Chapter 29: At the Last Lap.
The lieutenant calmed his excitement and carefully observed the performance of the ten children on the screen. Finally, his face split into a satisfied smile: "End their exam and let them come out."
The officer responsible for Ling Lan's group felt uncertainty in his heart and asked: "How should I score them then?"
The lieutenant angrily glared: "You still need me to teach you? How much time did it take for them to complete the exam? How does their physical strength look?"
The officer's eyes flashed: "I understand, sir."
At Ling Lan's place, the ten children stubbornly continued to run a few more laps. During this time, the initially tough acting Qilong and Luo Lang had become exhausted. Carrying a person while running and running without burden were two different concepts. They only ran a few laps before they felt that their physical strength had vanished. Originally, they thought they could run for another ten or twenty laps, but now they didn't dare to be so sure anymore.
Out of the ten kids, the one who was in the best state was Ling Lan. In fact, it should be said that she never even felt tired because, since the start of the exam, she had been running Yangshen cultivation.
Ever since Ling Lan realized its benefits during the strength examination, Ling Lan suspected that Yangshen cultivation still had some secrets she didn't know. So she decided that during the running exam, she would try using Yangshen cultivation again. Evidence proved that her decision was correct – even running to this point, her body was still full of energy. Her entire body's data maintained the same state as the start of the test.
This data was provided by Xiao Si. The moment Ling Lan discovered something new, Xiao Si pitter-pattered over. He claimed that it was to help Ling Lan research Yangshen cultivation, to be a qualified contracted growth assistant…In truth, he was bored out of his mind from not being able to go onto the virtual network and wanted to find something to pass the time.
Nevertheless, with the help of Xiao Si, Ling Lan was able to quickly analyze the secret of Yangshen cultivation. It turned out that not only could Yangshen cultivation restore the consumption of energy, but could also repair any damage within the body and maintain the user at their best condition for a long time.
Of course, Xiao Si also noted that for such a balance between energy generation and consumption to occur was because Ling Lan's run didn't consume much energy. If Ling Lan carried a person on her back while running like Qilong and Luo Lang, the balance likely wouldn't be maintained and she would end up consuming a bit of her physical strength.
Despite that, Xiao Si told Ling Lan to not feel discouraged. As long as she continued practicing Yangshen cultivation, the amount of energy she could recover would grow more and more. If practiced to the end, it was likely that she wouldn't even have to be afraid of any energy consumption at all (of course this result would only appear decades later…Xiao Si decisively erased this last sentence).
The physically fine Ling Lan saw the downpour of sweat on Qilong and Luo Lang's foreheads and noticed that their pace had slowed down by a lot. She knew that problems had appeared in their bodies and they likely couldn't be able to continue. Ling Lan hesitated – perhaps she should give them a hand? But, she was afraid of performing too well. Attracting notice from observant people wasn't good.
Not to mention, Ling Lan, with the help of Xiao Si, made her external appearance similar to Han Jijun. She looked to be sweating profusely and was gasping for breath. After all, she had been helping the boy with the worst physical quality in the group. Although she didn't consume as much energy as Qilong who was carrying someone, but helping someone still used more energy than running without a burden.
The devil and angel in Ling Lan's mind started fighting; however, before they could determine the winner, an external event helped Ling Lan make a decision.
Luo Lang pointed to the side and shouted in surprise: "I saw the sign, there's only one more lap left!"
Luo Lang's words were like a shot of vitality medicine, causing the children who were having a hard time keeping up suddenly rise in spirit.
Ling Lan glanced towards the direction that Luo Lang's finger was pointing at and saw an examiner holding up a display with the Arabic numeral 1. This meant that there was only one final lap.
Seeing this, Han Jijun quickly cheered: "There's only one lap last, keep going! Absolutely don't be left behind!"
"Yes!" Including Ling Lan, the rest of the group yelled loudly. It was the final lap, no matter what, they have to fight.
Han Xuya took a deep breath before shouting: "Qilong, let me down."
