Access Denied Ch21

Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong

Translator: Kinky ||

Chapter 21: Another Alpha

This was the second time Luo Duan entered Y City. Just like the first time, Yi Ning’s assistant personally drove to pick him up and sent him all the way to Y City’s downtown headquarters. Through the car window, he could see silhouettes of people in the city, but that was all.

As the capital of this land, Y City was many times more prosperous than the stronghold. But compared with the “world” he lived in, it still looked a bit backward and poor. People would use sophisticated electrical appliances scavenged from erosion areas, as well as rough homemade crafts. There may be an oil lamp next to the ultra-thin computer that the boundaries of the times became blurred here.

Seeing the government’s car coming, the people would spontaneously give way and make room. Luo Duan originally thought it was preferential treatment for “players”, but now that he thought about it, the car passed by without stopping halfway meant there may be some deeper meaning in it.

The only place he could really set foot in was the courtyard of the Central Headquarters.

Luo Duan chuckled a few times, watched the assistant leave in a hurry, and waited in Yi Ning’s reception room.

Just like Zhu Yanchen was to Shu Jun, in terms of setting, Yi Ning was also regarded as his immediate superior. That was all for ordinary players. As the captain of the second-ranked team in the world , “Groundwater”, Luo Duan had the right to apply for a meeting with Yi Ning. Compared with Shu Jun, who treated his immediate boss like air, Luo Duan was softer and got along with Yi Ning quite amicably.

What used to be his usual behavior had now become an excellent cover.

The door of the reception room opened.

“Bitter Rain.” Yi Ning, with a perfect NPC image, called his game ID as usual. “There’s no task right now, but you came to see me especially. Do you have any other needs?”

“I want to apply for indoor practice.” Luo Duan smiled slightly.

Yi Ning frowned. “Indoor practice” was the nominal resident mission of <Erosion>. As the name suggested, the location was indoors, and the content was quite simple—players needed to fight mutant beasts of all levels and couldn’t bring backup. During the practice process, players still had the possibility of death and exit.

For the United Government, the “indoor practice” was a controlled, simulated battlefield, and researchers used it to collect combat data of synths. Ordinary indoor practice could be done at the border stronghold, but since Luo Duan specifically proposed…

“I’ve already played through the border strongholds.” Luo Duan continued, “I’ve read the information, and the high-level training ground is underground at headquarters. I want to apply for it.”

Yi Ning didn’t agree right away. “I hope you can think about it again. Your ability is partial to group support, not suitable for individual training. It’s really not worthwhile to hurt your body on impulse.”

To put it bluntly, Luo Duan was strong, but his physical condition was questionable—he was almost at the end of his synthetic lifespan, and it was difficult to say if he could still use his full abilities. Moreover, even if Luo Duan was already on the verge of being scrapped, it seemed like a waste to use such an important resource as cannon fodder in battles.

Luo Duan seemed to have anticipated his response and refused to budge. “My team is on vacation now, and I happen to have some free time. Sir, I am about to retire soon, and this may be my last visit here. I just want to… experience a little more.”

After he finished speaking, Luo Duan’s smile grew wider. His appearance matched well with his water-based ability—his facial features were soft, and he had a gentle and elegant temperament that made it hard for people to feel disgusted with him.

Luo Duan’s response was reasonable, and it would seem unnatural to push him away any further. Yi Ning had to follow the regulations. “Alright, I will arrange a room for you here. There will be someone to accompany you during your stay, and the mission can be interrupted at any time. If you are seriously injured, we will also forcefully interrupt the mission. Do you have any other questions?”

“What about normal injuries?”

“Treat them until you can fight again.”

“I understand, thank you.” Luo Duan politely extended his hand, which was covered with black gloves. “The application form has already been filled out. I appreciate your approval.”

Yi Ning reached out his hand and shook hands with him—Strange, did Luo Duan wear gloves before?

“See you tomorrow.” Luo Duan quickly withdrew his hand with a pure smile. “…I’m really looking forward to it.”

“If you are concerned about losing to the Blackbirds, I have to say that their captain hasn’t ever applied for this.” Before Luo Duan left, Yi Ning couldn’t help but add.

Luo Duan paused at the door for a few seconds but didn’t turn back.

“…That’s because he doesn’t like being indoors and prefers to charge in the wilderness. I don’t have such strong attacking power, so this training is just right for me.”

Meanwhile, Shu Jun was charging in the wilderness, but his mood wasn’t so good.

An hour ago, Uncle Pan had once again demonstrated his business acumen—when inquiring for information, Zhu Yanchen accidentally revealed their plan to buy a sled. As a result, just as they had packed their bags and were about to leave the inn, Uncle Pan had already found the sled merchant and guide for them.

