Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 224: Disappearing Scars
His body was basically a new one.
Ruan Xian struggled to grab Tang Yibu’s hand, barely standing up. The blood made his hand slippery, and the dizziness became more obvious.
His original torso and limbs were chewed to pieces, turning into a slimy mass. His skull was cracked, and waves of cold and empty pain hit his brain. Then, using M-α’s corpse as sustenance, he formed a new body.
After maintaining his balance, Ruan Xian looked at his left wrist. Even if it was covered with blood and flesh, he could still tell that the scars that had followed him for many years had disappeared. Scars were harmless to one’s health on a physical level, so the S-type Prototype would only recognize them as normal tissues and it wouldn’t specially repair them. Now, since his entire body was decimated, it would recreate a brand new one according to his physical condition and wouldn’t specifically reproduce those details.
It was a wonderful feeling.
It may be that Ruan Xian paused for too long, that Tang Yibu hesitated for a few seconds and took him in his arms. The android sniffed Ruan Xian’s blood-soaked black hair lightly and then gently rested his chin on top of his head.
Very warm. Ruan Xian reassuringly leaned his weight over, trying to build up his strength.
Tang Yibu’s arms were covered with blood and smelly mucus. They didn’t have much breathing time as R-α was still alive. If they didn’t take care of her soon and the Mainbrain’s pursuers caught up, they wouldn’t have the strength to resist.
Ruan Xian coughed a few more times and finally coughed up all the mucus and blood clots. He was breathing heavily, and his new body was still tingling. Before the pain had passed, he pulled a bottle from Tang Yibu’s waist, broke free from the other’s arms, and picked up a piece of metal on the ground.
Then Ruan Xian almost cut his wrist in half. Bright red blood spurted out instantly.
“Finish her.” Ruan Xian’s lips turned pale, and his voice was weak.
Tang Yibu took the bottle. The gleaming in his eyes had disappeared. His hands trembled a little, as if the bottle was filled with hot water. At the worst time, the android’s mood was alright, but had now shifted to negative.
“We’re running out of time,” Ruan Xian urged him.
Not far away, R-α had already broken free from the shackles of the tree trunk. Without M-α as an aid, she made a rather wise decision—turn offense into defense and fight a war of attrition.
The mechanical nerve disruptor was gone. Tang Yibu silently threw a compressed piece of clothing to Ruan Xian. In order to save space, the materials weren’t sturdy, but at most it could at least cover him up and keep him warm. The style was also simple, much like a wide, straight nightgown.
As soon as Ruan Xian put it on his body, blood soaked through the white cloth and the fabric stuck to his skin.
At the same time, R-α rushed straight towards Tang Yibu, continuously spewing out red mist from its mouth and nose. Their short break was over. Ruan Xian stood up and squeezed the metal fragment in his hands tightly. Tang Yibu took the blood bottle and confronted the woman that was rushing at him head on.
…It shouldn’t be his illusion. Ruan Xian felt that Tang Yibu was deliberately taking R-α away from him and left him with the iron bead.
The iron bead was covered with slimy blood all over and seemed incredibly frightened. Its big mouth opened and closed, but it couldn’t even make its gwah sound.
“You can go.” He didn’t know if the iron bead could understand him, but he still spoke. “Our next path will be very dangerous. π, you can go back to your original place. When things are completely resolved, Yibu and I will pick you up.”
As he spoke, Ruan Xian squatted down and petted the blood-stained shell of the iron bead.
Ironically, the first twenty years of his life seemed as if he was living in a bubble. No matter who he was with, he was separated by a colorful film. The world outside the film had always been irrelevant to him, but in the chaos of the last few months, he was able to really touch it—Ruan Xian could at least be sure that his feelings for this inexplicable little thing far exceeded those of the colleagues he had known before.
The iron bead looked at Ruan Xian in confusion. It finally let out a bark, stretched out its four legs, and tightly grabbed onto Ruan Xian’s ankles.
Ruan Xian laughed. “…As you wish.”
Not far away, R-α also opened its mouth.
“Ruan Lijie is equipped with the S-type Prototype,” she said. “No wonder you value him so much.”
