Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Lin Han firmly clasped He YunTing’s hand, and used some force to squeeze the other’s fingers, almost into a ten-finger clasp.
He YunTing, as if he knew Lin Han could read minds, still tried to escape, but he was held by Lin Han and couldn’t escape.
He YunTing’s inner voice also poured into Lin Han’s ears one after another, from self-recrimination to grief, no sentence was missed.
Lin Han pursed his lips and didn’t speak for a while.
He almost forgot that He YunTing was also an ordinary person, after he told him the meaning of his existence. He YunTing’s heart even repeated names Lin had never heard of, all of which were soldiers who had lost their lives in the battlefield.
The other may just be an ordinary non-commissioned officer, but He YunTing remembered them all, and then, at this moment, in an almost self-mutilating way, dug them out of his memory, and then poured these names into his heart.
He didn’t know if every time a subordinate fell, He YunTing cycled through this bloodily, but he at least knew that no matter the occasion, He YunTing must’ve been like this now, his face cold and heartless, as if not swayed by such emotions in the slightest.
Just because he was the leader at the top, his joy and happiness were buried by responsibility and questioning.
But was that how he should be?
“General,” Lin Han tightened the strength of his fingers, clearly feeling the thin bones of his fingers and the thin calluses on his hands. He called out to He YunTing, but he didn’t know how to comfort him.
He wanted to say he understood, but couldn’t say such a thing to He YunTing.
“Look at me.” Lin Han said.
He YunTing, for the first time, resisted looking at Lin Han outright, as if he was running away from something.
【I don’t even dare to look at him.】
Lin Han sighed, and finally couldn’t continue. He wanted to comfort the other side, but not like this.
He YunTing couldn’t stay idle, he still had too much to deal with. His communicator kept ringing, and Lin Han knew there were too many places waiting for him, and even resting was a luxury at this moment.
Lin Han slowly let go of He YunTing’s hand, lowered his head, and stopped asking the other man to look at him. He smiled at He YunTing, “General, go ahead and get busy.”
If no other consolation could work at this moment, then he could at least smile at him.
He YunTing answered in a low voice. And until he closed the door and left, he he kept avoiding looking at Lin Han.
Hearing the sound of the door closing, Lin Han couldn’t say that he was sad, but only a little heartbroken.
Lin Han could still take nutrition and rest to adjust, but He YunTing could not.
After all, they had arrived at the border area, and even though there had been sacrifices and a casualty, they couldn’t just stop everything because of this.
Lu AnHe was ourning, but also had to take over the rest of Ji Meng’s work, and find out the truth, so he couldn’t grieve properly, the testing couldn’t stop for too long.
But before that, he and He YunTing walked up to the ‘murderer.’
There was a simplified interrogation room in the battleship where the M21 pilot was being held.
His name was Yan Ming, and after a full day of mental shock, he had become a bit of a nervous wreck, and during the time the five men were questioning him, he kept talking to himself, but the content was the same.
When the two went in, Wen TianYao obviously expressed the intention to follow, but this time He YunTing attitude was unusually strong. Not even Lu AnHe spoke, just silently watched He YunTing refuse Wen TianYao.
The power of the royal family was small, but also big, so if Wen TianYao asserted himself as a prince, He YunTing may not be able to oppose. In the end, Wen TianYao didn’t enter the interrogation room, but his eyes wandered as he said, “If the General has something to say to the soldier, I won’t go in.”
He YunTing, however, didn’t hear his words and entered the interrogation room with Lu AnHe without saying a word.
When the two walked up to Yan Ming, the other man was obviously agitated, but kept repeating under his breath, “I didn’t kill anyone, General, I didn’t kill anyone, I really don’t know anything…”
During the questioning, Yan Ming’s spirit was getting lower and lower, to the point of almost breaking. “My family situation isn’t very good, I know that if I enter the base, at least I can properly feed my family… That was really all I was aiming for at the beginning. So I went into the base, and I really wanted to try to do well, to try to be number one. But I couldn’t win against Qi Jiamu no matter how hard I tried… I admit to being biased against him, I didn’t like the way he looked, but I wasn’t as strong as him… Gradually, many people began to ostracize him.
