Embers Ad Infinitum - Chapter 697
For some reason, Long Yuehong heard a hint of sorrow in the old man’s raised voice. At the same time, he felt that he had some indescribable anticipation.
Bai Chen fell silent for a few seconds before asking, “Why do you think mind controlling exists?”
The elder in the aluminum pot couldn’t catch his breath due to his agitation. He panted twice before saying, “Didn’t I make myself clear? If not for the brainwave device and the secret control, how could those who have been through mountains of corpses and rivers of blood suddenly change? They even gave up on their ideals?
“Also…” He paused, and his head under the aluminum pot seemed to rise a little. “As Ruin Hunters, you must’ve seen the so-called Awakened since you came all the way to Ubei. They influence a target via brain waves to achieve all kinds of bizarre effects. This is one of the signs of mind control!
“However, such artificial interference is still too inefficient. The mastermind behind the Old World’s destruction created a brainwave device. This can cover several cities at once and affect hundreds of thousands of humans! Only people like us—who are prepared by wearing aluminum pots—can escape this secret control and maintain independent thinking. We still remember our ideals and don’t collude with them!” The elder became agitated again, and he stressed his last few words.
Long Yuehong blurted out, “You can prevent Awakened from exerting influence on you by wearing aluminum pots?”
Everything above the elder’s nose was blocked by the grayish-white aluminum pot, preventing others from seeing his expression change. “Yes, definitely! Let me tell you something. If not for the fact that I’ve been wearing an aluminum pot, I would’ve long become a Heartless. The mastermind won’t be soft-hearted toward people who discover the secret of brain control. They will either completely control you and prevent you from having autonomous thoughts or directly destroy your brain to make you a Heartless!
“Many of my comrades weren’t careful enough and didn’t employ anti-control measures by wearing aluminum pots all the time. This resulted in them suddenly being infected with the Heartless disease and being eliminated. Sigh…”
But Shang Jianyao previously said that he could sense the consciousness of the two passersby in the aluminum pots, and sensing consciousness means that he can exert influence… Long Yuehong muttered inwardly, but he didn’t say it out loud because he was afraid of agitating the elder’s sensitive and extreme nerves.
Furthermore, he remembered that Ding Ling had mentioned that this group of people—who promoted the idea of mind control and always wore aluminum pots—believed they could avoid the Heartless disease infection by doing so. However, they couldn’t.
Of course, these people seemed to have found a suitable reason to explain the cause.
Bai Chen quietly listened and suddenly asked, “Why are you telling us so much?”
She had originally prepared to lead the other party into discussing this matter, but she didn’t expect everything to go so smoothly. It went so smoothly that she felt like they were spectators being at the right place and at the right time.
The elder in the aluminum pot waved his right hand. “I’m sharing these matters with you because you guys have just entered Ubei and most likely haven’t encountered mind control. Sigh, every one saved is an additional comrade.”
At this moment, Long Yuehong felt that if Shang Jianyao were here, he would most likely take a step forward, press his right hand to his left chest, and enthusiastically shout the slogan ‘for all of humanity.’
Bai Chen was stunned for a moment and didn’t know how to respond. She simply squeezed out two words: “Thank you.”
The elder in the aluminum pot was just about to say something when he suddenly turned around and faced the hotel’s back door not far away.
“The degenerated’s goons are here; I hear their footsteps. I’m leaving.” The elder waved his hand and lowered his head. He looked at the road under his feet and walked to the exit by the side of the parking lot.
Long Yuehong and Bai Chen looked at where the elder had previously turned to and saw the back door of a building. They saw the slightly bald, middle-aged hotel manager standing there with an embarrassed and ugly expression.
At this moment, the elder—who was slowly walking out—shouted, “Remember to get an aluminum pot to wear!”
The hotel manager finally snapped to his senses and quickly walked in front of Bai Chen and Long Yuehong. He anxiously said, “Don’t listen to him. His brain is…”
As he spoke, the hotel manager pointed at his temple. “Problematic!”
Bai Chen remained calm and deliberately revealed a confused expression. “Who is he? Why does he give off such odd vibes?”
Eh, Little White has learned well from Team Leader… Or was she like that before joining the company? Long Yuehong’s focus wasn’t right.
The hotel manager looked around and lowered his voice. “He was an old warrior who joined our Salvation Army during its founding and has lived to this day. As you know, people who have experienced large-scale wars and casualties definitely have some kind of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Nobody paid attention to this during the Chaotic Era or the early years of the New Calendar; it’s already good enough that they survived. After all those battles, he slowly became irritable, irascible, and wasn’t able to focus.
