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Chapter 336: Atop the Electric Shuttle
Autumn turned into winter, increasing the nights and decreasing the days. Half of the allotted afternoon school society time had yet to pass when the rays of the setting sun cast upon Acumen College. The sun dyed everything with a layer of red, vaguely matching with the Wilderness within the projection.
Luo Nan rode the campus's electric shuttle. He headed toward the auditorium with half-lidded eyes. He looked like he was sleeping, but he was not.
Xue Lei didn't mind. Splitting the consciousness for two uses. Luo Nan had been like this for the entire day, not resting for a short moment. But Luo Nan's wrist band started to vibrate. It did so for several dozen seconds, and Xue Lei could even hear the buzz. This brother still wasn't responding. What the heck?
Xue Lei couldn't hold back at last. He gave Luo Nan a push. "Someone's calling you!"
Luo Nan went, "Ah,” and finally snapped out of it. He saw who it was on the caller ID and put the call through. "Hello, Third Brother."
Hu Huaying was the one who called. The call barely connected when he smacked Luo Nan with a question, "Nanster, where are you?"
"I'm heading to Gear right now."
"Okay. Hurry up a bit. The construction team is wrapping up for today. The underground facilities are pretty much all repaired now. They gave Old Xie a call, and Old Xie gave me a call to ask you to check it out."
"Check it out?"
Luo Nan felt that things were quite amusing. Since Gear had been damaged by the fires last week, that place had become a location where supernatural entities gathered. There were five, six, seven, eight spies stuffed there. What was there to check out? The volume of intelligence each faction was gathering?
Of course, this matter had nothing to do with Xie Junping and Hu Huaying. When all was said and done, all of this was caused by Luo Nan being too high-profile back then, and the display of his extraordinary attachment to Gear. Even if there was nothing odd about Gear, Luo Nan's actions were bound to stir the attention of several eyes. What's more, this place was not that simple.
Luo Nan's emotions swung twice before he responded with a whisper, "I know. I'll be there in a minute."
Luo Nan hung up and leaned back. He furrowed his brows subconsciously.
Xue Lei turned to look at him. "You're no longer attending the meeting?"
Luo Nan grunted and said, "Nope, it's too long. I don't really understand as well."
Actually, some of Luo Nan's words were insincere. Xue Lei couldn't tell, but he was curious. He asked, "What did they talk about?"
"They talked about things like Mutants, genetic infection, and the probability of transmission." Luo Nan used telepathy to inform Peony as he talked with Xue Lei. He just left a bit of will to give Ink reins as he completely withdrew his attention.
It was already half past four in the afternoon. Seven hours had passed since the meeting started. Luo Nan withdrew, subconsciously letting out a sigh of relief.
As the meeting dragged on, the discussions grew more and more technical and specialized. Such specialized knowledge was too obscure and abstract for a high school student. From time to time, it was simply like listening to a different language. To forcefully try to understand it was a waste of brain power, and this would also bring about issues with accuracy.
He might as well just listen to the conclusion. The Hidden Indigo Firm were arranging things this way, after all. Luo Nan finally realized Zhang Yingying's kindness. If things were to follow in the style of today's meeting, there wasn't much he had to do for the next few days.
However, Luo Nan had to admit that he really learned a lot from this long meeting. Much of the specialized knowledge regarding Mutants and the Wilderness, as well as the related intelligence analysis, were unheard of and unseen until now.
Luckily, Luo Nan had taken lessons from the Society recently. Otherwise, Luo Nan would lack even the most basic of common knowledge in these subjects.
"These days, you need to be careful of cats, dogs, birds, bats, mice, and other animals like these. Don't get hurt by them. Right, there's the recycling stratum in the Dual River District. You need to be careful of people too."
"What happened? A viral infection? An epidemic?"
"It's not that serious. The effects on normal people isn't too big. It's mainly us who are..." Luo Nan recalled the knowledge he gained from the meeting, giving Xue Lei a warning.
The virus transmitted by the Mutant was such that the stronger the infected person, the greater likelihood of mutation. Ability users were people at high risk.
It was like some time ago with the crisis from the divide and spread of the Human-Faced Arachnid. Aside from the unlucky few who got too close, normal people practically escaped unscathed. But several people of Xia City's ability user society branch were controlled by this parasite, creating a huge mess.
That was an infection on the mental plane. As for the Winghand Bloodbat, the poison and the virus were transmitted via blood. Physically enhanced ability users would find themselves attracting the Winghand Bloodbats like flies.
Xue Lei's tooth ached just listening to Luo Nan. He gritted his teeth and couldn't help asking a few details.
Luo Nan acted as a translator. He took all the information he knew and selected the information that directly concerned him. He simply requested Xue Lei to refrain from spreading this information. It was fine to warn his family to take note. If any symptoms appeared, they should promptly contact the Society.
"Isn't this a bio-crisis? And the city is hiding it like this? There hasn't been any rumors of it at all. I wouldn't have known if you hadn't told me…. Oh right, will there be any problems with you telling me these things?"
"I have signed a confidentiality agreement," laughed Luo Nan as he waved his hand. "The agreement is written very clearly. The Hidden Indigo Firm and its shareholders have the right to know and follow the developments in the situation. We are also allowed the discretion to notify parties of interest. However, our actions must not cause social impacts…. So isn't this okay?"
"Social impacts?" Xue Lei didn't quite understand.
"No informing the various authoritative media and social media. Do not cause rumors. This should be all right."
Xue Lei let out a breath of relief, and he couldn't help from breaking into laughter. "This agreement isn't worth sh*t."
"It's quite an unequal one."
This clause was extremely vague. To follow to the letter resulted in a limit that was practically boundless. The Xia City's branch was Hidden Indigo Firm's shareholder. They also worked for the public good. Xue Lei was a member of the Society. Legally, it wasn't a problem for Xue Lei to know.
