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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 73

    "Liáo Wényán."

    .

    "Present!"

    "Step forward!"

    "..."

    "The next one, Wu Ru."

    "..."

    Within just an hour, all ten of them were sprawled on the ground. Jing Baiyuan's approach was not about speed, but sheer brutality. After the beating, Liao Wenyan felt as if he had been pummeled unilaterally by a general, aches and pains coursing through his entire body, leaving him unable to even crawl.

    Looking around, he noticed that his comrades weren't in any better shape – they were all in similar conditions.

    Wu Ru revealed a bitter smile.

    If he had known better, he wouldn't have provoked this. Now, he had received two beatings for nothing.

    Jing Baiyuan stood by the side, his body drenched in sweat. He had already taken off his upper garments, revealing his well-defined and muscular physique to all. His abdominal and pectoral muscles flowed smoothly, exuding strength. Even his biceps bulged, testament to the explosive power of his body.

    He walked over to the table and casually picked up a towel to wipe himself, his gaze cold as he looked down at the person on the ground. "Are you satisfied now?"

    Liao Wenyan: "..."

    How could he dare say he wasn't?

    Jing Baiyuan's military boots stepped firmly on the ground beside him, his posture straight and proud. Looking down at the immobile soldier beneath his feet, his anger only grew stronger. With a somber expression, he asked Liao Wenyan, "Did the Expeditionary Force recruit you and teach you to bully the weak? To use your strengths against others' weaknesses?"

    Liao Wenyan: "..."

    In his heart, he whispered that it wasn't they who wanted to compete but Chu Li who had suggested it.

    But he also knew that he had deliberately provoked Chu Li with those words, hoping to intimidate him into leaving. With such provocations, Chu Li would naturally retaliate, making the competition seem like Chu Li's initiative, though it was inevitable.

    Seeing that he didn't respond, Jing Baiyuan asked again, "Or is it that the expeditionary force taught you to gang up on the weak? If one can't defeat the opponent, then two or three should go together?"

    Liao Wenyan: "..."

    He was innocent! This was really Chu Li's own request!

    With no way to defend himself, Liao Wenyan could only turn to Chu Li with a pleading look, but saw him standing by with a smile, clearly enjoying the spectacle.

    "..." Alright then, they deserved it for provoking Chu Li in the first place.

    Liao Wenyan closed his eyes completely. "General, punish us!"

    "Punish you?" Jing Baiyuan sneered. "You're under Chu Li's command. If there's to be punishment, you should ask him for it."

    After saying that, he walked towards Chu Li and lifted the person sitting in the chair without a word.

    Despite just having fought so many people, there was no sign of fatigue in his body. His arms remained steady as he held Chu Li. However, his body temperature seemed higher than usual, the scorching heat seeping through his chest and into Chu Li's clothes.

    Chu Li keenly sensed that Jing Baiyuan was in a foul mood.

    Indeed, since Augustus's funeral, Jing Baiyuan had been relentlessly busy. Fresh from the battlefield, he now had to confront such an unsettling situation, making it impossible for him to be in high spirits.

    He submitted to being lifted by Jing Baiyuan and nestled on his shoulder, softly asking, "Why are you back?"

    Jing Baiyuan replied in a gentle tone, "I had some matters to attend to, so I returned... And I wanted to come back and see you."

    Their intimate display before everyone left Liao Wenyan utterly astonished. This was their General! This was the very same General who had just ruthlessly beaten him up!

    Completely ignoring the astonishment of Liao Wenyan and the others, Jing Baiyuan carried Chu Li away.

    Ya Lan stayed in the room without moving. Looking at the sprawled figures on the ground, she made a slitting-the-throat gesture towards them and said, "You're doomed."

    Invited, they've realized their mistakes now. If they kneel and beg for mercy, will it still work?

    Outside, Jing Baiyuan carried Chu Li far away before he asked, "How do you plan to punish them?"

    Seeing his solemn expression, Chu Li chuckled and leaned against him, saying, "Didn't you already punish them?"

    They had been beaten quite severely just now.

    Jing Baiyuanting frowned. "How about we just replace them?"

    "No need," Chu Li replied. "Didn't I say they're my team members? Leave it to me, you don't have to worry."

    Jing Baiyuanting studied him and noticed the ease on his face, indicating that he was not upset by the previous incident. He nodded. "Alright, I'll leave it to you."

