Li Lanfeng's attitude was only clear to one person by his side, Zhao Jun. Zhao Jun was a little bemused by it, asking, "Why? Do you have some other insight?"
Li Lanfeng lifted his head to glance at Zhao Jun, and said contemplatively, "The new cadet regiment accepted the letter of challenge in such a high-handed fashion ... it's clear to see that they have full confidence in themselves."
Zhao Jun did not think much of it. "The students from the Doha Central Scout Academy have always thought highly of themselves, somewhat blind to reality. Wasn't Zhang Jing-an exactly like this back then? Clashing with the Thunder King right from the start, and now he doesn't even dare to make a peep, tucking his tail between his legs whenever he sees the Thunder King ..."
Zhao Jun rubbed his jaw. "Right now, I really want to see the faces of those new cadets after they've been thoroughly thrashed by Leiting. Their expressions must be very interesting."
Li Lanfeng breathed out slowly and silently, then asked softly, "That aberrant who Zhang Jing-an is still so conscious about after three years — could he only be at the level of someone like Zhang Jing-an?"
At these words, Zhao Jun's expression shifted. He too recalled the secret news he had uncovered from Zhang Jing-an's faction. That aberrant was someone who Zhang Jing-an hated so much his teeth gnashed, but even so, Zhang Jing-an still had not dared to make a move, forcefully holding back his anger to watch the new cadet regiment establish itself with cold eyes ...
"Who exactly is that aberrant? I heard that the one who presented himself to accept the letter of challenge was a youth called Wu Jiong. He claimed to be Regiment Commander Wu of the new cadet regiment ... could it be him?" Zhao Jun was not very good at analysing data.
"Regiment Commander Wu? Have you ever heard of a true regiment commander being addressed with a surname attached? Only the second or third in command, those vice regiment commanders and such, would have their surnames attached to the title, for convenience of distinction!" said Li Lanfeng calmly.
A cold light flashed through Zhao Jun's eyes. "In other words, the true regiment commander of the new cadet regiment has not yet shown himself."
"Showing one's trump card right from the start, now that would be stupid," replied Li Lanfeng, "So, I have my reservations on the outcome of Leiting's operation this time."
Right then, Li Lanfeng's mind was filled with the information on this batch of new cadets he had gleaned from the S-tier of the military academy mainframe ... those were not a bunch of ordinary new cadets! If the people from Leiting underestimated them, without the Thunder King to hold down the fort, Leiting might really end up capsizing their boat in a ditch.
Of course, it would be his pleasure to see the Thunder King suffer a loss!
At this moment, Ling Lan, who was in the mecha world desperately raising her level, did not know that Leiting's letter of challenge had already been delivered into Wu Jiong's hands. However, Ling Lan had already asked the team leaders to inform their respective team members about their upcoming clash with Leiting two days ago.
Telling them served two purposes — one, was to let the regiment members know the decision of the new cadet regiment; two, to distinguish those members within their organisation who would veer with the wind 1 , only thinking to use the new cadet regiment to establish themselves. Ling Lan believed that a faction's strength laid not in numbers, but in unity — only if they were willing to share their trials and rewards equally would they be able to go far. She felt that the pressure from Leiting this time would be a great opportunity to assess the will and motivation of the members of the new cadet regiment.
As for Ling Lan's team, Qi Long and the gang would naturally follow their boss loyally. Meanwhile, Wu Jiong was extremely taken in by Ling Lan, for Ling Lan's many daring decisions had benefitted him greatly. Moreover, ten years of being schoolmates had shown Wu Jiong that Ling Lan was an extremely trustworthy person — he would never abandon any comrades that follow him. Thus, Wu Jiong was willing to fight alongside Ling Lan for a better future. He wasn't afraid — even if they lost terribly in the end, it would be a waste of their youth if they did not take wild risks!
As for Li Yingjie, even though he had always had a bit of a grudge towards Ling Lan and Qi Long, Ling Lan's strength truly left Li Yingjie speechless. Additionally, Ling Lan did not do anything to restrain Li Yingjie's temperament or personality, even outright stating that the arrogant tasks would be his responsibility. This made Li Yingjie feel deep down as if he had finally found someone who understood him. Under these circumstances, when Ling Lan asked him whether he wanted to leave the regiment, Li Yingjie had instantly refused.
Li Yingjie did not consider anything else. He only thought that since Ling Lan believed in him and trusted him, then he must live up to this trust 2 . Besides, when has the cocky Li Yingjie ever been afraid of someone? The number one faction in the military academy? So what? He, Li Yingjie, would not submit. This was his pride as a member of the first elite family of the Federation.
As for the other students from the Central Scout Academy, Ling Lan's decisions had never disappointed them before, so even though they were somewhat unsure about things this time, they were still determined to push forward or retreat alongside Boss Lan. This was because they knew that if they did not resist, they would still be seen as potential slaves by the other factions. In that case, they might as well fight it out in a gamble — after all, in their eyes, Boss Lan was extremely strong and had never failed their expectations.
Rather, it was the decision of the students from the other scout academies of Doha which surprised Ling Lan and the others. They had initially thought that a majority of these people would withdraw from the new cadet regiment, wisely choosing to protect themselves, but surprisingly, most did not want to quit, willing to advance and retreat together with the new cadet regiment. Only an extremely small number chose to quit, not even 30 people in total. Therefore, the total number of people in the new cadet regiment was still endlessly close to 500, not reduced by much. This made many factions which had wanted to see the new cadet regiment fall apart greatly disappointed ... especially Zhang Jing-an, who had wanted to take advantage of the situation to recruit people.
