Somewhere on the planet of Doha, in a top-secret location, someone was reporting the results of their operation through a communicator. "Sir, the people below have sent back the news — we have failed."
"What happened?" The screen was pitch-black, and the disguised voice that came through was cold and mechanical.
"There were way too many people protecting that brat, not just those opposing us, but even the Blades showed up."
"The Blades? Why are they involved?" The other could not understand why the bladed forces would appear here and now.
"Sir, what should we do now?" The caller's forehead was dripping with sweat. His superior was unforgiving of failure — he was deeply afraid that he would lose his head over this.
"Looks like the situation is a little complicated." The bladed forces' involvement was clearly a concern to the other. "Ling Xiao's son ... perhaps they are using him as bait now."
"It can't be." The caller just could not believe it. Ling Xiao was the Federation's hero — how could they treat a hero's child so heartlessly?
"Hmph. For their own benefit, what wouldn't the people in power abandon?" The other laughed coldly, tone mocking as he continued, "If Ling Xiao were still alive, and found out that the country he defended with his life was using his only descendant as bait, putting him in danger, he would probably be filled with endless regret."
As if finding his own words rather pointless, the mechanical voice regrouped and commanded sternly, "Forget going after Ling Xiao's son. Using him as bait to draw us out? In their dreams!"
"Understood!" The caller reflexively stood up to receive his orders, however, he was still worried, so he asked, "Sir, that boy is the child of a legendary operator — according to the transmitted data, his potential is excellent. If he is like Ling Xiao, and grows up to be another legendary operator for the Federation, this will be very disadvantageous for our Empire. Shouldn't we just take the risk and eliminate him ...?" Legendary operators were just too strong beyond belief, capable of deciding the ultimate outcome of a battle if they were present.
The speaker of the mechanical voice picked up on the worried tone of his subordinate, and chided in dissatisfaction, "Didn't you do research on the information regarding legendary operators? Over the last several hundred years, has the offspring of any legendary operator manage to achieve that pinnacle? Even ascending to the level of an ace operator has been difficult for them. Didn't the geneticists of our Empire publicize their research thesis? When a particular bloodline has culminated in a legendary operator, that means that the energy potential within the genes of that bloodline has already peaked. This also means that all the energy potential of that bloodline has been consumed by the produced legendary operator, resulting in his descendants becoming more and more mediocre ... Ling Xiao's descendants are done for."
Otherwise, Ling Xiao's son Ling Lan wouldn't have failed to even make the top 10 of the Central Scout Academy. The decline of the Ling family was a foregone conclusion, so they weren't really worth their attention.
This news dropped onto the caller's head like a bomb, sending his mind reeling. If Ling Xiao's son wasn't a real threat to the empire, then why had his superior spent so much effort trying to assassinate Ling Lan?
As if sensing his subordinate's bewilderment, the mechanical voice rang out once more through the communicator, "It has been almost seven years since Ling Xiao's death, but all the military personnel of the Federation have not forgotten this extraordinary legendary operator, still filled with unflagging admiration for him. If at this time, news that his son had been assassinated by official mecha operators of the Federation were to spread ... how do you think the military men in service of the Chinese Federation will react?"
The sweat started to flow freely from the caller's forehead. "They may start to suspect that Ling Xiao's death was due to a conspiracy, a sacrifice in the power struggle among the upper ranks of the military — a mutiny may occur within the Federation." Who knew that his boss had been planning to use Ling Lan's death to set up such a large stage?
"What a pity the opponent also thought of the same thing, and decided to just play along with our trick, choosing to use Ling Xiao's son as a sacrificial pawn to bait us. I think, even if we really killed Ling Xiao's son, the opponent will be able to fabricate evidence to pin the blame on our Empire." The mechanical voice was filled with regret. This exchange was his loss — it was just lucky that he had discovered this early on, and managed to clean up after himself, only exposing some unimportant pawns in the process.
Listening to the analysis of the situation by the mechanical voice, the caller's forehead was beaded with sweat; he had almost ruined his superior's grand plan. He quickly nodded and bowed, saying, "Yes, Sir, I understand now."
"We shall scatter our forces and lay low for now. Don't do anything rash. The matter of the Ling family ends here." The mechanical voice decisively gave up on the operation to assassinate Ling Lan. He just could not let the opponent pin the death of Ling Xiao's son upon the head of the Empire.
