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Pedestrians on the streets nearby could hear the deafening explosion from the second floor of the parking lot. Zhang Heng went down on the ground immediately after he pulled the trigger. The resulting shockwave was so powerful that it pinned him tightly on the floor. At the same time, Dacia Sandro beside him had moved by more than ten centimeters.
Seeing that the situation did not turn out well, Zhang Heng had put up his arms to protect his head, but even so, he sustained some minor injuries. Thankfully, the good old Dacia Sandro had blocked most of the debris that would have otherwise caused serious harm.
Earlier, only the car’s rear window shattered, but now, every pane of glass on the car suffered the same fate. Sharp pieces of broken glass rained all over Zhang Heng. The air was filled with dust and smoke, and there was debris everywhere. It looked like the aftermath of a warzone as if the entire place had been hit by a missile.
The explosion knocked Zhang Heng out, causing him to experience short-term tinnitus. His mind went blank. After about twenty seconds, the ringing in his ears subsided, and his hearing gradually returned. Pushing himself off from the ground, he dusted off the concrete on his body.
A giant crater could be seen at the spot where the rocket-propelled grenade hit. Steel rebar embedded within the concrete jutted out like jagged thorns, and what was left of a Porsche hung out of the hole with its wheels hanging outside.
A pile of concrete and debris now covered the place where Scarlet was standing. Unless a miracle happened, it would be impossible for her to survive. This time, since Zhang Heng’s opponent was killed by the explosion (unlike how he killed his opponent with his bare hands during the Apollo Training Camp quest,) he wasn’t rewarded any game points.
He stumbled a little, retrieving the Paris Arrow from a distance of about ten meters and walked to the rubble to make sure Scarlet was really dead. Only a few pieces of red cloth were seen were dangling out of the giant concrete slab. However, Zhang Heng managed to spot something else in the gap between the two cement slabs.
As he picked the katana up, he heard a notification from the system.
[Game item found – Katana (unidentified, broken)]
Zhang Heng pulled out the katana without much effort. Unfortunately, like its previous owner, it did not survive the explosion. Its blade was broken, and its lower part was nowhere to be found. He knew it was special the moment he held it in his hands, and a glint of sadness emanated from the cracked blade, seeming like it knew it was broken and was mourning its destiny.
This was the first time Zhang Heng came into contact with a damaged game item, and he had no idea if the sword could be repaired. If only there were more time, he would have looked for its remaining pieces.
However, six minutes had passed since the battle between him and Scarlet ended. Zhang Heng was a little surprised that Black Nest hadn’t arrived yet since the explosion was loud enough to alert the police officers nearby. Not wanting to take any more risks, he picked up the Dodge Tomahawk and jumped on it.
Forty seconds later, Zhang Heng thundered out of the parking lot with the monstrous V-10 thumping between his legs. He chose to travel on a route with less surveillance, making it difficult for Zero to lock on to his position.
The current CTOS system was launched in a hurry when it was still semi-finished. The cameras used to monitor the street were from the transportation department. Zhang Heng took advantage of the many shopping malls and subway stations around him, and after changing transportation modes several times, he managed to rid himself of all the surveillance cameras on the street. He met up with the 01 on a trash cleaning boat on the Cannon River.
“We successfully escaped Zero’s surveillance. There are no cameras on the river, and I’m confident enough to say that we are safe… for now,” Little Boy paused and looked at Zhang Heng, “What the hell happened in that parking lot? I heard the explosion. Are you okay?”
Zhang Heng had already changed two sets of clothes while escaping, but his hair still contained some traces of dust.
“I encountered a difficult opponent. It wasn’t that hard to defeat her, actually… I was mainly worried that Black Nest would capture me if I was stuck fighting for too long. So I had to do something minor to get out of there.”
“That’s not something minor. You’ve got reporters rushing over there, and its already on the news on a few channels. Some are even suspecting a terrorist attack,” Waldo said while facing the computer.
Zhang Heng took a towel from Little Boy and wiped his face and hair. “Let Black Nest worry about it. They’ll find a way to settle the problem. After all, they still want to kill Edward. Things are starting to get more serious now.”
“We should move Edward to a safe place as soon as possible,” Ponytail said.
“Thank you, but I can’t leave yet. I have to fulfill my promise and expose what Black Nest has done to the public.”
“But now, these guys are starting to panic. They will do whatever it takes to kill you before you can speak to the public,” Philip warned, sounding worried.
“Or you can pass the information to one of us, and we will announce it on your behalf,” Ponytail suggested.
“No, it took me a long time to find three honest and selfless people I think I can trust. I took risks communicating with them, establishing a connection, and gaining their trust. The three of them represent traditional media, emerging online forums, and documentaries. I need to tell them the truth face-to-face. It has to be me, and it can only be me. Only via that can it be a credible matter. Black Nest has enormous power, but they can’t cut off all three channels simultaneously. As long as these three channels work together, Black Nest will eventually meet their demise,” Edward insisted.
“When?” Zhang Heng asked. “The team will come to Toulouse in two days.”
“Black Nest has already hacked your mailbox. So, they probably already knew about the meeting.”
“No, I encrypted my mail this time, and it will be destroyed after I read it. Even if they hacked into my original mailbox, they wouldn’t know who I am contacting.”
“Even so, it’s just too dangerous to risk it,” Ponytail shook his head, “How long will it take to complete the interview?”
“I have a lot of things to tell them, and since they don’t work in our field, I have to explain everything to them in layman terms. I estimated that it would take three days or two and a half at the least to complete the interview.”
“Did you know, that’s long enough for Black Nest to kill you a hundred times over?!” Waldo asked in disbelief.
“Yes, so I may need some help,” Edward looked at everyone, “Words cannot describe how grateful I am for everything that you’ve done for me. Really, I have known you people for so long now, but I have never been able to meet up with all of you. I wish that we could have met in a better place. There’s nothing I can do about it since the matter has almost gotten out of my hand. Perhaps when everything is over, we can reintroduce ourselves in a nice café. But now, we’ll have to complete what hasn’t been completed.”
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