Chapter 44: Next Destination
Toward newly-discovered city ruins, Ruin Hunters were more inclined to form an alliance and explore it together because they didn’t know if the Heartless within had experienced any mutations. They also didn’t know about the other latent dangers.
They wouldn’t be wary of each other, nor would they try their best to eliminate their competitors. After all, such city ruins had plenty of resources that were sufficient to satisfy everyone. They didn’t need to snatch from each other.
Among Ruin Hunters, such an endeavor was called ‘reclamation.’
Jiang Baimian was not surprised by Wu Shoushi’s invitation. She first looked back at Shang Jianyao and the others before smiling. “We have other matters to tend to.”
Without waiting for Wu Shoushi to speak, she said, “I heard that there are many anomalies north of Yuelu Station. In addition to the late-night roars that you should know about, some people have also inexplicably died. There were no visible wounds, but their faces were either warped or smiling. It’s supposedly very strange.”
She relayed the information she had obtained from Harris Brown to Wu Shoushi and the others as a form of repayment for helping them drag the jeep out of the quagmire.
After hearing that, Wu Shoushi turned his head to look at his wooden female companion. “Ruxiang, what can you tell from that?”
The woman in the military-green camouflage uniform shook her head. “Impossible to determine.”
Wu Shoushi nodded indiscernibly and looked at Jiang Baimian. “Thank you for the warning. We will take note. However, such an opportunity might only appear once in several years. Furthermore, there will only be fewer such opportunities in the future. We definitely can’t let this opportunity go. In the Ashlands, you have to strive for as much as you can. Otherwise, the only difference is just whether one dies a few years earlier or later.”
After expressing his firm will, Wu Shoushi saw that Jiang Baimian only smiled and didn’t comment. He immediately understood that Jiang Baimian really had no intention of exploring the new ruin.
“Then, let’s continue on our way. Pray we meet again.” Wu Shoushi politely bade farewell and returned to the gray SUV with his companion.
“Pray we meet again.” Jiang Baimian waved her hand.
‘Meeting again’ was one of the best wishes in the Ashlands. In a situation where anyone could die from hunger, disease, attacks, and natural disasters at any moment, meeting again was definitely something rare and precious.
After watching the gray SUV drive off, Jiang Baimian turned around and sighed. “What a pity... We can definitely find a lot of precious first-hand information in an undiscovered city ruin.”
Bai Chen looked north and subconsciously asked, “Are we really not going?”
Jiang Baimian smiled and asked, “Do I look like the kind of person who would say one thing and do another thing?”
As soon as she finished speaking, she saw Shang Jianyao, Bai Chen, and Long Yuehong looking at her with strange expressions.
“Haha.” She laughed dryly. “That’s a battle tactic, understand? A battle tactic.”
Before the three team members could speak, she teased Bai Chen. “Why? Is the wilderness nomad blood that burns in your body urging you to go?”
Bai Chen fell silent for a second before bowing her head slightly. “It’s mainly a force of habit, I guess. As long as one knows about such matters, every wilderness nomad will not let go of an opportunity. Compared to freezing to death in the winter due to a lack of clothes and food, there’s still hope when taking risks.”
Jiang Baimian nodded slightly and looked at Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong. “If our Old Task Force had been established for more than six months and had completed several missions, I would’ve definitely revised our plan and circled to the north of Yuelu Station.
“However, we have two rookies who have just come to the surface. The abnormalities and dangers there are obvious. It’s impossible for me to take these two rookies on an adventure and use their lives to pave the way for my hopes.”
Shang Jianyao quietly listened before suddenly saying, “You previously said that my performance was good, making you forget that I’m a rookie who has just come to the surface.”
“...What did you say? I didn’t hear you clearly.” Jiang Baimian’s smile froze on her face.
Before Shang Jianyao could repeat himself, Jiang Baimian rubbed her ear. “In short, every member of our Old Task Force is a precious resource. I won’t let you sacrifice yourselves casually.”
After saying that, she ordered Bai Chen seriously. “Take a look at the map and confirm our current location. Although we aren’t going to the newly discovered city ruin, we have to send this news back to the company. I have to find the nearest nomad settlement under our company that is equipped with a radio transceiver.
“Also, the information provided by Harris Brown and the information regarding Jingfa has to be sent back to the company.”
“Alright.” Bai Chen took out a relatively simple map.
It was only at this moment that Long Yuehong thought of asking something important. “Team Leader, have you guys settled Jingfa? Will he chase after us again?”
Jiang Baimian scoffed. “If he were going to come after me at any moment, would I still be standing here communicating with Wu Shoushi and the others here or chatting with you?”
Upon seeing Long Yuehong heave a sigh of relief, she changed the topic. “However, we haven’t settled Jingfa yet.”
Long Yuehong’s body tensed up.
Jiang Baimian smiled. “We only injured him seriously, preventing him from catching up for the time being. By the time he repairs himself, we will have long escaped his pursuit range. The Blackmarsh Wilderness is so large that we almost don’t have to worry about him finding us.”
Long Yuehong relaxed and rubbed his stomach. “I feel a little hungry.”
