Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 34: Green Ghost
The three-wheeled truck raced through the air. Unable to traverse the rubble, its wheels bumped from time to time on the raised concrete slabs. They were heading towards the Annihilation Point at an extremely fast speed. The wind quickly blew across the skin. Ruan Xian shrank behind the driving Gang Zi to avoid the oncoming wind.
After he started to drive, Gang Zi stuffed his face into his safety helmet and talked a lot less.
From this perspective, the entire Sea of Ruins was vast and deserted. They seemed to be crossing a gray desert, and only the ivy bushes that partially covered the ruins of the building could still reveal some vitality. The mechanical life known as the iron bead was bumping into the cage, quacking like a goose.
Tang Yibu opened his ten fingers and let the wind pass through them while he hummed out of tune. It was a melody that was weird and inexplicably felt familiar. Ruan Xian tried for a long time to recall it but couldn’t find the right song from his memory.
“I gave you enough fresh water for two days, so if you run out, you have to find more on your own.” When he reached the destination, Gang Zi took off his helmet. “Don’t linger too long down there, and don’t run too far. The big rally will be in the morning four days later. If we don’t receive a signal before then, no one will come pick you up.”
The destination was a small villa standing on a gravel slab. Although the entire place was covered with dust and full of weeds and climbing vines, the structure looked quite intact. A few shirtless pirates came out and hastily responded, skillfully rushing the two indoors.
The furniture in the room was basically cleaned out, with only two rows of bulky spacesuits that were neatly hung on the iron. The room was filled with the smell of instant noodles. Sweeping his gaze across the corner, Ruan Xian found a garbage chute entrance that obviously didn’t belong to the villa.
Ruan Xian twitched the corners of his mouth to the familiar smell.
“What’s the name of this little brother again? Tang, Tang… Forget it, Xiao Tang, your brother Ruan has a gun. Would you like to have one too?” Gang Zi pointed to a long table where he had thrown a few weapons.
“I’ll just follow Mr. Ruan.” Tang Yibu picked up a dagger from the table. “I’m not very good at using guns.”
“Whatever you want.” Gang Zi’s enthusiasm was limited. “This time we won’t go through the garbage chute.”
Sure enough, this was used during their descent. Ruan Xian glanced at the cell originally used to imprison them in the basement of the villa.
This time they dived a lot slower than the last. Ten minutes later, the two returned to the familiar hospital hall again. The traces of sunlight completely disappeared, and the damp smell rushed into the nose again.
He didn’t know if the hole Tang Yibu made last time was still there. Ruan Xian thought indifferently and took out both guns.
This time, the cracked metal spacesuit dropped one more victim—the iron bead hit the ground together with the cage and bounced wildly around inside. Tang Yibu opened up the cage without hesitation, untied the chain, and pressed the spherical mechanical life wearing a leash with one hand.
A circle of blue light lit up along Tang Yibu’s palm, and the coconut-sized thing hesitated for a while before it stopped whining. Seeing the iron bead calm down, Tang Yibu untied its leash, and it took the opportunity to bounce and jump on top of him.
Ruan Xian: “……”
He looked at Tang Yibu, who looked like there were two heads stacked on top of each other; one being a metal ball with a big mouth.
“This thing has a very simple mind. I rewrote its thinking program, and it now thinks I am one of its kind.” Tang Yibu patted the iron bead on his head. “It’s too troublesome to control it by brute force, so this is easier.”
“You’re the leader, so you call the shots,” Ruan Xian responded weakly.
He took Tang Yibu directly to the pharmacy in the side hall and began to scour for medicines that hadn’t expired in various nooks and crannies. The Walking Stones gave them plenty of time—for ordinary people, it might take two or three days to fully explore an abandoned hospital. But for the S-Type Prototype, one afternoon was more than enough.
Ruan Xian hurriedly stuffed the medicines that hadn’t expired yet into his backpack and also picked up some well-preserved medical devices. Since they could keep things other than medicine and flickering grass, it was always good to have more.
Anyway, with Tang Yibu’s strange power, the load wouldn’t be a problem.
His initial plan was simple. Try to make as many points as possible, participate in the so-called big rally according to the rules, and then find a chance to chat with Tu Rui.
