Embers Ad Infinitum - Chapter 745
Bai Chen followed Shang Jianyao’s train of thought and said, “Perhaps the person with the Buddhist ‘keepsake’ died in Renhui Hospital’s Vegetative Rehabilitation Center. The survivors either don’t know how they entered the true Tai City or managed to guess it but don’t dare to go to Renhui Hospital again. They hoped to use other methods to escape.”
Jiang Baimian tersely acknowledged her words and said in an inspired tone, “Humans are creatures of habit. After the survivors escaped Renhui Hospital and recovered from their initial panic, there’s a high chance that they chose to evacuate along the path they were most familiar with.
“When they reached the edge of the city, they should’ve realized that the exit had disappeared and was buried by the landslide scene. Then, where’s the corresponding exit, or which edge of the city did the survivors return to?”
Genava was the first to answer: “If this group of people really belongs to the scientific team that Ding Ling’s husband—Ji Qiang—was in, then from the information we previously obtained, they came from the southwest like us.”
This was the information the Old Task Force had obtained from the Salvation Army rest stop when they encountered the Asceticism Department monks.
Long Yuehong’s heart palpitated as he blurted out, “They entered the real Tai City from the place we entered? And their route of return is also the same?”
The honest Shang Jianyao scoffed. “Have you forgotten that our trip wasn’t that smooth either? We encountered a broken belt on our trip here. We relied on the military exoskeletons, Old Ge, and Big White to enter the city from that direction without taking a detour.”
Why did you label me alongside the military exoskeletons and Old Ge? You make it sound like I wasn’t wearing a military exoskeleton back then… Jiang Baimian suspected that Shang Jianyao was slandering her for being stronger than a smart bot or a military exoskeleton and that it was backed by evidence.
Long Yuehong admitted his mistake in frustration. “That’s right.”
He then suggested, “Then, let’s return to the disconnected belt and see where we can enter the city from by taking a detour.”
Jiang Baimian shook her head and said, “There’s no need to make things so complicated. Think about it. Think about it from the logic of a normal person, not Hey. What will you do when you return the way you came and discover that the exit has been destroyed and is insurmountable?”
Long Yuehong took a deep breath and calmed down. He thought for a moment and said, “Then, we will definitely choose to leave the city using another exit. How can there only be one exit in such a large city?”
At this point, his train of thought gradually became clear. “After discovering that none of the exits can leave the city, they will likely choose the one that shows the most promise. They will attempt to build a bridge by paving the road and crossing the natural divide. At the same time, they will search for nearby supermarkets and other places to gather food.”
The ‘build a bridge by paving the road’ he was referring to wasn’t literal. Instead, he was referring to a series of actions like blowing up obstacles and setting up planks to cross the trenches.
Jiang Baimian took over Long Yuehong’s words and ordered, “Therefore, what we need to do now is circle the edge of Tai City Ruin and search for a place with traces of bridge building. The survivors might very well be nearby, and there’s a chance that they are still alive.”
The Tai City residents had instantly died when the Old World was destroyed. At present, nobody seemed to have survived, so the food here wasn’t depleted.
Of course, most of the food had long rotted and was no longer suitable for human consumption thanks to the lack of electricity most of the time after decades. However, the canned food that could be preserved for a long time was enough to last a small team for two to three years.
Bai Chen turned the steering wheel and made the jeep drive to the edge of the city.
At this moment, Shang Jianyao—who abhorred evil and was responsible for ‘saving all of humanity’—said hatefully, “If it weren’t for the Eighth Research Institute’s missiles, it would be much easier for us to find them.”
Although those missiles were mainly targeted at Renhui Hospital and Tai City’s No. 1 Senior High School, deviations couldn’t be discounted. This might destroy the traces of the survivors paving roads and building bridges.
“We haven’t confirmed that it’s the Eighth Research Institute,” Jiang Baimian casually retorted. “This is only our guess. Although we believe that the possibility is very high, we can’t rule out the possibility that it was someone else.”
Shang Jianyao—who had switched personalities—chuckled. “In any case, their base is somewhere in Icefield; it happens to match. Just treat it as if they did it. Piling another crime on them doesn’t hurt.”
As he spoke, Shang Jianyao became excited. “It’s just like how they can be blamed for the destruction of Buddhism’s Holy Lands!”
Upon hearing this, Long Yuehong turned his head to look in the direction of Tai City’s No. 1 Senior High School. His emotions instantly became very complicated.
This Buddhist Holy Land ultimately didn’t escape the fate of being leveled.
Fortunately, Shang Jianyao didn’t mock him and say he was a jinx and how he had to shoot off his mouth. Instead, he pushed the blame to the Eighth Research Institute.
