[Ye Ming: Yingyingying, I’m so touched. He told little Brody to come save me even though I’m like this.]
[Ye Ming: Realer than real gold! Even though he’ll definitely come up with a bunch of excuses about how I’m still useful, his first instinct definitely wasn’t to kill me ^_^]
[888: Yeah, it looks like you’re very satisfied with the way things are progressing. You won’t be needing stuff like the pain shield, then, right?]
[Ye Ming: …You can’t abandon me QAQ!!!]
[888: Hehe, aren’t you very happy? Then what do you still need me for?]
[Ye Ming: No, I’m not happy at all! Yingyingying, I only love you! I was just joking! I’m honestly scared to death!!!]
[888: Get lost.]
Ye Ming rested for a while. Sure enough, his communications device soon made a noise, and Brody’s solemn voice came through. “Corporal Kevin, please report your current situation and location!”
Ye Ming immediately responded, “I was surrounded by several winged serpent beasts. I’m currently hiding in an abandoned shelter.”
His voice deep, Brody said, “Wait there and don’t leave. We’ll be there in ten minutes.”
Ye Ming left the storage room and waited at the entrance of the shelter. Indeed, after ten minutes, Brody and the others arrived.
From outside came the sounds of a fierce battle, accompanied by the shrieking and hissing of the winged serpent beasts. Soon after, it fell quiet.
When Ye Ming opened the door and went outside, he saw the bodies of two winged serpent beasts. Clearly, the rest had run away. Brody and a few other soldiers were standing there. They had also suffered some injuries, but it was nothing serious. He stood there looking at Ye Ming with a chilliness in his eyes.
After a while, Brody tilted his head and said, “Come with me.”
Ye Ming’s fighter ship had previously crashed, so he could only follow Brody and board his. The cabin of the ship was cramped, and he could only sit squeezed right next to Brody. He looked at Brody’s cold side profile from behind, the expression in his eyes complicated.
Brody did not say a word the entire time, but this was just so he could conceal the violently fluctuating emotions within him. Every time he thought about how the person behind him was Harvey, the traitor who he’d once secretly liked but now wished terribly to chop into ten thousand pieces, he was overcome with the urge to wring his neck and take him down alongside him!
Brody only kept himself under control when he thought of the marshal’s commands. He managed not to kill this person on the spot.
They did not come across any danger for the remainder of the journey. Brody smoothly brought Ye Ming and his other subordinates to a nearby base, and after receiving basic treatment for their wounds, they headed back to base star A001.
Brody sat in the starship with his eyes closed and his hands in his pockets, so that no one would notice that his fists were clenched so tightly his knuckles had turned white. He knew Ye Ming was sitting right next to him. This traitor was so close right now…
No, he had to hold back! They were just about to get back. If killing Ye Ming now was a violation of his orders…But if he could kill him and avenge his little brother and those innocent people, he didn’t actually care about anything else…
Brody opened his eyes. Slowly, he turned to look at Ye Ming, who was sitting not far away.
Ye Ming’s eyes were closed. His eyelashes were fine and long. His face was slightly pale, and his short black hair fell across his forehead. Hidden underneath the fair skin of his neck, Brody could faintly see blue blood vessels. It felt as if he could snap his neck with the slightest bit of force.
Gradually, Brody could no longer hide the killing intent in his eyes. Just as he was struggling internally, they finally arrived at their destination. Brody clenched his fists, unbuckled his seatbelt, and strode out. He had to go see Cossen right now!
Base star A001 was the center of the entire Fort Müller. It was a man-made planet—and this enormous man-made planet was an enormous ultimate weapon. When it was not activated, it was their military base, where humanity’s strongest military forces gathered. Any single army division could easily navigate through the universe to fight against alien beasts.
It was precisely Cossen’s iron-blooded troops that obstructed Xicks’s beast army outside of the fortress.
Brody walked into a tall building, passed through identity checks, and entered an elevator that took him directly to the top floor. Finally, he arrived at Cossen’s command room.
