Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
It was a border, because they were stuck right behind the foggy swamp, and the mecha was unable to stop steadily because it was out of energy. The flowing fog could pull M2742 backwards at any moment, and if that happened, their mecha could be swallowed up with the weapons and end up in this strange swamp.
But the problem was, the only one who had any strength was He YunTing, and he alone couldn’t move this big iron shell in the slightest. Lin Han also ambled on his back, and the two stopped together. After understanding the situation, Lin Han also found himself confused.
The environment they were in now wasn’t the same as before. The Oddbound galaxy varied according to the region, the Oddbound creatures weren’t the same, and the geological environment was also very different.
But now they have said goodbye to the endless yellow sand, except behind them was still a thick swamp of fog that would swallow everything, but the ecology was much better than in the border area.
The ground underneath wasn’t too flat, but green plants and rolling hills could be seen. Although they didn’t find a water source yet, the temperature wasn’t as suffocating as before because of the green plants. Although it was still not comparable to the main planet of the Empire, for the two of them, it was already very good.
“This side should be considered the north.” He YunTing explained to Lin Han, “The creatures that move in the north are basically milder and won’t hurt people.”
Lin Han actually wanted to try to get down and walk, but his body really had no strength. He was worried that if he did that he would fall to the ground with weak legs after a few steps. He was repeatedly tossing and turning this thought, and resigned himself to fate and let He YunTing keep carrying him.
Anyway, he now had some other thoughts in mind. He didn’t know when the two of them would actually be able to return, but at least here, they had an absolute sense of bonding. Even though neither had said anything, neither had crossed the line, they were still more than a little ambiguous than their normal relationship.
So that’s good, Lin Han thought. They were both unique now.
“So… We succeeded?” Lin Han asked.
At least they didn’t remain in the barren yellow sands of the borderlands, but stopped in a relatively ecologically sound place.
“Sort of.” He YunTing said coldly, “But the mecha is a problem.”
Lin Han looked at M2742, whose energy had been completely depleted. Only a few dozen meters further forward was needed to avoid being swallowed by the foggy swamp behind them. But these tens of meters were a distance that was simply impossible for them to complete.
Lin Han lost his head again.
“There’s no other way, is there?” It could be only left here.
He YunTing didn’t say anything.
Lin Han’s hands around He YunTing’s neck tightened and he gathered his emotions and tried to speak in a relaxed tone, “Then let’s go there first. There’s always a way.”
He YunTing didn’t say anything, but Lin Han knew he had listened.
As the mecha stopped and Grr finally woke up a bit, Lin Han called its name and said, “You’re home.”
The other didn’t seem to understand him at first, and its little eyes opened in a daze. First it arched habitually into Lin Han’s neck, found that He YunTing’s back was turned and he couldn’t see his face, so it simply rolled twice and grabbed Lin Han’s collar with its paws.
“You’re home.” Lin Han patiently repeated, “Do you remember the way?”
Only then did Grr understand Lin Han’s words, and its bean eyes fiercely opened wide, observing everything in front of it. Soon, its fur stood up in excitement at the sight in front of it. For the first time, instead of sticking to Lin Han, Grr jumped off of him with agility and spun around on the ground.
After a few moments, it started to roll forward, but still looked back at the two people behind it from time to time, afraid that it would lose them because it was too fast. He YunTing followed Grr’s pace easily. Grr had its own ideas about where it wanted to take the two people or what it wanted to do.
Lin Han looked back at the mecha, which was getting farther and farther away, and was still a little anxious, but in the end, he still didn’t say a word. He didn’t expect Grr to lead them for long.
After ten minutes of walking, it led the two past a hill. Because of the unstable sliding and sinking of the hillside, as well as the long-term weathering and erosion, there was a kind of high, but still large mound.
They saw Grr stop, then turned its head and rubbed Lin Han, as if to tell them to wait. Then Grr began to run as fast as it could toward a low place, and Lin Han was surprised at its agility, but had no idea what it wanted to do.
And five minutes after Grr disappeared, the ground suddenly shook with one powerful vibration after another. Lin Han first thought it was an earthquake, but then it was very regular and getting closer and closer to the two.
Soon, they didn’t have to guess.
The source of the sound gradually appeared in front of them. Lin Han felt He YunTing’s back instantly tense up — like he was afraid the arriving creature would hurt him and wanted to subconsciously shield him.
“Don’t be afraid.” He heard him say.
There was more than one creature approaching—
They were extremely large Oddbound creatures, each one a floor high, with short fleeces, unable to walk upright, covered in pink skin. While their limbs were thick, it had thick paws, and each step was accompanied by a tremor on the ground. Except for the color of their skin and the lack of a long trunk, Lin Han almost associated them with the creatures on Earth called elephants.
And the reason why the two would relax was because on the head of one of the leading creatures rode a small black mass that looked familiar.
“…Ruien race.” He YunTing, like an encyclopedia of Oddbound creatures, named the creature for Lin Han.
Lin Han nodded blankly, “But why is Grr…”
“The Ruien, though naturally strong, are the best-tempered race in the galaxy.” He YunTing reminded Lin Han of the mechanical encyclopedias he read automatically as a child whenever he used this very serious tone of science, “and the Kudzuar are especially good friends with them.”
