[Father, if not related by blood, can you not love your children?]
Proofreaders: Zephynel, Dinoj
“...Let the show begin!”
Lance laughed for a long time. He laughed until he almost couldn’t breathe. He then said, “Did you see that? Hm? Devon never really needed you! What he needed was only a younger brother to call his family. Whether or not that younger brother is you, is of no importance.”
“It's not like that!”
Daren was still wordlessly staring at the screen. It was actually Elian, who was lying on the floor, that roared, “That was just a brief moment! That isn't Dar and the Solaris Emperor will figure it out sooner or later! They'll figure out something's wrong. Robots can never be human, just like DSII!”
Lance languidly said, “So? Did you think that was DSII? DSII was just a failed experiment that paved the path.”
He then introduced the Daren Solaris on screen, “This is DSX, the ultimate clone. Every aspect of it is exactly the same as Dark Sun. Furthermore, the microchip in its brain and the microchip in Dark Sun's brain are interconnected. He will receive the behaviors of 'Daren Solaris' from this year onward, analyze them, and then copy them. At the moment, DSX can perfectly play the role of 'Daren Solaris.' The only difference between him and Daren Solaris is that he cannot commit any errors that may harm his master.”
Lance looked towards Daren. He said slowly and deliberately, “Compared to Dark Sun and Daren Solaris, DSX is far superior. Therefore, your existence is completely...”
“Bullshit! Dar would never hurt his brother. He...” Elian shouted, interrupting Lance.
“But he has indeed harmed Devon!” Lance was even more unyielding as he roared back. “As long as this devil's spawn is not there, my Sun King will not have a weakness! The existence of this demon child is a type of harm in itself!”
Even as the two people bellowed their arguments, Daren was still staring at the video that was being projected. In the video, there were three people happily eating together. He originally should have been one of them, but there was now someone else in his place.
“However, just a bit of what you are saying is true.”
Elian was stunned. He didn't expect that Lance would say something like that.
“After all, DSX isn’t human.” Lance smiled as he said, “When an incident he has never encountered occurs, DSX will be unable to perform the appropriate action because he has never had a precedent. However, this is inconsequential. Dark Sun will be constantly looking through DSX's eyes, watching the Solaris Emperor. When DSX does not know which action he should take, he will issue a query to Dark Sun. Dark Sun will then 'advise him' on which action to take.”
Elian froze. Dar would be looking through DSX's eyes to watch?
“DSX will be by the Solaris Emperor's side, protecting him. As for Dark Sun, he will be with me. He will be the embodiment of the Solaris Emperor's underground guardian, helping him remove all obstacles. As a result, the devil's spawn can no longer do harm to the Solaris Emperor, and would even be his greatest assistant.”
Thereupon, Lance fanatically gazed at the Devon on the screen. He cried, “Look. Isn't this all perfect?”
This lunatic... Elian suppressed the impulse to curse at him. He then loudly reminded this madman. “Dar is also your child! You are sacrificing Daren for the sake of the success of the Solaris Emperor.”
Hearing this, Lance suddenly scowled. He glared at Elian, who was sprawled on the floor, for a long time before he slowly said, “Even after you have seen the opera, you still believe he is my child?”
The opera? Elian abruptly recalled the the contents of the opera. The mother was abducted by the demon, and when she was thrown back, she was pregnant with the demon's child... It can't really be like this?
Dar isn't Lance's child. So, he and the Solaris Emperor are... brothers of the same mother but different fathers?
No wonder the two brothers looked so different from one another. No wonder Lance never loved Dar... Elian figured out the circumstances surrounding the situation, and couldn't help but smile bitterly. This time, Dar will once again be hurt. He actually wasn't his father's child, and his so-called Gege, is only half his Gege.
Thinking up to this point, he looked towards Daren. The latter's line of sight had long been directed back towards Lance. However, the expression on his face wasn't of shock but instead was a blank expression. It seemed as if he still hadn't fully reacted yet.
