Seeing this, a thought flitted through Ling Lan's mind. The leader's aura was in a chaotic state, causing him to lose his usual composure ... this was definitely a great opportunity to kill him. But just when Ling Lan was about to make her move, three figures flew towards them from three different directions.
"Leader!" shouted one of the team members.
Meanwhile, another team member saw the blood-soaked Xiao Lai laying in the leader's arms, and could not help but cry out in dismay, "Xiao Lai!"
Still in hiding, Ling Lan quietly lamented the lost opportunity. If those three people had come just 5 seconds later, she would have had enough time to make her move. Ling Lan was a decisive person. Seeing that there was no longer any possibility of launching a sneak attack, she once again muffled all signs of her presence, sinking down to hide like an inanimate object.
The team leader pushed down the sorrow and rage he felt in his heart, and said through gritted teeth, "Xiao Lai was the target of a sneak attack by the opponent. He's dead! The opponent is proficient at concealment and assassination. You must all be careful." His turmoil had only lasted for a moment. By now, he had already regained his calm, and immediately deduced Ling Lan's general position. "He shouldn't be far from here. From the time I sensed killing intent and rushed here, only 3 seconds have passed. He would not have had the time to go too far."
The team leader believed that although he had been thrown into mental turmoil by Xiao Lai's death, he had not lost his sensory abilities. If Ling Lan had chosen to run away back then, he would definitely have sensed the boy's movements. But when he had arrived at the scene, the surroundings had been still and silent. That meant that the other must have chosen to lay low somewhere close by.
Perhaps, the boy was just by their sides now, just waiting for a chance to strike a killing blow.
"From now on, the three of you shall be one team. When you search, don't stray too far from the others. It's best if you all can keep an eye out for each other." The team leader knew that the other three members of his team were at about the same level of strength as Xiao Lai. As such, they would be in danger if they got stranded on their own, so he decided to let the three of them search as a group. As for himself ... if the opponent thought that he was a good target on his own, he would let that punk know that, before true strength, any brilliant sneak attacks or assassination attempts were all futile.
"Yes, Leader!" acknowledged all three men with serious expressions. Xiao Lai's death had raised their guards; they were not confident that they would be able to evade the opponent's undetectable sneak attack on their own.
Ling Lan saw the four of them split up into two teams and start searching in two different directions. Ling Lan's luck was undoubtedly excellent — the first directions the two parties began searching in were coincidentally not where she was hiding. Of course, this was just a temporary reprieve. When the two parties did not find anything in the directions they were searching right now, they would definitely circle back to search the places they had not covered on their first run. In other words, if Ling Lan just continued to hide here, she would still eventually be discovered by the opponents.
Ling Lan considered her options, and then decided to find a chance to trail that group of three. Although on the surface, going after the team leader to try and execute an assassination seemed more likely to succeed, Ling Lan somehow had an unexplainable feeling in her heart that there was something dangerous about that team leader. It was this sense of danger that made her give up on trying to sneak attack that team leader immediately.
Of course, for Ling Lan to launch a sneak attack on the three-man team without being caught was also very difficult. However, Ling Lan believed that as long as she was patient and focused, it may not be impossible.
Right then, a gust of wind swept by, shaking the leaves on the trees, causing them to rustle loudly. With a light push of her palms, Ling Lan sprang off the ground and flew towards the direction where the three-man team had gone ...
When the wind died down, Ling Lan drifted softly to land like a leaf, dashing into another concealed spot to continue hiding once more ... Ling Lan's patience was extremely high — even though she still could not see hide or hair of the three-man team, the moment the wind stopped blowing, she would stop moving as well, and would remain still until the next gust swept by.
On the other end, the team leader was searching with his head bowed. His ears twitched with the sounds of the wind. Though his face remained expressionless, doubt flashed briefly through his eyes ...
He actually could not hear anything out of place. Other than the sounds of the wind, and the rustling of leaves, all he could hear was the sound of their own footsteps as they traipsed through the dry grass. Could he have made an error in judgment? Was the opponent still choosing to hide at his original spot and not planning to try another sneak attack? Or had he perhaps already gotten close to them, and he just could not hear it?
The leader's expression became grim. Just then, a tendril of fog abruptly appeared in the forest. It slowly became thicker and thicker, until the leader's figure was hidden within this dense patch of white fog.
The members of the three-man team kept the instructions of their leader close to heart; the distance between them never exceeded 10 metres. Not only that, they each also made sure to keep one team member within sight at all times. This was the triangular formation unique to the Federation military, and it was considered a defensive formation with no blind spots.
Ling Lan continued to use the sound of the wind as cover, sneaking up stealthily to the three-man team. However, she was not happy. Instead, her brows were tightly furrowed, because she had noticed that under this formation, she would have no chance whatsoever to try a sneak attack.
She needed to mess up this formation as soon as possible! Ling Lan knew she did not have a lot of time. Little Four, who had been keeping an eye on the leader, had just told her that he had lost track of the leader. Although Little Four was using high-definition satellite monitoring to scan the area where the team leader had disappeared, that area had already become a thick cloud of fog. Under these circumstances, even the most high-definition satellite would be ineffective.
Ling Lan reckoned that the fog was part of the other's innate talent ability. Under the cover of the fog, perhaps the other had already turned back and was rushing here at full speed. Meanwhile, she not only had to find a way to finish off these three people in front of her as soon as possible, she still had to beware the aftermath. She did not want to be like the tragic mantis which stalks a cicada, unaware of the oriole behind it.
