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The “suicide” of the Ford driver impacted the 01 guerillas significantly. To help Edward, they had voluntarily stepped forward, attacking Black Nest’s CTOS Project to uphold justice and protect internet freedom. They were certainly not inspired by superheroes and were simply an ordinary group of people at best. Reality was way crueler than they had thought, especially after seeing four gunned men exiting the Citroen. They finally realized how dangerous this whole thing was, and whether they wanted it or not, they were now involved in it.
All five attempted to put themselves in the shoes of the driver of the red Ford, deducing that he must have had no other option but to kill himself. It appeared he would rather do that than to beg Black Nest to spare his life.
Everyone in the Renault fell silent.
“Whoever here that’s starting to regret; it’s not too late to quit now.”
Zhang Heng was the one who spoke up, leaving Little Boy clueless as to how someone could still remain so calm at a time like this.
He drove past the accident site at a steady speed, as if nothing had happened.
The members of the 01 guerrillas were undoubtedly excellent in their respective fields. As long as they were assigned to the right task appropriately, they could provide unparalleled technical support. However, Zhang Heng could not force them to participate in something so dangerous. It was better to give them an option to leave now rather than allowing an unsuspecting member to suffer extended psychological damage later on. “Are you kidding me? Do you think such things scare us?” Little Boy was the first to speak up.
Zhang Heng was mindful of not embarrassing her in front of the team. When the Ford driver jumped off the bridge, her body had started shaking. It was probably her first time witnessing somebody ‘dying’ at such close proximity, and besides, there was a possibility that they too would end up like him. Philip wanted to say something, and even though he had opened his mouth, he decided to keep mum. Nevertheless, the calmest person among the five turned out to be Semiprime, only speaking when necessary. “We already know that this is a dangerous journey, don’t we? The right choice is always the hardest choice to make. Think of Assange, Aaron Swartz…”
“No offense, I like Aaron too, but I don’t think it’s a good time to mention his name,” Waldo said, “But I don’t plan to leave. I once got into big trouble. Edward helped me settle it, so, for me, this operation is more than simply upholding justice.” Philip sighed again. “I can’t imagine what my future daughter’s life would be like if she lived in a world ruled by CTOS.”
“Wait… so, it’ll be okay if you get a son?”
Philip thought on it for a while, then affirmed, “Yup… if it is a son, he will be fine.”
“I’m glad we have once again reached a consensus,” Ponytail said with clasped hands. Amid the group’s discussion, he had been working on completing the photo’s processing. The man in the picture had a pair of blue eyes and a hooked nose, looking somewhat like a vulture. Ponytail then sent the photo to Waldo.
“Leave it to me,” Waldo nodded.
It took him only two minutes before he found the online account of the hooked nosed man, but it took almost twenty to hack into his account. “Are you in trouble?”
“Give me five more minutes,” replied Waldo. He didn’t look up, eyes focussed on the screen and his fingers busily tapping away on the keyboard.
Five minutes later, Waldo finally let out a sigh of relief. “Vincent Naceri. This guy is ruthless. His parents are not French. He grew up in Belgium and joined the foreign mercenary army when he was 19, stayed there for five years, before disappearing for three years. There were rumors that he was doing the Seventh Division’s bidding, dealing with things the government didn’t want to get their hands dirty with.
“I just hacked into the Seventh Division’s system, and the rumors are true. This guy killed an entire village, including women and children, in a certain operation in Africa. The government was supposed to eliminate him in that village, but someone saved him, gave him French citizenship, and asked him to join Black Nest. He is now the leader of Black Nest Secret Operations’ second squadron.”
“Wait, you hacked into the Seventh Division’s system in only twenty-five minutes? Since when you became this good?” Philip frowned.
“Can’t you let me brag for a minute? Well, it’s actually not that exaggerated. Remember how I kept asking you questions about security last year? I sneaked in during that time, and they didn’t find out. It’s still there, but I rarely go in for a stroll.”
“How about the Ford driver?” Zhang Heng asked, caring more about the person he suspected was a player.
“He covered his face when he abandoned the car, and I only managed to recover a quarter of his face from the side. It wasn’t easy to look him up in the system, but it doesn’t matter anymore. He’s dead,” sighed Waldo with outspread hands.
“Black Nest and their goons will find a way to salvage his body and figure his identity,” said Ponytail. He had noticed Zhang Heng’s particular interest in the driver of the Ford. After thinking for a moment, he said to Little Boy, “We have Vincent’s cellphone number. Can you monitor and locate him?”
Little Boy nodded. “He is not a technician,” she added, “which means he is not as cautious as us. I can locate and monitor him through an application that has location and voice permissions. Leave it to me; I’ll deal with him.”
“Is there anything else we need to do?” Ponytail turned to look at Zhang Heng again.
“Thanks, but that would be all for the time being. Let’s discuss the rest of the matter after I study to what extent Black Nest controls Leah.”
At the same time, the Renault Scenic also drove off the highway, pulling up to the hotel they had booked earlier.
After dinner, the five members of the 01 guerrillas went on to purchase the equipment they needed. Zhang Heng chose to act alone. Since the enemies were extremely powerful, he had to tread lightly. Instead of driving a rented car, he got himself a cab and went to a bar called La Grenouille Verte.
It was 11:54 at night when Zhang Heng entered the bar. Having done his research before he came here, he knew that this is Grenoble’s famous gay bar. It was also an extremely rare gay bar with mixed genders as patrons.
Zhang Heng took a seat and ordered a beer. That was when a man with a cowboy hat came to him. He declined the man’s request to have a drink together, secretly observing his surroundings.
At 00:32, Leah and her Choking to Death band arrived. According to information collected by Waldo, the band would perform at La Grenouille Verte every Wednesday and Saturday night. As compared to the school, the complicated environment here was more suitable for Zhang Heng to hide.
After a simple warm-up, Leah hugged her bass guitar, and amid cheers from the crowd, she walked up to the microphone. Instead of saying anything, she turned around to the drummer behind her before hugging and kissing the blond girl.
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