Chapter 74: Bleeding Taunt
“We have already misplaced our faith in one god; we will no longer believe in any divinity, be it real or fake, and that includes you, Son of Misfortune.”
“Mr. Gu, we know you better than you know yourself.”
“The first tragedy is over. The second tragedy will be arriving soon.”
Three warnings written in blood on three different banyan trees and three pictures. Studying the twisted forms of the trees and the bloody words in the foreign language, Gu Jun was silent for a long time. This was undeniably a taunt, a taunt toward Phecda and a taunt directed at himself. He initially thought that the people from Afterlife were just a bunch of crazy fanatics; they were up to crazy rituals to summon the power of darkness, but he had already gained the agency. He had touched the truth and even found out about his own past…
But suddenly, just as he felt like he had crawled out from the abyss, before he could taste the fresh air, he realized that he had only crawled deeper into the abyss. Unknown was still all around him, and the darkness only appeared darker.
“Doctor Gu, can you understand these words?” Wang Ke asked. The group looked at him with anticipation.
“Most of them…” Gu Jun gave a brief meaning of the three sentences. He omitted the part about ‘including you’ and ‘Son of Misfortune’ by claiming that he did not understand them. But he believed that the people from Scientific Research Department would soon recognize ‘you’ and ‘misfortune’ because ‘you’ appeared the second time in the second sentence, and ‘misfortune’ and ‘tragedy’ were written in a similar way.
Once the room heard the three sentences, their expressions shifted. Even Wang Ke, who had already mastered a poker face, found his facial muscles twitching. If Gu Jun was not lying, then this operation was a trap designed by Lai Sheng Company. From start to end, they were following the bread crumbs laid down by others as they walked step by step toward death. The sacrifice of 444 people, this number… it was not only a taunt. It was the most disgusting humiliation.
“The Spirit Child is a spy?” Tang Ziyin said numbly. Once that left her lips, the other investigators joined in. There was anger and regret; there was also panic and desolation. “No wonder things went so successfully at the beginning!”
“It was us who caused them to die… Damn it!”
It was because of their information that the Action Department had gone on this operation. The heavy casualties of their colleagues already weighed heavily on their souls, but if they had gotten some reward to show for it, at least that would have been a consolation for the dead. But the information that they thought could be important was just a taunt from the enemy. If the Lai Sheng Company’s goal was to damage their mental state, then they had succeeded. The haggard state of their colleagues’ deaths in the picture at the crime scene had become their new nightmare.
“Do not lose your focus,” Wang Ke instructed loudly to suppress the panic, to prevent it from spreading. “Grab hold of yourself!”
The group started a breathing exercise and slowly evened out their breathing.
“This result in itself is useful information,” Wang Ke said with conviction. Anyone could panic but not him, the captain. “At least now we know Lai Sheng Company is very familiar with Phecda. We have already been tricked once; we only need to make sure we don’t allow it to happen again.”
The members nodded in agreement. There were multiple meanings to the captain’s words; the Spirit Child could be good or bad. Gu Jun could be lying to them, so they needed to tread carefully.
“I personally believe that Spirit Child…” Gu Jun wanted to say something, but when the words reached his lips, he lost his train of thought. “… could be a spy or could be not.”
Well, that was a perfect nonsense. Was the Spirit Child a fanatic? He did not even know the other child’s gender. At the end of the day, if this Spirit Child was really a fanatic, could he really understand them? Sacrificing themself to enter Phecda to provide false information was completely possible.
But in that case, what did they worship? The Afterlife Cult had clearly stated that they no longer believed in any divinity or demon. Had they always been like that since they arrived here, or did this change occur recently? And when did they master the foreign language again?
Amid this flurry of questions, Gu Jun answered a few other questions from Wang Ke. He tried his best to answer honestly but not volunteering any extra information. While some questions he really had no answer to, for example, the third warning that stumped all of them. What was the first tragedy? The Malformed Banyan Disease or the heavy casualties during this operation? And what did the second tragedy… point toward?
