Chapter 29: The Final Lap
Translator: ryuxenji Editor: H2dH2mr
The superintendent suppressed his surging emotions, putting his full focus on the performance of the ten children on the screen. Finally, he smiled with satisfaction and said, "End their test and let them out."
The officer in charge of monitoring Ling Lan’s group wavered, and asked, "Then how shall we score them?"
The superintendent glared. "Do you need me to teach you something so simple? How much time did they take to complete the course? And how is their condition now?"
The officer’s eyes brightened. "Understood, Sir."
Meanwhile, on Ling Lan’s end, the group of ten had been holding out for another few rounds. By now, even the indomitable Qi Long and Luo Lang were starting to tire. Running with another person on your back was worlds apart from running on your own — after just a few rounds, they had begun to feel the doubled strain on their bodies. Initially, they had thought that they would be able to persist for another ten to twenty rounds, but now they weren't so sure about that.
Among the ten children, Ling Lan was definitely the one in the best condition. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that she was never tired — because from the moment they had started running, Ling Lan had been circulating her Qi.
Ever since she had tasted its fruits in the strength test, Ling Lan had harboured suspicions that the Qi exercises still had secrets for her to uncover. So, she decided to apply it once again during the running test. Clearly, her decision was a wise one — after running for so long, she was still brimming with energy, and her vital stats remained at the same levels as when she was at rest.
These numbers were all supplied by Little Four. While Ling Lan was marvelling at her discovery, Little Four had shuffled over … To put it nicely, he wanted to help Ling Lan research the Qi exercises and fulfil his role as a contracted assistant … but in truth, Little Four was just bored because he had no access to the internet here.
Still, with Little Four’s help, Ling Lan very quickly understood the secrets of the Qi exercises. Apparently, circulating Qi could replenish the body’s energy as it was being expended, as well as repair any damage affecting the body’s functions, allowing the body to maintain peak condition over long periods of time.
Of course, Little Four also noted that the current situation, where her body was maintaining a stasis between expenditure and recovery, was only possible because Ling Lan was not using much energy right now. If Ling Lan were to carry someone and run, like Qi Long or Luo Lang, full equilibrium would probably be impossible — some energy would still be expended. That said, Little Four encouraged Ling Lan by adding that the amount of energy recovered by the Qi exercises would increase the more she trained and circulated her Qi, to the point that eventually, she may possibly never have to worry about her energy levels ever again. (Of course, this was only a possibility after several decades of training … but Little Four decided that Ling Lan didn’t really need to know that.)
Ling Lan, who was still as sprightly as ever, looked at the sweat streaming from Qi Long and Luo Lang’s foreheads as their steps started to slow. She could tell that their stamina was starting to fail, and that they might soon be unable to go on. Ling Lan was unsure whether she should offer to take over and help them — she wanted to, but she was also afraid that she would stand out too much by doing that. If only there was a way for her to help without being noticed …
Currently, under Little Four’s regulation, Ling Lan’s outward condition appeared to be similar to that of Han Jijyun’s. Both of them were panting hard, and the backs of their shirts were drenched with sweat. After all, she had been helping the weakest boy in their group all this time — although she wasn’t piggybacking the boy like Qi Long, carrying part of another’s weight was still naturally more tiring than running solo.
A devil and an angel were fighting in Ling Lan’s mind as she pondered this dilemma. But before one of them could overpower the other, the outside world had already made Ling Lan’s decision for her.
Luo Lang cheered as he pointed towards one side, "I see a sign! One more lap left!"
Luo Lang’s words were like a shot of adrenaline to the heart. Some of the children who were on the brink of giving up rallied themselves for a final push.
Ling Lan looked towards where Luo Lang was pointing at, and saw an examiner lifting a display screen, which only had a number one written on it in Arabic numerals. This clearly indicated that they only had one more lap left to go.
Seeing this, Han Jijyun encouraged the group onwards, "Just one more lap left. We need to hold on no matter what. Make sure no one is left behind!"
"Okay!" all the other nine members of the group shouted in response, Ling Lan included. They would get through this final round no matter what.
