Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 179: A New Destination
These eight minutes felt as long as eight years.
Yu Le dealt with many enemies in the Sea of Ruins. There were ruin pirates who tried to steal resources and came to his territory to spread the flickering grass, and there were also strange-looking mechanical creatures. The heart of the Sea of Ruins was home to many aliens, and its darkest corners were as unpredictable as the bottom of a trench. His subordinates had fished out many strange things. Yu Le thought he was courageous as he hadn’t been scared once.
However, facing the rushing Z-β, his legs went numb.
Originally, this heavy armored off-roader was driven like an arrow that flew off the string. After Yu Le further accelerated, it almost took off in place. Z-β rushed forward without mercy and fired several shells towards the car.
“Don’t dodge,” Professor Ruan said. “Drive as you should.”
“Easy for you to say.” Yu Le took a deep breath. The bright colors blurred around him, making him feel a little nauseous. The car Tu Rui gave wasn’t bad. Even if he drove it to death like this, there wasn’t a problem for the time being.
Yu Le’s hands trembled a little, but he managed to stabilize his movements with great difficulty. He stared at the card-sized phone screen to find the most suitable route.
Amazingly, despite the two cannons fired by Z-β, the shells didn’t hit the car, but instead hit the ground close to the vehicle. The blast of its impact shook the car, but it still maintained its balance.
Sitting in the front passenger seat, Ji Xiaoman wrapped her wound with a bandage, opened the car door directly, and prepared to pull her companions back.
Professor Ruan’s three-legged robot was surrounded by a light screen with light blue text flashing quickly on it. The iron bead smelled tension in the air and stuck under the seat, not daring to come out in this atmosphere.
“Perceptual interference?” Yu Le wished he could grow an extra pair of eyes; one to look at the road while the other stared at Z-β. He had never been this nervous before, even when he was facing “disinfection” from the Order Supervisors. The clothes behind Captain Yu’s back were soaked in sweat. His eyebrows reflected the light of the sweat, and his breathing was fast and short.
Though the quality of the car was good, in the end, it couldn’t compare to the pristine soldiers under the Mainbrain. Z-β was getting closer to them. When he was about less than an arm’s length away from the car, Yu Le felt his heart was about to pop out of his throat.
“It’s perceptual interference. Hold on for a bit.” Professor Ruan’s words were concise, and his voice was solemn.
Ruan Xian was the first to get into the car. He wasn’t small, so the front seat suddenly became a bit crowded. Ji Xiaoman dexterously maneuvered over the back of the chair and sat in the relatively spacious back seat. After sitting still, she looked at Professor Ruan, who was up to something as he looked at the light screen unblinkingly.
The car door was still open. Ruan Xian hugged Tang Yibu’s waist and helped the other party stabilize his center of gravity. The android held back and curled his long legs, while the upper half of his body was still exposed outside the car.
“Time?” Ruan Xian threw a question directly towards the back seat.
“Twenty-five seconds,” Professor Ruan replied.
There was an odd pause in Z-β’s movements, as if it had received new instructions. Countless drones gathered towards Z-α, which had become a mass of rotten flesh. Z-β’s attacks had become relatively conservative. Tang Yibu struggled to pull out a small rocket launcher from the compartment, trying to blast Z-β away while also blowing up the drones that were closing in on Z-α’s corpse.
[Ten seconds.] Ruan Xian quietly cooperated with Tang Yibu’s movements and reported the time through his earring.
“Close the door, now!” With about three seconds left, Professor Ruan shouted sharply.
Ruan Xian pulled Tang Yibu back into his arms and squished into the front passenger seat space as if two peanuts were born in the same shell. Tang Yibu shrank his head hard and the door was smoothly closed.
“You want to do…” Yu Le asked vigilantly, but before he could finish, the car flew into the sky under the shockwave of a huge explosion.
Yu Le thought in a daze that it was completely different from the time they tried to enter the Underground United City. It was as if a nuclear bomb had exploded right under the car.
There was a light orange glow around the car, like a translucent multi-faceted shell. It rushed straight into the sky very smoothly, and then fell into a parabolic fall—the aircraft that the Mainbrain was on didn’t escape this disaster. The ones closer to the explosion were directly turned into ashes, while the others that were far away were blown into the sea. From a distance, it looked like feathers scattered on the water.