"What's the matter?" Qilong asked in surprise.
"The last lap, I can do it." How could Han Xuya not feel Qilong's fatigue. She couldn't affect Qilong's performance for her own sake. He was someone who was going to enter the Special A class. On the final lap, even if she ran to the point of fainting, she had to run by herself and couldn't hold Qilong back.
On the other side, Luo Chao also had Luo Lang put her down for almost the same reason. She also didn't want to affect her brother's score. They wanted Qilong and Luo Lang to speed up and fight for the best time.
Han Jijun immediately discouraged them: "We've made it to the final lap. If we can't reach the end together, then our cooperation from before will have no point. Not to mention, you should know the requirements to become a qualified soldier — never give up on a single comrade!"
Han Jijun's words startled everyone; however, a few quick witted children managed to understand immediately. Han Xuya and Luo Chao, who originally wanted to refuse, changed their minds. Han Xuya spoke anxiously: "Qilong, quickly run while pulling my hand. Quick." Since they decided to run to the end together, then she couldn't waste a single minute or second.
Thus in Ling Lan's group, those who were physically better helped pull those who were physically poor. Like this, the kids desperately finished the final lap arm in arm. And with Ling Lan, she quietly pulled along two of the most physically weak kids. Han Jijun gave her a grateful look. Ling Lan's help allowed him to run by himself. His physical strength was close to collapse, and if he helped someone, he wasn't confident that he could finish the final lap.
Outside of the virtual environment room was an open-air tea lounge. Many examiners were sitting in groups of twos and threes drinking tea while chatting. The exam lasted for nearly three to four hours, thus examiners couldn't blindly stay behind in the room and wait. Usually, they would come here to have a cup of hot tea or coffee to help kill time and maybe chat with a few comrades they were familiar with.
The examiner in charge of room 72 was chatting with several familiar comrades. Just as the chat reached it's peak, the contact device* on his wrist went off.
He tapped the receiver button and the contact device flashed silver, a virtual screen appearing in front of him. At the same time, the officer that had originally been observing room 72 appeared on the screen.
"Notice, room 72 candidates' assessment is almost complete, please be prepared."
The examiner was surprised: "They almost completed the assessment? In less than two hours? Is this real or fake?" He couldn't be blamed for his disbelief. The Scout Academy’s third exam had never been completed within two hours. Only children with weak bodies and fainted halfway would be expelled from the room in such a short period of time.
However, the ten children's status on his contact device didn't show the red dot signifying that they passed out. Even the yellow dot that indicated collapse from energy consumption didn't appear. They all had green dots that signified that the children were conscious and still had physical energy.
The officer in charge of watching room 72 saw the look of disbelief in the examiner's face and suddenly laughed. He kindly reminded: "You should go quickly, otherwise it'll be too late. Oh right, the group is full of good kids, you won't be disappointed."
The officer in charge of room 72 didn't give the examiner a chance to ask questions before he interrupted the connection. Thinking of the other person's expression of complete shock, he was happy. He suddenly felt that coming here to monitor these children wasn't as boring as he thought.
The examiner speechlessly looked at the dark screen. Couldn't this non-commissioned officer at least clarify it a bit more?
The other examiners heard their conversation and looked at him in surprise. Of course, they also had an expression of curiosity and need to gossip.
"Got it. Once I figure out what's going on, I'll tell you guys. Right now I'm going back to work." The examiner stood up despondently before calmly grabbing his military cap off the table. Once he put it on, he slowly walked towards room 72.
Ya de, he hoped the kids inside won't let him down, ah! The examiner suppressed his growing excitement…Alright, in truth the calm from before was just him pretending.
Translated by somnious, unedited
TL's Note: So many people picked Twilight Empire…so Twilight Empire it is…
*It literally translates into communicator/contact device and I'm not sure how to deal with the term. It's basically this world's ID and everything related to contact outside of the virtual reality network rolled into a single band on your wrist. I'm still debating on what I should call this in the future ahhh.