Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 33: Annihilation Point
Ruan Xian hesitated for a moment and decided to show his indifference calmly. He didn’t look scared, he just stared at the brown pupils of the burly man with his eyes, indicating that he was listening, and he wasn’t disgusted with the topic.
This was undoubtedly much simpler than what he had done before. He didn’t need to weave false fears and put on an invulnerable soft attitude to reassure the other party. There were countless multiple-choice questions floating around him, so he could calculate the most appropriate response based on the countless moral clauses in his heart. Now those options were gradually blurred and were thrown out of sight from the corner of his eyes.
Caught by those dark eyes, the burly man shrank subconsciously. The young man in front of him wasn’t intimidated by his words, while his golden-eyed companion was turning his head and looking at the people around him with interest.
This frustrated Gang Zi a little, so he decided to continue. “Do you know how these three rules came from?”
“Please tell,” Ruan Xian responded very shamelessly. He could ask the captain or deputy captain, but it might seem too purposeful, so he decided to just let nature run its course.
“The captain has a sister with unique skills. He was parentless, so he could only rely on his sister to raise him.” Gang Zi sighed and looked at Ruan Xian. “Perhaps it was because he was good at sailing that the captain often spent most of his time offshore on a drilling site. As a result, because he was always working outside, his sister was caught up with a boy who was a drug addict… Did many immoral things. Ruin himself and took the girl down with him.”
“That bastard had a big family background though. Using his family’s connections, he was only sentenced to a few years in the end. Guess what the captain did? He didn’t say anything. He caught the kid, then cut off his head and turned himself in.”
Ruan Xian froze.
“I’m not making this up. I’ve been with the captain for many years, and I haven’t seen anyone who broke the rules here.”
Seeing that Ruan Xian finally had a reaction, Gang Zi hit the iron while it was hot.
“As far as you two are concerned, with your faces, there wouldn’t be a shortage of women. The point is, as far as drugs are concerned, there are a lot of hallucinogenic mushrooms underground, as well as the fruit of the flickering grass. Don’t touch it, don’t hide it. Even if someone offers a big price on it, don’t sell it.”
“We won’t touch it.” Ruan Xian ate all the stew in the bowl and put the spoon away. “Tang Yibu?”
“Yes, won’t touch it. I don’t need psychedelics to maintain my mental state.” Tang Yibu continued to turn his head to look at the injured girl, then cast a curious look at Gang Zi. “However, that woman has the characteristics of long-term use of psychedelics.”
“People from the west,” Gang Zi said casually. His enthusiasm for talking decreased a little. “I guess it’s because she couldn’t survive there, so she came here. Don’t look at her. Her physique won’t last long. Speaking of which, did you meet anyone when you were deep diving?”
“We met a few people from Elysium. They were collecting the fruit of the flickering grass.” Ruan Xian didn’t intend to hide this.
Gang Zi sneered. “Those animals are crazy. To throw their own people into that place. They invited you, right?”
“If you need something in order to keep holding on and taking drugs until you die, then you can go there. We won’t stop you.” Gang Zi pressed his tongue against his cheeks. “I’ll just say this—if they take the initiative to offer you food and drink, be careful.”
There was not much to say about the next itinerary. Gang Zi looked like a tour guy who was owed four months of salary as he led them around in a very insincere manner.
Ruan Xian paid special attention and didn’t see any machinery similar to a ship. What they could see was the periphery of the pirate activity area, and the core part wasn’t exposed.
Leaving the surface of the Sea of Ruins, it was difficult to distinguish between day and night in the ruins.
Most of the places where people were active were lit with unpleasant-smelling oil lamps. The underground garage was turned into a flea market, and many people squatted in front of plastic sheeting to trade rare daily necessities plucked out of the ruins. The crumpled containers were covered with ripped sheets and cheap lantern strings as scantily clad men and women leaned against the containers, yawned, and made provocatively lewd gestures at passersby from time to time as their faces were blurred by the dim light. Laughter and yelling came from the small room a few meters away, mixed with curses of disappointment, and the word “gambling” was sprayed on the door.
A few young people put up firewood and started a bonfire between the sculptures of the ruins of a certain square. They dug up an old mobile phone from nowhere, with an external battery and speaker, and were playing old music with horrid sound quality at max volume. They danced indiscriminately to the music as their swords and guns gleamed around their waists.
There were also people who kept going around in the dark spaces. They hung strips of cloth around their necks and held up the metal tray to their chests. Inside were small animals that were roasted black, and the seasoning smell was so strong it was almost choking.
A few thin wild cats walked through the cracks of the ruins; their eyes glowed green in the shadows.
However, Ruan Xian didn’t see many traces of her old life. This settlement was filled with a human aura that had existed for no more than half a year. The smell of the ruins was still mixed with the desertedness, the moss and mold hadn’t completely peeled off, and the spray paint on many rooms was still new. The pirates must’ve moved here recently.
There were many people living in the settlement, creating mixed footsteps. Ruan Xian tested his hearing, then frowned slightly.
Someone was following them.
