Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 233: The Last Day
It rained heavily near the Shade Refuge.
Though the refuge itself was underground, the moisture of the soil in the air was much thicker than before. Guan Haiming sneezed, rubbed his nose, and continued to process the mountain of program files in front of him. Ding Zepeng found a place in his office, moved over a table and chair for himself, and studied the string of data quite seriously.
The familiar pain in his head suddenly appeared. Guan Haiming sighed. He glanced at Ding Zepeng’s back and didn’t turn on the alcohol music again, but instead honestly took medicine from the shelf and swallowed it with water.
A large light screen hung in the air, showing a pattern of no signal. After night fell, Major Ding would send some brief messages from time to time. Recently, the nearby petri dishes had been under martial law. For some reason, there had been a lot of Order Supervisors in the forest petri dish, so the frequency of Major Ding’s contact had been a lot lower.
[What are they looking for?] Major Ding once said. [Tell your people to stay honest and don’t go to places where there are remnants of buildings. It happened to be rainy recently, so it’s good to narrow down the scope of activities. The Mainbrain shouldn’t suspect anything.]
Then he would send back at most one or two sentences a day.
However, Professor Ruan’s contact filled the gap. After briefly informing Tian He of the scope of activities, Guan Haiming focused almost all his energy on improving the fragment of the attack program. Although Ding Zepeng was mediocre in medicine, he had shown amazing talent in program research. So far, the progress on their side was going smoothly.
Of course, the sense of urgency was indispensable, but Guan Haiming had never felt so relieved.
“Haiming, I don’t understand much of the design here.”
Ding Zepeng scratched his short hair and approached with a floating light screen. He hadn’t been out for a few months, so his skin was a lot paler, and his temperament was like that of Major Ding. Even if it was a false memory, the impact was still huge—Xiao Ding had become a lot calmer, but inside, he still kept his simple nature.
“According to this algorithm, the efficiency improvement of the unit diffusion is 79%.” He gestured to one of the codes. “But if you change this to this… like this, you see. This can increase the value to 87%. I don’t understand why we’re not using it like that. Is there some potential problem?”
“Let me see.” Guan Haiming dragged the light screen in front of him. “…Such changes may affect the efficiency of another part, but what you said is quite interesting. With a little change, it’s possible to reach 82%. Great job.”
Ding Zepeng smiled sheepishly and rubbed his nose. Before he moved his fingers away, the light screen in the center of the room suddenly lit up.
“The defense network northeast of Petri Dish No. 1306 has an abnormal reading.” Major Ding narrowed his eyes at the two people in front of him; his tone was a little subtle. “I’ve suppressed it. There are two inexplicable characters in the conventional detection data.”
Major Ding directly responded to Guan Haiming with text.
“I see.” Guan Haiming remembered that Professor Ruan once told him that this was a symbol that NUL-00 loved to use, but he had not received notice that NUL-00 would come here. “It’s a matter on our side. I’ll take things over from here. Thank you.”
Major Ding glanced at the room gloomily, snorted softly, and cut off the communication.
Unfortunately, by the time the rescue team arrived at the location of the anomaly, they didn’t see any characters who might be NUL-00—four people were standing in the wet forest, two men and two women; among them was a teenager.
After a brief inspection, they were brought to Guan Haiming’s office.
“Who are you guys?” Guan Haiming recognized Yu Le, but he had little impression on the rest of them. His gaze lingered quite a while on Ji Xiaoman, who was wearing an Order Supervisor’s uniform.
“This is Ji Xiaoman, our mechanic. She’s not with the Order Supervisors.” Yu Le wiped his wet hair with a towel. “The rebellious girl over there is called A’Qiao. She’s an android with a cybernetic brain—can barely count as a fighting force, so don’t mind her. The kid is just a picky bear*. He didn’t like the Underground City, so we can only bring him here. We have to trouble you for a while.”
*This is referencing the bear breaking corn metaphor explained in chapter 142.
“Hey!” Zhong Qing yelled dissatisfied.
“A’Qiao can look after Zhong Qing, so you don’t have to find someone to babysit him. Just give them something to eat.” Yu Le ignored Zhong Qing’s protest. “I heard that your treatment is okay. It’s not a problem to feed two mouths. We’ll pay for the nanny.”
“Teacher asked you to come?”
“Sort of.” Yu Le shifted his gaze. “To be precise, we are NUL-00’s companions. Professor Ruan doesn’t know about this yet, so there’s no need for us to voice it.”
