Age of Cosmic Exploration
Translators: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lonelytree, _Dark_Angel_
Editors: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lucas
Chapter 122: 6 Months
6 months had passed since the formation of the Hope’s first space troopers. The year was December of 0001 according to Hope Calendar. This meant that mankind’s life in space was reaching its second year.
The first half of the 6 months was mostly dedicated to space combat training. Other than physical training, a majority of the regime was designed to familiarize the troop with combat in zero-gravity environment.
This was because unlike combat on Earth or solid ground, combat in space was multi-dimensional. Guang Zhen had described it as air-combat, but it was, in reality, more complicated than that. At least there was a general sense of up-or-down in aerial combat, a luxury that was conspicuously missing in space.
Furthermore, common directives, like the 4 poles, were also useless in space because conventional signs, like the constellations or the sun, were sorely missing.
However, a sense of direction and, more importantly, a common frame of reference was crucial to paired or group skirmishes during space warfare. There was no obvious solution unless one was to consider the Homo Evolutis’ innate ability.
All of the Homo Evolutis appeared to have some sort of inner compass that allowed them to easily and quickly ascertain the necessary target even in directionless space.
Therefore, to solve the general issue of disorientation, Yao Yuan had to assign each Homo Evolutis as a unit leader. Using one another as points of reference, Yao Yuan managed to devise a set of unique coordinates.
Of course, one needed more than just practice to truly master this rudimentary coordination system. It fell on the unit leaders’ hands to not only efficiently cooperate and fully understand each other, but also instantly digest and process geological coordinates to correctly lead their team.
Yao Yuan was worried this might prove to be too much of a hurdle for the Homo Evolutis, but his worry was ultimately unfounded. The Homo Evolutis turned out to be spatially-gifted, but whether that was caused by that their superhuman power remained unknown. Nevertheless, with this talent, the unit leaders mastered the coordination system with less than a month’s training.
In comparison, the other soldiers took more than 3 months to merely have an adequate grasp of it… After that was the space artillery training. The recruits were asked to try out space-use rifles, sniper rifles, machine guns, explosives, and finally, the Gaussian guns.
The recruits were not the only ones busy these 6 months. The researchers had also poured extra effort into the combat suit prototype. Modifications were added to the propeller system so that it could now last for 8 minutes. Its speed had gained a 0.2 percent increase, but regretfully, it still needed to exhaust its battery before it could be stopped or slowed down.
Other than that, using the research on the robot parts, the Academy was able to fashion a new type of space-use ammo that could neutralize the recoil force. This ammo relied on an opposite particle flux created during bullet discharge to find a balance in force. This unique mechanic, when paired with the electro-magnetized bullets initially found on Earth, could cause devastating damage even if fired from a common space rifle.
However, its damage was still lacking when compared to the Gaussian gun. Nevertheless, this also meant that they couldn’t solve the Gaussian gun’s recoil issue using this method… With all the training and research bustling about the Hope, the 6 months passed in a blink of an eye. By December of year 0001, all the training and equipment preparations had been completed. Now they only awaited Yao Yuan’s order before the venture into the junkyard would begin in earnest.
"Gaussian gun prototype 2, a new transport shuttle, prototype 2 combat suit, anti-recoil ammunition, particle flux propeller system… Looks like war and conquest will always be mankind’s biggest scientific catalyst."
Reading the data on his report, Guang Zhen sighed.
Yao Yuan corrected him, "No, not war, but survival. The meaning of this so-called war is not for conquest but survival. As the saying goes, a cornered animal is a dangerous animal. So it is the same for the Hope; we are desperate to survive and thus, we are desperate to improve."
Guang Zhen sighed once more, but he finally spoke his mind after a long pause. "Ol’ Cap’n, to be frank, I’m incredibly envious of the rest of you. Because I’m the only person in the Black Star Unit that’s not a Homo Evolutis, I’ve missed out on all the missions... Can I still call myself part of unit if this is the case?"
Yao Yuan looked at his friend in silence. Finally, Yao Yuan broke the uncomfortable silence. "Ol’ Wong, your situation is not so bad. Think of it this way… There is a high possibility that you’ll be the last Black Star standing, so it’ll fall on your shoulders to rebuild the unit… Promise me that you’ll not let it die… This star needs to have its place in the cosmos!"
The unexpected pun in his captain’s reply worked to lift Guang Zhen’s dampened spirit. He lifted his head and solemnly said, "Don’t you worry, Yao. I promise to keep not only the Black Star Unit, but also the Hope and humanity alive as long as I live… Your legacy will surely live on…" Uncomfortable with discussing such a mushy topic with his captain, Guang Zhen coughed. "Is the departure at 9 AM tomorrow?"
"That’s right. The first space troopers will board transport shuttle 1 to the junkyard at 9 tomorrow. We’ll finish exploring the previous warship husk and then search and secure the one nearest to it. That’s the objectives of our first mission."
The next day, 11 December 0001, the space troopers stood assembled at the shuttle hangar, inspecting their equipment and gadgets. Even though the unit consisted of only 301 people, it was the Hope's and mankind’s first large-scale operation. Everyone fell hushed, pressured by the uncertainty of their future and the solemnity of the occasion.
Yao Yuan could be found within the retinue of soldiers. It was 8:55 AM when he finished checking his spacesuit and arms, but the person he was waiting for still hadn’t arrived.
"Did you guys see Ren Tao?" Yao Yuan asked of his Black Star comrades that had congregated around him.
They shook their heads in return. It was Ebon who said, "I’m thankful that he’s not here. I’ve had it with that sissy. He and his sister are more burden than asset anyway. They’ll only bring shame to the military and Homo Evolutis name!"
Yao Yuan gave a wry smile and added, "It’s alright. We each have our own goals to pursue in life. We can’t really fault them for not going on a suicide mission. Furthermore, we’ll need to leave some Homo Evolutis with Ol’ Wong in case anything happens to us. Not all superhuman abilities are useful on the battlefield. In the end, it’s also for the good of humanity, so… let them be.
"We’ll start boarding now. Everyone, get on transport shuttle 1 while I alone shall pilot the shuttle. Over!"
Following Yao Yuan’s order, each unit leader led their team onto the transport shuttle. Yao Yuan noticed a slight commotion among the troops and realized it was caused by the team led by his nurse, Ji Jie. The nonplussed nurse caught Yao Yuan’s eyes and stuck her tongue out at him before grabbing hold of the situation and continuing to lead her unit up the shuttle. Yao Yuan smiled in spite of himself.
What Yao Yuan missed was the condescension and bloodlust that temporarily flashed across Ji Jie’s features after their little exchange… Finally, at 9 sharp, both shuttles left the Hope for the junkyard.
Using the communicator, Yao Yuan maintained control over his troop through Ying.
"Ying, a report on the situation within the transport shuttle," relayed Yao Yuan.
"…Everything’s normal," Ying replied, in his usual taciturn manner.
"Then, we shall go according to plan. Follow the lights of the shuttle in front of you, but remember to change the shuttle’s internal lights circuit over to a physical switch to minimize interference when we enter the 300 kilometers null zone. We will first return to that warship husk to salvage all of its valuables."
After giving the orders, Yao Yuan’s attention strayed to the 2 new buttons added to the shuttle’s control panel and a sealed envelope beside them.
Inside the envelope was a series of forbidden codes… It was mankind’s most powerful set of weapon at this time. It was the only effective offense Yao Yuan could levy against a large, AI-controlled robot fleet… A high-yield tactical H-bomb!