Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 185: Useless Body
Ruan Xian started to concentrate. There wasn’t a woman outside the window, but he could still hear and smell her.
He smelled the familiar smell of soaking liquid; a bit pungent with a trace of industrial sweetness. When he obtained the S-type Prototype in the ruins of the research institute, he was splashed by this liquid.
Then there was the faint smell of human body odor.
Ruan Xian remembered his mother’s smell, but at that time, his sense of smell could only be said to be ordinary. The smell he smelled currently was very similar to what he remembered, but it was also a little different. He wasn’t sure.
The woman’s footsteps were light and steady. He didn’t really know if she had noticed Ruan Xian’s gaze, and she was left far behind by the car now.
A thin layer of sweat appeared on Ruan Xian’s back. Just after leaving the nightmarish island, he still couldn’t trust his perception.
After leaving the scope of influence of the island, all their missing memories were returned, though there wasn’t any significant information in them. At most, just one or two images that allowed them to make a preliminary understanding of the island. Even so, in order to take the lead, Professor Ruan temporarily blocked those memory information.
Although smell could prove that the person they saw did exist, the vision could be distorted, and conclusions couldn’t be drawn prematurely.
He had one more question to ask later.
Tang Yibu melancholy confirmed the geographical situation and route and carefully tampered with the weakest parts of the security protocol. After repeatedly confirming it wasn’t a trap, Yu Le drove the car in the direction of the funeral home.
“This is it.” The destination was getting closer. Zhong Qing patted the back of the chair casually. “See that dimly lit building? See it? That’s where… Where I live.”
Looking at the shape of his mouth, it seemed he was about to say “my home”, and halfway through, he inhaled and swallowed the words back into his stomach.
“This time of day is the least crowded.” Zhong Qing steadied his emotions. “They have finished dealing with the basement and the first floor. I usually hide on the first floor.”
“What about food?” Professor Ruan asked.
“There are many vending machines and self-service shops on the street.” Zhong Qing scratched his head. He looked a little embarrassed. “Look, I’m not dead. Just take a bit and make sure it’s within the daily margin of error. No one will find me…”
“You mean stealing things while sticking to an acceptable loss ratio.” Tang Yibu concluded.
“Why are you putting it so badly!” Zhong Qing yelled.
“No one noticed you?” Seeing Zhong Qing’s face flushed and was about to provoke Tang Yibu again, before Professor Ruan could speak, Ruan Xian quickly pulled the topic back.
“No.” The child’s expression changed extremely fast. Zhong Qing’s anger just now had disappeared without a trace, replaced by sarcasm. “The Mainbrain helps everyone calculate their daily itinerary and priorities. You don’t focus on observing a few people or a few cars passing by on the street, do you?”
“Criminal tendencies and unexpected factors in this shithole of a city will be calculated, and ordinary pathogenic genes will also be found in advance. Whether it’s an accident or an illness, regular citizens don’t need to worry about anything. Unless they are as unlucky as I am and have a rare disease that has not been thoroughly studied… Anyway, everyone is too lazy to care about other people’s affairs. As long as I don’t particularly engage in eye-catching behavior, it’s no different from not existing.”
As he spoke, he squeezed the empty water bottle.
“I’ve been walking on the street for a long time. If I don’t take off my glasses, no one will look at me,” he added in a low voice.
Meanwhile, Yu Le, under the command of Tang Yibu, parked the car in a corner of the empty warehouse and covered it with a cloth. Everyone jumped out of the car and began to check whether the surrounding environment was suitable for a long stay.
After jumping out of the car, Zhong Qing took a deep breath and showed a relieved expression. “Oh my god, I’m finally liberated.”
“Me, the little profiteer, and Xiao Ruan are in a group. Xiao… Tang Yibu, you and Professor Ruan will take that kid with you. We’ll explore separately.” Yu Le rolled his eyes at Zhong Qing, who was taking deep breaths.
“No.” Before Yu Le’s voice had fallen, Tang Yibu bluntly refused. “I want to be in the same group as Mr. Ruan.”
Yu Le narrowed his eyes. The iron bead jumped to Tang Yibu’s side, barking in confusion.
