Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 239: Call For Help
He must be crazy, as only a madman would accompany another madman to do crazy things.
While Yu Le mulled over this thought in his head, he followed Ji Xiaoman’s fingertips with his eyes. The little girl patiently explained the meaning of the parameters, and the uneasiness in her voice slowly disappeared.
At first, Yu Le had a casual listening attitude, but after listening for a while, he found that things weren’t as complicated as he thought—the difficulty wasn’t in the complexity of the operation skill, but rather in the reaction ability and its finesse.
It was like driving a small boat in a storm with huge waves. The flow of information from the Mainbrain enveloped everything. He needed to look for changes in those readings, look for gaps, and try to ensure the stability of the output signal.
“The detection system of the Mainbrain will continue to weaken the connection, but this thing can automatically switch lines.” Ji Xiaoman pointed to the reading signal that kept beeping. “This mechanism can barely maintain stability, but…”
“It’s more reliable for people to manipulate, right?” Yu Le rubbed his eyes hard. “Little Profiteer, I just have one request.”
Ji Xiaoman stopped moving and looked at Yu Le.
“Let’s poke holes everywhere so Xiao Ruan can feel at ease. The Mainbrain will continue to fill those holes, depending on whether or not we can stabilize them, right? The numbers look a bit uncomfortable. With so many screens, I can’t take a closer look and remember them.”
Yu Le stretched out his hand and clicked on a column of densely packed charts. “Can you change it to a wave diagram?”
“…The changes on the display can be done, but there will be a little error.”
“A little error is fine. I can’t remember the range those numbers should be in. I need—how to put this—something more intuitive.”
As if he wanted to enliven the atmosphere, Yu Le grinned.
“Tu Rui is better at counting than me. I usually do it by hand. Change it, Little Profiteer. I can try a few times and see if I can find the feeling.”
Ji Xiaoman tried hard to return a smile, but a shadow covered her face, which made the effect a bit scary. She jumped out of the chair and ran to another operating table. After ten minutes, the numbers flashing frantically on the light screen turned into images that ebbed and flowed like an electrocardiogram.
While the memory was still fresh in his mind, Yu Le arranged the button partitions to make the light screen look more like a ship’s console. Making sure that the image in front of him was intuitive enough, he started the manual operating system.
“You can go find the escape device.” In the rumbling noise, Yu Le nodded. “If I’m unclear about something, I’ll call you.”
Yu Le didn’t intervene at first, letting the system work automatically. When he had a little feeling based on the fluctuation of the curve, Yu Le began to manipulate it by himself. The initial effect wasn’t bad. The value representing the strength of the connection slowly climbed. However, there was no attack program at the moment. This thing was just a large external calculator. Yu Le, as its maintainer, didn’t feel any sense of accomplishment.
This was simpler than he thought.
Ji Xiaoman was still groping for clues in the corner of the space while checking the text on the light screen from time to time. She was trying to find the escape pods. Yu Le hummed a song as he operated various buttons to the rhythm when, suddenly, the situation almost made him choke on his spit.
“The signal channel is closed.” Ji Xiaoman walked around from behind a mechanical pillar as she spoke hurriedly. “The distance is too close. This is unlike the handiwork of the Mainbrain. It’s probably something the Order Supervisors had done here.”
“The calculator doesn’t even work. I really want to fucking kill them all.” A layer of sweat appeared on Yu Le’s forehead.
If that pile of curves was really an electrocardiogram, then their “patient” wasn’t far from death. There was a clear trend of returning to zero in various degrees. The rumbling of the machine was getting smaller, and the feedback of the operation was getting weaker. Fortunately, Professor Ruan’s design was of excellent quality, so the basic connection could still be maintained.
Seeing that the only remaining reading kept falling, Yu Le’s face got longer.
“I found the escape pod.” Ji Xiaoman ran close, panting; her vest was drenched in sweat. “Lao Yu, if you can’t handle it, let’s withdraw first.”
“Wait a bit.” Yu Le didn’t move. “Besides, those guys out there can’t get in now, so don’t worry.”
Ji Xiaoman wiped the sweat from her face and had no objection.
“I know it’s impossible for Xiao Tang to put us in his heart, but if he doesn’t take us seriously, there’s no need for him to hide this possible accident.” Yu Le thought for a while, then began to adjust the arrangement of the buttons on the light screen. “If they didn’t expect it, it would be a matter of virtue if we ran away now. If you don’t expect it but don’t say it, then choose you can’t do it, I’ll be very upset.”
“…” At the beginning, there was a certain person who swore they would be the first to run. Ji Xiaoman looked at Yu Le silently.
“We’ll try until dawn. It’s dark and wet outside now, which makes things more dangerous to escape.”
After Yu Le adjusted the buttons, the rhythm of the operation became faster. “But it’s enough by myself. Xiao… Man, you can fight better than me. Take an escape pod and go first. There shouldn’t be just one escape pod, right?”
Ji Xiaoman didn’t answer immediately this time. She turned her gaze, then said, “No, just one.”
After that, she sat back in the passenger seat and pulled up a few light screens in front of her. “I heard in the refuge that there are ventral cockroaches in the forest. It is indeed dangerous to go out at night.”
