Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 140: Your Maker
Yu Le parked the armored off-roader among the ruins of the city.
The condition of the car wasn’t good, and the substitute driving machine made by Ji Xiaoman was temporarily unavailable. The iron bead had fallen asleep after a big meal and was snoring loudly. They simply got out of the car and began to take a short rest.
The nights in the Sea of Ruins and The Glass Conservatory belonged to two completely different worlds; only the starry sky was similar. Because of the lack of forestry, the Sea of Ruins was particularly cold after nightfall. The sand on the ground rose with the wind from time to time, beating dust into people’s hair. They had left behind the detection drones belonging to the Order Supervisors and, in turn, ran into a habitat of giant mechanical life. The reconnaissance aircraft didn’t go deeper into these areas but circled around the edges.
The collapsed buildings were like part of the city of the dead, while the slow-moving mechanical life inside were like scavengers. They slowly nibbled on the collapsed buildings, taking from them the metal materials and mechanical remains that they wanted.
Compared with those huge things, the size of the armored off-roader was at best a small matchbox. Yu Le parked it in a pile of chewed up building rubble. The mechanical beings apparently lacked interest in the bagasse that others had chewed, so not many were willing to come forward.
Ji Xiaoman set up a sonic device to expel mechanical life, so the medium-sized ones didn’t approach. However, due to the limitations of the material, the device could only emit one type of soundwave, so, reasonably speaking, the effects weren’t that great.
Perhaps Tang Yibu did something, Ruan Xian thought as he looked at Tang Yibu beside him.
Tang Yibu sat by the campfire with his arms folded, still looking harmless with a smile on his face, his golden eyes shining under the light of the flame. Yu Le was unpacking a pack of freeze-dried vegetables while the soup in the pot was bubbling, exuding the scent of pepper and meat. Ji Xiaoman turned on another light and was busy wiping the wound of the iron bead, intently applying something like a metal patch; her attention was completely focused on it.
Above their heads were broken sloping slabs of stone, covering all external light. The space wasn’t small, nor was it much too big. In the caves piled high with the ruins of civilization, the darkness was so thick that it seemed to be touchable with one’s hands.
Although the android hid his hands in the shadows, Ruan Xian still saw the other party’s clenched hands.
Tang Yibu’s mood wasn’t very good.
Ruan Xian thought this had nothing to do with him. Tang Yibu was equipped with a fairly powerful artificial intelligence. He wasn’t like a petulant adolescent child who likes splitting hairs. If he was worried about something, then that problem must be quite difficult to solve. There was no need to bother him.
…Or so this was what Ruan Xian told himself.
Ruan Xian’s gaze floated to the other party’s hands for the third time, seeing that the android’s hand had become a little red.
[At that time, I always liked to cross my fingers, fold them together, and then crack my fingers. It’s quite painful.]
Tang Yibu was sad about something.
It was probably about The Android Show. Tang Yibu obviously didn’t want to share this part of his experience with him. If he wanted to think about it, it was most likely related to Tang Yibu’s true origin. He disclosed part of the information at Yu Le’s request, but there were few clues related to Tang Yibu himself.
Speaking of which, he never seemed to really understand Tang Yibu’s own abilities as an artificial intelligence. He usually handled the surveillance that captured him, and at most would used his so-called management authority to influence simple machinery of the Mainbrain. Considering the current situation, this guy should also have the same ability to communicate with mechanical life, as well as a short-term means of rewriting programs.
But all this was superficial. He didn’t know much in this 12-year gap, and he couldn’t make any relatively accurate judgement on Tang Yibu’s abilities. Even Ruan Xian didn’t know the content of the other party’s initial “project”.
So far, the interest between the two had been stable enough, but Tang Yibu was still extremely secretive about giving up clues about his maker. If it was true, as Yu Le said, Tang Yibu was the product of an artificial intelligence project of Plan Corp. There was no need for him to conceal the truth to this extent. He could take advantage of the current atmosphere to slightly mention it.
After all, the other party even gave him information about the A-type Prototype. Even if Yu Le and Ji Xiaoman didn’t understand, Ruan Xian had the confidence to understand the subtext.
But Tang Yibu didn’t do so.
At present, there were three possibilities he could guess. First, the artificial intelligence equipped in Tang Yibu was very important, and the existence itself was at least more sensitive than the A-type Prototype. Second, out of a certain emotion, the android didn’t want to share his past with others. Third, it was a mix of the above two reasons.
Ruan Xian had a faint guess.
Yes, he could test it out. Ruan Xian took a breath, stretched out his hand, and gently but forcefully unwrapped Tang Yibu’s tightly clenched fist.
“You can hold my hand.” Ruan Xian smiled. “In a bad mood?”
Tang Yibu retracted his gaze from the soup and gave Ruan Xian a sideways glance. His beautiful golden eyes had a sense of transparency under the fire. Ruan Xian couldn’t help but stretch out his other hand and touch the side of Tang Yibu’s eyes.
“I can help you analyze it, just like you did for me in the joint dream.” Ruan Xian coaxed patiently. He had an illusion—it was like he was stretching out his hands, waiting for a beast to approach on its own.
Tang Yibu didn’t answer, nor did he smile, but looked at Ruan Xian quietly. He held Ruan Xian’s hand meekly, with some force.
“You were abandoned by your maker before entering the show, right?” Ruan Xian’s voice was very soft.
Tang Yibu tilted his head slightly, still expressionless, and the strength in his hands increased a bit. The beast leaned down, not knowing if it was going to attack or rub his outstretched hand with its nose.
“Until now, I have had some guesses.” Ruan Xian continued firmly. “Your maker is it—”
“—is it Professor Ruan?” Tang Yibu finished the sentence almost simultaneously with him.
