Everyone was hoping the crowd under Zero's control would advance a little slower. That way, there would be enough time to think of countermeasures and organize a retreat.

But in the face of the artificial intelligence, time would always be insufficient.

Just as when Ren Xiaosu had gone to the Central Plains to save Luo Lan, Zero accurately calculated how long it would take him to ensure that he would not get there in time.

In fact, it only took an instant for Zero to calculate all of this.

Previously, Zero's calculations were all limited by the hardware specifications of its server setup. But now, it relied on tens of millions of human brains.

What was the computing power of the human brain?

In a manor halfway up Mt. Ginkgo, Luo Lan, who had already returned to the Qing Consortium, sat down next to Qing Zhen and muttered, "In my opinion, could the AI not be as powerful as we think? Look, I'm usually not even good at doing double-digit multiplication. If the AI were to control someone like me, wouldn't it be digging its own grave? After all, no matter how many people it controls, it would be useless if 99% of them aren't smart."

Qing Zhen laughed and shook his head. "Sounds quite logical when you put it that way."

But in fact, the potential of the human brain had been underestimated. Humans were unable to perform large mathematical calculations not because the brain was unable to, but because they could not tap into the potential of their brains.

There were about 14 billion neurons in the brain's cerebral cortex, each performing its own functions. It was already very incredible that a normal person could remember an average of 86 million pieces of information a day.

The scents humans smelled, the projections they saw, and the objects they touched were all made up of countless sensory information. Meanwhile, the human brain had to combine all of this to form a "logic."

The information in this world perceived by humans was far more complicated than doing double-digit multiplication.

When relying on servers and computers, humans often encountered situations such as memory overload, insufficient processing precision, and so on. In fact, the systems could even crash at any moment.

But humans rarely crashed due to such reasons. When they encountered extreme fear and shock, the human brain would directly issue an order to induce syncope to ease the stress. But while in a state of syncope, the human body's functions would still remain in a relatively normal state to sustain life.

Mental illnesses also occurred in humans, but the probability of irreversible mental illnesses in humans was much lower than the probability of a machine's system crashing or blue screening.

Therefore, when the human brain, which held great potential, became the artificial intelligence's server medium, its computing power did not become riddled with bugs. Instead, it became even more powerful.

However, Qing Zhen, who had experience studying nanomachines, wondered how these servers were linked together if the controlled humans had become the medium for Zero's server as Luo Lan claimed.

Although Zero controlled the communication rights of the entire Central Plains by controlling the known satellites in the Alliance of Strongholds, satellite technology was not as reliable as one would imagine. Moreover, the satellites themselves did not have the bandwidth to process communications between the tens of millions of "servers."

Luo Lan frowned and asked, "Then could there be a mobile server within the crowd responsible for linking up all the nanomachines? If we destroy that, wouldn't the AI no longer be able to control so many people?"

Qing Zhen shook his head and said, "I don't know, and there's no way to find that out either. Conservatively speaking, the number of people controlled by the AI this time should be around 18 million. You should also be able to appreciate the size of that. We don't have enough manpower to seek out a needle in a haystack like that. If we really did that, we would still face failure even if we gambled the strength of the entire Southwest and Northwest. Or perhaps the AI is just waiting for us to do that. So, we should continue with our own plan."

Luo Lan suddenly asked, "What are our chances of winning?"

Qing Zhen thought for a moment. "30%."

"When Qing Yi asked you last time, you said it was only 10%." Luo Lan wondered, "Why is it that our chances of winning have increased when the situation has become even worse?"

Qing Zhen glanced at Luo Lan. He sat in the "black lake" in the main hall of Ginkgo Manor and said, "Third Bro can't die in vain. I have to make his sacrifice worth it."

As he spoke, Qing Zhen put the stones on the Go board in front of him into the wooden bowl.

It was no longer useful to discuss Go matches. The only game he needed to play was the one that required him to fight to the death.

Next to him, Luo Lan asked, "Can Qing Yi handle the front line? Why don't Xu Man and I head over there as well?"

Qing Zhen shook his head. "There's no need for that. The two of you will come with me."

The Qing Consortium's Three Mountains defensive line lay ahead of Stronghold 111. Each of the mountain ranges served as a defensive support point to watch each others' backs and completely sealed off the path leading westwards.

There were more than a dozen outposts scattered farther beyond the Three Mountains defensive line.

Their locations were known as the far side of the moon to the Qing Consortium's troops.

Some people said the Earth-Moon orbital system evolved over a long period and eventually reached a state of equilibrium.

In fact, no one could really explain why only one side of the moon always faced Earth. If humans did not rely on technology, they would never be able to see what the dark of the moon looked like.

