Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 167: Destructive Tendencies
Some things were important in history, enough to shake the pattern of the human world. Unfortunately, even if this was the second time Ji Xiaoman had experienced the Great Rebellion of the 22nd Century, she still didn’t have the feeling of being a “witness to history”.
Everything in front of her seemed to be just a small disaster. In a corner she couldn’t see, the world should operate according to the laws of the past.
The woods next to the institute were on fire, and night was growing thicker as the tongues of the fire scorched the surroundings. As the scale of attack became larger, strings of blue electric sparks flashed across the transparent barrier near the research institute, creating a huge gap surrounded by lightning.
Tang Yibu was far from the confident image in their impressions. At this moment, his face was mixed with numbness and tension, with the instinctive thirst for life of living things. The android didn’t hesitate to rush to the gap, limping towards the institute where smoke was billowing out.
With a lot of festering wounds, his movement speed wasn’t fast. Xiao Zhao, who was in a frenzy, could have killed him with another blow, but instead she just shot his heels and calf. She seemed to want to see him collapse more than kill him.
“You didn’t see anything,” she murmured. “You’re lying to me.”
Despite the addition of more bullet wounds on his body, Tang Yibu still rushed towards the Institute firmly, without looking back.
“Zhaozhao!” A man’s roar appeared on the other side, which sounded like Kang Ge’s voice.
Kang Ge didn’t come alone. He was followed by a few fresh faces. It seemed that this little couple had finally integrated into a small camp on the Android Show and had achieved good status.
“Didn’t we agree? Although Xiao Tang isn’t much of a fighter, his observations and insights are useful to us. It’s okay if you beat him to vent, but you can’t kill him!” He glanced at those behind him with a not-so-subtle reproach in his voice.
“I didn’t kill him. He fled that way.” The armed machines flying in the sky were like schools of fish in the sea. They had an eerie beauty, but Xiao Zhao was obviously uninterested in them right now. “Kang Ge, will you accompany me to chase him?”
Kang Ziyan didn’t answer this time; he looked behind Xiao Zhao in horror. There was also a commotion among the androids who followed Kang Ziyan. Given that this was probably the memory of Kang Ziyan and Su Zhao, Ji Xiaoman could also see it clearly.
Behind Xiao Zhao stood two children holding hands. Their eyes were closed tightly, their bodies were blurred, their limbs were incomplete, and their clothes were as hazy as mist. The two children stood quietly behind her like two sleeping ghosts.
“Kang Ge, just the two of us will chase him, okay?” Xiao Zhao repeated it again.
Ji Xiaoman crawled down the abdomen of the ventral cockroach and obediently hoisted back to Yu Le’s shoulders. The gas mask was almost scraped off by the bulge in the abdomen of the ventral cockroach. She explained the situation in a low voice, while Yu Le clung to the tail of the insect. Eventually, he let out a long sigh.
“I can’t figure out what that one wants to do,” he said. “If Xiao Tang is really that identity, Xiao Ruan will push us out, probably because he doesn’t want us to get involved in too many things. To engage in perceptual interference, there are many ready-made examples on this island, so why are they showing us their memories?”
Professor Ruan just needed to throw them into a crazy augmented scene, or simply remove most of the interference, and apply a little trick to let them wander in the woods. There was no need for him to specifically expose this information.
Or, he wanted them to know Tang Yibu’s past? But honestly, although it felt excessive, Yu Le and Ji Xiaoman had seen more than enough hellish scenes to really not care and certainly wouldn’t be angered into a fit of rage by this.
“Anyway, suppose we just take it one step at a time. We can’t just pat our asses and leave now,” Yu Le whispered. “The two psychopaths in front of us collapsed. Professor Ruan must have his intentions if he wanted to do this.”
It was completely dark. Tang Yibu’s figure had disappeared near the burning Institute. Ji Xiaoman firmly grabbed the shoulder strap of Yu Le’s coat and didn’t respond.
The wound hurts.