“You don’t need to guard against me here.” Tang Yibu opened the door. “To be honest, even if you hold Mr. Ruan hostage, I can kill you before you react. On the other hand, I can guess a little bit of the Mainbrain’s thoughts… This city is highly controlled and sensitive to dead bodies. The degree of sensitivity is quite high. Killing you here to silence you will only expose my whereabouts in advance.”
Then the android glanced at Ruan Xian meaningfully.
Ruan Xian could guess what Tang Yibu didn’t say—Ji Xiaoman and Yu Le didn’t know about the S-type Prototype yet. Keeping them away from the truth would make things a lot easier.
Yu Le looked at Professor Ruan, who was standing mechanically behind Zhong Qing on his three feet. He nodded untraceably, indicating that what Tang Yibu said was reasonable.
“Fine. This dead kid goes with us. You also happen to have shit that needs solving.” Yu Le grabbed Zhong Qing’s T-shirt and pulled him to his side unceremoniously.
Zhong Qing bit Yu Le’s hand with a grin, then ran to Ji Xiaoman’s side very quickly, so that Ji Xiaoman, who was similar in size, could block him. Finally, he grimaced at Yu Le.
Ji Xiaoman stood awkwardly in place. She secretly glanced at Professor Ruan’s three-legged little machine and straightened her back like a conditioned reflex.
“Considering the issue of combat power, we’ll check the basement and you guys check upwards. How about that?” Yu Le put a few guns to his waist and touched the stubble on his chin. “We’ll meet here in three hours. Communication is exempted since there’s plenty of surveillance here. Well, see you in front of the car in three hours.”
“Okay.” Tang Yibu nodded. The iron bead leaned against Tang Yibu’s feet again to show its position.
Although Ji Xiaoman was still a bit resistant to Zhong Qing, Zhong Qing especially liked to pester the more harmless looking one. Yu Le glanced at Zhong Qing, who was trying to get close to her and bared his teeth in an unfriendly manner.
The basement was indeed relatively safe. However, just in case, Ji Xiaoman activated her own light screen to capture abnormal signals.
“Sister is awesome.” Zhong Qing started his sweet talk. “I have never understood this kind of parsing method…”
“I don’t understand it either. It’s good not to understand.” Yu Le pulled Zhong Qing away like swatting a fly. “Lead the way.”
“I said it’s safe, but you don’t believe me. Do people get more suspicious when they get older? Or is just you uncle—”
“If you underestimate the Mainbrain, you will suffer.” Yu Le didn’t want to really compete with a child and barely maintained his emotional stability.
“…I can’t lose much anymore.” Zhong Qing lowered his voice. “If you didn’t come, I don’t think I’ll live long. It’s good that I can eat and drink, but medicine and medical management here are strict… If I get sick again, I’ll only have to wait for death. Compared to worrying about it every day, it might be easier to get executed.”
Yu Le scanned the empty basement with a cold light and didn’t respond.
The basement of the funeral home was very large, but most of the equipment had already been removed. A small part was covered with dust cloth, and corpses were piled up in the corner. The indoor temperature was low, so there weren’t any mosquitoes. If one didn’t consider comfort, this was indeed a suitable place.
“Your family…” Ji Xiaoman tried to break the silence, but as soon as she spoke, she noticed that the topic was inappropriate, and she stopped abruptly.
“It’s okay. Pretty sister can ask whatever you want.” Zhong Qing sounded very cheerful. “I’ve been there and seen it quite a few times. Citizen ‘Zhong Qing’ is healthy and the Mainbrain has arranged suitable friends for him. They… They’re all doing well.”
“I understand that feeling,” Ji Xiaoman whispered. Tiantian-Q2’s face flashed in her mind. “Being related doesn’t necessarily mean they really care about ‘you’. That kind of…”
“I don’t know.” Zhong Qing seemed to be unable to pretend any longer. The cheerfulness in his tone had faded a bit. “Sister, you must know that a lot of cells in the human body die every day. Given enough time, the vast majority of cells in the human body will be completely replaced. You are still you though, right?”
“Compared with this situation, citizen Zhong Qing is me and the child of my parents.”
