Live In Death

Cypher is a new agent.

It is what it is, spirited young man takes over the mantle of his father, a foundation agent who died long ago. Educated at home, Cypher joined the foundation — and after watching a foundation promotional video, he felt a sense of meaning in his life. So like a dozen other newcomers, he trains, tests — and hopes one day to "save the world," as the promo puts it.

Cypher did a good job, with his enthusiasm and excellent physique, he quickly passed all the tests and even made it in to his own team. Half a year later Xu Yuan got a gun, and a new foundation staff card. The boy's smile is a little unnatural, but his eyes are firm. That night, he and his teammates drank some mixture of alcohol and water stolen from the lab. A few young fellows in their early 20s expressed their immature plans and ideals like some veterans who have been doing those things for years. Cypher feels the Glock pistol strapped to his waist, and imagines himself running through the rubble — a swift turn, a rifle pulled, a monster meters in front of him crashing to the ground — like the agent in the video.

"For the Foundation, for the future, for all mankind, cheers!"

Years later Xu Yuan will still recall that night, no happiness, only bitterness and helpless.

They're all dead。

Cypher's team was the best in site-CN-101 that year. Countless missions in their precise cooperation and strong tactical understanding made them invincible legends. Cypher smiled and said his faith supported him. After the ceremony, Site director GraveKeeper, his former mentor, stopped him。

"I do not deny your achievements, but you have overlooked the fact that the foundation has no faith, only reality."

It was one of the few times Cypher remembers the cold man being serious, standing there in the darkened hallway, trying to understand the meaning of the phrase. After a few months when Iveins - one of his teammates was shot and killed by the chaos insurgency, he gradually understood everything.

Clion was killed by the anomalous, and Cypher didn't understand what they were up against until the exact same fleshy monster in the video tore him in half.

Storm died in an explosion, a strange but planned explosion. Through the firelight, Cypher realized that most of the employees were just pawns of the foundation.

Xiao Ming Zhe died in an anti-rebellion, the cause of anti-rebellion is still a mystery. Since then, Cypher has noticed that people disappear every day, and he has become more cautious.

"You're a good Leader." "Keeper says to Cypher on a gloomy afternoon. "The foundation won't punish you," he said, standing behind Cypher with his head bowed at the French windows. "I'll assign you a new team; they didn't die because of you." Keeper looked back at Xu Yuan, smiled — a Keeper's professional smile — and asked:

"So, Agent Cypher, being one of my 'best' students, did you find out why they died?"

“Is the foundation。”

The light went out in Cypher's eyes, and for a moment the voice seemed familiar, then he realized it was the voice from the video. The man with the high-pitched voice who had inspired him, was now in a low-pitched voice stepping into the "truth" and "reality".

"Foundation has it own unique set of rules; passion and faith are useless here." Keeper's voice is cold. "You can't just talk about your ideals in front the anomalous. Discipline and reasons are the supreme laws of survival. Those things will hasten your death."

“To what end ?”Cypher remembered who he was on ceremony two years ago。

“To accomplish the mission, to achieve something bigger, to fucking saving the world。”

Cypher remembers the mission, Windeagle, the last survivor of the old team — stuck in the rubble, with an un-contained anomalous here that could sense living things, running out of time. Cypher steadied himself. Years of fighting had taught him that Windeagle's chances of survival were slim。

"Foundation-like survival rules." In pain, Cypher seems to see Keeper standing on the rubble and laughing loudly at him, "Live or die, By your choice."

So he shot Windeagle.


Xu Yuan is a new researcher. It's not his old name, and in fact it doesn't matter. It's easy to get a makeover in a secret agency.

No one knows why this green-eyed, taciturn-looking man showed up in the department. Some say he was a former spy who had been transferred as a researcher due to an irreversible combat injury, while others say he had mistakenly killed a teammate and fled out of guilt.

Xu Yuan spent nine years in the engineering department. For nine mediocre years, dealing daily with machines and instruments, he marginalised himself, isolating himself with work, paralyzed -or simply getting his life going. One can always see a man with messy black hair and green eyes working crazily until the next morning, with hunger, thirst and pain in his green eyes, as if he could not live without it. Others claimed to have seen him wandering around the site's mausoleum late at night, only to be found drunk among the gravestones the next morning。

“Lunatic。”That's what they say。

Xu Yuan has not expressed any opinion on that, and he continues to follow his life trajectory. But he certainly survived, at the cost of his youth. Men in their late forties have lost their old valour, their enthusiasm exhausted, and what remains is just a mere scum that barely survives.

Cypher died, killed by the foundation, and Xu Yuan is slowly falling to his death.


He is the new director of the site.

Names don't matter anymore. The name on the staff card was X██████Cypherous, long ago his name was Xu Yuan, or Cypher. But who CARES? Most of those who remembered his name Xu Yuan are gone, and oblivion is death.

"Director?" He came to himself and found himself in a daze at the meeting again. Eight pairs of eyes were fixed on him, as if waiting for his opinion — and he could not for a moment recall the names of the four men.

