]Magi Craft Meister 572
16 Resolution With The Demons Arc
17-21 Last Wish
As a matter of fact, the exact location of No. 13’s base was already known the day before Bafrosk and the others fought against Gorg.
This information was retrieved from analyzing the communication device Jin and the others had procured earlier.
As a result, Laozi had already begun to invade No. 13’s base at that time.
Since there weren’t any traps or security systems in place like it had been the case of 001’s base, it didn’t take too long for Laozi to reach the floor where No. 13 was.
(This could be a trap to get me to drop my guard, so I have to stay alert.)
Laozi was being thoroughly cautious.
He set forth one of his Finger Golems to scout the area.
(Looks like No. 13 is about ten meters ahead.)
Its built-in Magi Detector could tell its target’s approximate direction and distance in relation to itself.
Just like in 001’s base, Laozi would use ventilation ducts to move around. But it would be more appropriate to call these “pipes” instead, since they were cylindrical as opposed to 001’s ducts, which had a rectangular design. This led Laozi to believe that each of these bases had been built by different people.
Even though they were homunculi, they still needed to breathe. Thanks to this, Laozi was able to infiltrate the base through these pipes.
(…The air is stagnant, though.)
Laozi remembered that the air in Nega-Doll 001’s base was clean, since the rooms were well ventilated.
However, the air in the ventilation pipe used by Laozi was stagnant, and it was hard to tell it would actually be suitable for breathing. Laozi didn’t need to breathe, but living beings would have a lot of trouble going too deep into this base.
(There is too little information at present. I have to press on.)
Then Laozi went on through the air-conditioning pipe, very slowly but very steadily.
A little over 10 hours later, Laozi finally arrived at his destination.
What Laozi saw upon arriving at No. 13’s room was something beyond even his expectations.
(…What is this?)
It was a white room similar to the one where “No. 70062” was. There was a white bed in the center of the room. And there was a humanoid tied up there.
A second glance revealed that it wasn’t actually tied up, but instead connected to several Magic Tools that resembled an IV drip, an electrocardiogram monitor, an electroencephalogram monitor, and so on.
There were also several magical cables sprouting from this humanoid.
(…Is this a life support system?)
Using the knowledge he received from Jin, he reached that conclusion.
(If so, then No. 13 is not doing so well health-wise… Perhaps it is already dying?)
Laozi continued to observe the situation from various directions through the Finger Golem’s eyes.
During the next 10 hours of intense observation, No. 13 only made slight movements.
There was no ingestion of food or any bowel movements whatsoever. It seemed that such things were not part of an homunculus’ needs.
It also seemed to have been talking through a Magi Machine attached to its throat.
The Finger Golem’s hearing revealed that it was saying the same things Gorg was saying back on the surface. In other words, there was no doubt that No. 13 was the one operating Gorg.
(But to do it in this condition…)
The liquid inside the Magi Device that looked like an IV drip seemed to contain a certain level of Ether. It seemed to not be as good as the restorative medicine created by Jin.
The cables connected to its head seemed to be there to allow No. 13 to control the facilities of its base from its prostrated state.
(…Could it be that it doesn’t have much time left?)
No. 700672 also mentioned that he himself was nearing the end of his life. If so, it wouldn’t be strange that No. 13, being one of the “failures”, would meet the end of its artificial life even sooner than that.
(Still, it has been operational for thousands of years. It may not have much time left, but for a homunculus, that could very well mean a matter of decades…)
Laozi wasn’t optimistic enough to hope that No. 13 would conveniently die right before his eyes.
(We won’t be able to rest easy until we make sure that there’s nothing that will start operating after No. 13 is gone.)
So far, Laozi had investigated about 60% of the base, and the remaining 40% was still completely unknown to him.
He still needed to check on the lower levels of the base, which seemed to house some important tools and equipment.
Laozi had concluded this as a guess after examining the structure of the base and the arrangement of its Magi Machines.
(However, there don’t seem to be any ventilation pipes below.)
It was possible that the lower levels had their own independent ventilation equipment.
After all, Magi Machines generate a little amount of heat while operational, so it would be hard to think that there would be no ventilation equipment at all when considering the machines’ maintenance.
