Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 170: Memory Breakdown
‘It’s too fragile,’ Ruan Xian thought.
Tang Yibu only had to raise his hand and the commander-in-chief of the rebel army would fall off the floating bridge and pass away quietly.
However, Professor Ruan was right about one thing—even if they didn’t cooperate, there was no need to kill Professor Ruan specifically. After all, MUL-01 was indeed an enemy to himself and Tang Yibu. None of them would do such a thing as take the initiative to destroy the enemy’s maximum containment for a moment of pleasure.
Time seemed to stop for a few seconds.
Ruan Xian felt that this scene was weirdly comical. His brain and body were mixed with the S-type Prototype that it was difficult to classify him as a human. Professor Ruan was left with only a brain that maintained its activities in a device, while Tang Yibu had nothing to do with humans.
Yet here they were, discussing the future of human society.
“…I kind of know what it means to have almost extreme support for the naturalness of personality and memory.” Ruan Xian didn’t touch the black cube box. “If I were you, I would rather extract my own personality data and make an artificial intelligence to assist Yibu.”
Tang Yibu looked around, found a small iron table, and put the black box on the table, next to a ceramic cup with a little cocoa left.
“That’s more like propaganda rhetoric.” It was a human voice that answered him this time.
Another Professor Ruan’s “body” came to the bridge unknowingly. He casually pulled up a few light screens as two mechanical robots began to clean up the blood and bodies on the bridge. One brought three stools, while the other held a tray with food and drinks.
Professor Ruan obviously didn’t like to express his opinions with electronic synthesizers. He twisted a piece of biscuit and chewed it slowly.
“The message to most people needs to be simple and clear. Few people will consider too detailed definitions.”
He pointed to Ruan Xian with a relatively polite gesture. “For example, I can say that you are the original Ruan Xian, or you can say that you are the product of the entire dissolution of Ruan Xian and then put together again. The latter is a very ambiguous definition.”
Professor Ruan didn’t seem to mind Ruan Xian’s previous aggressive behavior at all, as he blinked at Ruan Xian amicably.
“After smashing people into pieces and putting them back together as they are, the controversy shouldn’t be too big. But by replicating a person to a molecular-level accuracy, controversy will start to arise. From a molecular level, the gap between the two wasn’t much. Can the difference between the two molecular gaps with the same composition represent the difference in ‘self’?”
“Even if your body information is exactly the same as father’s,” Tang Yibu very nonchalantly took a cookie and said with a little slurred speech.
“Your memories are completely different. Conceptually, the two of you are closer to identical twins—the kind whose biological information is similar to a miracle.”
Having said that, Tang Yibu fervently took two cookies and gestured, without the slightest tension that he was being targeted by the Mainbrain.
“What if the memories are exactly the same?” Professor Ruan smiled.
Tang Yibu stopped talking. He stared at Professor Ruan, and Ruan Xian once again felt the subtle aura of danger when they met again.
“…These things, I’m afraid that humans themselves need some time to think properly and even then will never get a unified answer. It’s quite dangerous to put them into technology before you think about it thoroughly.” Professor Ruan changed the subject at the right time.
“I’m not interested in your leadership experience and moral tendencies.”
Ruan Xian didn’t want to listen to the other party’s prattle. Professor Ruan was obviously changing the subject, and he didn’t want to be bypassed.
“I just want to ask one thing. You didn’t extract your own personality data. I don’t think that’s simply due to a matter of belief.”
After sighing softly, Professor Ruan was silent for a long time.
“If I can, I don’t want to die either,” he finally said, then summoned the light screen again and started the program.
The bottom of the phage-like machine was originally dark, but the next second it was illuminated by a reddish light. In addition to the fixtures that Ruan Xian guessed, there were other things below—countless black boxes neatly stacked on the shelf connecting in series with each other through intricate lines, connected to the phage-like mechanical monster.
Each box was marked with a large string of numbers, a bit like a serial number. The material of those boxes was opaque, but Ruan Xian could probably guess what was inside.
They were exactly the same style as the black box on the table.
“I didn’t copy out so many bodies simply for ‘ease of movement’.” Professor Ruan took a sip of hot cocoa. “Naturally, I won’t throw away the brains I excavated, so that I can harm a few real people less.”
“…” Thinking that those brains came from Professor Ruan who was the same origin as himself, even if Ruan Xian’s emotions were light, he couldn’t help but shudder.
