Translator: Lucia Rose
What greeted him was a sight he was unable to remove his gaze from.
Though Claude was clothed in a military uniform symbolic of abstinence and discipline, the nonchalance with which he carried himself contradicted his ascetic attire, and the spontaneity and artlessness of his gestures were reminiscent of dust scattering away in the roaming wind.
There were only so many ways to drink a can of beer; of this Livy was aware, but watching as the liquid flowed freely down Claude’s throat and his eyes half-lidded in lazy concentration stirred in him an emotion which he could not describe.
But he must have been staring for too long.
“In this short minute, you’ve already made three mistakes.” Claude set aside his emptied beer can. His long and sinuous fingers rapidly typed in a few lines of code. The computer homed in on the displayed data.
“What three mistakes?” Smirking, Livy clasped his arms, as if ready to listen to a snide joke.
“First and foremost, supposing you don’t love me, you shouldn’t have come in here to share your success with me.” Claude got up and walked unhurriedly toward Livy.
“Secondly, supposing you don’t love me, you shouldn’t have looked back again.” Claude stopped in front of Livy; his gaze deep and intense.
“Lastly, supposing you don’t love me, you shouldn’t have continued to stare at me.” Claude leaned his body forward, and his movements, graceful as ever, deliberately mimicked those of a lover about to steal a kiss.
“Not only is your love absurd, but your narcissism knows no bounds.” Livy turned around nonchalantly, “Remember our past promise; don’t you dare kiss me, and don’t you dare commit any type of sexual harassment towards me.”
“And I remember my reply: ‘I’ll try’.”1[Lucia]: Touché. You sly fox.
Livy snorted coldly and walked out of the control room. At the same time, he grabbed a can of beer and downed it like a shot.
Because of Livy’s outstanding performance, Zone Z specially gave him a week-long furlough, that is, provided the alien invaders didn’t come and stir up trouble within this period.
“Oh, Lilith——today I can finally have a vacation. Guess how I’m going to use it?”
“To hunt for chicks.” Lilith’s answer was merciless.
“…You’re kidding, right.” Livy had changed into a casual T-shirt and a pair of slightly loose, comfortable jogging pants. His whole person radiated with health and vigor.
“‘Hunt for chicks’, who taught you this phrase?”
“Major General Sien did. He said that, other than guzzling beer and eating fried squid, Master’s main hobby in life was hunting for chicks.”
Livy was dumbfounded.
After two seconds, however, he clutched his stomach and roared with laughter, “Yes, yes, only he can make such a penetrating analysis of me! Well, it’s all fine and dandy so long as he doesn’t show up again when I go ‘hunting for chicks’.”
Though Livy planned to drink beer, ‘hunting for chicks’ was not on the present agenda, because Second Lieutenant Chrisley, his fighter jet engineer, was celebrating his birthday today.
He had invited a group of friends and colleagues to drink to their heart’s content at the pub, and Livy was included, too. Not to mention, this fellow Chrisley even threatened to empty the Pure-Hued Lady’s oxygen reserves if he dared not show up. With his life on the line, how could our intrepid pilot not go?
Since the entire bar had been reserved for this occasion, it would be quite difficult to find a beauty.
Amongst a sea of men, what shenanigans could Livy get up to?
The moment Livy walked into the bar, he shared a secret handshake with everybody.
“Eh?! Chrisley, aren’t you getting too much ‘face’?! Even Livy came to celebrate your big day!”
Chrisley was a bold and uninhibited fellow. Seeing Livy arrive, he unashamedly smashed a sizable glass of beer in front of his face, “Today’s my birthday, so I have the final say. Drink up; otherwise, there’ll be no calamari for you!”
What was the point in coming to the bar if there was no calamari?
Beer and calamari were inseparable; if he was drinking beer, then he must have a side of calamari. Such was Livy’s personal routine which was already known intimately by everybody.
“Okay, okay; may you enjoy longevity!” Livy graciously accepted the glass of beer and, under the applause of everyone at the bar, chugged it all down.
Within minutes, the entire ensemble was making merry and chatting freely and enthusiastically.
The purpose of the beer was just to liven things up. However, because nothing but beer and men abounded, Livy was beginning to feel bored to tears…. until he realized Chrisley had, in fact, been rather generous in regards to the capital investment of his own birthday.