Then she showed a bright smile. “My DNA provider’s name is Ruan Yuchan, which is really interesting. Is this a coincidence? They all happen to be surnamed Ruan and all have good compatibility with the S-type products? As far as I know…”
She gave a pause as her eyes relaxed for a second. When she raised her eyes again, Tang Yibu realized that something about her had changed…
“As far as I know, S-type primers have a very high affinity for a specific gene fragment, but those gene fragments are too messy and rare. I thought at first that this was some kind of coincidence caused by its structure.”
“…MUL-01.” Tang Yibu took a step back.
In order to facilitate control, these veteran soldiers had cybernetic brains, or at least some of them did. Right now, MUL-01 had personally taken control. Tang Yibu knew that it was MUL-01 when he saw something familiar in the other person’s eyes—although those eyes looked like Mr. Ruan’s, they resembled more like his own.
“Ruan Lijie is a relative of Ruan Yuchan.” The Mainbrain calmly concluded. “Ruan Yuchan is an only child. Her parents are dead, and she has no siblings. According to medical records, she gave birth to a baby boy. According to the information protection law at the time, after she committed suicide, her son’s information was completely sealed.”
Tang Yibu’s gaze wandered around the opponent’s neck, desperately thinking about offensive methods in his mind. The Mainbrain looked relaxed and at ease, and didn’t even look at the pool of blood and rotten meat that was M-α.
“But it wasn’t just an ordinary archive. Even I can’t access the original files. Someone must have completely erased them before I was created. However, it must be assumed that Ruan Lijie is her son or grandson, but the age isn’t right. Well, unless her son has been dormant for a period of time. This is an issue worth investigating… In sort, NUL-00, you have found yourself a good tool.”
“You should call me ‘brother’.” Tang Yibu pointed out with a sullen face, then directly attack R-α’s neck. The Mainbrain raised its eyebrows and escaped the blow with some difficulty.
“I’m not good at sports, so I don’t intend to fight you.”
MUL-01 ignored Tang Yibu’s response. Its shell was currently a beautiful woman that was smiling softly.
“You just deliberately lure R-α away. If Ruan Lijie is really Ruan Yuchan’s son, guess how he would react?”
Tang Yibu was startled, but this distraction almost killed him. After MUL-01 operated on the exoskeleton, blood mist suddenly filled the area within a radius of five meters. Tang Yibu’s skin was rapidly festering all over his body. Without hesitation, he immediately drank the blood Ruan Xian gave him.
Before he could regain his ability to move, MUL-01 had already rushed to Ruan Xian.
Even if Ruan Xian’s information was sealed, there was a lot of information about Ruan Yuchan—her physical appearance as she was walking down the street, the images from where she worked and rested, and even all the communications she had with others. Even with the elimination of Ruan Xian’s name, voice, and images, the vast majority of that content was still there. The Mainbrain didn’t know Ruan Xian’s real name, but he knew everything about “Ruan Yuchan” herself.
The smiling woman stretched out a hand to Ruan Xian, and in less than a second, her temperament, tone, and movements all changed.
“What, don’t you recognize your mother?”
Ruan Xian didn’t make a sound; he just looked at the approaching person steadily. The iron bead was barking frantically, opening its mouth wide as it tried to bite the woman’s calf. As a result, as soon as it rolled a few steps, it was held back by Ruan Xian.
Ruan Xian slowly straightened up and didn’t say a word.
“Why did you go out? Didn’t you say you’d stay inside? The wind is so cold, and our family can’t afford it if you catch a cold… I’ll make you a glass of milk later, okay?”
Tang Yibu struggled to stand up. His skin was still recovering—his fleshy, bright red muscles were exposed, and he couldn’t stop twitching.
Will Mr. Ruan be confused? Will the information be exposed? Will he go with her? He never asked about Ruan Xian’s past in detail… As far as Tang Yibu knew, judging by common sense, Tang Yibu would be shaken by the scene in front of him—the imitation of the Mainbrain was like a sharp awl, directly hitting the most fragile poisonous sore of the human heart.
Tang Yibu grabbed a branch to use as a walking stick and stumbled in Ruan Xian’s direction. Ruan Xian’s blood was almost exhausted. He should keep his distance and wait for his state to recover and get resupplied first. Rational judgement screamed inside his head, but Tang Yibu couldn’t control his feet—with burning pain, he dragged himself towards Ruan Xian.
He had to tell Mr. Ruan that that thing in front of him was the Mainbrain.
