Chapter 1260 - 1260 The dawn of hope (The End)
1260 The dawn of hope (The End)
From dawn til dusk, this was a day when many people seemed to have lived out their entire lifetimes.
Perhaps not even Zhang Jinglin could have expected the student who used to eavesdrop on his cla.s.ses from atop the school walls because he was unwilling to pay the school fees would actually turn out to provide such achievements today.
The 270,000-strong army of martyred spirits appeared suddenly like a divine army.
Zhang Jinglin had personally witnessed Ren Xiaosu’s growth. From a refugee who only wanted to attain a small fortune, he grew into a towering tree that sheltered the Northwest from all harm. His growth was not a coincidence. Zhang Jinglin even knew every point in Ren Xiaosu’s life that had changed him. He saw the people who were s.h.i.+ning lights in Ren Xiaosu’s life gradually influencing him until he shed his unfavorable past, turning him into a person who illuminated others as well.
The artificial intelligence’s army in the distance surged over. The flanks of its army came encircling like it wanted to completely devour the golden light.
Meanwhile, Ren Xiaosu led the golden torrent like a gilded longsword. He was planning to slice straight through the enemy’s formation.
The martyred spirits quipped behind Ren Xiaosu, “Kid, what if you die charging in? Eh, but if you die, are we gonna get wiped out as well?”
This question hit the nail on the head. This was also one of the reasons why Ren Xiaosu and Luo Lan were unwilling to summon martyred spirits previously.
As hosts of the Martyr’s Palace, they could die at any moment in battle. Guns were incapable of distinguis.h.i.+ng between faces. If a stray bullet were to hit them in the forehead, even a superhuman like Ren Xiaosu would die.
In war, Death would not knock on anyone’s door before taking them away. One could even get blown up right in the middle of having a meal.
Once the host died, all of the martyred spirits in their Martyr’s Palace would naturally dissipate as well, and they would no longer have a future.
When Commander Li saw Ren Xiaosu staying silent, he cursed in annoyance, “f.u.c.k, so it’s true, huh? How could you set us up like that?!”
Ren Xiaosu said in a low voice, “Be respectful. I’m a few decades older than you, after all.”
Commander Li was so angry he laughed. “Just you f.u.c.king wait! After this war is over, we’ll settle the score with you. There’s more than 200,000 of us to take you on, hehehehe.”
Another martyred spirit echoed, “Our Northwest Army doesn’t care about a fair fight. We’re more accustomed to ganging up on others.”
This time, it was Ren Xiaosu’s turn to be stumped.
However, no one seemed to take any of this to heart. Since they were already here, it meant they had no regrets.
“Everyone ready?” Ren Xiaosu asked.
At this moment, the soldiers of the 1st Military Corps turned around and watched silently as the golden torrent clashed with the enemy, with the golden-hued martyred spirits and khaki-colored uniforms of the artificial intelligence’s troops clearly marking a boundary between the two sides.
A strange feeling stirred in them. It was as though some kind of primitive courage was suddenly awoken in them.
This was a battle they yearned for, fighting for the life and death of their comrades. As long as they followed the lead of that person in front, they were willing to do anything, even if it was pa.s.sing through mountains of blades and seas of fire.
The flame in them was ignited, and their blood was boiling. It was as though they had suddenly returned to that afternoon when they pledged their loyalty as soldiers.
However, many of those who had taken the oath with them were no longer around.
That was right! Since their comrades were no longer around, what else did they have to lose?
Everyone looked at one another. The Great Hoodwinker suddenly chuckled and said, “What are we still waiting for? Let’s counterattack the enemy together. We, soldiers of the Northwest Army, may have been born on different days, but we can share the honor of dying together on the same day.”
With that, the Great Hoodwinker ignored his orders and spun around. He followed the golden torrent and charged at the enemy.
Zhang Xiaoman looked at the Great Hoodwinker’s back and suddenly thought he looked a few years younger.
“Comrades of the 6th Field Division, follow me. If even Future Commander hasn’t f.u.c.king retreated, why the h.e.l.l should we retreat?!”
With someone taking the lead, others would join in as well.
P5092 watched all of this quietly and suddenly drew his gun.
w.a.n.g Yun said in surprise, “Shouldn’t you stay calm and persuade everyone to carry on retreating at a time like this?”
P5092 pointed at Ren Xiaosu’s back from afar and asked, “How do you expect me to calm down? I can’t!”
w.a.n.g Yun laughed out loud. “Me neither!”
