Eclipse Hunter Volume 1: Brothers
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我(Yu Wo)
Extra: I Don’t Love You—translated by Trespasserby (proofread by EvlNabiki; C/E edited by lucathia)
“An Te Qi, do you want to come grab a drink with us after work?” Someone spoke while patting An Te Qi on the shoulder.
An Te Qi turned around and saw it was his classmate from the same laboratory.
Establishing good relationships with your classmates was actually very important for grad students; whether it was leaving for a date with a girlfriend and consequently needing someone to look after a lab, or not knowing the answer for a report, or when the professor was ticked off at you… Lots of things required the valuable assistance of your classmates!
However, he had no choice but to apologetically turn the offer down, “Sorry. After the experiment’s done, I have to get back home.”
Another classmate patted the one who had made the offer and muttered, “Idiot! An Te Qi has to head home to take care of his little brother!”
The person who had given the invitation was puzzled, but under his classmate’s repeated urgings, he still said to An Te Qi with an apologetic expression on his face, “Oh, oh! Then we’ll be leaving first.”
An Te Qi nodded and watched his classmates leave. Two people’s mutterings floated over. “An Te Qi has to look after his little brother? How old is his brother?”
“I’ve heard he’s ten, and there seems to be something seriously wrong with his body.”
“What about their parents?”
“Are you stupid? Haven’t you heard An Te Qi’s from an orphanage?”
“So that’s how it is…”
Hearing what was said, An Te Qi bitterly smiled and just raised his head to look at the clock.
Without him noticing, it was already six. Although he wanted to continue his experiment, thinking of the ten year old child back home, he was left with no choice but to put down his work, pack up, lock the lab door, and then leave.
On his way back, he picked a random store and bought two takeout dinners.
Although the lab wasn’t far from home, the roads were always clogged at this hour. By the time he arrived home, it was already past seven.
As soon as he opened the door, a heavy weight pounced on him, giving him a huge scare.
An Te Qi lowered his head to look at the child at his chest. He was being squeezed very tightly, but he didn’t dare to forcefully struggle free, fearing that he would hurt the frail child. He could only helplessly say, “Let go of me already. The food’s almost gone cold.”
The child released him and shyly said, “Jiěfū,1 welcome home…”
“Yeah. I’m home.”
An Te Qi twitched when he heard himself addressed that way. There couldn’t be anyone more stupid than him, right?
He was more than busy with experiments, and it had taken him a lot of difficulty to get a girlfriend. They had just become engaged when his fiancée had run off with someone else. Not only had she run off, she had dumped her own younger brother at his home and he hadn’t heard anything from her since then… It was utterly ridiculous!
An Te Qi even suspected that his fiancée may have deliberately approached him and engaged herself to him, someone she rarely saw, just to leave her younger brother behind at his home.
After all, she knew he specialized in research related to replacing dysfunctional organs with artificial ones.
This child was naturally sickly with many illnesses. Not only that, his heart had a birth defect and his immune system also had problems, not to mention the other minor health issues he had. It could be said that half of his body was damaged.
Although he wanted to notify social services to deal with it, An Te Qi knew that without a specialized doctor to watch over him, it wouldn’t be a year before the child would be saying goodbye to the world. And he also clearly understood that the social services’ orphanage definitely did not have any specialists who would look after this child.
Because he had been there before.
Fully aware that sending the child to the orphanage was no different from sending him to his death, An Te Qi kept putting it off. A year since the child’s older sister had run off had passed without An Te Qi noticing, and the child was still with him.
And was even still alive. An Te Qi felt a bit of pride at this.
However, he still wasn’t healthy.
“It’s ridiculous. Even though I have the skills, I don’t have the money.”
An Te Qi shot a glance at the pallid child. If he wanted this child to become healthy, he needed skills, time, and money… Even if he had each of those three prepared, this frail child would probably be unable to survive the multiple surgeries.
“Jiěfū, I’m really hungry…” The child looked at the delicious-smelling takeout and swallowed his drool.
“Mm.” An Te Qi nodded and instructed, “Eat the medicine you’re supposed to eat before meals first.”
The child obediently nodded and ran to the cupboard, pulling out his personal medicine box. Then he began twisting open the pill bottles one by one and taking out the pills inside, placing each of them upon his small palm.
As he took them out, he sang, “Remember! The pills to take before the three meals are in the white bottle! Once a day, before dinner, eat the ones in the black bottle! It’s a total of five pills to eat before dinner! Don’t count wrong!”
As he listened to the child sing, An Te Qi put down his briefcase and suit jacket. It had taken him a lot of thinking before coming up with a song for the child to understand how to administer the medicine.
He could only eat dinner together with the child, so he had to get the child to properly remember how to administer the medicine on his own. It was fine if someone else took the wrong medicine, but if this child did that, it would cost him his life!
Once the medicine had been eaten, he and the child ate dinner together. Even though it was only two takeout dinners, the child still ate happily and nagged at An Te Qi to let him watch cartoons.
