Arc 6: Interstellar Literary Soldiers Chapter 1
After Tao Yuan finished ordering the dishes, he picked up his teacup and took a sip of black tea. Then he looked at the person sitting across from him and suddenly burst into laughter.
“What’s so funny?” Zuo Lei asked, setting down his teacup.
“Uncle Zuo Lei, I’m sure you never expected that I would be your blind date, right?” Tao Yuan chuckled and said, “Deep down, you definitely didn’t want to go on a blind date with someone you saw as a kid like me. But your mother forced you, and you had no choice, am I right?”
Although Zuo Lei was only a little over ten years older than the original host, according to seniority, the original host should address him as “Uncle.”
In this interstellar world, where average lifespans were longer and people lived for a relatively extended period, marriages with a three to four-decade age difference were not uncommon. Love and marriages with a little over ten years of age difference were even more prevalent. Although the two of them were of different generations, they had no blood relation whatsoever, so as long as the age was appropriate, love and marriage were not considered a big deal.
Zuo Lei thought of the words his mother had said to him, forcing him to go on this blind date, and couldn’t help but sigh inwardly. Then he said to Tao Yuan, “Were you forced by your family to come as well?”
“No, not at all. As soon as I heard that you were my blind date, I agreed to come,” Tao Yuan replied straightforwardly.
“Why? Do you think we’re suitable for each other?” Zuo Lei looked at Tao Yuan with confusion.
“I think we’re quite compatible,” Tao Yuan said seriously, “Otherwise, why would I come on a blind date with you? No one in my family forced me to come.”
“I remember hearing from your elder brother that you were in a relationship. Did you already break up?” Zuo Lei couldn’t recall when he had casually heard his elder brother mention this, but it was only speculation and not certain.
Tao Yuan said, “We broke up a few months ago. My ex-boyfriend thought I lacked excitement and dumped me for someone more adventurous. There are plenty of people who get married and divorced. It’s normal to break up due to incompatible personalities when it’s just a relationship.”
It has been less than a month since Tao Yuan crossed over, but the original host had broken up months ago. After Tao Yuan’s arrival, although he didn’t explicitly express his feelings for Zuo Lei to the original host’s mother, he made some subtle gestures. As a result, their mothers started to consider matching them up.
The original host’s mother approached Tao Yuan and asked if he would be willing to go on a blind date with Zuo Lei. Tao Yuan pretended to hesitate and took a day or two to think it over before agreeing. Once Tao Yuan agreed, Zuo Lei’s mother didn’t care whether he was willing or not and directly threatened him, saying that if he didn’t come for the blind date, he wouldn’t be allowed to return to the base ahead of time. Zuo Lei had no choice but to comply.
Tao Yuan was a little worried that Zuo Lei might ask about his ex-boyfriend, but fortunately, he didn’t inquire, which saved Tao Yuan from having to come up with an excuse.
After the dishes were served, Tao Yuan looked at Zuo Lei and said, “I know you definitely didn’t willingly agree to this blind date. But let me tell you what my mother said. After all these years of not dating, Madam Rui Ya is determined to force you into a blind date. Even if I hadn’t come, there would have been other people lined up to meet you. If our blind date doesn’t work out, then you’ll be facing a series of blind dates for your next meal, three times a day.”
Zuo Lei glanced at Tao Yuan with a slightly amused look and said, “So, you agreed to come on this blind date just to enjoy my misfortune?”
“It’s one of the reasons,” Tao Yuan replied. “You know, life can be boring, and we always need some amusement. But there’s another reason, which is that I’m willing to rescue you from the cycle of blind dates for your meals. Would you like to give it a try?”
“How do you plan to rescue me?” Zuo Lei asked.
“Of course, by being in a relationship with me,” Tao Yuan said confidently. “Can you think of a better method? How about we have a contract relationship?”
“A contract relationship?” Zuo Lei said, “You mean… a fake relationship?”
“I mean… a real relationship,” Tao Yuan leaned slightly forward, looking at him seriously. “When a person is bored, they inevitably feel lonely, and when they feel lonely, they want to be in a relationship. After much consideration, you are the best candidate. How about we have a non-binding contract relationship, without the goal of marriage or any responsibilities? What do you think?”
“Can you be more specific?” Zuo Lei asked.
“Isn’t that specific enough? It means you’ll be my real boyfriend, giving me the feeling of being in a relationship, but without any responsibilities. If I develop feelings for someone else in the future, or if you develop feelings for someone else, we can simply break up.”
“What do you want me to do so that you can experience the feeling of being in a relationship?” Zuo Lei felt that this needed to be clarified because he was a soldier. Most of the time, he was either at the Imperial Star Base or at the border base. He couldn’t afford to play relationship games like an ordinary person.
