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Genius Mechanic

Genius Mechanic: Chapter 174

Agaman Sea Star Contaminated Zone (Galactic Ranking Competition)

174. Slinking Cuttlefish and Slinking Stealth

Proofread by Cloud Chip Cake and An Zheee 

At the same time the pollutant appeared, several red mecha signals flashed on the edge of their radar screens.

Ying Chenlin, who was calculating, paused slightly, just about to get a clear view, when those signals disappeared.

The positions of the flag points were all within the inner sea area, and the Agaman Sea Contaminated Zone was divided into various regions. They were heading towards Agaman’s central sea area, with several other peripheral areas nearby. It was possible for multiple teams to head towards the same location simultaneously. The flag points were underwater, which posed a challenge for occupying them, and areas with more pollutants were less convenient to occupy.

From their current situation, the coverage of pollutants in this area seemed minimal, suggesting that more than one team might head for the central sea area.

In the azure ocean, tentacles emerged from the deep water and bound around Ji Qingfeng’s mecha’s waist. As they pulled on the mecha, other tentacles swiftly approached Ji Qingfeng, but before they could get close, Lin Yao’s Spatial Staff swiftly swung open.

“It’s a giant cuttlefish!” Ji Qingfeng exclaimed, “What kind of pollutant is this?”

Ying Chenlin, who had just shifted his gaze from the edge of the radar, where the red mecha signals had been, accessed the database and said, “It seems to be an A-Level pollutant, the Slinking Cuttlefish. These cuttlefish often swim in both shallow and deep sea areas and hunt creatures larger than themselves.”

However, it was strange that there were so few pollutants in this area.

Looking down at the water’s surface, You Su remarked, “Slinking Cuttlefish live in groups.”

“These cuttlefish have low defense but a strong ability to capture prey on the seabed. Ordinary pollutants might have already become their prey.”

Upon hearing this from You Su, Ying Chenlin suddenly realized something and immediately accessed the Slinking Cuttlefish’s database.

The Slinking Cuttlefish did not retreat when besieged by the two mechas. It fought with KID’s two mechas for several minutes, but instead of subduing Ji Qingfeng, it was repeatedly defeated by the attacks of the two mechas.

Its tentacles could not harm the mechas, and sensing danger, it quickly released Ji Qingfeng’s mecha, preparing to escape. However, the two mechas did not give it that chance. As it released Ji Qingfeng, Ji Qingfeng instead grabbed its tentacle, and with his thrusters activated, pulled it out of the sea.

Ji Qingfeng: “This little guy is clever, wanting to run as soon as it sees us.”

Lin Yao: “Cuttlefish swim fast. Da Feng, bind it tightly!”

Just as Ji Qingfeng was about to take out a weapon, he suddenly realized, “F*ck, I didn’t bring a Binding Lock for this battle!”

“Cuttlefish, this type of pollutant, tends to have slightly higher intelligence compared to other pollutants. They’re unpredictable. If we’re going to kill it, we need to do it quickly,” You Su said. “Take a knife and aim for its head.”

Lin Yao lamented, “Ah? We can’t ride the cuttlefish anymore?”

“There’s no choice, it’s not meant to be my family,” Ji Qingfeng regretfully switched to a mecha arm-length curved blade, which shimmered faintly. Seizing the opportunity while the cuttlefish struggled, he plunged the blade into its head, causing a rush of water to spurt out. “And this thing is surprisingly resilient to dying—”

Before he could finish speaking, the cuttlefish in front of him suddenly spewed out a large amount of ink, directly staining the surrounding seawater black.

The ink contained a special toxin from the cuttlefish. It swiftly escaped from Ji Qingfeng’s grasp, prompting Huo Yan to rush forward and subdue it. “Be careful, it can spray ink.”

Ji Qingfeng couldn’t find his way through the seawater and hurriedly flew out. “Got it, it’s no problem. Doesn’t do much harm to the mecha, just blinds you.”

You Su: “But the toxin from this Slinking Cuttlefish is potent. With a little modification, it could be turned into a weapon against pollutants.”

Lin Yao exclaimed in surprise, “That strong ah?!”

