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    Chapter 77

    077

    Location Marker

    Chu Li was pulled into the house by Admiral Jing Baiyuan.

    The house didn't seem to be newly built, but only recently redecorated. Perhaps learning from Chu Li's previous dissatisfaction with the interior design, Jing Baiyuan had filled the entire house this time, carefully selecting items that were similar to those they had once used together. The result was a somewhat peculiar yet strangely familiar mix.

    Chu Li wandered through the living room and noticed that Jing Baiyuan had thought everything through, even providing a projector.

    Jing Baiyuan explained, "This house has three floors. The first floor is for the living room and kitchen, the second floor has a study and bedrooms... Would you like to take a look upstairs?"

    Chu Li nodded, and they ascended the stairs together. The second floor was also familiar, as Jing Baiyuan had chosen replicas of their old belongings, giving Chu Li an illusion that this was indeed their home.

    When they reached the master bedroom, Jing Baiyuan suddenly said, "I just remembered I left something on the third floor. Take your time looking around, I'll come back to find you in a bit."

    "Okay." Chu Li didn't mind and casually agreed with a nod.

    Jing BaiyuanYuanting turned and left. Chu Li stayed in the bedroom for a while, but Jing BaiyuanYuanting still didn't come down. After some thought, he headed upstairs to the third floor.

    The third floor was eerily quiet, as if no one was there. Chu Li ascended the stairs and called out Jing BaiyuanYuanting's name, but there was no response. He had no choice but to continue walking deeper inside.

    It seemed that the third floor was still under construction; two open rooms were completely empty. Chu Li thought this place could be converted into a secret hideout for Little Key... Just as he was contemplating this, he arrived at the entrance of the third room. Before entering, he noticed a bright red petal lying on the ground.

    Hmm?

    Surprised, he crouched down to pick it up.

    An empty house wouldn't have such a vivid petal. It must have been prepared by Jing BaiyuanYuanting.

    This man rarely indulged in romance; perhaps he was planning a surprise for him. However, Chu Li had unintentionally ruined it. As he hesitated whether to go downstairs and pretend he hadn't come, Jing BaiyuanYuanting's voice echoed from within the room, "Little Li? Come in..."

    There was something odd about his tone, so Chu Li pushed the door open out of curiosity.

    Sure enough, the room had been redecorated. Red roses bloomed in every corner, momentarily blinding Chu Li. Amidst this vibrant sea of red, Jing BaiyuanYuanting stood... struggling with a bunch of helium balloons.

    Chu Li: ?

    Jing Baiyuan's face flushed with embarrassment, but his hand stubbornly refused to let go of the bundle of strings attached to the hydrogen balloons.

    "How..." Chu Li noticed something unusual. There seemed to be a small box entangled among the strings.

    Finally giving up, Jing Baiyuan opened his palm, revealing the tiny box. It was so small that it could be covered by two hands, a size that... could only accommodate a single ring.

    Chu Li blinked in surprise.

    But Jing Baiyuan explained, "There was an accident, and it got stuck there. I can't remove it."

    This man's hands had operated mechs and held guns, but they were inexperienced when it came to dealing with such delicate objects. He had intended to give his partner a perfect proposal, but unexpectedly... an unforeseen incident occurred.

    With no choice, Jing Baiyuan mustered his courage and asked, "Can you help me?"

    Understanding the situation fully, Chu Li chuckled. Before the Alpha became too embarrassed or annoyed, he walked over, took the small box from Jing Baiyuan's hand, and said, "Let me see."

    He bent down to untangle the strings, which at first appeared to be a loosely tied knot. However, due to someone's increasing anxiety, the lines became more entangled.

    It was indeed a frustrating task, but this time, Chu Li showed no impatience. His agile fingers danced skillfully between the threads, patiently extracting each string one by one.

    Encountering a particularly stubborn knot, he untied it with unhurried grace.

    Jing Baiyuan stood by, feeling as if he were being roasted on a fire.

    It was too awkward.

    Unable to bear it any longer, Jing Baiyuan offered, "Wait a moment, I'll go get some scissors..."

    "No need," Chu Li refused. He felt like he was unwrapping a precious gift with intricate packaging. Since it was a valuable gift, the elaborate wrapping was acceptable, and even made him more eager to discover what was inside as he patiently untangled the ribbon.

    Jing Baiyuan could only suppress his impatience, standing beside Chu Li. When Chu Li encountered a difficult spot, he leaned back slightly, and Jing Baiyuan instinctively stepped forward, offering his chest for Chu Li to rest against.

    After a while, Chu Li finally managed to untie the last knot. It had been tied so tightly! No wonder Jing Baiyuan had struggled for so long. Holding the small box in his hands, Chu Li teased, "Why did you tie so many knots on top?"

    Jing Baiyuan touched his nose and whispered, "I was afraid it would fall off."

    Chu Li chuckled. "How silly!"

    He removed the strings from the box but hesitated to open it, instead holding the box close against Jing Baiyuan's body. "Open it with me."

    "But..." This was meant for Chu Li.

    Would they open it together?

    In front of Chu Li, Jing Baiyuan had never been one to stick to principles. With minimal persuasion, he agreed to the proposal.

    However, he refused to open the box with his own hands. Instead, he placed his hand over Chu Li's, holding it and using Chu Li's hand to do the job. Not only were they different in build, Jing Baiyuan's hands were larger and rougher than Chu Li's.

    He enveloped Chu Li's hand completely in his palm, and together, they attempted to open the box.

    Suddenly, Chu Li felt a surge of nervousness, beads of sweat forming on his forehead.

    He could hear his own heartbeat thumping loudly. Chu Li froze for a moment, sensing an unusual rhythm in his pulse. Glancing back, he saw that the Alpha behind him appeared calm, showing no signs of tension.

    Chu Li reached out and touched Jing Baiyuan's chest. To his surprise, the Alpha's heart was pounding even more fiercely.

    What a good actor! He almost fell for it...

    Chu Li remained pressed against Jing Baiyuan's chest, unwilling to move.

    Jing Baiyuan, despite his initial tension, couldn't help but curve his lips at the sight of Chu Li's reaction. That smile instantly diffused the tense atmosphere.

    Indeed, what was there to be nervous about? They had long been together, each holding an irreplaceable position in the other's heart. Now, they were merely giving their relationship a conventional label. What was there to be anxious about?

    Jing Baiyuan's resolve strengthened. He held Chu Li's hand and placed it on the mechanism to open the box.

    "We'll do this together."

    "Alright."

    With synchronized effort, they opened the small box, revealing a ring inside. Its plain white surface was simple yet elegant, reflecting Jing Baiyuan's characteristic style – straightforward yet sincere.

    Chu Li smiled, anticipating Jing Baiyuan to retrieve the ring.

    Leaning against Jing Baiyuan's embrace, he was securely encircled, feeling the vibrations of the man's chest as he spoke with sincerity and solemnity, "Little Li, would you marry me?"

    These simple words carried genuine intent and gravity, reminding Chu Li of their first encounter after Jing Baiyuan regained his human form. Back then, they were strangers, unsure how to approach one another. Chu Li had even put up a cold front, wishing to vanish from Jing Baiyuan's presence immediately.

    Jing Baiyuan, not one for articulate expressions, still made an effort to convey his thoughts clearly. Chu Li was touched by his sincerity and, unable to bear parting with the little cat, decided to give him a chance.

    At that time, it was merely an attempt to explore.

    Never expected that this attempt would lead us to where we are now.

    Feelings deepen over time, perhaps not as fiercely as they first began, but they mature into a richer, more profound connection.

    Deciding to marry Jing Baiyuan, Chu Li felt that it was a natural progression, without any sense of reluctance.

    He looked forward to stepping into a new life alongside Jing Baiyuan.

    He also believed that the other party, just like him, eagerly anticipated a future with each other.

    "I would be more than willing, it's an honor."

    That was his response.

    Jing Baiyuan gently took his hand and slid the ring onto his finger.

    Then Chu Li turned around and gently kissed the corner of Jing Baiyuan's lips on his tiptoes.

    Jing Baiyuan lowered his head, supporting the back of Chu Li's neck, deepening the kiss.

    ---

    News of their impending marriage soon spread throughout the entire Qian Yun Alliance.

