Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 227: Long Time, No See
MUL-01 had no emotions. It was better to say that it had basically no emotions.
The body of MUL-01 was the size of a cathedral. From a distance, countless normal-shaped black metal blocks were suspended in the air, forming a huge black rectangle. The palm-sized box-shaped metal rotated regularly, with a fluorescent blue shimmer between each connecting joint. They were flowing, changing, and lined up in various queues, with countless calculations constantly being made in each black box.
The cybernetic brain is the core of this huge structure. It was also placed in a black box that was larger than the surrounding blocks. This difference was negligible given the size of MUL-01’s “body”. They rotated quietly from sunrise to sunset, adjusting their heat dissipation in the vast desert.
This modern miracle transmitted information to all parts of the world through various channels.
Countless projections of the Mainbrain roamed around command posts in cities and the wilderness, doing different things, making different voices at the same time… and wearing different faces.
At the same time, it also needed to calculate the needs and problems of each Mainbrain city around the world; the summary report of each petri dish, the supervision and adjustment of the climate and environment of each continent, and all aspects of data operations. The lower-level hardware and Order Supervisors would sift through the insignificant things and then report eligible incidents, but it was still a terrifying amount of data.
In a sense, MUL-01 was the only helmsman of this weak crust on the Earth.
It would never tire and naturally wouldn’t stop calculating. The body of MUL-01 lay quietly on the edge of the desert in this way, operating as usual. Compared with those realistic projections, this was more like a virtual scene.
This monster, which hadn’t changed its form, was surrounded by the most advanced fortifications on the surface. It shrank in its safe shell while only the ghost of data travelled in and out.
For example, like now.
MUL-01 would always have a projection at the Order Supervisors headquarters so that orders could be given in a timely manner. At the moment, the projection was sitting at the edge of the table listening to Zhuo Muran’s report. Outside the spacious glass office, Order Supervisors scurry about, and from time to time, some would cast curious glances in their direction.
“…Ruan Xian is very careful. Our people could only find so much. There’s no problem with the information given by Ruan Lijie. Ruan Xian indeed intends to attack you through system invasion by perfecting an attack class machine.”
Zhuo Muran ignored the glances. The glass wall was set up to disrupt programs, and the people outside couldn’t hear them or read their lips.
“But as for the content of the attack program and the time point at which it’s planned to be executed, our people haven’t determined it yet. On this point, I actually have a question.”
“Speak.” The tone of the Mainbrain’s projection was relaxed.
“The informant from our side heard that the behavior of NUL-00 and Ruan Lijie was at the behest of Ruan Xian, which doesn’t make sense—NUL-00’s behavior can be considered reckless. With Professor Ruan starting his plan, he wouldn’t stick someone into our base to steal our program at such a time.”
Zhuo Muran took a sip of his cold tea.
“Instead of spending time deciphering our unfinished search methods, they should focus all their technical talents on attacking us… Even if we complete the search technology, it will take a lot more time to investigate every corner of the world. If he were to steal our firewall data, that I can understand, but the information dissemination algorithm? I can’t see the purpose of this arrangement.”
“It is really strange.” The projection of the Mainbrain nodded. “The timing isn’t right, and it doesn’t make sense for NUL-00 to come to his rescue alone. That information isn’t worth the price. But this time, we did lose M-α and R-α. Considering Ruan Lijie’s S-type Prototype, Ruan Xian might have made other arrangements.”
The Mainbrain’s tone was still flat. Zhuo Muran had never seen it reveal any negative emotions. All of its humanized actions were most likely just acting. However, even knowing it in his heart, he couldn’t help but relax when facing such an existence.
“I have already sent the information about the battle to the technical department.” Zhuo Muran gazed at the contours of the other’s pleasant facial features for a while. “They will transform M-β and R-β in response to the situation that had occurred. This time, the security breach is very serious, and it must not occur again.”
“Very good.” The Mainbrain smiled. “What about Ruan Lijie’s identity?”
“Hu Shuli has confirmed that Ruan Lijie is indeed Ruan Yuchan’s son, but apart from Ruan Lijie’s fake identity, we couldn’t find any other clues.”
“Let Hu Shuli study the gene fragments of the S-type Prototype affinity and compare them with the disease Ruan Xian suffered.” The Mainbrain tilted its head slightly and pondered for a while. “In addition, give Fan Linsong a brain-awakening drug. I’ll visit him in person in three days.”