Cossen was waiting for him there. When he saw Brody return, he said lowly, “Did you bring Harvey back?”
Brody pursed his lips tightly, his eyes flashing with anger and confusion. He raised his voice, agitatedly exclaiming, “I followed your orders to bring him back, but I have to ask you—why didn’t you order me to capture him?! He deserves to be punished! Plus, you were the one who personally issued the order to kill him back then! Have you forgotten your past pain in just three years?!”
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
Brody had always shown Cossen the utmost respect and regarded him as his god. This was the first time he’d ever questioned Cossen’s decision and impulsively spoken to him like that. When he was done, he stared at Cossen, his eyes red. He didn’t even care if he was going to be punished. If Cossen didn’t give him a satisfactory answer today, he absolutely would not follow this person any longer!
Jbrrfc rajgfv ja Dgbvs olzfvis. Dgbvs’r kbgvr ageis kfgf j yla jmmerjabgs. Gfrqlaf yflcu tlr wbra agerafv reybgvlcjaf, tf kjr defralbclcu tlr wbalnfr pera ilxf atbrf bearlvfgr. Po la kfgf jcsbcf firf, Jbrrfc kbeivc’a fzqijlc, yea ktfc ojmlcu Dgbvs, Jbrrfc tjv ab ulnf tlw tlr jcrkfg. Lf mbeivc’a ifa tlr oglfcv yf vlrjqqblcafv lc tlw.
Cossen’s eyes were somber. Slowly, he said, “I have never forgotten the pain of the past for even a second. My anger and hatred toward him is no less than yours.”
Brody said coldly, “Then why did you tell me to save him?”
Cossen narrowed his eyes slightly. “Do you remember what we found in our past investigation? Harvey probably wasn’t the only traitor. He had an accomplice. Three years ago, he and his accomplice stole the confidential information together and let in Xicks’s army at the most crucial moment. Unfortunately, we only turned up Harvey. We found no clues about the other person from start to finish. He’s still hiding among us.”
Brody calmed down a bit upon hearing this. His expression shifted. After a silence, he said, “Are you thinking…”
Cossen nodded. “Currently, he’s come back with a changed appearance. He’s definitely planning something. Xicks’s orders might be for him to just steal more confidential information, or to try and assassinate me—that’s why he wanted to grab my attention and get close to me again. But that’s not important…because now that he’s exposed his identity, he’s not a threat to us at all. On the contrary, we can use him to ferret out the other traitor.”
“We don’t know exactly how many creatures Xicks sent in, but as a high-level infected and one of Xicks’s important subordinates, he’s bound to know something.”
Brody had been too infuriated just now, and his heart was overcome by hatred. Now, when he thought about it more carefully, what Cossen said did make sense.
Rather than staying out in the open and always being schemed against by Xicks, it would be better to use Harvey to scheme against Xicks…Only, how could it be enough to just let him go like that? He’d already hated him for three full years, constantly thinking about the day he could finally take revenge. And now he had to tolerate him for some time!
There wasn’t a sliver of emotion in Cossen’s dark red eyes. He calmly said, “When we find the other traitor, we can execute him for everyone to see. This is my answer for you. Of course…if you don’t accept my reasons, I can also agree to execute him right away.”
This is what I owe all of you. Only blood can wash away hatred.
Brody looked like he was going through an intense struggle. He really wanted to immediately kill that person, but in the end, he still decided to trust the marshal this once.
Honestly, compared to him, the marshal was probably suffering even more…but in spite of that, he could still take into consideration the bigger picture. Meanwhile, Brody was placing his personal grudges above the bigger picture, which was truly irrational.
Silently, Brody said, I’ll let you keep on living for a little while. You’ll have to pay the price for your actions in the end anyway! His expression finally smoothed over completely, and he said, “I understand. I will cooperate with you.”
Cossen’s expression was grave. He knew just how difficult it was for Brody to say that. Solemnly, he said, “Thank you.”