Yes, they did it. They were the ones who fired the missiles to destroy Renhui Hospital and Tai City’s No. 1 Senior High School! Long Yuehong slowly believed that the Eighth Research Institute was behind this.
Tai City covered a large area. Coupled with the many seriously damaged roads, the Old Task Force spent the entire morning before circling the periphery.
Apart from the parts that had been accidentally blown up by missiles and were unrecognizable, there were no traces of bridges at the other exits.
“There’s a problem with our deduction? Which part did we get wrong?” Long Yuehong retracted his gaze in disappointment.
He would rather believe that the missiles had destroyed the clues.
Jiang Baimian smiled. “It’s fine. The previous deduction was built on a few assumptions, so it’s perfectly normal for there to be mistakes. Don’t I always say that? Make bold assumptions and verify them carefully. We’ve at least eliminated some possibilities now.”
“Could it be that there were no other survivors other than the one who escaped Renhui Hospital and entered Tai City’s First High School?” Bai Chen muttered to herself.
Jiang Baimian thought for a moment and said, “It’s also possible that the other survivors encountered an accident midway and lost their lives one after another before they could attempt to build a bridge.”
“That makes things tricky,” Genava commented.
This was because finding traces of survivors in Tai City—which had been bombarded by missiles—was no different from searching for a needle in a haystack. It was possible for them to be anywhere.
“That’s right, that’s right,” Shang Jianyao echoed. “It’s possible that something happened to the survivors on their way back from Renhui Hospital, or it’s also possible that they encountered an accident while searching for another exit.”
Jiang Baimian pondered for a moment and replied, “We’ll leave it to fate. We’ll use a clumsy method now: leave Tai City and return to the disconnected belt. We’ll then take the only detour choice and drive to Renhui Hospital to see what we can discover on the way. If there’s still nothing, report to the company tomorrow that the target location has been destroyed. At the same time, inform the company that we are returning.”
“Alright!” Long Yuehong replied very bluntly. He immediately felt like he had a goal in life.
About two hours later, the Old Task Force circled back to the edge of Tai City as planned.
When the buildings that remained standing reflected in their eyes, Jiang Baimian and the others’ pupils dilated at the same time.
On the surface of a grayish-yellow high-rise building, a window and the outer walls around it were dyed red. Even from a distance, this was abnormally eye-catching.
The Old Task Force had actually been to this entrance before, but they had only checked if there were any traces of paved roads or bridges without looking at the corresponding buildings from the direction one took when entering the city.
“It was splashed red with paint.” Genava made a slightly synthetic sound a few seconds later.
If it was blood, it was impossible for it not to oxidize and turn black unless it had just splattered.
Bai Chen thought for a moment and said, “It feels like a signal for help…”
When some wilderness nomads were trapped somewhere, they often chose to use red and purple to attract attention because they didn’t know words or because they weren’t sure if people who passed by could understand words.
Long Yuehong’s heart palpitated. “Did the survivors do it? They entered the city from here, believing that the people who come later will also enter the city from here.”
Therefore, they chose to create a distress signal here.
Clap! Clap! Clap!
Shang Jianyao clapped for Long Yuehong, something he rarely did.
Jiang Baimian thought for a few seconds and said, “Let’s go take a look. Be careful—prepare according to the standards of us possibly encountering a New World node, powerful mutated creatures, or Superior Heartless.”
Before long, the Old Task Force arrived below the building. Jiang Baimian, Shang Jianyao, and Bai Chen wore military exoskeletons. Long Yuehong and Genava wore bionic artificial intelligence armor.
Bai Chen and Long Yuehong then went to the opposite building and found a spot suitable for sniping and providing cover.
Genava remained downstairs. On the one hand, he guarded the jeep while preparing to provide support to his teammates.
The fully-armed Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao climbed the stairs and successfully arrived at the 32nd floor where the red window was.
The corresponding door was ajar, and a putrid smell wafted out.
Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao looked at each other and shook their heads at the same time. From their perspective, they confirmed that there were no humans inside—living humans.
With the military exoskeleton helmet having antitoxin filters, the two of them boldly pushed open the door and entered the room.
This was an ordinary residence; there were tables, chairs, a sofa, and a television.
Beside the red window was a computer table, and on the table was a computer covered in stains.
On the chair facing the door opposite the table sat a corpse in dark-colored clothes. He lay on the computer table, his neck and head reduced to bones.
Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao moved over step by step. When they approached, they realized that a dark-green canvas backpack was between the corpse’s thighs and waist. On the ground beside it was a Ubei 7.
Apart from this one, there were no other corpses around.