“You…What does this mean?” Zhuo Muran was taken aback by the subtext of these two requirements.
The Mainbrain suspected that Ruan Lijie was related to Ruan Xian? Although this barely made sense in theory, they all knew that Ruan Xian was a replica and that his parents’ memories were forged. As for Ruan Xian’s biological parents… According to Fan Linsong, Ruan Xian was abandoned by them due to his illness when he was young, so the relevant departments didn’t have records of his biological family.
This was contrary to Ruan Yuchan’s situation.
If Fan Linsong had lied to the outside world, it wasn’t incomprehensible—the original Ruan Xian was a figure who was watched by the Prevention Agency. As his watcher, it would make sense for Fan Linsong to keep Ruan Xian’s true situation a secret.
No matter how justified it may seem, the old man still didn’t think killing the “original Ruan Xian” was something to be proud of. After all, this happened before the birth of the Mainbrain. If that video hadn’t happened to be uploaded to Ruan Xian’s laptop, even MUL-01 wouldn’t have notice the truth.
Zhuo Muran’s fingers twitched as they were holding the teacup.
In other words, there was the possibility that Ruan Xian was Ruan Yuchan’s son, given their age difference, but what would this young version of “Ruan Lijie” mean…
“In order to avoid being used by me, Ruan Xian and Fan Linsong both disguise their DNA.” The Mainbrain seemed to see through Zhuo Muran’s thoughts. “But Ruan Xian’s condition is special. His illness is quite serious, so he must have left a lot of tissue samples before 2100. In order to properly harness the S-type Prototype, the possibility exists that he may have cloned himself.”
“But if this is the case, Ruan Lijie must have been instilled with memories. If this matter is exposed, Ruan Xian is destined to lose his prestige among the rebels. The rebels will only accept reproduction of the physical body at most. If memories were to be inputted…”
“Then it’s no different from what I’m doing.”
The Mainbrain finished the sentence smoothly.
“But in order to win, this possibility isn’t zero. Ruan Xian is crazier than you think. I know him—Ruan Lijie is a character who has only appeared in recent months. From his appearance, his encounter with NUL-00, to the current attack plan from Ruan Xian, most likely he is part of Ruan Xian’s plan.”
“In other words, even if we break the news now…”
“The rebels won’t have time to react. Since they were defeated last time, their contact hasn’t been frequent, and it takes time for dissatisfaction to ferment. Depending on their plan, it will start within 45 days at the latest, and we don’t have enough time.”
Thinking like this, Ruan Lijie may indeed be one of Ruan Xian’s bets where he had abandoned his bottom line.
“But this only holds true on the premise that ‘Ruan Xian is Ruan Yuchan’s son’, a conclusion that still needs to wait for Hu Shuli’s results. I will also visit Fan Linsong when he is ready to determine the issues involved.”
…But Zhuo Muran thought to himself that something wasn’t quite right.
When the Red Ghost made a scene at the Glass Conservatory, he once showed Fan Linsong an image of Ruan Lijie. What was his reaction at that time?
The old man seemed a little surprised.
[“It seems that you have a little impression of this one.] was what he asked at the time.
[He looks a lot like a woman I have met… But that was many years ago.] was Fan Linsong’s reply.
“Compare the appearance of Ruan Lijie and the R series soldiers,” Zhuo Muran immediately ordered.
A light screen floated between the two of them, showing two young faces. Ruan Lijie and Ruan Yuchan were both stunning. When compared side by side in this way, their eyes were particularly similar, and not in the sense of simple coincidence.
Fan Linsong knew Ruan Yuchan.
That old man had previously devoted all his time to research, so he turned a deaf ear to things outside. Ruan Yuchan’s death wasn’t hyped by the media because it involved a minor and wasn’t a murder case. It was highly unlikely Fan Linsong knew about this case in the media and due to their class and occupation, there was no possibility of a personal friendship.
…It seemed that the Mainbrain’s speculation wasn’t so far off. This would also explain Ruan Lijie’s outstanding talent.
But if this was really Ruan Xian’s clone, the relationship between Ruan Lijie and NUL-00 was interesting. Zhuo Muran thought for a moment. Even if he was loyal to the Mainbrain, he wouldn’t do such a thing as “instigating his own clone to fall in love with his own creation”.
His opponent may be really crazy.
Zhuo Muran tensed his face. Under the Mainbrain’s searching gaze, he transferred all the records of the day he visited Fan Linsong and watched it together with the Mainbrain.
