Mr. Liu was dressed in a white exercise suit, a cup of latte in his hand. He paced about the room slowly, occasionally frowning at the screen on the wall.
"Sir," the female assistant beside him suddenly stood up from her desk, "I've just ascertained that the man who killed Wang Wenlong and his team is named Jiang Shaoliu. He used to be a veterinarian and he fought Sha Xing of the Yungang League not long ago. Sha Xing is currently missing."
The cup shattered in Mr. Liu's hand, spilling hot coffee all over the place.
"Sha Xing?" Mr. Liu dropped the broken cup and his eyes blinked with silver light. "Contact Gui Gu, I'm going to the mountains now. We can assume that Sha Xing is dead since he's been out of contact. Seems I'll have to deal with this Jiang Shaoliu myself!"
"But, Mr. Liu," the assistant began nervously, "you just…"
He dismissed her with a wave: "Jiang Shaoliu will surely die if I cooperate with Gui Gu."
He turned around and picked up an alloy longsword from a side table, then dipped a cloth in some clean water to wipe it down.
The female picked up the phone and looked to Mr. Liu. "Shall we notify Lei She's squad about Jiang Shaoliu's abilities?"
Mr. Liu kept silent for a while, then he closed the eyes and shook his head: "They will tire him out so we can deal with him more easily."
The assistant slowly put down the phone.
Was this what he meant by "all costs"?
She trembled at the realization.
Fierce blasts of air shook the forest as Jiang Shaoliu threw his fists at the Gangxing Group master assailing him.
With every punch, his opponent would try to dodge and they didn't dare to fight back, and Jiang Shaoliu took full advantage of this.
At the same time, he reigned in his strikes so as not to kill them too fast, giving himself the opportunity to test out the new forms he had practiced. "Now I can finally put the new tricks I've learned to the test in a real fight!" he beamed.
It wasn't easy to find such an opportunity to experiment, especially against bronze masters with three life rings, who were too fast.
Shan Mao, with his right wrist broken, was fighting with his left. He was clumsier, but it was harder to predict which angle he was going to attack from with his alloy steel claws.
Another master, Feng Huo chased after Jiang Shaoliu and slashed at him relentlessly with his knife, almost cutting him several times.
The short one was skulking in the back, searching for the right opportunity to sneak up on Jiang Shaoliu, his dagger like a venomous snake that could bite at any time.
Jiang Shaoliu deflected Feng Huo's short knife with a precise backhand to the flat of the blade, then he turned around and kicked Shan Mao's left wrist.
Feng Huo almost lost his knife, but sneered and shouted, "Shan Mao, he's weakening!"
Shan Mao stepped away, rubbing his hurting wrist while staring at Jiang Shaoliu with a sinister look his eyes: "That's right, we're tiring him out! We can outlast him!"
The short guy was peeking around them, waiting for his chance.
Two masters dropped down to the ground on their left and right at the same time, shaking the earth.
The battle ground to a halt and everyone looked to the two newcomers.
Jiang Shaoliu made no expression and focused on his qi flow, as if he had already predicted their arrival.
"Feng Huo and Shan Mao," Bao Long pulled a big knife from his belt and started playing with it in his fingers, "are you just playing cat and mouse?"
Shan Mao narrowed his eyes. "Bao Long and Kui She."
Kui She removed the nine-tailed whip from his belt and looked at Jiang Shaoliu: "So, how do you want to die?"
Jiang Shaoliu ignored him, engrossed in his own thoughts: "My elbow was a little too high just now and I could be faster; I could stretch the true qi from my back to my left shoulder to increase my explosive strength…"
Bao Long gripped his knife tightly and shouted: "Damnit, are you a deaf? I asked how do you want to die?"
Kui She cracked his whip with a thunderous crash and said coldly, "You should know Bao Long tends to get a taste for human flesh when he gets all worked up. He'll be sucking the marrow out of your bones if you aren't careful…"
"You eat human flesh?" Jiang Shaoliu opened one eye and glanced at Bao Long. Then he nodded at Kui She: "Well, come and get it."
Feng Huo waved his short knife around impatiently and shouted in anger: "Don't waste your breath talking to him. He's just killed three of our brothers, let's kill him together!"
"Three?" Kui She shook his head at Jiang Shaoliu: "I was going to let you to die peacefully, but now… I don't think so!"
As the last word left his mouth, the nine-tailed whip whooshed across the air at Jiang Shaoliu's head.
Bao Long roared and jumped up into the air, his big knife raised to stab into Jiang Shaoliu's skull.
Jiang Shaoliu retreated and stretched out his hand to counter the nine-tailed whip.
The whip cracked like a thunderclap and quickly contracted again, only scraping across his arm.
"Haha, I'm just joking with you!" Kui She laughed. "You'll see how I'm going to kill you."
Bao Long missed his stab and transferred his momentum into a forward roll as he landed, jumping to his feet with a swift horizontal slash.
Jiang Shaoliu kicked off the ground and somersaulted out of the way, landing with eyes narrowed in concentration.
Bao Long turned over his wrist and powerfully stuck his knife into the ground. "Come here and let me kill you! I don't like raw meat and I don't think you want to be roasted, right?"
The two masters laughed but Shan Mao felt nervous; he knew something was about to happen.
Things went south fast when that guy was so quiet.
