In the early morning, Luo Lan waited outside for the car An Da sent to pick her up. When Chen Sha walked out, his vehicle had just pulled up in front of Luo Lan.
“Good morning.” Luo Lan immediately shifted to the side to let him pass, a smile on her face.
Chen Sha ignored her and without a word, boarded the vehicle and promptly sped off.
Luo Lan comforted herself by reasoning that this sort of patient with an acute case of “emotionally stunted; symptoms: facial muscles frozen stiff” was rare to come by.
Half an hour later, Luo Lan had arrived at Alikarta’s biological research center. Feng Lin was already waiting by the entrance.
Luo Lan was both confused and flattered. “Why are you waiting out here? Didn’t we agree that after I arrived, I would contact you?”
“I was so worried that you would regret your decision that I couldn’t work, so I came out to get some fresh air.” Feng Lin candidly replied.
If she’d been the true princess, she’d undoubtedly be extremely reluctant to be a test subject, trying to avoid experimentation with all sorts of excuses. However, she was a fake, and had no such qualms.
Luo Lan smiled. “You worry too much—the person who should worry is me.”
Feng Lin took Luo Lan’s arm and said as they walked, “Don’t be nervous. We’ll only be testing your genes today—think of it as a regular trip to the doctor’s. If you feel comfortable enough to continue, we can also test your physical ability.”
Luo Lan pondered this for a moment. “I think I feel able enough to also take the physical ability test.” If she were being honest, she truly didn’t have any idea about her physical ability level, and merely wanted to understand her body’s capabilities better.
Feng Lin brought Luo Lan to a large room. She gave some instructions to the employees before she changed her clothes and began the examination.
They first tested Luo Lan’s vision and hearing before Feng Lin extracted a bit of blood. Before, however, she specifically clarified, “Aside from a holistic physical examination, the laboratory will also use this blood to perform a genetic analysis.”
Luo Lan openly said, “No problem.”
After the extraction, Luo Lan lay down in a machine that scanned her entire body.
“Done.” The employee opened the machine and let Luo Lan out.
“That’s all?” Luo Lan asked in surprise. She’d expected a much longer time given how many tests they wanted to run.
“That’s all.” Feng Lin smiled. “I told you there was no need to be nervous.”
The test results were available after ten minutes. The system said to Luo Lan: “Congratulations! Your body is very healthy, please continue to keep it up!”
Feng Lin accompanied Luo Lan as they left the testing facility. “Rest for a bit, and if you think you feel well enough, we can run the physical ability test in the afternoon.”
Luo Lan had another little plan. “You go work; there’s no need to accompany me, I’ll just look around a bit before lunch.”
“You want to do the test?”
“Yes. Also, I’ll be coming often in the future, so will you need to stay my side at every moment?”
Feng Lin thought for a bit. “I’ll have Anna prepare a staff ID for you. For now, you’re my research assistant, so the lounge and gym are free for you to use. So long as you have entry, you can come and go as you please.”
Luo Lan was shocked. She pointed at herself and half-jokingly said, “You believe me? Don’t forget that I’m still a princess of Aerdes. If you’re not careful, I’ll spy on all your research secrets for Aerdes.”
Feng Lin rolled her eyes. “Dream on. Do you really think Odin’s secrets can be so easily revealed?”
Luo Lan laughed and stuck out her tongue. “Fine, looks like I overthought this time.” She figured, as the specimen who would inevitably be sliced into pieces for research, she was lucky to meet a Dr. Frankenstein as kind as Feng Lin.
Feng Lin gestured at Luo Lan’s personal communicator: “The facility’s system will automatically let you know if you have entry to a certain place. If the door opens, you can enter, otherwise, you can’t.” Luo Lan, seeing how simple it really was, decided she wouldn’t need to worry about accidentally trespassing.
After she parted ways with Feng Lin, Luo Lan went to the lounge and played some games for a while. Seeing that the time was around what it was yesterday, she pretended to go for a walk and left for the third floor.
As soon as she entered the cold hallway, she saw a man in a blue patient’s gown and a worker in a white uniform walking in her direction.
Luo Lan immediately skirted to the side, furiously thinking up an explanation in the event they stopped and asked her what she was doing.
Ultimately, they paid her little heed, only politely nodding at her as they walked by.
