Chapter 299: Tang Xiao Breaks Out

    Chapter 299: Tang Xiao Breaks Out

    At that very moment, Tang Xiao saw his sister about to get her head stomped in. He stopped dead in his tracks, fat jiggling, eyes locked in the scene. In the next instant, a wave of startling power began to emanate from him.

    Little Mi! The scream was internal, but he reacted by bull-rushing the soldier responsible for his own group. He didn't care what would happen to him, or how he'd be seen - something Mika was very familiar with. This was his sister!

    He'd heard from Jin Tao that his sister had remained by his side the entire time he was meditating. Though he never said anything, how could he not be moved by the display? Ever since they were small, he'd looked after her. She was big now, he knew, and was able to take care of her self but it was a part of him. Family was the most important thing, and their dedication to one another was something he cherished.

    Watching his sister suffer, the cunning depths of Tang Xiao's mind turned to mad violence. He threw himself at the soldier with wild abandon. Their trainer, though possessed of a wealth of combat training and experience, was nonetheless stunned by the sudden ferocity from this fatty.

    But the young man's rush was unrefined. He threw himself in to danger without thought of protection of tactics. The soldier answered by swinging his thick, powerful leg right towards Tang Xiao's copious belly.

    "Ughh!" Bulls-eye! Tang Xiao, in his blind rage, couldn't dodge the kick. But the soldier discovered something objectively terrifying when, as his foot connected, he got the distinct impression something was wrong. Tang Xiao stomach was soft and supple like cotton, and after the kick landed, the soldier couldn't pull his leg free!

    He yanked and kicked his leg, trying to free himself from the disgusting hold. But he failed, and Tang Xiao took the opportunity to press forward.

    In generally, the more meaty individuals had more strength than skinnier folk. At least they weren't at a disadvantage. Tang Xiao wasn't a normal fatty, either. Moreover, he was a particularly talented Adept all his own. He couldn't use his Discipline, but he knew how to take advantage of an enemy's short-comings.

    However the soldier was not alarmed by the change of circumstance. He pressed his weight on his captured leg and, regaining some semblance of balance, swung the opposite foot around to try and catch Tang Xiao on the shoulder. The intention was to force his leg free with a distracting strike.

    But Tang Xiao followed up with something the soldier couldn't anticipate. He jumped as high as he could.

    Despite his girth, he got some considerable height on the leap. With his opponent's leg caught, Tang Xiao managed to spin in the air until the soldier was point right toward the floor, positioned to break the young pilot's landing. His doughy belly toughened up and keep a vice-like hold on the leg. There was no way for the soldier to wrench his leg free, now.

    A ferocity shone in the depths of the warrior's eyes. In the blink of an eye there was a knife in his right hand, pulled free from a pocket on his uniform pants.

    "Ah!!" The pained scream pierced through the air, hanging over the field.

    Wasn't this a bare-handed fight? What was he doing with a weapon?!

    The thought raced through the heads of onlooking students as the soldier sought to extricate himself from this awkward situation. Tang Xiao prepared to Discipline to ward the inevitable stabbing. But much to his surprise, the soldier swept his dagger down toward his own ankle.

    There was no hesitation. Even though this was training, the soldier was about to cut off his own foot for battlefield supremacy!

    "Enough!" A figure appeared suddenly from the corner of their eyes. With lightning-fast speed, the newcomer grabbed the soldier's arm before the strike could land. In the same motion he guided their fall so they could land safely.

    Gao Lei looked over the two of them. He fixed Tang Xiao with his gaze, something strange in their depths. "You win," he said. "Well done."

    Tang Xiao relaxed his stomach and allowed the soldier to pull himself free. But he didn't care about the result, his eyes were already searching for his sister.

    The losing soldier's face was a mask of rage and disappointment. After he regained his feet, Gao Lei responded by viciously kneeing him in the gut. The soldier fell to a knee with a pained groan.

    "You underestimated the enemy. If this were a real fight, you'd be dead. You've forgotten the principle of throwing everything behind every fight, no matter the enemy, haven't you? This is a warning, forget again and you'll be punished."

    The exchanged had happened in just a few seconds. But it dominated the attention of every student. This was the Iron Army on An Lun! They would maim themselves even to win in training. If the fight hadn't had been stopped in just that moment, surely the strike would have permanently disabled the soldier.

    Nearby, Jin Tao was still battling his instructor.

    By the time Tang Xiao had won his victory, Jin Tao had been viciously beaten down by his instructor seven times. However, each time he got back up. He refused to be put down, like a cockroach. He'd dust himself off, then launch headlong at his enemy once more.

