Embers Ad Infinitum - Chapter 691 - Entering the Borders
Chapter 691: Entering the Borders
“Lunatics?” Not only was Shang Jianyao not disappointed, but his eyes lit up. “The correct term should be ‘mentally ill.’”
Ding Ling waved her hand. “I’m used to it. In short, their brains are abnormal. Ignore them.”
Shang Jianyao continued asking, “How abnormal are they?”
Upon seeing that October Xue and the others were also a little interested in this question, Ding Ling simply explained, “There’s something wrong with their brains. In the words of our organization, they have some persecution complex. They keep having the feeling that someone wants to harm them and control them.”
“What’s the reason?” Shang Jianyao was rather curious.
Ding Ling pointed at her left chest. “They were scared out of their wits by the Heartless disease. They suspect that most of the Supplies Management Committee’s commissioners have already degenerated and are in cahoots with some factions that lurk in the darkness while being responsible for the Old World’s destruction. They secretly use mind controllers to influence everyone, making them obey unconsciously. Even their thoughts are no longer free.”
Mind controller… They are indeed sick… Long Yuehong had only seen such things in Old World entertainment.
Ding Ling continued, “Once anyone notices that something is amiss and has the intention to resist, their ability to think will be wiped away. All that’s left is biological instinct, which results in them becoming Heartless. Yes, that’s how they explain the cause of the Heartless disease.”
Mind controllers, erasure of thought, Heartless disease… Jiang Baimian had to admit that those Salvation Army members had creative minds. Furthermore, their theory sounded plausible and couldn’t be completely denied.
This was because the logic behind this claim was self-consistent. However, the existence of a mind controller was a whole other matter. Now, nobody had discovered the source of the Heartless disease that could provide a strong retort. Even the Old Task Force only felt that this had a certain connection with the New World and the darkness, but they lacked sufficient evidence.
“Is that so…” Shang Jianyao looked like he was about to be convinced. “Then, why do they put the aluminum pots over their heads?”
Ding Ling said with uncertainty, “Maybe the mind controller controls the human brain via affecting brain waves. Only by placing the entire head under the aluminum pot’s protection can one maintain the freedom of thought and see the truth of the world. Therefore, they wear aluminum pots at all times, even when sleeping at night.”
They are indeed mentally ill… Long Yuehong was once again convinced.
Shang Jianyao clapped. “What excellent behavioral art! Besides…”
He turned to look at Genava. “This is essentially the same as you wearing an electromagnetic shield.”
“Indeed.” Genava was very honest.
Long Yuehong shivered and quickly asked, “Then, did any of them contract the Heartless disease?”
“Definitely,” Ding Ling replied very bluntly.
Long Yuehong heaved a sigh of relief, vexed that he had been tricked by Shang Jianyao again without realizing it.
Bai Chen thought about this from a different perspective. “With your Salvation Army’s style, why do you allow these people to walk the streets openly and not send them to a mental hospital?”
“They keep promoting the idea that if they are targeted, it means that their suspicions are correct: most of the Supplies Management Committee’s commissioners have already degenerated. They want to use mind control to forever dominate the world generation after generation.” Ding Ling scoffed. “In any case, they only have relatively unique actions in this regard. It doesn’t affect their work. Furthermore, some of them are hidden relatively well. They won’t directly wear aluminum pots. Instead, they will get aluminum foil and sew it into the lining of their caps. They look like normal people.”
Jiang Baimian nodded thoughtfully. “There has to be a source for such thoughts, right? You didn’t find the person who first spread this theory and throw them in prison?”
“I’m not too sure about that.” Ding Ling turned around and pointed at the ten-story, gray high-rise building behind her. “It’s getting late. I’ll get you a pass first.”
Long Yuehong focused his gaze and saw a few vertical signboards with black words on a white background hanging by the building’s door. “Ubei Administrative Committee.”
“Security Inspection Office.”
As Ding Ling led Jiang Baimian and the others into the building, she casually explained, “Actually, most of us don’t need to pay taxes. The corresponding portion is deducted when the negotiables and change are handed out. The tax office is set up for people like you who enter our borders—cross-border traders and Ruin Hunters. They belong to the same system as the entry and security inspection offices.”
Jiang Baimian inhaled lightly and said, “Then, won’t the supplies we bring in have to be taxed?”
This was much stricter than First City.
Ding Ling laughed. “That’s why I got you to exchange a large portion of supplies for negotiables.”
It’s good to have someone familiar with the ways… Long Yuehong sighed with emotion.
Jiang Baimian then asked about something else. She pointed at Genava and said, “Robots should be controlled products. Will they really not affect the distribution of a pass?”
“It’s not a big problem,” Ding Ling replied confidently. “You just have to add one more entry to the pass. You can’t bring this robot into the settlement lest it suddenly becomes uncontrollable and leads to a tragedy. As for Ubei, there are many robots.”
What she meant was that Ubei had the strength to suppress any rampaging robot.
“That’s good, that’s good…” Jiang Baimian heaved a sigh of relief.
Since robots were fine, there shouldn’t be any problems with the rest.
Shang Jianyao looked at Genava sympathetically. “You’re so pitiful.”
“Sigh,” Genava echoed cooperatively.