Luo Lan let out a breath. It seemed like visitors weren’t uncommon in this area, so there was no need to fear if she ran into anyone she knew in the future.
She arrived at the room she’d met Qian Xu in yesterday and found that it was locked shut. There was no indication if Qian Xu was inside or not.
Luo Lan felt her anxiety build, yet as for why, she couldn’t say.
She was about to ring the doorbell when she stopped and hurriedly opened her communicator. She assessed her appearance, arranged her hair, straightened her skirt, and when she’d finally decided that there were no problems, she sucked in a deep breath and pressed the doorbell.
“Come in.” The door swung open.
Qian Xu was sitting at his desk working. He closed his virtual workspace as she entered.
“Am I interrupting you?” Luo Lan nervously asked.
“Oh, no, I was just looking at some information for work.”
He was garbed in patient’s clothing and his face was still ashen, but his spirits seemed to be much higher than they were yesterday.
Luo Lan held her hands behind her back and bit her lip. “Still remember me?”
Luo Lan felt her heart thump. For Qian Xu it was only a simple name, but for her, it was the first greeting she’d heard in this world!
Her smile bloomed like a flower, and she gave him a thumbs up. “Right!”
“Your name is easy to remember,” Qian Xu said, smiling. His bearing was as calm and peaceful as a spring wind.
Luo Lan raised her wrist and pointed at her personal communicator. She nervously asked, “Want to add me as a friend?” For this, she’d specifically made sure last night that adding someone as a friend wouldn’t reveal her identity. She’d tossed and turned all night, worried that he’d refuse.
Qian Xu started in surprise. “Yes, of course.” He rattled off a contact number.
Luo Lan felt joy well in her heart. She immediately sent him an invite. He accepted, and a new number appeared in her contacts.
Luo Lan entered his name and happily said, “Lately, I’ve been helping a friend, so I’ll be coming here often in the future. If you have any spare time, feel free to contact me!”
Qian Xu amusedly said, “Are you always this happy?”
Luo Lan widened her eyes. “Oh? Did you think I was an android? How can I only have one state of being?” She counted off her fingers. “I have only three settings: happy, very happy, and extremely happy. It frequently changes.”
Qian Xu lightly coughed, the smile on his lips growing.
Luo Lan hesitated for a moment before she asked, “Do you live here?”
“Ah, no. I work at the battle stratagem center. I only live here when I have to come in for medical examination.”
It seemed that his illness didn’t impact his everyday work and life; additionally, he worked at the base, so meeting him in the future wouldn’t be difficult. Luo Lan let out a breath. “Is your work usually busy?”
Luo Lan baldly asked, “How much do you mean by ‘alright?’ The have time to talk nonsense on your communicator kind of alright, or the only have time to talk business sort of alright?”
Qian Xu paused for a bit before saying, “It depends on who I’m speaking with. If it’s you, I have the time to speak nonsense.”
Luo Lan was delighted. “You won’t regret your wise decision!”
The two chatted for a while before Luo Lan bid goodbye. “I need to return now, I’ll stop by next time.”
“See you.” Qian Xu smiled and said.
Luo Lan returned to the lounge and opened her contact list. When she saw Qian Xu’s name, her lips couldn’t help curling into a smile.
Perhaps, due to the fact they were both test subjects, she felt some sort of camaraderie towards Qian Xu; perhaps, because Qian Xu was a normal person who’d treated her with kindness, Luo Lan felt comfortable with him, a far cry from her uneasiness around Chen Sha, Zi Yan, and the others.
She was Luo Xun, and she’d found her first friend! Luo Lan thought it was all too wonderful to be true.
She couldn’t help sending a message to Qian Xu: “Hello!”
Qian Xu immediately replied: “Hey, what’s up?”
Luo Lan, slightly embarrassed, replied, “Nothing, I just wanted to see if you’re able to receive my messages.”
“I’ve received it.” Qian Xu didn’t question her mental state, in fact sending a comforting emoji.
Luo Lan truly felt comforted, and with a happy heart she closed her messages and began to start her work.
Luo Lan searched the internet, trying to find some information about physical ability tests. Without realizing it, she’d researched until lunchtime.
She met with Feng Lin downstairs, and the two walked to the cafeteria.
Luo Lan had been nervous about happening across Chen Sha, but she didn’t see him once. She figured this was because he hadn’t come to train troops, and thus didn’t stop by the cafeteria for lunch.
