Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 222: Before the Storm
Time returned to lunch break.
Ruan Xian spent the whole morning collecting information floating in the big room. There wasn’t much conversation between the researchers, and the information given by the light screen was intermittent. He struggled to extract usable information from the messy mixture, but the Mainbrain’s confidentiality was really good—even with the power of the S-type Prototype, Ruan Xian didn’t get too much out of it.
High-intensity and long-term perception would no longer make him lose his strength, but dizziness was inevitable. Before meeting with Hu Shuli, Ruan Xian rested against the wall for a while so that he could concentrate again.
“How do you feel?” Hu Shuli was still his usual self.
“I feel… that’s it, it’s okay.” Ruan Xian didn’t rush to throw out the bait, and replied stiffly. “I have finished reading the basic information. Do you want to transfer work, let me research freely, or set a new topic?”
“Where’s the mechanical assistant?” Hu Shuli returned to the topic with a smile.
“About that… It’s just that sometimes he’s not quite like my Yibu,” Ruan Xian replied in a low voice.
“You can train him. It’s very simple. Moreover, it’s a technology that has matured since 2100. The Mainbrain is very good at sensing subtle emotional changes. As long as you spend a month with him, you’ll find that he’s not much different from NUL-00.”
“What do you mean? Whether it’s a fake or not, I won’t misidentify it. You promised you’d keep Yibu alive, and I will not budge on this.”
“Xiao Ruan, what do you think people are trying to do?” Hu Shuli waved his hand, signaling for his mechanical assistant to pour Ruan Xian some tea. “You should have seen a lot of things along the way. Can you still accurately define what a “person” is now? You have a lover, he’s still what he is, and he’ll still give you the feeling you used to have. What’s wrong with this? What the body and brain are, isn’t important… Why torture yourself like that?”
When he said this, Hu Shuli’s eyes were a little gray.
“Of course, you can try it yourself. The phrase ‘ignorance is bliss’ has its own truth, so I won’t try hard to persuade you.”
It seemed that the Mainbrain had no intention of obediently fulfilling its promise. Seeing that “Ruan Lijie” took a step back, it tightened the thread on Hu Shuli’s body and pressed harder.
“Since you said you wouldn’t try hard to persuade me, let’s skip this topic.” Ruan Xian immediately stood firm. “My opinion will not change.”
“Then have you ever thought about working for the Order Supervisors? People want to change, so perhaps such a step is needed.”
“I said, change the subject.”
“Alright, I just don’t want you to fall into my old footsteps.” Hu Shuli smiled. “Sorry. Regarding work, you just said that you have finished reading the basic information?”
“Do you have any feelings?” Hu Shuli chatted slowly while operating the light screen in front of him.
Ruan Xian hesitated for a while before pulling up a light screen in front of him. “See for yourself.”
Hu Shuli narrowed his eyes and didn’t connect the data to his processor. He let it float in the air, then stood up and walked to Ruan Xian to look.
It seemed the Mainbrain hadn’t let go of its guard against him.
It didn’t matter. Even if the small trap in the file wasn’t successful, the other party’s actions could give Ruan Xian what he wanted. Ruan Xian moved over to make room for Hu Shuli. He quickly glanced at Hu Shuli’s desk and quickly burned all the content on the light screen into his brain.
“A brief analysis of the viral destructive ability of S-type advanced products.”
Hu Shuli’s ability was obviously good. He quickly browsed through the report given by Ruan Xian and saved the content by copying the image.
“I took a look at it. It’s a very interesting idea. However, R-α’s ability may be out of date, and changes must be made… Let me take a closer look. Before dinner today, I will give you the result.”
“What about this afternoon?”
“I’ll give you second-level permission and will authorize a part of the specific body data of R-α. Remember not to look around. The Mainbrain will record every interface you visit.” Hu Shuli’s tone was very polite. “If you behave well, the days that follow will only be easier.”
…It would be weird not to look around.
