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Little Boy did not expect Zhang Heng’s prediction to come true so soon.
Two weeks later, just when everyone was beginning to doubt if Edward would ever contact them again, they suddenly received an anonymous email. This email, with nothing written on it, came from a temporary mailbox. The only thing composed in it was an address.
Immediately, 01 members gathered in front of the computer. Waldo scratched his head, not knowing what to make out of it. “Who sent it, Edward?”
“This is too easy. It might be a trap from Black Nest,” Little Boy warned cautiously. “Black Nest doesn’t know who we are. We didn’t expose ourselves except for Luke,” Ponytail paused, then explained to Zhang Heng, “On the night you were discovered, Waldo hacked into the airline’s computer systems. He’s changed our passenger details to prevent Black Nest from finding us.”
“Moreover, this email address that we are using right now isn’t the same one Edward used to communicate with us. This is my private email address. We used to correspond using this one, Phillip added.” “So, you are the only two who know this email address?”
“Uhh, that’s not the case. I have a few friends who know it, but they are not the kind to pull pranks. They won’t just send me an email with nothing but an address on it without any reason,” Philip said.
Before Little Boy could say anything, Zhang Heng chipped in, “There is no problem with the address.” “Well, how do you know the address is okay?” “Because one of my friends received this address too when I asked him about it. He used a temporary mailbox as well,” Zhang Heng explained.
“But you cannot rule out that it could be a trap that Black Nest has laid for us. If Edward really sent this, why didn’t he contact us with the email address he always used?” Little Boy asked rhetorically.
Waldo made a wild guess. “Because… his original mailbox has been exposed?”
“Yes, if Edward’s previous mailbox has fallen into the hands of Black Nest, they will know that we have contacted him, and they will likely use this opportunity to set a trap for us,” Little Boy analyzed. From a logical point of view, her inference was indeed very reasonable, but for Zhang Heng who had already seen the ending, the address on the email had to be the city where Edward was now hiding in.
Zhang Heng thought for a moment. “You are right, but this is the only clue we have in two months. We can either go to that address or just sit here and wait.”
What Zhang Heng said silenced the 01 team. It would be a perilous but exhilarating journey in helping Edward fight against the formidable and fearsome Black Nest. However, they had spent almost two months in a random hamlet, and other than sleeping and eating, they had nothing else to do. Philip was even in the mind to be depressed over a weight gain of two pounds.
On the other hand, Waldo, who had been lying on the sofa slurping Coke and eating potato chips, hadn’t gained an ounce of weight. Philip felt that life was unfair.
However, no matter how comfortable it was to live in this town, everyone was getting tired after spending such a long time here. No one knew when or if any new clues would come in if they kept waiting, and even then, they still couldn’t get rid of the traps Black Nest set for them.
“Luke is right. We can’t just sit and wait here anymore,” Ponytail said, “anyway, we need to investigate the place on the address. Of course, Little Boy’s worries are justified. It is imperative that we remain vigilant at all times. We can take the train to Grenade first, and drive to Toulouse after that. If Black Nest has set up a trap for us in Toulouse, they won’t be finding us at the airport or the train station.”
“Great, I’ve always wanted to go to Toulouse,” said Leah.
Toulouse, the capital of Haute-Garonne in southern France-Pyrénées, was the fourth largest city in France. It was known as the city of roses, not because Toulouse produced a lot of roses but for its large number of pre-war buildings with it’s iconic brick structures. Toulouse was named after the color of the red bricks that resembled blooming roses.
Walking under those red brick walls threw one back in time, giving one a sensation of walking through the tracks of history. Every brick and tile laid here was filled with stories and traces of a time long-forgotten.
Hence, 01 finally reembarked on their journey after two months of rest. This time, Leah traveled with them as well. With a face caked in a thick layer of thick makeup, she hoped Black Nest’s people wouldn’t spot her. A wide-brimmed hat and oversized sunglasses that masked half of her face completed the disguise.
“Would I be mistaken as a celebrity?” Leah asked with a chuckle.
Zhang Heng glanced at Leah in the rearview mirror, “Can’t you buy a smaller pair of shades?”
“I can’t help it. I’m afraid the smaller sunglasses will unleash my ravenous beauty,” sighed Leah as she stretched lazily, looking as helpless as a kitten.
Zhang Heng understood why Leah would become the leader of 01 twelve years later. This girl was friendly. It did not match her almost perfect appearance, but when the two were mixed, she radiated with a pleasant and easy-going warmth that instantly made those around her feel at home.
Little Boy, on the other hand, was on the other side of the spectrum. Although she didn’t have the typical poster-girl gleam of Leah, the features on her face were beautiful. She wasn’t one to care about dolling up, and would instead remain inconspicuous by having a pair of headphones on and keeping her head down all day. Besides, she was always dressed like a boy. In Waldo’s own words, “Little Boy is like a little boy. I have and will never develop any romantic feelings toward a little boy.”
Zhang Heng had seen her sitting alone by the window, munching on cookies on a rainy day. He didn’t think Little Boy was that bad. As he reminisced life in the parallel quest, Little Boy suddenly broke his thought. “I just checked out the address, and I see nobody suspicious over there,” she said.
“Okay, we will reach the place in about five minutes,” replied Zhang Heng. Considering how weak the 01 were when it came to combat, he hoped they would focus on the mission’s logistics instead of barging to the frontlines and risk their lives. Eventually, Zhang Heng and Leah were the only ones who headed towards the address given in the email.
Little Boy paused for a moment. “It’s strange,” she said, “The nearby surveillance cameras couldn’t find any signs of intrusion.”
“It means nothing is wrong, right?” Leah wondered.
“No, she meant that if it were Edward, he would have done something to the place with his skills,” Zhang Heng explained.
In the parallel quest, 01 had failed to rescue Leah. Therefore, the subsequent plot development was different from the present. In this timeline, Zhang Heng was unable to figure out what Edward intended to do.
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