Li Yao’s journey log, year nine.
“This is the first time that Spark has detected the sign of a star inside the dark nebula. It is also the first time that I’ve been woken up from hibernation.
“In the state of sub-light speed, my perception of time is different from the outside world. Besides, in the hibernation state, my brain is absolutely silent. I wouldn’t even have any dreams, much less sense the passage of time.
“For me, the farewell with close friends such as Professor Mo Xuan, the Fire Ant King, Fiend Blade Peng Hai, Lei Dalu, and Bai Kaixin seems to have just taken place a few days ago. It was just yesterday that Ding Lingdang was walking with me hand in hand on the Grand Desolate Plateau, and I just left my hometown on Spark this morning at the center of public attention. I feel that I merely yawned just now.
“The specialists in the federation have installed a special clock on Spark, which can precisely calculate the influence of Spark’s speed on the time and infer the time elapsed in the ‘real world’.
“It was not until I checked the clock that I learned that nine years had actually passed during my ‘yawn’.
“However, in the vast and boundless universe, and especially inside the dark nebula that is filled with weird metal powder, it is quite lucky of me to have found the first star after ‘only’ nine years.
“Although the star is a typical ‘lone star’, which exists in the universe on its own without a galaxy system and therefore is of little use to us, its very existence proves that my speculation is right. I have truly jumped into the depths of the dark nebula, and all kinds of stars and celestial bodies must be within hundreds of lightyears from me, except that they are all blocked by the dark nebula.
“As long as I am close enough to them, I will be able to detect such celestial bodies!
“I have inputted the magnitude of the star, its trajectory, and other parameters into the mainframe crystal processor in order to cross-reference the Pangu civilization’s navigation map.
“Right now, only one star has been found, and it is still more or less difficult for precise localization. I believe that the navigation map will be greatly useful after more stars are found!”
Li Yao’s journey log, year fifteen.
“A second star has been detected so quickly. What a pleasant surprise!
“This is a standard hybrid star. While it is revolving around the largest celestial body at the center of the dark nebula, it boasts its own seven planets, which constitute a small solar system. The seven planets have satellites of their own, too. It is a world that is quite similar to the Heaven’s Origin Sector.
“I have explored the system over the past month. It is a shame that the quantity and brightness of the star are insufficient. All its planets are cold and desolate rocks or air masses. I didn’t find any trace of water on them, or the signs that suggest there are lives or there used to be lives.
“In the field of universal exploration, such worlds are often known as ‘wastelands’. It would be wrong to say that such places had absolutely zero spiritual energy or that the planets could not be modified into habitable planets. But the investment to collect resources and toe modify the planets is too huge. The cost far exceeds the yields. Therefore, they are not of any value for development and immigration.
“Even so, I’m quite happy about the discovery.
“In only fifteen years, I have found two stars in a row. After inputting their astronomical parameters and their relative positions into the crystal processor, and then referring to the Pangu civilization’s navigation map, I finally have a basic idea where specifically I am inside the dark nebula right now.
“It seems that I am not a man of misfortune now on this mission. Even the heavens are watching over the federation. Chances are that I will find the mysterious Sector in only twenty to thirty years!”
Li Yao’s journey log, year forty-one.
“This must be a jinx!
“I shouldn’t have blabbered when I was feeling too good about myself. Fortunes will become sour when you speak about them!
“I have indeed found a third star. Or rather, beyond my expectation, I even discovered a fourth one. It was a dual-star system, where two stars rotated around each other in a very stable companion structure.
“The problem is that I didn’t know it in advance.
“The other star in the dual-star system was hidden deep inside the dark nebula, and the mainframe crystal processor of Spark failed to detect it in time. I was under the illusion that it was yet another lone star.
“Because it was in a very stable state, I planned to cut into its orbit and utilize its gravity field as a ‘stellar slingshot’ so that Spark would be accelerated again without consuming any fuel. The time cost of the exploration would be greatly reduced.
“But I didn’t know that the gravity field of the dual-star system was so complicated that it was almost a fatal area of turbulence. Hardly had Spark got involved when it was hit brutally by a ‘gravity tide’. It almost directly fell into the center of the star, in which case, I would’ve been burnt up without a single hair left.
“Although I narrowly escaped, Spark was seriously damaged. Not only were all the supply components used up, I was even forced to dismantle some of the components from the star beacons in order to sustain the sub-light speed.
“It’s getting tricky now.”
Li Yao’s journey log, year seventy-seven.
“Another thirty-six years have passed in the real world after the terrible accident in the dual-star system.
