Chapter 84 – Crisis
Shi Yuan still ran on both sides of the food distribution office and the research center.
Every time he went to the research center, he could always see a bunch of people tinkering with instruments, all tossing “Echo”. The Empire called regularly every half a month, and the voice of the correspondent 0293 was simply engraved into everyone’s DNA, but the signal was still unstable, and the Empire could not hear their voices.
The mood of ordinary residents began to sink.
Rumors abound. Some people said that the Empire did not exist at all, this might be due to data confusion, and what they heard was the murmurs of the past. Some people said that all this was a lie woven by the Alliance, and that they were a bunch of liars.
Professor Luo explained the former. He said that to be able to discover and join the channel, the Empire needed to operate communication equipment, which could ensure that the communication was real-time;
Lu Tinghan assured the latter. When the rumors were at their fiercest, he came forward to give a speech, saying that the Alliance was strictly disciplined and human beings were united, and there was no need to appease the brave survivors with lies.
People trusted Lu Tinghan very much, and Professor Luo was also highly respected, and the rumors slowly disappeared.
They still had hope for the Empire and for tomorrow.
Shi Yuan met Alice a few more times.
Sometimes at the distribution office, when he had just finished a bucket of hot porridge and was covered in thin sweat, he turned his head and saw a girl with black hair and white dress sitting on a dining table in a deserted corner, dangling her feet, and greeting him; sometimes at the research center, Shi Yuan had just left the gate and was walking on the way to the station when a certain holographic projection on the corner of the street flickered, and Alice blinked at him with the toy unicorn in her arms.
His secret friend was elusive, wandering in the city, and thousands of cables were her home.
One day, Alice said to him, “Shi Yuan, can you do me a favor?”
“What is it?” Shi Yuan was a little surprised. This was the first time Alice had asked him for help.
Alice supported her head with her hand and hesitated for half a second: “I—do you know Leonard Philippa?”
Shi Yuan shook his head.
Alice said, “My real name is Alice Philippa, and Leonard is my brother.” She tilted her head, “You must have heard my story. 75 years ago, Leonard and I made an appointment to watch fireworks.”
Then Alice lost her footing on the trail and fell, dreaming summer dreams forever.
Alice continued: “To be precise, I am not the ‘Alice Philippa’. She is dead, and her brain is used to assist in the calculations of the optical brain. I am her personality simulated by the program. But recently, I… I can hardly tell whether I am a program or Alice Philippa.”
Shi Yuan curled up his tail in confusion.
Alice looked at him: “So, I want to see Leonard more and more.”
Shi Yuan asked, “Is he still alive?”
“If he is still alive, he will be 85 years old this year,” Alice said, “I didn’t find his death record in the system, nor did I find him. Maybe he changed his name. It’s also possible that that part of his data was corrupted – it’s common to lose data. If we check the surveillance and do a facial comparison, we might be able to find him, but I don’t have the authorization.”
“Then what should I do? How can I help you?”
“I don’t know.” Alice shook her fair feet. “According to humans, you can only help me ‘ask around’.”
“Can I help you get authorization?” Shi Yuan asked. He knew that as long as he spoke, Lu Tinghan would definitely help him, even if he didn’t know the reason.
Alice said: “Facial comparison consumes a lot of computing power. Now that there is not enough energy, we can’t put computing power on this kind of thing.”
“Oh,” Shi Yuan said, “You really like humans.”
Alice smiled: “Unlike you, I am human in my opinion. Although others will not admit it.”
“If you find Leonard, what will you do?”
“I don’t know either.” Alice touched the unicorn’s mane. “I have already seen the fireworks, and the only thing left in my heart’s desire is this.” She sighed a little, “It’s a pity, the storage space is insufficient, I deleted a lot of things, including my ‘love data’.”
Shi Yuan promised to help her find someone.
But the main city was too big, and it was too difficult to find a child who was born more than 70 years ago and might have already changed his name.
He didn’t want to trouble Lu Tinghan, so he could only ask around, and after a long time, he still had no clue.
He also asked Professor Guan.
Professor Guan helped him check the database, but found no results, and said, “The city was destroyed before, and a lot of data was lost. Besides, after so many years, Leonard’s chance of being alive is really…very slim.”
“I know,” Shi Yuan said, “However, I will continue to look for him.”
Professor Guan asked, “Why do you want to find him?”
Shi Yuan replied: “For a friend of mine.”
A few days later, Professor Guan told him about “Deep Dive” again.
They went to the Second Military Region and looked at the beautiful shining frigate. There were also a few smaller ships parked next to it.
“What are these?” Shi Yuan asked.
“The auxiliary ships of the frigate, they play the role of protection and investigation,” Professor Guan said, “The technology is still immature, but we can only bite the bullet and use it. In any case, it is necessary to ensure that the frigate reaches the bottom of the abyss.” He hesitated for a moment, “Shi Yuan, I want to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
Professor Guan leaned against the white wall and raised his head to look at the frigate.
He said: “The black mist in the abyss is very dangerous. Not only are there infected turbulence, and storms that can destroy ships, but also infected biota that inhabits it. This is why the aircraft, drones, and various detectors we sent before all failed.”
Lu Tinghan also talked about this, and Shi Yuan listened silently.
Professor Guan: “Even if there is a frigate, ‘Deep Dive’ is very dangerous, and the communication between the ship and the ground cannot be guaranteed, but we still need…to figure out the movements of the abyss and monsters.” He took a deep breath, “In other words, Lu Tinghan is the most suitable candidate.”
Shi Yuan was also leaning against the wall, with a piece of metal ice behind him. He asked, “So you want Lu Tinghan to drive the frigate and go down to the abyss?”