Then he saw the part he hadn’t noticed at the beginning—after he had determined Ruan Lijie’s condition and turned to leave, the old man had a smile that gave people the chills.
[The demon can’t be killed… And he’s just right for this world.] Fan Linsong had said, in an almost inaudible voice.
The Order Supervisor that was monitoring him had judged this as Fan Linsong’s usual gibberish, but combined with the current situation, this sentence didn’t seem to be so delusional.
“It seems that it’s more necessary for me to meet him.” The smile on the Mainbrain’s face completely disappeared.
“This statement…” Zhuo Muran slowly reacted. “Shouldn’t it mean the original Ruan Xian has returned…?”
“The possibility is infinitely close to zero.” The Mainbrain interrupted him. “That Ruan Xian’s body was thrown into a batch of experimental α-092-30. It stands to reason the body would have been destroyed long ago.”
The rules of the Institute had always been cumbersome, and the destruction department had only ever had two cases of anomaly. The first time wasn’t long after the Institute was established, and the second time was on the day NUL-00 was destroyed. The Mainbrain had investigated the data of that day and concluded the anomaly was most likely caused by NUL-00. It resumed operation for some reason found a way to confuse the relevant staff, and escape from the Institute—since NUL-00 was still alive, the Mainbrain could only accept this hypothesis.
At that time, NUL-00 couldn’t access all the information of the institute, which was an iron-clad rule that couldn’t be violated. In other words, it was impossible for it to know about Fan Linsong’s “murder-style treatment” of Ruan Xian, so there was no reason it would intervene in this matter.
On the edge of the distant desert, a group of black cubes that looked like hills quickly turned. In front of Zhuo Muran, the soft-faced young man pressed his finger to his lower lip.
Countless possibilities had been added to the calculation.
Taking a step back, even if the waste liquid containing Ruan Xian’s body was somehow, by chance, wasn’t destroyed, the war that occurred in the 22nd century had destroyed almost all the Institute. The vast majority of waste liquid silos were damaged and buried in the soil. Moist soil would naturally corrode the containers, which meant the final destination of that waste liquid would be deep in the ground.
Going even further, the waste liquid warehouse where Ruan Xian was located wasn’t damaged by the war but was buried in ruins. Without a considerable degree of force, the liquid bins wouldn’t open.
Even if there was some kind of accidental event, and the waste liquid warehouse was stimulated unexpectedly somehow, it was difficult for Ruan Xian, who was unprotected and knew nothing about the current situation, to survive. In the end α-092-30 was a test product. Even if it allowed his body to polymerize for a short time, that body would eventually collapse in less than a day.
No matter how the Mainbrain calculated it, the possibility was basically zero.
“Only results are the most convincing.” Zhuo Muran shook his head at what the Mainbrain was going to say. “As I said, when the results from Hu Shuli’s investigation and the interrogation of Fan Linsong come out, it won’t be too late to draw a conclusion.”
“Won’t it be too late in time?”
“Looking at Ruan Xian’s plan, we can still afford to wait for a few days. Don’t worry. I’ll tentatively add the assumption that “Ruan Lijie is Ruan Xian” to the calculation.”
Zhuo Muran let out a long sigh. “…You never seem to be surprised.”
The Mainbrain showed an inquisitive look.
“Nevermind.” Zhuo Muran shook his head. “I thought you would be at least a little shaken by such an assumption.”
“Why would you have such an idea?”
“According to the records and conditions over the years, Ruan Xian can be regarded as the human you care about the most.” Zhuo Muran raised his eyes, not intending to conceal his thoughts. “And NUL-00’s situation is—”
“NUL-00 and I are just similar in our core logic.”
The Mainbrain showed a perfect smile again.
“…Those thoughts are just your delusions, Mr. Zhuo. There has only been one bug in my emotional computing system, and that has already been fixed by Ruan Xian himself.”
On the other side of the horizon, the Glass Conservatory ushered in another early morning.
Fan Linsong drooped his eyelids and rubbed against the table like a zombie, ready to eat his breakfast. Everything around him was the same as always… but…
The mechanical maid who poured tea beside him was behaving a little differently than usual.
…Was he so bored that it had reached this point? The corner of Fan Linsong’s mouth twitched.
However, after the mechanical maid poured his tea, she opened her mouth.
“Mr. Fan,” she said with a smile. “Long time, no see.”
“We’re back from hell.”