Interstellar Power Couple
Quality Check: Mukyuu
First Published on Chaleuria
T/N: We made a mistake in chapter 60 – the line where it says, ‘Or perhaps… the Prime Minister himself?!’ is meant to be ‘Or perhaps…someone working under the Party Leader himself?!’. There is no Prime Minister. Lei Jianying suspects that the old man who kidnapped him is a minion of Party Leader Li.
Chapter 62: The Bigger Child Fruit is Gone
To the Corps that were on the weaker side, inspections by their higher-ups were something to be dreaded, because it meant that their training would increase. So with the soldiers’ desire for a good grade, and the Captains’ needs to maintain their respective pride, most of the time, each Corps would put on more training right before the yearly inspection. The Holy Eagle Mega Corps, on the other hand, did not need to make changes because of the inspection, due to the already arduous quality of their daily training routine.
Due to the difference in time zones, and the fact that it would not be appropriate for the Captains to order thousands of soldiers to demonstrate at night, the higher-ups would usually carry out their inspections according to the examinee’s schedules. In a way, this worked to demonstrate their care for their subordinates too.
This time, the inspection group led by Party Leader Li arrived right after the Holy Eagle Mecha Corps finished their morning exercises. Their military-issue super fighter aircraft, carrying fifteen parliament members along with the Party Leader and Vice Party Leader, slowed down upon entering the airspace under the jurisdiction of the Holy Eagle Mecha Corps.
The Holy Eagle Mecha Corps was situated at the base of a towering mountain called Mount Eaglemouth. It was currently spring; trees were budding, the grass was greener, and the whole mountain seemed to overflow with vivacity. Having become used to the lush forests of Lin City, this was definitely a sight to see.
“The mountain was still white last time we came, yet flowers are blooming all over now.” Party Leader Li got off the aircraft and observed the big flower robots around the area, organized such that they looked neat without feeling bland. He laughed, “I’ve always felt that Cheng He was an interesting person, on top of being an excellent captain. Looks like I was right.”
Cheng He had gotten his hands on three enormous flower robots and placed them around the garden. Flower pots were fixed onto the robots, and each robot’s flowers had a different color scheme. All of the flowers were suited to the local environment and bloomed brilliantly. The three robots were arranged into two different poses; the one in the middle stood, whilst the other two were knelt on the ground, carrying on their shoulders lightweight cannons, as if about to shoot them.!
“You’re mistaken there, Party Leader. This was Shan Yang’s idea.” Cheng He unabashedly pushed the blame on Instructor Doll.
“This is embarrassing.” Dan Yang laughed as he spoke, but he gritted his teeth inwardly. He wanted nothing more than to march over and dig his fist in Cheng He’s face. Some idiot had suddenly decided to mention at the beginning of spring that the colour scheme of the Corps looked too muted and that it lacked in liveliness, suggesting that it needed some colour! The stupid idiot. They were an army unit, so what if they looked muted? Why the h*ll would they need colour?!
“Like leader, like soldiers. Looks to me that both Cheng He and Shan Yang take after General Si. They have a fine attention to details beneath their rough exterior.” Zuo Zhihuan chuckled, “It looks pretty good, and it adds some cheer to the Corps. It shows the Mecha Corps’ specialisation too. Looks like I’ll need to get myself some when I go back.”
Xiao Zhicheng sighed. “If I knew earlier I would’ve gotten them to file a patent.” Xiao Zhicheng looked the very picture of disappointment, and shook his head as if he meant it. There was no hint of nervousness or wariness in his expression at all, making him difficult to read.
Weapons Depot No. 6 was about two kilometres away from the landing area for the aircrafts. Every time the higher-ups came to inspect their troops, they mainly surveyed their lifestyle and the results of their training. Although there have been cases where the weapons depots were inspected, it wasn’t as common.
The Vice Party Leader glanced at Xiao Zhicheng. He couldn’t help but wonder. Did Xiao Zhicheng feel so confident that they wouldn’t go to the weapons depot? Or did he send away the things they wanted to see beforehand? He turned around and shot a look at a nearby soldier accompanying them. The soldier didn’t bat an eyelid as he pressed on the screen of his communicator for five seconds.
As if he did not see this, Xiao Zhicheng continued walking with the group towards the training grounds.
“Marshal Xiao, I heard that your youngest son is enlisted here?” Boomed Marshal Xiao, from the Eastern Hua District.
“Yes. Originally, both he and Lei Jue were here, but after the birth of my eldest grandchild they applied for special leave, so they aren’t in the Corps as of now.” Xiao Zhicheng couldn’t hide the gentle smile on his lips as he spoke.
