Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 163: Time of Death
Everything was clear now.
At that point in time, the control of androids was still extremely strict. If NUL-00 wanted to obtain a body that could be designed independently, the Android Show project that hadn’t started yet was the best goal—the character design was different, the control was neglected, and because of the need for repeated debugging, it would not start immediately, which would give NUL-00 a considerable respite.
It lured the employee to trade with Plan Corp late at night. Taking advantage of the cover of night, it was dark enough to operate a mechanical assistant, sneak all the way into the Android Show project warehouse, and finally cause an explosion. The explosion created the illusion of damage to the cybernetic brain, indicating resources were about to run out… It very likely planned this from the beginning.
If this was its subject exercise, then he would have to say, “Well done.”
For a moment, everything around seemed to be no longer important. The only sound left in Ruan Xian’s entire world was the clicking of the gears in his mind, which was accompanied by the tingling pain that seeped from his bones.
Now it seemed that the android didn’t sneak into the show factory after the Great Rebellion, where he gained his body. On the other hand, he was indeed an AI made by Ruan Xian, but wasn’t specially made to deal with MUL-01 after the Great Rebellion.
That was his NUL-00. The little thing that was soaked in the heat sink of the computer room and occasionally liked to be coquettish.
At some point in the past, Ruan Xian didn’t have such speculation, but the knowledge of the Institute could no longer prevent him from thinking about it.
After all, according to the regulations of the institute, the cybernetic brain had to be completely shut down before the energy supply disassembly and the destruction process could be carried out. If NUL-00 had been disciplined, it would be impossible to “negotiate with an employee after being shut down” like this memory.
There was a clock in the hall on the edge of memory, and Ruan Xian remembered the time.
In other words, before the end of April 2095, NUL-00 carried out an intrusion operation without authorization, played with the regulations, and left a simple synchronization command in the external system—it was like an anchor point. Once NUL-00 left the shielded computer room, in order to transmit the results, it would actively stimulate the main system of NUL-00 to respond.
A simpler analogy would be that it was like giving a knocked-out person a pot of ice water. NUL-00 was forcibly awakened again and escaped death.
The problem was that, in his own “memory”, NUL-00 had no reason to do so.
Why? Ruan Xian asked silently, even though he knew he couldn’t get an answer.
His breathing didn’t leave a mist on the glass. His hands could feel the coldness of the glass wall of the liquid tank. Since this felt real to the touch, it had to be a deep memory that Tang Yibu had of it.
Through the glass, he put his hand on the palm of the other person that was pressing the glass.
Ignoring Yu Le and Ji Xiaoman, who were extremely confused behind him and the iron bead that was spinning around his feet, Ruan Xian was silent for a while before he spoke softly. From an angle that no one could see, facing Tang Yibu, who was still murmuring, he slowly mouthed his words.
Don’t be afraid. He responded like so.
A few kilometers away.
“…So that’s how it is.” Professor Ruan went around behind Tang Yibu’s chair and propped his elbows on the back of it. “That’s how you escaped.”
Tang Yibu didn’t answer Professor Ruan but stared at the image on the light screen—Mr. Ruan stayed by the liquid tank containing the android. This was the first time he had seen the other party show such a complicated expression.
Even if he knew that Mr. Ruan had Ruan Xian’s memory, the other party’s reaction was still beyond his expectation.
It was his most ideal and ridiculous expectation.
Tang Yibu had imagined Ruan Xian’s own reaction countless times. After getting his destruction report, the gentle Professor Ruan in his memory may show a little regretful expression, and the other party may have regretted making such a decision for a few moments, wanting to make him the exclusive AI assistant for the office.
During the time he struggled to survive on the Android Show, Tang Yibu thought about many possibilities, and among them, the least likely and most unreasonable—the other party would feel extremely profound pain and self-blame for his own destruction.
Just like Mr. Ruan in the light screen.
Even if the flesh and body were cut up and the spirit was eroded, even if he was fooled by him to the point of losing most of his sanity, Tang Yibu had never observed such heavy pain in the other party. Even if that person was walking on the verge of death, he could face it calmly and indifferently. He once classified Mr. Ruan as a relatively dull group of humans.
This didn’t make sense.
Mr. Ruan was obviously colder and more ruthless than the Ruan Xian in his memory, with his lack of social adaptability exposed. Even if it was a replica with a memory, such an emotional reaction was too excessive—Professor Ruan also watched everything from the sidelines; his face only had the impeccable emotion of regret.
Compared to Mr. Ruan, who was trembling slightly on the light screen, this one even had the energy to chat with him.
“It seems that I still think it’s complicated. I didn’t expect you to add an unauthorized synchronization program to the external system… It was indeed a loophole, but at that time you shouldn’t have been in crisis. Why did you do such a thing?”
The good thing was that Professor Ruan’s question allowed him to contain his somewhat out-of-control emotions in time.