“But unfortunately, like other people’s brains, they can only be used as outreach resources, and they cannot support NUL-00 with thinking like me.”
Professor Ruan smiled bitterly.
“I have even made cybernetic brains. You should have found my thought access needle. I have tried to inject memory and as many thinking algorithms as possible, but the effect still isn’t good… To achieve the best results, my brain must be completely crushed during sampling.”
That meant real death. A complete contradiction—wanting to survive and replace yourself with a cybernetic brain, but to achieve the effect of perfect substitution, you have to completely crush your brain.
What’s more, there was a record of the mutiny of MUL-01, so the safety of the cybernetic brain was still in doubt. Thus, it was better to put more effort into the replicated human brain. Professor Ruan simply abandoned the thought access needle and left it in the Underground City, where the trade of cybernetic brains was thriving as part of his breadcrumbs.
Although it was ironic to say this from his own mouth, Ruan Xian couldn’t find a more suitable description. Nobody liked watching their own brains. Within a few weeks, normal people would’ve gone completely crazy.
“We have indeed been to the Underground City.” Tang Yibu smiled and began to exude hostility. “There is technology over there that can copy the brain information of a living person and put it in a cybernetic brain. If there’s enough time, in addition to image memory, it’s also possible to transfer the thinking model.”
“So is the Tiantian series exactly the same as Miss Ji’s personality and behavior?”
Professor Ruan put down the cup and lifted his eyelids.
“Human thinking is a very delicate thing. Objective memory is the easiest to decompose, but personality, thinking habits, and more detailed aspects—you have to analyze the whole brain to obtain them. The target is the living. Those technologies can restore thinking patterns to 70% or 80% at most. The error is still uncontrollable—70% or 80% may be enough for the average person, but this is war, not a child’s game. Even a 10% margin of error can’t be good enough.”
Tang Yibu murmured vaguely, as if he was reluctantly persuaded.
“As for the replicated brain, I myself can be regarded as a replica of the infused memory. I know how long it takes to integrate memories from different sources and stabilize my own way of thinking.”
Professor Ruan glanced at Ruan Xian again. “Their state of mind is almost the same as that of newborns. This isn’t something that can be solved with a few memory cocktails. In general, there’s not enough time and too many variables—MUL-01 uses time much more efficiently than me, and our gap will only get wider. This matter must be done as soon as possible.”
“I have no more questions. Thank you for your explanation.” Ruan Xian nodded. “Let’s go, Yibu.”
Professor Ruan almost choked.
“It’s true I really won’t kill you.” Ruan Xian didn’t touch the sweet drink. “Besides, you did lie to us, and we never said that we must cooperate with you, right?”
Professor Ruan wiped the cocoa splashed on the black box with his sleeve, raising his brows high.
“…Just kidding.” Ruan Xian tugged at the corner of his mouth. “There’s a lot of information that we got today. How about giving us a night to think about it?”
An hour later.
He didn’t know if it was specifically prepared for NUL-00 and its companions, but the guest rooms were extremely nice in the huge underground space.
But this “nice” was relatively speaking, not strictly. Compared to the Underground City prostitution room, it wasn’t even as good. The room was rough with an industrial style, but they had everything they needed and no shortage of essentials.
“Want to collect more information?” Tang Yibu said, wiping his dripping hair with a towel. The android seemed to be sure that Ruan Xian wouldn’t easily agree to cooperate, and directly skipped the related questions.
“Go at his pace first. There’s no benefit to showing your cards too early.” Ruan Xian suddenly became unspeakably nervous. “Professor Ruan has done this, so he will definitely not let us go easily. It just so happens that I don’t understand the technology and its quite… much…”
Tang Yibu approached, wafting warm water vapor onto his face.
For a while, Ruan Xian didn’t know how to face Tang Yibu.
Not to mention that the social system had already collapsed; they weren’t related by blood. Reason had never been his concern, but he was at a loss with the NUL-00 in his heart and Tang Yibu suddenly overlapping.
When it was tit-for-tat with the android before, he was still able to let go of his desires freely, but now there was an unfamiliar and solid emotion in their relationship…
There was worry about gains and losses.
Tang Yibu’s painful memories were still circulating in his mind, mixed with bits and pieces of the five years he spent with NUL-00. If the android had died before today, he would have been sad for a while at most, and then continued to live in peace.
But that self-conscious love had changed, and now Ruan Xian didn’t know if he could continue.