“I saw the news, your eldest grandson is incredible, not only inheriting both parents’ powers, but even the rank of his powers is high. I remember thinking then that this child can’t be easy to raise.” The Western Moon District’s Marshal Bai had experience with raising children himself. At the thought of his son, the smile on his face turned gentle. “When my boy Yu Jiang was little, he liked playing the freeze game. He could freeze just about anything that had water in it. Whenever you tried to give him milk, he’d freeze it, so I was the one who had to raise him.”
“You’re spot on. The only ones who can hold him in our family are Lingyu, Lei Jue and I.” Xiao Zhicheng was overjoyed that he could hold his grandchild, although he lamented the fact that he had only been able to hold the child a grand total of two times by now because of how busy he was. He had bad timing too—his grandson had been asleep both times.
It was almost unbelievable that he hadn’t even seen his grandson’s open eyes even now.
“Time passes so fast. I can’t believe Lingyu’s a father now.” Party Leader Li smiled, “Alright, we’ll discuss this later, when the child’s a month old. Let’s go look around now. Do you guys think we should go to the training grounds first or some other place?”
“Let’s go to the weapons depot.” The Vice party Leader said, “Cheng He, your weapons are the newest in the whole army, are they not?”
“Yes, Sir.” Cheng He replied, “The equipment research and development team will equip the best troops first whenever they come up with new equipment.”
“Hey, you’re just boasting about yourself now.” As their direct superior, Si Wannian actually quite approved of his subordinates’ words, but he needed to at least look humble.
“They are the best though, nothing wrong with a little praise.” Party Leader Li said. “Senior Colonel Cheng, how about you recommend us a route. Don’t think of our visit today as an inspection either, just take it as you taking a bunch of old guys on a tour. We’ll take our leave after a quick look around.”
“What scenic sites do you leaders want to tour through then?” Cheng He smiled, taking it all in stride as he said, “If we continue forwards along where that car is pointed, we’ll see, in order, the training grounds, the mecha storage, the weapons depot, the cafeteria, the dorms, and the farms.”
“Then let’s go in this direction, and take our time strolling through each.” Party Leader Li then turned around and asked the others, “What does everyone think?”
“We’ll do as you suggest.”
“That’s right. The fact that the training grounds come first is a good thing.” Zuo Zhihuan said, “The Holy Eagle Mecha Corps’ soldiers take first place every year in the yearly martial arts competition. Marshal Bai, Marshal Zhao, let us go see how Cheng He trains his soldiers.”
“We should.” The other generals replied, entering the buggy waiting for them at the side.
The Vice Party Leader didn’t voice an opinion. He watched the soldiers train with the others once they arrived at the training grounds. Although he had long since bid farewell to the army, he couldn’t help but admit that the Holy Eagle Mecha Corps indeed had the best overall discipline in the army. Any one of them could easily complete what would be considered a difficult task in other troops.
This had nothing to do with him of course. The thing he was interested in wasn’t here, after all.
Marshal Zhao’s spirits lifted as he watched. His soldiers at the Eastern Hua District, and the ones at the Northern Ling District were taller and buffer than the soldiers in the other districts, and fought with more power too. Every time he thought about it he would feel that, compared to the other three districts, his and Northern Ling’s soldiers were so much stronger!
Si Qing and Qi Yu were present too. They were even called on by Party Leader Li to come out individually and spar. A few onlookers had been wondering to themselves whether these undisciplined fops had improved any after enlisting, but after seeing them fight, they realised that they had been underestimating these brats before; it had only been a short time, but they had improved so much!
“I’ve been wondering why General Si and General Qi have been looking so proud and happy at our meetings these days. So it was because of their sons.” Zuo Zhihuan commented. “Old Xiao, looks like I might have to send my second son over too.”
“Sounds good.” Xiao Zhicheng smiled. He looked very casual as he watched the soldiers train. Only once did his gaze sweep over to the weapons depot, and the worry in his eyes was only there for a split second.
The soldiers trained exceptionally diligently, and the inspection group stopped for quite a while at the training grounds. In past inspections, the inspections were done in separate groups, each group comprised of two leaders. Inspections done in groups as large as this one were unprecedented.
The mecha storage was supposed to come after the training grounds, but a third of the mechas had been in use today at training, so the inspection group had already seen it. There was thus no need to stop at the mecha storage, so someone suggested heading directly for the weapons depot. Since it was a logical suggestion, no one had any objections to it.
