Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 92: Official Shot
Ruan Xian stopped at the door of the room where Qian Yigeng was located.
Just like last time, they took the clothes and disguised themselves as his subordinates. This time, Yu Le was lucky enough to find a fatter man, so his pants didn’t need to be stretched tightly over his muscles. Only it had gone to the other extreme—he didn’t have enough fat to support the clothes and the excess fabric fell loosely off his body, like skin after too much liposuction.
However, since Qian Yigeng’s subordinates weren’t a strict mercenary group, nor did they have a military-like mindset, most of them would only look at him twice. The three of them surrounded Tiantian-Q2, which wasn’t much different from other groups escorting goods.
At the moment, the subordinates were busy taking care of Ji Xiaoman’s android mother, who was huddled in the corridor with the rest of the other androids. Compared to the other androids who cursed and trembled in a low voice under the ends of the guns pointing at them, the beautiful female android was indeed visibly slower to the naked eye.
The room was masked with a soundproofing device, so there were no abnormal sounds, but this didn’t prevent Ruan Xian from hearing everything clearly. Now wasn’t the time to make a move against the battle between the sandpiper and clam*. The fisherman needed to consider the timing of his appearance.
*(鹬蚌相争) Idioms referring to the dispute between two parties will inevitably result in both losses and a third party will benefit. It comes from a historical fable, which you can read in my Kinky Thoughts.
The struggle indoors continued, and there were few human heartbeats left.
Across the door, Qian Yigeng glanced at his subordinates who fell to the ground, his expression becoming more displeased. The fat on his face was clustered together as he sighed pretentiously.
“Although I’m really angry, if you two stop now, I can still consider letting go of the past and forgetting about it.”
He glanced at Ji Xiaoman, who was moving on the ceiling, and the acrimony in his voice disappeared, turning into hypocritical regret.
“I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but over the years, you and I have become old acquaintances. It’s really hard to talk about. Why do you want to do business like this?”
He pressed his goggles again, as if he was wrapped in a walnut shell. “Find someone to create a fake organization, destroy my property, and force me to use Return South Wild Geese. Then pretend to come and save your mother and join forces with He An to take the opportunity to attack me… Tsk, tsk. That’s a good idea. It’s just that I’ve been here for so long and have gone through the sea of those who want this needle.”
Ji Xiaoman’s hands and feet were cold, and she was ready to throw a bomb. The bomb exploded at Qian Yigeng’s feet. Logically speaking, it should have blown up his calf, but it didn’t even shred a piece of the fat man’s trousers.
As if he had noticed Ji Xiaoman’s sight, Qian Yigeng patted his chest. “If you want to kill me, this little firepower isn’t enough. Okay, now the time I gave you two to repent is almost up. There’s no backtracking after the expiration.”
He An was obviously not the type who would be easily moved. He knocked away Qian Yigeng’s men in front of him and rushed directly towards Qian Yigeng. Ji Xiaoman understood the other party’s plan almost immediately—as long as they get close, they might not need to really rely on firepower to win. Even if a knife can’t penetrate Qian Yigeng’s protective clothing, with He An’s size and strength, he could at least choke Qian Yigeng’s neck so that the opponent would quickly suffocate.
Following the same idea, He An beautifully bypassed several people who came to obstruct him, stretched out his muscular arms, and directly hooped Qian Yigeng’s stubby neck wrapped in protective cloth.
Then He An’s face changed, he frowned, and he didn’t say a word as usual.
In the previous battle, he was shot several times in irrelevant parts, which stained red with blood on his clothes that were particularly conspicuous, but He An had always looked painless and his movements were always stable. The muscles on his arms bulged under his clothing and tightly locked around Qian Yigeng’s throat.
Everything should have gone very smoothly. Ji Xiaoman could see the force. Although Qian Yigeng could rely on his weight advantage to struggle for a while, if this trend were to continue, he would soon lose consciousness.
However, just as Qian Yigeng’s struggling movements were about to dwindle, He An suddenly let go of his hand and gasped with difficulty. He fell backwards and stood staggeringly against the wall, as if he had been stabbed in the lung by an invisible enemy.
“As I said, there are many people who want to find a chance to kill me.” Qian Yigeng rubbed his neck, “Don’t touch me. Do you hear me? This is poison. The medicine is very powerful. It’s pretty labor-intensive to make He An’s shell again, and now I have to find a way to explain to Fu Yu.”
