Chapter 21.2 – Psychological Evaluation
17 hours ago.
“General Lu, what do you see when you look at this set of pictures?” Fu Congbai said with a smile.
He was wearing a solid-color shirt and suit pants. The style was casual, and his sideburns were slightly white. Because he was born with a kind face, he was easy to get close to.
There was a pot of green plants and two steaming cups of coffee on the table in front of him, and across the table was Lu Tinghan in a military uniform.
Lu Tinghan looked at the messy lines on the picture: “Butterflies, flowers, hats, and churches.”
Fu Congbai pushed a new set of pictures: “What about this one?”
“Windmills and women.”
“What do you think the woman’s expression is?”
“She doesn’t have an expression.”
“Then what is she looking at?”
“The mountains in the distance.”
Fu Congbai stopped asking. He took off his glasses, wiped them slowly, put them on again, and took a sip of coffee: “The coffee here is really delicious and mellow… Do you often drink coffee?”
“It’s alright, a drink or two occasionally.”
Fu Congbai was still chatting: “However, I like coffee, but I can’t fall asleep easily. Even if I drink it in the afternoon, I may suffer from insomnia at night.”
Lu Tinghan glanced at the coffee cup in his hand: “You are enjoying it now.”
“I can’t help it!” Fu Cong Bailang smiled. “How’s your sleep quality recently? You won’t sleep well after drinking this cup.”
The conversation continued, like a simple chat between two friends.
However, this was not some corner cafe, or the home of an old friend.
There were tables, sofas, and bunches of flowers in the closed room, but they were surrounded by one-way glass. Behind the glass stood dozens of people in white uniforms with [Psychological Evaluator] on their badges. With pen and paper in their hands, they looked at the room intently. The holographic recorder hidden in the room recorded the picture at the same time, zoomed in and projected it into the observation room. The demeanor of Fu Congbai and Lu Tinghan, all their micro-expressions and tone changes, would not be missed by half.
Abyss Watchers had to undergo a psychological evaluation.
It was the same for Lu Tinghan.
The Alliance’s requirements for him were almost demanding, and the evaluation of him was frequent and strict. At the most frequent time, he made more than 5 psychological evaluations from different teams a day.
The result was always ideal.
Today was just a routine assessment.
Fu Congbai and Lu Tinghan chatted, every word was a test, and they were all part of the evaluation.
Lu Tinghan was very relaxed and casual, as if he didn’t know the existence of the evaluators at all, leaning back in his chair, slowly drinking fragrant coffee. His expression had always been very small, and he was by no means talkative. He would look at the other person when he was listening. Looking at his gray-blue eyes, it was hard to tell whether it looked like the sea or fog. He had no emotion, but he was very serious.
This was probably the only time when General Lu was in a lower position, being questioned and analyzed.
He had questions and answers, and he was quite cooperative.
After 40 minutes, Fu Congbai did a few more sets of tests and asked everything he had to ask.
He asked the last question: “How is the cohabitant you mentioned recently?”
Lu Tinghan: “He’s fine.”
Fu Congbai: “When you get along with him, do you feel more positive or negative emotions?”
Lu Tinghan: “Positive.”
Fu Congbai: “Never had a quarrel?”
Lu Tinghan: “No.”
His answer was conclusive and rapid, Fu Congbai said unexpectedly: “I am very curious, how did you meet?”
He also had a series of questions, including asking the name, gender, and occupation of the “cohabitant”. According to the regulations, as long as it did not involve military secrets, Lu Tinghan was obliged to answer him.
Lu Tinghan put down the coffee cup.
The cup collided with the wooden table, and there was a very light ‘thud’, the black coffee spreading out its rich aroma. He said, “Professor Fu, let’s end here today.”
The tone was courteous and polite.
Fu Congbai was taken aback. This was the first time Lu Tinghan didn’t cooperate, and it was on a topic he didn’t expect.
The sentence ”You should answer” stuck in his mouth, and when he looked at Lu Tinghan, he swallowed this sentence.
—Lu Tinghan was still very relaxed.
He was very calm and subdued throughout the evaluation. But on this last question, he changed back to who he used to be.
He could be quite cooperative and accept the interrogation, but once he raised his objection, it was unquestionable.
He spoke in a negotiating tone, but it was actually an order, and Fu Congbai was not given the right to protest.
After the evaluation, Lu Tinghan left.
The evaluators spent 4 hours sorting out the materials and exchanging opinions, and finally came to the conclusion that Lu Tinghan was mentally stable and there was no abnormality.
Everyone dispersed, and Fu Congbai’s student Chen Yuan drove Fu Congbai home.
Chen Yu participated in the evaluation for the first time and asked Fu Congbai, “Teacher, isn’t this a violation?”
“It’s a violation.” Fu Congbai wiped his reading glasses. “But this question is irrelevant, and it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t answer it. It is recorded in the report, if we have any doubts later, we can ask again.”
Chen Yuan said bitterly: “But rules are rules…”
Fu Congbai was silent for a moment and said, “Xiao Chen, I will only tell you this in private: I never thought he would fail the evaluation.”
