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Genius Mechanic

Genius Mechanic: Chapter 26

Tianyu Star Contaminated Zone

26. Sandbag

    Proofread by An Zheee and Cloud Chip Cake

    Inside the conference room of the Tianyu Star Management Bureau, a group of individuals had gathered, their gazes unwaveringly fixed on the virtual screen displaying blue dots that represented the Competition-level mechas. It had been a full 6 hours since the last team of mechas entered, and there were still no signs of recovery for the crucial base stations C and D.

    “Can’t we fix the jump system?”

    “It’s not possible. The system is perfectly functional on our end. The main issue is that the pollution on Tianyu Star has interfered with the system as a whole. The core problem can’t be resolved!”

    “Is there no other solution?”

    “Unless a mecha pilot can restore one of the base stations, we can’t establish contact with the inside.” A staff member wiped their brow and explained earnestly, “Base stations C and D serve as the core of Tianyu Star’s defense and control system. The repair programs can activate the highest defense authorization, and once that’s done, we can bypass pollution interference and establish communication between the two points.”

    Amidst the cacophony of voices, the representatives from the Bureau, Gale and YDS…

    The heads of the mecha bases were well-versed in handling such situations, but this was the first time they were facing such an urgent crisis.

    Currently, the location information on the virtual screen and the feedback reports from the competition system were their last lifeline. They relied on the mecha pilots executing the mission to solve the problem. If they couldn’t solve it, they would have to request intervention from the Star Alliance military to directly dismantle the defense system established in Tianyu Star Contaminated Zone and execute a controlled rescue.

    But if the defense system on Tianyu Star was destroyed, the high-level Contaminated Zone would be completely exposed, potentially impacting the surrounding planets and space routes. The consequences were incalculable. Therefore, the best approach was to have the mecha pilots eliminate the contamination source to avert the crisis.

    The current location information indicated that a large number of Competition-level mechas were gathered around Base Station C. But this safety was temporary, without additional confirmed information, their being out of contact was a risk.

    In the short term, the mecha pilots wouldn’t be in danger. However, if damage reports from mechas appeared, they would have to ensure the safety of the mecha pilots and resort to violently dismantling the defense system.

    “After our investigation and analysis of recent monitoring data, there may be more than one S-Level pollutant source at Base Station C’s position.” The bureau chief pointed at the map on the virtual screen. “There was a mutated A-Level pollutant known as ‘Centennial Orchid’ in that area before. Its roots penetrated deep into the bottom of the station. Due to the special nature of this mutated pollutant, it’s quite rare. We didn’t immediately remove it at that time. It hadn’t shown any signs of advancement for many years, but a few days before the anomaly appeared on Tianyu Star, we detected a significant increase in its values.”

    Another person inquired, “So, are you saying that this ‘Centennial Orchid’ might be the cause of the system failure on Tianyu Star?”

    The bureau chief presented the data on the mutated Centennial Orchid from the files, and the others gasped in shock.

    As a Competition-level Contaminated Zone, the base stations were never within the competition area’s vicinity, and participating mechas were not allowed to enter the station’s ranges… This was their first encounter with the Centennial Orchid’s data, and seeing its slender roots stretching deep beneath the sand in particular, showed it completely defied the plant’s general characteristics. Its mutated leaves were divided, and it resembled a ferocious beast lurking in the sand, with its seemingly diminutive exterior concealing roots that spanned up to 10 kilometers.

    The mecha pilots entering the Contaminated Zone had the task of restoring the functionality of the base stations. They might not necessarily pay attention to these seemingly ordinary hidden pollutants.

    YDS’s representative said, “Both Ke Lin and Hu Luobu have experience leading teams to deal with S-Level pollutants.”

    Gale’s representative also spoke up, “The Centennial Orchid can’t move, and it’s the easiest to handle among plant-type pollutants. Qi Sicheng and Zhao Lejie are also present. With their combined experience and Qi Sicheng’s wartime command abilities, you can rest assured.”

    The conference room fell silent as the coordinates were displayed. “On the map, the mecha pilots closest to the Centennial Orchid right now are… KID’s Ji Qingfeng, Lin Yao, and Gale’s Zhao Lejie.”

    YDS’s representative: “?”

    Gale’s representative: “…?”

    Why was Zhao Lejie mixed up with KID’s people?

    When KID was mentioned, everyone turned their gaze towards KID’s representative sitting at the end of the conference room.

    Not long after leaving the control room, Shen Xingtang came out, still covered in grease. Noticing the attention from the others, she calmly stated, “We have four mechas going in, two are S-Class, and two A-Class.”

