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The silence before the storm was always the calmest. Ironically, Jiang Fei could not rest his nervous self in the vast emptiness of space. 

Braveheart was now under a cloaking blanket and all the engines and radar systems had been deactivated. With no absolutely zero support from the huge battleship, 0541 could only observe his surroundings with the light detection system. 

"0541, are they here yet?" Jiang Fei asked nervously. This encounter, or rather, clash with another alien space race was a first for him. Technically second, if he were to include the Namekian race. Under the veil of his nervousness, there was a hint of anxiety as well as curiosity. He, for all he knew, was representing all of humanity, or the Terran race. There was a sense of elevation as well as an overwhelming sense of exposure. Finally, humanity was about to be introduced to the galactic space race. 

"Captain, calm yourself." 0541 tried to relieve his stress a little.

"Asking me to calm myself right now isn't going to help."

Besides the constant blinking of stars and faraway galaxies, the void of space presented no changes. From where he stood, he could see zooming asteroids across the skies of Ceres. Without them, Jiang Fei could not have gauged the amount of time they had spent on the dwarf planet. 

Perhaps it was an hour, or perhaps a day, for all he knew, he had just lost the concept of time. The eerie silence of space was both magnificent and terrifying. Looking back to Earth from the asteroid belt, he felt a strong overview effect affecting his judgment. Earth was so small, so fragile, compared to the vastness of space. Who's to say that there weren't any future threats hurling toward the planet now? 

"Captain! Look!" 0543 blared out suddenly. His calls literally made Jiang Fei, who was calm for only a few minutes, skipped a heartbeat. 

"What?! Are they here?" He quickly headed over to the nearest monitor. Two small gold-colored dots were highlighted over the blackness of space. 

The gold dots represented the color scheme of the ship that 0541 was tracking. Not far from where the ship was cruising was a larger blue-colored crystal, glowing like a light bulb, guiding the ship. 

"That's a Wayfinder," said Jiang Fei as he recognized the crystal. It was the same thing he saw when 0541 discovered the advent of the Valsalry. 

"Keen observation, captain. The enemy's ship is approaching now," 0541 added. A Wayfinder functioned the same as Scout Drones. Compared to Earth's drones, alien races across the universe used these simple crystal constructs to discover the universe. They are comparatively cheaper and easier to build. The Valsalries had deployed so many of them to locate and signal the main fleet if they detected valuable treasures. Besides exploring, they were also used as guidance, hence the name "Wayfinder". They were to be deployed into uncharted quadrant of space. 


As the Wayfinder approached them, Jiang Fei could hear the faint, beeping-like signal that the Wayfinder was emitting. The wave was able to even travel across the near-vacuum state of space. 

"We… wouldn't be spotted… right?" Jiang Fei asked. 

"No. I have already activated the cloaking system. While it wouldn't escape close encounters, that Wayfinder would never detect our presence," said 0541 confidently. 

As the beeping continued, the Wayfinder, guiding the small spaceship, cruised across the asteroid belt and toward the orbit of Mars. Earth would be next. 

"Let's get ready. I am eager to set things on fire!" Jiang Fei muttered. The Wayfinder had already passed Braveheart and soon the Valsalry's ship. 

"Prepare to charge the main cannon!" Jiang Fei ordered. Even though shouting in Braveheart could never be detected by someone else across the distance, moreover outside the ship, Jiang Fei couldn't help lowering his voice. 

"Engines ready. Cannons will be charged on your command, captain!" 0541 replied. As a precaution, 0541 had disabled all machines in the ship that generated heat and energy. The cannons and all weapon systems were offline until just now. The traditional radar systems were all turned off, except for the Light Differentiation Radar System which detected moving objects in space by measuring light intensity and movement. It was an older and more primitive means of detection but when compared to other detection systems, the LDR system would not alert others to your presence. 

Just then, the LDR monitor reported movements. The golden light, that was the ship of the Valsalry, beeped faster and faster. In no time, Jiang Fei himself could see the silhouette of the ship. 

"The heck? Is that it?" said Jiang Fei with a hint of disappointment and condescension. The Valsalry's ship was not big… It was so small that calling it a stowaway rescue pod wouldn't be wrong!

0541 kept quiet. At this point, even 0541 was evolved enough to experience emotion. Concurrently, he was a little embarrassed. He had been feeding Jiang Fei information that he too, had expected to see a bigger… ship! 

"It would seem that the Valsalry had not set its eyes on Earth… That's not a warship but a small, one-man spacecraft…" 

"You don't say! What are they thinking?!" Jiang Fei snapped. All this time, he had been a nervous wreck, waiting for so long, just to see a tiny one-man ship! It's not even a proper invasion! Oh wait, it was an invasion, alright, an invasion of privacy! That's if entering Mars' orbit was considered to be a violation of privacy! 

"0541, charge the cannons and blast that thing into oblivion!" 

Jiang Fei felt humiliated. He had spent so much effort in preparing for the invasion of the Valsalry. In the end, they had only sent in a civilian-class one-man spacecraft, and not even attack! 

"Aye! Captain!" 0541 chimed in, sharing the same feeling as Jiang Fei. The Earth might not reach the point of ascension where they could leave their home planet and join the galactic space race, but there were still Jiang Fei and Braveheart as the symbol of advancement! Sending in one tiny ship was but a slap to the face! 

There was no need to charge as 0541 had only used an auxiliary cannon to "squirt" a tiny beam of low-compression particle beam. Those were meant to blast off small asteroids and other smaller objects that would hit the side of the ship. 

The spacecraft exploded, like a mosquito by a palm. That was only a civilian-class ship. It would not have any auto-evasion systems on board. As such, in the face of a battlecruiser-class ship, it was nothing but trash. 

"Just like that…" 

Even though 0541 had explained that the first wave of attack would always be the easiest, he had never thought that it would be this easy. 

"It's never that easy," said 0541. 

"Well… how do you explain that?" 

Before 0541 could explain, he picked up a disturbance in spacetime around the ship. 

"Oh no!" 0541 gasped. 

"Warning! Shield integrity compromised!" 

"Captain! He's here!" cried 0541. 

0541 quickly placed everything he picked up on the screen. Amongst the debris that scattered around, the optical camera had managed to capture the image of the Valsalry. 

The… creature had an appearance that was hard to describe to someone without showing them the picture itself. It was humanoid, at the very least. In a certain point of view, Jiang Fei had actually thought it was cute. He had two arms, two legs, and a head; humanoid features, generally speaking. His skin was pink in color and was rough on the surface. Instead of five, he had three fingers that were thick and without a thumb. Its facial features were very much like a human's but was hairless, and much like the carapace of an insect, it had a clean, smooth facial skin. 

"That's a Valsalry?" Jiang Fei asked. 

"Indeed, an average one in fact," 0541 said. 

Jiang Fei had only turned away for a second and when he returned to the LDR monitor, the Valsalry was missing. 

"Where did he go?" Jiang Fei asked. 

"The ship! Captain! He's inside the ship!" 0541 blared. 

It would be fine if the ship's shield was taking damage but instead, it had been compromised. Judging from its readings, the shield was working as intended but it had failed in stopping the Valsalrian from entering the ship! 

"How the f*ck? Screw it! I'll chase him off myself!" Jiang Fei snarled

He turned to the girls and roared, "Prepare to welcome the guest!" 

"Huh? Guest? Are you talking about me?" said the Valsalrian as he appeared right in the center of the bridge. Jiang Fei was completely taken by surprise. The thing was an alien. Nothing could be more clear than its appearance, but it's speech, the way it spoke Mandarin, was flawless, as if it was raised in the official court! 


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