Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 79: Two Girls
Ji Xiaoman adjusted the prosthetic limbs of her arms and calves in front of the workbench.
This was her daily routine of going to bed every day. Whether it was a dull knife blade or a jammed bullet, it was easy for people to pay the price with their lives for a little negligence. On weekdays, she always patiently oiled every part, not letting go of any new scratches and freeing herself from the suffocating environment.
But she couldn’t return to that state of concentration today.
The three men returned to their armored off-roader and fell asleep in the car. She locked the door of the container tightly, thought for a moment, and then pulled a heavy parts box to block the door.
Her mother was as quiet as ever as she sat on the edge of the bed. Her sweater needle was throbbing in her hand. Ji Xiaoman stood up upset, threw the metal bowl with a little noodle soup left next to her mother into the bucket, and decided to change her mind.
The black eyes of the young man surnamed Ruan were nailed to her mind, like stubborn ink marks on a white wall.
‘She shouldn’t have hesitated,’ Ji Xiaoman thought to herself. Just follow the original plan. When those people successfully get the mind access needle and remove the device in her mother’s mind, she could use the savings of these years to change the face of her mother and herself and open a new store in some other corners. Yes, she could choose a relatively low-skilled job, which would still be enough to feed the stomachs of two people.
Taking a step back, even if they failed, she could still submit to Qian Yigeng and life would continue as usual. If that group of people really killed Qian Yigeng, it would really be free profit no matter how she looked at it.
Yet she was still hesitating.
Ji Xiaoman wiped her hands irritably with a towel, crossed the fragmented parts box on the ground, sat next to the female android, and hugged her carefully. Smelling the familiar smell of her mother, her eyes turned sour for a moment.
“Mom,” Ji Xiaoman muttered in a low voice.
Her mother, who would not grow old, picked up the corner of her mouth and patted her head.
“Mom, what should I do?” She buried her face in the other person’s shoulders. “I know what’s the safest… But if they fail, I will have to work for Qian Yigeng sooner or later. They are not familiar with life here, and my assistance can definitely improve their success rate…”
Ji Xiaoman whispered intermittently, brushing her fingers across the shapeless red fabric and murmuring, “What should I do?”
The female android smiled softly and slowly stroked her hair with her hands.
The young girl tightened her arms, and her body finally shook slightly. Ji Xiaoman hated herself for being shaken. The most logically reasonable choice was right in front of her, but she couldn’t feel at ease, as if there was a cluster of poisonous fire roasting near her heart.
“I’m scared,” she whispered in a low voice, and leaned back into the woman’s arms again.
“Good girl, don’t be afraid.” The female android’s voice was soft and soothing. “What are you afraid of?”
“I don’t know.” Ji Xiaoman only felt tired, and the smell of her mother made her drowsy. ‘It must be because she was too tired,’ she thought. She couldn’t figure out what she was afraid of—the failure of those people, the dangerous elements themselves, or herself, who was still hesitant.
“It’s okay. Go to sleep,” the woman said softly, putting down the sweater needles in her hand. “The closet is closed, and I have looked under the bed. Mom is here. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Ji Xiaoman tried her best to smile but failed. She slid into the bed’s side, hung her cold and painful prosthetic limbs outside the blanket, and tossed around in a daze for a long time before falling asleep.
Just like a night with a fever, she had a lot of dreams when she didn’t usually have any. They were like fragments glued together by memories, mixed with a lot of blood, making it difficult for her to breathe.
When the Great Rebellion broke out in the 22nd century, she was just in her early teens.
Artificial intelligence targeted major cities as economic and technological hubs and focused on “taking care” of important buildings such as major scientific research institutions, universities, and government agencies. The dilapidated orphanages on the edge of the city were obviously not among them.
In her memory, she had never had intact arms. She didn’t know if it was caused by an accident or a natural deformity. Bionic prostheses weren’t cheap these days, but they weren’t incredibly expensive, but her parents still decided to give up on her.
When she first became sensible, Ji Xiaoman thought about countless possibilities—did their relationship break down? Was there a problem financially? Or did she have a more unfortunate sibling, and they had to choose one?
However, as the year passed, the children in the orphanage came and went, and she gradually didn’t want anything anymore.
Until the world she knew was gone.
The outbreak of chaos caused the rapid collapse of order. The management staff disappeared without a trace, and the children fled blindly. She subconsciously fled into the nearest garbage disposal pile and squatted in the rubble tremblingly. At first, a lot of food could be found in the garbage, but later only insects, mice, and moss could be eaten.
Such a muddled life lasted for a year? Two years? One day, the junkyard suddenly collapsed, and she fell into the dark underground, almost pierced by a construction machine.
If she hadn’t had a mother, she would have died in the Underground City that was quickly built. People did everything they could to build a space for themselves to rest, but after they got a place to live, their hearts gradually collapsed. Before the emergence of the organization of the City Defenders, people could step on improvised bombs on the streets at any time or be stopped in a dark alley and shot.
She thought she didn’t remember the sight of the explosion, but it was extremely clear in her dream.
She saw her calf fly out with her own eyes, and her only intact arm was also blown to bits, leaving only a little flesh that was still connected. The blood continued to spread on the ground, and even the lights reflected a little shadow of things on the street.
For a while, it seemed that only her own heavy and rapid breathing, as well as the increasing severe pain, were left between heaven and earth.