    Seeing that others didn’t speak, Shen Xingtang continued, “Collaboration experience: 0. Team coordination level: None.”

    “As for command,” she thought for a moment, mentally skipping over Lin Yao, Ji Qingfeng, and the nonchalant You Su, and only the technician-turned-mecha-pilot Ying Chenlin remained. Regrettably, she added, “I’m sorry, our team doesn’t have that resource.”

    The others remained resolute.

    Shen Xingtang’s expression remained neutral. “Directly disabling the defense system on Tianyu Star might be faster.”

    Near the ruins and sand near Base Station C, five mechas stood on the debris.

    When Ying Chenlin spoke, Zhao Lejie’s first instinct was skepticism. “How do you propose solving it?”

    Solve the quicksand issue? How could that be solved!?

    “Didn’t you read the information about the Contaminated Zone before coming in?” Ying Chenlin cut straight to the point, “No matter how the Contaminated Zone on Tianyu Star mutates, the main cause of the anomaly must be a pollutant source or pollutant within the zone. It’s unlikely for external pollutants to appear within the comprehensive monitoring and defense system.”

    Hearing this, You Su, with his fingers poised over two shared sensory nerves, came to a halt.

    He lifted his gaze slightly, looking in Ying Chenlin’s direction. “It wouldn’t be an external pollutant. Only pollutants of a super S-Level could breach the Alliance’s defense systems. If such pollutants of that level truly appeared on Tianyu Star, the Alliance would have taken action.”

    Ying Chenlin responded, “That’s why these sand whirlpools would trigger reactions in a mecha’s energy and mental power. The pollutants controlling them are most likely behind this.”

    Zhao Lejie paused for a moment. “This is a consensus, but with so many pollutants in the Contaminated Zone, how can you determine which pollutants are causing this?”

    “That’s why we need to eliminate possibilities. The data in Tianyu Star’s records provides detailed information on various pollutant anomalies.” Ying Chenlin opened the data carried in the mecha’s system and continued while operating it, “We need to examine the data from the past week, first ruling out B and C-Level pollutants. Next, we eliminate A-Level pollutants that show no signs of mutation. These three types of pollutants won’t advance to S-Level pollutants in a short time.”

    Hearing this, Zhao Lejie frowned slightly. He also understood this logic. “But this is the Tianyu Star Contaminated Zone, with a basic pollution value of over 5000. There are too many A-Level mutated pollutants. How can you determine which pollutant is affecting this stretch of sand?”

    Every mecha pilot understood that anomalies within the Contaminated Zone were caused by pollutant sources or pollutants. However, the sand ruins near Base Station C were evidently disturbed by the pollution, with their communication systems barely functioning over short distances. The system for detecting pollutant values had gone completely haywire. They could determine the current pollution level of this area, but couldn’t precisely locate the coordinates of the core pollutant causing this change.

    Ji Qingfeng also briefly pondered. “Unlocatable. I just used the detection system, and it shows the same pollution level for all nearby areas. Pollution reactions exceeding 6800 are everywhere. The mecha’s detection system is now useless.”

    Lin Yao added, “If only we could still communicate with the outside world. The Bureau’s detection system is more accurate and could lock onto its coordinates.”

    In theory, that approach would work. However, getting rid of the threat posed by the quicksand required assistance from the Bureau.

    Did that mean they had to locate and eliminate all nearby A-Level mutated pollutants, one by one?

    At that moment, Ying Chenlin said, “No need to contact the outside world. Don’t we already have the coordinates?”

    Zhao Lejie was taken aback and started searching through the data. “What coordinates?”

    Ji Qingfeng and Lin Yao were also surprised. Did the Bureau provide them with such coordinates?

    “In the information provided by the Bureau, there’s a detailed record of the activity and coordinates of various pollutants over the past week,” You Su said in a calm tone. “Isn’t that right?”

    Ying Chenlin was about to explain when he heard You Su’s words, so he continued with the explanation.

    “That’s right. Base Station C has a base tower. The Bureau had already researched the surrounding environment. Considering that the influence of this stretch of sand exceeds 10 kilometers, we first eliminate pollutants from the animal category that frequently move. Then we assess its impact range… There are only four remaining A-Level mutated plant-type pollutants.”

    Ying Chenlin continued, publishing the list of eliminated pollutants on the public channel. Everyone stared intently at the data he presented. As the coordinates of each pollutant darkened, only one remained in front of everyone.

    “Near Base Station C, A-Level mutated plant-type pollutants with a wide coverage… We’re quite lucky; there’s only one left.”

    Ying Chenlin concluded simply, “Here it is.”

    Zhao Lejie read the name of the pollutant and took a deep breath. “Centennial Orchid.”