Tang Yibu wasn’t there in the afternoon so Ruan Xian obediently stayed in the big office all afternoon, making sure that there was nothing else that could be squeezed in this area. The newly authorized data were all information he had already known, such as “Ruan Yuchan’s son”, which was little help to them.
A well-behaved day was indeed easy. He didn’t have to worry about shelter, food, and life, or whether enemies would suddenly appear. There was plenty of time to rest and various entertainment outlets at his disposal—these were all excellent humans the Mainbrain had selected, so they didn’t need to undergo much adjustment like people in the city.
When he returned to the room, it was also well taken care of, as if he had an invisible housekeeper. His “lover” was looking at him with a smile and came over and gave him a welcome hug.
Ruan Xian did have the feeling of being carefully taken care of. At that moment, he understood Hu Shuli’s fall very well. If he didn’t have a strong enough belief—or paranoia—it would be difficult to break free from this sweet trap.
Fortunately, he was precisely someone who was paranoid to a fault.
Ruan Xian smiled at the assistant robot who looked like Tang Yibu, then sat back by the bed and activated all the light screens. He turned off the lights, and a fluorescent blue light flickered in the darkness.
“Let’s play a game,” He said this to the shell after glancing at the time. “Close your eyes and count to one hundred. We’ll play hide and seek… just like we played before.”
Ruan Xian then made a simple move. He let the flashing blue light screens float into every corner of the spacious room. It created a figure similar to a strangely shaped deep-sea fish. Those light screens quickly flickered with all kinds of information, swimming slowly in the dark. He then hid himself in the closet and quietly clasped one of them in his hands.
For 100 seconds, he must disrupt the Mainbrain’s attention as much as possible.
Using the acquired second-level authority as well as the information obtained from Hu Shuli, Ruan Xian began to try to carefully obtain project information about R-α.
“…85, 84, 83…”
The encryption used by the Mainbrain was very complicated. He had to crack Hu Shuli’s account to break in as him, as well as handle these unlucky obstacles at the same time…
“…73, 72, 71…”
Ruan Xian’s breathing became a bit chaotic, so he simply just held his breath, grasping every second in the crowded darkness.
He tried his best to gently pry open the thick shell in an attempt to touch the pearl within. The thrill that he could be discovered at any moment made his entire body tense like a stone, and the information that kept scrolling on the screen occupied all his thoughts.
“…49, 48, 47…”
Will the Mainbrain find out? Will Tang Yibu return in time?
“…16, 15, 14…”
The layers of blockade finally revealed gaps. Ruan Xian quickly scanned the contents of the project. It was more than he thought, and he was running out of time. Ruan Xian could feel the sweat burrowing out of his pores, itching like ants crawling all over.
“5, 4, 3—”
Tension tightened his insides like wringing rags. Ruan Xian couldn’t hold his breath anymore and swallowed the air silently.
He was able to look at it two more times.
However, he didn’t wait for the “1” to be said. The screen in front of him suddenly became blank. In the next second, Ruan Xian smelled a familiar smell—a mixture of smells from decaying wounds, fresh potions, and a replica of his mother. Beside her, there was a stronger smell, like a human but with the fishy scent of a beast.
He heard the woman’s shallow breathing and the monster’s ragged, low panting. They were approaching. The most recent threat had appeared—the closet door was suddenly slammed open and Tang Yibu grabbed Ruan Xian, who was inside, and put him directly under his arms.
Ruan Xian: “……”
“Just like last time, I can only temporarily interrupt the Mainbrain’s surveillance,” Tang Yibu said. “Did you get exposed?”
“Yes, but the situation isn’t right.” Ruan Xian didn’t have time to care about this strange method of transportation. “R-α is rushing here with some kind of creature—I’m guessing it’s M-α.”
“How much information did you get?”
“Then let’s go.”
Tang Yibu sandwiched Ruan Xian between his arms and broke directly through the glass window of Ruan Xian’s residence. They were in the middle to upper floors of a certain building, so the android directly leapt into the void when he jumped out. During their descent, Tang Yibu shot out several grappling hooks, single-handedly latching on to a surveillance flying machine in order to slow down their crazy and dangerous descent.
