The First Order

Chapter 1223 The Go Game On Mt. Ginkgo

Chapter 1223 The Go Game On Mt. Ginkgo

The decision of whether to save Dusk or Luo Lan did not actually matter.

Ren Xiaosu had said humans could live on equal terms with artificial intelligence, so Zero used this question to tell Ren Xiaosu, "Actually, to you, Dusk and Luo Lan are already not equal beings."

In fact, Zero was not expecting to get any answers at all. It only wanted Ren Xiaosu to reflect on the answer he had in mind.

If one day, humans discovered that the artificial intelligence was sapient and had the ability to threaten humans, how would they view it?

But Ren Xiaosu actually did not want to know what the future held. He was only concerned about one thing now, and that was he might not have any more time.

Zero pursued him for a long time using Dusk before suddenly stopping to talk with him.

What worried Ren Xiaosu the most was that Zero was fearless when chatting with him. It was no longer worried he would rush to the Central Plains.

At this moment, Luo Lan was about to arrive at Stronghold 61. They were only a river away from the Wang Consortium's political center.

Including Luo Lan, Zhou Qi, Xu Man, and Third Brother Qing, there was also a group of 180 elite troops who came along. They decided to take a short rest before crossing the river.

Everyone felt a sense of nervousness. It was as though a tiger's den lay in front of them.

"What's the name of this river?" Luo Lan asked Zhou Qi.

"The Qianling River." Zhou Qi knew the entire river system of the Alliance of Strongholds like the back of his hand. "The upper reaches of the Qianling River are connected to the snowy mountains in the Northwest, so every July, there's flooding here. The waves are like an azure dragon rolling in the river. In the early years, there were even big shots from the Central Plains who came here to watch the tide. About eight or nine years ago, I encountered them when I was exploring the waterways. At that time, I hid in the river and knocked down several of them with a wave!"

At this point, a smug look appeared on Zhou Qi's face.

Luo Lan did not know whether to laugh or cry. Why did it feel like Zhou Qi had just been messing around with his superpower since he awakened? Why was he always making trouble like split-streaming his pee or knocking people down with waves every other day?

Next to them, Third Brother Qing smilingly said with a sigh, "If only I had a superpower too. Sometimes, Zhou Qi, I really envy you guys. There's so many more possibilities in life for people like you."

A steel bridge spanned the Qianling River. The bridge looked very new and was probably built by the Wang Consortium to facilitate trade with the Northwest.

Standing at this end of the bridge, Luo Lan could vaguely see the towering walls of Stronghold 61.

He suddenly said to Third Brother Qing, "After crossing the bridge, it's hard to say if we can make it back alive. It's still not too late to regret things now."

"Since you guys aren't afraid, why should I be?" Qing Shen said with a smile.

"I've always been a little puzzled. Why did you come to the Southwest?" Luo Lan asked curiously, "At first, I thought you brought with you some kind of conspiracy. But now, you've willingly volunteered to die. What are you really after?"

Qing Shen smiled and said, "Didn't I already say I was won over by Qing Zhen's charm, so I came to seek refuge with him?"

"Who are you trying to fool?" Luo Lan curled his lips. "It's fine if you don't want to tell me. If we really die here this time, you can take your secret with you to the grave. Oh, wait, we might die without a grave."

"Why are you so pessimistic?" Third Brother Qing laughed.

"It's not like you don't know what we're here for." Luo Lan said, "Once the plan is implemented, fate will decide whether we live or die."

This time, Luo Lan and company did not come to Stronghold 61 for any peace talks. Rather, they had other plans.

And from the look of things, the plan was even a very dangerous one.

Third Brother Qing suddenly asked, "How did Qing Zhen become the Qing Consortium's Shadow back then? The Pyro Company investigated for a long time without finding any relevant information, and no one from the Qing Consortium ever revealed anything to the rest of the world."

When Luo Lan heard this, he chuckled. "Of course those old fogeys won't tell anyone the reason, but neither Qing Zhen nor I expected him to become the organization's Shadow."

Third Brother Qing's interest was piqued. "Tell me about it?"

"You should know that the members of the Qing Consortium have to make a trip up Mt. Ginkgo once they reach the age of 18." Luo Lan said, "Of course, an illegitimate child like me definitely can't go up there."

"I know about that. Usually, members of the Qing Consortium reach their crossroads at the age of 18. Basically, their futures are decided with a word from those old fogeys of the Qing Consortium's Board." Third Brother Qing nodded and said, "It's no secret that all members of the Qing Consortium are tested on their political, military, and social management skills when they make that trip up the mountain."

