Chapter 42: “Liar”
It was not that Shang Jianyao and the others had never thought of Jingfa responding in such a manner. However, they believed it impossible for Jingfa to determine their intentions immediately. They believed that Jingfa would need to complete a few more rounds of hide and seek before he would realize what was happening.
To their surprise, the mechanical monk—Jingfa—had immediately grasped their core intention. It was as if his mind-reading ability had no limits.
Shang Jianyao did not ask Bai Chen what to do and handled it according to the worst situation he had expected:
By expelling Jingfa from the inner circle around the tire tracks to the outer circle, Shang Jianyao hoped to hold out a little longer so that the jeep could enter the commonly traversed area in the Blackmarsh Wilderness.
The inner circle’s diameter and size were definitely smaller than those of the external circle; thus, it could effectively reduce the exoskeleton’s lacking reaction speed and fluidity when facing a real ‘intelligent’ robot.
Just like that, a human covered in an iron-black metal skeleton and a mechanical monk—which had an iron-black metal skeleton to begin with—ran crazily in the wilderness, the forest, and the swamp’s edge. They jumped and ran in this pursuit without considering their energy expenditure.
During this process, Shang Jianyao tried to fire the grenade launcher and electromagnetic weapon several times. However, Jingfa changed directions in time and distanced himself from them. Jingfa had no intention of engaging in an all-out battle.
Shang Jianyao—who was driving the exoskeleton at maximum capacity—watched the electric charge decrease bit by bit. He watched as the distance between him and the jeep’s estimated location shrank bit by bit. Although he was anxious, he couldn’t do anything about it.
If Jingfa had chosen to close the distance and engage in a fierce battle with him, Shang Jianyao could have acted on the spur of the moment and risked his life. However, the current developments made him feel like he had contracted a chronic terminal disease that medicine was useless against. He felt like he was walking toward death one step at a time.
“Don’t be impatient.” Bai Chen couldn’t do anything while Shang Jianyao was running and jumping at high speeds, but she acutely sensed Shang Jianyao’s change in condition.
Jiang Baimian did not give her the grenade launcher, nor did Bai Chen mind. From her point of view, Jiang Baimian was guarding against the mechanical monk, Jingfa, in case he circled the exoskeleton and headed straight for the jeep. Furthermore, Bai Chen’s current role was to lead the way, not to fight.
Shang Jianyao did not respond, but he clearly reduced the number of times he left the inner circle. He also didn’t feel as anxious any longer.
At the same time, the jeep’s tire tracks continuously changed direction in the area. It was obvious that the jeep had made many sharp turns. This made it difficult for Jingfa to rely on his judgment of the tracks to lock onto the vehicle’s driving direction. He had no choice but to approach the inner circle to search for the car’s final traces.
This gave Shang Jianyao an opportunity. He raised his left arm and fired a grenade in a certain direction according to the precision aiming system.
Jingfa—who had just finished changing directions—looked like he had no way of dodging the attack.
The red light in Jingfa’s eyes lit up. The metal joints—such as his ankles and knees—bent in an inhuman way. Jingfa forcefully changed directions and leaped into the air.
The grenade exploded like red, blooming fireworks. However, its burgeoning shockwave was slightly slower than Jingfa; hence, it failed to engulf the mechanical monk.
Just as Shang Jianyao felt vexed that he had not seized the opportunity, a grenade shot out from a nearby tree!
It was aimed at Jingfa—who was in midair—and had expended all his momentum.
Jingfa’s blinking red eyes subconsciously looked over and saw the ponytailed Jiang Baimian holding a grenade launcher, decked out in a gray camouflage uniform.
The Old Task Force’s team leader did not leave with the jeep but hid on a tree!
Upon seeing that it was impossible for him to dodge the grenade, the metal lids on Jingfa’s back and feet opened, revealing deep, pitch-black, fist-sized holes.
With a sizzling sound, white gas spewed out of the holes, pushing Jingfa through the air horizontally.
The highly explosive grenade exploded not far away from the mechanical monk. The surging shockwaves tilted Jingfa’s body, making it difficult for him to maintain his balance.
Although Shang Jianyao didn’t understand why his team leader would bizarrely appear here, he didn’t squander this opportunity. He had already raised his right arm and, using the precision aiming system, aimed the exoskeleton’s electromagnetic weapon at Jingfa—who had lost his balance in midair and was temporarily unable to produce any more thrusting gases.
Just as Shang Jianyao was about to pull the trigger, he and Bai Chen suddenly saw illusory figures that were holding up their stomachs and crazily devouring the soil. This made them believe that they were starving.
Hungry Ghost Realm!
Through his jump and horizontal movement, Jingfa had reduced the distance between him and the exoskeleton to about 20 meters!
Bai Chen anxiously reached into her pocket and took out a compressed biscuit and an energy bar. This resulted in her losing her balance and tumbling to the ground from the exoskeleton’s powerpack. However, this did not stop her from crazily tearing open the packaging and stuffing the food into her mouth.
But Shang Jianyao did not do the same. In his chin area—which wasn’t covered by the metal helmet—Shang Jianyao revealed the scene inside when he opened his mouth.
