Qin-husky-Ye followed cautiously behind Zhang Chenghai, one step at a time. Then, just as he passed through the futuristic gate, all the components in the device suddenly lit up at once. An x-ray of him was even displayed on a screen to the side of the passageway.
“What’s this?” Qin Ye was startled.
Zhang Chenghai chuckled, “Don’t worry. It’s just a fixed procedure. Even though those who are willing to stand on our side are bound to be humans, there are still some safety measures that have to be complied with. Ghosts have the ability to possess humans after all.”
“How can he be so sure?” Husky muttered under his breath.
Arthis replied lazily, “That’s a given… As soon as a ghost develops some form of sentience, they would naturally also gain awareness of its endless thirst for blood and flesh. It is for this reason that humans would never stand beside Yin spirits. And one of the most reliable ways of determining if an entity is a human or not... is to look at that entity’s shadow.”
Beep… Just then, a mechanical voice reported, “Unregistered human detected. Should I register him with the Special Investigations Department? Please advise.”
In that instant, all of the personnel in white lab coats turned their gazes towards the gate curiously.
“A newcomer eh…” A lady in a white lab coat pushed up her glasses as she mumbled, “It’s been a while… He’s so young as well. I wonder which family of geniuses he hails from?”
“He doesn’t look more than twenty.” “Did he appear last night?” “Qualifying means that… he’s at least of the Operative-class level, isn’t he? But he’s still so young… tsk tsk tsk, oh, how I envy him…”
Zhang Chenghai nodded, “Right now.”
“Received authorized voice prompt to register. Styx has detected one match for the registrant’s pupil, fingerprints, blood and DNA samples.”
“Qin Ye. Level: Soul Hunter. No known relatives. Registration number: S9527. If you have no further questions, please select your preferred office. Detected: Subject’s strength has exceeded that of a regular operative. The option of a sentinel is now available. Please make your choice.”
“What?!” “Did we hear wrongly?” “Styx would never misanalyze a person, right?!”
Before Qin Ye could make his response, the personnel in white lab coats sitting around the room immediately shot to their feet and stared at Qin Ye with a completely flabbergasted look on their faces.
“They…” Qin Ye glanced about the room in dismay, “What’s going on now?”
“It’s nothing…” Zhang Chenghai was somewhat flustered as well. He took a deep breath and regulated his emotions before explaining, “The assigned letter which prefixes your registration number is indicative of your potential. E is the lowest level, while S is the highest level… In all of the City of Salvation, there are only two other persons under the age of thirty who have been assigned an S-prefix… and the number of such persons wouldn’t exceed two hundred across the entire country…”
“To be exact, we’re talking about 168 persons.” A passionate voice exclaimed. In the very next moment, a figure in white pushed Zhang Chenghai aside and eagerly grabbed hold of Qin Ye’s arm, “S-class… you’re a living S-class! How do you do? I’m Bai Qingshan. Would you be interested to contribute some of your body parts in the name of science? For instance, an arm or a leg… or if you would be so kind, I would be delighted if you would donate your brain!”
Qin Ye immediately pulled back his arm. How terrifying… there are people who’re looking to dissect and take me apart as soon as I join the Special Investigations Department…
Before he could even respond, Bai Qingshan’s body flew to the side, almost as though he had been picked up and set aside by an invisible giant hand. Shortly afterwards, a modest figure appeared in the middle of the aisle.
Qin Ye’s gaze grew sharp and incisive. The modest figure belonged to a 1.7 meter tall, skinny old man who wore a suit. However… Qin Ye could detect a fearsome aura radiating from that man’s body - one that was even more fearsome than entities on a Soul Hunter level. Furthermore… he had seen this man before.
This is the same Hellguard-class entity from last night!
“Ignore him.” The old man gazed deeply into Qin Ye’s eyes for several seconds before he finally smiled widely, “Very good… I’d never expected the person who single handedly dismantled nine hunting zones last night was such a young man… excellent… excellent! We’re finally seeing the emergence of talents of our time. This is what Cathay’s cultivation world should look like!”
