Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 172: No Choice
Zhuo Muran was drinking tea in his office as countless light screens flew and chirped beside him, like some kind of alien jellyfish that could swim in the air.
Data, text, and images jump quickly on the light screen. The clear surface of the tea reflected the cold light of the screens. It was disturbed when Zhuo Muran grabbed his cup. There wasn’t a single speck of dust in his office, but he could still see the shadow of the mountains in the reflection of the water.
The mountain that imprisoned his entire childhood.
Zhuo Muran breathed out a long breath, as if this would exhale the pain that had settled in his lungs. He poured out a few pills from the medicine bottle and took them with his tea. They could help him disperse his sleep.
Without sleep, there would be no dreams. He no longer needed to dream of waking up on musty straw, accompanied by the hidden pain caused by his deformed spine and the scolding coming from outside the house. He recognized everything as a dream. Even if everything had already passed, even if that despair would only last for a moment, he didn’t want to taste it again.
And he was just one of the millions of desperate people. They were destined to die in the corner of time, never seeing the flashing neon lights and the long shadows of high-rise buildings in their entire lives.
They had nothing to lose, so they had become the sharpest blade of the Mainbrain.
Now was the time for the Order Supervisors commanders of each branch to report. He didn’t need to dedicate too much energy to this. There were enough auxiliary algorithms that he could handle those reports with little attention.
He was more interested in the events of The Glass Conservatory that happened a while back than the repeated resistance and conquest. Unfortunately, when he uploaded the images of the three surviving people to the system, there wasn’t any feedback for the time being. Afterwards, he conducted a carpet-style information search in the Glass Conservatory and only found a doctor who had a breakdown in the prevention shelter due to his public debt.
The doctor, surnamed Gong, was emotional throughout the whole process and gave them enough information, but the valuable part was pitifully little. The most valuable thing was probably the name ‘Red Ghost’. Using this name as a clue, it was possible to pull the dark line from several petri dishes.
It was just that there was still too much information missing, and not enough to draw a relatively definite conclusion.
“Zhuo Muran,” a voice greeted. “Light screen DS-09i3. Please pay attention to the data feedback of the Android Show.”
Zhuo Muran’s fingers holding the handle of the teacup became a bit stronger. He held his breath and looked back at the person who had suddenly appeared in the room.
A young man who looked less than twenty years old was sitting on the edge of his desk.
He was wearing a loose white blouse, his hair was long and went past his shoulders, and he had a very soft appearance. It was difficult to determine his gender at first glance, but he wasn’t that kind of aggressive beauty.
The young man who suddenly appeared sat there quietly, pure and calm, like a spring frozen in the depths of winter. A little inorganic quality emanated from his surroundings, making him look closer to an exquisite wax figure or a lifelike mannequin than a living person.
“MUL-01.” Zhuo Muran saluted.
It was indeed not a living person, but an image projected by MUL-01. It liked to analyze people’s thoughts, calculate the preferences and biases of those present, and find the most suitable negotiation image. Every time Zhuo Muran saw it, its image would change slightly.
In the face of a mother who had lost her daughter, it would become a girl full of vitality. In the face of passionate young people, it would appear as a majestic middle-aged person. When facing a young girl, it would become a gentle and handsome young man again.
It had no appearance of its own and would only change into the appearance that people were most likely to put down their guard or most likely be attracted to.
Zhuo Muran could be the reason why MUL-01 became like this in front of him. He had just left the mountains, and the teacher who guided him was such a well-mannered young man.
The soft face of the Mainbrain subtly blended some elements that he was familiar with. They made him look a little similar to himself, with the illusion of being a relative.
“It’s a message from Ruan Xian.” MUL-01’s expression was very human-like. “The Android Show G-098132 detection bird captured a looped image, and based on preliminary analysis, he indicated that NUL-00 is still around.”
“Ruan Xian wouldn’t jump out so simply.” Zhuo Muran put the teacup in the corner of the table and kept a polite distance from the projection of MUL-01.
MUL-01’s voice was barely audible, with traces of electronic synthesis, like a real person.
“The content of the information is very convincing, but there’s currently no conclusive evidence. There are currently two highest possibilities. Ruan Xian found NUL-00 and is using it to force it to join the rebel army. Either that or this is a trap by the rebel army. Zhuo Muran, lower the priority of data repair and figure out this matter first.”
“I will personally—”
“You stay here. After all, the possibility of a trap isn’t low… You’re very important to me.”
The voice was extremely nice to hear, and the gentleness and concern in his tone was just right. If he was an ordinary person, it was easy to become completely bewitched by MUL-01, thinking that it really had a heart that resonated with people.
At the apex of Order Supervisors, having created countless mountains of corpses under the command of MUL-01, Zhuo Muran had long passed the stage of being coaxed. Rather, it was better to say that what he wanted was an almost omniscient and extremely cold leader.
Human leadership was flawed in the end, but God wasn’t. The unshakable, unbiased ruthlessness in equality meant great justice.
……Even if it was just an artificial god.
“Yes.” Even if he knew it in his heart, the other party’s gentle attitude still made Zhuo Muran very receptive. Maybe this was one of the reasons why MUL-01 had not changed its attitude.
“If NUL-00 is really alive and is exposed by Ruan Xian, it will definitely have a certain amount of armaments. This time, let your clone scout out first. You can’t underestimate the enemy. There are two derivatives of the D-type Prototype. The rest of the troops will be planned by you. Environmental control has already started a perimeter assessment, so you can use strategic-grade weapons if necessary and wipe out that island.”
MUL-01 continued to smile.
“However, considering the resource consumption to recover afterwards, I’ll only allow it as a last resort. If you do use it, my evaluation of you will drop by 6%.”
