Chapter 12: The Tides of Time
Translated by Vivian of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
On one side of the temple, bright sunlight spilled in, its warm shine making one feel languid and cozy. A-Ka saw Uncle Molan and instantly recalled the period in which he had left Mechanical City and the days he had spent together with Molan on the ship. He cried out in a mixture of surprise and joy, and rushed over to hug Molan.
Angus and Huixiong were standing behind Molan, one on each side, and they seemed to have been arguing about something just then, but were interrupted by A-Ka’s entrance. A-Ka knelt down on one knee to see Paixi’s eyes and raised his head to ask Molan, “Can you cure him?”
“I will try my best to.” Molan pondered about it for a moment before replying, “Paixi was born without sight, so I plan to restore a bit of vision first. If he can perceive light, then it would be equivalent to the first step towards success.”
Paixi’s eyes were closed as he beamed, “Actually, I’m not that eager to be able to see things. As long as everyone’s fine, then I’ll also be fine.”
“Yes,” Molan said, smiling, “but if I don’t cure your eyes, then it would easily create even more difficulties for you… Okay, this is fine for now.”
A disciple brought a tray over, and A-Ka helped Molan to cover Paixi’s eyes with the bandage. He asked curiously, “Will this allow his eyes to see?”
“No.” Molan smiled. “It’s only a temporary preparation. If only using herbal medicine is enough to cure his blindness, then I wouldn’t need to be the chief, I would go and cure people instead.”
“You’re the chief?!” A-Ka and Paixi exclaimed in unison, surprised.
“Shh…” said Molan.
“You’re being too modest, Your Majesty,” said Assistant Chief Igor. “Your medical skills are widely renowned, and I believe that curing him wouldn’t be difficult for you.”
A-Ka hadn’t, in a million years, thought that the traveling poet he had met on the ship was actually the chief of the entire mainland. In his mind, Molan’s image instantly became a lot more formidable. The corner of his mouth twitched. In his lifetime, this was his first time seeing such an important figure, and he suddenly felt dizzy.
“You, you, you… Uncle Molan, you’re actually…” A-Ka still hadn’t recovered from his shock.
“I’m only the governor of a small city.” Molan smiled gently and said, “Do you think that there are still a lot of people who believe in the Religion of the Stars 1 these days?”
Molan tapped A-Ka’s head and held his and Paixi’s hands, leading them to the long table and motioning for them to sit down. Heishi walked over to them, and Molan placed a hand onto the left side of his chest in a salute. Heishi merely nodded slightly. Molan said, “Everyone, please have lunch. You’re welcome, my esteemed guests.”
The guests all took a seat and started to enjoy a sumptuous meal. Heishi said dully, “Continue speaking. Do not mind me.”
Molan replied, “I think that their anger has already completely subsided.”
Huixiong put down his knife and fork and was about to speak, but Angus said, “Your Majesty, Phoenix City isn’t as peaceful as you think. The humans and my brothers have already…”
“I guarantee that after this matter is over,” Molan said patiently, “the conflicts in Phenix City won’t cause even more trouble for you all. If everything goes smoothly, then everything that made people despair will be improved.”
Huixiong suddenly said, “I’d rather go fight with Father myself than place all my hopes on them.”
A-Ka was confused.
“You’ll get your chance,” Molan said lightly. “Humans and androids must join forces. After the long and difficult war, this is the final result that everything has led to.”
A-Ka asked, “Uncle Molan… no…Your Majesty, I wanted to ask something about Father…”
Molan gave him a meaningful glance, signaling that A-Ka shouldn’t say anything further, and A-Ka understood. Molan smiled and said, “I’d still rather you call me Uncle.”
A-Ka grinned and said, “Okay.”
At this time, Feiluo came over and sat down. He nodded and said, “Thank you for taking care of them on the ship, Your Majesty. As for the momentary oversight, I hope that you won’t take it to heart.”
“Hello,” Molan said politely. “I’m only a traveler that roams to the edges of the world. I am very honored to be able to serve Paixi, Lieutenant Colonel Feiluo.”
A-Ka sensed that Molan and Feiluo seemed to have some tacit understanding between them, which made him recall the things Molan had said in the cabin, back when they had been drifting across the sea to the western mainland. Molan had implied that he and Feiluo may have known each other before.
