Sunset Boulevard - Chap 1
Chen Boqiao spent three months in the League Military Jail Number Five, in this time, he celebrated his twenty-ninth birthday alone, missed his father’s burial, and witnessed six former officers of the military being escorted to their execution.
His cell, of which he was the single occupant, was not far away from the site of the execution. After a normal military criminal was escorted past his cell, it’d usually be ten minutes before he heard the gunshots of the execution and the flapping wings of the birds that were startled by the gunshots. The unmuffled AKM automatic rifle sounded like a war drum, beating on the hazy sky that was the vast drum surface over the suburbs of the League.
The day after the sixth officer was executed, on the morning of December 25th, Chen Boqiao went to court.
He was wearing a rough prison uniform, his wrists bound in steel handcuffs, and he was sitting in the room, absently listening to the prosecutor’s dignified and impassioned reading of the complaint. At the very back of the court, the cameras of the Associated Press were operating, broadcasting the trial of Chen Boqiao, the son of the richest man in the League and former army colonel of the entire League.
Treason, the murder of his father, and four brutal murders with conclusive evidence. Chen Boqiao was sentenced to death in court and was to be executed immediately. After the trial, Chen Boqiao was escorted by prison guards away from the court. To walk from the courtroom to the escort vehicle, one needed to pass through a corridor full of reporters.
Two rows of heavily armed police officers made a narrow passage amidst the crowd with their shields. The reporters with their access permits on a lanyard pushed at the police with excitement. The more powerful reporters lifted the microphone over the police’s shoulder and tried to reach Chen Boqiao and asked loudly, eager to get a few words from him.
“Mr. Chen, will you continue to appeal?”
“Mr. Chen, before the start of the trial, the overseas media had time and time again disclosed the judgment of this case in advance. Multiple pieces of evidence have apparently been forged. Do you know the details of this matter?”
“Mr. Chen, your supporters are sitting and protesting outside the court. There are large-scale demonstrations throughout the Alliance. Please don’t give up your appeal——”
“Colone-, Mr. Chen, experts speculate that this whole thing was a conspiracy by your stepmother, may I ask——”
“——Mr. Chen! Could you please answer me——”
The passage separated by the human wall became narrower and narrower, and reporters scrambled to follow Chen Boqiao’s pace. Chen Boqiao was the most emotionally stable person on the scene. He even smiled at a camera that was about to get into his face.
The camera’s lights were strung together into a long strip, flashing in the corridor, just like the time between Chen Boqiao’s twenty-eighth to twenty-ninth birthday; it extended for such a length that there seemed to be no end in sight.
Just a little more than ten months ago, Chen Boqiao was still the idol of all the young soldiers of the Alliance and the rising star in the military and political circles. On January 29th, he led a commando team to complete a dangerous surprise attack, freeing a small town in the center of the war zone that had been besieged by the war between the two countries for three years, allowing 100,000 people to escape its nightmare.
Subsequently, Chen Boqiao was appointed as the youngest colonel of the League and awarded the Presidential Medal. On June 12th, Chen Boqiao’s father and the richest man in the League, Chen Zhaoyan, was shot while inspecting a factory and died on the way to the hospital. On June 14th, Chen Boqiao was identified as the prime suspect for the murder of Chen Zhaoyan and was arrested in his home.
After a few months of ups and downs, he reappeared in public view. Chen Boqiao was not as desperate, embarrassed, grief-stricken, or angry as predicted by the media. He hadn’t changed at all.
“——Mr. Chen! Regarding the succession of Zhaohua Energy, can you give a clear response to the investors?! Will your stepmother and the widow of Chairman Chen, Ms. Zhao, become the first Omega to be the richest person in the League?”
“Mr. Chen Boqiao——”
Chen Boqiao did not answer any questions. He passed through the light strip made up of blurred faces and noises, and stepped into the escort vehicle at the urging of the officer behind him.
Before the car door closed, Chen Boqiao heard the slogans of the protesting crowd outside the court. Those who had been protected by him and his comrades were calling his name in synchronization. There were eight bullet-proof and explosion-proof armored vehicles in the escort convoy. To prevent accidents, the convoy had planned nearly ten different routes.
Only a few minutes before departure the drivers would be given the real one. There were three officers in the carriage with Chen Boqiao. Two young men were sitting opposite him, and the older one was sitting beside him, both holding submachine guns and staring at Chen Boqiao closely, and did not dare to relax for a moment.
