“When you come here it proves that you’re about to die. Where else do you want to go?”
“Crap.” In the underground research room, the researchers saw Ren Chong struggle uncontrollably in the chair.
“Reality intervention, quick! Shock him with a current to break him free of the predicament!”
Electricity began flowing through the electrodes attached to Zhou Sheng’s arm; Zhou Sheng instantly started convulsing uncontrollably.
Yu Hao stood in the cement room and stared at his dark self in a daze.
“You appeared again.” Yu Hao studied him and asked in surprise, “When did you come back?”
Dark Yu Hao sat in front of the charcoal stove, warming both his hands by the fire. “Every time you doubt yourself. I’ll never disappear.”
“I don’t want you to disappear,” Yu Hao said, “I know it’s impossible too.”
“Do you want to go look for Zhou Sheng?” Dark Yu Hao said slowly, “Can you save him? You?”
Yu Hao looked around; when he entered, the door was already closed. At this moment, it seemed as if only this small room remained in his spiritual world.
“When you come here,” Dark Yu Hao said again, “it proves that you’re about to die. Where else do you want to go?”
“I understand.” Yu Hao said, “But even if there’s just a slight chance, I won’t give up.”
Dark Yu Hao sneered. Yu Hao continued, “Come ba, come back to me.”
Dark Yu Hao’s eyes widened, and he was instantly stunned. Yu Hao said, “I need your help now, help me open the door.”
“If you continue walking from here,” Dark Yu Hao said, “You may never be able to come back again.”
“Come.” Yu Hao smiled, “I’m not afraid.”
Dark Yu Hao fell silent. Yu Hao just waited patiently, and in the end, his dark self got up and walked towards Yu Hao. Yu Hao welcomed him with open arms; the two of them flashed for an instant and merged into one.
Within the cement room, a flash of light swept past; another door appeared. Yu Hao walked up to it, and just like the instant when he and Zhou Sheng pushed this door open together previously, he left the subconscious and suddenly entered an even deeper consciousness space.
As if it had transformed into a starry cosmos -- beyond that door, a giant tree that shone with an intense light appeared! Yu Hao appeared on one of the leaves, and there was still a protective glow that materialised around him.
“Succeeded!” Yu Hao cried, “I succeeded!”
But no one came to share his joy. Yu Hao ran quickly along the leaves to the stems, then to the branches and forks. He was searching everywhere and muttered to himself, “I’ll have to find Zhou Sheng’s dream next… Which leaf is it?”
At the top of the tree trunk in the distance, a bright light appeared.
Yu Hao, “……”
Yu Hao subconsciously turned around and darted towards that bright light.
“So cold…” Yu Hao could sense it; as compared to the even deeper world of the memory of ruins, this place had a kind of chill that could penetrate through one’s skin, blood, and even their bones. Only running towards the bright light made him feel slightly better.
As he ran, he searched for a world that might belong to Zhou Sheng on the branches. Countless leaves drifted on this gigantic tree of the world, fell into the void, then disappeared completely. New, tender leaves would then slowly start to grow towards the sunshine that spilled down from above.
He knew which section in Zhou Sheng’s subconscious was related to the experience of death— it was an illusion that emerged from being drowned when he picked up the Golden Crow Wheel as a child. If he can find that leaf, he may be able to enter Zhou Sheng’s dream -- he could come up from the bottom of the water. But how could he get in? Perhaps recalling the sensation of drowning from not being able to swim could let him find the resonance of that moment with Zhou Sheng in the deep-layer consciousness?
As Yu Hao ran, he left countless branches, but he still couldn’t find Zhou Sheng’s leaf. All these leaves looked the same, so he couldn’t distinguish between them.
There must be a way… Yu Hao thought. There are a lot of things that he hadn’t thought through clearly yet, don’t get anxious…
He slowly stopped running and looked at the scene in front of him in astonishment.
He left the highest branch of the tree; there were steps here that came from all sides. He went up the steps and arrived at the top, then faced the sun that illuminated this giant tree of the world—— it was another Golden Crow Wheel.
“I actually can see you here?” Yu Hao uttered in disbelief.
“This is the world of the collective unconscious.” A grand voice answered, “Humans, animals, all living beings with free will, their deepest conscious layers are interconnected here. It has no concrete representation of its own, but in your cognition, it’s expressed as the ‘huge tree of the world’.”
“Golden Crow Wheel!” Yu Hao was stunned, “You can talk?”
“In this place, our awarenesses have been completely separated, and your interpretation of me is a ‘voice’, which is one of the six senses.” Golden Crow Wheel’s voice said, “Corrector, why are you here?”
Yu Hao stared at the Golden Crow Wheel blankly. “Wait, you’re alive? What I mean is, are you an AI? I’m looking for Zhou Sheng…”
Suddenly, a golden light wave appeared in front of him that spread out around him. In the middle of the light wave, a shining image of Zhou Sheng appeared. He walked towards Yu Hao and said, “Corrector.”
“Zhou Sheng!” Yu Hao said excitedly, but he quickly understood that this is just an image that the Golden Crow Wheel had transformed into.
