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Genius Mechanic

Genius Mechanic: Chapter 109

Coria Contaminated Zone (Restricted Zone)

  1. Station Chief

Proofread by Cloud Chip Cake

You could say they’re alike, but it wasn’t the kind of similarity found at a glance, it was in their facial features. The person in the photo was a woman in her early thirties, dressed in a typical researcher’s white lab coat, with only half of her face covered, leaving only her eyes and eyebrows visible. She bore a striking resemblance to Ying Chenlin, who was standing beside her.

Ying Chenlin noticed You Su’s gaze shifting, as the person beside him moved his hand away.

“What’s wrong?”

You Su’s gaze alternated between the portrait and Ying Chenlin’s face, lifting his hand from the portrait, which he had initially dismissed as a figment of his imagination. But now, by comparing Ying Chenlin himself with the portrait at such proximity, his familiarity with the person in front of him almost extended to the portrait.

He asked, “Take a look at this person.”

The person blocking his view took a step back, and Ying Chenlin turned to look at the woman’s portrait, slightly taken aback.

Judging similarity solely based on intuition was difficult, especially with just the eyes and eyebrows.

Seeing Ying Chenlin’s attention linger, You Su added, “Her eyes look just like yours.”

“Yeah, they really do!” Theo’s voice chimed in. “Her eyes look just like Ying Chenlin’s!”

You Su glanced sideways, noticing Ying Chenlin’s expression.

Ying Chenlin remained still, his attention fixed on the photo, from the woman’s eyes to her entire face. Her face gave him a familiar feeling mixed with strangeness; it wasn’t a familiarity from recognizing her appearance but rather that he had seen this woman before.

In an old photo album, which his grandfather showed him during his childhood, there were several photos of his parents together, and this person looked exactly like his mother.

Ying Chenlin rarely dwelled on memories related to his parents. In his memory, he had no memories with them. He was raised by his grandfather since childhood and any memories relating to his parents were only those briefly mentioned by his grandfather. After his previous life and being reborn, these memories became insignificant to him. Now, when he thought of his parents, he only remembered that they were exceptional people who had passed away unexpectedly.

But when he saw this photo, Ying Chenlin suddenly realized that his memories of his parents were just blank spaces.

On the wall, there were approximately ten photos. The woman’s photo was positioned in the middle of the third row. Next to it, there was textual information about her research topic. Ying Chenlin’s gaze was firmly fixed on that photo, seemingly confirming the similarities between the photo and the mother in his memory. Below the photo, there was a note indicating the woman’s identity – Chief Researcher (Shi Xuejun).

Shi Xuejun… Ying Chenlin’s eyes paused briefly, immediately scanning the other portraits beside it. His gaze swept across them swiftly, and in no time, he had looked through all ten photos. After inspecting them, he took a few steps to the side.

The other side of the wall had no headshot profiles. Dense textual information summarized the previous research objectives of the research institute within the station. Ying Chenlin scanned through keywords like ‘pollutants’ and ‘weapons’ in a hurry as if he was rushing to deduce something from this information.

The information on the wall wasn’t comprehensive; the virtual screen seemed damaged by an external force, displaying cracks throughout. The fractured virtual screen showed fragmented information, with black patches scattered on it.

You Su watched as Ying Chenlin walked from the photo area to the end of the virtual screen wall. Following him, he expected Ying Chenlin to check the information on the other side but found that Ying Chenlin stopped in front of the end of the virtual screen. His gaze seemed to be fixed on a certain point.

The virtual screen’s end was almost entirely covered by marks of destruction, and only mixed and blurry information was left behind in the latter part of the text. You Su noticed that Ying Chenlin’s gaze hadn’t left it, “What do you see?”

Ying Chenlin’s hand hung in the air, stopping at the very end of the wall of text.

“Here.”

Looking at the end, You Su saw a signature.

When he reached the end of the writing, You Su’s eyebrows furrowed tightly, “Ying.”

Coria Contaminated Zone C-147 Station Chief – Ying.

The latter part of the name was conveniently blocked by coloured pixels, and the only discernible information left about the original Station Chief was their surname -Ying.

“Are they related to you?” You Su asked.

Ying Chenlin didn’t respond. His gaze lingered on the character “Ying” for a few seconds before suddenly looking at the only control station in the lobby. Without hesitation, he ran straight towards it.

