Manager 03’s head slowly dropped from his palm, which was propping his cheek. As his head slipped down, he abruptly jerked awake.
He sucked the saliva back into his mouth and squinted at the data panel. His hair was as messy as a bird’s nest and his shirt, which hadn’t been changed in days, was wrinkled.
The countless indicators on the screen in front of him flashed regularly. He stared at the data for a period of time and saw that there was no problem.
Just as he had put his cheek on his palm again and closed his eyes with peace of mind, a phantom girl with silver hair and red eyes appeared next to him. Her expression was sullen, and she wore a gothic black dress. She smacked the fan she was holding onto Administrator 03’s head.
“Please, can you stop sleeping?!”
Administrator 03 let out a “Hey!” and covered his head. He forced his eyes open and said with a sigh, “Little ancestor, what’s up with you?”
Kether said, “Cui Zuojing and the others destroyed a box.”
Administrator 03 said, “Isn’t that just right? Even if they don’t do it, the box will be destroyed sooner or later.”
“That’s different! That person named Dong Zheng can hack into the kernel! The program was on auto mode at the time and a task force was dispatched to conduct an anti-virus investigation. But when I checked the situation, there was nothing! They’re gone!”
“You’re saying they invaded the crew?” Administrator 03 seemed to have heard something funny. “Impossible. Even if they destroyed the surface of the box and saw the program behind it, they still wouldn’t be able to find the entrance.”
“What if he could?”
“Even if he could, wouldn’t he be caught soon? Why are you so worried?” Manager 03 yawned. He waved his hands and put both of them on the keyboard. “Alright, I’ll check for you.”
Kether was finally reluctantly satisfied. She sat next to him and watched Administrator 03 start the anti-virus program. After a while, she said, “Our time has been backtracked, have you noticed?”
“Huh?” Administrator 3 didn’t even lift his head. “What?”
Kether said, “Cheriyu Nana failed to get the power of time. Cui Zuojing reversed time at the last moment and let it start all over again.”
Administrator 03 finally glanced at her and said, “Really? I didn’t pay attention. How did you find out?”
“Although he reversed time, my memory is still clear. It’s just that, at that time, I didn’t realize what was happening. When I noticed it, I immediately went and checked on Rose Church, but it had already been processed by the task force and turned into “food”?
Kether thought for a moment and said bitterly, “Damn it. Fortunately, I replaced a pathogen with a meme. Unfortunately, he even destroyed the memetic pathogen. As expected, I shouldn’t have believed in Cheriyu Nana, who clearly couldn’t handle this despite holding the power of chaos.”
Numerous electronic lights flashed across the massive underground unit, covering about 10 hectares of space. It would take nearly the whole day for the entire antivirus procedure to be carried out in full.
After activating the antivirus program, Administrator 03 leisurely sat down. Picking up a teacup, he said, “Little girl, don’t work yourself to death.”
Kether rolled her eyes and whispered, “What do you know?”
It was different for this dead administrator, who only knew how to eat all day long. Since the birth of her consciousness, Kether had been written as a program who can never betray. As a result, she was the Queen’s most trusted heir. Anyone could betray the Queen, except for Kether.
Machines were always more loyal than people.
When Chang Hui entered the back garden, the cold rain that always entangled her was finally pushed back by the Queen’s barrier.
She was finally able to put away the paper umbrella and no longer had to hold it over herself all the time.
Today was another garden meeting. The Queen and her heirs would sit at the long table in the garden, and the heirs would give their report on the situation and special events in each district. The Queen would then follow with instructions. This had been the case since the previous Queen was killed.
Chang Hui passed through the maze of plants and finally reached the center of the garden. Everyone else had already arrived. At the head of the table, the Queen’s expression was very bad. Chang Hui knew precisely what she was upset about and what she was afraid of.
All the heirs sat in their usual spot. From left to right sat Cheriyu Nana, Midnight, Chang Hui, Worm of Mystery, Kether, and Tang Ji.
The side of Cheriyu Nana and Tang Ji’s neck had the hidden marks carved by the Queen. Meanwhile, the marks on Midnight and Worm of Mystery existed in other forms. It was only Chang Hui and Kether who did not carry the Queen’s mark in any form.
After Cheriyi Nana pulled Cui Zuojing into the painting, Tang Ji immediately went to the box as planned to take Victor’s power of body. But Victor had already given all of his power to Dong Zheng to protect him. All Tang Ji had was a cat’s body that was gradually growing cold.
This was Cheriyu Nana’s first most important task as an heir, and she completely failed. However, the Queen did not blame her. Or more accurately, she did not blame her in front of everyone at the conference table.
“Me talking about it now can’t make up for what has already happened. I won’t punish you. But what I need everyone to do is to perform better.”
The Queen’s voice was soft, but everyone in the room knew that the softness was mere deception. No one dared to ignore a single word she said. “Now, even Kether couldn’t find their tracks. I even suspect that they may have used some method that we don’t know about to enter the garden.”
“I stopped them once in the past, but now they have the power of time, body and space, which far exceeded the power they had back then. This time, we must use all of our strength, and we must be cautious.”
As the queen’s words floated into her ears, Chang Hui looked at her rosy lips. Her eyes lowered, so that no one would notice the flash of mockery in them.
On her thin wrist, the silver bracelet engraved with the words “A Hundred Years Longevity” rested against her pale skin, seeming to herald some kind of destiny.
The sudden sharp look in the CPU’s eyes made Dong Zheng understand that he was right.
