This chapter is updated by Novels.pl
This was a Rockheart Jade letter, one that was produced in an obvious hurry. There was only a self-destruct warning on the outside and no indication of who it was addressed to. If it wasn’t for him sensing the auras of Ji Tianqing and Li Kuanglan, Qianye wouldn’t dare believe he was the addressee.
Qianye channeled a wisp of daybreak origin power into the letter and looked through its contents.
After being saved at the Pond of Life, the two girls ran all the way back to the Imperial fortress, but the place was already destroyed by the time they arrived. The messages left behind told them that most of the Imperial forces had withdrawn from the Great Maelstrom. But the Empire had been operating here for many years—this fortress wasn’t just a ground structure, but also extended deep under the ground.
The natives only caused simple mechanical damage and didn’t really dig into the secrets of the place. In the space underground, there were emergency materials to build a shuttle airship. The duo used the components to build such a vessel, planning to wait for Qianye before departure, but yet another native army appeared. Left with no other choice, they had to lure the enemies away and then return to the Empire.
There were enough parts in the secret chamber to build a new shuttle airship, along with the blueprints.
Although there was no mention of who had saved them, Qianye could guess that it was Nighteye. This could easily be proven by asking Zhuji when she woke up.
According to the letter, it would seem that the Empire had temporarily let go of this fortress and would only return after the situation in the Great Maelstrom had calmed down. In the face of the rampaging native armies, neither the Empire nor Evernight could establish a foothold.
At the end of the letter, Ji Tianqing left instructions on how to enter the underground space. One path was inside the fortress, but it had been sealed off. The other entrance was in a natural cave outside of the fortress.
Qianye picked up little Zhuji and, following the map, found the passage in the depths of the cave. There was a thick metal door at the end of the passage, with a neat row of tension bars attached to a series of mechanisms. The only way to open the door was to pull on the bars in a specific order.
This was the most primitive type of combination lock. Qianye couldn’t help but praise the first people to construct this fortress—they could only bring a limited number of items when entering the Great Maelstrom, some precision instruments at most. Everything here, including the basic tools, had to be produced locally. Even the iron was smelted inside the Great Maelstrom.
Up, up, down, down, down, up. Qianye opened the great door according to the combination and entered the underground space.
Half of the space was excavated, while the other half was natural. The interior was clearly divided into a supply chamber, a workshop, and an armory. There were, of course, food supplies as well, enough for a thousand people to consume for three years. This went to show how ambitious the pioneers were. They had planned to transport the Imperial army into the Great Maelstrom and conquer this world entirely.
There were several crates in the component area with eye-catching markings upon them. Ji Tianqing and Li Kuanglan had already laid out the necessary components and left the blueprint on one of the crates. When the moment came, Qianye needed only to assemble the shuttle according to the diagram.
Those crates bore the mark of the Empire and the dark red label indicated that it was a high-value resource.
Qianye went around the underground chamber and noticed that there weren’t a lot of components left. Not counting the parts Ji Tianqing had assembled for him, there wasn’t even enough left to build a shuttle airship. Most importantly, there was only one kinetic engine capable of shuttling the vessel through the passage.
Engines installed on the shuttles were the top-products of the empire. They were small, powerful, and efficient affording the ship sufficient resistance against the pull of the void passage.
The Great Maelstrom would open once in several years and the quota was limited, so the supplies that could be brought in were a headache to the staff officers of the army. Kinetic engines were among the most important resources each time, but it was difficult to list them as a necessity. After all, the Empire had been operating in the area for so many years, and the fortress had never faced any real threat. There was no reason to prepare so many shuttles.
If it wasn’t for the fact that those inside the maelstrom were all top-characters of the Empire—and each of their deaths constituted a great loss—the Imperial forces might not even have left the shuttle parts.
Qianye moved the wooden crates to a naturally formed flat operating space. There, he opened the containers and laid the components neatly on the ground before beginning the assembly.
The shuttle was structurally quite simple—it was a small boat that could seat two people and had no extra space beyond the engine and passengers.
Be it the keel or the walls, everything was extremely sturdy and durable. They were made from selective materials and reinforced with origin arrays to protect the vessel body. Despite its simple structure, the small shuttle boat was of extraordinary value. Otherwise, how could it resist the adverse environment of the spatial tunnel?
