Breaking the Body’s Limit
It seems all of us will have to pitch camp here… Bai Luo Yin secretly thought.
Since Zhou Ling Yun had taken the troops out, it was certain that he had fully grasped the urgency of their failure. That being the case, it was also a certainty that he would not arrange for them to train in the service facilities on base. His only intention was to exhaust their so called ‘evil tendencies’ to the maximum in order to make them completely obedient to his commands.
When Bai Luo Yin was controlling his aircraft just a moment ago, his hands had suffered some small injuries. While he was still in the cockpit, the wounds were bleeding profusely, but by the time he stepped out after completing all his tasks, the blood had already congealed. He carefully checked on the soldiers, fortunately, none were critically injured. However, several aircrafts were severely damaged, and repairing them could turn out a bit troublesome. Just as he was checking on the inventory and counting the number of soldiers present, a figure that caused his chest to tighten emerged into his line of sight.
What’s going on? Why is Liu Chong here? When the list of names for this training session was reported, his name was purposely excluded!
Bai Luo Yin hastily rushed toward him.
Hearing Bai Luo Yin’s voice, Liu Chong immediately swung his body around as a hint of surprise and joy unfurled across his youthful face. “Major, I have been looking for you this whole time! When I saw your fighter aircraft being fiercely attacked by the enemy, I was really worried that something might happen to you!”
You’re still worrying about me? Bai Luo Yin did not know whether he should be moved or curse in anger. “Why are you also here? Who approved of you being here?”
“Wing Commander Zhou. He was the one who ordered me to come here.” Liu Chong explained proudly. “He believed that I could overcome my physical difficulties and complete this training mission.”
He saw through your eagerness and deliberately set you up! Looking at him, Bai Luo Yin did not have the heart to destroy Liu Chong’s enthusiasm and instead opted to not say anything. He simply touched Liu Chong’s head and calmly said in a low voice, “By all means: take notice of your health. This place is not like the base and the temperature is very low. If possible, stay in the tent and avoid going out.”
Just as he finished his sentence, the whistle sounded to notify all the battalion commanders for a meeting.
Needless to say, the meeting was set up to summarize the failure of their recent training session. Zhou Ling Yun looked calm, yet his keen eyes ruthlessly scrutinized all the officers and commanders before him. However, as his gaze swept by Bai Luo Yin, there was a trace of complacence riding his expression.
Commander, could it be that the inadequate performance of our weapons was due to the electromagnetic interference being too massive?” Three battalion commanders hesitantly questioned.
Zhou Ling Yun angrily shouted, “Don’t blame it on dysfunctional weapons, you guys are just incompetent!”
As those words spread throughout the room, no one dared to express any more opinions.
Zhou Ling Yun’s gaze shifted back toward Bai Luo Yin. “What do you think? Don’t you like to challenge my authority? I want to see what kind of excuses you can make up this time!”
To everyone’s surprise, Bai Luo Yin just calmly said, “I have no comment. I am completely in favor of your evaluations, we are indeed lacking in our skills.”
Zhou Ling Yun could see the immense energy and talent hidden in Bai Luo Yin’s eyes. It had the kind of intrinsic quality that he had not seen in a long time. For someone like Zhou Ling Yun, who loves and appreciates talent as he does life, Bai Luo Yin’s appearance undoubtedly had provoked a formidable struggle within him. By this time, the hidden desire in his heart was roaring.
“I will repeat it once more. Discard all the records of your previous achievements. I would rather see you accomplish a 10% success rate under these kinds of circumstances than never being able to reach a 100% score in optimal conditions!”
Shortly after, the meeting concluded and aside from Bai Luo Yin, the rest of the battalion commanders took their leave.
“Why did you allow Liu Chong to come to this kind of place?” Bai Luo Yin asked.
“I did not allow him to come here.” Zhou Ling Yun said rather indifferently. “You guys were the ones that forbade him from coming. Also, I did not invite him here. Do you understand? I only gave him an opportunity to decide for himself.”
“If you did not provoke him, would he have made this kind of rash decision?” Bai Luo Yin’s voice revealed a deep sense of dissatisfaction.
