1252 Triumphant Return

    "Yes, it's me, captain! 0541 reporting for duty. Glad to be of service," the assistant happily replied.

    "Quick, tell me what happened!" Jiang Fei urgently asked, cutting their reunion short. He was not able to rest well without confirming that Akatziris was really dead.

    "Well, I'm not too sure about the details myself, but I can give you the info we collected from scanner readings and my own conjecture based on the data..." 0541 then briefly paused and pieced all the acquired information together before relaying them to Jiang Fei.

    According to the AI, when the detached holding cell had disappeared without a trace, 0543 had deduced that it has been reduced to nothing after receiving the combined firepower of all of the ship's main cannons at the same time. But her deductions proved to be wrong when the holding cell reappeared undamaged out of nowhere sometime later.

    Shortly after that, the ship's scanner logs recorded that there were signs of spatial distortion around Braveheart, followed by a complete system shutdown. And by the time the ship's operating system had booted back up, the acting ship's virtual assistant 0543's software had for unknown reasons crashed, and 0541 had been reinstated.

    As soon as 0541 had regained control over Braveheart, he discovered an unconscious Jiang Fei along with the wrecked remains of Akatziris' mechanical body lying motionless on the ship's bridge. Her memory chip was also found to be damaged beyond repair, prompting 0541 to declare the captain dead.

    On account of the captain dying and the two other remaining Namekian survivors being exiled some millions of light years away, Braveheart fell into a captainless state once again. Thus, 0541 conveniently appointed the unconscious Jiang Fei as the new captain.

    As 0541 compiled his report, he deliberately left out the details of his almost being deleted and only gave Jiang Fei the good news. The AI had already evolved to the extent of gaining the capacity to experience emotions and a human-like personality. 0541 did not want his best friend to feel indebted to him despite almost getting his software deleted for saving him. And since he had somehow survived termination and his program codes were still intact, he did not want Jiang Fei to worry unnecessarily.

    "So... is she really dead?" Jiang Fei wanted to confirm the death of his worst enemy again. He was still oblivious to the fact that 0541 had put his life on the line to orchestrate the events that had led to the fusion of the two Cores of Will that eventually led to Jiang Fei turning the tables on Akatziris because 0541 had decided to keep mum about that.

    "Yup! No advanced android could not survive with a damaged memory core like that. Not even her," 0541 answered.

    "Then... Braveheart is now mine?" Jiang Fei asked.

    "Well, you can say that. Unless of course, the other two exiled Namekians somehow find their way back to the ship," 0541 stated. Even though the chances of that happening was very minuscule, technically it was still a possibility.

    "What are the chances of that?" Jiang Fei asked.

    "Less than one out of 15,000,000," 0541 replied. Ragnaros and Therazane had been revived using biological means and were now made of flesh and blood. It was highly unlikely for them to survive after being randomly flung 5 billion light years away from Earth. And even if they did, they were not furnished with the necessary equipment or ability to record the interstellar coordinates like the superior androids were and would not be able to find their way back here easily.

    "Isn't that as good as zero? Then why are you even bringing that up?" Jiang Fei rolled his eyes at the reply. For one, he did not believe himself to be so unlucky to the point that his two enemies would somehow survive and return to Earth for revenge. In addition to that, he now had a new source of confidence-his new power. Even if those two Namekians succeeded in making it back alive, he no longer had a reason to fear them. In fact, they should be very afraid of him instead!

    Jiang Fei then remembered about his new power and tried focusing his mental powers to activate it but quickly became dumbfounded when he realized that he was unable to muster even a sliver of mental power from his consciousness.

    "What the h*ll?"

    Jiang Fei was flustered. He did expect his new power to vanish so quickly and mysteriously before he could even learn how to use them properly.

    "Oh, don't worry about that, captain." 0541 seemed to know what the boy was panicking about and responded to his confusion immediately. He had already given Jiang Fei a thorough medical check-up while he was still unconscious and knew about his condition beforehand.

    "You know what's wrong with me?" Jiang Fei anxiously asked the virtual assistant.

    "What you're experiencing right now is similar to physical exhaustion." 0541 started to explain. "Except instead of your stamina, it is the mental powers inside the Core of Will that has been drained. But rest assured, it will eventually recover by itself over time."

    Although Jiang Fei had no means of accessing his newfound powers, all of his toughest enemies had already been eliminated. Even the Mutants Brotherhood and the European Vatican posed no threat to him now that Braveheart was completed and operational. He would not need to rely on the Core of Will in any fights anytime soon.

    "Phew! That's a relief!" Jiang Fei breathed a sigh of relief when he heard that his mental powers were not permanently gone.

    "But I must warn you not to use your mental powers unnecessarily. It takes an extremely long time to replenish the mental powers in the Core of Will and you should really be using it as sparingly as possible. Keeping it as a last resort would be wise," 0541 suggested. Although he had no clue as to exactly what kind of new ability Jiang Fei had used, the fact that it was able to control a spaceship the size of Braveheart meant that it was very powerful.

    "How long will it take until I get my mental powers back?"

    "Unfortunately, I don't know. We still don't have any data about this and I'm unable to calculate that yet...Sorry." 0541 rarely exhibited any signs of helplessness, but it was reasonable given that there had never been any recorded case of two energy cores combining into one, let alone any data about how much time it took to replenish the mental energies stored inside an upgraded Core of Will.

    "Yikes! If I knew that, I wouldn't have messed around with it that much!" Jiang Fei pouted. When Jiang Fei tapped into the mental powers of his new Core of Will, it had felt as if it contained unlimited amounts of energy inside and never suspected that the boundless power within it could all be used up. And so when he finally learned how to use his powers, he had sent the entire Braveheart as well as its crew into the tenth dimension without thinking too much of it. Jiang Fei realized in hindsight that he previously had to expend large amounts of energy in order to keep his domain up and running, so of course it would take far more than that to move an entire spaceship across dimensions.

    But it was fortunate that Jiang Fei did just that or 0543 would not have been accidentally removed by the teleportation. Even if her controlling Braveheart was not enough to threaten him now, 0541 would have been erased if she was still in control.

    Perhaps fate had a hand to play in their stroke of luck. Jiang Fei may have unknowingly expanded his entire supply of mental energy and was unable to use the Core of Will after that, but it had been just enough to unexpectedly save the then dying 0541, returning the virtual assistant's favor of saving his life, and also stopping short his silent sacrifice.

    After taking all that in, Jiang Fei realized that it had been quite a while that they have left Earth since being captured by Akatziris. He had no idea what had become of Earth after being gone for so long. Jiang Fei thought about what his next move should be and decided that they should all return first.

    "Let's go home."

    "Sure, but we are quite heavily damaged and it would be a bad idea to bring Braveheart anywhere near Earth, the gravity itself would be too much for the ship to handle. I suggest that we first get to the moon base, and I can teleport you all back home from there," 0541 suggested.

    "That's fine. I'll leave it up to you." Jiang Fei trusted 0541 more than all his previous assistants. He was also not too keen on the idea of bringing Braveheart too close to Earth. Not only would he be scaring ordinary fellow humans with the sheer size of the spacecraft, if the pull of Earth's gravity was too strong for the ship to handle in its current damaged state and caused it to break down, it would cost him too much.

    "Very well. I've set a course for the moon base, estimated four hours and fifty-three minutes to arrival."

    Thus began their triumphant return.
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