The control station had accumulated layers of dust, indicating that no one had touched this place for many years. From the portraits on the wall, the signature with the surname Ying in the notice, and Yuan’s reactions since they approached the Restricted Zone, Ying Chenlin didn’t think everything was unrelated. He just didn’t know where these connections led.

Was Yuan related to this place? Or did his parents, who had never appeared in his childhood memories, have a connection to this place?

The available information was too scarce, and relying on the damaged virtual screens couldn’t reveal more details. To understand more, they had to access the station’s system.

However, when Ying Chenlin touched the activation button on the control station, a prompt suddenly appeared in front of him. A series of special characters popped up, requesting the input of an authorization password.

Looking at these familiar characters, Ying Chenlin was suddenly stunned. He recognized these characters; this was Yuan’s authorization algorithm for initializing its system.

-*

The main building’s layout wasn’t very complex, so the station’s control room was easy to find. The two quickly reached the control room. However, before they entered, Huo Yan’s hand gently blocked Qi Sicheng from moving, “Captain Qi, how about I go in alone?”

Qi Sicheng looked at Huo Yan, “When I came in with you, I was already prepared to share the responsibility with you.”

This Restricted Zone was originally shrouded in secrecy. After their teleportation, the Coria Management Bureau’s attitude and the actions of the Frontier Army suggested a close connection between this place, the Bureau and the Frontier Army. In such a secretive location, this Restricted Zone station that operated even now definitely didn’t have a straightforward purpose.

The most sensible approach would be to bypass this station, avoiding any trouble, and find the Restricted Zone’s gate through a detour. Later, if the Frontier Army and the Bureau came after them, they would at most be considered as trespassing into the Restricted Zone, a minor offense.

Qi Sicheng observed that the station’s facilities hadn’t undergone renovations; many interfaces were already outdated. Clearly, apart from the external shielding system, neither the Management Bureau nor the Frontier Army had entered this station for a long time and had no renovations done.

Without renovations, they probably believed that the functions of this station were sufficient for its purpose.

But this was strange. In an area where outsiders couldn’t enter, activating the external defense system could protect the station from pollutants. However, why were the internal systems of the buildings in this Restricted Zone all activated? This not only wasted energy but also seemed illogical at every turn.

Before, Qi Sicheng would have chosen to avoid the risks, but upon seeing that contaminated creature, he had already changed his mind.

“There’s no pollution reaction, but there’s an intense energy response extending in a direction that coincides with this operating station.” Qi Sicheng had a bad premonition, “The station has a large number of anti-pollution systems active, which can affect radar detection. I suspect that the contaminated creature that attacked us might be below the station.”

Huo Yan asked, “Aren’t you worried that this place is a secret location for the Frontier Army?”

“I know what Dawn’s Frontier Army is like. If they’re really worried about us discovering their secret, the safest method is to keep us in place from the beginning and not let us go anywhere.” Qi Sicheng said, “But obviously, they didn’t.”

Both Qi Sicheng and Huo Yan had their own judgments about the strength of that pollutant.

For a Frontier Army task force, it wasn’t a hassle to carry out an extermination mission. They suspected that neither the Management Bureau nor the Frontier Army had discovered the pollutant’s existence yet. If that was the case, the situation was obviously unusual.

“Hopefully, it’s just our imaginations.”

As Huo Yan was about to push open the door, he found that entry permission was required to enter the control room. They tried to use the Mecha Alliance’s universal mission identification code to log into the system but failed.

“It seems different from other Contaminated Zones. This station’s authorisation is obviously higher,” Qi Sicheng commented after seeing the situation, “They indeed aren’t afraid of us wandering around. There’s another threshold inside.”

“…It’s not an authorization issue; this is an automatic lock,” Huo Yan stepped aside slightly, allowing Qi Sicheng to see the prompt on the control screen, “I’ve passed by abandoned stations in some Contaminated Zones during missions before. The control rooms there automatically lock their authorization. Typically, if a station goes without internal access for more than 7 days, it automatically locks and requires re-access to unlock the system.”

“Can’t this automatic lock be opened?” Qi Sicheng asked.

“These are automatic procedures unrelated to the Management Bureau’s remote system. The station has to be accessed from inside to activate the entire system. If it isn’t in use for an extended period of time, the system automatically shuts down and requires authorization to activate,” Huo Yan shook his head, “If it weren’t for this automatic lock, maybe we could’ve gotten in—”

Before he finished speaking, both of them noticed the virtual screen in front of them, which had been asking for an authorization password, suddenly flickered. The two, who were in the middle of their conversation, noticed the change in the virtual screen. The page requesting the authorization password disappeared with a swipe, and another interface popped up.

