Chapter 777: Pleasant Surprises

    Chapter 777: Pleasant Surprises

    A blinding light erupted from behind the mecha with the shield as its thrusters sparked to life. Its shield also flared with illumination, and emerging through the blaze was a bright yellow tiger's head.

    A wave of vigorous energy answered Lan Jue's own, as lofty and indomitable as a mountain. Behind the glare was the fat mecha, almost certainly piloted by Tang Xiao. He'd transformed back from the alien planet to a standard mecha shape and hid behind the defender. All other members of their team quickly followed and lined up for protection.

    Gravity went wild. One moment it was almost too much for him to move his arms, the next he was completely weightless. The constant, erratic changes were making it impossible to control Thor in its descent toward the line of contenders.

    A figure suddenly appeared behind him. The deadly glint of a swiping dagger was coming at him again, aiming for another energy transfer pipe.

    Thor's armor and shields were impressive. How else could they get past his defenses unless by sneak attack? His opponent knew it too, so they had no delusions of destroying Thor outright. Evidently their plan was to cripple him, and give their companions an opportunity to land more devastating blows.

    The speed of these fighters was top-notch.

    Lan Jue acted as though he didn't see the mecha from behind, and did not immediately react. Thor's sword was pointed firmly ahead toward the others. But just as the blow was about to land Thor seemed to give in to the gravity and dipped - just enough to avoid the deadly daggers.

    Ting! Thor's sword rang against the metal shield. At it did the tiger emblazoned on the shield grew clearer, and almost seemed to move like it was biting at the sword.

    Unfortunately for the shieldbearer a surge of energy burst from Thor's weapon, submerging the tiger in electric power and eventually swallowing up the mecha that bore it.

    It was immediately consumed, leaving no trace behind.

    The team's defender was no more.

    Next Thor swung its left fist backward, as though for a wild punch. Yet a dragging vacuum force sprang up from behind. It was strong enough to nearly freeze the sneak attacker, just enough for Thor's fist - flickering with black and white power - to come crashing into it.

    Boom-! The cloaking mecha exploded, filling the air with thunderous noise and shards of smoldering metal. Two opponents down, but they could take solace in the fact that their loss wasn't a deficiency of skill. It was due to the enormous difference in Discipline. Lan Jue's peak-ranked power, Thor's outrageous construction, and his martial arts knowledge had turned the tide of battle. Lan Jue managed to defeat the most menacing of his enemies, the cloaker. Focused flow All-Heaven lightning removed their shieldbearer from the equation.

    The advantage of strength was revealed.

    Thor continued to power forward, through where the defender had been, following the course of the sword as it headed for the fat mecha. The sounds of crashing waves grew louder.

    Momentum was focused flow's strong suit. It struck with the strength and consistency of mighty ocean waves. Just like the ebb and flow of the tide, Lan Jue's next attack came on the heels of the first.

    The large mecha didn't try to dodge. In fact, it couldn't. Instead it lunged forward to meet the electric blade without hesitation.

    Liquid metal can't survive All-Heaven lightning, why is he acting stupid? Lan Jue silently chastised. But when he saw his disciple dissolve into a puddle of mush and avoid the strike he didn't know whether to laugh or curse.

    If he hadn't had to spin around and deal with the sneak attacker he could have focused on the sword, becoming one with the technique. But as it stood his flow had been broken as had his forward momentum. Of course, part of the reason he had to stop was for fear of being stuck in the puddle of student beneath his feet.

    The floor of the arena was metal, and under Tang Xiao's direction it turned to sludge below Thor. In the same instant a crushing gravitational pressure pressed down from above, hastening its sinking.

    Even Lan Jue had to admit the team of Tang Xiao and this gravity Adept was something to behold.

    Now the other mechas were coming in to attack. However, it was evident that Thor's display of power had frightening them and changed their tactics. If they didn't go all out now, they may not have another chance.

    Two reached him first. One of them was shaped like a beast and lunged at him without a sound.