    By the time they arrived at Jing Baiyuanting's command room, the latter carried Chu Li into the adjacent lounge and gently placed him on the sofa before burying his face in Chu Li's lap.

    He started off crouching on the ground but eventually knelt in front of Chu Li, his face nestled against the omega's waist. The alpha, who had just fiercely beaten up others, appeared to have lost all his strength, relying on Chu Li for support to prevent himself from collapsing onto the floor.

    Confused by the embrace, Chu Li instinctively stroked Jing Baiyuanting's fluffy hair.

    What's wrong with this big cat? He seems very upset.

    Softly, he asked what was going on, but Jing Baiyuanting merely shook his head without lifting it. "It's okay, just let me hold you for a bit."

    Chu Li sighed and caressed his hair.

    The loss of Bai Xian must have been a huge blow to him, yet there was no time for him to recover before rushing to the frontlines, hastily engaging in battle... The more Chu Li thought about it, the more his heart ached. Leaning forward, he hugged Jing Baiyuanting tightly.

    After a moment, Jing Baiyuanting lifted his head. Still on his knees before Chu Li, he looked up at him as if he were a deity. He stretched out his hand, and Chu Li, understanding the gesture, leaned forward, allowing him to touch his face.

    In a soft voice, Jing Baiyuanting said, "Blue Stripe Star wants to negotiate with us. They've invited the Galactic Court. This negotiation must take place, scheduled for three days from now. I won't be going, but I want you to represent me."

    Chu Li was taken aback. "Me? But I don't know how to negotiate."

    Jing Baiyuanting replied, "That's alright. You just need to represent me. I'll have Ya Lan and Feng Yichen accompany you. If anything comes up, they will handle it."

    He only needed someone with sufficient status to make an appearance. The actual work would be done by Ya Lan and Feng Yichen.

    This person was originally supposed to be him, but he had more important matters at hand. After much contemplation, he could only entrust it to Chu Li.

    Because Chu Li was his "family," stepping out of the Expeditionary Force, he could fully represent him from another perspective.

    Chu Li took a deep breath and said, "Alright, if it's your arrangement, then I'll go... What do they want to negotiate with you?"

    At the mention of this, Jing Baiyuanting's eyes flashed, and the aura of menace seeped out from him again. "They want to peacefully resolve this matter."

    "Peaceful resolution?" Chu Li found the four words hard to comprehend. "How do they plan to peacefully resolve it?"

    "I'm not certain... But if the Intergalactic Court doesn't acknowledge me, Luguang would turn into a rebel group similar to space pirates. I want to sever ties with the Empire, but I don't wish to become a rebel faction. Their aim is to resolve this peacefully, and my purpose in attending the negotiation is... to establish a nation."

    Chu Li was not well-versed in these matters. Since Jing Baiyuan said so, he obediently nodded his head.

    Jing Baiyuan continued, "When the Interstellar Court was first established, a constitution was enacted stating that if both the Alliance and the Empire recognized an organization's independence, it would be included in the Interstellar Court, becoming an independent nation or territory. However, this condition had never been met in all these years."

    Neither the Alliance nor the Empire is foolish enough to arbitrarily endorse the independence of a region, which is why all the newly discovered planets over the years have been forcefully incorporated into the territories of the two nations.

    Now, Jing Baiyuan had a rare opportunity. The Alliance, who wished nothing more than to see the Empire fracture, would undoubtedly approve. Conversely, Lancelot, unwilling to lose Lu Gang, would certainly veto the proposal.

    "Would the Alliance consent? And what about the Empire?" Chu Li inquired.

    Jing Baiyuan's gaze grew even colder. "If you disagree, I'll fight until you do."

    All his efforts couldn't be in vain; the outcome of his endeavor would depend on this negotiation.

    As Jing Baiyuan's words faded, Chu Li also felt the mounting pressure. He took a deep breath and nodded, "Alright."

    As an accomplished translator of both Chinese and English literature, specializing in the delicate realm of danmei novels, I endeavor to convey not only the words but also the nuanced emotions and aesthetic particular to this genre. Please provide the text you wish me to translate, and I shall endeavor to render it elegantly and faithfully into English, preserving the essence of its danmei elements.

    Before the negotiations began, both sides ceased hostilities, granting Jing Baiyuan Yuanting a three-day respite.

    Three days later, he would depart the warship alongside Chu Li for the negotiation site, the Mu jiji planet.

