Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 107: STR Series
“That’s interesting. Is there any more detailed information?” Yu Le suddenly became energetic.
“The existence of this niche club doesn’t seem to be a secret. There are a lot of negative comments online. Compared with the destruction of the world, it’s mainly criticized for encouraging young people to access officially prohibited materials and spreading ‘ideas that are harmful to society’.”
A 3D advertisement suddenly appeared at the edge of the page. A tempting ice cream rotated in the air, accompanied by a lot of bells and whistles.
Ji Xiaoman stared at it for a while, swallowed, and quickly drew her attention back. “Let me see, including but not limited to literary works, film and television works, music, games, etc…”
“What the hell? Are they still letting people live?”
“There are actually a lot of works that people are allowed to come into contact with here, and they are intricately graded according to the age of the audience. There’s no shortage of entertainment materials.” Ji Xiaoman called out another screen. “It’s just a little… How can I put it? You should be able to understand it yourself by just looking at the name.”
Yu Le simply put the light screen projection on a wall and cut out a small operating surface, unknown what he was doing.
“Let me see—what are these things?”
“Yes, although it’s rich in content, there seems to be only a few big types.” Ji Xiaoman blinked. “The reviews are also public, and it gave me a headache just reading it. The original ‘standard’-inferior contents that were prone to misdirection couldn’t be made public. If new works are needed to adjust the aesthetic standards and social atmosphere, they will be produced by relevant personnel organized by MUL-01.”
“Look at the introduction. It’s all similar to truth, goodness, and beauty*. Although I have no opinion about this kind of thing, there’s nothing else besides it.”
*Word used to describe morality and nature with good qualities. Basically, she’s saying all the books are all “good” and “moral”, sunshine and rainbows. There are no other alternatives that could arouse negative aspects, and certainly not vulgar materials.
Yu Le hissed and lowered his voice. “Oh, wait a minute, look at this. If you pay enough money and obtain ‘good citizen’ status, you can see something different.”
“The Android Show. I heard that kid Tu Rui talking about this. For God sakes, wasn’t this available before the end of the world?”
Ji Xiaoman frowned suspiciously.
“Oh yes, you were young at the time, so it’s normal if you don’t know. I was also in jail then. I haven’t seen it myself, but I have heard a little bit about it. Did you know that decades to hundreds of years ago, almost all TV and movies were acted by living humans? They even had things like reality TV shows.”
“I’ve heard a little about it.”
“Later, with the rise of virtual reality technology, the actors became a little angry. After all, there are no flaws that come from the virtual world.”
After thinking about the name “The Android Show”, Ji Xiaoman could vaguely guess the general idea. She had a hunch that she wouldn’t like what she heard next.
“But except for those big-name screenwriters, in my experience, many people were too busy using technology to create garbage.”
Yu Le turned off the small screen at hand, put the empty beer can on the ground, and commented very unceremoniously.
“I guess there’s a limit to virtual images after all. Just a few years before the Great Rebellion, using the rise of cybernetic brain technology and the popularity of androids, some people went another way—they bought some places, transformed them into specific environments, and then threw androids with special synthetic memories in.”
Ji Xiaoman stared at the drops of water on the wall of the beer can and suddenly felt tightness in her chest.
The room was clean and bright, and the location was changed to indoors. Yu Le consciously stopped smoking, so the air was quite good. This was almost the best room she had ever seen in her life, but she didn’t like it at all.
“In other words, give those androids a specific personality, make them think they are human, and then let the plot develop by itself?”
“Reality is always the best screenwriter.”
“But if, I mean, if there was a murder in those… Those ‘studios’, and an android bashed out the brains of one of their own kind, wouldn’t that be…”
“Little miss, you’re quite clever at repairing things, but why are you stupid in other places?” Yu Le tutted. “Let’s not even mention that the cybernetic brain can be made to closely resemble the texture of flesh and blood. Their memories and common sense are all customized. They would only feel that this is what a ‘human brain is like’.”
Ji Xiaoman slowly clenched her fists, and the metal joints made a low rubbing sound.
“Anyway, The Android Show became extremely popular after it was launched. After all, there was no script. It all depends on how those who live in an artificial environment struggle. In this way, it could also create a more authentic star, and relative derivative products could be sold better. What did Lao Tu say at the time…”
Yu Le didn’t have any X-rated content to pass the time. He stared at the light screen as he sat on the floor while he chattered more vigorously.
