After several hours of space travel, the Spirit Fox made two consecutive space jumps and finally arrived at the space station of Capital Star at 5 o’clock in the morning. Shao Qingge used his communicator to send a message to Qu Wanyue.
In order to avoid another version of the Chu Huaying clone incident that almost wiped out the team, they were all more cautious this time. They asked Qu Wanyue to verify her identity before she pulled them over.
Xiao Lou asked, “In which hotel did you marry Long Sen?”
Qu Wanyue replied without thinking, “The ocean-themed wedding hall on the third floor of the Sofitel Hotel in Jiangzhou.”
Shao Qingge smiled and asked another question, “How much does a table cost for a wedding banquet in the Sofitel Hotel?”
Chief Shao’s question was really tricky. The hunters might be able to find out that Long Sen and Qu Wanyue were in a car accident on their way to the wedding and knew the hotel they booked, but they surely wouldn’t have checked the price of the banquet, right?
Those who knew the price were naturally those who ordered a banquet in person.
Qu Wanyue said, “The standard is 3,500 yuan for a table… Chief Shao, have you been there?”
Shao Qingge laughed. “A friend of mine got married in this hotel previously so I know the price. The banquets at this hotel might be a bit expensive but the dishes are good. Once we return to Jiangzhou, invite us to your wedding for a wedding drink.”
The group heard his words and knew that this Qu Wanyue should be real.
Qu Wanyue earnestly replied, “Don’t worry, I have only been in contact with Lin Yan these days. Every time I go out, I use the Chameleon card to prevent people from discovering me. In order to prevent my genes from being taken, I will wear a wig when going out and I don’t dare to leave even a single strand of real hair at Lin Yan’s home.”
Qu Wanyue took note to not even leave behind a strand of hair. She was even more cautious than a spy. Xiao Lou no longer suspected her and said, “We are in the range of Capital Star. Use the Peach Blossom Spring to pull us over.”
Previously when leaving Capital Star, he had left another copy of the Tao Yuanming card with Qu Wanyue to make it more convenient for them to return.
Qu Wanyue opened the Peach Blossom Spring in her own living room. The next moment, she saw her seven teammates appear under the peach blossom trees.
Chu Huaying was a star thief and there was no way for her to go through security, but it was easy to get her there with the Peach Blossom Spring.
Xiao Lou’s eyes swept over his teammates and he quickly arranged the next plan. “Brother Jiu and Mr Tang, return to the Arrow Corps to find out who is participating in the wedding banquet. Disguise as General Lin’s men and mix into the scene of the wedding.”
Then he looked at Chu Huaying. “Huaying, just act together with Brother Jiu. When the time comes, we will meet up with you”
Chu Huaying nodded. “Okay. How will you find the cloning laboratory if Zhang Shaohua refuses to cooperate?”
Yu Hanjiang said softly, “Check the place where the queen was recuperating. 20 years ago, Xiao Rou accompanied her mother to see a doctor and stumbled upon the cloning laboratory. The hospital the queen was visiting must have a problem.”
Xiao Lou heard these words and a trace of doubt flashed in his mind.
Why did he always feel that something was wrong?
Why did Xiao Rou happen to find the cloning laboratory and see the hundreds of identical Xiao Lous?
In the afternoon, Qu Wanyue invited Lin Yan to have afternoon tea with her. She used the Thumbelina card to bring Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang in her pocket.
Qu Wanyue was nominally Lin Yan’s dance teacher but the two of them had a good relationship in private. They were teacher and student as well as friends. Lin Yan looked radiant and seemed to be in a particularly good mood. She wore a huge diamond ring on her hand that shone brightly.
Qu Wanyue said sincerely, “In two days, you will be officially married. Lin Yan, congratulations on getting what you want.”
Lin Yan blushed. “Thank you, Teacher.”
Qu Wanyue wondered, “Will you be going to the palace to live after you get married?”
“Yes, His Highness is letting me move directly into the Twin Palaces.”
Xiao Lou frowned when he heard this from inside the pocket. This Lin Yan really liked the clone of the crown prince. He felt sorry for her. She probably didn’t know anything and even the fact that she was a clone was kept in the dark.
Qu Wanyue and Lin Yan chatted while drinking tea under the tree. Meanwhile, Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang sneaked out of the pocket and flew directly to Zhang Shaohua’s room using the light footwork card. From Qu Wanyue’s perspective, it was like two small mosquitoes flying past and Lin Yan didn’t notice any abnormalities.