“What? You don't have any words you want to voice?” Lance narrowed his eyes with some suspicion. Daren's reaction was too calm.
Even after hearing that, Daren seemingly still hadn't recovered yet. He was in a daze for a long while, so long that Lance began having some doubts. Suddenly, Daren looked towards Lance. He hesitated for a moment, then opened his mouth to say, “You don’t love me because I'm not your child? Instead, you hate me?”
“If you’re not my child, why would I need to love you?”
Lance howled in rage, “What are you? My blood does not flow in you. Why do you call yourself part of the Solaris family?! Only I am the master of the Solaris family. Only my child is worthy of the title Solaris Emperor!”
Hearing this, Daren grew paler by a whole shade. Only after a long while, did he reply with an “Oh.”
Receiving this type of lukewarm answer, Lance coldly snorted. Having failed to deal a blow to Daren, he felt extremely dissatisfied.
Elian was also a bit surprised. Daren's reaction was beyond his expectations. It seemed too insipid, too detached, and unlike the emotionally vulnerable Dar.
Daren turned his head and called out, drawing the two people's attention. Elian watched him, and the longer he watched, the more he felt that something was wrong. Daren's attitude was too calm. This calmness along with that pallid face was capable of making everyone feel unsettled. It was as if Daren was trapped in the middle of a huge ocean and had already fallen into complete despair. As a result, he had stopped struggling and allowed himself so slowly sink down… until he finally drowned.
Looking at the injured trio, Daren could only desperately apologize. “I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. From the start, I shouldn't have come in contact with all of you. I shouldn't have come to know all of you. I've always harmed everyone and got you all involved in dangerous situations.”
Elian frowned. He didn't look towards Daren, but instead looked towards Eli with a puzzled expression. If it was Daren's thoughts, Eli should be able to uncover them.
Eli murmured, “Protect Gege. Protect Elian-ge. Protect Eli. Protect Eloise......”
Speaking up until there, he hesitated for a moment. Eventually, he still said the last thought he had discovered, “Protect Father.”
Protect Father? Elian was shocked. How could it be? Or did Father refer to Theodore Avery? But Dar calls him “Papa Avery,” not Father.
To the side, Lance hadn't missed hearing Eli's words, but he didn't pay any heed to them. The devil's spawn wanted to protect him? Ha!
He icily said, “Dark Sun. These three people should die.”
This time, Daren did not immediately attack. He turned his head to look at Lance, explaining, “Eli can read minds, which would be very useful to you. Elian and Eloise are the only things you can use as bargaining chips to keep Eli obedient.”
Upon hearing this, Lance frowned. His plan had no areas that required reading people's minds. However, hearing that he could discover what was in other people's hearts, what person wouldn't be tempted?
“Even if it's the brilliant DSX, it is impossible to say for certain that he won't trigger Gege's suspicions.” Daren calmly said, “If you have Eli, you can ascertain whether or not he is growing suspicious. Also, you can know what is on your favorite child's mind. Isn't that enough to spare these three people?”
At that instant, even Lance felt something was strange. What sort of matter was Daren's unnatural tranquility? His eyes narrowed dangerously. He asked with suspicion, “What are you scheming, demon child?”
Daren shook his head, slowly saying, “Nothing, I just want to protect everyone. I have to stay strong.”
Hearing this, Elian reflexively looked at Eli. He wanted to see if Eli had discovered what Dar was thinking. However, he discovered the always expressionless Eli had two tracks of tears flowing down his face.
“Eli?” Elian's voice was a little strange as he asked. What’s going on? First, Dar became abnormally calm. Now, the always calm Eli is in tears?
Eli hurriedly wiped away the tears. He glanced over and threw out a sentence. “My knee was just hurting too much.”
Lance coldly laughed. He said, “Do not attempt to deceive me. Now, Dark Sun. Turn off all emotional functions, including facial expression and body movement.”
“From today onward, you must not leave my side. Other than protecting me and executing my commands, you are not permitted to perform any other actions. Additionally, I am not even in the slightest interested in your feelings, so you do not need any emotional responses.”
