Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 158: Goodbye
Most of Tang Yibu’s attention was on the mutated iron bead.
The shell of the Grove R-660 shouldn’t have too many gaps. They were used to mixing absorbed metals in their bodies, allowing secretions to be excreted from the gaps on the surface of the body to form a special alloy shell. As they aged, the internal shells would be softened and reabsorbed, and the external shells would become harder and firmer.
Just like the human skull, after this kind of mechanical life reached adulthood, the conspicuous gaps in the shell would gradually disappear and become one.
The gaps in the iron bead shell were completely different, and those gaps were closer to the fixed seams with smooth edges. With that big, weird mouth, there was no doubt that its body structure had undergone abnormal changes and it was closer to a predator.
Was this related to the odds of winning?
Tang Yibu didn’t hesitate. Taking advantage of the mechanical life’s attention on the iron bead, he grabbed the parts package that Ji Xiaoman was carrying, causing her to fiercely glare at him, but she didn’t resist.
The small bag stayed in Tang Yibu’s hand for less than a second before being transferred to Ruan Xian like magic. Ruan Xian fumbled in the bag and found a few sharp awls, but Tang Yibu could see that his Mr. Ruan used this action to smooth out several empty syringes and a small pile of special test paper.
In less than five seconds, the parts package was returned to Ji Xiaoman’s waist. Ji Xiaoman had already put up a fighting posture to dodge, as her eyes unblinkingly stared at the mechanical life not far away. The iron bead took a firm bite, but it didn’t take long for it to release its mouth and made a confused rattle.
“Look, it’s a puppy!” Xiao Zhao pointed to the iron bead excitedly. “Honey, there are cute puppies here!”
As she spoke, she ran towards the location of the iron bead as if there wasn’t even a human skin life-form near it. However, as soon as she took a few steps, a strange change appeared again. The huge machine didn’t attack anymore but began to melt like a wax figure—even if it was an illusion, the realism that was plucked out of memory was frighteningly strong.
The air was instantly filled with the smell of burning flesh and blood. The floor bent again, became soft, and sank like a net that was giving out due to their weight. The vicious liquid that melted from the monster glowed a dull red, flowing in all directions along the uneven floor.
The iron bead screamed in fright, snapped its mouth shut, and rolled back to Tang Yibu’s feet, then jumped on his shoulder. It was hard to say whether it was frightened by the melting prey or by Xiao Zhao, who rushed over and tried to grab it.
Yu Le pulled Ji Xiaoman vigilantly as the hard ground was now like stepping on an air mattress. The two moved a few steps so as to stay away from the weird liquid.
His Mr. Ruan didn’t care about the changes around him at all. He seemed to be in a daze, but his fingers kept fishing in the bag, not knowing what he was up to.
The environment was distorting, and something must have triggered this change. Tang Yibu stared at the source of the memory—Xiao Zhao was still struggling to move towards the iron bead.
Finally, the environment had stabilized again. They were still inside the somewhat familiar building, but the sapling growing out on the floor had become much taller. The cracks on the floor were covered with moss. The monster’s melted liquid seeped into the crevices of the slate as if it was water being sucked up by a sponge, leaving no traces except for a large dog panting in pain. The big, thin dog had only half its body left and looked like he would die at any moment.
There were three more people besides the dying dog.
“Xiao Tang, is that—?” Yu Le’s tone hardened. The scene that continued to change in front of him had already pulled the nerves of the pirate captain to the extreme.
Tang Yibu’s body suddenly tightened.
Ruan Xian, who was close to him, stopped his hand movements, raised his eyes, and looked at the new changes not far away…
Another Tang Yibu was standing next to the injured large dog.
That wasn’t the Tang Yibu he was familiar with. That Tang Yibu still had a lot of bruises on his body, and his arms, thighs, head, and neck were all wrapped in bloody bandages. One eye was covered with an eyepatch, and the bruising around the eyes hadn’t dissipated. The android’s hair was longer than it was now, pulled together with dirty bandages, and covered with blood stains and dust.
The strange Tang Yibu stood silently not far away, as quiet as a plant.
Ruan Xian narrowed his eyes—only one of the golden eyes he loved was exposed, and it was dim like a layer of gray.