Chen Boqiao closed his eyes for a while and took a nap. When the car passed a slightly bumpy road, he opened his eyes and made eye contact with the young soldier sitting directly opposite him.
The soldier’s eyes widened, his lips pursed, and he looked alarmed. Out of politeness, Chen Boqiao smiled at him, not expecting him to get even more nervous, as beads of sweat rolled down his forehead, slowly soaking the short hair on his cheeks.
“Are you hot?” Chen Boqiao found it interesting and couldn’t help but ask, “Or are you afraid of me?”
Before the young officer could answer, the middle-aged officer beside Chen Boqiao had already picked up his gun and whispered a stern warning, “No communication.”
The young officer turned away obediently when he heard the words.
Chen Boqiao shrugged but stopped talking nonetheless, leaning against the wire with his back, apathetic as he listened to the dull and violent throttle of the armored vehicle as it climbed the slope, watching the submachine guns in the hands of the two soldiers opposite him, swaying along with the car’s movements.
“Hello, the owner cannot answer your call right now. Please leave your voicemail after this voice message is over.”
“Jue, where have you been? I am very worried about you.”
“I have done what you asked me to do. You promised we’re still best friends. But why did you cut all contact with me after that day?”
“By the way, my father is not angry anymore. He agreed to let me go out and take a break. I am going to Thai Independence State. I peeked at the map in your safe and the date on it, sorry.”
“Will we meet? I hope so.”
“Ah, and if you hear my message, call me back as soon as possible.”
Prison Five, where Chen Boqiao was temporarily detained, was located in the deep forest on the mountainside of Mi Mountain. It took about four hours to drive from the Alliance Military Court to the prison and cross the Mi Mountain Canyon.
The escort team was unimpeded until they were halfway through the journey, but when everyone started to relax, a deafening noise came from above their heads, the fast-moving armored vehicle came to a sudden stop at the sound, and the brake pads screeched, resounding through the valley.
The four passengers swayed forward due to inertia, and as Chen Boqiao was still handcuffed, his shoulder hit the steel wall of the car, making a muffled noise.
The officers responded promptly and quickly stabilized their postures. The older officer raised his gun and pressed it against Chen Boqiao’s waist, “Don’t try anything funny!”
The other two held their guns and stood back to back in a defensive stance. As the four of them listened nervously, suddenly, the soft, strange sounds of leaves rustling could be heard coming from outside the car. After a few more seconds, the escort team’s helicopter’s propellers hit the bushes and rocks, making a shrill noise. It penetrated the trembling steel plate of the armored vehicle and went into the ears of the officers and the prisoner in the vehicle.
The sound of the impact continued rapidly, slowing down at certain intervals, like a pair of rough hands clasping a prisoner’s throat, not fatal for now, but terrifying to experience. The officers turned pale and exchanged glances.
Chen Boqiao wasn’t afraid, but he had a bad feeling.
The simple and unsophisticated mode of action and the strange timing of the rescue were very different compared to their original plan, and hence unusual. As soon as the helicopter crashed, the surrounding was quiet again. The four people in the car were holding their breaths. The middle-aged officer was about to speak when the left side of the car door was nudged for some unknown reason. The armored vehicle peeled away from the concrete, tearing apart the guardrail of the mountain road, rolled over in the direction of the canyon and fell straight down. The officer next to Chen Boqiao only had time to swear before his head hit the roof of the car, and the submachine gun in his hands almost went off.
Fortunately, after dropping for an instant, something suddenly pulled the front of the car up, and the four leaned back at the same time, slamming heavily onto the steel door at the rear of the car.
Due to the initial seating, Chen Boqiao was on the top so he didn’t suffer any injuries, but his back was bruised from the handle of the officer’s gun. In addition, he felt that the four Alphas were crowded too close to each other, and the smell wasn’t pleasant. The armored vehicle was hoisted up by a helicopter and swayed like a pendulum in motion.
The middle-aged officer was the first to recover, his head injured with blood dripping down his hairline. He wordlessly grabbed the metal wiring in the vehicle with his hands, struggled to get up, and pointed the gun at Chen Boqiao, “Don’t move.”
Chen Boqiao raised both his hands to show his innocence.
