Lesson 2: Escape, aside from confrontation
Proofreader: Arc, Catchkatch, Wryn
“How is Dar’s condition?” Theodore asked as he attached electrodes to Ezart’s body.
“The same. That kid is throwing a huge temper tantrum this time,” Ezart replied as he reclined lazily.
“This time it isn’t just a temper tantrum,” Theodore sighed.
“Why do all of you like denying it so much?” Ezart asked. “The way I see it, he’s just throwing a temper tantrum. All you have to do is coax him a bit, and after some time everything will be fine!”
Theodore laughed bitterly. If only it was really that easy.
“As for you guys, leaving this thing that looks so much like Dar in the house can’t be too good, right?” Ezart scrutinised DS II.
This... ‘thing’ is practically identical to Dar.
“That won’t be a problem; there’s no way you would confuse him with Dark Sun. DS II is a clone. He does not have a brain, so to speak, and his skull contains only computer chips, so he’s completely different from Dark Sun, whose foundation is human. Even if one day DS II crashed suddenly and claimed to be Dark Sun, an x-ray would easily clear things up,” Theodore flippantly replied.
“That’s not the problem…”
Ezart scratched his head, unable to put the reason in words. He just thought this situation seemed really weird. Seeing two Dars was already quite weird for Ezart; when Dar looked at himself standing in front of him, he must have felt exceedingly strange!
“Phone!” DS II called out.
Since he happened to be right next to the phone, he picked it up. Smiling happily, he said, “Hello, this is the Solaris Residence. DS II speaking.”
Devon’s face appeared on the telephone screen. At first, when he saw Dar’s adorable smiling face, Devon’s heart leapt violently in what was almost pure ecstasy, believing that Theodore had finally succeeded in bringing Dar back… but after the next sentence, he realised that it was DS II. He froze and his joy quickly faded. Suddenly, his heart contracted painfully.
“Gege, you’re okay, right?” DS II’s eyes were wide, his face full of concern.
Hearing the word ‘Gege’ only made Devon’s heartbreak worse, and he reached out a hand to turn off the telephone screen. The sound of “Solaris Emperor” drifted through the phone. That was Kyle’s voice, and his tone was extremely strained.
”Gege, gege, you’re okay, right?” DS II asked worriedly, his eyes immediately reddening.
“I’m fine, fine.”
Devon turned the screen on again as he replied with these words. His face was as white as a sheet, but his expression was still as haughty as usual. He threw a glance to the side, saying coldly, “I don’t need to take any medicine. Just continue doing your job, Bill.”
“Gege, are you alright?” DS II tilted his head as he asked, eyes flushed red, expression pitiful.
Devon looked deeply into that face, and sighed. “DS II, leave us for a bit and let me talk with Avery.”
Theodore braced himself as he walked over to the telephone.
Devon did not bother to beat around the bush. “How is Dar’s condition?”
“Same as usual.” After Theodore said this, he didn’t dare look at the screen to see how ugly Devon’s expression had become.
Devon was silent for some time, his pale face darkening.
”Should I put you through to Dar?” At that moment, Theodore only wished to see less of the Solaris Emperor.
Devon lifted his head and had just opened his mouth when…
“Solaris Emperor, it is time for your conference.”
Devon quieted, then said, “There’s no need to put me through to Dar; I’ll return home in a bit anyway. Is Ezart there? Just have him stay a little longer. It’ll be fine for him and Dar to go to school together tomorrow.”
“No way. At night I have to fight in the arena.” Ezart replied without a hint of social grace.
“You’re not allowed to bring Dar with you to fight in the arena! It’s too dangerous!” Devon ranted furiously.
Ezart snorted. “Even if I wanted to bring him now, do you think the present him would come willingly?”
“Ezart!” Theodore hurriedly tried to interrupt his words. Don’t remind the Solaris Emperor of Dar’s current condition…
Devon was silent for a moment. In the end he just replied emotionlessly. “I’m going to attend the conference.”
And with that, he hung up.
“Can’t you even hold back from saying two sentences?”
Theodore almost sounded like Eloise when she wailed. After a moment, he laughed bitterly. “You’re not afraid of him, but I am very afraid,” he said.