There were two more people standing with him. The other pair was Xiao Zhao and Kang Ge, who were squatting next to a dying dog. Their faces were no different from now. The two of them were equally scared, but there was no madness in Xiao Zhao’s expression; only grief and perseverance. She held the injured dog tightly in her arms as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Did we do something wrong?” There was a wonderful echo in her voice. “Why don’t they understand? I said we would find them food. I said it! Dumpling can also help them find their way. Why didn’t they wait—is a little meat that important?”
“It’s not because of hunger.” Tang Yibu, who was covered in injuries, opened his mouth. His tone was horribly calm. “It’s more dramatic to do this. They are induced. Next time it’s best not to…”
As soon as he spoke, he was punched to the ground by Kang Ge in the image.
That punch was not light as Tang Yibu’s lips were split and blood gushed out from the corners of his mouth. He didn’t resist, but got up calmly, stood a little further away, and continued to stand with his head down like a plant.
“Kang Ziyan!” Xiao Zhao roared with tears.
“I’m sorry… I’m sorry.” Kang Ge seemed stunned by his behavior. He stared blankly at the blood on his fist and didn’t look at Tang Yibu again. “But he—he shouldn’t speak in that tone.”
The dog whimpered twice, twitched violently a few times, then stopped moving.
“Dumpling! Dumpling!” Su Zhao didn’t put down the corpse in her arms. Her choking voice became more obvious. “Something is really wrong with this place. Maybe… It could be a perverted prank. Everyone has been brainwashed, but as long as you can communicate, it always makes sense. We can definitely get out of here. We can definitely—”
Kang Ge’s entire body shook for a moment.
“It’s better to tell her the truth, Mr. Kang.” Tang Yibu spoke again. “I’m sorry. I should act sad, but I’m not proficient yet.”
“What’s the truth…? Kang Ge, weren’t we somehow kidnapped here? What the hell is going on?”
“It’s nothing. You know Xiao Tang’s mind is not right. Isn’t that why we took him with us?”
Kang Ziyan held on to his arm. His voice was terribly hoarse.
“I will never lie to you, Zhaozhao. I agree with you. This is definitely a forest circled by some perverts. Haven’t there been similar reports before? Some people like to watch others kill each other—”
Tang Yibu in the image wiped the corners of his mouth and continued to look straight at the two people in front of him. He tilted his head slightly. His blood-stained hair slid down from his shoulders, and his dim eyes were full of pure and abnormal curiosity.
“Why lie?” Su Zhao, who was holding the corpse in her arms, was held in Kang Ziyan’s arms. From an angle she couldn’t see, Tang Yibu quietly mouthed his words to Kang Ziyan.
Then the image of Tang Yibu’s head burst open with a shot from Kang Ge, who was beside them. Xiao Zhao stretched her waist, and her voice was lazy and calm. “This isn’t as exciting as the one just now. How boring and outdated.”
The image lasted only a few minutes.
“The traps in the management area are too boring.” Kang Ge put away his gun, expressionless. “I still prefer the current island to the forest area. Haa, both of us were just too stupid at the time.”
“So stupid,” Xiao Zhao replied, turning to π again. “Doggie, come here—”
π screamed at her twice. It was so frightened that it almost dug into Tang Yibu’s clothes. Ruan Xian glanced at the people around him. Tang Yibu’s face was still calm, and he wasn’t disturbed by the phantoms of the past.
The three people and one dog in the center of the venue melted again. The melted liquid mixed together and floated in reverse, forming liquid beads that dispersed in all directions, leaving no traces behind. Nothing appeared in front of them this time; only the extremely realistic dark environment was around them.
The injuries on Tang Yibu’s body in the image were both new and old, and several were very serious, not like the result of camouflage. At that time, he shouldn’t have obtained the A-type Prototype and Xiao Zhao and Kang Ge hadn’t lost their minds. However, just looking at the conversation just now, it seemed as if Xiao Zhao was kept in the dark by Kang Ziyan, ignorant to the fact that their true self was already “dead”, and they were on the Android Show.
Tang Yibu showed no signs of anxiety and didn’t respond to the monster that had just appeared. The memory was probably drawn from Kang Ziyan and Xiao Zhao.
