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    Chapter 59

    059

    One more rub.

    On the spaceship, Chu Li felt guilty upon realizing they had missed the optimal landing time. He wanted to tell Jing Baiyuan that he was fine and they should land first. Even if he got airsick, he could adjust after landing.

    To his surprise, Jing Baiyuan whispered in his ear, "The medic said your rut is approaching. It's best not to push yourself too hard, or it might cause your rut to come early."

    Chu Li: "…"

    He quickly changed his mind. "Forget it, let's wait a bit longer."

    Jing Baiyuan didn't want him to strain himself, but seeing how Chu Li immediately changed his mind at the mention of an early rut, he couldn't help asking, "You really don't want to go through your rut?"

    Chu Li answered solemnly, "We separated right after our last rut. Now that we've just reunited, we have to do it again… It makes me feel like we're just casual partners for rutting."

    Jing Baiyuan: "…"

    The man before him fell silent, a hint of existential doubt surfacing on his resolute face.

    Chu Li deliberately asked, "What's wrong? Am I not right?"

    Yes, incredibly so.

    Jing Baiyuan remembered the teacher's words just before leaving.

    It seemed he needed to hasten plans to make their relationship public, propose, become engaged, and marry.

    Otherwise, his boyfriend might end up as just a casual fling.

    Jing Baiyuan held Chu Li's hand tightly and said in a grave voice, "Get some rest."

    Chu Li chuckled inwardly. He had learned to dodge questions now.

    Unyielding, Chu Li pretended to be persistent and asked, "You don't like it when I'm just a casual fling either, do you, Yuanting? Actually, you're not willing to be with me—uh!"

    Before he could finish his sentence, Jing Baiyuan covered his mouth.

    The man gave him a glance, his palm burning hot against Chu Li's cheek. "Rest well and don't speak."

    Chu Li: "..."

    Even the mighty big kitty could blush from flirtation one day.

    What to do, he was feeling a little giddy.

    After resting for over two hours on the spaceship, Chu Li finally felt less dizzy in the afternoon. Jing Baiyuan, who had been waiting patiently, ordered the spacecraft to land, and they finally arrived at the expeditionary force's base, Deerport Fortress.

    Descending from the spaceship, Chu Li still felt a bit weak-kneed, but soon, he was stunned by the scene before him.

    This place... was even more prosperous than he had imagined. Especially the harbor, which was composed of a silver-white ring. Beyond the ring, stretched the vast expanse of space, studded with stars like shattered diamonds scattered across black velvet.

    In reality, the silver ring was a series of highways designed for hovercars. Compared to the magical 5D port they had seen earlier, this place, although also filled with hovercar lanes, was more elegant and orderly.

    It fully satisfied Chu Li's imagination of the word 'future.'

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting stood right behind him, his large hand resting on Chu Li's waist as he whispered, "There are mechas here designed for two passengers. I can take you beyond the atmosphere when the time comes."

    "Really?" Chu Li turned around, his eyes shining with excitement.

    While they conversed, those who had come to greet Jing Baiyuan Yuanting watched them curiously. They had been in disbelief when they heard from Hong Feng that Jing Baiyuan Yuanting was an Omega. But now, witnessing Jing Baiyuan Yuanting leaning down and speaking gently to someone, it felt like... a dream!

    "Oh my God, he's really an Omega!"

    "We actually have an Omega willing to come to this godforsaken place! Hahaha, I've been stationed here for three years without seeing an Omega! All the Betas here are like Wind Yichen! Who knows how I've survived these past few years..."

    These words happened to be overheard by Wind Yichen, who gave the speaker a cold glance. The man instantly felt a chill run down his spine, turning into a moon snail lying motionless on the sand. He clamped his mouth shut, not daring to speak another word.

    Unaware of Wind Yichen's stare, another person asked, "Are you stupid? That's the General's Omega."

    The man couldn't help but retort, "So what if he's the General's Omega? Can't I just look at him?!"

