Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 22: A Dark Hound
“Withdraw quickly!” Zhang Yazhe reacted quickly and pulled Chi Lei, who was frozen from shock.
“Lao Zhang, did you see Lao Zhang?! Fuck me!”
“Yes, I saw it. You’re not crazy. We have to go,” Zhang Yazhe roared as he knocked the suitcase to the ground. “Xiao Ding is still waiting over there! Look at the situation. Do you really want to talk here?”
Chi Lei’s eyes flushed, and he shivered and cursed again. He finally glanced at the creepy storage area and followed in Zhang Yazhe’s footsteps. The hissing sound of gas rushed into the space was ringing out from all sides. Poisonous gas was being poured in at a rapid pace. It wasn’t advisable for them to stay there any longer.
“I didn’t hear anything. How come we were discovered?” Ding Zepeng was still guarding his old position. His face was a little pale. “Zhang Ge, Chi Ge, what should I do now?”
“Go up and hold your breath. Be careful of the poisonous gas,” Zhang Yazhe said it briefly and concisely, then he looked deeply at Chi Lei. “You go first, I’ll take the back.”
Ding Zepeng nodded. His grapple hook accurately hit a bump and was firmly hooked in place. He whizzed to the top of the hook, took out tools from his bag, and started trying to break the glass…
There was a crash and the thick glass shattered on its own. A hand pulled on Ding Zepeng and yanked him straight out the window.
“Xiao Ding, go to the bushes over there.” Ruan Xian made a quiet gesture and pointed to the bushes not far below. “I moved your hoverbike there. Don’t ask questions. Go quickly.”
Taking advantage of Ruan Xian’s command, Tang Yibu pulled up a shocked Chi Lei. The entire replication factory illuminated the nearby space as if it was daytime. The silent alarm should have spread far away. Several groups of giant machines of different shapes swayed closer, and a fleet of drones were flying their way. The blind spider machine lying on top of the city rumbled and collapsed its twelves legs, slowly descending its’ torso down to them.
“Hurry!” Chi Lei was followed by Zhang Yazhe. Ruan Xian wiped the sweat from his head. He already smelled the subtle fishiness of the poisonous gas. The last thing to be hoisted up was the auxiliary machine, which almost failed to pass through the narrow window.
Ding Zepeng quickly hid in the bushes as quiet as if he didn’t even exist. However, after Zhang Yazhe was dragged out, he sat on the building’s protruding slope with little intention of hiding himself.
“Split up.” Zhang Yazhe looked calm and there was no panic in his tone. “Xiao Ruan, you go with Xiao Ding and Lao Chi. I’ll take the auxiliary machine.”
Ruan Xian frowned.
“What bullshit! You think I don’t know you’re trying to play hero again?” Chi Lei also didn’t go to the bushes. He stood on the edge of the building without moving.
“…I’ll give you an explanation.” Zhang Yazhe stuffed the suitcase into Chi Lei’s arms.
“Come with us, or I’ll shoot you,” Chi Lei growled. He obediently pulled on Zhang Yazhe’s collar, and the two men slipped directly down the hook line. Upon seeing this, Tang Yibu picked up Ruan Xian and jumped to the ground.
Within a few seconds of them slipping off the roof, a few steel grippers descended and hit the destroyed window, shattering almost the entire small platform. Chi Lei’s hook lost its fixed point and fell to the ground like a dead snake. Zhang Yazhe spread his arms to protect Chi Lei’s head and the two fell heavily onto the lawn. It took them a while to recover.
Tang Yibu carried Ruan Xian on his shoulders. He straightened his upper body and pulled out his blood gun and shot straight into the joints of the steel gripper. After a burst of sparks, the steel gripper finally stopped moving.
As soon as he put away his gun, he cast a meaningful look at Zhang Yazhe.
At this moment, Ruan Xian didn’t intend to continue to hide his strength. The current situation was dangerous, and any little deliberate concealment could be fatal. If things had gone well for the three of them, it would be fine, but now that there was a change and he had already revealed himself, naturally he would not return to the refuge.
Without escaping Zhang Yazhe’s scrutiny, Ruan Xian smiled at him.
Seeing that the target was away from the building, bombs followed. Chi Lei pulled Zhang Yazhe forward and hid behind a rock. Tang Yibu and Ruan Xian dove directly into the nearest ditch as the wind roared past the two of them.
The four of them didn’t wait for the second wave of bombing. When the giant bomb-throwing machine moved its muzzle, everyone rushed to the bushes as bullet from the drones rained down on their heels.
“Xiao Ding, catch.” After confirming that Zhang Yazhe was still around, Chi Lei threw the suitcase containing the internal organs to Ding Zepeng. The machines were hurtling towards him, so he activated another batch of infrared camouflage and threw four small metal boxes around. About eight drones circled above their heads, ready to shoot.