A gust of wind swept by, causing the shrubs and trees around to sway gently, rustling. At the start, the three-man team had been in a state of paranoia, which then toned down to nervous caution ... and now, they were calm. At this play of the wind, they merely cast brief glances reflexively at those areas which emitted sound.
Seeing this, an idea sparked in Ling Lan's mind ...
The three men saw nothing strange and so continued to walk and search. Not long after, another draft swept by, and like before, the trees and shrubs emitted a round of choppy noises — but this time, an almost imperceptible object shot out along with this gust of wind.
Taking advantage of the wind, Ling Lan had sent an extremely thin and small, yet extremely sharp, ice needle flying out at the team member closest to her. At this time, the other's range of sight just happened to turn towards some source of sound. Moreover, the direction of this turn just happened to expose his most defensively weak temple to Ling Lan.
Ever since humans have used gene agents to spur the development of the body, their bodies' vitality and resistance had been strengthened greatly in comparison to that of Ling Lan's previous world 10,000 years ago. Thus, besides the areas of the head and brain, there were no longer any fatal weaknesses on any other part of the body.
If Ling Lan wanted to rely on this extremely thin ice needle to give the opponent a death blow at any other part of the body, that was almost impossible. Only by shooting it straight into the head to destroy the other's brain could it achieve a killing effect. Just like how Ling Lan had killed that Twilight Empire mecha operator on planet Demonbeast — using a short wooden needle to pierce through the other's lower jaw diagonally to penetrate the brain, killing the opponent by destroying the other's brain. Otherwise, just purely piercing the throat may not necessarily guarantee the other's death.
Compared to the layers of defense shielding a mecha operator's head, this three-man team before her, due to their disguise as teachers, had not donned any defense for their heads. This gave Ling Lan the possibility of achieving one-hit kills.
Ling Lan's ice needle was truly too small and thin, and on top of that, she had used the sound of the wind to cover its tracks — only when the ice needle was no more than 10 millimetres away from the opponent did his expression twist in realisation.
No matter how much she tried to hide the attack within the sound of the wind, a Qi-Jin level combat expert would have a defensive Qi flow around him, so when the attack approached this Qi flow, it would be noticed by the opponent. This was also why Ling Lan had chosen to do a close-range assassination at the start with Xiao Lai. After all, hidden weapons were not very effective against Qi-Jin experts who were on their guard.
That person was just about to move his head to dodge the attack, when Ling Lan's long prepared spiritual attack followed. This time, her spiritual attack was not as intense as the one she had used against Xiao Lai, which could cause someone to fall unconscious directly. Instead, this attack would only concuss the head of the target, making him lose control of his movements, briefly paralyzing the other.
It would only last for a split second; the target would be back to normal almost immediately . However, this one split second was enough — with fear and shock, the opponent found that it was too late to dodge!
The ice needle plunged soundlessly into the opponent's temple, leaving no trace except an extremely miniscule red dot where it had entered ... as well as that rictus of horror right before the moment of death!
In the meantime, the other two people did not notice that anything had happened. They continued to search ahead, still staying in their triangular formation. But after walking a few steps, they realised that one of their members on one of the corners had trailed behind ...
One of the remaining members stopped and shouted out doubtfully, "Xiao Lin, did you find something? Why aren't you keeping up?"
Xiao Lin just continued to stand there unmoving, staring off fixedly at a spot, as if he had found something.
The two of remaining members looked at one another, then agreed tacitly to go over to take a look. They carefully made their way over and one of them walked right up to Xiao Lin's side. He nudged Xiao Lin on the shoulder and said, "Hey, why aren't you answering?"
Unexpectedly, this nudge caused Xiao Lin's entire body to fall forwards. The two men were shocked — one of them quickly got into a defensive pose nervously, while the other moved forwards to check on their companion, only to find that Xiao Lin had stopped breathing ...
"Ahh ... that goddamn bastard, you need to f*ckin' come out and show yourself! What kind of hero attacks from the shadows?! Come fight me one on one if you have the guts!" That person leapt up abruptly, screaming out into the dimly lit forest hysterically. He was thoroughly frightened by this silent and unexpected passing of Xiao Lin.
"Xiao Chong, calm down!" the other team member yelled anxiously, looking around warily all the while. The surroundings were quiet and still, not a figure in sight ...
"Leader! Leader!" bellowed the hysterical team member, hoping that his team leader would hurry over to investigate the cause of Xiao Lin's death.
However, all that answered him was still silence. Even his leader was nowhere to be seen or heard. The hysterical team member gradually calmed down, but his complexion also grew increasingly paler. He could not help but think: Could it be that their team leader had also already been killed silently and unexpectedly like this?
He shook his head emphatically. No, the leader was so strong and formidable. He definitely wouldn't be offed by a 13 year old child ... but, was their target really just a 13 year old child? Or perhaps the one behind the deaths of his comrades was not their target at all? Perhaps it was a demon?
He thought of that large hole in Xiao Lai's chest that had been created by an unknown weapon, and then looked down again at Xiao Lin laying on the ground without a mark on him. All he could see was the terrified expression on Xiao Lin's face, as if he had seen something horrific right before he died ...i.e. After she finishes off the three men, being killed by the leader from behind. (FYI, an oriole is a type of bird.)literal translation: Little Worm. The name of this character is what makes me think the team is using codenames. 'Lai' and 'Lin' of the other two mentioned could be taken as generic surnames or even be part of their given names, but the 'chong' character here (worm) is obviously not a name anyone would saddle their child with.