Chapter 1102 – The Undercurrents within different Parties
The duo idly chatted as they walked into the spacious conference room.
At this moment, various races were sitting in the conference room, all of which were Mechanics from all over the world. The lowest tier here was the Calamity Grade, and several Beyond Grade A Mechanics were also present.
The dynasty’s [Illusory Deity] Kant, [Warship Emperor] Maximiler, and [Quantum Demon] Judith; the church’s Sun Hunter and [Mechanical Catastrophe] Francisco; the federation’s [Mechanic Empress] Mornisa, [Defender] Romo, and the [Lone Ranger] Jackornitz whom Han Xiao had just released.
Not all of them specialized in Virtual Technology, but as Beyond Grade A Mechanics, they had naturally dabbled in the Virtual Domain, definitely more than what the Calamity Grades would have.
In order to deal with the Intelligent Plague, the three Universal Civilizations had invited all sorts of well-known experts from different Star Fields to work together. This could be described as a grand gathering of the universe’s mechanics. All sorts of talents gathered on this unprecedented occasion.
When Han Xiao walked in with Manison, everyone felt their breaths stagnate, their gazes landing on the two of them with emotions such as worship and awe appearing on their faces.
In the present Mechanic world, Manison was recognized as the pinnacle, whereas Black Star had an unstoppable rising momentum. Not long ago, he had set another stellar battle record. Coupled with his role as the Vice President of the Beyond Grade A Association, he was second only to Manison in the rankings of the Beyond Grade A Mechanics.
Watching the two of them walk in shoulder to shoulder, many of the Mechanics felt like they were meeting their idols.
“Oh, everyone is here.”
The Beyond Grade A Mechanics were all in the first row. Han Xiao first greeted Kant and his other dynasty allies before turning his head to sweep the federation and the church’s people with a glance.
Oh, it’s confirmed. Everyone here has been beaten by me before.
As though perceiving the ridicule in Han Xiao’s eyes, with the exception of Sun Hunter, the rest of the Mechanics naturally looked away, not wishing to make eye contact with Black Star.
This was especially so after being released from prison. Jackornitz, who was the latest to have been released, quickly turned his head to look at the ceiling, pretending to be distracted.
“Tsk tsk, don’t be shy. We’re all part of the same association now. Why are you still acting so cold, not even saying hello?”
Han Xiao leaned over, smiling as he draped his arms over their shoulders. Everyone’s shoulders stiffed; they only helplessly nodded and greeted him, “Vice President.”
Ah, how comfortable.
Han Xiao was satisfied, patting everyone’s shoulders vigorously before taking a seat next to Manison. He pulled Kant beside him to discuss the changes behind the virus thus far.
After a while, Sidreun strode into the room, standing on the rostrum of the conference room. The whispering voices quickly abated, and everyone looked up toward him.
Sidreun lightly cleared his throat, solemnly speaking.
“Some of you might know me, but others don’t, so I’ll do a brief introduction of myself. I’m Sidreun, the Chief of the Federation of Light’s Inspector Department. Everyone here is a Mechanic at the top of the universe and has accepted the invitation to remove the Virtual Mutiny Virus. The situation is urgent now, so I skip the formalities. Let me explain the current situation to you.”
As he spoke, Sidreun called out the virtual screen showing the current infection scope of the virus, continuing in a grave tone.
“The Virtual Mutiny Virus is a new type of quantum network virus with a very high technology level. It has amazing penetration ability into normal firewalls. After the data packet has succeeded in penetration, it will disguise itself as normal data. There are too many variants of the package’s key data, thus its degree of concealment is extremely high. Once the node is successfully infiltrated, the difficulty of scanning will be greatly increased, which in turn consumes more computing power.
“Moreover, every information package of the Virtual Mutiny Virus is a source of infection, constantly self-replicating to create repeated infections. Thus, the efficiency of our conventional methods will be too weak. At present, we are analyzing the structural coding of the information packets, planning to create programs that can reverse the development of its three unique programs—namely scanning, anti-virus, and firewall. The problem is, the coding for this virus is different from our mainstream quantum network technology. Just the analysis is difficult, slowing progress…”
Hearing this, everyone nodded. This was a normal process when dealing with virtual viruses.
Virtual Mechanics could be said to resemble the medical experts from all over the world, gathering and working together right now to research and come out with a cure to a new infectious disease.