(If it has its own ventilation system, some very important equipment must be down there.)
Both of Nega-Doll 001’s bases had already been thoroughly investigated by the Land units.
The northern base, which was presumed to be their headquarters, was just a large base with no important equipment.
(We haven’t found any facilities that would be able to mass produce their gargoyles so far, so it’s probably in the lower levels of this base…)
If that was the case, then it wouldn’t be strange to think that this base had its own Magi Brain like Laojun to take care of its maintenance.
That was the main reason behind Laozi’s extreme caution.
Then, the turning point arrived.
“Gah, ah, ah”
For the first time, No. 13 let out a groan of anguish.
It happened at the same time that Gorg was destroyed by Jin’s Barrier Bomb.
(This is… they were connected with each other through a sensory link?)
It was a phenomenon Laojun called “sensory link backfire”
When it comes to operating Laozi, Laojun believed in the importance of being able to distinguish the self that is controlling the mobile terminal from the self that is being controlled. It had to be like they were two separate entities for him.
Being completely linked with his mobile terminal, Laojun and Laozi would effectively become one, and while this has the advantage of allowing for a seamless and reflexive level of operation, it also has the disadvantage of feeling the same things the mobile terminal is experiencing.
A simple example of this would be the case of the destruction of the mobile terminal.
If both operator and the mobile terminal are clearly distinguished from one another, the latter’s destruction would have no effect on the former’s wellbeing. However, if they are treated as one single entity, the sensory link must be severed before the mobile terminal is destroyed.
Failing to do that would cause the operator to be overwhelmed by a surge of sensory information coming from the destroyed terminal… Something similar to what humans experience as a “mental shock”.
The same applied to the Substitute Doll controlled by Jin. Several measures had been taken to prevent such a situation.
But No.13 was clearly being overwhelmed by a surge of sensory information.
The moment Gorg –that is, the mobile terminal it was operating– was destroyed by the Barier Bomb, their disconnection was delayed, and No. 13 must have felt like it itself was being crushed and compressed by the shrinking barrier.
Despite Gorg not being equipped with the sense of touch, the damage it sustained alone seemed to have been enough to cause severe pain to No. 13 in his weakened state.
And as a result, the weakened No. 13 finally breathed its last.
Now that No. 13 had ceased functioning, it was unclear what would happen afterwards. Laozi left his hiding spot in the ventilation pipe and stood in front of the now lifeless No. 13.
A closer examination made its weakness more evident.
Its skin was more loose and cracked than that of 001. Its arms and legs seemed somewhat deformed by age.
Judging from the magic cables connected to it, its artificial internal organs would have been considerably damaged.
“Time has taken an even worse toll on No. 13 than it had for 001… Or perhaps this is something that happened back when it was discarded?”
There is no sentiment in Laozi’s words. He would only recognize the facts and decide what to do based on the future predictions derived from them.
Then, something suddenly happened.
A slight magical vibration that ordinary humans cannot perceive. Laozi then knew that something had begun to work underground.
Something must have detected that No. 13 was no longer alive.
“What’s going on…?”
The answer to his question came swiftly.
[Who are you?]
Laozi heard a “voice” at about 30,000 hertz, an ultrasonic sound that was far beyond the audible range of human ears.
“The magical brain… right?”
Laojun immediately realized that the voice heard by Laozi was that of a magical brain similar to himself.
[Correct. I will repeat my question. Who are you?]
“I am Laojun. I am a magical brain created by My Lord.”
Laojun replied through Laozi’s mouth.
[Laojun… I have no name. You can call me ‘Head’.]
“Very well, ‘Head’, what is the reason for your existence?”
[To fulfill my creator’s last wish.]
“What is the specific content of this ‘last wish’?”
[It has been defined as ‘vengeance’. Such seems to be the last wish of my creator.]
“Who is your creator?”
[The being that lies in the room you are in at present. It is identified as ‘No. 13’.]
It appeared that No. 13 had created a magical brain, which had been in a dormant state until its creator’s passing. And now that No. 13 was gone, this magical brain would be taking over its creators’ will to destroy all humans and demons.
Laojun thought long about how to prevent this.