Eighty lightyears away from the Uranian Ring Sector, the world at the outermost edge of the Star Glory Federation, deep inside an unknown space zone, there was a brown dwarf.
The universe was a boundless place with countless stars. If someone drew a sphere with a radius of a hundred lightyears centered at the seven Sectors of the Star Glory Federation, more than five thousand galaxies would be included in the seven spheres. But most of them were desolate worlds devoid of spiritual energy or life.
Although the Star Glory Federation had been launching unmanned mini exploration starships and highly-sensitive space torpedoes to the desolate worlds every day, every month, and every year for the past century, trying to establish a solid defense line or at least a border within two hundred lightyears from itself, there was still a very long way to go before it filled up all five thousand desolate worlds.
A lot of dark space zones that were yet to be detected or monitored by the federation still existed around the five thousand stars. The so-called border was purely an unsubstantial concept and a psychological comfort.
Stars, in the meantime, were at least celestial bodies that were large enough for the Star Priers House, the largest space surveillance state of the federation on Spider Den, to monitor and keep track of.
But the brown dwarf was one level lower than the star.
The brown dwarf was a type of gaseous celestial body that had elements similar to a star but did not have enough mass to ignite a fusion reaction at the core. Its mass ranged between the smallest star and the largest planet. Therefore, it was quite dim and was often known as a failed star.
Because their mass was not large enough for them to become burning stars, it was difficult for them to release spiritual waves that could be sensed by the Star Priers House or any other space surveillance station in the federation.
By the analysis of the astrologists of the federation, it was likely that more than three thousand brown dwarfs existed within a hundred lightyears from the few Sectors of the federation. But the federation had only discovered and named fewer than five hundred of them.
There were still two thousand and five hundred brown dwarfs that were swirling and drifting in the cold, dark, unknown space zones like invisible eyeballs.
Although those brown dwarfs could barely be detected and explored by the federation a hundred lightyears away, some of them were still able to emanate quite a high temperature when the distance was close enough.
The temperature could be transformed into feeble energy that would supply a fleet that had just arrived after an exhausting journey to take a brief rest without being violent enough to affect the magical equipment units in the fleet that were highly worn out from the journey of a hundred years. Also, it could slightly cover up the spiritual waves that the fleet released itself when it was resting, repairing, and establishing a large-scale array of star beacons.
Even if the space surveillance stations of the federation detected anything, the fleet would only be mistaken for part of the brown dwarf.
The Black Wind Fleet had stayed in the orbit of the brown dwarf for seven years.
A space expedition could never be accomplished overnight. A hundred years ago when the Black Wind Fleet set off, the greatest enemy it faced was the unknown universe and time itself.
At that time, what they had was merely a small part of incomplete coordinates of the Flying Star Sector. If they had jumped based on the incomplete coordinates, there was a 99.99% probability that they would have ended up in an unvisited desolate world that was not marked on the star map and did not carry any distinctive astronomical features. It would be no different from being mired in a cosmic storm. Jumping out would be highly difficult without a major consumption of resources. Even if they did jump out again, it was still possible that they would find themselves in a second wretched, bleak world.
As it happened, the Imperium of True Human Beings expansion had never extended in the direction where the Flying Star Sector was in the past thousand years.
Therefore, the Black Wind Fleet, unwilling to be swallowed by other worlds after suffering the crushing defeat and losing their home, accepted the glorious but arduous task of expanding the territory and consolidating the rear for the Imperium, with whatever soldiers it had left.
Their mission was not just to explore and conquer the Flying Star Sector but also to search all the unknown space zones between the homeland at the center of the cosmos and the Flying Star Sector, especially the Sectors recorded in the historical archives and the ancient star maps, for prey that the Imperium might take advantage of.
Therefore, the Black Wind Fleet was not in a hurry to jump to the Flying Star Sector through one super long-distance space jump with the coordinates that the star child had sent out.
Considering the complexity of the space jump and the possible cost of spiritual energyif the distance of a space jump was doubled, the spiritual energy and resources to be consumed would be squaredit was also absolutely not an option for the Black Wind Fleet to perform a super long-distance jump recklessly when it clearly would not get any supplies or reinforcements from the base.
What they chose was a tactic known as stellar frog jump. The distance of their every space jump was no more than a hundred light years and usually between ten to fifty. After every jump, they would search for a suitable star and search for habitable planets and civilizations of mankind near the star while they projected special star bombs toward the particular star.
With the technology of the Imperium of True Human Beings, it was barely possible to destroy a star, but the purpose of the star bombs was not destruction but to activate special zones on the star to provide spiritual energy for their next jump.
