Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 193: Trust Issues
Tang Yibu’s reaction was faster than Professor Ruan’s—he turned upside down as if his tail was caught, and the wily expression on his face instantly turned into panic like an abandoned small animal. This android absolutely knew his own mind. Even if Ruan Xian understood Tang Yibu’s purpose, he still couldn’t help being affected by the emotions flowing out of those eyes.
Tang Yibu didn’t need to say a word. Ruan Xian’s ears were already full of shouts of “don’t go”.
Professor Ruan showed no signs of being affected at all. The black box containing his brain just continued to puff bubbles in the liquid tank. The soft clicking sound in the air of the car became a lot thicker.
Ruan Xian suddenly felt that all this was a bit funny. They were deciding on a plan in regard to human civilization, yet instead of sitting at a conference table, neatly dressed, spouting scriptures, they were nestled in the back of a beat-down car. Compared to agents discussing important matters, they were more like robbers planning a heist of a fast-food restaurant.
Professor Ruan didn’t immediately dismiss his proposal. Just like every superior who knew etiquette, he showed proper patience.
“What do you say?”
“In the Android Show, I’ve been exposed to the Mainbrain. Based on your performance on the island, its conclusion is most likely similar to yours—I’m a human being bewitched and raised by Tang Yibu to provide him with technical support.”
Ruan Xian calmly grabbed Tang Yibu’s hand.
“If Zhuo Muran associates us with what happened in the Glass Conservatory, he should be able to reach the same conclusion—the Red Ghost isn’t a subordinate of the rebel army but Yibu’s own private force.”
“Yes.” Professor Ruan affirmed Ruan Xian’s statement.
“I survived due to a series of coincidences, and you’re still alive. Even if you kept your hand and preserved the autologous tissue that created clones, you wouldn’t be stupid enough to send them to the Mainbrain doorsteps. In other words, it’s basically impossible for MUL-01, which obeys reason, to come up with the conjecture that ‘I’m Ruan Xian’.”
Tang Yibu’s fingers were a little cold, and the palms of his hands were moist. The android was really nervous.
“…Indeed,” Professor Ruan confirmed.
“Then I am the best candidate to sneak in. As long as the Mainbrain determines that the thing that killed Z-α was developed by me, it will not simply crush my brain. More than likely, it’ll leave me alive and let me work for it, with the side benefit of obtaining information about Yibu.”
“You can’t be sure,” Tang Yibu muttered.
“If it’s really closer to a machine than you, it will. It will always choose the most favorable path. Now that I have been ‘brainwashed’ by you, it means that I’m fragile and easy to manipulate. The biggest difficulty is how to convince it that we have broken our relationship… and the physical examination that it may give me when I reach it. Don’t be nervous, Yibu. I’ll leave you enough blood for you to be safe.”
Ruan Xian glanced at Professor Ruan meaningfully.
“I think you will also guarantee this.”
“This does sound more reliable than relying on a backup.” Professor Ruan pondered for a few minutes. “Unfortunately, I don’t agree with your proposal.”
“You feel touched by this city, don’t you? The Mainbrain can be very convincing, and according to your experience, you have no sense of belonging and responsibility towards mankind,” Professor Ruan continued quietly. “Submit to the Mainbrain and obtain resources. As long as you have enough in your hand, you have many ways to disguise the death of NUL-00, change it into a new shell, and then live in the city of the Mainbrain.”
“When the time comes, you’ll preemptively strike me, and my winning rate won’t even reach 20%.”
Ruan Xian wasn’t surprised. This was always the problem.
The three people inside the car—counting Professor Ruan as a person—had no trust in each other.
“I won’t deny it,” Ruan Xian replied with a smile.
“I suggest maintaining the original plan, now or never.”
“That’s quite troublesome. Yu Le is not the type who can force the child to his death. In terms of treating children, even Ji Xiaoman is softer than Yu Le. If Yibu and I don’t support you, what are you going to do, ‘auxiliary machine’?”
Professor Ruan spat out a series of bubbles and didn’t respond. Tang Yibu fell into deep thought for a moment. The pathetic little animal vibe had long been tossed to the clouds.
“Let’s do this first.” No one spoke for a long time before Professor Ruan broke the silence. “At least solve the immediate problem and determine whether Zhong Qing is on the list.”
