Age of Cosmic Exploration – Chapter 49

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The Daily Scoop (3)

 

Qi Xiao Niao, Lin Qiu Qiu, and Wang Dan Dan were sitting in their tent, chatting each other up.

 

The three guys were all students from Harbin Polytechnic University. Other than being each other’s course mates, their families were also each other’s neighbors. A brotherly bond was cemented through their years growing up together.

 

The story of impending apocalypse broke when they were still in university. Cancellation of classes aside, life in the university had remained for the most part unaffected. It was only after the university’s access to the internet was cut off that people started to panic. Students were asked to head back to their hometowns.

 

The trio intended to follow the mass evacuation back home, but horror stories of riots and rebel armies had persuaded them to spend one extra week around the campus for better preparation. Their cautiousness was a lifesaver because almost eighty percent of the people who blindly left campus never made it back home.

 

It took them three months to reach their hometown, and along the way they came across many of their friends’ dead bodies. It was a harrowing experience. To make matters worse, when they finally arrived at their destination, they found their family homes in shambles and their families long gone. Their biggest fear had come true.

 

With each other’s support, the three friends managed to recover from the initial trauma.

 

They matured from the experience. In the following days of anarchy, despite not having any weapons or fighting skills, they managed to round up a small group of survivors. With diligence and wit, they survived until rescue came in the form of the Black Star Unit…

 

A few months of anarchy had mellowed out the trio’s youthful impetuousness, but they were still adolescents in their heyday. The extended period of security on the Hope had returned them back from issues of survival to topics on video games and girls.

 

“Hey, bro, I just came back from the C4 district. There was indeed an unopened internet café. I snuck a look into it and saw rows of computers. Can’t tell their actual specs, but the monitors and accessories were all high end stuff! Can’t wait for it to finally open,” shared Xiao Niao, in between glugs of water.

 

His friends were visibly excited by the news. It even brought Qiu Qiu to his feet, saying, “Let’s go check it out!”

 

Dan Dan, however, remained seated and intoned listlessly, “You two can go ahead without me. They have promised us these entertainment amenities months ago. There’s still no update, so why bother? They won’t let us go in anyway… Also, weren’t we supposed to answer the military’s recruitment call this afternoon?”

 

Reminder of the recruitment slumped both Xiao Niao and Qiu Qiu back down to the floor.

 

“I don’t understand why are the three of us being recruited. We majored in engineering, shouldn’t we be assigned into the Workshop and not the army?” griped Qiu Qiu.

 

Dan Dan agreed, saying, “That is so true. In fact, we should be living in the Workshop right now and not here in the campgrounds. Like you said, why are we being enlisted? I do not get it…”

 

Xiao Niao, who had been thoroughly silent since he sat down, suddenly added, “I wonder how many of us think that way?”

 

Dan Dan and Qiu Qiu turned to stare quizzically at their friend.

 

Xiao Niao elaborated, “You said we deserve a better accommodation because of our education. Do you think many people here share that thought?”

 

Qiu Qiu instantly replied, “I believe many of us think that way. For example, the teacher couple a few tents away. They consider themselves part of the scientific community and believe they deserve a residence in the Academy. Also, Lee, who said he was a sociologist, noticed that the Hope, especially in its lowest three levels, still has many areas that are warded off.  If the authority would open these areas, all twelve million of us could have our own rooms and would no longer need to stay in these tents…”

 

Xiao Niao quickly warned his two friends, “Keep your distance from those people. These are very inflammatory remarks; the authority might not respond to them kindly.”

 

Qiu Qiu and Dan Dan nodded in return, with Dan Dan adding, “Do you think we are that dense? It’s the westerners that are acting on it, organizing these disastrous meetings. We are wise to stay far away from them.”

 

“Indeed, they fail to see that we have a different way of handling things. They prefer to go with ostentatious protests, but we prefer to bide our time. At the end of the day, we need the government, but the government also needs us. There are only twelve million of us left, and we are the foundation that’s holding the Hope up. The government could only do so much without irreparably damaging its own survival. Can’t these westerners see that things will eventually pan out? It is just a matter of time. In fact, I dare say, the government will soon roll out more residential areas, entertainment zones, and its own currency. These cries of dissention will only slow all that down,” Qiu Qiu supplied.

 

Xiao Niao nodded affirmatively. “As long as we know where we stand, it’s all good… Also, since you’ve mentioned the recruitment call, I’ll share some of the information I’ve gathered over the past two days.”

 

Without wasting any more time, he continued, “Hundreds of soldiers were lost on Planet Sahara. It’s only logical that the military needs new recruits to replace these vacancies, but there was one detail that struck me as weird… Of the people who were being recruited, more than twenty of them are women. I’m not saying that women can’t be soldiers, but the fact that so many of them are being recruited while there is not a single woman in the current administration is a bit weird. Therefore, I decided to do some more digging. Can you two guess what I found?”

 

“What?” his two friends asked in unison.

 

“Like us, all of these women were victims of the mysterious fever!” exclaimed Xiao Niao.

 

Being reminded of that torturous fever blanched both of his friends’ faces, but Dan Dan continued to ask, “What you’re saying is that everyone who survived the fever is being recruited?”

 

“It’s your choice to believe it or not, but ever since I received the recruitment call, my mind has been completely wrapped up over this mysterious fever. It was as if something was telling me that this fever was the key. And with that as the starting point, more clues started to surface out of the woodwork. Now, based on my analysis and inference, I’ve come to a conclusion…

 

“I believe there is something unique about us, the people who survived this fever. Look at our Major, the Black Star Lieutenants, and that guy, Jay who many hail as a hero. Is it not weird that all these eminent people survived this fever?  There must be something special about this group of people that the government knows but hasn’t divulged.”

 

“So, do you think that is why we’re being recruited?”

 

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