The time taken for the moon to orbit around the Earth was 27.32166 days. During these 27.32166 days, its phases went from full moon to half moon and back to full moon again.

However, the reason the Qing Consortium called those outposts the far side of the moon was because they were located at forsaken places. Even the troops who were sent there knew they had been forsaken.

There were only two things left for them to do with the remainder of their lives. When the enemy arrived at the forward operating base, the soldiers at the outposts would report that back to the rear and take up their weapons.

In an open area in the southwestern forest, there were about eight modestly built wooden houses. There were 120 soldiers living in these wooden houses, and they were all from a company of the Qing Consortium.

The wooden houses were interspersed with narrow pathways between them.

There were simple sandbag defensive fortifications built around the wooden houses, and four soldiers stood guard behind them. Even if it was raining or gusting, they would still have to hold their positions.

Meanwhile, someone had carved a small line of words on the door of the largest wooden house: "Welcome to the far side of the moon."

This was a form of self-ridicule when faced with no other choice. It was also the dark humor humans resorted to when faced with suffering.

At this moment, the rest of the outpost soldiers who were not on rotational duty were sleeping in their wooden houses or reading newspapers and magazines. Only the company commander and signaler were waiting by the radio set.

There were also a few people gathered around playing poker, using cigarettes as their stakes.

Everyone might look rather calm, but in fact, their fingers were trembling slightly as they held onto their cigarettes.

Very few people could remain absolutely calm in the face of danger.

Even these elites of the Qing Consortium were no exception. When they started experiencing constipation and becoming easily irritable, the emotional burden would affect their physical bodies and show.

Being willing to face danger did not mean they were not afraid to.

Suddenly, someone accidentally knocked over a cup of water. There was a brief silence in the wooden house before everyone burst out laughing again. "Kid, are you so scared that you nearly peed your pants? You can't even hold your cup?"

At this moment, the company commander stood up and said to everyone, "All of you, I'm sorry. It was down to my bad luck that everyone had to come and die with me."

The companies that were sent to the outposts were not explicitly ordered but decided by a drawing of lots.

Before they drew lots, the brigade commander had made it very clear that these outposts would not need to wait for reinforcements to arrive. If they could not get any reinforcements, the only ending would be death.

In the end, the 313th Company of the 3rd Infantry Brigade drew one of the lots.

From the moment he drew this death lot, the company commander rarely spoke again. That was because he had sealed the fate of his entire company's soldiers.

None of the soldiers blamed him for it, but it was precisely because they didn't blame him that it made him feel even more guilty.

A sergeant said with a laugh, "Someone has to come out here no matter what. It was either going to be us or someone else. Besides, we might not necessarily survive until we win the war even if we were based at the Three Mountains defensive line, right?"

Another person muttered, "Alright, there's no need for you guys to speak up for Company Commander. That fella's luck has always been terrible. When he played Three-card Brag, he could even fucking encounter three Aces while holding three Kings, and he even encountered a '235'[1] when he got a trio of Aces. Yet you dared to let someone like him draw lots?! I said to get Deputy Company Commander to represent us, but y'all just wouldn't listen."

"Hahaha, it's true that Company Commander's luck is rotten. We should have gotten Deputy Company Commander to draw the lots at that time."

"That's right, Company Commander. If you really feel guilty, why don't you perform a hula dance for us?"

The company commander mocked, "I'll dance on your mother's lap!"

With this bantering, the atmosphere became a little more relaxed.

At a time like this, it would be a lie to say they were not afraid. All they could do was make themselves look braver.




Three warning shots rang out outside the wooden house. Immediately after, the soldiers on rotational duty suddenly roared, "We're under attack!"

The company commander's expression changed. He turned around and picked up the radio set and simply reported, "The enemy has arrived."

After saying that, he disconnected and picked up his gun.

The soldiers looked at the company commander in silence. The company commander took a deep breath and said, "I don't think we'll have a chance to drink together after the war. If we really end up in the underworld, we can make a toast with Granny Meng's soup.[2] Remember, don't disgrace the 313th Company. We're soldiers!"

A message from weirdo and Legge:

Thank you all for being such patient readers in this tale of Ren Xiaosu. It has been fun translating and reading your comments, and I hope the quality was up to expectations. Every word chosen, and every character's motivations were analyzed to reconcile possible "out of character" behavior. It is my belief that translations should bring across the author's intended message in its most original form.

I know I took a long time clearing up at the end, but I know you'll understand. Yes, we're really reaching the end. My thoughts are that The Speaking Pork Trotter had planned out the story very well, and most side characters were not forgotten. Their backstories also endeared to me as I translated their parts. My personal favorite has to be P5092, depicting how everyone has two sides to them. Sometimes, you just can't judge a person if you don't understand their motivations. Who can forget Hu Xiaobai and Wang Yuexi, two side characters who aren't extraordinary in strength but made a difference in the Prosperous Northwest goal. Zero's story affected me pretty deeply as well.

