Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 105: Companion
Ruan Xian still fell asleep for a while. He didn’t dream of anything, and when he woke up again, the white wall illuminated by the sun almost stung his eyes.
Habit was a terrible thing. He had only been in this place for less than two days, and those vague doomsday impressions had become even more indistinct. He didn’t know whether the empty bowl by the head of the bed had been taken away by someone or a machine, as there was no trace of it left.
“It’s 11:43. You have until 14:00 to go to the cafeteria for your meal. A supplement will be delivered to your room. Please take it before 15:00. At present, your room is equipped with access to games, music, films, TV shows, and news of current affairs. Please enjoy.”
The soft mechanical synthetic voice was accompanied by light music.
Ruan Xian raised his eyes and reconfirmed the situation in the room in front of him. If it weren’t for the fact that he was still wearing a restraint suit, just looking at the environment here, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it was a high-end room in a hotel. It was just that those elegant decorations were either glued to the table or made of soft materials that weren’t fragile; even the walls had a certain elasticity.
He stood up, walked to the window, and looked out at the greenery. From this angle, he could see a little of the pear blossoms in the yard. From a distance, Ruan Xian could see a little bit of the spires of distant buildings—In fact, the city wasn’t far from here, but the greenery in the courtyard was so lush that he could only see a little bit of the city.
“You cannot leave the building until you get the doctor’s permission. Please understand.” Seeing Ruan Xian staying in front of the window, the voice rang again. “If you need emotional or physical companionship, the hospital can provide you with an android companion type.”
“That’s quite thoughtful.” Ruan Xian left the window. “It seems that you’re not short of money at all.”
“When you recover your memory, we will add relevant bills to your civic life record,” the mechanical voice replied thoughtfully.
“I may not be able to afford it.” Ruan Xian shrugged and walked to the door without hesitation.
“Although your brain is currently unable to be accurately measured due to damage. As far as the preliminary results are concerned, your intelligence level is quite high. After you recover your memory, we will correct your personality problems through memory therapy. As long as you adhere to the three principles of thought, action, and personality compliance and return to the position arranged for you as soon as possible, it is expected that you can pay off the relevant expenses within one year.”
Ruan Xian didn’t answer again.
After a good night’s sleep, his mood was just slightly soothed, and that gloomy discomfort reappeared. He ignored the voices in the room and simply went out the door.
The surveillance in the corridor wasn’t as conspicuous as in the room, but for some reason, he could hear the subtle noises they made as they operated. From his point of view, the surveillance here was the most rigorous he had seen as far as distribution was concerned. It had almost no blind spots.
The people in the corridor who were also wearing restraint clothes walked slowly, moving like zombies; their eyes a little sluggish. One almost hit Ruan Xian head-on like he was just a mass of air with color.
They looked good and healthy, but they were like models of plants planted in the soil—vibrant, but lifeless. It was like an invisible organ had died.
Ruan Xian tried his best to follow the flow of people and carefully observe the structure of the building for the first time. The building was bigger than he thought. Although there were many patients, it seemed empty in the huge space. If some unconventional actions were made, let alone surveillance, even children would feel conspicuous.
Why on earth did he come to this unlucky place? Although Ruan Xian didn’t think he was the type who pursued a stable life, it wasn’t really prudent to throw himself into a tiger’s mouth like this just to obtain information. He should have other purposes, something that could only be done by temporary amnesia, or could only be proven by temporary amnesia itself…
“Mr. Ruan.” A familiar voice sounded from behind, with the same gentleness as Gong Siyi, but much softer.
The golden-eyed doctor, who was probably his companion, stopped behind him.
“Mr. Tang.” Ruan Xian smiled. “Finished patrolling?”
“We’re the same age. Just call me Yibu,” the man glanced around briefly before responding courteously. “Are you going to the cafeteria?”
“No. I didn’t have much appetite after waking up, so I wanted to look around for a bit.” Ruan Xian suspected that the other party was the same as him—the positions that Mr. Tang Yibu was aiming at were in the direction of where he heard the soft sound of machines. “Is your service always this thoughtful, or does it mean that all newcomers have this one-on-one care process?”
He mixed a few words of worry, which sounded like a bit of a veiled reminder. For the other party’s sake as his companion, Ruan Xian didn’t want Tang Yibu’s eagerness to contact him to cause suspicion and increase his exposure. Taking a step back, he didn’t remember much now, and it was easy to be revealed if he was too close.
“No, as I said before, as a newcomer, I also need to familiarize myself with the structure of this building.” Tang Yibu’s smile remained motionless. “To put it bluntly, your situation is quite complicated, and it can be regarded as one of our key observations. Wandering around is not a wise option. If you really don’t want to relax in the room, it’s better to have the company of a staff… Then you will find that staying in the room is much more interesting than wandering around.”
“Surveillance.” Ruan Xian’s polite smile changed a bit. “That’s a good excuse.”
Tang Yibu narrowed his eyes at him, obviously catching the double entendre* in his words.
*So Tang Yibu is saying he wants to “monitor” Ruan Xian in the room, which can also be intended as (fucking in the room), to which Ruan Xian replies that’s a good excuse, both to Tang Yibu wanting to stay close to Ruan Xian by using the excuse of watching him, and to the underlying “fucking” meaning.
It would be suspicious to refuse again at this point. Ruan Xian nodded. “Then please, Mr. Tang.”
