Wang Chenghao sat cross legged on the super king-sized bed, typing furiously away at his laptop. As soon as Qin Ye entered the room, he immediately jumped up and exclaimed, “Brother Qin, how was it? Are you alright?”
“I’m fine.” Qin Ye waved his hands dismissively and collapsed into the bed. He suddenly felt a wave of emptiness strike him.
Perhaps it wasn’t emptiness. Perhaps it was more of the manifestation of an uncertainty as to the road ahead.
I’d actually entered the Special Investigations Department… To be associated with such a shady organization… I still can’t believe I’ve joined them right now.
He felt somewhat vexed by the situation. Meanwhile, he noticed that Wang Chenghao was typing away at lightning speed on his laptop, and he furrowed his brows impatiently, “Sledgehammer, what are you playing? Isn’t the internet down?”
“Don’t you know?” Astonished, Wang Chenghao turned his laptop around, “We’ve still got access to the local network. The government has rolled out a temporary forum for the locals, and it’s exploding with activity.”
There’s something like that?
Qin Ye sat up immediately and snatched over the laptop.
This was obviously a temporary forum that contained only the most basic of functions. That said… the number of posts on it was already three hundred thousand!
The City of Salvation has a population size of 3.2 million people. In other words, approximately one in ten persons had posted something on the forums!
“The truth about last night! With pictures and videos! This is just one hundred meters from the battleground!” -- Little Goldfish.
This was the top thread on the forums. Qin Ye clicked on it.
The first post on the thread was that of a large picture. The internet speed wasn’t slow, and it loaded almost immediately. The picture revealed the moment when the countless soldiers released a volley of crossbow bolts all at once, sending blazing explosions of talismans flying through the sky.
“Take a look at this picture. It’s obvious that the bolts are striking certain objects. But what objects are they? Whether with the naked eye or through the lenses of a camera, I wasn’t able to tell the answer! But the flames from the exploding talismans must have struck something for it to blaze like that!” -- Little Goldfish.
The first image posted here had already garnered thousands of comments.
Qin Ye clicked on them.
“Unbelievable… I completely agree with the author of the post! Is the military testing some kind of secret weapon?” -- User438126.
“That’s not likely. Things wouldn’t appear like that if they were. Perhaps there are things that exist in this world that we can’t see with the naked eye… and perhaps the military is protecting us?” -- User27184.
“Don’t you think there’s probably a link between this incident and the supernatural sightings last night?! I’d seen a ghost! I really did!! My whole family stayed on the sofa in the living room last night, and none of us dared to catch even a wink of sleep! I swear I saw a ghost!” -- User 231234.
“You’re not the only one. There’s been a mass sighting of ghosts… I’m from the community office, and I’d just done my rounds around the neighbourhood. Have you heard of the Song River Neighbourhood? Of the two thousand residents we have, approximately one thousand three hundred people have experienced a supernatural encounter to various degrees last night. Our community office is doing its best to calm our residents down.” -- User 12379.
Qin Ye clicked on the second page.
It was still an image of a battleground. However, it revealed that several collapsed soldiers. Little Goldfish added, “I saw everything! These soldiers looked completely fine one moment, and then they suddenly collapsed in the very next moment! I doubt this is merely a military exercise. They must be fighting against an unseen force! What’s going on in our society right now?!”
The post almost immediately exploded with comments thereafter - “Ghost!” “Definitely a ghost!” “I’ve personally seen a ghost… and it was last night when I went to the bathroom… ahhhhh!” I don’t want to think about it anymore! I second the author’s opinion!” “Upvotes on post - +10086!”
Each picture that had been posted garnered at least three thousand responses. Furthermore, the last video posted had garnered a whopping 30,000 comments!
“We need the truth! I’m afraid to continue living in the City of Salvation anymore! I’ve grown up here and lived here all my life. What’s happening with the City of Salvation? Are there really ghosts?!”
“Afraid to live here? Dear, my family tried driving out towards the Eastsea Province at 6 a.m. In the end… we discovered that the entire city has become completely locked down. Nobody is allowed to enter or leave this place. Do you understand?”
