They were clad in only their inner layers of clothing. Droplets of water scattered into the air and the beautiful sound of their laughter echoed in the clearing.
The three young men in the front felt awkward and embarrassed.
No one wanted to make a fool of themselves in front of the opposite sex. Wen wanted to stand up straighter, but no matter how much strength he put into it, Astra’s hand was still securely pressed against his waist.
The grip was firm and strong, this feeling of being subdued by another male made the back of his neck tingle.
“I’m alright now,” he was forced to speak, “I’ve rested enough.”
“Okay.” Astra let him go good-naturedly.
At this moment, the girls had already discovered them.
Shouts of surprise interrupted the serene air. The girls ducked underwater, only showing their flushed faces as they looked at the intruders with a hint of shyness and embarrassment. “Who are you guys?”
Linus’s expression was as cold as ever as he backed away and stepped into place beside Astra, leaving Simon and Jiyu to deal with the responsibility of holding this awkward conversation.
Simon nudged Jiyu’s shoulder with his own.
Jiyu was forced to open his mouth, “We’re new recruits from Sirius.”
One sentence. Five words. Any longer and he still wouldn’t have a good explanation about how and why they got there.
Fortunately for them, they were all very handsome and honest looking young men, and seemed very much like the storybook hero type. On top of that, they were students from Solaris Academy.
The girls in the water broke into laughter. They were still a little embarrassed as they explained, “We killed a small animal on our way here, the animal’s blood contains an allergen that causes itching, so we had to hurry and wash the blood off our skin.”
“Oh…” Jiyu replied awkwardly. “Must’ve been hard for you.”
Astra chuckled. “Jiyu, how are you so adorable?”
Wen, who had always been good with women, also relaxed. The corners of his lips curled into a bewitching smile. “Girls will be unhappy if you’re like this.”
Jiyu froze even more. Luckily, none of the girls were close enough to hear his teammates’ teasing.
The girls were at a loss for what to do. They didn’t really know if they should go and put their clothes back on or just stay where they were. The four of them stole secret glances at the five boys nearby.
All of them had such different auras, but they were all very outstanding.
The leader of the girls pointed to a deeper part of the stream. “That way is upstream, if you guys need clean water, you can head over there. If, if all of you need to wash as well…”
She looked at the young men’s blood-stained clothes and flushed. Lowering her eyes to the water, she mumbled in a near-incoherent voice, “You guys can wait until we’re done to wash over here.”
“No, we’re okay.” Simon and Jiyu shook their heads violently and flapped their hands about. “No no no we’re all good, thanks.”
This time around, Wen and Astra couldn’t hold their laughter in any longer. The sound of them laughing made Simon and Jiyu’s embarrassment transform into anger. The two of them said nothing more as they dragged their laughing team members away towards the upstream direction.
“Stop laughing!” Simon’s face was flushed scarlet as he whined, “Hmph! I wasn’t embarrassed at all!”
His muscular form fidgeted awkwardly, fingers twisting together. It was easy to tell at first glance that he was indeed very embarrassed.
Jiyu sighed deeply and thought that even though he had looked as if the girls were terrifying enough to eat him alive, at least he still did better than this idiot Simon.
The sound of the girls’ uproarious laughter faded as they moved. It took them a couple more steps moving forward before the sound completely disappeared.
Now that the incident was behind them, the culprits who had hurt the boys’ self confidence had to make it up to them somehow. Astra and Wen turned to hide their grins as they spoke, “Girls love the simple and innocent type, their favorite types are guys with no experience at all.”
“You guys were perfect just then, absolutely perfect.”
“It makes sense when you guys put it like that.” Simon nodded his head uncertainly. “I really did hear something like that before, from somewhere.”
They continued forward. With Linus around to help them cheat, none of them had to make an effort to remember the way back. When they felt that they had walked far enough, they decided to stop and eat.
They were almost at the end of the stream. The water was clean and clear, without any signs of fishes swimming inside. They picked up some wood for burning, and prepared to hunt for some small animals suitable for eating.
Linus made sure there were no cameras around them before he opened up his computer device. In the next moment, he wrinkled his brow as his expression turned dead serious.
“Someone signalled for help.” Linus put his hand down. “But the message signal is being interfered with. The signal from the alarm device is flashing in and out of focus, but one thing’s for sure: their signal can’t pass further than five hundred meters. There’s no way that the Academy will be able to detect it at this rate.”
The rest of the team’s expression shifted as well. “How did that happen?!”
“The interference frequency is between 30 to 50,” Linus spoke quickly. “This type of interference signal is from NO-28, a device commonly used by interstellar pirates.”
Simon shouted in surprise, “Pirates?”
Wen’s expression darkened. “Can you locate where the alarm signal is coming from?”