“Weapons depots number one and two are where the heavy artillery is stored, and three through to six hold the smaller arms.” Che Heng then gestured for the guards to open the entrances to all the depots. Six entrances were thus revealed to the group. From the outside, it appeared that although the designs for the two types of depots were different, they followed much the same style.
The weapons were all locked in their special storage cases, and needed to be unlocked to be viewed, There were so many boxes however that it would be unreasonable to ask them to open every single one. Moreover, the Northern Ling District wasn’t the only one that had the newly developed weapons by the research team, and on top of that, rather than the weapons, the main purpose of the inspection team was to examine the soldiers’ discipline and training. Party Leader Li thus suggested only sampling a few random storage cases.
The Vice Party Leader didn’t object, saying, “Let’s do as the Party leader says.”
Party Leader Li smiled, entering Weapons Depot No. 1. After looking about No. 1, accompanied by Cheng He’s explanations, he walked to No. 3.
Si Wannian glanced at Xiao Zhicheng when no one was looking. He saw that Xiao Zhicheng’s face was blank, but it didn’t stop him from worrying. He knew that Xiao Zhicheng had hidden something important here, he just wasn’t sure whether it could remain hidden.
Party Leader Li said, “Okay, let’s go look at the other places.”
Everyone followed behind him as they headed out. Out of nowhere however, weapons depot number 6 let out a blaring siren!
“What’s going on?” Party Leader Li frowned, asking.
“Someone’s attacking our defense system, so the system sounded a siren.” Che Heng answered after asking someone about the situation. “This has happened a few times recently, probably the work of some hacker organisation, but they haven’t succeeded before. We’re currently working with the police to find the perpetrators.”
“Let’s go inside to see if anything’s wrong.” The Vice Party Leader was all but preaching ‘we need to be exceptionally careful at times like these’ right now. “Your weapons here are based on artificial intelligence, aren’t they? We musn’t let anyone touch their systems.”
“Artificially intelligent weaponry aren’t connected to the internet before use, so there shouldn’t be any problems.” Xiao Zhicheng replied, “Please be at ease, everyone.”
As if to contradict him however, the siren sounded again right after he finished speaking.
The Vice Party Leader sighed. “I think it’s best to give it a look at least.”
Xiao Zhicheng would look suspicious if he refused again, so he could only nod, and thus the group walked into Weapons Depot No. 6. Although it looked no different from numbers 3, 4, and 5, the Vice Party Leader was convinced that there must be something hidden here. Thus, while he ordered the soldiers on guard to open the cases holding the weapons, his eyes roved around the place. He didn’t find anything on this level though.
Che Heng and Lu Xian were the ones on guard today, their faces blank.
It was then that Party Leader Li asked, seemingly casually, “Are the weapons stored separately from their power cards?”
The question was directed at Cheng He, so Cheng He could only reply, “Yes.”
As if he’d suddenly understood something, the Vice Party Leader fiddled a bit with his communicator. “Looks like it’s in the levels below. Open it up for us, I’ve heard so many times that despite being the exact same power cards, the ones at the Northern Ling District function the best. Let us see today what makes the difference.”
“The power cards for the weapons aren’t in this depot, if the Vice Party Leader wants to see them, please move to Depot No. 5.” Cheng He said.
“Oh? My communicator shows that there is airflow and energy masses below us though. Are weapons already loaded with power below us then?” The Vice Party Leader knew that he was acting a bit too weird, but he didn’t have much time left.
“No.” This time it was Xiao Zhicheng who answered. “The weapons are all stored on the upper levels.”
“Then what’s stored below us?” The Vice Party Leader ordered, “Cheng He, could you open up the pathway so we can go down and take a look?”
Cheng He didn’t reply. Xiao Zhicheng nodded, and Cheng He and Lu Xian opened the entrance together. It was the first time the three protective barriers had been opened to an outsider, revealing what was hidden underground—a wide expanse of soil, with a large, and very fragrant, tree planted in it. Aside from a big fruit, there was nothing else on the tree.
“Why is there a tree here?” Party leader Li looked very curious, as did everyone else.
“It grew by itself. We thought it smelled nice, so we let it continue growing till now. It’s not like we need this space.” As Xiao Zhicheng spoke, he swept a glance over the place where the bigger child fruit was supposed to be. It was empty. His two precious grandsons were not here right now.
Back at the Xiao Residence, Xiao Lingyu and Lei Jue stared at their second son and eldest daughter, who had cracked open their shell and came out right after the branch clipping they’d been grafted onto had arrived home. Big eyes stared into small ones. The second son had metal elemental abilities, while the eldest daughter had wood elemental abilities. The main point was, however, the fact that their heads had. No. Sprouts!