Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 132: Spark
“I recorded the potential positioning and route in the wristband, but I can’t seem to locate Ji Xiaoman. You can use the data in advance.” Ruan Xian’s expression was serious. “Don’t eat it, π.”
“Gwah.” Under the opened assistant robot shell, the three small eyes of the iron bead gleamed.
Ruan Xian fixed his wristband to the iron bead and used the parts obtained yesterday to make a simple data transmission device to ensure that this little thing could easily obtain data. It couldn’t understand very complicated problems, but it was enough to find someone.
“After finding Ji Xiaoman, you give her the wristband and act with her.”
“Gwah?!” The iron bead shook the two blood guns hidden in the assistant mechanical shell.
“It doesn’t matter. As long as we don’t push Gong Siyi too hard, he can meet some of our requirements. I’ll get a real assistant machine and transform it.”
The iron bead couldn’t express its emotions on its face, but Ruan Xian could feel a weird aura. The reaction of this little thing was a bit like that of a cat in a documentary that found a new pet in the house.
“We’ll leave here soon and meet up with you,” he hurriedly added, and sprinkled a handful of parts into the shell where the iron bead was hiding. Only then did the iron bead turn its head, put a few parts in its mouth, and wandered out the door.
It was difficult for people to leave, but if the iron bead was hidden in the gap of a mechanical transport vehicle, there was no problem with leaving quietly.
Basically, everything that should have been prepared was ready. Ruan Xian rolled his shoulders and glanced at the time on the light screen. Seeing that it was time for dinner, Tang Yibu still hadn’t shown up.
Having said that, they didn’t make any agreements. The fake second hand on the light screen slid round and round. Ruan Xian hid the blood guns, stretched out his waist, and decided to have a meal first. With the iron bead gone, he was the only living thing left in the room. For the first time, Ruan Xian felt a little empty here.
It was just that before he had time to step out of the room, Tang Yibu flashed to the door while humming a tune. He was accompanied by a stifled Yu Le and a dull-witted mechanical assistant.
“Mr. Ruan!” The android still looked carefree, spreading his arms open as if asking for a hug. “I’m done with my side of things.”
“Me too.” Ruan Xian smiled subconsciously.
“Ahem.” Yu Le coughed loudly, breaking the weird, relaxed atmosphere in the room. “It’s not fucking dark yet. Let’s talk about the things we need to discuss first.”
“I figured out how Luo Jian snuck into the hospital. Unfortunately, it’s of little value to us—Ruan Xian got him a device to store memories repeatedly. Now he’d taken out his real memories and poured in fake ones.”
Tang Yibu spoke in a narrator-like tone.
“Even if Mr. Ruan and I can complete the installation quickly, it’ll take a long time and suitable materials to make artificial memories. The people here are waiting for Mr. Ruan’s ‘memory to recover’. Afterwards, they will make him undergo memory screening, so it’s unrealistic to leave in the same way.”
Yu Le drew a breath from between his teeth. Ruan Xian didn’t speak. They didn’t need Tang Yibu to explain too many details. However, two seconds later, Yu Le grasped the point of the matter.
“Wait, wait, what do you mean? If Xiao Ruan can’t leave like this, what about me?”
“Isn’t it good for you to live here?” Tang Yibu blinked. “We have made a fairly safe fake identity for you. The reason you came in has nothing to do with abnormal memory, so you won’t undergo memory screening. There’s food and water here, and you don’t have to work yet. You can wait for the time to pass before you’re discharged from the hospital.”
“Then how do I go back to the Sea of Ruins?”
“The difficulty of leaving here is lower than entering. With your ability, you should be able to figure out a way by yourself.” Tang Yibu sounded confident. “The most appropriate thing for us to do now is to kill you and fundamentally ensure our safety, but you’re very interesting, and the egg custard you make is really delicious—”
“Do I still want to thank you?” Yu Le’s voice was weak.
“You’re welcome,” Tang Yibu responded very solemnly.
“Fuck you. Forget it. That’s it, Xiao Ruan, I want to go with you.” Yu Le rolled his eyes and quickly lost his willingness to communicate with Tang Yibu. “I’m starting to get annoyed with this shit from the Mainbrain. When you find Professor Ruan, I want to talk to him too.”
The former great ruins pirate was quick. Before Ruan Xian could speak, he continued, “If I go with you, you’ll get a car. It’s always convenient to have a car. The little profiteer is too arrogant and you two are too whimsical. At a critical moment, at least I can somehow help. The things I have seen are disgusting, but this journey is also quite exciting.”
