Chapter 33 – Dance Under The Stars

The trip so far had been uneventful, other than studying different types of Inzektors combat patterns and characteristics Luon sparred against Bendan, Gizmo, and Tyron.

Thomas wasn’t a combatant and couldn’t participate in the trip, and because of the time difference, Thomas found himself occupied with his job when the rest of the group were free and vice-versa. The group only had four people to battle in war games with.

In the past few months besides Luon’s combat abilities his commanding stratagems had adapted to current meta. The position of commander in their war games rotated between Gizmo and Luon.

Although Gizmo was an excellent commander, he likes to look at things logically according to data. If a single orc grunt could fight three human soldiers and barely win he would commit to that choice and for insurance he may even add another Orc. However, his estimates became off sometimes which causes some losses.

Gizmo battle plans consist of scouting and harassment while mustering his forces. On the other hand, Luon was the type who would defensively build and send cannon fodder scouts out. Luon would set his soldiers to interception while amassing an army of workers to build a resourceful army.

Normal commanders couldn’t possibly replicate this tactic as the reaction speed of the robotically created soldiers were too slow for combat. The sensors and connection speed to the machine couldn’t react fast enough to enemies attack pattern, but with Luon’s macro management abilities, his skill in position placement was spot on causing the enemy to falter back and consistently retreat.

While Gizmo planned for the mid-game, Luon sought for an overwhelming late-game. Since the army Luon used was cheap the value he made of them was overwhelming and by the time the enemy does an all in strategy, Luon would counter it with forces more numerous than what they would have.

Imagine being unable to rush and destroy the Crypt of Heroes right away only to fight against an army of droids who before dying kills forces several times more valuable.

Tired of the undervalued plays one would muster an almost unstoppable force of ground units consisting of orcs, elves, and any other humanoid beings only to face against several dragons, giants, trolls, monster-sized beasts, and demonic overlords who with a single swipe instantly kills numerous of warriors later in the match.

Not only that but following after these monstrosities were an army of robots armed with lethal weapons.

Luon’s commanding abilities were astounding, not only did his knowledge of war tactics and study of other commanders strategies help him think of the perfect positions for his robot soldiers to fire, but his parallel thoughts skill enabled him to manage multiple groups of them at ease.

The robot army would shoot from a distance before retreating, and by the time the attackers close in on them, another group of robots barrages them down even more. It was an endless goose chase, kiting to its finest as if it was a work of art. These movements were unimaginable to a normal commander and to make it worse even if a group of robotic soldiers was killed they were only worth a couple of points.

After another fruitful training session, Luon exited his Vortex Container. One of the greatest joys on this pleasure trip to hell was the food provided as it was fantastic. According to the waiter the storage room was filled with intraspatial bags solely for ingredients used in cooking.

Rich, was the only word that could describe this phenomenon. How could they use so many intraspatial bags just for storage of ingredients? Luon shook his head as he recalled how much a single bag would cost, 30,000 Galaxia Coins, a whole year of the average salary.

Luon headed towards the dining room located in the center section of the starship. There were a few days left before the ship arrives at their destination and today Luon, Tyron, Gizmo, and Bendan were going to discuss survival tactics, hunting tactics, and their personal goals in the event.

When Luon arrived the others were already sitting down for a meal, and he quietly joined them while sending his meal request to the waiter. Luon had memorized the menu already and tasted almost all of the available meals. His preferred dinner was carbonara with a side of the soup of the day as a surprise factor, as well as the featured meal of the day.

Today’s features were beef soup, and surprisingly Shumais dipped in hoisin sauce, it was more of a tasty snack rather than a complete meal, or so he thought until the waiter came in with a plate filled with numerous amount of Shumais stacked into the shape of a six-story pyramid.

While the group was eating and discussing some strategies Arisa, Belle and Shizuka came to eat dinner. The two groups met face to face, and they jointly shared the same table.

It wasn’t because there was no other table to sit at. Instead, the girls joined the table to reduce the amount of admiring stares from the bystanders as half of them shot daggers of hate towards Luon’s group.

Luon’s group didn’t care about the stares and joyfully conversed with the girls about what they did the previous days on the ship.

“So all you guys did was sit on the Vortex Container all day for the last few days?” said Belle.

