Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 49: Prelude to Chaos
Time reversed back to two days ago.
After the big gathering, the atmosphere in the settlement of the Walking Stones suddenly became heavy. The young people, who were plainly keen to play music, squatted quietly in the corner, silently smoking homemade cigarettes. The smoke was choking and smelled like some kind of dried vine plant. The pirates who came and went had a melancholy look, but many of them had a relaxed expression on their faces.
For example, Lei Ge.
“Tu Rui is much more humane than Yu Le.” Ruan Xian left the assembly hall and walked to the cafeteria. Lei Ge stuck to him like a dog-skin ointment*. “Don’t worry, there won’t be chaos in the Walking Stones numbers.”
*The term is [gou pi gao] (狗皮膏). It refers to the ancient medicine used as an adhesive to treat various diseases. Now it’s mainly used as a metaphor for deceiving people (AKA a snake-oil salesman), but in this context it refers to the adhesive quality of the medicine (Lei Ge sticking to him like an adhesive).
Ruan Xian didn’t bother to pay attention to him, pretending that he hadn’t heard anything, but just walked forward.
“I heard you got a ship?” Lei Ge didn’t care about Ruan Xian’s cold attitude as he leaned in affectionately. His face was so thick-skinned that it was quite amazing. However, Ruan Xian’s posturing was still effective when they first met, as Lei Ge only walked by his side and didn’t dare to make any blatant movements.
When the pirates passing by saw this scene, many of them showed a look of disgust.
Ruan Xian still didn’t mean to answer.
“The ship is very good.” Lei Ge was still chattering. “You can sell it to the top and earn a lot of contribution points, enough for you to live a year and a half with peace of mind. Yu Le won’t say it, but his ability to sail a ship is first-class. After the change in captain, there may be a period of turmoil, but Tu Rui can definitely…”
“Listening to you, it seems like Yu Le is dead.” After finishing the stew and seeing that he couldn’t get rid of this annoying fly, Ruan Xian finally decided to take on the topic.
“That’s not it!” Seeing that his target finally replied, Lei Ge immediately put a big smile on his face, “In the past few years, none of the captains who fought against Fan Baiyan have survived. They get to eat meat, drink soup, and only need to pay for resources on time to have a good relationship with Fan Baiyan. There’s not so much bullshit—a captain dies every half a year, and there are so many on the list. Dead friends don’t die of poverty*. Speaking of resources, Xiao Ruan…”
*(死道友不死贫道咯) It’s a saying referring to harming the interests of others for the sake of one’s own interest. Basically, it’s used to describe one’s selfishness. || He’s saying this system is set up so everyone is pushing the blame onto the person that’s being voted on. Rather than them bearing the consequences, they’ll just vote for a captain as a sacrifice to save their own skin.
“Depending on their reaction, Yu Le shouldn’t be on the list,” Ruan Xian interrupted the other party.
Lei Ge was startled. “Ah, hey, yes. It’s only been a year since the Walking Stones have been set up, and the list is full of qualified captains. There are only ten who could be selected each time, and it stands to reason that Yu Le wouldn’t be ranked. Let’s not talk about this, Xiao Ruan. You see, this big brother has given you so much intelligence, and you’re so well-off. Can’t you lend me some contribution points?”
When he said this, the other party’s bad breath sprayed directly on Ruan Xian’s face. He tried to suppress it for a long time before he retched.
“Gang Ge told me to save my points.” Ruan Xian held an empty bowl in his hand.
“Hey, it doesn’t make sense for you to say that. What’s the point of saving in days where everyone has to lick blood at the edge of a knife? Well, I accidently spent a little too much two days ago, so I need to borrow 7,000 and I promised to pay you back 10,000. Your ship is estimated to be exchanged between 30,000 to 50,000, which isn’t bad.”
“Oh.” Ruan Xian raised his head. “I remember that the boarding fee for disinfection is 10,000 points.”
“This… It’s not a matter of points. I won’t bother you anymore, so let’s just be friends—”
Ruan Xian stood up, threw the bowl into the dirty bowl box, and then walked straight to the place where contribution points were exchanged. Lei Ge frowned, then smiled and followed him happily.
