A twinkle appeared in Gao Lei’s eye. He took a step to the side, then forward so that he was inside Lan Jue’s leg, effectively negating the strike. It was the same reaction the female instructor had used in avoiding Tang Mi’s attack. Likely something universal in their training.
However, he changed it up a little. After moving in, Gao Lei twisted on his heel and threw both arms up front of him.
Bang! Gao Lei flew off like a cannonball. He hit the ground and skid a good dozen meters before scrambling back on to his feet. The gathered soldiers suddenly paid much closer attention.
Their first pilot was unceremoniously smoked by this masked stranger. What was going on? Gao Lei’s combat prowess was well known among his soldiers, even going so far as earning him the title ‘the Tiger of An Lun’. He’s passed every training with accolades, and earned nearly every military commendation on offer. Years of military service have honed him in to a weapon of war.
And yet, he was trounced by this strange professor. Was he really that strong, to send their illustrious commander flying?
There was an expression of appreciation in Lan Jue’s eyes, that twinkled from behind the golden mask. His reaction time was fast, and his determinations swift and correct. In the blink of an eye he’d determined Lan Jue’s kick to be uncontrolled, and swept in close to take advantage. He was also able to judge Lan Jue’s power by the strength of the kick. By what he saw, the drillmaster was no weakling. So, seeing that he couldn’t avoid or negate the strike, he threw his hands up to block it. The resulting blow caused him to tumble away, but he’d taken no damage from the trade.
“Alright!” Gao Lei growled, but not in pain from the strike. A violent light shone in his eyes as he raced forward to re-engage. His right hand slashed out with the flat part of his palm cutting through the air like a blade. He was aiming right for the center of the drillmaster’s chest. His movements were precise, and lacked any hesitation. His whole body moved like it was a perfectly cohesive unit, prepared for anything.
Lan Jue watched him come. He didn’t move, and made no effort to prepare for the attack. His eyes followed Gao Lei’s hand as it chopped through the air and, as it drew within a few scant inches of Lan Jue’s chest, the drillmaster lashed out with a lightning fast punch toward the First Pilot.
Gao Lei’s hand made contact. However, as his chopping attack finally hit the drillmaster, he felt a powerful vibration. His whole body began to shudder, and just then Lan Jue’s fist found its mark. The punch caught Gao Lei in his left shoulder.
But when the strike hit Lan Jue felt Gao Lei’s shoulder move, like it was dislocated. The pilot swung his left shoulder back, and Lan Jue’s strike brushed along his opponent’s side. Once more Gao Lei’s hand chopped at Lan Jue, aiming now for his carotid artery. In the same motion his knee bent, and lashed out at his opponent’s legs to catch him off balance.
Lan Jue’s left hand hung down to block the knee, while his upper body twisted sideways and down. This helped him avoid Gao Lei’s chop while simultaneously knocking the knee aside. These close quarters encounters were brief, but fierce.
Gusts of air swept passed the onlookers as the two collided.
In truth neither were supposed to use their disciplines. But this wasn’t a friendly sparring session. It would more accurately be described as a death match! The students and soldiers watched with rapt attention – this was a true meeting of two combat masters!
And yet as they fought, the onlookers began to take note. Though they looked to be neck and neck, Lan Jue hadn’t moved an inch from his starting location. Gao Lei had approached from every angle to try and get him to budge. He crashed against Lan Jue over and over like a relentless tide, while the drillmaster remained a steadfast solid cliff face. The stronger Gao Lei’s attacks, the more severe the response from Lan Jue. The more vicious the offense, the stronger his defense.
Gao Lei’s reactions and fighting style were fascinating for the students. When comparing the two, their Drillmaster’s fighting style was simple and direct. He was like water, and reacted where needed. This ensured that Gao Lei didn’t get an advantage.
The advantage, in both speed and strength, lay with Lan Jue.
The students were all talented pilots, and knew how to read a situation. It didn’t take them long to discover why it was their drillmaster was in a better position. Strength, attack, speed… he was better in every category. Gao Lei had to strike in very precise areas to have any hope of landing a solid blow. He was also very careful not to suffer one of his opponent’s attacks directly.
Gao Lei was also using fundamental attack patterns, simple and straightforward. He was trying to make a point: with enough power, speed, and perception it didn’t matter how strong your opponent was or what style they used, you could beat it.
And generally he’d be right.
Gao Lei secretly battled a fear that was welling up in his chest. Facing off like this, he couldn’t get but be reminded of when he first arrived on An Lun, and his first drillmaster. No matter how hard he tried, how hard he fought, his opponent was indomitable. The oppressive defense was so much he felt like he couldn’t breathe. And the guy wasn’t even using all of his power!