Luo Lan tried a bite of her nutritional meal and inwardly found it disgusting, yet Feng Lin was eating bite after bite without a hint of distaste. Luo Lan wondered, was her sense of taste different from those in Odin?
Luo Lan surreptitiously sent a message to Qian Xu: “What’re you having for lunch?”
Qian Xu: “A nutritional meal.”
Luo Lan: “Is it tasty?”
Qian Xu sent a frowning face.
Luo Lan relaxed a fraction; so, there wasn’t anything wrong with her sense of taste.
Luo Lan asked: “Do you like it?”
Qian Xu hadn’t yet replied when Feng Lin smilingly said, “Who are you messaging that’s making you so happy?”
“Qing Yue, my maid.” Luo Lan lied without hesitation.
Every adult had little secrets; every adult did all they could to hide these secrets.
Feng Lin was about to say something when her communicator suddenly shrilly rang. She glanced down and her expression immediately changed. “I have something urgent to deal with.”
Luo Lan watched her fly out of the room like a hurricane and figured it must’ve been another issue with testing. Doing research at Feng Lin’s age was truly difficult—not only was it taxing on the mind, it also was taxing on the body.
Luo Lan slowly finished her meal. Qian Xu hadn’t yet replied. Luo Lan reckoned he was too busy with work to chat.
Luo Lan wasn’t bothered by this. Small talk for the sake of small talk wasn’t all that important; she would be happy if conversation occurred naturally, but if they couldn’t converse, she wouldn’t be disappointed.
She took a walk around the perimeter, before deciding to return to the testing facility to search for Feng Lin.
Halfway through she received a message from Feng Lin: “Sorry, something came up. Is it possibly we could move your physical ability test back to tomorrow afternoon?”
Luo Lan replied: “No problem, I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
The next day, the first thing Luo Lan did upon arriving at the research facility was find Qian Xu.
“I brought you a small gift; I hope you like it.” Luo Lan set a small gift box in front of him.
Qian Xu had a question in his eyes, but Luo Lan didn’t offer an explanation. She only grinned and gestured for him to open the box.
Qian Xu opened the bright red box and found that inside the box were five small boxes of varying size, all holding different kinds of food. Bright green stir-fried vegetables, chicken egg rolls, crispy grilled steak, snow-white rice, rich chocolate cake. Each course was exquisitely made and arranged.
Qian Xu asked in shock, “You made all this?”
Luo Lan had already searched the internet and found that although most people ate food made by androids, a few were willing to spend time and effort to personally create something more delicious and to their liking. The best restaurants in the galaxy offered food handmade by experienced chefs.
Qian Xu asked, “Why don’t you just have an android make it?”
“Can an android’s cooking possibly compare to mine?” Luo Lan shamelessly asked.
“Can’t compare.” Qian Xu lifted his fork, intending to dig in.
Luo Lan hurriedly said, “If you don’t like it, just tell me so I can adjust accordingly next time. Please don’t worry about insulting me and eat it even if you don’t like it.”
Qian Xu smiled. “What happened to all that confidence just now?”
Luo Lan scrunched up her face and said nothing.
Qian Xu sampled a bite from every dish. Luo Lan nervously watched him.
“I haven’t eaten such delicious food in a very long time.”
Luo Lan raised her fist and cheered. “If you like it, I can make it for you anytime.”
“Do you really like cooking?”
Luo Lan started, unsure of how exactly to respond.
“If you enjoy cooking, you should consider opening a restaurant.”
“Open a restaurant?” Luo Lan didn’t know what to say.
She’d returned early the day before and found she had nothing to do, and when she recalled the disgusting nutritional meals made by androids, she decided at the last minute she’d try her hand at cooking.
She’d looked through many videos, intending to follow along.
But as soon as she’d started, she found the motions extremely familiar, as if she’d done this countless times.
There was no question: she’d cooked all the time in the past. Yet she still couldn’t remember anything, just like how she could recognize an apple, but had no way of explaining how she could recognize an apple.
She’d already been wondering if she was a scholar of ancient history. Now she began to wonder if she’d been a cook.
Qian Xu saw Luo Lan’s strange expression and considerately asked, “What is it?”
Luo Lan shook her head and hesitatingly said, “Though I’m experienced with cooking, I’m not sure if I like it enough to continue pursuing it as a profession.”
