Despite that, Mouse Bai’s talent when it came to starships was definitely real.
After three months’ preliminary training in Burning Prairie Military School in Heavenly Saints City, the ugly young man distinguished himself and proved himself qualified to train on board.
Ji Wende intentionally arranged for him to work in the engine compartment where the environment was the harshest, not because he was angry that he had been fooled, but because he wanted to polish the rarely-seen genius.
The engine compartment was the hottest, dirtiest, noisiest place in a crystal warship, with all kinds of radiation. The regular descendants of the noble families were often reluctant to go to such a place.
But Mouse Bai, who had been born on the street, was like fish in the water. He was soon approved by everybody in the engine compartment.
Ji Wende clearly knew how difficult it was.
For a super warship dozens of kilometers long to rush in the middle of the cosmic storms or to resist the enormous gravity of the Heaven’s Origin Planet, it had to be as agile as a snake to avoid the turbulence, thunder, and lightning. Therefore, the engine compartment of the warship itself was almost a piece of planetary-level magical equipment!
Inside the engine compartment, which was as spacious as a palace, eighteen groups of super impetus units had been established. There were also eight anti-gravity units that were installed to adapt to the gravity of the planet. Every unit weighed tens of thousands of tons and was made of millions of components. They could absorb a hundred tons at once and transform the energy into powerful thrust through thousands of rune arrays!
It was not hard to imagine how difficult it was to maintain the normal functioning of the entire system.
The captain on the bridge could move his finger and tap the runes on the light beam such as ‘activate’, ‘improve the power’, ‘activate the protective cover’, or ‘prepare for a space jump’ to give out orders.
But getting to the bottom of it, to make the orders of the commander to move to every capillary vessel of the colossal iron beast and keep it running at the highest efficiency required the arduous work of everybody in the engine compartment.
In the Flying Star Sector, the skilled workers in the engine compartment were also known as sea wolves.
They were like wolves rushing in the sea of stars who boasted the keenest noses, the best knowledge, and the most resolute will.
The experienced captains all knew that it was much easier to find an expert in fighting who could blow up a meteoroid than to find an old sea wolf who could exploit all the potentials in the engine units of a crystal warship while whispering a tune half-drunk!
If possible, none of the captains would hesitate to trade ten experts of fighting for such an old sea wolf!
In precarious moments, such as when the warship was trapped in the center of a cosmic storm and scourged by billions of meteoroids, not just ten, even a hundred fighting experts would still be useless.
But an old sea wolf who could keep the engine units under control was likely to save the lives of everyone on board!
Burning Prairie was the best warship of the Flying Star Sector. Naturally, the most renowned sea wolves of the Flying Star Sector had been gathered in the engine compartment.
Those old men had spent almost their entire lives in the engine compartment. They could distinguish the slightest deformation of a tiny component in the depths of a certain engine unit from the faintest of noises. They could also make a crystal warship that was riddled with holes and running out of fuel perform another short-distance space jump in the middle of a cosmic storm.
For those who did not know them, they were all unattractive, cr*ppy grandpas, but for people of the trade, their names were all as resounding as thunder and legendary monsters.
However, even those monsters were amazed by the young monster Mouse Bai. Several old monsters of different fields were even asking Mouse Bai to be their true disciple at the same time.
“I’ve travelled in the sea of stars for two hundred year, but I’ve never seen a guy so talented in starship maintenance before!”
“The boy is definitely born for the crystal warships!”
“Damn it. He is like a black hole that is absorbing all my best skills!”
Today, Mouse Bai had created an astonishing miracle. After joining the Burning Prairie Fleet for only one year, he was already able to take charge of all the work of a certain post in the engine compartment independently!
It was still because he was just a ‘boy scout’. According to the old monsters in the engine compartment, the little monster was totally capable of organizing the work of ten posts or mastering an engine unit on his own.
Therefore, when the boy grinned and called himself ‘Uncle Ji’, Ji Wende, as the deputy chief tutor, hesitated but still accepted the form of address. The boy was too talented to be missed out after all!
The boy was as much a talent in the crystal warships as a jackass in other regards, to the point that Ji Wende had gnashed his teeth and more than once was of a mind to grab his neck, kick him in the ass, and blow him out of Burning Prairie.
“Mister… Bai Xingjian!”
Ji Wende took a deep breath and managed to suppress his anger. He tried to reason with the young man. “Look at you. You brought the gambling game Ten Square Victory to Burning Prairie at first.
“Then, you instigated internal strife between the boy scouts from the Horizontal Wind Space Zone and those from the Scooping Eagle Space Zone. Both sides thought that they’d found the wisest advisor who made up a flawless plan for them. It was not until they bled hard after fighting that they discovered that their advisor was the same person, which was you!