“The general is indeed strong-willed,” Chen Yuan said. “I don’t think he will have a problem…”
“No, that’s not what I meant,” Fu Congbai said. “Even if he really has a problem, we can’t see it.”
Chen Yuan was taken aback: “You mean, he knows our evaluation criteria and avoids negative answers? But the polygraph didn’t ring, and his micro-expressions were normal.”
“If you let him tell a hundred lies, the polygraph won’t ring. It’s useless to him, it’s just a decoration.” Fu Congbai rubbed his eyebrows. “He has no right to know the evaluation criteria, but he doesn’t need to know, because he knows infected people better than anyone else – he can read their thinking and understand their symptoms clearly. It’s not too simple for such a person to pretend to be normal.”
Chen Yuan was taken aback when he heard it: “Then what kind of evaluation are we doing? It’s meaningless.”
“You can’t say that either,” Fu Congbai said. “We must do our duty, and we must also rely on his will. And when he talked about the ‘cohabitant’…” He considered the wording. “How to say, it’s the same reaction as protecting a calf?”
Lu Tinghan took the initiative to mention that he had a cohabitant.
Anyway, generals—especially generals in wartime, can be said to be powerful and respectable, with hands and eyes in the sky. If he really wanted to hide that person, it would be impossible for the evaluators to know.
Lu Tinghan’s initiative made Fu Congbai think that he was willing to talk about it.
Facts have proved that Fu Congbai was wrong.
Taking the initiative to mention it, Lu Tinghan only informed the evaluators of such a thing out of cooperation and due diligence.
Today’s silence was to put selfishness on the table, and clearly expressed: don’t worry about this matter.
After all, the so-called psychological evaluation was very contradictory.
The Alliance was afraid of Lu Tinghan, and had to give him power. And Lu Tinghan has always been tough, holding all the power firmly in his hands.
Fu Congbai shook his head with a wry smile: “There is General Su who can hold him back, but General Su is very old…”
His voice was too low for Chen Yuan to hear, he said, “Teacher, this is what you don’t understand, we generally call this situation ‘hiding a girl in a golden house’, that’s not protecting a calf, that’s like protecting a wife.”
“No matter what he is hiding, it is good that he can have a close connection with another person.” Fu Congbai put his glasses back on and looked out the car window. “If you have contact with others and have nostalgia in this world, you will stabilize.”
Fu Congbai had seen too many people who were spiritually infected, and he knew that when the reason was about to collapse, it was not benevolence and righteousness that could save people, but attachment.
With attachment, there would be invisible threads holding people together.
The moment the darkness fell, it was like drowning, unable to distinguish between reality and illusion, the world was chaotic and hazy, they would fumble for the rope and struggle upward until they could grasp the hands again.
“No matter who that person is, I hope he is a good person,” Fu Congbai said. “Establishing a benign intimacy will be beneficial and harmless to General Lu.” He laughed twice. “I am really curious to see what kind of person that is.”
Chen Yuan pondered for a while: “With the character of General Lu, I feel that he will like the quiet and smart kind.”
Fu Congbai thought so: “Yes, the kind who knows how to read and understand, and who is highly talented – maybe their biggest hobby is to study the military together.”
Facts have proved that after Lu Tinghan returned home, he did not study the military with the “quiet, intelligent, and knowledgeable wife” that others imagined, and discussed the major events of the Alliance.
He was looking at a bunch of withered flowers.
Shi Yuan said solemnly: “Look, they are all withered.”
He picked out the withered flowers today and held them up in front of Lu Tinghan.
The wilted daisies and roses, together with Shi Yuan’s tail, dangled in front of Lu Tinghan’s eyes.
Lu Tinghan said, “I will bring you new flowers back tomorrow.”
“It’s not about the new flowers,” Shi Yuan said. “It’s the flowers you sent me that withered…”
A rose petal fell in response.
Shi Yuan: QAQ
Lu Tinghan asked quietly, “Shi Yuan, what’s there behind you?”
When Shi Yuan turned his head, Lu Tinghan took the flowers out of his hand and threw it into the trash can. Shi Yuan looked back and saw only Broken Copper and Broken Iron, his hands were empty, and he said doubtfully, “There’s nothing behind… huh?”
Lu Tinghan rubbed Shi Yuan’s head vigorously.
A set of movements was done smoothly and efficiently, and Shi Yuan immediately forgot about the flowers, and let out a happy purring sound.
He was fooled in this way.
It was already nine o’clock in the evening, Shi Yuan had been waiting for Lu Tinghan and hadn’t eaten dinner yet.
Broken Iron made fried rice, and the two sat face to face at the table.
Shi Yuan said, “You came back so late today ah.”
“I went for a psychological evaluation,” Lu Tinghan said. “Don’t wait for me to eat in the future.”
Shi Yuan asked again: “What is the psychological evaluation?”
Lu Tinghan explained to him.
“It turned out to be like this,” Shi Yuan was not happy.
Lu Tinghan clipped a chopstick of vegetables and changed the subject: “What interesting thing happened today?”
