Embers Ad Infinitum - Chapter 531: North
Chapter 531: North
“Human Awakening.” Khal’s voice wasn’t loud, but it sounded like rumbling thunder to Jiang Baimian’s ears.
The Eighth Research Institute’s scientific focus was actually ‘human Awakening!’ This answer was truly unexpected to her, but she inexplicably felt that it matched reality and was reasonable.
With the Old World’s technological standards of producing Eternals, it was impossible for them not to pay attention to human Awakening—unless the Awakening happened after that disaster.
“You guys have significant achievements in that field?” When Jiang Baimian asked, she realized that she had disguised herself well. Her voice was calm, and her tone was flat as if she was talking about today’s weather.
Khal laughed with the same air of arrogance. “Otherwise, how do you think I Awakened?”
Jiang Baimian was just about to ask when Bai Chen eagerly said, “Can an Awakening be guaranteed?”
Khal glanced at her. “There’s only a 30% chance of success.”
How can you use the term ‘only?’ It’s already very impressive to have a stable chance of Awakening, even if it’s less than 10%! When the topic broached on research, Jiang Baimian couldn’t help but roar inwardly.
None of the large factions could currently claim to stably Awaken their personnel; even religious organizations that believed in the Kalendarium were the same. It was closer to reaching for pie in the sky, but this ‘sky’ referred to the Kalendarium. Sometimes, depending on the Kalendaria’s good ‘mood,’ many people would Awaken. Sometimes, nobody would receive divine grace if the Kalendaria wasn’t pleased.
It was definitely a shocking thing to say that a level of stability of Awakening could be done. As long as the chances of success weren’t low, the various large factions had ways to obtain a large number of Awakened.
In the Ashlands, population was very important. However, it was also very unimportant!
“How is it done?” Jiang Baimian thought for a moment and finally decided to be direct.
Khal chuckled. “I’m not a researcher; I’m just a research subject. How would I know how those guys did it? Even if you have items from the Last Man domain and can read my memories, you can’t figure out the exact process from me. How can you figure out something that doesn’t exist?
“Well, I only know that I have to be injected with drugs and be illuminated by certain instruments. Finally, I had to sleep in a place that resembles a space capsule.”
The reason he was so frank was that the information he had wasn’t important.
Jiang Baimian nodded thoughtfully. “Any repercussions for those who participated in the project but failed to Awaken?”
Khal was relatively aware of the answer in this regard. “Most of them are fine. A small number show signs of mental and physical inhibitions, but many of them recovered after treatment. This is if they failed during the first Awakening. If they attempt it a second time, the probability of there being repercussions will rise exponentially. Furthermore, treatment would be difficult. Some might even die on the spot. Therefore, our research institute doesn’t recommend failures to attempt an Awakening again.”
At this point, Khal’s gaze swept across Jiang Baimian and Bai Chen’s faces. “I heard from a researcher that this is under the premise that we have a mature method. Otherwise, the situation will be terrible, even if it’s only the first Awakening attempt.”
Bai Chen fell silent for a few seconds before saying, “Can you choose your own Awakened domain?”
“Consider your price. This often corresponds to your domain, but many of them are less precise as the overlapping exists to a certain extent.” Khal was very happy to use this worthless information to stall for time.
Bai Chen exhaled in disappointment. She thought that the Eighth Research Institute allowed people to freely choose the corresponding domains and abilities they wanted.
Khal continued, “You can forget about using the smallest price to exchange for sufficiently powerful abilities—that’s unrealistic. Even if there really are such situations, the corresponding price might undergo a qualitative change as you advance. It might become even more terrifying.”
Jiang Baimian took note of this and asked, “How many members of your research institute alive today survived the Old World?”
Khal deliberated for a moment and said, “Vice President, Charlie, Professor Li, and Doctor—the four of them have entered the New World. They are in a slumber all year round and can only move about occasionally.”
A total of four New World powerhouses? The Eighth Research Institute is indeed powerful… Are these four the people that Oray said had undergone a terrifying change in their bodies and were reduced to traitors in the dark? Jiang Baimian’s eyebrows twitched slightly.
As if sensing Jiang Baimian’s thoughts, Khal chuckled. “Even compared to First City, we aren’t weak. In some aspects, we are even stronger—much stronger. Otherwise, how can we stop those who are tempted by the devil from exploring the reason for the Old World’s destruction?”
Jiang Baimian took the opportunity to ask, “Where’s your research institute? Where’s the city you previously mentioned that was destroyed in the past decade?”
The tied-up Khal straightened his neck. “You can kill me now. I won’t tell you.”
