Everybody assembled on the training ground. Qiu Si surveyed the bunch of youngsters in front of him emotionlessly. They had indeed demonstrated their grit in taking grueling training. Their futures were bright and unlimited, but for now his role was to pile on the rigor and subject them to all kinds of mental and physical stress.
"You have all developed some familiarity with the mecha. We will now test the fruits of your training. One thousand-meter race, while defending against interference."
The terrain in front of them had been constructed full of sand pits. Within the thousand meters, snipers had been positioned on the left and right. They had to break through under the two marksmen's interference.
In Qiu Si's words, this training was a breeze. In the actual battlefield, no one would tell you that there were two snipers.
The two training venues began at the same time - this was also a contest. Whether by design or coincidence, Carl was matched up against Masasi. Under such circumstances, team members were definitely pleasantly surprised and would work harder.
This was a test of mecha maneuverability and reaction time. Each sniper would only fire once. A hit meant failure.
Masasi and Carl were both skilled. Their Bata Type Vs growled loudly and burst forward in the same beat as the starting gun. The desert training was treacherous with uneven ground. At the same time that one was accelerating, one had to be careful of one's footing, all while reserving some spare power.
Both mech warriors were advancing at a rapid pace when a gunshot rang out.
Both instinctively engaged in evasive maneuvers. However, it was but one gunshot meant for one target. This was also a test of judgment.
Whoever had ducked meaninglessly had squandered their opportunity to further the lead.
But not many people could judge that accurately, and Masasi and Carl both did well, dodging the sniper fire and arriving at their goal.
Masasi, 4 minutes 20 seconds.
Carl, 4 minutes 35 seconds.
Both were equally skilled, but when the sniper had attacked Carl, Masasi had made the correct call not to dodge and had pulled away with the lead.
This was a demonstration of judgmental skill! Not luck. If he had made the wrong choice, he would definitely have gotten hit and disqualified.
Masasi and Carl had effectively been guinea pigs for the rest.
To the students, they were unafraid of face-to-face battles, but to fall to a cold gun was an unsatisfying end.
But like it or not, they had to adapt to it. The previous position of the snipers was not relevant. Within the range, they could fire at any time.
Everyone went up one after the other. On the whole, the Moon's competitors performed the best, with the Eight Stars' timings all slightly above 4 minutes. They boasted consistently higher averages, while other average people clocked in at 5 minutes and above. There were some close moments with the sniper fire, but basically everyone had made it through. No one had received a direct hit, and this was expected. After having been preemptively warned of snipers, to take a hit meant one might as well pack up and head home.
Raston's time was average, at 4 minutes and 5 seconds. In light of his previous eligibility as a leader, this time was slightly poorer than expected. Speed contests were not his strong point. However, his performance throughout was stable, and his decision-making had been on-point.
Taros flexed his speed abilities and was the first to break the four minute mark, clocking in at a dominating 3 minutes 40 seconds. The Bata Type V mech was like a ghost in the wind under his steering. Even under the sunlight, it moved with a ghastly manner. When dodging the attack, he was sure and composed, clearing it without problems.
Like it or not, this was Taros' forte.
After Taros crossed the finish line, he received quite a few cheers. In the military, ability spoke louder than pretty words.
Lear and Wang Zheng had been put to the back. Evidently, the leadership contest was reserved for last.
It was Achilles' turn. Everyone watched with anticipation. He had led the pack all the while. Although he had to shoulder the responsibility of the brawl, it did not stop him from displaying his strength and character.
One had to ride it to know if it was a mule or horse after all. They wanted to see what was so special about the Sun God.
The contest had started!
The Bata Type V's engine roared. Competing against him was Lin Ruofeng, who clearly felt the pressure. He snuck a glance at Achilles beside him, who stood still as a mountain.
On the starting gun, Lin Ruofeng aggressively moved, the Bata leaping forward like the wind. His take-off speed was fast!
But in that instant, the Bata mech beside him was already gone with the wind. Achilles had left him in the dust.
What unbelievable speed!
Achilles' Bata Type V mech was advancing at a blistering pace when the gunshots rang out together.
… Both gunshots had been aimed at Achilles. This guy was just too dangerous.
Under normal circumstances, each person was allocated one shot. If one judged that way, Achilles would be finished. This would rock the boat drastically and cause him to lose face no matter the reason.
But the Bata Type V made no move to evade. As if time had frozen, the mech unbelievably put on a burst of speed, leaping forward and evading both shots. It roared forward, the desert terrain not even hindering Achilles' movements in the slightest.
As though running over flat ground, he cleared the course at 2 minutes 59 seconds. Right as he crossed the finish line, Achilles had already taken his hands off the controls, timing it perfectly.
