Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 97: Temporary Team
In order to repair her arm, Ji Xiaoman turned on enough bright lights in the abandoned house. For a while, Ji Xiaoman and Yu Le looked at each other with dissatisfied stares as one small and one big pair of eyes locked in combat. Under the reflection of light, the shadow cast made their faces a little more murderous.
Since leaving Tiantian-Q2 and her mother and resting alone, Ji Xiaoman had become quite cynical. Yu Le was very suspicious, not to mention that the two little bastards on the opposite side were androids. Even if they were real ghosts or demons, this girl wouldn’t really care—he could guess the other party was full of thoughts regarding her mother’s situation.
Captain Yu understood very well, but when it came to foreign languages, like technical issues, God knows how long these people would babble on for. If he had to stay and listen for another hour or two, he would probably have suffocated to death.
So he looked at Ji Xiaoman firmly and didn’t show weakness because the other party was a little girl.
After a long time, Ji Xiaoman finally turned her head away, silently withdrawing from this cold war.
“I’ll get something to eat,” she said bluntly, putting down the screwdriver in her hand. The wire on her left arm was still hissing. “You guys talk first.”
“Explain.” Seeing Ji Xiaoman leaving the room, Yu Le’s tone suddenly became a lot more unceremonious.
“What do you want me to explain?” Ruan Xian’s voice was serious, while Tang Yibu hugged the iron bead with an expression of “I’m just an innocent android and I don’t know anything”.
“I knew something was wrong. How can a white face of this quality run around all over the place these days? Not only that, but there are also two of them, and they both come with good ability.” Yu Le tsked. “You said you are an android made by Ruan Xian? As far as I know, Ruan Xian doesn’t like androids. That kid, Tu Rui, kept muttering about him for God knows how long. Besides, I still believe that one over there is also an android. You…”
Yu Le looked Ruan Xian up and down, and the end of the sentence was quite meaningful.
“Although I don’t care much about that guy’s life or death, my buddy admires him. Even for humans, I can’t give information to two androids.”
Ji Xiaoman entered the door carrying a cake. She listened to the conversation between her ears and sat on the floor in the corner. The young mechanic ate the cake in small bites, obviously not meaning to avoid suspicion.
“It’s just a lie to coax Qian Yigeng.” Ruan Xian ignored Ji Xiaoman, who was listening in, and replied without thinking. “After all, Ji Xiaoman’s mother made such a miscalculation. I just went along with it—facing androids is more stressful than facing humans.”
“Of course you can say whatever you want now. Aren’t you just coaxing me? Who can’t take the helm when you see the wind*?” Yu Le huffed. “Where’s the evidence? I don’t think I can judge more accurately than other androids. Ji Xiaoman’s mother looks pretty advance.”
*Metaphor referring to adapting to the situation. || In this context, he’s saying he went with the flow to coax Qian Yigeng and now he’s doing it again to coax Yu Le.
“The androids before the end of the world were judged by brain signal radiation.” Seeing that her mother was mentioned, Ji Xiaoman interrupted in a low voice. “A complete human brain’s feedback on micro-radiation is different from that of a cybernetic brain. Well… In general, this judgement is not necessarily accurate.”
Yu Le raised his eyebrows at the girl in the corner. Ji Xiaoman was halfway through speaking and continued to chew on the cake without any further explanation. She beckoned to π in Tang Yibu’s arms and put a few parts waste unloaded from her arms in her hand, in a posture to lure small animals.
The iron bead immediately moved as saliva slowly flowed out, soaking Tang Yibu’s sleeve in a dark color.
Who the hell knows if this girl came here to pick a fight? Captain Yu was suffocating from the pain in his lungs.
“In short, I want evidence. Those things that I don’t understand can’t be used.” Yu Le raised his voice. “After all, MUL-01 doesn’t lack machines to command. Even if it doesn’t send Order Supervisors to such a place… What are you doing?”
Ruan Xian rolled up his left sleeve, stood up, and threw the half-pack of cookies to Tang Yibu. The latter happily accepted it, and the iron bead took the opportunity to twist out of Tang Yibu’s arms and roll towards Ji Xiaoman.
“Evidence.” He stretched out his left wrist to Yu Le. “See for yourself.”
Yu Le leaned his face closer, and the expression on his face slowly became more complicated.
Ruan Xian had several thin scars on the inside of his left wrist, interspersed with three small moles. Those scars were particularly hideous on the fair skin, and the obvious scar characteristics didn’t look fresh; anyone could guess their cause.
