"Are you feeling quite alright, Wan Qing?" Lin Naoi asked. It was supposed to sound caring and attentive, but it lacked the necessary warmth.
Wan Qing's heart started thumping. She knew that this was the typical tone used by Lin Naoi to express her dissatisfactions with her. Her words sounded warm and indifferent at the same time.
"Yes… Yes, indeed. I didn't rest well last night, and I feel a bit unwell. But you shouldn't worry, it was nothing but a chill." Xu Wan forced a smile to appear on her frail face. She stood up, wanting to express her apology to her mistress. She decided that when the situation allowed, she would seize the first chance to absent herself from the interrogation and free herself from any further accusations.
However, before she could open her mouth to talk, Lin Naoi passed her a bottle of blue drug, asking her to take it, before demanding her to take a rest in the hotel. Clearly, Lin Naoi did not want her to leave just yet.
Wan Qing's heart skipped a bit when she saw that bottle of blue liquid drug. It had the volume and the appearance of the same drug Mu had in hand.
Moreover, it was not long ago when the mutants had also taken them!
Was she implying something? Wan Qing grew more nervous minute by minute. She felt uncertain about her mistress' intention, and this uncertainty made her inwardly disturbed.
"This is a newly developed drug. It could enhance one's immunity and energy level. You should immediately see the effect after taking it," Lin Naoi calmly said.
Wan Qing was taken by fright. She took it from her mistress' hand then carefully examined it. The drug's slightly lighter color seemed to suggest that it was a different one to the drugs taken by the mutants, but she was still rather nervous.
"Wan Qing, what have you actually done to him. Don't try to hold it back. I want no secrets between us two." Lin Naoi gazed at her.
Wan Qing smiled back at her mistress, but her heart still trembled in terror. She could think of many possible outcomes if she chose to unveil the truth. She knew the natural disposition of her mistress. Even though she would not be together with Chu Feng, she would still not like the idea of him being harmed by a third-party.
Everything would have been much easier if Chu Feng had died in her set-up. There were Bodhi Genes and Kong Kim lingering in the area, so blaming them for his death would have been the perfect solution to the mess she had caused on herself. However, to her terror, Chu Feng was still well and alive.
"We did bicker and squabbled last time he called me. I said he would never prove to be a match to you, and as I've expected, he's now wanting for a comeback." Wan Qing's voice was timid and soft. She cast a sidelong glance at Lin Naoi, then continued, "I really don't think he is a great match for you. You guys are from two different worlds."
She tried to conceal parts of her wrongdoings with lies and side-tracking. It was her desperate attempt to play for time. Even at the presence of Chu Feng, she would still make the attempt to deny everything she had done.
"You are such a disappointment!" Lin Naoi calmly said these words. Her great composure as she spoke made the listeners unable to tell the true meaning behind the words.
Wan Qing's mind was perturbed and restless. She felt something had gone right.She knew that her mistress was not the stupid kind with whom to be fooled around. Even though she had not heard anything regarding the senseless operation, nor had she collected any substantial proofs, she must have had her own suspicions.
Just then, Lin Naoi's communicator started ringing.
"The little girl whom you sent out for me had been treated with an intense bombardment on our way back. She died a miserable yet honorable death." Chu Feng's voice came through the communicator.
Although Lin Naoi had conjured theories and conjectures about what might have happened to some extent, she had never dreamt of something so outrageous. She spined on her heels, and faced Wan Qing with a surveying look. The glaring rays projecting out of her fetching eyes reached Wan Qing's guilty conscience and pierced her frail heart.
"Ah!" The soul-piercing stare pricked her heart and her eyes like a cutting needle, unsettling her greatly.
At the same time, she also heard the voice of that man: the man whom she wished to die but who was still left breathing air. Her fear was thereby confirmed.
How was this happening? Was he not in the car then? This was the moment when both the fear and the resentment reached a boiling point in her mind. Why was he still alive? Nothing would have been left posing against her if he had died. She would then be able to walk away from her past evil scot free.
There were people who always tried to attribute their undoing to others and never looked for the wrongs in themselves.
"Mu, you should be here to save me," Wan Qing silently prayed in her heart. It was all because of her willingness to lend Mu a helping hand that all these troubles were brought about on her.
"Uncle Qian, take her into custody. Don't forget that she is a mutant, so lock her with the all the latest invention of our alloy yokes and shackles," Lin Naoi calmly ordered her to be taken down.
This came like a bolt from the blue. It hit Wan Qing like a thunderbolt. Her face instantly turned pale, and her rosy cheeks had now lost their color. She was both terrified and fearful while her ears were buzzing with sound.
