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Genius Mechanic

Genius Mechanic: Chapter 6

Banute Contaminated Zone

6. Mutation

Proofread by An Zheee and Cloud Chip Cake

Sirius had a pleasant climate, with cool autumn winds.

When Ying Chenlin arrived at the hotel to rest, it was already evening. He had spent some time at the KID base, and before leaving, he exchanged contact information with Ji Qingfeng and Lin Yao. He didn’t bring much luggage this time, as some compressible items had already been delivered to the hotel in advance, leaving only the non-compressible mechanical equipment.

“Why were you in such a hurry to go there? I thought you were heading to some famous team, but you ended up at KID. Moreover, you went all the way to the remote planet of Sirius,” Xun Bao’s voice came through the holographic communication. Ying Chenlin lowered his eyes, seemingly indifferent, and replied, “Sirius isn’t bad.”

“So, how did the job interview go?”

“Still waiting for the results,” Ying Chenlin took out his clothes. “Their boss wasn’t at the base.”

Xun Bao couldn’t figure out why Ying Chenlin had travelled all the way to Sirius. He was still in the process of recovery, and even if he needed rest and recuperation, there was no need to go to such a remote planet. Having regular check-ups was troublesome, not to mention the inconvenience of dealing with things in a remote place. “You always act so independently. What if you don’t get the job?”

Ying Chenlin hesitated for a moment upon hearing Xun Bao’s words and then said, “If I don’t get the job, I’ll figure it out then.”

“You ah, I don’t know if I should praise you for being open-minded or criticize you for being too carefree,” Xun Bao’s throat tightened. Since Ying Chenlin accepted the surgery plan, he always felt that Ying Chenlin had changed a bit from before.

It seemed like he had lost some of his vitality, and he always dealt with things with extreme calmness. A right arm was extremely important for a mecha pilot. Even an ordinary person like him would hesitate for a long time before deciding to amputate an arm. However, Ying Chenlin agreed to the plan without any hesitation, as if it were the result of careful consideration.

During this period of time, Xun Bao sometimes couldn’t figure out what he was thinking.

Xun Bao sighed, “Oh, that’s right, about the list of materials you asked me to find, I asked some friends, and the list has already been sent to your light brain.”

Upon hearing about the materials, Ying Chenlin’s eyes paused slightly, and he accessed the light brain to see the file that Xun Bao had sent. He replied earnestly, “Thank you.”

“What are you thanking me for? If you can’t stay on Sirius, remember to come back and find your ge,” Xun Bao said with a smile. “I won’t say much more, I need to get busy with the shop.”

After a short chat, the two hung up the call.

Ying Chenlin took out the maintenance toolbox from his luggage, and his peripheral vision caught a glimpse of a mecha key pressed at the bottom of the box.

It was the key to his personal mecha, “Yuan” Since the end of the Star Alliance competition, it had been sent for maintenance and hadn’t been activated since his surgery.

The mecha key, with a red string threaded through it, was only two adult finger lengths long. The black and red patterned key looked dull, like an ordinary cheap metal. Ying Chenlin held the key in his hand, and his meager mental power emanated from his fingertips, slowly enveloping the mecha key as if entering a bottomless cave, but there was no response.

After two minutes, Ying Chenlin withdrew his mental power.

In his previous life, after his disability, Yuan’s intelligence was left inside the S-class mecha, and he could only barely preserve the intelligence contained within the mecha key. He failed to preserve all of Yuan… In the end, the process of reconstructing Yuan was only completed halfway before he was reborn into the present.

Returning to the age of 18, without disabilities, and having his genetic condition under control. This was a situation he had never considered in his previous life, but starting over wasn’t an easy thing. Firstly, after the treatment, his physical qualifications declined. With an A-level mental power and B-level physique, such physical conditions couldn’t support him to pilot his original mecha.

The genetic surgery caused his mental power to fall from S-level to A-level, and such mental power was insufficient to activate an S-Class mecha.

If he wanted to start over, he needed to go through rehabilitation to recover his combat memories from the past ten years and retrain his combat experience… He also needed to design a new mecha based on his current physical condition and transfer Yuan’s intelligence from the original mecha.