Listening to the footsteps, it was a tall man. He probably weighed more than 120 kilograms, and his height was conservatively around 1.9 meters. Ruan Xian grabbed Tang Yibu’s wrist and walked through the rich smell, through lights and shadows, following Gang Zi, who was advancing lightly ahead.
However, before he had taken a few steps, a strong smell was attached from the rear left. A man with a ponytail swayed over and blocked the way of the two with a clear intention of stopping them. Gang Zi, who was walking in front, turned his head and crossed his arms without any intention of interfering.
“Gang Zi, how cruel, bud. With such two top-notch goods, you didn’t even tell brother.” The man grinned. Rancid breath emitted from his mouth.
“They just arrived last night. Isn’t it just morning now?” Gang Zi responded indifferently.
“Rookies? That’s good. Do you two want to follow this brother?”
The man was almost two meters tall and was built like a wall standing in front of them. His arms were thick enough to match Ruan Xian’s thighs. Ruan Xian was barely 1.8 meters tall, so he didn’t look all that superior compared to him. Tang Yibu was a little taller, but he was still at least half a head shorter than the man.
He patted Ruan Xian on the shoulder with one hand and moved it dishonestly as he went down his white coat. “You don’t have to worry about eating and drinking, and you don’t need to work. You can do whatever you want. You just need to take the time to accompany this brother.”
Ruan Xian was stunned for a fraction of a second because this was the first time in his life that he had been sexually harassed, and then he pushed the ill-intentioned hand away. “No need. I don’t think my friend needs it either. Tang…”
He turned his head, wanting the android to also express his opinion so that they could leave this place of right and wrong as soon as possible. As a result, when he turned around, the hapless android was squatting down on the side of the road full of ruins, trying to poke a napping wild cat. He listened intently to the sound of the cat purring, obviously not taking the situation in front of him seriously.
“Ah, brother, this is for the good of the two of you. You’ll know when the next Order Supervisor comes to ‘disinfect’. The boarding fee is not easy to make up. Gang Zi, didn’t you tell them that I, Lei Ge, am the most reliable in this area? I wouldn’t take the initiative before, but these two little brothers are just too appetizing for me. If they were to die on a mission like this… Oh, what a waste.”
“We really don’t need it. Thank you.” Ruan Xian maintained a polite tone, then frowned as the unruly hand stuck up again and slid towards his waist like a leech.
Gang Zhi, who stood a few steps away, watched calmly, obviously accustomed to it.
This was a test.
Ruan Xian didn’t push away the hand this time. He smiled as his right hand leaned into his thin white coat.
Three shots rang out, causing Lei Ge to gasp. Before his hand could move away from Ruan Xian’s waist, there were a few blood marks on his body.
A bullet grazed his temple and flew over his ear, causing blood to trickle down his cheek. The other two left two red marks on his neck. The intersection of the two red marks happened to be the location of his carotid artery.
And he didn’t even see the movements of the beautiful young man clearly.
As soon as the man who claimed to be Lei Ge raised his fist, the muzzle of the gun was already pointed at his heart.
“You and Gang Ge have a good relationship, and you seem to be of great character. If you were to die here like this… How do you say it? It would also be quite wasteful.” Ruan Xian smiled politely again, but with the cold muzzle pointing, the smile completely had a different change of feeling. “By the way, the one behind me belongs to me. You don’t have to worry about him anymore.”
Tang Yibu was still squatting behind him, leisurely raising the half-asleep cat with both hands. The cat hissed with dissatisfaction as all its fur stood up.
“Refusing a toast to only drink a forfeit*?” Lei Ge’s face darkened and spat at Ruan Xian’s feet with thick phlegm. “There will come a time when you cry and beg for mercy in the future.”
*(敬酒不吃吃罚酒) Metaphor referring to being constrained to do what one at first declined. || Basically, he’s saying you’ll be sorry for refusing me this time and you’ll come around later after you regret it.
“Good morning to you too.” Ruan Xian smiled as the muzzle remained motionless.
The indifference on Gang Zi’s face vanished. When he was sure the Lei Ge had disappeared into the corner of the ruins, he looked at Ruan Xian with complicated eyes.
“I guess Yu Le didn’t like the gentleman just now very much.” Ruan Xian put away his gun, let the cat go from Tang Yibu’s hand, and then pulled up the android who wanted engraved “soft and harmless” on his face.
“Well, as the captain said, there is a price to pay for killing people,” Gang Zi replied ambiguously.
Ruan Xian smiled briefly.
If the two of them were greedy for comfort, they wouldn’t lose face with the potential “backer” just now, and everyone would still be at peace. They were “somewhat capable”, no matter how big or small, there would always be a bit of conflict. There wouldn’t be too many good, law-abiding citizens around here. Lei Ge, the guy who was used as a “test” was undoubtedly worried about his life. Perhaps he could use his life and add some foreign debt to the two of them so that Yu Le could sit back and enjoy the fruits of other’s work.
However, Ruan Xian was in a good mood, and this test undoubtedly gave him a chance. An opportunity to naturally reveal his strength.
MUL-01 wouldn’t be stupid enough to insert spies into the bottom layer that had no access to core information. Most likely, the people who were on the Mainbrain’s side were at the middle and high levels, and his target, Tu Rui, was undoubtedly also a high-level person.