Sidreun said in a heavy voice, “At present, the Virtual Mutiny Virus is still within the incubation period. We managed to intercept many virus information packets that did not manage to completely self-destruct themselves. After interpreting the content, we have discovered the trigger mechanism behind the outbreak of the virus. However, the situation is not good.
“Based on the analysis of the algorithms, it shows that there are sixteen trigger logics for the outbreak of the Virtual Mutiny Virus, of which four are potentially troublesome. First, when the number of infected nodes reaches a certain scale, the virus will automatically break out. The second trigger is the removal of the virus on a large scale. The third logic is that once the infection rate of the virus slows to a certain scale or if there are repeated infections without any new nodes being infected, the virus will then break out. Lastly, if a single virus packet is isolated or trapped for too long within a node, it will implode on its own…”
While listening to Sidreun’s introduction, Han Xiao nodded to himself in understanding.
Viruses would not sit and wait to die. These trigger mechanisms were created to adapt to various situations. If they infected enough numbers, outbreak! If they were being killed en masse, outbreak! If the infection rate was restricted, outbreak!
The [Intelligent Plague] mission had warned him of the existence of a virus core, so most of the trigger mechanisms, including the three previously talked about, should be controlled by the virus core. Only the virus core could coordinate the overall infection trend. Information packets were like bombs, and the virus core was the remote detonator.
While disconnecting the quantum network could cut off the connection between the information packets and the virus core, the fourth trigger was introduced to prevent such a situation. Even without the virus core remotely controlling it, the infected node will self-detonate if left too long without any new signal or information sources, akin to a timed bomb. Thus, it was also difficult to isolate and imprison the virus separately.
At present, the three Universal Civilizations could only cut off the connection between the Ancient Star Desert and the other Star Fields to prevent further infection, whereas the internal network of the Star Field had not been cut off, retaining the public base stations as well as the Star Field level quantum network channels.
It was not realistic to completely disconnect the network. Cutting off the link of each node would be equivalent to blinding themselves. In this manner, the three Universal Civilizations would not be able to monitor the rate of infection, let alone count the number of infected nodes.
Thus, only by developing an anti-virus with a three-pronged approach could the problem be settled once and for all.
“… The situation is severe. We’re fighting with time against the virus. While delaying the outbreak of the virus, we also have to speed up research and development. During this period, a mechanical rebellion could happen at any time, so we can only try our best to prepare and control the outbreak.”
Sidreun gazed around, his expression grave as he emphasized his point.
“We have to block the virus right here in the Ancient Star Desert, not letting it leak out to the outside world, else the crisis will be uncontrollable and evolve into a universal disaster. The consequences would be unimaginable!”
As his voice fell, the atmosphere of the conference room grew heavy.
Thinking about the potential impact, many of the mechanics present felt tremendous pressure. It could be said that the progress of their efforts was directly related to the number of casualties in the universe. If a mistake was made, there would then be countless sacrifices.
Han Xiao thought on it.
Has it reached such a state?
Even the three Universal Civilizations were having a headache, causing him to wonder which civilization this Virtual Mutiny Virus originated from as well as the creator of this technology.
Suddenly, Han Xiao’s eyes sparkled.
That’s right! If I utilize the [Bold Explorer] skill, I might be able to see through the origins of the virus…
After the meeting was adjourned, Sidreun took the group to the virus research department.
On the way, Han Xiao and Manison walked in front, entering the quantum network to chat privately in their minds.
“You came earlier than me, so tell me, is the analysis of the virus really that difficult?”
“It comes from an unknown civilization, with a never-before-seen encoding method. It’s already difficult to decipher, and coupled with the self-destruction mechanism, we only ever get incomplete information packets.” Manison shook his head. “With our strength, we can clear the information packets at will, but the current task is to create a three-pronged anti-virus kit that even ordinary people can use. Without advanced computing power, the requirements have to be more demanding.”
Han Xiao nodded, his eyes gleaming as he replied, “I feel that you don’t really wish to create the dedicated antivirus so quickly.”
Manison glanced at him, not bothering to reply directly. “This virus technology has the possibility to be weaponized. The information packet is being used like a missile head, and the content inside can be reprogramed, for example, to seize control of a machine. With the help of the high infectiousness of this virus, the invasion ability of us Virtual Mechanics can be raised to a whole new level…”
Hearing this, Han Xiao also clearly understood Manison’s plan.