“Understood.” Daren's expression vanished and was immediately replaced by Dark Sun's merciless and uncaring expression.
Seeing this, Elian grew even more despairingly. He could only look towards the projection screen and at the three happy people. Then he prayed in his heart, Solaris Emperor, Mr. Avery, discover this soon! That isn't the Dar you love, only a robot!
Following Lance, they arrived at the opera house's basement. What was below ground was even more astonishing than what was above ground.
Underneath the grandiose opera house was actually one huge laboratory... No! Using “laboratory” was too narrow of a description. This place was just like a school. Many people were moving about. Each person was wearing white and in every classroom, the people in white were wearing headsets and watching the screens in front of them. The screens broadcasted videos of people that looked exactly like them, doing all sorts of things.
However, there was one thing that was completely different from a school, the silence. This place was packed with people, but it was so quiet that even the drop of a pin would make a clear sound.
Daren was carrying Elian's trio over his shoulder. When they arrived at the basement of the opera house, the first thing they noticed were these strange sights.
Many of these people looked a bit familiar. Elian and Eli's faces went pale with shock. In the midst of the white-clothed people, they saw the faces of the audience members who had just been defeated by the modified humans and Dark Sun in the opera house earlier...
Lance turned around, clearly wanting to face Dark Sun’s expression as he spoke. However, Dark Sun had no trace of an expression at all causing Lance to feel somewhat disappointed. Then, he noticed Elian and Eli's stunned expressions. Smiling with satisfaction, he said, “Isn't this magnificent? Ten years ago, I had the idea of taking the DNA of every person in a high position, or even potential politicians and business tycoons, and establishing this underground cloning capital. Long before that Theodore Avery guy conducted his Dark Sun experiment, the plan to clone humans was already in motion.”
He was extremely proud as he declared, “This cloning capital is my gift to my child, my true gift. Dark Sun was merely a small bonus prize.”
“You... You...” Elian already had somewhat guessed what this person intended to do. Nevertheless, those words meant that this man was even more insane than what he had imagined.
“What you’re thinking isn't wrong.”
Lance slowly said, “I want to replace all influential and powerful people. All of those appearing to be enemies of the Solaris Emperor will actually be under my control. They will be completely unable to harm my child!”
“You really are mad!”
In the end, Elian couldn't help yelling at him. “You believe that the Solaris Emperor would appreciate the things you are doing? I'll tell you, if he was here, he would also be calling you a madman!”
Upon hearing this, Lance scowled. He said despondently, “Children never understand or appreciate the sacrifices their parents make for them.”
Following that, he appeared more at ease. Relaxed, he said, “However, there's no need to worry. He is my only beloved child. For him, sacrificing even more would still be all right. Even if he never knows of the sacrifices I’ve made for him, I will accept that condition willingly. Because I am a father, silently supporting my child from behind, and devoting everything I have to him.”
Seeing Lance's expression of saintly sacrifice, Elian was speechless. He suddenly started feeling grateful towards his own old man, who fortunately hadn't “loved” him as much as this.
Lance put away his passionate expression and returned to a cool, self-restrained appearance. He offhandedly drew the attention of a few white-clothed people and asked them some questions. Then under some orders again, the people in white hastily left.
Seemingly talking to himself, he said, “It appears as if it still needs some more time to be prepared. However, there's nothing to worry about. Tomorrow's news will be published as ‘Five hundred influential politicians and businessmen were enraptured by the singing of the world's number one singer, Lance. They listened to encore after encore until they finally returned home at dawn.’”
Lance turned around to look at Elian's trio. He indifferently said, “You three are troublesome. You invited yourselves in midway, not even allowing me the time to prepare replicas. However, this is of no matter. In this day and age, if three people die silently in an alleyway, even if the murderer isn't found, no one would grow suspicious.”
Hearing this, Elian's heart sank. He had no doubt whether Lance would kill them or not. For the sake of keeping his child in absolute power, to the point of being insane enough to actually replace five hundred people with clones, would this kind of guy possibly care about the lives of a mere three people?
