Chapter 13: A Sense of Ritual
Translator: virtual group Editor: virtual group
In the blink of an eye, two months passed.
In the elevator that led to the 647th floor, Long Yuehong—who was wearing a polyester shirt—looked at his reflection on the elevator’s metal wall and gestured at his chest. “This high-intensity training is really useful. I think I can defeat five of my just-graduated self. No, three.”
Furthermore, his figure had become rather good. He also let out a much stronger masculine vibe.
Shang Jianyao looked at the door’s crack and said, “Sigh, I’m only 1.75 meters tall after genetic enhancement. I’m not handsome either. My grades are only average…”
Long Yuehong was speechless, unsure what kind of expression he should use in response. He took a deep breath and exhaled heavily. “Seriously, I have been eating meat every day for the past two months. Why didn’t I grow by a centimeter?”
As they spoke, the two of them walked out of the elevator and familiarly turned into Room 14.
They still didn’t know what training was in store for them this morning, and they couldn’t determine if they were going to change into the Security Department’s uniform or wear clothes more suitable for combat. Therefore, they could only report to Jiang Baimian before heading to the changing room in the bathhouse.
Jiang Baimian and Bai Chen had already arrived. At this moment, they were gathered around the brownish-red desk that belonged to the former’s office and staring at something seriously.
“Good morning, Team Leader!” Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong were already used to yelling.
Jiang Baimian looked up and waved. “Come here, come here. I have something to tell you.”
Long Yuehong glanced at Shang Jianyao and realized that even he didn’t seem to know what was going on.
The two of them walked over and saw a low-precision map on Jiang Baimian’s brownish-red-painted desk.
Jiang Baimian punched the map and smiled. “Today’s training program is: Field training!”
“Huh?” Long Yuehong exclaimed. He knew that field training would come sooner or later, but he never imagined that there would be no warning signs and that there would be no time for him to prepare!
Shang Jianyao didn’t say anything, but the smile on his face couldn’t be concealed no matter what.
Jiang Baimian looked around and said, “I originally planned on starting in two days. However, it just so happens that the higher-ups have given us a small mission. We need to go to a nomad settlement in the wilderness to deliver a water filter chip. We might as well set off today. Bai Chen, tell them our final destination and general route.”
Bai Chen—who was still wearing her gray scarf—held the edge of the table with one hand and rapped a spot on the map with the other. “This is Qifeng Town, about 300 kilometers from the company. If there are any repaired highways, there won’t be any danger in the middle. We can take turns driving and reach it in a day.
“Unfortunately, there are no intact roads in the Blackmarsh Wilderness. Perhaps there’s a small section of the road, originating from the Old World, that remains well-preserved along the way. It just has a lot of weeds growing on it. There are certain cracks in the road, but that’s just an exception.”
Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong knew that the Blackmarsh Wilderness referred to a dangerous area outside the company. It covered a large area. The northernmost area was connected to the icy plain. The northeast area bordered the Salvation Army’s territory. To the east was the White Knights’ sphere of influence. If one kept going southeast, one would enter First City.
As for the south… there was another stretch of wilderness and several mountain ranges.
Bai Chen continued explaining, “You should be able to tell that the Great Swamp is between Qifeng Town and us. Many places are labeled with high-risk symbols. According to my experience, these places either have no paths at all and are pure swamps, filled with mutated, terrifying monsters, or a monster horde settlement. Otherwise, they are the Old World’s ruins—the kind that spells no return.
“If we take away the heavily polluted areas, there aren’t many routes we can choose. Furthermore, we have to eliminate the ones that the company often uses due to the installation of two outposts. Otherwise, we won’t be able to achieve the goal of wilderness training.
“After combining the above conditions and the Great Swamp’s geographical situation, I’ve planned two routes. They both require us to traverse the Great Swamp back and forth. The travel time for both routes is about the same. It will take a week or even two weeks for us to reach Qifeng Town. The exact amount of time will still depend on the weather.
