Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 39: Program Effect
The United Government was responsible for the transportation of materials. Yu Jin was quite pleased, as he didn’t have to worry about carrying large or small packages. He rented a trailer and leisurely made his way to Ai’s Clinic while humming a tune.
The world was still far from recovering. Except for those who had no worries about food and clothing, most people had no opinion on same-sex relationships. Bluntly put, it was good enough to be able to find pleasure in hardship. Since they neither stole nor robbed nor cheated, people didn’t care what other people’s fun was.
As someone who made a living in the border area, Yu Jin had a more open-minded view than most. Thinking that the two would be staying at the clinic and wouldn’t have time to go shopping, he brought some gifts.
“You’re taking that little?” Yu Jin was amazed at the two’s luggage. “The United Government will provide us with some basic supplies, but if you want to do this comfortably, you have to bring some of your own. Yours…”
The luggage of Gray Claw and Smoke wasn’t big; just two dusty handbags where the dust wasn’t even wiped clean. The zipper was broken at one corner, revealing a package of nutrients inside and a box of crumpled medicine.
It looked like these two were simply going on a spring outing.
Forget it. Although the people in the Old Fourth were shrewd, they still lacked experience. At critical moments, it was still necessary for their big brother to help out.
“Here, this is for you two.” Yu Jin generously threw a box over.
Shu Jun received it groggily and said, “Thanks.”
Half an hour ago, they had stolen a large brain sample and returned to Ai’s Clinic, but they couldn’t even get in the door. Ai Xiaoxiao had helped them pack their luggage and threw it out like garbage. Considering that one was immune to erosion substance and the other was an actual Erosion Swamp, Ai Xiaoxiao didn’t even bother to conceal how hastily she had packed their belongings—even if they were thrown directly into an erosion zone, they could still survive.
Monday was also thrown out with them. When it saw Shu Jun, it immediately let out a mournful cry like a dog being stepped on, struggling to climb onto Shu Jun’s back and refusing to let go.
At first, Shu Jun thought that if he wasn’t around, this thing might launch a surprise attack. Now, seeing its reaction, it was probably bullied badly.
Zhu Yanchen clearly knew the temper of his subordinate quite well. He took out the large brain sample and handed it to Ai Xiaoxiao with great seriousness. She nodded at him with an expression that had a hint of disdain. She thought for a moment, then threw a few pieces of candy on top of the luggage.
“Thanks for your hard work. I’ll study it as soon as possible.” Without the arrogance and sarcasm on her face, Ai Xiaoxiao leaned against the door, sounding a bit like a soldier.
As soon as she returned to her clinic, Yu Jin arrived.
From entering the city to leaving, the two of them had been working continuously for twelve hours. Shu Jun was a little sleepy, so he instinctively opened Yu Jin’s gift and was then blown wide awake.
Yu Jin had bought them a bottle of lubricant.
Seeing that Shu Jun was stiff on the spot, Yu Jin quickly explained, “After all, it’s for humans to use, and the anti-erosion effect is quite good. Doesn’t Brother Smoke use a gun? We all use this brand to maintain parts, so our weapons wear out slowly… And in the erosion zone, you have to wear old and heavy equipment, which can easily wear out your skin. Applying this solution is quite effective. It may be a bit expensive, but those who work in this field usually keep a bottle with them.”
He gave an ambiguous chuckle. “I guess you two probably brought some, but the brand may not be right. Just in case, brother will give you a bottle that’s more versatile.”
Shu Jun stuttered a few times and quickly stuffed the bottle into his bag. Zhu Yanchen didn’t look over here, as he was probably lost in thought.
Fortunately, Marshal Zhu was in a daze. Shu Jun let out a sigh of relief and then scolded himself for being so jumpy—he didn’t care about making racy jokes with friends before, even about sensitive topics. When he was with his Vice Captain Hu Yan, they could laugh wildly for thirty seconds and then use it as a joke to tease each other.
But now, with Zhu Yanchen still not saying anything, his own state of mind was driving him crazy, taking him back to his adolescence.
He hoped that this mission would be over soon and that the strange atmosphere between the two of them would improve.
And speaking of Hu Yan, the man himself had appeared…
As an “NPC” guide, the three of them spent half a day in Y City, which could be considered a benefit from their superiors. After signing a confidentiality agreement and completing all the formalities, they were taken to the core team of the Blackbirds at the city gate.
Hu Yan had been promoted from vice captain to captain, but he didn’t seem to be in a good mood, looking a little downcast.
