No Money to Divorce
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 92: Candidate
They couldn’t blow up the school. This caused the people who had breathed a sigh of relief after seemingly having found “Butterfly’s” server became tense once more.
Both Zhong Yan and Adrian still were in the mood during the meeting when they first boarded the ship to make jokes with everyone to lighten up the mood, but nobody could even muster up a smile anymore.
“On the positive side of things, some people—or AI—must not want us to destroy the planet from the dirty bombs we found. That at least proves that something’s down there. We can almost be certain now that that must be ‘Butterfly’s’ brain. It’s something, at least,” one of the AI experts said. Even though he was trying to comfort everyone, the tight frown on his brows still showed how worried he was.
Yes, they did manage to get some clues, but they couldn’t act rashly. Otherwise, nobody can bear the consequences of the radioactive leakage from the dirty bombs.
Zhong Yan asked, “How’s our backup plan going?”
Their main plan was to find and destroy “Butterfly’s” server, while their backup was to find “Cocoon”, the only AI with the power to shut down “Butterfly” for good.
The researcher in charge of contacting the Capital shook his head to Zhong Yan.
There was no progress. Information was missing. The participants from a century ago have all died, and every last trace was cleaned up by “Butterfly”. They simply could not find where “Cocoon” that had been abandoned a century ago was. There was only one way to go now, and that was to destroy “Butterfly’s” brain that was surrounded by all those dirty bombs.
The artificial planet experts began discussing possible solutions based on video materials sent over from the Institution Star. Adrian had actually taken a bomb dismantling class during his time in the Supreme Institution, and his results were pretty good. Only, he never used those skills for many years and his skills had already turned rusty. Fortunately, one of the guards he sent to Zhong Yan was part of the bomb disposal unit. So, he transferred the guard over to discuss with the experts as well.
The discussion went on until they arrived in the Institution Star’s signal zone, and they saw the message sent to them by the front-line detection squad a few hours ago. They have already confirmed that the main server of the super AI is inside the planet.
Mankind created two super AIs in total, and the Institution Star had only been built a century ago. It can not be “Cocoon” that had been around for more than two hundred years, only “Butterfly”.
Even though they expected this news, a strange feeling still arose in their hearts when the confirmation came, especially for the half who came from the Institution Star. Just thinking about how they lived three years on a planet that had “Butterfly’s” brain in its core, and covered with so many dirty bombs, all of them felt chills.
On the sixth day since “Butterfly’s” hibernation, the group of experts consisting of the President, The Commander, as well as the Federation’s top scientists arrived at the Institution Star.
In Adrian and Zhong Yan’s memories, they had never seen the school this cold before. They always came here when school started and left during the holidays. Every day of their lives at the campus was lively and filled with vitality. But there was no time for them to mourn the desolate scene. Now that they have returned once more, they were no longer students and instead had become those who shoulder the hopes of all of mankind.
“Mr. Headmaster.” Adrian frowned and shook hands with the middle-aged man. “Why haven’t you evacuated yet?”
This headmaster was not the one during Adrian and Zhong Yan’s time in school. In fact, he had only been in office for less than three years. This professor used to be a professor from the School of Social Sciences, and Zhong Yan had once taken his class. This was also the headmaster who led the joint protest of the colleges and universities.
“It’s very dangerous here, Professor. We will arrange a spaceship to take you away now,” Zhong Yan also said.
“My students,” the headmaster smiled. A sanguine look could be seen in his eyes as he said, “I am the headmaster of this school, how could I evacuate when my students are rushing to the front-lines? I will not hold you back, so please let me stay.”
Zhong Yan mumbled, “That’s not what we mean…”
“Your Excellency, your advisor has spoken with me before he evacuated about the Specimen store you invested in.” The headmaster winked at Zhong Yan. “Don’t worry, all the precious specimen materials have already been taken away by the students working there.”
This headmaster was also on the anti-AI side. After the old headmaster retired more than two years ago, he successfully took up the position of headmaster with “Specimen’s” strong support, but he had only found out yesterday that Zhong Yan was the one behind that organization.
Zhong Yan did not expect that his advisor would tell the headmaster his identity before he left either, and he felt a little embarrassed for a while. He nodded, “Thank you.”
“No need to worry. I still owe Your Excellency a big thank you.”
Any other person may not understand what they were talking about, but Adrian, as someone in the know, understood. It turns out that this headmaster had Zhong Yan at the back to give him the push, and he couldn’t help but take a glance at Zhong Yan. He realized now that Zhong Yan actually did way more than he expected those past few years.
