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Genius Mechanic

Genius Mechanic: Chapter 33

Tianyu Star Contaminated Zone

33. Space

Proofread by An Zheee and Cloud Chip Cake

The five Tank mechas successfully met up with Qi Sicheng’s team, but the encounter wasn’t exactly friendly. They were followed by hundreds of mutated pollutants, creating a spectacular scene of chaos outside the base tower.

Due to the overwhelming number of pollutants, the mecha pilots had no choice but to change their direction and turn around to run.

Upon seeing Qi Sicheng, the bitterness of Zhao Lejie’s day’s experiences surged up, and he exclaimed excitedly as if meeting his backbone, “Boss!”

Qi Sicheng asked, “What’s going on with you guys?”

Hu Luobu exclaimed, “Have you guys gone crazy? Instead of doing something minor, you’ve done a whole lot! Quickly turn off that shield of yours that’s blinding people!”

Zhao Lejie said, “…I can’t turn it off, I have to keep pulling them.”

Does he not want to turn it off? This thing can’t be turned off?

Huo Yan, entering the group, encountered familiar faces. “Isn’t this Captain Qi and Vice Captain Hu? What a coincidence.”

Qi Sicheng noticed Huo Yan. Huo Yan was KID’s team captain and the one leading the group. “Huo, what’s the situation?”

“Our assault team is already near the base tower,” Huo Yan explained as he flew. The frequent flickering of the mecha’s lights continued, “We’re responsible for diverting the pollutants and creating an opportunity for them.”

Diverting the pollutants…?

Qi Sicheng lowered his gaze slightly and saw the pollutants running beneath the flying mechas. He finally understood the purpose of these Tank mechas’ actions. “This method is too energy-consuming, and night operations—”

Zhao Lejie interjected, “Boss, we have enough energy. Our energy levels are all full.”

Hu Luobu, who had been conserving energy the whole way, had used up 30 energy units. Shocked, he asked, “Where did you get the energy from!?”

“Oh, one of the guys in our team came up with a makeshift charging point. Is your energy running low? We’re heading back anyway, so we can take you there,” Huo Yan skillfully began pulling them together. “Let me add you to the channel first. The signal here is sometimes good, sometimes bad. Being in the channel will prevent us from losing contact.”

Hu Luobu exclaimed, “Charging point???”

Zhao Lejie cleared his throat, “Temporary reassignment of energy from a Secondary Defense Zone.”

Amidst the chaotic communication and the messy battlefield environment, voices overlapped:

“Ji Qingfeng has charged in!”

“Come come come, the next one! Charge in, earn profit!”

“Hurry up, there are pollutants coming around from outside! Regardless, we need to get into the base first!”

Qi Sicheng had been on numerous missions, but this was the first time he had encountered such an extremely chaotic scene, with no clear strategy in sight. It felt like going back to the most primitive form of combat. He and a few others, including Hu Luobu, were forced to join this escape, flying while listening to the voices coming through their communication channels.

The area around the entire base tower was in complete turmoil, with each mecha pilot fighting on their own, all with the clear goal of rushing into the base tower.

However, within moments, several mecha pilots had already broken into the base tower.

Once Ying Chenlin charged into the base tower, their assault team of seven had safely entered, and the pollutants were now isolated outside the defensive perimeter of the base tower. “The recovery program is in the control room. Three people head to the control room, others await backup.”

“Pay attention to the internal labs of the base.”

At that moment, Ying Chenlin suddenly noticed a low, buzzing sound accompanied by an electric current, and then he identified the source of the sound—Gale Mecha QSC.

“Why?” Ying Chenlin inquired.

Qi Sicheng glanced toward the source of the voice and saw an A-Class KID mecha that he hadn’t seen before. He shared the intelligence he had, “There’s an observation room with Poisonous Poppies inside the base’s labs. They cultivate a large number of B-Level pollutants there. We suspect that the reason so many pollutants have gathered near the base tower is due to the specificity of the Poisonous Poppy itself.”

