Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 154: Ghosts Hitting the Wall
Ruan Xian could see that Tang Yibu was a little absent-minded.
After receiving the information about the armored off-roader, Xiao Zhao and Kang Ge seemed to have lost interest in them and began to track the car in the forest on their own. In order not to arouse the vigilance of the crazy couple, Ruan Xian and Tang Yibu followed far behind. The couple circled around the periphery of other nearby forces, probably judging whether there were any signs of the car being taken away by others first.
This action was pretty convenient. Ruan Xian was able to take the opportunity to explore the other forces. In fact, their condition was similar to what he had guessed—the gathering place was like a conglomeration of dreams, with countless unnatural things piling up in the camp. However, people didn’t seem to think there was a problem. It was as if the twisted, moldy mountains of stuffed animals or weird plants were just ordinary decorations.
Human adaptability was truly amazing.
Ruan Xian wouldn’t be frightened by corpses or body fragments and become delirious. He didn’t have the slightest admiration or fascination for those rotten and smelly things. Rather, his emotions were closer to resistance and vigilance. He even had a long-lost psychological revulsion when he saw the garden on the edge of one of the camps.
There were pineapple-like plants growing on the crimson soil. The leaves were gray and green, and where it should have borne fruit was a heart-like object. Its tip was facing up and was pulsating constantly; it was fresh, as if it had just been removed from a chest cavity.
There was a guard lying sideways in this garden. The sections they could see revealed a wrinkled, human-like skin, and countless feet that they didn’t know if it belonged to man or beast. The thing was extremely long, its body was as thick as an oil barrel, and it crawled like a centipede under the dull green leaves of the plant.
Ruan Xian wasn’t very curious about what these things were in reality. He just wanted to stay away from there—even if he wasn’t afraid of death, he didn’t want to die near such a disgusting thing.
The cellphone was still with Tang Yibu, and the curiosity of that android had always been overly strong. Ruan Xian thought Tang Yibu would secretly sneak out the phone and happily explore, but instead, Tang Yibu’s eyes remained empty, and at first glance, it looked as if he was distracted.
Ruan Xian probably knew what the other party was thinking. Tang Yibu was most likely considering Professor Ruan’s affairs.
Tang Yibu wasn’t such a quiet type, but he didn’t talk too much. The android usually liked to look harmless and innocent, exploring around energetically while the calculator in his heart beat louder than anyone else. Before, he either observed his surroundings or Ruan Xian himself. Ruan Xian quite enjoyed the feeling of testing each other and the tit-for-tat they had.
But now the center of gravity of the other party’s attention had shifted, and a trace of unreasonable unhappiness quietly surfaced in his mind.
Ruan Xian had never minded taking the initiative.
[Don’t you think the situation is a bit strange?] He didn’t make a sound, but just stretched out his hand and accurately grabbed Tang Yibu’s palm, pulling the other party forward.
Tang Yibu’s gaze shifted to Ruan Xian’s face, and his golden eyes lit up. “Mr. Ruan?”
[Looking at the propaganda at the beginning, Professor Ruan played a role dedicated to saving mankind. He planted sparks in many petri dishes to ensure that there were still people to pass on the truth of the world.]
Tang Yibu nodded slightly.
[But that’s not the way to win.] Ruan Xian’s point of view was realistic. [Even if the truth is clear, there’s no corresponding ability or resistance capital. The difference between knowing and not knowing isn’t that great. Even if you want to slowly recruit talents with a sense of resistance in the petri dishes, compared with the armed forces of the Mainbrain, the new blood isn’t worth mentioning—no matter how “correct” the ideal is, the strength gap between people and the Mainbrain cannot be filled by blood. Whenever the Mainbrain perceives a problem, it can use its ability and just directly refresh the petri dish.]
The android stared at Ruan Xian in silence.
[Training the rebels outside the Petri Dish and creating new artificial intelligence like you is a more likely solution to the problem. However, Professor Ruan is still very serious about cultivating sparks. From this behavior, he seemed to be an idealistic person.]
