Chapter 66 – The children of Dark Stars
The man was having a hard time accepting this reality and struggled, “Are you kidding me?”
Jian Luo handed the communication device over to him, saying, “You’ll know if you answer it yourself.”
With some hesitation, the man reluctantly accepted the call and cautiously said, “Hello, Mr. Nie?”
Nie Yan replied, “Yes, it’s me, Nie Yan.”
The man’s eyes widened. He had met Nie Yan once, and he would never forget that voice!
How could this be? It shouldn’t be possible. How could this human know Nie Yan? And isn’t Nie Yan known for being a businessman who values worth, what value could this human possibly have?
“I said, did you stain a shirt?” Nie Yan prepared to resolve the matter swiftly. “Tell me the brand, and I’ll have my secretary find it in the warehouse for you.”
The man panicked, “Mr. Nie, I’m Fang Licheng. We worked together last time, and whether it’s about clothes or not, we are friends, right? It’s not that big of a deal.”
Nie Yan tapped his fingers on the table and extended his voice, “Oh? Is that so?”
Fang Licheng continued, “Yes, it’s just a minor misunderstanding.”
“But Luoluo said it doesn’t seem that way,” Nie Yan raised an eyebrow. “You don’t need to force yourself too much. I’ll have someone deliver the clothing to you.”
Fang Licheng’s forehead was covered in sweat. “It’s all just a misunderstanding.”
Nie Yan was a cunning figure in the business world; how could he not understand the situation? Besides, it was an opportunity to make Jian Luo feel better.
“Fang Boss, don’t worry about the misunderstanding between you and me,” Nie Yan said. “Talk to Luoluo and resolve it before we continue our conversation.”
Fang Licheng hurriedly agreed, “Sure, thank you, Mr. Nie!”
The call ended.
Jian Luo and Jian Sheng stood to the side, both waiting for the call to finish so they could discuss compensation. Since the call connected Fang Licheng, Jian Luo didn’t actually get to speak with Nie Yan directly.
After the call, Jian Luo asked him, “What did the boss say?”
Fang Licheng’s attitude had done a complete 180-degree turn. He became polite and approached Jian Luo. “Mr. Jian, I’ve been blind. I didn’t know about your relationship with Mr. Nie. Let’s forget about the clothing; let’s be friends instead.”
Jian Luo had a puzzled look on his face, but he guessed that perhaps the boss had resolved the issue for him. However, his younger brother, Jian Sheng, was still technically responsible for the incident, so he needed to handle it properly.
“This clothing is worth three million on the market,” Jian Luo said. “Please give me your payment code, and I’ll transfer it to you.”
Three million wasn’t a small sum. Jian Luo’s earnings from his live broadcasts for half a year added up to just over three million.
Jian Sheng was a bit shocked and looked at his brother. “Brother…”
“If we make a mistake, we must take responsibility,” Jian Luo patted his brother on the shoulder. “A man should be responsible.”
Fang Licheng was somewhat surprised. “You’re going to compensate?”
Jian Luo nodded and extended his hand to request, “However, I need you to provide the purchase invoice for verification.”
He wanted to be cautious. In the past, when he was a streamer, he encountered various scams and attempts to take advantage of him. So this time, he wanted to be thorough.
But to Jian Luo’s surprise, Fang Licheng appeared hesitant and somewhat guilty. “I’ve already thrown it away. I bought it through a friend, and why would I keep it?”
Jian Luo was puzzled. “From what I read on the official website, there should be an invoice, and it’s electronic. You can request it from customer service if you’ve discarded it.”
Fang Licheng was sweating profusely. “I said, if you don’t compensate, I can’t be bothered with it. I don’t want to deal with the hassle of getting an invoice.”
Jian Luo suddenly felt speechless.
“If not?” Jian Luo offered an alternative. “Perhaps you can send the clothing to us later, and we can try to clean it.”
The crowd of onlookers was growing.