Bombs. The flame raised by the bombs burned higher and the hot and murky air was no longer suitable for breathing. In the burning fire, Chi Lei’s lips trembled, and his face was covered with dirt and sweat. He tried to step on the hoverbike, but his legs were shaking so badly that he only succeeded after four attempts.
“Let’s go,” he chanted dreamily, not even bothering to investigate why Ruan Xian was here. “We need to leave, quickly.”
“Lao Chi, you and Xiao Ruan cover Xiao Ding. You guys take the other way and go straight back to the refuge. I’ll go around the Wild Cemetery side.” The silver moonlight poured down, slightly reddened by the flames. Zhang Yazhe was unusually calm in the chaos.
The auxiliary machine was firmly fixed by him in the backseat of the hoverbike, and the gun swayed following the drones in the air. Then it seemed to have received some instructions, and a green circle of light flashed, creating virtual images of the other two hoverbike behind Zhang Yazhe’s hoverbike.
In the virtual image, Ding Zepeng sat in the back seat of Chi Lie, while Tang Yibu took Ruan Xian. It was exactly the same as their current vehicle allocation.
“Zhang Yazhe!” Chi Lei’s voice was shrill.
“The Wild Cemetery covers a large area, and its signal blind zone are particularly strong. These things are stupid and will think you went into camouflage. Lao Chi, you’re not in good condition and I’m most familiar with the Wild Cemetery— We’re all adult. You know this is the most reasonable.”
“If you die, I’ll definitely dig up your body and cut it to pieces again.” Chi Lei’s voice was hoarse as if it had been grounded by sandpaper.
“Alright. When I get pass the signal blind zone, we’ll talk.”
“If you’re spouting bullshit, I’ll kick your ass when I see you.” Chi Lei started his hoverbike and pointed to the hoverbike in the dark forest. His voice had changed a little. Ding Zepeng, who was sitting in the back of the car, stretched his body. He looked like he wanted to say something but stopped. In the end he didn’t say a single word.
Zhang Yazhe smiled and looked at Ruan Xian who quickly jumped out of the back seat of the car. “Xiao Ruan has something to say?”
“Zhang Ge—” Ruan Xian wrung out the water in the corner of his clothes and took a few steps closer, but just a few seconds after he spoke, he was directly interrupted by the other party.
“Looking at this, it’s you who guided Tian He to see me, right? There are quite a few people who have access to my signature, but I know in my heart.” Zhang Yazhe stroked his beard and lowered his voice so that only Ruan Xian could hear. “Although I don’t have much evidence… I’ll bet on it. I won’t ask who you are. Thank you for your help, Xiao Ruan.”
Ruan Xian understood the words that the other party didn’t say. The black box couldn’t leave a record in a signal blind zone. No matter what identity he gave, “tomorrow’s Zhang Yazhe” would not remember his answer.
Looking at the smiling face of the person in front of him, the dark anger surged in his heart again. Ruan Xian gasped a few hard breaths before he suppressed the sticky cold emotions.
“Zhang Ge, you know very well the Mainbrain can choose to silence you just to simply and crudely eliminate the possibility of you spreading panic. If everyone goes back safely and the plan is successful, I think it will give priority to observing whether there are signs of chaos in the refuge— There are people who already know about it. As long as you continue to remain silent, it will not wipe out the entire refuge for no reason,” Ruan Xian whispered quickly. “Don’t give up too early, okay?”
Tian He knew about it, and so did Guan Haiming, but MUL-01 didn’t respond. It wasn’t that it didn’t allow a few humans to know the truth— As long as it was sure they were still trying to maintain this false peace. The problem only arose if it was “spoken”.
“Don’t worry. Don’t look at me like this. I’m quite afraid of pain.”
“Zhang Ge, why don’t you come with us. I’ll try my best—”
“Xiao Ruan, I can see that you’re a smart person.” Zhang Yazhe shrugged. “Do you think it’ll be safter for you guys if I lure these pieces of junk away?”
“In theory, but…”
“That’s not it. I have already decided. I don’t mind being copied, but I don’t know what Lao Chi and Xiao Ding will think. In any case, it’s good if they suffer a little less.”
Zhang Yazhe stretched out his hand and rubbed Ruan Xian’s hair.
“Since you jumped out to help and knew the truth, whether you intend to return to the refuge or not… You’re a good kid. Have a safe trip.”
The other party’s palm was big and warm, and it only made Ruan Xian’s heart sour.
Zhang Yazhe smiled spontaneously, started his hoverbike, and waved his hands at them. He then rushed straight to the direction of the Wild Cemetery like a phantom. Chi Lei gritted his teeth and led Tang Yibu the other way. Ruan Xian hugged Tang Yibu’s waist tightly. The other party’s temperature came through his wet clothes, and he was suddenly hit by fatigue.
Zhang Yazhe’s judgement was correct. After a brief hesitation, most of the drones and four-legged machines followed him.
[Lao Chi…] After driving for about twenty-five minutes, accompanied by the sound of shooting and explosion, Zhang Yazhe’s voice came from the electronic wristband. It seemed that he had thrown them off after passing the signal blind zone.
