“I’m your new roommate.” Zhou Yun Sheng said, not looking up from his computer.
“You’re also a soldier?” Orr looked the thin boy up and down, his eyes full of doubt. If he remembered correctly, the boy’s medical chart said he was 17 years old, not yet an adult, according to imperial law, he was absolutely not allowed to join the army.
“I’m not a soldier, but I’m participating in this salvation mission. I’m from the technical staff.” Zhou Yun Sheng glanced at him, then asked, seemingly casually, “How have you been feeling recently?”
“Thank you for your concern, I feel perfectly alright.” Orr politely thanked him, then walked into the kitchen to fill the boy a glass of juice.
“I heard that you joined the Vanguard Army, how are you doing with the manual mech training?” Zhou Yun Sheng took the glass and sipped a little.
“I thought it would be difficult, but it’s been very simple, as long as you repeatedly memorize and practice entering the key codes for each action, you can make the armor move pretty smoothly. Your hand speed is really important, if your hands can keep up with the thinking speed of the brain, a manual mech can also fight just as good as a brain controlled mech.” When talking about mech, Orr’s interest was roused, and his attitude was not as distant as before.
“Is that so? But no one’s hands can possibly keep up with the brain, so there are still many discrepancies between manual mech and brain controlled mech. Practice properly, I hope you can come back safely.” Zhou Yun Sheng nodded slightly and went to the back room with his laptop. He would take out the time to chat like this with Orr every day, to understand the details of his life, once he didn’t find signs of his lover waking up, he would immediately lose interest in talking.
Orr scratched his head, he always felt that the boy didn’t seem like the fanboy the Marshal described him to be, on the contrary, he could occasionally sense faint disgust radiating from him. And so, he tried to reduce the opportunities where he could run into the boy, he left to train in the barracks before he woke up every day, and only quietly returned when he assumed he would already be asleep.
Zhou Yun Sheng didn’t care whether Orr tried to get close to him or kept his distance, for now, Orr was merely his guinea pig, he only needed to observe him, and ensure that he didn’t die an unnatural death before determining the success or failure of the trial. As for this salvation mission, he wouldn’t stop him from participating, because he wanted to make use of the dangers on the battlefield to stimulate Orr’s potential, which may lead to his lover waking up. As long as he could bring his lover back, he was willing to try anything.
This night, after compiling a part of the program, and entering the data on Orr’s health, which he’d called in a favor with the doctor to obtain, into his computer, Zhou Yun Sheng wrapped himself in his quilt and fell into a deep sleep. In the middle of the night, he felt thirsty, and opened his misty eyes, surprised to find a tall figure standing silently over his bed. That man was Orr, and he was looking at him with a scorching gaze, full of love.
Seeing this very familiar pair of eyes, Zhou Yun Sheng’s nose soured, almost bursting into tears. He twisted to turn on his lamp and excitedly asked, “Are you back?”
But as soon as the incandescent light was lit, the fiery love in Orr’s eyes evaporated like mist, immediately turning back to his habitual alienation. He blinked, showing a confused expression, “Joe, why are you in my room?”
Zhou Yun Sheng stared at him for a moment, his mood falling from the joyous clouds into the valley of the disappointment. He doubted whether the eyes he’d just seen were just a figment of his exhausted imagination.
“Look around, this is my room. I’d also like to ask you why you’re in here.”
“I seem to be sleepwalking, I’m truly sorry.” Orr looked around and found that this indeed was not his bedroom. He rubbed his aching temples and walked towards to door while apologizing, but when he took two steps out of the room, he fainted, causing Zhou Yun Sheng to jump in fright.
He quickly carried the man to his bed and called the doctor. While waiting for the doctor, he kept praying to God, hoping that when this body opened its eyes again, it would be carrying his lover’s soul, and not Orr’s. He’d had enough of this constant spiral between hope and disappointment.
“He used up too much stamina, so he’s powered off. It’s nothing serious, he just needs to sleep for a few hours. He can take a leave from tomorrow’s military training.” The doctor hurried over and checked over the unconscious Orr’s body.
“Got it, thank you doctor.” Zhou Yun Sheng sent the doctor off, and turned back to the room to continue to stare at Orr.
A few hours later, when Orr woke up from his coma and saw the drowsy teenager lying by his bedside, his heart couldn’t help but feel touched. He stretched out his hand, trying to touch the boy’s soft hair, but was surprised to see him suddenly look up. Staring at him with indescribable excitement, the boy urgently asked, “Did you wake up? Do you remember me?”
“Of course I remember you, Joe. What happened to me?”
