Zhang Shan's move had pushed himself to the limit. His forced movement had reduced his speed, and although he drew ahead for a moment, Fatty soon overtook him. The hurdle of sniper fire had been crossed, and he needed but to reserve a little energy for contingencies.
The sniper took aim at Zhang Shan's position. They must've really been taking the snipers lightly if they thought such a maneuver could avoid the attack.
This shot was a sure hit!
Besides the sniper, the onlookers had picked up on this as well. Rash action without consideration for the next step was a death sentence.
Zhang Shan was about to become the first failure.
Lie Xin's gaze flicked over to Wang Zheng. This way why she had been adamant about leaving Zhang Shan behind. Conceited and brash and without much competence. To die alone was no loss, but in a pinch, such a person could drag the whole team down to their deaths.
At this time, a scene unfolded that left everybody stunned.
The shot… had missed!
Everybody felt like their eyes were deceiving them. They rubbed their eyes. Zhang Shan's mech was still flying forward, having overtaken Luo Fei.
3 minutes 51 seconds.
Everyone's mouths were agape. This was Ares College's Mountain Maiden?
Damn, everything was rapidly devolving now.
"Hey, did my eyes play tricks? It seemed like his mech moved forward in an instant."
"You saw it too? Damn, I thought I saw wrongly."
"My goodness, for real? Displacement?"
The others looked towards Achilles and his followers, full of suspicion. Achilles, too, was reeling. To think that such an Ability X user would materialize on Earth.
"Interesting. Displacement Ability X, and to be able to move the mech as well. Somebody worth reckoning with has appeared on Earth."
Achilles' calm features were uncharacteristically creased with a bemused smile.
The entire crowd broke out into discussion. Even Qiu Si immediately took notice. Displacement ability was definitely a first-class Ability X. Due to this ability alone, he could have been assigned special grooming by the military.
Zhang Shan rushed past the point with a jaunty wave. Ha! That would show them. This was the true power of Brother Shan.
Now no one would dare to call him 'Mountain Maiden'.
"That was cool, Mountain Maiden!"
Yuan Ye and the rest cheered from afar, gesturing enthusiastically.
No wonder Zhang Shan had been so cocky. His ability was so cool!
Luo Fei's timing of 3 minutes and 54 seconds was also an excellent result, but it could only play second fiddle to Zhang Shan's Displacement. Regardless, Fatty was still all smiles.
"Damn me, this ability is too awesome. The future poster boy of the military!" Fatty said enviously.
Zhang Shan laughed loudly. "Fatty, you can consider supporting us. Of course, it depends on Wang Zheng's approval."
"Looks like Friend Wang Zheng isn't as weak as we thought." Raston laughed. His temperament was similar to Wang Zheng's. Even though they were not in the same camp, he did not wish to become enemies.
"A tad unexpected. Displacement does expend a lot of energy."
"I'm starting to regret not coming to IG earlier. There are so many interesting people here, although that fatty is the most dangerous snake." Lie Guang gestured.
"This is just the beginning. Testing one's basics and battling are totally different. This is looking good too, and it seems like Wang Zheng is hungry for it as well."
Lie Xin stared at Wang Zheng. A pretty boy like you taking the lead? Prove yourself first!
The second phase was indeed the domain of Ability X users, but Dark Horse Zhang Shan had shocked everyone!
Many abilities had their own limitations. For example, Stocker's underwater breathing ability was useless in certain environments, but Zhang Shan's had a high usability and was cool to boot.
Suddenly, many people realized that Ares College was a force to be reckoned with after all.
The next race between Meng Tian and Zhang Runan saw an average performance. This type of race was not their forte, and they both clocked in at 4 minutes.
Nobody could be good at everything unless you were Achilles or Lie Xin.
The highlight was about to start. It was time for Wang Zheng and Lear to race.
These two untested leaders now had to prove themselves.
Even if they could not beat Achilles' timing, they could not be too far off either.
As they were climbing into their mecha, Lear suddenly said, "Wang Zheng, actually, I've treated you as a worthy opponent from the start."
Wang Zheng smiled but did not reply. Sometimes actions spoke louder than words. During the first phase, Wang Zheng had not spared much thought regarding the leader positions. He just wanted to go to Aslan and also pit himself against all kinds of strong opponents, although things were not playing out exactly as he envisioned.
To them, IG was a battlefield. You either improved or were left behind. Rather than leave one's fate up to others, why not take control of one's own destiny? This leader role… he was interested in it!
"Come on, Wang Zheng! Clean 'im up!" Zhang Shan shouted without care, unheeding of what others thought of him.
