Chapter 109: Blackout
349th floor, Zone C, Room 12.
Chen Xinyan picked up the telephone again and listened for a while.
Upon seeing his expression turn solemn, Jiang Baimian thoughtfully asked, “Negative development?”
Chen Xinyan nodded. “Ren Jie—495th floor’s Guide—has been infected with the Heartless disease and is under control. Doctor of the Church Deceased’s Return, Zhang Zicong, destroyed many surveillance files and hanged himself in his office.”
Jiang Baimian raised her eyebrows slightly. “That was pretty fast.”
Chen Xinyan continued, “Zhang Zicong left behind a suicide note. He claimed to have the Awakened ability to make people go crazy and appear to be infected with the Heartless disease. He also personally dealt with Shen Du and Ren Jie. He knew that the matter had been exposed and he wouldn’t be spared, so he decided to be a martyr.”
Jiang Baimian quietly listened and asked, “Did he say how the faith of the Arbiter of Fate was inculcated into him?”
“His suicide note said that he served in the Security Department and often worked on the surface for the past ten years. This matches his résumé.” Chen Xinyan’s expression had eased up and returned to its previous composure.
He thought for a moment and asked, “What do you think of Zhang Zicong’s death and note?”
Jiang Baimian indiscernibly puffed up her cheeks. Then, she quickly stopped this behavior to maintain her image.
She smiled and said, “The note was written in too much detail. It’s as if he wanted everything to be accounted for and shoulder all the blame.”
“Great minds think alike.” Chen Xinyan gave a thumbs up. He paused and said, “But after we capture the relatively important parishioners Xiong Ming divulged, today’s operation will almost be over.
“Zhang Zicong’s death and the surveillance data’s destruction has indeed cut off any further direction in our investigations. We can only use his testimony to understand his usual social connections and conduct a more detailed investigation. At the same time, we have to see how much useful surveillance footage the technical department can recover.”
Jiang Baimian nodded solemnly. “If you need any help, feel free to look for me.”
After making the promise, she immediately smiled. “Immediately let me know if you have any further news.”
Chen Xinyan smiled. “No problem.”
495th floor, Zone B, Room 196.
Shang Jianyao sat behind the desk and looked at the glass window that he could touch simply by reaching out. His gaze was a little unfocused.
At this moment, a sweet voice—which Pangu Biology employees were very familiar with—suddenly sounded on the Random Stories radio program.
“Dear employees, I have breaking news here with me. I’m Radio Broadcaster Houyi.
“After strict investigations, the company captured a group of terrorists tonight…”
Shang Jianyao’s eyes flickered as he leaned back in his chair.
After this piece of news, the interior of Pangu Biology returned to normal.
The next day, Shang Jianyao entered Room 14 on the 647th floor 15 minutes early. As expected, he saw Jiang Baimian waiting there.
He walked over, pulled out a chair, and sat down. Without waiting for his team leader to speak, he spoke first. “I might have been attacked.”
Many of the words Jiang Baimian was about to say got stuck in her mouth. She couldn’t help but ask in surprise, “What do you mean by might?”
Shang Jianyao pointed at his left shoulder near his chest. “There’s a fresh hole here that reached all the way to my bulletproof vest.”
He then raised his right arm. “There are sudden bruises and scratches on this side of the elbow, ribs, and the side of the leg.”
At this point, Shang Jianyao added, “It wasn’t caused by your combat training. I didn’t participate in any training yesterday.”
“You’re very careful.” Jiang Baimian nodded and thought for a moment. “When did these marks appear?”
Shang Jianyao had long thought about this question. “After bidding you farewell, just before I entered my room. I only remember walking to Zone B before I found myself at the door. I estimate that I have about two to three minutes of blank memories between that period.
“Back then, a strange person passed by. I didn’t see his face clearly.”
“How strange?” Jiang Baimian asked.
Shang Jianyao very ‘solemnly’ replied, “His singing was terrible.”
“…That’s a characteristic.” Jiang Baimian sighed silently. “What else?”
“He wore a baseball cap that was pressed very low. When he heard me calling for him, he ran like a rabbit,” Shang Jianyao described truthfully. “He picked up a metal tube and something else from the ground. I suspect that it was the weapon that he used to attack me and created the hole.”
“You sure have a deep impression of rabbits,” Jiang Baimian casually said. “Why didn’t you chase after him back then?”
Shang Jianyao frankly replied, “Back then, I thought he ran off because he was afraid that I would comment about his singing skills.”
“…” The corners of Jiang Baimian’s mouth twitched. “It seems like your jumpy train of thought has pros and cons. At times, it can allow you to be unaffected by the corresponding state and break free of any shackles. At other times, it can also make you miss some obvious clues.”
Without waiting for Shang Jianyao’s response, Jiang Baimian asked again, “How can you be sure that the blank memories lasted about two to three minutes?”
Shang Jianyao glanced at his team leader curiously. “When you first obtained a watch, didn’t you keep looking at it from time to time?”
