Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
By the time the three of them were completely calmed down, they realized they still faced quite a few issues. That was certainly a huge sum of money. But at that time, even if they had money, they couldn’t spend it. Pomelo was completely cut off from the outside, and the economy in the city was already collapsed. The stores were all closed, and goods from outside had no way to be transported in.
Before the dispute could be resolved, the money couldn’t be put to any use. Moreover, that case full of cards couldn’t be exchanged for money. Thinking about that, it didn’t seem as though the situation had even changed.
“It’s always good to have money,” Bogner said to comfort himself. He didn’t mention the ridiculous notion of Chen Mu going to rob the storehouses of the other two academies.
“When will this battle finally be over?” Xi Ping looked at them and spoke with a bitter smile. A businessman having such large sums of money on hand with no way to put it to use was doubtlessly a painful thing.
Chen Mu shook his head. “I don’t know, but I reckon it’s still early.”
“It is certainly early.” Bogner stretched out languidly. He had completely calmed down from the recent ecstasy.
Compared to the other two, Chen Mu’s attitude was a lot better. He had never really needed much, and that was all some unexpected surprise. So, he was the first to calm down. As far as that money went, he had a different outlook. Whether or not they could use it at that time, it was still extremely valuable.
So long as Bogner and Xi Ping were still there, having that 5 billion meant they could always come back in from the cold. Given that, they could make a lot more choices. If things got really chaotic, Chen Mu could plunge into the jungle with them, whereas others could only gaze off into the woods and sigh.
Having a specialist in jungle life like Wei-ah, they would have advantages in the jungle beyond compare.
If those under him weren’t such a gang of rookies, Chen Mu might have led them plunging into the jungle right then to avoid all the turbid water. Since they were all new recruits, however, taking them into the jungle would be no different than suicide. Even if they had ten more of Wei-ah, it would be no use. He wouldn’t be able to expect the same kind of good luck he’d had when he’d led the Moqi children.
That was not to mention the Moqi Clan children had a much higher probability of surviving the jungle than the newbie card artisans. They were more familiar with it, although they had no fighting power on their own.
Compared to before, Chen Mu was a lot more mature about preparing for a rainy day. If it ever got to that point, having the money as a foundation, no matter where they were, meant they wouldn’t have to worry.
Everyone was direct in their opinions about the matter—they certainly couldn’t let anything out. Everyone knew how serious the result of that would be.
All the cards were turned over to Xi Ping. Only the Cross-Section of Styles and its legacy fantasy cards remained with Chen Mu. He was very interested in the Cross-Section of Styles. It was no item from a roadside stall; it was a top-notch legacy in the federation. How could he not research such a fine thing?
Both Bogner and Xi Ping had a lot to do, and they each went off to do it. Bogner had to take responsibility for the training of the new recruits, and Xi Ping had to arrange all the materials and take responsibility for gathering intelligence. The fatty had left a whole lot of materials behind. Although most of them were ordinary goods, there were shocking quantities. The personnel from the previous auction house were also organized under Xi Ping, and they had all been brought back together.
If one were concerned about who had the most ability to gather intelligence in Pomelo, it wouldn’t be the Central Repository of the Classics, who had been dominating the scene, nor would it be Faya, who had engulfed most of the small powers in Pomelo. It was that recently established base. Although Faya had boldly destroyed the fatty, the intelligence network he had set up earlier hadn’t encountered any fatal blows.
What Faya was focused on was the battle power in the hands of those local powers. They hadn’t yet been able to digest the intelligence capabilities of the new local powers they had absorbed before they had been forced onto center stage by Chen Mu.
It was a lot of work to organize the intelligence every day. Moreover, Xi Ping was never originally a specialist in that, and the struggle had exhausted him.
Seeing the two of them leave, Chen Mu simply started to research the Cross-Section of Styles right there in the conference room.
The Cross-Section of Styles was quite different from any card Chen Mu had seen before. It could condense into something like a sectional energy body, and those energy bodies could both attack as a single section and form all kinds of specific connections among them. From that alone, it would seem rather similar to his 013. That card could also form a chain of wavy blades.
Still, the connections between the Cross-Section of Styles card’s body sections were more unique. It was as though there were wedge-shaped energy buckles between them, which could complete different combinations. The most amazing thing was that the Cross-Section of Styles could theoretically be formed into 32 differently composed single sections.