"… The ordinary research reports are approved, send me the reports and you are dismissed." He faked an unemotional tone and pretended to be calm. "Who's in charge of the project? You, the brown-haired one, what's your name again… ?"

"Here, director." He realized that there was still a man standing in front of the projector. "This is not a discussion meeting," he said. "I'm explaining my last 'fire' action report. He froze a moment, the line of sight to focus, only to find that the old friends - one of the few people remember his real name - Liang Ting Yu.

He did think he had been a little strange lately. He had thought a lot, but it was difficult to sum up the subject of his thoughts. Meaningless fragments of memory filled his whole life. How many times did he really think he saw Windeagle sitting on the edge of the bed smiling at him? Or it is just a dream?

He repeated a life more boring and burdensome than the last nine years. People often think of the life of a site director as nothing more than bullying lower-level employees, but a higher title often implies greater responsibility and accountability. It so happens that he can handle it well. What the staff see is a cold machine, inhumane and unsmiling guy, there is no other entertainment other than leaving the dormitory, cafeteria and office building and coming back. The site is well managed, but somewhere out of sight, something is falling apart.

There is still no problem with his monthly psychological evaluations.

"Foundation-like survival rules."Years later he remembered the word — and that bastard by the name of GraveKeeper. Alright,Gravy, Xu Yuan wants to laugh a little, you have taught me how to live by the foundation, but how should I live when the ball is in my court?

As he slowly opened the last drawer of his desk, six foundation stars gleamed in the dim light. The name on the last one is Cypher. He also knew that a little further down in the drawer was a Glock pistol and a yellowing agent's certificate.

Only him.

Fuck the foundation. For the first time in more than a decade, he has the urge to wail. Fuck the sense of responsibility and mission. The survivors or the unlucky? I'm a deserter, a coward, what's the point of being the fucking director.

The start of a breakdown is sometimes not because of a big event, maybe just being bored and unable to go on. It's not because you really want to die, most of the time you just can't find a reason to live. So his reality begins to deconstruct, it's that simple.

He loaded his polished Glock pistol.

"You're not in the right state. How many times have you been distracted in a meeting?" Xu Yuan looked at the pistol, he's thoughts inexplicably flew to the end of the memory and his talk with Liang Ting Yu.

"I'm all right, just had some bad sleep"

"Lying."

"Did you ever go to war?" Xu Yuan stopped, but did not look back.

“I've done my missions.”

"There is a saying among the conscripts that a soldier who has been in the battlefield is no longer a soldier anymore. If you stay in the foundation for too long you are no longer a human anymore.

"How's that?" Liang Ting Yu can not see Xu Yuan's expression, but he can feel Xu Yuan again diving into the memories.

"You wouldn't understand. I've been at the foundation for twenty years. Saving the world. The reason that I came here in the first place was to save the damn world. But over time I never realized what I had saved. A friend? Lover? This isn't some fucking superhero movie where the good guys die and the bad guys win. Those who survive become the walking dead.”

"I stayed here for the next ten years to keep me alive. I was wounded and half handicapped. They're not going to put me back out there. Where am I going without the foundation? The foundation permeated me, and I became a part of it in a way. I want to stay alive. I went from researcher to director to supervisor. I saw people come and go until Cypher — Xu Yuan — was forgotten and died."

There is a moment when Liang Ting Yu wants to sprint in front of his old friend, and slap him really really hard on the face, or grab him by the collar and ask him why, but he didn't.

"You're being pessimistic."

"I'm being realistic. I've been here long enough, I've seen too much, and I've lost too much."

Silence

"Someone is living off you." A while later, Liang Ting Yu opened his mouth.

"I can't afford that."

“You asked me if I ever went to war. My mentor did. He shared that feeling and experience with me. He said he was also a recruit at the time, but because he was born in a military family, his rank was very high. He said he was scared too, but he couldn't leave." Xu Yuan did not speak, so he went on talking to himself, "Newbies come to a strange place, they put their faith on you, they hope you can keep them alive.”

"He said people were dying every day, but he never backed down. There is never a clear line between life and death. One person dies and the other lives. It's a whole process.

He remembered Iveins, Clion, Storm, Xiao Ming Zhe, and Windeagle. In a trance, he saw those people waving to him from the other end of the corridor. They were there because he was still here, and he was still here because they were still there.

There are more people who need to "stay here"

"What was it for this time?" Another gratuitous question, just like Cypher's question to Keeper years ago.

"For fucking responsibility. To fucking survive." "Liang Ting Yu's voice was hoarse," This is a damn bet, you survived, you let a lot of people live, you have won isn't it?

"What can I bet on? I have nothing left." Xu Yuan sighed and turned away

"What the hell are you afraid of losing if you have nothing to lose?"


Wrist communication pulled Xu Yuan out of his thoughts, it is twelve o 'clock at night, the station AIC as always will be full schedule next day. Documents need to be reviewed, facilities need to be maintained, and sites need to be maintained.

Xu Yuan puts down the gun from his ear.

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