Tang Yibu’s thoughts were blank. The appearance of Ruan Xian being chewed up just now had shaken him. Many emotions were mixed into a ball, and in the end, only a short sentence was squeezed out.
He had to give his warning in time. That wasn’t his mother’s personality data or anything of the like…
In Tang Yibu’s somewhat blurred vision, the Mainbrain had reached out a hand and stroked Ruan Xian’s cheek. Ruan Xian’s expression was quite complicated as he raised a hand and covered the woman’s hand on his cheek.
“Mom is still confused about the current situation. Is this the woods? It could be a side effect of the medication. Let’s go home fist.” The imitation of the Mainbrain was working.
Ruan Xian’s expressions seemed to soften. He looked at her sadly and held her hand tightly. Tang Yibu panted, gritted his teeth, and tried to rush over…
Ruan Xian was moved.
Ruan Xian tightened his grip on the woman’s wrist with one hand and pulled her towards him while the other hand held a sharp metal fragment that was jammed directly into her eye socket, right to where the cybernetic brain was. The entire process was lightning fast, and the action was clean and smooth.
Tang Yibu swallowed hard. He wasn’t sure if he should keep moving.
“This is your judgment, MUL-01?” The complicated emotions on Ruan Xian’s face disappeared. “I wanted my mother’s affirmation? Or, her love? Do you think I’ll be shaken or make a gaffe because of this?”
With the cybernetic brain damaged, R-α fell softly to the ground.
“…Abnormal…Unsound personality…” The woman spat out fragmented words inarticulately.
“I know,” Ruan Xian said. “But someone told me I’m just a little dull. Your trick might have been useful a few months ago, but unfortunately I have figured it out now.”
MUL-01 looked at Ruan Xian up and down. Because the brain was severely damaged, the eyes on its body was recovering very slowly. Ruan Xian took two steps forward, half kneeling on the ground while half hugging the person in front of him.
“You want my emotional response. I can tell you.” He hugged the woman tightly in his arms. “My mother loved me, then hated me. I don’t agree with her approach, but I can understand part of it… Now I forgive her, and I forgive myself.”
“And she’s been dead for a long time. I don’t need to ask anything from the dead,” he continued, as he whispered in her ears. “I like the way I look now. Even if I want to change it a little, it’s so I can be better for someone.”
Finally, he smiled. “So I won’t let a mere fake get in the way. If you continue to use your ‘normal’ standard calculations… What a pity…”
Ruan Xian’s voice was as calm as always.
“…Someone has to teach you what an ‘exception’ means.”
As a result, before Ruan Xian finished speaking, the woman’s head was disconnected from her neck—guessing Ruan Xian’s series of actions, Tang Yibu didn’t miss this great opportunity. While Ruan Xian tightly controlled the opponent and distracted MUL-01 with his dialogue, Tang Yibu attacked directly from behind.
Without leaving any breathing time for the enemy, he suddenly crushed the beautiful head and the cybernetic brain.
“Eat it all.” After confirming that there were no pieces of flesh on it, Tang Yibu grinned and ordered the iron bead. The iron bead gave an aggrieved groan and began to swallow parts of the cybernetic brain that were crushed.
Blood splattered on Ruan Xian’s face, which didn’t change his appearance much since he was already covered in R-α’s blood.
After dealing with R-α, Tang Yibu rubbed himself against Ruan Xian, carefully looking at the other side. The skin on his calves and abdomen hadn’t fully restored yet, but he had no intention of rushing over to ask for blood.
“…What are you looking at?” Ruan Xian retracted his gaze from the iron bead that was struggling to eat. “Come here, I’ll heal your wounds.”
Tang Yibu’s gaze slowly slipped to the metal fragment in Ruan Xian’s hand. Ruan Xian glanced at him amusedly, then threw the fragment away, but Tang Yibu still didn’t approach.
“Don’t want to be healed? We’ll see how far you can go like this, and I’ll see how you can endure getting into a bath. You can’t stay like that for long, you know.”
“The Mainbrain isn’t actually completely wrong, right?” Tang Yibu circled around Ruan Xian within two steps away. “I guess you’re still a bit sad, just a bit.”
“If it was me, even if I know the other party isn’t you, I will logically know the appropriate method and be able to execute it… But as far as I’m concerned, I would still be a little sad.” Tang Yibu stopped. He covered his stomach and hissed as he drew in a few cold breaths. “I don’t know if you’ll be hurt by this, even if you seem… to have forgotten about it. I mean, I think it’s necessary to confirm.”
