Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 27


The last two chapters and this one give us such insight into Lu Yanchen and who, as Gui Xiao put it, “the man within his very bones” is. I don’t know about you, but I have tears in my eyes when I read this chapter, for the sacrifices that are made, for the farewells that are bid. In times and places that you may not even know, there may be someone guarding you and protecting you, fighting for you. My salute to them.

Chapter 27 — A Dream for Every Inch of Our Motherland (5)

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

It was around May or so of 2008.

The year of the Olympics. The whole nation had been in the midst of huge celebration. People like them, though, had been going day and night without a break.

Every person who is involved day in and day out in counter-terrorism knows that in such significant years like that one, people both inside and outside the country are paying great attention and watching everything that takes place on the soil of this land.

<>The translator would sincerely appreciate it if you would read this translation only at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the actual site of posting. Thank you.

For a large majority of that year, Lu Yanchen and the entire explosive ordnance disposal squad frequently had to leave the province. There were prominent conferences and events, large and small, so their schedules were packed completely with assignments of providing security support. There was a very large, important conference in Yunnan during those few days. He and several other key members of the EOD squad had arrived in advance. After resting for a couple of days and submitting their request to temporarily be away from their place of assignment, they went to Malipo County in the Wenshan Prefecture[1].

This place name was frequently mentioned during the EOD squad’s internal training times. Looking like ordinary travellers, they went during the night to a spot near the minefields there.

“Commander Lu, you wouldn’t be bringing our team here to do an on-the-spot training session, right?” Squatting down outside of the minefield, not crossing beyond the stone stele that served as a warning sign, the EOD squad leader joked with Lu Yanchen, “How about we submit a request to do this and have a go at it?”

“Even if you did want a go at it, the turn wouldn’t fall on you.” Lu Yanchen took a seat on the dirt slope and said, “Just bringing you all here to check out the scenery.”

Millions of land mines were buried in this place that had once been a battlefront, and to date only half had been cleared.

The armed period of this batch of land mines was 120 years. Waiting for them to become inactive was not an option. They required people to again and again go in to demine until they were all cleared out. He remembered when he was away teaching one time and someone had asked him, “Aren’t there robots nowadays?” In reality, although demining with the use of robots has a high degree of safety, when emergency situations are encountered, the landscape is complex, or there are multiple types of mines and other explosives intermixed and buried together, the nature of the operation is more dangerous and will still require people to manually clear the mines.

Sitting in such a place could quiet a person’s heart. As far as the eye could see were simply too many assignments that still needed to be completed. In the future, when he was no longer on the front lines, there would naturally be a place for him to go to whittle away the latter half of his life.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only 

During the following day’s conference, Lu Yanchen, as a member of the specialist team, was providing backup to onsite security and was on guard on the lawn outside the venue.

He wore civilian wear, a black top, black pants, and a black hat, and on his neck hung a name tag. In an inconspicuous corner on the venue’s lawn, he sat with a group of people, drinking water and resting.

His brigade commander came over to ask how they were doing. Before he had even spoken a couple of sentences, however, he noticed Lu Yanchen had slowly twisted the bottle cap of his mineral water shut, so forcefully that a crack appeared in that light-blue, translucent cap. Lu Yanchen, though, was completely unaware of this. As his immediate supervisor of many years, Commander Chen felt that this was too out of the ordinary, and consequently his first instinct was that there was trouble, that some suspicious persons found in their military files had appeared.

Letting his gaze follow Lu Yanchen’s, he saw that there were merely two girls, both wearing short skirts, together with a few young men.

The two girls were very young and quite pretty. However, they were absolutely unknown to him.

For one whole minute, this commander of the Counter-Terror First Squadron—the one who, to hunt down a running fugitive, had given chase over many, many miles, going for several days and nights until even the military dogs were so exhausted that they could not climb back onto their feet; yet he merely secured his worn and tattered military boots with a length of straw rope and then free-climbed, with nothing but his bare hands, up a cliff face to make his pursuit—actually lost all of his past calm and indifference towards the bustling world. That pair of eyes contained in them too many emotions, so many that even he himself had not expected it.

He actually had not seriously counted the number of years that had passed between that event and the present. He only remembered that it had been quite a long time.

That girl whom he had been unable to see even when he went back to Beijing was now just a hundred metres away from him. The ring of the clock tower of the platform of the Beijing Railway Station out on the Second Ring Road still seemed to echo in his ears. And now, his wish was at last fulfilled and he was able to have a glimpse of the face of the girl he loved.

