Ling Lan gave an exemplary scout's salute and then turned to walk back to rejoin the other students. To their confused faces, she said, "The spars are over. Let's go back."
The Class-A students glanced at one another, uncertain whether Ling Lan had won or lost this match. Although the starship's instructor had said it was his loss, it wasn't obvious at all from the scene before them. Furthermore, Ling Lan also wasn't displaying any signs of happiness or excitement. Could it be that this was just the instructor being modest to leave some face for the students?
"What are you thinking? We still have far to go. We need to work hard once we get back." Ling Lan's words enlightened the Class-A students — looks like the opponent had really left some face for them.
Under Ling Lan's lead, the Class-A scouts gradually trickled out of the combat room, while the crew members began to gather around the instructor.
Some of the stronger crew members still had shocked expressions on their faces, still unable to believe that a child was able to match up to their instructor in terms of strength. Of course, there were also some weaker crew members who were indignant, and they broke the cold atmosphere to ask, "Sir, why didn't you teach the other a proper lesson? Why still give him face? He injured our L15!"
"Give face? Yes, face was given ... but it was he who gave me face." The instructor’s expression was dark, and he laughed coldly and said, "What a bunch of blind idiots. All of you — go into isolation for a day!" Even though he did not mind losing, it still did not feel great to have it constantly brought up by others.
The instructor's punishment caused all the present crew members to wail in misery. In particular, those crewmen who had not said anything at all felt like they had been caught in the backlash for no good reason — they could only send fierce dagger-glares at those few idiots who had spoken, but did not dare to object. This was because they understood the instructor well; he was a man that meant exactly what he said. If anyone dared to beg for mercy, the punishment would just be doubled.
The crew members automatically headed towards the designated isolation rooms of the starship. Seeing the instructor following closely behind them, one of the crew members said fawningly, "Sir, you don't have to monitor us. We will go to the isolation rooms on our own."
"I'm not monitoring you all. Rather, I'm also going into isolation for seven days," replied the instructor coldly.
"Whatever for?" exclaimed the crewman, shocked.
"If one does something wrong, one must accept the punishment. The same goes for myself." Leaving this statement behind, the instructor entered an isolation room. The crew members looked at one another in confusion, unsure what exactly the instructor had done wrong ...
When the instructor reappeared once more, the calm indifference on his face let everyone know that the instructor's strength had increased again. The initially exposed sharp edges of his power had now been sheathed, becoming almost undetectable. If he did not move to attack, it would be very easy to overlook his existence.
That's right, after isolating himself for seven days, the instructor finally progressed from the middle stage of Qi-Jin to the late stage of Qi-Jin. As for whether he would be able to enter the peak stage of Qi-Jin, or even complete the entire Qi-Jin stage, well, that depended on fate and chance, on whether there was the possibility of obtaining sudden insight.
Old Lian had once asked the instructor how he had attained a breakthrough this time. It should be known that after entering the Refinement stage, every increase in ability required a certain degree of chance and lucky coincidence. The instructor replied that this was due to that sparring match between him and Ling Lan. The force of the other's presence had let his initially stabilized plane to once again sense the possibility of a breakthrough. This was an opportunity for him, and luckily, he caught it.
There was one thing the instructor did not say, however, and that was that he suspected that, in this fight, Ling Lan had given him this helpful push on purpose. If that were true, Ling Lan's strength was very likely already at the later stages of Qi-Jin. The instructor did not dare to dwell on the idea, otherwise he would start to think that them adults were all idiotic, actually unable to match up to a 10 year old child. Thus, he buried this notion deep within his inner mind.
Still, regardless of whether Ling Lan had done it on purpose or if it was an accident, he would inscribe this kind favour onto his heart.
The sparring matches this time broke the ice between the scouts and the crew of the starship. At times, when either party had some grievance to air, they might argue verbally, and if one side found themselves losing and wanted to settle the matter with a fist fight, naturally no one would object. In this manner, by and by, the relationship between the two sides actually got better and better. Among the crew, aside from the small few who were especially petty, the majority of the men now viewed the scouts with affection and care.
Qi Long, in particular, often sought out the team leader of the Golden Scales Team, L13, for a fight. Every one of their fights was loud and vigorous — at first, some of the crew and the scouts would still cheer for their own companion, but they soon learned to ignore them. This was because these two people were the type to seek torment in their fights. They were never concerned with winning or losing, but only wanted to fight till their muscles were sore and their strength was depleted, only crawling out of the combat room with difficulty after their bodies were covered in bruises and other injuries.
Both sides quickly got used to the self-tormenting fighting style of the two, and so in the end, no one was interested in cheering them on anymore.
Still, self-destructive though the two may be, the effects of their fights were pretty good. Ling Lan could clearly sense that Qi Long's combat ability was gaining more and more of the presence of the Refinement stage — his breakthrough was within reach, all that was needed now was a catalyst.
Meanwhile, the time L13 spent sparring with Qi Long wasn't just fruitless work on his end — in contrast to Qi Long who was still looking for a catalyst to break through, L13, who had just entered the Refinement stage, used these spars to settle fully into the plane of Refinement, no longer stuck in a 'fake' Refinement stage as he had been before the spars.