    Awestruck by the west wind, these words reached Jing Baiyuan Yuanting's ears. Now, not only was Wind Yichen looking at him, but Jing Baiyuan Yuanting was too.

    Within five minutes, this man had offended two of his superiors. For the next month, he would live through torturous training, wishing he were dead.

    Putting aside the boastful fellow for now, Chu Li was utterly astonished at this moment.

    He stared fixedly at the suspended highway in the distance, wondering what it would be like to ride on it. Would he feel as if he were floating in the universe?

    Jing Baiyuan quickly took him for a ride on a hovercar. High-altitude hovercars were different from those that hugged the ground. This ride felt more like being on an airplane, but not as high up.

    As they passed towering buildings on either side, Chu Li exclaimed, "I feel like a country bumpkin in the city."

    In the driver's seat, Ya Lan chuckled upon hearing this. "A country bumpkin? We're the real ones, aren't we?"

    Chu Li looked out again and said, "But it looks so prosperous here..."

    "More like crowded," Ya Lan joked. "This is an artificial port, not very large in area, yet it has to accommodate all the expeditionary forces. Of course, tall buildings have to be built, unlike on Blue Stripe Star where there's plenty of space and few people, so there's no need for high-rises."

    Upon hearing Ya Lan's explanation, Chu Li realized that they were already in the interstellar era. The definition of 'prosperity' had changed.

    In the past, skyscrapers symbolized big cities and prosperity, but in the interstellar era, flat structures were the norm. Only port cities with limited landmass would construct so many high-rise buildings above ground.

    Chu Li fell silent, but whispered to himself—this was super cool, wasn't it!

    What on earth is Blue Stripe Star?

    Chu Li didn't realize it, but due to Blue Stripe Star's and the Imperial Royal Family's attitude towards the Expeditionary Force, he had developed prejudice against this innocent, unfortunate planet.

    The hovercar soon stopped beside a towering building. Everyone alighted and took an elevator to the upper levels.

    When the elevator doors opened, Ya Lan and the others stayed inside without following.

    As Chu Li exited the elevator, he looked back and saw Ya Lan smiling at him.

    Chu Li: "..."

    At the end of the corridor outside the elevator was only one door.

    Jing BaiyuanYuanting brought Chu Li to the door and opened it, saying, "Go in."

    Chu Li walked past him and entered the room, his entire being stunned.

    This house...was way too big and spacious.

    The place could almost be described as sparsely furnished.

    Jing Baiyuan Ting stood at the entrance, realizing his mistake, and lowered his head bashfully. He cleared his throat and said, "Sorry... I... haven't been back here often in the past."

    That was why it hadn't been tidied up.

    Ya Lan had chosen the house, which was spacious but largely unused.

    As the two spoke, a household robot heard their voices and activated itself, rolling over on its two wheels towards the entrance. "Welcome home, Master. You haven't stepped foot in this house for two months and six days. I've missed you so much."

    Chu Li glanced back at Jing Baiyuan Ting. The latter lowered his head even more guiltily and coughed lightly. "I... was quite busy recently."

    Busy enough to not return home for two months?

    Chu Li then recalled his 'home' on Blue Stripe Star. It had been similarly neglected when he first arrived, though the smaller space had concealed it better.

    He sighed helplessly and took Jing Baiyuan Ting's hand. "If you're busy, then you're busy. Why are you standing at the door? Do you want me, your guest, to invite you in?"

    Jing Baiyuan Ting paused and turned to grip Chu Li's hand. "You're not a guest."

    Chu Li had only said that out of habit, but to his surprise, Jing Baiyuan was serious in his response. He felt a mix of surprise and gratitude.

    "Alright, the owner of the house has invited you in. Stop standing at the door like an idiot." Chu Li pulled Jing Baiyuan inside.

    Despite his large frame, it didn't take much effort to guide him into the house obediently.

    Upon entering, they discovered that it was actually a two-story home. As Chu Li looked around with a shake of his head, he wondered how Jing Baiyuan could live alone in such a vast space without feeling lonely. No wonder he didn't want to come back. If he were in Jing Baiyuan's shoes, he wouldn't want to return either.

