Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Qi Jiamu tossed his helmet aside, perhaps knowing that He YunTing would be distrustful of him, taking each step slowly and gradually proving that he wasn’t hostile — none of his guns seemed to be his own. Qi Jiamu pulled out every possible place where a weapon could be hidden, before spreading his hands and saying, “I’m the only one left.”
The Oddbound creatures didn’t expect a new human to emerge from the mecha, but this one didn’t look quite as endearing as Lin Han, nor as cold and scary as He YunTing. So they didn’t show any hostility, just continued to stare at him curiously.
“I can get Lieutenant Colonel Lu to testify.” Qi Jiamu added, “I brought the communicator.”
He YunTing waved his hand, “No need. I can trust you.”
Lin Han was strangely relaxed when he saw it was him, probably because he’d had previous contact with Qi Jiamu, and he always thought Qi Jiamu was a good kid. Grr was poking around on his shoulder, as if he didn’t quite understand what Qi Jiamu’s arrival meant.
Lin Han suddenly had a very shallow sense of sadness, he rubbed the little one’s head, and due to his physical weakness, he could only walk slowly to Qi Jiamu just as He YunTing was holding his hand.
“Mr. Lin.” Qi Jiamu obviously froze for a moment when he saw Lin Han, not expecting him to be in this weak state. Qi Jiamu said in a low voice, “I’m late, it took me some time.”
He YunTing didn’t dwell on this issue with him, only asked, “How’s the situation now?”
Qi Jiamu tensed up again, intending to report everything to He YunTing that happened these days.
Lin Han squeezed He YunTing’s hand very gently. His professional nature wanted him to go to Qi Jiamu’s mecha to check the situation, but he didn’t say it.
Lin Han barely walked around these days, and after last night’s experience it wasn’t very good to continue to pretend that nothing had happened and let He YunTing carry him on his back. He YunTing seemed to understand Lin Han’s meaning and without waiting for him to mention anything, he said “Wait a minute”, and then slightly leaned over, waiting for Lin Han to climb up.
After all, there was still someone waiting, so even if he had issues, he should put them aside for now, Lin Han thought. So like for the past few days, he hooked his arms around He YunTing’s neck and gently climbed on his back.
Qi Jiamu didn’t expect to see such a scene, and unexpectedly glanced at He YunTing. In the end, he didn’t say anything, just followed the two together to the mecha. Qi Jiamu’s mecha unexpectedly didn’t suffer too serious damage, and now they understood the current situation.
What Lu AnHe said was basically true, but the truth was a bit more serious than how he put it a few days before.
On the day of the Zerg raid, He YunTing held off the few remaining giant mechanical sandworms that were trying to get at the battleship, and the group was able to get away and re-march to the leap point.
Qi JiaZe still hissed in a bizarre gesture after failing to assassinate He YunTing and getting shot several times, and even tried to continue hurting others. Eventually, he was locked in his mecha by Qi Jiamu for an unknown amount of time before he barely calmed down.
After calming down Qi JiaZe, even if the battleship traveled to the leap point, the worrying thing still happened. There was really an ambush there.
Even though Ye Ling was careful enough, and deliberately avoided many unnecessary landing points, due to the excessive number of Zerg lurking at the leap point, it inevitably ended in an intense battle.
Leaving aside those normally well-trained sergeants, many of them came to this kind of place for the first time, so even if they had survived many harsh items in the first three rounds of the test, they hadn’t been on a real battlefield. They didn’t even have the opportunity to adapt, the fourth round of practical training hadn’t even been able to properly finish, and already they were forced to throw themselves into the sudden battle.
Many of the newcomers didn’t know the properties of the Zerg, and some of the Zerg were really too vicious. They didn’t even have time to systematically obtain the relevant information before they had to face these terrible creatures head-on. What was more, some of the mecha were unprepared, and weren’t as good as the exclusive mecha in terms of defensive power and overall performance, and with the lack of experience of the pilots themselves, certain fierce battles were almost inevitable.
