Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
“I’m not going.” Lin Han blurted out with little hesitation.
“Why?!” Although he knew Lin Han would most likely refuse, Shen XiuNan couldn’t help but be taken aback.
“I don’t want to go, there’s no point.” This kind of occasion he had never liked very much. The people would be respectful and vague, apart from the noise and crowds and waste of time, there was no meaning.
Lin Han tilted his head slightly and reached out to squeeze the back of his neck which was a bit sore, “Or one of you can go instead of me.”
After all, the driver’s seat wasn’t a suitable place to sleep, so it was still a bit uncomfortable after a night.
Lin Han rubbed his eyes, a few long, thick black eyelashes rubbed on his fingers, he unconsciously stopped for a few seconds. He had low blood sugar and was in a trance, almost unable to stand.
Shen XiuNan was still gnashing his teeth, “Only you! Only you can go! Although it doesn’t say your name, the one who is invited is the Imperial Mecha Institute’s Core Mecha Designer. If that’s not you, then who else?”
Hearing that, Lin Han recalled the cold and arrogant voice from last night for no reason. He walked to the cabin door and took the invitation, and it said the following:
“Inviting the Imperial Mecha Institute’s Core Mecha Designer… ” Lin Han read out word by word.
“Yes, yes, yes, that’s you, that’s you!”
But this invitation didn’t affect him, so he refused, “Don’t want to go.”
Shen XiuNan was about to kneel down to him, “Do you know how many people want to go and meet the General?! His triumphs are very low-key, and it’s not easy to finally have a celebration feast, but they never invite too many people, so this opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime… Hey, say something! You can at least open it to see!”
Lin Han complied and opened the delicate envelope sealed with fire lacquer and took out the letter paper with a faint ink fragrance inside.
“I hope you will enjoy your time and come to congratulate us on our triumph.”
The line was in print, and Lin Han looked down and saw a short handwritten signature, He. The black handwriting was strong and pale, the last stroke annihilated a little, out of focus into a small dot in Lin Han’s not yet fully awake vision.
Lin Han raised his eyes to look at Shen XiuNan and put the letter away again.
His originally somewhat firm idea wavered slightly as he asked, “Did the General personally invite me?”
Shen XiuNan was still immersed in the sadness of not being able to go even though he wanted to, and the only person who could was rejecting the invite, chattering, “You can’t explain if you don’t go, and His Majesty the Emperor is… waiting, yes! It was the General himself who invited you!”
Lin Han gently rubbed his index finger on the paper prongs of the square envelope, a fine itch coming through his gloves, his movements idle and relaxed.
Shen XiuNan said, “I swear! When I came to work, it was handed to me personally by the General’s adjutant, with a particularly nice attitude, saying that their General was sincerely inviting you…”
“Oh.” Lin Han curved the corners of his mouth, nodded, and gave a short response. He placed the envelope on the pilot’s seat, which he had pillowed all night, stepped out of the hatch, joined Shen XiuNan on the elevator, and moved it back to the ground.
Shen XiuNan was a little confused by him, “Lin Han, where are you going? No, you really have to go! Otherwise you can’t account for it!”
Lin Han came down from the elevator, “I’m going to go wash up and to get nutrients. I have no energy.”
“…You’re going to have nutrients as a meal? It used to be one a day, but now it feels like three meals a day.”
Lin Han looked back and winked at Shen XiuNan, “If the nutrients are filling enough, there’s nothing wrong with it.” He was about to say something else when Lin Han paused for a second, waved his hand, and finally answered Shen XiuNan’s question, “I’ll go.”
After Lin Han finished dressing up, opened a nutritional supplement to replenish some energy, and then asked the colleague who just came to work for other data of M2742, he went back to the repair room.
The envelope was still lying quietly on the driver’s seat, and Lin Han rested his eyes on it for a moment before finally putting it away and continuing his work.
He didn’t really say yes on a whim.
The cockpit had been re-cleaned, the smell of oil and blood had faded, and the data box had been put back in. But the mecha’s right arm was still missing, a lone piece of it, telling Lin Han what had happened.
He’d never been interested in anything other than mecha, and the reason he’d agreed to it had to do with mecha — he was a little curious. Someone like that, who didn’t say a word about all the close calls, as if he’d just accidentally smashed a small piece of armor.
What kind of man was he? What kind of injuries did he have?
