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"Little Four, this time is all thanks to you." With a face full of gratitude, Ling Lan looked at the smugly wriggling Little Four in the learning space. If it hadn't been for him, no matter how alert she was or how much she tried to prepare, the result would have been the same — the overwhelming strength of a weaponised mecha was not something her strategies could counter, meaning that they actually had no chance of winning.

The reason Ling Lan had blabbered on for so long with Ling Hua, was to buy time for Little Four to infiltrate the mecha's A.I. and wrest control. Although Little Four was like a god in the virtual world, the natural enemy of all A.I., the A.I. of the mecha was not like the low-level goods installed in the hover cars. For Little Four to gain control, he still needed to expend quite a bit of effort. Of course, after gaining this experience, it wouldn't take this long to hack into common standard mecha next time, unless the mecha was of a higher level.

Besides that, Ling Lan had also wanted to take the chance to reveal Ling Hua's true colours to Ling Qin and Ling Yu, as well as lay out the reasons for calling him a traitor. She knew very well that if misunderstandings and grudges were not removed early, after festering to a certain extent, the consequences could be disastrous, and she had no intention of making such a low-level mistake.

After examining the three cockpits, Ling Yu bounded back excitedly, and asked Ling Lan, "Young Master Lan, what should we do next?"

Ling Yu had already acknowledged Ling Lan, fixating on her as his lifelong master, so his first instinct was to look to Ling Lan for instruction.

"Contact home and ask them to send more people over. Bring these people back for interrogation, and find out who exactly is the one who is after me, and after the Ling Clan." Ling Lan had not forgotten about that locked-down hover car Little Four had parked at the wayside — perhaps the people inside knew something useful.

"Yes, Young Master Lan!" If it wasn't for the fact that Young Master Lan was not yet sixteen years old, and as such not able to officially accept the position of family head, Ling Yu would have really liked to call her 'Master'.

That's right, Ling Yu had already imprinted on Ling Lan for this life — so even if Master Ling Xiao came back to life, his loyalty would not change. Of course, the current Ling Yu did not know that he would really face this extremely difficult dilemma in the future ...

With a heavy heart, Ling Qin walked back to stand by them. Even without looking at his heavy steps, Ling Lan knew that Ling Hua's death was a great blow to the old chamberlain who had served the Ling family for three generations. After all, within these last six years, Ling Qin had spoken of Ling Hua's excellence more than once with unreserved pride. Yet, it was this same person that he had been so proud of that had betrayed the Ling family, betrayed him ... this caused Ling Qin to lose faith his own judgement.

Frankly, Ling Lan's ready suspicion of Ling Hua had a lot to do with Chamberlain Ling Qin’s constant mentions of Ling Hua around her. Because, according to Ling Qin, Ling Hua was just too outstanding — so outstanding that it was impossible for him to commit such a low-level mistake and delay rescue. So really, a person should never stand out too much. Doing so would make people remember you, so whenever you decide to drag your feet to cause a bit of mischief, the jarring difference between your performance then and now would easily expose your intentions. If Ling Hua ever found out that this was the reason behind his failure, he would probably deeply regret how brilliantly he had shone before this day.

Ling Lan didn't know what she could say to console the sad old man before her. She had never been good at consoling others. That was why she had decided to always face her loved ones with a smile in her previous life, just so her parents wouldn't worry. Still, history had proven that this method of hers was useless. Although her parents would keep smiling in front of her, they would always cry later in places where she couldn't see — but her ears were sharp, so she had still heard it all. (Due to her high mental strength, her five senses were also N-times more sensitive than an average person's.)

Ling Lan believed that for someone to forget their grief, that person should be kept busy. Wasn't it said that time was the best medicine? She was sure she had read it in a book somewhere ... In any case, regardless of whether it works, she would just go ahead and use it for now. She lifted her hands to clasp Ling Qin's hands in hers, and asked, "The hover car is gone. How are we going to get to school?"

Well, alright, so Ling Lan hadn't forgotten the purpose of their trip today. Today was the first day of school for her — Ling Lan didn't want to become that one student who was late on the first day and become the focus of attention that way. Ling Hua's bloody end had driven the lesson home that it wasn't a good thing to stand out and be remembered.

When Ling Qin heard Ling Lan's question, he immediately rallied himself. That's right, now wasn't the time to grieve! He must not allow Ling Lan to be marked down for being late — this black mark would definitely hold Ling Lan back when she applied to the various major military schools in the future. Ling Qin was very ambitious — he was already imagining Ling Lan's entrance into the Federation's strongest number one boys' military school ...

Alright, so Ling Lan's true gender had slipped his mind for the moment — please forgive an old man for his random fit of Alzheimer's!

Without even thinking about it, Ling Qin decided that he would pilot Ling Hua's mecha to send Ling Lan to the Central Scout Academy. As for those traitors and assassins, he would leave them to the reluctant Ling Yu, who really wished he could switch places with Ling Qin.

Looking on as Ling Qin flew away with Ling Lan as a passenger on the mecha, Ling Yu's face was glum as he whined internally. Boo hoo hoo! How I wish I could personally send Young Master Lan to school ...

The mournful Ling Yu could only vent his surging resentment on the few assassins within the hover car. Before they left, Little Four had already unlocked the car door, but for safety reasons, he had destroyed the A.I. on board to disable its weaponry. As for the old-school particle-beam handguns, they were basically useless against mecha, so the assassins didn't even dare to try and resist, obediently giving themselves up. Even so, they were almost roasted. Ling Yu used the beam gun on his mecha to herd them, and even though the beams had just grazed by their bodies, the intense heat of the shots had still left serious burn damage on them, leaving them one step away from being cooked.