Even so, when they landed, Tang Yibu still groaned—at any rate, he maintained a stable landing posture, allowing Ruan Xian to escape the tragic fate of slamming into the ground.
Ruan Xian didn’t talk nonsense. He immediately bit his tongue and gave Tang Yibu a bloody kiss, then pulled the other party to run along the established route.
“Now I’m pretty sure it’s R-α and M-α,” Ruan Xian said as he ran. “They have the same smell of preservation fluids and will be here in about 20 minutes… Hm, provided you didn’t miscalculate.”
“Just looking at the information, MUL-01’s reaction was too great.” Tang Yibu’s voice sounded aggrieved. “It doesn’t know how to behave like a human at all! Even against me, it’s not necessary to send both—”
Neither of them spoke after that. In front of them were layers of high walls. This time, Tang Yibu carried Ruan Xian on his back. With two free hands, Tang Yibu was able to quickly climb over the walls one by one.
The nearby patrol machines chased after him like hornets. Ruan Xian rummaged through Tang Yibu’s bag for a few seconds, but before he had time to reach for the blood guns, two rattles came out. The iron bead had the guns in its mouth and poked its head out among the mess of supplies.
“Good boy.” Ruan Xian gently pressed π back into the bag and grabbed the attack blood gun and started shooting at the army of machines chasing them. “Stay quiet. Don’t make a sound… Yibu, those two things are getting closer.”
The siren sounds were getting louder. Fragments of mechanical explosions cut the two of them. Stone and metal debris showered on their bodies like rain. Not to mention the two approaching large disasters, right now, the army they were dealing with almost overwhelmed the two of them—Tang Yibu didn’t have the slightest room to attack. He was putting all his energy into fleeing, like a frightened loach jumping around trying to dodge a rain of gunfire.
“I’m already running as fast as I can!” Tang Yibu wiped away the ash from his face. His voice was coarse like sand. “Mr. Ruan, hang in there!”
“Your brother is quite shady.” A beam of light grazed his cheek as Ruan Xian raised his voice. “The plan needs to be temporarily adjusted again, Yibu.”
In the darkness, Hu Shuli sighed at the flashing screen in front of him. It broadcast to him in real time an image of two young people fleeing, and he dutifully uploaded it to Zhuo Muran.
“In the end, he’s still too young,” he lamented.
“They are likely to hit R-α and M-α head-on. The Mainbrain requires the images to be accurate and recorded down to every detail. Call out 80% of your flight recorders.”
“You don’t seem to be enthusiastic, Mr. Hu.”
“I wasn’t really interested in your idea in the first place. I’m just a little tired. That young man has some talent. What a shame.”
Hu Shuli glanced at the report at hand—it was the only report left by Ruan Lijie. He had just finished writing his suggestions and understanding, and he wanted to discuss it with the young man tonight.
After all, he seemed to have a unique understanding of the S-type Prototype, and by recruiting him to their side, who was to say they couldn’t reproduce the Prototype that Ruan Xian had made. As a result, the young man would have a good life, but instead he chose to rush to his death for so-called love.
It was truly stupid and familiar, just like his original self.
“…I’ll broadcast and record it well. Don’t worry.” Seeing that Zhuo Muran was still waiting for his answer, Hu Shuli shrugged his shoulders.
“Regarding Ruan Lijie’s identity, you have to continue to investigate it. Even if there are a lot of impurities mixed in, even if you have to restore the genetic fragments bit by bit, you have to figure out where he came from. He’s definitely more than just a tool for NUL-00. You must be personally responsible for this matter, Mr. Hu.”
“Give me the specific mission statement later. You know the routine,” Hu Shuli responded with little enthusiasm. “…But does this even make sense? The two war weapons are almost here, and they will be wiped out.”
“The Mainbrain wants to know. I don’t ask why.”
“Got it.” Hu Shuli lowered his gaze. “I’ll do it as soon as possible.”
The author has something to say:
The melee is about to being—! It’s Ruan’s and Tang’s timeline~