According to Gang Zi, Tu Rui only came to the Sea of Ruins in recent years. He was a self-proclaimed “ex-rebel”. At present, it seemed that this was the most suitable channel for inquiring regarding the whereabouts of “Professor Ruan”, but if this was a fishing method used by MUL-01, Ruan Xian didn’t want to foolishly rush up and bite the hook.
However, when the bottom of the other ship rubbed against the top of their heads, Ruan Xian’s heart was calm.
‘Plans never keep up with rapid changes,’ he thought numbly. This was the basic awareness of a researcher.
The iron bead that was originally lying on Tang Yibu’s head wittily moved and pasted itself on Tang Yibu’s face just in time to avoid the bottom of the ship and was pushed back deeply by the android.
Ruan Xian raised his head and saw the ship stopped on the fourth floor. Chaotic footsteps sounded, and people could be heard coming down the boat.
Three of them.
“Look, we’re not lying. Such a large area of grass was wiped out!” An excited female voice penetrated the darkness. “You remember the contributions Lao Hu and I made, right?”
It was the woman who they gave their bone saw to; a person from Elysium.
“Not bad, Jiang Lin.” A new voice sounded. “At the current rate, it’ll be at least two weeks before the Annihilation Point comes. This can be used as a new cultivation site, and another batch can be collected. Here. This is today’s firefly… huh?”
“Where are the fireflies? Logically, this piece of land is worth two weeks’ worth. You can’t—”
“I obviously put it here. No! I don’t have any of my own. Don’t make a ruckus. I’ll look for it again!” The new added male voice becomes a little impatient.
“You must’ve forgotten to bring it.” The woman’s companion, a man named Hu Jian, lowered his voice.
“If we don’t find it before noon, how do we go back?” Jiang Lin’s voice became sharper. “Without fireflies, can you sail in that state? God, how can you forget this kind of thing?”
“What’s your hurry. Isn’t there still the fruit of the flickering grass? Fireflies are just pills concentrated from the dried fruit. It’s not bad for us to just eat the fruit directly.”
“Fan Lao said it’s not good for people to eat the fruit…”
“Can you still say this when the reaction from the withdrawal of the medicine comes later? I just played the sound waves that disperse the ventral cockroaches. There will be no sudden attacks by them. Eat with peace of mind. After eating, make sure to pick them well. Hurry up and finish picking this way. This time, we’ll pick more and go back so we can lie comfortably at home for more than half a month.”
“But Fan Lao said—”
“Stupid girl, if you don’t eat it, I’ll eat it.” After a loud noise, the sound of berries being chewed was heard. Two people were chewing on the fruit while the remaining one was just gasping nervously.
Then the sound of groans was heard, though they couldn’t be sure whether it was from pleasure or pain.
It seemed that they were destined to be unable to explore the second and third floors with peace of mind. Ruan Xian and Tang Yibu looked at each other and made a simple gesture. He didn’t make a sound and simply sent a message to Tang Yibu through his earring.
[Towards one o’clock. Old place. Three people.]
With an iron bead on his head, Tang Yibu didn’t nod, but made a simple OK gesture with one hand. The two returned to the fourth floor they were familiar with and crept in to hide behind the ship.
Ruan Xian squatted on the edge of the sloping bow. Tang Yibu, who was slightly taller, leaned forward, resting his chin on Ruan Xian’s head. The iron beads on the top of the android’s head also learned from the movements of the two of them and stuck out a little bit from the edge of the bow.
Ruan Xian forcibly suppressed the urge to beat up the two mechanical lives behind him and continued to observe patiently.
The ship looked more like a small passenger boat, and the surface was wiped clean. It stopped quietly on the floor, and the top didn’t even touch the ceiling of the ruins. A continuous buzzing came from inside the ship, which was probably “the sound waves that drive away the ventral cockroaches” that the man was talking about.
Two men were floating in front of them.
Truly floating, like weightless astronauts. They floated in the air while their feet were chained to the boat to ensure they couldn’t unconsciously crash into the flickering grass. The two men opened their eyes wide without blinking. Their hands held gooseberry-like fruits as they slowly stuffed them into their mouths, staining the corners with a lot of green juice. The smell of excrement polluted the air, causing Ruan Xian to suppress an urge to retch.
The thin Jiang Lin huddled by the grass, farther away from the two men who were picking the fruits. She seemed to want to escape further, but her whole body twitched uncomfortably, as if she was tightly squeezed by a big invisible hand.
