Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Lan Yu wanted to pretend to be sick, so when the words just fell, Lu RanKong saw him already half bent over holding his stomach, back also hunched up. His forehead brow wrinkled, his nose opened and closed, as if he couldn’t breathe, he slightly opened his mouth, wanting to moan but trying to hold back, his lips were bitten to white, and slightly trembling.
He looked up at Lu RanKong, the pair of good-looking eyes full of pain and panic. At this moment, Lu RanKong held his breath, his heart tightening, and he almost asked him if he was uncomfortable.
“Officer, officer, 0356 seems to have a stomachache.” After regaining his senses, he hurriedly stood up and called out to the remaining prison guard.
Liu Junjie, who had been watching a movie, also leaned over and asked, “What’s wrong with Brother Qiao? Did you get a bad stomach?”
“There must’ve been something wrong with the food tonight, I thought that the taste wasn’t right!” Qiu Dao said angrily.
Lin Lin also turned his head to call out to the guard, “Sir, he’s really in pain, his forehead is sweating.”
The prison guard squeezed over from the side to look at Lan Yu, who duly grunted twice and raised his hand to grab Lu RanKong’s arm, his knuckles all white with tension.
The prison guard asked, “What’s wrong?”
Liu Junjie and Qiao Fei grabbed him, “Sir, he’s got food poisoning. He’s poisoned. Get him to the medical officer for a stomach pump.”
The guard frowned, “Nonsense…”
“No, it’s not a problem, it’s just, it’s just a little bit uncomfortable.” Lan Yu finished his sentence intermittently, taking several deep breaths in between.
Looking at him, the guard thought it was more than just a little discomfort and said to Lu RanKong, “0357, take him to the medical officer without delay.”
Lan Yu shivered his lips, “I can still hold on, I have to write about the movie after watching it…”
“Forget about the movie, go see the doctor first.” The prison guard said seriously, “0357, take him there quickly, don’t delay!”
“Yes…” Lu RanKong squatted down, and put Lan Yu on his back.
“It hurts…” Because of the change in posture, Lan Yu let out a low cry of pain at the right time.
Liu Junjie and the others hurriedly said, “Brother Bao, Brother Bao, take it easy.”
“Officer, let us go too.” Wang Jin said to the prison guard.
Qiao Fei nodded, “Yes, we’ll go too, Brother Qiao looks like he needs a lot of attention, we can take turns.”
“No, you guys stay.” Lu RanKong hurriedly stopped, “I’ll take him for a checkup first and let you know if there’s any problem.”
“So you can do it alone? We can go help.”
“No, I can do it alone.” Lu RanKong didn’t allow them to say anything else as he carried Lan Yu and went out, the other prisoners stood up to make way.
“That’s fine…” When everyone else saw him like this, they had to agree.
When they got to the door, the guards at the gate saw the confirming gesture of the guards inside and let them go after a little questioning. Lu RanKong carried Lan Yu on his back and walked forward along the dark courtyard.
“Left, the guards’ quarters are on the left.” Lan Yu reminded in a low voice.
“Watch your back, go towards the medical room first, and then go left after you get out of sight.” Lu RanKong replied and then asked, “Your stomach doesn’t hurt, does it?”
Lan Yu wondered, “Wasn’t I faking?”
Lu RanKong breathed a sigh of relief and sighed, “I almost thought you had a real stomach ache because you were faking it so well.”
After crossing the courtyard and seeing that the people at the warehouse were out of sight, Lan Yu slid off his back and the two of them walked in the shadows of the building, along the base of the wall towards the guards’ quarters.
On the road, they encountered no one. The guards were in the warehouse watching movies with them, and they soon arrived outside the guards’ quarters. It was a ten-story apartment suite with a high fence outside the building for security, and a metal door in the middle with a monitor and scanning information lock.
“How do we get in?” Lan Yu looked at the door from a distance.
Lu RanKong finished, went around to one side of the fence, took a few steps back to help run, put one foot on the surface of the fence, and then leapt upward, landing on top of the fence like a roc.
He crouched at the top of the wall and waved his head at Lan Yu in the darkness, signaling him to come up. Lan Yu looked at the smooth fence wall, then looked up at Lu RanKong above, also took a few steps back, took a deep breath and began to run, jumped, putting a foot on the fence in the middle.
