Age of Cosmic Exploration
Translators: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lonelytree, _Dark_Angel_
Editors: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lucas
Chapter 123: Intention
The nuclear weapon was a human invention that first arrived in the middle of the twentieth century. Of course, the earliest versions of these weapons of mass destruction were unlike the one wielded by Yao Yuan. They were nuclear fission-based bombs, more commonly known as atom bombs. Several decades after that, the H-bomb finally arrived at the scene. This new version, as its name suggests, used the power of molecular fusion between hydrogen atoms.
This was mankind’s most devastating creation, one that could easily cause its creator’s extinction!
Prior to this, mankind was pretty cavalier about their usage of weaponry and explosives, but that came to a screeching halt when it came to the usage of nuclear weapons. Caution was warranted because a single H-bomb could handily eradicate half of the Earth!
Even 80 years later, the H-bomb still stood proudly atop the ranking of mankind’s most dangerous weapon!
During the few months prior to escaping Earth, the Yao Yuan-led Black Star Unit was busy scouring the world for supplies. Their focus was on renewable resources, seeds, talents, parts, and equipment. Weapons and heavy artillery, like tanks, were relegated to the sidelines and oftentimes jettisoned.
The only exception was the H-bombs.
Regretfully, his search turned up no promising result for a long time. Despite his strenuous effort and deep web of information, there was simply no nuclear weapon to be found. In an uncharacteristically kind gesture, it appeared like the escaped government officials had desensitized Earth’s store of nuclear weapons before they absconded to prevent the chaotic masses from mindlessly blowing each other up. Yao Yuan didn’t know whether he should thank or kill them… However, on their final month on Earth, Yao Yuan happened upon the map of a secret military base encrypted within the Hope’s central mainframe. Finally, 4 high-yield tactical H-bombs landed in his possession!
The 4 missiles were hidden in a secret warehouse on the Hope. Even Guang Zhen needed the daily randomized password given by the central mainframe to access its location. A single misstep could blow up the Hope, so Yao Yuan had to be careful.
Prior to this mission, Yao Yuan’s conversation with Ren Tao had deeply unsettled the ship’s leader. Other than that, both he and Zhang Heng were assaulted by an insidious feeling as the day of the mission neared. Finally, they had to admit that this mission would most likely be besieged by difficulties, and on that note, an H-bomb would be handy in clearing out a large robot fleet.
Because of that, the shuttle piloted by Yao Yuan was fitted with an H-bomb missile that could only be launched by pressing the password-protected button. However, because the scale of the H-bomb’s explosion was big enough to affect both shuttles, Yao Yuan understood fully that the button couldn’t be pressed unless truly necessary. In other words, the button was no different from a self-destruct button… They lost electrical current and contact after entering the null zone, but thanks to preventive measures, the lighting system was unaffected. Both shuttles glided swiftly towards the previous warship husk, the one where the exploration party almost perished.
Electrical currents and signals returned when they were within 10 meters range of the warship husk. Guided by Yao Yuan, they returned to their previous landing spot. Yao Yuan stepped out of the shuttle after it had clamped itself to the warship floor. The transport shuttle shot out several ropes to entangle onto the husk’s ceiling and wall fixtures. This allowed its passengers to rappel onto the husk.
A roll-call was conducted to ensure all 301 were present on the warship. Then, the troop separated to carry out their pre-assigned objective. The Black Star Unit went to secure the area while the Homo Evolutis-led units started to comb the area. In just half an hour, the area around the entrance was cleared and they came back with about 12 alien devices and products. The lucrative salvage was more than what Yao Yuan had expected, and among them was a shiny, flat, circular object that for Yao Yuan looked most promising. The object had the appearance of a multimedia CD, and it brought joy to Yao Yuan’s heart because at least now they wouldn’t return empty-handed.
"We’ll move in slowly. Make sure the gap between each team isn’t too big. Stay close to one another, but please be careful of friendly fire!"
