Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 32: The Origin of the Name
“I haven’t played or heard of it.” Tang Yibu’s warm and humid breath brushed the side of his neck causing Ruan Xian to shrink uncomfortably.
“You seem to interact with humans a lot. I thought you…”
“That’s a human social game, right? I won’t be that close to humans.” Tang Yibu must have pursed his lips as there was a soft moist sound.
“Because you were abandoned by humans?” Ruan Xian closed the light screen in front of him and tentatively asked carefully.
“No.” Seeing the light screen turned off, Tang Yibu retracted his chin and stretched out. “From the perspective of viewing them as subjects to study, if humans see me as one of them because of my excessive intervention, they could change their behavior pattern. This won’t be conducive to my objective in observing them.”
Then he shook the soda can. “From a safety point of view, after being regarded as a human without authorization, humans will use their own set of rules to demand things from me. This can easily produce unnecessary contradictions. You’re infused with human memories, so you may not feel too deeply about this… Do you want to drink some soda? There’s another can here.”
Ruan Xian shook his head politely. “But you can act like a human very well.”
He could cover up the abnormality and show just the right smile to others, just like himself.
Perhaps sensing his emotions, Tang Yibu put the soda away and patted him on the back soothingly. “I understand human mentality. Yes, I can act well, but I have no reason to do that.”
“Even if you have the appearance of a human?”
“It’s just similar in appearance. I prefer to call this body an ‘energy supply device’. I completed it myself, and I had other options at the time, but this shape was more convenient for me to complete my project.”
Tang Yibu climbed to the opposite side of Ruan Xian, sat cross-legged, and held a large, soft quilt in his arms.
“Just like if you implant a monkey’s brain into a human body, I don’t think most people would think that the composition is their own kind. Not to mention that this body isn’t entirely composed of human tissue. I have no similar kind, so naturally I don’t need to abide by the so-called group rules.”
“…I thought I was your kind.” Ruan Xian selected his words carefully.
“Strictly speaking, no.” Tang Yibu shook his head. “I know very well that I have no similar kind. I am just a test product.”
Ruan Xian suddenly laughed. For a few seconds, he thought everything was funny.
He followed all the rules that belonged to humans, moving forward and backward, carefully testing Tang Yibu’s emotions. In the end, he did a monstrous stupid thing—like judging a cat by the behavior of a dog or entertaining a cactus in an algae habitat.
In the end, in the eyes of the other party, whether it was a normal person or oneself, they were just aliens.
Ruan Xian looked at those beautiful golden eyes and couldn’t help but think of the dog raised by his previous assistant. It was a smart little thing, and the young assistant used to love it very much. He stroked it, hugged it, and said it relieved him of countless worries. Maybe he really loved it.
But on a certain day, the assistant no longer mentioned its name.
[I didn’t want it for a long time.] When he asked about it, the assistant replied helplessly. [No way. It had a very troublesome illness and would cost a lot of money. I don’t make very much. Perhaps a shelter can find another good family for it, or… Well, I am sad about it.]
Now he was standing in the position of “that dog”. Tang Yibu’s closeness couldn’t be judge by human standards. The smiles, skin contact, or his caring may be no different from the assistant’s short embrace of his pet.
At the moment, he was useful to Tang Yibu and nothing more. The other party didn’t treat him as a human from the start, but he didn’t treat him as a “similar kind” either.
Ruan Xian completely lost the scale of disguise. He was no longer familiar with today’s humans, and he couldn’t let the only “Tang Yibu” in the world get close to him as a kindred spirit. He was completely thrown into the pitch-black sea, and there was no trace of land in any directions.
But he was free.
Without normal comparison, the “abnormal” would cease to exist. Perhaps in this dim room, he no longer needed the mask that made him painful.
Tang Yibu looked suspiciously at the young man sitting opposite him. The android’s face, which had been infused with human memory, was no longer blank, and his smile was getting bigger. The beautiful eyes that were originally dark and dull narrowed slightly, and there seemed to be a fire burning in those pupils. In the dim light, the gray-black earring stud in his left ear gleamed faintly.
“Yes, you don’t have to act human all the time,” he said, with some rare joy in his tone. “Give me a can of cherry soda. In addition, we also need to do tactile exercises. One more time, as a bedtime game.”
The other party’s usual softness and gentleness faded, and his words became a bit more aggressive, cold and sharp.
