Chapter 90: Small Test
Jiang Baimian laughed at Long Yuehong’s defensive words. “I know, I know. I’m just trying to give you some confidence. This means that you played an important role in this field training.”
Seeing that his team leader was making things worse, Long Yuehong couldn’t be bothered to emphasize further. He only muttered, “It’s better not to have such a role.”
“What did you say?” Jiang Baimian tilted her head as if she was listening attentively. “Forget it. Let’s get back to the topic at hand and continue the after-action review.”
She then looked around. “We had a detailed discussion and summary of every incident we encountered during this field training session. We won’t repeat that today. What I hope for is for you to do an after-action review from an overarching point of view and evaluate every choice taken before and after the matter. This is to see if there’s anything you need to improve on.”
Bai Chen quietly listened and recalled something. “I don’t think there are any problems. Every decision you made was the best choice in the situation we faced. It only appeared dangerous because of the numerous accidents we encountered.”
“That’s right, that’s right. Be it the bandits with the exoskeleton, the mechanical monk—Jingfa—or the massacre in Blackrat Town, you did your best to let everyone survive and lead us away from the vortex of danger,” Long Yuehong echoed.
Shang Jianyao nodded. “It’s mainly because you’re unlucky.”
“…” If Long Yuehong didn’t know Shang Jianyao, he definitely would’ve imagined that Shang Jianyao was targeting him.
Jiang Baimian glanced at him and said seriously, “If you don’t like such jokes, directly tell him that he won’t have any friends if he continues like this.”
“Actually, I’m already used to it,” replied Long Yuehong subconsciously.
Jiang Baimian spread her hands and teased, “What else can I say?”
Jiang Baimian adjusted her hair to her sides, and her expression gradually turned serious. “Although you guys are praising me and making me burst with joy, I still have to say that many things could’ve been avoided if we acted well from the beginning.
“Think about it. How long could Jingfa stay in the steelworks factory ruins? How long could Qiao Chu wait at the broken bridge? As long as we missed them by a few hours, there would’ve been a high chance that we wouldn’t encounter them.
“Our jeep wouldn’t have been damaged if we had fired at the bandits when we encountered them and wiped them out, preventing them from wearing the exoskeleton. We wouldn’t have taken a detour to Moat Town then. It’s very likely that we would’ve arrived at the steelworks factory ruins that evening and left the next morning. Jingfa probably wouldn’t have arrived to search for the Fated by then.
“Similarly, we definitely wouldn’t encounter Wu Shoushi and the others subsequently. By the time we obtained information on the newly-discovered city ruin, it might’ve already crossed the river. We could’ve chosen another wilderness nomad settlement to send the information to the company. We also wouldn’t have been ‘intercepted’ by Qiao Chu.”
Upon seeing Bai Chen, Long Yuehong, and the Shang Jianyao reveal thoughtful expressions, Jiang Baimian asked in a low voice, “If you were the ones making the decisions, would you choose to deter the other party and leave, avoiding contact without any conflict when you encounter such a team again? Or would you choose to attack directly and eliminate any latent dangers?”
Shang Jianyao immediately replied, “Team Leader, I think you have some misunderstandings about my lofty ideals. Do I look like someone who will attack the innocent? It’s difficult to determine if a group of people is sinful through a brief interaction.”
Jiang Baimian laughed after being momentarily taken aback. “You look like one! Who wanted to fire on the grounds that the other party was disturbing your ears?”
“I sensed their hostility,” Shang Jianyao replied seriously. “Besides, I knew you wouldn’t agree.”
“Alright.” Jiang Baimian turned to look at Long Yuehong and Bai Chen. “What about the two of you? What kind of decision will you make?”
Long Yuehong hissed. “I wouldn’t have directly ordered an attack either. If I did so, what’s the difference between those bandits and me?”
Bai Chen thought for a moment and said, “There’s a difference between humans and beasts. Unless I had no food back then and was about to die, then I would have to snatch something.”
Jiang Baimian looked around again with a serious expression as the corners of her mouth gradually curled up. “Congratulations on passing your first psychological test.”
Upon seeing that Long Yuehong looked a little stunned, Jiang Baimian explained with a smile, “I still hope that my team members have basic morals and principles. Although I can’t use this as a measure of the desperate actions you might take in dire situations, I can at least trust such companions with my back most of the time.”
Shang Jianyao tersely acknowledged it. “A true companion is one that can dance the Gold Coast hula dance together with you.”
Jiang Baimian couldn’t be bothered to respond to him and continued reviewing their training session.
Near the end, she thought for a moment and said, “I kept holding off on the analysis of the city ruin. Since I have time today, we can specifically discuss it. What do you think the connection between Daoist Galoran’s words about the aura left behind by the Kalendaria and the various abnormalities in the city ruin is?”
