Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 176: Tang Yibu’s Decision
Yu Le removed the glass barrier between the front and rear rows of the armored off-roader. Ji Xiaoman and Professor Ruan’s three-legged machine stayed in the back row while Ruan Xian sat in the front passenger seat. The window was wide open so he could always lean out his body and support Tang Yibu at any time.
Tang Yibu climbed the car’s side, one hand holding the roof bracket and the other a gun.
Outside, the two children have disappeared. Ji Xiaoman’s eyes stared blankly forward, as if she hadn’t had time to react. Professor Ruan’s brain manipulated the three-legged machine into the seam of the seat and fixed himself firmly in the back row. The iron bead had rolled into the seat between the cushion crevices. Seeing that everyone was in the car, it became rest assured and whirred to sleep.
The scene outside the car was a complete mess.
Temporary dead walls were raised like the skin of poor-quality puppets. They couldn’t hold the flourishing illusion. The colorful stuff poured out through the two non-existent children, bulging around the car, covering the sky in a constant stream. It was like all the paradises in the world had collapsed at the same time, and everything with color had come to life, and together they decided to have a grand tour.
Bombs. The bombs fell straight into the illusions created by the perceptual interferences, as if an anchor had sunk into the colorful ocean without splashing too much water.
“Where to go?” Yu Le’s face was flushed. It seemed he was trying to hold back 10,000 questions to ask and finally picked the sentence with the fewest words.
“Due north.” Professor Ruan and Ruan Xian spoke at almost the same time.
Yu Le no longer dawdled. He quickly started the car. “I’ll use my cellphone to make do. Remind me at any time if there are difficult obstacles. You can do it, right?”
Now that Professor Ruan was in their car, he shouldn’t use his perception interference to rewrite the images on the cellphone display. Yu Le adjusted the position of the cellphone in front of the driver’s seat and let out a snort.
“Nn,” Ruan Xian replied softly as he kept staring at Tang Yibu, who was still dangling out the window.
Colorful balloons twisted like living creatures and rushed to the sky. A merry-go-round was turned upside down as it was inserted into the ground and started bouncing up and down. Fortunately, Yu Le, who was born in the Sea of Ruins, had excellent psychological strength. Thanks to the shuttle agent, he dared to drive and hit anything head-on.
The scene would temporarily protect them at the bottom, so the Order Supervisors wouldn’t be able to find them for a while. Ruan Xian observed for a while the group of carnival things outside the window and then withdrew his gaze. “That thing underground was planned to be used for this in the beginning, right?”
Although Professor Ruan had the ability to hold up the second layer of “perceptual wallpaper” alone, the premise was that the perceptual interference wouldn’t be too complicated. The center of the island enclosed by the dead wall was full of strange and exotic things, which couldn’t be done by a small three-legged machine in the back row.
Just like himself, Professor Ruan was also an experienced liar.
The phage-like machinery he showed them wasn’t an assassination device against the Mainbrain, but a perceptual interference device that controlled the island. His replicated brains were used by the device to enhance the augmentation.
“The assassination device does exist.” Professor Ruan didn’t sound surprised. “I just didn’t put it here.”
Whether deliberately choosing a dangerous practice of hiding under the lights or simply placed it elsewhere, both approaches made sense. Without enough information, even Ruan Xian himself couldn’t easily judge. Now that the matter was over, the opponent’s plan was clear.
Although he was unwilling to admit it, he and Tang Yibu were defeated in regard to intelligence collection. The twelve-year combat gap really did exist.
“Before you two murmur something we don’t understand, consider how we feel.” Yu Le stepped on the gas and accelerated the speed of the vehicle. He casually threw a ball of paper on Ruan Xian’s thigh while he made an ugly face.
“While it’s safe now, hurry up and make things clear.”
He glanced at the three-legged machine in the back seat through the rearview mirror. “I hate being kept in the dark the most. The little profiteer and I figured out that Tang Yibu is a relative of MUL-01, and then what? You guys rushed back, muttering a bunch of inexplicable things, and then pressed us to escape together.”
“There has to be an explanation for this. To be honest, those two kids don’t matter. I don’t know what’s going on with this strange machine in the back—”
“I don’t understand yet,” Ji Xiaoman interrupted him, her voice hoarse. “I still don’t understand about those two children.”
Ruan Xian hugged his arms and didn’t mean to speak. He used his gaze to signal to Professor Ruan in the back row with an “after you” gesture.
“Forget it, I should explain.”
There was a weird soothing effect in Professor Ruan’s voice.
“Let’s start with Miss Ji… All the reactions and performances of those two children were created by Kang Ziyan and Su Zhao, and then shaped by the impressions of others. This matter is also quite complicated to say. In simple terms, they are ‘people in the eyes of others’.”
“They have no life. Although they act as if they are living, they really aren’t. Miss Ji, I understand your mood. Even if I’m very clear about the principle behind it, I still can’t help but be affected—you can think of them as characters who are portrayed in works of art and that will make you feel better.”
“Don’t they feel anything?” There was a rare irritation in Ji Xiaoman’s voice.
