Chapter 178: The Next Step
Bai Chen didn’t comment on Long Yuehong’s tiny obsession. She found a bench at the edge of the plaza and sat down, quietly watching the entire training class.
After returning to Ah Fu’s Gun Shop and meeting with Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao, she didn’t wait until it was night time to visit the Today nightclub to check if the underground market was open. Instead, she brought Long Yuehong over before the sky turned dark.
‘Uncle Sun’—Sun Fei’s house wasn’t in the same area of the Today Nightclub but on North Street. Even so, he was already in his office at Wild Wolf Alley.
Sun Fei had a deep impression of Bai Chen because of Eugene’s incident. After receiving the message, he got his bodyguards to lead the two of them to the top floor in a retrofitted elevator.
After opening the office door, the bodyguard said respectfully, “Boss, they’re here.”
Sun Fei’s office was completely different from what Long Yuehong had expected. There was no desk, no bookshelves, and no chairs. Instead, there were a bunch of seemingly useless black screens and an elegant shrine of the same color.
The large office—which was the result of knocking down a few walls—appeared spacious and austere thanks to the intricate decorations.
The thin Sun Fei with white sideburns was sitting cross-legged on a cushion. Behind him was a tall shrine, and in front of him was a tea set made of ebony.
He held a string of lustrous mala beads in one hand and a small pot in the other, pouring amber-colored tea into the cup.
A delicate fragrance wafted through the air, causing one’s body and mind to become tranquil.
“Uncle Sun,” greeted Bai Chen.
“Sit.” Sun Fei put down the teapot and smiled. He was wearing a black outfit that followed the Old World’s classic style. Around him were many pots of odorless, burning-red charcoal.
This made the entire office seem rather warm.
Bai Chen didn’t stand on ceremony. She led Long Yuehong along and knelt on the cushion opposite Sun Fei.
She didn’t sit down cross-legged like Sun Fei because it wasn’t convenient to get up in the event of an accident.
Sun Fei twirled the string of mala beads with his finger and smiled at them. “I never thought that day would be the last day of Eugene’s life.”
What does this mean… Long Yuehong suddenly felt a little tense, but he tried his best not to show it. He felt that Uncle Sun’s words were hinting that they were behind the attack on Eugene.
“It was a little too easy on him,” replied Bai Chen calmly. As she said this, she even tugged at the gray scarf around her neck deliberately.
“Regardless, it was a fine development. My brother and I are very grateful to the person who did it,” Sun Fei said in a casual tone. “If not for us being curtailed due to our livelihood being in First City’s territory and having business and family, Eugene definitely wouldn’t have been able to live past this year. Heh heh. Besides, by Subhuti’s grace, he had been given a chance to realize his wrongdoings and repent. Unfortunately, he didn’t grasp it.”
Are you saying that Eugene wouldn’t have been able to leave Weed City alive, even if he hadn’t died this time? Wait a minute, I can’t have such thoughts. He has a deep relationship with the Crystal Consciousness Church and might be an Awakened. He might be able to read minds… Long Yuehong quickly diverted his thoughts elsewhere.
In his haste, his mind was filled with some of the miscellaneous matters that had left a deep impression on him: someone nastily saying, “Sigh, I’m only 1.75 meters tall after genetic enhancement…”
Phew… Long Yuehong let out a breath and began recalling what he had eaten in the past few days.
At that moment, he saw Uncle Sun looking over. When their gazes met, he smiled.
Bai Chen grasped the keyword in Sun Fei’s words and asked, “You believe in the Kalendaria, Subhuti?”
Sun Fei replied leisurely, “The longer you live, the more you see and the more you believe in the Kalendaria’s existence. And at my age, my health has already begun to deteriorate. It’s inevitable to be more focused on the cultivation of my mind and the tempering of my spirit.”
If Shang Jianyao were here, he definitely would’ve said: “You can get the Monks Conclave to upload your consciousness to a stronger body…” Long Yuehong muttered inwardly.
Sun Fei’s gaze swept past him and Bai Chen, and his expression became a little more serious. “The path of the Monks Conclave is wrong. A body of flesh and blood with eternal consciousness doesn’t imply replacing a susceptible body but to temper the consciousness. This is so that it can exist eternally, never to be destroyed, even if it leaves the body. This is the true way of Buddhism. I view consciousness like a crystal, just like my take on Tathāgata.
“This is also the form the Kalendarium exist in.”
Perhaps it’s just a form that your Church believes the Kalendarium exists in… To be honest, compared to Sun Fei’s philosophy, Long Yuehong was more inclined to approve of a technological path. He felt that Zen Master Jingfa’s explanation was more reasonable and had a clear path to realization.
Long Yuehong would’ve been a strong believer if not for the fact that this group of mechanical monks would go berserk at the slightest faux pas or the details in their comical behavior.
Of course, he wasn’t Shang Jianyao, so he didn’t refute Sun Fei. He maintained his manners and listened quietly.
“I see…” Bai Chen didn’t comment on Sun Fei’s philosophy. As a qualified teammate, she hesitated for a moment before asking, “Does the Church you believe in have Holy Communion? What is it?”
