"I just found out too. Listen, a few of my friends and I wanted to attend your concert, but the tickets are all sold out. Any chance of getting us in?" Wang Zheng said.
"Small matter. My older cousin already asked me to run some errands too." Over the Skylink, Huiyin's voice was clearly excited. It looked like the little wench was overjoyed to be out and playing.
"We have quite a few, about..." Wang Zheng calculated. There was Xiao Fei too, and if Raston wanted to go, Xie Yating could not be left out either, or Raston would be resented to no end.
Don't worry. It seats 10. If you need more, I'll just vacate more for you," Lin Huiyin interrupted.
Life was life. Some people had it unbelievably hard, and for others, it was a bed of roses.
Over the Skylink came the voices of workers. Lin Huiyin said in a hushed voice, "I've got to go. Don't forget to come!"
Lie Guang and Raston looked over at Wang Zheng. Was he for real?
If something could not be done for Lie Guang on Martian territory, then it was probably unfeasible. Of course, Lie Guang was not really a spoiled playboy and would not make a scene over such a matter.
Wang Zheng hung up. "We're in luck. There's a place that seats 10."
Raston and Lie Guang stared at each other. Raston coughed dryly. "Er, really?"
"Probably not mistaken. My friend is rather dependable," he said with a meaningful glance at Lie Guang.
He too preferred to keep things cool. He disdained those who held themselves with an air of superiority, like Achilles and Li Er.
Raston patted Lie Guang. "Do you see that? That's called more than meets the eye."
"Ha! Didn't I say so earlier? My sister always mentions you, she must want to climb onto you," Lie Guang said.
Wang Zheng and Raston knew better. He always bragged too much.
"Try saying that to Lie Xin's face."
"Keke, cut it out. I still want to live for a few more years at least," Wang Zheng quickly objected.
The three laughed lightheartedly.
How could Lie Guang have thought of Wang Zheng as a pretty boy? Raston admired him. If he still held his nose high in the face of such a stellar performance in the IG preliminary qualifiers, then he really was a fool.
Of course, Lie Guang did not regard Wang Zheng competitively as a threat. No matter how you looked at it, no matter what IG was, the commoners could at most participate. They could not afford to play around. Especially him as his heart was not in the game. Because he could see through it, he lacked the motivation. People changed with the times. His previous loss was simply a matter of course - he too genuinely felt that he should do something about it.
Becoming mature was a game of the inner self.
Things would sort themselves out when the conditions were right. At least he had already done all the things he wanted to do.
"Actually, I quite envy you. While we're slogging our guts out, you're wantonly enjoying life. Your casual daily activities are exciting to me," Raston joked.
"Hey, Wang Zheng, did you see that? Don't be fooled by the studious, upright appearance of this one. He's got all kinds of sick hobbies," Lie Guang immediately countered.
Although he was not particularly familiar with Wang Zheng, neither of them regarded him as an outsider.
"We're here. This is one of the Lie family's villas in Jippu. It's a bit old and small, but passable."
The door of the magnetic car opened. Wang Zheng felt like snorting. Good Lord, this was what they called small?
Raston could not resist. "Sometimes I just want to find a needle and thread and sew your mouth shut. Wang Zheng, no need to stand on ceremony with him. We're here to plunder everything he has."
"Raston, it's not wise to bully my brother in front of me." Lie Xin's voice wafted out.
In IG, they got used to Lie Xin's formidability, but here they saw her in lazy get-up. Her slender legs, pert behind, that bursting pair of breasts... Her entire body was brimming with the sexiness of youth.
"What's with your sexy attire, Lie Xin? Are you trying to seduce us?" Raston said.
"That depends on if you're even worth it." Lie Xin's eyelashes batted. She was stunning, but definitely the rose-with-thorns type. Poisonous thorns at that.
"Wang Zheng... needs no introduction, I guess."
Lie Xin sized him up. "Wang Zheng, how about a deal? You get Zhang Runan to hang with me and you get to name your condition."
Wang Zheng tapped his nose contemplatively. What did she take him for, a human trafficker? "In this matter I'm powerless, but that isn't to say there isn't a way."
"You could come to the Ares College, I think Sister Nan would consent to be friends."
Raston and Lie Guang burst into a fit of cackling. She regarded Wang Zheng as a friend, but their laughter soured the joke.
Lie Xin stared at Wang Zheng. "I'll let you off easy because you're a guest."
Raston found it curious. Logically, Wang Zheng should be a commoner, even if his abilities were respectable. Yet he was unperturbed in that situation, which was noteworthy.
"Don't say that, Lie Xin. I was just denouncing Lie Guang. This wretch said he would invite us to watch a concert, but he dropped the ball. Luckily, Wang Zheng settled the matter. Are you coming? 10 seats is way more than enough."
Wang Zheng felt puzzled. During the IG training, Raston had always been a stickler for the rules. Perhaps he was being oversensitive recently, but even if Raston's eyes gave nothing away, he seemed somehow entranced by Lie Xin.
Could it be that he liked Lie Xin?
There were many kinds of guys. Lie Guang was the extroverted kind, Wang Zheng was the melancholy kind, and Raston could only be classified as the no-personality type.
Generally, girls loved Lin Huiyin, but Lie Xin was an exception. "I don't understand why everyone loves that wench. Only her latest songs show the slight hint of promise."
