Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 160: Door
“Have the monitoring results come out?”
Professor Ruan stood alone in a small, dim room, with light screens hanging in the air around him. The light from them illuminated the naked darkness. Exposed mechanical parts were quietly sitting on the four walls of the room, like steel vines with life.
The fatherly expression on his face disappeared completely, leaving only a wry smile.
“It’s under analysis. Please wait a moment.” Half a minute later, a cold mechanical voice replied.
Following his own arrangements, NUL-00 stepped into the deep underground and confirmed the situation of his companions through the light screen. It may not be accurate to use the word “companions”. The android was probably paying attention to Ruan Lijie’s situation.
Before that, he had already thrown out all the spy points that should be thrown out.
From attitude to words, to the tests of key events in each period, judging from NUL-00’s immediate reaction, he could basically confirm the other party’s mental state and attitude. However, to obtain a more detailed analysis, Professor Ruan must use instruments for precise analysis—from the enlargement and contraction of the pupils, to the trembling of every muscle on the face, to body temperature, heartbeat, breathing rate, and other indicators; there could be no mistake in these matters.
He had to be sure of two points. What kind of thoughts does NUL-00 have about its creator, “Ruan Xian”, and what it knew about “Professor Ruan” himself?
The answer would directly affect his execution of his plan.
“Damn, sure enough, I’m still not used to doing this kind of thing.” Professor Ruan rubbed his cheeks; his voice very low. “I have goose bumps myself.”
From a design level, NUL-00 was more uncontrollable than MUL-01, and as a biological emotional processing system, it was also elusive. Thus, he could only repeatedly stimulate the android, to get as much information as possible in a short period of time, while trying not to be discovered by the other side.
After all, out of survival instinct, NUL-00 also needed to be wary of the possibility of MUL-01’s involvement and wouldn’t remove its defenses to strangers all at once. What was more, even if it was a human, no one would like a character who claimed to be a father but fell short. NUL-00 first reaction was definitely vigilance, which made it more difficult to obtain information.
It was a pity that, even so, that set of questions was already the most efficient set of countless options.
At present, it seemed that NUL-00 responded normally to randomly sampled past events, and there didn’t seem to be any memory loss. The android was undoubtedly a bit resistant to the range of closeness he had deliberately created, but he didn’t show much anger. It controlled its own emotional system very well and didn’t reveal too many emotions that would expose its thoughts.
Professor Ruan didn’t intend to take his opponent lightly. From the point of view regarding intelligence, NUL-00 and MUL-01 weren’t too far apart. The problem lay in the other party’s unpredictable emotional tendencies…
Facing his own too deliberate closeness and temptation, it didn’t show any emotion similar to contempt or anger. On the surface, its performance could barely be classified as “still dissatisfied with its creator”, and it hadn’t questioned his identity too deeply.
But that feeling was so weak that Professor Ruan couldn’t be 100% sure.
Their game was still in the early stages, and he couldn’t clearly figure out his opponent’s tactics. The current performance of NUL-00 had only ruled out some possibilities for him, but there were still many remaining.
NUL-00 may not have had many deep feelings for its creator, or it may have been simply adept at controlling its emotions, or it may have been privy to information that he didn’t know, which allowed it to learn certain things about its identity from the start…
He needed more information.
Professor Ruan twisted the lace at the end of his gloves casually, exhaling with a headache. Although after the Great Rebellion in the 22nd Century, every day of his life was like walking on thin ice, it was the first time that he had walked on ice like this. He already knew it was a gamble, but when the time really came, it was false to say that he wasn’t nervous.
Perhaps it was better to look at the positive side—the android finally responded to a certain memory he threw out. No matter what the other party thought in his heart, at least on the surface, he hadn’t planned to turn on himself. His performance should be fine…
But is it really?
“……Ah.” Professor Ruan stopped twisting the strap and sighed softly.
Careless. Professor Ruan thought that the android was likely to rely on this to determine his condition. His situation was unique, and it was hard to tell how NUL-00 would define it.
However, this idea was a relief. At least the direction of his own negotiations could be determined next. Until then, he could turn more attention to “Ruan Lijie” side.
Professor Ruan once guessed that NUL-00 would find a few human companions for himself, and even maintain a close relationship with one or two of them, so that it would be easiest to avoid the probing of the Mainbrain.
