T/N: triggering content, content describes abuse of human rights – you have been warned
Solaris Academy was situated on Topia. There was only one Solaris in all of the eight galaxies, because the school didn’t have any branches or sister institutions located elsewhere.
When the students exited the spaceship, the first thing that entered their sights were the magnificent and intimidating front gates of Solaris Academy. The doors gaped wide open in front of them. On the other side was their future and the promise of adventure. Just standing there was enough for the students to feel the weight of many centuries’ worth of honors and achievements earned by the alumni that had passed through these gates. It was disorienting, this feeling of walking into the flow of history.
The new cadets whispered among themselves, feeling a mixture of awe and excitement. They couldn’t bear to look away. Just thinking about spending the next four years of their lives at the Academy made them giddy with nerves and anticipation.
“The dorms are separated by size, into large and small rooms.” The teacher led them on a tour around the school. “The large rooms can house four to six people. Living together in a large house is a good way to build tight-knit teams. The small rooms are for two to three people. It’s all up to you guys to choose whether you’ll be living in a large room or a small room. But don’t worry, the large rooms have separate living quarters inside them to maintain privacy.”
Topia wasn’t the capital planet of the Empire, but it was the most economically advanced planet. Many different sentient species lived together in this busy hubbub. Topia was the busiest planet, and for that reason it was also the most chaotic one.
As they walked around the school, the new recruits passed the seniors as they went about their daily business. From time to time, the seniors looked over at the new recruits with curious gazes, enthusiastic and warm as they expressed their welcome to the new-comers from afar. The seniors were all extremely beautiful. When they smiled, it was as if flower petals were raining down from the very air around them.
Astra had always been appreciative of beauty. The people of the interstellar age all had some sort of genetic enhancement, so no one was particularly ugly. The people they saw all had their own unique type of beauty. Whether it was sexy or cute, any random person off the street would have perfect proportions and graceful limbs.
Surely this must be heaven.
When they finished looking around, the cadets were gathered under the residential building. The Academy valued strength and power, and at the moment, all the other planets’ recruits were still completing their entrance missions, so Astra had first pick of the rooms.
Before this, Simon and them already had a heated debate about which room they wanted. Now, the team watched excitedly as Astra told the teacher the room number of the most coveted suite. All of the other students sighed in disappointment.
After all five of them received their magnetic keycards, the team walked up the stairs under the envious gazes of the other cadets. Simon wriggled his thick waist as he taunted, “Don’t be jealous, it’s not so easy finding a teammate with a 1890 spirit energy score, y’know.”
Really arrogant, really deserving of a good beating.
The room that Astra chose was the apartment on the 56th floor. The apartment mimicked the style of a sea-side mansion, with its 360 degree display of a beautiful ocean view. The visuals were supplied by the best simulation machine available. The sound of waves and the scent of a fresh ocean breeze came from just outside the window. To Astra, who had never seen something like this before, the simulation seemed like reality, and this room really was a seaside mansion in all regards. As for the Sirius natives whose homeplanet didn’t have a lot of seas and seashores, this room was to their liking as well.
Originally, Astra had wanted to live in a private room by himself, because he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to hold it in and would wind up doing something to one of his team members. But he had lost a game of rock-paper-scissors to Linus, who was secretly pleased as he spoke, the corners of his lips lifting up by the smallest degree, “I’ll take a room by myself, then.” Only winners were allowed the privilege of living alone.
Naturally, Astra and Wen had to share a room while Jiyu and Simon chose to stay together.
When he saw Astra’s moody gaze, Wen asked, “Astra, you don’t like being with me?”
Astra draped an arm over Wen’s shoulder and pulled him in the direction of their room. “Of course not. Oh right, when will Naia come over tonight to give us the auction tickets?”
Of course he liked being with the male lead. It was just that the male lead was like a world’s delicious delicacy to Astra. What if he really couldn’t control himself and decided to lay his hands on the male lead?
“Yes,” Wen answered.