Most paid too much of a price — and the most lamentable of these was the fact that more than half of the final rookie pilots didn’t make it back. They weren’t eliminated by the exercise, but literally and brutally, dissipated into the infinite space with no bones left.
The battleship used its only P-1 nuclear particle beam cannon to collect the last bit of energy to make the leap, barely recapturing half of the leap point, and fired at the moment of re-entry—
All the mecha and Zerg that couldn’t make it back were blown to smithereens, along with the leap point, and disappeared into the universe.
The ships, which had suffered heavy losses, were able to return, carrying with them an untold number of unknown conspiracies. And after returning to the Empire, everything was just beginning.
Someone wanted He YunTing back, someone wanted him to take advantage of the opportunity to disappear. The first three mecha that departed for rescue were shot down at some point in their travels and their positioning was lost, so they couldn’t even find which part of space they had fallen in, let alone the pilots on them.
Several generals from other bases were transferred over to coordinate the work, but Ye Ling and Lu AnHe were still restricted from personally participating in the rescue of He YunTing, on the grounds that an in-depth investigation of the incident was needed. They, as the first to face the matter directly, couldn’t get away.
“But Lieutenant Colonel Lu was able to secure a second rescue team.” Qi Jiamu said, “Because quite a few of our approved pilots who survived even developed some mental illness, we weren’t allowed to participate in the next training. I didn’t apply for psychological evacuation, I applied to Lieutenant Colonel Lu to join the second rescue team, and that’s why I’m here. There were five mecha in the second rescue team,” Qi Jiamu said after a pause, “but now… I’m the only one left.”
The second rescue team encountered several mecha that tried to intercept them when they first arrived at the border zone, but since He YunTing was no longer in the border zone at the time, they had to follow the mecha’s wreckage to try to find it, only to lose their way in the yellow sand.
The mecha that tried to intercept them had only three units, but both their combat experience and the quality of the mecha were above the rescue team. The other side’s goal wasn’t only to stop them from rescuing He YunTing, but also to have the second rescue team damaged without a way to return.
Qi Jiamu omitted many details, but the final ending was that both sides battled to the end, only he alone survived. He collected the energy of the few remaining mecha after the battle, which allowed him to continue his search all the way to the north of the Oddbound biosystem, where he finally found signs of human life.
“There’s enough energy to transfer half to M2742,” Lin Han said, “so that both mecha can go back.”
After all, a large body like a battleship needed leap point support, while with a single mecha, it was possible to return directly to the Empire as long as there was enough energy.
“Let’s go.” There were still many unresolved issues, but it was imperative to go back together, the longer it took, the bigger the problem. M2742 was parked not far from there, and it would only take a few minutes to get there if they drove the mecha.
And just as He YunTing was about to move, Qi Jiamu moved his lips with some hesitation, “General. I have one more thing.”
He YunTing stood still and looked at him indifferently, waiting for him to speak.
“A’Ze…” Qi Jiamu gritted his teeth, “My brother… He’s been in a coma for a week, and I obeyed the arrangement to hand him over to the military, but…”
Qi Jiamu’s expression was grave, not even looking at He YunTing as he continued to speak, “I know I’m not qualified to make such a request, but I do have a personal interest. I’m worried that those people will do bad things to A”Ze… He really didn’t mean to become like that! I’m not asking for anything else, I’ll listen to any conditions and accept any punishment when I return to the Empire, but can you… can you not let anyone else hurt him? He’s been a good boy since he was little, I just left him for a year before he became like this, and I want to know why… Please.” Qi Jiamu bowed deeply, “I’ll take the blame for his mistakes, at least let those people leave him alive, please, General.”
Silence spread in the air that gradually became hot.
He YunTing narrowed his eyes and didn’t give Qi Jiamu a definite answer, “Let’s go.”
Qi Jiamu’s eyes reddened at the corners as he followed behind him.
