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Muscles finally understood what Zhang Heng meant when he said he would be grateful for the extra tape.
In just half a minute after Zhang Heng turned from defense to attack, Muscles was cut so many times he lost count. Later on, he decided to give up attacking and focus on defending himself, but nonetheless, still suffered multiple stab wounds.
In Zhang Heng’s hands, the steak knife was like an elusive ghost. There was no telling where it would land or go next. Though the knife drew no blood since it was covered in tape, there were still plenty of bruises, and boy, did they hurt like hell.
In the end, the ripped man was down on one knee, gasping for dear breath. When he saw Zhang Heng walking towards him, he quickly raised his arms and shouted in mandarin, “Stop! I give up!”
Zhang Heng wasn’t surprised, knowing who the muscle man really was since he had not spoken a word since the beginning. The fact that he spoke in mandarin meant he admitted to being a player. “Do you know where Edward is?”
“Yes, I’ve been with him for the past two months, and I’ve been taking care of him,” Muscles gasped, drawing in deep breaths as he struggled to stand, “but that guy is very troublesome, always asking for this and that. He’s really difficult.”
“What should I call you?” Zhang Heng offered a hand.
“I’m called Torres in this quest, but you can call me Iron Fist.” Iron Fist shook Zhang Heng’s hand, but the pain in his body only made him wince.
Zhang Heng did not ask Iron Fist why he wanted to challenge him. He did not need to since he knew exactly what Iron Fist was thinking. This was a rival-faction quest. While players of the same faction would naturally work together, there was a – Iron Fist hoped to use his skills to win the right to have a say in the partnership later.
Instead, he was given a handsome drubbing. Zhang Heng compared his opponent to the man with piercings, and he came to a disappointing conclusion. In terms of combat skills, this amateur fighter was no match for the ex-police officer.
“While you were with Edward, have you ever seen other players?”
Iron first shook his head. “It seems that players won’t meet in the earlier stages of the quest. You are the first player to arrive after we sent the email.”
“How many have you sent?” Zhang Heng asked.
“Only two emails were sent from the monastery’s address. But because only Leah could decipher the keyword that Edward left there, he also contacted three other people-a reporter from Le Monde, a moderator of an online forum, and a well-known documentary director. Edward selected the last because he considers him the most trustworthy person to expose Black Nest.”
Iron Fist paused for a second before continuing, “But recently our situation hasn’t looked too good. Somehow, Black Nest found out that Edward was in Toulouse and sent many of their men after him. They even got a guy named Vincent to be their commander. We had to be very careful. Just two weeks ago, A group of unidentified militants raided Edward’s residence, but fortunately, we evacuated five minutes before they broke in.”
“What are you guys talking about?” Leah asked.
“We got lucky. We finally found the one we’ve been looking for,” Zhang Heng answered.
An hour later, the whole 01, including Leah and Iron Fist, headed to the hardware store around the corner of the training hall. Zhang Heng had to act as the interpreter for both parties.
“This is also Mr. Gilm’s shop. Oh, Mr. Gilm is the owner of the boxing hall. Back in the day, he was a very famous boxer. He made heaps of money in professional matches and took advantage of the cheap housing prices in Toulouse. He’s bought some nice looking properties, but the training hall remains his favorite.”
“What is Mr. Gilm’s relationship with Edward? Why would he take such a massive risk by helping you?” Little Boy asked.
“We are completely unrelated to Mr. Gilm, but he has a past with Black Nest. His son was a loyal fan of Black Nest and collected all their merchandise. Then, the family was involved in a car accident, where his son was tragically killed. Mr. Gilm believed that the autopilot system supplied by Black Nest was the cause of the unfortunate traffic accident. Then, he sued Black Nest.”
“So, what happened?” “Black Nest obviously won the lawsuit. They provided piles of data and test results to prove that the autonomous driving system was safe and reliable. But later, Edward found the flaws in the system and sent it to the court anonymously. So, during the second trial, Mr. Gilm won and received handsome compensation. He still hates Black Nest, though, and thanks to that, he is skeptical of all high-tech products. He hopes someone can stop Black Nest from launching the CTOS system.” “Hah!” Philip smirked and looked at the surveillance camera above them.
“Don’t worry. This model isn’t connected to the internet. Edward uses it to monitor the movements out here,” Iron Fist explained.
The hardware store was already closed for the day, but Iron Fist had the key with him. He unlocked the door and spoke to the camera in English, “Edward, we’re coming in.”
After that, he pushed the door open and entered the shop. As he walked in, he turned to Leah. “He really cares about you. He’s mentioned your name many times before, and what worries him most is Black Nest doing something to you. So, yeah… it’s great to see you arrive safely.”
Zhang Heng did not translate what Iron Fist said this time. His brows knitted together as he looked around the unlit hardware shop. “Is there something wrong with Edward’s body?” he asked.
“Edward left Garden’s address in the clue not only because it’s Mr. Gilm’s place, but so he can watch the training hall as well. In other words, he should have spotted his sister already. So why hasn’t he come downstairs?”
“Are you suspicious of me?” Iron Fist asked and cocked an eyebrow at Zhang Heng. Instead of explaining further, he immediately walked up to the attic above the top floor and knocked on the door to prove his innocence. Curiously, no sound came from inside.
Iron Fist looked taken aback. “Could he be sleeping?”
Slowly, Iron Fist pushed the door open. However, the moment he did that, a red dot appeared on his forehead.
Before Zhang Heng could finish his sentence, Iron Fist’s head violently snapped backward, and he collapsed on the ground. A spatter of warm liquid landed on Zhang Heng’s collar.
“Sniper! Take cover…” Zhang Heng whispered as he scanned the room. There was a messy desk, a folding bed, and a telescope in front of the window pointed toward the training hall, but the room was empty.
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