Ling Lan naturally knew that there was one person on the starship who hated her deeply, and that was the one who had had his wrist broken by her, L15. Ling Lan was a cautious person, so she made Little Four monitor the other around-the-clock. Through this, Little Four unexpectedly found that L15 did not really trust L13 very much. When he found out that L13's strength had increased, the flashes of envy-jealousy-hate in his eyes when no one was looking revealed his true feelings. Although these flashes were mostly just present for an instant — L15 quickly reverting to his default bashful and harmless appearance, face filled with well-wishes — how could they escape the being known as Little Four? An ultimate cheating device capable of comprehensive 360 degrees monitoring with no blind spots — no one would be able to evade his eyes unless Little Four himself chose to neglect this person.
When Little Four told Ling Lan about his discovery, Ling Lan sighed deeply once more. As expected, those who liked to smile were all nothing good — their bellies full of 'bad water', they were truly detestable. This further cemented Ling Lan's distrust of those who smiled all the time, those who were courteous in all respects with great popularity, who gave others an impression of being a good guy. Ling Lan felt that these types of people were definitely hiding something behind their smiles, so she needed to be extremely careful when dealing with them.
In this way, a week of raucous bickering and fighting passed. Although L15's heart still held all kinds of jealousy and hate, seeing that he now had no way to target Ling Lan and the others, he could only behave, not doing anything stupid to try and harm them.
This week, after going through several spatial leaps, the starship arrived safely at their destination, a primitive planet they told outsiders was a wild and untamed planet.
After the final spatial leap, the communicators of Ling Lan and the other's had lost their locative functions. According to the starship's notification, this was because this area was one with magnetic interference, so all the locative systems on the communicators would be affected and lose their functionality. However, there was a much more advanced navigation system on board the starship, so they did not have to worry about completely losing their way.
Of course, Ling Lan knew very well that the starship's crew were lying, because Little Four told her that they had already entered an unknown planetary sector, an unlabelled location on the Federation star maps.
"As expected, a secret location. The planet we're going to is probably not as simple as we imagine it to be." Ling Lan quietly raised her guard.
The starship entered the atmospheric layer of the primitive planet. Due to the starship's alert, Ling Lan and the others were already seated with their seatbelts buckled.
The starship shuddered violently for about 10 minutes or so before finally stabilizing. Ling Lan knew then that they had successfully penetrated the planet's atmosphere, and would soon land. Sure enough, after just a short while, the starship notified them to gather their things and disembark.
Ling Lan and the others put on their backpacks and grabbed their luggage. The moment they stepped out of the ship's doors, they were stunned by the scenery before them. This was because they found that right under their feet was a small city. It turned out that the starship had parked directly on a mountain peak right in the middle of a small city. The Federation had used some advanced technological method to cut this mountain at its waist, creating a large platform of several hundred thousand square units, which provided plenty of space for the starship to land securely.
On the platform, many soldiers dressed in military uniform were directing the scouts off the ship and getting them into lines to ride the mountain top's cable car down to the city at the foot of the mountain.
When they arrived at the foot of the mountain, Ling Lan could finally see what the city looked like. The small city was extremely crude and simple. The houses were short and squat, appearing very much like the military barracks of Ling Lan's previous world. The strangest thing was that the outermost circle was not a thick and sturdy wall, but was instead an extremely tall railing made out of vertically erect posts. Was it because there was no danger here? Was that why they decided to put up a circle of posts just as a show of defense?
At the foot of the mountain, there were also soldiers to welcome them, who then brought the 50 students to an emptied camping ground. Right then, several thundering cracks sounded from not too far off, and when Ling Lan and the others turned to look, they saw a savage beast the size of an elephant stampeding towards them.
Ling Lan swiftly put down her backpack and pushed her hand into one of the bag's outer pockets to grab hold of her superior alloy short blades. The moment danger was upon them, she would be able to kill the beast immediately with the sharp blades. Meanwhile, Qi Long, Wu Jiong, Li Yingjie, Luo Lang, and Ye Xu were only a step behind Ling Lan in reacting. Almost simultaneously, they all got ready for battle. Perhaps due to Ling Lan and the others calm handling of the situation, the other students also did not panic even though their reactions were slower. Several seconds later, they were all ready to fight.
The senior officer of the military camp was observing them silently. Seeing their response he nodded in satisfaction. "The scouts this time round are much better than those from last year. Their mental fortitude are all not bad! Especially those who reacted the fastest. They aren't much worse than the soldiers under us here."
The civil officer that looked like an advisor standing beside him said smilingly, "According to the captain of the Fei Qiong, these scouts are all pretty good, with some even being abnormal prodigies."
"Don't listen to that fellow's bullshit. In his eyes, anyone with a little bit of talent are all abnormal prodigies. His judgement is really quite terrible," sneered the senior officer.
When the advisor heard what his superior said, he just smiled and stopped commenting. In truth, he had felt that the captain of the Fei Qiong seemed different than usual when he was saying this. Something had been off about him, and his eyes had contained a kind of envy-jealousy-hate within them ...
Still, since his superior didn't like this topic, then he wouldn't speak anymore on it to avoid displeasing his superior. Who asked his superior to be at odds with the captain of the Fei Qiong?
Meanwhile, at this time, on the Fei Qiong which had already departed, Old Lian cackled evilly to himself. "Shi Yunfei, this old man just won't tell you how great these kids truly are. Whether or not you find that abnormal prodigy will all depend on your luck." He had no interest in helping an old foe increase his sect's strength.This continues the whole 'black-bellied'/'black innards' idea explained in previous chapters. The 'bad water' here is also referring to plots, schemes, and evil intentions. Think sewage water, dirty and foul, and hard to see through.The author didn't specify a measurement unit.Fun fact: Fei Qiong is the name of a goddess serving the Queen Mother of the West in Chinese religion and mythology.