Luon nodded as Arisa advised them, “No matter how much you train in the Vortex Container if your real body doesn’t get proper exercise in real life than it would be difficult to maneuver in reality. With that in mind how about, we go spar each other right now?”

A spar with the girls? It seemed more like a one-sided beating if they had a team battle then the girl’s side were more than likely win because each one of them owned an NG-Arms. Fortunately, Shizuka and Belle didn’t feel like fighting, and so they suggested to do one versus one matches with Arisa.

After their dinner, the group headed to one of the training arena’s located on the starship, with walls reinforced with special materials as long as the force didn’t exceed the equivalent to a combat level 80’s charged up attack the room would stay intact. Otherwise, it would cause huge problems.

The bystander stands were protected by a glass mirror, and the ceiling of the room was naturally lit by the stars outside. Rather than fighting Luon thought, it was the perfect place for stargazing.

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Arisa sat in the arena and faced Bendan who energetically volunteered himself for battle. Bendan wanted to work out the food stored in his stomach right now, and it was the perfect time to do so if it wasn’t for the fact he was brutally beaten in the first few minutes.

The moment Arisa equipped her NG-Arms, it was merely a one-sided slaughter, staring at Bendan’s defeated figure Tyron and Gizmo completely gave up fighting Arisa. Why should they fight a lost cause? They weren’t masochists as they glared at their friend Bendan who was beaten senseless. He started to laugh hysterically at his defeat. Secretly they thought he was a masochist for sure.

Luon, on the other hand, was excited to fight Arisa. They fought before without NG-Arms, and it only turned out to be a long draw. If Arisa had used her NG-Arms back then, he would have had no chance in winning, but now he has an NG-Arms and battling Arisa would be the perfect time to increase his compatibility with his new equipment.

Luon replaced Bendan in the arena with his NG-Arms equipped and the two of them stared down for a few moments in anticipation on the others first move.

They both were equipped with their NG-Arms and a silver standard training sword. With combat levels equivalent to a level 70 soldier, if they were to use their personalized sword, there was no guarantee that the outcome of the match wouldn’t damage it. To do last minute repairs was very troublesome which is why they both used the freely provided training swords.

It was unknown who made a move first as they simultaneously stepped in and swung as the blades clash causing a resounding echo to hit every corner of the room.

Overhand strikes, sideway strikes, the two continuous slashed and hacked at each other while dodging each slash by merely a few centimeters.

Luon had used his [Steps of Starlight] technique consistently to speed up his movement while Arisa countered with her movement technique as bloody particles emitted from her feet.

The arena was already brightly lit by the stars outside, and the rapid strikes cause their swords to wear down as glittering pieces of sword shavings began to fall slowly. With the reflection of the stars outside the shards shined brightly as numerous slashes appeared and disappeared in front of Luon’s and Arisa’s vision. However, they were too focused on each others movement to pay attention to the marvelous sight.

Within a minute they had already traded over a hundred blows and much more if they didn’t avoid a few attacks. The match slowly got more intense as neither of them backed off more than a meter apart, in and out they went as afterimages appeared around them.

However, the faster they went, the harder it was for them to react to the others movement it was as if they could predict the future as the swords swiftly hacked away. Arisa began to emit a bloody aura as her berserk skill started to activate, soon enough Luon was barely managing because of his Eye of Insight skill managed to see a glimpse at Arisa’s future movement by a millisecond ahead.

As for the bystanders they were already shocked at the high-level combat before them. It was so advanced rather than a match it seemed like a work of art, a sword dance between two warriors lost in their world. Gizmo couldn’t help but take a picture using the BMPU’s highly advanced camera system.

It was as if time froze on the picture as one could see the glittering sword shards frozen in the air, Arisa with a blossoming smile as bloody red particles encased her, Luon smiling greatly as his body released a silvery glimmer caused by the advanced version of the [Steps to Starlight] skill. They both posed in an offensive position as if the next move would end the match with a sword clash. One could see the torque on the body on the two of them. They both had the full intentions of hacking the other.

The battle continued even more, however, the mind and eye can see, but Luon’s body couldn’t keep up with the high-pace actions. Luon laments his weak body foundations as Arisa took the opportunity to stab into Luon’s stomach.