Yao Yuan’s directive was aimed squarely at the new Homo Evolutis. After all, their inexperience might cause them to make such a rookie mistake. One could train forever in battle simulations, but the actual ordeal was bound to be something completely different.
Finally, the troop reached the spot where they first ran into the tentacle robots. Yao Yuan switched over to a private line and asked, "Zhang Heng, do you feel any danger?"
Zhang Heng shook his head. "None. Not even those that tell me we’re being pursued. I believe we have cleared them out with the explosion."
Yao Yuan nodded in agreement. As Zhang Heng moved ahead, he yelled after him, "Then do you feel the pressure of an omen… like the calm before a storm, the inexplicable anxiety that always precedes a calamity?"
Zhang Heng turned to look at Yao Yuan in surprise. He dithered before adding, "I do… This feeling occurred to me even before we left the Hope, and it’s only getting stronger. I’m feeling extremely fidgety, but there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Do you think it could be related to the warship that we’re going to after this one?"
"…You might be right, but no matter what, we need to push on. We can’t abandon this mission," Yao Yuan sighed. He then patted Zhang Heng’s shoulder and continued to lead the troop forward.
The rest of the operation went smoothly. There was no robot left in the warship. After the Black Star Unit cleared the entire warship husk, all 301 of them sighed in relief. Other than the ones on guard duty, the rest of them started salvaging the husk for valuables. Slowly but surely, more discoveries started to appear. For example, a new music box was discovered. However, its system seemed to have been damaged because instead of music, a 3D image of a mysterious, blue plant appeared when it was activated.
The image lasted for several seconds before going out completely. That seemed to have irrevocably broken the trinket because no matter how hard they tried after that, it remained inactive. Regardless, the box was definitely something worth looking into, so Yao Yuan happily added it to their salvage pile.
The salvage operation took 3 and a half hours to complete. Under Yao Yuan’s command, everyone returned obediently to the shuttles. It was time to move on to the next warship husk. This next husk was bigger than the one they were leaving behind and was further into the junkyard. It sat right in the middle of the course heading towards the central battleship, so either way, Yao Yuan’s team had to pass it. Yao Yuan figured he might as well make this their next destination to collect both information and resources.
Right when Yao Yuan planted himself before the control panel, Zhang Heng’s voice came through the communicator, "Yao Yuan, be careful! The omen is at its strongest, something big is going to happen!"
Yao Yuan responded instantly, "Everyone heard Zhang Heng, right? Be careful. In any case, Ying, I give you the power to decide whether to open the shuttle door to join in the fight or retreat should the situation arise."
"…Yes, Sir." Came the reply.
After that, the two shuttles returned to the null zone and all manner of electrical systems shut down again. Using the shuttles’ weak lights as guidance, they headed slowly towards their next destination.
The systems came back online 10 minutes later. Yao Yuan was dismayed when he turned to study the now online radar system.
"Something’s wrong! The location of the warship husk changed! It’s obviously different from when we scanned it this morning! We’ll reach it in 20 minutes, but it has moved away from the center of the junkyard!" Yao Yuan screamed through the communicator.
"Qi Xiao Niao! Tell me under what circumstances would the husk move out towards the junkyard’s outer perimeter, but the route it took was neither horizontal nor vertical! Answer me!" Yao Yuan questioned agitatedly.
"…Someone’s controlling the husk?" This was the first hypothesis that came into Xiao Niao’s mind when he activated his power, but he quickly vetoed it. "No, that’s unlikely because any life force would have come up on the Hope’s scanner. Plus, this husk has been confirmed to not contain a functional engine, so where would the force to move it come from… That leaves us with the logical conclusion of…"
"Something bounced it out of the junkyard from within!" Yao Yaun and Xiao Niao finished in unison.
The reality of the situation finally dawning, Xiao Niao’s face turned a sickening white and then ashy grey. The same happened to Yao Yuan several minutes later.
"That something is heading towards the Hope! We must have missed it… or it has the technology to go invisible?!"