    “Indeed, quite lucky.” You Su sent the pinpoint information on the channel. “It’s only two kilometers away from us.”

    Centennial Orchid, an A-Level mutated pollutant registered within the Tianyu Star Contaminated Zone, had shown no signs of advancement for years, and its abilities remained unknown.

    In the sand ruins, dilapidated buildings were buried in the yellow sand. The surface of the sand was interspersed with exposed sandstone, and only a few plants grew.

    A quick glance revealed a distinct cluster—the Centennial Orchid’s leaves blanketed the sand. It sprawled across the ground, its inverted cone-shaped leaves broad and large, with deformed sawtooth-like edges, resembling an octopus in the sand.

    The tips of the leaves were withered, but the conspicuous feature was the female cones it bore.

    The fruits emitted a faint radiance, and a strange scent exuded from the crevices of its pores as if condensing something eerie.

    This pollutant had existed within the Tianyu Star Contaminated Zone for many years; it seemed almost as old as the zone itself. Over the years, it hadn’t displayed any special abilities. It mutated from a B-Level pollutant to an A-Level, finally stabilizing as a quasi-S-Level pollutant with a consistent pollution value exceeding 6800.

    Sensing the approach of mecha energies, the calm sand began to subtly vibrate. Sand and dirt fell from the ruins, and an eerie sensation spread instantly.

    Ji Qingfeng looked at it from a distance and felt a bit apprehensive. “This thing doesn’t look easy to mess with.”

    When Zhao Lejie saw this pollutant, he involuntarily inhaled a breath of cold air. He casually picked up a stone and threw it. However, before it could reach its target, the peculiar sand terrain around the Centennial Orchid hindered its path. The stone never hit the Centennial Orchid; as it fell to the ground, it gradually vanished, consumed by the sand within moments.

    Seeing this, the group of mecha pilots exchanged thoughtful glances.

    Inside KID’s internal channel, Ying Chenlin observed the situation and said, “The records on the Centennial Orchid aren’t very clear. We’ll have to figure out its specific situation through trial and error.”

    Suddenly, You Su interjected, “Try it directly?”

    Ying Chenlin glanced around, noting that the approaching tornadoes were getting closer. “Yes, let’s try it directly.”

    Ji Qingfeng didn’t even bother with honorifics anymore. “Bro!? What do you mean try it directly? Stick to its face to test?”

    You Su’s right hand swiftly switched to the Sniper Cannon and fired rapidly with lightning speed.

    Ji Qingfeng gulped. “Brothers, were we always this reckless?”

    Zhao Lejie was still analyzing the situation when an energy blast struck the Centennial Orchid from a distance. Instantly, the Centennial Orchid was provoked; its sprawling leaves stood upright, and it immediately swept towards their direction. Zhao Lejie dodged in a panic and exclaimed, “Wait, are you planning to just charge in like this!?”

    Lin Yao had already unsheathed his blade. “We’re right in front of it. Why worry about whether it’s good or bad? Let’s just get it over with.”

    Zhao Lejie hurriedly argued, “What about the lineup? What about strategy? What about coordination?”

    KID’s lineup consisted of two front-line defenders, one Stealth unit, and one ranged unit—a classic close-combat front-line team, but lacking substantial control capabilities.

    The Centennial Orchid’s position was fixed. For fixed pollutants like this, the best approach was to control it continuously and let the ranged mecha maintain maximum output.

    Just as he voiced these concerns, no one from KID spoke further.

    After a moment, Ying Chenlin looked puzzled. “But don’t we have a lineup?”

    Zhao Lejie was baffled. “What?”

    Ying Chenlin examined their formation. “Three melees, one ranged, plus you’re a Tank mecha. The front line is well-covered.”

    Zhao Lejie: “???!!!”

    Lin Yao kicked away the leaves of the Centennial Orchid and charged forward in his mecha. The mechanized Long Blade on his mecha swept away the leaves of the Centennial Orchid. “Dodge a bit!”

    Zhao Lejie cursed inwardly and immediately took flight, joining the battle.

    What kind of lineup was this?! It’s a complete mess, with more melee than ranged. This was an S-Level pollutant. Were they all just going to rush in and take hits?

    After firing a sniper shot, You Su swiftly retreated, drawing the Centennial Orchid’s leaves with high-speed flight.

    At the first opportunity, Ying Chenlin flew to another section of the ruins. The mecha he was piloting was similar to a B-Class mecha, equipped with a Thunder-Magnetic Cannon and Light Blade. “Lin Yao, Ji Qingfeng, move forward. We’ll provide cover for you.”