    That very evening, Jing Baiyuan Yuanting and Chu Li went to the public cafeteria on the warship. Unluckily, they crossed paths with Liao Wenyan and his group.

    There was no trace of Liao Wenyan's former arrogance when he first met Chu Li. Upon seeing Jing Baiyuan Yuanting and Chu Li approaching, he leaned against the wall, not daring to lift his head.

    On the other hand, when Chu Li walked up to him, he greeted Liao Wenyan with a smile, "Here for dinner?"

    Liao Wenyan could hardly believe his ears. Was Chu Li talking to him?

    Inside the cafeteria, they found all the tables occupied except for a long table with a few empty seats. Naturally, Jing Baiyuan Yuanting led Chu Li to sit at one end of the long table. A while later, after getting their food, Liao Wenyan and his companions approached hesitantly, as there were no other available spots, but they dared not sit next to Jing Baiyuan Yuanting.

    It was Chu Li who noticed them, smiled, and invited them warmly, "Come, sit here."

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting, focused on serving Chu Li food beside him, didn't even lift his head.

    Holding his bowl of rice, Liao Wenyan felt even more awkward.

    But there truly was no other choice, so they sat down opposite Chu Li.

    Jing Baiyuanting's tray included fish. After meticulously removing the bones, he transferred it to a small plate and presented it to Chu Li. However, Chu Li didn't eat it himself. Occasionally, he would pick up a piece or two and feed it to Jing Baiyuanting, who would then lower his head to eat it.

    Opposite them, Liao Wenyan thought, "..."

    He felt that both he and his companion were utterly superfluous.

    How could he have ever believed that General Jing wouldn't seek out an Omega? Look at how they were now... Why had he treated Chu Li in that manner previously?

    Liao Wenyan was overwhelmed with regret, but it was too late to apologize to Chu Li. All he could do was force himself to eat in silence, then quickly escape.

    ---

    After the meal, Jing Baiyuan took care of arranging accommodations for Chu Li.

    As a military doctor on the warship, Chu Li naturally had a dormitory assigned to him. However, due to his gender, the ship's authorities had provided him with a separate room.

    However, Jing Baiyuan Yuanting didn't want him to leave and pulled him back into his lounge.

    The lounge bed was single-sized, so Jing Baiyuan Yuanting asked Ya Lan to bring in another one. The two beds were placed side by side, barely forming a makeshift double bed.

    As they moved the second bed in, Chu Li stood at the door, unable to resist blushing. Jing Baiyuan Yuanting always made such a grand show, leaving no one in the dark about their relationship.

    After nightfall, Jing Baiyuan went to the command room for a video conference, leaving Chu Li alone in the room.

    With some rare leisure time, Chu Li turned on his personal terminal, planning to browse casually. Unintentionally, he tapped on his own profile, discovering several messages that had been received quite a while ago.

    They were from his old classmates at the Comprehensive Academy, including the trio who had been his roommates and his former deskmate, Yuan Tan.

    Most of them expressed concern, asking where he had gone.

    When he had left Blue Stripe Star back then, these people had sent him messages, but he hadn't replied. Now that Deerport was about to engage in a war with Blue Stripe Star, they had sent more messages.

    Chu Li pondered for a moment and decided to create a group chat with the four of them.

    Then, he typed in the group, "I'm fine. Don't worry about me."

    A minute later, the group chat buzzed with activity.

    "Yuan Tan: !!! Li!"

    "Aesthetics Major Hunk: Li? Who's Li?"

    "Maintenance Guru: It really is Li... Oh my god... Are you alright?"

    "Laboratory Genius: ?"

    "Yuan Tan: ? Why do your references seem different from mine?"

    "He Wu: It's me. I'm fine, don't worry."

    "He Wu: @Yuan Tan, these other three were my former roommates. This is Ning Yue @Aesthetics Major Hunk, this is Xu Dongfeng @Maintenance Guru, and @Laboratory Genius... this must be Lin Chengming, right?"

    "Laboratory Genius: That's me."

    "Yuan Tan: !!! It really is you! I've been so worried about you since you left college... but I didn't dare send too many messages. It's fantastic that you replied!"

    He didn't inquire about Chu Li's whereabouts, knowing that Chu Li had certainly gone to find Jing Baiyuan after leaving school.

    Jing Baiyuan's current status was special, and Chu Li wouldn't be able to answer too many questions.