It was necessary for him to reach him.
Seeing Ruan Xian no longer speaking, Gang Zi turned around again. “This way, please.”
This time, the burly man’s tone sounded much more polite.
Their destination was a well-preserved warehouse. There were a lot of round spherical machines raised in it. They bumped around on the fence, biting at the metal fragments on the edge. Gang Zi tightened the chain, pulled one out of the fence, and stuffed it with a half-round bit.
Putting the coconut-sized spherical machine into the iron cage, he waved at the two of them and led them up the spiral staircase.
“According to the rules, I have to explain the situation to you two at this time.”
When he reached the surface of the Sea of Ruins, Gang Zi looked solemn in the sun. He got a modified three-wheeled truck, hurriedly threw the cage with a spherical machine into the body of the truck, and then pointed far away.
“You don’t need to gamble with your life this time. The Walking Stones will give you support. I’ll take you two to the deep diving wharf later, or at the same place as last time. It was the hospital, right? It’s enough to figure out which building. Well, you only need to bring medicine and flickering grass, and the rest is yours.”
Ruan Xian’s expression became serious. He didn’t look at Gang Zi but stared straight at where Gang Zi was pointing.
“Oh, you saw it.” Gang Zi grinned. “That’s the Annihilation Point.”
There was a pitch-black round hole in the direction Gang Zi was pointing.
It just hung in the air, sucking in all the light, and it was so black that it made people’s hearts throb. They were still far from the end of the Sea of Ruins, but the unknown sense of oppression still felt suffocating. The Sea of Ruins was rumbling forward towards the hollow, like a giant python that was slowly sinking into a cave.
“The Mainbrain did it, but I don’t know why. Anyway, it can only absorb inanimate objects.”
Gang Zi patted the iron cage containing the mechanical life.
“Now the place where you are diving is only about six kilometers away from the Annihilation Point, so you have to bring this with you. We call it an iron bead. If the annihilation point is too close, it will scream loudly. Then you need to quickly send a signal and we’ll throw the diving suit over.”
“It can only attract lifeless ruins, so what happens when a living body comes into contact with it?” Ruan Xian asked quietly. He stared at the round void that made people’s hair stand up and already had a faint answer in his heart.
“What do you think? They’ll just be crushed. There were some people who weren’t afraid of death, so we had to drag back half their corpses. It’s really half their bodies. From the head to the brain, everything was separated in the middle.” Gang Zi gestured with his two big hands. “If it weren’t for the flickering grass that likes to grow around there, who would want to run over there. No offense guys, but as rookies, you have to do the dirty work.”
“Understood.” Ruan Xian stepped into the body of the car.
Tang Yibu leaned against the frame of the car. He stared at the dark Annihilation Point in the distance for a while, then turned his face to the side. The contour of his side face was soft and curved, making it easy for people to feel good about his appearance.
He blinked at Gang Zi and spoke in a worried tone. “How long will we have to work? When can we do some indoor work?”
Ruan Xian thought with a sullen face. This guy probably just wants to start his observation plan early.
Unsurprisingly, Gang Zi was deceived. “We don’t pay much attention to it. Let’s explore for a week. We should have gathered enough by then. After that, it depends on what you two want to do.”
After that, he looked at Ruan Xian. “Your strength is pretty good, and I’m not just flattering you. Keep the valuable goods and don’t exchange them out too early. If you can come back alive, you’ll be eligible to participate in the rally. I’m stupid, so I can’t explain it well. Lao Tu will make it clear to you then.”
“Make what clear?”
The burly man smiled, and his smile lined up perfectly against the sunshine and the void behind him, which made for a rather weird sight.
“What else can it be?” Gang Zhi bared his yellowish teeth. “Make it clear how to take two more breaths under the watchful eyes of the Order Supervisors. If it weren’t for survival, who would navigate an entire ship these days?”
The author has something to say:
Ruan in the eyes of the pirates: super fierce.
Tang in the eyes of the pirates: super soft.
Expose your strength and pay attention to Tian Ji horse racing* (×
*Tian Ji was a famous general of the Qi state during the Warring States period. There’s a story about him regarding horse racing strategy, which is based on Game Theory. You can follow the link to learn more about it or read my Kinky Thoughts.
For those who didn’t click on the link to learn about the game theory of Tian Ji horse racing, the TLDR is this:
Tian Ji and the King of Qi often have horse races, with the rules being that each brings 3 horses and whoever wins 2/3 wins. Each of the 3 horses are ranked as, shit, good, best. Being the King of Qi his horses are often a little better than Tian Ji’s horses, thus Tian Ji keeps losing because he had always matched the horse’s ranks to the King of Qi’s horses when they race, until one day Sun Bin learns about it and ask Tian Ji to bring him with him when he horseraces next time. Sun Bin then proposes to Tian Ji to race like this:
- Use his shit horse to race against the King of Qi’s best horse.
- Use the best horse to race against the King of Qi’s good horse.
- Use the good horse to race against the King of Qi’s shit horse.
In this way, Tian Ji finally beats the King of Qi.