“Got it.”

Upon hearing the response from the other side, Qi Sicheng was about to offer more advice, but the signal from the opposite mecha went dark, indicating that the pilot had exited the mech.

Among the chaotic voices on the communication channel, one voice was very clear. It seemed like this person was guiding the chaotic mecha pilots. “Is your commander KID14258?”

“Commander? You mean Ying Ge?” 

“Not exactly. We split into two teams with separate leaders.”

“Our operation’s plan was formulated by Ying Ge.”

“Ying?” Qi Sicheng hesitated slightly. “Huo, is he a newcomer in your team?”

Huo Yan happened to be there. “Digging up information, are we? We’ve got some new kids in our base. What, you want to recruit them? Sorry, our boss won’t agree to that.”

Qi Sicheng had previously tried to recruit from KID’s team, including Huo Yan, but was flatly rejected. He said, “I’m just asking. Will you tell me?”

Hu Luobu added, “Xu Yaojun left your KID Base, right? That’s the newly arrived Artillery?”

“Not that.” Huo Yan said simply, “He pilots a Guardian mech.”

Qi Sicheng noticed another offline mecha signal in the communication channel, also from a KID A-Class mech. Who could the other person be?

Leaving the cockpit of his mecha, Ying Chenlin put on his isolation device and immediately redirected his route towards the direction of the laboratory.

The mission data had already been uploaded to his light brain, and the location of the laboratory was inside. The terrain around the base tower was much more complex than the defensive area’s. As he walked, he flipped through the information about the B-Level pollutant Poisonous Poppy in the data. After quickly scanning the information, his eyebrows furrowed tightly.

The B-Level pollutant Poisonous Poppy was a naturally fragile monster, yet they could survive in the wild due to their innate allure.

This allure only worked on pollutants, attracting them and causing them to have hallucinations. With this allure and their ability to induce hallucinations, they deceived their prey, absorbing their nutrients to survive.

However, ultimately, they were just B-Level pollutants and became powerless against higher-level pollutants.

Among the pollutants surrounding the base tower, there were also A-Level pollutants. From the principle of pollutant hierarchy, this didn’t make sense at all.

Soon, Ying Chenlin arrived at the third floor of the base tower. The laboratory cultivating a B-grade Poisonous Poppy was at the end of the corridor.

Just as he was about to proceed, someone pressed on his shoulder from behind.

Ying Chenlin swiftly reacted with a hand strike backward, and his mechanical arm clashed with the arm of the other person. He saw who it was.

You Su pressed his hand on Ying Chenlin’s wrist, pushing his arm aside. “Not bad skills.”

Ying Chenlin withdrew his hand and looked at the person. “What are you doing here?”

You Su, who had entered the base tower before Ying Chenlin, thought he would be in the control room. “I’m curious about something, so I came to take a look.” You Su’s gaze fell to the end of the corridor. “But you’d better not go any further.”

Ying Chenlin didn’t say anything, waiting for You Su’s explanation.

“The pollution level here is off the charts.” You Su showed him the pollution measuring device on his wrist. The index displayed on it showed a value of 3000.

Ying Chenlin furrowed his brows slightly. This was the interior of the base tower, full of facilities to suppress pollution. Under normal circumstances, the pollution level should be kept below 1000. Such a high value should not appear. “When we just entered the tower, the pollution level wasn’t this high.”

“The laboratory door can’t be opened for now.”

You Su continued, “We’ll wait until the signal is restored and contact the Bureau.”

Inside the base tower, they couldn’t move around with mechas. Their only defense was their combat suits, and Ying Chenlin had only an isolation device. Such protective tools could only resist the influence of pollution levels below 4000 for about 20 minutes. Pushing open this laboratory, he couldn’t ensure his safety.

The entire Tianyu Star Contaminated Zone environment was eerie—stronger winds than usual, more pollutants than usual—everything seemed to be shrouded in a mysterious atmosphere, as if all anomalies had been deliberately magnified.