“How much can I exchange for the ship I brought back if I hand it in?” He stood still in front of the facility that resembled the window of a ticket hall and asked the person inside through the glass. A middle-aged woman sat behind the glass with a sad face. Hearing this, she finally raised her eyes.
“Let me see.” She didn’t turn on a light screen and was using an old-fashioned tablet. “The structure is good, not old, and there are a lot of shuttle agents left. It can be exchanged for 42,000.”
“What about the other supplies I brought back?”
“We collect canned food, salt, and mushrooms. We get a discount, so it’s 650,” the middle-aged woman murmured restlessly.
The smile on Lei Ge’s face became brighter and brighter.
“How many points for an iron bead? I want to buy the one I brought on the last mission.”
“Five hundred.” The woman had a hoarse voice and glanced up at Ruan Xian. Her gaze slipped around the face of the young man on the other side of the glass, and her attitude eased a lot. “As a pet or a siren? Listen to me, the captain’s matter… Haa, who knows what will happen in the future. Supplies should be held firmly in your hands.”
“How can you say that?” Lei Ge raised his voice. “This little brother is very capable, and he wants to exchange for contribution points to get something cool. Can you manage it?”
“Please register, replace the supplies first, and I will take the iron bead away later.” Ruan Xian continued to ignore Lei Ge. “Can I get an advance on the ship?”
The woman’s movements paused. “Advance?”
“I only need 21,000.” Ruan Xian smiled and said, “But I have to use this boat again.”
Lei Ge looked confused. The woman in charge of the exchange gave him a glance. Her voice was a little low. “Sorry, for this kind of large exchange, it doesn’t allow the advance you mention…”
“If possible, I want to continue to exchange for the 21,000,” Ruan Xian continued. “Then use 20,000 for a chance to see Tu Rui, even if it’s not in person.”
“Are you kidding me? Isn’t this giving up a boat for nothing? At least leave a boarding fee… Hey, I told you this stuff. What about my share?” Lei Ge came back to his senses, and his eyes were anxious for an instant.
“When did I say I would lend it to you?” Ruan Xian waved his hand. “Miss, do you want to do business?”
“…I have to discuss it with the above. Young man, wait for me here for a few minutes.”
As soon as the woman’s figure disappeared from the door, Ruan Xian took out his gun. Lei Ge’s face turned purple, but in the end he didn’t say anything, and he could only leave the office angrily as he cursed expletives.
“The deputy captain said yes. It’s not a loss to meet at 20,000, but he won’t show up in person. He will only communicate with projection… Young man, is this fine?”
Two days later, Ruan Xian ended his communication with Fan Baiyan.
“I didn’t have to pick that hand just now.” Tu Rui stood up from the stool. He wiped the blood from his neck and curled his mouth into the void. “Your strength is not bad either, Gang Zi.”
“Xiao Ruan pretended to be like it. My hands were shaking so badly. Thanks to his simultaneous movements, he was able to block it. I was convinced of his reaction speed.” Although Tu Rui’s figure could only be seen, Gang Zi’s muffled voice came from the virtual image.
“Well, next, Mr. Ruan and I have something to talk about, so you can leave first.” Tu Rui made a gesture to the void and pushed Gang Zi away.
Ruan Xian left the driver’s seat of the ship and tore off the iron bead that was glued to the corner with super glue. Tu Rui’s figure flickered instantly, floating in place, shaking with the iron bead crawling all over the ground.
A virtual image.
“With your ability, you can mix well on any ship.” Tu Rui’s virtual image turned around, with a bandage wrapped around his neck. “Software engineers can still be found, but those who can modify hardware are very scarce. Just increasing the range of video communication is such a transformation, the people of the Elysium may not be able to do it.”
“People always want to go higher.” Ruan Xian fastened his waist bag and tied the iron beads to it in a nylon bag. “In other words, who doesn’t want to do it if they get the chance?”
“Are you sure Fan Baiyan will attack us?” After the projection facility hanging on the head of the iron bead was closed, only the sound from Tu Rui’s side was left.
