The Memory Lost in Space

Epilogue Part 1: Zhao Xi

Tofu: Hey everyone. This isn’t Chapter 6, but the first of two extras, the very last chapters of this long-ass novel. I’ve titled them in terms of an epilogue for clarity. Why did I translate the last two chapters when I haven’t even translated the first 10% of the novel, you ask? I’m truly sorry, but I’ve realized that completely sequential updates simply won’t be a thing with me, as it’s unlikely I’ll be able to finish translating this story. So for now I’ll translate the juiciest parts or the chapters which strike my fancy and hopefully, hopefully, I can gradually fill in all the spots.

As this is the ending of the novel, there will obviously be a lot of spoilers. (But that won’t stop you from reading, will it?) I’ll include context as needed. If you’re confused about anything, just drop a comment and I’ll try to explain. I’ve written a summary of the entire plot, posted [here]. Again, spoilers, though if you want to understand what’s going on in this chapter, I suggest you read the entire summary (obviously).

I want to translate the ending before anything, so epilogue part 2 will be one of the next chapters I release. I do have Chapter 6 almost finished, so expect that sometime in near-ish future.

By this point in the novel, the war between Aerdes and Odin has reached a temporary cease-fire. Things are looking bad for our star-crossed couple. Chen Sha has abandoned Luo Lan, having revealed his betrayal, and become the Governor of Odin. Chen Sha mistakenly believes that Luo Lan is trying to exterminate all mutants. Luo Lan has hopes they can reconcile, as she has one last (figurative) bomb to drop: their twins, both of whom Chen Sha is unaware exists. She sends her young son as the Aerdes’ representative to discuss the cease-fire with Chen Sha.

The title of this chapter is quite beautiful, and I felt a strict translation wouldn’t do it justice. “Zhao Xi” is the combination of Luo Lan and Chen Sha’s children’s names, Zhao, and Xi. Together they mean something like “all the time,” from morning to night (Zhao = morning, Xi = evening). Perfect names for twins, no? Importantly, zhao xi has another meaning that I didn’t know until I looked the word up: “a very short time.” I find it interesting that Tong Hua chose a word that paradoxically conveys both eternity and impermanence. All in all, it reflects the bittersweet feeling that pervades this story, which is all about the fleeting moments we never treasure until we’ve lost them forever.

***

It was an early morning in the Governor’s residence.

Chen Sha, garbed in his military uniform, walked down the stairs. “Has Aerdes’ ship arrived?” he questioned.

Su Yi answered: “It’s reached our dock. Su Er and Su Qi are in the welcoming party; they’ll bring them directly to the reception.”

Chen Sha was about to sit down to eat breakfast when the doorbell sounded. Soon after, Su Er and Su Qi walked in.

Su Yi asked in confusion, “Weren’t you escorting the Aerdes congregation?”

Su Er and Su Qi both wore strange expressions. Su Qi surreptitiously glanced at Chen Sha before evasively saying, “We thought…escorting them directly here would be best.”

Su Yi was dumbfounded.

This was the Governor’s home—though it wasn’t off-limits to foreign ambassadors, it wasn’t a building to receive just anyone and everyone. Why would Su Er and Su Qi have brought the Aerdes officials here? Or was the matter of a ceasefire that momentous?

“What’s the matter?” Chen Sha asked.

Su Er hesitatingly said: “Your Excellency…it’s better if Your Excellency deals with this personally.”

The guests had already arrived; how could they possibly shoo them away now? Chen Sha nodded at Su Yi, motioning for him to stand down.

Su Yi called, “Let them in.”

Qing Chu walked in, her gaze calm and her bearing self-assured, a far cry from the cautious girl she’d once been.

However, though she was the Empress’ most trusted confidante, she deferentially walked behind a child.

The boy had black hair and eyes, his features exquisite and his bearing cold. He was sharply dressed in formalwear—not a hair was out of place. He calmly strode in, his back ramrod straight. His gaze landed on Chen Sha, and he walked over. Even though everyone in the room’s attention was focused on him, he didn’t show an ounce of the timidity usually characteristic of children, his expression remained indifferently cold.

Su Yi unconsciously glanced at Chen Sha. It wasn’t all that apparent when they were apart, but once they stood across from each other in the same room, it was clear they looked very similar—one big and one small.

