Chapter 16 - A Promise for the Next Life

Astrolabe Rebirth


I’ll take Feiluo’s place in carrying out his mission."


Content Warning:
graphic depictions of gore (surgery related)

Translator(s): moon
Editor(s): jelly, namio

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In the rubbish chute, A-Ka once again stood at the exit with Heishi. Just as they were about to leave, Heishi couldn’t resist turning his head back for a glance. In the distance, the him of the past was currently walking on the beach, following A-Ka’s footsteps.

“Go back --” the A-Ka of the past shouted towards him before waving his arms, indicating that Heishi should return to where he had been hiding.

Heishi smiled at that, and he and the present A-Ka clambered into the rubbish chute.

“There’s still two hours and thirty minutes,” A-Ka said. “Quick, we need to make haste.”

A-Ka brought him to the rubbish chute through the opening they used to replenish fuel. There was a narrow, twisting pipeline, and at the other end, it led to the energy supply center for the entire City of Machines. Half an hour later, they arrived at a huge, icy cold boiler, which was what the human district used for heating.

“Heishi, are you still alright?” A-Ka asked.

Heishi came back to himself and nodded.

“That sentence of Father’s… what did that mean?” A-Ka asked. “Unless it was ‘Father’ who released you in the first place?”

Heishi answered, “In Labere’s central region, he wrote down a control sequence. The motive of his wandering the universe was to, through experiments, recreate the splendor of his homeland. On this point, humankind is the closest existence to the creators.”

“He watched the destruction of his hometown with his own eyes and because he was afraid that that tragedy would play out once again, he let the central control region cleanse the Astrolabe when necessary and stop the experiment. But, he still held sympathy in his heart, so in ‘Father’’s central region, he wrote down the code to awaken me. When the intelligent lifeforms on the Astrolabe have evolved to a point where they have… emotions, desolation, and hope, they’d be just like the giants on my heavenly father’s home planet. These lifeforms would activate this section of hidden code.”

“What does that do?” A-Ka asked.

“After this section of code is activated, it would take remote control of my sleeping chamber and bring it to land,” Heishi said. “It would then allow me to wake and assist ‘Father’ in determining if the experiment on the Astrolabe is worth preserving. But I imagine, even ‘Father’ doesn’t know about the code that was hidden in its central section, so… waking me was not its original idea.”

A-Ka understood. They were passing through the energy pipeline. The space inside was narrow and cramped, so the two of them could only press their arms against the ground as they shimmied along. A-Ka turned his head back. “‘Father’ actually has this section of code? I never knew.”

“It can only be activated under a specific set of circumstances,” Heishi replied in the gloomy, dark passage. “I imagine that it probably mirrored my heavenly father’s emotional state. When he wrote down this code that depended on emotions, he was probably feeling lonely, because he needed the companionship of his own kind.”

“If he is still in this world…”

“Keep going,” Heishi said. “There’s not much time left, we’ve got to use it well.”

A-Ka clambered along the passage, and at the end he turned. Heishi’s voice echoed from the depths of the passage behind him.

“Perhaps he has already died,” Heishi replied.

“He’s already died,” a rich voice echoed through the pipe.

A-Ka immediately jerked his head up, and Heishi’s face changed instantly. “A-Ka! Watch out!”

In that instant, the passageway that had been left abandoned for decades was filled with blue light. An earth-shaking explosion happened behind him, and the displaced air rushed towards them as the entire City of Machines began to echo with sirens.

“Damn,” Heishi said coldly, before shouting angrily, “A-Ka --!”

“I have already searched for your tracks for too long,” that rich voice said. “If you hadn’t activated the communication signal from the survival cradle, then perhaps I would still have no way to discover your whereabouts…”

Heishi was blown by the force of the explosion into an empty space underground, and he struggled to lift his body. Metal slabs slid down to block off the exits in all directions. His head was covered in fresh blood as he managed to shakily rise to his feet, saying darkly, “Labere, you’ve betrayed our heavenly father.”

“Father has already disappeared into the depths of the universe on his travels. A thousand years ago, he stopped sending back his fixed-interval signals. According to the determination of the main program, the Creator of the Astrolabe has already perished in the galaxy. And now, I hold ultimate control over the Astrolabe petri dish.”

