Time-Limited Hunt

Time-Limited Hunt – Chapter 18 : System

January 31, 2021




WARNING

FOR FIRST CASE: NEMESIS’S BREAKFAST
Domestic abuse, rape/sexual assault, cannibalism, suicide.
(Mostly mentions and allusions; not so much graphic details.)
If this is a trigger/landmine for you, please stop reading now.

Yan Junxun opened the car door. The little orange dragon was still in restoration mode and so did not make an appearance. It lit up the red light at the top of the car and switched to an adorable voice, “Good evening, Mr. Yan. The automotive-mounted system is here at your service. We can slowly enjoy our time during the night drive…” 

Yan Junxun turned off the little orange dragon’s autopilot and asked, “Is Shi Shanyan staying at the dormitory of the Inspection Bureau?” 

“Mr. Shi’s status is special.” The little orange dragon’s reaction was nowhere as fast as it used to be. It needed an interval of a few seconds before it could answer the questions. “He’s staying at the Inspection Bureau’s partitioned zone.”   

Yan Junxun knew this place. Before the war, it was a mental asylum in Tingbo District. 

“Start the navigation.” Yan Junxun turned the steering wheel. “Use the fastest route.” 

◈     ◈     ◈

Tingbo District was now a hub for large ships transporting natural resources, and the transportation of supplies to the frontlines of the Alliance during the war all had to pass through here, with the light rail playing a huge role. The Inspection Bureau’s partitioned zone was established during that time for the specific purpose of receiving military personnel. After the war, the key military personnel pulled out from Tingbo District. The Inspection Bureau partitioned zone was left empty, and the Inspection Bureau never carried out any reconstruction to the place. 

It was at Fu Chenghui’s suggestion that Jiang Lian put Shi Shanyan up here. This place seemed as if no one was living here, but in truth, there was a group of official systems from Tingbo District staying here. In addition to their daily work, they maintained firm control over the building complexes of the entire district. Any movements within the partitioned zone would not escape their surveillance cameras. 

This area was a replica of Guangtong Prison Zone 01, except that the subject all the systems were to monitor was Shi Shanyan. 

Shi Shanyan had been under constant surveillance for way too long; he was already familiar with these “eyes”. When he bathed, the frosted glass could only cover the spot from his abdomen to his thighs. The rest of his body lay exposed to the systems’ surveillance cameras. The systems would do a data verification every ten seconds to ensure that the person standing before the cameras was Shi Shanyan himself. 

Shi Shanyan brushed up his hair under the showerhead to reveal his forehead. Under the rush of cold water, he gazed right at the surveillance camera on the other side of the glass and bared a not-very-friendly smile at it. “I’m going to jerk myself off~” 

The center of the system surveillance camera lit up with a red dot, and it answered expressionlessly, “Counting down to sixty seconds. Requesting serial no. 01AE86 to resolve your physiological need as soon as possible.”

Shi Shanyan did not care about its answer. Standing in the pillar of water, he turned around with his face to the wall. The muscles all over his body were firm and sturdy. Contours that rippled with explosive power edged down along his back to his calves, all of them very well-maintained. He raised a hand to touch the underside of his pectoral muscle, where his original serial number from his time with the Black Panther was tattooed. Only this time, he had taken the liberty of adding a few horizontal lines on it, making a mess of the tattoo.

There was a chip used for data positioning inside here. 

Shi Shanyuan felt that there were still Black Panther chips in other parts of his own body, only that he was not sure of their locations at present. When he thought to this point, he could not help but close his eyes. 

Yan Junxun has one too, hasn’t he? 

It must be really exhilarating to leave a mark on Yan Junxun’s body. 

That delicate, tender skin looked as though it had never experienced the ravages of the elements. It was so fair that it made one’s heart swell with emotions. When he had his serial number tattooed, he must have had frowned, with a tinge of impatience in his eyes. If someone had dared to grab hold of his face in his moment of pain, they would be able to see the tear mole adorning the outer corner of his eye. It would be even better if he were to be unhappy about it. Shi Shanyan liked his expressions when he was unhappy. 