It was a dry smile. Furthermore, the man’s eyebrows remained completely still as he yapped on. Finally, the old man stretched out his hand, “Third inspector of the Insignia Province, Liu Qing.”
The two shook hands. Zhang Chenghai knew his place and retreated to the side. Liu Qing led the way from here, and he spoke as they walked, “Welcome to the Special Investigations Department. You’ll slowly come to realize that it’s truly an honour to be here. After all, you’ll always be fighting for your country and your people. There are some other details about the Special Investigations Department that we will send to you later. You’ll be able to learn of the extent of information available to someone of your clearance level.”
“But first, you’ll have to pick your preferred duties.”
“The Special Investigations Department is divided into the division of operatives, as well as the division of idle sentinels. Both divisions are considered part of the state’s establishment…”
Liu Qing’s old face contorted slightly, “As soon as you display true energy on the same level as a Netherworld Operative, you’ll be entitled to apply to be a sentinel. Sentinels don’t have to report for duty on a regular basis. However, as soon as someone in the vicinity releases a distress signal, they will have to respond immediately. Furthermore, sentinels are usually the first line of defense when faced with powerful evil ghosts… Forget it, you’ll learn about all these things eventually. What’s most important to note is…”
He drew a deep breath, “You… must remain contactable at all times!”
“Please ensure that your phone is accessible at all times! Thank you!”
For some strange reason, Qin Ye felt as though he had spoken these words through gritted teeth. Then, sighing, he explained, “It’s because we’re so different from ordinary people that we can even be considered two separate species altogether. We are cultivators, and the time spent in cultivation is crucial to each one of us. As a result of that, some sentinels… switched off their phones as soon as they were appointed… and the telecommunications services have even terminated their lines for their inactivity. They remain uncontactable to date…”
“And there are others who left their phones behind when they entered their closed-door cultivation! This resulted in a slew of false information when our operatives attempted to call for help and reinforcements. To date, we’ve lost contact with 75 sentinels in recent times, while the sentinels that we’ve been unable to contact for three years running number 432 in total…”
It suits me too well!
Qin Ye blinked his eyes as though he could empathize with the old man’s struggles. Then, under the old man’s expectant gaze, he responded without any hesitation, “I choose to be a sentinel.”
The corners of Liu Qing’s lips twitched slightly.
“Are you certain?” He asked reluctantly, “Many of our teams don’t even have cultivators at the Netherworld Operative level to lead them… If you join our operatives division, you’ll immediately be given an opportunity to lead a small team of at least ten members. In fact, there is a dearth of captains for mid-sized teams right now. Most cultivators at the Soul Hunter level have been posted to keep watch over cities. As long as you’re up to the task, you’ll be able to take charge over a team of thirty or more.”
Qin Ye coughed dryly, "Don't worry… I'll make sure that I'm contactable at all times…"
Liu Qing paused for a few moments, before sighing wistfully, "Alright… follow me."
"Liu Qing doesn't seem too pleased?" Qin Ye asked Zhang Chenghai discreetly as they followed Liu Wong's lead.
Zhang Chenghai responded with some measure of exasperation, "Of course… danger levels are rising steadily across all of Cathay, yet for the last two years, most of the Soul Hunters across the country are either posted to cities as guards or have simply chosen to act as sentinels… this has resulted in many cities and provinces seeing nobody take up the mantle as a captain over mid-sized teams for a long time… Mr Qin, I would sincerely urge you to reconsider your decision and take up the mantle of a team leader. I'm certain that this represents the desires of all cities and provinces around."
Qin Ye smiled and grew taciturn.
Bloody hell. Yours truly might very soon have to go down to Hell and Fengdu Necropolis to lay bricks at night! What's going to happen if I'm spotted by others?!