After they were done exploring the stars surroundings, all the parameters and coordinates were recorded in the star map, and large-scale star beacons were established on the stable planets in the local galaxy. This meant that other fleets would be able to travel between such space zones and the homeland of the Imperium conveniently. Therefore, it was a sign that the space zones had been included in the territory of the Imperium.
Usually, they had also gathered enough energy during the process by then. So, they would perform the next stellar frog jump and repeat what they did last time.
Therefore, during the past hundred years, they had halted every now and then to explore, record, and construct. It was not until ten years ago that they finally reached the edge of the cosmos.
The Black Wind Fleet had been quite unlucky in the past century.
They did not find too many habitable planets that were of enough value to be developed.
Even the worlds of human beings that had once boasted prosperous civilizations according to the historical files and ancient maps left by the Star Ocean Imperium often turned out to be collapsed and drained after the Black Wind Fleet found them through grueling efforts at the cost of tremendous resources. The so-called civilizations had nothing but dilapidated buildings left in them. Even if some uncivilized barbarians were still drawing their last breath in the desolate worlds where spiritual energy had run dry, they could not make up for the resources that the Black Wind Fleet had consumed in search for them at all.
Resources were the most valuable things in the sea of stars, while civilizations were the most fragile things in the cold, cruel universe!
After being greatly disappointed several times in a row, the Black Wind Fleet had found themselves in a terribly awkward situation.
Yes. At first glance, they had expanded the territory of the Imperium, but most of the new territory was worthless, desolate worlds of the lowest rating.
In the sea of stars, the most useless thing was territory. When one raised their head and looked at the starry sky, there seemed to be boundless territory that, theoretically speaking, boasted tremendous resources and was therefore of a higher value. For the worlds that had never been inhabited by intelligent creatures since they came into being, as long as someone raised a flag, sang a national anthem, and built a star beacon nearby, they would be able to announce that the planet was part of the Imperiums territory.
But such territory was utterly meaningless. However valuable it was theoretically, it would only be so if the Imperium was capable of developing it on a large scale at an acceptable cost!
If a world claimed to boast ten thousand points of resources, but it would consume twenty thousand points of resources to collect, purify, and transport the resources after the Imperium decided to develop it, would such a world be of any use at all?
It was not counting the construction and maintenance of the star beacons, and the management cost and the cost of the defense of the supply lies that the Imperium would need to pay in order to govern this world. The swift and unpredictable fleets of the Covenant Alliance were definitely not easy to deal with!
Unfortunately, the Black Wind Fleet had not even found a lot of such worlds in the past hundred years.
The space zones that they had discovered, according to themselves, theoretically boasted ten thousand points of resources if a deep prospection was conducted, but the cost of the prospection would be five thousand points of resources, and the cost of the follow-up development would probably be another ten thousand to a hundred thousand points of resources.
Such worlds could barely earn any contribution points for the Black Wind Fleet.
Without contribution points, and having lost their own home, it meant that the Black Wind Fleet could not receive more supplies and brand-new warships from the other Sectors in the Imperium. It also meant that their only outcomes if they returned in frustration just like that would be either getting devoured by somebody else or being sent to the most dangerous frontline to fight the Covenant Alliance until they were all killed.
Naturally, the Black Wind people were unwilling to pick either option.
They went deeper into space and took their chances!
Right then, they received the message that a claw fleet had been wiped out. They also learned that a regional superpower existed at the edge of the cosmos. They even located the government-in-exile of the Star Ocean Republic, the last mobile territory, which had been lost for a thousand years.
The misfortune that had haunted the fleet for a hundred years finally dispersed. But still, there were as many opportunities as challenges.
The good news was that the prey was heavy enough. As long as they swallowed the beast named the Star Glory Federation, the Black Wind Fleets capabilities would be tripled at least. Even if they returned to the center of the cosmos immediately, it would be powerful enough to negotiate with the emperor, the local warlords, and everybody else.
The bad news was that the prey seemed a bit too heavy. What lay inside the behemothic body of the prey was not just fat but also strong muscles, tough bones, and sharp claws.
The Black Wind Fleet, caught in a dilemma, was faced with two options right now.
They could unfold a large array of star beacons and establish a splendid space gate right there to report the intelligence to the greedy emperor and warlords in the homeland of the Imperium dutifully and summon reinforcements from there.
Of course, establishing a space gate, activating it, and maintaining it at a high efficiency would further consume the war resources that the Black Wind Fleet had left and weaken their combat ability, putting them in a passive position in the game to cut the prey later.
The Black Wind Fleet could do it by themselves! They could swallow the federation on their own and devour all the benefits!