Ezart gave the doctor a contemptuous look. As he tore off the electrodes from his body, he said, “Are you done with the checkup? I told you I’m doing great, but you still insist that I come every three days.” He clicked his tongue irritably. “I’m in a hurry today, so I’ll be leaving.”
“Wait a second!” Theodore howled. “Just let me experiment for a bit!”
“I mean, examine a bit.” Theodore used his most innocent expression as he corrected himself.
I should at least say goodbye to that kid. It’ll be troublesome if he sulks even more.
Ezart walked up to Dark Sun’s room on the second floor. Dark Sun hadn’t closed his door, so Ezart saw with a single glance that he was sitting at his desk. On it was a half-finished gun and a huge pile of parts, but Dark Sun was not modifying the gun.
He was staring at the telephone on the wall.
Ezart scratched his head. “Your brother is busy with meetings and said he would return later today,” he said. “That’s why he didn’t request to be connected to you.”
Dark Sun turned his head, nodded, and then lowered his head and continued modifying guns.
“Well then, I’m leaving for the arena.”
Dark Sun lifted his head and stated one sentence, “See you tomorrow.” Then he lowered his head and started to modify his guns once again.
Ezart looked Dark Sun up and down. Is this guy acting strangely? Even though he has been behaving strangely these days, he seems to be even stranger now.
Ezart watched for a long moment but could not work it out. Since he was running late, he scratched his nose and disappeared in a flash.
Ezart was not long gone before Theodore hurriedly ran up to Dark Sun.
“Where’s Ezart? Has he left?”
Dark Sun shifted his head, then turned back around, saying, “He left.”
Theodore lifted the object he was holding and said somewhat helplessly, “He forgot to take his backpack.”
“I’ll take it to him.” Dark Sun stood up.
Dark Sun took the backpack and walked out.
Theodore had originally planned to leave and continue performing his own experiments, but suddenly something on the table sparkled and caught his eye.
He hesitated for a moment. After hearing Dark Sun shut the front door, Theodore sneakily stepped into the room and walked to the desk. He looked towards the source of that brightness but found that it was only a few drops of water.
Drops of water?
98.2% water, 1.8% solid consisting of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chlorine, and other trace elements… consistent with human tears.
Theodore was astonished. Even though he had collected the few drops of water for examination and had suspicions about what those drops were... yet he was not entirely convinced it was possible. This was because Dark Sun did not shed tears, not unless Theodore or Devon ordered him to shed tears.
Then why were there teardrops on Dark Sun’s desk?
Dark Sun would not cry. Does that mean that the emotion switch has been activated? Has Dark Sun reverted back to being Dar?
But how was that possible? Absolutely nothing had happened to trigger it. Besides the two of them, no one had visited or spent time with Dark Sun at home. No one…
Theodore suddenly thought of Ezart’s words.
Dar is just throwing a temper tantrum.
Staring blankly, Theodore thought about it. Maybe…
“Theodore, where’s Dar? Why isn’t he at home? Where’d he go?” Devon’s voice suddenly drifted through from the telephone.
Theodore looked towards the phone, which showed that it was actually a call from upstairs. “Solaris Emperor?” he gaped. “Wh- why did you return so quickly? Didn’t you have a meeting?”
Devon promptly bellowed, “I was so worried about Dar that my heart was hurting; my stomach was hurting. There was no way I could hold a conference like that! Other than quickly returning to visit him, there was nothing else I wanted to do! Where’s Dar?”
“Ezart forgot his backpack earlier. Dar went to deliver it. He should be back soon.”
“I see.” Devon nodded, his expression gloomy.
“I think you should go take some painkillers,” Theodore suggested sincerely.
“I haven’t eaten anything. If I take painkillers, my stomach is doomed!”
“I’ll get DS II to cook you some noodles.”
Devon was so agitated that he practically leapt up. Turning to face Theodore, who looked on in shock, he explained somewhat tiredly. “I don’t want to treat DS II as Dar anymore.”
“But I want you to treat him as Dar.”
Devon was stunned. He lifted his head and looked at Theodore shrewdly.
The corners of Theodore’s lips curved slightly upwards. “Regarding the matter of restoring Dar, I have some ideas…” he said slowly.
