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It was eight in the morning. The winter sun was showing its rare hospitality in the little town up north. It shone through a large, gla.s.s window into the room and it was so warm that it turned the residents into lazy dogs. Lily however, was basking comfortably in the sun on a recliner that had just been moved out of the bas.e.m.e.nt. Meanwhile, Hao Ren and Vivian were each holding a large pair of scissors, busily working on Lily's tail.
*Snip, snip, snip*
Strands of white fur rained down like snow as Lily turned her head to look.
Hao Ren used his hand to smack her and said, "We're just tr.i.m.m.i.n.g your fur. Stop acting like you're getting a tonsure."
Lily yawned listlessly and her ears flinched under the sun. "Nice Battie... but, be careful with your scissors."
Vivian trimmed the excess fur skillfully. "Don't worry, I was a shearer. I have the skills, but let's be honest, I think it's better to shear the fur off entirely. That way, your new fur will grow a lot tidier..."
Lily became nervous and she glared at Vivian. "How dare you! That's disfigurement!"
After some time, Hao Ren and Vivian had completely returned her tail back to normal. He patted the silky smooth tail a bit and allowed the husky to perform some quality control. She got her a** off the recliner and turned her head; she wagged her tail happily. "It feels so much better now!"
Vivian forced a smile as she cleaned up the fur on the ground. "Just wait and see. It'll grow out again, at least until tomorrow.
Hao Ren looked at Lily, who was turning her head left and right, trying to get a better view of her own tail. Then, he turned his eyes to the dog fur on the ground and his stomach churned. He never imagined he would see such a thing. Let us put it this way: it was subtle and fun, but mind-challeging. As Vivian cleaned up the fur, he asked, "Can all this fur be made into a scarf?"
He grabbed some silver-white fur in his hand. The fur felt as smooth as silk and had a peculiar elasticity to it. The thought of the fur being cut from Lily's tail gave him an awkward feeling. Unlike Hao Ren, Vivian had no particular feelings towards the fur. She could not even differentiate underfur from normal fur. "You can't make scarf with it just like that. It can't be spun into yarn. But, I can process it with magic, making it more or less like wool. It'll be good for keeping warm..."
"Of course!" Lily was as proud as a peac.o.c.k. "My ancestors used to monopolise the transport business on both poles. Their anti-cold, anti-forst abilities were unmatched!"
Then, she pinched her white fur with a weird expression on her face. "Why didn't I think of this before? I shed every year, but I've been throwing away all the fur. Such a waste! I should've collected them and made myself a pillow."
Hao Ren's mind was totally defeated by the challenging conversation. In fact, he had already been severely traumatised when Lily came out of her room like a furry ball this morning, and he had yet to recover from it. Now, his state of mind was basically: I-don't-give-two-sh*ts anymore. Vivian could do whatever she wanted with the fur; after all, she knew the life of the devilish maiden better than anyone. Nangong Wuyue approached them, feeling curious. Her eyes were on Lily's tail, but her mind was elsewhere. "Lily, there's something I've been wanting to ask you for a long time, but I'm a little hesitant. Why is it that your fur is white?"
Lily was all ears. "Well, it's because I'm of a higher bloodline! A silver wolf under the full moon; don't you think it's cool?"
"But, the last time I checked, huskys aren't in that colour..."
Husky? That word sapped her spirit. She gave herself a few mental kicks and smacked her forehead. "Oh yeah, I'm a husky. What's wrong with this colour?"
Hao Ren thought about it for a while and said, "Did your mom run out of ink while giving birth to you?"
Lily glowered at Hao Ren as she howled and pounced on him. Hao Ren pushed her away and fled. He ran from the living room over into the kitchen, then upstairs... However, there was werewolf blood in her veins. Once she had her target in her mouth, she would not let go of her bite. And that was also true in this case. She only released her bite on Hao Ren when lunch came; he bite almost created a dent in Hao Ren's body shield.
Just as Vivian had expected, Lily's tail began to grow like a weed again in the afternoon. But this time, the dumbbell husky had lived up to her true personality and she was totally cool about it. She immediately prepared a pair of scissors and motioned Hao Ren as well as Vivian for help. Hao Ren was flabbergasted when he looked at Lily, who was now a happy bunny. Perhaps, the happy-go-lucky code was hardwired into her brain. She was attracted to anything new and fun, including turning her tail into cotton candy using a hair restorer...