Lu Xi explained, “Yes, I just checked the data. The areas where Slinking Cuttlefish live often suffer significant damage, and many pollutants avoid them.”

Ying Chenlin noted the powerful toxin in the ink of these Slinking Cuttlefish. While it posed minimal threat to mechas, it could be devastating to other pollutants. As he descended deeper into the seabed, he observed that there were fewer pollutants than indicated in the database. Moreover, within the 200-meter depth reachable by light, he discovered several similar Slinking Cuttlefish.

At that moment, deep underwater, Ying Chenlin suddenly exclaimed, “Wait a minute.”

Ying Chenlin’s searchlight swept ahead, and many pollutants swiftly swam in his direction. With a quick glance, there were several cuttlefish… They had entered the territory of the Slinking Cuttlefish.

Ji Qingfeng’s hand, moving the knife, paused slightly. “What do you mean?”

Upon hearing Ying Chenlin’s words, You Su looked at him somewhat curiously. “Are you suggesting?”

“A number of teams have arrived in the central sea area,” Ying Chenlin said. “We might have to compete for flag points with the others.”

Huo Yan asked, “So shall we head directly to the flag point?”

Ying Chenlin looked at the cuttlefish rapidly swimming towards him in the distance, and with a quick movement of his thrusters, he swiftly floated upwards. “No, we wait for the others to take the flag points first—while we have ample time on the first day, we need to make more preparations.”

Lin Yao asked, “What preparations?”

At this moment, Ying Chenlin suddenly shot upwards, followed closely by several large tentacles. “Let’s kill more cuttlefish. These cuttlefish are good things.”

-*

In the live broadcast area, everyone watched as KID played with the Slinking Cuttlefish on the sea, while other teams avoided pollutants and moved on after killing them.

[Are A-Level Slinking Cuttlefish so easy to kill?] [Not really?! Cuttlefish are mollusks; they seem to have fiber protection on their bodies too.] [Haven’t you noticed that Qingf’s weapon’s a bit different? He seems to be using a curved blade, right? I remember he used to often use a Short Blade.] [That blade looks very sharp.]

On the main stage, leaders from the Agaman Sea Star Contaminated Zone watched the match calmly, seeing KID indifferently killing pollutants. The Agaman Contaminated Zone had been closed for a long time, so it was a good thing for KID to help clean up some pollutants.

They would bear the consequences of the passive match themselves; without capturing the flag points, they wouldn’t last today.

Li Jingyan stayed in KID’s live broadcast room for a while, quickly turning to Black Crow’s perspective. “Their operational rhythm is faster than it was last year.”

In the official broadcast room, the perspective had switched to Black Crow’s viewpoint. The omniscient view showed pollutants surrounding them. The central sea area had fewer pollutants. YDS and Black Crow were heading towards different flag points, but the distance between the two flag points in the central sea area wasn’t far. As they entered the central area, the two teams met from a distance.

Just as the audience thought these two squads would avoid each other, YDS and Black Crow unexpectedly engaged in combat. The commentator, excited by this turn of events, exclaimed, “Black Crow and YDS each have only five mechas; their Stealths have already gone solo to explore other flag points, and their main forces are clashing in the central sea area.”

Outside the venue, Jiang Simiao frowned slightly as he noticed the common strategy adopted by YDS and Black Crow. “Not good. YDS and Black Crow are prepared; their command objectives are the same.”

Gu Xiaotian didn’t understand and was curious as to why the strong teams would engage in combat. “What does that mean?”

“In this preliminary round format, the first day actually offers the most time, with multiple flag points and vague information about Contaminated Zone, so the actions of each team won’t be too hasty,” Jiang Simiao frowned, looking at the live broadcast room. “These two teams have sent Stealth units to occupy singular flag points while they probe the readiness of each team. They won’t fight head-on in this marine environment, which is perfect for retreat. Their goal is to gather a large amount of information on the first day.”

The worst thing in mecha warfare is unclear information on the enemy mechas. With the situation of all members switching weapons already known, for strong teams, the true opponents are only other strong teams. They won’t truly engage on the first day, but they’ll definitely look for opportunities to probe their opponents’ capabilities and formulate corresponding combat strategies in the remaining days.