“Do you like your work now?”
Work? Luo Lan truly didn’t know what to say now.
Dr. Mu, Feng Lin, Chen Sha, Zi Yan, An Da, Qing Yue, Qing Chu…it was as if everyone surrounding her had some kind of profession, some work that they could put their effort into every day.
And she…was just like an apple tree!
It didn’t matter if it was Aerdes, or Odin, they all wanted one thing: for her to be as obedient as an apple tree, never looking for trouble.
But could she live her life as just an apple tree?
Luo Lan only said, “I wasn’t always an Alikarta resident—I actually just immigrated here. Right now, I’m temporarily working as a simple worker in the research facility. I haven’t yet decided what I want to do in the future.”
Qian Xu comfortingly said, “There’s no need to rush, at times trying to understand oneself is much harder than adjusting to a foreign planet. It needs some time.”
There was no doubt that under her present circumstances, she indeed needed time to come to understand herself. Luo Lan smiled and said, “Has anyone ever told you that being your friend is a blessing? You’re not only a good friend, but also a good teacher.”
Qian Xu warmly looked at her. “Now there is.”
An alarm rang from Luo Lan’s communicator. Luo Lan saw it was Feng Lin and immediately jumped up. “Crap! Something came up, I’ll have to go first!” She sped out of the room.
Luo Lan hurried to Feng Lin’s office.
Feng Lin said, “Let’s go to lunch.”
“Just a bit.” Luo Lan placed a box of food in front of Feng Line. “Try some and let me know what you think.”
Feng Lin opened the box: “Oh! Did you make this?”
“M-hm. At times I get sick of the food the androids make, so I make some myself.” They didn’t know the true Luo Lan, so if she said she liked cooking, at most they’d just think it was a curious habit of the rich and privileged.
“Then I’ll dig in.”
Feng Lin sampled every dish. She marveled, “This is amazing! It’s comparable to what the best chefs make.”
Luo Lan completely relaxed. Since both Feng Lin and Qian Xu liked her food, confirming her abilities, perhaps she could indeed open a restaurant.
Since she wasn’t truly a princess, the realization she could perhaps make her way through her own ability cheered Luo Lan immensely. It was as if she’d been given a new sense of drive.
Humans were truly strange. They wished for protection and support from others, but if their survival were entirely dependent on others’ benevolence, they wouldn’t be satisfied. As time passed, they would only sink lower and lower into their own helplessness and inability.
Feng Lin saw that Luo Lan was only watching her eat. “What about you?”
Luo Lan took out a nutritional shake, smiling as she took a sip. The internet’s advice recommended that she shouldn’t take the physical ability test without sufficient fuel, but also that she shouldn’t eat too much for fear of throwing up during the test. Thus, the best option was a nutritional shake.
Feng Lin joked, “Does your husband know you’re this smart and capable?”
Used to her ribbing, Luo Lan lightly said, “Go ask him yourself.”
Feng Lin grunted and said nothing more.
Luo Lan sat across from Feng Lin and asked, “After eating the food I made, can you do me a favor?”
“What favor?” Feng Lin eagerly asked.
“Tell me what Chu Mo likes to eat. I want to send him some food and get into his good graces.”
Feng Lin asked, “If you’re trying to chummy up, shouldn’t you be trying to get into Chen Sha’s good graces?”
“Chu Mo is the federation’s minister of public health.”
“And Chen Sha is our federation’s commander.” Feng Lin hit her desk with her hand.
“I don’t intend to join the military.” Luo Lan waved her hand, as if Chen Sha were as inconsequential as a cloud.
Feng Lin was shocked. “Do you want to become a doctor?”
“Doesn’t everyone inevitably get sick? Chu Mo is not only the federation’s best doctor, but he also oversees the doctors of the entire federation. For the sake of my personal safety, I should get started cultivating a healthy doctor-patient relationship.”
Luo Lan solemnly nodded. Although she didn’t know what Qian Xu’s condition was, she was sure Chu Mo could help.
Feng Lin rubbed Luo Lan’s head like a mother does a loud child. “I urge you to send some food to Chen Sha first. He and Chu Mo have been bosom friends since they were young…they’re basically brothers. As long as Chen Sha doesn’t want you to die, Chu Mo will definitely save you, otherwise…” Feng Lin gave Luo Lan a “do you know what I’m saying?” sort of look.
