Chapter 78: The Source of the Illusion
Upon hearing Shang Jianyao’s description, Long Yuehong felt a chill run down his spine. His fear also intensified, and he couldn’t help but interrupt Shang Jianyao. “Stop, stop! Can you not be so terrifying?”
“Helping you deepen your memories,” Shang Jianyao explained seriously. “You’ll be able to react immediately when you encounter them later.”
“D-don’t say that. It’s better not to encounter that!” Long Yuehong was terrified of Shang Jianyao’s stupid mouth because he believed himself to be the unlucky one and that whatever his good friend said would come true.
Shang Jianyao tersely acknowledged Long Yuehong’s comment before turning to look at Jiang Baimian in front of him. He then nodded sincerely. “Thank you.”
While he was describing the situation, Jiang Baimian took the initiative to flash the flashlight backward, producing a very good effect.
Among the four of them, only Jiang Baimian held a flashlight. As the others had to carry their weapons to allow for immediate firing, they only switched on the flashlight hanging from their belts. They let the flashlights vertically shine at the ground, illuminating a small area around them.
Jiang Baimian smiled and turned the flashlight forward. “What you just said is similar to my guesses. Since the illusion we saw didn’t originate from us, it must have come from the Superior Heartless who created the illusion. With her intelligence—which is only slightly higher than that of a beast—it’s impossible for her to process and handle overly complicated information.
“Therefore, we can make a preliminary judgment that everything we saw was something she had encountered in the past. However, there might be a certain degree of simple displacement and restructuring. That’s interesting.”
After hearing her team leader’s words, Bai Chen thoughtfully said, “That terrifying aura—which makes one unable to stand stably—really seems to exist… I wonder where the Superior Heartless encountered it… and what the aura’s owner looks like…”
At this point, she and Jiang Baimian said in unison, “That mysterious laboratory! The one who let out that loud roar!”
Clap! Clap! Clap!
Shang Jianyao slapped the Berserker assault rifle’s side as if he were giving a round of applause.
“Thank you,” Jiang Baimian replied, peeved. She then sensed the electric signals around her and observed the area illuminated by the flashlight. She organized her words and said, “Maybe the Superior Heartless approached the laboratory once and even entered via some tunnels that normal people wouldn’t discover. She then sensed that extremely terrifying aura…”
“What about the pool of squirming flesh?” asked Long Yuehong subconsciously.
Bai Chen thought for a moment before answering, “It might be a failed specimen in the laboratory. However, the Old World has been destroyed for almost 70 years. It’s impossible for a failed specimen to survive until now.”
“Maybe the Superior Heartless saw flesh and blood that had been blown to smithereens before and often used squirming worms as food. Therefore, she combined the two together when creating her illusions.” Jiang Baimian tried to understand the scene’s nature. “The wrinkled old woman and the baby skeleton in swaddling clothes should actually exist. However, I’m not sure if the former is still wandering somewhere in the city ruin.
“In short, the old woman had an even stranger ability, or her encounter triggered some of the Superior Heartless’s instincts, leaving a deep impression on her. The Superior Heartless naturally uses what she has seen and heard in the illusions she creates.”
Bai Chen immediately guessed, “That old woman might also be a Superior Heartless, but the child she gave birth to was stillborn? She kept hugging the child’s skeleton in her arms and refused to accept the child’s fate? This will definitely trigger something in other Superior Heartless with reproductive and maternal instincts.”
“But the problem is that Superior Heartless shouldn’t have the ability to speak. Why can they say things like ‘you guys disturbed Xiaochong?’ Could this be a special trait of Superior Heartless? She also doesn’t look like she can give birth at her age. Unless…” Jiang Baimian pondered as she spoke and gradually found an answer.
At this moment, Shang Jianyao beat her to it as he said with a smile, “Who hasn’t been young before? Maybe the old woman was only in her twenties when the Old World was destroyed? She became a Heartless back then, and her child died on the spot.
“This was also a huge blow to the Heartless with reproductive and maternal instincts. It resulted in her firmly remembering what she said when her child died. After that, she carried the child and repeatedly whispered, ‘you guys… disturbed… Xiaochong…’ as she hunted.
