Chapter 40: Pursuit
Jiang Baimian was very busy. On the one hand, she had to focus on the road, afraid that she would drive the jeep into a swamp or cause the vehicle to be overturned by rocks, roots, and other obstacles. On the other hand, she had to focus on sensing the various electric signals around her to determine if the mechanical monk, Jingfa, was rushing over or what his current condition was like.
However, this did not stop her from thinking. Her brain seemed to have been optimized due to genetic enhancements.
“That moment…” Jiang Baimian pondered before answering, but her voice was louder than a normal person’s. “I was in a very strange state. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted to do. Uh… It wasn’t that there was a problem with my memories. Back then, I could recall many things that had happened, but I couldn’t obtain information on who I was or what I wanted to do.”
At this point, Jiang Baimian habitually self-reflected. “I thought that Jingfa would be unable to use his Awakened abilities by affecting his body. However, I made a mistake… Is this the difference between a mechanical monk and an ordinary human?”
Bai Chen shook her head. “This has nothing to do with a misjudgment. Back then, you were desperately counterattacking. You had no way of considering so much at the time.”
After Shang Jianyao buttoned up the clasps at his legs, he looked up and said, “Awakened abilities mostly and probably rely on their consciousness and the influence that their bodies exert on them. For example, by injuring an Awakened’s body and causing them intense pain, they will not be able to think or shift their consciousness into what needs focus. In that case, they won’t be able to use their abilities…”
As he spoke, Shang Jianyao suddenly fell silent as if he had realized that this could be used against him. Without waiting for Jiang Baimian and the others to speak, he took a deep breath and continued. “Similarly, if one can knock out an Awakened with one punch, the Awakened will definitely not be able to use their abilities.”
After giving an example, Shang Jianyao thought for a moment and agreed with Jiang Baimian’s previous judgment. “In this regard, mechanical monks are indeed different from ordinary humans.”
Jiang Baimian laughed self-deprecatingly. “Unfortunately, my ‘golden finger’ isn’t too strong. If I could quickly hack into Jingfa’s energy supply system and turn off his power source, he probably wouldn’t be able to use his Awakened abilities either. Actually, that might not work either. Who knows how long an Eternal’s consciousness can remain conscious after freeing itself from the bionic chip’s control.
“Ha, you guys have to be careful too. You can’t be too confident. Without solid evidence, it’s best to have more doubts about your judgment.”
Bai Chen was a little stunned when she heard that. She turned her head to glance at Jiang Baimian. “Team Leader, you seem to be in good shape. You don’t seem depressed at all.”
After all, they were currently being pursued by a terrifying mechanical monk. They should have been tense, repressed, angry, depressed, and uneasy.
“The current situation is much better than when Jingfa captured us. Shouldn’t we be happy and joyful?” Jiang Baimian remained focused on her surroundings. “If it weren’t for Shang Jianyao, I wouldn’t have been able to escape his control. I really would’ve ended up in the hands of that psychopath. My fate would have been tragic—very tragic. Although I’ve never seen the female corpses Jingfa killed, I’ve heard someone describe them…”
When this matter was mentioned, Jiang Baimian—who had always been rather optimistic—couldn’t help but let her expression be clouded by gloominess. She did not start a lecture because she was worried that it would affect Bai Chen, Shang Jianyao, and Long Yuehong’s conditions.
At this moment, Shang Jianyao had already finished wearing the military exoskeleton. His lips quivered a few times before he finally opened them. “Normally speaking, an Awakened only has three abilities.”
Jiang Baimian turned the steering wheel and let the jeep circle a tree that stood in the middle of the road. “Three… Jingfa has one that makes me unsure of who I am… Then there is Hungry Ghost Realm… Anything else?”
Long Yuehong—who was listening quietly—immediately thought of an answer. “Mind-reading! “Jingfa told us that he can mind-read and that he can hear some of a person’s thoughts.”
Jiang Baimian muttered to herself as she drove, “We’ve figured out all three abilities… Perhaps we can consider it from this angle and find an ingenious method to deal with Jingfa. Ah yes, there should be a limit to an Awakened’s abilities…”
She had been musing to herself very loudly, so everyone could hear her clearly.
Shang Jianyao thoughtfully replied, “Jingfa was within a meter of us when he used his mind-reading and cognitive dissonance abilities. It’s impossible to determine what his maximum range is.”
Jiang Baimian thought for a moment before smiling. “However, it’s not like we can’t make a preliminary judgment. When he pounced at us from a tree in the distance, he chose to use Hungry Ghost Realm.
“This choice itself implies some problems. Either the range of the ability to make a person suffer cognitive dissonance is far inferior to the Hungry Ghost Realm, or it can only be used against one person. In contrast, the Hungry Ghost Realm can affect everyone in a specific area.”
Bai Chen recalled her experience and said, “I have an impression of that. When I discovered the hungry ghosts around me, it was shortly after Jingfa pounced at us from the tree. He was about 20 meters away from us, or perhaps a little more.”
She clearly knew more about the teachings, stories, and legends of the Monk Conclave than Jiang Baimian.
“Yes, you need to remember that the Hungry Ghost Realm’s effective range is at least 20 meters.” Jiang Baimian raised her voice slightly.