In the meeting, it was unknown just how many times Peony used methods like these to torment Wu Bin to the point of wanting to cry but being unable to. This was something else Luo Nan had gained today.
In addition to the discussion of specialized knowledge, the meeting also involved techniques and skills of office politics. Peony, Long Seven, Director Wu Bin, and Intelligence Officer Axel Thue displayed excellent performances in regard to this.
Luo Nan expressed himself quite emotionally while explaining it to Xue Lei, "The flashing of blade light and sword shadows. To kill without a sound. What sort of minds does this group of people have?"
He really admired them.
Luo Nan had experienced many things since entering the inner world. He was always within the eye of the storm, and he always became the target of fire. There were many times when he needed to forge ahead, contend against enemies, and work with his teammates. He never had any leeway to rest.
In fact, his experiences proved that he wasn't a natural leader. He was crippled in this aspect to a degree.
He spent most of his time past the age of ten doing experiments and immersing himself in research. His introverted nature was one that was nearly that of a hermit. He had no concept of certain matters at all. He could only move in accordance to what he felt. There were many flaws in his chain of actions, and many times what he did was for naught. Luckily, his fortune was decent. He had the power revealed to him by Formatting Theory. He also had assistance from He Yueyin, Zhang Yingying, and big shots like Ouyang Chen. Only in this way did he not die a violent death, and instead, endured the many bumps on the road of life to this day.
In today's meeting, Luo Nan remained behind the scenes, a rarely seen action. He just left a strand of consciousness tied to Ink's body. He collected his mouth, only bringing his eyes and ears. He increased his knowledge using only pure observation, obtaining real benefits.
He learned in particular from Peony and Long Seven. Peony was a very strong individual, but she was extremely good at utilizing her beauty to gloss over and dispel matters. On the other hand, Long Seven was a needle concealed in silk floss, a ruthless character behind a gentle appearance. His sharp, prideful air was concealed behind an aura of confidence and ease produced from his words and actions.
Occasionally, the two would oppose each other with equal intensity. Occasionally, the two cooperated closely. Being divided or being together was unfixed. They brought Wu Bin, a seasoned character at the scene, under their rhythm. The team leader had long since become merely the team leader in name.
This sort of scene's ability to grab one's attention was much more powerful than that of the dry and boring classroom lectures.
Peony and Long Seven were in their twenties, but their stores of knowledge, their bearings, their words and actions, and their natures and characters were quite brilliant to Luo Nan. Luo Nan admired them… and perhaps felt inferior in comparison.
He was only six or seven years younger, but they were this different. Would he be able to reach their level through the experience of six or seven years?
All right, these hopes seemed uncertain….
A call from another person came right when Luo Nan was describing the situation to Xue Lei. This time, the call came from a different channel. The HexaEar vibrated. It was Zhang Yingying.
The connection was made, and this sister excitedly smacked him in the face with a question, "You've been stunned by them, right?"
"Quite stunned," Luo Nan spoke with sincere emotion, "Your firm is filled with the elite. Peony is quite amazing. It seems like she's even from our school?"
"Tsk, you've simply jumped ship to go catch lobsters, and now you're speaking modestly? Don't go blindly praising others. What about you?"
"Me? What can I do? I'm just pretending to be a crow over there…."
"Crow, my a*s! It's more like you're out of it! Big bro, you're the core of this project, okay? Being elite doesn't matter. If you don't talk, they'll just play hide and seek at Xia City!"
Zhang Yingying's mood was erratic. She was all smiles before, but now she was frustrated because Luo Nan did not meet her expectations. "The firm has outsourced this project to you because we look favorably upon your mental sensing ability. All the work depends upon your actions. Letting our firm do all the work is the same as tossing money away. The least you can do is listen!"
Luo Nan didn't know how he should respond. This quarrel was different from the ones in the past. Zhang Yingying was speaking completely from his standpoint. She exhausted all there was to talk about. There probably wasn't anything he could refute with.
He was speechless for a long time, and it was Zhang Yingying who sighed in the end. She slowed down and said, "I'm not reproaching you. I just feel that this is an excellent chance for you. The job is practically tailor-made for you. Just do things like in a video game…."
"This, the invasion of Mutants, can't be considered a game."
"A metaphor. It was just a metaphor, okay? Haven't you realized it? Your biggest problem is that you're too stressed. The work is to search out these Mutants. You're pretty much the only one with a mental sensing ability on this level in Xia City. Aside from the boss and the president, there's no one who is better than you. This is your specialty. This is your field. You're the authority here. If you don't establish a frame now, when will you?"
"Oh my god!"
Luo Nan's silence spelled the problem very clearly. Zhang Yingying couldn't hold back from tilting her head to the sky and sighing, "Your performances at Frost River Reality and at Ocean Sky Cloud City were quite kick*ss. You stifled people to the point of madness. You cheated people to the point of spitting blood. You killed people, totally annihilating them. You were godlike. But with just a few days of time, you're shrinking more and more."
"I haven't shrunk," Luo Nan wanted to correct her for his own sake.
"Yes. Yes, you old man. You're growing, but it doesn't hurt to stand up straight everyday. Are you getting enough oxygen to your brain?"
Zhang Yingying shot her mouth off like a machine gun. She mowed down with a rapid-fire beat, "Relax. Relax your mind. What are you stressed about? Are you afraid of embarrassment? Don't say that you're an authority. Even if you make a small mistake, you're not really appearing in person. What's wrong with making a mistake? That crow. Its name is Ink, right? It is a mask. And you use it to conceal yourself. No one knows who you are. You can laugh or you can curse. You can cry or you can vent. They won't know who you are unless you tell them."
Luo Nan asked stupidly, "A mask?"