Yu Le’s car spun in the sky for what seemed like weeks and finally plunged into a bush outside the dead wall. The wheels fell into the sand, and the sea was right in front of him.
“This car is equipped with a water travel mode. Now, follow my instructions.”
“Are you kidding? This is not a fucking tree target—”
“Perceptual camouflage. It can last for about two hours, so the Mainbrain won’t find us during this period. We must leave the island and reach the ground within this time limit.” Professor Ruan spoke extremely fast. “Go straight from here. It’ll take about one hour and forty-seven minutes to reach the nearest dry land.”
“This is not the closest way,” Ruan Xian interjected while still entangled with Tang Yibu. Although he could guess the answer somewhat, he still didn’t like the feeling that all arrangements were controlled by another person.
“The Mainbrain will set up the heaviest defense on the shore closest to the island, so we shouldn’t take risks,” Professor Ruan replied.
The light screens had wrapped around Professor Ruan like a cocoon. The entire island was shaking, and the huge rumble made people’s chests tighten. The smoke from the explosion continued to spray from the center of the island. Gray-black columns of smoke pierced the sky. Ruan Xian heard the sound of the sea pouring in—the explosion just now probably completely destroyed the underground base Professor Ruan built while also blowing everything in the center of the island to smithereens.
The protective shield was removed after they landed, so smoke from the explosives surrounded them. With just this bit of smoke, it left a few deep corrosive marks on the surface of the car, signifying just how powerful the explosion was.
Professor Ruan didn’t leave a grain of sand for the Mainbrain. If he guessed correctly, the island had changed from an irregular near-circular shape to a ring shape. Everything in the center of the island had been completely destroyed and was swallowed up by the rushing sea.
“At least let me know the destination.” As a former leader, Yu Le was obviously unhappy to follow the arrangements of others.
“The city of the Mainbrain is my guess.” Tang Yibu nestled comfortably in Ruan Xian’s arms. Because he was a bit bigger, this behavior caused a lot of trouble for Ruan Xian, who was trying to adjust his posture. “Because we have the least reason to go that way, the defenses will be much weaker there.”
“Correct,” Professor Ruan affirmed this guess, but didn’t intend to explain further.
Ruan Xian snorted. If it were him, he would probably make the same choice. However, without Professor Ruan’s perceptual camouflage, their journey would probably be much more difficult.
Though he was holding back the fire in his heart, he wouldn’t be impulsive enough to exchange the survival rate of this group of people—especially his and Tang Yibu’s—just for a moment of satisfaction.
Ruan Xian opened the car door and fell into the sand with Tang Yibu.
“This is not over yet. Give us a few minutes.” Ruan Xian stood up from the sand, while Tang Yibu squatted in the sand with his injuries, groaning in pain.
Despite the android’s scattered appearance, he had no intention of healing his injuries at this moment. In order to mislead Professor Ruan about who actually possessed the S-type Prototype, Ruan Xian specially gave Tang Yibu a few vials of blood just in case.
But just now in the car, although Tang Yibu was hissing in pain, he didn’t have the slightest intention of wanting treatment.
He knew it wasn’t over yet—the protective shield and perceptual camouflage were probably unable to activate at the same time, so Tang Yibu thought it was possible that there would be pursuers.
Sure enough, just when Yu Le asked about the destination, he heard an unnatural sound behind the car.
Z-β followed them.
He had to admit that the quality of the soldiers under the Mainbrain was passable. The explosion had corroded Z-β’s exoskeleton. He was covered in blood, his flesh hung loose on the bones, and a small pile of internal organs trailed outside his body. The honeycomb camera on that thing’s face kept flashing electric sparks, and the many additional machines on his scalp had fallen off, leaving a few bloody holes; even a little bit of pink brain tissue could be seen.
“If it’s a D-type Prototype, it’s estimated it won’t likely fall to this point.” Tang Yibu stopped groaning. He patted the sand on his body and tightened his muscles again. “Come. Let’s wrap it up—time is limited.”
Z-β had no facial features, but there was a muffled rumble that emanated from his throat that was uncomfortable to hear.
He rushed at them, as if he didn’t feel pain, while holding a deformed piece of metal tightly in his hand. Ruan Xian didn’t use his blood gun this time. He cautiously used the gun in Yu Le’s car and shot at the internal organs that were trailing outside the thing. Tang Yibu’s approach was more straightforward—the android rushed over and tried to snap off the corroded neck.
