One could never see the real sunlight in the underground neighborhood. The alarm clock was the only device that would tell the arrival of the morning.
Under such circumstances, the fact that the humans on this planet could still maintain a societal order that was consistent with the biological clock was almost a miracle.
Woo! Woo! Woo!
The alarm clock chimed nonstop on the cabinet, feeling like a rooster was crowing in the middle of the night.
The large yellow cat in the photo was staring at the crowing alarm clock with his dark eyes, probably wondering where the rooster had hid.
Jing Jiu and Zong Lizi pushed open their respective room doors at the same time. Zong Lizi said "good morning" to Jing Jiu; the latter uttered "hmm". What ensued were the routines carried out for many days in the past; Zong Lizi began to wash her face and brush her teeth, took the medicine, fetched the breakfast and boiled the tea; and Jing Jiu piled up the soft cushions and then propped against them on the couch while watching the news on TV.
If one ignored the age shown by their faces and the fact that Jing Jiu had never eaten breakfast, the two of them looked very much like a couple who had been married for more than ten years.
However, it was nonetheless different that day.
Zong Lizi was to leave this dark and gloomy neighborhood and go up to the distant and second level world to study at the University of Stargate.
She wouldn't come back to this apartment for at least half a year.
"You're sure to come with me, right?" asked Zong Lizi as she picked up the cup of red tea and had a sip of it, pretending to be calm. She made use of the steam from the hot teacup to conceal the expecting expression on her face.
Jing Jiu uttered "hmm" while watching the news about the internal transfer of the battleship fleet in a distant star region. "I'll go find you after I make some arrangements," he added.
Though Zong Lizi felt a bit disappointed, she thought it was thousand times better than being separated from him. Since they would meet soon, she was in a much more delightful mood now.
"I'll send out the rental agreement today then."
Thought it was the underground neighborhood far from the hustle and bustle and the blue sky, it was still under the management of the government. There was a governmental agency in charge of renting and collecting the rents.
Now that they would leave the apartment for six months, Zong Lizi would like to rent out it to earn some money.
"No," Jing Jiu objected without a second thought.
He couldn't stand another man living in this apartment; he would feel uncomfortable at the thought that another man would prop against his couch.
He was unwilling to give the position of the sect master to Zhuo Rusui even though he had calculated that Gu Qing would leave for this reason.
Zong Lizi thought that she would lose a lot of money by doing so.
As she was about to say "You pay me the lost rent then", she thought better of it after she suddenly remembered his temperament and what he had done for her.
"I'll pay you for the lost rent," said Jing Jiu. "Two golden coins." He of course knew what she was thinking at the moment.
Zong Lizi was in no way to accept the offer, saying, "Your rental agreement is not up yet; in fact, I have to return some of your rent. There is no way I'll let you do this."
"No need to return the rent," said Jing Jiu. "There are many things you have to spend money on when you're away from home."
This was the experience he had gained back when he and Zhao Layue traveled the world; they needed money for living in the Heavenly A room in the Inn, bidding for an item at the auction house, eating the best seafood hotpot at a restaurant, or renting a most comfortable horse-drawn carriage. He continued, "I've transferred some credits to your account."
He had transferred these credits from the account of the owner of the gaming parlor. It was believed that nobody in the whole of Federation of the Milky Way could find out where the money had gone to. The main reason he chose the account of the owner of the gaming parlor was because he had found that the owner earned the money in an illegal manner. And he did it also because it became one of his habits now rather than the fact that he disliked the owner's bad temper.
Now that he was already familiar with the owner of the gaming parlor, there was no point in changing the victim.
Likewise, the Green Mountain Sect always liked going to Penglai Island to procure a godly boat, be it the Immortal Taiping, Liu Ci, or Gu Qing who went overseas after he left Chaotian.
Was what Gu Qing said true that they did it to owe a debt to the owner of the godly boats on purpose?
Maybe it was how Gu Qing thought about it; but the Immortal Taiping, Liu Ci and Jing Jiu definitely didn't have such a purpose on their minds when doing it.
They did it simply owing to a habit.
A habit was a sort of mental shackle that was the hardest to overcome, even for those highly achieved Cultivationists.
In their eyes, the owner of the godly boats had plenty of money and boats; so he wouldn't care about losing a few boats.
Of course, there was nothing the owner of the godly boats could do even if he cared.
Zong Lizi was startled at first. She turned on her bracelet and checked the information and found that a large amount of money had been deposited to her account.