    "Mechanic Master: Didn't expect to receive news from you again. How are you doing? Hmm... I wonder if we'll have the chance to meet in the future."

    This question was rather difficult to answer. Chu Li hesitated for a moment, planning to reply, but saw Lin Chengming respond to Xu Dongfeng before him.

    "Laboratory Genius: Asking such trashy questions. Of course, I'm doing fine. If I wasn't, how could I send you a message? Stop worrying about nonsense. Have you finished your homework? Hurry up and do it."

    Scolded by Lin Chengming, Xu Dongfeng grumbled a bit in the group chat before falling silent.

    After a while, Lin Chengming sent Chu Li a private message: "Old Xu doesn't know how to phrase his words. He's just worried about you and doesn't know what he can or cannot ask. But I know you're doing great now; otherwise, you wouldn't have contacted us... Anyway, just take good care of yourself."

    Chu Li's relationship with them could be likened to a fleeting encounter. He hadn't expected that, after so many years, they would still think of him.

    With a smile, he replied, "I understand. It's alright."

    Negotiations with the Empire were about to begin anyway. If successful, perhaps there might be a chance for them to catch up over a meal in the future.

    Lin Chengming, however, knew how to draw the line and didn't ask Chu Li any unnecessary questions. Instead, he mentioned something: "Oh, do you still remember your younger brother?"

    Chu Li was taken aback. Chu Heyang?

    It had been so long since that name appeared in his life that he had almost forgotten about it.

    He typed, "Yes, I do. What happened to him?"

    Lin Chengming replied, "Didn't he find an Alpha before? He said that the Alpha was wealthy and influential, treating him very well. But they've been together for nearly two years, and the Alpha hasn't proposed... Since they've already undergone permanent bonding, Chu Heyang has started to get anxious. Probably because he's been nagging too much, the Alpha took a two-month leave from school recently. When he returned, his gland mark was gone."

    "Ahh..." Chu Li let out a short gasp from his personal terminal.

    Removing the gland mark was the outcome he had planned for himself, but he never expected Chu Heyang to experience it first.

    "But weren't they getting along well? Why would he remove the mark?"

    Lin Chengming said, "What 'getting along well'? Don't believe his lies. How could they be in a great relationship if they haven't married after being permanently bonded for two years? Omegas and Betas are different; there's no effective contraception during heat periods! Last year, he... Never mind, let's not talk about that. Anyway, they've broken up now. Seeing his miserable state, I guess he regrets his past choices."

    "I told you about this because there's a rumor going around school that the Alpha Chu Heyang was with is actually connected to the royal family... Before he took a leave, someone saw him being forcefully dragged into a car with the royal emblem on it. It seemed like he didn't want to break up or remove the mark, probably under coercion... Yeah, I just thought I should tell you about it. Nothing more."

    Chu Li was slightly taken aback before suddenly understanding Lin Chengming's intentions.

    In the interstellar era, controlling public opinion was crucial. By telling Chu Li about this matter, Lin Chengming was actually helping him.

    "Thank you," Chu Li replied to Lin Chengming.

    However, Lin Chengming pretended to be clueless. "What… I was just chatting with you about some gossip. Why are you thanking me?"

    Chu Li smiled warmly and didn't pursue the topic further.

    Just then, Jing Bai Yuanting returned. He probably had just finished washing up, as he still carried a hint of warmth and steam. Seeing the smile on Chu Li's face, he asked softly, "What has made you so happy?"

    Chu Li looked up and smiled. "Nothing much, an old friend of mine sent me a message, asking about my situation."

    Upon hearing this, Jing Baiyuanting walked over to Chu Li, sat down beside him, and wrapped his arms around him. He whispered, "If the negotiation goes well, we'll be able to return openly this time next year."

    Chu Li said goodbye to Lin Chengming and the others through his personal terminal, then turned off the device, giving Jing Baiyuanting a peck on the chin. "It doesn't matter, don't worry about such things. It's fine if I don't go back."

    With that, he threw back the covers, jumped out of bed, and headed for the bathroom to freshen up.

    In the evening, with the lights turned off, Jing Baiyuan Yuanting lay still, while Chu Li couldn't fall asleep. He decided to move closer and rest his chin on Jing's shoulder, resembling a devoted little puppy. He whispered softly, "Are you asleep?"

