Chapter 71: Reminder
As the man in the plush hat with holes spoke, he suddenly couldn’t control his voice. “Could he be a mutated creature?”
The memories of his previous encounters were still fresh in his mind, leaving him filled with horror. He couldn’t help but think of those matters the moment he discovered the corresponding signs.
An Ruxiang didn’t hesitate to deny her companion’s guess. “He clearly has sufficient intelligence. He’s definitely not a Heartless. Furthermore, he looks human.”
“What if he’s a monster and only makes us feel like he’s human? Think about it. The Superior Heartless from before didn’t take out anything, but she made us believe that she had an abnormally precious item we needed,” retorted the man in the plush hat quickly.
An Ruxiang had no answer. After some serious thought, she said, “That’s indeed a possibility. However, there’s another possibility: He’s an Awakened. One of his abilities is the ability to bewitch and charm others.”
The man in the plush hat thought for a moment. “Now that you mention it, I think it’s really possible. Heh heh, in my heart, Awakened are about the same as mutated creatures to me. No, they are more terrifying and bizarre than most mutated creatures. I should say that they are about the same as what we encountered this time.”
Most mutated creatures were similar to the Blackmarsh Iron Snake or Blackrat Town’s residents. Some parts of their bodies had changed, providing them with certain, completely understandable enhancements.
An Ruxiang couldn’t help but recall her encounter when she heard her companion’s words. Several hours had passed, but she still couldn’t get over it, even with her experience and willpower. It was like a real nightmare that she couldn’t wake up from.
An Ruxiang took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. She looked back at the street she had come from. “Could they have been bewitched as well? I remember the first time we met them in the wilderness. There were only four of them. The man that’s suspected to be an Awakened wasn’t with them.
“Should we remind them?”
The man in the tattered plush hat immediately shook his head and said, “It’s too dangerous!”
An Ruxiang thought for a few seconds before saying, “They told us about Shoushi and returned the most important items to us. They also placed Shoushi’s corpse in a sealed room to prevent the Heartless from quickly discovering him and eating… This is a huge favor to me; it’s something worth a lot to me.”
“Didn’t you share the information with them as well?” The man in the plush hat tried his best to stop her. “Think about it. That person is wearing a military exoskeleton. Even if he isn’t an Awakened, he can easily finish us off!”
An Ruxiang nodded. “Don’t worry; I won’t take the risk. I still have to bring back Shoushi’s corpse. It hasn’t been that long. They aren’t too far from us, so I plan on staying here to shout a few words. As for whether they can hear us or understand their situation after hearing us, it’s not something I can control.”
“Shout from here?” The man in the plush hat looked around. “Alright, I’ll help you with the shouting. We’ll immediately leave after shouting.”
An Ruxiang turned around, holstered the black pistol, cupped her hands around her mouth in the shape of a trumpet, and brought them to her mouth.
The next second, her sharp and loud voice sounded. “He has a bewitching charm! Be careful not to be controlled by him!”
Long Yuehong held the Berserker assault rifle and jogged to the team’s left flank while guarding the corresponding area.
After hearing An Ruxiang’s recount and Bai Chen’s discussion, he became even more afraid of the expedition. Be it forcefully making one fall asleep, real nightmares, or indefensible traps, they exceeded his limits of acceptability. He instinctively felt that this was not something he could handle.
If not for the fact that he had seen Shang Jianyao’s Inference Clowning and Jingfa’s Hungry Ghost Realm, Long Yuehong felt that he might have already broken down.
Uncontrollable fear kept growing in Long Yuehong’s heart, making him observe this operation involuntarily.
Why are we taking such a big risk… Didn’t Team Leader say that she wouldn’t bring us to places that are too dangerous until we are truly accustomed to the Ashlands and have accumulated enough experience…? It’s indeed necessary to help Qiao Chu as long as he gains a better impression of me… B-but is it worth it? I’m not married yet…
As they jogged, Long Yuehong looked at the figure in the lead wearing an exoskeleton. He had an intense struggle deep down.
As he stared, he suddenly felt sad. I’m only 1.75 meters tall after genetic enhancement. My looks are average, and my grades are only average. I was also assigned to the Security Department’s most dangerous team. I’m called the unlucky one. How can I catch Qiao Chu’s eye? Forget it. It’s better to give up on my own accord…
Give up… Long Yuehong’s eyes gradually glazed over as if he had grasped something amiss but couldn’t put it into words.
At this moment, intermittent voices came from the wind.
“Bewitching charm … Be careful … controlled…” This voice was very sharp, but it was very unclear due to the distance.
Jiang Baimian slowed down and tilted her head slightly. “What are they shouting?”
“I only heard ‘be careful,’” Shang Jianyao replied in all seriousness. “It seems like someone is offering us a beautiful blessing.”
