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20 Completion of Training

 Ivan woke up as to the sun was just rising above the horizon. Rays of light filtered in through the window of the room and shone onto the bed. He felt the soft weight on his arm as Iris lay against him, covered by nothing but the thin sheet of the bed.

He could feel her soft tail wrapped around his waist and the subtle movements of her chest as she breathed. Iris seemed to sense him waking up though and opened her eyes slightly with a composed smile. She shortly closed them again though, simply lying there peacefully with her head on his shoulder.

A brief squeak sounded as Valeria opened the door and snuck into the room. She saw Iris practically lying on top of Ivan but showed no outward sign indicating surprise or nervousness.

"Some people are here to pick up Iris," Valeria calmly spoke while looking at the two.

Valeria had completely recovered from her body's malnourished condition over the several months of eating full meals. She looked much more like a normal young girl, and even her chest showed minor signs of development, but not one of the hunters she trained with would dare underestimate her because of her small stature.

"Are you ready?" Ivan turned his head to look at Iris who seemed determined to go back to sleep.

"Mhmm," Iris hummed lightly in response and kissed Ivan on the cheek before climbing out of bed. She was inwardly embarrassed putting her clothes on as Valeria nonchalantly watched, but kept a calm smile on her face which made her thoughts impossible to guess.

Valeria walked with her to the door where an armed convoy were waiting with Yukeli to pick her up. Yukeli had told Ivan she was due for a compulsory health check, a benefit of ensuring that she remained healthy and could aid Ivan to the utmost of her capabilities. This was merely pretence that they both used with neither one of them exposing the true reason behind this inspection.

They took Iris to a medical facility, where several senior doctors inspected whether she had fulfilled her 'duty'. Just as she had expected, they took several samples before giving her a full checkup and sending her back to Ivan.

*****

Ivan never cared about the Folkien Empire taking some of his DNA, simply because they would never be able to examine it due to its four-dimensional construction. Not even Mazur could do this with the most powerful three-dimensional microscope. Perhaps the realized it was a hopeless endeavour, as they didn't force Iris to have intimate relations with him again.

Their daily life returned to normal after that one night together, but there were a few changes. Whilst they weren't constantly intimate with one another, Iris no longer slept on the couch but would sleep in Ivan's bed, whether he was there or not.

Iris couldn't be said to be in love with Ivan, but she was truly grateful toward him after all the support and guidance he had given her in order to be in control of her own life. The Vulpes society had a strong social conformity on the importance of a woman's purity and who they dedicate it to, so after giving her virginity to Ivan, decided in her heart to remain by his side for as long as she can, perhaps even coming to truly love him in the future.

Ivan also wasn't in love with Iris, but he appreciated her beauty and she was never an inconvenience by his side. She took care of his schedule and supported him however needed. The distance between the two of them became closer even in public, sparking a massive interest from the public media who rapidly made them into a celebrity couple.

Mazur's expectations of the employees to be able to learn the galactic common language in a year was also accurate, as they only took eleven months to be able to proficiently speak and write it.

The Poseidon was outfitted to hold a crew of 500 people. This mean there were 500 primary stasis pods, and another 500 as backups for any additional crew or to replace a damaged unit mid journey. This total of 1000 stasis pods were the primary reason Ivan had only chosen to hire a thousand people at once.

Mazur spent countless long nights modifying all these stasis pods to turn into evolution pods. The nanobots had been prepared, while Ivan had collected massive amounts of four-dimensional matter to use as fuel for the acceleration. Mazur had also made some modifications to the process, such as an autoregulatory system which will adjust the four-dimensional matter quantity in the pod to ensure enough elements are present at all time.

As everything was prepared, Ivan summoned all the new employees to the Poseidon. Nearly a thousand Vulpes men and women entered the cargo hold nervously. There had been countless rumors and conspiracy theories as to what it was like on Ivan's spaceship, but nobody had seen the inside.

The sides of the cargo hold had been separated into a thousand cubicles with standard partition walls, 987 cubicles which had the evolution pods prepared. Once everyone was on board the Poseidon, the cargo hold closed and Ivan addressed the nervous employees.

"Welcome," Ivan stood in front of everyone with a smile, Mazur, Iris, and Valeria standing by his sides. "We are in the final procedure before moving to where we will be establishing our base. At this stage, I will prepare you will full information as to where that is, and how we will be getting there."

There wasn't a single person who wasn't curious as to the answers of these questions. It was the most closely guarded secret that even Iris and Valeria were unaware of.

"Many of your people have been curious about my eyes, ears, voice and other aspects which don't match up with anything you could consider normal. This is actually very simple. The miners, hunters and other basic jobs most likely wouldn't understand, but the scientists will. The answer to this whole riddle is actually the Mazur and myself are not three-dimensional beings. We are four-dimensional."

Just as Ivan suspected, most of the new employees were confused, but the intellectuals, and even some others were so shocked their eyes seemed to be poking out of their heads. Iris, and especially Valeria, were not intellectuals, so they didn't understand the significance of the matter and didn't feel any shock.

"The location you we will be moving to is not within normal space, but subspace, otherwise known as the fourth dimension. This is the single greatest secret of Celestial Trade Incorporated, and anyone who reveals this news will be hunted down and executed, so I hope you all understand the seriousness of this confidentiality."

"Three-dimensional beings are incapable of being able to comprehend the fourth dimension, let alone enter it. As a matter of fact, three-dimensional matter cannot even enter the fourth dimension as the atomic bonds will rapidly break apart as it turns into pure energy."