Jiang Baimian was in no rush to think of a way to pry open Khal’s mouth and ask about the Eighth Research Institute’s location. She first took out Shang Jianyao’s father’s photo and showed it to Khal. “Have you seen this person? He was also investigating the reason for the Old World’s destruction. He might’ve been killed by you, your colleagues, or subordinates—uh, harmed.”
Khal casually glanced at it, and his expression suddenly froze. He then carefully examined it for a few seconds before slowly saying, “Didn’t I mention it just now? A certain group of people made some progress in their investigation of the cause of the Old World’s destruction. They found the city in the north and brought about a disaster that almost affected the entire Ashlands. He’s one of those people.”
Jiang Baimian perked up and quickly asked, “Is he still alive?”
Khal replied with a nasty expression, “Most of his companions either became Heartless in that disaster or died at the Heartless’s hands. Only he and the other two went missing. We’ve been searching for them all these years. Of course, they might’ve died in that city as well but were eaten clean by the Heartless. We don’t even know where their bones were thrown, making it impossible for us to identify them.”
Missing whether dead or alive… This sentence suddenly surfaced in Jiang Baimian’s mind, but she believed that this was very good news for Shang Jianyao. At least there was a little more hope than before.
At this moment, Jiang Baimian’s walkie-talkie sounded. She picked it up and realized that it was from Phocas’s attendant.
The general requested to communicate with them outside the room.
Jiang Baimian looked at the tightly bound Khal and casually gave some instructions. She then led Bai Chen out the door and arrived at the back door.
The old lion-like Phocas stood at the window at the edge of the corridor and nodded at the two ladies. “Your abilities are beyond my imagination. I originally didn’t think you had much hope of coming into contact with Avia. Unexpectedly, not only did you obtain complete information, but you also captured a very useful captive. This is simply beyond your abilities.”
He seemed to be testing if the Old Task Force had any additional help.
Jiang Baimian smiled. “Your Excellency, there’s not much time. I’ll quickly tell you what Avia told us now.”
Phocas nodded slightly. “Tell me.”
After Jiang Baimian shared her gains without reservation, Phocas frowned. “Give me a copy of that mysterious number.”
“Alright.” Jiang Baimian took out a pen and paper and busied herself.
As he waited, Phocas said, “I have a way to dig out the location of the Eighth Research Institute and the city from the captive, but this will cause irreversible damage to his brain. You don’t have anything to ask further, right?”
Jiang Baimian and Bai Chen looked at each other and deliberated for a few seconds. “No.”
Phocas didn’t say anything else. He half-closed his eyes as if he were resting.
After taking the copied number from Jiang Baimian and comparing it, the general walked into the room where the captive was imprisoned.
In less than ten minutes, Phocas returned to the two ladies with a simple map in his hand—a crude map of the Ashlands.
It had Icefield, Old Mountain, Lake of Wrath, Gold Coast, Blackmarsh Wilderness, Monk Wastelands, Blood Wastelands, and other places depicted. It labeled where the various factions—First City, Pangu Biology, White Knights, Salvation Army, United Industries, Mechanical Paradise, Linhai Alliance, Orange Company, Future Intelligence, Spirit Island, and Fog Realm—were.
Phocas pointed at a dot on the map and said, “This is the city’s location.”
He then moved his finger to a red circle. “The Eighth Research Institute is roughly within this area.”
Upon seeing Bai Chen’s confusion, Phocas added, “That captive’s name is Khal. As a commissioner, he doesn’t actually know the research institute’s exact location. He always goes to the area’s vicinity, fires a signal, and has others pick him up. He’s blindfolded the entire time.”
They are rather careful. They consider the possibility of the commissioner failing and being captured… Jiang Baimian looked at the red circle and dot on the map and realized that they were all in Icefield.
Icefield was a concept that had existed in the Old World. In ancient times, many Icefielders had been affected by the climate and migrated south to the Red River Zone, developing into the current Yargai.
Before the Old World was destroyed, Icefield wasn’t as vast as it was today. It only covered the northernmost area. As far as Jiang Baimian knew, the superposition of many destructive weapons during that upheaval had a great impact on the climate. This resulted in Icefield crazily ‘expanding’ in the subsequent 20 to 30 years, turning the original Great North into a land of ice and snow.
The area where the Eighth Research Institute and the city were located belonged to the Great North from back then.
Almost at the same time, Jiang Baimian thought of two things. First, Jiang Xiaoyue was sent to a hospital in the north to receive experimental treatment as a volunteer. Second, the vegetable in the steelworks factory ruins was also sent north as a volunteer for experimental treatment.
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