Ye Ming was settled into the soldiers’ dorms. Though his room wasn’t large, it was in a pretty good environment, and it was a single room. Ye Ming was very satisfied. He leisurely stayed there for a few days before finally being summoned by Cossen.
The orderly brought him to Cossen’s command room. When Ye Ming went in, Cossen was in the middle of official business, with his head lowered. After a while, he looked up and told him, “Take a seat.”
Ye Ming deferentially sat off to the side. He lowered his eyes, not daring to look at Cossen.
All sorts of feelings welled up in his heart upon returning to such a familiar place again. He used to come here all the time. Cossen trusted him completely. But now, he needed to wait for summons even just to enter the door…But actually, it was fortunate that he could come back here. Cossen didn’t know his identity yet, or else he would’ve already ordered him to be put to death…
Cossen looked at the young man in front of him with his head slightly bowed. He was sitting, looking cautious and respectful. Though his appearance was now much more ordinary than it used to be, his skin was still fair and the lines of his face soft.
Ever since he’d confirmed his identity, he could pick up many familiar characteristics about him when he looked at him now. After all, they used to be so intimate. This feeling of familiarity would not disappear with just a change in his external appearance and behavior.
As long as it was the same person, if you paid close enough attention, you would be able to pick up on the familiar traces.
Cossen watched Ye Ming with a darkened gaze. Suddenly, he said, “Brody said you were separated from him while you were out on a mission. In the end, he found you in a shelter. Your luck’s pretty good.”
Ye Ming was a little bit nervous. He pursed his lips, then said, “I just stumbled upon it by chance. I didn’t think there would just so happen to be an abandoned shelter.”
Chance? He was truly a sly, practiced liar.
Cossen’s heart was covered in a layer of frost, but he did not look as if he intended to interrogate him. He nodded easily and asked, “The rules and demands here are much stricter than those of your previous base. Are you feeling acclimatized to it?”
Ye Ming said, “It’s a little difficult, but I’ll work hard.”
“Very good,” Cossen said.
Ye Ming felt very on guard. He didn’t know why Cossen would bring him here to personally ask him about this stuff. Could he have already discovered his identity? But in that case, how could he be so calm and indifferent?
His thoughts were a chaotic mess. Just then, he saw Cossen stand up and tell him, “Come with me.”
Ye Ming immediately stood and followed Cossen out.
Cossen brought him onto a hover car. He was silent the whole trip, without any intention of explaining anything to him. His expression was cold.
And Ye Ming didn’t dare ask. He just carefully sat to the side.
Soon, the hover car stopped in front of an enormous gray-black building. Cossen got off the car. He tilted his head back to look up at the entrance, his expression solemn and serious. After straightening his uniform, which was already neat and meticulous, he finally stepped inside.
Ye Ming was overcome by the heavy atmosphere, and he looked a little nervous. When he walked inside and saw clearly the look of this place, his expression shifted.
It turned out that this was a huge hall. Inside were countless nameplates. These nameplates floated in the air, illuminating the huge, black vault. They were like the numerous stars in the endless universe, splendid and magnificent…but there was also an ineffable, stifling heaviness.
Slowly, Cossen walked over. He lifted his chin and gazed up at the sky. Quietly, he said, “This is the Hall of the Heroic Spirits.”
Ye Ming knew Cossen was giving him an explanation and did not expect a response, so he kept silent. And from the moment he’d stepped foot inside of here, it’d felt like there was a huge boulder pressing down on his chest. It was hard for him to breathe, and he couldn’t speak.
Slowly, uncontrollable anguish appeared in Cossen’s eyes. He rasped, “These are all people who died for humanity, who lost their lives in battle against alien beasts. Most of their bodies have never been found, left to drift across the universe for eternity…but we won’t forget them and the blood they spilled. So after retreating to Fort Müller, I instructed people to build this place so that people will always remember their sacrifice.”
Calmly, Cossen said, “When I die, they will put my nameplate here as well, and then others will take my place to continue the fight.”
