Happy 5th Year Anniversary! It is by far one of my favorite Matthia novels to date, so PLEASE check it out! This was a joint effort by everyone in ExR for our 5th Year Anniversary. Thank you, Addis, Rikko, Aphelios, Ceti, KarateChopMonkey, gaeatiamat, and Rara.
Chapter 3: The Unknown Explorer
Translated by Aphelios of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The gold-painted Pathfinder landed on the asteroid R-442-M. It retracted its wings, sent out its micro-robot and started to explore the air composition.
‘Pathfinder’ was both a model, and the name of a special unit. In a war three hundred years ago, humanity lost its home planet and most of the planets it had moved to. However, the martyrs of the past were able to achieve victory in a close battle, and turned the tides of events. Through countless battles and negotiations, humans were able to gradually reclaim their own world.
Now that peace had returned to the land, people were searching for the escape pods launched by their ancestors. The pods contained valuable cultural technologies that were saved from destruction by the war, and in them, were also held the heroic spirits who had voluntarily sacrificed themselves for this purpose.
The unit in charge of finding the escape pods was also named ‘Pathfinder.’ They have been searching tirelessly by sending experienced teams towards the location of the signals detected once every few decades. The micro-robot came back with its exploration results that the air was suitable for survival. The hatch of the craft opened and two soldiers stepped out.
The one around six feet was Parral, tall and young, with short blond hair and a childish look to his face. He looked to be only in his early twenties. The other man, eight feet tall, was Hai Feng, from the planet Sierras.
The Sierras people had dark red skin and strong bodies, as well as a long tail. It was said that Hai Feng, in comparison to other Sierrans, was relatively frail. Even so, in front of humans he was as strong as a small mountain.
The war of the past was between humans and the Sierrans. Three hundred years passed, and now the two sides had signed various friendship treaties to check and balance each other, so there was no longer any sort of armed conflict. In that currently cordial world, interaction between the two species had become more and more frequent. Parral met Hai Feng on a human space base. Hai Feng was once a journalist for the Sierrans, but now he was stranded in the human world.
“If what you are looking for is really here, what happens after that? What will you do?” Hai Feng asked.
“Return to the ship, of course.” Parral walked ahead, as he held onto his personal terminal. The Pathfinder terminal had detected a signal in the vicinity.
Hai Feng nodded. “If we really do find the ‘Star of Venus,’ then we might even be awarded some kind of honorary medal.”
The Star of Venus was the thing that was in the escape pod from three hundred years ago. People had given it that code name, and likened it to the star that lit up the sky in the early morning.
“Maybe. Maybe then…everyone will stop thinking of us as sinners.” Parral said.
“Stop attacking us, and stop using those vile words to describe us.” Hai Feng moved closer, then hooked his strong arms around Parral’s neck.
Parral turned around and kissed Hai Feng’s chin.
They were a pair of lovers. Being of the same gender wasn’t a barrier for people nowadays, but their relationship was still shocking to many. Because they belonged to different species.
What was especially important was that three hundred years ago the Sierrans had waged a war against humans. When Parral and Hai Feng’s relationship came to light, they became a scandal in the Expanders’ units. No one gave them their blessing, and there were even extreme dissenters who threatened them with death. Thus, they volunteered for a roving search mission, and flew a small craft far away from their base and home.
The air on asteroid R-442-M was suitable for humans to breathe, but there was a huge temperature difference between day and night. The nighttime temperatures were pleasant, while the daytime temperatures were extremely hot.
Parral and Hai Feng calculated the time of daylight, and began to penetrate the cave where the signal had been sent from.
Due to their limited excavation experience, their journey was marred with difficulties. Parral, already a tall man amongst humans, was always bumping himself against things. Then there was Hai Feng’s exaggerated height, which made it even more difficult for them. Fortunately, their personal terminals were able to map out the routes that they could take to avoid detours, and save time in their excavation.
Two hours before dawn, they finally found the door.
The Star of Venus was encased in dirt and rocks, revealed only by the small door in the tunnel, like a pearl hidden in a clam.
