Li Yalin's eyes lit up. She was very certain that Black Phantom was Han Xiao. Curious about what happened to him after he left Division 13, she looked past her annoyance with Di Su Su and asked her eagerly, "What was he doing when you met him?"
"At that time, his code name was still Mr. Black, a Scorpion-level assassin, who was involved in a defense mission in Seagull City with the leader of the Dark Net."
Li Yalin pumped her intently for more information. "Have you heard anything else?
Di Su Su raised her eyebrows. "Why are you so concerned?"
"I'm curious about him," Li Yalin explained. She felt that there must have been a deeper reason for Han Xiao becoming Black Phantom. He would not have exposed his identity easily.
Curious? Oh no, that would usually be the first step to the beginning of a love story. We must kill that possibility in its cradle. Di Su Su's eyes froze but her smile remained. She said slowly, "Oh, I got some information about Black Phantom from a female assassin with codename Golden Fox"
Five minutes later, the listening crowd was staring with glazed eyes, trying their best to process the huge amount of information.
Lin Yao trembled with fear. At some point in time, Lambert stopped wiping his blade.
Lin Yalin mumbled under her breath, "No wonder he had no physical urge when he was touching me"
Hou Yue swallowed dryly and told himself that he would hide away if Han Xiao ever returned to the team.
"When you meet him next time, be careful." Di Su Su chuckled, got up, and sashayed away, leaving the group staring at one another.
Zhang Wei coughed. "He is our teammate after all. Don't discriminate against him."
Everyone nodded hesitantly in agreement.
Zhang Wei coughed again as he continued to write the report. However, the news was unsettling. He could not ease his mind to focus fully on his report but pushed on nonetheless. As soon as he was done, he got up to look for his Commanding Officer. After submitting his report, he requested to speak to the Secretary.
After a few minutes of waiting, his request was approved, and the video communication was put through. The bald head image of the Director of the Secret Service appeared on the screen. Zhang Wei went straight to the point and said, "We saw Han Xiao."
The Director of the Secret Service was surprised.
Since the last tip off, Han Xiao seemed to have vanished from the face of earth. He could not be contacted no matter how they tried. Although Division 13 had stopped their search for Han Xiao, they were still very curious about his whereabouts.
The Director of the Secret Service said in a serious tone, "Go on".
Zhang Wei phrased himself carefully and explained how they had discovered that Black Phantom was Han Xiao.
The Director of the Secret Service had initially thought that Zhang Wei had seen Han Xiao with his own eyes. Little did he know that it was only a speculation without hard evidence. He stared blankly for a moment before he muffled a chuckle and replied, "You must have confused the two people."
How could Black Phantom be Han Xiao? One was a super assassin in the Dark Net Organization with an extraordinary level of combat capability. Although Han Xiao had demonstrated his capability previously, he was far weaker than Black Phantom. This guess was just too far off the mark!
The Director of the Secret Service was really amused. He almost blurted out that Han Xiao was Zero, but he stopped himself. The bureau had tight confidentiality rules that prevented him from disclosing Zero's identity to others.
Even though Han Xiao's whereabouts were highly erratic and unpredictable and the Germinal Organization was greatly undermined, hence there was probably not much of a need to conceal Han Xiao's identity, rules were rules.
After all, Han Xiao had been known as a field agent all this while. Concealing his identity could reduce the risk and lessen the trouble. Even though the Germinal Organization knew that Zero was liaising with Stardragon, they had not been able to find Zero all this while. Thus, the Director thought there was no need to let Zhang Wei in on this information.
Zhang Wei had never seen Han Xiao's real appearance, so he could not have found out that Han Xiao's true identity was Zero.
"Um, regarding Han Xiao's real identity He cannot be Black Phantom."
Zhang Wei stared blankly. He thought, perhaps, that this was a hidden message from the Secretary, for him to stop being nosy about this issue. So Han Xiao was most likely sent out by the higher-ups on a special mission, which would explain why he needed to conceal his identity.
