For some reason, it was always hard for others to refuse Jiang Liu.
The car driver was an old man. During this day and age, the only people who knew how to operate cars were old men. Yun Fan had no idea where Jiang Liu found this car from, but she knew that he was a really resourceful person, so she didn’t question him. As the old man drove the car, he talked to them. For a while he talked about how his life improved and that he could afford to buy a car, and then he mentioned that he hoped that an old geezer like him could do something right. Yun Fan pondered why a strange old uncle like him would say these things to them, and she wondered whether he was talking to her or to Jiang Liu. She had a feeling that this old man and Jiang Liu were old acquaintances, or at least the way he reminiscenced made him seem like he was an old acquaintance. However, the old man knew nothing about Jiang Liu, and he asked him where he was from and how many people were in his family. Yun Fan couldn't make sense of it.
Their car had been driving in the countryside for about ten minutes when suddenly they felt a gust of air swirling outside the window. The tree on the right began to lean towards the middle of the road, and leaves crackled as they rolled across. The waves seemed to pass into the car through the windows. Yun Fan looked out the window and was surprised to find that a silver-white low-altitude aircraft appeared in the front to the right. It had a polyhedral appearance and a streamlined design. Although the air current was brought up during the flight, the noise was not loud--- it was obvious that it was designed with advanced noise reduction technology. There was a barely noticeable logo on the side of the plane: Jiang Lang Trading ltc. It was evident that the plane belonged to the Jiang family.
"Damn it, Uncle Bo is stalking me like a ghost that refuses to dissipate." Jiang Liu mumbled when he saw the plane, "Uncle Wang, please turn left ahead and take the path in the woods."
"The small road?" The old man was taken aback. "That road is not easy to go through. The surface is uneven because of all the ridges in the farmland. In the past few years, the land has been barren since no one farmed in it and the weeds are overgrown. The car could easily get stuck."
As they were talking, bullets were shot from the plane and the shots went straight for the tires of their car. "Oh come on! What the heck is going on?" The old uncle exclaimed, and just as Jiang Liu asked him to, he abruptly turned into the path and drove through the scattered weeds in the field and woods. It was not easy for airplanes to fly over here, let alone shoot at them.
"This is your family's plane?" Yun Fan asked, "Why were they shooting at you?"
"Who knows?!" Jiang Liu said grimly, "Uncle Bo probably went crazy."
"Who is Uncle Bo? Does he want to kill you?"
"No. He just...wants to catch me and bring me back home."
"Catch you?" Yun Fan smiled, "What did you do that you needed to run away from?"
"It's a long story, I'll tell you later." Jiang Liu said, rubbing the ring on his left hand. The tattoo on his wrist lit up again. This time, there was an image directly displayed on his pale and strong forearm. He clicked it, scrolled up and down, and expanded the view until a red dot flashed on his arm.
"Uncle Wang, at the second intersection on the right, turn right and enter the nearby village. After entering the village, turn left into the second alley and stop in front of the courtyard." Jiang Liu said to the old man.
The old man obeyed. Before stopping, the plane caught up again and fired several bullets, one of which hit the wheel. Fortunately, the car had stopped already, and after the three people got out of the car, in a couple of steps, they rushed into the room through the open doors. As soon as they entered, the door of the house closed silently behind them.
While Yun Fan was still surprised, a middle-aged man dressed in shabby clothes came out of the house with crutches. He didn't say much. He asked them to sit on the few benches in the living room, and then he placed one hand in front of the other at chest level and motioned to Jiang Liu. Jiang Liu made a strange gesture in return--his pinky and middle finger were stretched out and the other fingers were held down. The middle-aged man and the old driver also made the same hand gesture. The fingers of Jiang Liu's left and right hand alternately overlapped, and he whispered "love each other, benefit each other" softly. The middle-aged man also alternately overlapped his fingers and replied "No mutual evilness, no mutual treachery". Then all three of them sat down. From then on, no more strange code words were exchanged.
"Who was chasing you?" The middle-aged man on crutches asked with a hoarse voice.
"Not really bad people," Jiang Liu said. "They’re from my family. I didn't want to go home, so they just..used excessive methods. Sorry that you had to see that mess."
"Why don't you want to go home..." the middle-aged man questioned.
Jiang Liu felt that there was something else to his words. He glanced at him and the middle-aged man was staring at the door the entire time. Jiang Liu turned his head and saw that there was a portrait on the wall near the door. There was a 17 or 18 year old boy smiling stupidly with his white teeth showing that was trapped within the black picture frame that had a white flower at the top1. Jiang Liu knew that he had touched a sensitive topic, and immediately turned silent.