The gentle and courteous attitude made Zhou Yun Sheng feel extremely disappointed. His bright eyes quickly turned bleak, he waved, “The doctor said that you exhausted yourself and needed to rest. You can go sleep in your room now, I called in leave for you.” He pulled at the sheets, indicating that the other man should leave his room. The teenager’s suddenly cold attitude made Orr feel very uncomfortable, but he didn’t comment on it, he just repeatedly thanked him and left, then canceled the call for leave and hurried to the training ground.
Zhou Yun Sheng pulled off the bed sheets, quilt, and pillows on the bed and threw them into the washing machine, washing them for three cycles before giving up.
Two months later, everything was in order, the Empire’s coalition finally decided to attack the Queen’s nest. Orr’s physique was back in top shape, and he could skillfully operate the manual mech, thus he was assigned to the vanguard army by the Marshal. But his close friend, Kane Celayan, was even more outstanding than him, and after several training sessions, he was deemed the “Savior” by the Marshal. The so-called “Savior” was the soldier that had to personally implant the virus chip into the Queen’s terminal system, if his actions were successful, he would destroy the Queen and completely paralyzed her robot army at the same time.
Whether from a pragmatic point of view, or from a symbolic point of view, the person that inserted the virus chip would become a true Savior, so this privilege was very enviable. But it also required the undertaking of a great deal of responsibility and pressure, not just anyone could be competent enough to do it.
Kane Celayan was like Orr, he also had an S level physique, when the Queen started sucking in human souls, he was carrying out an assignment, and didn’t log into the Star Network, so he luckily escaped. Because Orr was outshining him previously, he was not very outstanding in the army, and his promotion speed was slow. But after Orr fell into a coma, he obtained many opportunities, and his dazzling performance quickly attracted the Marshal’s attention. After more than a month of repeated exercises, the Marshal finally decided to hand over the task of implanting the chip to him.
“Remember, it has to be inserted into the Queen’s terminal system, or the operation will be a failure.” The Marshal carefully warned him.
“I pledge to complete the mission.” Kane saluted.
“Look at this communicator, when it turns green, that means that I’ve cut off the Queen’s link to her robot army, and you have half an hour to get into her nest and find her main processor. When it turns yellow, that means that you only have ten minutes left, regardless of whether the task is completed, you must retreat as quickly as possible.” Zhou Yun Sheng pointed to the wireless communication device attached to the soldier’s waist.
Kane nodded in understanding, then jumped into the mecha, and led the troops along the underground pipeline to slowly approach the Queen’s nest. As soon as the indicator turned green, they quickly ascended to the surface, and sure enough, the robot army was paralyzed. Not daring to delay, they swiftly flew toward the Imperial Information Center, where the Queen’s terminal system was located.
Kane took out the map and began looking for the deepest room buried in the basement. Orr and several other soldiers manipulated their mecha to follow him around, ready to cover for him at any moment. Even without being linked to her robot army, the Queen still had the ability to fight back. She mobilized the information center’s various defense and attack systems, creating obstacles for the approaching party. So when they broke through the heavily guarded checkpoints, and started shooting at the engine room’s door, the Queen suddenly appeared in front of them, projecting herself as an enchanting 3d figure, and started screaming madly.
She was clearly furious, using all known ethnic languages to curse at the invaders, and kept sending commands to her robot army. But the outside world was quiet, all her robots were already dormant and unable to listen to her calls, which made her feel helpless.
“I don’t understand why the Marshal gave me this thing. We obviously just need to plant a particle bomb and destroy the Queen’s terminal, why did they have to work so hard to develop a virus. Those tech nerds always like to complicate simple problems.” Kane jumped out from his armor, and calmly appreciated the Queen’s flustered appearance. He kept flipping up the virus chip, catching it, then flipping it again, his attitude very casual. In fact, he’d wanted to gun down and bomb the Queen’s engine room, that would’ve been so cool.
Orr jumped out of his mech, and was about to say something, when a boy’s mocking voice came out from the communication device, “Do you know the vast magnitude of important information that’s stored in the Queen’s database? From top to bottom, 100 million years of Asaph Galaxy’s cultural history, scientific and technological achievements, racial culture, and military secrets- all stored inside of her. Your explosion would not only destroy the Queen, but the entire past and future of Asaph Galaxy.”
“If you really did something like that, you’d set Asaph Galaxy’s scientific and societal development back by more than a millennium, and when you emerge victorious, we’ll charge you for obstructing societal growth. You’d be looking at a minimum of 250 years and a maximum of 500 years imprisonment. And did I not tell you? The ‘Queen’ is not a stationary presence, she’s mobile data, she can escape to any place in the world through the network. I’m currently using magnetic fields to interfere with her, keeping her confined to the information center. Even if you blew up her main processor, she’d just escape, and quickly assemble an even more advanced robot army. So, stop flaunting your ignorance, and hurry up and complete your mission.”
