“That nucleus control device is terrifying,” Guan Ling hugged himself, his heart still palpitating from fear as he spoke, “Even though we’re so far away, I still felt my mind freeze. I felt like I couldn’t even use my starting skills. If we were right in front of that device, we’d probably be done for.”
Xing Ye didn’t speak. He leaned on the stone wall and rested, easing the stiff feeling that the nucleus control device caused.
Cao Qian’s tolerance was a bit stronger than the two men, but it didn’t mean she didn’t feel uncomfortable. All the raggy bits from her matchstick head had fallen off. If she had a human body, it was equivalent to losing all her hair.
“Isn’t getting this perfect ending too hard?” Guan Ling asked, “The city lord’s about to attack Benedict. At that time, all Benedict has to do is push the button on his device and the whole platoon would be finished.”
Xing Ye nodded, “Yeah, so we can’t let things reach that stage. First of all, we need to stop the city lord from coming here with his soldiers. Our QR codes and starting abilities can still be used against him.
Although the little puppet doesn’t have a heart yet, he still has a nucleus and is affected by the nucleus control device. That’s probably why Benedict never attacked Puppet City despite having such a powerful device- the range of the device is too wide, so he’s worried about causing irreversible harm to the little puppet.
The little puppet is Puppet City’s protective charm. If he leaves, the consequences will be inconceivable.”
“But just stopping the city lord isn’t enough, right?” Cao Qian asked, “Unless Benedict gives up, Puppet City will always be threatened by the nucleus control device.”
Xing Ye said, “I remember Coco said that she believed Benedict wants to install the little puppet’s heart in Puppet City, so what we need to do is grab Benedict out of the mines and bring him to Puppet City.”
Guan Ling stared at Xing Ye impatiently, “Boss, are you sure that’s possible? Those mechanical robots aren’t a problem, but that nucleus control device… Why is the boss always so hard to beat? If we don’t have a special QR code, we can’t beat it?”
That was the case with Bai Xu in the previous world. Back then, when Guan Ling was facing the brain-eating demon before Xing Ye used Peaceful Spirit’s Tune, Bai Xu was so strong that she just completely ignored Guan Ling’s QR codes and almost tore him apart. Guan Ling was forced to restore his body twice and use all his QR codes to activate Losing the Family Fortune until he finally managed to escape.
“I think the final boss is the strongest because of this world’s rules. Players like us have to follow the restrictions of this world’s rules.” XIng Ye conjectured, “If we weren’t puppets, we’d have no fear of the nucleus control device. However, the precondition to entering this world was turning into a puppet and so, to us, the nucleus control device becomes our natural suppressor. That’s how the world’s rules affect us.”
“Why would the system do that?” Guan Ling scratched the fake hair on his head, “Can’t they just give us a boss that we can one shot with enough QR codes? Why does every world have to make us struggle on the verge of death?”
“You can one shot the bosses in the surface ending, but you’ll only get 100 points. After winning 500 surface endings, you can become a high level player. It’ll take ten years, and during that time, you can’t let others kill you or you’d lose half your points. If you don’t try for the true ending or kill other players, you can go through the game worlds for a lifetime.” Xing Ye said.
Guan Ling: “...”
Cao Qian was a bit better than Guan Ling and was still pondering the plot earnestly. She asked, “It actually isn’t that bad. Although the true ending’s difficult, the game always gives us a QR code to get through the hardest part. If we hadn’t used Puppet Play earlier, how would we have used it to resist the nucleus control device?”
Xing Ye answered, “If I guessed right, Puppet Play should’ve been used on ourselves. Puppet Play can control a player’s speech and movements, but still leaves them the ability to think. If we use Puppet Play on ourselves, the nucleus control device shouldn’t be able to control our nucleuses, allowing us to defeat Benedict.
Guan Ling asked, “Then what do we do? It’s all Randy’s fault, if he wasn’t so disgusting, we wouldn't have had to fight him and end up like this.”
Cao Qian said, “It’s not a big deal if we lose. All we would miss out on is a few thousand points, but for Linda, she would fall under the system’s control and become a prop in another world.”
Xing Ye comforted the two, “Don’t worry, we can still get the true ending. I’ve found that in this game, no matter how bad something is, the system always leaves a small thread of hope. It’s just hidden very deeply and requires us to dig for it.
“Let’s split up into groups of two. You and Cao Qian return to the city to stop the city lord’s troops. With your combined strengths, it shouldn’t be a problem, especially with Guan Ling’s identity. You can pretend Old Nect found Benedict had some sort of secret device that breaks puppets and urge the city lord for a strategic retreat. The mirror and I will break the nucleus control device and bring Benedict to Puppet City with the heart.”