“Oh, I remember. When the first android show exploded, rules hadn’t been set up yet. When the show was officially over, the thousands of androids in it were all sold at marked-up prices. According to the background at the time, they called it the STR Series, and directly changed the name to Struggler.”
“Is there such a thing now?” Ji Xiaoman gritted her teeth. “Isn’t this ‘inferior’ content that is prone to misdirection’?”
“So set a threshold. If you want to see something different, just be obedient.” Yu Le shrugged. “If this place had always been so utopian, The Android Show could be regarded as an old-fashioned entertainment project that had lasted for more than ten years. Don’t you think it’s funny? People used to watch an android monkey show, but now they have a Mainbrain that’s watching a human monkey show. This is just like a mother fucking Russian doll.”
Ji Xiaoman took a deep breath. “The Android Show is still there. In this way, MUL-01 doesn’t seem to be on the side of bionic life. What on earth is it thinking?”
“That’s a bit difficult to say. Let’s figure out what Pear Blossom is thinking. Anyways, we both have nothing to do now, so maybe we can get some useful information.”
As soon as Yu Le’s voice fell, a soft tone sounded by the window.
He got up from the floor, opened the window, and took the small box hanging from the drone. Captain Yu himself casually took the bag of things from it, and then threw a box to Ji Xiaoman, who had a gloomy expression.
Ji Xiaoman opened the box. The ice inside was still cold and white, exactly like the one advertised.
“Thank you—” She was a little surprised.
“Thanks for what? Anyways, those two guys are not here, so I can be more relaxed.” Yu Le’s tone was casual. “Laozi can’t eat alone in front of you and there’s a discount for two servings… Eat, you’ll feel better after eating.”
Ji Xiaoman licked the ice cream in small bites. She thought she had hidden her desire deep enough, but Yu Le might be much sharper than she thought.
Captain Yu frowned and ate the dessert, obviously not liking the too sweet taste.
“We should have a few more days,” he said. “You try your best to get information first, and when I finish patrolling tonight, let’s go out and explore together. Since it can be discussed publicly that Snow Plant shouldn’t be too difficult to find.”
At the same time, there was another person who had just been exposed to information about this wonderful book club.
Under the cover of Tang Yibu, Ruan Xian successfully obtained the information of all the personnel in the shelter. He obediently ate lunch and vomited out his medicine. After returning to his ward, Ruan Xian wrapped himself in a blanket.
In the dimness, he activated the light screen, let all the information flash in front of him as quickly as possible, and poured the information into his brain frantically.
He knew he remembered.
He didn’t know if it was a situation stimulus, but just halfway through the information, some more memories tumbled out of his mind uncontrollably. They appeared unorthodox and chronologically disorganized, but they had something in common. They were almost all depressingly gray.
[Xianxian, don’t you have anything you want to ask your mother?] The mother, in his memory, covered the moving light screen in front of her. She was driving him out of the city, and her voice was trembling a little. [Not a word?]
He didn’t answer.
His mother was crying. She clenched the steering wheel tightly and her shoulders twitched. Although Ruan Xian didn’t ask anything, she still explained it to herself. [The prevention shelter said that I have used up the amount allocated and will raise the price… It’s illegal to leave you alone at home for too long, and I can’t afford to buy a nursing robot… Mom is really useless. Mom really can’t get so much money…]
Ruan Xian understood.
He could even understand the logic of her behavior and had no complaints about it. No matter how you look at it, continuing to treat him was a high-cost and low-reward behavior. Objectively speaking, his mother’s abilities were indeed limited, and his own ending could basically be foreseen.
He would die; the difference was only in form.
[It’s mom’s fault. If I knew it would be just this momentary ease, I shouldn’t have let you undergo those torturous experiments… Xianxian, do you hate mom?]
Ruan Xian shook his head slowly.
He didn’t hate her. Considering his mother’s situation, he could understand the logic of her behavior. Although she did give him a lot of physical pain, under the premise of full understanding, he couldn’t develop a sharp hatred.
[Do you love mom?]
He didn’t know how to react this time.
The woman in front of him had given him a lot, but in his short life, he had hardly ever seen her. Not to mention, he had not yet understood the meaning of love—This kind of unilateral sacrifice didn’t seem to be simply classified as “love”, and the young Ruan Xian was still uncertain.
