Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 39: A Cold Person
The glass elevator was operating normally. Duan Lili led the two back to the room. As soon as the glass door with thick curtains closed, the dim yellow light in the room suddenly flooded the spacious room, like a whole jar of sticky honey.
In the same confined environment as the two young men, Duan Lili’s posture was subconsciously tense.
Ruan Xian took a few steps back knowingly, and Tang Yibu’s movements were more obvious. The android threw off his shoes, climbed onto the big bed like he was boneless, and wrapped himself tightly in a soft quilt. Ruan Xian stared at the bulging drum bag on the soft bed for a few seconds—Tang Yibu was tossing and turning under the quilt while humming softly from time to time.
After all, Tang Yibu had to play the role of eating the firefly, so his current action was reasonable.
Ruan Xian sighed, rushed into the bathroom, and pretended to “vomit” for a few minutes. When he returned to the room again, Duan Lili had already turned on the speaker and was playing soothing music.
The nominal deputy captain of Elysium was sitting in a chair with her knees clasped tightly in a defensive posture. Regarding the popular aesthetic, Duan Lili was undoubtedly a beautiful girl. Right now, her face was pale, her eyes were flushed, and her expression was mixed with forbearance and prayer, which could arouse the desire of ordinary people to protect.
In the past, he would follow her wishes, show appropriate temptation and pity, or act like what Fan Lao wanted to see earlier and play a harmless fool.
However, the box that imprisoned the demon had been opened, and the broken chain couldn’t be retrieved.
The taste of breaking free from bondage was exhilarating. Ruan Xian showed a shaken appearance without cooperation. He just sat down on the soft edge of the bed, cocked his legs, and stared at the other person calmly.
Seeing that the other party didn’t mean to take the initiative at all, Duan Lili breathed a sigh of relief, put away the complicated expression on her face, and replaced it with a reluctant smile. “Have you vomited out the medicine?”
“Yes.” Ruan Xian nodded. He could feel the thumping from Tang Yibu behind him.
“That’s good.” Duan Lili pursed her lips, “As for your… partner, there’s no way to get rid of it. You can ask him to drink more iced water and stay away from places where the grass grows. If you have medicine on hand, atropine can appropriately relieve symptoms of drug addiction. Although there are medical resources in Elysium, the monitoring is very strict, and I can’t get it for you… Please understand.”
“You’ve taken the drug yourself.” Ruan Xian didn’t mention the name of the pill.
“Yes, there’s no turning back for me a long time ago.” Duan Lili’s eyes became redder. “But— But you’re different from those people. I can tell. I have a good eye when assessing people. When you sent Jiang Lin back, you should have seen her seizure… What made her like that was the pill just now, which Fan Lao calls ‘firefly’.”
“We thought it’s a psychedelic, like mushrooms. Is there something wrong with the pill just now? Fan Lao also ate one himself.” Ruan Xian lied with ease as he patted the wriggling quilt bulge behind him, signaling for Tang Yibu to be quiet.
“The one he ate just looked like it and was marked in advance. It’s not a firefly.” Duan Lili’s smile became more bitter.
“I understand, Miss Duan. Thank you for your kind reminder, but I don’t get you at all.”
Ruan Xian knocked on his waist bag, creating a dull metallic sound.
“I recorded our conversation. Do you think I’ll get a good reward for handing this over to Fan Lao? As the deputy captain of Elysium, you are a little quick to defect when you meet strangers by chance.”
Duan Lili’s face turned pale, but she didn’t tremble nor waver.
“Please listen to me first. I have been paying attention to you at the dinner party. You sent Jiang Lin back, and you were also very restrained at the dinner party, unlike those short-sighted people…” She swallowed and twisted her hands tightly. “Deputy captain? I’m just a toy for those men to have fun with. There’s no deputy captain on this ship. There’s only one person who controls everything. I was also deceived by that old man at first, thinking it was something like smoking a cigarette, but now I’ve become addicted to drugs. I can’t run away, so is it wrong to try my best to climb up?”
