The First Order - Chapter 1206
Chapter 1206 Farewell
While Stronghold 144 was celebrating, a huge lizard was crawling through the Gobi from the Kingdom of Sorcerers to the Central Plains at an extremely fast speed.
The seemingly desolate Gobi supported an extremely rich ecosystem and a vast variety of species.
There were wild horses, wild donkeys, argalis, bharals, multi-ocellated racerunners, chukars, wolves, lynxes, foxes, and also a large number of rodents and lagomorphs roaming here.
A lot of people thought there wouldn’t be a single animal found within a vicinity of tens of kilometers in the Gobi Desert, but in fact, the density of these living things was much greater than they could imagine.
These creatures were living peacefully in the Gobi until Midnight arrived like a sandstorm and sent them fleeing fearfully in all directions.
They were like animals seeking refuge before an earthquake.
When Midnight crawled through the Gobi, the dust kicked up by its huge hind feet was like a terrifying sandstorm.
But even more terrifying, when a wild donkey was frightened into fleeing, Midnight easily caught up to it and scooped it into its mouth with its tongue.
On Midnight’s back, Luo Lan, Zhou Qi, Ren Xiaosu, and Yang Xiaojin watched this sight with their mouths agape.
Luo Lan gulped and said, “I’ve only seen lizards eating mosquitoes before, but this is the first time I’ve fucking witnessed a lizard devouring a donkey.”
Zhou Qi muttered, “It’s also my first time seeing such a thing.”
The sight of the donkey being devoured was way too shocking.
Luo Lan couldn’t help but think about how much despair the House of Berkeley must have felt when they were faced with a terrifying creature like this just now.
A creature like Midnight, be it its aggressiveness or size, was enough to shock anyone who encountered it.
However, Ren Xiaosu had a more practical observation.
When Midnight scooped the donkey into its mouth, Ren Xiaosu could not see the trajectory of its tongue even with his current vision. In other words, Midnight’s attack had exceeded Ren Xiaosu’s reaction speed.
If Ren Xiaosu were to face Midnight, no matter how impressive Old Xu’s physical fitness was or what other trump cards Ren Xiaosu had, he would still die if he got near something like Midnight.
Midnight only needed to wrap Ren Xiaosu around its tongue, and that strong muscle would immediately squeeze him until his blood vessels burst.
It would take a heat-seeking missile to deal with a creature like that. Ren Xiaosu even suspected that heavy machine guns might not be able to pierce the defense of Midnight’s tough skin quickly enough.
Of course, it would be possible to pierce its skin by firing at a fixed spot constantly, but the problem was that this creature would not just stand there and let you hit it.
Midnight was still crawling at a very fast pace. From time to time, it would scoop up a sheep or a donkey with its tongue to replenish its energy.
However, putting everything else aside for now, the lizard’s movements were smooth as running water. The four of them did not feel it was a bumpy ride as they rode on its back.
Luo Lan sighed and said, “I thought I’d become very strong after my training, but now it seems like I’m still somewhat lackluster.”
At the end of the day, the most useful thing about Luo Lan’s power was still that it could artificially “revive” people. No matter how powerful Luo Lan might be, the enhancement he could provide to the martyred spirits was still very limited.
For example, if the physical fitness rating of the martyred spirits was 3 when they were still alive, then Luo Lan, as the wielder, would probably be able to enhance their physical fitness rating to 4 with consistent training.
Therefore, if the martyred spirits power did not have the advantage in numbers, it would actually be meaningless. Although firearms and explosives could make up for some of their shortcomings, they would still run out of ammo eventually.
Ren Xiaosu suddenly asked, “You rejected my invitation to the Northwest. What exactly is it that makes you so anxious about returning to the Qing Consortium?”
Luo Lan answered, “There’s no need to hide it from you. Before I went to the Kingdom of Sorcerers, the Wang Consortium had already sent an invitation to the Qing Consortium to let my younger brother, Qing Zhen, make a trip to the Central Plains.”
“To the Central Plains? Why?” Ren Xiaosu was stunned.
“I think Wang Shengzhi wants to have a chat with him.” Luo Lan remarked, “Maybe he wants to join forces with the Qing Consortium to attack the Northwest? To be honest, if the Qing Consortium and the Wang Consortium really joined forces, the Northwest would definitely not be a match for them. However, who can put a finger on Wang Shengzhi’s thoughts? He’s a full-on idealistic madman. If you weren’t also a madman like him, you couldn’t guess what he’s really up to.”