    It was the first major celebration since Qian Yun gained independence, and according to the original Planet Leader's suggestion, it was to be celebrated alongside the founding ceremony with great fanfare.

    However, neither Chu Li nor Jing Baiyuan had extravagant personalities; they didn't wish to make a grand spectacle out of their personal affairs. Moreover, holding the wedding ceremony concurrently with the founding ceremony would mean a live broadcast across the universe... Well, Chu Li wasn't too keen on being in the spotlight.

    Chu Li saw himself as an ordinary person, and he had no intention of attaching labels to himself. He simply wanted to live his life peacefully.

    He had discussed this matter with Jing Baiyuan before, who said that if he didn't want to do it, then they didn't have to. Qian Yun Star already had him, Ya Lan, and many others; there was no need for Chu Li to necessarily be part of the picture.

    With his partner understanding him, Chu Li finally let go of his last bit of concern. He decided against combining their engagement with the founding ceremony. In the future, people might eventually learn about their relationship, but for now, Chu Li felt that his engagement to Jing Baiyuan wasn't about becoming some sort of First Lady; it was simply about being with the person he loved.

    Despite this, news still spread swiftly, and congratulatory messages started pouring in from various individuals, including some high-ranking officials within the alliance.

    Huai Wei was so enthusiastic that he even called personally, requesting to congratulate Jing Baiyuan in person.

    Refusing such an offer would be impolite and could potentially escalate into a diplomatic incident. Though Jing Baiyuan was reluctant, he still answered the call. Huai Wei remained his casual self, seemingly on some warship as he greeted Chu Li with a grin, "My little beauty, it's been ages. I didn't expect our next meeting to be you belonging to someone else."

    Jing Baiyuan wasn't one to engage in verbal sparring, but Chu Li was different. He replied with a smile, "Wasn't I always someone else's?"

    Huai Wei's heart skipped a beat, pained by the words. "If only I knew, I should have taken you away the day we met on the spaceship!"

    Chu Li raised an eyebrow. "But you're still too late."

    On the day he crossed over, he was marked by Jing Baiyuan.

    Huai Wei was taken aback but quickly followed up with curiosity, "So, how did you two actually meet?"

    One resides in Lu Gang, the other on Lan Wen Star; one is an Imperial Admiral, the other merely an ordinary student... How could their paths possibly converge?

    Chu Li didn't answer his question directly, simply saying, "Guess."

    Huai Wei raised an eyebrow in response, not bothering to speak anymore.

    At that moment, Jing Baiyuan Yuan Ting patted Chu Li's back and said, "Alright, we need to discuss serious matters now."

    Only then did Chu Li step away.

    He carried a book to the other side of the study to read, listening as Jing Baiyuan began discussing the deployment of troops across several planets. It sounded... as if the Alliance was planning to conduct business with Qian Yun.

    As Chu Li listened, he became confused, finding it too complicated to understand. So, he simply left with his book in hand.

    Upon Chu Li's departure, Huai Wei commented, "How peculiar. You don't even hide your discussions from him, yet he has no interest in what you're talking about. He just leaves whenever he wants."

    Jing Baiyuan glanced at him nonchalantly. "There's nothing strange here; it's just that someone like you wouldn't comprehend it."

    "Huh, you..." Huai Wei's eyes widened immediately. "Can't you be less arrogant? It's not like you're the only one in the world with a partner!"

    He had people who loved him too, alright?

    Jing Baiyuan paid no attention to his outburst and resumed speaking about what he had previously left unfinished.

    In a dimly lit room, clutter was scattered about. Against one wall stood a bed, its covers raised in a mound, indicating someone was beneath them.

    The curtains were drawn, but a sliver of sunlight managed to seep through a gap, casting a beam directly onto the occupant's face.

    The person under the covers shifted restlessly, revealing a delicate face with fair skin and exquisite features. She appeared young, no more than twenty years old.

    With a creak, the door opened, and a figure slipped inside, quietly closing it behind them before exhaling in relief.

    Approaching the bed, the intruder pulled back the covers for a quick glance, reassured to find the girl still there. Satisfied, they sat on a stool at the bedside, lost in thought.

