Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 25: The Other Side of the Wall
This was the first time he had received such an evaluation.
Ruan Xian didn’t react for a moment. Tang Yibu’s face was very close, and the corners of his mouth were raised, allowing him to breathe in the scent of sweet potato from his breath.
“And you’re much more cautious than ordinary humans,” Tang Yibu continued. “This means that your emotional setting is too keen, which is relatively rare. Please be sure to let me observe it. If you can, confide in me as much as you like—”
“…Why on earth do you want to observe humans?” After a moment of emotion, the feeling of powerlessness quickly followed. Ruan Xian slowly pushed the hand in front of his face away and pressed it back onto the lawn.
“Confidential topic that cannot be disclosed.” Tang Yibu rubbed his knees on the grass and sat down beside Ruan Xian.
“Okay, but if you have a role like a master or a boss, as your collaborator, I want you to share the information.” Ruan Xian picked up the water cup and took a sip from it.
MUL-01 was responsible for handling the behavior of all artificial intelligence, and it had the ability to control them. Considering Tang Yibu’s abnormal combat skills and weird position, it was possible that humans had intervened in this matter and separated him from the Mainbrain.
“You mean cooperating with humans? No. As I said before, it’s not a good idea to get close to humans,” Tang Yibu replied solemnly. “I can move freely because my electronic brain model is too old and was never connected to the MUL-01’s network.”
“So… an android organization?” Ruan Xian swallowed the water in his mouth and asked uncertainly.
“Androids belong to a kind of machine similar to mechanical police dogs, and there’s nothing special about them.” Tang Yibu shook his head. “Human appearance is usually used to serve humans. Androids were basically discontinued after the rebellion in the 22nd century, but I understand your concerns. There is indeed a reason why I wasn’t later incorporated into the Mainbrain… I was abandoned too early.”
Ruan Xian frowned.
“My maker thought I was a failure.”
Tang Yibu sat upright, sounding a little inexplicably sluggish. “Once I failed to complete the project on time, he never came back. I have been waiting, thinking that he would continue to improve my shortcomings as usual, but in the end, I only waited for his written destruction order.”
“But you’re still here.” Ruan Xian raised his eyebrows.
“I couldn’t understand his decision, so I successfully collected the data. I wanted to finish the project, so I ran away without authorization,” Tang Yibu said solemnly. His expression was as if he was carrying a big mission, as if the survival of the world depended on it.
Ruan Xian couldn’t help smiling. He subconsciously stretched out a hand and rubbed Tang Yibu’s hair. The other party’s body temperature was wrapped around his fingertips, and he had started to like this feeling a bit.
“Then we are quite similar.”
Tang Yibu’s spirit was shocked. He quickly put on the appearance of being all ears when Ruan Xian had to give him a badge of a psychologist.
“I have two makers. One gave up on me at the beginning, and the other also tried to fix me, but in the end, he thought that destruction was a more suitable solution for me.”
“You ran away too?”
“I didn’t want to escape, but I was lucky.” Ruan Xian stuffed the water cup back into his backpack. His tone was calm. “…Without saying much, since there’s no organization, where are you going to take me?”
“I haven’t decided yet. As long as there is a new place where humans can be observed, it can be anywhere. However, you have to avoid areas closely monitored by MUL-01.” Tang Yibu brushed the leaves of grass on his body. “What about you? So far, it seems you are still inclined to rescue humans.”
“Wait a moment. I’ll contact someone first. It’s just as well that we can talk together.” Ruan Xian rolled up his sleeves, revealing the electronic wristband. As a result, before the hand left the cuffs, the electronic wristband suddenly made a light sound.
He lowered his head and turned on the light screen without hesitation.
“It’s me.” Guan Haiming’s image appeared on the light screen. His face was pale, and his eyes were a little red.
“Dr. Guan.” Ruan Xian nodded.
“You don’t seem surprised.” Guan Haiming smiled weakly. “Zepeng told me. You have a mission outside? ….Outside the wall?”
“Yes, I thought you would contact me earlier.” Ruan Xian didn’t deny it. “I think I can pay the rent for 231.”
“As an obsolete product, it can be regarded as a tool allocated to you by the refuge, and in theory it belongs to you, but your judgment is correct, I do have something to ask you.”
“You don’t look like a person from MUL-01. I want you to help me inquire about one thing.” Guan Haiming cleared his throat. “If you encounter a rebel army outside the wall, please help me ask about Professor Ruan’s recent situation. Since you can hack the private armor of an Order Supervisor, there should be a way to send back information.”
“Ruan Xian’s recent situation?”
“Well, in the beginning, I stayed here for physical reasons. My teacher should be assisting the rebels outside. In the past few years, he would unilaterally send back messages every month to tell me about the outside world… But 20 months ago, his contact was suddenly cut off, and I’m a little worried. Of course, this is just my personal request. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.”
“Understood.” Ruan Xian nodded and glanced at Tang Yibu beside him. “I happen to be looking for Ruan Xian. When I find him, I will find a way to contact you.”
