Chapter 192: Mountain Monsters
Long Yuehong didn’t know how he should criticize Shang Jianyao’s answer. He could only say in disbelief, “Don’t you find your description terrifying?”
“So what? He’s still human.” Shang Jianyao began to give an example. “Would you find a person terrifying just because they have no nose, ears, or eyelids?”
Long Yuehong imagined it and nodded heavily. “Yes.”
Shang Jianyao seemed to have just realized that there was a certain generation gap between him and his good friend. He could only change the example. “Would you find him terrifying just because he’s 1.75 meters tall, has average looks, and average grades?”
Long Yuehong didn’t know if Shang Jianyao was seriously giving an example or if he was just beginning his daily teasing. He said in exasperation and amusement, “How can it be the same?”
“Stop!” Jiang Baimian stopped their ‘debate’ and yawned. “It’s late; continue sleeping.”
“Team Leader, aren’t you worried that the Subhuman will return with companions?” Long Yuehong felt that it was necessary to keep watch until dawn.
Jiang Baimian smiled. “Not bad; you’re becoming more and more careful. Although this is the core area of Redstone Collection, and it’s unlikely that we will encounter a terrifying attack without any warning, the situation here is more complicated than I imagined. Ashlanders, Red River people, foreign smugglers, Ruin Hunters, Subhumans, the Vigilance Church, the Underground Ark… Ha, it has become a hodgepodge like the Rootless caravan. There’s indeed a need to take turns for night duty.
“However, there’s no need to be too worked up. Just having one person on night duty will do. You just have to pay attention to any loud sounds.”
“Yes, Team Leader!” Long Yuehong immediately replied.
The next morning, the Old Task Force quartet entered Redstone Collection in high spirits as always. They came to the Public Security Department again before visiting the DiMarco family’s butler.
“You guys seem to have encountered something in the middle of the night yesterday?” Han Wanghuo asked frankly. He didn’t hide the fact that Redstone Collection had surveillance of the hotel camp.
Jiang Baimian—who was wearing a graceful monk mask—smiled and said, “I was just thinking about how to start a conversation and ask where the fish-like Subhumans came from without making it obvious.”
“Will they sing a lullaby in the middle of the night?” Shang Jianyao asked excitedly.
Long Yuehong found the question a little strange at first, but he understood after some thought. Shang Jianyao linked the monsters in the radio story—which had a human head and a fish body and could sing beautiful songs—to the fish-like mutated Subhuman.
Long Yuehong had no idea why Shang Jianyao called it a lullaby.
Han Wanghuo was even more confused and directly ignored Shang Jianyao’s question. He tersely grunted and said, “These are Subhumans who live on certain islands in the Lake of Wrath. We generally call them merfolk.”
Bai Chen thought of the Subhumans in Blackrat Town and had no questions about the names given by Redstone Collection.
Han Wanghuo continued, “These Subhumans were originally fishermen from certain parts of the lake. When the Old World was destroyed, they mutated due to the pollution of certain areas and the corresponding water source. They slowly became what they are now.”
Upon hearing this, Long Yuehong suddenly felt a little confused. “Why are their abnormalities so uniform?”
This didn’t make sense! This wasn’t a mutation induction experiment that was administered with qualitative and quantitative objectives.
Han Wanghuo glanced at Jiang Baimian. Upon seeing that she didn’t say anything, he casually explained, “Back then, there were many abnormalities. Most died in a few days or months. Among the remaining, the merfolk are the ones who are most accustomed to the Lake of Wrath’s environment. They can reproduce and can dive very deep. They can find undercurrents that are devoid of pollution and obtain sufficient food from the lake. They gradually became one of the two mainstream elements in this area. Apart from the mountain monsters, the rest were wiped out at some point in time.”
“Mountain monsters?” Jiang Baimian acutely captured another term.
Han Wanghuo pointed at the ceiling and said, “Didn’t you guys go to the cathedral? Further north is a mountain range; there are also Subhumans there. They look much more normal than merfolk, but their skin is a little blue. Their teeth are relatively sharp, and it’s as easy for them to climb cliffs as it is for us to walk the ruins.”
Jiang Baimian asked with interest, “Why didn’t they get eliminated by nature and instead became one of the mainstream people in this area?”
Han Wanghuo was a little confused. “I’m not sure. I’m not a scholar in this regard.”
He recalled and said, “People in Redstone Collection only told me about the strength of the Subhumans and how to deal with them; they didn’t say anything else. But when I was a Ruin Hunter, I protected a researcher from First City. He told me that mountain monsters have a very strong resistance to certain pollution…”
Jiang Baimian came to a realization. She took out a pen and paper from her pocket and jotted down this point.
This stunned Han Wanghuo, and he hesitated before saying, “I’ve always felt that you don’t look like pure Ruin Hunters. You look more like researchers and investigators.”
As he spoke, he glanced at Shang Jianyao. His subconscious had eliminated this fellow from such an evaluation.