“Dark Sun, come with me.”
But Lance did not issue the order to kill them. He only ordered Dark Sun to go with him. After he issued this command, he turned around. They didn’t walk for long before they arrived at a room where Lance allowed the machine by the door to scan over his irises. After, the door opened.
Daren carried the three people into the room. Since Eli and Eloise were both on his shoulders, he was leaning backwards. Therefore, only Elian, who was being clamped underneath Daren's arm, could lift his head up to survey the room.
The entire room was like an impregnable fortress. One wall was completely black. From its appearance, it should be a screen, though at the moment it was off, and therefore its display was dark.
The other three walls were cold, entirely metal walls. The only thing surrounded by these metal walls was a table for people to lie on. It appeared to be a table like the ones used in experiments. Around and above the table was densely crowded with gauges and piping.
Lance watched Dark Sun with great interest, and began commenting. “Later, this will be the place you will stay when you have no tasks. There are two modified humans in the corner, both with medical treatment programs installed in them. They will be responsible for treating your injuries.”
“Food will be sent once a day. Once the time comes, the wall will automatically open up a window to send in food. Also, using the toilet is the same, an opening will appear in the floor over there.”
He deliberately said the instructions particularly slow and clear.
Bedroom? This is just like a prison... Elian's blood ran cold.
“The screen before you will project whatever DSX sees. When he has a moment of confusion, he will directly send a query through the microchip and you must answer. Do you understand?”
“Understood,” Daren mechanically replied. With regard to this prison-like room, he did not reveal even the slightest expression. Just as Lance commanded, he did not display any emotion at all.
Lance walked forward a few steps, up behind Dark Sun, and lightly lifted up several silver strands of hair, saying, “Even allowing you to see your beloved Gege, I feel that can be counted as very merciful. Even though you are the child of the person I hate the most... the child of that person!”
That person... Lance tightly gripped Dark Sun's silvery hair. If the silver strands weren't Dark Sun's out of the ordinary hair, much of it probably would have long been torn off.
But this wasn't enough to vent the resentment in his heart. He turned Dark Sun around, and upon seeing Dark Sun's beautiful face, he was furious enough that it seemed as if fire would shoot from his eyes.
This made Elian feel very uneasy. Even if Daren isn't his child, is it necessary to hate him this much?
Lance was so enraged that his entire body shook. He glared at Dark Sun's face, and grabbed Dark Sun's chin with his hand. He snarled, “You bitch! I even if I gave something to you, you wouldn't want it. You always chose to run off with him! If it is like this, I won't love you anymore! However, I won't let you go either!”
After he finished his shout, he slapped Dark Sun. His facial features were distorted hideously. He only thought of unleashing all of his fury on that damned face.
Seeing this rage startled Elian, but he couldn't say anything. If a person was this furious, speaking out would most likely make the violence continue much longer.
After striking Daren several more times, Lance finally stopped. He gasped for air for a moment, then after shaking out his hand, the distorted look on his face disappeared without a trace. Only an icy expression remained as he said, “You truly are a worthy cyborg. Hitting you has only caused my hand to hurt.”
You bastard... Elian had to bite his lip so his criticism wouldn't spill out.
“Dark Sun. If you do not have an order from me, you are not allowed to take a single step out of this bedroom. As for the other three people, if they leave this room, kill them.”
After he finished speaking, Lance exited the room. The door shut and the interior of the room was completely dark. There were no lights.
The screen also continued to stay dark. At this late hour, DSX was presumably already asleep. His closed eyes would naturally be a dark screen.
At this moment, Elian felt he was being placed on the table. Then Daren's voice came from the darkness.
“Eli. Sit for now. After Elian's treatment, it will be your turn.”
Eli just made an “Nn” sound.
Daren began treating the wounds on Elian's body. Elian only felt a prick. After that, the pain in his body gradually disappeared. Thinking about it, he probably had been injected with something like a painkiller.
Daren bandaged his wounds silently.