“Although I don’t know much about androids, I guess they won’t do this kind of thing.” Ruan Xian put away his sleeves very calmly. “Captain Yu is very experienced. You should be able to see that they were not forged by me temporarily.”
Yu Le raised his head and looked at the other person’s eyes; his expression becoming more complicated. “Oh, how do I know you weren’t ready from the beginning, just waiting for this lie?”
“Then I would have a better way, such as creating special accidental scars elsewhere.”
Ruan Xian smiled quickly, without much of a smile in his eyes.
“If Miss Ji’s statement is correct, I probably know the reason. I had an accident before the end of the world, suffered brain damage, and was treated with nanorobots. In a sense, I’m not considered a ‘complete human brain’, and Ji Xiaoman’s mother’s error in judgment is also excusable.”
“How can I put it…” Lao Yu scratched his head again. “You don’t seem to be… Uh, I mean, you don’t seem to be the type who would think about it.”
“I just didn’t understand when I was a kid.” Ruan Xian could feel Tang Yibu’s gaze behind his head, and he inserted his left hand into his pocket. “Not everyone has a happy childhood like Ruan Xian.”
“This operation also went a bit too smoothly to be believable. It’s like you calculated something in advance—”
“Not really.” Ruan Xian continued to spit out the truth without leaking. “Only relying on prediction and inferences, and then expecting things to develop exactly according to conjecture, I’m afraid that only God can do that. I just use information to adapt to changes. Doesn’t Captain Yu know best? These days, adaptable idiots are better than stubbornly smart people.”
This was his sincere statement.
A purely high IQ could never solve all problems, or at least it didn’t guarantee one would live smoothly. It was often other things that played a decisive role, such as communication level, means of disguise, and insight and manipulation of your opponent’s mentality.
For example, the tolerance for loneliness and harm.
“All right, all right.” Yu Le said. Although he acted as if he was convinced, his eyes of wistful doubt hadn’t subsided. “I’m going out for a cigarette. You guys continue talking. I’ll think about whether to take you guys or not when the limelight passes on Qian Yigeng’s side.
After that, he took a homemade cigarette from his pocket, patted his pants, and walked out of the room slowly. Ruan Xian turned to Ji Xiaoman, intending to continue the conversation. However, before he could speak, Tang Yibu grabbed his left arm.
The android squeezed his left wrist in front of his eyes and tilted his head slightly so that the light could illuminate the scars more clearly. After looking at it for a few seconds, Tang Yibu leaned out his fingertips and gently touched the scar.
‘It’s a bit itchy,’ Ruan Xian thought.
Perhaps he also had to consider how to deal with Tang Yibu. Although Tang Yibu had made his own judgement and had always firmly believed that he was an android, this scar was indeed confusing. He could distort the truth a little, and when the other party asked, make something half-fake, half-true for him to hear—just like he did with Yu Le.
But Tang Yibu didn’t ask any questions. He just stroked the scars as if exploring for truth or falsehood. In the end, he put his lips on it, and the tip of his tongue ran along the scars.
“It’s not forged,” he muttered in a low voice, sounding a little hazy.
“Continuing where we left off.” Ruan Xian slowly pulled back his wrist. The heat on the tip of the other party’s tongue made him a little uncomfortable. “Miss Ji, I did lie to Qian Yigeng, but I didn’t really deceive you. Your mother can indeed be saved.”
Compared to Yu Le, Ji Xiaoman had always been much quieter. She didn’t care about Ruan Xian’s lies; she only had her mother’s affairs on her mind.
“I was a researcher in a related field before the end of the world, and I’m also in contact with the person who designed the pill. He’s Ruan Xian’s student, Guan Haiming. I don’t know if you have heard of him.”
“As far as I understand it, this kind of medicine should completely block the thinking system, not destroy the physical structure of the cybernetic brain—we have stayed in the Petri Dish No. 1036 before. The people over there, after subduing the bionics with the pill, would make their own adjustments and corrections so those machines would work for them. Such a thing couldn’t be achieved if the vital parts of the cybernetic brain were burned out through the program.”
Hearing what Ruan Xian said, Ji Xiaoman’s eyes lit up a little.
