Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Lin Han stopped in his tracks. He hesitated for a moment, “But now…”
There was nothing to see now.
And Lin Han had seen the unchanging starry sky more than once.
Instead of answering directly, He YunTing asked him an unrelated question, “Have you ever heard of the Erinnerung Nebula?” 1
Lin Han recalled, “I think I have, but I don’t remember much.”
“That’s a spectacle you can only see from the border area.” He YunTing also looked out of the porthole and saw a dark sky, “We’re still traveling through the star path, so we can’t see it.”
Lin Han hummed, then heard He YunTing say, “I’ve seen it twice before. If it appears this time, I would like to show it to Mr. Lin.”
Lin Han felt that after that birthday, He YunTing gradually talked with him more and more. He started to verbalize what was on his mind, although it was still very stiff.
Probably because he saw that Lin Han kept looking out of the porthole window all day, He YunTing explained, “You can’t see it on the first day. Tomorrow, after the successful leap of the warship, Mr. Lin will be able to see it.”
Lin Han didn’t expect to be observed by He YunTing, but still nodded his head.
Curiosity and eagerness, he felt both.
He knew his physique, and he also knew that his second gender wasn’t destined to navigate the wide galaxy. So he just couldn’t help but want to see those distant celestial bodies and nebulae, with romantic and lonely planets.
“Mr. Lin, will you follow me?” He YunTing asked, respectfully giving Lin Han the right to choose.
If he didn’t want to, he could go back to his cabin now.
Lin Han followed He YunTing all the way up, arriving at a modest room.
“This was used for observation before,” He YunTing explained, “but then the warship was upgraded and many functions were combined together, so there was no need for dedicated personnel to come here for observation, so it was left unused.”
Lin Han took a few steps and looked around the room.
“But if one wants to stargaze, this is one of the best observation platforms.” He YunTing said.
There was no need to put on a spacesuit or turn into an astronaut.
In this quiet corner, it was possible to maximize contact with space.
“I was in this same room when I first saw the Erinnerung Nebula. I was already on my return trip at that time, and only had time to see a side view, which I still regret when I think about it.”
Lin Han asked curiously, “Why do you regret it? Didn’t you see it again later?”
He YunTing was noncommittal, “The Erinnerung Nebula is a unique spectacle each time. But I don’t know when I can encounter it — maybe the day we arrive at the border area. Maybe I’d like to invite Mr. Lin along, if you’re willing.”
He YunTing’s words were very straightforward at times, and even though he knew he didn’t mean anything else now, Lin Han couldn’t help but breathe a little faster, “Sure.”
“Then I’ll wait for you here tomorrow night. Don’t tell the others.”
The battleship leap went better than expected.
The next day everyone started to adapt to the life of the battleship. Wen TianYao seemed to be a little dizzy, so he didn’t leave the room all day, but he fortunately brought a doctor along, who went in and said there was no serious illness.
The Belfast traveled in its own exclusive star path, and after a long day, it finally started to find the right angle with space retraction, and finally managed to leap and start flying at light speed.
After a burst of extreme darkness, they finally entered the desired orbit.
On the entire warship, except for the command room and the captain’s room, all the portholes were automatically closed during the leap, and by the time everything had reverted to calm, a long time had passed.
Even though there was no more day and night, Lin Han kept counting the time and walked to the observation room he had agreed with He YunTing the day before.
And He YunTing was already waiting for him there.
“You came.” He said, “This is the starry sky tonight.”
He YunTing walked to the special observation window and pressed the lift button.
The obscured image emerged in a frame, and in this not-so-large observation room, Lin Han finally saw the starry sky, once so far away from him, through a special glass.
——This was the first time he had ever seen the stars so close to him.
Unlike the unchanging starry sky he had seen in the Empire, they were now passing through the Milky Way, the huge warship was now like dust, and passing by them were all kinds of nebulae of different sizes.
Each one was unique, and each one was stunningly beautiful. Some of the planets were small and glowed secretly through the reflections of other stars, some were burning inside, and some were still spinning fast.
Lin Han had imagined the scene of a river of stars many times.
In his dreams, in his imagination.
But not like this, enveloped by a sudden sensation.
His chest vibrated and his heart beat faster.
The dust of the planets he had once wished for were now passing by before his eyes.
The feeling was so strong that Lin Han didn’t know where it started, but he felt the tip of his nose was sore, his heart was aching, and he almost wanted to shed tears.
Without any other emotion, in this moment he was suddenly surrounded by the universe, giving rise to an unexplainable sadness.
At this moment Lin Han began to think a lot, think about his favorite career, think about his long-lost dream of mecha driving. He began to feel shallow, feel at a loss, feel that the universe was vast and infinite, and that he was terribly small.
He gritted his teeth and tried to endure, because he wanted to look at the stars again.
He YunTing noticed his change.
“Mr. Lin?” He YunTing sounded a little anxious, “Are you okay?”
Lin Han wanted to say that he was okay, wanted to say that he was fine, but at that moment he almost felt powerless to even speak, as a strange suffocating feeling came up and blocked his throat, making him open his mouth to speak, but in the end no sound came out.