    Good job, kid. It was Jin Tao, Lan Jue noted. From the beginning he had been hiding behind the others, hiding his presence from his teacher. Now he burst out, holding nothing back.

    He chopped with his sword, while in the same moment channeling his Discipline through Thor's feet. The fluid metal holding him down fractured into minute splinters.

    Lan Jue narrowed his eyes as the electric light of his blade carved through the air, right for Jin Tao. But just as it looked like the lion-shaped mecha would be put down, it suddenly shivered and split into two, completely avoiding the strike.

    Ghosting? Jin Tao's that fast?

    That technique was something only god-level pilots could pull off, and Jin Tao already seemed to have a good grasp on it. It was no accident he used it in just that moment.

    Impressive job kid, you're improving quickly! In a flash the metal lion was within clawing distance. Both images closed in on him from either side.

    Lan Jue was adept at ghosting, and knew its benefits. Thor took a step back and whipped its sword around in a circle - Taiji sword style.

    Jin Tao only felt the energy in front of him change, and half a breath later his mecha could hardly move. He saw himself moving toward the arc of the electric blade almost in slow motion.

    With a deep and guttural roar Jin Tao's mecha fused back into one and reached out with its claws. A golden light burst from within him and spread out in a corona of light. The force of it wrenched him free from Thor's control. Its two front appendages, claws glinting, tore toward Thor's head.

    Lan Jue was positioned just right to thrust his weapon into the lion's chest.

    Jin Tao did not dodge. His name, the Frenzied Lion Mastiff, was not given in vain. In every fight he viciously fought in the face of death. His opponents feared him. What's more he was an expert at close combat, and it could be said he was the hardiest soldier in Star Division.

    If Lan Jue went ahead with the thrust it would leave him open to Jin Tao's claws. He would hit his mark, but not without being punished for it.

    Lan Jue didn't back down, he had faith in the strength of his Discipline. He saw that Jin Tao wasn't going to retreat either. The young man was assured his ferocity and outright strength would shake his opponent to their core.

    The lightning sword slipped into the lion's chest, its doughty armor was no match for All-Heaven lightning. As electric light coursed into the mecha he could see it struggling.

    But in a move that shocked the Jewelry Master, the lion mecha's claws blasted off at the wrists and toward either side of Thor's head. If it was just Lan Jue he could easily have dodge the surprise attack, but Thor was less nimble. By the time he was preparing the mecha to react, it was already too late.

    Bang-bang! The two blows, one on top of the other, caused Thor to shake. The lion's claws were lodged on either side of its head.

    "Not good!" Lan Jue muttered to himself.

    He barely got the words out before a bone-jarring explosion erupted above him. The claws' explosions were so intense it actually knocked the other mechas back a few steps.

    Thor, of course, got the worst of it. In this critical moment Lan Jue didn't hold back and reached out with the full breadth of his lightning Discipline to try and mitigate the concussive damage.

    But it was too quick. Thor's head and shoulders were a mangled wreck. Thankfully his Discipline had saved the cockpit.

    Insane. That was the only words he had to describe his disciple.

    Little more than half of his mecha remained, but Lan Jue wasn't out of the fight yet. Thor sprang to its feet and lashed out with its sword. The movement birthed a hail of electric bolts that covered the ground. Tang Xiao's slippery mecha was instantly shot full of holes.

    Liquid metal twice as strong would be no match for All-Heaven lightning! Tang Xiao was taken out of the fight.

    Like a demon-possessed corpse Thor flailed. The unstoppable power of focused flow tore erratically across the battlefield. All of the remaining mechas were annihilated, but in the end more than forty percent of Thor had been obliterated.

    Their tactics had been strange, but Lan Jue could tell his opponents weren't working wholly in unison. If they had, things would have turned out worse for him.

    There was a flash, and Thor's lumbering remains appeared outside the ring. The pilots he'd battled against were waiting.

    "Professor!" Tang Xiao's beaming face met him.

    "Professor!" Jin Tao's happy greeting was half a second behind.

    Lan Jue grunted. "I see how it is! It's been a long time since I've seen you two, and this is how you greet me?"
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