Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 213: Hard-Boiled Eggs
Tang Yibu took a bath in the lake and prepared to set off again.
Facing the bad news that Yu Le and Ji Xiaoman were captured, Professor Ruan didn’t show much panic. He pondered for a while as he prepared everything Tang Yibu asked for, then calmly announced that the operation would proceed as normal. His attitude was so calm that Tang Yibu couldn’t help wondering whether Yu Le was actually sent to retrieve any real goods.
However, since Professor Ruan told him he “will know when he goes”, Tang Yibu didn’t intend to become too entangled with the issue. It wasn’t good for Professor Ruan to deceive him right now. Tang Yibu wiped his body carefully with an absorbent towel and his mood became complicated again—at least there would be a fixed answer to the question in front of him. Now, he loved those kinds of questions.
He was curious about what had happened to Mr. Ruan.
Tang Yibu tossed aside his boots, whose soles were so worn that even the iron bead couldn’t see them, and let out a long sigh. π was guarding his clothes and drooling at the makeshift communicator. Seeing a pair of combat boots flying in front of it, it immediately shifted target and began to chew on some of the materials on it happily.
Tang Yibu wiped his dripping hair and looked at the quiet lake. The night had turned the body of water black. The chirping insects in autumn had a particularly debilitating smell.
This state reminded him of the past few years. He had been roaming the vast world alone, filtering some water when he got thirsty or preying on small animals when he was hungry. If he found a petri dish with good conditions, he would stay in it for a while until he finished studying the ecology inside.
Most of the time, he stayed alone like this. Although he occasionally looked for one or two mechanical creatures as a guide, their place was similar to the iron bead—he had returned to this familiar state, but he didn’t feel the slightest bit of freedom.
Tang Yibu put on his dark gray close-fitting lining, then his sturdy combat jacket, and fastened up the buckles. The guns and knives were in place, and all kinds of throwing weapons were installed in the most suitable positions. After doing a check, he stood up.
The iron bead was still working on the boots, creating clicking sounds as it ate with great concentration.
“I don’t like this state.” Tang Yibu lifted up his backpack, squatted down, and poked the shell of the iron bead.
The iron bead was too busy gnawing off the metal accessories of the boots that it unintentionally ignored him. He wasn’t sure whether it was because it was too focused on eating or because it simply didn’t understand his statement.
“Mr. Ruan should be with me,” Tang Yibu said. “Skin contact can keep me happy. When he kissed me at that time, I should’ve hugged him.”
When the iron bead heard the keyword “Mr. Ruan” it started to chew slower.
“Did I do something wrong?” Tang Yibu sighed. “At the time of the Android Show, it was probably more reasonable to insist on hiding my identity and resolving the conflict with Professor Ruan.”
“Gwah.” The iron bead stopped chewing and let out a solemn bark.
“That’s right. With Professor Ruan’s power, I can take the opportunity to eradicate MUL-01. Most importantly, I would be able to properly study the emotional relationship between me and Mr. Ruan. Knowing Mr. Ruan—it wouldn’t be too much to continue maintaining the status quo. Although the stakes would be a little higher, it should’ve been able to kill two birds with one stone. At least I originally thought so.”
“But now I regret it a bit.” Tang Yibu straightened his damp hair. “He’s staying alone in that kind of place, and it makes me uncomfortable. We can’t act together, which makes me even more anxious than I thought.”
“Gwah gwah gwah?”
“You’re right. I am worried. I’m afraid that there will be a problem with him as a research sample, which will decrease his value. I’m also afraid that he will submit to the Mainbrain, which will be bad for me. But this is not what I’m most worried about. I…”
Halfway through speaking, Tang Yibu became confused.
“I’ve really made a lot of misjudgments.” Tang Yibu was silent for awhile until the iron bead went through the old pair of boots and there was nothing left except cloth scraps. “…Although logically speaking, maybe they’re not misjudgments. They just didn’t give me the state I wanted.”
