Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 146: The Two Children
“Are you new here?” The child bandaged his companion’s wound and skillfully wiped the blood from his hands.
“I’ve been hit, so my mind’s a little unclear. I can’t just drive around here,” Yu Le replied smoothly. “You just said that today’s the day of the attack. What’s that?”
“Once a week, everyone will come together and attack the doll’s head over there. My brother was injured this week. If we had followed the original plan, we would’ve died.” The child pointed to the creepy ceramic doll in the distance, with the expression of a real child. “If you can’t remember which side you are on, uncle, it’s best not to get involve.”
“Why attack there?” It was Ji Xiaoman who spoke this time.
“An attack is an attack. Everyone’s like this, so do you need a reason?” The child glanced at her strangely. “I haven’t heard of a reason.”
Ji Xiaoman and Yu Le looked at each other through gas masks.
“Having said that, is there a neutral zone or a convenient place to hide? You two are not in good condition, our memories are fuzzy, so it’s better to find a good hiding place.”
Yu Le started calculations in his heart. According to Tang Yibu’s and Ruan Lijie’s consistent styles, it was impossible for him and Ji Xiaoman to stay where they were and wait for them to come back. Those two guys would probably go directly to Professor Ruan.
Then it was better if he simply focused on finding Professor Ruan—the island didn’t look small, so it was easier to head towards the same goal than to rendezvous.
No matter where these two little guys came from, their forces and those from the doll’s head would have regular conflict, which meant this wasn’t a peaceful area. If Professor Ruan wanted to survive safely on this nightmare island, it made more sense for him to choose a relatively calm spot and reduce his exposure.
It might be a good idea to start from this angle.
The children in the backseat didn’t answer immediately. Yu Le glanced at them from the rearview mirror—both were young and were too good-looking. Even if he knew that the one who was sleeping was the “younger brother”, he didn’t know whether the one who was awake was a boy or a girl.
Can this type of android also be used as a supplement for the show?
This thought was enough to make him feel disgusted.
“I’ve said enough. If you still want to continue to inquire, we need to exchange things,” the child who was awake stated, after carefully examining the situation in the car. “Give us something to eat in exchange.”
“Why do I feel like I’m getting the short end here? The medicine and safety given to you aren’t worth it?”
“Then you can kick us out.” The kid didn’t sound panicked at all. “Anyway, we know where to hide. Now that everyone is preparing to attack the camp, there should be no one else nearby. I wish uncle and sister good luck.”
“What do you want to eat?” Before Yu Le had time to speak, Ji Xiaoman was one step ahead. “By the way, tell us your name, otherwise it’s not easy to address you—you can call me Man Jie. The one next to me is Lao Yu.”
“My name is Su Zhao, and his name is Kang Ziyan. I want sealed canned fruits and soda. Do you have any?”
“Is he really your brother?” Yu Le couldn’t help but interrupt. The surnames of the two children weren’t the same.
“Pretty much the same as a brother. He’s the only person I believe in here.” Su Zhao stubbornly raised his chin.
Ji Xiaoman picked out two canned yellow peaches, took two packs of milk, and nodded to Yu Le. Yu Le said nothing and lowered the glass partition a little between the front and rear seats. However, Su Zhao didn’t start eating immediately after receiving the items. He—or she—opened the canned food and milk, filled the lid with a little bit of it, and handed it back to Ji Xiaoman.
Ji Xiaoman’s reaction was also very smooth. She took the lid and drank it readily.
The child who claimed to be Su Zhao waited for ten minutes to make sure that there was no reaction from Ji Xiaoman. Only then did he feed the canned food to Kang Ziyan, who was still in a coma. He carefully ate a small piece of the peach and put the rest away.
“Show the way.” Yu Le waited for Su Zhao to finish chewing slowly before speaking again. He pretended not to see the kid hiding the scalpel he used to cut off the rotten flesh in his sleeve.
“Go forward like this first. I will tell you if you need to change direction.” Su Zhao was very cautious, holding Kang Ziyan tightly in his arms. It may be that the drugs and sugar played a role, as Kang Ziyan’s face looked a little better.