Heishi seemed to sense A-Ka’s questions, so he asked casually, “Why did you go to Mechanical City?”
“To take a look.” Molan picked up a slice of bread and said casually, “When I entered Mechanical City, I saw your revolution.”
A-Ka was surprised. “You also went inside?”
Molan nodded and said, “Originally, my goal was to rescue Doctor Kalan, but unfortunately, I was too late. Unforeseen events occurred during the operation, resulting in the failure of my overall plan.”
Feliuo replied, “No matter what, I am still grateful to you for saving Paixi.”
“Don’t mention it,” Molan said lightly. “Paixi’s ability was something I didn’t expect. His dreams can often predict the future. Paixi, have you had those dreams again lately?”
“No,” Paixi answered softly.
A-Ka was shocked, and even Heishi was surprised. He asked, “You can see the future?”
Paixi nodded, and Feiluo looked at Molan in faint reproach.
A-Ka recalled the days he had spent traveling with Paixi from Phoenix City. Indeed, Paixi had inadvertently told him several things about the future before. The one that gave him the most lasting impression was that day they had spent the night in the pipe, and Paixi had known the identity of the person who had been looking for them, Shahuang.
General Angus said, “Feiluo, your adopted son can actually see the future?”
“He can sometimes see the future,” Molan said frankly. “It’s not really a good thing, General. I’d rather Paixi not say anything.”
Huixiong asked, “Is it possible for us to have the final victory in this war?”
Paixi didn’t say anything. Molan said, “That’s enough, everyone.”
Molan nodded politely, clearly not wanting Huixiong to ask further questions. He stood up and said, “I believe that once Paixi’s eyes are cured, he will no longer have these prophetic dreams anymore.”
“That’s not fair!” Angus said heavily. “Why won’t you let him tell us the final result? If he really does know, and his dreams can predict the fixed future…”
A-Ka suddenly said, “If the prophecy tells you that you will lose in the future, will you not fight anymore?”
Everyone was silent, and after a while, Huixiong laughed.
“Interesting.” Huixiong said, “Then let’s proceed according to our original plan.”
Angus said, “I need to solicit the opinions of the troops.”
Molan said, “I’ll give you three days to prepare. Assistant Chief Igor, please escort them to Phoenix City now.”
Huixiong nodded, and he and General Angus left the temple under the guidance of Igor. Molan pondered for a while and said, “Everyone, I need to formulate the plan for the assault on Mechanical City.”
A-Ka nodded, knowing that Molan must have his own things to be busy with, so he said his farewells and left. As he walked along the corridor, he and Paixi stopped. A-Ka had a lot of things he wanted to ask him, such as exactly what Paixi had seen in his dreams, or what he had been hiding from them, but he didn’t say any of them out loud.
“Paixi,” said A-Ka, “your shoelace is untied.”
“Mn?” Paixi turned around. There were only the two of them in the corridor, and Paixi sat down on a chair. A-Ka kneeled on one knee and helped Paixi tie his shoelaces. He tapped Paixi’s shoulder and said, “You seem to have never mentioned your dreams to me before.”
“Uncle Molan told me not to talk about them,” Paixi replied in a small voice. “Since I was young, the people in my village have regarded me as the devil because they were scared that I would see their death.”
“Can you see it?” A-Ka finished tying Paixi’s shoelaces and sat down next to him. Sunlight spilled from the sunny sky, shining on the garden so that the greens and golds sparkled resplendently, and the layers of tulips rippled in the gentle breeze.
A-Ka asked, “How did you meet Uncle Molan?”
Paixi answered, “When my dad went to join the war, he entrusted me to the people in the barracks. I had a dream, and in the dream, I saw that they lost the battle. A really big airship crashed into a tower. My dad’s aircraft crashed into the wilderness and went up in flames. He led some humans and fled. They ran into a valley, and were shot by an airship.”
A-Ka’s breathing almost stopped, and he felt his blood freeze in an instant.
“What happened after?” asked A-Ka.
“After, he appeared in a laboratory in Mechanical City.” Paixi said, “His body was opened and a chip was taken out from his brain. He died. But after the chip was taken out, I dreamt that he became a ball of fire.”
