Chapter 67: City at Night
After picking up the rest of the food, the five of them left Unit 605 and went down the stairs to the first floor.
“Shall we drive over?” Jiang Baimian looked at the jeep parked to the side.
The Blackmarsh Iron Snake’s outer skin, tied to the car’s roof, was so eye-catching that nobody noticed the solar panels.
Qiao Chu shook his head. “It’s too loud.”
Jiang Baimian wanted to say that this was an electric vehicle. As long as she switched off the simulated sounds, it would be virtually silent.
Unexpectedly, Qiao Chu—who was wearing the exoskeleton—suddenly started jogging and said, “Follow me!”
Jiang Baimian didn’t say anything else. She jogged towards the exit with Shang Jianyao, Long Yuehong, and Bai Chen holding their weapons.
There were more clouds in the sky at this moment, and only a few stars were visible. The moon occasionally showed itself, scattering its faint glow.
Darkness was the city ruins’ main theme.
In the extremely quiet environment, Shang Jianyao and the others didn’t turn on their flashlights. They jogged down the main road and entered the opposite street.
During this process, they kept having the feeling that they were about to be swallowed by the night’s darkness. The abandoned vehicles and trees by the road were shadowy, as if they were monsters hiding in the dark.
In the face of such a scene, the Old Task Force naturally dispersed into formation according to their usual training and maintained a certain distance.
Among them, Jiang Baimian followed closely behind Qiao Chu. Long Yuehong was on the right, Bai Chen was on the left, and Shang Jianyao took the rear.
They maintained a certain speed the entire way, ensuring that they didn’t ignore their surroundings and kept up their vigilance despite the running.
As he ran, Shang Jianyao suddenly changed directions and diagonally rushed into an open room by the left side of the street.
Jiang Baimian and the others reacted in response. They rolled to the ground, and each found an abandoned vehicle to provide cover and concealment.
Qiao Chu also stopped and turned to look at Shang Jianyao. The exoskeleton’s comprehensive warning system told him that there was nothing abnormal around him. However, he still raised his silver rifle—which had a rather special design—in the event of any accidents.
He then used the comprehensive warning system to observe Shang Jianyao’s destination.
Although it was a very dim night, Qiao Chu could easily see the situation on the street’s left side from a distance with the help of equipment.
Like the other streets, the outlets were situated side by side. The ones facing outside were almost all open. The rooms inside were in terrible states or abnormally old. The only thing they had in common was that there were no signs of life.
Some of their signboards had fallen to the ground and shattered to pieces. Some were mottled and faded. Some words were blurry, and some words were missing. Only a portion remained. Some hung down diagonally, just short of falling.
The room Shang Jianyao had rushed into still had the signboard hanging above. It was blue with a single word left: “…Maintenance…”
At this moment, Shang Jianyao had already taken out his flashlight and shone it around the narrow room.
He quickly opened all kinds of lockers and found some small pieces of equipment and tools. He also stuffed them into his camouflage backpack, along with the various components and wires—which were either packaged or unpackaged.
After putting on his backpack and latching on the flashlight, Shang Jianyao jogged back to the street with the Berserker assault rifle.
Upon seeing this, Qiao Chu—who was wearing a helmet—ran over with large strides. With his experience, nobody would take the initiative to act on their own unless he showed signs of attacking. They would definitely do as he instructed. Even if they were confused or puzzled, they would ask and provide suggestions at most.
On this point, Jiang Baimian, Long Yuehong, and Bai Chen acted sufficiently ‘normal.’
When he arrived in front of Shang Jianyao, Qiao Chu asked in a deep voice, “Why did you leave the team without permission?”
Shang Jianyao frankly replied, “A brain spasm.”
“…” Qiao Chu narrowed his eyes. Shang Jianyao’s figure instantly appeared in the goggles in a relatively abstract manner as the shape of crosshairs took form.
This was the precision aiming system that naturally activated when Qiao Chu raised the silver rifle.
After a few seconds of silence, Qiao Chu slowly exhaled and lowered the muzzle. “Continue to the destination.”
Although his voice was not loud, Jiang Baimian and the others had been paying attention to the situation here. They quickly left their hiding spots and got back into formation.
The five of them followed their previous formation and posture and ran towards the three-way junction at the end of the street.
The night wind was a little cold in the city ruins. It made Long Yuehong feel like he had returned to Pangu Biology—the period after lights-out.
When Long Yuehong was about to turn left on the road, he couldn’t help but look up at the sky. Ever since he came to the surface, his first wish was to see the real sky. His second wish was to see the sun that illuminated everything. His third wish was to see the starry sky depicted in the textbooks.
He had already fulfilled his first and second wishes. Only his third wish remained unfulfilled.
The weather had recently been abnormal for a long time. There were often many clouds at night, and he could only occasionally see a few stars and a portion of the moon. However, this couldn’t be considered a starry sky.
I wonder when I’ll be able to see the stars… Just as Long Yuehong retracted his gaze, he saw Qiao Chu and Jiang Baimian raise their hands simultaneously, aim at a spot, and pull the trigger.
