Embers Ad Infinitum - BestLightNovel.com
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Long Yuehong and Bai Chen hid the gray SUV in the forest beside a necessary road to the Zhao family's manor.
They heaved a sigh of relief when they saw the military-green jeep drive over.
Shang Jianyao rolled down the window and waved at his two companions. “Done!”
“Where are the people who captured the Anti-intellectualism Church members?” Bai Chen asked in surprise.
She and Long Yuehong had heard explosions from the manor by the Taiwei River, but it was in a different direction from the Zhao family manor.
Shang Jianyao sighed pretentiously. “We didn't win, nor did they lose.”
So it's a draw… This thought subconsciously flashed across Long Yuehong's mind, but after careful thought, he realized that Shang Jianyao meant something else.
“Did the Anti-intellectualism Church succeed?” Long Yuehong asked as he walked to the halted jeep.
Jiang Baimian pushed open the door and alighted. She nodded slightly. “In a sense, yes.”
Upon seeing Bai Chen and Long Yuehong approaching, she suddenly stretched out her right hand and made a 'stop' gesture.
Jiang Baimian then smiled. “We later encountered the real Father. If that's a rare ability, it should be him. Therefore, Shang Jianyao and I extracted information from Old Ge on the way and compared our memories to make sure that nothing had been secretly tampered with. To be safe, you guys should also compare.”
Bai Chen and Long Yuehong also stored their key memories in Genava's body in case of emergencies.
Bai Chen had no objections. She took out a portable computer from her tactical backpack and connected it to Genava with a data cable.
Jiang Baimian threw her computer to Long Yuehong so that he and Bai Chen could proceed in parallel. After all, Genava still had many ports.
After downloading the backup memories, Long Yuehong completed the decompression with his pa.s.sword and slowly browsed through the content.
“Shang Jianyao is a cla.s.smate and friend who grew up with me. Although he always likes to mock me and agitate me, making me want to beat him up, he's still quite nice. Most of the time, those jokes are filled with kindness…” Long Yuehong's expression suddenly turned strange when he scanned the memories.
His face gradually warped, revealing a gloomy bearing.
“No, that's not right…” Long Yuehong said with difficulty as if he were fighting someone. “He's clearly an annoying b.a.s.t.a.r.d who's insensitive to other people's feelings and dignity. I can't wait to kill him…”
Toward the end, he finally figured out what to use as a benchmark. He bent down, propped his hands on his knees, and panted heavily. “I-I've been 'hypnotized.' Huff—Or some of my memories have been tampered with!”
Bai Chen's expression gradually turned cold as she looked at Jiang Baimian and slowly said, “W-why would I be jealous of you? I'm jealous of your height, your beauty, your abilities, and your ability to consider everyone's emotions and get along well with everyone… I-I clearly should…”
“Should what?” Shang Jianyao asked curiously.
Just as he said that, Jiang Baimian pulled him back, indicating that he shouldn't ask random questions.
Bai Chen didn't answer Shang Jianyao. Her expression slowly returned to normal, but she still didn't speak quickly. “Some of the emotions in my memories have been tampered with.”
“And you and Little Red didn't sense it?” Jiang Baimian asked seriously.
Bai Chen recalled and said, “We were waiting here to receive you. From time to time, we'd see cars pa.s.sing by… Later, a hunter who was chasing a rabbit from the other side of the forest came close to us… He didn't speak to us, nor did he get too close. He was about ten meters away or a little further… Long Yuehong and I were wary of him. I don't remember us looking at each other…”
Jiang Baimian directly asked, “Do you still remember what he looks like?”
Long Yuehong and Bai Chen carefully recalled for more than ten seconds before they said in horror—to varying degrees, “I don't remember!”
“His looks were very blurry.”
Jiang Baimian nodded slightly and said, “From the looks of it, the real Father has indeed taken action personally. If he's a little stronger than back in Weed City, he should be able to use Hypnosis from that distance or memory tampering, which has a range that we aren't aware of.”
During his machinations against Xu Liyan in Weed City, the real Father had exposed the fact that Hypnosis had to be done at close range. Jingnian—the mechanical monk—came to a conclusion that its range was approximately four to six meters.
Without waiting for Bai Chen and Long Yuehong's response, Jiang Baimian revealed a thoughtful expression. “I think it's more likely to be Hypnosis. Memory tampering is clearly stronger, so the restrictions should be greater. Its effects shouldn't happen so easily. Your memories of the distance back then might be a little off.”
Long Yuehong rejoiced when he heard that. “Fortunately, we made the necessary preparations. Otherwise, it would've been troublesome.”
Shang Jianyao looked around and made a shus.h.i.+ng gesture. “Hush. The real Father might still be nearby.”
While Long Yuehong was shocked, Jiang Baimian cursed Shang Jianyao. “Don't scare Little Red. He might really shoot you in the back one day! Look, weren't the things you did in the past used?”
