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    Chapter 65

    065

    Medal

    Jing Baiyuan's fingers trembled almost to the point of closing the video call. Thankfully, Huai Wei anticipated this and interjected before he could, "Wait a moment! We're not done talking yet. I was just greeting Little Li. Why are you so agitated?"

    With a mischievous grin, he continued, "I never would have guessed, Jing Baiyuan, that you're actually taking this seriously."

    Jing Baiyuan's brows knitted tightly, and his body exuded impatience. Chu Li sensed that he was on the verge of cutting off the call with Huai Wei at any moment.

    However, their conversation seemed significant, so Chu Li reached out to gently pat Jing Baiyuan's hand as a form of reassurance.

    The furious feline-like figure did indeed calm down, casting a glance at Chu Li. His impatience lessened, but he still spoke to Huai Wei in a cold tone, "Get to the point."

    Huai Wei sighed softly before asking, "So, when are you coming back?"

    Before Jing Baiyuan could respond, Chu Li curiously asked, "Was what happened before planned between the two of you?"

    Huai Wei chuckled, "Don't say that. One of us is from the Alliance, the other from the Empire. It doesn't matter if we make a pact or not, haahaha... But who would spit out meat that's already in their mouth?"

    Their unspoken understanding was true, as were the benefits they had gained.

    He certainly wouldn't surrender what he had obtained just because Jing Baiyuan returned.

    He wished the Imperial Family would continue to clash with Jing Baiyuan; after all, the one suffering the losses wouldn't be the Alliance.

    Jing Baiyuan tapped irritably on the table, seemingly as a reminder to Huai Wei not to speak unnecessary words.

    Huai Wei reached out and said, "This is your little beauty's question, don't blame me."

    Jing Baiyuanting remarked, "In roughly two days, we should arrive at Deer Harbor."

    Huai Wei's expression sobered. "Then I'll withdraw my troops tomorrow. Let me give you a heads up – retaliation is acceptable, but there should be limits. Otherwise, don't blame me for going all out against you."

    Jing Baiyuan, however, remained unyielding, his expression turning even colder. "I haven't settled the score with you for your involvement in the piracy incident with the interstellar pirates on that training vessel previously."

    Chu Li observed silently from the side. Although the two appeared to be allies, their rivalry was genuine. It seemed their cooperation was rooted in a shared interest.

    Huai Wei had no intention of truly clashing with the Expeditionary Force. He informed Jing Baiyuanting in advance that after his return to Deerport, both parties would likely stage a mock battle, followed by the "retreat" of the Alliance from the Empire's territory.

    Of course, the disputed planets wouldn't be returned.

    The call with Huai Wei ended quickly, followed by internal communication within the Expeditionary Force. Chu Li was initially worried about potential leaks and suggested Jing Baiyuanting change his location. However, after their conversation, Jing Baiyuanting completely opened up to Chu Li, assuring him that it was fine and insisting on staying by his side for the entire conference call.

    Initially, Chu Li was still in the mood to accompany him, but as he grew weary, he lay down beside Jing Baiyuanting.

    As a result, everyone who called Jing Baiyuanting that day saw the Omega by his side.

    ---

    After waking up from a nap, Chu Li indeed found that his fever had subsided, and he felt physically and mentally well.

    He got up to join Jing Baiyuanting for breakfast, finishing his meal while browsing his personal terminal nearby.

    Sure enough, news of his disappearance had caused a stir within the school – not because the royal family had said anything; they certainly didn't want the Sunset Afterglow Experiment to be exposed, nor did they launch a massive search for the missing Chu Li.

    It was simply that his fellow medical students noticed his absence and proactively asked their teachers about him.

    The teacher had fabricated an excuse, claiming to be hospitalized due to illness. However, despite exhaustive searches across all hospitals on Blue Stripe Star, no trace of him was found.

    Nursing students often interned at medical facilities and could easily inquire about Chu Li's whereabouts through their connections.

    The inability to locate Chu Li indirectly exposed the teachers' deception. With the recent hijacking incident during the internship not fully resolved and now Chu Li's disappearance, people couldn't help but connect the two events.