    Lin Yao hesitated for a moment, then immediately followed Ying Chenlin’s lead!

    Wait a minute, wasn’t Ying Chenlin a mechanic? How was he so skilled in combat maneuvers??

    Ji Qingfeng evaded attacks in a disheveled manner and muttered, “Damn, why does this scene feel so familiar?”

    Before he could figure out where the familiarity came from, the Centennial Orchid’s leaves swiftly swept toward him.

    In the chaos, the five mecha pilots relied on their own abilities to dodge the Centennial Orchid’s attacks. They narrowly passed each other during evasive maneuvers, nearly colliding.

    Zhao Lejie exclaimed, “It’s so chaotic that even my own mother wouldn’t recognize it!”

    The S-Level Centennial Orchid was far from the calm description found in its records. Its leaves were large and fierce. Once they unfurled and struck a mecha, they were strong enough to flip it over. Moreover, the surrounding area was filled with vortexes through its influence, and one wrong move could send them into the quicksand to be directly dragged under.

    Even the sky wasn’t safe, as fierce winds loomed in the distance.

    They had to not only withstand the Centennial Orchid’s attacks and the fierce winds but also ensure safe footing. Falling into the quicksand here would leave no chance for mutual rescue, as the Centennial Orchid wouldn’t give them the opportunity.

    Seeing the leaves sweeping towards their rear, Zhao Lejie activated his
    energy shield to cover his back. “I’ll hold the leaves off for you while you find a way to deal with it—”

    Before he could finish speaking, he suddenly realized that the area behind him was completely empty, without a single mecha standing.

    Instead, in the sky, several mechas were flying, observing him getting battered below.

    “Why are you running?!” Zhao Lejie angrily exclaimed.

    Ji Qingfeng sprinted away rapidly. “Are you crazy? It’s attacking you directly, and you’re not even dodging?”

    Zhao Lejie felt quite embarrassed. As the chief Tank mecha pilot at the Gale, it had always been his duty to protect his teammates when he activated his shield. However, now that he activated his shield, there was no one standing behind him. It made him feel foolish, and he had never felt so humiliated in his life.

    Ying Chenlin, noticing the Centennial Orchid’s movements and the direction of its leaves’ sweep, focused on Zhao Lejie’s mecha. “How’s Zhao Lejie’s mecha’s damage tolerance?”

    Ji Qingfeng took a moment to explain, “Oh, his mecha is probably the tankiest one in our Dawn Galaxy.”

    The tankiest mecha in the Dawn Galaxy? Ying Chenlin’s gaze fell on the shield that Zhao Lejie had hastily retracted, then switched back to the public channel. “Zhao Lejie, let’s coordinate.”

    Zhao Lejie raised his head in a daze. Were these people finally realizing the importance of teamwork?

    Ying Chenlin spoke seriously, “What’s the maximum damage absorption of your shield?”

    As one of the five major mecha types for team battles, Tank mechas usually carried two types of weapons. One was a defensive weapon capable of protecting the whole team, and the other was a close combat weapon to break through enemy lines. Zhao Lejie, the chief Tank mecha pilot at the Gale, had an energy shield as his defensive weapon. The shield could offset physical damage and mitigate energy damage.

    Hearing Ying Chenlin’s question, Zhao Lejie quickly replied, “I have Resilience, which can offset physical damage.”

    To gain the trust of the others from KID, he added, “I can withstand continuous attacks from A-Level pollutants for an hour. Against S-Level pollutants, I can hold out for at least 20 minutes.”

    Ying Chenlin’s interest was piqued. He raised an eyebrow and asked, “20 minutes?”

    Proudly, Zhao Lejie stated, “Exactly, 20 minutes.”

    Ying Chenlin gave a direct order, “Coordinates: East 457, North 99. Open your shield and adjust the energy output to 60. Once you reach the target coordinates, don’t move. Maintain your energy output. We’ll control the energy output frequency; it won’t exceed your capacity.”

    Zhao Lejie hesitated, his doubts apparent, but he followed the instructions and reached the specified position.

    “Stand there, don’t move,” Ying Chenlin said coldly.

    Startled by the command, Zhao Lejie didn’t dare to budge, enduring the damage while his energy shield absorbed the hits.

    The Centennial Orchid seemed to notice him, and in the next second, its assault intensified. Its leaves struck Zhao Lejie’s mecha in a rapid series of impacts.

    Ying Chenlin added, “Push the shield energy to 60.”

    Zhao Lejie pushed the energy shield’s output up, his face full of questions. Before he could voice them, another Thunder-Magnetic Cannon shot flew over his head and grazed his energy shield, hitting the Centennial Orchid.

