Lie Xin came in third, at 85 points. It was a good score, but it wasn't easy for her to catch up with the rest.
Although Wang Zheng did pretty well and was qualified to run, he had missed out on too many training sessions. 65 points was a already a shockingly high score, but it was clear that he was no longer fit to compete and could only hope for a show downmatch in the end.
The teams were pretty much already formed by this stage of training.
Achilles' team: Taros, Milo, Masasi, Dong Xiaosa, Atos, Pi Xiaoxiu, Lidius, Beibei, Rambo. (10)
Lear's team: Luo Fei, Aloman, Stocker, Edison, Zhe Er, Qian Jin, Tolosky. (8)
Lie Xin's team: Lie Guang, Raston, Lin Ruofeng, Carl, Ma Hong. (6)
Wang Zheng's team: Zhang Shan, Meng Tian, Zhang Runan, Yuan Ye , Song Li, Zhao Wanxin, Qu Qiuzhi. (8)
Having been through so many rounds of selections, the Moon people were still in the lead, their capabilities overpowering all others.
Su Yan looked at the crowd and said, "Today, we shall decide on who will represent the Moon as the leader. You've all practiced a great deal using space mecha and have mastered some space battle tactics. Even though we can't be sure they'll come into play at the IG match, these are essential skills for any soldier."
Su Yan paused and looked around the room. Zhang Shan felt sorry. If only they could be given a little more time. He'd obtain rather high scores and could help Wang Zheng's team score better. However, there was only so much one person could do. Wang Zheng had made a strong comeback, but there weren't many opportunities for them to exhibit their skills.
Plus, it was undeniable that some people couldn't help but lose faith after he suddenly fell short.
The team leader was not allowed to drop the ball. Not even once.
It was the same as Lear losing Earth's vote of confidence. Everybody's take on his skill level took a sudden drop.
"Pirate's Assault Simulation. Mission: to rescue the hostages and take out the pirates!"
Wang Zheng, Lear, Lie Xin, and Achilles, the four candidates for team leader, were each allowed to choose five people to form a tactical team for this mission.
Time taken, casualties, and overall effect were all taken into account for this assessment.
The other team members were to stand by and watch.
Since he no longer stood much of a chance, Wang Zheng went in with the mentality to train and didn't pick Zhang Shan and Meng Tian. Instead, he brought Zhang Runan, Yuan Ye, and his gang for the test.
It was a miracle that Yuan Ye and friends could even make it to this stage, and since they'd already come so far, they naturally wanted to continue making miracles.
They didn't think that Wang Zheng would choose them.
Lear and Lie Xin both picked their strongest teammates. Achilles, however, was in a dilemma. While others were shorthanded, he had too many people to choose from.
"Boss, I'd like to go, to take revenge!" Atos said, standing up.
Achilles had already picked Milo and Taros, and for this final mission, he didn't want to let his guard down, so Atos... was not on his list.
He failed to notice that in his hesitation, the look in Atos' eyes turned evil.
"Heh, let him come. The others won't stand a chance as long as we keep a steady footing," said Taros.
Achilles nodded. "This shall be your battle of redemption, Atos. You've got to do well."
Atos nodded. Pi Xiaoxiu and Masasi were up too. This was the strongest combination of the Eight Stars.
The four team leaders began at the same time. Space mecha sped towards the pirate ship, and before long, the pirates noticed them. A huge number of unmanned space fighter crafts emerged, and at the same time, the laser cannons on the ship took aim at the incoming mecha.
It was common for space fighter crafts to use and safeguard firepower, but they could not board the ship for a battle. Space mecha, however, could battle on both ends. The two were pretty much the same in terms of space capabilities, but the mecha were harder to control.
This was not a problem for this group of elites. They all excelled in this.
Achilles' team was indeed a lot sharper in their flight skills. Atos, Taros, and gang were all specialised in speed and were extremely quick and agile in space.
The others followed closely behind. "Wang Zheng, you should have let Zhang Shan come on this mission. Doing this will make your standing fall in the eyes of the trainers!"
Yuan Ye said.
Wang Zheng chuckled. "We're a team, and training opportunities should be fair. I think this opportunity is more important for you guys. Plus, Zhang Shan has already advanced to the next stage."
Yuan Ye and friends were moved. They had all shuffled between teams, but Wang Zheng has always treated them the same. In a match like that, whether or not there was a chance to win, others would pick their own people, pick the best, so as to leave a good impression on the trainers and win some points at least. Yet Wang Zheng gave this opportunity to them because the General was going to watch it. For people like them, who came from far flung planets, leaving a good impression on the General was exceptionally important.
Wang Zheng's choice took Drachmach by surprise too. Half of him admired his choice, while the other half wanted to criticize him. It was a good thing to give other team members a chance, but the military was still very much about true capabilities. Wang Zheng was not doing his best here.