Zhong Qing kicked the ground, even if there was nothing on it.
“If it weren’t for the fact that they still want to observe the development of this disease, on the day Zhong Qing recovers, I should’ve been disposed of and not woken up.”
“You can accept it?”
“Not really.” Zhong Qing grinned and took a few steps forward. “But 99.99% of people agree, so who am I going to talk to? Anyway, I’m just a special case. Most people will never encounter my situation in their lifetime. ‘I’ am still by my parents’ side, and they’re doing well—I can only think like so, and I think my parents are the same.”
Otherwise, no one could accept reality.
“…Wait.” Zhong Qing suddenly took a complicated breath. He grabbed the belt behind Lao Yu’s waist and pulled it. “The layout over there is different from before.”
“Can you see what’s over there?” The light hadn’t shown there yet as Yu Le raised his brows.
“Yes, but don’t expect me to describe it. The things I see with my eyes are too different.” Zhong Qing emphasized. “I can only tell you that they look different.”
“Why is it different?”
“…There are a few missing corpses.” Zhong Qing frowned. “Strange.”
The atmosphere on the other side was oddly harmonious, but to the point of politeness that seemed like a business meeting.
There were still a lot of things left on the second floor of the funeral home, but Ruan Xian couldn’t recognize most of the machines. The bodies of many creatures and humans floated in liquid tanks, blurred by the darkness into shadows that one couldn’t see the outline clearly.
Professor Ruan ran in front of π. It may be that the environment was too unfamiliar, as π no longer tried to bite Professor Ruan’s three-legged machine but followed Tang Yibu nervously.
“…What happened to the “Immortality Program” that kid was talking about?” Ruan Xian stood on Tang Yibu’s right as his left hand was clenched tightly by the android.
“An experimental project implemented not long before the Great Rebellion.” Professor Ruan turned the mechanical slot that was holding the brain. “In the past, in order to solve difficult and incurable diseases or pursue eternal life, people would freeze their bodies or brains. Plan Corp went one step further and proposed a rejuvenation service.”
“That project was originally used to compete with the Institute’s α-092. At that time, the attitude of the Institute was to repair the damage, while Plan Corp’s was to directly replace the affected area.” Tang Yibu continued. “It began its coordination by Kang Ziyan. Later, Kang Ziyan committed suicide because of the death of his wife, and the project started to develop in other directions.”
“Human aging can cause total body failure, and it can’t last long by replacing healthy organs. Plan Corp simply provided an entire body replacement service—using genetic technology to create a young and healthy body, with pathogenic genes removed, and then transplanting the brain into it.”
When he was tormented by illness and pain, Ruan Xian himself had considered a similar plan. However, his situation was really special—his illness affected the brain, making it extremely fragile and unable to withstand this level of migration.
As if seeing Ruan Xian’s thoughts, Tang Yibu continued, “However, there were also many people with special brain conditions or lesions in their brain. Later, they… promoted the project as a brain-to-brain transfer of ‘personality and memory’.”
“Plan Corp’s androids had personality data applied to them, and their technology in this area was quite mature,” Professor Ruan added unsavorily.
Ruan Xian didn’t need further explanation. He knew what that meant—as in Zhong Qing’s case, people copy a completely healthy body and then “transfer” their memories and thoughts into it.
But was the transfer really just a transfer?
In terms of neural data, this kind of transfer was closer to the result of the two actions of copying and deleting. In other words…
“Did this Immortality Project have any accidents before the Great Rebellion?” Ruan Xian changed his perspective.
“Yes. It was only open to a few volunteers in the early days, but all the volunteers rated it extremely high… Half a year before the rebellion, before this project was about to be put on the market, there was an accident.”
Professor Ruan obviously knew the details of this matter better than Tang Yibu. Tang Yibu closed his mouth a little angrily and held Ruan Xian’s hand tighter. Ruan Xian held back his wince from the pain without saying a word.
