The Uncanny Valley Traveling Guide - Chapter 19
“…So,” after listening to Xie Yuanyuan’s description, Mu Tuo’s dark brows were furrowed, “this incident was purely initiated by Xiong Lin, although Brother He Qin’s murder was a bit too much, but…”
Wen Zheliu endured and endured before swallowing the words “he’s a mole”.
“The one who is evil at the beginning will be evil until the end.” He Qin said calmly, “Since he has done so, he has chosen his own end. What can others do for him?”
Du Zijun nodded and said, “That’s right; even if he doesn’t die, the rest will be killed by him. What’s the use of keeping such a person? Waiting for him to pit us?”
Ke Wenyan was trembling with anger, and he said in disbelief, “I really can’t believe you’re people born in a civilized society. What’s wrong with you? Can you throw away the education you have received over the past decades after only a few days?! He’s a life, a living life. How can you just kill him, even if he’s guilty of something? Can’t you bring him back and give him a decent death?!”
At the end, his tone was choked up, and he was on the verge of losing control. It seemed that the scene of his companion being swallowed alive by an inhuman monster still cast an indelible shadow on him.
Wen Zheliu was a little surprised; he’s no longer sure whether Ke Wenyan is also one of the moles. If he is, then the emotional fluctuations he shows at this moment are undoubtedly extremely abnormal. What he should do now is try to clear up his suspicions and disassociate himself from Xiong Lin so as not to let other players who find out the clues suspect him.
If he isn’t the mole…… then the situation now is much more complicated and reasonable. It’s justifiable to say that he attaches importance to human rights, that he has become good friends with Xiong Lin in just two days, or that he’s too weak to stand the cruel scene.
Thinking about it, he couldn’t help but exhale, giving birth to a few moments of undeserved compassion.
“…… What do you mean by that?” A faint voice came from next to the seat, and he turned around to see that it was Zhou Qing.
“When I was almost killed the day before yesterday, did someone come out to help me?” Zhou Qing slowly straightened up from the sofa, staring fixedly at Ke Wenyan. Her black and crystal-clear eyes were obscured under the dancing candlelight, as something was churning inside: “Do you guys ever think that I’m a human being too and shouldn’t die so wretchedly with tears in my eyes?”
No one answered, but Ke Wenyan turned his head slightly, while Bai Hao opened his eyes wide, as if he didn’t know what she was talking about.
Zhou Qing’s face changed suddenly, like a volcano erupting in an instant: “What’s going on with you people! You only treat yourself and your friends as human beings, not only turning a blind eye to other people’s suffering but also finding many high-sounding reasons and excuses for yourself. But as soon as there’s something unsatisfactory, you will quickly use your unwarranted charge to suppress others. This is clearly a double standard. How did you do it? You tell me!!!”
There was silence all around. Zhou Yao hugged Zhou Qing’s body, comforting her in silence.
At this moment, Wen Zheliu suddenly sees through something. Zhou Yao’s words seemed to split bright lightning in his heart, making him wake up like a dream!
“You only treat yourself and your friends as human beings”… Yes, to put it another way, this sentence can be completely understood as “You only treat yourself and your friends as the same kind”!
At the beginning, he still doubted the innocence of these people, but isn’t their behavior the best explanation for their homogeneity and exclusiveness as moles? Ke Wenyan’s grief and resentment, Bai Hao’s fury, Gao Xinghan’s mournful expression… Different expressions, but similar emotions and painful lights in those eyes… And there’s also Lu Hai and Lin Fangfei, who didn’t leave any trace in the system after their deaths.
At this point, Wen Zheliu finally understood that these so-called “players,” who have been with them day and night from the beginning of the game to now, are neither arranged by the system nor spies. They’re not human in the first place!
What are they? AI, ghosts, or what the eyeless monster looks like after it turns into a human?
Wen Zheliu’s brain was running at full speed. He Qin immediately noticed that he was trembling slightly, so he couldn’t care less about the monkey show here. He hurriedly and carefully brought him up and raised his voice to all present: “I killed Xiong Lin because he pushed my brother down and attracted monsters. There’s no other reason or personal grudge. You don’t need to know it now, but you should understand it the day after tomorrow at the latest. ”
After speaking, he took Wen Zheliu upstairs, and when he passed by Gao Xinghan, he smiled coldly and said again: “If anyone still isn’t convinced, you can come to me directly. I’ll accompany you at any time.”
