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    Chapter 62

    062

    Let's Go, Rob Some Money.

    Despite knowing it was absurd, Chu Li couldn't help but ask softly, "Who said that?"

    Zhan Jiaqing looked at him and only chuckled without responding.

    Chu Li's face soon turned red from her laughter, but he still persisted, "Why would they say such things?"

    "Ha ha ha…" Zhan Jiaqing laughed, "I thought you were uninterested in such matters with your cold demeanor before."

    Recalling that, she glanced at the back of Chu Li's neck and said with a grin, "The General has quite the stamina, doesn't he?"

    Chu Li: "...."

    Not only was it good, it was excellent.

    Chu Li's cheeks flushed, and he coughed softly. "W-well, that's about it."

    "Is that so?" Zhan Jiaqing saw through him but didn't comment.

    She quickly steered the conversation back on track. "General is in his thirties, right? To be honest, Alphas and Omegas are different from Betas. AOs have to deal with pheromones, so it's better for them to find a partner as soon as possible. Omegas have heat cycles, and Alphas have their sensitive periods. While a sensitive period isn't as intense as a heat cycle, it still occurs monthly and can be quite uncomfortable."

    Even if others weren't urging them, their bodies would prompt them to seek love as soon as they could.

    After all, even a temporary mark was enough to alleviate an Alpha's sensitive period symptoms.

    In this world, it was rare for AOs in their thirties to remain unmarried.

    "He comes from a good background, has achieved much, and is handsome... Even though I've never met him, I can guess that his pheromone level must be high. For someone like him to stay single, he must not want to be in a relationship." Zhan Jiaqing shook her head. "He doesn't want a permanent or temporary mark? No one would believe that he's abstaining until he finds true love. They'd just speculate that there's something wrong with his body... And..."

    As she spoke, Zhan Jiaqing grew more mysterious. She leaned closer to Chu Li's ear and whispered, "The Emperor is very concerned about his marriage. Every year when he returns to Blue Stripe Star, the Emperor sends many candidates, but supposedly, none of them stay; they're all chased away... If he rejects those who come to him, it's no wonder there are rumors going around."

    With that, Zhan Jiaqing straightened up and smiled. "But these are just rumors, probably fabricated by people jealous of the General. What's wrong with being celibate until you meet someone you like? Just because they can't do it, they doubt others can."

    Zhan Jiaqing winked at Chu Li and chuckled. "As for whether the General truly has any issues, I believe you know better than they do."

    Chu Li's face flushed again. He turned away awkwardly, pretending to fetch a test tube from the side.

    Zhan Jiaqing's smile widened. Her junior seemed so composed on the surface, yet he was unexpectedly innocent inside.

    That was rather endearing.

    After their casual chat, the laboratory door was pushed open from the outside, and Wen Renjian entered with a frown.

    The trio paused their work and looked up to greet him, "Professor Wen."

    Wen Renjian lifted his gaze, his eyes landing on Chu Li for a moment before pausing as if he had made a decision. He then said to Chu Li, "Little Li, come here for a moment."

    With that, he turned and walked into the adjacent office.

    Wen Renjian's serious expression made Chu Li nervous as well. Glancing at Zhan Jiaqing, he saw that she wore a puzzled look, clearly unaware of what Wen Renjian wanted to discuss.

    Chu Li could only take a deep breath and follow.

    In the office, Wen Renjian asked him to close the door.

    Chu Li obediently closed the door, only to turn around and see Wen Renjian opening the safe next to him.

    The safe was filled with their research documents.

    Chu Li was taken aback, but Wen Renjian placed all the documents in front of him after taking them out.

    "Xiao Li, keep these," Wen Renjian said.

    Confused, Chu Li took the documents without knowing what Wen Renjian was planning. "Why, Teacher?"

    Wen Renjian smiled calmly. "Nothing much. These documents are very precious to me. Could you help me keep them safe?"

    "But…" Chu Li didn't quite understand, but when he met Wen Renjian's calm yet sorrowful gaze, he froze, unable to ask his question.