“Which route do you prefer? Or do you want to circle the Great Swamp from the periphery? That will take longer, and the danger level might not be much lower. Oh, I don’t know much about the Great Swamp. I’ve never been to many places. You can give me other suggestions.”
Before Jiang Baimian could speak, Shang Jianyao took a step forward and pointed at one of the paths. “This one is good.”
“Why?” Bai Chen subconsciously asked. Then, she deeply regretted asking.
“The lines are smooth, and the shape is beautiful.” Shang Jianyao had a sincere expression.
Bai Chen turned to look at her team leader, hoping that she could ‘do her justice.’
Jiang Baimian stroked her chin and said, “I agree with Shang Jianyao’s choice. Since there’s no qualitative difference between the two paths, I’ll definitely choose the better-looking one. It’s decided then!”
After saying that, she looked at Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong and pointed at her electronic watch. “You have 15 minutes to prepare.”
“Just 15 minutes?” Long Yuehong’s face scrunched up.
“14 minutes 55 seconds,” Jiang Baimian looked at her electronic watch and replied without raising her head.
Long Yuehong immediately turned around and chased after Shang Jianyao’s back. “Hey, wait for me!”
The two of them quickly entered the nearby bathhouse’s changing room and opened their lockers. As they were covered in sweat from training every day, they had placed many clothes here so that it was easier to change.
Within the company, due to the lack of sunlight and the cold temperatures at night, the employees were unable to dry their clothes. They were all taken away by the Training Safeguard Department for washing and drying before sending them back. (Small personal items could be hung above their sinks or have a basin placed below to collect the water droplets).
Shang Jianyao took out a standard Security Department camouflage backpack. He unzipped it and stuffed one of the uniforms inside. He then placed the yellowish soap he had been issued for combined washing of hair and body into a small plastic bag and threw it into his backpack.
After putting away his toothpaste, toothbrush, personal items, and other miscellaneous items, Shang Jianyao quickly took off his clothes and threw them into the locker.
While wearing only a pair of underpants, Shang Jianyao immediately took out the one remaining gray uniform and quickly put it on. After bending down to fasten the shoelaces of his leather boots, Shang Jianyao straightened his body, walked to the half-body mirror, and straightened his top.
In the mirror, his eyebrows were straight, and his brown eyes were bright. His black hair was neat, and his face was deeply contoured and stiff. Coupled with the well-designed Security Department uniform that helped him exude a soldier’s bearing, Shang Jianyao looked sunny and strong.
While looking at his reflection, Shang Jianyao slowly took out a name tag from his pocket and wore it on his left chest. The name tag was red, and two golden Ashlands words were embossed on its surface: ‘Pangu Biology.’
After leaving the changing room, Shang Jianyao waited for two minutes. When Long Yuehong was done, they returned to Room 14.
Long Yuehong glanced at Shang Jianyao, only to take a second glance. Finally, he couldn’t help but say, “Don’t you think there’s anything different about me?”
Shang Jianyao glanced at him but didn’t say anything.
Long Yuehong raised his arm and said, “I’m not nervous! Haven’t you realized that I’m not nervous at all? In the past, I would definitely be scared and pessimistic. But I think I can handle it now since it’s just field training. The past two months of training have really been useful.”
Shang Jianyao slowed down and sized Long Yuehong up. Suddenly, he smiled. “Your legs are shaking.”
“…” Long Yuehong’s expression collapsed.
Shang Jianyao ignored him and walked towards Room 14.
Long Yuehong snapped back to reality and looked down at his legs. “I’m not shaking! I’m not shaking!” With this interlude, he found that he didn’t feel nervous at all.
The two of them quickly returned to Room 14. Jiang Baimian’s gaze swept past and landed on Shang Jianyao’s left chest. She raised her eyebrows and said, “There’s no need to wear a name tag. It’s not a company-level operation. Furthermore, in a situation where there are very few people, name tags only bring danger.
“The bandits and nomads in the Ashlands don’t care if we are from a large faction. Sometimes, if they can’t plunder anything, it might mean death for them that very day. Thus, it’s meaningless for them to consider the serious consequences of attacking a large faction’s member.”
