Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 155: Evenly Matched
Ji Xiaoman didn’t know how to feel for a while.
She didn’t say “ah” until the weird tree was left behind by them.
“Well, I knew it. We keep these things in the Sea of Ruins for security purposes.” Yu Le raised his chin towards the iron bead that was tied to the front of the car. “I don’t know if the mechanical life on the island has been modified, but this thing is pure natural. Its brain is too simple, but it’s not easily influenced and it has a good sense of smell for danger.”
As an experienced mechanic, Ji Xiaoman knew the principle. The species known as the iron beads were relatively primitive from their visual system to their thinking system, and their IQ was probably somewhere between that of a cat and a dog. Since perceptual confusion was a delicate job, if this simple life wasn’t modified, it was difficult for it to be deceived.
Just like the latest type of virus may not be suitable for a system that had been eliminated long ago.
She looked at the cellphone in Yu Le’s hand again, and her back became cold.
“It seems that apart from us who can still talk normally, we can’t believe anything else.” Yu Le glanced at the back seat of the car with his eyes. “We were deceived quite badly.”
“Get the iron bead in.” Ji Xiaoman sighed. “This trick must have been detected so its screams that we’re hearing may not be real.”
Yu Le scratched his head irritably and untied the chain around the iron bead. The second he just untied it, the iron bead rushed into the car crying and pounced on Ji Xiaoman again.
This time Ji Xiaoman caught it well.
“Now we can’t even be sure if this thing came in, right?”
“I have a way.” Ji Xiaoman tore off the soft cloth on the driver’s seat dedicated to the iron bead. “Let it drive.”
“You just said that its IQ is not as good as a dog—ouch!” Before Yu Le finished speaking, he was bit hard by the iron bead.
“Compared to it, we’re not even as good as a goldfish right now.” Ji Xiaoman rolled her eyes from behind the gas mask. “Remember what I said before? Grove R-660 lifeforms have strong positional ability and concentration, so some people use them as driving aids. I didn’t make this co-pilot device for it to be a nest.”
The sound insulation system between the front and rear seats was turned on, and neither of them looked at the back seats.
They didn’t know what was sitting in the back seat, and acting rashly could easily lead to suspicion. The iron bead, who had always been timid, was very relaxed in the car, indicating that the things in the back seat of the car at least didn’t look dangerous.
They had to continue to pretend. The angle of the back view couldn’t be caught by the phone, so all they could do was pretend and deceive them. Yu Le shook his arm that was bitten by the iron bead and let go of the steering wheel. His palms were drenched in sweat.
The iron bead rubbed against Ji Xiaoman’s arms for a while and finally recovered a little from its trauma. Ji Xiaoman got it some parts and mixed them with rare metals to feed it. After gesticulating for a while, it crawled into the driver’s seat and fixed its four legs to the corresponding reinforcement.
“Gwah!” After sitting down, it spat angrily at Yu Le.
Yu Le hugged up his arms, lowered the back of the chair a little, and then tightened the seat belt again. Under the control of the iron bead, the armored off-roader was activated again and began to drive through the forest.
Yu Le rubbed his chin and thought the driving style of this thing was quite interesting. The moment the driver assistance device was connected, the vehicle itself seemed to have become its new shell. π controlled the car quite flexibly. The more it drove, the more excited it became, and its rattles gradually became the singing of a minor tune.
The heavy armored off-roader seemed to have become a living thing, traveling freely in the forest. The speed would change from fast to slow, but fortunately, the car was still stable.
“What do you think about the cellphone?” While the iron bead was singing happily, Yu Le asked in a low voice.
“It’s possible that the people who are paying attention to us have found a way to crack the screen display. We are just disturbed by the perception… Or the technology that simply disturbs perception has been upgraded.” Ji Xiaoman clenched both her hands into fists.
“What about the not-so-good possibility?”
“…It’s estimated that we’ll need to meet with Tang Yibu and the others to be sure. Speaking of it now will only make you uneasy.” Ji Xiaoman’s metal fingers were crunched by her grip.