Behind him, Lin Ruofeng was laboriously moving forward. His pace had been thrown off horribly by Achilles. Against someone of similar ability, he could pace himself thus, but against Achilles, to attempt to follow his pace only meant trouble.
Lin Ruofeng was almost hit by sniper fire as well and finally finished at 4 minutes 50 seconds, clearly below his usual standard.
Everyone's jaw had dropped. What kind of monster was this???
Would they really have to go up against such a person?
The Moon people did not cheer, they had smug smiles on their faces. This was Achilles, the Moon people's leader. Without such absolute power, how else could one stand as the leader of these choosy Moon people?
Achilles' time on such a terrain was already heaven-defying. The little adjustment of the snipers had been noted by everyone, but to a pro, an additional shot meant nothing.
As Achilles returned to the group, many of them looked upon him with newfound respect. At first, they thought that Achilles was beatable, but now they saw it was but wishful thinking.
Lear and Wang Zheng had to demonstrate some skills, or they would risk their leadership being in name only. In IG qualifications, a leader would never resign themselves to fate. One had to possess sufficient power to earn the respect of the members, or else they would run a disparate team with subpar results.
Lie Xin was up. Achilles had applied enormous pressure on everybody, but Lie Xin was unconcerned. In terms of individual ability, Achilles was stronger than she was. This had long been established in Academy X.
Lie Xin finished at 3 minutes 15 seconds, faster than Taros, and establishing her own ability. Her own advancement speed was just behind Achilles', and she did not mind. The Lie family's most terrifying skills were not on the race track.
Because of the fight, the two designated leaders had been punished. However, in this qualification, a simple contest would reveal all. If either Lear or Wang Zheng could not produce results, it would be a joke, and they would not be able to live up to the mantle of leader. It would be a meaningless title.
In the end, the military would not let those who lacked ability lead a team in IG. That would be tantamount to suicide.
"Next round, Zhang Shan, Luo Fei!"
Fatty Luo Fei gave a cheeky grin as he climbed into the mech. Everybody hated him. Taunts were tolerated, but to be able to provoke Atos into brooding silence was a whole new level of provocation.
Lear merely looked at Luo Fei and nodded.
It was time for Luo Fei to demonstrate his true strength.
Zhang Shan knew that the contest was about to begin. It was just a fatty. It was time to show this bunch of louts the fruits of his summer holiday training.
Both mecha readied themselves. Because many were reeling from Achilles and Lie Xin's strong performances, the level of anticipation for these two was not high. Many were already speculating about Lear's strength and whether Wang Zheng was qualified to pose like he did.
A weakling who took up the spot of probationary leader would be grilled on the rack. No one wished for this to happen to themselves.
Everyone was observing Wang Zheng as well. On the surface he did seem to play the part and was calm.
Once a veteran showed their hand, everyone would immediately recognize their skill. However wretched Fatty was, if he was capable, it was a different matter entirely.
Both mecha leapt forward wildly at an astonishing speed. Fatty took the lead in an instant. By their pace, they were both of high caliber. Fatty, especially, controlled his mech with decisive fury and was clearly at ease in anticipation of the snipers' fire.
Everyone was a little taken aback by their speed. From the first phase scores, these two had poor foundations, but they seemed like completely different people here.
Wang Zheng and Lear were both clear that Ability X users' capabilities definitely outstripped normal people. Some people were born to be warriors, just in different fashions.
Zhang Shan and Luo Fei were definitely polar opposites. One was brash and extroverted, the other wily and reserved. But in this competition, both brought their full strength to bear.
Neither sniper had fired. This, in fact, gave both racers pressure, as they did not dare to go all out.
The onlookers checked the time. Not yet 4 minutes. This speed was bewildering. It was expected for Luo Fei to keep a few tricks up his sleeve, but when did Zhang Shan become so strong as well?
They were almost at the finish line when the snipers made their move, the shots cracking out in the air.
Luo Fei seemed to be unaffected, keeping his mech at the original pace… The attack had missed!
Damn, what kind of lousy shot was this, to miss such a target???
Luo Fei's speed had not changed and he had made no movement, which meant it had been the sniper's error.
But Achilles and the rest had a glint in their eyes. This was the reason why Atos had unknowingly been baited.
"This fatty has the ability to stealth," Milo said with interest.
For the sniper to target him, the sniper needed to focus all his concentration to lock in on the target. But the target itself was prone to misperception. You thought you had aimed accurately, but a slight error for a sniper meant a huge miss.
Zhang Shan was not the type to back down either. With a huge bellow, he rushed forward, forcing an increase in pace and dodging the first shot. But the second sniper now fired. For them to be assigned as snipers and miss both shots would be too embarrassing.