Sprawled on the ground, the examiner’s reaction was quick. With a back spring, he flipped back onto his feet.
Although Ling Lan’s punch had seemed very powerful, powerful enough to send the examiner flying, it hadn't actually done much damage to the examiner, only leaving a dark bruise on the examiner’s left cheek. Of course, this perfectly suited Ling Lan’s intent — she had only wanted to prove that they were not so easily bullied.
The examiner stood there unmoving, but his face was an icy wasteland. Lifting his hand to touch the bruise on his face, even though it was numb to the touch, he felt an inexplicable hurt welling up from his heart.
Indeed, it was a hurt mixed with rage along with deep disappointment — he wasn’t angry because Ling Lan had managed to hit him, but because, with that hit, Ling Lan had displayed a selfishness and ruthlessness that he could not condone.
The examiner could not fathom how this promising child, excellent on so many fronts, could be so cold and unfeeling to use his own companion as a human shield to achieve his ends. Although he had been flustered by the accident in the last encounter, his eyes had still seen clearly — Qi Long had suddenly appeared to block the hit meant for Ling Lan, not out of his own volition, but because Ling Lan had dragged Qi Long directly into the path of the examiner’s attack.
Worse yet, Ling Lan seemed utterly unconcerned about the condition of his companion after the fact, only focused on his own results. This type of selfish behaviour was the last straw for the examiner — he decided that he would never give Ling Lan the chance to enter the special classes. The Federation could never give specialised cultivation to such a cold and unfeeling, selfish child. Even if he became a soldier, he would only bring harm to the Federation and to his fellow soldiers.
But before the examiner could start yelling, what happened next stunned the examiner into silence.
Ling Lan walked over to the unconscious Qi Long, who was still lying on the ground spewing blood, and kicked him several times on the side none too gently, saying with some consternation, "Alright. It’s done. Aren’t you going to get up now? Don’t you think you’re overdoing it?"
And just like that, Qi Long sat up, a silly grin on his face as he said, "You really hit him?" Blood continued to trickle out of the corners of his mouth as he spoke, gruesome to see.
Ling Lan said smugly, "Of course. Who do you think I am?" There were times when she just had to be childish — Ling Lan knew that she might already have overdone things a little, so all she could do was try and make up for it now.
Qi Long nodded repeatedly in open admiration as he said, "Yup, Ling Lan, you’re definitely stronger than me." That said, he continued eagerly, "Didn’t I act really well though?"
Ling Lan nodded easily without much sincerity, even going so far as to pat Qi Long on the head to humour him.
Alright, so Qi Long’s current demeanour was just too much like those loyal dogs she was familiar with in her world 10000 years ago — that earnest begging look was just too adorable that she couldn’t help but to reach out and pet him.
The straightforward Qi Long had no idea he was being patronised by Ling Lan, nor did he know that his image in Ling Lan’s mind had been relegated to ‘adorable’— He happily scrambled off the ground after being praised, licking at the dried bloodstains at the corners of his mouth. With some regret, he said, "Such a shame we had to waste so much energy fluid … this taste is awesome, I’ve never tasted such tasty energy fluid."
Ling Lan rolled her eyes internally at his words, thinking, of course it was delicious — that tomato-flavoured energy fluid was the result of her hard research, how could he compare it to other energy fluids? Thinking of the original taste of energy fluids, Ling Lan’s body shuddered reflexively. That taste … was really not for human consumption. Probably even the cats and dogs of 10000 years ago would not touch it.
Ling Lan was not someone who would mistreat herself. Since she couldn't stomach the taste of it, she decided that she would change it herself. With the help of Little Four, they finally managed to develop energy fluids in several fruit and vegetable flavours, and tomato was just one of those flavours.
She had given Qi Long that flavour because the colouring of that flavour also resembled that of tomatoes, a vibrant red, which would easily let others mistake it for blood, lending even more credibility to Qi Long’s act of getting injured.
Looking at the lively and spirited Qi Long bouncing around, Han Jijyun’s face finally returned to its usual colour. He asked with some confusion, "What did you all do exactly?" When he had thought that Qi Long was seriously injured, he had been too overwhelmed with panic to see what was going on.
Han Jijyun’s question echoed the question the examiner had in his mind. Although he was still uncertain about the details, by now, he had figured out that he must have fallen into some trap set by the two brats before him. How unexpected that a battle-experienced soldier like him would fall prey to the schemes of two children.
He wasn't at all angry, however. Instead, joy was coursing through him. The child that he had found most promising, with such impressive abilities, was really not as terrible as he had thought …
Qi Long heard Han Jijyun’s question and hurried to explain, "When I was thrown back by the examiner, Ling Lan came to drag me away. It was then that he gave me energy fluid, and when his back was to the examiner, he hinted at me to act, to pretend to be injured using the fluid."
Still grinning widely, Qi Long scratched the back of his head, sheepish at causing everyone to worry. "So, when the examiner hit me later on, I pretended to get hurt and faked being unconscious."
The examiner looked at Ling Lan pensively, then suddenly barked out, "Were you not afraid of making an error? What if I hadn’t been able to pull back in time? Your plan could have easily caused Qi Long to get injured, even destroy his future."
Ling Lan looked puzzled. "Would you, Sir, have made a mistake like that?" Implied was her utmost trust in the examiner’s ability to control himself.
Qi Long just continued to grin, face still full of trust. Thinking of something, Han Jijyun looked at Ling Lan with an obscure gaze, which contained some hint of admiration but also a trace of anger, but he very quickly returned to his usual stoicism.
Ling Lan’s words made the examiner splutter, but he really couldn't refute what he had said. He found that he had no idea how to handle this brat before him, but he had to admit that Ling Lan wasn't wrong — he definitely wouldn't have made such a mistake. If it weren't for the fact that Qi Long’s act had been too realistic, spewing blood and all, he would never have doubted himself. In the end, he was the one who had been lacking in self-confidence.
The examiner chuckled dryly. To think that Ling Lan had shown him his own weakness — what a remarkable child.
This boy was really too extraordinary — bold as brass, yet attentive to details, and vicious in a fight. Scarier still, he had charisma, being able to convince others to join him easily — Qi Long and previously Luo Lang, though both strong themselves, had put their trust in Ling Lan unequivocally, letting him decide everything.
And lastly, the boy had used strategy to expose the weakness in his heart … the boy had understood that he would never hurt them, so if someone got injured during the fight, he would certainly be disturbed, thus revealing an opening in his defence.
The examiner sighed and shook his head. Children these days were certainly not easy to fool. Rather huffily, he said, "This time, you all pass!"
The examiner’s words caused all the children to jump up in happy excitement. This meant that they had qualified to become students at this scout academy! Of course, whether or not they could attend the special classes was still to be decided — that would depend on the final score given by the examiner. Once the scores of the four exams had been totalled up, the first hundred students would be taken into the special classes.
The examiner ignored the students celebrating before him, focusing instead on turning on his communication device to press the button marking the completion of the test.