Ying Chenlin untied the red string and tied it around his neck.

At that moment, the light brain suddenly made a beeping notification. He dismissed the reminder and took out a therapeutic syringe from the open luggage, skillfully injecting it into the veins of his right arm.

His fair skin was covered with faint blue injection marks, and the connection point with the mechanical limb was even more pronounced.

After administering the injection, Ying Chenlin expertly recorded today’s situation on the light brain:

[Right arm’s weight limit: 30 kg, fatigue time: 1 hour and 04 minutes.]

Dr. Wu had specifically warned him before coming to Sirius that rehabilitation needed to be gradual. The integration of the mechanical arm with the human arm required time for adjustment, and excessive loads would burden the body.

“Added 10 more minutes than last time,” Ying Chenlin thought, considering it good news.

The fact that he could touch the mecha for a longer time than before indicated that his tolerance capacity could increase with the increment of the weight limit. The upcoming training could gradually increase in duration based on the arm’s adaptation level.

It had been a long time since Ying Chenlin had genuinely interacted with a mecha.

After organizing his luggage, Ying Chenlin opened the material list sent by Xun Bao.

Xun Bao was the owner of a mecha parts store and had good relationships with some suppliers. The document listed the currently popular mecha raw materials on StarNet, including special metals and energy sources.

Ying Chenlin quickly skimmed through the material list. Mecha technology had been continuously advancing, and the metals used were constantly changing. He became a mechanic a few years later, and now, the level of mechas and the materials used were completely different from what they were in the future.

After reviewing the material list, Ying Chenlin also saw the final cost estimate.

Building a mecha was costly, especially for advanced mechas, with countless materials to pile up the expenses.

Seeing this list, Ying Chenlin couldn’t tell if going back to 18 years old was a good thing or not. In the future, he could easily afford to buy these materials, and his savings would fully support the construction of the mecha he wanted. But at 18, it could be either the best time because his body was at its healthiest, or it might be a challenge as he had just lifted himself out of poverty.

From registering as a mecha pilot to participating in the Mecha Star League, he didn’t sign with any team. All his early league income went into maintaining the mecha and refining his weapons… and his remaining savings were significantly depleted during the recent treatment for his genetic disease.

Currently, he could barely support his living expenses, let alone afford the expensive mecha source materials. If KID rejected his application, he would need to find a new job to sustain his life.

Since he couldn’t directly purchase the costly mecha materials from the original suppliers, there was only one option left.

Ying Chenlin opened the light brain and entered a search query – “Sirius Contaminated Zone.”

Since the establishment of the Mecha Star League, mecha piloting has always been a respected profession. This was not only due to the prevalence of the Mecha Star League but also because of the Contaminated Zones.

Before the establishment of the Mecha Star League, mecha pilots were mainly active in the Contaminated Zones.

The regions where humans lived safely were known as Peace Zones, while the Contaminated Zones were the areas that couldn’t be purified by the Star Alliance. These regions were inhabited by mutated plants and animals, chaotic magnetic fields that defied scientific analysis, and viruses that broke through human defenses… But at the same time, they held excellent material resources.

Most of the high-level mecha materials had a sympathetic resonance with the mental power that came from the Contaminated Zones.

The materials available on StarNet generally passed through the hands of mecha pilots active in the Contaminated Zones, who sold them to merchants at high prices on the StarNet market. Apart from this route, mecha pilots could venture into the Contaminated Zones themselves to explore and collect the materials they needed.

Contaminated Zones were scattered throughout the Star Alliance, and nearly every galaxy had its own Contaminated Zones.

In the vicinity of Sirius, there were three Contaminated Zones, and Ying Chenlin was heading to the region with a stable contamination level, the unmanned area known as the “Banute Contaminated Zone” which was located in the southern hemisphere of Sirius.

To maintain a safe distance between the Peace Zones and the Contaminated Zones, the areas around the Contaminated Zones were mostly uninhabited. To reach the Contaminated Zone, one had to go through a specific jump point, located in Sirius’ Zone A.