“It was around this time that I felt my family became strange. Last visit, my mother mysteriously came to me, saying that if I shine in the fourth round of practical training, I will definitely get into the base, and they will be proud of me. I told my mother that Qi Jiamu was too strong, so how could I possibly do better than him? As a result she said, it’s okay, just change your target.
“I admit to being compelled to do so, because who wouldn’t be impressed to be able to overpower the number one who had been so far ahead. She told me to just go after the monitoring mecha in the fourth round and attack him, using the highest attack level, so that the hit rate would be much higher and the simulated bullets wouldn’t cause casualties. I really didn’t think about anything else, my family kept telling me that…”
“You did become the brightest one. Redberry didn’t dodge it because he believed that no one would really open the highest attack level against him, and even at the last moment, only opened the lowest defense shield.” Lu AnHe said coldly, “Haven’t you ever wondered why your mother would suddenly say this? And where did the information come from? As far as I know, before you came to the base, you had been living in the Q District, right?”
Yan Ming’s lips trembled violently, as if he just realized this fact, “Yeah… How could she know in such detail… That day she spoke about it as soon as she came, and I admit that because I was always pressed by Qi Jiamu, I didn’t immediately think about this fact…” Yan Ming seemed to realize only now, “At that time her tone sounded too compelling, I didn’t expect… My mother may be under the control of someone, Commander, send someone to protect her! There’s no doubt!”
“It’s too late.” He YunTing, who had been silent, said only two words.
“From the moment you managed to hit Redberry—” Lu AnHe also averted his eyes, “when we contacted your family in the Q District, we found that they had all…”
There was no more.
He didn’t say anything further.
Yan Ming didn’t let him go on either.
An hour later, He YunTing and Lu AnHe walked out.
And behind them, in the background, Yan Ming was crying out in sorrow.
It was too strange.
Except for Yan Ming, the family backgrounds of all the prospective pilots were re-examined and there was nothing unusual. Who was secretly doing the pushing to make so sure that they could exploit Yan Ming’s jealousy and be certain that he would attack Redberry regardless?
Or perhaps that…
From the moment they boarded the ship, there was an eye firmly watching them.
They had fallen back into passivity again.
The two men had not closed their eyes for a long time, but neither seemed to feel tired, “I… I’ll go take care of Old Ji’s remains.” He didn’t wait for He YunTing to say anything else and immediately added, “Please boss, let me go alone, I’ll talk to him again.”
The border area was really too far from the Empire, and the current situation was too uncertain, even bringing him back to the Empire intact, Lu AnHe couldn’t guarantee it.
He YunTing looked at him for a long time, and finally just nodded his head.
Lin Han didn’t expect He YunTing to come to the observation room. He knew he could only do a limited amount of work, and after doing all his share of work, in order not to cause trouble for others, and perhaps for other reasons, Lin Han still came to this room a few days ago.
At that time, everything was still calm and the starry sky was close at hand.
Lin Han had fallen into a daze.
And during his daze, he heard the sound of someone pushing the door in.
He YunTing was standing in front of him, as if he was also surprised that he would appear here. His face was barely visible, and his uniform was as wrinkle-free as ever after a long time without rest.
The two men looked at each other.
It was obvious that a few days ago Lin Han was sitting here hugging his knees and holding out his hand to He YunTing, asking him to pull him up a little, but half a day ago, the atmosphere between the two became subtle and odd again, and neither spoke for a while.
“…You haven’t rested.” Finally it was Lin Han who opened his mouth first. “General doesn’t seem to have slept.”
He YunTing’s lips moved very lightly and shook his head, “Why is Mr. Lin here?”
The stars were clearly invisible now.
Lin Han thought for a moment, “Because it’s quiet here.”
Like a secret base.
He YunTing didn’t react, and Lin Han watched his expression, finally catching some slackness from the meticulous face.
“…No progress?” He asked tentatively.
He YunTing said, “Sort of.”
Lin Han was still sitting on the floor hugging his knees as before, looking up at He YunTing, “Maybe the General can consider letting me help…”
His voice was getting smaller and smaller, because he didn’t know who was the most suspicious besides Wen TianYao.