Ye Ming’s eyes stung a little. Even though Cossen spoke very calmly, Ye Ming didn’t know why he felt sadness in his heart, as if this tragedy had happened to himself…And he also felt a slight jealousy—jealousy that there was some place for these people’s souls to return home to, even after they died. They would not be forgotten.
Whereas even if he died, he would only be spurned and hated.
Cossen turned and gazed at the brightest golden nameplate at the top of the vault. He looked reminiscent as he whispered, “That’s His Highness Saen’s.”
Ye Ming knew of Prince Saen. His name was well-known throughout the human world. Everyone knew his story.
Cossen’s expression was sorrowful. He said, “In truth, he originally could have escaped. But in order to keep the military’s morale up and allow the people and main troops to evacuate, in order to buy them time…he personally led troops to cover their retreat and fought Xicks until the very end. He paid for it with his own life.”
“He was my close friend, and a warrior I greatly admired…At the time, I’d wanted to go help him, but I got there too late. Even his body was never recovered…”
Ye Ming was so sad he couldn’t speak.
Cossen walked a few more steps and looked toward a few floating golden nameplates next to him. He said, “This is General Liner’s. He was my elder and my teacher, but that day Fort Laris was destroyed, he sacrificed himself alongside His Highness Saen…”
Cossen seemed to be caught up in a painful memory. Slowly, he forced himself to keep walking. It was as if he were walking through a star-filled sky. He recounted the stories of each and every nameplate to Ye Ming. He knew most of the people here. Even if he wasn’t close to them, he could still say a few words about them.
Finally, he walked to a rather far off corner. He reached out a hand and grabbed an unremarkable nameplate. He said, “This is Brody’s little brother. He died the day Fort Frederick was destroyed. At the time, Brody and I were fighting together, and in the chaos, we didn’t have the chance to look for him. We could only leave him in the darkness along with Fort Frederick…Brody has always blamed himself and felt terrible because of it…”
Ye Ming remembered that child, Brom. Although he was a soldier too, he’d never fought on the front lines. He’d always exclaimed that one day he would go kill the monsters with his big brother…This was someone he knew well, and at this moment, he could vividly feel Cossen’s helplessness.
And every one of those people whose names Cossen had just read aloud were all just as important to him as Brom—maybe even more so.
He had already lost too much.
Cossen let go. Quietly, he listed off each of the nameplates next to him. “This is Hall, Anderson, Irin, Rika, Liliana…Not only were they my companions, they were also Harvey’s former comrades and friends. They were very important to me, but they were nothing to that traitor.”
When he said that last line, his voice was extremely cold.
Ye Ming looked at those familiar nameplates. He knew many people had died in that battle, but seeing their names appear before his own eyes…he thought about the way each of them used to be so lively, and about how now they had disappeared, just like that. A fierce pain seemed to be tearing his heart into pieces. Tears would not stop streaming down his face.
It’s not like that. They were actually very important to me, too…
When Cossen turned around, he saw Ye Ming’s teary appearance, and in that split second, the hatred in his heart began to grow wildly.
Wasn’t it you who killed them? If it weren’t for you, none of this would’ve happened, and they wouldn’t have died! You betrayed us, and yet you can still pretend to be sad as if none of that happened.
I once vowed to Saen’s spirit in heaven that I would not allow a repeat of the tragedy of Fort Laris, but I was unable to keep my promise.
I should have killed you in the beginning.
Ye Ming looked into Cossen’s dark red eyes. The pain within them was like dried up blood. He knew that Cossen must deeply hate him right now. He must want to eat his flesh. He must really regret the trust he’d once placed in him.
But…he still wanted to say something he shouldn’t say.
Ye Ming eyes were sad as he said quietly, “Do you think it’s possible that Harvey didn’t betray you? Maybe someone else betrayed you…”
Cossen’s expression immediately became colder, as if frosted over with ten thousand-year-old ice.
This is the excuse you’re using to attempt to clear your name? Using absurd words to cover up your mistakes?