“I don’t know. No one can know. The concept of life was originally defined by humans,” Professor Ruan said softly. “This is the price of not controlling development in the first place. Our social ethics can’t keep up with the speed of technological advancement. If they try to get to the bottom of the issue, people will go crazy… That’s why I have always insisted on the ‘naturalness’ of humans.”
He paused for a while and turned to Yu Le’s direction. The black box shifted in the glass trough, causing a string of bubbles to emerge.
“To formally introduce myself, I am the clone of the real Ruan Xian, the Professor Ruan you know. To be precise, I’m Professor Ruan’s brain. The me now is also difficult to classify as ‘human’.”
Yu Le grabbed the steering wheel and shook his hand. “…You dug out your brain?”
“He did. I’ll take over from here.” Ruan Xian rubbed the ball of paper that Yu Le threw at him and put it in his pocket. “It’s hard to make my identity clear in a few words, so I won’t explain that for the time being—simply put, Professor Ruan set in motion a plan to make Yibu come to this island to find him for several years now. This is just the accumulation of it.”
“He built a perception interference machine underground to hide his identity and, at the same time, lied that it was a weapon against MUL-01 to judge Yibu’s position. This is what we were just talking about.”
Ruan Xian wiped his blood gun.
“Professor Ruan has investigated you all and knows that you’re all humans, but I’m the only one with unknown origins and had suspicious behavior, so according to my calculations, he was going to kill me, show it to Yibu, and bring my body back for research.”
“I needed to go to Yibu’s side, but I wasn’t sure if he would let you witness that scene. The note I wrote was just in case. Since you and I don’t know, and I was afraid Miss Ji wouldn’t rush out to help me.”
“…Listening to this statement, even you aren’t human?” Yu Le sighed.
“Tentatively, I can be considered one, but strictly speaking, I may not count as one. Don’t put too much thought into it. If you really can’t get over it, you can treat me like I’m the zombie of the real Ruan Xian.”
Ruan Xian put away the blood gun. “The next step is the main point—to make sure that Yibu is still around, and if Yibu wasn’t keen on cooperating, our Professor Ruan exposed his presence to the Mainbrain. Well, this is the result.”
In any case, Yu Le, as a former big-shot ruins pirate, should be able to figure out what Professor Ruan was up to.
Now, they had to cooperate even if they didn’t want to. Tang Yibu’s identity predestined him not to be emotional and would only choose the plan that was most beneficial for him.
“You didn’t escape?” Yu Le murmured.
“A step slower. I didn’t expect this one to also be so crazy.” Ruan Xian shrugged.
Yu Le rolled his eyes and decided not to pursue the meaning of the word “also”.
With the identities of the two determined, it stood to reason that Ji Xiaoman, who should be the most excited, was still depressed. The petite girl curled up in the back seat, looking like she didn’t want to talk to Professor Ruan.
“What’s next?” Yu Le glanced at Ji Xiaoman through the rearview mirror and quickly retracted his gaze.
“Get rid of the chasing soldiers, it depends on the situation next.” Ruan Xian looked out the window at Tang Yibu again—the enemy hadn’t attacked yet, but Tang Yibu was stubbornly hanging on the side of the car, and even began to happily play with those illusions.
As they were talking, the android was stretching out an arm, happily letting his palm brush through the colorful clouds of road signs; his mood looked very high.
Isn’t he worried?
For the first time, Ruan Xian experienced being worried to the point of irritability. The recent emotion of suffering from gains and losses was driving him insane—if they were lucky, Tang Yibu wouldn’t expose too much strength in front of the Order Supervisors, and they could still hide incognito.But if Tang Yibu exposed their combat power, they would have to cooperate with Professor Ruan to make the first move and terminate the Mainbrain.
The latter represented the mortality rate that Tang Yibu had to suffer. Furthermore, Professor Ruan had already led them to this step, so his plan should be airtight.
This thought made Ruan Xian suffocate. Looking at Tang Yibu, who had a carefree expression on his face, he felt a sense of suffocation that his heart was on the verge of exploding.
The care had now turned into concern, but “concern” was undoubtedly a strange and painful emotion, which Ruan Xian didn’t like very much.
It stood to reason that if he wanted to protect himself, he should find a way to get rid of that deadline earring as soon as possible and stay away from Tang Yibu. However, even though it was clear that this was the most reasonable approach, Ruan Xian firmly threw it to the back of his mind. He could no longer handle that love with ease. It was mixed with desire, regret, and possessiveness, and grew into a monster with a huge mouth, which in turn was swallowing him little by little.
Not to mention getting rid of it, now he couldn’t even prevent it from continuing to grow. Ruan Xian could only try his best to keep the two of them alive together.
This feeling that wasn’t in his control was simply awful.
“Father.” As if perceiving Ruan Xian’s gaze, Tang Yibu grabbed a handful of light blue clouds and threw them into Ruan Xian’s arms. “The toughness of this thing is quite realistic.”
“…You can go in.”