They finally arrived in front of another room. There were rows after machines that were approximately 1.2 to 1.3 meters tall. Each of them had several lines of text on their touch screens. It appeared quite similar to the ATMs at banks.
Is this the integration of technology and cultivation?
With curiosity at the back of his mind, Qin Ye quickly filled up the forms. Then, seconds after his verification was successful, a small compartment on the machine opened up and extruded a red identification card.
“Certified Member of the Special Investigations Department.” Seven words were printed on the cover. When he flipped open the certificate, it revealed Qin Ye’s photograph, as well as his date of birth and domicile.
Qin Ye’s eyes lingered on the date of birth - 1 January 2000. He was jubilant.
“You’d somehow become seventy or eighty years younger, haven’t you? Aren’t you pleased?” Arthis chuckled.
Qin Ye closed the certificate with a snap and placed it within his pocket. Then, just as Qin Ye was about to bid farewell and take his leave, he suddenly discovered that there was a mobile phone below as well.
It wasn’t affiliated to any particular brand, but its build and form were impressive. It even sported the latest trend of a bezel-less screen and curved edges. Qin Ye couldn’t take his eye off it as soon as he saw it.
“This is…” He smiled knowingly.
“This is the Special Investigations Department’s primary mode of communication. Its signal is routed directly to the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System. That said, it also provides you access to all networks around. Most importantly, it has the Special investigations Department’s internal app pre-installed on it. Everything you need to know is in there.”
It’s quite user friendly!
Qin Ye was astonished by how much the cultivation world had kept up with the times. To think that when he encountered cultivators back in the day, they would all invariably be cooped up in the depths of the forest like hermits until the day they die. If they wanted to look up information and do their research, those cultivators would even have to ride a horse into the closest town to purchase their newspapers!
Qin Ye put away his new phone with much discipline and smiled genially, “Then… I’ll head off to get some rest first, alright? I haven’t slept a wink since last night, and I’m really struggling to hold it together.”
Liu Qing cast him another look, “Go on, then… Firstly, remember to keep your phone switched on at all times. A moment of negligence on your part could spell the death of a small team near you.”
“Secondly, remember to head into the downtown plaza three days later. This will be a historic moment when Cathay reveals to the public the truth about the situation for the very first time. All of the important cultivators within the Insignia Province will be in attendance. Besides, you’ll be set as a benchmark and be rewarded for your efforts for last night. Try and be as normal as possible.”
Qin Ye left.
However, he didn’t walk back. Instead, an Audi A8 sent him directly back to his hotel.
“Huh?” Things had finally come to a close for now, and Qin Ye could feel his eyelid growing as heavy as Mount Tai. He nearly nodded off, but managed to hang in there enough to ask, “This isn’t my hotel, is it?”
It was a 7 Days Inn.
It was a relatively unknown hotel. That said, the decor spoke volumes about its incredibly luxurious and exquisite style.
“Mr Sentinel, sir, the division is aware that you have no place of residence right now, so we have specially booked out a suite on your behalf for a quarter.” The driver smiled faintly, “This is one of the basic privileges of the Special Investigations Department. Sentinels on the level of Soul Hunters may show their certificate in lieu of ID cards, drivers’ license, and other documents. Furthermore, you will enjoy treatment of the highest priority. You are also entitled to special reserved suites in all of the major hotels across the country.”
Qin Ye was somewhat surprised, “So convenient? Is everything free? Why?”
The driver smiled with some pride, “But of course… The privileges of the Special Investigations Department aren’t limited to just these few things. Mr Sentinel, sir, you’ll understand everything once you go through the information available to you on the app. Here’s the place. Mr Sentinel, sir, I’ll pick you up in three days’ time.”
After registering at the concierge, he picked up his room card and entered his room. It was a sprawling eighty square meter room with a huge crystal chandelier and soft, ankle-deep rugs that was immensely comfortable.
“I might have just been struck by a sugar coated bullet…”Previous Chapter Next Chapter