The different single sections of those energy compositions presented completely different characteristics, and the strength and acuity of the perception they required also had huge differences. Given Chen Mu’s current power, he could only condense out 16 differently composed single sections. The other 16 were too difficult for him, and some couldn’t be used in battle.
The 32 differently composed sections meant 32 different single-body tactics. When they were combined with one another, that could become a huge number of tactics. Although not all of them had actual combat utility, it was clear how rich their combined tactics could be. Seeing that, Chen Mu finally understood why the card was called the Cross-Section of Styles. Actually, its full name should have been the Cross-Section of Styles of Attack.
Inside that red two-star fantasy card were recorded uncountable numbers of tactical combinations. Those tactical combinations had gone through the summaries of generation after generation from the Federation Comprehensive Academy and had been preserved until then. They had all been combinations of great power in actual combat.
It was an out-and-out crystallization of intelligence.
Chen Mu got deeply lost in it. Those combinations, so full of the wisdom of tactical combinations, were like a treasure trove. In there, not only could he study those rich tactical combinations, but what gave him a deeper feeling was the prior generations’ tactical thinking. It didn’t look like anything unusual, but as he studied it more deeply, he would feel still more of its rigorous layout.
All kinds of tactics within it were formed of three differently composed single sections. It would first make use of the single sections to expand the range that had been formed, and it would then compress the adversary’s range of motion. A subsequent single section would produce a powerful energy wave disorder. The disordered energy didn’t distinguish between the enemy and oneself. Once every region had developed the energy disorders, inside the designated district, any energy composition would possibly collapse. The more complex the energy body, the more likely the possibility of collapse.
The final killing section would be the most simply composed single section, which could only appear in the basic textbooks’ triangular energy body composition section. By that time, they could ignore the energy disorder and could make a fatal blow.
Of course, that tactic had some difficulties. For instance, the second kind of single section would cause an energy-disordered section and would make extremely high demands on the card artisan. Another crucial thing was how to compress the adversary’s scope of movement. Regarding those two points, there were quite a few comments from previous generations inside the two-star fantasy card.
Chen Mu only then understood why the card artisans who came out of the Big Six were always more powerful than card artisans from other schools. It was because they were standing on the shoulders of giants. That little fantasy card condensed the wisdom and essences of many people.
As compared with 013, the Cross-Section of Styles was a lot more profound. It was a complete tactical system—a complete and massive tactical system.
What dumbfounded Chen Mu still more was that selection among the 32 kinds of single sections used up a lot of thought from the card artisans. If the card artisan using it could emit all 32 kinds of single sections, they would influence one another and could form into a complete linked ring of sections, within which everything could carry out a molecular disintegration. In other words, everything within the ring would decompose into a molecular state.
That was then the ultimate skill, the Cross-Sectional Ring Collapse of the Cross-Section of Styles. When facing absolute power, the other so-called tactics would already be of no use.
That was Chen Mu’s first time to encounter the concept of the so-called ultimate skill. But that was related to the cards he had encountered. The cards he had insisted on practicing—the tailless shuttle card and the folding Yanbo card—both employed simple skills and couldn’t compare with such a vast legacy as the Cross-Section of Styles.
But, inside that two-star fantasy card, Chen Mu discovered that among the legacy card artisans of the Cross-Section of Styles, the card artisans who could make use of the Cross-Sectional Ring Collapse numbered only two. The ultimate skill was obviously extremely difficult.
Chen Mu had received a shock as never before. He finally understood that a card could be so vast. However, his study was cut short.
“Sue Lochiro has awakened, Boss,” Lu Xiaoru alerted him.
Chen Mu was a little reluctant to come out of that two-star fantasy card; he looked like he was obsessed. That two-star fantasy card was quite deficient from the fantasy card he had previously made for Ru Qiu about how to make the folding Yanbo card. This one only had some simple diagrams on it and was mostly textual commentary.
He arrived at Sue Lochiro’s room.
“Thank you all so much, Mr. Cao! If you hadn’t rescued me, it would have been too frightening.” Sue Lochiro’s pretty face looked rather haggard, and her eyes were dull.
Chen Mu shook his head and said sincerely, “You are too polite, Miss Sue. It was my obligation.” Sue Lochiro had been so diligent about that green thread inside his body. Although she hadn’t finally given him any substantial help, Chen Mu had always remembered her human feeling.
Sue Lochiro could barely smile as she looked around. “Where are we, Mr. Cao?”