Ruan Xian looked at her quietly.
“I know you doubt me, and I know it’s very presumptuous. That’s right, there are many other pirate ships out there, and it’s not like there’s people who haven’t left here. However, if the firefly is completely cut off, they become half-useless. What happens to the young women, I don’t need to tell you what you already know… Be obedient here, get fireflies regularly, and at least live as a person.”
Duan Lili clenched her hands on her knees. “…I have been comforting myself like this before.”
“Hu Jian is my lover, but he didn’t come back this time.” Duan Lili sniffled, and tears finally flowed down. “I thought Fan Baiyan would at least look at my so-called title, and let him go…”
“So you want revenge.” Ruan Xian responded without any emotion. Tang Yibu on one side lifted up a seam on the edge of the quilt, and quietly glanced out. Seeing that his nose was about to stick out, Ruan Xian stretched his hand back, pressed the corner of the quilt “affectionately”, and shut the gap back.
“Yes, I can see that your abilities are good, and so can Fan Baiyan.” Duan Lili raised her chest. “Fireflies are too easy to get, and they do bring relief-like pleasure. Fan Baiyan is very good at catching people’s weaknesses. Everyone had a good life before the end of the world. It’s really easy to fall… Well, by bringing back Jiang Lin, I will prepare some thank-you gifts for you. It’s better for the two of you to leave here as soon as possible.”
“So you are not going to explain the ‘rules’ here?”
“Actually, the rules are very simple. Give up your life to work and exchange contributions for fireflies.” The tip of Duan Lili’s nose was still red, and her voice became flat. “Fan Baiyan alone has the final say in the rating. The higher the level and contribution, the more fireflies you can get every day. If the contribution reaches a certain level, you can rise to the upper level and do the easiest indoor work. Few people can get this treatment at present.”
After that, she smiled sarcastically. “Everyone wants to rise up desperately. Seeking a ‘future’ has always been profitable, right? But according to Fan Baiyan’s methods, I don’t think there’s any ‘ideal life’ waiting up there.”
Duan Lili stood up, took out her handkerchief, and carefully wiped the wet corners of her eyes. “That’s all I have to say. Whether you go to Fan Baiyan to give a recording or you want to stay, at least I tried my best.”
Finally, she put the unwavering smile back on her face. “It’s up to you what you want to do next.”
“When did you assemble the recording equipment?” After hearing the sounds of Duan Lili’s high heels clacking away, Tang Yibu asked in a sullen voice inside the quilt.
“I just knocked on a can just now.” Ruan Xian touched the smiley food cannister in his waist bag. “You can come out of the quilt now. You acted well.”
“No, I’m really uncomfortable.” Tang Yibu poked his head out of the quilt, his eyes a little wet.
Ruan Xian tightened his nerves. “Is the firefly’s effect that strong? I thought you—”
“…I ate too much.” The android sighed seriously.
Ruan Xian grinded his teeth. “Business.”
“There are two relatively rare ingredients in fireflies.” Tang Yibu hugged the quilt tightly. His voice was extremely low. “One of them, based on its molecular structure, is probably related to the shuttle agent used by the pirates. But the amount is so small that I tend to think it’s a residue after extraction. The other kind undoubtedly has a psychedelic effect, and it directly acts on the neurotransmitters of non-mechanical life. The concentration isn’t high, but it isn’t low either, so it’s enough to get addicted after just one use.”
“This weird psychedelic ingredient is naturally formed—According to my personal inference, psychedelic ingredients can tempt small animals to devour fruits in order to spread their seeds. There is no problem with its reproductive strategy.”
Ruan Xian hugged his arms and let out a sigh. “Simply put, the psychedelic just happens to be a byproduct of the ‘shuttle agent’.”
“Yes. The two components interact. If the components of the shuttle agent aren’t separated, and the concentration of psychedelic components in the organism is too high, it will induce the host to shuttle to the most suitable environment, and then stimulate seed germination.”
