Embers Ad Infinitum

Chapter 2: Follow-up Review

Chapter 2: Follow-up Review

Translator: virtual group Editor: virtual group

After the second hand on the Rec Center’s old, hanging clock creakingly spun three and a half rounds, lines of text finally appeared on the LCD screen.

Meng Xia and the others quickly searched for their names before they heaved a sigh of relief one after another.

Most of them weren’t necessarily satisfied or excited, but they weren’t unhappy either. To them, this was no different from participating in exams. It didn’t matter as long as the results weren’t too bad. After all, their parents and grandparents had been through the same.

The others were more confused because they didn’t know who their marriage partner was, what floor they came from, or which department their parents belonged to. Even though they had all entered university and received higher education, the people they knew were still limited to their classmates and neighbors on the same floor.

Long Yuehong looked up and down the list carefully and seriously. Finally, he could not help but mutter to himself, “Why isn’t my name on the list?”

“Because your name sucks.” Shang Jianyao’s expression didn’t change.

“...” Long Yuehong wanted to refute, but sadly, he found himself agreeing with Shang Jianyao’s conclusion.

Thousands of people had met the conditions and were forced to participate in the central assignment, but there were only two more men than women. If not for their ill fate, a sucky name, or bad luck, how could they have been one of the two unlucky fools?

Long Yuehong paused for a moment before indignantly saying, “Your name isn’t on the list either!” He did not notice Shang Jianyao receiving any successful assignment of a female.

Shang Jianyao raised his right eyebrow and said, “Didn’t I tell you? I’ve already applied to give up on this marriage assignment.”

“Seriously? Why would the company agree...” Long Yuehong was stunned and confused. He felt like his world had been turned upside down. He had lived for 21 years. In the past, he had indeed heard of people who fit the criteria but did not participate in the marriage assignment. However, they had sufficient reason for doing so. The other party was either bedridden and could die at any moment or had participated in the Security Department’s expeditions. It was even a question if they could return.

Nobody who was healthy and fit in the company dared to violate the rules if they met the criteria. This was one of the core duties of a company employee.

Long Yuehong’s sadness was washed away by this matter. He looked at Shang Jianyao and asked, “Are you prepared to accept a reduction in energy rationing? That’s not too bad. The scariest thing is to have contribution points deducted. You won’t even have enough to eat when that happens! People like us—who are only at D1—only receive 1,800 points every month, affording us meat just once a week. Having one-third deducted at once speaks volumes!”

“The company has agreed to my request. There won’t be any deductions.” Shang Jianyao smiled.

“No, impossible, impossible...” Long Yuehong muttered to himself as he suddenly thought of something. If Shang Jianyao really applied to give up on this marriage assignment, it means that there should only be one more male than female participants. Just one more person...

I-I am the only unlucky bastard... Long Yuehong’s mouth fell wide open, and a deep sense of sorrow rose from his heart.

At this moment, the display began to flip the pages. It briefly introduced the basic information of the people who had successfully matched up with this floor’s residents so that they could find each other and register their marriage at the Order Supervisory Department’s various branches.

“Meng Xia, your husband is an outsider!” The crowd stared at the screen for a while when an exclamation came from the women’s side.

Meng Xia’s expression was slightly solemn. Her eyes darted about slightly as she muttered, “Zhang Lei; Male; Born: Wilderness nomad; Age: 25; Recruited by the company three years ago; Performance has always been good; There are no latent problems with his body; Residence: 622nd floor, Zone A, Room 192; Employee Level: D4; Electronic Card Number: 04311029189...”

“There really are outsiders...” Long Yuehong was also attracted by this matter and started discussing it with his companions.

They all knew that the company would periodically take in nomads from the wilderness to supplement the population and perfect their genes. However, residents of this floor had never worked with outsiders before, and nobody had ever married them, so everyone treated this matter as an interesting piece of news.

“Meng Xia, it’s actually not that bad. Although he used to be a nomad in the wilderness, he’s now a D4 employee. He’s only 25 years old. That’s very impressive!” The girl in the green top and blue pants consoled her friend.

D4 meant that he had gone from an ordinary employee to a senior, high-ranking employee. He could be the deputy of a small research project, a factory production line’s supervisor, an assistant team leader of the Security Department, or the Order supervisor of a certain floor’s zone. His monthly compensation was at least 2,000 points higher than D1 employees.

A young man beside Long Yuehong muttered, “However, the effect of genetic enhancement after adulthood isn’t that good...” At this moment, he saw the information of his betrothed.

“Zhou Qi; Female; Born: Internal employee; Age: 30 years old; Had a former husband who died five years ago, currently raising a child; voluntary application to participate in this marriage assignment; There are no latent problems with her body; Residence: 569th floor, Zone B, Room 27; Employee level: D4; Electronic Card Number: 01609052558...”

“Yang Zhenyuan, your wife is ten years older than you...” Long Yuehong also saw the information.

Yang Zhenyuan was the same as most of his peers in the company. His face was fair and clean, and his body was muscular. He looked good, but he had slightly androgynous features and appeared more introverted.

Yang Zhenyuan’s face flushed red when he heard Long Yuehong’s words. He wanted to say something but couldn’t say a word.

After a while, everyone finally memorized their partner’s corresponding information. They then left the Rec Center one after another, preparing to find their betrothed or return home to wait for the other party to come looking for them.

At this moment, a voice suddenly sounded in the hall when only five or six people were left. “Who is Yang Zhenyuan?”

“Me, what is it?” Yang Zhenyuan—who was chatting with Long Yuehong and Shang Jianyao—subconsciously turned to look at the door.