Tang Yibu knew exactly what Professor Ruan wanted to ask, but he still didn’t mean to answer.
“You plug in… What synchronization command did you enter?” The unusually difficult conversation gave Professor Ruan a bit of a headache.
Having said that, he set his sights on the back of Tang Yibu’s head. That precious cybernetic brain was buried deep under the flesh and bones. As a person who owned part of the data, digging out these image memories up close was already his limit.
The motivations, emotions, and thoughts at that time were questions that only NUL-00 could answer.
Unfortunately, that android didn’t seem to be able to hear him, and he didn’t give the slightest reaction from beginning to end.
“Okay, let me change the subject. What are you going to do with Ruan Lijie? He now knows your true identity.” Although Professor Ruan moved casually, he also maintained a polite enough distance from Tang Yibu.
This was a good opportunity.
The matter was about Mr. Ruan. He could just use this opportunity to try and probe around.
Professor Ruan dredged up his least favorite memory and exposed it. Of course, these behaviors were within the possibility that they had expected, but Tang Yibu still didn’t like this feeling very much.
The other party dug up only basic records such as vision and hearing from his cybernetic brain, but he remembered more. He remembered the fear of overheating inside the cybernetic brain and the dizziness when the energy approached the bottom limit. At that time, the word father was almost engraved in his program system. No matter how he calculated it, he couldn’t explain it…
‘No, he can explain,’ Tang Yibu thought blankly. He just couldn’t accept it.
Tang Yibu stretched out a hand, stroked the light screen in front of him, and stopped beside Mr. Ruan’s face.
He had no reservations about that person, prepared a gift for that person, and made a serious request to that person. However, the collapse of trust only took a moment.
[They were once my things, but I can’t make them return to their original state.]
He once asked Mr. Ruan for advice in this way, and the other party told him that this emotion was called “regret”, but he didn’t tell Mr. Ruan what he found afterwards—regret, confusion, and an endless struggle that was enough to turn into hatred.
What are your plans after completing the project?
He once wanted to be completely free, far away from that person, even if the whole world was turned into dust by MUL-01. What was more, it seemed that MUL-01 didn’t have such a radical plan yet.
But since he came into contact with Professor Ruan, a conjecture seemed to have dug a hole in his heart—whether he had been manipulated by his memory or wasn’t his original self to begin with, it was very likely Professor Ruan wasn’t the “Ruan Xian” he knew; it was also unlikely that Mr. Ruan was a clone. The father he knew may no longer be alive, and he could no longer prove anything to the other party.
This thought made him very uncomfortable. He couldn’t define the discomfort, but it crushed his insides into a ball.
At that moment, Mr. Ruan’s performance had given him a spider silk of hope, and he couldn’t wait to catch it in his hand immediately and study it carefully.
His Mr. Ruan.
Must endure. Tang Yibu maintained his steady breathing. Everything must be carried out in strict accordance with the plan.
“…You put him by my side just to see how I make a choice?” Facing the other party’s question, Tang Yibu finally spoke. His response was quite vague, and his tone was still not good.
As he spoke, Tang Yibu didn’t take his eyes away from his Mr. Ruan. Professor Ruan didn’t answer his question immediately. He looked at Ruan Lijie on the light screen for a while, and the smile on his face slowly disappeared.
“You can say that.” Finally, he responded softly. “I know what you are wondering, so I can open up all my physiological indicators to you.”
Tang Yibu pursed his lips.
“If you still don’t believe in the matter of “I am Ruan Xian”, you can ask directly.”
“Warning.” A mechanical voice in the room suddenly sounded. “It is very dangerous to open up physiological data. Please think twice—”
“I know, it’s not just a custom virus or something like that… Even if NUL-00 doesn’t like me anymore, it won’t stand on the side of MUL-01. I still have this point. With the data collected so far, it’s impossible that he’s a cover for MUL-01.”
“The risk is still—”
“I also have things I want to figure out, so I have to show some sincerity.” Professor Ruan waved his hand casually. “Shut up.”
Tang Yibu squinted his eyes and saw countless light screens appear in front of Professor Ruan. All kinds of data on the light screen jumped wildly, and that was probably the information MUL-01 wanted most at the moment.
Even if it was Ruan Xian, there was no way to fake it under his eyes. Tang Yibu certainly had this confidence.
“I’m Ruan Xian.”
Professor Ruan sat on the chair casually, crossed his legs, clasped his hands on his knees, and smiled again on his face. He looked at Tang Yibu for a while, and his smile gradually changed. He no longer looked gentle, but was inexplicably cheerful.
“You should see that I’m not lying and you must have a lot of questions. I will start with what you care about most.”
“To be precise, so far, I think I’m the only Ruan Xian in the world who is a human being. It may not be the same as your expectations, but I agree with the point that ‘I am Ruan Xian’. The test not long ago should make you wary, so I tend to spread things out more than beat around the bush.”
“The ‘Ruan Xian’ you know died on April 21, 2095.”