“It’s gone,” Hu Jian said in a daze, licking the green, fluorescent juice between his fingers. His chin and hands were covered with fluorescence, which looked a bit terrifying in the dark. “It’s gone. It’s gone.”
Ruan Xian could see clearly that the man’s eyes were rolling quickly and irregularly, and his pupils moved so fast they almost left afterimages.
Then they turned bright green, just like the fruits of the flickering grass.
Almost licking up all the juice between his fingers, Hu Jian’s breathing brought out some muddy sounds, and his entire body fell to the ground. He didn’t seem to know where he was or what species he belonged to. The man silently broke free of the chain that was tying his feet, twisted his limbs strangely, and rushed straight to Jiang Lin in front of him.
The latter let out a shrill scream and rolled over to escape, causing Hu Jian to slam half of his body into the corner of the wall, where it was submerged like a ghost and then stuck out.
It was just like the pirate ship they had first encountered.
“It’s gone!” He roared vaguely, grabbed Jiang Lin by the hair, and dragged her into the flickering grass. Jiang Lin pulled out a knife, decisively cut the tightly tugged hair, and fled in the opposite direction.
Unfortunately, her luck wasn’t good. The other man, who also ate the fruit, had eaten all the stock in his hand. His ankles passed through the iron chain like a phantom and joined the ranks of his hunting companions.
Ruan Xian sighed quietly. This strange scene in front of him made his scalp numb, and the top of his head was starting to hurt from Tang Yibu’s chin. Seeing Ruan Xian exhaling, Tang Yibu also tried to mimic the same. Unfortunately, his bad imitation was caught by the iron bead at the top of—
“Whew—” It inherited the fine tradition of the two and panted like a whistle.
The two people who were chasing Jiang Lin instantly shifted their targets, and their four green eyes turned suddenly.
“Can bullets deal with those two things?” Ruan Xian gritted his teeth at the two mechanical beings behind him. “I’ll give you two shots, so do what I say.”
“Theoretically, it won’t affect them,” Tang Yibu stated somberly. “Can I take credit first?”
“Help me!” Jiang Lin shouted sensibly. “Help me! They’re too far gone!”
“Then get over here!” Ruan Xian shouted back. He grabbed Tang Yibu’s collar, got into the ship without hesitation, and then pushed the other party into the driver’s seat. “Tell me you can drive.”
“I can drive” Tang Yibu nodded.
“Gwah!” The iron bead on Tang Yibu’s head also learned to nod, causing Ruan Xian to slap them away. Jiang Lin probably guessed their plans and rushed onto the ship screaming. Her whole body was shaking badly, and her thin face was full of tears.
“Hurry up! Hurry up and sail!” Her lips were trembling and her voice cracked.
Tang Yibu no longer talked nonsense this time. He skillfully manipulated the extremely complicated operation panel. Finally, he grabbed the steering wheel, put the speed to maximum, and crossed the layers of ruins, then rushed in a certain direction like an arrow.
However, the two newly born ghosts didn’t stop. They followed the boat closely while they chanted.
“It’s gone. It’s gone. Food. Food.”
Their movements were no longer like humans. Their limbs were twisted to the limit, looking more like two green spiders that were advancing against the ruins.
“You—where are you going?” Jiang Lin shrank tightly at the bow of the ship. “Why does this direction look like…”
“I guess it’s to the Annihilation Point.” Ruan Xian sat down on the table and was almost caught by a hand passing through the floor of the hull.
“That’s right,” Tang Yibu said, in high spirits.
“What are you doing?! Jiang Lin screamed. “There’s a dead end over there. Then we’ll be trapped with nowhere to go with them attacking the back!”
“Then do you know how long those two things can last? Under the premise of driving at the highest speed, the ship’s fuel can only last for one hour.” Ruan Xian knocked on the instrument wall of the cockpit. “Or do you want to lead them back to your base camp?”
“I don’t know, but—”
“This is the fastest way,” Ruan Xian said calmly, patting Tang Yibu on the shoulder casually.
“There must be another way! You… You’re crazy.” Jiang Lin’s voice was so shrill that it pierced their ears.
Ruan Xian was stunned for a few seconds, then smiled. “Yes, but I don’t think it’s bad.”
“…Let’s play something exciting, Tang Yibu.”
The author has something to say:
Open boat racing in broad daylight (physical)