A compressed biscuit had swelled up from soaking in his saliva and filled most of his mouth.
Shang Jianyao constantly chewed and swallowed the biscuit to calm his self-imagined hunger. This prevented him from retracting his hands to search for food!
Before leaving the jeep, he used the excuse of eating to stuff a small piece of compressed biscuit into his mouth. However, he did not swallow it because he wanted to buy a second or two under the Hungry Ghost Realm’s influence!
Taking advantage of this fleeting opportunity, Shang Jianyao crazily swallowed the biscuit in his mouth and revealed a twisted smile as he pulled the trigger.
Amidst sizzling electric currents, a bullet—wrapped in a silver-white electric arc—crossed over 20 meters at an indescribable speed and accurately struck the iron-black metal in front of Jingfa’s chest.
Almost at the same time, a clear fist-sized depression appeared in front of Jingfa’s body.
In the depression, the iron-black metal cracked and fell off, revealing the hidden wires and components.
Cracks spread out like radiation around the depression, akin to a spider web.
With such a wound, the electromagnetic weapon’s kinetic force sent Jingfa flying away like a kite.
At this moment, Jiang Baimian—who was on the tree—had already lowered the grenade launcher. She pulled her left arm back and threw out a metal rod wrapped in countless silver-white electric currents.
The lightning dragon-like metal rod stabbed into the depression in front of Jingfa’s body, bringing the mechanical monk down from midair and ‘impaling’ him into the ground.
With a thud, electric arcs bloomed in Jingfa’s body like countless blooming flower petals as they traced the components and wires in the depression.
The monk’s mechanical body stiffened, and his eyes lost their red glow as if he had turned to stone.
The Hungry Ghost Realm’s effects—which enveloped the surroundings—vanished.
Upon seeing this, Shang Jianyao quickly changed directions and pointed his electromagnetic weapon at Jingfa’s head.
Before he could aim, the red glow in Jingfa’s eyes lit up again. Jingfa’s entire metallic skeleton suddenly jerked, jumping into the distance with the metal rod and the sizzling silver-white electric current.
The mechanical monk then changed directions repeatedly and ran off without even turning back.
At this moment, Jiang Baimian picked up the grenade launcher again. She couldn’t hide her disappointment and loudly said, “He really has an emergency backup system and a redundant body structure!”
Shang Jianyao wanted to respond to his team leader, but his throat and mouth were filled with the ‘remains’ of the compressed biscuits. He choked until his eyes almost rolled back, and he couldn’t speak.
On the other hand, Bai Chen didn’t swallow the entire energy bar in one mouthful. After swallowing the rest of the energy bar in her mouth, she asked loudly, “Should we give chase?”
She was asking on behalf of Shang Jianyao.
Jiang Baimian looked in the direction of Jingfa’s disappearing figure and shook her head. “It’s too late. Besides, he’s only focused on escaping this time. This will make him much faster than the exoskeleton.”
With that said, she gently jumped down from the tree and walked towards Bai Chen and Shang Jianyao. She then consoled them. “However, it doesn’t matter. He has already been seriously injured by us. The emergency backup system and the redundant, segregated body structure must only have basic functions. Otherwise, it won’t fit.
“To put it simply, it’s impossible for Jingfa to continue chasing after us until he repairs himself. He probably can’t use his weapon systems or the listening system anymore.”
Bai Chen heaved a sigh of relief. “We have plenty of time to escape his pursuit then.”
Just as she said that, Shang Jianyao finished swallowing the compressed biscuits in his mouth and blurted out a question. “Team Leader, why are you here. Aren’t we meeting at Yuelu Station? Where’s the jeep?”
Jiang Baimian smiled when she heard that. “The previous plan was a lie.”
Her eyes curled from her smile. “How can I deceive Jingfa if I don’t deceive all of you?”
“…” Shang Jianyao and Bai Chen were momentarily stunned.
Jiang Baimian held the grenade launcher and looked around. “From the fact that Jingfa could ‘sense’ the female voice from the door to the steelworks factory’s blast furnace, I suspected that his listening system was stronger than we imagined. This point was later reflected to a certain extent in several areas, strengthening my suspicions.
“For example, why did he dare to go around in circles, appearing to engage in a battle of attrition? What if we had more than one spare battery?
“For example, why did he choose the passenger seat when he first attacked us? Why didn’t he choose the more important driver’s seat? He doesn’t know us, so how did he know that I’m the team leader—the one who poses the most threat? Bai Chen and I had already discussed in advance what to do when Jingfa attacked the driver’s seat. The moment I raised the grenade launcher, she would lower her body and allow the grenade to pass through the driver’s seat, fly out the window, and shoot at the target. However, this plan wasn’t used in the end.
“With this suspicion, I deliberately led you into a discussion and formulated a plan to meet at Yuelu Station to see if Jingfa would fall for it. In fact, sooner or later, he would’ve discovered that your goal is to stall for time through your performance so that the jeep will have time to escape his pursuit even if he didn’t ‘hear’ our discussion or fall for it.
“Therefore, after making a few consecutive turns here, I quickly parked the car and hid in a tree not far away. I also got Long Yuehong to continue driving forward and instructed him to stop ten minutes later to wait for us.”