Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 65: An Unfriendly Welcome
For the first time in Ruan Xian’s life, he fully understood how a ball in a pinball game felt.
The underground space wasn’t spacious, so the vehicle bumped and knocked around the stones, making an unpleasant noise that would make you want to grind your teeth. Ruan Xian didn’t have time to think about Tang Yibu’s situation—he was firmly strapped to the chair by a seatbelt, his face buried in the airbag, and his entire field of vision was turned upside down.
The stereo in the car was still dutifully playing Yu Le’s fast-paced love song, and it was so noisy that Ruan Xian wanted to strangle or break something.
A rollover was no better than a free fall. It may have been a century before this off-road vehicle stopped rolling down the slope. Suddenly, it got stuck obliquely in the darkness and the sound of gravel rolling down hadn’t stopped, indicating there was still a long way down below.
Ruan Xian pushed away the airbag on his face, took a big breath of fresh air, and then listened to the movement around him. The good news was that the orderly guards guarding the wall wouldn’t chase after them thanklessly, but the bad news was obvious; there weren’t many people near them.
This car was stuck in a position where it couldn’t go up or down.
A loud bang suddenly sounded as something jumped onto the side of the car. The next second, Tang Yibu leaned his head into the car window that Ruan Xian hadn’t had time to close. “How far are we from the Underground United City?”
“How would I know.” Yu Le’s voice was muffled as his face was still buried in the airbag.
“‘I know what I’m doing’,” Ruan Xian dryly mocked Yu Le’s speech.
“Nonsense, I know where lost things can enter the sewers, and I also know that the water in the sewer is still flowing, and the pipe isn’t blocked. Isn’t this not enough? As for which part of the pipe that we’re stuck in, well, that I don’t know.” Yu Le continued to bury his face in the airbag. “Of course, this isn’t the end. The car is simply stuck, so we just need to—”
The sound of metal hitting metal sounded. The sound of the iron bead came from far to close and, after a long rattle, it slammed into the roof of the car, causing the car to shake slightly and the sound of gravel sliding became louder.
Then the car began to slide down the slope at an increasing speed.
Things weren’t looking good.
“Come in!” Ruan Xian grabbed Tang Yibu’s collar and forcibly dragged the android into the car under a burst of adrenaline. The iron bead screamed a few times and quickly squeezed into the car with Tang Yibu. Coupled with the airbag and Tang Yibu, who was quite large in size, the entire rear space was packed to the brim that Ruan Xian even heard the sound of the glass in front of him cracking.
Before the off-road vehicle slid too fast, Yu Le made a simple gesture and took the opportunity to increase the volume of the music.
In the deafening sound of music, the bulky off-roader began to roll again, faster and faster. Tang Yibu clung to Ruan Xian tightly; his strength resembling a frightened koala. The iron bead had also pasted itself all over as its four small metal feet stuck to Ruan Xian’s clothes like pins, fixating itself firmly against him. When Ruan Xian began to wonder if his ribs had been forcibly crushed, the car slammed into the ground again with the high-pitched roar of music.
Although there was still no human movement nearby, this time Ruan Xian heard a sound resembling a city in the distance.
After hitting the ground four times in a row, the off-road vehicle finally landed on its four wheels. Ruan Xian groaned, then tore off the iron bead that was clinging to him and threw it in front of the window of the car. He then pushed Tang Yibu away rudely, coughed twice, kicked the door and stretched out his hand to vomit violently.
“In the end, he’s still a young kid.” Yu Le put away his airbag, picked up a can of cured ham from the pile of food scattered under his feet, and tore off the lid. After speaking, he opened another bag of self-heating food and simply threw the cured ham into the lunch box. “Just let it out. It’s good to just let it all out.”
Following Yu Le’s example, Tang Yibu put away the airbag, occupied half of Ruan Xian’s chair, and gently patted the latter’s back.
Ruan Xian hadn’t eaten much, so it didn’t take long for him to empty his entire stomach. He wiped his mouth weakly and took some water from the water dispenser in the front seat of the car to rinse out his mouth. Tang Yibu squeezed out of his seat and got out of the car and turned around.”