A couple of bikini-clad young women stepped onto the stage and performed a sexy and charming pole dance. The sight excited the men at the scene terribly; their noses gushed out blood like a waterfall.
Stroking his chin like a wise sage, Chrisley said: “See here, it may be my birthday, but even I understand… a party cannot be considered a party if there are no women.”
Of course, the scene on the stage was also very much to Livy’s taste. Along with the rhythm of the song, his fingers tapped against the bar counter; in his heart, he was already calculating how to get one of the dancers to roll in the sheets with him.
No one was aware that, at this time, the bar had gained a new guest.
Quietly walking over to Chrisley’s table, said guest set down a gift box on the polished surface, “Happy Birthday.”
His voice was crisp and cold, like wind chimes swinging in a gentle breeze. If one wasn’t careful, such a sound might penetrate one’s heart.
No one could refrain from looking at the new guest in front of their eyes.
Semi-long platinum blond hair hung obediently by the sides of his ears like a quiet stream. All eyes were frozen upon his exquisite face, until Chrisley opened his mouth: “Hey——Leslie! I was starting to think you and my wife were chatting a little too happily together, so you didn’t want to come over anymore!”
Leslie paused slightly, “Your wife asked me to give this gift to you.”
“Haha, did you notice how everyone was staring at you; who asked you to look so similar to Vivian Lucrécy!” Chrisley’s arm rested casually on Leslie’s shoulder. “Friends, allow me to introduce you to my middle school classmate, Leslie Lucrécy. No need to doubt; he is indeed the only son of Vivian Lucrécy, the sweetheart of the silver screen. But even though he looks a lot like his mother, let me give you a word of advice: Don’t stare at him too much, or he’ll flip out.”
Everyone guffawed before showing their amiability to Leslie, who, in return, lifted his beer in acknowledgement and took a big gulp; the smile on his face looked very mature yet nevertheless bewitching. He walked over to a rather secluded corner and sat down, but time and again, everyone’s eyes still swept over to his location.
Livy didn’t deny that he was easily seduced by beautiful things, e.g., the ocean, the Pure-Hued Lady… and Leslie Lucrécy.
“Your flight technique is amazing.” Carrying his glass, Livy made his way over to Leslie’s table and sat down next to him. To a person like Leslie, who disliked being blatantly stared at by others, it was not a compliment for his outer appearance to be more recognized than his skills. This fact, Livy was able to discern at a glance.
“You identified who I was just by listening to my voice?” Surprisingly, Leslie did not reveal an estranged expression but gave a humoring smile, and the glass that was in Livy’s hand trembled slightly.
“Nonsense. Your voice is just so distinctive.” Livy mimicked the other party’s smile, and his eyes, which never left the other party, held a somewhat teasing implication.
“So, you recognized my voice, but you didn’t recognize who I am? Little slug?” Leslie’s smile grew wider, like a gust of wind that came through with a whoosh2This was originally a Chinese onomatopoeia for wind: 唰啦啦 (shuā lā lā). and swept away the dust of time.
“Huh?” Livy gaped. Little slug?
His heart fell. Squinting, Livy stared hard at the other party, and then leaned back against his chair in disbelief, “Oh, im…impossible……you…couldn’t possibly be Lacey? Lacey clearly was a……”
“A what?” Leslie raised his chin, hinting at Livy to continue.
“A girl!” Livy’s eyeballs were about to bug out, “Wait, are you actually Lacey’s older brother or younger bro or something like that? No wonder you two look so similar! And it comes as no surprise now why you know that Lacey used to call…call me……” This nickname Livy would sooner die than speak out with his own mouth.
“Lacey originally was a pet name for Leslie, and I told you many times when we were little that I was a boy and asked you to stop following me.”
“You’re pulling my leg! One of my elementary school classmates must have told you about my secret love for Lacey, so you purposely created this story to make a fool out of me!” Livy’s cry drew the attention of the entire bar.
This couldn’t be true! How could it be true! Lacey’s thick and curled lashes, pretty and fragile nose… how could they not belong to a girl?!
That girl was the most beautiful dream of his childhood! Even now, he would subconsciously pay more attention to beauties who were fair-skinned and flaxen-haired!
“I’m not pulling your leg.” Leslie lifted his chin arrogantly, “Would you like for me to recite the love letters you wrote for me in your childhood?”