“Hey,” Shi Yuan immediately became energetic and said, “Tracy has been discharged from the hospital!”
—Qin Luoluo bought several branches of xuejian flower and kept them in the theater, changing the water every day. She took care of it carefully since she wanted to give them to Tracy when they bloomed.
Unexpectedly, the flowers were still a few days away from blooming, and Tracy had already been discharged from the hospital.
To celebrate, at noon today, Wolfgang invited the entire troupe to dinner out of his own pocket.
“We went to a restaurant called ‘Red Crab’,” Shi Yuan said. “The shredded cabbage in it is delicious. Mr. Cheng likes it very much – oh yes, he has been infected by a goat-like monster, so he is vegetarian and eats vegetables every day.”
“Is that ‘Cheng Youwen’?” Lu Tinghan asked.
“Yes, the screenwriter of the troupe. Someone from the newspaper interviewed him yesterday.”
“Didn’t interview you?”
Shi Yuan: “Originally, they wanted to interview me, but I ran faster than them.”
Lu Tinghan smiled.
After dinner, Lu Tinghan drew sketches, while Shi Yuan nestled beside him holding his tail, watching him draw.
Lu Tinghan showed him the previous sketchbook.
Shi Yuan turned over page by page and saw mountains, rivers, the sun rising and the moon setting, and all beings in all states. Finally, his gaze stayed on the first sketch: a full moon hanging in the night sky, the endless cypress forest, the scale-shaped needle tips coated with a layer of light by the moonlight, the lonely observation tower, and the deep abyss.
Shi Yuan looked at the sketch for a few seconds, then buried his head silently on Lu Tinghan’s shoulder.
Lu Tinghan turned his head and saw the sketch and Shi Yuan’s reddish ears.
Lu Tinghan: ?
Today, he couldn’t understand Shi Yuan’s brain circuit, and got a shy Shi Yuan.
The next day, when Lu Tinghan was about to go out, Shi Yuan woke up.
The hour hand had just pointed to six o’clock, and it was not yet dawn. Shi Yuan opened the bedroom door, and Lu Tinghan was already standing at the door.
“Are you going to the outpost again?” Shi Yuan asked.
“No, I’m going to the main city,” Lu Tinghan put on his military uniform jacket. “It will take two or three days to come back.”
“Have a meeting and rearrange the line of defense.”
When Lu Tinghan opened the door, Shi Yuan stuck behind him, and said, “I’ll walk you to the gate.”
The temperature was low in the early morning, and white air floated up just by breathing. Shi Yuan put on Lu Tinghan’s pure black coat – this coat was the one that was cut by his horns. Shi Yuan took it for himself and wore it to be extra warm.
He followed Lu Tinghan to the door of the front yard.
Today’s fog was particularly thick, the whole city was shrouded in white fog, street lamps, windows, and buildings were all submerged, people couldn’t be seen clearly at a distance of a few meters, and even the trees on the roadside were hidden in the fog. That kind of fog was too aggressive, desolate, and biting, and reminded people of the lips of the dead. If you walk alone in it, you will feel that you have stepped into another world and there is nowhere to escape.
There seemed to be a monster hiding in the fog.
No one would want to walk into this fog.
Shi Yuan said, “I’ll walk you forward a bit more.”
Lu Tinghan: “No need.”
Shi Yuan thought, maybe Lu Tinghan had seen countless foggy days like this, so he wouldn’t be afraid. He hugged his waist: “Then you have to come back quickly.”
“Okay.” Lu Tinghan patted his head. Through the white gloves, his hands couldn’t feel the coolness of the hair, but it was still delicate and smooth as always. He added: “I’ll be back when the snow is gone.”
Shi Yuan bent his eyes and smiled.
He watched Lu Tinghan leave.
Lu Tinghan walked into the depths of the fog, striding forward without looking back.
Shi Yuan went back to make up for his sleep, and then it was time again to go to the theater.
The bus swayed forward, the fog had not dissipated, the car was driving very slowly, and the people were very silent.
Due to road maintenance, the bus changed its route, and Shi Yuan got off one stop earlier. There was no one around, he walked forward in the foggy street, and vaguely saw a huge signboard: [New Moon Newspaper].
The New Moon Newspaper came to interview the troupe the day before yesterday, saying that they would publish a column of “The Martyr”, which made Cheng Youwen very happy.
There was a figure at the door of the newspaper office.
When Shi Yuan got closer, he realized the strangeness of the figure… It stumbled towards Shi Yuan and took a few steps, Shi Yuan could see his face clearly, it was the face of a middle-aged man.
The man’s back was full of vines that were waving recklessly, and the tips of several vines were red, with blood trickling down.
Shi Yuan was a little surprised: “Hello.” He thought for a while and added, “You shouldn’t be here, this is a human city, are you lost?”
The man stared at Shi Yuan with unblinking eyes, his cloudy eyes were emerald green, and the patterns inside were constantly changing.
His voice was hoarse, like several beasts hissing at the same time, saying, “Ah… so you are here.”