“You shithead.” Chi Lei’s voice trembled a little. Ding Zepeng sat in the backseat in silence as his feet tightly wrapped around the stirrups. His left arm held the suitcase tightly while his right held a gun; the knuckles were completely white.
[Since you have seen it all, I’ll need to explain. After all, when I lead the refuge, you will definitely be indispensable. Xiao Ding, this topic is actually not suitable for you, if you—]
“I want to know,” Ding Zepeng murmured in a low voice.
[Alright.] Zhang Yazhe’s breathing was short. They didn’t know if he was injured. [Lao Chi, you can talk to Xiao Ding later. Let me make the long story short— Our refuge has always been an observation room for MUL-01. It keeps us like bonsai trees for research and would prune us from time to time. If someone with adequate abilities dies outside, they will be stuffed back with a clone to ensure the refuge can last.]
“…You’re crazy,” Chi Lei sai numbly. “Impossible. If Professor Ruan knew… No, he clearly said…”
He didn’t go on. Ding Zepeng sat in the back seat in a daze as if he had become a woodcarving.
Maybe he knew what Chi Lei wanted to say, Ruan Xian thought. The “Ruan Xian” in the wheelchair said, “Don’t give up, hope is still there.” He also said, “Please believe that you’re very important.”
The tone of the voice was resounding, with a magic that could soothed the heart. It was a beautiful picture that covered the hideous bloodstain and cracked bullet holes of the wall, but it won’t make them disappear.
Chi Lei didn’t say anything. He was no longer trembling. He was just horribly quiet as tears kept following down his cheeks.
[Lao Chi, are you still listening?]
[In short, that’s it. My pursuers weren’t very strong. I was able to get rid of them after a while.] In the strange rumble, Zhang Yazhe’s voice was weak but held a smile. [I’ll going to the signal blind zone in the Wild Cemetery. See you tomorrow at the refuge!]
Communication was interrupted.
“I recognize that sound.” Tang Yibu broke the silence. “That’s the latest type— Ouch, Mr. Ruan, don’t pinch my waist.”
“…Stop talking. I beg you.” Ruan Xian gritted his teeth.
“Okay.” The android snapped his mouth shut.
Chi Lei didn’t respond and remained terribly quiet. He was still guiding them accurately. Except for his breathing and heartbeat, he was almost no different from a machine. Ding Zepeng bit his lower lip, trying to suppress the trembling of his body caused by his sobs.
A few kilometers away, the Wild Cemetery view was wide open. The cloudless night sky was dotted with stars.
Zhang Yazhe leaned on a concrete slab. He tilted his head and looked at the last tracking machine in front of him. It was approaching, intending to give him a final blow.
“You got tricked and followed me here, stupid thing. Can’t get in touch with the outside world, right?” Ignoring the bullet holes in his body, Zhang Yazhe grinned, revealing his blood-stained teeth. He turned his head slightly.
Here he could see the city of artificial intelligence not far away. The thing that resembled a daddy long-legs was still descending to the ground, leaving an uncomfortable and weird silhouette in the night.
“Ugh, I might have dreamed about this scene.”
Zhang Yazhe dumped out all the energy cans in his waist pack in front of him. He ripped open the packaging of a button bomb and paused for a few seconds with his eyes locked on the food cannister on his chest.
“…It’s a pity about this can,” he murmured before closing his eyes.
A searing white light tore through the night. The powerful explosion blew the moose-sized dangerous machine to pieces. The drones that have lost their target turned around like a headless fly for a while before flying back to the city.
Everything returned to calm.
Over the city.
“Suburban replication factory report. It’s recommended to cancel the backup correction of the organic printer. Although the backup correction can reduce the number of times the sample comes to print, there’s a hidden danger of directly exposing the storage area, which is not conducive to stability. Also, the patrol interval will be adjusted to nine minutes.”
In the “body” of the blind spider, a man who was sitting in an armchair stood up, crack his shoulders a few times, and then tapped the radar screen in front of him with his knuckles.
“Sample No. 24 Zhang Yazhe, backup refresh completed. Sample No. 29, Chi Lei, and sample No. 897, Ding Zepeng, are out of automatic pursuit range. The above two samples are ready to be refreshed manually. End of report.”
The man put on a long coat, a pitch-black half-face gas mask, as he spoke in a jarring voice.
He opened the door, and several mechanical hound dogs followed him closely.
“What a pain in the ass.” He pulled on his gloves, lowered the brim of his hat, and kicked a mechanical hound away. “Forget it. It’s also interesting to chase ‘yourself’.”
So many twists and turns that I have no idea WTF is going on anymore.
This is the last of the free chapters on jjwxc. If you’ve been enjoying the novel so far and are able to, please consider supporting the author by buying the raws. I used google chrome with their auto translate and this guide on how to buy novels on jjwxc. Remember, only with your (financial) support can artists continue to produce more great works.