Access Denied Ch32

Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong

Translator: Kinky ||

Chapter 32: Not Enough

For the remaining time, Shu Jun was a bit distracted. If it weren’t for Zhu Yanchen pulling him in time, he would have almost crashed into the wreckage of a billboard in front of him. Fortunately, Yu Jin was concentrating on searching for traces of the mutant beast and didn’t notice anything unusual.

The mutant beast wasn’t far from the three of them. When Shu Jun saw it, it was busy gnawing on the corpse of another mutant beast.

The thing was about the size of an elephant with a soft neck collar, making it look like a money bag with four legs. When it sensed someone approaching, it stopped eating and looked around warily.

Shu Jun took the initiative to go to the front of the team.

Yu Jin was a good companion, and Shu Jun didn’t want him to get hurt. On the other hand, he wanted to end this test early—this was probably the hundredth time he had glanced at Zhu Yanchen’s mask.

The facial features of the boy in his memory had a shadow of Zhu Yanchen. If the official information was correct, Zhu Yanchen was one year older than him, and their ages matched up. Seeing him once could be an accident, but now that Shu Jun had remembered it in a sober state, he couldn’t let this clue slip by.

“I’ll take a picture,” Shu Jun said to Yu Jin, who was thinking about tactics.

“No. You heard what those people said. This guy is dangerous. We need to set up a camera fishing rod and mix in some rotten meat…”

“I’ll disguise my scent. I hunted like this with A’Yan before.” Shu Jun didn’t joke around anymore, and his demeanor suddenly became fierce. “I’ll show you. Even if I fail, it won’t implicate you.”

Yu Jin was straightforward and didn’t hesitate at this point. He wiped the mud off his hands and said, “Alright, let’s see it.”

He watched as Shu Jun walked towards the mutant beast with light and agile steps. The mutant beast had its back to Shu Jun, and there was no sign of movement, as if the person behind it was a mass of air.

“Oh, it really can’t detect him?” He turned to Zhu Yanchen. “Your buddy didn’t put on anything that could cover his scent. How is he doing it?”

Zhu Yanchen suspected that the mutant beast was just scared out of its wits. After all, Shu Jun was accompanied by two Erosion Swamps. Even if Shu Jun wasn’t familiar with how to command them, Monday was.

At the moment, he could only make up some nonsense for Shu Jun. “His physique is special, giving him a faint scent.”

He couldn’t bring up the remedy again as it was already exaggerated enough that the two of them had “remedies” against corrosion—drawing too much attention would only cause trouble.

Dozens of steps away, Shu Jun sneaked up behind the mutant beast, snapping away with his camera. The mutant beast remained motionless throughout, not daring to move. Afterwards, Shu Jun made an OK gesture towards the two men, then “carefully” backed away.

Just as he returned to the team, the mutant beast began to move—it coughed wildly for a while, obviously choking on the food in its mouth.

“What a great move.” Yu Jin patted Shu Jun’s back. “Awesome, you can have my camera. After we pass the assessment, I’ll treat you guys to a meal at Longevity.”

Except for the small incident where the woman was cheated, the entire test went exceptionally smoothly. Seeing that the team leader was Yu Jin, the military didn’t raise any doubts and gave the three of them the number display device that represented passing—people in the settlement wore masks most of the time, and even if they didn’t, their appearance may change due to lesions within a few days. Previously, there had been incidents of imposters on a mission, so it was better to seal the deal after the assessment was over.

Shu Jun recognized this device, which was like an NPC’s name tag and would only activate after the mission officially started. He extended his wrist and let the staff fasten the last button. Now he was wearing the specially made monitoring device by Zhu Yanchen on one hand and the official display device on the other, which was symmetrically placed on left and right wrists, like a prisoner who had just escaped from jail.

“Gray Claw, you just need to add a chain and you’ll be all set, just like an old-fashioned shackle.”

Having easily passed the test, Yu Jin was in a great mood. He didn’t go home and directly took the two of them to the Longevity Tavern for dinner, ordering a table full of dishes. “It’s a pity that this time we only needed to take pictures and didn’t get to see Brother Smoke’s skills. What a shame.”

After taking a few bites of meat, Yu Jin downed half a bottle of wine and let out a deep sigh.

“It’s the first time I’ve led such an easy team, and it’s the first time I’ve basked in someone else’s glory. If you two plan to stay here, do you want to hang out… Bah, or want to be friends? Most people here will give me face, so you can get around easily.”

Shu Jun smiled. “We were counting on you to say that. Jin Ge, your name is quite interesting. Does it refer to tulips?”

When he said this, Yu Jin’s movements stopped in their tracks, and his smile faded. “Yeah, my mom likes that kind of flower… It’s strange how I keep thinking about the past today.”

“The past?” Shu Jun asked, leading the conversation.

Zhu Yanchen looked at Shu Jun, and his pace of picking up food slowed down. Shu Jun had his usual half mask, with only his chin visible, and his smile was quite sincere.