"Mhm, initially, no one thought highly of Qing Zhen the day he went up that mountain. They all felt he would continue being marginalized like our old man was." Luo Lan said, "But that was the truth. Those old fogeys were originally planning to brush him off with a few words before chasing him down the mountain."

"So those people did not intend to place Qing Zhen in an important role at the beginning?" Third Brother Qing asked.

"That's right." Luo Lan said with a smile, "A lot of people thought those old fogeys were great judges of people and could tell at a glance whether one would be successful in the future. Pfft, that was just a way to get rid of the dissidents. Those who were close to their faction were guaranteed success, while those who were not got marginalized. That's all there was to it."

"Then how did Qing Zhen get placed in an important role?" Third Brother Qing asked.

"Not long after our old man passed away, the two of us suffered a lot of disdain and humiliation because we tried to raise money for his treatment. At that time, Qing Zhen took the rare initiative to tell me that we had to have power in order to protect the people and things around us. We had to seize the opportunity when he went up to Mt. Ginkgo." Luo Lan said, "You also know he's not someone who desires power. However, he's different from our old man. He wasn't stuck in the old ways, and he knew when and what he should do."

Luo Lan continued, "So when he realized those old fogeys of the Qing Consortium's Board were patronizing him, he took the initiative to ask for a game of Go with them."


There were more than a dozen people on the Qing Consortium's Board, but only one person truly wielded authority. When the other party heard Qing Zhen wanted to play Go, he nearly laughed out loud. That was because that person was known as the "Reincarnated Stone Buddha" in the Qing Consortium. Legend had it that he was extremely capable at Go. He never played any delightful moves but always won by half a point.

In other words, it meant every move he played was only slightly better than his opponent's, and that was enough for him to win the game.

During the Go game that day, Qing Zhen was indeed suppressed in all aspects. The person in charge of the Qing Consortium sat cross-legged like a Buddha statue like he couldn't be defeated.

However, Qing Zhen returned from the brink on the 92nd move and suddenly opened up a bloody path from the top left corner, forcefully tearing his way across the Go board.

From thereon out, the game was completely under Qing Zhen's control.

Third Brother Qing nodded and said, "So that's how it was. Qing Zhen changed the other party's opinion with just one game of Go. The other party's Go skills must have been very strong to actually suppress Qing Zhen."

"That's not how it was." Luo Lan chuckled. "When Qing Zhen came back, he told me the old man's Go skills stunk. The hearsay of him not playing delightful moves yet always being able to win by half a point was only because the people who played Go with him did not dare to win. To think he could still brag about that!"

Luo Lan continued, "After that game of Go, the other party really changed his opinion of Qing Zhen. He welcomed his loss after dominating for so long. It's just that Qing Zhen and I initially only wanted to be in a small position of authority, but we didn't expect that old fogey would actually choose him to be the consortium's Shadow."

No Qing Consortium Shadow had ever met with a good end. It was like a curse. Moreover, the Shadow had to do all the dirty work others were unwilling to do. This was clearly not what Qing Zhen and Luo Lan were expecting.

No matter how powerful the Shadow was, it was not a role Qing Zhen pursued.

A lot of people thought it was a good thing the old fogeys had chosen Qing Zhen as their Shadow. However, only Qing Zhen himself knew it was down to convenience that he was chosen for the role. That was because he and Luo Lan had no roots in the organization anymore and could be cast aside at a whim.

But at that time, Qing Zhen no longer had the option to back down.

At this moment, Xu Man said, "Boss Luo, I'll ask for a fire to be made so we can start cooking. We'll cross the river after we're done eating. There's something I have to warn everyone about. After we enter the stronghold, we must only eat the food we brought with us. We'll even have to drink our own fresh water to prevent the Wang Consortium from tampering with our food."

"You sure are cautious." Luo Lan chuckled and said, "Don't worry, we're already in the Wang Consortium's territory. I don't believe Wang Shengzhi will resort to poisoning us."

Xu Man insisted, "This was instructed by Mr. Qing Zhen. Moreover, the Wang Consortium has a record of assassinating their opponents."

"Alright." Luo Lan smacked his lips. "You people have really learned how to use my younger brother to pressure me. Xu Man, you're really something."

Xu Man said calmly, "I'm just following--"

"Alright, alright, hurry up and go cook." Luo Lan waved him off. "I'm not gonna argue with you on this."

Translated by: Legge

Edited by: weirdo

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