Dr. Eric added, “Moreover, it seems this competition doesn’t specify that a team can’t occupy multiple flag points.”

Gu Xiaotian was stunned upon hearing this. If the strong teams occupy multiple flag points, they could eliminate more teams on the first day. “Shouldn’t we hurry to capture flag points?”

Jiang Simiao shifted his gaze from the official broadcast room to KID’s perspective in the match, where the once azure sea had turned into black water, interspersed with several corpses of Slinking Cuttlefish. Their mecha pilots were dissecting them to collect materials. “I told them to recoup costs if they can’t win, but I didn’t mean to do it on the first day! Even if they brought that weapon, they shouldn’t be doing this.”

In KID’s live broadcast room, when they saw several cuttlefish emerge behind Sink, the audience in the room and even amateur commentators streaming on StarNet were stunned. “What is KID doing?”

Other teams had already started searching for flag points and gathering intelligence, but KID killing one Slinking Cuttlefish wasn’t satisfying enough; Sink diving in and drawing out so many had caught their attention. Did they not realize this was a competition, not a harvest of marine pollutants?

Soon, they realized KID’s actions weren’t straightforward. They were indeed killing pollutants, but apart from just killing them, they also dived deep into the sea to lure them out.

Slinking Cuttlefish are unique pollutants in the Agaman Contaminated Zone, often lurking near the central sea area, attacking small or large pollutants. Additionally, their groups are generally not widely dispersed; finding one cuttlefish indicates the presence of a group on the seabed.

Since Qiu Jin, few have questioned KID’s pollutant harvesting assembly line. Now, this assembly line had become Sink and the other long-range mechas diving into the sea to lure monsters, while Qingf and the rest stayed on the sea surface ready to harvest and pick up the goods. After determining the weak points of the Slinking Cuttlefish, the rate they killed at had increased since the first one.

【Even if the ranking match has ample energy, should they use it like this?】

【Damn!? Are they still diving to attract cuttlefish!?】

【Are these people playing passively? They’re killing all the cuttlefish right from the start.】

At the Agaman Sea Star venue, the management originally thought KID would only kill one cuttlefish, but now, they saw them attracting more and more underwater cuttlefish.

A staff member hesitated upon seeing this situation: “Director? Could KID want to kill all the cuttlefish in this area?”

The Management Bureau’s director: “…They wouldn’t be that idle, right?”

At this time, Gale had already occupied the first flag point, and the Stealth mechas of Black Crow and YDS were fighting pollutants near the nearby flag points. When Gale occupied the first flag point, the rhythm of the entire battle seemed to enter a new stage.

【Sh*t, Gale grabbed one and they’re heading towards the central sea area.】

【They left only their Tank mecha to defend the point; the other mechas all left.】

【Why are they all heading towards the central sea area?】

From an omniscient view, you could see all seven flag points, but only five flag points had mecha teams heading towards them.

The furthest flag point had no teams going towards it, and the nearest flag point had too many pollutants. Originally, they thought the teams would either head towards the nearest flag point or choose another point, but the situation early on at the flag points was completely different from what they expected.

“The closer you get to the central sea area, the fewer pollutants there will be,” the official broadcast room commentator observed, analyzing the situation for the audience. “Their initial leap positions are on the periphery, and each team wouldn’t be positioned too close to them. There are many pollutants close to the nearest flag point, and seizing that flag point requires breaking through these pollutants. If other teams come during the battle against pollutants, it’d be very disadvantageous.”

The viewpoint switched to other teams, and the audience then noticed that at another sea area’s nearby flag point, Empty Cicada, which was fighting pollutants, was ambushed from behind by FQJ, and both teams broke out into combat.

The closer the point, the greater the risk of being ambushed.

“Fighting pollutants underwater wastes time, and except for the three major teams sending out their Stealth units, the other teams prefer to go farther to find suitable flag points,” the commentator continued. “They’re all avoiding the areas with dense pollutant populations, and many teams are gathering in the central sea area.”

