Li Yao’s hands turned into glamourous rainbows on the light beam. He said, deep in thought, “So to speak, your father enjoys quite the prestige on Firefly? Let me ask you, not considering what happened today, what is the comparison between your father’s power and Speaker Cui Lingfeng’s?”
Tang Xiaoxing thought for a moment and said carefully, “It is true that my father’s prestige is quite high. After all, all the technical problems that occurred during the long journey in space needed to be handled by the technical personnel and the ground-level sailors. It is impossible for the officials in parliament to block a leakage in the shell of the starship or to repair the overloading power units with only their tongue.
“Therefore, on Firefly, my father’s supporters definitely greatly outnumber Speaker Cui Lingfeng’s supporters. In fact, most of the people dislike our parliament, which has grown overstaffed. It is also why my father dared propose a referendum to join the federation.
“However, despite my father’s high prestige, he has never raised an armed force that is absolutely loyal to him. The general public only support him because he is the captain of Firefly. What I’m most worried about right now is that Cui Lingfeng and his conspirators might’ve intentionally set my father up. Even I was arrested for ‘high treason’. My father’s crime must be more severe!”
“Got it,” Li Yao said. “Your father’s prestige on Firefly is very high. It is impossible for your Speaker Cui Lingfeng to directly execute your father in secret. In order to completely destroy your father and his supporters, they can only invent nonexistent crimes to tarnish your father’s reputation and to convince everyone that the captain is guilty!
“That is the only way the Speaker and his supporters can regain control over Firefly, right?”
Tang Xiaoxing bit her lips softly and nodded. “Yes.”
“Then, can you speculate what kind of crimes the enemy will accuse your father of? After all, as the captain of the starship, he must be a person on board who is almost equal to the Speaker. It is practically impossible to knock him down with petty crimes, which will often raise the fury of the general public and their disgust for the parliament. In the end, their endeavor will only achieve the opposite of what they want.
“Therefore, the crimes that your father is accused of must be extremely severe. Also, the enemy must’ve fabricated undeniable proof. What will it be? Treason? Contacting the Star Glory Federation in secret and planning to join the federation. Can it be counted as treason?”
Tang Xiaoxing shook her head hard. “Of course, it is not treason to contact the federation. The Star Glory Federation and us are both civilizations of the Cultivators, which share a common ideology and similar systems. Also, after a thousand years of tedious journeying, everybody understands the situation of Firefly very clearly. Except for parliament, which is still clinging onto the Star Ocean Republic, the people in the lower classes have long had enough of the harsh environment on the starship and lost all hope!
“We’ve escaped to the edge of the Star Ocean Imperium’s old borders. If we flee any further, we will enter the unseen world and the dark universe that no human beings have ever explored before. We will truly become a rootless, nomadic civilization!
“Enough! A thousand years of running is enough! Nobody wants to keep on running. Now that marching back to our original home has become a tantalizing dream, we want to find a new home at the edge of the cosmos!
“Therefore, many people on Firefly, especially the ground-level sailors and their family whose living environment is quite harsh, actually do not object to, and are sometimes even quite eager to, join the federation!
“We’ve been told that Iron Plateau, Forest Ocean of the Star Glory Federation, and Boneyard between the Heaven’s Origin Sector and the Blood Demon Sector are all stable planets that are scarcely populated. Everything there needs building from scratch. We have only slightly more than a hundred million people. It is absolutely viable to reconstruct our home and build the New Federation together!
“It is the cry of the people, and my father is only a representative of the public opinion. The issue of joining the federation has been debated and pushed forward openly since the very beginning. Even the Election Observation Delegation has been sent out under the authorization of the parliament. Everything is legal. How can that be counted as treason?”
Li Yao pondered thoughtfully. “Therefore, the enemy must’ve grasped certain evidence that is of paramount importance and can crucify your father instantly without public backlash. That is the ground for the thunderous, secret arrest today… My next question is, what about you? What is so special and important about you?”
Tang Xiaoxing was slightly dazed. “Me?”
Li Yao finally moved his eyes away from the light beam and glanced at her. “Although you are the daughter of Firefly’s captain, based on your description just now, I don’t think that your identity alone is enough for the enemy to attach such importance to you that they sent an elite squad of secret police to arrest you. After all, you are just a refiner. By common sense, the odds that you can run away are very low.
“A huge team has worked on the problem that should’ve been taken care of by a few people. Therefore, I believe that you are much more valuable and complicated than ‘the captain’s daughter’, right?”
