Translator: Lucia Rose
Editor: Nine Knights
“Huh? This perverted and inoperable system was designed by you? Please readjust the systems and solve the time lag. I can’t hit the target when I shoot.” Livy’s face held a look of infinite disgust as he spoke.
Maurice glanced over at Claude, who only remained standing by the sidelines, “Is this why you called me over from the Gaze?”
“Yes,” Claude nodded, “Care to join me for a drink?”
“Sure.” Maurice swung his arm over Claude’s shoulder, and the two walked out like that whilst ignoring everything else around them; it was as though they were the only people in the world.
The pair eventually halted their seemingly aimless walk when they arrived at a tavern. As soon as the two had settled inside and sat down at the bar counter, they placed an order for a couple of oversized beers.
After loosening his collar, Claude drank his beer in one go. Following suit, Maurice also finished his drink.
“Ahh — that hit the spot! You certainly won’t find this kind of beer at the space station! I’ve missed it!” Maurice then signaled for the bartender to get them two refills before he began talking again, “Anyway, the Pure-Hued Lady’s system is pretty much perfect. That’s what you and I made sure of. But now, you want me to modify this system because of what again?”
Claude clinked his glass with the other man’s and replied nonchalantly, “Because of Livy Van Perle.”
Maurice blew a low whistle and eyed Claude with interest. After surmising that the younger gentleman was serious, he said, “It sounds like that young man has you wrapped around his little finger. Everything you do revolves around him. Based on your personality, if you had encountered the same problem earlier, I know you definitely would have said it was because the pilot wasn’t capable of flying the fighter, not because there was a problem with the fighter’s systems.”
“There is no problem with the fighter’s systems. But, it is also true that I never imagined Livy would be able to fly so freely inside the Pure-Hued Lady’s simulation system. However, the shooting system and the piloting system are unable to work together… that’s why…”
“You’re accommodating him, Claude,” Maurice wagged his finger in front of his companion, as if bluntly telling him a spade was a spade. He then added, “What you want now is for the Pure-Hued Lady to adapt to Livy, not for Livy to adapt to the Pure-Hued Lady.”
“You and I both want the Pure-Hued Lady to be able to go out into battle and not act like a display item in a gallery.”
“Do you really want the Pure-Hued Lady to be able to go out into battle?” Maurice countered as he propped his head up with both of his hands and observed Claude’s expression with a sideways glance, “Then, you must know that once that happens, Livy would fly to a place beyond your control. There, you’d have no way of ensuring his absolute safety like you do now; you wouldn’t even be able to catch him if you reached out — you’d have no way of protecting him.”
“He’s a fighter pilot, and his mission is to fight, not to be protected by me.” Claude then lowered his head and took a sip from his second glass of beer.
“Alright, but I hope you won’t get too distraught when you are standing in front of the control room’s screen and watching him weave through a rain of missiles.” The expression on Maurice’s face was akin to that of a spectator watching a good play.
Claude frowned slightly, and for a long time, he sported a contemplative look before speaking, “Is it that obvious?”
“What do you mean by ‘obvious’?” Maurice asked mischievously.
All signs of amusement had vanished from Claude’s face before he answered, “You know what I’m talking about.”
“Well, I don’t know whether it’s obvious or not. What is obvious, however, is that your dear Livy still can’t seem to see what you’re thinking.” Maurice thought for a moment, then asked solemnly, “But, I must ask, you couldn’t have been thinking of doing this thing… and that thing… to Livy everyday… right?”
Claude once again clinked his glass with Maurice’s; his expression was easygoing and relaxed as he said, “If you do not find a way to make the shooting system adapt to Livy, I promise that I will do ‘this’ and then ‘that’ to you.”
“But, I already know you very well, and no matter how I look at it, you’ve got to be a ‘top’. Unfortunately, I can’t be a ‘bottom’.” Maurice swirled the liquid in his mug triumphantly.
Claude thereafter got up and spoke one word; “bill”, and the voice recognition system connected directly with his account.
“Aren’t you going to pay for mine, too?” Maurice looked disgruntled as Claude prepared to leave.
“The day you finish fixing up that system is the day I’ll pay for you. With that said, I wish the rest of your day to be pleasant, and I pray that you don’t die here of drunkenness2I might have translated this a bit literally, but the original Chinese was 醉死 (zuì sǐ), which is actually a shortened version of 醉生梦死 (zuì shēng mèng sǐ). 醉生 (zuì shēng) means “intoxication”, 梦 (mèng) means “dream“, and 死 (sǐ) means “to die”. Basically, it’s an idiom that describes a person who has fallen into a drunken stupor, but it can also be used more figuratively to describe a person who leads a befuddled existence. As an aside, we have learned that Claude is a petty man..”
During the next day’s training, Miller and Claude were observing Livy’s shooting form in front of the monitor, while Maurice had arrived late.
