Hua Li nodded in acknowledgement, then lifting both his hands, pressed them toward the sky. Under a beam of gentle blue light, waves of power rippled from him. The cyan-colored emulsions intertwined with Lan Jue’s sparks of electric power. As the undulating waves spread outward, they covered all of the students and teachers.
As the power blanketed them, the students and assistants could feel tendrils of it worming its way in to them. It felt like being splashed with scalding water, but somehow eased the spasms caused by Lan Jue’s bio-electric strikes. Each of the afflicted began to feel pulses of their Discipline trying to break out.
The throbbing waves of their Discipline coincided with the ripples of Hua Li’s energy as they washed over the students. They were still writhing from the electricity, but strangely, the twitches became rather rhythmic.
Gradually, the tearing pain was reduced to more manageable levels.
Lan Jue remained standing before them, motionless, however his eyes stared fixedly at each of his charges in turn. His psychic sight carefully assessed the condition of all of them.
They had only two months to incite a qualitative change in each of these aspiring pilots. It wasn’t going to be easy, for anyone. Extraordinary measures would be required.
Everything they experienced today, was just the beginning.
Lan Jue paid special attention to the changes Qianlin’s body was undergoing. Although her cultivation speed was impressive, her overall Discipline power was still weak. Compared to the others involved in the program, she was the furthest behind. It was for this reason he’d used significantly less electric power on her.
Of course, in only a very short time Qianlin had brought him no end of surprise. This girl, who looked so soft and gentle, was tougher than all the guys in this training field, suffering the bolts of electricity without hesitation and recovering quickly. It had apparently served to incite her Discipline as intended, but the effect on her physically was minimal. Her muscles, meridians, organs… all of them were exceptionally hardy. She had handled it better than any of the others, and of them all looked the least in pain.
This was greatly surprising to Lan Jue. He’d carefully regulated the first strike against her, but she drank it like a sponge. Her power absorbed the undulating energy from Hua Li as well.
He adjusted the shock so that it was more in line with the other students. Instantly her relaxed face twisted in a pained scowl. He carefully watched as her body adjusted, and despite her expression he saw that she was sustaining against the increased pressure well. Where she stronger in Talent, he thought to himself, she would be able to sustain several times more punishment than any of the others.
The golden electric light filled the training area, bathed it in shimmering light. Workers in the distance looked on, stunned. They’d never witnessed any sort of training like this, and naturally since they weren’t the ones being stabbed in the chest and repeated blasted by lightning bolts, they relished the entertainment.
Chu Cheng’s eyes twinkled as he looked on. He was filled with an intense sense of satisfaction. The scene confirmed once more to him the fact he always knew – Lan Qing and Lan Jue’s up-bringing must have been something terrible. These kids, they were lucky.
The seconds ticked by. Each one felt like a lifetime, at least to the students who remained jerking like epileptics. It was certainly only by virtue of Hua Li’s healing aura that they were able to continue suffering the torture.
The first student to begin foaming at the mouth was a younger student, smaller than the others. Only then was his body spared further shock, and he slipped in to a coma.
A moment later, a second student follows suit.
Eventually the golden bolts subsided, one by one. As they did, the student it was attached to collapsed and lost consciousness.
This was as good a metric as any to compare these pilot’s sustaining ability. The stronger they were, the longer they could hold out. The opposite was just as true.
The first student to pass out had lasted thirty minutes.
Lan Jue left them where they fell. There was no more electricity, but Hua Li’s healing waves remained. By the time the clock ticked the final second of an hour, most of the students were dead to the world. Only a few rare holdouts remained.
Among them were Tang Xiao, and Tang Mi, along with the mecha piloting star Geng Yang. Wang Hongyuan and Tan Lingyun were also still standing. But most impressive, was Zhou Qianlin!
Qianlin remained, teeth gritted and valiantly suffering past the point of many of her stronger classmates. The trauma was still within her means to withstand. Lan Jue considered increasing the power of the electricity coursing through her even higher. However, he decided against it, fearing that her weak Discipline wouldn’t be able to protect her against serious injury. He left her as she was.
