sted time getting familiar with the interior of the ship. 

“Surgical equipment, hyperplasia ointment, a small scalpel, alcohol, and clean clothing.
I want to see these items in the washroom in under five minutes.” Louie instructed. 

She addressed this statement to the ship’s artificially intelligent automation system, Sophus[2]. 

Sophus was a system used particularly for military vessels which was similar to domestic housekeeping robotic units but with the additional responsibility of the automatic operation of the ship. 

“Jiang Wei.”

Louie continued speaking.
Jiang Wei acknowledged at once. 

“Look into Hyde’s current situation.
If you can contact him, tell him to report back quickly.”

She really was not in the mood to look after a rookie who just graduated from the military academy. 

This was the longest string of words that Jiang Wei had personally heard Louie speak. 

Truthfully speaking, Louie’s voice was quite unique. 

At first listen, her voice sounded like the emotionless, mechanical way of speaking that comes from AIMA, but perhaps because she had been undercover for over a year, her voice now carried a slight note of softness. 

To use a metaphor, it was a little bit like an ice cube in winter. 

The transparent, bulky cube refracted the clear rays of sunlight.
Within its body, the single beam of white light broke apart into a multitudinous riot of colors that scattered in all directions. 

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The ice cube’s edges were dulled under the sun’s heat and no longer cuttingly sharp, but after touching it for a while, one would soon discover that the cube had already adhered to them.
Should one try to remove it, the cube would take a layer of skin and flesh with it. 

A frozen beauty. 

Bitterly cold and high-handedly arrogant, but dazzling nonetheless. 


Jiang Wei performed a military salute.
Under Louie’s force gaze, which seemed to have the unspoken subtext ‘haven’t you gotten to work yet’, Jiang Wei immediately slunk off to the study. 

Then, Louie strode into the washroom. 

She turned the knob on the faucet——who knew what those researchers who studied the unified sensory perception of organisms in the universe were thinking, but frankly speaking, regarding the basic necessities of life, most organisms strongly preferred the manual controls of ancient times.
It gave them a sense of self-determination and freedom. 

Just because those old pedants spend days arguing back and forth over these kinds of questions, the particulars of the design of these vessels changed from day to day. 

Louie preferred automated appliances, but unfortunately, this vessel was clearly manufactured during a time when the ‘freedom of manual operation’ faction was in power. 

White, misty water vapor soon filled the washroom. 

The mirror seemed to be covered in a layer of winter’s frost. 

Louie stood in front of the mirror.
With effort, she managed to wipe a patch of the mirror so she could see. 

The mirror revealed the person reflected within’s fine collarbones, the contour of her solid musculature extending down from her shoulder.
Her wheat-colored skin intensified the sense of her physical strength. 

Louie’s face was worthy of being called ascetic; trust that, should this scene be photographed, it would not be inferior to those lively celebrities on stage and would perhaps even gather a large fan following. 

It was just too bad; this body’s owner did not have this kind of awareness. 

Louie picked up the scalpel which had already been prepared, lifted her hand, and searched her left arm for the wound, which had just begun to heal.
With a fixed gaze, she dug the scalpel into her flesh. 

Precise, swift, without so much as a superfluous splatter of blood. 

Due to physiological reasons, her arm inevitably shook. 

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Bead-shaped droplets of water—whether from the washroom’s mist or her body’s natural sweat, it was unclear—slid off her forehead and dripped onto her arm. 

She removed a thumb-sized, silver ellipsoid from her arm. 

It was one of those pieces of gravel, jewelry, and other small bits that had been embedded in her wound while she was ‘busy’ killing Lilith, to be exact. 

A little gift from that big man Zhao Yu. 

A little bauble beneath notice, stolen from the hands of a Sylouisian. 

The Federation Police’s Headquarters would only complete a body search for these ‘liberated slaves’ at the lowest security level.
Aside from stuffing the object into her body, there was no other way for her to bring it along. 

Louie released a muffled groan.
She randomly smeared waterproof ointment on her bloodied arm, then submerged her whole body into the bathtub. 

The hyperplasia ointment promoted the growth of new cells.
At a rate fast enough for the naked eye to pick up, the flesh of her wound began to heal.
The numb feeling made her feel a little itchy. 

She smoothly reached out a hand and grabbed the bottle of rum beside the bathtub.
She ripped the cap off with her teeth, then gulped some down. 

As the cold alcohol slid down her throat, the crease in her brow eased slightly.
Louie shut her eyes and at last let out a long sigh. 

People who graduated from AIMA were not emotionless robots.
They had been drilled and taught that their own, superfluous feelings needed to be concealed to the highest degree possible. 

When needed, they could relieve themselves with the aid of alcohol. 

The people of Almia had never needed to possess their own desires.
From the past and even until the present day, when the planet had become the universe’s premiere academy, this remained resolute. 

Long-frayed and taut nerves relaxing under the influence of the hot water and alcohol made Louie let out a lethargic, sleepy breath. 

She was like a contented cat, shutting her eyes as she found relief. 

This lasted until she connected to the Avaricious Wolf’s specialized Star Link network and received an urgent report from Jiang Wei.
She suddenly opened her eyes. 

Desolate and abstruse, like an all-absorbing black hole. 

A short briefing note appeared in front of her eyes, the news from Jiang Wei hanging suspended on its surface:

“Lieutenant Colonel Hyde de Witt unfortunately encountered a Kunpeng while passing through the transfer point on the return journey.
Onboard was the other personnel, as well as an interstellar wanderer.
Both are missing!”

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