“If I bring you over in a few weeks, he might still let me in. Two days is too fast. He can’t just trust me like this and put me and you in the base camp of Elysium.”
Ruan Xian tightened the sling around his waist and climbed out of the top of the boat.
“What’s more, if I kill you right in front of me, the Walking Stones will lose two captains one after another, and there’s no need to take any risk of exposing myself. He has been able to lead Elysium for so long that he should be able to calculate this.”
He tightened the rope without hesitation and fell into the darkness. He rolled into a crooked office building. Not long after, there was a huge explosion from the direction of the ship, and the entire ruin buzzed and shook for half a minute.
“In the end, we didn’t even get the ship.” The explosion interfered with the transmission, and Tu Rui’s voice was unstable for a few seconds. “You are quite good at doing business. Now it’s time to display the goods—you said you can disturb Elysium.”
“Yes, Tang Yibu is a biologist.” This may not be a lie. Ruan Xian turned on a flashlight and moved forward in the darkened office building. “We found the place where Elysium planted the flickering grass. He wanted to study them, but found that there was something wrong with them.”
“…What’s the problem?” Tu Rui was silent for a while, then asked calmly.
“It has lost its psychedelic effect,” Ruan Xian replied lightly, kicking away an office chair that had fallen at his feet. “Fan Baiyan will definitely cover up this issue to death. Even if I report it, at this terrible moment, you may not believe me as a newcomer. It’s faster just to show it directly to you.”
It was now.
The Mainbrain would definitely place people among the great forces so that it would be more convenient to control the situation. If there was no accident, the person on the Mainbrain’s side was more likely to be on Elysium.
But this was a matter of safety, and he had to rule out all dangerous possibilities.
Whether it was from Gang Zi’s dictation or the changes in the list, Yu Le, who had been struggling to live in the Sea of Ruins, had almost zero chance of obeying the Mainbrain. As long as Tu Rui had nothing to do with the Mainbrain, he could safely ask the whereabouts of the “Ruan Xian” in the wheelchair from the Walking Stones and then get out of this place of right and wrong as soon as possible.
As for the Elysium, he could observe it with Tang Yibu and use it as a pastime. If the “ghost” to be caught was on Elysium, Tang Yibu said that it really had little to do with his own interests.
“……Hmm.” His biggest goal, Tu Rui, seemed to be in contemplation.
“As disinfection is approaching, they can’t go to other places to pick them up temporarily,” Ruan Xian continued. “As far as our observations are concerned, the consumption of fireflies is extremely large, and Fan Baiyan won’t have too much inventory. As long as we expose this matter, Elysium will inevitably fall into chaos.”
“Very good.” Tu Rui’s voice finally sounded again. There was a complex mix of emotions in that tone that held relief, joy, hatred, and hope, but not rigid anxiety. “If your judgment is correct, this is probably an opportunity to save Yu Le. Listen, if you can really mess up Elysium, as long as it is not the position of the captain or deputy captain, I can agree to any of your requests.”
“Deal.” Ruan Xian smiled slightly.
He left the dark office building and headed towards the settlement of Elysium in his memory. At a distance of a few kilometers, it took him nearly three hours to find the familiar commercial building.
Ruan Xian brushed the stud earrings on his left ear with his fingertips.
[The second basement floor. Southeast corner.]
He sent a short message to Tang Yibu.
Ruan Xian didn’t want to issue this sentence, but direct instructions would be too impersonal. He didn’t know whether this sentence had an impact on the android, but it did succeed in letting a subtle sourness pass through his heart.
Five minutes later.
A head dropped in front of him, and his long black hair was stained with gray. Tang Yibu seemed to be in a good mood. After sticking out half of his body, the android opened his arms wide and made a hug gesture.
“Welcome back.” Tang Yibu’s tone was very brisk. “The show is about to start.”
Who do we think is the ghost? My guess is on Duan Lili.
In celebration of Stray completion, release for the rest of the chapters of this arc (9 chapters incoming). For those who like Happy Doomsday so far, I recommend you check out Stray, the author’s other work.