1 A Strange Circumstance

Somewhere—

The winding state highway stretched westwards with its back towards the city's lights. Meanwhile, an undeveloped piece of forest waited for visitors further up the road. Continuing beyond even the county border, the state highway silently meandered on.

Although there were two lanes on the road, no crossing cars could be seen even with the sparse street lights. The state highway in the dead of night seemed to fade from memory and into the silence.

On such a silent night, a blue beast flew by.

The Bugatti La Voiture Noire. The flowing, elegant, streamlined body with a sense of modernity resembled a noble lady, while the roaring of the W16 engine was like that of a fierce beast. And behind the steering wheel of the sports coupe recklessly going beyond 100 kilometers per hour—were the hands of the man.

Inside one of the most expensive sports cars in the world was an integrated computer interface, ringing as it tries to reach the man who is driving daringly on the road.

He received the call and the man started speaking.

"Did you figured it out?" he asked simply, his eyes fixed on the road.

"Yes sir, according to the throttle diagnostic we have conducted earlier, the valve system is destroying your engine's throttle ratio…which got me, confused sir, our engineers advised us to put that in to protect against standard instability below 60% of thrust."

"Come on, Derek. There won't be any instability and I can fix it; just let me undo what those engineers did and run some tests. Also, did you receive my mail regarding the correct specifications of the valves? I want it delivered to the lab tomorrow.

"Is this it, sir?"

A screen display was prompted on his car's main screen. Thomas glanced at it momentarily and shifted his eyes back to the road.

"That's it, prepare it now."

"Understood sir."

"I'm on my way to the HQ, see you when I arrive."

"Wait…sir, you're really going? This late at night?"

"Yes, and when I get there, make sure everything is ready. we don't want to waste any more time on unwanted delays. NASA is getting impatient so we must work fast or we'll lose the billion-dollar contract."

"Ye...Yes sir!"

The call ended. Thomas tightly gripped the wheel, displeased at his subordinates' mistake.

"When will those pricks learn how to properly listen to me? I'm the boss for heaven's sake. Who do they think made the Harrier Industries to where it is now huh? I should be in my house enjoying a lone quiet life but here I am heading to the lab to fix the billion-dollar mistake. Ah...those stupid board members," Thomas clicked his tongue, venting out the frustration he had accumulated from running the company ever since his succession.

For over fifteen years since he inherited the Harrier Industries, Harrier has been working hard to put his company on top by inventing new technologies, innovating rocketry, and providing arms to countries such as the United States, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and the list could go on.

But before he became the CEO and the richest man on Earth, Thomas was a peerless genius, having an IQ of 170, he has mastery over the field of engineering and medicine. He also has two Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. With his efforts, he is now on top of the society where he now lives in sumptuous life and have his people work hard for him to generate him more money.

But his complacency and recent negligence of the company is causing the stocks to plummet, which is bad for a company. So he decided to go to the headquarters for inspection and a little bit scolding for his staff. After all, they were paid to do one job, and they failed miserably.

The beast roared as Thomas maintained the speed above 100 kilometers per hour on a serpentine road. Since no cars are using this highway at this hour, he is free to do whatever he wants.

Until—

In the distance - a flash of light. Thomas started awake and turned his head to face the other way. A truck suddenly appeared, a luminous headlight blinded him, disorienting him.

He jerked the wheel to the left to avoid colliding with the truck but ended up overcorrecting and careering into the railings.

"Shit!" Thomas cursed as his sports car crashed on the railing and fell into the cliffs along with him.

Thomas saw the world spinning outside the car windows, and felt the sickening sensation of falling at high speed akin to an aircraft doing a nosedive.

A feeling of weightlessness and the ground coming into view highlighted by the headlights made him realize, he was falling into his death.

The raging sound of the engine echoed in the air, prolonging Thomas's scream stifled by an incessant crashing and banging noise.

The car landed, and the impact squashed the car's front, engulfing everything within.

And at that moment, Thomas Harrier, the CEO of Harrier Industries died in a car accident.

...

The swirling mist of Thomas Harrier's consciousness was pulled up from the depths by a tender touch. Specifically, the feel of a damp cloth wiping his forehead. A sweet floral smell danced through his nose and along his nerves, pulling him out of oblivion. He slowly opened his eyelids. His blue eyes began taking in the world around him.

The first thing he saw was a gilded ceiling. The second was a beautiful girl dazzling enough that he could take her out with perfect clarity despite his bleary vision. He wanted to reach up and wipe the sleep from his eyes, but he couldn't; his arms felt as if they'd been strapped to his sides.

The girl met his gaze, her eyes soft and blue as sapphire. She smiled down at him, her lips full and pink, her cheeks dimpled. Her skin was creamy white with a dusting of freckles across the bridge of her nose, and her eyes were ringed with thick lashes that fluttered closed as she sighed softly.

