469 52 Shots?

    It was not difficult to defeat an opponent ... the difficult thing was how one could do so inconspicuously. Her dad's warning had been on point - before she had grown up enough to deal with all schemes and plots, she needed to conceal herself appropriately.

    Even though she had already had a turn in the limelight due to the matter with the new technique, the fame gained from having a skill named after her would not harm her much, because that technique of hers had only been a minor adaptation on top of a foundational skill. This was just a manifestation of proficiency through practice - not enough to prove that she was remarkable enough that others needed to be apprehensive of her. Compared to Qiao Ting's advancement to ace level in his fourth year, that was just a minor thing.

    Of course, if someone found out that she had advanced to ace level in her second year, the countries that were eyeing the Federation predatorily would most certainly send out countless killers after her to snuff out this future star in the cradle.

    Ling Lan was lucky - right now, she could still mingle around freely within her military academy without anyone the wiser. This was completely thanks to Ling Xiao - Ling Xiao had protected her very well so that no one knew she was his child. This proved that Ling Xiao had not suffered for no reason eighteen years ago. While she had been growing up, Ling Xiao had already become strong enough to protect both his wife and daughter.

    With such a large and towering tree to shield her from the elements, Ling Lan would be able to live freely and vivaciously. Even if there were some slip-ups every once in a while, Ling Xiao would be there to help her smooth things over. In fact, if Ling Xiao had not intervened, she would have long been exposed before the masses. How could such impactful news as hijacking a military vessel be so easily suppressed? All of this had been settled by Ling Xiao, allowing her to remain concealed among the crowd ...

    Although Ling Lan was unclear on the details, unsure what Ling Xiao had done behind the scenes, she could still fully appreciate the love Ling Xiao had towards her and the pains he had taken to keep her safe. And so, she naturally had to listen to Ling Xiao - even as she won, she needed to make it so that others would not be able to distinguish anything from her victory.

    Having made her decision, Ling Lan resolutely pulled the trigger of the long-barrelled beam gun in her hands. Beam after beam of light was sent shooting out at very clever timings, forcing Zhu Jing to run about desperately. Although he had trained how to adjust and calibrate his gun while moving, Ling Lan's shots were even quicker, interrupting him every single time.

    "Crap!" Zhu Jing once again gave up on fixing the aim of his gun, evading yet another shot by the opponent. He knew that he could not continue on like this - he did not want to be chased all around the field by the opponent until the end of the match. Even if his first shot had been judged effective, he could not be certain that the referee panel would award the victory to him in the end. In order to be certain of victory, he needed to hit the opponent one more time.

    "Tess, calculate the opponent's gun's power usage!" After evading the shot, Zhu Jing calmly ordered his mecha's A.I..

    "Yes! Captain!" replied the A.I. icily. Very soon, several seconds later, after Zhu Jing had evaded yet another shot, his A.I. reported back. "Till present, the opponent has fired 27 shots. Calculating based on a rate of 8 calories per shot, in theory, the opponent can still fire another 22 to 23 shots ..."

    "Theoretically close to 50 shots?" Zhu Jing frowned. He was not pleased with the numbers reported by the A.I.. The opponent had only used about half of his power thus far - he would still have to dodge for a good long while to exhaust the opponent's remaining power reserves. Was there no better way?

    After some careful thought, Zhu Jing found that there really was no other way. The opponent's speed was very fast, and his operations were pretty much perfect as well, with almost no flaw to be found. Shot followed shot, connecting almost seamlessly ... right then, Zhu Jing was silently admiring of how the opponent's basic controls were honed to the extreme, endlessly close to perfection. There was practically no hope for him to find an opening there.

    In that case, then let him try his best to exhaust the opponent! Zhu Jing was confident that with his control skills, he would be able to exhaust the power of the opponent's gun. At that time, it would be his turn to counterattack.

    After shooting four or five consecutive shots, Ling Lan noticed Zhu Jing's strange behaviour. The opponent was no longer trying to adjust his gun, putting his full focus into dodging instead. A spark of insight flashed through Ling Lan's mind, and she instantly knew what Zhu Jing was planning.

    A slight smile appeared on Ling Lan's lips - perhaps this would be her chance to defeat the opponent!

