The Record of Unusual Creatures

Chapter 123: Spacecraft Number 883

Chapter 123: Spacecraft Number 883

Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

A gigantic space ship floated at the dock. The scene was so surreal, Hao Ren reckoned that he did not have to watch Hollywood sci-fi movies anymore.

It was rather hard to measure the enormous scale of the ship with his eyes alone. Its total length was that of a mountain range. The ship was adorned with a sky blue emblem. Beneath it, a faint, base coat of grey and silver was visible. Hao Ren was not sure if the spacecraft was already originally like that or it was the result of many rounds of modification and refitting. The ship itself was shaped like a wedge. The tapering of its body was smooth and along the body, one could see converging lines that demarcated the different parts of the ship. Much like the catamarans on Earth, it had four parts instead of the usual two. The larger body of the ship was facing the connecting pier of the dock while the smaller part was facing the exit. Beyond it, a sea of stars glittered brightly. A series of light nodes were flashing across to broadcast messages. Against the dark space, they appeared like fireflies dancing about in the night.

Under the belly of the spacecraft, four massive, metallic beams connected it to the dock (Hao Ren was pretty sure they were not steel.) The platform on the beams were made of some translucent, crystalline mesh. It was almost like those see-through glass bridges, only this was in space. Faint glows emanated from the beams as though they were interfacing with the outer body of the spacecraft.

"Those are gravitational docking equipment." The guide explained as she could tell this was probably the first time Hao Ren had seen this sort of thing. "The beams are part of the equipment to hold docking ships in place. They also serve as accelerator catapults or docking navigation aid for older types of ships. As you can see, there are not many civilizations in this universe that have advanced spacefaring technology." Her explanation was concise and as professional as one could get.

Hao Ren nodded and returned his gaze to the entry or exit way of the dock. He then caught sight of other ships slowly making their way towards the dock. The guide also noticed his gaze and added, "This is a large, interstellar relay station and the ships you see are either leaving or entering the dock. The dock is manned by highly advanced A.I and you can see hundreds of ships passing through every day.

Hao Ren gasped. He pointed towards the spacecraft in front of him. "How big is this actually? It looks like a ... space fortress..."

"Actually, it is not big at all." The guide smiled. "It's a civilian, dual-use transport craft. Among the ships registered, it is considered a medium-sized ship. The total length of the ship is 3.2 kilometers and it is equipped with a basic extended cargo hold. For some of the early civilizations, this could be considered a giant spacecraft but... for you people, is it really that big?"

Hao Ren was stunned for a moment and he could not figure out what "for you people" actually meant. It took him a good few seconds to realize his position: An employee of the Xi Ling Empire's Space Administration. While he was still a newbie, this was only apparent within the organization itself. For outsiders, there were no differences between a newbie or veteran inspector. The guide probably saw Hao Ren as an important person from the Space Administration. It then dawned on him that his duty to preserve the Empire's name was a big one and he nodded solemnly. "Yes, but of course, I'm not comparing it to the ones in the Empire..."

The MDT rumbled in his head, "Keep the act up, will you. You probably haven't seen anything from the Empire that can fly aside from me."

"I have. Raven 12345's manor. Not only can it fly, it can do so upside down."

The MDT kept silent.

By then, the guide had taken out a device and activated it, probably to send a signal to the other workers in the dock. She beckoned Hao Ren to follow her. "I'll be taking my leave after you see the captain."

Hao Ren followed the guide. He looked down towards the docking area and saw a bunch of people on the platform. They seemed like dockworkers from where he stood. The small group there pretty much encapsulated Hao Ren's imagination of aliens. There were humans like him in the group and also hairy, dwarfish creatures. There was one with a weird, glass helmet on. In it was some form of aquatic being while another two, were gnomish creatures with dark green skin. He took a deep breath upon seeing them. He finally met aliens from outer space. He could not grasp the feeling of actually stepping into the vast galaxy until now...