The helicopter flew for a long time. The middle-aged officer’s hand holding the submachine gun gradually became unstable. The muzzle was already swaying from side to side, unable to point accurately, so he subtly signaled at one of the younger officers for a replacement. When he was about to let go of his gun, the body of the armored vehicle shook, and the rear wheels landed first, followed by the front wheels.
The three officers surrounding Chen Boqiao didn’t speak, and, as if they’d had some kind of discussion, all aimed their guns at Chen Boqiao. After a suffocating silence, the door at the rear of the car was opened, revealing a very thin slit.
The middle-aged officer made a gesture. The three officers crouched down together, held their guns against Chen Boqiao’s back, and made Chen Boqiao open the door.
Chen Boqiao was pushed forward by the muzzle of a gun and began walking. He reluctantly pushed open the bulletproof door, and the cold air of Mi Mountain hit him.
He saw dark green trees, a dusty and windy flat ground, a group of heavily armed mercenaries, nearly thirty muzzles, and a person he didn’t expect.
“Come down.” Zhang Jue looked at Chen Boqiao blankly as he said to him.
Chen Boqiao raised his hands in surrender and stepped out of the car. The officers also followed him down. Before he could react, three silencer guns from different directions fired at the same time, and the three fell. When Chen Boqiao squatted down in disapproval and tried to get the pulse of the middle-aged officer, Zhang Jue said, “It’s just a tranquilizer.”
Chen Boqiao took that as a sign and withdrew his hand, looking at Zhang Jue quietly.
He might be even thinner than when we were in school, he mused quietly. They weren’t close while attending middle school, and it had been so many years since they graduated. No matter how hard Chen Boqiao tried to recall, he could only remember the rough silhouette of the boy of from before.
The two of them were speechless for a few seconds. Zhang Jue broke eye contact first, then raised his hand to grab the coat from one of his subordinates and approached Chen Boqiao. He used a laser cutter to cut Chen Boqiao’s handcuffs and forcefully shoved the coat into Chen Boqiao’s arms while he whispered, “Put it on.”
“Thank you.” Chen Boqiao was a little cold, so he didn’t care about courtesy with Zhang Jue. He unfolded the coat and put it on. When he raised his head to thank Zhang Jue, Zhang Jue had already walked away and was talking softly with his subordinates.
In all fairness, Zhang Jue wasn’t the kind of Alpha with an outstanding appearance. He was average-looking, thinner than the ordinary Alphas, and could easily be mistaken for a Beta.
He was fairly tall, only a little shorter than Chen Boqiao, and his skin was pale along with his eyes and lips. His face was gloomy, and his slightly curly black hair settled a little below his shoulders where he casually tied it behind his neck, and he never looked well. In the words of Chen Boqiao’s friend Pei Shu, Zhang Jue looked lifeless.
Not long ago, Pei Shu also commented that if Zhang Jue could join them in some of the League parties, then Pei Shu, who was well-known to be a playboy, would never have been voted as the “Least Favourable Marriage Candidate for Omegas” champion.
Perhaps noticing the look in Chen Boqiao’s eyes, Zhang Jue raised his head slightly, glanced at Chen Boqiao, and asked him, “Are you done?”
When Chen Boqiao nodded, Zhang Jue briefly told him “Follow me.”, and then walked towards a helicopter without looking back.
Chen Boqiao paused in place, looking at Zhang Jue’s back, remembering the reason Pei Shu mentioned Zhang Jue in that conversation, “I heard that Zhang Jue’s engagement with his childhood sweetheart Omega was called off.” At that time Pei Shu had asked Chen Boqiao, “Didn’t he confess to you before?”
And Chen Boqiao had to think for a long time before he could dig Zhang Jue out from the memories of his school days. He had told Pei Shu, “A lot of people have confessed to me. I can’t remember all of them clearly.”
Zhang Jue walked to the helicopter, turned around, and found that Chen Boqiao was still rooted, as he frowned and straightened his back.
“Is there a problem?”
Chen Boqiao paused his thoughts, smiled at Zhang Jue, and walked over.
“Hello, the owner cannot answer your call right now. Please leave your voicemail after this voice message is over.”
“Jue, I saw the news, I know it’s you… have you lost your mind? Did you think that person might still remember what your name is?”
“…I will arrive in Bangkok at 3 p.m. tomorrow. I’m guessing you don’t plan to meet me?”
“Zhang Jue, you’re the worst! I’m never gonna care about you anymore!”
The camouflaged helicopter flew close to the ground, as it passed over the lush mountains.
