The young boy pouted with dissatisfaction. "Humph! Who cares anyway?"
Outside the ship was an infinite stretch of the nebula that surrounded the starship like a thin veil. The faint blue nebula was not uniformly blue across. There were patches of lighter or darker shades here and there, irregularities that could only be noticed by careful observation.
Suddenly, an empty space that was tens of kilometers wide appeared on the starship’s holographic screen. This empty path in space was so obvious that is was impossible to miss it.
"Ah, that’s it!" Old Jalopy stood up abruptly, pointing on the image on the holographic screen with excitement.
"What is it?" Ye Chong studied the empty path.
After a moment’s pause, Old Jalopy calmed down and explained, "30 years ago, we went along a path that looked like this to the warp jump point."
The news was encouraging to them all.
"But I’m not entirely sure that it’s this one!" After some more hesitation, Old Jalopy declared while studying the path on the holographic screen.
Even though this was not the best outcome for them, it was still good news. The young boy’s bodyguards spirits were lifted. They had just gone through a massive battle and were not fully recovered yet, with the look of fatigue on their faces. Scarface, however, seemed to be his usual self with his wooden expression unaltered.
Fei Si was alone in the alchemy room. The Singular Wave incident a few days ago had destroyed many pieces of equipment in the laboratory. She was busy doing the clean up, since no one could help her with it.
The starship slowly approached the empty stretch of space, but the question of which direction to take was a difficult one. As the only person in charge, Ye Chong decided to choose one at random.
Flying in the empty path was no different than flying in the nebula. The journey was not faster nor slower.
How did this empty space came about? Why would there be no stars here? No one knew. The universe was filled with many unexplained phenomena, too many to count. In any case, Ye Chong would not waste his time figuring them out.
The starship flew along the empty path at high speed. Without any reference coordinates, they could not do a warp jump, and had to settle for normal flight.
On the tenth day, the dull view outside finally changed.
The faint blue nebula was no longer there, but replaced with a olive coloured nebula. This olive nebula was thicker than the faint blue nebula. It was like a green-brown cumulonimbus, giving off a fluffy sense of texture. The scary thing about this olive coloured nebula was its inherent instability.
There were constantly streaks of light that flew across the skies in the olive nebula. The further in they went, the more those streaks appeared. Finally, it was not just the occasional streaks, but the whole space around them was filled with these golden fiery streaks flying around.
The olive nebula was dangerous. This suspicion was quickly proven right.
A rock, big as a hill, slowly floated into the olive nebula.
It was like throwing a lighted match into boiling oil. The unstable nebula reacted violently.
The golden fiery streaks moved towards the rock like sharks, surrounding it closely. In the blink of an eye, the entire rock was completely covered with the fire, leaving only a barely visible silhouette.
From afar, the rock looked like a glowing mass of golden fire. One could make out the fiery streaks swimming in the golden mass.
Everyone stared at the sudden change. They had never seen anything like it, not even Old Jalopy in his last trip here.
Before anyone could react, the dazzling gold mass changed again. It shrinked rapidly inwards. The dazzling gold mass shrinked so quickly that its diameter was halved every three seconds.
After five minutes, the glowing rock that was as tall as a hill was two meters across. It was also shaped like a perfect spherical mass of gold.
The spherical fiery mass slowly dimmed down, and the rock was finally exposed again from underneath. A dark red lava in spherical form floated silently in the olive nebula, with the occasional fiery streak flying around it.
Everyone was shocked.
In just five minutes, the rock had been burned down to a spherical lava ball two meters across. What a terrifying power! The inexplicable power of the universe was demonstrated right before their eyes.
Ye Chong felt a chill down his spine. If their starship had accidentally entered the olive nebula, what would have happened? The starship would probably melt into metallic liquid, while the rest of them would probably burn up into ashes.
Cornerstone carefully traversed the empty path, wary of accidentally entering the olive nebula.
It was fortunate that the young boy’s bodyguards were all capable. Up until now, Cornerstone had flew without error.
Another 10 days passed. Everyone but Fei Si had lived through those 10 days in fear. Fei Si was too absorbed in her work cleaning up the alchemy lab that she did not know what happened outside, and hence, was not worried at all.
The olive nebula began to change again. The olive coloured nebula that looked like a cumulonimbus began to grow faint, then turned blue. Surprisingly, the nebula was filled with twinkling lights.
The terrifying fire streaks were no longer in sight. The aqua blue nebula was twinkling with blue lights, like a blue world out of a fairy tale.
Unlike the violent olive nebula, this one was quiet like the young miss of a respectable family. There was no fire, no explosions, only an all-encompassing twinkling blue nebula.
Aside that, the nebula was also filled with many floating rocks. These rocks came in many types, and Ye Chong could not identify most of them.
The rocks were irregular in shape and size, but they were all quietly suspended in the twinkling blue nebula.
Ye Chong was already standing by the holographic screen, staring fixedly at it. His face was calm, but inside he was very much shaken. This was like a natural ore gallery, filled with all kinds of rare minerals.
His eyes swept through the floating rocks, when Ye Chong suddenly widened his eyes and gasped, "Coraplatinum!" Given Ye Chong’s cool nature, not many things could surprise him like this!
