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    Chapter 70

    070

    If you don't know, then you simply don't know.

    Instead of answering, he asked back, leaving the other person momentarily stunned. However, the man quickly regained his composure and forcefully twisted Chu Li's wrists behind his back. Chu Li winced in pain and let out a startled cry.

    The man leaned down to look at Chu Li, a hint of surprise in his eyes. "You really can run. To think that you were actually here... What kind of love potion did you feed Jing Baiyuan to make him go this far for you? Lankang hasn't been peaceful lately, and I suppose you've had a hand in that too?"

    Chu Li didn't understand a word of what the man was saying, but he still smiled provocatively. "Can you guess?"

    Zong Weixin was one of Lancelot's men. He had come to Lankang Fort on Lancelot's orders to assess the situation, only to stumble upon an unexpected surprise.

    This Omega probably didn't expect the king to be searching for him. If not for Lankang's long-standing independence from Blue Stripe Star's command, he would have been caught long ago with how brazenly he was behaving.

    But somehow, he knew about Wen Renjian's escape.

    Zong Weixin lowered his head and asked, "Before Wen Renjian left, did he give you anything?"

    Chu Li replied, "I did give it to him. What now?"

    Zong Weixin immediately widened his eyes. "Hand it over!"

    Chu Li said, "He gave me a thick stack of documents. Who carries documents around with them? Let go of me, I'll go home and get it for you."

    Zong Weixin chuckled. "Brat, are you trying to fool me?!"

    Would he really return after sending him home?

    Zong Weixin continued, "My spaceship is authorized. Once you're on board, there are plenty of ways to make you confess. You look delicate and are an Omega. It'd be better for you to honestly hand over the documents; you might suffer less that way."

    To his surprise, Chu Li didn't seem intimidated by his words at all. Instead, he looked at Zong Weixin as if he were mentally challenged.

    Unaware of the issue with his statement, Zong Weixin subconsciously asked, "What...?"

    Chu Li said, "Have you ever heard a story?"

    "What story?"

    "Mathematics is unlike those superficial and deceitful things; if you don't understand it, you simply don't. You could kill me, and I'd still be clueless," Chu Li declared.

    Zong Weixin: "..."

    He was thoroughly confused by Chu Li's words. What did this have to do with mathematics?

    Chu Li continued, "The material the teacher provided is thicker than a brick. If I were still studying on Blue Vein Star, it might take me two years to comprehend it all. It's filled with mathematical sequences, algebraic equations, and countless chemical formulas. A single missing or extra word can alter an experiment's outcome entirely. Do you truly believe I could memorize all of that? I wish to tell you, but if you just whisk me away like this, no amount of torture or coercion would make me reveal what I don't know. Even if you beat me to death, I wouldn't be able to say what I haven't learned."

    "Experimental data is similar to math – if you don't grasp it, you don't."

    Zong Weixin: "..."

    What he said made so much sense that Zong Weixin found himself unable to refute it.

    Chu Li continued, "Jing Baiyuan is not in Luguang today. If you don't seize this opportunity to get the information from me, you might never have another chance."

    Zong Weixin felt numb from Chu Li's words. On one hand, he acknowledged the logic, but on the other hand, its persuasiveness made him suspect there was a catch.

    Unable to resist, he pressed Chu Li down and asked, "What scheme are you hatching?"

    Chu Li said, "I'm just here to retrieve the enhancer. What devious plot could I possibly have? I'm just afraid of death, so do you still want the information or not? If not, just take me back and maybe that will suffice for your mission."

    Zong Weixin: "…"

    Lancelot was after the information, not Chu Li himself. What use would it be to take him back?

    Although the Omega was pinned to the ground, his eyes were clear and showed no signs of being controlled. Instead, Zong Weixin felt as if Chu Li had dug a deep pit, waiting for him to fall in!

    But Chu Li was right. He had just come here by chance and been caught. How could he have set up a trap?

    Was he perhaps overthinking things?

    As Zong Weixin hesitated, time passed by. His attention was entirely drawn by Chu Li's words, and he even forgot about the phone call Chu Li had just made.

    In his mind, Chu Li was merely a small figure who had bewitched Jing Baiyuan. There was no way Jing Baiyuan would answer his call. Yes, Chu Li was seeking help, but how could it be from Jing Baiyuan?