Lin Han closed his eyes and tried to shake off the feeling, but in the dizzying weightlessness his feet went weak and he fell forward.
A strong, warm hand pulled him back.
He YunTing pulled Lin Han toward himself, wanting to hold him with his other hand, but fearing to offend. He ended up holding him with one hand, while the other hand stopped in the air behind Lin Han, without touching him, forming an almost intimate, but not yet full embracing position.
Lin Han listened to that voice, trying to pull himself out of the unspeakable grief, and barely managed to settle down, “Mhm. I’m fine.” He said.
He really didn’t have any other thoughts, he just felt the shock of eternity in this moment, and then was swept away by this shock, disappearing into a tiny dust.
What kind of existence was he in the universe?
And He YunTing, as if he knew what he was thinking at the moment, suddenly opened his mouth.
“It was the same when I first saw the stars.”
Lin Han was a little surprised and looked up at him.
“Space dizziness,” He YunTing explained, “I also had it at that time, don’t be afraid, Mr. Lin.”
At that time, He YunTing was still too young and fearless, with an enviable pheromone and mental strength, moreover, he had the ability and will that was unattainable by ordinary people.
In the first three rounds of the pilot selection no one was his opponent, all eyes were on him, and although he was reticent, he also had the conceit and pride of a teenager.
At that time, He YunTing felt that the world was his, he was young and full of dreams.
Until he first boarded a battleship and came into contact with the stars for the first time. He felt like something had caught his breath, and a strong feeling of suffocation surrounded him — he, at that moment, seemed so small, not even worthy of a little existence.
The fruits of mankind’s efforts over the years weren’t worth anything in space. Happy or sad, big or small, it was no more than the carbon base calculated by the death of a star.
For the first time, He YunTing began to fall into panic and doubt, and developed a strong sense of dizziness, feeling inferior and hopeless for his own insignificance.
“At that time, when I arrived at the border area and drove in space for the first time, all my combat skills disappeared, and I almost couldn’t even perform the simplest operations.”
Lin Han’s heart inexplicably welled up with some sadness, as if trying to empathize with the other. He didn’t say anything, just listened quietly.
“I was just like you, or even worse than you — I started to remember a lot of unnecessary things, trying to use them to calm myself down.” He YunTing stood up, and behind him, far away, there was a white dwarf star with no more fusion reactions, with a pale light but a blazing temperature.
“But when I really tried to navigate, I suddenly calmed down again, strangely enough, just for a moment.” He looked at Lin Han’s face and seemed to want to give him a reassuring smile, but gave up because he wouldn’t use such an expression, then continued, “Because there’s nothing that won’t perish.”
Lin Han’s heart twitched, and the eyelashes that looked at He YunTing trembled a little.
There was nothing that wouldn’t perish.
He YunTing said, “The universe is no different from us.”
The sky and the earth were just a drop in the ocean.
The stubborn battleship would be reduced to pieces, and the indestructible mecha would eventually turn into scrap.
Their end was no different from that of a star.
“But no matter what, we all have the present.”
Lin Han looked at him, his eyes gradually becoming clear from the faintest confusion, as if washed by the clearest sweet rain, and then looked at the cold and deep frown.
He YunTing, he thought, had a kind of innocence about him that he didn’t even know.
It was also another kind of romantic philosophy when it came to saying such words.
He YunTing had no other thoughts when he was hugging him during his susceptible period, and when he jokingly raised the question of whether he liked him or not, he still thought seriously before saying, ‘I don’t know.’
Lin Han often wondered if He YunTing himself was unaware of some of his subconscious thoughts.
All these years he walked alone in the darkness with the responsibility of his family and country. Would he be unable to breathe because of the deep and thick burden? Would he be struck by the starry confusion constantly?
But this was how he came through, pulling off the mud attached to his body, throwing it into the abyss, and then standing in the sunlight again with hope.
He knew that the Milky Way was vast and immense, but he could also get the quietness of peace from it.
Lin Han suddenly felt that all his previous vain sentiments had become worthless, and that all the fragments of particles in all forms had merged into the universe, forming a never-ending cycle.
“Look,” He YunTing raised his face, “that’s a dust nebula not far from us.”
Lin Han followed his gaze. The pale blue nebulae were clustered together; they didn’t even have names and were visible only by reflecting the light of nearby stars.
“They’re right in front of us now, but who knows how many billions of years of long travel these lights have taken to reach this world and meet us.”
This time He YunTing’s tone was calm. There was no tension, no indifference, just a low and gentle voice.
It was something he had once experienced, and now he wanted to be able to make another person less anxious and confused.
“We’re born in the ephemeral present, but we’re also the stardust of the universe. Lin Han,” He YunTing called his name, the light of his blue eyes falling across a sea of billions of years of stars into this moment of coincidence, “there’s no need to doubt the meaning of existence. You’re existence itself.”
The author has something to say: I unilaterally declare that from today onwards Lao He becomes my favorite gong I have written!
I know it’s not right to make people wait, but it’s really slow to write. I changed a lot, and feel that their own barren words can’t express the desired feeling, so it’s very painful and tangled.