Chapter 2 – Carlos

 

The system was silent for a moment and said: [I didn’t expect this situation. 

Ji Ling: [He shouldn’t have been here at all. With such a big change in the plot, that’s all you have to say? 

The system couldn’t argue: [How about this? I’ll check to see what’s going on, while you deal with him first. 

 

Ji Ling: […]

Ji Ling knew that the system was unreliable, and now he had to improvise on his own. He pretended to naturally draw his hand back from Carlos, and quietly put it behind his back, revealing an uneasy expression, “Uncle Carlos, this gift is too expensive for me to accept.”

Ji Ting also recovered from the shock just now and said, “I appreciate your kindness on behalf of my son, but please take your gift back.”

Carlos’ deep brown eyes beamed with a faint smile, and his tone was soothing, but filled undeniably with determination. He said calmly: “Today is Xiao Ling’s coming of age celebration, and I am also his elder. What is sending him a mere planet?”

A mere planet? Blue Ocean Star wasn’t one of those garbage stars without a name.

Ji Ting frowned slightly, and slowly said after a moment of silence: “We’re amongst all the youngsters here. Why don’t we go in and talk?”

Ji Ting couldn’t grasp his intention at all. He had no idea why Carlos would suddenly show such grand affection for Ji Ling. Did he want to bribe him? Carlos insisted on the gift, but continuing to refuse in public might spark some unnecessary rumors.That’s why he deliberately invited Carlos in to speak with him alone.

Carlos smiled and gave Ji Ling a deep look. Then he turned and went in with Ji Ting.

Ji Ling saw him leave, only to find that his vest was covered in a thin layer of sweat. Carlos’ appearance just now really caught him off guard.

Of the main characters in the book, Carlos was the one he was most alert of.Although he seemed like a perfect noble, and his every move was polite and courteous, he was actually the most ruthless of them all. He was the type that hid his cold-blooded heart behind a smile.

Emperor Sui, the male lead, was an imperial emperor. Although he was arrogant and aloof, the most he did was look in disdain. No matter what Ji Ling did, he was never moved, and didn’t even bother to fuss with him.

Although Ning Yu, the main shou, was humiliated several times by his schemes, he was a noble and independent *white lotus character.Since he was an honorable gentleman, Ji Ling was never worried that he’d take revenge. Instead, he actually felt bad for bullying him.

Villain No.2, Marshal Brandon, was a close friend and like-minded companion of Emperor Sui. He was a righteous and glorious military man. Although he despised and disdained Ji Ling, he would never scheme pettily behind his back.

Strictly speaking, Brandon wasn’t actually a villain. He just played opposite to Jing Sui in the emotional department as the devoted male rival, because he had a crush on Ning Yu. However, he never turned against Jing Sui, even after losing the war of love.

Villain No.3, Speaker of the House, Wen Yan, was an ordinary member of parliament, and would later become Ning Yu’s good friend. This person was at times good and at times bad, which made him difficult to read. Although he betrayed Ning Yu in the end, it was more or less expected.

Villain No. 1, Grand Duke Carlos, was a smiling old fox on the surface. In fact, he was the only one who would use any methods in order to achieve his goals, and saw everyone as just a pawn. If you got close to him and showed a moment of carelessness, you’d die and not even know how you died. Last life, Ji Ling didn’t even provoke him, and he still got manipulated, almost losing his life.

I don’t know what kind of blessing I drew this time to receive such an expensive gift, but it definitely didn’t happen last time.

Ji Ling was worriedly thinking about what exactly went wrong, leading to the plot deviation, when the MIA system finally came back, late.

Ji Ling said lightly: [If you came back any later, you wouldn’t have to come back at all. 

System: [Why not? 

Ji Ling: [Because by that time, I would’ve probably been killed off and sent to the re-spawn point already 🙂 ]

System: […]

Ji Ling: [So did you find out what went wrong? 

The system actually felt kind of bad: [Sorry, the cause of Carlos’ abnormality cannot be determined at this time, because the world crashed, and there was a database failure. 