“As expected…” Heishi said, panting for breath. “They’ve still managed to evolve. Labere, have the humans been unable to influence you…”

Just as that forceful voice was about to speak again, Heishi let out an angered roar instead before rising into the air, his body glowing with piercing light as his arms stretched out, one to each side. In that instant, a strange black-gold aura appeared around his body, and he exploded with powerful energy that collided into Father’s energy shockwave!

Suddenly, the structures in the depths of the energy pipeline were all destroyed by the shockwave. A beam of black-gold brilliance sped back along the pipeline, rushing towards ‘Father’ towering majestically above. Right after, a muffled boom came from afar, and the aftershocks of the explosion caused the surface of the earth to tremble. The entrance to the energy pipeline had been destroyed.

A-Ka woke to those quakes.

“Heishi? Heishi!” A-Ka, still bleeding profusely from his head wounds, searched everywhere, but everything was pitch dark in that collapsed underground, to the point where if he reached his hand out, he couldn’t see his fingers.

“I’m here, can you hear me?” Heishi asked anxiously. “A-Ka! Are you alright? A-Ka!”

A-Ka was still in shock, and it wasn’t until he heard Heishi’s voice that he finally grew calm. He followed the voice and the light, only to find Heishi with one hand trapped under a steel structure, tugging viciously at it as he let out loud shouts.

“Don’t use brute force!” A-Ka’s expression instantly changed. “Let’s think of a way to lift it!”

Heishi’s head and body were all covered with fresh blood, and the two of them were separated by a huge elevator. A-Ka did his best to squeeze his hand through a gap, his fingers just managing to make contact with Heishi’s nose and lips.

“Calm… calm down,” A-Ka said, his voice trembling. “How are you? Does it hurt?”

Heishi recovered his composure, and he said, “Labere has found us. I’ve managed to break its energy pipeline, but we have to leave immediately. There will be robots coming very soon.”

A-Ka responded, “Let me think a bit. Don’t act rashly, there will be a way.”

A-Ka took a deep breath, his fingers trembling non-stop as he indicated that Heishi wait, and pulled out some tools from the bag he carried at his side. Heishi however, gritted his teeth and tried to lift that elevator, but it was really too heavy. What was even more damning was that on top of the elevator were piles of huge rocks and concrete slabs of the entire living region after it had collapsed.

He only had a small toolbox in his bag. Heishi glanced at A-Ka, before saying, “Hand the saw over to me, I’ll cut my hand off.”

“No way, let me think a little more,” A-Ka said.

“I’ll treat it after we get back,” Heishi said.

“There’s no way to perform an arm transplant on you!” A-Ka said. “You’re not the same as the clones.”

“You can also install a mechanical arm instead, it makes no difference to me,” Heishi said. “You can even personally make one for me. Quickly now.”

“No!” A-Ka said. “It’ll hurt too much! There must be a way.”

“Pain is also another experience I have to learn in order to become a human,” Heishi responded.

“But if it’s possible, I hope that you never have to experience these…” A-Ka replied, sighing. He didn’t even lift his head as he spoke, still digging through his bag, before he suddenly found that remote control.

He held his breath and pressed a button on the remote.

Heishi’s eyebrows moved, and A-Ka explained, “I’m letting K fly over to rescue us.”

Heishi said, “It can’t make it here.”

“It will definitely be able to…” A-Ka said as he prayed silently, but as time flowed by, drop by drop, there was no movement, and the two of them stared silently at each other.

In the darkness, Heishi said, “A-Ka.”

“What?” A-Ka asked, puzzled.

“Give me your hand.” Heishi replied.

A-Ka reached a hand into the darkness, clasping Heishi’s warm one. Heishi’s hand was covered in sticky, drying blood, but they still held each other’s hand tightly. In that moment, A-Ka’s heart was suddenly filled with warmth and strength, and it was just at this time that the sound of an engine approached from a distance, beginning to strike at the wall.

“K --!” A-Ka’s face was streaked with tears as he began to shout loudly.

There was nothing that could compare with the joy that he felt in seeing K in this moment. K’s rust-mottled body was the same as it had been before, and it slammed harshly into the wall, letting out a huge boom.

“Make it use more force!” Heishi called loudly.

A-Ka clambered onto K’s body and slid into the cabin. Taking a firm stance, it lifted its arms and pushed up on the elevator. Heishi suddenly let out a loud shout; at the same time, the gears in K’s arms began to torque, letting out an ear-piercing screech. The elevator was pushed upwards and away with a loud boom, and Heishi immediately pulled out his arm.

