Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 87: Real Name
A somewhat large gas mask hung on the little girl’s chest, and her small face was covered with dirt mixed with sweat and soot. She was looking at them carefully from the crevices of the damaged ruins—mainly staring at the hardtack that Ruan Xian had crumbled most of.
Tang Yibu released Ruan Xian’s waist. Ruan Xian had never felt the two facts so vividly. First, the beast in front of him could never be tamed. Second, he seemed to become accustomed to this kind of murderous intent.
Realizing that Yu Le was still watching, he took advantage of the situation and pinched the tip of Tang Yibu’s nose, making his movements look intimate.
“Most people will try to express good feelings and hide malice. It’s rare for you to do the opposite.”
Tang Yibu wrinkled his nose and didn’t answer, just showing a slightly sweet smile.
“It’s not that easy to set me up, baby. I don’t even know your origin, so how can I know who you’re familiar with?” Ruan Xian made his tone sound relaxed and determined while his back was soaked in cold sweat. He didn’t look at Tang Yibu’s expression anymore, but instead stretched out his hand to the little girl and gave her some hardtacks that had been crumbled to small pieces.
Tiantian grabbed it and stuffed it directly into her mouth with her dirty hands. She choked on the pieces and coughed. Yu Le finally put away his awl-like gaze. He scratched his hair irritably, pulled back the little girl who was rushing towards the dirty puddle, and slapped the hardtack crumbs out of her hands.
“Wipe your hands first.” He pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket, removed the water cup from his belt, and poured a glass of water. “Don’t drink from the ground; it’s too dirty.”
At the first sight of the ruthless-looking Yu Le, Tiantian couldn’t stop shivering. Although her eyes were grateful, fear still prevailed, and she almost couldn’t hold the water cup due to her tremors.
“What a sin.” Yu Le didn’t ask much, and took a step back thoughtfully, smacking his tongue for a while.
With clean water, the little girl broke off pieces of the hardtack and stuffed them into her mouth. Then she began to pick up the pieces that had fallen and were mixed with dirt on the ground. She carefully picked out the hardtacks, wrapped them in a handkerchief solemnly, and then stood up tremblingly.
“…Thank you.” She stuck back into the gap between the ruins. The bruise on her face hadn’t disappeared, and her whole body was like a frightened rabbit. “How did you know I was here?”
“As soon as something goes wrong in that peacock’s shop, Qian Yigeng will definitely have eyes on you. If I were you, I wouldn’t run around. Instead, I would stay in the ruins to observe the situation. It’s not too late to come out after the limelight has passed.” Ruan Xian took out a pack of hardtack from her pocket. “And I have seen it briefly. This is one of the few places near the ruins where water can be obtained, and it’s the most hidden one.”
In addition, he also smelled his own smell nearby—she would not easily discard the gas mask that he gave away, which has now become equivalent to a physical locator.
It was just that this reason wasn’t suitable to be disclosed. The reason he gave should be sufficient for the little girl and Yu Le.
“I see.” Despite being saved, Tiantian’s eyes remained vigilant. “Thank you for your help. I…I’ll go first.”
The little girl’s back stiffened, and her whole body tightened.
“Old-fashioned cybernetic brain, right?” Tang Yibu happily pointed out the facts as he pointed to his golden eyes. “We didn’t come here to smash your head off, right Mr. Ruan?”
Tiantian’s face turned a little blue.
“Old-fashioned cybernetic brain… Impossible.” She clasped her hands unconsciously. “My name is Bai Tian. Those people caught me for two weeks. They…They treated me…”
Her eyes were blank for a while, and she changed the subject as she lowered her voice. “In short, I remember a lot of things before the end of the world. I was seriously injured when I first fell, and the scar on my face was still there. I can’t be an android…”
“Do you remember the current year?” Tang Yibu’s tone became gentle.
“One year or two years after 2100, right? I… I don’t remember very clearly. I was burned badly for a while.”
“It’s 2107. I’m sorry, Miss Bai Tian.” Tang Yibu shook his head. “It seems to be an old-fashioned cybernetic brain, Mr. Ruan. She doesn’t seem to remember much useful information.”
The little girl took a step back. She didn’t seem to be too shocked, but there was a sad paranoia in her eyes.
“We’re willing to provide food and water and will not touch you. You can take the supplies and hide them wherever you want. I can even give you a gun.” Ruan Xian stretched out a hand, gesturing for a handshake. “In return, the cooperation is simple. You just need to bring this with you.”
He pulled out a communicator from his pocket. The communicator was as big as half a coin, and the thickness was about three sheets of paper. He tore off the viscose behind the communicator, raised it with his fingertips, and made a “please” gesture to the female android.
“Tracking, huh?” Yu Le raised his eyebrows. “You deliberately brought us here just to put a tracker on a little girl? Seriously, this girl is scared. We can take her to Ji Xiaoman…”
“Ji Xiaoman doesn’t need to know about this.” Ruan Xian put all the remaining food in the bag in front of him, still holding the communicator that had tracking on it. “We also have to have our own little secrets.”
Tiantian, or rather Bai Tian, swallowed a few mouthfuls of saliva to the food on the ground. After about half a minute, she took a deep breath and stuck the small communicator behind her ear. The girl was still shaking, and she was quiet for some time.
