The assault was as perfect as a flashing star. In less than half a minute, they took Tang Xiaoxing away in one piece, leaving the secret police of the government-in-exile and the local gangsters of Fish Dragon City in a mess.
Ear-splitting shrieks were echoing in every direction.
That was the sound of countless crystal suits rushing toward the place.
Their exhaust flames drew bright traces in the night sky as they approached like hundreds of flying swords.
Most of them were the Exos of the Four Sectors Chamber of Commerce. Some were the secret police of the government-in-exile who had previously been attacking and arresting other senior members of the ‘Election Observation Delegation’.
They had reacted quickly enough to arrive at the spot in only one minute after the strangers vanished with Tang Xiaoxing.
The secret police, after briefly discussing the issue with each other, immediately dispersed and followed the strangers’ traces!
None of the secret police of the government-in-exile, the local gangsters of the Chamber of Commerce, the Secret Sword Bureau, or the mysterious fourth force knew that they were in a battlefield that Li Yao had picked for them.
Li Yao kept still. The two special agents of the Secret Sword Bureau who were observing in darkness did not move, either. The one with a rougher voice sniffed and said, “It’s the ‘Dim Moon Squad’. Are those unruly b*stards trying to start a world war?”
“It’s them?” The young agent was greatly alarmed.
“Keep quiet!” the older agent snapped coldly.
The two of them stopped talking and lurked in the darkness without moving at all, like two snakes that had been frozen in winter.
Hiding in the darkness that was even deeper, Li Yao tapped his crystal processor and sent a message to Long Yangjun.
“How is it doing on your side?”
“It is doing pretty good,” Long Yangjun replied. “We are now participating in a dinner that is specially prepared for the magnates. I have to admit that the… extravagant entertainment in the modern Cultivation civilization is truly intriguing and eye-opening. A lot of the fellow Cultivators here are finding it difficult to contain themselves. Hahahaha!”
Li Yao lowered his head and looked at his body, which was crouched in the debris like a silkworm. “I have a little bit of a situation here.”
“Oh? What is it?”
“The same old problem has occurred to me again,” Li Yao replied. “I showed up at the wrong place with the wrong people at the wrong time!”
“… Do you need reinforcements?” Long Yangjun asked. “For some reason, the Chamber of Commerce’s defense here has suddenly been weakened. Many experts who were guarding the place in the beginning were mobilized in a hurry. Therefore, there will be no need for all the fellow Cultivators to take action together. Wait. Huh. Is the mobilization of those experts related to you?”
“It is not entirely related to me,” Li Yao said. “However, I did find an opportunity that, if it works out, will allow us to enter the Star Glory Federation with a more appropriate opportunity. It will be beneficial for both the fellow Cultivators from the Ancient Sages Sector and the national interests of the federation. That will be a real win-win.”
“What do you need us to do?” Long Yangjun asked.
“I don’t need any reinforcements for now,” Li Yao replied, “but you’d better abort your previous plan and wait for my updates. If I can handle it properly, we will be saved of the trouble of robbing, faking our identities, and sneaking into the federation in fear. Chances are that we will be able to walk on the red carpet openly! Also, help me search for the term ‘Dim Moon Squad’. I need everything relevant to the term.
“But do not look for the information on the Spiritual Nexus!
“The Dim Moon Squad cannot be a top secret, or I wouldn’t have heard it spoken by somebody so casually in the first place. However, if you do search for ‘Dim Moon Squad’ on the Spiritual Nexus, even though you may find something useful eventually, it is very possible that you will be noticed by certain alert programs!
“Unless you are a real expert of the Spiritual Nexus, it is best that we should avoid the risk. Speaking of which, do we have an expert of the Spiritual Nexus on our side?”
“… What do you think?”
“There seems to be none,” Li Yao said. “Alright, this is what you are going to do. Now that such an intimidating team made of more than ten Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators and Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators has gathered and is preparing to do something clandestine and illegal, I believe that you must’ve locked onto a batch of local gangsters of the Chamber of Commerce, the periphery members of the CIFA, or even the secret agents of the Secret Sword Bureau, right?”
“Of course, but most of them are merely lackeys and secondary members. The real core figures would never show up so easily, would they?”
“It doesn’t matter. You can find some lackeys and secondary members who are relatively old and try to hypnotize them. Then, you can ask them the information about the ‘Dim Moon Squad’. Since it is not a top secret, you will certainly find something useful after interrogating a few people.
“The most critical thing about the issue is confidentiality. Is there a certain art of hypotonization that can make the hypnotized unaware that they have been hypnotized at all?”
“There is,” Long Yangjun said. “But it depends on the Cultivation of the hypnotized. If they are low-level Cultivators in the Building Foundation Stage or the Refinement Stage, it shouldn’t be a problem. However, if they are above the Core Formation Stage with a powerful soul, it will be extremely difficult to hypnotize them without being discovered or leaving any trace inside their brain. Even the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators and the Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators might not be able to do that.”
“That will do. There’s no requirement on the accuracy of the intelligence. As long as I can have a general understanding about the ‘Dim Moon Squad’, it will be fine,” Li Yao said. “The key is speed. It will be best if you can tell me all the relevant files in fifteen minutes, because by my estimation, I will meet… the Dim Moon Squad in fifteen minutes!”
Li Yao cut off the communication.