Ji Xiaoman’s hands and feet were cold.
She might be able to jump down and attack Qian Yigeng in the same way, but even if her metal arms would not be poisoned, it was impossible for her entire body to remain untouched. Qian Yigeng usually dressed casually, and He An, who had a lot of encounters with him, didn’t warn her. She thought the other party wouldn’t be so shrewd.
Just as she was stunned, another bullet flew over her shoulder, and the severe pain caused her to almost fall to the ground. Ji Xiaoman gritted her teeth and threw a few more bombs in the direction of Qian Yigeng.
Thinking about it, Qian Yigeng, a type who was as timid as a mouse and was extremely afraid of death, would obviously go to the extreme in preparation. She thought it was her own preparation that wasn’t enough. This wasn’t like a game; even if she found her pitfalls now, she couldn’t just restart again.
The pain and fear of near failure were so intense that the air turned to liquid, choking her to the point where she almost lost consciousness.
What should I do?
The rubble from the explosion passed across the side of her face, and warm blood flowed down her cheeks. He An stood silently against the wall and continued to shoot at Qian Yigeng’s men who were trying to attack him. He could no longer move as nimbly as before and could now only stagnantly move, trying his best to ensure that his mobility wouldn’t be lost too quickly.
That handsome face was blank. The cybernetic bran wouldn’t be deactivated by death, and Qian Yigeng wouldn’t easily erase the memory specifically provided for Fu Yu. For He An, the so-called death was nothing more than a period of functional cessation.
But for herself…
“Last chance.” Qian Yigeng raised his head, obviously intending to focus on Ji Xiaoman. “I can spare your life, Ji Xiaoman.”
“Then what?” Ji Xiaoman said hoarsely. “Lock me up and make me work for you until I die?”
“That can’t be helped. I can’t give He An another chance to do stupid things. It’s safest to not be exposed, don’t you think?” Smothered by protective clothing, Qian Yigeng’s voice sounded a bit breathless.
He An finally didn’t have the strength to move any longer. He barely maintained his standing position as blood accumulated into a small pool under his feet. He still had that lurid smile on his face, but there was a bit of sarcasm behind it.
The other party was standing a few steps away from him, and he couldn’t do anything about it. Ji Xiaoman began to feel that her limbs were unable to exert strength. Her mother was still outside the door, so she should consider saving her life. Since she destroyed a lot of Qian Yigeng’s industry, the next life wouldn’t be too far from hell, but as long as she still had value, she and her mother could still live… By continuing to create new pain, barely surviving.
There was only one spider silk left in her hell—Her mother’s intelligence wasn’t enough to cooperate with Qian Yigeng, but she was simply used. Maybe over the years, she would leave a trace in the heart of her illusory relative.
Otherwise, she really would have nothing left.
This brief rebellion, as well as her only remaining sense of morality, suggested that it was time to draw a line in the sand.
Finally, Ji Xiaoman couldn’t hold back the tears that fell from her eyes. After all, she made the wrong bet. She shouldn’t have been disturbed by that group of outsiders and temporarily come up with a new plan.
Ji Xiaoman finally fell from the ceiling. An electronic chain restrained her hands and feet. She was forced to lie on the ground as one of Qian Yigeng’s remaining subordinates stepped on her spine. The words in her throat seemed to be stuck. “I…”
Qian Yigeng was right. She was indeed easily emotional. Even now, she still couldn’t say a sentence that showed weakness.
Seeing that the other party was still shaking, Qian Yigeng shook his head. He gasped, enjoying the pleasure of giving hope for a while before crushing it, and then used his wristband to give instructions to the people outside.
“Bring that woman in,” he ordered.
Three heavily armed men wearing gas masks took her mother in like a sheep and also brought in Tiantian-Q2 that should have been hidden outside. Tiantian-Q2 collapsed beside Ji Xiaoman; the latter’s face was as white as a sheet, and her lower lips were trembling uncontrollably.
After knowing the origin of Tiantian-Q2, this scene made her uncomfortable.
“Still unconvinced, right? How exciting.” Qian Yigeng’s voice was still a bit tense, but it was slowly dissipating. “Dumbass. Who asked you to bring Q2 in too? Forget it. The effect may be better. Make sure you step on her, and make sure you watch her well.”
He took out a long, blood-stained needle from the depths of his protective clothing.