Even though He YunTing didn’t make any promises, he still said, “Thank you.”
Although there was still a lot waiting for them, the most important thing was to return to the Empire first. Lin Han ambled on He YunTing’s back and couldn’t help but look back at the Oddbound creatures who were active on the sidelines.
The two ThudThuds that liked to imitate him and He YunTing before were drinking water, while a few others were still making mooing sounds that humans couldn’t understand and communicating something.
These creatures helped them move back to M2742 and brought them to a place where they could sleep in peace for the time being. Even though they couldn’t speak and couldn’t communicate, they were still very gentle creatures. And the little black fur ball remained on Lin Han’s shoulder.
Lin Han cupped his palm for a moment — it was his unspoken agreement with Grr that whenever he did so, Grr would definitely jump in and rub his palm twice.
Grr did the same this time.
Lin Han called its name, and Grr’s dark beady eyes turned up, and its little ears perked up.
“We’re leaving.” Lin Han thought for a moment and said, “No, we’re going home.”
Grr raised its eyes a little confused.
“Like you, we have our own planet, not the big iron shell that you always get dizzy on. It’s a place like this, with food and water you like, and friends and playmates you like.” Lin Han explained to it in a soft voice.
Grr usually didn’t understand immediately, so at the moment it hadn’t responded and was concentrating on scratching Lin Han’s hand with its tail. Lin Han leaned down, and He YunTing also squatted down, and he put Grr back on the ground.
Grr started to get confused and rolled on the ground.
“So, goodbye. You’re the cutest Kudzuar I’ve ever seen, really.” Lin Han waved at it and bid it goodbye.
Qi Jiamu, on the other hand, silently boarded the mecha first and waited for He YunTing and Lin Han to go up together. They too were about to leave this place, and they too were going home.
“Let’s go, General,” Lin Han suddenly felt sad and reluctant, and with a final ruthless twist of his head, he turned to He YunTing.
He YunTing answered, and also turned around, walking step by step towards the somewhat broken mecha. Perhaps it was a tacit agreement, or perhaps He YunTing also had a reluctance, after Lin Han finished that sentence, no one looked back, as if there was no separation in this way.
So no one saw that Grr suddenly understood something at the moment they turned around and started running towards them as fast as he could.
They boarded the mecha.
And the moment Lin Han closed the hatch, he found an additional creature in his arms… the one that was supposed to be left at the edge of that lake, a small black furball.
“Grr?” Lin Han was stunned for a moment, and then a surge of joy was regained.
The little hairy ball just used all its strength to tug on He YunTing’s trouser leg to climb up, and now the entire ball was dirty and wet, still shivering. But it still looked at Lin Han very aggressively, as if blaming him for leaving him behind.
Qi Jiamu’s mecha started up and traveled in the direction of M2742.
Lin Han sighed and reopened his mouth to the little dumpling, “Are you really willing to come with me?”
Grr didn’t answer, just remained sad, rubbing Lin Han’s hand.
“Our way back will be hard, you may have to be dizzy mecha all the time,” Lin Han said slowly, knowing that it should be easier for Grr to understand, “You might not adapt to the environment of our destination. We don’t know when we’ll come back. You’ll lose your friends and maybe you won’t be able to ride on the nose of a ThudThud for a long time.” Lin Han finished and gently stroked his little head, “Do you want to go back? If you want to go back, I’ll put you down.”
Grr trembled and made a faint, sad ‘squeak’ sound.
When Qi Jiamu started to transmit energy to M2742 and Lin Han tried to put it back on the ground again, Grr hesitated for a long, long time, staring dully at its favorite home. But in the end, it shrank into a ball and slowly, slowly climbed onto Lin Han’s shoulders and accompanied him, getting into the big iron shell that he hated the most.
They were about to cross the sea of stars, cross the galaxy, and return to the place where it all began with a completely different state of mind and sentiment than when they came.