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A particular meteoroid zone within the Federation was once an intergalactic flight course of the Federation. However, several centuries before, the meteoroids in this zone began to drift about wildly, their movement trajectories becoming extremely erratic and unpredictable, resulting in multiple tragic collisions due to the spaceships' inability to dodge them in time. Thus, this flight course was gradually abandoned by the Federation ...

What everyone did not know was that at the heart of this meteoroid zone, there was a space fortress disguised as a large meteorite mountain. Inside it was a hidden Federation military base ...

Meanwhile, those erratically moving little meteoroids surrounding the area were actually defensive satellites of the space fortress. The moment they discovered any unidentified spaceships deviating from the permitted flight path, they would hurtle over to chase the other away. If the other party insisted on keeping their path, the defensive satellites would then collide with the ships in earnest, directly destroying the offending spaceships.

It was one o'clock in the afternoon in the Federation. Inside the space fortress, the few surveillance staff responsible for monitoring the situation around the meteoroid zone were currently cosily seated together drinking some hot tea. After a busy morning, they could finally take some time to relax and chitchat for a bit after having their lunch.

"Who could have expected that in just one morning, we've already received nine ships ferrying the new cadets. It's really been crazy busy ..." One young surveillance officer of corporal rank complained as he stretched.

" Xiao Lin 1 , you're new here, so you don't know. This is our busiest time every year. All the students who managed to get into the First Men's Military Academy will come through here," said another young officer of second lieutenant rank with a smile, "And this is just the beginning. Most likely we'll be even busier in the afternoon. All of the respective spaceships picking up the new cadets from the various planets will definitely arrive by the end of today."

The second lieutenant's words received nods of agreement from all of the other officers. They had already been working here at this fortress for two to three years, so they were familiar with this situation.

The corporal called Xiao Lin slapped a palm to his forehead and moaned exaggeratedly at those words. "Heavens, there'll be more this afternoon? I'll definitely be wiped out!"

The second lieutenant cuffed him on the head exasperatedly, chiding him teasingly, "Wiped out from just this little thing? What a useless fellow."

Chastised, Xiao Lin hurriedly proclaimed his tenacious spirit which had no fear of difficulty or fatigue with a serious face to his leader. His antics caused the surveillance station to be a riot of laughter; the weariness of the morning seeming to fade away slowly between the peals of laughter.

Although the fortress had pretty good working conditions on all fronts, the work there was relatively monotonous compared to those of the other bases. In particular, these surveillance staff had to face the same unchanging meteoroid zone every day, so it was very easy for them to become somewhat sick of the job. Therefore, they had learned to self-calibrate their mentalities, learning not to just stay silent and grim the whole time they were working. Instead, they would do as they were doing now, joking around light-heartedly to ease their minds.

After a round of laughter, Xiao Lin suddenly snorted loudly, as if recalling something.

The second lieutenant glanced at him and asked, "What's up with you now?" This fellow would always come up with some situation or another every day; the second lieutenant was no longer surprised by this.

Xiao Lin covered his mouth as he snickered, "I'm just laughing at those new cadets. When they get off the ships, they're all so cautious, obedient like little rabbits. I've always thought that those who could enter the First Men's Military Academy would all be the super elites, that they would be somewhat cocky and unruly, or maybe haughty in their expressions or something ..."

The second lieutenant smiled and said, "That's just how it is now. They were not like that in the past. They were cocky and unruly just as you said ..."

Xiao Lin's curiosity was piqued by this statement. He asked hurriedly, "Leader, why do you say that?"

The second lieutenant said, "Honestly, I did not experience that time either. I've only heard about it from the last leader. He said that the new cadets did not use to be so obedient — like you said, they were all sorts of trouble, making a mess out of this area. In the end, the chief of base could not take it anymore and reported it to the superiors. And later, the situation became better, gradually becoming like what you see now, where all the new cadets are docile and obedient."

"Could it be that the quality of the cadets improved? Or perhaps they had been instructed by their scout academies?" asked Xiao Lin.

