Several directors of Monster Bureau and Special Human Bureau sat silently around the long table in the conference room. This meeting was chaired by an officer from the Security Department in the Capital City. This officer was in his fifties with deep wrinkles around his eyes. He looked like someone who was used to being obeyed.
Ying Qiao’s arrival now had their undivided attention.
The first to enter was Ya Yu, who was just beaten to submission, followed by Ying Qiao and Tai Feng.
The officer stood up and looked at Ya Yu, then gave Ying Qiao and Tai Feng a nod.” Well done, your two.”
Ying Qiao returned the nod without a word.
See Ying Qiao’s cold response, Tai Feng made up by saying.” It’s our duty.”
After this brief exchange, they took the vacant seats.
Ya Yu was tied in the corner like a cow. Fearing Ying Qiao’s rage, he didn’t dare to raise an objection this time to his treatment. Instead, he shrunk into the shadow.
The officer broke the silence. His voice was full of authority.” Everyone is here now. Let’s proceed.”
“Our men in the security department have done an analysis based on the number of cases we received by April 30 this year. Compared with last year, this number has risen by fifty per cent.”
He spoke slowly and clearly. Pausing briefly, he took in the looks on the faces of those present. Then he continued.”…… The analysis also indicates that more and more non-human races began to play a leading role in those cases.”
“This is an ominous signal.” He let out a deep sigh.
The land they plant their feet on has five thousand years of recorded human history. That history belongs exclusively to humans while other non-human races remained in the shadows. But if you look at the history before humans, you will see that humans are not the only race who had hogged the spotlight on the historical stage.
Deity, Monster, Devil……once dominated this land. They had played their part and receded backstage.
Although they vanished from sight, they still exist.
Now they began to awake from their long slumber and grew active again.
“Our Abbot Hong Yan consulted the celestial signs but failed to detect any abnormality.”
Master Dao Heng from Da Jue Temple spoke first. After giving a Buddhism blessing, he asked the Daoism monk beside him.” Did Master Qing Yun discover anything unusual?”
“Nothing so far.” Master Qing Yu solemnly shook his head.
Since the beginning of this year, reports of incidents happening all over the country began to trickle in. The spiritual circle was already aware that something unusual was taking place. But after much divination and celestial observation, the top masters still failed to detect any abnormality.
The celestial signs remained as usual, and the divinations were auspicious.
And they were very alarmed by this.
After the spiritual circle failed to contribute substantially, the focus was turned to the Monster Bureau.
After a bit of thought, Tai Feng said.” Based on the data we collected, I saw that more monsters had gained human intelligence this year than last year. But we couldn’t uncover the root cause after our investigation.”
After the nation’s founding, the general trend was that the number of monsters gaining human intelligence each year was decreasing. But since this year, it was reported that more and more monsters had gained human intelligence, bucking the trend.
It was supposed to be a cause for celebration because of the tiny monster population. But the trouble was that those monsters with newly acquired human intelligence were ill-educated, which, together with their lingering wild-beast nature, led to many conflicts with their host society. Besides, many long disappeared ancient monsters had resurfaced again.
Ya Yu, who was tied in the corner, was one of them.
Ya Yu was initially an ancient deity with a human head and the body of a snake. He was later slain by another god Er Fu. But after his death, his hatred metamorphosed into a man-eating monster with a human head and the body of a bull. He was slain again in ancient times by a hero to eliminate the threat to man.
The long-extinct Ya Yu resurfaced in Jiang City suddenly; luckily, he didn’t have time to cause much harm. But this phenomenon demanded close attention.
Ya Yu’s reappearance was the reason for convening this meeting.
After much debate, they still remained clueless.
The officer’s gaze turned to Ying Qiao, he said.” Mr Ying, do you have anything to add?”
Ying Qiao was content to remain on the sideline for the duration of the meeting. He was entirely free of any sign of anxiety, in sharp contrast with the people around.
He spoke slowly.” No.”
The officer signed, but obviously, he had seen him behaving like this before. So he gave up further probing. Shaking his head, he said with a grim look.”This meeting failed to produce anything conclusive; the only option left to us is to remain vigilant.”
Then he turned to Tai Feng.” Ya Yu is a special case. We need to transfer him to the Capital city.”
Tai Feng didn’t object and started immediately to arrange the transfer with the officer’s assistant.
This brief meeting was therefore concluded.
Tai Feng and Ying Qiao took the elevator together to the tenth floor, where they had their office. Only two of them were in the elevator. Ying Qiao was deep in thought while his thumb moved across his phone screen.
Tai Feng looked at Ying Qiao suspiciously and said.” You really didn’t have any clue?”
Giving him a glance, Ying Qiao said.” No.”
Lowering his head, he began to type a text message.