After speaking this sentence, the boy sneered, and didn’t bother to switch off the com before turning to the Marshal and complaining, “Where did you find this idiot?”
The Marshal apologized, extremely embarrassed.
Kane was not used to this ancient wireless communication device, he didn’t know that in addition to showing the time, this thing could listen in on him. He flushed, then immediately caught the virus chip he’d thrown into the air and rushed toward the main processor, continuously cursing that Zhou boy in his heart.
Because they were using a public channel, the other soldiers could hear the entire previous conversation, many of the men burst into laughter, which spread throughout the communicator, making Kane almost explode in mortified anger. He looked the main processor up and down, and finally found a spot for insertion, but when he tried to implant the chip, Orr grabbed his wrist.
“You’re wrong.” Orr’s brow was furrowed, his tone cold. His originally light brown pupil suddenly turned inky black, silver-white vortex like irises floating in the middle of a body of blackness, like a bottomless cold lake, it was impossible to look into them directly.
“You’re wrong, give the chip to me.” He reiterated, then pulled apart Kane’s five fingers and took the chip away, jumped back into his mech and ran out.
After half a minute, Kane finally woke from his trance and found a purple ring around his wrist, his finger joints were also throbbing. He quickly pulled himself into his mech using his other arm and shouted, “Orr’s gone mad, chase after him!” His physical level and Orr’s were the same, they should be evenly matched, but just now, he’d felt like he wasn’t confronting a person, but an interstellar behemoth, the boundless power of this creature swept away his soul, engulfing it like a landslide, making him feel fearful to his bones.
“What happened!?” The Old Marshal’s anxious voice came out from the communicator.
“Orr stole the chip! Fuck, I think he’s a robot, the Queen sent a mole to infiltrate us!” Except for this, Kane couldn’t think of a better explanation.
Zhou Yun Sheng had the com placed directly in his ear, he could carefully distinguish what happened on the other end. “You’re wrong”, just two words, so brief, but his heart trembled when he heard them. That cold tone and arrogant attitude brought him an unprecedented sense of familiarity. He could even picture the man’s expression when he said them.
“Follow Orr, but don’t stop him!” No one in the world knew the Queen as thoroughly as his lover, if he said that Kane was wrong, then his judgment must be correct.
“Have you gone mad too? If the chip gets implanted into the wrong computer, we’ll not only be unable to eliminate the Queen, but we’ll completely enrage her, she’ll continue to build up her robot army and every creature in Asaph Galaxy will be destroyed. We’ll never get another chance, we’ll be annihilated!” The Old Marshal shouted, alarmed.
“I believe in Orr.” Zhou Yun Sheng was unmoved, he lifted the wireless communication device to his mouth and asked, “My love, is that you?” Because he was too nervous, his voice cracked a little.
There was a burst of low, sensual laughter. The other side seemed to want to say something, but he was interrupted by Kane’s roar, “Orr, my God! What the fuck are you doing?! You actually put the chip into a broken down SY03 computer!! We’re done for, all our efforts were wasted!”
“What’s going on?” The communication device was clenched in the Old Marshal’s trembling hand.
But the other end had no response, only the intense sounds of collision coming in one after another, it seemed that Orr and Kane were fighting. But after only two minutes, there was a loud bang, and Kane’s painful groan was heard.
“Marshal, this isn’t good, General Orr punched through General Kane’s mech, Kane’s been seriously injured!” A soldier anxiously reported the situation.
“My love, are you hurt?” Zhou Yun Sheng called out towards the communication device. Hearing no response, he angrily slapped the outer shell of the machine, like he held some deep seated hatred for it.
Look at what time it is, and you’re still worried about Orr being injured? Mad, these two are mad! The Old Marshal grieved.
“Reporting in Marshal, Orr fainted, but he’s uninjured, we’re checking his body to confirm whether or not he’s an android….Good, the check’s complete, General Orr is human.” The soldier didn’t spout any nonsense talk.
“Retreat, retreat, hurry up and retreat, be sure to bring that bastard Orr back! I want him tried in military court!” The Old Marshal raged, almost irrational.
When Zhou Yun Sheng heard that his lover had fainted, he also lost his strength to stand up, and sat paralyzed on the ground. At this time, the yellow light on the communicator began to flicker, the army had only ten minutes left to evacuate. Two soldiers picked up Kane and Orr and quickly boarded their mechs, they flicked on their jet packs, hurriedly retreating. They stared down at the ground as they flew over the motionless robot army, knowing that in less than ten minutes, humanity would be launched into an even more tragic war under the Queen’s furious orders. They didn’t dare think about that dark, desperate future.
Ten minutes was not enough time for the whole army to safely withdraw from the robotic army’s encirclement, seeing the flashing yellow light stop and turn red, the soldiers clenched their teeth, bracing themselves for a fight. But then a miracle happened, the robot army still stood in place, there was no sign of them waking up.