    Add to that, the twenty students who had gone on the internship one by one transferred out of school, fueling more speculation among the student body.

    Title: The Unsolved Mystery - Where Has Chu Li Gone?

    1st Post: He vanished right after the Admiral left. I have a reasonable suspicion that he ran away with the Admiral.

    2nd Post: I doubt it. Chu Li was a studious overachiever in school, advancing two grades in a year and working in labs... Would he abandon his studies for Jing Baiyuan?

    3rd Post: Did anyone else notice that on the day Chu Li didn't come to school, there was suddenly an extra security check at the main gate? Although there's no proof linking these two incidents, something feels off to me.

    4th Post: Yeah, Chu Li's research team also suspended their work recently. A student from our department who was working on Professor Wenren's experiment was even summoned to the academic affairs office for questioning.

    5th Post: It seems calm on the surface, but I can sense a major event lurking beneath.

    6th Floor: I agree.

    7th Floor: Ditto.

    8th Floor: Ditto.

    ...

    45th Floor: Also, haven't you noticed? Professor Wenren seems to have been absent for quite some time.

    ---

    Jing Baiyuan, who was originally attending to official duties, suddenly paused and gazed at Chu Li not far away.

    He was nestled in bed, his loose loungewear riding up slightly with his movements, exposing his fair ankles and slender calves. The little key was sprawled at his feet, curled up soundly asleep.

    This scene made Jing Baiyuan's pupils constrict slightly, but he quickly noticed that Chu Li didn't seem at ease. He had a frown on his face, as if troubled by something.

    Jing Baiyuan asked, "What's the matter?" Chu Li replied, "Other students at school mentioned that Professor Wenren hasn't been teaching for a while. I'm a bit worried about him."

    Jing Baiyuan Ting said, "He gave you the information, so there shouldn't be any danger."

    Chu Li looked up at him.

    Jing Baiyuan Ting continued, "I used to think that Augustus kept my mother in the palace to restrain me. But now, I realize it was probably because of that data. He wanted it, but my mother wouldn't give it to him. He had no other choice and didn't dare to harm her. He was afraid that if she died, he'd never get his hands on the information."

    "Professor Wenren must have anticipated the royal family's move by giving you the data beforehand. He should have made preparations. If he were unfortunately caught, Augustus wouldn't dare do anything to him. At most, he'd be imprisoned like my mother."

    Chu Li grew curious. "Is Augustus the emperor? But I don't seem to see the emperor making public appearances. Is it the crown prince who's currently involved in politics?"

    Jing Baiyuan Ting lowered his gaze and whispered, "If he really used that drug, whether the emperor or the crown prince shows up isn't too significant anymore."

    Chu Li understood. "You mean, the current Lancelot isn't actually the crown prince but Augustus himself. After taking the drug, he returned to a younger age and has been impersonating his son?"

    He frowned again. "But where is the real Lancelot? Could he also be imprisoned?"

    Jing Baiyuan Ting nodded. "Very likely."

    Chu Li was astonished. "That's his own son."

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting shook his head slowly. "Once humans achieve immortality, offspring will lose their significance. They will no longer be the continuation of one's bloodline but competitors for resources in the present."

    Chu Li was slightly taken aback.

    He had joined Wen Renjian's team initially due to financial needs, and since he hadn't delved into any core technologies, he didn't have a tangible sense of what he was researching.

    Only now, with Jing Baiyuan Yuanting's words, did he realize there might be an issue.

    Could humans... truly achieve immortality?

    If one day, human beings truly attain immortality, many of the fundamental logics of our current society would crumble. Would those humans still be human?

    Chu Li had a vague sense that he was glimpsing something, but these things were too distant from his life, mere fleeting fantasies born of idle speculation.

    He shook his head and said, "I hope Teacher will be safe."

    Jing Baiyuan said, "Perhaps when we return to Luguang, we can have someone secretly spread the news of your presence there. Your teacher, being outside, would likely find a way to come to Luguang."

    Chu Li had no better options at the moment, so he could only nod in agreement.

    Two days later, the pair arrived at Deerport Fortress.