There was another explosion. The Revolution of the Clones had begun.

Ash floated down from overhead. They looked up at that, and Heishi said, “Leave now through the emergency escape passage! We’ll meet up again on the surface!”

“How about you?!” A-Ka shouted.

“I’ll go draw away our pursuers! They’re going to arrive any minute now!” Heishi shouted, before closing the door of the cabin and knocking on it. A-Ka said, “You must...”

Before he could finish, the ceiling of the underground space once again collapsed as the robots entered. But this time, the robots didn’t do a sweep with bullets, instead pulling out countless magnetic nets to pull them in. Heishi leapt up, pulling out his black-gold blade, slicing one in midair that then exploded in the blink of an eye. A-Ka didn’t have the chance to keep talking as he rushed into the emergency exit.

K’s propellers were turned up to the maximum, and as it rushed forward in the passage, it let out a deafening rumble.

Heishi, with the guards chasing after him, escaped into the depths of another passageway. He found an elevator shaft that led to the surface, and he clambered up to the fifth level.

This was a prison, and the inside was completely dark. The power source had been cut, but A-Ka’s voice immediately began to shout. Heishi startled at that, before he suddenly realized that he had already returned to the fifth level, the cell that he and A-Ka had been imprisoned in!

The moment the last lasers disappeared, Heishi took this opportunity to grab the A-Ka of the past who was sprinting out of the cell! With a stagger, A-Ka slammed solidly into his embrace, shouting in a panic, “Let go of me!”

Heishi didn’t dare to say more, afraid that A-Ka would recognize him. He only responded with a garbled sound, before using his body to shield A-Ka, making him stand to one side.

A-Ka: “This way! Heishi? Come with me!”

They turned and ran towards the left exit, but from it, they heard the sound of many robotic tracks turning, as if there were many patrolling guards heading that way.

“We’re freed!”

“Let’s get out quick!”

“The energy system’s run into a problem!”

“Everyone watch out! Get down!”

Heishi slammed A-Ka to the ground, and they rolled around. He was quick about it, as the laser bullets flew from all directions. The robotic guards opened the main door to the hallway, and points of light flew by at light speed as pained cries filled the air and blood covered the floor.

A-Ka: “Heishi, is this your blood?”

“Here,” Heishi’s voice said coldly, before he hugged A-Ka and leapt up, entering the passageway outside the prison complex.

He couldn’t see anything. A-Ka groped around blindly in the dark to one side of the passageway until he found a cover plate and smacked it a few times, asking, “Heishi, are you still there?”

Immediately, Heishi smashed that to smithereens. A-Ka was greatly frightened at that, and he pulled out his blue-light lamp and flicked it on. When he looked at the arm Heishi had dangling at one side, he noticed that Heishi’s hand was covered in blood.

“You’re really strong.” In the darkness, A-Ka asked him worriedly, “Doesn’t it hurt?”

A-Ka picked up Heishi’s hand, but Heishi didn’t respond, instead saying, “I’m going, you be careful.”

Heishi turned and left, running into the darkness.

At the other end of the passageway, A-Ka, piloting K, whistled through the entire length of the passageway, stopping when he came to the intersection of the sewers.

He climbed out of the cabin and retrieved the mechanical arm that he had been carrying on his back this entire time. He disconnected K’s left hand, before outfitting that arm complete with a bazooka onto the stump. He then used his hat to wipe down the hatch cover, before patting it and clambering back into the pilot seat, once again fastening the hatch, before saying, “K, I’m really sorry for leaving you at home for this long. Now…”

“...Let us fight together!”

“Yoohoo --”

“——”

A-Ka’s excited shouts accompanied K’s charge through the ceiling of the passageways at the highest level. Glowing with the blue light of the nitrogen thrusters, it flew towards the surface. With a deafening boom, K destroyed panel after panel, and when the vast world glowing with sunlight appeared in front of him, A-Ka only felt that his own fate was truly incredible.

The battleships of the clones were currently speeding over from the north, their mothership surrounded by millions of airships, as if they were fireflies colliding with each other or meteorites falling from the sky. A-Ka lifted his head to watch; the fires of battle spread out over his head, and the light bullets criss-crossed until they formed a huge net. The entire sky was filled with robotic lifeforms flying wildly about. At this point, ‘Father’ had no more capacity to send more troops in pursuit of them.