Luo Lan was dumbfounded.
After lunch and a short rest, Feng Lin took Luo Lan to the testing center.
Feng Lin explained that in the Odin federation, there were two types of tests, the first being offered for ordinary citizens. The test location could be selected after registration on the web, and the testing process would be completely monitored by the system. The second was for soldiers and certain professionals. Various instruments and tests would offer reference data, while a specialist would make the final decision.
Because of Feng Lin’s special status, Luo Lan was “honored” the position of the latter kind and would receive a test like a soldier.
Feng Lin handed a set of black training clothes to Luo Lan for her to change into.
“The military specially uses this kind of clothing. Not only does it offer some protection, but it also helps regulate bodily function.”
Luo Lan’s expression bordered on indifference, so Feng Lin specifically added, “Many are leery of revealing their body’s data and refuse to put on training clothes of unknown origin.”
Luo Lan thought that what was a big issue for others didn’t really apply to her here. Nevertheless, she took Feng Lin’s consideration to heart and agreed.
After she changed and walked back out, Luo Lan saw Zi Yan, dressed in a forest-green uniform, standing next to Feng Lin. He was pointing at a holographic screen and saying something.
What was the great young master doing here? Luo Lan knit her brows.
Zi Yan had already looked over. He grinned at her and asked, “What’s with that face? Are you that unhappy to see me?”
(tofu: I don’t blame her, you ass)
Luo Lan gave him a once-over. “Should I feel happy to see you? And where is my husband Chen Sha?”
Ever since she discovered mentioning Chen Sha’s name could shut Feng Lin up, she’d begun exploiting her association with him. Zi Yan can come at me.
Zi Yan only grinned, his bright eyes curving into crescents. He glanced behind Luo Lan and slowly drawled, “Ah, it’s your husband Chen Sha.”
Who would fall for that kind of petty trick? Luo Lan disbelievingly turned her head and saw a soldier walking towards the gravity warping room. The moment she looked over, the man had just turned his head. Speak of the devil and he shall appear, it was Chen Sha!
Their gazes collided and Luo Lan’s heart immediately began thumping in fear. She hurriedly turned back her head and slapped a “I couldn’t care less, I’m innocent” expression.
Zi Yan cheerfully waved to Chen Sha, beckoning him to come over and chat.
Luo Lan was about to kneel and beg: Young master, I was wrong! Please don’t put me through this!
Feng Lin gave Zi Yan a look. “Stop it already! We still need to start her test.”
The first segment was a simple test of strength. According to Feng Lin, all she needed to do was put in her best effort.
The second segment also wasn’t complicated. She only needed to follow the movements of a holographic figure until she could no longer continue.
After Luo Lan completed the first two segments, Feng Lin bade her rest for half an hour.
Feng Lin said, “In the next test, you’ll contend with an examiner.”
The net had said this test was the worst—many test-takers would get beat up or injured by the examiner. Luo Lan nervously asked, “Will it be you testing me?”
“I’ll be monitoring your movements and your data. But don’t worry, you know the examiner personally.”
The door opened before she even finished speaking, and Zi Yan walked in. Luo Lan immediately felt ill, and tremulously asked Feng Lin, “Can he switch with someone else?”
Zi Yan overheard and he raised his voice: “Oh, so you’d prefer your husband Chen Sha! Sure, his training should almost be over, I’ll call him over for you—”
“No need, no need,” Luo Lan hastily said.
“Really? Don’t suffer on my account.” Zi Yan turned, indicating he was about to leave.
Luo Lan panicked and cried, “Really, there’s no need!”
“Zi Yan!” Feng Lin came to Luo Lan’s aid and supplied, “Chen Sha isn’t suited for this position. If it were any other person, I’d worry that they’d be unable to properly help Luo Lan, or that they’d injure her, so I can only ask you.”
Luo Lan lowered her head and bent slightly at the waist, deferentially saying, “I’ll be troubling you!”
Zi Yan turned and ambled back, instructing the system to show Luo Lan’s previous results.
He dramatically sighed. “This low of a level, and you still dared to reject my help? If it weren’t for Feng Lin, even if you got down and begged I wouldn’t have bothered!”
“Yes-yes-yes! I so rarely have the opportunity to meet a great master such as yourself!”
Luo Lan finally understood Feng Lin’s intentions. Perhaps a C-level examiner would’ve been enough, but Feng Lin had gone the extra mile by inviting Zi Yan.