“This is my base.” Chen Mu could see she wasn’t in great spirits and knew she had just received a shock. He comfortingly said, “You are safe, Miss Sue. Right! President Jiao Si is also here, so you don’t need to be concerned about safety.” In order to comfort Sue Lochiro, Chen Mu had moved Jiao Si over.
After hearing Jiao Si was there, Sue Lochiro’s nervous expression relaxed quite a bit.
Chen Mu sighed to himself; Jiao Si’s huge card would be so useful wherever he went, and even Sue Lochiro was no exception.
Seeing the alienation on Sue Lochiro’s face, which was so different from normal, Chen Mu hesitated before opening his mouth to ask, “Could I take the liberty of asking how you encountered such a situation? What about the Medical Card Artisan Association? Couldn’t they provide protection for you?” Chen Mu found it strange. Reasonably speaking, no one would dare offend a neutral medical card artisan.
“We had really bad luck when the first wave of attack spilled over. The building was half-collapsed by an explosion, and a lot of people were buried alive.” Sue Lochiro’s voice was low, and the tears were plopping down. “My professor also died, along with quite a few of my colleagues. No one was around me when I ran out.”
Saying that, her miserable expression made Lu Xiaoru’s nose turn sour to her side. Chen Mu was fine, though he sighed to himself. He wasn’t like them. He didn’t know how many more dangerous things he had experienced, so of course his heart was like iron.
“After I got out, I discovered how chaotic the streets were. A lot of people were seriously wounded, and if they weren’t treated, they would certainly die. So, I went to save them. Who would have thought there would be more and more wounded? The scene was becoming increasingly chaotic until it seemed as though we were being attacked.”
Sue Lochiro’s tears stopped when she said that, and a slight smile appeared on her face.
Chen Mu remained silent. An instant later, he said solemnly, “First, get a good rest, Miss Sue. I believe that in here, you don’t have to worry about anything. You have a kind heart.” As Chen Mu saw it, Sue Lochiro’s conduct could be considered foolish. But it was just such foolish conduct that had earned his respect.
“Thank you!” Sue Lochiro seemed to feel the respect from Chen Mu’s heart. In an instant, her smiling face bloomed to where its elegance and beauty brightened everyone’s outlook.
The two of them fell into silence. Just then, the apparatus on his wrist sounded. Xi Ping was looking for him. Chen Mu rushed to bid farewell to Sue Lochiro.
Returning to the conference room, Bogner and Xi Ping were already there. Seeing Chen Mu enter, Xi Ping said immediately, “We’ve gotten the most recent reports, Boss.”
Chen Mu’s spirits were jolted. “Oh? How is it?”
Xi Ping and Bogner looked at one another, and they smiled knowingly. Xi Ping said, “It was more successful than we had ever thought! Faya and the Central Repository of the Classics both lost and suffered wounds. There were said to be heavy casualties in the Faya encampment, with blood flowing like a river. Half of the card artisans they had gathered are dead. When the few card artisans who were still alive heard they were confronting the Central Repository of the Classics, they all demanded to leave. Although Faya managed to use high-pressure means to achieve a temporarily steady state, their morale hit bottom. Their will to fight was shaken.
“Then, an ace finally arrived, probably named Peng. He had no obvious fame and was possibly an ace cultivated in secret by Faya. Butchie was seriously wounded, and it’s unknown if she’s alive or dead. The ace named Peng was also wounded by Qiao Yuan. Faya was hit hard all at once.
“The Central Repository of the Classics also had nowhere to go, and more than 20 of their aces were killed. Half of those who remained were wounded, and their strength plummeted. Qiao Yuan was also lightly wounded. It was Butchie’s final blow that wounded him, and Card 013 was also destroyed when it was hit, unfortunately.”
Chen Mu hadn’t heard anything unfortunate from what Xi Ping had said. On the contrary, the excitement was palpable in his voice. Chen Mu still hadn’t asked Bogner’s point of view on that result.
The apparatus on Xi Ping’s wrist suddenly sounded. He said a few words upon opening his apparatus, and his expression abruptly turned strange.
Closing his apparatus, Xi Ping saw the gazes of the other two on him. Still wearing his strange expression, he dropped a big bombshell. “Tang Hanpei has personally led reinforcements from the Federation Comprehensive Academy here. He has just arrived in Pomelo.”
Old He operated a bar, and it was just when business was best, as the night gradually deepened. He was busy to the point of being dizzy, with his head spinning and his feet barely touching down.
