Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 232: Bad News
Ji Xiaoman was a little confused.
The tone of the two people in front of her were relaxed and happy, without any sense of tension. Instead of persuading them to defeat the Mainbrain together, they were more like salesmen trying to introduce them to some store discount.
Even so, she still had chills all over her hands and feet. The cold wind in late autumn was beating against her back, and everything in front of her had a strong sense of unreality.
At first, she just wanted to go out and explore. At most, perhaps she would be exposed to some new knowledge. If she could find Ruan Xian, that would be great. Now, the goal was completed beyond the standard; she found two Ruan Xian, but unfortunately, neither of them could immediately help her.
Professor Ruan was busy dealing with the Mainbrain right now and, let alone helping, hadn’t even had time to rest. The brain in the jar was continuously rotating for nearly 24 hours a day. She also had no friendship with Professor Ruan, so Ji Xiaoman didn’t believe that the other party would put aside their big plans and treat her mother wholeheartedly.
The one in front of her was even colder. With regard to whether there was a presence or absence of conscience, he was inscrutable. Considering the other party’s knowledge was also behind the times and he didn’t seem to be the gentle or responsible type, unless Ji Xiaoman had complete certainty, she didn’t want to use her mother’s cybernetic brain as a practice model for him.
As soon as they arrived at the Underground City, she dug out her mother as soon as possible, moved her to another place, and attached a timing device. When enough time passed and the Underground City was safe again, Fu Yu and K6 would receive the signal and properly preserve her mother’s body. She made all the preparations. In order to ensure that Professor Ruan would treat her mother seriously after the dust settled, Ji Xiaoman was indeed willing to contribute to the rebels’ plan against the Mainbrain.
But she was just a young girl, one who could be easily found anywhere. She didn’t have much awareness, no great ideals, and in regard to her mother’s repair, she had no bottom line.
She thought that after completing this task, her plan to gain favor would be over. Although she was regarded as a sacrificial by Professor Ruan, which made her dissatisfied, she was still alive. This favor had now become a bargaining chip that could be traded.
As for defeating the Mainbrain, she had never thought about it.
…After all, that was on the scale of fighting a God.
Ji Xiaoman thought Yu Le would probably agree. He seemed to really cherish the ship and his friends in the Sea of Ruins. The man had always been cheeky, giving off a look that suggested he didn’t take his life seriously—he would probably agree to such an exciting invitation.
Sure enough, Yu Le didn’t think for long before he nodded readily. “Well, it’s only 30 hours anyway, so long as I get to keep the ship. I’ll say this in advance, if my life is in danger, laozi will run faster than anyone else—if I die in this matter, Lao Tu and the others have wasted their efforts for nothing.”
Should she refuse? Now that she had earned a favor from Professor Ruan that was probably barely strong enough, she didn’t need to take this kind of risk. But…
“Miss Ji, I can guarantee you that you and Mr. Yu will have a way out. If this war can be ended early, you will be lauded as one of the heroes. Professor Ruan will definitely find the top experts to repair your mother. Personally, I’m also willing to learn about relevant knowledge and contribute.” Ruan Xian seemed to sense her hesitation.
“I…” Ji Xiaoman was still hesitant. “I’m not that good.”
“There is a way out” was not equivalent to “being able to return alive”. Right now, the air was filled with fire and the smell of medicine. People may not be able to save their own lives, let alone others.
Unlike Guan Haiming, she didn’t receive a top education before the doomsday. She wasn’t like Yu Le, who could grin at the world and wandered carelessly through the wind and rain. Ji Xiaoman knew better than anyone that all the knowledge she learned was stolen through picking locks. Although she was quite good at fighting, she had no experience on a great battlefield as big as this.
But no matter how she looked at it, this was a matter of righteousness. If she refused, would she become some kind of sinner?
“I—I may not be able to do it.” She flinched a little, but she didn’t know how to politely refuse such a big event. “…I don’t have any personal grudges against the Mainbrain either.”
“Okay, I understand.” Ruan Xian didn’t mean to force her. He just nodded. “Lao Yu, then pick one from the ship yourself. These are all your people, right? In short, the higher the level of the mechanic selected, the easier it is to succeed in this plan and the safer you will be. It’s best not to take it lightly… I’ll give you two ten minutes to rest. When the time comes, I’ll trouble Miss Ji to stay in the cabin.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Yu Le responded happily. Ji Xiaoman opened her mouth crampedly, but before she could speak, a big warm hand covered the top of her head.
“Little Profiteer, if you don’t want to, no one will blame you for this.”