“Hmm…” Tao Yuan pondered for a moment and said, “I understand that you’re a soldier and can’t accompany me frequently, so I won’t ask you to be with me all the time. As long as you have the time, send me at least three messages every day, and at least once every two or three days, we should have a video chat and talk. When I criticize someone, you should agree with me, and when I’m upset, you should comfort me sincerely and show genuine concern that is from the bottom of your heart.”
“Can’t you just download a dating game app for all of that?” Zuo Lei said.
“It’s not the same. Dating games are virtual, where you fall in love with lines of code. It’s not as interesting as being in a relationship with a real person,” Tao Yuan said. “Besides, I have some things I need you to teach me.”
“What kind of things?” Zuo Lei asked.
“What kind of things? I’ll tell you after you agree to the contract relationship,” Tao Yuan looked at him and said, “How about it? My requests aren’t too demanding, right? I’ll cover for you with Mrs. Rui Ya so you won’t be forced into arranged dates. You can return to the base early. Then, you just need to spare a little bit of time to deal with me. You don’t have to be genuinely responsible for me or be exclusive. If you genuinely like someone, we can break up immediately. If we both feel that the other person is not bad, we can continue to develop a genuine relationship. What do you think?”
“You young people, is this how relationships are played nowadays?” Zuo Lei had never heard of this kind of dating style before.
“This is something I came up with myself. I think this kind of relationship style is great. It can meet each other’s needs without having to be responsible for each other. Even if we break up, it can be an amicable separation without tearing each other apart or feeling betrayed. In a contract relationship without real emotions, I won’t feel heartbroken when we break up. It’s better than being deeply in love and devastated after being betrayed,” Tao Yuan explained.
Surprisingly, Zuo Lei found some sense in what Tao Yuan was saying. However, he had been avoiding relationships for the past few years. Firstly, because it was a crucial time for his promotion, and he didn’t have time to think about such matters. Secondly, he felt that his previous relationship started too hastily, resulting in no positive outcome. This time, he wanted to be more cautious and make sure he genuinely liked the person before starting a relationship.
“You don’t have to rush to give me an answer. I’m not in a hurry,” Tao Yuan said. “You can continue going on arranged dates and take your time to consider.”
Tao Yuan had already cast the bait, now he can only wait for Zuo Lei to take the bait. Although Tao Yuan explicitly stated that there was no need to invest genuine emotions, he wasn’t afraid that Zuo Lei wouldn’t develop real feelings during the course of the relationship.
After having dinner together, Tao Yuan and Zuo Lei returned to Tao Yuan’s home.
“Madam Rui Ya,” Tao Yuan called out upon entering the living room.
Rui Ya was arranging flowers in the living room. When she saw the two of them enter, she immediately stood up, walked over with a smile, and said, “You’re back so soon? Why didn’t you stay out a bit longer and have fun?”
Madam Rui Ya held Tao Yuan’s hand and sat down on the sofa. She said, “Zuo Lei is on vacation, so let him accompany you and have a good time for a few days. Wherever you want to go, let him take you there.”
“No rush to have him accompany me. Let him think it over first,” Tao Yuan said with a smile. “Once he has made up his mind, then I can ask him to accompany me for a few days. Otherwise, if he becomes someone else’s boyfriend, how can I ask him to go out and have fun with me?”
“He is single anyway, and he has plenty of time. If I ask him to accompany you, who would dare to object?” Madam Rui Ya said to Tao Yuan. “Uncle Zuo Lei has been saving up his vacation for several years. This time, he can rest for at least two months. If you want to go out and have fun, just let him know and he’ll accompany you.”
“Uncle Zuo Lei will be on vacation for two months?” Tao Yuan pretended to be surprised as he glanced at Zuo Lei, then said to Madam Rui Ya, “I will be officially assigned in a month, and we won’t be able to meet often then.”
“Yes, you’re about to be assigned,” Madam Rui Ya asked, “Do you know which fleet you’ll be assigned to?”
“I don’t know yet. I don’t really mind which fleet I go to, so I didn’t ask my family to find out,” Tao Yuan said.
After a brief moment of contemplation, Madam Rui Ya said, “Then why not go to the Lionheart Fleet? Zuo Lei is there, and he can take care of you so that nobody will dare to bully you.”
“I’m afraid Uncle Zuo Lei will find me annoying at that time, so it’s better not to,” Tao Yuan replied, using a retreat as an advance.
“He wouldn’t dare!” Madam Rui Ya glared at Zuo Lei, who remained silent. “If he dares to be impatient with you, you come and tell me, and I’ll give him a lesson.”
All the men in Zuo Lei’s family were high-ranking military officers. His father, due to an injury from earlier years, no longer led troops but still held a high position. His elder brother was the Vice Captain of the Lionheart Fleet. Zuo Lei himself held the rank of Major General and served as the Captain of the Special Operations Unit.