“Maybe so.” Tang Yibu’s answer was ambiguous.
[But if he really left the Glass Conservatory and moved to this island… Even if there aren’t sufficient supplies, he should have the ability to change the status quo. Most of the actual participants in this android show are humans. There’s no doubt about this. As long as you’re willing to put in a little effort, it’s entirely possible to make the show less cruel—What the Glass Conservatory wants is freshness and excitement, and these don’t necessarily need to be fulfilled through killing.]
Ruan Xian bent the corners of his mouth.
[Professor Ruan’s idealism seems to have completely disappeared here. This is the first point that makes me feel strange.]
“The first one?”
[Second, even with the Order Supervisors constant search, it’s not very reasonable that the resistance would fall apart just because the headquarters was destroyed. As the organizer of the rebel army and in poor health, it’s impossible for Professor Ruan to not consider his accidental death. If I was him, I would create a backup plan as soon as I set up the rebel army—putting all your eggs in one basket would be lazy or risky and not becoming of a leader.]
Fortunately, he didn’t hesitate at the beginning and replaced his earring so not a single word jumped out of Ruan Xian’s mouth.
[Tu Rui is also a very interesting person. An elite that came out of the rebel army and happened to become a leader of one of the top forces of the Sea of Ruins, and he just happens to know the exact information about Ruan Xian? We have all come into contact with this person and have seen his attitude towards Yu Le. Do you think he looks like someone who would give up voluntarily just because of a bad situation?]
“…” Tang Yibu’s expression wasn’t very surprised.
[Third, Professor Ruan’s “disappointment” with the Glass Conservatory.] Ruan Xian kept continuing. [I don’t deny his disappointment, but as a former leader, it’s a bit ridiculous to just give up because of disappointment. War is not child’s play.]
[The quarrel between him and Fan Linsong also puzzles me very much. No matter what kind of truth was discovered, it’s not his style to just leave the headquarters by himself. A person’s personality isn’t so easy to change. Even if Fan Linsong betrayed or used him, Professor Ruan should’ve taken away some forces that were loyal to him.]
“Theoretically, there is the possibility of him giving up completely.”
[Professor Ruan, who had completely given up and was easily swayed by emotions, magically turned back into an idealist when he arrived at the Glass Conservatory and continued to sow sparks? Of course, various explanations can be inserted during these blank periods of time, but as a person who considers himself Ruan Xian, I think this series of activities isn’t natural. Haven’t you more or less noticed it?]
That was why Tang Yibu was so upset and rarely shared his negative sentiments.
“There’s a serious lack of information and too many possibilities. I have no way to be sure.” Sure enough, Tang Yibu’s head drooped down.
[My opinion is that all this cannot be the so-called an abandonment performance. He definitely has a backup, but I don’t know what kind of backup it is.]
Ruan Xian added a bit of certainty to his expression.
[Since he has the name Ruan Xian and can stay in the institute smoothly, even if it’s not a real product, it’s very likely to be Ruan Xian’s clone—he wouldn’t be so useless.]
This time, Tang Yibu’s vision became a bit more complicated. “Speaking of quarrels, if it were you, how would you deal with the betrayal of the people around you?”
[Depends on the situation. I don’t trust anyone, so there’s usually no concept of betrayal, but if you mean hurtful behavior…]
Ruan Xian clenched Tang Yibu’s hand and crossed the tree roots wrapped in black sticky liquid that was on front of him.
[For those of Fan Linsong’s level, just throw them away after figuring out the reason. Revenge is meaningless, but if it’s you—]
Tang Yibu’s held fingers twitched, and Ruan Xian clenched them tighter.
[If it’s you, I will figure out the reason, and then destroy it.]
“Sure enough, I don’t quite understand.” Tang Yibu’s gaze became more complicated. “We hurt each other a lot. What are you talking about?”
Cautiousness, suspicions, and overt use. These “harmful behaviors” in the usual sense, existed firmly in their relationship. Tang Yibu’s questioning it wasn’t wrong. Ruan Xian thought for a while and found it difficult to summarize the fresh feelings in his heart.
