Skyfire Avenue, Chapter 512

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Chapter 512: The Demon Drillmaster Returns!

Lan Jue extended a palm just as Jin Tao came rushing at him. The berserker went tumbling over his head, but Lan Jue was genuinely surprised as how strong he’d suddenly become. Flooded with his Discipline, he stretched over eight feet tall. Coarse, golden hair sprang out from every pore. He looked like a wild lion, and was just as fierce – it reminded him of the Wolf King, Qi Mu. His Discipline wasn’t as strong, but Jin Tao was no less savage.

But so was Lan Jue.

The Drillmaster broke away from Tang Xiao and Jin Tao, pressing into their protective circle. His right hand shot up and pointed to the sky. Bolt after bolt of feral lightning exploded out from Lan Jue in all directions until it swallowed up the whole field. Even Tan Lingyun and Wan Hongyuan were swallowed up. No corner was safe from the Forest of Lightning!

It was time to see what his students could do. How would they react to an attack like this, something so sudden and all-encompassing? React they did, by clumping together in to groups. Each student dew upon the full strength of their Disciplines for defense.

Mutual support formations? Good choice.

A single person’s defenses could be overwhelmed, but there were limitations to lightning. Its strength and damage depended on conduction, and that meant it could be countered. By making the target bigger and consolidating defense, the students diffused the lightning’s power over a bigger and sturdier bulwark. It was the perfect contingency measure.

However, not everyone was quick enough. They had to manage in other ways. Tang Xiao, for instance, was too far away to quickly join a group. The metallic ball became human-shaped again, and he threw himself at Tan Lingyun soaring by overhead. But Tan Lingyun saw him coming. When he got close enough, her long leg shot out and booted him away.

Deflect a single bolt and facing a whole Forest of Lightning was very different. Tang Xiao couldn’t protect himself. The lightning callously ignored his screams as the pudgy pilot was swallowed up.

He wasn’t the only one. Several students had been caught out and lay splayed across the field. The stronger ones, like Tang Xiao, were able to scream. The others could only convulse.

Lan Jue watched and gauged their reactions as he attacked the young unit. He never let them see it, but he felt pride. It was obvious these kids hadn’t been wasting time. They were better than before. None of their control or experience had been lost to idleness. Very good.

It hurt, but the pain served as a reminder and an inspiration to them. That golden mask glinted in the harsh light of lightning, bringing with it a bittersweet revelation. He’s back! The Demon Drillmaster is back!

Just like Tan Lingyun, how could they not be excited at the return of their harsh but effective teacher? They had worked hard every day for this very moment, to avoid punishment. It was the time of reckoning, and perhaps the beginning of the next phase of their training. Few realized this, however, as the weaker members were too busy trying not to lose consciousness.

Geng Yang had improved his tenacity. He could handle much more now than he used to. Wang Hongyuan had also refined his abilities. And Tang Mi, her legs were looking even longer!

But if she was here, it meant she wasn’t with Qianlin. If she wasn’t with Tang Mi, then who in the world was Qianlin with? It couldn’t be a male classmate!

The mere thought reflected itself in his Discipline, and the lightning he released became stronger. The shakes and cramps of the afflicted worsened.

Wonderful! The feeling was wonderful!

He held the flood for a long time, but eventually the power receded back in to him. Eventually, the students began to recover. Lan Jue looked over the scores of collapsed bodies with his hands stuffed casually in his pockets. “Your resistance is garbage! I bet if I keep this up, every one of you will end up pissing your pants. Five minutes – anyone else who thinks they can take some more had five minutes to get themselves in order.”

Flashes of light and color flared around the field as students fought back on to their feet. Five minutes was five minutes, this man would give them not one second more. All through their struggled he could see it in their eyes – the ferocity and excitement. It was more than that, though. That was the light of fanaticism.

These kids had grown up quick.

Tan Lingyun recovered the fastest. She stood before the Drillmaster panting lustily. That green aura shimmered around her, while those pretty green eyes blazed.

Lan Jue looked back at her in surprise. “You’ve advanced?”

She was filled with pride when she nodded to him. She had advanced – ninth rank! And on the cusp of being a God-rank mecha pilot! She was responsible for the A.R.C., but that hadn’t been an excuse for her to work less than anyone else. On the contrary, she pushed herself the hardest. He was looking at the result of hard work, and she was better for it in every way.

Lan Jue nodded. “Keep up the hard work. You’re advancing, but you’ve still got a long road ahead. Remember that you can’t train with the goal of quick success. Every time you rise in rank, firm up your foundation, do you understand? The next time you’re about to take a step up, tell me. I’ll check your bases.”

Re-cultivation had served to deepened Lan Jue’s experience and understanding, especially of ninth rank. He could use this knowledge to help the newly promoted Tan Lingyun.

“Alright.” She punctuated the response with a nod of her own. She could hardly contain her excitement now that he was back. She was buzzing with it.

Next to come to their senses was not Wang Hongyuan, as he expected. In fact, it was Tang Xiao that took up position behind the Savage Goddess. His thicker girth had its advantages, although he still suffered from the occasional tick.

Wang Hongyuan had a stronger Discipline than Tang Xiao’s, but the dark nature of his Discipline was a variable to take in to account. For him, the terror of lightning was real and hard to overcome. This applied to his bioeletricity, as well.

One by one, the students pulled themselves up and arrayed themselves in organized rows for presentation. Lan Jue had very high expectations for them, but he felt safe enough behind the mask to smile. All of the work they’d put in had not been for nothing. The A.R.C. class had been a success.

“Drillmaster, reporting! Forty-nine of the fifty A.R.C. participants are present. We are missing one student.” Wang Hongyuan called out.

The Demon Drillmaster nodded slowly. “Not bad. I don’t yet regret the time I’ve spent on you. At least you haven’t been spending your time with your thumb up your asses. So congratulations, you’ve done the bare minimum.”

The backhanded praise was a surprise to them. It felt unnatural.

“But!”

This made their backs straighten. Deep in their hearts, a dark joy grew: He’s back! He’s back! The Demon Drillmaster returns!

Lan Jue sniffed contemptuously before continuing. “None of you are anywhere near as strong as you need to be. Clearly your training needs to continue. Just like last time, this is your opportunity to bow out. If you don’t think you can handle it, you have this one chance to leave. For those of you who decide to stay, today marks the first day of your military service. We will be leaving the university, and I will train you like an army. I will make you in to a unique fighting force. I don’t need your answers now. Take three days to discuss this with your families. When I come back, those of you who are ready for the next step will leave with me. The rest will be left behind. Disperse!”

Lan Jue shouted the order, but no one complied. Not a single student moved, they only looked at one another with strange expressions.

“Sir!” Tang Xiao’s voice cut the silence.

“Speak!” Lan Jue swung his eyes to his disciple.

“Drillmaster! I don’t need to go home. I’m ready to join!” Not a hint of doubt was in his voice.

“And me!” Jin Tao was half a second in following.

Lan Jue lifted his hand to dissuade others, who were ready to shout their agreement. His voice was low. “I don’t want your declarations. If you join me, you it won’t be long before you’ll be facing a real enemy. Not pirates, not even men. You will be expected to put your lives on the line fighting those alien beasts. Even now we don’t know what these things are capable of, and that means there’s a real chance coming with me will cost you your lives. It’s a life that doesn’t just belong to you, but to your family. You have an obligation to go home and speak on it. Come back when you’ve really made up your mind. If you do join, I will do everything in my power to protect you. You will have access to the best training and equipment. So long as I draw breath, I won’t leave a single one of you behind. Do you understand?”


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