Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 131: The Feeling of Tragedy
“What Professor Ruan was worried about still happened,” Luo Jian said.
He didn’t show up at lunch, leaving Li Han alone to eat in silence. It wasn’t until the sun set that Ruan Xian saw Luo Jian in the activity area. He hadn’t seen him for most of the day, and the man who was originally cold and hard looked like he had aged a lot more.
Li Han wasn’t by his side this time.
For the prevention shelter, what happened today was at most a minor incident. The people who were locked up entered one by one, like raindrops that were merging into a stagnant pool, and the clouds had scattered, leaving no trace behind.
The snow-white corridor was dyed orange red by the setting sun. Luo Jian leaned against the corner of the corridor and looked at the young man in the hospital gown from a distance—the latter still had his back straightened, but he had a sense of bewilderment.
Luo Jian stared blankly for a while without any intention of stepping forward to talk to him.
“What was Professor Ruan most worried about?” Ruan Xian didn’t ask for the identity of the young man. The information from Tang Yibu was sufficient.
Luo Jian’s dead son was pulled back from the void by the Mainbrain and lived in this artificial fairy tale, firmly believing that his father had lost his mind because of too much stress.
And during this time, he “grew up” successfully.
“That’s right.” Luo Jian looked at Luo Fei again. “You have also read the diary, so you can feel some of Professor Ruan’s emotions. I relied on the system he designed to intervene in order to successfully take root here. After he contacted me, he sent in some rebels who weren’t fit for manual labor. You know this.”
“Everyone came from all over,” Luo Jian said. “There aren’t many good places in those petri dishes. There’s a mess of dangerous creatures in the forest petri dish, the Underground City is full of poisonous fog, the Sea of Ruins is a giant garbage dump… Where I used to be, it snowed all year round and you had to gather together to just fight for some warmth.”
Ruan Xian listened quietly.
“To put it bluntly, resistance is a matter of struggling. Despite the Mainbrain’s abilities, Professor Ruan has worked extremely hard. I can be regarded as the earliest group of people with him, but even I was shaken in this hellish place.”
Luo Jian smiled self-deprecatingly.
“What kind of life did everyone lead before? Desperately hiding from the Mainbrain, living like street rats, just trying to survive. Resistance is not just a matter of exerting one’s strength. You have to slowly penetrate the truth, hoping that individuals will find a way to deal with the Mainbrain. The psychological pressure is very high… but people can adapt. After encountering tragedies once or twice, their blood remains hot, but over time it starts to become numb. Everyone understands the principles taught by Professor Ruan, but everyone wants to know how many cities we have taken back and how many people we have liberated, not what stage of the plan we’re in.”
“To put it bluntly, how many people can really rise to the level of righteousness? Everyone just wants to live an easy life. I’m only supporting them due to my personal enmity. After so many years of boiling blood, enthusiasm will shrink… Professor Ruan told me that the Order Supervisors had hit the rebels hard. I wasn’t surprised. At that time, he was definitely hiding other things and didn’t say anything else, but he must have realized the seriousness of the problem. Well, it’s time for a red ghost or green ghost or whatever to stand up and continue to respond to the Mainbrain.”
“There are still people in the Shade Refuge who are holding on,” Ruan Xian responded quietly, but they both knew this comfort was closer to polite words and had no practical effect.
There were people who could hold on all the time, but there were few that were truly enlightened. No one could stand against the flood.
“Although it may not be good for cooperation, let me be honest. Before the accident, Xiao Yan and the others quarreled for a long time. In this current state, the rebels can’t rise no matter what they think… As a result, an accident on my side probably pushed them past their limit. Sending these young people in is a warning to me.” Sure enough, Luo Jian skipped the topic directly.
The young didn’t want to continue and had no deep consideration. Young people who grew up here were the easiest to soften. They had no obsession and weren’t guilty of any serious crime. Most of them could leave after being locked up for a period of time.
Everyone knew that resistance was the “right” thing, but they knew better how difficult it was to keep holding on by doing the right thing.
Luo Jian’s state was really low, so it was a bit impersonal to inquire about his backup plan at this time. Not long after they separated, Ruan Xian had already begun to miss the feeling of communicating with Tang Yibu without scruples.
“Don’t you want to talk to him?” Ruan Xian tried his best to guide the topic in a gentle direction. “That’s Luo Fei, right?”
“My son died a long time ago.” Luo Jian’s expression was stiff. “I buried him in the cellar with my own hands. You have seen his grave. That way, his body will not be dug out by the wolves. The bodies we bury in the snow can always be found by the wolves.”
“Mr. Luo, what are you going to do next? I remember you said you wanted to wait for Ruan Xian.” Seeing that this topic couldn’t go further, Ruan Xian immediately changed to another one.