A-Ka recalled the first time he had seen Feiluo. At that time, he and Heishi were resting on the mountain and had bumped Feiluo, who had been leading the humans, on the move. He said comfortingly, “Your dream wasn’t accurate. Feiluo didn’t die.”
“Mn.” Paixi smiled, “Uncle Molan told me something. He said that the future isn’t definite, and the past isn’t definite, either. The only thing that is definite is the present. That was a proverb from ancient philosophers.”
A-Ka faintly felt that Paixi’s dream seemed to be incorrect in an aspect. Was it because he wasn’t inside it, or was it because Heishi wasn’t? The day they had encountered Feiluo, if it hadn’t been for A-Ka and Heishi, then maybe Feiluo’s ultimate ending indeed would have been getting caught and brought back to Mechanical City.
“What else?” asked A-Ka.
Paixi thought about it for a moment and replied, “When I’m near you, I often dream of some strange things. Sometimes, it’s a young person operating some odd mechanical devices… I don’t know what they are. When we were on the ship, crossing the ocean, I also dreamt of us, and just like today, we were sitting in the temple, having lunch with Uncle Molan.”
“Is there anything about Heishi?” A-Ka was thinking about the mission they were about to carry out, and he was filled with uncertainty.
“No,” said Paixi. “In my dreams, he’s never appeared before. But once, when I was waking up, I heard two voices, and I think that it was you two…”
“What were we saying?” inquired A-Ka.
“Something about a large airship.” Paixi said, “A mothership, Father, and someone called Libre.”
“General Libre?!” A-Ka asked, “Were you really that close to us when we were talking?”
Paixi said, “I don’t know. The voice sounded like you, but it also didn’t. It was a bit hoarse, and there were also staticky sounds.”
A-Ka was bewildered.
Paixi spoke again. “My dreams are mostly fragmented, and now, I can’t remember a lot of them. Actually, I’m most worried about my dad.”
A-Ka comforted him, saying, “It’s okay. He’s already escaped that death, so he won’t be in danger again. Have you dreamt of him after that?”
Paixi thought for a moment and answered, “I haven’t.”
A-Ka sighed in relief and said, “That’s good. How about me? Have you seen me in your dreams before?”
“I have this dream often.” Paixi said, “In it, there’s a vast expanse of a blue glow, and a person walked into that sea of blue.”
A-Ka was surprised.
“And then what?” A-Ka asked tensely.
Paixi leaned against A-Ka’s shoulder and asked, “Do you know what that expanse of blue light is?”
A-Ka’s breath hitched. He did know; there was no one more clear about it than him.
“That’s Father’s consciousness,” said A-Ka. “Did anything happen afterwards? After they walked in, what happened to the blue light?”
Paixi replied in a quiet voice, “Then, that person never came out. A really tall tower collapsed, and all of the mechs malfunctioned. A huge fire burned down the entire city… After, it started raining, and the rain doused the flames. Grass and trees grew from the debris.
“… And there were also a lot of humans. They walked out from underground and returned to the surface,” said Paixi.
“What did that person look like?” A-Ka said nervously.
Paixi lifted his head, his eyes that were covered with the cloth strip facing A-Ka.
A-Ka asked, “Was it a tall male with black hair, black eyes… and a very good figure…”
“No,” answered Paixi. “I don’t know who it was, because their figure was very blurry. Is the person you’re talking about Heishi?”
A-Ka’s voice even shook a bit as he said in a low voice, “Heishi is going to confront Father to end all of this. I’m really scared that he’s going to sacrifice himself… I don’t know why, but I keep getting the feeling that he’s already made the preparations to never come back.”
“No, that person isn’t him.” Paixi grinned. “A-Ka, don’t worry, although I haven’t seen what Heishi looks like, I think that that person isn’t him, because in my dreams, Heishi has never appeared, you know? Even that night when the androids and the humans fought, in my dream, when I dreamt that Uncle Molan saved us…”
“… So that dream reminded you?” A-Ka smiled.
“Yes.” Paixi replied, “After I woke up, I sent a message to Uncle Molan. I even dreamt of us on the airship, but among the people that boarded the aircraft, Heishi still wasn’t there.”