Ling Xiao's death had already shown him the fervour of the military men of the Federation. Due to his death, the conflict between the two nations had escalated into an epic long-standing feud, which currently still showed no signs of stopping. If Ling Xiao's son's death became more fuel to the flame, he was afraid that the Empire would become overrun by those military men of the Federation and be utterly destroyed.
"Yes, Sir," responded the caller, before carefully shutting his communicator and turning to relay his superior's orders.
Just like that, the threat towards Ling Lan was resolved. When Ling Lan later became the Federation's star warrior of a new generation, these people would be filled with regret, beating themselves up for not choosing to continue with their assassination operation ...
Meanwhile, the commander of the Blades had received news from 413, who had secretly escorted Ling Lan all the way home. The assassination attempt this time had chilled him, even as it infuriated him. He had never expected that the opponent had already managed to secretly control some of the high-ranking people within the federal military.
The band of mecha operators 413's squad had captured and brought in were indeed serving military men of the Federation, but unfortunately, they really didn't know anything and were just a bunch of idiots who had been used.
Still, the commander of the Blades had been able to confirm that the power base of the opponent hidden within the Federation was considerable, and that a bunch of traitors had already been gathered around him. But for now, his greatest worry was for Ling Lan's safety. Ling Lan may have narrowly escaped this time — but what about next time?
The commander of the Blades hesitated for a brief moment, but finally connected to that particular contact number once more ... in the end, when he shut his communicator, the tension in his brows had faded and his expression was light and cheerful.
Although that old fellow had mercilessly extorted a substantial sum from him, it was alright as long as his objective had been achieved. At the most he'll just have to take on a couple more strenuous jobs in the meantime, but for the preservation of the bloodline of the Federation, this trouble was worth it!
Early the second day, Ling Lan finally escaped from the torments of Number Five. With low spirits, she levered herself out of bed and washed up, and then rapidly wolfed down her prepared breakfast. There was no helping it — the distance to school was rather far, so she needed to hurry to make sure she had enough time for the journey. Of course, Ling Lan was also considering whether she should look for a place close to the scout academy to live — wasting so much time every day on commuting was not a sustainable plan in Ling Lan's opinion.
Ling Lan decided that she would discuss the matter with her mother when she returned from school that day. Just as she finished her preparations and was about to leave, an unexpected guest showed up on the Ling family doorstep — the dean of the Central Scout Academy.
The dean's arrival was for one purpose only, and that was for Ling Lan to give up her special class right to be a day student. This was because Ling Lan was the only person this year who chose to be a day student, so the dean was concerned that Ling Lan's grades and progress would be held back by this.
Of course, as the academy was the one to request for the student to relinquish this right, the academy promised that Ling Lan could request something else from the academy, as long as the request was within the academy's means.
Although Lan Luofeng was very tempted by this offer, she could not agree. Why had Ling Lan chosen to be a day student to begin with after all? Because of the problem of her gender. If she stayed with someone else, the risk of exposure would be too high — Lan Luofeng could not afford to take the risk.
Even if Lan Luofeng wanted to refuse, she still needed to have a legitimate reason for refusing. This moment fully displayed Lan Luofeng's ability to improvise. In an instant, she actually managed to concoct a believable excuse — she said that ever since Ling Xiao had passed away, she had contracted an extremely severe case of depression. Consequently, she could not bear to be apart from her loved ones for long. If Ling Lan were to board at the school, she would be unable to control herself, and may end up harming herself.
Ling Qin, who was standing to one side, was very cooperative, immediately affecting an extremely morose expression, nodding gravely to affirm that what his mistress said was true. Meanwhile, with a face full of worry for her mother, Ling Lan regretfully declined the dean's kind offer.
Playing the pity card was obviously a smart move, for the dean's expression was awkward and filled with helplessness. Just as the three believed that the dean would give up on his plan, the dean seemed to come to some momentous decision and suggested an arrangement that shocked the three of them.
He actually suggested that Lan Luofeng live together with Ling Lan in the school. And since the academy had the iron-clad rule of not allowing non-staff to live on campus, the dean even went so far as to offer Lan Luofeng a position at the school as a teaching assistant, so that she could legitimately board at the school.
The dean also promised that Ling Lan and her mother could live alone in one of the villas at the school, where they wouldn't be disturbed. On top of that, the dean even specially permitted Lan Luofeng to bring along two servants to help her manage the villa.
