Embers Ad Infinitum

Chapter 25: Sweeping Clean the Battlefield

Chapter 25: Sweeping Clean the Battlefield

Jiang Baimian played with the badge and placed her left index finger on the chip. An undetectable electric current seemed to flash.

Jiang Baimian retracted her finger after a few seconds and smiled. “He’s also an Official Hunter.”

Official Hunters were a term used by the Hunter’s Guild because of their differentiation to Ruin Hunters. This differentiation had nothing to do with strength, at least on the surface. The Hunter’s Guild relied on so-called credit points. After all, the Hunter’s Guild was established with the intention of helping everyone exchange information and resources better, not providing them with an opportunity to rise.

When it came to transactions, credit was more important than strength. Therefore, the first president of the Hunter’s Guild obtained inspiration from the Old World’s systems and designed the credit point system.

After Ruin Hunters joined the guild, they could obtain different amounts of credit points by completing their assignments, making deals with others, and providing reliable information to the guild. This did not conflict with their compensation, and the two could be considered as having levels of overlap.

When one’s credit points reached 100, a Rookie Hunter could become an Official Hunter. Above Official Hunters were Intermediate Hunters, Senior Hunters, Advanced Hunters, and Master Hunters. One could only reach these ranks by repeatedly taking missions and carrying out transactions. Of course, if one’s rank and credit points were insufficient, one could not accept many missions or carry out many kinds of transactions. Others would not trust the person in question unless one or a few highly credible hunters could vouch for them.

Therefore, it was not unacceptable for a Rookie Hunter to be stronger than an Advanced Hunter or a Master Hunter. However, from a different perspective, being able to complete many missions and transactions in the dangerous Ashlands, remain alive, and accumulate sufficient credit points proved many things. Advanced Hunters and Master Hunters were always outstanding in terms of strength, team strength, and the resources they had.

In other words, those with low credit points might not be weak, but those with high credit points were definitely strong—at least in some areas.

Due to the importance of credit points, the Hunter’s Guild always strictly dealt with breaches of contracts, violations, fraud, and dishonest transactions. Upon discovery, the corresponding credit points would immediately be deducted, and the information regarding the breach of trust would be labeled in the badge’s chip. If the problem was serious, the guild might even revoke the person in question’s membership and blacklist them across the world. These people were generally known as Dark Hunters. Of course, because an information network didn’t cover the entire Ashlands, it might take months or even longer for the blacklist to spread to all the branches.

As for whether Ruin Hunters were part-time bandits or if they had killed people, the guild didn’t care as long as it didn’t involve the missions or transactions. In addition to these things, the Hunter’s Guild also had a title—Chief Hunter.

This was considered an honor. It depended more on one’s qualifications. There could only be one Chief Hunter in every region’s Hunter’s Guild branch.

These were all the things Shang Jianyao learned in class and during training. Therefore, he was not curious about the term ‘Official Hunter.’ However, he still looked at Jiang Baimian seriously without saying a word.

Jiang Baimian looked down at herself and suddenly laughed. “Are you wondering why I can read the contents of the Hunter’s Badge chip?”

A Hunter’s Badge chip usually could only be read by special machines at the various Hunter’s Guild branches.

Shang Jianyao immediately nodded without hiding his intent.

Jiang Baimian raised her left arm and said, “Since it’s an electric eel-type biomechanical limb, it’s very reasonable to install simple chips, sensors, data transmission lines, and other miscellaneous items that require electricity.

“It’s not too difficult to read the contents of the chip. Oh, but it’s very difficult to erase and rewrite it. The Hunter’s Guild uses a special chip and special machine bought from the Mechanical Paradise. The technology involved can’t be underwritten.”

Shang Jianyao came to a realization and curiously asked, “Are biological prosthetics nowadays all equipped with electronic and mechanical objects?”

“Our philosophy is: as long as it’s useful. Besides, the intersection of biological, electronic, and mechanical objects is also a key research area. Just like how many large factions are attempting to combine exoskeleton equipment and artificial intelligence armor to create a truly practical kinetic armor,” Jiang Baimian explained casually.

Suddenly, she yelped.

Shang Jianyao’s hand immediately reached for his Ice Moss’s handle.

“Haha, I’ve squatted for too long. My legs are a little numb.” Jiang Baimian stood up in embarrassment and flexed her legs. Her ponytail shook behind her.

After Shang Jianyao stood up, she said, “This mission is a little strange. Gathering information on a specific person in the Blackmarsh Wilderness is like casting a net into the sea to capture a specific fish.”

Shang Jianyao quickly asked, “Have you seen the sea?”

“...That’s not the point.” Jiang Baimian spat. “At least I’ve seen a real lake. The sea should be much wider than that.”

Shang Jianyao ignored Jiang Baimian’s answer and continued discussing the previous topic. “Maybe this mission isn’t just issued to one hunter.”