Yu Le didn’t ask any more questions. Ji Xiaoman wasn’t a rash person who didn’t understand anything. She was a true fighter and wouldn’t hesitate on important issues. If Ji Xiaoman didn’t think it was necessary to say it now, he didn’t plan to object because of curiosity.
“Then let’s leave this shithole and get these two little ancestors out of the car first.” Yu Le fumbled for a long time in the food box, found a box of raspberry cream biscuits, and threw it to Ji Xiaoman. “I’m taking this opportunity to sleep for a bit. Little profiteer, keep a good lookout.”
The iron bead twisted its body on the driver assistance device, and the armored off-roader drove faster and faster. The leaves of the shrubs and the low-hanging branches kept banging on the car window. Yu Le leaned on the back of his chair and slowly closed his eyes to the sounds of the tapping.
One of his hands was hidden under his clothes, holding a gun tightly.
“Found it.” A few kilometers away, Xiao Zhao ran over the trail left behind by the vehicle; her voice was extremely cheerful.
They gradually moved away from the camp surrounded by perception interference products, and the surrounding scenery began to become relatively normal. Before the wind had time to flatten the grass, the traces of vehicles on the ground were clearly visible. Xiao Zhao was short, but she had a strong figure. Even though she was carrying a huge backpack, she didn’t have that wobbly, tired look from behind.
“It looked like they had encountered enemies.” Kang Ge rubbed up a little brown soil at the roots of the grass and sniffed. Xiao Zhao leaned down like a spider and scratched on the ground. “The other party should have used something similar to a small rocket launcher. The smell of the rocket launcher weapon is still there.”
“There’s no sign of them getting off here… Xiao Tang, your companions aren’t bad. You must introduce me!” Xiao Zhao said happily as she pulled the sharp-edged grass with her gloved hand. “Honey, look at the grass roots turned up here—they must have not gone far yet! Let’s go quickly. Otherwise, those people will definitely consume all the supplies in the car. That’s our future home!”
She started humming a tune as she spoke, then muttered, “Should we decorate Chinese style or a minimalist style? A fresh armored off-roader, scrape off the scales, clean the innards, and bake it into a good home…”
“Xiao Tang, now you have to be in front.” Kang Ge turned to Ruan Xian and Tang Yibu with a smile. “The traces of the car are so obvious that even you can catch up with it. Xiao Zhao and I have worked hard for so long, so it’s time to take a break. Don’t you think?”
“Yeah, yeah.” Somehow, Xiao Zhao had gotten around to Tang Yibu’s back again and was poking it with the tip of her knife. “Xiao Tang, you first! You’re using us anyway.”
After that, she put away the knife and happily rubbed against Ruan Xian’s side. Her beautiful eyes widened, and she stared at Ruan Xian nervously. “Xiao Ruan, I’m telling you. You can’t believe what a man says. Xiao Tang was a well-known lover before, so he must not be sincere with you. Do you want me to help you kill him? Just say it if you have been wronged.”
Ruan Xian smiled politely at her and shook his head. In the next second, the knife that was still in Xiao Zhao’s hand was taken away by him instantly. The tip of the knife cut a small hole in Xiao Zhao’s neck, causing a little blood to ooze out.
“You don’t know how to be nice!” Xiao Zhao screamed, grabbed the knife back as she deflated, and returned to Kang Ge in a daze. She put up one of her husband’s arms and then got under it. “It seems that there’s no way to keep pets in our new house. He’ll bite people. It’s rare that I like the way he looks.”
“It’s okay, when the house is repaired, let’s go somewhere else to catch one.”
Tang Yibu ignored the noisy couple, walked to Ruan Xian’s side, and pointed to the tracks on the ground. “I just took a look, and their analysis is correct. Mr. Ruan, location?”
As always, Tang Yibu wasn’t wrong. At the moment he discovered the tracks, Ruan Xian turned on his perception and began to explore the surrounding anomalies. The detection range of the S-type Prototype was extremely large, which was helpful in this case—even if someone was peeping at them to cause perceptual interference, they wouldn’t be able to fake the situation a few kilometers away.