He thought for a moment and added: [It is possible that unexpected changes have taken place after the collapse of the world, resulting in a butterfly effect. However, your mission remains the same, so it doesn’t matter. As long as you complete the mission, you can go back. 

Really? How come I think your answer is just trying to placate me? Who knows how much the plot has changed? Can I even still finish the mission?

But even the system couldn’t explain it, so there was nothing Ji Ling could do, except hope that there weren’t many changes. Fortunately, he was quite familiar with Carlos, so he wasn’t completely defenseless.

Carlos and Emperor Sui had different political views. He had always had ambitions to usurp the emperor’s throne. Since there was a purpose behind everything he did, there was no way he would specially come attend Ji Ling’s coming of age celebration.That’s why there was an 80% chance that today was for his father, Ji Ting.

The Ji family was an old aristocratic family with deep roots. They also had a quite a bit of influence with the imperial aristocrats, and were the representatives of the neutral faction. It was understandable that Carlos would want to pull the Ji family to his side. In short, it was best to let his father, Ji Ting, deal with this kind of complex machiavellian power struggle.

Focusing on completing the mission was better for him.

As long as Emperor Sui and Ning Yu achieved a happy ending, he could go home!

Ji Ling stayed in the banquet hall for a while. When he got tired of dealing with people, he made an excuse to go out and get some air.

Since he’d already gone through the mission before, Ji Ling was as familiar with this place as with his own home. The garden behind the banquet hall was very beautiful. After sneaking out, Ji Ling climbed up a tree and laid comfortably on the trunk. He looked up at the stars surrounding the empire, shining in the night sky. The nine stars gave off a beautiful multi-colored luster, just like colorful gems hanging in the sky.

Those were the nine big satellites of Empire Star, and each one was the size of a small planet. Although they looked beautiful and harmless from here, they were actually weapons of war capable of raising heaven and hell. They could withstand any attack, and were equipped to vaporize enemies to dust. These satellites were important deterrents in maintaining the safety of the capital, and keeping imperial rule.

Ji Ling looked at the sky absently. There was a long history behind the conflict between Carlos and Jing Sui. To talk about the details, we need to first start with the setting of the book.

This book had a very vast world setting. It was said that after the sixth scientific revolution, human beings officially set foot into space and began a new phase of evolution. After thousands of years of development and expansion, they had finally become the overlords of the universe. With humans at the forefront, a large national regime of intelligent life was created, commanding numerous star domains. That is the empire of today.

In the face of all kinds of intelligent life forms and powerful species in the universe, there was only one reason humans could firmly hold their current status…

That was the invention of a genetic evolution agent**.

Before the vast universe, humans couldn’t stand to remain so small. Although they could rely on external factors, their own frailty still made it difficult to survive in the universe, because they were unable to cope with a variety of harsh living environments, and vulnerable to attack by other species.

That’s why mankind never gave up on the potential to develop itself.

After countless experiments and sacrifices, humans finally discovered a special substance in the universe thousands of years ago. Using this substance, a genetic evolution agent was finally synthesized that could be applied universally to more than 99.99% of human beings. This completely opened the door to human evolution.

Through continuous evolution, reproduction, and integration generation after generation, humans were no longer the same as before.

Although their outer appearance hadn’t changed much, their physical and mental strength were completely different… They were almost like a new species compared with the humans of the past on earth.

But had this high level of civilization and evolution eliminated the conflicts and inequalities between humans? No.

On the contrary, this evolution led to growing social inequality and conflict.

The first generation genetic evolution agent was difficult to produce, making it expensive. Although it was generally applicable to all human beings, the low production could only supply a small fraction of people. These human beings were strengthened by evolution, thus bringing them higher status. Moreover, children born from an intermarriage of stronger human beings would be inherently stronger as well… Eventually, a class of evolved beings was born, the system of imperial aristocracy in its infancy.

The first generation of evolved humans gradually realized the huge benefits, and began to control the manufacture and use of genetic evolution agents. They had a firm hold on leading edge science and technology, controlling the fate of mankind step by step.

