Translator: Lonelytree Editor: Lucas
With the passage of time, the Hope floated closer and closer to the junkyard, and finally there were only nine days left to their journey. It was on this day too that Yao Yuan revealed the 12 members of the scouting party.
First, the team was led by Yao Yuan even though many objected to it, including his Black Star teammates and Guang Zhen. They wished he wouldn’t risk his life so willfully, especially when the Hope still needed his leadership. Nevertheless, their advice fell on deaf ears, his retort being that even if he perished, the Hope still had Guang Zhen, the acting captain, to lean back on.
Furthermore, he was the most powerful among the 12, both in terms of Homo Evolutis capability and military skills. As the all-rounder, he was the obvious selection for the leader position. With him leading, the success rate of the exploratory missions would greatly increase.
The rest of the team members were Zhang Heng, Ying, Liu Bai, Lee, Ebon, Fei Biao (Black Star Member, Perceptor), Xie Xiao Yan (Black Star Member, Perceptor), Peng Huai Shi (Black Star Member, Perceptor), Wa Luo, Ren Tao, and Chou Yue.
In other words, with the exception of Guang Zhen, all the Black Star members were participating in this mission. Both Ren Tao and Chou Yue were also requested to join as respectively the Thinker and the Diviner.
"…Ol’ Cap’n, isn’t this too much of a risk?" Guang Zhen asked, with concern wrinkling his brow as he looked through the member list.
Guang Zhen’s concern was shared by many on the Hope, including the many committee leaders and even the newly appointed second lieutenants.
One of the problems was that even though Yao Yuan was clear that Guang Zhen would be his successor, that decision was not one that was unanimously accepted by the citizens of the Hope.
For one, after his heroic deeds on both the meteorite base and Planet Sahara, Yao Yuan’s position as the Hope’s de-facto leader became firmly unchallenged. For another, even though he held absolute military power, his policies had proven time and again to be humanistic and inclusive. Finally, he wasn’t ethnocentric, for he showed appreciation for other cultures and encouraged inter-cultural assimilation.
Compared to Yao Yuan, Guang Zhen was a traditional military man. There was a clear hierarchy in his mind when it came to policy-making. He was prone to having a condescending attitude towards people that he considered being a station lower than him, and with the exception of his Black Star mates, those people was everyone else on the Hope. Many westerners and some Asians were put off by this to the extent of being apprehensive of his leadership.
While Yao Yuan was still around, they were mostly fine with Guang Zhen being the second in command, because they knew that most policies still came from Yao Yuan.
However, after Guang Zhen officially took over as the captain of the Hope, things would be a lot more different… Because of that, after the member list for the exploratory party was revealed, many came forth with objections. They were adamant that Yao Yuan not participate in this mission, and they were also concerned about whether it was wise putting all their eggs in one bucket with all 12 members of the party being Homo Evolutis.
"I understand your worry."
Yao Yuan sat in central command, going over the member list once more. "Ol’ Wong, you’re worried that the list is too weighted, right? First, with me dead, the Hope might face political upheaval, and second, if the team was to perish, half of the Hope’s known Homo Evolutis will disappear alongside it as well. Those are your concerns, right?"
Guang Zhen hesitated before finally nodding and sighing. Sitting down across Yao Yuan, he added, "Ol’ Cap’n, you know as well as I do that I’m not politician material. For the sake of the Hope, I behoove you to reconsider the candidate for your successor."
"What is there to reconsider?" Yao Yuan lifted his head to catch Guang Zhen’s eyes. Laughing, he stood up and walked over to Guang Zhen. Patting him on his shoulder, he added, "Guang Zhen, regardless of your political leaning, there are two things about you that make you the best successor candidate. Your kindness and your reliability, those are the qualities that the rest of the Hope has yet to see.