Zhou Yao shrugged his shoulders. Needless to say, he and Zhou Qing are truly siblings because they even looked alike when being angry: “Is there anything else? If not, we’ll go up and rest first.”
Du Zijun yawned, turned around, and went upstairs. Xie Yuanyuan had already slipped up quietly. The good old chap Mu Tuo looked left and right, finally just sighed, and said to the remaining three people: “Take a rest early; don’t sleep too late; it’s most important to recover physical strength.”
The spacious living room was empty, and a gust of wind blew from nowhere, blowing out the candlelight. In the dark room, there were only three shadows standing silently, like ghosts.
As soon as Wen Zheliu entered the room, he couldn’t hide his excitement and said to He Qin: “I guessed their identities!”
He Qin’s narrow peach-blossom eyes widened slightly and he gazed at him seriously, obviously waiting for him to say the following.
Wen Zheliu turned around the room several times in a hurry and finally sorted out the messy thoughts in his mind. After thinking for a while, he pushed He Qin to sit on the bed, and he himself pulled out the chair under the desk and straddled it. Crossing his fingers, he said to He Qin, “First, let’s start with Xiong Lin.”
He Qin: “Mm.”
“Among these people, Xiong Lin has the least reason to harm me because I have never had any friction with him. On the contrary, Zhou Qing and Du Zijun, who have had disputes with him, are more at risk. But why did he choose me? Because I’m the key point.”
He pondered for a while and said, “To be precise, because I’m not alone but tied to you. Strictly speaking, you’re the item I summoned, and our combined strength is the highest among everyone else. If I were removed, you would also be ejected from this world, so this is actually a ploy to kill three birds with one stone: kill me, get rid of you, and at the same time eliminate the strongest combat power among real players!”
“—So, from this perspective, Xiong Lin must be a mole.”
He Qin nodded: “Continue.”
Wen Zheliu hesitated for a moment and said, “In fact, my next reasoning isn’t based on anything but mostly relies on intuition. If I can find more reliable evidence, that would be the best.”
“Downstairs just now, Zhou Qing’s words gave me a lot of inspiration. She said, ‘You only treat yourself and your friends as human beings’. And when I think of the few people who were so genuinely angry and sad, I think this phrase could be completely rephrased to ‘You only treat yourself and your friends as the same kind’.”
He Qin’s brows slightly moved, he propped his chin with one hand, and he tapped his face a few times with his slender index finger: “You mean, the reason why their reaction is so intense is because they lost their kind?”
“Yes.” Wen Zheliu replied resolutely, “At first, I was wondering why Lu Hai and Lin Fangfei died without leaving any traces in the system. I also guessed whether they were NPCs or spies planted by the system, but they were too human-like. They participated in the novice lucky wheel and drew the item. Their deaths were real and tragic, and there’s also their player identities as a cover…I wouldn’t have thought they would be something non-human. But according to what happened in the past two days, they’re all the same kind of creatures. In other words, they aren’t human at all. ”
“And what would they be?” He Qin curled his lips and asked rhetorically in a calm manner.
“Are they monsters, AI, or ghosts?” Wen Zheliu shook his head in confusion and said, “I don’t have a clue yet.”
He Qin said: “You can take your time thinking about it. Don’t just look at their words and deeds; try to think about other aspects as well.”
Without waiting for Wen Zheliu to reply, he said slowly, “Since you’ve spoken so much, then next, it’s my turn to ask you.”
“Before the incident, you knew that Xiong Lin was suspected of being a mole, right?”
Wen Zheliu didn’t understand, so he nodded: “Mmm… yeah.”
“When you saw the monster’s lair, you also felt it was dangerous, didn’t you?”
Wen Zheliu’s heart shivered; he already knew what He Qin was going to say: “Ah …..yeah.”
“Then why didn’t you know to be on guard, and when someone called you, you foolishly leaned over?” He Qin narrowed his eyes sternly, “Where is your usual cleverness, huh?”
Wen Zheliu made a bitter face: “I… I was wrong.”
