PART III Broadcast Era, Year 7 Cheng Xin
艾 AA told Cheng Xin that her eyes were even prettier and brighter than before, and perhaps she wasn’t lying. Cheng Xin had been mildly myopic before, but now she saw everything with extreme clarity, as though the world had been given a fresh coat of paint.
Six years had passed since their return from Australia, but the trials of the Great Resettlement and the intervening years seemed to have left no mark on AA. She was like a fresh, resilient plant that allowed the hardships of the past to roll off her smooth leaves. During these six years, Cheng Xin’s company had developed rapidly under AA’s management and become one of the prominent players in near-orbit space construction. But AA didn’t look like a powerful CEO; instead, she retained the look of a lively, fun young woman. Of course, that was not unusual in this age.
The six years hadn’t touched Cheng Xin either—she had spent them in hibernation. After their return from Australia, her blindness had been examined and diagnosed. It had started out as psychosomatic—the result of extreme emotional distress—but later developed into a detached retina followed by necrosis. The recommended treatment was to produce cloned retinas suitable for transplant out of stem cells developed from her DNA, but the process would take five years. Cheng Xin spending five years in complete darkness in her extremely depressed state would have led to total breakdown, and so the doctors allowed her to hibernate.
The world had indeed been refreshed. After receiving news of the gravitational wave universal broadcast, the whole world celebrated. Blue Space and Gravity became salvation ships out of myths, and the two crews became superheroes worshipped by all. The charge that Blue Space had committed suspected murder during the dark battles was withdrawn, and replaced with the affirmation that it had acted in justified self-defense after being attacked. Simultaneously, members of the Earth Resistance Movement who had persisted in a hopeless struggle during the Great Resettlement were also hailed as heroes. When those resistance fighters dressed in rags appeared before the public, everyone felt hot tears in their eyes. Blue Space, Gravity, and the Resistance became symbols of the grandness of the human spirit, and countless worshippers seemed to think that they themselves had also always possessed such spirit.
Retaliation against the Earth Security Force followed. Objectively speaking, the good done by the ESF far exceeded that done by the Resistance. The ESF had been able to protect the big cities and other basic infrastructure. Although they had done so for the benefit of Trisolaran civilization, their efforts allowed the world to recover economically after the Great Resettlement with minimal delay. During the post- resettlement evacuation of Australia, Australia almost plunged into total chaos multiple times due to the lack of
food and electricity, and it was the ESF that maintained order and kept supplies flowing, making it possible to complete the evacuation in four months. During that extraordinary, tumultuous time, if this well-equipped armed force had not been present, the results would have been unimaginably tragic. But none of these accomplishments were taken into account by the tribunals sitting in judgment over them. All ESF members were tried, and half were convicted of crimes against humanity. During the Great Resettlement, many nations revived capital punishment, and this persisted even after the return from Australia. During these five years, many former ESF members were executed, even though many among the cheering crowd had also submitted applications to the ESF.
Eventually, peace returned, and people began to rebuild their lives. As the cities and industrial infrastructure remained intact, recovery was rapid. Within two years, the cities had eliminated the scars from the chaotic times and recovered their pre-resettlement prosperity. Everyone resolved to enjoy life.
This tranquility was premised on this fact: When Luo Ji had conducted his dark forest experiment, 157 years had passed between when he first broadcast the coordinates of 187J3X1 to the universe and when that star was destroyed. That was equivalent to the life span of a modern human. To be sure, birthrates declined to their lowest levels in recorded history because no one wanted to bring a child into a world doomed to die. But most believed that they would be able to live out the rest of their days in peace and happiness.
The gravitational wave broadcast was far stronger than the Sun-amplified radio broadcast employed by Luo Ji, but humanity soon found refuge in a new way to comfort themselves: questioning the validity of dark forest theory itself.
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