Translated by JayQue of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Editor: Gwyndolyn, Kris
After a whole series of body checkups, plus waiting for the results, nearly two hours had gone by. Chen Bai didn’t bother Heinz with going back, of course. Even though it was a significant distance from this place to the teacher’s apartment complex, he didn’t drive his own mech because Heinz had insisted on dropping him off in the morning.
“Teacher Chen, go-going back to the apartment?” When Chen Bai came out of the restroom and stood at the door, mulling over how to get home, a voice sounded from beside him.
The voice carried hints of wariness, as though it had hesitated for a long time before deciding to come here. In actuality, he really did hesitate for a long time. It was Carlyle, a new member in the same group as Chen Bai for the upcoming competition and former data analyst for the military.
His mental energy was A-ranked. When he was pacing around and debating on whether or not to come over to greet Chen Bai, the latter had already noticed him. An A-ranked manipulator was honestly too easy for Chen Bai to infiltrate. Plus, the other hadn’t even tried to suppress his fluctuating emotions, so Chen Bai had felt them pretty easily.
“Mn, yes.” Chen Bai nodded, then smiled politely at Carlyle.
Carlyle looked like a clean little boy, with the appearance of a good kid. When he saw Chen Bai giving him a friendly smile, he suddenly felt nervous. That feeling was like a student seeing their teacher, and he smiled shyly at Chen Bai. “I-I saw that you didn’t seem to arrive in your mech. I’m returning to the school as well; do you want to go together?”
In the Alliance, mechs were considered as some of the more top grade modes of transportation because some of them had switching armor features, which required a lot of materials and maintenance. Below mechs were floating cars.
Floating cars also came in various grades, though it was great that almost every single household in the Alliance had one. Carlyle was no exception, and his floating car looked really good, although it greatly surpassed the income of an Aldia teacher.
Thinking about how this little boy who emitted such scholarly air had entered the military at a young age but had also then given up the bright future in the military voluntarily to become a teacher in Aldia, Chen Bai knew that Carlyle’s history was not that simple.
“It’s-it’s just that I wasn’t in the academy for long as well… so it’s my first time participating in competitions in groups. If I-I make any mistakes during it, I hope Teacher Chen can give me some pointers.” Carlyle was clearly not someone who was overly set on formalities, as the blond boy with green eyes blushed and went straight to the point not long after he started driving the floating car.
A psychological manipulator like Chen Bai could easily tell if a person’s shyness was real or fake. He knew the young man was asking him sincerely, and he thought that this kind of sincere asking for help was pretty cute.
“It’s also my first time participating. If we’re talking about our time in the academy, then I entered even later than you,” Chen Bai replied with a gentle voice, “If we’re giving pointers it should be Teacher Carlyle giving me pointers, right?”
As though hearing this kind of praise for the first time, Carlyle’s face turned beet red, and he hurriedly flailed his hands and shook his head. “No no no, Tea-Teacher Chen, you’re much better than me. This-this has nothing to do with the amount of time we have taught. An outstanding person will be outstanding anywhere; I can tell.”
Chen Bai’s voice was always melodious. Because this young man was quite cute, he purposely softened his voice even more to elicit pleasant feelings in the other. In combination with his friendly attitude, Carlyle treated him like a friend in no time.
The two talked like this throughout their journey, Carlyle getting more and more excited as they spoke, until everything about himself was told. That’s why when they reached the teachers’ apartment, Chen Bai already knew that Carlyle was a child of a wealthy businessman and had always dreamt of joining the military. But after he did join, he decided that that place wasn’t really suited for him.
The heavy workload and pressure from the job had actually made him lose interest in his research in computing, so he had quit to become a teacher at Aldia.
But after talking about joining Aldia’s staff, Carlyle’s expression didn’t look too good. Referring to the face he made when talking about how the military’s atmosphere is bad, it seemed like he still felt the atmosphere here in Aldia was equally bad as well.
In the beginning, Chen Bai went into Aldia to become a teacher to find out Berkeley’s access within the students of Aldia. The newly appointed headmaster of Aldia, Tan Jingshu, had also felt that something was going on within Aldia but couldn’t figure it out due to various reasons. Drawing on past sentiments, he had agreed to cooperate with Chen Bai and had let him into the academy as a teacher in the face of a storm.
After that, Chen Bai’s reason for participating in the competition had an important goal, which was to get in contact with more teachers. If he could get in contact with a large number of people, with his awareness, he could definitely sense the problem occurring within Aldia.
After conversing with Carlyle for the whole journey, Chen Bai discovered that this goal could maybe be accomplished a step early.
Thus, after arriving at the teachers’ apartment complex, Chen Bai warmly invited Carlyle upstairs.
“Oh my god, this is too perfect!”
Carlyle was an absolute fan of computing. In this area, Mani’s accomplishments were far above his, even more outstanding than Chen Bai’s. And Chen Bai was usually deep in his own thoughts, where his emotions barely showed on his face, so Mani could rarely show off his accomplishments to anyone.
Now that there was an audience who readily praised him, Mani instantly got excited and took out all kinds of interesting bits of research for Carlyle to see.
Of course, Mani might be young, but he still grew up in Berkeley right by Chen Bai’s side. So the things he took out wouldn’t arouse Carlyle’s suspicion.