Linus, “It’s only showing within 500 meters, the only way we can get a clear reading is if we enter that range.” He paused, and looked at each and every one of them before he asked, “Should we save them?”
Interstellar pirates. Each of them had their special place on the Empire’s wanted list. They were infamous for their brutal ways and cruel personalities. On top of that, these pirates tended to stick in close-knit groups, and provoking one of them was equivalent to signing a feud with hundreds of them. The pirates were extremely hard to deal with, the Empire has had dozens of campaigns to eradicate the pirates in its long history, but never succeeded in its efforts. The pirates’ existence was like a weed; hardy, and impossible to exterminate.
This was the basic knowledge that every citizen of the Empire was supposed to know.
But Linus’s teammates all stood up without hesitation and put out their campfire with quick, efficient movements. “Let’s go! Those guys better hunt and cook us a good meal after we save their asses! Freakinn’ hungry enough to eat an entire Fanged Beast right now.”
“If we ever see another Fanged Beast, we can all just stand back and send you to go eat it.”
“…Jiyu, shut up.”
The smallest hint of a smile curled up on Linus’s lip before disappearing as quickly as it appeared. His face melded back to its impassive state as he gripped his weapon and walked forward cautiously with his friends by his side.
Naia leaned against her friends.
Her hands and feet were bound, and the skin of her palm was scraped and bleeding. She bit her lip, borrowing strength from the pain to keep herself calm, trying to keep herself level-headed even when the sound of panicked crying and pain came from all around her.
“Naia,” her friend choked out through her sobbing, “we’ll die…we’re gonna die…”
The terror in her heart ate away at her courage like a black hole. Naia’s eyes fogged up even as she tried to stay strong and comfort her friend. “We’re not going to die.”
Even though the forest was very dangerous, its scenery was still very beautiful. Sunlight filtered from the canopy above, dappling the forest floor below. But to the youths tied up at the base of the tree, this calm scenery felt like a death sentence.
There were about a dozen of them rounded up haphazardly in a rough circle. The man pacing agitatedly outside the circle tried again and again to turn on his computer device, but to no avail. “Motherfucker!”
After yet another failed try with his computing device, he suddenly lashed out, slamming his foot into the student closest to him. His face twisted into a savage expression. “You damned brats could’ve chosen anywhere else, but you just had to come here to play your little kiddie games when I’m busy running for my life!”
The pirate’s kick made the youth fly out, landing about a meter away from where he was before. The boy groaned in pain and curled into himself, white spittle gargled out of his mouth as he retched in nausea.
Naia shut her eyes in fear, her hands and feet were ice cold, shaking from terror. The man continued his swearing, ceaselessly taking out his anger on the group of students.
This wanted man was the leader of a pirate group that had run into the Empire’s military while out on an excursion with a small team. His brothers were all injured or dead, he was the only one that made it out. But the space ship was hit by a barrage from the military when he was trying to escape and he was forced to make an emergency landing on Vagor.
Originally, he had thought he could just contact some people he knew so they could come and get him, but how the fuck was he supposed to know that this planet had been chosen by the Academy for its entrance tests? None of his messages were transmitting.
If this went on, it’d only be a matter of time before the military found him here.
His expression became even uglier, he reached out and dragged a random girl towards him as she attempted to back away in fright. He laughed darkly. “If I fucking die, then I’ll at least take you brats down with me. Using the Empire’s future heroes as fuckin’ punching bags sounds like a great way to go. I’ll enjoy my time with you ladies before I die, consider it your charity to a man who’s out of time.”
Naia struggled fiercely, the tears that were threatening to escape finally fell in great torrents down her face. “Let me go!”
The pirate grinned viciously as he grabbed onto her collar. “Hey sweetheart, at least you get to feel what it’s like to be held by a man before I kill you. Compared to these flat bitches next to you, I like your type way better.”
Naia shut her eyes in despair, the disgust roiling in her stomach made her want to puke.
Just as the pirate’s hand was about to slip into her clothes, a bright voice shouted out from somewhere in the forest.
“What the fuck?! Hey everyone, let’s go! Chaaarge!” The energetic voice of the youth was filled with anger. “This motherfucker dared to put his hands on one of our classmates!”
The bright flash of an energy sword flashed in front of Naia’s eyes like fireworks. Before she could comprehend what had just happened, a warm embrace engulfed her.
Astra closed in on the pirate, this sudden ambush caught the other entirely off guard. Spiritual energy crackled like silver lightning, inflicting multiple wounds on the pirate’s body. Simon and Jiyu followed close behind, burning with rage.
Wen set the girl in his arms down. “Are you alright?”
Naia sobbed in distress and relief. “Thank you, thank you.”