“Who are you?”
“We came in from the outside. In the Pure White Realm, we’re called pilgrims,” Dong Zheng said. “Please don’t panic. You and Kether are not on the same side. In fact, we’re looking for a way to resist her.”
The CPU looked at Dong Zheng, wanting to see traces of falsehood in his eyes, but there was none.
After a long time, the CPU finally spoke. Her voice was very soft and her tone of voice was very slow, as if she was saying something she didn’t want to say, “I was indeed locked up by her. You should know that the computer is composed of five components: controller, memory, input device, and output device. The central processing unit is the controller, which is an arithmetic unit that processes the data shared by memory. As a result, they both exist in a fixed location inside the computer. The Kether you mentioned is just the output device.”
“The output device?” Dong Zheng would have never guessed this truth. How could the almost omnipotent and ubiquitous Kether just be an output device?
“Yes, she is just an output device. She is not in charge of calculations at all. If she is, then she can only play a small role. It is Administrator 03 who is really responsible for manipulating the computer to issue commands.”
The CPU paused and continued, “And like everyone else, Kether has an independent personality and the ability to think. Her thinking can be carried outside the computer, so in the eyes of outsiders, she is the personification of a supercomputer. After being selected as the Queen’s heir, she completely imprisoned myself and Memory to ensure that we can only work day after day and cannot interfere with her.”
Dong Zheng asked, “That means she can only use the computer to calculate the problems she wants, and she can’t do more, right?”
“Yes, everything requires Administrator 03’s instructions, which will be carried out by me and Memory. Administrator 03 can be considered an input device.”
Cui Zuojing’s eyes widened. On the first pilgrimage that year, he thought he had figured out a lot of things. Had he always been wrong?
Dong Zheng thought about the CPU’s words. Since Kether was only an output device, and the real person in charge was the unseen Administrator 03, then their plan needed some alterations.
He asked, “Do you want to change this status quo?”
The CPU shook her head, “From our inception, we’ve been written as programs that can never betray. Sorry, I can not help you.”
“But you can provide us with some information,” Dong Zheng said. “Just minor ‘irrelevant’ information.”
When Dong Zheng and Cui Zuojing returned, Victor looked at them with questioning eyes. Cui Zuojing climbed onto the crawler’s back and stretched out his hand to pull Dong Zheng up.
In the huge bird cage behind them, the CPU let out a small sigh as she watched the crawler leave.
She didn’t know whether she did the right thing. Even the most advanced and smartest computer could not accurately judge the pros and cons of all their choices.
But she didn’t regret it.
The CPU picked up the envelope resting on her knee, and with a thought, it opened.
A note floated out. She unfolded it and saw its contents.
As they left the CPU, Cui Zuojing and Dong Zheng told everyone the news. These words seemed so fantastical. Kether was just originally an output device? Wasn’t that…something like the monitor and the audio device?
Cui Zuojing wrinkled his face and thought about what it would be like if his computer screen and audio device took over his computer. In the end, he had to give up thinking.
“I’ll send you out first. I’ll stay here and do the rest myself. When I’m done, we’ll meet up.” Dong Zheng briefly told them his plan.
Victor frowned and said, “It sounds very risky. Can you really succeed?”
“How can I know if I don’t try? If it doesn’t work, I have a backup plan. Don’t worry, don’t worry. Give Kether to me. You can just focus on dealing with the other heirs.”
Cui Zuojing gripped his hand. “I have faith in you.”
Dong Zheng gave him a smile. Cui Zuojing would always give him the most steadfast support when he needed it most.
“Come on. I’ll send you back first. The CPU gave us a new key.”
A string of pulsating numbers appeared on Dong Zheng’s palm. This was the highest level dynamic key, far more advance than the one Allen gave them. It was also much safer. Although the CPU didn’t say it clearly, Dong Zheng still inferred from her words that the coordinates corresponding to this key was the core area of the Pure White Realm—God’s Back Garden.
When Dong Zheng placed the digital string on the surface of the information superhighway, it slowly rose, pulling out the shape of a door. Within a few breaths, the door leading from within the computer to the outside world slowly unfolded.
Dong Zheng hugged his companions one by one. This place here would be his battlefield alone.
Dong Linhai hugged Dong Zheng hard. Suddenly, his nose was sour, making him want to cry. One day three years ago, he and Dong Zheng were involved in the same car accident and entered the Pure White Realm. In the first formal box they entered, Dong Zheng was seriously injured. In order to save him, he used the black-gold prisoner card to summon Cui Zuojing, who had just returned, and bound him to Dong Zheng with a blood contract.
This was his beginning.
In the past three years, he went from a silly and spoiled child to a truly reliable teammate worthy of his companions’ lives.
Dong Linhai’s voice was a little choked, “You must come back. Mom and Dad are still waiting for you.”
“Of course I will.” Dong Zheng touched Linhai’s head. When did his younger brother grow so fast and became this tall?
Cui Zuojing waited until the end, then he opened his arms and hugged Dong Zheng. Not caring that everyone else was still there, he gave Dong Zheng a quick kiss. They were almost never affectionate in front of others because Cui Zuojing often felt shy, especially with these teammates that he was so familiar with.
But now, he only wanted to kiss the man in front of him. Cui Zuojing buried his face in Dong Zheng’s shoulder, closed his eyes hard, and said a thousand words in his heart. In the end, they only converged into one sentence.
“You come back safely.”