She knew that only the most atrocious criminal who had committed guilty sins beyond forgiveness would be damned to such a heartless punishment. The yokes and shackles were both casted with scarce metal. They ensured no-one would run free from their confinement so that in the end, the worst possible form of retribution could be imposed on them.
A slightly opulent old man leisurely ambled in. He had a kindly look. He was an affable man who was always amiable to others, but now, the look on his face was nothing but solemn. His devotion to his mistress compelled him to carry out her order without questioning.
"Naoi, how could you treat me like this?!" Wan Qing exclaimed.
"You are my closest assistant. I treated you like my kin. I gave you the authority to act on my behalf when I'm not available to communicate with the outside world. You could have done everything you wanted, but this time, you crossed my bottomline," Lin Naoi indifferently said.
Lin Naoi had a tall and thin physique. That lanky figure of hers was much desired by every one of her beholders. At times, even Wan Qing herself was envious of her mistress' otherworldly beauty. The cold elegance of her mistress could easily turn to a cold-hearted indifference when anger crept in. The look of her was bitingly frosty.
Wan Qing was a pretty woman as well, but she could always feel a sense of inferiority in the presence of her glamorous mistress. The lack of confidence turned to sheer fear when Lin Naoi picked up her imposing manner. She was so frightened that not a single word could be spoken from her mouth.
Lin Naoi wavered her hand, signalling for Uncle Qian to take her away.
"Where are you, Chu Feng? I want to pick you up." Lin Naoi rung up her past lover.
"Already in town."
"I was planning to be treated by you for some local speciality, but forget about it, the treat is on me this time," Lin Naoi candidly offered.
Chu Feng understood to what Lin Naoi was referring. She wanted to express her apology to him.
He replied with an address, and after a while, a red sedan stopped at the roadside beside him. The window rolled down, and the rosy cheeks of his past lover cropped up. "Hop in!" Lin Naoi said.
Chu Feng looked around the car, then said, "Red? This was not quite what I expected of a coldly elegant person like you. Your frostiness used to make me think that you drove a blue car."
"You've really got a mouth on you, don't you? Still the same Ol'Chu Feng I used to know and…" Lin Naoi paused, then she showed a light-hearted smile. The way she dressed was quite different too. It was not an exquisite dress, but rather a mix-mesh of hot pants and t-shirt. The clothes were nothing luxurious or even branded, but her attire was nothing in poor taste either.
Shortly, they arrived at a restaurant.
The diner was a quiet and cozy place. It played a mild and mellow tune in the background, allowing the conversations between the guests to be undisturbed. There was also a crystal chandelier hanging down above the marble floor. Obviously, the place was of no match with a restaurant in the metropolis, but this might qualify to be the best diner in town. Most importantly, the place was tidy and clean.
Exiting the car, the two walked into the diner abreast. Lin Naoi had been plainly turned out today. The unusual casualness displayed by Lin Naoi's hot pants and t-shirt naturally caught Chu Feng's eyes.
However, this sense of casualness also clearly showed her superb figure. She was 170 centimeters tall, and most of that height was contributed by her straight and well-proportioned legs. The legs were also snow-white, making the pair both seducing and dazzling.
"What's wrong?" Lin Naoi crocked her head and asked.
"We've parted for so long, so I wanted to have a better look at you, but there is something dazzling me, and I don't know what it is." Chu Feng smiled.
It had always been the sheer brazenness of Chu Feng that rendered her speechless; however, the brazenness was portrayed and spoken with confidence as if justice were on Chu Feng's side. One could comment that Chu Feng was an open and sincere kind, and it was wrong to call him an impudent and no-good son of a b*tch.
"You really haven't changed," Lin Naoi replied with a visceral smile. She did not distaste Chu Feng as a person. They made acquaintance with each other all thanks to the openness that was dictated by Chu Feng's unique characteristics in the first place.
At school, who but Chu Feng would have dared provoke her? Chu Feng was the kind who was not afraid of courting troubles, so he had the edge over the other pursuers who were too careful to pluck up their courage to make themselves at least known to her. The biting frostiness inherent to her was the obstruction for many to make a move.
Chu Feng, on the other hand, was a different animal. He could easily make an impression of himself in anyone's mind if he wanted. He behaved himself with a cheeky insolent manner for the first time they met. Taking over her seat, folding her name card into a paper airplane, then permitting the plane to take off with a gentle blow in front of him, sending her name card into the air outside. All these was still some vivid scenes engraved on her mind.
Chu Feng did have left a first impression of himself in the girl many loved, albeit a horrid one at first. However, Lin Naoi had never been quick to take offense, so naturally, although it was shocking to see such discourteousness portrayed on her, it was not a stumbling block that could impede the two from furthering their relationships.
