immediately left for Coxcomb. Han Jia was accelerated to its maximum speed, as Ye Chong demonstrated a perfect example of cut-and-run.
Luo Wei was a little stunned to see his opponent escaping, but the two shurikens were already coming towards him. Luo Wei did not panic. As the two shurikens crossed over each other, Darklight’s crescent blade drew upwards to trace a silver arc in the air, slicing the two shurikens into clean halves in one go.
Luo Wei watched as the full-skeleton mech took the opportunity to widen the distance between them. He smiled faintly and flew contentedly back to his powership.
Little Rock looked at Luo Wei with admiring eyes and spoke excitedly, "Master Luo Wei, you’re so strong! That fellow couldn’t even fight back …"
Luo Wei smiled warmly but did not reply. While the pilot in the full-skeleton mech was not particularly skillful, his deftness and adaptability were unexpected.
Han Jia returned to Coxcomb bewildered. Ye Chong came out of the pilot cabin looking very pale and uneasy. He sat heavily on the floor and heaved a long sigh of relief. It was only then that he realized his back was wet from sweating, and the horrifying chill that came with it.
Ye Chong had escaped from death in the truest sense. He still could not calm himself down. Even though he had struggled to survive many times in the past, he had never come close to what had happened today, nearly defenseless against the situation.
"Ye Chong, you did well!" Shang’s words sounded like sarcasm, and Ye Chong could not help but roll his eyes.
However, Shang continued evenly, "Ye, you really did well this time. I didn’t know he was actually a Darklight mech pilot, or I would have stopped you from going. From your battle against Thorn yesterday, I believed that you are on the same level as Thorn now. There is a huge gap between Thorn and Darklight mech pilots. Darklight mech pilots could almost certainly kill their enemies, and you had managed to escape from one, and that really surprised me, especially those last few moves. Hehe, however, I’ve also come up with a wonderful idea!" Shang’s final words brought another chill to Ye Chong.
Even so, Ye Chong knew that he was safe just now. When he was flying back towards Coxcomb, Shang had been at the opened hatch, holding onto Recursion and aiming towards him. If he was really in trouble, Shang would make his move.
"Darklight mech pilots, in actual fact, Ye, are not very strong in Black Cove. There are many more stronger combatants above them. The MPA and the Sanctuary do not lack capable mech pilots, but I’m not so sure about the Freedom Alliance." Shang suddenly paused for a moment before continuing, "Besides, Ye, these mech pilots are not good enough to be in the top rankings. That is another level, fit for the best of mech pilots." Shang spoke almost melancholically.
Ye Chong listened closely, entranced by Shang’s every word.
"Ye, you still have a long way to go, if you want to truly be the master of your destiny." Shang spoke those words with the demeanor of the wise, a strange sensation for Ye Chong. "Ye, you chose close range combat, and this is quite the opposite from me and Mu. Mu and I are good at shooting, that’s why we didn’t extend much guidance for you while you train. Fortunately, you learn quickly, and can reach your current level by learning and thinking on your own, and gaining experience in actual combat. I must say, Ye, you’re a genius in this! Now, since you have chosen to specialize in close range combat, then you must only rely on yourself to improve further." Shang spoke seriously.
"Mu’s summaries are always so dull," Shang said with some disdain, and Ye Chong could not help being a little frustrated with him.
"Hehe, Ye, I’ve come up with a wonderful idea." Shang sounded almost wicked, and Ye Chong felt a sense of foreboding.
"Ye, since we don’t have a systematic way of learning, we could only rely on accumulating experience through actual combat, and slowly analyzing them, yes?" Shang lectured patiently.
Ye Chong nodded. Shang was right. Most of what he learned was from actual combat, and real battles were actually very helpful to improve one’s strength.
"Hehe, Ye, compared to average opponents, isn’t it more helpful if your opponent is strong?" Shang continued.
Ye Chong nodded. Shang was right in this too. Fighting against a strong opponent would not only allow him to realize where he was lacking, but also provide a model for him to learn from. Most of Ye Chong’s techniques were "borrowed" in this way.
Shang grew excited. "Heh, that’s right! Ye, think about it, isn’t that a strong opponent on that powership?"
Ye Chong started.
"Ye, look, what a good training partner. The man’s a Darklight mech pilot, definitely a superior training partner! Besides, we don’t have to spend a single zuan, and he’s brought his own energy cells. Hehe, Ye, where in the universe can you find such a good deal?! We have to make use of this opportunity, it’d be a such a pity to waste it. Hehe, isn’t his intention to follow us? Then let’s make the most of him!" Shang was now talking like an unscrupulous trader.
Ye Chong was hooked by Shang’s idea. If he really had such a training partner, then he would be able to learn so much more. In any case, he would definitely be able to improve himself. After that close call earlier, Ye Chong wanted more than ever to make himself stronger. The vulnerable feeling of losing control of his destiny when facing Luo Wei was horrible.
Ye Chong pondered on the idea. "Shang, your idea has a little problem. That guy can be a good assassin, but as a training partner, he won’t be so obedient." While he really wanted to fight against such a strong opponent, he recalled how powerful that man had been, and how close he was to death. Ye Chong may want to improve himself, but he was not so stubborn as to disregard his own safety. He cannot imagine how the other party would agree to become a training partner.