Chen Boqiao changed out of his prison uniform in the narrow space behind the cabin.
The sweater and slacks that Zhang Jue prepared for him were neatly folded and placed on an iron rack welded to the ground. The clothes were simple in design, clean, and fitting. They were slightly worn, and the whole outfit seemed to be carefully picked from a thrift store.
To avoid flying into the canopy of the forest, the helicopter flew at an angle for a short while, tilting the surface of the cabin floor due to which the prison uniform piled on it slid down to the lower part.
However, Chen Boqiao stayed rooted. He zipped up his slacks, buttoned it, and looked at himself in the small round mirror on the wall. Then he walked back to Zhang Jue and sat down beside him, putting on soundproof headphones.
Zhang Jue was looking at an electronic map on a tablet, and the red dot representing their coordinates was slowly moving southward.
An hour later, they approached the border between the Asian League and the Thai Independence State.
The border posts in the forest were a frequent sight, and each of them had enough ammo stocked to knock their planes out of the sky. There seemed to be little hope of survival if they flew directly over.
Chen Boqiao looked around, and noticed that there was no safe place nearby for the helicopter to land, so he approached Zhang Jue, tapped his shoulder, and gestured, “How do I get there?”
Zhang Jue turned his head to look at Chen Boqiao, and asked confusedly, “What?”
Chen Boqiao sighed and moved closer, pulling Zhang Jue’s headphones down. He pressed against his ear and asked, “Zhang Jue, how are we gonna get there?”
Zhang Jue probably heard him this time and his already fair complexion further paled. He leaned back subtly and replied to Chen Boqiao, “Just follow me.” Chen Boqiao shrugged nonchalantly.
After a little more flying, Zhang Jue reached out and tapped the mercenary sitting in front of them. After making a gesture, the person got up from their position and handed them the packed parachute.
Chen Boqiao turned it around for inspection after receiving it, and inquired, “How do you open this parachute?”
“You don’t know how?”, Zhang Jue was surprised.
“Never jumped a wing parachute,” Chen Boqiao explained. The two were very close, and Chen Boqiao saw strands of Zhang Jue’s black hair fall into his eyes from where they had been tucked and flutter gently as Zhang Jue moved his hands.
Zhang Jue thought for a while, and then strapped his parachute onto his back. He let Chen Boqiao stand in front and used the spare lock ring to secure Chen Boqiao’s waist, tightening it inward.
Zhang Jue buckled Chen Boqiao’s waist up so fast that it was as if someone was rushing him.
“This is the only way, bear with it.” Zhang Jue explained to Chen Boqiao as he finished preparations.
He glanced outside the window, and Chen Boqiao followed suit. Chen Boqiao could see a small canyon representing a light-colored gap cut out between the dark green mountains.
Chen Boqiao stood in front of Zhang Jue. They first kept a short distance, and after deliberating for a while, Zhang Jue held his arm.
Zhang Jue pulled at Chen Boqiao, arms encircling him from behind. Zhang Jue’s shirt was very thin, and his waist was small. Chen Boqiao could feel Zhang Jue’s body heat through the fabric, making this innocent posture seem a little too intimate.
Chen Boqiao tried his best to keep a polite distance, but the two bodies were seamlessly fitted together, and he could not help inhaling the very personal pheromone of Zhang Jue. It was a light musk fragrance mixed with the smell of bitter almonds. It was not a very intrusive smell, neither did it make Chen Boqiao feel uncomfortable, but Zhang Jue may indeed seem unattractive to Omegas.
Alphas grew taller after differentiation in the puberty stage, their toned muscles became more visible to the naked eye, and their scent scattered, attracting the other sex.
To protect the adolescent students from being affected by too many pheromones, the alma mater of Chen Boqiao and Zhang Jue would re-allocate dormitories and campuses after the students differentiated into their sex. To protect their children, most parents of Omega students chose to transfer them to Omega schools after their children were presented with Omega traits. If Chen Boqiao’s faded memories served him right, Zhang Jue should belong to the kind that didn’t change much before or after the differentiation.
In fact, Chen Boqiao couldn’t remember whether Zhang Jue had confessed to him before or after Zhang Jue’s differentiation. Chen Boqiao had rejected too many people, and remembering the details of each one too clearly could easily make things awkward. Therefore, for the sake of politeness, he never bothered to remember. Judging by common sense, if Zhang Jue did confess, it should have been before he was presented as an Alpha.