The auction was a complicated event attended by people from all walks of life. Naia’s family had some power and influence among the Topian society, so it was quite easy for them to get their hands on some tickets to the auction. Wen didn’t plan on taking everyone with him, so he only asked Naia to prepare two tickets.
Actually, Wen hadn’t planned to take anyone to the auction, but for some reason he had agreed to bring Astra along.
“Have you heard of NK-03?”
When the two of them had gone back to their room and turned on the sound-proofing device, Wen sat down and thoughtfully tapped his fingers on the armrest before suddenly speaking up.
His soft, pink lips were pressed into a thin line. His attempt at acting nonchalant was adorable.
Astra, “Never heard of it.”
Nodding as if he expected Astra to answer this way, Wen projected a file from his computer device in front of the other, but the file didn’t contain any information about NK-03. Instead, the file showed the image of an old man with heavy wrinkles and a sallow complexion.
“NK-03, a type of medicine that is currently illegal, is the product of a top secret research being conducted by the Empire,” Wen calmly narrated this shocking information. “The lead researcher was assassinated, and now there’s only two bottles of this medicine in the entire universe. This person here sold one bottle of NK-03 just last month. This time, he will also be attending this auction.”
“Selling illegal medicine? He’s pretty ballsy.”
“This medicine is the reason why we have to go to the auction.” Wen smiled. “If we can find evidence proving that he’s selling the NK-03, then we’ll have another accomplishment under our belts.”
For a youth like Astra, becoming a famous hero was probably a very tempting motivation.
Wen looked at Astra. The boy’s eyes seemed to hold all the glittering stars of the galaxy as he smiled, warmth radiating from his expression like sunlight. Astra looked excited, barely staying on the edge of his seat.
Wen actually thought that Astra was quite handsome when he was acting like this
. . . . . .
Naia brought the tickets right on time. Just like Wen had said, there were only two of them.
The other three teammates that had no ticket had just realized that the two of them planned on going to the auction alone. They were a little peeved. How could Astra and Wen just leave them behind and go off by themselves?
But were they really going on an excursion?
Of course not. This was Astra risking his life to accompany a beauty.
The three guys almost talked Astra and Wen’s ears off. Even after walking out of the school gates, Wen’s expression was still a bit wooden. Apparently, he hadn’t yet recovered from the onslaught of his teammates’ motherly instincts.
Naia had other preoccupations to attend to, so she waited outside quietly, worrying about the two boys as they headed inside. “Be careful, guys.”
Her worried expression showed a tinge of shyness as her gaze turned to Wen. “Please come back as early as you can.”
Wen comforted her, “We will.” He extended a hand towards Naia.
Naia’s porcelain cheeks slowly turned into a lovely shade of red as she raised her hand and placed it on Wen’s palm.
Wen bent down and kissed the back of her hand. His eyes were the color of a lagoon bathed in moonlight, and the emotions within them were just as unfathomable as he met Naia’s gaze. “Thank you for your concern.”
As sudden as a spring gale blowing up waves over an emerald lake, Naia’s heart began to pound in her chest without warning. Bashfulness crept over her clear features. This emotion made her scared yet hopeful at the same time. She looked down at the tips of her shoes, not daring to speak to Wen again.
Once they walked quite a distance away, Astra began to tease Wen, “That was incredible.”
Wen looked over at Astra with the smug smile of a man confident of his charms.
“Can you teach me how to talk to girls?” Astra continued. “You seem very experienced at it.”
Wen had always been pretty good with the ladies, but it was his first time being asked to give advice on the matter. He laughed. “Use your eyes and your smile. How could anyone refuse you once they’ve seen your eyes?”
“Is it like this?”
Astra threw an arm over Wen’s shoulder and suddenly bent down. His smiling gaze entered Wen’s line of sight.
And then Astra curved the corners of his mouth upwards in a wicked grin.
A strange sensation suddenly welled up from deep within Wen’s heart. “…Yeah. Just like that.”
They arrived just in time at the entrance to the auction.