Was he doing it on purpose?
Gao Lei clenched his teeth. Already he’d thrown everything he had behind his attacks. He attacked from all angles, rotating around Lan Jue to find an opening. But, no matter how hard his strikes or from what direction, each one was negated by the drillmaster’s defense.
Total defense! This was Lan Jue’s strategy. Gao Lei’s hands and arms were red, and swollen from continuously beating against Lan Jue. He was only still going because his pride demanded it.
I can’t lose! I represent the Iron Army, the glory of An Lun! The fire in Gao Lei’s eyes grew fierce and bright. None of the students admitted defeat, he thought, how could he? That would be unacceptable!
Lan Jue nodded. “Alright, let’s stop here I think.” Lan Jue brought one hand to rest at the small of his back, with his other reached forth. A strange power manifested afterward, with a traction force that grabbed Gao Lei and sent him spinning.
The First Pilot fought to regain control, but the harder he fought the stronger this strange force became. When he hit the ground it was a good ten meters from Lan Jue’s position. He tried to shoot to his feet for a counter attack, but that power remained. He was forced to the floor a second time.
Everyone looked on as Gao Lei was easily swept aside.
Gao Lei’s jaw was rigid, his face red. He scrambled angrily to his feet, glaring in unbridled rage. He had not given in!
“Alright, Lei.” A cold, indifferent voice interrupted.
A man had appeared at some point, clad in the military fatigues of an An Lun soldier. He wore a green mask to hide his features, with two twinkling eyes that were trained on the instructors.
The moment the soldiers saw him, they were in motion. Who was this man? How did he appear here so suddenly? An Lun soldiers didn’t hide behind masks.
They wanted to rush forward and wrestle the answers from this stranger, but Gao Lei’s voice stopped them in their tracks. “Stay your hand!”
The First Pilot snapped to attention and gave the green masked man a smart salute. “Drillmaster!”
“At ease.” The masked man slowly walked closer.
Gao Lei’s anger was gone, replaced with respect and astonishment. Almost as though he’d arrived on queue, here was the man who trained Gao Lei when he first arrived. He was an idol to the young soldier.
“Drillmaster Lei Feng. Allow me to offer my insight to you and your students.” The man’s voice was impossibly calm, and quiet.
Lan Jue narrowed his eyes, and the two exchanged a long look. After a moment, Lan Jue nodded. “Alright.”
The green masked man looked over the gathered trainers.
“All together, then.”
Damn, was he this strong?
The students were abuzz with the new development. Especially those who knew Lan Jue’s power; Tang Xiao, Jin Tao, Qianlin and Hongyuan.
Who did the green masked man think he was? He was going to face their drillmaster and his assistants?
Watching their demon drillmaster handle the First Pilot had filled the students will a great deal of pride. Although the first month of training had seen them very cruelly tormented by this man, they nonetheless felt a profound sense of elation. Plus, someone other than them was facing the damn drillmaster’s torment now.
The assistants stared blankly at him, stunned he’d actually agreed.
Then, he was on the offensive.
In polar opposition to the last fight, the demon drillmaster was first to launch an attack. He was fast, appearing before the green masked challenger in the blink of an eye. His right hand reached out to grab him by the shoulder.
The man allowed Lan Jue to grab his shoulder. Then, with a rapid shake of his arm, the man was free. Lan Jue replied with a wild throw, which the challenger blocked head on. The two collided in reckless assault.
Lan Jue was pushed back three paces. The other rolled his shoulder, but wasn’t budged.
Gao Lei stood nearby, watching with a dumbfounded expression. Of course he knew who the green masked man was. This visiting drillmaster’s actions were almost sacriligious. Now, though, he could see why it was he lost so cruelly to this man. He could stand toe to toe with his own teacher. It even looked like he was holding back.
When the two men collided Tan Lingyun, Wang Hongyuan, Xiuxiu and Mika all rushed in. They approached from four different directions to surround him.
Tan Lingyun and Wang Hongyuan where at a complete loss as to who this man was, but once they were singled out they had no choice but to respond. He looked like a worthy opponent as well.
Xiuxiu and Mika, though, had already begun to puzzle out the man’s identity. They were certainly familiar with their boss’ strength, and his acceptance of a one on five match-up spoke volumes to the man’s abilities. Who on An Lun could be that strong? The answer was obvious.
“Hmph!” The disdainful grunt was from behind the green mask. A terrifying atmosphere erupted from him.