Chapter 24: Under the Candle Light
Around dusk, Han left the hospital and took the subway back to the city. He came off the subway at the busy business sector where the last battle took place. He met up with Cheng Zhong and Monk as promised, today was the 7th day since the death of the 7 espers, and the citizens were holding a memorial ceremony for them.
A lot of people came off the subway at this stop, and Han just followed the crowd and slowly exited the station. He was shocked by what he saw on the street.
At the moment, the sky hadn’t completely darkened yet, and many people have already lit up candles. White candles were placed everywhere on both side of the streets, even on the windows of the high-rises on the side.
Night slowly fell. It was as if people had made previous arrangements. No one turned on any lights, and all there were was dim lights from the candles lining the streets. The atmosphere was filled with sorrow and remembrance.
This night, the whole city was lit up by candles. A lot of children were holding lanterns, also containing white candles. The swinging around of the lanterns caused the dim light to flicker.
A young mother led her daughter and walked past Han. The little girl was really small and was holding a lantern. Han noticed that the candle inside the lantern was also very small.
“Mommy, what are espers?” The little girl asked in a very small voice.
“They are a group of very strong soldiers.” The mother answered with a faint smile, “They fight in battles to protect the earth and us.”
The little girl thought for a second, “Will they protect me too?”
“Will they protect mommy?”
“Will they protect grandpa?”
“Will they protect grandma?”
“Yep, espers will protect our family, and everyone at your kindergarten. They will also protect the aunties and uncles on the street. They will protect everyone.” The mother tried to explain to his little girl.
The little girl as if understood something, and she nodded her head heavily once, and said in a delightful voice, “I understood, espers are good people!”
Han smiled faintly, quickly walked past this cute little girl.
Sometimes, people’s impression of espers were not like today. There are always going to be reports on the news about how espers were using their power to bully the weaklings and causing chaos.
But, people have all understood from this incident that, for both espers and ordinary people, there are a lot of bad people among the espers, but also a lot of good people.
This is how the world has always been, the good people were always silent before they stepped out against the evil. Just like Pang Zuolin, that young man who jumped off the building holding a bronze bull statue, the one who sacrificed himself to damage the raider’s ship and protect the civilians.
Now Pang Zuolin has become a hero known as the Bronze Bull Warrior. His last words, “No matter how weak Earth is, it’s still my home!” was now known by everyone.
But before Pang Zuolin became a hero, he was just a silent and hardworking Physical Education teacher. He never bragged about his status as an esper, and just lived an ordinary life.
The real heroes only stand up when the world need them, but normally they just remain unknown.
As the person that experienced that battle first hand, Han saw with his own eyes that these espers who usually remained humble and unknown put their fears aside and ran straight to the battlefield. Within 1 minute, the battlefield had already gathered over 40 espers. Within 3 minutes, there were already over 200 espers arriving. They were not soldiers, but when disasters striked, their speed was even faster than the army, and they were even more fearless!
More and more people gathered. Even though each candle provided a very weak light, when gathered they could still light up the darkness.
Han stopped at a store’s window and saw that the large screen TV inside was broadcasting the worldwide memorial ceremony from Beijing, Shanghai, and Guang Zhou. Starting with these Asian cities, wherever the night fell, the candles representing hope lit up.
Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo, the candle lights crossed the vast Pacific ocean and arrived at America, then from the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.
Han felt someone standing behind him. He turned around and saw Monk and Cheng Zhong. He didn’t know when Cheng Zhong shaved his ponytails but now he was bald, and Monk was carrying a giant backpack. These two baldies standing together, it really looked like one big monk and one small monk.
Cheng Zhong touched his head which was now bald, and said with a smile, “Shaved it. Everyday just to manage those tails I could waste an hour. If I got that much time I’m better off eating a few more pounds of meat.”
“Where’s your headphones?”
“Threw it away.”
“Hey why are you so troublesome?” Cheng Zhong shook the fat on his body and said, “I will put it this way. After seeing you guys tonight, I’m planning to shut myself away and concentrate on training and becoming fatter. I will be giving my all to prepare for the second stage of the pressure exam. You guys don’t have to call me, I threw my phone away too.”
Monk shrugged his shoulders, “What a coincidence. I was about to tell you guys too. Tonight I’m going back to my mountain to train, and I came here tonight to say goodbye. The first stage of the pressure exam was not my strength but combat is. So I’m going to take advantage of this time to improve myself.”
Han slightly nodded his head. Seems like he was not the only one changed by this battle, Monk and Cheng Zhong also became more hardworking than before.
“It’s really a coincidence.” Han thought a bit and said, “Before when I didn’t know I had power, I always thought, if the sky falls then the tall guys can handle it, it has nothing to do with me. And today I finally realized, I’m actually that tall guy, and if the sky falls I need to give it my all to handle it.”
Han continued, “Actually, I’m here to say goodbye too. In two days, I will be going to the Extinction Site Administration. They found a place to train for me, and I’m going to be shutting myself away from the world too.”
Cheng Zhong didn’t say anything. Next year was going to be the year Galactic Meet takes place, and it was very possible that Earth will be turned into a colony for another planet. Even if Earth is lucky enough to not be colonized, there were still a lot of raiders that were eyeing earth covetously and menacingly.
This was the Galactic Era, it was also a merciless era where the jungle rules applied. As the only army on Earth, the espers were facing a lot of pressure.
Monk asked, “Extinction Site Administration? Li Muyun and Chu Li also wants to get you into their division office.”
Han answered, “What were they doing before then… But I heard that a large crowd of espers are taking the initiative to apply to the Administration and other battle organizations, so Chu Li probably isn’t short for hands.”
Cheng Zhong nodded, “Ya man, before there was Ke Lake handling everything for us. Espers were free to do whatever job they wanted. That’s not the case now, without Ke Lake we have to shoulder the responsibility. If I can’t pass the pressure examination then I’m applying straight to the marines.”
Right after he finished his sentence, the watch on his wrist started beeping.
Cheng Zhong put his backpack on the ground and took out a piece of ham that was at least two pounds in weight. He opened his mouth wide and started swallowing the meat chunk by chunk.
After seeing Han and Monk looking at him, Cheng Zhong threw a photo at them. In the photo was a handsome young man with a muscular body. Aside from the little pony tails on his head, it was really hard to tell that this was how Cheng Zhong used to look like.
Cheng Zhong sat on the floor and quickly shoved that giant piece of ham through his mouth into his stomach. He drank two mouthful of water, and started working on a second piece of ham. Han saw that Cheng Zhong’s neck had already turned red from the eating as if he was about to puke anytime, yet he was still shoving meat down his throat nonstop.
“I need to eat.”
“I need to eat non-stop.”
“There is no other choice, I’m a conversion descent esper, without fat then I have no fighting power. Without fighting power how can I protect anyone?”
“I’d rather eat enough to turn into a pig, then to experience what happened that day again.”
“If you guys want to laugh at me then go ahead, I don’t care.”
Han and the Monk of course didn’t laugh at him since they only respected him more after seeing the photo.
To other people, delicious cuisine was an enjoyment, but to Cheng Zhong it was pure suffering.
This bloody world, it had turned a handsome young man into the Cheng Zhong right now.
Han let out a light sigh. He raised his head and saw the endless candle lights, and all the people praying under that light.
Such a sight, it was beautiful.
Such pressure, it was unbearable.