“The volunteer at that time was an elderly man who had cancer that was spreading, and his body was experiencing organ failure. His new body was adjusted to be 30 years old, and the relevant pathogenic genes were repaired. Things were still normal here—Plan Corp had transferred the memory and the volunteer who had ‘gained a new life’ and was in good spirits. According to regulations at the time, in order to ensure that the old body wasn’t used in other ways, the body would be frozen and shredded for disposal in the presence of volunteers and at least one guarantor.”
“But when it was destroyed, the body that should have been unconscious woke up. He hadn’t regained his senses yet, but just asked in a daze, ‘Is it over, doctor?’…That’s what the ‘body’ asked at the time.”
Professor Ruan spoke slowly, but there was no emotion in his voice.
“Then what?” Although Ruan Xian already had a general guess about the development of things, he still asked.
“Transfer” was just the most acceptable propaganda word. Copying the mind and then eliminating it was tantamount to replacing your pants after farting; the eliminated body would need to be disposed of. Plan Corp wouldn’t waste funds in that kind of area.
“The project was just about to be put on the market, so surely this kind of PR crisis wouldn’t come out. This incident was interpreted as the impact of leftover data. The volunteer was resistant to the anesthetic, and the old body retained a little fragment of data. The volunteer ‘himself’ and his family were happy to accept this explanation, and public opinion didn’t arouse much enthusiasm.”
The helplessness in Professor Ruan’s tone became heavier.
“In the later stage, there were also doubts similar to ‘slight changes in personality after replacing the body’, but most companies interpreted them as mental changes caused by changes in health. In fact, it was just that the technology wasn’t in place at the time that the entire brain data collection couldn’t be done… If the current Mainbrain could collect 95% of information without crushing it, at the time, Plan Corp could recover at best, less than 80%.”
Tang Yibu’s expression became a little weird for a moment. It looked like longing mixed with a little contempt.
Ruan Xian retracted his gaze. “…I understand. Thank you.”
This topic made the atmosphere between him and Professor Ruan a little stiff.
In a sense, he wasn’t much different from the abandoned original body. Ruan Xian didn’t believe how much of his own memory Fan Linsong could get, let alone the degree of restoration. Professor Ruan’s memories were most likely 100% artificial.
As the awkwardness in the air became colder and thicker, Ruan Xian spoke again. “I don’t feel danger on this floor, Professor Ruan. I want to talk to Yibu alone. Let’s separate for a while.”
He glanced at Tang Yibu again. This topic obviously made Tang Yibu’s face cramp inexplicably—the android twisted his face as if he had eaten an extremely sour candy and was suffering from some kind of toothache.
“Alright.” The little three-legged machine let out a series of low chuckles. “I’ll take care of π for you and give you thirty minutes.”
Tang Yibu, who had been surrounded by melancholy since the beginning, had not yet recovered. Ruan Xian tugged on his wrist and left the corridor, entering a small empty room. He didn’t struggle and was dragged away obediently by Ruan Xian.
The room was cleaned up and empty. There was a huge ornamental fish tank in the corner that only had gray pebbles left in it.
Tang Yibu stood against the wall, emitting a melancholy aura that almost dyed the air gray.
“It’s right to separate from Yu Le and the others. At least Professor Ruan doesn’t think we are plotting to kill them.” Ruan Xian closed the door smoothly. “Speak.”
“What?” Tang Yibu rubbed Ruan Xian’s red wrist. His expression returned to its harmless pattern.
“As your maker, I have a responsibility to guide you.” Ruan Xian cleared his throat. He suddenly felt it was a little dry. “As your… Well, partner, I also want to know what you think.”
Tang Yibu slowly put away his harmless smile.
Ruan Xian closed his eyes and took a few long breaths. He gently took Tang Yibu’s hand and slowly put it on his neck.
“I have never felt such a strong killing intent in you before… Killing intent for me.”
Under Ruan Xian’s guidance, Tang Yibu’s palm virtually covered his neck.
“And there are obvious signs of overload in your emotions. I have seen it once before. I recognize it.” Ruan Xian narrowed his eyes.
Very strangely, this dangerous action made him feel the other’s body temperature again.
“…This time, I’m not going to play the good father role with you—Yibu, I’m curious. Why don’t you do it?”
The author has something to say:
The abandoned iron bead: ……
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