You could not blame Brigade Commander for remembering this. Lu Yanchen’s little gestures simply stood out too obviously.

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The knuckles on the fingers of Lu Yanchen’s right hand had turned white because he was clenching that hand so tightly, and his eyelashes were quivering slightly. Eventually, he pulled his gaze away and, giving the reason that he was too hot, went to the sink to wash his face. Brigade Commander Chen sniffed out that something was amiss, but as they were in the middle of an assignment and, furthermore, were here to provide security support, they could not converse too much about personal matters.

Commander Chen glanced at his watch. There were still another thirty minutes to the event start, so he called over the EOD squad leader and instructed, “Your commander is not feeling too well today. You be a bit more attentive here.”

While agreeing to do so, the EOD squad leader muttered in his mind, That’s a joke. Commander Lu is the boss who doesn’t leave the front lines even when he has serious wounds. What the heck is “not feeling well”?

T minus 25 minutes: beside the outdoor sink, Lu Yanchen continuously splashed cold water onto his face.

T minus 24 minutes: with his two hands propped against the side of that expensive sink and his head hanging low, he forced himself to regain his composure.

T minus 23 minutes: he bowed his head even lower, burying it into his arm until his face was obscured.

T minus 22 minutes: he was still maintaining that same posture.

T minus 21 minutes: The walkie-talkie on him crackled. “Commander Lu, suspicious object at the north end of the lawn. Tested it with the metal detector already. It’s definitely something electronic.”

Without any hesitation, he rushed out with large strides.

The conference would be starting in twenty minutes. There was not enough time to even put on a bomb suit or discuss anything. Using a few gestures, he signaled that the second bomb squad should stay where they were and be on standby. Then, he took the tools that someone beside him handed to him. Several square metres of turf had already been ripped up from the lawn where the suspicious object was discovered. Slowly, he approached it, creeping onto that piece of turf, and, extending his hand, he brushed away the dirt a bit at a time…

In circumstances such as this, he had only one assignment: defuse the danger.

If he could not defuse it, he would have to pick up the explosive device and sprint in a direction that was away from all the people. Of course, this did not rule out the outcome where he was blown to pieces.

In that second when he inched onto that piece of turf, there was, for the first time ever, a complex thought in his mind prior to disarming an explosive device: Gui Xiao.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only 

Three minutes later, Lu Yanchen half raised his arm and made a “disarmed” sign.

Putting one hand on the lawn’s surface, he pushed himself back up onto his feet and, completely relaxed, stated, “Not an explosive. Go verify what it is and then fill in the form.” Behind him, the EOD squad leader, who had been keeping track of the time to judge whether or not they needed to evacuate the civilians, could not hold back a cuss. “Bastards! Didn’t they say they’d combed through and inspected everything? Who did this shoddy job?”

Beneath his black jacket, the short-sleeved top that Lu Yanchen was wearing against his skin had easily become thoroughly soaked through.

Three minutes ago, two negative thoughts had come to him: If that bomb’s force was extremely powerful and its range too great, would they have enough time to evacuate the people? If he were blown to pieces and Gui Xiao happened to see his comrades picking up the parts of his corpse…

Luckily, neither of those had occurred.

<>Your support by reading this story only at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the actual site of posting, would be greatly and sincerely appreciated. Thank you.

That day, the conference went ahead as normal.

The conference participants and guests would never know about what had taken place on the lawn.

That day, after the security-support assignment came to an end, prior to getting into the vehicle, Lu Yanchen had a smoke outside of the conference venue. He had thought, this was a rare chance that he could be so near to her, so he would stay a little longer. The time it took to smoke one cigarette was just enough to make one circuit around the outside of the conference site. The sunlight seared against his eyelids. Squinting his eyes so he could make out where the vehicle was, he tossed his cigarette into the garbage can beside the glass revolving door, and then, facing into the sun, he hopped into the vehicle and left.

Hereafter, she would return to her Beijing and he would head to his borderlands.

<>Please support this translation by only reading it at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, its actual site of posting. This would be greatly appreciated by the translator.

✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only 

This incident took place before the time they ran into one another again at the gas station.

From Lu Yanchen’s mouth, it was described without too much emotion, and in only a few sentences he finished recounting it. As Gui Xiao listened to him, her body would tense for a moment, then loosen again, and tingling goosebumps formed on her arms. She was recalling that conference. Actually, there had been nothing special about it. Many economic forums that seemingly have great international influence will, as part of routine business, send out invitations to corporations and companies. She had been there in place of her boss. The conference had been half a day long and butted up against a weekend, so she had spent a few days in Yunnan for enjoyment, too.