"How have you been doing here?" he asked instead.
"It's alright; I found ways to get by. It’s nothing more than dragging my old body around with the little bit of life I have left." The middle-aged man said plainly.
"Don't say that," said the old driver. "If you’re old, what am I? Wouldn’t I be an old monster then? I think I'm still young. I think I've been useful in the past two years and I still want to accomplish important matters in the future."
"If you say that," the middle-aged man said, "then I would be able to accomplish much more than you."
Jiang Liu teased them, “The most important matter at hand right now is to have dinner”. He asked the middle-aged man if he could get them something random to eat, and the middle-aged man nodded when he heard his words. He told the old driver to go to the backyard to help him butcher a chicken. The two of them walked out of the house, leaving behind Yun Fan and Jiang Liu. Both of them had a lot to say, but they both hesitated to speak, and remained silent for a while.
"Aren't you going to explain?" Yun Fan asked.
"Explain what?" Jiang Liu smiled, "This question is the typical question a girlfriend will ask her boyfriend if she thinks he’s cheating. Do you think of me as your boyfriend?"
Yun Fan ignored him, "Earlier on, you said you will tell me why your family wants to catch you."
"Do you really want to know? You care that much about me?" Jiang Liu asked with a smile.
"I need to decide whether I should leave you out to sleep in the yard tonight, and if there are any dangers." Yun Fan said coldly, "If you don't want to say it, then fine. We should part ways from here on."
"Don't, don't." Jiang Liu hurriedly stopped her, "Of course you want to keep me, you must keep me. I'll explain to you." He briefly hesitated for 0.1 second as to what to say, and Yun Fan also clearly noticed his hesitation. "My dad wanted to take me back just because I accidentally leaked some of his confidential transaction data."
"What confidential transaction data?”
Yun Fan let out a quiet sound "Oh-", and leaned back lightly. She thought for a moment, and then asked, "Why are you familiar with so many of the locals here? As far as I know, you have lived in Beijing since you were a kid, and you went abroad during middle school. How do you have acquaintances near Qin Mausoleum?"
Jiang Liu smiled, "The virtual world is flat-- you should know that better than me. Don't I also know you?"
"Then why are you—"
"Wait a minute," Jiang Liu interrupted her, "You have asked me several questions; in order for things to be fair, it is now my turn to ask questions. Why do you live in the Qin Mausoleum by yourself?"
"Because this is my job. I do archaeological research." Yun Fan said.
"Then how did you know about the alien spacecraft?" Jiang Liu gently leaned forward.
"When doing archaeological research, it is inevitable to learn about all kinds of myths and legends that have been passed down since ancient times. I deduced it myself." Yun Fan was not afraid of looking into Jiang Liu’s eyes.
"What kind of myths and legends?"
"The ‘Yellow River Chart’, ‘The Inscription of River Luo’2 and the Egyptian pyramids during ancient times, the Yin and Shang bronzes and the Battle of Muye3 during medieval times, and the construction of the Qin Mausoleum and the Mayan pyramids near the beginning of the common era--- these were all the results of alien intervention. It was easy to deduce." Yun Fan said.
Jiang Liu chuckled and laughed: "When I was a kid, I also liked to read these 'Ancient Astronaut' books. I didn't expect some people to believe them. These ideas are too old and not interesting at all. Why don't you think about other stories instead?"
Yun Fan sat upright, and said to him sternly, "It’s fine if you don't believe me. I didn't expect you to believe me in the first place. If you don't believe me, then don't follow me around. I never lack people that love me, I only lack people that believe in me."
Looking at Yun Fan, Jiang Liu suddenly detected a trace of sadness in her words. He quickly restrained his flamboyant expression, and thought about what words he could say to remedy the situation. At this moment, the two uncles had already brought over several bowls of homestyled farm dishes. An automatic retractable dining table lifted out from the wall. It was standing upright against the wall before, and it was also a red brick color so it was not noticeable. After the dining table was flat, the empty wall automatically turned into a display screen, and the daily news began to play. It was obvious that this was the middle-aged man’s standard set-up. The dishes of the day were chicken and mushroom stew, omelet, braised pork and stir-fried cabbage. Although the foods were simple, the appearance and aroma were very attractive.
"Not bad." Jiang Liu said, touching the dining table, "When I first came in, and I saw you...I was worried..."
"Ah, my son and his wife are gone, and there is no one in the family, so my clothes are a little shabby." The uncle smiled.