A-Ka pondered about it for a long while, and he suddenly sensed that something was off.
“Was the person who walked into the blue light a stranger?” asked A-Ka.
Paixi didn’t say anything, and A-Ka understood in an instant.
“That person was me, right?”
The medicinal cloth covering Paixi’s eyes was soaked with tears. He hugged A-Ka, and at that moment, A-Ka couldn’t speak.
“If sacrificing yourself meant that everyone can live,” Paixi asked, “A-Ka, would you go?”
A-Ka was silent for a long, long time. He raised his hand and stroked Paixi’s head, replying, “Yes, I would.”
Inexplicably, A-Ka’s fear of dying wasn’t as much as before. After escaping together with Heishi, leaving Mechanical City and arriving at Dragonmaw City, everything he had seen showed that the world wouldn’t have much vitality left.
If he could choose, he didn’t want to live in that type of world. He’d rather leave behind a beautiful world before he left, just like how he had always hoped it would be, so that everyone who was still here could be a little happier and enjoy a beautiful life.
“I also would,” smiled Paixi. “As long as my dad can live happily, then I would be willing to.”
A-Ka thought about Heishi, and his heart ached.
“But without you,” replied A-Ka, “he wouldn’t live happily, so it’s fortunate that you don’t need to bear this burden.”
Paixi said, “I think that there are a lot of variables in my dreams. Before I met Uncle Molan, I always thought that I brought misfortune on people. But I gradually realized that the future that is manifested in my dreams can be changed.”
“Because your dreams don’t have Heishi,” said A-Ka, “I also believe that the future can be changed now.”
“Let’s hope so,” agreed Paixi.
Feiluo walked over with hurried steps and asked, “What are you two talking about?”
A-Ka stood up so Paixi didn’t say anything else. Feiluo spread his arms and embraced Paixi and touched his forehead, asking, “Are your eyes uncomfortable?”
Paixi smiled and said, “They feel kind of cold. Uncle said that a few days later, he’ll perform surgery on me. He said that after the surgery, I’ll be able to see.”
Feiluo nodded and said to A-Ka, “The chief wants to speak with you.”
When A-Ka left the garden, he glanced back from a distance and saw that Feiluo was hugging Paixi, and the two of them were sitting before the railing, looking at the flowers as they conversed softly.
Even if he completed his mission, he would still perish together with Father. Yet, it would allow everyone to live happily, just like how Paixi and Feiluo were, so it would probably be worth it.
A-Ka walked into the chief’s study and saw that Molan was blending a bottle of medicine. Heishi was standing to the side, lifting his head to examine the books on the bookshelves.
“… This journey will be very worrisome.” Molan merely nodded to A-Ka and explained, “I think that the fact that no one can change their fate which has already been determined is indeed hard to accept. This is an unpleasant experience.”
Heishi replied, “What will happen if we change our fate?”
Molan said, “Once fate has been changed, the moment you return, the results from the butterfly effect will occur… Perhaps, we will see Dragonmaw City become a ruin once again. Or, perhaps… I’ve already died.”
As he stood listening to their conversation, A-Ka faintly felt that something was off.
Heishi didn’t speak, and a hush descended over the study.
“What type of medicine is this?” A-Ka asked curiously.
“Anesthetics,” answered Molan. “It’s used during surgeries.”
Heishi said, “What did you want to tell A-Ka? Say it.”
“Please sit, A-Ka.” Molan said, “If you want coffee, you can pour it yourself. Do you remember when you mentioned your problem here?”
A-Ka walked to the table to pour himself some coffee. He was still thinking back about the prophetic dreams Paixi had told him about, and he didn’t know how he would tell Heishi about them. If Paixi’s dreams would become reality in the future, then on the day Father was to perish and Heishi was to reboot all of Astrolabe, A-Ka would perish together with Father.
When he had heard Paixi’s words, A-Ka had felt very calm, and that it wasn’t too big of a deal. A death like that was at least much better than dying from the indiscriminate massacres of the mech soldiers in Mechanical City. However, inexplicably, the moment he saw Heishi, A-Ka felt a bit sad and reluctant.
“What is it?” Heishi gazed at A-Ka, sensing that something was wrong.
