Once Ling-Zero-Seven’s countdown hit 1, the still speeding hover car came to an abrupt stop. Ling Lan felt as if she would be flung out of the vehicle, but because her seatbelt was very secure, she stayed anchored in her seat.
Soon, Ling Lan sensed the inertia fading, but unexpectedly, her entire body suddenly felt light and the safety belt unbuckled. It turned out that the hover car was beginning to disassemble, breaking into multiple pieces.
"Run!" barked Ling Qin. He braced himself against the hover car for one last moment before being the first to spring out of the vehicle. Ling Qin had already made up his mind — he would set himself up as bait to draw away the surrounding assassins, giving Ling Lan a chance to escape.
Ling Lan followed him out soon after. Amidst the numerous pieces of wreckage from the hover car, she quickly grabbed hold of one of the larger pieces she had set her eyes on immediately. It wasn’t too large or too small, just right for sheltering her small body, and it was also flying off towards a landing point which suited her.
Like a lizard, Ling Lan clung to the piece of debris, and under the cover of the other debris flying around, she flipped herself nimbly in mid-air to hide behind the debris and reined in her presence. She then let the debris fly as it would until it fell with her positioned below it onto an empty plot of ground with no cover in sight.
At the moment she landed, Ling Lan circulated her Qi throughout her body, filling her limbs and torso with energy as she crashed into the ground. Unknown to outside observers, a large ditch had been carved into the ground under the piece of debris she was holding onto, with Ling Lan fully ensconced within it. Naturally, the piece of debris was flat against the ground above her — no one would suspect a person could be hiding under that debris.
Ling Lan chose to hide in this manner because it took advantage of people’s general assumptions and blind spots — in this flat open ground with no place to hide, her hiding place would be easily overlooked, since the natural tendency was to focus on the surrounding shrubs and tufts of wild grass where people were more likely to hide.
Of course, Ling Lan wasn't hiding here for safety reasons — she intended to counterattack. Once everyone’s attention was further ahead, her position would be right behind the attackers, where she would have a chance to deal a killing blow from their neglected backs.
Ling Lan had no choice but to take this risk. The opponent had chosen their ambush spot too well, where the protection from the cities were the thinnest. From the Ling household to the Central Scout Academy, Ling Lan’s group had always travelled through bustling cities, and it was only during this particular half-hour stretch that they would pass through uninhabited land. In this stretch, there were only woods or deserted plains, with hardly any people about — the only living creatures being wild beasts and fowl.
By setting up their ambush here, the opponents ensured that by the time the cities on both ends received their distress signal and sent out rescue forces, the earliest possible time for reinforcements to arrive would be 15 minutes. Ling Lan believed that these people were fully capable of killing her multiple times over within these 15 minutes. She also believed that if the opponent couldn't find any trace of her in the surroundings, they would take a scorched-earth approach and do a thorough sweep, perhaps even digging three feet into the ground. When that time came, even if she was hiding in a blind spot, she would still be forced out from her hiding place. She could not take this gamble.
Most importantly, she could not be sure that Chamberlain Ling Qin could hold on for 15 minutes under these circumstances. If she didn’t make a move, it was likely that she would see a loved one die for the first time since coming to this future world, which was something she really didn’t want to gamble on.
Soon enough, three hover cars flew over. However, the opponent was very cautious, not driving right up to the main site. Instead, they landed about 30 metres away from where Ling Lan was hiding.
Two of the hover cars opened up and eight stout men walked out. The eight of them were fully armoured, with protective helmets on their heads and protective suits on their bodies, and particle-beam submachine guns in their hands. These were all standard equipment, common in both the military and even private personal armouries. Looks like the opponent was cautious in this aspect as well — anything that could reveal their identity had been excluded.
The eight men crept closer, carefully, leaving behind that lone hover car with its doors shut. That car had two laser cannons raised high above it, covering the men’s approach, ready to fire at any sign of resistance.
Obviously, these three hover cars had been privately modified to become combat-suited hover cars, and Ling Lan noticed that there was no Federation-mandated registration number on any of the cars. The opponent was certainly well-prepared.
Ling Lan did not raise her head at all, yet she knew the current situation as well as the back of her hand. Having Little Four meant that she could be aware of what was happening within the radius of a thousand metres even with her eyes closed. In this way, she knew that much farther away from the hover cars here, at a location not visible from this position, there were two humanoid mechas aiming long-range sniper rifles in this direction. The opponent was really determined to kill them.
Calmly, Ling Lan calculated the success rate of several possible attacks within her mind. However, all the scenarios that she had considered in her mind up till now had a success rate of zero. Still, Ling Lan wasn't discouraged — her time in the primordial forest and her survival training there had engraved this lesson into her: be calm even if you were about to die, for a chance would often appear at the most improbable moment.
For just the possibility of survival, she would have to first solve the problem of the predatory hover car. The two laser cannons were just too great a threat, although the two humanoid mechas in the distance were also a huge headache … Ling Lan decided to just focus on the problem right before her for now.
That said, the weapons she had on her now were just not enough for her to get rid of that armoured hover car, not to mention the professional assassins contained within it. With Ling Lan’s current small frame, it might still be possible for her to handle one person, but if she had to fight two, then she would pretty much be like a lamb to the slaughter.
What should she do?
"Tch, at this crucial moment, why did you forget me?" In her mind, Little Four, who had been waiting for Ling Lan to call for help all this time, suddenly made his protest heard.
"Huh? How many people can you handle?" Ling Lan was startled and rather confused — she herself could not take on two at one time, what could Little Four do as a mental presence without a body?
"Well, I can’t do anything about the humans, but I can handle cars …" said Little Four resentfully. Why was his boss so stupid? Humans weren't computers which he could hack.
Little Four’s words enlightened Ling Lan — she had indeed got caught up in thinking within a box. Modern hover cars were all controlled by artificial intelligences, while Little Four was the natural enemy of anything digital. As long as he was given a chance, Little Four could definitely wrest control of the hover cars, which would prevent the car’s weapons from firing …
"From this distance, can you do it?" Ling Lan couldn’t help asking once out of worry.
"Even 10 metres further would be fine … if your mental strength were just a bit higher, I’d be able to do it from even further away," replied Little Four with some disdain in his tone, as if looking down on Ling Lan for limiting his range.
Ling Lan bit out in annoyance, "Just do it. If I kick the bucket here, you’ll also die …"
Little Four shuddered — how did he forget that? He didn’t dare to kid around anymore, immediately borrowing some of Ling Lan’s mental energy to start infiltrating the hover car.
By this time, the eight men had already passed by Ling Lan’s hiding place. After all, there was nothing on this plot of land other than several pieces of debris of varying sizes lying flat against the ground, no place at all for someone to hide. Very naturally, they eliminated this area from their consideration, moving steadily towards the surrounding shrubs up ahead. Clearly, that was a much more likely hiding place.
As the men got closer and closer to the shrubs, Ling Lan’s heart started thumping anxiously … because that was exactly where Chamberlain Ling Qin was hiding.