The auction wasn’t being held at a , shop or a single street, it actually took up an entire district.
A dome of dark-colored protective screen surrounded the district, preventing the people inside from using high tech weapons and spying gear.
Because of this, when the two of them stepped into the auction, it felt as if they had walked into the underworld. The sky was grey and the cluster of buildings in front of them hung a myriad of lamps from their front. The street was packed with people. The medicine and weaponry salesmen only added to the busy chaos.
The person at the door spoke to them in a low, hushed tone, “Tickets?”
Wen gave him the two tickets.
After the gatekeeper checked their tickets, he handed them each a white, circular bracelet. This bracelet could monitor their location while at the same time detecting any and all spiritual energy fluctuations within a meter’s radius.
The auction’s real auction site was at the very center of the district. The other shops were there to sell various types of goods and wares.
They walked toward the center. At first, the street-side vendors were all advertising medicine and weapons, but as they walked deeper and deeper into the district, the goods being sold were actually people, chained up in cages and displayed all along the street.
The Empire spanned eight galaxies. Within the Empire, there were countless life-supporting planets. The different types of sentient beings in the Empire were countless, but the ones being displayed and sold here were all beings possessing astonishing beauty or special, desirable abilities.
“…” Astra’s hands balled into fists.
A little girl from Planet Tal knelt on the ground, shivering under the derogatory insults being shouted at her by the seller. The little puppy ears on her head trembled as she crawled in the dirty cage like an animal, moving slowly and leaving a trail of blood that gradually spread under her body.
The seller’s laughs were dirty and disgusting. She tore the last scraps of clothing from the little girl’s body, watching in perverse glee as the girl curled in on herself, hugging her knees as tears overflowed from her vacant gaze.
T/N: The author didn’t say whether the seller is a woman or a man, but I think it’s entirely valid and entirely overlooked that human traffickers can be female. You don’t have to have a d*ck in order to harm and prey on little kids.
The sound of sobbing reached their ears. These were all the ‘merchandise’ that had been returned by the customers. The ones that couldn’t be sold again were tossed aside dismissively by the merchants, waiting for death as they lay strewn around the garbage dumps like broken dolls.
From the very first moment since Astra had opened his eyes in this world, whether it was the people he met or the things he’d seen, everything had been bright and beautiful. But the darkness that he saw in front of him right now was something that he couldn’t just simply ignore.
Because he only knew of this world from its most beautiful side, the ugliness he witnessed here seemed especially jarring.
“What are you doing?” Beside them, a vendor kicked the cage he was standing next to, and swore at the huddled form inside. “I told you to use your tongue to lap at the water you bitch, don’t you know how dogs are supposed to drink water? I didn’t give you that damned water dish for you to pick it up and use it like a cup!”
Astra stared at the person kneeling and drinking water like a pig at a trough. A pig that was destined for slaughter. The fire of Astra’s rage turned into ice-cold anger, tearing at his mind from within.
Every world had its own shadows, this was an unavoidable consequence of human nature. To the people who were fortunate enough to live well outside the reaches of this darkness, these tragedies were only reported in numbers. Numbers that, no matter how large or shocking, still held no meaning other than an empty tally to the unrelated bystanders that passed through the world unaware of its atrocities.
But after seeing this depravity for himself, how could Astra just ignore this?
Astra wasn’t a saint. In fact, his heart was colder and more indifferent than most. This heartless rationality was telling him to turn away from this scene that had nothing to do with him, but his twenty-three years of upbringing and the moral code that he lived by compelled him to stay. He just couldn’t bring himself to move his eyes elsewhere in cool indifference. This was something terribly wrong, and he couldn’t just go on pretending nothing was out of sorts with this horrid place.
—but he didn’t need to turn away.
He was Astra from the book now.
Wen lowered his gaze and sighed when he saw Astra’s tightly clenched fist. This was why he didn’t want to bring a hot-blooded youth to this place.
