Age of Cosmic Exploration

Author: Zhttty

Translators: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lonelytree, _Dark_Angel_

Editors: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lucas


Chapter 92: An Intergalactic Spaceship Junkyard!

The Hope had made 11 warps since it left the meteorite base.
They stayed for three days each time for the purposes of cartography and observation.
However, they were quick to realize that it was an exercise in futility… because the cosmos was simply too vast!
Furthermore, it was always undulating. It was a map that would never be fully drawn.
There were too many planets, galaxies, nebulas…
The cosmos was indescribably humongous! The common analogy of it being the great River Nile failed to capture the scope of its actual size.
The gravity of the situation slowly descended on the citizens of the Hope following each warp. It made them feel… increasingly and devastatingly dwarfed.
On the third day of the eleventh warp…
"…Negative, negative, negative!"
A small group of scientists was going over the latest satellite surveillance pictures. One of them angrily repeated as he slammed his hand on the table, "Still negative! There is no familiar intergalactic landmark around us. In what fresh hell have we landed in this time? Are we still in the Milky Way? Who can really tell?"
A senior scientist in the group wanted to ignore his junior’s outburst but still said consolingly, "Let’s not jump into conclusions. First, we are still too unfamiliar with how the space-warping technology operates. Refuting our previous theory of it being a wormhole, the Hope doesn’t travel the way light does during warp. The fact that it can transpose such a large quantity of mass with such a low energy cost is in itself a scientific miracle."
Here, the senior scientist lifted his eye to look directly at his pugnacious junior. "That is the reason why we are doing this. It might seem inconsequential now, but our current effort is building a foundation that will ultimately help to uncover the mystery of the cosmos. Two years ago, space traveling for us human was a dream. Do you really expect us to know everything there is to know about space in such a short time?
"It would behoove you to learn a little patience, young lad. Practicing science is not a short sprint, it’s a marathon. Yes, talent is important, but patience is the key that makes or breaks a discovery. There might be several missteps along the way, but remember that the spirit of science lies in trial-and-error… Without error, the institution of science would truly be dead. Learn to appreciate the opportunity around us. There are many things that elude our understanding, but isn’t that the perfect chance for us to learn? What is the theory behind space-warping? Is it completely random, could its destination ever be manipulated? Questions surrounding the very existence of the alien plant and the atomic level reactions it has to create energy crystals. These are questions that await answers.
"So don’t fret, young lad. We’ve gained far more compared to what we’ve lost. If we can’t achieve the necessary breakthroughs in this lifetime, there are always the generations after that. We are not inherently weaker than other alien civilizations, what we’re missing is… experience."
The senior scientist smiled. "And aren’t we working to mend exactly that?"
At the same time, Yao Yuan was rehabilitating to life back on the Hope.
It has been 32 days since their warp away from the meteorite base and he had spent every single one of them handling the remedial issues from that excursion.
First was the issue with death…
According to the logistics, there were 623 deaths in total, most of them lost during the blast that cleared the third level. Others died during the initial earthquake, while the rest died in surgery… The number 623 was not counting Jay.
It was a loss that was comparable to the one on Planet Sahara. After the necessary funeral arrangements were made, the Hope came across an associated problem. Many families had lost their sole breadwinners because the men, those that died in the base’s industrial level, were also the ones keeping their families financially afloat.
In other words, the problem was much more complicated than expected. The issue of familial compensation alone could tear his mind apart.
Yao Yuan stood up from his chair and stretched his tired body after a long meeting with another grieving family. After cracking his joints, he turned to his secretary, Barbie, and asked,
"Have the latest post-warp surveillance reports arrived? The next warp is scheduled at 12 AM tomorrow, so do send me the reports if you have them… Also, help me brew a pot of tea, and make it thick; I suspect this is going to be a long night."
Fiddling with her pair of glasses, Barbie replied, "The report is not here yet. According to the usual protocol, it will arrive right before dawn, which will be 24 hours before the next scheduled warp. Should I go rush them? About the tea… we’ve run out of the tea leaves that I normally use. Do you want me to go get some more from the quartermaster?"
After giving it some thought, Yao Yuan smiled lightly. "Never mind, there’s no need to rush. It’s only three or four hours till dawn… Also, our stock of luxury items will be running low until the next month when the external cabin’s ready, so it’s not wise to mess with the inventory until then. Could you help me fix a cup of coffee instead? We still have a few packs left, right?"
Barbie smiled in reply as she stood. "Okay, a cup of strong coffee coming up… But Captain, I’d rather you take this rare lull in your schedule to take some rest. Issues like death gratuity payments need time and careful planning. Be too lenient and people will take advantage of it, but if you're too strict the government will come across as heartless. This will be a drawn-out battle."
"Yes, you’re right."
Yao Yuan sighed as he watched Barbie leave the room. He sat back down and resumed perusing the rest of the document. Time unceremoniously passed until he noticed the smell of roasted coffee beans enveloping the room. He lifted his eyes to see Barbie smiling in return as she handed him the cup of coffee…
As dawn broke, the warp report came as expected. It was, for the most part, similar to the ones that preceded it, a summary on the various intergalactic entities around them. It was one of the better ones that heralded much good news, or rather, not as much bad news.
Speaking of which, the report on the seventh warp had everyone breaking out in cold sweat…
That warp brought the Hope to a location where there was no star within several hundred light years of distance, the closest one being tens of thousands of light years away. The Academy suspected that they were in between galaxies, like the space between the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy. It was a whole empty stretch of nothing!
Thankfully, future warps after that had been much more fruitful. Even though the Hope did not land exactly in a stellar system, they were not that far away.
After these 11 warps, the Academy had come up with an observation. The Hope’s space warping system followed its own set of rules and it had plenty to do with gravity.
In other words, the destination of the warp would be a spot where gravitational force was present.
They based that on math. If the warp was completely random, the Hope would end up in the empty space between galaxies about 99 percent of the time, following the space distribution ratio. However, reality had proven otherwise.
Therefore, it was highly likely that the warp system followed a rule that decided that the warping destination would be close to a gravity source. Of course, for human standards, hundreds of light years could not be considered close, but for the alien civilization that created the technology, it might be akin to a short drive.
All in all, it was an impressive find. At least they now knew something of the mysterious space-tech that governed their lives.
A statement provided by the Academy when they learned how to manipulate the alien plant was forever emblazoned in Yao Yuan’s heart. Compared to other alien race, humans were not lacking in intelligence but in experience. In the grand scheme of things, the ragtag bunch of human survivors was similar to babies.
But who could say these babies would not grow up to become geniuses?
Therefore, even though faced with the unnerving unknown of space, Yao Yuan was not worried. His main focus was to collect supplies in between warps and to improve their technology so that one day they would have a crystal reactor big enough to allow for an infinite numbers of warps.
As long as man still has a breath left in him, there remains hope for mankind. The future will always be an unknown, so no one could firmly say that there is no hope awaiting man in the future.
With that forward vision in mind, the Hope initiated its twelfth warp…
At 3 am the next morning, with Yao Yuan having just lain down to sleep an hour ago, a series of knocks fell on his door. It was immediately followed by the beeping from the communicator he left on his bedside table. He sprung up from bed ready for battle, assuming wrongly that an uprising had happened…
The few soldiers that gathered outside his door relayed this information…
The Hope’s surveillance room, after multiple probes using a super-grade space telescope and military grade photography equipment, had confirmed…
That two months' journey away from the Hope was a large area about tens of thousands meters in size. It was a junkyard filled with spaceship carcasses!