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Genius Mechanic

Genius Mechanic: Chapter 108

Coria Contaminated Zone (Restricted Zone)

108. Resemblance

    Proofread by Cloud Chip Cake

    A functioning station appearing in the Restricted Zone was beyond the comprehension of both teams. Qi Sicheng instinctively furrowed his brow. Their understanding of the Coria Restricted Zone was very vague, and the station’s purpose within the zone was unknown for now. However, judging from the Coria Management Bureau’s attitude towards the Restricted Zone, it probably wasn’t a straightforward one.

    Qi Sicheng’s peripheral vision swept over the shielding system in the distance, which alone confused him, before refocusing on the station.

    “This station is probably related to the Restricted Zone’s entire operating system.”

    “Should we go check it out?” Huo Yan asked upon hearing this.

    “There should be infrastructure near the station, maybe we can contact the Management Bureau.”

    Ying Chenlin’s gaze fell on You Su, who had stopped leading the way forward.

    Since they entered the scorched forest, You Su seemed to already know something.

    You Su was very familiar with this Restricted Zone, more than what Ying Chenlin had initially guessed, and his behaviour gave him an odd feeling. Somehow, Ying Chenlin felt like You Su didn’t really like this Restricted Zone. This feeling was perplexing but truly palpable.

    “Thank you,” Ying Chenlin whispered.

    You Su remained silent, acting like a mere guide taking the shortest route, coincidentally coming across this strange station.

    In the cockpit, Theo gazed at the far-off station. Part of the station was recorded in its damaged data, but when it tried to search for more in-depth data about the station, there were no records within its mecha’s systems.

    “Have we been to this place before?” Theo asked.

    “We have.”

    You Su replied without moving forward. Upon seeing the station, he already knew that the others would be interested in this place.

    Theo persisted in searching the mecha’s data. When it and You Su came here before, it hadn’t developed a mecha intelligence yet, and the data within its systems was like that of a mainstream intelligent system. Upon careful inspection, it found that records related to the Restricted Zone likely hadn’t entered its core database station.

    The fragmented data that didn’t enter the database station seemed to hint to Theo about something.

    Just as Qi Sicheng and Huo Yan hesitated about how to proceed, the Stealth mecha, which had been hovering around the team, reported back, “Captain Qi, we’ve made a discovery over here. Do you want to come and take a look?”

    Qi Sicheng snapped back to attention, “What discovery?”

    “A very strange hole,” the Stealth mecha pilot couldn’t quite describe it, “right at the end of the trench where that strange tentacle was.”

    Upon hearing the Stealth mecha pilot’s description, everyone felt something was off and decided to go check it out.

    Ying Chenlin temporarily set aside his speculations about You Su and followed to see what was happening.

    Zhao Lejie and Ji Qingfeng lagged behind, seeing that Ji Qingfeng was still carrying the mantis, he spoke, “If we can find a safe place, you’d better deal with this pollutant quickly.”

    Inside the mother mantis was an S-class King Worm and a spatial displacement anomalous crystal. Ji Qingfeng knew that carrying this pollutant around in the Restricted Zone, especially with its spatial ability disabled, was a burden and even dangerous. However, for them, who were constantly on the move, dealing with this pollutant wasn’t easy.

    Simply handling the materials was manageable, but there were still many bugs inside the pollutant. Removing some of the outer material on its shell required dealing with the bugs, and the biggest issue was how to deal with the King Worm.

    Ji Qingfeng was reluctant but also understood the threat posed by the pollutant. He said, “We need to find a safe place. We’re all rushing to get out of here and we don’t have time to deal with it.”

    Zhao Lejie suggested, “Simply put, just cut off its head. The crystal is inside.”

    Ji Qingfeng looked at the King Worm lying on his shoulder. “Simply put, my daughter still has its head.”

    The Stealth mecha wasn’t far away. When they arrived, they immediately saw the trench.

    The newly turned soil scattered on the dry branches and leaves. At the bottom of the trench, about a meter in diameter, were traces of dragged soil. At the end of these traces was a hole that went deep into the ground. The hole was larger and wider than the trench, and at the entrance of the hole, there were marks left by the mantis’ legs.

    Obviously, the strange tentacle had dragged the mantis’ legs directly into the ground.

    Seeing this, several mecha pilots fell silent for a moment.

    A pollutant like this one was very abnormal. Even though the pollutant’s main body was difficult to detect deep underground with their mechas’ detection systems, the tentacles exposed on the surface should also trigger a pollutant signal as part of its body, but there wasn’t anything like that.