Then he didn’t continue to stay in the car and jumped out. Seeing that the conversation couldn’t continue, Ruan Xian and Tang Yibu looked at each other—Ruan Xian was still holding Tang Yibu’s hand; he didn’t know when he had changed it to clasping them together.
“You lied to him.” Tang Yibu turned his head slightly. His long hair hung slightly down along his shoulders. There was no smile in this sentence; it wasn’t coquettish but a simple statement of facts. “I only heard one truth. You want that 3% possibility.”
He sat next to Tang Yibu, skin to skin, with their hands attached to each other and their fingers nestled tightly together. Tang Yibu’s hand were warm and powerful, and his skin was soft and smooth. Ruan Xian could perceive the pulsation from his heart deep in the skin of that hand, as if he was holding a small, warm, and docile animal, but he knew in his heart that Tang Yibu could also sense him.
Tang Yibu could be judged by his heartbeat and his expression close at hand, but it wasn’t so simple. Ruan Xian didn’t want to risk exposing his thoughts to Professor Ruan. Tang Yibu had spent more time with him, and he wanted to bet on the side that he was more familiar with.
Tang Yibu really found out, which saved him a lot of trouble.
“So what?” Ruan Xian turned his head.
The android seemed to be struggling a bit. He obviously wanted to increase his 3% chance of winning, but he didn’t really want to support Ruan Xian’s plan. What was interesting to Ruan Xian was that Tang Yibu didn’t even look once at Zhong Qing; he didn’t even consider the option of sacrificing Zhong Qing as an alternative.
“You seem to have your own plans, Mr. Ruan.”
It seemed as if he could hear Ruan Xian’s thoughts. “I don’t want to force you to make a decision. Like I said, I don’t want to hurt you. Even if I agree to sacrifice Zhong Qing, the plan can’t be carried out if you, who have the S-type Prototype, don’t agree.”
“In contrast, if Professor Ruan isn’t willing to assist, it will become quite difficult to sneak in.” Ruan Xian smiled. “After all, these are just impromptu plans that Professor Ruan came up with after we encountered Zhong Qing. We don’t need to make a decision so quickly. He’s right. It’s imperative we deal with our current problems first.”
With that said, Ruan Xian jumped out of the car himself.
Tang Yibu was still sitting in the car, his body hidden in the shadows with only his golden eyes shimmering. Tang Yibu stared at him in silence, and for a moment, Ruan Xian had the illusion that he was about to be eaten. The android seemed to see through his mind.
Perhaps Tang Yibu really noticed something, but what he noticed would not be enough to turn it into a definite problem.
The beast in the cave stared at him like that for a while, and finally got out of the car slowly, stretching his muscles. He didn’t let go of Ruan Xian’s hand and instead pulled him into his arms and gave him a bite-like kiss.
“Ruan Xian.” Tang Yibu suddenly called out in a voice so low that no one else could hear, not Mr. Ruan, not father.
Ruan Xian wiped his somewhat red and swollen lips. He tasted a little blood and the particular sweet aroma of peaches. “…What’s wrong?”
“I’m not ready to trust you,” Tang Yibu said. “But I’m not ready to leave you either.”
Ruan Xian stretched out his hand. His fingertips gently brushed the corners of Tang Yibu’s eyes.
“…Let’s go. Let’s not keep Professor Ruan waiting too long.”
He did have a plan, a plan that no one could reveal. If Professor Ruan’s plan was a fruit tree that had already taken shape, his was more like a poisonous snake that had taken the opportunity to climb on its trunk.
It was weak, clumsy, and young, but it had already decided its direction.
Ruan Xian still didn’t have much interest in restoring the “original face” of the world, and he didn’t have any hatred for the Mainbrain. Standing from an almost outsider’s perspective, he quietly wrapped around the trunk of the tree.
He didn’t care about the possible war and death coming out of Professor Ruan’s mouth. Ruan Xian was only sure of one thing—the plan prepared by Professor Ruan for many years was indeed effective, and Tang Yibu also agreed to assist Professor Ruan.
…However, he didn’t want to cooperate.
Order Supervisor Headquarters.
Zhuo Muran walked out of the gate of the headquarters. The night was dark, and the sky was full of stars. As he got into his car, the light screens that were wrapped around him like a school of fish swam to one side, clearing the view for him.