“The state I want… Let’s see—I don’t want the state I was in twelve years ago, nor do I want the state I’m in now. Next would be, excluding the Android Show, life in the petri dish, investigation and learning about things beyond the petri dish—”
For a moment, Tang Yibu suddenly remembered Su Zhao’s words on the Android Show.
If the heart-stopping moment was replaced with a favorite memory, then he could answer this question. If Mr. Ruan’s favorite memory was dancing in the Sea of Ruins, it wasn’t the time they spent in the computer room, nor was it some crazy moment in the long night.
He liked one night in particular, when he still knew nothing of Mr. Ruan’s true identity. They had just made a mess in the Underground City, then were crammed into a small noodle shop with Yu Le. Mr. Ruan was sitting next to him, carefully peeling off the shells of boiled eggs, then placing them into his noodle bowl with unparalleled naturalness.
For some reason, Tang Yibu had a deep impression of this in his memory. He could recall the smell in the air at that time, the temperature of the boiled eggs, and Mr. Ruan’s still fair and slender fingers that glowed in the light.
It wasn’t condescending alms, nor was it lowly flattery. Mr. Ruan had given him the food without much thought, as if the whole matter was as natural as a heartbeat.
It gave Tang Yibu an inexplicable reassurance and satisfaction that he liked very much, even though that action seemed so trivial and not worth mentioning.
Even if he failed in his subject, Tang Yibu could still blame it on insufficient data, a data collection error, or a problem with the research method. He could accept such a mistake, but he couldn’t handle this new discovery right now…
“I’m regretting it a little.”
Tang Yibu whispered to the iron bead as he steadily increased his steps. Eventually, his speed was faster than a leopard stalking its prey at full strength. The iron bead that he was holding in his arms had already fallen asleep now that it was full.
“…I shouldn’t have taken the initiative to join this war.”
However, his only audience was sleeping heavily.
Before the sun rose, Tang Yibu had climbed over the dead wall. The level of martial law in the Underground City was much stronger than before, but unfortunately, even if the Order Supervisors closely watched the place, it was impossible to stop NUL-00.
He didn’t know if it was memories of the boiled eggs that came to his mind, but Tang Yibu looked at the entrance to the Underground City with some melancholy.
He stared in the direction of Li Ji Noodle House for a while, then set off to find K6. However, as soon as he was invited into K6’s residence, a gun was pressed to his back. The gun looked familiar. Tang Yibu was expressionless. He had no intention of resisting.
“A’Qiao, he’s not the enemy.”
It seemed that Tiantian-Q2 abandoning her old memories proved quite effective, as Tang Yibu almost didn’t recognize the “A’Qiao” who jumped in front of him. When they left the Underground City, Tiantian-Q2 was still well-behaved, but the one in front of him now was completely different…
After leaving Qian Yigeng’s control, they once again came into contact with the poisonous smog from the outside world. Tiantian-Q2’s—or rather, A’Qiao’s—skin had become a lot rougher and a little tanned. Her long hair, that had been carefully maintained as a commodity, had lost its shine, replaced by gray short hair that was matted and tangled. There was no trace of an image of a sweet doll on her left.
She had a scar around her chin, and a bloody bandage was stuck to her face. Her eyes were sharp and cold, like a young wolf.
Tang Yibu suddenly recognized the gun. It was the one they gave her, and she still kept it.
“Like I said, her personality has changed a bit.” K6 walked to the front hall with a plate of meat pies cut into quarters. “She completely destroyed Bai Tian’s memories and then became… Well, this. In human terms, perhaps this is her true nature.”
Without her memories, A’Qiao didn’t have good feelings for Tang Yibu, who she regarded as a stranger. Seeing that he wasn’t a threat, she turned around without hesitation, picked up the meat pie, and stuffed it into her mouth. Tang Yibu glanced at her casually—Qian Yigeng had branded a copper coin pattern on her left arm, but this girl had changed it into a tattoo of unknown meaning.
