Han Xiao bent down to dig out the bullet shell from the ground. It was an armor-piercing round.
The people in River Valley Manor were probably all friendlies, so this was just a warning shot. Otherwise, the sniper would have aimed for his vitals. As Han Xiao finished this thought, he took out an old brown coin, raised it, and waved it in the air. The sniper in the manor could definitely see it through their scope.
The coin had been passed to him by Antonio before he departed. He had said that it could be used to vouch for his identity.
After waiting for a minute or so, Han Xiao stepped forward again. Indeed, no one was firing at him this time around. He then successfully arrived at the gate of the manor and realized that the manor's outer defense had been greatly reinforced. The outer wall had many metal plates, which tightly shielded the inside of the manor. There were marks of previous explosions on those metal plates.
Han Xiao walked in after the gate opened. The layout of the manor was presented before his eyesit occupied a very large space and was divided into inner and outer layers. The outer layer consisted of all sorts of defense structures, and armed mercenaries were busy patrolling around the area. They talked and gossiped loudly and fervently, unlike regular soldiers who were mostly silent. They were clearly lacking in discipline.
The inner layer was just the center of the manora mansion with a garden and a fountain. Black railings surrounded the mansion, clearly demarcating the areas between the inner and outer layers. One could see, through the railings, that no one was in the mansion or garden; it was as if no one lived there.
"Newcomer? You are an assassin, right?"
A buff black man yelled over to Han Xiao from the side. It was the person who had opened the door for him.
Without waiting for Han Xiao to reply, the black man shouted into his walkie talkie, "Chen Li, there is a new assassin here. Quickly come and pick him up."
"Wait for me. I'll be there in a minute." A person was swearing on the other side of the walkie talkie.
The mercenary named Chen Li soon arrived before the gate. He gave the black man a finger before he looked at Han Xiao to size him up. "Come, follow me."
Han Xiao followed Chen Li to the south-east side of the manor. He got a brief explanation of the manor's defense structure from Chen Li during this walk. The manor had three sides facing land, and the west side faced the river. Assailants could potentially attack using speedboats, but they would become easy targets if they appeared on the river. So, the river front was the easiest side to defend.
The other two sides of defense were at the South-east and North-east sides. The whole defense structure was triangular. Chen Li oversaw all the mercenaries stationed in the south-east side.
"What kind of assassin are you?" Chen Li asked.
"That's good. We need a long-range attacker. Previously, an assassin who only knew how to sneak attack from close-range was sent here. He could not be more useless."
Han Xiao turned around and glanced at the mansion in the center before he asked three key questions in his mind. "Who exactly are we protecting? How long will we defend here? Who are our enemies?"
Perhaps every newcomer asked the same questions; Chen Li answered quickly and smoothly. "Our boss did not say how long more we have to defend. In any case, if we cannot defend anymore, I will be the first to evacuate. I don't care how much they pay me, I will not be cannon-fodder. I am not sure who the enemies are. Sometimes, we will get attacked in the day, other times, at night; we get attacked every few days. There will always be new enemies attacking us.
"And as for who we are protecting, heheheh"
Chen Li suddenly laughed coldly before he continued.
"I heard that the target hides in the mansion, but they have never appeared before. The assignment forbids us from entering the mansion. It could very well be that the mansion is just an empty shell, and we are protecting no one. Humph! Whatever the motives of the employer, as long as he pays me, I'm fine."
An empty mansion, protecting someone who had never appeared before, an ambiguous group call-up, enemies from unknown sources. All these factors, linked together, gave Han Xiao a strange feeling that could not be expressed in words. He felt a dense fog covering this whole situation.
"By the way, which level of assassin are you? Dark or Ghost?" Chen Li asked thoughtlessly.
"Mr. Black. Scorpion-level."
Chen Li jolted his head around and looked rather surprised. "Scorpion? Why would you be here? Only Dark-level assassins and above would receive the call-up. You are not qualified, right?"
"I'm already here. My level is not important anymore." Han Xiao had no interest in explaining himself to some mercenary. I can do whatever I want and need not explain myself to you. Basically, act like you own it.
"Although you are only scorpion-level, you are a sniper that we can make do with. As long as you can hit enemies with your sniper rifle, we are fine."