After Zhuo Muran got in the car, he made himself a cup of coffee. He didn’t need to drive. The navigation had already started to operate on its own.
“Safe house,” Zhuo Muran simply said.
“So late?” A holographic figure was projected on the passenger side. A beautiful young man sat on the passenger seat with a smile, still wearing a simple white robe without any adornments. His long black hair, which didn’t exist in reality, was braided and hung on one shoulder. The illusion looked at him with golden eyes, but the image didn’t match the extremely modern design of the car.
Whether it was the white robe, long black hair, or handsome face, the one next to him was more like a ghost of an ancient priest.
“Because I can’t determine the movement of the decoy, I must collect as much information as possible.” Zhuo Muran took another sip of coffee. “MUL-01, it’s my off time.”
“I’m very satisfied with your new plan and curious,” the Mainbrain said, ignoring the second half of Zhuo Muran’s sentence. “So I decided to allocate a little computing space to it. Take me along.”
Zhuo Muran threw two sugar cubes into his coffee cup but didn’t express the slightest dissatisfaction. After a few seconds, the car started on its own and rushed straight into the sky.
The white vehicle passed through the clouds, took a few big bends in the pale moonlight, and finally stopped in front of a void. Zhuo Muran pressed his finger on the light screen, and after a slight beep, a rectangular white box appeared in front of the vehicle. Its height was just right as if it was built on top of the clouds.
The rectangle was more like two cubes put together, and right now, half of it was opening up, revealing two spaces stacked on top of each other. The other cube fell down to one side and became a platform suitable for things to land on.
Zhuo Muran got out of the car, which then drove towards the parking space by itself. He stepped on the white platform and entered the other half of the “box”. After he completely entered the interior, the platform dropped down again, and its rectangular body flickered for a moment before being hidden again.
The interior was simply furnished. A bed, a bathtub, a refrigerator that was full of food, an extremely simple kitchen, and a bathroom. Zhuo Muran concentrated all the necessary facilities related to living in one corner, as most of the space in the vertical square room was empty for sandbox projection.
The Mainbrain was a convenient guest. It didn’t even need tea. It ran to the sandbox table by itself and looked at the numbers and formulas that were constantly jumping.
“They probably went to your city.” Zhuo Muran made himself tea. It seemed like he needed to drink something with flavor to hydrate himself. “Things could be a lot easier if you could see the condition of the decoys.”
“Nn.” MUL-01 simply responded.
After the water boiled, the Mainbrain’s attention focused on the white water vapor ejected from the spout. He put one hand near the spout and watched the water vapor rush through the non-existent shadow.
“Considering they’re cooperating with Ruan Xian, we can’t leave any clues. Any tracking programs, mechanical or even unnatural mental inductions, could spook the snake.” The voice of the phantom youth was still warm and pleasing. “Only when I know nothing about the decoys will Ruan Xian take the bait.”
“The person with NUL-00 showed good abilities in the Android Show. It should be some kind of anti-mechanical virus. With this card in his hand, Ruan Xian will definitely send it to me.”
“I’m not so sure,” Zhuo Muran said humbly. “I have increased troops in all surrounding non-urban areas and have gained nothing. In recent cities, I have also buried decoys… But according to my experience in dealing with Ruan Xian, even if we don’t put anything on the baits, he may notice that those are baits.”
“He knows, which is why he’ll take the risk. Relatively speaking, I must also bear the risk of being attacked.”
MUL-01 was still playing with the water vapors.
“It’s like playing chess. No matter how strong the player is, as long as the two sides are evenly matched, it’s impossible not to lose a single piece… Just like he knew that my first reaction when I found NUL-00 was to test it, which I did, even though through gathering this intelligence allowed NUL-00 to successfully escape.”
“R-α, R-β, M-α, M-β are in the four nearest cities. Guess who’s coming back with the trojan horse?”
Amazing reference. What Professor Ruan planned is similar to what the Greeks did during the Trojan War. Most likely, Ruan Xian will be the person “hidden” in the trojan horse. Ironically, (not sure if this is intentional by the author), but Trojan Horse also refers to a malware as well (which got its name from the original Trojan Horse). Given that they’re trying to infect the Mainbrain with a virus, the reference would be on so many levels.