299 Man

    With an impressive zero death, Phecda took over 16 communication bases from Lai Sheng Company. They also captured 73 suspected cultists, 2 zombies but there was no trace of the Deep Ones. Unlike Chen Defa, the two zombies were not given the chance to commit suicide inside their hiding cave. Of the 73 cultists, only 6 were still alive. They were imprisoned but they were all in a state of madness. One of them was Zhao Jiantao, the middle-aged man from Li Qi Zai whom the Problematic Team apprehended. The two inside the underground tunnel were confirmed to be dead. Their cause of death was asphyxiation from cyanide poisoning but strangely enough, there was no trace of the poison in their system. That left only the possibility of supernatural causes.

    Regardless, the living was to be interrogated and the dead autopsied. Phecda had no mercy for these people. They would stop at nothing to acquire new clues.

    Due to the scale of the mission, especially the battle at Da Hwa City, meant that it was impossible to cover it up from the public. Therefore, Phecda made an official announcement that afternoon, stating that the mission was to take down an organized crime family working out of the country. The thing that caused the earthquake at Nan An Street was not a ghost or a demon, instead it was a cryptic with great strength, in the veins of King Kong. The evidence of 'superpower' was actually a type of new-fangled laser weapon. On the succeeding press conference, Gu Jun's team appeared before the camera again with the same official response. However, they refused the media's request to view the laser weapon due to its confidentiality.

    This incident proved that Gu Jun and his team were not promotional materials in spite of their good looks, they were actual special agents. However, people in the know understood the use of exaggeration in the official statement. Lai Sheng Company was not 'taken down' but they were indeed dealt a severe blow. Due to the very nature of mysterious organizations, they would not have many members as they depended on secrecy and subterfuge. One member loss was one chip off the organization's power. None of the 73 cultists had wilted faces, which was a shame, as it meant none of them were among the administrative members. They most likely acted as liaison with the public. With the loss of the 16 communication bases, Afterlife Cult's supernatural communication system within the country was seriously impacted. Combine that with the cultists that died in the marine warfare, Afterlife Cult would need plenty of time to recuperate from the damage this time.

    Other than that, Phecda collected a surprising number of new clues from these bases. Just from Li Qi Zai alone, they salvaged over 50 vases with foreign prints and encrypted documents, which were being deciphered by the Investigation Department as we speak.

    The bases were mutilated to varying degrees by the cultists which depleted the locations' inherent power. However, Phecda managed to salvage a large number of ritualistic symbols and pictures, all of them were entered into the Spell Department's highly confidential cache. They were handled cautiously for they might cause mental corruption. Among all of the new discoveries, Gu Jun paid greatest attention to the foreign messages found. The foreign language was a language of life, it carried more meaning than patterns and paintings. And of all the new messages, the one that confused and bothered him the most was the poem stanza, "That the play is the tragedy, 'Man,' / And its hero, the Conqueror Worm."

    The more he studied it, the bleaker he felt. He was not unfamiliar with this feeling, he encountered the same grey bleakness when he read the writings by Deng Ximei. 'Why? Is there a connection between the two?' Before he got more things figured out, Gu Jun did not want to confront Deng Ximei for he knew he'd only find a brick wall. However, he believed the foreign poem to be related to the giant worm, in fact, the Conqueror Worm should refer to the young creature that they encountered.

    "These bastards want to take advantage of the legionella pneumonia's residual impact." Gu Jun told Elder Tong, "Before the world has the chance to heal, they want to use this opening to create chaos to cultivate darkness, that is most likely their latest goal." Perhaps Gu Jun did share an inexplicable connection with Afterlife Cult for his prediction soon came true.


    Night fell and events from yesterday's mission created a bustle at base. Gu Jun walked out from the Medical Building's Autopsy Floor. Gu Jun, Cai Zixuan and Uncle Dan were dissecting the two bodies from the underground tunnel but so far they found nothing. However, their attendance was suddenly required by Elder Tong. They swiftly decontaminated, changed and hurried to the conference room situated in the same building. A monitor hung from the wall. A short video had caught Phecda's attention.

    "This video was first uploaded to Youtube this morning." Elder Tong explained. "It caused quite an uproar in a short amount of time. It has filtered through the cracks into the country even though the government has taken measures to ban the ones on official video-sharing sites. But only so much can be done regarding the underground websites. In any case, take a look at this video for yourself first."

    Millions of netizens had seen the video already and so far there was no reportage of public health concern. The land's travellers volunteered to watch the video with the assessment stone. Thankfully, the video caused no sign of corruption on its viewers. However, protective measures were still taken for Gu Jun. He had on the assessment stone and several cleansing stones were placed within his arm's reach. He sat squarely in the chair and clicked for the video to play. The video had no sound and the muteness added to its eeriness.

    The video started with an innocent-looking cartoon. The style was colorful and childlike. On stage, there were actors dressed as angels and clowns, prancing and dancing, chasing a giant shadow that shifted magically into different shapes. They ran from one end of the stage to another, going around in circles. Suddenly a giant worm covered in blood wiggled on stage. The actors stopped in their tracks. Before they could react, the giant worm opened its maw to swallow them up. The worm munched greedily as the broken limbs and body parts plunked noisily onto the stage, slowly dying the stage red. The stage lights dimmed and the curtain fell. Then the video showed the play's name written in the foreign language, 'Man'.

    If that was all, the video would not have gone viral so easily. It was because the video did not end there. After the cartoon, then came a footage of a live performance. A group of children in angel and clown costumes ran around a stage, as if chasing something. Suddenly the camera panned to the right corner of the stage where something appeared to be wiggling in the darkness...

    Just as the camera was about to zoom in... the video ended. No one knew the ending and where the video was taken. But the suggestion in this video entitled 'Man' was spine-tingling. Some netizens had even started a petition to find those children.

    "Those children..." Gu Jun who finished watching the video mumbled. Even though the opaline did not glow, his voice did darken, "They are most likely Spirit Children, they might be Lai Sheng Company's latest cultivated batch."


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