“Don’t you need to keep Ruan Xian alive?” Zhuo Muran knew how many replicants were on that island and was even clearer on how many people would die for this operation. However, since MUL-01 didn’t mention it, he wouldn’t make a fool of himself by asking.
“According to what I know about him, it’s impossible for him to be killed by a blow of this level.” MUL-01 smiled again.
“The Y continent region is under full martial law. Regardless of whether the NUL-00 information is true or not, Ruan Xian’s counterattack is coming.”
Zhuo Muran was taken aback. The rebels had been in a rout for a long time. They just received a message from an unknown source and found a small organization wandering around. Things shouldn’t come to this.
“I know what you are wondering.” MUL-01 had an innocent smile on his face. He stood in front of Zhuo Muran with only a floating mist under his golden eyes that held no trace of emotion. “Don’t hesitate. As before, you’ll see the necessity of doing so.”
“I won’t doubt you.” Zhuo Muran’s always tight facial muscles relaxed unconsciously. “I’ll never…”
Before he finished speaking, the projection of MUL-01 disappeared.
Zhuo Muran withdrew his smile and turned on the light screen. He observed the island and the surrounding terrain and began to estimate the combat power. He picked up his teacup again, took a sip of warm tea, and while calculating the opponent’s possible counterattack, he opened the “suspected NUL-00” information sent by MUL-01.
Then he almost spurted out his tea.
He had seen the face on the light screen—it was a recorded non-combat android in the Red Ghost organization. A guy who was playing a marathon while holding a technician in front of him.
If it weren’t for MUL-01’s deadly order, Zhuo Muran would really want to find out for himself. He couldn’t figure out the reason why MUL-01 wanted to stop him. He was integrated with the D-type Prototype and wouldn’t suffer serious injuries.
But MUL-01 was always right.
“The destination coordinates have been sent. Z-α and Z-β will lead the team. I will take remote command. Pay attention to the surveillance in all regions of Y Continent. The level of regional defense has been raised to Level B or above. Please increase the monitoring of each petri dish and be vigilant at all times.”
“The following are the action plans for each region…”
In the area that was about to be attacked.
“Eat quickly.” Ruan Xian put on his shirt as he held a piece of bread coated with peanut butter in his mouth. “This place will be attacked soon.”
Tang Yibu was waving his spoon with interest, trying to wrap the whole slice of bread with peanut butter. He was still chewing fried ham in his mouth. Although he didn’t make any chewing sounds, his cheeks bulged like a squirrel.
Hearing Ruan Xian’s statement, Tang Yibu paused his spoon movement and struggled to speak. “Mmm?”
“Because I know ‘myself’.” Ruan Xian understood Tang Yibu’s question without hindrance. “I also tentatively understand you. You wore my clothes, right? You went to see Professor Ruan.”
Tang Yibu pretended to choke, coughed heavily, but didn’t answer.
Ruan Xian jokingly handed him a glass of milk and patted him on the back. “Don’t pretend.”
“I just want to ask some personal questions.” After downing the glass of milk, Tang Yibu swallowed the food in his mouth and wiped it vigorously.
The android was covering up his emotions again, but Ruan Xian had no intention of pursuing his questions. After knowing his identity, Tang Yibu didn’t remove the earring that could take his life. This revealed a lot of things—he knew the other definitely didn’t forget. In the chaos last night, he didn’t know how many times Tang Yibu’s tongue deliberately licked that earring.
“I care more about what Professor Ruan is hiding.”
Tang Yibu raised his brows.
“I always feel that his trap is not over yet. If it were me… If it were me, there’s no way I’d reveal your location ‘while you’re still here’.”
Ruan Xian stretched out his hand, wiped off the little milk stain still on the corner of Tang Yibu’s mouth, and licked it quite naturally.
“It’s impossible for the Mainbrain to have no response after discovering it. No matter whether it believes it or not, no matter what measures it takes, the Order Supervisors will treat this place as a key inspection area.”
Ruan Xian put on his holster and returned the blood gun to its place, then put on a clean white coat.
“Even if the current Professor Ruan has taken disrupters, those duplicated brains should always come from the genetic samples he kept privately—assuming that the Order Supervisors discovered them and got Professor Ruan’s genetic information, he could do more and possibly drag me down with him.”
“I thought about it.” Tang Yibu swallowed the peanut butter-coated bread and licked the corners of his mouth. “Isn’t this one of the ways to force us to cooperate? I think he has enough defenses—”
“I don’t trust anyone. The current situation isn’t very good. I don’t think he is much worse than me.” Ruan Xian shook his head. “In order not to leave a trace, this place is ‘destined to be destroyed’. He knew we would refuse, and maybe he guessed that we had more power than he estimated. It’s just that Professor Ruan’s specific arrangements, I can’t guess yet…”
Tang Yibu licked the spoon carefully and frowned slowly. “Are you sure, father?”
“I rarely have what I want.” When he said this, Ruan Xian looked straight at Tang Yibu; his pupils dilated slightly. “So once they appear, I will seize all possibilities to keep them.”
Emotionally rich people had countless ways to make their harvest pleasant, while he only had a barren desert, but now a miraculous plant had grown from it.
He didn’t want to watch it die.
“So I don’t believe he will let go so simply, nor will he gamble his life on the matter. If I guessed correctly, our escape is likely to be part of his prediction.”
A good strategy would only leave people with no choice.
Taking a step back, if Professor Ruan hadn’t guessed this, they would be able to escape to a relatively safe place to think and make a decision. If Professor Ruan guessed it…
“Leaving early can seize a greater initiative. We have to find Yu Le and the others quickly and get off this island.”