“Here is their contact information. If you’re not satisfied, there are others. I only need a 10% fee for his introduction. He sells quality goods at reasonable prices and never cheats people. I can just add the total cost to your lodging, food, and sauce expenses, so you don’t have to worry.”

Zhu Yanchen was about to take out his wallet, and Shu Jun suspected that the Grand Marshal had never heard the phrase “shop around”.

He laughed it off, put down his luggage, and dragged Zhu Yanchen to the market for a round. As it turned out, Uncle Pan hadn’t lied—even including the introduction fee, the price he offered was still lower than the market rate.

In the end, they came back to the inn with two full bags of newly purchased supplies.

“Back already?” Uncle Pan greeted with a smile. “You two are new faces, so they won’t be polite to outsiders.”

Shu Jun: “…” They were wearing masks. How could they tell?

“Those who often go to the erosion zone outside have deformed bones. You two have straight spines, and you’re buying mud sleds and looking for a guide. It’s obvious you’re newcomers.” Uncle Pan seemed to have read his mind. “I’ll contact someone for you… Oh, it’s still the same guy. Come back next time, both of you!”

Zhu Yanchen paid quickly and then glanced at Shu Jun.

“What are you looking at?” Shu Jun raised his face. “Uncle Pan is an honest man. I have nothing to say… but I was just afraid you’ll be ripped off. Saving money isn’t wrong.”

He thought of the money he had saved for half his life in the so-called “real world”, now all worthless, and his heart felt tight.

Zhu Yanchen continued to stare.

“Save some money, so when we come back here, we can splurge and celebrate.” Shu Jun’s confidence wasn’t diminished.

Zhu Yanchen was stunned and his gaze softened—Shu Jun’s tone was quite certain, infectious as always. For a moment, he even had the illusion that he could survive.

But they didn’t need to waste energy on this. Marshal Zhu thought for a moment, canceled hiding the amount in his electronic wallet, and showed Shu Jun the string of numbers.

…Shu Jun’s eyes glossed over, and he didn’t speak to him for half an hour. When they had packed up their belongings again, Shu Jun muttered sadly, “If so much money is transferred out, won’t people think you were ‘kidnapped’?”

Zhu Yanchen’s tone was serious. “It will be fine. I usually carry this much.”

Shu Jun: “…”

An hour later, the two of them were racing through the mud in the erosion zone. The sky was a familiar leaden gray, with only a few scattered stones and dead trees on the gray-black ground mixed with mutated beast paw prints and sled tracks. It was unknown whether the recent events had affected them, but there were only them in sight, and the air had a touch of desolation.

The heavily eroded land was somewhat swampy and soft underfoot, with mud puddles everywhere, making it difficult for both walking and vehicles. Faced with this kind of road condition, the rich would take mud boats, and the poor would use mutant beasts to pull mud sleds. Over time, many people dedicated themselves to paddling mud boats and driving mud sleds and charged high prices as “erosion zone guides”.

The guide was also a bald, muscular man, similar in size to Uncle Pan. He had two lumps on his head, but they were brown. Shu Jun glanced at his appearance and wondered if Uncle Pan was really that honest—Did they really not get cheated?

“I heard from my brother that you two want to go east?” The guide had a gas mask on his face, but the laughter inside could be heard. “I can only send you two for two days but I won’t go any deeper.”

“Two days is enough,” said Zhu Yanchen.

“The south is also good. Someone dug up a jewelry store there not long ago. Why bother with the east? Actually, with the amount of luggage you have, you can take a small boat to the south. If you take the mud sled, you’ll have to add a cargo compartment, which would tire my dogs out, haa.” The guide obviously wanted to continue chatting.

The “dogs” he mentioned were pulling the mud sled. The pack of dogs was all black, with drool dripping from their split heads. They had six legs and were running on the mud like they were walking on flat ground. In front of their heads hung black and red meat, like a donkey being led by a carrot.

“Speaking of the road to the east, it’s not that I’m scared. I used to be able to send people on a three-day journey, but now it’s only two days at most. I don’t know if my brother told you. There has been trouble over there recently—it’s really evil. A group of people found a strange monster’s corpse…”

Now they knew where Uncle Pan’s endless information came from. Marshal Zhu slowly lay down and gave a look to Shu Jun, saying, “It’s up to you now”.

“What’s your name?” Shu Jun took over the burden and interrupted the chatter of the guide. “Mr. Pan…?”

“In fact, my brother and I are from the old Chen family. Our surname isn’t Pan. It’s just because of these two lumps on our heads.” The guide chuckled, “But in business, it’s best to have a name that’s easy to remember. You can just call me Uncle Xiong.”

Shu Jun: “…Uncle Xiong.”

The next two days were uneventful. Except for the unchanging physical examination given to Shu Jun by Zhu Yanchen, Zhu Yanchen seemed to have fallen in love with sleeping. Whenever he had time, he would take a nap. Shu Jun could understand his feelings—there was nothing to see in the heavily eroded area. Let alone the Erosion Swamp, the mutant beasts they encountered were only small cats and dogs. With an outsider by their side, they couldn’t speak freely.

