16.94% Age of Cosmic Exploration / Chapter 81: 24 Hours (6)

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Chapter 81: 24 Hours (6)

Translator: Lonelytree Editor: Lucas

Zhang Xian He was an unassuming middle-aged man. To be even more specific, he was an unassuming economic analyst who flew under the radar for most of his life.

His looks were as average as his professional standing. Carrying a pouch that came with working habits that required him to spend hours in front of a desk, he had a trusting smile and balding head. His agreeable and harmless appearance was unusual for his occupation and it made him look at least a decade older than his actual age.

That was also why Xian He had been unlucky with the ladies. Even though he was kind, loving and responsible, he was shy and awkward around the ladies. His lack of romantic success was also compounded by the fact that he only attracted those that see him for his money. That was why it was only at his middle age that Xian He had his first serious relationship.

That year he was 41 years old and was aimlessly strolling down the beach. It was then that he ran into a young beautiful OL whose bag was robbed by a few truants…

That woman later became his wife, and they were blessed with a precious daughter. The gravity of his life shifted to his family, a family he would sacrifice everything for!

On The Hope, even though Xian He and his wife were both highly educated and knowledgeable citizens with proficiency in multiple languages, they melted perfectly into the crowd. They were not scientists, engineers, soldier, doctors or teachers…

In other words, they weren’t going to be one of the firsts to leave the underground base.

Xian He sat silently beside his wife and daughter. He and his wife were already in their spacesuits but their 2 years old wasn’t because she was too tiny to fit into the space gear. As if feeling left out, she was fussing about cradled in her mother’s arms.

Xian He watched his family with a silent interest…

When he saw another short-distance life preservation bus moved towards the entrance, he finally decided he had to speak up. Standing up, he yelled, "We should let the children back onto The Hope first. They don’t have the protection of a spacesuit. It’s too dangerous for them to stay here," rallying the people around him, he continued, "Don’t you agree with me, fellas? We should let the children and their mothers evacuate the base first. It’s our responsibility as man to stay behind to ensure their safety!"

Xian He wasn’t being exceptionally loud but his message rang loud and clear. At least 10 families heard his call to action. Among these families were 3 children, 2 toddlers and even one pregnant mother. It didn’t take them too long to rally behind Xian He’s cause. Slowly but surely, the commotion spread.

This inevitably attracted the attention of the soldiers who immediately contacted Yao Yuan. A civilian uprising was the thing they feared the most. And it wasn’t like there was no merit behind it, after all, these people had been left behind to preserve a better survival chance for others. Furthermore, the 1000 plus soldiers won’t be able to contain a rampaging several ten thousand people…

Yao Yuan instantly rushed to the scene with a small troop of soldiers. He breathed a great sigh of relief when he arrived. It was a very contained chaos. The people were talking, and not yelling, among themselves. However, because there were too many speakers, it was hard to make up what they were discussing.

Yao Yuan though knew this was a situation that he needed to tread lightly upon. Accompanied by his soldiers, he wiggled into the crowd. With his arrival, like magic, the crowd gradually silenced.

Yao Yuan’s frown deepened. Then, a slightly rotund middle-aged man stood up. Instead of coming forth, he stood calmly at his spot and said, "Major, we have a request."

"Of course, sir, do tell. If it’s reasonable, we’ll gladly accept," replied Yao Yuan.

With a bravery that rarely came to him, Xian He continued steadily, "Major, as you can see, there are many children, toddlers and even pregnant mothers here. Now that the scientists had been escorted out, I beg of you to please let the children and their mother leave first. The children need their mother. As you know, the kids don’t have access to the spacesuit…

And we, the man, are willing to stay behind!"

Xian He’s legs were shaking when he finished his speech. This was the second time he showed such courage in his life. The first was when he finally popped the big question to his wife. It was equally disconcerting both times.

Everyone, including Yao Yuan, responded with a deep silence.

In reality, it was the doctors and engineers’ turn to be evacuated. Coupled with their family members, there were about 50000 of them. Only a third of them had left the base. With this speed, it would take another 3 to 4 hours to get this group fully out of the base.

"Okay. I will allow the children priority to board the short-distance bus. Don’t need to be so precise with the carry limit. It can fit an extra 3 to 4 people than the suggested limit. The Hope is not that far away… Yes, let their mothers follow but arrangement will have to be made so that men of the family will have to wait for a later turn," Yao Yuan finally announced.

Xian He could barely contain his emotion. With tears stinging his eyes, he gripped his hands tightly as he thanked Yao Yuan profusely.

Yao Yuan saluted the crowd in return and left the area. Long after he had left, as if coming out of a coma, the crowd erupted in violent cheers, and the remaining 10 soldiers moved to update their records.

"Sacrifice oneself to give one’s wife and children the best hope at survival?" sighed Yao Yuan.

Xian He’s wife was completely stunned by his husband’s behavior. After Yao Yuan and his soldiers had left, she tugged at his sleeve tightly, "Have you lost your mind? It’s our turn after this batch of people. Why… why would you make such a request? What about yourself? You…"

His wife, usually the prevailing one in their relationship, was visibly flustered. Just like her words, her tears were out of her control.

In their marriage, his wife had learnt that Xian He was a kind and accommodating partner. In work and in marriage, he was not the one to stake his claim. What he just did was a complete surprise.

Xian He enveloped his wife in a tight hug and kissed his daughter, he smiled, "Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. The most important thing is that you and Yu Er will be safe. Plus, the major himself hasn’t left. If there’s real danger, I’m sure he’ll figure something out. Plus, with this spacesuit, I can survive several hours in space, so don’t worry too much."

Holding on to their daughter, his wife’s tears were flowing freely now. Resting her head on her husband’s shoulder, she felt incredibly safe and protected. She had not chosen the wrong man…

Soon after, the children were put onto the short-distance bus. Following close behind were the mothers. Escorted by a troop of soldiers, they were led back onto The Hope. There was no shortage of wet eyes in the crowd…

The men they loved had given up their lives for themselves and their children…

Back on The Hope, The Academy had compiled their first report…

The system was undergoing dramatic changes. Transformation of the star had introduced a giant force of seismic change into the solar system. Think of the system as a magnetized field, a change on one end would affect the whole field.

And surrounding this field is a smattering of minute metallic pieces. However, because they are situated some distance apart from the center of the field, instead of being pulled towards it, they will become magnetized!

The bigger they are, the faster they’ll become magnetized, and the stronger their pulling force will be!

It was a phenomenon The Academy couldn’t explain… It was well beyond human technology’s comprehension. They could only offer stipulation based on learnt theories. For example, the gravity of the meteorite they were on had increased to 1/11 of Earth’s gravity and it was still growing!

In other words, the meteorite was pulling nearby intergalactic substances towards them!

This was probably how a terrestrial planet forms itself!

Make no mistake though because it was also an irrevocable disaster! If another asteroid of similar size ram into the meteorite, it will not only cause an earthquake, they would shatter upon impact!

"According the increasing speed of the gravity and distance from nearby asteroids… We have another 18 to 19 hours before a collision of devastating scale would occur!"

It had been 4 hours and 50 minutes since the quake…

36000 people were on The Hope…

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