The water from the nozzle suddenly stopped.

The system said, “Time’s up. Requesting serial no. 01AE86 to return to your room.”

Shi Shanyan shook off the water droplets in his hair and pulled over the bath towel and towel. He stepped out of the shower. The water on the upper half of his body had not been wiped clean, but he did not care. He did not even bother to brush aside the hair that was blocking his eyes. He pushed open the door and walked down the dark, empty corridor. 

There was only Shi Shanyan staying alone in the partitioned zone. His room was at the end of the hallway. If the systems had not been so strict, Shi Shanyan would have changed to a different room every day. He was an enthusiast when it came to seeking joy, even if these rooms were no different from the room he had stayed in at Guangtong Prison. 

The system did a verification before Shi Shanyan entered the room. He walked into the room. There was only a single bed in this room; it did not even have a table and chair. Shi Shanyan sat at the edge of the bed to wipe his hair when he heard the communicator-navigator ring. 

Five seconds later, the communicator-navigator automatically connected. 
Lianyin @ CangJi.NET
“Daily inquiry.” Su Heting was pulling an all-nighter playing games. “Is big bro still alive?” 

“To answer my trashy younger bro.” With the towel over his head, Shi Shanyan answered, “Big bro is still alive and well.’ 

“That’s a shame.” Su Heting’s fingers never once stopped their intense combat as he glared at the screen with rapt attention. “I thought someone would off you.” 

“Who would come?” Shi Shanyan raised his head slightly, his eyes looking abnormally dangerous under his black hair. “If they make their way here, they will still end up getting eaten by me.”   

“You shielded Yan Junxun from the camera. The other party is pretty pissed. As revenge, he published your photo.” At this point, Su Heting’s tone lifted in delight, as if he had passed the stage in his game. “But his speed of gathering information sucks. Before he could find detailed information about you, we locked him out.” 

Shi Shanyan uttered an “uh-huh” in response.  

Su Heting slowed down his hand movements and said, “But as you know, Fu Chenghui is sick in the head. Perhaps someday when you completely fall out with each other, he will toss all your past mission details into the Alliance’s ‘blackearth’. By then, no one can save you.”   

“Blackearth” was a post-war forum for special forces members of the Northern and Southern Fronts to “make friends”. The feuds they had with each other during the war were still unresolved. Even if they did not hunt down their targets, they would still trash-talk each other here. Shi Shanyan’s Black Panther serial number was, to this date, confidential. His mission data were all under lock in Fu Chenghui’s hands. But according to Black Panther’s 2160 to 2162 mission appraisals, the missions he had completed during these two years were all closely related to the war between the north and south.

”He won’t do that.” Shi Shanyan pulled off the towel. “Do you know why you can only rank sixth on the test?” 

“Because I’m just as cute as the common person.” Su Heting replied simply. 

“Because you look like you’re dim-witted.” Shi Shanyan picked up the communicator-navigator on the bed and brought it closer to the side of his mouth. “Don’t you think that Fu Chenghui is more like a system than the system? He won’t do such a thing. He would lose out too much. He still wants to fight his way into a beautiful victory with the trump cards that are us in his hands. I don’t care who takes away my mission data, and I don’t care who has seen it before either. It doesn’t matter. All I want to know now is all of Yan Junxun’s data when he was in Black Panther. I want this. You get me?” 

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Su Heting brought his fingers that had been gaming to a stop. “Yan Junxun is not the same as you and me. Heck, he’s not the same as all the Black Panther members. His serial number is 001, but his mission records have never been updated on Black Panther’s official website before. I hacked into Fu Chenghui’s indoor system for a tour and discovered that he had added three safety bars to Yan Junxun’s data.” 

“So, you know something.” Shi Shanyan lowered his voice in the darkness. “And it’s not just his birthday.” 