    "Little Four, how many more shots can the energy storage unit inside the gun support?" Compared to the mecha's A.I., Ling Lan trusted Little Four's judgment more.

    "Approximately another 25 shots!" Little Four's spirits rallied when he heard Ling Lan's question. Ever since Boss had said that she wanted to get used to the mecha A.I.'s of this time period, she normally did not let him take over for the mecha A.I. to work with her. This left Little Four sad and bored - he actually wanted to do something practical to help his boss too!

    "How many shots in total?" Ling Lan continued to ask.

    Little Four replied gleefully, "After my optimizations, the time needed for the A.I. program for hand-area sensing has reached optimum levels. Each shot would only consume 7.27272727272727 ..."

    "Stop. Just tell me how many shots I can fire altogether." Ling Lan sweatdropped. She had not asked for such a detailed breakdown, right?

    "... you can go up to 55 shots!" Little Four said petulantly to his fingers. He had said so much all because he wanted to show off a little in front of Boss, to let her know that that rubbish mecha A.I. was no match for him, this clever intelligence entity. With such an excellent him, Little Four, around, what use was that rigid program?

    Fine, Little Four was actually filled with resentment towards Ling Lan's decision to use A.I. instead of him - this was obviously depriving him of his joy of living!

    "A typical mecha master can only fire 46 shots. These extra 9 shots are enough!" Ling Lan did not know what Little Four was thinking; when she learned that her long-barrelled beam gun could shoot an extra 9 shots compared to others, her mind instantly hatched a plot.

    There was no change in the situation on the field - Ling Lan continued to fire shot after shot at the opponent, while Zhu Jing continued to concentrate on dodging ...

    "How many shots have been fired?" Quite a few top-class mecha masters had already realised Zhu Jing's objective. They were keeping count of Ling Lan's shots, knowing that the moment Ling Lan's beam gun ran out of power would be the moment Zhu Jing launched his counterattack. Many believed that that would be the critical moment when the outcome of the match would be decided.

    "46 now. It looks like the energy block in the gun of this mecha operator from the First Men's Military Academy is about to run out soon!" The mecha masters all had excellent memories - they very quickly came up with the detailed numbers. Everyone's spirits rallied and they focused even more intently on the match. This was because the energy block of Ling Lan's gun might be completely drained right the very next second.

    Mind you, the energy storage unit of a standard long-barrelled beam gun equipped on special-class mecha was not constant in the number of bullets it could support. There was a certain degree of variance involved, typically between 46 to 54 shots.

    This difference of 8 shots was influenced by many factors, such as the quality of the energy storage unit itself. The better the quality of the energy storage unit, the more likely the energy it stored would reach the upper limits. The basic amount a standard energy storage unit could store was 400 calories, but in reality, energy storage units could never hit this number. Even the most perfect top-quality energy storage unit could only store between 380-390 calories.

    Aside from this, a mecha operator's control standards and the programming of a mecha's A.I. would also affect the energy consumption of an energy storage unit. Imprecise controls would cause each shot to drain even more energy than usual. And then, there were the issues with the A.I.'s system responsiveness to account for. No matter how good your operations were, if your A.I. was unreliable ... that would also result in a certain amount of power drain to the beam gun.

    A qualified special-class mecha master could fire 46 beam shots as a basic standard. Beyond that, whether an operator could use the power in an energy storage unit to fire more beam shots would depend on how skilled the operator was, as well as how well-maintained their mecha was.

    Of course, the theoretical maximum of 54 shots was almost impossible for anyone to achieve ... perhaps the 12 god-class operators could do it, but they would never lower themselves to operate a special-class mecha.

    "Clack!" On the field, Ling Lan's long-barrelled gun suddenly jammed. This sound made everyone sit up straight and exclaim, even as they peered eagerly towards Zhu Jing on the other end of the field. Everyone knew that the opportunity Zhu Jing had been waiting for was here!

    This sound also made the expressions of the members of the First Men's Military Academy waiting backstage change. Even though Mu Shaoyu and Han Yu were lined up behind their comrades, waiting for their chance to take the field, they did not really wish for their comrades before them to fail ...

    On the rostrum, Ling Xiao's brows raised at the sound. He did not believe that Ling Lan would commit such a low-level mistake and lose track of the power consumption of the gun in her hands. Therefore, the greatest possibility here was that his daughter was plotting something ... Ling Xiao cast a sympathetic glance at Ling Lan's opponent.

