Chapter 98: Understanding the Situation
Shang Jianyao couldn’t see the gentleness that was originally on Shen Du’s face. His face had warped like that of a crazy beast.
His eyes didn’t have any sign of rationality. They weren’t even as clear as some animals’ eyes.
The abnormally turbid and dense blood vessels seemed to come from the depths of everyone’s nightmares.
Shen Du struggled with all his might. Even though his hands were handcuffed, and he was being controlled by two muscular young men, he still gave off the feeling that he could escape from the restraints at any moment and hunt the living beings around him.
This was an ability he never had in the past.
Amidst a low and hoarse roar, Shen Du was taken away step by step.
The child’s heart-wrenching cries sounded behind him. “Daddy, Daddy…”
Faced with such a scene, everyone who witnessed all of this remained silent. They were terrified, flustered, and sad.
Shen Du was finally brought out of the Rec Center, leaving behind only a series of echoing roars.
Shang Jianyao expressionlessly watched all of this before suddenly turning around and walking in the direction he had come from.
“That’s Uncle Shen, right? He actually contracted the Heartless disease…” Long Yuehong was also affected by this matter. He stared in the direction Shen Du had disappeared in and subconsciously sighed at Shang Jianyao.
It was only at this moment that he realized that Shang Jianyao was not beside him. “Hey! Hey, where are you going?”
Shang Jianyao ignored Long Yueyue and turned into the path leading to the fourth elevator lobby. He walked at a moderate pace as if he had suddenly thought of something else to do.
He soon returned to the 647th floor and entered Room 14—the Old Task Force’s assigned room.
Jiang Baimian had yet to leave. She was still operating the only computer there and typing away on the keyboard.
Sensing his arrival, Jiang Baimian looked up and asked, “What’s wrong? Did you forget something?”
Shang Jianyao walked to her table and stated in a low voice, “Shen Du contracted the Heartless disease.”
Jiang Baimian was stunned for two seconds before she recalled who Shen Du was. “The middle-aged man who brought you into the Life Ritual parish?”
Shang Jianyao nodded heavily.
Jiang Baimian frowned. “Was he very scared and terrified after he learned of Wang Yafei’s sudden death?”
“He also felt a little confused.” Shang Jianyao confirmed Jiang Baimian’s guess by giving more details.
Jiang Baimian nodded thoughtfully. “You suspect that Shen Du suddenly contracted the Heartless disease because he wanted to report the parish?”
“Yes.” Shang Jianyao didn’t deny it.
Jiang Baimian tersely acknowledged it. “Did you return here to remind me not to rashly investigate in the near future in case I become a Heartless too?”
As if he didn’t hear Jiang Baimian’s question, Shang Jianyao suddenly said, “First-generation Heartless have a terrible image.”
“That’s true. It’s tragic to become a Heartless like this.” Jiang Baimian understood what he meant and nodded slightly. “Don’t worry. I’m most wary of being discovered by the parish. The investigation I plan on conducting now is mainly to search for clues from public information. Yes, don’t worry. I won’t use my connections to gain access to the surveillance cameras for the time being. I’ll wait a little longer until they no longer care about this incident.”
Shang Jianyao replied simply, “Alright.”
With that said, Shang Jianyao prepared to turn around and return to the 495th floor.
Jiang Baimian stopped him and thoughtfully said, “Don’t be depressed. Although this matter is a tragedy, it gives me considerable confidence. The more they do, the more traces and flaws they leave behind. This makes it easier to catch their mistakes…”
She paused and continued with a serious expression, “Actually, I don’t really believe that Shen Du suddenly contracted the Heartless disease because he wanted to report the Life Ritual parish. You’ve also heard Newspoint and know that the company has recently discovered several Heartless infections. Having one more case is considered normal.”
Over the years, although humans had yet to discover the Heartless disease’s pathology and infection patterns, they had at least concluded some of the phenomena.
One of them was: As long as the Heartless disease appeared, it wouldn’t be isolated to a single case. Within a certain range and a certain period of time, there would definitely be several or even more cases. Most of these cases did not intersect.
Fortunately, the Heartless disease only appeared once in a long time after each outbreak. Otherwise, humanity would have long collapsed.
It was like a human’s shadow. It was unknown where it hid at night, but it would naturally appear at dawn.
“It’s even more coincidental than us encountering Qiao Chu,” Shang Jianyao commented.
Jiang Baimian nodded slightly and said, “If it weren’t a coincidence, the meaning behind this matter would be extraordinary. Could it be that the Life Ritual parish has already grasped all of the Heartless disease’s secrets and can use it to deal with the enemy?
“How did they know that Shen Du was going to betray them? How did they make the Heartless disease coincidentally erupt before Shen Du reported them?
“Why didn’t any accidents happen when you told me about the matter?
“What’s the difference?”
Without waiting for Shang Jianyao’s response, Jiang Baimian exhaled and said, “These are all questions that require thought. They might contain the most important clues. You and I should take the time to think about it.
“Go back. Don’t take the initiative to ask about such matters, much less carry out an investigation. Just show appropriate curiosity.”
Upon seeing that Shang Jianyao’s expression remained serious, Jiang Baimian smiled and said, “Don’t be too afraid of them. If they can casually infect someone with the Heartless disease, they would’ve long eliminated all the board members and replaced them with their own people.