The wall was too slippery, so his foot slipped and he almost stepped on the air, the force was then removed. When he was about to fall down, a hand grabbed his arm from the air and pulled him up, and he stood firmly on top of the fence.
The two men gently slid from the wall to the ground again, hiding in the darkness to the left of the small courtyard.
“It was too slippery…” Lan Yu explained in a low voice.
Lu RanKong said, “There is obviously a bump on the wall and you didn’t step on it… think you are a monkey?”
“I didn’t see it…” Lan Yu said, a little exasperated.
“Shh, don’t make noise.”
“You’re the one making the noise, you shush my ass.”
When they entered the dormitory building, Lu RanKong said to Lan Yu, “I’ll go to the laundry room to see the laundry they sent to the dormitory with the label of the dormitory number on it, so you can check the surroundings here.”
“703,” Lan Yu said.
“Don’t go through the labels, he lives in 703.”
Lu RanKong asked, “How do you know that?”
“Because I asked around in advance.” Lan Yu said in a deep voice, “This is a must before doing the mission.”
Lu RanKong didn’t say anything and walked towards the stairs, Lan Yu also followed.
He glanced at the wall to the right of the passage, the top of which read in big letters Civilized Dormitory Exhibition Window, below which were posted enlarged bust photos of the guards, each with its respective dormitory room number, and Officer Liu’s smiling face, which stood out in the crowd of serious faces.
They didn’t take the elevator, but climbed the stairs. Both of them were tall and had long legs, so they took a few steps together and soon reached the seventh floor. The sensor lights in the corridor were broken, and it was dark. Only the moonlight fell on the ground through the windows at both ends, vaguely reflecting the door numbers on the rows of doors.
Lan Yu followed behind Lu RanKong, quietly following the row of doors, and stopped at the door of 703.
There was no light coming through the bottom crack of the door, so no light was on inside, and Officer Liu was probably sleeping.
Lu RanKong took out a metal card from his pocket and fiddled with it.
After a soft click, the door opened a crack.
As Lu RanKong gently pushed the door, Lan Yu’s heart was about to jump out of his chest, clutching the injection tightly in his hand.
The door was pushed open and the two darted in, each rushing into a room. With the moonlight outside the window, Lan Yu first saw a single bed against the wall, but the bed was neatly folded, and there was no one on it. He flicked a switch on the wall and the room lit up. Then he slowly walked over and leaned down to look under the bed.
It was also empty.
He opened the closet door opposite the bed and saw only two uniforms and shirts hanging inside.
Other than that, there was no room for anyone in the entire bedroom.
Lan Yu came out of the bedroom and saw Lu RanKong coming out of the room he had rushed into, standing in the doorway and shaking his head at him, saying, “This is the bathroom, there is no one in there.”
After saying that, he walked towards the bedroom, as if he wanted to confirm it himself.
Lan Yu was no exception and walked over to the bathroom.
The two of them brushed past each other and went into the room, and as soon as Lan Yu stepped into the bathroom, he let out a wow in his heart. The prison guards’ accommodation was so good, the bathroom was very big, it was enough to catch up with his bedroom in the small suite in the military department.
He looked enviously at the wet and dry shower, and then went in and pushed the wall with his hand.
It didn’t move at all!
This was how to take a shower! Even if one was singing, it couldn’t be heard next door!
There was a mirror on the opposite wall and a shelf with simple toiletries, Lan Yu opened the cupboard next to it and there was only one set of clean underwear. He came out of the bathroom and saw Lu RanKong coming out of the bedroom. Both of them looked at each other and shook their heads, saying they didn’t find anything.
“Where would he go at this late hour?” Lan Yu took a seat on the single sofa in the small living room.
Lu RanKong continued to search the living room, saying, “No matter where he’s going, he’s going to come back, so just wait here.”
The living room was simple, except for the single sofa and coffee table, there was a desk under the window. Lu RanKong pulled out every drawer of the desk, which was filled with miscellaneous things, and there was nothing unusual about it. He pushed the drawers in, stepped back to look at the desk and narrowed his eyes, “This drawer is not deep, but it doesn’t look like this on the outside…”
“What’s wrong?” Lan Yu couldn’t help but probe and ask.