“I will wait for him, but not ‘like this’. I have all the information about the rebels in my mind. You see, they won’t warn me like this for no reason. Goodbye, Mr. Ruan. You saved me twice, but Pear Blossom had become like this. I’m sorry.”
Luo Jian glanced at Luo Fei again, making it clear that he was saying goodbye.
“I’m afraid I can’t provide you with more information.”
Ruan Xian didn’t plan to pursue it further. He watched Luo Jian walk out into the sun and stepped into the shadow at the end of the corridor.
“Zhuo Muran will leave tomorrow.”
Tang Yibu flashed out of the shadows, hugging Ruan Xian in a seemingly intimate manner to make sure the surveillance would capture this.
“I talked to Yu Le, and unsurprisingly, Pear Blossom only exists in name only. What are Luo Jian’s plans?”
“He had no intention of opening up. He’s quite shrewd, so I can’t force it too hard.” Ruan Xian turned his head, bit Tang Yibu’s lower lip, and whispered back, “Auntie Yan isn’t here. Except for Luo Fei, none of the members here have seen you. I’m counting on you next, Dr. Tang.”
“Mr. Ruan, this level of espionage shouldn’t be difficult for you.”
“I have other things to do.” Ruan Xian smiled slightly. “It seems that Yu Le left Ji Xiaoman alone outside. I don’t think our lady mechanic will stay put honestly.”
Tang Yibu looked at the smiling person in front of him.
It was like plucking away layers of candy to reveal the candy within. The other party’s data was carefully entered into his mind and gradually became three-dimensional. Tang Yibu touched his pocket—During their date, he also got himself some parts and secretly used them to make something else.
He made a more delicate and deadlier black earring.
Tang Yibu knew that he should put it on for his Mr. Ruan as soon as possible and completely regained the initiative to put his mind at ease, but instinctively he felt that somehow it felt inappropriate.
He had many opportunities to do so, such as last night.
With the permission of the other party, Tang Yibu came up with quite a long list of tricks he could try. He was quite sure that for a while, Mr. Ruan would be completely fooled by him and wouldn’t realize it.
He could have bitten the other party’s earlobe and replaced the earring stud as quickly as possible, but he didn’t do it. Perhaps it was because the other party was holding onto him too tightly, or perhaps it was because the other party showed a little—just a tiny bit—unreserved sense of vulnerability.
It was like a wolf showing its soft belly or a lion showing its fragile throat. He couldn’t be sure if the other party was occasionally out of control or deliberate, and he wanted to see more.
Forget it. He could wait until they escape from here. Tang Yibu maintained the smile on his face and kissed the corner of Ruan Xian’s mouth.
“Okay,” he replied, very happily.
It was a pity that the atmosphere was heavy on the side of their observation.
“Xiao Han.” Luo Jian chose the corridor closest to a pear blossom tree that was facing an open window. The little white petals fell smoothly to the floor, like flakes of snow that couldn’t be melted.
Li Han stood beside him with dodgy eyes.
“Just say it if you’re afraid. I get it.” Luo Jian smiled encouragingly.
The windows were large. As long as they faced out towards it and kept their voices low, the surveillance wouldn’t catch them. This place was found by Li Han herself, and it could be said to be the freest window in the entire prevention shelter.
“I like painting and I want to be recognized. I also feel that the current environment isn’t right.” Li Han twisted her fingers. “But everyone has been caught, and I don’t want to be discovered by the Mainbrain. What you’re doing isn’t wrong, but those things will not… Will not make me…”
“I understand. You have been assisting me in the joint dreamland for the past two years and I’m very grateful.”
Luo Jian wasn’t surprised. The dreams and hope of freedom after the rebellion had always been attractive to the young. He had always tried his hardest not to put too much pressure on this young woman who had grown up in The Glass Conservatory, but his abilities were ultimately limited.
He always had a limited ability to hold onto the people around him.
Now that he had revealed his flaws, he no longer seemed to be in control and omnipotent, and thus she finally realized the true price of resistance.
“Thank you,” he repeated. “The reason for your admission has nothing to do with Pear Blossom, nor have you met anyone other than Auntie Yan. Those people won’t get along with you. Leave Pear Blossom.”
“But don’t forget what I once told you. The Mainbrain has no right to define you… No one can define what you should like and what you should hate.”
Li Han began to sob in a low voice.
Tang Yibu hid well. He pretended to be observing the rebuilt botanical garden nearby, hiding in the blind corner of the two people’s sight and eavesdropping silently. Although not as sensitive as the S-type Prototype, he could still distinguish unwillingness and fear from the girl’s sobs.
“I don’t want to leave. I really don’t want to. But…” She stopped talking again.
“I want to ask you one more thing, Xiao Han.” Luo Jian’s voice became gentler. “It’s the same as the task I gave you at the beginning.”