After her thirty minutes of rest, Luo Lan, with Zi Yan, entered the training center, with Feng Lin monitoring from outside.
The room’s layout was special, with uneven ground in some places and metal posts of varying sizes.
According to the Starnet’s advice, the key was not to try and defeat the examiner, but to gain familiarity with the surrounding environment and evade the examiner for as long as possible. The longer one evaded, the higher the score was.
Zi Yan grinned and said, “Let’s start!”
Luo Lan respectfully bowed. “Please guide me well.”
Zi Yan lazily beckoned with his hand.
Luo Lan didn’t bother moving closer. She immediately turned and ran. Yet as soon as she’d lifted her eyes, Zi Yan had already moved to stand in front of her. His foot flew out and landed squarely on her chest, sending her flying back.
This jerk was using this opportunity to take his revenge! Luo Lan fell back in fright, trying to crawl away.
Zi Yan didn’t give her one inch of leeway, continuing his attack, each movement filled with the intent to harm.
Luo Lan knew he wouldn’t kill her, but his advance gave her not a bit of room. She could only try with all her might to evade him.
Ten minutes hadn’t yet passed when Feng Lin called for them to stop. Luo Lan bent over in exhaustion, her body boneless.
Zi Yan squatted next to her and sighed. “No wonder Aerdes sent you here. Better have you waste another’s resources rather than their own.”
Luo Lan wearily shut her eyes, saying nothing. She truly was weak, yet that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even after being pushed this hard, she still hadn’t revealed any ulterior skills, confirming that she truly wasn’t a “nation-endangering criminal.”
Although she had no inkling as to how she’d appeared in base G9737, she at least knew now she wasn’t a spy.
It was as if a stone had been lifted from her heart. She calmly smiled. Living peacefully and simply would truly be the best outcome.
Zi Yan smirked and flicked her forehead. “Why are you smiling so happily, even in this situation? What a weirdo.”
The last segment would measure her physical potential. It was neither simple nor complicated: she would have to run for as long as possible in the gravity warping room.
Feng Lin told her that the gravity level would continuously change, hence, the stress on her body would fluctuate. Her only job was to bear with it until she no longer could.
Luo Lan nodded and entered the room.
Zi Yan had been intending to leave, yet for some reason, he changed his mind and decided to watch.
Feng Lin gave him a look. “Don’t tell me you still suspect her.”
Zi Yan smirked and said, “How long do you reckon she’ll last? Can’t be more than a few minutes.”
Feng Lin wanted to retort, but when she saw Luo Lan’s previous three test results, her response died in her throat.
The room’s settings offered various types of environment to choose from. Luo Lan originally wanted to choose the “chirping birds, sweet-smelling flowers, and babbling brook” environment. Perhaps a prettier environment would be more bearable to stay in for longer. Yet as she flipped through the options, she happened upon an environment much like that of base G9737. Her hand unconsciously trembled, and she selected it.
“Beginning the test.” The system announced.
In a flash, the room disappeared.
Her surroundings stretched around her endlessly, the desert plains barren of all life or people.
She knew deep inside that everything was fake, yet it was truly like being plunged back into that day when she’d first opened her eyes.
Luo Lan sighed. Fine! She’d bear it. It was just a test of physical ability, after all. She’d just run for as long as she could take it.
Every direction looked exactly the same, so Luo Lan randomly picked one and began to run.
When she first started, it wasn’t particularly hard; it was just like running with a rather heavy suit of armor.
As time wore on, and the gravity level began to increase, Luo Lan’s steps became slower and slower, until eventually she’d slowed to a walk.
The air felt stifling, as if she were wading through a sticky substance. Even breathing became difficult.
Soon it became painful even to breathe, and each step seemed to require her to expend all her effort to take.
Luo Lan’s head began to grow fuzzy due to the lack of oxygen. The world blurred, and she couldn’t remember anything.
She didn’t know who she was, let alone where she was.
She’d been walking ever since she’d first opened her eyes, yet she still hadn’t glimpsed another person.
It was if she were the only person left in the world.
Luo Lan was starving and tired, yet she couldn’t stop, wouldn’t stop.
To stop was to accept death!
Death was terrifying, yet there was something far more terrifying: not knowing who one was, or where they were, dying alone and confused in a great empty expanse.