He didn’t want to lie to her, so he could only remain silent.
But his mother cried even more sadly.
She was like a flower that was gradually decaying, and he could even see that her spirit was drying up and growing mold, rotting faster and faster.
Ruan Xian knew that his mother wanted to abandon him. At that time, he had only one simple wish…
He understood that his ending was only death, and he was happy to accept it. It was okay to stop the treatment. He just hoped that he could die under the eaves and by the side of his loved ones.
Even if he was killed by his own mother, it was better than starving to death in a strange place. Unfortunately, according to his mother’s character, she didn’t have the courage to kill him herself.
He knew that his mother didn’t like to say too many things that children shouldn’t say, and it would be counterproductive to negotiate calmly at this time. That would be too “childish”. He had to think of a way to accomplish the goal of “dying at home” without stimulating his mother.
So he watched his mother park the car in a distant town with the worst security, kicked him out of the car, and then quickly left.
Finding a way to get home wasn’t too difficult for him as long as his health permitted. On the third day, he stood back in front of his own home.
He hesitated for a long time before he found an opening statement that seemed appropriate.
“Mom.” He imitated the tone of the rest of the children in his impression. “Is hide-and-seek over?”
However, all he got in response was his mother’s collapsed screaming.
At that time, she was wearing a brand-new dress. Her eyes were swollen, and she reeked of alcohol. She was dancing with a man he had never seen before. He saw her fall to the ground, and the music abruptly cut off, like a songbird that had its neck broken.
The second time, she drove him to the farthest wilderness in the jurisdiction. The third time, she threw him into the woods behind a deserted village and brought a rope. However, although he could understand the logic of the other party, Ruan Xian was still unwilling to die obediently for his mother’s emotional problems.
Maybe he could try to communicate.
He was still too young and walking alone would garner the attention of everyone. The prevention list could be checked by anyone, and no one would adopt a quasi-dangerous person with personality defects. Even if they did, the odds were so low that Ruan Xian didn’t think he could run into them of his own accord.
He really had nowhere else to go, but unfortunately, his efforts didn’t have much effect.
[Don’t come back!]
[Don’t come back again, do you hear me!]
[Why can’t you die outside…?]
[This may not be appropriate. According to humans saying… I hope you can come back to me soon.]
The gray memories suddenly became a little brighter. A long-standing memory suddenly triggered something, and another voice surfaced from his mind. He saw the brilliant sunlight of midday, golden eyes, and a familiar bright smile.
In that brief associated memory, he was dancing with Tang Yibu. Accompanied by the wind and music, he stepped on the ruins that were floating in the air.
[Don’t leave me, okay?]
[Will you leave me?]
[I hope you’ll be mine. Will you be mine?]
The cold and gray memories were mixed with scorching heat. Ruan Xian was momentarily confused—on one side, there was him walking home step by step with pain, and on the other side was fierce gasping, and Tang Yibu kissing him. The two emotions were intertwined causing his temples to ache.
Tang Yibu was an android, and he could infer this from his memory. He was theoretically human, but his memory hadn’t been fully restored and he couldn’t draw further conclusions.
He was once marked on a high-risk watch list by the prevention agency, but he had the knowledge of a researcher and was also involved with an android…
He still had insufficient information, and there was no use thinking about it.
Ruan Xian squeezed the bridge of his nose fiercely, pulled his attention back to the information in front of him, and forcibly branded everyone’s information into his mind.
He cleared all the data in the wristband and breathed a long sigh of relief in the blanket after making sure nothing was missing.
Right now, he needed to focus on his goal first.
At least now, it seemed that his goal was quite obvious—among the thousands of patients in the shelter, only one person had similar symptoms to himself. Luo Jian also claimed that the world had been destroyed, and there were also descriptions of the Sea of Ruins and The Underground City in the records. He had already dealt with the other party, and although the process wasn’t very pleasant, at any rate, it was a good reason to talk to him again.
Next, he only needed to confirm with Tang Yibu…
Thinking of that android, Ruan Xian had another headache. He opened the blanket and sat up, trying to use the fresh air to ease the feelings of pins and needles in his temples and the strange palpitations.
Unfortunately, before he could take two breaths, a voice interjected.
“Mr. Ruan.” The android who just showed his face in the fragments of his memory was standing at the door with a bright smile on his face. “I came to see you.”
Poor Ruan Xian. I just want to give child Ruan Xian a hug.