“And then?” Ren Xiaosu frowned and said, “Has Qing Zhen decided to go or not?”
“Of course not.” Luo Lan said, “Who would dare to go to the Central Plains at a time like this? What if they don’t let him come back? Although everyone says that Wang Shengzhi is the last gentleman in this era of the wastelands when it comes to personal virtue, look at what he has done. You can say he’s cold-blooded and heartless, willing to sacrifice anything for his ideals. Faced with such an opponent, who would dare to bet their life on his character?”
Ren Xiaosu heaved a sigh of relief. “It’s good that he rejected the invitation.”
Ren Xiaosu suddenly had a thought. He had already encountered many idealists. Wang Shengzhi, Yang Anjing, and even P5092 and Jiang Xu were all idealists.
However, their paths had always been different. The reason Wang Shengzhi and Yang Anjing were so ostracized while Jiang Xu and P5092 were loved by the people around them was that the former always sacrificed others to fulfill their ideals, while the latter would not do so.
But when it came to the opinion of whether Wang Shengzhi was wrong or not, Ren Xiaosu always found this issue a little complicated and could not come up with a clear answer to it.
Ren Xiaosu said to Luo Lan, “Then what are your plans for this trip back to the Southwest?”
“What other plans can I have?” Luo Lan said solemnly, “The Wang Consortium has invited Qing Zhen to go over. Although Qing Zhen has rejected it, Wang Shengzhi will definitely not give up. So I’ll return to my younger brother’s side first in case the Wang Consortium tries to stir up any further trouble. You also know that Wang Shengzhi is not someone who will give up easily.”
“But I feel like you still have some other worries,” Ren Xiaosu said.
“Of course.” Luo Lan said, “You should know that all of the Qing Consortium’s nanomachines have been lost, right? The 2,000 nanosoldiers who went to support the Battle of Mt. Zuoyun have also disappeared. We think they’ve fallen under the control of someone.”
“You’ve mentioned it before.” Ren Xiaosu nodded.
“What we’re worried about now is not the nanomachines, but how many of our military systems have been hacked by that artificial intelligence.” Luo Lan said, “We’ve already taken a lot of precautions before this, and many of our military systems can operate independently of each other due to Qing Zhen’s foresight that such a day might come. However, the power of the AI might be even more terrifying than we expect.”
Ren Xiaosu was stunned. “Are you worried that the Qing Consortium’s military systems will get controlled by the AI?”
“Theoretically, yes.” Luo Lan said, “Although we’ve already put in place physical isolation measures, Qing Zhen said it’s still not safe enough. Actually, I don’t know much about these things either, but don’t underestimate the AI.”
At this moment, Ren Xiaosu, who had regained all of his memories, remembered a piece of news from before The Cataclysm: There was a project named Nitro Zeus, in which thousands of military intelligence agents involved would execute comprehensive cyber attacks on an enemy’s infrastructure and nuclear facilities.
Ren Xiaosu did not know much about the Internet, but his father, Ren He, did. After all, the Qinghe Group’s predecessor was a large Internet empire.
At that time, Ren Xiaosu had asked Ren He, “Nuclear facilities should be run on an independent system segregated physically. How can they hack into an air-gapped network with such a method?”𝐟𝙧e𝑒𝒘𝐞𝒃n𝒐ѵ𝘦𝒍.co𝙢
At that time, Ren He’s answer was that there were actually many ways, but what Nitro Zeus aimed to do was to exploit networks through a “ferryman.” No matter how enclosed a military base was, it would still require data or equipment from external sources, such as portable laptops and other hardware, including printers.
The person who brought the equipment into the military base would not be aware that their equipment had been compromised, and this person was called the ferryman.
These devices would definitely be put through a strict inspection before entering the secured premises, but whether they could be identified as compromised or not would depend on which party was more skillful.
As for how to make someone a ferryman, that was another complicated operation altogether. At that time, Ren He did not really discuss it much with Ren Xiaosu.
Ren He only said that there was no such thing as an absolutely secure system in the world.
Then Ren Xiaosu asked Ren He, “Dad, how did you know they were planning to use this method?”
Ren He replied, “I saw it when I hacked into their military system, of course…”
Therefore, from the look of things, Luo Lan and the Qing Consortium’s worries were not unfounded.
In terms of technology, Zero must have far surpassed all information technology experts in the world. Its computing power and learning ability were something humans could not compare to.