Guan Ling was speechless, “... Boss, are you sure you’re not just going to throw away your life?”
Cao Qian pulled Guan Ling back and nodded to Xing Ye, “I know you’re not the type to be foolishly brave. Since you’ve decided so, you must have a way. I believe in you.”
And with that, the little matchstick puppet carried the big iron puppet and sped to the city lord’s army, leaving Xing Ye and the mirror alone.
Xing Ye looked at the mirror, “You weren’t controlled earlier, right?”
“Yeah, I didn’t feel anything. I was even wondering what happened to you guys.” The mirror said, “Could I be the key to getting the true ending?”
Xing Ye nodded, “When Guan Ling mentioned Randy earlier, it reminded me. Say, if he was still here, do you think he could get the true ending?”
The mirror pondered, “Probably, right? He can stop time with his stopwatch before Benedict activates the nucleus control device. That prop’s very powerful, I wonder who the poor following fate player was.”
“You’re also very capable.” Xing Ye held the mirror’s hand, “You’re different from us. The system categorizes you as a prop and props don’t have to become puppets in this world, meaning the nucleus control device doesn’t affect you. The only one who can break the nucleus control device is you.”
“Huh? Me?” The mirror was astonished, “But I can’t use your points and the only prop I can use is this little pistol. Benedict’s mechanical puppets will kill me before I even enter the mines.”
“With the way we are now, definitely not.” Xing Ye opened his wristband and saw their intimacy points were only 70. “But once we reach 80 points, I’ll be able to share my points with you. Intimacy points are probably calculated based on the player that likes the other the least. I don’t know which one between us likes each other more, but we have to like each other more. You probably like me, and I’ll try my best to like you. We can probably raise our intimacy points to 80 in just a few minutes like that.”
The mirror was stupefied, “You, what do you take feelings as? You can’t like somebody just by trying!”
While he was saying that, their intimacy points dropped down to 65.
The mirror’s mood sure liked to jump. His intimacy points came quickly and also went quickly.
Xing Ye said, “For me, there’s no problem. No matter how you look, you’d still be the same quick witted and beautiful you. As long as I set down my guard against the system, my intimacy points will immediately jump to 100.”
The mirror covered his face, embarrassed, “At least you have good taste.”
Their intimacy points immediately jumped up to 75, just a little away from 80.
The mirror said hesitantly, “Even if I can use Otherworldly Beauty, it probably won’t be effective against those mechanical puppets. Otherworldly Beauty’s targets must have their own consciousness. It might be effective against players and wooden puppets, but it won’t work with mechanical puppets. They don’t have a normal sense of aesthetics.”
Xing Ye said, “I wanted to get to 80 intimacy points because I have an idea, not because I needed your starting abilities. To wipe a following fate prop’s consciousness, you have to reach 80 intimacy points, but intimacy points aren’t an average, but the lowest value between the two. In other words, the opposing fate player must also like the following fate player very much. But in that case, why would the opposing fate player do such a ruthless thing as kill them? I believe there has to be some other problem there. Randy never got to 80 intimacy points, so he doesn’t know what happens afterwards.
But don’t you think this game is very unfair? When an opposing fate player meets a following fate prop, although the following fate player is a prop, all the QR codes the opposing fate player obtains goes to the prop. It looks like the opposing fate player holds the advantage, but in fact, they’re only clearing worlds to service the following fate player.
Points and QR codes all go to the prop, while they get nothing. It’s like the following fate prop is a parasite growing on the opposing fate player, absorbing all their nutrients.”
“I’m not a parasite!” The mirror said angrily, “I’ve never been that kind of person!”
As he spoke, their intimacy points fell back down to 65.
Xing Ye had already gotten used to their intimacy points jumping and falling. In any case, it was still above 60, meaning the mirror still liked him. He was just emotional, angry one moment and happy the next. It was very cute.
He comforted him, “I never said you were a parasite, but other players might think like that. I think this is one of the system’s schemes. It uses the imbalance to give the opposing fate player, who had previously been happy to help the following fate player, a misconception: this prop will eventually replace me. I can’t trust him. I have to kill him.
"And what would make the opposing fate player think the prop will replace him? This is my guess-”
Xing Ye pointed at his own wristband, “After 80 intimacy points are reached, points aren’t the only things that’ll be shared. When the time comes, you should be able to use my QR codes as well.”