Imperial District A, Selna Manor.
This was the manor specially given by His Majesty the Emperor to the youngest General of the Empire, with specially approved servants, and the only exclusive mecha mooring space up and down the Empire. The manor covered a large area and was well taken care of in all aspects, but the most attractive thing was the endless, warm and vast field of purple tulips that stretched from the entrance of the manor.
It wasn’t the flowering season, so the tulips of the field were still spitting green leaves, although not looking grand, they were thriving. In the manor, a young soldier in civilian clothes was pacing back and forth in the corridor, the expression on his face full of helplessness.
The man glanced at the time and finally sighed, quickened his pace and arrived at the innermost room on the first floor. He stopped for a moment and knocked on the door, “General—”
No response came from inside.
He didn’t give up and continued knocking twice, “General, it’s time to go out—”
After a while, a voice came from the room, “Come in.”
The youth gave a “Oi” and pushed the door open, seeing the man inside still wearing his regular clothes, his expression was pained, “The time is close, why haven’t you changed your clothes yet? This is at least your celebration feast.”
He spoke with respect, but he could still tell that he wasn’t very afraid of the man in front of him, and could even say that he acted familiar towards him.
“Lu AnHe.” The man standing by the window didn’t turn around as he called the youth’s name, “Have the invitations been sent?”
Lu AnHe glanced at him twice, “Yes, yes, they have,, I personally delivered it to the Institute today.”
“Mn.” The man seemed satisfied, his tone eased a bit, “Did you remember to state the purpose of coming?”
“……” Lu AnHe huffed, “No, I just wrote politely and asked him to come over.”
He YunTing silent for a moment, “Why did you not write what I told you to?”
Lu AnHe whispered to He YunTing’s back, “If I really wrote the invitation as you said, he wouldn’t come…”
Lu AnHe didn’t forget his leader’s original words, “Please be sure to repair the mecha M2742 properly, there can’t be the slightest difference, this time you’re invited to come and discuss the special features of this mecha.”
He couldn’t help but sigh at that time. This was like an order, who would accept an invitation like that ah?
But he had been with He YunTing for so long that he knew it was useless to talk about it. In the end, Lu AnHe had He YunTing sign a letter and redrafted a normal invitation letter himself. He YunTing’s long figure paused slightly, but still stood in front of the window, and it was unknown whether he heard it or not.
His gaze fell on the tulip fields outside the window that weren’t in bloom yet. Lu AnHe was used to it, and the general seemed to like to gaze at the fields of flowers.
“M2742 is a two-pilot mecha, you have to hire the best mecha engineer to repair it.” He YunTing said. After a moment of silence between the two, he continued to ask, “What’s the name of that mecha master?”
Lu AnHe froze for a moment and answered truthfully, “Lin Han.”
“Core Mecha Designer.”
“……” He YunTing heard this number and pursed his lips, “That young?”
Lu AnHe knew that now this person must have doubts in his mind that the person could fix his mecha, so he quickly said, “But guaranteed to be the best mecha designer, General, you can rest assured. No one’s as good as him, really.”
“Oh.” The other side coldly responded with a syllable.
Lu AnHe didn’t have time to talk to him about this now, and was too lazy to explain why the core mecha designer wasn’t an old man, and didn’t bother to use the salutation, “There really is no time, boss! The flight is parked outside, just waiting for you to change clothes. I know you don’t like this occasion, but the Emperor’s wish is for you to attend…”
The other side frowned for a moment, then nodded, “Okay.”
Because the Emperor personally organized it, the location of the celebration feast was chosen inside the palace. Lin Han was still busy all day, so when he put down the work at hand, it was already late. He couldn’t go back to change clothes, so he simply wore the Institute’s uniform to the event.
Many people had already arrived in the main hall, mostly prominent figures, from the royal family to cabinet officials, as well as some celebrities who would only appear on AI TV. The celebration banquet hadn’t begun yet, and the Emperor hadn’t arrived, so people exchanged warm pleasantries and mingled.
Lin Han regretted coming to this place for the fifth time.
He didn’t like unnecessary socializing, and what’s more, he didn’t know any of them, including the General.
The atmosphere was good, many people covered their faces with their hands and whispered about something, probably related to the General’s triumph. Still wearing his white gloves, he looked at the exquisite and delicious food in front of him and began to regret it for the sixth time.