“We would also most likely be sincerely praising the Arbiter of Fate’s tolerance and not be vexed about such matters.”
Shang Jianyao nodded. “Take your time. There’s no rush.”
“… Shouldn’t I be the one telling you that?” Jiang Baimian waved her hand. “Go back and have a good rest. The parish will likely inform you of a gathering soon.
Upon seeing that Shang Jianyao was a little confused, she smiled and sighed. “Since this has happened to Shen Du, the parish’s higher-ups should be able to figure out that they have to convene the parishioners as soon as possible as long as they haven’t sacrificed their brains to the Arbiter of Fate. They have to unify the parishioners’ thoughts at the gathering. Be it intimidation or appeasement, they can’t let the situation continue developing this way.
“If more than ten to twenty Heartless cases appear at once, we don’t need to make a report. The company will deploy elite troops for the most thorough investigation.”
Shang Jianyao quietly listened before suddenly saying, “Team Leader, I want to sing a song for you.”
“No thanks. You can sing after this matter is settled.” Jiang Baimian smoothly continued, “I know you want to praise me.”
Shang Jianyao didn’t say anything else. He turned around and walked out of Room 14 before taking the elevator back to the 495th floor.
At this moment, many employees were gathered inside and around the Rec Center. They discussed the matter in groups of three to five.
To many people, this was like a long-forgotten nightmare rearing its head again. They couldn’t help but feel fear and panic.
The current rate of contracting the Heartless disease was very low. Many young people might’ve faced infected people two or three times in the past few years, and sometimes not a single one. They had mostly heard of the cases.
The shadow that had always loomed over humans appeared again.
Shang Jianyao was in no rush to return home. He first walked into the Rec Center and found Long Yuehong—as expected.
He was chatting with Yang Zhenyuan in a corner.
“Where did you go?” questioned Long Yuehong curiously when he saw Shang Jianyao walking over.
“I forgot something.” Shang Jianyao casually found an excuse.
“Oh, I see.” Long Yuehong expressed his understanding.
Shang Jianyao sat down as if he wanted to prove that he was not anxious. He looked at Yang Zhenyuan and asked with a smile, “Didn’t you move to the 569th floor?”
Yang Zhenyuan’s wife, Zhou Qi, was ten years older than him. She once had a husband and was assigned a room. Therefore, after the two of them were successfully matched together, Yang Zhenyuan directly lost the right to be assigned a room and could only move to Zhou Qi’s apartment on the 569th floor.
“Can’t I come back to visit my parents?” Yang Zhenyuan replied with a smile.
Shang Jianyao sized him up. “Your wife has taught you well.”
“Huh?” Yang Zhenyuan’s fair and clean face inexplicably flushed red.
Long Yuehong helped translate. “He means that you’re much more cheerful than before.”
“A little. I guess… I’m more confident.” Yang Zhenyuan scratched his head.
After chatting about Yang Zhenyuan’s work at the research institute, Shang Jianyao turned to Long Yuehong. “What happened to Uncle Shen?”
Long Yuehong had already heard the gossip and sighed. “They said that something was wrong with Uncle Shen last night and that he looked distracted. Sigh, if I had gotten him to see a doctor earlier, he might’ve been fine.”
“If he’s already infected with the Heartless disease, early treatment would be useless as well.” Yang Zhenyuan worked at a certain biological research institute that was more focused on medical matters. But due to his profession, he was mostly in charge of the electronic equipment inside.
Long Yuehong sighed again. “That’s right… How tragic. Uncle Shen’s child is still so young…”
Shang Jianyao fell silent for a few seconds before asking, “When did Uncle Shen fall ill? Who was the first to see it?”
Long Yuehong pointed outside. “Uncle Shen became ill in the Order Supervisory Room beside us. He didn’t manage to say a word after entering when his illness acted up. Phew, it’s a good thing it happened there. They quickly restrained Uncle Shen. Otherwise, people probably would’ve been injured.”
“Order Supervisory Department…” Shang Jianyao repeated. “How many people were there back then? ”
“About three or four? It’s definitely impossible for two people to subdue a Heartless,” guessed Long Yuehong.
Shang Jianyao didn’t hide his ‘curiosity’ as he asked about the various details. He gained a preliminary impression of the entire matter:
After dinner, Shen Du paced around the Rec Center’s entrance for a while. He had a dazed expression, and his expression was nasty. About ten minutes later, he began walking to the Order Supervisory Room beside him. Moments after he entered—perhaps less than a minute—sounds of fighting and roars erupted from inside…
At that time, it was the peak of after-meal leisure time. Many people had witnessed the corresponding situation.
They chatted until 7:40 p.m. Shang Jianyao bade farewell to Long Yuehong, Yang Zhenyuan, and Zhou Qi—who had come to look for her husband. He left the Rec Center and walked home.
As he approached Zone B, Room 196, he first swept his gaze below the door.
There was a simple baby drawing drawn with white chalk. This meant that the Life Ritual parish had a gathering at 5:30 a.m. the next day.
On the 647th floor, Jiang Baimian packed her things and entered an elevator in a remote corner.
She swiped her electronic card and pressed ‘349.’