    "Teacher… Have you run into some trouble?" Chu Li asked instead.

    Wen Renjian merely shook his head. He looked at Chu Li again and said, "Keep these items safe and don't let anyone know that you have them... I'm sorry, Xiao Li. I've still dragged you into this."

    "..." Why were they both like this, not finishing their sentences as if they were riddles?

    However, Chu Li had an inkling that there was more to the story than met the eye.

    He accepted the documents and said, "Alright, Teacher, I can keep these for you temporarily."

    Wen Renjian shook his head and replied, "It's in your hands now. If you can keep it safe, then do so. If not, just throw it away or burn it. If someone asks you for it, give it to them. You can also take a look yourself..."

    "In any case, it's up to you now." Wen Renjian got up. After saying this, he walked over to Chu Li, gave him a gentle glance, sighed, and then headed out.

    ---

    Wen Renjian's vague words left Chu Li restless. Upon returning home, he couldn't wait to eat dinner and immediately opened the file.

    The information at the beginning was familiar to him – it was the experiment they had been conducting previously.

    As he progressed, the content became increasingly absurd...

    Two hours later, after reading through all the documents, Chu Li, who had been sitting stiffly, sat upright with rapid breaths and a pounding heart.

    It wasn't that he had stumbled upon any indecipherable content; rather, the information in the file... was truly astounding to him!

    This document detailed the entire process of the experiment, from what they had done in the past to their current work... and even hinted at future steps. At the end of the file, it proposed a substance that could allow humans to achieve "eternity," akin to the lingering glow of the sunset.

    They had refined this substance into a drug capable of altering human DNA, but it required continuous consumption for over a year. After the body's transformation was complete, during old age, the original cells would be activated, resulting in "reverse aging."

    Of course, there was a price to pay. Throughout the process, one would need to take dozens of supplementary medications to survive the "reverse aging" phase.

    Achieving immortality through this method wasn't as carefree as one might imagine. As the body's age regressed, the brain and hormones would change accordingly. Memories from before the regression would fade, and the person would behave like an actual child. In essence, they would relive their childhood years.

    This meant that humans would transition from maturity to immaturity, rendering previous tasks and occupations unattainable. They would require assistance in daily life.

    Hence, the research direction shifted to shorten the "reverse aging" period, hastening the process of growing up. The file ended there, implying that the experiment to abbreviate this stage had yet to be completed.

    Chu Li discovered that these experiments dated back over two decades.

    In other words, what Wen Renjian was currently pursuing had already been accomplished more than twenty years ago.

    So why establish such a group at the school?

    The more Chu Li pondered, the more perplexed he became, delving deeper into thought.

    That day, Jing Baiyuan didn't return home, and Chu Li's calls to him went unanswered.

    In the depths of night, Hong Feng contacted him, saying that the Admiral had some business to attend to and would be away for a few days.

    After hanging up the call, Chu Li sat on the bed's edge, unable to resist sighing.

    Although he had no intention of prying into his boyfriend's life, their secretive behavior about everything was somewhat distressing. He was well aware that Jing Baiyuan was capable of handling the current situation and understood that they were two independent individuals, with neither interfering in the other's choices. He had no right to interfere in Jing Baiyuan's affairs, and vice versa.

    He trusted that Jing Baiyuan could handle this matter properly, but since they had decided to bind their lives together, there was no need for total silence, was there?

    It was clear that Jing Baiyuan had been detained by the royal family, awaiting trial at the Interstellar Court.

    He remembered asking Hong Feng to assure him not to worry, but the message conveyed was simply that "something had come up."

    Wasn't that a bit inappropriate?

    However, Hong Feng was merely a messenger. Ultimately, Jing Baiyuan's actions had been improper. Chu Li didn't bother discussing the matter further with Hong Feng over the phone. He simply made a mental note to address it with Jing Baiyuan later.

    Alone, he finally settled down for the night.

    Despite that, it wasn't until the wee hours of the morning that he finally fell asleep.

    As expected, the news of Jing Baiyuan's interrogation spread throughout the entire Blue Vein Star the following day.

