Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 37: Midnight Visit
After the official announcement of Zhu Yanchen’s death, Yi Ning’s work increased several folds.
He simply set up a bunk bed in his office and lived there. Zhu Yanchen’s death completely disrupted his campaign rhythm—his supporters thought he was sure to win, so the momentum plummeted. However, Zhu Yanchen’s father, Zhu Sheng, had been making constant moves recently, which showed that the Zhu family clearly had no intention of giving up the leadership position.
The Tang family worked behind the scenes to manage their connections, while the Xia family watched from the sidelines. With all this going on, Marshal Yi Ning simply felt exhausted.
Initially, he just wanted everyone to have a better life, but now, having seen many dirty things, the only thing that could sustain him was this belief. Yi Ning made himself a cup of coffee and continued to work on the towering stacks of documents.
It had to be said that Dong Lao and Ai Xiaoxiao, who were arranged by Zhu Yanchen, were indeed useful and saved him a lot of trouble. However, those two people inherited Zhu Yanchen’s will and tended to keep the synths in a defensive position, unwilling to advance the purification process quickly. Even when he assigned a reconnaissance mission to the Blackbirds, Ai Xiaoxiao looked at him with raised eyebrows for a long time.
The daily maintenance cost of the synths remained unchanged, but since their focus right now was more defensive, the purification efficiency was much lower. However, compared to other urgent problems, Yi Ning could bear this loss.
The burden on the medical system was increasing, and the social security issue had yet to be resolved. In order to stimulate the economy and turn the tide, he had to launch the production plan for the synths as soon as possible.
Where was the research report from the research institute? Oh, right, to prevent players from seeing them, confidential documents were only sent through light screens…
Yi Ning was so tired that his limbs felt like lead. He struggled to go through the pile of documents, considering whether to go get a glass of iced water.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door.
Yi Ning frowned. It was now after three in the morning, and he couldn’t think of anyone who would come to visit. However, since the bodyguards had let them in, there shouldn’t be any problems—he just hoped it wasn’t someone from the Tang family. He really didn’t want to talk about those messy issues.
However, once he saw who the unexpected guest was, Yi Ning suddenly became three times more alert.
Luo Duan was standing outside the door with several drink cans in his hand. Though he had wrapped many bandages around his body, he still had a gentle and polite demeanor.
“Bitter Rain?” Yi Ning asked uncertainly.
In principle, “players” and “NPCs” weren’t prohibited from engaging in private interactions in <Erosion>. After all, this was the real world, and a complete ban wasn’t realistic. They couldn’t keep it airtight, so they quietly separated the two groups and tried to ensure that players’ communication was only through people from the United Government.
Luo Duan smiled at him. “I have insomnia, so I’m just out for a stroll. Can I come in, sir? I brought some ice soda.”
“Sorry, I still have work to do.” Yi Ning took a deep breath and didn’t invite him in.
“Ah.” Luo Duan didn’t seem very surprised. “I just wanted to talk about the recent task arrangements for Groundwater. That’s a legitimate issue, right?”
Yi Ning pondered for a moment, then stepped aside, letting Luo Duan pass. Since it was related to work, he could change his mindset, and that could wake him up a bit.
However, as Luo Duan passed him, Yi Ning felt a certain coldness. It was a fleeting feeling. As Marshal Yi wiped his face, he thought it probably came from the drinks.
The drinks were refreshing, and Luo Duan did indeed just talk about work. It was clear that he had put a lot of thought into it and his ideas were quite reasonable. Yi Ning gradually lost his drowsiness, and the topic gradually shifted from Groundwater to all players’ views regarding the recent “plot”.
“Zhu Sheng would choose someone from the Xia family. With the death of Zhu Yanchen, the Xia family’s position is uncertain. Zhu Sheng isn’t someone who’s obsessed with bloodlines. Besides, there aren’t many outstanding people in the Zhu family currently. If he chooses a godson from the Xia family to support, he… Well, given Zhu Sheng’s personality, even if he does something more excessive, I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Unlike Shu Jun from the Blackbirds, Luo Duan was clearly interested in the “game plot”. It was obvious that he had done a lot of research. The two of them chatted smoothly, and when Yi Ning came back to his senses, it was nearly 5 in the morning.
“…Since you’ve been promoted to this position, you shouldn’t be easily abandoned. Zhu Sheng hasn’t decided on a new candidate yet, so this period of time is the most precious for you. But I think you also know that. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be awake at this hour.”
Luo Duan’s voice was very gentle and soothing to the ear. He walked to the pile of documents, bent over, and picked up a few that had fallen to the ground.
“Marshal Yi, as a subordinate, I still have to remind you…”
Luo Duan paused. There was a little more subtle emotion in his voice.
“…to take care of yourself.”
After speaking, his severely injured body wobbled, but Luo Duan reacted quickly and immediately reached out to the edge of the table for support—although this action caused the mountain of documents on the table to scatter all over the floor by the impact.
“Ah, I’m sorry.” Luo Duan smiled and began to bend over to pick them up again. “It seems that I’m also tired. Let’s stop here for today. The topic of medical care was quite interesting. I’ll come again tomorrow.”
A water column full of tranquilizer quietly rose up and entered Yi Ning’s drink can.
“You should go back first. When the sun rises, I’ll ask my assistant to help me tidy up.” Yi Ning looked at the bandages on Luo Duan’s body, drank the last bit of his drink, and helped him up.
Luo Duan hooked his lips. “Good night, Marshal Yi.”
Yi Ning thought he really should take a rest. Once he relaxed, drowsiness quickly hit him. He still had four hours of sleep before work officially started at 9.