“Junkyard,” the android reported dutifully.
They fell into a huge garbage dump. All kinds of rusted mechanical fragments were mixed with domestic garbage, piled into one hilly mountain one after another in the darkness. However, there was no strong smell. It seemed as if someone had been taking care of it—someone probably used a sifting spray and a garbage disposal robot. Finally suppressing his nausea, Ruan Xian got himself a sweet drink and followed Tang Yibu out of the car.
As soon as he got out of the car, the soles of his feet crushed something. Ruan Xian clicked his tongue, then carefully moved his feet away from the mysterious pool of mucus.
“It’s a green poisonous snail.” Tang Yibu looked down. “Don’t let the mucus get on your skin. Even if you can recover, the aftereffects will be enough.”
Ruan Xian didn’t speak and just looked at Tang Yibu’s hands full of blood.
“It’s not my blood.” Tang Yibu quickly waved his hand and pointed to the blood-soaked sleeve. His voice softened. “This is.”
“I can guess. After all, it’s impossible for brain tissue to come out of your hands, and I smell brain matter. I will help you deal with your wound in a bit.” Ruan Xian lowered his voice. “Let’s not talk about this. Yu Le is suspicious. Before we came down, he was still testing me, trying to see whether you’re an android.”
“I’m not surprised.” Tang Yibu was calm. “After all, you don’t have any romantic mood at all.”
“…” Ruan Xian wiped his face. “Even with intuitive education, I really don’t need artificial intelligence to guide me in this regard.”
“This can be explained scientifically. It stands to reason that if the level of specific human hormones in love rises, they will do something stupid. You have a humanoid body that can secrete hormones, and you also have adaptive personality data, which theoretically means you’ll be able to produce similar emotions.”
Tang Yibu stretched out his hand and gently wiped off the small gravel on Ruan Xian’s face.
“For example, looking at each other affectionately… I have read a lot of information and can perfectly replicate those reactions and performances. Looking at your cooperation, the ‘you’ in my memory seems to have no love history, and I haven’t seen many related images. Based on the rough description of language and text alone, you can’t disguise it well.”
After withdrawing his hand, Tang Yi took a step forward and pulled Ruan Xian’s face. “In addition, don’t knock on artificial intelligence. I said it before that the human and cybernetic brain is essentially organic computers. What’s more, your brain structure is not that much different from mine. Everything is just an illusion created by personality data.”
Ruan Xian pushed Tang Yibu’s hand away with no expression on his face. “First think about how to deal with Yu Le.”
“It’s very simple, just admit it.” Tang Yibu spread out his hands generously, “The Underground United City isn’t the Sea of Ruins. Even if he knows it now, he can’t do anything. However, we have to wait for the right time. I don’t think there is a shortage of time here.”
“I don’t like this way of keeping people guessing*. “
*Selling guanzi (卖关子) Metaphor for speaking/doing things when it’s urgent to make the other party anxious.
“I don’t like to tell unpleasant facts.” Tang Yibu shook his head. “According to the information I know, you will soon be able to feel it firsthand.”
“Why don’t I go for a walk around and you two do a quickie in the back seat of the car?” Yu Le finished all the food in his lunch box and honked on the horn twice in the distance. “The junkyard isn’t very comfortable. Can you restrain yourself and talk about it when we enter the city?”
Tang Yibu waved his hand at Yu Le, quickly gave a peck on the tip of Ruan Xian’s nose under the gaze of the other party and pulled him to the back seat of the car. The iron bead crawled out of the car window and, in a flash, climbed back in again.
After the car door closed, Yu Le was clearly in a good mood when he saw the two of them were honestly shut on the other side of the glass again. He started the car, scanned the light screen for a while, and started heading in a certain direction, but after a few movements, the car wobbled to a halt again.
“What’s the matter?” Ruan Xian was wiping his face with a wet towel when the abrupt brake made him almost choke on the water in the towel.