    Zong Weixin's hesitation caused him to miss the best opportunity. He thought he had only delayed for five minutes, but when he finally decided to seize Chu Li first, a piercing sound of air being ripped apart echoed from the distant sky.

    He looked up in shock to see the sky filled with an overwhelming number of warships, all their cannons aimed at him.

    Sirens blared from all directions as a stern and icy male voice echoed in the sky, "Drop your weapons! Drop your weapons! This is the Tenth Expeditionary Division. Surrender, and you shall not be harmed!"

    At that moment, Chu Li turned to Zong Weixin and said, "I told you to take me home, but you wouldn't listen. Look where it got us – we're caught."

    Zong Weixin glared fiercely at Chu Li before looking up at the warships. "This is a misunderstanding! I'm from Blue Stripe Star, delivering military supplies! I'm not the enemy!"

    However, the cannons remained trained on them. Zong Weixin had only intended to secretly take Chu Li away without provoking the Expeditionary Force!

    With no other choice, he reluctantly released his grip on Chu Li.

    A warship descended from the sky, and Jing Baiyuan Yuanting stepped out. He hurried towards Chu Li, who, upon being freed, ran straight into his arms.

    Not until he had Chu Li safely in his embrace did Jing Baiyuan Yuanting finally relax. Turning to the surrounded Zong Weixin, he said coldly, "Lock him up!"

    Zong Weixin, taken aback by the turn of events, protested, "I'm from Blue Stripe Star! You can't imprison me; you have no right to do so!"

    But nobody paid attention to him. Hong Feng walked directly behind Zong Weixin and cuffed his wrists with handcuffs.

    --

    On the second day of January, just after the New Year celebrations, the logistics officer dispatched by Blue Stripe Star to Luhang Fortress, Zong Weixin, was detained by the expeditionary force.

    This event would later be recorded in the interstellar chronicles as a sign of deteriorating relations between Luhang and Blue Stripe Star.

    At present, however, nobody knew what this truly signified.

    News of the incident swiftly reached Blue Stripe Star. In the palace, Lancelot flew into a rage, as was customary, with his chamberlains scurrying about to clean up the mess.

    After his outburst, Lancelot summoned members of the council to discuss how to resolve the situation.

    The sudden provocation from Luhang Fortress was utterly inexplicable, without any apparent cause.

    Ever since Jing Baiyuan, also known as Bai Yuanting, had become the supreme commander of the expeditionary force and transformed the once-lazy border defenses into an ironclad unit, Lancelot had grown wary of him. Now, his greatest fear had finally come to pass.

    With a worried look, the council president said, "I've heard that he's holding the logistics officer captive. Could it be that he did something to offend Admiral Jing...?"

    "Even now, you still defend him?" Lancelot, seated in the throne, lowered his gaze, his expression concealed, but his voice carried a chill. "He's one step away from openly rebelling, and yet you still find excuses for him. Will it take an invasion of Blue Stripe Star for you to acknowledge his rebellious intentions?!"

    The council president's face paled. "Your Highness, please don't say such things!"

    Jing Baiyuan, with his immense power, if he were to rebel, what would become of the empire! The Senate President could by no means bear to witness such a scene, whether one called it diplomatic compromise or self-deception, they absolutely could not bring this matter to the surface until Jing Baiyuan explicitly declared his intentions!

    But Lancelot had a different perspective.

    That child...

    He should have strangled him on the spot years ago! He thought that by casting him into the expeditionary force, a mere teenager wouldn't survive such harsh conditions! He orchestrated so many accidents, hoping for him to "naturally" meet his end, but he didn't die! Not only did he survive, he even became the Supreme Commander of the Expeditionary Force!

    From the day he ascended to that position, Lancelot's nightmares had begun.

    Lancelot's hand, concealed beneath his sleeve, clenched tightly, a hint of madness igniting in his crimson eyes.

    He had believed that by controlling Bai Xian, he could hold Jing Baiyuan, Bai Yuanting, in check. Yet, he hadn't expected that after growing up to become a general, Jing Baiyuan would only visit Bai Xian a handful of times!

    He didn't care about his own biological mother at all!

    How could this be?

    No, he couldn't allow this to continue. Jing Baiyuan was like a tiger that had escaped its cage. Even if he did nothing but calmly lie at his side, the intimidation he exuded kept Lancelot from finding peace day or night!