Zhu Yanchen slept after work and worked after sleeping while Shu Jun could only go out to hunt a few mutant beasts to eat while Uncle Xiong was sleeping. After eating, he had to bring back some meat to feed Monday, so it wouldn’t be hungry and bark while Uncle Xiong was awake.

They thought they could endure for two days, but the problem arose on the second night.

On the second night, they encountered a river.

The water in the river was naturally not clear, but it was particularly conspicuous in the barrenness. When Uncle Xiong saw the river, he said, “This is the place. You have to sled by yourselves from here on.”

As he spoke, he took off the cargo compartment hanging behind the sled and helped them install it to the sled’s head. “Do you want to buy a few dogs? You’ll tire yourself out paddling. I can sell you a few dogs since I’m going back alone anyway.”

Before he finished speaking, Zhu Yanchen decisively pulled out his gun and shot the first mutant beast in front of him into two pieces.

“Hey, if you don’t want to buy, just say so. What are you doing—fuck me!!!” Uncle Xiong cursed halfway, and his voice changed tone—countless gray-black “straws” drilled out of the body and crawled towards the three of them.

A Corpse Parasite.

Shu Jun clicked his tongue, tore off the cloth that covered his greatsword, and drew it out. The sword was much more convenient than his claws—unlike Zhu Yanchen’s purification gun, its blade could cut through the fine limbs of the Corpse Parasite, which turned to powder and disappeared. With a few elegant slashes, Shu Jun severed a third of the Corpse Parasite’s limbs.

Monday: “Burp.”

Uncle Xiong’s expression changed when he saw the weapon.

“It’s high-tech, high-tech,” Shu Jun quickly explained. “My boss is rich, and we came out to do weapons testing. Right, boss?”

Zhu Yanchen, who was shooting at the Corpse Parasite, almost missed his target. Fortunately, Uncle Xiong was too flustered to inquire further. “Why don’t I take you back? There are Corpse Parasites here, which means there must be an Erosion Swamp nearby. No matter what you two are up to, your lives are more important.”

“It’s fine,” Shu Jun said, letting Monday happily turn the Corpse Parasite into powder. “You go ahead, we can handle it.”

Uncle Xiong didn’t hesitate and quickly pulled the reins, fleeing the scene.

Shu Jun wasn’t too nervous. This wasn’t their first encounter with a Corpse Parasite. It could only attack Zhu Yanchen, who wasn’t an easy target. As long as he kept guarding him, even if an Erosion Swamp came looking for them, Zhu Yanchen would be fine.

“A’Yan, follow me closely.” Shu Jun was much more relaxed without Uncle Xiong watching. This was just a routine battle, or so he thought.

However, at the moment the Corpse Parasite was completely disintegrated by the great sword, Shu Jun heard muffled laughter.

To be precise, it wasn’t a physical sound, but more like an emotion he sensed from the Erosion Swamp. Shu Jun shuddered and broke out in cold sweat.

The Erosion Swamps were like a swarm of bees or ants—a biological aggregate that followed instinct, with some simple emotions and thoughts at most.

Even if it was like Monday had stumbled upon valuable information by sheer luck and gained a brain, their emotions would still be relatively simple. But this laughter was different—it wasn’t the pure laughter of a child, but rather the light laughter of an adult who had been amused.

Suddenly, every nerve in Shu Jun’s body tensed up. He positioned himself in front of Zhu Yanchen, facing the direction where the laughter was coming from, and said, “We have to go.”

Unfortunately, it was too late for that.

A blurry figure appeared in the haze. It was about two meters tall and had the outline of some kind of insect. It had four limbs that were thin and long, with jointed structures that bent several times that lightly supported it on the muddy ground.

At the junction of its four limbs hung a droplet-shaped body. It stood less than a hundred meters away from them, moving slowly and resembled a dancing ghost spider.

Shu Jun was very sure that the laughter was coming from it.

[So it’s not the leader.] Its thoughts came through, without any exact language but with a clear meaning. [Well, of course the leader wouldn’t come to a place like this.]

[Where are your swamps?] It laughed again, throwing out one question after another. [Why do you look so strange?]

[Why aren’t you answering?]

It moved closer again. Cold sweat broke out on Shu Jun’s forehead. The thing’s thought process was too fast, and he had no idea how to respond—he had only had one successful exchange with an Erosion Swamp before, and it was a mindless expletive.

[We already have an alpha, and we only need one.] It said, [Since you’re not answering, you’re an invader.]

The author has something to say:

Shu Ge: Can we have some normal (?) monsters…

Monday: (Happy fangirling)

Marshal: (Calmly taking notes)

Shu Ge: .

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