The second lieutenant smiled and said, "How could that be? Our Federation has always lived by the law of survival of the fittest. In order to cultivate strong fighters, the scout academies would never curb the students' competitive spirit and wilfulness."

"Then what could have caused the new cadets to become so docile?" Xiao Lin just could not figure it out.

Right then, one of the staff sergeants chortled and said, "That's because the ships sent out to pick up these new cadets are all the most outstanding of our army fleets. The members staffing them are all battle-experienced soldiers. Even if these new cadets are prideful elites with prodigious talent, they can only submit and give way before these hardened soldiers. Furthermore, military headquarters' instructions to these old soldiers on the ships were to beat down these elite princes a little, letting them understand that they are still really small fry right now and still haven't earned the right to be cocky ..."

Xiao Lin gaped in shock. "In other words, these new cadets have all been suppressed by our veteran soldiers?"

"Bingo!" Another sergeant chimed in with a laugh, "It's rare that our Xiao Lin is so smart for once ..."

Xiao Lin did not seem to sense the teasing nature of the sergeant's words. In an extremely thick-skinned manner, he said, "That's right, I've always been unbelievably clever!" This once again caused the entire surveillance station to become a sea of laughter.

"Attention everyone, another ship is incoming!" The smiling second lieutenant suddenly noticed a ship entering their surveillance range, and quickly alerted his subordinates.

The group immediately kept away their laughter, returned to their work stations, and began attending to their respective tasks.

"Checking data. Primary identification as the 7th Bugle Call from planet Doha!" A sergeant extracted the data of the ship and found a corresponding match.

"The other is sending a signal requesting permission to enter. The signal code has been authenticated!" Xiao Lin deciphered the signal source transmitted by the 7th Bugle Call, and after verifying that everything was in order, he reported to his leader.

The second lieutenant nodded and instructed, "Accept communications from signal source!"

Subsequently, a transparent pane of glass at the front of the surveillance station suddenly lighted up, and then a familiar figure appeared on it. Apparently, this viewing window which looked out at the starry skies also functioned as a giant screen.

The second lieutenant saw the figure and immediately stood at attention and saluted, "Senior Colonel Tian Fang! Greetings!"

Senior Colonel Tian Fang, who was the captain of the 7th Bugle Call, smiled wryly at this and said, "Greetings!"

"Please wait a moment. We shall arrange the parking port for your ship." The second lieutenant sent the data of the 7th Bugle Call to air control. Soon, the department had responded and connected to the 7th Bugle Call's voice comms.

Only after Senior Colonel Tian Fang's figure disappeared from the large screen did the second lieutenant breathe out weakly. Even just as an image, the pressure Senior Colonel Tian Fang exuded was still extremely overwhelming — this was probably what the presence of someone strong was all about.

Xiao Lin wiped the cold sweat from his forehead and said somewhat hesitantly, "Just looking at Senior Colonel Tian Fang's virtual image is enough to make me feel like I can't breathe. He's so strong! What kind of godly being is Senior Colonel Tian Fang exactly?"

The second lieutenant's face was filled with admiration and respect as he said, "He is the only one among the fleet captains who has entered Domain stage. Even though he is not a specialised mecha operator, his mecha control is also already at ace operator level. He is the 'earth powerhouse' of the 'heaven and earth powerhouse duo' of our Federation!"

"Ah! So he is the earth powerhouse of the heaven and earth powerhouse duo ..." Xiao Lin's eyes revealed his brimming admiration and respect. Compared to the god-class operator, who were like beings from legend, ace operators were undoubtedly closer to the grass roots. As such, they were respected and looked up to by countless warriors, who viewed them as their goal.

"Why would such an amazing person be sent out on this kind of mission?" Xiao Lin felt indignant on Senior Colonel Tian Fang's behalf.