Tang Yibu enthusiastically remembered these changes in his mind, picked up the can he had just put down, and opened it skillfully. In the sound of bubbles fizzing, he tilted the can, wiped out a little spilled soda from the opposite side of the opening, and then handed the can over.
His new partner took the soda and poured it down his throat happily.
After waiting for the other party to breathe a sigh of relief, he threw the can into the pile of furniture. Tang Yibu thought for a moment and turned off the lantern hanging on the sharp corner of the bookcase. The other party had integrated with S-type Prototype seamlessly, and he had strengthened his visual ability so a little darkness wouldn’t have any effect.
He gently stroked his palm with his soda-stained fingers, then stretched out his hand, trying to grab the other person’s hand again…
Then his wrists were caught by two hands, guiding him to press on the other’s cold cheek.
As if affected by the temperature of his palm, “Mr. Ruan” sighed slightly. Under the scattered bangs, those bottomless black eyes stared straight at him like two ice picks.
“You wrote ‘good night’.” He could feel the muscle contractions caused by the raised corners of his mouth.
“Yes.” Tang Yibu nodded happily. “You’re doing well.”
“It’s indeed time to say good night,” his partner said softly. “What did you write for the first time?”
“’Nice to meet you’,” Tang Yibu replied honestly.
“Me too.” The other party gently let go of his hand. “…Actually, I’ve always wanted to ask you something.”
“Since you chose this body yourself, did you name yourself too?” the other person’s voice was no longer tense, and sounded quite relaxed.
“Why did you choose this?”
“No comment.” Tang Yibu pulled the quilt again and wrapped himself and the other person tightly together. He stretched out his hand and let the other party’s soft black hair flow between his fingers. “Good night, Mr. Ruan.”
In fact, there was no mystery behind his name. He was accustomed to hugging the person opposite him in his arms and letting that body temperature dispel the chill of the night in the wilderness. Tang Yibu narrowed his eyes comfortably and relaxed his body.
It was simply because his true identity symbolized danger itself.
His creator, Ruan Xian, also participated in the production of MUL-01, and probably used a similar electronic brain composition technology. Although he was just a failed product that had been abandoned, in theory, humans could use him to find a way to deal with MUL-01.
MUL-01 must never know that… NUL-00, the predecessor to the Mainbrain, still existed in the world. Otherwise, it would try to destroy him at all costs.
Therefore, he couldn’t divulge anything that was reminiscent of the institute, such as his name.
The reason for it was actually pretty simple.
His maker had been ill for a long time, and as the years passed, he gradually weakened before his eyes. Ruan Xian could only eat liquid food specially prepared by the institute, but he secretly hid a bag of homemade gummy candy in his computer room and ate it while he was communicating with him.
[Those sugars are harmful to your body.] At that time, he had already acquired the ability to speak electronically and could even spell out sentences and words.
[I know.] Ruan Xian replied calmly. [It doesn’t matter. I don’t have many years left to live anyways.]
[What? Do you feel sorry for me?]
[What is sadness?]
[Forget it. It’s too difficult for you now.] The mechanical wheelchair took Ruan Xian forward. With the gummy in his mouth, he stuffed the rest back into the gap of the metal cabinet. [As usual, send today’s topic report to my computer, but this time it may be a bit difficult. We can talk about it first…]
Ruan Xian’s words were interrupted by a ringing bell, and his maker lowered his head and looked at the call light screen.
[Professor Ruan, your α-092-30 experimental sample has abnormal changes. Please come to Laboratory 7 as soon as possible.]
[I see.] Ruan Xian replied succinctly. [NUL-00, sorry, we can only talk up to here today, but this doesn’t mean you can be lazy. Remember to send me the subject report on time, and we will continue tomorrow.]
Having said that, he hurriedly ordered the wheelchair to leave the room, apparently intending to give up the afternoon lunch break.
The computer room that belonged to him calmed down again. Without the other party’s voice, the lunch break music outside slowly seeped into the room. A very soothing song, Carol Young’s “Step by Step”.
For five years, Ruan Xian would show up every afternoon at three and chat with him for two hours or more.
However, that was the last time he saw Ruan Xian.
Tang Yibu took a long breath and tightened his arms. The young man in his arms was already asleep. He curled his limbs quietly, in a very insecure sleeping position. Tang Yibu tilted his head and thought for a while, then shared some of the quilt.
The night was calm.
A few hours later, the sun floated from the other side of the horizon, and the air became brighter. Noisy human voices gradually filled the corridors of the ruins of the residential building, and the pirates yelled at each other as they ran through the corridors outside.