“Mr. Ruan, I still have to say, don’t get too close to humans—” Tang Yibu seized the opportunity to interrupt.
“Let’s talk about something unrelated. I still have a lot of Carol Young’s old songs in my car. If we get some fresh ingredients from here, I can cook good food on the road.” Yu Le quickly shot back.
Tang Yibu immediately closed his mouth, pretending that he had never said anything.
“I have no opinion.”
Ruan Xian really didn’t mind. Yu Le had a quick brain, was ruthless, and had a good talent for operating large-scale machinery. It was hard to say when such a person would come in handy but taking Yu Le with them meant they could protect their own information.
“There are also fresh eggs in the kitchen here.” Tang Yibu began to make strange remarks.
“The transaction has to be fair.” Yu Le gave Tang Yibu a sideways glance. “Just like before, I want a whole novel.”
“Regarding the whereabouts of Professor Ruan, have you found anything there?” Ruan Xian pinched the bridge of his nose and decisively interrupted the unintended conversation between the two.
“No.” Tang Yibu quickly broke open the assistant robot and took out a memory storage device the size of a can with the brand of the prevention shelter printed on it. “Luo Jian changed his memory too fast. I promised the little girl to help him make a memory backup before I knock out this information.”
He tossed a metallic glowing jar into the air. “Something happened with Luo Jian halfway through, so she ran away. Now I have to send it over.”
“Can’t you look at what’s inside?” Yu Le obviously didn’t care much about the usual moral concepts.
“Can’t. Memory screening is only a fixed-point identification, and it requires a large processor and time to sift through the memories aimlessly. Of course, it’s easier to inject the memories directly into a cybernetic brain or into the human brain, but then there’s an increased likelihood of a personality breakdown.”
Tang Yibu turned to look at Yu Le. “Yu Ge, if I pour this thing into your head… Mr. Ruan and I can make a bet that you will think you are “Yu Le” or “Luo Jian”, or simply go crazy.”
“I was just asking,” Yu Le clicked his tongue loudly. “So now we send something to that little girl and then—”
“Then wait for the commander of the Order Supervisors to leave and escape from here.”
“This can be discussed after dinner.” Tang Yibu held the jar in both hands, lengthening his tone as his voice became a little softer. “Do you want to go together, Mr. Ruan? The original version is still in Li Han’s hands. Aren’t you curious about Ruan Xian’s design?”
Yu Le shuddered. “Fuck, I’m not going to join the fun. Since we’re leaving tomorrow, I’ll go and see if there’s anything I can take away.”
After arriving at the scene, Ruan Xian knew what Tang Yibu meant by “Luo Jian had an accident”.
Luo Jian and Li Han were both in Luo Fei’s room. Luo Jian’s expression was uneasy and disturbed. Li Han’s eyes were swollen while Luo Fei’s entire face was pale, with a little despair in his eyes, as he was holding an old wooden box tightly in his hands.
“Miss Li, I found something that you had dropped.” Tang Yibu smiled and handed over the metal jar wrapped in fabric.
“What is it?” Luo Fei’s had a hard inquisitive tone.
“My stuff…” Li Han’s voice was very low.
Luo Fei stared at her with red eyes.
“What are you arguing about?” It could be seen that Luo Jian tried to stabilize the scene with the authority of an elder, but unfortunately, he wasn’t successful. “Feifei, I know you feel uncomfortable. I’ve been confused these past few years and given you a hard time… I’m getting better though. We can go home together soon. Xiao Han is just a junior that I take care of in passing. You, quickly return other people’s things.”
“Does a junior have such a valuable thing?” Luo Fei secretly shook the memory storage device in his hand, trying very hard to suppress his voice. “I’ve seen promotional materials for something like this in bars, and the large-capacity model ‘Game of Life’ has only recently been released. But this… This looks very old.”
Luo Fei’s lips were shaking, and Tang Yibu raised his eyebrows.
In his impression, Luo Fei couldn’t be called brave. The young man did make a small resistance against the Mainbrain, and he had the unique vigor of youth, but he wasn’t impulsive. He was just an ordinary young man with a little bit of ideas in his head.
The other party didn’t seem injured, and he also had a healthy father, but Luo Fei looked as if he had been stabbed in the chest with a poisonous dagger as tears pooled around his eyes.
“It has nothing to do with you how they got it. Luo Fei, have you forgotten what I taught you?” Luo Jian’s tone became stern. “This is a prevention shelter. Are you thinking you haven’t stayed here long enough, ah? Are you in a hurry to cause trouble?”
“Did you really teach me that?” Luo Fei spoke in a dreamy tone.
