Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 95: Ruan Xian’s Whereabouts
Qian Yigeng had never been so scared.
Everything in front of him was completely beyond his comprehension. He survived the most dangerous and turbulent time in the world and rose to a high position in the Underground City. Unlike those arrogant bandits who looked to the sky, no matter what small power rose, he was the first to snoop it out.
In terms of business, he didn’t do work that was easy to offend, like Chang Yaqi. Who didn’t have lust and passion? To put it another way, he just rented out some machines, which wasn’t much different from an Internet café or a gaming hall of the earlier years. At least before the end of the world, no one would consider mechanical life, including androids, as a real life.
He even managed to build a relationship with the City Defenders. Qian Yigeng knew that he was definitely not the most powerful in the Underground City, but he was the safest.
However, now, two androids were standing in front of him. He An, who was supposed to help him, betrayed him, and was dying in the corner. His men were just outside the door, less than ten meters away, but the sound in the room was blocked, and his signal couldn’t be sent out.
It shouldn’t be like this.
His head was burning with pain, and the damn spherical mechanical life kept gnawing on his helmet, tearing his protective clothing to pieces. Qian Yigeng’s left eye was covered with blood, and the pain from all over his body almost made him faint.
Unable to faint, he gritted his teeth—listening to the android, they still wanted information from him, so he still had chips on the table.
“Spare my life, spare my life! You want information.” Qing Yigeng tugged at the corners of his mouth laboriously, giving up trying to pluck away the iron bead. “I—ouch—I know I was wrong!”
The iron bead happily bit off Qian Yigeng’s protective shoulder armor and then burped.
“I’m good. You guys can do whatever you want next.” Yu Le squatted next to He An and began to give him a simple bandage and detoxification. He An smiled weakly, pushed Yu Le’s hand away, and shook his head gently.
Yu Le frowned. “What?”
“This body doesn’t have long to live. I can feel it.” He An coughed up a mouthful of blood that was muddy purplish-black. “Ji Xiaoman got the needle. Qian Yigeng is finished. She will not turn against me… Just make sure that my memory is no longer threatened…”
“I will.” After completing a simple repair for Tiantian-Q2, Ji Xiaoman’s voice was still a bit indistinct.
He An smiled. “Very good, I knew there would be such a day… You are a mechanic and know how to parse cybernetic brain signals. Now let me take a good rest.”
“Why don’t I give you a filler shot?” Yu Le clicked his tongue. “Okay, your cybernetic brain won’t really be finished, but it’s quite uncomfortable for your body to die slowly.”
“I want to watch.” He An turned his gaze to Qian Yigeng.
There was no wavering in that gaze. Ruan Xian retracted his gaze, with no intention of further persuasion.
Although He An had a cybernetic brain, his own blood may not be useful to pure human flesh. Even if it could have an effect, the risk of exposing his secret was high.
Ruan Xian squatted down beside the bloodied Qian Yigeng and made a gesture. The iron bead spit out half of the fragments of the shoulder armor that it was chewing in its mouth, burped, and jumped to Tang Yibu’s feet and began to rub its round body around his pant legs.
Qian Yigeng was so shocked that he breathed a little faster.
“We found Ruan Xian’s wheelchair in your warehouse.” Ruan Xian fiddled with the metal piece in his hand. “The mind access needle is not something you can casually pick up on the streets. Mind explaining?”
“As long as you let me go—ahh, ahh!”
Ruan Xian cut Qian Yigeng’s skin cleanly with a sharp piece of metal. “Otherwise?”
“If I die, the information goes with me!” Qian Yigeng was shaking all over. The smell of urine on his body became stronger. “If you have the ability to kill me…”
“I don’t think so. There will always be information, just fewer details. You don’t seem to be the type who can physically move a wheelchair to the warehouse, and you take your bodyguards everywhere you go.” Ruan Xian pressed the metal sheet deeper. “Manpower is scarce these days, so you won’t change your men every few days. There will always be someone who knows… Looking at your reaction, I guessed right.”
Qian Yigeng wiped the blood from his face that had become shockingly pale. He turned to Ji Xiaoman. “He’s lying to you! The android made by Ruan Xian can’t be like this—like…”
“A monster.” Ruan Xian thoughtfully helped him complete his sentence. “Didn’t he and Fan Linsong also create MUL-01? It’s better to be a person who has a longer memory.”
Ji Xiaoman ignored Qian Yigeng, while Tang Yibu nodded solemnly. Ruan Xian was curious about which sentence he was affirming.
But he had more important things to do.
“I can dig out your nerves. Have you heard of the sciatic nerve*? The thickest one in the human body. There are a lot of good materials in this room… Guess how much pain you can endure?”
*Large nerve that runs alongside the hip joint and down the lower limb. It supplies sensation to the skin of the foot as well as the entire lower leg.
Qian Yigeng looked at him in disbelief.
“There are many things that are more painful than death.” Ruan Xian smiled. “I am still quite confident in my control, and I will not let you die easily.”
“I…I…” Qian Yigeng’s eyes began to drip, obviously he hadn’t given up hope yet.