Zhang Shaohua was sitting on the balcony in the sunlight. She didn’t look old but her eyes were dull. She stared blankly ahead and it wasn’t known what she was thinking.
Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang landed on her shoulder.
Her eyelashes trembled slightly, as if she noticed something, but she didn’t say anything.
Xiao Lou spoke into her ear, “Professor Zhang, do you remember the Noah’s Ark project?”
Zhang Shaohua looked forward without squinting but she gently clenched her fingers on her knees.
Xiao Lou continued, “We have found the whereabouts of your husband, General Lin Zecheng, your daughter Lin Yan, your mentor Professor Palmer and your colleagues Professor Zhu Xingchen and Professor Qin Rong.”
Zhang Shaohua’s fingers clenched harder and her lips trembled. “Who are you?”
“If you want to know the details, follow me to a place at midnight tonight.”
Then Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang flew back to Qu Wanyue’s pocket.
They weren’t sure how much surveillance there was on Zhang Shaohua and it wasn’t appropriate to chat here. After midnight, the cooldown of all skills was over. The best place to talk was naturally the Peach Blossom Spring where no one could enter without Xiao Lou’s permission.
Qu Wanyue noticed that the two of them were back in her pocket so she stood up and said goodbye. “Miss Lin, I have something to do so I won’t bother you any longer.”
“Teacher Qu, I will send you off.”
Lin Yan sent her teacher out of the house. Then she turned back to the villa and saw Zhang Shaohua pushing out her wheelchair, face pale like she had seen a ghost. Lin Yan walked up to her in a worried manner and gently held her hand. “Mom, what’s wrong? Why are your hands so cold? It is windy outside. Go back and rest.”
Zhang Shaohua’s eyes were blank and she remained indifferent to the concern of her ‘daughter’ in front of her.
Xiao Lou saw this and sighed. “Lin Yan is really concerned about her mother but in Zhang Shaohua’s eyes, she will always be a fake.”
What was Lin Yan’s existence? This girl was perhaps destined for tragedy since she was created.
This was because she was a clone.
Shortly after midnight, Xiao Lou sneaked into Zhang Shaohua’s residence with the Chameleon card and pulled her into the Peach Blossom Spring.
Zhang Shaohua stared at the peach blossom trees in front of her with a hint of surprise. Then she quickly calmed down and asked eagerly, “You found my husband and daughter? Where are they?”
Sure enough, it was all a pretense. Now she couldn’t pretend any longer after hearing news about her husband and daughter.
Yu Hanjiang came out from behind a tree and handed her two hand bones. “We found a sunken starship in the deep sea of Azure Planet. It was the Egret Starship that escaped from Capital Star. I have the bones of General Lin and Lin Yan. I also found the bones of your mentor Professor Palmer and Professors Qin Rong and Zhu Xingchen.”
Yu Hanjiang spread out the bones of the dead in front of her. “There are also your bones. Of course, it isn’t you but the clone you arranged to confuse people.”
Zhang Shaohua, “……”
Xiao Lou saw the disbelief on her face and simply took out the printed gene sequence. “These are all the genetic fragments extracted from the bones. We have compared it with the data in the Imperial Gene Bank and have confirmed that the bones found in the deep sea shipwreck are exactly the same as those of your husband, daughter, mentor and colleagues.”
The woman in front of him looked at the genetic comparison report and her body trembled violently. Her face was white. She had been waiting for good news about these people only to hear about the death of her loved ones.
The faith that kept her waiting for 20 years completely collapsed at this moment.
She couldn’t even stand firmly and her pale fingers forcefully held the peach blossom tree beside her as support. She took deep breaths repeatedly to keep herself calm before staring at Xiao Lou with red eyes. “This is… is it true? Are they really dead?”
Xiao Lou nodded. “Unfortunately, the entire Egret Starship sank into the deep sea.”
Zhang Shaohua suddenly laughed. She laughed for a while before crouching under the tree and crying bitterly.
After 20 years of waiting, this was the result… she had expected it but it was too hard to accept!
Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang waited for her to vent her emotions.
A long time passed before she controlled her expression and looked up. “Are you the crown prince?”
Xiao Lou was a bit surprised. “Have you seen me?”