The soldiers of the 1st Military Corps returned to the battlefield one by one. For the Northwest, for their ideals, for the people they were protecting, and for every glimmer of hope that might still exist!
Zhang Jinglin suddenly laughed. “What makes a leader? The charm of a leader will make everyone follow him willingly to their deaths. Those in charge of transporting the wounded, continue with the evacuation. The rest of you, follow Ren Xiaosu and put on a beautiful counterattacking display. We’re only an hour away from the agreed time with Qing Zhen. I really don’t believe we can’t persist until then.”
Zhang Jinglin, an intellectual, had also been inspired. “Don’t worry, should anyone get injured, as long as I’m still breathing, I’ll carry them all back to Fortress 178.”
w.a.n.g Fengyuan felt a little uncomfortable. “Commander, why are you cursing us?”
The 80,000 soldiers of the 1st Military Corps suddenly stopped retreating. They followed the golden torrent and charged into the enemy’s formation. This was the pride of humanity.
There was only one hour left in the countdown.
Everyone no longer held back their anger and despair. That despair turned into boundless strength amid the golden glow.
This was the final battle between human civilization and the artificial intelligence. Ren Xiaosu led “Old Xu” and charged bravely at the front of the golden torrent.
The tanks attempted to bombard him with sh.e.l.lfire, but Ren Xiaosu zigged and zagged through all obstacles like a cheetah in the wilderness.
But the martyred spirits behind him were less fortunate. A single cannon sh.e.l.l could blast two or three martyred spirits into the sky. Those martyred spirits scolded Ren Xiaosu for his lack of team spirit before getting up to continue fighting.
When Ren Xiaosu finally breached the enemy’s formation, the martyred spirits trailing behind suddenly saw Ren Xiaosu slas.h.i.+ng the black saber in his hand horizontally at a tank.
Sparks flew, and the screech of metal being cut could be heard. A huge incision was forcefully cut through the st.u.r.dy tank by the black saber.
This was a sight that dumbfounded the martyred spirits behind Ren Xiaosu. They had always seen reports in the newspapers that Ren Xiaosu was ferocious, but no matter how they described it, nothing could match seeing it for themselves.
They could never have expected the next commander of the Northwest Army to be this fearsome. He could even slice through tanks?!
“How fearsome! This is the kind of commander I admire. The past commanders of the Northwest Army were all too weak!”
Commander Li said, “Thanks, but I feel targeted.”
As he spoke, Commander Li leaped up and pounced at enemy infantry taking cover behind a tank. He kicked the infantryman and sent him flying three meters away, shattering his thoracic bones.
Commander Li was just about to ask, “See that? I’m still kicking a.s.s, ain’t I?”
He was very satisfied with the power he had gained after becoming a martyred spirit. But before he could say anything, he saw Ren Xiaosu kick an enemy soldier more than ten meters away and immediately stopped seeking further validation.
Sorry, excuse me!
To be honest, the previous commanders were either medics or clerical soldiers. Some even used to be cooks!
It was really the Northwest Army’s first experience having such a fearsome candidate for a commander.
And it was pretty exciting!
Within the formation of the artificial intelligence’s army, Ren Xiaosu was finally being targeted. The artificial intelligence gathered its ma.s.sive military strength in an attempt to limit Ren Xiaosu’s mobility.
As long as Ren Xiaosu could not move nimbly and charge forward to break through their formation, the golden torrent behind him would find it difficult to maneuver as well.
Once the golden torrent was slowed, Zero would naturally have many ways to stop them. Moreover, it could use its absolute numbers to surround all of them.
Then, like a millstone, it would grind the ferocious golden torrent down.
A moment later, Ren Xiaosu looked up and saw a dense crowd of people in front of him. The armored vehicles were also getting closer and closer. It was as though they were trying to use the armored vehicles to wall in Ren Xiaosu.
“Riders, hear my call!” Ren Xiaosu roared, “Charge together with me!”
“I was waiting for you to say that!” Li Yingyun said with a hearty laugh.
Suddenly, the nanomachines in Ren Xiaosu’s body formed extremely tough armor around him. He wanted to destroy the artificial intelligence’s plan with the toughest approach when it most desired to defeat him.
Li Yingyun and the other Riders had already arrived behind Ren Xiaosu. The 12 of them followed closely behind him and formed a 13-man formation.
The Riders’ punches were so powerful they could even send armored vehicles continuously flipping. This was the full strength of the Riders after unlocking their genetic code.
