Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 139: Hatred
Tang Yibu had never been so troubled.
He faintly found the feeling of being trapped by a subject for the first time, with an added familiar tension. Mr. Ruan’s confession made him confused, so much so that he forgot to eat lunch. Although the hunger in his stomach was there, opening his eyes meant he had to divert some of his energy to communicate with others.
At the moment, he still wanted to focus all his energy on analyzing the relationship between the two of them.
Tang Yibu simply rested on Ruan Xian’s shoulders like that, pretending to be asleep. The other person’s body gently undulated with his breathing. His heartbeat was steady and strong, and there was a smell that he liked very much, like the morning air in the snow.
The definition of “like” and “love” were different, and Tang Yibu knew this well. Liking could be attraction, appreciation, and could have millions of different frivolous explanations. He used to be able to admit that he liked Mr. Ruan generously—he liked the other party’s taste and the feel of his skin, his strength, and his way of thinking… He liked it very much, from head to toe.
This included the fact that they could embrace each other, fight hand in hand, and consider how to kill each other at the same time.
They were very comfortable with each other, and their complete distrust only brought unconcerned relaxation. The two thought in relatively similar ways. Tang Yibu believed that the other party was extremely precious.
The next step was to maintain this way of getting along.
But Tang Yibu still couldn’t help but speak his true thoughts, perhaps because he was worried about the backlash after the other party’s exposure. Or maybe because he was too comfortable getting along together and couldn’t help but want to test it more deeply. Or perhaps because he couldn’t distinguish the complicated feelings in his heart clearly.
However, instead of reassuring Tang Yibu, the feedback he received dragged him a little deeper into the vortex of doubt.
Mr. Ruan said “I love you”, but he didn’t even dare to say “I like you” easily. This wasn’t because his interest in Mr. Ruan had weakened. On the contrary, the shock brought to him by this sentence had shaken him like never before.
Tang Yibu was very sure that if anything happened that would really endanger his life now, he would still abandon everyone around him without hesitation. Mr. Ruan also knew this. He was almost as cunning and indifferent as himself.
Was this some kind of smoke bomb or bullet that was deliberately used to confuse him?
…Why was he confused?
The last time he felt this kind of chaos was when he was just born and knew nothing. Now this sweet unknown had once again penetrated into his limbs, and the world in front of him had suddenly become weird and dangerous, but also extremely attractive.
[Have you had enough of pretending you’re asleep? The next step depends on you.]
The summons arrived after a sweet snack. Tang Yibu licked the fingers on his lips with the tip of his tongue, realizing that his analysis of the relationship between the two could only end here temporarily.
“The show I participated in before was Struggler.” This was the truth.
“No wonder it can make you so miserable. Share it.” Yu Le ate the squid feet in two or three mouthfuls and turned on the car music. “Anyway, everyone is awake. This information will have to be said sooner or later.”
“There were about three types of androids that were invested in. One was the ‘important role’ set by Plan Corp itself. It’s coupled with a flattering appearance and personality, and strong abilities as the main point for view.”
Tang Yibu took another egg yolk slice. Before biting down, he stopped, broke the coin-size snack in half, and stuffed it into Ruan Xian’s hand, then continued.
“The other part is used to make the show appear more real. This includes old and weak women and children, with a mixed bag of random abilities and experiences. In addition, there’s another part—I’m not sure if the Mainbrain has extended this mechanism yet—where human personalities are injected and replicated as real humans.”
“I—Fuck, this kind of thing is okay? Didn’t anyone sue them?”
“Those people did it voluntarily.” Tang Yibu opened a bottle of cherry soda. “Many people want to know how they would act and live in other worlds. These people would give their own experiences and memories, and a small number would spend money to customize their appearance. Plan Corp will then modify their memories and make them mistakenly think that they grew up in the set world.”
“Crazy.” Yu Le clicked his tongue while Ji Xiaoman, who had never seen The Android Show, looked confused.
“Anyway, the one carrying the memories is an android. In the eyes of most people, this approach is similar to a game. Many people quite like the feeling of peeping into their ‘self in another world’. There was even gambling where you could make bets on related topics at the time. Considering the issue of security, these androids wouldn’t participate in the auction after the show and would be uniformly destroyed.”
Ruan Xian listened quietly; the half of the egg yolk slice was still lying in the palm of his hand.