"This table of dishes is really superb," Yun Fan said with a slightly amused tone. "Young Master Jiang never eats food that is not from a Michelin restaurant. He seems to be enjoying the food you made. Is the sun rising from the west?"
Jiang Liu gently kicked Yun Fan's foot under the table and shot her a look to tell her not to say anything. Yun Fan noticed that the two uncles had obviously heard her words, but they just looked at each other and then they both pretended that nothing happened. The meal then proceeded with dull chitchat. No one asked in-depth questions anymore, and they randomly picked some daily life topics to talk about. The meal turned out to be like an ordinary dinner between relatives. Both Yun Fan and Jiang Liu felt like this was an unreal experience. In their ordinary lives, both of them roamed on their own and ate alone. For many years, they had never had such a moment of being alive, and it was as if they accidentally stumbled into someone else’s lives.
That night, Old Uncle Wang left in his car through the main entrance, and he led the Jiang family’s plane away. The other old man used a motorcycle to send Jiang Liu and Yun Fan back to the park. On the road, Jiang Liu gently protected Yun Fan's waist with both hands.
At the same moment, in another enclosed park five kilometers away from the Qin Mausoleum, a young military researcher was called to the office by his immediate boss, General Yuan, the commander of the Pacific Northwest and Central Asian War Theater.
The military researcher named Qi Fei4 did not serve in the military, but instead, he served as the director of a classified research institute that was the military’s subsidiary. He was only twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old, but everyone who met him felt that he was mature and charismatic. He speaks wisely and logically, and his voice was powerful without being aggressive. In particular, when he spoke to his subordinates, his captivating aura would be fully presented. This effectively convinced the 100 plus people in the institute, many of which were older experts and researchers, to trust this young leader. Of course, everyone knew that Qi Fei was backed by Old General Yuan, who acted like a sturdy mountain to support him. Qi Fei held himself tall and upright, and was dashingly handsome, with eyebrows that were sharp and clean like swords. Everywhere he walked, people praised him for having both talent and looks and everyone gossiped that he was the future son-in-law chosen by Old General Yuan.
That night, when Qi Fei opened the door to General Yuan's office, he caught a glimpse of a dozen cigarette butts lying on the table. He knew that General Yuan must have encountered something frustrating that he couldn't solve, so he kept smoking. In the seven or eight years that he knew General Yuan, he had only encountered three moments like this before. The back of General Yuan's swivel chair was facing the doorway, and he was looking at the window. The large floor length window looked out to the flight line. Qi Fei knew that General Yuan chose this office because he wanted to see his beloved team at any time.
At this time, the night had just fallen, and the decorative lights were just turned on. A row of fighter aircrafts laid quietly on the runway. The general stared into the distance. Even if he couldn't see his face, Qi Fei could sense that the general was buried in deep thoughts.
"General Yuan." Qi Fei called out respectfully.
"Xiao Fei, you’re here." General Yuan turned around and motioned for him to sit down.
"Is there something bothering you?" Qi Fei asked.
"Xiao Fei, first of all, congratulations." General Yuan patted the surface of his desk and the display function on his desk was awakened. He retrieved some data, and described to Qi Fei, "The interception in Hawaii last night was very successful. Although the Atlantic attack was planned very spontaneously, our anti-missile system reacted very quickly. Only a side building and a short runway were lost, and the main body of the base was protected. Several bombs fell on the surrounding area and damaged some civilian houses, but the troops were barely affected. This is because your AI system has done a good job, and I will request for you to be awarded later."
"Credit goes to the collected intelligence too," Qi Fei said. "The day before, I heard that the Atlantic's strategy has turned towards the islands."
"Um...Speaking of intelligence..." General Yuan sighed, "Recently we have encountered five or six intelligence leaks and three hacks, but we haven't found the perpetrator yet."
"Wasn't it done by the Atlantic’s AIA?" Qi Fei frowned.
"No." General Yuan shook his head, "We know about the AIA’s general technique. Although quantum encryption is not easy to decipher, the signature is easy to identify. If they were the one behind it, we should have been aware of it."
"Is it the Red Sea then?"
"It shouldn't be. This time, the technology is more advanced--- much more advanced than what we investigated the technology on the Red Sea’s side to be.”
"That’s a bit odd." Qi Fei said, "but it's okay, don't worry, leave it to me. I’m going to look into the relevant information, and I promise to give you answers within seven days."