Shang laughed and said, "Ye, don’t worry, whenever you go to fight him, I’ll be at the hatch. If you’re in danger I’ll shoot the guy, force him back, then he’ll not be able to harm you. Hehe, I’ll threaten him but keep him unharmed. After all, he’s your training partner!"
Ye Chong recalled then that Shang was also capable himself, even if he never seemed to act like one.
"Sounds like a good plan." Ye Chong pondered longer, and thought of something else. "What if he refuses to come out?"
Shang replied with a sinister tone, "If he won’t come out at all, then you’ll go to his powership. If he chases us, we’ll speed up with warp jumps, hehe. Even if he can calculate where we would emerge, I can still make two continuous short distance warp jumps, then they’ll not be able to find us, plus we’ll lose our tail. However, if someone on that powership can calculate our first position, then he must have thought of this as well. If your training partner still refuses to come out, then you can start dismantling his powership, hehe, see if he’ll yield."
Ye Chong stared at Shang for a long moment before gasping, "Shang, you’re ruthless!" Shang’s idea was really cunning. Ye Chong turned it over and over in his mind, and could not think of a reason to reject it.
Shang laughed sinisterly, "Hehehe …"
Poor Luo Wei. He had now unwillingly become a superior training partner.
Ye Chong worked hard studying Shang’s holographic recording. He analysed the opponent’s every move, even replicating Luo Wei’s two crescent blades in the metal laboratory. He repeated Luo Wei’s moves again and again, hoping to find a way to counter them.
What struck Ye Chong the most was Luo Wei’s first attack. The silver glimmer that he saw did not look particularly threatening, but the power that came with it was surprising. It was then that Han Jia suddenly lost control, leading to his narrow escape from death. For Ye Chong, holographic recordings of combat between powerful opponents were very valuable for study. He was at least vaguely familiar with Black Cove’s close range battle style from his short time at Black Cove, so battle recordings of Black Cove mech pilots were particularly valuable to him.
The MPA excelled in long range combat, hence they were not so useful to Ye Chong. The Sanctuary’s strange ways were even harder to understand, it being the most mysterious of the Three Forces. As for the Freedom Alliance, until now, Ye Chong had never seen any of them in actual combat, so he could make no reasonable conclusions about them.
Nonetheless, they must have their own merits, or the Three Forces would not even deign to notice them. It seemed that until now, the Three Forces were careful against this new arrival, the Freedom Alliance. It was thus apparent that they were a force to be reckoned with.
Ye Chong frowned in thought as he watched the holographic recording. He had only fought briefly against the Darklight mech pilot, but this short recording had taken him much effort and time to absorb and understand. In the end, however, he finally found the key.
He did not know what Black Cove called this move, so Ye Chong called it the Z-shaped draw-strike. This move traced the outline of a reverse Z, and could triple the attack power compared to a normal strike. No wonder he lost control. When Ye Chong could finally execute the move himself, he was already deeply impressed of its creator. He would never have imagined such a clever way of drawing energy into the muscles before striking.
He even tried executing the move with his bare hands. With his muscles and the Lan family’s energy control techniques, Ye Chong’s punch was packed with deadly power.
Even so, there were still many things in the short holographic recording that he could not understand. However, he can take it slowly. After all, didn’t he have a superior training partner now? The thought of Shang’s weird expression could not help but make him smile.
Han Jia and Shang stood side by side at the hatch’s opening. Shang waved with Recursion in his hand, and affected a valiant tone, "Ye, go, you have nothing to worry!"
Ye Chong was now regulating his breathing. He must forget that Shang was protecting him, so that he could enter the right combat mode quickly.
Calm with a little excitement - that was what Ye Chong thought of as the perfect mental state to be in for combat. As he regulated his thoughts, he could feel something warm flowing within him, the mental state born of a mixture of calmness and excitement.
Han Jia’s flew swiftly towards the powership that stuck like a barnacle to Coxcomb at the back.
As Shang expected, the Darklight mech came to welcome Han Jia.
Ye Chong charged without fear. He chose to be proactive this time. Luo Wei was surprised, but his eyes were calm as he countered steadily.
Ye Chong’s first attack was with the Z-shaped draw-strike.
Luo Wei was even more surprised now, but he did not receive the blow head on. Instead, he twisted oddly like a black snake and shook off Ye Chong’s Z-shaped draw-strike attack. Then, he drew his two crescent blades and aimed for Ye Chong.
Ye Chong was confounded. The difference in their strengths was too great, and he was quickly out of his depth.
Luo Wei’s eyes gleamed. He must not let go of this guy this time. He could almost be certain now that this full-skeleton mech was the one that fought against Thorn.
Just when he was about to deliver the fatal blow, Luo Wei suddenly had a strong feeling of being locked on. Black Cove and the MPA shared a deep hostility between them, and among the Three Forces, the battles between Black Cove and the MPA were the most frequent. This made Black Cove mech pilots more sensitive than usual to the feeling of being locked on. He abruptly recalled that the starship still had a White Hunter. Luo Wei felt cold sweat beginning to form on his forehead. He abandoned his plan and turned back, executing all sorts of evasive moves.
This was the best he could manage, and perhaps his best was not enough.
Curiously, however, the blue beam that he was wary of never appeared. As he flew back into his powership, he saw an opened hatch on the opponent’s starship, where a semi-concealed blue-white mech was holding Recursion, looking coldly at him.