Then the android fell into a terrifying silence again.
“According to my speculation, given Ruan Xian’s situation, it’s impossible to deal with the Mainbrain only by spreading the truth and armed resistance. Since MUL-01 was jointly developed by Fan Linsong and him, while difficult, it’s not impossible to slowly collect resources and create a more controllable artificial intelligence for a counterattack.”
As his hands were held tighter and tighter, Ruan Xian resisted the urge to exhale.
“After experiencing the Great Rebellion of the 22nd century, Professor Ruan’s requirements for artificial intelligence should be extremely demanding. If he wasn’t satisfied with the work, it would be a bit wasteful to dispose of it directly, so he could’ve added a deadly command to the underlying program to be hostile towards the Mainbrain and then banish it. Such a possibility could exist.”
Tang Yibu had a subtle attitude towards Professor Ruan. The android had always shown indifference, and his evaluations were “unfamiliar”, “cruel”, and the likes. However, Tang Yibu had never clearly opposed his own search for this target that would inevitably be targeted by the Mainbrain.
Especially now. Professor Ruan was in an environment that made Tang Yibu feel pain, yet he still had no intentions of leaving or looking for a compromise—even if Tang Yibu, who was keen to protect himself, was willing to suffer a controllable injury for him, he would not really give up his life for Ruan Xian. This, Ruan Xian was very sure of.
“If that’s the case…”
“If that’s the case?” Tang Yibu grabbed Ruan Xian’s hand and got closer.
“You can tell me your project, and I’ll see if I can help.” Ruan Xian chose the softest breakthrough point.
He couldn’t push Tang Yibu too hard.
“Sure enough, I can’t hide it from you.” After a few seconds, Tang Yibu let go of Ruan Xian’s hand. “I am indeed a failure made by Professor Ruan. The core of MUL-01 was completed by Fan Linsong, which took countless resources and time. So far, they still haven’t made anything in this environment that can match the Mainbrain.”
“It’s a pity that even if I’m a failed product, once the Mainbrain knows of my existence, it will definitely make great efforts to eliminate me. Even if it can temporarily tolerate an A-type Prototype with outstanding destructive ability…” Tang Yibu pointed to his chest.
“…It’s impossible to let go of a brother with the same ‘bloodline’.” He nodded his head again.
As he said this, he stared intently into Ruan Xian’s eyes with a smile that had a vague hint of detachment.
“As for my project, you have already helped a lot, Mr. Ruan. Don’t bother too much about it.” Tang Yibu spoke in a soft voice and with a perfect smile. “If I really don’t understand, I will definitely discuss it with you… Can I hug you?”
“Yes.” Ruan Xian opened his arms and let Tang Yibu hug him tightly. The android put his chin on his shoulder and hugged his back fiercely with both arms. It was a hug that was almost coquettish, but from his perspective, Ruan Xian couldn’t see Tang Yibu’s expression.
“I should have killed you earlier,” Tang Yibu said softly in his ear.
“Why?” Ruan Xian calmly asked back, pressing a hand on the back of Tang Yibu’s head. “It’s not too late. You can do it anytime.”
Tang Yibu grunted a few times, dissatisfied, then softened his body and hugged Ruan Xian tighter.
Ruan Xian thought, in that conversation just now, Tang Yibu didn’t seem to be lying, and there were no logical issues. He would consider trusting Tang Yibu…
From an angle that Tang Yibu couldn’t see, Ruan Xian smiled to himself.
If Tang Yibu’s patch wasn’t so fast and perfect, maybe he could still buy it. The android absolutely concealed something about himself. The perfect mask that couldn’t be broken in the past became flawed during the period when the other party’s emotions were shaken—Tang Yibu was gradually approaching a living creature with rich emotions. No matter how good an actor was, he couldn’t act with emotions he couldn’t control.
Sure enough, he couldn’t be careless for a single moment. Ruan Xian turned his head sideways and kissed Tang Yibu’s ear.
After all, so far, it wasn’t clear who had domesticated who.
Yu Le tapped the edge of the pot with a ladle and cleared his throat vigorously. “Hurry up if you want some soup. No one will deliver the food to you two sticky guys.”
“I hope you can complete that subject before we find Professor Ruan.” Seeing Tang Yibu twisting under the temptation of the smell, Ruan Xian let go of his arms. “Actually, you can rely on me a little more, Yibu. I can trade my past for a little bit of your past.”
Tang Yibu picked up the bowl and stuffed the spoon into his mouth. Hearing Ruan Xian’s words, he turned his head and almost choked. After coughing for a long time, Tang Yibu took the bowl seriously and sat back down with Ruan Xian.
“For example, in my memory, how I appeared here and what happened to my age.”
“For example, in my memory, what kind of person is ‘Ruan Xian’.”
Ruan Xian propped his cheek with one hand and wiped the soup stains on the corners of Tang Yibu’s mouth with the other.
“Of course, maybe none of these memories are real, and there is no reference value. I’m about to meet another Professor Ruan soon, and you don’t have to make this deal with me.”
Tang Yibu slowly drank a spoonful of soup, then pushed the bowl in the direction of Ruan Xian. “…You don’t need to understand my past, Mr. Ruan.”
“But I want to know more about the object of my affection,” Ruan Xian said with a smile. “Just communicate the details that don’t matter. You see, after all, I am also a person who has made artificial intelligence projects. Even if I am a counterfeit, these highly professional memories aren’t completely forged.”
Tang Yibu almost choked a second time. Ruan Xian patted him on the back.
“As the main person in charge of NUL-00, I should be able to provide you with some useful information.”
The author has something to say:
Tang begins to shake, Ruan begins to doubt (?
There is indeed no falsehood in Tang’s words. XD