Chapter 17

Gap Moe

Translated by boilpoil
Edited by boilpoil

The male insectoid, our comic protagonist, will be angry. He will question the male who once was his friend, but the friend will look confused and innocent, saying, it’s just a shemale, what’s he throwing a tantrum for?

For how our protagonist, in time, has come to view the mute but caring shemale as a father figure, as family. With his position in high society, he thought he could give all the world’s luxuries to the mute shemale; however, he ended up forfeiting his life. The mute shemale didn’t die on the chaotic and lawless landfill planet, but died on the ‘civilised,’ ‘developed’ planet.

It is just a black comedy.

The male insectoid will sue his friend. His friend will walk off scot-free, because the victim was a shemale, but the defendant is a precious male.

In the end, the distraught male insectoid will have abandoned all his vain pretensions. He will cry, with his head buried in his knees, on the side of the road.

There will be a parallel frame here, depicting the male insectoid as he just crash landed on the landfill planet, and helplessly crying and curling up on the side of the road. Only, a mute shemale insectoid came over, and handed him a tissue.

The male insectoid as he was on the landfill planet will look up – then another parallel frame from the exact same angle, with torn clothes replaced with fresh, clean ones, with background buildings turning from rickety, simple shacks to a vibrant cityscape.

The male will see the hustling crowd passing by. There will not be another mute but kind shemale to hand him a tissue this time.

Here, Cheng Zhaoci pauses, and entertains the idea of making the last frame pure black with white words in the middle, “Was I wrong?” And then he thought about it, and scratches that idea. It’ll be a bit too on-the-nose. It’s unnecessary.

So he settles on the final frame being a close-up of the male insectoid protagonist. His face is all messed up from the tears, but he is looking forward with widened eyes. Behind him are skyscrapers of a prosperous city, but his eyes reflect the smiling, mute shemale, and behind the shemale, silhouette of the messy landfill planet environment.

A clash between prosperity and dilapidation, between cruel apathy and genuine kindness. It’s much more impactful than just being labelled ‘wrong,’ and serves better to provoke thought.

The story is, by definition, a tragedy, even though a good two-thirds of the first part of the story depicted a lighthearted comedy. All the better to contrast the sadness later on, which is far better than simply agonising the reader from the beginning to the end. Who could have thought this wasn’t a simple ‘and they lived happily ever after’ story just reading the beginning?

Cheng Zhaoci reads his plot in order once more, and has a good idea of what many of the frames should look. Though thinking about these things in detail for too long risks emotional immersion. In other words, he is tearing up.

So seizing this emotional state and mindset, he starts designing the mute shemale.

First, he must be handsome! The kind that most males would agree to be their ideal shemale mate. He can’t speak, but he’s handsome, tall, strong, and caring for others. He needs to have a gentle smile, with little canines poking out. He will need to slot the face and the gentle goodness as much as possible in the comic for maximum effect. He will be a shemale somehow clean as a white flower despite living on the landfill planet.

Although by Cheng Zhaoci’s own experience, a shemale like this won’t barely even survive a day on a landfill planet, but that’s beside the point. Cheng Zhaoci just needs to create something like a saintly goddess that is all the guys’ dreams in his past life. Someone clean, untouched, beautiful, strong and tragic.

His goal is to make the readers think “oh, he’s so good-looking,” “oh, poor him, but he’s also resilient” “oh, if only I could help take care of him.”

It helps immerse them into the role of the male, and makes them also want to take this poor shemale and show him what true prosperity looks like.

This is actually a condescending type of sympathy. Seeing the mute shemale amazed and dazzled by all the prosperity on developed planets also makes the male insectoid, and the readers by proxy, feel good in a pitifully vain manner.

And only an unrealistically idealistic depiction of a shemale would make the readers feel depressed and hurt when destroyed.

Do you see the mute who did not know wealth and luxury, who was clean and untouched, who died without even a shred of clothes or dignity, marred by indecent wounds and exposed?

He could not ask for help, because he was mute. Mute like all the shemales who died at male hands in reality here. They had no rescue, no voice. Dead, only to see their murderers walk off without nary a pat on the shoulder.

After the character is done, Cheng Zhaoci is still going through lots of plot and images he wants to depict. He successfully depresses himself and is crying for real.

“Oh damn! This is embarrassing,” Cheng Zhaoci wipes the tears away and tries to think of something else to change his mood.

Though there is a knock on his door.

Cheng Zhaoci opens the door to find Wei Zhuo outside, holding a glass filled with a milky white juice called ‘Whitefruit Juice.’ It serves a role similar to milk in Cheng Zhaoci’s past life, with insectoids taking a sip before sleep to sleep better. As the name implies, it comes from a fruit. Pretty expensive too, he’s heard.

“I hope I’m not intruding, but here’s a glass of… what’s wrong?” Wei Zhuo gets shocked by Cheng Zhaoci’s eyes all reddened. The little male was crying. Why? Does he miss his dad? Of course. No matter how mature he looks, he’s still a minor.

He really ought to call those higher ups out for being so stuck-up and keeping Cheng Zhaoci’s dad occupied for so long. It’s not like he had anything to do with Cheng Zhaoci’s father’s demise. He was just collectively punished.