He Qin raised his hand and made a gesture to beat him. Finally, he just dropped it and ruffled his head indiscriminately: “Sleep! Next time, I’ll teach you a lesson.”
Wen Zheliu seemed to be pardoned, but before the lights in the room went out, he inevitably thought of a problem: With He Qin’s guidance and suggestions, the progress in solving the puzzles of this world was so fast that even he felt that something was wrong. But after leaving this world, where will He Qin go?
He turned over on the bed and quietly asked, “Brother, what grade of item are you?”
The mattress sank, and He Qin also turned over from the other end and asked, “What’s wrong?”
In the silence, the voices of the two people were low and hazy. He Qin lowered his head to look at him. The heat of the two people’s breaths mingled in the air. As long as Wen Zheliu raised his head, he could touch his lips.
His heart was beating wildly, and he asked in a daze, “Can you……accompany me in the next world as well?”
He Qin was silent, and after a long time, he said: “Baby, only Grade A or above items have the authority to travel in different worlds. Do you know what the concept of a Grade A item is?”
Wen Zheliu was taken aback for a moment, then pursed his lips and replied stiffly: “I don’t know.”
“Of course you don’t know. You’re very powerful and capable, but you don’t have a correct understanding of the concept of items yet.” He Qin’s tone was gentle, as if he were coaxing a child, “Baby, I’ll tell you now what the items of Nova City mean, and you have to remember it well.”
“—The items of Nova City are the bridges that carry players’ dreams and provide the channel for them to be realized.” He said, “Understand?”
Wen Zheliu was a little confused. He opened his eyes wide in the darkness, trying to see He Qin’s expression clearly, but he could only see his undulating silhouette.
“If you want to run faster than the wind, then ride a mount, wear running shoes, or ride on a maglev; if you want to be stronger than Superman, then put on wrist guards and armor, or eat a special elixir designed for this purpose; if you want to be handsome and beautiful, want to master a certain skill, want to call the wind and rain, want to be omnipotent… Everything you want to do can be achieved in the city of Nova, relying on items.”
“If they’re just a set of data, then why grade them? Is it just a gimmick to lure players to spend money?” He Qin looked at Wen Zheliu tenderly and said, “No, baby, because some items can really achieve your dreams completely and permanently. They’re composed of data, yet they’re not just as simple as data.”
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “At this point, even I don’t know where I’m supposed to go when this world ends.”
After a pause, he made up his mind and told the truth: “… because I have no grade.”
Wen Zheliu’s eyes were sour, and his lips trembled as he asked anxiously: “How can there be no grade? Items should have grades!”
He Qin covered his eyes and felt a trace of wetness on his palm. He hastily coaxed him, “Good boy, how old are you, and why are you still crying over this trivial matter? I just want to tell you to keep that fragment well and don’t foolishly show it to others. Pay more attention to it, okay?”
“But…” But how can this be considered a trivial matter?
In this unaccompanied world, He Qin is tantamount to a line of defense that symbolizes his last connection with the outside world. If even he leaves his side, what else can he really hold on to?
“It’s late, go to sleep.” He Qin said softly, “If you don’t sleep, be careful of getting up with dark circles tomorrow morning.”
Wen Zheliu opened and closed his lips, feeling thousands of words welling up in his throat, yet what can he say? He Qin’s answer that day was equivalent to a silent rejection. This black panther’s fur is as gorgeous as satin; its fangs and claws were invincible; it walked on the top of the mountains; its head was crowned with gold; but it was now lying beside him, comforting him with gentle words, guiding him… Wen Zheliu pressed He Qin’s hand and finally closed his eyes in worry.
I have nothing to ask for. I used to yearn for a reliable brother, but now I have one. He thought, I won’t ask for anything more.
Ten minutes after he fell asleep, He Qin opened his eyes in the darkness. He leaned over and left with a touch on the young man’s cheek, as light as a ripple passing through the water.
“Good night,” he said.
On the second day, a note flew along the carpet into Wen Zheliu and He Qin’s room. Wen Zheliu picked it up and saw that there was a line of flamboyant handwriting on it.
“After breakfast, come to Zhou Qing’s room.”
The signature is Du Zijun.
He Qin smiled as usual and drew the note from his hand: “Let’s go and take a look after the meal.”