    As they walked, Chu Li suggested, "Do you often invite friends over? Why not ask Deputy Commander Ya Lan and the others to live here with you? Wouldn't it be livelier?"

    Jing Baiyuan chuckled helplessly. "I would love for them to come over, but Ya Lan and Feng Yichen prefer staying in their military barracks. They're not keen on going out."

    He himself found it troublesome to venture out, which was why he seldom returned home.

    Chu Li followed Jing Baiyuan upstairs. While Jing Baiyuan settled his luggage, Chu Li stood silently before the spacious bed, knowing that he would be sharing it with Jing Baiyuan for some time.

    They weren't even married, so why did everything feel so natural?

    Yet, a deep longing emerged in his heart – how wonderful it would be if he could remain by Jing Baiyuan's side forever.

    This man not only brought him joy but also fostered a sense of longing and dependence. In his presence, tranquility and security always enveloped him, shielding him from any worries.

    That very night, after settling everything, the two of them made their second life-altering mark on the bed in their room.

    The room was saturated with Alpha pheromones, instilling a sense of safety in Chu Li.

    Jing Baiyuanting, with his upper body exposed, leaned against the headboard while attending to military affairs on his personal terminal. Chu Li nestled beside him, watching him silently.

    Suddenly, Chu Li lifted himself up and brushed his forehead against Jing Baiyuanting's.

    The man, who had been struggling to concentrate on his work, froze instantly. He swallowed, awaiting Chu Li's next move.

    However, Chu Li retreated with a grin, saying, "Little Key likes doing this, rubbing its head against people."

    Unlike the sensible and well-behaved Li Hua Cat, Little Key was an affectionate yet stubborn creature. When playing with Chu Li, it often remained aloof, sometimes even ignoring Chu Li to play with the air.

    But the moment Chu Li opened his personal terminal, Little Key would curl up in his embrace, punching at the screen with its tiny paws. Despite being unable to see the device, it knew that this mysterious object could captivate its owner's attention.

    If Chu Li still ignored it, the cat would squeeze its head into Chu Li's palm, offering itself for self-service petting.

    In short, a little kitten's clinginess and affection knew no bounds; it would demand attention whenever and wherever it pleased. If it wanted to be petted, then you had to pet it.

    Now, Jing Baiyuan felt that Chu Li was very much like a domineering and coquettish kitten.

    This association made his face darken immediately. He held Chu Li's shoulder with one hand and asked softly, "Did it rub against you like this too?"

    "Mm-hmm." Recalling Little Key, a smile tugged at the corners of Chu Li's eyes. "I wonder how it's doing in the pet store... My personal terminal is broken, or else I could contact the pet store owner."

    That was where it was born and had been fostered. It shouldn't have any adverse reactions, but he just didn't know if the ungrateful cat would miss him.

    Well, perhaps when its food bowl was empty, it might remember its poor cat owner.

    Unable to help himself, Chu Li chuckled.

    Jing Baiyuan watched the Omega in his arms laugh about another cat, his grip on his shoulder tightening. The Omega winced from the pain and looked up at him with a slightly aggrieved expression. Jing Baiyuan found this look captivating and lowered his head to rest his forehead against Chu Li's. He whispered, "Have I ever rubbed against you like this?"

    Chu Li: "..."

    His mind paused for a moment before he understood what was being asked.

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting was asking if the little Li Hua Cat had ever rubbed against Chu Li.

    Yes, of course it had.

    If Little Key could be compared to a proud and coquettish kitten, enjoying and even demanding affection and attention from humans, then the little Li Hua Cat was an utter cling-on. Not only did it rub against Chu Li, but it would also snuggle into his bed at night, even under his clothes, lying tightly against his stomach as it slept.

    One could only wonder how much of Chu Li's charm Jing Baiyuan Yuanting had seen back then, when they were still strangers.

    Chu Li's face flushed red all at once. He stared wide-eyed at Jing Baiyuan Yuanting, his dark eyes shimmering with a watery glint as he stammered, "R-rub... Rubbed..."