“Nn,” Yu Le responded vaguely, staring at the light screen in front of him.
The entire space was dyed red. After the buzzing was reduced, it was as quiet as a coffin.
“This really won’t work. You can’t make up for the error.” Seeing that Yu Le was silent, Ji Xiaoman also pulled up an operation screen. “I’ll help you adjust the error. You can stop trying to operate the machine.”
A mechanical hand pressed on Yu Le’s shoulder. “Like Mr. Tu, I’m also very good at ‘counting’.”
Yu Le’s taut shoulders loosened. The movements of his hands didn’t stop, and there was a strange emotion in his voice. “Then I’ll leave it to you, Little Captain.”
In a daze, he seemed to have returned to the Sea of Ruins. Like countless days before, he drove a giant ship, leading the ruins pirates to sprint through rubble and debris. As long as he glanced at the corner value occasionally, someone he trusted would help him take care of the details.
This felt pretty good.
The pattern on the light screen began to fluctuate again. The two of them tightened their nerves and tried to fight against the increasingly sealed connection channel. Everything seemed to be developing in a stable direction. Yu Le breathed a sigh of relief and was just about to speak—
Without warning, the entire space turned dark.
“There’s no power?!”
“Impossible.” Ji Xiaoman’s voice was full of shock. “This machine produces its own electricity, and the energy source is underground!”
“Then we’re being attacked,” Yu Le shouted. “Is there a way?”
“It won’t last long. Professor Ruan won’t leave such an obvious loophole. Someone is interfering with us. As for what…”
“Oh, I think I can guess.” Yu Le hissed. “Something is coming from above.”
Indeed, in the darkness, there was a slight rattle above their heads.
“No one can get in but it shouldn’t be difficult to send small things in. It seems that people need to fill in more than just the details of the operation—this thing is divided into so many layers. It wasn’t meant for just two people to operate in the first place.”
When building this, Professor Ruan had limited manpower, so it was impossible to make it 100% perfect. As the rustling sound from above was getting closer, Yu Le began to increasingly doubt his judgment.
In Professor Ruan’s design, there should have been guards here to fill in those small security holes.
…But it was just the two of them.
The next moment, the lights returned. Yu Le and Ji Xiaoman raised their heads almost at the same time—
Countless human-sized mechanical spiders were moving towards them. They changed their shapes and squeezed through the ventilation cracks between the glass plate, with their speed remaining constant. Looking from the bottom up, they densely covered everything above, as countless mechanical legs were entangled in a ball.
The amount and size were enough to crush them.
“Alright,” Yu Le said deeply. “We tried our best. Let’s go, Little Captain.”
Ji Xiaoman: “……”
“At least we gave those two more than three hours of manual support. Getting attacked by that thing won’t help, and my driving skills can’t solve the problem.”
“No, that’s not the problem.”
Ji Xiaoman swallowed with difficulty.
“The power outage just now… They’re carrying EMP interference. If the escape pods are affected, we run the risk of getting stuck in the middle of the passage.”
“It’s safer to stay here.” Ji Xiaoman stood up quickly. “Lao Yu, go on. I’ll block the air gap above first.”
Yu Le glanced at the dense legs on the other side of the glass plate and felt his scalp go numb. “Why do I have the feeling we won’t last long? This is too passive.”
He squeezed the armrest of the chair tightly and thought for a moment. “Are you sure this is a contact device?”
“Yes, if there’s no attack program.”
“Okay.” Yu Le took a deep breath and cracked his knuckles. “Try and hold on first. I think we don’t have to escape.”
“I’m going to call for help,” Yu Le said. “The super loud kind.”
The edge of the Mainbrain’s city.
Professor Ruan detected strange movements near the Mainbrain’s body, but the information he got was too bizarre. He wasn’t sure if he had lost any key clues—NUL-00 and Ruan Xian were near the Mainbrain’s body… with barely any decent weapons in their hands.
He couldn’t figure out the thoughts of those two, but he couldn’t stand by and watch them get caught by the Mainbrain. Unfortunately, his program and hardware weren’t ready, which only made the situation quite frustrating.
The black box in the glass trough spat out a large string of bubbles. The three-legged machine was circling around anxiously.
“Team 67, 29, and 14, who are closest to the desert, help clear the possible encirclement. Team 73, try airdrop supplies…. Attack? No, not yet.”
They only had one chance, and the Mainbrain didn’t seem to be vulnerable now. If they attacked rashly and were defeated, the rebels would have no recourse.
In short, first stabilize the situation, and then come up with a more effective rescue plan…
Suddenly, in the line he had left for Yu Le, there was an angry roar…
“We’re in Petri Dish No. 1306. Help!!!”
This chapter in a nutshell:
Yu Le gives an emotional speech about trying their best to the end. Ji Xiaoman is moved and lies about the escape pod to stay with him
Right after the speech, a horde of spider machines sent by the Order Supervisors appear.
Yu Le: Welp, we tried our best. Time to peace out.
Ji Xiaoman: … …. Can’t. The escape pods were hit by the EMPs and might not function.
Yu Le: … … Mayday, mayday!!!