“Nothing.” A-Ka shook his head and managed a weak smile. He said to Molan, “We’ve only found two sections of the code needed to enter the central system. There’s one more, and it was with General Libre, but Libre already died.”
Molan nodded. A-Ka asked, “I was thinking that Dragonmaw City might have a backup copy?”
As he said that, A-Ka’s heart fluttered. Since Molan had gone to Mechanical City during the early stages of the revolution, did he have a backup of the code?
He looked expectantly at Molan, but Molan had already guessed what he was thinking. He smiled at A-Ka and said, “Regrettably, I have disappointed you. Although I knew that that battle would end in a loss from Paixi’s dreams, I wasn’t able to obtain any backup of General Libre’s code.”
“Is that so,” A-Ka said dejectedly.
“Allow me to first ask you two a question.” Molan said, “If, after ending everything, you two might be separated, as everything you’re doing now is not for yourselves, would you two still be willing?”
Heishi looked at A-Ka, his gaze questioning.
A-Ka was a bit at a loss. Molan said, “Rebooting Astrolabe might… It’s only a possibility that you two will encounter unforeseeable mishaps, so it won’t just change the future, it is even more possible that it will be related to the past.”
Heishi replied, “I’ll do what A-Ka tells me to. He implored me to give you humans and androids a new world. A-Ka?”
“I…” A-Ka’s eyes were rimmed with red, and hearing that, he had no way of controlling his sadness.
A-Ka walked up to Heishi and hugged him tightly, burying his head into Heishi’s shoulder and sobbing softly.
Molan put down the medicine he was holding and walked over to A-Ka, placing a hand onto his back.
“It appears that you still aren’t ready.” Molan said lightly, “Rest for one more day, we still have a lot of time.”
“The assault on Mechanical City will be in three days, right?” A-Ka wiped away his tears and said, “I’m willing to do it. I can do it.”
Molan looked at A-Ka as if he had known already that he would answer like that.
“The world will remember what you have done and what you will do.” Molan dropped down on one knee and said heavily, “Please allow me to express my deepest respect.”
A-Ka hastened to help Molan up and said, “You’re welcome, Your Majesty. Is there any way to get General Libre’s section of code?”
Molan returned to his desk and explained, “As you know, after the data in the Creators’ laboratory was leaked, one person created Father and Mechanical City, one person established the nation of androids, and one other person founded the Religion of the Stars.”
A-Ka said, “Yes.”
Molan said, “The first chief of the Religion of the Stars also brought back a portion of the installations. We call it the Wish of the Tides.”
“What… what is it?” A-Ka asked, dazed.
Molan said, “Actually, in our universe, time doesn’t always flow forward. There are fundamental particles everywhere, and their back-and-forth tremors produce an energy that can push the erosion of time as experienced by all objects, which then reaches the opposite shore… I think that if I let you take a look at it first, you’ll be able to conceptualize it better. Please follow me.”
Molan opened a secret door on the bookshelf and brought them through a quiet, winding corridor that led underground. This path was incongruous with the magnificent buildings in Dragonmaw City.
The rotating escalator led deep underground, and Molan took off the chief’s necklace he was wearing. It was a five-pointed star that glowed, and it lit up a small area in front of the three of them.
“This is the forbidden land of the chief.” Molan explained, “Only when the Star Key is ignited can one enter here.”
As they stepped onto the first step of a staircase, in the dark, the stars lit up the entire sky, covering the still darkness. It was as if gems were twinkling on velvet, and as they flickered, thin, white lines projected towards them.
A-Ka squinted and said, “Those are lethal lasers.”
“Yes,” replied Molan. “The first chief set up this place. Follow closely behind me, and be as careful as you can.”
A-Ka watched as the spinning, scattered rays shot towards them, casting themselves towards their bodies. However, Molan’s pendant had some strange power and deflected all of the fine laserbeams, forming a warm and golden shield that refracted all of the lights back, one by one.
In A-Ka’s eyes, although the array of lasers were meticulous and complicated, it wasn’t impossible to pass through. Heishi grasped his hand and said, “There are holes in this laser array.”