The only difference was that Jiang Baimian drew the United 202 instead of using the grenade launcher.
Two slightly different gunshots sounded in succession.
With a flash of silver-white lightning, a figure in tattered clothes—with some exposed parts—fell from a tree in the middle of the right street and smashed into the top of an abandoned car.
His blood quickly pooled.
The crude shotgun in his hand flew out and landed on the road.
“A Heartless.” Jiang Baimian held the grenade launcher firmly with her left arm. Her night vision was clearly better than an ordinary person’s.
Bai Chen subconsciously asked, “Shall we pick up the gun?”
Jiang Baimian shook her head. “There’s no need for the gun. It’s obvious that a wilderness nomad settlement made the gun. There’s no need for it.”
The Old World had been destroyed for many years, and many guns were useless. Many bullets of certain calibers had been expended. The large factions with certain production capabilities started with replicating the Old World’s weapons to maximize the supplies’ use. But in recent decades, the large factions gradually made internal standardizations. Although these weapons definitely used past weapons as references, the variety had been reduced.
This way, the firearms obtained by many Ruin Hunters and wilderness nomads were broken and couldn’t be repaired, or they would slowly be unable to find suitable rounds. They had to expand their searches of ruins or buy firearms smuggled out from large factions while attempting to create their own weapons and rounds.
Among the latter, a shotgun was undoubtedly a good choice. The required equipment was relatively simple, and many wilderness nomad settlements had them.
For such a shotgun to land in the Heartless’s hands meant that a Ruin Hunter or wilderness nomad had very likely been killed.
“Do we do a body search?” asked Bai Chen.
“There’s no need,” replied Qiao Chu—who had just used the exoskeleton’s electromagnetic weapon—as he turned around.
Bai Chen didn’t insist any longer, and the five of them continued jogging toward their designated destination.
After turning into another street, Qiao Chu suddenly slowed down.
Jiang Baimian also raised her hand and pressed it down, indicating for Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong to stop.
Under the slightly brighter moonlight, Shang Jianyao saw a gray, abandoned black car in front of him.
Beside the sedan car sat a person.
This person had a square face and wore a so-called formal suit of the Old World. His upper body was leaning against the car door, and his eyes were tightly shut. It was unknown if he was dead or alive.
“Wu Shoushi…” Jiang Baimian recognized the man. He was the Ruin Hunter they had previously encountered in the wilderness.
The other party and his companion told the Old Task Force about the newly-discovered city ruin north of Yuelu Station.
Wu Shoushi was alone at this moment, and his fate was unknown.
“There are still signs of life.” Jiang Baimian made a judgment based on the electric signal she sensed.
Qiao Chu observed for a while before saying, “He’s sleeping.”
Jiang Baimian’s pupils slightly dilated when she heard the word ‘sleep.’ She quickly raised her right hand, about to fire at Wu Shoushi. However, she was aiming at the car’s glass, not at the person.
At this moment, Shang Jianyao had already taken the initiative to fire at the car behind Wu Shoushi.
With a click, a window’s glass pane shattered.
Wu Shoushi’s eyes flickered as if he were about to wake up. However, his expression suddenly contorted. His entire body convulsed twice before he completely stopped moving.
“He’s dead?” Long Yuehong asked in surprise.
“In theory, there’s still a chance of being resuscitated…” Jiang Baimian said, but she had no intention of going forward. At the same time, she observed her surroundings as she moved towards an abandoned car.
Bai Chen was the same and gave a reminder. “That terrifying Nightmare Horse might have already returned.”
Long Yuehong jumped in fright and tried his best to widen his eyes to prevent himself from falling asleep.
Qiao Chu didn’t say anything. He used the comprehensive warning system to focus on finding the possible ‘enemy’ around him.
Shang Jianyao looked at Wu Shoushi—who was in front of him—and suddenly said, “Would you guys sleep on the streets? Although I will…”
“That Nightmare Horse can force people to sleep?” Jiang Baimian instantly understood Shang Jianyao’s meaning. “However, it didn’t show this characteristic when we previously encountered it.”
After she and Shang Jianyao woke up from their real nightmares, they didn’t inexplicably fall asleep again.
“Either it can only make one person sleep at a time and will choose to give up when facing more targets, or…” Shang Jianyao looked up at Qiao Chu, who was wearing the exoskeleton.
Qiao Chu had survived after facing the Nightmare Horse alone.
Shang Jianyao paused and said, “Or there are other monsters here—monsters that can force people to sleep.”
Long Yuehong felt a chill run down his spine when he heard that. He felt like something was hiding in the darkness around him.
“I’ll go over and see if he can still be saved. Pay attention to my situation.” Shang Jianyao then walked toward Wu Shoushi in an open and aboveboard manner as bait.
He had just taken two steps when a desolate, hoarse howl suddenly sounded from the city ruins.
This howl echoed through the clouds, making people tremble.