The debris was too dense. The individual rocks were small, but the continuous damage had taken its toll. The armor was breached in a few places, leaving tiny holes in it. The holes were small, but would widen without timely reparation. When that happens, the whole ship would go down.
Ye Chong tensed up as he stared fixedly on the holographic screen, his slender fingers flying across the console like a pianist performing a mysterious piece, or a flower unfurling its petals. His ten fingers issued command after command to the starship’s systems.
Ye Chong was like a fireman. He needed to find the breaches as soon as possible and repair them quickly. Fortunately, the starship was equipped with specialized reparation systems, or Ye Chong would have to do it all by himself. Not even 10 Ye Chongs would be enough to fix all the breaches in time.
Ye Chong's mind was a blank as he did the insane reparation work. He was already at his speed limit with his hands. His hands were too stressed, as they were almost going to cramp. However, there was not much time to think about all these. The longer he held on, the higher the chance of pulling it off.
Ye Chong breathed heavily as Rui Bing watched him with concern.
There were more and more breaches, and their chances were getting lower and lower. Unlike the calmness in Ye Chong’s mind, his eyes were burning wildly as he struggled. Surrender was not in his nature.
20 seconds more! Ye Chong’s head was crystal clear. He knew exactly how long it was before the starship yielded to the breaches.
15 seconds! Ye Chong’s hands danced wildly on the console.
10 seconds! He did not give up, gritting his teeth as he worked.
Eight seconds! His eyes reflected the final drop of hope before the ultimate despair.
Seven seconds! The undying flame continued to dance in his eyes.
Six seconds! Ye Chong’s madness was suddenly replaced by an indescribable peace.
Was he really going to die here? Was this end of his life?
Five seconds! Ye Chong suddenly realized that the new breaches were happening slower.
His dreadfully calm heart beat made him hopeful once again. Ye Chong could hear every beat of his heart. Time seemed to slow down. His hands seemed to slow down and his eyes could clearly see every movement of his fingers.
"I need to be faster!"
He shouted in his heart. Five seconds. He now had five seconds! In these five seconds, he must not err in controlling the starship. Any mistake would bury this final hope forever.
The human will to survive was a force to reckon with.
Ye Chong felt like all his fatigue was swept away. His hands moved faster than ever before, and his thoughts came with unprecedented clarity. With his enhanced mental capacity, everything seemed to slow down and clear up.
Finally, just when the starship was three seconds away from exploding, Ye Chong reached a reparation speed that balanced out the damage due to the new breaches.
The number of new breaches became less and less. Ye Chong controlled the ship steadily, not once making a mistake or delaying any precious second.
Five seconds … 10 seconds … 15 seconds …
Slowly but surely, Ye Chong lengthened the time until the starship exploded.
When the new breaches stopped happening, Ye Chong also managed to repair all the holes in the ship.
Even the calm Ye Chong wanted to raise his hands and scream. However, he found that he could not do that. He could not even move a single finger. His body felt like lead, and his head was heavy. His vision was turning blurry. If Ye Chong was still clear headed now, he would notice that his hands were trembling wildly. His hands were cramping.
However, he saw nothing at all. His consciousness was escaping him. The light in his vision slowly faded out into darkness. He blacked out.
"Ye!" Rui Bing’s face that was the nevermelting ice on the coldest planet in the galaxy finally softened. She rushed to Ye Chong and caught him as he slumped to the floor.
Ye Chong heard a faint cry through his slipping consciousness, and recognized Rui Bing’s voice.
He awoke later, and the first person he saw was Rui Bing. She was caressing his hands quietly.
"You’re awake," Rui Bing sounded overjoyed.
Ye Chong said nothing, his large eyes staring at Rui Bing’s eyes.
Ye Chong was quiet for such a long time that Rui Bing grew nervous and asked, "What is it? Are you hurt anywhere?"
Still Ye Chong looked at Rui Bing steadily without speaking.