Although he knew watching TV while eating wasn’t good, An Te Qi still couldn’t refuse the child and put on cartoons for him to watch. In the end, An Te Qi himself was even watching with great interest.
Cartoons nowadays were both really violent and entertaining. Good shows! But not suitable for children to watch.
Watching the child yell things like “Go! Kill the bad guys!” or “Rescue the beauty!”, An Te Qi knew it was wrong, but just shrugged it off. After all, he was a doctor, not an educator.
As for whether or not the child’s future or his personal development would have problems… It wasn’t important. If this child lived to see a future, that would already be a miracle.
The neighbors called to tell An Te Qi that the child had fainted and was in the hospital.
An Te Qi rushed to the hospital and met the gaze of a fellow doctor. The doctor had an expression of unease, seemingly not entirely sure how to explain the child’s situation.
“In half a year, if he doesn’t get an operation, he’s going to die. I know. You don’t have to say anything.” An Te Qi said, somewhat wearily, “I’m also a doctor.”
The doctor looked apologetically at him, saying, “Even if he does have the operation, he’ll likely…”
He’ll likely only be able to hold on for a few months more. He knew. He completely understood. Because he was a doctor.
When he returned to the lab, An Te Qi told his professor and classmates, “I’m deferring my studies.”
“What?” The professors and students couldn’t believe it. An Te Qi had the highest grades in the lab. Most of his research was near completion. All he had to do was publish it, and both fame and fortune were guaranteed to be his.
He fell silent for a moment and said, “I need money. I’ll be starting my practice now.”
“Going into practice?” A classmate felt it was strange, asking, “But don’t you like research more?”
“I need the money! Within half a year!” An Te Qi emphasized again.
“That’s impossible!” A classmate exclaimed, “You still have to do your residency. You won’t be able to earn much money within half a year.”
An Te Qi understood his own abilities. He growled, “My skills are more than ten times better than those actual doctors!”
Seeing that An Te Qi was agitated, a classmate said a bit timidly, “Although your skills are excellent, hospitals don’t care about that. You still have to finish your residency.”
An Te Qi began to despair. How will I make it in time?
He couldn’t make it in time, so he chose a different path and became an underground doctor. An underground doctor desperate for money.
Relying on introductions from his professor and classmates, he brought several patients back from the brink with surgeries that had low chances of success and began earning a reputation… An underground reputation.
Once he had a good reputation, the money flowed in fast. Because everyone feared death, the amount of money people were willing to pay in order to avoid dying was incredible.
Soon, An Te Qi had a lot of money. He first switched the child to better medication and strenuously helped him to make his body stronger. The child couldn’t be operated on while he had such a weak body.
Six months later, he had operated at least fifty times, and had amassed quite a sum of money… But it would be barely adequate for the operation. He had purchased the artificial organs to replace the child’s organs, but he was still unable to buy ones of a slightly better quality.
However, the child wouldn’t be able to wait any longer. If they delayed any more, the child would no longer have the strength to survive the operation. An Te Qi could only pray for his own excellent skills and the child’s strength of will to create a miracle!
In three days, the operation would happen. An Te Qi bought all the child’s favorite foods for him, filling up the entire table.
“If I get better, will Jiějiě come back?” The child’s eyes were wide.
An Te Qi was busy looking at a pile of X-ray images and straightforwardly answered, “Probably not.”
“Oh!” The child didn’t say anything, and silently ate the food covering the table. He could not hide the disappointment in his eyes.
“Doctor An Te Qi… His blood pressure and pulse are decreasing!”
An Te Qi was in a panic. How could this happen? There wasn’t a single problem in the operation until now!
A nurse loudly called out, “His heartbeat’s stopped!”
Of course, An Te Qi knew already. He was dazed and shouted out, “Resuscitation!”
He held the defibrillators and repeatedly shocked the boy’s chest, while muttering in his heart, Really. Your chest is going to have burn marks and you still aren’t waking up? Do you want your entire chest to be covered in burns?
The nurses whispered off to the side.
“It’s no good… The boy’s heart wasn’t good and he’s been shocked so many times…”
“The operation failed.”
“The kid’s dead. Poor thing.”
Resuscitation went on for one hour, two hours. Everyone knew the child was dead.
Only the doctor didn’t understand.
In the end, none of the nurses knew what to do. The beep from the machine indicating that the patient’s heart had stopped had already gone on for a long, long time now.
Finally, An Te Qi ripped off his mask, grabbed the child’s corpse, and exploded, “Why?! The operation was flawless! Not a single mistake! Get up. I spent so much time, so much money, gave up my studies, gave up my medical license… Why did you still die? Bastard!
An Te Qi yelled as he rushed out from the operation room.
The child turned to ash. An Te Qi didn’t return to the labs. He was still an underground doctor, and amassed a huge sum of money, purchasing the best artificial organs to burn at the child’s grave.
If I had been able to buy these at the time, maybe you wouldn’t have died.
One by one, An Te Qi silently threw the costly organs into the flames.
The best organs had been purchased and burned, but that wasn’t enough. He wanted to have even better skills, even better medical techniques. Only with a zero percent surgery mortality rate would he be able to ensure the child certainly would not have died.