    "One more rub."

    Huh? !

    ---

    And so, Chu Li settled down in Luguang Fortress. Before the order from Blue Stripe Star arrived, life there remained peaceful.

    The Expeditionary Force's daily patrols occasionally brought back a few space pirates, and there were occasional injuries, but all were manageable. However, Jing Baiyuan was constantly occupied, only appearing at night to return home with Chu Li.

    Of course, Chu Li wasn't idle either. He remembered why he had come here and sought out the Expeditionary Force's medical team to assist them and learn something.

    As for this Admiral Omega, the Medical Department naturally welcomed him. After all, with Jing Baiyuan's notorious temperament, when he acted up, no one in the entire Medical Department could hold him back.

    On his first day at the Medical Department, they solemnly enlightened Chu Li about Jing Baiyuan's medical history and his unique physical condition.

    Looking at the paper detailing hundreds of incidents over the past decade where Jing Baiyuan had turned into a cat, Chu Li felt a heavy heart.

    Most of the time, it lasted only a few hours, but there were several instances where it persisted for over a week.

    "Can't external methods be used to awaken him? Why does it last so long?" Chu Li frowned, studying the report in his hands.

    The Medical Department staff exchanged glances before addressing Chu Li, "It's his body's way of self-protection, as well as a side effect of his... acceptance. His transformation into a cat is uncontrollable, and external means are needed to awaken him. But if his injuries are too severe, his body's protective mechanisms will automatically resist the awakening process, making it impossible to wake him up. The only solution then is to wait until his body fully recovers before attempting to awaken him."

    "But I've seen that during these instances, his body had already recovered, with normal indicators. Why can't he still be awakened?" Chu Li asked with a frown.

    "Because... turning into a cat has addictive properties. Although humans can use reason and willpower to force themselves to do things they dislike or don't want to do, their bodies instinctively avoid harm. When he turns into a cat, he acts on those instincts. You can simply understand it as, when someone is in too much pain, their instinct doesn't want to remain human. Frequent and prolonged transformations into a cat can lead to a reliance on that form, increasing the difficulty of the awakening process."

    Later, they gave Chu Li a set of awakening data that recorded the intensity of the awakening rays, the duration, and the transformation time, among other things. Chu Li studied it carefully and discovered that the level of the awakening rays used on Blue Stripe Star was very low; even if he stood outside the glass door, he could withstand them.

    However, some awakenings were different. The longest one had lasted for over two hours.

    He knew that these rays were harmful to the body, and Jing Baiyuan would suffer when in contact with them.

    "In essence, an awakening is forcibly interrupting his self-preservation state through external means. Extreme pain is the method to disrupt that state… If he doesn't wake up, we have no choice but to increase the level of pain."

    Speaking of this, the doctors looked worried. Jing Baiyuan had already shown signs of resistance to the current awakening methods. No one knew if there was a limit to the number of times he could be awakened. If he couldn't be awakened after being injured one day… who knew what would happen.

    Upon hearing this, Chu Li's brows remained furrowed. He asked the doctors for more information and enquired, "If this awakening method doesn't work, haven't you considered using another approach?"

    The doctors shook their heads helplessly. "We're just doctors, not researchers. We lack everything here. How can we have the time to research such things? Besides… Admiral Jing doesn't cooperate with us at all. Should we study the air?"

    From their words, one could sense the doctors' deep resentment towards Jing Baiyuan's refusal to follow medical advice.

    "However, things might improve once we have something," one doctor suddenly said. "His resistance to the awakening can be seen as a psychological trigger. Having an Omega he has marked would lower the difficulty of the awakening."

    Chu Li looked up in confusion, but it was true. The awakening on Blue Stripe Star hadn't lasted long.

    Letting him misunderstand all along, Jing Baiyuan's awakening seemed to pose no challenge.

    But now, it appeared that it was likely due to his own involvement.