“Is it your specialty to be late, Lieutenant Colonel?” Claude asked lightly without even looking up from his work.
Maurice walked over and squinted at the numbers on the holographic screen and spat out, “What I’m more concerned about are the results, not the process. Only the data from the results will tell me what I need to improve on.”
Two minutes later, Livy’s morning training was over, and he walked out looking half-asleep.
Maurice turtled up and squeezed into Miller’s spot as he began to scrutinize the data.
“Maybe you’re right, Claude,” he said.
Suddenly the research room was filled with the sounds of Maurice tapping on the keyboard at a high speed while key data poured out, “The only way we can understand whether the Pure-Hued Lady is really perfect or not is if there is someone who can actually operate the Pure-Hued Lady. Livy Van Perle is a genius; his senses are excessively sharp, so even a time difference of a thousandth of a second has a fatal effect on the accuracy of his shooting.”
“I’ll stay and help you.” Miller’s normally calm eyes were suddenly full of excitement at the thought of being able to work with his admired predecessor.
While this was happening, Livy, who was at the lounge, propped his chin onto his hand and absentmindedly picked at the food on his plate with his fork.
Just then, Claude sat down next to him and mirrored his movements. He, too, propped his chin up on his palm and asked, “Is there something on your mind?”
“I’m thinking about when you’re going to kiss me again.” Livy’s right hand set down his fork; his head slowly leaned towards Claude. Thereafter slightly tired eyes drooped a little, and his gaze was both endearingly mischievous and foolishly provocative. His face was turned subtly sideways, and underneath the cold light, it held a dangerous and ambiguous beauty.
On the other hand, Claude remained in his position and seemed unmoved, “Such a test would be very meaningless; if I really kissed you, you would be like a snail — obviously crawling very slowly but retreating back into its shell at a surprisingly quick speed.”
Livy continued to fiddle with the salad on his plate while grinning, “You’re no fun.”
“Actually, you’re just bitter about the reason why you can’t shoot as freely in the Pure-Hued Lady as you could in the Blue Crisis.” Claude then slowly stretched out his hand and held onto Livy’s chin with his index finger and made the young man look at him.
Unlike Claude who reveled in locking eyes with Livy, the latter hated doing that the most. With a frown, Livy was about to remove the other person’s hand; however, he had just lifted his wrist when it was caught by the former.
Claude gripped him tightly and said in a calm and hushed tone, “Trust me, you will be able to hit your target even if you are flying at an unprecedented speed.” His lips opened and closed as if he was breathing out a magic spell that could enchant people without reason.
After stunning Livy into silence, Claude casually got up and left.
After being stuck in the same position for some time, Livy finally regained his bearings and covered his eyes with his palms before letting out a laugh, “Why should I believe you?”
Another boring day of training began, and after countless tries, Livy was already numb to his inability to hit any of the targets. However, when he entered the research lab that day, he discovered that the atmosphere somehow felt rather nostalgic; it was as if he had turned back time and arrived back to his first day at Zone Z.
He glanced around the premises and spotted Miller sitting in front of the computer.
The man’s posture was straight, and he looked like he was preparing for war; at least the data was his battlefield. While Maurice, who stood near him, appeared unexpectedly tired; and both his eyes resembled that of a panda’s dark circles. It seemed like he had not slept all night.
When Livy walked past him, he deliberately pinched his nose with his index finger and thumb and uttered in disgust, “Don’t say anything; I’m afraid of being smothered by your bad breath.”
“Really?” Maurice deliberately and exaggeratedly blew his breath towards Livy, “If you still can’t hit the target today, I’ll really lock you up in the cockpit, but instead of filling it up with oxygen, I’ll fill it with poisoned gas.”
Livy lifted the corners of his lips, “Good, then let me see if you — the system expert — are really that powerful.”
It was apparent that on that day, Livy felt unrestrained.
Miller, who was watching from the screen, couldn’t even blink his eyes, “Now, it’s as if the Pure-Hued Lady has really become Livy’s toy….”
The hit rate of Livy’s ordinary missiles had climbed to sixty-two percent while the hit rate of his greatest weakness — the parabolic missiles — had surprisingly increased to twenty-one percent.
Maurice stroked his chin in triumph and muttered, “This guy is ready for battle.”
“While I admit that such a result is good enough that it has even surprised me, real battles are different. Livy still needs…”
But, before Miller could finish his statement, Maurice interrupted him, “What else do you need? Real experience can only be gained when he flies away from this base in the Pure-Hued Lady. For him to grow, you cannot keep him here forever, Miller. There is always a price that needs to be paid.” As he spoke those words, there was no hint of a smile on Maurice’s face; his gaze was as sullen and cold as the tone of his voice.
Claude, for his part, was also silent; while in his headset Livy’s voice rang, “God — it’s so good…”
That night, Livy and several officers of the air force were partying together at the pub.