    After firing the Thunder-Magnetic Cannon, Ying Chenlin said, “Good, maintain it.”

    Zhao Lejie was baffled. “Maintain it?”

    You Su’s sniper shot soared over Zhao Lejie’s head, accurately hitting the Centennial Orchid’s leaf. He explained casually, “Haven’t you heard of sandbags? Just stand there.”

    More than ten kilometers away from the base tower of Base Station C in the Tianyu Star Contaminated Zone, there was a sub-defense zone named “Temporary Defense Area.”

    The defense system blocked external attacks, deflecting countless sand and dust particles onto the energy shield formed by the defense system. At this moment, nearly ten mechas had gathered within the defense area.

    This was the Secondary Defense Zone of Base Station C. It was situated about 15 kilometers away from Base Station C. It possessed the same defensive capabilities as the base tower of Base Station C. To evade the sandstorms and flowing sands, they were forced to activate the defense system for this area.

    The majority of the forces from the Gale and YDS teams had assembled here, along with a few mechas that had previously been trapped.

    “Still haven’t managed to contact Zhao Lejie?” asked a man in a mecha combat suit.

    “No word from the backup team. We’ve been unable to reach him since he got swept away by the wind.” Another mecha pilot made another attempt. Due to the Contaminated Zone’s magnetic field interference, communication beyond a certain range became impossible. “I hope the backup team is okay.”

    Qi Sicheng had confidence in Zhao Lejie. “No worries, he’s in a Tank mecha.”

    Hearing this, the others felt reassured as well.

    Qi Sicheng stood for a while before Ke Lin, the captain of YDS, approached. “The situation here is extremely bizarre. Given the current circumstances, reaching Base Station C in this harsh environment is nearly impossible. The risks are too high if we all set out together. Cooperation is our only option.”

    Qi Sicheng nodded. Looking toward the control room, he solemnly said, “If we can’t break through…”

    Inside the Secondary Defense Zone, a few mecha pilots were gathered in the control room. The repair programs could fix the system here, but they couldn’t remotely control the core systems over in Base Station C.

    “Remote controls are still out of commission.”

    “Base Station C is currently secure, but the area around it is filled with quicksand, and the magnetic field is in complete disarray.”

    “We still can’t get close.”

    Qi Sicheng said, “Can the pollution detection system here be used? We need to confirm the pollution situation and determine the next course of action.”

    If they couldn’t proceed further, they would have to make use of the detection system in this defense area, attempt to locate the pollution source, eliminate the pollution and pollutants first, and then proceed to Base Station C.

    “I’ll try to repair it!”

    “You can use the detection system here; it’s the highest level of detection system!”

    The programs embedded in their mechas were limited, while the programs in the base station system were primarily frontline technology from the Star Alliance.

    They couldn’t establish contact with the Management Bureau for Tianyu Star, but as long as the pollution interference was eliminated, some of the functions of the base station systems within Tianyu Star’s Contaminated Zone could still be used. They couldn’t be employed for long-range and large-scale applications, but they should be functional for detecting the situation near Base Station C.

    Ke Lin also approached, his voice excited. “Quick, check.”

    “The target location is 6 kilometers away from us, with a pollution value exceeding 6800. The core pollutant is—a mutated pollutant, the Centennial Orchid,” the mecha pilot operated swiftly. “The detection system can connect to nearby concealed ground equipment. Let me see if I can restore the visual information!”

    All eyes were fixed on the virtual screen inside the control room, each person’s expression grave.

    In the next moment, the detection system barely captured a few seconds of footage, instantly displaying it before everyone.

    “That mecha, isn’t that the backup team?” a mecha pilot said.

    On the screen, there was a near S-Level pollutant, the Centennial Orchid, waving its massive leaves, and standing not far from it was a deep blue mecha.

    Zhao Lejie, in the deep blue mecha, bore the distinctive color-striped pattern of the Gale Team. At this moment, he had his energy shield activated and was outputting energy on a large scale, making him resemble a blue-glowing light bulb amidst the sand.

    Ke Lin, the captain of YDS, looked at Qi Sicheng with confusion and asked, “What’s Old Zhao doing?”

    Qi Sicheng’s brows furrowed tightly. “What is he up to?”

    The mecha pilot who captured the footage had a complicated expression as he explained, “Boss, it seems like the backup team is taking a beating.”

    The Tank mecha stood out amidst the swirling sand of the ruins, its glowing energy shield dazzling the onlookers’ eyes.

    Its solitary figure appeared resolute, facing the lashings of the Centennial Orchid head-on, neither dodging nor retreating, steadfast and unyielding.

    It was a mixture of distress and strength.

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