Chapter 27: The True Intention of the Test
Translator: ryuxenji Editor: H2dH2mr
They hadn’t run for long when the sunny skies above them turned dark and foreboding. Storm clouds gathered, and thunder rumbled ominously. Right at the front, Qi Long cursed, "Damn our luck! Why did it only start to rain when it’s our turn? Hurry up, everyone, or else it’ll be even harder to run once it really starts raining, and our results will definitely be affected."
After he finished speaking, Qi Long was just about to speed up when Han Jijyun called out from behind, "Long, don’t speed up. Just keep your current pace."
Qi Long was confused. He didn’t understand why Han Jijyun wanted to stop him from speeding up; if it really started to rain, they would have to expend much more energy running through the rain, and the rain would affect their speed as well … Their score in this test was based on how quickly they could arrive at the end point, so shouldn’t they try to cover more ground now before it rained?
Although Qi Long’s mind was full of doubts, one of his strengths was self-awareness. He knew that his blood-sworn brother Han Jijyun was much smarter than him, so much smarter that he could only look on in envy. Since his sworn brother had said so, there must be something that he missed — it had been proven enough times in the past that it was never wrong to listen to Han Jijyun, so he would put his faith in his brother.
And so Qi Long decisively dismissed his worries, and kept running at his original pace. It had to be said that none of the children in Ling Lan’s group were particularly competitive in nature, other than Luo Lang. And although Luo Lang was prideful, he was also an intelligent boy, so when he heard Han Jijyun’s advice to Qi Long, he also decided not to speed up, merely keeping pace behind Qi Long.
Among their peers, Han Jijyun’s intelligence was publicly acknowledged. Even Luo Lang admired Han Jijyun for his intelligence, but unfortunately, Han Jijyun had befriended that idiot Qi Long before he could get to know him. He was full of regret that he had moved too slowly and felt that it was such a waste — if he had managed to get to Han Jijyun first, Qi Long would never have had a chance.
The other kids also maintained their original pace, keeping close to the group so that they weren’t left behind. Anyone who could attend the enrolment tests of the Central Scout Academy of Doha was no idiot — Qi Long and Luo Lang’s fight had shown them that the two were much stronger than them, so if the two of them weren’t afraid of wasting time, why should they be afraid?
Han Jijyun quickened his steps to catch up to Ling Lan, and jogged by her side. In low tones, he asked, "Ling Lan, what do you think?" Han Jijyun’s gut just told him that Ling Lan knew something.
"Didn’t you already notice it yourself?" asked back Ling Lan with a wounded gaze. Dammit, this was truly what was meant by heaven-blessed. Han Jijyun was only six years old, but he was already observant enough to discover something wrong with the situation — she felt pitiful in comparison.
She had only noticed the problem thanks to her experience of two lifetimes, as well as the intensive training and trials provided the learning mind-space. This year especially, Ling Lan had been free of any specific training menu or missions, but had been tormented by Number One via all sorts of methods, causing her to view everything with suspicion now. Looking deeper into everything by at least several layers had become her default reaction.
Han Jijyun was oblivious of Ling Lan’s hurt little soul, continuing in a stern manner, "Hn, it won’t matter whether we speed up or not, what will come will come. Perhaps they want to see how we react under pressure."
"The examiner did not set a clear path for us, I suspect that … this test might not have a typical finish line," admitted Ling Lan. Han Jijyun’s intelligence allowed Ling Lan to speak freely without worry.
She could finally throw off her sheepskin of a child! Hanging out with such a talented child meant that her own talents would seem less freakish as well. Ling Lan was so happy she could cry — these six years of playing a kid hadn’t been easy.
Han Jijyun turned thoughtful at Ling Lan’s words. After a while, he responded, "Possibly, the test had already begun the moment we stepped onto the field."
"What do you mean?"
"Is this really a field?" Han Jijyun’s words jolted Ling Lan into awareness. She thought back to when she first entered the field — that entrance had not at all been like a regular entrance to a field.
"Wait and watch," said Ling Lan and Han Jijyun in almost perfect unison as their eyes met. Since they had already been caught up in the illusion, all they could do was continue and take things as they came.
After that, they had only run a little bit further when it started raining cats and dogs. Ling Lan’s party of ten were quickly soaked to the bone, and the rain obscured their vision while turning the earth beneath their feet into mud. The clothes on their body became heavy with rainwater and clung to their bodies, dragging them down. Under these conditions, having run for several thousand metres, lethargy started settling in. The two girls were hit especially hard and had already started to pant.
"This is real water, not an illusion," Ling Lan concluded after paying close attention to the signals her body were sending her. It looked like the setting of this test was using a combination of illusions and real props. There was no doubt that in this space they were occupying, there were sprinklers equipped all over the ceiling overhead …
Since they already knew that they were walking within a virtual environment within a room, Ling Lan decided to ignore what she could see as she tried to construct an image of the underlying room in her mind.
Admittedly, the virtual field presented to everyone had been nicely done — the racetrack of a field was just a large circular circuit, so even if those caught within the illusion ran multiple laps around the track, they would still never suspect that they were merely within an enclosed room.
Ling Lan’s group ran another few thousand metres — although it felt like they had run countless circles around the track, not a single examiner came to inform them about how many laps they had left. This seemingly endless test began to cause the hearts of some of the weaker children to waver. In particular, the two girls’ speed had dropped considerably, and they had fallen behind till they were at the very tail end of the group.
The two boys who were related to the girls, Luo Lang and Han Jijyun, merely turned a blind eye to this, however, continuing to run forward at a steady pace.
Seeing this, Ling Lan frowned. Shouldn’t they try to help the girls?
Han Jijyun seemed to notice Ling Lan’s hesitation, and quickly explained, "To become a proper soldier, one has to rely on one’s own strength. Helping her would be harming her instead. On the battlefield, you can’t rely on others to survive."
Han Jijyun’s words made a lot of sense, and Ling Lan was not a saint who would insist on helping. She was just about to ignore the girls when a thought flashed through her mind, causing her to pause in consideration.
Was this truly just a test of stamina and speed? If that was the case, the objective could just as easily be achieved on a regular field — was it really necessary to use such precious illusion technology to create this virtual environment? Furthermore, why split them into so many groups?
She recalled the marathons she had seen in her previous life, where tens of thousands of people could run together at the same time. Ling Lan had taken note of the width of the race track — it was about 50 metres wide. Even if not everyone could run at the same time, the track could still easily handle up to several hundreds or thousands of people. Wouldn’t doing so speed up the testing process and save time?
Perhaps, the test was meant to test something else as well — what was the true intention of the test? Ling Lan knew that the answer to this question was probably the key to this test. If she could figure it out, then she would know how to pass the test.
What other hints had there been in the examiner’s speech? Sensing Ling Lan’s thoughts, Little Four helpfully provided a replay of what the examiner had said.
Tsk, only revealing what he wanted you to know, while keeping everything else a mystery — as expected of special examiners handpicked from the military forces …
Wait a minute. Handpicked from the military forces? Military forces? Realisation sparked in Ling Lan’s mind — she got it! Since all their examiners were from the military forces, was this in itself a hint? Moreover, a group of ten men was precisely the smallest possible military unit in the military forces!