Upstairs in the conference hall, someone would be speaking on the stage while more than a hundred people listened down off of the stage. From time to time, someone’s mind would wander, someone would twist open a bottle of water and have a drink, or someone would flip through the information in his hands… But downstairs, there had been group of bomb disposal specialists who had not even been clad in their military uniforms but had combed through every inch of the lawn and even been wholly prepared to sacrifice their lives.

There are some professions for which the glory is destined to be buried deeply because their each and every move and action must be maintained in secrecy, unable to be publicized, unable to be reported on. To put it another way, even modern society’s most popular tactic of using public relations to build and shape an entity’s image is out of the question for these. Gui Xiao could still recall that when she and Lu Yanchen were at the point where they were about to reconcile and get back together again, she had searched on forums for information about them. What she could find had been very little, and there were even many negative comments about them.

But she could also remember that she had read one news article praising a hero of explosive ordnance disposal, a person who had a rare 100-percent success rate in bomb defusing. What did this number signify? That any person involved in this field will at some point in time, some more, some less, experience failure, injury, disablement, or death. Do people report on those? No. Those numbers are buried away; no one will pay attention to them.

In the past, these had all been so far from her.

But there had been one time, one certain moment, when Lu Yanchen had really, in the truest sense of the words, used his life to guard and protect her.

And she had not known.

<>The translator sincerely requests that you read this translation only at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the actual site of posting. Thank you.

“Oooh, there’s a destined affinity, eh, Sister-in-Law. You and our Commander Lu honestly have several lifetimes’ worth of destined affinity between you two,” Qin Mingyu straightaway sighed feelingly. “They all say that when two people are to come together, there should be some sort of fate or destined affinity to prove that they should. This is it!”

The EOD squad leader’s memory was also exceptionally good, and he supplemented the story with another hot piece of information. “I remember! That time after we came back from that security-support assignment, people from several squadrons were all having dinner together. Commander Lu represented our squadron and did a little number. His harmonica playing moved a lot of bros to tears. That was the one and only time in my life that I heard Commander Lu play the harmonica. At that time I hadn’t been here for very long yet, so I didn’t know everyone and their situations, and I had even thought, ‘This squadron commander sure is someone who is iron-tough but has a tender heart.’ I thought he was missing Sister-In-Law, but then later on, when I asked, it turned out he was a single bloke. So then, I found myself another reason for that: Commander Lu must not have encountered an outstanding woman for many years already and was just lusty. Who would have thought there would be this whole follow-up…”

That song that he had played, “Away from Home,” had already been a hit across all of China[2] before many of those people joined the military. That one line, “How I so very long to return home, to once more be by her side,” had reddened the eyes of so many soldiers.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only 

Lu Yanchen did not have many secrets, but now even the one he had was not able to be kept and had been aired in front of everyone. What was more, the revelation had happened in the presence of his former subordinates, so he more or less was feeling a little embarrassed. And so, he kept his silence.

When the obligatory booze that needed to consumed had been consumed, it was time for them to go.

The people who had drunk with them saw the two of them out, right to the door of Lu Yanchen’s vehicle. Reaching his hand over, Lu Yanchen landed a vicious swipe on the EOD squad leader’s head. “Don’t go losing an arm or missing a leg or else when you go back, you won’t be able to get yourself a wife.”

The EOD squad leader rubbed the back of his own head. “Commander Lu, all I did was expose the part of you that had been missing Sister-In-Law. Did you really need to smack me so hard? Don’t worry. When the day comes and I go back home with honour, I’m definitely going to find someone who’s even more beautiful than Sister-In-Law.”

“Hey, watch what you’re saying, you two.” Qin Mingyu did not know if he should cry or laugh. “Can you not be considerate of me, the divorced guy?”

Lu Yanchen gave a laugh. “Going now.”

He had always been a decisive person who was quick to put action to his decision, so after tossing out these words, he got into the vehicle.

Qin Mingyu had not paid heed to his instructions and had had someone send word ahead of time, so now those former squadron members of his, who had had a short rest after breakfast, all flocked up to the car. Knowing Lu Yanchen’s temperament, they did not dare say any needless words. They would just have one last look at him and that would be enough.

Lu Yanchen put on his sunglasses, which had been left in the storage compartment by his hand.

