Mission completed, Ling Lan was sent back to the great hall of the learning space by Number One and the others. Little Four was sitting in a corner, nodding off. When Ling Lan appeared, Little Four was immediately shocked awake, and opening his eyes to see Ling Lan, he quickly pounced and hugged her tight.
The sudden extraction of Ling Lan's awareness while she was scheduled for combat had thoroughly frightened Little Four. Although Little Four was also a member of the learning space, he was a support intelligence-entity responsible for helping the host to handle general affairs and had no control over the actions of the learning space. Still, he secretly made a resolution — he would make himself evolve further so that he could help Ling Lan bring the entire learning system under her control, so that the learning space would no longer be able to extract Ling Lan's consciousness as it liked.
This incident led both Ling Lan and Little Four to find their respective objectives for becoming stronger. The two of them no longer just went with the flow, but began working purposefully for the future.
By the time Ling Lan woke up, the arena battles were already all over — Ling Lan ended the ranking battles this time in second place. Ling Lan wasn't all too bothered by this, for Ling Lan's current goal was already not something this small little scout academy could satisfy. She wished even more for even more powerful people to fight.
Ever since Ling Lan came out from the learning space, she had already vaguely gained some insight on the existence of Dao; although she still couldn't borrow any of its energy, this was enough to imbue her body with a trace essence of Dao. In other words, if Ling Lan exposed just a little of this Dao essence, even a tenth grade student would be unable to resist its influence and would become unable to perform at full capacity. This was what made Dao so terrifying — it had the ability to limit and weaken the opponent.
Ling Lan believed that this wasn't all there was to Dao, but she had only just learned of it and was still unclear about what Dao truly was. At the same time, she was also unsure as to the limits of this essence. How strong did an opponent have to be before this Dao essence would lose its effectiveness? All of this still awaited her exploration and research.
However, right now, Ling Lan wasn't ready to delve into this yet. Her entire concentration had been captured by the virtual world. That's right, Ling Lan and the others had finally been approved to enter the virtual space that could stand as a self-contained world of its own. The catch was that they still couldn't freely access and explore the whole virtual world of the Federation, but were restricted to hanging out in the virtual world of the Central Scout Academy.
In Ling Lan's words, this was obviously the 'newbie village' of the game world — only when one's level was high enough would one be able to go out into the big bad world out there.
Still, just this was enough on its own to thrill Ling Lan and the others. Before entering, they promised to meet up at the login point inside. Subsequently, they all went back to their own dorms, and lied down in their respective personal login pods.
The current virtual world was not like that of Ling Lan's previous world. The Federation was extremely strict with the management of the virtual world — the rules and regulations associated with it were no less than that of the real world, and was in fact significantly stricter. It should be known that over the millenniums, there had been over dozens of cases where the anarchy within the virtual world had spilled over to cause catastrophes in real world society. All these incidences caused the federal government to start taking the virtual world seriously, and to come up with various laws specifically targeted towards the regulation of the virtual world, which had also come to be known as humanity's second world.
Of course, the emergence of these regulations caused this second world to become very organised, which in turn led to this second world's rapid development, becoming unbelievably prosperous. It should be known that the Federation's mainframe used a human's brainwaves as the condition for logging in, and that every person's brainwaves were one of a kind, never-changing. Think about it. Every person could only have one ID and one image, no alternate accounts — if someone were caught committing some crime or breaking some law, they would be stripped of their right to log into the virtual world, and may even have to go to jail.
Current humans had already gotten used to existing within a virtual world, living a second life within this secondary world. This made people care very much about their own IDs, taking care with their virtual selves, obeying the law. Of course, if you weren't afraid of the federal government stripping away your right to enter this second world, you could just cause as much trouble as you want.
Naturally, this wasn't foolproof — as technology continued to develop, humans were also continuing to evolve. Black-hat hackers who existed tens of thousands of years ago still existed tens of thousands of years later; but now they were called under one umbrella term — hacker.
This was not because hackers had become weaker, but rather, hackers as a collective had a higher entry point now. Only those whose minds had mutated in a way that allowed them to hide their true self within the virtual world could become a hacker.
Of course, among the hacker collective, there was still a side branch. That was a group of hackers who had the power to harm the electrical brainwaves of other humans, thus being able to commit murder within the virtual world —— they were known by the people of the Federation as 'virtual spectres'! A scary existence capable of 'eating' the souls of humans.
Of course, all this had nothing to do with the present Ling Lan. It was impossible for Ling Lan, who could only hang around the virtual world of the Central Scout Academy, to bump into these fearsome beings; she was currently excitedly waiting for the connection from her login pod to go through.
Very quickly, Ling Lan had arrived at a large hall. It looked very familiar, actually being the exact replica of the Central Scout Academy's great hall. This caused Ling Lan to sweatdrop — who knew the academy would be so shameless as to set the login screen of the login pods to be the school's great hall.
Ling Lan looked left and right, but didn't notice any selection icons of any kind. However, in the near distance, a glimmering pillar of light could be seen slowly rotating.
Just as she was puzzling over the situation, Ling Lan suddenly heard a familiar voice ring out inside her mind, "Boss, do you want to change your name and appearance?"