Sun Fei was stunned. “Our Holy Communion is vegetarian, and it doesn’t have to be sumptuous. Just plain boiled radishes will do.”
“You don’t eat meat?” Long Yuehong asked in surprise.
Sun Fei shook his head. “Only Holy Communion doesn’t have meat or fish. One can eat meat as long as the animal wasn’t personally killed.”
It looks like you guys aren’t fated with Shang Jianyao… Long Yuehong sighed and felt happy for them.
After some small talk, Bai Chen went straight to the point. “Uncle Sun, do you have any controlled weapons here, such as military exoskeletons or bionic armor?”
“How can they be so easily acquired?” Sun Fei shook his head and said with a smile, “Even if we occasionally chance upon one or two, they will be sold very quickly.”
He deliberated for a moment before adding, “If you really want one, you can head south and visit Redstone Collection.”
Bai Chen was no stranger to Redstone Collection.
Redstone Collection was located in the Lake of Wrath’s vicinity, and it didn’t belong to any major power.
Perhaps because of this—coupled with the fact that it was physically closer to United Industries and along the roads to places like Future Intelligence and Mechanical Paradise—it gradually developed into a trading center for smuggled goods.
It could be said that Redstone Collection was equivalent to a more chaotic, disorderly Hunter’s Guild and less powerful Weed City.
Seeing Long Yuehong’s puzzled look, Sun Fei explained, “That place is relatively close to United Industries. It’s a large waypoint, where the corresponding smuggling goods exchange hands. Many of my goods are sourced from them.”
“It’s within United Industries’s sphere of influence? No wonder…” Long Yuehong was enlightened.
United Industries was a major power in the Red River delta. However, it wasn’t near the main Red River but located along a distributary river, the Golden River delta.
It was located south of First City. In the beginning, it was built by a large number of small factions with different factories and affiliated farms after the Old World was destroyed.
They already had a supply chain among the different tiny factions, but under First City’s oppression and invasion, they developed into a rather loose confederation with a company structure. It was quite different from Pangu Biology’s composition.
Their highest decision-making authority was the ‘President’s Office.’ A large number of branch offices and subsidiary companies were under it. There were professional security services, arms manufacturing, light manufacturing, and sister companies that provided enough steel. They had a somewhat complete set of sectors and could be considered the largest industrial entity in the Ashlands.
Their heavy weapons were well-regarded throughout the Ashlands. They were the main power that exported military exoskeleton equipment.
Sun Fei continued speaking after seeing Long Yuehong’s enlightened look. “If you want to get a military exoskeleton device from Redstone Collection, you better have some hard currency on hand. As you know, the things which limit United Industries’s expansion are oil, coal, food salt, smart chips, and high-performance batteries. That’s the best point of incision.
“Heh heh, don’t only limit yourself to controlled weapons. There’s plenty of good things over at Redstone Collection. These tea leaves are produced in the southern parts of United Industries. Powers like Future Intelligence in Old Mountain have quite a high demand for them.”
It seemed as though he was teaching Bai Chen and the others a way to earn money.
“Thank you.” Bai Chen didn’t ask any further.
Long Yuehong calculated the team’s remaining assets and found that they only had enough to eat unless they sold the bulletproof SUV that Xu Liyan had given them.
The next day, Shang Jianyao—who visited Castellan Manor daily for free food and drink—saw Xu Liyan again.
Xu Liyan dismissed his aides, leaving Zen Master Jingnian behind. He then looked at Jiang Baimian—who was beside Shang Jianyao—and nodded slightly. “I’ve considered it. In consideration of Weed City’s long-term development, I plan on establishing a partnership with you. However, we will not be signing any contracts. Sincerity is far more important.”
He didn’t want the contract to be leaked, lest it gave First City a reason to interfere. It was even possible that Pangu Biology might threaten him with the contract to serve the company’s own purposes at some point in time.
“No problem.” Jiang Baimian—who had ‘full authority’ regarding the negotiation—agreed.
“So when do we start?” Xu Liyan asked impatiently.
Jiang Baimian smiled. “Even if I report the matter to the company now and get someone over to carry out the bio-prosthetic limb transplant for you, I doubt you would do it. Do you trust us that much?”
Xu Liyan fell silent; it was true that he didn’t fully trust in Pangu Biology.
“Let’s start with a most basic partnership and build up trust bit by bit.” Jiang Baimian recalled the telegram’s contents and said, “Next, we will provide a batch of genetic enhancement liquid. Prepare an equivalent amount of metal and mineral for the trade. Any mineral will do.
“Castellan, although you are already past the best age for genetic enhancement, it’s better than nothing. You will still gain some benefits, and it will be sufficiently safe. Yes, you can also prepare it for your family’s descendants.”
Xu Liyan thought for a moment. “Sure.”
After reporting the matter regarding the Anti-intellectualism Church and Xu Liyan’s matter using the newly bought wireless transceiver, Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao received a reply when it was almost evening the next day.
The main content of the telegram was: Roger that. Will arrange for people to take over the follow-up matters. Your team’s next step: Follow the clues pointing to Mechanical Paradise and conduct a thorough investigation on the cause of the Old World’s destruction.