If Zero really got control of the Qing Consortium’s military systems, it would mean the entire Qing Consortium military system had completely collapsed.
Ren Xiaosu asked, “How high of a probability do you think something like that could happen?”
Luo Lan threw up his hands. “50%? 80%? Who knows? More importantly, from a human’s point of view, it’s very difficult to speculate on just how powerful an AI is. It’s just like how you can’t really guess the level of an alien civilization.”
From Luo Lan’s point of view, he had already classified the artificial intelligence as an alien civilization.
Ren Xiaosu took a deep breath. “Since you know there’s such a possibility, you’ll have to be more careful.”
“Mhm.” Luo Lan said, “We will. It’s precisely because there’s this speculation that I need to quickly return to Qing Zhen’s side. If there’s any matter that requires me to handle, I can also quickly take over.”
Ren Xiaosu was stunned. He realized Luo Lan had always been the one to handle the most dangerous matters facing the Qing Consortium.
Going to the Li Consortium to seize the nanomachines’ neurotech and going to the Yang Consortium to be a hostage were such examples, and going to the Central Plains to seek alliances was also like this.
It seemed that Luo Lan was the one who did all the dangerous work. This seemed a little unfair to him.
Luo Lan looked at Ren Xiaosu and suddenly said, “Don’t misunderstand, I’m not that stupid to get forced into charging into enemy lines. Just like you and Yan Liuyuan, an elder brother has to lead the charge for his younger brother, right?”
At this moment, Luo Lan chuckled and said, “But, of course, you’re much stronger than me. Although Little Liuyuan has grown up to become a lord, he still can’t compare to you. I can’t do the same though. I’ll be happy to just quietly serve as Qing Zhen’s foil. My younger brother is much stronger than me.”
For a moment, Ren Xiaosu did not know what to say.
This time, Ren Xiaosu had insisted on sending Luo Lan back to the Qing Consortium’s territory because he also had other considerations.
He would definitely not be able to bring a behemoth like Midnight back to the Northwest. With its appetite, it would probably eat up all the sheep in the Northwest within a few months. More importantly, those sheep were the collective property of Fortress 178, so they were not to be eaten as and when.
Before leaving the Kingdom of Sorcerers, Ren Xiaosu even specially turned around and instructed Melgor, “Don’t use the summoning spell anymore in the future and eat our Fortress 178’s sheep. Otherwise, I’ll bill it to you if we lose any sheep in the future. The next time I return to the Kingdom of Sorcerers, I’ll make you pay up with interest.”
Mel was stunned. Initially, he was quite happy when he saw Ren Xiaosu turning around to look for him. But who could have expected that the future commander of Fortress 178 was so bothered about losing those sheep!
Right now, Ren Xiaosu would have to send Midnight to a suitable place to stay before returning to Stronghold 144.
If he wanted to see Midnight again in the future, he could just summon it directly to his side. It wouldn’t be too troublesome at all.
Ren Xiaosu had seriously thought about it before. Even though Midnight and Dusk had been living in the crater of the Jing Mountains’ volcano for more than 200 years, he had not seen the Jing Mountains become entirely devoid of wildlife.
Therefore, he thought Midnight and Dusk should be able to sustain their own needs by absorbing heat. Meanwhile, there was a suitable place in the mountain range in the southwest that Zhou Qi had been to before.
The four of them sat on Midnight’s back and passed through the Gobi to arrive near Stronghold 93 in just a few hours.
At this point, Ren Xiaosu suddenly realized Yang Xiaojin had become much quieter.
This used to be the Yang Consortium’s territory, and Yang Xiaojin had also been here many times before. Now that she was returning to this familiar place, it would definitely bring back some memories of the past.
Midnight came to a factory warehouse and stood there quietly. When the factory’s garrison troops and workers saw this huge creature, they nearly peed their pants.
The workers all went in the opposite direction of Midnight. Some of them returned to the factory to hide, while others took cover in underground bunkers. There were also some who ran out into the wilderness.
Midnight looked at these people curiously. However, it remembered that its master did not allow it to eat people, so it did not stick out its tongue to scoop them into its mouth.
Ren Xiaosu asked Luo Lan, “Where are your people? Isn’t it better to send you back to Stronghold 93 directly? Why did you insist on coming to this factory?”
“Wait a minute.” Luo Lan whistled at the factory’s warehouse. The factory’s warehouse gate suddenly opened, and more than a dozen off-road vehicles drove out. It was as though they had been waiting there for a long time.