“Only for you two,” Molan said politely. “A-Ka’s eyes can see all structures in the world. The shot that Doctor Kalan gave turned him into the sacrifice for entering the planet’s Nucleus, and everything is among the destruction of his consciousness.”
A-Ka was shocked and thought, So that’s how it is.
“Sacrifice,” murmured A-Ka. “So in other words, I’m the gods’ sacrifice?”
“The sacrifice of God’s Son,” replied Molan. “The bond between you and Heishi has links in the dark. He woke up because of you, and similarly…”
“That is enough, Chief.” Heishi interrupted Molan’s sentence.
Molan smiled, but A-Ka wanted to know what Molan was going to say, so he said to Heishi, “Let him finish talking!”
Heishi’s hand that held A-Ka’s tightened a bit and Heishi’s gaze was reproachful, so A-Ka didn’t say anything else.
Molan said, “I will tell you later, A-Ka. Now, let’s take a look at the Wish of the Tides. I believe that you will be able to perceive what it’s used for.”
Molan stopped walking. They had already arrived at the center of the laser array, and when they had walked into a certain range, the starlight in the sky disappeared in an instant. Walls appeared around them, and pure white light emanated from the walls. The ceiling and the floor all had the milky light, as if they were in a white room with no furnishing. Three hundred and sixty degrees of light were everywhere, enveloping them.
There was only a nutrient pod in the center of the room. The nutrient pod was brand-new, and A-Ka was surprised. “That’s the carrier Heishi was in when he arrived at the shore!”
“Yes.” Molan said, “Take a closer look. Is it exactly the same?”
A-Ka bent over to inspect the nutrient pod, and saw that there was a glinting nameplate on the outside of it. “Heishi Z9925” was carved into it.
“I’m sure, it’s exactly the same.” A-Ka placed a hand onto the cover of the nutrient pod and said, “Heishi, this is his name.”
Heishi replied, “Originally, I did not have a name. A-Ka gave me a human name based on the markings on the pod.”
A-Ka gazed inside of the nutrient pod, and in an instant, the pod’s structure emerged in front of him: the oxygen supply, the dormancy installations, as well as the electrical circuits. The nutrient pod used materials and antimatter that humans had no way of grasping yet, and inside the pod, it was enough to supply everything a living being required for hundreds of thousands of years.
But regrettably, its power source had already been exhausted and it couldn’t operate anymore.
Molan explained, “The first chief rode in this as he left the Ancient Core. He set off from the underground lava tunnels, went through the deep ocean, and entered the seabed between the eastern and western mainlands, before finally being brought to the shore.”
Molan pressed his star-shaped necklace onto the outer cover of the nutrient pod, and the hatch opened slowly, revealing a small boy sleeping serenely inside.
A-Ka was shocked.
Heishi was also a little surprised and asked, “He is…”
“Yes.” Molan said, “He is the first chief, and he has already passed away several years ago.”
The boy’s appearance was still lifelike, and he held a ring-shaped thing in his hand. Molan first kneeled down on one knee next to the nutrient pod, uttered a prayer in a low voice, took the ring out of the boy’s hand, and closed the nutrient pod.
Molan handed the ring to A-Ka. A-Ka was silent as he held the ring, and looked at it closely under the light from the rays. The ring had an extremely complicated internal structure, making him truly dizzy for the first time in his life. The loop of energy in the ring relied entirely on the strange light that moved back and forth in the microscopic world that was inside the gemstone mounted on top.
“It’s like it’s alive,” murmured A-Ka.
“Yes.” Molan nodded his head in approval and said, “There is a city in there.”
Heishi frowned slightly. A-Ka was astonished and said, “No wonder. There’s really that many lives existing in this gemstone?”
“They are life forms that are completely different from us humans.” Molan took off his star-shaped necklace and said, “Perhaps, the Creators created the world in the gemstone and left it on our mainland. There are too many mysteries in this gem, of which we have no way of prying into.”
A-Ka said, “In the center of this gemstone, there’s a… a…”
A-Ka looked with concentration at the bright red gemstone. In the center, there was a crack, but upon closer inspection he saw that it was a strange structure.
“An emitter,” murmured A-Ka. “A particle emitter.”