The sound of her crying woke the group of tied youths from their stupor. They raised their heads slowly and saw the pirate being attacked from all sides. Gradually, hot tears began to flow from their eyes, they clenched their teeth, trembling all over as they dissolved into hysterics, curling into themselves as they cried silently.
Wen patted the girl’s shoulder in a comforting gesture, before he loosened the bonds on her body. “Go and untie everyone.”
He turned, all warmth extinguished from his eyes as he readied his weapon and walked towards the pirate.
At first, the pirate was caught by surprise, but he came to his senses quickly and the savage look in his eyes returned. “Haha, stupid boy, you’ve got some balls!”
“Shut the fuck up.” Astra’s foot caught the pirate on his stomach. The energy sword sliced the air in front of the pirate’s chest as Astra looked down at him. “You scum.”
The pirate backed away under the barrage of attacks, but his violent mood was somewhat placated. The more he looked at this boy, the more pleased he became, there was something special about this one. “Hey kid, you’ve got some talent! The Academy be damned, if you help me escape right now and join my group, I promise to treat you well.”
Even though the boy’s attacks still screamed amateur, the intent behind them was quite terrifying.
So this was the stupid cheat that the author had promised him?
Astra’s friends were completely enraged. They treated the pirate’s words as an insult to Astra’s honor and their anger made their attacks even stronger than before.
Each of them were determined to help Astra defend his pride. “Don’t you dare insult my teammate!”
Wen pointed his sword straight up, walking closer and closer to the pirate one step at a time. The expression on his face was terrifying to behold.
The pirate laughed, completely dismissive of Wen as he taunted, “Are all the Solaris brats this dumb nowadays?”
What a bunch of fools.
The pirate laughed coldly, and took out the gun from his jacket. One blast from the weapon would be enough to do them in. However, just as his hand touched the trigger, his entire body froze.
It was as if his brain was no longer in his control, his entire body stood still as a statue as he tried his hardest to move his finger. No matter how hard he concentrated, he still couldn’t make himself move.
He watched wide-eyed as the youth drew closer. He still couldn’t move. The fear of losing his life made his legs tremble. “Fuck! Whoever dares to kill me will have to face the wrath of the other interstellar pirates!”
Wen’s energy sword didn’t even flicker in its strike. The weapon passed clean through the pirates’s stomach. The pirate’s vision blacked out, the sudden pain in his brain made him pass out cold and he collapsed onto the ground, completely unconscious.
The students around gasped in shock. Why did the pirate freeze in place?
He didn’t even move when he was being attacked, choosing to hurl insults instead. Were all pirates this dumb?
“How…?” Simon looked at the pirate on the ground in confusion, before looking back at his friends standing around him. At last, he looked towards Wen in worry. “How did he suddenly stop moving? And now… Is he dead?”
Wen, “Not yet.”
Even though no one would care about a pirate’s death, it would still be best to leave this mess for the Empire to deal with. All of them breathed a sigh of relief.
Linus, “Look through his pockets for the NO-28 interference device.”
Astra went with Linus to look for the object, while the other three went to help the injured students treat their wounds. After the device had been shut off, the alarm devices that the students had set off finally alerted the school.
Several seconds later, the emergency response vehicle landed in front of them. Four serious-looking teachers came out of the vehicle. They were immediately shocked by the mess they saw, and their expressions stiffened even more when they heard the story from the students.
When they saw the teachers, the distressed students started to sob as if the spell over them had finally been released, as if they wanted to wash away all of their fear and anger with their tears. A lot of the students had been used by the pirate as convenient sandbags to vent his anger on. Several of the more severely wounded students had to be carried away by the medical team on stretchers. The rest of them didn’t even dare to think about what would’ve happened if Astra and his team hadn’t come to save them. If the pirate wasn’t interrupted just in time, some of the students would have been dead right now.
The teachers planned to take several trips to bring the students to the main ship, but none of the students made a move to leave just yet. Every one of them looked at the people that saved them, thanking them endlessly, trying their best to remember each and every one of the youths that had helped them when they needed it most. Gratefulness and the rush of emotion made their lips tremble, but no one knew what else to say besides repeating ‘thank you’ over and over again.
That sentence, “This motherfucker dared to put his hands on one of our classmates!” had been the most warm hearted thing anyone had ever said to them.
Really, it had been the nicest thing they’ve ever heard.
The author has something to say:
After everyone was gone, all of them decided to start blowing up each other’s egos:
“Wen, you were so cool, you were so handsome that the pirate couldn’t even move when he saw you.”
T/N: my internet crashed, for those of you who are on patreon chapter 12 will be out most likely in the next two days. Sorry for the delay. Also my second semester starts tomorrow, and the internet is already dying on me today. Somebody light a candle for me.