A small favor in exchange for an Aslan Admiral's personal debt was extremely worthwhile.
Three days were really short, but for the people in the training camp, it meant that they had improved by leaps and bounds. They were all going through a transformation, and each and every day was precious. Especially for Zhang Shan.
Winning battles gave Zhang Shan confidence as well as fame. Nobody dared to say that he was there just by fortune anymore. Atos, on the other end, was utterly embarrassed. Many couldn't put up with his bad temper, saying he was not suited for a team. Plus, he was way too petty, bearing grudges over little things for a long time.
Failure was nothing to be afraid of. Hard work could make up for things, and people who worked hard after failing were definitely much more respectable. However, in subsequent training sessions, Atos was lazy and uncooperative, making the Moon team feel helpless.
Eventually, Achilles had an outburst. He chided Atos harshly in front of everyone else. If Atos refused to work hard, he'd have to leave.
This was the Moon's main battle. Achilles had stellar results, and even though Lie Xin and Lear were not too bad themselves, they were still far from Achilles. The Moon team had put up a skillful performance and were rather stunning, but Atos was being that one black sheep.
It was evident that Achilles wanted to conquer people from both Earth and the Moon. In a team, he would need someone with abilities like Zhang Shan's, which would come in handy in Aslan.
As team leader, his vision could not be limited to the Moon. Depending solely on the Moon would not win him anything in the Milky Way. And so, he had to stand on higher ground, which was also why he had been able to put up with these people.
Atos' existence was ruining this part of the picture, and he needed some reminder.
Lear was tormented on Earth and had returned in defeat. He could be considered useless and was at disadvantage in the fight to become team leader. That fatty, Luo Fei, however, had been doing well. His results steadily maintained in the top ten.
Luo Fei and Zhang Shan were indeed two dark horses that came out of nowhere. One was vulgar, and the other flamboyant. But all of this was just a facade. They both had relatively consistent performances in their battles.
In crucial times, excitement could come in two forms. One was crazy and mindless. The other was a flame that combined the extreme physical anxiety with the mind's calmness. The latter was the best battle condition.
Atos was proven to be the former. He could never be an elite.
Everybody could see this problem, but nobody said a thing about it.
After their training, Atos went drinking alone to drown his sorrows. It was actually prohibited during training, but he couldn't be bothered.
"How uninteresting to drink alone. Here, I'll accompany you," said Taros as he walked in.
Over the past few days, all his friends had been indifferent to him, as if he was the only one at fault. All except Taros.
"Forget it. You'll be punished if we are discovered. I'll drink alone."
"What are you saying? If I can't even share that burden, I'm not a friend," Taros chuckled, taking over the bottle.
Atos felt warm inside. Truth be told, he was most strongly against Taros being part of the team at first. He thought Taros to be a scheming person, but knowing a person for a long time did not mean knowing his true nature. When he encountered difficulties, his so-called friends had disappeared. All they said was to "stay calm". Calm my foot!
"You should try to understand Achilles. He wants to achieve great things, so there has to be some sacrifice. He's not simply taking his anger out on you," said Taros.
"Heck. He can do whatever the hell he likes. Why should I be sacrificed? I assisted him with all my heart, and yet he embarrassed me in front of everyone! He's no friend of mine! He can go to hell! Taros, you should be wary. I've been with him for many years, yet he did that to me. You've only been around for a little while; who knows when you'll be sacrificed!"
Atos' eyes shone begrudgingly. The Moon people were now enjoying their glory days. Atos had worked the hardest to help Achilles in his fight, but now, as the others continued basking in glory, he was being abandoned.
"Sigh. I chose to follow Achilles because I thought he was a loyal friend. That's also why I gave up running for team leader. Seeing you like that, I'm starting to have second thoughts. That guy is way too cruel. He appears smiley all the time, but he's pretty cold. Even Lie Xin and Lear are better."
"That slutty Lie Xin does have good looks, but too bad none of the Martians are good people. Lear, on the other hand, is pretty scary. He stands a chance."
Atos bounced back up. Why should others give up on him? He wanted to fight for himself.
"But that stupid fatso..."
"No need to worry about the small things in our fight to achieve great things! That fatso is nothing with the two of us around. We can hold our own fort since Lear is no longer as strong as he was."
"That makes sense. He's the most shorthanded now. We can try to win some votes for him and let you have the opportunity to advance. He should be more than happy to have that."
"What about you?" Atos said shyly.
"I'll give you a push first, and you can help me later. We can work hard together!" Atos said, full of sincerity.
"My brother! Such loyalty! Here, have another!"
Atos laughed. He felt as if he had been given a new lease on life. Why should he slog for Achilles? There were many others who were capable of becoming team leader. Trying to get rid of him? Not so easy!
A few glasses of wine later, Taros' eyes narrowed and gleamed like venomous snake's.
"Wang Zheng will be returning to the team tomorrow. I wonder how he's adjusted," said Zhang Shan.
"Sigh. How could such shortcomings be revealed in crucial times like that? He definitely won't make leader if the problem isn't resolved."