A woman stepped forward and said, “Mr. Jian, I’ve been watching for a while. This clothing is Luke’s summer limited edition. I work in the fashion industry, and this clothing comes with a one-year warranty and specialized cleaning service to prevent dirt. Mr. Fang, you don’t need to help clean it. Instead, you should be thankful that Mr. Jian is willing to compensate.”
The woman chuckled. “Did the salesperson inform you about the cleaning service when you bought it? Or, were you not buying it through official channels?”
Fang Licheng, who had been quite pushy earlier, was now on the defensive. “I, I didn’t know.”
“You said earlier that you bought it through a friend, not from an official store,” the woman smiled. “I happen to know the Luke sales manager. Let me contact them for you.”
Fang Licheng’s face changed drastically, and he loudly interrupted, “No!”
The woman, curious, stared at him, her eyes filled with suspicion. Considering Fang Licheng’s behavior and the comments from those around them, it was clear that something was amiss.
“Did you buy counterfeit goods?”
“Wow, buying counterfeit and making someone pay for the authentic one. How shameless.”
“Talk about losing face for the Dark Star people.”
“Who’s this student’s parent?”
The scattered discussions continued, and Fang Licheng, a man who cared about his reputation, found himself exposed in public. Even his proud daughter looked at him with uncertainty, saying, “Dad?”
Fang Licheng was sweating profusely, feeling utterly embarrassed. In reality, he had bought one of those shirts and sent it to Nie Yan to please him. However, he liked the shirt so much that he purchased a fake one to satisfy his vanity.
He had been cooperating with Nie’s companies for a while, but lately, he had been getting rejected. Today, he was in a bad mood, and when a human approached him, he vented his frustration, but he had never expected to run into someone who wouldn’t back down.
“I have something to attend to,” Fang Licheng wiped his forehead, and then he briskly walked away, saying, “Mr. Jian, let’s meet again next time. I’ll treat you to dinner.”
Jian Luo said, “Uh… you…”
Before he could finish speaking, Fang Licheng had already left.
The onlookers, Dark Star individuals, dispersed as well.
Jian Luo turned to the woman who had spoken earlier and extended his hand, saying, “Thank you for speaking up. I’m Jian Luo, nice to meet you.”
The woman smiled and said, “You’re welcome. I’m one of your fans. I watch all your live broadcasts, and I came out when I heard you speak.”
Jian Luo was pleasantly surprised that one of his fans had come to his aid in person.
The woman added, “But I work in the fashion industry. I happen to know Luke’s sales manager, and I could tell right away that the clothing Mr. Fang had was fake. So, I thought I’d help our brand by speaking up.”
Jian Luo nodded in understanding, “I see.”
After chatting for a while, both of them had to leave for a parent-teacher meeting. Jian Luo briefly explained the situation to his brother and found Jian Sheng’s classroom.
The Dark Star school’s classroom was spacious and well-lit. For the parent-teacher meeting, they had arranged the seats differently, with a sign hanging at the front row that read “Jian Sheng.”
The class teacher, whose surname was Wang, said, “Jian Sheng is our class monitor. He’s very studious and capable. A promising student.”
Jian Sheng interjected, “Did I cause any trouble for you, Mr. Wang?”
The class teacher shook his head, “On the contrary, he’s a bit quiet…”
Jian Luo didn’t pay much attention to the discussions among the parents and the class teacher. He sat in the corner, chatting with Nie Yan via messages.
Nie Yan asked, “Is it your turn for the parent-teacher meeting?”
Jian Luo replied, “I’m here with my mother. It’s a good opportunity to learn about my younger brother’s progress. After all, we’ll have to attend these meetings in the future. When you have children, won’t you find it difficult?”
“It’s hard to say,” Nie Yan replied. “Depending on the circumstances, I might have to.”
Jian Luo continued, “Understanding the current situation should be enough. We can request a report from the school. No need to waste time.”
Nie Yan’s response was straightforward, “Agreed.”
