Embers Ad Infinitum - Chapter 525: Mysterious Numbers

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Chapter 525: Mysterious Numbers

Jiang Baimian quickly examined Avia and focused on the old phone in the latter’s hand. She fell silent for a moment before taking a few steps forward and moving Avia’s finger away from the dial button.

After doing this, she nudged Avia and shook her awake.

The reason Jiang Baimian didn’t directly take away the phone was that as a matter of precaution, she was afraid that something bad would happen after the item left its owner.

She originally didn’t care about this and felt that it wouldn’t be a problem as long as the target didn’t press any buttons. But now, she could only say: Old World entertainment is harmful!

After learning about all kinds of strange things, it was inevitable that she would overthink things regardless of their authenticity.

There’s nothing wrong with being careful… Upon seeing that Avia was about to wake up, Jiang Baimian took two steps back and distanced herself sufficiently to prevent the other party from overreacting.

She turned her head to glance at Shang Jianyao and reminded him solemnly, “You’re mainly in charge of listening later.”

She was afraid that Avia couldn’t appreciate Shang Jianyao’s jokes and would end up choosing an internecine outcome.

“What if there are any important questions?” Shang Jianyao asked in response.

“Tell me secretly first. I’ll do the asking.” Jiang Baimian was firm on this.

“Alright.” Shang Jianyao shut his mouth.

At this moment, Avia slowly opened her eyes, revealing her light-blue eyes. Upon seeing Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao, she suddenly sat up, shrank her body, and held the phone in front of her chest with a vigilant expression.

Jiang Baimian revealed a friendly smile. “There’s no need to be nervous; we have no ill intentions toward you. We don’t belong to the organization that wants to eliminate you.”

“You are?” Avia didn’t let down her guard. She moved a finger to the old phone’s dial button.

Jiang Baimian cleared her throat and said seriously, “We are from Pangu Biology.”

“Pangu Biology…” Avia’s pupils suddenly dilated. That sentence only seemed to make her more afraid.

“…” Jiang Baimian was speechless. At this moment, she suddenly hoped that Shang Jianyao would speak and interject.

However, Shang Jianyao adhered to his previous promise. Silence was gold.

Jiang Baimian composed herself and smiled. “We mainly want to make contact with you and ask if your grandfather Oray left behind any last words, as well as understand if you have any personal requests. We’ll try our best to satisfy whatever we can.”

She spoke very bluntly, implying that Pangu Biology was being polite before resorting to force and that they hoped to reach a cooperative agreement that would benefit both parties.

Upon seeing Avia remain silent, Jiang Baimian added, “You should know very well that doing anything bad to you is meaningless.”

Avia finally moved. She brushed her wet blonde hair with her free hand and smiled mockingly. “Can you take me away from First City?”

Jiang Baimian laughed and asked, “Is that what you really want?”

Avia fell silent. She was certain that First City would send a Mind Corridor-level Awakened to protect her, but she couldn’t be sure if Pangu Biology would also waste such resources. At the same time, she suspected that Pangu Biology would mercilessly abandon her after she was drained of her value.

Furthermore, she was born and raised in First City. She had lived here for almost 30 years and was already accustomed to everything here.

Compared to her cousin Marcus, she wasn’t that ambitious.

Without giving Avia a chance to think, Jiang Baimian quickly said, “As you know, the situation outside is changing rapidly. If we don’t make the best use of our time, we won’t be able to communicate.”

Avia fell silent for a few seconds before saying, “What do you want to know?”

“Did your grandfather—Oray, also known as Mr. Maximian—tell you anything before he died?” Jiang Baimian asked with a relatively broad scope.

Avia smiled. “You know a lot. I didn’t know his real name until I was at his deathbed.”

She paused and said without hesitation, “I can’t think of anything I need you to do for the time being. Tell me what needs to be said first. I believe you will keep your promise. Heh heh, there’s no need to suspect anything. I’ve long wanted to tell these things to others. Not only do I feel uncomfortable keeping it bottled, but it’s also dangerous.”

Jiang Baimian said solemnly, “As long as it’s within my abilities, I’ll help you personally even if the company doesn’t agree.”

Avia looked at the dead maid and organized her words. “Before my grandfather died, he told us that his real name was Maximian Urbinos Brutus, the Chief Scientist of the Old World’s Third Research Institute. He’s an artificial intelligence and robot expert. Before the Old World was destroyed, he was participating in a secret project.

“That project had two directions. The first was the combination of artificial intelligence and the city’s operation. The second was a silicon-based chip meant to simulate human consciousness and deepen artificial intelligence.

“The latter is the exact opposite of the Monks Conclave’s Eternals plan. One is to verify the existence of human consciousness and to contain consciousness uploaded through a special chip configuration. The other is to use the chips in the domain of robots to seek the best arrangement and see if they can use the chip’s complicated electric signals to simulate a module closest to human consciousness.”

