Su Heting dug in his trousers’ packet. There was only a crumpled-up poster inside. He did not bring a handkerchief or tissues, so all he could do was roughly wipe away the nosebleed with the back of his hand.
The elevator door was opening. Su Heting had to go.
“Don’t cry.” He conveniently handed the poster to the child’s father. “The organization is recruiting. Welcome.”
The child’s father accepted the poster with trepidation.
Su Heting stood up and strode out of the elevator.
“Moshi moshi.” He said in broken Japanese. “Where are you?”
He had only just taken a few steps out of the elevator when he heard the alarm on the first-floor lobby blaring. The punk band on the reception stage nearly seemed to be high on drugs as they kicked into high gear and played with even more gusto when they heard the alarm. The sound of electric guitar and alarm overlapped with one another in the lobby, deafening everyone in an instant.
Xie Zhenshu: “I’m in the parking lot on the right.”
Su Heting plugged a finger into an ear and asked in a loud voice, “What did you say?”
Xie Zhenshu: “…”
He had no choice but to raise his voice. “Go out and turn right. I’ll wait for you in the car.”
At the same time, the Monk’s warning device was going off non-stop. He braked the armored car to a stop outside the lobby of the trading center and pressed down on the communicator in his ear. “Hurry, hurry. All of you, move it!”
The members of the Armed Squad got the message as soon as gunshots rang out in the trading center. This group of gunmen seemed like terrorists as they engaged in a shootout with the Armed Squad in basement three.
The trading center had already been surrounded by the Armed Squad. The Monk flung the car door shut and heard the man on it shouting over the communicator in his ear.
“Elevator #2 has stopped working. They are heading up right now. The target is the hybrid with the code name ‘Meowzai’!”
“Go up the stairs and prepare to evacuate the Survivors. We must ensure Meowzai’s safety.” The Monk snapped on his gas mask amid the flying clouds of dust, then picked up his gun and gave it a hard tug to cock it. He led the way in and commanded the armed group members around him, his voice sounding muffled under the mask. “Move forward! On my mark, prepare to evacuate the survivors!”
Su Heting heard Xie Zhenshu smile in his earpiece. “That’s quite the number of people coming to pick you up.”
There were plenty of ordinary survivors in the lobby crowding around the service desk and reception stage. The music had them let their guards down, and consequently, they were still unaware of what was going on.
Seeing the freight elevators rising from basement three on both sides, Su Heting raised his hand and shot at the band’s speakers.
“Get down.” Like a villain, he fired another shot under the blaring of the alarm and shattered the glassware on the counter. “All of you, get down!”
The Survivors on the scene scream, confused by the situation as they scattered in a panic. Survivors who did not manage to get down in time all kneeled on the ground and huddled together as they held their heads. The sound of sobbing was already audible.
It was at this point Xie Zhenshu asked, “Whose car are you planning to get on?”
Su Heting rubbed the blood from his nose with the back of his hand again. “Isn’t it obvious?”
As soon as he said that, he gripped his gun and fired two shots in the direction of the freight elevators without looking back.
Before the gunman in the freight elevator could walk out of it, he toppled over to the ground. Blood instantaneously spread, and the elevator doors, jammed by the corpse, opened and closed incessantly.
“Well done.” Xie Zhenshu complimented Su Heting simply.
The gunman’s accomplice, who was still inside the freight elevator, kicked away the corpse. At the same time he strode out of the freight elevator, he held his submachine gun level with both hands and opened fire into the lobby.
The fancy-looking furnishings in the lobby exploded one after another, spewing shards of glass everywhere. Survivors screamed and huddled together as they scrambled towards the corners.
Su Heting hid behind the reception wine cabinet and heard the wine bottles go “pop, pop, pop” as they shattered in succession. Various wine fragrances merged into one as wine spilled to the ground, mixing together with the stench of blood.
Keeping his body low, the Monk charged his way before the glass door of the lobby. The gunman was turned to the side, scanning the area as he prepared to shoot at the wine cabinet. The Monk fired at him, and the bullet slammed into the gunman’s head. The other party instantly dropped to the ground, and the ejected shell casing fell to the Monk’s feet in response.
“Meowzai, come out!” Worried that there were still gunmen in the lobby, the Monk cautiously pushed the door open and treaded silently towards the side of the wine cabinet.
He kicked over the wine cabinet with one foot, only to realize that there was not a single soul there. Su Heting had long fled.
He’d called it—he had long said that they ought to mark Su Heting with a tracking bug.
The Monk did not have a chance to speak to his in-ear communicator when the door to the safe passage on the other side was suddenly slammed open. All the gunmen from basement three poured in, with over ten of them blocking the passage entrance. The moment they stepped through, they started firing at the Armed Squad in a frenzy like lunatics with no regard for the safety of the Survivors.
A few rounds flew past the Monk’s ear, and the Monk had no choice but to dodge them. There was a flash in his peripheral vision, and he saw Su Heting breaking out of the door.
—This person must remain within the Armed Squad’s sight!
“Catch him.” The Monk said into the communicator. “Snap the sensor locks on him!”
Su Heting braced himself on the railing with one hand and nimbly flipped over it. He heard the Armed Squad members behind the armored car a short distance away raise their guns as they commanded, “Squat down!”
As he raised his hands, he slowed down and said into his earpiece, “I’m about to get caught!”
“Stay where you are and wait for me.” Xie Zhenshu said. “I’ll come and get you.”
The next moment, Su Heting heard a kind of sonic roar that sounded just like the howl of a beast as it brazenly charged out from the right side of the trading center.
A pure black sports car stirred up several meters of dust and clung low to the ground as it roared. With countless eyes on it, it crashed over the trading center’s safety rails, drifting arrogantly before braking to a forceful stop at the lobby entrance.