Dark Sun walked home quickly. He was slightly late because Ezart was not at the arena he usually frequented, but at another, causing Dark Sun to spend some time searching.
He opened the front door, walked into the living room, and was about to deliver the food he was holding to Dr. Avery…
“The noodles Dar cooks are the tastiest!”
“Really? Then Gege should eat more.”
Dark Sun slowed to a halt. He spotted Devon as soon as he walked into the living room. Together with DS II, who was smiling adorably, both of them were slurping big bowls of steaming hot noodles. Devon was even attentively wiping a bit of soup that had dribbled down the corner of DS II’s mouth.
When Devon turned his head and noticed Dark Sun, he stared blankly for a bit before saying, as if startled, “Dar, you’re back.”
“Would you like to eat something?” Devon said, beaming. “I’ll have Da- … DS II cook for you, all right? DS II?” At the last sentence, Devon turned his head, smiling at DS II.
“The noodles DS II cooks are really delicious,” he added.
DS II smiled happily. “From now on DS II will have to cook noodles often for Gege,” he said.
Devon indulgently ruffled DS II’s hair, exactly like what he used to do with Dar.
Dark Sun was silent for a moment. “Master, I’m going to bring Dr. Avery supper.” he declared.
Devon nodded indifferently. “Ok.” He continued eating his noodles, smiling and chatting with DS II.
Dark Sun sat on the couch and pressed the button to access the basement, heading towards Theodore’s laboratory.
After the sofa descended, Devon turned his head to look at the spot where Dark Sun had been moments before.
“Gege?” DS II revealed a doubtful expression.
“Bring me some painkillers.” Devon ordered coldly, without bothering to look at DS II.
“All right, Gege.” DS II continued to smile brightly. He immediately put down the bowl he was holding to retrieve the painkillers Devon requested.
“Dar… what a surprise! You actually bought me supper?”
Theodore was currently gorging on a bowl of noodles. He smiled apologetically. “I’m terribly sorry; DS II has already cooked some noodles for me. Thank goodness he’s here, or else I would have starved to death! Why don’t you put the food over there? If I get hungry later, I’ll think about eating it.”
Dark Sun put down the meal containers.
“Okay then. Go modify your guns!”
Theodore dismissed Dark Sun with a wave and then lowered his head once more, continuing to eat noodles as he pored over a pile of experimental data.
Dark Sun nodded his head, turned away, and left. When he sat down on the sofa and returned upstairs, Theodore put down his noodles and lifted his head to watch the underside of the ascending sofa with a concerned expression.
In the middle of the night, two habitual night owls were not sleeping as usual. The unusual part was that one of them was not in the study barking orders to his secretary, and the other was not maniacally performing experiments by defacing corpses. Instead, they were chatting together in the laboratory.
“How is it?”
“My heart is in greater turmoil.”
“Who’s asking about you? I was asking about Dar.”
“It seems to be working. Today he actually neglected to greet me before returning to his room, except...”
“Treating him like this makes me miserable!”
“Just take more painkillers! The end justifies the means. If it means it will restore Dar, won’t the pain be worth it?”
“Of course, but I’m warning you, if your rotten idea falls through, you’d better be careful or I’ll—”
“—Blow my brains out, correct? I know, I know. I have faith in the effectiveness of my plan. Just make sure you don’t let the cat out of the bag and confess to Dar mid-way through, sobbing ‘Gege is so sorry,’ or something like that.”
Avery’s doubtful expression struck Devon like a physical blow.
“I won’t, probably…”
In the morning, when the time came to head to school, Ezart did not make an appearance. Dark Sun waited for 20 minutes, but Ezart still did not turn up. After a while, Dark Sun reasoned that since Ezart had fought in the arena until late the previous night, perhaps he wouldn’t attend classes today. So Dark Sun decided to head to school by himself.
As soon as he stepped into the classroom, Dark Sun automatically looked towards his own seat… and spotted Ezart already sitting at his own desk next to it, sleeping so deeply that he produced a symphony of snores.
Dark Sun’s footsteps slowed for a moment, but he still went to his own seat, and without disturbing Ezart’s nap, he simply opened his backpack and put the materials he needed for class on the desk.
