Before going to the bug planet, Xiao Lou had placed the entrance of the Peach Blossom Spring in the cockpit of Spirit Fox. Now everyone walked out of the Peach Blossom Spring and the familiar console was in sight. The mecha was in standby mode and all the buttons on the console were lit up with a soft blue light.
Xiao Lou walked to the console.
From the window, the bug planet could be seen below the mecha. The area where the laboratory was established suddenly exploded.
Crimson flames rose to the sky and heat waves rolled over. The rumbling sound was deafening. The surrounding crystals were blown away by the shock waves of the explosion and scattered everywhere. The red crystal fragments looked like the most brilliant fireworks in the sky.
Lu Jiuchuan’s Vermilion Bird Heavenly Fire was truly terrible. The flames completely destroyed the cloning laboratory. At this point, the entire underground cave collapsed and the bug queen who just arrived let out an angry roar. The bugs who had evolved to grow wings heard the call of the queen and turned their heads. Then they all headed toward the location of Spirit Fox!
The bugs gathered around the queen and looked like a large black cloud moving up.
They surrounded Spirit Fox at a very fast speed. Xiao Lou quickly pressed the start button. “Spirit Fox, retreat quickly!”
The mecha that received the instruction immediately spread out its wings and soared into the sky. It flew over the top of the bugs and broke through the atmosphere like a stray arrow, entering the vast universe of stars.
The bugs desperately chased after them but their flying speed wasn’t comparable to the S-grade mecha. After only 10 seconds, Spirit Fox broke through the black clouds and left the bug planet and the chasing swarm of bugs far behind.
Xiao Lou sighed with relief and instructed Spirit Fox, “Leave the Hilt No Man’s Land as soon as possible.”
Spirit Fox replied, “Yes, Master.”
Chu Huaying listened to the strange young voice and couldn’t help wondering, “What is this mecha?”
Xiao Lou explained, “It is the S-grade mecha that the emperor left to me and Hanjiang. Previously, the Dark Night starship was destroyed and we managed to survive thanks to this mecha.”
Xiao Lou only slightly mentioned the matter of the Dark Night starship but Chu Huaying could imagine the danger at that time. She looked at everyone and said softly, “Sorry. I didn’t have time to contact you when I was taken away by Uncle Qin. Did Uncle Qin use the clone to lead you to the starship? Then he secretly destroyed the starship in order to bury you in the universe?”
Xiao Lou answered, “Yes, Uncle Qin destroyed the balance system of the Dark Night starship and drained its energy. It set the navigation destination to the clock constellation with frequent cosmic sandstorms. Fortunately, we escaped the sandstorm using this mecha.”
Chu Huaying had a hint of guilt on her face.
Lu Jiuchuan came over and patted Chu Huaying on the shoulder. “This matter can’t be blamed on you. We weren’t careful enough and didn’t check if the Chu Huaying we met was true or false. We directly teleported to the Dark Night starship. Moreover, Uncle Qin is a hunter and has been lurking around you. He wasn’t right when we interrogated him and we should’ve noticed it…”
Xiao Lou told her, “It’s all over. Don’t blame yourself. This time, it is a lesson. We will have to be more cautious in the future.” He paused and looked back at Yu Hanjiang. “Did you find that Uncle Qin’s sentence was strange?”
-Death? Do you think there are hunters who are afraid of death?
Uncle Qin’s crazy laughter before he died echoed in his ears. Yu Hanjiang touched his chin and pondered on it for a moment. “You mean, the reason that hunters aren’t afraid perhaps isn’t what we guessed?”
Xiao Lou nodded. “I previously speculated that hunters aren’t afraid of death because failing the task might be more painful than death. Death is a relief for them so they aren’t afraid to die.”
Ye Qi scratched his head in a puzzled manner. “Isn’t it reasonable to speculate like this? It is human instinct to want to live. As a result, they would rather die than tell any of the organization’s secrets. It is obvious that the result of the leak will be worse than death.”
“I thought so as well. Yet when Uncle Qin died just now, he didn’t show despair. He laughed wildly like he had accomplished some mission and died very happily.” Xiao Lou took out the contract book and looked at the Team Resurrection card that hadn’t been used yet. “Can the hunters… be resurrected?”
The group heard this and their expressions instantly stiffened.
Ye Qi couldn’t believe it and his eyes widened. “No way? If the hunters can be resurrected, it would be too unfair to us! We will be eliminated if we fail our mission while they can come back if they fail their mission? Is this real?”
Xiao Lou put away the contract book and looked at everyone. “We aren’t eliminated directly if we fail. There is the Nightmare Room.”
Ye Qi was taken aback. He had experienced the 3 of Spades Nightmare Room. He had struggled to survive by eating bark and weeds. It was also this room that left him with a deep fear of hunger and made him want to fill his stomach first thing every time he woke up.
Lu Jiuchuan, Tang Ci and Chu Huaying had all gone through the J of Clubs Nightmare Room. Brother Jiu had a scar left on his face while Tang Ci lost his legs. The moment the words ‘Nightmare Room’ were mentioned, the expressions of several people became ugly.