General Yuan nodded, "I’ll trouble you with that. However, the reason why I’m looking for you today is not because of this, but because of the monitored data at Qin Ling that you reported to me last week. I reported it to the Central Alliance Command Division, and they studied it. The subsequent reply was: ‘Immediately perform an onsite investigation, and be sure to find out the truth."
"The Central Alliance is paying this much attention to it?" Qi Fei was a little surprised.
"Yes. The main reason is that the signal you observed was very strange---no significant information can be detected from it, but it is a clear and continuous signal that is being sent out, and it is currently impossible to explain this behavior. The signal has an ultra-low frequency, which is not within any alliance’s communication frequency band, and there is a small amount of noise, and we don’t know what caused it." General Yuan showed the details of the analysis report to Qi Fei. "The most important questions are: ‘Why does the Qin Mausoleum have a signal sent out directly to outer space? What instrument was used? Who installed the instrument? What is the goal?’ The Qin Mausoleum is too close to us, so there is reason to suspect that there is an intelligence contact point installed by an opponent or a destructive organization. Be sure to investigate this thoroughly, and the sooner the better."
"As far as I know..." Qi Fei said, "The Qin Mausoleum has been in a semi-abandoned state in recent years, and only archaeologists..."
"Yes, that's exactly why it’s vulnerable to be taken advantage of by others. As the saying goes, ‘dark shadows exist near the lamp5’," General Yuan said firmly, "Seeing is believing. Go investigate tomorrow. The reason why I’m getting you to go is because the signal was discovered by your research group, and on the other hand, there’s also a personal reason. The caretaker guarding the Qin Mausoleum now is called Yun Fan, who is your old acquaintance. Go over there and see if there is anything odd about Yun Fan. "
Qi Fei listened, and did not answer back for about two or three seconds. It was as if he had a momentary server crash, but then he immediately collected his composure, "Understood."
"Qi Fei," At the end, General Yuan gave him a meaningful look, "There are some things that I can't tell you more about, but I think you are a person who can handle things with clear judgement. In the face of greater right and wrong, you can't stand on the incorrect side. I think you know best what is more important and what is less. By the time you finish this task, the credit for your previous achievement should be approved already, and we will give you a small celebration party. I’ll also tell everyone about you and Bai Lu. What do you think?"
Qi Fei lowered his head slightly, "I’ll follow the general's arrangements."
That night, Qi Fei stood on the top floor of the research institute, silently looking in the direction of the Qin Mausoleum. He stood in the quiet darkness for a long time. The lights were out and darkness enveloped the world. No one could see Qi Fei's expression, and no one could see his heart.
The Qi Fei that everyone wanted to see had made his appearance.
In regards to character relationships, everyone can make guesses and conduct discussions, but I will not give spoilers. I only want to say: Regardless of the relationships between the main characters are like, they are not lovestruck people. The male and female protagonists are not fixated on the idea of romance. Every single person has a goal in life that they are chasing after. They will ponder about their own life and actions, and achieve self-approval before they establish a relationship with others. They don't rely on relationships; relationships allow for better growth in their character.
Each of them have problems of their own to resolve. Problems in their inner thoughts, problems in their family, problems in character growth, problems of the world. They need to make use of their own perseverance and bravery to repair their own problems, and look for a more complete version of themselves. On top of this foundation, they will then becomes heroes that will save each other and the world. Every heroes need to repair themselves in order to repair the world.
In the story, they will encounter themselves first, and then mutually surround each other.
Black picture frame with a white flower
When a portrait of a person is placed in a black picture frame with a white flower, it means that the person has died.
‘Yellow River Chart’ and ‘The Inscription of River Luo’ 河图洛书
These were two cosmological diagrams used in ancient China by both Daoists and Confucians to explain the correlation of the hexagrams of the Yi Ying 易經 (Book of Changes) with the universe and human life, and for geomancy. (China Knowledge: An Encyclopedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art).
Battle of Muye
A battle between the Shang and the Zhou (and its allies) during 1046 BC; this was the earliest war that occured in Chinese history that could be proven with actual archeaological evidence.
Qi Fei 齐飞
His name can be literally translated into “flying together in unison”
Later when General Yuan calls Qi Fei as Xiao Fei, the “Xiao” means little. Adding the word “Xiao” in front of someone’s name is a common way to address someone who is younger than you.
Dark shadows exist near the lamp 灯下黑
This is a Chinese saying that literally translates to “the darkness under the lamp”. It refers to how people have a clouded judgement when they are involved in the situation, or are blind to their own weaknesses. This saying comes from the observation that when a lamp is turned on in the dark, the back side of the lamp is actually dark.