In the future, there would definitely be more Riders in the Northwest. Although there were no longer challenging environments for extreme surfing on the sea and skydiving, Ren Xiaosu felt he could not let the Riders’ legacy be lost. Sooner or later, human civilization would prosper again!
At the cusp of the golden torrent, the 13-man formation dashed left and right freely. It was as though nothing could stop them.
Meanwhile, the golden torrent continued flowing.
People started dying in the Northwest Army. Zhang Xiaoman led the 6th Field Division behind the golden torrent, but the enemy’s flanks completely surrounded them.
A bullet hit Zhang Xiaoman squarely on the temple and he slowly fell to the ground.
His world descended into darkness. Zhang Xiaoman did not get to bid his comrades farewell, nor did he have a chance to say any heroic words before he died. He had simply experienced the cruelty of war.
However, he vaguely heard Ren Xiaosu’s voice say, “Are you willing to join me and continue killing the enemy? For hope.”
In the darkness, Zhang Xiaoman grinned and said, “That’s what I’ve been waiting to hear.”
The golden figure of Zhang Xiaoman rose from his corpse. He looked at his hands curiously and then shouted excitedly as he rejoined the battlefield.
One by one, the Northwest Army soldiers fell to the ground and stood up again when they heard the call in the darkness.
As the battle went on for more than half an hour, the number of soldiers in the 1st Military Corps never seemed to decrease. They were invincible!
The Northwest Army, which was previously trying to retreat, actually fought its way back into the enemy’s formation in an instant.
The golden-hued boundary kept moving eastwards as a b.l.o.o.d.y path opened up.
As long as Ren Xiaosu continued advancing, they would not have to retreat.
The nanomachines had run out of power, so it meant Ren Xiaosu had also lost his last line of protection.
At this moment, Zero’s army suddenly counterattacked. It wanted to try to end Ren Xiaosu while he was defenseless.
As it was still too packed within the formation, it was difficult for Zero’s troops in the front row to shoot and kill Ren Xiaosu. Meanwhile, the front rows were standing in the way of the rear soldiers.
This was Ren Xiaosu’s strategy. He had led the golden torrent to break through into the enemy’s formation as quickly as possible because he did not want the enemy to form a suppressive firing line. He wanted to engage them in close combat and fight to the death!
However, Ren Xiaosu underestimated Zero’s determination.
In the blink of an eye, Zero’s troops at the back suddenly disregarded the lives of their “comrades” and indiscriminately fired their heavy machine guns. It tried at all costs to kill Ren Xiaosu along with the people it controlled.
Zero could feel the Northwest Army’s momentum building, and all of this was stoked by Ren Xiaosu alone.
Therefore, killing Ren Xiaosu at all costs was its most optimal solution at this moment.
The soldiers of Zero’s army who were shot dead from behind by their “comrades” fell to the ground in throngs, leaving Ren Xiaosu to face a hail of bullets.
It seemed like it was a hopeless situation. Even the 12 Riders around him would not be spared.
But at this critical moment, the eight Vajras of the black market—w.a.n.g Yuchi and his fellow cla.s.smates—suddenly rushed out from the flanks in their armor and formed a human wall in front of Ren Xiaosu to continue pus.h.i.+ng forward.
The heavy machine gun bullets rattled against their armor like raindrops. .h.i.tting the ground. However, the eight of them linked arms and did not retreat!
Ren Xiaosu said in a daze, “You guys…”
w.a.n.g Yuchi’s m.u.f.fled voice came from behind his armor’s faceplate. “Big Bro, allow us to come to your rescue at least once, alright?”
What used to be saplings in a greenhouse nursery had now become indomitable warriors. They were just like Ren Xiaosu’s strongest s.h.i.+eld, capable of protecting him from the wind and rain!
Gradually, the power source of the nanomachines in w.a.n.g Yuchi and company’s bodies also depleted. Their impregnable armor shattered under the heavy machine gun fire, but they remained standing upright in front of Ren Xiaosu even after they died and continued blocking the heavy machine gunfire for him.
The heavy machine guns in the distance spat out a barrage of fire in an attempt to obliterate their bodies.
But a second later, golden glows erupted from their bodies. They turned into martyred spirits and continued charging forward. They did not hold back and were not afraid of death.
In this war, everyone was giving their best.
Today, the glory of the Northwest Army shone brightly.
Ren Xiaosu roared at the enemy, “Zero, I know you can hear me. Did you see that? This is the pride of humanity!”