Team Achilles was first to make it through the ambush, successfully boarding the pirates' ship.
The six of them were rather in sync, firing almost at the same time. The bombarding lasers blew a hole through and the six mech warriors rushed in immediately. In an instant, pirate mech fighters came pouring out of the same exit.
Achilles and gang had put on an imposing fight. They charged right ahead, with Taros and Atos leading, using their advantage in speed to pave the way for the rest.
Achilles was rather pleased with Taros. His presence did not ruin the atmosphere, and he even charged ahead with full awareness. Achilles had a selfish reason too. He wanted to keep his own people safe while making sure the team had the capabilities to fight.
This was for now and for all future battles.
"General, Achilles is leading by a great deal. Once he completes this mission, he will become the true number one. It'll be done once he wins on Mars," said Su Yan, smiling.
Drachmach nodded. Right about then, signals from the base entered. Meng Ao and Lie Wuqing were here to watch the final training too.
The Moon had the best equipment, which was why they were in charge of this training program. Space battles had played rather significant roles in IG battles in the past few years.
"Oh. Wang Zheng's performance seems to be lacking," Lie Wuqing said, surprised.
"He encountered some problems during the space adjustment phase and was held back by a couple of days. He's recovering quite well, but it seems like there's not much of a chance for him in this battle."
Meng Ao noticed the team members Wang Zheng had picked. He had left Meng Tian and Zhang Shan, the highest scoring members on his team, on the bench!
Had he given in to despair?
Evidently not. They were all fighting very seriously, and Wang Zheng was giving rather reasonable commands. They were not entirely going for speed.
Was he giving those with lower scores a chance to fight in a real battle? It was clear that crucial moments like that were more useful in training others.
Wang Zheng was just short of one vote to become team leader. While the difference was big, it wasn't entirely impossible, but his performance seemed pretty calm.
At this age, being able to keep calm and remain patient was a quite a virtue.
Meng Ao laid eyes on Achilles. The control of his mech was simply perfect!
The most crucial fight on the pirate ship began. Achilles displayed his might. Perfect controls, terrifying moves and accuracy, unrivalled both far and near. This was the might of the Sun God.
The rest were a step behind, and Lear came in closest. Fatty Luo Fei was quite ferocious, and you'd have to admit that Lear was pretty good, having followers who did so well. Lear took the lead in his team and gave everything he could. It was a pity he was competing with Achilles and could never stand a chance.
Achilles gathered a huge amount of firepower. Atos and Taros burst out of the blockade and dashed right to the front.
They were arriving at their final destination.
The three generals looked at each other. "Our Achilles has gotten this vote. He's almost performed perfectly this whole time. He possesses both the perfect combination of a strong individual and team player."
Drachmach had just finished his sentence when something happened.
Everybody was shocked. Atos and Taros opened their full fire, wildly bombarding the last guardsmen. But... they didn't hold on to any firepower. Atos had used up all of his ammunition.
What the... the cabin was fired open alright, but the people inside... had turned into mash???
Mission End -- Failure!
Achilles and friends looked at each other, unable to believe what just happened.
They had used the shortest, possibly record-breaking, time to break in, and were just about to rescue the hostages with no casualties, but...
Achilles couldn't hold it in and yelled, "What the heck are you doing!?"
Atos was still for moment. His heart pounded hard against his chest. He couldn't believe he had really done that!
It was just a fleeting moment of absence. Atos grinned. He could bid his old self farewell now.
"Ah, my apologies, the great Achilles, my lord. Your servant deserves death for using too much firepower by accident," Atos said mockingly.
That line startled everybody, but seeing the evil look on Atos' grimacing face, he... he had done that on purpose!
"Atos... Why?" Achilles never expected his long time friend to turn out this way, doing something like that at the most crucial moment.
"What why? Who do you think you are? I've been true and loyal to you, but you? Trampling down on me in times of need! Sun God? My ass! Why should I be sacrificed for your cause? I am every bit as capable as you!"
Agitated, Atos spat the truth out.
Taros grinned coldly. What an idiot. Courting his own death.
Just as Lear expected. He had asked Lear at first, whether they should take Atos in. But Lear merely shook his head. Now he understood why. Atos didn't stand a chance at all. He was definitely going to be kicked out.
Lear's team erupted in cheers. He had completed the mission smoothly. It was clear that he was going to overtake Achilles as number one after this.
Most importantly, Achilles' name had suffered a huge blow. The so-called Eight Stars of the Moon were only worth so much in this situation.
Lie Xin was a tad late. She didn't expect to win any votes here.
Wang Zheng successfully completed the mission too. Even though they didn't come in first, Yuan Ye and gang were extremely excited. Due to having been through this battle, they were more familiar with each other and had each learned something about fighting. Most importantly, being on the field had helped them build confidence.