Jiang Lin said at the beginning that “raw fruit isn’t good for people”. It seemed that this was most likely the reason, but…
“The fireflies didn’t remove the seeds from the flickering grass?” Ruan Xian touched his chin.
“No. It’s a small grain and tastes a bit bitter.” Tang Yibu described the taste of that deadly thing honestly.
Ruan Xian probably guessed. Everything here didn’t make sense—electricity was being wasted uncontrollably, and the environment was appallingly clean. There must be a huge labor force to support all this, but the current world was in a state of struggle. As such, enthusiasm wasn’t enough and wouldn’t last long, so fireflies were undoubtedly an excellent weapon for controlling people’s hearts.
However, psychedelics will always hurt people. The more people contributed, the more fireflies they needed, and their physical fitness would gradually decrease.
Were the people sent to the hospital ruins sent to the dangerous frontlines because they were deeply trusted, or did Elysium simply not want them back?
Or, going a step further, hope that they would become part of the “resource” for later newcomers?
“Do you want to leave?” Tang Yibu interrupted his thinking. “I don’t want to leave yet.”
“If you’re saying that because of the food…”
“No.” Tang Yibu shook his head quickly. “I just think the situation here is very interesting.”
“If you still want to go back to the Walking Stones, we still have three days left.” Ruan Xian lowered his head and looked at Tang Yibu’s face buried in the pillow. “I have no opinion on staying here.”
“Do you want to help the lady just now?” Tang Yibu raised his eyebrows slightly and increased the volume of his voice. “Like the refuge—”
“No, I don’t owe her a favor.”
Ruan Xian stretched out his hand, his fingertips bypassing Tang Yibu’s long black hair, scattered on the pillow with no expression on his face. Then he leaned down and continued the next sentence in a whisper-like voice.
“…And I don’t believe a word of what she said.”
The Walking Stones.
Yu Le stretched out, holding the wine bottle in his arms contentedly, and collapsed on a tattered couch, casually looking through a pornographic magazine with a sexually explicit cover.
“Lao Yu.” Tu Rui’s projection suddenly flashed beside Yu Le.
The captain of the Walking Stones shuddered and almost lost the magazine in his hand. He tried to catch the magazine back in his hand a couple times before spatting out, “Fuck, Tu Rui. I’ll be scared to death by you sooner or later. Can you say hello next time? What if I had my pants off right now?”
“The newcomers are very honest, but we have lost the position information for Ruan Lijie and Tang Yibu. The final positioning of the two was somewhere west.” Tu Rui ignored the other party’s nonsense.
“I’m not sure, but most likely. I suggest removing the location tracking of these two people. If they eat fireflies, they will be sent back—”
“If they get sent back, it’s fine. We can still kill them. Ah, but only laozi can, you can’t.” Yu Le threw away the magazine in his hand casually and sounded a bit serious.
“What do you mean?”
“That Ruan Lijie is not so simple.”
“I can’t see it.”
“That’s normal. After all, our captain Tu is a righteous man and a public official.” Yu Le grinned. “As for me, I’ve been squatting in the brig for so long and have seen all kinds of lunatics. Guess who is most similar to Ruan Lijie? The most dangerous group of murderers. I can live to this day because I managed to avoid those groups of great uncles.”
“In the beginning, I purposefully teased him. That boy is stable enough. Fan Baiyan, that old bastard, may not be able to coax him.”
The author has something to say:
Tang is a good AI who knows how to have fun√
The issue of trust in troubled times is a big problem XDDD
Atropine* is a real drug, but the effect is made up by me. Don’t care (*/ωω*)
*It is a real drug that is a nervous system blocker used to treat heart rhythm problems, stomach or bowel problems, and certain types of poisoning when injected (so this part could be applicable).
Just a note on flickering grass (明灭草). The (明灭) in its name is a term used for appearing and vanishing (think now you see me, now you don’t), which is marked by its characteristic as seen in the novel.