"Little Four? How did you get here?" Hadn't she been brought here by her brainwaves? How had Little Four been brought along?
Little Four said smugly, "Who do you think I am? I am the god of the virtual world — as long as there is a login signal, is there anywhere I can't go?" Before Ling Lan could ask any other questions, he asked again, "Boss, do you want to change your name and appearance?"
"I was just wondering why there wasn't the option to change my appearance ... where is it? Quickly, tell me," said Ling Lan happily. This was her first time encountering the virtual world, so she was truly clueless how to go about doing things.
At these words, Little Four's expression turned scornful as he said, "Please Boss, what option to change your appearance? There's no such thing. Once the mainframe has confirmed your brainwaves, it'll automatically model your virtual self after your real world name and appearance — and this is also the only ID you can use to enter the virtual world."
Ling Lan said glumly, "Then there wouldn't be any sense of being in a virtual world! Isn't that just like reality?"
"Otherwise, how would the government here be able to control this virtual world?" Little Four wasn't at all surprised.
Ling Lan sighed deeply, feeling rather disillusioned, but she abruptly perked up and asked, "Little Four, what did you say earlier?"
Little Four cast a scornful look at Ling Lan, wondering if Ling Lan had gotten dementia so young. "I asked if Boss wanted to change your name and appearance."
Ling Lan clapped her hands together loudly, "Yes, that." Confused, she asked, "Little Four, if the mainframe generates name and appearance automatically after confirming my brainwaves, then how can you help me change my appearance and ID? And if you help me to change them, will I be stuck that way from now on?"
Little Four glared at Ling Lan, miffed that Ling Lan thought so little of him. He sniffed and said, "Am I that lame? Who do you think I am? God! I can change your brainwave information every time you login to the mainframe, and let you have a different appearance and ID every single time."
Ling Lan was moved, "Doesn't that mean that ... I can have countless alternate accounts?"
Little Four said smugly, "That's right, but I recommend you start out with just your real account and just one alternate account for now. Making too many would also be a waste."
"Why would I use an alternate account?" Ling Lan didn't think that she needed to do anything illegal or unconscionable, so she really didn't see the need for an alternate account.
Little Four looked at her as if she were an idiot. "Don't you want to go out and look around? With the appearance of an adult?"
Ling Lan blinked, startled, but was then overwhelmed with joy, "I can go out? Not just stay confined here in the Central Scout Academy?"
Unhappily, Little Four reminded her once more, "Boss, I already told you, I am a god-like existence. All the restrictions of the virtual world doesn't exist for me. Yup, it's like what you mentioned before — all tofu walls 1 ."
Ling Lan felt dizzy with joy. She thought that she would still be trapped within the scout academy for another few years before she could come into contact with the greater world outside, but unexpectedly, because of Little Four, she could enter mainstream society right now, to get a true understanding of this world.
However, Ling Lan quickly calmed herself — six years of training within the learning space ensured that Ling Lan would never remain in an abnormal mental state for long. Once again, she refused Little Four's offer, because she needed to log in with her real ID and image for today, for this was the day she would be meeting up with her other companions in the virtual world for the first time.
Still, Ling Lan also told Little Four that the next time they had the chance, she would use a fake adult appearance to explore the outside world, to get a better understanding of this virtual world.
Under Little Four's nudging, Ling Lan walked to stand before that pillar of light, which was actually the teleportation tunnel to enter the virtual world. Ling Lan only hesitated for a moment before stepping resolutely into the light.
Ling Lan's entry point was a large plaza, which vaguely resembled the plaza of the Central Scout Academy, except it was bigger and wider. This was also the first entry point for all the students. Ling Lan could already see several familiar figures sitting on one of the long benches in the plaza not too far away, waiting for her to arrive.
Ling Lan walked over, smiling as she said, "You all sure move fast, all of you actually arriving before me."
Seated on the bench, Han Xuya pouted and said somewhat sulkily, "Boss, you are the last one. What took you so long? We've been waiting for almost half a day."
Beside Han Xuya, Luo Chao smiled shyly at Ling Lan, face filled with a quiet joy. For the past few days, because she was afraid that she would affect Ling Lan and the other boys during their fights, she had not gone to the hall to cheer them on, and this had caused Luo Chao's spirits to become a little low. When she saw Ling Lan once more, Luo Chao's mood immediately brightened immensely.
Qi Long, who had become slightly impatient due to the long wait, hurriedly said, "I've asked those NPCs 2 . There are a lot of missions here, which can give us cash, or even let us learn some combat moves."
Qi Long, with his passion for fighting, was completely helpless against this temptation, almost ready to abandon his boss and run off to seek the true path of combat.
Seeing how eager and restless everyone was, Ling Lan said, "Why don't we first exchange contact information, and then just go our own ways for a bit? We can just contact each other if we need any help."
"Okay!" Ling Lan's suggestion was unanimously approved; they all also believed that it was much more convenient to move separately. Just like that, each of them recorded down the others' contact information, and then they all went their separate ways.i.e. soft and easily broken Non-player characters. In other words, A.I. controlled characters.