Chapter 43 Big Factory
Did the factory manager have to be there to choose the outstanding new employees?
Those game capitalists were just greedy exploiters!
Wen Shi thought quietly, “Tell me quickly that the factory manager is just one of the judges, tell me!”
He looked up nervously and saw that everyone, even Ji Yuanzhi, was watching him. Their expressions were mixed, more than just shock from hearing about the factory manager’s murder or happiness from winning the team battle.
Alright, it looked like the game let everyone know that the factory manager was the judge.
You scoundrel, I’ll take you down eventually.
Only when the senior employees finished cleaning up and asked Wen Shi if he wanted to join for dinner, did the silence finally end.
“I’ll head over later.”
The senior employees didn’t dare to stay too long with him. After giving him a meal card, they immediately flew away like birds released from a cage.
Once they left, Liu Yun’s throat felt dry. “Did you kill the judge?”
Wen Shi weakly smiled. “It wasn’t all my doing. The factory manager had caught the virus before.”
Afraid they wouldn’t believe, Wen Shi even raised his hand, making a swearing gesture. “It’s true.”
He was at most the person who pulled out the oxygen tube at the bedside.
After a brief pause, the notification sound started playing again—
“One of the judges for this event passed away unexpectedly. In order to continue the spirit and culture advocated by the factory manager, the selection of outstanding new employees will proceed.”
Upon hearing this, Wen Shi finally breathed a sigh of relief.
It was a relief it didn’t crash. If it crashed now like the first instance, wouldn’t the efforts of the first round of team battles go to waste?
Players finally accepted reality and focused on discussing the reasons for the difficulty increase.
Zhang Suihe’s lifeless eyes suddenly became spirited. “Because they added a new boss?”
The factory manager’s death had not been discovered yet. No one was sure about his state before dying, whether he’d return to dust or turn into a monster. Going by the game’s pattern, the latter possibility was more likely.
Ji Yuanzhi pondered for a moment, then shook his head almost at the same time as Wen Shi: “Not possible.”
They exchanged a glance. Ji Yuanzhi gestured for Wen Shi to go first.
“If the factory manager were really that formidable, he wouldn’t have died so easily.” Wen Shi wasn’t making excuses for himself. Jian Qingrong had already secretly administered some unknown substance to the factory manager. Even if Wen Shi hadn’t acted, the factory manager wouldn’t have lasted much longer.
After he stopped, Ji Yuanzhi only spoke a word: “Judge.”
Without the factory manager, the game introduced a new judge. This judge was probably the real deadly threat.
Convinced, Zhang Suihe fell silent for a moment before saying, “This instance is quite strange.”
The selection of outstanding employees generally started from factors like attendance, technical skills, or outstanding contributions to the company. However, the tasks given in the instance had all been contrary to these standards.
“The prompt mentioned promoting the company’s spirit and culture,” Ji Yuanzhi said, “It’s just a mechanism for elimination.”
One didn’t necessarily have to be the best, just ensure there was no competition.
The fact that a member from the losing team of the first round of team battles needed to be voted out showed that the game was indirectly encouraging players to engage in true cutthroat competition. This was the corporate culture that【Big Factory】aimed to instill.
“And…,” Ji Yuanzhi sneered, “The team battle tasks only have punishments, no rewards.”
Even Soul Purity was scarce, as if they were eager for more casualties.
Everyone took a deep breath upon hearing this. It was true. If the other team ended up with no members, victory would naturally be theirs.
This inevitably brought to mind the direction of the instance in【Night of the Horror Ancient Castle】essentially involving mutual elimination.
Unable to resist, Liu Yun glanced at Wen Shi. She casually leaned against the control panel. At just over twenty years old, he hadn’t even had much exposure to the real world, yet it was this seemingly gentle exterior that led to the current situation in the second round and the instance’s current escalation.
Coincidentally, as Wen Shi lifted his eyelids, a hint of inherent cruelty shone through his shallower pupils compared to most people. For no apparent reason, Liu Yun felt a chill run down her spine.
Could it be that he really had a hidden antisocial personality?
“I think you’re considering this a bit too aggressively.”
Wen Shi looked at everyone with a lack of understanding. “Why always resort to violence when faced with a situation? Didn’t we say the key is the judge? Naturally, we should establish good relations with the leader and strengthen social connections.”
The cold feeling that Liu Yun felt before vanished, replaced by a difficult-to-express sentiment.