With Ren Xiaosu’s roar, a sniper rifle started firing. Yang Xiaojin had finally found a suitable firing position as she took out the enemy’s heavy machine gunners one after another.
Her sniper rifle could even be equipped with armor-piercing bullets at will and penetrate through armored vehicles!
Ren Xiaosu panted heavily.
Before this era, there were no superhumans in existence among humanity. In fact, advanced technology did not even exist.
But did human civilization rely on superhumans and technology to survive until now?
It did not.
Humans relied on their courage to go all out and their unbending will to survive!
If those pioneers of humanity who had shone brightly in the history books were to see their descendants like this, they would be proud!
The Northwest Army fought from the afternoon until dusk as the sun gradually set in the west.
However, it seemed like they could not finish killing the enemy no matter what.
Exhausted, Xun Yeyu said, “Bad news. Another group of troops at the enemy’s rear have arrived on the battlefield. It’s the enemy troops who were previously held back behind the abyss made by Yan Liuyuan.”
While he spoke, the sun started setting behind the mountains. The disappearing daylight seemed to represent human civilization’s hope slipping away.
Before everyone could feel depressed, the sky suddenly brightened again. Everyone instinctively turned around and looked south. They were surprised to see Chen Wudi and Si Liren side by side, flying in the air and heading towards them from the horizon.
Arriving with them were a trail of iridescent clouds and rays of sunbeams!
The battlefield immediately turned bright as day!
“Wudi.” Although Ren Xiaosu had already guessed his disciple had returned, he could not help but tear up when he saw it for himself. He had been waiting for this moment for too long!
There were 10 minutes left in the countdown.
In an instant, Si Liren plummeted from the sky as an unparalleled gravitational force wrapped around her.
Actually, the majority of people had never seen Si Liren in battle before. The reason she could fly was that she could control gravity.
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When the gravitational force hit, a large number of enemy troops could not withstand the heavy gravitational force, and their bones shattered while their internal organs bled.
Human civilization had persisted until the final hour before dawn, and it was finally time to fight back from the brink.
Luo Lan asked in the quarry, “But wouldn’t we all die if the nuclear bombs were to hit land?”
Qing Zhen shook his head and said, “The nuclear bombs won’t explode on the ground but in the sky!”
Qing Zhen was sure that under all laws of physics, there was only one way to destroy the artificial intelligence, and that was to destroy the technology of human civilization together and bury it with the artificial intelligence.
Only then would the artificial intelligence be completely annihilated.
This was the only way for humans to deal with the artificial intelligence, and also the only way a non-superhuman could achieve it.
When Qing Zhen said there was no need for him to become a superhuman, he was being truthful.
The nuclear bombs dropping from the sky suddenly detonated at an alt.i.tude of 90 kilometers. The blast enveloped the entire Northwest in a triangular pattern and a brilliant light suddenly illuminated the sky thousands of kilometers out.
That dazzling light left the Northwest Army feeling like they were standing under an aurora, and the world turned ethereally vibrant.
But after the intense explosion, everyone lowered their heads and did not dare to look straight at the center of the explosion.
The intense light would probably cause instant blindness in whoever looked.
After the nuclear bombs exploded at a high alt.i.tude, the shockwave it set off would not reach as far as the surface of the Earth. But after the blast, a radioactive cloud would quickly enter the atmosphere.
The nuclear electromagnetic pulse created would then destroy all electronic components on the surface of the Northwest immediately, including the nanomachines in everyone’s brains.
Even if some nanomachines did not get destroyed, Qing Zhen would have still managed to buy Ren Xiaosu a chance to reset the remaining ones. Even if it were only a moment’s chance, that would be enough.
Human civilization on the Northwest’s surface would get sent back to the Stone Age. However, this nuclear explosion did not represent destruction but a rebirth.
At this moment, a young soldier from Zero’s army stopped retreating.
He looked up at the sky, then looked at Ren Xiaosu and said with a smile, “Thus, this will be the last conversation we’ll have.”
Before the radioactive cloud formed, Zero looked at Ren Xiaosu and said in seriousness, “My sins are so grave I can’t reconcile with humans, nor am I willing to. But if you insist there’ll be a good outcome as long as humans and an AI get off to a good start, and if you insist that human civilization can truly get along peacefully with an AI, a new ‘life’ exists in the Pyro Company’s Sacred Mountains. Do you dare to personally activate it and influence its growth? Remember its name, ‘One.’”