The two men screamed and shouted in excitement. They hugged and kissed each other, and even kissed the dirty metal skin of the small escape pod together. After they calmed down, they used a chemical solution to get the door of the escape pod open. Parral got in, and dragged the most critical part, the long container, out carefully.
While the escape pod had run out of energy, this vessel was still running. It was said that this vessel was also near the end of its life. If humans had still been unable to find it in the next few decades, then they probably would never be able to find it at all.
The pair were still excited as they returned back to the surface. They had succeeded. They had found what countless Pathfinders had been looking for.
“This is great! We can sail back early,” Parral said as he took the pilot’s seat and pumped a fist. “Hai Feng, send a contact signal to the large mothership nearby so we can save time…”
He paused halfway through the sentence. This was because Parral felt the cold muzzle of a gun against the back of his head.
Hai Feng pointed the gun at his head, while his long tail reached over and snatched away the pistol at Parral’s waist. That flexible tail could perform a lot of wonders during intimacy, and at times like this, it also gave Hai Feng an edge.
“Give me the control codes.” Hai Feng ordered.
Throughout their journey, it was Parral who had main control over the flying machine, and only he held all the original codes. Parral certainly wouldn’t be subdued so easily. He turned off the lighting system when Hai Feng wasn’t looking.
A bone chilling, destructive sound rang out in the cabin. Several beams of shooting light cut through the console and cabin upholstery, and occasionally illuminated the faces of the two men.
If it was hand to hand physical combat, humans were usually no match for Sierrans. The gun fell to the side and Hai Feng pinned Parral to the ground, as his thick palms choked him.
“I’m sorry, my dear,” Hai Feng said in an accented common tongue. “Our ‘honeymoon’ is coming to an end.”
“You’re a…spy.” Parral struggled desperately, yet his tone wasn’t questioning.
Hai Feng smiled, and increased the strength of his grip, yet he didn’t press too hard on the windpipe. He wanted Parral alive. He grabbed Parral by the neck, lifted him up and walked him to the hatch.
“What you are looking for is also what my superiors are looking for. Now that I’ve found it, I can finally get rid of you. Parral, in all these years, I haven’t once felt truly satisfied when sleeping with you. Your human bodies are so small and fragile that I was really afraid I’ll accidentally kill you. Listen, immediately hand over the control codes to me. If you obey, I can lock you in the Pathfinder escape pod and launch you outside. This way, you’ll still have a path to survival. If you refuse to cooperate on the other hand, I’ll break all the joints in your body, and throw you onto this planet so you can slowly taste the vicious heat of the day. ” Hai Feng jammed Parral’s neck, as his tail wandered downward over his waist and belly and the base of his thighs, just as it had in the past. “Choose for yourself, my dear.”
Parral surrendered. He gave him the password, and the location of the secret physical key. Hai Feng cuffed his hands as promised, and shoved him into a single-occupant escape pod.
Parral closed his eyes and meditated on the oath he had taken when he became a soldier, on the words he wanted to convey to his deceased loved ones, and on the name of the God he believed in.
Seconds later, there was a series of explosions outside the escape pod.
The ground shook, metal was torn apart, and the entire craft became twisted and distorted. Under the R-442-M asteroid’s morning sun, flames engulfed the spacecraft.
What he handed over to Hai Feng wasn’t the real code, and of course the secret key was also fake. Hai Feng didn’t get control of the spacecraft.
This was a self-destruct program designed for the Pathfinder a long time ago. When someone used the fixed backup code together with the wrong secret key, then tried to reboot the system to obtain complete control, the vehicle would shut down the control room itself, and kill the people inside.
Hai Feng had been deceiving Parral, yet Parral too, had been wary of Hai Feng. From the first day Hai Feng was partnered with him, this self-destruct system had been on standby every second of every day. All the time acting as a precautionary measure against that Sierran.
Parral had hoped he’d never have to use the program.