Cossen tightly clenched his hands behind his back in order to restrain his urge to angrily interrogate him. He parted his lips slightly, his voice cold. “Are you speaking up for an infected, for a traitor?”
Ye Ming was very sad. He couldn’t escape from the fact that he was an infected, but this was not something he’d chosen. Softly, he said, “Sorry…I wasn’t trying to speak up for an infected, I was just…”
He suddenly thought of something. Apprehensively, he said, “I just think that since Xicks creates them by fusing humans with alien beasts, it means they were once human too. Maybe they’re people we know well, and maybe they possess a part of them that can be considered human…So could it be that some of them can break free from Xicks’s control? Maybe not every single infected would betray humanity…I just think this is a possibility is all.”
Cossen stared at Ye Ming coldly. After a long moment, he suddenly said, “We considered it before. At first, we didn’t order every last one of them to be killed, even though the infected have caused us terrible tragedies.”
“This was a very difficult and serious decision. Even if their intrinsic nature was no longer human, they still looked…exactly like us. Maybe they were the people around us who we knew—family, lovers, friends…When the problem of the infected first arose, there were always people who couldn’t bring themselves to kill them, who didn’t want to accept it.”
Cossen paused, then continued, “So we captured them. We had the best researchers search for a way to cure them, but it was useless. They were completely under Xicks’s control. Once they were caught, they either tried to kill themselves or kill others. Every last one of them was very dangerous…Even though we repeatedly warned everybody to be cautious around these dangerous infected people, accidents still happened.”
“They found out that the son of one of the officers responsible for guarding the research institute was an infected. Strictly speaking, we couldn’t be sure whether or not that was his son. After all, Xicks can change their appearances and implant new memories into them. They’re only tools it created…but in that officer’s eyes, that was his son, because it had his son’s appearance, voice, eyes, memories…That infected took advantage of him. It kept pleading with him, deceiving him, tricking him. In the end, the officer’s heart softened and he secretly set it free. He went against his conscience and his duties just because he wanted his ‘son’ to be able to live.”
Somewhat nervously, Ye Ming asked, “And then?”
Cossen smiled. His tone was apathetic and his expression self-deprecating. “His ‘son’ didn’t want to escape at all. It just bit his throat while the officer looked back at it in disbelief. It killed him, then scooped out his eyeballs, broke off his fingers, and used its father’s eyes and fingers to open every door at the research institute, letting out all of the infected. The sudden revolt resulted in a bloodbath. Those crazy infected knew they couldn’t escape, so they started killing all the humans. They didn’t want to escape—they just wanted to destroy.”
Ye Ming’s face was pale. His lips trembled faintly.
Cossen looked displeased. His voice was low and deep, and it was tinged with bitter determination. “We have paid a terrible price for every decision we’ve made. An infected is an infected. They’re nothing more than beasts wearing human skin. No matter how much they pretend to be human, their intrinsic nature will never be human, because they don’t have souls. They’re just pawns controlled by Xicks.”
“If I agree to leave them alive and allow people to be softhearted and to waver, it will only lead to more tragedies…Then, our faith will falter, and we will crumble from the inside. To leave them is just to fulfill Xicks’s wishes…So every infected must die! They’re beyond redemption! They are not our loved ones, and they are not our friends. They’re just monsters.”
After that, Cossen fell silent. What he didn’t say was:
So what if there may be one exception among tens of thousands? It still wasn’t worth it to gamble the future of the entire human race and risk sacrificing countless lives just to place hope in an alien beast’s conscience.
Moreover, didn’t you betray me, too? There were never any exceptions.
War is just cruel like that.
Ye Ming understood what Cossen was trying to say. But although he understood it, it was still hard to suppress his sadness.
What lay between them was not just a single misunderstanding, but an impassable gulf.
Cossen looked straight into Ye Ming’s eyes. His gaze was as murky as the sea. Word by word, he said, “This is the rule I came up with. Naturally, I must carry it out myself. If, one day, I found out that my lover or my family were an infected—”
“I will kill them myself.”