Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 98: Chemical Reaction
It wasn’t difficult to tell a white lie casually. Insisting on talking nonsense regardless of the causes and consequences could be regarded as a certain kind of pathological personality, but if you took disguises and lies as part of your life and strived not to be exposed, it was undoubtedly a technical job.
However, this way of living was commonplace for Ruan Xian, and it had always been so.
Not to mention the fact that he was forced to start practicing this kind of technique at a young age. Thanks to his good brain, he would never forget every lie he had told, and he would never trip over himself because he made a mistake and stumbled on one of his previous lies. Ruan Xian was able to distort one thing into different things for different people and deal with it smoothly, like dancing barefoot on a dark stage sprinkled with pushpins, while ensuring that he wouldn’t be stabbed.
He used these disguises and lies as paint, personally sketching a gentle “Professor Ruan” for others, and then hid in that shell like a hermit crab.
Now that the social order had collapsed, this skill still followed him. He had successfully deceived Yu Le and Ji Xiaoman—now, no matter how hard they tried, they could only get to the point of “Ruan Lijie is a human being, but the situation demanded that he deceive Qian Yigeng”. Although Tang Yibu had other opinions, the android would never exchange information with those two humans.
As long as he used subtle differences in positions to convince Tang Yibu, this identity crisis would pass.
However, contrary to his assumptions, even if he threw out “I have done related work in research institutes before” as bait, the fish named Tang Yibu would not bite.
In fact, while Ji Xiaoman was concentrating on repairing Yu Le’s car, the android spent most of his time parked at the top of a building, thinking about life. Tang Yibu seemed to have temporarily put aside the work of observing Ruan Xian and petted the iron bead while nibbling on hardtacks, like a college student who had nothing to do after the holidays.
Since the other party wasn’t in a hurry to ask, it would be suspicious if he rushed to explain. Ruan Xian was happy to use this relatively free time to start collecting more information. It was always right to be well prepared, not to mention that the source of his intelligence was by his side.
For example, a person surnamed Yu who insisted on staying in another place.
“The Glass Conservatory is a good place,” Yu Le explained. Despite a few days having passed, there was still a bit of vigilance in his eyes when he looked at Ruan Xian. “It’s troublesome to escape and even more impossible to get in. The guy on my ship dreamed of going back. That kid was quite capable, but even he couldn’t find a way.”
“Did he mention the situation inside?” Each petri dish had its own special “ecology”, and Petri Dish No. 2217 couldn’t be another place similar to the Underground City.
“He said a few things, but he was always regarded as a lunatic, so he stopped talking about it. I can see that he didn’t lie.”
Ji Xiaoman was standing on a box in front of the car as she worked on repairs, while Yu Le was holding a wrench to adjust the parts behind the car. He was shirtless, showing off his strong muscles that were covered with sweat and dark oil stains.
“Anyway, it’s a good place. It’s said that it’s not much different from the environment before the end of the world. Besides, you also have some skills. If you can really get in, I would also like a taste of this oil water*. If not, it’s not a big deal. I can always drive myself back.”
*Refers to additional benefits or improper material gains.
Yu Le wiped the oil from the side of his face with a cloth towel, then stretched his neck to the front of the car. “I say, little miss, is it okay or not? It’s been almost three days since we worked on repairs. If you can’t do it, you should’ve said so earlier—fuck!”
A nut flew across Yu Le’s cheek like a bullet, and the latter barely had time to dodge. After throwing the nut, Ji Xiaoman turned to her side and glared at Yu Le.
“It’s one thing to simply fix it.” She took the opportunity to pour herself a sip of water soaked in some leaves, sounding a bit drowsy. “Improving its safety is another matter… Since I’m taking a ride on this myself, I will make it as safe as possible.”
She touched the wall of the car lovingly with her metal palm. “Besides, this is a good vehicle.”
“You dare say that when you were originally just going to fix it?”
“Well, were you going to add more money?”
“Oaf,” Ji Xiaoman muttered in a low voice.
