Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 59: Dangerous Call
Yu Le smoked two cigarettes in the direction of the Sea of Ruins, then closed the window and officially started the car. He adjusted the interior rearview mirror, glanced at the two young people sitting in the back seat, and snorted.
“Thanks to the two of you, I have driving fatigue.” He held the steering wheel with his left hand and used his right hand to point his middle finger at Tang Yibu. “I’ll be bumping into things later…”
“Mr. Tu said that if something happens to this car, he will kill you personally.” Tang Yibu showed that bright and invulnerable smile again and emphasized the word “personally”.
Yu Le cursed in a low voice.
The engine of the heavy armored off-roader hummed lowly, and several operation light screens appeared in Yu Le’s hands. For the captain of the main ship of the Walking Stones, this task was just a trivial matter—Yu Le didn’t even look at it. He clicked on a few screens casually, and the car took a sharp turn and drove away from the Sea of Ruins.
Ruan Xian leaned against the window. The desolate scenery outside the window was dissolved by the night and turned into a paste. They quickly regressed, and the withered vegetation was much the same as the sand and gravel, like a cheap loop cutscene.
After a stuffy day in the ruins of the dilapidated ship, Tang Yibu was much more excited than he was. The android hummed the upside-down version of “Step by Step” again, tore off a piece of soft cloth from the luggage rack, and rubbed the iron bead that was trying to eat the decoration on the back of the chair.
“It would be nice if you could take a bath here,” Tang Yibu commented enthusiastically. He threw the iron bead that had been wiped down to Ruan Xian, and then stuffed all the cherry soda in his bag into the freezer. “I have always wanted to go to Underground United City, and I want to leave with a better impression of it.”
Ruan Xian took the iron bead. The little thing rolled half a circle on his thigh and began to bite the metal button on his sleeve. Ruan Xian tapped the thick shell twice. “You seem to be very interested in everything.”
With Yu Le, they could no longer communicate without scruples. Tang Yibu, at the very least, would no longer speak in his peculiar manner. Ruan Xian stared at Tang Yibu, who was desperately wiping his face with a towel, and slowed down his breathing.
Before arriving at the Underground United City, he must continue to pretend to be in a relationship with the android. It was best to stay calm. If something were to happen, he would kiss or have to kiss him. It was estimated that the healing blood gun wouldn’t be useful in the city.
“Because it’s fresh.” Tang Yibu took some water from the water maker and rubbed the stubborn blood stains on his face. “Each petri dish has its own set of ecology, which makes for a very good adventure.”
When he said this, Tang Yibu wasn’t expressionless. Except for the way he deliberately showed this to Yu Le, his micro-expression became clearer. This weird android really liked this journey. It was as if they were just planning to travel abroad rather than engage in dangerous actions under the nose of the Mainbrain.
“Oh.” Ruan Xian looked out the window and decided to test it from another angle. “I thought you wouldn’t bring the iron bead. After all, it’s useless to you.”
“It wants to be friends with us!” Tang Yibu had “how can you say that” written all over his face, sounding a little shocked. “It’s different from Yu Le. The recipe basically doesn’t overlap with ours. Since there’s no conflict of interest, as the saying goes, good company on the road is the shortest cut*.”
*(多个朋友多条路) Proverb that means traveling alone can seem much longer than when you do it in pleasant company.
Ruan Xian began to have a headache. Yu Le, in the driver’s seat, gave a loud huff. “At least Yu Le, whose recipe seems to overlap with yours, can drive. Apart from rattling, can this thing even fart? Not everywhere would have a dangerous thing like the Annihilation Point.”
The iron bead screeched, jumped up and slammed into the bulletproof glass, causing it to crack.
Yu Le: “……”
“Mr. Yu, according to Tu Rui’s love for this car, I think the damage just now is worth a punch.” Tang Yibu touched the shell of the iron bead approvingly. The latter made a grunting sound, and the three eyes in the gap stared at Yu Le tightly.
“Don’t encourage it.” Ruan Xian rubbed his temples. “It’s not good for anyone if the glass breaks. Mr. Yu is already reaching for his gun.”
The iron bead made a series of angry rattling noises.
“I don’t think it likes us coming and going every day.” Tang Yibu leaned over and touched the iron bead lying on Ruan Xian’s thigh. “We have to give it a name.”
“I think ‘asshole’ is good,” Yu Le muttered, causing the iron bead to smack into the glass again, adding a brand-new crack into the bulletproof glass.
“Do you have any ideas, Mr. Ruan?” Tang Yibu ignored Yu Le and blinked at Ruan Xian. “After all, people… Ahem, everyone likes to name things.”
“I have no thoughts. I haven’t raised anything before.” Ruan Xian turned his head and looked out the window again.
