Age of Cosmic Exploration
Translators: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lonelytree, _Dark_Angel_
Editors: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lucas
Chapter 77: 24 Hours (2)
When Yao Yuan arrived at first floor, most of the 120,000 people had already been gathered there. It was incredibly crowded. Guang Zhen’s team was busy patrolling, handing out bandages. The fallen debris coupled with the trampled tents and broken appliances lent the place the look of a refugee camp.
The faces of the many soldiers and citizens lit up with hope when they saw Yao Yuan. Many who had been sitting languidly on the floor stood up involuntarily as they parted the way for Yao Yuan to pass through. The black-star close guards moved to huddle behind Yao Yuan.
Yao Yuan was suffused with an inexplicable feeling as he moved through the expectant crowd.
(Is this what you meant by responsibility? Just like how I’ve been leading the Black Stars, now I have to lead the last remnants of humanity as we struggle through space in search of a new home? This is one hell of responsibility… One that I’m not sure I could keep on bearing…)
Yao Yuan had remained exceptionally quiet since he arrived, and before long, his vow of silence slowly infected the people present, until finally, with the exception of the sounds of breathing and children crying, not a single word could be heard.
Ying sidled up to his side to whisper in his ear when Yao Yuan reached the middle of the crowd. Yao Yuan’s expression shifted temporarily before returning to normal. Next, he ordered a few soldiers to construct a temporary stage.
While construction was going on, Guang Zhen led his team to report back to Yao Yuan. No words were exchanged, but a lot had been said between the two men’s silent salute.
Yao Yuan took the stage and scanned the ample-sized crowd. The sea of people stretched beyond horizon. Just for comparison, during the Chinese Olympics, the televised event featured a 90,000 sized crowd. A crowd that size could barely fit in the TV screen, so you can imagine how big the crowd on the first floor was!
It was a sight to behold.
Ebon came up the stage to hand Yao Yuan a microphone. Yao Yuan inwardly sighed when he saw Ebon struggling up the stairs with his prosthetic mechanical limbs. "Ladies and gentlemen, no, my fellow survivors, you may or may not have seen me around the Hope, but I’m your captain, Yao Yuan.
"In the year 2029, Earth met its biggest catastrophe, wiping out all that it has nurtured. Our friends, families, and civilization, alongside Mother Earth, perished in that tragedy…
"But we’re still alive! We who are no longer separated by countries, race, or skin color ever since we stepped onto the Hope, because underneath it all, we are only human, fellow humans of Earth!
"Today, we come into yet another space tragedy not unlike the one we have faced on planet Sahara. Without the protection of Mother Earth, we’re as fragile as hapless babies. We’re unable to survive in space, much less conquer it…
"And yet, surviving we have been! With hope, with dreams of a new home, a better future, and survive we shall!"
Yao Yuan took a deep breath and yelled into the microphone, "I’m very glad that the deputy captain told me that there was no record of misconduct when he escorted everyone up here. In fact, there was barely any harsh jostling, so I’m very impressed! Even rocked by a sudden earthquake, everyone has managed to keep calm. Not only that, but you even helped and supported each other, so good on you!
"On that note, please remember today, and remember this spirit of charity during tragedy. Remember our hopes and dreams, to one day feel the earth beneath our feet again, to feel the wind touch our skin…. Remember our children and our future generation, because we do it all for them so that they can wake up one day and take in not the cold, steel walls and empty space, but the sound of the sea and the warmth of the sun!
"And for that, I am willing to sacrifice everything, even my life! I hope you would too!"
The crowd’s morale soared after Yao Yuan’s speech. By the end, people were chanting Yao Yuan’s name in frenzied waves! Some butchered the unfamiliar Chinese pronunciation, but that only made it that much more inspiring.
"Alright, people, please calm down." Yao Yuan waved for the crowd to quiet down.
"Now, I need the men to step forth and follow your deputy captain to the second floor to retrieve the space-gear from the storeroom. Remember to account for your families and take care of those who are unable to fend for themselves. Bring an extra spacesuit even if you’re single; you might run into someone that will need it. Remember, we’re all in this together!
"All the womenfolk please do look after your children. Those that can afford to lend a hand, search and rescue the wounded. Mend light wounds, but yell for military assistance if the injury is too serious.
"Let’s move out and prepare to get back to the Hope!"
Sustained chaos erupted after Yao Yuan finished speaking; however, that quickly siphoned into a disciplined fervor. Instead of idling blankly around the field, the men marched towards the storeroom and the women spread out to offer help.
Without wasting another breath, Yao Yuan turned to Guang Zhen. "How it’s going, Ol’ Wong? Have we established contact with the Hope?"
To which Guang Zhen replied with a shake of his head. "Unfortunately, no. The Academy suspects they will need 30 to 40 minutes to restart the Hope’s energy system after an earthquake this size…. Then again, depending on the stage of the circuit upgrade, the downtime might increase to an hour. In any case, we have no idea what is happening on the Hope currently."
"Regardless, if there’s another quake or something is indeed wrong with the star, I don’t think this asteroid, or even the Hope, could survive that…" said Yao Yuan tiredly.
The pair descended into a gloom of silence. They were briefed on the situation with the entrance by Ying. Although Zhang Heng’s prediction had dropped from 70 to 60, the door would collapse in hours.
Ten seconds later, Yao Yuan picked up from where he left off. "Ol’ Wong, I want you to continue maintaining order. Ying, form another team of ten to transport the wounded and the rest of the medical workers to Liu Bai. Also, bring along some spacesuits for those that have recovered enough to move."
Addressing Lee and Ebon, Yao Yuan continued, "The pair of you, take the rest of the Black Star Unit to go and locate some technicians. I need them to drive the short-distance preservation buses up from the second floor to this floor. They might need to do several trips to transport all the kids, but we should have enough time. After that, make sure they go back to fetch Liu Bai, the medical crew, and the wounded."
"Major, what about me? Should I stay near the entrance?" asked Zhang Heng.
Yao Yuan paused before resuming. "No, Zhang Heng, I have another mission for you. Put on a spacesuit and take another one for Jay. I want you to go down to the pathway leading to the third floor, he’s waiting there. Both of you need to put on a spacesuit, but keep the helmet open and don’t use the life support system for now. You use it only after you hear big changes coming from above. The oxygen supply in the spacesuits is limited and we need as many seconds as we can get out of it."
Zhang Heng nodded, but then he cautiously asked, "But if I’m gone, who will tell the danger level?"
Yao Yuan replied firmly, "Other Homo Evolutis… They’ll need the field experience to grow, right? Didn’t you go through the same thing on planet Sahara? Your skill got enhanced because of that experience, so this will be good training for the rest of them. Don’t worry, I have it covered."
Hesitation disappeared from Zhang Heng’s eyes. He saluted before moving to join Ebon and the rest.
After Zhang Heng disappeared round the corner, Yao Yuan called for one of the close guards. "I want you to find me Ren Chou Yue. You should be able to tell her apart based on her ID. She’s the Diviner, Ren Chou Yue!"
At that moment, Chou Yue was mumbling under her breath about the mistreatment against Ren Tao. She should’ve been the one sent to get the spacesuits. Her skinny brother could barely support one spacesuit, much less two. But since it was the captain’s order, she had to stay behind helplessly and watch Ren Tao leave. She was fuming silently, replaying the words they had exchanged before they parted.
"Sis, I need you to squeeze to the front of the group to make sure you are one of the first to leave this base. I saw that Zhang Heng guy wandering around the entrance for a long time; he’s a diviner like you, right? I suspect…
"That the entrance might fall soon!"
It had been 50 minutes since the earthquake…