Thus, by the time another batch of Ling family loyalists arrived, the assassins looked at them as if they were their saviours, so moved that they almost wanted to cling to the loyalists' feet and cry.

Dammit, even if they were assassins, and now prisoners, that didn't mean they deserved to be tortured! What happened to human rights?

The moment Ling Lan entered the cockpit, she found out how a mecha carried a passenger. It turned out that behind the control seat of the mecha, between the seat and the wall of the cockpit, there was a small space. It was large enough to hold a grown person of roughly 150 catties, but of course it wasn't as comfortable as the pilot control seat, and could perhaps even be considered a little cramped.

Of course, for a child like Ling Lan, this space was still rather large, almost enough for Ling Lan to move around freely inside.

Closing the cockpit door, the lights dimmed, and Ling Qin quickly pressed the A.I. activation button to light up the cockpit once again.

"A.I. activated. Checking in progress. Please wait! To select emergency activation, please press the emergency activation button!" The A.I. reminded as part of its activation procedure.

There were two ways to activate a mecha — one was the regular activation, which was a little slow, requiring about 1 to 3 minutes, while the other was the emergency activation, whose activation time correlated with the level of the A.I.. The higher the level of the A.I., the less time it took to activate. The A.I. of this type of common standard mecha required between 12 to 15 seconds.

Captain level mecha could shorten this time till about 10 to 12 seconds, and moving upwards, each level higher could shorten that time by another 2 to 3 seconds. At the top, the Federation's ultimate weapons, the IN mecha, could truly achieve 0-second activation, which was one of the reasons why they were considered the strongest mecha.

Of course, Ling Qin did not choose the option of emergency activation this time. Although Ling Lan ran the risk of being late, the situation was not so dire that they had to use emergency activation.

Although emergency activation could save time, it had a fatal weakness — it would skip the process of checking the functionality of all its parts and weapons. Mecha, as finely-calibrated combat machines, would accumulate damage to its various parts in every battle. And when a particular part reached its breaking point and stopped functioning as it should, if the pilot decided that day to use emergency activation ... predictably, it would all end in tragedy. The only question being the scale of the tragedy.

Naturally, Ling Qin would not let Ling Lan risk this kind of danger, so he took the regular path of regular activation.

This time, the activation process did not require the full 3 minutes, completing itself in 2 minutes and 10 seconds, logging them onto the main mecha control system.

However, this sort of activation speed drew Little Four's contempt — within the learning space, he was jumping around agitatedly, loudly complaining about how this sort of tortoise-like speed was literally akin to murdering the mecha operator. If it weren't for Ling Lan's quick and vehement objection, Little Four would have already forced his way into the mecha to begin modifying the A.I..

Still, Ling Lan promised Little Four that once she obtained her own mecha, she would definitely let Little Four take charge of the A.I. — it would be up to him completely how he would like to modify it. Only then did Little Four subside reluctantly, agreeing to wait till the day he could show off what he could do.

Swiftly, Ling Qin turned on the mecha's omnidirectional display function, which immediately immersed them in what Ling Lan felt to be like a virtual world. It seemed like she was sitting on a floating seat, looking down at the ground from a height of 5 to 6 metres.

Yep, this feeling isn't half bad! Ling Lan watched with enraptured eyes as Ling Qin piloted the mecha, finding the entire process fascinating. She was a little eager to try it herself, starting to look forward to the day she could pilot her own mecha.

Ling Qin grabbed hold of the control stick, and turned his head briefly to caution, "Young Master Lan, sit tight, I'm about to take off."

Ling Lan nodded and held on tightly to the armrest beside her, indicating that she was ready.

Receiving confirmation from Ling Lan, Ling Qin's hands flew rapidly over the controls — all Ling Lan knew was that within a split second, Ling Qin had gone through approximately 20 different motions.

From the outside, the mecha Ling Qin was controlling was seen to bend its knees, and then it sprang upwards. Simultaneously, the two main engines below the waist section of the mecha rumbled to life, generating an immense propulsion force, sending the mecha flying forwards into the air.

The abrupt movement of the mecha caused Ling Lan's body to be pressed down securely into her seat by the opposing gravity. Fortunately, Ling Lan's physical condition was good enough that it didn't feel particularly uncomfortable.

Although the cockpit had a certain degree of decompression capability, for the sake of better sense control for the pilot, it didn't eliminate this sort of inertia. This was yet another reason why mecha operators needed to have strong physical bodies. Research had proven that, without the existence of pressure, operators were unable to sense the movements of the mecha — they were unable to confirm whether their movements were being projected accurately, and thus couldn't achieve the precision needed to execute the movements they wanted up to proper standards.

Soon, the mecha had entered airspace and had begun flying swiftly towards its destination. Due to the projection of the omnidirectional display, Ling Lan had the false perception that she was sitting on an untethered chair, weaving swiftly through the blue skies and fluffy white clouds ...

All Ling Lan could hear was a persistent buzzing in her ears, and then ... she blacked out.

Before she fainted, she finally remembered — she still hadn't gotten over her fear of heights yet!

Noooooo ~~~ what about my dream of piloting a mecha?!!! Ling Lan was weeping piteously at Little Four within the learning space. In return, Little Four was driven into a frenzy — if Ling Lan did not manage to overcome this problem, how would he ever get the chance to modify a mecha's A.I.?

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