“Didn’t the government say that they will give us an answer within three days’ time?” “Do you expect the government to tell us the truth?” “I just want an answer! I don’t care whether it’s the truth or a lie! I don’t even dare to sleep at night right now!”
None of the posts were censored or deleted at all.
There were no moderators either.
Qin Ye’s eyes gleamed brightly, while Arthis muttered softly, “Brilliant.”
“There’s simply no way to cover up what happened last night due to the sheer number of eye witnesses. Furthermore, the masses need an outlet to ventilate their fears, and the forums are the perfect platform for that. At the same time, it gives everyone enough buffer time to cool down and let the notion that there are unseen forces in the world sink in. That way, the revelation in three days’ time will go on much more smoothly.”
Qin Ye nodded his head and continued reading.
The second thread stated, “The government is going to make a public announcement in three days’ time. Can anyone guess what the government is going to say?”
This was a poll.
And there were only two options.
Option 1: Ghosts!
Option 2: Military exercise.
Those who selected the first option exceeded 76% of all votes casted. That amounted to over two hundred thousand people!
This was a form of subliminal messaging.
Even if the majority leaned towards the second option, there was nevertheless a good chance that the government would intervene and bump up the first option so that it would reflect an overwhelming majority of the votes.
“Don’t fan the flames. You should know full well what’s going on. Don’t spread the word. The Special Investigations Department is already on high alert right now. If any rumours about this incident is leaked outside of the City of Salvation, I’m quite certain that you’ll be receiving an invitation to have tea with representatives of the Special Investigations Department very soon.” Qin Ye returned the laptop to Wang Chenghao and cautioned.
“I know. My lips are sealed.” He watched as Qin Ye wearily shut his eyes. Then, he leaned over and whispered, “By the way, Brother Qin, just a moment ago… I discovered that I’ve regained access to my banking card!”
Qin Ye pushed his head away, “I got it. Let me rest for a while.”
Wang Chenghao waited for a moment. Qin Ye didn’t speak anymore. Two minutes later, Wang Chenghao finally heard the faint sounds of restful breathing from Qin Ye.
Wang Chenghao felt somewhat bitter.
Am I no more than an incidental existence to you any longer? I can’t even stir your heart with the mention of money anymore…
Time flew by quickly, and it was already 7 p.m. when Qin Ye woke up.
In fact, Qin Ye had been awakened by the sound of a loud radio.
There was a television in the room, and the television was broadcasting the exact same advertisement as the radio at the exact same time.
“All citizens are reminded to stay calm. Over the next three days, the City of Salvation will maintain its red alert status. That said, you may still carry on with your lives as per normal, as long as you remain at home. Please be reminded that all citizens are not to move about on their own.”
“Three days later, the ministers of Yan Capital will personally visit the City of Salvation. Together with the city’s government, they will reveal… a truth that you wouldn’t even be able to fathom.”
“Even though some of you might find the truth difficult to swallow, the city government assures you that… ever since the founding of our nation, the military and a special group of people whose existence many aren’t even aware about, have always been silently but stoically protecting everyone in the shadows.”
“When did this begin?” Qin Ye asked with a slightly husky voice.
“Twelve noon. The forums are going wild. The number of posts have exceeded four hundred thousand.” Wang Chenghao clinked his bowl against the table, “Brother Qin, would you like to eat first?”
It was only at this moment that Qin Ye discovered a rich aroma diffusing into the surroundings, up his nostril and straight into his belly. His stomach immediately began growling.
A hot pot was placed in the center of the table, and the rest of the empty spaces on the table were filled with a variety of dishes, including tripe, foie gras, meatballs, beef, etc. The spread was unimaginably abundant.
“You ordered this?”
“Of course… I’m gonna throw up if I see another pack of instant noodles again!” Wang Chenghao took a sip of Coke and smiled brightly, “Qin Ye, say… what do you think the City of Salvation is going to do?”
Qin Ye shook his head. He, too, was curious just what the government was going to do.
After all, this was an unsolicited, large-scale supernatural outbreak that had affected an entire city! Cao Youdao had accumulated and built up his army of Yin spirits for a hundred years, only to unleash them on the city in a massive tidal wave. In turn, the trifecta of military, government and cultivators had no choice but to join forces to resist the supernatural onslaught. They even had to enlist the aid of the provincial inspector. In fact, there might well have been other special agents dispatched from other cities as reinforcements. Qin Ye simply hadn’t encountered any of them.