    He must be eliminated!

    ---

    After Zong Weixin's capture, the atmosphere in Luguang became even more tense.

    Jing Baiyuan publicly announced Chu Li's position change, assigning the role of Chief Medical Officer, originally belonging to Li Yunhua, to Chu Li.

    Li Yunhua, in turn, was promoted to Deputy Chief and Special Advisor.

    At first, Chu Li felt embarrassed about this. He privately invited Li Yunhua for a meal, but Li Yunhua took it all in stride. He understood that Jing Baiyuan's move was to legitimize Chu Li's status and facilitate his integration into Luguang's inner circle more quickly. In reality, everyone already liked Chu Li, so Li Yunhua didn't mind these nominal titles, which only served to reassure Chu Li.

    Knowing that he still held sway over the Military Medical Department, Chu Li approached Jing Baiyuan the following day to propose swapping their positions back. Li Yunhua wasn't joking with Chu Li; he genuinely didn't mind giving up his rank. Under Jing Baiyuan's strict military rule, recognition and rewards were not limited to mere titles.

    Li Yunhua realized that Jing Baiyuan's decision was a response to Zong Weixin's attempt to take Chu Li away, emphasizing Chu Li's importance and untouchable status within Luguang. Since Chu Li's joining the Medical Department, he had proven to be of great assistance.

    While Li Yunhua grasped Jing Baiyuan's intentions, he hadn't expected Chu Li to take the matter so seriously, personally seeking out Jing Baiyuan to reverse their positions once again.

    Surprised yet pleased, his impression of Chu Li grew even better.

    On Chu Li's first day at work, Jing Baiyuan took the initiative to host a welcoming banquet for him. Omegas were not good at drinking, and Chu Li was no exception. He got drunk under the influence of the Medical Department's seasoned veterans. Just as Li Yunhua was wondering how to send Chu Li back home, he spotted a man waiting outside through the window.

    Li Yunhua froze for a moment before breaking into a knowing smile. Gently patting Chu Li on the shoulder, he whispered, "Someone's here to pick you up."

    Completely drunk, Chu Li was oblivious to his surroundings. He lifted his head dazedly and slurred, "Wha... who... hiccup! Picks me up?"

    Chu Li was usually a refined person, so it was quite unusual to see him in such a state.

    Li Yunhua looked helpless, as if he had seen his own child throwing a tantrum. He pointed towards the person outside the window. However, Chu Li was too drunk to make out who it was. Leaning against the window, he stared eagerly but saw nothing.

    He pouted, his voice tinged with tears, "No one's here..."

    The sight of an Omega in tears flustered everyone in the private room. They hastily urged Li Yunhua to hurry up and fetch Jing Baiyuan.

    Feeling helpless, Li Yunhua stepped out to look for him.

    As soon as he exited the restaurant, he felt a chill on his nose. Looking up, Li Yunhua noticed that snowflakes were falling from the sky under the dim yellow streetlights.

    Jing Baiyuan, with his elegant strides, approached from the parking lot across the street. Upon seeing Chu Li at the entrance, he asked, "Where's Little Li?"

    Initially, Li Yunhua, like others, didn't believe that Jing Baiyuan genuinely had feelings for this Omega. After all, in all the years spent by Jing Baiyuan's side, he had never shown any particular interest in anyone, let alone displayed any signs of being in love.

    However, after the recent events, Li Yunhua realized he had misjudged the situation. The two were deeply affectionate and well-suited for each other.

    He pointed inside and said, "He's drunk and looking for you. Go quickly; otherwise, he'll start crying."

    Upon hearing that Chu Li might cry, Jing Baiyuan furrowed his brow and hastened his pace into the establishment.

    Li Yunhua hurriedly called out, "He's in Room 5, don't go to the wrong one!"

    Watching Jing Baiyuan disappear inside, Li Yunhua suddenly hesitated to follow. The noise and warmth inside were overwhelming.

    Instead, he remained at the door, letting snowflakes land on him, bringing a refreshing sensation.

    After a while, Jing Baiyuan emerged with Chu Li in tow. Initially, they were merely holding hands, but as Chu Li started to fuss and refuse to move, sobbing about Jing Baiyuan being too harsh, they attracted curious glances from nearby patrons.