At that moment, Tang Yibu stood in front of him unscathed, and Ruan Xian could feel the continuous dull pain in his chest.
He wasn’t even sure what to call this emotion.
When Professor Ruan was still there, Ruan Xian was still able to divert his attention by getting down to business. At this moment, he had nowhere to escape—Tang Yibu, who was close, bit his lip contentedly, and the fresh smell after bathing pierced his nose.
“I think so too,” the android said happily. “We…”
Ruan Xian stretched out a hand and pressed Tang Yibu’s lips. Then his fingers traced up his cheeks. It was a softness that was far different from the hard chassis, but equally warm. The fingertips went from the upturned corner of the mouth all the way to the root of the ear, and finally Ruan Xian simply stretched out his hands and held Tang Yibu’s face.
“Twelve years ago, you were the only thing I cherished,” Ruan Xian whispered, “and still is.”
“Like I was saying,” Tang Yibu put a hand on the back of Ruan Xian’s hand and narrowed his eyes, “you haven’t completely taken off your guard against me, father.”
“I can’t help it. I’m used to it.”
Ruan Xian, who was called this way, only felt that the point of skin contact was amazingly hot, and he barely managed to keep his tone steady. “I just want to make it clear that I will never abandon you.”
If there was really a day when they needed to kill each other again, it certainly wouldn’t be for such a frivolous reason—Ruan Xian originally wanted to say that, but before he could, he swallowed back the words.
His emotional disorder always allowed him to maintain untimely sobriety, such as now.
Ruan Xian knew very well that his dependence on NUL-00 wasn’t some lotus growing in silt, or a flawless light in the darkness. He was aware of the selfish part of it.
He poured his few emotions into it, partly because “NUL-00 couldn’t leave him”.
No matter how abnormal he behaved or how indifferent his feelings were, it would not dislike him or leave him as a result. Even if it learned to hate, he had enough time to make up for it slowly without worrying about it dying or disappearing unexpectedly.
He would never have to worry about saying or doing the wrong thing. Although it wasn’t possible to completely open himself up, Ruan Xian could always get temporary relief in front of it.
If life twelve years ago was like walking a tightrope in the sky, NUL-00 was like the safety net under the steel wire. Even if he wouldn’t really fall, just knowing that it was there brought him extreme relief.
But now this safety net had grown feet and could disappear at anytime, anywhere. If Tang Yibu wanted to, he could completely erase his traces.
Almost instinctively, Ruan Xian subconsciously put on the most perfect mask—the father NUL-00 liked, and then slightly mixed it with his previous performance.
He put it back on, nestled it in his flesh, and then sewed it back together with a needle, delicately.
“Well, I’m very happy.”
Tang Yibu said carelessly. There was also a bit of depression in his eyes that Ruan Xian couldn’t decipher. As if trying to hide the subtle emotion, the android gave him a hug; his voice soft and gentle.
They were both trying to suppress something.
But at the moment, these things may not be the point. Ruan Xian exhaled and decided to vent those strange emotions in other ways. He slowly unbuttoned his jacket, dropped his underarm holster, and walked into the still-lit bathroom.
“Do you mind washing again, Yibu?” Before stepping into the door, he stretched out his hand for his NUL-00.
As a result, when the hot water was turned on, it wasn’t turned off until the next morning. Ruan Xian was lying in the metal bathtub as he used the last of his strength to turn off the faucet. He thought he and Tang Yibu were crazy enough before, but last night had blown off all his nerves.
He didn’t know if the android wanted to vent his grievances and losses of the past twelve years, but the android always liked to call him father softly in his ear when he was most relaxed. Even if Ruan Xian couldn’t equate “maker” with “relative”, he still trembled because of this.
As a result, the water spilled all over the floor, and there wasn’t much hot water left in the bathtub.
Tang Yibu occupied the other half of the bathtub at this moment and was sleeping happily, even though he had a cybernetic brain in his head and didn’t need sleep. The other party’s wet black hair hung down his neck. Ruan Xian gently brushed them away and kissed Tang Yibu’s hair.
He hadn’t figured out the source of Tang Yibu’s suppressed emotions, but he did perceive its impact last night…
For a few moments, when he tried to grab more air and suppress the vigilance and madness that wandered deep in his mind, he felt murderous intent.
Even if they were in the most intimate of situations and he was doing his best to display the appropriate emotions.
From the depths of those golden eyes, he saw destruction.