The shrill of the fire alarm rang through the hallways as the fire spread. Thick, black smoke filled up the entire research department as the research staff headed for safety.
The sprinklers quickly put a stop to the spreading fire, but many documents were ruined, and sparks were flying out of some computers and machines. The walls and ceiling were filled with black burn marks.
"What could have caused the fire?" wondered the heartbroken research director aloud as he looked at the ruins.
Security soon arrived to begin inspection.
"The fire started from the workshop!"
Luo Xuan - his entire body soaking wet, and his entire face black - was supported out by the guards. All his hair had been burnt off, including his eyebrows, and he looked just like a soy egg - or rather, a century egg.
Being able to react quickly, in addition to having a fire extinguisher nearby, saved him from further disfigurement.
He had not expected the incendiary agent to be gaseous. It combusted the very second it came into contact with the atmosphere.
Luo Xuan had clearly overestimated himself.
"I've lost..." he grudgingly admitted.
"What have you done" yelled the research director.
One of the security guards opened his hand to reveal a few bullet cases. Although they were blackened, they were clearly crimson before.
"This is the bullet case of the High-explosive Gunpowder. Your man was trying to analyze it."
The research director was instantly livid. Speechless, he could only point a finger at Luo Xuan in his rage.
'Are my orders something to be taken lightly of
'When the higher-ups investigate, this will all fall onto me again!
Gu Hui also arrived at the scene. His face darkened upon seeing the wreckage.
The research director yanked Luo Xuan before him and said through gritted teeth, "He did this all by himself!"
Gu Hui looked at Luo Xuan plainly.
"Do you have anything to say for yourself?"
Luo Xuan lowered his head. He had thought that he would succeed and earn merit, but instead, he had now ended up disobeying orders on top of causing damages to the headquarters. This was probably the end of his career.
"You will go back to logistics," stated Gu Hui coldly before turning around to leave.
Luo Xuan shuddered. Before, he had left the logistics department on bad terms. A return did not bode well for him.
True enough, when he arrived at the logistics department, his past colleagues all ignored him when they saw him. Even the logistics director, who had had high hopes for him in the past, was unwilling to see him. He only sent a secretary to inform Luo Xuan of his new position in a small team.
If only he had not been so narrow-minded and full of himself, he would not have lost his path and ended up like this.
Although he deeply regretted his actions now, it was too late.
"I was immature..." lamented a bitter Luo Xuan.
Han Xiao was shocked to hear of what Luo Xuan had done from Feng Jun - not even he, the creator himself, would dare to mess around and open up a completed incendiary bullet.
'That guy's got some balls.'
However, the matter was inconsequential to him. All along, Luo Xuan had just been a name in the back of his mind.
Soon after, Zhang Wei's armored suit was delivered to his workroom. Upon observation, it was a truly crude prototype.
Combatant Armored Suit (Prototype)
Type: Modular Mini-Power Suit
Stats: 682/1400 Durability, 35 Defense
Power Level: 86
Energy Level: 250/250
Prerequisite(s): 42 STR, 48 END
Bonus Stats: -10 DEX
Control Method: Manual (Full)
Energy Source: Electricity
Combat Consumption Rate: 5 energy/min
Core Power: 125/130
Spring-piston Absorber (reduces load by 65%)
Right Arm Module: Large Caliber Tri-barreled Machine Gun
Firing Rate: 5 shots/second (per barrel)
Maximum Firing Rate: 8 shots/second for 5 seconds (per barrel)
Magazine Capacity: 30 (+120 in the ammo belt)
Power Level: 75
Left Arm Module: Large Caliber Tri-barreled Machine Gun
Right Wrist Module: Knife
Power Level: 9
Leg Modules: Spring Boosters
Consumes 1 energy/minute when active.
Attachment: Infrared Vision
Attachment: Six-tipped Shield (reduces incoming damage by 12%)
Tooltip: This abomination is a disgrace to all armored suits in the world!
