Translated by JayQue of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Editor: Gwyndolyn, Kris
Heinz felt that he had used up all of his courage but still couldn’t eat the breakfast Chen Bai had made for him. He then admitted defeat to his wife’s cooking without any guts.
He ran back into the room for a change of clothing, thinking of taking Chen Bai out.
“There’s a pretty good breakfast shop nearby,” Heinz explained to a confused Chen Bai, “We can eat there.” While he said that, he remembered to put on his aloof character, his posture purposefully tightening his shirt while putting it on, thinking back on some of his last-minute lessons on wearing clothes handsomely from the forum.
And yet, Chen Bai wasn’t even looking at his performance, but eyed the bowl of watery meat on the table with a very conflicted expression.
“I have class this morning; it’s not convenient for me to go.” Chen Bai thought his activities with Heinz set by the system would end with this bowl of breakfast. He never knew that the other would complicate things. It had completely gone against Chen Bai’s initial wish of minimal contact with Heinz while in Venus, so he really wanted to try to subtly reject the invite.
“Mn, it’s the last class in the morning,” Heinz said, with a self-taught expression of a high-powered CEO who has an air of ‘I’m undertaking all of your information!’ He then glanced at Chen Bai, and coolly challenged, “It’s around eleven. Now, it’s only eight forty-five. We still have time.”
Not to be outdone, Chen Bai steadied the smile on his face, saying, “I just arrived here yesterday, and then we were occupied from after school until night. I haven’t prepared for lessons.”
Heinz put all of his effort and skills into turning those distressed feelings for his wife into an even colder voice, “It’s very quiet over there, suitable for lesson preparation.”
With that, the two of them exchanged moves like this at each other for almost ten rounds before Chen Bai finally admitted defeat under Heinz’ increasingly cold words. Chen Bai compromised, his voice full of exasperation.
If someone had looked close enough, they’d see that the tips of Heinz’ ears were red after looking at Chen Bai face to face for exactly five minutes.
Knowing that he probably couldn’t escape this early in the morning, Chen Bai silently let out a breath and obediently followed Heinz out.
The fact that Heinz lived on a block relatively close to the city center was something Chen Bai had discovered the night before.
The apartment building was also very tall, with more than fifty floors, a household per floor. Each floor had a storehouse specifically for mechs, and the light-sensitive lifts could only be used after identification of the household member.
Having mech storage on the same floor as where one lives, most households wouldn’t even use the lifts, allowing for a certain degree of privacy.
Obviously, Heinz is the kind of person who probably hadn’t used the lifts even once since the moment he started living here.
They took off in the mech, and not more than a few minutes later, they arrived at the breakfast shop Heinz mentioned. Heinz was right. While it was located in the city center, the shop had pretty good soundproofing. Walking into the shop felt like entering a separate world from what was outside.
Also, it seemed like Heinz had come here many times. After finding a space downstairs to park his mech, he swiped his thumbprint in a familiar routine and took the light-sensitive lift to the topmost floor.
The waiters on the top floor didn’t seem surprised to see him, but they did take a few extra glances at Chen Bai, who was standing behind him.
Walking into a private room in the restaurant, Chen Bai saw that all the meals were delivered by machines, and the waiters were probably just a symbol of human service. In actuality, from orders to delivery, everything was done by machines. A dish that was prepared would be put in a small window at the side of the room, where robots would then sense it and take it to the table.
“What do you wish to eat?” At the end of the top floor was a private room with a completely open ceiling, where they could observe all of the gradually bustling city streets below but hear none of the noises, an impressive feat of finding silence among the busyness.
After they sat down, Heinz pressed a button at the corner of the table and a light screen menu appeared in front of Chen Bai.
Looking at the dazzling names of the dishes, Chen Bai gave up within a second. He wasn’t particularly talented in this, as he might not even be able to tell apart soy sauce, vinegar, and tea. So, he smiled and said, “Anything will do. I’m not picky.”
Heinz took a look at him, very calmly nodded his head, and wrote the words ‘whatever’ with a flourish on the light screen, followed by a quick press on the confirm button below.
Chen Bai watched Heinz’ flamboyant moves from the opposite side, his mouth opening slightly, speechless at his partner’s actions for another countless time that morning.
What made him even more speechless was that after five minutes, the waiters sent in all sorts of dishes, one after the other on a food relay machine, completely filling up their medium sized table.
“The breakfast here is really good,” Heinz said as he slightly glanced downstairs towards a commerce street, where all the shops were getting ready to open for business, “And it’s really quiet. Sometimes, I stay here for up to an hour when I don’t feel like going to work.”
Having such a clear but weird reason to skip work, Chen Bai silently ate the food in front of him, not replying. The food was also surprisingly suited to his tastes. He really wasn’t picky; years of wandering about since he was young had given him a habit of being able to eat anything, though he still had his preferences. But whether it’s the restaurant or the dishes, everything was quite suited to his tastes, and Chen Bai couldn’t help but take a few more bites.