While the bunch of people looked all weird to him, Hao Ren noticed that all of them donned a similar jumpsuit with a triangular emblem embossed on the chest area. It was the same emblem that he saw on the spacecraft he would be traveling on and surmised that they were probably the crew. The guide led Hao Ren to greet them. After that, they stood before a giant man with a playful grin on his face. "Captain, I've brought your guests here. I'll leave them in your good hands.

"Right," the captain answered. He was a big person with a squarish face which matched his frame. His shirt looked like it would rip apart at any time. He seemed to be very familiar with the guide as he smiled at her. "Tell old Lavaer, I'll be coming back with a better bottle next time and tell him to prepare his wallet for a beating."

The guide giggled as she bowed. As she turned around, a slight distortion in space occurred and she was gone.

"So... you three are the guests, huh?" The captain looked at the trio. "Uh.. may I know who is Sir Inspector again?"

Hao Ren had never been called "Sir" in his entire life and was taken aback by it. He quickly nodded. "I am. So... is there any pre-boarding procedure I need to follow?"

"You are on duty so, once you have verified your ID, we can do without all those pen-pushing nonsense," said the captain as he raised his hand, signaling the crew to allow the three to board. In his other hand, was a device which had a blue glow on its screen. "Scan your ID here..."

Before he could finish, the MDT flew out of Hao Ren's pocket. "I'm here. Lets get on with it."

Hao Ren could not even react as the MDT made its way to the captain and hovered over the scanner. A loud beep rang out a moment later to signify that his ID was verified.

Now that's a first; a self-collecting, self-verifying ticket!

"Ahem, so Sir Inspector and his assistants, welcome on board." The captain smiled as he showed them the way towards the boarding platform. "Interstellar Express Company Spacecraft Number 883 wishes you a pleasant journey."

Wuyue was the first to leap onto the platform. "Come on!" She waved at the rest.

Hao Ren simply followed the crowd in a daze after completing his pre-boarding verification. The platform then ferried them into the entry way, located at the underbelly of the ship. After floating about in a maze of pathways and storerooms for a while, they finally came to a wide, empty room. There, the captain mouthed his orders into the communication interface, "Alright, send the signal to the control tower. We are taking off!"

"How long do you reckon we'll take to get there?" Hao Ren just realized that he did not ask about the duration of the journey. He had no idea how 800 light years would work in terms of space travel. It finally registered that he was about to travel at light speed for the first time in his life. "It may sound odd to you but, this is the first time I'm boarding a spacecraft..."

"Oh, that's fine,.I heard of it from above," the captain said as he shook Hao Ren's hand with a mighty grip. The latter's bones could clearly be heard popping under the grip. "Will take you about a day. You can just rest in your cabin until we arrive. This girl here is one of the best beauties you can find in this part of the galaxy; seven years running. Oh right, you can call me 883..."

Hao Ren's dumbfounded face said it all. "... 883? Isn't that your ship's name?"

"I named her after me, silly." The captain named 883 laughed. "It's a tradition where I come from. A man should have his own ship with his own name. Our life is on the boat and the boat is our life, much like a second wife."

Hao Ren was at a loss for words.

He thought that the captain had something misconstrued at first but, he knew that different societies have different traditions that wildly differ from Earth and he left it at that.

The three of them were then led to their cabins by a member of the crew. To Hao Ren's surprise, it was almost like a studio suite with four bedrooms. Even though the interior design and the items in there were odd by human standards, Hao Ren could pretty much guess their usage from a glance. His conscience bit at him and he asked gingerly, "Don't think these rooms were specially prepared for us ,yeah?"

"No, this is your standard first class cabin." The crew member who was led them spoke. The man was a dark skinned, dwarf-like alien youth with a very serious look on his face. "This ship is a both a passenger and cargo craft. The starboard area D6 to D17 is purposely built for carriage of passengers. We also have a few luxurious suites for more discerning passengers. In fact, a good number of rooms were built for your typical carbon-based life form...but somehow, the cap'n derped out during the license application. So, we haven't had a passenger before, much less a passenger service department but, at the very least, please believe me when I say that the rooms are more than adequately equipped..."

Hao Ren could only look on in silence.

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