Today the classroom was also extremely quiet. All of the students were as well-behaved as they were yesterday. On closer inspection, one could see their gazes continuously drifting towards the window, but today the view outside the window appeared to be as peaceful as the inside of the classroom.
Not much time had passed before the bell rang, indicating the beginning of class. The teacher stood at the doorway and poked his head in, sizing up the overall situation and determining whether or not to have class today. The students today were as well-behaved as before, but there was no wailing female student at the window this time.
When the teacher stepped up to the podium, exchanging meaningful looks with the students, he suggested carefully, “Let’s start class first and see how things play out; later we can decide whether or not to end class early. Is that okay with everyone?”
The students nodded simultaneously. Most likely this was the first time they had ever shown this much respect to a teacher.
The teacher took out a textbook from his briefcase. “All right then, n-now let’s start the combat history class,” he declared. “First let’s read some text. Ac-actually I’ll just read it myself. In year 2007…”
Because Eloise was absent, it only took minutes before the students were unable to contain their impatience. The word ‘law-abiding’ was not really in their vocabulary. How could they be expected to remain well behaved for an entire class when there was no immediate danger to their lives?
All of the students seemed to have ants in their pants, and one by one they started to squirm. At first they didn’t dare to move too wildly and only chatted with the person sitting next to them or sneakily pulled out weapon catalogs from their drawers, handing them to the person at the neighboring desk.
After three minutes…
“Fuck you. A 20% discount? Is there such a thing as discounts for guns? You might as well request free bullets for buying a gun. Collect 10 and get a freebie, damn it!”
“How dare you say that? What kind of price is this, huh? Are you an extortionist? You might as well use your own gun to rob me; that might be faster!”
“You’re right about that… Hey! I’m robbing you now—take out your wallet!”
“...Bastard, you think you’re the only one with a gun here?”
The teacher hid behind the podium. “Students, gunfights are prohibited during class,” he said in a small voice.
And maybe it was because of the excessive strain from the previous day, but it was not long before the classroom became even more chaotic. The teacher did not dare to move an inch from his hiding spot behind the podium, trying to avoid getting hit by a stray bullet.
Even though the entire classroom was in a state of utter chaos, the desks where Ezart and Daren sat were especially clean and tidy. So clean that it seemed that even stray bullets would veer off course to avoid this danger zone.
Since the teacher wasn’t teaching the lesson anymore, Daren waited for a moment, then put down his pencil and took out the virtual lover game console from his backpack. Only, he played without expression, as if playing it was just a kind of routine task and not much different from taking notes during class.
Daren had previously been ridiculed when he played his Xiao Ai game console in front of other students, but they hadn’t dared to bully him for a while now. Not counting the demon Ezart protecting him, Eloise, who occasionally came to class to whine, was frightening enough. Actually, she was much more terrifying than Ezart. At least Ezart did not publicly announce that he was protecting Daren, and, most of the time, he would probably be too lazy to care if Daren was only verbally attacked.
In contrast, Eloise had actually jumped onto the podium and announced that if even one hair on Daren’s head was hurt, then she would make them pay a heavy price.
As for Eloise’s recent actions, no one doubted her conviction. It was as if she was wearing a sign saying ‘I just want to beat people up’.
“This is an announcement from the Principal’s office. Sorry to interrupt the students’ lessons. Mr. Dark Sun, Mr. Dark Sun, please report to the Principal’s office as soon as possible.”
At this time, silence had fallen over the entire class. The corners of their mouths twitched erratically, and they thought together, Dark Sun? When did Dark Sun become a student? Wasn’t he ‘personnel unrelated to the school’?
When Daren heard the announcement, he slowly lifted his head and pressed Xiao Ai’s off button. After he put Xiao Ai back into his backpack, he lifted his bag, stood up, and walked out of the classroom. He did not attract any attention from other people even as he did so. In this class where class time and break time were not the slightest bit different, everyone had always come and gone as they pleased.
Only, in Daren’s immediate path, even stray bullets seemed to veer away and take detours, not daring to cross the minefield.
When Daren walked out of the classroom, Ezart slowly lifted his head and looked at his retreating back. Ezart was just in time to see Elian’s trio sneakily stalking Daren.