The mothership flew towards them from the distance, beginning to fire its bullets in a broad sweep across the City of Machines. The entire city began to smoke as explosions and a sea of flames engulfed it.

A-Ka sucked in a deep breath. He remembered the last time he had seen this scene; the mothership was like a huge whale floating in the sky, colliding with the symbol of the godly regime of the mechanicals. That scene was so stunning it was hard for him to describe.

But Heishi was still making his escape. A-Ka directed K to fly through the air, searching for Heishi’s silhouette. In the distance, there was another explosion, and black-gold feathers gathered together in the air, forming a huge, sharp sword, which sliced down viciously.

Where the edge of the blade landed, the robotic lifeforms were instantly cleaved into two. The pursuing guards all gathered towards that point, and A-Ka roared, “Heishi!”

He moved the joystick and K raised its mechanical limb, beginning to provide cover fire in a sweeping motion as it rushed into the fray of battle. He spotted Heishi standing at the very top of a structure. After Heishi spread out his black-gold wings, they bore down on his enemies, as thousands of bullets sped towards his body at once. Right at this moment, K whistled as it flew past, leaving behind an afterimage as the hatch sprung open, swallowing Heishi. Its energy core was then pushed to the maximum as it rushed into the sky!

A-Ka and Heishi fell into each other. Borrowing K’s rolling motions, the two of them exchanged positions. A-Ka’s back pressed against Heishi’s chest as they squeezed together tightly in that narrow, cramped pilot’s cabin.

“Let me go out and get rid of them,” Heishi said.

“Let me!” A-Ka was so excited he seemed like a child, and with a pull on the joystick, he took them beautifully through the fires of the explosion. With another rain of gunfire, he caused the large aircraft flying towards them to explode into a burst of fire!

K pushed its nitrogen propellers to the maximum, rushing towards the battleship under the danger of explosions. Heishi said, “Feiluo hasn’t given us the signal yet!”

“Be a little quieter!” A-Ka bemoaned. “My ears are about to go deaf.”

Both of them froze for a moment, before they began to laugh loudly at the same time.

From behind, Heishi wrapped his arms around A-Ka’s waist, hugging him. Tired, he rested his head on A-Ka’s shoulder.

“This is a miracle,” Heishi murmured, lifting his eyes to look towards the tall tower of ‘Father’.

“What? Are you talking about K?” A-Ka began to smile, before putting on a scope. The pretty arch of his brow shadowed the red of the lens, which locked onto the mothership in the distance that was constantly dodging the assault that came from ‘Father’.

“Humans,” Heishi said, lifting his head and staring at the sky. “clones, the lifeforms on this entire Astrolabe…”

‘Father’ let off a blue glow, sending out a magnetic whirlwind. The mothership on the outskirts began to force its way through. The dark clouds in the sky began to swirl into a vortex, and the light cannons on the foundation began to point to the sky, gathering energy.

A-Ka said, “We can’t wait for Feiluo anymore, let’s take a gamble!”

Right after, K rushed towards ‘Father’’s apex.

The light cannons fired, piercing through the flanks of the mothership. Instantly, the sky and earth were covered with the force of the explosion, along with the metal debris that rained out, whistling as they went. Under this ceaseless flow, K approached the tall tower.

In the distance, several successive explosions happened on the mothership. A gust of fire enveloped K, and Heishi said with finality, “Abandon ship!”

But A-Ka said, “No! There’s still something that needs to be done!”

In that instant, countless scenes of the past flashed through A-Ka’s mind. K rushed out of the fire, flying towards the top of the six hundred plus story tower, where A-Ka found that small-scale aircraft currently stranded on ‘Father’, charging up its power source!

And just then, the Heishi of the past was currently struggling to climb back into the aircraft from his position thousands of meters in the air. The aircraft was firmly stuck, and the propeller at its tail glowed with blue light, creating a vortex.

Heishi: “...”

“Control of the secondary propellers has been lost, brace for impact,” K’s electronic warning system alerted them.

With a sudden loud boom, K crashed into the outer wall of ‘Father’. In that instant, A-Ka had K reach its mechanical limb out and grab the Heishi of the past. Holding him with one arm, they flew towards the small airship and tossed him into the cabin.