Shang Jianyao immediately expressed that Han Wanghuo’s words were unacceptable. “What kind of purity are you referring to? If we are talking about building walls, painting, being teachers, or picking up trash, we would indeed be impure.”
Han Wanghuo’s intuition told him not to continue arguing with this fellow. Otherwise, the situation might spiral out of control. Therefore, he cast his gaze at Jiang Baimian and Bai Chen.
Jiang Baimian laughed. “Ruin Hunters accept whatever missions that are available, so they naturally know a lot. They know the importance of recording information.”
After patronizing him, she asked, “The merfolk and mountain monsters don’t seem to have a friendly relationship with Redstone Collection?”
“Do you think they volunteered to live in harsh environments like the islands in the lake or the depths of the mountains?” Han Wanghuo sighed. “Ever since the Underground Ark opened, most of the pollution in this city has basically subsided. They were driven out of their homes.”
Jiang Baimian nodded slightly. “You seem to have a certain level of sympathy for them?”
“That’s my personality,” Han Wanghuo explained simply. “But this doesn’t stop me from organizing a team to protect Redstone Collection. Countless merfolk and mountain monsters have died under my gun.”
At this point, he thoughtfully muttered to himself, “Merfolk infiltrated the hotel camp… They’re a little tempted again…”
After muttering to himself, Han Wanghuo reminded the Old Task Force, “The merfolk have scales on their bodies. It’s very difficult for small caliber guns to deal damage to them. You have to be careful. Even if it were an ordinary gun, it would be best to double tap if the first shot doesn’t blow up their heads.”
“Thank you,” Jiang Baimian replied on behalf of the entire team.
After leaving the Public Security Department, they went straight to the Visa Trading Company on the fifth floor of Redstone Collection.
Unlike other places, not everyone was hiding here. A lady was still sitting behind a wooden platform near the door. She wore a fierce, green ghost mask as if she wanted to soothe the fear in her heart.
Jiang Baimian walked over and smiled. “We’re here for Mr. Carl. We made an appointment yesterday.”
The lady was highly tense as if she would find a place to hide at the slightest disturbance. She reluctantly said, “Mr. Carl did mention it. Go straight to the innermost office.”
Jiang Baimian grabbed Shang Jianyao and stopped him from adding fuel to the fire.
Bai Chen nodded at the lady, indicating that she didn’t have to be so vigilant.
Carl’s office was very simple, but it made Long Yuehong and the others find it abnormally amiable. This was very similar to Pangu Biology’s offices for middle management—a shelf with folders and books, a desk, a sofa, a pot of plants, and a few chairs. The only difference was that there was an iron-black safe here.
Like yesterday, Carl didn’t wear a mask. His slightly grizzled hair was neatly combed back.
At this moment, he was sitting there with his back straight as if he had always been like this.
Shang Jianyao spoke before Jiang Baimian could. “Aren’t you a believer of the Vigilance Church?”
Without a doubt, Shang Jianyao had switched to the Red River language.
Carl calmly said, “I’m very vigilant about matters pertaining to Sir.”
For this, he could ignore the vigilance for himself.
Jiang Baimian then took a step forward and smiled. “I won’t waste your time; I’ll be direct. Do you have a military exoskeleton? We want to buy one.”
Carl fell silent for a few seconds before saying, “For items like this, unless a major client has reserved it in advance, we would definitely keep it for our own use. Mr. DiMarco is very, very vigilant about his safety. He doesn’t mind paying a premium for such things.”
He tactfully rejected the four people’s request.
“Is that so…” Jiang Baimian was in no rush for the time being. She then asked, “Mr. Carl, what do you know about Helvig’s stolen batch of firearms?”
Carl shook his head. “I’m not sure. I was in the Underground Ark and didn’t know about this until the next day.”
Jiang Baimian tersely acknowledged it. “Then, who do you think is related to his death?”
“Too many.” Carl’s expression became measured. “He’s a greedy, cruel, and evil person. He might even sell weapons to merfolk and mountain monsters, bringing about countless unnecessary casualties. People who hate and despise him are all over Redstone Collection.”
At this point, Carl’s voice turned cold. “Besides, in order to monopolize the arms trade, he even incited the townsfolk to view the Underground Ark with hostility. His death must be a gift to us from the Kalendaria.”
At this point, Jiang Baimian didn’t ask any further. She politely bade farewell and left Redstone Collection with Shang Jianyao and the others.
For the rest of the morning, they drove the jeep and leisurely wandered the city ruins, recording the terrain characteristics of many areas.
When it was almost lunchtime, they returned to Redstone Collection’s entrance.
As the car drove, Jiang Baimian’s gaze suddenly froze while she was seated in the passenger seat. She—who habitually observed the situation outside—saw a familiar fire flash in the middle of a distant building!
“Left!” Jiang Baimian only had time to shout that one word.
Bai Chen tacitly turned the steering wheel to the left.
A round flew out of a rocket launcher and went straight for the jeep.
An attack came suddenly.