Xiao Lou’s voice was soft. “If challengers fail the mission, there is a chance to escape from the Nightmare Room. After a hunter dies, they might have another chance. The difficulty is less than the Nightmare Room so they aren’t afraid to die? If so, doesn’t this make sense?”
Yu Hanjiang was silent for a moment. “Where exactly do the hunters come from and what will be the outcome after death? We can’t confirm this information… unless we also become hunters.”
Lu Jiuchuan raised an eyebrow. “Don’t say unless. We must never become hunters.”
There was sudden silence in the cockpit.
Xiao Lou changed the subject in order to ease the atmosphere. “Well, let’s think about what to do after arriving at Capital Star. There are still the 2nd and 3rd Xiao Lou at the palace. The Noah’s Ark plan was initiated by the emperor while General Lin and Lin Yan are determined to be clones. How do we take care of these people?”
Chu Huaying wondered, “We can’t kill all of them, right?”
Lu Jiuchuan shook his head and rejected the idea. “Several of them have lived in Capital Star for 20 years and have developed self-awareness. They are different from the clones in the laboratory. If we could clear the instance by simply killing them, this secret room would be meaningless. Huaying’s ability means it would be easy to kill a few people when using the invisibility cloak to hide.”
Chu Huaying shrugged. “So what do you think?”
Lu Jiuchuan also didn’t have a clear idea. He just thought that the way to clear the instance wasn’t as simple as killing the clone. He had to look at Xiao Lou, asking with a smile, “Professor Xiao, what do you think?”
Xiao Lou calmly analyzed it. “The theme of this secret room is the Noah’s Ark cloning project. We have investigated it until now, gained all the relevant information of the plan, identified all the participants and found the two cloning laboratories among the merpeople and the bugs respectively.
“On the merpeople’s side, we destroyed the laboratory and let the mermaid princess Liu Qiao succeed the throne. On the side of the empire, what we have to do is destroy all the data related to the experiment and get rid of the influence of the two copied crown princes and the clone General Lin. I am the genuine prince and should inherit the throne. Do you think this idea is correct?”
Everyone heard this and nodded. They agreed with Xiao Lou’s viewpoint.
Yu Hanjiang added, “The difficulty is that the 2nd Xiao Lou has self-awareness and thinks he is the real crown prince. The clone General Lin has been active for 20 years and has long been able to pretend to be the real one. He is highly powerful in the army and is Brother Jiu’s direct boss and the commander-in-chief of the southern military region. Few people will probably believe us if the identities of these people are exposed.”
Xiao Lou nodded. “That’s right. The second clone in the palace attended the engagement and 25th birthday party. He appeared in public and shook hands with many officials. I am the real prince but I didn’t attend these two events. If the emperor wants to treat the 2nd clone as the genuine crown prince, how can I prove myself?”
The clones looked exactly the same as him and it was difficult for others to distinguish who was real and who was false. At this time, the emperor’s words could determine Xiao Lou’s life or death. Who would dare to refute it if the emperor said Xiao Lou was a fake?
The only one who could prove that Xiao Lou was the real crown prince was his sister, Princess Xiao Rou.
Yu Hanjiang said, “I remember that when you left Azure Planet, Xiao Rou told you that she would be willing to help if you need to prove you are the real prince one day. Prince Herman might be watching her but she is very clever and has Dr Edwin helping her. Maybe she can make an excuse to leave the palace?”
Xiao Lou’s eyes brightened. “If I remember correctly, the crown prince and Lin Yan are engaged right? Their biological age is currently 25 years old. If the crown prince wants to participate in politics, it is a good choice to get married first.”
Yu Hanjiang was startled. “You mean, the clone of the crown prince and the clone Lin Yan are likely to get married in the near future?”
Xiao Lou nodded. “Judging from the reactions of Qu Wanyue and Long Sen, the emperor didn’t send anyone to find me after we left the palace. He directly let the second clone live in the Twin Palaces and meet with Lin Yan frequently to grow their feelings. Obviously, he wants to arrange for the second clone to replace me. Then isn’t it logical to let the second clone marry Lin Yan?”
Ye Qi couldn’t help saying, “Once they get married, things will be even more unclear! The crown prince is false and the crown princess is also false. Meanwhile, the Xiao Lou who has never seen the crown princess is the real person? No one would believe it.”
Xiao Lou said, “That’s why we have to hurry up. Currently, the biggest hope is the still alive Zhang Shaohua. She has been pretending to be crazy for so many years and must have her own ideas. She is an insider of the Noah’s Ark project and can prove that her husband, General Lin and her daughter, Lin Yan are both clones.”
Shao Qingge interjected. “Qu Wanyue hasn’t contacted me for the past two days. Do you want me to contact her now and ask about the situation of Professor Zhang?”
Xiao Lou nodded. “Send her a message. Let her call us back when it is convenient for her.”
Currently, it was 2 o’clock in the morning. Shao Qingge sent a message to Qu Wanyue with Xiao Lou’s words. Unexpectedly, Qu Wanyue wasn’t asleep. She quickly responded to the message and requested a call.