    Unlike their previous visit, this landing was much more low-key, without any grand welcomes from crowds. Without the artificial temperature control system, the weather was bitterly cold. Before disembarking, Jing Baiyuan wrapped Chu Li up like a fur ball and even slipped a garment on the small key.

    The kitten, now dressed, stumbled about as if bound, lacking even the strength to hiss at Jing Baiyuan.

    Seizing the opportunity, Jing Baiyuan tucked the kitten into his embrace and held Chu Li's bundled form with his other hand, leading him straight to the expeditionary force's military base.

    The expeditionary force's encampment was clean and orderly. From afar, they could hear the cadences of their training drills. Curious, Chu Li peered over and saw that there were quite a few people on the training ground, all moving in perfect unison, as if cloned.

    Moreover, surpassing even the military academy, every one of them had incredible physiques, an abundance of long, slender legs catching the eye.

    As Chu Li passed by, he couldn't help but glance twice. Jing Baiyuan then tightened his grip on Chu Li's hand, pulling him closer. Unprepared, Chu Li stumbled and turned back, complaining, "What are you doing?"

    In the midst of the coquettish behavior, Jing Baiyuan felt quite uncomfortable. He wanted to raise his hand to touch his ear, but he forgot that the little key was still nestled in his arms. As soon as he moved, the cat expressed its displeasure with a meow: "Meow!"

    Jing Baiyuan had no choice but to maintain his previous posture and whispered, "You've veered off course."

    Chu Li looked around in confusion. "There isn't."

    He suddenly realized something was amiss and, with a grin, leaned closer to Jing Baiyuan. "You don't want me to look over there, do you?"

    Caught in the act, Jing Baiyuan neither admitted nor denied it. He lowered his gaze, focusing on his nose and then his heart.

    Chu Li chuckled.

    Jing Baiyuan's quarters in the base were simple, similar to a single room on a spaceship. There was a military cot, a table, and a wardrobe.

    Opening the wardrobe, half of it was filled with military uniforms, while the other half contained training attire.

    In a corner, a stack of identical white sleeveless vests were neatly folded.

    Chu Li randomly picked one out. He found that the vest was made of pure cotton and had been worn many times, causing some parts to fray and even become translucent from wear.

    Jing Baiyuan was still outside talking to someone. Chu Li stole a glance, then, like a thief, held it up to his nose to sniff. It carried the scent of sunshine, fresh soap, and... the pheromones of an Alpha.

    Jing Baiyuan's pheromones had a tendency towards a blazing sun. When they were intimate, their pheromones would blend together, melting the scorching sun into warm, gentle rays. Whenever Chu Li was enveloped by this particular pheromone, he felt comfortable and at ease.

    Lost in thought, Chu Li was startled when Jing Baiyuan entered the room. He hastily tried to put the vest back, accidentally brushing against the hanging military uniform. The hanger fell with a clatter, burying Chu Li beneath the pile of clothes.

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting entered from outside and saw an Omega sprawled inside the closet, seemingly engaged in some mysterious activity with his entire upper body buried within, leaving only his legs thrashing about outside.

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting: "What on earth are you doing?"

    Chu Li: "Mmmfff!!"

    He couldn't get out!

    Realizing that Chu Li was trapped, Jing Baiyuan Yuanting paused, then hurried over. He discovered that the hanger hook in Chu Li's closet had broken, causing all the clothes to collapse onto him.

    The military uniforms were thick, heavy, and sized large. Chu Li was momentarily pinned beneath them, struggling like a cat whose head had accidentally slipped into a milk tea cup. Jing Baiyuan Yuanting quickly came to his aid, helping to free his head.

    With a sigh of relief as he emerged back into the light, Chu Li noticed the man in front of him looking at him with an indescribable expression. His face flushed red with a mix of embarrassment and fury, wishing he could find a hole to crawl into.

    Only then did Jing Baiyuan Yuanting fully comprehend the situation. Despite himself, a smile threatened to surface, but he managed to suppress it, maintaining a serious tone. "The hanger hook is broken. I'll get someone to fix it."

    Chu Li was utterly frustrated; it would have been better if Jing Baiyuan Yuanting had just laughed out loud! He hadn't missed that barely concealed smile!