    Chu Li went to school as usual.

    Those who had yesterday expressed envy about his relationship with Jing Baiyuan now looked at him with a hint of strangeness in their eyes. They hurried past him, and even without turning around, Chu Li could tell they were whispering behind his back.

    The public's affection and disdain were indeed fickle, appearing and disappearing swiftly.

    Unperturbed, Chu Li went straight to his classroom.

    There was some business at the military academy campus that day. Not long after he entered the classroom, all students from his class were summoned.

    Coincidentally, the military academy was where Jing Baiyuan's hero worship was most prevalent. As Chu Li carried out his tasks, he constantly sensed gazes lingering on him. When he turned around, he saw faces that seemed to have much to say but held back.

    Chu Li: "..."

    He even wished they would just come out and say it.

    It was obvious that the conversation would inevitably revolve around Jing Baiyuan and Yuanting. However, who knew that he was just as clueless as they were? Chu Li's mood was slightly dampened, and his expression remained indifferent. After settling his affairs, he packed his belongings in a corner.

    The other Alphas, however, weren't blind. Seeing Chu Li's demeanor, they nudged each other but dared not approach him for questioning.

    The morning passed by, and at noon, Chu Li naturally had lunch with his fellow nursing students at the military academy's cafeteria. Seated with another classmate, after their food was served, they could hear whispers nearby. He lifted his head, only to find no one looking at him.

    Just as he found the situation peculiar, a person pushed through the crowd, stumbled over in two steps, and forced a laugh. "Dr... Dr. Little Chu."

    Chu Li replied coolly, "Just call me by my name. Do you have something to ask?"

    The man scratched his head embarrassedly. "Well... we just wanted to inquire, how is the General doing?"

    Chu Li tensed up, as expected, the question had hit a sensitive spot. He clenched the chopsticks in his hand and lowered his gaze, "It's... fine."

    The Omega in front of him suddenly bowed his head, his brows knitted with an indescribable sense of loss. The simple two words 'it's fine' sounded more like 'not good, terrible'. The Alpha was blaming himself for being so reckless, causing Doctor Little Chu to be unhappy. Across from Chu Li, their fellow Alpha classmate shot him a reproachful look.

    Alpha: "..."

    Oops, he really didn't mean it. It was just that his classmates were too eager to know about Admiral Jing Baiyuan's situation, and he didn't know how to approach the topic with Chu Li, so he blurted it out carelessly.

    Sob sob, if he had known it would upset Chu Li, he wouldn't have asked!

    At this point, there was no taking back his words. The Alpha could only say, "I... I just wanted to show concern for the Admiral. After all, they're saying the Admiral acted on his own, not caring about the lives of the empire's soldiers... I... I don't think that's true!"

    Gathering his courage, he expressed his inner thoughts. Chu Li looked up in surprise, "You believe Jing Baiyuan didn't act without authorization?"

    The Alpha hesitated before responding, "Maybe he didn't consider the order from Blue Vein Star, but I just have a feeling that the Admiral isn't a warmonger. There must be... a reason behind it, right?"

    Chu Li frowned, "You guys don't know... about the internship spaceship being hijacked?"

    "What internship spaceship being hijacked?" "Internship spaceship... aren't those the medical students who went to Haiyun Star recently? Didn't they already come back?" "Hey, wait, that's not right. They just left a few days ago, why would they be back already..."

    The military academy students chattered animatedly, seemingly unaware of the spaceship hijacking incident.

    Chu Li frowned. "Has Teacher Cao Yun returned?"

    Someone replied, "Teacher Cao Yun hasn't been to school since her internship. She said she had family matters to attend to and asked for leave."

    The Alpha who had just questioned Chu Li asked, "What's the story with the internship ship being hijacked?"

    Chu Li explained, "The internship ship was hijacked by space pirates into the Alliance's territory. However, the Alliance refused to give way, which is why Jing Baiyuan fought back... The royal family didn't claim that there was no reason for the war."