He opened the single escape pod from the inside and found that the other pod had been destroyed. The one he was in now was the sole one that remained.
He walked towards the Star of Venus, a coffin-like, life-support machine. Thanks to its unique material, it survived the explosion unscathed.
Parral used all his strength to haul it over and stuff it into the remaining single-occupant escape pod. His hands were still handcuffed so it was quite a struggle to accomplish. After he checked that it was properly placed, he set the call signal and coordinates for the escape pod to ensure that a mothership in the immediate vicinity could find it, and finally pressed the protruding button to launch it.
“Star of Venus, go illuminate our skies.” Parral sat crumpled on the ground and glanced in the direction of the burning spacecraft. He closed his eyes and waited for the embrace of the blazing fire.
The Landlord was awakened by a loud noise.
He sat up, rubbed his brow, and decided that the noise was coming from the Survivor’s room down in the hall. He walked over to the door, sleepy-eyed, and in his house clothes, then opened it only to be hit squarely in the nose by a straight punch. He fell to the ground with a scream, then cowered and shouted, “Stop! Stop! I’m not a bad person!”
The Landlord scrambled to his feet, ran back to his room and closed up the stairs. The Survivor below was left alone in the hallway to rage. The Landlord took out an ice pack, and watched the surveillance footage as he applied the cold compress.
The Survivors couldn’t open any doors until their hearts were ready to make a decision. Therefore, the Landlord wasn’t worried about him accidentally falling into another time or place.
This Survivor’s anger was something he’d never seen before. He kicked at every door, while he ranted and raved about something for several minutes before he stopped.
The Landlord observed carefully. The Survivor was wearing a silver protective suit with a military insignia on it. After that fuss and sweat, he took off the outer protective suit, to reveal long underwear that was also in a military style.
It looked like he came from some other, more technologically advanced world, and was a soldier.
“Sir, are you feeling better now?” The Landlord asked over the intercom.
It took the Landlord a long time to convince him that he wasn’t a ‘human traitor,’ or a ‘video projection from a Sierran.’ The Landlord carefully walked down the stairs. The soldier named Parral apologized to him with a red face.
Parral now basically understood his situation, and although he was still in shock, he at least finally realized that the Landlord wasn’t some evil person. As usual, the Landlord took him to the living room. They talked and drank coffee while they sat on the sofa, which was much better than standing in that long, weird corridor.
“Can’t I go back to my original universe?” Parral hung his head and asked, after he learned more about the dimensional rift.
“No,” the Landlord said. “In a single space-time continuum, each person can only experience their life’s journey once. Even if, for some reason, you are able to continue living, you will never be able to go back to your original world. It’s not that I won’t allow it, it simply can’t be done.”
The soldier nodded. He looked to be in a terrible state. The Landlord secretly compared him to the lady who had just left the other day. The lady had died in an accident, and after she woke up, she had been anxious to go back, and refused to accept the fact that she was dead in that world. She said her personal computer was filled with love novels and ‘love’ pictures. There were many love movies in her mobile storage devices as well. All those things were about handsome men, and they were her well preserved and precious collection. She said that if she died like that, others would find the contents on her computer. If that were to happen, she exclaimed, it would be more terrifying than if a meteorite crashed down.
It took the Landlord quite a while to help her regain her courage. Yet now, the Landlord felt that Parral’s situation would only get worse. Suddenly, there was another loud bang. Like someone was hitting the wall.
The soldier Parral’s reaction was quicker than the Landlord’s. He immediately stood up, alert.
The Landlord took Parral with him down to the Survivor’s room. Through the door, they could clearly hear someone inside, and that person was crying their heart out as they pounded on the wall. The Landlord and the soldier exchanged glances for a moment.
“Is that a human’s voice?” Parral asked.
“It seems to be…” The Landlord leaned close to the wall. The hissing sound in the room seemed to come from a human male, yet there wasn’t a single complete word coming out of his mouth. It seemed like he was in a state of extreme panic.
The Landlord straightened, “This is rare, welcoming two Survivors in one day.”