The boy stood in front of Chen Sha, and like an adult reached out his hand. “I am Ying Xian Chen Xi, representing my imperial mother Empress Ying Xian Luo Lan to discuss the ceasefire with Your Excellency.”

Chen Sha could only stare at Ying Xian Chen Xi in shock.

He’d seen this child before, on Piledo planet.

To help Odin’s research on sudden mutation, he’d personally gone to Quyun planet to steal samples of the blood-sucking vine. On his way back he’d made a stop on Piledo. He didn’t think he would happen to see Ying Xian Luo Lan there.

                (Tofu: For some context, this was a very depressing scene. It was after Chen Sha had revealed his betrayal and abandoned Luo Lan and Aerdes, returning to Odin to become Governor. Luo Lan took her kids on a much-needed vacation to Piledo—yes, my English romanization sounds dumb as fuck. Luo Lan and the kids were shopping in an outdoor market. Luo Lan was perusing a glasses shop, looking for a gift for Chen Sha. She didn’t notice that Chen Sha was standing in the shadows, where he’d just glimpsed the trio. He ignored the kids, not knowing his relation to them, only staring at Luo Lan. He left with none the wiser, except Chen Xi, the only one who noticed the man who stared with such an intense gaze at his mother.)

At the time, aside from the little boy, there’d also been a little girl. Amir had grasped the girl’s shoulder as she and Luo Lan laughingly perused the selection of glasses.

(Tofu: Amir is leader of Quyun and Luo Lan’s close friend. She looked after the kids on Quyun as Luo Lan couldn’t care for them herself due to the war.)

He’d heard Amir had a pair of fraternal twins, a boy and a girl, so he’d assumed the children were hers.

But what did this child just say?

Ying Xian Chen Xi kept his hand outstretched, calmly looking at Chen Sha.

Chen Sha asked, “You said your name was?”

Chen Xi clearly said, “Ying Xian Chen Xi. ‘Ying Xian’ of Ying Xian Luo Lan, ‘Chen’ of Chen Sha, ‘Xi’ of the xiyan flower.”

Chen Sha looked at Ying Xian Chen Xi.

Ying Xian Chen Xi looked at Chen Sha.

The room collectively held its breath, the silence so tense it was a tangible thing.

A memory surfaced in Chen Sha’s mind:

That deep night, Luo Lan had sat on a chair, garbed in her blue scrubs, wearing a surgeon’s cap. Her gaze was calm and direct. He’d confusedly asked what surgery she was performing so late in the night. Luo Lan had lightly mentioned a “small surgery.” Back then he’d had a strange feeling something was not quite right, though he couldn’t voice his suspicions. He now understood: Luo Lan hadn’t been performing surgery on others—it’d been she who lay on the surgery table, receiving treatment.

They’d been in the midst of a war back then. To conceive children with mutant genes in such an extreme time…was it a difficult period, even for the fierce Ying Xian Luo Lan?

“Ah!” Chen Xi suddenly thought of something and calmly said, “My twin older sister is named Ying Xian Chen Zhao, ‘Ying Xian’ of Ying Xian Luo Lan, ‘Chen’ of Chen Sha, ‘Zhao’ of the zhaoyan flower.”

Zhao Yan Xi Yan.

Xi Yan Zhao Yan.

(Tofu: More context—these are the names of two sedating drinks Luo Lan personally engineered for individuals of caliber 3A or 4A. She made it for Chen Sha, whose 4A body is so strong that normal painkillers and anesthetics don’t work on it. Chen Zhao’s Zhao and Chen Xi’s Xi are the same characters as Zhao Yan Xi Yan.)

Somewhere in the haze, Chen Sha thought that there were no Aerdes citizen with 3A capabilities, let alone any with 4A. These drinks had been made for him, and him only. Likewise, the children had been named for him, and him only.

Chen Sha’s mind whirled. He stared at Chen Xi in a daze.

“Your Excellency?” Chen Xi’s hand was still outstretched.

Chen Sha regained his composure, feigning calm as he shook Chen Xi’s hand.

Chen Xi said, “My mom said you are my father and that I should set aside formalities and call you Dad, but given our first meeting, I think ‘Your Excellency’ is best.”