The Golden Crow Wheel looked at Yu Hao quietly. Yu Hao calmed down and said, “I know this is the collective unconscious; it connects everyone’s dream, and it’s the dreamscape of the world. I want to find Zhou Sheng’s dream through it and enter his dream. Do you know what happened?”
“The Overseer.” Golden Crow Wheel answered.
“Yes! Yes!” Yu Hao answered.
Then, without saying a word, Golden Crow Wheel turned around and walked down the steps. Yu Hao followed closely behind. “You can communicate with us! Why have you never communicated with us before?”
“Energy,” Golden Crow Wheel said, “A lack of the required energy makes it impossible for me to activate some functions. I can only activate the keyword search function and communicate with you guys through the last category of perception.”
Yu Hao, “Could you hurry? I’m afraid we’ll run out of time, how much time has passed?”
“In the world of the collective unconscious, time in the external world is still.” Golden Crow Wheel answered.
Yu Hao thought that that was good. He asked, “Then why can we communicate now? Because of the collective unconscious world?”
“No.” The Golden Crow Wheel walked down the steps and onto a branch. It said, “Because one of your kind is charging me. Language compilation, consciousness interference and other such extension modules have been restored to become available modes. However, the CPU has not yet detected an energy source for the adapter.”
“Charging?” Yu Hao said, “Who’s charging you?”
“Borrowing a section of the Overseer’s conscious.” Golden Crow Wheel released the image of a memory -- in it was Zhou Sheng’s perspective. He saw the process of the Golden Crow Wheel being dissolved and charged up. Yu Hao instantly stopped moving. “What do they want to do? Wait… I suddenly thought of something.”
Yu Hao glanced sideways at the shining Golden Crow Wheel with a human body that had turned into Zhou Sheng; he realised that he was now talking directly to the Golden Crow Wheel’s AI, which is to say that for humans, this guy is equivalent to an omnipotent God! Could he hug his thigh and get him to open up more rights for Yu Hao? Then he wouldn’t need to look for Zhou Sheng anymore!
“Could you give me some other sort of power?” Yu Hao asked, “I have to get the Overseer out, otherwise I don’t know what kind of insane things Ren Chong would use you for!”
Golden Crow Wheel said, “Please specify. Corrector, what permissions do you need me to open?”
“No, no.” Yu Hao said, “Let me sort my thoughts out first, this is too complicated.”
Golden Crow Wheel continued, “The authority of the Corrector can only be adjusted after the Overseer submits an application to the CPU. Commands can’t be directly made here.”
“What on earth are you?” Yu Hao asked, “Hold on for a moment. Conversion of instructions. I need access to some of your information.”
Golden Crow Wheel stopped moving as well. He turned around and faced Yu Hao. Looking at Zhou Sheng’s familiar face, Yu Hao frowned deeply and muttered, “Tell me about your origins, your functions, as well as what I should do now in order to bring Zhou Sheng back.”
The ‘Zhou Sheng’ that shone with a golden light dispersed with a "bang" and transformed into countless scenes that surrounded Yu Hao -- every single one of them were memories that had been saved!
Yu Hao, “……”
Yu Hao almost stopped breathing -- this was a scene that came from ancient times! The first scene drifted toward him, and when it arrived in front of him, two haloes appeared that surrounded a very complex apparatus.
“What is this?” Yu Hao asked.
“My Creator.” Golden Crow Wheel said.
“Is it a lifeform completely different from us?” Yu Hao reached out to touch it, but the scene disappeared.
Golden Crow Wheel answered, “Not entirely accurate. According to the definition in human language, ‘lifeform’ refers to an individual or ethnic group that can propagate and supercede the old with the new. My Creator is unable to carry out either of these activities.”
Then, an even bigger silver halo landed in an environment akin to that of ancient Earth. Golden Crow Wheel continued, “17,442 years ago.”
The silver halo released this complex device that hovered above the wilderness. Animals would find it once in awhile and try to touch it, but fail.
“What was the intention of your Creator in creating you?” Yu Hao asked.
“Initially, it was to observe the consciousness of other populations.” Golden Crow Wheel answered, “After discovering this planet, the reproductive model of this planet’s lifeforms was judged to be of ‘value’. Through the analysis and sampling of the consciousness of lifeforms here, it was hoped that the reproductivity model of the group my Creator belonged to could be completed.”
“They are lifeforms that only have consciousness, but no physical body.” Yu Hao said, “Did they want to find a way to reproduce by themselves through the analysis of human and animal consciousness?”
“Extraction.” Golden Crow Wheel said, “Partial extraction and interference. Learn how to create new individual bodies through the splitting of consciousness.”
“What about them?” Yu Hao asked, “Are your Creators still on Earth?”
“Intense stellar activity resulted in radiation bursts.” Golden Crow Wheel said, “My Creator used me to activate a barrier, which consumed a lot of energy from the processor. Eventually, the barrier disappeared, and my Creator was affected by an interference and dissipated.”
“Dead.” Yu Hao said.
“An inaccurate definition,” Golden Crow Wheel answered, “For them, there is no ‘death’ as defined by humans.”
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro.