16.31% Age of Cosmic Exploration / Chapter 78: 24 Hours (3)

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Chapter 78: 24 Hours (3)

Translator: Lonelytree Editor: Lucas

Ren Tao was calm. Some might even say that he was being callously calm in spite of everything that was happening around him.

Situated in the middle of the crowd, he felt his surroundings to be exceptionally quiet. All the destruction, the debris, and the voices were nothing but mist that no longer clouded his mind. Instead, pieces were falling into place.

First, the quake was indeed a bit too sudden. The government was very careful about finding the perfect location to build this underground base. It was preposterous that they would end up choosing an earthquake-prone area.

If it wasn’t caused by the location, then the next possibility would be a lack of structural integrity. However, Ren Tao quickly dismissed that idea. The fact that the base was still standing even after such a shake was an affirmative confirmation that the base was structurally sound. In fact, Ren Tao was willing to bet the base was more stable and concrete than necessary.

So if it wasn’t caused by internal sabotage, then the next logical conclusion would be that it had to be related to something external…

A picture of the star system they were in flashed across Ren Tao’s mind. In his mind’s eye, he could see the millions of meteorites stretched across the galaxy. In his mental reconstruction, the meteorite the base was built on crashed into another meteorite because that was what he believed had happened.

In science, there exists a saying that goes: no matter how small the probability, if it’s the only logical conclusion left, it has to be true.

It was not uncommon for meteorites to crash into one another during the initial planet formation stage. If it had happened once before, one could expect it to happen again and again until the planet became stabilized.

Therefore, the pressing question would be… when will the next crash occur?!

Even though technically there was no safe space in a situation like these, the Hope was humanity’s safest bet. Therefore, it was incredibly likely that when push came to shove, the government would not hesitate to sacrifice a few to save the majority. It sounded cruel, but that would net humanity the best chance at survival. In spite of his words, Ren Tao was certain that as long as the Hope remained under Major Yao Yuan’s leadership, this would be the route the government would take.

Even though the Hope only had a population of 120,000, Ren Tao suspected that the government had a full storage of frozen human ovum and sperm to turn to if they needed to repopulate the ship. After all, they had the technology.

A few months ago, news regarding the government officials that had abandoned Earth before them broke. Even though their ships were only big enough to accommodate a few thousand people, their bank of genetic materials could breed many times its carriage limit. Who could be sure the same couldn’t be said of the Hope?

Therefore, if the situation arose, Ren Tao believed that the Hope’s government would not hesitate to turn its back on its own people…

(Zhang Heng, the known Diviner, has been roaming around the entrance for a while now, so this means that the source of danger will probably come from that door. During evacuation, the first group to be sent back to the Hope will be members of the Academy and their families. It will take four or five trips to transport all of them. Then, it will be the Homo Evolutis and specialized workers like doctors and nurses, and they’ll probably bring along the wounded…)

On that thought, Ren Tao felt relief permeate his body. Chou Yue was one of the known Homo Evolutis, so she would reach the safety of the Hope soon. As long as she was safe, he had nothing more to worry about.

Comforted by that thought, Ren Tao gradually returned to his oblivious self as he was swept by the public towards the second floor’s storeroom.

Back on the Hope, the repair crew was engrossed in emergency updates. Everyone onboard felt the earthquake, and not only that, they could see what was causing it through the cabin windows.

As if suddenly charged by energy, the idling meteorites around them started flying towards and crashing into one another. Pulled into each other by a mysterious force, the Hope was witnessing a particularly destructive dance. However, most alarmingly, many on the Hope swore that the asteroids that resulted from one of these collisions were surging towards them. They couldn’t provide actual evidence for it, but they could feel it firmly in their guts.

No matter what, the first thing they had to do was establish contact with the underground base. Without orders from Yao Yuan and information from the Academy, they were effectively lost.

"Ignore the circuit update for the remaining system for now! We need to finish installing these few circuits and get the ship back online! For the rest, leave the old circuit in! Quick! We need to move!"

The circuit update crew comprised of more than 1,000 technicians and electricians. The man who led the crew was the Chinese engineer from Germany, Liu Ren De. He was part of a group that worked on Earth’s space station. At that moment, he was practically screaming.

"Pick up the slack! We have another 15 minutes to complete the finishing touches on this set of circuits. After that, initiate the Hope’s main power to activate its life support, air circulatory, and anti-gravitational systems. Leave the rest!"

An engineer beside him asked, "Liu, are you sure that’s ok? How about the surveillance system? Shouldn’t we prioritize that to know what’s happening?"

Ren De replied without taking his eyes away from his work. "What difference would that information make? Are we going to abandon the rest knowing that the meteorite is going to explode the next second? No, we won’t!

"There are 120,000 people in that base. Let’s assume we can survive the loss of the major, but without the Academy, what will that entail?

"That means that we are only delaying the inevitable! Yes, we could teach our children knowledge about circuits and electrical appliances, but who is going to educate them on subjects like biology, chemistry, and physics? Can you? No! So running is not an option. The only option we have is to restore the Hope’s power to contact the base and wait for the scientists and others to return."

The engineer was lectured into submission and sighed quietly. "Of course you’re right. We could only survive with the three bodies, Academy, Workshop and Barracks, intact…. Okay, I’ll go rush my team to speed up the progress."

Ren De nodded and smiled weakly. "At least rest in the comfort of knowing that we’ve tried our best and hope that God will look kindly upon us for that…"

"So are we turning to God now?"

While Yao Yuan was managing the rescue missions around the first floor, the scientists and their families were already gathered around one corner of the room. Many were praying to their gods and ancestors.

Yao Yuan wasn’t going to interrupt such an overt display of faith because he found the faithful to be more trustworthy than the atheists. Simultaneously, he realized that the Hope needed to address the subject of religion if they survived this ordeal.

Even though there were initial conflicts between the citizens of the Hope due to their wide-ranging backgrounds, those were being slowly smoothed out as time passed. They only needed time to realize they were all allies on the same ship. Time and constant exposure to other cultures had worked wonders on overcoming the racist sentiments.

The single source of contention that had remained divisive had stayed inconspicuous, so much so that Yao Yuan had overlooked it… and that was religion.

For the Asians, this was a non-issue because their major religion of Buddhism and Hinduism had a similar root [1]. The real trouble was the animosity between the western and middle-eastern religions…

This, however, was a sensitive area, so even though Yao Yuan knew that it was a giant problem, he knew that he needed better tact and planning before broaching it. Plus, the occasion didn’t call for it.

Right then, the military came back with the first set of spacesuits. Yao Yuan quickly ordered the members of Academy and their families to put them on. Then, a small team of 50 soldiers was assigned to escort this important group of people back to the Hope.

It had been 1 hour and 25 minutes since the earthquake…

[1] The reason given by the author for the Asians being not a problem was because they weren’t firm believers of their faith, which are just all sorts of weird.

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