Just as he was about to regret one more time, he suddenly heard a commotion coming from the crowd — shouts and exclamations of admiration.
“The General has arrived!” Someone shouted excitedly in the gradually quieting atmosphere.
Lin Han finally looked up to where all the people’s eyes were focused.
The man was tall, wearing a full set of smooth, tailored pale blue uniform, with spiked shoulder patches draped on both sides and a ribbon around his medal-laden right shoulder, where the gold line of the shirt collar was visible. The military boots wrapped around his long legs, a wide trailing cloak set off the master’s majesty, dignity and calmness even more, his posture was outstanding.
The man’s appearance was cold with stern eyebrows, deep features. The handsome lines of his face were like a sculpture, and the brim of his hat covered his blue eyes, causing a shadow to fall. He was followed by a young man, also wearing a military uniform, who seemed to be his most powerful adjutant, Lu AnHe.
The crowd was still in awe when they saw the man turn his head slightly sideways and say something to the adjutant beside him.
Lin Han only saw the thin, cold, hard line of the man’s lips move as Lu AnHe nodded toward He YunTing and walked toward him.
Lin Han surveyed the General who was standing not far away, and thought, It seems that his injury really isn’t too serious. Before he could think of anything else, the adjutant beside the General stood in front of him, narrowing his eyes and smiling at him in a kind manner.
“Lin Han, right?” Lu AnHe’s voice was bright and cheerful, “The General is looking for you.”
Lin Han froze for a moment, “Me?”
“Please follow me.”
Probably because Lu AnHe gave Lin Han a pretty good first impression, he stood up amidst the envious eyes of the people around him and walked towards the imperial sharpshooter.
The crystal lamps in the main hall were flowing with light, so Lin Han followed Lu AnHe and walked step by step in front of He YunTing.
Lu AnHe made a gesture of “please” to him, and Lin Han raised his head and looked at him up close for the first time.
He YunTing’s unusual short silver hair was covered by a military cap, his brow bones were high and angular, which made his eye sockets look deep.
“Hello General.” He had the usual gentle smile on his face, without too much excitement, “You’re looking for me?”
He YunTing stood in place, and there was a moment of silence between the two.
Lu AnHe looked at Lin Han, and then looked at his boss who didn’t say a word, and wanted to say something to ease the awkward atmosphere, “Yes, yes, the General was looking for you because…”
Before he could say anything, he saw He YunTing’s cloak move and extend his hand towards the youth in the white uniform.
Lin Han smiled a little and prepared to politely shake General’s hand.
“That…” Lu AnHe suddenly spoke out, his eyes looking at Lin Han’s white gloves.
“Sorry.” Lin Han paused for a moment, “Personal habits.”
After all, he was the Empire’s General, and he couldn’t still wear gloves to shake hands with him.
But he also had no intention to read the General’s heart.
Lu AnHe was still staring at him.
Lin Han stiffened for a moment, and the afterglow swept to the surrounding admiring celebrities who were looking towards them, intentionally or unintentionally.
It’s nothing much. It’s just a handshake. He hesitated for a moment, but finally took off his gloves and extended his hand again.
He YunTing was silent.
The other side’s handsome, peerless face was like a god, and his line of sight spilled down very lightly to meet his gaze. Lin Han looked at his blue pupils and abruptly thought of the starry sky of the empire he had looked up at the night before.
Perhaps the starry sky wasn’t unchanging.
For no apparent reason, Lin Han had that thought.
Lin Han’s fingers were long and slender, politely and restrainedly resting on He YunTing’s hand, brushing against the other man’s palm as they left.
“Hello.” He initiated the conversation. Lin Han had never been in good health, and his fingertips were cold.
The other party’s palm was warm, and the moment he touched the other’s hand, Lin Han’s fingers felt a soft, warmth that didn’t match the other party’s cold, hard appearance.
He YunTing was still silent, his thin lips pursed into a line, indifferent and arrogant, but wasn’t different from what he expected a day ago.
Although Lin Han’s face was wearing a polite smile, his eyelashes were drooping slightly without realizing it, he knew that he would hear the inner voice that he didn’t intend to hear again.
The General’s voice wasn’t quite the same as the one Lin Han heard in the data box before, but it was still cold, without the interference of the current noise, colder and more pure.
So this cold voice appeared in his ears at the moment when their hands were clasped…
【Want to mark.】
Lin Han, “?”