Guan Haiming squinted suspiciously.
“Anyway, get these two kids out of here first. It’s not convenient to say some things in front of the children.”
When Ding Zepeng smilingly took A’Qiao and Zhong Qing away, Yu Le smiled and gave Ji Xiaoman a wink. The latter nodded, made a face, and then activated the wristband. A figure that Guan Haiming was extremely familiar with appeared in the room.
“STR-Y type 307a231 is at your service.” Tang Yibu’s phantom made a grimace at Guan Haiming.
“……?” Guan Haiming didn’t react for a moment.
“I’ve been in the Shade Refuge long enough, Mr. Guan. I know this place like the back of my hand. If you don’t cooperate or try to reveal anything to Professor Ruan, I’ll be the first to block off your communication.” Tang Yibu continued with a smile, “Don’t worry, I won’t let you do anything that will wrong Professor Ruan. You just need to help keep it a secret for us for the next 24 hours.”
“231? ……What are you doing?”
“Your teacher calls me NUL-00,” Tang Yibu’s phantom continued. “This name is very troublesome. I prefer the name Tang Yibu. As for the evidence… I just inserted 43 ‘:D’ in the fragment attack program given to you by Professor Ruan. You can count it later—I checked this confidential program for him, so I know how to break it.”
When he talked with Ruan Lijie, Guan Haiming was indeed curious about where 231 had gone. Considering the constant crisis outside, he once thought that 231 was damaged, and Ruan Lijie didn’t know how to mention it.
Regarding external matters of the outside world, Professor Ruan would only give him the necessary basic information. After hearing that NUL-00 was still around, Guan Haiming also imagined its form, but he never thought that the “predecessor” of MUL-01 was this thing that had dawdled in their base for two years.
For a while, he didn’t know what attitude he could take to face the smirking predecessor of the Mainbrain, so he chose to remain silent.
…Fortunately, Ding Zepeng wasn’t here. Otherwise, as a person who had been on the team with this guy for so long, Xiao Ding would develop a psychological shadow.
“For 24 hours, I want to try and attack the Mainbrain in my own way. Please also provide Mr. Yu and Miss Ji with some shelter and resource support, while also keeping it a secret for 24 hours.”
Tang Yibu ignored Guan Haiming’s expression.
“There’s no need to call your personnel. You can continue to work on your own program research. Of course, this is me putting it politely. If you don’t agree, I can only forcibly block this place for 24 hours—I don’t think you can finish studying those attack programs within 24 hours.”
…Then why else discuss this? Just block and do it. Considering the identity of the other party, Guan Haiming had to swallow back his words.
After saying this, Tang Yibu was stunned for a moment. He reacted quickly, with a little pride in his tone. “I’ve considered that such enforcement may hurt your feelings, so I decided to discuss it with you.”
Guan Haiming wiped his face, still trying to digest the fact that he had “repaired” NUL-00.
“Alright.” He glanced at the stack of data on the top of the table. “:D” had suddenly appeared in dazzling numbers, giving him a faint sense of irritability. “In 24 hours, I will report to Professor Ruan immediately. Until then, I’ll provide Mr. Yu and Miss Ji with room and board and resources to help… But like you said, I’m very busy now. At most, I’ll find someone to show them the way. Our people will not participate in any battles.”
“Deal.” Tang Yibu blinked. “As a reward, I just helped you pick out all the bugs in the modified version of the attack program, right next to all those ‘:D’.”
Guan Haiming rubbed his temples, only feeling that his head was hurting even more. He sighed and glanced at Yu Le and Ji Xiaoman in front of him.
“Thank you,” he responded weakly. “By the way, there is a strange rattle on your side. It’s recommended that you check the safety of your surroundings.”
“Don’t worry, that’s our driver.”
“Fuck, fuck, fuck. Wait, Tang Yibu, what are you talking about? Wait for me—” Yu Le rushed to the light screen with a single stride, but unfortunately, Tang Yibu had already terminated the communication.
“You shouldn’t have told them,” Ruan Xian stated euphemistically inside the armored off-roader that was driving at high speed.
The steering wheel of the armored off-roader was completely destroyed by A’Qiao. During the six hours it took to get to the forest refuge, Tang Yibu and Ji Xiaoman devoted all their energy to making the planned machinery and equipment, so there was no time to repair it.