Tang Xiaoxing was still hesitating.
Li Yao continued to watch the light beam as he casually asked, “I’m asking this not because I’m interested in your secrets but because I’m evaluating your value in the enemy’s eyes, including whether or not the enemy are determined to keep you alive, in which case they will watch their fire during the engagement later. This is of paramount importance for our operation. I stand by what I said. If you don’t trust me, you are welcome to leave anytime. For example, the entrance of the alley up ahead. What do you think?”
Tang Xiaoxing stared at Li Yao for a long time before she gritted her teeth and said, “Senior Lin, your eyes are as keen as a torch. You’re quite right. My father is a tough man who will not betray the interests of his compatriots just to save his daughter’s life. I’m afraid that they are not capturing me to threaten my father but for the part of ‘jump token’ that is under my control.”
“Jump token?” Li Yao blinked. “What is that?”
“It is the activation code of the space jump matrix on Firefly,” Tang Xiaoxing explained. “Firefly boasts the most advanced space jump system in the entire universe. The greatest feature of the system is that the gap between two starships that are to perform a space jump simultaneously has been reduced to the minimum. Sometimes, two starships can perform a space jump at the same time when they are only several hundred meters away from each other without causing interference to each other. Do you understand what I’m saying, Senior Lin?”
Li Yao nodded.
The so-called space jump was the process in which one ‘jumped’ to the four-dimensional universe from the three-dimensional universe before they were ‘reduced’ to the three-dimensional universe from the four-dimensional universe again.
During the process, the object to jump or be teleported would certainly raise space-time ripples both at the jump point and at the landing point.
Such space waves would doubtlessly cast powerful interference toward the objects around.
If two starships performed a space jump at the same time very close to each other, say, within one kilometer—which, on the cosmic level, was a negligible distance—and they were jumping toward the same destination, it was very possible that they would collide or even meld into a combination of two starships, leading to dire consequences!
Therefore, in the boundless universe, few space zones were suitable for the construction of the ‘space gate’ in order to facilitate large-scale space jumps. Also, even if suitable space zones had been found, warships to be teleported were often kept a hundred kilometers away from each other and would only perform a space jump after they made sure that there was no mutual interference.
The larger a warship and the longer the distance to be covered, the more destructive the ripples raised when breaking the void would be and the larger the margin that had to be left between the objects to be teleported.
In many cases, in order to mobilize a space fleet of an enormous scale to wage an expedition upon a different Sector billions of lightyears away, it would be impossible to teleport all the large, main-force warships over at once. By doing this, the fleet would only end up as an overlapped iron block that was exploding nonstop at the destination.
Therefore, it usually took a couple of days, sometimes even half a month, for an entire fleet to be deployed for a space jump.
The moment that the expedition army was teleported was also the moment when it was most fragile. The starships that had already jumped to the destination were usually dispersed, without any organization or battle formation, and the following starships were still lingering at the start point billions of lightyears away, unable to be instantly teleported to the destination. Even if they were teleported over, the crew members who were haunted by the sequelae of the space jump and the starships bound by the space-time ripples would not be able to bring out one tenth of their combat ability.
They were as vulnerable as an army in the ancient times that was crossing a rapid river. It would certainly not be a joke if such an army was attacked right when they were halfway across.
However, Tang Xiaoxing was stating that the space jump matrix on Firefly could reduce the safe gap between starships in a space jump to only a few hundred meters?
In such a case, Firefly’s demand on the stability of the space zone at the destination of the jump would be greatly lowered. The agility, conspicuousness, and mobility of Firefly would be greatly improved, too. Should there be anything wrong, the hundreds of starships that were connected together could escape instantly!
Such a technology was invaluable in a universal war!
Li Yao blinked quickly. “Do the Imperium and the Covenant Alliance not boast the same technology?”
“I don’t think they do,” Tang Xiaoxing replied. “Firefly was an experimental starship before, still under construction. It is said that a lot of the magical equipment of the Star Ocean Imperium and even the technologies retrieved from the relics of the primeval era were installed, many of which were unique. After we seized the experimental starship, it was with the help of the marvelous space jump matrix that we managed to hide here and there despite the pursuit of the army of the Imperium of True Human Beings. If they had the same space jump technologies, I’m afraid that we would’ve been caught a long time ago!
“However, after a thousand years of running, our space jump matrix cannot shoulder the burden anymore and requires full maintenance. I happen to be one of the refiners who are responsible for maintaining the space jump matrix.”