“Over the past thirty-six years, Spark has spent half of the time performing short-distance space jumps, running here and there inside the dark nebula like a headless fly, and the other half of the time flying at sub-light speed, dispersing the ‘fog’ on the navigation map.
“I have discovered another five stars, four of which boast their own galaxies, but none of them have signs of life or value to be developed.
“But it is nothing unusual in the universe. Life is itself the greatest miracle in the universe. It is often not easy to find.
“This is the first time I have ever found a red giant, a moribund star.
“When the core of a star is burnt up and the last brilliance of its life spreads to the periphery, the star will greatly expand, and the brightness will soar.
“In terms of visual impact, the red giant that occupies almost the entire universe is definitely the most splendid, extraordinary view that I’ve ever seen.
“In front of the red giant, the tiny Spark is not even a grain of sand faced with an ocean; it is essentially a germ placed next to the ocean.
“Looking at the red giant, I was suddenly caught by loneliness.
“Since the exploration mission began, the time cost when I’ve been conscious to examine the few galaxies and perform Spark’s maintenance is about a year and a half. It is not too much suffering.
“But in reality, seventy-seven years have passed!
“Seventy-seven years is enough for a newborn baby to grow into the pillar of their family. Seventy-seven years is also enough to turn a dominating expert into a tombstone, a handful of soil, and a cry of wind.
“Ding Lingdang made a deal with me that she would join the second batch of missions in the ‘Heavenly Road Plan’ to explore the Sectors relatively closer to the three Sectors after I left.
“Did she arrive in the new Sectors safe and sound? What kind of intriguing, soul-stirring adventures did she go through there?
“Could she persuade the civilizations in the new Sectors to join the federation?
“What’s she doing right now? Is she as energetic and radiant as before?
“What about my three disciples—Jin Xinyue, Wu Mayan, and Xie Anan? How have been they doing?
“Has Jin Xinyue distinguished herself in the world of politicians in the federation? Has Wu Mayan achieved his dream and broken into the 1000th level of the Refinement Stage? Is Xie Anan still a crying little girl just like before? Has she made some accomplishments in the circle of refiners?
“What is the Star Glory Federation right now exactly?
“Before I left, rumor already had it that the Heaven’s Origin Sector, the Blood Demon Sector, and the Flying Star Sector would be completely integrated for the establishment of the New Federation and that the independent calendars would be forfeited and replaced by a ‘federal calendar’. However, the conditions in many aspects were not mature yet. Everything was just a plan yet.
“But seventy-seven years have passed. The brand-new Star Glory Federation should be rising at the edge of the cosmos, shouldn’t it? With the integration of the three Sectors and the development of Kunlun, the Cultivation level of the New Federation must’ve soared. The experts must’ve been popping up like mushrooms after a rain. Haha. Maybe, when I return to the federation, I’ll be like a bumpkin visiting a city for the first time, not knowing what’s around me at all!
“There was a brief time when I thought that it would have been best if the capacity of ‘Spark’ had been improved to two passengers when it was designed. If Ding Lingdang was together with me, it wouldn’t have mattered at all even if the journey took five hundred or a thousand years.
“However, on second thought, the current design seems better.
“On one hand, such a journey in the universe has proved to be too perilous. I’m unwilling to let Ding Lingdang take the risk together with me.
“On the other hand, when I know that somebody in my hometown is waiting for me to return, the difficult, dangerous, and unpredictable situation here doesn’t seem to be a big deal anymore!
“As time goes by, I seem to be finally having my day. There’s more and more good news.
“Firstly, after measuring the astronomical parameters and relative positions of almost ten stars, I am finally able to relate them to the stars marked on the Pangu civilization’s navigation map, thereby ascertaining my coordinates inside the dark nebula.
“Secondly, I feel that, over the past decades, the dark nebula has been getting thinner and thinner itself. The visibility is higher and higher, and it is easier to send out information right now.
“The red giant is an excellent reference. I can choose to unfold the star beacons in its orbit, absorb the spiritual energy it emits, and send the coordinates of the place back to the hometown.
“However, the red giant is not our real target. It will not be of much significance even if the main troops of the federation jump to the place.
“Besides, I’m not aware of the situation in the mysterious world yet. It will be a terrible disaster if they have certain signal-capturing technologies that allow them to trace back to the specific location of the federation!
“For safety reasons, it will be better to find the mysterious world and figure out their civilization level and their stance before I send the information back to the hometown.
“I vaguely feel that I’m very close to the mysterious world now!”