However, a shot came from another direction.
Z-β didn’t follow the route they imagined. He didn’t attack Tang Yibu or Ruan Xian, who were the important targets. The perception system of that thing most likely had failed as it chose the best target to deal with.
He rushed towards the source of where that last shot came from.
Xiao Zhao had woken up at some point and was half-kneeling on the roof of the car. She was shooting wildly at Z-β with her gun while humming a nursery rhyme intermittently. In order to cover her, Kang Ge was affected by the explosion just now. He was lying on the roof of the car dying, panting hard, as he was covered in blood.
“Don’t shoot,” he said hazily, pulling Xiao Zhao’s sleeve with his hand. “They will take care of it. Don’t shoot… Don’t shoot… Zhaozhao, we’re leaving here.”
His eyes were flushed, and tears kept rolling down his face.
“Zhaozhao, do you hear me? We can leave now.”
Xiao Zhao turned her head and showed him a twisted and sweet smile.
“Isn’t this our home?” she said. “I don’t want to go.””
“Listen, I lied to you. I lied to you!” Kang Ge roared in despair. “I should have told you a long time ago. This is all my fault… Please, don’t fight. Let them deal with it—”
Unfortunately, his strength and spirit weren’t as good as Xiao Zhao’s. His hand was stuck to the railing of the car roof, and he couldn’t move. Xiao Zhao jumped out of the car. She had lost her shoes somewhere along the way. She just stood barefoot in the sea like that. The blue waves rolled over her pale feet, giving people the illusion of warmth.
“I don’t want to go,” she repeated happily while she kept attacking. “Xiao Tang and the others can leave if they want, but I want to stay here.”
Tang Yibu choked Z-β from behind. It seemed that the high-grade D-type products were stronger than imagined—even if there was a person hanging on his body, his neck was broken with a click, and his internal organs were smashed to pieces, he still walked firmly towards Xiao Zhao.
Kang Ge desperately pulled his hand that was deformed by the railing off and tried to climb down from the roof of the car.
“Su Zhao and Kang Ziyan are dead long ago. We’re not… We’re not the original us.”
He stumbled and fell into the sand as he yelled incoherently.
“I should have told you a long time ago that Su Zhao and Kang Ziyan stored their data when they were alive. In theory, our thinking… Our thinking is at most 70-80% consistent with theirs. We are who we are. We’re not that different from the others in the show. We can live on our own. We originally had an advantage…”
Those memories that had been perfused were data that had been entered. Instead of bringing back the real Su Zhao and Kang Ziyan from the dead, they became a curse that trapped them. If they had made this all clear earlier, perhaps they could have abandoned their anachronistic morality earlier and lived better…
Kang Ge dug into the sand, dyeing the milky white sand dark red.
In the end it was all despair, and a quick knife might’ve been better than a dull one. Unfortunately, there were no “ifs” in the world.
“…Come with me. Please, Zhaozhao.” He could only plead with his crazy wife over and over again until his voice became hoarse.
“I already knew it was fake.” Xiao Zhao hummed. “Otherwise, it can’t be explained. I was obviously pregnant and wanted to give you a surprise, but it turned out that my body data was normal after waking up with you and there was nothing there… Kang Ge, haven’t I been asking all this time? What went wrong? Where can we go now?”
She smiled more brightly.
“This is our home.”
Kang Ge shivered.
He stopped pleading or even talking but stood up staggeringly. He stood between Z-β and Xiao Zhao and opened his arms weakly but firmly.
Z-β attacked him decisively. The thing that was only bones left easily tore Kang Ge apart, as if he was ripping a rotting ragdoll in half.
Tang Yibu was still committed to breaking its neck and his movements didn’t stop. Ruan Xian attacked all the places that could be attacked until he emptied all his bullets. He started changing the magazine while a few dozen steps away.
“I’m sorry, Xiao Tang,” Kang Ge whispered.
He fell to the ground and stopped talking. He looked at Xiao Zhao, who was treading in the sea—the latter was humming while dancing in the water, continuing to shoot around her, as if unaware of his departure.
After being stopped by Kang Ge for a few seconds, Z-β failed to get to Xiao Zhao. He finally stopped his movements as Tang Yibu broke his neck and fell smoothly to the ground.
“Get in the car and go.” Seeing that the hidden danger had been removed, Ruan Xian urged Tang Yibu.
