Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 27: Ruins of a Pirate Ship
Finally, with the heat and loud noise, the flying giant ship crashed into the ground. Tang Yibu stretched out his arm and hooked Ruan Xian into a pit on the ground. Metal fragments burst out in continuous explosions, and a piece of twisted iron sheet scraped past the two of them, leaving traces like a knife cut.
The explosion quickly subsided, and all that remained was the sound of flames burning. Tang Yibu grabbed Ruan Xian tightly in his arms and remained motionless, like a snail indented into its shell, until the sound of burning gradually disappeared. Ruan Xian had to bury his face in Tang Yibu’s arms to escape the smell of the unpleasant fumes of rubber and plastic burning behind him. At this moment, Tang Yibu smelled like clean soap and a basket of dried grass, which only made Ruan Xian focus more on this smell.
The air gradually cooled down, and the black smoke was diluted by the evening breeze. Ruan Xian breathed out and finally managed to pull his nose back from Tang Yibu’s coat.
He stood up, pounded his aching back, and looked at the ship.
There was no human breath or heartbeat aboard the ship; only little cracking sounds caused by burning, in addition to the clicking sounds of metal cooling.
Under the dim moonlight, the strange big ship had plunged diagonally into the soil, with only about two-thirds of it exposed outside. It looked a bit like a submarine, and the part that hadn’t been blackened by the flame revealed some dirty iron. Its design and shape were extremely rough, and a large number of traces of iron sheet that looked spliced were left on the shell, which made it seem as if it wasn’t a product of precision technology.
Tang Yibu patted the mud off his body. “Is there anyone there?”
“No.” Ruan Xian rubbed the blackened hull with his fingers. “There’s nothing on this ship.”
“Great. Let’s go in,” Tang Yibu said.
“…Are you sure?” Not to mention the toxic smoke hadn’t completely dissipated, the way this ship had landed was strange. It stood to reason that instead of being deeply inserted into the soil, it should have directly fallen apart on the hard land and split into several pieces. This submarine-like ship was full of oddities, which made Ruan Xian cautious and didn’t want to approach it rashly.
Not to mention, there was a strong smell of burnt flesh coming from the ship. There were indeed no living humans in it, but that couldn’t be said about the dead. He wasn’t sure if he was mentally prepared for the scene inside.
Tang Yibu was much simpler. He quickly tore off a piece of iron sheet from the hull, rolled it into a cone, and tangled it all over the semi-collapsed ship. The evening breeze was strong and the turbid heat in the ship passed through the hole with the wind, causing the temperature nearby to drop a bit.
“We have to search for supplies first.” Tang Yibu threw away the iron sheet in his hand and patted them. “Generally speaking, people in the Sea of Ruins will not chase so far, but these metal parts may attract scavengers. There are humans staring at it. Keep a low profile.”
As he spoke, he peeled back the iron sheet, like tearing off skin, and created an entrance, then made a “please” gesture.
Ruan Xian clenched the gun in his hand, sighed, and walked into the cabin with Tang Yibu. As soon as he entered, Ruan Xian immediately found something was wrong. His feet stepped on solid ground.
It was like someone had cut off the first third of the ship and cleverly placed the rest on the ground. Not only were there no potholes on the floors of the inside of the ship, even the grass stayed safely in the crevices of the stones. Ruan Xian squatted down and dug along the bulkhead inside the ship. The smooth bulkhead under the ground melted with the soil and became a hard and loose honeycomb structure.
The moonlight fell down the hole above his head, illuminating the small piece of ground in front of him. Like a withered black flower, a charred hand poked out of the soil and was bathed in silver light.
Ruan Xian frowned, picked up the fragment from the ground, and poked it carefully. The wrist of that hand made an uncomfortable cracking sound and fell to the side.
The human body under the soil was similar to the bulkhead. The soft flesh had merged with the soil and turned into a fine honeycomb shape.
“This ship… passed through the soil.” Ruan Xian turned his head and looked at Tang Yibu, who was putting cans and tools into his backpack.
“This is a pirate ship. They need to sail in the Sea of Ruins, so the ship must have the ability to pass through solids.” Tang Yibu was squatting in front of the scorched cabinet trying to find objects that hadn’t been burned. “The vibration system of this ship has failed. This kind of accident is very common.”
