Age of Cosmic Exploration

Author: Zhttty

Translators: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lonelytree, _Dark_Angel_

Editors: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lucas


Chapter 94: Advance and Trial

"…After several days of careful observations and detailed discussions, we came to the conclusion that there is no intact spaceship in the junkyard. Carriers in need of support are prone to releasing electromagnetic signals at regular intervals, and thankfully, we have not intercepted such a signal from the junkyard."
Yao Yuan elaborated as he pushed Zhang Heng forward, "That is why after multiple debates, it has been decided that the Hope should head towards the junkyard. And so far, we’re 15 days into the journey. On a related note, the junkyard’s existence has been discovered by the public about 10 days ago. Many were already suspicious when the Hope hadn’t space-warped after the usual three days. The fact that the junkyard keeps giving out shards of light doesn’t really help the situation either. Previously, you would need a telescope to notice it, but now it’s viewable with the naked eye alone. Needless to say, the confidential clause has been resolved since almost everyone on the Hope is currently busy discussing the junkyard."
Zhang Heng wasn’t mentally there as evidenced by the fact that he kept turning back to stare out the window with a blank look in his eyes. It wasn't until Yao Yuan smacked him heavily on his shoulders that he woke with a jolt and announced excitedly, "Wow! Alien civilization and alien spaceships! Is this real? Are we sure it’s not some kind of mirage?"
Yao Yuan laughed lightly. "You can’t have mirages in space, so this is real… Or rather, most of it doesn’t appear to be illusory under the scrutiny of our discreet probing. Of course, your worry is shared among some of the scientists, saying that the junkyard is nothing more than a masterful trap conjured up by some advanced alien culture to trick technology-wise backwards societies like our own, but this line of thought lacks validity."
Zhang Heng turned around and asked, "Why not?"
"Because there is a lack of pay off." Yao Yuan smiled. "It is my belief that there is an intention for profit behind every one of our actions, and it should be the same for all alien life forms as well. Be it for survival, the claiming of territory, or assault, there has to be a profitable purpose behind it, right?
"We humans are no threat to their survival or territory, so the safest bet would be assault. Perhaps they view us as a possible future threat and would like to vanquish us before then. However, there is still a problem. Why would they set a trap for us in the middle of nowhere? This area is literally a void as there is with no star or planets around, so if this is a trap, where’s the bait? What are the chances that we would cross here willingly?
"Hence, this argument lacks validity. We are looking at a spaceship junkyard, nothing more nothing less!" Yao Yuan concluded, with the smile still attached to his face.
Zhang Heng debated for quite some time before laughing cheerfully. "Then that’s great. Looks like there is a bright future awaiting man after all… But then again, as you’ve said, these spaceships are several hundreds of years more advanced than us, so… why are they lying around in broken shreds?"
The question had both Zhang Heng and Yao Yuan descend into silence because the possibility was too scary to be spoken out loud… In fact, lots of scientists had been debating this issue since the junkyard was first spotted. According to the captured pictures, all of the debris in the junkyard was similar to the ones that made up the central command battleship. In other words, there were no parts that were of a different origin.
With that in mind, the Academy came up with two hypotheses. One, there was an internal uprising. This was not hard to envision since the Hope itself had almost succumbed to this ending when they were dangerously close to running out of supplies. Of course, the infighting could also be caused by a difference in religious or political ideals, and to have a mutiny escalated to such devastation was not entirely impossible… Then again, the command battleship alone was at least 1,000 kilometers long, so it could survive easily for several thousands of years in space. As long as the society wasn’t overly populated, it was hard to see the people voluntarily hurting their own chance at survival, so the possibility for hypothesis one was quite low.
And that left them with the much scarier hypothesis two, one that made chills run down Yao Yuan’s spine.
The fleet of battleships came into contact with a far superior alien race, and in the midst of combat… no, the massacre, the battleship was demolished without its opponent suffering even one warship loss… Of course, it was possible that for such an advanced civilization, they didn’t even need to rely on warships for the purpose of warfare.
