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At this time, Luo Lang stalked over with his head held high with his younger twin sister Luo Chao in tow. He rather looked like a peacock, thought Ling Lan to herself in amusement.

Luo Lang stared at Ling Lan for several seconds, and then said, "Since Qi Long has submitted to you, then I’ll also acknowledge your strength … grudgingly. Please take care of my sister and me from now on."

Huh? What was this? Ling Lan stared back blankly — she didn’t really have any connection to Luo Lang, right?

In her mind, Little Four could hold back no longer. Thunderously, he spat, "What else could it be?! He also wants you to be his boss! You- you’ve wronged me."

Little Four’s gaze reflected only sorrow, creeping Ling Lan out. What was up with Little Four? Why did he sound so forlorn saying that she had wronged him?

Ling Lan's mind started racing, thinking about what she could have done to hurt Little Four’s delicate soul … But after much thinking, she still couldn’t figure it out and so could only assume that the little rascal’s rebellious phase had come.

Little Four was very angry and full of animosity. He hated those shameless people who had come to wrap themselves around Ling Lan’s sturdy thighs [1]. He was also mad at Ling Lan’s actions — she must have shown off too much to garner so much attention, causing him to have so many competitors to become her number one underling.

Alright, so Little Four was no longer obsessed with the epic ‘Three Kingdoms’; he was now addicted to some third-rate novels meant for leisure reading. (The sudden drop in taste was just too jarring.) Consequently, the way he addressed Ling Lan had also changed.

This was how it happened: One day, Little Four was extremely bored, so he decided to surf the net randomly. By chance, he stumbled onto a very obscure website, which was called ‘World of Slash’. You even needed a password to log in! This piqued the curiosity of Little Four … Naturally, passwords and the like were useless against him — he easily bypassed them and toured the site. He discovered countless business opportunities in there. So many people were crying out for slash novels, slash fanworks, slash videos … and they were willing to pay for them!

Little Four’s greatest goal right now was to earn money — how could he let such a golden opportunity slip by? Although he wasn't certain his database had slash fanworks or slash videos, Little Four was confident that his database would at least have some slash novels. Putting aside the other things in his database, the sheer amount of novels he had in there was staggering.

When Little Four searched his database, sure enough, the novels tagged as slash were almost more than he could count. (This was all the fault of Ling Lan’s indiscriminate selection of reading material in her past life.) Little Four was ecstatic! He could already envision the Square-Holed Brothers [2] pouring in.

Little Four also found that the more words a novel had, the more money it was worth, so after some picking and choosing, he chose to publish the rather long ‘Reincarnation in a Time of Armageddon: the Rise of the Cannon Fodder’. Of course, he was also very curious to see what these slash novels were about, to drive the people here so crazy.

Little Four read as he published and very soon, he found himself transfixed by the deep brotherly bond between the novel’s boss and his underling. He then recalled what Ling Lan had said to him, about wanting him to be her younger brother … Little Four was immediately moved to tears. (Sweat, Little Four was still clueless about what slash truly meant at this point. He had only read up till around chapter 150 where the sexual tones were still very subtle, and so remained as innocent as before.)

However, Little Four’s joy didn't last for long before competition appeared, and two at once at that! At this very moment, Little Four could fully understand the depressed mood of Little Ling in the novel — the more competition there was, the greater the pressure …

Should he treat his boss better in the future so that his number 1 position wouldn't be taken away? Little Four started to think hard about the issue, unaware that his internal core chip was starting to heat up unnaturally once again.

Let’s leave aside Little Four wild imaginings and meaningless jealousy, as well as Ling Lan’s concerned amusement about it for now. After the examiner for room 072 escorted the children out, he immediately contacted the invigilation room.

In the invigilation room, the superintendent had been watching when the examiner hurt Qi Long by mistake and his brows had locked tight in a frown, and it only got tighter as he saw Ling Lan send the examiner flying. Only when Qi Long stood up at the end, apparently unharmed, did his brows relax.

Seeing the examiner’s contact request, he accepted without waiting for the invigilating officer to do so. Not allowing any room for the other to speak, he bellowed, "Number 413, once we’re done, report back to the training camp!"

The examiner for room 072 gaped. "Sir! Why are you there …"

Dammit. Why was his direct superior on the other side of the line? Why was he so unlucky?

With a long face, the examiner asked carefully, "Sir, then when should I come back?"

The superintendent huffed and said coldly, "A month later."

The superintendent’s reply made the examiner want to curl up and cry. Heavens, a month in the training camp — even if it wouldn’t kill him, he would still shed a layer of skin. He’d never have expected that he would have to go back to that terrifying place again after 5 years, to relive the painful and horrible time when he had been a recruit.

"What? You have something to say about that?" asked the superintendent, tone silky with an undertone of threat.

"No, Sir, not at all! I have nothing to say!" The examiner immediately stood up straight and answered loudly. He knew his superior officer well — if he displayed any hint of hesitation, his punishment would be doubled right away — he had no intention of letting a month’s worth of punishment become two or even three months within the blink of an eye.

"Hn. Good. Was there anything else?" The superintendent was satisfied by the examiner’s attitude, and so prompted him to explain why he had called to begin with.

The examiner collected himself, and stated formally, "I would like to recommend several children for the special classes."

"Oh?" The superintendent’s lips quirked up in a small smile as he waited for the examiner to elaborate.

"Yes. In my opinion, those children are all very promising …" said the examiner after some thought, "but I’m especially taken by 0723, 0724, 0725, and 0729."

"How so?"

"0723 — good foundations, with extraordinary strength for a child. His reflexes are also excellent and better yet, he can think on his feet in battle to the extent that he could be considered a cunning tactician. If we cultivate him intensively, he will definitely become an intelligent strategic-type warrior." The examiner's eyes sparkled as he described his observations of Ling Lan, clearly showing how much Ling Lan’s performance had captured his heart.

"0724 — his physical fitness is definitely on a non-human level. He actually managed to break past his body’s limits all on his own … He is a true prodigy. As long as the Federation provides focused cultivation, he is very likely to be the next IN mecha operator." By the time the examiner got to the last part of his report on Qi Long, his face was flushed with excitement.

The examiner couldn't be blamed for losing his composure. Aside from Major General Ling Xiao, no one had managed to rise up to the challenge of becoming an IN mecha operator during the past 10 years. And now, he could actually see a glimmer of hope in Qi Long — how could he not lose control?

An IN mecha operator, is it? Was 0724 the only potential candidate? The superintendent’s gaze was complicated, shaded by his eyelids, hiding away his true thoughts.

"0725 — cool and level-headed, with commendable logic and an analytical mind. He is definitely an excellent staff officer in the making. I recommend that we focus his training in this direction." The Federation not only needed hot-blooded warriors unafraid of death, but also staff officers capable of planning and taking command, who could deploy strategies from thousands of miles away.

"0729 seems weaker than the other three in comparison, however, he has an unyielding spirit … If we place him together with the other three, this attitude of his could push him to become an excellent soldier, as impressive as the others."

The examiner systematically laid out his thoughts on the four children and then silently waited for his superior officer to make the final decision.

 [1] Get your minds out of the gutter. :p ‘To hug someone’s thigh’ in Chinese is to rely on them to carry you — picture it like someone hugging another’s leg like a koala, being carried around without having to do anything for themselves. In other words, to take advantage of another’s strength.

 [2] Literally, money. Traditional Chinese coins had holes in them so strings could be passed through to tie up a bunch of coins for convenient carrying. One of the most classic coins was the round coin with a square hole, which is what is being referenced here by the author.

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