"Come! Let me really have a look at you. I want to see what have changed and what haven't to you." Chu Feng smiled. He took the opportunity to further his wanton aggression by sizing her up from top to bottom. The fervent stare percolated every cell of the blushed girl, from her charming eyes to her alluring neck, then down went the passionate look of a lover to the very bottom of the girl's feet.
"Stop it. Sit!" Even if Lin Naoi was born with a frosty nature who would normally only show a little of her smiling face, the clowny, albeit brazen, nature that Chu Feng portrayed had really cracked her up.
"How lovely your smile is, girl. It is a feast for the eyes!" Chu Feng said. He pulled out the chair for Lin Naoi as a show of his gentility, then gently pressed her down on her shoulders.
In the near distance, Uncle Qian was watching. The physical contact raised his eyebrow, but then he went on to his own business, leisurely slouching in his chair, looking outside and pretending to have seen nothing.
"I'm sorry!" Lin Naoi whispered as the two were sitting down.
"Don't be. Look! I'm still well and sound. It's… just a shame to see that young girl… you know, it's so saddening to see such a young soul fading away. She deserved better." Chu Feng shook his head.
"Yes, indeed. Her family will get compensation, and I will try to offset the damage with whatever I can do." Lin Naoi knitted her fine brows in thought. Although she seemed cold from the outside almost all the time, her heart was still warm and kind.
Chu Feng nodded.
"What other trouble has she inflicted on you lately?" Lin Naoi asked.
"A woman who grew vines in her palms. A bat. A spider. A monster with a scaled skin. A gang of scoundrels and armed soldiers… They all have come to visit me lately. Oh, I will say this. I feel I've never been so popular in my life ever since that call to that woman was made," Chu Feng spoke in a careless way.
Lin Naoi straightened her back. Her eyes were resplendent with thoughtful flares, then she turned to Uncle Qian and said, "Watch her with extra vigilance. And, no-one is allowed to approach her!"
"Roger!" Uncle Qian hopped on his feet and walked away.
"I will make her answer to the wrongs that had been done to you." Lin Naoi solemnly looked at Chu Feng.
"How will you punish her?" Chu Feng asked.
Lin Naoi combed her beautiful head of hair, revealing the jade-like texture of her forehead. Her eyes turned cold and said, "She had gone too far this time, so I will first remove that privilege of hers as a mutant."
Chu Feng was astonished. One could disable the mutated power of a mutant?
"But, I will still ask for your understanding and forgiveness, because the punishment that follows will take some time before they can be executed. My uncle will be marrying her sister soon, and I had been, in the past, urged to take good care of her on behalves of my sister and my future brother-in-law. So, I need to discuss with them first before deciding on which specific form of punishment she will have to endure," Lin Naoi patiently explained.
"What is the most severe form of punishment?" Chu Feng furthered his queries. His resentment for that woman was now almost insufferable to some extent.
"The most severe form will ensure that… she will never show up again," Lin Naoi answered.
Chu Feng nodded before saying, "But I'm worried because the person who always have my back has an explosive temper. I'm worried that he would perhaps do something about her before her call of justice arrives."
The look on Lin Naoi's face slightly shifted. It was the look of profound curiosity which was hard to find on someone who was devoted to a life of indifference and frostiness. She asked, "I had always been curious to ask, who was the helping hand? Of course, it is your right to keep quiet on this."
"He's… my parents' friend. You know, they live in that metropolis in the north, so did I. I came back for a vacation. He used to be a serviceman once, but he was discharged lately from active military service because of some mutations happening to him that made him incredibly strong. It's been quite a while since my parents and I had last met, so out of sheer family affection, they asked this man if they could leave me in his care. This request, to which he gladly agreed, sent him here. He will escort me back to that metropolis in the north soon though," Chu Feng said.
He felt it was right to remain low-key for now. It was a lesson learnt from those not-so-subtle mutants who died a miserable death because of their arrogance and their tendency to bloat.
In this brave new world, staying dormant in one's own cave was better than to flaunt and show off the skills that were still in an embryonic state.
At the same time, he was not too desperate to attract Lin Naoi with his ability to fight off mutants and identity as a non-mutant superpower. He never wanted to prove anything. It was of his best interest to stay true to himself and to the ones around him.
Love is love. It was meant to be a true affection of the purest and the most chaste sort. It was an abstract, yet true construct that should not be mingled or contaminated with marks and titles. Whether he was a superpower or not, or whether his acquired power had turned him to a mutant or not should have never been the contributing factor to one's love for another.
Perhaps this would only exist in his illusion of love, but this was what he valued and what he pursued. It was true love, after all, that would prove to be long-lasting and heart-felt. He did not want to shamelessly exchange his new identity for anything.
