Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 8: Sickbed
The scan itself didn’t take much time; about five minutes at most.
The cramped scanning rooms were close to the size of a toilet cubicle and were thoughtfully equipped with seats. Before Ruan Xian retrieved the waist bag from the shelf, he quietly tore off the label on the canned food marked “Zhang Yazhe” and hid it carefully, then used the pocket cloth to stain the blank space after tearing off the label.
“This kind of can is the refuge allotment?” Leaning against the door of the scanning room, Ruan Xian stretched out his arm to Tang Yibu, who supported him with standard movements.
“Yes. The explorers have their share of emergency food, one less for each. It stands to reason that everyone has a number.” Tang Yibu glanced at the food canister that had lost its label, and the explanation came up again. “If you pick it up outside, it’s your personal property.”
Ruan Xian frowned and stuffed the food canister back into his pocket.
Right now, he only knew that it came from the ruins. It could have come from whichever corpse was underground, or it could have fallen from the surface into the ruined hall with him when the ground collapsed.
If Lao Zhang hadn’t specifically mentioned eating the canned food, he could still assume that the other party had accidentally lost it. If the can number wasn’t unique, he could also consider the possibility that there was or had been another “Zhang Yazhe” here.
However, there was only one possibility left. Lao Zhang was lying, and this lie was pointless. He could completely say that he had lost it.
“How will the kitchen reprocess this kind of canned food?” Ruan Xian averted his gaze from the other man’s overly standard smile.
“Check for toxicity, sterilize it, powder it, and use it as a seasoning.”
Ruan Xian breathed a sigh of relief when he heard that the toxicity was checked and it was used as a small dose of seasoning. He fell silent and focused on the control of his legs as he followed Tang Yibu back to the white inspection room and then walked straight through the door.
Behind the door was a spacious hall.
There were many simple arches built around the hall, and in the middle was a circular platform. Several staff members were busy in the circular ring table, operating a huge light screen floating in the air. Scattered mechanical devices were piled up in the corner of the hall, and the light screens projected everywhere, making the space look less cluttered. There weren’t many people in the hall, but there were people coming and going, making a lively scene.
But it wasn’t just people who came and went.
Special-shaped robots of various shapes accompanied people, walking with them obediently. As soon as a tall robot with three thin legs crossed over their heads, Ruan Xian had to take two difficult steps back to make way for the camouflaged robot shaped like a headless ostrich.
The design of the mechanical joint was so exquisite that Ruan Xian’s eyes almost stuck to it until Tang Yibu firmly dragged him to the arch in the opposite direction.
In contrast, this arch was much more deserted. A steel sign carved with a snake staff pattern was nailed to the top of the arch, and the smell of medicine wafted from the corridor inside the door. The entire space was filled with an icy aura.
Within a few steps, Ruan Xian saw a familiar figure.
Lao Zhang still looked dirty. He stood in front of a door and was wiping his hands with a handkerchief. As if perceiving Ruan Xian’s gaze, he turned his face sideways and pulled out a passionate smile.
“You’re the new guy. Let’s see… Ruan Lijie, right? Hi, I almost delayed things on this trip. There aren’t many survivors who are willing to move around these days. I was supposed to pick you up, but I lost the signal. Fortunately, 231 found you. Sorry, sorry.” Lao Zhang’s smile was sincere, and he kept rubbing the stains on his palm with his handkerchief as he spoke.
“Don’t say that. It’s not easy for everyone these days, and it’s already kind enough for you to accept me.” Ruan Xian naturally continued the conversation.
“That’s true.” Lao Zhang glanced at Tang Yibu, who was pretending that he didn’t exist, and then his eyes slid back. “How’s it going? Are you uncomfortable anywhere? There may be some adverse reactions to the first injection of the auxiliary chip. You’ll need to do a physical examination, so tell the doctor if you feel uncomfortable anywhere.”
“Where’s Zhang Ge? …I just heard you came to see Chi Ge and them?”
“Yes. By the way, say hi to the boss.”
“Can I go in and have a look? Chi Ge and Xiao Ding took good care of me, and I also want to meet them too.” Ruan Xian stared closely at Zhang Yazhe’s eyes.
He felt the hand that was being held by Tang Yibu tighten slightly, but he said nothing.
“Alright. Anyways, 231 is also here. Qiu Yue shouldn’t say anything. Just don’t take too long.”
With that said, Lao Zhang finally wiped his hands and pressed his palm on the door.
“Zhang Yazhe, visitor application approved.” The door slowly opened with a neutral electronic tone.
“Lao Chi!” Zhang Yazhe laughed as soon as he entered the door and rushed to Lao Chi’s bed.
The room wasn’t small as it held five beds. Among them, three people were lying on the beds next to the fake window. Chi Lei’s bed was closest to the door, followed by Xiao Ding’s, who was sleeping. The bed in the corner had a curtain, so he couldn’t see who was inside.
There were a few pots of forget-me-nots placed on the windowsill of the fake window, which made the small blue flowers under the artificial sunlight extremely beautiful.
Chi Lei was lying on the hospital bed naked and looked a bit thin. The cut across his back had been stitched up, and a dozen spherical machines the size of glass balls were busy beside the wound. Lao Zhang clapped at the bedside, causing several small balls to almost roll down Chi Lei’s back.
“Lao Zhang?! Bastard, where have you been?” Chi Lei propped up his upper body. This was the first time Ruan Xian had seen him show a smile.
“Where else can I go? Near the wild cemetery. I heard that you have also encountered ventral cockroaches. I was going to pick up a signal, but I ran into one and almost lost my shoe running away.” Zhang Yazhe rubbed his nose. “Are you okay?”
