It was quite simply an unexpected shock!
An organism’s genetic chain is supposed to be natural, formed through the hands of mother nature.
But the gene map before them was definitely not that. It was a recognizable business trademark! Upon closer inspection, one could even discern the outline of the symbols. There was a globe that probably represented a planet, a sun image, and a triangular structure. The idea itself was out of this world, but it was obviously an alien business trademark. What was more incredible was that such an unnatural gene map could form a living organism, and one with good health and a specific function at that. It was a piece of alien technology beyond human comprehension!
The implications were endless. If there was a need for trademarking due to copyright issues, one could only imagine how many competing alien companies were manufacturing such plants. And who knew what other unimaginable products would be on sale.
All of this produced an immense pressure on the people aboard the Hope!
Because in comparison, where would mankind stand in the grand scheme of things?
Probably even lower than a space bug…
Everyone present was rendered speechless. They were all staring blankly at what everyone had to assume to be the peak of genetic engineering. It was an impressive technology that made everyone feel infinitely small. Even the usually stoic Bo Li was scrutinizing the gene map with a fervor shining in her eyes.
After he regained his senses, Yao Yuan hurriedly asked, “Are these plants near their harvestable stage? No good will come out of us running into the alien civilization that will return to collect them!”
The biologist hesitantly replied, “The plants that are assaulting the Hope are already way over their harvestable period. In fact, I would guess that most of the plants on this planet are way over their maturity. After all, they should be harvested long before they drain their host planet completely dry…”
To everyone’s surprise, Bo Li suddenly added, “The alien civilization that manufactured these plants either have collapsed or have forgotten about this planet, so we don’t need to worry about running into them.”
That reminded Yao Yuan of something, but without taking any time to dwell on it, he asked Bo Li, “How can you be so sure of that? Where’s your evidence?”
Pointing at the alien carcass inside the lab, Bo Li explained, “The composite organisms on this planet have evolved way beyond their initial symbiotic relationship. Following the drastic changes that have occurred to this planet, their relationship has transformed into a parasitic one. That process of evolution must have taken at least millions of years. No matter the civilization, if they abandoned their harvester for even one million years, one could safely assume that something horrendous has happened to said civilization.”
Yao Yuan chewed over the facts before finally concurring, “Indeed, you’re right. Also, not only has the relationship changed, but these plants have even grown to cultivate a hive mind… Alright, everyone, a lot of the mysteries surrounding this planet have been made clear. Now I need to know if there are any ways to save the stranded Unit A and get rid of the plants draining our energy!”
That stumped everyone into silence. After seeing the plant’s impossible gene map, a pall of despair had settled over the room and it had not dissipated since. With their limited technology, how could man face something so much more advanced?
Was there still hope for the Hope?
Yao Yuan sighed. “Please discuss this further to come up with a solution to destroy the plants. You have one hour. It sounds cruel, but we don’t have time to waste. If there is still no result after the one hour is up, open the discussion to the public. Perhaps they will come up with some interesting proposals…”
With that, Yao Yuan turned and left.
Guang Zhen immediately made to follow. As he reached Yao Yuan, he asked, “Why are we leaving? Aren’t we going to stay to discuss the solution with everyone?”
Yao Yuan shook his head. “We have another problem to worry about. Dealing with the plants requires the intellect and expertise of the scientists, but rescuing the trapped geological unit is our responsibility… There are about three thousand people combined in those units; we can’t just abandon them!”
Guang Zhen saw a serious look return to Yao Yuan’s face. He was very familiar with that look. Every time they found themselves in the brink of disaster, Yao Yuan would put on that serious façade and eventually the problem would be solved. Hence, he knowingly asked,
“You have thought of a way to handle those alien creatures, haven’t you, Ol’ Cap’n? But how? There are so many of them.”
Yao Yuan nodded affirmatively. “Indeed, there are many of them. Not only that, they are also hidden underground, big in size, relentless in their attacks, and almost invincible. However, there is a rock to every scissor, a scissor to every paper, and a paper to every rock. That’s why I decided to pay a visit to the lab, to learn of these creatures’ weakness. Now I’ve found it, it’s time for action. It’s time for Operation Battery!”
A few minutes later, in the fifth floor war room, every squad leader and lieutenant except Ebon had gathered to listen to Yao Yuan’s plan for rescue.
“…those are all the key details regarding the rescue operation. The most crucial part is the batteries’ deposit location.”
Yao Yuan looked at the soldiers before him and saw that some were jotting down notes. He continued, in a severe tone, “Currently, there are two groups that need rescuing. One is at a mining encampment twenty kilometers away from here. There are about two hundred soldiers, three hundred plus scientists, and engineers that remain there. They are also accompanied by a fleet of hovercrafts, whose actual number I’m not entirely sure because we have to take into account a few of them being damaged in the alien assault.
“The other team is only three or four kilometers away. This group has about two thousand and four hundred people. Among them are about two hundred soldiers with the rest being unarmed civilians. They don’t have access to any hovercrafts, so they are travelling by foot. Because they have to rush back to the Hope, they can’t stop to garrison themselves. There are only reports of small skirmishes so far, but if they are attacked by a big group, their fate will be worse than that of the group stranded at the mining site!
“To ensure everyone’s safety, every single hovercraft on the Hope will be at your disposal. This is to make sure there is enough space to accommodate everyone.
“First, all of the hovercrafts will move to save the larger group. Then two will stay to escort the survivors back to the Hope. What you will have to do is drop a battery every ten meters. Essentially, there will be two hovercrafts bookending the return trip that will be dropping batteries along the way. For a three kilometer journey, you’ll need about six hundred batteries, but to be sure, the two hovercrafts will be carrying a total of one thousand batteries. If monsters appear, drop more batteries to lead them away from the main team.
“All of the other hovercrafts will move on towards the encampment. Also, I want to remind everyone to not open your space suits’ helmets, because that will attract the attention of the monsters. When you’re at the camp, this is the plan: deposit batteries at its outer perimeter to lure the creatures away from the inner camp. When the opportunity presents itself, swoop in to complete the rescue.
“This operation as a whole is not complicated but incredibly dangerous. This is because you are not facing human beings, and it is on unfamiliar grounds as well, so do not let your preconceived notions get in the way. If there are emergencies and you can’t contact the Hope, look for your own way out! If it helps the goal of saving the people, you are allowed to make use of any machinery and even the hovercrafts in any way you see fit. I will not hold you men responsible for any damage.
“Just keep this in mind: there are only twelve million of us left. We can’t afford to lose anymore. Any single one of these fellow men could be the light that keeps the future of mankind shining!
“And dismissed! Be prepared to move out in ten minutes!”
Everyone in the room stood up to salute Yao Yuan. Then, in a chorus of multiple languages, a reply could be heard,
“Sir, yes, sir!”