Ying Chenlin looked at the laboratory right in front of him. “An S-Level pollutant hasn’t appeared yet.”

You Su glanced at him from the side. “Do you have an idea?”

Ying Chenlin turned his head to look around. He had eliminated all suspicious pollutants in the polluted area, but he hadn’t found the likely culprit behind all the anomalies on Tianyu Star. There was only one possibility: the S-Level pollutant was not recorded anywhere and had never been detected by the pollution monitoring system in the area.

It was as if it didn’t exist in this space.

You Su leaned against the wall of the corridor, his gaze sweeping from the laboratory entrance to the end of the corridor and then inadvertently stopping on Ying Chenlin.

Ying Chenlin stood still, his gaze fixed on the clean and reflective corridor floor. He seemed to be lost in thought. His bangs were slightly wet, parted in the middle due to running, accentuating his small face.

Upon closer inspection, the child’s appearance wasn’t as juvenile as anticipated. His eyebrows and eyes were slightly cold, giving off an age-defying maturity.

You Su’s gaze narrowed slightly. While looking away, he suddenly caught sight of something on Ying Chenlin’s neck. It was pressed against his collar, and he could vaguely see a red string chain with something hanging from it.

Just as he was trying to get a clearer view, the boy who had been lost in thought suddenly looked up.

Their gazes met, and a faint glint seemed to flicker in Ying Chenlin’s composed eyes.

For that moment, You Su was captivated by the unusual brilliance in the other’s eyes, which was particularly radiant.

“Special ability,” Ying Chenlin uttered two words and turned to walk away.

You Su hesitated slightly, then asked, “Where are you going?”

Ying Chenlin had already taken a few steps away, but he called back the location. “Control room.”

Seeing his determination, You Su raised an eyebrow slightly. “Someone’s already gone to the control room.”

“It’s not about the recovery procedure.” Ying Chenlin swiftly navigated the corridors, speaking as he moved. “I need access to the tower’s detection system.”

The abilities of S-Level pollutants and above mostly surpassed conventional scientific understanding. For instance, the ability of S-Level Centennial Orchids allowed them to manipulate quicksand through their roots. The anomalies on Tianyu Star were undoubtedly the result of this latent S-Level pollutant. It seemed to control everything around the base tower like a god, and this must be connected to its abilities.

You Su questioned, “Do you expect the detection system to locate an S-Level pollutant? We couldn’t find it in the Secondary Defense Zone, let alone here.”

The automated program provided by the Bureau could restore all the functions of the base tower, including the detection systems that had been largely incapacitated.

When Ying Chenlin was in the Secondary Defense Zone, he had seen the control room’s functional systems. At that time, the mecha pilots had used the repair program to restore some of its functions and the detection system, which could detect certain specific signals transmitted from the nearby ground.

The system at that time had even managed to recover some data on the Centennial Orchid, but apart from the Centennial Orchid, there were no other reports of S-Level pollutants.

“The detection system can’t locate it, but it can discern it,” Ying Chenlin stated.

Inside the base tower’s control room, Ji Qingfeng had inserted the program and the main screen displayed the repair progress. He had been waiting for quite a while, and the progress had only reached 20%. Other mecha pilots were busy manipulating the restoration data beside him. Feeling bored, he started to walk out. Just as he pushed the door open, he saw Ying Chenlin and You Su rushing over. They swiftly passed him and entered the control room.

Ji Qingfeng was taken aback. “Hey?”

Ying Chenlin had a clear purpose and headed straight to the main system. He promptly opened the detection system.

The nearby mecha pilots walked over, not understanding why Ying Chenlin was opening the detection system. If the detection system were effective, they wouldn’t have to be so vigilant against a sneak attack by an S-Level pollutant.

However, they observed for a while and noticed that Ying Chenlin wasn’t checking the external data but had directly opened the detection system, pulling up the pollution levels across the entire base tower.

