The city of Shang Bei plunged into the darkness of the night was beautiful, especially around the museum. The sight was particularly impressive when seen from where Li Yiming was. However, to Li Yiming, the colorful lights shining below were tantamount to the calling of the grim reaper himself. ‘I must be at least seventy meters above the ground… Oh, my legs feel weak when I look below. If I am ever to fall, there would probably be nothing left…’
“Uh, Eyeglasses, is it possible to get there from a less elevated place?” Li Yiming whispered into his transmitter.
“This is the best angle I can find. Anywhere lower and the risk of being noticed will increase,” Eyeglasses answered impassively.
‘Alright.’ Li Yiming raised his grappling-hook gun and aimed it at the location Eyeglasses had calculated. He pulled the trigger and a black arrow with a thin steel cable attached to the shaft shot toward the rooftop of the museum. Li Yiming pulled on the cable lightly after it landed; he did not dare to use too much of his level three strength, but it did at least seem stable enough.
“Alright, let’s check our time. We will start in exactly four minutes, when the current patrol finishes,” Eyeglasses gave his orders, “We have thirty-five minutes. Remember that you can see the alarm devices using the contact lenses I gave you. Red for infrared, green for motion, blue for weight, orange for noise and yellow for body heat. Avoid triggering the alarm at all cost.”
“Eyeglasses, can you play some music so we can relax a bit?” Qing Qiaoqiao did not sound nervous in the slightest.
“Just not from Fang Shui’er, please,” Liu Meng added.
Li Yiming took a deep breath and checked the hook he had strapped to his own clothes one last time. He put on his protective gloves, wrapped a mask around his face, and tried his best not to think about the cars below that looked like ants. “How about “A Man Needs to Be Brave”? That’ll help me, at least.” Li Yiming’s muffled voice made Qing Linglong chuckle.
Eyeglasses complied, and soon, the energetic, rhythmic song was heard through Li Yiming’s earphone. Li Yiming closed his eyes and pictured the giant red rising sun that was supposed to bring all the courage out of him, but somehow the sun soon crashed towards the ground.
“Ready,” Eyeglasses said in a low voice, “Go.”
Li Yiming gritted his teeth, held onto his trolley and gave a kick with his legs. He set flight into the darkness. The landscape became fuzzy as he picked up more and more speed. The wind whistled loudly by his ears.
“Wow, it really is a loss for the world that you didn’t make it into Hollywood,” Eyeglasses said as he admired the spectacle of the flying man in his screen.
“Oh, will you shut up.” Li Yiming’s voice shook as he gritted his teeth.
“You have to slow down!” Eyeglasses yelled.
In his nervousness, Li Yiming hesitated to slow down, and the extra speed he still had when he landed made him roll for about seven or eight meters until he collided against a stone pillar. He sat back up with his head still swirling.
“I’ll give you nine out of ten for the imperfect landing,” Eyeglasses joked when he saw Li Yiming stand up again, a little shaken from his fall.
“Are you okay?” Liu Meng was a little worried.
“It’s okay. I’m just never going to play Angry Birds ever again.” Li Yiming shook the dizziness out of his head and removed his mask. He looked at the ground: a sea of blue light. These were all weight sensors, and the closest was barely two meters away from him.
“Are you sure that the load is correct?” Li Yiming took out the explosives from his bracelet. He did not have much time left, and one mistake could mean that he “flew” for nothing.
“It should be alright, in theory.”
“In theory…” Li Yiming searched for the planned location, shot another arrow with a cable into the ground and set the explosives around it. He retreated three meters: this was the best he could do with all the sensors around.
“What about me, am I safe?” Li Yiming looked at the detonator in his hand.
“You aren’t going to die, that’s for sure. Wait for a second, Linglong, I’m going to cut the cameras for you, you have five seconds.” Eyeglasses was quite busy with handling three different operations at the same time.
Li Yiming lied prone on the ground, and, with a deep breath, closed his eyes and pushed the button on the detonator.
A low-pitched noise was heard, and the steel cable Li Yiming held almost slipped from his hands. Li Yiming gritted his teeth and pulled it back up, along with the piece of the roof that had been segmented. ‘Phew, if it weren’t for my level three strength, I wouldn’t even think that I’d be able to pull this block back up.’
A hole of about one meter in diameter had been created. Through it Li Yiming could see the exposition hall of the fifth floor and the myriad of colored lines within. The sight made Li Yiming even more nervous. However, he did not hesitate; he made a nearly four meters fall from where he stood, and somehow managed to not make a single noise when he landed. ‘Well, at least guardians are really good for things like that.’
He quickly located the armor they had marked down during their visit. There were twelve red lines in the area around it and a faint green glow around the glass casement that protected it. ‘Alright, so this is the motion sensor.’
Li Yiming pulled on this gloves to tighten them in preparation. ‘Good thing that I studied dance. At least I have flexibility and a good balance. Now, these twelve red lines…’
“2C24324 obtained.” Qing Qiaoqiao’s voice was heard. Li Yiming had barely made his way through seven of the twelve red lines.
“1E08933 obtained.” Qing Linglong’s voice was heard. Li Yiming had just reached the glass casement.
“Eyeglasses, the sensor around the casement of 5A09534, please…” said Li Yiming between two breaths.