"Coraplatinum? Where? Where?" The young boy rushed to the screen, his blue eyes lit up with curiosity. "There is coraplatinum here?" He tiptoed and stretched his neck upwards, but he was too short and too far from the holographic screen. He tilted his head in thought. Then, he turned to one of his bodyguards, waved him over and said in his childish voice, "Lift me up."
The bodyguard quickly carried the boy up and placed him on his shoulder.
The young boy patted on the bodyguard’s head, urging him further, "Move forward … Forward … Okay okay … Stop!"
The young boy looked up and muttered to himself, "It’s really coraplatinum." He looked very interested.
On the holographic screen was an irregular shaped grey-blue ore, covered with many tiny white crosses. The white crossed looked intricate, and they were all perfectly symmetric crosses. Seen from afar, coraplatinum looked like a grey-blue rock covered with many white spots, not standing out at all.
Ye Chong stared blankly at the coraplatinum, struggling inside.
Coraplatinum was something Ye Chong had been looking for all this while. It was instrumental in repairing Mu and Shang. With coraplatinum, the chances were higher for Mu and Shang to be repaired. However, not even Mu and Shang knew where coraplatinum could be found.
"So it’s actually from here!" Ye Chong stared at the holographic screen, muttering to himself.
He suddenly thought of a question, and turned to face the young boy. "You know coraplatinum?" This was a rare ore, and not many would know about it. Just where did the young boy come to know about this ore?
The young boy replied dismissively, "Of course I know it. Coraplatinum’s good stuff, a pity it’s so rare. This is the first time I’ve seen it for real." To him, coraplatinum was only some kind of rare item.
Ye Chong turned to Old Jalopy and asked, "Professor, is this nebula dangerous?"
"Probably not," Old Jalopy answered, "Last time, Xue Lai Clan had attacked us from in there."
"Xue Lai Clan?" Ye Chong raised his brow and considered that fact.
The young boy was growing excited and jubilant. "Wah ...."
After a long moment, Ye Chong lifted his head and said, "Enter this nebula."
The young boy looked at Ye Chong curiously. "You want coraplatinum? But why? It’s melting point is very high, making it difficult to extract!"
Ye Chong ignored him and looked towards the bodyguards in charge of flying the ship.
The bodyguards hesitated for a moment, but quickly altered their course towards the nebula.
The starship’s entrance into the area immediately caused a disturbance. The silently floating rocks were dense, so when Cornerstone entered the nebula, a chain reaction was initiated. The rocks that were pushed off the starship collided into other rocks. Some of the motionless rocks began to move.
This was a big inconvenience for Ye Chong and the others. With the chaotic situation, it was difficult to find their target. Cornerstone flew at its minimum speed, but the chaos continued to spread out wide.
Ye Chong kept his eyes fixed on the coraplatinum, afraid to lose sight of it.
Fortunately, the coraplatinum was not hit by any of the other mineral rocks. It continued to float silently where it was.
Cornerstone was equipped with many mechanical arms, and this made it efficient for collecting materials outside. Ye Chong carefully maneuvered one of the mechanical arms himself. When the mechanical arm had the coraplatinum firmly in its grasp, Ye Chong finally heaved a sigh of relief.
The coraplatinum was larger than Ye Chong anticipated, weighing more than three tonnes.
"What a big coraplatinum!" The young boy circled around the coraplatinum, caressing its natural white crosses on the ore.
Ye Chong felt excited. With this coraplatinum, Mu and Shang would be repaired soon. Mu and Shang only needed the one arm and a small part of the pilot cabin repaired. This piece of coraplatinum would be more than enough for that, perhaps leaving some to spare.
Ye Chong looked at the chaotic situation around him regretfully. With the rocks flying all over, it was impossible to take more of them. It was simply a pity, missing out on those rare ores. Ye Chong saw a few rare ores already floating further and further away from him.
There was no helping it. Ye Chong ordered for Cornerstone to leave the nebula.
Cornerstone continued on its journey in the empty path.
The flight continued on for another 20 days along the empty path. Just when everyone, including Old Jalopy, believed that they had gone in the wrong direction, or in the wrong empty path altogether, the warp jump point that Old Jalopy that been telling them repeatedly about finally appeared before them.
The starship went from the empty path into a vast void region.
This was a region tens of thousands of kilometers across, without any nebula to be seen. If the empty path was a strange sight, then this vast empty region was even more curious.
Old Jalopy stood up abruptly and gasped in joy, "Ah! It’s here, it’s here!" All of them could hear the excitement in his words.
The dispirited crowd was immediately encouraged. They stood up and asked, "Where? Where is it?"
"Over there!" Old Jalopy pointed towards the center of the region.
At the dead center of the region was a flat, colourful disc. On the holographic screen, the disc was further enlarged for viewing. What they saw now was a disc about two kilometers across, made up of nebulae of all kinds of colors. There were the faint blue, green-brown and twinkling blue ones that Ye Chong and the rest had seen, and some dazzling colors such as deep red, bright yellow … It was like an exhibit of colors. The colorful nebulae were dispersed in the disc without any apparent order. The strangest part was that the colorful disc had a strange and slow ripple spreading across it.
The ripples started from the center of the disc, spreading outwards slowly.
The center of the disc was empty, but it was like a beating heart, bringing motion to the nebulae around it. It was a curious sight to behold.
"The warp jump point is at the center of the disc!" Old Jalopy’s voice sounded dreamy, like the interesting disc they were looking at.