Soon, the pollution status of various places within the base tower appeared, the densely packed numbers making it dizzying to look at. Ying Chenlin swiftly scrolled through the positions of each detector, leaving the nearby mecha pilots puzzled.

Ji Qingfeng walked over and asked, “What are you doing?”

“Confirming the pollution situation,” Ying Chenlin explained.

The mecha pilots exchanged puzzled glances. Could this reveal something?

When they entered, they also noticed that even the pollution levels inside the base tower were higher than before. Clearly, the degree of pollution varied with each area. However, this still couldn’t determine anything. Did Ying Chenlin think that the elusive S-Level pollutant was hiding within the base tower?

With this in mind, the mecha pilots also observed alongside Ying Chenlin. After about five minutes, they hadn’t discovered any pollution value reports exceeding 6000.

“The pollution values here are abnormal, but there are no reports above 6000.”

“That S-Level pollutant must be outside the base tower. How can it hide so well? Could its ability be concealment?”

“There’s no record in the system, could this pollutant just appear out of thin air?”

Just as everyone was puzzled, Ying Chenlin, standing in front of the main system, suddenly said, “I think I’ve found it.”

“No way? Is that thing really inside the tower?” Ji Qingfeng shivered at the thought and couldn’t help but stare at the data on the main screen. “How did you figure this out?”

“The pollution values in the base don’t seem to suggest the presence of any high-level pollutants either.”

“Just now, when we switched to different detectors, some were around three thousand and others around one or two thousand. It didn’t even reach the level of an A-Level mutant.”

Upon seeing the pollution values from the laboratory, You Su suddenly understood. “The S-Level pollutant isn’t in here.”

“Yeah, it’s definitely not in here.” Ying Chenlin didn’t continue switching detectors. He adjusted the detection system and displayed the value reports from all detectors in the base using a color gradient map. The main screen instantly showed varying shades of red.

Dark red areas intertwined with lighter red ones, forming a pattern of undulating color blocks.

The areas closest to the defense perimeter were displaying lighter shades of red, while inside the base tower, there was a mixture of both dark and light.

The mecha pilots hadn’t sensed it before, but when they saw this image, astonishment was clearly visible on their faces.

“Is the system malfunctioning?”

“Yeah! How can there be pollution changes within a few dozen meters?”

“Look at the laboratory! How can the pollution value there be only 2000? The corridor outside the laboratory has 3000!”

According to normal logic, the places with the highest pollution values within the base should be locations like the laboratory. For instance, the laboratory that cultivated B-Level pollutant Poisonous Poppies had a pollution value of around 2000, while the corridors outside the unpolluted laboratory had values of 2000 or even 3000.

You Su explained, “It’s because there are pollution reduction facilities inside the base tower.”

Inside the base tower, there are various laboratories. On one hand, this place is used to maintain the smooth operation of the entire Tianyu Galaxy, and on the other hand, it serves as a part of scientific research. Hence, there are pollution observation rooms, research labs, and so on.

Usually, the tower was only operated by robots. However, in order to allow periodic entry and maintenance by personnel from the Management Bureau and data input, pollution reduction instruments were installed in the tower. Especially in certain observation rooms and labs, where the pollution levels are highest within the tower, pollution reduction measures are more comprehensive.

The mecha pilots were puzzled. “Even with pollution reduction instruments installed, the places with the highest pollution values inside the base tower should still be the labs. The corridors don’t have any pollutants—”

Such pollution values were clearly abnormal.

Ying Chenlin looked at the gradient map and calmly explained, “Haven’t you noticed? The lighter areas on the map are locations with a large number of pollution reduction instruments, while the higher pollution values are found in areas with fewer pollution reduction instruments. This is because, from the beginning, the pollution values throughout Tianyu Star were normal. The anomaly is only in the vicinity of Base Tower C, where reported value is as high as 6000.”

