Chapter 184: Underground Ark
There were still other guests in the hotel camp; they were likely smugglers or Ruin Hunters that operated in the area. However, Jiang Baimian was in no rush to make contact with them. After all, they were unfamiliar with the area, and vigilance was popular here.
The other party might not be willing to communicate with them, and it might result in unpleasant misunderstandings. Therefore, after she was done narrating the Old World story, Jiang Baimian got everyone to return to their rooms and keep themselves in optimal shape.
After a simple breakfast the next morning, they drove their old companion along the road outside the park and headed to the lake.
A gray car that ‘harmonized’ with the environment was already parked here. Inside was a person wearing a thin muslin cloth over his head.
Although Jiang Baimian knew that this was a tradition of Redstone Collection—brought about by the Vigilance Church—she still found it weird when actually seeing this scene.
At this moment, a line of lyrics sounded from Shang Jianyao’s beloved small speaker. “I’ll blow up the school…”
In the passenger seat, Jiang Baimian looked ahead and ordered, “Stop! Turn it off; it’s time to get to work.”
After they approached, the person in the hood rolled down the window and shouted, “Follow me!”
“On what basis?” Shang Jianyao replied without showing any weakness.
The hooded person was stunned. “Didn’t the bishop invite you here?”
“Always be vigilant!” Shang Jianyao shouted the slogan that he had been eager to say for a long time.
The hooded person was dumbfounded, momentarily unsure how to persuade the other party. However, he wasn’t willing to give up and return to get Bishop Renato to come over.
In the jeep, Long Yuehong had to admit that the effects of Shang Jianyao’s ‘joke’ wasn’t bad when Shang Jianyao was not targeting him.
Jiang Baimian decided not to tolerate Shang Jianyao’s antics. She rolled down the window and shouted, “Lead the way!”
The Redstone Collection townsfolk in the muslin hood heaved a sigh of relief and started the sedan car.
They drove along the lakeside, advancing toward the mountains at the city ruin’s edge.
The roads along the way seemed to have been leveled. There weren’t many potholes or any obstacles. Nearly 20 minutes later, they left the ‘city’ and arrived in front of a two-story building that resembled a fort.
Renato—who was wearing a black cloak and a white, black-patterned mask—stood on the fort’s second-floor balcony and said to Bai Chen and the others, “Please come in.”
Jiang Baimian compared the contents of the auxiliary chip and said, “The data characteristics match. We can preliminarily confirm that it’s the same person as the one from last night.”
In a place where nobody liked to show their faces, Jiang Baimian could only determine if it was the same person by recording their physical characteristics, vocal characteristics, and electric signals.
Electric signals couldn’t uniquely identify a person like fingerprints or irises, but there were differences in electric signals among people as a result of one’s physical conditions and habits. On the other hand, the change in the same person’s physical condition and actions would also result in changes in electric signals. Therefore, electric signal data could only be used as a reference.
After receiving Jiang Baimian’s confirmation, Long Yuehong and the others pushed open the door and alighted. They followed the guide—who was wearing a thin muslin hood—into the sturdy, grayish-white ‘fort.’
At this moment, Renato had already come down from the second floor and was waiting for them in the hall.
“Is this your cathedral?” Jiang Baimian looked around with interest.
Red was the primary color used, giving off a very dangerous feeling that required one to be sufficiently vigilant. Amidst the red was gold, looking as if it represented a certain holiness.
On the wall in the deepest part of the hall was a large symbol—it was a white door. The door was half-closed, and behind it was darkness, hiding a faint female figure.
“Yes for whatever’s on the ground,” Renato said truthfully.
“There’s an underground area?” Jiang Baimian asked.
She didn’t mind being identified as the team’s leader. This was because she would be the first to be attacked if anything happened. Furthermore, she believed that she had a faster reaction speed and a higher chance of survival than the other members, including Shang Jianyao.
At this moment, Shang Jianyao was muttering to himself, “Tomato scrambled eggs.”
Shang Jianyao was clearly referring to the colors here. However, he didn’t raise his hand to wipe the corners of his mouth.
This made Jiang Baimian suspect that he was missing his friend, Xiaochong. This child—who was suspected to be the King of the Heartless—had a set of clothes that matched the colors of tomato scrambled eggs.
Renato answered Jiang Baimian’s question. “The underground area might be ten times larger than the ones aboveground. It belongs to Mr. DiMarco.”
“Ten times? Was this repaired after the Old World was destroyed, or did it originally exist?” Bai Chen asked on behalf of the Old Task Force.
Renato explained simply, “Mr. DiMarco’s ancestors were apocalyptic preppers, who believed that a disaster would eventually descend upon the world. He spent a large sum of money and hired specialized personnel. It took many years before he finally built an underground shelter that could accommodate hundreds of people. It’s said that there are ten floors.
“He didn’t manage to use this shelter himself, but it was a blessing for his descendants. Mr. DiMarco’s great-grandfather relied on this shelter to escape the Old World’s destruction and the Chaotic Era’s war successfully.”
