Before Hao Ren went to search for the Divine Artifact, he also gave a series of orders to Nolan. He wanted Nolan to quickly figure out the navigation systems of the other arks and take control of them. This would allow him to move these arks to a more suitable location. To do this, Nolan began by removing hull plates that covered Terra Firma's propulsion system and reactor (the reactor for propulsion, and not the sanctuary). After studying these old machines and the way they worked, she decided that instead of modifying the existing ancient navigation system, it was easier to just strip off the old systems and introduce a new one that was linked to the propulsion system and reactor. Petrachelys agreed with her, and so she got down to work.
The drones used their flexible mechanical arms to carry a device called the Seeping Kernel to the ark, and fix them onto relevant structures such as the propulsion system. Seeping Kernel was a kind of silvery white globe that looked like a droplet of mercury. It had a smooth surface and beautiful appearance, and was composed of trillions of micro units. Once a Seeping Kernel was attached to a circuit board or power switch, it would dissolve and seep into the mechanical parts, consume the original circuits, and replace them with new circuits. Using this method, the drones could easily control technology from a foreign civilization that was far inferior to their own. Of course, the degree of control was limited. This method was useless against more advanced systems that did not employ physical circuits or mechanical switches.
When they took over the golden warship, Pattianne, they could not use this trick.
On the bridge of Petrachelys, hundreds of mini holographic images were on display, constantly updated with live information from the drones. The progress of the Seeping Kernels in taking over the ark's navigation system was also shown. Most of the systems on Terra Firma were now under their control. Nolan tested the ark's systems. She switched the lights on and off, started and shut down the propulsion system, directed the ark left and right - all to test the newly installed navigation system of the ark. She mumbled to herself, "This is like controlling a zombie ship. Stripping out its original nervous system and replacing them with mine … It feels weird."
The people in the bridge could only agree that it was hard for them to follow Nolan - her metaphor was too otherworldly.
As the drones continued working on their massive operation in outer space, the sanctuary on Throne remained silent.
Nobody knew what was happening a few kilometers underneath their feet. They could only pray quietly and nervously to the Furnace of the Ancestors, which remained quiet. They chanted the names of their ancestors and the Gods repeatedly, and discussed rumours about the "Judge of Fire and Ice". Those intruders had entered the Furnace of the Ancestors for almost an hour, but nothing had happened so far. There was no apocalyptic hailstorm that rained down from the sky, and no warmth that spread out to overcome the coldness in this world. The only thing they saw was little sparks coming from the huge crack on the surface of the Furnace. The sparks had continued for awhile now, with the occasional low booming sound coming from the crack. No one knew what the sparks and the sound meant.
In fact, the autonomous bots were cheerfully working on fixing the huge power generator inside the crack. The ends of their tentacles were fitted with welding lasers, which caused the sparks the people saw. The low booming sound was from somewhere deeper in the Furnace, where Hao Ren and his group was.
The old power generators were separated from the reactor by many strong doors, and various shields and concrete layers. These measures were taken to protect the fusion reactor deep inside the facility. However, since the protective structures had not been maintained for a long time, the doors no longer responded to the usual ways of access. Hao Ren had to resort to a more technical approach to open them - including but not limited to 5 kg TNT, 10 kg TNT, 35 kg TNT and Lily's headbutt. Truth be told, these methods were quite mild already compared to his earlier taste for explosions to clear the path.
Another series of explosions reverberated in the control station. A metal door was stuck shut finally fell from a series of precise and small explosions. Vivian summoned a gust of wind to blow away the dust in the air, and continued her way forward with Hao Ren. Nangong Sanba followed behind them as he muttered, "Really, I think it's risky to use explosions to clear the way when we're around a fusion reactor that's been running for 10 thousand years … And it lacks elegance."
"At least we have the IDT looking after us. We have avoided all the dangerous points along the way so far." Hao Ren commented smoothly as he looked at the path in front of them. They were already inside the power center of the sanctuary, almost right beside the fusion reactor. Few would have set foot in here while the ark was functioning normally. He could see all kinds of severely aged pipings and flaking paint on the walls. Dust was everywhere in the narrow and claustrophobic repair runnel. The ceiling was interspersed with wide skylights that allowed a view of the magnificent structures outside - huge machinery and 10-thousand-year-old thick cables dominated the view beyond the skylights. These things were like the organs and blood vessels of a metal beast that surrounded Hao Ren and his group, a constant reminder to them of how close they were to the heart of the beast.
To the IDT, these structures were simple and lacking, but the ark was undeniably a miracle. The designers had created the ark with a crude and primitive form of beauty. Besides, the ark had kept a few hundred thousand passengers safe so such a long time. The ark's blood flowed through these cables. Passengers of the ark had survived because of these structures.
What could have possibly gone wrong to bring the people on the ark from the age of space travel all the way back to middle ages?
The deeper they ventured into the reactor, the more Hao Ren felt nervous about this mystery. He had found no clues about it so far. The corpse he found in the control room was the only "prehistoric" body he discovered, but the skeletal remains revealed nothing.
The IDT interrupted his thoughts. "Wait. I sensed an anomalous power surge in front just now."
Hao Ren could not help but replied, "Power? There's power everywhere in here."
"It's an 'anomalous power surge'." The IDT knocked Hao Ren on his head. "It's the Divine Artifact!"
Hao Ren quickly looked to Vivian, who also looked back and nodded slightly.
They felt encouraged by this discovery, and trotted forward along the narrow repair tunnel. Finally, they reached a wide space. This was a cylindrical room. The walls were fitted with huge tempered glass. Through the glass, one could see the ring structure of the fusion arc reactor outside. At the center of the room was a slightly tilted cylindrical alloy platform, with a diameter that reached over 10 meters long.
A golden object was embedded into the center of the alloy platform. It was glowing faintly.
The Gilded Disc.
When Hao Ren saw the Gilded Disc, he was lost in thought for a moment. Once, he imagined that the legendary artifact spoken of by the locals - an artifact that was said to keep their world safe - would be this Disc. It was, after all, the only Divine Artifact he knew of that originated directly from the Goddess of Creation. However, now that he saw the Divine Artifact was indeed the Gilded Disc, it felt weird to have the truth exactly as he imagined it to be.
Did the fleet survived the disaster that was the First Born and escaped the intergalactic pursuit of the Brain Monster, all because of this Gilded Disc?
VIvian looked distracted when she saw the Gilded Disc. She began to approach it instinctively. Hao Ren saw her move and quickly pulled her back. "Vivian!"
"Ahh?" Vivian jolted awake. "What?"
"You seemed out of focus." Hao Ren watched her nervously, making sure that she had recovered herself. "Stay back. I'll go inspect the Disc. Lily, look after Vivian."
Lily quickly squatted beside Vivian. "You just go ahead - I'm the expert is looking after things!"
Hao Ren nodded, and began to walk towards the Gilded Disc.