Chapter 187: I’ve Picked a Master
Xiao Han’s heart was a tempest of hurt, depression and anger.
He was a considered a rare talent, first in his family, and relatively well known from an early age. Even though he was so young, he was close to earning his own piloting alias. 1
It wasn’t as though he’d never been defeated. He’s faced stronger foes, certainly. But in those bouts it was a joy – exciting and challenging. That’s how a pilot improved.
But this was different. This was unprecedented, a shameful loss that filled him with rage and indignation.
He knew the fat lard was weaker than him, possibly by a lot. And yet through those damn tricks, and that insane equipment, he was able to pull out a win he hadn’t deserved.
Unacceptable! I refuse to take this! How the hell could I lose to him.?
Xiao Han’s anger threatened to consume him.
Just then he spied the hateful fatty looking his way. He stretched out his hands with a shrug and a smile on his fat face, like nothing was wrong.
Fatty Tang then rolled his eyes at Xiao Han dismissively.
Tang Mi hung on his neck. “You gotta tell me bro, where’d you get such awesome equipment? What gem did you use to power that shield? And what’s up with those thrusters? What was that orb thing?”
Tang Xiao whined as he tried desperately to extricate himself. “You’re gunna kill your brother! Lemme go, I’ll tell you if you let me breath.”
Of course Tang Mi knew precisely how strong a pilot her brother really was. It was no different in DreamNet. She knew her brother was stronger than her, at least, but this? This wasn’t normal.
Tang Xiao straightened himself up once Tang Mi had released him. “I’ve picked a Master,” he said with a chortle. “That stuff you saw, all of that was stuff my master gave me from his own DreamNet stock.”
“Master?” Tang Mi was surprised to hear the news. “No wonder you’ve been so secretive lately, you’ve been training with this Master right?”
Tang Xiao nodded his meaty head. “That’s right.”
She cantered her head at him in curiosity. “Who is it?”
Tan Lingyun was close enough to overhear, and the subject caught her interest as well. Tang Mi may not have been aware of the Soulcrusher, but she certainly knew all about it! The cost of that was astronomical. The number of people who could afford that that she knew, she could count on her fingers.
Tang Xiao smirked knowingly. “Remember that guy who beat you with the Brunois Assault?”
“You’re damn right I do,” she hissed, nearly gnashing her teeth. “I remember how much I want to rip him to pieces. You said you were gunna avenge me, but instead came back looking like a tenderized ham.”
Tang Xiao nodded. “I actually did find him originally to get revenge, as you wanted. But then I lost, too. That’s when I saw his ability with my own eyes, and asked to be his student. I’ve studied with him in DreamNet every day since.”
Tang Lingyun was next to question him. “What’s this pilot’s name? He must be a God-ranked pilot to have given you a Soulcrusher orb. There are only so many of those running around.”
“Unfortunately my Master has hidden his identity. He’s called himself Nooblet.” 2
“Nooblet.” Tan Lingyun had no words. Whoever he was, he certainly had poor taste. His choice in names made that clear.
“Enough of that for now. Next is the real thing. How are you feeling Tang Xiao?” Tan Lingyun asked.
Originally they had intended for Geng Yang to participate in the live exercise, but Tang Xiao’s showing in the sim fights was absolutely remarkable. All the teachers and students of the NEU were more than willing to overlook his unconventional methods, so long as he kept winning. For the glory of the entire school.
Tan Lingyun may have been inflexible as a person, but she wasn’t an idiot. She knew an opportunity when she saw one, and was willing to make tactical adjustments as required. Geng Yang was also more than willing to give his place up to Tang Xiao, hoping desperately the fatty could pull off another miracle.
“I’ve learned that I knew nothing. Now I’m starting to pick some stuff up,” Tang Xiao assured with a chuckle. He cast a sizzling eye towards the distant Xiao Han.
Tan Lingyun nodded her head. “Good, then you’re our guy. Remember, victory or defeat aren’t important here. Safety first.”
“Got it.” Tang Xiao fumbled through a comical salute to his instructor.
Following a short discussion upon the main platform, things eventually quieted down. An announcement rang out once it could be heard.
“The Simulated Battle Exchange between the National Eastern University and Lir University has come to a close. The NEU had proved victorious. Next we will begin the live mecha exercises. Lir University, having lost the last contest, may chose the field of battle. Each combatant will have access to a bare-bones, unmodified mecha for the duration of the fight. Choose them now. combatant for Lir University, choose your arena.”
They were coming to the main event.
This was going to be a different circumstance altogether. After all, a simulation was – in the end – just a simulation. How much the human body had to bear in DreamNet was modulated to protect them. A real fight didn’t have that luxury. There was always the possibility of serious injury, even death.
Xiao Han’s eyes were red from sadness and anger. Tang Xiao was smiling victoriously. There was even a hint of disdain in his face, and he didn’t even pay Xiao Han any mind.
Xiao Han fought against his own raging emotions, squelching them down. He was resolved – already determined to exterminate his competition by any means necessary when the real fight begun.
During the fight, both of them would only be permitted to employ the very basic models of mecha suits. As a result, this fight wouldn’t see any discrepancies in equipment. It would be a contest of straight piloting ability. Of course, this included their Disciplines! That was the draw for real battles, the fact that pilots could employ their own strength in conjunction with their suit. Xiao Han was absolutely convinced Tang Xiao didn’t have him beat in that department.
His choice: a saber mech.
In fact both Tang Xiao and Xiao Han had chosen the same style of mecha. Xiao Han chose the normal gladiator arena for them to meet.
He didn’t want to give this fat trickster any sort of advantage in terrain. He would employ the simplest, most direct, and cruelest method he could wipe that smug smile off his fat face.
In the audience bleachers, Wang Hongyuan reached out to poke Lan Jue at his side. “How long you think Tang Xiao will be able to hold out in this one?”
“Why hold out?” Lan Jue shot his friend a glance. “Why not win?”
Wang Hongyuan’s response was no-nonsense. “You saw the other guy. He’s a Sovereign-ranked pilot. Tang Xiao, at most, is an Emperor. Maybe not even that. He’s fighting in the arena with nowhere to hide or tricks to pull. This time, he doesn’t look like he stands much of a chance.”
Lan Jue smiled at Wang Hongyuan’s assessment. “In this day and age, there’s no shortage of miracles,” he said sagely. “Even in a ring like the arena.”
Wang Hongyuan lifted his brows in surprise. “So you think he’ll win it?”
Lan Jue nodded.
Lan Jue turned his head to look at Wang Hongyuan. His smile was wide, and his voice just loud enough for his friend to hear.
“Because he’s my disciple.”