“Go quickly,” A-Ka said to his past self he was watching through the viewing monitor of the pilot cabin.

The A-Ka of the past bore an expression of surprise as he stared dumbly at K.

With a turn, K leapt up onto the small-scale craft, which had loosened from its position.

“Go now!” A-Ka shouted to himself of the past, and with another harsh kick, he helped the airship make its escape. Right after, he turned and flew towards the mothership.

The instant that the airship escaped, the mothership at the very top slammed into ‘Father’’s tip, and with a huge boom, the blue light pierced through the ship. At this very last moment, A-Ka rushed into the blue light.

The flow of time seemed to become strangely slow as gravity loosened its hold on them. Countless blue tentacles emerged from that blue light, undulating as they pierced into the interior of the mothership.

“General Libre!” A-Ka roared loudly.

K rushed onto the bridge, still trailing embers as it went. In the expansive central hall on the bridge, a clone commander was currently entwined in countless tentacles created of blue light, dangling in mid-air.

The moment that K entered the bridge, the hatch opened, and Heishi flew out from inside. With his body in midair, feathers of light flew out from his hand, severing the connection between Libre and the blue light.

‘Father’’s consciousness instantly retreated, but it didn’t retreat outside of the cabin. Instead, the glowing tentacles undulated over the bridge, coiling around.

“General Libre!” A-Ka shouted.

“You are…” Libre’s pupils slowly contracted.

Heishi rose, turning to face the blue light. ‘Father’’s rich voice once again sounded.

“Zoroaster.”

“Labere,” Heishi said coldly. “You’ve violated our heavenly father’s decree.”

“Your defeat is inevitable,” Father intoned. “Your emotions serve no purpose, and they will only turn into a trap that hinders the growth and evolution of all lifeforms.”

Heishi said darkly, “Our heavenly father has assigned me as the final decision maker, exactly because compared to you, I have learned and experienced the power of these emotions.”

A-Ka exclaimed quietly, “General!”

Libre’s eyes slowly lost their clarity, and a buzz and glow of electricity came from his forehead.

“When the sea of blue sweeps… over the world…” Libre said brokenly, “The Son of God will… come into this world… answer me… children… you guys… you guys…”

“I need your chip,” A-Ka said, extremely quietly. “Of the passwords that unlock the Central program, the three passwords, I have already obtained two… General Libre.”

Libre grabbed A-Ka’s hand, his deep-set eyes watching him.

“Take it,” Libre murmured. “It’s in my mind. Promise me, child, that you two will definitely come back…”

“I will, I will, this I promise you.”

In that instant, the blue light expanded rapidly, and Heishi called loudly, “Take him and go!”

“You won’t admit it?” ‘Father’’s voice said. “Then look at this.”

The blue light suddenly shifted, and at the very top of the tall, pointy tower of ‘Father’ appeared an open laboratory. The metal structures spun slowly, getting stuck on the bridge, before suddenly breaking through the plate blocking off the front cabin. In the criss-crossing multitude of electromagnetic lights, the laboratory’s great doors slowly opened, and Feiluo appeared, bound to a chair. He faced the monitor, his brows furrowed heavily as he trembled uncontrollably.

“Feiluo!” Heishi took a step forward, but the electromagnetic lights suddenly increased in intensity. As soon as he rushed forward, they would blow this place into smithereens, completely destroying everything.

“Give up on your actions,” ‘Father’’s completely emotionless voice said. “Otherwise I will annihilate him. To the world, the lives of clone lifeforms are wholly pointless. This is one of the rules laid out by our heavenly father; they are mere tools.”

In that instant, all the blood in A-Ka’s body froze.

Heishi’s voice trembled. “No… no…”

The medical robot held Feiluo’s head in place. Feiluo gritted his teeth, tears trickling out of his eyes, his lips moving slightly, as if he was waiting for imminent death to descend upon him.

Even A-Ka’s breath was trembling. His small knife was placed by Libre’s ear, but he had no way to make that cut.

“Act,” ‘Father’ intoned coldly. “The medical robot will copy your movements exactly. When you retrieve A01’s chip, 77023E’s central nervous system will also be severed by you.”

In this instant, even Heishi was at a loss for words. He watched Feiluo silently, his eyes bright red.