    “Look at the shape of this hole,” Qi Sicheng noticed the signs of cracked soil at the edge of the hole, saying, “It seems like it didn’t just drag one pollutant in.”

    In other words, whatever was underground has been dragging pollutants down to feed itself.

    And considering its tentacle, it’s likely that this pollutant wasn’t a small one.

    “Hiding under the Restricted Zone?” Huo Yan frowned, “Does Coria’s Management Bureau know about this?”

    This Restricted Zone pollutant obviously wasn’t an ordinary one. It dared to attack even S-class pollutants, indicating that it should be an S-class or a mutated S-class… or there was another possibility, it was at a level higher than an S-class pollutant.

    Lin Yao: “Could it be higher than S-class?”

    “It’s not very likely. If it were higher than an S-class, Coria’s Management Bureau would have discovered it during the Black Hole’s chaos.”

    Zhao Lejie understood the situation. They came to the Coria Contaminated Zone to investigate the Contaminated Zone due to the Black Hole event’s chaos. Coria’s S-class pollutants were discovered, and at that time, they had captured the Black Hole’s magnetic field properties.

    “The Alliance has captured the Black Hole’s properties. They would definitely pay special attention to any hazards the Black Hole left behind. If this thing is higher than S-class, wouldn’t it leave some signs behind?”

    Lu Xi: “When we were assigned this mission, only 10 threatening S-class resources were mentioned to us.”

    While the others were discussing, Ying Chenlin inspected the hole for a while and then walked to the other side of the hole to observe more. He used the mecha’s scanning system to scan and analyze the soil texture on the ground. He found that the hole extended deeper underground, not only downward but also forward. He closed the pollutant scanner and turned on all the other scanning systems inside his mecha.

    You Su did not join the other mecha pilots. His mecha stopped outside the hole, and all control systems on his console were on, particularly, his weapon systems were readied. In his direct line of sight, another mecha had left the mecha group and walked to the other side of the hole. He frowned slightly, and his gaze swept over the pollution detection radar that had not responded.

    Theo: “There’s no record of such a strange pollutant in my data!”

    “Don’t I have memories of things not in your database station?” You Su’s tone was flat, “But this place is indeed much stranger than it was eight years ago, it’s quieter.”

    Quiet to the point of being abnormal.

    After hesitating for a moment, Theo asked, “Should we report to the Frontier Army?”

    The mechas in front of them gathered together, evoking a scene from his memory.

    In a brief moment, the gloom in his eyes dissipated, and he returned to his lazy appearance.

    “Report what?”

    You Su’s hand had been resting on the weapon console, and his left fingertip, connected to the empathetic nerve, gently rubbed it.

    “I’m a former frontier mecha pilot. At most, I’m just a concerned citizen now.”

    His gaze fell on Ying Chenlin’s mecha, “Besides, there’s no need for us to report. Someone else is looking at things more carefully than we are.”

    Just as Theo was about to ask a few more questions, he heard Ying Chenlin’s voice on the shared public channel of the two teams.

    Ying Chenlin said, “You can activate your energy scanners.”

    The discussions among the other mecha pilots stopped, and they activated their energy scanners as instructed.

    In the next moment, their displays showed results opposite to the pollution response scan.

    There was a slightly special energy response at the mouth of the cave, and along the surface, the scanner results varied in intensity, appearing intermittently on their display screens, immediately catching everyone’s attention.

    “How come it has an energy response?” Qi Sicheng frowned deeply upon seeing this report.

    Ji Qingfeng said, “Really? Could that thing from before be a massive energy source?”

    Zhao Lejie couldn’t help but say, “It can’t be! Where in the Alliance are such energy sources even found?”

    Energy sources are usually fixed, and moving energy sources are rare. Generally, only special energy mineral deposits would have such responses. What they saw clearly possessed the agility and attacking capabilities of a pollutant, so why did the pollution scan yield no results, while the energy scan did?

    “The energy scan’s response has disappeared over here.” Ying Chenlin, about fifty meters away from the group, stood on a patch of soil.

    “Either it ends over here, or it’s beyond the detection range of a mecha’s energy scanner.”

    Several mecha pilots looked in Ying Chenlin’s direction, noting the direction the cave extended.

    Beyond Ying Chenlin’s mecha, they could see through the overlapping charred trees in the rear, a faint purple barrier in view.

    “The thing this is extending towards—”

    Qi Sicheng said, “—Is the base station.”

