Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 216: Meeting Ceremony
To be convincing, the most important thing was to remain calm. If Ruan Xian could act confident and maintain the facade that everything was under control, it wouldn’t give rise to suspicion. This was something he was very good at. The difficulty at the moment was how to make full use of the knowledge he didn’t know well enough to convince the expert in front of him.
Just like the deployment of some kind of complex potion, Ruan Xian retained about three parts nervousness and just the right amount of confidence.
At least he wasn’t completely unprepared.
When studying α-092, he was involved in related fields. Since the emergence of such nanobots that could stably replicate themselves, the definition of what an organism was had begun to loosen—they had similar characteristics; ingesting energy from the outside world and abandoning useless residues. After accumulating a certain amount of energy, they would self-replicate, and occasionally there would be errors in their replication. A simple program written inside the machine allowed them to identify their goals and respond appropriately to changes in the environment.
If viruses with only a piece of DNA or RNA could be recognized, then nanobots like these could be said to be a weird new form of life. It was just that this topic was extremely controversial at the time, and it wasn’t Ruan Xian’s responsibility to participate in their debate.
But with this memory in front of him, he could guess the origin of mechanical life.
With careful adjustment, these tiny nanobots could become simple cells and construct their own simple nerve centers. These man-made objects were much thicker than natural cells, and due to the essential differences in composition, their structure was far from that of normal organisms.
For them, reproduction was closer to the essence of individual data exchange. With so many mechanical beings appearing in a short period of time, Ruan Xian was inclined to believe that this was the result of a deliberate arrangement by the Mainbrain.
Ruan Xian sneezed to distract Hu Shuli. He looked around from the corner of his eyes while his ears tried to pick up on everything around him.
“The reproduction of Grove-type R-660 in areas A and C is good. The Grove-type R-219 is normal, but the number shows a slow negative growth trend. According to our preliminary judgment, it’s not suitable to be used to transform the terrain near Country V.”
“The number of Papu T-72 in the Sea of Ruins has increased significantly. It may be because the Grove-type R-660 has been raised in captivity, causing the population to surge… They will breed too fast at this rate, pushing out other small mechanical life.”
“Scavenging puppets, right? I said at the time that the stability of subspecies 72 isn’t very good and their aggressiveness is still too high. They are used to recover the corpses of mechanical life. They shouldn’t be predators but rather be closer to carrion-eating creatures—”
The flow of time slowed down. Ruan Xian could hear the sound of air slowly flowing through his hair. His brain had never been so active before, and this strange stimulation made him want to laugh.
He had a good idea on how to deal with this.
“Specializing in the study of specific viruses to manipulate or destroy the corresponding mechanical races…” Ruan Xian’s voice was steady. “This is my research direction… You use the Mainbrain to uniformly regulate mechanical life, while we can only choose to infect them with viruses. Whether it’s old-school pure data intrusion or bionic tissue infection, I’ve been exposed to them.”
Having said that, he straightened up and looked serious. “I can more or less guess what you’re working on—controlling mechanical life’s reproduction cycle and life so you can rapidly modify specific terrain so it can be used for humans.”
“The Grove-type R-660, known as the iron beads—are mainly distributed in areas where ruins are more concentrated. They autonomously ingest metals, plastics, and other substances that are not easy to handle. They fatten themselves up and coalesce the acquired metals on their shells, then they are hunted by larger mechanical life, like the scavenger puppets—all the Mainbrain then has to do is collect the scavenger puppets regularly and extract the precious metals from their bodies.”
As for the things that couldn’t be recycled, they would be long digested by the iron bead into degradable particles and excreted, which would no longer be harmful to natural organisms.
Compared with manually manufacturing a large number of machines and unifying the command, this approach consumed significantly less energy. It only needed to wait patiently while life continued to develop and the efficiency was relatively high—as long as MUL-01 designed the correct mechanical life and issued the right instructions, the Mainbrain could divert rivers and level mountains, turn a glacier into a wasteland, and a dessert into soil within a few months.
Perhaps humans really did create a “God” for themselves—a tool that was omniscient and omnipotent.