“I couldn’t find time to apologise for what happened last night. I had wanted to make a good impression on the first day we met. I’m so sorry it became like that,” Heinz apologized in a very serious manner, and Chen Bai, who was eating while pretending to be a tortoise, couldn’t help but lift up his head.
“No matter. It was an emergency situation. Understandable.” Chen Bai smiled. And then, as though guiding something, he inquired lightly, “Are Miss Ellie and that bodyguard alright?”
“Jenas’ condition is still unstable. Recent intel says that he’s under special observation, but the specifics are still unclear,” Heinz explained, then furrowed his brow. “As for Ellie… her mental state has always been troublesome, especially these past three years. It’s been better with Jenas around, but with how Jenas is now… it’s hard to say.”
Chen Bai was silent for a while, not asking for specifics on Ellie’s condition. When he risked everything three years ago to go to Pisaka, it was to make his escape and leave behind an empty shell. That was his only chance to escape Berkeley, which he had planned for nearly five years. He couldn’t not take Mani with him and had faked his death half a year earlier than planned.
The whole process took a lot of Chen Bai’s efforts and meticulous care, and he took everyone he could with him, except for Ellie.
She was a young lady who had grown up beside him and relied on him more than anyone else. It wasn’t that Chen Bai never thought that his sudden ‘death’ would have such a big impact on Ellie, but after considering countless hypotheticals, he still couldn’t safely take Ellie with him and had to let her remain on Venus in the end.
So, the name ‘Ellie’ to Chen Bai symbolized infinite guilt and disappointment. Most likely because his weak point was brutally poked, the pressure around Chen Bai had obviously lowered a lot. Even Heinz had felt it.
“Are you upset?” Heinz asked.
“… Such a young girl, to experience such a cruel scene, it is quite upsetting.” Chen Bai smiled without a fault, lifting his gaze towards Heinz and spoke in a gentle voice, “They say that it was an unprecedented aggregation of the Alliance after the Century War, and the recovery rate of construction after the war was also quite high. What do you think, Marshal?”
The hand holding a fork stopped for a bit, but the next second, Heinz resumed cutting his food, replying, “Like gold and jade on the outside, broken on the inside.”
Chen Bai narrowed his eyes. “My hometown was once ruined by the war until there was nothing left. After the Century War, it was reconstructed by the Alliance, and now it’s a good place with a favorable climate throughout the year. I used to always believe in the power of rebuilding what’s been broken.”
“And then?” Heinz asked.
The room became silent for a second, as though the only sounds were those of knives and forks clanking together. Then, Chen Bai continued, “But I think, I might have thought wrong. Miss Ellie may have a special identity, but she is still just a young lady. To have something like this happen in the most bustling and advanced Alpha, especially under the nose of the Alliance, I must have been short-sighted before.”
Chen Bai spoke this with some hints of disappointment, very easily executing the impression that he’d just received a blow from this imagined scenario. But actually, this sentence was far from simply casting aspersions on the public security of the Alliance on the surface.
It was entirely because Ellie had a special identity, being the daughter of a general with high achievements, that a low-level of security would never fall on her. To have become a hostage to trade for the ‘Death Star 1,’ obviously meant that there was someone disloyal in the Alliance. Not only were they disloyal, but to ask about the ‘Death Star 1,’ the lifeline of the Alliance, they were planning something big enough to put the entire government on guard.
Chen Bai didn’t think that Heinz was ignorant to everything because he was the Marshal. On the contrary, he was trying to probe how much Heinz knew. Having that contact three years ago, he couldn’t ever easily go into Heinz’ mind again to investigate. If he left a mark, it would be extremely dangerous, so he could only use this old fashioned way to gradually advance every step.
Time passed by slowly, and the private room quieted again, both of them almost able to hear the sound of the other’s breathing. Just as Chen Bai was patiently waiting for Heinz’ reply, they suddenly heard a shrill scream.
The soundproof effect of the breakfast shop was really good, but Chen Bai had abnormally good hearing. He heard it very clearly, his pupils shrinking as he heard the voice filled with terror and fear. And it came from directly below them!
Just as Chen Bai was standing up to tell Heinz, the sound of a window breaking reached his ears.
Chen Bai often skirts around on the edges of knives¹, so he’s very familiar with this sound and could even immediately tell where the sound came from.
The other party had a very fierce influence, as Chen Bai could even smell the tang of blood in the air, but he couldn’t react. He couldn’t show faster reflexes than Heinz in front of him.
The hand under the table exerted a lot of force to repress his innate reflexes. Before he knew it, the sound of another window breaking reached Chen Bai’s ears. Heinz, who was at the opposite end of the table, suddenly lunged at him and hugged Chen Bai’s head. The latter followed and leaned back until in the next second, both of them had flipped the chairs and rolled onto the ground.
Heinz’ hands were tightly protecting Chen Bai’s head. But even so, Chen Bai could still hear through Heinz’ palms, a second tight but continuous scream coming from outside, after they landed on the floor.
 ‘skirts around the edges of knives’: Lives dangerously.
Just a note, but this editor would probably also choose to go out to eat if they were served a breakfast like that!