It was about the length of a chopstick. The thickness was not much different from a knitting needle, and a rough metal chain was fixed to it at the end. The surface of the mind access needle was black, with not much reflection; only fluorescent blue fine lines were all over the needle like cobwebs, some bright while others fading.
He An, who was leaning against the wall, struggled for a while, as if trying to pounce on it, but he was quickly held down by Qian Yigeng’s men. He couldn’t get anything except more serious blood loss.
“Don’t you want to know where the real Ji Xiaoman is? Sitting right next to you. Speaking of which, you still gave her the opportunity to move around.” Qian Yigeng waved his hand in the direction of Tiantian-Q2, and the girl looked at Qian Yigeng in confusion.
“Thinking of this, this was the first batch of goods I got. I smashed this woman’s cybernetic brain with my own hands. Alas, at that time, the rebellion had just begun, and I didn’t know how to do it.”
Qian Yigeng walked up to Ji Xiaoman, who was firmly pinned down and squatting down his obese body.
“Who made the little girl next to you so beautiful? It’s a pity that while she had a good shell, she was a mentally retarded person who had been driven crazy due to memory therapy. At the beginning, I was able to survive by relying on the supplies she had ‘contributed’ to me… But when the Underground City developed, there are few that would like to play a fool.”
Qian Yigeng smiled.
“Without this needle, it’s not easy to get memories into a cybernetic brain. People need to live, and time is long. Some of the little girls outside have started their own businesses, so it was hard to find a pure one. At the beginning, I could only sell second-class goods. It was thanks to you that I was able to develop new products… Ji Xiaoman’s beautiful shell, coupled with your memory data, the Tiantian series has been the most popular since the very beginning.”
“No,” Ji Xiaoman murmured weakly, shaking her head desperately. Her world was darkening uncontrollably, and despair gave her the illusion that there was an abyss under her.
“Now you understand. Businessmen have to be a little superstitious. If it weren’t for this matter, I wouldn’t keep you because of a little ingenuity. Do you know how much of my fortune you have blown up? Xiaoman, hurry up and apologize. Or should I call you Bai Tian?”
He stepped on Ji Xiaoman’s head and kept talking, not paying attention to the door being quietly locked by the big “subordinate” whose clothes didn’t fit well. The soundproofing device left by He An began to operate quietly again.
“…” Ji Xiaoman clenched her imprisoned metal palm tightly. Her face was full of tears, but she still remained silent.
Tiantian-Q2 sat paralyzed among the shell casings and debris on the ground. Her sweet and beautiful facial features were distorted.
“It’s true you don’t shed a tear until you see the coffin*.” He beckoned to the android known as TCR-mother05 to step forward. The female android did so meekly. Qian Yigeng held her shoulder with one hand, motioned her to kneel down, and then inserted the needle straight into the back of her neck.
*(不见棺材不落泪) Metaphor referring to refusing to be convinced until one is faced with grim reality. Not giving up until you completely fail.
Ji Xiaoman let out a suppressed scream.
The wound didn’t bleed much as countless light screens with operating interfaces emerged around the needle. Qian Yigang simply poked a few buttons.
“This was still the most expensive nursing style at the time, and the identification system was first-class. I put her next to Tiantian-Q2 and occasionally her broken system would function normally. Just as well, now I can make her more sober. Don’t you want her to be free? Don’t you want to fix her? Well now, let me show you the results in advance.”
As the needle gradually deepened, the expression of the female android slowly changed.
The gentle smile that was originally a little silly slowly disappeared, and a bit of shrewdness surfaced in her empty eyes. She straightened her back, and her whole body exuded a bit of elegance, as if she was a noblewoman that had just walked out of a movie.”
“Mom,” Ji Xiaoman whispered.
The familiar person was no longer clumsily knitting sweaters, and no longer had the slightest soft breath. For a moment, she thought it was a stranger standing across the room, instead of the mother who urged her to sleep every day and would tenderly hug her.
She started to become a little afraid.
The female android turned her head in the direction of Ji Xiaoman without showing too much emotion. Just like facing a vocal object, she just stiffened her face and didn’t respond to Ji Xiaoman’s call. Then she turned her gaze to Tiantian-Q2, who was kneeling on the ground, and finally looked around the entire environment, obviously studying her current situation.
“Report, the current year is 2107. The plan was delayed by external forces,” she recounted to the void, her voice clean and powerful. “Recovery priority is determined. TCR-mother05 continues to perform the mission.”