“How about you get out and say something?” Gui Xiao felt bad for them. “Even if you say one more thing, that would be good.”

“Barracks are fixed, soldiers are floating.[3]” From the edge of his sunglasses, Lu Yanchen’s eyes placidly glanced out. “What should be said was already said back when I left.”

Gui Xiao could not discern what were the emotions in Lu Yanchen’s eyes. With a turn of the steering wheel, he pressed his foot down on the accelerator and drove away.

This beat-up, second-hand vehicle did not have a license plate belonging to this place. Yet, when it drove out the main gates, it immediately drew the gazes of the two soldiers who were standing there on watch duty, and both drew themselves into a military salute in farewell.

In the glaring sunlight that pierced through the front windshield, Lu Yanchen also raised his hand and returned a proper, firm salute.

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Our blood, hot it still is[4], and coursing.
Our hearts, alive they still are, in our chests.
For this glorious land shall you and I stand on guard,
For this is our life’s aim,
And we need not bid our farewells.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only 

End of BOOK I

[1] 文山州. This is the abbreviated name for 文山壯族苗族自治州 Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, which is located in the southeast part of Yunnan province.

[2] 《在他乡》 “Away from Home,” sung by 水木年华, was released in 2001.

[3] 铁打的营盘流水的兵. “Fixed barracks, floating soldiers” is saying that the site of the military barracks will not change, but like flowing water, soldiers are always coming and going, with veteran soldiers leaving and new soldiers coming in.

[4] In Chinese, 热血, which literally means “hot blood,” is describing a passion for a worthy cause, such that you are willing to commit yourself wholly to it. The passion ignites you from within, hence the analogy to having “hot blood.”

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

Additional Comments:

Lyrics for the song that Lu Yanchen played with his harmonica:

Away From Home

我多想回到家乡 再回到她的身旁
How I so very long to return home, to once more be by her side              
看她的温柔善良 来抚慰我的心伤
To gaze upon her gentleness and kindness to comfort the hurt in my heart
就让我回到家乡 再回到她的身旁
Let me return home to once more be by her side
让她的温柔善良 来抚慰我的心伤
And allow her gentleness and kindness to comfort the hurt in my heart 

That year, you stepped foot into that twilight-touched land of another place
You thought that place held your dream
You took in all the unfamiliar gazes that were all around
But when morning came, there was no one by your side 

In the quiet, rainy night, you thought of her
Her words that tried to persuade you to stay still lingered by your ears
And you remembered her tear-stained face at the time of parting
You could not hold back your sounds of weeping

Repeat #

That year, you were lost, alone, in another land
The future you had envisioned was still not anywhere to be seen
You took in those cold, indifferent gazes
And you did not know just how much longer this road would go on

Repeat △ # #

That night
That night
That night…

1 of 1 Prologue
27 of 43 Chapters
0 of 1 Epilogues

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10 thoughts on “The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 27

  1. Woahhh…somehow I enjoy reading Lu Chen’s point of view even more than Gui Xiao. Hahaha He’s so heroic! I’m hoping there will be more chapters dedicated to LC’s POV!!!

    • I commented before that this novel so far is the one I’ve translated that gives Greg most insights from the male lead’s perspective. It’s kind of refreshing.

  2. Thank you Hoju ❤❤❤

  3. I get why Gui Xiao could never forget Lu Chen but now I wonder why Lu Chen could not forget her. I guess the next part is about Gui Xiao side of story and I’m guessing something to do with her family about cheating or something.

    I was late but finally caught up to your translations..I missed MBFB books and your translations..her books has always left me with a deep impression that not many authors could do..and for that am very thankful to you Hoju cause if not I would have never discovered MBFB. Even though sometimes you say you have a hard time expressing and translating MBFB works but I think you did an excellent work cause I’m still left with a big appreciation and desire to learn mandarin and buy her books..
    So really thank you.

    • I don’t want to say anything specific now, because we haven’t had the whole story, but when it comes to love, there often isn’t a “why.”

      Thank you. 🙂 I try my best. There are certainly inadequacies, but hopefully I am generally able to capture the author’s intent and mood. (So important in a novel!)

      I encourage you to learn if you’re interested. 🙂 Go for it!

      Thanks you so much for the kind encouragement ❤

  4. too bad no more of LYC embarrassment stories
    thank you

  5. Such great work they do to protect the nation and people. Out of words. And never thought Lu Chen had got a glimpse of Gui Xiao like this before.
    Thank you, Hoju for the chapter wand lyrics.

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