But the name “Ruan Lijie” was really a coincidence. The fake identity detection system operated by Ruan Xian a long time ago had “ghost files”, which were full of “electronic ghosts” carefully selected by Ruan Xian himself. MUL-01 was born many years later, and it could only acquiesce that these “ghost files” that only existed on the internet were actually people.
In order to avoid being detected by the existing system, Professor Ruan could only think of a safer identity than one of those electronic ghosts.
Assuming that Ruan Lijie was just a back-up of Fan Linsong or other forces, he shouldn’t have had such a name. Although the name was very ordinary, it was too coincidental to say that it was a coincidence.
“Continue to analyze and give me a copy of the visual data in the ‘perception dream’. It has to be the same angle as NUL-00.” Professor Ruan casually pulled out a chair and sat down, scratching his head. The gentleness and elegance had disappeared like snow melting, leaving only a burning sense of oppression.
“On the NUL-00 side, implement the plan normally.”
Deep underground, Tang Yibu sat quietly on a soft leather chair, staring at the person on the light screen. The golden eyes were slightly darkened by the cold-colored light screen.
Tang Yibu could now be basically sure that “Professor Ruan” wasn’t his maker.
He didn’t have much inclination at first. The memory details were correct and matched the other party’s attitude so accurately to the point that it seemed deliberate. It was almost clear that this was also some kind of test. Unfortunately, even if the other party was the real Ruan Xian, Tang Yibu couldn’t deny that the other party would do that…
Even he himself couldn’t determine whether he had real malice towards “Ruan Xian”.
As Ruan Xian, who was searched all over the world by MUL-01 and hadn’t given up resisting, it was reasonable to put self-protection first when he wasn’t clear about his attitude. Leaving aside the issue of attitude, the relevance of the plan he said was indeed consistent with reality; from finding the S-type Prototype to finding Professor Ruan himself, the intelligence chain along the way went smoothly.
What made him notice something was wrong at first was the attitude of the other party.
The content of Professor Ruan’s statement was fine, but there was a hint of discomfort in the other party’s physical movements as he deliberately approached him. The other side wasn’t very good at acting. Although Ruan Xian in his memory had never shown a side related to disguise, Tang Yibu always felt that something was wrong.
Professor Ruan’s emotional expression lacked the sense of repression he was familiar with.
Even if twelve years was enough to change people’s character, Tang Yibu didn’t think that desperate situations and wars would make people more cheerful. There was no doubt that the other party wasn’t only deliberately spying but was also deliberately concealing his true character.
However, this subtle difference couldn’t be used as conclusive evidence. That was until the other party tied a bow on his bandage, which increased the probability to more than 60%…
Professor Ruan had overdone it, too much.
Professor Ruan had his face reshaped as a way to reduce the risk of exposure, but it seemed, probably considering the time cost of maintaining healthy skin, Professor Ruan didn’t treat his entire body. In his own memory, Ruan Xian didn’t need to do much himself, but looking at the size of this place and the quality of androids that appeared, this Professor Ruan was afraid that he would have to do quite a lot by himself.
So he wore a pair of thin gloves to protect his skin, which was reasonable. The end of the gloves had a lace-up that secured the sleeves when necessary. This design wasn’t uncommon.
But Tang Yibu saw it from the other side of the cuffs. The lace was neatly tied. Forget about Mr. Ruan, whose details were unknown, Professor Ruan was by no means a person who could tie knots.
In order to test him, Tang Yibu was able to understand the deliberate closeness based on details of the past, but in unnecessarily copying details more than ten years ago, he had suspected that the other party had some other purpose.
The real Ruan Xian didn’t need to cover up this point.
[Professor Ruan’s target is probably you.] While following Xiao Zhao and Kang Ge on the way to the car, after exchanging information about the discovery of the S-type Prototype, he discussed this issue with Mr. Ruan. At that time, this was what Mr. Ruan told him.
[I know.] Tang Yibu’s fingertips crossed the opponent’s hot and humid palms.
[If it were me, I would use the mechanism of the Android Show to add an extra layer of perceptual interference. This is the most convenient way to hide… and the environment is also very suitable.]