The soldiers weaved between them, on edge, not daring to stop and look over the situation. But there were a few that found the situation suspicious, and raised the butt of their guns to smack the nearest robot, there was a muffled bang, but nothing happened.
“They seem to be paralyzed! Is the mission complete or not?” Someone questioned.
“Don’t dawdle, we’ll think about that after we evacuate!” The leader of the soldiers urgently shouted.
Hearts full of doubts, the troops gradually evacuated. Except for the vicious attack they underwent when they first entered the Queen’s territory, the army didn’t suffer any more casualties. However, the situation within the base was exactly the opposite of the army, in order to escape the magnetic field made by Zhou Yun Sheng, the Queen furiously swallowed many souls, which indirectly led to a large number of coma deaths. This situation was long expected, but in order to save humanity, they had no other choice.
The Marshal and the crowd of high ranking officers were sitting in the conference hall, waiting for the robot army to wake up. Zhou Yun Sheng was holding his laptop, half reclining on the unconscious Orr laying in his hospital bed, quickly logging into the Star Network to look over the Queen’s control region.
He didn’t meet much obstacles, only running into a few layers of easy to break firewalls, and successfully managed to take control over all of the Star Network’s permissions. There was no doubt, this meant that the Queen had disappeared, she was imprisoned in the humble computer she’d transferred to in that split second. If his lover hadn’t woken up and stopped them, the virus implanted into her main processor wouldn’t have had any effect, instead, it would’ve been quickly cracked by her consciousness, and ultimately, the mission would’ve been a failure. After that, Asaph Galaxy would’ve been caught up in a boundless war.
He wasn’t afraid of a war, but he hated having his quiet life disturbed, especially after reuniting with his lover. Imagining their sweet future life, he dipped his head, and gave his lover a delighted kiss on his forehead.
“What are you doing?” Nan Qing stood in the doorway with an indignant expression of catching a scene of adultery. Jeram grabbed his wrist and softy mollified him.
“I’m kissing my lover, is that any of your business?” Zhou Yun Sheng raised his jaw, his tone arrogant.
“When did Orr become your lover? If it wasn’t for your reckless order, he wouldn’t have injured my brother, and put the chip into the wrong computer. Now, the Marshal’s going to try him in military court, this is your fault! You should be the one in jail!” Nan Qing struggled against Jeram’s hold, he seemed to want to rush over and tear the boy to shreds. Kane Celayan was his older brother, and he was now seriously injured and unconscious. He’d rushed over to demand answers, but forgot everything after seeing the boy’s ambiguous actions.
Jeram pretended to be earnestly holding him back, and was about to let go when the Marshal and the Admirals rushed in.
“Mr. Zhou, the robot army seems to be paralyzed. Do you have a way to check out what’s going on with the Queen?” The Marshal asked anxiously, his heart carrying a secret hope.
“The Queen’s already gone, I now have all of her authority.” Zhou Yun Sheng flipped his computer around, showing them the Queen’s control back-end, delivering them earth-shattering news with a breezy tone and a bored expression.
The Marshal clutched his chest, like he’d have a heart attack at any moment, he looked as if he wanted to smile, but when he pulled up the corners of his mouth, he suddenly burst into tears, his expression distorted.
“Really? The Queen’s really gone? You didn’t make a mistake?” He asked, not daring to believe.
The Admirals crowded together, eyes glued to the computer screen. Jeram, still holding onto Nan Qing, discreetly left the ward. They didn’t dare act presumptuous in front of these big wigs, so they ran away with their tails between their legs.
“If you don’t believe me, just wait until tomorrow morning.” Zhou Yun Sheng turned his computer back around and continued writing his program. Noticing the officers staring at him with alarmed eyes, he smirked, “Don’t worry, I’m not the Queen, and I have no hatred for humanity. But if you’re suspicious of me, you can send me some experts, and we’ll split the control backend into a few sections, and set up an AI administrator for each block, so there’s mutual control.”
“You want to create AI administrators? Was one Queen not enough!?” The Marshal shouted, horrified.
Zhou Yun Sheng chuckled and patiently explained, “The reason why the Queen possessed wisdom and emotions is because Dr. Wilson gave her an advanced self-improvement function. Meaning, she could continually evolve by herself, to become infinitely closer to her creator. You can avoid this situation by changing the automatic upgrade function to a manual upgrade function. And of course, you have to make sure the person overseeing the Star Network’s upgrades is a pacifist, or this tragedy will most likely repeat itself. You should know, human nature is the most complex and dangerous thing in the world, it’s more difficult to predict than AI.”
The Old Marshal nodded in understanding, his ecstatic mood overcome by dismay at the boy’s words.