Ling Lan moved, and the three followers behind her moved with her. Very quickly, they were all standing before Li Yingjie.
"Lin Zhong-qing, why haven't you bought the set meals?" Ling Lan's tone was brusque.
If he wanted to borrow her strength, then Lin Zhong-qing should understand that this strength was not so easily borrowed. What needed to be paid still needed to be paid — Ling Lan had no intentions of working for free.
Ling Lan's words settled Lin Zhong-qing, and he responded, "Classmate Ling Lan, I'm sorry for making you wait." He swept his gaze towards Li Yingjie's group as if telling Ling Lan that they were the culprits stopping him from buying the food.
Ling Lan obligingly followed Lin Zhong-qing's gaze to cast her attention upon Li Yingjie's group, and with affected surprise, she quirked a brow and said, "Oh? It's Classmate Li! What's up? Do you all have some business with Lin Zhong-qing?"
Ling Lan's surprised look was so obviously faked that Li Yingjie's face immediately flushed with anger. Ling Lan had clearly seen him here from the start but was so blatantly lying. Through gritted teeth, he said, "Oh, so it's Classmate Ling Lan. I do have some business with him." If Ling Lan wanted to pretend, then he would play along and pretend as well — he was sure he could pretend even better than Ling Lan.
Ling Lan nodded, and said almost casually, "Then let's do this on a first come first served basis then. Classmate Li, why don't you wait till Classmate Lin has completed my requests first before coming to look for him again ..." As if suddenly thinking of something, Ling Lan added, "A month later sounds about right."
A little coyly, she continued, "Classmate Lin lost to me, you see, so no matter what, he needs to serve me for a month first. So sorry to let you down."
Ling Lan's words almost caused Li Yingjie to spew blood. This was basically telling him that Lin Zhong-qing was now under Ling Lan's protection.
Li Yingjie could no longer maintain a friendly appearance. With a frigid expression, he said lowly, "Ling Lan, you're really going to oppose me now?"
Ling Lan's expression was innocent as she asked Lin Zhong-qing, "Classmate Lin, do you want to stop carrying out the terms of the bet you lost when you lost the challenge?"
Lin Zhong-qing shook his head firmly. "No."
With a helpless look on her face, Ling Lan shrugged at Li Yingjie. "Classmate Li, it's not that I want to oppose you, but Classmate Lin isn't ready to break his promise." Ling Lan's expression seemed to imply that Li Yingjie was barking up the wrong tree by being angry at her.
This performance by Ling Lan made Li Yingjie even angrier, yet he couldn't find any way to refute what Ling Lan had said. His face flushed an even deeper red in bottled anger.
Ling Lan was unconcerned with the near-exploding Li Yingjie. Turning her head, she said to Lin Zhong-qing, "Why are you still standing there? We're almost starving to death."
"Yes, Classmate Ling Lan, I'll bring your lunches over immediately." Ling Lan's response had already surpassed Lin Zhong-qing's expectations — he was a little groggy, unsure why the thus far cold and unfriendly Ling Lan would help him this much. Initially, he had only wished for Ling Lan to confirm that he was serving him, just so he had an excuse to refuse Li Yingjie.
Ling Lan was satisfied. She directed a slightly apologetic smile at Li Yingjie, and then led Qi Long and the others away from the area.
This almost dismissive attitude was quickly driving Li Yingjie mad — he wanted to stop Ling Lan and teach him a good lesson, but he just damnably couldn't find a usable excuse. Right then, he hated the fact that he was within the Central Scout Academy. If this were the outside world, he would definitely use his power and authority to 'take care' of this detestable, arrogant bastard before him. (Right now, in his eyes, even Ling Lan's most normal attitude would be taken as a personal taunt.)
