Matryoshka Off-Limits Chapter 38

Chapter 38 Big Factory

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He said he was fine, but Wen Shi’s beautiful eyes revealed hidden weariness, leaving Zhou Xiaochun puzzled.

When they were leaving the dorm lobby, they met Tu Bianxi, who was quite stubborn. He stayed on the first floor last night.

Tu Bianxi looked surprised for a moment when he saw Wen Shi. He felt strong discomfort too. It seemed that the newbie had become stronger overnight.

The two were not on the same wavelength. While Wen Shi wondered where the puppet doll on Tu Bianxi’s shoulder had gone, Zhou Xiaochun suddenly yelled. The doll had somehow ended up on his shoulder, holding a bottle of Beautiful Soul Elixir.

“Do you want some Beautiful Soul Elixir? It’s quite helpful,” the puppet doll said with an odd tone.

It wasn’t on purpose. It was because the voice was naturally high-pitched.

“Do you want it?” The puppet doll’s face came really close. Zhou Xiaochun quickly looked away from the gaze of those dead eyes.

Hand-delivering gifts? Tu Bianxi surprisingly had moments when he wanted to get friendly with people?

Wen Shi watched this scene with interest.

Tu Bianxi: “I can ensure your safety in the instance.”

Though not the best sort, his promise held true.

Zhou Xiaochun thought earnestly for a few seconds and ultimately, a bit embarrassed, declined, “No merit, no reward.”

Tu Bianxi was formidable but his methods were too ruthless. He and Ji Yuanzhi had tackled an instance together once. He preferred to place his bets on Ji Yuanzhi.

Hearing his refusal, Tu Bianxi narrowed his eyes without worry and added with a dual meaning, “We’ll be forming teams shortly, so make your decision.”

If not an ally, then only an adversary.

Zhou Xiaochun nodded as before.

The puppet doll retracted its outstretched hand, finally glancing at him. Those murky eyes sent a shiver through Zhou Xiaochun.

Tu Bianxi left the dormitory door with the puppet doll. Wen Shi gazed at his departing figure and said, “Didn’t the prompt mention that this team assignment for the upcoming battle would be determined by NPCs?”

By the looks of Tu Bianxi, it seemed he could influence the outcome.

Ji Yuanzhi remained calm. “Perhaps he has a different idea.”

Being notified to gather downstairs at seven o’clock, no one dared to disobey.

When Wen Shi came down, it was around six forty. Only fourteen players remained. The casualties from last night were severe.

All of them had donned the work uniforms distributed yesterday, with trainee badges pinned to their chests. The senior employees didn’t need to be at the factory until eight o’clock, so not many were heading downstairs at this time. Among this group, five were in the best spirits: Ji Yuanzhi, Tu Bianxi, the twin sisters known as Big Sis and Lil Sis, and a member of the Seventh Commandment. The rest were either injured or sporting two large dark circles under their eyes.

Two people were quietly discussing the monster siege from last night:

“They started attacking normal people too. Do you think the monsters might undergo a second transformation?”

“Who knows? Let’s hope it doesn’t escalate to an S-level instance.”

The most surprising change was Overseer Zhao. The same Overseer Zhao who would almost size people up with his chin yesterday was now wearing a hat and an oddly mismatched pair of sunglasses. After counting the group, he noticed one intern was missing, but he didn’t care where the person had gone. He croaked, “What are the names of those who didn’t show up?”

“Li Jing, Wu Dali…” Ji Yuanzhi’s voice was clear, even in the morning. He listed all the absent players. As he responded, he received a notification that the overseer’s favorability had increased by one.

Overseer Zhao marked a big “X” next to these names using a red pen, then folded the list and gestured for everyone to follow him.

The leaves on the trees lining the road appeared even more pale and feeble than yesterday. The road was unusually clean. The broadcast was playing loudly:

“Now broadcasting the weather forecast released by the meteorological station at 6:00 AM. Today, the weather will be clear with some clouds, and the maximum temperature will reach 33 degrees Celsius. Air pollution is severe, so please try to limit outdoor activities.”