Yu Le rubbed Ji Xiaoman’s head, but not too hard.
“Unlike me, you still have worries and you have done what you have to do. You don’t owe anyone anything. If we force you to take a risk at this moment, we will be no different than that thing—just choose the path you want to choose. Not to mention, just look at those two. Which one seems to want to make a big difference with you?”
The giant ship touched the ground and raised waves of sand and dust on both sides as it rumbled forward in the dark night. Not far away, the surveillance aircraft sent by the Order Supervisors were getting closer. They had sent out seeking missiles from time to time that hit the anti-artillery net the pirates had set up at the stern of the ship. In the faint light of the explosion, Ruan Xian and Tang Yibu were talking about something. They would smile and exchange a kiss from time to time.
“When did they become so sticky? No, I still can’t accept Xiao Ruan’s identity.” Yu Le looked at Ji Xiaoman and began to digress. “Don’t look Little Profiteer. You’ll be blind if you look again.”
“Do you have a mechanic on board?” Ji Xiaoman’s mood was still not good, and her tone had returned to its usual coldness.
“Yes, I do. His knowledge is okay. See that positioning box in the bow? He did that.”
Ji Xiaoman quickly swooped over to the vicinity of the positioning box and took a closer look. Her expression became more complicated—the maker of this box did possess technical knowledge but was definitely far worse than her.
After a while of silence, Ji Xiaoman walked slowly back to Yu Le, rolling her eyes up to look at him.
“…We’re friends,” she whispered. “Right? Don’t lie to me. This may be our last meeting.”
“What are you talking about, girl?!” Yu Le choked. “Yeah, sure. At least the kind where we will visit each other’s graves. With that many days together, even cats and dogs would develop feelings. I would sigh for those two over there if they died, so shouldn’t you be more confident?”
“Then I’d better go with you.” Ji Xiaoman lowered her head even lower. “Your mechanic’s level is really not good. If you really die because of this, I’m afraid you’ll pop out of your coffin and kill me.”
She raised her arms and rubbed the raspberry sticker under the Order Supervisor’s uniform.
“…” Yu Le sighed again. “Thanks.”
“It seems that the two of you have finished discussing.” They didn’t know when, but the two people who were kissing like fish just now had appeared. Ruan Xian smiled at Yu Le. “Let’s go.”
“You already knew she would follow?”
Ruan Xian and Tang Yibu glanced at each other. The two looked at Yu Le with a little more pity in their eyes.
“…Fuck, wait. Thinking about it, the timing was on purpose too, right? Did you guess that Lao Tu would sail the Walking Stones over in order to save me? Then you can use that to make a deal with me?” Those closely involved often couldn’t see clearly than those on the outside*, for instance, like Lao Yu right now. “We all know each other anyway, so why act so desperate?”
*(当局者迷) Idiom referring to the parties involved are overly concerned at thinking about the pros and cons, so they get confused when looking at the problem.
“It was just speculation, and they may not arrive on time.” Tang Yibu made a modest face.
“I sold such a favor and incidentally pitted the Little Profiteer. Ah, too good… Forget it. It’s better to follow you two than Professor Ruan. At least you two will pit me clearly.” Yu Le shook his head. “Say it, what’s the plan.”
Ji Xiaoman didn’t say a word. She was as silent as before but came closer in the direction of the three of them.
“We’ll speak somewhere else. It’s not safe here. Order Supervisors will catch up soon. For Tu Rui’s sake, the fewer people that know, the better.” Ruan Xian opened the light screen and quickly sent a message.
“That being said, where can we change to—who are you sending a message to?”
“Tu Rui and Zhong Qing. I have to tell Tu Rui that we’re borrowing you, so he won’t worry for the time being and can go back to the Sea of Ruins and concentrate on escaping.” Ruan Xian quickly entered the text. “Yibu, first, clean up the Order Supervisors tailing us. Remember to do it stealthily and don’t let the Mainbrain know you’re here.”
Tang Yibu ran to the stern of the ship and dismantled a missile casing, then put his upper body in it and happily played the game of “disguising himself as a missile”—the Order Supervisor’s surveillance aircraft were shot down one by one by this “missile”. Considering that there were missiles shooting all around, Tang Yibu’s disguise was indeed not conspicuous.
“…To be honest, I have already started to regret it.” Yu Le reluctantly retracted his gaze and frowned. “Zhong Qing? Didn’t we leave that kid in the Underground City?”
