Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 36: Elysium
“Fan Lao, that ship is still active.” The young woman sitting at the table reported timidly.
“Hmm?” The old man who was fiddling with a record player straightened up. As the stylus was pressed down, the sweet and pleasant female voice spread in the air, like some kind of elegant high-end perfume.
It was Carol Young’s “I’m With You”. The old man closed his eyes and followed the beat of the song for a while, then slowly continued his next sentence. “That’s not possible. Lili, did you read it right?”
He didn’t sound flustered at all, but the girl who responded to him shivered and nodded quickly. “It’s moving in the direction of the ‘homeland’. Fan Lao, look…”
“Did they take fireflies beforehand?”
“Absolutely.” The girl lowered her waist and grabbed a flannel pouch from the drawer. “The rest is all here.”
“Even if they survive the drug addiction, they won’t be sober enough to be able to return.” The old man stroked his white beard. “The ship isn’t equipped with navigation and the route log wouldn’t record information of nearby areas. How did they find it? Interesting.”
“I will notify the guards and let them pay attention.” The girl stood up anxiously.
“Don’t worry, Lili, you’re just too young.” The old man walked forward, patted the girl on the waist, and wiped off the oil on his hand. Lili forcibly suppressed a shiver, and from an angle where the old man couldn’t see, her eyes became a little red.
“Yes, Fan Lao.” She bit her lip and smiled reluctantly.
“Being able to come back shows that they have some skills. If you have skills, then you’re useful. If Yu Le knows where we are, that lunatic will have sent a fleet… Whether it’s the enemy or that garbage, the ‘homeland’ has not been exposed yet.” The old man retracted his hand, indifferent to the girl’s reaction.
“They stopped three kilometers away.” Lili returned her gaze at the screen again and reported professionally.
“As expected, there must be someone on the ship with a good mind. Lili, strangers are coming. You know what to do.”
On the other side, the atmosphere on the small ship wasn’t so tense.
Jiang Lin kept pounding on the floor with her forehead, making a terrifying sound as saliva dripped down her half-opened mouth. Unfortunately, the two in the cabin weren’t normal. After making sure the force of impact wouldn’t really hurt her brain, Ruan Xian decided to ignore the dull thumping noise. At present, his attention was on Tang Yibu.
“Extremely happy?” The blood loss just now made Ruan Xian quite hungry. He took out a snickers bar from Tang Yibu’s backpack and took a big bite, causing his speech to become muffled.
Ruan Xian didn’t think he was the most unfortunate person in the world, but objectively speaking, his childhood was a bit far from the word “happiness”. This wasn’t some kind of dissatisfaction from the heart, nor was it hatred. It was simply a fact—after the death of his mother, even if he had been characterized as a potentially dangerous criminal, the public welfare organization still sent three top psychologists for free.
Just because the situation at the time was so bad, they were worried that he would collapse immediately.
“…Ruan Xian himself promoted it to the outside world like this.” Tang Yibu’s gaze stuck to the snickers, and then returned it to the console after a few seconds. “He was obsessed with research a few years ago, but after his physical condition stabilized, he devoted part of his energy to the front stage and to public welfare. He was once hailed as a ‘representative of a better society’ and was very famous.”
Ruan Xian frowned. The overpowering sweetness in his mouth failed to distract him.
He never talked about his childhood experience with outsiders. Even in the face of his adoptive mother, Meng Yunlai, Ruan Xian didn’t mention his biological parents. He played the role of a normal child wholeheartedly, locking all the blood and darkness into a box in his heart, together with a furious demon.
Until he “died”, no one in the institute knew about his past. Even when he was alone and most relaxed, he wouldn’t mention this to NUL-00.
They permeated all his nightmares, and they were still haunting him to this day.
If he had had such an experience that could be hailed as a “representative of a better society”, then mankind wasn’t far from destruction.
But having said that, the current situation of mankind was indeed almost the same as destruction. This thought amused Ruan Xian, and he laughed without hesitation.
Tang Yibu grabbed the steering wheel with both hands and blinked in confusion, looking quite innocent. Seeing that the ship was no longer bumpy, the iron bead climbed onto his head again. The three eyes exposed in the gap in the iron shell looked at Ruan Xian in the same confusion.
“It’s nothing, I just think it’s a bit funny.” Ruan Xian still had a smile in his eyes.