Hu Shuli looked very focused and had no plans to speak for the time being. Ruan Xian retracted his thoughts, tightened every nerve, and continued to narrate calmly.
“Now you should be aware of the problem. Compared to real life, mechanical life that could replicate itself is far from mature. Species with high IQ are difficult to design, right? Most of the higher mechanical life we’ve come into contact with are modified from living organisms, or special individuals that are artificially mass-produced—eliminating billions of years of evolution isn’t a joke. Even the Mainbrain can’t stabilize these new life forms in less than twenty years.”
“I’ve heard of similar exhortations, and that is indeed the tone of Professor Ruan’s side.” Hu Shuli sighed. “But Xiao Ruan, absolute naturalization is too extreme…”
“I can certainly understand renovating a landfill or a severely polluted area, but you are doing more. The Mainbrain is transforming the world into a special breeding garden for only humans.”
After figuring out Professor Ruan’s character, Ruan Xian knew exactly how to play a rebel.
“I just want to help remove those unnecessary changes. At least I don’t want to give my will to MUL-01 and become a domesticated animal to be raised.” …In fact, if he was entirely honest, he really had no thoughts regarding this battle.
Adding some gestures was good for firing up the atmosphere, but unfortunately, Ruan Xian really lacked experience in this area, so he could only keep his arms crossed.
“Take it easy. How about this. Why not look at the results first?” Hu Shuli knew how to interact with people well. He didn’t butt heads with Ruan Xian. “Xiao Ruan, in fact, we also need someone who thinks like you. This way, we won’t have a problem when wiping out the necessary mechanical life. Many people have expressed that they couldn’t stand it before. Think about it, you can use your abilities to correct excessive transformations and control their numbers so that things don’t get out of hand.”
Hu Shuli patted Ruan Xian on the shoulder.
“I assure you, things aren’t as bad as you think.”
Ruan Xian breathed a sigh of relief. Hu Shuli’s focus was taken away by him, and he also managed to obtain more information…
But naturally, not from Hu Shuli’s incessant explanations. Ruan Xian walked slowly around the huge lab, trying to stuff all the details into his mind. Even if the Mainbrain wanted to use him, it wouldn’t expose real sensitive information to him. He must take the opportunity to get more information. Even if he couldn’t use it in the future, it would still be useful to fool the Mainbrain’s version of Tang Yibu.
“It’s not just mechanical life pathology and control that are studied here.” Ruan Xian suddenly stopped beside a light screen.
Hu Shuli, who was walking in front, stopped his movements and no longer continued explaining Watler-E87’s transformation of the desert area.
“What’s the matter?” He raised his eyebrows.
“I have an impression of what this person designed.” Ruan Xian pointed to the light screen beside him. “The combination of specific mechanical viruses and an S-type product?”
He did have an impression, but it didn’t come from the knowledge reserve of the so-called “mechanical life expert”, but from his own blood—the mechanical structure on the screen looked like α-092-30.
No matter what it was, it must be related to the S-type Prototype.
“It seems that the Mainbrain didn’t misjudge you,” Hu Shuli said with satisfaction. “It’s okay to tell you—that’s our research on the S-type to expand the scope of perception. When this research is completed, the perceptual camouflage of the rebel army will completely fail. No matter where Ruan Xian is hiding, he won’t have much longer to live.”
This was putting pressure on his disguise. Ruan Xian tried to make an ugly look.
“If you’re willing to help us complete this research, you can have access to core technologies, participate in research of the advanced S-type products, and make yourself irreplaceable. The Mainbrain will also allow you to make some requests, such as keeping anyone other than Ruan Xian.”
“We can change him to… well, a less dangerous body, and then set some safety restrictions in his algorithm. If you agree to this premise and are willing to help the Mainbrain catch Ruan Xian, I think the Mainbrain will agree.”
“Now it seems that the defeat of the rebels is only a matter of time. Tang Yibu will inevitably be eliminated.”
