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Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Hao Ren let Vivian and the others stay behind. He then dragged the IDT along with him toward the Gilded Disc. He knew that this was one of the most peculiar and interesting creations in the Plane of Dreams. It would do him well to be cautious.
He approached the Divine Artifact without incident.
The Gilded Disc was embedded in the huge metallic platform. All around the platform were pipings, cables, metal struts, and other miscellaneous items scattered on the floor. The platform looked like a mysterious altar with a sci-fi twist. There was a faintly glowing metal annulus around the Gilded Disc. When Hao Ren went closer, the metal annulus seemed to flash once, but otherwise there was no reaction to his approach.
“It’s damaged.” The IDT inspected the energy flowing through the pipings and metal cables around the metal platform and said. “This is supposed to be some kind of amplifier that can send information from the Gilded Disc to any corner of the fleet, but now the entire device is dormant.”
Hao Ren nodded just a little, and carefully reached his hand out to touch the Gilded Disc.
A warm and moist sensation, not quite metallic, came from his fingertips, but he did not receive any information from the Divine Artifact like last time. It seemed that this Gilded Disc was most likely an unremarkable product of the Goddess of Creation. It did not carry any extra information within it.
The IDT circled around the Gilded Disc a few times to study it and finally declared the device to be safe once no dangers were identified. The Nangong siblings and Lily finally got to go closer to the Disc, curious about the object. Lily pulled Hao Ren’s sleeve joyfully. “Everything alright? What goodie have we gotten this time?”
Vivian called out from further away. “Um, can I come over now?”
Heo Ren looked back with amusement and found Vivian standing far away by the entrance to the room, eager to join them but afraid to cause trouble. He waved at her. “Come on here, just take care not to touch the thing. We’re play it safe.”
Vivian trotted happily over, hugging herself and she whispered quietly, “So this is what was protecting the ark from the pursuit. If that’s the case, does it mean that the aura of the Gilded Disc can ward off Guardians who have gone mad?”
“Yeah … ” Hao Ren agreed half-heartedly as he studied the cylindrical platform beneath the Gilded Disc. He wanted to see what else the device could do aside from broadcasting information from the Disc. The IDT found something before he did. “Wait, partner, there’s something underneath.”
“Underneath?” Hao Ren was surprised.
The IDT hovered about a corner of the platform and suddenly pushed itself against a metal lever that jutted out from the mess. Everyone had thought the lever was just some decoration, but when the IDT pushed itself against it, a soft metallic grinding sound came from below the platform!
“Creak —” This was followed by the sound of cogwheels turning and machines running underneath. The Gilded Disc angled up to a vertical stand. The black metal platform underneath it slit open from the middle in a straight line and opened slowly. Hao Ren stared at the mechanical device. When it finally stopped moving, an entrance of over five meters wide that led underground appeared before him.
There was something underneath!
Vivian did her usual thing — she threw one of her tiny bats down to scout the underground pathway. After a while, she nodded. “It’s safe. There’s a tunnel. No traps in there.”
“Be careful, everyone,” Hao Ren cautioned the group as he activated his shield and moved for the entrance. Before he entered the tunnel, he took another hesitant look at the Gilded Disc. Since he could not be sure that the Artifact was entirely isolated from the ark’s systems, he decided not to remove it for now. Instead, he left an autonomous bot behind to look after it.
The group followed the ancient steps and covered a long distance before they finally reached the end. There, the tunnel led to a wide corridor. The lighting was dim, but when Hao Ren stepped into the corridor, the lights around him switched on, making the corridor bright as day.
Compared to the residential area at the surface, which was gradually turning into a garbage heap, the corridor looked brand new. There was no trash, no damage, no marks at all. Aside from the thick layer of dust, everything here looked well preserved. Without a doubt, the residents on the surface did not know of this place. Probably no one had visited here for a few hundred years.
“The other arks probably don’t have this facility.” Hao Ren muttered to himself. Since the designer of the place had built the entrance underneath the Gilded Disc, it stood to reason that it must be something of a secret. Hao Ren followed down the corridor, and then stepped on something. He looked down to find a palm-sized plastic card on the floor.
He picked the card up and saw “The Ultimate Vault” written on it. There was also a name and position. This was most likely a staff identification card.
“‘Ultimate Vault’?” Vivian inched closer to have a look. “What’s in the vault?”
Hao Ren shook his head. “Who knows?”
Suddenly, Lily, who was far ahead of the rest of the group, called to them. “Hey! Come have look at this!”
Hao Ren ran to her. He saw what Lily found — a small corpse, with the face facing down against the corner of a wall. The clothing on the body was in tatters, but one could see that it was once a white shirt.
This was the second “prehistoric” body he found on the ark. This second one was that of a child.
“A child?” Vivian frowned. “Why would a child die in this secret facility?”
The IDT floated over to inspect the body, and quickly had something to offer. “Based on the standards of humans on this ark, the child was around twelve or thirteen years old at the time of death. Cause of death is short exposure of heavy radiation.”
“Death from radiation?” Hao Ren immediately thought of adult corpse in the control room. The cause of death for that crew member was a kind of chronic illness that caused the bones to become brittle and rot. “It’s not from disease?”
“You’re talking about the strange disease of that person in the control room?” The IDT knew what Hao Ren was getting at. “No. This child died approximately 800 years ago, while the ‘captain’ in the control room died approximately 900 years ago. There is a hundred year difference in between. Hmm … There was no sign of radiation in the corpse in the control room, but there is in this second body. I believe that the fusion reactor leaking incident happened between 800 and 900 years ago.”
“The body in the control room is probably the last captain of the ark.” Hao Ren frowned slightly, feeling himself close to an answer. “After he died, no one entered the control room again. However, 100 years after he died, a child died in here …”
After they were finished inspecting the small corpse, the group continued their way along the corridor. They passed through a few large doors, and walked past rooms that looked like they were designed for decontamination, inspection or quarantine. Finally, they arrived at a strange looking door. It was much wider than the other doors, and had a complicated locking system installed. This was, without a doubt, the deepest part of the facility.
Hao Ren made a rough estimate of the distance they had covered, and concluded that they had already gone beyond the residential area of the sanctuary, and perhaps even beyond the massive fusion reactor chamber (the evidence for this was there was no radiation here anymore). This corridor must be located in a hidden section between the residential area and the ark’s hull. Based on the nearly mint condition of the facility, it must have been built many years after the ark began its flight — it might be even less than a thousand years old.
The mechanical gears of the door were still working. With the IDT’s help, Hao Ren managed to open the door the way in the usual way. As the two heavy metallic doors opened to both sides, they saw a large and silvery room beyond it.
This was a spacious cylindrical expanse, nearly a hundred meters in diameter. It was hard to gauge the height of the place. Inside the cylindrical space were neatly arranged rows of silvery metallic boxes of less than one and a half meters, fixed in position by many support structures. These metallic boxes and support structures were held in mid-air by many sophisticated mechanical arms. A wide suspension bridge cut across the cylindrical expanse. Hao Ren and his group were standing at one end of the bridge.
“Holy…” Lily looked up at the numerous metallic boxes and stretched her voice in awe. “What the…”
Hao Ren looked around him. He thought that the metallic boxes in the air were probably not fixed permanently in place. As expected, he found something like a control stand nearby.
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