QZ Chapter 4
Quality Checker: MochiMochi95
First Published on Ainushi.
Ling Xiao was not very interested in finding his partner from his previous life, but what Shen He said had obviously caught Ying Feng’s attention. Seeing how Ying Feng turned back because of it, Ling Xiao pretended to be interested as well and stayed.
“The Base has the secret of how to find one’s partner from the previous life? Are you sure about it?” Ying Feng asked.
“No, I’m not certain.” Shen He answered with no sense of guilt whatsoever. “I only know this rumor, and I can’t promise that the rumor is true.”
“If you don’t even know whether the information is accurate or not, then aren’t you just a profiteer?” Ling Xiao interrupted.
“Whether I’m a profiteer or not, depends on the demand of whom I’m trading with. While some people might think this information is useless, there will be someone else who’s willing to offer a good price, even if it’s to bet on low odds.”
“I don’t believe it. Who’s going to buy information that’s not even guaranteed to be accurate? There must be something wrong with his head then.”
“Tell me the price.” Ying Feng demanded shortly.
Ling Xiao could not believe what he had just heard. “You want to buy it?”
Shen He was even more straightforward than him. He simply put up five fingers.
“THAT expensive?” Ling Xiao now felt that the term “profiteer” wasn’t even enough to describe Shen Qiao, the price he gave was no less than two-months’ worth of their living expenses.
“I’m actually giving you the friends’ discount, considering that you are Nestlings and also happen to be my schoolmates. If an outsider wants to buy it, this number is far from enough.”
Ling Xiao still wanted to say something, but when he turned his eyes, he saw Ying Feng already taking out his ID card.
“A straightforward person like you is exactly the type of customer I like. ” Just as Shen He was about to take it, someone suddenly blocked his hand right there.
“Wait a minute!” Ling Xiao stopped the two of them. Both parties in the transaction looked at him simultaneously.
“Are you really buying it?” Ling Xiao asked Ying Feng.
“Does it concern you?” Ying Feng shot back.
Ling Xiao thought about the balance on his card, then clenched his teeth and decided, “I want to invest too. I’m going to buy it together with you.”
But Ying Feng was not moved by his suggestion at all. “If you want to know, then buy it yourself.” After he finished, he tried to hand over his card again.
This time, Ling Xiao simply grabbed his wrist. “This suggestion benefits you as well, doesn’t it? At least it can save you half the amount.”
Ying Feng looked at Ling Xiao, then at Shen He. The latter only shrugged and said, “It doesn’t matter to me. Anyway, I will only say it once, so it makes no difference to me whether one or both of you are listening to it.”
Since even Shen He said so, Ying Feng finally compromised, “Okay.”
While they were swiping the card, Ling Xiao secretly peeked at Ying Feng’s account. ‘This guy actually saved this much! No wonder he didn’t even blink before the transaction.’ In contrast, Ling Xiao, who basically had no savings, had yet to think about how to live through the long period of bankruptcy that was about to come after this impulsive decision.
“Can you tell us now?” Ling Xiao’s heart ached as he saw the balance on his card turn into a single digit. He said to himself, ‘if the information is not accurate, I’ll definitely come back and tear down this shop.’
“Of course.” Shen He toyed with the ring on his finger. “It all began with the former Chief Researcher in the Base, Tai Yin. Even though it is a piece of cake for a high-level manager working in the Base to find out the identity of a soul after it reincarnates, this action is strictly prohibited by law.”
“Why?” Ling Xiao could not resist interrupting.
“It’s to protect the stability of the spousal system on Tianxiu Planet. If you continue listening, you’ll understand.”
Shen He organized his thoughts and continued smoothly after Ling Xiao’s interruption, “This researcher named Tai Yin was a genius in the science field. His most famous invention is a chemical medicine which can increase a person’s combat ability by an enormous amount in a very short time. The Military Ministry has named this medicine ‘Embers’.”
“Isn’t that the illegal drug that only the military is allowed to use?” The name ‘Embers’ was so famous that even Ling Xiao had heard about it.
“That’s right. Tai Yin made numerous significant inventions throughout his life, and ‘Embers’ is only one of his many well-known works. One of the reasons that he was able to have such distinguished achievements is his outstanding ability, while the other reason is his long life. The last time he appeared in front of the public, he was already four hundred and thirty six years old in Adult stage. Even among the Tianxiu people, it is still considered a long life.”
“More than four hundred years…” Ling Xiao sighed, wondering what it would feel like to live for such a long time.
