"Okay." Ye Chong replied and followed. Ye Chong was still distracted by the information he just found out. Lan Yixing noticed his usually steady apprentice’s demeanor and was quite surprised.
"What happened?" Lan Yixing may have asked calmly, but one could read the concern in his tone. In truth, Lan Yixing was satisfied with this student of his - hardworking without complaint, and diligent in his training. While his innate talent was lacking, quite a ways from Lan Yixing’s ideal student, he understood that talent was not something one could control.
If he continued training like this, his effort would make up for it. Lan Yixing believed that this student of his would succeed him and pass down his skills. As for whether he could attain Jie, that was up to faith. After all, the path towards attaining Jie depended not only on effort, but also on luck and innate talent.
"Nothing." Ye Chong replied dismissively, still occupied with his thoughts. His mind was still in a whirl. The new information had delivered a heavy blow to him. Compared to his new discovery, the MPA and Black Cove had nothing on it!
Fortunately, Ye Chong had good self control, and managed to maintain his basic rationale despite the situation.
Lan Yixing saw that Ye Chong did not wish to share his thoughts, and did not pursue further, only adding, "If you have any issues that you can’t solve alone, let me know."
Ye Chong nodded, and felt his heart warmed up. Based on Shang and Mu’s investigation, Lan Yixing had a good relationship with the local authorities, so he could actually do something for Ye Chong if needed. However, Ye Chong’s problem was one that he could not help with. Besides, if Papa was really framed and murdered, Ye Chong would take care of it himself. He was confident in his abilities to do at least that much.
Lan Yixing headed outwards without a word, and Ye Chong did not question him, the two men occupied with their own thoughts.
When Ye Chong came to, he found himself out in the open on the streets, amongst pedestrians. Ye Chong paused, startled. Heavens, how did he arrive here on the streets?
The streets was not a good place for Ye Chong at the moment. From his last encounter with Black Cove’s Cosmic Flare, he understood that Black Cove was determined to get him this time. To think that Black Cove would openly search the streets for him against their usual secretive nature. It was a real possibility for him to see Black Cove mechs on the streets at any time.
Shang’s warning had him drenched in cold sweat.
"Ye, careful, 45 degrees from the radius vector, 20 kilometers from here, there are two MPA mechs, Messengers."
Ye Chong felt his muscles tensed up. If anything went wrong, he would deploy Guardian and get the hell out of there.
However, Shang’s next warning made Ye Chong pale. "Ye, careful, 77 degrees from the radius vector, 23 kilometers from here, there are two Sanctuary mechs, Dawns."
Ye Chong nearly stumbled. Heavens, he was running out of luck today.
Shang reminded him, "Ye, relax, you’ll get noticed if you’re too nervous. They probably haven’t found you yet."
Ye Chong heaved a breath of relief at Shang’s words.
However, Shang immediately followed up urgently with words that filled Ye Chong with a sense of foreboding, "Ye, careful 35 kilometers straight head, two of Black Cove’s Cosmic Flares are coming this way."
Ye Chong was ready to deploy Han Jia now. Now that the threat was well defined, Ye Chong became calmer somehow. His face betrayed no fear or uncertainty, only his pulse quickened slightly, not out of fear, but of excitement at the imminent battle!
"Hmph, these mechs are not enough to contain me!" He thought. However, he also knew that once he engaged with these mechs, he would also be the target of the formidable backup force that came with them. As for whether the mechs from the Three Forces would take turns or work together in engaging him, that was no longer an important concern.
He knew that if he could not even handle these mechs, he would not stand a chance.
Shang suddenly spoke up, "Ye, calm down."
"What?" Ye Chong asked, but he was already relaxing inside. Even if Shang was usually a barrel of laughs, he would never joke in these situations.
Shang spoke with some uncertainty, "Ye, they are probably not working together." Then, as though he figured out something, Shang continued excitedly, "Yes, they are not working together. I say, they all seem to be on high alert. Hehe, Ye, they must have noticed each other hehe, get ready for showtime. We might be able to see a battle between the Three Forces."
A battle between the Three Forces was filled with uncertainties. None of the mech pilots would act hastily to trigger it. Their understanding of every other party’s skills and weaknesses were enough to make them wary of each other.
The command section from each of the three parties received their reports at roughly the same time, and issued the same command to retreat.