“Next, you pretended to be a seasoned officer who was in his seventies and swaggered around in the magical equipment warehouse, causing quite a fuss! Don’t deny it! Although the truth hasn’t been found yet, and perhaps never will be, I know that it was you! It could’ve been no one but you!
“Today, you trapped more than a hundred boy scouts, who are all grounded because of you.
“Tell me about it. What’s on your mind exactly? Do you not know that people will hate you for what you did?
“Mister Bai Xingjian, you are truly gifted in the crystal warships. Why do you keep doing things like that and wasting your talents?”
The solemnness in the words put Mouse Bai on the sickbed into a dazed. Unseen brilliance popped up from the depths of his eyes that had always been covered by smile. He lay down again and rested his head on his hands before he said casually, “Because… I was too bored.”
Ji Wende had never expected such an answer. Not knowing how he should respond, he said in amusement, “You are now working as the acolyte for seven masters in the engine compartment. Your training subjects are ten times more than general boy scouts. If someone else is in your place, they will be so busy running here and there all day that their heels will hit the back of their head. And you said you were bored? What, you will feel bored until you become the captain of Burning Prairie? Is that what you want?”
Mouse Bai yawned and said slowly, “The captain of Burning Prairie will still be boring.”
“What!” Ji Wende could not help but burst into fury. “Young man, after the insignificant accomplishments you’ve achieved, you think that you are truly something now? Do tell me about it. How can you be not bored? Mouse Bai, what do you want to do exactly?”
“I don’t know. I’ve been considering it, too.” Mouse Bai scratched his nose and smiled. “Perhaps one day, our technology will be advanced enough to produce super warships the size of a planet…”
“Then what?” Ji Wende sneered. “You will work as the captain?”
“Not exactly.” Mouse Bai shook his head. “If there is fleet made of a dozen of such planetary warships, and I am appointed as the commander of the fleet… it will be interesting, although not entirely satisfactory.”
“…” Ji Wende.
Right then, sharp alarms echoed inside Burning Prairie. Ominous red lights were blinking even in the medical cabin.
“The warship is now on level-one alert! All personnel on holiday and off duty, return to your post immediately! Activate the defense rune array of the highest level in the living area. Deliver the single magical equipment and the life-saving magical equipment to everybody!”
Ji Wende and Mouse Bai both changed their face color greatly.
“I’m heading back to the bridge right now. You, stop pretending to be sick, and go back to the engine compartment immediately. Something must’ve happened. We may have run into a beast tide!”
Ji Wende put the military hat on his head and spoke in a hurry.
Mouse Bai, however, narrowed his eyes and extended his nose, sniffing stealthily. As if he had caught a portentous smell, he tilted his head and asked, “Uncle Ji, can we still not reach out to the rear?”
Ji Wende was dazed for a moment. Then he nodded and said, “The surface of a planet is different from the vacuum in the space. There are all kinds of interference. It is especially so in the Dark Desolate Domain when a super thunderstorm is happening. It is perfectly normal that we cannot communicate with the rear due to the chaotic spiritual energy.”
Mouse Bai nodded and asked again, “Uncle Ji, when we were in the capital city a few days ago, it was said that the Speaker of the Star Glory Federation was assassinated. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed, too. The public fury was raised, and the drill was begun in advance. What was that all about?”
“How would I know?” Ji Wende glared. “It is not something that you should be concerned about, either. Mind your own business!”
Mouse Bai scratched his nose habitually. His eyes were thinner and thinner as he said carefully, “Uncle Ji, I think we should leave the Dark Desolate Domain and fly out of the atmosphere as quickly as possible!
“As long as we are out of the atmosphere and enter the orbit of the Heaven’s Origin Planet, we will be no longer affected by the weather and can reach out to the rear, right?”
“You must be kidding me!” Ji Wende sneered. “One of the biggest purposes of the drill is to improve the combat ability of Burning Prairie in the harsh climate and environment. Yes, we can retreat now, but what can you do when you have a fierce battle with the fleet of the Imperium of True Human Beings on the surface of an important planet? Can you still retreat?
“What’s more, more than ten friendly legions are around us right now, and we have the best warship of the three Sectors. A little wind and rain have already scared you? There’s no reason to flinch even if we run into a large-scale beast tide! Let’s just show the demons the awesomeness of the Flying Star Sector!
“Cut the cr*p and go back to your post now! This is an order! Let me tell you, boy. I can turn a blind eye to other things, but I will see that you are punished in person if you hide during a battle!”
Ji Wende sniffed heavily and left.
“Friendly legions?” Watching him striding away, Mouse Bai wiped the saliva off his face and muttered with a bitter smile, “It is not the demons that I fear but the allies!”