He casually pulled up data from the lab studying B-Level Poisonous Poppies and conducted a close-range analysis using the lab’s instruments. The data obtained matched the detection report of a B-Level pollutant, with a pollution value of only around 1000. Given such pollution values, there’s no way there would be a report of 2000 from the lab.

“In other words, the actual pollutant values themselves haven’t changed. B-Level Poisonous Poppies have B-Level reports, and S-Level Centennial Orchids have S-Level reports. The detection system isn’t malfunctioning.” Ying Chenlin continued, “The reason we’re getting reports above 6000 is most likely because we are inside this S-Level pollutant.”

Lin Yao was bewildered. “Inside? Are we inside its body?”

Ying Chenlin clarified, “No, this pollutant’s ability is likely similar to spatial or domain manipulation. It can evenly distribute its pollution values, completely simulating the environment and blending into it.”

Liu Ge, who had been listening to Ying Chenlin and You Su’s analysis, suddenly spoke up. “Could it be a mimetic ability? I’ve often seen this kind of ability in another polluted area, a kind of chameleon-like pollutant that can completely blend into the environment.”

“Yes, but the range of a mimetic ability wouldn’t be this extensive. It’s more likely to be a spatial ability,” Ying Chenlin continued, “It can fully integrate into this area. Its original form could have been as an A-Level pollutant, with pollution values similar to the average value of the Tianyu Star’s pollution. That’s why the detection system didn’t pick it up, and the reported values were only of A-Level, matching the average value of Tianyu Star’s pollution.”

“Until it evolved to S-Level, which is when its pollution value report exceeded 6000, and Tianyu Star’s detection system caught the anomaly. Pollution levels across Tianyu Star were then affected.”

This pollutant with a spatial mimicry ability was likely able to encompass a radius of hundreds of miles around Base Station C. It was essentially a core pollution source, causing the average pollution value within its spatial range to be dictated by its own pollution value.

Lin Yao exclaimed, “Ah?”

Ji Qingfeng patted him and tried to explain with his own understanding, “It means this S-Level pollutant has created a large area of influence. Inside its circle, the pollution values are all above 6000 in the reports. We are currently inside its territory, so we’ve been unable to find it.”

“Spatial Mimicry! No wonder!”

“That’s why the pollution values inside the tower are so abnormal.”

For instance, if its value were 5000, then the pollution value within its space would also be 5000, similar to the average pollution level of the Tianyu Star, hence not being detected.

And when it mutated to S-Level with 6000, the average value within its spatial range reached 6000, causing anomalies on Tianyu Star.

If the defense system of the base tower wasn’t in place, then the area within its spatial range, including Base Tower C, would have a pollution value exceeding 6000.

With the surrounding defense system and the widespread pollution reduction instruments within the base, pollution values gradually dropped. This led to the occurrence of this strange pollution value situation.

At this point, a mecha pilot asked in confusion, “But there’s still something I can’t wrap my head around. If it only enclosed this area in its space, why do so many pollutants gather near this tower? Even if higher-level pollutants exert control over lower-level ones, they shouldn’t be able to influence so many pollutants at the same time!”

Ying Chenlin was about to express another idea in his mind when You Su suddenly spoke up beside him, “Have you ever heard of S-Level Dual-Attribute Pollutants?”

Ji Qingfeng was surprised, “The Star Alliance has no records of pollutants with dual attributes.”

“Or to put it another way, have you heard of S-Grade Dual-Attribute Crystals?”

You Su nonchalantly said, “Generally, pollutants shouldn’t exhibit dual attributes, but there’s a phenomenon where an ability possesses two characteristics. In the Third Star Domain, they once discovered an S-Grade Dual-Attribute Crystal. Its ability was called ‘Positive-Negative Enhancement,’ and it came from the ability of an S-Level mutated Snake King. Its venom, when injected into an enemy, could weaken them. However, if it bit itself, it would affect and enhance its power.”

“If this pollutant possesses a spatial ability, then there’s a strong possibility that it also has another effect: enhancement.”