Shu Jun thought he could control his emotions. However, when he saw those familiar numbers, he still clenched his fists, and his throat felt bitter. Zhu Yanchen reached out and gently patted the back of his hand.
The two of them didn’t move, so Yu Jin thought they were just inexperienced on their first mission. He cleared his throat and greeted Hu Yan with a steady voice, shaking hands with him.
Hu Yan’s gaze swept over the three of them and then returned.
Shu Jun could guess what Hu Yan was thinking. When he was still a player, he only cared about the mission. Even if an NPC was guiding him, NPCs were mostly silent and wouldn’t eat or live with them. They were more like tour guides for a day trip, where they would pay and receive goods. There was no need to build special relationships with them.
But this time, with Hu Yan present, he didn’t have a choice and had to interact with them.
Although they had lost their old captain, they had just won a major competition, so the Blackbirds were still in good spirits. Reconnaissance missions were never difficult, and there wasn’t much pressure within the team. On the first day, they didn’t leave the safety zone, and Shu Jun performed adequately. On the second night, when Yu Jin went out to command the team to set up camp, they finally had a chance to act.
Zhu Yanchen was more skilled in theoretical research on Erosion Swamps, but not as good as Ai Xiaoxiao in treatment, so he naturally acted with Shu Jun. However, since Ai Xiaoxiao just got the brain sample, the rejection drug hadn’t been developed yet, so the two of them had to rely on their mouths to deal with Hu Yan.
When they entered, Hu Yan had just turned on the indoor purifiers to the highest setting and was eating soup in his pajamas. Seeing two NPCs enter by themselves and lock the tent zipper, his suspicious eyes followed the two of them, and he almost got scalded by the hot soup.
“Lao Hu.” Shu Jun took off his mask directly, not intending to give his vice captain time to catch his breath.
Hu Yan had just scalded his tongue with a mouthful of hot soup, and now he had even knocked over the lid of his thermos cup, causing soup to splash on his socks. He let out a groan with his tongue out, and a little tear pooled at the corner of his eye. Shu Jun casually waved his hand, and a breeze spun around the wet socks twice. Finally, Hu Yan’s scream changed to panting instead.
It was just now the tent was filled with an indescribable smell of soup mixed with the scent of socks.
“Captain Shu?!” Hu Yan gasped for a while, finally coming around. “Aren’t you on your honeymoon with sister-in-law?”
Shu Jun had been brewing his emotions for a long time, but before he could speak, he was stunned by this bolt from the blue, and his speaking style began to resemble Monday’s. “Ah? What?”
“No, you just sent us a sweet group photo of you and sister-in-law a while ago, didn’t you? Like I guessed, sister-in-law is a true beauty. How can you enter the game when you have someone like sister-in-law?
Zhu Yanchen had to conceal his identity, so he didn’t take off his mask, but Shu Jun could feel the intense gaze of the other party.
“Ah, the bros were jealous of you for a while. And to let you have fun in peace, we haven’t bothered you for a while. Aren’t you supposed to be on vacation? How did you become an NPC?”
After being bombarded with three questions from Hu Yan, Shu Jun finally realized what was going on.
To tease him, Hu Yan always liked to call Smoke “sister-in-law”. Now the real Smoke was sitting behind him, so the one in the “real world” must be a fake. It wasn’t surprising to think about it. If Smoke’s identity didn’t match the Blackbirds’ expectations, then the AI pretending to be him would inevitably be contacted repeatedly and consoled.
Thus, it was better to make a pair of counterfeit immortal lovers to show players a beautiful future after retiring and kill two birds with one stone—it would reduce the contact between the team members and the fake Shu Jun, and also show off the beautiful future awaiting retired players.
“I had a little conflict with your sister-in-law, and the atmosphere was a bit tense.” Shu Jun decided to play along. “The <Erosion> official found me and talked about making this program. In any case, I am a part-time NPC, and according to the rules, I can only tell you that if everyone knows, the program’s effect will be ruined.”
Seeing the old captain return, Hu Yan suddenly felt much better. “Of course, that’s great.”
“This mission is actually quite difficult, so you need to be mentally prepared. Me and your sister-in-law… Ahem, me and my friend will help develop tactics for you. ‘One Eye’ is a real NPC, so don’t bother him.” Shu Jun almost slipped up.
“In the future, can you play like this too?” Hu Yan looked at Shu Jun eagerly. “To be honest, Captain Shu, I really can’t adapt to leading this team without you.”
This was exactly the effect they wanted.
“Of course. Originally <Erosion> asked me to come back as an NPC, probably for external guidance. Do you still have the contact information of those captains? Remember to pass on the message for me when the time comes.”