Qi Jiamu? Or someone else?
Lin Han pondered, but saw He YunTing take two steps toward him and stop in front of him.
He YunTing looked at him with downcast eyes, “Mr. Lin. I said before, when we get to the warship, you should follow me closely.” He YunTing slowed down his speech, “Is that okay?”
He didn’t know what surprises would come next.
Lin Han naturally didn’t forget this sentence.
But now He YunTing’s tone sounded less certain than before, and more cautious. Even he was afraid of being rejected? Was he still unable to let go of Ji Meng’s death, and was still constantly blaming himself, consequently torturing himself? Was he always like this?
Lin Han remembered the grief in the other’s heart half a day ago, and when he looked at He YunTing again, there was a little more feeling in his eyes. He suddenly wanted to give him a hug. He wanted to, so did it.
“General,” Lin Han called him, “can you come over a little bit?”
His tone sounded a little soft, just like when he asked He YunTing to give him a hand a few days ago. Lin Han tilted his head to look at him, with a smile at the corner of his mouth.
He YunTing didn’t understand what he meant, but he obediently walked over and leaned down again.
Lin Han then reached out and easily hugged him.
This hug had nothing to do with love. Lin Han didn’t want to ask the other exactly what kind of emotion he had for him, so even if he wasn’t wearing gloves now, he would still hear what was in the other’s heart.
But more than that, Lin Han wanted to simply give him a hug.
He YunTing seemed to freeze, and only slowly became less stiff long after being embraced by him.
“It’s okay.” Lin Han said, “It’s just a hug.”
He actually wanted to say ‘Don’t feel bad.’, wanted to say he was there, but when he placed his hand on the other’s back, he forgot about these redundant consolations again.
“Mr. Lin.” He YunTing’s low voice came from behind Lin Han’s ear, like the clearest handful of snow among the mists of the pine forest, high and pure because it hung in the air, yet cold and hard to melt because of its highness.
“Do you know how to read minds?” The sadness in He YunTing’s voice wasn’t too strong, exactly like his inner thoughts.
【Will he hear what’s in my heart?】
【Will he see my weakness and understand my vileness?】
【If he did, he would never give me a hug.】
Lin Han was silent. Not only could he hear what he was thinking, but he could almost empathize with him because they had touched each other so many times, and see him remember all the soldiers who had died, and then build a monument to them in his heart.
“…I don’t.” Lin Han opened his mouth, but couldn’t tell He YunTing this the truth. He couldn’t stick another knife in his heart, bloodying the other to repeat such a mind cycle.
He YunTing seemed to be comforted, holding Lin Han’s hands tighter and burying his head a little deeper.
Lin Han sensed the warmth that surrounded him, but his ears were filled with He YunTing’s inner voice that constantly blamed himself. Even though he tried, He YunTing still couldn’t completely let go.
This man was quiet and aloof, as if nothing could hurt him in the slightest.
He couldn’t even smile, yet he exposed his full vulnerability to him without even knowing it.
Lin Han felt as if his heart was tethered by an invisible ribbon, tugging with a sore and soft pain. He patted the other’s back as he had done the first time they embraced, and spoke in a small, firm voice. “——but you’re invincible.”
The moment he said this, Lin Han was suddenly wrapped in a tight embrace and was almost unable to breathe.
But soon, as if afraid of hurting him, the other quickly let go again.
Lin Han’s heart felt like it was being grabbed, and the heartache seeped into his chest even more, he raised his hand, his fingertips climbed He YunTing’s neck, and his arm pulled him towards him until their heartbeats were dissolved into one, beating together, and the pain could be split in two, no longer carried by the other person alone.
“It’s okay.” Lin Han clung to the other’s neck and said to him once again, “It doesn’t matter if you’re sad. You’re invincible.”
He YunTing didn’t speak for a long time, nor did he desperately try to break away from him like he did before.
Until after a long time, Lin Han finally heard a very soft response.
He YunTing looked like he was finally tired and could simply indulge himself for a while—
He half-kneeled on the ground, but still didn’t use his full body weight over it, then in a reverent and restrained position, sank into Lin Han’s embrace.