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Chapter 454: Caterpillars to Butterflies?

    Chapter 454: Caterpillars to Butterflies?

    "Just wait," Hua Li threatened. "Just wait till he's done with the tournament and we'll see how he reacts when I tell him."

    Chu Cheng simply shrugged. "I'm soooo scared. I hope he gets no quarter, but at the same time there are his group mates to consider. Qi Mu's ninth level ninth rank, vicious fighting style is a problem. If he was at his normal rank, then he'd have a shot. Now, though, it looks bad."

    Lina sniffed. "What, is he deliberately hiding his strength?"

    "I'll talk about anything else with you," Chu Cheng earnestly said, "but my brother's secrets are off limits. Anyway you're not my girl - we've been estranged!"

    She sputtered a laugh. "Cut the bull**, I don't believe it for a second. You say whatever you want."

    It was much to Chu Cheng's regret that he discovered she was more cunning than he. Despite his repeated efforts, she always kept herself at an infuriating and enticing distance. She was an itch he couldn't scratch. The Prince of Nightlife had been absent lately, as the Vampire Princess had siphoned all of his attention.

    Hua Li cut in. "The fight's about to start. I for one hopes he jumps this hurdle, he's had it rough. He's had nothing but rotten luck, running in to every tough opponent."

    Chu Cheng fixed him with a flat look. "Do you really believe that?"

    With a knowing smile, his fellow Monarch lifted his wine glass and gave his friend a wink. "Think about it."

    The edge of Chu Cheng's mouth twitched upward ever so slightly. "The caterpillar trick."

    Hua Li chuckled, but said nothing. Lina swept her gaze between the two grinning idiots until curiosity got the better of her. "The hell is the caterpillar trick?"

    Chu Cheng tapped his cheek, flippantly adding "kiss me and I'll tell you."

    Lina almost sniffed. "I've got no problem with that if you don't have a problem with me draining every last drop of blood out of you."

    He gave her a strange smirk. "Go on then. I wouldn't mind you suckin' me dry."

    Lina grit her teeth, then planted a kiss on his cheek. "Speak."

    "Caterpillars become butterflies," was his cryptic answer.

    "Caterpillars to butterflies..." Lina was a very intelligent woman. A knowing look dawned on her pretty face.

    By now the fight was starting. Mo Xiao's crystal-clear voice called out for the contestants - Titan and Bing Yu - to begin.

    Few people were desperately interested in this fight, but their apathy changed to shock when the match begun.

    Titan took the defensive, his overwhelming power conspicuously absent. Bing Yu, conversely, rushed ahead flagrantly, seemingly without concern. Titan's strikes were noticeably weaker and extended only ten meters or so through that biting cold.

    Her loss yesterday was a painful reminder, and she knew today she had no chance to win. Still she threw herself at Titan like a flash freeze, pummeling him with everything in her arsenal.

    After ten minutes, Titan found his opening. A single punch smashed through her defenses.

    "It looks like Titan's taking pity on her," Mo Xiao expressed with a tinge of emotion in her voice.

    The Terminator just smiled. He didn't appear much interested in this fight. This wasn't the case for Lan Jue, though. He thought it strange.

    Compared to what they'd seen yesterday, it looked like Titan had lost a great deal of power. He was weaker, it was clear, and although he defeated Bing Yu it wasn't the shutout people were expecting.

    When the fight was finished, Titan left the Arena instead of returning to the resting area. He was two for two, so far the undisputed champ of group one.

    "Something seems off." The Pharmacist always watched him go with knitted brows. "He wasn't hurt in the last fight, that can't be it. There's only one thing it must mean, that he's using some new method. It's affected his body, but he still wants to continue fighting. Why risk it now?"

    Lan Jue stood as he spoke. "It might be because Jun Yongye and Xuanyuan Shishi put some fear in to him."

    She nodded, suddenly convinced. "Probably. You be careful, don't over extend." His fight was next.