Han Xiao had to agree. It was indeed an ugly piece of work - it looked like someone had just decided to weld a few sheets of metal together.
Low power aside, it did not even run on an integrated circuit! No wonder Zhang Wei always fired volleys instead of precise shots - there was no aiming system in place! An armored suit with an integrated circuit would be able to receive and transmit crucial information to its user during a fight.
Also, the only automated part of the suit was its legs! Other than the legs, the entire suit's framework had to be operated manually, which explained why Zhang Wei had not used the shield - he wasn't able to at all!
"Come on, even though it's a prototype, at least show it some love, you assholes!"
As Han Xiao examined the suit with crossed arms, numerous ideas began to pop up. However, it was still too soon to rush upgrades. Some of the tweaks he wanted to make required knowledge that he did not currently possess. Hence, after performing just some simple maintenance, Han Xiao got Feng Jun to help him return it to Zhang Wei.
Currently, Han Xiao's primary concern was regarding the three successfully destroyed Germinal bases, and what information he should disclose to Stardragon next.
The three captured bases were indeed the only ones located within Stardragon. If Stardragon wanted to continue its assault on the Germinal Organization, they would have to take the fight to a foreign nation. While relations among the Six Nations were truly not that amicable, no one really wanted to continue fighting since a lot of resources had already been depleted during the transition to the new era. Each nation was still counting their losses.
Hence, Stardragon would have to seek the cooperation of the other nations, and that would be complicated to accomplish. Han Xiao himself would also have to be directly involved as he was the key source of information.
The question was whether the higher-ups would let Han Xiao leave the Western Capital.
Suddenly, the phone rang. It was Feng Jun, who said gravely, "Han Xiao, Germinal operatives are on the move. They seem to know that you are with us and are trying to track you down."
Han Xiao had expected this. He had instructed Li Ya Lin to use the mecha arm while knowing that Hila would recognize it.
"Rest assured. There will be men keeping watch around you 24/7."
The Western Capital was Division 13's territory. Even if the Germinal Organization were to find out Han Xiao's exact location, they would probably not be able to touch him - not easily, at least.
Still, as there were several superhuman assassins amongst their ranks, Han Xiao knew that he could not afford to let his guard down.
'Looks like I should prepare some defensive measures.'
"Help me draw two Berserk Eagle handguns from the armory."
The Berserk Eagle was a close-range, large-caliber handgun. It had an effective range of 30m, where its power was comparable to that of a sniper rifle.
It would work wonders with Han Xiao's [Strafe].
However, Han Xiao would need more.
Over the past three days, Han Xiao had gained 100,000 experience points from crafting gunpowder. He decided to spend 40,000 to raise [Basic Refining] to Lv. 5, fulfilling the requirements for crafting the [Platinum Alloy].
"It's time for upgrades."
A few days ago, upon learning of the appearance of the mecha arm in the hands of a Stardragon agent, the boss came to the conclusion that it must have been Zero who leaked information on their three bases to Stardragon.
"Is he a psychic?"
The boss found it hard to explain how Zero could have accessed top secret information. In fact, he had not once suspected Zero. Instead, he had mistakenly assumed that there was a traitor amongst his ranks. As a result, he had even wrongly killed one commander.
His mind flashed back to a month ago, where Zero had declared his intention to destroy them.
The boss clenched his fist.
"I may have underestimated you, but you are still a nobody - I don't believe that you possess more intel.
"Pass down my order: recruit some wanderers to investigate Zero's trail in Stardragon. The Germinal Organization will reward those who find him!
"If found, send Rosa to finish him off."
Rosa, like Hila, was a Germinal commander. She was an assassin.
Each commander had their own specialty, but no one knew exactly how many commanders there were - not even most Germinal agents themselves.
The boss gazed into the distance.
'Did you think that gaining Stardragon's protection would keep you safe?