It wasn’t that no one had passed by. It was just that no one had stopped. At that time, her clothes could only cover her body and her hair was tangled into a foul-smelling mess. She was just a dying child, and in this city, the status of a child wasn’t much different than that of a white mouse—rare and useless.
People had reached a point where it was more important to live day by day and no one bothered to care about the future.
Ji Xiaoman still remembered the first time she saw her mother.
The figure of the woman stopped in front of her, and Ji Xiaoman could only smell a warm fragrance. It smelled like diluted butter and the smell of good burning wood from a fireplace. Excessive blood loss blurred her vision and filled her nose so that she could barely smell anything.
“Don’t go,” she cried in a low voice, tears streaming across her scorched, blackened and dusty face. “Help me, don’t go.”
The woman squatted down and stroked her cheek with her hand. “Xiaoman?”
Then she picked her up carefully. Not knowing if it was because she was suffering from hypothermia at that time, but she felt it was probably the warmest embrace she had ever felt in her life.
She simply bandaged her, but she didn’t know where she got the blood for the transplant and the anti-inflammatory drugs. Thinking about it now, that pitiful dose was definitely not enough, but Ji Xiaoman survived.
During that time, the woman suffered a lot of burns and became a lot paler. Ji Xiaoman could probably guess the source of the medicine. The kind and beautiful woman didn’t take her back to her residence but instead made a clean place in the corner of some ruins. She occasionally brought drinking water, food, and blankets, just like she was feeding a sick kitten. It didn’t take long for Ji Xiaoman to notice the strangeness.
Her savior’s brain didn’t seem to be working either—she always had only a smile on her face, could only say simple words, and couldn’t remember her name.
The woman stubbornly called her “Ji Xiaoman”, and Ji Xiaoman quickly accepted the name. Even if the woman hadn’t expressed any identity relationship with the name, she naturally changed her address and began to call the other person “mother”.
The other party also accepted the name with a smile.
However, when she discovered the situation of her new mother, Ji Xiaoman’s insignificant family fantasy was completely shattered. Qian Yigeng had officially become her nightmare and the only motivation for her struggling to become a mechanic.
The next dream that followed started to become bitter. Countless bloody fragments swirled in her mind. Ji Xiaoman would go to Qian Yigeng’s shop to visit her mother secretly at first, but then she didn’t even have the courage to visit. Her mother would also slip away when she was allowed some “fresh air”, giving her a hug with a smile on her face and scars on her body.
Some androids were required to maintain their external appearance. As a price, their life span was shorter than that of ordinary androids and their physique more fragile. Qian Yigeng’s rough brain modification obviously left a lot of problems. Her mother spoke less, and her reaction became dull. This was obviously not good for “business”. Time and time again, the injuries to her mother’s body were getting worse.
That was when she decided to start fighting the mechanical beings and find a way to raise resources to buy out her mother.
However, she didn’t know whether she was lucky or unfortunate—medical resources were limited after all. Qian Yigeng deceptively sold her mother to guests and got a lot of weapons in return, then no longer cared about the life and death of the product. Ji Xiaoman knew that he would not easily give up an old-fashioned cybernetic brain that still had hope of repair. This was an opportunity.
She could quietly try to repair it herself and persuade Qian Yigeng to remove the device at a lower cost. At first, this plan seemed to have some effect, and Qian Yigeng was very happy that someone would deliver the supplies to his door.
However, he accepted the resources of the former little girl and only promised to reset the time when the device would take effect.
“Don’t blame me, I can only do this.” He pretended to show a regretful expression. “The technology is limited. This consumes resources, and most of the things she used to support you are stolen from me—Summer Street is the only place where there is good medicine, and I’m also half your benefactor. Little girl, we must pay attention to the ‘righteousness’ in life so we can cooperate for a long time.”
With the passage of time, she gained the combat power and knowledge she once craved, but she was still as powerless as she was when she was a child.
The fragments of the past were gone, and only darkness was left in the dream. She finally opened her eyes and looked at the dark car roof. Hatred, desire, and fear were mixed together, and her heartbeat had never been faster.
At the same time.
Another young girl was stumbling forward in the ruins. She was wearing a gas mask that was a bit too big on her face, wearing a dirty torn coat and a skirt that was dyed red. Her bare feet were covered with blood, and many showed signs of scabs.
After being helped by those two strange and handsome men, the little girl named “Tiantian-Q2” didn’t escape too far. In fact, she circled around the ruins in confusion—Behind her was the known hell, and ahead was the unknown abyss. She began to regret it. Maybe she should have drunk more water or gotten some food from the cupboard in the room.
The owner of “Flower Spot” went to deliver goods but hadn’t come back. People came and went near the shop, and no one even noticed that she was no longer in the room. The little girl who had been wandering for hours licked her lips and leaned down into the ruins. Through the hole in the window, she could imagine the iron bucket of champagne, which was once filled with ice, and now there should be cool water…
But before her imagination was over, the roar swept across the night sky.
First, a few familiar figures who were almost exactly the same as herself ran out and fled in all directions. The guards that were chasing them fell one by one. Next, the small store rose up with thick smoke, spewing high flames into the sky.
The flame was an abnormally bright red color, emitting fireworks-like spots of light into the sky. They circled and rose in the air, and finally formed a crooked smiley face.
The author has something to say:
Xiaoman’s mother is not a transformation, nor is it a copy of her real mother XD