Qi Long was the spokesperson for Ling Lan's group — since Qi Long did not ask, that meant Ling Lan's group had no interest in the proceedings. But just because Ling Lan's group had no interest did not mean that Wu Jiong himself was not interested.
"I heard that the seventh grade virtual world barrier-crossing award was taken away by the academy of another planet. When the dean found out, he was really, really angry, so he called an emergency meeting now with all the teachers." The student informant had a dejected expression on his face; he too had been eagerly anticipating the extracurricular activity this time. "Now it looks like there won't be time for them to take us hunting outdoors."
The student informant had answered so readily and in so much detail, because the one who asked had been Wu Jiong. He was the team leader of one of the three major teams in Class-A, after all. If the student could gain Wu Jiong's favour and thus get the opportunity to join his team, then he would be set.
Although there were quite a few other established teams in Class-A, there were only three teams which the currently still teamless students really wanted to join. As Li Yingjie's team was now full, his was out — but the few remaining slots on the other two teams were being eyed closely by those students.
Ling Lan's team was very strict in their requirements, due to having only one final slot left. Everyone knew that, to enter Ling Lan's team, the difficulty level was scarily high — not only did one's talent have to be exceptional, one also had to be some sort of an all-rounder. Those who knew their own limitations decisively put their sights on Wu Jiong's team. At the very least, Wu Jiong's requirement for joining was not as high as Ling Lan's team's. And furthermore, his team had two slots remaining, so no matter what, the chances for success were naturally much higher. This caused Wu Jiong's team to receive much more attention than Ling Lan's team in Class-A.
"Which planet's scout academy managed to pull that off?" asked Ye Xu, extremely curious.
"It was planet Azure!" The student informant's answer stunned all the students in the class. Planet Azure was a third-rate planet — the resources they had there were N-levels worse than theirs here ... could it be that an unparalleled prodigy had appeared there?
When Li Yingjie, who had initially been unconcerned by the discussion, heard the term 'planet Azure', his face paled drastically, as if thinking of something. He hurriedly asked, "Do you know who the people who crossed the barrier were?" A team was necessary to pass the barrier mission, which was why Li Yingjie asked this question.
The student informant shook his head regretfully, "I only overheard these few things when I passed by two teachers discussing the issue on the way here. I heard that the planet Azure students pushed through the barrier before 5am this morning, successfully becoming the first team to pass the barrier mission this year. After that, I didn't dare to stay back and listen anymore, so I'm not clear on who those people are."
"For the details, the teachers would probably know." The other students also began noisily discussing the matter.
Right then, a clear voice rang out from the classroom door, "That's right, I indeed do know ..." It turned out that their Special Class-A homeroom teacher Cheng Yuanhang had arrived.
"Good day, Teacher Cheng!" Seeing Cheng Yuanhang enter the classroom, all the students obediently returned to their seats. They then stood primly at attention and greeted their teacher.
Cheng Yuanhang indicated for the students to sit down, and then he announced, "I have two things to tell you all. Firstly, do not worry, the original plans for outdoor hunting will not change. We will be leaving today as planned!" Cheng Yuanhang's words caused the entire class to cheer in unison; mind you, they had been waiting a really long time for this day.
"However, this time round, your hunting quota and difficulty level will be much harder compared to that of the previous years. All of this will depend on your performance on the field, even the smallest quota must be more than half times more than the previous years' quota." Cheng Yuanhang's following words raised a furore among the Class-A students — what was the meaning of this?
"In other words, your class's outdoor hunting duration will be extended to 5 or 6 months ..." added Cheng Yuanhang. This drew a new wave of indignant objections from the students — yes, they had wanted to experience the thrill of some bloody sport, but they had never wanted to remain butchers for so long on a primitive planet!
"Teacher, why did you all decide to make things this way?" asked Ye Xu angrily. This way of doing things was obviously a little unfair by academy standards. In the academy, it was permitted to raise objections, as long as you backed it up with logic and, of course, strength.
"Why?" Cheng Yuanhang's expression darkened. He slammed his palm onto his desk, the loud noise instantly silencing the clamouring students in the class. The classroom became dead silent.
"Ever since our Central Scout Academy was established, we have never once lost the seventh grade virtual world barrier-crossing award, but this year, we lost it. Before we could pass the barrier mission, the scout academy of the distant third-rate planet Azure broke through it ... This is a disgrace for our Central Scout Academy, and also a disgrace upon you all ..."
At this point, Cheng Yuanhang's tone eased slightly, "Have you all considered the reason? Why we failed? Is it because we have been blinded by the glories of our past, so we did not see the relentless pursuit of the other scout academies? Today, at the group meeting of the academy teachers, what the dean said was right — we thrive by strife and die by leisure! If we do not wake up, our Central Scout Academy will lose its former glory, and become eliminated by the changing of the times."
"So, we've decided to take this experience to heart and no longer take it easy ... So, congratulations, from now onwards, you all shall receive the full force of our education. We won't let you all have time to think of any nonsense ... we will make sure to squeeze out every bit of latent potential you have in you." Cheng Yuanhang's words caused a chill to settle deep in the bones of the students; it felt as if a great calamity was upon them.
