"Did you discover anything?" asked Huang Baiyi.
Ye Chong was obliged to scout the area daily to look for the way out here. Well, Huang Baiyi had done that before, while being a little pessimistic, he still asked Ye Chong in a concerned manner.
"Nope," shook Ye Chong. He in fact had yet discovered a path out here. There were technically two and two directions only, where one led towards the Black Forest, the other led up the slope to the peak at which one would be welcomed by the deadly cliff. It did not sound so bad if one possessed a mech. Leaving the place would only be a matter of time even with a Raven. Unfortunately, sadly, coincidentally, Ye Chong just had nothing in his hand. The waist bag of all technology and hope in his possession had already been handed to Rui Bing during the emergency back then.
Technology is truly strength! The truest hope!
That was the lesson of his life.
"Well, take your time. You would get it someday. Not like we are in a hurry anyway," comforted Huang Baiyi, who had gotten used to the place over the course of 10 years. He was practically cold-hearted on ever leaving the place. It was rather satisfying that god decided to bestow him a companion in this labyrinth.
"Mhm," muttered Ye Chong as he twisted the grilling fish. If there was no other way out, then he had to join the Black Forest again. So there was this deep pond with fish of a particular species about the size of his palm and tasted fair. It would not be a chore to get some fancy spices from the forest to enhance their meals but passing the valley had become a taboo for him ever since those horrible lifeforms approached him. Luckily his second cautious visit ended safely and meals of the following days had turned better.
Huang Baiyi was not the carnivore in the team, he favored the berries, which the fact was peculiar to Ye Chong that it felt like a miracle when Huang Baiyi had not suffered from nutritional deficiency in the past 10 years.
Ye Chong would get him some berries on every visit to the Black Forest, since the forest offered way better variety than the outskirt. Huang Baiyi was frail, that every tiny travel sounded like taking his life as he panted. Ye Chong was pretty much amazed of how Huang Baiyi was once able to get so high on the slope.
"So...," initiated Huang Baiyi, chewing the last bit of berry, "are you sure you don't want to learn anything about Mentalist... not at all?"
"No," replied Ye Chong promptly.
"Uhh... We would need something else to kill the time...," The man pondered, "Do you know chess?" with expectation in his eyes, he asked.
"I don't know," shook Ye Chong. Mu had never taught him the dance of chess pieces over the board, though he remembered how Mu once was engaged in the duel with Little Rock on that.
"How about I teach you then?" Huang Baiyi remained persistent.
"No thanks," promptly Ye Chong replied.
"Why?" Huang Baiyi was bewildered.
"What good can it do to me?" Ye Chong seemed more perplexed than the man.
"Well, you could kill fair amount of time with it?" answered Huang Baiyi
"Time is precious. Don't just kill it." Ye Chong did not seem to perceive the man.
"What?" Huang Baiyi's eyes enlarged, "Tell me, what do you do for pastime then?"
"Learning... Practicing..." He went silent, "Oh and... thinking."
"What else?" asked Huang Baiyi.
"What do you mean by 'what else'?" Ye Chong was finding the question ridiculous, "What else can I do when I have no more time?"
Huang Baiyi's ultimate mentalist's mentality seemed to have
"You are only doing these, everyday?"
"Not exactly," corrected Ye Chong. "There were also biological activities like eating and sleeping to sustain my living. 90% of the time would be on these 3 activities I've mentioned, with 10% as the buffer."
"I see..." Huang Baiyi's laugh sounded dry as the sand, "Do you find it interesting then..."
"Interesting?" Ye Chong tilted his head, pondered, "It's always interesting to see your strength improving, isn't it?" Probably that would be his favorite pastime then...
"Right, right." Suddenly Huang Baiyi felt his linguistic ability had regressed decades behind, he was at loss of words.
It was a moment of silence, then he asked, "Do you have a life goal then?"
"Life goal?" Ye Chong was astonished, as his mind chewed on the phrase with Mu Shang and Rui Bing flashing by... "Com..." Something escaped his lips, "Companion. To find companion."
"Good goal." Huang Baiyi was calm again, briefly he smiled, "Better than what I had in mind when I was your age."
"My age?" That was when Ye Chong realized this very man was already 66 years old.
"Yeah." The old man was sentimental, "When I was your age, all I thought was how to avenge myself, even till 10 years ago." His tone was filled with the bitterness of the missing youth.
"Avenge?" Ye Chong's brows rose. That term was not foreign to his ears, as he once, too, had the same thought. He wanted to avenge his Papa, but that mission had gone unheard in the following arcs, while he also had seen through the vanity of the world. Papa will never return even if Ye Chong went and slaughtered every villain behind the scene. It did not sound like an optimal choice if he was too consumed by it. Ye Chong held the same attitude towards his identity. Probably... the Ye family had something to do with him, but what about that? He never agreed to the family, and never once he thought he was related to them anyhow.
He had Mu Shang... mhm, and Rui Bing. Well, it felt a little complicated to define the relationship with her but, in short, Ye Chong felt these individuals were the truest intimate he could imagine.
Other than these intimates, he could not think of any relationship that he should care. After countless battles as he wandered in the galaxies all these years, Ye Chong had learned what to fight for.
Sigh... I shall... pick a safe place and settle down, living in tranquility after I reunited with Mu Shang and Rui Bing.
This was his sole wish, his greatest wish.
"Yes, to avenge." Huang Baiyi's nostalgic voice broke Ye Chong's schemata, "Though I no longer feel anything of it, I in fact was once a person in search of avenger."
"The clan. I was from a clan, a great clan." Pride was heard in his words, "Well, *once* a great clan. We were glorious... but I had never experienced the glory... There were only 13 men left when I was born. And I, was the sole descendant..."
