Skyfire Avenue, Chapter 230

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Chapter 230: Nooblet’s Back

Fifty-one against two. The two drillmaster had chosen to separate the work, with Lan Jue responsible for close-combat fighters, and Wang Hongyuan dealing with ranged attackers in order to give Lan Jue some breathing room.

Tan Lingyun, by this point, had recovered from having her charge cut short. She was still confused, however, for the discrepancies between her Sovereign-class mecha and their base models should have meant its projectile wouldn’t phase her. And yet it had, giving them the opportunity for a counter-attack.

She had had a fine view from her height, to witness Nooblet handily defeating her students as well, despite their equipment advantage. It was then understanding dawned upon her, and she felt shock freeze her fingers.

Oscillation! That was how he’d done it. The thrown sword, its defensive capabilities… whatever weapon the sabermech held became a terrifying tool when oscillating. The skill disseminated an attacker’s power, and fractured their defense. Hence it’s storied reputation.

Tan Lingyun thought upon her own abilities, and while she could indeed employ some level of oscillation, she was nowhere near as practiced as Nooblet.

She watched as a beam of silver light raced towards Nooblet from behind. It was positioned so that the drillmaster couldn’t see its approach while, in the same moment, another student charged at him from the front to occupy his attention.

Nooblet stopped, deflecting the attacks from the students surrounding him as though he could see in all directions. Upon freeing up some room, Tan Lingyun watched from the skies as her opponent’s spear dimmed, almost like an illusion. It seemed to drew in to the mecha, only to be spat out a moment later in all directions much like her own spikes 1. The five closest mechas to the Prince of Devils shook visibly. They stumbled around like shell-shocked until, as one, they all erupted in to balls of fire and light.

Looking down upon the scene, Tan Lingyun thought it looked like half a dozen firey blossoms.

Tan Lingyun raced towards Lan Jue in defense of her students. As she did, though, her thoughts turned over what she just witnessed.

Mirror blade!

Although he’d been using his spear, the maneuver was definitely mirror blade. There was no doubt in her mind: this was Lei Feng.

Tan Lingyun raced on, though she was still some distance away. The other students looked on in fear and alarm as their companions were cruelly bested. All but for the furtive silver mecha that was still unharmed. A photomask shield crackled around it, and it was by virtue of this student’s speed that the shield had deflected the terrifying attack. Seeing their opportunity, the silver mecha rushed forward at top speed, purple light erupting from behind it towards Lan Jue who stood in the glaring light of the five fire balls. However, strangely this student held no weapon. Instead they spread their arms wide during the advance, as though to wrap the drillmaster in a hug.

The cunning pilot was none other than Tang Xiao. Ever since realizing this was in fact his master, he’d been flush with excitement. But he was also a pilot, and so he’d carefully watched the battlefield situation as it unfolded. He saw his master’s skill, saw his classmate’s mistakes, as well as Professor Tan’s advance.

His teacher was using a sabermech, and that meant that with the right opportunity, they still had a chance. As such he chose what he felt to be the best option: under cover of his classmate’s fiery ‘death’, rush in.

Of course Tang Xiao was no fool. He knew his own close-combat fighter wouldn’t be able to pin Lan Jue for long. However, that wasn’t important. Tang Xiao only had to constrain his master long enough for Professor Tan to finish the job.

A single, concentrated strike from a Sovereign, focused right on that sabermech, would spell the end of this game.

Heh, Master, I should apologize!

A dark and sinister smirk spread across the kid’s pudgy face.

However, as he burst through the flames relying on his shield to protect him from the scalding heat, Tang Xiao saw Nooblet slowly turn to face him.

No! Tang Xiao saw his window closing, but it was too late! The power gems his teacher had gifted him made him frighteningly fast – the drawback, though, was that there was no time to stop.

Tan Lingyun’s mecha converged upon them as well. Spikes protruding from her palms glinted dangerously, aimed for Nooblet’s cockpit.

Lan Jue reacted. He swept backwards to avoid Tang Xiao’s bear hug, just enough so that when they collided the majority of the silver mecha’s power was rendered moot. Tang Xiao felt the impact, ineffectual though it was, bounce his master harmlessly away.

In the moment their suits collided, Nooblet had grabbed the silver mech’s arm. Lan Jue swung his suit around, using Tang Xiao’s own forward momentum against him. They spun in a circle and, with just the slightest tug, Nooblet sent the silver mecha flying through the air. Directly in to the oncoming Tan Lingyun.

Booooooom!