Shang Jianyao nodded gently and said loudly, “It gives a sense of ritual!”
Jiang Baimian rubbed her temples. “…Take it off after we leave the company. Let’s set off now.”
Shang Jianyao, Bai Chen, and Long Yuehong carried the same type of camouflage bags and followed her to the elevator area.
After entering the elevator, Jiang Baimian took out her electronic card and swiped it. She pressed the number ‘650.’
In just a few seconds, the elevator finished its ascent and opened the door to the concourse and hall.
The Pangu Biology underground building’s 650th floor was the floor closest to the surface. There were almost no signs of people moving freely here. There were only silver-white metal walls, an aisle separated by heavy doors, and employees from the Security Department holding weapons.
Jiang Baimian swiped her electronic card again and again, opening the heavy metal doors one after another.
She led Shang Jianyao and the others through a long aisle and arrived at the other side of the 650th floor.
During this process, several doors would scan the cardholder’s iris and body to determine that they weren’t an imposter. For the final door, one was even required to input a password.
At the end of the corridor was a row of elevators. Jiang Baimian randomly chose an elevator and swiped her card before pressing the metal button for ‘Surface.’
The elevator slowly went up. In front of Shang Jianyao, Long Yuehong, and the others was a wide square with a metal dome and steel frame.
Jiang Baimian smiled and introduced them to the place. “The parking lot.”
Not only were there all kinds of cars parked here, but there were also tanks and missile vehicles. They were neatly arranged in rows with no end in sight.
This deeply shocked Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong.
Jiang Baimian quickly found the car assigned to her—a grayish-green, four-seater jeep with high ground clearance and large wheels. It looked very imposing.
Jiang Baimian opened the trunk and pointed to the left. “This is the weapon for this field training session. It’s the company’s standard 9mm pistol. Its name is Ice Moss. It’s a replica of First City’s Red River. Such rounds are the most common and easiest to resupply.”
The Ice Moss pistol was silvery-white in color, and its handle had an anti-slip pattern.
Jiang Baimian continued speaking. “Everyone will receive one. Also, everyone will receive one United 202. These two are assault rifles that you know about—the company’s standard Berserker. They use 5.56 mm rounds…
“This is an Orange Company assault rifle. It can be used as a sniper rifle if it’s equipped with a scope… This is a grenade launcher, nicknamed Tyrant… These are all the weapons. The rounds are also here. Equip yourself with the pistols and carry a few cartridges on yourself.”
Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong were used to all kinds of weapons from their recent training and could not be more familiar with them. They calmly picked up an Ice Moss and United 202 each and hung them on their belts.
Jiang Baimian pointed at the cardboard box on the right. “Military canned food, energy bars, and compressed biscuits. These are our supplies. Heh heh, they definitely won’t be able to last us until we reach Qifeng Town. The rest will need to be acquired in the wilderness. This is part of our training.”
“Yes, Team Leader!” Bai Chen, Shang Jianyao, and the others were not surprised at all.
“Alright, get in the car.” Jiang Baimian waved her hand valiantly.
As Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong did not know how to drive yet, the two ladies sat in the front row and prepared to take turns driving. They planned on letting the two men learn how to drive in a more open area.
Amidst a simulated sound, Jiang Baimian drove the four-seater jeep, allowing it to pass through multiple checkpoints and segregation gates in the parking lot.
After a while, Jiang Baimian pointed ahead with her chin. “That’s the last door.”
It was a two-paned silver-white door. Along the way, nearly 20 Security Department employees guarded it.
After a last round of inspection, Jiang Baimian drove the jeep and rushed towards the metal door.
At this moment, Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong couldn’t help but tense up and hold their breaths. This was the first time they were going to the surface since they were born.
As the jeep approached, the silver door opened backward bit by bit.
Golden rays of light suddenly shone in. It was not as white as the solar lamps or as yellow as the light from candles.
Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong shrunk their bodies at the same time and raised their right hands to cover their eyes.
The light was a little blinding.