Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
"For the 300 candidates, they need to be physically fit and have combat experience, but it’s preferable that they have a good sense of direction as well. That is what I’ve learned from our previous mission."
This was 3 days after the war room meeting. Yao Yuan and Guang Zhen were sitting in the captain’s room, flipping over the Hope’s military files. Their first draft of selection contained 800 people, and even though the 800 selected were experienced soldiers, Yao Yuan’s frown deepened as they went deeper into the pile.
Guang Zhen argued, "Couldn’t we rely on intense training? How about former air force… Then again, the Hope doesn’t have many of those to begin with."
Yao Yuan sighed. "I suppose it’ll have to be that way. How about this, we’ll ask the Workshop to build us a space-combat simulator inside a faux shuttle cabin to test these people’s power of adaptation to combat in space… All the Homo Evolutis will have to join, the Whisperers and Thinker included."
Guang Zhen stopped short of his work. "Do you mean to bring them to the battlefield? Ol’ Wong, this is unadvisable. The Academy is highly protective of Bo Li and Ivan. I swear to God, they will go on a strike if you actively put them in harm’s way!"
"Don’t worry. This is just for the simulator. I want to test Ivan’s theory that Homo Evolutis is a result of mankind adapting to the space environment. I feel there might be more than a grain of truth in his hypothesis. Actually, in that case, arrange for all the Virus X survivors to take part in the simulation as well."
The simulation was carried out 1 week later, and of the 800 first draft candidates, only 106 people passed, while all but 1 Virus X survivors passed the test. That person was… Qi Xiao Niao.
"You idiots! Have you two lost your minds or do you really want to join the army? Didn’t I tell you to fake failure beforehand?" Xiao Niao lectured Dan Dan and Qiu Qiu.
Chewing a piece of tomato, Dan Dan retorted smugly, "But it is simply too simple. Who knew I had the potential to be in the air force? All they wanted me to do was to use my eyes to follow a small, red dot. It’s not my fault that I managed to locate it every time even though it moved really fast across the 3d screen."
"Will you stop eating!?" an angry Xiao Niao howled. "All you do is sit on your ass every day and eat! We already know we are Homo Evolutis! I’m a Thinker, Qiu Qiu is a Perceptor, and Dan Dan, you’re a Diviner. We’ve tested and confirmed that on our own! Now look at what you 2 have done! We’ll have to join that ridiculous Homo Evolutis Faction and be experimented on for the rest of our lives!"
Finally aware of their mistake, Qiu Qiu coughed and added, in way of reconciliation, "We tried our best to fail, but our eyes naturally moved to follow the red dot. It’s like our sight was glued to it… We’re very sorry, Xiao Niao."
Xiao Niao slumped to his bed listlessly and uttered, "I know, I know… Even I myself almost trailed after the red dot involuntarily. It was as if we were forced to follow that dot… Damn it! Betrayed by our own instinct!"
In the captain’s room, Yao Yuan was reviewing the test results. It was fair to say he was appropriately surprised by them. The first surprise was that other than former air force soldiers, almost none of the military passed the exam. The second was the fact that all Virus X survivors, regardless of gender and age, sailed through the test!
The last surprise was the presence of a sole failure among the Virus X survivors… Qi Xiao Niao.
"To be honest, you’re tripped by your own careful planning."
Yao Yuan poured Xiao Niao a cup of tea and continued, "I bet you thought that most, if not all of, the Virus X survivors would fail the test, so to prevent yourself from standing out and thus being exposed as a Homo Evolutis, you would purposely fail to blend in with the rest, right?"
Xiao Niao picked up the cup and spun it carefully in his hands before laying it down without taking a sip. He then laughed bitterly to himself. "Indeed, I didn’t account for mankind’s instinct to be so visceral that we would involuntarily followed the red dot. You’re right. I was caught by my own careful planning."