A woman walked into the Rec Center. Her appearance was mature and charming. Although she wore simple and plain clothes, they could not hide her impressive figure. “I’m Zhou Qi.”

The woman glanced at Yang Zhenyuan and nodded in satisfaction. “Shall we go to your house for a chat?”

Yang Zhenyuan was shocked at first, but he quickly nodded. “Sure, sure.”

“Then let’s go now?” Zhou Qi smiled like a blooming flower.

“Sure, sure,” Yang Zhenyuan said as he walked over quickly.

Long Yuehong watched the couple leave the Rec Center and couldn’t help but sigh. “What should I do next?”

Shang Jianyao turned his head and looked at him in all seriousness. “A great cause awaits you.”

“...” Long Yuehong’s facial muscles twitched. “Speak human!”

Shang Jianyao smiled. “Wait for next year’s marriage assignment.”

“That’s true.” Long Yuehong sighed. “Sigh, forget it. I hope I can get assigned a good position in the company tomorrow. Also, I feel like you’re becoming more and more abnormal. I’m referring to your brain.” As he spoke, he pointed at his temple.

The most important thing for them next was to wait for the allocation of jobs. This would directly determine their future. Apart from those who had special talents in certain areas and were earmarked by corresponding departments, the rest of the graduates with higher education qualifications had to wait for the job allocation.

Before Shang Jianyao could reply, Long Yuehong saw Chen Xianyu, the PIC of the Rec Center, turn off the display. He held a cylindrical metal cup that had been excavated from the Old World’s ruins as he slowly walked over.

Long Yuehong asked nervously, “Grandpa Chen, what department do you think we will be assigned to?”

Chen Xianyu coughed. “As far as I know, those who have just gotten married and are about to have children will be assigned to relatively safe internal positions. Those who have not been assigned a partner or won’t have any need for children might get assigned to temporary positions that might be a little dangerous.”

Long Yuehong’s expression collapsed. “I-I have to go back and tell my father and mother regarding my marriage assignment’s results.” He didn’t wait for Shang Jiyao’s response. With a gloomy expression, he walked out of the Rec Center.

“Your dad and mom haven’t gotten off work yet...” Shang Jianyao muttered to himself before leaving and entering the corridor outside.

This was the underground building’s 495th floor. There was no sky, only a four-meter-high ceiling. Long light tubes were mounted on the ceiling, and relatively bright light shone down.

To the employees of the company, the switched-on lights represented day. When switched off, they represented night.

Shang Jianyao looked up at the street lamp in front of him before making a turn to enter another area in Zone C.

On both sides of the path, the rooms closely neighboured one another—about only two meters apart. They resembled beehives in textbooks that had been projected onto the same plane.

Compared to them, the Rec Center was as spacious as a square.

After walking down two ‘streets,’ a relatively open area appeared in front of Shang Jianyao, where 12 elevators were installed.

These were the elevators that led straight to the Research Zone.

In this underground building that originated from the Old World, the elevators that led to the Factory Zone, Research Zone, and the relatively small but special Indoor Ecosystem Zone from the Residential Zone were separated in order to prevent congestion and accidents. They were located in different zones of the building.

The Administrative Zone and Energy Zone were combined with the Research Zone. Authorized personnel could only reach them by swiping their electronic cards.

Shang Jianyao waited for a while before entering the elevator in the middle. He casually pressed the number ’21.’

As it was working hours, the elevator did not stop midway. It steadily descended all the way.

During this process, Shang Jianyao suddenly took out an electronic card and swiped at the corresponding area. He then pressed the metal button representing the third floor.

The elevator continued to descend, only stopping after a while.

Shang Jianyao exited the elevator and made a left turn. He saw a large metal door that was tightly shut. There were four armed security guards wearing bionic armor, which made them look like lizards.

Shang Jianyao did not attempt to approach the metal door. He walked along the aisle outside the door and went right.

Several rooms were lined up at the end of the corridor, but none of them had door signs.

Under the ceiling lamps’ illumination, Shang Jianyao knocked on the door in the corner.

“Please come in.” A gentle female voice was heard.

Shang Jianyao turned the doorknob and pushed open the door. He saw a lady in a white coat.

The lady sat behind a mahogany table. She looked to be in her thirties and wore a pair of gold-rimmed glasses. Her hair was neatly bundled up, with only a few stray strands hanging down.

“Ah, it’s you.” The lady glanced at Shang Jianyao and smiled as she pointed at the chair opposite the table. “Have a seat.”

Shang Jianyao sat down and smiled as if he was returning home. “Good afternoon, Dr. Lin.”

“Good afternoon, Jianyao.” Dr. Lin tucked her stray hair strands away and took a folder from the side before opening it. Then, she twirled the black fountain pen and casually asked, “How are you feeling lately?”

“My appetite has increased a little. My sleep has been normal, and I’ve been healthy.” Shang Jianyao spoke as he made a move to highlight his biceps.

Dr. Lin nodded. “I’ve already applied for you to give up the marriage assignment. I guess you know of the outcome?”

“Yes, thank you.” Shang Jianyao smiled and said, “Can I sing a song to thank you?”

“There’s no need.” Dr. Lin shook her head without hesitation. She then tapped her pen. “Actually, I’m curious. Why did you insist on giving up the central marriage assignment? Your condition isn’t really serious.”

Shang Jianyao’s expression turned serious, and he said in a deep voice, “To save all of humanity.”

“...” Dr. Lin picked up her pen and drew a circle on the document in front of her.

There was a line of words in the circle: “Moderate psychosis (suspected delusional disorder, awaiting observation).”

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