Perhaps Nooblet couldn’t destroy the silver mecha by himself. After all, Lan Jue had given Tang Xiao quite a lot of exceptional power gems. But a direct strike from the Savage Goddess meant the only thing Tang Xiao could do is bemoan his fate.

It had been wrong of Tang Xiao to assume his master had overlooked him. Lan Jue was very well aware of his student’s cunning and had watched him carefully from the onset.

The reason he hadn’t gone for Tang Xiao first was for just those reasons. Those gems, and his sneaky nature were a dangerous pairing, especially when he piloted such a basic suit. Even a surprise strike may not have been enough to end him. He had to wait for just the right opportunity.

It was something he’d learned from Lan Qing, and creatively applied as needed. Although the principle behind using this skill was different now than when Lan Qing had used it on him 2, but the end result was the same. Tang Xiao had perished at the hand of Tan Lingyun, and the impact had cast the Savage Goddess away.

If the onlookers had been required to describe that exchange, there was only one thing they could say: Perfection.

Rising on to the tips of its mechanical toes, Nooblet stretched an arm out. The spear it had used to clear the path returned to its hand. It was off again, penetrating in to the heart of the nearest group of students.

He swept his eyes across the battlefield for a quick headcount. He spied twenty-one long-distance mechas remaining. Adding the close-combat suits brought the number to twenty-nine. Thirty, including their leading Professor, the Savage Goddess.

In the brief time that had passed since the fight begun, more than ten close-combat fighters had been disposed of. Wang Hongyuan, for his part, had felled three riflemen before being forced to adopt a more defensive posture.

Tan Lingyun had watched impotently as her strike obliterated Tang Xiao. However, the intense rage that fueled her ensured that the surprise didn’t lock her up for long. A moment later she poured everything she could in to another headlong rush towards Nooblet.

Lan Jue was already pushing speeds the sabermech could only barely sustain. The students around him pushed in to high gear, and began firing wildly all around him. It looked as though there were no means of escape for Nooblet.

However, in this critical moment Lan Jue was in rare form. He juked East, dodged West, taking advantage of every small gap and split second until a route presented itself. He burst through to freedom, his spear lashing out like a precision claw. With hardly any thought, his weapon found the critical weak points in suit after suit as he raced by.

Two more of her students were defeated in the space it took for Tang Lingyun to close the gap, ended by that unpredictable spear.

“Everyone pour full power in to your shields!” Tan Lingyun roared in to her comms. Her mecha charged forward even faster, hoping to rely on her speed to overwhelm his ability. The spikes in her palms swelled and changed in to beams of blinding light, that burst outward to envelop Nooblet. In the same instant a row of sharp spines broke out along the peridot mecha’s spine. The tip of each twinkled with a caustic green light.

Specializing in close-combat didn’t mean that a suit wasn’t devoid of long-range options. Top of the line mechas certainly took both methods in to account during construction. It really came down to a pilot’s tendency towards one or the other.

However, a basic sabermech didn’t have that option.

Tan Lingyun’s combat experience was extensive. She’d recognized the problems and limitations with her opponent already. The greatest disadvantage was this Nooblet’s limited attack power. Even with oscillation, trying to one-hit-kill her students through fully-charged shields was a herculean task.

Of course there were disadvantages to pouring all your energy in to shields. The energy needs meant that other systems – especially speed- would suffer, and their overall sustain in combat was diminished. Under the circumstances, though, it was the best decision.

The remaining combatants executed Tan Lingyun’s order immediately. The results were as expected; though oscillating and perfectly executed, Nooblet’s spear could break the energy barrier but not the alloy hull of the suits.

By now, Tan Lingyun had gotten within striking distance.

Would this spell the end of Nooblet?

While Nooblet’s strikes weren’t enough to defeat the student before him, the impact force did lock him in place. Nooblet made no effort to turn, or in fact any measure to block the strike coming from behind. Instead he toppled forward with the spear strike, leaving the student in place.

Tan Lingyun’s deadly spikes found nothing but air, but the beams of intense light that she’d fired did find a target in her unfortunate student. The Sovereign-class mecha claimed its second victim, though once more it was someone from her own side.

All eyes turned to the explosion. Lan Jue, no longer the center of attention, expertly transitioned from the floor to another student’s side with no wasted movements. The spear in his hand lashed out like a terrible viper three times, each one landing with pinpoint accuracy.

Boom! Another one gone.

Two more students appeared on either side of the drillmaster then, one gold and the other green. Lan Jue’s cockpit filled with an urgent beep as both opponents got a lock on his position. With masterful cooperation they advanced, once bearing a spear and the other a two-handed buster sword.


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