“If you care, you can listen to his speech. Many petri dishes keep a backup.” Tang Yibu saw that Ruan Xian didn’t mean to talk in depth and called up the route log of the ship. “Your voices are 90.65% similar, which is very interesting. If Ruan Xian hadn’t encrypted his genes, I would think he used some of his own genes when he made you.”
“I don’t find it interesting,” Ruan Xian responded simply.
At first, the disease caused his vocal cords to be congested all year round, and aging would also cause people’s voices to change. He originally didn’t include his voice in anything recorded. Seeing Tang Yibu’s reaction, another “Professor Ruan” probably began to speak in public not long after he was shot.
This may become a risk—the “Ruan Xian” in the wheelchair was regarded as MUL-01’s number one public enemy. Ruan Xian didn’t think that the Mainbrain would simply let go of his creation, which was highly similar to the enemy. Ruan Xian thought secretly that he had to change his pronunciation habits.
“Genetic encryption?” Ruan Xian opened the window and let more wind pour into the operation room.
“To prevent MUL-01 from using his genes to create an army of Ruan Xian loyal to the Mainbrain. After all, human memory can be edited. There are ready-made processors in the refuge—you have also seen the so-called ‘AI city’. If you use it to edit a person’s memory, the whole process will take less than ten seconds.”
Tang Yibu turned the steering wheel and bypassed a magnificent square that had collapsed in half.
“It is said that he modified the identity disruptor specifically to hide his DNA. Fan Linsong probably took something similar.”
“You are slowing down.” Ruan Xian deliberately changed the subject.
“The route log is over.” Tang Yibu was led away obediently in an instant. “The headquarters of Elysium won’t be stupid enough to expose themselves like this. We are less than two kilometers away from the starting point recorded by this ship. The data is missing further on.”
And their only clue was that she was still hitting her head on the ground deliriously, bruising her forehead.
“Bring up the route log, Tang Yibu.”
“Do you want to calculate it?” Tang Yibu enlarged the light screen that recorded the driving trajectory. “I only remembered the degrees of some dials, and the data may not be enough.”
“Do you remember the driving speed?”
“Then there’s no problem.” Ruan Xian touched the dial with his fingers, and countless numbers flashed through his mind. “Except for when I was attacking the cockroaches, I have basically been looking at the degrees on these dials.”
He retracted his hand and pointed his finger at the light screen. “Tang Yibu, upload the speed data in units of one hundred meters.”
Tang Yibu pressed one hand on the console and stared at Ruan Xian. The light screen flashed for half a second, and countless speed messages densely cover the route. Ruan Xian’s fingers followed the light in the void all the way down, and finally stopped at a point outside the route map.
“Here, within a radius of one kilometer. Then we—”
“Keep a deviation of two kilometers. It’s best to be discovered by chance by the people from Elysium.” Tang Yibu raised the corner of his mouth and neatly erased the speed information. “Yes, my Mr. Ruan, you are very useful.”
“…Humans usually don’t think that the term ‘very useful’ is a compliment.”
“It’s nice you’re here*.” Tang Yibu reacted quickly, with a sincere expression on his face.
*The term he’s using here is (你真好) which is a bit tricky to translate, but it essentially means things are easier with you here/your help or it’s nice to have you here (because you could help), but it’s generally not used to compliment something like this, thus why Ruan Xian replied below.
“You’re better off just using ‘useful’.” Ruan Xian rubbed his forehead.
“What can be regarded as a suitable expression?” Tang Yibu’s attention completely shifted to this new issue. “…Well done? Good boy? You’re awesome?”
Ruan Xian took out the blood gun with a gloomy face and deliberately let it click so that Tang Yibu could see that it was meant to attack.
The android abruptly shut his mouth.
For a while, there was only the sound of Jiang Lin pounding the floor with her head. This physical strength could be considered abnormal. Ordinary people should have been too tired to move by now. However, the morbid persistence of drug addicts was manifested vividly by her.
Seeing that the atmosphere between Ruan Xian and Tang Yibu became tense, the iron bead instinctively jumped off Tang Yibu’s head and bounced on the floor adopting with the frequency of Jiang Lin banging her head. The thumping sound was uniform, and with the iron bead, the volume instantly doubled. The whole scene was quite eerily comical.
Ruan Xian shook his head and put away his gun. “Turn right 35° and advance 893 meters. I heard a team of more than five people.”