“What about the truck? What happened to it?” Yu Le ignored Ruan Xian beside him. “Who told you to move the truck? God, what’s with this bowl?”
“That’s a thinking analyzer for mechanical life, not a bowl.” Ji Xiaoman glared at Yu Le again. “The passenger seat is reserved for π.”
“Are you fucking serious?” Yu Le cautiously confirmed. “Do you want that thing to drive?”
“The Grove-style R-660 lifeform has a very powerful positioning ability and is better at concentrating than humans. When there’s no foreign enemy, the driver can have more rest time and doesn’t need to stop moving because of sleep.” Ji Xiaoman glanced at Yu Le. “The one you have is quite well-behaved. As long as you don’t starve it, it can do this.”
Hearing Ji Xiaoman talking about its name from a distance, the iron bead slipped down from the roof. It turned over skillfully under Ji Xiaoman’s feet, poked out four legs, and kicked enthusiastically into the sky.
A little smile appeared on Ji Xiaoman’s expressionless face. She squatted down, scratched the suspected belly of the iron bead, took out a few screws from the toolbox, and fed it.
“It’s almost repaired. I contacted He An in advance… Ah, now he may not be called He An. Anyway, you have no problem leaving here this evening, right?” Ji Xiaoman rambled on while feeding the iron bead screws one by one.
“Our luggage has long been ready.” Without the touch the iron bead, Tang Yibu also jumped off the roof. He had already organized his backpack and waist bag neatly, and he looked ready to set off at any time.
“Nn.” Ji Xiaoman lowered her head. “I have nothing to do here, and the supplies are all loaded into the car… I’ll go to the car to sleep for a while, and you can discuss the specific time. No need to wake me up when the times comes.”
As she spoke, she climbed into the armored off-roader and laid down on the spot in the last row of the luggage piles. The iron bead rattled twice, hesitated for a while, and still stopped at Tang Yibu’s feet.
“Damn, I’m sleepy too.” Yu Le yawned and wiped the sweat and oil stains from his body with a wet towel. “I’m going to take a nap, just in time to leave you two some privacy, ha.”
He didn’t give Ruan Xian time to answer, got into the front seat, adjusted the backrest, and leaned back to sleep.
Ruan Xian, who was locked outside, had a complicated look.
“I want to eat a bowl of noodles before I leave.” Tang Yibu broke the deadlock gently. “Let’s go together, Mr. Ruan.”
Even if such a big thing happened nearby, Li Ji Noodle House was still the same. They had been here a few times, and the old man outside the door seemed to have remembered their faces, but he just rolled his cloudy eyes at them and did nothing else.
“Two servings of noodles.” Tang Yibu poked the light screen. “What about you, Mr. Ruan?”
“I’m not used to the oil here. Five white boil eggs.” Although it was clear that this body wouldn’t really have gastrointestinal problems, Ruan Xian was still cautious.
Tang Yibu smiled at him and at the same time loosened his black coat, whether intentionally or not, and revealed the weapon at his waist. Several guests in the shop who were looking at Tang Yibu retracted their gaze and continued to bury their heads in noodles.
“What do you think of the news about Ruan Xian?” After the noodles were served, Tang Yibu used the branch chopsticks to pick them up, familiar with the usual innocent expression on his face.
“About his resumption of action? I have no opinion.” Ruan Xian peeled the eggshell carefully. “I have seen so many outrageous things. People will change. If Ruan Xian intends to give up a little persistence, it will not be difficult to achieve that effect, right?”
“It’s not difficult. As I said, it’s fine to receive nanobot treatment.” Tang Yibu raised the corner of his mouth, “But I also mentioned that Ruan Xian has always claimed he would not accept this approach.”
“Maybe he suddenly changed his mind.” Ruan Xian dipped the egg white in salt and chewed it in small bites. “I just want to find him and figure out what’s going on with me. As for whether he’s still a human, to be honest, I don’t care very much. “
He habitually peeled out the egg yolk, paused for a moment, and threw it into Tang Yibu’s bowl.