“In other words, if we don’t want to attract attention and ensure our safety, we’d better not have contact with ‘important characters’.” Yu Le summed it up simply. “What else? I heard the theme of Struggler is regarding doomsday survivors. That kid Tu Rui spoke so scared that it was probably fighting some kind of monster that couldn’t be defeated.”
“Correct.” Tang Yibu nodded. “The main terrain of Struggler is in a forest, and it’s dotted with the remains of cities. Mutant creatures and mechanical beings are the most basic enemies, while the most dangerous is the distortion of the environment.”
“Distortion?” Ruan Xian finally opened his mouth while putting the small half piece of snack into it.
“In order to increase the fun.” Tang Yibu summoned a light screen in front of him. “Generally speaking, whether it’s a human or cybernetic brain, the perception of the world is all based on external inputs. Vision, touch, smell, things like that; many reality enhancement technologies in The Glass Conservatory are based on this realized principle.”
“There are people in the Underground City who use this technology to commit crimes, but they can at best only create some illusions.” Ji Xiaoman grabbed the back of the chair with both hands and turned to look at Tang Yibu.
“Struggler does not apply that kind of mass technology. Let me give you an example. The commonly used reality augmented technologies are safter, and they will restore those stimulus signals relatively objectively. Those who like raspberries will smell the sweet and sour they like, and people who don’t like them will smell the special flavor they don’t like.”
A piece of raspberry cake appeared in the light screen in front of Tang Yibu.
“But if you don’t consider security, it’s easier to intercept the information obtained by one person’s brain, and then give this part of the information to another person as is. If there is a problem with A’s taste and A believes that raspberries taste like blood, then if A is used as a sample for reality augmentation, B can only taste blood when it comes into contact with this non-existent cake.”
Ruan Xian frowned.
“In Struggler, everyone is equipped with a similar device. This is the reason why the show is so popular. It wasn’t simply a doomsday survival show where people were able to rewrite reality.”
“But after a long time, if there’s no cake, then there’s no cake,” Yu Le muttered. “What’s so good about people eating air?”
“It’s not that simple. You see a piece of cake, pick it up, and feel the touch and weight of the cream on your fingers. Then you chew it, swallow it, and get a sense of satiety. Even if you vomit it out, you can still see it as it exists in your mind.”
Tang Yibu stared at Yu Le.
“So how can you tell if this cake exists? When I participated in Struggler, there was only one way for everyone to judge—always pay attention to your physical state. Only weakness and illness will not lie.”
Ji Xiaoman’s expression began to become solemn. “In order for the audience to understand the ‘non-existent cake’, the show they broadcast also restored this part of the visual information. In that sense, ‘reality’ can indeed be rewritten.”
“How do they determine whose brain is being used to augment reality?” Ruan Xian was concerned about other issues.
If the theme of Struggler was survival after the end of the world, the problem they had to face wouldn’t be something like whether a cake tasted right or not.
“This method is a form of attack, which is most likely related to mental concentration and paranoia.”
Tang Yibu pursed his lips.
“After entering Struggler, everything may be fake. For example, there was someone who was well on his way forward, and the next second he died horribly on the spot. Another person made him feel like he was in good shape and uninjured, but his belly had long been cut open and his internal organs were spilled all over the place. The man dragged his internal organs happily for more than ten meters, and we couldn’t see what really happened until the attackers removed the augmented overlay.”
“…” Yu Le wiped his face and hissed. “The current technology will only get better. The place chosen by Professor Ruan is indeed a good place for hiding. No, after knowing this information, I don’t want to go in anymore. We don’t have any kind of enhanced augmentation. Isn’t this still a door-to-door delivery for nothing?”
“There are also countermeasures. Usually, people’s mind can only cover about ten people, and they need to specify their own goals and adjust at all times, so they can’t be distracted. We just need to hide our people and ensure that at least one person won’t be discovered. This practice has been around forever, and we call it ‘dark sentry’.”
“The person who acts as the dark sentry won’t be immediately attacked by the augmented overlay and can see the real situation.” Ruan Xian petted the iron bead on his knees.
“Correct.” Tang Yibu wiped the snack crumbs from the corner of his mouth. “But the real situation will be a lot more complicated and requires detailed analysis.”
“Can we get a similar device?” Ruan Xian stopped petting the iron bead, causing the latter to rattle in dissatisfaction.
“It’s troublesome, and it will attract unnecessary attention from the Mainbrain. I strongly recommend that you do not do this.”