As Ying Chenlin approached the Banute area, he could see a base nearby, bustling with mecha pilots in a hurry.

The bases outside the Contaminated Zones served as temporary rest areas for mecha pilots, providing temporary mechas for rent and maintenance rooms.

“Renting a mecha? B-Class?” The owner of the mecha shop was watching a mecha match when he quickly responded, “Renting a B-Class mecha costs 100 starcoins per hour, 2000 starcoins per day, repair fees for damages, a deposit of 4000 starcoins, settle and refund after use.”

“I want a B-Class mecha, daily rental for two days,” Ying Chenlin said.

Now, the owner paid more attention as a potential customer approached. “Sure, choose from the mechas over there.”

Most of the mecha shops outside the Contaminated Zones had B-Class mechas for rent. A-Class mechas were usually flagship models and were rarely available for rental.

Ying Chenlin took a look around and finally settled on a B-Class mecha with suitable performance and well-matched weapons, including a melee Light Blade and a Thunder-Magnetic Cannon.

“Mecha pilot license,” the owner requested.

Ying Chenlin retrieved an early-registered electronic certificate of a novice mecha pilot from his light brain.

The owner glanced at it, catching a glimpse of Ying Chenlin’s right hand, and quickly looked away. He casually advised, “Going to the Banute Contaminated Zone? It’s better not to go too deep these days, stay on the outskirts.”

Ying Chenlin received the key to the B-Class mecha, looking puzzled.

“The contamination threshold in Banute has been fluctuating recently, and personnel from the Contaminated Zone’s Management Bureau have been coming to record the situation. It’s likely not safe inside,” the owner kindly warned. “Staying on the outskirts should be safer, but don’t linger for too long. It’s best to find other mecha pilots and form a temporary team to enter.”

Outside the Banute Contaminated Zone, the air was saturated with excessive moisture, creating a damp environment that extended the eerie moss over the surrounding dilapidated ruins. The air was permeating with a rotting smell.

Ying Chenlin was adjusting the mecha’s internal operational parameters, and the neural connection tendrils in the cockpit connected to his limbs. When they made contact with his right arm’s mecha limb, there was a brief pause before a blue message appeared in his field of view, indicating “Neural Connection Completed”.

The surrounding view became clearer, and the cockpit displayed the fluctuating contamination levels outside.

He raised his left hand, and the B-Class mecha followed suit.

Ying Chenlin had grown accustomed to the B-Class mecha’s response speed and entered the Contaminated Zone with a clear objective – he needed to find suitable ore materials for forging basic mecha components.

The most suitable material within the Banute Contaminated Zone was a metal ore called “Greenwall Ore,” which had a certain level of neural resonance, making it an A-level material with scarce production.

To acquire suitable Greenwall Ore, competing with other mecha pilots on the outskirts for two days might not yield the required quantity. So, Ying Chenlin had no choice but to change his direction and venture deeper into the Banute Contaminated Zone.

As he went deeper, the greenery in his field of vision became increasingly intense, with the vines covering abandoned buildings and surrounding plants undergoing grotesque mutations.

After half a day, Ying Chenlin had ventured about 3 kilometers into the zone and found the first piece of Greenwall Ore hidden beneath the green vines.

This ore was a product of contamination, starting from the underground and eventually exposed on the surface. Ying Chenlin used the mecha to mine a portion of the Greenwall Ore, but it was evident that someone had been there before as part of the ground had been dug up, leaving the rest buried deep underground.

Ying Chenlin only took the surface-level Greenwall Ore and continued 1 kilometer deeper into the zone.

This time, it took him 4 hours to find another portion of the ore.

After storing the mined Greenwall Ore in the mecha’s temporary storage space, Ying Chenlin looked at the ground.

Unlike the artificial mining marks he had seen earlier, the ground now appeared to be penetrated by something long and narrow, leaving clear holes with decaying soil.

The visual display indicated that the surrounding contamination levels had soared to 1240, surpassing the average recorded contamination value in the StarNet database.

The average contamination value on the outskirts of the Banute Contaminated Zone was 700, while the highest level of contamination in the deepest area reached 2000, classifying it as a Level 2 Contaminated Zone.