While Chen Boqiao was spacing out, the helicopter cabin door opened, and the wind from outside came rumbling in, cutting their exposed hands and faces.
“I’m going to jump,” Zhang Jue said, pressing the back of Chen Boqiao’s hand with his cold fingertips and then immediately let go.
Chen Boqiao glanced back reflexively, only to see Zhang Jue’s pink earlobes. Since Zhang Jue was very fair, the flushing was particularly obvious.
But before Chen Boqiao could think more about it, Zhang Jue jumped off with him in tow.
The free-falling period of low-altitude skydiving was very short. Zhang Jue quickly adjusted his posture, opened the parachute, and floated down into the canyon.
The bottom of the gorge was filled almost entirely by strong currents of water, and one could find a narrow strip of flat land only if they looked closely.
The sound of the water and the wind surrounded them. Chen Boqiao clung onto Zhang Jue’s shoulders. Seeing the ground get closer and closer to them, Zhang Jue’s shoulder muscles became very stiff. It could have been because he was concentrating, but it could also be that he was nervous.
Not long after that, the two dropped to the ground and took off their equipment.
There was a small cave at the end of the flat ground. At the entrance of the cave stood a brown-skinned young man, wearing a thick padded jacket. As they approached him, he scrunched his neck and rubbed his palms, looking like he had been waiting for a long time.
When he saw Zhang Jue and Chen Boqiao, he said, “Sir, you are very punctual,” but his eyes were fixed on Chen Boqiao.
Zhang Jue nodded, and asked the young man flatly, “Can we go through?”
“Yes, I just checked the surveillance,” the young man responded, turning to Chen Boqiao suddenly, and informed him, “Colonel, don’t worry, business has been pretty slow recently, and everyone has gone to the city for the winter. I’m the only one here today. We’ll be absolutely safe going through. No other person will know where you have been.”
After that, he turned on a flashlight and led them into the cave.
After walking a short distance along the dim and wet cave, they reached the entrance of the secret passage leading to the Thai Independence State.
The entrance switch was located next to the stalactite above his head. The young man turned the dial a few times, and a door by his foot slowly opened.
The young man held the flashlight in his mouth and climbed down the ladder first.
Chen Boqiao did not immediately follow him. He looked at the rough but practical door, and turned to ask Zhang Jue, “Illegal smuggling group?”
“Yes,” Zhang Jue glanced at him, explaining to the youth, “He’s one of your supporters.”
Chen Boqiao smiled and did not comment. He walked to the door, stepped on the ladder, and slowly descended.
The secret path used in crossing the border illegally had existed for some years. There were rechargeable energy-saving lamps hung on the mud walls. Most of the lamps were giving off a faint light, but some were out of power and hadn’t had the opportunity to be replaced.
Twenty-five years ago, the satellite navigation plan of the Asian League, which was fully supported by the current President Zhao Kun, began its construction. It cost hundreds of millions of dollars and launched a total of 29 satellites. They have been in operation for more than ten years. The satellites claimed to cover the whole globe without missing anything, and yet, this secret passage which had been in use for many years had not been found.
Chen Boqiao stepped onto the uneven path, silently following the young man.
Two hours later, they could see the stars above the Thai Independence State.
“Hello, the owner cannot answer your call right now. Please leave your message after this voice message is over.”
“I met my uncle and talked to him. Zhang Jue, you are so heartless! You are using me again.”
“Ah, whatever, as long as the part about the τ-differentiation agent is true, I’ll reluctantly forgive you.”
“My father just arrived home. He told me that the negotiations between the Asian League and the neighboring independent countries with established diplomatic relations have ended, and a large-scale joint search for you guys has begun.”
“I hope you and that person have already arrived in the Thai Independence State. It’s safer there. I’ll still go to Bangkok tomorrow.”
The border defenses of the Thai Independence State were not as dense as those of the Asian League. The night sky was a much deeper color than that of the League. The stars shone brightly, and the moon glowed softly, hanging in the west side of the dark veil over them.
The scent of grass, wood, and moist soil slowly rose around Chen Boqiao, scattering in the thin fog that gathered at night.
After bidding farewell to the young man, Zhang Jue brought Chen Boqiao out of the grove where the passage was located and took several turns to go down the mountain. They walked into a small and dilapidated public parking lot, and finally stopped next to an old pickup truck. Zhang Jue found the key taped underneath the truck rim and opened the door. He started the car and drove down the mountain.