Madam Rui Ya wanted Tao Yuan to be assigned to the Lionheart Fleet, which could be easily arranged.
The original host of Tao Yuan, who he had transmigrated into, came from a powerful and influential family. His father was one of the ten council leaders in the Parliament, and several uncles held official positions on the Imperial Star.
Both families were prestigious on the Imperial Star, with a combination of political and military power. It could be said that they were a perfect match in terms of background and social status. Additionally, Madam Rui Ya had been good friends with the original host’s mother, Isa, for many years. After careful consideration, Madam Rui Ya believed that the original host was the most suitable person for Zuo Lei and she hoped deep down that the original host would marry into their family.
Tao Yuan chatted with Madam Rui Ya for a while before taking his leave and returning home.
After seeing Tao Yuan off in the car, Madam Rui Ya and Zuo Lei turned back to the living room once the car had left through the main gate.
“Just now, I heard Luo Xi’s implication that he is willing to enter into a relationship with you, but you need to think it over?” Madam Rui Ya said as she sat down and looked at Zuo Lei. “Luo Xi is young, handsome, talented, and he even managed to enter the artistic soldier on his own merits. He has no flaws in his family background, character, appearance, or personality. If he has agreed, what else is there for you to consider?”
Indeed, the original host, as Madam Rui Ya mentioned, was exceptional in every aspect, especially with a remarkably beautiful face. However, Zuo Lei was also outstanding, tall and handsome, considered a heartthrob by many. Moreover, he possessed strong military leadership skills and was regarded as a military genius, highly regarded by his superiors.
But it was only Madam Rui Ya as a mother who could find fault with her own son. If anyone else dared to criticize Zuo Lei, Madam Rui Ya would certainly be displeased, even his own father would not be allowed to do so.
“Mom, you’re being unreasonable. I’m not sick, nor am I injured. How could you let my eldest brother approve a two-month leave for me?” Zuo Lei didn’t answer his mother’s question. He thought that Tao Yuan would only approve a little over a month of leave, but he was surprised to find out that it was a two-month leave.
“These vacation leaves are meant for you to take. You haven’t taken any leave in the past few years, totaling at least half a year. What’s wrong with taking a two-month break now? Your eldest brother granted the leave because it’s a reasonable request,” Madam Rui Ya said, looking at him. “If you don’t want to take such a long break, it’s also fine. Haven’t I already told you the conditions?”
Seeing him remain silent, Madam Rui Ya said with a stern face, “I’m not pressuring you to get married immediately, but at least you should start dating, right? It’s been so many years, and so many suitable people have tried to pursue you. If you don’t show interest in anyone, others might think there’s something wrong with you.”
“Does not dating mean there’s something wrong with me? What kind of logic is that?” Zuo Lei said. “I’m not dating because I haven’t met someone I like. When I do meet someone, I will naturally start a relationship. You’re forcing me to go on blind dates with different people and date someone I don’t like. It won’t lead to a good outcome.”
“Well, have you had any successful relationships with someone you like?” Rui Ya looked at him and said, “Relationships also require spending time together and nurturing. You have completely closed your heart, so how can anyone enter? After you broke up with Andy 1, have I ever pressured you once? I genuinely believe Luo Xi is suitable for you, that’s why I don’t want you to miss this opportunity. If you agree to get to know Luo Xi, you won’t have to go on any more blind dates.”
“Why are you bringing up Andy?” Zuo Lei said helplessly. “I’ve almost forgotten about him.”
“Forget?” Rui Ya sneered and said, “If you truly forgot about him, then why haven’t you dated anyone in all these years?”
“It’s been said that I’ve been too busy these years, and I haven’t had time to think about other things. I’ve long moved on from him in my heart. How could it be because of him that I’m not dating?” Zuo Lei genuinely felt that his reasoning made sense, yet he couldn’t explain it clearly.
“I don’t care what reasons you have for not dating. From today onwards, I won’t allow you to return to the base, no matter who says otherwise,” Rui Ya said firmly. “Luo Xi is such a wonderful person. If you weren’t my son, I wouldn’t even want him to be with you, this clueless block of ice.”
Madam Rui Ya’s words were sincere. She treated the original owner as her own child and hoped that they would marry into her family, making them truly her own child.
“However, I won’t force you to date him. If you feel that he’s not suitable, I will talk to his mother and make it clear. I don’t want our families’ relationship to be strained because of you,” Rui Ya said. “During this period, I’ve selected many suitable people for you. Just go and meet each one of them. If you find someone you like, you can return to the base sooner.”
I thought there will be more TT. Then it jumped to the new arc.. Interstellar Artistic/Literary Soldier Arc begins!
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- 恩迪 En Di