When the bag over Han Xiao's head was finally removed, he found himself in a bright room. It took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust to the light.
He was seated on a cold metal chair in front of a table. It was a typical interrogation room with a one-way mirror to Han Xiao's side.
Two people sat across the table: Li Hui and Feng Jun.
"Allow me to introduce myself, I am an intelligence officer from the Strategic Defense Division of Stardragon," spoke Feng Jun. "This is not the first time we have met. Do you remember me?"
"I remember," replied Han Xiao nonchalantly. "The man with the very big wallet."
Feng Jun was speechless. Can you not bring that up?
"Division 13, Li Hui," introduced Li Hui. Both his expression and his manner of speech were stone cold.
Stardragon's Strategic Defense Division consisted of 13 sections in total and was referred to as Division 13.
"Should we call you Han Xiao, or Zero?" Feng Jun asked.
"Whatever you like."
"Cut the crap," interrupted Li Hui. "Explain why the Germinal Organization has a million dollar bounty on you and tell us everything you know."
"Why should I tell you?" asked a bemused Han Xiao.
Li Hui laughed coldly in response.
"What do you think this place is? If we want you to talk, you have to talk!"
"So what if I don't?" taunted Han Xiao. "Shoot me?"
"Do you think I wouldn't dare?" barked Li Hui.
"Enough, enough! Calm down. Han Xiao, you should know we are with the government. If you cooperate, we won't treat you badly."
Han Xiao smiled and shifted in his seat to adopt a more comfortable posture before replying. "Good cop, bad cop. How outdated is this tactic? Can you at least try something different? I, for one, have a thing for pretty girls. Having to talk to two stern old man is such a turn off. Service with a smile, understand? Come on, smile."
Han Xiao hit the nail on the spot, taking Feng Jun aback. Feng Jun coughed dryly and communicated with Li Hui through a glance, who understood the message. He abruptly stood up in an act of anger and pointed at Han Xiao as he shouted, "This is not a place for you to try and act funny! I have the power to imprison you for as long as I want!"
"How scary," mocked Han Xiao before suddenly wiping the smile off his face and adding, "I'm from the Germinal Organization. Threats? Do you think such things will work on me? Come on, you're making fools out of yourselves. If you want us to cooperate, sure! Show me your sincerity! Get someone qualified enough to speak to me. You two aren't!" As Han Xiao finished his sentence, he tugged onto his restraints, slamming the chair so loudly that it echoed out in the tiny room.
Feng Jun and Li Hui looked at each other. Their task was only to get a grasp on Han Xiao's position, and Han Xiao knew this well, which was why he was acting fearless on purpose to declare that he still had something up his sleeve.
Suddenly, a deep voice was transmitted through the speaker in the interrogation room. "As you wish, I will talk with you."
"Who are you?" asked Han Xiao as he turned to the obvious one-way mirror.
"Division 13, intelligence director. Do I qualify to speak to you?"
"I guess you will do," Han Xiao nonchalantly replied.
Both Li Hui and Feng Jun's eyes twitched. What a shameless person!
The intelligence director let it slide and started to ask, "You just said that you are from the Germinal Organization"
"I was." Han Xiao corrected him mid-speech.
"So, you have deserted?"
"What was your position?"
"A logistics research personnel."
"What did you research?"
"Machinery and weapons."
"You are lying," cut the intelligence director. "How can that explain your million dollar bounty?"
Han Xiao smiled he had expected this very question.
"Rather than call me a liar, haven't you guys already assumed that I possess some kind of valuable intel? Isn't that why you've been investigating me from a distance?" he replied. "Intel can indeed be used as a weapon but only in the right hands. I left my trail exposed to prove my willingness to cooperate. I am not your enemy. The Germinal Organization is. And they are my enemy too."
"Why should we even bother to cooperate with you?" asked the intelligence director in reply. "Look around you you are in our territory. We have all sorts of tools to make you talk!"
Han Xiao paused to smile calmly for a moment before suddenly saying, "Message log: Galaxy Calendar Year 687, 14th of June. Signal location: Planet Aquamarine. Destination: Planet Blackstar's 8th base. The contents of this message are top secret."
The intelligence director remained silent for a full ten minutes.
Li Hui and Feng Jun gave a start when they realized that although what Han Xiao had spoken of made no sense to them, it was clearly valuable intel to the director who in turn had to go relay the information to the top brass for further instruction.
