Before the two agents could react, a gunshot was fired! However, the gunshot was not intended for either of them! Instead, it was aimed at the corpse, or more precisely, the three grenades that were planted on it!
As they were at point blank range, the two agents were instantly engulfed by the blast and bombarded with shrapnel.
You have dealt 60 Damage to the enemy! x8
You have killed a Night Owl Agent! 1500 EXP gained! x2
Han Xiao rose up weakly from a patch of tall grass. He was heavily injured, bleeding, and almost out of stamina. Fatigue was setting in, and it was taking him all the willpower and focus that he could muster just to keep his eyes open.
He had managed to survive the previous blast with 50 HP left by using the agent's corpse as a meat shield, after which he had dressed the corpse in his clothes and planted the grenades. Only Silver Blade had been vigilant enough to escape his trap.
Han Xiao limbs were shaking uncontrollably, and he couldn't even see properly due to the blood blurring his vision.
Suddenly, a black figure darted towards him.
"You asked for it!" howled an enraged Silver Blade as he thrust a knife forward.
The searchlight from a Black Harrier helicopter was illuminating the forest. Hila jumped down from the aircraft into what seemed like the aftermath of a fierce battle.
The test subject squad had already arrived and were collecting blood samples. No. 1 was standing silently with clenched fists.
The sight of the six agents' bodies stunned Hila for a few moments.
As unbelievable as it seemed, Zero had eliminated Night Owl Squad 3 and escaped!
She crouched down to examine the bodies, and was able to deduce that one had died by gunshot, two by explosion, and three in melee combat.
Silver Blade's entire lower body had been pulverized, and there were shards of glass from his night vision goggles embedded in his eyes. He had clearly been done in by someone much more powerful than him!
How could Zero have become so strong all of a sudden? Even if he had been hiding his true capabilities the entire time, Zero had only been training for at most half a year! It was simply inconceivable that he could take on the Night Owl Squad that comprised of veteran elite agents.
"Could he have awoken superpowers like I did?"
Hila regretted not having kept a closer eye on Han Xiao. Perhaps, she thought, she could have prevented all of this.
Also, Zero had chosen to escape on the same day that she had happened to be away. Was it luck, or had he planned it all?
"Their equipment is missing, but we managed to find this," reported one of the agents as he showed the mecha arm to Hila.
The mecha arm was drenched in blood, and there was a knife sticking out of its engine.
"Bring it back."
One day later, a large number of Germinal personnel arrived at the Valkyrie base to salvage any remaining surveillance footage and gather clues. The boss himself also came.
The boss of the Germinal Organization wore a black coat, black mask, black gloves... well, he was essentially covered in black from head to toe, and looked like he had come right out of 'Detective Conan'. Only five people in the entire organization had ever seen his face.
"Where is Zero?" he asked plainly.
"We failed to track him," answered No. 1 through clenched teeth. "If I have more time..."
The boss abruptly raised a hand in dismissal. No. 1 immediately stopped blabbering.
The boss was in an extremely bad mood. Just a few days ago, he had dismissed Zero as a piece of trash, and this 'piece of trash' had managed to escape while taking out so many of his men.
"Thirty armed guards killed, all the research destroyed, and one elite squad wiped. On top of that, he killed Lin Wei Xian and escaped? Are you kidding me" he yelled at his men.
"I want to know when he turned and how he got so strong."
A researcher hastily replied, "We have come up with a theory after going through his records."
"Zero's behavior and actions before and after the experiment are strikingly different. According to the original reports from his capture, Zero's original identity was Xiao Han, the third son of the Alumera family's second-in-charge."
This was shocking news even to the boss himself. The Alumera family were a powerful warring clan allied with the country of Theus.
Test subjects captured for experimentation were usually criminals or stragglers. How did someone with such background end up in their hands?
"The son of the Alumera's second-in-charge? How?"
"According to our investigations, Xiao Han was the most ungifted among his siblings. Not only was he unable to awaken any energy, he was extremely incapable at leadership and weak-minded," answered the researcher as he flipped through his report. "Our agents stumbled across him in the wreckage of a battle. He had been following his elder brother, Xiao Hai, on a transport mission when they were ambushed by an enemy."
"At the time, Xiao Hai was in command of the team, and the assailants' true aim was not the goods that they were transporting, but he himself. He was the most promising of his siblings, and was more or less guaranteed to succeed his father's position. According to our intel, the ambush was an inside job. Someone within the family wanted to get rid of him."
"During the ambush, Xiao Hai forced Xiao Han to swap clothes with him and he used him as bait. In the end, while Xiao Han was hit by a cannon, Xiao Hai managed to escape to safety."
"Since when was our network that well-informed?" frowned the boss.
"Erm... Xiao Hai did not bother to hide the truth, including the fact that he used Xiao Han as bait."
"The circumstances of Xiao Han's death did not hurt Xiao Hai's standing in the family. At the time, the second-in-charge even said that Xiao Hai had done well. As you know, the Alumera family values power above all. A burden like Xiao Han meant nothing to them. Even his siblings did not mourn his death."
Han Xiao's past existence was like a roadside flower that everyone trampled over without notice.
The boss laughed coldly.
"The weak do indeed deserve no sympathy. Enough of his past. Tell me what happened during the 6 months."
"We think that the Valkyrie experiment triggered a change within his bodya change greater than we could have imagined. It did not just unlock his talent for machinery; what it did was enhance his intelligence. We think that he has been planning his escape from the very start!"
"Are you saying that the brainwash did not work on him?" interrupted Hila.
"Yes, I'm afraid so."
The researcher continued, "How is it possible for a subject with no memories to develop his own will? The only explanation seems to be that Valkyrie helped him to regain his memories. However, since he was never a gifted person to begin with, Valykrie must have also awakened some kind of hidden strength within him."
"Are you sure?" asked the leader coldly.
"Not absolutely..." admitted the researcher. It was simply conjecture after all. Who the hell could be sure.
No. 1 couldn't help but butt in. "Was he just luck"
The boss instantly silenced him with a stare.
"Oh right. The guards also brought back this mecha arm that he used," added the researcher. "Although the craftsmanship of the arm itself is not very refined, I must say that it is quite a revolutionary concept. It seems like this mecha arm played a huge part in his escape. The weapons development department would like to replicate this model for development."
Finally, thought the boss, something good to hear.
"Funds are not an issue. I just want results."
The researcher nodded, continuing. "No matter what, Zero's cunning and talents make him a dangerous person. He has high research value. Whether dead or alive, obtaining his body will undoubtedly help us in perfecting Valkyrie."
While the researchers were all terrified of Han Xiao as he could have killed them anytime he wanted, they were, after all, men of science.
No. 1 frowned.
From the moment that he was created, he knew that he had a predecessor. This fact alone caused him to identify Han Xiao as an enemy. However, just when he thought that he had surpassed Han Xiao, reality hit him like a truck.
"Before determining the exact factor behind the drug's effects, cease all experimentation. Round up all the test subjects once more for another round of brainwashing. I don't want another Zero to appear," ordered the boss.
No. 1's eyes widened in disbelief. He felt that his loyalty to the organization was being doubted.
"I wish to lead a team to pursue Zero!" he burst out.
The boss looked at No. 1 as he contemplated. He did indeed have high expectations for the test subject squad.
"Can you do it?"
"I will definitely succeed!" declared No. 1.
"Fine. Bring Zero backdead or alive!"