Although Chen Sha had already grasped what relationship he had with Chen Xi, hearing Chen Xi speak it aloud was like being sucker-punched, each word a new blow.

His child?

His and Ying Xian Luo Lan’s child?

Chen Sha’s mind was in chaos. He could only stare at Chen Xi, at a loss. Luo Lan had once said, “I have an either very happy or very scary surprise waiting for you.”

This time, she didn’t lie! It was truly a terrifying surprise!

Su Yi blurted out: “Your mom…Her Majesty the Empress, does she truly intend to announce that your name is Ying Xian Chen Xi, and your sister’s is Ying Xian Chen Zhao?”

“Yes.” Chen Xi was curt; not one unnecessary word was said.

Fortunately, Qing Chu understood Su Yi’s underlying question and clearly explained: “Her Majesty has not only determined Xiao Zhao as her successor; His Highness Xiao Xi is second in line to the throne. Commander Lin Jian and His Excellency Zi Yan have already expressed their support.”

(Tofu: “Xiao Zhao” and “Xiao Xi” are the kids’ pet names, they literally mean “Little Zhao” and “Little Xi.” Also TLDR; Zi Yan is an official/hostage/something important-sounding in Aerdes now.)

Aerdes’ future emperor is a mutant?

Su Yi, Su Er, Su Wu, and Su Qi were dumbstruck, sure they were dreaming. They could only stare at Chen Xi in shock.

Qing Chu reached out to offer a tightly sealed box to Su Wu. “This is Bi Xie, the medication created by the Ying Xian Ye Jie Genetic Organization. As His Excellency the Governor participated in the experimentation, His Excellency has been granted a 15% stake in the company and is currently the second largest shareholder. His Excellency can no longer take the medicine, though there are a few who should need it.”

Su Wu, shaken, stared at the medicine in his hands. He stammered, “Your Excellency…Your Excellency…is—”

“I know.” Chen Sha thought back to when he went to Quyun to steal the blood-sucking vine. His heart felt heavy.

(Tofu: Bi Xie is medicine Luo Lan engineered that will cure sudden mutation in carriers of mutant genes.)

Qing Chu took out two more boxes and handed them to Chen Xi.

Chen Xi offered them to Chen Sha, politely yet indifferently saying, “My mom wanted me to gift these to Your Excellency.”

Chen Sha mind was a whirlwind; he could only numbly say, “What is it?”

“Don’t know. Mom said if Your Excellency has any questions, to just contact her anytime. Your Excellency knows her personal number.”

Chen Sha thought of the two messages left unanswered on his communicator.

Luo Lan had tried to contact him over and over again—was it to tell him all this?

Chen Sha accepted the gift boxes, noticing that one looked familiar. The box still had an express delivery marking: it was the gift he’d received while on Lin Xie ship.

Something deep within Chen Sha’s heart prevented him from opening the box. He opened the other instead.

Three jars of homemade rose jam and a glasses case.

Chen Sha numbly lifted the jars of jam. He subconsciously glanced in the direction of the kitchen. The rose jam in his hands overlapped with the rose jam in his memory.

Luo Xun had once made two jars of rose jam for him. He’d destroyed one in a fit of rage, the other he never found the chance to eat before he left and the world fell into war. Decades later, he was able to return to Alikarta, but everything was long gone, with not slightest trace left.

He once thought that the world had irrevocably changed after so long, that everything had been swept away by the winds of time, lost forever. He didn’t think that the labyrinth of the years would bear this kind of reunion.

Chen Sha’s fingers gently swept over the signature on the jar.

The big jar was signed “Luo Lan.” The two small jars were signed with “Xiao Zhao” and “Xiao Xi,” penned with a childish scrawl.

“Mom, Jie Jie, and I made this rose jam together.” Chen Xi took the glasses case and purposefully said, “These are the glasses Mom bought on Piledo. She bought four pairs, one for each member of the family. Ah, Your Excellency should know, as I remember Your Excellency was there back then on Piledo.”

Chen Sha opened the glasses case and found a pair black-framed glasses, an almost exact replica of the utilitarian pair he’d once gifted Luo Xun. This pair, however, was slightly more masculine in style and larger in size.

Luo Lan’s confused reaction when she’d received the glasses that year gradually materialized in his mind.

Chen Sha couldn’t help chuckling.