The next second, another voice sounded in the wind. “Bewitching charm … Be careful … controlled…”
This time, it was a loud male voice.
“Control…” Bai Chen tried her best to identify it.
At the front of the team, Qiao Chu’s expression changed slightly. He then said in a deep voice, “We can’t waste any more time. Let’s go.”
“Alright.” Jiang Baimian couldn’t refuse the suggestion.
The five of them jogged again.
Long Yuehong was on the left side of the team. The voice he had just heard kept circling in his mind.
Be careful… control…
Be careful of control?
Be careful of control…
Long Yuehong was shocked and vaguely sensed that the situation was a little off. He subconsciously turned his head and looked at Shang Jianyao—the person he had the best relationship with in the team.
As he jogged, he saw Shang Jianyao’s mouth widen as he wore that dazzling smile again.
What does he mean…? Long Yuehong tried to understand Shang Jianyao’s thoughts but failed. He then recalled everything that had happened along the way, attempting to find clues related to the problem.
Two to three minutes later, the group of five circled around a building and saw their destination—which had sunk into the darkness.
Their destination was a 100-meter-tall building with a large courtyard. It was extremely quiet inside.
As the group was still 200 to 300 meters away, Shang Jianyao and the others couldn’t clearly see what was written on the signboard horizontally placed above the courtyard’s entrance.
At this moment, Qiao Chu, who was in front, suddenly stopped. He then leaned back and fell to the ground amidst a metallic clang.
Jiang Baimian and the others watched this scene in surprise. They subconsciously moved closer to confirm the problem.
The exoskeleton made a beeping sound almost at the same time, and all the auxiliary joints shook.
Qiao Chu’s body moved as he slowly crawled up.
At this moment, Jiang Baimian seemed to sense something. She held the grenade launcher and pulled the trigger while aiming at a tree to the side.
A fireball rapidly expanded, illuminating the ignited tree’s crown and a figure that had jumped into a building by the street.
This figure was of a feline creature, about a meter long. Its body didn’t seem to have any fur or skin, and its blood-red ‘muscles’ were directly exposed. Its tail seemed to resemble a scorpion’s. The feline creature was covered in a hard, brown carapace with barbs growing out of it. On its shoulder were clumps of white bone spurs that looked like decorations. It seemed to have four ears on its head.
No matter how one looked at it, it was not a normal creature.
The monster jumped into a room on the second floor and barely dodged the grenade’s explosion. Then, it quickly ran, escaping Jiang Baimian’s perception range before disappearing into the depths of the buildings by the street.
At this moment, Qiao Chu had already returned to normal and stood up again. He looked in the direction where the monster had vanished and said in a deep voice, “I fell asleep just now. Fortunately, this exoskeleton has a good wake-up function.”
“Is that the monster that forces people to sleep?” Bai Chen immediately reacted.
“It looks like a mutated creature.” Jiang Baimian made a judgment.
Qiao Chu didn’t attempt to chase after the feline monster. He pointed at their destination and said, “Let’s go over.”
Shang Jianyao was the first to make his stand. He ran towards the tall building that came with a courtyard.
Jiang Baimian and the others quickly followed.
As they ran, Shang Jianyao suddenly asked, “Shall we give it a name?”
“Who?” Jiang Baimian was a little confused.
“That monster from before,” Shang Jianyao said seriously. “Shall we call it Ghost Cat?”
“It sounds terrible.” Jiang Baimian subconsciously rejected the suggested name. “Let’s call it Slumber Cat!”
As they spoke, they reached their destination and arrived in front of the courtyard’s entrance.
With the faint starlight and moonlight’s help, the group clearly saw the black signboard placed on the ground.
The signboard was made of stone and didn’t look too dirty. It looked like it had often been washed by the rain or ‘maintained’ by someone.
The golden words on its surface hadn’t fallen off. They were all in the Ashlands language.
These words formed a term Long Yuehong had never heard of: “City Intelligence Network Control Center.”
“What is this place?” Long Yuehong blurted out a question.
Jiang Baimian explained slightly, “Water pipes, natural gas pipes, electric wires, and fiber optics are combined together to form a large intelligence network in certain cities. The one controlling this network is the city intelligence network center.”
“Then… why are we here?” Long Yuehong became increasingly confused.
At this moment, Qiao Chu—who was wearing the exoskeleton—said coldly, “There’s a hydropower station still operating in this city ruin, and it’s also being maintained. Many of the lines in the city ruin have been ‘maintained’ well.
“What we need to do is enter the control center and reconnect the power.”
Jiang Baimian subconsciously asked, “Why are we reconnecting the power?”
Qiao Chu fell silent for two seconds before saying, “To open all the doors to a laboratory.”