“Where’s Fu Yu?” Tang Yibu didn’t plan to reminisce about old times.
“Still participating in the City Defenders meeting. There are Order Supervisors watching everywhere, so we can’t make it too obvious,” K6 said. “It’s safe here. Let’s go to the living room and talk. Your body doesn’t look very good. You need to eat more. I’ve made a lot of meat pies and there are more in the freezer…”
“Twenty boiled eggs.” Tang Yibu hesitated for a moment.
“Alright.” K6 didn’t ask much. His hostility was much lighter than when he was pretending to be He An, and he looked extra calm. “Have some meat pies first. I can talk while cooking.”
Tang Yibu wasn’t polite. He put the iron bead down on the sofa and began to stuff his mouth with pie—since confirming his favorite memory, he had lost his appetite for most food.
“Mr. Yu arrived here yesterday. He claimed to still be driving that car. At that time, he was with Ji Xiaoman and a little boy.” K6 put the eggs in an iron pot and poured cold water into it. “They claimed to have broken through the Order Supervisor’s line of defense to drop off the little boy. Since Fu Yu is the City Defenders and we adopted A’Qiao, he thought we would do the same. They also brought some supplies for the boy as a settlement fee.”
“Yesterday?” Tang Yibu frowned. Taking into account the time he had to rush over, Yu Le should have arrived here four days ago, settled matters with Zhong Qing, and then gone to the forest petri dish to pick things up.
The timing wasn’t right. It was worse.
“Yes. It was about 5:42 in the morning.” K6 nodded. “Fu Yu naturally agreed. Just after breakfast yesterday, Fu Yu took the child named Zhong Qing to the City Defenders for paperwork. Yu Le said that he and Ji Xiaoman still had something to do, and they were going to walk around the city. I gave him a short-range communicator and told him to remember to replenish his supplies before leaving… Then he left.”
“Yes, this was the strange thing. He said he came here with Ji Xiaoman by car, but we didn’t see a car nor Ji Xiaoman. Yu Le came alone and was disguised tightly. He specially carried the child on his back who was carrying a backpack.”
Tang Yibu frowned.
“We received his communication in the afternoon. The content was short. It was what I told you—have you rush over to the Underground City because he and Ji Xiaoman were captured.”
K6 put the lid on the pot as he spoke. There was no tension in his tone.
“Fu Yu and I investigated the situation as soon as possible. The short-range communicator we gave him was crushed to powder. Most likely, he was protecting us. Fu Yu used his connections, but we didn’t find any traces of Ji Xiaoman or Yu Le. You know the rest—I activated the channel we left for you and contacted you.”
Tang Yibu swallowed the meat pies in his mouth. “Is Zhong Qing still here?”
“Yes. We hid him somewhere, just in case.”
“…I want to see him.”
K6 raised his eyebrows. His face didn’t show much concern or impatience either.
“I suppose you do have to see him,” K6 said, amid the sound of boiling water. “Yu Le sent not only him but also other things. We also hid it at his hiding place—now that your eggs are done, we’ll wait 30 minutes to make sure there aren’t any Order Supervisors that will come knocking on our door.”
“…I wasn’t followed.”
“I don’t believe you,” K6 said shamelessly.
“Do you have an automatic egg peeler here?”
“There is no such thing.”
The author has something to say:
Tang’s heart was bought by a few hard-boiled eggs (???
…Writing this chapter makes me want to eat hard-boiled eggs.
Oh, I guess I did Su Zhao dirty. Guess she wasn’t as psychotic as I thought, and that chapter was the catalyst for this moment.
Happy Halloween everyone. In celebration, I decided to release my newest project a bit early given how well it matches the holiday. It is also by Nian Zhong, one of my favorite author. If you’re interested in modern-supernatural story, do check it out: Evil As Humans. You can click the link to read the summary. The prologue has been released.
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One thought on “Happy Doomsday Ch213”
super blessed to have all these translations!