“I saw you at Lin Yan’s engagement banquet… no, it wasn’t you…” She shook her head and murmured in a low voice, “That man’s smile was much gentler than yours and his voice was softer when talking.”
“The one you saw should be clone number 2.” Yu Hanjiang explained lightly. “The one in front of you is the real crown prince.”
“……” Zhang Shaohua stared at Xiao Lou’s face. The young man in front of her had calm, dark and clear eyes without a trace of a guilty conscience. He looked at her calmly. Indeed, there were some differences in temperament when looking closely.
Xiao Lou smiled slightly at her. “Professor Zhang, I think you have long realized the danger of the Noah’s Ark project. Now the emperor wants to replace me with the clone. He has already replaced General Lin and Lin Yan. If you hadn’t acted at that time, perhaps even you would’ve been replaced by a clone by now…”
Zhang Shaohua interrupted him. “What do you want?”
Xiao Lou answered. “It depends on Professor Zhang. What do you want to do?”
In the quiet Peach Blossom Spring, pink petals fell. The peach blossoms all over the mountain made the whole world as beautiful as a dream. Zhang Shaohua looked at the petals in the distance and asked with a frown, “What type of ghostly place is this? Can you use illusions?”
Xiao Lou quickly reacted. Apart from the hunters, the natives of the secret room didn’t know about cards. Zhang Shaohua thought he was using illusions to confuse her eyes.
This also proved that Zhang Shaohua was a plot character in the secret room and an important witness.
Yu Hanjiang explained, “His Highness did use some illusions so as to prevent you from being watched. We also relied on these illusions to sneak out of the palace. We went to Azure Planet to investigate and accidentally found the sunken ship in the sea.”
Zhang Shaohua looked at Yu Hanjiang in shock. “You… the captain of the royal guards actually escaped from the palace with the crown prince to investigate the so-called truth?”
Yu Hanjiang nodded. “We would’ve only fallen into a passive state if we stayed in the palace. That’s why we ventured out of the palace. We found the bugs and we also found the deep sea merpeople. The Noah’s Ark project has been upgraded many times and now the clones researched by the alien creatures is version 3.0. They have the genes of three races fused together and they even have their actions controlled by smart chips.”
Xiao Lou continued, “Professor Zhang, the Noah’s Ark project was wrong from the beginning and we can’t let it continue. Do you want the clone to continue to use the face of your daughter Lin Yan? Do you want the version 3.0 clones controlled by the smart chips to run rampant in this world and squeeze out the human race?”
Yu Hanjiang said, “In the cloning workshop, a streamlined production has already begun. Hundreds of Xiao Lous can be produced in one day.”
Hearing this, Zhang Shaohua’s body trembled violently. Her face was full of remorse as her red eyes stared at the ground. Then she collapsed and hugged herself, so agitated that she was incoherent. “I’m sorry Yan Yan, I’m sorry Ah Cheng! Yes, I killed my husband and my daughter! I shouldn’t have believed the nonsense of those people!”
In the video material left behind about the first cloning project, General Lin was originally opposed to it but Zhang Shaohua strongly agreed with her mentor’s proposal. She insisted on not letting the clones enter society. They would stay as data backups hidden in the laboratory…
Who would’ve thought that this plan would deviate from the original intention and become so crazy?
Zhang Shaohua’s voice was choked up. “20 years ago, I noticed that His Majesty took the cloned children for a ‘fair competition’ to select the best children to stay while killing the rest. It was only at this time that I found the project had long been out of our control. However, I couldn’t do anything. I could only inform my husband as soon as possible…”
Xiao Lou wondered, “You had your clone follow your husband away from Capital Star while you stayed. Why did you do this?”
Zhang Shaohua lowered her head and gritted her teeth. “I have all the information on the Noah’s Ark plan. I was worried that if the plan failed, at least I would have a backup here. If we act separately, at least one person can save the data. I made an agreement with him that one day, we must reveal the truth and never let the clones rule this nation!”
Yu Hanjiang asked sharply, “The plan failed? What was General Lin trying to do when he escaped Capital Star with the information?”
Zhang Shaohua wondered, “Didn’t you go to Azure Planet to investigate? Didn’t you find out?”
Xiao Lou, “……”
Previously, he always felt that something was wrong. Now he finally figured it out. He had missed one of the most critical suspects.
Proofreader: Paranoid Kitten & Fictional Reality