Tang Yibu didn’t move. He looked with interest at the young couple. Kang Ziyan’s replicant showed extremely weak signs of life and could die at any moment. Su Zhao took her gun and approached briskly, then lay down beside the dying Kang Ge.
The figures of the two children gradually appeared again in the air.
They stood arm in arm beside Su Zhao, wearing the shabby clothes they were familiar with. It was just that this time, the young Kang Ziyan’s face was unclear, and it looked like a cloud of smoke.
“The sun is so nice.” The adult Su Zhao said to her husband’s face and kissed him on the forehead.
“I’m sorry.” Kang Ge moved his lips but couldn’t make a sound. “I’m sorry.”
“It reminds me of my favorite memory,” Su Zhao said with a smile. “Didn’t you always ask before? I didn’t want to tell you, but now I suddenly want to talk about it.”
“You always guess the day we first met, the day of our first date, the day you proposed… You’re really a narcissist.”
Kang Ge looked at her quietly. His face was pale and breathless.
“My favorite memory is very similar to the present… I woke up early and you were still sleeping. It was a bit cloudy, so I opened the refrigerator to get some water. I found that the fruit in the refrigerator was rotten, so I thought about how we would throw it away later. After I drank the water, I looked at you, who was still sleeping.” Su Zhao stretched out. “I can’t say, but I just remember it very clearly.””
“Are you going to sleep?” She said happily. “Yes, the sun is quite nice. When you wake up, let’s grab a car together.”
After confirming that Kang Ziyan had lost signs of life, Tang Yibu turned his head and returned to the car with Ruan Xian.
The car was quiet for a while.
The young couple lay face-to-face in the blood-stained sand, with two blurry children watching them.
“…Let’s go,” Yu Le said in a muffled voice, starting the car. The auxiliary buoyancy machine stretched out from above the tires of the off-roader, and then slapped the sea quickly.
The thick smoke in the center of the island hadn’t dissipated. The figures of the two people quickly disappeared from their vision.
Didn’t anyone ever tell Kang Ziyan, don’t stick your dick in crazy? What kind of kitty cat does Su Zhao have that he be dying for it?
Anyway, the arc is over. Summary below.
After leaving the Glass Conservatory, the group headed towards the Android Show based on the hint that Luo Fei gave them. Professor Ruan was most likely hiding there. Tang Yibu gave a breakdown of the Android Show as he was once on it and had almost died.
The Android Show utilized reality augmentation. This meant that if someone had strong mental capacity, using the tools that they were equipped with for the Android Show, they could affect the reality around them. Perception meant nothing as it could be easily swayed and affect the show.
The group learned this firsthand as they fell into a trap, not noticing that they had already reached the android show and fell into the augmented reality of the inhabitants there. Ruan Xian and Tang Yibu got separated from Yu Le and Ji Xiaoman. They stumbled across Tang Yibu’s old companions, Kang Ziyan and Su Zhao, who took them to their base. It turns out that the Android Show was set on an island, and everything was being recorded. Tang Yibu felt a sense of peeping on him that was unlike that of normal viewers, so they had to act discreetly.
It’s revealed that the peeper was actually Professor Ruan, who was observing Tang Yibu, or rather NUL-00.
Tang Yibu and Ruan Xian managed to break free from their confinement and make a deal with Kang Ziyan and Su Zhao to head towards the management area, where they suspect that Professor Ruan was hiding.
On the other side, Ji Xiaoman and Yu Le came across two children, who later were revealed to be the child versions of Kang Ziyan and Su Zhao. They were also led by these children to the management area and encountered a few run-ins. This turns out to be a test designed by Professor Ruan to test NUL-00’s companions.
The group then finally reunites and attempts to find Professor Ruan. It is then revealed that the Android Show actually had two layers of augmented realities. The first layer was the show itself, and underneath there, between the true reality, was another layer set up by Professor Ruan. He had been using this second layer to manipulate their actions and test them; first to find out more about NUL-00 companions, and second to test NUL-00 and where he stands in terms of this war between machine and humankind.