“That’s true. Spreading out the net is wise.” Jiang Baimian agreed with his words.

After saying that, she and Shang Jianyao sighed with emotion in unison. “How rich!”

Anyone who could provide effective information would be rewarded. This meant that more than one ton of flour had to be prepared.

Jiang Baimian cast her gaze deep into the swamp, which was north of Yuelu Station. She muttered to herself in confusion, “Who exactly is that fellow? He’s worth so much attention...”

At this moment, Bai Chen completed the repairs. She sat in the driver’s seat and tried to start the jeep.

A hubbub sounded. Even Shang Jianyao could tell that it was abnormal.

Bai Chen stuck her head out of the window and shouted at Jiang Baimian. “It was damaged in the back, as well as in many places. I can barely drive it now, but it can’t go fast. Besides, I’m not sure when it will completely break down.”

“Can’t you fix it?” Jiang Baimian asked solemnly.

Bai Chen shook her head. “I can, but we lack key components. Team Leader, I remember there’s a nomad settlement in the wilderness not far away. We only need two to three hours to reach it. Why don’t we take a detour and go there to see if we can exchange for what we need?

“Even if the jeep breaks down halfway, I can still rush over on that motorcycle and come back.” She pointed at the relatively intact heavy motorcycle.

The other motorcycle had been destroyed in the previous explosion, leaving behind only a pile of scrap metal.

Jiang Baimian thought for two seconds before saying, “Alright.”

Bai Chen and Shang Jianyao immediately checked the other two corpses and finally obtained a slightly damaged heavy motorcycle, two mini submachine guns, some submachine gun rounds, some useful components from the motorcycle remains, half a loaf of bread, and a few tobacco leaves that had been rolled into cigarettes.

They also obtained a Storm submachine gun from the muscular man who died.

Long Yuehong put on the exoskeleton and carried the light machine guns back.

Jiang Baimian identified them and happily said, “These three submachine guns use 9mm rounds, the most common type. We’ve prepared a lot of them!”

She then looked at the light machine gun and sighed regretfully. “7.92 mm bullets. That’s temporarily useless. Let’s put it in the car first. We can exchange it later or bring it back to the company.”

“There won’t be a place to put the exoskeleton if we put this in the trunk,” said Bai Chen with a frown.

Their trunk had canned food, biscuits, ammunition, and filter chips.

“The exoskeleton can be placed on the passenger seat. Everyone will take turns riding the heavy motorcycle. Besides, the three of us can squeeze into the backseat. It’s very spacious,” Jiang Baimian casually said.

Bai Chen tersely acknowledged her words. “That heavy motorcycle needs fuel, so we might not be able to refuel it. Let’s try our best to trade it away later.”

Jiang Baimian did not respond directly and looked around. “Alright, everyone, disperse and pick up the bullet shells that you can see. This is a strategic resource. Long Yuehong, you can take off your exoskeleton and conserve some electricity. We only brought along a spare high-performance battery this time. We have to be careful.”

As for the solar charger board on the car roof, it could only charge the jeep once a day.

“Yes, Team Leader!” Long Yuehong had just finished answering when he suddenly thought of something. He turned around and pointed to the side of the road. “What about that?”

He was referring to the Blackmarsh Iron Snake’s massive corpse.

Jiang Baimian’s smart-looking eyebrows twitched. “There’s no way to move it... We can forget about the meat. It’s best not to eat such creatures that have mutated due to pollution unless you have nothing to eat.

“We can’t take the poison sac in its mouth either. We didn’t bring any sealing devices, and the liquid inside is prone to bursting. When the time comes, the Blackmarsh Iron Snake will unknowingly succeed in its revenge.

“Strip off that layer of skin. We should be able to take it away. Yes, fold it up and tie it to the top of the car. This is an excellent biological material. The Research Department will definitely like it. They have been making similar bionic armor.

“Long Yuehong, go deal with it in the exoskeleton. Its helmet provides anti-poison protection. Also, if I remember correctly, it should have the auxiliary function of high-temperature cutting. Remember, start with the eye and mouth.”

After 15 minutes of busy work, Long Yuehong skinned the mutated python with Shang Jianyao’s help—the latter wore a gas mask.

It was folded, then bundled up and tied to the top of the jeep. It was secured to a fixture on the solar charger with a cord.

“Phew, it’s settled.” Jiang Baimian clapped her hands and watched Long Yuehong and Shang Jianyao put the exoskeleton on the passenger seat.

“How are we going to deal with this?” She pointed at the three corpses not far away. “Are we going to strip them of their clothes?”

Clothes were also a form of currency in the Ashlands, only slightly inferior to food and firearms.

Before Bai Chen and Long Yuehong could give their opinions, Shang Jianyao spoke first with a serious expression. “Let’s throw them into the swamp.”

Jiang Baimian nodded thoughtfully. “Alright.”

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