Rui Bing was even more anxious now. She put her right hand on Ye Chong’s forehead. "What is it? Don’t scare me like this. Speak!" Rui Bing had lost all the assuredness as a Jie expert by now.
"You’re worried about me?" Ye Chong asked.
"Yes, of course I’m worried." Rui Bing looked at Ye Chong curiously.
"You care for me?" Ye Chong continued asking.
"Yes, of course I care." Rui Bing’s eyes were filled with concern. Was his brain affected? But how could that be?
"Why do you care for me?" Ye Chong asked as he stared deep into Rui Bing’s eyes.
After a long pause … "I’m your wife," Rui Bing said this casually. She understood immediately that Ye Chong’s brain was not damaged.
"Wife? The woman who will live with me forever?" Ye Chong remembered something like that from a book.
Rui Bing lowered her head as she continued caressing Ye Chong’s hands, and said with soft but determined voice, "Yes."
Ye Chong saw the resolution in Rui Bing’s eyes, and found himself moved by this simple declaration. He suddenly remembered Mu and Shang. All this while, he had thought that only Mu and Shang would live with him, but now another person had just promised to stay with him forever.
"Because I’m your wife," Rui Bing looked at Ye Chong and said this softly, but her heart was beating furiously.
"Wife. Are you sure?" Ye Chong looked steadily at Rui Bing.
"Yes." Rui Bing returned a steady gaze.
"Living together forever …" Ye Chong muttered to himself. Abruptly, he lifted his head and said, "Don’t husband and wife kiss? Teach me!"
Cornerstone was lucky enough to survive the terrifying Singular Wave. In fact, Cornerstone was now being pushed by the wave. They had no idea where they were now. What happened then was odd indeed. After bracing the initial force of the wave, Cornerstone became part of the Singular Wave. Debris surrounded the starship. While they were fatal before, now they were travelling at the same velocity as the Cornerstone itself, so the tiny rocks outside were now harmless.
The young boy awakened earlier than Ye Chong. He studied Ye Chong for awhile and exclaimed with his young, innocent voice, "Big guy, you’re so cool!"
Ye Chong looked at himself and smiled wryly inside. He was badly injured this time. His hands were completely swollen from wrist to the fingertips. Any small movement would invite a sharp pain. Besides, his arms and back were aching.
"Big guy, what did you say to your wife just now? Hehe, why’d she blush so much? And even ran off?" The young boy’s innocent face turned evil.
Ye Chong thought about it, and answered, "We were discussing something academic." Kissing must be a kind of skill, right? Ye Chong was not so sure about it. Too bad Rui Bing was not here to help him, so he could only make his best guess.
"Hehe …" The young boy swung his legs and laughed teasingly.
Ye Chong suddenly thought of something. "What’s your name?"
"Yu Shan," the young boy answered easily.
It was an unfamiliar name. Ye Chong did not get anything out of it.
After a moment’s hesitation, Ye Chong asked, "Do you know Shang?"
"Shang?" The young boy asked, curious. "Who’s that?"
Ye Chong could see every detail of the young boy’s expression, but he was disappointed to find that the boy was not lying. Did he really now know Shang? Then why did he feel that both of them were so similar to each other?
Nonetheless, Ye Chong was not too curious about it. He would not put himself in danger just because of a moment’s curiosity. If he did not feel that the young boy was similar to Shang, Ye Chong would never have asked that question.
"Never mind then," Ye Chong lost interest immediately.
"Big guy, your hands were awesome!" The young boy’s eyes were filled with admiration and approval. "I’ve seen the records for when you were handling the ship. It’s amazing! So fast, and with zero error, so cool!"
"It’s nothing," Ye Chong answered dismissively. He thought of his time on the trash planet, when Mu supervised his training with the steel beads.
"Big guy, can you teach me?" The young boy looked to Ye Chong with eyes full of hope.