Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
It was a white world, except for the flat land covered with ice, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, and the Star Warship was parked on the ice between the mountains. After a headcount, the Star Warship doors slowly closed.
Lan Yu already knew what the mission was, they would set off from here, cross several glaciers, reach the location of the interstellar beast on the planet map, complete the mission and then turn back and return on the Star Warship.
With Lu RanKong’s call, the four battalions of mecha soldiers gathered together and headed down the glacial canyon.
The ice was hard and slick, so it was hard to walk. Although there was no hurricane, the wind was blowing people sideways. Soldiers were dragging each other’s hands and walking hard in a long string.
Chen YuTan and Lin Zhu were leading the long line, while Lu RanKong and Lan Yu walked at the end.
“Are you cold?” Lu RanKong asked Lan Yu beside him, his voice slightly distorted by the cold shield on his head.
“No, I’m not cold. This cold-insulating suit is quite effective.” Lan Yu said.
“What about your hands? Are your hands stiff?”
Lan Yu stretched out his hand, shaking it with his five fingers, “A little bit, but not serious.”
Lu RanKong took off the cold bag he was carrying and said, “Here, put the woolen cover you knitted on the gun handle.”
Lan Yu handed him the ion gun on his shoulder, and when it was ready, he took it back and carried it again.
“Is the safety on?” Lu RanKong asked him.
Lan Yu took the gun off again and checked it, “It’s on…”
“Mn, it’s still far from the location of the interstellar beast shown in the image, but we have to be prepared for the unexpected.”
Lan Yu looked around as he walked, marveling at the amazing views of the glaciers. When a gust of wind came, he almost lost his footing and was held firmly by Lu RanKong.
After about ten minutes of walking, the group left the flat ice surface and entered a deep valley. It was a canyon formed between two snow-capped mountains, and as soon as they stepped into it, the gale disappeared without a trace. Everyone felt a sense of relief, speeding up the pace forward.
This canyon was very long, and after walking for another half hour or so, the team stopped in front of them.
“YuTan, what’s wrong?” Lu RanKong asked over the walkie-talkie.
Chen YuTan replied, “We’re only halfway to our destination, it’s still early anyway. Let’s take a break while there’s no wind here, we’ve been walking for almost an hour.”
Lu RanKong looked at Lan Yu and said, “Okay, let’s rest here for ten minutes.”
Lan Yu saw a snow-covered boulder on the left side of the canyon, so he went over and sat against it. Lu RanKong also came and sat next to it, handed him a water bottle, and said, “Have a drink…”
Lan Yu took the canteen and opened the valve, put the special straw into the cold hood, took two sips and then handed it back to Lu RanKong. Lan Yu patted the snow on the back of his shoulder, but found that the stone was faintly colored.
He brushed away the snow on the surface and saw some dark red spots on the stone, shaped like a small thumb, protruding from the surface, and shining, like a layer of silver powder. He couldn’t help but poke Lu RanKong beside him and said, “Look at this stone, it looks so strange.”
Lu RanKong turned his head to look at it and said absently, “Oh, this, this is not a stone, it’s an ice worm.”
“What? A worm?” Lan Yu jumped up as if he had been struck by electricity, desperately patting his back, asking repeatedly, “Quickly see if there’s any on my back. Quickly see if there are worms on my back!”
“No, no, no bugs, don’t panic.” Lu RanKong hurriedly put the water bottle, “It’s okay, these are all dead, they are insect carcasses.”
Lan Yu saw that some soldiers in front of him were turning their heads when they heard the commotion, so he hurriedly acted as if nothing was wrong and walked to the other side of the open snow to sit down again.
Lu RanKong also came to sit with him and explained, “This is called an ice worm, which is a kind of creature unique to Veya Planet and needs a special substance called S2G in the air to survive. This substance can only be found in deep soil, so they have been living underground. Later, a leap point was opened above the planet, causing atmospheric changes, and some of the underground S2G evaporated into the air, and they all came to the surface. As a result, when the leap point was closed, the special substances in the air were gone, and all these ice worms died before they could return to the underground. So don’t be afraid, they’re all dead.”
Lan Yu came close to him and whispered, “While having a fear of bugs it doesn’t matter whether they’re dead or alive.”
“Then what is it?” Lu RanKong asked.
“It matters that it’s a worm. Whether dead or alive, it’s a bug.”
After a few seconds of silence, Lu RanKong asked, “Butterflies are also bugs, are you afraid of them?”
“This ice worm looks just like a butterfly, what are you afraid of?”
“Where does it look like a butterfly? It doesn’t even have wings…” Lan Yu said.
Lu RanKong said with certainty, “It looks like a small butterfly, that’s what butterflies look like when they’re little.”
“That’s called a caterpillar, right? Caterpillars and butterflies are not the same thing at all!” Lan Yu frowned in disgust, “I get goosebumps when I hear those words.”
Lu RanKong asked again, “What about ladybugs? Are you afraid?”
“No, ladybugs are cute.”
“Then why are you afraid of this ice worm, which is similar in color to a ladybug and has cute little red dots on its body?”
