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    Chapter 82: Meeting (3000+)

    They followed the direction Chen Chen pointed, walking for a long while without seeing anything except scattered footprints.

    After a while, Captain Lin suddenly said, "General, look."

    Huo Lanjing looked in the direction he indicated and saw a small house to the right front.

    The two of them led the way, proceeding along the path through the dense forest until they reached the entrance, where they noticed a trail of bloodstained footprints stretching out from inside.

    Huo Lanjing's heart leapt suddenly, his gaze fixed on the entrance not far away, but he didn't dare to push the door open.

    Captain Lin stepped forward and pushed the door ajar.

    Inside was pitch black, but as Huo Lanjing caught sight of the dismembered bodies lying haphazardly by the doorway, his anxiety escalated.

    Captain Lin glanced back before stepping inside again.

    He pulled out a Daybreak Sphere, and soon, the room was illuminated by its glow.

    Lieutenant Lin was startled by the scene before him: "This...?"

    The area was littered with corpses, blood pooling like a burst pipe had sprayed everywhere. At the center hung a grisly figure suspended in the air.

    Looking back, Lieutenant Lin speculated, "Could it be that room...?"

    Huo Lanjing strode past him towards the innermost part.

    Silent, Lieutenant Lin followed closely behind.

    Huo Lanjing had come over due to a handkerchief on the ground – one he had previously given to Chen Chen – now placed over someone's face.

    Pausing, he crouched down, his outstretched hand trembling slightly.

    Lieutenant Lin watched him pick up the handkerchief and clench it tightly.

    "General, what is this?"

    Huo Lanjing, unusually forthcoming, explained, "I gave it to Chen Chen."

    He had already scanned the area and found no sign of Luo Le, but the handkerchief's presence indicated they had been here before.

    The fact that Luo Le was left behind in such a place suggested his life or death was of no concern to them.

    Captain Lin glanced around and said, "Madam, he..."

    Huo Lanjing was certain. "He isn't here. Keep searching."

    As soon as he finished speaking, Huo Lanjing's figure disappeared through the door.

    Captain Lin took in the chaos behind him, retrieved the Solaris Ball, and followed suit.

    At the entrance, Captain Lin heard Huo Lanjing say, "Your team stays behind. Account for everyone inside."

    In unison, the team members replied, "Yes, sir."

    Just as Captain Lin was about to move on, a flash of red light caught his eye.

    Looking up, he noticed a well-concealed camera on the lake to his right. The red light had originated from the opposite side.

    Upon seeing this, Captain Lin shouted, "Be careful!"

    Huo Lanjing, upon hearing this, rolled onto his back and used his hand to propel himself behind a tree.

    The soldiers also sought cover swiftly.

    One of them, while attempting to escape, was hit. His body exploded in the next instant, leaving only a pile of debris.

    Captain Lin ran to Huo Lanjing's side. "General, there's a surveillance system over there. They must have detected us."

    Huo Lanjing's face darkened as he glanced at the people behind him. He stood up and declared, "Everyone, raise your alert level to maximum. Permission to deploy mecha is granted."

    After saying this, he turned his head slightly and looked at Captain Lin. "Take them and clear out everyone here. We want them alive."

    Captain Lin's eyes flickered. "Where are you going, General? Such a move is too risky."

    Huo Lanjing replied, "That's an order."

    With that, he summoned his mecha, tapped his foot, and soared into the air, leaving behind a trail of afterimages.

    Captain Lin sighed and began assigning tasks: "First and second squad, follow me. Third, fourth, and fifth squad, this way, this way, over there."

    **

    The mechs' speed was indeed remarkable; before long, Huo Lanjing arrived at the villa.

    In his left hand, he held a laser dagger, while his right grasped a gun. He sidled in as he pushed the door open.

    There was no ambush as he had anticipated.

    A young man sat at the main table inside, surrounded by an abundance of food.

    The youth smiled and waved. "General Huo, nice to meet you. I'm Qing Song. Are you tired? Please, have a seat and eat something."

    Recalling what Chen Chen had said, Huo Lanjing's gaze swept across the feast.

    He went straight to the point. "Where's Luo Le?"

    Qing Song maintained his smile, about to take a bite of meat with his chopsticks, when a thrown knife flew past, sending the utensils flying. The sharp blade grazed his cheek.

    He lifted his head, his facial muscles twitching. "General, quite the temper, huh."

    Huo Lanjing ignored him, releasing his pheromones with lightning speed as he clutched Qing Song's throat. "Where is Luo Le?"

    His tone left no room for argument.

    Qing Song's veins bulged under the pressure, making it difficult for him to speak. "I don't know, Admiral. Who... are you talking about?"

    Huo Lanjing released him, kicking him to the ground and planting his boot harshly on his chest, exerting pressure through his gleaming military boots.

    "Bai Song."

    Upon hearing these two words, Qing Song's composure shattered. His pupils constricted, and his face turned grave. "So, you already knew."

    It was as casual as admitting to drinking water.

    "Then let me witness just how formidable the youngest Admiral of this Empire truly is."

    Huo Lanjing's gaze darkened, and he took a step back.

    Another, gentler yet menacing pheromone wafted into the air.

    Huo Lanjing retracted his gun, gripping the knife hilt in his right hand across his chest, assuming a combat stance.

    Qing Song snatched a fork from the table and rushed over with a crazed expression on his face.

