Yan Xueshan never chose his partner, he always accepted whomever was assigned to him by the army.
Moreover, as his service time became longer and more and more of his partners died, there were other divisional officers who said, explicitly or implicitly, that he was so tough it might be hard for him to be paired up again.
He thought that no melee fighter would dare to partner with him, so a foolish inexperienced young man was assigned to him.
Yan Xueshan pondered for a moment.
Just for a moment.
Forget it, he won’t think about it, it didn’t matter.
Seeing him thinking for a while, Arthur raised his head. He waited for Yan Xueshan to ask questions, already planning how to tease him in his mind.
However, what he heard Yan Xueshan say was: “When we were partners, I never heard you talk about your sister. You and she must have been very close siblings, right?”
Arthur was stunned, his heart suddenly breaking in pieces.
The person he liked was such a person. Everyone said Yan Xueshan was cold and inconsiderate, but only he knows how gentle Yan Xueshan really was.
That wasn’t related to his mental disorders, or something he deliberately did, it was tenderness that came directly from his soul.
Arthur pretended to talk about his past plainly. “It’s okay. Actually I was never really close to my sister.
“When I was very young, maybe three or four years old, I liked to play with her since children like to play with older children. She wasn’t a ladylike girl and seemed to dislike me a lot, and she only treated me well if she wanted me to run errands for her.
“She also liked to make me cry for fun, scared me all of the time and often fought with me about nothing or who would watch TV.
“She would stealthily put things she didn’t like to eat onto my plate at dinner time, and always cheated me out of my snacks.
“Later, when I was a teenager and had friends of my own, I would go out with my classmates, play soccer and baseball, and come home covered in mud. She would always scold me for that.
“In our family, when I was rebellious, I wasn’t afraid of disobeying my dad but I was really afraid of my sister.
“She was different from me. She was the eldest daughter of the family and close to our father. When she was born, my mother was sick, so my father took her with him everywhere to take care of her. He even made a cradle bed in the mecha training room, and she stood up while leaning on the fence or squatted down when she saw mechas moving, giggling.”
At this point, Arthur laughed again. “She was a fan of mechas since she was a child, always pulling me along and forcing me to listen to her collection of information. It annoyed me so much.”
Yan Xueshan quietly listened but didn’t show pity in his gaze; just like a bystander he listened carefully, without any emotions.
When Arthur stopped, he asked, “What happened next?”
Arthur continued. “Our mom didn’t actually want me or my sister to join the army, she just wanted us to stay safely back home and grow up. She never expected us to follow in our father’s footsteps.
“Against her wishes, my sister went ahead and signed up privately. Mom was notified just a day before her departure. She went to our father and asked him to use his Presidential privileges to cancel her spot, but he refused and they had a big fight.”
Yan Xueshan suddenly remembered something. Because it was such a long time ago, it was a bit more difficult to recall. Probably around the day Yan Xueshan graduated, he had indeed heard that there was a very powerful Master Sergeant, a genius girl who came out of nowhere. Unfortunately, just like a shooting star, she fell before she could really shine.
She was killed when she was still a newcomer.
Yan Xueshan couldn’t guarantee that, if he encountered several terrible sieges when he first joined the army, he would be able to escape successfully. No, it was very likely that he would fail too.
He didn’t think he was very powerful. Among the fallen soldiers, there were definitely some who were more powerful than him, he just survived till the end.
If others had survived, they might have become more legendary than him.
For example, when his adoptive father first took him to learn to use a sniper rifle, he taught him the essentials once, but he missed two of the three shots. Only one shot landed, but it was still on the sideline of the range.
Even so, his adoptive father rubbed his head and happily praised him. “My little Yan is really good, he was able to hit with his first show. Maybe our little Yan is a genius.”
He believed it and thought he was really good, but later realized that those were just the words used to coax a child.
He didn’t think he was gifted.
He was only able to be calmer than others because of his illness, and worked harder in training because of survival.
Yan Xueshan remembered the time when he learned the news of his adoptive father’s death.
He was still in high school and it was around the time to think about which direction to take.
When his adoptive father communicated with him, he’d said, “I will discuss it with you next time I am on vacation. I have already researched several schools for you. Then we will choose the one you like best together. You don’t have to worry about tuition fees, just get admitted. I can always get money for it.”
It was their last conversation.
Arthur happened to say something similar. “The last time I talked to my sister, we even had an argument. She took the latest headphones I bought with her and I asked her to return them to me. She said she just borrowed them and told me she would return them next time she returned home.
“Later, when I was organizing the belongings that would be buried with her, I also put that pair of headphones in.”
“I was stupid when I was young, and I couldn’t imagine that so many things could end one day. If I could go back in time, I would definitely not quarrel with her, but tell her, ‘Okay, sis, if you like them, I will give them to you.
“It was years later I thought that if I could meet her soul, she wouldn’t look dejected.”
Arthur imagined it, and said with a smile, “Now I’m older than she ever was. Maybe she would be proud of me and say ‘See, your sister will be forever young and beautiful.”
Yan Xueshan said, “She was a really interesting person. It would’ve been nice to meet her.”
Arthur nodded. “Well, she would’ve liked you, too.”
Finally, Arthur said, “As I said, I never started learning mecha out of love. At that time, I was just a child who didn’t know his limits. Blinded by hatred. It was only later, after seeing you in action that I felt from the bottom of my heart that piloting a mecha could be so pleasing to the eye, like another form of art.
“Now, I can say that I love being a Master Sergeant.”
It was probably due to talking about past events, but Yan Xueshan also remembered that he had several relics of his adoptive father with him.
The first thing Yan Xueshan did when he moved to the farm wasn’t actually farming, but moving his adoptive father’s ashes from the cemetery.
He built a new tomb on a hill with the best view of the farm and planted a ficus tree to shelter the tombstone from the wind and rain.
He remembered the item in his study. Yan Xueshan dug out his adoptive father’s diary of when he served. He’d read it once before, but it was more than ten years ago.
The paper on the inside pages have turned yellow and were worn, so you had to be careful when you turned pages for fear of breaking them.
Only a desk lamp was lit.
He sat in a luminous lamplight haze and looked at the notebook. On each page was not only the date but also a sketch of a child. These spontaneous drawings were very interesting as he wrote some sentiments of what happened that day.
Yan Xueshan couldn’t help but turn each page, until the last page.
On the last page, his adoptive father wrote one sentence with a strong and gentle handwriting.
[To my son Yan Xueshan,
Fame is not a plant that grows on mortal soil, you are not mortal soil, whether you like it or not. ]
The next day, Yan Xueshan contacted Arthur, so that Arthur could give his reply to Dr. Brandon.
He accepted the part-time job as a mecha test pilot.
Edited by: Antiope1