She of course cared very much about this large amount of money; it was because she needed the money to attend the university and to go through the gene modification. Most importantly, she wished to stay alive.
She didn't attempt to return the money to Jing Jiu this time. "Thank you," said she earnestly while looking at Jing Jiu.
She had a proud and aloof personality, be it in primary school, high school or at the New Era Institute. Even if she pretended to be such in the beginning, the pretentious act became a habit after a long time.
She had seldom accepted others' help; as such, she had never had the opportunity to say "thank you" in the past.
Ever since she had this youth as a tenant, she said "thank you" more times than what she had said in the last sixteen years.
It was because the youth continued helping her and didn't let her refuse him.
"Like I said, I'm using you. The money is the cost for it," Jing Jiu said to her.
Zong Lizi curled up the corners of her mouth, flashing an appealing smile. "But you haven't used me yet, at least until now," said she.
Having said this, she walked into Jing Jiu's chest and hugged him tightly, propping her head against his shoulder; she stayed in this position for a long time.
The room became exceedingly quiet. The alarm clock didn't chime ignorantly, and the news on TV grew lower.
Jing Jiu was rather experienced when facing such an occasion. He stood on the spot like a wooden puppet, staring straight forward, hands hanging by the sides. He tried his best to breathe evenly and maintain the same heartbeats.
This was tantamount to the saying "I let you hug me, but I won't touch your waist".
A long moment had elapsed; it was not too long, but definitely not too short.
As Jing Jiu began to read the fourth paper, Zong Lizi had released her hands at last. She fixed her silvery hair in slight embarrassment before she turned around and walked into her bedroom.
She went back to her bedroom to pack her luggage and to let the flush on her face fade away.
She packed a simple luggage. The University of Stargate provided their students with the accommodation and daily clothing and uniforms for four seasons; there were free theatres, gaming rooms, ball parks and exercise rooms on campus…All in all, the school had everything the community could offer, and everything was free.
Zong Lizi walked out of the room after putting some under-clothes and personal items in the luggage. She came before the cabinet and looked at the large yellow cat in the photo, her eyes showing a hint of reluctance.
Jing Jiu showed a hint of reluctance in his eyes as he looked at the couch.
His ability of containing heaven and earth had lost its essence after he left Chaotian; he couldn't bring things with him any longer. Even if he had procured a spatial magic treasure from Cloud-Dream Mountain, he would have broken it during his fight against the heavenly demons of the outside world. Was he to leave the couch here?
Zong Lizi took out a backpack for him, saying, "Regardless of where you are going to hide the money and things, be careful when you take them out. Don't let anyone see them."
The backpack was made from the cotton cloth and covered with a layer of black paint. Though it didn't look nice, it was strong enough.
Jing Jiu had never cared so much about the appearance in the first place. He put the silvery computer and a set of blue tracksuits that he had never worn before into the backpack, and turned to leave the apartment.
The grayish white flying device took off from the grassy ground, heading toward the high sky.
Countless layers of clouds were in the sky, amid which there were many platforms visible intermittently. Two clusters of platforms faced each other like the two opposite cliffs, with the sky in between.
Seeing the flying device gradually disappearing into the clouds and fog, the students of the New Era Institute had some complicated emotions. They had gradually ceased waving their hands.
Looking at the two blurry trails left behind by the flying device over the grassy ground, Lu Shuiqian, for some reason, started crying all of a sudden. Then, she ran to the distance while covering her face with her hands.
Seeing this, the students felt startled, wondering how she and Zong Lizi had had such an emotionally close relationship.
Zong Lizi sat by the window, feeling a bit nervous.
She didn't want the middle-aged man by the name of Gao Shu to find out her nervousness; she turned her head toward the window to look at the outside with her head covered with the hoodie of the tracksuits. She had already expressed her nostalgia and reluctance in the apartment; and she knew that Jing Jiu wouldn't come to see her off. As such, she didn't shoot a glance at the teachers and classmates who had turned into the size of ants on the grassy ground.
It was the first time that she left the underground neighborhood. Besides nervousness, she also felt intrigued.
She focused her attention on the platforms visible intermittently among the clouds and fog and the buildings of various construction styles on the platforms.
Sitting across from her, Gao Shu watched her in secret and found that he and the CEO hadn't made a misjudgment.
Who could display such a calm countenance when leaving the underground neighborhood the first time? More importantly, she was merely sixteen years old.