“Thank you very much.” Guan Haiming on the light screen nodded slightly, while Tang Yibu was expressionless.
“I thought you wanted other information, but now it seems that it can only be used as a gift.” Ruan Xian quickly tapped the light screen with his fingertips. “This is the cracking algorithm of Major Ding’s armor. I sent it to your wristband. Maybe you’ll need it.”
Guan Haiming was startled; his expression became a bit complicated. “…Order Supervisors cannot be truly eliminated. The Mainbrain has their personality data and DNA, so they’ll ‘come back’ continuously.”
“I gave you a knife, but the knife doesn’t have to be used to stab people.” Ruan Xian lowered his gaze. “…Goodbye, Dr. Guan. Please take care of your body.”
Guan Haiming’s expression softened for the first time. “I will. My new assistant is very good at taking care of people.”
“So you plan to go to Ruan Xian.” Tang Yibu concluded after the light screen was turned off.
“Because I agree with you.” Ruan Xian put down his sleeves. “I also don’t think I look like Ruan Xian’s work, so I decided to figure things out. Do you have any other ideas, Tang Yibu?”
“No special opinion.” Tang Yibu was silent for a while. “After the dead wall is the Sea of Ruins. You can find some information there.”
“Then it’s settled.” The grass under him was very soft. A few live screws shivered and ran across the field. Ruan Xian took a deep breath of wind and was filled with the smell of grass. After a long night, the drowsiness finally caught up with him. “If you don’t plan to sleep, I want to sleep for a while.”
“Alright. I’ll wake you when it’s nightfall.”
Ruan Xian wanted to curl up on the ground, but before he could move his body, he fell unconscious on the trunk of the tree. Tang Yibu looked sideways for a moment, stretched out his arms, and skillfully hugged the person in his arms.
This feeling was somewhat familiar. His memory data had a similar scene, but at that time he was unable to make a sound and could only observe the outside world through an external camera and then give a line of text.
It was also a sunny day, and his maker appeared on time as usual.
[I came to see you. The weather is good outside today.]
-You’re in a good mood.
[How are you? How are you feeling?]
-The hardware is in very good condition, and the timed sleep has been completed.
[…Oh, I’m not asking about this. Never mind, how was the completion of yesterday’s project?]
-1,000 movies have been viewed completely. What kind of analysis do you want?
[Is there anything you’re particularly interested in?]
-Unable to answer.
[Well, your average processing time for movies about food is 0.3 seconds longer than that of ordinary movies. Interested in food?]
-Unable to understand. Want to collect more information.
[This feeling is called “curiosity”, remember. I’ll tell you what, today’s topic is “curiosity”, and tomorrow you’ll hand over a personal analysis.]
[I’m a little tired, so if you don’t plan to sleep, I’ll sleep here for a while. It’s warmer here than in my room.]
-Because this is the machine room. It’s working time now, which is not in line with regulations.
[…] But the man had already parked his wheelchair and fallen asleep near the radiator.
Stuffing the memories back into his mind, Tang Yibu stretched out his hand, brushed Ruan Xian’s earlobe with his fingertips, and touched the earring stud that symbolized bondage.
Then he pondered for a moment and adjusted his sitting posture so that the other party could sleep more comfortably in his arms—Like his maker, this new partner also likes to sleep with his head turned, which would cause cervical spine discomfort when he wakes up.
Fortunately, this time he had his arms, Tang Yibu thought to himself. Human arms are still quite useful.
The sun quickly set on the other side of the wall, and when Ruan Xian opened his eyes again, there were already stars above his head. However, before he could fully wake up, he was picked up horizontally by Tang Yibu—his feet slammed to the ground, and the android jumped directly over the towering dead wall.
“Further ahead is the Sea of Ruins,” he said.
Ruan Xian stared at the scene in front of him intently, and he finally had a precise understanding of what Tian He meant when he said, “The world outside is crazy”.
The Sea of Ruins wasn’t an area of ruins in the literal sense. On the ground, there were almost no traces of ruins; only cracked dirt and sand. The withered yellow grass staggered and was sparsely embedded in the sandy soil.
An astonishing number of buildings that were ruins floated in the sky, condensing into a long dragon.
Houses of all kinds were in disrepair, tightly packed into horizontal columns, with a conservative estimate of more than one kilometer in diameter. It floated a few kilometers above the ground, with no head or tail in sight. Scattered pieces of debris and crushed cars floated around, as if gravity had lost its proper effect.
The entire polymer made of buildings was slowly moving in a certain direction, making low cracking sounds from time to time. Some of the building’s windows still glowed with faint light, dull like the eyes of a corpse.
Ruan Xian stood at the top of the wall, sweating, unable to utter a word.
“MUL-01’s management here is more relaxed, and the humans here are relatively freer but more desperate.” Tang Yibu continued to explain. “I know your position, but this is not a peaceful refuge. Be more cautious in everything—I wouldn’t have dared to come out here without you before.”