—”Welcome, please enter the access identification code.”

Qi Sicheng asked, “Did you do something?”

“No,” Huo Yan paused when he saw the access identification code, “The automatic lock disappeared… and turned into an access identification code interface.”

The two looked at each other. Qi Sicheng said, “Authorization from the Management Bureau?”

Huo Yan denied, “Impossible. The Management Bureau is for remote access. Internally accessing the system like this can only be done manually through the station’s facilities.”

An internal lock that can only be released manually—

The expressions of the two changed slightly. Qi Sicheng looked down the corridor behind him, “Someone’s accessing internally, releasing the automatic lock.”

Qi Sicheng and Huo Yan exchanged glances. “Shall we go in?”

Unhesitatingly, Huo Yan inputted the universal identification code for Mecha Alliance missions. Once entered, the access interface opened, and the long-sealed control room door slowly opened, revealing its interior to the two.

At the same time, in the control room of Coria’s Management Bureau.

The coordinate system displayed all the mecha squads entering the abandoned station. Coria’s Director and Old Qiu watched the coordinate interface closely. When Gale and KID entered the abandoned station, they had already initiated communication with the abandoned station through the Restricted Zone’s system at the first opportunity.

“Still no contact with Gale and KID’s team?” Coria’s Director asked.

Staff: “We’ve sent multiple communication requests to their captain, Qi Sicheng, and Huo Yan, but there’s been no response.”

Old Qiu took a few steps forward, his gaze fixed on the Restricted Zone’s system. The abandoned station was the most vital area within the Restricted Zone, supporting the existence of the entire Restricted Zone’s system. If there were Restricted Zone protocols in the KID and Gale’s mecha systems, they should have already made contact.

“Perhaps we’ve overthought it. We should have just had them wait in place from the beginning. We didn’t expect them to head to the station.”

“It’s been a long time since anyone went to the station. They probably won’t find anything,” Coria’s Director said with a hint of a headache.

“Let’s hope they entered the station just to contact us. When they do, I’ll write the report. They mean no harm.”

At that moment, a red warning message suddenly appeared on the Restricted Zone system. The staff exclaimed, “It’s bad, Director! Lieutenant Lu from the Frontier Army has sent an urgent warning.”

Coria’s Director, who was discussing a follow-up solution with Old Qiu, was stunned. “An urgent report!?”

Old Qiu stepped forward quickly. “There’s no report of pollutants on the Restricted Zone’s system.”

“Are you sure it’s from Lieutenant Lu?” the Director asked.

Before he could finish his sentence, the latest contact request popped up on the Restricted Zone’s system, coming from the Frontier Army squad.

The staff hurriedly answered, and the voice of Lieutenant Lu, the Frontier Army’s squad leader, appeared on the communication channel.

In the communication channel, his voice was accompanied by some interference. Lieutenant Lu said seriously, “Old Qiu, there’s been a change in the Restricted Zone. We’ve detected unidentified pollutant energies.”

In Coria’s Restricted Zone, several mechas flew at high speeds through the scorched trees. Beneath the dead branches and leaves, numerous strange things were crawling out. Their mechas’ internal pollutant detection systems only detected a small amount of pollution, but there were clearly more pollutants in their field of vision than what the Restricted Zone’s system had detected.

Ten minutes ago, while they were heading to the station, they discovered traces of ground movement and several large trenches hidden under the scorched earth and rotten leaves. Before they could carefully investigate the cause of these trenches, they were attacked by a large number of pollutants.

“Lieutenant, there are thirty in the east.”

“Pollutants are also coming towards us from the west!”

“Lieutenant, all information has been transmitted back to the Management Bureau through the system.”

Lieutenant Lu quickly distanced himself, locking onto those strange pollutants as he manoeuvred. The pollutants that had just attacked them were at least A-class. However, there was no corresponding A-class pollutant signal on the Restricted Zone’s system.

Lieutenant Lu frowned.

“Full speed towards the station.”

Outside the abandoned station, Ji Qingfeng and the Female Mantis were waiting at the station’s entrance. After having just dealt with the Female Mantis’s hind legs, Ji Qingfeng took out the spatial displacement crystal from behind the Female Mantis’s body. The offspring that had fallen out during the process had quickly crawled away.

“My daughter, you have too many descendants.”