“Just like that, she kept repeating this until the baby was reduced to bones, and her face was covered in wrinkles. To this day, she might still be somewhere in this city ruin, hugging the swaddling clothes that hold the baby’s skeleton and constantly whispering, ‘you guys… disturbed… Xiaochong…’”
“Man, don’t use the tone of telling a ghost story to make speculations on such a serious matter!” Long Yuehong felt a chill run down his spine when he heard this. His ears seemed to echo with the words ‘You guys… disturbed… Xiaochong…’
“Don’t you think it’s a great theme?” Shang Jianyao felt rather wistful.
“Aren’t you afraid?” asked Long Yuehong with a slightly warped expression.
Jiang Baimian interrupted their ‘argument’ and nodded slightly.
“That’s about what I imagined. Alright, let’s stop discussing. We just need to figure out the situation. Let’s leave the area underground as soon as possible and return to the first floor. When the time comes, we will have plenty of time to do an after-action review.”
“Yes, Team Leader!” Long Yuehong suppressed his voice.
As they spoke, they had already reached the end of the corridor.
“Turn left,” Jiang Baimian said without hesitation.
After turning left and walking to the end before making another left, they would return to the corridor where the stairwell entrance was.
After giving the instructions, Jiang Baimian subconsciously turned her head and looked to her right.
It led deeper into the building.
“Sigh, what a pity. I really want to find the underground engine room and restore the electricity to this city ruin. I want to open the door to the mysterious laboratory and see what secrets are hidden inside and what kind of research they were doing.”
The voice was not female, but a masculine one.
Jiang Baimian quickly turned her head and rolled her eyes at Shang Jianyao. “Heh, you even helped give me a voice-over? Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.
“Can you guess what I’m thinking now?”
Shang Jianyao replied seriously, “I really want to blow up Shang Jianyao’s dog head.”
Before Jiang Baimian could respond, Bai Chen sighed helplessly. “Team Leader, we have to return to the first floor as soon as possible.”
“I know, I know.” Jiang Baimian glared at Shang Jianyao. “It’s all this fellow’s fault. He’s simply a mood destroyer. I’m talking about you; be serious!”
With that said, she ignored Shang Jianyao and walked into the corridor on the left.
Bai Chen, Long Yuehong, and Shang Jianyao followed closely behind.
In this corridor, the rooms on both sides were also open. One could see the opposite corridor with some rooms tightly shut. It was unknown what was inside.
Jiang Baimian only sensed the electric signals and did not attempt to open all the closed doors to search for possible secrets.
As they walked forward, Jiang Baimian’s eyes focused, and she shouted, “Duck!”
She had already pounced diagonally ahead as she spoke and rolled into the room beside her.
Bai Chen, Long Yuehong, and Shang Jianyao had full faith in her and immediately dodged.
The first person jumped into the room beside them, and the room closest to Shang Jianyao had a tightly shut wooden door.
This did not stop Shang Jianyao. He slammed through the door and rushed in.
The next second, a grenade flew over from nowhere and landed where they were.
The surrounding doors shattered, and the ground caved in. The flames left black marks around the area.
After the grenade was released on them, nobody else attacked, nor did anyone appear.
Jiang Baimian, Bai Chen, and Long Yuehong continued hiding in their original spots, not daring to come out rashly.
At this moment, light shimmered in the room Shang Jianyao had crashed into.
Shang Jianyao saw a lit LCD screen. On it were some strange, inhuman creatures moving about.
In front of the LCD screen was a black machine. A black-haired boy was originally sitting in front of the machine. He had thrown away his controller in fright due to the sudden intrusion. He hid behind a table not far away.
Shang Jianyao’s reaction was completely different from what the boy had imagined. He didn’t attack or dodge. Instead, he looked at the LCD screen seriously and asked, “What’s this?”
The boy was stunned for a few seconds before he replied in fear, “I-it’s a game. A very old game… I didn’t find a virtual reality capsule, so I can only… can only play such games…”
Shang Jianyao nodded. “Is it fun?”
“Pretty fun,” replied the boy subconsciously.
Shang Jianyao sat down and sincerely asked, “How is it played?”
The boy observed Shang Jianyao for more than ten seconds before timidly leaving his hiding spot. He slowly and weakly sat beside Shang Jianyao and picked up the controller.
“Oh right, what’s your name?” inquired Shang Jianyao very politely.
The boy was about seven or eight years old. The moment he held the controller, his chubby face seemed to glow.
He casually replied, “Me? My name is Xiaochong.”