Seeing that Ruan Xian didn’t respond, Hu Shuli struck while the iron was hot. “I’m not going to lie to you. We also know Ruan Xian’s and the rebel’s plan. Pure data virus infection, right? Xiao Ruan, you are still young. Don’t be too impulsive when making decisions.”
Ruan Xian magnified his perception and pinched his palm fiercely. The severe pain made his eye circles a little red.
The effect wasn’t bad.
“I heard that Fan Lin… Teacher Fan was taken by the Mainbrain a long time ago. Is it true?” Ruan Xian “struggled” for a while before he raised his head.
“Fan Linsong is your teacher?”
“…Mm. I want to know his situation. If the Mainbrain is really as good as you say, then teacher should still be alive.”
Hu Shuli’s smile became a lot warmer. “He’s doing well now, but he’s not here.”
“I want to talk to him.”
“No.” Hu Shuli shook his head. “But we can help you confirm some questions that only he knows or provide you with his vitals—Fan Linsong’s DNA is quite thoroughly disguise so we can’t clone him. It’s easy to prove that he’s still alive. A meeting will have to wait until you make a definitive contribution.”
“Give me an image of him eating breakfast. I won’t mistake my own teacher.” It was true he wouldn’t mistake his own deputy.
“Not a problem. After dinner, I’ll send it to your room. That’ll give you enough time to identify the authenticity.”
Ruan Xian carefully imitated a young man’s hesitation while calculating in his mind.
Since the core logic of the Mainbrain hadn’t changed, Fan Linsong could still be considered the main person in charge. Ruan Xian was afraid he had spent too much effort on the hardware—if he wanted to understand the physical weakness of the Mainbrain, this was the breakthrough point.
There was always never enough information, and given his own “handle”, the Mainbrain will feel more at ease.
…It would be nice if someone could help him a bit. He didn’t know when Tang Yibu, who was so stimulated last time, would come again.
He promised that the next time, the thrill would be even greater.
“I understand,” Ruan Xian murmured. “Tell the Mainbrain, about Yibu… I need to think about it again.”
However, Ruan Xian had no idea that the one he was missing at the moment was burying himself in soil.
Zhong Qing had short legs and was unfamiliar with life. When he ran panting to where Tang Yibu was, he bumped into the visitor with a cart.
The man was planning to unload the extra “box” from Yu Le’s car. Seeing someone rushing in, he subconsciously raised a gun in his hand. In the dim light, the two of them stared at each other for a while.
“Report. It’s a child,” the man said cautiously. “I’ve scanned the surroundings. He seemed to have just arrived. I’m not sure if it’s an android. I’ll use the short-term memory elimination spray to deal with him. If it doesn’t work—”
“No, no, no.” Zhong Qing’s voice changed with a bit of fright. “I didn’t mean to. I just came to pee. You continue on. I’ll be leaving now.”
“Is it the enemy? Is it the enemy?” Unlike Zhong Qing, who could see through walls, A’Qiao guessed one step late. She ignored Zhong Qing, who was retreating, and rushed directly in the direction of the man.
The man sharply interrupted the communication and was about to shoot…
In the next second, he was grabbed by a hand covered in mud.
“You missed the ground when you scanned your surroundings.” Tang Yibu spat out the mud in his mouth. “You always forget to scan the ground.”
The man who was grabbed couldn’t say much. The ground scanning tool was used for dangerous machines. Who the hell would guess that, besides rats, there were other living things hiding down there? At least this was something the Mainbrain had never done.
“You’re not… Order Supervisors…”
The man glanced at Tang Yibu’s clothes and his bright smile, which was half covered in mud. “Let me go. I’m just here to collect something—” As he spoke, his hand quietly reached towards his belt.
“Are you looking for this?” Tang Yibu used his other hand to take out a self-detonating bomb. “And your gun, I have unloaded it—you’re a rebel. No, no, no. Don’t be so quick to bite the poison in your mouth. I also know what you’re here for. You were ordered to come pick things up, right?”
“You’re the one…” The man’s face changed. “Are you going to betray, ahem, that one?”
He glanced at the two children and changed the name in time.
“Yes, I am ‘the one’. How weird you would call it betrayal when I have no loyalty to him to begin with.” Tang Yibu shook the mud from his head. “I just want to make sure of a guess—is the thing you want to take this ‘empty box’? Since you’re entrusted to pick up such an important thing, your rank definitely isn’t low. Since I don’t want to break it rashly, tell me what it is.”
As Tang Yibu spoke, he curled his lips. “Your boss doesn’t like sharing plans with me very much, so I can’t help it.”
The man laughed dryly and didn’t speak. Seeing that he was no longer threatening, the two children next to him quickly came over.
“Torture, torture, torture!” A’Qiao’s emotions were inexplicably high.
“Do you have a particularly powerful truth potion?” Zhong Qing started to let his imagination run wild.
“…” It seemed that the rebels may not be so popular. The man squinted at the two little brats weakly.
“You followed me.” Tang Yibu turned his head and got straight to the point. “Was that a free demonstration of your sentry abilities just now? If I hadn’t guessed that someone would come get this, I would’ve been attacked by him.”
His tone of voice was very serious, and his expression faintly revealed a little disgust.
Zhong Qing shrank his neck. “As if you would die that easily.”
“…Do you sound sorry?”
“Shut up!” The man roared. “If you don’t want the Order Supervisors—”
“Before you, I have already tampered with the surveillance here.” Tang Yibu finally turned his attention back to the man. “Can’t you really tell me? Just a little?”
“Can’t.” The man’s dry smile turned into a sneer. “My contact person will become suspicious if I don’t report it within ten minutes. Mr. Tang, if you still want to cooperate with that one, you’d better let me go now—hck!”
Tang Yibu took out a spray bottle from the man’s bag and sprayed it on the man’s face. The man rolled his eyes upwards and fell to the ground, unaware of what had just happened.
“Short-term memory elimination spray.” A’Qiao squatted down and poked the man in the face.
“Zhong Qing.” Tang Yibu’s voice became serious again.
“We still have five minutes. Since you’re here, it’s time to prove that you are useful.” Tang Yibu clapped his hands. “Help me see through that box and tell me what’s inside.”
“He said ten minutes. How come it’s now five? Isn’t this supposed to be a secret? I knew you were just pretending to care about me—”
Tang Yibu grinned and shook the short-term memory elimination spray in his hand. “It effectively clears the memory of the last five minutes. There’s still a lot left in it.”
“…I hate you.”
Zhong Qing took off his hat and grumbled.
“Aren’t you with them? Why are you still doing these things?”
“Because I’m going to see the person I love.” Tang Yibu thought for a while. “Last time I was in a rush. This time, I have to prepare some information as a meeting gift.”
“You’re so annoying!” Zhong Qing pulled on his hat.
On the other hand, A’Qiao, seeing that there was no longer any excitement, turned cold and sat on the unconscious man’s stomach. “Don’t we need to kill him?”
“If he died here, it’d be troublesome for Yu Le and the others.” As an android, Tang Yibu was keenly aware of the opponent’s weakness. “When he wakes up, you will tell him—he intended to spray you, but you dodged, and using your skills, you sprayed him back. Five minutes isn’t enough to do anything to the box, and nothing is missing, so the best he can do is check to see if there are any trackers on it.”
A’Qiao’s face wrinkled, but she reluctantly nodded in agreement.
This would save a lot of trouble. Tang Yibu nodded in satisfaction—if these two little ones hadn’t come, he would’ve spent time trying to set up a reasonable “accident”.
“Four minutes left.” Tang Yibu took a deep breath and calculated the time accurately. “Zhong Qing, get started.”
“When I finish my trip, I’ll come pick you up.” Tang Yibu smiled. “Don’t worry. This is a deal. I won’t break my promise.”
“What are you going to do?” Zhong Qing walked to the box as he muttered very quietly. “Tell me a general version. I don’t like being kept in the dark—at least give me hope.”
“I decided to find the person I like, kiss him, and give him a hug.” Tang Yibu started listing his steps solemnly. “Then, exchange greeting gifts…”
“Finally, defeat the Mainbrain within 72 hours.”
After that papapa? …Or maybe a quickie before then?