Sure enough, after a flurry of rapid attacks Qi Long was the first to slow down, as the explosion of energy brought on by his berserk state came close to ending. His aura began to fluctuate unsteadily, and his breathing became laboured.
Ling Lan knew that Qi Long was likely at the end of his rope. If Qi Long dropped out, she would not be able to hold up against the battle-experienced examiner on her own, much less look for a chance to hit the examiner.
Ling Lan's brows furrowed as she considered her options. Deep down, she was actually rather annoyed — if she had known that she would have to fight in this random battle, she would have brought some weapons with her, such as some type of hidden weapon. Even if she could not hit the examiner with them, they would still have served as a good distraction.
Unfortunately, all she had on her were some consumable energy fluids to replenish physical energy, which she had brought as supplies for the exam. She only had three tubes, so even if she wanted to use them like hidden weapons, they wouldn't be very effective. She might have been able to fool the examiner for a while with a great number of items to throw, but with just these two or three things, the examiner would never fall for it.
What should she do? Let Qi Long eat one of the tubes to replenish his energy?
An idea sparked in Ling Lan's mind, and she immediately hatched a plan. So, she started to match her speed to Qi Long's, slowing down as she made her aura waver as well, breathing hard, and sweating freely from her forehead. All outward signs broadcasted the fact that she was about to collapse any second now.
Ling Lan and Qi Long's obviously deteriorating condition put a damper on their comrades' cheers, which slowly weakened and finally faded away. Disappointment and resentment was visible on all their faces — it looked like their dream of landing a hit on the examiner would not be realised.
Han Jijyun and Luo Lang exchanged a look, and saw each other's bitter smiles. Honestly, this result was within their expectations, however, somehow, it just didn't sit right with them — they had really hoped that Qi Long and Ling Lan could have brought them a miracle.
Was there really no hope left?
At that moment, Qi Long traded yet another blow with the examiner. This time, due to a lack of energy, Qi Long was thrown backwards by the examiner's block, stumbling back several steps.
These few steps back sapped away Qi Long's confidence, and the strength that had supported him in the fight all this time seemed about to disperse. His stance started to falter, and he looked as if he was about to crash. Seeing this, Ling Lan rushed over to hold him up, and with a few light steps, she rapidly whisked him away from the examiner, putting some distance between them.
"Are you alright?" With her back to the examiner, Ling Lan asked Qi Long frantically as she gripped his hand.
Qi Long's expression jerked and his spirits rallied, as if Ling Lan's concern had given him confidence and courage once more. He said nothing, but nodded firmly to show that he was fine.
Ling Lan turned around to look at the examiner, and then said resolutely, "Then let us fight this one last time." The condition of the two clearly showed that they were incapable of fighting any longer than that.
Qi Long clenched his fists, gaze determined as he said, "Ok!" That said, he swiped his right hand over his face, as if he were wiping away sweat, but also as if he were wiping away his fatigue to boost his confidence. The fighting spirit in his eyes was ignited once again, and it seemed like it burned brighter than before.
Even if he knew he was about to lose, he would not back down. Because this was their final chance — it was make it or break it.
Qi Long and Ling Lan's performance pleased the examiner greatly. The care and concern for a teammate, the courage to fight till the end against a strong opponent — these were all qualities necessary to become an exceptional soldier, and these two kids had them. This was very rare; he was glad that he had been able to find such excellent young talent.
Qi Long attacked first. Although his combination of punches still had speed and strength behind them, the examiner still managed to dodge them easily. There was no helping it — Qi Long only knew these few combat moves. After seeing them used repetitively, even if the examiner could not remember them, his body was already familiar enough with Qi Long's attacks that handling them was a breeze.
The examiner had just dodged Qi Long's attack when, on his other side, Ling Lan was already rushing in.
However, the examiner's attention had been on Ling Lan all this time, because, compared to Qi Long, Ling Lan was much harder to deal with. Although Ling Lan's combat moves were not that varied as well (she had only learned one basic set of combat skills), she was much smarter than Qi Long. She moved in unpredictable ways, and would modify her attacks according to the situation during battle. All this required the examiner to spend more thought when handling her.
The examiner saw Ling Lan's punch coming, and just like the attacks before it, it came from a spot that was the trickiest and most annoying to handle. These spots were basically defensive blind spots, very difficult to defend against — it was either dodge or substitute offense for defense, counterattacking the opponent to force them to retract their move.
Without having to think about it, the examiner pushed a palm out in return, aimed at Ling Lan's chest. His arm was longer and his palm was wider — even as a counterattack, he was certain that his attack would reach Ling Lan first. And in their earlier encounters, Ling Lan had always reacted as he had hoped and gave up on her attacks. After all, continuing on stubbornly when you knew that your attack would be fruitless would only get yourself hurt, while your enemy would remain unharmed. A smart person would never do such a stupid thing.
It was then that an accident occurred. Ling Lan didn't dodge but continued to press forward, and then, a figure appeared in the path of his palm hurtling towards Ling Lan — it was Qi Long!
Not good! The examiner was alarmed, but because everything happened so quickly, he could no longer stop his attack. He rushed to pull back the force in his arm as he felt his palm connect solidly with Qi Long's chest.
"AH!" screamed Qi Long, his entire body thrown into the air by the force of the blow. In mid-air, he threw up a mouthful of blood, and then crashed mercilessly onto the ground, where he then lay unmoving.
"Ah … Qi Long, he's hurt!" the observing children all yelled out in fright. Han Jijyun in particular had become petrified, his face white as a sheet.
The examiner was horrified. Had he pulled back too late? All his attention was now focused on Qi Long — looking at his prone body lying on the ground, fresh blood trickling out from the corners of his mouth in a steady stream.
How did this happen? Could it be that he really hadn't managed to pull back in time, and had struck Qi Long with full force? Had he injured his internal organs? The examiner's thoughts were a mess, with no mind to spare for other matters. All he could see was Qi Long's body on the ground, spewing blood.
The loud sound of a strong fist hitting flesh rang out abruptly, and the examiner was sent flying by a large surge of energy, falling to the ground in a heap.
It turned out that Ling Lan had not given up on her attack. Taking advantage of the examiner's mental chaos, she had snuck in unnoticed to land a sure hit.
Ling Lan blew lightly on her 'weapons', her delicate fists, and grinned as she said, "Mission complete. Examiner hit. But sir, you wouldn't fail us just because you were embarrassed, right?"