    The base station. The mecha pilots all looked toward the operational base station in the distance. The purple barrier above it seemed to indicate something. The mecha pilots’ gazes toward the base station changed slightly. Assuming that these energy responses were related to that strange pollutant… wouldn’t that mean the pollutant was directly below the base station?

    “No way, right?” Zhao Lejie said.

    Qi Sicheng frowned slightly, “Regardless of whether it’s true or not, it seems like we’ll have to head towards the base station.”

    As Alliance mecha pilots, if there was a significantly threatening pollutant inside, they had an obligation to report the situation to the Alliance.

    In the Restricted Zone covered by the charred forest, there were decayed plants as a lifeless atmosphere pervaded, and the topsoil was identical to the swamp forest outside the area. The Frontier Army squad that had just passed through the entrance were already heading towards the abandoned base station.

    While moving, Lieutenant Lu looked around, “The situation in the Restricted Zone seems to be going smoothly compared to last year’s recorded data. Has it been like this for the past few years?”

    “Yes Sir. Every time we came to investigate the situation in the Restricted Zone over the past few years, the pollutants inside have been decreasing year by year,” the soldier explained. “Pollution levels have also been decreasing with each passing year.”

    Lieutenant Lu frowned as he looked at the detection system, “Lower pollution levels than the Coria Contaminated Zone?”

    “Yes, it’s truly very strange,” the soldier explained. “Last year, we had just completed a mission, and at that time, our reconnaissance results were still higher than the pollution indicators in Coria’s Contaminated Zone.”

    The Frontier Army’s mecha pilots couldn’t help but pay attention to the mecha at the forefront, as they were usually led by another member of the special forces’ reconnaissance team.

    However, upon learning that the applicant for the mission was Old Qiu, their superior replaced the leading officer with Lieutenant Lu. Having spent some time in the Frontier Army, they were familiar with Lieutenant Lu’s reputation. He was an integral assault mecha pilot in the special forces, with extensive experience on the battlefield and exceptional skills. Bringing Lieutenant Lu along for this reconnaissance mission seemed a bit overkill.

    “It’s strange,” Lieutenant Lu immediately remarked, “Pay attention to the surrounding pollutants. The magnetic fields in the Restricted Zone are unique. Be wary of any environmental changes.”

    Upon hearing Lieutenant Lu’s instructions, everyone became alert, not daring to relax even while advancing rapidly.

    Lieutenant Lu looked at Theo’s position on the map, his furrowed brows remaining tense.

    In Coria’s control room, all staff were handling two jobs simultaneously: the concluding phase of the joint extermination mission and the situation in the Restricted Zone on the main planet, making their already busy work even busier. When they saw the Frontier Army’s coordinates on the map heading towards the center, the expression of Coria’s Director in the control room subtly changed.

    A staff member: “Gale and KID are changing their direction. It seems they want to shorten the distance.”

    Coria’s Director: “Can we still contact them?”

    “They don’t have the Restricted Zone’s special system installed on their mechs, so we can only attempt direct point-to-point communication,” the staff continued, “Based on their current route, they should be able to meet up with the squad led by Lieutenant Lu soon.”

    Old Qiu paid attention to the coordinates on the map.

    Coria’s Director looked at Old Qiu, who remained silent, “With the way they’re advancing, they’ll pass through the abandoned base station. You haven’t told me why there’s suddenly a reconnaissance mission.”

    The Frontier Army had requested entry for a mission, and Coria’s Management Bureau had to cooperate. However, if the mission’s destination was the Restricted Zone, that would mean the mission was different.

    Coria’s Director had been working here for many years. During this time, the number of times the Frontier Army entered the Restricted Zone was few and far between. Since the extermination of the mutant pollutant twenty years ago, in the following years, the Frontier Army had entered and exited the Restricted Zone multiple times under the guise of missions. The most devastating incident was eight years ago.

    Eight years ago, there was a pollutant outbreak in the Restricted Zone. Due to its special location, it was impossible to request assistance from the League’s professional mecha pilots. All extermination missions were secretly carried out by the Frontier Army’s mecha pilots. At that time, the Frontier Army’s special army led the mission. However, the special forces’ extermination didn’t go smoothly. Four S-level mutant pollutants appeared, and a large number of outer pollutants breached the border.

    Amid internal and external threats, the special forces were besieged by pollutants. Eventually, the special forces successfully completed the extermination mission, but it was also the incident with the most severe casualties since the start of the Frontier Army’s missions.