Shang Jianyao didn't mind and smiled. “It seems like the real Father truly hates us.”
“It might just be in pa.s.sing,” Long Yuehong subconsciously retorted.
He then saw Genava shake his head.
“No.” Jiang Baimian then said, “He's indeed targeting us. I suspect that he appeared near Iron Medallion Street and was secretly observing us. He knew that we split up. One team headed for the manor, and the other provided support. Otherwise, it's impossible for him to take action in such an orderly manner.
“He first found an opportunity to 'hypnotize' you and tamper with a portion of your memories. Then, he used the fact that we had to come over to rendezvous with you and hid by the side of the road in advance to attempt to deal with us using his best techniques. If he had succeeded, we might've died back then or become his 'servants.' We might've helped him do things. Fortunately, we have Old Ge and won't fall for his tricks.
“He didn't have absolute confidence in his offensive plan. Therefore, he hypnotized you in advance and made you his contingency. Think about it. If we feel that nothing had happened because we survived the attack and became careless, a few words from Shang Jianyao and I might incite your killing intent on the way back. Apart from defending against ourselves, the hardest to guard against are our companions.”
Bai Chen nodded slightly. “When fighting an enemy like the real Father, I'm not afraid that he will come with great fanfare. I'm just worried that we might brush past him and unknowingly fall into his trap.”
“If he dares to come with great fanfare, I can knock him down five times!” Shang Jianyao shouted as if he were agitating the real Father—who might still be hiding in the surrounding area—since he couldn't sense anything.
His voice then returned to normal. “Old Ge can knock him down 50 times.”
Robots didn't suffer from tricks like Hypnosis or memory tampering.
Jiang Baimian smiled and sighed. “The real Father probably knew that we spoiled his plans in Weed City. After discovering that we were involved with the Zhao family's manor, he conveniently planted a trap for us.”
“That's right.” Long Yuehong felt a lingering fear.
After experiencing everything in Weed City, Redstone Collection, and Tarnan and obtaining many exoskeleton devices and Genava—a smart bot companion—he originally felt that the Old Task Force could do whatever they wanted in most of the Ashlands. As long as they didn't provoke a proper army or the various religions' core forces, it wouldn't be a problem. Bandits or gangs didn't pose a threat.
Now, it seemed like just the real Father had almost wiped out the Old Task Force.
“We can't just let it pa.s.s.” Shang Jianyao didn't appear depressed and expressed his determination.
“Yes.” Jiang Baimian thought for a moment and looked at Long Yuehong and Bai Chen. “Are there any problems with your current emotions? Don't be afraid. Frankly speaking, we still have the Destiny Pearl as a backup. When the time comes, we can just get Shang Jianyao to do some clean-sweeping in your mind world.”
“Sure, sure.” Shang Jianyao's eyes lit up as he looked at Long Yuehong.
Long Yuehong panicked a little. He quickly compared the information and carefully examined himself.
After a few minutes, he heaved a sigh of relief and said, “There are no other problems.”
“After learning what's real and what's fake, the hypnosis effects are completely removed.” Bai Chen also voiced her judgment.
Jiang Baimian nodded and laughed. “Before we leave First City, it seems like we have to compare our memories often to prevent ourselves from becoming the real Father's weapon. Heh heh, we are truly self-reflecting on ourselves three times a day like the sayings go!”
With that said, she said to Genava, “Old Ge, stay here and watch the car with Little White and the others. Hey and I will take a walk in the woods.”
“Why are you going into the forest?” Long Yuehong asked in confusion.
Jiang Baimian smiled and said, “To search for clues. A person like the real Father definitely has a sense of superiority, so he probably won't pay attention to the domains of ordinary people because he can make others forget his looks. Anyone who walks past will leave behind traces. Since he pa.s.sed through the forest, it's very likely that he left behind footprints and other clues.”
At this point, Jiang Baimian concluded with a serious expression, “The more an Awakened thinks that they have transcended ordinary people, the more likely they are to be defeated by ordinary people. Their strength is only one aspect, not everything.”
Long Yuehong was stunned. He found it profound, but he also felt ashamed that he had only wanted to leave this place as soon as possible.
“Team Leader, you're so cool!” Shang Jianyao praised.
Upon seeing Jiang Baimian look over, he smiled brightly. “I helped Little Red say it.”
I didn't… Long Yuehong subconsciously wanted to deny it, but he felt that he indeed had such thoughts back then, so he chose to agree tacitly.
Jiang Baimian smiled and called out to Shang Jianyao, a little pleased with herself. “What are you waiting for!? We'll take turns monitoring the surroundings later to prevent the real Father from boomeranging.”
“He doesn't know this term,” Shang Jianyao explained seriously. As he spoke, he had already followed Jiang Baimian into the lush forest.