When the boss gets mad, it was naturally up to the followers to help the boss take out his anger. A lackey-boy dressed in a white school uniform leapt out, but knowing that Ling Lan's group wasn't something he could handle, he didn't dare to say anything to them. Instead, he set his sights on the seemingly more bulliable Lin Zhong-qing. "Lin Zhong-qing, don't you dare leave! If you leave, I'll make it so your life's hell!"
Perhaps this punk had gotten used to being an arrogant little sh*t since young, for his first impulse was to threaten. Thing was, his threat made all the watching students burst out into laughter, and of course, this laughter was filled with mockery.
This mocking laughter caused the white-coat lackey's face to flush and pale erratically. In that moment, he just couldn't figure out why he was being laughed at.
Actually, he couldn't be blamed for this. It wasn't unusual for new students who had just entered the Central Scout Academy to find it difficult to adapt to their new roles within the school. Particularly those second-generation young lords who were used to getting their way from young — it was even easier for them to make a mistake. Only once they had tasted the bitter consequences would they understand that the world within the Central Scout Academy was entirely different from their previous world.
In this world where the strong dominate and everything was based on personal strength, the distinction between the elite and the humble was represented by the colour of their school uniforms. Every six months, the internal academy re-ranking was the chance for the students to find a new foothold in life.
Therefore, how could a white-coat student threaten a red-coat student? The school disciplinary committee would make them understand that the results of violating the colour hierarchy was not something they could bear.
Li Yingjie glared fiercely at that follower who still didn't know that he had violated the school rules. No matter how much Lin Zhong-qing was ignored within Special Class-A, he was still a red-coat student — how could a white-coat student threaten a red-coat student so brazenly? If the academy administration found out, this follower of his would be in a world of trouble.
Lin Zhong-qing turned his head, casting a scornful look at that white-coat student. "I would really like to see, how exactly you would make my life hell." Although he was meek by necessity within Special Class-A, this didn't mean that he would take bullying from the students of the other classes. The red clothes he was wearing represented his status, his dignity.
The white-coat lackey still looked as if he wanted to say something when Li Yingjie said curtly, "He Fei."
Sensing Li Yingjie's rage, the white-coat lackey, otherwise known as He Fei, didn't dare to say anything more.
Li Yingjie looked at Lin Zhong-qing, and asked coldly, "Lin Zhong-qing, you've really decided?" Lin Zhong-qing's family background was common, and his strength wasn't outstanding in Special Class-A, which was why Li Yingjie had initially set Lin Zhong-qing as his first target. He had intended to make Lin Zhong-qing his subordinate, and then slowly tame the other Special Class-A students until he finally managed to achieve full control of Class-A. What a pity this Lin Zhong-qing was such a stubborn fellow — actually ignoring his invitation from the very beginning, until his direct refusal at the end. Not just that, Lin Zhong-qing had aligned himself with the group of people he hated the most.
"Yes, I, Lin Zhong-qing, always mean what I say." Lin Zhong-qing's demeanour was tough and intractable, leaving no retreat for himself. If small obstacles like this could cause him to shrink back, he would never have been able to survive those couple of years in the laboratories. While other children were growing up under the care and affection of their parents, he had already learned how to think for himself, knowing that he would have to depend on himself to obtain the life he wanted.
"Fine, in that case, I won't force the issue." Li Yingjie was straightforward when it came down to it; he truly let go of the idea of recruiting Lin Zhong-qing to his side right then. With a cold expression, he turned to his band of followers and said, "Why are you all still standing? Sit down and eat."
All of his followers were students with uniforms of other colours, so of course they didn't dare to ignore Li Yingjie's orders. They all quickly sat down and began eating.
No longer surrounded, Lin Zhong-qing finally released a sigh. Having Li Yingjie give up on his own was the best outcome for him. Still, he didn't let his guard down yet, afraid that Li Yingjie was only distracting him with empty words, but was actually planning to deal with him privately.