Lu RanKong didn’t reply, but squatted down, reached to the bottom of the drawer and felt around. Unclear about what he found, with a click, the drawer panel in front of him flipped down, revealing two drawers inside.
It turned out that there were layers of hidden cabinets underneath.
Lan Yu hurriedly got up and went to Lu RanKong. Lu RanKong slowly pulled the drawer outward, inside was a thick pile of documents. Lan Yu reached out and took out a small stack, and quickly looked through it one by one.
“It’s all Lontan Planet information. All of it.” He said as he flipped through them, “And they also have Lontan Planet written on them.”
These were hand-bound booklets, all printed out by himself. Some of them were books with illustrations, and some of them were dictated by others and then recorded in the booklet.
Lu RanKong also picked up a pile and flipped through it, frowning slightly and saying, “These contents are both true and false, whether they are folklore or the contents of books that have been banned, he has collected them all here, and they look quite comprehensive, some of which I have never heard of.”
Lan Yu caught a word and stopped moving to ask, “There are truths and falsehoods?”
“Yes, but in general there are quite a lot of them, some of them are even military secrets, so it seems he put a lot of effort into collecting them.” Lu RanKong put the booklet back in his hand.
Lan Yu turned to a page that depicted a bird with white feathers, a bright red tail, and a thin foot slightly curled under its belly; a three-legged gull. Next to it was a handwritten note that the three-legged gull wasn’t a real bird, but a fictional creature of the Kaiju Planet.
These booklets were made with great care and attention. After flipping through two more, he threw them on the table and said, “Maybe we’re wrong, Officer Liu is not from Lontan Planet.”
Lu RanKong said, “If he was from Lontan Planet, he wouldn’t have collected all this information, and the contents are both true and false.”
Lan Yu propped his hands on the table, hung his head, and asked in a jarring voice, “Then what is he? An avid fan of Kaiju Planet, a crazy data collector?”
“But we can’t be sure. A fanatic of Kaiju Planet wouldn’t be like him, hiding all the information he collects. If he’s not from Lontan Planet, he has other purposes.” Lu RanKong said.
“Not sure? Then should we still catch him for interrogation?”
Lu RanKong didn’t answer, only took the documents out and continued to look through them quickly. When the last booklet was picked up, the bottom of the drawer revealed an upside-down picture frame.
Lan Yu, with his head hanging, saw the frame and said, “Take it out and see what it is.”
“It’s probably another picture of Planet Kaiju.” Lu RanKong said as he took the frame out.
He turned the frame over and Lan Yu peered over and a photo of two people appeared in front of their eyes.
Officer Liu and a prisoner in prison clothes, sitting on a bench, leaning intimately together, smiling and facing the camera.
The prisoner was about his age, looked a little thin, and with the light spilling from the gap in the leaves overhead it was falling on their smiling eyes, as if pulsating. Happiness and satisfaction were written on their faces. The background was in the prison by that old ginkgo tree, next to some prisoners.
Lan Yu wondered how they both had the opportunity to take this photo.
A picture appeared in front of him, Officer Liu taking pictures with the prisoners next to each other, just to be able to leave a photo with someone in his heart, under this cover.
Lu RanKong looked at the photo side by side with him and asked in confusion, “Why did he hide a photo of a prisoner here? What is the key person of this prisoner?”
Lan Yu said lightly, “You can’t even see this.”
“See what—” Lu RanKong paused in a sentence and said, “So Officer Liu is in love with a prisoner.”
“Maybe they are lovers? The prisoner is also smiling happily.” Lan Yu said, looking at the photo.
As soon as the words left his mouth, there was a sound from the door, and the door was suddenly pushed open.
The two men abruptly turned around and met eyes with Officer Liu standing in the doorway.
Lan Yu quickly put down the photo frame and squeezed the injection in his hand. He watched Officer Liu nervously, ready to pounce on him and control him as soon as he behaved abnormally, regardless of whether he was a Lontan person or not.
The three men didn’t move, just standing in silence and alert.
Officer Liu’s eyes slowly crossed from the two of them and fell on the open drawers of the dark cabinet, then stepped forward and closed the door with the opposite hand. His usual smiling face sank, and his voice was cold, “Who the hell are you two?”
Lu RanKong asked in return, “Officer Liu, who are you again?”
“I’m just an ordinary prison guard.”