Players were cunning, and NPCs weren’t necessarily well-intentioned characters. Even with good relationships, there was no guarantee they wouldn’t betray them in the end. What was the use of trying to build connections?
Sensing her thoughts, Wen Shi sighed. “Do you know the benefits of becoming a dormitory supervisor?”
Liu Yun belatedly recalled the respectful attitude of the senior employees during the day and asked in astonishment, “Could it be…”
“The residents on this floor will follow your lead,” Wen Shi said with a smile on his lips, extending three fingers. “So, here’s what we need to do: First, find out who the judge is; Second, determine which floor they live on; Third, become the dormitory supervisor on that floor.”
What team battles, side quests, work tasks… they were all nonsense. Climbing upwards was what a decent person should be doing.
Furthermore, the game advocated for truth, kindness, and beauty. At any time, if the intention was to harm others, it would eventually backfire. Unfortunately, influenced by the larger context, most players believed that not harming others was synonymous with being defenseless, which was foolish. This was a complete misrepresentation of the concept.
After speaking, Wen Shi shook his head and followed the usual factory requirement of turning off the lights in the workspace and checking if the windows were properly closed. “But now I’m more curious about who will Tu Biaxi’s team vote out.”
Ji Yuanzhi gave a straightforward answer, “They’ll kick out the ones with attack skills.”
Usually, attack skills could be balanced with items.
“……” Lv Tang, who also possessed attack skills, felt the world’s deep malice.
Before leaving the workshop, the group cast their votes for the team leader. Wen Shi, who offered them free lunch and work leniency, was elected with the highest number of votes.
“Player 460872 has been successfully elected as the captain of Team One.”
“Congratulations on selecting a player with the maximum initial Soul Purity from all participants as your team captain. Group Soul Purity +2.”
The group was left stunned.
Game, are you speaking human language?
Wen Shi remained calm. A perfect score was nothing to boast about. Later on, there was even an overflow.
The sky outside had already darkened.
As they stepped outside, they happened to see two workers in heavily protective suits assisting a player.
The protective suits the workers wore were quite different from the ones worn by the laborers unloading goods every morning. They were very thick, with a layer of embedded soft armor on the surface. Passing senior employees automatically stood off to the side upon seeing them, their expressions betraying a hint of fear.
Ji Yuanzhi took out binoculars. “There’s a capital letter ‘F’ embroidered on the chest of their protective suits.”
It was quite worn, making it hard to notice without close inspection.
Wen Shi immediately thought of Frank Hospital. “They’re from the sanatorium.”
“I’m not contaminated!” The captured player struggled desperately, attempting to boost Soul Purity by consuming Beautiful Soul Elixir. However, all efforts were in vain as the workers heartlessly continued to drag the person away.
With no other option, the player had to resist using items. He knew that once taken away, there would be no escape.
【You have been categorized as a contaminated individual. All damage dealt during the transfer process is considered ineffective attacks.】
The system’s prompt left him momentarily stunned.
The workers mechanically issued a warning to Wen Shi and the others who were attempting to get a closer look.
Not far away, Tu Bianxi’s team was also present, apparently observing what punishment the member they selected for elimination would face.
The workers didn’t allow anyone to follow, so in the end, everyone could only watch as the player vanished from their sight.
“Indeed, it’s the teammate who has attack skills.” Lv Tang’s overly developed muscles twitched a bit. “I know that person, his name is Qu Zikun. His skills are related to knives.”
Soon, he couldn’t afford to sympathize with others anymore. The system sent a notification to Lv Tang, urging him to quickly settle today’s fines, including the Beautiful Soul Elixir promised during the interview and the credit owed to Hai Sheng.
“Failing to repay debts will result in a 5-point drop in Soul Purity at the start of each workday.”
Everyone except Wen Shi received repayment reminders.
The corrupt factory didn’t pay wages during the probation period. They had to rely on night shifts to earn some extra money.
Lv Tang said in distress, “I asked around—the original version of Beautiful Soul Elixir was priced at thirty yuan per bottle for employees, the improved version was eighty yuan, and the enhanced version was a hundred yuan.”
Compared to the debt accrued during the interview, the fine for today’s work was nothing at all.
Wen Shi: “If all else fails, we’ll have to deal with the creditors.”
“……” Who was it that just said they were thinking too aggressively?
Regardless, they definitely had to earn night shift wages. Wen Shi himself was prepared to stock up on Beautiful Soul Elixir. Reports about air pollution played on the broadcast over and over again, and it was still ongoing. It was likely that before long, even a purity level of 101 wouldn’t hold up.