This person wished to solve the disaster and accumulate achievements, but that was under the premise that he could thoroughly research and grasp this virus technology. In order to ensure the deterrence behind this technology, he did not wish to make a whole and complete antivirus, rather leaving a small loophole within.
Han Xiao secretly cursed this sneaky old man before narrowing his eyes and saying, “If you can control the virus core data and obtain the source code, then you can fully analyze this technology.”
“That’s right.” Manison nodded before glancing back. “It’s not just you and me, but every of the Beyond Grade A mechanics present, even those from the three Universal Civilizations have the same intention to obtain the virus core.”
On the way to the Ru0026D department, there was a huge crowd, and a large number of researchers were stationed here day and night to decipher the Virtual Mutiny Virus.
Everyone was assigned to their specific task, immediately beginning to work.
Some were in charge of scientific research whilst others did field work. They had to go outside to collect those infected nodes, acting as inspectors of the three Universal Civilizations to check how the other civilizations were handling the infected nodes.
As for the Beyond Grade A Mechanics, they acted as experts and consultants, staying within the headquarters to research. All of them had their dedicated rooms.
Taking his subordinates into the room, Han Xiao was assigned three information packages, of which the structural integrities were at 91%, 82%, and 75% respectively. These were the least damaged batches.
Han Xiao summoned Phillip, analyzing the information packages one by one against the currently deciphered part of the code comparison table.
As a Beyond Grade A Virtual Mechanic, he was not worried about Phillip being infected. This sort of information package could not break through his own defense line.
Taking advantage of Phillip doing the hard work for him, Han Xiao slipped into the quantum network, capturing one of the information packages before activating his [Bold Explorer] skill.
At the same time, on the Star Arc Civilization’s mother planet, a meeting was being held, and many of the upper echelons were discussing animatedly.
“Now that the three Universal Civilizations have blocked the Ancient Star Desert, disaster relief is the primary task for them, but they might also take the opportunity to deal with the Super Star Cluster Civilizations in this Star Field in the name of inspecting the infected nodes. They might request us to open our internal database, even taking advantage of this news blockage to achieve what they want!”
“That’s impossible. The three Universal Civilizations aren’t so stupid. If they take this opportunity to act on the civilizations that cooperate with them, it will only ruin their credibility and will only make us struggle to the death.”
“But forcing us to open our databases is rather possible. If we choose to reject, once they have solved this disaster, the three Universal Civilizations will have a lot of room to operate. Whether it is to plant blame or for political accountability, they can attack all of the Super Star Cluster Civilizations in the Ancient Star Desert, using this as an excuse to begin a crusade against the Super Star Cluster Alliance.”
“We can’t rely on the integrity of the three Universal Civilizations. We have to prepare bargaining chips and secure our retreat in advance.”
“That’s right. We cannot just listen to the arrangements of the three Universal Civilizations. I suggest we secretly collect some infected nodes, keeping the virus as a trump card. We can even take a little risk to open the military’s secret external communication network and pass the virus on to our secret forces within each Star Field as insurance…”
Suggestions spewed out quickly, and the expression of the head of the civilization was grave as he pondered.
The Star Arc Civilization was located within the Ancient Star Desert, and while it had cut off its connection with the outside world in response to the calls made by the three Universal Civilizations, there was no way a Super Star Cluster Civilization would be this honest and obedient.
To make them obediently give up on studying this terrible virus technology with just an order? What sort of joke was this? Did they think them innocent babies?
So what if the virus breaks out? It’s simple, just lock up all the offending artificial intelligences. There will definitely be more solutions than difficulties.
While the three Universal Civilizations were mainly there for disaster relief and did not express any hostility, the blocking of the Star Field still left the Super Star Cluster Civilizations in trepidation. As a civilization, it was impossible for them to place their future in the hands of others. They had to plan ahead.
It was not just Star Arc Civilization; all the advanced civilizations were also secretly planning something.
On a certain planet within the Ancient Star Desert, a subdivision of Machinery Faith was located.
Above the holy mountain, in the Temple of God, many priests stood on the edge of the circular hall, surrounding the holographic projections in the center. Those were the data structures of the Virtual Mutiny Virus, expanded and amplified, looking like stars in the galaxy.