Cheng Zhaoci was going to say he got dust in his eyes, but this room is so clean that excuse would just sound pathetic. There isn’t even wind to blow it into his eye. He just admits it, “I was touched by my own story.”

There was a moment when he also felt like saying he was too amazed by how handsome he was looking at the mirror, which would have just been outlandishly dumb.

“The story about the ‘zombie’?” Asks Wei Zhuo. He’s seen the story, and he has to admit it was drawn well. He thinks getting touched to the point of tears would be an overstatement, but males are generally more emotional than them.

“No, it’s a new story, that I don’t feel like spoiling yet,” Cheng Zhaoci takes the juice and says, “you’ll know when it’s out.”

Wei Zhuo is very supportive, “I’m looking forward to it,” then he leaves the room and closes the door behind him.

Then Cheng Zhaoci remembers that Wei Zhuo doesn’t even live here. This means that he just came over all this way to give him a glass of ‘milk.’ Wow, the shemale soldier really is a gentle person.

The very ‘gentle’ shemale soldier, Wei Zhuo, is arriving at the military base, where rows upon rows of shemale soldiers are sprawled on the ground, drenched in their own sweat.

“The Flying Officer has warned you not to talk to the young male insectoid unprovoked so he would not be scared. What did you do after?” Meng Yuele has his hands behind him, coldly and mercilessly reprimanding them, “and you still dare to call yourselves soldiers of the Federation?”

No response comes. They’re probably all too drained.

“Meng Yuele, come here for a moment,” Wei Zhuo is at the entrance to the training yard, with a rather sombre look.

Meng Yuele understands there must be some gravity to the situation. He leaves with only a “no slacking off.”

At Wei Zhuo’s personal office, he tells Meng Yuele, “I’ve been assigned to a solo mission. That’s all I can say. So I need you to keep taking care of and protecting the young male. If something serious comes up, get my granddad.”

“I thought you were ordered to drop everything to focus on Mr Cheng Zhaoci?”

“An emergency assignment,” Wei Zhuo replies.

Meng Yuele has a bad feeling about this, “dangerous?”

“Lethal,” Wei Zhuo says, without much emotion in his tone, “but if I come back, I might become the youngest Squadron Leader in insectoid history.”

Skipping Flight Lieutenant entirely to become part of the higher management positions.

And also an indirect proof at how dangerous the operation truly is. There is nothing Meng Yuele can do but comply, “say no more, but make sure you come back to us.”

“Mhm,” Wei Zhuo nods, “oh, and remember to get a glass of Whitefruit Juice for the young male every night. He’s still growing.”

“Yeah, yeah. Got it. You definitely won’t come back to him looking worse for wear,” Meng Yuele pats Wei Zhuo’s shoulders, “you can beat me up if he is.”

Wei Zhuo doesn’t have much time for parting with others left, and quickly departs.

Cheng Zhaoci only learned of his departure the next day. He doesn’t know where Wei Zhuo has gone, but he is told the Federation needed Wei Zhuo to help with an experiment, so he may not be here for a while.

This is also the day Xiao Ji and He Huaijian are transferred to a new school to begin their education proper. As a male, he can be arranged for homeschooling, since it’s quite possible he won’t be able to fit in and is isolated by other males, given their typical arrogance and nosiness.

Meng Yuele offers to take Cheng Zhaoci to play outside, but Cheng Zhaoci doesn’t seem much interested. He is much more keen on drawing at home. He’ll get the cover done today.

On the cover, he depicts the mute shemale and the male protagonist playing hide-and-seek. The male insectoid is It, while the shemale is crouching at a corner. One of them is blindfolded, the other has covered up his mouth with his hand.

One of them cannot see the cruelty behind the beautiful façade of this world. One of them cannot speak or cry out for help.

Of course, that is only if you read too much into the cover. Otherwise, it’s just a male and shemale insectoid playing a fun game. Cheng Zhaoci also has the name of the ocmic down. He’ll call it ‘In a Tiny Flicker.’

Its meaning is completely open to interpretation by the readers.

While drawing the cover, though, Meng Yuele has dragged him away to eat. And then again at night, when he also gets a complimentary glass of Whitefruit Juice.

Not long after that, he receives a message from Wei Zhuo.

[WeiZhuo: Has Meng Yuele delivered you a glass of juice?]

Isn’t he in the middle of assisting with experiments? And he still found the time to send him a message. Cheng Zhaoci is touched by the gentle and caring shemale soldier once more, while telling him Meng Yuele did, and he’s finished drinking already.

Then a reply comes.

[WeiZhuo: Good, sweet dreams, then (*^ω^*)]

Cheng Zhaoci then completely blanks out. What is this?! Emoticon?! It doesn’t fit the Flying Officer at all, oi!

But damn! Trying to picture that wild and manly face of Officer Wei and this extremely moe emoticon… Oh, the gap between seriousness and lightheartedness! How cute. How cute it is that a serious and ‘unfun’ shemale soldier is using emoticon…

Cheng Zhaoci is covering his face because it is burning red. He thinks it’s time to update the character sheet of the strongest shemale in his little zombie comic, in the direction of Flying Officer Wei. Yes.

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