Everyone unanimously followed Hai Sheng’s advice and headed towards the guardhouse.
Zhou Xiaochun leaned in close to Wen Shi. “They’re all looking at you.”
He was referring to Tu Bianxi’s team. Even the doll-faced girl spoke up with interest, “You seem quite skilled at killing.”
Wen Shi: “……”
Just shut up, you genius!
The guard who used to boast about his horse racing stories inside the guardhouse was absent. The new guard, who hadn’t undergone a proper handover, was put on duty directly. He made several mistakes during the day, like when Hai Sheng went out to withdraw money at noon, he didn’t ask for a supervisor-issued travel permit, resulting in a scolding from the superior who inspected their work in the afternoon.
“Are you here to ask about someone missing? I think it’s an inside job, theft and running away,” the new guard complained incessantly.
Since the game allowed players to attempt to communicate with the original guard, the fact of his death was beyond doubt. Tu Bianxi, who was leading the way, clarified their purpose, “Our superior has asked us to collect the night shift duty manual and provide a simple training.”
The guard scrambled around, searching in a fluster.
The guardhouse was quite small, and both teams would be cramped if they tried to squeeze in. Wen Shi and the others stood outside.
The guard opened a cabinet, causing a heap of poorly arranged booklets to tumble out. The black covers with red lettering bore no extra embellishments, drawing particular attention to the title, “Big Factory Night Shift Duty Manual.”
The square letters were cramped into a single line, glinting with a cold hue. Just the cover alone sent shivers down one’s spine.
The guard picked them up from the floor and impatiently distributed one to each player in succession.
Wen Shi also received one. The lightweight booklet felt icy smooth on the surface. Opening it, all the content was written in red ink:
Night Shift Security Job Requirements:
1. Do not sleep, do not sleep, do not sleep!
2. Patrolling alone is not recommended. You’ll need a companion to remind you not to doze off.
3. Please be aware of the dangers of staying up late. During the first hour of your night shift, your skin may crack open. After two hours, your brain will suffer damage and your memory will decline. Three hours in, excessive stomach acid secretion will cause pain and vomiting. Four hours in, due to excessive eye strain, your vision will start to deteriorate and blur… possibly even leading to brief blindness. By the fifth hour, you’ll become agitated and irritable. During the sixth hour of your night shift, your heart will weaken, and there’s a risk of sudden death.
At this point, do everything in your power to crawl out of the workshop, burn the duty manual, and leave a message: You were just taking a stroll, never on a night shift. Big Factory has no intention of compensating for your death.
4. To uphold compassion, Big Factory only requires employees to work a six-hour night shift, from 10 PM to 4 AM the following day. Please leave the workshop promptly after 4 AM.
5. As of late, there’s a shortage of factory electric batons, so they won’t be distributed to employees for now.
6. Only Workshop Three requires night shift security. After patrolling, make sure to complete the registration. Teams need to eliminate members who haven’t finished their patrols at 4 AM. Note that the player with the most patrol locations cannot be eliminated.
The surroundings echoed with gasps of shock. Zhou Xiaochun held his chest in pain. “My heart rhythm is already irregular.”
Wen Shi spoke with a deep voice. “The world needs entrepreneurship.”
Beside him, Zhou Xiaochun had already closed the booklet, not wanting to look at it anymore. He sighed, “But entrepreneurship requires capital, doesn’t it?”
Wen Shi became serious. “Ever heard of direct inheritance-style entrepreneurship?”
Zhou Xiaochun shook his head. “What does that mean?”
Wen Shi smiled gently. “I was just making things up.”
Zhou Xiaochun inexplicably felt that his smile was even more chilling than the words in the booklet.
Wen Shi continued flipping through the pages. A series of locations were listed: Archives Room, Quality Inspection Area, Shipping Warehouse… Each one had a checkbox, and after patrolling, one was supposed to mark it with a “√” at the back.
After reading through it all, he reminded Zhou Xiaochun, “Read it all.”
“You need to read it all for the prompts to appear.”
Like a scanner, Zhou Xiaochun quickly scanned through. True enough, a prompt sound played:
“Congratulations, you’ve learned how to slack off during daytime work, marking a step towards becoming a mature employee.”
“As an outstanding employee, you should assist your colleagues, but also learn to politely decline. During the night shift, if a senior employee asks for your help and they’re human, try your best to assist them. They’ll repay you. Conversely, if you believe they’re not humans, immediately tell the seeker, ‘Handle your own matters.'”