Time was endless and brutal, but after the long years she remembered, and he remembered—how fortunate!

With the time they had left, perhaps they could meet again…

Although the current you is no longer the you of back then, change doesn’t always bring misfortune, but new happiness as well.

Chen Sha raised his head to gaze at Xiao Xi.

Xiao Zhao, Xiao Xi.

His and Luo Lan’s children!

Emotion rode through him in waves, the highs of joy and the lows of guilt and fear.

From day till night, night till day.

Fortunately, the rest of our lives are long. Fortunately, there is still a chance we can make up. Fortunately, there are still many days and nights to meet together.

Chen Sha’s gaze gradually grew warm, Chen Xi’s gradually grew uncomfortable. His adult-like calm disappeared, and he averted his eyes. “Mom sent me to discuss the ceasefire. What requirements do you have?”

Chen Sha couldn’t help patting his son’s head. He warmly said, “I’ll directly contact your mom to talk about these things. First live here, here in your mom’s old room. If you want to play or eat just let me know.”

Chen Xi was aghast.

He thought back to when his mom had told him, “Your dad knows how to deal with this. If he has concerns, he’ll directly contact me.” So Mom had already anticipated this would happen.

Qing Chu smiled and lightly coughed, about to speak up.

Suddenly, Chen Sha’s personal communicator began to shrilly beep. Each hurried message said the same thing:

“Look at the news! Something huge has happened within Aerdes!”

A foreboding feeling grew in Chen Sha’s chest; his heart began to quake. He immediately ordered Su Yi: “Turn on the news.”

The news had just turned on when Hong Jiu raced in, his voice panicked: “Ying Xian Luo Lan is dead!”

“What did you say?”

One big, one small, two voices. Identical, ferocious expressions. Their deathly stares fixed on Hong Jiu.

Hong Jiu unconsciously stepped back a step. “Ying Xian Luo Lan is dead,” he mumbled.

“Impossible!”

Once again, one big, one small, both spoke in unison.

Hong Jiu pointed to the screen, motioning for them to watch.

The once magnificent banquet hall was now a mess of gore and death.

Wine bottles lay overturned amidst the broken glass and crushed food scattered across the floor.

Hundreds of corpses were strewn across the hall, bathing the room with blood. The festive atmosphere of a feast lingered—a macabre celebration in a slaughterhouse.

Luo Lan stood alone in the room, surrounded by death.

Her feet were bare, one of her arms had been torn off at the elbow, her dress was ripped to shreds, her entire body was dyed with blood, yet her eyes were bright.

“…I hope that every child on Omines like my children will be able to safely grow up in good health, I hope every child on Alikarta like my children will be able to safely grow up in good health, I hope every parent like me on Ying Xian ship will be able to return to their children’s side, I hope every parent like me on Bei Chen ship will be able to return to their children’s side.

“I dream of world, a world where people respect difference and accept diversity, where people don’t live by the prejudices they were taught, where people don’t use violence to force others to change, where everyone can live with respect and dignity, where everyone has the power to pursue to their happiness. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to realize my dream, so I’ll be troubling you all, troubling every soldier on this ship, troubling every person listening to my words—please, help me realize my dream!”

Chen Sha suddenly reached out and wrapped Xiao Xi within his arms, pressing his small face to his chest, preventing him from watching what came next.

Xiao Xi furiously struggled. “Let me go! Let me go…”

Chen Sha only held him tighter, hoarsely saying, “Don’t look! Listen to me, don’t look…”

He himself could only unblinkingly watch the screen, watch as countless white tendrils pierced Luo Lan’s body, watch the bright red blood as it splattered.

Chen Sha thought he was in a dream.

A nightmare.

He always woke up from his nightmares, but he would never be able to wake from this one.

The bright lights flickered within the banquet hall.

Luo Lan had to have been in agony, but she only smiled as she leaned against the wall.

She raised her head, and a single tear ran down her cheek. Her lips faintly moved, as if she was whispering something.

By the time her tear fell, her body had completely vanished.

The banquet hall exploded into flame. A great fire raged reducing everything to dust and ashes in its wake.

Though Xiao Xi didn’t see anything, he’d guessed what had happened. He brokenly wept and cried out: “Mom! Mom…”

He savagely kicked and hit, clawed and bit, trying to break out of Chen Sha’s embrace.