“First, give me a gun.” She stretched out a thin hand.
She held the weapon tightly in her arms after getting it. The android who was loaded with the memory of “Bai Tian” didn’t ask for their purpose, nor did she collapse or cry. She just wrapped the food in the plastic cloth she had pulled out from somewhere and dug back into the gap between the ruins.
“Thank you.” Putting her face close to the gap, Bai Tian’s expression was a bit dazed. “Just throw things in from here. I’ll get them myself… You will come again, right?”
Meanwhile, in the modified truck, Ji Xiaoman was looking at the iron bead solemnly. Her mother had finished eating and was taking a nap with the unfinished knitted fabric in her hand.
She was finishing the final part of Ruan Xian’s medicine and filling up a syringe. The iron bead bypassed her feet rather unkindly and quietly rolled towards the densest area of parts. Unfortunately, before the iron bead could enact even half of its sneaky plan, it was stepped on by Ji Xiaoman.
It rolled over and nibbled on Ji Xiaoman’s shoe while making a threatening whimper.
Ji Xiaoman sighed, picked up a scrap part from the table, and threw it into the air. The iron bead instantly loosened its bite on her shoe and caught the part steadily. It clicked and chewed off the metal parts with satisfaction, rolled lazily on the ground, and then stopped again at Ji Xiaoman’s feet with its three small eyes gleaming.
Ji Xiaoman hesitated for a few seconds, then picked out a few badly worn screws. This time she pinched them with her metal hands, squatted down, and sprinkled the screws on the floor in front of the iron bead. The iron bead lowered its head and ate very happily. Ji Xiaoman gently touched the metal shell of the iron bead with her metal fingertips and her eyes softened.
“Good boy,” she whispered.
Then Ji Xiaoman seemed to think of something, and her eyes dimmed. She scratched the shell of the iron bead with her sharp fingers again, and then slowly retracted her hand.
“I’m sorry,” she murmured again. “If something happens to them, I won’t throw you away.”
The young mechanic stood up, pulled the blanket over the bed, and gently covered her mother. She kissed her mother’s forehead and carefully pushed back a few strands of loose hair with her fingers.
“Mom, I love you.” Ji Xiaoman sighed cautiously.
There wasn’t much time left before the reset, and she knew it well. She believed Qian Yigeng knew better than her. These strange outsiders were more capable than she thought, but they were strangers after all. Putting your hopes in people who you didn’t know would be a great folly, and everyone in the Underground City knew this.
Relying on the information she had obtained, if the three of them did enough damage, and enough androids that were equipped with the old-fashioned cybernetic brains had escaped, as long as they persisted for a while, based on Qian Yigeng’s temperament, that bastard would definitely activate the “Return South Wild Geese” and forcibly recall all androids equipped with an old-fashioned cybernetic brain.
If her deduction was correct, He An would definitely pressure Qian Yigeng’s stores to ensure that people don’t get carried away by the benefits and smash open the brains of those androids.
Yes, it was just a matter of time.
If she hit the jackpot and was able to find a few experts, then she could really obtain the mind access needle as promised. If the other party failed, she also had the opportunity that wasn’t considered a chance—in addition to giving in to Qian Yigeng, she could take advantage of the opportunity to propose a plan to “create reproductions that confuse thieves based on pictures”, so as to gain access to the information about the mind access needle.
She didn’t think the combat power of these outsiders should be underestimated, as they had provided her with a new path.
As long as she succeeded in entering Qian Yigeng’s headquarters with her mother, faced with such a large number of old-fashioned cybernetic brain androids, Qian Yigeng must use the mind access needle to process their memories in batches, so as not to damage these precious resources.
In extraordinary times, the overly cautious Qian Yigeng would assuredly keep the mind access needle on him. She could use this opportunity under the guise of providing enemy information to kill Qian Yigeng and steal the needle.
She didn’t really need to rely on anyone.
After that, whether the three men succeeded or not had nothing to do with her. As long as the car was repaired, then the agreement would be fulfilled, and thus her obligation as a mechanic.
It was just…
Ji Xiaoman glanced at the iron bead burping at her feet and bit her lip.
Perhaps she still hoped that they would succeed—the people who wanted their cars fixed would get their wish, Qian Yigeng would be overthrown, and the nearby area would be able to achieve temporary peace. Even if she knew full well that the people of the Underground wouldn’t really give up the sex market, right now there were bad precedents, while the latecomers would be relatively restrained.
And she herself could not only remove the deadly time bomb in her mother’s brain, but she could also use the mind access needle to find damaged areas within the brain and make real repairs. She would have a real mother. The repaired old-fashioned cybernetic brain was bound to be equipped with rich feelings and a stable personality. Her mother would no longer talk nonsense, have a stiff smile, and call her by some unknown name.
This was the most important part; the heaviest bargaining stake, and she would not stupidly expose it to those three people.
Then they would have a real home, just like two ordinary humans. Her mother—whether she was willing to recognize this bizarre mother-daughter relationship or not—would be able to call her by her real name.
Instead of repeating “Ji Xiaoman” hundreds of times like before, as that was the only name stuck in that female android’s head, perhaps in a week or two, she could be touched by the person that was in front of her and call her “Bai Tian”.
What, what, what?