“You seem to know this place well.” Ruan Xian moved away from the broken hand, took a few steps forward, and picked up a blackened knife.
“I’ve heard a little bit about it.” Tang Yibu stopped moving and looked out of the hole. “We have to move faster. Other machines are coming.”
Ruan Xian clung to the crack and looked at the source of the footsteps…
A group of spherical metal machines were rapidly approaching. They ran on four pointed legs, leaving a trail of dust behind them. A small scavenger puppet followed closely behind, walking awkwardly. Unlike the two they encountered in the forest, there weren’t many metal fragments on its body and its soft pale tissues were exposed in many places.
At this speed, it was estimated that the group of weird things would reach the ship wreckage in about three minutes.
Ruan Xian instantly lost the mood to inquire more. He looked around and found a bundle of metal rope that could be used. Just as he was about to run up the upturned stern, a strange sound of breaking through the air passed through his ears.
“Something’s wrong.” He subconsciously pulled Tang Yibu’s back collar. “Let’s withdraw.”
Tang Yibu didn’t say anything. He grabbed his bulging backpack, stood up obediently, and tore open an exit on the other side of the cabin. The two squeezed out as quietly as possible, leaving the continuing approach of the machines on the other side. The strange whooshing sound in the sky was still approaching. Ruan Xian wanted to signal Tang Yibu to leave faster, but the sound had caught them.
A large soft net that was almost transparent fell from the sky and swooped them to the ground. Also unlucky was the group of machines that had just arrived. The small spherical machines were crowded into a pile like grapes, squeaking and screaming. The scavenger puppet twisted its pale limbs and was struggling frantically, but the net was flexible and strong, like some kind of spider web that was inescapable. Ruan Xian cut hard with the knife he had just picked up but didn’t even make a dent.
Tang Yibu looked around as he lay slowly on the ground and calmly put on the coffin-style sleeping position that Ruan Xian was familiar with.
“Aren’t you going to struggle?” For a moment, Ruan Xian wanted to poke the android with the knife he was holding. “For example, tear open this net and then find a better place to sleep.”
“This net is too strong. If I tear it with my bare hands, it’ll arouse their vigilance. This is good. We have to deal with the pirates sooner or later.” Tang Yibu had let the net fall on his face as he spoke calmly.
Ruan Xian persistently used the knife to cut for a while, and finally determined that this thing was in every sense of the phrase yielding neither to soft or hard*. He moved to Tang Yibu’s side and sat down in a posture that was a bit subtly consistent with the crestfallen scavenger puppet not far away. “Are you sure they won’t kill us?”
*(软硬不吃) Refers to being immune to cajolery or coercion. || Basically, it’s saying the net can’t be broken through forceful or soft means.
“Usually not. We can pretend to be humans. Humans at this age are useful labor and an important resource.” Tang Yibu stretched out his hand to hook Ruan Xian’s waist and fix him tightly to his side. “It’s not too late to run. If something goes wrong, you can still catch a ride.”
“What ride? “Ruan Xian grabbed the hooked arm and asked vigilantly.
What happened next was faster than Tang Yibu’s answer.
As fast as the net came, it was pulled back just as quickly. It passed through the wreckage of the ship like a phantom, leaving only the two humans and the machines with vital characteristics behind, and yanked straight towards the Sea of Ruins.
The net was pulled into the air, causing the spherical little machines and the scavenger puppet to squeeze tight like packed sardines. The speed of the oncoming wind was extremely fast, causing the net to spin rapidly and made Ruan Xian nauseous that he almost vomited. Tang Yibu, who had been lying straight, bent his body. The two looked as if they were two shrimp caught in a fishing net.
After flying for a few minutes, they finally hit something soft. Judging by the sense of shock under them, the thing that caught them was very close to an air cushion made of plastic cloth.
This time, Ruan Xian decisively decided to play dead with Tang Yibu.
“The harvest is good. Those idiots in the west can still do us some good even if they die.” A hoarse male voice sounded in his ears. “Let me see… Thirty-five iron beads. Okay. Oh, a scavenger puppet. This will make me a lot of money.”