In the next moment, most of the humans could barely see her movements. The female android took Qian Yigeng’s gun and shot straight at Ji Xiaoman’s neck. She acted like a well-trained soldier.
Tang Yibu had no intention of acting. Ruan Xian instinctively wanted to move, but someone took advantage of the distance and was one step faster than him—Tiantian-Q2 covered Ji Xiaoman first. The bullet hit her lungs from the back, and she let out a small scream.
Although in the junkyard, the female android still looked like she cared about Tiantian-Q2. Now, she didn’t say a word, not even showing her programmed look of appeasement.
“Mom, it’s me.” Ji Xiaoman’s voice trembled.
The blood of the other person kept dripping into her short hair, drenching it. ‘What should she do?’ she thought, but she was so firmly pinned down that her entire body ached. She turned to Qian Yigeng with difficulty. “You sealed her memories, didn’t you? Qian Yigeng, you…”
“I don’t have such awesome skills.” Qian Yigeng shrugged. “Hey, didn’t I tell you? When I found her, she was about to kill that retarded little chick, just like right now.”
TCR-mother05 squatted down in front of the injured Tiantian-Q2. She stretched out her hand expressionlessly. The skin on her hand was horribly cracked, revealing the complex components under it. She bent this deformed hand to the point where it was impossible for humans to do, and then caught Tiantian-Q2 left arm that was holding Ji Xiaoman.
Less than five centimeters from Ji Xiaoman’s eyes, the left arm slowly turned to ash from where it was touched.
“…Stop it, mom.”
She had never shed so many tears in her life. No matter what effect Qian Yigeng wanted to achieve, he succeeded. Now she had only regret and fear, wishing she could turn back time so that she could forget these desperate truths.
“Exciting, right? You see, it’s troublesome when it’s fixed. Stop crying. If she laughs, that means she loves you and wants to take care of you, right? Children are so easy to cheat.”
Qian Yigeng yanked the metal chain, and the needle inserted into the back of the female android’s neck was dragged out. The android froze in the air, while the laughter in his voice became more obvious.
“Hurry up and apologize. Then you can continue to live with your stupid mother.”
As a result, before he could finish speaking, Qian Yigeng was punched back a few steps by a man who rushed up.
“Laozi has seen a lot of salacious things over the years.” Yu Le used the extra length of his clothes to tie them into a makeshift boxing glove. “I used to think Fan Baiyan was the most disgusting person, but now I feel like I’ve wronged him a bit.”
As Yu Le spoke, he gave Qian Yigeng a fierce kick in the crotch.
“Fuck you. It’s you who should apologize.”
The author has something to say:
Captain Yu is officially angry (×
This is the real relationship between Ji Xiaoman and Bai Tian… Tiantian-Q2 is a composition of the two (.
Below is the fable of the Sandpiper and the Clam and a little historical lesson about its origin.
The Sandpiper and the Clam
One day, taking advantage of the sunny weather, a clam opened up its hard shell to bask in the sun on the river of the beach. A sandpiper saw it and quickly put its beak into the clam shell to peck at the meat inside. The calm hurriedly closed its hard shell and sealed the sandpiper’s mouth shut. The sandpiper couldn’t peck at the meat, and its mouth was sealed shut, so it threatened the clam and said, “If you don’t loosen your clamp on me, you will eventually die of thirst.” The clam responded without showing weakness, “Your mouth has been clamped by me. If you can’t pull it free, you’ll starve to death!” In this way, the clam and sandpiper fought each other on the beach, and neither would relent. Over time, they became exhausted. A fisherman happened to pass by, and when he saw that they were tightly entangled and neither could move, he easily caught them and took them both home.”
This story was told during the Warring States Period, when the Qin Empire was strongest. On one occasion, the Empire of Zhao declared war on the State of Yan. At the time, the king’s younger brother, Su Dai, was entrusted to go to the Empire of Zhao to persuade the King of Zhao to not send troops. When he arrived, the King of Zhao demanded what he was doing here, to which he told the fable.
After finishing, Su Dai said to the King of Zhao, “If the Empire of Zhao and the State of Yan go to war, the two sides will inevitably be at a standstill for a long time, eventually becoming exhausted. In this way, the might Qin Empire will be like the fisherman, who just needs to sit back and reap the benefits. Your Majesty, please consider it carefully before making a decision.” The King of Zhao felt that what Su Dai said was reasonable and dispelled the idea of attacking the State of Yan.