"As employees of Celestial Trade Inc. You all will be undergoing a forced evolution into four-dimensional beings just like Mazur and myself. It is highly unlikely you will have a change of appearance as significant as Mazur, considering none of the genes in your body have been artificially modified, but there will be some changes to your sensory organs, such as your ears and eyes, during the process. Are there any questions before we begin?"

One of the scientists excitedly stepped forth and asked Ivan, "Pardon me, president, but what exactly is the process that allows us to evolve into four-dimensional beings? How does it work?"

Ivan didn't mind answering a question such as this, so he nodded in response and explained, "I will skip over all the scientific details, of which you can ask Mazur here after the evolution if you like. Four-dimensional matter, the equivalent compounds of the three-dimensional matter that exist within your body, will be fed to all the cells of your body simultaneously."

"They will then be forced to rapidly replicate with these new ingredients and replace themselves with the new cells. This process will be repeated time and time again, as your body grows over the dimensional gap and evolves."

Next came out a horticulturist, you young lady in her early twenties much like Iris, who nervously asked, "President, is this process painful?"

"Yes and no. You will be in a deep sleep through the process, but the evolution can be taxing on both your body and your mind, so it will most likely affect your dreams during your sleep. Once it is over though, dreams are but transient memories which will rapidly fade."

There were no other immediate questions, so Ivan continued to the latter of his speech.

"The most important thing to remember is your willpower, you must remain strong and confident during the process. If your will collapses, your body will most likely follow. There is a brief list of the main evolutionary benefits printed on a piece of paper in each cell, make sure to read this as it will inspire your determination."

"Everyone is to pick one empty cubicle with an open door. There is no need to rush, you can complete this at your own speed. Once you are ready, you need to remove all articles of clothing and any other accessories, before lying down and submerging yourself in the evolutionary pod."

"You may take a deep breath before this if it makes you feel more confident, but it isn't necessary. You will rapidly fall into an induced coma and the process will maintain your body. Once you wake up, all your cognitive function will be different, a separate information booklet has been prepared for that time. Do not descend straight into the fourth dimension."

"A word of advice, you will all be able to see each other once you wake up due to these partition walls not blocking off sight through subspace. Don't feel to embarrassed, everyone currently has to go through the same. I wish you all the best, now head off and choose your partition."

At the end of Ivan's words, all the employees began to move out and choose a partition, closing the doors behind themselves. The most excited of the bunch were the scientists, but everyone felt a trepidation of anticipation after looking at how much their lifespan would increase at minimum, and their ability to treat three-dimensional matter, even steel, like paper in their bare hands at will.

"Valeria, Iris, are you ready?" Ivan asked the woman and girl beside him.

"Yes." "Of course." The two calmly answered without hesitation at the same time.

Ivan led the two of them toward to partitions he had reserved for the two of them at the front of the cargo hold, he walked the two in and then left them to read the pamphlet and climb into the evolutionary pods afterwards.

At first, there were still sounds echoing faintly through the cargo hold; friends talking to each other across cubicles, clothes being taken off and dropped to the ground, and people climbing into and lying down in the evolutionary pods. These sounds gradually become more and more quiet until only the faint hum of 987 evolutionary pods operating remained.

With the process now started, Ivan spent several days making public appearances on talk shows and had several interviews with the news reporters that he would be joining the new employees in their transitional period. He would also be absent for another year as the company was building its foundation in a new land.

What Ivan said was that he would be gone for a year, but purposely concealing the information that he simply couldn't return during that year due to the planetary orbit. He needed to build guideposts in subspace so they would be able to find his home when shuttling between the planet and subspace. By the time this was completed, the planet would have moved too far on its orbit around the sun, and he would have to wait for it to come back around.

Many citizens of the empire were sad to hear this news, and prayed for the safe journey of himself and those that would be joining him. Meanwhile, the royal family of the Folkien Empire were greatly relieved to hear this news. They had purposely avoided meeting directly with Ivan throughout the past year, as they had no means to control him nor threaten him. He was simply too popular within their own citizens to openly oppose as well. With him gone, they would have much less to worry about as they expanded their army and conquered more lands with their superior weaponry and PES devices.

*****

Captain Argentear commanded his crew as his battleship flew through space at half the speed of light.

"First Lieutenant Percy, give me an update on the radars."

"Captain, the results are the same as the hour before, and the hour before that, and the hour before even that one. For a whole month, we have picked up nothing on the radars," First Lieutenant Percy had a haggard appearance as he wearily replied.

Argentear ignored his witticism bordering insubordination and calmly stated, "I don't care. I want updates every hour, or I will come see them. We are on a hunt for Mazur Ral Vendick, the person accredited as being the smartest mind in the galaxy. We cannot let him get away again."

"Captain, just remember not to try to blow them to space dust again. The Major said that if you do it again, you will be directly court marshalled. I will also be imbedded with you on the charges, so please have some mercy."

"I do not allow anyone to break the law and get away with it, no matter who they are!" Argentear said angrily through gritted teeth, banging his hand on the armrest of his chair. "However, for 10,000 battleship and 100 destroyers to form an inescapable net and slowly sweep through the predicted location of those two criminals, and for the Prime Minister himself to participate... I fear this is not so simple as the capture of a criminal."

Captain Argentear released his anger in a sigh as he went back to constantly pestering his First Lieutenant Percy for constant updates on the radars.