The flag points on the map were lit up one after another. The three major teams, like Gale, had already occupied flag points. The two flag points in the central sea area hadn’t been successfully occupied due to consecutive battles, but it was different for the other two flag points on the periphery.

In addition to Scorpion King being involved in central sea area operations, Empty Cicada and FQJ were fighting over a point, while the remaining Magician team were heading towards the last flag point.

-*

Four hours into the match, almost all teams have entered the combat phase, except for KID.

KID was on the edge of the central sea area, but unfortunately, there were no flag points around them, and no mechas were heading towards their location. Many viewers switched to KID’s perspective, only to see the entire sea area filled with black water, with many Slinking Cuttlefish corpses floating around. KID’s Stealth mecha was dissecting these pollutants.

In the KID channel, Ying Chenlin looked at the map, noticing that three points had already been lit up. He marked the locations of the other flag points, saying, “There shouldn’t be many pollutants at the two central flag points. They probably haven’t been captured due to chaotic battles. We’re not going to the central sea area.”

Over the past four hours, Ying Chenlin had been observing the information around the flag points on the map. The most important thing on the first day was gathering a lot of information and making adequate preparations. Strong teams would try to gather intelligence on their opponents, while weaker teams would try to capture and defend a point to stabilize their ranking.

Swift occupation meant either a strong team overpowering the point or a small number of pollutants.

Slow occupation meant a significant number of pollutants.

Unoccupied points indicated either a single team slowly clearing pollutants or multiple teams in a chaotic battle.

This was an ocean Contaminated Zone with an 85% pollutant coverage rate. The mecha teams were competitors, and the pollutants were obstacles.

To quickly occupy a point, one needed to understand the situation at the point and clear the pollutants.

“Two outer points, so we have to choose one,” Huo Yan said, looking at the locations. “Which one?”

Ying Chenlin replied, “The closer one. We can prepare for maximum gains.”

The number of question marks in the external live broadcast room increased as KID finally stopped after killing the twentieth Slinking Cuttlefish, also collecting many small pollutants along the way. The management staff breathed a sigh of relief when they saw that KID had finally stopped attacking the sea area. Everyone watching noticed KID’s movements and realized their speed had increased, indicating they were finally starting to search for flag points.

While everyone could see KID’s location clearly from a birds-eye view, the mecha squads inside couldn’t.

Now, in the battle zones around the central sea area, except for Magician diligently killing pollutants at the farthest point, all other mecha teams had gathered nearby. If KID chose the middle, they would join the chaotic battle in the central sea area. If they chose the side, they would contend with Empty Cicada and FQJ, who were fiercely fighting over a point.

【F*ck, they know how to pick ah!】

【This place is tough to deal with!】

【No choice, the good points were taken by the three major squads.】

The commentator also noticed their activity, saying, “Now we see that KID has finally started moving, but the flag point they’ve chosen is very unfavorable. This flag point is located in a heavily contaminated area of the Agaman Sea Star Contaminated Zone, classified as Heavy Contamination Area A, which currently has the most pollutants among all the flag points.”

The official database provided to the mecha pilots was limited, with some information obscured. The pollutant coverage rates of all sea areas are uniformly written as 85%.

While those inside were unaware, those outside could follow the perspectives of other teams and see the overall distribution of pollutants.

There weren’t many pollutants in the central sea area, but the outer ring of the central sea area was heavily polluted. For example, in the area where Empty Cicada is, the perspective showed a dense cluster of red dots, indicating a large gathering of A-Level and B-Level pollutants. Empty Cicada hasn’t even managed to break through and occupy the flag point. KID heading over to compete for a point there is as challenging as competing in the central sea area. At least two points in the central sea area were being contested, and now, with KID, three teams were fighting over the point on the side.

Many viewers were watching KID, and even though they were dealing with pollutants, the strong teams hadn’t completely relaxed.

KID were avoiding battles. While the strong teams aimed to gather more information, KID’s strategy was to avoid fighting.

“We can’t see too many details from our external perspective, but it’s clear that KID’s deliberately reducing weapon usage.”

“Ji Qingfeng’s curved blade is very unusual, and he hasn’t used his Binding Lock in any of the battles so far.”