“It’s totally different from a ladybug. It’s spooky and it’s flashing.”
Lu RanKong thought about it and asked, “So you’re afraid of fireflies too?”
Lan Yu said, “No, I like fireflies the most. I love to see fireflies in the summer when I go to shoo… in the wild.”
Lu RanKong looked at him and asked, confused, “Why aren’t you afraid of fireflies when they also flash?”
Lan Yu was about to answer and then shut his mouth. He suddenly had a bad feeling in his heart and asked warily, “Why do you keep obsessing about this? Does it matter if I’m afraid of ice worms or not?”
Sure enough, Lu RanKong said after a moment of silence, “Because there are ice worms everywhere in front of us. Of course, they are all dead.”
Lan Yu froze and asked, “Are they buried under the snow? I don’t care if they’re buried underneath and invisible.”
Lu RanKong shook his head and said, “The section in front is not covered with snow and ice.”
“What if we don’t look at the ground but only the sides?”
“On both sides of the mountain wall, too.”
Lan Yu swallowed hard, “Can I feel them when stepping on them?”
Lu RanKong slowly nodded, “Maybe a little feeling, but they are frozen to death, so just think of it as small stones to step on.”
After a ten-minute break, the soldiers set off again to move forward. As they entered the canyon deeper and deeper, Lan Yu found that just as Lu RanKong had said, a section of the road ahead wasn’t covered with snow and ice because of the geography; whether it was the mountain walls on either side or underneath their feet, the whole mountain rocks were exposed.
It was covered with ice worm carcasses, small knuckle-like bumps, red spots on the worm’s body shining with firefly-like light. Black rocks and those ice insects, so that this canyon looked colorful, but unusually bizarre.
Lan Yu stiffly followed Lu RanKong, striding mechanically, trying to ignore the unevenness under his feet, and the clicking sound as if the stones beneath him were breaking.
“It won’t take long to get out of here and get to the leap station, so we can return to the ship once we get rid of those cuties.” Lu RanKong said comfortingly. Seeing that Lan Yu didn’t say anything, he added, “Want to hear a story? I’ll tell you a story.”
“What story?” Lan Yu looked straight ahead, not allowing himself to pay attention to the mountain walls on either side and the road beneath him, not giving even the slightest hint of light.
“There was a little boy, he grew up afraid of kittens, and one night his father had a sudden emergency, he had to go over the mountain to get a doctor. As a result, he met all kinds of kittens along the way, and the mountain walls, branches and bushes were full of kittens. He was so scared that he found out that the kittens couldn’t beat him, and he has never been afraid of them since.” Lu RanKong racked his brain and spoke dryly.
Lan Yu said as he walked away, “I’m not afraid of them because I can’t beat them, and I can’t relate to your story. A flock of kittens is really cute.”
Lu RanKong said, “Then I’ll tell another one.” He cleared his throat and said, “There was a little boy who had been afraid of bugs since he was a small boy, and one night his father had an emergency and he had to go over the mountain to get a doctor. All along the way were bugs, the mountain walls, branches, and grass were all—”
“Don’t say any more, or I’ll gag you.” Lan Yu hurriedly interrupted, his voice a bit shrill.
Lu RanKong asked, “Don’t you think this story is encouraging and makes you less afraid of this situation?”
“No, it’s not encouraging at all! Don’t remind me that it’s everywhere!” Lan Yu said grumpily.
“Then I’ll change the story.”
“I don’t want to hear you tell a story.”
“Then I’ll listen to you…”
“I don’t want to tell one either…”
Lan Yu kept arguing with him in a low voice, and when he looked back, he found that he had unknowingly walked out of the canyon.
Lu RanKong smiled at him through the cold hood and said, “Look, you came out fine.”
Lan Yu bumped him with his shoulder and ran to the side again, rubbing the soles of his boots on the clean snow, urging, “Come on, rub the soles of your shoes on the snow, wipe them clean, don’t leave any traces.”
Lu RanKong only followed and rubbed the soles of his shoes with snow until Lan Yu checked and confirmed that they were clean. The rest of the way was quite good, an open snowy area. After walking for more than half an hour, several buildings appeared in front of them.
These buildings were buried under the snow, and if it weren’t for the pointy roofs showing, Lan Yu wouldn’t have known they had arrived at the leap station.
Lu RanKong issued orders to everyone on the intercom, “Attention all, Battalion 1 and Battalion 4 search the outer perimeter, Battalion 2 and Battalion 3 search the interior of the Leap Station, move quickly and start executing.”
All the soldiers spread out, Chen YuTan and Lin Zhu took some of them to check the surrounding snowy mountains, while the rest went inside the Leap Station. The whole station was already buried in the snow, and the gate was only half exposed, so it was easy to cross it directly from the top. The sky was still clear as blue, there was no wind and no snow, and there was silence all around, only the rustling of soldiers’ feet and brief conversations.
A soldier brushed the snow off the top of the gate, and underneath appeared the words, Veya Planet Leap Point Control Station.
Lan Yu took the ion gun off his shoulder and held it in his hand as he and Lu RanKong stepped through the Leap Point gate and began inspecting the buildings behind it. Lu RanKong gestured to him and the two quickly separated, taking their team of soldiers to the left and right sides respectively.
