Chapter 979 Certainties and Uncertainties
At a certain place in the borderlands of the Kunde Race, the remainder of a Kunde Race fleet was slowly cruising through space.
Not long ago, this fleet with the code name of ‘Sea Flag’ had gone through a rough fight. They were attacked by a dynasty admiral’s fleet, which forced their command ship and guard ships to break away with their lives and escape with their tails tucked between their legs.
Currently, there were only twenty or so guard ships around the command ship. The rest were either eliminated or scattered somewhere else.
The Sea Flag fleet belonged to the Third Cosmic Army of the Kunde Race. The commander of their fleet was the renowned general of the third army, Oliert, who was praised to be the ‘Star of Tomorrow’. When the Marshal of the third army reached his retirement age a few years ago, Oliert was seen as the top candidate to take on the position of the Marshal.
However, due to the fact that the data of a destroyed ship was received a few years ago, the upper echelons made the decision to prepare for war. This led to the retirement of all army officials to be delayed, so this matter was put aside for the time being.
At this time, the Sea Flag fleet was moving in stealth mode while waiting for the next order from command.
Inside the bridge of the command ship, the atmosphere was grave and silent. Everyone was immersed in the pain and agony of losing the battle and losing their comrades.
Oliert stood before the most front porthole in silence, only showing his back to everyone in the room. The color of the carapace on his body was a mixture of sorrowful green and raging red.
In the battle earlier, almost everything he did was expected by the enemy commander. He was partially responsible for the loss of that battle.
Everyone knew that the commander was the one facing the most pressure, so none dared bother him.
After hesitating for a very long time, the aide-de-camp finally found the courage to walk to Oliert and said quietly, “Sir, we…”
“Say no more.” Oliert turned around as his body gradually turned into the color of calming blue. He then said slowly, “This was not just my personal failure but a failure on the level of civilization background. I did not lose to the opponent but the enemies’ entire civilization.”
Oliert knew that his talent as a commander was no match for the dynasty’s admiral, but he felt that this was not just the issue of individual ability and that the main difference came from the civilization backgrounds.
During the battle, he made the most detailed and careful decisions he had ever made in his life. To him, his performance this time could even be placed in the curriculum of military schools as a crucial case study. However, to his absolute shock, the response of the enemy was unbelievably quick. His plans were seen through almost instantly.
Meeting such an opponent was a heavy blow to his confidence as a commander.
This did not mean that Oliert was incompetent. In fact, he was already considered top-notch by the Kunde Race’s standards. On the surface, this situation happened because the ability of the dynasty admiral was far superior to his, but the deeper reason lay within the difference in civilization backgrounds.
The rise of the three Universal Civilizations was accompanied by the wails of countless races. As they experienced the flames of war, all the battles were recorded in the curriculum of their military schools. Therefore, no matter what situation their commanders faced, they were able to come up with the respective solutions almost instantly.
Comparatively, the Kunde Race had experienced way too few galactic wars. All the strategies they were using had been abandoned by the explored universe long ago for being too behind. This was what the difference between backgrounds meant.
After the battle, Oliert was pessimistic. He saw completely no way of winning even parts of the battle, and the continuous crumble of the various fleets right now was the best proof for that.
He was not the only one that felt this one; all the soldiers fighting on the frontlines basically had the same pessimistic view of this war.
They were furious that their home was coveted by the enemies, but they did not think that the sacrifices in this war were necessary. However, as soldiers, they had to follow the orders.
Oliert sighed in his mind, put these pessimistic emotions away, looked at the aide-de-camp, and asked in a deep voice, “Has an order from command arrived?”
“Er… It has just arrived. They’ve told us to standby and retrieve the scattered fleet, then rendezvous with the main fleet of the third army to plan for the attack on the enemy stargate.”
Oliert slammed the table and said with rage, “Bullsh*t! Why aren’t we retreating now? Have command lost their minds‽”
We were just defeated and forced to scatter. How can we stay in this dangerous area to recover the rest of the ships? Do they think that the enemies won’t chase after us‽
Furthermore, the main fleet is already in shambles, yet we’re being asked to rendezvous and attack the enemies’ stargate. This is basically asking us to commit suicide!
Many of the officers in the room felt that this strategy was problematic, but they did not dare speak. They all stared at Oliert and waited for the decision of their commander.
Oliert took a few steps back, suppressed his rage, and said, “Contact the Marshal. I’m going to ask him personally about what’s going on with this decision!”
The aide-de-camp nodded and immediately made the arrangements. A communication interface popped up on the virtual screen. After a few seconds, the other side picked up the communication, and the third army Marshal appeared on the screen.
“Oliert, I heard you were attacked. Glad to see you’re still alive.”
“Luck was part of the reason.” Oliert tried his best to speak as calmly as possible. “I have received the order from the command department. Are we planning to attack the enemies’ stargate?”
“Yes, that’s the order.”
“Don’t you think that’s problematic? The battle has already deviated from our initial plan. We shouldn’t linger now. It will only cause more meaningless sacrifices.”
“I know. I think it’s time to retreat, too, and I’m talking to the upper echelons. For now, let’s follow the order.”
Oliert became silent for a moment before ending the call.
The aide-de-camp asked cautiously, “Sir, what should we do now?”
Oliert glanced at him and suddenly said, “How many battleships do we have left?”
“Gather all the captains into the communication channel.”
As this order was executed, Oliert stood in place with hands behind his back and waited for a while. The images of the remaining captains then appeared one after another on the screen.
This time, Oliert made a hand sign and said slowly, “Remember what I’m going to say next. I’m only going to say it once…”
He then went on to say a ton of standard encouraging words and repeated the order of the command department, during which, he kept making several hand signs. All the captains stared at him very closely.
“Alright, that’s all. Let’s do it.”
Finally, Oliert placed his hands down and completed his speech.
The images of the captains disappeared on the screen one after another.
This time, the aide-de-camp who was looking at the other command screen suddenly said with shock, “Sir, all the captains have turned off their artificial intelligence cores and blocked all outside information. We can’t contact them anymore!”
Oliert, however, expected this. He nodded calmly and said, “Very good, go turn off the artificial intelligence core of our spaceship.”
The others were shocked to suddenly understand what was going on. They were in disbelief.
This means that… we’re going to be deserters‽
“Th-this…” The aide-de-camp was stunned.
Oliert glared at him and said with a stern tone, “What are you waiting for‽”
The aide-de-camp hesitated for a moment before making the arrangements. Very soon, the artificial intelligence core of the command ship was turned off.
This way, the remnants of this Sea Flag fleet became a ghost fleet that had lost contact completely to the outside world.
Only now did Oliert heave a sigh of relief. He looked at the others who were still lost and explained, “Sorry, this is all to be as cautious as possible. If I’m not wrong, our quantum network has already been completely infiltrated by the enemies.”
With these words said, everyone was shocked.
Oliert glanced around and said slowly, “I know the Marshal very well. He’s a stubborn soldier who would never question orders from the superiors. Although this is a difficult time and everything could change, we can’t ignore any suspicious behavior. I suspect that what I just spoke with was not the Marshal at all.
“The enemies have very likely infiltrated our command system. All of you are experienced, so I don’t have to emphasize the consequences of that. Therefore, the war is already over. I can’t possibly follow their orders anymore. The only thing we can do now is save ourselves. The hand signs I made earlier were a special code that very few people know. I told the captains to cut off all external connections. From now on, we have only ourselves to rely on.”
Everyone was completely stunned by these words and could not process this much information shortly. Their minds went blank.
The aide-de-camp clenched his teeth and said, “Sir, what we’re doing is making us deserters!”
Oliert was not insulted or furious at all. He calmly glanced at him and said, “This is a war that we’re destined to lose. No matter what you think, I will not send my troops to the battlefield to die. Deserters? Now, we might be… the last survivors of the Kunde Race.’
“Then, where should we go?”
“As far away from here as possible.”
Oliert looked outside the porthole into the depths of the galaxy.
“I think that there might be a problem with the route we’re taking.”
Inside an extremely narrow room on a spaceship, a few members of the Kunde Race in ordinary clothes gathered around.
This was one of the spaceships of the migrant fleet; everyone on board was civilians. Most people on the ship felt uneasy and lost about the future. The atmosphere was depressing.
Due to the high population, many civilians had to squeeze in one room on all the spaceships. Those in this room happened to be blood-related brothers.
“Big brother, what did you discover?” a short brother asked.
The buff and muscular elder brother among these brothers said with a deep voice, “I have a friend who’s a crew member on the guiding ship. He told me a piece of inside information. According to the schedule, the fleet should have arrived on one planet for a short rest. However, we did not come across any planets yesterday, and the fleet has been moving nonstop.”
