Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 9: Brain Black Box
“Before the final registration, I only have one question.” Ruan Xian stopped outside the doors of the examination room, and Tang Yibu, who was supporting him, had to stop as well.
The odd android who claimed to be an “old model” tilted his head slightly, indicating he was listening.
“I thought Ding Zepeng and the others saved me in passing, but listening to Zhang Yazhe’s statement just now, they seemed to have an original rescue target. You asked me to replace that person, didn’t you?” Ruan Xian asked in a whisper.
“Yes.” Tang Yibu graciously admitted. “I saw the ventral cockroach devour the man’s body near the ruins. He unfortunately died. That’s why Zhang Yazhe lost the distress signal. There’s no need to worry. He won’t suddenly appear.”
Ruan Xian looked at Tang Yibu with complicated eyes.
The other person did have a handsome human appearance. The pair of golden eyes were like sunlight, serious and focused, but there wasn’t much heat. It was like observing other creatures on the other side of the glass—the distance was close, but there was a sense of incomprehensible detachment.
That wasn’t the look of a “human”.
For the first time, Ruan Xian realized so vividly that he and the other party were two different creatures—that was, if Tang Yibu could be regarded as a certain kind of creature.
His motivation for asking the question was simple—if the survivor who originally needed rescue was still waiting outside, Tang Yibu’s behavior would be tantamount to delaying the rescue. As the beneficiary of this kind of behavior, Ruan Xian didn’t think he could live with such guilt, regardless of himself.
Sighing in his heart, Ruan Xian didn’t respond to Tang Yibu’s words but only acquiesced. He leaned forward, learning from Lao Zhang earlier, and clasped the palm of his right hand on the thick door panel.
“Ruan Lijie. Visitor application approved.” It was the familiar neutral electronic voice again.
As soon as the door opened this time, a deafening fast-paced music almost knocked Ruan Xian head-on.
The examination room in front of him was a bit larger than the ward that he had just seen. If he hadn’t known in advance that this was a medical ward, Ruan Xian would’ve thought he had walked into a mechanic’s grocery store.
About one-third of the space was filled with weird mechanical parts. Huge wooden boxes were stuffed in corners, with all kinds of mechanical moving limbs stuffed inside them, and wires were tangled on the outside. In the maze of parts piled almost to the ceiling, Ruan Xian even saw a few red bubbles. There were naked “human bodies” on the sink. With the loud sound of music, the mechanical limbs on both sides of the door trembled slightly, as if they would collapse at any moment.
A thin figure was working at a desk facing the door.
In view of the fact that there was only this living person was found in the room, Ruan Xian cleared his throat and raised his voice. “Mr. Guan, I’m here to check in for my medical examination.”
The man raised his head.
Guan Haiming was wrapped in an oversized white research coat and was huddled tightly in a chair. His hair was slightly long, his figure was thin, and his complexion was frighteningly pale. He looked less than 30 years old, and his facial features were exquisite, but his too thin face and the black bags under his eyes spoiled his delicateness.
He seemed too lazy to look up as he rolled his eyes to look at Ruan Xian, and then made a tsk.
“Oh, it’s you,” he hummed lazily, reaching out and scratching on the glass table, causing the music to instantly stop.
Rubbing his buzzing ears, Ruan Xian recognized the voice. Not long ago, the owner of this voice was wearing a mechanical mask and gave him an auxiliary chip shot.
“Mr. Guan Haiming, according to the regulations, you should go to dinner now,” Tang Yibu reminded him thoughtfully.
“No. I’m already tired after being forced to stay outside for so long,” Guan Haiming said coldly, shrinking back into his chair.
“Mr. Tian He specially arranged for you to go outside for shifts for the sake of your health,” Tang Yibu continued in a tone without emotional ups or downs.
“I’ll say it again, no need. Since this guy is here to check in for a medical examination, let’s start now.”
Tang Yibu didn’t insist anymore and pulled out a chair like magic from the mechanical pile and motioned for Ruan Xian to sit down.
“The scan results are fine, and there are no lesions or spy machinery in his body. The only suspicious thing is that he’s too healthy.” Guan Haiming lowered his head. The tip of his hair was hanging down to his frighteningly convex collarbone. “According to the report, Chi Lei gave you medication. It seems that he also has doubts. Well, let me see, temporary loss of memory… How much do you remember?”
“I remember that until March 1, 2095, when the world was still normal.” Ruan Xian glanced at Tang Yibu and repeated the modified remarks. “At that time, I was a waiter in a coffee shop.”
“Well, 28 years old. 231 had submitted the report.” Guan Haiming bit his nail. “Considering the current year, the physical age isn’t quite right. Have you ever been exposed to a dormant warehouse?”
“I don’t remember much.” Ruan Xian stared closely at Guan Haiming’s expression.
“If you were 28 years old, you should have a record in the file. Let’s take a look.” Guan Haiming knocked on the glass desktop full of pictures and text, and a light screen jumped into the air. “…Interesting.”
A simple text was displayed in the air, but looking at Ruan Xian’s side, he could only see the screen full of garbled code.
“In 2095, there were 932 Ruan Lijie registered nationwide; 10 people between the ages of 25 and 30, and 2 of them had work experience in coffee shops. There are no traces of plastic surgery on your face, and you don’t match one of them… I think there is a lot of information seriously missing.”
