In outer space, emptiness was expected. However, here in the asteroid region, it was very odd. This empty space was like a boundary that divided the asteroids.
Why would such two very different regions exist in such close proximity? On his side were rocks in abundance, devoid of any signs of life. However, 300 meters further out, it was a haven for life. There were plants and even highly evolved animals.
Ye Chong might not be an expert in evolution, but he could at least understand the basics. In a harsh environment like the asteroid belt, it was plausible to find microorganisms, lichen or even small insects living there. However, large animals like the ones he saw now was pushing the limits of nature’s laws.
There was only one possible solution to this dilemma. This 300-meter space of emptiness had divided these two entirely different worlds.
What was the mystery behind this empty space?
As Ye Chong studied the herbivores’ movements closely, he suddenly felt like he had a grasp of an idea. But what was it? Ye Chong could not exactly say what he felt. That vague sensation was gone in an instant.
Ye Chong did not panic. He continued studying the herbivores’ movements, knowing that he must have noticed something significant to have had that feeling.
He calmed himself down and observed quietly for 10 minutes. After a full 10 minutes, Ye Chong finally understood what he was seeing.
Ye Chong’s fingers danced on the controls. Han Jia picked up one of the little rocks floating around nearby and threw it gently towards the other side. Since he was hidden behind a rock, Han Jia threw at an angle upward.
The little rock flew at a constant speed, but when it reached that empty space, its trajectory suddenly shifted. It no longer flew upwards, but began to fall downwards, completing a parabolic trajectory.
"As expected," Ye Chong grew confident of his own suspicions.
Gravity - that was Ye Chong noticed. Beginning from the empty space, there was gravity! No wonder the herbivores’ movements bothered him. It was gravity.
Where he was, Ye Chong did not feel even the slightest of any gravitational pull.
This was astonishing. Everything was too astonishing. Ye Chong had never seen anything like it.
However, the universe was large. Anything was possible! He quickly accepted this reality. Mankind’s understanding of the universe was so dismal.
It was not for him to figure out the reason for this miracle. Survival should be his priority. No matter the time, survival was the first thing that came to his mind. Besides, given the circumstances, he had no time to think on these matters.
Since there was gravity, why did these rocks not fall into it? Where did this gravity come from?
There were too many questions! However, what did they had to do with him? What he wanted, was to survive. Now, even the search for Mu and Shang was second in his list of priorities. If he could not survive, how could he find Mu and Shang?
As for whether Mu and Shang were still living, Ye Chong dared not even consider the possibilities.
In any case, he must survive! Ye Chong steadied himself, and immediately felt more encouraged.
After some pondering, Ye Chong began to move. While it was risky, he really did not have many options.
Ye Chong took a deep breath, and moved. Han Jia abruptly sprang out from behind the rock, and went full speed straight ahead. This time, Ye Chong did not care to reserve energy, and put the engines on full power.
With Han Jia’s speed at full engine capacity, a single kilometer’s dist
ance could be covered in the blink of an eye.
Abruptly, Ye Chong felt his whole body sinking downwards, like everything had suddenly turned heavier.
Han Jia also was obviously falling, but Ye Chong was prepared for this. The auxiliary engines tilted, and Han Jia was back on its intended trajectory.
Just as Ye Chong reached the empty space, those herbivores immediately lifted their heads in alarm. Han Jia’s appearance had obviously surprised them. The animals panicked and quickly ran away.
Ye Chong finally saw clearly how the animals moved. Their strong hind legs allowed them to jump. They hopped from rock to rock, quick as the wind. In just a few moments, the herd of herbivores disappeared from his sight. They moved almost as fast as mechs.
Ye Chong had no time to appreciate the awe-inspiring strength of those animals, since something was going very wrong now.
The gravity was stronger than on any inhabited planet! The gravitational pull was stronger than Ye Chong expected. As he entered the empty space, Ye Chong felt his body turned even heavier.
It was like being pressed firmly into his seat. His deft hands now felt so sluggish. The abrupt gradient of potential energy made Ye Chong dizzy. Fortunately, his lengthy training kicked in, and he flew the mech without hindrance. Despite the situation, Ye Chong did not lose control of his mech.
Han Jia landed neatly on a floating rock suspended in midair. The mech’s massive weight did not even stir the rock as Han Jia stood on it.
Ye Chong quickly recovered from his dizziness. His body felt like lead, so heavy that even moving his finger was a chore. Ye Chong quickly made an estimate of the gravitational field strength, and found that it was probably about five times that of the trash planet.
Even with Ye Chong’s physical strength, the strong gravitational field was enough to make movement difficult. Thinking back on how those herbivores leaped, Ye Chong felt embarrassed of himself. If it was him running, he would never be able to match their speed. Those animals were strong.
Ye Chong felt grateful. If he had been careless, those animals would be a big mess to deal with.