Establishing an Academy of Cultivators… and having the City of Salvation under direct administration… These were the two pieces of information he had obtained so far. No matter how he looked at it…
“I’m afraid it’s going to be an iron fist policy…” He sighed as he joined Wang Chenghao at the table, “It’s going to be an ultimatum…”
Having a hot pot on a cold winter day was one of the joys of the world. After eating, Qin Ye lay down on the bed, only to realize that the only channel available on television was the City of Salvation’s local news. And to that end, the news only reported on the aftermath of the battle last night.
“433rd Regiment. 70 killed in action, 150 grievously wounded, and the rest are wounded to varying extents…”
“City of Salvation’s Public Security Bureau. 20 killed in action, 200 grievously wounded, 532 wounded to varying extents…”
“Special Investigations Department. 7 killed in action…” “254th Regiment. 83 killed in action…”
Over and above that, they even played on public broadcast some video footages of last night’s battle, regardless of whether they captured the frontline of the battlefield or the backlines where the medical teams operated.
A string of numbers continued to run on the scrolling marquee below. It didn’t report the cause of death, but it served its purpose of reminding the citizens of who protected them last night. They didn’t explain what dangers they had faced, but these reports still served to stir the hearts of the citizens to sympathize with their defenders and against their enemies.
Qin Ye picked up the computer and took another glance at it.
Earlier that afternoon, there were still several people who raised questions against the government, alleging that the government was hiding the truth from them, and even implying that they were all being deceived. But now, the consensus was almost unanimous.
“It’s all about maintaining stability.” One user who appeared ostensibly sophisticated quipped, “The government cannot possibly tell citizens about such matters. Truth be told, I don’t really want to know or hear about the truth either. On a separate note, I finally feel as though the taxes I’ve been contributing all this while hasn’t been in vain.”
“We’re still alive thanks to these frontline troopers… I’m thoroughly ashamed for having thought in the past that Cathay’s forces were merely for show.”
“What the hell is that? I’m so scared right now.” “What are you afraid of? Hasn’t the government assured you that everything is under control?” “But aren’t we still on red alert?”
Oh, how quickly the winds change.
What does an ancient country with thousands of years of history under its belt do when such exigencies occur?
The heart of the entire nation, Yan Capital, already had its answer.
“Brother Qin, have you really not heard of any news about this?” Wang Chenghao muttered softly.
Qin Ye shook his head. How would it be possible to learn of such things… Hang on!
It suddenly occurred to him. He pulled a cell phone out of his pocket and switched it on.
“Eh? Who bought you a new phone? You… are you seeing someone else?” Wang Chenghao was astonished.
“... Can’t I buy this myself?! And what do you mean I’m seeing someone else?! From the start, I… scram!!”
Wang Chenghao blinked his eyes and sized up Qin Ye, “No, something’s not right… you were poor - even excessively frugal. How could you possibly be willing to purchase a phone with the latest cutting edge technology, including curved edges and a ceramic body? By the way, do you even know what curved edges and ceramic bodies are? This phone costs at least RMB 3,500 or more.”
Kid… could you be less incisive with your words? We’re still friends, aren’t we…
Qin Ye rolled his eyes. Wang Chenghao motioned to lean over, yet found himself being kicked away with a foot to the chest.
Qin Ye switched on his phone. Apart from the usual softwares, Qin Ye discovered that there was only a single app located on the second page of apps.
And the thumbnail design was that of a single bloodshot eye and a gleaming blade.
The letters below spelt a single word - “Slay”.
He opened the app, and a line of words suddenly lit up on the screen - “You have a voice message. Please ensure that you have your headphones ready.
Qin Ye grabbed a pair of headphones from Wang Chenghai and clicked on the screen. The voice began to speak immediately.
“Please unlock the phone using your fingerprint.”
“The system is connected directly to the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System and Styx’s hive mind. Errors are impossible. Detecting that the user is logging in for the first time. Please register your fingerprint before unlocking your phone.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter