Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 210: Love?
It was evening. Soft chatter would come from outside from time to time. Ruan Xian poured two glasses of water and handed one of them to the person in front of him.
Ruan Xian’s theoretical future boss took the cup and smiled at him. He politely sat in the guest chair opposite of the bed, while Ruan Xian sat on the edge of the bed. The hem of his clothes draped over the edge, covering the gap at the bottom of the bed.
“Ruan Lijie,” Ruan Xian responded in a friendly manner. The smell of persimmons was growing stronger.
“I know. The Mainbrain gave me your file.” Hu Shuli had a personable temperament. He wasn’t the kind of leader like Professor Ruan. This researcher gave off a very sincere feeling. “Young talents are rare. Mr. Ruan, personally, I very much look forward to having you join us.”
He took a sip of water and continued with a smile.
“Your current state isn’t very good… I’ll apply for more time with the Mainbrain. It’s still too hasty for you to come to a decision in just one night. I’ll help fight to extend it for another day. You can follow me around and take a look at the environment tomorrow, then you can make your decision tomorrow night. It’s good to get a good night’s sleep so your mind is clear.”
These words were full of sincerity without any pretense. It seemed as if Hu Shuli really believed in the words he was saying.
“You… Have the authority to advise the Mainbrain?”
“As you were told, as long as the logic is reasonable and the persuasion is sufficient, the Mainbrain will not refuse.” Hu Shuli had a “please feel free to ask” expression, while sitting in a very relaxed position. “This is not an interview, Mr. Ruan. No matter what choice you make, I will personally understand. As a person who has come here, I just want to see if I can be of any help to you.”
“Why come here?” Ruan Xian asked cautiously. He wasn’t in a hurry to make a statement. As a person who had just crawled out of the doomsday cycle, he shouldn’t ask too many questions all at once.
“I used to be a supporter of Ruan Xian.” Hu Shuli sat up straight. “But I changed my mind later.”
‘Here we go,’ Ruan Xian thought. Most likely, this person would start an ethical discussion about the status quo and try to shake him with his spiel, then they would go around in conversation. However, when Hu Shuli answered, he said something completely unexpected.
“Because my wife and I broke up,” Hu Shuli answered.
“…” Ruan Xian didn’t really expect this.
“Did you think I was going to preach to you?” Hu Shuli laughed happily. “Unfortunately, it’s that simple. I heard that you’re also in love, so I remembered this.”
Ruan Xian began to wonder where the direction of this dialogue was going. Was this an arrangement by the Mainbrain? The person in front of him seemed to be really good at bringing up random topics so casually. At the same time, something was poking his heel, which he deeply suspected was Tang Yibu under the bed.
“People are easily brainwashed, so I’m not going to theorize anything with you. I just hope you’ll have more time to look around and take the detour I took in the beginning,” Hu Shuli said. “When I was still on Professor Ruan’s side, I also put my feelings first—don’t look at me like that. I’m a person with no pursuit. To be honest, how many people have the luxury of worrying about ‘mankind’ when the majority of people are still struggling to provide food and clothing for their families?”
As he spoke, his eyes became empty, as if he was remembering the past.
“So then?” Ruan Xian gave him an inquisitive face.
“My wife was ill. I’m an expert in mechanical biology, so I don’t know much about medicine. Her case was troublesome. Professor Ruan could treat it, but the equipment required was only available in a distant petri dish, and she wouldn’t be able to travel that far. However, if I defect to the Mainbrain who already possessed the technology, it can easily save her.”
“You wanted to take her away.”
“Yes, but she scolded me for it.” Hu Shuli’s smile became bitter. “I just wanted her to live. At least for me, no ideology could compare to her life. I couldn’t accept her death, but what else could I do? Watch her die in front of me? After arguing back and forth for a few years… I wanted to save her, and she wanted to… How to put it, correct my depraved thoughts—well, no matter how deep feelings are, they eventually become worn out.”
After that, he shrugged. “Breaking up is breaking up. Originally, I wanted to be angry with her, but things weren’t as bad as I thought. It’s just some people can’t accept the changes of time and resolutely resist new technologies. It’s similar to those extreme environmentalists. When you’re one of them, it’s hard to see what’s wrong.”
The other party’s tone became more solemn, revealing a subtle hint of persuasion.
Tang Yibu didn’t seem interested in this kind of dilemma. The android seemed more interested in his heel as he kept poking it vigorously. There was an inexplicable sense of relaxation in the atmosphere—although Hu Shuli was a person under the Mainbrain, he didn’t have the unpleasant arrogance of Zhuo Muran, so talking to him wasn’t unbearable.
“That’s basically my situation. There’s nothing earth-shattering about it.” Hu Shuli continued to chat. “Xiao Ruan, what do you think? About the person you like. From what I’ve heard, he’s quite something.”
…It seemed that Mr. Hu had made up his mind to keep the topic light to the end. Ruan Xian had expected him to change topics.
As soon as this question appeared, Tang Yibu stopped poking him. Ruan Xian felt a headache coming on. He prepared a lot of answers, but he didn’t expect to encounter this problem in the Mainbrain’s camp.
“I…” Ruan Xian felt tongue-tied.
His mouth seemed glued together, but his mind instantly gave the answer.
He liked Tang Yibu’s eyes, face, and the way he spoke. Tang Yibu could make him laugh without force, make him feel that it was a pleasant thing to be alive. Not to mention that since long ago, the android had always been by his side. Like a dose of anesthetic, Ruan Xian rarely felt pain anymore. All that was left was boundless pleasure and fresh stimulation.
This was what Ruan Xian thought subconsciously, but for some reason, he couldn’t smoothly put them into words. It stood to reason that this statement would not reveal much of Tang Yibu’s characteristics, so he shouldn’t mind revealing them in front of the Mainbrain.
…It wasn’t a problem of the environment. There was something wrong.
Ruan Xian licked his chapped lips and found himself hit by the question from a difficult angle—intuition told him that this was something that couldn’t be said in front of Tang Yibu. Perhaps it was because he was soaked in the memories before the doomsday for “several months”, or maybe it was because the aroma of the persimmon cookies was too sweet and greasy.
Tang Yibu’s words, “I’m in love”, was still echoing in his ears. At that time, Tang Yibu looked very happy.
However, Ruan Xian felt uncomfortable as his first reaction was “Why me?”. At the end of the sweet silk thread was only him—his own safe self, his own contented self, his own self who thought he could control his feelings.
This situation was familiar. He seemed to have seen it somewhere before.
Ruan Xian subconsciously glanced in the direction of the floor. Even if he knew Tang Yibu wouldn’t show himself, there was still that slightly astringent sweetness coming from the persimmon cookies. He could hear the rattle of the iron bead being held down, Tang Yibu’s inaudible breathing, and his vigorous heartbeat.
Should he lie? The conversation still had to go on, and he was confident in his lying skills. If he delayed this issue for too long, the Mainbrain would definitely find something unnatural.
He could just come up with a few excuses. If the AI wanted to conquer the human race, they would definitely comprehensively analyze all collected intelligence and consciously execute a targeted program. Not many people could resist such a perfect lover.
Ruan Xian picked up the glass of water and used the act of drinking to buy more time. However, his brain didn’t listen to his instructions at all and continued to follow his new discovery.
…What did he think of Tang Yibu?
Tang Yibu made him happy, made him feel joy. At first, he tried to suppress these feelings in his heart and drew honey from the other person to relax himself. After learning that it was his NUL-00, Ruan Xian had to admit he felt a trace of ecstasy.
Because this meant he could tame the other. He had an advantage. He was the dominant one—with a little trickery, he could keep Tang Yibu by his side. He had little concept of the passage of time, but Tang Yibu had long been unable to return to twelve years ago. Knowing this clearly, he still wanted to subconsciously press Tang Yibu back to the position of NUL-00.
The NUL-00 that couldn’t leave him.
[Mr. Ruan, when did you fall in love with me? When do you think I fell in love with you?]
What a terrible question.
When did he fall in love with Tang Yibu? He was busy placating and enticing him, obsessed with keeping him by his side, and almost forgot about their dance in the Sea of Ruins.
Ruan Xian drank the cup of water and slowly put it down.
As far as the current situation was concerned, the evaluation given by the prevention agency wasn’t unreasonable. He did have a problem… For example, he was incredibly selfish.
“What kind of person is the one I like? I can’t tell you this, Mr. Hu.”
“Don’t be nervous. Just speak casually. Don’t force yourself to say anything if you don’t want to,” Hu Shuli said hurriedly. “I know it’s NUL-00. If you don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about it—”
“I think I love him,” Ruan Xian said suddenly. “How can I put this… To say what I like best, he’s the freest person I’ve seen, and I long for that kind of freedom.”
The Mainbrain was watching, and Ruan Xian knew this. There was no weapon in the world that could confuse people more easily than the truth—now his image as an “infatuated follower” was solid.
Hu Shuli showed a polite expression of doubt.
“I can’t explain it. I thought I was thinking clearly, but now I’m getting very dizzy.” Ruan Xian smiled brightly. “I’m sorry. My brain is a mess right now… Maybe it’s the side effect of experiencing so many memories earlier. I need to sleep first and empty my head. If you don’t mind—”
Ruan Xian stood up and made a gesture of sending Hu Shuli off.
“Of course, of course. You’d better take a break first. We’ll talk tomorrow. Since your head is unclear, don’t make any rash decisions. There’s no loss to looking around tomorrow.”
As if Hu Shuli expected this, his tone remained polite, without the slightest intention of being exasperated or any forcefulness to continue.
“Good night, Xiao Ruan.”
“Good Night… and Mr. Hu, just one thing.”
“The person I love is not called NUL-00,” Ruan Xian said, with a wonderful sense of relief. “He has a name. It’s Tang Yibu.”
The author has something to say:
These two obviously fuck first before they fell in love, so the process now is filled with nine twists and eighteen turns (……
Their relationship is also problematic at this stage, whether it’s Tang or Ruan.
I mean, is Hu Shuli ignoring the fact that to get to this stage he’s in, there was a massive genocide of the human race? It’s not about resisting change, bro. Assuming Ruan Xian is a “normal-ish” person, that’s a pretty terrible argument to try and sway him.