Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 72: Patrons
The box was loaded into a car, which made the flow of air suddenly slow down. The stench of corpses and excrement penetrated deep through the air holes, making people’s stomachs churn. The temperature in the car was surprisingly low, which quickly cooled the bathrobe that was desperately absorbing the heat from one’s skin. In comparison to the current high temperature in the room, it could be said to be equivalent to the treatment of pulling someone out of a fire and sticking them in ice.
Even if they had drunk two glasses of champagne mixed with drugs, they wouldn’t have dehydrated for some time. Putting two ordinary people in this environment, let alone escaping, it would be rare that they would even have the courage to move. Unfortunately, the two said people that were locked up weren’t normal humans.
Ruan Xian paid attention and silently recorded the speed, bumps, and steering as he hid the two blood guns in his bathrobe. Tang Yibu hugged his back, intending to reduce the speed of heat loss. They lay quietly in the box, dutifully playing the act of two passed-out men.
“I just took a look. The quality of their faces and figures is quite good. Thanks to you, we found two shells at once. Boss Qian is worried that there aren’t new products to launch. Great work, kid. You made a good contribution.” Ruan Xian paid careful attention again—this voice didn’t sound like it belonged to flower peacock, so it was probably one of the helpers he had called.
“It’s a pity it’s two men. It would be nice if they were women.” Flower peacock tried his best to hide the pride in his voice, pretending to be modest. “Men’s sales still aren’t strong.”
“Nonsense. Those beauties will obviously sell well. They’re still fresh, so they can be regarded as cash cows for those stores in the west district.” The man who was talking to flower peacock clicked his tongue twice. “Everyone knows that a core is easy to make these days, but the shell, not quite so much. Besides, think about what you sell. There are female customers, you know.”
“It’s also a recent thing that the core is easy to get,” flower peacock muttered. “Technical talents can always be found. Maybe one day they won’t make synthetic monsters anymore, and they can really make beautiful shells that can survive. At that time, we won’t have to hunt anymore. All problems are solved by just taking a few pictures. It’s not like now…”
“Hide your sneer before you complain. Fuck, I’m jealous. Why didn’t these white faces fall into my hands…”
After a sharp turn, the car continued to move forward. Ruan Xian frowned in the dark.
The words “core” and “shell” gave him a bad association.
“Do you know how to drive?”
A scream of pain sounded after the sound of a body bumping against a hard object. Flower peacock gritted his teeth.
“Jealous? Why don’t you talk to Boss Qian? Aren’t there so many styles that are still in season? Get them back and toss them around. Change up their clothes and hairstyle. Except for your regular customers, who would recognize them. Anyway, the organic printer is still in Boss Qian’s hands. As long as there’s fresh cell data, there will be as many shells as you want. If you ask me, although core hardware is easy to get, it’s the high-end personality data that’s key. The face will only attract people at most, but it’s the temperament that will retain them. Look at Tiantian in my shop. I refresh her memory once a week, so week after week she’s like a blazing horse, and the customers love it.”
Organic printer. This wasn’t the first time Ruan Xian had heard of this thing. When they were still in the forest refuge, the people in the refuge tried to use it to print the internal organs for their leader, Tian He. He still remembered the headless body rolling down the sink.
“It’s easy to just stand there and talk.” The man sneered. “Forget it. It’s not interesting to argue about this. Guess which stores these two behind us will be rewarded to?”
“It’s hard to say. Maybe the people on Boss Qian’s side will take them for themselves. Might as well bet that the android in the back will have its memories edited. Anyways, the taming period is only a week or two. The gang isn’t interested in keeping little sheep.”
Tang Yibu made a vague voice from his throat, which sounded a bit like a sneer. In the icy environment, the android was like a small burning stove, continuously emitting a steady stream of heat. The conversation in front of the car disappeared, and Ruan Xian shrank back and turned his face.
“Why are you in a bad mood?” he asked.
Tang Yibu was just staring at an old scratch mark on the wall of the box. The scratcher’s finger must have been torn, leaving a few bloodstains on the dull metal that was now rust-like auburn. Hearing Ruan Xian’s voice, he slowly turned his gaze back.
He wasn’t sure if he was seeing things, but Ruan Xian always felt that Tang Yibu’s gaze was slightly different from before.
“What do you mean? What state am I in that you consider it a bad mood?” The android began to ask questions rapidly.
“Ji Xiaoman’s shop. You heard that Qian Yigeng has the mind access needle for cybernetic brains, and after that you haven’t been quite right.” Ruan Xian mouthed the words so low that it was almost silent.
This wasn’t a good sign. His thick, cautious wall was collapsing, revealing the aggressive, hard thorns behind it. Ruan Xian knew that what happened not long ago was nothing more than a superficial affection between different species, and he shouldn’t be shaken by such a trivial matter.
However, once the demon in his heart was released, he didn’t want to return it to the box honestly. It frantically scratched the shell he had built for many years, and the instinct wrapped in it began to penetrate outward—the pitch-black caution was gradually stained with crimson madness, but this only made Ruan Xian feel happier than ever before. He once thought that he was just surviving dryly for a certain promise, or he was self-abusive and firmly believed that he, someone who nurtured a demon in his heart, wouldn’t die easily.
Now it seemed that his adoptive mother, Meng Yun, was right. Survival could also be very interesting.
He stared at Tang Yibu’s outline in the dark. His heartbeat didn’t slow down, just like a person who was locked in a black and white room and saw color for the first time.
“…” Tang Yibu rolled over, and for the first time, turned his back to Ruan Xian. Ruan Xian took a breath and poked the other’s back persistently.
“I don’t want instability around me. Tell me.”