Chen Sha tightly held him, his arms refusing to budge.

In that moment, he felt as if his heart had been pierced with a thousand arrows, his soul torn to pieces, his entire person reduced to ashes, but in that moment, he knew Luo Lan would not want their two children to see this scene.

Chen Sha witnessed his parents’ horrible death with his own two eyes—he knew how that kind of horror stayed for a lifetime.

In that moment, he clutched Xiao Xi. It was not just he who was protecting Xiao Xi, it was Xiao Xi who was protecting him. Without the lifeline in his arms, he did not know if he could still stand, let alone if he could function.

A moment ago, he’d felt the purest joy, thanking that his life was still long, that there was a chance, that there were many mornings and evenings [zhao xi] awaiting them.

In this moment, everything had turned to ashes.

Every misunderstanding—there was no making up for them now. Every mistake was now forever.

Xiao Xi had sobbed himself hoarse. He angrily cried, “Why? Why didn’t you go see Mom? Why did you turn around and leave…”

Chen Sha stood very straight, his eyes fixed unblinkingly at the haze of fire and ashes on the screen.

He thought back to the message he had received that late night.

The calls Luo Lan had made—he didn’t pick them up.

He thought about the gift she had sent him.

He had received it, not even bothering to open it before he threw it away.

He thought of that fated meeting on Piledo.

She was standing right there, but he did not move to see her, instead turning away and leaving.

Xiao Xi was right—why?

Why did he, who so obviously wanted to hear her voice, not pick up her call?

Why did he, who so desperately missed her, so coldly turn away when he saw her that day?

Why did he, who so clearly wanted to know what she had gifted him, refuse to open the box?

Why…

After Luo Lan’s death, aside from his first reaction, Chen Sha appeared very calm afterwards. He only worked even harder than before, for days and nights upon end, refusing to sleep or rest, eventually resolving all the difficult affairs.

(Tofu: next is just some exposition)

Federation Governor Chen Sha announced that Odin would surrender to Aerdes, shocking the galaxy.

Quyun President Amir announced Ying Xian Ye Jie Genetic Organization’s release of “Bi Xie,” the medicine that resolved sudden mutation, shocking the galaxy.

Ying Xian Chen Zhao’s status as a mutant evoked outrage, but due to Supreme Commander Lin Jian and royalty such as Ying Xian Shao Jia’s support, Ying Xian Chen Zhao ascended the throne.

Chen Sha pledged his loyalty and the federation to the new Aerdes Empress Ying Xian Chen Zhao. From that point on, the Odin Federation ceased to be.

Chen Sha video called Zi Yan. One was on Alikarta, one was on Omines.

They spoke about official matters, until finally a silence stretched.

Zi Yan spoke first: “I don’t know.”

He also wanted to know the words Luo Lan murmured moments before she disappeared, but no matter how many times he forced himself to watch the broadcast of her death, he still could not make out what she had said.

He knew Chen Sha wanted to help Luo Lan realize every one of her dreams. Perhaps a better way to put it was that Chen Sha only maintained a semblance of calm because Luo Lan’s dreams had not yet been realized.

“Oh.” Chen Sha moved to close the video call.

“Chen Sha.” Zi Yan’s voice stopped him. He gently said, “When was the last time you rested? Even if your capabilities are excellent, you can’t hurt yourself like this—this isn’t what Luo Lan wanted.”

Chen Sha silently nodded before hanging up.

It wasn’t as if Chen Sha forcibly stayed awake; he just never felt tired.

Although it was going on to be the eighth day he had not slept, he didn’t feel exhausted at all. Rather, the moments where he heard Luo Lan’s name offered an inexplicable peace of mind.

She was no longer of this world, yet it was if she still lived—he just couldn’t see her for now, that was all.

But he knew Zi Yan was right, he needed to rest, not because of his health, but because there were so many things he had not yet finished, so he had to live well.

Chen Sha grabbed a bottle of Pipe Dream and sat on his bed, taking a swig. (Tofu: Pipe Dream is an alcohol Luo Lan engineered for people of Chen Sha’s physical caliber.)

The two gift boxes lay next to his pillow.

One of the boxes was opened, the other was not—not because he forgot, but because he could not muster the courage.

