Stardragon Strategic Defense Division, also known as Division 13.
Han Xiao's mind was racing.
Old Man Lu was none other than the key character in the secret questline, and Han Xiao had come here to meet him.
However, what Han Xiao had not expected was running into the tall old man here. This old man was an important figure in Stardragon, and Han Xiao knew that there was no point in trying to hide his identity from him.
Han Xiao's original plan had been to gain Division 13's trust before revealing himself. He intended to do so by feeding them with anonymous intel on the Germinal Organization. However, that was no longer possible.
To have to reveal himself to Division 13 so soon had certainly not been a part of Han Xiao's calculations, but Han Xiao was not rigid in his thinking.
Since remaining hidden was no longer an option, he might as well reveal himself and demonstrate his value to them. Like they say, the enemy of an enemy is a friend; Han Xiao and Stardragon shared common ground.
Fortunately, he was now in the city; if he had been exposed before entering, it would have put himself in an unfavorable position to negotiate.
Furthermore, the unexpected turn of events might prove to be a good thing instead. The tall old man was extremely influential, so gaining his trust would give him quite the head start.
"What test?" he asked Old Man Lu in response.
Old Man Lu looked around as he tried to come up with something. Suddenly, his eyes lit up. Pointing towards the tall old man's missing arm, he said, "Make him a prosthetic limb. If it satisfies him, you pass."
"Why drag me into this?" The tall old man was confused, but he quickly understood Old Man Lu's intentions from his subtle winks.
"Grandpa, you're too much! What if you scare him away? Every day, all you do is drink, play chess, and go for strolls. When was the last time you actually bothered to help out with the business? Can't I even get a helper?"
Lu Qian was disgruntled, but her words fell on deaf ears. Old Man Lu ignored her as he looked at Han Xiao for a reply.
For some reason though, Han Xiao seemed amused.
"Are you sure you want me to make a prosthetic arm that satisfies him?" he asked to clarify.
"If you're scared then leave!"
"I accept," Han Xiao happily agreed to the task.
He still had the [Bionic Arm] blueprints that sat gathering dust in his inventory! Not only was Old Man Lu's request too simple for Han Xiao, it even presented him with the opportunity to curry favor with the tall old man! For some reason, everything seemed to be going well for Han Xiao, as though someone was looking out for him.
"You only have three hours; I don't have the time to wait an entire day," Old Man Lu snorted.
"Grandpa!" Lu Qian exclaimed in protest.
Creating a bionic limb was not a straightforward task. Measurements first had to be taken, followed by designing, and lastly crafting. Designing alone would take hours, and while using a workbench would speed up much of the crafting process, that would still take another two hours! It was completely unfair!
However, Han Xiao, was not flustered at all. He whipped out a measuring tape and asked the tall old man politely, "Senior, may I?"
The tall old man removed his outerwear without fuss. He observed Han Xiao thoughtfully as his measurements were taken. To remain calm and confident despite being pressed so was praiseworthy, he thought.
'But why would the Germinal Organization lay a million dollar bounty on him?'
Yes, the tall old man indeed recognized Han Xiao. The Germinal Organization's issuing of a bounty had caused a huge commotion in the underworld and this resulted in Han Xiao's face becoming well known. Such news did not escape his ears.
'Looks like there's some corrupt guards again,' he concluded from Han Xiao's presence here in the city.
'Why did Han Xiao come to the Western Capital?
'Does he pose a threat to Stardragon?'
These were the questions on the tall old man's mind. He decided to continue observing Han Xiao for now.
While Old Man Lu did not know anything about the infamous Zero, he had his reason for wanting to chase Han Xiao away. A seasoned veteran himself, he was able to sense that Han Xiao had killed before. He simply wanted to avoid trouble where he could.
"Looks like Old Lu is leaving it to me," thought the tall old man as the pair exchanged glances.
As soon as Han Xiao finished taking measurements, Lu Qian offered him her help.
"Tell me your concept. We can draw up the plans together to save time."
"No need, I already have the perfect design," declined Han Xiao unexpectedly.
"Only two minutes?"
Lu Qian's eyes were wide with disbelief.
"Your bragging might even reach the moon!"
Old Man Lu burst out in laughter. To come up with a complete blueprint in just two minutes was an impossible task even for him, what more a kid like Han Xiao?
Han Xiao passed a list of the materials and tools he needed to Lu Qian, who swiftly went to fetch everything. However, she did not hold much hope for Han Xiao as the test was simply absurd and unfair.
Han Xiao started to use the pressing machine to shape metals into shapes and parts. He planned to use an aluminum alloy as the core material of the arm as aluminum alloys were light, yet sturdy, but also easy to shape. Having parts like screws, rivets, and chains readily provided saved him a lot of time.
[Basic Machinery Affinity] gave Han Xiao keen intuition for the composition of machines. For a second, it seemed to him like the parts themselves came to life, as though they were excited at the prospect of being assembled into a machine. A mechanic's affinity and skills with machines was extremely important. Each level in [Basic Machinery Affinity] improved production quantity as well as crafting speed by 1%.
A top-class bionic limb could be operated simply by thought, and would be functionally indiscernible from a real limb. The prosthetic arm of the Winter Soldier was a strengthened version of such a limb. However, the installation of such a prosthetic would require surgery, as well as the 'Control' talents of [Basic Electromagnetism] and [Nerve Integration].
With cybernetics, it was possible to replace any part of the body, except the brain, with machines to turn a person into a cyborg that relies not on physical stamina and bio-energy, but modular upgrades and replacements instead. Although a cyborg wouldn't need to eat or drink to survive, and could live much longer than a normal human, the loss of one's human senses would gradually make a cyborg susceptible to manipulation and eventually cause them to lose their sense of self. While this could be prevented by implementing thought programming and logic parameters to immunize one against external influences, they would then lose their freedom of thought instead. More advanced civilizations used this method to produce cannon fodder.
A voice-controlled prosthetic could also be made with the 'Control' talent, [Basic Acoustics]. Mechanics were a multi-layered class that was able to utilize all sorts of knowledge to create different versions of tools for the same purpose.
Presently, though, Han Xiao was not that far advanced as a mechanic, and his concept was very simple; he was using the Lightweight Mechanical Arm as a model for his prosthetic. He planned to incorporate its dynamics and chains into his prosthetic for realistic movement. Unlike the Lightweight Mechanical Arm, however, it would run on clean batteries instead of smoke-causing fuel.
Old Man Lu watched Han Xiao as he enjoyed a bottle of beer. He couldn't wait to see him make a fool of himself.