Guan Haiming glanced at the light screen, pulled out a blank input box out of thin air, and threw it at Ruan Xian. “Graduation school. Five names of people at the same level. The name and appearance description of the owner of the coffee shop where you work… In short, it’s the pile of questions above. Write them down.”
Ruan Xian recalled for a moment, took a breath, and tapped quickly on the air keyboard under the input box.
When he woke up twelve years later, he met an inexplicable Tang Yibu. He almost subconsciously used this fake identity to protect himself.
Back then, more and more people cultivated “legal” fake identities from scratch and sold them. In order to test the vulnerability of the identity tracking system, dozens of virtual samples, including “Ruan Lijie”, were put into the system by Ruan Xian as a comparison standard for the program to automatically detect fake identities. In a sense, they were close to the “vaccine” that trained the tracking program.
Some electronic ghosts that only exist in network records but could deceive the monitoring procedures through automatic calculations.
Even if he died, unless someone specifically canceled the authorization, this conventional long-term testing project would continue to operate normally, and the ghosts of these data piles would continue to move forward according to the planned path.
Ruan Lijie’s subsequent “life” trajectory was very peaceful and ordinary, and in all respects the most insignificant setting, which he himself compiled. In order to repeatedly test the probing process, he completed every detail by hand.
He didn’t mind telling the truth about his identity after thoroughly figuring out his own situation and making sure that he could really be safe in the shelter. However, at the moment, Tang Yibu’s surveillance was at the front, and Zhang Yazhe’s abnormal case was in the back, which only made Ruan Xian tighten every nerve.
He didn’t want to repeat his previous mistakes, and now was far from the time.
“There’s nothing wrong with your answer. Combined with the scans and the report of Zhang Yazhe’s squad, you should have entered a dormant warehouse after something happened to the general environment, and then came out half a year to a year later. Certain events have happened recently that have caused you to lose your memory for this period.”
Ruan Xian pursed his lips tightly.
“Don’t be nervous. External stimulation, certain treatments, and even self-resection of memories may achieve this effect. The world has become such that it’s better to forget more things instead. Believe me, you don’t know how many people want to do it all over again and pretend that yesterday’s world was normal. Of course, there are many people who would actually do that.”
Guan Haiming pulled the corners of his mouth and stood up.
“There’s no problem with your scan results. The results from the auxiliary chip have also come out, and all indicators are normal. As long as it’s determined you’re not an android and can’t die for the time being, my mission is over.”
“Can scanning determine whether a person is an android?” Ruan Xian asked, masking his question unintentionally.
“Coupled with the results of the auxiliary chip, the accuracy is almost 100%, unless those legendary units are willing to stoop down to our level. Any more questions? Now you can go.” Guan Haiming waved his hand impatiently, eyeing the place where the music icon was floating on his glass desktop.
However, Zhang Yazhe passed the scan and was also injected with an auxiliary chip.
Ruan Xian adjusted his breathing. “What exactly is the auxiliary chip for?”
“It won’t do anything to you. At most, record your physical condition and back up your memory. As long as you don’t run into a signal blind spot, it can also help us track your location. However, this thing will gradually deplete with metabolism, and it needs to be supplemented as appropriate after long-term strenuous exercise or heavy blood loss. Compared to the auxiliary chip, I personally prefer to call it a black box.”
“As for you, there shouldn’t be a chance to deplete it in large quantities, so let’s talk about it after a seven-day observation period first. The rehabilitation equipment has been delivered to your room. There’s no physical problem with your legs, and you’ll be able to recover soon… Shit, why again.”
Guan Haiming’s eyebrows jumped. He rubbed his temples nervously, and then clicked on the news that appeared on the glass table.
“…Okay, apply for maintenance, which will save a lot of trouble. 231, come to me at eight tomorrow morning and I’ll debug the data for you.”
“Yes,” Tang Yibu said.
“Chi Lei probably has already picked up a new machine on Xiao Zheng’s side. It just so happens that all the medical machinery is in use. You should stand by Ruan Lijie’s side first.”
“Yes.” Tang Yibu’s smile seemed to be brighter.
Seeing Tang Yibu helping Ruan Xian out of the chair, Guan Haiming breathed an undisguised sigh of relief, as if he couldn’t wait to rush the person out.
“…Mr. Guan, I have another question I want to ask.” Ruan Xian spoke again.
Guan Haiming suddenly showed a little murderous aura. “Ask.”
“Since 231 wants to be in the same room with me.” Ruan Xian’s tone was sincere, and his confusion and worry were just right. “Mr. Guan, what is the difference between an android and a human? I think he is, uh, quite human. I always feel like there’s something…”
“This question is really troublesome to explain, but it’s enough for you to remember this.”
Guan Haiming nodded his temples.
“A natural brain is human, but a cybernetic brain is not. Beyond that, nothing can be used as a criterion for judgment. The person who set up this rule is one of the founders of the refuge—”
Ruan Xian was about to nod his head and end the inquiry, but Guan Haiming’s next sentence made him stiff on the spot.
“—My teacher, Professor Ruan Xian. Since you still remember what happened in 2095, you should know this person.”
The author has something to say:
Show a mysterious smile.jpg
Just some clarity. The term they use to describe Tang Yibu is (仿生人) which just boils down to a robot that looks exactly like a human. I have decided to use android as the de facto translated term for this, per Wikipedia.
Other robots will just be referred to as robots/machine unless the author specifies a term for them and will never use it when describing something that should be an android.
Just want to make a clear distinction.