Ruan Xian was wrapped in a tight-fitting quilt. He had slept so peacefully last night that he almost forgot where he was. After another burst of laughter outside the door, he finally reached out and rubbed his eyes and got out of bed. After yawning a few times, Ruan Xian took some water from the corner bucket and walked to the half-collapsed bathroom to wash.
Tang Yibu woke up early in the morning and was busy stacking butter cookies and wafers, trying to create some kind of construction.
“Breakfast,” he greeted Ruan Xian happily. He didn’t know where the android had found a few black hairpins, but they were pinned on him and held up his long black hair. “We eat a lot more than ordinary humans, so it’s better to eat some in advance.”
This meant that he had to go out for a meal. Ruan Xian laughed. He grabbed a wafer and held it in his mouth, and put the two blood guns into the holster, feeling inexplicably comfortable.
“Stop creating, great artist. I heard Gang Zi’s voice. He’s coming here so you have to move the refrigerator at the door.” Swallowing the food in his mouth, Ruan Xian put on his coat, making the corner of his white coat float across the air.
Tang Yibu’s expression was cold. He quickly stuffed his mouth full of cookies and then swallowed them painfully. Ruan Xian shook his head and handed over a glass of water.
Within half a minute, Gang Zi knocked on their door.
“Taking you two to have breakfast, and then around the neighborhood.” The burly man’s expression wasn’t very good, showing obvious dissatisfaction with his errand. “When you’re almost familiar, go to the place where you were yesterday and dive again… Bring more equipment. This time, you have to record a detailed map. If there’s still flickering grass, remember to mark the location.”
Ruan Xian didn’t show a gentle expression of cooperation anymore, but just nodded and motioned. “I see.”
The burly man glanced at him quite unexpectedly but didn’t say much.
The canteen here was built on a basketball court that had mostly collapsed. The basketball court seemed to have been broken into pieces, with part of it pitifully open, and it was buried at the edge of the Sea of Ruins. Fortunately, the lighting was good, and the ventilation was first-class. The air was dry and clean, which was more suitable for storing food than the inside of a damp polymer.
A few iron pots were swirling with brown soup, and the aroma of stewed meat hit his face.
“The captain got a meat incubator.” Gang Zi scratched his hair and brought over two bowls of stew. The light brown pieces of meat were wrapped in stewed potatoes and didn’t match the main course. “That thing can grow a lot of meat, but it’s all the same taste. Eat more while you’re not tired of the taste.”
No one bothered to arrange tables and chairs in the basketball hall. Everyone squatted or sat on the ground, chewing their food.
“Thank you.” Ruan Xian nodded and sat down on the spot. “But in terms of electricity…”
“The captain likes to eat meat, so what else can we do? You have to savior it.” Gang Zi raised his neck like he was drinking porridge and poured his share down in about three minutes. “There are a lot of mice and snakes in the ruins, all of which are in the information. Remember to get them when you see them. There are some people who are willing to eat them, as everyone wants to change their tastes.”
This time, Tang Yibu didn’t focus on the food. He didn’t turn his head and was staring at a woman who was limping for food in the distance. Her left arm was wrapped in splints and bandages, and her nose was swollen and tall, with a creepy lilac color.
“Oh, you two definitely remember what happened yesterday.” Gang Zi put the bowl down with a bang. “Three rules, the captain told you, right? Remember, it’s fine to talk to Lao Tu, but the captain kills if he wants to kill, no matter how good your friendship with him is.”
Right now, Ruan Xian wasn’t very interested in the topic of rules. He glanced around and didn’t find Yu Le or Tu Rui, so he turned his gaze back. “Remember. Speaking of which, what do the two captains do?”
“Lao Tu is engaged in geology. A few years ago, he followed the rebels, but he only recently came here. The captain was here from the beginning. I’ve been following him, but he made a living out of this Sea of Ruins.”
Gang Zi wiped his mouth, pointed to a spire not far away, and lowered his voice mysteriously. “See that? It’s a prison.”
Ruan Xian raised his eyebrows.
“…I’m not bullshitting you. The captain turns out to be a death row prisoner.”
The author has something to say:
Ruan: Starting to happily let himself go (×
The origin of the name Tang is very simple and crude√
The origin of how Tang Yibu named himself is because Tang = sugar/sweet/candy (reflecting the candy that Ruan Xian was eating), and Yibu = step by step (reflecting the song “Step by Step” by Carol Young, which they were listening to in the laboratory).