"I understand," Zhang Wei replied with a knowing nod.
The Secretary was puzzled.
What do you understand? Strange
Stardragon's Division 13 sorted out all the reports and intelligence information and handed the final document to the Seven-Seat Committee. The Committee held a meeting to sort out all the important issues that needed to be discussed, and finally, there was only the issue regarding Black Phantom left on the table. All six knew Black Phantom's reputation on the Dark Net. The discussion was more focused on how they should treat Black Phantom.
"He offered a helping hand, but it could have been at the Dark Net's request or because of his own personal decision."
An elder knocked on the table top and said slowly, "The Dark Net came to us previously. They are going to start the shelter program, so they are requesting our aid. So, this should be a friendly gesture from them."
The members nodded in agreement. The Dark Net had always remained a neutral party. If this was a sign that they are leaning toward the Six Nations, it would definitely be a good turn of events. The Seven-Member Committee quickly concluded that it would support the Dark Net's shelter program and approved their request for material aid. This was their opportunity to return the favor and win them over.
After the meeting was over, Gu Hui and Elder Gao pushed open the heavy door of the conference room and walked down the quiet empty corridor side by side, discussing a separate issue in a hushed voice.
"Have you gotten any other news about Han Xiao?"
"He has not been seen ever since he gave us some intelligence two months back."
Gu Hui shook his head. Han Xiao was the person who provided the information. Division 13 was eager to get in contact with him again, but he was not picking up the calls nor answering any messages. As if he had vanished off the face of the earth, he was completely off the grid. No one was aware of his whereabouts or his plans.
Gu Hui's heart sank as he recalled Han's scrupulous nature.
Please don't be wreaking havoc again
As for Zhang Wei's speculation, Gu Hui had only heard from the Director of the Secret Service who briefly mentioned it. Without any real evidence, he would not be too bothered. How could Black Phantom be Han Xiao? His looks and combat capability were just not comparable.
Zhang Wei did not know Han Xiao's real identity, so he was blindly guessing, but Gu Hui was aware that Han Xiao was Zero. Their intel was asymmetric; that was probably why it caused a misunderstanding.
Information was updated on the Dark Net, and some of the information regarding the Battle of Tedramira River was circulated out. Most people were worried about the volatility of the situation, as if the dark clouds of war were looming on the horizon once again.
The information contained news of Black Phantom's involvement in the fight. Many forces were very concerned regarding the actions of this super assassin. It was apparent that Black Phantom was an extraordinarily powerful Mechanic. There were quite a number of powerful Espers and Pugilist, but Mechanics with high combat capability were rare. Black Phantom should be added to that short list of powerful Mechanics.
"He still made a high profile move."
Bennett sighed with profound resignation and sipped his herbal potion that was meant to suppress his wounds.
Out of the blue, Wang Yuan received a call. His face lit up with joy and exclaimed, "Stardragon has promised material aid!"
Bennett was surprised. That was not a small sum, but Stardragon had agreed to it so readily. He asked, "What did they say?"
"Well, they said they are very grateful for our help."
Bennett frowned in puzzlement. "Help? What did we do?"
On second thought, Bennett realized that Stardragon must have thought that they had sent Black Phantom. Black Phantom was seen as a representative of the Blood Pact Society, and his actions were inevitably labelled as representing the Dark Net Organization.
Bennett was at a loss, not knowing whether to cry or to laugh. Black Phantom had unintentionally done him a favor. He would definitely not clarify this wonderful misunderstanding. "Well, I guess I owe him a favor then. Oh, what did Hesla say?"
Wang Yuan pushed his black-frame spectacles. With a flash of contempt in his eyes, he snorted, "They are still pushing away the responsibility."
Bennett shook his head. He had long known Hesla's way of doing things, and only Stardragon was easier to talk to. If he really wanted to dig out some material aid from the five other stingy nations, it would not be without some long, tedious negotiation.