“What? I don’t want it!”
“Although I don’t have the right or am qualified to say this, Lao Luo, are you going to give up too?”
“Professor Ruan knows what I did. When he comes back and sees my situation, he’ll naturally understand what to do… I will still be me then.”
“But in case he doesn’t plan to come back…!”
“I believe he’ll come back,” Luo Jian said softly. “If I believe in the wrong person, then so be it. After all, if I don’t erase those memories, those people who were just sent in won’t feel at ease. Don’t cry. Maybe I can be discharged from the hospital with you.”
Li Han really cried this time.
Luo Jian sighed, turned around, and hugged Li Han.
“Good girl,” he said. “I’ll see you in an hour, okay?”
“I want to go with you,” Li Han murmured, her voice slurred by her swollen throat. “In that case, I want to… I want to go with you.”
Tang Yibu quietly followed the two of them all the way to the nearby botanical garden.
The botanical garden was rebuilt extremely quickly. Although only a few days had passed, there was no trace of it being burned down at all. The plants under the glass dome were still vibrant and green, and the pear blossoms were still in full bloom in their old location. The two of them, barely dodging surveillance, stood still under the pear trees.
Another perfect blind spot. Tang Yibu raised his eyebrows with interest and walked quietly behind the bushes.
Without activating any secret machinery, Luo Jian just dug out a small wooden box the size of a palm from the ground. The box had a simple style, was covered in dirt, was deeply buried on the side of the ditch, and was tightly stuck on the metal frame used to shape the terrain.
Then Luo Jian opened the box and took out a needle-like tubular machine from inside.
Tang Yibu couldn’t help but snort softly. It looked a lot like a small version of a memory cocktail, but the structure was much more complicated. The light rotating in the glass tube wasn’t blue but was emitting a dazzling white.
“You… Do you really want to do this…?”
“Professor Ruan made it so that it’s reusable. Most likely, he was prepared for this situation.”
“I don’t like him.” Li Han’s voice had a crying tone again. “He clearly guessed that this kind of thing would happen, and he also gave you a tool to replace the false memories. What is the difference between this approach and the Mainbrain—”
“Don’t say that.” Luo Jian flicked her forehead. “At least he has my consent.”
“But you are right. Professor Ruan is indeed a bit cruel.” Luo Jian smiled with a complicated expression. “Good night, Xiao Han.”
He didn’t give Li Han time to react as he pierced the thing straight into his neck.
The dazzling white light gradually dimmed, and a gleaming golden light gradually lit up. Those lights seemed to be inhaled by the wound and spat out again. Luo Jian shook in place for a while, as if drunk, and stood still for a long time.
After finally standing firm, he struggled to open his mouth.
“Why are we here again? ……Why are you crying? What’s going on? This is… Oh, oh, this is what we are going to bury, right? I remember this. You wait for me for a while, I’ll bury it first. Then you have to tell me who bullied my Xiao Han.”
Li Han threw herself into Luo Jian’s arms and cried loudly.
“Don’t… Don’t bury it. It’s not safe here. Let me take it with me,” she said in a broken and desperate voice. “No one bullied me. I let you down. It’s me who let you know.”
“You child, what are you talking about—”
“Do you remember who asked you to bury it?” Li Han wiped away tears vigorously. “You don’t remember, do you? You just… You just feel like you want to bury it, right?!”
“Take it easy. Just calm down. I’ll give it to you.” Luo Jian’s entire person looked a lot gentler, without that cold and harsh aura. “Sorry, Uncle Luo’s brain isn’t very good, so he’s often confused.”
Tang Yibu frowned in the bushes. He stopped hiding, walked straight into the center of this inexplicable chaos, raised his hand, and grabbed the box. Seeing that someone in a staff uniform suddenly appeared, Li Han’s legs were weak, and she almost fell flat on her ass.
“Give it back to me!” she screamed with tears.
Luo Jian frowned. “Are you a staff member here? Don’t bully the little girl.”
Tang Yibu ignored the reactions of the two people and observed the small and exquisite mechanical device in his hand with interest. It was indeed similar in structure to a memory cocktail, but in terms of structural complexity, it could hold much more memory than a memory cocktail.
Enough to accommodate a person’s life.
“Interesting,” he said. “Little girl, if you don’t want Mr. Luo’s efforts to be in vain, I hope you’ll ask him to back off and we’ll talk alone.”
Li Han finally collapsed on the ground. Her fingers dug into the soil, turning her knuckles pale. Her face was full of tears as she shook badly. It could be seen that it took a lot of willpower for her not to faint.
“Lao Luo…No, Uncle Luo, you can go first.”
“You look like this. How could I—”
“Go!” Li Han nearly broke down and roared in a low voice. Her eyes were fixed on the mechanical device in Tang Yibu’s hand; her whole body was nervously twitching.