However, Ying Chenlin was now only 12 kilometers away from the recorded Contaminated Zone.

Yet, the contamination value was still rising, surpassing its usual fluctuations.

This abnormal contamination value fluctuation suggested the possibility of an abnormal core contamination source.

If such a contamination source existed, there was a high probability of encountering anomalous crystals.

Anomalous crystals were the most critical material for mecha weaponry. As the core material for mecha weapons, they provided corresponding biological properties to achieve the highest levels of weapon effectiveness.

The commonly circulated crystals in the market were usually B-grade anomalous crystals. For instance, the Thunder-Magnetic Cannon in the mecha Ying Chenlin had rented was crafted using a Thunderbird’s anomalous crystal as the energy core.

Ying Chenlin hesitated slightly as he looked into the distance, where the forest was covered with mutated plants.

Banute was a Level 2 Contaminated Zone, and widespread fluctuations in the contamination threshold could only be caused by higher-level contamination sources – potentially, mutated contamination sources.

In the temporary base near the Banute Contaminated Zone, personnel from the Contaminated Zone’s Management Bureau sat together in the meeting room. A virtual screen hung high on the wall, displaying real-time pollution levels within the zone. At this moment, several bright red dots appeared on the monitoring radar, and the adjacent alarm system displayed a warning: “Pollution levels exceeded, situation unclear.”

The middle-aged man sitting at the head of the table spoke, “We have confirmed the presence of unidentified anomalies within the Contaminated Zone. I’ve already sent the coordinates to everyone. The rest is up to you all for assistance.”

Apart from the personnel from the Management Bureau, there were also several other people dressed in formal suits present in the meeting room – the leaders of the teams near the Banute Contaminated Zone. As the Contaminated Zone’s Management Bureau had limited manpower, they sought help from the teams within the Mecha Alliance when encountering such emergencies.

After confirming the coordinates of the unidentified anomalies in the Contaminated Zone, Shen Xingtang took a few steps outside but was intercepted by someone.

The newcomer was a slender man with prominent cheekbones, and a shrewd look of contempt appeared on his face when he saw Shen Xingtang. He spoke with a hint of disdain, “Why did the Management Bureau even bother notifying you?”

Shen Xingtang raised her eyes slightly and replied, “It is our duty to assist in resolving issues within the Contaminated Zone.”

The man chuckled, “You people even have mecha pilots available for missions at your base? Oh, right, I forgot, your mechas are all damaged, so you’re using temporary ones, right?”

Shen Xingtang smiled and retorted, “Don’t trouble yourself over that. Instead of worrying about us, why not focus on the mecha competition? I recall your team’s ranking is still behind ours, isn’t it?”

“Shen Xingtang, you won’t last much longer. You better not bother us,” the slender man sneered. “Considering the Contaminated Zone’s condition, I doubt your team would make it in time if anything happens. You don’t even have a mecha mechanic, do you?”

Ignoring him, Shen Xingtang turned and left the meeting room, leaving the man behind, grinding his teeth in frustration.

She turned to the temporary rest area, where Jiang Simiao was present. As Shen Xingtang entered, Jiang Simiao spoke, “Ji Qingfeng and Lin Yao’s mechas haven’t been repaired yet. They can only use backup mechas. Huo Yan and Lu Xi are on vacation and won’t be able to make it here anytime soon. We only have two people available for the mission, and it’s quite risky.”

Shen Xingtang replied, “No worries, I’ve also informed someone else, and he should have arrived by now.”

Jiang Simiao asked, “Who?”

“Who else could it be?” Shen Xingtang replied casually.

“You mean You Su…?” Jiang Simiao’s face tightened, “Would that guy be interested?”

“Unidentified anomalies have appeared in the deeper regions of the Contaminated Zone, and it’s highly likely that the core contamination source has evolved. There’s a good chance that the contamination source might carry anomalous crystals,” Shen Xingtang whispered, “You Su’s weapon energy core crystal is broken. If I tell him that there might be an S-Grade anomalous crystal here, do you think he’d resist the temptation?”

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