“But a long life has its defects as well. The longer one lives, the more partings one will witness. In the later half of Tai Yin’s life, he personally witnessed all the people he loved leaving him one after the other. Although, in general, Tianxiu people handle death quite well, but after his beloved Qizi came to the end of his life and sunk into hibernation, he inevitably took to evil ways.”
“Taking the advantage of his job, he marked the soul of his Qizi. After the other person’s reincarnation woke up, he kidnapped the Nestling who was completely ignorant of his previous life and secretly imprisoned him. ”
Ling Xiao was shocked. “But Dr. Yao said every soul only gets one chance per life for an Adult Ceremony. Even if their spouse has passed away, they still can’t become partners again with other people.”
“What you said is completely right. Therefore, Tai Yin and the reincarnation of his Qizi also ended up in such a deadlock–he couldn’t have the other person, but he didn’t allow anyone else to have him either. That Nestling was forced to keep the appearance of a juvenile, unable to mature, unable to become Adult. Now you know why the law strictly prohibits tracking down the reincarnation of souls.”
Ling Xiao’s brows were deeply furrowed.
“Of course, Tai Yin himself was even more concerned about the problem than you. Therefore, before the time his actions came to light, he had been secretly researching the method to remove the original spousal relationship. Unfortunately, his research soon came to a halt due to the betrayal of his student, and that Nestling, who after trying every possible methods, was finally able to break out with the help from that student. He reported Tai Yin’s actions to the Military Ministry, and the truth was thus made public.”
“What happened afterwards?” Fascinated by the story, Ling Xiao was urged to question more.
“Right when the Military Ministry tried to publicly arrest him, he injected the upgraded version of ‘Embers’, which was twenty times more effective than the original ‘Embers’, into himself, broke through the military encirclement by himself, and captured that innocent youth again. Since then, the whereabouts of the two of them has remained a mystery, and they are still fugitives even till today. ”
Shen He’s cursory account of the event was enough to reconstruct the heart-stirring tension of the site in Ling Xiao’s mind. His only regret was that he couldn’t personally witness the storm and chaos during that time.
He was still sighing over the event when he heard Ying Feng asking, “The reason that Tai Yin was able to find his Qizi from previous life was because he took advantage of his job. To me, this information is completely useless.”
Shen He’s expression seemed to be saying ‘I knew you would ask’. “It’s true that Tai Yin found his Qizi from previous life in that way, but while he was researching on how to remove the relationship, he accidentally discovered the method to identify whether two people have been lovers in their previous life, and the method is said to be recorded inside his personal computer.”
“Then how can I find that computer?”
“So far, that computer is still stored in his laboratory, and his laboratory is located somewhere inside the Base.”
“Somewhere?” Ling Xiao found this word a little too vague.
Shen He took out a small microchip and threw it into the air. As he zoomed in using his thumb and forefinger, the chip expanded into a map.
“This is the floor design of the entire Base. I’m sure you’ll need it. The value of this map alone is already greater than the amount you paid for the information. In addition, I’m lending you this out of our friendship.”
“What’s this?” Ling Xiao watched him handing over to Ying Feng something that looked like a memory stick.
“Even if you find Tai Yin’s computer, you still can’t enter his personal system. This is an all-purpose decoder. It can automatically decipher his password. But let’s make this clear, I’m only lending it to you. Please make sure that you don’t forget to return it after you come back from the Base.”
The day for the long-anticipated second Health Class finally came. After the tenth graders in Bikong Institute arrived at the Base’s main entrance by airplane, they were immediately shocked by the lofty and magnificent statue of the word “Zero” in front of the gate. This simple word “Zero” was actually the real name of the Base, whereas “Base” was just a word this place was commonly referred to as.
“Zero (Ling),” Ling Xiao read out the word as if he was reciting a poem. Just as Lan Sheng and the others thought he was going to make some profound speech, they heard him continuing, “Xiao was here.”
“You idiot!” Lan Sheng kicked him right on his butt.
“What’re you doing?” Ling Xiao kneaded his pain-inflicted butt and argued, “Don’t you feel I have a destined relationship with this word?”
“I only feel that you’re very stupid.” Lan Sheng looked like he could not bear the scene anymore. “Don’t stain this last name.”
A group of people surrounded the word ‘Zero’, looking and walking around it incessantly, and many students took a photo with it as a memento. The team leader Yao Tai waited till they had enough fun with it before she asked.
“Does anyone know why this place is named Zero?”
The students looked at each other, and shook their heads in complete ignorance.
