Age of Cosmic Exploration Chapter 100
As the ship's captain, one would expect Yao Yuan to be familiar with everything there was to know about the Hope. In fact, when they first acquired the Hope, Yao Yuan spent days poring over the spaceship's blueprints because he felt it was his responsibility to do.
However, Yao Yuan was as equally blind sighted as everyone else with regards to this unexpected development. So when news came that there was a mysterious object hiding underneath the Hope's central mainframe, he sat sweating profusely in his seat.
"How could I have been so careless…?"
After immediately excusing himself from his discussion with the panel of experts, he called for his Black Star members to join him at the central mainframe. As Wa Luo joined him mid-sprint, he yelled, "Even though we have done a thorough search around the Hope, we've forgotten about one important thing!"
Wa Luo, who was still out of the loop, asked in return, "And what is that?"
"Hazard inspection! Specifically, we didn't scout for the possibility of internal explosives!"
Yao Yuan added grimly, "Let's not forget who we're dealing with… the original owners of this ship were politicians that were as slimy as snakes. If they could be heartless enough to abandon Earth in secret, would they really leave such a perfect ship for the rest of us to find? It is not beyond them to sabotage this ship with explosives out of spite!"
Wa Luo was not only taken aback by this new information but also by Yao Yuan's anger. He had never seen his captain so angry before.
Yao Yuan was envisioning all sorts of torture devices that he would have at the ready for this group of government officials if they were unlucky enough to fall into his clutches. He believed there was an 80 percent chance that there were indeed explosives buried under the mainframe. It fitted the officials' modus operandi too perfectly! Similar to Wa Luo, the people around Yao Yuan could feel waves of anger emanating from their captain as they parted for the pair to pass.
The Hope's central mainframe was situated at the center of the fifth floor Barracks. It was a highly secure area with 24 hour patrol. The patrol team of 25 members wouldn't allow anyone other than Yao Yuan and Guang Zhen to enter easily. A lot of forms needed to be filled to gain entry, and even so, said person or group had to be followed by six guards at all times within the room.
Such high security was warranted because this place was the brain and heart of the Hope. It dictated everything from the ship's anti-gravitational system to its communication channels.
When Yao Yuan arrived at the central mainframe room, Ying, Ebon, Bo Li, and Zhang Heng were already there. Since they were the ones who sent Yao Yuan the news, they knew of the seriousness of the situation because if Yao Yuan didn't know about this mysterious object, then it must be the previous owner that left it there. Knowing the group of slimy politicians, it was highly unlikely that this was something harmless…
Spotting Yao Yuan, their tense facial features relaxed and they sighed in relief. Yao Yuan, who was still tense, walked up to the four of them and quickly asked, "Who spotted this signal? And has the nature of this signal been deciphered?"
Without hesitation, Bo Li stepped forth to reply, "It was me who first found the signal. It has gone unnoticed for so long because it was technically still heading towards the central mainframe. However, when I was checking the issue of signal delay in the group of robots, I realized that there was an additional hidden stream of signals heading below where the mainframe was supposed to be. After that, I instantaneously filed for a request to enter this room."
"Yes, I've received your request and approved it." Yao Yuan nodded. "So, did your team find anything? Were they able to tell the location this hidden signal is heading towards?"
Pointing at a spot below the central mainframe, Bo Li confirmed, "Yes, the receiving point of the signal is in the interlayer beneath the central mainframe."
For a matter as serious as this, Yao Yuan wanted an extra opinion. Therefore, in the following few hours, he ordered several experts to conduct an isolated analysis on the signals issued by the set of robots. Their result confirmed Bo Li's discovery. They also tracked the signal to the interlayer beneath the central mainframe!
"I need your help in confirming two points," said Yao Yuan, to the group of experts. "Since I'm no computer expert, first I want you to tell me if it's possible to gain access to this interlayer without shutting down the mainframe.
"And secondly, if it's impossible and the central mainframe is definitely going to suffer damage for us to get to the bottom of this… can the damage be repaired by the Workshop?"
The group of experts Yao Yuan directed his questions toward were the Hope's best experts in computer software and hardware engineering. Some of them were even parts of the teams that were responsible for the multitudes of apps that defined the 21st century. Others were instrumental in building top government agencies' supercomputers.
Since they had previously checked the central mainframe, when Yao Yuan asked, the leading expert replied swiftly, "Captain, regarding your first question, as long as we're careful during the dismantling process, it should be fine. There is nothing important under the mainframe other than electrical circuits, so if we follow the ship's construction blueprint closely, we should be able to avoid harming the wiring."
"About your second point though…" The expert massaged the back of his head and looked at his colleagues with distress in his eyes before finally adding, "In other words, you're asking if we could construct another central mainframe if irreparable damage was done to this one. Sadly, that is currently impossible. This mainframe here is the collective contribution of the best minds in computer science across the globe. It is not something we can replicate at the moment. Sorry to say, but if there's damage even to just some of its crucial parts, the Workshop will be unable to provide any replacements."
Yao Yuan had expected this answer, but to have it confirmed was still a huge disappointment. Even if this current mainframe ended up unscathed through this project, the fact that the Hope still couldn't conduct any repairs on it would arise as a problem sooner or later.
Yao Yuan believed firmly in the edict: hope for the best but prepare for the worst. And that was how Yao Yuan had been drafting his policies.
(Looks like I have to send more people to the IT department after this… Sigh, but from where?) The irony of the situation had Yao Yuan laughing bitterly to himself. He had, on one hand, a burgeoning crisis in population overload, and the other, a deficiency in skilled workers.
In any case, he had to first focus on the issue in front of him, and that was to dismantle the base of the central mainframe and find out what this mysterious object was…
With the aid of the construction blueprint that Yao Yuan pulled from the mainframe itself, the group of engineers spent eight hours carefully unlocking the interlayer beneath the mainframe. Contrary to what was pictured on the blueprint, they found underneath it… a hidden cache, a space about seven or eight meters wide and similarly tall. Placed within this cache was… a silver, metallic sphere.
The sphere had a diameter of about three or four meters, and surprisingly, a few wirings from the central mainframe were connected to it. However, there were no noticeable points of interception; the wires seemed to be melted seamlessly into the sphere.
This finding had everyone slack-jawed, and it was not only because the sphere had a weird appearance but also… it floated freely in the air without assistance. And when they moved closer to look, they realized that it was slowly spinning as well.
"What is this?" Wa Luo said what was in everyone's mind. Faced with this mysterious ball, he turned around to Yao Yuan, adding, "Ol' Cap'n, I don't think I'm needed here, because even if this is a bomb, I have no idea how to defuse it."
"No… you're right, this isn't a bomb…"
Yao Yuan mumbled as he stared transfixedly at this metallic ball. But slowly, a wide smile broke on his face. In fact, when he first laid eyes on the strange sphere, he almost fainted from a rush of sudden euphoria. With a glint in his eyes, he started swaying uncontrollably, overwhelmed by an indescribable sense of joy. If he was forced to find a comparison, he would say it was like a blue-collar worker stumbling across a 50,000,000 US dollar jackpot. He was that happy!
He laid his hand on Guang Zhen's shoulder and leaned into him for support. Finally, when the light-headedness from joy had passed, Yao Yuan said, in an uncharacteristically giddy voice,
"This… this is a UFO. The one the US government found crashed in Tennessee, the source of power that was responsible for this ship's anti-gravitational systems and space-warping technology…
…The thing that started this crazy journey!"