Shang Jianyao fell silent for a moment before saying, “He’s better than me.”
“I don’t know how many times older he is than you. He probably has also been an Awakened for years,” Jiang Baimian consoled him.
Jiang Baimian had no way of knowing when Jingfa had become an Awakened. She could only determine that Jingfa had transferred his consciousness into a bionic robot chip, becoming an Eternal, after he had become an Awakened. Jingfa became rather active as a mechanical monk in the late Chaotic Era, before the establishment of the New Calendar.
At this moment, Long Yuehong seemed to accept the truth. His good friend—Shang Jianyao, who he had grown up with—was actually an Awakened with strange and terrifying abilities! He felt that he would never forget the scene he had just seen in his life.
Jingfa—who was originally filled with killing intent and had a firm will—suddenly became extremely friendly after hearing Shang Jianyao’s two sentences. He even shook Shang Jianyao’s hand and bade him farewell reluctantly.
This overturned everything Long Yuehong knew.
He looked at Shang Jianyao and couldn’t help but ask, “W-when did you become an Awakened?”
Shang Jianyao fell silent for a moment before saying, “Not long ago.”
Long Yuehong wanted to ask something else, but he suddenly felt that it wasn’t a good idea. It was like poking into someone else’s secrets.
In the jeep, nobody spoke for a moment.
Jiang Baimian broke the silence. She looked ahead and smiled. “Do you need us to keep this a secret?”
“Thank you.” Shang Jianyao slowly exhaled.
Bai Chen and Long Yuehong expressed that they would definitely keep it a secret.
Shang Jianyao was just about to say something when he saw Jiang Baimian’s expression suddenly changing slightly. At the same time, Jiang Baimian abruptly turned the steering wheel and made the jeep take a large turn.
Bai Chen, Shang Jianyao, and Long Yuehong couldn’t help but lean to the right in the car, even though they were all wearing seatbelts.
A grenade flew past and landed where they were supposed to pass.
Blazing flames bloomed as a violent shockwave made the ground tremble.
After the jeep turned a corner, Jiang Baimian floored the accelerator, making the vehicle shoot forward like an arrow.
A red laser drilled into and melted the ground with a sizzling sound, forming a bottomless hole.
“Eleven o’clock.” Bai Chen seized the opportunity to inform Jiang Baimian which direction she couldn’t go in using the hands of a clock. Otherwise, the car would sink into the swamp slowly.
Jiang Baimian was very familiar with such lingo. Without needing to do any conversions, she turned the steering wheel. Then, she shouted, “Shang Jianyao!”
Shang Jianyao took an indiscernible breath and suddenly opened the dashing jeep’s door. His body tilted and rolled down.
With the jeep’s current speed, it was inevitable that he would be injured if he did this under normal circumstances. However, he was currently wearing a military-grade exoskeleton.
With a push of his arm, Shang Jianyao easily jumped up and ran towards the source of the grenade and the laser in a zig-zag fashion. He did not bring an assault rifle or a submachine gun because they were useless against the mechanical monk. He could only rely on the grenade launcher and electromagnetic weapon that came with the exoskeleton.
Thud! Thud! Thud!
As he ran without regard for energy, Shang Jianyao saw the iron-black robot wearing a tattered monk robe and a red kasaya through the crystal goggles on his metal helmet.
However, Jingfa turned around and ran the next second. He circled Shang Jianyao and gradually increased the distance between them using the exoskeleton’s lack of reaction speed and fluidity that was inferior to a robot’s.
After a short pursuit, Shang Jianyao lost track of the mechanical monk. The exoskeleton’s comprehensive warning system did not detect anything either. It was clear that the other party had an anti-warning capability.
Unable to continue chasing, Shang Jianyao had no choice but to return the way he came. He relied on the traces of the jeep’s wheels to find Jiang Baimian and the others. Then, without letting the jeep stop, he opened the door and got in.
On the way back, Shang Jianyao deliberately destroyed the wheel tracks and forged traces in other directions, hoping to interfere with Jingfa’s judgment.
“He’s hiding from me.” Shang Jianyao briefly explained the situation after closing the door.
“He’s afraid of you? Does your ability counter him?” Long Yuehong subconsciously voiced his thoughts.
“No, the range of his abilities is greater.” Shang Jianyao didn’t avoid the question.
Jiang Baimian frowned slightly and was about to speak when she suddenly turned the steering wheel.
Jingfa’s long-range attack came again!
However, Jingfa took the initiative to retreat and widen the distance when Shang Jianyao—who was wearing a military exoskeleton—alighted and ran over, not giving Shang Jianyao a chance to fight.
Once, twice, thrice… Similar situations happened at different intervals.
“What is he trying to do?” Long Yuehong also realized the problem.
Jiang Baimian curled her lips and said, “Maybe he brought along quite a number of high-performance batteries. Maybe he feels that there’s a chance of exhausting our exoskeleton’s energy. He sure is patient…”
Long Yuehong reflexively said, “However, he can’t carry that many grenades.”
Bai Chen looked at the rearview mirror and said, “He has only been using his laser weapon the past few times.”
Long Yuehong was a little worried. “Then what should we do?”