Lie Huo Jiao Chou
After every great fire, there are ants that survive – Inscription.
On the outskirts of the capital city of Yong'an, there was a natural reserve in the Western Hills.
Two rounds of autumn rain had passed, and most of the red leaves on the hillside had fallen.
Few visitors were around, and the only sound came from the lonely evening drum in the temple.
Despite the already cold weather, Xuan Ji was sweating after climbing the mountain.
The Director Xiao who was leading the way walked too fast, rolling his feet like two windmills, and he ended up gliding to the back door of the mountaintop temple, leaving Xuan Ji breathless.
Director Xiao went to open the door, and Xuan Ji finally caught his breath, teasing, “Director Xiao, we are at least leading cadres now, can you be a little more stable? I've been nervous all the way, afraid that you might slip.”
“Stop talking nonsense, I still have other things to do later,” Director Xiao opened the door and impatiently waved his hand at him.
Director Xiao's full name was Xiao Zheng, he was around thirty years old, dressed in a suit without a wrinkle, sharp-featured, like a hard-to-please young man.
He hurriedly walked up the steps and led Xuan Ji through the staff passage of the temple, straight to the backyard where visitors were prohibited.
The backyard was empty except for an old well.
Director Xiao took out his wallet and waved his work ID card in front of the well.
“Remember to bring your ID card to work in the future.
You need to swipe your card to enter and exit.”
As soon as he finished speaking, a light “ding” sounded from the well.
Immediately after, the green stones around the well began to slowly separate, revealing a tunnel that could fit one person.
Director Xiao lowered his head and went in, and Xuan Ji quickly followed.
They walked for about a hundred meters in the tunnel before arriving at a flight of stone steps leading upwards.
After following the steps back up to the surface, Xuan Ji found himself in a dense forest.
Before he could get a good look, the surroundings were shrouded in thick fog, and the visibility dropped to less than one meter.
Then, a white light shot out from the forest and scanned over the two of them.
A mechanical voice said, “Identity verification, please wait – ding, verification passed.
Good evening, Director Xiao.
Welcome, new colleague.
Please be careful and stand firmly.”
Xuan Ji asked, “Ah? Stand where?”
As he spoke, the ground under his feet suddenly started to move.
Unprepared, Xuan Ji stumbled backward before he could steady himself.
The ground in the dense forest had become a huge conveyor belt, carrying the two of them through the labyrinth-like fog.
The plants hidden in the fog were indistinct and turned into afterimages, making the scene dazzling and dizzying.
After about five or six minutes, the conveyor belt gradually slowed down and came to a stop.
“We have arrived,” said Director Xiao.
The thick fog dissipated, and Xuan Ji looked up at the magnificent building in front of him.
After a moment, he slowly breathed out and said, “What an imposing sight!”
It was a skyscraper that seemed almost unreal, with its upper floors reaching into the clouds.
Two guards stood watch at the entrance, which was adorned with the national emblem and flag.
The ground was paved with white marble tiles, and there was a lively golden dragon etched onto the stone.
A large sign hung in the center, reading: National Bureau of Management, Prevention and Control of Exceptional Phenomena and Special Species.
This was the legendary Bureau of Paranormal Control,” one of the most mysterious “departments” and Xuan Ji's new workplace.
The introduction in the employee handbook quickly came to mind: “The Bureau of Paranormal Control is responsible for identifying, monitoring, and handling various non-natural events, as well as the movement of paranormal energy throughout the entire region, maintaining social order, and safeguarding national prosperity and stability.”
This department was responsible for managing events such as “illegal entry of vampire bats,” “appearance of unknown whirlpools in the city's rivers,” and “three-headed water monster incidents.”
In addition, the Bureau of Paranormal Control was the only official organization in which special ability holders could exercise autonomy.
According to the results of the 2010 sixth national census (internal data of the Bureau of Paranormal Control), approximately one in two hundred thousand people were special ability holders, also known as “specials.”
The official explanation for the existence of these people was that a small number of modern humans may have been careless about male-female relationships in the process of evolution, leaving some non-human blood and preserving some special genes in their descendants.
Of course, this theory is difficult to verify, as the special abilities of the “specials” are so diverse that each one is almost unique, and it is difficult to obtain sufficient sample data.
As for folk legends, they are much more interesting: it is said that in ancient times, the war between the human race and the demon race lasted for a hundred years, resulting in a long-standing blood feud.
The half-breeds left by the mixed-blood demon people were rejected by both sides and were forced to band together for warmth, eventually joining the army of Emperor Qi Wu.
With their help, Emperor Qi Wu defeated the demon king, and after peace was restored to the world, he established the Qingping Division to house these half-breeds.
The Qingping Division was the predecessor of the Bureau of Paranormal Control, and today's “specials” are the descendants of those mixed-blood half-breeds.
Of course, anyone with a little common sense knows that this claim is pure nonsense, as the Qingping Division was disbanded more than seven hundred years ago in history, and there is no connection to the Bureau of Paranormal Control, which was established in modern times.
In fact, the so-called “specials” are not that “special” at all.
