Chapter 114: Imploded (Part 2/2)
The sneer fixed on Red Fox's lips seemed to be carved by a knife. This was the arc his lips were the most used to. Absurd feelings of deja vu assaulted him over and over, causing him to be restless as he recalled some memories. It seemed like ages ago. The city was similar. The night was similar. The flow of people was similar. He was similar...
However, back then there was not a triangular spaceship. There were only targets fleeing in panic, targets doing their best to hide.
Oh, he remembered now. It was quite the perfect operation.
He had a group of friends and peers who were outstanding just like him. They used ten days and ten nights to execute the perfect operation down to every link. All that was left was for him, the City Hunter, to execute the final blow.
Not a single innocent civilian was harmed in the busiest area of the city and the target was killed easily... The target was a preacher in name. He killed women and children as sacrifices for his demonic god. He was a Mad Believer.
Filthy blood had splashed onto Red Fox's jacket, just like an accidental spillage of champagne. In that moment, every single one of the participants was jubilant at their success. Most of them were youngsters who had just entered the Society, just taken the entrance evaluation. The number of Awakened among them were few but through strict planning and excellent execution, they were able to slowly grind away at their target's advantages. They created a favorable situation for themselves and they finally accomplished a perfect kill on the Mad Believer with the strength of B- Rank.
Then what? Then what happened?
The Order caused wanton destruction in Hu City in the name of revenge. A list of the participant's names for the operation was leaked and they were pursued and slaughtered one by one down the list. In a short few days, over half of the youngsters who had participated in the operation had died.
In the meantime, what did the Society do?
Headquarters rebuked them with an evaluation that said, "An operation where the consequences were never considered at all." The branch gave them ‘Getaway Tickets’, which was pretty much the same as being exiled. They were banished far far away by those who they thought were their comrades.
As the lucky few who survived, they ran out from Hu City like dogs. They hid in the wilderness and scattered in every direction like the rays of a star. If they were to try to contact each other now, nine out of ten of them would not respond. Their locations were unknown. Whether they were dead or alive was also unknown.
What the hell kind of ending was this!?
The stream of people split just ahead of Red Fox. Countless blurry faces streamed past his shoulders on each side, giving him a sense of deja vu. His mind entered a wonderful state of tranquility, to the point that he was able to crack some jokes.
"856 meters away from the target. ETA 90 seconds. Raise your bets everyone! Whoever bets against me, I'll bet even higher!"
The encrypted channel was just a sheet of silence. It was just like the night he fled from Hu City. The corner of Red Fox's mouth twitched as he recalled these memories. In the end, his mouth settled into his standard sneering smile.
Red Fox arrived at the outer perimeter of Frost River Reality. There were crowds here, standing and watching. They billowed out from the police cordon when it was set, falling back unwillingly. Some media reporting crew could not get good spots. They tried to squeeze against the flow to get closer to the scene of the incident.
Cameras flashed atop the three buildings surrounding Frost River Reality, the flashes looking like the flickering of stars. Occasionally, they would flicker simultaneously, casting a deathly white light in this area.
It made quite the perfect graveyard.
As Red Fox was about to cut into a thicker stream of people, some new information came slipping into the encrypted channel. The sender was He Yueyin.
"We shouldn't be placing our attention on that corpse."
Red Fox was distracted for a moment, having heard her words. His brain spun its gears a few revolutions before he ultimately laughed. "I knew it all along. I knew it all along... Going to check an Oblatum Knight. Going to check a corpse. This is simply the crappiest joke of all!"
"Hey!" At Frost River Reality, Zhang Yingying glared at He Yueyin with both her eyes and raised her hand and pointed straight at He Yueyin. She wanted to berate He Yueyin but she subconsciously shifted her gaze onto Luo Nan.
Luo Nan's expression was still relaxed as he stood solemn and silent. He lacked the ease of one who held the pearl of wisdom but he also lacked the panic of a swindler whose ruse was seen through.
Red Fox chuckled. "Mrs. Secretary, so you're saying that you're folding your hand and admitting defeat? Have you sought your boss's opinion before saying these words?... Mr. Luo. Boss Luo. Aren't you going to say anything?"