Only after handling it did he realize what the Female Mantis’s insides had become. The sharp, spiky shell, which was once intimidating, was now practically empty, filled mostly with bugs. Even after a few cuts, he couldn’t extract any usable materials. As if it was always nothing but a shell.

Even if Ji Qingfeng took the spatial displacement crystal away, the Female Mantis, controlled by the King Worm, could still move. The presence or absence of the spatial displacement crystal made no difference to it.

Handling the spatial displacement crystal was easy, but how should he deal with the King Worm?

Ji Qingfeng was hesitating on whether to release the restraint first or decide on the subsequent processing after Ying Chenlin came out.

Suddenly, he noticed some movement in the distant scorched forest. Something was stirring in the dense forest, and a pollutant swept through the scorched forest, rushing in his direction.

Ji Qingfeng hesitated for a moment, then quickly pulled the Female Mantis’s body to the side.

Just as he evaded the attack, he urgently shouted into the communicator, “Old Zhao! Yao Bao!”

Something densely packed was moving back and forth in the scorched forest. Ji Qingfeng kicked away the pollutant and turned around, only to see numerous things coming towards them from the dense forest, with several mechas flying at the forefront.

Zhao Lejie was talking to the Medical mecha pilot at the station’s landing pad when he heard Ji Qingfeng’s shout. He turned around in surprise, “Why are you shouting?”

Ji Qingfeng kicked away a pollutant. “It seems like the brothers from the Frontier Army are bringing a bunch of pollutants over.”

Zhao Lejie: “?”

In the next second, he saw the situation outside the station.

“F*ck me! Is it necessary for you to exaggerate that much?”

The Medical mecha pilot was stunned.

“Why are there so many!? Why didn’t the station sound an alarm?”

Outside the station, a large number of pollutants were gathering towards their location. The station was extremely quiet, with not even its basic alarm system ringing.

Their silent approach made it impossible for the mecha pilots to defend against them. The mecha pilots that were originally resting, and waiting to make contact with the station, hurriedly returned to their mechs, immediately entering combat mode.

Lin Yao jumped into the mecha’s cockpit in a few steps and shouted, “Xi Mei, go inform the others!”

A step behind him, Lu Xi heard Lin Yao’s shout, noticed that there was no warning from the station behind her, and quickly ran into the building.

“I’ll go find them!”

The entire abandoned station hummed, and a large number of pollutants were gathering outside.

Ji Qingfeng looked at the Frontier Army mechas flying overhead, intending to judge the situation. The next moment, he felt a powerful gust of wind rushing towards his left side, and then he saw a familiar tentacle rising from a height.

Years of combat experience allowed him to make a timely turn in that critical moment, narrowly avoiding the attack.

The tentacle’s target was very clear. It quickly swept towards Ji Qingfeng, and this time, its attack was no longer superficial. The giant tentacle bound the Female Mantis’s body in an instant.

If it couldn’t break free from the tentacle, the mantis’s body would simply be dragged away.

“F*ck!”

Ji Qingfeng’s pupils contracted. The moment the Female Mantis was entangled, he immediately retracted the restraint lock scythe, switching his commonly used short blade. The short blade was filled with a large amount of condensed energy. Ji Qingfeng leapt onto the Female Mantis’s body in three quick moves, directly cutting off the mantis’s neck with one stroke.

Ji Qingfeng easily cut its fragile shell and the King Worm dropped out of the mantis’s neck.

Ji Qingfeng: “King Worm! Run!”

The freed King Worm lost all its restrictions, and its movements were somewhat sluggish. Realizing the danger, it scurried into the ground.

When Lin Yao came out to support him, he saw this scene.

“Da Feng!”

The tentacle dragged the mantis’s shell with it but didn’t leave immediately. Instead, it continued to attack Ji Qingfeng.

Ji Qingfeng’s short blade repeatedly struck the tentacle. The King Worm was their prey, and they hadn’t killed it yet. How could they let this ugly thing take it away!?

Outside the station, chaos reigned, but inside the station, it was relatively quiet.

The special soundproof building isolated all external sounds. When Ying Chenlin successfully entered the authorization password on the control console, the doors inside the research facility opened before them fully. Upon entering the interior of the research facility, Ying Chenlin saw brightly lit corridors and virtual display screens flickering at the entrances of each room.

Following Ying Chenlin, You Su entered the corridor after entering the lobby of the research facility, frowning slightly when he saw this.