Shao Qingge picked up.
In the video, Qu Wanyue was sitting in her bedroom at home. She wasn’t wearing pajamas but convenient sportswear. As soon as she saw her teammates, she anxiously said, “Professor Xiao, where are all of you? You have to come back as soon as possible! The emperor is going to hold a secret wedding for the crown prince and Miss Lin on the 1st of the next month!”
Professor Xiao was really a god’s prophet. He actually guessed this.
Xiao Lou told her, “We are on the way back. How is Zhang Shaohua’s side?”
Qu Wanyue answered, “She is still the same. Her eyes are dull every day as she sits on the wheelchair to bask in the sunlight. I also found out from Lin Yan that she is going to be officially married to the crown prince. She happily shared the good news with her mother when she came home today but Zhang Shaohua didn’t show any emotions after hearing the news.”
Xiao Lou looked at Yu Hanjiang. “The 1st of next month. This means we only have three days.”
Yu Hanjiang’s expression was heavy. “Let the clone Xiao Lou and clone Lin Yan get married. Then announce that the crown prince is married and take the crown prince to attend various meetings. This way, the clone can completely replace you. His wife Lin Yan and his father-in-law, Lin Zecheng are on his side. You will have no chance of winning.”
Xiao Lou smiled bitterly. “Is the emperor’s intention to make me give up and stop appearing in front of him? The best successor he chose from the Gu raising plan is number 2?”
“There is also the always submissive number 3 whose role is unknown…” Yu Hanjiang looked at Xiao Lou. “We have to hurry to contact your sister so she can prove your identity. We also need to have Zhang Shaohua come forward to prove this crazy plan.”
He paused and his eyes softened. “You are the only crown prince. No one can replace you.”
Xiao Lou nodded at him and turned to Qu Wanyue. “Teacher Qu, please keep an eye on Zhang Shaohua. We will soon reach Capital Star. Then you will directly pull us over using the Peach Blossom Spring.”
Qu Wanyue simply answered, “Okay, I’ll be waiting for your news.”
Xiao Lou cut off the call and turned to the console, setting the destination to Azure Planet. “We have to go back and bring my sister, the key witness.”
Spirit Fox turned 180 degrees and flew toward Azure Planet.
An hour later, the mecha arrived near Azure Planet.
Shao Qingge and Ye Qi were the only ones who could pass through the security check of the space station. The two of them pretended to have missed the last passenger spacecraft and returned to Azure Planet from the space station.
Shao Qingge drove the suspension car directly to the palace. Once he was within 10 kilometers of the palace, he pressed on the voice earpiece and spoke softly to Xiao Rou, “Princess, this is Shao Qingge, Xiao Lou’s friend.”
Xiao Rou was slightly taken aback when she heard this “Mr Shao? What is going on?”
Shao Qingge explained, “The emperor is going to have the clones of Xiao Lou and Lin Yan get married to officially replace your brother. Currently, you are the only one who can prove he is the real crown prince. Therefore, Xiao Lou asked me to invite you to the empire to attend this wedding.”
Xiao Rou seemed a bit embarrassed. “Attending the wedding, this…”
“Or do you want to escape from the palace now and we’ll take you away?”
Xiao Rou was silent for a moment before pressing on the earpiece. “I understand. Don’t worry, I will find a way to return to the empire. As the older sister, I should attend my brother’s wedding. Tell Xiao Lou that he must protect himself and wait for me to come back.”
Shao Qingge said, “Thank you, Princess.”
The two of them returned to the cockpit of Spirit Fox. Xiao Lou was waiting anxiously for the result and sighed with relief when Shao Qingge returned. “My sister said those words so she must have a method. Let’s go back to the empire to talk to Zhang Shaohua.”
Ye Qi was worried. “What if Princess Xiao Rou can’t return?”
Xiao Lou told him, “It doesn’t matter who is real or false. The one that the emperor says is real is real. The princess’ testimony is just the icing on the cake and doesn’t play a key role.”
Then he suddenly asked a question, “What if the emperor also has a clone?”
The teammates were dumbfounded when they heard this.
Xiao Lou said, “The emperor was worried that he would suffer the pain of losing his son and that no one would inherit the throne. He made hundreds of clones of the crown prince to raise a Gu. Would he be so stupid as to not leave himself a way out? He must’ve taken his own cells as well to make a clone. As he gets older, he can replace his organs at any time if they aren’t working properly. Isn’t this why he started the Noah’s Ark project?”
The team members, “……”
Xiao Lou’s words made sense. The emperor was worried that his son would die. Then was he not worried about his own assassination? He helped make clones for his son. It didn’t make sense that he wouldn’t have a data backup of himself.
Ye Qi’s eyes lit up. “In other words, it is only by finding the emperor’s clone that we can seize his fate? It is only by cutting off his path of retreat that we can really talk about ending the cloning project?”
Xiao Lou nodded solemnly. “Yes. There were cloning laboratories in the merpeople kingdom and on the bug planet. We haven’t yet found the cloning laboratory in the Locke Empire, the beginning of the story.”
Partially proofread: Paranoid Kitten