Ruan Xian didn’t give him much time to think and rotated the metal sheet that pierced deeply into his muscles. He chose a good position, as there wasn’t much blood that came out.
“It’s useless to delay time and wait for blood loss.” After Qian Yigeng finished howling, he simply added.
Facing the bloody torture scene, Yu Le frowned slightly, and a trace of fear crossed Ji Xiaoman’s face. While the person close at hand, Tang Yibu, seemed eager to take a few pictures with a camera or find himself a bucket of popcorn.
Ruan Xian lowered his gaze, inexplicably feeling some peace of mind.
Seeing that his opponent didn’t shake or hesitate at all and realizing that he had kicked a real iron plate, Qian Yigeng finally began to collapse. He choked a few times, trying to speak as fast as possible. “Then… I picked up that needle…no! Don’t do it yet! I’ve mixed with the black market before, so I had prior knowledge of it. That’s why I recognized it…”
“You picked up the wheelchair too?” Ruan Xian’s voice became cold. “That’s quite a coincidence.”
“I… I have seen Ruan Xian,” Qian Yigeng said hurriedly. “The Underground City is a big place. The rebels camped here before. However, it was then liquidated by the Order Supervisors. That was less than two years ago. I think their base camp is in lower city.”
Ruan Xian stared at Qian Yigeng in silence, motioning him to continue.
“At that time, after the Order Supervisors left, I took people to the ruins there to pick it up. Just weapons you know… Then I ran into Ruan Xian in the vicinity, like a warehouse or something… With his strange face, no one will make a mistake…”
“You killed him?” Tang Yibu interrupted suddenly; his voice neutral.
“No! No! There were still a lot of rebels left, and I didn’t want to offend!” Qian Yigeng hurriedly shouted, “He… He was there alone at the time. I felt curious, so I took a peek for a bit. You know, with Ruan Xian’s physical condition, the bodyguards and assistants wouldn’t leave…”
“Continue,” Ruan Xian said calmly, playing with the bloody metal sheet in his hand.
“He didn’t look good. I mean, not very good mentally. He threw his belongings directly into the trash, got some supplies, and left alone… It didn’t look like he was waiting for anyone.”
“Impossible. He didn’t bring his wheelchair,” Tang Yibu continued to interrupt. The expressions on his face began to disappear. “Everyone knows that without that wheelchair, he can’t even maintain the most basic life functions.”
“That’s the scary thing, okay? I haven’t told anyone about this before.” Qian Yigeng’s voice was shaking. “I—When I saw him, he was standing upright, just like a normal person! He… He rode a hoverbike when he left. Although he looked a little unskilled, but… Haa, anyways, I got the needle from the bag he threw away.”
Tears overflowed in Qian Yigeng’s small eyes. “At that time, he wanted to burn down the warehouse. I got the needle and the wheelchair out before the fire spread. I was just bragging before. How could I steal something from Professor Ruan? I dare not even if ten people lent me their courage!”
Ruan Xian could see that the person in front of him wasn’t lying.
He didn’t have much special feelings about the information. Perhaps this meant that he was much more likely to be the “human Ruan Xian”, but he didn’t feel too many happy emotions.
Tang Yibu seemed to be the one who was even more shocked.
The android silently picked up the iron bead and rubbed the latter’s shell until it made squeaky sounds. Although he didn’t show too many emotions, Ruan Xian always felt that Qian Yigeng’s anxious behavior influenced Tang Yibu.
Yu Le stood near He An, with his mouth hissing and huffing. Ji Xiaoman just sat next to Tiantian-Q2, carefully handling the other party’s injuries and at the same time talking to her in a low voice, not knowing if she had heard the conversation or not.
“Remember any details?” Ruan Xian’s voice continued smoothly.
“I just fucking peeked for a while!” Qian Yigeng huffed. “I can remember more—Ow, I’m sorry! He—he went east. That’s all I remember! Please, you see, I have also helped a lot…”
“Oh, about that,” Ruan Xian stood up and walked to Tang Yibu’s side. “You’d better beg Miss Ji… Ji Xiaoman, do you need us to leave you?”
Ji Xiaoman stood up and walked slowly to Qian Yigeng’s side.
Qian Yigeng seemed to be convinced that Ji Xiaoman’s heart was softer, so he threw himself awkwardly at the girl’s feet, sobbing. “Xiaoman, I really know I was wrong. You can supervise in the future. I will definitely leave this business and the resources will belong to you. As long as you let me live…”
“I will let you live,” Ji Xiaoman said slowly. “I have been thinking about this just now. Well, first transfer all the passwords and access rights to me.”
Qian Yigeng’s whole body went soft, as if his mouth was damp, and his face was swollen. After half a minute, he shivered and got up. “Our Xiaoman has always kept her word. I’ll turn—I’ll turn—”
“Don’t try to play any tricks. I can tell the real from fakes.” Ji Xiaoman’s voice was extremely cold.
Yu Le raised his brows in surprise, but Ji Xiaoman didn’t notice his gaze. She pursed her lips tightly, clenched her half-broken metal hand tightly, and walked to the corner of the room.
“Lend me the mind access needle. I saw you pick it up.”
