Chapter 531 Dawn of a mutation
On the night the Qing Consortium completely lost track of the Experimentals, no one noticed a Japanese creeper vine growing in a winding fashion along a wall in the corner of Stronghold 61 where the battle between the A-rank hitmen and the Pyro Company took place.
That creeper vine had been planted a long time ago, and the walls of the residences on the road were already fully covered by it.
Whenever someone passed by here in the summertime, they would get a refreshing feeling just by looking at the lush, green walls.
On the day of the battle, some members of the Pyro Company’s Dusk team had been killed under that wall. After they died, blood from their corpses seeped into the soil and mixed with the creeper vine’s roots.
When night fell, a fat rat crawled out of the sewers and cautiously scavenged for food. It was attracted to the creeper vine where the scent of blood was still lingering from before.
However, the creeper vine seemed to come alive as it reached out a small tendril and attempted to touch the rat with its feeler.
The rat hopped two steps back in fear and looked cautiously at the creeper vine’s feeler as though it were a human hand. But when the rat realized that it was only a plant, it became less wary and approached it again.
The creeper vine’s soft feeler caressed the rat on its head, and it felt like the plant was very curious.
This was probably the first time it was seriously trying to understand this world in its own way. As the feeler caressed the rat’s head like it was helping to scratch an itch, the rat squinted its eyes in enjoyment.
But a moment later, the creeper vine’s feeler suddenly splayed open and spiked into the rat’s body. In just an instant, the rat was pierced all the way through and dragged into the dense foliage of the creeper vine.
Before it died, the rat only had time to let out a squeak before falling silent. Meanwhile, the creeper vine spread across the wall still looked ever so quiet and beautiful.
The tour group arrived at Stronghold 78 early the next morning. After getting their tires patched, they had immediately continued their journey. Just as Ren Xiaosu had guessed, the tour group reached Stronghold 78 before the vehicle recovery team even set off.
Fang Zhi finally took Zhou Yingxue’s suggestion and purchased another two off-road vehicles to temporarily store their supplies and vehicle maintenance tools. He even hired a local mechanic at a high salary to follow the tour group.
They had really been terrified by the incident last night.
What if they had not encountered that “repair team” but an even more ruthless group of robbers? Fang Zhi knew all too well that if they were stranded in a wilderness without rules, most men would be very interested in laying their hands on the female singer, Li Ran.
When they arrived at the stronghold, Li Ran brought Zhou Yingxue along with her wherever she went this time, and the two women looked to be as close as sisters. If Ren Xiaosu did not know what it was really like behind the scenes, he would probably have fallen for it.
Li Ran took Zhou Yingxue to various events and banquets as she did not want Zhou Yingxue to have any free time for herself.
At the same time, since Zhou Yingxue was participating in the events with Li Ran, Ren Xiaosu would have to tag along as her “assistant.”
At this moment, Li Ran proudly told Zhou Yingxue, “The main reason I came to the Zhou Consortium for a concert tour was to meet up with a movie director at Stronghold 73. I think he’s filming a new movie soon, and if I manage to get the lead actress role, I’ll push him to make you the supporting actress.”
Li Ran’s words made Zhou Yingxue roll her eyes. She knew that Li Ran was only trying to show off in front of her. Otherwise, she would not mention something like that for no reason.
However, Ren Xiaosu asked, “Are there still people making movies?”
“Of course. They’re even in color,” Li Ran said proudly.
Ren Xiaosu had only been living in the Central Plains’ strongholds for a short while, so he did not know there were outdoor cinemas showing movies in many of the strongholds here. There were projectionists who would specially set up the screens and use a projector to play the movies.
Every time there was a movie screening, large groups of men, women, seniors, and children would gather in front of the screens, while vendors selling cigarettes, soft drinks, and edible seeds would come around to peddle their wares.
Such scenes did not exist in the Southwest and Northwest and only happened here in the Central Plains.
But when Zhou Yingxue was attending a banquet, she received some texts from the Anjing House. However, the mission this time was a little different.
“A large number of the Pyro Company members have already sneaked into Stronghold 73 and are accompanied by some Riders. We suspect the targets are searching for the Pre-Cataclysm site of a Pyro Company research lab. The location of the site is in the vicinity of East Lake.
“This is a very valuable lab that likely conducted research in the field of life sciences. A technological breakthrough was achieved before The Cataclysm, and the results can be deployed to a wide range of medical fields.
“There is no quota of participants for this mission. The reward for killing a member of the Pyro Company’s Midnight squad is 150,000 yuan, while each member of the Dusk squad killed will get a reward of 500,000 yuan.
“Only successful hunters will be eligible for the trials next spring.”
As they stood on the lawn outside the banquet grounds, Ren Xiaosu and Zhou Yingxue were stunned by the texts for this mission. Ren Xiaosu wondered, “Has the Anjing House ever assigned such a vicious mission in the past? This is as good as asking all of the A-rank hitmen to hunt down the Pyro Company members.”
Ren Xiaosu took out a C-rank cell phone he had recently stolen. To his surprise, he saw this phone had also received the same texts! So the Anjing House had issued this mission to everyone! Even C-rank hitmen were eligible to take part!
“The most ruthless thing about this mission is that it was sent as a group text.” Zhou Yingxue said, “The Anjing House definitely knows that many of their cell phones have landed in the hands of people with ulterior motives…. Master, I’m not insinuating that you’re one of them.”
Ren Xiaosu raised an eyebrow. “Go on.”
“There should be one or two of the Anjing House’s cell phones in the hands of the various forces. Although they can’t receive the A-rank mission texts, they can still occasionally guard against the assassination missions targeting some of their important members.” Zhou Yingxue said, “Previously, someone from the Zhou Consortium was targeted through a B-rank mission, and all of their crimes were even listed. But before the hitmen could arrive, that person was arrested and interrogated by the Zhou Consortium themselves. So these group texts were sent out with the intention of reaching those forces. They’re hoping more people will show up and stop the Pyro Company.”
“Mhm.” Ren Xiaosu nodded. “If it’s simply a mission to kill Pyro Company personnel, it probably won’t tempt would-be hitmen into joining. However, the lab research that can be sold at astronomical prices will be enough to change their minds. I’m afraid that the Zhou Consortium themselves will also be moved by the offer. After all, this lab lies within their territory. The texts emphasize the value of the lab, yet the Anjing House has not shown any interest in the lab research at all. Curious.”
This showed the Anjing House clearly knew there were people other than hitmen who had obtained their cell phones, but they just didn’t care. All they did was to ensure the A-rank hitmen were issued with cell phones that only they could access.
Actually, they had deliberately allowed others to obtain the cell phones so they could upset the applecart at the critical moment!
“But why would the Riders go with the Pyro Company to search for the site of the research lab? How did these two organizations get involved with each other?” Ren Xiaosu wondered.