Yao Tai disclosed seriously, “Zero is the beginning point of all positive numbers, and the ending point of all negative ones. In a number line that extends to infinity, it forever occupies the most central position. To us Tianxiu people, this place is the beginning point where we become sentient, and it’s the ending point where we fall back to silence. Even more so, it is the middle point of our soul.”
“After we finish walking the path of our life, no matter where we are, our souls will return to this place, rest for a brief while, and be purified, until a new body is born, then we will walk into our new life after hibernation. Let’s look that way.” Yao Tai pointed to the tallest building to the north, “That’s our Soul Lighthouse. Its bright light gives directions to the deceased Tianxiu people. If it collapses, then our souls will get lost. Therefore, every generation of Tianxiu people need to bear on their shoulders the responsibility to guard the Lighthouse, and it’s the same for all of you in the future.”
The students looked at the distant, towering Lighthouse. A solemn sense of belonging spontaneously sprung up in their hearts at the same time.
“I think I hear a voice calling for me.” Ling Xiao mumbled to himself.
“Me too.” Lan Sheng’s eyes also lost focus. “It’s like there is something attracting me to go over.”
Ling Xiao looked at it in silence for a while, then he turned around and found Ying Feng, who was away from the crowd but was also gazing at the place in distance. The expression on his face was still cold and indifferent, but there was an unusual softness deep in his eyes.
Ying Feng’s senses were keen, and he quickly sensed someone watching him. As he turned his head, the softness in his eyes disappeared in an instant, and his usual cold, fierce glance met straight with Ling Xiao’s.
Like a child caught misbehaving, Ling Xiao turned his head back at lightning speed, his heart went pit-a-pat.
After quite a while, he finally calmed down. ‘Why did I dodge with a guilty conscience?’
Thinking about this point, he glared back at him in a fit of pique, but found out that Ying Feng’s attention was no longer on him. He started feeling sulky, and the feeling refused to go away.
“What are you staring at? Let’s go.” Lan Sheng gave Ling Xiao a pull, and he finally realized that most of the groups had already moved forward. He immediately quickened his steps to catch up with them.
Yao Tai guided everyone as she introduced the facilities along the sides of the road, “Here is the Purification Pool. Every soul will take a short rest here after it returns. The religious people say that this is to wash away the sins from the previous life, but in the eyes of scientists, it’s more like a place to clear away memories.”
The outer shell of the Purification Pool was a transparent cover. Through it, people could see the dark blue water inside.
“I’m personally more inclined to the theory that apart from memories, it can also clear away the impurities in our souls. After living as a material existence for many years, it’s impossible that there are no negative emotions accumulated in a soul. After rinsing itself inside the Purification Pool, impurities will be completely removed, and the soul will once again return to a pure spiritual substance.”
“In that case, if a person does not enter the Purification Pool, will they be able to keep their memories from the previous life?” A girl asked.
“That’s an invalid hypothesis. This is a path the returning souls must go through. Without passing through the Purification Pool, a soul cannot enter the Hall of Reincarnation.”
The students nodded. ‘So that’s how it works.’
“And here, is the Tree of Souls which nurtures all souls. The initial birth of every single soul is originated from here.” Yao Tai pointed to a great tree at a distant place. “Every soul fruit has to absorb the essence of the nature and extract the spiritual influence of all living things in order to grow. Only after a hundred years of nurturing, can it finally ripen. One can see just how precious the existence of souls is to us.”
Everyone stared at it. On such a big treetop, there was only a fist-sized, fruit-like ball of light. If a person did not look carefully, they could not even realize its existence.
“Why is there only one soul that’s growing?”
“It wasn’t like this a long time ago. Maybe the Tree of Souls thinks that the population of souls on the planet is already saturated.” Yao Tai gave a rather ambiguous explanation. “For the past thousand years, all newborn souls have been growing at this slow rate. Researchers are unable to stimulate its growth regardless of the efforts they put in. Fortunately, the existing souls will not wither away easily, therefore we have never encountered a population crisis.”
As they were walking, they passed by a building. That building was unremarkable. Its pitch-black outer walls were almost completely devoid of any decoration. No matter how one looked at it, the building could not stir the desire for a person to enter it–its oppressive architectural style could only make them want to escape.
However, Ling Xiao felt that building somehow attracted him a lot, and he glanced at it a few times subconsciously.
“Dr. Yao, what’s that place?” Seeing that Yao Tai had no intention of introducing it, he decided to ask himself.
Yao Tai sighed, knowing that she still wasn’t able to avoid the question in the end, so she had to tell them the truth.
“That’s the Hall of Nightmares. Before, that’s where death penalty was executed.”