Age of Cosmic Exploration
Translators: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lonelytree, _Dark_Angel_
Editors: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lucas
Chapter 125: The Cosmos-crossing Voice!
Before Yao Yuan became the leader of the Black Star Unit, he came from a long line of influential government servants. He was the eldest son of his family and technically had a life of ease and luxury laid out for him since his birth. However, his family made the mistake of picking the wrong side during a period of political uncertainty and was snubbed by the eventual new government. Regardless, the sometimes abrasive and definitely condescending leadership style that had been imprinted by his family since he was child had stuck with Yao Yuan.
Yao Yuan didn’t like the idea of lording over others, but he had to admit there were occasional uses for it.
An example was now. A few minutes after both shuttles had decided to speed down the opened track, the Hope’s lights disappeared. It could have warped, or worse… Worry for the Hope weighed heavily on the troop’s mind. The fact that they couldn’t contact the Hope to be sure only added to the overall sense of anxiety.
Reading the room, Yao Yuan knew his team was at the cusp of a mental breakdown. History had shown soldiers turning on each other or themselves in cases of extreme stress… Identifying the issue and fixing it though were two distinct problems. Yao Yuan was at a loss on how to raise his troop’s morale, because the loss of a home was not an easy void to climb out of.
(Ol’ Wong and everyone, I beg of you to please hold on. Thankfully, there were no signs of explosions or combat, but no matter what, please hold on until we can come back to save you!) Back on the Hope, Ren Tao and Chou Yue finally struggled out of their room. Generally speaking, the Hope’s room doors normally opened and closed using electromagnetic power, but during a power outage, they reverted back to normal metallic doors. The exceptions were the doors for high security locales, like the room for the central mainframe and the H-bombs warehouse. These places would be on complete lockdown during blackouts.
Darkness greeted the pair of adopted siblings after they stepped out of their room. They couldn’t even see one step ahead of themselves!
"Ren Tao, what are we to do now? We can’t possibly find our way to the military warehouse in this darkness!" Chou Yue’s voice was breaking and her grip on Ren Tao’s hand tightened.
Ren Tao replied consolingly, "Hold on to my hand and don’t let go. Don’t worry, I have a way!" After that, he took his first step into the darkness.
Chou Yue slowly nudged her feet forward. The total darkness had eclipsed all of her senses other than that of her hearing. Clumsy like a person who had suddenly gone blind, she almost tripped, but that wouldn’t have caused her any harm because they were in space.
Ren Tao frowned at Chou Yue’s ungainliness. Instead of wasting his time looking futilely around like Chou Yue, he had closed his eyes to feel his way forward. Certain that Chou Yue’s clumsiness wouldn’t be a one-time affair, he swept her into his arms and wrapped her elbow over his neck.
"Wh… what are you doing!?" Shocked by the sudden lift, Chou Yue started blushing.
"Hush and stay still. Keep your power activated while we continue on to the warehouse…" Ren Tao replied as both of them floated ahead. Due to the zero-gravity environment, Ren Tao was more like guiding Chou Yue along in his arms instead of full-on carrying her. Using the wall as support, he glided them forward.
After Chou Yue finally got used to the darkness, she noticed the current flowing through her hair. They were moving at an incredible speed. Curious, she asked, "Ren Tao, can you see in the dark? Is it some newfangled way of using your power?"
"Nope, blind as a mouse. What, you think I was born with night vision?" Ren Tao replied sourly.
"If that’s the case, why are we moving so fast? Aren’t you afraid of running into walls?" Chou Yue’s interest piqued.
"…Don’t worry. I have the map of this ship memorized."
At this moment, Ren Tao was no longer his usual oblivious self. Earnestness permeated his body as he guided Chou Yue to their destination. Their lodging was near the Barracks, so he knew they had the best chance of getting there before things took a turn for the worse. The lives of 120,000 people were on the line. He might not save them all, but… at least Chou Yue will be safe!
That was his most desperate wish.
On the other end of the Hope, the blackout came when Bo Li and her team were busy analyzing the alien robot’s tentacle arm. After a few seconds of expected silence, her lab exploded in chaos.
"Keep calm," a frowning Bo Li ordered.
Her order was immediately swamped by the pandemonium. Her team could barely hear her soft voice under normal circumstances, much less in such commotion.
Frustrated, Bo Li lifted a metal rod and slammed it heavily on the metal desk. That silenced the room and everyone turned their heads towards Bo Li.
"…It’s obvious that the Hope’s power supply ran into some problems. We’ve lost the lighting, anti-gravitational system, and possibly the life support system. Therefore, experiment group 2, please activate the PM experimental prototype 1 next to you," Bo Li ordered, in a collected voice as if it was another day in the lab.
The members from experiment group 2 were stunned by the sudden order and one of them said, "But Prof, the prototype hasn’t been field tested before… What if it fails?"
"…It has been tested in many computer generated simulations, that’s good enough. There’s no other way; desperate times call for desperate measures. Activate it!" Bo Li replied sternly.
"Yes, Prof. Activating PM experimental prototype 1!"
Several seconds later, a globe of light appeared in the room. In the middle of the lab, a 2-meter-tall alien robot started to float off the ground, the light that came off of it illuminating the whole lab.