This was the first time the Three Forces encountered each other directly on Windstar.
Of the three commanding officers, the one who was most troubled was Hak. They had lost one mech without knowing who the culprit was. With two of the Cosmic Flares safely returned, he felt consoled slightly. The situation on Windstar was turning complicated quickly. Maintaining the strength of his forces was the only way to secure his power on the planet, and not be the first of the Three Forces to retreat.
Just then, the holographic news flash on his desk reported, "At 9 o’clock this morning, we will witness the opening of the largest martial arts tournament in the history of Windstar. What you’re watching now is a traditional martial art performance. This classical demonstration reminds us of the glorious days past when traditional martial art flourished …"
"Martial arts?" Hak twisted his lip in disdain. How could those flowery moves be considered as combat moves? It was his belief that Black Cove was the only true combat expert. The skills he picked up in the past at that place were enough to make anyone in the Five Galaxies envious! Perhaps, that was the only place that could give birth to real combat experts! While he was only allowed three weeks of training there, it was now difficult to find any opponents worthy of his attention. Hak felt a sudden wave of emotions - how could these people understand the true strength of Black Cove?
Looking at the performances in the holographic feed, Hak felt like he was only watching a bunch of clowns on stage, and turned off the holographic news flash out of disgust. The media only knew to exaggerate, and was not worthy of his time. He should focus on planning for the situation at hand, and not watching a bunch of clowns.
The martial arts tournament was only briefly covered in the holographic news flash, an indication of just how removed martial arts was from society. "Combat expert" was an unfamiliar term to most people, an almost archaic occupation. Compared to the annual mech pilot tournament, this was barely worth mentioning.
However, in the world of combat, the event was momentous.
Most of the older generation in the world of combat could not remember the last time such a grand tournament was held. The organizer this time was the Tian Hua dojo. Invitation was delivered not only to almost all dojos on Windstar, but also to famous combat experts on other planets. The tournament was organized with unprecedented splendor, but it still could not hide the awkward fact of the art’s decline.
Ye Chong sighed in relief as the mechs from the Three Forces retreated. Lan Yixing continued forward without stopping.
Ye Chong could only follow him and hope that they would reach their destination quickly, finish their business and return to the dojo as soon as possible. Wandering outside made him nervous. He tried to guess Lan Yixing’s intentions in bringing him outdoors, but could not make neither head nor tail of it. In the end, he gave up and settled on simply following Lan Yixing.
"Huh, is this not the way to Tian Hua dojo?"
He went there with Hua Shangmei last time, and now Ye Chong’s excellent sense of direction reminded him of the fact.
"Shang, why do you think he’s going to the Tian Hua dojo?" Ye Chong chatted with Shang, unwilling to dwell on the issue regarding Papa. This was not the time to be distracted, and Ye Chong must be prepared for any eventuality.
"Hehe, I know why, but I’m not telling!" Shang laughed cunningly, filling Ye Chong with dread.
Ye Chong kept quiet. Usually, Shang would give in to temptation and tell in the end. This time, however, Shang seemed quite determined and said nothing more, laughing devilishly all the while Ye Chong felt increasingly nervous. Nonetheless, Shang’s antic successfully distracted Ye Chong away from thoughts of his Papa.
Tian Hua dojo looked very different now. It was redecorated with vintage motives, bringing its visitors one large step back in time. A large holographic screen was affixed on top of the main entrance, showing a youth in white demonstrating a series of combat moves, his movements natural like flowing water, a harmonious blend of ying and yang, incorporating beauty and strength.
Wasn’t that Hua Shangmei? Ye Chong recognized the man in white garb instantly.
Hua Shangmei was a handsome man, and now looked even more elegant and dashing. In the holographic display were also a crowd of ladies watching Hua Shangmei with mesmerized eyes, occasionally squealing in excitement.
The students of Tian Hua dojo stood in two lines before the main entrance with discipline, all dressed in white. Hua Tiankai’s eldest student, Zheng Zhongxing stood by the door and smiled as he greeted the visiting combat experts. There was another door at the side for the audience. Anyone would enter and watch the performances and matches for free.
Ye Chong was developing a headache just by watching the large crowd. It was not that he never encountered grand events like this, but this was the worst possible moment to get involved.
Somehow, Shang’s devilish laughter seemed to suggest something else beyond that crowd. The mech only laughed, pleased with himself.