“…The thermal conductivity controller is broken, damn it.” Yu Le jumped out of the car skillfully, lifted the hood of the car, and held the small flashlight in his mouth. “Yeah, the parts have been smashed. We have to be careful. Without thermal conduction, the car may blow up due to energy overload.”
“It sounds like half your life is gone.” Tang Yibu hit the nail on the head.
“Fuck you. The car given by Tu Rui is unreliable. If it was my car, I only need an engine and a frame to make it run.”
Yu Le bitterly returned to the seat of the car and turned off the music.
“Okay, no one can listen to music now. To avoid any potential danger, we have to minimize the energy consumption of this car as much as possible. Before the enemy get a chance to kill us, we will die from an explosion due to overheating. It’s better to enter the city and find a few capable mechanics to repair or replace it, and it’ll be good as new.”
He didn’t know whether it was intentional or not, but Yu Le didn’t bring up the topic of “android” anymore.
In the silent darkness, the car drove slowly through the mountains of garbage. At Yu Le’s snail-like pace, Ruan Xian began to desperately miss those days in the wilderness. He lowered his head, grabbed Tang Yibu’s arm, checked the wound carefully, and tried to avoid looking at Yu Le’s eyes in the rearview mirror. After bandaging it with gauze, he put his hand on the back of Tang Yibu’s head, just intending to mislead Yu Le by giving Tang Yibu a kiss…
“See? Like laozi said, I know exactly what I’m doing.” Yu Le drove to the top of a garbage mountain and grinned.
Ruan Xian saw the city in the dark.
Hard ridged support beams propped up horizontally and vertically, forming an irregular mesh structure that looked like a sponge under a microscope. There was faintly milky white fluorescence flashing in the dark. The buildings of the entire city were built around a net, like cells embedded in a skeleton. It glowed in the dark and the air was turbid with warning lights sweeping to and fro.
A three-dimensional city, but compared to the city, Ruan Xian always felt that this thing was more like a maze. Unlike in the forest refuge, he couldn’t see the boundary of this thing at a glance.
“Are you ready?” Yu Le drove the car forward a little bit again, “I’m going to rush—”
Before Ruan Xian could open his mouth, the car slid down the garbage mountain.
The steep slope couldn’t support the armored off-roader that weighed over ten tons. As the car got faster under the action of gravity, it rushed straight into the direction of the city. Just when Ruan Xian thought they were going to move at this speed forever, something was approaching quickly.
“Stop the car! There is…” Ruan Xian immediately shouted, but it was a pity that he was a step too late.
Several huge sticky balls flew from all directions, sticking the car firmly in place. They weren’t heavy themselves, but they were extraordinarily tough and extremely sticky. The windows on all sides of the car were completely blocked by the sticky balls. If they were to accelerate and try to squeeze past these things, the car would potentially rollover.
“It’s reported that there are survivors entering near junkyard A.” A young man’s voice was broadcast across the car door. “He An, record the data.”
“Will do, will do.” The other man sounded like he hadn’t woken up. “Everyone inside, come out obediently. This is a visitor control field. Even if you can beat us into meat sauce, someone can remotely burn you like gas. Cooperate and let me see what weapons you have in your hands. I am a representative of the Underground United City and can… How do you say it?”
“Expel you,” the other person added angrily.
“Right, expel you.” The man seemed to be using some kind of equipment, and after a slight beep, the car door opened in response.
“Listen to them,” Yu Le muttered in a low voice as he raised his hands.
Ruan Xian complied cooperatively, looking vigilantly at the grinning man in front of him. The man was wearing a guard uniform that he wasn’t familiar with. He was very tall and had a handsome appearance that wasn’t in tune with the surrounding environment. Aware of his eyes, the man smiled at him, but there was no smile in his eyes.
Ruan Xian was familiar with those eyes.
They were golden with a metallic luster, shimmering in the dark.
The author has something to say:
Ruan: …It’s my fault that I haven’t watched many romantic dramas and movies.
After all, Tang had done countless watching (?