Tang Yibu remained motionless.
Tang Yibu put on a white coat and took a step forward happily. The two left the crowd and walked slowly along the pure white corridor. There were fewer people there, and from time-to-time, colorful inverted teardrop-shaped machines floated past them. The entire scene looked like a fashion exhibition.
Unfortunately, as the number of people decreased, the number of surveillance machines increased.
“I have read your information, and you have a fairly high IQ.” Tang Yibu spoke naturally. “According to Dr. Gong’s records, you don’t seem to like it here very much. I have to remind you that the security system here cannot be broken through by intelligence and technology alone.”
He continued in a tone similar to a warning. “Although you can’t see it, basically all corridors and rooms are under the coverage of surveillance. Even if you can find a way to leave the building, there are armed mechanical patrols in the yard. Those machines are all D-type products… Do you remember the D-type products? That’s not something you can oppose with your bare hands. If you have any dangerous plans, it’s better to give up now.”
This was a veiled way of sending him information.
Ruan Xian accelerated his steps slightly and walked side by side with Tang Yibu, maintaining just the right distance. “Thanks for reminding me. I won’t do anything stupid.”
“The accommodation area is here.” Tang Yibu pointed to the labyrinth-like structure. “Isn’t it pretty much the same? There’s really not much to wander around in this place, but if you want to relax, I recommend the botanical garden in the south building. It’s very close to the outside world and should be good for relieving your stress. There’s also a cafeteria next to the botanical garden, where you can eat. Let me see… How do you get to the garden?”
He grabbed Ruan Xian’s wrist very naturally and took him onward in this maze of pure white buildings. Ruan Xian intermittently hummed a minor tune, carefully noting down the way forward.
However, Tang Yibu’s steps gradually slowed down.
“What kind of song is this?” He didn’t let go of the hand holding his wrist.
“Carol Young’s ‘Prisoner of Thought’, which was released before ‘Step by Step’.” Ruan Xian still remembered this. “She’s an old singer. Her country had been at war for years, and was under martial law at the time, remember? This song has never been released on a regular platform, so it’s normal that fewer people know about it than her later famous song ‘Step by Step’.”
“I’ve heard this song somewhere but never knew the name. Thank you for the recommendation.” Tang Yibu continued to speak in a casual-like tone. “I’ll check the standard song library later, and if it’s within the range of good tracks that are allowed to be disclosed, I’ll definitely listen to it. But to be honest, I prefer ‘Step by Step’.”
“Your mood seems to be quite stable. How is your memory recovering?” Tang Yibu turned his words around. “Communication is good for stimulating brain activity. You can recover faster…”
In this person’s impression, he obviously shouldn’t be in a state of amnesia. The other party had specifically picked out this point, which was very interesting. Under strict surveillance, it wasn’t easy for him to make blunt replies. Looking at the target range of this person’s question, he should perhaps reconsider the degree of danger of this “companion”.
“…Any memories. Anything is good.” But Tang Yibu didn’t guide him to a certain topic as he thought.
“Even the memories of when I was a kid?” Ruan Xian responded jokingly.
“Of course.” Tang Yibu’s smile became bigger again. “Childhood still has a great influence on a person.”
“Why don’t you start first.” Ruan Xian didn’t obediently follow the other party’s pace.
As if he had received an unexpected reply, Tang Yibu was taken aback. He still spoke after a few seconds. “To be precise, I only have a father. Sometimes he’s gentle, sometimes he’s terribly harsh, but then… Well, he didn’t want me anymore. Later, I made a living alone, and I thought it was no longer worth talking about.”
“My dad gave up earlier than your dad. As far as I can remember, he and my mother weren’t married yet. Seeing that my physique isn’t good, he disappeared without leaving any trace of a shadow,” Ruan Xian responded casually. “But at that time, I hadn’t learned what disappointment was.”
“Where’s your mother?” Tang Yibu turned his head slightly. “Is she okay?”
“She’s dead,” Ruan Xian said succinctly. “I don’t really want to talk about this now.”
“…Sorry.” Tang Yibu lowered his voice and turned his head. Ruan Xian couldn’t see his expression.
“There’s nothing to be sorry for. Things just happened like that.” Ruan Xian glanced out the corridor window. “Later, I also met… Relatively kind people. Look, haven’t I survived until now?”
“There will always be pleasant memories.” Tang Yibu comforted him. “People who care about you, people who love you, and such. People can’t only have bad memories; it doesn’t make sense. We can talk about happier things…”
Ruan Xian looked at the other person’s clean golden eyes and smiled reluctantly. “I don’t remember at the moment. Let’s talk about this when I remember.”
Tang Yibu didn’t express surprise or sympathy; he looked a little… confused.
“It shouldn’t be like this.” He frowned and stopped. “Impossible…”
“Nothing.” Tang Yibu shook his head and laughed a little shyly. “I was chatting with you, and I just found out that I accidentally went the wrong way. This is a local data storage area, which is quite sensitive, so it’s best not to stay here for too long. I’m going to find a guide robot to lead the way. You wait for me here.”
He paused and blinked again.
“…Don’t run around.”
The author has something to say:
Tang: Don’t do stupid things. (I should have reminded Mr. Ruan to do something smart)
Tang: Don’t run around. (Please hurry up and act)
Tang: Dad doesn’t want me anymore. (Dad really doesn’t want me anymore _(:з」∠)_)