Blood was gushing from the injury, soaking the jacket thoroughly. Ruan Xian kept his breathing at the lightest among the bumps of the advancement from the armed machine. The tank he was in was sealed tightly. If it weren’t for the repair function of the S-type Prototype, Ruan Xian thought he would suffocate to death before reaching his destination.
The more concentrated his mind was, the more obvious the pain became, so he had to find other thoughts to distract himself.
It was quite interesting that both of his fake deaths occurred near the Shade Refuge; only one was reality and the other was fantasy. The unnatural aspects of the Shade Refuge could all be explained—why could people quickly find a powerful and well-functioning base as a refuge? Because it was there before the Great Rebellion of the 22nd Century.
This show was full of replicants, many of whom were struggling to survive… Everyone was living in the created illusion; the only difference was “whether or not their image was made public”.
The so-called Android Show that had been going had never stopped.
In other words, this wasn’t a show at all, but just another petri dish that wasn’t much different from other petri dishes. Because it was broadcast all the time, it was several times more dangerous than other petri dishes. Professor Ruan took a completely dark road right under the lights.
Are the existing survivors really pure “survivors”?
In the twelve years of his deep sleep, Professor Ruan had been awake, and he should have noticed this. In this situation, it was almost impossible for humans to make a comeback, unless…
Ruan Xian’s scalp suddenly tightened.
Their journey to find Professor Ruan went very smoothly. If the other party had spent so much energy on an elaborate plan, it wouldn’t be possible to just want to see Tang Yibu and look for new possibilities.
At least if it was him, he would definitely do it after there was a relatively certain solution. He could probably guess the method the opponent wanted to use—if he treated this situation like a game of chess, there were not many solutions that could make the most of all the pieces.
Then there was only one last piece left of the puzzle regarding his identity.
The ups and downs of the armed machine’s advancement finally abruptly stopped. Ruan Xian listened carefully in the darkness. There were no other signs of life around. They should have just stopped in a place similar to an underground warehouse.
When the time came, Ruan Xian didn’t hesitate anymore. He grabbed the disruptors in his pockets and injected them all into the body of the armed mechanical life along the gap, then took out the healing blood gun and bombarded the gap frantically.
Unlike the attack blood gun, the blood emitted by the healing blood gun hadn’t deteriorated, and it also had the active ingredients of the S-type Prototype. Ruan Xian didn’t care if his blood supply could keep up, he just desperately pumped blood into the armed machine—this thing was less than two people high, and there wasn’t much mechanical tissue besides its shell. In theory, he could inject enough blood in a short time to make it collapse.
Sure enough, under the interference of the disruptor, the thing didn’t even have time to sound the alarm.
In less than five seconds, the white mechanical tissue proliferated like a malignant tumor, squeezing out of the metal gap. The moist flesh and blood that gushed out nearly squeezed Ruan Xian to death in the tank. The tightly stitched shell couldn’t withstand such an internal impact. When Ruan Xian heard the dangerous clicking sound of his ribs, there was a big burst from outside.
There were no flames, no smoke. The armed machine directly exploded by its own crazy tissue growth. The tank containing Ruan Xian fell to the ground, and its opening collapsed under the impact.
In the next instant, fresh air suddenly poured into Ruan Xian’s lungs, and the cold floor slammed into his face.
Have to move fast.
Even if this burst didn’t cause a temperature change, Professor Ruan must have his own monitoring system. Ruan Xian looked at the dim space for a while, and stood up staggeringly. The ribs that had just healed from the big hole in his chest were still exposed, and the mechanical tissue secreted by the S-type Prototype was squirming on the pale bones.
Ruan Xian sucked in through his nose. He smelled Tang Yibu and another somewhat familiar smell, like himself.
Close at hand.
He clenched the blood gun in both hands and couldn’t help but smile on his face. The next obstacles were almost the same as the air in front of him—serious injuries, blood loss, and a strong cold stance… His mind was clearer than ever under the action of hormones, not to mention that the designer of those security measures was “himself”.
