Access Denied Ch16

Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong

Translator: Kinky ||

Chapter 16: Deadline

“No,” the Erosion Swamp said.

At present, the two were waiting in the cave. Zhu Yanchen was setting up a simple purification machine at the entrance while Shu Jun was negotiating with the small Erosion Swamp. The latter still looked like a lump, but with a mouth on the surface, which looked a bit eerie.

Hours ago, when Shu Jun came up with his crazy idea, Zhu Yanchen was silent for a few minutes. When he spoke again, he sounded a bit numb. “I have never encountered a similar case before, but you can try it. If you can’t convince it within a day, I will dispose of it.”

So they found a resting point, and Shu Jun immediately threw the small Erosion Swamp off his hand.

Although he threw it away, he did not let go of the hand holding its brain. He tried to explain the problem to it—intentionally or not, the small Erosion Swamp used humans, so it must have some level of intelligence. Choosing between “losing its precious nervous center” and “losing freedom of movement but being able to continue to evolve” wasn’t a difficult choice.

But no matter how much Shu Jun talked, it only replied with “no”.

Feeling a bit discouraged, Shu Jun decided to seek help outside. “Does it understand what I am saying?”

The Erosion Swamp had lost a lot of moisture and could no longer emit erosion substances into the air. Zhu Yanchen finished setting up a purification machine, and the air in the cave became much cleaner. He took off his protective suit and mask and began repairing the reading device.

Shu Jun originally thought that Zhu Yanchen would find him too noisy, but to his surprise, Marshal Zhu got very close to him, and his movements were quite relaxed. He didn’t even rush to handcuff Shu Jun.

“Its intelligence is equivalent to that of a six- or seven-year-old child.”

Zhu Yanchen was repeatedly adjusting a component the size of a grain of rice with his hand as steady as a machine.

“The Village of the Ruined is a mobile village, and this Erosion Swamp was cultivated by them as a ‘mobile grave’. There are people among the dead who resonate strongly with the erosion substance, allowing the Erosion Swamp to learn some information and develop its own brain.”

Although it made Shu Jun feel a bit drowsy, as if he were listening to a lecture from his childhood, he still caught on. Judging from the Erosion Swamp’s behavior, it probably learned from that little girl.

The little girl looked six or seven years old. It was impossible for her and the swamp to resonate 100%, so part of the information would be incomplete; added to that, the condition of the body would deteriorate, reducing the amount of information. Shu Jun thought for a while and felt that Zhu Yanchen’s statement was quite optimistic—in his opinion, the intelligence of this thing in front of him was at most five years old.

And he had just beaten it up.

…What positive response could he expect? Shu Jun felt a bit embarrassed and decided to take a break.

It was late at night, and there was only a little light in the cave. Shu Jun leaned against the wall and couldn’t help but doze off. “If I had died in the Erosion Swamp before, could that big Erosion Swamp also gain some intelligence?”

Zhu Yanchen’s voice became gloomy. “Your resonance level with the erosion substance is unprecedentedly high. An alpha-level giant Erosion Swamp, coupled with the intelligence of a top warrior—the consequences are obvious.”

Shu Jun was instantly frightened awake.

For ten years, the Erosion Swamp had devoured countless players. Even just dealing with mindless Erosion Swamps led to exceptionally fierce battles. If the Erosion Swamp had human-level intelligence…

“Each synthetic person has a different composition, and cloning can’t make a perfect copy. It’s basically impossible to create a second ‘you’.” Seeing through Shu Jun’s thoughts, Zhu Yanchen added.

Only then did Shu Jun breathe a sigh of relief, but the air was so tense that it felt like it could freeze. Continuing this topic would be unwise after just finishing a fierce battle. He had no desire to listen to Teacher Zhu’s lecture, but he couldn’t think of a light topic to pivot to.

Before knowing that A’Yan was Zhu Yanchen, he could comfortably confide in the ups and downs of these few days. His emotions would feel like they were buried in soft cotton, soothing just to think about. Now that cotton had turned into steel wool that he didn’t have any sentimentality left.

So he began to gaze deeply at Zhu Yanchen, hoping this wooden fish could start making noise on its own and not just wait for him to strike it.