The two voices within and outside the communicator coincided.
Without even stopping to think, Su Heting got into the car. He had only just fastened his seatbelt when the left door was struck by bullets, the shower of bullets sounding just like a sudden rainstorm. The car started up again, braving the threats of the armed group as it hurtled forward with a “vroom”.
The Monk’s furious shout was discarded behind.
The temperature inside the car was low, at only a dozen or so degrees. A hand from the side handed him a handkerchief.
“Oh.” Su Heting took the handkerchief and covered his nose. He turned to look at the other party. “Thank you…”
The other party was a man with an ordinary appearance. He looked so ordinary that he was forgettable. Throw him into the crowd, and he would not stand out. In fact, he would be even hard to find.
But how to put it… he looked so ordinary it all appeared deliberate.
Xie Zhenshu turned the steering wheel. His voice was still uncomfortable to hear. Presumably, he was still wearing a voice changer.
He said, “You’re welcome.”
The atmosphere in the car inexplicably became tense. Su Heting kept up with covering his nose while his eyes closely followed Xie Zhenshu. His tail rested at the side of his leg, and he looked to be relaxed, but his entire person was ready to spring and grab the car the next second.
He asked point-blank, “Are you wearing a facial obscurer device?”
This stuff was all the rage in the trading center. It was a convenient tool for Hybrids to use when they were on clandestine missions in which they had to hide their identities. Su Heting used it before too. However, few Hybrids would use this, since it would interfere with vision when worn on the body. Plus, it was far more convenient for Hybrids to simply get a face transplant.
Xie Zhenshu did not reply, which could be taken as tacit acknowledgment. He glanced at the rearview mirror. “Your pursuers are here.”
Two new-style motorcycles suddenly appeared in the rearview.
Members of the Armed Squad near the armored car were setting up roadblocks. On seeing the motorcycles, they immediately fired warning shots as a signal for the other party to take a detour. “No passing through!”
But the new-style motorcycles were like two heavyweight bulls that broke through the cordon at the same time the Armed Squad gave their warning. Ignoring the curses of the Armed Squad members, they turned the handlebars tightly and raced towards the rear of the sports car amid explosive-like roars.
“Seal off the whole street of Zone 03.” The Monk was burning with rage as he kicked the trash can in front of him and raised a hand to press down on his in-ear communicator. “Arrest this bunch of lawless bastards!”
The new-style motorcycles sprang over the explosion-proof device the Armed Squad set up and landed on the ground from a height of a meter before accelerating.
Having been professionally trained, they were well-coordinated as they split into two sides to catch up with the sports car. One of them swerved around and rammed diagonally into the rear of the sports car with its rear.
Xie Zhenshu changed the sports car’s driving mode.
The sports car’s muffler was pushed to the limit as it rumbled and hurtled forth like a sharp arrow leaving the bowstring, widening the distance between them and the new-style motorcycles. That clear, distinct sense of being pushed back against the seat sent Su Heting’s adrenaline soaring, and his heart started to pound wildly.
It was nearly dusk, and the streets near the trading center were packed with vehicles. Honks blared from the cobweb-like flyovers. The lamplights on the crowded shopping streets were already in operation. The display screen on the top floor of the public square exploded into countless fireworks with a “bang”, and a massive projection of a commercial star instantly enveloped the surrounding buildings.
“The nightlife of the city,” The virtual star gave a thumbs up and recited his lines, “is all happening at the trading center…”
The Armed Squad’s aircraft passed through the dense cluster of flyovers with a “swoosh”, beaming their lights as they swooped down with their siren blaring and followed hot on the trail of the new-style motorbikes.
“Stop the vehicle!” The electronic voice of the aircraft warned. “Danger! Stop the vehicle!”
Both groups ahead turned a deaf ear to this. The bikers charged up the paths to the left and right to coerce the passing vehicles on both sides towards the center, like sheepdogs herding sheep.
A six-seater outmoded family car speeding on the left swerved in a panic as it attempted to flee and scraped hard against the sports car to the right.
Xie Zhenshu steered the steering wheel with precision, weaving in and out of traffic with exceptional ease. Even if his car had been scraped, he maintained his composure. The car’s body accelerated infinitely in the gradually narrowing road, like a ferocious beast that had gone berserk with rage.
All kinds of dodges and evasive maneuvers became a mere blur of shadows from Su Heting’s first-person perspective. There were several times he suspected the rearview mirror had already been scraped off. He wanted to say something to relax Xie Zhenshu and himself, but before he got to say it, the right side of the car was once again heavily scraped against.
The tires grazed the ground with an ear-splitting screech as Su Heting’s back left the seat and slammed back into it.
After a long time, he finally squeezed out a sentence, “Where are we going?”
“The thieves’ den.” Xie Zhenshu said in a tone that was leisurely, the exact opposite of the situation at hand.
Su Heting removed the handkerchief and said, “Okay, then I—”
Xie Zhenshu abruptly turned the steering wheel and braked when the front of the car turned left, leaving half of the car body blocking the road so that those new-style motorcycles in close pursuit of them were not able to turn around in time. The family cars at both left and right sides braked in desperation.
Xie Zhenshu’s expression remained unchanged as he said, “I’ll show you a magic trick too.”
As soon as he said that, he stepped on the accelerator. The car shot forth with a “vroom—” and crashed through the railing in an instant.
CRASH—The sports car sailed over the overhead gap and went flying through the turbulence.
Su Heting watched wide-eyed as the projection of the celebrity he could not name kept magnifying before the car window, while the night scene of the black market spread out in full display beneath his feet.