Age of Cosmic Exploration
Translators: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lonelytree, _Dark_Angel_
Editors: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lucas
Chapter 137: A Smile
The conference regretfully didn’t reach a satisfactory conclusion. Even though many showed support for the combat jet’s capability, they had reservations because they felt the Hope still hadn’t had a full grasp over the technologies that would be involved in the jet’s creation. Granted, if forced, the jets could be made, but it would require extra resources. But in the end, the contribution-result ratio wouldn’t be worth it.
The one point everyone agreed upon though was that sooner or later this combat jet would have to be built. It was necessary to fill the high-mobility and long-ranged combat engine blind spot that was created by the creator’s particle. When both sides had access to the technology of the creator’s particle, the turn of the battle was going to be decided by skirmishes among combat jets because the main ship would be out of reach, shielded against long-ranged assault.
According to Bo Li’s data, it would take at least 1 whole year to finish building one combat jet, and this was not to mention the toll that it would take on the Hope’s resource stockpile. To take an example, if the current shuttle was akin to an early dual-vane propeller aircraft, the Space Combat Jet Prototype 003 would be a B2 bomber!
After much back and forth, the agreed upon plan was to build a prototype craft within the next year, and using it as the basic replica, adjust accordingly until the Hope could produce one of these crafts monthly. This was the fastest way to give the Hope an air force fleet.
"…Personally, I’m in favor of your proposal."
After the conference, Yao Yuan waved Bo Li over to join him for tea… He knew tea was the girl’s favorite, so he personally steeped a pot for that afternoon.
"It goes without saying that the jet pilots have to be extremely qualified. To that end, I intended to restrict the pilot seat for Homo Evolutis or Virus X survivors. To ensure their total safety, I have no reservation assigning an exorbitant amount of resources to this project."
Yao Yuan sighed. "But sadly, the Hope isn’t an isolate expeditionary troop but a home for all remaining human survivors. We not only have to take care of military but also civil affairs. There are updates, renewals, and repairs happening concurrently all over the Hope. We are incredibly understaffed, so it is simply impossible to requisition material or human resources over to build expensive combat jets at the moment. So, Bo Li, I hope you can quickly revise your blueprint to one that we can afford to mass-produce with our current resource levels."
Bo Li sipped her tea quietly, her hands spinning the cup lightly in her palm. She then asked faintly, "Okay… then what features are you willing to lose or downgrade?"
"…We probably can lose the miniature Gaussian cannons. After all, the purpose of these combat jets is to combat other jets, so we would have no need for heavy artillery. In terms of speed, 340 kilometers per second is a bit too fast. The pilot might not even be able to support such an accelerator. Furthermore, maintaining such high speeds would exhaust a great amount of energy, and that would hurt our prospects in drawn out battles, so it is my personal opinion that 100 kilometers per second is more than enough."
Yao Yuan caught himself and laughed. He moved to tousle Bo Li’s hair and reprimanded leniently, "Wait, you’re the designer, you wouldn’t need to worry about these things. Leave them to the engineers, or was that a purposeful entrapment? Either way, I want to apologize again. I’m the one who wanted a high-performance combat jet and told you to start designing one. But in the end, I’m also the one who rejected it, I’m sorry."
Bo Li slapped his hand away and finished her tea. Setting it down haughtily, she said, "That’s all, right? I have to return to the lab. You can reach me there if you need anything." Then she stood up to leave.
Suddenly remembering, Yao Yuan added, "Wait, how goes the project to arm the Black Star Troopers?"
After the battle in the junkyard and entering the 4th revolution, Yao Yuan had been meaning to upgrade the troopers’ arms. They needed better combat suits, better Gaussian weapons, and more weapon variety that could be used in close-quarters combat or for special purposes, like taking down electromagnetic shields.
Turning around, Bo Li replied, "The combat spacesuit you’ve asked for proved to be a challenging project. After all, the main purpose of a spacesuit was to survive in space, and it has nothing to do with combat. So I need more time to come up with a design that could fulfill both purposes. I’m hoping for an exoskeleton-esque body armor technology within the alien books, but we’ve not come across such technology so far. What we have is technology for electromagnetically welded metal plating, but even with those, we need more time for analysis and experiments.
"In terms of weaponry, testing on long-ranged weapons has been completed. I’ll send the reports alongside those on the Gaussian rifles. For close-ranged weapons, we have produced a magnetized saw-blade with 34,000 nanosheet gouging per second. It could easily slice through all currently known materials, including diamond. It also comes with an anti-magnetism structure, so it can theoretically slice through electromagnetic shield. The details will be in the reports I’ll send you. Is that all? I have no time for this verbal game."