“Just like a normal machine in sleep mode, it can indeed be repaired in this way,” she whispered, scribbling formulas on the ground with junk parts and trying to ensure that her temporary pen holder would not be gnawed on by the iron bead. “But…”
“But it is more difficult to repair. I don’t want to hide from you. Even if we’re familiar with the relevant theories, there is no guarantee that we will succeed the first time… After all, the cybernetic brain is a sophisticated thing, and its maintenance threshold is frighteningly high. Previously in the Research Institute, we all used nano-level robotic arms for maintenance and debugging.”
Ruan Xian ignored Tang Yibu’s increasingly weird gaze and continued calmly. He easily touched the water bottle and poured himself a glass of water.
“Your mother is just like those. My theory is only within the scope of speculation. Judging from the situation of Petri Dish No.1036, their level of maintenance also stops at giving androids the most basic thinking circuit.”
“The lack of theory and maintenance tools is normal.” Ji Xiaoman didn’t feel discouraged at all. She breathed a long sigh of relief, and her expression finally loosened a little. “I see, thank you. But let me ask… You keep asking about Ruan Xian. Are you going to find him?”
“Yes.” Ruan Xian didn’t deny it. “But the details are inconvenient to disclose.”
“I’ll go with you, okay?” Ji Xiaoman raised her eyes. “…You don’t look very surprised.”
‘In fact, it’s not hard to guess,’ Ruan Xian thought. Whether it was theory or maintenance tools, there would definitely be better ones on the other “Ruan Xian’s” side. Since Ji Xiaoman was the top mechanic here, she wouldn’t gain any new knowledge for the time being. Even if they couldn’t find Ruan Xian, she could get more information from outside.
Unintentionally entangled in this topic, Ruan Xian tugged at the corners of his mouth. “I personally have no opinion. We also happen to need a skilled mechanic.”
There was no need for deep human affection. It was enough if they shared the same interest.
The iron bead, who had a mouthful of parts, tried to bounce around on the ground to show its agreement.
“Well, I can help you transform and repair weapons.” The young mechanic nodded. “I will not get involved in your personal affairs, and you should not restrict my actions. If something goes wrong, I’ll quit at any time. I hope you can understand.”
Tang Yibu frowned instead. He stood beside Ruan Xian, looked at Ji Xiaoman up and down, and then turned his head a little aggressively.
Ruan Xian could even read what the other party wanted to express. One Yu Le was just about to leave, and one Ji Xiaoman was going to join. He had completely ignored Mr. Tang’s warning of “not getting close to humans”.
“She’s still young, and we need a skilled hand.” Ruan Xian whispered to Tang Yibu, too lazy to use his earring to communicate. “I can only repair you. Petri Dish No. 2217 sounds hard to enter. Rather than working harder, it’s much safer to have someone skilled to help break through than with brute force.”
Tang Yibu grunted. “But if there are outsiders, we must always…”
“Oh.” Ji Xiaoman seemed to have thought of something. She stopped stroking the iron bead and turned her head. “I’m different from Mr. Yu. I have no problem with you two making out in front of me. After being with Qian Yigeng for so many years, I have seen all kinds of things.”
Tang Yibu: “……”
“Do you need some personal space now?” She added thoughtfully.
“No need.” Ruan Xian shook his head in amusement. “Compared to this, it is imperative to fix Yu Le’s car, and then we need to get one ourselves—”
“…No need.” Yu Le’s muffled voice came from outside the room.
Sure enough, Ruan Xian pressed his temple. He was eavesdropping.
“I don’t like this shithole. My people have said that The Glass Conservatory is quite suitable for hanging around. If you really want to go there, I can give you another ride.”
The author has something to say:
The Western* Learning Squad (×
*(西天) Refers to a few things but in this context most like referring to Journey to the West. I’m unsure if they’re literally going West, but in this context, it means they are setting out on a big adventure.
Xiaoman girl officially joins the team√
Do you remember the wrist scar on the banks of Daming Lake* XD
*This is in reference to what Ziwei said to the Emperor of Haunzhugege in the classic TV series “Huanzhugege”. Now netizens use it as a ridicule/spoof to express complaints about the other party’s “conceit and disappointment”. || I don’t know much about Chinese netizen lingo, so I’m not sure what the author’s intended meaning is here, but she’s probably hinting at that the wrist scars on Ruan Xian will be addressed soon which reflect the famous scene where this line comes from. Ziwei confronts Emperor Haunzhugege by saying “Do you remember Daming Lake” referring to him fooling around with her mother, got her pregnant, and abandoned her at Daming Lake (I think).