    With the advancement of technology, most battles nowadays started with unmanned warships. Although Jing Baiyuan and his opponent had engaged in combat, there were no casualties on either side. It was likely that the Alliance didn't genuinely intend to act as a shield for a group of space pirates and thus didn't fight earnestly.

    In short, the scale of the conflict could be big or small. It could serve as a justification for interrogating Jing Baiyuan, or it could be downplayed and dismissed.

    However, based on the royal family's current attitude, their intentions were clear.

    It was probable that the royal family had suppressed the news about the hijacked internship ship.

    With this thought, Chu Li turned to his medical classmate and asked, "Have the fellow students who applied for the internship with me been attending classes lately?"

    He usually kept a low profile at school, spending most of his time in the laboratory and not being particularly close to his classmates. Now that he had returned for so long, he hadn't had the chance to observe them closely.

    Hearing Chu Li's words, the student was taken aback. After a moment, he slowly shook his head. "I don't think... there is."

    The third-year students had a high turnover rate, often being sent for internships, some to hospitals and others to military academies.

    They weren't in the same class either, so he hadn't paid attention to this before. It was only when Chu Li asked him that he found it odd.

    The group gathered together to exchange information, sensing that something was amiss.

    The Alpha who had asked Chu Li a question earlier was so agitated that his face turned red. He said to Chu Li, "I knew that Admiral wouldn't just randomly declare war on the Alliance! But what's the royal family hiding by keeping these facts hidden..."

    Only after he finished speaking did he realize he had spoken out of turn, hurriedly covering his mouth.

    But when he turned around, everyone in the group had heard him.

    They were genuinely worried about Jing Baiyuanting. Seeing their concern, the tension that had been building up in Chu Li's heart all morning eased slightly, and his mood improved marginally. He managed a smile at the group and said, "To be honest, I'm not too knowledgeable about it either. Jing Baiyuan spends most of his time in Deer Harbor and doesn't talk much about these matters. I was a bit worried myself..."

    "Oh no, oh no, don't worry! The Admiral will definitely be fine!"

    "It was supposed to be an alliance. If they fought, so be it. Does the royal family actually intend to punish the general?"

    Amidst the chaos, people expressed various opinions.

    The atmosphere was no longer suitable for dining, so Chu Li forced a smile and stood up to return his utensils.

    He had planned to seek refuge in the laboratory in the afternoon, but received news that it was temporarily closed.

    Standing at the classroom door, Chu Li found himself lost in thought.

    ---

    On the surface, Jing Baiyuanting's capture seemed like a royal conspiracy to persecute him. In reality, it was a tense standoff between Jing Baiyuanting and the royal family, with detrimental information about both sides continually surfacing. The hijacking of the training ship and the royal family's suppression of the news were inevitably exposed.

    A week after Jing Baiyuanting's arrest, Cao Yun and the few kidnapped students returned to school, but remained tight-lipped about the incident when questioned.

    Cao Yun privately approached Chu Li to apologize for not speaking up for Jing Baiyuanting at the critical moment. Chu Li understood that the matter involving Jing Baiyuanting and the royal family was beyond Cao Yun and his friends' intervention, so he didn't hold any resentment against them.

    Cao Yun appeared even more guilty, leaving with great dejection.

    The proceedings of the Intergalactic Court were tedious and drawn out, taking two weeks just to begin. Lancelot grew furious several times during the process, urging the court to expedite their work.

    However, the Dryads, unrelated by blood to humans, maintained absolute neutrality between the Alliance and the Empire. They would not heed Lancelot's individual urgings, no matter how impatient he was.

    Moreover, they inherently revered order, and no one could persuade them to disrupt it.

    The proceedings proceeded at their own pace, and half a month later, an event occurred that shattered the delicate balance of the standoff.

    Taking advantage of the Expeditionary Force's leadership vacuum, the Alliance forces, while new planets' jurisdictions were still being assigned, launched an attack on several planets that originally belonged to the Empire, seizing newly discovered planets for themselves.

    ---

    "In the Butler family's folly lies their downfall."