With this, there was no longer any reason for the three to refuse. Ling Lan quickly thanked the dean, agreed that she would relinquish her right to be a day student, and would try her best to finalise the procedures required to board at the school as soon as possible.
Having received a satisfactory answer, the dean was greatly pleased and automatically offered to give Ling Lan the day off so that she could finalise all the procedures today itself. Then, without leaving a trace of his visit, he left, only leaving behind three dumbfounded people who hadn't regained their senses sitting in the living room.
The dean walked out of the Ling family gates, boarded his hover car, and finally dropped his noble bearing to slump in his seat. He wiped the sweat from his forehead, and once again lamented to himself at how difficult the Ling family was to handle. He thought back to the time when he had to persuade Ling Xiao — he had also had to sacrifice a lot then to succeed ...
However, he had still managed to achieve what his old friend had asked of him. Although the academy had had to pay a steep price, the result was still wonderful. The dean smiled in satisfaction. He had gotten many concessions from his old friend for this, so it was overall worth it.
Ling Qin was the first to regain his senses. With a face full of joy, he turned to say to Lan Luofeng, "Mistress, this is a great thing! If Young Master Lan lives at the school, her safety is guaranteed."
Lan Luofeng remained uncertain and suspicious, smiling wryly as she said, "Uncle Qin, why do you think the academy is so accommodating towards Ling Lan, even going so far as to open a backdoor like this for her? I'm very worried. Ling Lan had just been ambushed, and now right after, the Central Scout Academy is giving Ling Lan such preferential treatment?"
It should be known that the gates of the Central Scout Academy were not so easily entered. The work benefits offered by the school was unquestionably the best in the Federation, so even a lowly teaching assistant position there was still highly sought after by countless highly-educated people. Lan Luofeng had never dreamed that such a coveted position would just fall into her lap due to her connection with Ling Lan. Of course, Lan Luofeng was not impressed by the position since she didn't need it. Although the Ling family seemed weak now, it still had a substantial foundation, enough so that both Ling Lan and Lan Luofeng could live N-lifetimes without having to trouble themselves over living expenses.
Lan Luofeng's words made Ling Qin hesitate as well — could it be that this was just another plot against Ling Lan? Ling Qin was beginning to become a little fearful. The assassination attempt and its series of attacks had troubled the heart of the old man, and he hadn't had time to get over it yet.
Seeing this, Ling Lan hurried to remind them, "I hear that the Central Scout Academy has the highest safety ranking, and students are prized most highly by the academy. Ever since the academy has been established, not a single student has ever been harmed on school grounds. Grandpa Ling Qin, is this rumour true?"
Ling Qin's eyes brightened, as if reminded of something, "Mistress, Young Master Lan is correct. The scout academies are run independently of any government or military system, and legendary operators are the ones in charge of protecting them ..."
Ling Qin's gaze was passionate and heated; Ling Lan was very familiar with such eyes — some rabid fans of superstars in her previous world had eyes which shined with the exact same type of light.
Ling Lan knew that Ling Qin's passionate reaction was drawn out by the legendary operators he mentioned. What exactly was that all about?
Ling Lan was determined to let Little Four dig up some information on this later on. Suddenly, she realised that she really didn't know much about this world at all. The assassination incident had given her her first glimpse of real mecha, blinding her with obsession for a moment ... these past few years, she had just been focused on training hard and had rather neglected all the interesting things in the outside world.
In truth, Ling Lan could not be blamed for this. Some information was actually classified by the government, and Little Four had felt that Ling Lan really didn't need to know about these sort of things at her age, and so hadn't collected these information. As such, Ling Lan naturally wouldn't have known about any of this.
Thus, poor Ling Lan was still unaware that her father was the idol of the military men of the Federation, and that he had been the youngest legendary operator of the Federation.
Ling Qin's words reassured Lan Luofeng, and so she happily ran upstairs to pack for both Ling Lan and herself.
Just like that, Ling Lan did not show up in Special Class-A for the first official day of school. When the homeroom teacher of Special Class-A glossed over the fact that Ling Lan had already applied for the day off, his tone was obviously protective. This stirred up the discontent of the other students in Special Class-A, provoking a flurry of private discussion ...
While Qi Long didn't think much of the matter, Luo Lang seemed to have sensed something, but only Han Jijyun had a serious expression on his face ...
Boss Lan, who are you really?