“Could it be that they’ve changed the plan? How about asking your friend again?”
“I’ve been unable to contact him,” the elder brother said. “I think there’s something wrong.”
“Bro, could you be too sensitive? If something happened, the people above would have notified us.”
“I have a very bad feeling about this. I can’t quite describe it.” The elder brother shook his head.
“Hey, what’s the point of thinking so much. It’s not like we can do anything about it. Let’s just follow the arrangements of the fleet,” one of the brothers said casually.
This time, the youngest brother suddenly said, “Big brother is right. There’s something wrong with the route the fleet is taking. We’re going right back in the direction we came from.”
Everyone looked at him.
“Don’t speak nonsense. How did you realize that?”
The youngest brother pointed at the porthole, and everyone looked over. On it was a simple drawing of circles, from small ones to larger ones. This time, a planet outside the porthole had perfectly aligned with the circle in the middle.
Seeing this, the expression on everyone’s face changed.
Having lived in one room, they kept no secrets from each other. Some time ago, a planet had appeared outside the porthole, so the youngest brother had drawn the outline of the planet on the porthole, and he had been doing the same thing every day. The size of the circle changed every day from smaller to larger, then to smaller again, which represented how far away they were.
At this time, this planet’s outline perfectly aligned with the drawing from a few days ago, and everyone knew what this meant.
“I’ll go ask about it!”
Seeing this, the elder brother could no longer sit still. The rest hastily followed behind him.
They quickly passed by the crowded cabin that looked like a refugee camp, came to the middle cabin, found a few soldiers, and explained the situation.
“There’s something wrong with the route?” A soldier picked his ears and said impatiently, “That’s not something for you to worry about. What are you being so concerned for?”
“It’s true. I can show you the evidence. I…”
“Alright, alright.” This soldier waved his hand. “The guide ship has the star map. If we really have deviated from the route, it will definitely be adjusted immediately. Just go back and wait.”
Speechless, the elder brother had no choice but to lead the rest of his brothers back to their room and wait.
However, three days passed, and they looked at the drawing on the porthole every day, only to realize that the fleet was still going back in the direction they had come from. The route was not adjusted at all.
The elder brother tried to contact his friend who had given him the inside information every day and only was able to do so on the third day. However, his friend’s reply made him even more disheartened.
“We’ve deviated from the route? No, no, no, our star map shows that the route we’re taking is completely accurate… We didn’t run into the supply planet I spoke of? Oh, that’s an error made in the long-range observation, so the star map was a little inaccurate. I have already reflected this to those above, and our star map has been updated, so there’s no problem now… What drawings? Hmm, you guys are probably mistaken. That’s a new planet, not the one we saw earlier. Anyhow, the navigator here shows we have been advancing all this time.”
After turning off the communicator with a grave expression, the elder brother stayed silent for quite some time.
Suddenly, as if he finally had the resolve to make a decision, he said, “Do you trust me or the people above?”
The brothers exchanged looks with hesitation.
The youngest brother could not help but ask, “What do you want to do?”
“My bad feeling has become stronger and stronger. There’s definitely something wrong with this. Maybe the people above are sending us into the pit of fire.” The elder brother lowered his voice. “I don’t want to stay on the spaceship anymore. I’m planning to steal supplies and a lifesaving cabin for us to escape.”
“Have you lost your mind‽” Appalled, one of the brothers said, “That’s suicide! The fleet will definitely capture us. Even if we succeed, the supplies we steal will run out sooner or later. What are we going to do when we have no food and no fuel? Also, do you have a star map? Without a star map, how are we going to escape?”
“I can obtain the star map and the authorization for the lifesaving cabin from my friend. As for supplies… the medium lifesaving cabin has a full set of facilities. As long as we arrive on that planet, we can use the devices to refill the fuel, which will last us many years. Food-wise, we will need greenhouse incubators, crop seeds, and nutrition fluid makers, which can all be obtained on this ship. When the crops are being produced, we can rest in the cryogenic chambers,” the elder brother said quietly. “I’ve been thinking about an alternate plan for the past three days. This was not a sudden decision.”
The others still shook their heads.
Leaving the main fleet of their people to survive in the unknown universe with just a few of them?
This plan was too crazy to think about it!
“I’m going with you.” This time, the youngest brother stepped forward and shrugged. “You know me. I don’t like to be restricted by rules. Since we’ve left our home, I’m not planning to continue living a peaceful lifestyle of following what everyone else does. I want to explore the vast universe myself. You can say I like adventures, or you can say I love to seek excitement. No matter what, count me in.”