“If we can’t find him, I have no reason to insist.” He licked the salt grains on his fingertips. “It’s just that this world is already like this. It’s always good to find yourself a goal.”
Now his goal has long changed.
Ruan Xian wasn’t the type of person who couldn’t sleep if he couldn’t determine his self-identity and his motivation to find the other “Ruan Xian” was more curiosity than self-identification.
On the other hand, Tang Yibu couldn’t settle down, and he didn’t want to stop somewhere and continue to live a life full of disguises and lies. It wasn’t impossible to run around with this android everywhere, but he was already at a disadvantage of being controlled, and Ruan Xian didn’t want to completely lose the initiative—”looking for Ruan Xian” was a very useful excuse that he could use to go wherever he wanted, even if the other Ruan Xian was already dead.
There was always a way back.
He was indeed deeply attracted to Tang Yibu, like a little moth to an ominous fire. After all, just a short while ago, Ji Xiaoman’s experience had already taught him a lesson. There was no doubt that the warmth and intimacy of a mechanical life were unreliable. It was very likely that one day in the future, the other party wouldn’t hesitate to kill him.
Ruan Xian peeled off the second egg, smiled self-deprecatingly, and swallowed the egg yolk.
…And Tang Yibu’s understanding of Ruan Xian was a bit too detailed. No matter how you look at it, he was definitely involved with Ruan Xian’s team. This was also a good opportunity to explore the origins of the other party.
Tang Yibu poked the egg yolk in his bowl with a chopstick. An undercurrent was surging in his eyes. He ate it slowly and rationally, without expressing any opinions on Ruan Xian’s answer. The air was quiet for a while, and finally, it was Ruan Xian who spoke again.
“You said you were abandoned by your maker and are completing his final project, but I haven’t seen you try to determine his condition… If your maker unfortunately passes away, what are you going to do?” he said calmly, putting together a small pile of eggshells on the table.
Tang Yibu stopped his chopsticks.
“He won’t die,” he replied almost immediately. “He’s not such a person that would die easily.”
“If you don’t obey MUL-01, the maker can’t be an Order Supervisor. Calculating humans who are opposed to the Mainbrain, Fan Linsong, and Ruan Xian should be the highest level of human resistance right now,” Ruan Xian said lightly while observing Tang Yibu’s reaction without blinking. “Now that the whereabouts of both of them are unknown, I personally think anything could happen.”
“He won’t die,” Tang Yibu repeated. His voice was calm but held a childlike stubbornness.
“Okay.” Seeing no results, Ruan Xian wisely stopped the topic. This time he put a whole egg in Tang Yibu’s bowl—he wasn’t sure if he was seeing things, but he felt that Tang Yibu was a little angry.
Tang Yibu fiddled with the egg with the tip of his chopsticks. His mood dropped visibly.
“Maybe he doesn’t remember me anymore, or maybe he just doesn’t care about me at all. This is also one of the issues I need to determine.” The android raised his eyes, and there was a certain suppressed emotion in his tone. “I have also heard of Petri Dish No. 2217. It’s currently one of the best-preserved places for human science and technology. Whatever you hope to find there, I will find the information I want there.”
Having said that, he pierced the egg with his chopsticks and ate little by little. Depression and anger were mixed together and turned into emotions similar to sadness.
“I see.” Ruan Xian felt that he should say something. “Judging from your completion, I don’t think any researcher will forget you. Although I don’t know what topic you messed up at the time, he will always remember you.”
He stretched out his hand and tucked Tang Yibu’s slightly longer strands of broken hair behind his ears. “In terms of my human memory, I would be quite proud if I could create a… work like you.
Tang Yibu’s expression changed.
Those eyes didn’t soften or reveal any emotion similar to being moved. He wondered if he was just seeing things, Ruan Xian thought to himself, but he saw killing intent.
The author has something to say:
Fight, fight! （×
Iron bead was promoted to co-pilot!
Lao Yu: …I’ll tell Tu Rui this life tip when I go back.