Long Yuehong felt inexplicably relieved when he heard that. It turns out that many people in the Old World had a sense of danger and had built underground shelters in advance. The only difference between the company and them is that the former is a little larger… Uh, a little bit too much…
Renato’s recount didn’t stop. “After that, he converted to our Lady—Eidolon Nun—before his death and rented out the land above to our Church forever. With this cathedral, we gained a foothold in Redstone Collection.”
At this point, Renato couldn’t help but praise, “Wariness is a hint from the Goddess.”
“You speak excellent Ashlandic,” Shang Jianyao praised.
Renato smiled and said, “More than half of Redstone Collection speak Ashlandic.”
“Is that so…” Jiang Baimian asked, “Is Mr. DiMarco considered a resident of Redstone Collection? ”
She had considerable interest in the DiMarco family. After all, a family that had been passed down since the Old World’s destruction might have some important information.
“Yes, he’s an honorary mayor,” Renato explained simply. “In the beginning, Redstone Collection existed because Mr. DiMarco’s great-grandfather and grandfather exchanged supplies with outsiders, attracting a group of merchants and wilderness nomads. If it weren’t for the fact that Mr. DiMarco was unwilling to leave his Underground Ark, he would definitely be the bona fide mayor now.”
“Mr. DiMarco hasn’t been to the surface?” Bai Chen didn’t expect such a person to exist elsewhere apart from Pangu Biology’s employees.
“Not only is he unwilling to come to the surface, but he also forbids others from entering the Underground Ark, apart from when he accepts slaves once a year. Even those slaves will undergo at least six months of inspection and training at the Underground Ark’s top floor. How vigilant!” Renato praised sincerely. “If it weren’t for the fact that we need your help here, no one would take the initiative to mention Mr. DiMarco to you.”
If it weren’t for the fact that he couldn’t enter the Underground Ark, he might’ve wanted to give DiMarco a Pious medal personally.
“Who’s in charge of the DiMarco family’s external transactions?” Jiang Baimian asked.
“Mr. DiMarco’s three stewards are each in charge of something.” Renato pointed at an elevator at the edge of the hall. “Let’s go to the place where Mass is held.”
When he conversed with the four Old Task Force members, not a single believer was in the hall. Even the man that had led the way had disappeared, having hidden somewhere.
This made the cathedral appear extremely quiet, empty, and terrifying.
Of course, Jiang Baimian and the others could detect many key areas where people were hidden.
After entering the elevator, Renato pressed B1.
“Didn’t you say that the underground section belongs to Mr. DiMarco?” Bai Chen asked acutely.
Renato tersely acknowledged it. “This floor is actually a separate area between the Underground Ark and the buildings on the ground. Mr. DiMarco lends us this place for Mass when he isn’t using this level to train and inspect the slaves.”
Shang Jianyao immediately asked, “Is this floor suitable for hide and seek?”
“You mean hiding ritual,” Renato emphasized.
As he spoke, the elevator had already descended and opened its door.
In front of them was a small hall with many tunnels extending in different directions.
Renato—who was wearing a white mask with black patterns—continued speaking. “This place is huge. There are many rooms and many corridors; it’s a suitable place for hiding. If it weren’t here, we might’ve demarcated an area in the city ruin for Mass. That would make people even harder to find.”
Bai Chen looked around and said, “Take us around first. It’s best not to miss anything.”
They could only discuss the subsequent payment after they finished exploring the scene.
“Alright.” Renato didn’t hesitate and led the Qian Bai Team into the first passage on the right.
This was likely a planned residential area. There were many rooms of the same size, with old single beds, double beds, bunk beds, and various cabinets and chairs.
“We’ve already searched everywhere we can,” Renato emphasized as he led the way. “During Mass, we also had people guard the elevators and stairs.”
“We won’t blindly believe you!” Shang Jianyao had waited for this opportunity for a long time.
This rendered Renato momentarily speechless.
Bai Chen—who had temporarily become the leader in the ground—could only help add, “The prior search process can only be used as a reference. Otherwise, it will interfere with our judgment and make us leave out some important details.”
Renato expressed his understanding and praised, “Professional.”
At this moment, Jiang Baimian frowned indiscernibly and looked at the corner at the end of the corridor. “Let’s continue forward.”
No one had any objections.
As they walked, Shang Jianyao and Renato simultaneously cast their gazes at the air around the corner ahead.
It was the ceiling.
Renato quickened his pace and asked loudly, “Who’s up there?”
The grill around the ceiling vent soon moved away, and a person jumped down.
This person was a boy who looked about 15 or 16 years old. His blond hair limply hung above his head, and his green eyes were filled with a joyous glow. He—who was about 1.6 meters tall—looked at Renato and smiled innocently. “Good morning, Your Grace.”
This boy spoke in the Red River language.
Renato’s voice sank as he replied in Red River language, “Viel, where were you hiding previously?”