Chen Sha sat, silently drinking the Pipe Dream. The buzz gave him the nerve to open the gift.

He gingerly tore the rose-themed wrapping paper and opened the box.

A music card came into view.

It was rather crudely made, clearly not store bought but handcrafted.

Chen Sha held his breath and opened it.

No words were written in the card. Only a sweet song drifted out, a song sung by a young boy and young girl.

Only when the last rose petal withers and falls
Will you stop chasing onward and realize you missed the most beautiful blooms
Only when the last snowflake melts
Will you stop hating the cold and realize you missed the beauty of winter

Chen Sha listened in a daze.

After a long while, he bent his head to look at the giftbox and found a neat array of ginger cookies. The cookie in the middle had five words etched on it:

Luo Luo

loves

Xiao Jiao

Pain lanced through Chen Sha’s heart. His body uncontrollably shook, the card in his hands falling to the floor, the two children’s song continuing to sound.

Only upon the tearful departure
Will you reminisce about the fading memories of bygone years
Only once you’ve lost something forever
Will you realize you never treasured it enough

The alcohol had reached Chen Sha’s head, and all he wanted was to immediately find Luo Lan, to tell her everything.

He stumbled to his feet, opened the safe near his bed, and took out the personal communicator locked within.

He didn’t expect a notification for an unread audio message to appear on the screen. The sender was Luo Luo. Excitement ran through Chen Sha, much of the alcoholic stupor lifting.

He didn’t dare believe his eyes—his breath came in big rattling gasps as he pressed the message.

Luo Lan’s weak voice drifted forth: “Chen Sha, I’m sorry! You…you have to…live…well.” I knew long ago that it would be this way, so I won’t force you to love me anymore. Just live as you do now, hating me.

The sound of the explosion sent her words into oblivion.

It was as if a frenzy had claimed Chen Sha. He furiously hit communicator, ordering, “Contact Luo Luo!”

The communicator called Luo Luo’s number again and again, endlessly ringing. Only the automatic voicemail sounded: “We’re sorry, the recipient is temporarily unavailable, please call back soon.”

Soon?

No problem, he could wait, ten years, several tens of years, a hundred years, two hundred years…a lifetime was fine.

As long as there was a chance to meet again…!

In this life they had met, separated, loved each other, abandoned each other, but there was still too much they hadn’t yet done, too much they hadn’t yet said.

He wanted to tell her, truly tell her that he loved her!

Not Xiao Jiao loves Luo Lan, not Chen Sha loves Luo Xun, but Chen Sha loves Luo Lan!

But there would never be a “soon,” not any longer…

Chen Sha clutched the communicator to his chest and weakly fell back on the floor, the endless grief running in tears down his face.

3 Comments

  • Rachel

    This is super depressing, I pity CS and at the same time I blame him for abandoning LL refusing for years to reply to her messages. And yet LL doesnt hate him and wish him well. The song expresses too well how you realize how important someone is when he is gone.

  • FranckOA

    Sorry but I will pass and come back when the rest as been translated.

    It’s really nice of you to take some of your free time to upload your translation of this novel online, but as a reader I always wanted to read the novel as the author as intended people to read it…
    IMHO if I like a novel enough to read it till the end it’s not only for the ending or I would have dropped it way before reaching it. If the author write something it’s usually not because typing on the keyboard make funny noises, so I would prefer to give him/her some credit (after all what he/she write is interresting enough to make me read a long ass novel), and read it as it was written instead of reading one chapter here and there ;o) .

    So I hope you’ll keep up and complete it one day, thanks again for the translation.

    • Tofu

      I completely understand—my Chinese was never the best when I first started reading Tong Hua’s novels (and it still isn’t), and I remember being frustrated at the gaps in the fan-made translations online. But I want to offer a gentle reminder that fan-based translators are just as much readers; we aren’t beholden to any set schedule/mandating as we aren’t being paid and are doing this out of our own time. Our translations are first and foremost projects for ourselves, so I hope fan translators are never held responsible for their efforts being “incomplete.” I’m sorry if you think my translating chapters out of order is discrediting Tong Hua; that was never my intention. But I still believe chapters out of order is better than none at all, so I will keep translating what I like, and by all means, keep reading what you like. Thank you for your maintained interest. 🙂

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