But it was no time to talk about the past right now. After making sure of the situation, all of them began heading to the experiment building of the School of Engineering together. Since most of the equipment they needed were in the School of Engineering, that was where they set up their temporary headquarters for the time being. As soon as the party from the Capital arrived, they saw a busy scene inside the experiment building’s lobby. Various instruments they could not say the name of were piled up in the hall with dozens of huge virtual screens displaying complex graphs and data. Many of the people bustling about were professors that Adrian and Zhong Yan were familiar with, and there were even a few teenage girls who did not look any older than twenty. Those were the students who performed well enough academically and stayed behind by their own will to help.
Very soon, soldiers from the Navi Military Command came to bring the Capital’s expert team over to join the work. The three colonels met up with Adrian and Zhong Yan and reported on their current progress.
“The small-scale detection equipment we brought down were destroyed halfway through,” the First Regiment’s leader said. “Fortunately, it wasn’t without reward. After searching various directions with the unmanned detection devices, we found a special channel that may be used by the scientists who built ‘Butterfly’s’ server, and it may even lead us to ‘Butterfly’s’ core. We already have a team digging up an entrance there.”
Adrian nodded. “Very good. Where is the corresponding entrance, exactly?”
“Right below the School of Mechanical Engineering, in an abandoned warehouse. What number was it again…?”
Both Zhong Yan and Adrian blurted out at the same time. “No. 178?”
All three of the colonels looked at them in surprise. The Colonel of the First Regiment said, “That’s right, it’s no. 178! How did you know?!”
Adrian and Zhong Yan glanced at each other. For a while, they really didn’t know where to begin. The School of Mechanical Engineering’s warehouse no.178 was the “down” written down in their cipher book.
“So that’s how it was? It’s no wonder there’s no monitoring there,” Adrian said, still feeling shocked. “We always sneaked over there back then and spent the whole night. It’s really fortunate we never got offed by ‘Butterfly’.”
Zhong Yan said helplessly, “This teaches us not to violate the school rules so casually.”
The Third Regiment’s leader widened his eyes. “You often spent nights in the abandoned warehouse? What were you uh…doing in the warehouse?”
“Chatting,” Adrian told him honestly.
The young colonel looked at him with scorn, his face saying, “Who are you trying to fool?”
Adrian slapped him upside the head and shouted, “What kind of nonsense are you thinking of! We were purely chatting!”
But in fact, the other two colonels did not believe that statement either. The two of them looked at each other and believed that the young President and Commander were doing some kind of special play during their school years. But they were a bit older after all, they wouldn’t run their mouths like the Third Regiment’s Colonel, and just quietly felt surprised in their hearts. It turns out that these two calm-looking people were actually so wild during their school days. Sure enough, young people know how to have fun.
Seeing their reputation growing worse and worse, Zhong Yan coughed and said, “So, when will the opening on the School of Mechanical Engineering’s side be open?”
It will take a few hours to break open the surface,” The Second Regiment’s colonel said. “Your Excellency, there are empty rooms in the dormitory, do you and the commander want to take a rest for now?”
But of course, there was no way any of them were in any mood to rest. Thus, Zhong Yan said, “No. We’ll go and see if the experts managed to devise any feasible plans.”
With that, there were faint changes in the expressions of all three colonels. The three of them looked like they wanted to say something but were stuck. Sensing the situation, Adrian asked, “What is it? Is there something you haven’t said?”
The three of them looked at each other for a few moments. Finally, the Colonel of the First Regiment bit the bullet and said, “Commander, Deputy Commander Suster had just set off yesterday and will arrive by today.”
Adrian was stunned. Following that, he howled, “What is he coming for?! Didn’t I give him the order to stay at Navi’s base camp?! Why didn’t you tell me yesterday? My adjutant and my colonels are working together to conceal their military affairs from me?! Do you know what kind of…”
“Ade,” Zhong Yan gently tugged at the hem of his clothes to stop him from scolding them. Calmly, he asked, “You have already discussed a feasible plan yesterday and reached a conclusion, right?”
The three of them nodded awkwardly, but Adrian wasn’t surprised at all. It was because he could guess that he was so angry. Calmly, he said, “The detection devices can only perform limited movements. It’s too late to create a suitable report in such a short amount of time, so the best way is to send someone down to destroy ‘Butterfly’s’ brain. It’s too dangerous and none of you told me. Instead, you discussed with the deputy and that was why he rushed over without telling me. He wants to be the one to head down.”
The colonel of the second regiment steeled himself and said, “The Deputy Commander’s individual combat abilities are clear to everyone. He’s a very suitable candidate!”
“Yes, he’s strong,” Adrian said, “but the strongest individual is on this planet right now.”
The Colonel of the Third Regiment was anxious. “You can’t go, Commander! What will we do if anything happens to you down there? His Excellency will definitely not agree to it!”
Adrian suddenly realized how cruel this conversation was to Zhong Yan. He was just about to ask Zhong Yan to leave first, but he heard him say, “I’m not against it.”
His tone was steady as usual, but when Adrian turned to him, he could see his eyes growing red.