Especially someone like the boy standing next to him. Astra lived in a bright world separate from this sort of place. This encounter was destined to clash with Astra’s world view like fire and water.
Out of some strange, sadistic glee, Wen had wanted to see Astra’s reaction when the boy was faced with such a scene. But now Wen felt a little guilty. He coughed lightly and patted Astra on the back before murmuring to the seething boy, “Calm down.”
“The strong and the powerful have never stooped to obey the Empire’s laws, these types of crimes are impossible to eliminate.”
Unexpectedly, Astra walked past the market expressionlessly, and didn’t make a single extra move.
Astra looked different without the usual smile on his face. This was the first time Wen had seen his sunny team member without his signature smile. Wen glanced at Astra several times in shock.
“I won’t do anything stupid.” Astra thought Wen was puzzled by his behavior, so he explained as they walked, “Rushing in without a plan will only harm the victims more.”
Astra had lived his entire life acting on any idea that struck his fancy. Plus, he had already freaking transmigrated — he literally had nothing to lose. How could he still consider himself a man if he just ignored something so abhorrently wrong?
Whatever he was going to do, he was going to make it big, big enough to cast the world at his feet, big enough to be able to wipe out these little nooks and crannies of corruption with a snap of his fingers. Go big or go home, that was Astra’s motto.
After all, that was what made life interesting.
Yet right after he promised not to do anything, Astra’s expression suddenly shifted. He rushed forward to stand in front of a young man curled up on the ground. “Stop.”
The youth being protected by Astra raised his head with some difficulty and looked at Astra.
Wen discovered with great shock that the boy had an unbelievably beautiful face.
The dust couldn’t cover up the allure of his features, but rather made him look pitiful like a small animal. The boy looked even more breathtaking in this vulnerable state. Abuse had made the boy very thin, and if one wasn’t paying thorough attention, it would be easy to mistake this malnourished youth for a girl.
If this youth was a girl, then he would’ve been absolutely stunning.
His master must’ve thought so as well, because the slave-trader kept yelling at the beautiful boy and hitting him, creating a big commotion to attract the attention of the crowd.
The trader smiled mockingly when he saw Astra step up. “If you want to play hero, boy, you have to have the ability to back it up. Do you really want to break the rules in the auction district?”
Just a moment ago, he had thought there was no need to take action. But Astra was a superficial person through and through, he just couldn’t sit back and see such a beautiful person being abused like that. “I’ll buy him.”
The curled up youth looked up at Astra, in shock and disbelief. The silhouette in front of him was tall, and radiated a sense of power and confidence, as if it was capable of holding the world on those broad shoulders.
The trader was also shocked. “What? You want to buy him?” The trader’s happy surprise showed on his face as he latched on to Astra’s arm, as if he was afraid that the young man would suddenly change his mind. “500 star coins! All you need to give me is 500 star coins!”
The price was a lot lower than what Astra thought. He gave the money to the trader, and bent down to offer his hand to the young man that was still sitting on the ground. Astra’s smile was gentle as he helped the youth to his feet. “How do you feel? Can you walk right now?”
The hand offered to him was warm and clean, without a single smudge of dirt or blood. The beautiful boy looked at that hand, and then looked into the eyes of the youth that had just bought him. The corners of his eyes suddenly turned red, as if he was going to cry.
“Thank you,” the boy spoke meekly, “master.”
The author has something to say:
Big idiot Astra is very superficial, the reason he likes the male lead is because the male lead is really good-looking. But imagine having a beautiful young man calling you master. I can do this all day. All. freaking. day.
T/N: … I have nothing else to say. Wtf author. What the hell is up with Astra’s character setting? We settin’ up for a good ol’ transmigration harem now? -_- jkjk it’s not a harem. Just a 1v1 with an…interesting author.
Coming up next: Wen gets jelly??
P.S. There’s this poll that I’m doing on Patreon at the end of the month of Jan. to select a project (still doing FS, don’t worry) I originally planned to launch other projects in Feb and now I’m reconsidering one of them bc I’m like that 🙁