Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 143: Restless*
*(如芒在背) Idiom referring to extreme anxiety. From Han Shu: The Biography of Huo Guang.
Although the two of them were close, they didn’t seem to have intentions of approaching for the time being. However, from this distance, it wasn’t difficult for Ruan Xian. He carefully looked at the two uninvited guests and adjusted to the most appropriate expression.
The man and woman standing in the distance had very upright faces, good looks, and figures, which was unlike people living in a desperate environment. The clothes they were wearing were a bit shabby and incomplete. Scattered props hung around their rough belts, most of which had rough traces of manual modification.
Ruan Xian held the phone in his hand, pretended to wipe his sweat, and glanced at the screen quickly—the appearance of these two people wasn’t forged. There wasn’t that much distance between them.
After assessing the situation in front of him, Ruan Xian turned sideways so that his clothes could completely block the blood guns.
[Acquaintance?] He turned to Tang Yibu and touched the earring with his hand.
“…I don’t know.” Tang Yibu’s answer was a bit vague. “From their appearance, yes, but it may also be a duplicate that the Mainbrain copied memories of the previous androids and remade it.”
Ruan Xian had never seen Tang Yibu look so vigilant. It wasn’t deliberate vigilance but more like a stress response.
“After all, there’s no need to use androids, especially nowadays.” Seeing that Ruan Xian didn’t move his gaze, Tang Yibu continued to explain in a low voice. “After each stage of Struggler is completed, the more popular android will be sold in batches. I don’t think the android at that time could appear here… The Mainbrain will not easily let go of this opportunity to observe humans.”
“Don’t believe anything they say, Mr. Ruan.” After a few seconds of silence, Tang Yibu added in a low voice. “Unlike the Glass Conservatory, the Mainbrain may not consider mental health issues. Their memories may have been modified countless of times.”
Indeed, the reason why the previous android shows used androids was entirely in consideration of social and ethical issues. There were rigid requirements for the proportion of biological tissue. Since most of the body of an android was composed of bionic materials, they wouldn’t be regarded by the audience as the same kind. Even if there was fighting and killing, the psychology of the spectators wasn’t much different from watching a puppet show.
But there was a premise—the android shows were run by humans.
Ruan Xian had seen it when he was in Shade Refuge. The Mainbrain had the ability to implant memories into real human bodies, so was it really necessary for MUL-01, who was keen to observe humans, to abide by these rules any longer?
…What exactly are the people in The Glass Conservatory watching?
Regarding mental issues, Tang Yibu was probably right.
Ruan Xian had always been sensitive to the emotions of others. He could instinctively perceive that the two people in front of him weren’t normal—the pair didn’t react to the island’s abnormalities and treated the atmosphere around them like a brisk outing. If the people in The Glass Conservatory were finely pruned flowers and the focus was on the stability of their mental state, then this was more like an extreme testing ground.
Let the “upright” ones be more “upright” and the “sick” be more “sick”.
Ruan Xian thought it was fine. Compared with machinery that may have had strange modifications, people with flesh and blood were easier to deal with.
“This reaction is really Xiao Tang.” The surprise on the man’s face didn’t seem to be fake, but Ruan Xian didn’t see much intimacy in it. “Where have you been? We all thought you were dead… Oh, who is this?”
Tang Yibu suddenly grabbed Ruan Xian’s wrist, holding it tightly. Then the android pulled him into his arms and held him firmly, exuding a strong sense of possessiveness that was overflowing.
[Disguise?] Ruan Xian continued to ask questions with his earring.
“Nn. We can’t attract attention.” Tang Yibu lowered his head slightly. The tips of his slightly long hair hung down with his movements. “Assuming that the Mainbrain specially allows some people to inherit the memories of the previous android shows, they are likely to be positioned as ‘important characters’.”
Ruan Xian understood. Important characters usually had accompanying shots, so it was best not to attract the interest of the audience.
Fortunately, after their flurry at the prevention shelter, Gong Siyi would no longer have the capital and qualification to watch The Android Show, so there was almost no possibility of discovering them. However, it was best to still be cautious.