Elian couldn't help but ask with worry, “Are you okay? If it really is unbearable, don't endure it. It’s okay to even cry.”
At that moment, Daren mechanically said, “I cannot defy father’s command, I can’t have any expression. I can’t...”
Just then, Elian suddenly hugged Daren's head and held it tightly against his chest. He quietly murmured, “It’s okay, it’s okay. Then, I'll help cry for you. However, when I cry, it's very unsightly. You're not allowed to sneak a peek, okay?”
Daren kept silent and did not reply.
With his chin against the top of Daren's head, Elian didn't need to hold in his emotions. Drop after drop slid down his chin, falling onto the other person's head, in place of the person who couldn't allow his grief to flow out.
“Why is it that ever since I've met you, you’ve encountered such sad things?”
“No matter what happened in your past, you're only a sixteen-year old child. Why do you have to endure these things?”
Elian quietly choked out, “This is too unfair. It’s too cruel...”
After that, he didn't open his mouth to say anymore. He just cried in place of the person who couldn't. After some time, Dark Sun gently pushed Elian away and continued treating his wounds.
“I'll save you all. I definitely will.”
Elian froze. That voice was Eli's... No, was it the voice of Dar's heart?
* * * * * *
From far in the distance, Ezart saw that guy, Daren, standing in front of the door to his own house. As usual, Daren had a look on his face that said he had been waiting for him.
This brat doesn't change at all! Ezart walked over, and without stopping, threw out the sentence, “Let's go!”
“Good morning... w-wait for me, Ezart!”
Daren hurriedly caught up to him. Only when he had jogged up alongside Ezart did he slow down his footsteps. He casually chatted with Ezart. “You were really late today! Did you fight in the arena yesterday and overslept?”
“Nope!” Ezart lazily replied, “Ever since I drank your old man's drug, none of the opponents that come are interesting. One punch and they fly off! It's really boring. I'm going to wait until I run out of money before I go fight again.”
Daren made an “Oh” sound.
“How was it yesterday?” Ezart glanced at him, saying oddly, “I thought after you guys finished listening to songs, you would definitely find Elian and me to go eat midnight snacks. I waited half the night. Actually, I didn't wait at all. That would have been weird.”
“I wasn't listening to songs, I was listening to an opera!” Daren immediately corrected.
“Whatever! How was it?”
“When I came home last night, I didn't go to eat midnight snacks.” Daren explained matter-of-factly, “If I came back home too late, Gege would worry.”
Ezart rolled his eyes, and irritably said, “Your older brother worries too much. He's always nagging... Speaking of which, Elian is no better. He was the one that told you to go home early, right?
Daren paused for a moment and shook his head. “It wasn't! I wanted to go home.”
Ezart made an “Oh” sound and stopped asking further.
When the two people passed by the toy shop, the store clerk suddenly ran out like a whirlwind, apologizing, “Sir, the model you ordered before, you can pick it up this evening. My boss wanted me to apologize to you first. We ended up spending additional time because it was difficult to find the ruby for the button.”
“What model?” Ezart asked with unusual curiosity. He and Dar always walked to and from school together, but he hadn't seen Daren order any models.
“A model of my brother.” After Daren finished his explanation, he turned his head to say to the clerk, “When I pass by tomorrow morning, I'll collect it on my way.”
“Alright then.” The clerk respectfully replied.
“Why the hell would you make a model of your brother?” Ezart stared at him.
“Wearing it would make me happy!” Daren explained with a wide smile.
“You nutcase!” Ezart criticized, “Can't you see your brother when you go home everyday? Why would you want to make a necklace of him to wear on you?”
“That's because, because...”
Speaking until then, Daren suddenly froze. He stayed silent for several seconds, then opened his mouth to explain. “That's because before, when I was arguing with Gege, Gege just used unpleasant expressions to look at me. I wanted to see his smile. So I wanted a model of him smiling made. That way I can always see Gege smile.”
