Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 80: Basement
“I spent a lot of money on you City Defenders just to worry about the safety of my store in the middle of the night?” Qian Yigeng roared loudly into the communicator. “He An, you figure it out. If you—”
“Why, do you want to give me a price too?” He An’s voice in the communicator was particularly cold. “I’m not that girl Ji Xiaoman. For now, this is still a private matter between us. When A’Yu finds out about this, guess what he will do? Qian Yigeng, people have to learn to accept what they see. It’s been only a few years. Do you really think we’re a regular police force?”
Qian Yigeng swallowed the second half of the roar immediately. He gave the woman next to him a few fierce kicks and pulled his hair twice before adjusting his emotions. “I speak faster than I can think, so you can understand. Ji Xiaoman had just been taken away, and this happened at night. Someone is messing with me, He An. You know, personally, that my own business doesn’t conflict with the Underground City’s conventions. It’s not illegal to use machines to make money.”
After that, he shivered and poured himself a glass of wine. “This is the largest android business on the market. The women who have survived these days are all ruthless characters. How many potential dangers have I solved for the city? If my shop collapses, how many more things will happen on the streets?”
“The crime rate hasn’t really dropped much. Humans sometimes prefer to torment their own kind,” He An responded lightly. “Don’t talk nonsense if you have something to say.”
“When Ji Xiaoman comes up with a suitable cybernetic brain, I can use the excuse of an underground shop to sell fake humans. You will also have a share at that time.” Qian Yigeng wiped the sweat from his head.
“At that time, I’m afraid that most of them will genuinely be real humans,” He An sneered. “Come on, it’s just a person. They just burnt down one of your shops. It’s not that the end of the world—Oh, I forgot, your end had come a long time ago.”
“Is it good for you if I fall?” Qian Yigeng’s voice became sharp again. “Don’t look at the storefront. They are profitable! Q2 is our poster girl. She is…”
“It’s an old-fashioned cybernetic brain as good as mine.” Emotions couldn’t be heard in He An’s tone. “Are you sure you want to use her as an example? If it weren’t for my position being outside the shelf, she would be He An now, and I would be the unlucky ‘Tiantian’.”
“I’m not here to settle old accounts with you!”
“Listen, surname Qian.” He An’s voice became cold. “I’ll look into the store but don’t get paranoid here—there are fewer new people around and organizations are even less. At least we haven’t found anyone who wants to touch you.”
“So I deserve to eat the loss of the store myself?” Qian Yigeng pulled the robe on his body irritably. “This is no better than the old days. If something is burned, it really burns. I can’t find a second one. Their signature is marked all over the sky, yet you tell me this wasn’t premeditated—”
He An directly disconnected the call.
“Damn it, get out.” Qian Yigeng waved his hand wearily at the woman who was shrinking at the foot of the bed and drank the remaining wine in his cup. “The tops are completely useless. Laozi will find them himself.”
After He An interrupted contact, he stood alone outside the still burning store.
Because of his “human kindness”, Qian Yigeng’s shops enjoyed the highest priority security treatment. The fire had just subsided, and the smiley face in the sky hadn’t completely dissipated as the defenders rushed to the scene to maintain order as always.
The initial chaos didn’t last long. In order to ensure the basic safety of most people, many people routinely set up violent institutions to maintain the peace and keep the city barely operable. The selected City Defenders took up arms and began to act like quasi-Order Supervisors, and in return received some of the sources and benefits provided by the entire city.
People who were a little kind-hearted would try to join this organization, but in this period, kindness was always a scarce commodity. Young people prefer those crazy forces that form gangs. They were stronger, with a fearlessness that he didn’t know if it came from heroism or stupidity, and they were more inclined to plunder than protect. The turbulent waters between the forces lasted longer than the chaos, until finally a delicate balance was achieved…
The gangs were willing to succumb to the City Defenders who represented the majority of the population to a certain extent, and they also minimized market overlap with each other. Despite the friction, there have been many fewer major conflicts in recent years.
Qian Yigeng was one of those who managed to grab the erotic market. Although profits weren’t as good as those of inferior synthetic drugs and psychedelics, they were still regarded as among the best in terms of making money. From He An’s point of view, the other party was nothing like a hero. The height he had climbed to now was dependent entirely on the courage of a mouse that had almost no sense of morality.
This was what his memory told him. He An smiled mockingly. His human partner was looking for traces of prisoners near the shop. He wasn’t worried that the smile would be discovered by the other party.
The former human, He An, didn’t like to laugh like this. His smile should be more frivolous, or steadier, but not so sharp.
He An and Fu Yu had always been the best City Defenders of the city, and everyone who had lived here for some time knew it. The human He An didn’t die in the war, explosion, or intellectual attacks. After working as a City Defender for a long time, he died of a mediocre typhoid fever.
Fu Yu obviously couldn’t accept the death of his best friend. Unfortunately, the living were often forgotten. Now, except for MUL-01’s minions, no one could obtain memories from the brains of corpses. He had to piece together his memory and reprocess it, find the best doctor, and inject it into a cybernetic brain that he bought.
In a sense, this may be considered his own “birth”.
He An shook his head and changed his smile to greet his partner, who was walking towards him. “A’Yu, how’s it going?”
“It was ignited by chemicals. This was arson.” Fu Yu wiped the ash from his face and sighed. “The person who did this is very familiar with the layout of the store and has access to chemical resources. Is there no movement on Chang Yaqi’s side?”