"Your reliability ensures that you will not instantly roll back current policies. Even though you might have opposite opinions on some of them, for the sake of stability, I believe you will make sure that they remain effective. Secondly, your kindness ensures that you will not draft draconian policies. These two qualities alone make you a more than qualified leader. Plus, stepping into this post will change you. You’ll learn from experience and I’m sure you’ll only get better at it."
Yao Yuan smiled, "That’s why you are the best candidate. The all Homo Evolutis line-up though, I’ll admit, is rather risky."
"However, isn’t the fact that we’re in space itself a big risk? Every step we have taken even before leaving Earth was risky. Every day we’re taking some sort of risks. We can’t let that hold us back. For the sake of a successful mission, this risk is one that I am willing to take," Yao Yuan confessed.
"Furthermore… We really do need this success."
Yao Yuan circled back to his chair and sat down, sighing. "There has been a series of roadblocks since our adventures on Planet Sahara, then the nebula, and finally the meteorite base. It is obvious that such a long period of distress has introduced frustration and fear in the citizens of this ship. Within these two months, I’ve received reports that people are forming new religious groups. The tenets for these groups are very basic, but their aim is to find reasoning behind the series of misadventures. The majority of them says that these are trials given by God to test us sinners.
"I’ll be frank. I’m very afraid… Religion is the manifestation of man’s irrationality. If correctly guided, it can provide wonderful spiritual relief, but if wrongly used, it could cultivate cult mentality. When things escalate to an unruly stage, I will have no choice but to execute all followers of this cult. I do not see that sitting well with the rest of the Hope, but it is definitely something that has to be done. Therefore, to prevent that from happening, we have to stem these doomsday cults at their buds.
"To that effect, this 12 Homo Evolutis party is necessary."
Yao Yuan looked at Guang Zhen seriously and said, "There can be no margin for error. We must give this mission our best shot. Only with the success of this mission will people stop turning to these cults, and without public support, they will eventually die out.
"Ol’ Wong, I’ve made up my mind, so you can stop trying to persuade me now. If you really want to help, help me maintain the peace on the Hope after I’ve departed for the mission."
Yao Yuan repeated the same speech to others that approached him with opposition. After several days of repetition, Yao Yuan finally convinced the ship that he was not going to back down from leading the party. Realizing his determination, the Hope shifted their effort to prepare for the worst.
"When the Hope is 1,000 kilometers away from the junkyard, we will stop to release a fleet of upgraded, pilotless mining airships. We will control the airships to get close to the junkyard’s outer perimeter to see whether they’ll trigger any traps."
In the Barracks’ war room, Yao Yuan elaborated as he pointed at the blackboard behind him using a cane.
"If no danger is triggered, the upgraded shuttle will be used for us to get closer to the junkyard’s outer perimeter. This part of the operation will take about three days.
"After the shuttle reaches the outer perimeter, we will once again control the airships to move closer to the area with giant, floating debris. With deliberate care, the airships will be used to gingerly bump against the debris to ensure that their weapon systems have been completely shut down. If this step is also successful, we will move on to the next course of action, which is the one that is most vital."
Yao Yuan turned back from the board and looked at the ten something people gathered before him. "With me leading, the exploration party will enter this area to search for valuables to bring back to the Hope. Naturally, this mission will harbor all sorts of dangers, so while I’m gone, Guang Zhen will assume my position as captain of the Hope until my return.
"This concludes the briefing for the junkyard scouting operation. The members of this mission are myself, Zhang Heng, Ying, Liu Bai, Lee, Ebon, Fei Biao (Black Star Member, Perceptor), Xie Xiao Yan (Black Star Member, Perceptor), Peng Huai Shi (Black Star Member, Perceptor), Wa Luo, Ren Tao, and Chou Yue.
"Both Ren Tao and Chou Yue will be joining this mission as new military recruits in the ranks of Sergeant and as the Black Star Unit’s reserve members…
"There are still four days until we reach our destination, so use the remaining time to train and rest adequately.
With that, Yao Yuan walked out of the war room.
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