Pain lanced through every vein in her body until it felt as if her head would split in half. One half shouted: don’t stop! I must continue, and eventually I’ll find an answer. The other half said: stop fooling yourself. Continuing on will only beget more pain. I’m looking for an answer that doesn’t exist.
In her fear and despair, she could only continuously tell herself: every person has a name they can call their own. She must have one too!
Outside the room, Feng Lin’s face was solemn as she unblinkingly stared at the feed.
“It’s been almost seven hours. The record for new recruits taking this test is seven hours and thirty-three minutes.” But the base’s new recruits were selected from the federation’s most stand-out, highest potential soldiers, the weakest among them being at least C-level in ability. Luo Lan, conversely, had fainted after a sip of a B-level drink.
Feng Lin didn’t know what to do, and hesitatingly asked, “Should we stop the test?”
Zi Yan expressionlessly starred at Luo Lan’s staggering figure.
“The first Odin Governor’s order was to uphold the fairness of the selection process by not interfering in any ability test. You intend to break this long-standing rule for her now?”
Feng Lin couldn’t bring herself to decide after hearing this.
The record numbers ticked upwards bit by bit. Feng Lin felt her heart begin to race. “If this goes on, she will truly die!”
Zi Yan didn’t reply.
“Wasn’t Aerdes’ princess fragile as glass? How can she handle more suffering than our soldiers?” Feng Lin, in her panic, gave Zi Yan a shove. “Hurry and think of something!”
Zi Yan slowly said, “I don’t have the power to interfere, however, there is a person who does.”
It was as if a lightbulb lit in Feng Lin’s head. She immediately sent out a message.
After a few minutes, Chen Sha appeared outside the gravity warping center.
Feng Lin anxiously told him, “It’s been seven hours and twenty minutes. She has thirteen more before she breaks the base’s record.” She pulled up Luo Lan’s previous test results. “She also broke the records in her first three tests with the lowest scores ever.”
Chen Sha glanced at the numbers on the screen before he looked in the direction of the gravity warping room.
In the vast desert, a thin figure tottered this way and that, as if she were about to collapse at any given moment. Yet not once did she fall, much like the wild grass that grows on rocky slopes, stubbornly living on, in spite of its fragility.
Feng Lin desperately pleaded, “Hurry! She’ll really be in trouble if this continues on!”
Inside the room, Luo Lan’s body burned with agony, as if she were already halfway to the underworld.
Yet she still hadn’t found the answer.
Suddenly, her surroundings froze.
The wind ceased its howling, the sparse trees stopped swaying, and even the planet seemed to halt its rotation.
A figure suddenly materialized, illuminated by a sliver of light. He was as lofty as a mountain, as coldly indifferent as snow, as remote and unmoved as a god.
A thought floated from somewhere in Luo Lan’s muddled brain—Chen Sha.
She knew him! Then he must know her!
Luo Lan stumbled forward. Her feet gave out, and she fell forward into his arms.
She clutched his shirt and hoarsely whispered, “Who…who am I?”
She hadn’t yet heard the answer she so desperately wanted to hear before her vision went black.
Outside the center, Feng Lin let out a breath of relief. “This isn’t a breach of the rules! Luo Lan is no soldier, and Chen Sha is her husband, so in accordance with federation law, Chen Sha, as her family, has the power to help her if she’s in danger.”
Zi Yan’s expression was pensive. “I can’t help but be curious—if Chen Sha hadn’t gone in, would she truly have walked till she died?”
Luo Lan followed Zi Yan’s gaze and saw the numbers on the screen: seven hours and thirty-four minutes.
Zi Yan said, “You’d better classify the results of her examination.”
Feng Lin’s heart tightened, and she looked within the center—
Chen Sha stared at the figure lying on the ground before him. He picked her up, his face cold and his movements stiff. His face was filled with distaste, hers, conversely, wore a smile, her brow smooth and relaxed, as if she were a child who’d lost her way and finally found her way home.
tofu: And that finishes the longest chapter yet. Luo Lan again proves her mettle—maybe Chen Sha and Zi Yan will begin to take her seriously.
As I reread during my translations, I find myself loving Luo Lan more and more. Despite having lost everything—her memories, her identity—she grits her teeth and continues on, adapting to her circumstances and appreciating the little moments of happiness she can find. It’s truly inspiring.