Ezart was stunned. He hadn't thought that Daren would explain in such detail. For a moment, he didn't know what he should say back. He could only scratch his head and say, “Oh, but your brother will smile at you now, so wouldn’t that necklace be useless?”
Daren tilted his head and replied, “You're right! But it has already been made, so there isn't anything I can do.”
“Can't you return it?” Ezart glanced at the toy shop clerk. He haltingly said, “Isn't there that... right! Seven day trial period?”
The shop clerk suddenly broke out into a cold sweat. But this is custom-made merchandise, and has already been completed. What seven day trial period? Replying “It's not allowed” should be a matter-of-fact. However, when the person being replied to can crush concrete with a single foot, replying “no” doesn't seem to be so matter-of-fact anymore.
Just then, Daren suddenly flew into a rage. He shoved Ezart with one hand and seized the shop clerk with the other, roaring, “You can't return it! That's my model! It's mine!”
Ezart and the shop clerk were both startled, especially the clerk. He had witnessed Ezart and Daren arguing until they had pulverized the floor. He was so scared that his whole body was rigid. He didn't dare to move, fearing that his fate would be the same as that of the flooring.
Ezart placed a hand on Daren's shoulder. Puzzled, he tried to advise Daren, saying, “Why are you so worked up? If you don't want to return it, then don't return it. There's no need for an outburst, right?”
Daren froze, then released the clerk. He apologized. “I'm sorry. I was too excited. I don't want to return it. Please allow me to keep the model you made.”
Quivering, the shop clerk replied, “Al-Alright. Thank you for v-visiting.” After he finished speaking, he swiftly darted into the toy store.
At that instant, Ezart looked Daren up and down, asking, “Dar, is something wrong?”
Daren shook his head, and explained, “It's very important to me, so I got very excited over it.”
Ezart scratched his head, muttering, “Just say it's important. Why get so upset...”
After he finished complaining, he shrugged his shoulders and left it alone.
“Okay.” Daren nodded.
Ezart stared blankly and asked, “Okay what?”
“If it's important, I'll just say so. So later, I'll just say so and won't get overexcited again.”
Daren explained, smiling broadly. This made Ezart stunned. In his heart, he had a strange feeling he couldn't situate. Was Dar this brainless... anyway, he is always an idiot! But, saying it like this, doesn’t it seem like there's nothing wrong? He scratched his head again, unable to figure out what was so strange.
“Ezart, you've been scratching your head for a while! Has it been a long time since you've washed your hair?”
“...You're the one who hasn't washed your hair!”
“I did wash it! I wash it every day! Even though my hair doesn't need to be washed, Gege says I need to be like an ordinary boy, so I always wash my hair.”
Ezart stared blankly.
“That's right! Your hair's fake and can even turn it into a plasma weapon...” Speaking until then, he couldn't help but reach out to feel Daren's silver hair. He clicked his tongue with amazement. “How the hell do they make this hair? It's just like the real thing!”
“They put it in one strand at a time!” Daren said naturally.
Ezart frowned and asked, “Does this hurt?”
Daren shook his head, saying, “It doesn't hurt. When they were transplanting the hair, they injected anesthetics.”
“I meant... whatever!” Ezart paused for a moment, then waved his hand, saying, “Let's go! Let's go! You're going to be late to school.”
The two of them quickened their pace.
Along the way, Ezart suddenly thought of something. He asked, “Are you still protecting that singer guy today?”
“Tell Eloise to meet me at the combat simulator at about one or two.”
Daren suddenly stopped walking. He turned his head to look at Ezart, hesitating.
“What is it?” Puzzled, Ezart also stopped walking. He asked, “Eloise is just peeping from the classroom next door. Walking over to tell her isn't a problem, right?”
Daren thought for a moment and shook his head. He replied, “Nope.”
“Is there something wrong with your brain today? Your responses are so slow!” Ezart rolled his eyes.
Daren hurriedly apologized. “I'm sorry! I will improve in the future.”
Hearing this, Ezart frowned. He said, “Let's go,” and then left with big strides.
Daren hurriedly caught up.