As they conversed, Ding Ling got her subordinates to leave and treat it as a vacation. She then led Shang Jianyao and the others into a hall on the side of the first floor.
Here hung the signboard ‘Entry Office.’
Ding Ling didn’t greet the staff present and directly entered an office deep in the aisle. She smiled at the elder inside and said, “Grandpa Hong, there are a few Ruin Hunters here who want to get a pass.”
The elder looked to be in his sixties or seventies. His white hair was sparse, his eyes were sharp, and he had a stiff bearing. He wore neat blue clothes that represented an administrative officer instead of a military officer.
He seemed to only notice that someone had approached when she greeted him. He glanced at the door and nodded at Ding Ling. “Let them in.”
Ding Ling then introduced October Xue and the others. “This is Director Hong, Director Hong from the Entry Office. He also holds the position of Director of the Tax Office, an old comrade of my deceased grandfather.”
Shang Jianyao was immediately excited. He took a few steps forward and said, “Are you an old Salvation Army warrior who experienced the Chaotic Era and the early years of the New Calendar?”
Hong Guangming sized up Shang Jianyao warily. “I was born in the early Chaotic Era and joined later. I guess I’ve experienced a lot.”
Shang Jianyao straightened his back and pressed his right hand to his left chest. “For all of humanity!”
Upon seeing Hong Guangming’s suspicious expression, Jiang Baimian quickly explained, “He’s a fanatical admirer of your Salvation Army. He’s a big fan of what all of you did in the late Chaotic Era and the early years of the New Calendar.”
Hong Guangming heaved a sigh of relief and stood up. “Since you’re brought here by Little Ling, give me a simple run-through of your origins and goals. I’ll check what supplies you brought and if you have any weapons that can cause mass destruction. Then, I’ll give you a pass.”
He chuckled. “If it were anyone else, they would have to go to the Security Inspection Office first.”
After he stood up, Jiang Baimian realized that his left arm and right leg were clearly abnormal. It seemed like he had transplanted a mechanical prosthetic limb of an unknown model. This could be seen from the iron-black color on his left palm and his actions of getting up.
Upon sensing her gaze, Hong Guangming didn’t get angry and smiled. “I lost it in a battle, just like your companion.”
Long Yuehong’s mechanical arm was rather obvious.
Shang Jianyao cast a respectful gaze at him.
“Sorry to trouble you, Grandpa Hong.” Ding Ling made way for him.
Hong Guangming limped over.
The problem with him wasn’t his mechanical right leg but his left human leg. It seemed to be unable to keep up with the mechanical right leg’s rhythm due to its age, and it appeared a little incongruous.
Ding Ling didn’t attempt to help Hong Guangming. She also signaled for Shang Jianyao and the others not to do so as if she was afraid of injuring his self-esteem.
Getting injured in battle was a medal he wore proudly, but getting old was another matter.
After leaving the Ubei Administrative Committee building and arriving beside the Old Task Force’s jeep, Hong Guangming looked at Jiang Baimian and said, “You can tell me your origins and goals.”
Jiang Baimian simply repeated what she had said to Ding Ling and emphasized, “We are really wanted by First City.”
“The Hunter’s Guild does have a bounty for them…” Ding Ling helped testify.
“Wanted by First City for plotting a major plot?” Hong Guangming smiled casually. “What plot?”
“That’s an excuse they came up with.” Shang Jianyao was just about to answer truthfully when Jiang Baimian beat him to it. “In fact, we stole some information and later killed some of their people during the pursuit.”
Hong Guangming glanced at them again and joked, “Don’t tell me you really carry weapons capable of mass destruction?”
As he spoke, he signaled for Long Yuehong to open the trunk for him to examine.
“Some canned food… A single-man combat rocket launcher—heh heh, this doesn’t count. Its power is limited…” Hong Guangming checked them one by one and pointed at the four crates inside. “What’s in these?”
“Three military exoskeletons and two sets of bionic artificial intelligence armor,” Shang Jianyao replied honestly.
Amidst Ding Ling’s exasperation, Hong Guangming laughed. “As expected of a wanted criminal whose value is in the tens of thousands of Oray. Open it for me to see.”
Long Yuehong, Bai Chen, Shang Jianyao, and Genava each dragged out a crate and opened it on the spot.
The scene suddenly fell into extreme silence.
Ding Ling stared blankly and suddenly felt that it made sense for this team to be wanted. Could it be that they really stole three military exoskeletons and two sets of bionic artificial intelligence armor from First City?
Hong Guangming was someone who had seen the world and experienced life and death. He quickly recovered and looked at Jiang Baimian and the others. “You guys really aren’t simple… These equipment are all controlled items.”
Ding Ling suddenly came to her senses. She took a few steps forward and came to Hong Guangming’s side. She then took out a stack of notes and suppressed her voice. “Grandpa Hong, make an exception. They really just want to explore the ruins in Icefield.”
These negotiables were equivalent to the profits she had earned from her previous transaction with the Old Task Force.
Hong Guangming checked the negotiables and nodded slightly. “Since you are putting it that way.”
He then warned the Old Task Force, “Well, you can’t bring these items into the settlement. I’ll write it clearly on the pass.”
Jiang Baimian heaved a sigh of relief and subconsciously glanced at Shang Jianyao.
Shang Jianyao’s expression was blank as if he had become a statue.