial moment.
"Yay!" Watching how his modified missiles were forcing the two mechas to run around in circles, Little Four raised his hand up in a victory pose.
There was a hint of a smile on Ling Lan’s lips, and she was no longer as tense as before. She had become much more relaxed since the most pressing problem had been resolved. "Little Four, this time it’s all thanks to you." Ling Lan’s thanks was heartfelt — if it weren’t for Little Four, Chamberlain Ling Qin might have been in real danger. And now, Chamberlain Ling Qin had even more time to make sure he could finish off the final two opponents before him.
"Boss, why are you thanking me? Aren’t I your follower? It’s a follower’s duty to help their boss." Little Four was puzzled. Didn’t the novel he read say that it was the unquestionable duty of a follower to back up his boss in all things, no matter if it was to take the fall of a crime or just to help relieve their worries?
Additionally, he found that he loved the intensity of battle. Looking at the missiles he redesigned chase the opponent’s mechas all over the place, his mood was exceptionally well. Little Four had the vague feeling that he was born to do this — although he hadn’t been unhappy helping Ling Lan to earn money in the past few years, the present intensity here truly made his blood boil.
Right then and there, Little Four made a decision. In future, he must look for more opportunities for his boss to encounter battle. Dammit, it was just too exhilarating.