He took a half-step back cooperatively, making a nervous look.
“I didn’t expect you to find a boyfriend after not seeing you for so long, Xiao Tang. What a pity. Those in the camp will be so sad when they find out.”
Tang Yibu didn’t answer but showed a perfunctory smile that Ruan Xian was very familiar with.
“Come back with us.” The man didn’t seem to notice Tang Yibu’s perfunctory smile, and seeing Ruan Xian’s intention to retreat, he instead pulled the woman over. “I forgot to introduce ourselves. Just call me Kang Ge. Over here is my wife, Xiao Zhao.”
Xiao Zhao nodded. The smile on her face was almost as enthusiastic as the man.
“You are?” Xiao Zhao stretched out her hand to Ruan Xian with a sweet smile.
“There’s still a chance to see you again.”
Tang Yibu’s tone was rarely stiff. He let go of his embrace and tugged at Ruan Xian behind him, just missing the hand. The attitude of the android was so abnormal that Ruan Xian was unsure whether it was acting or a real reaction.
“It’s nice to see you guys again, but we have a team, and now we are—”
“Don’t say that.”
The man squeezed Tang Yibu’s arm with great strength, but his movements weren’t fast. Ruan Xian knew that Tang Yibu could have avoided it, but the android didn’t mean to dodge.
“New acquaintances can’t be as reliable as old acquaintances. Let me tell you, Xiao Tang, since we changed places, our lives have been a lot better. You must bring your good friend to see… The truth may be unpleasant, but your team allowed someone like you who has no ability to wander around. This means they are most likely incompetent.”
Ruan Xian’s hand leaned towards the blood gun in his arms.
He understood Tang Yibu’s concerns. Not to mention the rare effect of the prototype inside the two of them, none of the four people in their group were equipped with reality augmentation equipment. Once they attracted unnecessary attention, the possibility of exposure was quite high.
But if they were to go along with the wishes of these two strangers, they didn’t know how long it would take to rendezvous with Yu Le and Ji Xiaoman.
Having said that, Ruan Xian was fully confident that he could kill these two people in two seconds, and Tang Yibu would only be faster than him. However, Tang Yibu hadn’t done it yet, so there must be a hidden surveillance device around him.
Although he understood the truth… Ruan Xian glanced at the man’s hand squeezing Tang Yibu’s arm and his hand became increasingly itchy.
He had always understood the most prudent approach, but this journey was full of wanton actions. Since Professor Ruan was here, he must be monitoring the island through certain means. It may not necessarily be a way to attract attention to the other side.
After all, he had one more advantage than Tang Yibu—he could cheat death perfectly when needed.
However, at the moment when Ruan Xian’s fingertips were about to touch the handle of the gun, Tang Yibu pretended to struggle, intentionally or unintentionally touching Ruan Xian’s quietly moving arm, and took advantage of the situation to press the other party in his arms again.
“It’s okay, Mr. Ruan,” Tang Yibu whispered. “Don’t act. Follow them first.”
“Okay.” Then he raised his head and replied clearly to the two of them.
Although there was no performance on the surface, Tang Yibu’s anxiety was about to burst. Originally, he could find a quiet place to digest Mr. Ruan’s speech. The other party’s unexpected attitude made a mess of him, and he urgently needed to sort out all the data…
If Mr. Ruan was just Ruan Xian’s clone, why would Ruan Xian adopt such an attitude towards him?
If Mr. Ruan was the real Ruan Xian, how could those logical contradictions be explained?
As if there was a fire burning in his lungs, Tang Yibu couldn’t even breathe well—right now, he couldn’t distinguish the complex emotions boiling in his chest.
Unfortunately, this island seemed determined to fight him. A piece of complex emotional data hadn’t been processed and another piece of negative emotion had closely followed.
Tang Yibu never thought that he would meet his deceased friends here. The interest of MUL-01 was even worse than he thought—as the first android show, Struggler took the trial-and-error route of savage development, in which many severely distorted personality samples were born. If the Mainbrain wanted to keep them…
Things were becoming a bit troublesome, and he couldn’t help but click his tongue.