Arisa was smiling even more at this godsend opportunity. However, Luon didn’t throw in the towel yet. With a smirk, he bellowed, “Transform!”

Luon’s body emitted a flash and Arisa continued to attack. A screeching reaction occurred as Arisa was shocked at how Luon was suddenly equipped with a fiendish black armor that made him look like a dark hero.

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Arisa whose attack faltered under Luon’s armor stepped back before Luon could counter her failed attempt, but Luon had let her go intentionally.

He glances at the energy levels left on his NG-Arms and found that over a third of the energy had already been consumed. Luon knew eventually he would lose as the crystallized material used to fuel the suit was the cheap budget version with a lesser capacity compared to Arisa’s.

Once his NG-Arms powers off Luon’s combat level would be back to level 50, like a sheep he would be slaughtered one-sidedly to the big bad vampire.

Luon only had one chance to make this work as he approached Arisa with the full intentions of ending the bout. Arisa who noticed that also engaged in combat and the two dashed forward at each other causing a second round of sword clashes.

However, this series of sword clashes ended short as once again Arisa managed to break through Luon’s guard and her slash was just about to collide with armor once again. However, right before it, the attack hit Luon he activated a specialty skill that Zekar had taught him. The ability that was engraved inside the armor and the cost of it were massive.

“Nix!” yelled Luon as the armor glowed silver. Millions of tiny particles shot out from the exhaust from the NG-Arms and Luon suddenly disappeared in front of Arisa. Shocked at what just happened Arisa battle senses tingled as she reactively blocked her back, but it was too late! Luon attacked at speed beyond recognition, and her body was knocked down. Fortunately, the arena systems mitigated most of the damages done to contestants by substituting the target with several life support statues around the arena.

An exploding sound echoed as Arisa’s life support system was shattered, if she were in actual combat, she would have died from the attack. The life support statue crumbled signaling the end of the match.

Everyone was shocked, NG-Arms were already powerful enough, and Luon’s had suddenly powered up, according to match data his combat level skyrocketed to 80 for a few seconds before plummeting downwards.

Shizuka couldn’t help but eye Luon’s NG-Arms, it seems to have more hidden features than what she anticipated. What was the core engine used to cause its powered mode? How was it made? She wanted just to run up and knock Luon out to examine it, but couldn’t bear doing so due to her pride.

Luon was exhausted his power suit made a disturbing crackling sound as the energy source shattered. When he was testing this feature out, Zekar strictly warned and lectured him about the excessive destruction of the crystalized energy source.

Completely satisfied with the outcome of the battle Luon couldn’t help but grin, he unequipped his NG-Arms as he lends a hand to the fallen Arisa who was still shocked at her loss. Seeing the figure of Luon smiling in front of her she couldn’t help but smile back. She accepted her loss as she held onto Luon’s hand to help pull her up. If they were to fight again, Luon would lose as his NG-Arms needed some maintenance while Arisa’s was still functional, but they were both tired. The two of them had different expressions, Luon smiled in satisfaction while Arisa smiled with desire, she may have lost this round, but she was determined to win the next one.

With a round of applause from the audience, the sparring session ended as many benefited from the spectacle of this elegant sword dance under the starlight.

Days passed, and the ship finally arrived on the outer perimeter of the planet filled with Inzektors. Captain Waver stood in front of the group of students explaining the details of the survival training.

“As many of you already know the goal is to survive 14 days, whatever you do in between doesn’t matter to us. Do not forget that we are watching you and remember, don’t break any of the rules we set down,” said Captain Waver as he projected a holographic display listing several rules that the students have to follow.

There were several rules, but the major ones were that they weren’t able to kill each other, but they were allowed to steal food from each other. The rules also stated that students could create safe zones as scattered around the planet were ruins of resource points which starting supplies were dropped at.

Real-time construction on outposts is a crucial skill in the battlefield so students were awarded extra points if they could secure one.

“Alright, you may begin,” Captain Waver said to initiate the start of the event.

Group by group entered the portal and eventually it was their turn to go.

Luon and his friends stepped into the platform and closed their eyes while Zythos sneakily signaled to his collaborators, they quickly changed the random location mode into a fixed destination, and back when the transfer was completed, nobody had noticed this change.

Luon who felt the change in his surroundings opened his eyes only to find a scene he didn’t expect.

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