Chen Li then frowned as he pointed to an area in the distance and said, "Can you see three fortresses there? You will go to the middle one. The Hornet Brothers will make arrangements for you."
Han Xiao looked at the area. The three fortresses were at the intersection point of the south-east and north-east defense lines, and they were at the top point of the triangle defense structure. This position helped snipers maximize their field of vision and, therefore, sniping range. But the disadvantage was that the position was too conspicuous. When the enemy attacked, they would try to take down the sniper first. Fortunately, the walls of the fortresses were armed with numerous machine guns and rocket launchers; they were the most well-defended place.
Han Xiao did not object to the arrangement. Before he triggered any quest on his interface, he was quite indifferent to the whole thing.
Han Xiao walked to the middle fortress and climbed to the top floor. He then spotted two men who were carrying sniper rifles in their hands and snoozing by the wall. As they heard Han Xiao's footsteps, they quickly open their eyes and looked over. One could tell that they were assassins from their ice-cold disposition.
One of them was tall while the other was short, and their faces looked similar. They seemed to be the Hornet Brothers as mentioned by Chen Li.
"Newcomer?" The tall one spoke nonchalantly. "Code Name, level, ability."
Han Xiao's brow furrowed. "Mr. Black, Scorpion, Sniper."
"What is a Scorpion-level newbie doing here?" The tall guy frowned, and he became impatient. "Go to the left fortress and be the assistant sniperyou will be responsible for taking down all the small fries that escape our shots. Can you handle a simple task like this?"
"Sure." Han Xiao nodded.
The short guy only gave him a glance before he went back to snooze. It seemed that he was prideful and not interested in talking to him.
It was only a dozen minutes in the manor, and Han Xiao had moved to three different locations. He had no choice but to walk toward the left fortress. This was the area he was in charge of, which meant that his job was to assist the Hornet Brothers.
There was already a person in the left fortressan assassin with a large beard. He looked Han Xiao up and down, and after Han Xiao introduced himself, he cut to the chase. "Scorpion-level? You will take the left side while I take the right side."
The left side had the most limited field of vision, and therefore, it was the easiest job. The bearded assassin did not trust his ability, which was normal. Han Xiao did not give it a second thought. He was fine with taking care of his own area.
You triggered a chain quest, [Call-up (Protection)].
Quest Summary: "First, do not probe for the identity of the protection target; second, do not leave your post; third, do not let enemies infiltrate the manor; forth, try your best to become useful."
Hint: This is a chain questplease act according to instructions.
First Round: Beat off the first wave of enemies.
First Round Reward: 20,000 EXP
Other Causes for Quest Failure: 1. Unauthorized entry to the mansion; 2. Leaving the manor for more than two hours.
Chain quest? Interesting, Han Xiao thought to himself.
A chain quest was the type of quest where the player had to complete the previous quest requirement before they would receive the next requirement. The difficulty and reward would get higher and higher with each round. Upon completing all the rounds in the chain, the player would receive an extra reward. Chain quests were usually a lot more tedious than normal quests.
I will see the reward for the next round of the quest before I decide to continue or not. If it isn't great, I will just retreat from here, Han Xiao thought. He did not feel that he had to complete the quest no matter what; he would only continue if the rewards were substantially high.
After wandering around the manor for a few hours, he deciphered the manpower allocation in the place. The mercenaries were armed with heavy firearms and vehicles. There were also Superhumans around. Mechanics were in charge of repairing the equipment, providing ammunition, and rectify defense structures; assassins were the more elite force.
By casually chatting with the people there, Han Xiao learned that they had been stationed there for more than ten days. More capable personnel, such as the Hornet Bothers, Chen Li, Volcano, and Moonlight, had already made their reputation known in the place.
The sky slowly darkened. Leaves were gently swept by the night wind in the evening forest, making shushing sounds. Perennial water streams flowed in the river. The whole scene was rather peaceful.
An imminently-approaching engine sound broke the serenity in the forest.
Stationed at the fortress's sniper position, Han Xiao looked through his scope. There were many headlights in the distant forest quickly approaching the manor. The mercenaries started to shout, prompting each other to quickly go back to their posts to get ready for the upcoming battle. The concentrated footsteps sounded like peas being fried.
Han Xiao stretched out his arm, and a crisp cocking sound was heard on his rifle. He was preparing himself, too.
"Here comes the first wave."