“We are both just ordinary prisoners.”
Officer Liu’s round, fat face showed a trace of ruthlessness as he said, “You two ordinary prisoners, how can you have the ability to sneak into the prison guard’s room and rummage around? Tell me, what exactly are you two doing here?”
“Officer Liu opened the door and encountered two prisoners in his room, neither alerting anyone nor calling for help, and actually closed the door. Are you really just an ordinary prison guard?” Lu RanKong returned slowly.
Lan Yu’s eyes went back and forth between the two, too nervous to breathe, but steadied his expression with a look of profound mystery.
“Prison guards… seemingly can’t have a relationship with a prisoner.” Lu RanKong turned his head and picked up the frame, “You two are meeting in secret behind the prison’s back?”
Officer Liu didn’t make a sound with a sullen face.
Lu RanKong sighed and said, “Officer Liu, don’t be nervous, now under this situation, our real identity and purpose even if we tell you, there’s nothing to hide. The one next to me is the one who specializes in—”
Lan Yu, “Stationed in the Empire’s second mecha battalion Colonel K, you are suspected to be a Lontan person, now we’re carrying out a clearance mission to find it.”
Lu RanKong, “Commissioned by the warden to investigate whether the guards and prisoners have an affair—”
Two voices rang out at the same time, and Lu RanKong’s words stalled as the other voice grew more resonant.
He turned his head speechlessly to look at Lan Yu, who didn’t look at him, but only gazed searingly at Officer Liu in front of him, and continued, “If you can prove that you aren’t a Lontan person, I will let you go. If not, you will immediately be removed.” After saying these words, he raised the needle next to his ear and slowly said, “Officer Liu, you can’t escape.”
Lu RanKong could only sink his face as well and introduced himself, “Lu RanKong, Colonel, 3rd mecha battalion of Empire stationed at Tower Planet Army. Came together with Colonel K to carry out a clearance mission. If you have any doubts about our identity, you can check with the warden.”
Having said that, he stood at attention with Lan Yu, just watching out for the person on the other side, if he would suddenly resist or flee. The two inmates in prison clothes were staring at the guard in his uniform, and it was an eerie scene.
Officer Liu, however, didn’t react in the way they thought he would, nor did he defend himself, but just stared at the two men, his expression shifting, in no way with tension or hostility. He muttered, “So you’re here to clean up the Lontan person.”
The room fell silent, Officer Liu raised his hand and wiped his face, ignoring the two of them, and slowly walked towards the desk.
Lan Yu tensed his body vigilantly, and Lu RanKong pressed his back undershirt, meaning to wait for a while. Officer Liu walked between the two, took out the photo frame, rubbed the glass surface with his hand cherishingly, and wiped the non-existent dust on it with his sleeve.
Lan Yu and Lu RanKong passed a glance, but didn’t make a sound, quietly watching his actions.
After a few moments of silence, Officer Liu spoke in a hoarse voice, “You’ve all seen the photos, so I don’t need to hide anything. His name is Xu, grew up in the interstellar gang, and became a Star Pirate, and was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in QuYa Prison. As you just guessed, he and I fell in love.
“Prison guards aren’t allowed to be with inmates, so he worked very hard to get his sentence reduced and get out soon so he could live with me bright and early. We agreed that when he got out of prison I would apply for resignation and we would find a planet with a nice view and spend the rest of our lives together.”
Officer Liu gazed at the smiling Xu in the frame, his face followed by a smile, his gaze also softened, full of warmth.
Lan Yu could see that he loved this person in the photo.
“We chose Chaya Planet to settle after discussion. The two of us bought a small fishing boat and built a small wooden house on the beach, going out to sea every morning and returning home together in the evening, listening to the waves and drinking the local speciality wine… In the course of his sentence, he saved several mining company personnel who fell down a deep well and made a merit, and really got his sentence reduced. So a year ago, he served his sentence and got out of prison. According to our agreement, he went to the main planet and waited for me. I had a six-month contract with prison, and when the six-month contract was over, I wouldn’t renew it, but go to the main planet to find him, and then we’d go to Chaya Planet together.
“After days and years of waiting, the two of us only relied on the daily terminal contact, and every day was full of hope. Until… Until…”
Lan Yu saw a teardrop on the frame, haloing Xu’s face.