An iron rod stretched out and poked Ruan Xian’s waist directly.
“Someone.” The thick voice immediately became vigilant. The pole was pulled back and there was a click, as if a weapon was being activated. “Gang Zi, turn the net over and have a look.”
The net under him was drawn away, and the spherical machinery jingled and scattered. Ruan Xian collapsed motionless on the air cushion like a dead fish, staring at Tang Yibu, who was also facing down, from the crevices of his eyes.
“Both of them are still breathing.” The hoarse voice seemed to be talking to someone. “How to put this… It doesn’t look like they’re from the west.”
The air cushion sank under them, indicating someone was approaching. One hand grabbed Ruan Xian’s hair and forced him to lift his face. The visitor hissed for a few breaths, let go of him, and grabbed Tang Yibu on the other side.
“Two little white faces. There are no such people in the west. Looking at their appearance, they’re either androids or were genetically modified.” He sounded a little confused. “They have a good physique and look strong. Captain, look at this—okay, okay. I’ll get them back first. You mentioned location? Just over the wall of Petri Dish No. 1306.”
Ruan Xian tried his best to listen, but he could only hear murmurs. Most likely, the other party wasn’t giving instructions via voice.
“Gang Zi*!” A thick voice rumbled, causing the communicator to shake. “Tie these two up and take them to the stronghold cell.”
*When used after a name, it’s an affectionate way of addressing them, but more so in a historical setting, so this is more like affectionately addressing them but jokingly (I think).
Gang Zi didn’t answer. Ruan Xian could feel a large hand directly grabbing him and wrapping him into a spring roll with a restraining strap. He and Tang Yibu were carried on the person’s shoulders, one on each side as they rocked forward with the giant.
At first the shaking motion was regular, then it felt like some kind of wheeled vehicle, similar to a hoverbike. After being blown by the cool breeze for about half an hour, the big man known as “Gang Zi” finally stopped moving. He opened something, causing a bang…
Then came the fall.
First Tang Yibu, then himself. They were thrown into a dark hole like garbage by the big man. Within a few seconds, Ruan Xian confirmed his thoughts. They were sliding down a garbage chute of a high-rise building, and the speed was accelerating.
Two dirty spring rolls were ejected from the outlet of the garbage chute and fell to the ground one after the other. Tang Yibu landed first and unfortunately became Ruan Xian’s meat cushion. He gave a pitiful “ugh”, twisted his body, and got out from under Ruan Xian.
“There’s no one nearby.” Ruan Xian moved his shoulders and found that he couldn’t break free from what was restraining his body. Fortunately, the garbage chute had been abandoned for a long time, as there was no residual garbage left. Otherwise, he would’ve gone crazy at this moment.
They were thrown into a strange room, which at first glance looked like a half-collapsed ordinary apartment. The fine and hard iron bars were obviously installed later, and they were roughly inserted into the exquisite wooden floor. Decorative paintings hung crooked on the wall, and a fabric sofa was overturned in the corner. Most of the sofa’s cushions were broken and covered with dust.
“I fell and I’m a little hurt.” Tang Yibu spoke deeply.
“Uh-huh.” Ruan Xian continued to observe the surroundings vigilantly.
“I need some treatment.” The android squirmed like a worm and approached him, obviously with no intention of unlocking his restraints.
“Come on, be strong.” Ruan Xian glanced at the stains on the other party’s lips and inched a few steps back. “It’s good to feel more pain. It’s more realistic.”
“You’re faking it—”
“Your mouth is stained with dirt and mold from the garbage. If you dare put your mouth near me, I’ll make it hurt even more severely later.” Ruan Xian spoke very fast. This time he almost poured out all the thoughts that appeared in his mind.
“I understand.” Tang Yibu nodded solemnly. “Sorry, I’ll remember to wipe my mouth in the future.”
“…There is no future.”
The light suddenly snapped on.
“It doesn’t seem to be an android and he also seems to have the mind to flirt at this time.” The visitor was wearing a dirty jacket, but his hair was neat. He wore gold wire glasses that had cracks on them and were framed on the bridge of his nose, giving him a svelte appearance.
“The great Tu Rui, deputy captain of the Walking Stones. Good evening to you both.”