Lin Han understood, even though this Ruien looked scary, he may still be eaten to death by this furry doughnut1.
“Because of the good relationship between the two races, many people in the Empire have given them another name as well.” He YunTing’s voice was still cold, but Lin Han heard a twinge in it for the second time. The first time was when he pronounced “Grr” with a strained face.
Probably because he was still lying on He YunTing’s back, Lin Han’s voice had a hint of lightness in it as he pressed him, “What’s their other name?”
He YunTing was strangely silent. After a few seconds, his tone became colder, but still answered Lin Han’s question, “…GrrThudThud.”
Lin Han couldn’t hold back this time and burst out laughing, “Sorry, General.”
Naturally, He YunTing didn’t say anything. Grr rode over on the lead Ruien, also known as GrrThudThud, and jumped off the creature’s nose when it was almost in front of the two, scampered lightly onto Lin Han’s shoulder, and then squeaked at the Ruien.
Soon, the other responded in kind, “Moo—”
It was true that the sound made by different sizes was also different, because the sound of the Ruien was so loud that Lin Han felt his eardrums vibrating. He YunTing took two steps back and let the two creatures communicate in a strange way. Finally, the two creatures seemed to finish communicating, and Grr toed Lin Han’s shoulder, then jumped back to the ground and rolled in the direction they had come from.
The lead Ruien “mooed” and followed Grr.
Lin Han thought for a moment, “It wouldn’t want to…”
Had these little creatures become so human? This proved to be the case as Grr took its helper all the way to where M2742 was staying.
The two creatures squeaked and communicated for a while, and the big guy seemed to understand, and mooed politely at He YunTing, who was carrying Lin Han on his back, then walked over to the mecha that was about to be swallowed up by the fog swamp. Grr returned to Lin Han’s shoulder as if to take credit.
Lin Han patted its head and said with a smile, “Thanks for your help.”
Grr smoothly rubbed his hand. But he still didn’t care about He YunTing. The General glanced at it indifferently, in the spirit of not getting acquainted with such a small thing. But probably because Lin Han’s thank you just now was too sincere, after two seconds, he finally tensed the corners of his mouth and coldly said, “Thank you.”
The Ruien looked a bit clumsy, but their natural brute strength allowed them to find their way around quickly. They divided up the work between pushing and passing, and crossed the few dozen meters Lin Han thought were absolutely far away with ease. M2742 was eventually yanked out of that foggy swamp, and even though it was still a powerless iron shell, it would no longer be stuck.
After completing their mission successfully, a few Ruien began to survey the new and strange species in front of them. There were hardly any humans on Oddbound, and they seemed to be very curious as to why Grr could be so brave on Lin Han’s shoulders in such an affectionate position.
Lin Han was still being carried on He YunTing’s back, looking very weak. But these creatures didn’t know what weakness was. Not only that, these creatures also had a peculiar specialty of… imitation.
Humans were very new to them, and the exploration of novelty started with learning their movements or habits. Then the two watched as one large Ruien stretch out its heavy forelegs and “mooed” its entire body onto the back of the other Ruien in front of it…
This seemed to be a real attempt to get the other one to ‘carry’ it.
But the problem was, they didn’t consider their size and the difference in weight between the two. The one who was supposed to carry also weighed a lot, but it looked smaller than the one being carried. The other one didn’t care about this problem, and was very cooperative with its movements, mooing and arching its back, trying to hold up the weight of the other one.
So the two large creatures trembled and stacked up, two stories high, looking bizarre and comical. The best part was that after doing this series of movements, they also subconsciously looked towards Lin Han — as if to say, ‘Look, is our imitation good?’
Lin Han, “…”
After their actions were imitated by the two creatures, his face began to redden little by little, a strange sense of shame came over him that made him not even have eyes for this scene. Grr looked at the scene with great satisfaction, and even rolled on the ground twice.
Lin Han buried his reddened face on He YunTing’s back and didn’t dare to look further, “……”
As expected, these two big guys, because of the size difference was too obvious, the bottom one obviously couldn’t hold on for too long, and eventually its limbs didn’t stabilize, and planted forward, the two thudding to the ground together. Their size was too big, and when the both of them fell to the ground, there was obviously a kind of violent vibration, and the surrounding area was trembling.
Lin Han suddenly felt He YunTing’s back shake very lightly — accompanied by a short breath that could almost melt into the wind. After understanding what that sound meant, Lin Han couldn’t even care about being shy. He hooked one hand around He YunTing’s neck in a daze, trying to read his heart out of habit, but shrank back because he had lost the ability to do so.
He was still curious and boldly brought his other hand up to He YunTing and ran his fingertips along He YunTing’s cheek and touched the corner of his lips.
The group of creatures in front of him were still communicating with their unintelligible cries, but Lin Han had no time to care. He remembered that He YunTing’s face was always taut, and the corners of his lips were always straight.
It seemed that no matter what he faced, he always reacted the same way, joy to him was just a superfluous emotion. But now the corners of his mouth were no longer a cold, hard, straight line, but had a slight curve.
Lin Han hesitated for a moment, but still couldn’t suppress his mood of the moment and asked tentatively, “General… Are you smiling?”