“Wait, five, four, three… Alright.”
Li Yiming inserted his fingers as quickly as he could into the slit between the glass casement and the pedestal. He dove inside as soon as he could and dropped the glass casing back down lightly. “I’m inside.”
After a sigh of relief, Li Yiming started to remove the leather armor from the mannequin and glanced at the rusty sword right next to it. ‘Well, I guess I shouldn’t think about taking that too.’
“5A09534 obtained. Eyeglasses, I need to exit.” After putting the armor away in his bracelet, Li Yiming notified Eyeglasses.
“Alright, ready in the five, four… Go.” However, Li Yiming did not answer Eyeglasses’ timely signal.
“Hey, why aren’t you moving?” Eyeglasses saw that Li Yiming stayed immobile through the surveillance camera.
“What is it, Yiming?” Liu Meng’s voice came through.
“Li Yiming?” Qing Linglong and Grandma Wang stopped in their tracks and quickly sought cover. No precautions were exaggerated in a domain.
“Eyeglasses, do you know what’s going on?” Grandma Wang asked in a low voice.
“I cut the alarm around the sensor, but Li Yiming didn’t come out, and I don’t see anything abnormal on my side. He’s just standing there.” Eyeglasses was very confused.
The sudden apparition of someone else, also dressed and masked in black, and throwing an interested look at him, made Li Yiming stop short in his tracks despite Eyeglasses’ giving him the signal to move. He stood still, and the stranger outside did the same. Li Yiming had heard the calls from his friends, but he could not answer him; the man in black conveyed a heightened sense of danger. Li Yiming searched for the most powerful handgun in his bracelet, his Desert Eagle, and readied himself to bring it out if needed.
The man in black shook his head and raised his arm. Li Yiming squinted and made ready to break the glass casement, since his movements were too restricted within it. He could no longer afford to worry about triggering the alarm. For a man to appear like that, he had to be a guardian. However, the man simply raised his thumb in Li Yiming’s direction, nodded slightly, turned around, and walked through the sensors without triggering any of them.
Li Yiming let out a long sigh of relief. His back was soaked with cold sweat.
“Eyeglasses, cut the alarm again, please.” Li Yiming whispered.
“Five, four, three… Go.” Eyeglasses obeyed without asking.
“There are other people here.” Li Yiming carefully made his way back across the red lines and said at the same time.
“Other people? Guardians?” Qing Linglong was shocked.
“That’s impossible, I don’t see them here.” Eyeglasses was the most surprised, since he could see the interior of the museum completely through the cameras.
“I just confronted him, but for some reason, he didn’t do anything.” Li Yiming stared at the direction the man made for as he walked out of the sensor zone.
“Let’s halt everything for now and take cover. If we can think of the museum, then it wouldn’t be a surprise that others can, too. They’re probably concerned about triggering the alarm if they try to fight us. Any suggestions for what to do?” Qing Linglong analyzed the situation calmly, without even doubting Li Yiming for a fraction of a second. In a domain, cooperation and trust was everything, and the stakes were way too high for a bad joke.
“I don’t see anything on the surveillance cameras, so we don’t know how many of them there are.” Eyeglasses scanned through the camera feeds, but could not find anything useful.
“Well, if they are not doing anything, then is it a mutual agreement for non-interference? Should we proceed as planned?” Qing Qiaoqiao said.
Quietness in the communication channel: this was a hard decision to make. The newcomers’ intentions, as well as their strength, were difficult to estimate, and everything could be lost if a fight suddenly broke out.
“I see someone.” Liu Meng suddenly said. She noticed a silhouette that moved speedily, not too far away from her, passing through the alarms as if they did not exist.
“He’s going for 2F39023. Are we ceding it or fighting for it?” Qing Qiaoqiao had also noticed the stranger and made ready to make a move.
“Cede.” Li Yiming did not hesitate. He would not allow Liu Meng to be put at risk when they did not know who their enemies were.
“We leave right now.” Qing Linglong was quick to decide, and crucially, to unify the opinions within the team.
Qing Qiaoqiao threw an irritated stare at the man in black and proceeded with Liu Meng toward their planned exit.
Li Yiming returned to where he landed and jumped nearly three meters into the air. He reached for the edges of the hole in the roof and pulled himself up. After confirming the direction, he ran toward the edge of the roof and jumped down. As he fell from the rooftop of the museum, Li Yiming extended his arms and directed himself using the wingsuit he wore. As he approached the ground, he brought his arms closer to his body, causing his fall to suddenly accelerate. After a few rolls in the green belt, he speedily stood up and climbed into a black trailer that drove by. Qing Qiaoqiao and Liu Meng were already inside.
The car stopped briefly at a dark cross-section about one hundred meters away from the museum. Grandma Wang and Qing Linglong hopped onto the vehicle and the car zipped into the distance. A figure gazed at the vehicle from the balcony of the third floor as it faded into the darkness in the distance. “Hmm, decisive. We’ve been kind to you.”
“We should have struck at them earlier.” Another shadow appeared and then vanished on the fifth-floor balcony.
And… obviously nothing ever goes according to plan xD
1. The title of the chapter comes from the saying The mantis stalks the cicada, unaware of the oriole behind, essentially meaning covet gains ahead without being aware of danger behind.
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