s only followed the strong. 

Facing the commander’s praise, Louie would never dare be remiss.
Just as she was going to resume her salute, she remembered his words ‘don’t need to be so reserved’ and had to straighten her waist, replying, “I thank the commander for his favor.
May the commander’s military career be prosperous and accomplished.”

“Young people just love to use these respectful expressions, that’s all.” The commander smiled as he shook his head.
His sharp gaze sliced through his smiling countenance, piercing directly through Louie’s eyes, “No need to state your report here.
Just file it when you return.
Now, give it to me.”

Louie affirmed, then quickly took out that ‘seed’ that had once been stuck inside her body. 

The commander took the ‘seed’ and turned it over in his hand.
He did not think that it would look like such an ordinary object. 

With a natural ease, he tossed it into the drawer and continued with a faint sense of commendation, “Well done.” 

Louie did not say a word. 

Because she saw the commander stretch out a hand to pick up the teacup from off the table and attentively blow away the steam rising off the surface.
He did not seem to be finished speaking. 

“Say…now that your mission has been completed, what reward should you receive?”

Louie’s eyelid twitched. 

These words were dangerous. 

All missions had fixed procedures.
When receiving the assignment, one would generally find out the grade of said assignment.
The merits would accumulate for a later promotion as part of a specialized process. 

And for the privileges of the highest levels, intervention in this process was even more impossible—with the exception of the person at the top. 

The commander had absolute power; even if a new recruit at the military academy was accomplished, without the express recognition of the commander, no one dared have their own opinion on the matter. 

Conversely, no reason was necessary to demote someone of high rank. 

The commander always had his reasons.
Soldiers need only obey. 

Louie did not dare accept his words, so she could only feigh that she had not heard. 

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“How about I promote you to lieutenant general?” The commander took a sip of tea, then smiled lightly, “You’d be the youngest lieutenant general in the academy’s history, forever memorialized in the history books.
What do you think?”

Louie knew that, at this moment, she ought to reply ‘I thank the commander for his favor.’ No agreement, no rebuttal—all of the power in the hands of the other dominant party. 

However, with a bravery of unknown origin, she unexpectedly opened her mouth and asked, “Why?”

It was like a bolt of lightning splitting the sky.
A single, ordinary word was like a ten thousand pound weight.
At last, there was a ripple in the commander’s calm, congenial expression. 

He held the teacup in his hands and, for the first time, looked at the young person across from him with a curious gaze, considering her with deliberation. 

The corners of his eyes crinkled.
He asked somewhat mirthfully, “Why?”

He repeated Louie’s question, as if he had just heard an enormous joke, and then repeated it once again, “You are asking me ‘why’?”

An immense pressure was unleashed. 

Louie was almost frightened into retreating a few steps by the chilly atmosphere taking form, but the fortitude she had developed over many years enabled her to simply lower her gaze, “Apologies! I overstepped!” 

Soldiers could never ask their superiors for reasons.
They could only answer yes or no. 

This was the code of survival for each and every soldier, engraved on their bodies. 

And at this moment, Louie had just asked the highest ranking man on the entire planet a brainless question like ‘why’—equivalent to the defiant attitude of illiterate disdaining a postdoctoral researcher for not knowing that 1+1=2. 

Louie’s back broke out in a cold sweat. 

She really was ill to ask an unexpected question like that!

Muddled by illness. 

If the commander forgave her, she would go receive a psychological examination as soon as she could. 

But there was no ‘if.’

“Rest assured.
My opinion of you remains unchanged.” In the moment when she was inattentive, the overwhelming pressure suddenly disappeared. 

Louie immediately lifted her head. 

…It’s fine?

However, she only saw the commander pick up her file and say mildly, “Every mission must have its conclusion.”

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He paused, then looked at Louie kindly, “You could become the first twenty-one-year-old lieutenant general in the academy’s history.
At the same time, you would become the first lieutenant general sent on an intergalactic exile mission from the academy…oh, it would be more appropriate to say the first ‘soldier’.”

“This was a hidden clause decided when you were sent on the mission.
To maintain secrecy, you would only be notified upon the completion of the mission.”

Louie’s pupils suddenly constricted.
She unconsciously wanted to plead.
Just as she was going to say ‘no,’ she saw the commander softly raise a finger and place it on his lips.  

“Soldier E49749, receive your orders.”


Louie responded with a military salute as a conditioned reflex. 

“Tell me.
What is intergalactic exile?” The procedural question resounded mechanically. 

“An Almian tradition from time immemorial.
For esteemed individuals, a testament of insurmountable glory!” As Louie finished her words, she found that her voice was shaking. 

“Very good.”

The commander gave her a look of praise. 

“However, the method of exile during the Federation Era has been slightly adjusted.
Unlike how it was in the past, now it is a lifelong mission with a specific purpose in mind.”

The commander’s voice was temperate, like he was chatting with someone over lunch.
He chuckled, “I couldn’t bear to do it at first, given the steeply declining population after the Great War.
However, it seems now that the younger generation should exert themselves more, right?”

This was the fifth question she had been asked since meeting the commander. 

As with the previous four questions, she felt her blood run cold.
She could not provide an answer. 

The author has something to say: 

*cough* Anyone know about Aristides 

Alright, I won’t keep you in suspense.
This old legend came from the exiling ostrakon…well, it doesn’t have much relation besides his name on it. 

I didn’t think everyone would care so much about the addresses.
I will explain a bit here:

The main character should be a colonel.
Any discrepancies is because I changed the text…some of the earlier parts were not changed in time, my bad;

Later, when she rises in rank to a lieutenant general, the difference is due to her change in title, but she did not acknowledge it, so the way she addresses herself and the way he addresses her are different;

The address ‘commander’ stresses its relation with the military, while the address ‘commandant’ stresses its relation with the administration.

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