After thinking about it carefully, he didn’t seem to have much of his own. Of course, he had money and assets that were worth more than what ordinary people could ever save in their lives, but he didn’t have the time or chance to spend it—
Although the rooms of the institute were arranged according to his wishes, they were specially disinfected by the people who come and go every day. After the age of twenty-five, his condition deteriorated further, and he basically wouldn’t step out of the building of the institute. His body slowly and irrevocably weakened, and the three meals a day gradually decreased, and in the end, only specially treated fluid food was left or he simply was infused with medicine to maintain his necessary nutrition.
The assets in his account were increasing rapidly, but his life was getting paler.
Later, NUL-00 was basically his only remaining subject of conversation. As the top figure in the institute, because of his appalling appearance and bad health, no one dared to speak loudly in front of him, let alone communicate bluntly.
And he didn’t even name NUL-00. It was just a system number of the project. If he could do it all over again, maybe he would give it a special name. He never even asked what it thought about it…
“Oh…” Tang Yibu sighed slightly, pulling him out of his memories. “In other words, it’s just you and me, iron bead. Now, I’ll come up with a name. If you like it, rattle three times. If you don’t like it, rattle once.”
Ruan Xian turned his head. Tang Yibu picked up the iron bead with both hands, raised it in front of him, and looked at its three little eyes.
“It’s starting to tremble.” Ruan Xian couldn’t watch it anymore, so he kindly prompted. “You sound like you really want to eat it.”
“But it’s spherical,” Tang Yibu said solemnly, trying to look at the iron bead. “Those names sound much better than iron bead.”
“You mean ‘much more delicious’… Forget it. Let me think about it too.” Ruan Xian pinched the center of his brows, then tapped the iron bead with his knuckle. “π*, how about this name? At least it’s a little bit related to a sphere.”
*Spelled Pi but pronounced like pie, it’s a mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle circumference to its diameter, approximately 3.14… It’s an infinite number. || Technically, a circle and a sphere are different, but nevertheless related.
“Gwah, gwah, gwah!” the iron bead hurriedly affirmed.
“Then π it is.” Ruan Xian shrugged. “It likes the name.”
“Strictly speaking, this pronunciation is also a kind of food.” Tang Yibu didn’t object. “You just added to the package.”
“Let me interrupt.” Yu Le turned his head solemnly and interrupted the conversation. “Did you two graduate from kindergarten?”
The iron bead that just got its name smacked into the bulletproof glass wall for the third time. Yu Le swallowed the freshly baked rice-shaped crackers he was eating before continuing, “When I didn’t say… Forget it, let’s talk about something serious. How old are you two?”
“More than 28.” Ruan Xian spoke straightforwardly. In a sense, this was indeed true. After smacking into the glass, the iron bead crawled back into Ruan Xian’s thigh and laid down angrily.
“25 years old.” Tang Yibu lied seriously.
“It’s nice to be young that you can make mistakes in front of your target.” Yu Le played with his tongue for a while. “Old people like me are envious. Laozi’s 36. I’ll be called Yu Ge from now on. You hear me?”
“At this rate, we will be able to reach the border of the Underground City in about four days. Coupled with the time to search for the remnants of the rebel army, it will take half a month to complete the plan. Does your “from now on” refer to this time period?” Tang Yibu spoke with bad intentions as he stared at the rice cracker.
“Fuck you and your four days. I’m going to sleep!”
“I’ll drive for you if you’ll authorize me—”
“Dream on!” Yu Le snapped, then flicked the floating music icon skillfully. Bach’s music floated out and Yu Le’s face became painfully visible to the naked eye. “Damn Tu Rui…”
He operated his metal wristband with one hand for a while, and less than ten seconds later, the Bach music in the car turned into an explicit love song as moans rang out. Lao Yu let out a long sigh and shook his head to the beat.
“Is there a Carol Young song?” Tang Yibu began to request.
Yu Le glared at him and mumbled vaguely.
“Is there a Carol Young song, Yu Ge?” Tang Yibu knew well when to advance and when to retreat.
“When this album is finished, I’ll play one for you. Kid your taste is quite popular,” Yu Le said with satisfaction. “Driving in the middle of the night is also boring. Accompany me for a while, and I will play you five songs.”
Tang Yibu nodded quickly. Ruan Xian tore open a bag of beef jerky and had no intention of joining the conversation. Unfortunately, Yu Le didn’t let him off easily—he didn’t know if it was because of curiosity or suspicion that the former captain of the Walking Stones picked a rather deadly topic.
“How did you two meet?” From this angle, they could only see the back of Yu Le’s head and the sharp eyes in the rearview mirror. “It’s not just me. You two are excellent quality. Most of the people who can survive these days are crooked melons and cracked dates*. Occasionally, there are a few beauties who want stability, so they pair with those crooked melons and cracked dates. Not to mention the fact that homosexuals are even rarer, and that both sides have top appearance. Did you meet before the end of the world? Or…?”
*(歪瓜裂枣) Idiom referring to something that’s ugly.
Ruan Xian became alert instantly. Not to mention that he still didn’t know much about the world, due to his physical factors, his love experience was completely zero. Not only that, Yu Le was an experienced human. He was afraid he would expose his horse’s feet* with just a few sentences.