If you're feeling empty after this, do check out my other translated work: I'm Really a Superstar on Webnovel. (disclaimer: the story might not be for everyone)

Alternatively, you can support me on patreon/legge if you like and appreciate the work I've done.

Also, please check out weirdo's work by searching @ wxw "the grandmaster strategist". He has been a great editor, and I often consult him when parts of the story did not add up.

Thank you, :')

-translator, Legge

Thanks for sticking with us for so long, and I hope you enjoyed the story!

-editor, weirdo

Video resources for The First Order:




In the night.

Ear-piercing alarms blared everywhere along the Three Mountains defensive line. Behind the solid defensive bunkers, when the troops filled the trenches, it was as though water had started rushing into a dry river channel.

The crisscrossed trenches were filled up by the Qing Consortium's troops in just 30 minutes.

The crux of the outposts' efforts to delay the enemy was fully down to these short 30 minutes.

Beyond the defensive line was an endless forest stretching infinitely into the darkness of the night.

Through night vision goggles, the entire world turned to a shade of dark green. The soldiers gripped their guns tightly. Some of them were sweating profusely as they grabbed a handful of soil at the edge of the trenches to keep their hands dry.

For an extremely complex defensive line in the mountain ranges like this, if the enemy did not have the ability to aerial scout, its artillery troops couldn't confirm which trenches held the Qing Consortium's main forces since it could not be assessed from the outside.

Qing Yi stood at the entrance of the command tent. From time to time, birds would fly past in the sky as soldiers at the defensive position attempted to use huge spotlights to track them. However, the speed at which the spotlights could be swiveled could not compare to the speed of the birds' flight.

Everyone could only deduce that the birds flying in the sky were watching the ground. Not only were there sparrows among them but other more terrifying apex aerial predators as well.

Goshawks, sparrowhawks, and rufous-bellied eagles were all far more aggressive than sparrows.

Qing Yi sighed in his head. They did not even know how the artificial intelligence managed to gain control of these birds.

Gunshots finally rang out at the front of the Three Mountains defensive line. The gunfight lit up the night sky like lightning behind rain clouds. It was just noticeable.

However, the sea of people who were expected to arrive like a black tide did not appear. The artificial intelligence did not drive the humans under its control to directly overwhelm the Three Mountains defensive line.

A staff officer reported to Qing Yi, "Position 17 has been attacked. Many of the enemy's snipers are hiding out of sight and getting extremely accurate shots on us. But they've only launched a minor sneak attack so far. The enemy still hasn't launched into a full-scale attack yet."

Qing Yi frowned. "Snipers? How many snipers?"

"I'm afraid there's dozens of them." The combat staff officer answered, "Moreover, the enemy attempted firing long-range mortars and accurately hit one of our Mountain Obliterator machine gun positions…. Sir, the enemy's mortars are even beyond our elevated positions' observation range."

Their elevated positions' observation range was five kilometers, while the Wang Consortium's 60.75 mm mortars had a maximum firing range of 5.5 kilometers. Therefore, if the mortars were located just beyond observation range, it meant the enemy could easily attack any target it wanted to from an extreme range.

As the artificial intelligence-controlled crowd was traveling on foot through the southwestern forest, mortars seemed to be the most cost-effective long-range heavy firepower they could carry.

After all, a mortar together with its sight, bipod, and base-plate only weighed 22.5 kilograms, while a mortar shell weighed 2.18 kilograms. This load was enough to be carried by humans.

The combat staff officer said, "But they did not increase their firepower after the short exchange of gunfire."

The attack tonight was more like a probe or an experiment.

Qing Yi suddenly felt like a wise commander was standing opposite and playing Go with him.

However, the other party's chips were "soldiers" whose individual combat capabilities were even better than the Qing Consortium's troops. It even had an aerial view of the battlefield.

"What's it trying to do?" Qing Yi looked up at the night sky and pondered.

It clearly would only take a few dozen hours for several million people to overwhelm the Three Mountains defensive line with their numbers, but the other party still resorted to fighting the battle with such exemplary methods.

It did not act rashly or attack recklessly. It seemed like the other party was trying to take out the Three Mountains defensive line with the least amount of losses.

[1] '235' of different suits has a lower probability than a three of a kind and can only win against three of a kind.

[2] Meng Po is the goddess of forgetfulness in Chinese mythology, who serves Meng Po Soup on the Bridge of Forgetfulness or Naihe Bridge. This soup wipes the memory of the person so they can reincarnate into the next life without the burdens of the previous life. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meng_Po