Elian and the others noticed that Ezart was awake and entered the classroom, causing the students who really belonged to the class to flee. They were even afraid to move inside a 10-meter radius around the classroom as they tried to avoid being drawn into what would be the most terrifying battle in the academy.
“Have you also received the Solaris Emperor’s instructions?” Elian asked upfront.
Ezart shrugged his shoulders. “Yeah, yesterday night at around 7 or 8. Dar’s big bro sent someone to contact me. He told me not to go to school with him, not to speak to him, not to do this and that, and basically to just ignore him! His brother is really so long winded!”
“But this is so hard!”
Eloise was the first to burst out loudly. “Dar is so cute. How can I stand ignoring him? I want to chat with him, I want to give him a hug, I want to pinch his cheeks, I want to…”
Eli covered his ears and tried to hide somewhere further away. He wanted to avoid being bombarded with both Eloise’s loud wails and inner thoughts, as she was the kind of person whose actions matched her words.
Elian and Ezart completely blocked out the shrieking noises. “But what’s worrying me is whether or not this plan will really work,” Elian remarked, slightly concerned. “What if the plan fails and Dar starts behaving even more coldly?”
“Don’t overthink it!” Ezart drawled, rolled his eyes. “Let’s just try it! Even if Dar gets mad and decides to beat me up, that’s still better than his more-dead-than-alive behavior now!”
Hearing this, Elian laughed bitterly. “What I’m worried about isn’t that he’ll beat us up. I’m just afraid that if we ignore him he’ll decide that we aren’t his friends and won’t even bother greeting us.”
Ezart snorted “Then we’ll do the reverse and beat him up,” he said coldly. “I just can’t believe that that kid would dare to treat us as enemies.”
Elian laughed bitterly. He did not share Ezart’s confidnce. If Dar was completely trapped within the mind-set of Dark Sun, then he couldn’t believe in the idea that Dar would never exchange blows with them. Dark Sun was heartless. If one was considered his enemy, it wouldn’t be unusual to be killed by him.
At least, that was what Dr. Avery had warned them about.
”I think it’s best if I go check it out.” Elian frowned. Even though the Principal had only made an announcement summoning Dark Sun, surely the Principal wouldn’t refuse to let him listen in.
Eloise stopped her shrieking and nodded vigorously. “Let’s go look, let’s go look!”
“Going to check on him?” Ezart scoffed. “How poor do you think Dark Sun’s level of awareness is? It’d be strange if you weren’t found out! If you ruin the plans of Dar’s brother, let’s see if you can escape with your lives!”
Elian wrinkled his brows frowned deeply. After a long moment, he released a breath, turned his head to look at Eli. “Eli, hold onto Eloise properly and don’t let her sneak off to visit Dar.”
Eli lowered the hands that were covering his ears. He walked back towards the rest of them and used both hands to grab onto the hem of Eloise’s clothing.
“Let go! Eli, you idiot.”
However, Eli did not show the slightest intention of letting go. Eloise glared at him. “Are you my partner or are you Elian’s?” she demanded.
“I want to say that I’m Elian’s, but, unfortunately, I’m yours,” Eli replied coldly.
To the side, Elian nagged Ezart. “You and Dar are in the same class, so you can pay a little more attention to him. If something really is off about him, then screw the plan! In the end, it won’t be good if we really hurt Dar…”
“You’re just as annoying as Dar’s brother!”
After yelling that, Ezart was too lazy to bother paying attention to Elian any more. He slumped onto the desk and resumed snoozing.
Eloise stood at the side laughing loudly. “Haha! No wonder Dar said from the very beginning that Elian was similar to his brother! You two really are similar!”
Hearing this, Elian flushed. “...Eloise!” he growled threateningly.
Eloise held her head in her hands and screamed “Eli, Elian’s going to hit me!”
“He won’t hit you.”
Eli said, and explained expressionlessly. “To tell the truth, he really likes it when Dar calls him Gege. He’s currently thinking to himself that you’ve just noticed it, so he’s feeling very embarrassed inside. He wants to quickly explain himself using the excuse that he’s just worried about the Solaris Emperor’s retaliation, and so on.”
“… Eli, I think the person El wants to hit now is you.”
*********** Eclipse Hunter v04c02 END ************