Age of Cosmic Exploration

Author: Zhttty

Translators: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lonelytree, _Dark_Angel_

Editors: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lucas


Chapter 126: Looking for a Way in!

"…How can we find it? Xiao Niao!"
Both shuttles had reached the center of the junkyard. Floating before them were about 10 gigantic battleship fragments, some of them even bigger than the Hope itself!
Some of them were more than 10 kilometers long, and the biggest among them was more than 100 kilometers long, its size at least 10 times that of the Hope!
The fact that they were once a functioning battleship created by an AI was beyond Yao Yuan’s comprehension. Lumping together a galaxy-sized battleship willy-nilly was already in itself a mountainous task, much less one that was carefully designed and executed.
Its extraordinariness aside, its enormity was a troublesome hindrance to a search and locate mission!
It would be days before all 300 of them could complete searching the fragments. If done that way, the Hope would perish before they could even locate the AI.
Xiao Niao laughed awkwardly as he shook his head. "I have no clue… It’s not that I’m not trying, but this is simply impossible. Upwards of 10 battleship fragments is too big of a range to cover…"
Yao Yuan’s expression dimmed because he too knew the mission bordered on impossibility. However, they had to locate the AI with much expedience!
"This AI is too sneaky. It refuses to send out any robots to attack us or defend itself because it knows that’ll expose its location…" Xiao Niao said placatingly.
Yao Yuan uttered angrily, "Its elusiveness is indeed our greatest problem. Sadly, our shuttles don’t carry any long-ranged weapons like long-distance missiles or high-powered laser beams. We could have blown these fragments into smithereens instead of having to locate that damn AI manually!"
Xiao Niao nodded. "That’s true. I’m afraid the AI has already figured out our technological level, and that’s why it has such a cavalier attitude to our presence. It’s a shame we only have 1 H-bomb… No, wait a sec, we still have 1 H-bomb!"
Yao Yuan looked at Xiao Niao curiously. "Yes, we do have 1 H-bomb, but do you really think 1 H-bomb could level this area? Do you know how big this place is? Wait, unless you mean…"
"Yes, a warning shot!"
Xiao Niao continued sincerely, "If we go back to our inferences, the mastermind behind the attack on the Hope is the AI hiding within these fragments. In other words, this AI is the brain for the body that consists of all the robots… Due to its fear of the Hope's greatly differing technology level, it sent out the robot fleet to assault the Hope while it stays behind. In this case, no matter whether the Hope ends up captured or the robot fleet gets destroyed, it’ll be safely out of harm’s way.
"From that we can conclude that the AI is written with some sort of self-preserving algorithm. From a human perspective, we can say it fears death. Of course, the algorithm was probably written with its creator in mind, but since the alien civilization has already been wiped out, the subject of the algorithm most likely got rewritten to refer to itself.
"If that’s the case, after we launch the H-bomb at one of the fragments…"
Yao Yuan considered for about 10 seconds after hearing the whole of Xiao Niao’s plan and added, "That’s probably that best chance we have at finding this AI… Alright, let’s do it."
The plan was actually deceptively simple, which was to launch the H-bomb at a random battleship fragment. Since the AI wouldn’t know how many H-bombs in total the 2 shuttles were carrying, it would have to prevent them from firing off more H-bombs lest one of them would hit where it was hiding. And when it made a move, its location would be revealed!
"That’s the entirety of plan. After I launch the H-bomb from the shuttle, Ying, you’ll need to activate your Seeker power to observe any and all changes in our surroundings. Be it a flickering light or the appearance of a robot fleet, the location of any immediate response will probably point us towards the AI!" Yao Yuan explained.
He then turned to Zhang Heng. "Zhang Heng, your mission is no less important. In case Ying’s power can’t pick up on any changes, we’ll be relying on your Diviner power. It is only logical that the place that houses the AI is the spot that’s the most heavily guarded. After the explosion, even if there are no outwards changes, there has to be systemic changes within that room, so use your power to locate it!"
"Alright, everyone, that’s the game plan. After the AI responds, we can’t possibly afford to still float leisurely towards it, their Gaussian weaponry isn’t something we could trifle with. That’s why after the AI’s location is known, these 2 shuttles will fly towards it at full speed and invade the fragment by crashing through the biggest opening available. So stand ready!"
After delivering his orders, Yao Yuan retreated to his shuttle. He entered the password and pulled a small key from a string that hung around his neck. After inserting the key into the keyhole that appeared on the control panel, he turned it, and then a 10 second countdown appeared.
"A nuclear explosion in space… Not my first time witnessing it…" Yao Yuan mumbled as he moved to close the shuttle’s windows. With that, Yao Yuan became isolated from the world outside other than scans of the shuttle’s radar.
10 seconds later, a large missile was launched from the shuttle. Propelled by rocket fuel, it flew right into a large battleship husk. As it made contact, a ball of light started radiating from within the husk. It glowed like a miniature sun before the vacuum weight of the cosmos eclipsed it. In that small period of time, almost 1/3 of the husk disappeared… There was not much of a fanfare like it would have if it had exploded within an atmosphere. There was no mushroom cloud or radiating airwaves, but that only made to highlight the H-bomb’s great power of devastation… Within the shuttle, Ying stared directly at the floating fragments around them behind the protection of a pair of space-grade tinted binoculars. Blinded by the flash from the bomb, his tears kept falling. Nevertheless, he resisted the urge to blink, afraid of missing any important details. He would not fail the Hope… About 5 seconds after the explosion, the shuttle trained its missile launcher at another husk… Of course, it was all for show, but at that moment, Ying saw a few lights go off and sparks flying in one of the husks. It lasted for barely a second, but it was all captured by the Seeker’s power!
"Got it! Coordinates 67, 126, 71!" Ying screamed through the communication while guiding the transport shuttle towards it.
The moment Yao Yuan received Ying’s coordinates, he had triangulated them in his mind. The first coordinate referred to the front-back vertical distance of the target from Ying, positive number as forward, negative as back; the second coordinate referred to the horizontal distance, positive as top, negative as bottom; the last coordinate referred to the left-right vertical distance, positive as left, negative as right. Within seconds, the set of coordinates helped Yao Yuan ascertain that the target location was within their viewing range!
"Charge!"
Yao Yuan roared as he pushed his shuttle into full speed. Flames burst from behind the shuttle, and because his shuttle was a more advanced model than the transport shuttle, Yao Yuan reached the designated fragment in mere minutes. Unable to decelerate, Yao Yuan braced for impact as his shuttle slammed into the battleship through a tear on its wall. His shuttle turned into compressed metal and broken parts upon landing, and Yao Yuan should consider himself lucky that it didn’t blow up in the process.
The impact from the crash and whiplash from the seat belt made Yao Yuan feel like his bones were shattering. Ultimately, thanks to the protection of his spacesuit, the pain passed and he came off with a slight daze.
Comparatively speaking, the transport shuttle was luckier. It was fitted with the latest particle flux jet apparatus. Its power at deceleration and acceleration was more powerful than Yao Yuan’s shuttle even though it lacked consistency and stability. Regardless, because of this device, the transport shuttle remained in a comparatively acceptable state even after the crash landing. Other than some dents, it got off quite easily.
Suddenly, Zhang Heng’s voice came through the troop’s communicator.
"Be careful! A lot of danger sources… the robots are coming for us!"