It was impossible that this little girl was as simple as what was described in the files; at least her background was not that simple.
It was true that she had a miserable life so far; but it was commonplace. In the Federation of the Milky Way, many people had become sick and died after the gene modification provided by the government was ineffective and they had no money to go through further automatic optimization of genes. As for the scheme of the mutual funds, many people had committed suicides because of it.
However, what was the relationship between her and the chairman who was on the distant Main Planet?
The silvery flying device was ascending among the clouds and fog.
The clouds and fog looked much more sporadic than when they were seen from a distance; and the clouds over the crust of the planet were much thinner than what was described in the instructing materials of the subject matter, which is why the sight could pass through them easily.
Zong Lizi looked at the outside of the window quietly and those slogans of the old times written on the metal cliffs and the sewer water leaking out from the cracks on the cliffs. She suddenly thought of the occasional rainfalls in the underground neighborhood, wondering if the raindrops were the sewer water.
After a long while, the clouds and fog had dissipated; and the metal cliffs had been gradually replaced by the newly built floating platforms; the opposite sides were further apart.
The evident difference was that the blue sky overhead was more expansive, and the white clouds were much clearer. They looked more like the descriptions in the text books and the scenes seen on TV.
All of a sudden, the flying device leapt off the ground.
The sun appeared outside the window abruptly and in front of Zong Lizi's eyes.
It was then that she couldn't maintain her calmness any longer. She thought of a documentary film she had watched, gasping.
A whale at the bottom of the sea had swum for a long time toward the surface and finally leapt out of the sea, arriving in the sky with a joyful and deep cry. However, the whale had merely stayed in the sky for a brief moment before it dropped back into the sea. The whale was in the end hauled by a fishing boat of the planet to a port, which would become the source for the food and protein powder.
Would she end up like that?
The silvery flying device suddenly began to descend, drawing a curved line in the sky.
She grabbed the safety belt nervously and looked around reflexively. It was unclear if she behaved this way because she thought of the whale or she thought that she would come to a strange world. Yet, she didn't see the figure that could make her feel reassured.
Where are you right now?
The people in the underground neighborhood found the lamps by the streets were fairly fine-looking because they hadn't seen the sun for a long time.
However, the lamps by the streets were on day and night; as such, the sensation of their beauty grew less overtime.
Standing under an out-of-order street lamp, Jing Jiu looked at the sliver of dim sunlight flashing past. After that, he had waited for a long time.
He needed to read many mathematical papers; so waiting was not grueling for him.
As the street lamps shimmered, the tall and dangerous metal cliff above him grew darker.
He ran to the end of the alley with the backpack on his back and flew up along the rusty metal structure.
As the night wind ruffled the hoodie he wore, Jing Jiu ascended increasingly faster. He passed the cliff ground where the New Era Institute was situated in the blink of an eye.
During the flight he had readjusted the directions of all the surveillance cameras by means of the internet; and he had also shut down more than ten scanning devices between the platforms. Though shutting down the scanning devices would cause the alarm system to go off, the idling personnel at various departments might think the problem was caused by an exceedingly strong electrical flow or other unknown reasons as long as the time of shutting down was short enough.
The explosion of the testing apparatus at the New Era Institute gave him the confidence of his speculative ability he gained from watching TV and reading the relevant books.
If there were some lamps on the metal cliff walls and if someone had a sharp sight, they would be able to see a marvelous scene in which a youth in the tracksuits with a backpack on his back was traversing among the huge metal beams, as if he was on his way to school. He could cover a few miles by tapping the tips of his toes lightly.
It would be simpler and faster if he turned into a sword light; however, a few battleships were floating in a corner of the dark universe, and they would notice any object that moved abnormally fast.
As Jing Jiu leapt among the huge metal beams, he, like Zong Lizi, saw the sewer water leaking out of the cracks, the platforms at which he could only look up when he lived in the underground, and the buildings. During the trip, he had also passed by some platforms that were sealed-off and obviously different from the others. They were made from the old-style concrete with many cracks on them, which might be the damages from the wars of distant ancient times.
A bit of color could be seen in the dark sky. It was a warm and red light, resembling the light emitted by the Thoughtless Sword when Zhao Layue was in a good mood.
A black figure appeared by the edge of the huge floating metal platform, and passed through the magnetic protective railing soundlessly, heading toward a city in the distance.
It was then that the morning sun leapt up from behind the distant mountains, illuminating the entire world.
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