“…” Jiang Baimian had to admit that Shang Jianyao made sense, but she was unwilling to admit it. “But it’s been many days since you obtained the watch. You went to Qifeng Town and even returned to the company. Besides, your watch is good. It’s only a little damaged, and it’s been running the entire time. Don’t you get sick of it?”
Shang Jianyao said with an ‘obviously’ expression, “If I don’t look at it often, how can I let the company employees know that I have a mechanical watch?”
“That makes sense…” Jiang Baimian was convinced.
She didn’t ask any further and analyzed the situation as she thought. “In other words, there’s a high chance that you were attacked, but you don’t have any relevant memories. You can only make a guess based on the traces on your body…
“Recently, the ones most likely to attack you are Life Ritual’s parishioners. Yes, the Doctor of the Church most likely saw you conversing with Xiong Ming, so he immediately reacted. Their goal is definitely to erase the relevant clues and stop the investigation.
“This goal can be achieved by killing you and infecting you with the Heartless disease. It can also be achieved by wiping away the relevant memories. The latter can be linked to your missing memories of an attack.”
At this point, Jiang Baimian looked at Shang Jianyao and guessed, “The Life Ritual parish didn’t have the time to plan a meticulous murder. They could only send an Awakened member with the ability to erase memories to you immediately. During this process, there was a high chance that a series of battles happened. However, he ultimately failed. He had no choice but to terminate the attack by wiping away your latest memories to escape safely…”
Clap! Clap! Clap!
Shang Jianyao clapped in agreement.
Jiang Baimian glared at him. “Why didn’t they directly infect you with the Heartless disease? Did they go into a tailspin? Before attacking you, Deceased’s Return—Zhang Zicong—had no intention of sacrificing himself?”
Without giving Shang Jianyao a chance to speak, Jiang Baimian asked, “Have you forgotten your conversation with Xiong Ming? Did you forget anything related to the Life Ritual parish?”
Shang Jianyao replied seriously, “No, those memories are very complete. They can be verified from front to back, left to right.”
Shang Jianyao had clearly finished jogging through his memories last night.
“From the looks of it, the ability to erase memories is very restrictive. It might only be able to target two to three minutes of information, and it can only be done one at a time… Unfortunately, Deceased’s Return destroyed plenty of the surveillance footage. Otherwise, we would’ve been able to find traces of the person who attacked you. Yes, I’ll report the matter later…” Jiang Baimian then talked about the operation last night in great detail.
She then said, “I was a little curious about one thing. Xiong Ming didn’t mention you at all in his statement. He didn’t mention chatting with you.
“I previously thought that he was protecting you—a fellow Awakened, a Neo-Human. I thought that he was rather humane by certain standards, but there aren’t many people who he acknowledges as ‘humans.’
“From the looks of it, he might’ve met that person earlier than you and had his memories wiped.”
Shang Jianyao was confused. “Why did they wipe his memories? So what if he knows?”
“I can’t figure it out either. Maybe the Life Ritual parish’s higher-ups were worried that Xiong Ming would incite a Neo-Human faction… Back then, they should have been relatively confident and handled the matter very carefully. In the end, your combat strength exceeded their imaginations, forcing them to terminate their plan. As a result, I didn’t encounter any subsequent attacks.” Jiang Baimian casually said, “Next, we can only see how the company’s investigations turn out. Heh heh, at least your identity as an Awakened has been kept secret for now.”
Shang Jianyao nodded and smiled. “I knew something was wrong with the surveillance cameras.”
“That’s right… It’s no wonder the Life Ritual parish was confident about their secrets leaking. They also rattled on about how the Arbiter of Fate has always been paying attention to all life and how the Doctor of the Church has always been paying attention to your words.” Jiang Baimian sighed with emotion. “Who could’ve imagined that the PIC of the entire Surveillance Department was the parish’s Doctor of the Church? This also explains why their secret proselytizing hasn’t been discovered for years.”
Shang Jianyao thought for a moment, and his expression became a little strange. “Team Leader, do you think the surveillance footage can be recovered?”
“The current feedback I’m getting is that it’s very, very difficult.” Jiang Baimian’s heart stirred as she asked with a smile, “Don’t tell me you took off your pants to humiliate the surveillance camera?”
Shang Jianyao sized up Jiang Baimian. “Team Leader, you’re so perverted.”
“…” Jiang Baimian gritted her teeth.
Shang Jianyao said seriously, “I’ve only made a face to scare him, shone a flashlight at it, and made insulting hand gestures at it.”
Jiang Baimian shut her mouth and shook her head slightly with mixed emotions. After a few seconds, she exhaled. “Your life sure is colorful…”
Just as she said that, the Old Task Force’s only landline phone rang.
Jiang Baimian signaled for Shang Jianyao not to speak as she picked up the receiver.
“Hello? Ah, the minister… wants me to go over?” Jiang Baimian quickly put down the receiver and said to Shang Jianyao, “Deputy Minister Xenny needs me for something. I believe it’s either about the Life Ritual parish or the answer regarding Moat Town has been given.”