The winding mountain road had been around for a few years, and supply trucks heading to border defense stations often passed by, and left dents of various sizes in the road, which were hard to avoid if the driver wasn’t careful. Zhang Jue concentrated on driving, the sleeves of his beige cotton shirt rolled to his elbows, revealing his pale and slender forearms.
The smell of worn leather mixed with pungent diesel surrounded them. This gave Chen Boqiao a strange kind of peaceful feeling.
Suddenly, the military-grade walkie-talkie that Zhang Jue had placed in the cup holder began to vibrate. Zhang Jue picked it up and listened to the other party without saying a word, and only occasionally responded with a few sounds of affirmation. It was not until he hung up that he spoke the longest sentence in the entire conversation, “Okay, follow the original plan.”
Chucking the communicator back into the cup holder, Zhang Jue stared ahead again. The windows of the car were not closed tightly, and the surroundings were so quiet that the sound of tires crunching over gravel could be heard.
As they approached the bottom of the mountain, Chen Boqiao got so bored that he was about to reach out to the radio dial on the car when he heard Zhang Jue ask, “Are you hungry?”
Chen Boqiao was stunned for a moment. Before he could answer, Zhang Jue said, “We’ll arrive in town in another 20 minutes. What do you want to eat?”
“What’s good there?”
As if he had memorized it several times, Zhang Jue perfectly recited a lot of cuisines for Chen Boqiao to pick, and cautioned, “It’s not safe for you to show your face right now. If you want to eat anything fancier, I can go out to buy it for you when we get to the safe house.”
Chen Boqiao thought about it for a while and chose a simple sandwich. He then thanked Zhang Jue.
Zhang Jue did not look at Chen Boqiao, and quickly responded, “No problem.”
Chen Boqiao smiled softly, and reached out his hand again to twist the radio dial until they could hear the white noise. Chen Boqiao lowered the volume, and slowly turned the knob to switch channels.
He switched from the melodious Thai music station, to the local news, to the panel interviews, and eventually stopped on the international news station.
The female anchor’s English was good, but the radio signal was poor. Chen Boqiao heard, “breaking news from the Asian League…fugitive Chen Boqiao…a premeditated crime that caused…serious… …directly responsible for…officials resigned due to pressure from…the stock market…the voters…”.
Although he could not hear the whole broadcast, Chen Boqiao caught the keywords and listened with interest.
However, before he could finish satisfying his curiosity, Zhang Jue’s left hand suddenly moved from the steering wheel, grabbed the tuning knob and turned it roughly forward back to the music station.
The song that was playing before was approaching its end, and the voice of the well-known female Thai singer first rose and then fell with melancholy.
Chen Boqiao glanced at Zhang Jue. Zhang Jue’s brows were pinched together, and Chen Boqiao didn’t know what he was upset about.
“Don’t like listening to the news?” Chen Boqiao asked hesitantly.
“It’s too noisy.” Zhang Jue explained.
Dim lights dotted the area ahead of them as they approached a residential area of the small town Zhang Jue had talked about.
Chen Boqiao focused himself and sat up straight.
“We’re staying here tonight,” Zhang Jue said softly over the hum of the music station, and continued, “After confirming the security, we will drive to Bangkok tomorrow morning and leave the country by boat.”
“Will you be accompanying me?” Chen Boqiao asked him.
“Yeah,” Zhang Jue nodded, and explained, “I’ll get you to North America, and then to the New Independent Republic, where there will be someone who has guaranteed your safety.”
“Thank you,” Chen Boqiao said.
Zhang Jue paused and replied, “It’s fine.”
His brows smoothed out, looking a lot more relaxed than before, and he added, “There is some simple makeup and costumes in the safe house. We need to make you look like the guy on your fake passport.”
Chen Boqiao looked at Zhang Jue and agreed.
Throughout the whole journey, Chen Boqiao intermittently tried to recall what Zhang Jue was like when he was a student, but there was not much to remember.
If it wasn’t for Pei Shu to mention him occasionallysometimes, Chen Boqiao would have forgotten that there was such a person.
However, Pei Shu’s description of Zhang Jue was different from the Zhang Jue standing before Chen Boqiao.
Pei Shu insisted that Zhang Jue was an antisocial loner, assertive, and cold, but Chen Boqiao felt that his attitude was not that bad and that he just didn’t like talking much.