“We interrupt with an urgent message. An incident occurred at the sanatorium last night. The count of casualties among staff is still being assessed. Numerous patients in treatment escaped the hospital, and some of them may have undergone a transformation. Please stay safe, take precautions…”

Quite a number experiencing a transformation.

Wen Shi sneered. Wasn’t it the monsters swarming out?

The broadcast concluded with, “Ladies and gentlemen, do not panic. You can always trust the sanatorium.”

Overseer Zhao was up ahead, muttering something while walking. In the distance, a chimney emitted thick creamy smoke as it worked relentlessly. For some reason, Wen Shi felt an intense sense of dissonance regarding the dormitory and the sanatorium. It was as though he had overlooked something.

Players’ phones vibrated one after another, all receiving alerts about severe pollution. The pungent smell in the air grew stronger.

Wen Shi contemplated whether to buy a mask from the in-game store but then gave up. Despite the announcement of severe pollution, there was no mention of wearing masks. Perhaps such an action could trigger the death rule.

Zhou Xiaochun covered his nose and walked between Wen Shi and Ji Yuanzhi. “Did monsters reach your floor last night?”

Wen Shi nodded.

Zhou Xiaochun was curious. “Then how did you manage to handle them?”

Wen Shi simply replied, “There weren’t many high-level monsters.”

Walking ahead, Zhou Xiaochun brought up the topic of Soul Purity again.

While Wen Shi pondered why the teenager hadn’t come down with Overseer Zhao, wondering if something had happened, he absentmindedly said, “When you’re not feeling scared or anxious, your Soul Purity drops by about one point per hour until six o’clock, when the fall stops.”

His Soul Purity had now dropped to ninety-eight.

Zhou Xiaochun’s expression revealed envy.

Seeing this, Wen Shi raised an eyebrow, figuring that the drop downstairs must be even greater, likely due to some people already using Beautiful Soul Elixir.

Nearby, Ji Yuanzhi removed his glasses, wiped them on his work uniform sleeve, and finally spoke, “The average initial value of a player’s Soul Purity is around eighty. For those who encountered trouble last night, apart from being killed due to a significant strength difference with the monsters, excessive nervousness was also a factor leading to their deaths.”

Some may be cunning and cruel, but being naturally timid puts them at a disadvantage when faced with instances where emotions serve as a disruption.

Wen Shi was even more curious about how he arrived at this initial average value.

“Just a guess. The game prompt uses eighty as the initial threshold, and it’s highly likely that the assigned values for each person are similar. If the difference is too significant, what’s the point of fighting this group battle?”

Wen Shi didn’t believe this conclusion was based on mere guesswork. However, everyone has their secrets, and he didn’t probe further.

It wasn’t yet time for work, and the sun hadn’t fully risen. The entire factory appeared quite desolate. Just as Wen Shi was about to inquire about the teenager’s situation, Overseer Zhao suddenly stopped in his tracks ahead and took out the crumpled list once again.

“Today, we’ll be assigning you to different workshops. Those whose names I call shortly will go to Workshop One, and those I don’t call will head to Workshop Two.”

While just briefly mentioned yesterday, Overseer Zhao provided a more detailed explanation today: “There are three workshops, each with different benefits. The primary factors affecting wages and perks are the job roles. Remember, general workers involved in raw material cleaning hold little status here at Big Factory. They belong to the third-tier workers and need to earn their place. Cutting and shipping workers are second-tier. Additionally, we have a collaboration with the sanatorium, where medical staff hold the first-tier status. You all are interns, even lower than the third-tier workers in position, so show respect when interacting with them.

“You’ll have a three-day probation period, followed by a six-month internship. Cherish this time and absorb all you can learn. If you perform well, promotion isn’t a distant dream! Remember, the factory manager pays close attention to grassroots employees. If you aspire to ascend to higher management positions like workshop supervisor or warehouse manager, you must have experience in grassroots work.

“In short, as long as you don’t work yourself to death, work as hard as you can! The eight-hour workday is the official policy, but what you can achieve privately, whether you need to put in extra hours, you should know in your hearts.”

Zhou Xiaochun muttered a curse under his breath, “I knew it. The lie about the eight-hour workday is as hollow as my waist.”

Wen Shi: “……”

Using an over the top metaphor was quite unnecessary.