A’Yan had been very proactive in their previous conversations. At that time, he didn’t know who “Smoke” was. Could Zhu Yanchen not know who he was? Maybe General Zhu was actually cold on the outside but warm on the inside, and he hadn’t given him a chance to show it since he was just asking crazy questions before. So far, their relationship was still good. Even though his little romantic seedlings had withered, they could still be friends, right?

Zhu Yanchen clearly noticed Shu Jun’s gaze, and he looked up quietly at Shu Jun.

One minute, two minutes.

Three whole minutes passed without a word between them. Shu Jun was starting to feel uneasy and honestly said, “I’m going to sleep for a bit. Call me in the second half of the night, and we’ll take turns keeping watch.”

Besides giving him a lesson on the Erosion Swamp, the <One Hundred Thousand Why Questions>* version, Teacher Zhu hadn’t said a word he wanted to hear.

*Popular children’s educational book series in China that covers a wide range of topics such as science, history, geography, and more. || You can think of this line as “Giving him a lesson on the Erosion Swamp For Dummies version”.

Shu Jun sighed and clasped the little Erosion Swamp’s brain tightly. Afraid he would let go if he fell asleep, he crossed his arms. The Erosion Swamp was forced to stick to him, not daring to move.

“Puh,” it said.

The Erosion Swamp’s emotions were stronger than Marshal Zhu’s and it made Shu Jun a little helpless.

He closed his eyes and dozed off. The little Erosion Swamp beside him was sucking and spitting out water discontentedly, making a smacking sound. His body had not adapted before, and his body was weak. Sleeping felt like being hit with a sandbag. Now he was gradually adapting, and he had returned to his status as a qualified veteran soldier—

In a daze, Shu Jun heard a slight sound, like feathers brushing over rock. He didn’t move immediately but quietly cracked his eyes open.

Zhu Yanchen had opened his seemingly bottomless briefcase again. This time he took out a cage the size of a palm and slowly walked towards the entrance. Shu Jun quietly got up and followed him like a shadow.

Just in case, he even covered the Erosion Swamp’s mouth.

Perhaps because he had slept too deeply a few days ago, Zhu Yanchen didn’t seem to be suspicious. He bypassed the purification machine, put the cage on the ground, and then slowly took off his gloves.

Shu Jun sucked in a deep, tooth aching breath.

Zhu Yanchen’s hands were beautifully shaped with long fingers but covered in dense gray wounds. It was said that ten fingers were connected to the heart*, and he felt the pain just by looking at them. This person was usually calm during gun maintenance and repair, with no trembling or changes in expression.

*(十指连心) Idiom referring the deep emotional connection between two people, usually close friends or family, who understand and support each other unconditionally. It emphasizes that the connection between these individuals is so strong that it goes beyond just physical contact and reaches the realm of emotional understanding and empathy.

These were the marks of serious erosion that Shu Jun had only seen on corpses.

He held his breath, grabbed the struggling Erosion Swamp, and continued to sneak a peek.

Zhu Yanchen took out a pen-sized instrument and scanned his hands carefully before drawing some blood from his fingertips. He then looked at the instrument readings for a while before exporting the data to a chip.

Shu Jun recognized this thing; Zhu Yanchen had been taking his blood samples. Several syringes weren’t enough, and he had to be pricked several times a day, which was strange because Zhu Yanchen was just an ordinary person. What was going on?

Next up was the cage.

A mutant beast, which looked a bit like a dragonfly with fleshy wings, was sleeping inside the cage. Zhu Yanchen put on gloves, attached the chip to the beast’s abdomen, and let it out of the cage.

“Go back,” he whispered.

Then, he deftly put the cage away and planned to return to the depths of the cave, but he ran into Shu Jun, who was frowning.

“What’s wrong with your hands?” Shu Jun asked directly.

Zhu Yanchen didn’t answer. He just stared at Shu Jun, unsure if he didn’t want to answer or was just organizing his words.

“I won’t ask who you’re passing the data to. You just need to answer me one question: What’s wrong with your hands?”

“This is not a question you need to worry about—”

Before Zhu Yanchen could finish, he was dragged into the cave by Shu Jun. The air in the cave had been purified, and he wasn’t wearing protective clothing, which made it easier for Shu Jun—he hooked his claws and tore off most of Zhu Yanchen’s shirt, exposing his shoulder and arm.

Zhu Yanchen had a good build, and definitely looked like he was well trained. That was Shu Jun’s first impression.