Luo Lan explained with a laugh, “We have to be careful at such a time, of course. Who knows if there are any spies in Stronghold 93? After I join up with my men here, I’ll head straight for Stronghold 111 first. That’s the safest route to take.”
Everyone climbed down from Midnight’s back. Someone from the off-road vehicle convoy immediately rushed out and did some tests on Luo Lan with an instrument to ensure he was healthy.
Ren Xiaosu was stunned when he saw this. Luo Lan said helplessly, “This is Qing Zhen’s arrangement.”
Ren Xiaosu said, “Since you’ve arrived safely, I’ll be leaving then.”
When Luo Lan heard this, he pushed away the medical staff around him and gave Ren Xiaosu a gentle hug. “Bro, take care. I don’t know when we’ll see each other again.”
? “We’ll definitely meet again.” Ren Xiaosu said with a smile, “Even if you don’t come to the Northwest to look for me, I’ll still go to the Qing Consortium to look for you.”
Luo Lan thought for a moment and said with a smile, “Deal.”
“I hope that when the time comes, everything will be settled, and we won’t have to fight and kill anymore,” Ren Xiaosu said in seriousness.
Luo Lan suddenly turned solemn. “I have a favor to ask of you.”
“What is it?” Ren Xiaosu asked.
“One day, if Qing Zhen encounters danger, please help him out once.” Luo Lan said, “Although my younger brother is a very smart person, there are times when everyone will make mistakes in their calculations. There’s no such thing as a truly flawless plan.”
Ren Xiaosu looked at Luo Lan. Up until the moment before leaving, this guy was still thinking about how to add another layer of insurance to his younger brother’s wellbeing.
“Alright, I’ll promise you that,” Ren Xiaosu said.
With that, he took out a red Eye of True Sight from his storage space and handed it to Luo Lan. “You’ve seen this thing before. It’s an Eye of True Sight. I’ll give it to you so that you can save yourself too if you’re in danger.”
“Save myself?” Luo Lan was stunned. “But I don’t know any spells. Didn’t they say it would take a long period of training before spells are effective?”
“There’s no need for any practice if it’s to open an enchanted doorway.” When Ren Xiaosu explained to Luo Lan how to open the Enchanted Doorway, Luo Lan’s eyes immediately lit up.
“You’re saying that I’ll be able to open up a dimensional portal and go to the place I want to go most by dripping my blood on it and turning it ten times?” Luo Lan said happily.
Previously, when Luo Lan saw the 6th Field Division passing through that metal door, he was really envious and found it very magical.
But he did not expect that he would one day be able to learn that method too.
Luo Lan was not a fool. He knew just how useful the Eye of True Sight and the Enchanted Doorway could be.
“Yes, a person can only activate it once in their lifetime, so you must cherish it. This thing can save your life during critical moments,” Ren Xiaosu said in seriousness.
“Xiaosu, thank you.” Luo Lan suddenly sighed and said, “I’ve always wanted to repay the favor after each time you helped me. But it seems like I can never finish repaying you.”
“Is there a need for something like that between us?” Ren Xiaosu said with a laugh.
“By the way, does Ms. Xiaojin have an Eye of True Sight?” Luo Lan said politely, “Why don’t you give this red one to her instead?”
“You don’t have to worry about that. She has a better one,” Ren Xiaosu said.
At this point, Ren Xiaosu suddenly remembered that Yang Xiaojin still lacked an item to activate the Enchanted Doorway.
It was not the Eye of True Sight but a physical door.
Immediately after, Luo Lan, Zhou Qi, and everyone else watched helplessly as Ren Xiaosu walked to the entrance of the warehouse. Then he forcefully cut off half of the large metal door and put it into his storage space.
Everyone at the scene was confused when they saw this. Initially, those who came to pick Luo Lan up felt that Midnight was the most terrifying existence around. But now, they felt they might have gotten it wrong. The person in front of them who could cut down half of your metal door at the slightest disagreement was the truly terrifying one instead!
Ren Xiaosu was a little embarrassed. He said to Luo Lan, “I’ll be using this for Xiaojin to open her Enchanted Doorway. Sorry, sorry.”
After that, he pulled Yang Xiaojin along and climbed onto Midnight’s back again. Then he had Midnight run towards the mountain range to the southwest of the Qing Consortium.
Zhou Qi was stunned. “Is that what it means to break down doors to make an escape? The ancients are so right!”
Comments for chapter "Chapter 1206"
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