    After roughly ten minutes, the girl stirred, opening her eyes in confusion and wrapping herself in the blankets as she sat up. Seeing the person at her bedside, her eyes lit up. "Teacher..."

    "It's me, Xian Xian, do you recognize me?" The person at the foot of the bed was none other than Wen Renjian, who had been missing from Blue Pattern Star for quite some time.

    Wen Renjian lived under Lancelot's watchful eye, and the research lab at the Comprehensive Academy had been established to appease him. Yet fate had a twist, as one of the students he casually recruited turned out to be Bai Xian's son's lover.

    Tensions between the Expeditionary Force and Blue Pattern Star were escalating, and Wen Renjian sensed the shift. Before Lancelot could act against him, he transferred vital information and went into hiding.

    Eventually, the Expeditionary Force severed all ties with Blue Pattern Star. Fortunately, Chu Li was astute enough to leave Blue Pattern Star before everything came to a head.

    He handed the information to Chu Li but was also worried that it might endanger Chu Li. When he learned that Chu Li had appeared in Luguang, he felt relieved and began doing something he had always wanted to do – rescue his student Bai Xian from the palace.

    Compared to Jing Baiyuan in distant Luguang, he had some advantages. After all, he had close friends on Blue Stripe Star after so many years.

    For this purpose, he had carefully planned for a long time and planted numerous secret informants within the palace.

    After lying in ambush outside the palace for over a month, he finally made contact with Bai Xian. However, her condition fluctuated; she was controlled by Lancelot's drugs and often forgot who she was.

    Risking it all, he conveyed the plan to Bai Xian, hoping she could find an opportunity to "accidentally fake her death." Bai Xian, true to form, promptly forgot their plan... Fortunately, on the day of Augustus' funeral, when she saw an aerial drone, she suddenly remembered her son Jing Baiyuan and jumped off the high platform.

    Though the plan went awry, they managed to escape unscathed. He managed to bring Bai Xian out.

    But Bai Xian was injured, and he couldn't take her to a regular hospital for treatment. They fled while nursing her wounds, which dragged on until now.

    Recently, Bai Xian's injuries had healed, but he didn't know where to take her. Lancelot wouldn't let them go. If they were caught again, his gentle facade might be torn apart, and he would likely force them to make drugs for him.

    Yesterday, while he was out buying supplies, he heard that the Qian Yun Alliance had declared independence! And its leader was Bai Xian's son, Jing Baiyuan! Overjoyed, he thought that he and his pitiful student finally had a place to go.

    But how could they reach the Qian Yun Alliance? The empire was enforcing strict surveillance. Going out carelessly would likely lead to capture.

    If Bai Xian could regain his senses and cooperate with him, that would be ideal.

    "Wanyan, do you know... who you are?"

    Bai Xian replied blankly, "Teacher... I'm Bai Xian."

    As she finished speaking, her expression suddenly shifted, and she froze in place.

    Wen Renjian watched from the side, witnessing her piece together the memories of the past years, bit by bit.

    After an interminable while, Bai Xian's gaze gradually returned to normal, but the innocent radiance from before was gone. It had been replaced by a profound and sorrowful melancholy.

    For over two decades, she had lived in a daze. Upon waking up, she found herself without a husband, and her son was distant, practically a world away.

    Bai Xian lowered his head, burying his face deeply in his hands.

    Wen Renjian remained silent, only speaking up when Bai Xian had calmed down. He whispered gently, "Don't dwell on it... Everything is in the past now."

    As an accomplished translator of both Chinese and English literature, specializing in the realm of danmei novels, I strive to convey the intricate nuances and subtleties inherent in this genre. Please provide me with the text you wish to have translated, and I will ensure its elegant and faithful rendering into English, preserving the myriad elements characteristic of danmei fiction.

    Despite their intention to avoid coinciding with the grand opening ceremony, the miscellaneous tasks they had to attend to were enough to keep both of them occupied.

    As the appointed day drew closer, Chu Li finally found himself without any chaotic arrangements one morning. He planned to catch up on sleep at home. However, just as dawn broke, his phone rang, forcing him to struggle out of bed to answer it. On the other end, Ya Lan's anxious voice echoed, "Why haven't you arrived yet?"