Luo Jian seemed to be frightened by this gesture. He slowed his movements, sighed, and retreated some distance away, looking at the two from afar.
“No need to be scared like that. Mr. Ruan should’ve introduced himself to you. Like him, I’m also a member of the Red Ghost.” Tang Yibu casually picked up the fragile machinery the size of a needle tube. The last trace of blood on Li Han’s face was given away by fear.
“I can also see that this device use to hold a lot of memory. Is this Luo Jian’s way of avoiding memory screening?”
Li Han bit her lip and said nothing.
“Unlike Mr. Ruan, I never thought about getting along with you. Stalling won’t work on me.” Tang Yibu shook his head. “Besides, let’s not talk about what I think first. My intention is to cooperate with you guys, but if you don’t say anything, there’s not much I can do.”
He paused meaningfully for a while.
“There was a fire here not long ago. It’s really not safe to bury things here, and it’s risky to carry them around. If you’re willing to talk, we can provide the tools so that you can leave a backup. Listening to Luo Jian’s statement, you don’t know the sensitive information related to the rebel army. Personally, I think this deal is quite good.”
Li Han was silent for a long time.
“This was made by Professor Ruan. It took him a long time to make this thing… He took out all Lao Luo’s memories and stored them in it. Then he made a false memory and poured it back into Lao Luo’s brain. When Lao—Lao Luo came in, from a memory level, he was indeed just an ordinary resident who had been pitted by Pear Blossom. Memory screening couldn’t find anything.”
After nearly five minutes, Li Han finally spoke.
“Then… Then Professor Ruan added hints to his memory, just like he did just now. I followed the instructions and brought Lao Luo here and asked him to change his memory according to the hints. At that time, Lao Luo had already lived for a full month, and it was impossible for another memory screening unless he became seriously ill.”
“Use fake memories to deceive the prevention shelter, and then draw them out to get back the real memories so he can be the hub for the joint dreamland. Is that right?”
Now that the matter was clear, Tang Yibu felt very satisfied.
Things weren’t complicated. The rebels had a mole and they sent people here as a threat. Unable to contact Ruan Xian, Luo Jian simply showed weakness. He injected the fake memories and would get discharged from the hospital in a fair manner, thus signaling that he, as the hub, would not carry out further activities to reassure the whistle-blower.
This could temporarily save those members of the rebel army who were still loyal, as well as the young “spark” who had not yet been reported.
Judging from the conversation just now, if Ruan Xian came back, he knew where to find Luo Jian’s true memory, and he would certainly restore his veteran. If Ruan Xian had no intention of coming back…
“How do you plan to deal with Luo Fei?” After speculating about the situation, Tang Yibu turned his attention to other issues.
“Lao—Lao Luo had just been admitted to the hospital for a week, and Luo Fei appeared before his memories were changed back.”
Li Han wiped away tears again.
“Professor Ruan… Professor Ruan said that it was a clone temporarily created by the Mainbrain. It found someone to get Luo Fei’s information, and made some simulated memories about his son, and added it to Lao Luo at that time. Thinking about it now, he knew at that time that Lao Luo would have to use that false memory sooner or later…”
“Thank you for your cooperation.” Tang Yibu nodded solemnly, interrupting Li Han’s words. “When do you want to get the backup?”
“The sooner, the better.” Li Han stared at the mechanical device in Tang Yibu’s hand sternly.
“No problem, you are welcome to supervise.” Tang Yibu put the device in his pocket. “It’ll be fine before dinner.”
“Can you return the box to me first?” Li Han whispered, pressing back a sob.
Tang Yibu glanced at the box. There were only useless fragments left inside. He gave the wooden box to Li Han readily with a standard smile.
Humans were always like this.
The future of these people was spread out in front of him. Most likely, based on the current situation, Luo Jian wouldn’t wait for Ruan Xian and is destined to spend the rest of his life in The Glass Conservatory with false memories. The rebel army sent in by Ruan Xian would be silenced, and without a central guide, the young people who develop locally wouldn’t be able to systematically persist. After her instant enthusiasm died down, Li Han, who was weak in character, would eventually leave here and return to her original life.
Pear Blossom would vanish in a few years, and perhaps the Mainbrain would create a similar organization for it to be observed as an alternate variable.
Considering each person’s characteristics, no matter how he calculated it, the possibility of this future being established was infinitely close to 100%.
He thought there was no longer a need to observe here.
The author has something to say:
Tang is still the same ruthless Tang. It’s impossible to be bought for a few cars*, and it’s impossible he can be soft. (ψ°▽°)
*Slang for sex. || In this context it means a few rounds (of sex).
The two are confused by the strange impact of their relationship (??