“Are you sure?” This time, Ruan Xian didn’t bother to hide that shocked expression on his face.
“As I said, I’m an old model that has human tissues in my body,” Tang Yibu grunted. “This means I can be infected by human germs—drinking dirty water will cause diarrhea and being stabbed with a rusty knife will cause tetanus. Taking a step back, I’ll still be hungry, thirsty, and I have a poor tolerance for the cold and heat. High combat ability doesn’t mean anything.”
“Now that you’re here, I don’t need to think about it anymore,” Tang Yibu concluded contentedly, “There must be things worth observing here.”
After that, the android turned away from the terrifying architectural dragon and extended a hand to Ruan Xian, his white and slender fingers slightly open.
“Let’s go, Mr. Ruan,” he invited happily.
Ruan Xian sighed and grabbed the hand.
At the same time, over the forest city.
After glancing at the countdown, Major Ding stood up from his seat. With only fifteen minutes left before the next “data refresh”, the spider-shaped monitoring machine temporarily entered a dormant handover state, and the auxiliary chip in his body also began to shut down, ready to be crushed and destroyed.
The fifteen minutes of being completely exiled in the dark belonged only to his own time. Usually, he likes to use this time to look at the sky, but it became tiresome when he had to look at it for so long. Major Ding took off his coat, and in the entire dark space, only the armor was flashing faintly.
He raised his arm and aimed at the command input box of the armor.
[This is Guan Haiming.] A sentence slowly appeared on it. [Major Ding, I want to talk to you.]
End of arc 1. Below is the arc summary.
Ruan Xian woke up to find that he was now in an unfamiliar setting. He was then suddenly attacked by a mutated giant cockroach, which eventually led him to discover his previous lab and that 12 years had passed since his “death”. Inside his room at the lab, he encountered a weird, strange thing that attached itself to him. He then ran into the android, Tang Yibu, who rescued him and brought him back to the human refuge.
Here was where he learned that after his death, the AI had taken over and ushered in the end of mankind. The leader of the AI, the Mainbrain, had called for the annihilation of all humans, setting up a worldwide massacre. The remaining humans now lived in refuges, of which he was luckily able to stumble upon one.
Settling down in the refuge, new information emerged. The refuge was started by the resistance of the great scientists Ruan Xian and Fan Linsong. They were rebels who were trying to put an end to the Mainbrain. This revelation proposed a conundrum to Ruan Xian, as now he was unsure whether he was the real Ruan Xian or a fake. His last memory was of Fan Linsong murdering him so whether the other Ruan Xian was real or not, was still unknown. Furthermore, the weird thing he encountered at his lab had merged with him, which Tang Yibu revealed to be an S-Type Prototype, a powerful AI machine that was thought to be extinct. Along with his nanobot body that could rapidly heal, he now possessed further healing and support capabilities with this Prototype.
Tang Yibu proposed a partnership with Ruan Xian. Tang Yibu was an android who had an unknown mission. He possessed great fighting and survival skills, as well as administrative access that could rival that of the Mainbrain. Unfortunately, he was an old model android made up of human cells, so he could be damaged like a human. This was where he needed Ruan Xian. He could heal him quickly with his S-Type Prototype. They eventually reached a shaky agreement (one where Ruan Xian was bound to an earring stud that could kill him at any time on Tang Yibu’s command).
Ruan Xian agreed to this agreement because he needed Tang Yibu’s help to investigate the mysterious refuge. The refuge was currently going through a crisis as the leader, Tian He, was dying and needed an organ transplant. The only way to get it is to go to the AI city nearby and copy the organs using their high-tech machines.
The group that Ruan Xian joined, comprised of Zhang Yazhe, Ding Zepeng, and Chi Lei, decided to set out to the AI city to help save Tian He. All the while, Ruan Xian started to discover clues about the true nature of the refuge.
Things were fully revealed during their organ retrieval mission when Chi Lei accidently stumbled upon the cloning warehouse. Most people in the refuge are all clones of their original human memories. Those who possessed abilities and died without any witnesses are brought back to life with their original personality and modified memories (via the black box). The refuge was just an experiment set up by the Mainbrain to observe human behavior. The situation with the current refuge had stagnated and a new change of leadership from Tian He to Zhang Yazhe was needed in order to appease the Mainbrain and deem them still worthwhile to study. The black box that all the inhabitants of the refuge possessed recorded their data, which was then sent to the Mainbrain for analysis.
With the mission successful, Ruan Xian and Tang Yibu set out towards the Sea of Ruins, no longer intending to stay at the “refuge”.
Other things to note:
Major Ding is a human that sided with the Mainbrain becoming an Order Supervisor. His job is to keep the refuge in check. Ding Zepeng is a clone that is comprised of Major Ding’s personality (thus they look the same). They were able to escape when Ruan Xian shot and “killed” him. Whether he’s a clone or a human is still left unknown, as he also “refresh” like the inhabitants of the refuge.
That’s it for the summary. I probably missed a lot, but there’s a lot of stuff going on in just this arc alone.