[Reasonable. I have studied the scanning mode of MUL-01, and this is indeed a blind spot.]
[The premise of large-scale perceptual interference is to have a large-scale observation ability, which can also explain why we keep feeling someone’s spying on us.]
[I subconsciously noticed the detector hidden by Professor Ruan using perceptual interference, and you could sense it due to the crisis instinct of the S-type Prototype.] Tang Yibu smiled as he picked up the conversation.
[Nn. It seems that you are quite special in the eyes of the other party, Yibu.]
Tang Yibu didn’t answer this time, while Mr. Ruan smiled to himself. He continued his transmission. [If the other party really added an additional perception interference, most of the things we see are untrustworthy and could easily be guided. I guess he wants us to meet and act together… In order to analyze you based on your behavior.]
[Yes, he also needs to protect himself.] Tang Yibu agreed lightly.
[If I were to do this…] Mr. Ruan raised his dark eyes. [I don’t need you to be present in person. In order to reduce interference, I will take you away in advance and communicate with you alone. But I can’t be sure about the point in time of the kidnapping.]
[Whether he is real or not, he will spy on your position from multiple angles.] Mr. Ruan made a gesture. [Deliberately provoking you, deliberately getting close to you, that sort of thing.]
[And whether it’s true or not, the S-type Prototype was arranged by him. Indeed, he may not approach you for a good purpose, but from a standpoint, he’s not the enemy.] Mr. Ruan added. [We can take advantage of this.]
Having said that, he stuffed a small bag of things into Tang Yibu’s waist bag. His movements were natural and smooth.
[…I’ve gone through all of them. Help me spy too, Yibu.]
Tang Yibu moved his attention away from his memories and poked his pocket. Professor Ruan took away all the props that might be threatening, but the key object was still there.
Everything was going well.
Tang Yibu raised his head again and looked at Mr. Ruan’s face on the light screen.
He concealed the information, which caused their discussion to be incomplete—Mr. Ruan didn’t know that he was NUL-00 and wouldn’t be prepared for what would happen next.
But he had.
Tang Yibu leaned forward and stared earnestly at every frame on the light screen.
His and Mr. Ruan’s thinking had always been very similar, and he only needed to follow the other party’s guess and speculate a little more. Separating himself from the team, Professor Ruan could not only speculate on his condition based on the reaction of his companions, but also kill two birds with one stone, by putting the survival of those humans and the safety of the identity of NUL-00 on both sides of the same scale.
That was a more perfect way to test “NUL-00 position”, and Professor Ruan was doing exactly that. He didn’t even bring the others back to the base to control them, but only brought himself back.
On the other hand, since he could take out the ironclad evidence that he was NUL-00 and show it to those people, Tang Yibu could basically determine the opponent’s methods. His fears came true—as someone who had access to the NUL-00 project data, Professor Ruan really had a way to steal memory information from his own brain.
Although after gaining his body, Tang Yibu encrypted and modified his brain for the first time, the memory before the modification was still within the range of being spied on.
With the matter coming to this point, it was more likely to go wrong by forcibly trying to conceal his identity and changing the situation. It was better to turn the opponent’s offensive into his own and aim for an answer that he had always been curious about.
“It’s not free to help you spy, Mr. Ruan,” Tang Yibu murmured silently, showing a smile that wasn’t brilliant, but real enough. “It’s kind of a shame not to take advantage of Professor Ruan even though he’s here.”
How would his Mr. Ruan react?
On the light screen, a group of people had already reached the underground of the building. There was no weird distortion in the environment, and the corridor was full of doors on both sides that stood quietly. The ceiling lights flickered on and off. The whispering didn’t stop, but the corridor was empty.
Mr. Ruan held the trembling iron bead in his arms, with no expression on his face. He stood against the wall and carefully opened the first door closest to them with the assistance of Yu Le.
Inside the door wasn’t a normal room. It was connected to a sunny hall that Mr. Ruan should be able to recognize.
It was the research institute before the Great Rebellion in the 22nd century.
That was the memory belonging to NUL-00.
The author has something to say:
Tang is still quite ruthless. He and Ruan are probably the two most unlikely fellows to fall in love √
COVID’s no joke. Recovery was slower than expected. Stay safe everyone. Get vax if you can.