“Impudent fool!” Zhou Ling Yun roared. “Is provocation a word you can use with me? What qualifications do you have to challenge me? There are only orders here, not friendship! Discard this obnoxious behavior of yours, otherwise—don’t expect to keep your mouth!”
Standing not too far away, the soldiers on the scene witnessed with concern the unjust admonition Bai Luo Yin suffered under the hand of their overbearing superior.
Bai Luo Yin remained persistent in his views, “I did not say those words for the sake of friendship. It is in the interest of the Army! Liu Chong is a rare talent. You set him up in this bitterly cold place while knowing full well that he is still in recovery. You know, it is highly possible that he will suffer lifelong disability. Is this your way of training your troops? Or could it be that your motive for training everyone is not to make them strong but rather to destroy them completely?”
Zhou Ling Yun’s heavy hand firmly struck Bai Luo Yin’s head before he said, word by word: “Our troops will not train useless people!”
Bai Luo Yin stiffened as his lips tightly pursed.
Then Zhou Ling Yun’s hand shifted slowly from the top of Bai Luo Yin head to the side of his lips before he ruthlessly twisted his mouth, and derisively yelled, “Control your mouth!”
Not having drunk any water for an entire day, Bai Luo Yin could feel that his lips were already dry. Adding to that the frigid environment and Zhou Ling Yun’s harsh action, countless wisps of blood started to seep from his lips.
Soon after, Zhou Ling Yun loudly announced in front of the officers and soldiers, “Deputy Battalion Commander Bai Luo Yin has openly disobeyed his superior’s direct command. He is to have no food for a day and must climb 100 trees as punishment. I hope that the lot of you will see this as a warning!”
All the officers and soldiers on the scene were secretly frightened for Bai Luo Yin. In their memory, ever since Bai Luo Yin arrived in the Army, he had never received any disciplinary actions. Aside from his outstanding performances, he also had formidable backing from Gu Wei Ting. Therefore, in regard to problems concerning Bai Luo Yin, many superiors would take this into consideration.
Zhou Ling Yun spat out a few more words, “Every one of you must remember, I will not give anyone special privileges! Even if you were the son of the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, you will still be punished according to the same disciplinary rules!”
Bai Luo Yin’s body stiffened while he remained silent and kept an air of indifference. Then, under everyone’s attentive gazes, he started to walk toward the forest packed with poplar trees.
For all one hundred trees, he must climb to the very top, climb back down— then move on to the next tree without resting.
Bai Luo Yin’s exposed skin was ruthlessly assaulted by the bone chilling wind and the sand that blew in from the vast desert that stretched as far as the eye could see. The rough surface of the tree abraded his hands and created blisters of blood that, when they ruptured, smeared the bark with blood as it pressed into his wounds.
After climbing thirty trees, Bai Luo Yin’s physical strength was already nearing complete exhaustion. However, never one to back down, he firmly gritted his teeth and kept on going, not even once letting his pace slacken. He was adamant to fight on and complete the mission in the shortest amount of time possible, then return to their tent and embrace Liu Chong as to help him safely pass through the remaining three hours of this night.
Meanwhile, Zhou Ling Yun was sitting inside his tent, appearing as though he was leisurely smoking a cigarette. But in reality, he was secretly counting the time and determining Bai Luo Yin’s level of tolerance.
Once he finally climbed down the one hundredth tree, both of Bai Luo Yin’s legs had already gone weak from exertion. His whole body had braved the scathing heat that came from constantly moving. Large beads of sweat had already formed and collected at the cuff of his shirt. His sense of balance had also been diminished, causing him to stagger as he walked toward Zhou Ling Yun’s quarters.
When Zhou Ling Yun saw Bai Luo Yin approaching, he deliberately closed his eyes and pretended to be fast asleep.
Bai Luo Yin took position outside of the tent. Then, with much difficulty, he took two deep breaths and loudly shouted: “Wing Commander, I have finished climbing a hundred trees.”
Hearing no response whatsoever, Bai Luo Yin repeated his report several more times, knowing full well that Zhou Ling Yun was definitely not asleep.
After a very long while, Zhou Ling Yun’s voice finally sounded from the inside.
“If I did not see it, it does not count. Go back and climb all over again.”
Bai Luo Yin clenched his fists tightly until his knuckles cracked.