Naturally, Tang Yibu could drive like A’Qiao did—connect the circuit to his electronic wristband and manipulate it using his cybernetic brain. However, as the only remaining combatant in this car, Tang Yibu may need to leave the car to fight at any time, so there was only one solution for them…
At the beginning, Ji Xiaoman had made a “driving bowl” for the iron bead, and now it had come in handy again. The iron bead happily sank into the metal bowl and started driving the car. Perhaps because it was feeling too good to be able to drive at such a fast speed, it barked excitedly, rattling a little tune.
Tang Yibu and Ruan Xian stayed in the back seat row and continued their work.
It was already dawn, and after sending the remaining four people to the forest refuge, the armored off-roader embarked on its final journey—moving at full speed in the direction of the Mainbrain’s body.
“Are you sure it’s there?” The seat was still flattened. Tang Yibu was lying on the makeshift bed as dozens of light screens floated and swam around him, with data quickly flashing on them.
Ruan Xian checked the machinery that Ji Xiaoman and Tang Yibu had rushed to put together.
“I stayed for several months on that day in 2100, so I’m pretty sure. Before launching the Great Rebellion, the Mainbrain must have considered how to protect its body—if the Great Rebellion had just begun and it was shut down by physical means, that would be such a joke. I have calculated the map at the time, as well as the corresponding environmental and facility requirements, so its new location must be near the great desert, south of the Android Show.”
“Close,” Tang Yibu muttered, drawing his hand twice on the nearest light screen.
“With a general area, it’ll be easy to find.” Ruan Xian stretched out his hand and stroked the back of the person next to him, motioning the other party to feel at ease. “How is the situation on your side?”
“During the conversation just now, I captured another fifteen strongholds… Well, I harassed fifteen strongholds.” Tang Yibu grinned. “If MUL-01 can get angry, it’s expected to be furious at me.”
As expected, Yu Le’s escape caused the small stronghold to fall into chaos. In the face of a chaos of this scale, the Mainbrain was bound to mobilize troops from nearby strongholds to suppress it.
However, whenever it mobilized troops from a stronghold, Tang Yibu took advantage of the gap in security to enter, snatched all the soft persimmons, and harassed these weak strongholds—for example, seizing control of several armed robots, bombing east to west, and setting off fireworks in the stronghold’s arsenals.
Tang Yibu didn’t move against the big strongholds but insisted on making a mess of these smaller strongholds without causing any fatal injuries. Going on the premise that the Mainbrain firmly believed “this was all Professor Ruan’s instructions”, Tang Yibu’s actions could only be thought of as particularly confusing…
The target wasn’t at any military base. These attacks had no strategic significance other than to create a short period of confusion. Unable to understand the purpose of the other side, MUL-01 wouldn’t draw its troops from the large strongholds to suppress this. Tang Yibu’s technical level was comparable to it, and the firewall of the small stronghold wasn’t as tight, so it couldn’t solve these annoying intrusions in such a short time. Thus, it could only accompany Tang Yibu in continuing to play this kind of whack-a-mole-like disaster of a game.
Just six hours.
Centered on the small stronghold that Yu Le destroyed, hundreds of small and medium-sized strongholds around it were more or less plunged into chaos. Red smiley faces floated everywhere on various screens, and some armed robots went crazy, blasting the walls of the small stronghold to kingdom come. If they were lucky, some of the attacks managed to hit the arsenal room, setting off waves of fire and explosions.
“I don’t know if the Mainbrain is angry or not, but Zhuo Muran certainly is.” Ruan Xian looked at Tang Yibu’s light screen that was blinking red dots and couldn’t help but laugh out loud. “Did you encounter any problems with poor connection during the attack?”
“No, as long as you focus on one point, the attack is quite efficient.” Tang Yibu commanded the light screens and let them swim back and forth in the dimly lit area. “It’s more efficient than attacking by myself… Let’s see, about 10 times more.”
Ruan Xian looked at Tang Yibu, who was in high spirits. He stroked the buzzing machinery that was humming with his fingers. “It seems that the connection performance of this thing is up to standard. Professor Ruan didn’t take his backup plan lightly. It’s a good design.”
“Most people wouldn’t be able to modify it in such a short period of time.” Tang Yibu turned his face sideways. “I’m pretty good, no?”
“Yes.” Ruan Xian leaned over and buried his nose in Tang Yibu’s hair. He kissed the top of his head and said, “You’re very good.”
‘One more day,’ he thought.
In another 24 hours, both this ridiculous world and his own heart would get an answer.
The author has something to say:
One more day left—XD
Tang: Burrowing around
Mainbrain: This mole has no temper√