    Jing Baiyuan, in front of Chu Li, was candid, but this did not imply he was equally open with everyone else. Lu Gang was a small town where people who dined at the restaurants were familiar with one another. Upon witnessing the two engaged in an affectionate tussle, they all exchanged knowing smiles.

    Perhaps the room was too warm, for Jing Baiyuan's ears had flushed red, and a sheen of sweat glistened on his nose. Chu Li refused to walk properly, so he simply bent down to carry him. This only exacerbated the situation; Chu Li pounded against his back, weeping as they walked along. "No more, no more, I said no more... Wuhu, you wicked fellow..."

    Jing Baiyuan's face flushed hot under the clamor, what was this all about!

    Coincidentally, they stepped out just in time to witness Li Yunhua still standing outside.

    Li Yunhua was initially feeling a bit sentimental, but seeing this scene, he couldn't help but burst out laughing. Who would have thought that the solemn and unsmiling Jing Baiyuan would have such a day!

    It could almost be described as a state of disarray.

    Despite his predicament, he was not agitated. His actions while holding Chu Li were gentle. His face was slightly flushed as he walked in front of Li Yunhua, nodding at him softly, before proceeding to carry Chu Li across the room.

    Chu Li continued to squirm in his arms, protesting, "I don't want to... I don't want to be on top... Yuanting, I'm so tired..."

    Whining softly and with no one else around, Jing Baiyuan's emotions became even more uncontrollable, the flush spreading across his cheeks.

    But no matter how he tried to reassure Chu Li, it was to no avail. He could only acquiesce, whispering into Chu Li's ear, "Alright, we won't do it that way. I'll let you lie down, is that okay?"

    "Indeed." Chu Li finally behaved obediently. Jing Baiyuan Ting opened the car door and placed him in the passenger seat, adjusting the position for his comfort before letting him lie down.

    Now that he was quiet, he nestled his head on his own arm and fell into a deep sleep.

    Jing Baiyuan Ting got into the car but didn't drive off immediately. Instead, he lowered his head to gaze at Chu Li quietly.

    Ever since Zong Weixin was captured, Chu Li had also become busy. Realizing his limitations, he spent all his days at the Military Medical Department. Li Yunhua and the others took a liking to him, making him the department head, with the military doctors even signing a petition in support of this decision.

    This accomplishment was not without Chu Li's own efforts.

    However, his busy schedule had caused him to lose weight.

    Jing Baiyuan Ting felt a pang of affection and gently traced his fingers along Chu Li's jawline.

    In his sleep, Chu Li seemed to sense something and leaned forward slightly, rubbing his forehead against the palm of Jing Baiyuan Ting's hand.

    A smile tugged at Jing Baiyuan Ting's lips.

    He looked like a little kitten.

    When Chu Li woke up the next day, the sun was already high in the sky. Jing Baiyuan had long since left, leaving only the impression of his body in the bed and the faded warmth.

    In contrast, the little key nestled in his embrace was warm and cozy.

    As Chu Li stirred, the little key also awakened, its voice still groggy and a bit hoarse: "Meow..."

    Chu Li gently stroked its head and whispered, "It's alright, baby, go back to sleep."

    Speaking softly, he carefully got out of bed, covered the little key with the blanket, and then carved out a small hole near its nose so it could breathe easily.

    After finishing these tasks, he turned to wash up and dress.

    Arriving at the military medical department, he found that everyone was already there. Chu Li greeted each person with a smile, only to notice that their smiles... were all rather peculiar.

    He couldn't help but touch his own face.

    He had been drunk the previous night.

    Could it be that he did something embarrassing?

    ---

    Ever since Zong Weixin's capture, the relationship between Luguang and Lanwen Star became increasingly tense, resulting in rigorous inspections for all trading ships traveling between the two.

    The supply of enhancing agents from Lanwen Star to Luguang naturally ceased. Jing Baiyuan, somehow, managed to acquire new enhancing agents and distributed them to everyone.

    After this period of investigation, he uncovered the cause of the illness. Recently, a fashionable trinket had become popular on Lanwen Star, claimed to be a rare gemstone that could bring happiness and good fortune.

    In reality, it was a radioactive mineral that could shield the body from medical scanners, rendering them ineffective.