"Is that all you want to say?" Jiang Shaoliu crossed his arms and tilted his head side to side to pop his neck bones. Then he said in a cold voice: "I didn't want to kill you."
Jiang Shaoliu suddenly vanished in a blur and appeared a dozen meters away in front of Kui She. He drove his fist into Kui She's chest and roared: "But you force my hand!"
Everyone was taken aback.
Kui She had his third bronze life ring around his liver and could outrun the wind.
How could he fail to evade his fist?
Kui She hung, twitching, on Jiang Shaoliu's outstretched arm, his hot blood dripping down into a large crimson pool.
His internal organs were crushed to a pulp, his spinal column crushed, spinal cord snapped, and his trousers were soaking in urine.
"Do you like this stinky flesh?" Jiang Shaoliu dragged the corpse over to Bao Long.
He shook his arm and Kui She's body fell into the bloody mudd.
"You eat human flesh, right?" Jiang Shaoliu's voice was cold. "Show me."
Bao Long roared hysterically and ripped out his knife to cut violently. Jiang Shaoliu immediately reached out and hoisted him up by the neck.
Bao Long's feet were off the ground now.
"Ack…" Bao Long's bulged out of their sockets. He dropped the knife to the ground and clung to Jiang Shaoliu's wrist, wheezing in a choked voice: "You, you, you just…"
"Eat it." Jiang Shaoliu narrowed his eyes. He was expressionless, his face stained with blood like a devil.
Bao Long's face became purple, he was struggling hopelessly, fighting for breath.
"Eat it!" Jiang Shaoliu squeezed and Bao Long's neck bone snapped.
He threw away Bao Long's body and turned over to the other masters: "I look like a total bully, huh?"
Shan Mao was shaking as if he was standing naked in waist-deep snow, covered in cold sweat.
Jiang Shaoliu walked towards him slowly, but Shan Mao remained riveted in place. He lost the ability to move.
Feng Huo and the short guy…
Were thunderstruck as they watched Jiang Shaoliu grab Shan Mao and drive his fist into his face.
Shan Mao was dead.
"Run!" Feng Huo wanted to scream, but his voice betrayed him. He turned around and ran for his life out of pure primal instinct. There wasn't even green airflow under his feet.
Jiang Shaoliu caught up to him and grabbed him by the shirt, hoisting him up from the ground and throwing him several meters away.
He himself jumped up almost ten meters into the air and threw himself back down violently, aiming at the airborne Feng Huo's abdomen.
Feng Huo crashed into the dirt like a meteor, blasting out a bit pit and sending a huge cloud of dust and debris.
He lay quivering in the crater, his eyes closed and blood foaming up at the corner of his mouth.
"You all die now."
Jiang Shaoliu walked forward.
The short guy trembled all over, his mouth agape. He didn't make any sound and could even hold on to his dagger as a wet stain started growing on the front of his crotch.
He had killed and seen others kill; even seen them eating people.
But he had never seen anyone like this.
He was not a human…
But a devil.
The thunder of automatic gunfire suddenly suffused the quiet.
Several figures rushed out from the foliage, their submachine guns spewing ammunition with abandon. Bullets hit Jiang Shaoliu's back like a hailstorm until the bitter smell of burnt hair started rising from his wolf-skin vest.
Tears of hope welled in the short master's eyes.
He wouldn't die. His people were coming to save him.
Jiang Shaoliu sighed irritably and rushed toward the gunmen.
The short guy's jaw dropped as head after head rolled across the bloodstained forest floor.
He was wrong; there was no hope at all.
Some distance away, two figures were darting through the thick woodland.
"I can hear the shooting in the distance, sir!"
Luo Dabiao carried the rocket launcher with the toes on the rocks, his shadow was reflected several meters away: "It's from our guys, they are fighting now."
Suddenly, the shots stopped.
Luo Dabiao grinned victoriously. "They got him!"
Lei She began to nod, but then he went purple with rage: "But I can't hear the sniper rifle, and the submachine guns can't kill him..."
They sped up to the limits of their ability, the wind roaring in their ears.
Now they felt a little nervous.
Jiang Shaoliu dragged the giant hedgehog into the cave and took off his bullet-riddled, tattered wolf-skin vest.
It was not a good idea to walk around in the city bare-chested, so he began plucking the hedgehog's spikes and stripping it of its hide.
"A hedgehog vest and wolf-skin shorts. Well, how often do you see someone dressed like that…" he put on the hedgehog-hide vest and did some stretches to check the fit, nodding contentedly.
The fire was on and the hedgehog was on the spit. The cave was soon filled with an appetizing smell.
His stomach groaned impatiently.
Jiang Shaoliu rubbed his tummy gloomily.
Hedgehog meat contained a lot of protein and had a fine texture. There was also no concern for parasites as it had been thoroughly cooked.
But as a vet, he knew it could also stimulate the appetite.
He would feel hungry if he didn't eat it, but he might feel even hungrier if he did.
Jiang Shaoliu was faced with an agonizing dilemma.
Hot fat sizzled as it dropped on the fire, releasing an alluring aroma.
The meat became gold-brown; soon, it would be ready.
With a sigh, he slapped himself on the thigh and stood up. He couldn't help but eat now, it simply looked too delicious.
Behind a big rock outside, Luo Dabiao rested his rocket launcher on his shoulder, aiming at the vines covering the mouth of the cave with dead-set eyes.
He pulled the trigger.