Either pretend to agree first, lead the two to a place where there were no cameras, and then quickly kill them, or use the monsters in the forest to push the boat along and create an “accident”. There must be someone watching here. Even without the S-type Prototype, he could sense the feeling of being watched.
The hair on the back of his neck stood up, and there seemed to be a small needle stuck in his back. This was the precious instinct that the pure human body brought him.
It was very rare, but this time Mr. Ruan intended to make the first move. Tang Yibu stopped his movements in time as the sense of the pricking of a needle behind his back became stronger, causing almost all his hair to explode.
“Go with them first,” he whispered to Mr. Ruan.
Before thoroughly figuring out Mr. Ruan’s situation, Tang Yibu didn’t intend to let the other party step into danger. His Mr. Ruan glanced at him, and finally retracted his arm and intent to kill, then put on his gentle and harmless mask again.
“Good.” Kang Ge clapped his hands. “I’ll take you to see the boss. Maybe you can still get your original job back.”
After that, he seemed to think of something funny, and laughed heartily for a while. Xiao Zhao also smiled at him and patted Tang Yibu on the back as if they had a seemingly good relationship.
Tang Yibu thought it would be good to get to the forest. As long as they calculated the branches and leaves to provide enough cover, with his and Mr. Ruan’s abilities, they would have many opportunities to create a few accidents.
But the sense of being watched was still clinging to him tightly.
[Mr. Ruan.] Tang Yibu finally couldn’t help but write quickly in the palm of the other person’s hand. [What’s nearby?]
[There are only four of us in a two-kilometer radius.] Mr. Ruan replied with his earring. [165 flying machines. I don’t know the specific monitoring parameters. You have to hack in and take a look yourself.]
This was as many flight monitors as one would find through signal tracing. Tang Yibu frowned. Those things wouldn’t give him such a bad sense of being watched, but if the S-type Prototype couldn’t detect it, he probably wouldn’t be able to find the reason.
[By the way, I’m planning to act dumb.] Mr. Ruan’s message came again.
Tang Yibu was taken aback, then he reacted—after the pair approached, Ruan Xian didn’t say a word.
This was indeed more low-key, and in case they were separated, the information provided wouldn’t be easy to contradict.
[Understood.] He poked gently in the palm of the other party’s hand.
“Wow, Kang Ge, look at them.” Xiao Zhao turned her head and glanced at their holding hands. “Come one, you grab me too.”
If they weren’t stepping on the flesh and blood winding through the forest, the couple in front of them would look like a young couple in a peacetime film or TV production. It was just that the slippery innards that were gurgling underneath their shoes broke the warm atmosphere to the point where not even crumbs were left.
Tang Yibu looked at the two people walking in front of him vigilantly, and suddenly his hands tingled.
He lowered his head and glanced at it. There was a thin blade on the back of his hand, and blood was dripping onto the ground along the back of his hand. Mr. Ruan was also covered in blood.
Tang Yibu’s gaze turned slightly. Sure enough, Xiao Zhao, who was just walking in front of him, leaned against him and had a dagger in her hand. He didn’t know when the other party had eroded their perception.
“Also, you’d better let go, Xiao Tang.” The young girl still smiled sweetly. “Kang Ge didn’t hold my hand, so I don’t like to see people holding hands. Next time you do this again, I’ll cut off your finger—it’s alright, though. Kang Ge has good medicine, so it won’t cripple you.”
Tang Yibu didn’t say a word. He had long been accustomed to the style of these two old acquaintances. He only needed a chance to attack…
Xiao Zhao fell crookedly to the ground. The hand holding the knife suddenly had a bullet hole, while her face hadn’t had time to retract.
His Mr. Ruan didn’t put away the blood gun or even expose his nature. The man made a face of extreme nervousness and fear and pointed his muzzle tremblingly at the girl in front of him without saying a word.
Tang Yibu blinked, and at that moment, the sense of being watched on his back disappeared.