Serial no. 7-001. Full name: Yan Junxun. Height: 175cm,. Weight: 62kg. Passed the Black Panther test and joined the Special Forces in 2163. Expelled from the unit in 2164. Described in the Special Forces’ mission appraisal as having poor overall capability with the inability to adapt to dangerous missions and a lack of destructive power.” Su Heting recited that paragraph of information. “This is the easiest information to find out at the moment. If you want to know more, please transfer the money into my account.” 

Shi Shanyan said, “Go die.” 

“Checking for information is dangerous too, okay?” Su Heting looked at the communicator-navigator. “You’re interested in him, so you gotta pay. And by the way, just an alert that Yan Junxun is on his way to you.” 

“Take it out of my account yourself.” Shi Shanyan licked his canine teeth. “Spit it out now.” 

“Yan Junxun’s data is sealed together with the system Artemis. Fu Chenghui didn’t undo Artemis’s defense algorithms too.” Su Heting slided the screen. “As the daughter of the system ‘Zeus’, Artemis has an outstanding and prominent character among the ‘twelve main systems’. At first, it was used for data tracking like the other systems. But strangely enough, after a period of time, the twelve main systems’ data-logging unit stopped updating information relating to Artemis. I don’t know what happened, but in any case, Artemis became a teaching system. It taught Yan Junxun before. And it kept the content of the teaching confidential and told no one.” 

“Yan Junxun got a perfect score in the written examination of the Black Panther test. I suspect that he may be emotionally deficient. The earliest system teaching experiments within the Alliance showed that this kind of isolated children who were kept away from people all had problems. They had difficulty adapting to human life, having already been  accustomed to quiet, enclosed and isolated spaces. The mission appraisals won’t lie. What it said about Yan Junxun having poor overall capability with the inability to adapt to dangerous missions should be true. But destructive power is subjective. I’m more inclined to think that his own self-restraint was what limited him from unleashing his full potential. He’s a lot like the twelve main systems in that he has a strong sense of self-vigilance.”

Once Su Heting was done speaking, he bit down on the straw and sucked away at the iced cola noisily. 

“This is what you’re lacking. You know nothing of self-restraint at all. Fu Chenghui probably wanted him to teach you.” 

“Was Artemis really written off?” Shi Shanyan brushed aside the hair before his eyes. “These systems cost the Alliance a hell lot of money. Fu Chenghui won’t bear to see that happen.” 

“Depends on how you want to interpret it.” Su Heting watched the dot of light that represented Yan Junxun stop at the partitioned zone. “Theoretically, Artemis has indeed been written off. But I discovered that the system vulnerabilities of Yan Junxun’s system that had been attacked had been successfully patched. That ‘Jue’ isn’t capable to that extent. This is Artemis’s protection data. It’s protection of Yan Junxun has already exceeded the average setting range. It’s more like…” Su Heting searched for an accurate description. “… it came from the heart.” 

This statement turned the atmosphere weird. 

The twelve main systems were extensions from the earliest human creation of “Zeus”. They had great computing power, but they were not human beings after all, so they did not possess their own emotions. Their “heart” was simply a huge data collection database; they only knew how to use data filtering to respond to humans’ expectations.  

“Consultation time is over. Your guest has already arrived at the entrance.” As Su Heting spoke, he opened Shi Shanyan’s account. “…. Damn you, you have no money at all!” 

“Thanks.” Shi Shanyan hung up the communicator with satisfaction. 

Yan Junxun had just gone through the system verification. But before he could knock, the door opened, and Shi Shanyan blocked off Yan Junxun’s vision. 

“I’m looking for the communicator.” Yan Junxun tilted his head up a little before he could get past Shi Shanyan’s exposed chest. “Call Jiang Lian. Hurry up.” 

“I forgot where I threw it.” Shi Shanyan liked this angle. Who wouldn’t like Yan Junxun to look up at him? He said with deliberation, “Come in and look for it yourself.”




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