    The soldier's eyes were full of stunned disbelief. This kid was tough as rocks! And he sure as hell could take a hit. Although each rush resulted in him being knocked away, he defended himself in just the right spots and at just the right times, to ensure there wasn't any serious damage. This was training, after all, and the soldier wasn't interested in killing his charge. What's more, it took him longer and longer each time to repel the psychotic student.

    Gao Lei stood not far off, watching carefully.

    Combat was an excellent display of ability. Power, speed, psychology, reaction speed... everything came out when the fists started flying.

    Even people with the same skills and strength could see vast differences in combat results if you considered their willpower. And those were only a few criteria.

    The longer he watched, the more surprised Gao Lei became. These kids were much, much different than he'd expected. Not only were they physically primed, but they had a tenacity that was practically inhuman. Since the fight started, no a one has cried for help, or given up.

    Even in the military, this was something else.

    Tang Mi passed out, Tang Xiao went berserk. The students were like rabid animals, with a ferocity that was hard to explain.

    Their basic abilities were also quite good, considering. They were also strong, and desperate. The soldiers couldn't kill them, so they sought to thoroughly route these kids instead. However, they were finding it very difficult to do so. The fights took longer and longer.

    Even the elite soldiers they poached from other units couldn't perform at this level. Gao Lei's disdain had slowly begun to melt away as he watched them perform. He couldn't help but not in silent appreciation. They were all exceptional talents, with a wealth of potential. And they were young! The Vice Admiral was right - these kids deserved to be here. With time, every one of them could be part of the Iron Army.

    Every student fought until they passed out. Not a single one gave up. To them, this beating really wasn't that bad. They rose to their feet, dusted themselves off, and went in again. Over and over.

    After all, compared to boiling water and a dozen metal rods and bio-electric lightning storms, what was a few gut-punches?

    Jin Tao was a special case. The kid was a freak. While the other soldiers had nearly finished with their groups, these two were still at it. The soldier was drenched in sweat, and his breath was coming ragged. Jin Tao's face only revealed excitement. They were already passed the ten minute mark!

    In the end, Gao Lei could do nothing for it but give the kid his well deserved honors. He had other training courses to get to, and at this point the kid had so thoroughly embarrassed his soldier that he had shown his worth tenfold.

    Lan Jue watched in silence, never moving. Until Zhou Qianlin fainted...

    Qianlin was the final one in her group to fight. When it was her turn, Tan Lingyun had quietly approached Lan Jue, expressing concerns that she was no combat student. Lan Jue shook his head, and told her that this was Qianlin's choice. She had made the decision to be here- she had earned it.

    And she really didn't have any combat ability to speak of. What did have, was an expected calm. Her tiny arms darted here and there to ward off the attacker's strikes. She was knocked out in under a minute, but when looking at her from the perspective of a 'civilian', it was an impressive feat.

    But when she ultimately hit the floor, Lan Jue couldn't stop his hands from curling in to fists.

    The process was done in about half an hour. Seventeen of the fifty students had managed to pass muster. They had all made it at least three minutes. Although this was less than a third of the participants, Gao Lei no longer looked at them like pain in the ass kids. Even those who hadn't passed needed only slight adjustments to make it the next time.

    "Drillmaster, would you and your assistants be needing this training as well?" The First Pilot turned to regard Lan Jue, who'd been silent through the whole thing.

    Lan Jue turned his mask face toward the soldier. "Would the commander mind showing me a few things?"

    A light shone in Gao Lei's eyes. "Alright," he said.

    "Excellent." Lan Jue nodded his head in satisfaction, then walked to the center of the training field.

    Most of the students had come to already. All eyes were now on Lan Jue and Gao Lei. Their brief exchange had not been quiet, after all, so they all knew what was about to happen.

    So now they would get to watch their demon drillmaster at the First Pilot of An Lun have at it.

    They forgot all about their aches and pains. Their eyes were wide and unblinking as the students' two instructors met on the field of battle. The memory of their Drillmaster's tyrannical victory in his saber mech was still fresh in their minds, but they didn't know how he was in actual fist-fight. Grappling and mecha combat had many fundamental differences - would he be able to stand up to this battle-hardened commander?

    Lan Jue walked to the center of the training field before turning back to face Gao Lei. "We go until someone taps out?"

    Gao Lei nodded. "As you like."

    "Let's do it," Lan Jue returned.

    Gao Lei's face curled in to a frown. "Feel free to start us off." Although he didn't say it straight, his meaning was clear: He doubted Lan Jue had any chance at all, if Gao Lei were allowed to start the fight.

    Lan Jue said nothing further. He simply stepped forward and, with terrifying speed, whipped his back leg at Gao Lei's rib cage.
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