    Since then, the Restricted Zone’s evaluation by the Frontier Army has been reassessed, with special reconnaissance teams entering every three years.

    “The last reconnaissance mission was last year, and according to regulations, periodic reconnaissance missions should be scheduled for one year later,” Coria’s Director looked at Old Qiu, “Not long ago, you came to review the older files on the Restricted Zone, and now you’ve brought people over. As the Director of the Coria Contaminated Zone’s Management Bureau, I should also have the right to know.”

    Old Qiu’s expression turned serious, “I didn’t conceal anything. I applied for this mission base stationd on the possible impact the Black Hole had on the Restricted Zone. The Union attached great importance to it, and our superiors sent Lieutenant Lu over.”

    Coria’s Director was puzzled, “But we conducted an investigation of the Black Hole two months ago, and during this time, pollution value responses in the Restricted Zone have been normal, even better than in previous years.”

    Old Qiu hesitated for a moment before speaking, “The Black Hole is just an excuse. I found something in the old files. I hope it’s all just my illusion—”

    Before he could finish speaking, the nearby staff suddenly said, “Director, KID and Gale have changed the direction they’re advancing in!”

    Coria’s Director and Old Qiu stopped abruptly and looked back at the map, only to find that KID and Gale’s coordinates were shifting towards ten o’clock. Coria’s Director was stunned, “With this direction, they’re heading to the base station!”

    Old Qiu’s expression changed slightly, “Find a way to contact them. We can’t let too many people know about the base station!”

    While they were hastily contacting those inside the Restricted Zone, KID and Gale’s mecha pilots had already arrived near the base station. As they approached the base station, its structure appeared before everyone, and the whole group saw the relatively old-fashioned building. The building seemed aged, clearly having not been renovated for many years.

    A Gale mecha pilot said, “Captain Qi, we can’t detect any underground energy responses, but the energy response of the base station is evident.”

    “It’s normal for the base station to have an energy response,” Huo Yan said, looking at the building in front of him, “This base station looks like it was built many years ago.”

    “It hasn’t been renovated, yet it’s still an operational base station?” Zhao Lejie walked around to the entrance of the base station, “What’s this place used for?”

    Ying Chenlin raised his head slightly, observing the minor differences between the base station’s interior and exterior.

    “The antenna signalers on the radar system over there have been discontinued. It’s an old model from a dozen or even twenty years ago. They wouldn’t use facilities like this anymore.”

    As soon as he finished speaking, he had already walked through the entrance of the base station.

    Qi Sicheng was still contemplating, and in that moment, several KID mechas approached the entrance.

    Zhao Lejie: “??? What are you guys doing?”

    Lin Yao: “Since we’re here, let’s go in and take a look.”

    The entrance of the base station scanned the mechas and automatically opened the entrance’s barrier.

    As soon as Ying Chenlin entered the interior of the base station, the anti-pollution scan on his mecha reached its limit. Seeing that the others were still outside, he explained, “The anti-pollution equipment here is activated.”

    With the anti-pollution equipment activated, it meant that even the most basic equipment in the base station was operational.

    It was a fully operational base station, yet it had been left unattended in this Restricted Zone for years, which seemed suspicious no matter how you looked at it.

    Ying Chenlin’s attention shifted from the building to something else. Although the base station was operational, there were signs of damage inside. Using their battle in Qiu Jin as a reference, and considering the damage done to the inside of the base station, it was clear that this wasn’t natural wear but rather that something had attacked the base station. Every corner bore the marks of a battle.

    Although these battle scars had been cleaned up on a cosmetic level, they couldn’t hide the base station’s dilapidation.

    While Ying Chenlin was observing, he saw from afar that Theo had already stopped, and You Su came out of the cockpit, landing steadily on the surface of the landing pad.

    He paused slightly, then drove the mecha closer to the landing pad inside the base station. After stopping on the landing pad, he came out of the mecha’s cockpit.

    Shortly after You Su came out of the cockpit, he saw Ying Chenlin following him down.

    He said when he saw him approaching, “Your isolation suit?”

    Ying Chenlin approached You Su in a few steps, showing him the isolation suit he was wearing, “I’m wearing it.”

    Seeing Ying Chenlin in combat gear, the tight-fitting combat suit outlined the other’s slender yet muscular figure, displaying his physique that he hadn’t neglected even as a mechanic. He averted his gaze, “Put on your jacket too.”

    Ying Chenlin hesitated for a moment, then took out KID’s team uniform from his personal storage device.

    While he was taking out his clothes, You Su had already taken the initiative to walk inside.