    Inside a small stone chamber, there was an advanced treatment pod, where Luo Le lay, her heavy eyelids closed.

    "Sir, she's right here."

    The door swung open.

    A few individuals entered.

    The tallest one caught sight of Luo Le inside the treatment pod and slapped his subordinate hard across the face, "Didn't I tell you to bring them alive?"

    The subordinate clutched his mouth, glaring fiercely at the guide, "I did."

    Looking back at the tall figure, the guide's smile was half-hearted, "Then what's going on here?"

    How could the man not see the hidden jab? His smile twisted into an unpleasant grimace, "My subordinate is ignorant. No worries, this is the best treatment pod we have."

    "Enough, hurry up. That lunatic Huo Lanjing is on his way. Keep an eye on him at all times. We can't afford anything to happen to this man; our experiments rely on him. Oh, and inject him with this first."

    With that, they left. The last person hurried over, administered the serum into Luo Le's body, and then departed.

    Before closing the door, he spat in disdain.

    Lying in the healing chamber, Luo Le heard every word clearly.

    As Du Wei had mentioned, the drug kept him conscious but paralyzed.

    The knives that Du Wei had stabbed into him were excruciatingly painful, yet he couldn't even cry out.

    While the healing chamber glowed yellow, Luo Le finally opened his eyes.

    He reached out to silence the voice function of the chamber, then pulled off the wires attached to his body and sat up.

    The moment his feet touched the ground, his legs wobbled, and he grabbed the edge of the chamber to prevent himself from falling.

    Suddenly, the sound of the door opening echoed.

    Luo Le lifted his gaze to see Du Wei. His eyes darkened. "You...?"

    What was he doing here?

    Du Wei had already arrived at Luo Le's side in an instant, seizing his right shoulder and gripping it firmly. "Don't speak. Come with me."

    With Du Wei's pull, Luo Le took only one step before collapsing.

    Du Wei cursed and pointed at the gurney nearby. "Get on that."

    Luo Le froze, not moving.

    Du Wei produced the same knife from before. "Get on."

    Luo Le glanced at the blade, stumbled to his feet, and lay down.

    Du Wei covered Luo Le's face with a white cloth and leaned in to whisper, "No matter what happens, do not move."

    Of course, Luo Le knew that Du Wei wasn't being kind. But how could he escape from this body now?

    That was why he didn't resist. Moreover, his spatial ring was in Du Wei's possession.

    If things took a turn for the worse, he'd snatch it back. The ring contained weapons; at the very least, he had a mecha to fall back on.

    "Stop! Who's this?"

    They hadn't traveled far before being hailed.

    Following Luo Le's prior advice, he stood still and instinctively held his breath.

    He heard Du Wei chuckle, "There's no saving those. Don't look, his face is shattered. If you don't believe me, just sniff."

    Just moments ago, Du Wei had splashed something on him, and even through the blanket, Luo Le could detect the pungent odor mingled with decay.

    The other person disdainfully commented, "Ew, get him out of here."

    The bed started moving again. Before they left, Luo Le overheard the man laughing, "Look at him, a failed transformation into this half-human, half-beast state. So ugly! Our boss took pity on him and gave him the job of collecting corpses, and he's so thrilled about it."

    The other person agreed, "That's right. But he seems to hate the person our boss captured. He used the boss's authority to throw that person into that room. Later, the boss had someone bring him back. And that person's injuries are because of him."

    "Indeed, quite vengeful. But then again, Young Master Du has always been one to hold grudges."

    "He's no longer Young Master Du. Don't speak nonsense."

    Mockery laced the speaker's tone, and Luo Le sensed the car pause before resuming its journey.

    The rest of the ride was uneventful.

    At a crossroads, Luo Le was shoved out with Du Wei issuing a menacing warning.

    As soon as he stepped down, the bed was pushed off and disappeared into the dense undergrowth.

    Luo Le felt his strength had significantly returned.

    Du Wei held a knife to his back. "Move."

    Silent, Luo Le walked in the direction indicated.

    "Du Wei, you..."

    Du Wei seemed to have read his mind: "You have no right to pity me."

    Luo Le shook his head: "No, I know someone from a biological research institute who should be able to restore you."

    The Huo family had merely suppressed the Du family, but the main reason for the Du family's downfall was their internal strife.

    Du Wei's parents lost, and then the Du family was dismantled and sold off by his uncles and elders.

    In one fell swoop, Du Wei went from being the eldest son of the Du family to the commoner he despised the most.

    After selling off the assets, his uncles and elders mysteriously died in the old family home, along with Elder Grandfather Du.

    Du Wei didn't know whom to hate, so he directed his anger towards the Huo family, then onto Huo Lanjing, and finally Luo Le.

    There was nothing he could do about the Huo family, but Luo Le had to die.

    Besides, she was no longer Mrs. Huo now.

    Inside the villa, the two were still locked in a battle, with Huo Lanjing having a slight advantage.

    The door suddenly swung open, and a figure entered, announcing, "Boss, there's trouble."

    As Qing Song dodged, he said, "Speak."

    "The person we captured has been taken by Du Wei."

    Huo Lanjing paused his assault, his eyes darkening with intensity.

    Du Wei.

    This was the man who had shot at Luo Le's men before.

    Could it be that he'd taken Luo Le away?

    In an instant, Huo Lanjing brushed past them, summoning his mech to depart.

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