Molan smiled and nodded. A-Ka returned the ring to Molan and said, “It’s a spiral particle emitter, and it can make the particles spin around the tower by themselves.”
Molan put on the ring and led them away from the underground space. A-Ka asked, “But what’s the use of having only an emitter? You would need another one that’s exactly the same as it that acts as a receiver. Only then can they respond to each other and allow energy to jump between them. Or, is there another ring that is exactly the same as that one?”
Molan replied, “You guessed right. The energy this ring emits can be received by another ring that is exactly the same.”
Molan brought them out of the underground secret room and closed the secret door. A-Ka asked, “I can’t see how this helps us obtain Libre’s section of code.”
Molan replied, “Completely the same. A-Ka, there is nothing in this world that is exactly the same. Especially for the microscopic world, only it itself has a structure that is completely the same as itself.”
A-Ka understood in an instant and was astonished. “Itself from the past!”
“Correct.” Molan nodded and said, “Using its jump of energy, it can send you two to the past. Do you still remember when we met on the ship?”
A-Ka immediately recalled that when he had met Molan, he seemed to have been wearing a ring.
Molan explained, “A year ago, when I left Dragonmaw City to go to the eastern mainland, I was too worried to leave this relic here, so I took the ring along with me. The ring’s power can effectively position itself, and it can send the present you to the past. Then, you can find the past Libre and obtain that section of code.”
No exaggeration of words could describe A-Ka’s shock at this moment. He stood there for a long time, not making a sound. Molan said, “Now, I need to communicate with the lives inside the ring to make sure that they’re willing to send you two back. Today, why don’t you and the God’s Son rest? How’s that sound?”
Heishi asked, “When will we begin carrying out the mission?”
Molan thought about it and replied, “We still have a lot of time. After all, in the flow of time in the past, it doesn’t count as any time in the present. You two can set off in the early morning of the last day, but I don’t advise you to do so. Of course, it is also inadvisable to set off today, as today is the Spring Festival. It is the night where everything grows, so I advise you two to walk around in the city.”
Heishi said, “Then we will do it tomorrow.”
Molan nodded, pleased, and gestured politely for them to leave. A-Ka’s mind was blank, and he hadn’t, in a million years, thought that this was how Molan would solve their problems.
Heishi followed behind him, and A-Ka walked for a while before stopping in the long corridor, lifting his eyes to meet Heishi’s gaze. Heishi still had on that indifferent expression——no matter who he was facing, or what he heard, he was always wearing that poker face.
“You do not want to go?” asked Heishi.
A-Ka was silent for a while and then stepped forward to hug Heishi, reluctant to leave as he leaned against his body. That moment, Heishi’s gaze changed, and complicated expressions gathered in his eyes. He lowered his head, seemingly about to say something, yet he couldn’t find a way to express it.
In the end, he merely placed his hand on A-Ka’s head, just like how Feiluo always did to calm Paixi down.
“What happened?” asked Heishi. “Ever since a while ago, you seem to be a bit absent-minded.”
A-Ka thought for a long time and replied, “No, nothing.”
A-Ka managed a smile, and Heishi asked, “Are you scared that returning to the past will be dangerous?”
A-Ka said, “Uncle Molan said that he’s scared we’ll encounter some unforeseeable mishaps.”
The corner of Heishi’s mouth twitched, and he seemed to be hiding something. “Since you are scared of the unforeseeable, then you should not have agreed in the first place, is that not right?”
A-Ka was speechless.
“That’s not how you solve problems, okay?!” A-Ka was inexplicably mad. Heishi was calm as he said, “This is not like you.”
“Not like me?” A-Ka laughed a little and asked, “Then what am I like?”
Heishi walked over so that he was right next to A-Ka and turned his head to the side to look at him. “Do you still remember that day you stepped forward in the crowd of humans?”
A-Ka stood, facing Heishi. Heishi looked so familiar, yet he no longer had that expression he had then, when he had been standing on the platform and with a mech guard holding a gun to his head.
“I remember.” A-Ka smiled.
Heishi slowly used his thumb to point at himself, and then used his index finger to poke A-Ka’s shoulder. “Believe in yourself, and believe in me.”
A-Ka’s melancholy vanished at once and he grinned, saying, “Okay, Heishi.”