“The three long-range mechas haven’t used their weapons either. Sink and Trace haven’t fired underwater, and one of Lucy’s weapons is an Enhancement Cannon.”

“However, we can see that Yao and Yan’s weapon configurations are the same ones they used in Kemu Cave.”

Zhang Ge’s peripheral vision fell on Jiang Simiao in the nearby rest area. What exactly is KID planning?

Weapon reserves were one thing, but now nearly five hours had passed since the first 24 hours of the competition. Once all the flag points are occupied and the defense phase begins, it’d become much more difficult for them to capture a flag point.

Just when everyone was wondering what KID was planning, KID entered the combat zone between Empty Cicada and FQJ.

On the battlefield, getting too close reveals your energy traces, exposing your coordinates on the enemy mecha’s radar.

So, when KID approached the flag point, all mechas reduced their energy consumption. Suddenly, the Stealth mecha separated from the formation and dove directly into the deep sea.

【They split up!?】

【There are two teams here, won’t KID be at a disadvantage with one less member?】

All KID mechas had submerged into the sea. Once underwater, they could see traces of battle everywhere, with bubbles rising from the underwater gunfight. Teams that made it into the ranking match weren’t weak. Although KID deliberately concealed their energy traces, both Empty Cicada and FQJ had mecha pilots on the lookout. As KID entered the field, these two teams were already communicating internally.

Even before KID made a move, the Artillery mechas from the two teams fired shots towards KID’s position. KID’s Tank mecha, piloted by Huo Yan, reacted even faster, immediately deploying a Counter-Damage shield as the shells came flying.

Mecha artillery shells are special; they slow down underwater but don’t easily lose their power.

The shells reflected by the shield triggered a fight among the three teams. Yao, the Guardian mecha, stealthily approached Empty Cicada from the side, while Lucy, the Control mecha, set up her Enhancement Cannon. This weapon, originally crafted by Centennial Orchid’s ability [Quicksand], was particularly effective in sandy or aquatic environments. Noticing FQJ’s attack, Lucy fired the Enhancement Cannon, creating a small underwater vortex.

“The Enhancement Cannon has created a vortex,” the commentator exclaimed excitedly, “but Empty Cicada’s Control mecha is equipped with an ice-based control weapon! Quick Freeze!”

Empty Cicada’s powerful ice weapon was more effective underwater. Anticipating Lucy’s maneuver, the Control mecha immediately targeted Lucy’s Enhancement Cannon and fired a shot. The Quick Freeze weapon can rapidly freeze all shells; it froze Lucy’s Enhancement Cannon shot, causing the shell to sink without creating a vortex explosion.

Empty Cicada were known for their water-based combat. Most of their weapons were water-based, and their combination of water-attribute weapons with their Control mecha’s ice-attribute weapon could block enemy artillery attacks and maximize the effect of the ice-attribute weapon.

Not to mention that this underwater environment gave Empty Cicada a huge advantage in battle.

Within KID, Lucy was stunned at the sight. “Empty Cicada’s Quick Freeze weapon is even more effective underwater.”

Meanwhile, FQJ’s Tracking Cannon had locked onto Lin Yao from a distance. The swiftly moving water-based tracking cannon immediately followed Lin Yao, forcing him to open a portal to block the blast. “FQJ is tough too; their Artillery is water-based.”

The Tracking Cannon is much more effective underwater than other artillery weapons. It only stops tracking upon hitting its target. The mechas’ movement speed is greatly affected underwater, which increases the hit rate of the tracking cannon.

You Su squinted slightly, dodging a stray shot. “How much longer?”

Ying Chenlin remained in place, still observing the two teams’ weaponry. “Wait a bit more.”

【Both of their weapons are water-based; everyone prepared for Agaman.】

【KID’s equipment is too limited. Yao and Yan didn’t change their weapons, but the other teams have already switched.】

【KID is poor; changing weapons is too expensive.】

【Trace hasn’t fired yet; that’s really strange.】

【Speaking of Trace, haven’t you noticed that the appearance of Trace’s mecha has changed? Did they switch mechas?】

The commentator quickly added, “Empty Cicada’s Quick Freeze system blocks rapid long-range attacks underwater to near perfection. FQJ has strong single-target attack capabilities, and they’ve already noticed KID. KID has to either leave the flag point area or fight these two teams head-on.”