Then he saw the fine scars, one layer after another, some new, some old. Compared to the scars left by fighting, these scars were too regular, and the latest ones still had traces of stitching.

…One scar after another with all of them being surgical scars.

The closer to Zhu Yanchen’s hands, the denser the scars, showing that Zhu Yanchen had been eroded by the erosion from his hands. Without clothing to cover it up, the patient’s unique smell of decay was quite obvious. To avoid misjudgment, Shu Jun leaned in and sniffed Zhu Yanchen.

“You’re dying,” Shu Jun said with shocked certainty.

“You’re dying?” He said again, this time with a shocked question.

Zhu Yanchen pursed his lips. Seizing the opportunity while Shu Jun was still in shock, Zhu Yanchen twisted his wrist and, with force, reversed their positions, pressing Shu Jun against the cave wall. Sensing the tense atmosphere between them, the Erosion Swamp stuck to the wall without making a sound.

“Yes,” Zhu Yanchen said, holding onto Shu Jun’s hand while reaching for his mouth to take off his glove.

His heavily eroded hand stretched out in front of Shu Jun. “I can still live for 63 days and 7 hours. I was providing my subordinates with data on the limit of human tissue erosion caused by the erosion substance.”

Zhu Yanchen was very close, and his breath was cold. The scars under his white shirt were so glaring that it made people uncomfortable.

Shu Jun narrowed his eyes.

Everything was well explained, such as why Zhu Yanchen, as a marshal, chose to “fake his death” and venture alone into the erosion zone. Why, knowing the risk of erosion, he didn’t take the bite of the mutant beast too seriously. And why, after they met, Zhu Yanchen’s attitude was always indifferent—his condition was unstable, and his danger level could be considered an enemy of humanity. If Shu Jun were in Zhu Yanchen’s position, he wouldn’t want to create a situation where an “important friend died in front of him.”

It was indeed a reasonable decision, but…

“Now you understand,” Zhu Yanchen said. Seeing the change in Shu Jun’s face, he pulled his hand back. “For our cooperation, this intelligence isn’t beneficial.”

“It’s okay, nine disadvantages and one benefit*.”

*(九弊一利) Idiom describing a situation where there are many disadvantages but there’s still one small advantage.

Zhu Yanchen didn’t expect Shu Jun to have this attitude and was a little stunned.

“I only thought that you weren’t in good shape before and didn’t think it was so serious,” Shu Jun said, letting Zhu Yanchen press his hand. “But you see, there’s a guy who has survived the erosion directly from an Erosion Swamp near you, so don’t say things too pessimistically.”


Shu Jun withdrew his claws and covered Zhu Yanchen’s scarred hand with his palm.

“If you tell me, maybe I can help more. Anyway, we’ll take it step by step. Even if I can help you live for one more second, it’s still worth it.”

While saying this, Shu Jun’s heart was already in chaos. He wasn’t a heartless person, and he and Smoke had been together happily for several years. It was false to say that he didn’t care. But as a person living on the battlefield, Shu Jun was especially clear about this—whether it was collapse, anger, or blame, death wouldn’t stop for any reason. Regardless of whether it was just for the sake of stable cooperation or for the sake of their relationship over the years, he shouldn’t show too negative an attitude.

“It’s all up to our effort… Do you still need my blood test? Do you need to take more? I have a feeling that your situation will definitely turn around. My intuition has always been accurate.”

Zhu Yanchen slowly released his grip, lowered his head, and put on his glove. “Mm.”

“I only have one opinion on this matter.”


“Hey, even this thing can speak.” Shu Jun shook the Erosion Swamp in his hand and said, “At least you should talk more.”

The Erosion Swamp cooperated quite well, letting out a, “Puh.”

He didn’t know if it was an illusion, but the corners of Zhu Yanchen’s mouth seemed to have lifted slightly.

“No,” he said, with a deliberate tone.

“No,” the Erosion Swamp followed suit.

“Okay, let’s at least get the sword thing sorted out first. I was planning to take it slow, but it seems like our time is quite pressing.” Shu Jun sighed helplessly. “You… um, why don’t you change your clothes first, Grand Marshall?”

“A’Yan,” Zhu Yanchen said.


“Call me A’Yan, like before.”

Shu Jun grinned. “No.”

The author has something to say:

Erosion Swamp: Puh puh puh.

These two won’t dilly-dally over this matter, XDDD.

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