The two of them became very invested in the conversation. Though their age difference was wide, their personalities had shortened the distance between them. In no time, they became friends who talked about everything. Seeing Carlyle asking Mani a lot of questions, and the latter showing him delightedly, along with Carlyle’s expression that looked like one of a die-hard fan, Chen Bai cut up a platter of fruit and put it in front of the two.
“Oh my god, that’s so unbelievable!” Carlyle’s emotions climbed higher and higher, especially after Chen Bai entered the room. His heightened emotions hadn’t fallen down even once. Looking again at the virus program Mani had made, Carlyle’s eyes were as bright as ever. “M-Mr. Mani, if you come to Aldia… no no no, wherever you go, even if it’s the military, you’ll be a one of a kind talent!”
“That’s so bland.” Mani shrugged. “Plus, that military’s system of yours, I can break through it in no time.”
Looking at Carlyle’s widened eyes and that shocked speechless expression, Chen Bai laughed from the side, “You should have a limit to your boasting.”
Though he said it like that, Chen Bai knew in reality, Mani could do it. He was just reminding Mani to have a little more restraint.
“The mil-military’s system is still pretty amazing, I don’t believe… But you’re still amazing! This ICT-virus is just like god’s work. If a tiny little thing like that sneaks into another’s system, it could easily reside there and wait for the command to break out. If the infiltrated system isn’t thoroughly checked from time to time, it won’t ever be discovered. Heavens…”
Seeing Carlyle’s astonished and speechless expression, Chen Bai said, “Not really. The students in our academy are great; there will definitely be many more outstanding people who are better than him in the future.”
Carlyle wanted to agree instinctively. No matter what, Aldia was still the cradle of all the elite talents in the whole of the Alliance. Undoubtedly, there would be many geniuses.
But one second after Carlyle instinctively agreed, he seemed to remember something. His facial expression suddenly changed, and his mood instantly dropped.
This was a fellow who could easily express his emotions on his face. Especially after all this time, Carlyle already saw Chen Bai and Mani as his friends. So, he didn’t put up his guard and let them see his expressions freely.
But clearly, the thing that had caused the sudden change in Carlyle couldn’t just be simply explained even to his friends.
After that, Carlyle’s mood fell. Though he tried to muster up the spirit to play with Chen Bai and Mani, he left Chen Bai’s apartment with an excuse after a short while.
“You want to start from him?” After Carlyle left, Mani asked as he leaned back in a chair.
Chen Bai sipped some red tea, then smiled, “Mn, looks like a good place to start. Later, I’ll be in the same group as him in the Teacher’s Competition. He’ll give me clues as we bond.”
“Speaking of the competition… How much of your strength are you going to use? Recently, there have been a lot of discussions about you. Should I help you set the rhythm?”
Chen Bai needed a certain amount of fame and money. It was one of the reasons why he chose to become Heinz’ partner after coming back to Venus. A person without any fame or capabilities would not be able to poke a hole in an organization such as Berkeley.
“No need; just monitor it. I have my own limits.” Chen Bai shook his head, then as though remembering something, he added, “I told you a while back that I saw Black at the Stone Recognition Competition. He probably was suspicious ever since Ellie’s banquet. This time, he might try to find ways to contact you to confirm it. Any news?”
If it were anyone else, it was likely they would wonder if the military had also utilized brain region manipulation at Ellie’s banquet. Since Heinz was also involved, no one would suddenly point to the newly wedded, cursed-by-everyone spouse as the one who had organized everything in the dark. Plus, Chen Bai had made sure everything was perfect from long ago. In fact, Berkeley had just fished out his ‘corpse’ from the Pisaka area two years ago.
Searching for him continuously for a year without giving up proved Berkeley’s determination.
So, other people probably would not think of him who had ‘died,’ but Black was different.
Black was part of his team. Including Mani, Chen Bai’s team had a total of five people, all of which were his brothers in life and death. Each and every one of them understood each other very well. Since he was the team leader, the core of the team, everyone was extremely familiar with Chen Bai’s usual style of work.
In addition to seeing Black on the upper floors when they were escaping, Chen Bai was almost certain that Black already knew what had happened to him.
If Black knew, he would definitely contact him at once. Berkeley’s inner members have a brain region examination at regular intervals. If any traces of Chen Bai were found in the other’s brain region, it would easily arouse Berkeley’s suspicion.
In other words, if Black was still loyal to him, he would definitely contact him and try to cooperate on the next steps of the plan. And if Black’s thoughts had changed…
With a brotherhood formed over years of licking blood off of blades¹, Chen Bai would only think that way if he was out of all options.
“Not yet.” Reminded of this, Mani’s expression turned slightly solemn, as he knew the connection between them.
Chen Bai furrowed his brow. It had already been three days since then, and Berkeley’s fixed examinations were held once every three months for top agents. But on that day, he had seen that Black’s neck was crossed with red, a mark for one who had fallen to the very bottom and will never be able to climb up the ranks again.
Which meant, Black’s examination in Berkeley was now once every five days.
“There’s two more days.” Chen Bai pinched his nose. Just as he was about to say something, a notification sounded from his mailbox.
It was Heinz.
[Honey, I’ll pick you up for dinner later. Where are you?]
 Licking blood off of blades: something evildoers/sadists do