Han Xuya suddenly inhaled sharply, and yelled, "Qi Long, put me down."
"What’s wrong?" asked Qi Long in surprise.
"The last round. I can do it." It was impossible for Han Xuya not to have noticed Qi Long’s fatigue, and she didn’t want Qi Long’s results to be affected because of her. Qi Long was meant for the Special A-class. For this final round, she would run on her own, even if she fainted before she could finish … she didn’t want to burden Qi Long any longer.
On the other side, Luo Chao was also trying to convince Luo Lang to put her down for mostly the same reason. She didn’t want her brother’s results to be dragged down because of her. The two girls wanted Qi Long and Luo Lang to run at full speed for this final lap so that they could battle it out for the best time.
Han Jijyun stepped in to dissuade them, "It’s already the final lap. If we don’t all make it to the end, then what we’ve been doing so far will all be for nothing. Besides, you all should know what true soldiers do — they never leave a comrade behind!"
Han Jijyun’s words were like a ray of light. Several of the quick-witted children had immediately figured out what he was saying. Han Xuya and Luo Chao, who had initially still wanted to protest, also changed their minds at Han Jijyun’s words. Instead, Han Xuya urged, "Qi Long, pull me quickly, let’s move faster." Since they had already decided to finish together, then they couldn’t afford to waste even one more second.
And so, the strong pulled the weak in Ling Lan’s group, and just like that, they supported each other as they hastened towards the finish line. At this time, Ling Lan took charge of pulling along the weakest two boys, leaving Han Jijyun free to run on his own. Han Jijyun threw a grateful glance in her direction — Ling Lan’s help was much appreciated. His stamina was almost completely gone; if he still had to pull along another person, he was uncertain if he could actually finish this final lap.
Outside the virtual environment testing room was an open-air café where more than a few of the examiners were seated, drinking tea and chatting with one another. This test was a long one which would last for at least three to four hours. Naturally, the examiners would not just sit outside the testing room and wait the whole time — most of them would typically order a cup of tea or coffee here to pass the time, and perhaps find a few familiar friends to chat with.
Similarly, the on-site examiner responsible for room 72 was talking to a few close friends. He was just getting comfortable when the communication device on his wrist started beeping.
He tapped the accept button on the device, and with a silver flash, a holographic screen appeared before him. Simultaneously, the image of the officer in charge of monitoring room 72 appeared on the screen.
"Notice, the testees in room 72 are about to complete the test. Please make the necessary preparations."
The examiner was bewildered. "Complete the test? In less than two hours? Really?" He really could not be blamed for his disbelief, for there had never been a record of this test being completed in less than two hours in all the history of the scout academy tests. The only exceptions were the children who had to be removed early from the room when they fainted out of exhaustion.
However, there was no such notification from his communication device, which was tracking the status of the ten children he was responsible for. None of the dots representing the ten children were red, which indicated unconsciousness, or even yellow, which meant their body had given out on them. All the dots were still green, indicating that they were all still conscious and that their bodies were still capable of going on.
The invigilator of room 72 observed the incredulous face of the on-site examiner, and couldn’t help but laugh. He kindly reminded him, "You should hurry, otherwise you won’t make it in time. Also, the kids in that group are great kids. You won’t be disappointed."
Without giving the examiner any chance to ask any further questions, the invigilator of room 72 ended the video call. He grinned to himself as he recalled the shocked face of the examiner — coming here to monitor these kids had not been so boring after all.
The examiner stared blankly at the dark screen before him, speechless. This blasted invigilator — couldn’t he have explained more clearly?
The rest of the on-site examiners had also heard their conversation, all of whom were now looking at him in shock. Of course, there were also those who were burning with curiosity, and were just waiting to find out more so they could gossip.
"I’ve got it. Let me find out what’s going on, then I’ll come back and tell you guys. I need to go work now." Pensively, the examiner stood up, calmly grabbing his military cap from the table and putting it on before slowly ambling over to room 72.
Dammit, those children in there had better not disappoint him! The examiner tried to suppress his anticipation … ha, his previous calm had actually been completely faked.