Ye Chong flinched as he remembered a portion of history he had learned before. It was a brief lesson but he was able to grasp the gist of it, in which a tribe or clan would probably be dead when there was hardly a population remained in the world. With one single descendant, it was not even possible to reproduce.
"Our bloodline is rather peculiar, as we could pass certain traits of our family to offspring only of parents from the same tribe. Well, hah, you could say our tribe is long done-for when I was born." His eyes wailed, "And I learned the past only after I grew up. Our tribe was never this desolate, as we were once the natives of the free space zone, yes, the true innate local natives. But on one day, a large population surged the area, with a way higher technological standard in comparison, though they too did not fancy the technology. They were friendly too. They even invited the few main tribes over for tea, that includes us, of course. We were the brightest after all. However... after the few tribes of population witnessed the greatness of the outsiders' technologies, things changed, as the residents parted..."
"Few members of the group imagined leaving the space zone would guarantee them the best future, while the others insisted on preserving the traditions. Eventually, as what you might have presumed, the tribe broke up as those few members left the place, whereas the remaining slowly got buried by time."
Ye Chong felt his brain was struck by something, "Xi Feng!" The phrase escaped, he remembered that the little boy once mentioned that the Xi Feng clan was once a part of the residents in the free space zone.
"Hm?" Feng Baiyi seemed surprised, "Never expected you would know that." He gave a smile wryly, "I thought only people of the older generation would remember our tribe." Well it seemed like he was not aware that he was already old enough to be part of the older generation.
Ye Chong then became calm, probably the "Xi Feng clan" he mentioned was not quite the tribe Feng Baiyi had told in the story, since Feng Baiyi would never expect this very young man was an absolute outsider at this place.
"As soon as I started getting aware of this world, I always hold one ambition, that is, to find the lost tribal members who left the space zone in the past, though I have no idea what I could do if I ever find them, hah... isn't that funny, or even ridiculous? Hahaha... I just wanted to find them, after all. I tried asking around, by hook or by crook, via kind words or threatening ones, eventually I got news, bad news... that those outsiders had destroyed the pathway right after our compatriots left the place, thus the utter isolation of the space zone with the outside world, and my deepest grief..."
Ye Chong was silent. He knew there must be another way that could lead them to He Yue... well, at least that one path they once took turned out to be one, maybe?
"Not too long after this, I had hit a dead end of my training, and I began wandering, looking for a breakthrough, and that was when I encountered our men..." Feng Baiyi's calm eyes suddenly tightened, the mood intensified!
Ye Chong was shocked by the pressure exerted in the atmosphere. Such mentality... that it could drive Ye Chong away....
Feng Baiyi quickly withdrew the tension as he gave an apologetic smile, "I'm not sure of your understanding on the expertise of Mentalist, but it is similar to the martial arts, in which there are several branches, styles holding different beliefs and masteries. And our tribe, because of our bloodline, trained entirely differently than the folks out there. So, I did recognize them, at first sight, during the first moment of encounter. They should be the direct offspring of our tribe but... strangely their performance was extremely low..."
"Maybe you could not understand how mentalist works but generally offsprings of our tribe are born mentalists, yet awkwardly the energy they exuded was not purely of the mentality, there was something else..."
Mentalist Pilot?! The term flashed in Ye Chong's mind.
Yes, since pilot was still the trend in the outside world and Ye Chong remembered the strength of this kind of pilot.
"And I won. On a 1 versus 3." The statement went flat, as if a report, even though it sent shock to Ye Chong's perception. Those Mentalist Pilots of the Sanctuary were strong enough to break an entire army and Feng Baiyi could challenge a one-on-three. Of what strength did he wield? And those pilots he encountered were merely the troops at the outermost defense, imagine the pilots from the core. Of what psychic would it possess?
"Yes, I won. But I was not pleased by it. Not at all. Instead, I was mad, utterly angered. The first time I felt the actual rage burning in my soul since I was born, as I never expected their psychic ability to be this substandard. Did they discard even the very last bit of our tradition? Did they not? And I went on an investigation just to taste that earth-shattering truth. They had changed, the last bit of tradition had vaporized as their will. They had turned more intrusive than before. The worst part was... they seemed to have an indescribable relationship with the Abductor."
Abductor? They are related to Xi Feng clan?! What exactly is Xi Feng clan?!
"So I began wandering again, looking for Abductors to hunt. My target was simple, I just wanted them to recognize the strength of Mentalist so that they would regret themselves and pick up the tradition they once trashed before."
Ye Chong shook his head slightly. Be it a Mentalist or a Martial Arts Practitioners, humans were still humans. They are fragile. They are frail. Fleshes only get grilled on metal and do not break through it. Mechs dominated the world for a reason.
"I would have a careful scouting at every place. And as soon as I seized one Abductor, the rest would never run, their nest would be busted," flatly Huang Baiyi elaborated. Ye Chong knew the old man was not exaggerating his story, since mental manipulation was the Mentalist's game. Hypnosis, behavioral control were the common practices even by the trainees. Let alone the super Mentalists like Huang Baiyi.
"I spent the next three years doing the same. And I did make a breakthrough since then, sadly, there was great restriction imposed on the spaceship of the free space zone. It was a hassle to even sneak in. So I lost my progress there, or they would have been a goner." The flat statement was ironed with threats.
"Wait, there is spaceship in the space zone?" Ye Chong rose, the question went word-by-word precisely, since it was unimaginable to have a spaceship, a craft of the finest technology in a primitive space zone that would go against it.
Like how in the space zone do they have a spaceship?