Impatience was clearly written on Bo Li’s face.
Yao Yuan smiled awkwardly as he asked, "Are you free during New Years? I would like to invite you to a ball…"
Bo Li stared at him. "Do you think I’m as free as you?" With that, she sauntered out of the captain’s room.
Yao Yuan smiled in spite of himself as he watched Bo Li walk away… Time fast-forwarded to the third day of the New Year holiday and Yao Yuan found himself at the ball. As mentioned by Barbie, the function hosted at a fifth floor open field was well-attended. The food was done buffet-style and plates of meat, cakes, and fruits were served.
Most of the attendees were westerners. Notable ones included committee leaders like Alan and Silewei, who were accompanied by their wives. There were also members from the House of Representatives, the heads of the Hope’s many departments, and the head editors from Hope Weekly. Basically every westerner of a certain stature on the Hope was there.
Initially, many weren’t slated to be present, but after Barbie purposely dropped hints that Yao Yuan would be there, many changed their RSVP. Some who weren’t invited but felt they should have been even came to Barbie asking for an invitation. Unable to reject them, Barbie had no choice but to increase the maximum occupancy. Therefore, when Yao Yuan arrived and saw several hundred people already crowding the field and most of them being influential figures, he was appropriately shocked.
Just as Yao Yuan stepped into the field and accepted a glass of red wine from a waiter, a middle-aged man sauntered over with his wife in tow, asking, "Captain, where’s your date?"
As previously mentioned, Yao Yuan had been involved with an international company doing head-hunting work for several years, so he knew the decorum for attending such an event dictated a date. That was why he had invited Bo Li, but now he could only laugh awkwardly in reply. "Representative Anfier, I’m sorry to say, but my date has rejected my invitation."
Stunned by the reply, Anfier chuckled lightly. "Surely you’re kidding, Major. If you don’t mind me being forward, with a man as responsible and competent as you, if I had a daughter, I would be asking for a betrothal right about now. I find it hard to believe that a woman would reject your companionship."
"You flatter me, representative." The fact that I would even invite her in the first place I find hard to believe myself, Yao Yuan thought but did not say.
Then he excused himself from the middle-aged representative, attempting to find a quiet spot by the fringe of the ball.
What Yao Yuan failed to understand was that he was the focus of the ball. The crowd followed everywhere he went. His wine glass clinked with the glass of one authority figure after another until the sentence, "Major, I hate to bring this up now, but I feel the next budget for the Department of Industry might be too small. You see…" uttered by the many interchangeable faces brought him back to his life on Earth where traps, lures, and false promises were laid in between verbal exchanges and where everyone wore a perfunctory smile like a mask… To be frank, Yao Yuan felt that maneuvering social gatherings was more tiring than being in actual combat.
After the ball was over, Yao Yuan didn’t even have the energy left to complain. On the way out, he crossed path with a half-drunk Barbie. She pulled him in for a hug and slid a solid object into his hand. Then she extricated herself and left. Yao Yuan opened his palm to find a room key… the meaning of the gesture was not lost on Yao Yuan.
Yao Yuan smiled in disbelief before pocketing the key and walking back to his own residential area.
On his way back, a feeling entered his mind, and he changed his direction going towards the fourth floor instead. He saw no one but patrols on this quiet holiday night, so he was curious about who this lonely soul loitering around the Hope instead of celebrating the New Year with family and friends back in the comfort of their own home was.
Yao Yuan’s feeling led him to the door of a familiar lab. He saw lights coming out from underneath the closed door. He walked in and sighed. Bo Li was asleep leaning against her table, where a multitude of reports were piling and some spilling down to the floor. Yao Yuan could spot the weapon reports Bo Li mentioned earlier among them.
Yao Yuan stretched his hand out, wanting to stroke her hair, but he caught himself. Sighing, he stripped off his coat and draped it over Bo Li, whispering, "I’m sorry to have killed him… I had no choice; the life of my teammate stood on the line. And before that, on the space station, if I hadn’t dispose of him, it would be his family that would have to suffer being used as bargaining chips. Your family could only be saved with him dead…
"Bo Li, I’m so sorry…"
After Yao Yuan left the lab, Bo Li opened her eyes slowly and caressed the coat on her back and mumbled to no one in particular, "…He had been waiting for death for a long time. Even though he survived the space station, the radiation brought him immense pain day after day. It was a fate worse than death…
"So… I don’t blame you or even hate you."
Tears fell from her eyes. They were caught by the curve of her smile, a warm and gentle smile that she guarded heavily from the public and perhaps even herself…