She was dressed in a mainly ornate white dress. An outfit that gives off an impression of a princess. She gently wiped his forehead with a damp cloth.

"Oh...!"

Their eyes locked.

"You're awake? Oh, thank goodness."

As she spoke, a relieved smile spread across her youthful face.

It was lovely...and her silver hair cascaded down her back, and danced in the flickering light of the hearth. His eyes wandered to the rest of her. She had a slender neck and a slim figure with the curves of her body accentuated by her white dress.

She's beautiful. He thought.

But more importantly, who was she anyway? She wasn't anyone he recognized. And also, what was he doing...wherever it was he was? Why was he lying down? And why does this place looks regal? His memories were all jumbled up.

Uhm...where am...? Agh..!"

But when he tried to sit up and voice his confusion, a sharp, burning pain ran through his entire body, like his bones were being reborn. His body was hot, he felt like he was on fire.

"Oh! You mustn't! You're badly injured. You need to rest!"

Badly injured? Thomas realized something that made him remember what happened to him.

He was on his way to his main headquarters when a truck suddenly appeared from the next sharp turn. He tried to avoid colliding with it but ended up in futility. He fell into the cliff and that was the last thing he can remember.

The moment he remembered, Thomas immediately ignored the pain burning through his body, wrenched himself up, and firmly grabbed the girl's slim shoulders.

"Uhm...where am I! Where is this place?"

He had to ask, the place around him doesn't look like a hospital, and also the girl attending him doesn't look like a doctor. And most importantly, with his speed back then, which was over 100 kilometers per hour. It happened too fast but he's certain that no human being would survive that crash.

Initially, the girl had been confused by the man who had yelled at her. She couldn't understand why. But she quickly gave him a soft smile to set his heart at ease.

"Don't worry, Brother you're in the palace, your room. I'm just here visiting you to see your condition..." She twirled a strand of her hair while she answered him. She continued this time in a softer tone. "Though...I've been visiting you here ever since the tragic accident."

"My residence...?" Thomas released her from his tightened grasp as he widened his eyes and studied the room he was in.

This is surely not his residence. It didn't even resemble the interior design of the house he originally knew of. A plush Baroque bedroom, marbled walls, gilded ceiling, and a colossal mahogany four-poster bed. This was certainly not his place as he was a man of simplicity. And everything around the room radiates lavishness which is not his style. With those sensory details, Thomas deduced that this is not his room.

That's not all, the girl beside him, addressed him as a brother? Does he have a sibling? As far as he can tell from his photographic memory, there's none. After all, he's the only child in his family.

"Uhm...what are you talking about? I'm not your..."

Before he could finish his sentence, Thomas suddenly felt a sharp pain inside his skull, like it was being drilled from both sides.

"Brother?!"

The girl that was watching over him saw him wincing in pain. With a worried look, she reached her hand out and caressed his back concerningly.

"Brother...are you okay? Do you want me to call the doctor?"

Thomas didn't answer, more like he couldn't. The agonizing pain tormenting his head prevented him from giving a response.

With both hands clutched at his temple, Thomas endured the pain until who knows when.

"Argh..."

Within those moments, Thomas began to notice something messing up his memories.

They were fragments, that slowly piece themselves together as if trying to make sense.

They were memories, but not his, but from a prince named Alexander Romanoff.

The huge flood of information sent Thomas into a panic, and everything he could see before him revelated one thing. He's not Thomas anymore, he is Alexander.

"Brother? Brother?" The girl called out to him, worried, but to him, she was just a stranger. Or she should have been, but for some reason, it felt like he loved her.

The love felt gross and alien. It wasn't his own. He couldn't manage to obediently accept the girl in front of him was his sister. As his repulsion and love pitted against each other, the woman named Christina kept calling out, brother.

"...Christina."

When he looked up at this girl he had never met before in his life and called her by her name. Thomas ceased being Thomas and became Alexander.

"Are you okay dear brother? You look like you have a headache."

Thomas couldn't still grasp what was going on to him, he had never felt this strange before. He died from a car accident and then woke up in another person's body? He fell back onto the luxurious bed and then shut his eyes to temporarily shut off all visual stimulation.

"My head still hurts. I want to rest more."

"Are you sure dear brother? I was worried...it's been so long since..."

"It's fine. I'm tired, I want to sleep some more."

After he talked, Christina seemed a bit sad but never stopped smiling and nodded.

"Okay brother. I'll give you some more time to rest and will come back to visit again soon."

And with that, she stood up, placed a gentle kiss on his forehead, and walked out of the room.

Thomas touched the part where Christina's lips had landed, he was caught off guard by the sudden kiss on the forehead.

After the door closed, Thomas lay there for a moment and closed his eyes.

Under his breath, he muttered. "What's happening to me?"

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