Another ten minutes passed before Geng Yang had enough. Tang Mi was next, then Tang Xiao. They fell one after the others, like dominos. By the time Tang Xiao passed out, he’d lasted five minutes longer than the school’s previously favorite pilot.
They were getting in to dangerous territory, now. The longer a body was locked in electric spasm, the more fragile it became.
Three persisted; Wang Hongyuan, Tan Lingyun, and Zhou Qianlin.
Lan Jue watched, speechless. Qianlin stared right back at him. Her body was wracked in convulsions, but her conscious remained firm as iron.
Her willpower was unbreakable, a fact Lan Jue was shocked to discover. She had surprised all of her class-mates, even his own chubby disciple. It was incredible!
Qianlin’s whole body was red, like she’d been burned. The tics and twitches were more violent than ever. Still, she grit her teeth and willed her body to hold.
No, it was too much. This was her first time suffering something like this, and too much could cause irreparable damage.
He approached his young charge, until he stood directly before her.
Zhou Qianlin stared at him.
Lan Jue lifted a hand, intending to relieve her of the electric current. Before he could, however, a weak but obstinate voice filled his mind.
I’ve got it!
You… There was hesitation in his answer.
Chu Cheng and Hua Li had by now understood what was happening. Both of them were equivalent in power to Lan Jue, at least comparatively. Both of them could certainly maintain themselves under Lan Jue’s electric prison. However, they understood what it took to do so, so they watched Qianlin with deep interest, to see how far she could go.
‘Endurance’ wasn’t enough. You needed an iron force of will – something she evidently possessed. All of this, and she was just a young girl.
Lan Jue took a deep breath, and suppressed the urge to ease her suffering. He bit back on the anxious lump in his throat. He nodded to her, ever so slightly, then went back to his position in the middle of them all.
He respected her decision, and to a degree understood why she made it. He had no reason to make it stop – if she wanted to go on, that was her right.
Erratic lights still flashed through the arena. The atmosphere was thick, and the air began to warp around the hold-outs.
One hour and twenty-five minutes in, Wang Hongyuan let out a sigh then collapsed. Only Tan Lingyun and Zhou Qianlin remained standing.
Tan Lingyun never took her eyes from Lan Jue. Like Qianlin, her eyes were bright and stubborn. What’s more, by now she had a faint understanding of Lan Jue’s purpose.
She was the strongest of those who’d been caught in this electric trap. An eighth-ranked Discipline was nothing to scoff at, and subsequently her voltage was highest. At this point, it was about five times more powerful than what the students had encountered.
Under the intense stimulation, Tan Lingyun could feel her core furiously at work. With each pulse of power, and each shock of energy, she felt not only her perception of the outside world growing but also her energy itself.
The experience was hellish, but she faced it with excitement.
The students couldn’t feel the slight changes in their Discipline, even if they were awake. It was different for the Savage Goddess. And it wasn’t just her energy or power – her body, too, was becoming stronger.
Any doubts Tan Lingyun had at the outside had been quieted, now. She could feel through the waves of elemental power, that the golden-masked newcomer was at least a ninth-level Talent. It was confirmed by the ac that it would require at least that much power to sustain this release of energy for so long.
If Lan Jue was the Prince of Devils, then this man must be his counterpart, a guardian angel.
I… must… endure! Over and over, Tan Lingyun snarled the words to herself.
Suddenly, Lan Jue was standing before her.
“We’ll finish here.”
The golden bolts of electricity vanished. Tan Lingyun and Zhou Qianlin were freed from their torment.
Qianlin swayed on her feet for a moment and then, with a defeated sigh, slumped to the ground. However, she did not lose consciousness. She lay crumpled in a heap, breathing heavily. Residual tremors periodically swept through her.
Tan Lingyun was in much better condition. She had dropped to one knee, and was panting headily like her younger student. Her flight suit was soaked through with sweat, and her whole body shook.
“Wh-y… di-…. did you… stop?” she said between shuddering gasps.
“I only have the one female assistant,” he replied dispassionately.
“If you were to pass out, who’d look after our female students?”
He regarded her for a moment longer. Then, with nothing more to say, he motioned the distant workers to approach.