The android remained silent.
“Okay, I’m a little worried about your state.” Ruan Xian slyly changed his statement and wiped the remaining blood stains on his face. He began to gradually master the knack of dealing with Tang Yibu—the android was purer than he had thought.
Tang Yibu turned his face slightly and glanced at Ruan Xian with the remaining light. After a few seconds, he slowly opened his mouth. “He’s not that kind of person.”
“…You mean Ruan Xian?”
“Well, although he is cruel, as far as I know, Ruan Xian rarely touches that kind of thing.” Tang Yibu’s voice was a bit muffled. The edges of the bathrobe soaked in blood and sweat had been frozen, becoming cold and hard. “Including his previous speeches to survivors everywhere, Ruan Xian has an almost extreme advocacy for the naturalness of personality and memory, which is one of the reasons why he firmly opposes MUL-01’s control of everything.”
“However, there were still androids in his time.” Ruan Xian carefully guided the topic.
“The existing prototype of the old-fashioned cybernetic brain was invented by Fan Linsong.” Tang Yibu turned back and curled up next to Ruan Xian. “At first it was only used for medical purposes and was strictly restricted thus Ruan Xian reluctantly agreed to this approach. Later, Plan Corp stole the core knowledge of cybernetic brain manufacturing and developed its own commercial cybernetic brain, and androids were officially born. Even if Ruan Xian had a lot of influence, it was impossible to beat a rival company with just one finger.”
“Symptoms such as brain damage and brain atrophy are induced by various causes. The human brain that has irrevocable damage would no doubt die within a period of time. At the beginning, the cybernetic brains were initially given to the families of these patients. They were able to extract the patient’s memories and personality data, put them in the cybernetic brain that’s highly similar to the function of a human brain, and then replace it with the human brain. This created an artificial intelligence that’s no different from me.”
Tang Yibu’s breathing made a white mist in the darkness.
“Physically, people started this alternative approach very early. Artificial heart, artificial lungs, artificial stomach… but this time it’s the brain. Family members need to sign countless confidentiality agreements before they can do this. Later, this project was revealed, and people called it the ’Farewell Project’. Since the start of this, Ruan Xian’s opposition hasn’t stopped.”
“Continue.” Ruan Xian also exhaled a white mist. His fingertips brushed Tang Yibu’s eyelids, causing the latter to scratch his head in surprise.
“Plan Corp went the other way. They used mechanical human tissue to make a shell, infused the cybernetic brain with artificial intelligence programs, and directly created androids, and put them into various fields such as escort, housekeeping, exploration of hazardous areas, extreme scientific research, and the like. Of course, the pornography industry certainly didn’t fall behind… These industries are too profitable, and Ruan Xian’s opposition didn’t have much effect. After all, machine life was put on the market some years ago, and the public’s acceptance was already high.”
“Then he went to research the Prototype?”
“Well, after that, Ruan Xian devoted himself to the research of mechanical weapons and instrumentation. The research on artificial intelligence didn’t stop. Later, the reason why they were not swallowed by Plan Corp was entirely due to the excellent derivative products of the three Prototypes… Of course, he and Fan Linsong also used androids as tools in their work, but unless there were extreme circumstances, they wouldn’t inject any data, let alone commercial behavior. Ruan Xian said…”
The corners of Tang Yibu’s mouth twitched, showing a strange expression that was a bit distorted.
“Ruan Xian said that tools are just tools, and human nature cannot be blasphemed. The public’s cognition hasn’t yet matured, and society has not yet had the ability to fully control artificial intelligence. Allowing android to develop in the market, Plan Corp is challenging human ethics.”
Ruan Xian suddenly found that his limbs were really cold, and he slowly exhaled. In his own right, he might also oppose the commercialization of androids too rashly, but the reason would never be this.
“You mean…” He swallowed. “Ruan Xian believes that the cybernetic brain carrying artificial intelligence is a ‘pure tool’?”
“Isn’t that what you are? Infused with human memory, you’re a perfect weapon for MUL-01.” Tang Yibu lowered his eyes. “I can still imagine why he gave the Prototype a personality setting, but if he’s using the mind access needle, I can’t think of a reason.”
“It seems that when we find him, I have to have a good talk with him,” Ruan Xian murmured.
“Then it depends on how much Mr. Qian Yigeng knows.” Tang Yibu patted the top of his head lightly.
At the same time, the front of the car was also lively.
“How long are we on this broken road? I need to pee,” flower peacock cried out indifferently.
“What’s the hurry. We just have to arrive before eight. Boss Qian collects the cybernetic brain first, and then he’ll come talk to us about this matter. Damn, I really envy that girl Ji Xiaoman. She sure seems busy, making so many imitation cybernetic brains day after day. That’s enough for laozi to eat, drink, and have fun for a week.”
“Oh,” Tang Yibu added flatly, “It seems that Miss Ji has also hidden a lot of information.”
Metal disposal dump.
“Who?” Ji Xiaoman’s voice was hoarse, and all the blades on her prosthetic limbs popped out. Yu Le neatly drew out the gun and held his breath. He was unfamiliar with life in this shitty place, and there was a group of mechanical life interfering. Although his opponent was just a little girl, he didn’t have much confidence in winning.
It was either face her head on or cause a distraction, and while she’s unprepared…
“Me.” Before Yu Le could make up his mind, another voice answered her. “Very keen, Xiaoman.”
“He An.” Ji Xiaoman’s voice became cold. “I said, don’t follow me.”
“Qian Yigeng is about to receive the goods, but you’re hunting here. I have to ask.” He An’s voice came from behind the gas mask, full of smiles.
“You can’t let your patron wait too long.”