Yao Yuan smiled. "So… that would make you a Thinker? To my knowledge, only the Thinker can access a multi-lineal thinking strategy to conduct multi-directional deduction. If you activate your power during the test, that’ll definitely help you overcome your base instinct."
Xiao Niao nodded. "I realized I might have fallen into a trap halfway through the test, but it was already too late, so I figured why not go for bust? If I had known everyone else would pass the test, I swear to you I would not have failed no matter what."
Xiao Niao hung his head in defeat, but on the opposite end of the table, Yao Yuan could barely contain his smile. Now that Ren Tao had expressed his intention to bow out, God decided to present him with a replacement… he couldn’t believe his luck!
"I’ll cut you a deal. The 3 of you will keep your hold over the news agency’s share, but in exchange, you’ll join the Homo Evolutis Faction. Nevertheless, before that, I want to correct your misconception about it. This faction is not some genetics lab. Its main purpose is to learn more about the Homo Evolutis powers and, more importantly, their side effects. In fact, I myself am one of them, so to speak, test subjects," Yao Yuan said jokingly.
Yao Yuan might call it a deal, but Xiao Niao knew this wasn’t something that he could negotiate or weasel out of. His status as a Homo Evolutis was exposed during the test and, based on his captain’s past actions and policies, Xiao Niao knew this was not a simpleton that he could swindle with his words.
Therefore, he stood up and declared, "I understand. I will join the faction…" Then, he turned to leave the room.
Yao Yuan called after him though. "Not so fast! You’ll not only join the Homo Evolutis faction, but also the military. And this includes your 2 friends. However, I promise I won't send you blindly into your grave… but if that were to occur, I’d be the one leading the charge."
Xiao Niao sighed. "I’d rather it not come to that, because if you die, the Hope will most likely follow in your footsteps. You might not have realized it, but you’ve grown to become a symbol that’s more meaningful than this ship’s captain, you’ve become its religion… or rather, the spiritual anchorage of its people."
Xiao Niao shut the door behind him, leaving behind Yao Yuan, who was stunned into speechlessness.
It wasn't until Barbie knocked on the door and walked in that he recovered and asked, "Yes?"
Barbie pointed at her watch, "Captain, it’s 2 in the afternoon. You have a meeting to attend at the House of Representative on the definition of crimes against humanity. There will be reporters there, and the meeting will be broadcast live across the Hope. You haven’t forgotten about it, have you?"
Yao Yuan leaped off his seat and shrugged into his general’s suit. He then hopped onto the electromobile waiting outside the room, and when Barbie sat down beside him, he asked, "Barbie, let me ask you a question. What will you do if I die?"
Barbie was first shocked by the morbid question, but she quickly blushed. Turning her face away from Yao Yuan, she mumbled, "I’ll most probably cry because the ship has lost a good captain… But, I have to ask, do you always tease your secretaries like this, captain?"
This time it was Yao Yuan’s turn to be shocked. He was quick to realize how easily his question could be misinterpreted. Believing that explanation would only make the situation worse, he laughed it off and turned to look out the window.
(Is mankind’s faith so malleable? Perhaps solving the multiple tragedies the Hope has faced in space has nurtured their spiritual reliance in me… I can’t believe I didn’t notice that earlier.) Looking back, he realized that those weird rumors and cultish behaviors that had troubled Guang Zhen greatly had disappeared or gone stagnant right after he woke up and assumed control over the Hope again.
With Yao Yuan back at the helm, life on the Hope gradually returned to its optimal pace. 30 days later, the Hope’s first space army unit was finally ready. It included all of the Black Star members and 6 new Homo Evolutis: Xiao Niao, Qiu Qiu, Dan Dan, Ming Ji Jie, and 2 others.
As fate would have it, this Ji Jie was incidentally the nurse who was responsible for looking after Yao Yuan after his return from the warship husk. She was a Virus X survivor and now a confirmed perceptor.
"…With this, I declare the formation of the Hope’s first unit of space troopers!"
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