“Hey, a dog can’t stop eating shit*.” Hu Yan laughed while teasing him, gradually letting go of his emotions.
*(狗改不了吃屎) Idiom referring to it’s difficult for someone to change their innate or habitual behavior, even if they are aware that it’s wrong or undesirable (AKA a leopard can’t change its spots/old habits die hard).
Even though they fought fiercely on the battlefield, Shu Jun wasn’t the type to actively suppress his opponents. In fact, it was quite the opposite—he was willing to maintain contact with all the captains and even give tactical advice. Since the game didn’t have a PvP setting, rather than secretly making enemies, Shu Jun hoped that his worthy opponents would retain their strength and become as strong as possible, so that winning would be even more enjoyable.
Everyone in Blackbirds knew about his habit. Although there were people who objected to it, they couldn’t argue with the comfortable environment in Blackbirds, and the matter eventually died down. Although Hu Yan wasn’t old, he would occasionally make fun of Shu Jun, but he never did anything underhanded behind his back and was quite forthright.
It was precisely because Shu Jun appreciated Hu Yan’s frankness and integrity that he promoted him to the position of vice captain.
Seeing Hu Yan regain his mood, Shu Jun couldn’t help but feel bitterness surge in his heart at having to lie to his comrade-in-arms, who had fought alongside him for years.
Until they got results from Ai Xiaoxiao, they couldn’t dispel the impact of the shock in their brains. Since they couldn’t convey the truth, they could only use this emergency measure to minimize the sacrifices of each team.
Seeing Hu Yan’s happy expression, Shu Jun suppressed his feelings of being pricked by a needle and couldn’t help but speak again. “Lao Hu, be serious and don’t take it lightly—”
“Speaking of which,” Hu Yan rudely interrupted, turning his gaze to the silent Zhu Yanchen. “This person’s nickname is also ‘Smoke’. How come? Did sister-in-law send him to supervise you?”
“Also?” Zhu Yanchen politely asked.
Shu Jun: “…” His emotions hadn’t even settled yet, and this beast Hu Yan had already trampled on them.
“Ah, you don’t know? My sister-in-law’s game ID is ‘Smoke’. Captain Shu is quite—”
“We suddenly got a notification. Gotta go.” Shu Jun tightened his jaw and rudely interrupted. “Remember what I said. Don’t take it lightly. I’ll keep an eye on you all. If the Blackbirds is short even a single person, I’ll twist your head off.”
Hu Yan hissed a few times. “I’ll handle it. Don’t worry.”
Shu Jun put on his mask and dragged Zhu Yanchen out of the tent, taking several deep breaths at the entrance of the tent.
Before the mission started, he had hoped that the atmosphere between the two of them would improve naturally. But now, that stiffness had not only not improved, but it seemed to be turning into amber, freezing him in place.
“I encrypted our conversation.” Zhu Yanchen considerately broke the silence. “The system can only see the altered content, and it’s not surprising that it classified ‘Smoke’ as an NPC. As for the NPC’s appearance…”
“I can guess. It’s just to silence the other Blackbirds.” Shu Jun didn’t dare to turn around and spoke to the empty space in front of him. “What did you make of our conversation?”
“To the system, the main content of our communication is about flower gardening techniques, and tactics are just an add-on.”
Shu Jun had nothing to say. He did indeed have two pots of bellflowers on his balcony, barely enough to make up the numbers.
After a moment of silence, he asked, “People in the ‘other side’ city can’t all be players. Did you prepare an NPC for our meeting as well?”
In the “real world” where the players resided, NPCs were real NPCs.
“Yes,” Zhu Yanchen answered honestly. “An elderly man in his eighties.”
…In a way, they had a strange understanding of each other in this regard. Shu Jun laughed dryly.
Zhu Yanchen’s intention was quite clear. If he hadn’t carried out that suicide operation himself, and they had really met in person, their relationship would only have been limited to text communication. He couldn’t possibly keep dragging an eighty-year-old man around to eat and drink with him.
Moreover, if he hadn’t intervened halfway, Zhu Yanchen had planned to conduct his own investigation into the erosion zone and wait for death.
Marshal Zhu had indeed played a good game—after he died silently, Shu Jun wouldn’t be too surprised by the death of an “elderly” friend in that fictional city.
Thinking of this, Shu Jun’s stomach suddenly twisted into a knot.
…After this mission was over, they would have a serious talk.
The author has something to say:
Poor Shu Ge, being executed publicly (?)
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One thought on “Access Denied Ch39”
Thank you for the update ❤️💯