He walked forward and stretched out his hand to Luo Jian, with a small object lying in his palm. Tang Yibu had seen it. It was the only other thing left in the wooden box. In terms of value, it was indeed useless scrap.
A candle head that was covered with dirt and was yellowed by the passage of time was lying in Luo Fei’s hand.
It was something that could never exist in this city.
“Dad,” he said. “Are you really the one who taught me?”
However, Luo Jian looked at the candle with a confused expression. He frowned and looked carefully for a while.
“What is this? A candle?” He replied like this. “Xiao Han, where did you get it? What age is this where candles still exist?”
Luo Fei stood quietly for a long time, like a puppet without clockwork. When he raised his head again, his expression was quite calm, and his gaze swept past Tang Yibu meaningfully.
“Ah, it’s just a joke.” He rubbed his eyes twice. “Li Han, I’m sorry. Don’t worry, Dad. I’ll have a good chat with Xiao Han in a while.”
Both Li Han and Luo Fei were a little confused by this sudden turn in the atmosphere.
“I want to know more about my dad’s time here. Looking at the current situation, he has basically forgotten about the past two years.”
“Can I keep this box here for now?”
Li Han clenched her fists tightly and then let go. “Nn.”
“I have something that must be confirmed.” Luo Fei’s voice still had a tremble in it. “Please understand.”
Tang Yibu showed a little bit of disappointment from missing the drama. Ruan Xian’s gaze swept over the three people in the room who had different expressions before finally stopping at Luo Fei’s hand holding the candle tightly.
He had seen this candle head, but not in reality. It was lighted in front of a simple grave.
“Let’s go, Yibu,” he said, pulling out the memory stick from Tang Yibu’s hand and putting it on the small table closest to the door. “Memory backup… Although I guess you didn’t have this idea, you probably made a good move.”
Tang Yibu turned his face slightly and looked at Ruan Xian with curiosity written on his face.
“Before leaving tomorrow, we can meet with them again and ask about the information from Professor Ruan,” Ruan Xian said softly.
“But the memory has been taken out. Li Han wanted to quit. Neither she nor Luo Fei had participated in core activities, nor do they have the personality to become leaders.”
“Sometimes people do stupid things, especially when they are stimulated,” Ruan Xian said. “Out of personal desire, people do stupid, impulsive, and incomprehensible things… In most cases, those behavior won’t have any result and even negative impact, which contribute no value to personal development.”
“But that probability is never 100%.”
Early the next morning. Auntie Yan, who couldn’t sleep, lit a cigarette in the shop.
‘It’s all over,’ she thought. This was the first day of true “freedom”. She knew Luo Jian and knew how he would deal with this situation.
The hub had disappeared, and the party had ended. After all, it was destined that the question of “whether to give up” couldn’t be held on for too long—it only took one core member who intended to give up and come forward and cross the line to destroy the fragile web. It was always easier to destroy than to build and operate, and those who decided to persist remained at a disadvantage.
It turned out that this was indeed the case.
Ruan Xian’s disappearance made her gradually tired, and now that she was suddenly liberated, the exhaustion still lingered. Auntie Yan simply closed the small bar and connected herself to the temporary spiritual space again.
This time there wasn’t anyone in the small house.
She threw off her shoes and walked barefoot on the thick carpet. Her eyes swept over the vague decorations, as if she was bidding farewell to them in silence. Unconsciously, she walked to the familiar door again.
When she opened the door, this time, only an ordinary room would be waiting for her.
But she still dawdled with her keys, counting them one by one, and then inserted them into the keyhole.
‘So stupid,’ she thought.
The door opened in response, and the sun shone into the dim corridor. A few pear flower petals flew in and fell on the thick carpet. The sky across the door was blindingly blue, and the building was hauntingly familiar.
On the other side of the door was a prevention shelter, but there were no patrolling electronic eyes, no mechanical guards, and no signs of patients. There was only a short boy standing by the blooming pear tree. As if aware of her arrival, the child turned his head. It was a face she had seen before.
She remembered a child of about ten years old, but he had already died and should’ve been buried under the distant permafrost.
Auntie Yan covered her mouth with both hands so that she could swallow her screams and choke.
The boy in a hospital gown opened his mouth, looking as if he wanted to subconsciously call out “Xiao Yan”, but stopped in time. He stood in a daze for a while, his eyes finally became firm again, but slowly reddened.
“Auntie Yan. I… I’m not skilled enough, but I’ll finish this place. I will find a way to stay in the prevention shelter while Dad recovers. No one will suspect me.”
That was what the boy said.
“I want to continue.”