The doors slid open one by one. The blood-stained clothes allowed him to better hide in the darkness. The dim corridor retreated quickly from his field of vision. Ruan Xian struggled to run forward; his legs almost lost consciousness, his ears filled with his own gasps.
This time there was no longer any illusory perceptual interference outside the door, so his path was extremely smooth. He didn’t know how long he ran until he finally reached the door—at this distance, he could clearly hear Tang Yibu’s heartbeat.
He stretched out his hand and opened the door.
A familiar yet unfamiliar middle-aged man turned to look at him while Tang Yibu sat among the observation screens, imprisoned in place by the chair. The light screen was full of images of Ji Xiaoman and Yu Le.
“You…” Before the man finished speaking these words, Tang Yibu had broken free from his shackles and choked his neck from behind and dragged him back to his seat.
The android removed the robotic arms as easily as pulling apart playdough, and even more so when fixing them back—Professor Ruan was firmly stuck in the chair by the deformed robotic arm that was crackling with sparks but didn’t seem too surprised.
Tang Yibu clapped his hands in satisfaction, turned around and looked at Ruan Xian. Ruan Xian put away the gun and stretched out his hand towards the other party.
The mess of emotions in his brain burned into a ball. Thousands of words were stuck in his throat. Ruan Xian didn’t know what to say, nor did he rush up for a hug. He just obeyed his instinct and stretched out his hands towards Tang Yibu.
Unlike the illusion he kissed, those golden eyes were no longer like dusty metal, but more like a corner of sunlight, or the fresh petals of a sunflower. Tang Yibu’s whole body looked vibrant, with the soft smile he was familiar with.
Does he know? How much does he know?
But Ruan Xian didn’t bother to ask. The plan had come to an end, but there wasn’t much free time left. An unprecedented tsunami of strange emotions hit his nerves like never before, and Ruan Xian could only feel that his limbs were about to lose consciousness.
Tang Yibu looked much calmer than he did. The android leaned over with a smile and grabbed his outstretched hand; his palm was frighteningly hot.
It seems he knows.
The tsunami waves instantly froze, and the trembling nerves were once again tightened. Emotional barriers worked well enough at certain times that it could make him calm down on the fly. It wasn’t because this joy and pleasure had faded. In the other party’s eyes and expressions, Ruan Xian detected a terrible tacit understanding and similar concerns.
And at the moment of skin contact, both of them shook.
The pearl-like waves froze, and the dark reef stood out. A new problem had emerged between them; an unprecedented problem…
Under the multiple factors of preparedness, vigilance, and appreciation, they maintained a full fire. The relationship was a relatively stable one, with just the right amount of distance. Despite their own selfishness and desires, they tried time and time again to upset the balance, trying to pull each other a little closer and taking pleasure in appreciating the swing of the scale…
It was too fast this time.
They hadn’t learned how to deal with such complex and majestic emotions, and they couldn’t curb the urge to pull each other in and decrease the distance, but neither of them was willing to remove their spikes and armor and give up their dominant position. Such a hug would only kill their opponent.
Ruan Xian let out a small sigh. He broke free from Tang Yibu’s hand, grabbed the hair on the back of the other party’s neck, and kissed him viciously.
He understood that he needed to be careful; take it slow and not lower his defenses as a result. He saw what was hidden behind Tang Yibu’s smile, but this time, he couldn’t solve the problem immediately.
Ruan Xian thought that perhaps their new discovery would destroy them.
…Then at least let him enjoy this second first.
With his back to Professor Ruan, who was confined to the seat, Tang Yibu tightened his arms and gave Ruan Xian an overly hard reunion hug. Ruan Xian could hear the overwhelmed crunch of his ribs. After a long and scorching kiss, Tang Yibu rubbed Ruan Xian’s cheek affectionately as before, and bit his ear gently.
The android said softly, stubbornly using that special noun to call his maker.
“Twelve years, father.”
Sure enough, Ruan Xian grabbed the clothes on the back of the other party. His identity, the last piece of the puzzle, was now in place.