“At least tell us where we are going.” Yu Le closed the glass partition again. “You can’t take all the cheap shots, kid.”
“Outside the factory.” Su Zhao cleared his throat. “That’s a neutral area, where the administrator grandpa lives. If you fight nearby, you will definitely be punished by the administrator.”
“Well, after all, everything you need has to be produced, and people also need a place to produce things locally.” Su Zhao lowered his head. “We have hidden there before. Just control the distance and don’t let the administrator grandpa find out.”
Hearing this, they seemed to be heading in the direction of the Mainbrain.
But as the saying goes, it’s dark under the lights*, so it’s not impossible that Professor Ruan was hiding nearby. As for the phrase “people also need a place to produce things locally”, Yu Le wasn’t very surprised—no matter how complete the drugs and equipment here were, at the rate of fighting once a week, if there was no fresh blood to replenish in time, the show would’ve been long empty. Timely addition of androids was a necessity.
*(灯下黑) Idiom has a few meanings, but in this context it refers to how people don’t see and notice things and events that are happening close to them, and also that the more dangerous an area is, the safer it is.
“You have seen the administrator,” he added, intentionally or unintentionally. Ji Xiaoman was busy messing with a strange device in her hand, as if she had lost interest in the children in the backseat.
“I saw him through the window a year ago before he had time to pull the curtains.” Su Zhao shivered. “Very old. A bit scary. I heard from the adults that he has been on this island for at least six or seven years and has never left, even for a single day.”
Indeed, this kind of messy and chaotic show must be controlled by an experienced Order Supervisor. This child was shrewd, but his experience was limited, and his means of disguising his emotions weren’t very good. Yu Le could see that their little guest was truly scared.
“That old man must have good means if he could manage such a big island alone.”
“There is a mechanical army near the factory. A few years ago, someone on the doll’s head wanted to grab some supplies and was beaten to death. The appearance of the corpse was projected in the sky for a week.” Su Zhao swallowed his spit.
“Speaking of that doll’s head.”
Yu Le naturally turned the topic around. He had already figured out how to get information from Su Zhao’s mouth.
“I remember that the upper limit of the consciousness influence is ten people, and we don’t look like we are being targeted. So how come we can see it everywhere we go?”
“What?” Su Zhao looked confused. “What consciousness influence? It has been there all this time?”
Ji Xiaoman raised her head when she heard the words, pulled Yu Le’s sleeve with her fingers, and shook her head gently.
Yu Le breathed out cooperatively. “Forget it. I’m still a bit muddleheaded.”
Su Zhao didn’t answer again. He slightly squinted his eyes as if he was sleepy but not daring to fall asleep. The lethargic Kang Ziyan finally woke up. He tried to stand up and hugged Su Zhao’s shoulder with difficulty.
“Sleep Zhaozhao,” he said. “I’m awake. I’ll keep watch.”
“……Nn. Remember to take them near the factory, don’t tell them the destination all at once…”
Ji Xiaoman poked Yu Le’s thigh with her fingertips again. Yu Le looked down. Ji Xiaoman added a line of information to the light screen displaying her physiological indicators.
[Turn on the one-way sound insulation between the front and back seat.] She wrote.
Yu Le did as he was told, and the two stare ahead, trying not to show any signs of conversation.
“Those two children are humans,” Ji Xiaoman said.
“You really mixed things into their food… Your hands are pretty fast. Didn’t you give Luo Fei a little at the beginning? The android paralyzing agent isn’t all used up yet? Xiao Ruan only gave you a pill.” Yu Le vacated one hand and lifted the mask to pinch his brow.
This island was so abnormal that he no longer had the strength to be surprised.
“There was only half of it left, but the environment was worth confirming.” Ji Xiaoman’s voice was serious. “The situation here is more complicated than we thought. Lao Yu, I feel that something isn’t right.”
“Okay, what’s going on?” Yu Le turned the steering wheel and bypassed the trees in front of him. “You didn’t let me keep asking just now. Do you have a clue here?”