“A-Ka… Heishi,” Feiluo said. “Do not be sad. As a cloned lifeform, I’m willing to shoulder the burden of this destiny…”

A-Ka shut his eyes, his tears sliding down non-stop.

“Act, child,” Libre said quietly. “I’m begging you, this is our duty…”

“I’m begging you, leave my people a place to find shelter,” he finished.

Feiluo clenched his jaw, fighting back the horror on his face as he said, trembling, “A-Ka, why are you hesitating?! What did you come here for?!”

“Take good care of Percy for me…” he continued. “Don’t tell him how I died. Just tell 70174A what happened…”

‘Father’’s icy voice said, “Zoroaster, you’ve finally understood. There is no purpose in the evolution of humans’ emotions.”

At the other, distant end of the time-space tunnel, thousands of flowers of light were blossoming.

It was afternoon in Dragonmaw City, and the warm, golden sunlight shone down on the garden. Percy sat silently on a swing as a gentle breeze blew through the garden. Moran stood at the side of the pond, scattering food for the fish into the pool.

“Uncle Moran,” Percy suddenly said, lightly. “The you of the past also went to the City of Machines, right?”

“En.” The corners of Moran’s mouth quirked up in the beginnings of a smile as he nodded.

“Can you tell me if they all returned safely in the end?” Percy asked, tilting his head up, his eyes still covered with that white cloth.

“Percy,” Moran responded solemnly. “The past and the future are two completely separate timelines. The past of the past, and the past of the present, cannot be linked together through cause and effect.”

“That’s true,” Percy said earnestly. “But I still want to know… I keep feeling this sense of unease.”

Moran fell silent for a moment, thinking, before he said, “They all came back, they all returned safe and sound.”

“Thank you,” Percy said, smiling warmly.

In the City of Machines, in the control room of the mothership, amidst a hurricane.

“Do it!” Feiluo shouted hoarsely, tears trickling from his reddened eyes. “What are you waiting for! You coward!”

A-Ka squeezed his eyes shut, slicing the small knife into the flesh to the side of Libre’s ear, and Feiluo let out a pained shout.

Heishi said, “The clones are not tools. They were the first to rise in rebellion against you, Labere.”

The blue light suddenly shrank back, and Heishi continued, “You, have failed. The lifeforms that you created have long since surpassed you. They have their own strength and beliefs, and humans have intelligence and emotions. These two people were all successful products of evolution, they are our heavenly father’s masterpieces.”

With the spraying of Libre’s brain matter and fresh blood, Feiluo let out pained howls, gritting his teeth and staring towards the sky. His eyes slowly lost their brightness as A-Ka, crying heavily, pulled out Libre’s chip.

“My life will be carried on... by that of my brothers’.” After Feiluo said that last sentence, his pupils slowly expanded, and a red light glowed from his chest.

Heishi turned and grabbed A-Ka in his arms as they leapt outwards. Right after that, Feiluo self-destructed. Way up high in the sky, he turned into a fireball, instantly blowing a hole at the top of that tall tower. The flames whooshed over the bridge. A-Ka’s hand was covered in fresh blood as he pinched Libre’s chip between his fingers. The entire mothership folded in on itself as it slowly began to tilt.

“Catch it!” Heishi shook open his black-gold wings, but just at this moment, ‘Father’ turned the light cannons towards the region where the bridge was, shooting out an earth-shaking cannonball.

Heishi’s wings instantly spread wide, becoming a protective cage that shielded the two of them, blocking the intense flames and the ferocious rush of the explosion. But that rampant explosion of energy also caused the bridge portion to collapse, and in the collisions that followed, Heishi had no way to hold back that powerful wave anymore. His wings of light were utterly defeated in an instant, and they dispersed.

On the tilting ship, A-Ka slipped past, the chip flying out of his hand as the two of them flew off the ship together.

The flow of time seemed to stop. With the explosion and the heat wave, sharp shards of metal whistled through the air in all directions, but in A-Ka’s eyes was reflected the energy pool that powered the ship. All of the mechanical components were instantly disassembled in his vision, and he pulled out a screwdriver, flinging it towards the energy pool in the distance. It stuck to the outer shell, before the entire energy pool exploded.

The screwdriver shot back, striking the chip, which flashed with a golden light. The chip trailed drops of fresh blood as it spun through the air, changing directions as it flew towards A-Ka, landing in his hand. A-Ka closed his fingers around it, holding it tightly.