Jian Luo and Nie Yan continued chatting for a while, but then the parent-teacher meeting was about to begin. Jian Luo expected that many parents would be sitting together, but to his surprise, there were only a few parents in the whole classroom, including himself and his friend, Su Liang. The rest of the seats were occupied by children, most of whom were about the same age as Jian Sheng, around ten years old.
Jian Luo glanced around and saw Jian Sheng.
Jian Sheng explained in a hushed voice, “Many Dark Star individuals donate their genes after their death, and the incubation centers raise the children. Most of them are taken care of by robotic caretakers, so many parent-teacher meetings have the students attending in person.”
That explains it.
Jian Luo surveyed the room again, noticing that there were very few parents present. Out of a classroom with about thirty to forty students, only a few parents had shown up. Among them, Jian Luo, Su Liang, and the others were the only adults, while the rest were children of similar ages, around ten years old.
If they were on Earth, most of these children would still be under the care of their parents, but now, it was somewhat tragic to see these kids sitting by themselves, attending the parent-teacher meeting, knowing that they didn’t actually have parents to go home to, just robotic caretakers.
Jian Luo suddenly felt a pang of sadness and averted his gaze, forcing himself not to dwell on it.
The class teacher stood at the front of the room and cleared his throat, “Thank you all for attending the parent-teacher meeting. Today, we’ll summarize the semester’s progress. But before that, let’s have a little game. I’d like each family to create a handmade craft as a memento of this parent-teacher meeting. You’ll have limited paper and half an hour to complete it.”
Jian Luo was quite familiar with this, as he used to be a streamer and had to have some artistic talent.
Paper and crafting materials were distributed, and after the time limit was set, the teacher left.
Jian Luo held the paper and looked at it. Jian Sheng suggested, “Brother, how about we make a paper potato?”
Jian Luo said, “That seems a bit complicated. How about we fold some origami instead?”
This new concept, even Su Liang, had mentioned it. She asked, “Luoluo, what’s origami?”
“Um… let’s fold the paper into shapes we like,” Jian Luo casually took a long strip of paper and, following the steps from his memory, deftly folded it into a small star. He handed it to Su Liang and Jian Sheng, saying, “Like this.”
A little white star lay in their palms, looking very cute.
Jian Sheng opened his mouth wide in amazement, “It’s so pretty! Teach me, Brother.”
“Sure, it’s straightforward,” Jian Luo said. He patiently taught them, “First, you fold this corner, and then…”
In the entire classroom, only the three of them were busy, lively, and accompanied by laughter:
“You can make a wish if you fold many stars.”
“Wow, why can’t I do it?”
“White is too dull; let’s find some colored paper…”
Their interaction was typical of how human families would engage in activities, gathering and chatting while working on a craft. Gradually, Jian Luo noticed an underlying sense of restraint in the classroom. He looked around and saw many children with their heads down, quietly crafting their projects.
It was supposed to be a parent-child game, but most people seemed quite constrained, and there were only a few who had their parents present. Their interactions appeared awkward, as if they were strangers.
Su Liang, who was witnessing this for the first time, asked, “Sheng, is it always like this in your class?”
Jian Luo was curious as well.
“It’s okay, I guess. The first time I saw it, I found it a bit intimidating, but most of the time, it’s like this,” Jian Sheng said, his expression somewhat melancholic. He added, “Brother, I think most Dark Star people feel very restrained.”
Although humans might be noisy, lacking in many aspects, and had their share of shortcomings, their gatherings were lively and spirited, with everyone chattering and creating an atmosphere full of vitality.
Dark Star individuals, on the other hand, were different. They lacked for nothing and had everything, yet they seemed somewhat lifeless. It felt as though the vitality of their entire race was slowly fading away, as if this planet, which had given birth to new life for millennia, was gradually nearing its end.
T/N: Hey there! There is plenty more where that came from, so stay tuned! And stay healthy! Straighten your posture, so some stretches and drink some water before continuing hehe~
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