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Before arriving at the DX07 sector, Meteor slowed down and came to a stop. As per Sarila's instructions, the captain began broadcasting identification codes to identify themselves as a member of the Valsalrian Army.

If she hadn't done so, the entire ship, Federation origin or not, would have been shot down before even approaching any habitable planets.

"Approaching Hypercruiser, this is the Police Force of the Carldish Fort. Shut down all power generators and shields! We will begin inspection."

A fleet of patrol ships approached Meteor and surrounded it from all directions.

"Do as they ask," said Sarila.

If they wanted to take refuge in the fort, they had to obey every instruction given. Refusal to cooperate would only result in utter destruction. The captain quickly followed Sarila's orders and deactivated every defense system, including the power generator. One police patrol ship docked and a group of 50 men boarded Meteor.

"Who is the commander here?" asked the Valsalrian policeman as they entered the bridge.

"I am," declared Sarila, stepping down from the commander's seat to present herself.

"Identity?"

"Sarila, 7th Fleet, 13th Division, Vice-Fleet Commander," she answered.

"13th Division, you say?" replied the man, arching an eyebrow as he scanned Sarila.

"Yes. The 13th Fleet, led by Fleet Commander Alexis, was tasked to intercept the retreating Trade Federation fleet. Our mothership was destroyed but we managed to breach and take over this Federation Hypercruiser," said Sarila.

"Mhm," the man hummed and turned away.

Sarila now represented the Fleet's command and was not allowed to retreat from the battlefield without higher orders. However, there was an exception to that rule.

In case of the destruction of one's boarding ship and the successful takeover of an enemy ship, they would then be allowed to remove themselves from the battlefield to deliver said ship to base.

"I want verification on all personnel here."

The policeman, who apparently was the chief, ordered the others to start working. A line was quickly formed and going through more than a thousand personnel was fairly fast and easy.

"Good. Identity verification confirmed. All of you are to return to base. Leave the ship behind. I will send shuttle crafts to ferry you there," said the chief.

With that, Sarila, Jiang Fei, and the remnants of the 13th Division were to report at the Carldish Fort. As for the previous crew of Meteor, they were to remain in the ship. Without the access codes, they could not do anything but mingle about.

Sarila was not happy about the police taking over the ship, but with the current situation, she had no power. They were visitors of another territory and it would be wise for them to follow orders, or risk being terminated.

"What is to become of us?" asked Jiang Fei as all the soldiers were ferried away from Meteor.


No matter how you looked at it, the ship that they had taken over with their blood and sweat was no longer theirs.

"I do not know. Just follow what they say," said Sarila.

Their fate was bleak and all they could do was to hope that the High Commander of Carldish would be fair to them.

The entry procedure was smooth and fast. In no time, every soldier of the 13th Division was relocated to a large pod attached to the main central station via a long tunnel. The entire station looked like balls, or pods, attached modularly to the main central station in the center.

"You are all free to use this area, albeit with some restrictions. For now, rest, recuperate, eat, and clean yourselves. If you have any questions, you may ask me. My name is Trakus," said one of the Valsalrian police officers who was in charge of the pod.

Sarila thanked the man herself and sent all soldiers to be off-duty until summoned.

The first thing that everybody did differed greatly from each other. Some headed to the shower room first, some to the canteen, and some dropped to the ground and slept right away.

It was only natural as they had just survived a hellish battle. For them, as long as there is a floor to sleep on and food to eat, that place would be heaven.

When everyone left to do their own thing, Jiang Fei and Sarila headed to the canteen for a meal.

"What do you know about Aino? How do you think he will treat us?" asked Jiang Fei.

"I do not know much about Aino. All I know is that the Hypercruiser no longer belongs to us," said Sarila in a dejected tone.

She was tired, battered, and mentally drained. Although she had been forced to join the 13th Division against her will, the relationship between her and Alexis was not as bad as one would think.

Alexis had treated her like his own daughter. Now, with no means of communication with him and the decimation of the 13th Division, Sarila could not help feeling sad.

"The ship is just a material possession. I do not care for it. What's important is how we're going to survive after this," said Jiang Fei.

After becoming Theon's student, his perception of material possessions had changed slightly. Meteor was obviously a more powerful ship than Redstone, yet Jiang Fei had a super shuttle craft that could outrun it!

Perhaps that was why he was not at all saddened by the loss of the Hypercruiser.

"By the way, I might not know much about Aino but I can tell that he holds a grudge against the 13th Division. Right now, we are at his mercy and all I can say is… prepare for the worst," said Sarila.

"Prepare for the worst, huh… so be it. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it," replied Jiang Fei.

Concurrently, he had decided how he was going to retaliate. If Aino was fair to the division, he would leave him be. But if he did anything else, Jiang Fei would persuade Theon to pay a visit to Aino's treasure vault more often than he deserved.



For the next 72 hours, the entire division was left unattended, as if their existence had been forgotten. That being said, all manner of facilities and provisions were provided to them.

The three days they spent in the pod were the best times of any soldier's service as part of the Valsalrian Army. The entire pod was as huge as the Hypercruiser itself, and there were all sorts of facilities installed.

Basically, everything they could ever need or want was ready for their use. It was, oddly enough, fair treatment. Nevertheless, being confined to the pod assigned to them was akin to placing them under house arrest.

Since they were all from a different fleet and division, Jiang Fei and Sarila understood why they were being treated like this. More importantly, they were not affiliated to Aino in any way, their only connection to him was through the army they served. But being cooped up in a pod for so long didn't feel great either.

"Could you please inform Trakus that I wish to speak with him," said Sarila to one of the patrolling officers outside the pod's confinement gates.

Trakus himself had told them to call for him if they had any questions. Even though it was a long shot, Sarila wanted to try her luck. A few hours later, Trakus reported in and entered the pod to speak with Sarila. Jiang Fei tagged along.

"How has it been going? Do you have any complaints? Are there any faulty facilities?" asked Trakus. His tone was inviting and friendly.

Jiang Fei spoke first, expressing what he and Sarila had previously discussed, "Nothing of that sort. I wanted to know about our status. It is not right for us to be kept here. If it in no way infringes on Carldish, perhaps we could be sent back to Redstone."

"..."

Trakus said nothing to reply to Jiang Fei. Instead, he shifted his attention to Sarila.

"Sarila, how are your days here? I've heard that Cathtians such as yourself love a delicacy called Devil of the Lake. I have already ordered some from 15 different planets and it should be arriving by tomorrow!"

Alas, Jiang Fei's worst fears had come true. Trakus was only being courteous and friendly because of the beautiful Sarila. Of all the people to be in charge of them, it just had to be one who couldn't keep it in his pants!


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