    In the era of interstellar information, pheromones spread rapidly, and humans, as social creatures, enjoyed following trends. Even if they weren't particularly fond of something, they'd still want it just because others had it. This tendency turned such small trinkets into "internet sensations."

    There was nothing inherently wrong with liking something, but some took advantage of this fondness, causing harm not only to people's bodies but also to their emotions.

    Upon the release of the investigation results, people discarded their purchased accessories. Some more radical individuals even took to the internet, accusing Lanwen Star of intentionally harming them and warning others against blindly following such sudden fads, lest they fall victim to a trap.

    While the incident didn't escalate into chaos, the malfunctioning of medical scanners caused significant anxiety among the public before the truth was fully revealed.

    The internet is abuzz with all sorts of opinions.

    Amidst his bustling schedule, Chu Li only managed to spare a fleeting glance. Upon witnessing the chaos, he didn't bother to look further.

    Rapid information dissemination can pose significant challenges for those in charge, as everyone holds their own opinions and yearns to express them freely. Regardless of the issue at hand, disagreements can easily escalate into disputes. With a multitude of tasks awaiting him, he cannot afford to waste time on such matters.

    He merely gave Jing Baiyuan a concise explanation of the situation, asking him to find someone to quell the chaotic public opinion.

    Upon hearing this, Jing BaiyuanYuanting remained composed. However, after a few days, the topic of their discussion shifted from that small stone to another major event.

    That was the relationship between Deerport Fortress and Blue Stripe Star.

    Their hostility was openly acknowledged, but the extent of it and what form it might take were unclear.

    As speculations ran rampant, an unfortunate piece of news arrived from Blue Stripe Star.

    Augustus had passed away.

    Emperor Augustus, despite his years of absence, was like an anchor to the people of the empire. As long as he lived, he served a purpose.

    Yet, he suddenly passed away.

    In an instant, the empire fell into chaos.

    Accompanying this news was an obituary from Blue Vein Star and... an order to recall Jing Baiyuan.

    Lancelot, as the crown prince, requested Jing Baiyuan's return to Blue Vein Star... to attend his father's... Augustus's funeral.

    Upon seeing the word "father," Chu Li had an ominous feeling. He hurriedly sought out Jing Baiyuan and found him with an inscrutable expression, staring at the public recall order.

    Chu Li grew concerned and called out to him, "Yuanting?"

    Jing Baiyuan lifted his head. The verdigris eyes that once shimmered seemed to have lost their luster, now filled only with shadows.

    Chu Li approached him and whispered softly, "Are you alright?"

    Only then did Jing Baiyuan's expression change. He turned slightly and gestured for Chu Li to come closer with a wave of his hand.

    Chu Li walked to Jing Baiyuan's side, finding no place to sit. Deciding to be spontaneous, he took a seat on Jing Baiyuan's lap.

    Out in public, he rarely engaged in intimate gestures with Jing Baiyuan, for Jing was a high-ranking general of the Expeditionary Force and the leader of Luguang. Such actions might undermine his authority before his subordinates, and make Chu Li appear particularly immature.

    But this time, he took the initiative, surprising Jing Baiyuan. "Little Li..."

    Chu Li wrapped his arms around Jing's neck, leaning into his embrace. He whispered, "Are you going?"

    Jing's gaze returned to the public summons, and he said softly, "He's forcing me to take a stance. If I don't go, the entire world will know that I've severed ties with Bluemark Star. Then, we'll be isolated."

    Moreover, he had used the pretense of his 'father's' funeral. If Jing Baiyuan refused, he would be perceived as an unfilial son who wouldn't attend his own father's burial... Outsiders were unaware of their intricate relationship. The emperor had already publicly acknowledged Jing's identity. Refusal would be seen as ungrateful.

    Jing Baiyuan took a deep breath. Even so, he couldn't return.

    For if he did, he would be walking into a trap.

    Yet, if he didn't go...

    Chu Li whispered softly, "Are you worried about your mother?"

    Jing Baiyuan turned his head, noticing that Chu Li's gaze was fixed upon him. He paused slightly and nodded in acknowledgment.

    Yes, Bai Xian was still in his hands.

    Although Lancelot was counting on Bai Xian to reveal the experimental data, who knew what he might do if it came to a desperate showdown?

    Author's Note:

    Spread the word, some people prefer to lie still rather than take action themselves (?).

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