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"Very well…" sighed Jiang Fei. He was aware of the fact that the virtual assistant was not able to go against the ship captain's orders. This was why he had placed so much trust in them despite having been previously warned time and again by Ariel.

"Don't give up hope just yet! Things may look grim right now, but you are not entirely out of options. By my calculations, there is still a 0.03% chance for you to turn this around!" 0541 suddenly said.

"What do I have to do?" Jiang Fei's eyes immediately lit up when he heard the AI. Even though his limited high-schooler understanding of mathematical probabilities was telling him that any outcome below 0.1% chance was practically impossible and mathematically negligible, he's desperately grasping at every straw he could right now if it meant surviving this ordeal.

"I'm sorry my friend, but I'm afraid that's something I cannot tell you. But rest assured, an opportunity will very soon be coming your way, and how you make of it will depend on your luck. If you really can make it to that 0.03%, you do everything you can and hold on to it!" 0541's voice trailed off, and the room fell into silence after that. Akatziris had ordered the AI to stabilize the ship and reclaim the energy depot orbiting the sun.

"What kind of chance could he be talking about?" Jiang Fei took 0541's words seriously. Despite the virtual assistant's part in Akatziris' drama previously, he still trusted his old comrade that had been through thick and thin with him.

After all, 0541 had been there for him right from the start, and was many times closer to him than 0542 or 0543. Jiang Fei believed that 0541 had every intention to help him but was only being limited by his programming.

Jiang Fei's trust in 0541 was also out of desperation as there was absolutely no way he could turn the situation around by himself. And given the circumstances, it was unlikely that 0541 had any need to lie to him.

Ultimately, Jiang Fei's decision to put his trust in his old partner was made to give himself a reason to be hopeful. He had made that decision because he remembered that he was not in this alone: the girls as well as his parents were also imprisoned along with him aboard Braveheart, and their lives were at the mercy of Akatziris! It became clear that the vile woman was prepared to execute his loved ones right before his very eyes, and if Jiang Fei had nothing to hold on to right now, he would have already broken.

Thus with all said and done, Jiang Fei had no other choice than to place his hopes and trust in 0541's words to give himself a chance to survive this.

Seconds turned into minutes, and minutes came to pass. The spaceship was no longer shaking, and Jiang Fei was still oblivious as to what chance 0541 had meant.

The air within the holding cell seemed to have frozen over. The girls were distressed but still pulled themselves together to comfort Jiang Fei's parents. While still unable to fully make heads or tails of the situation that they had befallen them, Mr. and Mrs. Jiang did not approach Jiang Fei for answers. They could see that their son was already in a lot of pain and chose not to trouble him further.


There was no sense of time inside the brightly lit holding cell. Nobody had any idea how much time had passed when a hole suddenly opened up on the cell's high ceiling, unveiling a platform extension, along with the sound of footsteps that slowly revealed the owner to the prisoners.

"My dear master," the android sang as she stood on the platform. "I apologize for the interruption, but now that everything is in order, let the fun continue!" Akatziriz playfully looked at her captives high from the platform, like a girl looking at her toys.

"Akaziris! Whatever bad blood it is that we have, just take it all out on me!" Jiang Fei screamed at the android. Even though he knew that captain was still going to choose someone else to break his spirit, he still challenged her in order to stall for time, time for whatever chance it was that 0541 had told him was about to appear.

"Oh? Are you volunteering yourself, dear master?" Akatziris replied with a raised brow. She was now toying with them like a predator playing with her food. Her old master was no longer a threat to her, especially now after Braveheart has successfully secured its energy depot and was now fully charged. Akatziris no longer had any reason to be fearful of Jiang Fei.

"That's what I said! Come at me!" Jiang Fei shouted back.

"What a touching display of heroism! It's no wonder why so many girls fell for you so easily, my dear master!" Akatziris teased. But after laughing about it for a bit, her smile quickly turned into a snarl.

"But why should I oblige you with such luxury?" The android changed from playful teasing to hostile faster than the turning of a page. And as her tone changed, bright white lights shot out from the cell walls and instantly enveloped Jiang Fei's mother!

"No!" Jiang Fei felt his heart jumping up to his throat. He charged at the beams of light in an attempt to block them with his body, but was repelled by the seemingly intangible power.

"Oh master," Akatziris sang again. "Please pay close attention to my fingers!" The android laughed as she lifted up her open hand in display right in front of her, and slowly closed one finger, and another, and then a third finger...

It was obvious that she was doing a countdown right in front of Jiang Fei, a countdown to his mother's demise! Akatziris had every intention to torture Jiang Fei beyond any feeling of anguish and devastation that he had ever experienced!

"No! 0541! I beg you! Please save mother!" When Akatziris had counted down to the last finger, Jiang Fei was already at his breaking point. He was not willing to watch his very own mother get reduced to particles.

"Time's up!" Akaziris laughed as she slowly closed her last finger.

"..."

Nothing happened. Mrs. Jiang was not being disintegrated, although she was still being confined by the white light.

"0541! What the h*ll is going on?!" Akatziris frowned. Although she had heard Jiang Fei calling out to 0541 for help, she did not believe it was possible for the virtual assistant to go against its core directives and the captain's orders, and help the enemy instead.

"Captain, the ship was damaged in the solar flare. Some of our circuits were fried!" 0541 answered.

"F*ck! Repair them now!" Akaziris barked. All that continuous disruption to her entertainment had fouled her mood.

"Right away, captain!" 0541 got to work immediately. And as the assistant left the others to carry out his captain's orders, he took one last glance at Jiang Fei and thought silently to himself, "This is as far as I can go, my friend. It all comes down to you and your luck now. This is all I can do for you."

When the black spot had erupted into the first solar flare, many of Braveheart's electronics have been affected. Some of the circuits were even fried up by the sudden intense radiation. Even though this was not enough to destabilize the enormous ship, but one of the damaged circuits just so happen to affect the proper functioning of the ship's weaponry.

0541 was supposed to have immediately commenced repairing as soon as that had happened. But in order to buy Jiang Fei more time, the assistant had deliberately ignored the ship's warning messages. That was the most he could do without his actions being deemed as a form of mutiny against the captain's authority by his core programmed directives.

But now that Akatziris had personally ordered him to repair the ship, he was no longer able to disobey nor delay it any longer, and was forced to complete the task as fast as he could.

"It seems like lady luck has been very generous with you, my dear master. But no matter. We will soon be leaving the sun's orbit, and all these hiccups shall be dealt with in a matter of minutes. And by then, there should be nothing to stop us from enjoying ourselves!" Akatziris laughed aloud as the the platform retracted into the ceiling of the holding cell, leaving Jiang Fei and the others with the chilling echoes of her cackling.


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