The strong became stronger, and the weak weaker.

With thousands of years of development and a steady stream of cosmic resources, the evolved beings gradually brought about a new race of elites which were completely different from ordinary human beings. They became the ‘imperial aristocracy’ as we know it today.

Now that nothing in the universe was a threat to the existence of the empire, nobles completely monopolized the development and use of genetic evolution agents in order to maintain their absolute dominance. If an ordinary civilian wanted to buy even the lowest level evolution agent, they’d need to pay sky-high prices. Sale of high-level evolution agents was completely prohibited to them.

Aristocrats continued to evolve and intermarry within the same class. Although it was increasingly difficult for the more evolved humans to produce offspring, they weren’t willing to intermarry with civilians, believing that this would tarnish the genes of future generations.

Discrimination and inequality, once hidden under the pretense of false fairness, gradually reared its ugly head.

In Ji Ling’s opinion, the nobles living on Empire Star were like immortals living in the celestial world. If things continued to develop this way for another few thousand years, they wouldn’t be called imperial aristocrats anymore, but imperial deities!

Ji Ling felt like he could write a paper on this, and title it, “On the Birth of the Deities in the Universe”.

 

In the present empire, it was as difficult for ordinary civilians to evolve as it was for pigs to fly. If they didn’t hit the jackpot overnight, nothing could change their fate besides fate itself.

In fact, there was a turbulent movement surging under the peaceful front. The monopolization of genetic evolution agents and the abuse of their privileges by the powerful had gradually roused public dissatisfaction. Some were unwilling to submit to the increasingly corrupt aristocracy, and even created rebel forces to challenge the rule of the empire. However, under the empire’s powerful military suppression and propaganda, the number of rebel forces never grew large.

Ji Ling could understand that for most imperial citizens, life was peaceful and comfortable. Even if social inequality existed, no one was willing to give up his life to fight against the powerful empire. In general, most revolutions in history started because people were forced into desperate situations. The state of the imperial society now was far from that. Even in Ji Ling’s native society, wealth was similarly monopolized by a few people. It’s just that the inequality wasn’t as obvious.

However, Imperial Emperor Sui saw not only the prosperous face of the current empire, but also the many hidden dangers beneath. Although the current rebel army seemed weak, its very existence signified a spark that could eventually start a fire if not controlled.

Imperial dignitaries carried too much authority, and excessive power left unchecked would inevitably lead to corruption. They disregarded the value of human life, perched so high above the others that ordinary people seemed like an inferior race in their eyes. They thought it was natural for the lowest links to work like slaves. Under their beautiful and glamorous appearance, hid this dark and ugly truth; Anyone who dared go against them would be suppressed by force.

Inevitably, wanton suppression would lead to resistance.

If sentiments continued to brew like this, a revolution would break out sooner or later, and Emperor Sui didn’t want to see that happen or else the foundations of the country would be shaken… Even gods could one day fall from heaven, not to mention a mere group of indulgent nobles. How many more-developed civilizations had fallen before them?

No one could be prosperous forever.

In order to change this situation, Emperor Sui advocated for lowering the price of genetic evolution agents, further improving the civilians’ rights, and slowly lessening the gap between aristocrats and civilians. He hoped to build a more united and powerful empire by increasing the per capita strength of the whole country. He believed that it wasn’t feasible to rely on only a few people for a country’s strength. Ordinary civilians, who made up the vast majority of the population, were a force to be reckoned with.

However, Jing Sui’s actions violated the interests of most of the powerful people. They were unwilling to relinquish their rights and give the lower links the opportunity to rise to equal footing, or even be stepped on along the way.

The dignitaries who opposed Emperor Sui followed the lead of Grand Duke Carlos. They went against Emperor Sui in all in their political views.

Carlos believed that there was no need to change the status quo. All this was simply the result of survival of the fittest. Lower beings didn’t deserve equal status with them.