A screen took up nearly two-thirds of the entire wall in the middle of the bar. Ever since getting a fantasy card receiver, that thing had immediately become popular in all the bars. What could be more pleasing than watching interesting programs while drinking?
Images of card artisans battling had previously been the most popular, but after the most recent tense situation, more and more people paid attention to the current news.
The busiest in there were the waitresses, most of whom were young, pretty, and dressed stylishly. They were really skilled with the jet stream card. It was perfectly delightful whenever an absolutely gorgeous and lovable doll held out a drink and flew to your side with a dazzling spin.
Old He had been a card artisan for 20 years before he got old and used his savings to open the bar. None of his previous sharp spirit could be seen on him. All that remained was a warm and affable spirit, although no one would ever dare make trouble in his place.
Old He was pleased with his current life. He was just then buried in booking his receipts with all the noise in his ears, which was like heavenly music to him.
The noise he had become so used to suddenly disappeared. Old He paused what he was doing as his heart took a leap.
What happened? He was about to lift his head when the voice on the fantasy card receiver was clearly transmitted to his ears.
“Exclusively reported to this platform: Today at 9:40, the flag bearer of the Federation Comprehensive Academy, Tang Hanpei, personally led troops to Pomelo. He brought along about 80 card artisans, and they are said to be rather well-known aces within the Federation Comprehensive Academy for these last few years.
“Shockingly, in the short time before Tang Hanpei arrived, the idol of the Federation Comprehensive Academy’s younger generation, the ace Zu Ning, was mysteriously killed. There has been no related information so far. According to eyewitnesses, Zu Ning’s neck was fatally injured by a wavy blade.
“The apparatus on Zu Ning’s wrist has disappeared, along with a large quantity of money cards. Inconceivably, the Federation Comprehensive Academy’s storehouse was ransacked. What went missing included a large quantity of all kinds of cards. The final losses haven’t yet been calculated. No organization has issued a statement taking responsibility for the affair.
“The Federation Comprehensive Academy responded in the first instant. Pavchek was unusually angry and issued an order for a reward for the first time ever in front of the media. If anyone could provide a clue, they would be rewarded with 1 billion Oudi. If they could find the killer, not only would the reward be 10 billion Oudi, but they would get the right to enter the Federation Comprehensive Academy for the opportunity to study.
“We have interviewed quite a few experts, and all of them agreed with the proposal. The reward is possibly directly related to the Cross-Section of Styles legacy Zu Ning had been practicing. A scholar like Zu Ning would conventionally carry with him a copy of the legacy. But the Federation Comprehensive Academy still has made no response to that question.
“This platform has just received news that Qiao Yuan from the Central Repository of the Classics, who quietly appeared in Pomelo after sweeping the original powers of the Federation Comprehensive Academy, encountered the Faya firm. A fierce battle developed between the two sides. Both suffered heavy casualties, and Qiao Yuan suffered minor injuries himself. Apart from that, it is worth mentioning that the card artisan who wounded Qiao Yuan had been using 013 from the numbered series of cards.
“Will Tang Hanpei take advantage of Qiao Yuan’s injury to make his attack and take the initiative in the battle? We have no way to know right now.
“It has been reported that Qiao Yuan and Tang Hanpei have never fought hand-to-hand before. The winner and loser between them would directly determine the issue about which firm would have rights of attribution for the Central Island Firm. With Faya still stalking from the side, the issue is still more complicated.
“Because of the many-sided battle, there have been heavy casualties among the ordinary citizens of Pomelo. It has been rumored that the Bitter Solitude Temple and the Star Academy are preparing to organize a team of medical card artisans to enter Pomelo to help the ordinary people. Such a mobilization has also gotten a response from Desert Camp and Moon Frost Island. We have no way to predict the final result…”
The bar exploded with commotion.
“Shoot, to be able to kill Zu Ning, what kind of hotshot did that?”
“Hmmm, the Big Six have always thought of themselves as hotshots, and now someone has put them in their place. Right on!”
“Zu Ning. The idol of so many! Oh boy, which one kills with a thousand knives? If my old lady finds out who did it, she’ll be right there with him!”
“Take a guess; when Qiao Yuan faces Tang Hanpei, which one will be the bigger winner?”
“013! Good lord, I’ve dreamed of it so many times!”
All the receipts in Old He’s hand fluttered to the floor. He didn’t know when things would finally get better. He let out a long sigh.
The world was getting messed up.