Ye Chong did not continue advancing, but stayed where he was and examined his surroundings. With five times the average gravitational force, Han Jia was now less powerful in combat. Han Jia’s design was not meant for battle in strong gravity environments like this. With five times the gravitational force, energy consumption would increase steeply. Han Jia would also be unable to reach its maximum speed. Besides, in this environment, Ye Chong felt like he was carrying four times his own body weight, and his hands felt five times heavier than normal. With this, Ye Chong’s hands would slow down, and his combat endurance would also decrease.
If he did a high speed Thomas’s Spin here, Ye Chong knew that he would suffer grave internal injuries from it. With five times the gravitational force, even sitting was hard.
There was not going around the problem. Ye Chong could only exercise caution and continue on carefully. If anything was amiss, he would run away.
The test results was encouraging for Ye Chong. There was air here, suitable for human respiration. Besides, the air quality was excellent, achieving the highest quality level possible. Even so, Ye Chong was not particularly demanding about air quality. To him, it was enough as along as the air was breathable. On the trash planet, pollution was at a critical level. Staying outdoors for long hours would be damaging to the respiratory tract and lungs.
However, Ye Chong also understood that good air quality also implied that the area was suitable for life. In fact, if it was suitable for humans, it was also suitable for most living organisms.
The air quality results was a relief for Ye Chong. The mech’s air recycling system could not run forever, since it consumed energy as well. Since there was breathable air here, it was at least suitable for habitation.
With air, wildlife and the mech’s water synthesizer, he already had all the basic necessities to survive.
Even though there was air outside, Ye Chong did not leave his mech. The environment was still largely unfamiliar to him, and it was safer to stay in the mech.
Numerous floating rocks seemed to suspend in the air, as though they were supported by something invisible in this strong-gravity environment. Ye Chong could not understand how this was possible. Moreover, when Han Jia stood on these rocks, they did not move at all.
What was this all about? Ye Chong could not for the life of him understand how these things came to be.
"There’s so much in this world that’s a mystery," he thought to himself, and quickly moved on.
Ye Chong flew Han Jia carefully, avoiding the rocks in the air as he advanced slowly.
The further he flew, the more he discovered. There were more and more rocks suspended in the air, and there seemed to be no end in sight. Besides the purple fauna that he found earlier on those rocks, there were also a brown, lichen-like vegetation.
In this dark space, many faint blue sparkling dots surrounded the rocks. They seemed to be scattered randomly around the rocks, and brought life to the darkness.
The rocks were all scattered about irregularly. Ye Chong quickly found that flying was not a wise choice. With gravity, evasion during flight was a lot harder.
Fortunately, Ye Chong was adaptable. He quickly found a wonderful alternative - leaping, just like those herbivores. Han Jie leaped from one rock to another. Since the rocks were not too far apart, it was a suitable way of moving forward. The only problem was that Han Jia was a lot larger than those herbivores. This was a hindrance when moving between the rocks.
Besides, Ye Chong found that it was impossible to move the floating rocks vertically, parallel to the gravitational pull. However, it could be moved horizontally, and that was a curiosity to Ye Chong.
Ever since he entered the rest mist, he had encountered so many strange things. Until now, he could not understand any of them. As he continued to meet new and unexplainable phenomena, he learned to accept them quickly. After all, everything was strange around here, so different from what he knew of the world.
While he did not investigate the logic behind the things appearing around him, Ye Chong still studied everything carefully. Learning about his surroundings in unfamiliar territory would greatly increase his chances of survival.
As Ye Chong moved further in, the rocks grew closer together. This made Han Jia’s advance even harder. In the end, Ye Chong could only fly upwards.
He flew on for three days. While Han Jia was slowed down in order to avoid the rocks, he still covered a fair distance in these three days. However, Ye Chong noticed grimly that the energy consumed in these three days was equivalent to the energy ordinarily used up in two weeks. If this continued, the energy would quickly run out, and Ye Chong’s most effective means of self defense would be gone.
In these three days of flight, Ye Chong encountered a few herds of those herbivores.
The only encouraging thing was that Ye Chong had finally reached the uppermost layer of the asteroid region. This was apparent from the wider expanse of empty space he reached now.
This empty space stretched on for more than 3,000 kilometers.
3,000 kilometers was the limit of Han Jia’s scanning system. "I didn’t think an asteroid belt will have such a mysterious place," Ye Chong could not help but exclaimed. One can imagine the massive expanse of the asteroid belt.
Ye Chong paused as he studied Han Jia’s holographic scans. In the next moment, Han Jia quickly took off.
Since he was at the edge of the asteroid belt, there were no rocks to stop Han Jia, and the mech advanced swiftly.
The rocks were denser further ahead. The rocks below Han Jia grew closer and closer together. Gradually, the rocks below Han Jia formed a solid piece, like a gravelled road. Further still, the rocks were now just flat earth.
According to Han Jia’s holographic scans, what laid ahead was a huge continent.