In reality, most of them are not much different from ordinary people if they do not receive special training, with at most a slightly sharper sense of hearing or vision, and a more acute intuition.
They have some tiny, insignificant special abilities that are of little help in daily life.
The Bureau of Paranormal Control only recruits people on a targeted basis every year, not open to the general public, only selecting from “specials” and ordinary people who have “participated in exceptional energy events for some reason and have been documented.”
Xuan Ji met both criteria—he was a “special,” and an old friend of the Bureau of Paranormal Control.
Director Xiao was a very dignified and elegant person, and the fact that he personally came to pick up Xuan Ji shows that they have a close relationship.
Several years ago, when he was still Captain Xiao, he owed Xuan Ji a favor.
That time, Xiao's team went to arrest a group of illegal bats, but underestimated their intelligence and were tricked into a cold storage room by the bats, almost freezing to death.
Xuan Ji, who had just finished touring the night market, was passing by in his slippers.
He sat next to them and watched for a while, during which he enjoyed two kilograms of crayfish.
After finishing, he wiped his mouth, made a gesture, and summoned a large fireball, which he used to burn the bats.
As a result, he accidentally singed off half of Captain Xiao's handsome eyebrows.
Since then, Xuan Ji has had an inexplicable relationship with the Bureau of Paranormal.
Because of his mysterious and unpredictable arson technique, he was once on the bureau's watch list.
Later, because of his clean record and law-abiding nature, they couldn't find any problems and relaxed their surveillance of him, even trying to recruit him.
Unfortunately, at that time, Xuan Ji was still in college and was filled with illusions of “becoming a CEO, marrying a rich and beautiful woman, and reaching the pinnacle of life”.
Without even thinking about it, he refused, arrogantly replying with “forgive me for being a carefree and free-spirited person for life.”
Then society taught him a lesson.
After graduating, Xuan Ji quickly discovered that he was far less interested in making money than in spending it.
His ambitions were always thwarted by eating, drinking, and having fun.
After years of struggling, his biggest achievement was accepting the fact that he was going nowhere.
He worked as a salesperson in a small company and occasionally did live streaming.
When he was too poor to survive, he supplied content to some random marketing accounts, becoming a “money-spending” loser.
Due to industry restructuring, their company had been struggling since the beginning of the year, and after months of struggle, it finally went bankrupt.
Xuan Ji became an unemployed youth, and the marketing accounts that used to pay him for his content were reported for “feudal superstition”.
It seemed that troubles always came in pairs.
He still had to pay rent and credit card bills.
His love of freedom led him into poverty, and finally, after being beaten by society, he came to the conclusion that he needed a stable job.
So he bought books and took courses to prepare for the civil service exam.
It was at this time that Director Xiao, who had just been promoted, sent him a job notice.
Xuan Ji was someone who would rather beg for food on the street than join the Bureau of Paranormal Control, especially since he couldn't stand the militarized management of the field agents.
However, this job notice was different.
It was mainly for logistics personnel.
The logistics department of the Bureau of Paranormal was completely different from the field agents.
More than 80% of the staff were ordinary people, and except for having to abide by confidentiality regulations, they were no different from ordinary civil servants.
Xuan Ji thought about it and realized that ordinary civil service positions were open to the entire society, with thousands of people competing for one position, including the academic elites.
In contrast, the “civil servants” of the Bureau of Paranormal were restricted by the application requirements, and the competition pressure was almost non-existent.
Sneakily, Xuan Ji asked Director Xiao which position had the least number of applicants, and then threw away his exam preparation books and went to join the Bureau of Paranormal Control.
He applied for the Aftermath Department and participated in a written test and an interview.
It was said that after the job information was posted, there were six candidates including him from all over the country who intended to participate in the selection.
Among them, three were disqualified for reasons such as being overage, not knowing how to use the internet, or filling out important information incorrectly.
The remaining two candidates, one missed the exam and the other got into an argument with the interviewer during the interview, which did not meet the requirements of having an “easygoing character”.
In this way, the cordial Xuan Ji passed through two rounds without a fight and “defeated” five candidates.
Just after finishing his self-introduction during the interview, the interviewer confirmed his admission.
On his first day reporting for duty, Xuan Ji found everything fresh and new.
As soon as he stepped on the Hanbaiyu bricks at the entrance, the golden dragon moved, causing the stone bricks to shake slightly.
Then, a distant and solemn dragon roar sounded, and the golden scales on the dragon's body flickered.
Its majesty and elegance flowed out from under their feet, making way for the path, and finally, the dragon climbed up a stone pillar in front of the building.
“The dragon is a guide.
There are some external administrative windows in the headquarters that can register and issue credentials.
Foreign visitors are given temporary documents.
The dragon will plan the optimal route based on the type of document you have,” Xiao Zheng led Xuan Ji to the door next to the stone pillar where the golden dragon perched.
“The staff entrance is over here.”
Xuan Ji lowered his head and rubbed his eyes, using his thumb to wipe his eyelids.
A half-transparent, non-obstructing book appeared in h
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