Ling Lan propped up her chin with one hand, a trace of a smile on her lips. She had long felt that the academy was setting their overall standards too low for the students. This was also one of the reasons why her strength just kept getting further and further from that of these children. Luckily, Qi Long and the others had been hanging around her, and so had not been held back by the academy's education standards.
Still, Ling Lan also understood the academy's caution. After all, at this age, the children were still growing — if they went overboard with training, it may cause long-term damage to their bodies. The academy did not dare gamble with that.
"So that's why we will be getting additional training on all fronts." Wu Jiong understood now. He threw a glance at the pleased look on Ling Lan's face, and somehow understood a bit better why the other was so exceptional. His training load was probably much much more than theirs ... if that was really the case, then he too would not lose to the other.
"Yes, from now on, the Central Scout Academy shall increase the mission load of every grade by two times or more. If the seventh grade of next year loses again, then we'll continue increasing the load," declared Cheng Yuanhang with a cold smile. This was the academy's decision. If they wanted to have better days, then they would have to hope that next year's seventh grade would do better.
"Teacher Cheng, do you know exactly which people were on that team which passed the barrier mission?" Li Yingjie could hold back no longer, speaking up to ask what he was most concerned about.
Cheng Yuanhang stared at him with a half-smile. Li Yingjie felt as if his thoughts had been read by the teacher, but he really wanted to know the answer. If his elder cousin brother was among those people, that would mean that his hopes of replacing his cousin as the first inheritor in line was almost impossible.
"You don't have to concern yourself over this. All you need to do is work hard to complete the assignments given by the academy." Cheng Yuanhang did not give a straight answer, instead advising Li Yingjie to focus on his own issues.
"I only want to know whether there is someone called Li Mulan among them," asked Li Yingjie doggedly.
Cheng Yuanhang's brows furrowed. He glanced at the somewhat emotional Li Yingjie, and thought for a moment before saying, "There was indeed one person with the surname Li." Li Yingjie's face drained of colour in an instant, but then Cheng Yuanhang continued to say, "But I remember that that person was called Li Lanfeng!"
"Li Lanfeng?! It's fine if it's not him." Li Yingjie's face regained its usual complexion. If it wasn't the name that he feared it would be, then it didn't matter who broke past the barrier.
"Alright, if there are no questions, everyone follow me to the plaza to assemble," said Cheng Yuanhang, seeing that the students were mostly settled. With that, he brought the grade four Class-A students to the central plaza of the Central Scout Academy.
Along the way, jet-rollers filled the skies — everyone was riding their jet-rollers to follow their homeroom teachers to the central plaza. Ling Lan thought to herself, perhaps this was why jet-rollers were prized so highly in the academy — when it came to this sort of mass movement, it would have been rather inefficient without the help of jet-rollers.
At this moment, there were already quite a lot of people at the plaza. All the grade four students would be going out to hunt today; only the areas they were assigned to were different.
Ling Lan abruptly noticed that the quiet skies directly above the plaza were filled with countless small shuttle-like spaceships. This scene made Ling Lan feel once again as if she were inside a science fiction world ... well, fine, her whole existence right now was totally a science fiction.
Ling Lan saw something that wasn't usually here around the plaza — there were several large hovering platforms. Right then, on some of the platforms, there were already some students who had arrived earlier. From the platforms, the students were boarding those little spaceships one by one.
Once everyone was inside, the doors of the spaceship would close, turning it into an airtight elliptical shuttle. Then, with a whoosh, the spaceship would zoom off. That instantaneous burst of speed was definitely as high as 0.5 mach.
Cheng Yuanhang brought them to a platform relatively taller and wider than the rest. The moment all the students were on the platform, a large red-painted spaceship flew over and stopped before them.
On the body of the spaceship, the words 'Central Scout Academy Special Class-A' were actually painted on it. Ling Lan sweatdropped — did Class-A even have its own exclusive spaceship? Looks like the academy had really invested a lot in making sure the students felt the distinction of being strong.
The interior of the spaceship was very large. There were three round tables in the centre, and positioned angularly around each of the tables were six padded armchairs. The other seats were all scattered haphazardly around the three large round tables. Clearly, the academy also wanted to emphasize the elevated status of the strong even within the class itself, pushing the concept of survival of the fittest to the very max.
The students lined up and boarded the ship in an organised fashion. Those students who entered first but were not from the three major teams all consciously left the seats around the three tables open.
Ling Lan was the first member of the three major teams to enter. With one look, she gleaned what this arrangement was all about. Without any reservations, she sat in one of the armchairs around one of the tables; Qi Long and the others of her team followed her lead and sat around the same table.
This was their position. Within the scout academy, there was no such thing as giving way out of modesty; to do so would just invite contempt.Ey, Mulan! :D The Chinese characters used here are more masculine characters though, as befitting a guy's name. Chinese names are tricky; it's hard to tell by sound alone whether someone is a girl or a boy. The actual written characters are better indicators, as there are particular characters that are more common in female or male names.