Lan Yu went to the right building, which was large, nearly a thousand square meters in size, but only one floor. The roof and walls exposed from the snow were made of special materials, looking smooth and solid, without any gaps or windows.
This should be the main control room of the leap station.
The soldiers, led by the squad leader, spread out and checked along the building, while Lan Yu found the location of the main door and stood on the snow to look down. The door was only half exposed and looked like it hadn’t been opened in a long time. The information lock was intact and showed no signs of external damage.
Soon, the soldiers who inspected it all came back one after another.
“Colonel K, the first team didn’t find the interstellar beasts.”
“Report, the second team found no trace of the interstellar beasts.”
“Report, team three didn’t find any signs of interstellar beasts.”
Lan Yu relaxed and said into the intercom, “No abnormalities were found in the main control room checked by the second battalion, no abnormalities were found.”
“The first battalion found no anomalies in the area behind the leap station.” It was Lin Zhu’s voice.
Chen YuTan also picked up, “The fourth battalion found no anomalies to the left and right of the leap station.”
“The third battalion found nothing unusual in the dormitory area.” Lu RanKong finally added.
“You guys, could the information be wrong? We haven’t found any interstellar beasts all the way over here, we’ve checked everywhere and still haven’t.” Lin Zhu’s voice was faintly suspicious.
Chen YuTan said, “No matter whether there is or not, it’s always good to check once to make sure, to have a peace of mind.”
Lan Yu didn’t make a sound. Lu RanKong seemed to think deeply for a while before saying, “Since the images sent back show that there are interstellar beasts in this area, it proves that there are indeed interstellar beasts in this area. This is a leap station, and we can’t be careless, so we’ll stay here for one night to see what happens, and then make a decision tomorrow.”
“OK…” Everyone agreed with the proposal.
The soldiers all concentrated on that house in the dormitory area, took out snow shovels and other tools, dug the snow away from the circle of the gate, and prepared to enter. Because of the heavy snow and wind in Veya Planet, whatever the building was, it was only one story, but the good thing was that it was large enough to accommodate this many soldiers.
Lan Yu stood in a corner, listening to Lu RanKong and Chen YuTan whispering beside him. Lin Zhu was across from him, his eyes looking at the woolen gun handle holster on his and Lu RanKong’s shoulders, and the swaying thread pendant, in a trance.
After the snow was dug away from the front door, an engineer handily unlocked the scan lock and everyone entered the room.
“Everyone’s tired, so take a good rest. If there’s nothing unusual, we will return to the ship tomorrow.” Lu RanKong said as he stood in the passage.
The soldiers all cheered.
There were about thirty or so rooms on this floor of the quarters, and each one wasn’t too big, but all they asked for was a place to get out of the wind and sit against the wall for the night.
“You go rest first, I will go to the main control area to check if the power system can start, so we won’t have to freeze.” Lu RanKong finished speaking to Lan Yu and led a few engineers out of the dormitory building.
Lan Yu smoothly pushed open a door on the left and entered. Inside, there were only two empty iron beds, nothing else, and the temperature was probably only a few degrees higher than outside; it was like an ice cave.
But no sooner had he placed the ion gun and munitions bag on his shoulder in the corner than the dimly lit room lit up with a faint humming from the four walls in the corner and heat was spreading rapidly. Outside the door came another cheer from the soldiers, and Lan Yu knew that it was Lu RanKong over at the main control area, putting the power system into motion.
The room quickly heated up, so Lan Yu pulled off the cold-insulating hood and breathed a long sigh of relief.
This thing wasn’t heavy, but was still a little stuffy and quite uncomfortable.
After a while, the door was pushed open, and Lu RanKong came in, “Tired, right? Do you want to rest for a while?”
“Not tired, I’m okay.” Lan Yu said.
Lu RanKong opened the two men’s munition bags, took out two vacuum bags from inside, and unscrewed the valve on top. The vacuum bag quickly expanded into two sleeping bags of the same fabric as the cold-weather suit.
The two single beds in the room were placed against the wall, one on the left and one on the right, and after he put the sleeping bags on them, he moved one of them so that the two beds were placed side by side.
Lan Yu took the cold bag he had prepared while he was dragging the bed, fished out a piece of chocolate from it, tore it open, and broke off a large piece, feeding it into Lu RanKong’s mouth.
“You have this with you? Nice…” Lu RanKong chewed the chocolate while arranging his sleeping bag, and after swallowing it all, he gave it to Lan Yu and said, “It’s very sweet, I want to eat more.”
Lan Yu had just fed the rest in his hand into his mouth when he heard the words and went to get the bag again to take another piece out, but Lu RanKong took his hand in his and gently brought him into his arms, and his lips and tongue went with it.
“I’ll eat it like this…” He said ambiguously.
“Do you want to go to—” Lin Zhu’s voice suddenly stopped when the door was pushed open. “I’m sorry.”
The door banged shut again.
“We were seen…” Lan Yu said with difficulty.
“If he saw it, he saw it, what’s wrong with that…”