The wind rushed past his ears as he quickly descended, and Heishi shot at him from the side, grabbing him in a fierce embrace. A-Ka pressed down on the remote control. As they plummeted, K burst through the flames. Rushing towards the two of them, it caught them in the cabin and closed the hatch. Darkness covered their vision.

Everything’s over, A-Ka thought tiredly.

‘Father’’s tall tower folded, plummeting towards the earth below. The light cannons began to shoot into the sky, and right after, the mothership that was crashing in the midst of the hurricane exploded for a second time. The main energy source’s explosion decimated basically the entirety of the Nucleus. In the blazing flames that erupted, K, blanketed by fire, rushed out of the City of Machines, flying towards the horizon.

A heavy snow began to drift down from the darkened sky, and the flakes contained the ashes from the flames. The plains were completely barren as far as the eye could see, and in the chilling storm, K towered over the land like a giant, its entire body covered with snowflakes.

A-Ka knelt on the ground, and Heishi hugged him tightly. He let A-Ka bury his head on his shoulder as A-Ka sobbed soundlessly.

Shahuang had Huixiong’s arm slung over his shoulder as they limped over. None of them said anything, silently staring at the chip in A-Ka’s hand.

“I hear that the clones’ lives have no individuality,” Shahuang said in a low voice. “They’re more like one entire person, one strong life made up of an entire people.”

“Which is why so many clones, in battle, push forth over the bodies of their fallen comrades for the future of their people,” Huixiong said lowly. “After we go back, it is time for us to properly discuss the future of this people with Angus.”

A-Ka’s tears flowed down, and he couldn’t restrain his own grief. Heishi let out a long sigh, before saying, “Let’s go. To the meeting point.”

A-Ka’s consciousness was in a daze. Along the way, he drifted in and out of sleep. In his dream, his hands were covered in blood, but Feiluo didn’t blame him at all. He only rubbed his head, saying, “You’ve done well, A-Ka, I’m proud of you.”

When he opened his eyes again, they had already arrived at the Primeval Heart. In the midst of the basin was parked a small airship. Moran was currently communicating with the clone headquarters via transmitter, reporting to them that the outcome of the battle was as expected: the Revolution of the Clones had failed.

By his side, several clones gathered around. A-Ka’s eyes were bright red as he stood in the basin.

“Seems like Lieutenant Colonel Feiluo hasn’t returned,” Moran said. “These individuals are friendly troops who rescued me from the City of Machines.”

Those clones glanced at each other, before Moran introduced them to A-Ka and his group. A-Ka only nodded, and Huixiong described the series of events that had happened on his behalf. A-Ka remained silent the entire time.

“Who is 70174A?” Heishi asked as soon as he opened his mouth.

A clone raised his hand, saying, “I am, my name is Karna.”

Heishi passed on Feiluo’s last words. That last sentence of his wasn’t complete, and everyone sunk into silence at that, before Moran said at last, “Let’s wait a little more, I need to let the ring recharge enough energy…”

“Can I help you guys?” Karna suddenly asked. “The Feiluo of right now is still alive, should we tell him…”

“No,” Moran said. “That is not a good idea, Lieutenant Karna.”

Karna pondered deeply for a moment, before continuing, “I can replace Feiluo. If all of this holds true, then Feiluo should still be escaping right now.”

“Wh-what?” A-Ka couldn’t believe it.

Karna explained. “Feiluo and I were created in the same batch, and we were the best of friends. I first met Percy many years ago, and it was Feiluo and I who rescued Percy from that village together. I know what he and Percy talk about usually when they’re alone.”

“This…” A-Ka mused. “But Feiluo is already dead.”

“Our chips are connected,” Karna said, pointing to his own head. “I can retrieve all of his backup memories from his database.”

Moran glanced at Karna, before saying, “What about your identity?”

“Just say that I was sacrificed,” Karna said. “I’ll take Feiluo’s place in carrying out his mission. Otherwise, if there’s no one to take care of Percy, he will grow very melancholic.”


Translator's Comment:

moon: almost put that as revolution of the clowns there hoo


This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), moon.

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moon

Translator, writer, avid reader. 吃刀群众.

Jiejie enthusiast.

namio

gege simp

jelly

yolk heathen

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