The heavy door closed behind Luo Duan.
He reached out his hand, and another water column retracted into his palm. Its end hooked onto Yi Ning’s access card, then retracted. A matchbox-sized card lay quietly in his hand.
The hallway was filled with thick darkness, and something cold and eerie crept out of his pores and coiled around his neck, vibrating at an ominous frequency.
“Let me… help you…” The voice pressed against his neck. Its tone was strange, as if mixed with male and female, young and old voices, randomly spliced together.
“No.” Luo Duan didn’t turn back.
He still had four hours before Yi Ning woke up. He had acquired many keys, and if possible, he hoped he wouldn’t have to use the Marshal-level authority.
However, things didn’t go as smoothly as he had hoped.
Using his water skills to remain hidden, Luo Duan easily evaded the cameras and snuck into the lower levels of the command center. He had just planned to continue his infiltration when the cold sensation around his neck started again.
“Someone’s coming,” it emphasized in that strange voice. “Someone’s coming.”
Although he didn’t want to engage with this thing, Luo Duan quietly hid himself.
Two figures appeared at the end of the hallway, heading underground before he did. Luo Duan frowned—judging from their movements, those two were definitely not staff members here.
At this moment, Shu Jun was feeling uncomfortable all over.
In order to let his large Erosion Swamp enter the command center, Zhu Yanchen managed to turn off the purification defenses for a few seconds with the assistance of Dong Lao. However, military-grade purifiers had tremendous power, and even if the defenses were only set up on the outside of the building, Shu Jun still felt uncomfortable.
Fortunately, he didn’t bring Monday with him. Otherwise, he didn’t know what kind of miserable howl it would make. But now it was in the hands of Ai Xiaoxiao, so the situation was probably not much better.
Hundreds of military-grade purifiers were crazily running that it made Shu Jun want to vomit.
“Endure a little longer,” Zhu Yanchen said in a low voice as he placed a hand on his back.
With the alarm system’s access, their path was unimpeded. Their destination was clear—the bottom level of the command center was usually the synthetic human production workshop, while the very bottom controlled the system that managed “the truth”.
Given that Zhu Yanchen wasn’t a boss with any human touch, the atmosphere of the four-person meeting was as it was. The other two were obviously more interested in Shu Jun than Zhu Yanchen, making Shu Jun feel a little uneasy. However, the situation was made clear enough.
Originally, Zhu Yanchen’s plan was simple—Dong Lao and Ai Xiaoxiao would ask the synths to focus on defense, and at the same time, the Old Fourth would spread the news of Erosion Swamps with sentiency. When public opinion was riled up, records from the ruins of X City would be released. No matter what, ripples would certainly be created.
Even if people couldn’t immediately stop using the player system, synthetic human production would inevitably be affected. Zhu Yanchen had already foreseen his own death, and he had only wanted to be a fuse, blowing the problem to the surface.
But he didn’t die.
The situation was a bit awkward now—Marshal Zhu had planned every step, even calculated his death date. He never wanted to be the leader in the first place, so he never managed his image. His reputation among the people was terrible. Even if he stood on top of the command center and performed a public resurrection from the void, he probably wouldn’t win the election that followed.
Not to mention that Zhu Sheng was still in power. Even if Zhu Yanchen managed to win the position of leader by sheer luck, Zhu Sheng could still sideline him.
During the discussion, Dong Lao rolled his eyes, while Ai Xiaoxiao looked at Zhu Yanchen with a smile that could be interpreted as “he” on the left side of her face and “deserves it” on the right side.
“What if we give the evidence directly to Zhu Sheng?” Shu Jun didn’t know much about politics, so he could only ask questions based on intuition.
“It won’t work,” Dong Lao said in a hoarse voice. “X City’s intelligence only proves the existence of an ‘Erosion Swamp affected by synths’. This system has been running for two hundred years, and there’s only been one case discovered. Zhu Yanchen’s judgment is correct. At most, this evidence can only serve as a spark to ignite public opinion and make some people take notice of this matter.”
“If you were Zhu Sheng, and you had a plan that had a 95% chance of greatly advancing society and benefiting yourself, and a 5% chance of causing a major disaster, of which there’s only been one in two hundred years, what would you choose? This is why Zhu Yanchen initially focused on public opinion, which would force the United Government to investigate.”
“This old man is just being long-winded,” Ai Xiaoxiao said as she took a sip of tea. “In short, if you want to liberate synthetic humans and investigate the Erosion Swamp to your heart’s content, you must quickly control the United Government. And to obtain the United Government, both Yi Ning and Zhu Sheng are unavoidable enemies.”
Dong Lao gave Ai Xiaoxiao a sideways glance, who glanced back contemptuously, emitting a faint scent of gunpowder in the air.
Shu Jun didn’t want to recall any more. Thinking about all these political problems made his stomach twitch again. He didn’t know if it was the discomfort of his body, but he sensed a faint trace of the same kind—that breath was faintly discernible, far away, and disappeared like smoke as they went deeper.
However, since they had all arrived here, it wouldn’t be appropriate to suddenly change their goal. Regardless, the focus was on preparing for the NPC mission that was about to come. Shu Jun withdrew his suspicious gaze and followed Zhu Yanchen deeper underground.
In a dark corner, a strand of erosion dripped slowly. It pulled itself thin and followed the two of them quietly.
It murmured to Shu Jun back.
“It’s almost… mature… How great.”
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2 thoughts on “Access Denied Ch37”
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Thank you for the update ❤️💯