“What did you just enter?” You Su asked.

Ying Chenlin paused for a moment and finally answered him, “An authorization algorithm, I’m familiar with.”

You Su didn’t speak, and his gaze stayed on Ying Chenlin.

The corridor was very quiet as the two walked forward, one after the other.

When they reached a fork in the stairs, You Su thought Ying Chenlin would go downstairs, but he found that Ying Chenlin didn’t continue forward.

“What’s wrong?” You Su asked.

Ying Chenlin gently grasped the mecha key inside his coat. For some reason, intuition told him that he shouldn’t go upstairs.

His peripheral vision swept over the other side, and there was warmth from the key in his hand.

You Su watched him.

Ying Chenlin took out a repair kit from his personal belongings, rummaged through it, and finally took out a small energy detection device.

“I feel like this path doesn’t lead upstairs.”

Ying Chenlin opened the energy detection device, and the virtual screen that lit up showed a large number of red dots.

“Sure enough, the energy responses inside this research facility are too abnormal.”

He looked at the displayed positions on the energy device and walked to the other side of the corridor. When his finger touched a certain part of the wall, a virtual screen popped up in front of him.

Outside the Restricted Zone, after receiving Lieutenant Lu’s message, the entire Management Bureau became busy.

The detection system’s unusual lack of response and the massive attack by pollutants were obviously beyond their original understanding. All staff were attempting to use the Restricted Zone’s detection system to reposition the pollutants. Without pollutant location information, it was too challenging for the Frontier Army mecha pilots to engage in combat.

In addition to this, there was an even bigger problem.

“The reconnaissance reports from previous years were all normal… the Frontier Army should have detected so many pollutants earlier,” Old Qiu said solemnly. “Contact Lieutenant Lu and instruct him to prioritize the station’s safety.”

The staff member: “Old Qiu, we can’t reach Lieutenant Lu, but their coordinates are near the station, they’re possibly engaging in combat!”

Coria’s Director: “This is bad. At the very least, we need to confirm the situation inside the Restricted Zone. Can’t we establish a connection with the station?”

“It’s strange,” a staff member said. “We did send connection requests to the station, but there’s been no response.”

Both Coria’s Director and Old Qiu wore serious expressions. While other staff members were busy restoring the detection system, their attention was fully on the failed signal responses, especially the important special system inside the station’s facilities, which had yet to respond.

At this moment, a communication request popped up on the station’s interface.

Everyone was surprised, and a staff member quickly answered. In the next second, they heard a voice from the other side of the communication system.

“It should be operated like this, right?”

“This system’s too old; according to the prompts, it should work with this.”

A staff member recognized the voice.

“They’re the voices of KID’s Captain Huo and Gale’s Captain Qi.”

By chance, they remembered that KID and Gale had entered the station.

Coria’s Director didn’t have time to explain much.

“Immediately instruct them to assist the station in responding.”

The staff member responded, “Captain Qi, Captain Huo, can you hear us?”

Qi Sicheng and Captain Huo had just contacted the Management Bureau through the communication system, expecting to be questioned. Unexpectedly, the Bureau seemed more anxious than they were.

They exchanged a glance, and Qi Sicheng said, “Go ahead.”

“I am issuing an emergency mission summons by the Dawn Mecha Alliance in my capacity as Coria’s Director.”

Coria’s Director solemnly added, “In the event of a special situation, we will guide your operations. Make sure to assist in restoring the station’s system.”

Coria’s Management Bureau immediately became busy. Old Qiu stepped back a few steps, his gaze lingering on various systems within the station. He systematically investigated the unresponsive systems, finally finding that the system representing the station’s internal special research institute had disconnected.

Seeing Coria’s Director coordinating with others, Old Qiu walked over and asked, “Has this system never been able to connect?”

A staff member: “No, we are attempting remote control.”

“In the control room, someone can operate it through the control room’s system.” Old Qiu looked serious.

“Use our special permissions for remote access.”

The staff immediately complied. After a few minutes, they reported, “Strange, there are traces of someone accessing this system.”

Old Qiu was puzzled, “How is that possible?”

“I’m checking the access records. The latest record is from 5 minutes ago.”

The staff pulled up the access records.

“Found it, it’s an internal login from the station, and the other party used permission credentials.”

Old Qiu frowned, “Whose credentials?”

“It’s a high-level permission, and the algorithm is…,” the staff paused, “It’s from C-147, Station Chief Ying Songshan.”

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