“The slice of cake in the drug market in his hand is big enough. He won’t make a move on Qian Yigeng,” He An replied confidently, pulling the corners of his mouth. “Although Qian Yigeng also has some means of stealing some shares of the drug market, it’s considered that if “General Chang Sheng” wanted to make a move, he would pick a more suitable time. In addition, Chang Yaqi had no motivation to steal Ji Xiaoman. Everyone on the road knows that girl’s head is full of knowledge of cybernetic brains, not human brains.”
“I also think it’s weird.” Fu Yu pinched his brows, “Chang Yaqi’s signature has nothing to do with a smiley face, but I can’t think of it…”
“With emerging forces, let the big fish come out first. The one surnamed Chang is ruthless, while Qian Yigeng is a coward, more suitable to be targeted first. We haven’t heard anything, so it’s probably not a big issue. Maybe about 20 people max.” He An took out a cigarette from his bag. “I guess we won’t know until we go to the most chaotic place to investigate. It’s not peaceful here. You go back and rest. I’ll check it out.”
Fu Yu was taken aback, and his gaze moved to the rough homemade cigarette. “Do you smoke?”
He An paused then smiled brightly. “Well, I found it in the room… You see, I also have a lot of things I hide from you.”
“I’ll go with you.” Fu Yu opened his mouth and finally changed the subject.
“Come on. There’s a bunch of sick people in that place.” He An patted Fu Yu on the shoulder. “It’s enough for me to go alone. Why, can’t trust me?”
The other City Defender was silent.
He An smiled and retracted his hand. “I will bring your favorite noodles back. Don’t worry.”
While at this time, there were still three guests in a noodle restaurant that was open all night.
Yu Le frowned at the noodle soup bowl in front of him. “I see you eat very well. Aren’t you suspicious of it?”
“Why? I think it’s delicious,” Tang Yibu replied with a grin. Ruan Xian just conservatively ordered a few boiled eggs.
“I can’t eat.” Yu Le put down the branch chopsticks. “Young people are amazing. They just ate two bowls before and can still stuff more down now? That scene just now… Uh.”
Not so long ago, after Ji Xiaoman fell asleep, the two young men took him to the so-called prostitution hall.
“We went as guests. As a result, the people in the store mixed drugs into the champagne and took us to Qian Yigeng’s place.” Tang Yibu pointed to the seemingly harmless storefront in the dark.
At that time, there were a lot of people standing outside the small store, and the shop window that was supposed to display the “goods” was empty.
This should have been only a tentative first step. Do some damage; start with the shop that the opponent’s forces were most familiar with; and do it as soon as possible. This would keep the suspicion away from new visitors, buy them more preparation time, and observe Qian Yigeng’s reaction.
In terms of combat policy, Yu Le didn’t have the confidence to be thrown away. Regardless of Ji Xiaoman’s final decision, they would never make a mistake in their opening move. From misleading “bluffs” to step-by-step implementation, he didn’t have much opinion on the battle plans of the two lunatics—at least they seemed happy to participate in the fun game of “overturning Qian Yigeng”, instead of turning to him and forcing him to spit out the whereabouts of the old rebel site early and remove themselves from this muddy water as soon as possible.
Thus, he happily followed the two of them to bypass the guards, sneak into the store, and secretly release the young girls inside—even if he wasn’t sure whether those beautiful young people were humans. It was enough to test Qian Yigeng by burning a few random rooms. Besides, this was just an ordinary prostitution hall. Except for the slightly extravagant soft decoration, there was nothing special about it.
After seeing the scene under the shop, Yu Le completely changed his mind.
It was rare that he didn’t look at himself for the first time but turned towards the two people around him. Yu Le suspected that the scene was beyond his tolerance, and he had to find reference to his bottom line by looking at the two in order to quickly calm down.
However, Ruan Lijie had a rare serious expression, while Tang Yibu, who seemed indifferent to everything, also sank his face; the two were horribly silent. Bluntly put, the latter’s face was even uglier.
The huge basement was brightly lit. The pale light reflected caked blood. They couldn’t tell whether it was real or synthetic human bodies that were soaked in blood, swimming in a pool that was tightly packed like sardines. The imitation cybernetic brains and the old-fashioned cybernetic brains were neatly packaged on the shelf showing a stark contrast—the former was exactly the same as the one in Ji Xiaoman’s bag, which had a little bit of plastic, while the latter had a more metallic texture that wasn’t transparent, and its blue light was almost invisible.
This was like an extremely bloody butcher shop, if you ignored the gasoline metallic barrels.
The metal barrels were full of human brains, and there were no signs of organ preservation. They were more like waste to be treated.
Those brains weren’t intact and were roughly thrown into the bottom of the barrel, emitting a disgusting fishy smell. Everything had an almost plausible insanity to it and was so absurd in a theatrical sense. A large incinerator was burning at the far end of the room. None of them bothered to explore the contents. The bloodstains on the operating table in the room were enough to explain everything.
There was a multi-legged insect-like machine hanging on the operating table, and the tip was soaked in blood that hadn’t yet dried out. Yu Le wasn’t sure about its function, and he didn’t want to know.
The most comical thing was that there was no combination machine here. All of the machines retained their pre-apocalyptic characteristics with little modification. Even if Yu Le wasn’t an expert on machines, he could see that these machines belonged to the era before the end of the world.
“I have a question.” Ruan Lijie looked at the machines in the room without blinking. He didn’t get a response, so he continued.
Tang Yibu was holding his hand unconsciously, turning the boy surnamed Ruan’s hand white, but he didn’t intend to stop.
“…Anyone. Can anyone answer me, what were these things used for before the Great Rebellion?” Ruan Lijie’s cold black eyes were locked on the operating table, and his voice was extremely cold.