“Look at the structure of this quantum network virus. It’s like a thorny rose, coquettish yet dangerous. It’s able to set off a machinery revolution, possibly creating a mechanical kingdom…”
One of the priests of the Virtual School could not help but sing out, a pious expression on his face.
“Quiet.” The Grand Priest tapped the Machinery Scepter before slowly saying, “This virus is dangerous. We have to conduct research in a completely enclosed environment to prevent any leakage.”
“This is no virus but the will of God. Why not spread it out?” Another zealot spread open his arms wide as he babbled. “Rather than saying that it’s a disaster, it’s better to claim it as the gospel!”
“Have you lost your mind‽”
Hearing this, most of the priests retorted.
“We’re the believers of machinery, not the emissaries of a disaster!”
The quarrel was fierce, and the Grand Priest had a heavy expression as he listened to the different factions arguing.
Any faith would have some zealots with distorted mindsets, and the Machinery Faith was no exception. Most of them wished to study the Virtual Mutiny Virus and did not want to cause a disaster.
However, a small portion of them did not think so. In their eyes, the Intelligent Plague was a god-sent message for revolution, allowing machinery to get rid of the shackles of being a tool and gain freedom to form its own Machinery Kingdom. In those zealots’ eyes, the Virtual Mutiny Virus was the will of God.
The Grand Priest turned his head, looking at the statues within the Temple of God. His eyes fell on the figures of Black Star and the Mechanic Emperor, and he prayed silently to them.
In another area of the Ancient Star Desert, a fleet was slowly cruising, within which was a bunch of players.
Now that the World Server was open, players from all Star Fields had gathered in the Flickering World. However, there were a few of the players that still chose to stay in their original Star Fields. Some of these people were happy being small-time characters, while others did not wish to travel all over the universe just to start from nothing once more. Thus, they remained in the Star Field to keep exploring.
The players in this fleet were an active guild based in the Ancient Star Desert, called the Western Sword Guild. They had been black market mercenaries for the past four versions, and everyone knew that they were Immortals.
The guild president’s ID was Melancholic Prince, and his character belonged to the galactic Blood Race, which referred to Vampires in general. They possessed pale white skin, skinny figures, and had a melancholic vibe.
The Blood Race existed in the universe, classified as part of the long-lived races, but they did not possess the famed talents such as blood recollection, transforming blood servants, and becoming bats. They also did not have the standard weaknesses such as garlic, silver, or Holy Relics.
There were many theories about the origin of the galactic Blood Race, which included genetic mutations, part of biological weapons created by higher civilizations, or even dark energy invasions. After years of natural selection, the blood race had also adapted to the Galactic Civilization, which caused them to no longer be afraid of ultraviolet radiation, surviving on synthetic blood as well. Ten Enas could buy a few tons of synthetic blood, which also came with a full set of seasoning as well as a fluffy mascot as a free gift.
However, this species was still unpopular in the universe, as no one liked a creature that drank the blood of others to replenish their physical strength.
The spaceship’s communicator rang, and Melancholic Prince opened his eyes in surprise.
“Brothers, someone anonymously sent us an employment task through the black market, with a remuneration of five million Enas! They are paying a deposit of a million in advance!”
Everyone gathered around in excitement.
“Such a big order! What are we waiting for? Let’s accept it!”
“What does the employer want us to do?”
Melancholic Prince glanced through the employment list, and he laughed.
“Haha, interesting, someone wishes to hire us to smuggle an infected node of the Virtual Mutiny Virus out of the Ancient Star Desert.”
Hearing this, everyone could not help but exchange glances.
They were also trapped within the Ancient Star Desert, so they were naturally aware of the danger of the Virtual Mutiny Virus as well as the scale of the three Universal Civilizations. Thus, they hesitated.
“President, is the risk too high? If we’re exposed, we will immediately become wanted men.”
Melancholic Prince waved his hand. “What are you scared of? This is five million Enas. There’s no reason not to risk our lives for it. Accept the mission.”
Everyone could only follow the order, but some of them had other thoughts and began to secretly think to themselves.
Their anonymous employer wanted them to perform this task mainly because they had taken a fancy to their identity as Immortals.
One could see that in the isolated Ancient Star Desert, undercurrents were surging.