An S-Grade Dual-Attribute Crystal! Those are treasures among S-Grade ability crystals, invaluable!

Ji Qingfeng caught on and thought, “If it’s enhancement… then that’s a real possibility. It can enhance its ability to control lower-level pollutants.”

The cause of the environment around Base Station C’s tower wasn’t the Poisonous Poppies in the laboratories, but rather the ability of this unnamed pollutant.

This pollutant not only hid within Tianyu Star but also manipulated other pollutants to provide cover for it.

Lin Yao began to feel a headache, “But if you put it this way, how are we going to find it? Don’t the affected pollution detection values mean we can’t find it?”

Ying Chenlin said, “Then let’s try a different approach: detecting life forms.”

Usually, the simplest and quickest method to capture pollutant information was the Pollution Source Localization System. However, it was ineffective against this type of pollutant. Therefore, they had to resort to the most basic Life Form Detection System. This system used biological characteristics to detect all living entities within a certain area, including humans and pollutants.

As Ying Chenlin finished speaking, a nearby mecha pilot had already rapidly activated the system for area detection near the tower. When the detectors started working, the detection screen was filled with densely packed red dots.

Life form detection can indeed be used, but damn it, the entire area around the tower was filled with pollutants, thousands of sets of biological data!

Lin Yao looked utterly bewildered, “So how are we supposed to find it? Are we going to play ‘spot the difference’ here?”

Ji Qingfeng mumbled, “Have any of you ever played such an intense game of ‘spot the difference’??”

“By subtraction. Subtract the known pollution information from the surrounding area and pinpoint what’s left.”

Ying Chenlin glanced at the progress of the detection system’s repair, realizing they had 30 units left. If this pollutant really possessed the combination of spatial and enhancement abilities, it would likely be highly adaptable…

Thinking of this, he quickly added, “I’ll leave the task of locking onto it to you. I’m going outside the tower to assess the situation. Once the system is restored, send a communication request to all mecha pilots.”

With that, he left the control room.

However, there were just too many sets of biological information, and they couldn’t use pollution values to pinpoint it.

Among the densely packed red dots were countless unknown biological data.

As Ying Chenlin departed, Liu Ge tremblingly looked at the screen full of red dots and said, “This computational task is quite extensive. There are at least fifty different types of pollutants in the vicinity. If they aren’t recorded in the system, we have to assist in excluding the mutant species and then identify the suspected target from among these mutants… Does this mean relying on human visual recognition?”

Someone beside him comforted, “Visual recognition? No worries, even though Ying Ge isn’t here, we still have six pairs of eyes. Right?”

Just as they spoke, they turned to look in the direction of the others, only to find the control room’s door wide open, empty as if hinting at how resolute and swift the others had left.

Within the spacious control room, only three mecha pilots, including him, remained. The person closest to the door hesitated as he withdrew the foot he had extended outward and awkwardly cleared his throat, saying, “Well, I just wanted to go out and take a look, but Liu Ge spoke too late. Just a moment ago, KID followed Ying Ge and they all ran outside.”

Liu Ge: “?”

Another mecha pilot looked at the red dot information on the screen in bewilderment and said, “Um… Liu Ge, it looks like we’ll have to use three pairs of eyes to proceed with elimination.”

In the corridor, Ying Chenlin swiftly rounded a corner, and the red string around his neck swayed with his movement, the key beneath it emanating a subtle ripple. A moment later, a faint glow appeared beneath the keychain where the S-Grade ability crystal was stored, accompanied by a deep crack on its surface.

When You Su descended, he noticed Ying Chenlin had stopped in his tracks. It seemed like he had placed something into his collar.

At the tower’s summit.

Amidst the darkness, a peculiar-looking pollutant was crouching just outside the tower’s defense barrier. Its slightly parted mouth revealed its long fangs and its crimson eyes were fixed on the moving figures within the barrier. A few droplets of saliva dripped from its jaws.

TN: Well that sounds ominous!

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