Tai Feng said.” I have a terrible feeling that this thing might become complicated. We have to send out notices asking various branches to be on alert.”
“Good.” Ying Qiao answered absent-mindedly, deleting the texts he just typed and started a new line.
A little annoyed by this attitude, Tai Feng craned his neck to get a view of his phone screen, then he marvelled.” Did you just send someone a text message?”
Ying Qiao was usually too impatient to send a text message. He preferred phone calls, quick and easy. Tai Feng had known him for a long time and rarely seen him sending a text message with such patience.
“We are on the tenth floor.”
Ying Qiao shut off the phone screen to stop him from reading the text message. Pocketing his phone, he looked at Tai Feng unfriendly.” Get out.”
Tai Feng complained.” You don’t….”
Ying Qiao quickly pushed the close button.
The door was closed in his face. Looking at the descending elevator, Tai Feng was puzzled.” How come he acts so strange today? Maybe I was right? Menopause?”
After their business was done, Jiang Lan left the hall with Xiao Hei.
His phone rang, and Suan Ni in the bag lifted the phone to him.” A text message!”
A message from Ying Qiao.
“I forgot to mention it when we met. If we decide to put on a show, we have to make it real. Before this charade is done, I think it’s a good idea to put our real love life on hold to avoid complicating things. Sounds good to you?”
This suggestion was reasonable, and Jiang Lan quickly agreed. It doesn’t look like his real love will knock on his door any moment now.
Sensing his phone vibrating, Ying Qiao picked up the phone and read the reply from Jiang Lan.
[Little Monster:” Ok.”]
“Little Monster” was the Alias Ying Qiao assigned to Jiang Lan in his WeChat.
Pocketing his phone, Ying Qiao squinted through the ground hall window at the two departing figures. He thought that the little monster appeared so simple-minded, unlikely to betray his trust.
Even though they just pretended to be a couple, he would lose face if the little monster had a love affair with someone else.
Jiang Lan was unaware of Ying Qiao’s gaze. He returned to the residential compound with Xiao Hei.
They were out for a while now. Worried that Grandpa Yao might look for him after waking from a nap, Xiao Hei returned to his bird form and flew back. After letting his little brother out of the backpack, Jiang Lan planned to order a takeout dinner. When he was scanning the food menu on MeituanA Chinese online platform that retails and delivers food from local restaurants, Xiao Hei flew back, shouting.” Grandpa Yao passed out.”
They immediately went to Grandpa Yao’s home. In the emergency, Jiang Lan performed a little magic to force open the locked door. On entering, they saw Grandpa Yao lay face down on the floor; it appeared that he passed out on his way out.
After confirming he was still breathing, they called 120The emergency number for the first-aid ambulance in China. Xiao Hei almost forgot to transform into a human form in his shock. After he regained his composure, he did that and waited for the ambulance.
An ambulance soon arrived. After the medical workers performed first aid treatment, they gently moved him into the vehicle and left for the hospital.
Grandpa Yao didn’t have any children, and Xiao Hei was entirely ignorant of the hospital procedures. So Jiang Lan took charge of everything while Xiao Hei attended Grandpa Yao and waited for the test result in low spirit.
Luckily Grandpa Yao received timely medical attention and wasn’t in immediate danger. But they were depressed when a doctor told them Grandpa Yao’s condition.
Grandpa Yao was terminally ill. Because he didn’t have any relatives to take care of him and he was very old, he gave up further treatment. The doctor predicted he would have one year to live if he could maintain a positive and healthy attitude.
Saddened by this prediction, Xiao Hei lowered his head.
Jiang Lan tried to comfort him.” Grandpa Yao has already made peace with his fate. We should control our grief. Let’s try to spend more time with him in the remaining time.”
Xiao Hei nodded. He memorized the nurse’s instructions and stayed silently by Grandpa Yao’s bed.
After making sure everything was in order, Jiang Lan went back home. He didn’t want to leave Suan Ni alone at home for too long.
After having his dinner with his little brother, Jiang Lan ordered a takeout clay pot riceA traditional dish in Southern China, main ingredients are steamed rice, Cantonese sausages and cured porkfor Xiao Hei, together with a basket of fruits, he brought them to the hospital with his little brother.
Grandpa Yao woke up at around eight o’clock and was puzzled by the sight of Jiang Lan and Xiao Hei at his bedside.
Xiao Hei offered him some warm water.” You passed out, so we brought you to the hospital.”
Grandpa Yao tried to recall what happened.” Oh, yes, Da Hei disappeared, so I went downstairs to look for her. Before I reached the door, I passed out. Thank you for your help!”
Hearing that Grandpa Yao wanted to look for Da Hei, Xiao Hei became very sad.
