Embers Ad Infinitum

Chapter 227: Human
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Chapter 227: Human

The next morning, the Old Task Force went straight to Redstone Collection after having breakfast and entered the Public Security Department.

Regardless, they felt that it was better to resolve Han Wanghuo’s problem first. The longer this dragged on, the easier it was for accidents to happen. For example, if Weiler had a loose tongue and accidentally told the other town guards what he had seen, news that Han Wanghuo was a Subhuman would spread throughout Redstone Collection.

It would be fine if Han Wanghuo wasn’t a Subhuman, but it would be troublesome if he really was. Even if he didn’t do anything that let down Redstone Collection, he might be forced to explain himself to prove his innocence.

The Old Task Force had fought alongside him before, so they naturally had some good intentions toward him. They hoped to resolve this problem in the best possible way.

However, Weiler was the only one sitting in the Public Security Department.

“Captain Han didn’t come?” Jiang Baimian asked.

Weiler shook his head. “It’s not like he punctually reports to work every day. He still has a bunch of things to handle with the town guards. There were many problems left behind from the war.”

The simplest and most straightforward way of putting it was: with so many people dead, Han Wanghuo had to comfort the deceased’s families and cheer the other town guards on.

Jiang Baimian carefully sensed the area and confirmed that there was nobody else in the Public Security Department. She then suppressed her voice and asked, “You didn’t reveal anything in front of him, right?”

Weiler thought for a moment and said, “I don’t think so. My mental fortitude is quite strong.”

That’s right. He even dares to get into someone else’s bed and sleep with someone else’s wife... Long Yuehong had always despised this playboy.

After a pause, Weiler hissed. “But I’ve subconsciously been avoiding him these past two days. I don’t joke with him as much as I used to.”

Jiang Baimian, Shang Jianyao, and Bai Chen looked at each other and asked solemnly, “Where does Captain Han live?”

Weiler stood up and pointed in a direction. “The park’s north exit. There were originally a few small buildings there, but they collapsed until only one was left. Captain Han lives inside. He said that it’s relatively close to Redstone Collection and that he can rush over quickly if anything happens.”

Jiang Baimian didn’t say anything else. She led the three other Old Task Force members out of Redstone Collection and drove toward the park’s north.

Before long, they arrived at the exit and saw a row of lone buildings hidden among the trees.

Unfortunately, the trees and leaves had withered in the winter cold. There was no scenery to speak of, and the buildings had either collapsed or were damaged in many places. Only one building was relatively intact.

Jiang Baimian looked over and saw no cars parked outside the dark-blue building. She immediately frowned.

At this moment, a thought flashed across her, Bai Chen, and Long Yuehong’s minds: Is there really a problem with Han Wanghuo? Has he already fled because of his crimes?

As the jeep drove toward Han Wanghuo’s residence, Bai Chen looked at the ground and said, “There are relatively fresh tire tracks.”

There was a drizzle last night, and part of the road was very muddy.

“Han Wanghuo just left not long ago?” Long Yuehong understood what Bai Chen meant. “Team Leader, should we turn around and chase after him now?”

Just as he said that, Shang Jianyao smiled. “You really don’t have any talent in hide and seek.”

Long Yuehong glanced at him and thoughtfully asked, “You mean these tracks are a disguise?

“After driving for a distance, Han Wanghuo found a relatively dry spot on the road and hid the car. He then sneaked back here and waited for the team chasing him to leave before fleeing in the opposite direction?”

Shang Jianyao gave an objective evaluation. “You also listen to a lot of radio programs.”

Jiang Baimian spoke as she drove. “A reasonable guess; this can be considered a possibility. Yes, it’s best not to casually change targets when we carry out investigations. Eliminating them one by one is the most reliable choice; otherwise, it’s very easy to make the mistake of losing the forest for the trees. In short, let’s go to Han Wanghuo’s house and search. If he’s really gone, we’ll chase after his tracks.”

The jeep soon arrived in front of the three-story building.

Jiang Baimian sighed as soon as she alighted. “There’s someone inside; the tire tracks are indeed a deliberate diversion. It seems like Han Wanghuo has plenty of anti-tracking experience. Yes, he should have more than one car.”

As Jiang Baimian spoke, Shang Jianyao walked to the small building, bent his finger, and knocked on the door.

Knock! Knock! Knock!

No one replied.

After knocking thrice, Shang Jianyao stretched out his right hand and pushed open the unlocked door.

Long Yuehong held the assault rifle and asked in surprise and amusement, “When did you discover that it wasn’t locked?”

Shang Jianyao glanced at him. “Before I knocked.”

“...” Long Yuehong was speechless. “I understand. It gives a sense of ritual, right?”

“You’re wrong. Shang Jianyao today is no longer the Shang Jianyao from yesterday. It’s politeness this time,” Shang Jianyao explained seriously.

This fellow’s condition seems to have worsened a little... Long Yuehong didn’t continue the conversation. He followed Jiang Bohemian, walked past Shang Jianyao, and entered the building.

Jiang Baimian stopped in the hall, looked in the direction of the kitchen, and shouted, “Come on out.”

There was still no response this time.