Maybe because the night was so quiet, or maybe because of the dangerous situation they were in, Chen Boqiao did not restrain himself in inspecting Zhang Jue from top to bottom.
Prominent knuckles, bluish veins, rugged, and thin. It was by no means a normal healthy Alpha physique, but from his skydiving performance, it seems that he was even more fierce than the average Alpha.
If he remembers correctly, Zhang Jue’s father is a political figure in the New Independent Republic. The NIR and the Asian League broke off their diplomatic relations many years ago and instead were close with North America.
Chen Boqiao could feel an oncoming migraine.
In the evidence presented in court today, the records of his communication with North American government officials were indeed fabricated. However, Zhang Jue’s appearance and breaking him out today seem to be confirming his treason.
But since they’ve already gotten this far, it was too late to say anything. He decided he would cross that bridge when he got to it. It was just that… Zhang Jue… could he be trusted?
What does he want from this? Will he follow orders?
Chen Boqiao paused his pondering and whispered Zhang Jue’s name.
Zhang Jue quickly responded in a soft voice.
“What’s the matter?”
Chen Boqiao questioned, “Who do you represent?”
Zhang Jue was silent for a few seconds, and he responded, “I represent no one.”
Chen Boqiao looked at Zhang Jue’s side profile.
Zhang Jue’s lips were pursed in a thin line, and his eyes looked straight ahead. He looked stubborn. After some thirty seconds, Zhang Jue stated again, “The Asian League has no right to judge you.”
Chen Boqiao remembered that Zhang Jue is about the same age as himself. People who are twenty-eight or twenty-nine years old should be mature enough to not say such emotional and idealistic things. But Chen Boqiao was still amused by how seriously Zhang Jue said it.
“Is that so?”
Zhang Jue was still serious, and he told Chen Boqiao, “Originally I did not intend to act so early on, but after the demonstration at the Presidential Palace last week, the Fifth Military Prison suddenly changed a few of the prison guards. Two of them worked for the father of the current president.”
Chen Boqiao’s expression turned serious.
“Don’t worry,” Zhang Jue noticed the changes in Chen Boqiao’s demeanor, so he assured him, “The Asian League isn’t powerful enough to intervene with the NIR.”
Chen Boqiao thought about it, but did not speak.
“But…” Zhang Jue turned his head and said slowly, “When we get there, you have to do me a favor.”
Chen Boqiao glanced at Zhang Jue and asked, “What favor?”
“I want you to open a genetic lock from Zhaohua Energy.”
Chen Boqiao was slightly startled.
Every gene lock from Zhaohua Energy was guarded as a top secret of the Corporation. After Chen Zhaoyan’s death, Chen Boqiao was the only one who could open them.
Not many people knew about the genetic locks, so how did Zhang Jue know?
Chen Boqiao thought for a bit, and cautiously asked, “Which one?”
“The space medical capsule prototype from Zhaohua Energy. I need to take a vial of medicine that was recalled to be destroyed thirteen years ago,” Zhang Jue explained. “Can you do it?”
Chen Boqiao did not answer immediately.
He looked out of the car window, watching the welcome sign with colorful lights approach them and get left behind. Zhang Jue drove the car into the town. Chen Boqiao lowered the window with the old hand crank to let the stifling night breeze into the car.
Unable to get a reply, Zhang Jue seemed to be a little nervous and added, “The medicine is only for my personal needs. If there was any other way, I wouldn’t be asking you for help. My father only provided me with this much assistance in this operation because I told him I’ll get you to help me…”
Before Zhang Jue could explain more, Chen Boqiao leaned towards Zhang Jue and put his right hand on Zhang Jue’s shoulder, “I see, where is the prototype capsule you mentioned?”
Chen Boqiao felt the muscles of the shoulder he touched stiffen, saw Zhang Jue’s light-colored lips pursed before him, and then slightly open while replying in a small voice, “My house.”
“Hi, I’m Ai Jiaxi, I can’t answer your call right now, please leave your message after this voicemail is over.”
“Jiaxi, call me back when you hear this. Thai Independence State is not fun for you, go home immediately, don’t throw a tantrum.”
“Hi, I’m Ai Jiaxi, I can’t answer your call right now, please leave your message after this voicemail is over.”
“I’ll come back and explain it to you, remember to call me back.”