“I’m probably clear about what Tang Yibu said before,” Ji Xiaoman murmured. “First of all, not to mention that these two children are humans, I checked several times and didn’t detect any external devices on them… Simply put, the reality augmentation device was implanted in them, and it’s probably in their brain. This kind of surgery is quite sophisticated and should have been buried at the beginning of manufacturing.”
“Even if you grab the reality augmentation equipment, you have to find someone who knows how to open a brain for you. Is this what you’re getting at?” It’s no wonder why Tang Yibu said it was troublesome to get the device. Yu Le didn’t want to split open his head on this creepy island at all.
“……Yes.” Ji Xiaoman looked at the giant doll head outside the window. “As for the doll’s head, I can also explain that too.”
“Uh-huh, I’m listening.”
“Augmented reality affects up to ten people.”
Ji Xiaoman summoned a light screen above her thigh and pointed out a red dot.
“Suppose this is the person who first created the ‘doll head illusion’. His ability is very strong, strong enough to erode the cognition of the other ten people.”
The red dots on the light screen became eleven.
“Then all the people who ‘saw the doll’s head’ in cognition sum up to eleven, and these eleven people went to infect the cognition of others separately…”
The red dots were constantly connecting, increasing, and finally becoming densely packed.
“So we can always see those weird things—they are not attacks specifically aimed at us, but the collective cognition of the people on this island. Without augmentation equipment, we can only passively accept the influence. For those two kids who have been ‘born’ with reality-augmentation equipment, this is reality.”
“In other words, the more people believe in it, the more real those strange things are?” Yu Le glanced at the red dot on the screen.
“Nn. What we are seeing now is most likely the result of the stabilization of the ‘reality’ of the entire island.” Ji Xiaoman nodded.
“Oh…” Yu Le stretched out his tone. “Maybe this is a good thing.”
Ji Xiaoman couldn’t help turning her face and looking at Yu Le.
“Didn’t Xiao Tang say this before? If you’re affected by these messy things and think you’ll die, it’s really possible that you will really die.”
“Suppose these people think that the word ‘cigar’ is a curse of death, and those who believe it from the bottom of their hearts will be killed by this curse. Do you think we look like the kind of people who’ll believe that? We knew from the beginning that all this here is fucking fake. As long as we have doubts, we’re invincible.”
Yu Le snorted.
“How funny. There’s not a kind and loving person among the four of us. There’s no need to worry about mental attacks. Just pay attention to attacks in reality. No wonder Xiao Tang emphasized the reality issue from the beginning.”
“Stop the car!” Kang Ziyan, in the back seat, suddenly shouted. “Turn left, turn left!”
“Why are you so excited, kid? Don’t break open your injur—”
Yu Le slammed on the brakes.
Suddenly, about seven to eight young people blocked the only path for the car. Yu Le glanced at the cellphone screen. These people weren’t illusions.
“All get out.” A young man who seemed to be the leader repeated it again. He held a gun steadily in his hand. “Hand over the two people in the backseat.”
The author has something to say:
These two children are not twins XDDD
For those confused so far, think of this island as a highly augmented reality. The people here are equipped with equipment that can enhance the “reality” of this island. Using Ji Xiaoman’s example, there’s one person who’s particularly mentally strong and augmented that there’s a giant doll on this island. Though the max range is 10 people, these 10 people that are under that augmented influence now believe that there’s a giant doll on the island and thus infect 10 other people (and so on and so on), eventually all inhabitants reality are now affected to believe that the giant doll exist thus changing their cognition.
Basically, the “realities” of the island is formed by the augmented thoughts of its inhabitants until it finally stabilizes into what everyone on the island now believes it to be. As people not equipped with these augmented enhancement equipment, Ruan Xian’s party can only be passively influenced by the augmented reality of the island inhabitants, but they can’t change it in any way (that is, unless they split open their heads and install the augmented enhancement equipment into their brains).
On another note, with children involve this is giving me some Lord of the Flies vibes.