    He couldn't help but marvel at the wonders of the world's pheromones. Not only could they enhance human physique, granting them strength, speed, and longevity surpassing Earth's humans, but they also had the potential to cure certain incurable diseases to a certain extent.

    Of course, there were noticeable side effects as well.

    Perhaps due to the hope invested in Chu Li, the doctors treated him with great friendliness, willing to teach him any little tricks they knew. During his time in the military medical department, Chu Li learned a great deal.

    However, after learning about the possibility of Jing Baiyuan's failed awakening, he couldn't help but look at Jing Baiyuan with concern.

    Jing Baiyuan, on the other hand, didn't pick up on Chu Li's emotions, merely sensing that his Omega had been preoccupied lately. He even thought he might have done something wrong, upsetting him.

    This made Jing Baiyuan nervous as well, causing him to be extra cautious in his actions.

    ---

    In Blue Stripe Star, the royal palace.

    After days of travel, news of Jing Baiyuan's return to Deerport Fortress with his expeditionary force finally reached the ears of the empire... specifically, Prince Lancelot, the eldest son.

    Lancelot nearly flipped his table in anger.

    With a dark scowl on his face, he sat motionless in his chair for a long while, leaving even the Assembly President standing beside him unsure of his thoughts.

    After an indeterminate amount of time, Lancelot spoke through gritted teeth, "He launched an unauthorized attack against the Alliance and then, after its conclusion, led his troops back to Deerport in defiance? He didn't even stay put to await the summoning of Blue Vein Star... This man! This man! He's utterly fearless!"

    "Does he, or does he not, still hold Blue Vein Star and the royal family in any regard?"

    "Is he... is he thinking of..."

    Before he could finish his sentence, the Assembly President interrupted, "Your Highness, there are some things that shouldn't be said."

    Lancelot's words were cut short, but his rage only grew more intense.

    Not to be said... Why not? Was it because the words were too harsh to speak aloud?

    No! It was simply because the Assembly President was afraid! Afraid that if he voiced these suspicions, Jing Baiyuan might truly rebel!

    The Expeditionary Force had been purging its ranks since last year, eliminating all those sent by Blue Stripe Star. Not a single person in the entire force now obeyed Blue Stripe Star's orders. The military was united as a solid block, subsisting on the Empire's provisions and bearing the title of its army, yet they answered only to one person!

    Jing Baiyuan Ting!

    This wolf in the Empire's flock, baring his fangs, ready to sink them into his master at any moment!

    Observing the darkening expression on Lancelot's face, the Senate President couldn't help but sigh. He leaned in and whispered, "But he doesn't dare to directly confront Blue Stripe Star for now. It wouldn't make sense, given the years of peace between the Empire and the Alliance. He can't find an excuse to provoke a military conflict... If he wishes to avoid the scorn of the world, he'll have to endure a while longer, Your Highness. There's no need to be too upset about this matter."

    This was no longer the era where one could get away with anything. Public opinion could indeed drown a man. Without a legitimate reason, Jing Baiyuan Ting would never dare to oppose the Empire.

    Lancelot scoffed. "If I knew his intentions and still allowed him to command troops in Deerport, then I'd truly be useless."

    He had to find a way to diminish Jing Baiyuan's influence.

    After some thought, Lancelot said, "Since he acted on his own initiative, Blue Stripe Star has every right to recall him. Send a message to the expeditionary force immediately, summon Jing Baiyuan back to Blue Stripe Star at once. I demand that the Interstellar Court intervene and put him on trial!"

    Lancelot's plan was sound: he wanted Jing Baiyuan to return to Blue Stripe Star as quickly as possible, ideally catching him off guard so that he could be apprehended with swift, decisive action.

    However, to his surprise, the message reached Deerport, but Jing Baiyuan did not return.

    Because he mentioned that his Omega was in heat and should not be moved.

    Lancelot: "......."

    When did Jing Baiyuan have an Omega? How come he had no idea?! Was this some random Omega picked up from the street, knocked unconscious, and then brought home to deceive him?!

    Author's Note:

    Meow~

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