Exactly at that second, the local gangsters that were still lingering in the slum all happened to move their eyes away from Li Yao’s shelter.
Like a black lizard that was slithering in the darkness, Li Yao leapt up from where he was hiding and went toward the direction in which Tang Xiaoxing had been taken.
Now high and now low, now left and now right. He avoided all the eyes and the crystal cameras effortlessly.
Shua! Shua! Shua! Shua!
The map of Fish Dragon City popped up in his head as he analyzed the most likely route of escape.
More than twenty rushing Exos were certainly not as inconspicuous as Li Yao’s cockroach. Li Yao did not need to trace them personally. The local gangsters of Fish Dragon City would find the mysterious ‘Dim Moon Squad’ in his place.
Li Yao’s judgement was correct.
In fact, the Dim Moon Squad never completely got rid of the double block of the secret police and the local gangsters.
All Li Yao needed to do was follow the local gangsters who were marching blatantly. After only ten minutes, he felt that he smelled the aggressive and yet unpredictable smell of the Dim Moon Squad again.
Long Yangjun’s voice echoed inside his ears at the perfect time. “We’ve got the files on the Dim Moon Squad.”
Raising his eyebrows, Li Yao looked at the downtown area up ahead. “What do they say?”
“Decades ago, the Dim Moon Squad was a professional combat squad under the ‘Secret Sword Bureau’, the intelligence and investigation agency of the federation. You can also regard it as a new division in the agency, if you will.
“First of all, the thing about the ‘Secret Sword Bureau’ is that it has been focused on defense instead of attack since the day it was founded. I believe that you know about it very well, right, Fellow Cultivator Spiritual Vulture? So, I won’t waste our time.”
“Yes. Keep going.”
Of course, Li Yao understood what Long Yangjun meant.
When the Secret Sword Bureau was established, the Star Glory Federation had only had one enemy, which was the Blood Demon Sector.
At that time, the Blood Demon Sector had been more powerful than the Heaven’s Origin Sector, and it had taken the initiative in attacks. It had also sent countless spies into the federation.
The Secret Sword Bureau, which had been founded under such circumstances, was a defensive agency that focused on homeland security in the first place. The main job of Guo Chunfeng as the leader of the Demon Execution Division of the Secret Sword Bureau was to arrest and suppress the demon spies who had snuck into the federation.
Although a batch of agents of the Secret Sword Bureau had also snuck into the Blood Demon Sector, their mission was to steal the intelligence concerning the Heaven’s Origin Sector but not to prepare for the attacks toward the Blood Demon Sector.
In fact, until Lu Zui and Zhou Hengdao threw out their insane Patriots Plan, the Star Glory Federation had neither the intention to march into the Blood Demon Sector nor the capability of sending agents into the Blood Demon Sector.
The Secret Sword Bureau was born a defensive agency. The genes had been carved deep into the bones.
Long Yangjun went on. “In the system of the Old Federation, the Secret Sword Bureau was a defensive intelligence agency that focused on homeland security. However, in the time of the New Federation, having altogether three Sectors, the Star Glory Federation is much more powerful than before and has embarked on the path of expansion—well, ‘assimilation of multiple Sectors’, in case you find the word ‘expansion’ uncomfortable.
“After the four new worlds were discovered one after another, the main focus of the Secret Sword Bureau has shifted from homeland security to… accelerating the assimilation. It has changed from defense to attack. Therefore, a lot of ‘dirty work’, if we put it as the professionals would, has presented itself.
“Fellow Cultivator Spiritual Vulture, I am trying to put it as subtly as possible. It is not going to shake your belief, right?”
“Of course not!” Li Yao frowned. “I am not idiotic enough to believe that the secret intelligence agency is a harmless child. You think that my nickname ‘Vulture’ was given for nothing? Get to the point!”
“Alright. The point is that the Dim Moon Squad is a special troop that is dedicated to ‘dirty work’, particularly the ‘dirty work’ in the four new words, in the Secret Sword Bureau. Of course, their name on the surface is not the ‘Dim Moon Squad’ but the fourth division of the Secret Sword Bureau.”
“The fourth division? What’s its name?” Li Yao asked.
“Division of Logistics and Cleaning, which is responsible for cleaning the dirt and foul things in the Star Glory Federation’s way,” Long Yangjun said.
“… What else?”
“The ‘Cleaning Division’ made great contributions in the decades when the four new Sectors integrated into the federation. One might even say that they accelerated the process by more than thirty years. However, as sort of a special agent myself, I know the difficulties and dilemmas of the ‘dirty work’ very clearly. It is often a gray area between black and white. We are sometimes contaminated by blood that cannot be washed away. Then, we will decay and stink…”
“So, doubts and disagreements on certain practices of the Dim Moon Squad gradually appeared within the Secret Sword Bureau. Other divisions grew more and more dissatisfied about the ‘Cleaning Division’. After the four new worlds joined the federation, the previously ‘external contradiction’ became ‘internal contradiction’. Now that everybody was a federal citizen, the Dim Moon Squad’s style was naturally outdated.
“When all the cunning hares are dead, the hound will be useless. After the assimilation of the seven Sectors, less and less ‘dirty work’ needed to be done. Even if there was ‘dirty work’, other departments could take care of it in a gentler way. The ‘Cleaning Division’, or the Dim Moon Squad, had accomplished their destiny perfectly. They were faced with the problem of being reshuffled or even eliminated.”