    Qi Mu stood up on the other side of the waited area. With a dismissive expression, he marched toward the ring.

    Lan Jue still pondered Titan, and his own sour luck. He bemoaned the fact that he hadn't faced the convert today. If he had, Titan wouldn't have stood a chance. Unfortunately, his luck was not this marvelous. Even the Epochrion couldn't turn back time, otherwise she would have.

    Lan Jue and Qi Mu entered the ring together. They stared at each other across the expanse.

    Mo Xiao's voice filled the air. "Our second fight of group one features Qi Mu and Zeus. Zeus has one victory under his belt, and if he wins today that will put him neck and neck with Tian."

    The first fight was less of a spectacle than people had wanted, so they pinned their hopes on this one. This was especially true for two silver-clad women, hidden behind sunglasses.

    Lan Jue's mask glinted softly beneath the floodlights, making him look all the more majestic. He couldn't know how many people were actually watching this fight very intently.

    ζ

    Planet Skyfire, Capital Alliance Hospital.

    The Savage Goddess, Tan Lingyun sat quickly at the head of the class. The tournament stream flashed on a projector, the focus of her young charges. The school wasn't a broadcast station, but the administration felt it would be good for them to watch the tournament for academic purposes. Starting from the quarter-finals, classrooms were expected to show the stream. Otherwise none of their students would come to class, they suspected.

    The A.R.C. class' students watched, and couldn't forget their golden-masked torturer. However there had been a great many fights and they had been busy, so they didn't think too much on it. It wasn't until there were only twenty-four competitors remaining that they started to wise up to the fact that he was their demon drillmaster!

    The students weren't overly familiar with Zeus, but the information was widely available. Before long they had accumulated a wealth of information. Then they realized that he was the Divine Monarch from the God battles, and subsequently lost their minds.

    The Drillmaster was Zeus! The Divine Monarch, pilot of Thor!

    Tan Lingyun was conflicted. This bastard, she thought, this bull** about Lei Feng. Zeus! She had spent even more time than those students with him, so naturally she was the first to discover the link.

    She never could have imagined that her idol was beside her that whole time. Every time she thought about their close encounter in the mech suit, her heart began to race. This all confirmed it. She had good taste in men.

    But where had he gone? She'd asked Wu Junyi, but his response was that he had no idea where the slippery rascal went.

    This classroom had been reserved for the A.R.C. class students, who all sat together now watching their teacher. So while the wider audience held their breath for the confrontation between Constantine and Xuanyuan Shishi, the students from the NEU had their eyes glued to this one.

    "You've got this, professor!" Tang Xiao shouted from the first show and shot his fist in to the air.

    Jin Tao sat right next to him, quivering with excitement.

    Neither saw the strange expression on Tang Mi's face beside them.

    Zeus... Qianlin. Zeus, Qianlin?!

    Tang Mi could still remember the day of her friend's wedding, fresh as though it had happened yesterday. Zeus had burst on to the scene and snatched her away, only to return her some time later.

    She didn't know how to react to the news that her drillmaster had been Zeus. It had taken her the last few days to sort it out in her head.

    She knew that his arrival at the school had something to do with Zhou Qianlin. Or maybe he came with her.

    You can't imagine how jealous I am of you, Qianlin. Why didn't Zeus choose me? Idol... my idol!

    Changes overcame everyone who was involved in the A.R.C. class once they knew. The lessons they'd learned from him were a part of them. The training had only been the beginning. Every one of them were improving faster than their professors could keep up. Three months had ended up being as effective as years of hard work. That was the gift he'd given them. The pain ebbed and the memories faded, but what they earned, they kept.

    Their teacher was one of the best mecha pilots in the universe! That answered a whole lot of questions.

    And then they remembered that he promised to continue their training. The trek had been grueling, but an inexplicable anticipation grew within all of them. When will they meet their drillmaster again?
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