“What? Even if you were capable of reciting them, it could have been because you peeked at the letters I wrote to Lacey!” Livy’s face was ablaze, and he slammed both of his palms on the table.
Leslie smirked and pushed away the bangs covering his forehead, “Look at me closely; I don’t think I’ve changed much from when I was a kid.”
Indeed. Every detail of his face, from the shape of his eyes to the bridge of his nose, was basically a replica of that when he was a child.
Like a bolt from the blue, Livy sprung up, “I have no interest in staying longer.”
“Goodbye, little slug.” Leslie stretched out his arm and clinked his beer glass against Livy’s, before drinking from it leisurely and contentedly.
Livy left with an icy face, and even when Chrisley asked him why he was leaving, he didn’t respond.
Walking outside the bar, Livy suddenly sped up, as if he was running for his life… all the way back to his dorm room.
“Little slug? What right does he have to call me little slug? Huh?” Walking into the living room, Livy kicked at every article of furniture. The sofa and chairs all suffered from his wrath, but when his toe hit the table, the pain caused him to fall down to the ground, clutching his feet and crying out wordlessly.3[Lucia]: Honey, what made you think you could win against a table? (≧▽≦)
“Master, what’s wrong?” Lilith’s voice rose up.
But Livy only waved his hand and didn’t say anything.
At this time, Claude and the other researchers were adjusting the Pure-Hued Lady’s functions. Entering the room, Maurice observed the group of people who were wholly focused on their work and commented, “Hey, Claude, there’s something I’m mighty curious about.”
“What.” Claude didn’t lift his head.
“About Leslie Lucrécy. You saw his performance transporting X-11. Despite the fact that his entire escort fleet was wiped out, he was still able to arrive at K11 intact and without a scratch. As for his flight skills, is there even a need to dispute their excellence? I’m just curious. Why hasn’t Leslie ever come to our Zone Z to receive training for the Pure-Hued Lady?”
“Before coming to K11, Livy wasn’t on our list of names, either,” Claude’s reply was calm.
“There’s no way he and Livy are the same. In the Air Force Academy, Livy’s scores were clearly trash, but Leslie graduated at the top of his class.”
“If Livy had heard your assessment of him, he would have caused a ruckus.” Claude smiled dryly.
“I just want to know why. Who knows; with Leslie, the Pure-Hued Lady could have flown into the sky a long time ago, and we wouldn’t have had to waste two years waiting for Livy.”
“Maurice,” Claude’s tone chilled. “First of all, let me answer your question. While Leslie Lucrécy’s name was originally on the list of participants, someone with a much higher rank than either you or I took him off of it.”
“The second and most important point is that I have never once regretted choosing Livy as the pilot of the Pure-Hued Lady. If time were to repeat itself and I had to decide again, my choice for the Pure-Hued Lady would still be the same, and that is Livy Van Perle.”
“Someone took his name off? You’re already a major general. If it’s a person that you chose, who on earth would be able to take their name off?”
“Then you will have to ask Leslie himself.” Claude turned his attention back to the Pure-Hued Lady.
At this moment, Livy was steeped in depression. He knew that Leslie’s intention hadn’t been to mess with him……though Leslie’s repeatedly calling him ‘little slug’ did seem to have the intention of attempting to undermine him.
Then, Livy clutched his stomach and laughed. In fact, it was no big deal; it was only that the beautiful dream he had firmly believed in as a child had been shattered.
“Lilith, check Captain Leslie Lucrécy’s phone number for me.” Livy never fussed over the little matters of the past.
Soon, Lilith connected him to Leslie’s dormitory phone.
“Hey, I say, Your Royal Highness, how are the officers’ quarters assigned to you in K11?” Livy was smiling from the corners of his eyes.
“You’ve come back to life, slug.” Leslie snorted, half sarcastically, “Just like a cockroach that couldn’t be beaten to death when you were a kid.”
T/N: I’ll be sure to footnote this in more detail in the next chapter, but ‘slug’ (鼻涕虫) in Chinese can be literally translated as ‘mucus bug’ in English. I have a feeling Livy was a child that possessed a frequent runny nose. (●’◡’●)
- 1[Lucia]: Touché. You sly fox.
- 2This was originally a Chinese onomatopoeia for wind: 唰啦啦 (shuā lā lā).
- 3[Lucia]: Honey, what made you think you could win against a table? (≧▽≦)