“Those seeking help are often emotionally fragile and sensitive. Preserve their self-esteem.”
“Keep it up, new employee! Your kindness must have an edge.”
It was already an S-level horror scenario, what the heck was this kindness about!
Zhou Xiaochun was so angry he felt like cursing.
The guard didn’t even understand his own job, let alone training. He used the opportunity to make this group of cheap labor wipe down and clean the sliding doors, scrub the area around the entrance, looking as if he wanted every nook and cranny in the pavement crevices spotless.
The only benefit was that during work, the guard would occasionally share a bit of information with the players.
When Wen Shi complained about the worsening air, the guard nodded in agreement, “More and more people are getting infected outside. That’s why I became a security guard here. At worst, I can hide in the sanatorium. Heard it’s the last clean place in this city.”
Taking the opportunity, Wen Shi asked about the location of the sanatorium. During lunch, he had secretly inquired with the fourth-floor residents, but received no answers. They all said the factory prohibited discussing anything related to the sanatorium, so they were clueless.
The guard shrugged, “I haven’t been there either, but it’s definitely around here. Some remote place, probably built alongside a bank or a store.”
Wen Shi pushed his luck, “Could you roughly sketch the location? Once I withdraw my salary next month, I’ll treat you to a drink.”
While the guard was sketching, a girl from the Tu Bianxi team discreetly took out a small mirror with an unsettling glint. It was clearly an item.
Wen Shi noticed this scene but didn’t intervene. He was skeptical about easily gained information. If someone was truly willing to explore, he’d wholeheartedly support it.
Night shift started at ten o’clock. As a precaution, everyone went to the cafeteria for a meal.
Initial Soul Purity was still crucial. Apart from task rewards, the subsequent values boosted by food and Beautiful Soul Elixir couldn’t surpass the initial limit. Of course, the extra point Wen Shi had was an exception.
Players gathered half an hour early at the entrance of Workshop Three. The two teams kept their distance and were busy strategizing.
Suddenly, Wen Shi felt a strong sensation of being watched. He lifted his eyes slightly but didn’t spot anything amiss.
Over there, Tu Bianxi’s team members were engaged in conversation, with almost all of them standing with their backs turned.
Just then, Ji Yuanzhi extended a solo invitation to Wen Shi, directing him to a larger tree farther away.
Ji Yuanzhi got straight to the point, “He’s going to make a move.”
Wen Shi glanced at Ji Yuanzhi, who was, however, focused on Tu Bianxi ahead, “Tu Bianxi will definitely target you tonight. I’m not exaggerating. The first 48 hours in an instance are practically a safeguard period for players. Once those 48 hours pass, everyone’s energy is devoted to survival.”
“So…” Ji Yuanzhi asked seriously, “Do you need a bodyguard?”
Wen Shi asked, “Like who?”
Ji Yuanzhi offered himself, “Just three thousand points.”
Wen Shi didn’t trust Tu Bianxi, nor did he trust the person before him.
“I won’t harm you because I’ve already obtained what I wanted.” In the face of Wen Shi’s unaffected expression, Ji Yuanzhi slowly said a number, “Eighty-two.”
Wen Shi’s heart sank.
Deleting File No. 82, that was his unique task.
Wen Shi’s initial thought was that Ji Yuanzhi could read minds, but he dismissed the idea. He hadn’t considered this since entering the instance. Wen Shi quickly regained his composure, realizing that Ji Yuanzhi probably wasn’t aware of all the details, otherwise, he wouldn’t have just mentioned a single number.
Seeing how quickly he regained his composure, Ji Yuanzhi couldn’t help but admire him a bit.
“I can be straightforward with you. Tu Bianxi is a dual-skilled individual. Besides【Puppetry】, he possesses a formidable skill, even the Puppet Guild’s leader isn’t aware of it. Without a bodyguard, you won’t make it through the night.
“Of course, if you’re willing to join the Second Commandment Guild, I can provide you a bodyguard for free. I’ll even give you three thousand points as a bonus.”
Wen Shi paused for a moment and said, “So generous?”
Ji Yuanzhi instinctively pushed up his glasses and replied with a tone of jest, “As long as you agree, I’ll still be your daddy.”
Before Wen Shi could respond, Ji Yuanzhi glanced at his vibrating phone, “Overseer Zhao is here.”
The two temporarily halted their conversation and quickly returned to the entrance of the workshop.
Overseer Zhao came specifically to brief them on some night shift matters.