After some questioning, Wang Ke went out to make a call. When he returned, he had Gu Jun write down all the foreign vocabulary that he knew and their meaning. At this point, Gu Jun sincerely wanted to help. If he died, leaving the Afterlife Cult with the sole mastery of the foreign language, that would be very scary. However, at the same time, he had to take his own safety into consideration. Therefore, of the five hundred foreign words that he knew, he only wrote around a hundred and fifty of them. There were some common words and other more specific terms. He told Wang Ke, “Captain Wang, ever since the S Value assessment, I’ve been able to remember a few foreign words every day, but for now, this is all I’ve got.”
The reason Gu Jun did this was to ensure his irreplaceability. He needed to be alive to continue providing Phecda with translations of the foreign language. Even if Phecda looked into his memory, this would be his defense. After all, he was not technically lying. Instead of remembering several of them daily, a foreign term would come back to him every few days.
After making another call to report to his superior, Wang Ke had Cao Yichong bring him to an attached room to rest. By then, it was already about 4 am. There was a small window inside the room. Through the window, the sky was still dark.
“Phew.” Gu Jun turned in the bed. Actually, when he was checking out his sparse surroundings, he noted the lack of cameras. After turning a few times, he looked out the window with many things on his mind…
‘The Afterlife Cult already knows that I am in Phecda. They left these three sentences for me to translate. Just how far ahead have they calculated?’
The more he thought about it, the more chilled he felt. He felt like a pawn being moved around without knowing what was happening. He decided to toss that scary thought out of his mind. His phone had not been confiscated, and this place had Wi-Fi. Could this have been done on purpose. Would Phecda be spying on his online activity?
‘F*ck it.’ Gu Jun switched on his phone. He first logged into ‘Classified Chat [CC]’, an internal social chat app invented by the Scientific Research Department. The name was rather on the nose, and the function was simple. The rule was that if they needed to discuss anything about Phecda, they needed to do it either in person or here, and that included both business and casual talk. He had added quite a few new friends on his account ‘Med Student Gu, Gu Jun’. They were from different departments, and they had exchanged information during the ice-breaking party. Since the prior morning to now, Gu Jun had not logged into CC. Once he opened it, he noticed that there were a bunch of new messages. Thirty-one of them came from Lee Yuerui. They were pointless emojis, jokes, and memes.
“What is up with this guy? Is this his mission or something?” Gu Jun could not help but suspect because they had exchanged their IDs, Lee Yuerui would message him more than ten funny messages every day. If that was not the Recreation Department helping him relax, he did not know what was. Regardless, perhaps they had their uses. Browsing through the atrocious memes, Gu Jun chuckled in spite of everything.
Switching off Lee Yuerui’s window, he turned to the others. Surgeon Zhu and the rest asked about him. There were some messages from Cai Zixuan as well. “Is your operation over?”
Later, probably after he found out about what happened, he added a poem. “From whichever direction the winds leap, I remain strong, though dealt many a blow.”
“Hello?” Even Wang Ruoxiang sent him a message. “I heard you were escorted away by the Investigation Department. Do not tell me any confidential information. I do not want the same thing to happen to me.”
Then it was coupled with a cowering dog emoji. Gu Jun chuckled again. ‘These guys…’
But he did not reply any of them, lest he brought them trouble. The incident where he was taken away was being discussed in several groups. Social media had made the world a smaller place, so everyone knew about it. The superior did not ban them from talking about it, but Brother Qiang did advise everyone to get some rest and focus on their tasks, saying that Ah Jun would be fine and so on.
“Brother Qiang, I might not be fine, unfortunately,” Gu Jun grumbled self-deprecatingly. After reading all those messages, Gu Jun went on the internet. There was news about the Malformed Banyan Disease on the internet, but it was not because news about the disease had leaked but the fact that several villages around the Eastern State being on lockdown had caught the media’s attention. But those articles were soon taken down or debunked. The reasons provided included mass migration, discovery of ancient artifacts, and so on. Seeing that there was nothing worth exploring, the news did not gain any traction. The public’s attention was soon pulled away by some other celebrity. The Public Relations Department was always good at their job.
Gu Jun skipped through various sites before he put the phone away. He closed his eyes and fell asleep…