Wen choked on his wine. Immediately, a couple of boys hurried to hand him paper towels. “Are you ok? Should I pour you a cup of water?”
Their actions were full of excitement and anticipation. If Astra hadn’t run his mouth just now, he wouldn’t have thought twice before accepting the paper towels and thanking them. But now he felt weirded out.
“Astra,” Wen picked up his own paper towel and dabbed at his mouth, changing the subject deftly, “do you have any thoughts about our team members?”
The people around them paused, hanging on to their conversation with bated breath.
The gazes on Astra became unbearably intense. He threw the question back at Wen, “What do you think?”
Astra was waiting for the male lead to say ‘yeah, I already picked out all the team mates’, but to his surprise, Wen smiled. “I didn’t even think about it.”
Astra, “Are you for real?”
“Yeah, of course.” Wen looked at him with an unreadable expression. Suddenly, he smiled in a strange manner. “It’s all up to you now.”
Just as he finished speaking, the cadet sitting beside Astra spoke up bravely, “Hey, I— do you think I’m ok? To join your team?”
The boy’s freckled face was flushed scarlet from nervousness. He looked at Wen, and then turned his hope-filled gaze to Astra.
Astra patted him on the shoulder and didn’t say anything, but the meaning behind his actions was pretty clear. Disappointed, the freckled boy backed away.
Not waiting for anyone else to come forward with their self introduction, Astra met Wen’s eyes for a moment before he got up and walked from their seating area at the front of the ship towards the back. Wen’s eyes trailed behind Astra as the boy left, but he still remained seated where he was.
Clad from head to toe in the military Academy’s uniform, Wen made an unbelievably handsome figure.
Solaris Academy’s spaceship was very big. It was able to fully accommodate the two hundred something cadets and Academy officials with a lot of room to spare. Astra paused when he reached the middle of the ship. It looked like he was talking to somebody, but from such a distance Wen wasn’t able to hear their conversation.
Wen crossed his legs and leaned his head on his hand. Invisible hair-thin threads of spiritual energy extended from his body and wove through the crowds of people with great precision, coming to rest besides Astra.
“—yeah, I’ve never seen anyone else as tech-savvy as that guy.”
The thread of spiritual energy boldly wrapped itself around Astra, melding into the air. Surprisingly, none of the teachers and the officials on the ship discovered it.
Astra suddenly stopped.
He looked around with furrowed brows, but couldn’t find anything despite the nagging sense of being watched.
“What’s wrong?” The boy who answered him swung his head from side to side, following Astra’s gaze with curiosity. “Are you looking for Liam? He’s not here. He’s probably hiding in some corner studying some machine parts that no one else can understand. But I gotta say, he still hasn’t started looking for teammates yet— are those machine parts and starnet codes more important than the mission?”
Astra sat beside the boy and replied, “Really?”
But his mind was elsewhere, focused on his surroundings. Astra was fully alert as he observed the environment around him. Slowly, a mysterious sensation enveloped his mind. The noise from the ship drifted farther away, as if invisible walls had been erected all around him, blocking off the sounds from those beside him. The sound of his own heartbeat grew louder and louder in his ears.
Wen’s relaxed figure suddenly tensed.
He uncrossed his legs, placing both feet on the ground as he fully turned to look at Astra.
Mist-like spiritual energy drifted about, slowly catching everyone’s attention.
Astra made his spiritual energy into a rope, and used it to slowly probe his surroundings. He didn’t really know how to hide it, and the blatant action startled the supervisor on the ship. The supervisor stood up, looking at Astra with a burning gaze, and suddenly broke into elated laughter. He turned to the person beside him. “Quickly! Turn on the spiritual energy jammers!”
The teacher did as instructed, before sighing in admiration. “This kid is really talented. In all my years of teaching, this is the first time that I’ve seen someone materialize their spiritual energy without being taught. Really impressive.”
The admissions officer was internally leaping with joy, but he managed to keep his stern expression together. “What was he thinking, using his spiritual energy in such a large crowd of students? This cadet must be disciplined without mercy, or else next thing you know he’ll start getting cocky, thinking he’s special and better than everyone else just because he’s got a bit more talent. If we leave him be, who knows what kind of mess we’ll have on our hands in a couple year’s time?”
The teacher laughed. He knew that the admissions officer didn’t really dislike Astra. Rather, he was placing a lot of importance on Sirius’s number one cadet, which was why he was so worried about the kid’s future.
This was the first time that he used spiritual energy, but Astra didn’t even get a grasp on the feeling before the jammers dispersed the spiritual energy. As if drifting from a dream into reality, the cacophony of sound around him gushed into his ears all at once like a tidal wave. Astra opened his eyes just in time to see the Academy’s teacher in front of him. The teacher reprimanded him with an even tone, and told him to refrain from using his spiritual power on the ship.
Astra apologized sincerely and the teacher’s stern expression faded helplessly as he spoke appreciatively, “If you have talent, then don’t waste it. Hard work is also important, the spiritual energy manifestation method that you figured out yourself isn’t correct. If you wait until you’ve learned the right method before using it, the effect will be a lot better. I hope that you won’t be too impatient.”
“I understand.” Astra’s smile was sunny and bright. “I won’t be.”