As the night progressed, Livy was spotted with a blonde-haired girl. The two of them were swaying wildly to the music on the dance floor. Occasionally, they grinded their bodies together in a vigorous dance that drew whistles from the crowd.
The music was extremely loud; EDM genre, after all, is known to stretch one’s nerves taut while the pounding beat of the bass also drums against one’s heart.
Livy and the girl in his arms were becoming more and more intimate when suddenly, he spotted a slender figure standing a few feet away from him. The solitary figure appeared as though he was frozen in time. He was on the balcony overlooking the pub.
Like a god, he gazed down upon the festivities that were occurring beneath him. That figure clearly saw everything, yet, despite this, it was as if nothing caught his eyes at all.
Livy pretended not to see him; after all, it was his off-duty hours, and he didn’t want to get involved with the other party more than what was necessary, especially during this time.
Livy and the girl started to kiss passionately.
As they were lost in their own world, their intimate embrace deepened until the two were locked in mutually passionate caresses. While engrossed in each other’s taste and scent, Livy’s mind slowly drifted off. Still, regardless of his current preoccupation, Livy couldn’t help but look back at the place where the man was standing. When the party lights swept across the second floor, he noticed that the man’s face contained a thoughtful smile.
Seeing this, Livy found himself slowly pulling away and releasing the woman who was wrapped in his arms.
He then shoved both hands into his pockets and walked up to the second floor. Upon reaching the upper level, he then proceeded to stand face to face with the man who had been bothering him all evening. He greeted him with a hint of annoyance in his tone, “I say, Major General, this place is not suitable for you.”
Nodding slightly at his remark, Claude responded as he continued to look at the swaying crowd on the dance floor, “Then, what kind of place suits me?”
Livy cast him a quick look over.
The major general was wearing a plaid shirt and casual jeans which only made his legs appear even longer. Without any superfluous expressions or movements, he had already charmed many of the women there, Livy was aware, by simply breathing.
It was just that his naturally regal air contrasted far too greatly with the noisy pub’s ambiance. He looked guarded and out of place; it was this sophisticated air of untouched brilliance which discouraged interested people from approaching him. How could they dare intrude upon his personal space when he looked almost revered despite his casual appearance?
“Hmm… research labs, high-class restaurants, classical concerts with ancient, outdated music like Schubert, Beethoven or something along those lines…” Livy suggested as he leaned in to whisper into Claude’s ear. He was forced to stand closer to his superior officer because the music was so loud and boisterous.
“This place is not suitable for you, either.” Claude turned his face; and the simple movement caused his lips to inadvertently graze over the tip of Livy’s nose, and the illusion of a breath seemed to brush across the seam of Livy’s lips.
Livy absentmindedly raised his eyebrows at the slight pressure. Despite this, he did not dodge, not even in the slightest.
E/N: Since this is the last chapter I have edited for this series, I would like to extend my thanks to Lucia.
She truly does not need an editor with how brilliant she is with translating. I keep telling her this, but I feel I need to repeat it once more. This series wasn’t my cup of tea, and I have been struggling to edit it because of Claude’s character. However, she has made editing this story easy because of how well she translates, and most importantly, it was fun because of her friendship.
I would also like to thank the readers who have patiently stuck with us all this time. Thank you for reading this story; though our time together was short, this story was filled with a lot of love and hard work from both Lucia and I. May everyone remain in good health, and if you like this story, please support the original author. Once again, this has been Nine, and thank you so much; goodbye!
T/N: Because this is our last chapter together, I, too, would like to express my thanks to Nine.
The way she writes…. is so beautiful that it brings tears to my eyes. ( •́ω•̩̥̀ ) Even if she compliments me, I feel the brilliant one is actually her, and while I’m sad this series didn’t suit her taste, her choice to edit it regardless touches my heart. She is such a sweet and lovely person: a precious gem. I had so much fun collaborating with her, and above all, I feel so blessed to have met her.
To the readers who have stayed with us this all this time, thank you so much for supporting this series. May everyone enjoy good health and happiness, and if you like this story, please support the original author (Jiāo Táng Dōng Guā) on JJWXC. Lastly, if you wish to support me, feel free to buy me a coffee at ko-fi.com/luciarose. (ෆ˙ᵕ˙ෆ)♡ Thank you so much again; see you next chapter! ☺
- 2I might have translated this a bit literally, but the original Chinese was 醉死 (zuì sǐ), which is actually a shortened version of 醉生梦死 (zuì shēng mèng sǐ). 醉生 (zuì shēng) means “intoxication”, 梦 (mèng) means “dream“, and 死 (sǐ) means “to die”. Basically, it’s an idiom that describes a person who has fallen into a drunken stupor, but it can also be used more figuratively to describe a person who leads a befuddled existence. As an aside, we have learned that Claude is a petty man.