Then he scratched his hair neatly and pulled off Tang Yibu’s collar. After making their clothes into a mess, Ruan Xian picked up the iron bead that was bouncing happily and used it to rub a lot of dirt on their clothes.
“Help.” Tang Yibu cooperatively opened the ship’s notification signal. “Energy emergency, energy emergency—Requesting rescue from Elysium.”
It turned out that the people from Elysium were terribly cautious. The team they chose as their target came quickly, but there was no intention of bringing the ship back directly. They stayed where they were, waited for the three spacesuits to be thrown down to them, and then carefully stuffed themselves in.
The spacesuits were recovered extremely quickly, and they were even dragged around in circles for a long time, enough to make ordinary humans dizzy. Even the unconscious Jiang Lin enjoyed this treatment.
However, the moment Ruan Xian stepped into the Elysium settlement, he immediately understood the reason for the other party’s caution…
A brightly lit shopping mall appeared in front of him.
There was almost no collapse inside the mall, and it was perfectly preserved. There were no longer ordinary shops on each floor, and all the gorgeous storefronts had been transformed into living spaces. As far as Ruan Xian could see, this kind of transformation was quite elaborate, and it even considered design taste. The air in the entire space was well ventilated and he could smell fresh ambient perfume without the slightest smell of mold or excrement. Faint music came from several rooms with different tracks.
The people coming and going were neatly dressed, and all the lights that could be turned on were on. The transparent glass elevator was operating normally, just like when the civilized world was still there.
The pirates of Elysium didn’t cast too many glances at the two strangers. They hurried forward, and they didn’t even have time to look at the beautiful lights on both sides of the road.
“We have already sent Jiang Lin to the medical room.” A young girl walked up to them with a warm smile. “Thank you very much for sending her back.”
Ruan Xian looked at the young woman in front of him.
The girl standing two steps away was dressed in an elegant cheongsam, which complimented her particularly curvaceous figure, and her long black hair was pulled into a delicate bun. In this crazy environment, she even wore light makeup, and the designs of her earrings and necklace were eye-catching without being overwhelming. In terms of appearance, her face wasn’t so stunning, but her facial features were very delicate, and her smile had the pure temperament of the girl next door, which was very charming.
The premise was that the subject of her conversation was a normal person.
Ruan Xian stared at her reddish eye for a while, but nodded, obviously not planning to make any other expressions. The smile on the girl’s face was a little stiff.
“I am the deputy captain of Elysium, Duan Lili.” She raised her chest and stretched out her hand generously. “If you don’t dislike it, the two of you can stay here for a night as a thank you for bringing Lin Jie home.”
“Bringing her home?” Tang Yibu instantly grabbed the key words.
Duan Lili’s gaze swept across Tang Yibu’s golden eyes without any surprise concealment. “Yes…Yes, this is our home. Elysium is a big family.”
“You have a good environment,” Ruan Xian said, his eyes beginning to slip towards the place where the smell of medicine was emitted.
“Of course.” Duan Lili’s expression brightened a little. “I think after Lin Jie wakes up, she will definitely want to thank you both in person… You look very tired. Even if you don’t trust us, at least take a hot shower and change into clean clothes before leaving.”
Her outstretched hand hesitated in the air for a moment, and politely caught Tang Yibu’s arm. “Please be sure to let us express our gratitude, won’t you?”
Duan Lili’s voice was soft and clear, sounding a bit intentionally pitiful.
‘It about time for things to come to an end,’ Ruan Xian thought. They were originally here to stay, and since one was willing to fight and one was willing to suffer* it would seem unnatural to drag things on. This woman named Duan Lili seemed a little afraid herself, so he’ll just let Tang Yibu negotiate. Seeing Tang Yibu being held by the beauty’s arm while still maintaining a calm face, Ruan Xian couldn’t help but touch his earrings and tried to remind the other party to pay attention.
*This passage is from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It’s basically a metaphor for something that both sides are willing to do. || In this context, he’s basically saying their goal was to stay at Elysium and the other party is also offering, so there’s no need to put on an act and drag things out, which could seem unnatural.
However, he was one step late—Tang Yibu looked around, sniffed, and lowered his gaze.
“Are you making dinner?” He stared at Duan Lili seriously and asked in the same soft voice.
The author has something to say:
Duan Lili: …Yes.
Actually, I don’t like Snickers; it’s too sweet_(:з”∠)_
Let’s pretend that Snickers was still there at that time! (……