【Can’t they go around and sneak attack? The sea is so vast.】

【No, the flag point is located deep within a coral reef’s cave, with many pollutants gathered around it.】

The difficulty this location poses lies in the fact that Empty Cicada and FQJ were battling right at the entrance of the coral reef’s cave flag point. To sneak around would require blasting through the coral reef, which would reveal their position, making a silent approach impossible. Moreover, the pollutants there weren’t small. Handling one or two A-Level pollutants was manageable, but with many A and B-Level pollutants at the entrance, the difficulty entering it increases significantly.

This is one reason this point hasn’t been captured. If it were easy to guard and capture, Empty Cicada would have already entered the coral reef’s cave, firmly holding onto the flag point with their Tank mecha.

“KID is now advancing with a five-one split. Although their Stealth mecha’s flanking maneuver is effective, a Stealth can only fool radars; it can’t fool these pollutants—”

【Wait? What is Qingf holding?】

【I remember that thing seems to be from a Slinking Cuttlefish…】

At that moment, just before the KID Stealth mecha, Qingf, was ambushed by pollutants while rapidly diving down, he took out a transparent object from his hand. Just when everyone thought he would be surrounded by pollutants, he suddenly sliced open the object with his curved blade.

As soon as the object was cut, a large amount of black ink suddenly flowed out extensively. The Stealth mecha, carrying the ink, immediately dove down.

【No way!? A Slinking Cuttlefish’s ink sac!?】

【Is he trying to use the ink from the ink sac to cover his form?】

【Isn’t that just a futile attempt? How could Empty Cicada and FQJ not notice!?】

The moment Qingf used the ink sac while diving quickly. Not a single pollutant attacked him; instead, several pollutants fled from the ink. The commentator was stunned: “The pollutants didn’t attack Qingf, he’s moving quickly, he’s nearing the flag point!”

Outside, those watching were taken aback. Dr. Eric’s eyes lit up slightly, and he said, “That’s a Slinking Cuttlefish’s ink sac, it contains a lot of toxins.”

Empty Cicada and FQJ, who were in battle, noticed something. “Wait? Where did all this ink come from!? A weapon? Or pollutants?”

Empty Cicada’s Artillery said, “Leave it to me.”

FQJ: “KID’s Stealth isn’t here; they might be flanking. Be careful of other tactics.”

These two teams weren’t pushovers. Upon seeing the ink spill, both teams’ Artillery immediately switched to long-range attacks, locking onto the spreading ink.

“Empty Cicada and FQJ are attacking from both directions simultaneously with long-range scatter cannons and torpedo cannons,” the commentator said urgently. “Qingf has nowhere to run; he will be hit by the shells.”

Seeing this, Ying Chenlin said, “Both teams’ Artillery are firing. Be careful.”

Ji Qingfeng, hearing the noise, exclaimed, “So many people are targeting me!?”

Lin Yao: “Can you handle it?”

“Yao Bao, men can’t say they can’t.” Ji Qingfeng’s gaze fell into the distance, confidently saying, “I’m a bona fide Stealth mecha, don’t worry, I’m not afraid of even ten of them.”

At that moment, all the viewers, through a different perspective, noticed that Ji Qingfeng had put away his curved blade. A special wristband appeared on his right hand. As the shells from both sides came flying, the Stealth mecha was still within the range of the shells. The collision of the shells caused a massive underwater explosion, creating a surge of bubbles.

【F*ck, with this explosion, Qingf is done for!】

【The Stealth’s magnetic field will be exposed!】

The live stream switched to radar coordinate view, and the commentator passionately said, “Qingf was hit, his coordinates are about to be exposed—wait!? The radar didn’t reveal anything.”

The radar didn’t show the coordinates of the Stealth mecha. Moreover, the Stealth mecha that was previously in the ink had vanished.

The commentator was astonished: “KID’s Stealth mecha has disappeared!?”

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8 days ago

thanks for the chapter!

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