While trying to find Professor Ruan, Tang Yibu gets kidnapped and his past is revealed via projections due to reality augmentation that could display one’s memories. We learn that after Ruan Xian was murdered by Fan Linsong, Fan Linsong ordered NUL-00 to be scrapped. NUL-00, realizing this, brokered a deal with the muscle Fan Linsong hired to do his dirty work. In this way, NUL-00 was able to escape from the Institute and was sold to Plan Corp. Using the last of his energy, he hacked into a helper bot and made his way to the android processing room, where he created his human shell and inserted his cybernetic brain into… Thus creating Tang Yibu.
It was here that he starred in the first Android Show, Struggler, and suffered many abuses from Su Zhao and Kang Ziyan. He was weak at this point as he hadn’t obtained the A-type Prototype yet. When the Mainbrain went awry, everything was attacked, including the Institute. It turns out the filming of the original Android Show was right next to the Institute. Plan Corp had purchased the land as basically a face slap to them. Using the chaos created by the Mainbrain’s attack, Tang Yibu escaped from Su Zhao and Kang Ziyan and ran towards the Institute, where he was able to obtain the A-type Prototype that they were protecting.
This was all learned by everyone, as Professor Ruan had projected this past for all viewers, and mainly the Mainbrain to see. Professor Ruan proposes that they work together. He had a device that could infect the Mainbrain, like a virus, but needed Tang Yibu (NUL-00) and the human brains of people in order to power it. The chances of winning were about 90%. Tang Yibu and Ruan Xian, however, declined, as they didn’t want to risk their lives for it, but Professor Ruan forced their hand as he snitched to the Mainbrain that NUL-00 was alive and was Tang Yibu.
It was also here that Tang Yibu found out the truth that Ruan Xian was the actual Ruan Xian that he knew from the past and what had happened to him and that Professor Ruan was simply a clone that was imbued with Ruan Xian’s personality data and had memory adjustments by Fan Linsong.
Ruan Xian and Tang Yibu then spent a night together before trying to escape, only to find that the Mainbrain had made its move and was sending Order Supervisors to their location to wipe them out. Professor Ruan then revealed everything. The device in his underground lab wasn’t actually the device used to kill the Mainbrain (as that is somewhere else) but he wanted to test NUL-00 to make sure that NUL-00 wasn’t working for the Mainbrain and didn’t have the idea similar to that of the Mainbrain’s. He had to use this method of snitching in order to get Ruan Xian and Tang Yibu to agree to work with him.
The group then had a fight against the Mainbrain’s army, where Tang Yibu revealed himself to the Mainbrain, no longer wanting to hide himself. They tussled about until the entire island exploded, sending their vehicle flying into the sea. Now, they are on their way to the city where the Mainbrain resides.
Other things to note: Tang Yibu, after finding out who Ruan Xian really is, thoughts leaned towards dangerous territory as he fully wanted to possess him. They still can’t fully trust each other and still want to kill each other (well, mainly Tang Yibu). Ruan Xian, finding out the truth about NUL-00, now realizes his love for him and wants to protect him at all cost. π gets upgraded because it consumed some of Ruan Xian’s blood that had the S-type Prototype in it.
Su Zhao was Kang Ziyan’s fiancé when she suddenly died in an accident. As an executive of Plan Corp, Kang Ziyan stored all her memories and personality data and transferred them and his own data into androids to star in the Android Show then committed suicide. They are now the most popular characters of the show and had become deranged and crazy from all the iterations they have gone through. To relieve their frustration, they often abuse Tang Yibu.
However, it seemed that Kang Ziyan still maintained his sanity, as when he discovered Tang Yibu possessed the A-type Prototype, he wanted to make a deal with him to help him and Su Zhao escape.
Su Zhao, on the other hand, was haunted by their childhood images. It turns out that the two children Yu Le and Ji Xiaoman picked up were nothing more than illusions made by Su Zhao that became “reality” in the augmented universe as they had been imprinted on the inhabitants on the island, including Professor Ruan.
After the confrontation between the Mainbrain and the group, Su Zhao woke up and started acting all crazy and eventually got Kang Ziyan killed. It’s then revealed that Su Zhao had been aware of their situation the entire time, and she considered the island her home and never wanted to leave. Kang Ziyan gets killed trying to protect her, and they both lie together in the sea after the island was completely destroyed.
That’s it for the summary. There’s a lot of shit going on, so hopefully I didn’t miss anything. For more details on the reality augmentation and other things, I have left explanations in their respective chapters, so you can go to those chapters again to read more on it, or if you want to discuss can go to my Discord channel.