“He’s like that, and so are many of his comrades. Some even began to drink excessively. A considerable portion of our Salvation Army’s resources is focused on them.
“It’s fine if that’s the case, but after he and his comrades—who are also suffering from some post-traumatic stress syndrome—left the front line, the problem worsened. They began to become overly suspicious, and they kept having the feeling that someone was out to harm them. They kept having the feeling that the commissioners and directors—who were still at the front line—had degenerated and forgotten their ideals. Don’t they know what era this is? Don’t they know that the current problems aren’t the same? It has gone from survival to motivating everyone for better developments.
“Later, they organized an anti-secret control organization as if they were mentally ill. They clamored for everyone to wear aluminum pots to escape the mastermind’s mind control. Isn’t… Isn’t this a sign of being sick?”
Long Yuehong didn’t correct him that it was a disorder, not a syndrome. For a middle-aged hotel manager, it was already pretty good to know such a term.
It was obvious that the Salvation Army had been conducting universal education for a long time.
Why can a hotel manager say that the current problems are already different? It went from survival to motivating everyone… This question flashed through Bai Chen’s mind, but what she said was completely unrelated. “Manager, why did he come to the hotel parking lot?”
The hotel manager sighed and said, “He and his old comrade live in a nearby sanatorium. How would we dare stop veterans like them from entering the hotel with force? He used to enjoy stopping young people on the road to talk about mind control and degeneration. When he realized nobody was enjoying his spiel, he targeted the foreigners at our hotel.
“He often comes over and pretends to accidentally bump into something and fall to the ground, waiting for someone to help him up. Then, he can take the opportunity to tell the person helping him about mind control.”
Ah… Long Yuehong was dumbfounded. He finally confirmed that he and Little White had really been a victim of ‘racketeering.’
It turned out that the elder had deliberately bumped into their jeep and was waiting for them to help him up. The reason he had been sitting there without suffering any injuries was that it would be useless if he stood up too quickly.
It’s no wonder he answers whatever Little White asks. Furthermore, he took the initiative to elaborate… The more Long Yuehong thought about it, the more he felt that he had been too stupid and naive.
Bai Chen was also stunned for a few seconds before she frowned and said, “Will the merchants and Ruin Hunters that come to trade in these borders really help him?”
With her years of experience as a wilderness nomad, she didn’t believe that these two groups of people had any good intentions. There were too few people like Wu Shoushi.
The hotel manager laughed. “Many people are always happy to show their kindness in order to become a member of our Salvation Army. Heh heh, good deeds might really help them shorten their residency requirement. This is encouraged by the Supplies Management Committee.”
I see… Long Yuehong felt that this policy was pretty good.
At this point, there was nothing else to say. He and Bai Chen bade farewell to the hotel manager named Shen Kang and returned to the room on the third floor through the normal stairwell.
After Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao returned, Bai Chen took the initiative to talk about the old man in the aluminum pot.
Shang Jianyao’s eyes lit up. He turned his head and said to Long Yuehong, “Why don’t you try wearing an aluminum pot? I’ll see if I can control you.”
“There’s no need.” Long Yuehong shook his head without hesitation.
This was obvious!
Genava denied it from a scientific perspective. “This won’t do unless the aluminum pot covers the entire body and is grounded. Only then can it produce an electromagnetic shield.”
“Maybe we can give it a try…” Jiang Baimian fell into thought. She also wanted to see if Awakened abilities used electromagnetic waves as carriers.
Long Yuehong suddenly felt a little nervous.
Bai Chen then talked about the hotel manager’s lofty words.
Jiang Baimian smiled. “That’s understandable. Since the elder comes to the hotel from time to time to ‘complain,’ he must’ve told him about mind control and degeneration. He’s someone who will betray the Salvation Army’s interests upon being bribed; he must be very guilty. When he has nothing to do, he probably often thinks about how he should explain himself if he’s the one facing such accusations.
“In such a situation, listening to the radio more, reading more of the documents from the higher-ups, and chatting more with the people around him will naturally form a self-consistent explanation.”
As it was getting late, Jiang Baimian was just about to lead her team members to the hotel restaurant for lunch when the speakers in the rooms, corridors, and streets outside suddenly sounded.
They sounded at the same time.
Someone—who had clearly used a voice changer to sound male—said loudly, “Everyone, I’m a gaming enthusiast.
“I want to play a game: I’ve hidden a nuclear warhead somewhere in Ubei. If you don’t find it in three days, it will explode with a bang. Work hard, everyone. I don’t think you want Ubei reduced to ruins amidst spectacular fireworks.”
That was all the male voice had to say. All that was left was the sizzling sound of static..