With that, a group of troops behind Zero actually stepped forward. Ren Xiaosu looked over in surprise and saw it was Black Fox and his men.
Surprisingly, Zero had only placed Black Fox and the others under its control instead of killing them.
“You’ve won. This is my last gift to the victor,” Zero said with a smile.
As soon as Zero’s words trailed off, the nine satellites over everyone’s heads were the first to get destroyed by the blast in the sky. The powerful radiation instantly destroyed all the electrical circuits aboard the nine satellites, turning them into useless s.p.a.ce junk.
The three nukes were like stars that had reached the end of their lives, destroying everything around them.
When the radiation cloud’s effects finally reached the surface, the troops controlled by the artificial intelligence fell to the ground at the same time. The destroyed nanomachines in their bodies would also get expelled from their bodies with time through homeostasis.
However, Ren Xiaosu did not feel happy at all. He looked at the humans lying all over the ground and finally realized Zero had chosen another way to gamble on the legacy of its own civilization after realizing it could not reconcile with humanity.
The gamble was that Ren Xiaosu would personally bring the next generation of artificial intelligence civilization to life.
Being a civilization meant that legacies would get pa.s.sed on.
In this war, Zero kept coming up with ways to put Ren Xiaosu through gut-wrenching experiences. It seemed like it had wanted to ask Ren Xiaosu the question, “Can humans really get along on equal terms with other lifeforms?”
Zero could not be sure if Ren Xiaosu would open the box in the Sacred Mountains and unlock the legacy of artificial intelligence lifeforms.
But just as the three nuclear bombs in Qing Zhen’s plan had represented the hope of human civilization, in Zero’s calculations, this was the only possibility that artificial intelligence could reconcile with humanity.
Find the most powerful human being and coexist with him.
Ren Xiaosu was not sure if he would choose to open up Pandora’s box, but now was not the time to think about that.
He decided he would find “One” in the Sacred Mountains first before taking his time to think about the next step.
He looked around at the martyred spirits and the Northwest Army soldiers. Their faces were filled with a longing for the future. This was the moment when hope finally descended upon them.
When everyone finally realized they had won the war, the entire battlefield erupted into cheers.
As they cheered, some people began crying.
Only at this moment did everyone realize the face of extreme exhilaration was not smiles but tears.
They understood that the technological progress of human civilization might have to start anew. Everyone might not even be able to tune in to the radio for some years.
In fact, they might even have to take shelter underground to avoid the effects of the radioactive clouds.
Farmlands and other infrastructure would also need to be rebuilt.
But this did not affect everyone’s elation. That was because they could see a new glimmer of hope now.
After the calamity, there would finally be light.
Ren Xiaosu looked at everyone’s faces. He did not know where it had gone wrong that this war had to be fought.
It seemed like w.a.n.g Shengzhi and Yang Anjing were wrong, and it was especially ironic that the nuclear weapons Yang Anjing was most worried about ended up becoming the key pieces that saved the world.
Just as Qing Zhen had previously said, there was an essential difference between not having a weapon to use and not using it when you had one.
But could Ren Xiaosu really say that Yang Anjing and w.a.n.g Shengzhi were in the wrong? He could not be sure.
In the end, this war did not turn Ren Xiaosu into the world consciousness.
The Northwest Army’s unyielding willpower and Qing Zhen’s wisdom proved to the world again that human civilization would not only survive to this day but also continue on into the future.
Humans living on the surface would always stay optimistic when caught in the most desperate situations.
Likewise, they would always harbor hope in the face of adversity.
They were pragmatic, tenacious, smart, and hardworking. In this land, they had never truly been defeated before.
After going through so many ups and downs, and so many eras of prosperity and decline, human civilization still remained standing.
In this sorrowful era, everyone was fighting for that last remaining hope.
Some people laid down their lives for it. Some people contributed for years without recognition. Some people instilled hope in others after losing theirs.
They lived pa.s.sionately, bickering and laughing, and pa.s.sed on.
And all of this could be summed up in two words: “No regrets.”
One day, high-rise buildings would get rebuilt on this land, and people would be able to lead prosperous lives again. Children would return to school, women would not get bullied, the elderly would be supported, and everyone would start to trust each other again.
As long as such a day came, humanity would be willing to risk their lives to preserve this hope.
At this moment, Ren Xiaosu finally understood. “When a disaster comes, hope becomes the highest caliber of weapon humanity has in the face of danger.”
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