1471 Forced Marriage

    Jiang Fei's heart thumped loudly, he could feel it ringing in his ears. Besides the fact that he was on a planet called Alderaan, he had no idea where he was.

    Right now, of all the uncertainties that constantly eluded him, the worst one was the mysterious deeds that his Umbral version wanted him to do. Since there was no way to predict when or where the Umbral would take over his body, Jiang Fei made sure that 0541 would question his alter ego as much as possible, whenever he resurfaced again.

    Taking to the unfamiliar streets, Jiang Fei pulled the collar of his shirt higher to cover his face. As he walked aimlessly, he found himself in the middle of a very busy street. It looked very much like a wet market, except no one was selling raw poultry, and all the buildings were built with futuristic alien tech.

    "Have you heard about what happened to the ice queen?"

    "What about it? I don't give a damn about her."

    "I heard that Miss Aurelia is being forced to marry someone!"

    "How about that! The almighty Aurelia is actually being forced to marry someone? Who could have dared to do that when she has Lord Quezon?!"

    "Tsk. What do you know about politics? In a world where the strong rule and the weak kowtow, women will always be the scapegoat when something goes wrong!"


    "Bear with me, for this will be long. Okay, so... apparently Miss Aurelia has never once lost a fight. And with the blessing of Lord Quezon, no one dares to step over her head or even stand by her side. So, about a week ago, she lost a war somewhere in a galaxy far, far away, and the Victors drilled her about it. That family started to dismiss her past achievements. That's when things got complicated. Lord Quezon did not want to be on the receiving end of a nasty lashing from the Victors. Thus, he sacrificed Aurelia, and let her be wedded to someone from the Victor family. That's the gist of it."

    "Shoot! Now I feel bad for the woman."

    "The feeling is mutual. How could Miss Aurelia agree to let herself be married into a wretched family like the Victors? Gah! She would be better off with someone else! Bah. There's nothing we can do, when even she can't get herself out of this. I guess, that's the fate of one born into those 'sacrilegious' families."


    "Did you get that?" asked Jiang Fei.

    "I did."

    Hearing the word on the street about Aurelia, Jiang Fei and 0541 learned a thing or two about what was happening to her.

    "So, she's being thrown under the bus..." said Jiang Fei. After thinking for a short while, he shrugged. "Not my problem. What does he want me to do about the matter anyway?"

    "Captain, remember what your alter ego said. If you don't take care of things, he will take care of your 'junk'."

    "Dammit! I'm warning you, 0541. Do not ever bring this up when the girls are around! Especially not in front of Isabella!" Jiang Fei barked.

    He remembered what his alter ego said, and even though it was meant for him, such a message must never be heard by anyone else!

    "Calm down. I would never do anything that puts you in harm's way!" said 0541.

    If he owned a body, he would have rolled his eyes hard and scoffed exasperatedly.

    Jiang Fei frowned. "What can I do now? What are my options? Do I wait here for the 'other me' to return? Or can I go home now?"

    "I suggest you follow up on what the 'other you' did."


    "Your alter ego may be suspicious in every way, but based on his actions, he has not done anything that would bring you harm. In fact, it's the opposite. I think that it's better for you to not go against his will. Even if you go back to Turandot, who's to say that he won't forcefully take over your body again and return here? At the very least, he's still been willingly relinquishing control of your body. What happens if he decides to do something else?"

    Jiang Fei gritted his teeth. So far, the Umbral always took over his body when his emotions got out of hand. As a matter of fact, he hadn't been able to resist it at all, not even once. If the Umbral wanted to take over his body and do something that Jiang Fei would regret for the rest of his life, there was nothing he could do to stop it.

    In the end, Jiang Fei decided to go along with his alter ego's plan. Gathering his courage, he approached the two locals.

    "Excuse me, fellow gentlemen. I couldn't help overhearing your conversation about Miss Aurelia. If you would be so kind, could you elaborate on that topic? I'm a little behind on that sort of thing."

    "That is none of your business!" said the taller, skinnier one.

    Jiang Fei lowered his head. "My apologies. I was merely curious."

    "It's fine. I don't mind telling you at all!" said the shorter, fatter one who was being extremely friendly.

    "Thank you!"

    The shorter fellow spoke with vigor, "I'm going to assume that you know about Miss Aurelia. I mean... who doesn't? Now, here is a fact that isn't widely known. It's about the Victors. That family is nothing but a vile, good-for-nothing, brain-lacking, **e-speaking, crap of a family! They expect people to worship them, even though they're the kind of people who would push stool into someone else's face!"

    It was obvious that he didn't like the Victors.

    "Come now. Are they really that bad?" asked Jiang Fei, laughing.

    "Hmm... you're not from around here, are you?" said the fat one.

    Jiang Fei froze immediately, but the fat one continued, "Relax. It's nothing to be ashamed about. Not everyone on this capital planet is here willingly. Besides, not everything about the capital is posh and good."

    Thinking that the fat one had made him, Jiang Fei almost had a heart attack and was prepared to make a run for it. But judging from how the fat one talked, it seemed that most of the locals in the Alderaan Empire's capital planet were proud to live here.

    "Sorry. I wasn't trying to hide it," said Jiang Fei, pretending to play it off.

    "Worry not. I have good eyes in judging people! I can tell that you are one of those honest workers!" replied the fat one with a satisfying smile.

    "Moving on!" Jiang Fei pressed. "What about Victor? Could you tell me why he is so... despicable?"

    Jiang Fei routed the topic back, because if he didn't the fat one would probably go off on a tangent and just talk about himself.

    "Right, right. So, Victor... the son knows nothing but how to trot about proudly. But his grandfather, he started as just a servant who was hired to feed the Emperor's mustangs. So, one day, when the emperor was visiting his stable, one of the horses flew into a fit and galloped towards the emperor to attack. Victor's grandfather gallantly jumped in the way to protect him. You can guess what happened next. As thanks, Victor's grandfather became one of the top officials in the empire!" said the fat one, in a tone that suggested envy.

    "Boy... you said it! He's one lucky bastard! Do continue!" replied Jiang Fei , fanning the flames and insisting that he continue.

    The fat one snorted. "After Victor's grandfather passed, his father replaced him. Victor's father is a man of talent and a priceless asset whom the emperor loved and cherished. Now, here comes Victor. That waste-of-air is the epitome of pride and grandiose. Nothing can please him, and there's nothing he wouldn't dare do. He's the perfect example of a spoiled brat!"

    "So that's the backstory. What happened with Aurelia and how was she forced into a marriage?" asked Jiang Fei.

    The fat one shook his head in disappointment. "Victor got his father to get the emperor's blessing. That, and the fact that Victor's father has been nothing but helpful to Lord Quezon. Long story short, Aurelia is to become a pawn in Victor's game."

    "Perhaps... things can still turn around," said Jiang Fei.

    The tall one interjected loudly, "Turn around? Not possible. The emperor has given his blessing, and none can deny it. The wedding ceremony will be held the day after tomorrow, at the royal palace. The coffin has already been nailed shut, Miss Aurelia is done for."

    The short one snorted again. "What a waste of beauty and talent... it's like throwing away a beautiful flower to a pig!"

    "And the pig is not even a useful one!" added the tall one.

    "Since when are pigs useful?" said Jiang Fei, trying to add the cherry on top of the insults with his joke.

    The conversation was both funny and insightful. For what it's worth, gossiping might have been a necessary tool to extract information.
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