Ruan Xian could perceive a target that was about the same size and sound as an armored off-roader. But the strange thing was that the way it was moving was very weird. It felt more like a living thing than a vehicle. The S-type Prototype couldn’t give him perspective, so Ruan Xian didn’t know whether that was a car or some kind of creature.
But it was indeed the closest target to an armored off-roader within a radius of a few kilometers, and the direction of the tracks matched, so it was worth exploring.
[Follow the tracks.] Ruan Xian gave a response. [I heard the sound of branches hitting the car window glass and trees rubbing against the vehicle, but the way it’s moving is a little strange.]
It may be that Yu Le had some thoughts of his own, or he was simply attacked, and his mind was unclear.
Tang Yibu nodded, and the two pretended to follow the tracks. After a few steps, Tang Yibu squinted at the tracks on the ground, and then held Ruan Xian’s hand.
The touch of the palm of the hand was warm and slightly itchy.
The android began to write in the palm of his hand again. The two people behind them were far enough apart that Tang Yibu could keep his voice down to communicate, like before. Seeing that their gaze hadn’t changed, both of them knew that it was highly unlikely that the other party would hear their conversation. However, now that Tang Yibu had started to act like this again, the information that was about to be conveyed must have been extremely important, so there could be no mistakes.
Ruan Xian lowered his gaze and felt the strokes carefully. After receiving the information, he raised his head and looked at the sky that was almost obscured by branches and leaves; the smile on his face didn’t disappear.
‘This is how it should be,’ he thought. It would only be interesting if they were evenly matched.
Now he was almost certain that the culprit of the peeping was Professor Ruan. The chessboard, which was hidden by the fog, gradually became clear. This time, Tang Yibu wasn’t sitting opposite him—the situation now seemed more like a ghost had broken away from the chessboard and was whispering in Tang Yibu’s ear.
The chess player opposite of the android had revealed a rough outline.
[I agree with you.] Ruan Xian responded through his earring. [It’s just that I still have one question left… How did you get the news that the S-type Prototype might be in the ruins of the Institute?]
[I would also like to know the details of the destruction of the A-type Prototype. We have to walk for a while, so tell me properly, Yibu.]
Inside the underground facilities on the island.
“How’s it going?” Professor Ruan was still standing on the edge of the metal bridge, holding a cup in his hand. The hot cocoa in the cup was steaming, with a few white marshmallows floating in it.
The hand holding the cup wore thin gloves.
“They are about to meet.” An android with exposed wires replied. Its body was far from that of humans. There were no traces of bionic tissue. The hard plastic and light metal shells were exposed so that it was closer to a skeleton than a human.
“Very good.” Professor Ruan turned around.
He wasn’t wearing a white coat but casually put on a dark gray turtleneck sweater and stood up straight. Unlike the remnants of the promotional materials on the market, his face was no longer thin and frail after the initial treatment. He had undoubtedly taken the initiative to actively groom it.
This grooming made him look a little younger than forty that was handsome and elegant.
“Have you found anything about the young man around NUL-00?”
“He claims to be a member of the Red Ghost. The earliest sighting was over at the Sea of Ruins, using the name ‘Ruan Lijie’.”
“Ruan Lijie? Interesting.” Professor Ruan took a sip of his cocoa. “Continue to check.”
“Request to contact the Shade Refuge. According to the current clues, they are likely to have stayed with Mr. Guan Haiming—”
“No.” Professor Ruan interrupted the android’s report. “You don’t need to contact Haiming. Start from the Underground City.””
“Then the efficiency will be…”
“Do as I say.”
“Be careful when checking. The degree of surveillance from the Mainbrain in the Underground City isn’t low.” Professor Ruan sighed. “NUL-00 is an important part of the plan, so there must be no mistakes.”
The author has something to say:
The tribulation of the iron bead is over. Now it starts to drive√
Iron bead: Gwah gwah gwah gwah gwah! (None of these humans can fight!)
A small note: Professor Ruan’s face is not like the original Ruan’s face.
And Ruan’s theoretical age should be 28 years old + 12 years (hibernating) = 40 years old. Professor Ruan is 40 years old XD