In their eyes, ordinary people were just like ants on the ground. They had obviously given them a peaceful and prosperous life, protecting them from foreign invasion, but these ingrates still clamored for more. This kind of insatiable human greed shouldn’t be tolerated.

Carlos called for blood. Rebels needed to be suppressed by force in order to maintain the absolute dominance of the empire. There was no need to compromise with some greedy ants.

The two sides fought and a whole book was written on this.

Ji Ling thought about it, and decided it wasn’t something he could interfere with as a rich kid. What’s more, he wasn’t that invested in this world as a substitute. He only cared about how to play his role, complete the mission, and go home.

No matter how much larger or realer this world may be, it wasn’t his original world, nor was it where he wanted to stay.

Thinking of this, he gave a rare sigh. He placed his hands behind his head, and looked up at the stars in a daze. Suddenly, his ears perked, and he heard someone calling his name in the distance. It seemed to be one of the original’s rich pals.

I’ve been out for long enough. It’s about time to go back.

Ji Ling sat up, pushed off with both hands, and nimbly jumped down from the tree.

As soon as he landed, he looked up and saw a handsome and elegant middle-aged man standing in the shadows under the tree, smiling at him. He was so scared that he missed his footing and almost fell to the ground. This resulted in him crashing right into that man’s arms.

Carlos looked at the young man who threw himself into his arms, stretched out his hand and gently held him by the shoulder. His voice was low and he smiled: “Be careful.”

Ji Ling thought to himself, ‘That was all your fault!’ He told himself to be bold and not panic. Then, he lifted his eye line from Carlos’ arms, revealing a naive and unsuspecting look saying, “Uncle Carlos, why are you here?”

Carlos stared at the young man’s blue eyes, resting on his active and vibrant face. A kind of complex nostalgia surfaced faintly in his eyes. He paused for a long time, and said, “I just finished speaking with your father, and saw you here…”

He paused in the middle of the conversation, his lips raised slightly in a playful way, before continuing in a doting voice: “I just wanted to see how long this little rascal was going to stay in the tree.”

Ji Ling: “…” And that’s why you were watching for so long?

Fortunately, he didn’t have the bad habit of talking to himself alone. He looked at Carlos’ gentle doting expression, and felt strangely creeped out all over. His body couldn’t help but stiffen slightly.

Carlos sensed Ji Ling’s unease and said apologetically, “Sorry, did I scare you?”

Ji Ling bit his lower lip and shook his head. In front of the old fox, the more you said, the higher the risk of slipping up was. It was better to keep things the same, but be prepared for changes.

However, he saw Carlos’ eyes suddenly darken, like he was deeply repressing something, and his hand also pressed down on his shoulder slightly.

Ji Ling couldn’t understand Carlos’ expression, but he felt somewhat anxious, as if he was being preyed on. He blinked uneasily and said, “My friend is calling for me…”

Carlos’ expression didn’t change.

Just when Ji Ling was starting to feel unsettled, Carlos slowly released his hand and took a graceful step back. The dim color that flashed in his eyes just now had faded away, revealing a gentle smile: “Go ahead. Don’t keep them waiting.”

Ji Ling nodded as if he had received a pardon, and said, “Then I’ll be going first. Goodbye, Uncle Carlos.”

As soon as he spoke, he flew away, not looking back once the whole way.

He strongly felt that if he turned to look, he’d meet that person’s line of sight…

It didn’t take long for Ji Ling to see Rhodes’ slightly rounded face. He smiled and asked him where he’d gone. Being surrounded by the familiar noise finally helped Ji Ling put that suffocating environment from before behind him. For the first time, he even thought this showy rascal looked a little cute!

At the very least, Rhodes was much better than Carlos.

  ………………

Carlos looked briefly at the figure of Ji Ling going away, then turned and left the manor.

His housekeeper, Anderson, had been waiting outside for a long time. He bowed respectfully, and opened the door of the idling car for him. Anderson hesitated for a moment, but couldn’t keep the wonder in his heart, asking, “I had already prepared the gift in advance as you ordered. Why did your honor come in person?”