*(露马脚) Metaphor referring to giving oneself away/exposing the hidden truths.
He stopped chewing, looked at Tang Yibu, and made his voice sound lazy. “You tell him, Yibu.”
“After the end of the world.” Tang Yibu accepted the topic very naturally. His eyes slightly bent because of a smile. “It was just such a coincidence. Didn’t I tell you that I came out of Petri Dish No. 1036?”
“Uh-huh, I heard Tu Rui mention this.”
“At that time, I was looking for some kind of valuable resource outside, but I met Mr. Ruan, who had just crawled out of a dormant warehouse. At that time, he was still recovering from hibernation, and he couldn’t even stand. I took him back to the base and became acquainted with him.”
“Wow, the hero saves a beauty.”
Ruan Xian’s face was a little stiff. Tang Yibu’s words were half-true and half-false, but it was easy for him to follow.
“In short, we develop a relationship, and our personalities are quite compatible. After going through so many scruples, things just happened.” Tang Yibu touched the back of Ruan Xian’s head. “That’s all.”
“How did you pass the time?” Yu Le persisted. “Xiao Ruan, you can continue. How the hell did you two get along? You don’t seem to be the type who’s willing to make promises, so why do you like this annoying kid? If you want to dump him one day, I can also consider a man…”
“I’m starting to find him annoying.” Ruan Xian swallowed the beef jerky in his mouth and spoke calmly. “I was terribly weak at the time, and the first thing he did was kiss me.”
Since Tang Yibu threw this deck of cards over, he could catch it.
“That’s because of your body… You needed artificial respiration!” Tang Yibu cried aggrieved, though he wondered if the grievance was actually fake.
“That doesn’t prevent me from finding you annoying. In addition, not many men like to be held in the arms of another man.”
“Hey, that’s too much. It’s not like I can drag or carry—”
Ruan Xian smiled. The content and reaction of this conversation were extremely smooth, and no one could pick out anything suspicious.
“It’s true that we met like that. It wasn’t very pleasant.” Ruan Xian spread his hands at Yu Le. “As for why I like him? Later, I found out that he’s an unexpectedly simple person. Once, when an attack was about to happen, this fool dragged me to dance in the ruins. I know he didn’t think too much about it, but that… felt good.”
“Oh, seems like it’s mutual, Xiao Tang.” Yu Le whistled.
“Also, I like his eyes. That’s all.” Ruan Xian threw another piece of jerky into his mouth and stuffed the plastic bag to π on his knee.
“Do you like my eyes?” Tang Yibu pressed his face closer. “You never mentioned it to me—”
“Don’t be too proud.” Ruan Xian pushed the android’s face away. “I confessed and he accepted it. I also have no plans to change boyfriends for the time being. Is there anything else you want to ask? I’m just telling you upfront, if you ask any more, there’s only adult paid content left.”
“Oh, what a pity.” Yu Le accelerated his driving speed.
While Ruan Xian lay back in his chair, Tang Yibu leaned his head over again and quickly rubbed his cheek.
“Do you really like my eyes?” The android continued with interest.
“Then I’ll keep watching you more,” Tang Yibu replied happily. “Besides, I won’t get tired of it.”
Ruan Xian stopped breathing for a moment, then he smiled at Tang Yibu with a perfect lover’s smile and continued to eat the jerky in the bag.
Lao Yu rolled his eyes. He pulled up a song list for a while and put on Carol Young’s “Farewell Without Saying Goodbye”. He slammed on the steering wheel. The time was approaching midnight.
“Look, that’s the dead wall of Petri Dish No. 1036 over there.”
He nodded to the right side of the car with his unshaven chin. The dark, dead wall was almost swallowed up by the night.
“A few kilometers further, this wall is regarded as the dead wall of the Underground City. There are marshes and mountains separating it from the petri dish. To get to the Underground City, the Sea of Ruins is the safest way. Otherwise, you have to choose the mountains, sea routes, or No. 1489…”
Before he finished speaking, there was a beep from Ruan Xian’s electronic wristband.
“Whoa, is there still a signal here? This is new.” As soon as Lao Yu stepped on the brakes, the vehicle slowly stopped in the wilderness. “Pick it up?”
Ruan Xian scanned the name on the light screen, turned around, and excluded Tang Yibu from the scanning range of the light screen.
His back was sweating slightly.
Guan Haiming’s name jumped on the light screen, but he obviously shouldn’t have the ability to send signals outside the dead wall. They just got away with it under Yu Le’s noses, and another test appeared…
In Guan Haiming’s mind, Tang Yibu wasn’t his sweet boyfriend, but a STR-Y type 307a231 with almost no sense of autonomy.
Things were about to get troublesome.
The author has something to say：
Tang: You like my eyes!
Tang: (Stares hard)
The iron bead finally has a name. Congratulations! XD