"The place he went to is Doha. The cadets there include those from the Central Scout Academy, the gathering grounds of the cream of our Federation. Without someone like Senior Colonel Tian Fang, could they hold the fort against those top-notch prodigies?" The second lieutenant chided Xiao Lin for his shallow thinking. Although Doha had indeed not produced many top-notch prodigies over the past couple years, it was never wise to underestimate these sort of established brand schools with substantial roots. Who knew if an aberrant would suddenly appear?

Senior Colonel Tian Fang knew nothing of this discussion in the surveillance station that had been sparked by his appearance. Right now, he had already relinquished the captain's seat again and was standing in front of the screen, sullenly watching the new cadets bustling around the central control room.

Even though the cadets had gone through a day and a night of learning, they were still noticeably inexperienced in controlling the ship. Many times, they failed to pilot the ship to the coordinates provided by the fortress, and air control was beginning to become a little irritated.

Senior Colonel Tian Fang felt so embarrassed he could die. He knew that the staff in the fortress would certainly be speculating that he was drunk again ... his lifelong good reputation would definitely be lost here, but he could not explain things to the outside world, because the truth was even more embarrassing.

Senior Colonel Tian Fang looked at Ling Lan sitting in the captain's seat, as composed as ever, as if not at all concerned that the cadets would ruin the ship through their bumbling efforts. He could not help but ask, "Why aren't you at all nervous?"

" If the sky wants to rain, if your mother wants to remarry 2 ! What will be will be!" replied Ling Lan breezily. As long as the ship was not utterly destroyed, she had no objections. After all, this spaceship wasn't really hers anyway.

Senior Colonel Tian Fang instantly choked on a breath and said moodily, "I have never met anyone as daring as you."

Ling Lan's lips curved up subtly. "Otherwise I would not have been able to take over your ship." Completely uncaring that she was adding yet another stab to Senior Colonel Tian Fang's heart.

Senior Colonel Tian Fang was infuriated, and he muttered angrily, "I can't imagine who could have raised such a crazy son like you ... hells, doing this kind of things beyond human understanding."

The corner of Ling Lan's lips quirked, "Why, you wish to know? Perhaps you want to spar a little with my father?"

For some reason, Senior Colonel Tian Fang once again felt a surging sense of danger like none other he had felt before. His gut told him that he definitely should not respond and take the bait, but the indignation in his heart made him blurt out, "Of course, this old man should not bully the young, but why can't I go fight the elder?"

Ling Lan slowly approached Senior Colonel Tian Fang and then said airily, "You are welcome to go seek out General Ling Xiao!" Ling Lan's tone was filled with teasing mockery, obviously greatly looking forward to Senior Colonel Tian Fang seeking out her father for a fight.

"General L-Ling ... Ling Xiao?!" Senior Colonel Tian Fang gaped, struck dumb by Ling Lan's answer. Still, he had no doubts that this was true. After spending one day and night with Ling Lan, he knew that the other did not bother with lies. Besides, only someone like General Ling Xiao could give birth to such an aberrant son like Ling Lan. At this moment, Senior Colonel Tian Fang had completely forgotten the research proof of the Federation — the theory that said that the gene potentials of the descendants of god-class operators were destined to plummet.

Yes, this is actually the same moniker as one of those men who had been killed by Ling Lan during the GAM (same characters even in Chinese). Again, do note that 'xiao' is often just a diminutive prefix in nicknames, so it would not be uncommon for someone to be called the same nickname even if their names are actually completely different, due to the sharing of just one character. And well, this shouldn't be a strange concept since people have the same English name all the time.
Anyhow, this is a new character, while the other Xiao Lin is well and truly dead. No miraculous return from the dead for him. 天要下雨,娘要嫁人: This phrase was just too interesting not to keep in its original form, even though I could probably think up a good English localised equivalent. It basically means that there are some things that cannot be stopped or avoided even if you wanted to do so. This phrase is actually not quoted in its entirety here, the full version goes, 'If the sky wants to rain, if your mother wants to remarry —— it is out of your control!' I think that's pretty self-explanatory.

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