He seemed to have fully recovered from his emotional turmoil, mainly mentioning two things, “During the night shift, stealing Beautiful Soul Elixir is strictly prohibited, and so is gambling or drinking on duty. I’ve been repeating these two rules every year, yet some people still insist on challenging the factory’s regulations.”
Overseer Zhao suddenly raised his voice, “I’m talking about something important, why are you daydreaming?!”
The one scolded by his stern rebuke was Liu Yuan. Subconsciously, everyone followed Liu Yuan’s gaze, looking toward the third floor where a figure stood by the window. It wasn’t just on the third floor. Every few windows, there were figures swaying. Some even stuck their heads out from the first-floor windows, their heads resembling smashed watermelons, grotesque and decayed.
It was hard to imagine that they would willingly step into this place filled with ghostly shadows and endure a full six hours.
“It’s about time.” Tu Bianxi checked his watch. “You should head back and rest early. Leave tonight’s matters to us.”
While everyone tried to avoid it as much as possible, he seemed eager to step into the dark and bloody interior of the factory.
Tu Bianxi wore a bracelet-like string of beads around his wrist, three full rounds. Upon closer inspection, one would notice that these beads were the size of fingernails and shaped like tiny heads. Each face wore a different expression—laughter, anger, constantly changing.
Wen Shi only glanced at it and felt as if his soul was being sucked away. He forcefully steadied himself and sent a message to the original dormitory supervisor, asking him to cover his shift tonight. Just as he pressed the send button, he suddenly wondered if there was any pay for being a dormitory supervisor. He almost ended up doing it for free.
Game, game, Answer me!
The prompt sound didn’t answer that question but brought another message:
“Note: Interviewer’s favorability +100.”
“Note: Favorability of Resident 602, Qiu Chi, +100.”
“Note: Favorability of Resident 603, Yi Zhen, +100.”
“Note: ? has been officially promoted to the Sixth Floor Dormitory Supervisor.”
“Floor Dormitory Supervisor ? is leading his residents towards you.”
Wen Shi froze, and a few minutes later, unmistakable commotion came from ahead.
Under the dim streetlights, on the other side, over a hundred people were marching with an imposing momentum. They all wore work uniforms, sleeves rolled up to reveal well-defined muscles. Those at the front carried sticks, some held steel pipes from somewhere, and the back rows gripped bricks and had folded knives tucked at their waists. It was a scene reminiscent of a gang showdown.
However, their leader didn’t exude any bloody or fierce aura. At the center stood a slender teenager, silver hair gleaming even under the muted moonlight.
Unlike the emaciated figures on the fourth floor, the sixth floor residents marched forward with uniform expressions, each step carrying an intense sense of oppression. The wind caused by their movement even lifted the leaves on the roadside.
The players at the workshop entrance had their mouths agape, one after another.
Wen Shi was no exception. This scene even made him feel like he had wandered onto the set of a movie.
Finally, the teenager reached him, offering a faint smile. “Big Brother, I’m a bit late.”
As his words fell, the hundred-plus people behind him simultaneously bowed to Wen Shi, their voices full of vigor. “We arrived late!”
The teenager himself furrowed his brows a little. The workers on the sixth floor were somewhat one-dimensional—more muscles than brains. They could only be used as a makeshift solution during special times.
A slight movement in Wen Shi’s throat, followed by a swallow of saliva, helped him reluctantly regain his voice. “They are…”
“Here to be your bodyguards.”
Overseer Zhao finally snapped back to reality.
When he saw the badge on the teenager’s chest, his voice nearly faltered, “You, you became a supervisor on the sixth floor?” His gaze anxiously searched through the crowd, “Where’s the interviewer?”
The interviewer also lived on the sixth floor, but his status was quite ordinary, residing in the farthest corner.
The teenager glanced casually, but his eyes seemed to be filled with the galaxies of the sky, shimmering and flowing, “My dog can only be a Tibetan Mastiff. No discussion about Poodles.”
Poodles? Tibetan Mastiff?
Overseer Zhao quickly pulled out his sunglasses from his pocket and put them on. His shoulders were visibly trembling.
Strength in numbers, that saying was always true. With so many people gathered here, even the factory that resembled a devouring monster under the cover of night didn’t seem as terrifying. Wen Shi even felt that there were too many people, and the air wasn’t circulating well, making it feel a bit warm.
As the new generation’s mountain king, he tugged on Ji Yuanzhi’s sleeve, “Quick, call him Dad.”
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