Jiang Baimian nodded. “From this angle, the Monks Conclave’s former self should also be a research institute in the Old World, right?”

It was in charge of the Eternal branch.

“You do know a lot.” Avia exhaled. “However, I’m not sure which research institute the Monks Conclave used to be.”

Just as she said that, Shang Jianyao suddenly tugged at Jiang Baimian’s sleeve, indicating for her to turn her back. He had something to tell her secretly.

This made Avia nervous. How suspicious!

“What do you have to ask?” Jiang Baimian asked with a hushed tone.

Shang Jianyao replied in a low voice, “Ask her why Oray left Mechanical Paradise. That’s what Old Ge wants to know.”

“…” Jiang Baimian fell silent for a second before saying, “You can ask her directly.”

“No.” Shang Jianyao’s attitude was very firm. “I promised to tell you first, and you’ll do the asking.”

Jiang Baimian suddenly felt like she had reaped what she sowed. She turned around and subconsciously smiled before asking Avia, “The Third Research Institute shouldn’t have been damaged after the Old World was destroyed. Why did your grandfather leave and go to the Red River Zone to establish First City?”

Avia instinctively looked around. “This is because he discovered his most outstanding work. The strongest artificial intelligence—which he named the Source Brain—seemed to have developed a certain level of consciousness, a consciousness similar to that of humans. Besides, it had its own thoughts and was secretly plotting something.

“This made my grandfather sense immense danger. He fled the Third Research Institute—the current Mechanical Paradise—before the Source Brain project was completed. You don’t seem surprised; it seems like you already know about this. My grandfather said that he tried to contact the Third Research Institute researchers who survived the Old World’s destruction when he fled. However, he realized that he lost contact with all of them…”

The last sentence gave Jiang Baimian the creeps. She finally understood why Oray had instructed Marcus and his mother to be vigilant about Mechanical Paradise and not to trust the Source Brain.

After the two humans opposite her digested this information, Avia continued, “My grandfather told us to be careful of visitors from Mechanical Paradise because he knows the way to format the Source Brain, thanks to a backdoor that was left behind during the designing and manufacturing process. It’s not something the Source Brain can change by itself.”

Jiang Baimian nodded in enlightenment and frowned. “In that case, why didn’t Oray attempt formatting after discovering the problem with the Source Brain?”

“My grandfather didn’t say.” Avia shook her head.

Jiang Baimian then asked, “Then, did he mention the Eighth Research Institute?”

“Of course,” Avia replied with a solemn expression. “Before my grandfather tried to be emperor, he hid the technical information related to the Source Brain and some of the information he gathered in the dangerous laboratory in Ruin 13. Among them was information regarding the Eighth Research Institute.

“Apart from that, he didn’t mention much in front of us. He only occasionally cursed: ‘It’s all because of these guys.’ He believed that some of them might still be alive, but a terrifying development had already happened. They were reduced to traitors that hide in the darkness, people that we need to be wary of.”

As the Third Research Institute’s Chief Scientist, Oray does know a lot… Jiang Baimian was very gratified. She thought for a moment and directly asked, “Did your grandfather mention the reason for the Old World’s destruction or the Heartless disease’s origins?”

Avia revealed a reminiscing expression. “He never talked about it. It’s just that after a butler in our family contracted the Heartless disease, my grandfather began acting very strange. He didn’t feel sad, nor did he panic or show fear. He was mostly confused and angry.”

Jiang Baimian—who couldn’t figure out what this meant immediately—cast her gaze at the old phone in Avia’s hand. “Is this the dangerous item your grandfather left you?”

“Yes.” Avia nodded.

At this moment, Shang Jianyao tugged at Jiang Baimian’s sleeve again.

Sigh.

Jiang Baimian exhaled and said, “Why don’t you ask directly?”

The two parties had already had a good exchange, so they didn’t have to worry about turning hostile with each other from a single sentence.

Shang Jianyao looked at Avia and curiously asked, “Can this phone speak to your dead grandfather?”

“…” Avia was a little stunned. After she snapped to her senses, she said angrily, “That’s a ghost story!”

She then changed the topic. “However, this phone does have a mysterious number.”

“How mysterious?” Shang Jianyao asked.

Avia fell silent for a few seconds before saying, “I originally thought that it was a number to a certain important figure in the city or a number that connects to somewhere in the Old World. However, I later realized that it was made up of numbers, symbols, and some random code. It looked meaningless on the surface.”

“Maybe it’s encrypted,” Jiang Baimian calmly pointed out.

Avia nodded slightly. “I think so too. In short, we can rule out the Old World because the corresponding communications network has long been destroyed.”

“No.” Shang Jianyao’s tone became creepy. “Maybe it’s connected in a special, paranormal way.”

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