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17.36% Age of Cosmic Exploration / Chapter 83: 24 Hours (8)

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Chapter 83: 24 Hours (8)

Translator: Lonelytree Editor: Lucas

Yao Yuan’s intention to employ explosives to demolish the entrance faced quite a sizeable resistance; even the Academy voiced its concerns. However, Yao Yuan decided to go ahead with the plan because none could offer a better resolution… Ren Tao was right, it was do-or-die.

After the resounding explosion, almost everyone on the Hope gathered at the windows facing the base. Many were praying tearfully, praying for the safety of their families and friends who were still trapped in the underground base. This was especially true for the women who were allowed an early leave due to the voluntary sacrifice of their husbands.

The most hectic room on the Hope was, however, its surveillance room. Training all its scanning and tracking devices on the underground base, technicians and scientists hustled about the room checking and collecting data. This was data on the base’s geological condition, structural integrity, and the general situation around the meteorite.

"… The scanning feed is now online! The explosion has collapsed the door and nobody’s hurt. It didn’t loosen the rocks nor did it cause a cave-in! The mission is a success! The entrance is now 20 meters wide!"

Through the Hope’s broadcasting network, the good news was quickly spread among the citizens. It was received with cheers of joy. It had turned many tears of sorrow into ones of joy.

The aftershock of the explosion knocked most of the people on the base’s first floor off their feet. The explosives used were the latest invention of the 21st century. Using a liquid oxygen base, it could create high-powered explosions without requiring exposure to atmospheric air. It was the perfect selection to use in a vacuum surrounding.

10 seconds after the explosion, the Black Star members were the first to stand up. Relief swept over them when they confirmed that the explosion didn’t bring the whole entrance down with it. The 20 meter hole that resulted from the explosion was more than enough to speed up the transfer of the remaining people.

As more people regained their footing from the blast, a sense of contained joy spread through the crowd. Even the frown that was previously locked on Yao Yuan’s face relaxed. Without wasting any more time, with the military-escorted short-distance buses leading the way, people swarmed through the entrance in an orderly manner. It took only half an hour for the whole group of people to reach the cabin door of the Hope. Now all they needed to do was wait for their turn to pass through the decontamination rooms.

Being so close to their symbolic hope and the place where they had called home, many in the crowd broke down in tears. Many tried but failed self-consciously when they moved to wipe the tears flowing from their eyes, the screen of their space helmet blocking the way. The little blunders lent a small bubble of mirth.

Yao Yuan, on the other hand, was busy maintaining a constant channel of communication with the Hope’s surveillance room. He needed continuous updates on every situation.

"… According to our heat sensors, there are still several thousand people trapped in the third floor. Due to its isolated existence, the pre-releasing of the air in the first and second level hasn’t affected it much. The people down there are still alive."

At that point of the report, Yao Yuan interjected, "Is there a reason why we are still unable to establish contact with the third level people?"

"Even though that level is equipped with a communicator, its telephone cable must have been destroyed during the initial earthquake… And Major, I’m sorry to report this, but since that level is only specialized for industrial purposes, they do not have access to any wireless communicators. They also can’t contact us via the space helmets’ attached communication device because all the spacesuits are stored in the second level storeroom."

"In other words, the several thousand technicians down there are essentially cut off from the rest? The upper two levels are now a space of vacuum, so without access to spacesuits and communication, even if the way to the industrial level is cleared, the situation will be…" Yao Yuan sighed frustratedly instead of finishing his thoughts.

The other end of the communicator was also steeped in silence, lamenting the third level’s regretful state.

Gritting his teeth, Yao Yuan was at a loss for words. Suddenly, he was hit with a vision of Ren Tao. Without giving it much thought, he started looking around and ordered the few guards beside him to locate Ren Tao.

Soon after, a reluctant Ren Tao was brought before Yao Yuan. He grumbled, "Why do you have to pull me out of the line? I was right in the middle of it, but now I have to start again at the back."

Without preamble, Yao Yuan ordered, "Switch your communicator to the xxxx channel now."

Ren Tao moved reluctantly, but he did switch the communicator within his helmet over to the specified channel. Then, Yao Yuan said hurriedly, "Ren Tao, as I’ve promised, Chou Yue is one of the first to return to the Hope. She’s in the short-distance bus. You can see it for yourself, right?"

Ren Tao nodded cautiously, knowing full well that Yao Yuan had something more up his sleeve.

"I don’t care what kind of Homo Evolutis you are, or even if you aren’t one, but I seriously need your help here. It’s regarding the people that are trapped in the third level of the underground base…"

Yao Yuan proceeded to explain the conundrum. He included the details about the lack of communication, spacesuits, and the danger that could be realized from the difference in air pressure.

Ren Tao had maintained his usual oblivious expression throughout Yao Yuan’s elaboration.

"Ren Tao, if you can point out the right direction, a military ranking, a wealth of H-coins, a guarantee of your and your sister’s safety, if you name it I shall provide… Just help me overcome this problem. If you’re not doing it for me, do it for the people down there. These several thousand people have worked through sweat, tears, and blood to keep everything afloat; we can’t turn our backs on them now!

"Those are good people that have done nothing wrong. In fact, they have done many things right! So if there’s a sliver of chance, no matter how small it is, I’m going to save them! So please, show me the way to that sliver of a chance!" finished Yao Yuan.

Ren Tao could feel the gears in his brain turning, but that sensation only remained fleetingly. A glint of inspiration appeared in his otherwise inattentive expression and he yawned. "I won’t say there is absolutely no way to save them. There are two key issues you need to overcome. The first is to establish contact with the people down there, and second is to send them the spacesuits before the pathway leading down there is cleared.

"Regarding the first point, since it can’t be solved using conventional human technology, how about trying out the new batch of Homo Evolutis? I’m referring to specifically the girl, Nian Xi Kong."

Ren Tao didn’t go into details, but he could already see the different possible simulations assimilating in his mind. He could see the multitudes of simulacra his suggestion had set into motion. It was incredibly draining, and it made him yearn for a good munch or a short nap, but he continued with a toneless delivery,

"Regarding the second point, I believe you might have forgotten a special unit that can help you with that. If I’m not mistaken they are only on the Hope…"

"Another unit?" asked Yao Yuan curiously. He also noticed that the intervals between Ren Tao’s yawns had gotten much closer, so much so that he realized the boy could barely keep his eyes open.

"The radioactive minerals harvesting unit… I noticed they were using steam injectors and oil extractors in their harvest wells. If you could modify the pipeline to become air insulated, it could be used to create a direct tunnel into the third level which then can be used to transfer the spacesuits…"

Ren Tao could barely finish his sentence when he crumbled forward into Yao Yuan’s alert arms. Yao Yuan quickly waved over several soldiers to help lift Ren Tao safely back onto the Hope.

Yao Yuan then broke into a surprised smile.

"Hope surveillance room, this is your captain. I need you to help me contact the person responsible for the radioactive mineral harvesting unit and the main engineer. At the same time, I want to you spread these enquiries among the Workshop and Academy…

"The possibility of adding an air insulation modification to the digging pipeline, and the complications that would come from digging and lowering said pipeline from a vacuum environment into a non-vacuum one!

"I need the answers in 30 minutes!"

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