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting cleared his throat, striving to maintain his composure. "I'll go find someone to repair it."

    Chu Li's expression changed. Fix it himself? Wouldn't that mean everyone would know! He tugged on Jing Baiyuan's arm and whispered something to him...

    Jing Baiyuan didn't catch what he said. "What?"

    Chu Li: "..."

    With no choice, he mustered up the courage and repeated himself, "Don't go... fix it yourself..."

    It took Jing Baiyuan a moment to understand, but when he did, his heart warmed. Seeing Chu Li's ears turn red, he pulled the Omega into his embrace and asked softly, "Any reward?"

    "What?" Chu Li's face flushed even more as he looked up at the Alpha towering over him, asking bashfully, "What kind of reward do you want?"

    Jing Baiyuan stared at him without responding, so Chu Li had no choice but to tiptoe up and peck his chin. However, before he could pull away, Jing Baiyuan captured his lips.

    Chu Li's eyelashes fluttered slightly, but he eventually gave in and gently closed his eyes, leaning on his toes as he wrapped his arms around the Alpha's neck, allowing him to kiss him.

    Unfortunately, Hong Feng and Ya Lan happened to walk by the door just then, planning to talk to Jing Baiyuan about something. They were greeted with this intimate scene, witnessing the Alpha embracing and passionately kissing the smaller Omega. The inexperienced Hong Feng blushed instantly and stumbled awkwardly away, signaling Ya Lan with a wink, "Let's go! Quickly!"

    Don't be a third wheel here!

    Before leaving, he even kindly closed the door for Jing Baiyuan Ting.

    As Chu Li was being kissed, he was gradually placed on the bed. The thin military cot creaked under their combined weight. At the last moment, Chu Li pushed against Jing Baiyuan Ting's shoulder, blushing as he mustered his final bit of stubbornness. "Fix the wardrobe."

    Jing Baiyuan Ting: "…"

    Fine then, fix the wardrobe.

    Reluctantly, he released Chu Li and got up honestly to mend the wardrobe.

    He took out all the clothes and piled them onto the bed. Chu Li sat on the edge of the bed, helping him sort through the garments. When he came across a military uniform, he exclaimed, "So many medals."

    Jing Baiyuan Ting glanced back and recognized it as the formal attire he wore during parades, adorned with his numerous medals.

    He didn't have many opportunities to attend formal events, so he had only worn this outfit twice. Over time, with the medals always attached to it, he had forgotten about them.

    They should be stored away properly.

    Jing Baiyuan Ting walked to the window, opened a drawer on the desk, and said, "There's a box inside. You can store these medals in there."

    Chu Li reached out to take them, and these medals turned out to be quite heavy. He picked up one with a star shape and examined the transparent gemstone in its center, surprised. "What kind of gem is this? A diamond? Crystal?"

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting glanced at it and said, "It's a Blue Blood Crystal."

    "What?" Chu Li shook the star-shaped medal and noticed that deep within the transparent gemstone, there seemed to be a hint of blue. As he moved it, the blue hue slowly flowed within the gem.

    "It's the fuel for mechas," Jing Baiyuan Yuanting explained. "After the Interstellar Era, this crystal replaced oil and was called the Blue Blood of the era."

    "Oh…" Chu Li asked curiously, "Why are they made into medals?"

    "Because I discovered the largest Blue Blood Crystal mine in the Empire so far. I received recognition for it back then." He couldn't remember what rank it was anymore. Since he joined the Expeditionary Force, he had received too many similar accolades. He himself didn't care much about them, so he just threw them into a drawer.

    However, Chu Li's curiosity was piqued. Jing Baiyuan Yuanting had always been calm and even clumsy in front of him, without any trace of the ferocity or dominance one would expect from a general. It made it difficult for Chu Li to associate Jing Baiyuan Yuanting with that title.

    But now, seeing these medals, he truly realized that the person beside him was truly remarkable.

    Chu Li felt a sudden sense of pride.

    He carefully placed the star-shaped medal back into the box and picked up another one. "And this one?"