The child can’t die!
Stepping into this laboratory with unlimited funds, his own dream laboratory, An Te Qi already had the resolve to extinguish his conscience.
With unlimited funds, a hidden location, and experiments directly carried out on human beings… All of it told him that this was a place that didn’t see humans as human.
However, he still set foot into it anyway. Only a place like this would let him improve his surgical techniques and gain better medical skills.
But An Te Qi still froze when he saw who the subject of the experiment was… It was actually a child!
It looked like the child was even younger than his own kid, younger by quite a few years too! Eight years old, or maybe seven?
The child had a unique hair color, silvery white. He was lying on an operating table with both hands and feet shackled, like a prisoner.
He cried endlessly. He screamed. He yelled in pain, “No! Ah Ye’s hurting! Gēge! Gēge!”
But no one took notice of him.
An Te Qi unconsciously walked to the operating table. He stroked the child’s forehead and put on a smile to say, “Hello. Is your name Ah Ye?”
The child’s wails grew quieter, and he used eyes bleary from crying to look dubiously at An Te Qi.
“I’m An Te Qi. I’m Ah Ye’s doctor.”
The child didn’t seem to understand what a doctor was and only softly sobbed, “Gēge, I want Gēge.”
Hearing this, An Te Qi’s heart suddenly ached. His child also always cried for his big sister. Even though he knew he’d been abandoned, he still insisted on asking for his sister.
“Ah Ye has a big brother? Do you like your brother very much?”
The child nodded resolutely.
“Then you have to be good. Ah Ye is sick, so you can’t go see your brother. Ah Ye needs to be patient, and when the treatment is over, then you can go see your brother.”
The child nodded firmly and loudly replied, “O.K. I’ll be good. Ah Ye wants to see Gēge.”
The child didn’t cry any longer. It was even more effective than an analgesic or sedative. The others in the lab viewed him with awe.
But he was in even more awe of this child whose determination to see his gēge was stronger than anything else.
Yet another surgery.
What was different was that last time, the operation was to save a child and that this time, the operation was to kill one. After this surgery, the child would be dead, only leaving behind a robot called Dark Sun.
An Te Qi was still looking at X-rays, constantly playing out the process of implanting the microchip in his mind to prevent himself from thinking about other problems. He didn’t want to think about why he had originally entered this laboratory or what he would shortly be doing… Those two things running in complete opposition to each other would drive him insane.
Before entering the operation room, the child widened his eyes and expectantly said, “Doctor, if my sickness gets better, can I go see Gēge?”
An Te Qi stiffened. This question and the one from that child back then seemed so alike, so similar…
His mind floated back to that child from before. Without thinking, he replied, “Yeah. As long as you’re better, you can go see your brother.”
The child’s eyes shone with the light of hope.
Seeing this light, An Te Qi suddenly understood.
Better doctors, better medical equipment, better funds, they all couldn’t compare to… A single lie.
At that time, it wasn’t that the medical equipment wasn’t good enough or that there was a problem in the operation. What had actually killed that previous child was a single truth—his jiějiě was never coming back.
The truth was the truth, but it wasn’t the correct answer.
Was it the truth he had told that had killed his own child? An Te Qi’s heart ached, his eyes reddened and became sore, and he hastily began to leave, wanting to calm down for a moment before continuing the surgery.
I absolutely don’t love him! The surgery to implant the microchip is even more dangerous than all the other surgeries. He’s going to die. He’s definitely going to die. But…
At this time, An Te Qi’s footsteps stopped. Implanting a microchip was very dangerous, but maybe this child wouldn’t die. There were so many dangerous experiments already done and this child had survived them all. This child’s eyes were shining. He doesn’t want to die!
But the microchip would erase Ah Ye’s emotions.
An Te Qi’s back leaned against the wall and he slowly slid down to sit on the ground. He buried his head in his knees, murmuring, “Ah Ye, you’re about to die. Is it all right if I don’t love you? Forgive me for not loving you, all right?”
“Doctor? Do you want to begin the operation?” A nurse timidly walked over to inquire.
”Yes.” An Te Qi adjusted his expression, stood up, and walked back to the operation room.
Ah Ye saw the doctor and was very happy. Beaming, he said, “Doctor, after Ah Ye’s with Gēge, you have to come visit Ah Ye. You’ll definitely like Gēge, Doctor.”
This child wants an “after.” He wants a future!
He wants to live!
Ah Ye is different from that child from before. He won’t die. He will definitely endure this operation!
After the operation, he’ll continue to live!
An Te Qi’s tears fell straight down. Flustered, he wiped the tears away and growled, “Damn it! My eyes hurt… Stop the operation! There’s a part of the experiment I want to discuss with the other doctors.”
An Te Qi walked out of the operation room. The corner of his mouth was curled in a faint smile. “Ah Ye, you have to live. I’ll make sure you keep on living.”
You have to live. Otherwise, I won’t love you anymore.
1 Jiěfū: a specific term for brother-in-law (elder sister’s husband).