Jiang Lan said.” Don’t worry, Da Hei is home waiting for you. You fractured your kneecap when you fell. So I am afraid you have to stay here for a few days. I will take care of her while you recover.”
Grandpa Yao kept thanking him and offered to pay back the medical expenses. Jiang Lan accepted the medical expenses but declined the money offered to compensate for his trouble.
For the rest of the holiday, Jiang Lan and Xiao Hei took turns taking care of Grandpa Yao. But Jiang Lan would start his job in the street administration office after the holiday. The job of attending Granpa Yao would fall to Xiao Hei alone.
Grandpa Yao didn’t want to trouble them anymore. He said he would hire a care worker.
Xiao Hei became very agitated at this and tried to change Grandpa Yao’s mind.”There is no need to hire a care worker while I am perfectly capable of taking care of you.”
Grandpa Yao smiled.” Your young men have your own life. I don’t want to tie you down.”
Xiao Hei didn’t know how to persuade Grandpa Yao. Looking at Jiang Lan desperately, he wanted him to intervene.
After a little thought, Jiang Lan said.” If you want to hire a care worker, I think there are no better candidates than Xiao Hei. He just left his previous job to return here. He hasn’t started to look for a new job and a flat. He will accept any wage, and if you are willing to rent a room to him, you can deduct the rent from his salary.”
Xiao Hei kept nodding.”Yes, Yes, Yes.”
Grandpa Yao was smart enough to recognize these two young men’s good intentions. He gladly accepted this suggestion without arguing.
Xiao Hei was overjoyed at Grandpa Yao’s acceptance. Finally, he could live inside Mr.’s Yao’s home in a human form.
Jiang Lan returned home early to get ready for his first day in his new job tomorrow.
In the morning, dressed in a black suit and white shirt, Jiang Lan scanned the barcode on a shared bike and pedalled off to the office.
Suan Ni stayed in his usual place, the backpack. The street was almost empty in the early morning, so he raised his head to get some fresh air.
Jiang Lan smiled.” Unlike the special service branch office where we can be a little relaxed about your presence, the new office has many humans. You have to take care to hide. Don’t’ get discovered.”
Suan Ni nodded.” What does the street administration office do?”
Jiang Lan wasn’t so clear about that either. After a thought, he said.” Serving people?.”
Not sure about his brother’s answer, Suan Ni shrunk back into the backpack.
Hanyang Street Administration office was only one kilometre from where they live. It didn’t take long to commute to the office.
The office wasn’t very spacious, but it appeared to be regularly cleaned. It wasn’t office hours yet, and the glass door was closed but unlocked. Jiang Lan walked in.
No one was in the front hall. Some noises were coming from the rooms in the back. He followed the sound and knocked on the door.
The sound stopped, and a young man appeared. Blocking the doorway with his body, he asked.” How may I help you?”
Jiang Lan smiled.” I am here for my new job.”
The young man seemed to recall something, and then he turned and shouted.” Alarm dismissed, it’s our new colleague.”
Then he opened the door and led Jiang Lan into the room while complaining.” Your dress is so formal, it just scared me.”TL’s note: he probably mistook Jiang lan for a inspector from Discipline Committee(long story, I will write a post about this)who visit various offices unannounced to check on their job … Continue reading
Jiang Lan’s instinct told him something was not quite right. Following him, he caught the fragrant scent of tea brewing. At the source of the smell, a man in his fifties was brewing tea while holding a newspaper. Seeing Jiang Lan, he smiled kindly.” Are you Jiang? Your office desk was prepared for you. When the office hour starts, Xue will walk you through the onboarding procedure.”
Facing the middle-aged man, a young girl was busy applying her makeup. She greeted Jiang Lan without raising her head.
The young man introduced himself as Xue Meng. After led him to a vacant desk, he said.” This is your desk. Uncle Zhou has cleaned it for you. If you find any office stationery missing, I will put in a request for you after you complete the onboarding procedure.”
Pointing to the closed door on the other side, he said.” That’s the chief’s office. He is not here yet. You wait here and finish your breakfast.”
After this, he returned to his desk for his rice noodles.
Perhaps to avoid any awkwardness, he fished out a packet of biscuits after two sips of noodle soup and offered it to Jiang Lan. “Please.”
After accepting the biscuits, Jiang Lan exchanged a blank look with his little brother.
This place was not at all what he expected.
|↑1||A Chinese online platform that retails and delivers food from local restaurants|
|↑2||The emergency number for the first-aid ambulance in China|
|↑3||A traditional dish in Southern China, main ingredients are steamed rice, Cantonese sausages and cured pork|
|↑4||TL’s note: he probably mistook Jiang lan for a inspector from Discipline Committee(long story, I will write a post about this)who visit various offices unannounced to check on their job performance|