After the long wait, the intelligence director spoke through the speaker again. This time though, he sounded extremely serious.
"Are you sure?" he asked directly.
"How would I know of Blackstar otherwise?"
The intelligence director was wearing a grave expression. If the intel that Han Xiao had given him was actually true, it was extremely crucial to not only Stardragon, but the entire planet.
Han Xiao smirked. He had obviously come well-prepared.
In the exploration era, there existed three galactic powers who had been warring for tens of thousands of year. Although it took a long time, the three powers eventually came to an agreement and ceased their fighting. They agreed to work together for peace, order, and advancement.
The universe was extremely vast; it was filled with countless stars and far more life-forms that thrived in every corner. Large amounts of data and information were constantly being broadcast throughout the universe via technology, and the amalgamation of the thoughts and wills of all life in the universe gave rise to a phenomenon known as 'the whispers of the universe'.
Although the universe did appear calm and static on the surface, it was, in fact, bustling with activity.
All kinds of civilizations underwent the same phase from admiring space to wondering if they were the only ones. In their hubris, they would conquer their respective galaxies before entering the vast universe, thinking that they were the destined ones only to find that they were not alone, and definitely not special at all.
The explored universe could be seen as divided into numerous sectors. For example: the Shattered Belt, the Ancient Starfield, the Silver Spiral, and the Sea of Purity. A sector comprised of dozens of star clusters, each containing numerous galaxies that in turn housed planetary systems or star systems that were number-coded, homes to the innumerable planets. Together, they formed the thrilling universal landscape of the game 'Galaxy'.
Shattered Belt Colton Group The Garden 9th System Planet Aquamarine. This was basically Aquamarine's place in the vast universe. Its precise coordinates would take a combination of words and numbers derived using complex math to describe.
The interstellar power that had come into contact with Aquamarine was an advanced civilization of The Garden, the Kedolas. The 'Blackstar' that Han Xiao referred to was originally a part of the Kedolas, but they broke away in an attempt to seize power and were now bitter enemies.
The world of 'Galaxy' was massive, and many powers and civilizations were constantly at odds with one other. A civilization's degree of advancement largely depended on its space travel capabilities. As the Kedolas could freely travel between systems without relying on wormholes or stargates created by even advanced civilizations, they were considered a galactic civilization a few levels higher than Planet Aquamarine.
If the Germinal Organization had actually come into contact with Blackstar and gained their support, things would be extremely grim for the Six Nations. An evil power like them paid no heed to the exploration rules laid down by the Three Powers: The Universal Treaty (currently in its 7th revised edition).
The fact that Aquamarine had been contacted by an interstellar power was top secret information withheld by the Six Nations. Hence, the intelligence director believed Han Xiao to be speaking the truth, and this was what made him extremely nervous.
However, the truth was that the Germinal Organization had made no such contact with Blackstar. Han Xiao simply made it up because it was impossible to verify anyway. It was a sly tactic to get them to not only value him, but also take action against the Germinal Organization. Furthermore, it would help him complete his main quest, so why not?
All the beginner planets were situated quite far away from each other. However, there were specialized galactic tourism services that one could get in touch with as long as he had a device capable of interstellar transmission. They would automatically locate the transmission and come to the buyer. As long as one had enough money, even having a full tour across the entire universe was not impossible. After all, if players on different planets weren't able to come together, how would competitions and tournaments be held in Galaxy? Most game events were held on neutral or uninhabited planets.
"Get me a map of Stardragon and a pen," asked Han Xiao suddenly.
Feng Jun went to fetch the items and put them on the table. Han Xiao picked up the pen and circled three locations on the map, saying briefly, "These are three of the Germinal Organization's secret bases in Stardragon. Treat it as my proof of sincerity."
"You only know 3?"
Han Xiao rolled his eyes inwardly.
"Of course not. But you can go check these ones out first. We can talk more after."
"What are your conditions?" asked the intelligence director at long last. Feng Jun and Li Hui closely watched Han Xiao in anticipation.
"I just want us to work together against Germinal," replied Han Xiao with a mysterious smile.
That's all? thought the director to himself.
"I will relay our conversation to the higher-ups. Sorry, but you'll have to continue staying here for the time being."
The mic was turned off.
Han Xiao frowned as he shook around his handcuffs.
"Don't take too long. I only have a day off."