"With Stardragon's assistance, the initial resources are more or less enough. Let's start the shelter program as soon as possible. The war will break out any time now. The sooner it is implemented, the more people we can shelter."
Sleepy Winter and his group finally completed the Camp-destroyer series mission [Battle of the Tedramira River]. Their evaluation was naturally low, but because it was a Super-Level mission, the EXP they had gotten was considerable.
They should have been very happy with the results, but whenever the three of them recalled Frenzied Sword's performance, they immediately felt that the reward from the mission was just too meagre. Comparison always made it worse. The feeling of being far behind someone just felt horrible, not to mention that they had in fact started out at the same time. Rainy Kim was rather calm, but Sleepy Winter and Twinkle Fried Rice were really fed up.
Thinking about it again and again, Sleepy Winter finally sent a chat request to Frenzied Sword.
"Sleepy Winter, why are you looking for me?" Frenzied Sword asked in a humble voice.
"I just wanted to ask, did you trigger a secret quest? We saw you on the battlefield" Sleepy Winter sent out the video message.
"Oh, you guys were there, too?" Frenzied Sword was surprised.
Why does this tone feel so annoying? Sleepy Winter coughed dryly and chatted half-heartedly before asking about Black Phantom. The video showed Black Phantom in action. Sleepy Winter was well aware that Black Phantom was an advanced figure who had been seen around Big Horn Village, and he was very curious about how Frenzied Sword came to know him.
Frenzied Sword kept beating around the bush and refused to talk about the main topic. Sleepy Winter knew that he was unwilling to share information about the secret quest, and he could only bid farewell and hang up the communication sullenly.
"Did he say anything?" asked Twinkle Fried Rice.
"No." Sleepy Winter shook his head. He was in fact a little envious of Frenzied Sword, but he knew secret quest was something that came with luck. Then, an idea came to his mind.
"Why don't we try speaking to Black Phantom?"
The sky was turning bright near the horizon. It was dawn.
At Han Xiao's request, the helicopter landed on a hilltop in the wilderness. Han Xiao asked the pilot to stand by, and stepping off the plane, he took a deep breath. The fresh air invigorated him.
After flying through the night away from the Tedramira River, he was getting ready for his Advancement when Frenzied Sword dropped offline.
A player going offline is akin to disappearing. That gave the pilot a shock. Seeing that Han Xiao's expression had remained unchanged, he suppressed his shock.
Different players had different peculiarities. Although the world had all kinds of Espers that made everyone well accustomed to abnormalities, over time, more and more people would realize the peculiar nature of the players' community, and there would definitely be some interesting developments. Han Xiao could not wait to see this happening. Then he could validate some of his guesses.
Putting aside these thoughts, Han Xiao focused his attention on the interfacethe requirements for advancement had been met, so a level-up would mean an Advancement.
He looked at the EXP that he had accumulated over the past two months. Minus the EXP that he had used up for skills improvement and integration of blueprints, he still had a full 6.1 million EXP left!
Finally, a second Advancement! Han Xiao was secretly leaping in joy. His progress had been as fast as a rocket, especially since he had gotten a huge channel to reap EXP after the players appeared!
After this Advancement, he would officially become the top figure on Aquamarine, and this was only the beginning. This meant that he could set foot in areas that he had previously found to be too dangerous, to acquire those rare Abilities and Skills. Quests that could trigger dangerous situations, Abilities, Skills, and Equipmentall that would have a huge impact on his combat capability.
He was already halfway there to becoming someone like Bennett and Hila who could take on BOSS Level Quests with their template Abilities.
Han Xiao entered his EXP.
[Mechanic (Trainee)] Level-Up LV 5
+50 Energy, +1 Dexterity, +1 Endurance, +4 Intelligence!
Attained 3 points Unassigned stat points!
Attained 1 Talent Point!
You have completed your second Advancement.
Endurance and Health points ratio increased to 1:20!