Bai Chen had occasionally considered this problem over the past few days and was the first to raise her guess. “Could it be that ‘He’ conducted some forbidden research that involves the domain of deities in that city’s laboratory and has angered the Kalendaria that represents the entire year, Master Zhuang? Therefore, ‘He’ sent down divine punishment?
“Perhaps this also raises the curtain on the Old World’s destruction. It’s also precisely because this city ruin is the origin of the destruction that no one survived, including the surrounding villages and towns. Therefore, the city ruin was completely forgotten until it was recently discovered.”
She had linked the widely circulated theory of ‘Kalendarium destroying the Old World’ to this discovery.
“It’s possible, but I can only say that it’s possible.” Jiang Baimian did not reject the theory directly.
Shang Jianyao then asked, “Then, why didn’t Master Zhuang erase the howling creature in the laboratory? Why did ‘He’ allow the city ruin to have so many Superior Heartless and mutated creatures? Isn’t this divine punishment a little too incomplete?”
He paused and said, “If that’s the case, I would feel ashamed for Master Zhuang.”
Bai Chen was speechless and unable to answer. If she could answer these questions, she wouldn’t have said that it was just a guess.
“If Master Zhuang knew that a person like you was so considerate of ‘His’ reputation, ‘He’ would definitely feel ashamed,” joked Jiang Baimian. “Personally, I’d like bolder guesses.”
She then looked around, lowered her body slightly, and suppressed her voice. “Could it be that the laboratory’s forbidden research gave birth to the Kalendarium? The humans of the Old World tried to create deities, but they were destroyed by the deities they created?”
Such a guess and such a low, echoing voice made Long Yuehong’s forehead twitch. He felt inexplicably terrified and felt that it was sacrilege.
Human laboratories resulted in the Kalendarium, and the Kalendarium ended up destroying humanity?
“Why did the Kalendarium leave behind the howling creature in the laboratory then? Because it’s ‘Their’ younger brother?” Shang Jianyao raised his doubts again. “Also, why didn’t ‘They’ destroy that laboratory and hide the secrets regarding ‘Their’ birth? Why did the Eighth Research Institute behind Qiao Chu send people to find this city ruin and blow up the laboratory?”
“I said that it’s only a guess!” Jiang Baimian glared at Shang Jianyao. “Besides, we can’t be sure that Qiao Chu’s mission was to blow up that laboratory. What if he was only searching for information? After all, there are many possible reasons for the explosion. For example, a self-destruct mechanism.”
At this point, Jiang Baimian softened her ferocious expression. “What we can now be certain of is that it would’ve been difficult to discover the city ruin for a long time without Qiao Chu. Ah, when can we find the Eighth Research Institute? They definitely know many of the Old World’s secrets!”
After discussing for a while, Jiang Baimian looked at her watch. “That’s about it. Let me talk about what’s going to happen next. You have two days off, and everything will return to normal after that.
“However, our daily training will be halved. We have to reserve the morning for studying information, organizing the clues, and preparing for an official investigation. We have to set off next spring to head to the first investigation point or the area where the target is located. Before that, I will organize a winter field survival training session. But it will be near the company. We won’t go too far to avoid trouble.”
Jiang Baimian actually felt a little apprehensive when she said the word ‘trouble.’
Bai Chen nodded and said, “Actually, that city ruin is a very suitable place to investigate.”
Jiang Baimian tersely acknowledged her words. “This will depend on whether the company finds any valuable clues from the city ruin in the next few months. I’m pessimistic.”
The most important laboratory had been completely destroyed.
Upon mentioning this, Long Yuehong asked curiously and worriedly, “Team Leader, what will happen to the Superior Heartless in the city ruin after the company interferes?”
“What else can they do? They will either migrate, be killed, or become experimental subjects,” answered Jiang Baimian seriously. “In the Ashlands, unnecessary pity is of zero value.”
Long Yuehong fell silent for a few seconds before suddenly saying, “But they will definitely bring considerable casualties to the company… Those are our colleagues, so we might even know each other…”
Jiang Baimian fell silent for a moment before smiling. “This is the Ashlands.”
As she spoke, she stood up and patted Shang Jianyao’s shoulder. “That’s why we are seeking the New World.”
“Therefore, we need to save all of humanity,” Shang Jianyao said cooperatively.
Jiang Baimian took the opportunity to wrap things up and pointed outside. “It’s almost dinner. I’ll be treating all of you today to celebrate our first mission’s completion.”
Long Yuehong, Shang Jianyao, and Bai Chen stood up at the same time.
“To be honest, I’ve been missing the company’s canteen.” Long Yuehong sighed sincerely. Although he had tasted quite a bit of wildlife meat this time, the meat was either very dry or had an unpleasant taste. Without sufficient seasoning and good culinary techniques, the meat could only be barely used to fill his stomach. The experience couldn’t be considered good.
“Me too,” Jiang Baimian replied frankly.
Shang Jianyao wiped the corners of his mouth.