Lunchtime was quite some time ago. He had only stuffed half a packet of compressed biscuits into his mouth when he was influenced by Hungry Ghost Realm.
Jiang Baimian’s eyebrows twitched slightly. “Why didn’t you ask us about how we severely injured Jingfa?”
“I could roughly guess your real plan from the moment you alighted the car midway.” Long Yuehong straightened his back. “As for the exact details, I can ask after lunch.”
“A good student worth teaching.” Jiang Baimian praised him in a tone that made her appear advanced in age. “You’re smarter than I imagined.”
Long Yuehong was overjoyed and subconsciously wanted to say a few humble words.
At this moment, Shang Jianyao deliberately asked, “Team Leader, you have always found him stupid previously?”
“...” Long Yuehong’s expression collapsed.
Jiang Baimian coughed twice. “...Not really. The main reason is that he doesn’t have much experience. It’s already pretty good that he can react in time. No matter what, he has undergone genetic enhancement. His brain shouldn’t be too bad.”
Long Yuehong lowered his head and muttered to himself, “My grades are only average...”
Jiang Baimian tilted her head slightly and carefully differentiated the other party’s words.
After a few seconds, she glanced at Shang Jianyao. “Sometimes, being too smart isn’t necessarily a good thing. The chances of average people surviving are higher because they know how to follow orders and not take matters into their own hands. Besides, everyone has different strengths.”
Long Yuehong took a deep breath and nodded slowly.
At this moment, Bai Chen had already confirmed their current location and pointed at the map for Jiang Baimian to see.
“Ha, the nearest settlement is actually in the north... We should be able to reach it in the evening or tomorrow morning...” Jiang Baimian looked at the map for a while. “Fortunately, it’s still very far from Yuelu Station. There’s also a certain deviation in the direction. It won’t involve us.”
She casually closed the map and threw it to Bai Chen. “Let’s go. Our destination, Blackrat Town!”
Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong were unfamiliar with the Blackmarsh Wilderness, so they had no objections.
“Bai Chen, check the car’s condition. Long Yuehong, get some energy bars out of the trunk,” Jiang Baimian instructed as she walked to the jeep.
After Bai Chen and Long Yuehong carried out their respective tasks, Jiang Baimian slowed down, looked at the small swamp in front of her, and spoke to Shang Jianyao—who was beside her. “Why did you give a blow to Long Yuehong’s confidence? Be honest and share your true thoughts.”
Shang Jianyao also looked ahead, and the corners of his mouth curled up slightly. “I want him to leave the Old Task Force. He’s too much of a hindrance.”
Jiang Baimian didn’t respond and continued slowly walking toward the jeep.
After two seconds, she heard Shang Jianyao’s slightly deep voice ring out. “This is too dangerous for him...”
Jiang Baimian tilted her head slightly and smiled again. “I almost didn’t hear you clearly!”
She didn’t continue the topic from before and sped up before getting into the driver’s seat.
The jeep soon started moving again, heading north toward Blackrat Town.
After taking turns to finish lunch, Shang Jianyao took the initiative to ask, “What kind of place is Weed City? Where is it?”
In the passenger seat, Bai Chen turned her head and said, “It’s a city along First City’s border, at the edge of the Monk Wastelands.”
“Monk Wastelands?” Long Yuehong acutely sensed something strange with the term.
Within Pangu Biology, the corresponding geographical textbooks were very crude since many people there probably would never reach the surface their entire lives. They only briefly introduced the various large factions and labeled the most important terrain landmarks.
“It’s the area where mechanical monks are most active.” Jiang Baimian casually explained as she drove. “It’s said that the Monks Conclave’s headquarters hide the Eternal technology and the corresponding equipment in the Glazed Pure Lands. It’s somewhere in that wasteland.”
Bai Chen added, “This wasteland is located southeast of the Blackmarsh Wilderness. Anyone who wants to go to First City will pass by it as long as they don’t take a detour.”
After giving a simple introduction of the Monk Wastelands, Bai Chen continued the previous topic. “Weed City was originally a small faction in the Monk Wastelands. Later, First City expanded in the hopes of turning all the residents there into slaves.
“As a result, they fought a few battles, suffering casualties on both sides. Back then, First City had a conflict with other large factions. As such, it was impossible for them to reinforce the slave hunters here. They could only negotiate with Weed City and allow them to join First City as official citizens.
“Therefore, Weed City has a high degree of autonomy. It’s a place where Ruin Hunters are very active. The Hunter’s Guild branch there is also rather famous.”
After hearing Bai Chen’s description, Long Yuehong—who had eaten his fill—began to ask Jiang Baimian and the others about the exact details of how they dealt with Jingfa, drawing on their experience and information.
At the end of this conversation, he turned to look at Shang Jianyao. Long Yuehong couldn’t help but ask curiously and hesitantly, “What’s the name of the Awakened ability you used to make Jingfa suddenly friendly?”
He quickly added, “If it’s not convenient to answer, there’s no need to say anything.”
Shang Jianyao looked at the windshield in front of him and fell silent for a few seconds. “Inference Clowning.”