Yuan Ye felt it was a pity too. It was such a great opportunity. They had just seen the silver lining before, but now it was gone. Moreover, the trip held their training back a fair bit. It was difficult for them to catch back up.
This was the Moon people's turf. There weren't many opportunities lying around.
Yuan Ye, Song Li, and gang felt down. They were considered marginalized from the whole group. To put it simply, people like them who came from small countries had to build a strong relationship with the future leader, as it would affect their development down the road. They had pinned all their hopes on Wang Zheng, but Wang Zheng had suddenly revealed such a huge shortcoming.
Zhang Shan did not think that far. He had a simple mindset: fight where there are battles. There was no need to think about anything in the future; everything would turn out for the best.
Meng Tian, Lie Xin, Milo, and Zhang Runan shared a dormitory room. As the only four girls, they'd all managed to stay around, and with results better than many other boys. Rather formidable and mighty!
There was no doubt that Milo was dead loyal to Achilles, so there was no need for Lie Xin to even try. However, she was almost desperate to have Zhang Runan on her side. Even though their styles were different, that didn't stop Lie Xin and Meng Tian from building a good relationship. Given Meng Tian's capabilities, she would do pretty well in the future. Becoming a female general wouldn't be much of a problem.
Earth had a weird system. They had to ensure that there were females among their leaders to maintain a certain balance and rationale. The Meng family was well-known on Earth, and Meng Tian had Ability X. It would all happen naturally.
"Runan, I admire Wang Zheng very much too. But you've got to know that a team leader has to be all-rounded. Shortcomings like that won't do. Even if his problem is cured, there's no guarantee it wouldn't relapse. You should all join me. We'll make it to Aslan together. Martians mean every single word they say!"
Lie Xin had a very gracious character indeed. She was eclectic. It was a pity she was knocking on the wrong door. Zhang Runan was very quiet after her training. A huge contrast to her ability and competition item.
"Not interested. Plus, it's only just begun. A small setback like that won't stop Wang Zheng," Zhang Runan said calmly. Lie Xin had been asking rather fiercely these couple of days, and those who didn't know better could well think that Lie Xin was asking her out.
"Meng Tian, you're the most cool-headed. Analyze and tell me. Isn't it true that we'll only stand a chance if we form an alliance? Unless you want to join Lear. Then I'll keep my mouth shut. But even though I'm a Martian, I'm definitely more reliable than Lear will ever be,"
Lie Xin had uncourteously made Lear the bad person.
Meng Tian was looking at some data and looked up upon hearing that. Seeing how Lie Xin behaved in such a straightforward manner in front of Milo, she didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
"We'll wait for Wang Zheng's return before deciding. We'll support his choice, no matter what."
Meng Tian's words showed their stance. Ares College would follow Wang Zheng.
Lie Xin nodded. So she would just have to take care of Wang Zheng. If she'd known that earlier, she'd have done something about it back on Mars. It was a surprise that this lad was at such a level and had such persistent followers.
It was too bad. She could seduce men, but the same tricks just wouldn't work on women.
Because of what happened with Atos, Milo couldn't say a thing. The Moon and Earth's ties were considered cut. She didn't know what went wrong with Atos either. While he has always been impatient, he had never gone to such extremes.
Wang Zheng was back, and training commenced as per usual. While others trained, Wang Zheng did some basic tests.
Su Yan was rather pleased with the results. After a few hours of familiarisation and tests, Wang Zheng's skill level had hit the mark. Was the short period of rest really that useful?
Anyhow, it was indescribable. Wang Zheng had found himself again. There was no need for him to spend energy on the unknown, or on things he didn't understand. With his mental condition unaffected, his moves were all routine.
Moreover, space was the most suitable place for him to display his qualities.
No resistance. It was a super show.
But Wang Zheng was unlike Zhang Shan. He had no intention of showing off everywhere. Still, space battles were very useful.
"Let's welcome Wang Zheng back. This afternoon, we'll go straight into teams for battles,"
Su Yan said. Everyone's attention was on Wang Zheng. They'd thought that the focus would be on Achilles, Lear, and the rest, but right from the very beginning, Wang Zheng had managed to pull up some great antics, be it battling or making mistakes.
"Wang Zheng, all good? We're all just waiting for you!" Zhang Shan cheerfully embraced Wang Zheng.
In terms of mock battles, the team led by Achilles had the best results. Achilles also had the best individual score. The trainer had given him the highest score in the whole segment. He was undoubtedly the most capable and calm.
Next up was Lear, followed by Lie Xin. The three of them took turns to lead, and each had opportunities to perform. Another three days went by, and the Moon training came to an end.
Achilles came out on top in the run for team leader. He had accumulated 93 points.
Coming close was Lear. Lear had a cool temperament, and even though he spoke very little, he achieved many things. Of course, it was partly also because Achilles saw Lie Xin as his main competition. Lear had been defeated on his home ground, Earth, and so everybody had overlooked him. He had a score of 89 points, and even though they were just 4 points apart, it was evident from the training that Lear could only be number two. Achilles was in control of the situation, and Lear could only pick up what was left behind.