    Ying Chenlin casually put on the clothes and hurriedly followed.

    Seeing that everyone from KID had successively disembarked from their mechs, Zhao Lejie, who was still at the entrance of the base station, exclaimed, “Why is everyone getting off!”

    Huo Yan replied, “Didn’t we need to contact Coria? Since the equipment here is so complete, the control room should still be usable, right?”

    “The Management Bureau’s personnel know we’re here,” Qi Sicheng also entered the base station, “The control room is indeed the best way to contact the Management Bureau. The defense system here is still active, so it’s safe. We can use it temporarily.”

    In a sense, this place was indeed relatively safe within the Contaminated Zone.

    Seeing Qi Sicheng enter, the other mecha pilots followed suit. However, Ji Qingfeng couldn’t enter. He looked at the mother mantis beside him and said, “Living pollutants can’t pass through the defense system. I’ll stay outside with it and think about how to deal with it.”

    Zhao Lejie, seeing this, didn’t follow either. “Just kill the pollutant. Why are you hesitating? You can’t possibly take it out with you, right? Besides, even if this mantis dies, in truth your daughter is that live worm.”

    Ji Qingfeng sighed, “People have emotions. Why don’t you?”

    Zhao Lejie didn’t want to stay outside and stare at a mantis or a worm.

    Soon, he followed in the footsteps of the other mecha pilots and headed into the base station.

    As soon as Qi Sicheng and Huo Yan entered the building, they went to find the control room inside the base station. Ying Chenlin didn’t look for the control room. He held Yuan’s mecha key tightly in one hand and saw You Su walking towards a building inside the base station.

    Ying Chenlin looked at the building’s name… a research institute?

    This type of building was mainly used by researchers inside base stations, but this building was larger than the research building Ying Chenlin had seen before. He followed You Su into the building, passing through several doors and entering the main hall.

    There were a few staff members permanently stationed at the Contaminated Zone’s current base station, mostly robots, so there were generally no unnecessary decorations.

    But this building’s lobby’s interior was similar in structure to an external research institute. There was even a control station similar to a reception desk at the front, with virtual bulletin boards and work reports hanging on the walls on both sides.

    Ying Chenlin walked over and saw the work log displayed on the virtual bulletin board. However, most of the important records had been deleted, and only some weapon descriptions were vaguely legible. As a mechanic, he could understand some of the terms. Why would a research institution in the Contaminated Zone be researching weapons?

    After looking at the bulletin board, when he glanced to the side, he saw a work report chart, with a scheduling table next to it.

    The virtual screen here seemed to have been impacted, with some cracks appearing on the screen, losing some images. He took a few steps closer and saw several portraits displayed next to the scheduling table. These small portrait photos seemed to be of the researchers here.

    Most of the faces were young, but there were also elderly ones.

    Ying Chenlin quickly scanned through them, and halfway through, he sensed someone approaching from behind. He casually explained, “It seems like this research institute is researching weapons…”

    Before he could finish his sentence, he caught sight of You Su’s hand from the corner of his eye.

    Ying Chenlin had just stepped back when he bumped into You Su, causing him to halt abruptly.

    “Sorry.”

    You Su’s hand passed over Ying Chenlin’s shoulder and stopped behind him.

    Ying Chenlin sensed You Su’s proximity, and it seemed like he was looking at something.

    With his other hand, You Su held Ying Chenlin’s right shoulder.

    “Turn around.”

    Ying Chenlin was taken aback. “What?”

    At that moment, the force on his shoulder intensified.

    “Wait—”

    Ying Chenlin was forced to turn around, his whole body pressing against the wall, his back against the virtual screen.

    As he lifted his head, he noticed You Su’s eyes focused on him.

    The depths of those eyes were very dark. As Ying Chenlin met his gaze, he noticed his own face and the virtual screen behind him reflected in those eyes. The force from his shoulder, heavy or not, combined with being this close to someone else for the first time, gave him a strange feeling.

    “What’s wrong?” Ying Chenlin asked, puzzled.

    “Don’t move.”

    You Su’s gaze swept over Ying Chenlin’s face, finally resting on a portrait at shoulder height, parallel to Ying Chenlin.

    — It was a face that looked remarkably similar to Ying Chenlin’s.

    TN:

    Poor Da Feng is going through it. Paternal instincts are hard to let go of!

    If you're enjoying the story don't forget to support the author! You can also support me on KOFI for site maintenance, raws purchase or as an energy boost~ 
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