It was as if Luo Nan did not hear a word. He had no reaction whatsoever.
Zhang Yingying could not hold herself back but Bai Xinyan reined her in by the neck. It was an intimate action but because of it, Zhang Yingying could not speak another word.
Red Fox's smile grew when he did not hear a response. His voice grew hoarser. "Okay, that's great! Your ability to wipe butt and faces is truly amazing! Is there any point in doing any of this? Is it to smack my face? Or is it to let this Weasel wriggle out of this?
He Yueyin spoke calmly, "Isn't this what you wanted?"
Red Fox was simply dumbfounded. "Are you joking?"
He Yueyin sighed a bit secretly. "This has nothing to do with jokes. I'm just trying to bring your attention back to the plane of reality. For instance, you have a misunderstanding, an error in logic."
At this time, Red Fox truly had an impulse to smash the HexaEar into pieces. However, a familiar voice then sounded in his ear.
"...If we really do discuss this matter with the Order of Justice, what value do we have? Are we the first wave of cannon fodder? Or are we being set up to be the fall guys?"
"You guys haven't seen the true nature of Headquarters... The situation is already catastrophically enormous! These secret orders are experts in these topics of faith. They make a big fuss over minor issues. Moreover, Headquarters will always do what is politically correct!"
Red Fox understood at last that this was his own voice he was hearing, words he had once spoken. They were just abbreviated through editing; the original meaning behind them was not changed. He could only sneer in response. "What's wrong? You want to write me up to HQ? Go ahead! They did a number on me back in the day. I have experienced it once; a few more times is nothing to me!"
He Yueyin continued to play the audio, which had been prepared recently. The next paragraph had a closer timestamp. It was the start of Red Fox tearing into everyone else.
"... Human-Faced Arachnid, Fairchild, Words of Krait, he set them all off! You guys aren't scared of losing your face when playing with explosives with him? And you say I'm scared to the point of imploding my pants!? Look at these innocent civilians, aren't they imploding?"
This dialog suddenly entered Red Fox's ear right when he began to mull over his counter argument. Blood suddenly burst and his face swelled. The sound waves vibrated against his eardrum and his own mocking and caustic tone was like a flat file. It pressed deep into his mind and started grinding back and forth.
He was in pain and irritated. He wanted to open his mouth to speak, but all that echoed through his head was inexplicably that "imploding, imploding". It pressed down on him with realness and he was not even able to spit out half a word.
Only now did He Yueyin's voice enter his ear. "My code name is Secretary. Luo Nan isn't my boss. Of everyone currently here, there is no one who has known him for more than two weeks."
"Luo Nan is a rookie who just recently entered the Society. Whether it be in the normal, secular world or the 'inside world', he is very much lacking in life experience. The potential for his mistakes to bring trouble far exceeds that of everyone else. Especially his ability to make situations big.
"However, whether it be me, Yingying, Bamboo Pole... We several people are all leading him, protecting him, helping him. Is this bad? He won't be cannon fodder. He won't be the fall guy. He won't be the victim of politics. This kind of result is attainable in our loose Society. Are you displeased? Are you disappointed? Especially you, who came out of Hu City..."
"Don't you dare play the emotional card with me!"
The words ‘Hu City’ were like a scorching brand that pressed forcefully against Red Fox's chest. Because of it, he could not refrain from screaming, "Your bullsh*t Society is at best just a death list! You all are listed one by one. And one by one you all will be crossed off! Crossed off! You..."
"Oh my, this list you speak of. Am I on it?"
The voice suddenly rang out behind his head. He was so startled that his scalp started to go numb. Even though Red Fox was at the height of his emotions, instinct still aided him in evading with a roll. He pulled some distance and only then did he turn to look back.
In this very moment, he was stupefied on the spot.
It was a lean middle-aged man. He wore a well-ironed tuxedo, one that would normally only be worn for formal dinner parties. His eyes were half covered by classical glasses and he had a smile that caused the skin around his eyes to ripple with shallow creases and lines.