Chapter 23 Red Coast VI
Novel：The Three-Bodyauthor：Cinxin Liu pubdate：2019-02-14 15:01
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Chapter 23 Red Coast VI
The next eight years were among the most peaceful of Ye Wenjie's life. The horror experienced during the Cultural Revolution gradually subsided, and she was finally able to relax a little. The Red Coast Project completed its testing and breaking-in phases, settling down into routine operation. Fewer and fewer technical problems remained, and both work and life became regular.
In peace, what had been suppressed by anxiety and fear began to re-awaken. Ye found that the real pain had just begun. Nightmarish memories, like embers coming back to life, burned more and more fiercely, searing her heart. For most people, perhaps time would have gradually healed these wounds. After all, during the Cultural Revolution, many people suffered fates similar to hers, and compared to many of them, Ye was relatively fortunate. But Ye had the mental habits of a scientist, and she refused to forget. Rather, she looked with a rational gaze on the madness and hatred that had harmed her.
Yes rational consideration of humanity's evil side began the day she read Silent Spring. As she grew closer to Yang Weining, he was able to get her many classics of foreign-language philosophy and history under the guise of gathering technical research materials. The bloody history of humanity shocked her, and the extraordinary insights of the philosophers also led her to understand the most fundamental and secret aspects of human nature.
Indeed, even on top of Radar Peak, a place the world almost forgot, the madness and irrationality of the human race were constantly on display. Ye saw that the forest below the peak continued to fall to the deranged logging by her former comrades. Patches of bare earth grew daily, as though those parts of the Greater Khingan Mountains had had their skin torn off. When those patches grew into regions and then into a connected whole, the few surviving trees seemed rather abnormal. To complete the slash-and-burn plan, fires were lit on the bare fields, and Radar Peak became the refuge for birds escaping the fiery inferno. As the fires raged, the sorrowful cries of birds with singed feathers at the base never ceased.
The insanity of the human race had reached its historical zenith. The Cold War was at its height. Nuclear missiles capable of destroying the Earth ten times over could be launched at a moment's notice, spread out among the countless missile silos dotting two continents and hidden within ghostlike nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines patrolling deep under the sea. A single Lafayette- or Yankee-class submarine held enough warheads to destroy hundreds of cities and kill hundreds of millions, but most people continued their lives as if nothing was wrong.
As an astrophysicist, Ye was strongly against nuclear weapons. She knew this was a power that should belong only to the stars. She knew also that the universe had even more terrible forces: black holes, anti-matter, and more. Compared to those forces, a thermonuclear bomb was nothing but a tiny candle. If humans obtained mastery over one of those other forces, the world might be vaporized in a moment. In the face of madness, rationality was powerless.
Four years after entering Red Coast Base, Ye and Yang married. Yang truly loved her. For love, he gave up his future.
The fiercest stage of the Cultural Revolution was over, and the political climate had grown somewhat milder. Yang wasn't persecuted, exactly, for his marriage. However, because he married a woman who had been deemed to be a counter-revolutionary, he was viewed as politically immature and lost his position as chief engineer. The only reason that he and his wife were allowed to stay on the base as ordinary technicians was because the base could not do without their technical skills.
Ye accepted Yang's proposal mainly out of gratitude. If he hadn't brought her into this safe haven in her most perilous moment, she would probably no longer be alive. Yang was a talented man, cultured and with good taste. She didn't find him unpleasant, but her heart was like ashes from which the flame of love could no longer be lit.
As she pondered human nature, Ye was faced with an ultimate loss of purpose and sank into another spiritual crisis. She had once been an idealist who needed to give all her talent to a great goal, but now she realized that all that she had done was meaningless, and the future could not have any meaningful pursuits, either. As this mental state persisted, she gradually felt more and more alienated from the world. She didn't belong. The sense of wandering in the spiritual wilderness tormented her. After she made a home with Yang, her soul became homeless.
One night, Ye was working the night shift. This was the loneliest time. In the deep silence of midnight, the universe revealed itself to its listeners as a vast desolation. What Ye disliked most was seeing the waves that slowly crawled across the display, a visual record of the meaningless noise Red Coast picked up from space. Ye felt this interminable wave was an abstract view of the universe: one end connected to the endless past, the other to the endless future, and in the middle only the ups and downs of random chance—without life, without pattern, the peaks and valleys at different heights like uneven grains of sand, the whole curve like a one-dimensional desert made of all the grains of sand lined up in a row, lonely, desolate, so long that it was intolerable. You could follow it and go forward or backward as long as you liked, but you'd never find the end.