“Well, I often take NPC quests. It’s not a big deal, just that I don’t like the system. Today, when that incident with the woman happened and I saw that you guys were ready to take action, I felt like we would get along pretty well… What do you guys think?”

“We were doing odd jobs in the city before, and it was our first time in this line of work, so we were waiting for you to speak,” Shu Jun said with a smile.

“Yes.” Zhu Yanchen also spoke up. “I’m curious about your opinion too.”

Shu Jun looked at him quite unexpectedly.

“Normally, the city folks don’t care much. They only know the general idea and rarely see many players in normal times, so what do they know? Anyway, when the high ups are looking for guides, they tend to select from us, a bunch of vagrants.”

Talking about this topic, Yu Jin’s face darkened.

“Actually, I didn’t care before. I thought it was nothing major. They said it’s a technological product—the most advanced synthetic human, which sounded a lot like ‘the most advanced purifier’. My family was in the city before, and we only knew that the system was running normally, and our friends who were drafted didn’t have to suffer in the erosion zone—after all, if they forced you to go there, it’s not the same as going to the erosion zone to make a living on your own.”

“But you still went,” Shu Jun said.

Zhu Yanchen stopped eating, as if he had a hidden meaning behind his action. To prevent the situation from becoming awkward, Shu Jun picked up a bunch of meat and put it in Zhu Yanchen’s bowl. Zhu Yanchen paused for a moment, then started silently chewing on the stir-fried shredded pork.

“Even in an era of peace, jobs are limited, and people still have to earn a living. So, my family left the city to do business near a stronghold. Once, I got lost and my parents went to ask for help from the people at the stronghold. Usually, ordinary citizens who enter the erosion zone aren’t rescued, but at that time there happened to be a team of players who were practicing, so they made me into a target NPC.”

Yu Jin sounded quite emotional as he spoke.

“Then I thought—how should I put it—the higher-ups say that ‘players’ aren’t really humans. They’re just made to look like humans. But I looked carefully, and I didn’t really see much of a difference… Anyway, the point is, I was saved by synths. Humans aren’t beasts, so at least I should remember their kindness.”

‘No wonder he didn’t take the fixed NPC position,’ Shu Jun thought as he took a sip of his drink. If he became a fixed NPC, the pay would be good, but Yu Jin wouldn’t be able to choose NPC tasks based on his own will and would have to follow the official script.

The incident from back then did happen. That “thank you” from the chubby child seemed genuine now.

Shu Jun felt a little relieved.

“Have you told anyone else?” As the conversation deepened, Shu Jun was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to control his expression, so he grabbed a piece of chili pepper and chewed on it, causing his ears to turn red.

“I’ve definitely told others. I’m telling you two now, aren’t I? The problem is, even if I tell them, it’s useless. I remember someone else making a fuss before, but the higher-ups shut it down with one sentence: ‘Anyone who thinks this is inhumane can take the place of the synths.’ Normal humans can’t handle that kind of work for even a month, so who dares to make a fuss?”

“Moreover, only a few people actually make a fuss. Most people are busy trying to make a living and don’t care whether synthetic people are round or flat, and those are just ordinary folks. What about the higher-ups? They have all the resources in their hands and are focused on pulling votes and promoting development. Ordinary folks don’t care, so who’s going to waste their effort on this thankless task?”

Yu Jin became more and more depressed as he spoke.

“I’m just a small fry. I can’t make a difference. Instead of trying to make a splash, I might as well help them find a safer way. Oh, I was a little rude to you guys at first. Don’t take it to heart. I really value this job.”

“Of course.” Shu Jun raised his glass. “Here’s to a successful mission—cheers!”

After opening up, Yu Jin dragged the two of them to drink until late into the night. Shu Jun had been a veteran soldier for ten years and had plenty of combat topics to discuss. As Yu Jin drank happily, he almost wanted to become sworn brothers with Shu Jun on the spot.

Zhu Yanchen also drank, and through his goggles, his dark eyes were bottomless. Shu Jun could now read the expectation in his gaze, and he didn’t plan to avoid the issue.

As soon as the two of them returned to their hotel room, Shu Jun pulled down his face mask and stood in front of Zhu Yanchen, watching Marshal Zhu take off his mask with burning eyes. Under the influence of alcohol, Zhu Yanchen’s originally pale cheeks became slightly flushed, and the aura that kept people at a distance dissipated somewhat.

“I didn’t expect that the Grand Marshal was quite shy when he was a child.” Shu Jun got straight to the point. “Have we met before?”

Yu Jin provided a lot of information, indirectly confirming his memory. The sudden surge of memories wasn’t an illusion; it had really happened. If that child was indeed Zhu Yanchen, then the dream from that night was also a genuine memory, making things quite interesting.

Zhu Yanchen slowly placed his face mask on the table and didn’t deny it. “How much do you remember?”