The benefits in Workshop Two were better, and many players hoped to be assigned there.


The first name called was Wen Shi’s.

Including Wen Shi himself, most players felt a mild surprise. Overseer Zhao had previously mentioned that the final assignments would depend on last night’s performance. Pei Wenwei was one of those in relatively good spirits among them. Besides, his younger brother had returned to the room with the overseer yesterday, so a bit of favoritism wasn’t unexpected.

Glancing at Overseer Zhao, some noticed that the stunning teenager wasn’t by his side. A few individuals couldn’t help but think with a hint of schadenfreude, wondering if he had been eliminated. The NPCs in instances were not to be trifled with. Trying to manipulate them with charm was laughable.

Before they could relish the schadenfreude too long, Overseer Zhao announced the second name, “Lin Fei.”

It was Ji Yuanzhi’s name in the instance.

Everyone was completely taken aback, overturning their speculations about the allocation rules. Only Tu Bianxi remained entirely composed, calmly observing Wen Shi as several names were called out.

As anticipated, the twin sisters, Liu Yun and Liu Yuan, were assigned to the same workshop. Among the remaining two, Wen Shi wasn’t very familiar with them. Fortunately, Zhou Xiaochun was there, being talkative as ever. He briefly introduced himself and then presented the virtual identities of the other two: one was named Lv Tang, and the other was Zhang Suihe.

Almost in the instant Overseer Zhao finished speaking, a notification sound chimed:

【Team Assignments Completed】

【Competing Teams: New Employee Team One (77), New Employee Team Two (77)】

【Location: Big Factory】

【Task Deadline: Before the End of Next Month】

【Challenge Objective: Compete for Outstanding New Employee Spots】

【Dear challengers, money is just proof of our labor. We’re striving for the future of all humanity! To promote Big Factory’s corporate culture, we’ve launched the first Outstanding New Employees Selection Program. Three exceptional new employees will be selected before the end of next month.

【This activity has set up an incentive fund: 15,000 yuan! Enhanced Beautiful Soul Elixir*6! Surprise mystery boxes, three of them!】

【Challenging teams, strive to carve a path of blood and snatch the Outstanding New Employee spots from your fellow interns before the selection concludes.】

【The team with the most spots obtained will claim final victory. If no team secures any spots in the end, all participating players will be eliminated. If two teams each obtain a spot, all participating players except the spot holders will be eliminated.】

【Spot holders from the losing team enjoy penalty exemption and inheritance rights.】

【Inheritance Rights: Inherit 50% of the deceased teammate’s wealth.】

A separate panel pops up on each player’s personal interface:

【Please enter the player number of your preferred team leader.】

【Team victory grants the leader special rewards, with a final settlement bonus of 10%.】

【Remaining time for captain selection: 1 day】

【Believe that a day is enough for you to get to know each other. Choose your preferred team leader quickly!】

Players received a notification sound, and the attribute panel began displaying their current team.

Seizing this opportunity, Wen Shi approached Overseer Zhao and asked in a low voice, “Where’s my little brother?”

With work placements already assigned, he didn’t mind offending the overseer.

The other person remained silent, standing coldly in place.

Wen Shi’s voice was equally chilling. As he browsed through the torturing items in the in-game store, he approached the individual. “I’m asking you a question, where’s my little brother?”

Each word dripped with bone-chilling coldness and murderous intent.

Though he hadn’t spent much time with the teenager, he could sense the cold soul beneath that stunning exterior. If everything had gone smoothly last night, Overseer Zhao might not have survived today.

After a tense standoff lasting a few minutes, surprisingly, it was Overseer Zhao’s emotions that crumbled first. He removed his sunglasses, revealing swollen, tear-streaked eyes. His face appeared worn and aged, as if he had aged ten years.

Wen Shi hesitated, his forceful questioning losing its momentum.

…Mate, what’s wrong with you?

“He ran away!” Overseer Zhao’s voice hoarse and cracked as he roared, “We barely exchanged a few words when we entered the building yesterday. He said he was going to dispose of some trash, and the next moment, he was gone, running off with the man from the sixth floor!”

After speaking, Overseer Zhao’s tears burst forth, and he cried out in anguish, pounding his chest forcefully.

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