Meng Tian and Zhang Runan exchanged glances. Nobody actually knew Wang Zheng's true capabilities. Whenever something cropped up, he settled it without too much difficulty. The incident with the quicksand had been the only time he had shown his true strength. To be perfectly honest, the sight had blown them away.
But how were his basics?
The two Bata Type Vs readied themselves.
The starting gun roared!
Wang Zheng and Lear's Bata Type V mecha burst forth together, bearing down the course like a hurricane. Their speed bewildered the eye. Their unstoppable rush was equal to Achilles' speed.
It had been a while since they had graduated from Academy X. In these three days, Lear had always been unwilling to clash head on, due to his preference to stay low-profile. As a result, Achilles and Lie Xin had been lulled into a false sense of security.
But this was the time to assert his dominance. Perennially keeping his head down was stifling, and that was not Lear's intention.
What he did not expect was that Wang Zheng would actually keep up with his pace!
Both mecha stormed down the lane at a frightening pace. Even the snipers were aghast. What manner of monsters were these?
But after blanking out for a few seconds, they recovered and locked onto their targets, waiting for their chance. Against opponents of this caliber, they had to attack consecutively.
Lear knew that Wang Zheng had grit. He had sensed it in him at the networking event. Although it was subdued then, he felt it in full force now.
Lear's Bata Type V mecha creaked, straining from the torque. The mecha was already rushing forward at full power, but its speed continued to increase… It seemed as though it would approach its speed limit soon.
It was about to break Achilles' speed record!
Suddenly in a flash, Lear glimpsed a shadow dart in front of him. Wang Zheng was actually ahead of him!
In this instant, the snipers' guns roared out, firing at both of them simultaneously. When one's speed was at a maximum, that was also the time when it was hardest to evade.
But the two youths had more in store.
As though they were reflections, both made a quick stutter step. With a minimal toll on their speed, they both evaded the sniper fire. At their terrifying speeds, the slightest mistake would have tripped them, a testament to their flawless speed control.
They were really playing with fire!
But both bullets thudded into the sand with a puff of black smoke, while the two mecha whistled past without heed, as though the shots were not even a concern. Their states of mind were undisturbed and their movements were unaffected.
Both mecha arrived at the end point neck and neck in a spray of golden sand. Their forward momentum had been killed at the perfect instant. Such sublime control spoke of motor coordination that left one gasping in amazement!
Lear, 2 minutes 56 seconds!
He had beaten Achilles!
But Lear had a hint of dissatisfaction on his features, because Wang Zheng had beaten him by a sliver.
2 minutes 55.6 seconds.
He had beaten Lear by a hair.
As the two mecha headed back, the rest looked at them with a glimmer of respect.
Clearly, reputation wasn't everything.
Zhang Shan was unreservedly jumping up and down and whooping. Damn, who would still dare to look down on Ares College? Perhaps it was different in the past, but a new era had arrived!
Qiu Si was stunned. He clearly saw the fierce desire to win in the two. From the start, both had tried to throw off their opponent's pacing, repeatedly pushing their Bata Type V to the limit. It may have seemed like a blind pursuit of speed to the casual eye, but in truth, they had clashed with a high level of finesse. If it had been any other opponent, they could have lost without even knowing why.
This standard was far ahead of the rest. This was power capable of being the military's trump card. These two were truly experts.
Many only saw the results, that the two had beaten Achilles despite not using any Ability X or cheap tricks. But the whole process had gone by so quickly. Even their stutter-step had been done with the highest of efficiency and their movements executed with economy.
Were these what they called 'polished diamonds'?
Although the rest were oblivious, the race between these two had been even more impressive than Achilles. Achilles was indeed refined. He executed movements with a graceful aura about him, but these two brought deadliness within their solid movements.
The winner in this clash was Wang Zheng, something that no one expected.
The races continued, but the disparity in times only became clearer.
Achilles' ego had taken a hit, but his face remained genial. The other Moon members were less calm.
"F*ck, if they had competed against Achilles, they would have been fodder. Damn, how dare they act cool!" Atos spat bitterly. He was surprisingly vehement. After he was laid low, he had a persistently foul mood. It did not help that he was part of the reason why Achilles had lost his chance at leadership.
"Keke, don't be too hung up. Speed is determined by one's opponent. Don't mind the gossip," Taros said scathingly, directing his comments at the others who still oohed and aahed. "Lear has played this hand in a dirty fashion. Too bad for him, Wang Zheng rocked his boat and seized the opportunity instead."
"That guy definitely has a solid foundation. His control was smoother than Lear's, which decided his victory. To be honest, the sniper did not cut him any slack. He fired in the instant that he took the lead, which hurt his timing a little, but Lear still could not beat him."