Zhou Ling Yun yawned and emerged from the tent with a rather lazy look in his eyes, before he scrutinized Bai Luo Yin.
“Is there a problem?”
Hearing that, Bai Luo Yin simply looked Zhou Ling Yun with blank expression. Then he shook his head left and right as if it was screwed on with rusty nails.
Zhou Ling Yun’s judgment was very accurate. Bai Luo Yin’s tolerance for pain far surpassed that needed to climb one hundred trees. Even while he climbed for the second time, he was still able to maintain a relatively quick and nimble tempo. His hidden potential was tremendous; it was just that no one had ever dared to push him to his limits.
After having climbed more than ninety trees, Bai Luo Yin was no longer able to leap up smoothly, nor grasp the tree trunks firmly. Unable to control his weakened hands, he would slip back down several times, the trunk grazing his chin until it was bleeding. Once he reached the top of the tree, he would climb back down, however, the key to spare himself some effort, was to directly fall down. Every time Bai Luo Yin dropped down from the top was the only time he could take a breather.
After having climbed another one hundred trees, Bai Luo Yin only had one feeling. If he were to climb another tree, he would definitely die.
However, just as fast as that thought surfaced, it faded the moment Zhou Ling Yun pointed to a thick and solid poplar tree and said, “If you can climb up and come down in ten seconds, I will let you go. If not, you can climb another hundred.”
“That’s impossible!” Bai Luo Yin said as his throat choked up in blood.
Even after seeing that, Zhou Ling Yun’s expression did not change in the slightest as he stretched his finger out and started to count down with a menacing tone.
“One, two, three…”
Bai Luo Yin frantically jumped on the tree. His mind was completely blank, except for that one goal: the tree top. There was only one sound in his ear: five…six…seven…eight… nine…
Just as Bai Luo Yin reached the top, a loud and thunderous bang went off inside his head. His hands immediately released their grip, and as a strong gust of wind flew by his ears, he fell into a pair of warm arms.
The corners of Zhou Ling Yun’s lips perked up as he unhurriedly shouted, “Ten…”
When he lowered his head to look, the person he held in his arms had already fallen asleep.
As three dreadful three days passed by, not a single soldier suffered from insomnia anymore. Now, at nearly any given place and at any given time, they were able to fall asleep. But once the alarm sounded, they were all well-trained to rush toward the “battlefield”.
The result of this rigorous and torturous training caused the look in everyone’s eyes to become less expressive, and more unafraid in the eye of their adversary. When they climbed into their fighter aircrafts, they were passionate and worked up for combat.
The environment in the Gobi plateau was plagued by danger that far exceeded what the soldiers could have ever imagined. In the three days that they were there, everyone changed from their usual dignified, confident and easygoing selves, into a completely battered and exhausted state. Not only were their hands and feet covered with frostbite and blisters, but the skin on their faces was dry and covered with cuts and bruises. Simply put, they had all been driven to the point of looking like a group of refugees from a famine-stricken region.
Except from regular training time, Bai Luo Yin accompanied Liu Chong at all other times. What Zhou Ling Yun required from Liu Chong was the same as for the other soldiers, so even if he had to jump on one leg—he still had to keep up with the troops.
If it had not been for Bai Luo Yin, he would have lost his life already.
Every night, Bai Luo Yin slept in the same tent as Liu Chong and hugged him to sleep. This was done to keep Liu Chong’s body temperature at constant degree as to avoid his injury having any repercussions.
Since the day he came back from climbing the trees, Bai Luo Yin’s once persistently cold hands and feet had been completely cured. Liu Chong felt like he was sleeping next to a heated stove.
Bai Luo Yin’s body would emit a strange heat that sometimes would wake him up, thinking that it was Gu Hai who was hugging him. As a result, every time he slept, he would mumble to himself in a daze and deliriously rave, “Don’t hug me so tight… don’t hug me so tightly…”
During those moments, Bai Luo Yin hugged Liu Chong too snugly which caused him to sweat profusely. Every time he wanted to move a bit, he found it impossible and in the end— he still had to endure Bai Luo Yin’s complaints.
 Impudent Fool! (胡闹húnào) – to act willfully and make a scene/cause trouble