    There was a moment of silence before Jing Baiyuan Yuanting replied, "Not yet."

    The temperature in this area was quite low, and the climate control system on the warship was inferior to that on land. To keep warm, they slept with separate blankets. Chu Li rubbed against his own blanket for a while before suddenly lifting its corner and slipping into Jing Baiyuan Yuanting's.

    The air outside was chilly, and after being exposed for just a short while, Chu Li trembled from the cold. After burrowing under Jing's blanket, he embraced him tightly, pressing his entire body against Jing's.

    As usual, the Alpha's body was warm, and when Chu Li's slightly cool skin touched him, it felt almost scorching.

    He sighed contentedly and said, "This is much better."

    Jing Baiyuan Yuanting felt helpless. He had separated from Chu Li out of concern for disturbing his rest, and since the bed was formed by two single beds pushed together, the middle couldn't support any weight.

    Yet, Chu Li still managed to squeeze over.

    What was the difference between this and sleeping on a single bed with two people?

    But now that Chu Li was here, Jing couldn't ask him to leave. So, he leaned towards the wall, turning onto his side with his back against it. He pulled Chu Li into his embrace and whispered, "Why did you come over? Isn't it crowded?"

    Chu Li shifted comfortably, saying, "It's not crowded. I'm coming over to comfort you. Come on, pet me. I'll be your little kitten today, here to heal your emotions!"

    Jing Baiyuan was speechless.

    He felt helpless and amused by Chu Li's straightforward yet innocent words. He reached out to pat his head, pulling him closer into his embrace, and whispered, "I'm not upset."

    "I know," Chu Li replied, pressing closely against him, their legs entwined. He continued in a low voice, "It's me who wants to comfort you. I want to do it myself, okay?"

    Jing Baiyuan: "..."

    Alright then.

    Silent, he lowered his head and held the person in his arms more tightly.

    ---

    The next morning, Chu Li was awakened early. Half-asleep, he opened his eyes to find Jing Baiyuan already fully dressed.

    The man stood by the bed, leaning over and saying, "I'm going for space training. Are you coming with me?"

    Chu Li's sleep-fogged eyes instantly widened. "Space!"

    Jing Baiyuan smiled. "Yes, space. Are you coming?"

    "Coming, coming, wait for me." Chu Li struggled to sit up, but as soon as his arm reached beyond the covers, the cold air outside startled him, and he quickly pulled it back in.

    The amusement in Jing Baiyuan's eyes deepened. He turned to fetch Chu Li's clothes, half supporting and half coaxing him as he dressed him, then led him towards the dining hall.

    Though Chu Li thought it was early, for the soldiers of the Expeditionary Force, it was already late. There weren't many people in the mess hall, and it was quiet.

    Upon their appearance, the cook, with his loud voice, called out to them, "General, you're here! We have ten meat dishes today, come quick!"

    His cry drew everyone's attention to the entrance.

    As expected, they saw the Omega standing next to the General.

    Hearing that the General had a partner was one thing, but seeing it with their own eyes was entirely different.

    The usually calm and ruthless General was now holding the Omega's hand, gently asking, "What would you like to eat?"

    Chu Li shook his head. "I don't know. Let's go take a look."

    He then led him by the hand to the food service counter.

    Accompanying him, he looked through each station without any sign of impatience.

    The others: "…."

    They felt slightly overwhelmed.

    ---

    After finishing their meal, Ya Lan entered from outside and said, "The tandem battleship is ready, Admiral. Are we heading there now?"

    Jing Baiyuan nodded and led Chu Li down to the lower level.

    This battleship carrier was enormous, with five levels above ground and three below.

    The launch deck for mechas was on the lower level. When Chu Li arrived, he realized that the ceiling seemed taller here than in other areas, probably measuring around two meters.

    After passing through an iris recognition door, Chu Li finally caught sight of the warehouse. Silver-white mechas were parked neatly on the ground, creating an illusion of futuristic collision. Chu Li blinked and walked up to one of the towering mechas, asking, "How do I get on this thing?"

    Jing Baiyuanting, standing behind him, seemed to have triggered something as a panel on the mecha's chest suddenly opened, revealing a small ladder extending outwards.

    Jing Baiyuanting said, "Come on, I'll help you up."

    Chu Li panicked instantly, "I don't know how!"

    But Jing Baiyuanting merely smiled gently, "It's alright, it's just sitting down."

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