“No, we don’t need him to drive it,” Professor Guan said, “We have professional pilots, but we need General Lu to command the ship. There is only one chance, and he is the only one…the most likely to make the plan succeed, it must be him .”
Shi Yuan: “Oh, he’s really amazing!”
His human was really smart.
At this moment, Professor Guan’s expression was a bit complicated.
He said slowly: “There are two problems. First, the city needs General Lu, he can’t perform a ‘Deep Dive’, otherwise, what about other people; second, when he reaches the bottom of the abyss, it is impossible to come back—first of all, it takes a long time to collect data and establish communication with the ground. Secondly, other abysses are different from you and are highly contagious. How long can humans live at the bottom of the abyss? A week, a month, or a year? No one knows. In any case, this is a journey with no return.”
Shi Yuan: “Oh…”
Professor Guan sighed: “We don’t know what to do. The Empire… has not been contacted yet.” He wiped his reading glasses which already had subtle scratches on the lenses. “I have an intuition that if we are given enough time, if we let General Lu carry out the plan, the ‘Deep Dive’ can be successful.”
He smiled bitterly: “Without General Lu, the Alliance would have been gone a long time ago. He has done his best, but can the main city last until that day?”
No one knew the answer to this question.
At night, Shi Yuan accidentally found two batteries in a drawer at home.
The tip of Shi Yuan’s tail shook. Before going to bed that day, Lu Tinghan finished listening to the little pony looking for his mother in the small colored lights.
Finally, he turned off the bedside lamp, also coldly pinched off the small colored lights, and said, “Sleep.”
In the dark, Shi Yuan hugged the ground and listened to the cold. He asked: “Lu Tinghan, will you go on ‘Deep Dive’?”
Lu Tinghan did not answer.
He touched Shi Yuan’s head.
In the days that followed, the fighting continued, with occasional power outages, and the entire city fell into darkness. At this time, the stars were exceptionally bright, and you could see the shining universe as soon as you looked up. It was a pity that no meteor shower was seen.
From time to time, people had to take refuge in shelters, hiding for longer and longer periods of time.
Shi Yuan followed Lu Tinghan to the front line and saw different infected creatures, such as firebirds that burned the clouds, anteaters crawling on the ground with metal bodies, and humanoid tree monsters with three heads and six arms. The rain of bullets, the roar of artillery fire, the whistling aircraft, the trembling earth, the splashing of black blood… The battle situation was getting worse and worse, every day was blood and fire, fortunately, they could still hold each other’s hands in the end.
Lu Tinghan still didn’t talk to Shi Yuan about the situation.
He would only say that the weather was good and many stars could be seen at night; he would only ask, ‘what do you want to eat tonight, let’s go together’.
Shi Yuan was always happy with him, just like when they first met.
The Alliance was still unable to communicate with the Empire, but “Seeker One” was almost ready and could head towards the abyss at any time.
Alice hugged the unicorn doll, leaned on the window sill and swayed her feet, humming a little song, but Shi Yuan couldn’t find out anything about Leonard Philippa. Everyone he asked looked confused and said, ‘are you sure he is still alive?’
Shi Yuan didn’t know either.
He just felt that he could find Leonard somewhere.
And so, 8 months passed like this, at the end of Alliance 244, it snowed in the main city.
The snowflakes were white and fluttering down, and a group of flying birds came riding on the wind and snow.
It was like a combination of birds and people, with a weird shape and a human face, and the human face was full of soft white feathers, showing a quiet and gentle smile, as if immersed in a beautiful dream.
They swirled silently over the city, like a group of…weird angels.
People hid in shelters. Shi Yuan received a message from Lu Tinghan telling him to stay in the Second Military Region.
The Second Military Region had a large number of energy storage equipment and the energy core of Fengyang City, and more importantly, “Seeker One” was here.
When there were few people nearby, Rattle Tail Abyss could easily scare away monsters, and it was still very safe – in a sense, he was like a mascot. Sometimes, Lu Tinghan would let him stay in some places and guard resources.
This time was no exception.
It was just that this battle lasted for a long time.
For a long time, Shi Yuan didn’t even know that a few days had passed. At first, Lu Tinghan had time to reply to his messages every day and chat with him for 10 minutes. Later, Shi Yuan had to wait for two or three days before he could see Lu Tinghan’s short reply.
When one day, a team came to the warehouse to continue the work of guarding the supplies, Shi Yuan was ready to go to the front line to find Lu Tinghan.
He asked the captain of the team: “Where is General Lu?”
The captain was so busy that he assigned an adjutant to check the supplies and rearranged the position of the team before he had time to tell Shi Yuan: “The general is in the western district.” He emphasized, “Don’t go over there! The situation there is very bad, and they are ready to retreat.”
The captain turned his head again, and Shi Yuan was gone.
The western district was not far away, Shi Yuan hurried for nearly an hour, and finally arrived. There were explosions and gunfire along the way, and the battlefield had spread to the city.
The western district was devastated, and when he looked around, he couldn’t see the shadow of the army.
The buildings collapsed, ruins were everywhere, and there were flocks of white birds flying in the blue sky. They sang in unison, holy and grand, as if they were singing a poem.
The western district had fallen.
Shi Yuan’s heart tightened, and he couldn’t help thinking, ‘is there really… any living people here?’
Painful groans came from under half of the wall. Shi Yuan turned his head and saw a soldier under the rubble.
The soldier was covered with mud, dust, and blood, and said something vaguely.
“What?” Shi Yuan ran over and put his ears near to his mouth to listen, “I can’t hear what you’re saying, I’ll call the doctor right away!”
“…” The soldier shook his head weakly, “Go…”
Shi Yuan leaned closer: “Where do you want me to go?”
“Ground, underground.” The soldier’s lips were pale, “…Go to the underground station, General… General Lu is still there.”