"Dammit, I just knew this would happen!" Ling Lan swore loudly. She could almost see the faint smoke rising from her mouth, ugh ... she was about to be completely cooked by electricity.
Unfortunately, before she could get over the pain and numbness left by this electrocution, the scene before her shifted abruptly. She was brought along with her mecha back to the start of the obstacle course. And then, the learning space did not give Ling Lan any time to rest, immediately restarting the 3-minute countdown once more.
Seeing this, Ling Lan finally couldn't help but curse silently. FUCK!
After that, it was another flurry of frantic movements to control the rabbit mecha, to send it lunging out desperately. Perhaps tragedy likes to repeat itself, for Ling Lan had only taken a few hops when she once again slammed into a wall. And then she bounced back, and hit the wall again, and bounced back, and ... in the end, she still hit the wall again ...
The image before Ling Lan was a constant loop of falling and rolling around — the result of all this wall-slamming was a dizzy head and spinning eyes. Once again, Ling Lan was experiencing the feelings of the unfortunate rabbit in the folktale of 'waiting for a rabbit by a tree stump'!
Failure, followed by yet more failure! Electrocution after electrocution, restart after restart ... Ling Lan had no idea how many times she had restarted this mission anymore. She estimated that she hadn't even managed to get 50 metres into the tunnel so far. And what's worse, she didn't even know how long this blasted tunnel was in total.
The reason to blame for Ling Lan's constant wall-slamming was that the tunnel was really just too narrow. There were times when Ling Lan clearly felt she had not made any mistakes with the controls, and even the screen display was telling her that her jump coordinates were in a straight line — but unfortunately, the mecha still somehow ended up slamming into the wall. This caused Ling Lan to become rather discouraged, frustration rearing up within her heart.
Goddammit! This tunnel just did not allow for any bit of error in her controls — was this the standard a newbie should have? Ling Lan, having been electrocuted to within an inch of her life, was filled with simmering indignation. Hells, it was like she thought, nothing good ever came from men who liked to smile ...
After god-knows how many failures, Ling Lan's spirit was worn down to the brink. After one last electrocution, she was summarily thrown out of the mission space, and Ling Lan blearily found herself in the great hall of the learning space once again.
The hall was no longer as messy as when Ling Lan had first arrived; Little Four had tidied up the floor. When he saw Ling Lan appear suddenly before him, he was startled by her appearance and yelled, "Boss, you were electrocuted?!"
Ling Lan's head was heavy — she only stared uncomprehendingly at Little Four in response.
Seeing this, Little Four couldn't help but sigh and shake his head. With a sympathetic flick of his finger, a large full-length mirror appeared before Ling Lan.
In the reflection of the mirror, a completely black figure looked out blankly at them. There were even wisps of black smoke still wafting off the figure, the only break in the black being the whites of the figure's eyes ... oh, right, the figure's teeth were still white too! Ling Lan bared her teeth at the mirror, revealing her set of straight white teeth. Contrasted with the black, her teeth gleamed even whiter than usual.
Not just that, Ling Lan's hair was all standing up, puffed up in curls. They reminded Ling Lan of the instant noodles of her past life — really, her appearance was as bizarre as one could imagine.
"AH! Number Three, I want to kill him!" This horrible state of hers made Ling Lan scream out in frustration. Right now, she did not look one bit like the cute moe shota that she usually looked like — she was a total black phantom that had crawled out from the hearth.
Little Four smothered a laugh with his hand, "Boss, so you've met Number Three! Hehe, don't be fooled by his brash and forthright-looking face; he actually loves to play pranks on people."
Ling Lan was stunned. "You know them, Little Four?" She had always thought that Little Four belonged to a different system than the instructors, and so would not meet each other. Looks like that wasn't the case.
"Of course! There are many things I don't understand which require their help, like with those battle ... well, I just know them." Little Four had almost let the truth slip. It turned out that those moves he had helped Ling Lan modify and appropriate was actually the hard work of the instructors. Little Four had just shamelessly claimed the credit for himself.
Sensing something amiss with Little Four's words, Ling Lan stared at him suspiciously. Little Four's heart started pounding erratically, afraid that his deceit would be discovered by his boss. He quickly changed the topic, saying, "Boss, how did you end up this way?"
At Little Four's question, Ling Lan was in no mood to think more about the holes in Little Four's speech. She sighed softly and said tiredly, "Instructor Number Three gave me a mecha control mission ..." She scratched her head, mussing up her instant-noodle hair into a bird's nest, and then shouted resentfully, "Argh ...! He didn't teach me anything! Just told me to get through that crazily narrow beyond narrow tunnel within 3 minutes. How would that be possible?"
Ling Lan's words instantly made Little Four raise his little fists in anger as well. With sympathetic indignation, he said, "Yeah, how could Number Three be so unreasonable? No matter what, he should give Boss some time to adapt!"
"Er ... actually, he did in fact give me a week's time to finish it," admitted Ling Lan awkwardly.
"Then, Boss, how did you end up so messed up?" Wasn't it just training? Why did it look like she had had to go through a mountain of swords and swim through a sea of flames?