“Yes. He didn’t like it there very much, so he was quick to want to leave.” Seeing Tang Yibu’s figure disappear from the deck, Ruan Xian moved faster. “When I was referring to hearing a familiar engine sound, it wasn’t a threat. It’s the truth.”
“Well, he knows we have the necessary weapons. No need to take extra from the Walking Stones.” Ruan Xian looked at the message on the screen. “Let’s go, you two. Yibu, let’s go—”
The missile at the stern of the ship stretched out two long legs and happily ran back. There was a strong smell of gunpowder on his body. Tang Yibu tore open the metal casing, grabbed Yu Le with one hand and Ji Xiaoman with the other, while Ruan Xian took the initiative to hug Tang Yibu’s waist. Seeing that everything was in place, Tang Yibu jumped down from the fast-moving Walking Stones ship.
Yu Le screamed louder than Ji Xiaoman.
However, they didn’t hit the sand directly. The shell casing that Tang Yibu tore apart served as a buffer—they landed on top of the armored off-roader. The metal casing jammed into the roof, so the four of them didn’t slide off. At that moment, the armored off-roader was advancing in the same direction as the Walking Stones at a fairly high speed, so they weren’t thrown off by inertia.
“No.” Yu Le propped himself up and patted the metal roof under him numbly. “I remember that only I can drive this car.”
Probably anticipating something, there was a hint of despair in his voice.
Ji Xiaoman, as the mechanic, was the first to react. She quickly opened the car door and got into the back row. Tang Yibu and Ruan Xian followed closely.
The things in the car had been emptied by the Order Supervisors before. Although Zhong Qing brought a lot of things with him, in the end, he was still a child and didn’t know much about real combat preparation, so the number of things inside was really limited. The luggage space in the back row was a lot emptier, as it now had enough room for two more people to sit in. Ji Xiaoman went straight to the edge of the luggage area and decided to avoid the upcoming storm.
Ruan Xian and Tang Yibu unceremoniously occupied the middle row of the car. Yu Le took a while in order to collect himself before slowly climbing into the car.
Then he let out a wail.
Tiantian-Q2—or rather, A’Qiao, was holding a lollipop while sitting solemnly in the driver’s seat. The steering wheel and the palmprint scanner were violently removed. The android had connected the line to her electronic wristband and was using her cybernetic brain to control the vehicle. Depending on the degree of damage, this probably wouldn’t be repaired for a while.
The removed steering wheel lay between the two seats. Fortunately, it was thin enough in the front seats that there was space for it. Zhong Qing was sitting in the front passenger seat. When he saw everyone was together, he turned around shivering and greeted everyone with a wry smile.
“Son of a bitch, when this car stops, I’m going to fucking—”
“A’Qiao, turn on the sound insulation.” Ruan Xian gestured at her, took out a piece of candy from Tang Yibu’s backpack, and gave it to her as a reward. “Keep going west. Thank you.”
When the little girl got the chocolate candy, she turned on the sound insulation function, muting all of Yu Le’s curses.
“Now we can talk about the plan with just a few people.”
Ruan Xian peeled off another piece of chocolate candy and stuffed it into Tang Yibu’s mouth. The latter swallowed the candy and happily turned on the light screen as he took over the conversation.
“Take a closer look at this mechanical structure diagram, Miss Ji. It’s still a six-hour drive to the forest petri dish, and we have a lot of things to prepare.” With the candy in his mouth, Tang Yibu’s voice was a bit muffled.
“The forest petri dish—you mean Petri Dish No. 1306?” Yu Le was still looking distressed over the steering wheel that was violently pulled off as he drew in a big breath.
“Yes.” Ruan Xian adjusted his posture and pressed the seat adjustment button. The back of the middle row of chair lowered and connected to the seat in the back row like a bed-like plane. All four of them moved their bodies, forming an atmosphere as if they were gathered on a bed playing cards.
“Let’s talk about the bad news first—I’m sorry Mr. Yu. You can’t have both. We can protect your ship, but the car is destined to be sacrifice.”
The author has something to say:
Opponents that the Mainbrain is ready to deal with:
Determined, confident, highly obedient to command, a heroic opponent like a moth to a flame.
For example, Professor Ruan and his friends.
They are serious and upright people who have been prepared for a long time.
The opponent that the Mainbrain is actually facing:
One just wants to beat his younger brother to find a way to live; the other wants to clear the obstacles and then consider living a good life.
One reluctantly fights after thinking about it; the other works for the sake of his ship and was ready to run for his life at any time.
Behind them is a group of people who don’t know what’s going on. In short, they will go back to their homes first (……