Nobody knew of Duke Carlos’ actions today in advance. Anderson was very surprised, and didn’t understand his intentions… Moreover, when anyone expressed interest in buying Blue Ocean Star from Duke Carlos before, he would ignore it. Today, however, he suddenly gave it to Ji Ling. This really puzzled Anderson.

Carlos looked back at him, and said lightly, “I know what I’m doing.”

Anderson was scared stiff by this expression and bowed his head. “My apologies. I was too nosy.”

The duke must’ve had his reasons. If he didn’t say, then I shouldn’t have asked. Anderson suppressed the curiosity in his heart, and respectfully closed the door for Carlos.

Carlos sat in the car with his hands clasped. His index finger tapped on the top of his silver cane.

Closing his eyes, he saw the panicked teenager when he jumped down from the tree and fell into his arms. He was just like a fairy falling to the human realm… Those transparent blue eyes reflected his own face, as if he could see right through him all the way.

He was still alive and calling him Uncle Carlos.

Nobody would understand how this one phrase, “Uncle Carlos”, had created waves in his heart.

After his rebirth, the first thing he did was come here to see for himself… to see if he was still here, living without a care or a worry in the world… Instead of like how he was in the last scene of his previous life,  lying weakly in Jing Sui’s arms. He remembered his powerless body hanging with a bloodstained arm, gradually nearing his last breath, and finally becoming a cold dead body in the end.

Carlos slowly opened his eyes, his brown pupils dyed a cold tint.

In his last life, he fought with Jing Sui his whole life. In the end, he fell short because of a moment of carelessness. However, at that moment, he found what he regretted the most was actually not his own failure, but the involvement of an innocent teenager in his struggle with Jing Sui. He regretted that he let Ning Yu escape because of carelessness. He regretted that he didn’t recognize the teenager, and even killed him with his own hands.

The young man stood resolutely in front of Jing Sui. The scene when he slowly fell down penetrated Carlos’ cold impregnable heart like a sharp thorn. His heart which had discarded all weakness, kindness, hesitation and other qualities of the lower beings…

For the first time, his heart had learnt what it was like to lose something.

This innocent and simple boy who depended on him… This boy who knew he had betrayed and abandoned him before, yet still chose to trust in him and look at him with such pure sincere eyes…

Was he just too simple and too stupid?

No, it was probably because he believed and cared.

However, he once turned a blind eye to this trust and even used it as a bargaining chip, pushing him out at will in order to achieve his own goals. He made Ji Ling a victim of his power struggle with Jing Sui… Never did he think he’d regret it, because the foolish and weak should be used and discarded, just as he’d always done.

But on that cold night, when the boy showed up in front of him ungrudgingly, he suddenly realized… Did he really feel contempt for the young man’s trust? No.

In fact, he’d never seen anything so moving before.

It was only after seeing this, that he realized how precious it was.

When he finally understood, that was also when he lost him.

He had killed him by mistake.

Carlos’ pursed his thin lips, and his body let off a cold and ruthless aura. His grip slowly tightened.

If it weren’t for Emperor Sui, you wouldn’t have committed mistake after mistake. You even lost your life for him in the end.

That man was more merciless than you believed. He didn’t care about anyone, and he would never have loved you. You didn’t understand that until you died. Even after your heart was humiliated like that, you were still willing to give your life for him.

That man was not worth your love at all!

But now, he was back.

This time, he wanted not only the empire, but also the boy who would simply look at him and call him, ‘Uncle Carlos’ with a smile.

This time, he hoped to never see those flawless eyes covered in dust. That young man’s smile would forever be directed to him, and he would trust in him and rely on him again without fear.

When he saw Ji Ling again, he didn’t hesitate.

Rebirth was to give him a chance to make up for his regrets.

The look in Carlos’ eyes slowly deepened.

You are countless times more beautiful and flawless than the unparalleled planet, Blue Ocean Star.

You will be my most beautiful treasure.

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