The elder brother nodded, looked at his other brothers, and said, “I know you all have concerns. The universe is way too big. With just a few of us, we will be facing the deepest loneliness and fears. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong in the end, but I’m not willing to sit and wait passively. I won’t force everyone to go with me.”
The second oldest brother hesitated for a while before saying, “Bro, I’ll go with you, too. You’re the person I trust the most. I trust your judgment.”
Seeing two of them making up their minds, more people were shaken.
One of the brothers shook his head with resignation and said, “Sigh, alright, let’s do it. From the moment we left our home, I already considered myself to be dead. What’s the worst that can happen with being more adventurous? We’re brothers; we can’t separate from each other.
These brothers had grown up together and were used to sticking together. After some hesitation, in the end, all of them agreed to the eldest brother’s plan. The amazing thing was after they had made up their mind, the hesitation and unease disappeared, replaced by incomparable excitement and anticipation.
“Big bro, I have a suggestion. We should at least bring one woman, right?”
Everyone burst out laughing. The heavy atmosphere disappeared, and the room was filled with a joyous spirit.
“That’s right. Not just one, we should bring a few more.”
“Haha, we might become a stray civilization in the future.”
For the days to come, these brothers used their own network and connections to quietly prepare for their plan. As the migration spaceships had a large number of daily supplies, they were able to find what they needed easily. The only question was—how were they going to obtain those supplies?
With courage, money, connections, and a little bit of luck, they used several methods to obtain most of the supplies they needed.
Very soon, the day to execute the plan came. It went smoother than they could have ever imagined. According to the intelligence they collected, they secretly entered the ejection point of lifesaving cabins and stepped into a medium lifesaving cabin. They then turned off the artificial intelligence core and switched it to manual control mode.
The eldest brother’s hand stopped above the eject button but did not press it instantly.
“Have you guys made up your mind? As soon as I press this button, there’s no going back. If we’re captured, we’ll become prisoners.”
“We’re not much different from prisoners now. We’re more like manual labor to the people above. It’s just that we’re given a different name as population resources. I have been wanting to get rid of this identity for a long time,” the youngest brother said with a carefree smile.
“Nonsense.” The eldest brother shook his head and chuckled before pressing hard on the button.
The lifesaving cabin suddenly descended and was shot into the cosmic space.
As they left the spaceship, they subconsciously looked outside the porthole and were stunned.
What they saw was many lifesaving cabins also being shot out like fireworks from other spaceships of the migration fleet before leaving in different directions.
Half a month passed in the blink of an eye.
On the other side of the Kunde Race territory border, the core fleet that the Kunde Race command department was in came out from the stargate. They turned around and dismantled this stargate used for retreat.
“Alright, we have arrived at the target area. According to the coded order sent before, the surviving fleet will be gathering here.”
Inside the command department, the upper echelons of the Kunde Race gathered and browsed the message that they had received from the other fleets before they cut away their network connection.
“The Scorched Earth Team has sent their report. The psionic bombs in various places have been detonated successfully, and the plan is complete. The other fleets have also sent the report that they’re retreating toward the location we have designated. Hoo, the situation is still manageable.”
The Kunde Race leader heaved a sigh of relief.
Seeing this, everyone else was also feeling slightly better.
Things were finally going according to their plan.
As they were worried about their information being leaked, command did not dare maintain a long-term network connection. Therefore, they had given up live communication and did not even dare transmit orders the ordinary way, worrying that it would be intercepted by the enemies. The orders were all in special codes.
However, before they could catch their breath, the alarm suddenly rang!
“Attention, attention! Unknown large fleet discovered ahead!”
Everyone was stunned.
“How have we met a fleet here‽ Is there an ambush‽”
“See if it’s the enemies!”
The various upper echelons quickly executed the order. Within just a few seconds, the report came from the fleet captain.
“Everyone, we have already confirmed it. They’re not enemies but our own fleet.”
The upper echelons were immediately relieved. They almost had a heart attack.
“Phew, that scared me.”
“It should be teams who have received the order to rendezvous here arriving in advance, even quicker than us.”
At this time, the fleet captain spoke again with a weird tone.
“Guys, you have misunderstood me. They’re not our armed fleet but the migration fleet we sent away a long time ago. For some reason, they have all returned!”
The entire place became dead silent.
The upper echelons were stunned for a second before freaking out!