"Expand search range," ordered Han Jijyun.
"Ok!" Very quickly, a bird's-eye view of the Central Scout Academy had appeared on his communicator's virtual screen, displaying the image of the entire Central Scout Academy within the confines of the screen. Of course, the image was clear enough that they could see the landing spot chosen by the mecha.
Han Jijyun tapped lightly on the landing spot on the virtual screen, and the screen automatically zoomed in as close as it could to the tapped location.
Han Jijyun adjusted the viewing angle slightly, and soon, a dark grey mecha was presented in all its glory before the children. Its entirely metallic outer plating shone with the dark gleam unique to mecha, while on its chest area, a large red bird with outstretched wings on the brink of flight rested, its entire body wreathed in flames, shining with exceptional brightness in the morning sunlight.
Although the mecha had no visible heavy weapons (if it had, it would have been shot down by the Central Scout Academy's defensive missiles before it could even get near the school), the two giant beam sabers strapped on its back were more than enough on their own to emphasize its might. It should be known that a normal mecha would have just one small beam saber as its standard weapon, but this mecha had two giant beam sabers instead — it was clear to see that the operator of this mecha was an extremely talented close combat mecha specialist.
This clearly customized weapon, so different from the weapons of common standard mecha, made Qi Long and Luo Lang's eyes burn with want. It couldn't be helped. Mecha, as high-grade weaponised equipment of the Federation, were banned goods that could not be purchased by the public. The children had almost no chance of seeing the real thing close up — only getting a glimpse through video screens, or even just learning about them through illustrations.
Only if they were direct descendants of some major elite family, or perhaps the offspring of some high-ranking military officer (N-th generation military), then they might have a chance of coming in contact with a mecha.
"Eh? Has the cockpit of the dark grey mecha opened?" Luo Lang's sharp eyes caught the difference on the virtual screen.
"Looks like it. What a shame the image is still a little small so we can't see it clearly," said Qi Long with some regret.
Without saying a word, Han Jijyun threw a scornful glance at the two of them. He didn't mock them, however, only zooming in once more onto the dark grey mecha, fixing the display on the cockpit.
Sure enough, the dark grey mecha's cockpit was already open, and they could see a small child climbing out from inside with his head lowered.
"Why does this person look so familiar?" Qi Long was a little slow on the uptake.
This question drew the contempt of both Luo Lang and Han Jijyun — hells, this fool was the first one to rush up to acknowledge him as boss and now he can't even recognise him?
At the sight of the little figure, Luo Chao, who was standing beside them, had blushed bright red even as her eyes sparkled. It looked as if she had recognised who the person was as well. Meanwhile, Han Xuya was the only person who wasn't looking at the virtual image, for all her attention was on Qi Long.
Right then, the child in the image finally raised his head.
"Holy sh*t, it's Boss Lan!" Qi Long finally recognised the person, and couldn't help but yell out in excitement, "That's awesome, actually riding a mecha to school! Hail Boss!"
Right now, Qi Long's respect for Ling Lan was surging endlessly like the waters of a river after rain. Dammit, tell him, who else could be as freaktastic as his boss?
Qi Long wasn't the only one taken in completely — even Luo Lang had lost the heart to compete with Ling Lan at this point. The distance between the two of them was just too goddamn wide, wasn't it? Just think, here they were drooling over the mecha on the screen, when Ling Lan had already gotten to use a mecha as mere transportation ... where was the humanity?! Fine, he should just quit comparing himself against a non-human being and save himself some grief.
Luo Lang had been enlightened — he decided he would not waste any time trying to steal Boss Ling Lan's position; it would be wiser to just faithfully do his duty as a follower. Perhaps then he might even be able to ask Boss Lan to let them touch the mecha ... Thinking of this, Luo Lang's blood boiled, and his eyes shined with a dazzling light.
Yep, the perks of being his follower may not be half bad.
In contrast, Han Jijyun's expression was rather troubled. His face was stiff and closed-off, and a question had lodged itself within his mind — who exactly was Ling Lan? Coming here by mecha ... although that was also shocking to Han Jijyun, it wasn't as impactful as it was for Qi Long and the others. What shocked Han Jijyun more was the response and attitude of the Central Scout Academy.
Qi Long, Luo Lang, and the others may not know what all this meant, but Han Jijyun knew. Piloting a mecha into the heavily guarded Central Scout Academy was a suicidal act. And usually, continuing on after a warning had been given would definitely result in a merciless barrage of fire, until the mecha had been shot down. This scenario, where six mecha were sent out to escort it instead, was something that shouldn't have happened. Of course, the six mecha were there in part to monitor and dictate the landing of said mecha, but still, no matter what, what happened today was definitely not normal. It looked like Ling Lan's family background carried some weight.
During their enrolment test, Ling Lan's exceptional perceptivity, logical reasoning, and combat prowess had gained the sincere admiration of Han Jijyun. Which is why when his good mate Qi Long had chosen to acknowledge Ling Lan as his boss, Han Jijyun had not objected. However, now it seemed like there were some issues surrounding Ling Lan's identity — he would need some time to think about this, about whether acknowledging Ling Lan as their boss would have any negative repercussions for Qi Long and himself ...
Han Jijyun still remembered what his father, the Head of the Federal Intelligence Agency, had once taught him — be wary of anyone who got close to him, even children, for in their position, it was far too easy to become ensnared in some other's plot, and end up being used as a pawn ...