    Confused, Chu Li replied, "Where should I be going?"

    "Goodness..." Ya Lan laughed in exasperation. "Are you really forgetful or just joking around? Today is your engagement party!"

    "Ahh!" Chu Li sat bolt upright in bed, sending the small key that had been cuddling with him flying. "Engagement party, right! The engagement party!"

    No wonder he had no tasks today – there was a significant event that had pushed everything else aside!

    In a hurry to get ready, Chu Li didn't forget to inquire about Jing Baiyuan and Bai Yuanting's whereabouts. Ya Lan sounded helpless over the phone. "Of course, the Marshal is at the base... Hurry up and come over!"

    Since Chu Li didn't want a grand celebration, after discussing with the others, they decided to hold the banquet at the base. That way, everyone from the Expeditionary Force could attend without having to travel too far.

    Rushing downstairs, he indeed found Hong Feng waiting for him in the car by the roadside. Seeing him, Hong Feng shook his head in resignation. "I told you before, just send someone over; the base can handle anything. Yet, here we are, on the day of the party, and even that one person is late."

    "Cough...cough..." Blushing, Chu Li coughed to signal for Hong Feng to stop.

    Hong Feng looked at him helplessly.

    He drove off, and after twenty minutes, they finally arrived at the base of the Expeditionary Force.

    A group of people were already waiting at the entrance, surrounding Chu Li like stars around the moon as they led him in.

    After that, Chu Li became somewhat confused. First, he was taken to change his clothes, and Ya Lan even arranged for someone to give him a makeover.

    Chu Li had delicate features, not the kind that would astonish with a single glance, but the more one looked, the more pleasing he was to the eye. The makeup artist that Ya Lan found seemed to possess a magical touch, as after the transformation, Chu Li felt that his facial features appeared more three-dimensional, and his gaze now exuded an icy allure and aggressiveness.

    If he was once a fragrant lily that only bloomed its scent for those he favored, he now resembled a vibrant rose that would prick anyone who dared to touch it.

    Chu Li was highly uncomfortable with this new appearance, repeatedly pressing his lips together in an attempt to remove the lipstick.

    Noticing his fidgeting, Ya Lan showed no mercy and promptly found an Alpha girl to follow Chu Li around and ensure he didn't move unnecessarily.

    The girl appeared to be around fifteen or sixteen, but it was unclear whose child she was. It was evident that Ya Lan was skilled at exploiting people's weaknesses. Chu Li was particularly awkward around such young girls; at her mere glance, he obediently sat still.

    More unfamiliar procedures followed, and Chu Li, feeling dazed, simply followed along. After a while, they arrived at a large, closed door from which the sounds of a lively gathering could be heard.

    Chu Li's heart suddenly skipped a beat. He felt as if he had sensed something and blinked.

    In the next moment, the grand doors opened, and a cacophony of voices spilled out. A long red carpet stretched all the way to the end of the hall where the person who would spend the rest of their life with him stood.

    Chu Li smiled and walked towards Jing Baiyuanting.

    ---

    Jing Baiyuanting was unusually relaxed, surrounded by a group of people urging him to drink. Meanwhile, Chu Li, exhausted from the ceremony, pushed Jing Baiyuanting out to socialize and found himself a quiet corner to catch a brief nap.

    As he entered the resting room and was about to sit down, he heard a beep from his personal device.

    These days, he had been receiving congratulatory messages from various people, so he didn't think much of it. Assuming that someone else had sent another well-wishing message, he casually opened his device.

    However, the sender was an unfamiliar number, and... the message wasn't a congratulation at all.

    It was two numbers.

    "450, 23."

    Chu Li paused, wondering what this meant.

    After staring at it for a while, he failed to comprehend the message. He then typed a reply, asking who the person was and why they were sending him messages.

    However, his message seemed to vanish into thin air, receiving no response.

    In fact, Chu Li often encountered peculiar individuals who would say bizarre things. Having experienced such situations frequently, he didn't attach much importance to it. He simply dismissed the chat window and prepared to rest.

    After a short while, the same number sent another message: "430, 82."

    Chu Li hesitated for a moment but still carried his personal terminal to seek out Jing Baiyuan.

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