Shang Jianyao clapped and smiled. “Determination is needed for hide and seek. One can’t just come out from a little ruse.”

With that said, he jumped into the kitchen, squatted in front of a cabinet, and knocked on it thrice.

The next second, the cabinet’s door opened. Han Wanghuo—who had two scars on his face—was huddled inside, pointing a pistol at Shang Jianyao.

Shang Jianyao went with the flow and dutifully played the role of a captive. He raised his hands, slowly stood up, and slowly retreated.

Han Wanghuo crawled out and swept his yellowish-white eyes around. He lowered the muzzle and said, “It’s actually you guys who came... I thought Weiler would lead the town guards to surround this area.”

“We took on a mission.” Jiang Baimian’s attitude was calm, and her voice was normal.

“A mission to capture me?” Han Wanghuo smiled bitterly.

Jiang Baimian shook her head. “The mission is very simple; it’s to find you and ask you a question.”

Han Wanghuo fell silent for a few seconds before asking, “What question?” At this moment, he seemed to be waiting for the final judgment.

Jiang Baimian looked at his slightly yellowish-white eyes and asked in a deep voice, “Are you a Subhuman?”

Han Wanghuo’s expression immediately became a little strange. He looked disappointed and a little relieved. He then laughed and looked around. “Yes, I’m a Subhuman.”

With that said, he pushed up his left sleeve, revealing his arm. From the middle of his arm, amber scales protruded. They weren’t that dense, and they intersected with the strange hard flakes on his skin.

Han Wanghuo smiled and said, “A nomadic subhuman without an ethnic group.”

At this point, his expression suddenly warped. “But aren’t Subhumans human? According to this method of categorization, are Red River people and Ashlanders also not humans?”

“They are all humans,” Shang Jianyao said factually.

Han Wanghuo didn’t expect to receive an affirmative reply and was momentarily at a loss for words.

After a few seconds, he sighed. “Actually, I can understand why the merfolk and mountain monsters insisted on fighting their way back to Redstone Collection and seize this place. Although there aren’t many of them who have truly experienced the Old World’s destruction or have memories of their hometown, the lakeside in the city ruin is a symbol of their normal lives as humans. It’s where they find sustenance in all that’s beautiful.

“If they give up just like that and don’t pass down their beliefs of reacquiring this place generation after generation, their descendants might accept the fact that they are monsters in a few more generations and forget that they should be humans...”

After listening quietly, Shang Jianyao seemed like he wanted to take off his tactical backpack, but he ultimately resisted the urge.

Jiang Baimian opened her mouth, wanting to say something, but she was momentarily unable to organize her words.

A sentence flashed across Long Yuehong’s mind again: This f*cked up world!

At this moment, Bai Chen suddenly said, “Then, why are you standing opposite them? You also said that you killed many merfolk and mountain monsters.”

Han Wanghuo was stunned for a moment before he revealed a self-deprecating expression. “Maybe it’s because I’ve always treated myself as a human, but in the years before my parents passed away, they kept telling me that we are humans—humans who have contracted strange diseases.

“Later, I began wandering the Ashlands. I always looked forward to interacting with humans, but once they discovered my secret, they would look at me strangely as if they were looking at a monster. Among them, the better ones only stopped interacting with me. The worse ones even wanted to kill me.

“In order to be a good human, I found many books left behind by the Old World and requested myself to act according to the descriptions. Sometimes, I’m very afraid, but I still have to bravely rush up to save humans. Sometimes, I have the deep wish to acquire all the valuable things, but I ultimately chose to distribute them fairly. Sometimes, I clearly wish that a person died, but I had to tolerate it because he didn’t commit any crimes. Sometimes, I almost can’t control myself and curse at Redstone Collection’s abnormally vigilant people. In the end, I still maintain my emotions and reason with them. I organize them and use my actions to serve as an example.”

At this point, Han Wanghuo’s eyes lost focus. “Once, a mountain monster discovered my secret before he died. He looked at me and said: You’re so selfish...”

“Haha.” Han Wanghuo laughed crazily. “Yes, I’m very selfish. I did all of this for the sake of being treated as a human, for the sake of obtaining recognition. But I’ve done so much and put in so much effort. In the end, all I hear is the word ‘Subhuman.'”

His gaze swept across Jiang Baimian, Shang Jianyao, and the others’ masks, and he said in a mocking tone, “If humans have a set of standards, then compared to Helvig and Anhebus—who can sell their weapons to hostile groups for their own benefit—those cowards who are still a burden when the enemy invades, or the Vigilance Church believers who can’t even afford basic trust, I think I’m not bad at being a human. Even if I’m forcing myself most of the time, I ultimately demanded myself to use human standards.”

Han Wanghuo laughed again loudly. “Yes, I’m a Subhuman. But compared to most people in this town and this world, I’m more like a human!”

Jiang Baimian was at a loss for a response. She even regretted asking the previous question.

At this moment, Shang Jianyao took two steps forward and looked at Han Wanghuo. He fell silent for a moment before saying, “I don’t know what to say, so I’ll dance for you.”

With that said, he did a few dance moves before turning around to leave.

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