“I have to keep a good eye on the two on the roof of the car.” Tang Yibu smiled like a fox who stole chicken. “And looking at this formation, I guess…”
Before he finished speaking, a “be careful” escaped from Ruan Xian’s mouth.
Yu Le’s rampage let them quickly reach the edge of the dead wall. The colorful illusion became thin, and the image of the car was exposed to the sky that was filled with aircraft. Missiles bombarded from the sky.
Tang Yibu squeezed his eyes at Ruan Xian, exerted his arms, and briefly rose into the air. He caught a homing missile with one hand and tossed it towards the dead wall that wasn’t far away.
A huge burst of wind made those colorful illusions tremble, yet the dead wall didn’t even shake. Yu Le jerked the steering wheel and maneuvered the car so it wouldn’t suffer the blow head-on. The violent shaking of the car awakened the iron bead, who whizzed into Ji Xiaoman’s arms, quaking pitifully. It tried to take a bite of one of the feet of the three-legged machine during the chaos, but Professor Ruan simply pulled his foot away as if he had predicted it.
Ji Xiaoman petted its shell, but her posture wasn’t very stable, and her mood was still extremely low.
Seeing that the missile couldn’t blow up the dead wall, Tang Yibu glanced at the explosion, clicked his tongue in disgust, and threw another homing missile back at them.
Their power was too small. It was obvious they weren’t used for attack. Most likely, the Mainbrain wanted to use the explosion to locate their specific location. Ruan Xian frowned and just wanted to remind Tang Yibu…
Tang Yibu stretched out his hand, grabbed Ruan Xian’s front lapel, and pulled him neatly out the window.
“Hold my waist tight.” Those golden eyes gleamed so close at hand. Tang Yibu kissed the corner of Ruan Xian’s forehead, causing warm breath to brush against the skin of his neck.
In order to avoid the continuous bombardment, the car was still traveling at a high speed. The brown ground quickly blurred in front of them, becoming afterimages. Ruan Xian subconsciously put his arms around Tang Yibu’s waist as the latter stepped on the door handle and leaped directly onto the roof of the car.
Xiao Zhao was still unconscious while Kang Ge was holding her tightly in his arms. In order to ensure that the two of them wouldn’t be thrown out of the car, he squeezed his left arm into the narrow gap of the fixing rod on the roof of the car. His arm was covered in blood.
Tang Yibu’s attention was on the densely packed aircraft overhead. Those ill-intentioned armed machines were painted white, glinting coldly in the sunlight. He smiled at them as if the sky wasn’t covered with enemies but was sprinkled with flying flakes of dandelions.
“Father.” Tang Yibu turned to Ruan Xian and smiled happily like never before. “I just made a decision.”
“What?” There was a lot of wind on the roof of the car, so Ruan Xian raised his voice.
“I have to deal with MUL-01,” Tang Yibu said happily. “With Professor Ruan.”
“No, the risk on your side is really…”
“I calculated that it would indeed be higher, but I have something I want to see. Besides, it’s still quite a good deal to work together if you take these conditions into account.” Tang Yibu stretched out his hand and poked Ruan Xian’s face.
“If you have any ideas, we can discuss them. Yibu, listen. No matter what you want to see—” Ruan Xian took a deep breath and didn’t remove Tang Yibu’s hand as he tried to patiently play the role of “gentle Professor Ruan” but unfortunately failed.
“For example, I want to see your expression now,” Tang Yibu responded happily. “And I want to see more.””
“Father, in addition to your subject, I have now found more interesting questions. Until I can answer them, data can only be collected from such practices—”
Tang Yibu jumped up.
Ruan Xian had never seen him jump to that height.
Tang Yibu jumped directly onto the aircraft closest to them, tearing the metal-covered weapon in half like bread. Then he took advantage of the explosive air flow and jumped to another larger aircraft. This time he didn’t simply tear it apart but broke off the flying wings of its tail and threw their fragments at other aircraft rushing around.
The guns and lasers changed their direction and shot at Tang Yibu all at once, but the android was like a cat preying on birds or a fish swimming in the current. He jumped between aircraft, and every jump was accompanied by several explosions.
Most of the attacks missed his body, and occasionally some came close to hitting, but he swapped them away with his back hand and turned them in another direction.
There was no panic in the movements of the android; rather, it could be said to be graceful. Lined with lively illusions on the ground, the exploding aircraft were like strange fireworks in the blue sky.
And his NUL-00 danced in the smoke that burst out.
Although Tang Yibu seemed to have the advantage, Ruan Xian’s heartbeat still didn’t return to its normal frequency…
This wasn’t going to work. Ruan Xian gritted his teeth. More and larger aircraft were coming, and they were facing a complete outpost. This was just a test, and they were being observed. The Order Supervisors didn’t immediately flatten the island, which meant the current situation was still completely “under control” for the Mainbrain.
It’s impossible for Tang Yibu to not be aware of this. Ruan Xian thought that this was a complete provocation.
…It wasn’t that he was forced to make a move. The android wanted to show his strength.
The author has something to say:
Tang: Happy, very happy.jpg
Ruan: Old father is angry.
The two of you are about to start understanding the essence of love (?