"Sis, you have to get with the times. Don't always be thinking of conquering the world, you have to relax at times too."
Lie Guang would really mock anybody.
Lie Xin glared at Lie Guang and made a 'please' gesture. Ordinary people would not even dare to step into the Lie family's house.
The moment the host and guests were seated, waiting women brought out fragrant tea leaves. The Lie family clearly had an excellent history for such habits to be ingrained since birth.
"Wang Zheng, I hear the second phase is about to begin. Everyone is busy with special training in anticipation of taking some wind out of the Ares college students' sails. Are you prepared?" Lie Xin asked.
Lie Xin still seemed like a girl and she possessed limitless charm. It was said that the Lie girls were all like her, ordinary males could not hope to attract then.
Wang Zheng savoured Mars' famous Fire Chrysanthemum Tea. The flavor was indeed special, and the tea contained a thread of fire essence. It was subtle. Perhaps only one possessing an affinity with such power, like Wang Zheng, would discover its presence. Although it had no particular use, it could probably condition the body with enough accumulation.
"I've completed training. The school recently acquired four new mecha, and it never hurts to be prepared."
As Wang Zheng finished speaking, the other three were stunned.
"Why are you all looking at me like that?"
They looked at each other in dismay. Raston agitatedly asked, "Is Ares College that poor? Other colleges normally prepare tens of mech, and I fear such extravagance is common."
Wang Zheng smiled mildly. "Mecha are but machines. It's the wielder that matters. As long as the basic template is there, it will be enough. The rest is up to ability."
Wang Zheng's words were spoken mildly, but they belied the depth of his aggressiveness. He faced Raston and the rest full of confidence.
"Oh, then we're really looking forward to this!" Lie Xin said.
After the brilliant spectacle in the first phase, Ares College was receiving more attention. Everyone spared no effort in the preparation for the second phase, whether it was the Lie family, or the Moon, or anywhere else. It was originally thought that Earth would treat it more seriously…
"Let's not mention that anymore. It's not easy to come to Mars. Have you prepared an itinerary? Wang Zheng and I are both very interested in the Sage Sect."
For one to come to Mars and not visit the Sage Sect was the biggest singular regret a person could have.
The Sage Sect held great meaning for the Solar System, much like how Atlantis held great meaning for the entirety of mankind. Both were living legends.
"Keke, it's all up to your destiny now," Lie Guang said.
At Ares College, although Wang Zheng wasn't there, Zhang Shan, Meng Tian, and Zhang Runan had been put through training that was even more gruelling and specialised. Especially Zhang Shan - that last minute performance in the third stage actually did not count for much. No matter how good one's spatial control was, military might was needed for support. The second phase decided victory and defeat. Having changed systems, Zhang Shan had no other option.
Zhuo Mu had become even stricter in his regimen. Power and endurance training in the morning, mech training in the afternoon. He had also begun on battle tactics.
The Demon Wolf Type V was piloted by Zhuo Mu. He acted as everybody's opponent. Back in the day, he was a figure who shook the scene. Although he was no longer in his prime, his experience remained, which was something Zhuo Mu wanted to teach to the students.
Zhang Shan's Beast Type III was flung backwards. He discretely adjusted his position and was about to resume charging when Zhuo Mu's voice rang out.
If the shields had been depleted by 10 percent or more, persisting would lead to sustained damage.
Zhang Shan was raring to go, but stopped nonetheless. In his mind, the memory of battle was fresh. It felt unbearably invigorating.
Although he had been eating Zhuo Mu's dust, the feeling of battle was an addictive drug.
"Not bad. You're starting to get used to maneuvering the beast series mech, but your fighting actions are still too obvious. They will be easily predicted. Think more carefully on how you are going to conceal your intentions..."
"I understand. Thank you, Instructor."
Zhang Shan wistfully relinquished control of the Beast Type III to Luomu to replenish the shields, maintain and check the parts, and assess the damages sustained.
"Meng Tian, you're up."
In battle, Meng Tian used the Hunter Type III that specialised in long range attacks. In this practice field, she could not bring her forte to bear, but the conditions of a battle field were fickle. Even sniper mecha inevitably had to fight in close range.
Zhuo Mu's Demon Wolf Type V leaped forward immediately. Although he had retired and was aged, he was experienced and competitive. Against Zhang Shan, it was a battle of one's movement. But against Meng Tian, he charged straight forward to quickly engage in close range battle.
Meng Tian's response was calm. She backed up systematically, drawing as much distance as he could. At the same time, she used her laser rifle to suppress the Demon Wolf Type V movement and repress its advance, watching for her opportunity to counterattack.
"The pattern's off."
However, Zhang Runan shook her head. Although she was relatively inexperienced, she had a keen innate sense for battle. Zhuo Mu's actions were clearly baiting her. The Demon Wolf Type V should be capable of a higher speed.
BANG… Zhuo Mu seized his chance. He faked a retreat, then doubled back with a burst of speed to jump into his effective range. BANG. The Demon Wolf's dagger edge sliced deep into the Hunter Type III's energy shield. Yet the Demon Wolf was clearly holding back. It cut exactly 10 percent of the shield's energy, then Zhuo Mu flipped backwards to disengage.