Chapter 20: Vestiges of a Wraith (Part 1/2)
The field of view slowly advanced forward on the projection within the car, containing within it an undulating and faint swaying gait. The distance to Luo Nan drew closer and closer.
Li Xuecheng became more and more mentally engrossed. His hand increased in strength, gripping Lian Yu’s hand to the point of causing pain. All the while, his mouth was jabbering on:
“Jie Yu, did you know? I loved playing these real life games since I was a kid. Virtual reality, sensory immersion, and the like... When compared to this they’re really lacking.
“This is a game that you truly control. Here there’s absolutely no one to interfere, no opposition at all. It doesn’t matter how exceptional the target is. At most he can only touch my puppet. He’s unable to touch the formless link weaved from money, so he’s even further unable to touch me. Looking at their helpless and anxious expression all the way until their thorough defeat, their collapse…… There’s nothing more amusing than this!”
Lian Yu’s legs were trembling subconsciously.
Today Li Xuecheng was too unfamiliar to behold. Previously this fellow was able to quite grasp the meaning of reputation no matter how petty he was. He absolutely wouldn’t have been this obsessed with a single person to perform a soliloquy…...
His entire character was now warped. It seems as though he had been stimulated into becoming mad from the intimidation and loss of consciousness as caused by Luo Nan yesterday.
Lian Yu was fully aware that it was fundamentally impossible to communicate with a lunatic. But the problem lied in the expression that Li Xuecheng was displaying. He had the look of incomparable anticipation; he was waiting for her response.
Her lips trembled slightly as she thought for quite a while. She managed to squeeze out some words: “Wouldn’t this activity attract too much attention? If everyone sees that he’s ambushed, then the withdrawal period……”
Li Xuecheng’s expression turned tender once more. He caressed Lian Yu’s knuckles lightly: “Think about it some more Jie Yu. I’m not that stupid. Right now we’re just getting a feel for the atmosphere. A good game will certainly have an excellent plot. A simple, rough plot is unacceptable. Come. Let’s watch together!”
Li Xuecheng had somewhat increased the force of his hand while he was talking. At first Lian Yu didn’t respond to it, but then her hand was pulled, awakening her. After a slight hesitation, she lifted her butt to sit up straight. Li Xuecheng was unable to wait any longer. He pulled her forcefully and she collided into his embrace.
Lian Yu let out a low cry, but she was already hugged in Li Xuecheng’s entire embrace. Luckily this lunatic’s energy wasn’t concentrated here. His chin dropped down to her shoulder and their faces stuck together. They continued observing the game, maintaining this intimate position.
The car’s AI detected that the two people were now sharing the same point of view. It enlarged the size of the projection in a humanlike manner. With the first person view as the maint support, with adding and calibrating the immersion function of contact lenses into the mix, the view of the scene was just as if they were there in person.
The receiving and recording equipment created a faithful reconstruction of the original environment of the locker room. The buzzing sound waves made Lian Yu become all the more distraught with anxiety.
Enrollment in Acumen College started in the seventh grade. They didn’t have fixed classrooms, instead they followed the western style of having an Elective Course System. Students were like livestock pheasants; they gathered together and dispersed apart randomly. And one of the most crowded and noisy gathering points of these students was the locker room. Everyday before class began, a great number of people flowed in and out. Countless rumors, slander, and sexual gossips flew up and down, rumbling like mosquitos. This was a time when it seemed the clamor would never stop.
Near Luo Nan’s locker was all students of the same year as Luo Nan. But as groups of people came and went, not a single person called out to say hello to Luo Nan.
“An invisible man.” Li Xuecheng completely controlled his state of mind as he observed Luo Nan’s actions. He laughed in delight, “Soon you’ll become famous!”
Just as mentioned previously, Li Xuecheng wasn’t willing to use an electric attack and inject drugs in a public place with several people. This was inconsistent with his expectations.
He had to patiently bide his time in order to deal with this fellow.
There wasn’t just one person acting as a hired puppet for Li Xuecheng. The circle of rich kids was wide and vast, filled with friends. Li Xuecheng didn’t care for the price, so the forces he could mobilize were quite significant.
Luo Nan finished changing clothes and carried his old clothes to leave, probably to take to the laundry room. As soon as he moved, four or five people caught up to him in succession from the surrounding chaotic stream of people.
A small map was on the upper left corner of the projection, just like that of a typical game. The surrounding structures and rooms were obtained and displayed with the current room. Li Xuecheng spirits were exuberant as he selected the location and method:
“What do you think? Should I shove his face into the urinal? Or should I use the jet shower to spray his ass? Or should I just stuff him in a trash can?”
Lian Yu’s face was cold. She spoke not a word. Luo Nan’s matter of life or death wasn’t her problem. But within this crisis was a subtle trap. Not only was she going to be taken advantage of, she will most likely have to face Xie Junping’s fury when this is all over. Whatever the case, it was all not worth it.
The medium which carried the first person view increased in speed. The scene trembled all the more violently, while Li Xuecheng’s breathing became all the more urgent to her side.
As Luo Nan turned a corner, several hired puppets turned and went as well. The puppet streaming in first person view received a report on the surroundings. The stream of people began to thin out ahead. It was the opportune time to strike!
“Then let’s choose option A, the urinal…… No, I want something bigger!”
Li Xuecheng cackled with bizarre laughter. He eagerly ordered the First-Person-View puppet to get to the scene as soon as possible.
As the perspective turned the corner, Li Xuecheng could instantly see just how sparse the number of people was. Now Li Xuecheng could see things much more clearly. His hired puppets had already congregated together. They swarmed into a bathroom.
Li Xuecheng was a bit discontent: “I’m docking their pay later. Can't this group of rough guys make things look a bit more natural?”
Without any delay, an urgent voice was transmitted through the communications device:
“That fellow jumped the window and ran!”
“Old Zuo tripped when he gave chase. He’s stuck in the window……”
“We still have some of our people outside!”
“We’ve blocked him off…… Oh crap!”
The scene had turned chaotic and unsalvageable in an instant.
At first Li Xuecheng’s face was rigid, but unsurpressable lines of laughter burst forth in the next moment: “Man Zhao. Would there have been any meaning if we weren’t dealing with a tricky bastard like this? Yep, isn’t this plot quite entertaining?”
Unexpectedly, he wasn’t urgent nor impatient. He ordered the First-Person-View puppet to walk out of the locker room building and to give chase by following the indicator on his communications device.
Li Xuecheng was a fellow who was adept at using money. The campus thugs he hired were quite skilled in cornering people. Although he didn’t know how Luo Nan discovered that something was fishy, a group of five third-year youths still managed to trap Luo Nan in a dark corner of the back of a building after two minutes of chasing.
By the time the First-Person-View puppet drew close, the situation had nearly come to an end.
Batons, switch-blades, tasers, and other light weapons were held in the hands of these campus thugs. Although one thug had collapsed, another thug charged forward with an arc of electricity from a stun gun to stab Luo Nan in the ribs.
Luo Nan twitched as his body bent down.
Li Xuecheng clapped his hands in great delight as he watched. But in the next moment he saw something he didn’t expect. Luo Nan, who was about to be drowned by a flood people, raised his head inexplicably. Luo Nan’s gaze actually fixed in his direction. The bearing was absolutely precise. It was as if Luo Nan was looking at him directly with nothing but air separating them.
Before he could react, a thundering voice erupted in the ear of the First-Person-View puppet, and the thundering voice also equally exploded in Li Xuecheng’s ear:
“What the hell are y’all doing!”
His body jolted as the first person view suddenly enlarged with the grassy field in a flash. Then there was just pitch-black darkness.