Descending from the mecha via a halyard, Ling Lan's feet once again met solid ground, and her heart could finally settle.
Still, now wasn't the time to rejoice just yet. She needed to control the muscles of her two legs so they wouldn't tremble — as a member of Special Class-A pinned with high expectations, she couldn't afford to expose her weakness against heights.
Ling Lan took in a deep breath to calm herself before forcing out a stiff smile, and turned to wave goodbye to Chamberlain Ling Qin in the cockpit. Chamberlain Ling Qin could no longer accompany her into the school to handle the registration procedures; the school was not going to allow a mecha which could threaten the safety of the children to remain on school grounds for long.
Aware of the vigilant stares of the six mecha beside him, Ling Qin knew there was no point in delaying. So, he piloted the mecha and left reluctantly under the watchful guard of the six mecha. The reason Ling Qin could leave so simply without protest was that he knew there was nowhere safer than the Central Scout Academy. Their safety measures were even more impressive than that of the Ling family's, so he was completely at ease leaving Ling Lan in their care.
Ling Qin knew that it wasn't wise to linger — if by any chance this issue was manipulated by the Ling family's enemies, the Ling family would be in deep trouble. The current Ling family was no longer the Ling family during the time of Master Ling Xiao — the influence they wielded then and their impenetrable strength had disappeared completely. At the heart of the matter, it was because there was no individual mighty enough support the family. Since Young Master Lan was really just too young, not yet able to withstand the storms of life, they had no choice but to keep a low profile for now and bide their time.
Ling Lan watched as Ling Qin and his escort of six mecha departed, before looking around curiously. The spot she had landed in was a small wooded copse. There was hardly anyone else around, and it was very secluded, but it had plenty of space to support the landing of one mecha. No wonder the six mecha had directed them here to land — it was also a good place if they needed to dispose of any bodies ...
In the midst of her wild thoughts, Ling Lan chose a direction at random and started walking. She was prepared to keep walking until she got out of the woods and found someone to point her towards the registration area for new students.
Since she had confirmed that this location was very secluded, Ling Lan was calm. As long as no one knew she had arrived in a mecha, then there wouldn't be any negative impact on her academic life here. She would still be the totally mediocre genius Ling Lan submerged among the throng of other geniuses.
Seeing Ling Lan on her way out, Han Jijyun shut down his communicator, and turned to tell Qi Long and the others, "Let's go welcome Boss Lan."
Right now, Han Jijyun's mind was clear. From the start, all the kids in their exam group had not revealed their backgrounds, so they really did not know who Ling Lan's parents were, nor which system he came from. However, Ling Lan also didn't know anything about them either, so they were still on even ground. If he only started worrying about Ling Lan's true identity now, that would be rather narrow-minded of him. So, Han Jijyun wisely decided to let the matter rest.
As for whether Ling Lan was a person worthy of befriending, they had plenty of time to judge that for themselves, so there was no hurry. Han Jijyun decided to take a neutral stance and observe from the sidelines for now.
Qi Long was the first to respond to Han Jijyun's suggestion. "Alright! I'm going to ask Boss Lan later if I can take a ride on that mecha." Qi Long's excitement was palpable when talking about the mecha.
Although Luo Lang didn't say anything to that, the glint of greed in his eyes left no doubt in the others' minds that he was in agreement with Qi Long on this matter.
Han Jijyun opened his mouth, as if wanting to say something in response to Qi Long, but quickly closed it again. A thought flashed through his mind — perhaps he could use Qi Long's questioning to get a better idea of Ling Lan's personality ...
Ling Lan had been walking for roughly half an hour when she suddenly saw the vague outlines of some buildings in the distance. Ling Lan's heart leapt up joyously — she was finally getting out of these woods!
And then, Ling Lan abruptly frowned, and her right hand slipped casually into her pocket, gripping hold of the miniature particle-beam handgun she had taken from her family's hover car previously.
Meanwhile, under her clothes, Ling Lan's nerves and muscles pulled taut — if Ling Lan sensed any danger at all, both the particle-beam gun in her hand and her prepped body would be able to spring to her defence instantly against any ambusher.
"Boss, we've finally found you!" Qi Long's voice boomed out from the edge of the woods.
Ling Lan's face could not help but darken instantly. Sullenly, she thought to herself: Why did she have to meet up with this fellow right when she entered the school? She had never wanted to be a boss or gather any followers — this was obviously contradictory to her personal setting of 'mediocrity'!
Just as Ling Lan was wondering whether she could get away with pretending not to hear him, or perhaps avoid him by turning in a different direction, Qi Long and his group of five were already sprinting towards her.
Well, dodging was out of the question. She sighed, and her right hand slipped out naturally from her pocket. Then, she turned and waved listlessly at Qi Long and the others. At the same time, her tightly coiled body loosened up. Against these companions who took the test with her, she really couldn't keep her guard up.
"Boss, you were just too freaktastic earlier! Actually riding a mecha to school!" The moment Qi Long opened his mouth, Ling Lan's beautiful plans were smashed.
"Who else knows?" Ling Lan glared fiercely at Qi Long, wanting him to explain fully. If it really turned out that everyone had already found out, then she would have to completely reconsider how she would portray herself to the public.