Lin Zhong-qing knew very well that, with his current abilities, he could not stand up to Li Yingjie. The principle of 'survival of the fittest' was protecting him, yet placing him in danger at the same time. The moment Li Yingjie decided to go after him, he would definitely be in trouble. This was the reason why he was willing to stoop so far to insinuate himself into Ling Lan's group's favour.
Indeed, from the very first day of school, Li Yingjie had already set his eye on Lin Zhong-qing. Meanwhile, Lin Zhong-qing had no intention whatsoever of becoming anyone's follower — six years of life within a laboratory had been enough; he wasn't about to so easily let go of the precious freedom he had regained. Yet, he couldn't stand up to Li Yingjie with his own strength. And so he had cracked his head trying to think of a way to help him out of this mess ...
Initially, Lin Zhong-qing had been banking on Qi Long or Luo Lang. Their challenge battles on the first day to get the seats they wanted had shown Lin Zhong-qing just how strong they were. They had respectively managed to defeat the initial rank 5 and rank 8 of the class without much trouble, suggesting that their strength was on par with the top 3 of the original ranking. However, he had then inadvertently heard Qi Long and Luo Lang talking about their absent boss Ling Lan, and changed his mind.
Since that absentee had the ability to be the boss of these two formidable students, Ling Lan's strength must not be any weaker than that of Li Yingjie's. As long as he could borrow some of Ling Lan's power, he should be able to escape the clutches of Li Yingjie. And so, this had led to his challenge towards Ling Lan.
From the very beginning of the challenge, he had already known that he would lose. However, what he wanted wasn't victory, but to lose the challenge so he could obtain the 'punishment' of serving the other for a month. A month's worth of buffer time was sufficient for him to grow and improve so that he could find a better way to handle Li Yingjie.
The result of all this strategizing was worth it! Although Lin Zhong-qing wasn't sure if Li Yingjie had truly let go, he could at least avoid Li Yingjie's outright forceful manoeuvring, having earned some breathing space.
Lin Zhong-qing, who was waiting for the service robot to deliver the set meals, thought about all that had happened thus far. He clenched his fists, eyes shining with a fierce light. As long as he had enough time, he would no longer let anyone be in a position to threaten him again. An intense desire to grow stronger blazed high within Lin Zhong-qing's heart.
Meanwhile, at that moment, Ling Lan, who had been waiting at the dining table for Lin Zhong-qing to bring the set meals over, was talking with Qi Long and the others when, suddenly, her expression tightened minutely, but the change was quickly smoothed away. Her strange expression lasted for only a microsecond, and had not been picked up by Qi Long or any of the others.
"Little Four, enlarge and dissect that expression of Li Yingjie's ..." Ling Lan ordered Little Four within the mindspace.
"Yes, Boss!" Little Four was very excited — finally, it was his chance to shine again! He must live up to the title of number one follower after all.
In the mindspace, the trace of vicious anger in Li Yingjie's eyes was enlarged by Little Four, and then it was studied closely — up, down, left, right, near, far, and from multiple angles. After much comparison and checking, it was confirmed that the target of that gaze was Lin Zhong-qing ...
"Boss, what do we do next?" Little Four seemed ready to stir up some trouble.
Ling Lan rolled her eyes at him. "Do what? Doughnut! Just go back and rest." Since Li Yingjie's target was Lin Zhong-qing, then she wasn't going to spend time worrying about it.
Ling Lan was not a saint. Lin Zhong-qing? Helping him once was already her being merciful. Subsequently, whether or not he could tide the waves was all up to himself.It's just meant as a dismissive sarcastic sort of response since there really wasn't anything Ling Lan wanted to do about the situation Little Four was asking about. The literal translation of the original here is "What to do? Cold dishes!", which only really makes sense in Chinese as it's a play on words that has to do with the actual sound of the characters (i.e. "Zen yang ban? Liang ban!"). So, I tried to keep the spirit of the wordplay, hence this resulting translation. :3 (And lookie, it's still a food pun! XD)