The uncomfortable feeling from before had disappeared, and he wasn’t able to detect anything in the brief moment he had used his spiritual energy. This little interlude made his competitive spirit rise.
Strength was the best protection, without it there were no guarantees. He desired power and strength, he wanted to be strong. He would definitely increase his power to the highest extremes possible.
After waiting for the teacher to leave, Astra wasn’t able to gain any more information from the cadet beside him, since the other party had been shocked silly. As he was thanking the cadet, a well built youth suddenly fell down beside him with a thump.
Calling him youth didn’t do his figure justice. The ground shook from the force of collision as the cadet hit the floor. A sad puff of dust dispersed into the air.
“…hurts…it hurts so much…”
Astra might have heard the sound of crying from this person. The rough voice somehow sounded pitiful and meek. But seeing someone built like a bear cry and speak like this was a bit harsh on the eyes.
“Hey bro, are you okay?” Astra helped the person up. The young man sat up with Astra’s help, his nose was bright red. Perhaps it was because his tear ducts were irritated from the fall, his eyes were glossy with a layer of tears as he looked at Astra. A glare, then, “What kind of crappy ship is this. The walkway has a puddle of water on it. I’m so unlucky, not only did I fall, but the water also splashed on my face!”
“……” Astra went along with it. “Yeah, such a crappy ship.”
The cadet sniffled. “I can withstand a lot, falling down didn’t hurt one bit. You didn’t need to help me up at all, I could’ve stood up by myself just fine.”
Astra, “It’s alright, I wanted to help, I’m the type to stick my nose into other people’s business.”
The cadet that fell was determined to uphold his pride as a tough guy, he refused to cry even as his eyes turned red from the effort of holding back tears.
“Simon,” the youth behind him paused, before blurting out, “your red underwear is showing.”
Simon covered his red undies with a hand, but his movement shifted the muscle that he had just bruised. His expression contorted, and the tears that he was holding back began to outpour as if a floodgate had been opened.
Seeing such a sturdy guy bawling didn’t make anyone feel sympathetic, if anything it was a little funny to see.
The youth behind him was obviously used to seeing this scene. He sighed and pulled out some tissues from his pocket, before kneeling down to wipe at the tears in Simon’s eyes. “You’re such a big guy, how the heck do you cry so much?”
Astra felt the crying intensify.
He sighed before kneeling down to pat the youth on his back in an attempt to comfort. He told the concerned teachers and other students that everything was fine before turning back to Simon. “How is it? Are you feeling better?”
Everything from his voice to his expression exuded comfort.
He was so nice even to a complete stranger, it was hard not to feel goodwill towards someone like this.
The youth that was helping Simon wipe his tears, Jiyu, looked towards Astra. He had a very good impression from this powerful youth. Jiyu looked at Simon, the usually rough mannered Simon was unusually bashful, his gaze darted left and right. Jiyu was certain that Simon was thinking the same thing that he was.
Jiyu and Simon had completely different personalities. He usually didn’t like talking, but he was bold and sincere when it came to expressing himself. He finished helping his best friend wipe his tears before pulling Simon up. Walking to Astra, Jiyu got straight to the point. “Hi, I’m Jiyu, he’s Simon, can we be friends?”
His words were full of honesty and expectation.
When the protagonist entered the Academy, he met his lifelong friends there. The team that the male lead assembled later became Solaris Academy’s Dream Team. The team never lost and had a brilliant record, it was a brotherhood forged in the face of death, the team comprised of people that the male lead would trust to watch his back.
A large group of readers following the book ‘The Journey’ were attracted to the story because of the team’s strong sense of loyalty. This bunch of hot-headed youths grew into fine men, toiling through their struggles and adventures, enjoying the flowers and the applause, presenting a different image of themselves to outsiders while jostling around with each other in private. They had complete trust in each other, and formed a brotherhood of brave men who would fight ‘till the last breath for friends.
There was no shortage of those who pursued the fiendish beauty of darkness, but the honesty of the friendship between heroes would always make hot tears flow down the faces of those who witnessed it.
Simon was disgruntled that his friend was the one who said it first. “Hey!”
Two members of the Dream Team extended their hands towards him, trying their hardest to seem mature by making the handshake as serious as possible.
Astra had a strange feeling of watching history unfold before his very eyes. The rough shape of the Dream Team had revealed itself, coming together right in front of him, and he, the reader who was once an outside observer of this, had now become a player in this act.
He reached out. This feeling of deja vu wasn’t so bad at all. He smiled. “Since we’re already friends, then I’ll be taking some liberties.”
Astra looked towards the front of the ship. Wen stood straight with his hands in his pockets. Upon catching Astra’s gaze, he suddenly began walking in their direction. Astra looked from one future teammate to the other and continued, “Can I invite you guys to join our team?”
“Please,” Wen arrived just in time and picked up right where Astra left off, he rested a hand on the back of a nearby chair and smiled at them. “Accept our invitation.”
Jiyu and Simon looked at each other before speaking determinedly, “We’re in.”
A/N (translated): the team members are all really nice, but the only thing is – they’ve got the front row seat to the PDA
T/N: again, took some liberties with the naming – 希南 (xi nan) are the characters for ‘hope’ and ‘west’ but it sounds a tad bit like ‘Simon’ so I just went with it. Ling Nian (凌年) was translated into Liam. And btw starnet is the equivalent of the internet