On this day, however, Ye saw something odd when she glanced at the waveform display. Even experts had a hard time telling with the naked eye whether a waveform carried information. But Ye was so familiar with the noise of the universe that she could tell that the wave that now moved in front of her eyes had something extra. The thin curve, rising and falling, seemed to possess a soul. She was certain that the radio signal before her had been modulated by intelligence.
She rushed to another terminal and checked the computer's rating of the signal's recognizability: AAAAA. Before this, no radio signal received by Red Coast ever garnered a recognizability rating above C. An A rating meant the likelihood that the transmission contained intelligent information was greater than 90 percent. A rating of AAAAA was a special, extreme case: It meant the received transmission used the exact same coding language as Red Coast's own outbound transmission.
Ye turned on the Red Coast deciphering system. The software attempted to decipher any signal whose recognizability rating was above B. During the entire time that the Red Coast Project had been running, ilt had never been invoked even once in real use. Based on test data, deciphering a transmission suspected of being a message might require a few days or even a few months of computing time, and the result would be failure more than half the time. But this time, as soon as the file containing the original transmission was submitted, the display showed that the deciphering was complete.
Ye opened the resulting document, and, for the first time, a human read a message from another world.
The content was not what anyone had imagined. It was a warning repeated three times.
Do not answer!
Do not answer!!
Do not answer!!!
Still caught up by the dizzying excitement and confusion, Ye deciphered a second message.
This world has received your message.
I am a pacifist in this world. It is the luck of your civilization that I am the first to receive your message. I am warning you: Do not answer! Do not answer!! Do not answer!!!
There are tens of millions of stars in your direction. As long as you do not answer, this world will not be able to ascertain the source of your transmission.
But if you do answer, the source will be located right away. Your planet will be invaded. Your world will be conquered!
Do not answer! Do not answer!! Do not answer!!!
As she read the flashing green text on the display, Ye was no longer capable of thinking clearly. Her mind, inhibited by shock and excitement, could only understand this: No more than nine years had passed since the time she had sent the message to the sun. Then the source of this transmission must be around four light-years away. It could only have come from the closest extra-solar stellar system: Alpha Centauri(*34).
[Translator's Note(*34). Alpha Centauri. though appearing to the naked eve as a single star, is actually a double-star system (Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B). A third star, called Proxima Centauri and invisible to the naked eye, is probably gravitationally associated with the double-star system. The Chinese name for the objects (Pinyin: BanRenMa Zuo San Xing半人马座三星) makes it cleat that the ""star" is really a system of three stars.]
The universe was not desolate. The universe was not empty. The universe was full of life! Humankind had cast their gaze to the end of the universe, but they had no idea that intelligent life already existed around the stars closest to them!
Ye stared at the waveform display: The signal continued to stream from the universe into the Red Coast antenna. She opened up another interface and began real-time deciphering. The messages began to show up immediately on the screen.
During the next four hours, Ye learned of the existence of Trisolaris, learned of the civilization that had been reborn again and again, and learned of their plan to migrate to the stars.
At four in the morning, the transmission from Alpha Centauri ended. The deciphering system continued to run uselessly and emitted an unceasing string of failure codes. The Red Coast monitoring system was once again only hearing the noise of the universe.
But Ye was certain that what she had just experienced was not a dream.
The sun really was an amplifying antenna. But why had her experiment eight years ago not received any echoes? Why had the waveforms of Jupiter s radio outbursts not matched the later radiation from the sun? Later, Ye came up with many reasons. It was possible that the base communication office couldn't receive radio waves at that frequency, or maybe the office did receive the echo but it sounded like noise and so the operator thought it was nothing. As for the waveforms, it was possible that when the sun amplified the radio waves, it also added another wave to it. It would likely be a periodic wave that could be easily filtered out by the alien deciphering system, but to her unaided eye, the waveform from Jupiter and from the sun would appear very different. Years later, after Ye had left Red Coast, she would manage to confirm her last guess: The sun had added a sine wave.
She looked around alertly. There were three others in the main computer room. Two of the three were chatting in a corner, while the last was napping before a terminal. In the data analysis section of the monitoring system, only the two terminals in front of her could view the recognizability rating of a signal and access the deciphering system.