In any case, the idea that this battleship fleet that was already 200 to 300 years more superior than human technology could be wiped out without a chance of retaliation was… spine-chilling… Because one could already imagine how man would fare when they came into contact with this powerful adversary.
Man’s ingenuity in cruelty was unrivaled as evidenced by the inhuman experiments done on lab animals, so they knew clearly what would be their ending if the roles were swapped when they were captured by these alien overlords… Thoughts of that had Yao Yuan shivering, so he promised, "We will make the technology in this junkyard our own!"
And that was the perspective he presented to the Hope’s public, a perspective that was not accepted by the more cautious parties on the ship. However, the majority was behind Yao Yuan’s back. In any case, this had sparked a new wave of dialogue on the Hope.
Nevertheless, for better or for worse, all would be revealed in two months, when they arrive at the junkyard.
10 minutes later, Zhang Heng, with Yao Yuan’s aid, finally arrived at his home, where a bunch of people already sat waiting. There were members of the Black Star Unit, newly promoted second lieutenants that were there beside him in the underground base for the rescue mission, Ning Xue, Mao Miao, and a reluctant Ren Tao, whom Chou Yue had dragged there by his ear.
Zhang Heng looked around and with tears pricking his eyes and smiled. "I don’t think my house can fit so many people, so how about a meal at the restaurant? My treat…"
Yao Yuan clapped him tightly in his shoulder, interjecting, "This is your welcome home party, so keep your offer until next time! Come, I’ve made reservations at the Barracks Restaurant. We’re going to have a toast… a toast for having successfully completed our mission."
"Cheers!"
"Yes! I’m not leaving there sober!"
"Zhang Heng, I’m going to stuff you full with food and wine to help you make up for lost time…"
Zhang Heng felt a warm feeling suffuse through his body cocooned within the cacophony of familiar voices. However, he still turned left and then right as if looking for someone, and that prompted Yao Yuan to ask, "What’s wrong? Did we miss someone?"
Whereupon Zhang Heng answered, "…No, everyone’s here, let’s not waste time anymore." And he made to catch up with Ebon.
(So she isn’t here… But didn’t she promise… Did I imagine everything?) Simultaneously, in a slightly large room that had been converted into a courtroom, a sizeable crowd had gathered. The courtroom was one of the three courtrooms currently available on the Hope. About ten thousand citizens wandered in its vicinity, some waiting for their turn to be called into court, others talking among themselves. Interspersed within the crowd were also several reporters interviewing the public about the ongoing trial.
Yes, court was in session. It had attracted such a crowd because it was the first time the Hope was sitting over… A ‘Crimes against Humanity’ trial!
This all started when the underground base’ black box was unearthed. On it was the recording of the mob led by a group of workers harassing Mark, the engineer, and then threatening to destroy his communicator.
During the final evacuation, the soldiers stationed in the third level grabbed hold of the black box with the intention of preserving confidential information and the data backlog. They didn’t expect their action to lead to such a monumental court case.
To be fair, the group of workers didn’t violate many laws, plus no one was hurt, and the communicator was unharmed in the end. If this was a case on Earth, it would be tossed out by the court almost immediately.
But circumstances were different now. Many citizens and even soldiers demanded proper repercussions. This was because most of the Hope had been spurned by mobs that had lost their grasp on sanity in the face of pressure and despair. Their experience during the final days of Earth had told them that the most dangerous creature of all was a crazed man.
And that was the biggest threat to the Hope’s safety. Without a sense of order, the Hope’s security could easily be dismantled from within. No one on the Hope was willing to relive Earth’s dark few months, and that was why protocols had been put in place by the military and upheld by the public so that such tragedy would not repeat.
Therefore, the group of workers was immediately charged by the soldiers, hoping Yao Yuan would persecute them under martial law.
However, when the news reached the House of Representatives, they pooled their resources to appeal to Yao Yuan to hand over the workers to the civil court. Their justifications were, one, the accused weren’t members of the Barracks, and two, they hoped an open court proceedings in the civil court could set a precedent for members of the public to know to uphold order at all times.
After sitting through multiple viewings of the recordings, Yao Yuan decided to pass the trial over to the civil court.
And today was the trial for Marcian Nikopov, the person who initiated and led the mob.
The defendant for the Hope’s first ‘Crimes against Humanity’ trial!