    In the Alliance's main command center, the Alliance's supreme commander and Chief Marshal Huai Wei swirled his glass of high-class red wine, his smile ambiguous as he gazed at the face of his own chief in the video feed. "The Expeditionary Force is the most useful tool in their hands. If they want to suppress Jing Baiyuan and Bai Yuanting, they'll have to cut off their own wings. Do they really think I've been courteous to them all this time because of the Butler family's prestige?"

    "Hah, what a joke. If not for Jing Baiyuan and Bai Yuanting lurking like wolves, ready to pounce, why would I be so obedient... In these past years, haven't they, the Empire, benefited enough from us?"

    "No matter the outcome of Jing Baiyuan's trial, we've come out on top in this situation," Huai Wei narrowed his eyes. "With just one order from my Commander, I can breach the Empire's third defense line and seize Blue Stripe Star!"

    The man on the screen had sharp, indifferent features and long, raven-black hair cascading down his shoulder. He glanced casually at Huai Wei and asked, "Where's your adjutant?"

    "In Command Center 3, awaiting orders," replied Huai Wei.

    The man dialed the number for Command Center 3. "Come here, your superior seems to have had a bit too much to drink."

    "Huh?" Huai Wei was puzzled.

    Within a minute, the adjutant rushed over from Command Center 3, looking worried as he gazed at the wine glass in Huai Wei's hand. "Admiral, why are you sneaking drinks again?"

    Huai Wei stared wide-eyed at the long-haired man on the screen. "Commander, you stabbed me in the back!"

    The man spoke coldly, "Jing Baiyuan won't be imprisoned for long. The more planets we can seize, the better. In return, he won't cause us trouble afterward. Do you understand?"

    "Understood, of course," Huai Wei smiled. "You can count on me."

    After hanging up, Huai Wei handed the wine glass to his adjutant and said with a grin, "Let's go, time to plunder!"

    News of the Alliance's incursion into the undefined territories swiftly reached Blue Stripe Star. The royal palace was once again embroiled in turmoil. Lancelot frantically summoned high-ranking military officials, demanding that they immediately send someone to Deerport to lead the expeditionary force and push back the Alliance.

    Yet, not a single person dared to step forward. He reluctantly chose one, but that individual returned in less than a week, his tail between his legs.

    Not only were they no match for the Alliance forces, but they had also triggered internal strife within the expeditionary army, almost sparking a mutiny.

    Lancelot had never been so humiliated in his life. He unleashed his fury in his study, and his angry roars could be heard from afar.

    "How can such a vast empire fail to produce a replacement for Jing Baiyuanting?! Without him, the expeditionary force is like loose sand, unable to defeat even a single Huai Wei?!"

    The officials, heads bowed in silence, dared not speak. Yet, each of them pondered inwardly: How could Huai Wei be merely "a Huai Wei"? He was the Alliance's supreme commander, the most formidable military strategist in their ranks.

    Was he truly that easy to defeat?

    Back when Jing Baiyuanting was around, the expeditionary force had only managed a stalemate against him.

    The Crown Prince's question was almost an invitation to humiliation.

    Amidst the silence, Lancelot suddenly stopped his tirade. His gaze darkened as he stared at the people before him, making everyone increasingly uneasy with each passing moment.

    Emperor Augustus of the Empire was known for his unpredictable temperament. Back when Jing Baiyuan, also known as Bai Yuanting, had yet to assume the position of Supreme Commander of the Expeditionary Force, the empire was effectively under Augustus's absolute rule. He would often act against officials he disliked, and serving in the Blue Stripe Star under his reign was akin to tending to an emperor in ancient times – one never knew when their family would be seized and punished.

    Later, when the Emperor's health deteriorated, the Crown Prince took over... The Crown Prince was much more lenient than the Emperor. At least he wouldn't dismiss or prosecute officials based solely on his personal whims.

    However, since Jing Baiyuan's imprisonment, Lancelot's gaze had become increasingly sinister, bearing a faint resemblance to Augustus's demeanor from years ago.

    The high-ranking officials were all on edge, fearful that Lancelot might assign them to clean up Jing Baiyuan's mess.

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