Maintaining her composure, she worked quickly and moved all of the received messages to a multiply-encrypted, invisible sub-directory. Then she copied over a segment of noise received a year ago as a substitute for the transmission received during the last five hours.
Finally, from the terminal, she placed a short message into the Red Coast transmission buffer.
Ye got up and left the monitoring main control room. A chilly wind blew against her feverish face. Dawn had just brightened the eastern sky, and she followed the dimly lit pebble-paved path to the transmission main control room. Above her, the Red Coast antenna lay open silently, like a giant palm toward the universe. The dawn turned the guard at the door into a silhouette, and as usual, he did not pay attention to Ye as she entered.
The transmission main control room was much dimmer than the monitoring main control room. Ye passed through rows of cabinets to stand in front of the control panel and flipped more than a dozen switches with practiced ease to warm up the transmission system. The two men on duty next to the control panel looked up at her with sleepy eyes, and one turned to glance at the clock. Then one of them went back to his nap while the other flipped through a well-thumbed newspaper. At the base, Ye had no political status, but she did have some freedom in technical matters. She often tested the equipment before a transmission. Although she was early today—the transmission wasn't scheduled to occur until three hours later—warming up a bit early wasn't that unusual.
What happened next was the longest half hour of her life. During this time, Ye adjusted the transmission frequency to the optimal frequency for amplification by the solar energy mirror, and increased the transmission power to maximum. Then, putting her eyes to the eye-piece of the optical positioning system, she watched the sun rise above the horizon, activated the positioning system for the antenna, and slowly aligned it with the sun. As the gigantic antenna turned, the rumbling noise shook the main control room. One of the men on duty looked at Ye again, but said nothing.
The sun was now completely above the horizon. The crosshair of the Red Coast positioning system was aimed at its upper edge to account for the time it would take for the radio wave to travel to the sun. The transmission system was ready.
The Transmit button was a long rectangle—very similar to the Space key on a computer keyboard, except that it was red.
Yes hand hovered two centimeters above it.
The fate of the entire human race was now tied to these slender fingers.
Without hesitation, Ye pressed the button.
"What are you doing?" one of the men on duty asked, still sleepy.
Ye smiled at him and said nothing.
She pressed a yellow button to stop the transmission. Then she moved the control stick until the antenna was pointed elsewhere. She left the control panel and walked away.
The man looked at his watch. It was time to get off work. He picked up the diary and thought about recording Ye's operation of the transmission system. It was, after all, out of the ordinary. But then he looked at the paper tape and saw that she had transmitted for no more than three seconds. He tossed the diary back, yawned, put on his army cap, and left.
The message that was winging its way to the sun said, Come here! I will help you conquer this world. Our civilization is no longer capable of solving its own problems. We need your force to intervene.
The newly risen sun dazzled Ye Wenjie. Not too far from the door of the main control room, she collapsed onto the lawn in a faint.
When she woke up, she found herself in the base clinic. Next to her bed sat Yang, watching her with concern, like that time many years ago on the helicopter. The doctor told Ye to be careful and get plenty of rest.
"You are pregnant," he said.
Chapter 23 Vocabulary Note
breaking-in - to run a machine in order to make it run more smoothly before putting to actual use
ember - a piece of wood or coal that stays red and very hot after a fire has stopped burning
searing - extremely hot
deranged - if someone is deranged, they behave in a crazy, uncontrolled or dangerous way, usually because they are mentally ill
inferno - an extremely large and dangerous fire
singe - to burn the surface of something slightly, or to be burned slightly
zenith - the highest point
silo - a large structure under the ground from which a missile can be fired
ballistic - to suddenly become very angry
safe haven - a place where someone can go in order to escape from possible danger or attack
perilous - very dangerous
desolation - desolate - 1 a place that is desolate is empty and looks sad because there are no people there
interminable - very long and boring
grain - a single very small piece of a substance such as sand or salt
modulate - to change the form of a radio signal so that it can be broadcast more effectively
terminal - a remote input or output device linked to a computer e.g. a keyboard and video display
outbound - traveling away from rather than toward a place
invoked - to use a computer program
composure - the state of feeling or seeming calm
buffer - a place in a computer's memory for storing information temporarily
feverish - very excited so you feel like having a fever
silhouette - a dark image, shadow, or shape that you see against a light background
well-thumbed - a well-thumbed book, magazine etc has been used a lot
crosshair - a grid of fine lines in the focus of an optical instrument, used for determining the scale or position of what is being looked at
wing its way - to go somewhere quickly
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