Of course, it had to be said that these students' decision not to withdraw, their willingness to fight with Ling Lan, had a lot to do with one man's efforts. He was the one who had joined Ling Lan's party midway during the spaceship's operation, Third Elder Brother Gao Jinyun.
During this period of time, Gao Jinyun had built up quite a reputation among the students not from the Central Scout Academy. After all, he had been the only team leader who had participated in the plan to conquer the ship who was not from the Central Academy. Under his publicity efforts, Ling Lan's image rose to lofty heights in the new cadets' minds. Even though Leiting was the number one faction in the school, in these new cadets' eyes, that Boss Lan, who was strong enough to 'defeat' the captain, was no weaker than Leiting's regiment commander, the Thunder King. And this was the main reason why they were willing to support Ling Lan in this clash.
Their way of thinking was undeniably extremely naive, exactly like that of a newbie ... but newborn calves are not afraid of tigers 3 , and sometimes, what looked like a reckless action would turn out to be a momentous turn capable of changing one's fate.
That night, Wu Jiong and the others brought the letter of challenge right away to Ling Lan's villa to pass it to her.
Ling Lan sat on the sofa in the hall and calmly opened the letter. When she saw the contents of the challenge, the corner of her lips quirked up involuntarily. "Sure enough, their challenge is one of physical skills! This is our chance."
Wu Jiong's expression did not ease by much. "They will definitely send the combat experts of the higher grades, perhaps even seniors of the 6th year. They are older than us by five years. Five years' time is enough to pull apart from us by a whole realm." Wu Jiong was currently only at Refinement stage — if the opponent sent only those from Qi-Jin stage, they would lose for certain if they only relied on Qi Long and Ling Lan.
"Not necessarily!" replied Ling Lan decisively.
"How so?" asked Wu Jiong uncomprehendingly.
"Jijyun, can you find the course curriculum for all six years of our mecha piloting specialization?" Ling Lan abruptly turned her head to ask Han Jijyun.
Although Han Jijyun was not sure why Ling Lan would ask about this, he still nodded and began looking up the course info of the military academy on his communicator. In the end, he connected his communicator to the largest virtual projection system of the villa walls, to display the contents of his search.
"Wu Jiong, take a look, what do we have to learn in our six years here?" said Ling Lan, pointing at the info displayed on the screen.
Wu Jiong cast a baffled look at Ling Lan, but still strode forwards without any objections. He scanned the screen quickly and was struck with realisation. "So that's how it is. In our six years, there really aren't many physical skills courses!"
"That's right. In our six years here, the military academy focuses on cultivating our mecha piloting skills, and not our physical combat skills. Thus, the upper years would not have put much attention and effort on physical combat skills, so the gap between us and the seniors should not be as wide as you might imagine ..." Ling Lan stated her thoughts. "This is also why I believe we have a chance. In terms of physical combat, I believe the students of our Central Academy are definitely the best," said Ling Lan with steely conviction.
"Yep, Boss, you're right," Qi Long was the first to respond enthusiastically. Although the others did not say anything, the initial worry and grimness in their eyes had faded, and their gazes began to shine.
Qi Long and the others had regained their confidence so swiftly because Ling Lan's words were not pure consolation, but rooted in truth. Compared to the other scout academies, the Central Scout Academy was undoubtedly one which placed the most emphasis on physical combat skills. It could be said that among the exceptional combat experts within the military academy right now, a large portion were from the Central Scout Academy ... only a handful were from the scout academies from other planets.
Of course, good physical combat skills did not equate to good mecha piloting skills. As mentioned previously, the talent for mecha piloting was different from the talent needed for physical combat, which was why those with good combat talent may not necessarily become excellent mecha operators. This was also why Zhang Jing-an and his group had been finding it harder and harder to thrive within the military academy.
Mind you, from the second year of admission to the academy onwards, after the cadets officially become mecha operators, the competition between students was no longer centred on physical combat, but on mecha operated combat.
"But, even if we survive this time, what if other organisations come after us?" Although Wu Jiong now had confidence, he was still worried about the future of the new cadet regiment. If those other factions came after them one after another, even if they were made of iron, they would eventually be beaten down.
"Don't worry. After we win this time, the other factions will not come after us," said Ling Lan evenly.
"Why?" asked Wu Jiong.
"If even the first faction Leiting cannot take us down on physical skills, can they do it?" replied Ling Lan, "I reckon that even if they challenge us again, it will definitely be after we officially become mecha operators. That time will truly be our most difficult time. Not only will we have to fend off Leiting's revenge, the other factions will also be waiting to strike."
The Thunder King would not allow the new cadet regiment that had sullied the reputation of Leiting to continue existing. For some reason, Ling Lan actually recalled those words of [No Mecha Unrepaired] — the Thunder King was not someone who could be easily reasoned with ...
Although Ling Lan's tone was dark and heavy, her face displayed no sign of pressure, calm as ever as she said, "However, at that time, we will no longer be freshmen. Two years' time is enough for us to gather our strength."
Only then did Ling Lan look towards Wu Jiong and say, "Of course, this period of time won't be easy for us. We'll need to raise our mecha piloting skills as quickly as possible. Otherwise, two years later, lacking strength, we will still become fish meat on a chopping board, free for anyone to slice and dice."见风使舵: Original being 'steer depending on the wind', which means to go whichever way the wind blows. In other words, fair-weather members who only want to stick around for the good times. T/C: Awww... Li Yingjie, you've grown up so much. 初生牛犊不怕虎: Exactly as translated. They are young and do not know any better, fearless in their ignorance.