Gloomily, Ling Lan said, "Though it was training, every time I failed, I would be electrocuted!"
Little Four's eyes popped out in disbelief, and he muttered, "How can that be, electrocuted just for failing in training? When did the system become so strict?" That said, he cast a pitying glance at Ling Lan. "Boss, you're in big trouble. If you fail the mission this time, I think you'll lose a layer of skin even if you don't die. "
Hearing this, Ling Lan's spirits drooped even more. "Yeah, I didn't expect to be electrocuted so badly just for failing in training ... if I can't pass this mission a week later ..." Ling Lan shuddered violently, the sense of doom in her heart becoming even heavier.
The learning space's punishments came in many bizarre forms, but every type would stay with you for the rest of your life ... no one would be willing to go through it again if they could help it. Ling Lan had failed N-times under Instructor Number Five's tutelage, and so had experienced a multitude of mind-breaking punishments. All in all, she really never wanted to experience them ever again.
"But it's really odd ..." Little Four sat on a step, face cupped in his hands as he said in a confused tone, "Since you were given a time limit for completion, why would you still be punished after failing during training, Boss? This doesn't seem to match up with the system's settings ..."
Little Four was the most familiar with the system of the learning space — although the system was very strict, its every step would be executed strictly according to the guidelines of the learning space. Could there be some other reason for this deviation in behaviour?
Hearing what Little Four had to say, Ling Lan couldn't help but wonder, "Could it be that Instructor Number Three was intentionally messing with me?"
Little Four threw a disdainful glance at his boss. "The instructors are only in charge of assigning missions. They don't have the jurisdiction to give out punishment ..."
But Ling Lan persisted, "Then what's up with Instructor Number Five's punishments? The degree of perversity involved is absolutely a sign of his work."
Little Four explained, "That's because Boss had already failed the mission. Among all the punishments offered by the system, the instructor has the right to choose which one is implemented."
Ling Lan understood then. However, this just deepened the mystery — why would the system punish her for no reason when she only failed in training?
Little Four searched through the rules of the learning space, and finally found a regulation that somewhat fit this strange scenario. "Boss, when you were training, did you do anything against the rules?"
During training, if the host did anything the system viewed as breaking its rules, the system would implement appropriate punishment according to the severity of the violation!
Ling Lan gave it some serious thought, and felt that other than controlling the mecha to jump and slam into walls, she really had not done anything else. Could it be that the system considered her wall-slamming as the terrible sin of vandalism, and assigned punishment for it?
Ling Lan told Little Four her guess, and Little Four thumped the table in agreement. His boss's assumption made sense.
However, Little Four was extremely curious. "Boss, why did you have to jump and slam into the wall? Wouldn't it be fine if you just walked slowly?"
Ling Lan said with some embarrassment, "Isn't it all because of that 3 minute countdown timer? I wanted to speed up and quickly complete the mission, but the faster I went, the harder the mecha was to control. And once I hit a wall, the mecha would bounce around like a rubber ball, making it impossible for me to control. Ahem! In the end, I could only become a dizzy rabbit ..."
When a mecha receives a concussive force, 30% of it would be realistically reflected upon Ling Lan's body. Even if Ling Lan's body was as strong as an ox, the consecutive impacts and tumbles had still been too much for Ling Lan. Disoriented and unwell, she had thoroughly experienced what it felt like to be a rabbit slamming into a tree.
"Boss, you know very well that you won't be able to complete this mission within 3 minutes with your current ability level. So, why are you rushing it? Why don't you first familiarize yourself with the controls to get the rabbit to walk? Slow down as much as possible and work hard so you don't hit the wall. Take your time and walk through the tunnel slowly and familiarize yourself with the path. Wouldn't that be better?" Little Four just could not understand Ling Lan's decision. After all, didn't she have an entire week to figure it out? Why was she so impatient?
Ling Lan said moodily, "It's not that I don't want to! But Instructor Number Three said, if I fail there would be punishment. Also, once the time is up, I'll be brought back to the starting point. How am I supposed to get used to the tunnel ..." Suddenly, Ling Lan jerked, thinking of something. Her gaze brightened instantly.
"Thank you, Little Four!" Before Little Four could react to this outburst, Ling Lan had pulled Little Four into a hug and dropped a smacking kiss onto his soft and pink little cheek. This sudden affectionate action immediately crashed Little Four's thought processes — his two eyes were wide as saucers, and his entire body froze up.
Ling Lan did not notice that Little Four's spirit had been sent flying off by her unexpected kiss. She took a few large strides to stand once more before the doorway of mecha, and purposefully pushed it open. She needed to test her hypothesis to see whether she was right.
Entering the doorway, she saw Instructor Number Three still standing beside that rabbit mecha. Seeing Ling Lan return, Instructor Number Three said with an expression of surprise, "I thought you were only coming back tomorrow? How do you still have strength to train?"
Ling Lan said coldly, "I'm not that weak." If it really was as she thought, Instructor Number Three was really just too sly.
Instructor Number Three seemed not to see Ling Lan's dark expression. With a hearty laugh, he said, "That's great! Get into the mecha then."