The song had an instant calming effect on its listeners. As a matter of fact, some men in the crowd started to openly weep. To regain a lost hope, that would appear to be the last straw that broke the camel's back, and their accumulated fear and anxiety flowed out in form of tears.
Nervously retrieving his outstretched leg, the shamed man uttered, "I'm sorry, I lost my… I'm sorry. I've lost my composure and sanity because of fear for a moment there. So… sorry…" He then slowly crumbled to the ground, shuddering in tears.
Sighing, Mark surveyed the extent of damage. Luckily, the communicator wasn't irreparably damaged. After some repairs, he would need another hour to complete the construction.
"Everyone please help me find the necessary tools!" Mark yelled without hesitation as he continued to work on the communicator.
Rallied by Mark's order, the crowd dispersed to look for possible parts. A small group even gathered around Mark, serving at his beck and call. Whenever he needed a component, they quickly handed one over. This sped up the progress tremendously and the product was finished under an hour.
A sizeable crowd gathered around Mark as he moved to put the communicator to the test. There was a sustained excitement and people had hope glinting in their eyes, waiting for response to come from the other end of the communicator…
"Hello, can you hear me? Is this the second level? Hello, is anyone there?" Mark said carefully, as he fine-tuned the frequency.
"…Yes, I hear you! Major, we just received a voice transmission from the third floor! Hello, this is the rescue unit. Please hold, the major is coming!"
Despair is, by definition, an absence of hope. An example was when man knew an asteroid was hurtling towards Earth, and they had no escape, that was despairing.
Thus, when hope was injected into the situation, feelings of despair would itself gradually dismantle. Case in point, when news came from the rescue unit, despair surrounding the crowd immediately dissolved. Serenity fell over the crowd as they moved calmly away from the cave in and lied down on the floor to rest and sleep.
Yao Yuan was overjoyed to receive communication from the industrial level. He wasn't expecting someone down there to construct a makeshift communicator but it was a welcomed boon. Things were made a lot easier with 2-way communication. For example, if the technicians down there could help build the air-insulated shuttle on their end, the manufacturing speed would be cut down by at least half an hour!
30 minutes! It might seem inconsequential but it was not a number to scoff at. The difference of 1 minute could save 3000 lives, much less 30 minutes?!
"Move! People, move!" Yao Yuan shouted with unbridled joy at the group of workers around him.
Fueled by the elation from establishing contact with their fellow citizens, the workers poured more effort into their work. Renewed energy could be heard in the multi-lingual affirmative response they replied Yao Yuan in.
Nevertheless, it must be understood that they were on a race against time, and their opponent was not one that was known to slack…
It had been 17 hours since the quake and the chute was 2/3 ready. It was 1 and a half hour away from completion. However, the acid bath in the third floor had reached critical condition. It could only hold for another 10 minutes before the plant within went berserk.
When Yao Yuan received this news, he marched over the Jay's side. Without a word, he sat down on a fallen boulder beside Jay. In the silence that followed, Yao Yuan even unconsciously went searching for his pack of smoke before realizing they were both wearing their spacesuits.
"…It has reached the critical stage, right?" Jay asked with a released breath.
Yao Yuan nodded his head in confirmation, "We have at most 10 minutes. I have the third level people be on close monitor of the plant, you still can rest for a while longer."
"That's fine. I would like to do some warm-ups just in case you want me to enter that state again within like 10 seconds. I'm not going through that again without preparation," Jay said as he lifted himself up from the boulder.
Yao Yuan opened his mouth to say something but he stopped himself. He only patted Jay on his shoulder before moving towards the work site.
Suddenly, Jay's voice came through his communicator, "Yao Yuan, you know full well that I'm a conman… I've conned for money, for benefits, for status, and if the feelings suit me, for fun. In fact you've seen through my act the first time you laid your eyes on me. So why do you still trust me?"
"This is about Planet Sahara right?" Yao Yuan replied without turning, but his every word fell heavily on Jay's heart.
"No one is born a conman, and nobody aspires to be one, but life often pushes one down a certain lane… It is not my place or anyone's place to judge where life leads us… Plus, Jay, there are many things one could say about a man who graciously offered to help a woman who doesn't have much to repay him gather water. You could say he's dumb, or maybe he's horny, but one thing you couldn't say is that…
He's a conman. He has nothing to con from this woman, it's not logical to say so."
At that point, Yao Yuan turned around and even though he stood a distance away, he stared Jay right in his eyes, "Jay, you are a man of your words… Your past and your memory don't define you, your power as the deceiver doesn't define you. In fact, it offers you the freedom to lie and thus puts you above the need to deceive! Jay, I will not fault you the failure of this mission because it is not your prerogative but mine, but remember that I do not see you as a conman!"
After Yao Yuan walked away, under the shadows of Jay's space helmet, a blithe smile broke.
"Is this what it feels like to be trusted? That idiot…"
After that exchange, Jay felt exceptionally calm, so calm that he could feel the conman label that had haunted him all his life peeling away…
"Okay, it's time to put this silver tongue to use. Come, alien plant, it's time to meet your maker!"
Jay chuckled darkly to himself before closing his eyes in meditation. He entered the mysterious state easily… That came as a shock to even Jay himself because he had been trying and failing to do so for the past few days.
Light orbs of varying intensity and size appeared around him. One of them was at least 10 times bigger than the rest and it glowed intensely.
(No, not these, the plants should be much lower…)
As Jay trained his focus downwards, slowly but surely, pinpricks of light appeared in a crowded cluster… and they radiated an eerie green glow!
(There you are… Now, you naïve plants, it's time to succumb to my art of lying…)
As time trudged on, concentration of the acid bath in the crystal reactor moved closer and closer to the critical stage. A sense of anxiety permeated not only the third floor residents but also the mining workers and technicians. Even the military was not free from its chilling effect, and their overall progress gradually slowed.
Yao Yuan wasn't going to hurry them because he too was lying in wait…
(I need to make a decision now! Either evacuate the mining party now to minimize fatality or wait for Jay to succeed and hope for the best!)
"This… this is unbelievable! Major, the acid bath's concentration is stabilizing! It's teetering near but not crossing the critical line! This is a miracle! the crystal reactor is still working! Has God heard our prayers?"
The message that came from the industrial level was greeted with a spirited cheer. Everyone resumed their work with fresh vitality…
"God? No, it's a man…" uttered a sighing Ren Tao as he stared perplexed at Jay who still had his eyes closed.
"No, it's a hero."
Came Yao Yuan's voice.
"A hero who we can place our trust in."