(It’s only logical that the alien robot will be immune to the interference of the null zone. A little tweaking to its algorithm and it could be used to our advantage… Wait… this means that we are in a null zone, so an alien warship is close to us?!) Bo Li went silent for a moment before telling her team, "We’ll use PM prototype 1 as torchlight to move to the fifth floor. We’ll bring along everyone that we see along the way. The fifth floor houses the Barracks, so it should be safer there."
Bo Li’s lab was in the fourth floor Academy… A level that was loosely populated when compared to the levels below it. The Hope’s lower 3 floors were the civilian levels, so the majority of the Hope’s population was situated here.
These three levels were the most affected when the power got cut off. The civilians got thrown into chaos the moment the lights went off. The panic only grew to greater heights when the electricity didn’t come back after several minutes.
The next part of the story happened in a school on the third level. The school had 3 grades: freshman, sophomore, and senior. In the sophomore grade, hundreds of people were in a panicked fit. Trapped in complete darkness and off solid ground, even the calmest of individuals started flailing about in dismay.
Instead of acting out in panic, some shut down in fear and despair. One of them was Xi Kong… The darkness, the helplessness, the panic… they reminded her so much of her comatose days.
"Please… everyone stop… fighting," Xi Kong said, in between sobs with her hands clamped over her ears.
The people around her either didn’t hear her or chose to ignore her, lost in the heat of the moment as they were.
"Yes, I shall sing. My song will take my fear of darkness away like it always has. That’ll definitely make things better…"
Xi Kong started humming. Even though her voice was quickly swallowed by the din around her, she kept on singing as if pulled by a mysterious force. Slowly but surely, she submerged into a world of silence. The noisy crowd that suffocated her melted away, leaving an empty abyss behind. After that, orbs of light materialized around her. She searched but failed to spot the biggest of the lights that usually brought her warmth.
She later found the warm light orb quite a distance away from where she was. However, even at such a distance, she could still feel the light’s comforting caress.
"I shall sing for you, the source that bring me solace in a world of darkness…"
As Xi Kong got more immersed in her singing, more radiating orbs of light floated into her periphery and the chaos around her calmed. Lulled by the melody of her song, not only her class, but the entirety of the Hope relaxed, comforted by one another’s supportive presence. Even though they couldn’t physically see one another, a type of spiritual bond connecting every soul was threading through the Hope.
At the same time, in the transport shuttle, a new Homo Evolutis slowly lifted his space rifle to his heart while drops of tears fell heavily on a locket around his neck. Within the locket was a picture of his son taken on his first birthday. The soldiers around him noticed his actions, but none of them moved to stop him. Even though none of the soldiers were openly weeping, when they looked at the distraught father, they found their inner despair reflected clearly in his eyes.
The shuttles were inches away from the center of the junkyard, but it had been 10 minutes since the Hope had blinked out of existence… It was a torturous 10 minutes that only culminated in despair.
Right before the father pulled the trigger, a song drifted into his ear. In that instance, brilliance returned to his eyes. He shot up, "This is Nian Xi Kong’s voice, the girl that got first place during the New Year party! I’m sure because my wife is in love with her voice! It’s true! I can hear her singing!"
The buzz of excitement quickly caught up with the rest. They too started hearing the song and instinctively went searching for the source. Some ran to the window to check on the Hope while others ransacked the shuttle. Even after they closed their communicators, the song kept going, like a sweet, balmy, evening wind comforting their wary and anxious hearts.
"This is amazing. They’re still alive, the Hope is still there. Yes, my family is still alive!" The father jumped up in joy, swapping his tears of sorrow for those of joy.
Even Yao Yuan’s serious expression relaxed after hearing the song. He could pick out the message of calm that ran in the undercurrent of the song… "The Anima… Her song could traverse such a distance and even across the null zone… this is beyond any scientific explanation… But thanks to her, at least we know the Hope is still alive!"
Yao Yuan picked up the communicator and yelled, "Be at the ready! We’re moving into the center… We’re going to let that AI taste the despair that it has sent us into!"
"Good! Let’s make this a good one!"
"For the Hope!"
The troop’s morale returned with Xi Kong’s song. It proved to be more effective than any inspirational speech that Yao Yuan could ever manage. Of course, the girl didn’t know that her plea for comfort had incidentally solved Yao Yuan’s biggest problem… At the same time, in a room at the heart of the broken battleship was a creepy conglomerate of random electronic appliances. One would easily mistake it for a heap of trash if not for the active screen situated at the belly of the electronic beast. At this moment, a wall of text in an alien language was shown on it.
The translated meaning was: Discovery of Soul-Web iseijin , Cosmic Adaptation Index (CAI) 840, identity analysis… A caliber, grade S rarity, top priority. Destruction of spaceship cancelled. Assigning new mission: Capture Soul-Web iseijin, increase the creator’s particle to its maximum coverage. Prioritize the capture of 4 other grade S cosmic adapters and 2 other super grade S cosmic adapters. Targets must be captured alive… Simultaneously, outside of the Hope, on an almost invisible battleship fragment, almost 10,000 robots were aiming their arms at the Hope. At the end of their arms were the powerful Gaussian rifles. Just as they were going to annihilate the Hope, the light around their bodies shimmered. After that, they put down their weapons and rode the particle flux that came out their bottom spinning plates towards the Hope…