She didn’t look at Ruan Xian but stretched out a hand in his direction. Ruan Xian raised his eyebrows and handed over the needle that was already wiped clean.
Qian Yigeng had just finished transferring the message over, and seeing that no one acted, he began to crawl under the table.
Ji Xiaoman just turned on her wristband, glanced at the dense numbers on the screen, and then continued her movements—she walked to a wall full of weird equipment, somehow finding the hidden operation board. After some instructions, the wall closest to Qian Yigeng slowly slid away, revealing a special operating table for processing cybernetic brains.
“You…What are you doing?” Qian Yigeng became vigilant.
Ji Xiaoman didn’t say a word. She walked forward, connected the mind access needle to the operating table processor, and began working by herself.
“…I see, this is the android processing room.” Tang Yibu was the first to react. “Mr. Ruan, I think we need to lend a hand.”
“You two, can you help me lift Qian Yigeng up?” Sure enough, the next second, Ji Xiaoman laced up Tiantian-Q2 and made a request.
“You said you wouldn’t kill me!” Qian Yigeng screamed like a pig.
“Yes, I won’t kill you,” Ji Xiaoman repeated coldly. “Tiantian gave me a good idea. It just so happens that she doesn’t want… She doesn’t want those nasty memory data. Maybe there’s a place that’s more suitable for storing them.”
Qian Yigeng was stunned for a few seconds. “Impossible! I’m not an android and you’re not an Order Supervisor. It’s impossible to have that kind of technology…”
“I don’t have it, but Ruan Xian has it. The mind access needle can translate human memory data into cybernetic brains in large quantities, and I can do a reverse compilation.”
Ji Xiaoman asked Tiantian-Q2 to sit down in an armchair on one side, and the latter smiled weakly at her.
“…After all, I have studied this topic for more than five years and have some experience.”
Ruan Xian shook his head and decisively lifted Qian Yigeng onto the operating table with Tang Yibu. The latter struggled frantically and almost suffocated from crying.
“Are you sure?” Ji Xiaoman ignored Qian Yigeng, who was frantically kicking his legs, and she turned to Tiantian-Q2 with a sad expression on her face.
“This is not my memory,” the girl shook her head slowly and said with some difficulty. “They belong to you. I have nothing. And in the past few weeks, the ones that belong only to me, I… I prefer to forget them.”
She paused and looked at everything in front of her.
“You’re a nice person, Bai Tian. It wasn’t you who saved me, but your actual self*. If I had carried the memories of some other person, I may not have had the courage…”
*Clarity: Referring to Ji Xiaoman’s memories.
“…Memories are one thing, choices are another.” Ji Xiaoman felt uncomfortable adjusting the broken mechanical hand. “I don’t…”
“I’m very happy to have memories before the end of the world. Do you remember that summer? The dean bought piney raspberries for everyone. That memory always relaxes me. You can try it too.” Tiantian-Q2 interrupted her gently.
“…When you clear me, I don’t want you to enter other filler memories. I want to live by myself and see what kind of person I will become. I know I’ll be a bit dumb without access to MUL-01… but I should be able to survive.”
After that, she smiled. “I know you will agree. I just know.”
Ji Xiaoman used her metal arm to rub tears on her face so hard that she almost scratched it. After a long time, she took a deep breath and returned to her slightly cold look.
“You’re different.” Ji Xiaoman turned to Qian Yigeng. She called out the user interface of the mind access needle and fixed it on the processor again. “I’ll overwrite your memories with a loop of her memory data from those weeks. They’re all regular customers. I think you’ll recognize them.”
In Qian Yigeng’s horrified gaze, Ji Xiaoman typed rapidly on the user interface and finally pressed OK.
“There are indeed many things that are more painful than death.” She quietly summarized.
An hour later.
“…Women are terrible.” Yu Le bared his teeth in fear as he carried Ji Xiaoman’s mother on his shoulders. “I just want to beat that guy’s head to pieces at most…”
After the memory was entered, Qian Yigeng had an instant mental breakdown. He stuffed himself into the equipment cabinet full of sharp machinery, shaking the cabinet with a clatter, and blood kept flowing out of the gaps. He screamed senselessly, like a fat mouse that had been stimulated too much, and soon there was no sound.
He didn’t even make it past fifteen minutes.
“I can’t do too complicated operations; I can only overwrite his recent memory. He won’t remember anything about you. Even if someone wants to check it out, they can’t dig anything out of his mind.”
Ji Xiaoman’s voice was hoarse. She held Tiantian-Q2, who was already unconscious, and carefully guarded a small bag on her chest. There was still some blood oozing from the bag—He An’s cybernetic brain was lying quietly in the soft fabric.
“I saw that they still have old-fashioned models of bodies in stock. Most likely, they haven’t been used because of their appearance.” She took a breath. “If… If possible, I want to go to the warehouse to pick one up. When I take care of He An’s affairs, we can talk.”
She looked at Ruan Xian. “If you want Ruan Xian’s information, I might be able to add a little more.”
The author has something to say:
The next step is Yu Le’s one-on-two trial conference (?
Lao Yu: I don’t have any other ideas. I just want to know if they’re human. I have developed a distrust of the world (……