    Zhu Jing had been waiting for this chance all this while - when he heard this sound, his eyes shone with fervent joy! His fingers danced, and his mecha which had been evading at high speed all this time suddenly jerked to a stop, and his initially low-hanging M9 long-range projectile sniper rifle was raised up once more to aim at Ling Lan.

    Meanwhile, at that moment, the arm of Ling Lan's mecha slapped down sharply at its waist and a new energy block sprang out from the secured dock there!

    "Emergency Wartime Power Replacement Technique!" Seeing Ling Lan use this move, everyone became worked up. Every second counted now - if Ling Lan could replace her energy storage unit a step ahead of Zhu Jing, then the outcome would still be unpredictable, but if Zhu Jing was a step quicker, then this match would end with Ling Lan's defeat.

    The energy storage unit bounced out of the secured dock, and the left hand of Ling Lan's mecha swept downwards to grab it. Right at this moment, perhaps out of nervousness or perhaps just due to a control error, Ling Lan actually missed the grab - the energy storage unit slipped through the gaps between the mecha's left hand to fall towards the ground.

    "Ah!" Witnessing this, everyone cried out in shock. Meanwhile, when Zhu Jing saw this, his heart settled - he put his entire focus on adjusting his gun, prepared to give Ling Lan one final attack.

    There was a loud "boom"! Zhu Jing, who had just finished calibrating his gun and was about to shoot, had yet to pull the trigger when the screen of his mecha turned black. Immediately after, he felt a tremendous explosion rock the outside of his mecha, and his entire mecha spun out of his control.

    His mecha's A.I. was instantly blaring with loud alarms, prompting him to swiftly eject himself from his cockpit ...

    Zhu Jing slammed a hand onto his control panel in anger. Extremely unwillingly, he pressed the button to eject himself from the cockpit. Even now, he still had no idea why his mecha had suddenly exploded. Could it be that his mecha had malfunctioned? He recalled the Zhang Jing-an incident a few days earlier and the little bit of news that had been revealed after that. Everyone was wondering if some problem had been found with this batch of mecha with regards to safety.

    Meanwhile, on the field, Ling Lan calmly lowered the long-barrelled gun in her hands. Right as Zhu Jing had been focused on adjusting his aim, she had already been prepared to launch her sure-kill technique - One-Point Sustained Shooting. One-Point Sustained Shooting could barely be considered an advanced technique. It was extremely common, a relatively low-difficulty technique that almost all advanced mecha warriors knew. But at this moment, before the completely unguarded Zhu Jing, it had worked perfectly, instantly destroying Zhu Jing's mecha.

    "His limit was not 46 shots. How many shots were in that final One-Point Sustained Shooting?" Everyone was exclaiming in shock - had there been 5 shots or 6 shots in that string of shots? If there had been 6 shots, then Ling Lan would have made 52 shots in total. Even though it was not the theoretical maximum of 54 shots, this was still not a number the average mecha operator could achieve ...

    The two imperial operators monitoring the match from the air hesitated. One of them asked, "There were 6 shots, right? Why do I feel as if something is off ..."

    The other imperial operator re-watched Ling Lan's final attack again and again on his screen and finally confirmed, "There were 6 shots. Maybe there was just a problem with the lighting. That final shot wavered a little, so many people did not manage to catch it." He had only managed to confirm it after lowering the brightness on his screen.

    "Then there's no mistaking it. 52 shots! This number is truly astounding. It should be almost close to perfect!" exclaimed that first imperial operator in awe.

    "Yes, according to the top-secret files of the Federation military, only General Ling Xiao has managed to get so close to the perfect number with 53 shots. There are a few others more who managed 52 shots, but they are all extremely exceptional mecha prodigies!"

    "In fact, from the perfect operation of that kid from the First Men's Military Academy, we should have known that he absolutely would not have only been capable of 46 shots. We were all fooled by him! What a sneaky fellow!" said the other imperial operator gruffly. When Ling Lan had failed to catch hold of the energy storage unit earlier, he had really been shocked. After all, having seen Ling Lan perform so well just yesterday, he did not wish to see him lose.: I can't figure out what this could be referring to, so I just took it to be the name Zhu Jing gave to his mecha's A.I.
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