“Then let me confirm one more point. Yibu, if the example you just gave is the other way around—in fact, he was not injured, but he was misled to think he was dead, would the consequences be the same?”
In the joint dream, they needed to take similar risks, and Ruan Xian didn’t think the Mainbrain would mercifully ameliorate the problem.
“The same. If you’re misled into death subconsciously, you will die in reality.”
“I believe in Lao Tu’s evil. It’s really not enough to say that combat ability matters. It’s really not. If this fucking thing hits first, you can’t help but resist, but you also can’t think you’re dead. This is just like killing people by punching air,” Yu Le said weakly. “Xiao Tang, how did you survive this? Awesome.”
Tang Yibu didn’t speak. His expression darkened a little.
Ruan Xian was startled. Tang Yibu rarely showed negative emotions; before, he couldn’t even distinguish between remorse. There was indeed something wrong with his appearance at the moment; a very subtle, slight change, but distinctly real.
“What we have to face is not the original Struggler show.”
Ruan Xian took the initiative to change the subject.
“Mr. Yu’s thinking is correct. The augmented reality of many years ago cannot be compared with the current one. I tried their augmented reality in the prevention shelter. If even the relatively complex and safe technology is developed to that point, the dangerous version will only be worse. What Yibu said, we’d better only use it as a basic reference, not as a standard guide.”
“How about you two go in and get Ruan Xian out, and meet the little profiteer and me outside?” Yu Le suggested with a straight face.
Ruan Xian returned a smile that had a look of danger.
“Come on, it’s just a joke. But the forest is still good. At least there won’t be too many people.” Yu Le sighed, almost spitting out the newly placed squid feet in his mouth.
“I’m afraid it’s not that simple.” Ruan Xian cruelly splashed cold water. “Purely from a theoretical analysis, it’s not impossible for the environment over there to develop into a fusion nightmare.”
Ji Xiaoman nodded blankly.
“It’s my fault. It was quite exciting to follow you guys. Now it seems that it’s too exciting. How about laozi take a step in and look around first,” Yu Le lamented. “The little profiteer hasn’t run away yet, so if I want to run away now, that would be quite shameful—Ow! Ji Xiaoman! Don’t fucking use your fingers to pinch me!”
“If we had known earlier, we would’ve squeezed out more information from Gong Siyi.” Ruan Xian ignored the two rattling swords in the front seat and opened a packet of jerky.
“I thought before that I managed to survive because I wanted to,” Tang Yibu said suddenly.
“Yu Le’s question just now about how I managed to survive.” Tang Yibu quietly stared at the rice-shaped cracks in the grille glass. “I really wanted to complete my project and didn’t want it to end there, so I persisted in surviving.”
“That doesn’t sound like much of a problem.”
“But at that time, I was the same as I am now. I put aside emotions that cannot be analyzed for the time being, intending to conduct comparative analysis after there’s sufficient information… You let me collect a lot of information, and I’ve figured out a little bit.”
Tang Yibu held Ruan Xian’s face with both hands, pulled the other’s face to him, and kissed his lips very solemnly.
After the kiss, he even smacked his mouth seriously and kissed twice more.
“Then what?” After waiting for the other party’s further explanation for a long time, Ruan Xian covered the other party’s hand, holding his cheek with his hand, and asked the question bluntly.
“Nothing. I haven’t determined the result yet, and it’s not suitable for intelligence sharing for the time being. Mr. Ruan, please remember what I told you at the beginning. Although your identity has changed now, that sentence is still valid.”
Tang Yibu glanced at Ji Xiaoman and Yu Le, who were sitting in the front row.
“…Don’t get too close to humans.”
He had thought about something clearly, Tang Yibu thought to himself. At the beginning, he could only distinguish between resignation and aggravation, as well as the desire to complete his subject matter. He once thought that things were that simple, and as for other indistinguishable emotions, they were just invalid redundancies generated during the calculation process.
But now Tang Yibu had to re-examine everything he had experienced.
At least cherishing the person around him gave him more inspiration. The emotions he had shelved were too complicated, mixed with longing, dependence, and trust, as well as unwillingness, grievances, and remorse. There were also his thoughts and emotions that belonged only to him. If he was looking for a relatively clear definition…
For a moment, at a certain point when he was struggling on the verge of death, he undoubtedly hated his creator.
The author has something to say:
Tang’s feelings for his father are still very complicated, but he’s beginning to learn things slowly XD
Ruan: I am innocent—!!!
<<< || Table of Contents || >>>