Unfortunately this time, Hao Ren had no time to fix Lily's tail, because just as he was about to pick up the scissors, the MDT received news from Kuiper Sation—the little green men from the Kabala Commonwealth had arrived.
Once Hao Ren packed and suited up, he was on his way. He travelled light and only had the MDT with him—it was not a dangerous mission, just a short trip to meet up with some little green men and talk about some salvage work. He figured he could handle it by himself.
He also had another reason for going alone: he took a look at the band of creatures in his house and all they were good at was fighting. Only Y'zaks had better social skills albeit he liked smashing people with meteorites...
Kuiper Station was as quiet as usual. Irrespective of the time, the transit s.p.a.ce station in the remote fringes of the solar system only had a handful of crew members running the show. When Hao Ren opened his eyes amid the teleportation halo, he saw a familiar face—Lulu, the guide in front of him rather unsurprisingly. Lulu bowed and greeted him. She was all smiles before her face did a one-eighty and she said in a grim, businesslike manner, "Mr. Inspector, your conference room is ready."
Hao Ren nodded and smiled, afterwhich he followed Lulu to the central tower of the s.p.a.ce station. While he paced through an open corridor, he saw a few strange-looking s.p.a.cecrafts of different models parked at the docks. They looked like they were custom-built using standard parts and they were all covered in the same paint job. He was curious, so he asked, "Those ships are..."
"Ahh... those are part of the Kabala Commonwealth's fleet," Lulu explained to him, now smiling. "The alliance is const.i.tuted of many commonwealth powers, hence the differences in their s.p.a.cecrafts. Each of them sent their highest-ranking diplomat. That shows how serious they are."
Hao Ren was thinking of prepping himself up before meeting the little green men. Lulu seemed to know them so he asked, "Could you please tell me a thing or two about the commonwealth? Though I've read about them in the public repository, I've no idea about their taboo and stuff like that."
Lulu waved as she smiled. "In fact, you don't have to worry about that. The imperial const.i.tution had stipulated a set of standard protocol in dealing with cultural differences during meeting. The diplomats know what to do. About Kabala Commonwealth... they're a new rising commonwealth power attached to Kerbal Civilization Sphere. Let's first talk about Kerbal Civilisztion Sphere: 90% of the population are Kerbalians, the rest are elite-cla.s.s robots which they built and had obtained citizenship. This race has strong sense of curiosity, and curiosity to s.p.a.ce exploration is their well-known trait and is in the heart of their culture. Kerbalians love star exploration; they would launch a new exploration effort when they have spare resources every time and that has become the sole motivation in their social development. They continue to launch s.p.a.ceships every now and then to uninhabitated region, not for colonisation, not for hegemony, but just to see what's out there, such a weird race. Kabala Commonwealth is the most explorative of them all. In the early days, they were just a group of explorer-adventurers. But they had flown too far and lost contact with their home planet at one time, so they decided to camp out on a few planets and soon developed into a commonweath country. They have only recently reestablished contact with their own civilisation sphere and got recognition as an independent regime from Kerbal Civilization Sphere in a bewildered fashion..."
Hao Ren was amazed. "A bunch of dare-to-die adventurers?"
"Yup, that's what it is." Lulu said, nodding. "Travellers could often discover the many large and small colonies and commonweath countries nearby Kerbal Civilization Sphere, the existence of some of which even Kerbal Civilization Sphere themselves aren't aware of. Those places were mostly built by explorers who had flown too far. There's a saying among interstellar crew: Kerbalians fears no death, their only fear is death happens too close to home. Even their funeral is unique. They could sense their own death. They would put themselves on a launcher when they know they're about to die and compete to see who flies the farthest before they took their final breath in order to gain protection from their ancestors, or even become one of them."
Lulu suddenly paused, then continued. "Oh, I forgot to mention 'May Your Death Be Far From Whence You Come From' is a farewell phrase they always say to their friends, it means all the best and stuff like that. So be cool when you hear that."
Hao Ren was totally speechless.