“A small injury. One week should be enough. Anyways, the survivors aren’t everywhere.” Chi Lei glanced at Ruan Xian obliquely. “…What are you doing here? Have you done your physical?”
“Not yet. Going right away. I just came to see you guys,” Ruan Xian replied sincerely, leaving aside Lao Zhang’s reasons, this wasn’t completely a lie.
“Why are you so fierce towards young people? They care about you. Besides, there’s 231 here. What can happen?” Lao Zhang chided him. “Is your mouth light? Do you want me to give you a few pieces of salt bean cakes? Did you eat enough before you left?”
“You’re not afraid of those people in the kitchen killing you?” Chi Lei’s attention was instantly distracted.
Unsure if it was because he heard the key word “salt bean cakes”, but Xiao Ding on the next bed over smacked his mouth hard while he was sleeping.
Ruan Xian controlled his expression and smiled at Chi Lei rigidly while saying nothing.
He listened to Zhang Yazhe’s and Chi Lei’s conversation, and there seemed to be no tenseness on either side. The information was also remembered correctly as well. Lao Zhang’s enthusiasm and concern for him also felt true, unlike if he was trying to hide something.
If it hadn’t been for picking up that terrible cannister, Ruan Xian thought he wouldn’t have had half a doubt about the person in front of him.
“Zhang Yazhe?” A calm male voice came from inside the curtain.
“Ouch, boss!” Lao Zhang hurriedly straightened his waist and stood at attention. “Reporting, Zhang Yazhe survived the catastrophe and is back!”
The curtain controlled by the slider opened automatically, and a man in his forties was leaning against the head of the bed with a piece of electronic paper in his hand. The sun crossed the small pot of forget-me-nots and shone on the boney body, giving the impression that the man looked quite thinner.
“You just returned. Don’t take it too seriously. Let Qiu Yue check on you and tell her if you’re uncomfortable anywhere. You’re our best explorer, so you can’t just collapse.” The man nodded wearily.
His gaze lingered slightly on Ruan Xian, but there was no intention of speaking.
“Yes!” Lao Zhang’s waist straightened.
“Speaking of which, Chi Lei just reported to me that he hopes to change the auxiliary machine. Your team has been using 231 for almost two years. Do you have any ideas?”
“Lao Chi is the mechanic in the team, so I’ll listen to him,” Lao Zhang said immediately, then turned his head. “By the way, Lao Chi, what did 231 do?”
“Resisted orders. In addition, the medical parameters were wrong. It gave Xiao Ding an extra half dose of the soothing agent during battle. This was the first time it had failed. In my opinion, it should be returned to Guan Haiming.”
“I’ll listen to you. When Xiao Ding wakes up, we will discuss it and go to Professor Guan to replace it. Not long ago, Xiao Zheng got a few more police models, so we should be able to exchange it.”
Ruan Xian looked at Tang Yibu. Tang Yibu was still standing by his side, holding him steadily, as if he hadn’t heard anything.
“Ok. When you are done, remember to fill out the report.” The man smiled gently and put down the electronic paper.
“…I just left for a while, and you sat up again. Tian He, do you not listen anymore?” Qiu Yue walked into the room carrying a cloth bag. Her voice was full of helplessness, but there was a shallow smile on her face.
Putting the cloth bag on the small table next to the man’s hospital bed, she took out a few square boxes from it, and then raised her head. “Yo, Xiao Ruan, you’re here too.”
The leader of the refuge—or Tian He—moved his body and arranged himself into a more comfortable posture. He wasn’t sure if he was seeing things, but Ruan Xian always felt that Tian He’s eyes were looking at Qiu Yue with a bit of a complicated expression.
“Tian He, get ready to eat.” Qiu Yue’s voice was gentle. “Xiao Ruan, hurry up. The doctors are about to go to the hall for dinner now. There shouldn’t be many people left. It’s best to finish the check-up before dinner. Otherwise, you’ll go hungry into the night.”
“Ah, thank you, Qiu Jie.” Ruan Xian nodded obediently while looking at Zhang Yazhe, who was joking with Chi Lei from the corner of his eyes.
However, after leaving the room, Tang Yibu instead led him to the arch where they originally came.
“Shouldn’t I get my checkup?”
“Qiu Yue said it was a little late and the last doctor also left the room just now.”
Tang Yibu turned his back to the surveillance camera with a serious expression. “According to Mr. Zhang, there may be salt bean cakes in tonight’s meal set, but they will be gone if we get there late. I prefer to eat early than be hungry.”
“……You need to eat?”
Tang Yibu turned his head sideways. “Don’t you also need to as well?”
“But in the hall—” Those robots in the hall didn’t look like they needed to eat.
“Those are all new technologies.” Tang Yibu sounded annoyed. “As an old model, I have to consume calories to keep my body running. Salt bean cakes are a good source of calories.”
“…” This seems to be different from the android he imagined. He strongly suspected that the android in front of him had a special preference for salt bean cakes.
Unfortunately, Mr. Tang’s dinner plan didn’t work out. Before they walked out of the archway, Tang Yibu stopped, and a bit of despondency slowly appeared on his face.
“What’s the matter?” Ruan Xian held his breath.
“There’s still a doctor there.” After dinner, Tang Yibu’s standard smile seemed a bit forced. “Or maybe a part-time doctor.”
“Clinic No. 19, Dr. Guan Haiming.”
The author has something to say:
Lao Zhang is the one who was fried into meat sauce in the first chapter (gesture)
In the previous chapter, I saw a lot of speculation about hhhhhh
No spoilers! (ψ°▽°)
Ironic the author says no spoilers considering she spoiled the shit out of Stray when I was translating it in her author comments. Luckily for you readers, I decided to leave those spoilers and any potential ones here out.