Age of Cosmic Exploration – Chapter 48

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The Daily Scoop (2)

 

“…The subject matter aside, where does their audacity to organize an illegal gathering come from? This is unacceptable!” fumed Guang Zhen.

 

Since there was only himself and Yao Yuan within central command, he was unrestrained in his speech.   

 

“Do they not understand that without Ol’ Cap’n, you, leading the way, they would be dead by now! We’ve labored day and night keeping this ship under control. Isn’t that been enough for these ungrateful sods? Have they forgotten the hell they were in before we came along? We’ve done everything we can for them, and how do they repay us? They complain! And a complaint that is in itself preposterous! Do they seriously think we won’t be honoring our fallen comrades? The insolence!”

 

While Guang Zhen raged on, Yao Yuan sat calmly flipping through a dossier. It was a report on the Hope’s various zones and their individual energy consumption. Details on each zone, like their function, importance to the Hope, and population number, were all noted by the experts who did the report. Yao Yuan was looking through it because he had to decide which, if any, of the zones needed to be shut down to conserve energy.

 

When Guang Zhen reached a lull in his tirade, Yao Yuan lifted his head and smiled understandingly at him. “It’s of no use telling me all this, Ol’ Wong. As a matter of fact, why don’t you try looking at it from their perspective… You’ll see that this is more than a simple meeting, it’s also a test.

 

“Their actions aren’t entirely unreasonable. For one, even though on paper we call ourselves humanity’s last hope, we are still a fractured community. Just look at the civilian campgrounds. We’ve tried arranging the placements in such a way that people from different cultures would mingle, but as time passes, they naturally separate back into their own little groups. There is obvious xenophobia.

 

“This meeting was organized and mostly attended by westerners. They are afraid their people won’t be represented and their death won’t be honored, which I find to be a valid concern. They see us as the Hope’s face of authority, and I have to admit, it is not a particularly inclusive representation. Therefore, they held this meeting to test whether we, the authority, would be receptive to their interests. There is a fear that because we are different from them culturally, we will brush them off as unimportant.”

 

After taking some time to ponder Yao Yuan’s explanation, Guang Zhen asked, “Then how shall we answer? Are you considering a compromise…?”

 

“Not entirely a compromise,” explained Yao Yuan as he flipped through yet another page of the report. “At the moment, the Hope can’t support a democratic system, or at least the idealistic democracy that the people have in mind. Until we have a hospitable home planet, we will not be relinquishing our military power. The community is still too young to govern itself. If I allow them to have elections, the concentration of power would be ruptured. The clash following it would only be troublesome. At this stage, the Hope needs a single consolidation of power to unite under. However, as a give and take, I have decided that the military will start to distance itself from the territory of civil rights.

 

“Make no mistake; the Hope’s survival depends on the progress that we make in the coming month. So that is our focus, but if we survive that, there are two things that I plan to propose: first, each of the communities will be allowed to elect their own representatives and have their own public council. Naturally, the power of this council is limited to civil movements and, as the military leader, I will retain the right to veto any motion that I find disagreeable…

 

“Second, the military will remove itself in stages from cases of civil suit. We will establish a police force and civil court to take over these issues. In terms of legislation, because of its scale, we will let the people discuss among themselves when times are more stable.”

 

When Yao Yuan went through his plan, Guang Zhen wanted to interject at multiple places, but every time he had stopped himself at the last moment. Noticing this, Yao Yuan chided him, “Ol’ Wong, I know you were a dedicated politician, but… everything has its place. Don’t get your priorities mixed up. Isn’t one instance of anarchy enough?”

 

“…I understand. I’ll take your advice and only focus on military issues from now on,” sighed Guang Zhen.

 

Yao Yuan smiled sympathetically, adding, “These talks of politics tire me. Let’s talk about something more interesting… the case of Homo Evolutis.”

 

With a serious tone, Guang Zhen replied, “I still have my reserves regarding this superhuman state that you and Ying talk about, but since you are so sure, I guess there’s no harm discussing it… You have to understand that since I’m the only one within the Black Star Unit that hasn’t experienced this mysterious sensation, I have my skepticism.”

 

“Of course… To be fair, everything we know about this Homo Evolutis is also speculation. But based on the various incidents on Planet Sahara, the fact that it’s real can’t be denied anymore. I’ve asked the Academy to look into this issue and they noted a link between this and Virus X. Here are some of their initial findings,” said Yao Yuan as he tossed Guang Zhen the report.

 

Yao Yuan had skimmed the report beforehand. It read that the fever caused by Virus X might be the seed that birthed the new generation of Homo Evolutis. Another observation was that with the exception of Yao Yuan, those that survived Virus X were all under age 30, so in a way, Yao Yuan was secretly glad that the 34-year-old Guang Zhen hadn’t fallen to the weird sickness.

 

He and Guang Zhen went way back. When he was the Black Star Unit’s leader, Guang Zhen was his second in command. And when he left, Guang Zhen stepped into his shoes. Guang Zhen was great at many things, but the quality Yao Yuan was most impressed with was his prudence. He had a way of dealing with messy situations that made sure the required result would eventually pan out. That was why Yao Yuan was so willing to hand over the Hope’s leading position to Guang Zhen when he needed to step out. Guang Zhen was indispensable.

 

However, Guang Zhen was pissed because he wasn’t given any superhuman ability; he felt understandably left out. While the rest of the Black Stars were outside having their own adventures, people could spot their acting captain stalking around the Hope with an upside-down smile plastered on his face.

 

He reluctantly accepted the report and started to read through it. That was another reason why Yao Yuan trusted Guang Zhen, he always wore his feelings on his sleeves.

 

“The number of people who survived Virus X was 102. Seven of them died on Planet Sahara, so that decreased the number of suspected Homo Evolutis to 95. 18 have been confirmed to exhibit signs of superhuman capabilities, the rest are still under observation.

 

“Below are the known Homo Evolutis types. We have the Diviner, like Lieutenant Zhang Heng, who can predict incoming danger seconds before it actually occurs. According to the experiments conducted, this power is passive in the sense that it is automatically activated 90 percent of the times when danger is imminent…

 

“We have the Deceiver, like Mister Jay, who, according to field reports, can influence a foreign party’s thought processes through psychological manipulation. This power is active. The trigger mechanism is unknown, but it appears not to be activated by danger…

 

“We have the Seeker, like Lieutenant Ying, who can observe his surroundings in perfect details as if viewed through a microscope. It greatly improves marksmanship. This power is active. Trigger mechanism is pressure from danger…

 

We have the Whisperer, like Miss Bo Li and Mister Ivan, who occasionally receive mysterious whispers when contemplating important questions or scientific conundrums. The whispers inspire breakthroughs. Active or passive power undetermined. Trigger mechanism unknown…

 

“We have the All-rounder, like Major Yao Yuan…”

 

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