The assembly wasn’t complicated, so Qianye was able to complete the entire process in half a day’s time. The original design of such shuttles was prepared for amateurs, so they really couldn’t make it very complicated. As long as one had enough origin power, they would be able to complete it by following the diagrams.
After assembling the small airship, Qianye put away all the extra materials and moved them back to storage. He then wiped away all traces around the assembly area, lest the natives find the mechanisms when they return. This was a necessary step. There was a shuttle before Qianye only because the people who had left before him had made ample preparations. Having benefited from someone else’s hard work, Qianye had to be considerate of those coming after him as well.
Qianye carried the little fellow into the shuttle and patted her little face. “Stop sleeping, let’s go home.”
Zhuji forced her eyes open and muttered, “Home? Which one?”
Looking at the lass’ sweet countenance, Qianye couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty. He had been drifting about for many years and rarely had a place to settle. The word “home” was already a blurry term to him, and it was all too distant now that Nighteye had awakened.
Zhuji was a born miracle. That evil Song Zining had been using the girl in dangerous situations, going so far as to throw her out to block a divine champion’s blow. However, Qianye felt that he wasn’t any better, either. He was either bringing her to the battlefield to spray poison or leaving her at home.
Qianye sighed as he entered the shuttle and closed the door. He then injected daybreak origin power into the control panel. The lights in the cockpit lit up one after the other, and the engine began to rumble as they took to the air.
Qianye locked onto the entrance of the passage with his perception and increased the origin power output of the protective barrier. The engine roared louder and louder until the barrier was at its maximum power, at which point the shuttle flew into the tunnel like a comet, and finally vanished.
This void passage was much stabler than the one in the neutral lands. The gravitational forces inside were still strong, but it wasn’t beyond the capabilities of the shuttle. The strength of the defensive barrier decreased steadily, but it would still last a good while.
This so-called stability was a relative description. The shuttle was still rocking like a small boat in the stormy sea.
The tempests began to intensify halfway through the journey, throwing the barrier power levels up and down. In the end, the shield dispersed entirely before the exit was in sight.
At this point, one could see that this small shuttle was actually a product the Empire had put a lot of effort into making. The vessel’s naked body was actually able to retain its shape despite having to endure the void storms. The airship walls, however, were starting to fill with cracks.
Qianye knew that the engine didn’t have enough power, so he injected his own origin power into the control system to power the shuttle’s arrays and reform the protective shield around important parts.
The benefits of the vessel’s small size became evident at this point. The designer knew that the engine wasn’t enough to last the entire journey and that the passengers would have to inject their own origin power.
Qianye was not inferior to a rank-seventeen expert in terms of origin power capacity, perhaps even greater than the more mediocre ones. He managed to lead the airship through the storm with great stability.
The exit finally appeared and Qianye’s shuttle shot out like a seabird.
The shuttle rushed out of the other end, as though it were popping out of a bubble, and glided slowly across the void. Sensing this familiar aura, Qianye knew that he had returned to the Empire.
There was a large continent moving slowly outside of the window. Qianye hadn’t figured out which continent this was before a squadron of cutting-edge Imperial warships surrounded him.
A small warship parked itself in front of Qianye’s shuttle, and one of the experts on its deck called out, “Who is in the shuttle? Report your identity.”
Qianye felt awkward, but he said after a while, “Qianye.”
The expert turned back to instruct one of his men, who ran back into the cabin to report.
Qianye sat quietly in the shuttle, waiting for further developments. He knew before his departure that the Imperial side of the tunnel would be heavily guarded. However, it wouldn’t be too difficult for Ji Tianqing and Li Kuanglan to help him settle this small problem.
He waited for a while before a warship without any emblems arrived from a distance. The blocking aircraft left with all the other warships in tow, in an apparent move to avoid the scene.
A feminine old man walked out onto the deck of the arriving airship. This well-groomed elder said in a gentle voice, “General Qianye, you’ve finally returned. I’ve been waiting here for some time.”
Qianye drove forward and boarded the warship with little Zhuji. He then greeted the elder appropriately, saying, “How should I address you?”
“My surname is Yang, I run errands for the Empress.” With that, the man produced a box that was half a meter long and passed it to Qianye. “I come bearing some words and a gift.”
Qianye received the long box and asked in surprise, “What is this?”
Eunuch Yang ignored the question. “The Empress thinks you did well and bestows upon you this little toy. My job is done now that you’ve received the item.”
Liked it? Take a second to support Novels on Patreon!