As long as he could show his true self in front of someone, the disguise had changed from a thorn buried in the flesh to a slightly dull armor, like a balloon hanging on the branches that swiftly fell onto a nest.
He wanted to keep that branch and get a place to rest.
[Nothing. Personal definition. You don’t need to reluctantly try to understand.]
The curiosity in Tang Yibu’s eyes was about to flow out. At the moment Ruan Xian refused, the android, who was a little frustrated, became a bit angry.
“I’ll consider your opinion.” After waiting for a long time and finding that Ruan Xian wasn’t going to continue this topic, Tang Yibu could only respond with resignation.
Seeing that Tang Yibu had returned to his usual appearance, Ruan Xian’s good mood came back. They stayed away from the weird camp and turned to the depths of the woods.
[Speaking of which, what instructions did you arrange for π?] He decided to change to a more relaxed topic.
“Follow us from far away,” Tang Yibu replied with a grunt, obviously still struggling with the contents of Ruan Xian’s words just now.
[…But I don’t sense it nearby.]
At this moment, π was extraordinarily comfortable.
Ji Xiaoman put a layer of cushion in the emergency driving position prepared for the iron bead and put a temporary clip full of parts next to it. The iron bead was nestled comfortably in the soft cushion, chewing parts slowly while enjoying the small bumps of the vehicle.
It ate and fell asleep several times.
Yu Le was quite dissatisfied with its laziness, but unfortunately, he didn’t have the energy to care about these things. It was already dawn, and he wanted to abide by the agreement and send these two children out of the center of the forest, so as to save them from being attacked by mechanical life on the way.
However, he wandered in the woods for nearly two hours, but he couldn’t find his way. Seeing the expressions of the two children in the back seat becoming more vigilant, Ji Xiaoman, who was sitting in the passenger seat, started to look more disgusted, while Yu Le was close to the verge of erupting.
“There’s a problem with this place!” He gritted his teeth and pounded the steering wheel. “The situation in the Sea of Ruins is much more disgusting than this, and I have never lost my way!”
Ji Xiaoman coughed dryly. Her metal fingers tapped on the cellphone next to the steering wheel. Yu Le understood what she meant—with the assistance of this thing, it was basically impossible for them to be misled.
“I still think something is wrong.” Yu Le squinted his eyes at the iron bead lying languidly, and then glanced at the road in front of him. “Little profiteer, help me look around.”
“Gwah, gwah, gwah!” The iron bead that was grabbed by Yu Le barked in dissatisfaction. The tone it was making sounded a bit like cursing.
Unfortunately, the former captain of the ruins pirate apparently had a cold heart as he clearly ignored the cries of the iron bead, seemingly about to kick it outside the car. Seeing its predicament, the iron bead began to rub Yu Le’s arm and its voice softened instantly.
Yu Le snorted coldly as he used a metal chain to tie it firmly to the front of the car, then patted its ass and tossed it out.
Ji Xiaoman: “……”
She watched in confusion as Yu Le started the car and slammed into a stout tree that was in front of it. For a moment, the screams of the iron bead almost cut through the sky. Seeing this, Yu Le stopped the car beautifully in front of that tree and turned to another one.
This time, the iron bead didn’t scream.
Although the phone screen clearly showed the tree, they easily passed straight through it.
“Sure enough,” Yu Le tsked. “There are ghosts* here.”
*The word he’s using is (有鬼) which can mean ghost, but also means fishy. This is purposeful for two meanings. First is that something fishy is going on. Second, it’s referring to the title of the chapter (鬼打墙), which is a saying that refers to one’s self-perception getting blurred, so you don’t know where you’re going and end up walking in circles. When you tell someone about this experience, it’s difficult for them to understand, so it ends up being “ghost hitting the wall” (as in, a ghost is supposed to pass through a wall, but somehow ended up hitting it instead). || So overall, it means something fishy is going on because they seem to be lost and going in circles.
The author has something to say:
The parents of the iron bead finally realized they had lost (x) their child!
Iron bead, miserable.