"So, there is someone behind your back?" Li Naoi thoughtfully nodded.
"It was also him who objected the idea of me boarding the car you sent for me, and that's why I'm here right now breathing air at the same table as you." Chu Feng sighed.
Meanwhile, Lin Naoi's communicator rang. It displayed the name of the caller as Mu.
She answered the call, and on the other side, there was the soothing voice of a man. His voice was a feast to ears, but at the same time, it also sounded solemn and serious.
"Naoi, I think we may have to go against Bodhi Genes earlier than we thought." He told Lin Naoi that Kong Kim had managed to set up an ambush this morning that claimed the lives of many of his henchmen. Even though the eighteen mutants had taken the drug they were allocated with, this team of leading fighters is all wiped out clean.
"Alright. I will talk to you later." Lin Naoi hung up the call.
Her knuckles were knocking on the table, looking thoughtful and reflective. The two both paused after the call ended, sitting face-to-face. Her charming face started becoming increasingly alluring with each minute passing by in silence. In addition to being snow-white and lustrous, her cheeks were soft and delicate too.
"What's wrong? Has someone made things difficult for you?" Chu Feng asked.
"The man who stands on the tip of the pyramid, Kong Kim, as you might have heard, killed eighteen of our men, just as the car sent for you got bombarded on its way here. How coincidental." Lin Naoi forced a smile.
As if there had been rays of glittering luminance projecting out from her eyes, her pupils looked ever so gleaming and twinkling. Then, she raised her head, reading the look on Chu Feng's face as she said, "Tell me, the person behind your back was the killer, wasn't he? Tell me about it. I won't blame him for it."
"Kong Kim? This boy… this boy never disappoints, doesn't he?" Chu Feng blurted out. It was beyond all his expectations to hear that Kong Kim had been thought to be part of this.
He then continued, "That henchman of mine never came to blows on our way here. He has been staying with me for the entire duration of our trip. His suspicion was only confirmed once we saw what was left of that wretched car, but I guarantee you that he had never been part of any of these senseless killings."
"It was still sad to see them die in the hands of a super-mutant. Although I might hold some grudge against them because, bloody hell, they wanted to kill me… but all in all, I do still feel… regretful about their… passing-away." Chu Feng did not say much, but he was confident that the words he had spoken would, in the end, serve him well.
Being caught in a whirlpool or getting involved in a maelstrom of war was the last thing for which he desired. It was time for him to just stand by and watch as those who wanted to avenge for that team of dead mutants sought their vengeance on Kong Kim.
"I'm so sorry, Kong Kim. Those lots deserved to die, so it was not your fault. But… you know what, I won't complain if you can just take the blame for me!" This was his innermost thoughts and feelings. He was truthfully thankful for the "kindness" that Kong Kim selflessly offered.
Lin Naoi's watch was still on him, but she did not choose to go deeper into the business. The two moved on from this topic.
"Fancy anything particular to eat?" She faintly smiled. Between those cherry-like lips were her sparkling teeth. It was this instant where this visceral smile had thoroughly displayed her true beauty. It was a breath-taking sight for its beholders.
But, it only took a sentence for the mood of the scene to be all shattered into the void.
"Attendant! Get me ten kilos of beef!" Chu Feng wildly shouted like a feral beast.
A few black lines crawled up on Lin Naoi's snow-white forehead. Chu Feng's rapid degradation in his demeanors from that of a gentleman to nothing short of a caveman happened all so fast. Luckily, this was not a deluxe diner, and there were no others around. Otherwise, how disgraceful this would have turned out to be!
"Did you die of starvation in your past life?" She was frustrated, but her exasperation soon turned to a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
"You don't know, but hear me on this. I have never been so desperate to eat beef or anything that have anything to do with a cow or an ox lately. But, sadly, I can't. I can't eat any beef at all! My mouth waters when I think about beef… Oh man, oh man… Today is a good day. Today, I am going to EAT BEEF!"
Lin Naoi was all lost in laughter. "No problem! I never knew you are such a die-hard fan of meat. But this is easy. I will get you a whole table of meat. All kinds of them! Pork, chicken, fish…"
"No! BEEF! JUST BEEF!" Chu Feng gave a stern rebuff.
Juxtaposing this juvenile demeanor with that earnest look on his face cracked her up even more. This guy never felt shy about anything. He did as he pleased. Nothing was pretentious, and nothing there was overly affected about him. His humor had really lit up her day.
However, she did have gotten it wrong this time. Chu Feng was indeed a ravenous man for beef. He was a desperate one for the taste of a juicy bite of steak or a nice chunk of stewed beef. He had cut all ties with beef ever since that bastard of a cow chose to join his family.