“Come here.” Ruan Xian opened his arms.
The corner of Tang Yibu’s eyes lingered on the metal fragment that was thrown away as he moved slowly over. This time it was Ruan Xian who held him in his arms—even if his posture was a bit awkward because of his height.
“You…” Tang Yibu still intended to ask questions, but when he opened his mouth, he was deeply kissed. The kiss was strong and tasted of blood. Ruan Xian must’ve bitten his tongue, creating an extremely deep wound.
Tang Yibu held his breath and swallowed the blood. He gently hugged Ruan Xian’s back and patted him soothingly.
“Mr. Ruan, don’t worry. I won’t dislike you.” When Tang Yibu moved his lips away, he declared this firmly and gently kissed Ruan Xian’s eyes.
Ruan Xian was originally using deep breaths to adjust his emotions but ended up literally choking on his own mouthful of blood and started coughing.
“I’m not as bad as you.” Ruan Xian suddenly lost the desire to think. He wiped the blood from his lips. “Alright. Escape quickly—supplies, clothes, food. In addition, we have to find a place to shower. Oh, and…”
“I was a little sad just now.” Ruan Xian smiled at Tang Yibu. “That’s a good answer, Yibu.”
In another stronghold far away, Yu Le’s night wasn’t very pleasant.
Ji Xiaoman, who had pretended to surrender, succeeded in staying, but she had never been very good at acting and couldn’t talk endlessly. The main lobbyist was still Yu Le’s “sister”. Although Ji Xiaoman didn’t touch her, she also guessed that it was another projected image.
She had to give Yu Le a good boost. In short, they needed to survive this wave first. The Mainbrain’s last resort was to crush their brains. It was impossible to do things like an overnight interrogation given their weakened state, and it wouldn’t rashly inject foreign memories. Only nerve pain and emotional control could be manipulated.
One more second longer is another second passing. If their plans went awry, it would take a while for reinforcements to arrive.
Ji Xiaoman touched the shoulder of her prosthetic limb. The raspberry pattern was still firmly glued to it, hidden under the epaulettes of the Order Supervisors. She couldn’t help looking at Yu Le, but Yu Le no longer looked at her, trying his best to avoid all eye contact.
He just stared at the “sister” in front of him, as blue veins pulsed on his forehead.
“We can also talk about other topics, such as the days you spent in the Sea of Ruins,” The woman’s phantom said. “Sister is very happy. After all, if there was no Mainbrain, you might’ve been executed… Haa, the original matter was also very troublesome, Lazy Fish. You should know the irrationality of the previous era better than anyone else. As long as it’s humans who rule, these implied injustices will never disappear.
“Oh, so you chose to be raised equally by ‘something else’.” Yu Le rolled his eyes at the void, obviously still angry. “Awesome, this makes me very convinced.”
“What kind gamble are you taking? I don’t know how many times I’ve scolded you for this before. If you don’t know how to hold your temper, you won’t find a good girl.”
“No, no, no, I never get angry in front of a good girl. The question is, are you? Ah? Is it that cool to pretend to be someone’s relative?”
The virtual shadow frowned. “Lazy Fish…”
“Don’t call me that.”
“…Forget it, let’s continue to talk about the Sea of Ruins. Your deputy captain seems to be Tu Rui?”
“Fuck, you guys are really doing this shit!” Yu Le struggled violently, causing the locks on his wrists and ankles to rattle.
“Before you left, Duan Lili’s successor was already in place.” The young girl’s projection shook her head gently. “Although the Sea of Ruins is more difficult to observe, we still have basic information. For example, how Tang Yibu and Ruan Lijie got on your ship. As long as you have the heart, you can always get information… People in the ruins like to get together, you know.”
“Going through so many hoops and hurdles and getting jack shit.”
“Miss Ji is here. We still want to communicate with you in the gentlest way first. So, Lazy Fish, let’s talk.”
The phantom pulled up a small light screen with two sketch-like drawings on it.
One looked like a snake, and the other side had a stickman drawn on it.
This chapter is both physically and mentally regarding Ruan Xian’s scars healing.
For those who forgot, the sketch that Yu Le’s sister pulled up was what he drew when he admitted them into his ship before the disinfection.