But even so, Professor Ruan had the ability to manipulate those memories and specifically show them to them. What was he trying to accomplish?
Ruan Xian touched the prop that was already prepared in his pocket, memorized every detail in front of him, and then shook Tang Yibu’s hand.
[Get out.] He concentrated on the transmission. [First obey Professor Ruan’s wishes.]
Right now, they didn’t have a perfect way to break through yet.
Tang Yibu squeezed Ruan Xian’s hand and responded with authority. He held the vigilant iron bead in his arms, and quickly avoided the rushing Xiao Zhao. “Let’s get out of here first, Yu Ge. It’s difficult to get food and water here, and just staying here isn’t an option.”
“Can we even get out?” Yu Le stepped on the soft gel-like rocky ground and was surprised to find that it had restored to a solid form. “…Okay, let’s go. Where are we going?”
“The other party is probably the ones we’re looking for, and it doesn’t seem like they intend to kill us.”
Tang Yibu glanced around. Only a piece of the floor around some light came through. Although there was an exit from this building not far from them and the unglazed windows were full of shade and birdsong, the outside of the exit was pure darkness, as if the model rendering had malfunctioned.
“What, you said they were…” Yu Le glanced at the young couple who were still looking around, swallowed the remaining half of the sentence back in time, and changed the content. “Is it who I think it is?”
“Nn, but I don’t know what he wants to do yet.” Tang Yibu pointed to the pitch-black doorway and then to the floor that shone out of the shadows. “But I think he has definitely planned out something.”
“This fucking meeting requires us to go through customs.” Yu Le curled his lips.
“He definitely doesn’t want to be found casually.” Ji Xiaoman’s attitude was respectful.
“Let’s go.” Tang Yibu grabbed Ruan Xian’s wrist and walked towards the light.
It was a passage to the ground, like part of this building. Ruan Xian instantly found the source of the visual sense of this building…
This was the Shade Refuge.
To be precise, this was what the Shade Refuge used to look like. The giant tree that ran through the entire building had not yet grown, and the buildings weren’t dilapidated to the point where they looked now different from ruins. However, its structure, including the secret passage leading to the underground, was exactly the same as the Shade Refuge they knew of.
As they approached, the gleaming floor tiles shattered into pieces; the elevator rolling down was stained with blood, and whispers of unknown origin spread out with the light.
Well, they would head down first, then he would find an excuse to stop and have a good chat with Tang Yibu.
Everything was still under control, but the dim golden eyes seemed to be imprinted in his mind. Ruan Xian took a long breath and stood closer to Tang Yibu.
Perhaps he could ask… in passing.
However, the moment he stepped on the elevator, the cold suddenly swallowed him. The body temperature around him suddenly disappeared, and the iron bead that Tang Yibu was holding in his arms slammed to the ground, dizzily spinning in place a few times.
Yu Le drew in a cold breath while Ji Xiaoman’s prosthetic limbs rattled. Ruan Xian’s blood seemed to be frozen, and he quickly let go of his senses, but he couldn’t feel anything.
Tang Yibu just disappeared from him.
Ruan Xian thought that it seemed that his nature hadn’t changed much.
A dark and cold anger appeared from the bottom of his heart again, and the momentum was fiercer than ever before.
The other side.
Tang Yibu’s hands suddenly emptied. Mr. Ruan’s warm wrist disappeared out of thin air. The surrounding scene was like soap bubbles being popped, revealing gray metal walls around him—he was in a small room, and there was only one other person in there.
It was undoubtedly a phantom. This was Tang Yibu’s first reaction. No matter who the visitor was, he would not approach him so rashly.
However, the first sentence of the other party almost made him stop thinking.
The man was wearing a familiar white coat that matched exactly the same coat as the day they last saw each other. He was no longer in a wheelchair, his face was no longer terrifying, and he looked elegant and handsome, with the calm temperament unique to middle-aged people.
“NUL-00.” His maker showed a nostalgic expression and opened his arms. “Long time no see, good boy.”
The author has something to say:
Ruan: Where is my Tang? Where’s my big Tang?
Professor Ruan: The child is meeting his Dad.