    Jing BaiyuanYuanting was fixing the wardrobe while recounting the origins of the medals to him. Of course, he couldn't remember most of them. When he stumbled over his words, unable to recall the stories, Chu Li would sit on the bed and watch him with a smile. The sunlight streaming in from the window illuminated Chu Li's body, making his skin appear even more fair, as if he were glowing.

    The two of them settled down temporarily in this place. Jing BaiyuanYuanting was quite busy those few days, unable to return home, and Chu Li didn't want to stay in that empty big house either. So, he asked Hong Feng for help to prepare a separate room for him within the base, allowing both of them to live there together.

    As for Little Key... Hong Feng found a satellite positioning system, hung it around the kitten's neck, and granted it free access throughout the base. Little Key's activity range expanded from a tiny room to the entire base.

    The base had protective systems on its outer walls. With the positioning device, Little Key couldn't escape, but even so, the base was large enough for it to roam about freely.

    At first, it was still rather timid, but after adapting for two days, it began wandering around the base confidently.

    When other soldiers were training, it would strut past with its head held high. Occasionally, when it encountered someone doing push-ups, it would jump onto their back, seemingly adding extra weight to their exercise. Nevertheless, Little Key was well-liked in the base. Who could resist the affection of a little kitten?

    Chu Li also naturally joined the medical department, continuing his interrupted internship alongside the other doctors.

    Back at the base, Jing BaiyuanYuanting became incredibly busy. Sometimes, meetings would last an entire day, and on patrol missions with the expeditionary force, they often ventured into areas without any communication signals, leaving them disconnected for two or three days. Chu Li witnessed this firsthand, finally understanding why Jing Baiyuan's replies to his messages were always delayed.

    He understood Jing Baiyuan's busyness and was aware that he could contribute far less compared to Jing Baiyuan. In reality, Jing Baiyuan was an ambitious person. His aspirations certainly went beyond simply bringing Bai Xian out of Blue Stripe Star. At present, Lancelot was yet to realize these intentions, so Jing Baiyuan needed to make preparations ahead of time.

    Unable to offer assistance, Chu Li didn't belittle himself due to his limited capabilities. He carried on with his original plan, tackling each task at hand diligently.

    In this world, there were towering trees reaching towards the sky, as well as delicate grasses surviving in crevices of rocks. The grandeur of the trees did not negate the significance of the grass's existence.

    On Blue Vein Star, apart from the uproar caused by Chu Li's disappearance, everything else remained tranquil.

    Lancelot seemed to have made no effort to search for Chu Li; life continued as usual, except... After a month of his arrival at Deerport Fortress, the Blue Vein Comprehensive Academy announced his withdrawal from studies. Nothing peculiar occurred afterward.

    On the day the news of his withdrawal was announced, Chu Li's personal terminal received numerous messages, all inquiring about the situation.

    Chu Li adhered to his persona of being missing, not reaching out to anyone.

    Time flew by swiftly, and before long, it was the end of the year.

    People in this era didn't place much emphasis on celebrating New Year's, nor did they distinguish between the solar and lunar calendars. However, after a year of bustling activity, they would still take a break at the end of the year to relax.

    In reality, Chu Li hadn't seen Jing Baiyuan for almost half a month. Two weeks prior, he had set out on patrol with Ya Lan, Feng Yichen, and others, disappearing into some remote corner where there wasn't even any signal. Thus, Chu Li found himself sending lonely goodnight messages in their chat group.

    Unperturbed by his solitude, it was Hong Fei who visited him daily, attempting to console him and make his loneliness less palpable.

    Chu Li looked at him, feeling baffled. The military doctors from the Medical Department had assigned him so much homework that he couldn't finish it every night. So how could he have the time to miss anyone?

    Hearing Chu Li's words, Hong Fei was stunned. How was this Omega different from others? He and Admiral Jing had such a great relationship. If the Admiral left, he would really not miss him just because he said so!

    Sob, so cold. He admired him so much.

    Actually, it wasn't that he didn't miss Jing Baiyuan Ting at all; it was just not as intense. He wouldn't let his longing affect his tasks.

    However, upon receiving the news that Bai Yuanting was returning, he was so excited that he couldn't sleep the whole night. The next day, he woke up early and went to the harbor to greet him.

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