“It seems we really know each other.” Shu Jun straightened his collar. “Are you the NPC who rushed out to help Xiao Yu during the mission to find Yu Jin?”


“And you were the one who got lost in the virtual city in the middle of the night?”


“That’s all I remember.”

Zhu Yanchen’s eyes dimmed a bit.

Shu Jun was originally in a good mood after meeting Yu Jin, a normal old friend, who unexpectedly retrieved his memories. However, just as they started chatting, his heart began to sink into his stomach.

It was normal for people to forget the trivial matters of their childhood. However, Zhu Yanchen’s statement of “how much do you remember” was indeed strange. If Zhu Yanchen was absent from his past, the situation would be intriguing.

Shu Jun wiped his face with a damp towel, and the alcohol-induced haze in his mind dissipated somewhat. “It’s interesting. How was our relationship back then?”

“Very good,” Zhu Yanchen said.

As if he was afraid that Shu Jun would misunderstand his politeness, Marshal Shu added very solemnly, “Especially good.”

Shu Jun: “…” It was hard for him to imagine who Zhu Yanchen would have an “excellent relationship” with, let alone what he did when he was a child.

“Your memories can’t be fully restored in theory, but your physical condition has changed somewhat. The situation seems less absolute now. I can’t give you a comprehensive examination now, but this mission is an opportunity. There is a place in the city with relatively complete equipment. When the time comes…”

Zhu Yanchen, who rarely smiled, curled his lips slightly. “…I will introduce Ai Xiaoxiao to you personally.”

This was roughly what he guessed. Shu Jun raised his eyebrows—although he didn’t know how Zhu Yanchen got to “the other side”, based on the results, he, a synthetic human, became friends with the young master of the Zhu family. If the Zhu family found out about this, they were being polite by not getting rid of him.

Taking a step back, since humans could extract the truth from his mind, it wouldn’t be difficult to also extract Zhu Yanchen’s either. Their relationship had improved a lot now, so Zhu Yanchen had no reason to lie about this.

“Sure, I’ll definitely cooperate.” Shu Jun replied sincerely. “I really want to remember, especially how you went from that—”

He gestured to the height of a child in his memory.

“—to this.” He gestured again to Zhu Yanchen’s current height.

Zhu Yanchen: “…” The corners of his mouth returned to normal, with a hint of helplessness in his eyes.

To be honest, Shu Jun didn’t have much of a real feeling, with only two fragments in his mind. Knowing that Zhu Yanchen was his friend from the past, rather than an enemy or creditor, was enough at this stage. Their situation wouldn’t improve because of this, but compared to the tense reality, this was a good addition.

At least this could explain many things.

Shu Jun thought absent-mindedly as he took off his shirt.

At first, Zhu Yanchen was cold and distant towards him, but he became inexplicably close after his body recovered. Now, there was a reasonable explanation for that.

Since there was a successful case before, Marshal Zhu was afraid that they would become friends again before dying tragically and give unnecessary stimulation to this dangerous person. The subsequent ambiguous behavior was easier to analyze—they were originally friends, and those were probably just habits from their previous interaction.

Going back further, when “Smoke” took the initiative to talk to him, it might also have been an influence from the past.

Shu Jun had solved several daily mysteries, but he found that his emotions were even worse now—

Well, the evidence was conclusive. Zhu Yanchen subconsciously treated him like a brother. All of their previous interactions were just closeness between good friends. In the end, it was all because of that romantic seed that Shu Jun had sown, that he should have uprooted it long ago.

Shu Jun felt a little inexplicably blocked.

‘Don’t think about it,’ he warned himself seriously. He would just deal with Zhu Yanchen appropriately in the future. Maybe when all the dust settled, and he remembered everything, he could joke to this Grand Marshal—”Did you know that when we hadn’t met yet, I had a little crush on you.”

Then they could laugh together. What a nice picture that would be.

…But he felt even more blocked.

Zhu Yanchen’s ex-girlfriend, Miss Xia, was a beautiful and lovely young lady with a naive personality, which most definitely appealed to the straight male taste.

The human heart was strange. The more one tried not to think about something, the more the brain slid in that direction. Shu Jun simply threw his coat off and went into the bathroom. The cold water helped him calm down.

Meanwhile, Zhu Yanchen paced around the tea table in the room, unable to pour cold water over his head.

Shu Jun’s memories gradually began to resurface. From a cooperative perspective as well as a personal expectation, his wishes had been fulfilled. When Shu Jun remembered everything, their trust would become deeper, and their future plans could be implemented more smoothly.

But it’s not enough.

Zhu Yanchen thought blankly.

Not enough. Far from enough.

The author has something to say:

Shu Jun: Oh, so we’re bros. That’s fine. (disappointed)

Marshal Zhu: Aren’t we bros? What’s wrong with me? (disappointed)


Xia Liang: Hmph, men.

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