Chapter 44 – The Punishmen
“Zeng Qian! Come out if you want to kill me!” Li Yiming yelled as loudly as he could. He looked at the rotting corpses around him; the street near the entrance to Fengyuan neighborhood had turned into a scene of hell on Earth.
A military helicopter flew by above his head. ‘Looks like the government received the news. I wonder if they started evacuating.’
Before Li Yiming could give it more thought, however, the helicopter suddenly deviated from its course and crashed into a skyscraper. A loud bang was heard, and what remained of the helicopter crashed down to the ground along with blocks of concrete adding. It seemed like the end of the world had begun. ‘Even those in the air aren’t spared… Zeng Qian…’
Li Yiming’s heart burned with anger. It was spite he had never felt before. He hated Zeng Qian for what she had done, hated the guardians for what they were able to do, and hated Heaven’s Laws for allowing such a thing to be done. ‘She’s massacring the entire city… again! Is this what guardians are made for? Destruction and killing rather than protection?’
The loud roar of a car engine was heard. An Audi appeared in a street corner nearby. It stopped right in front of Li Yiming a drift that seemed barabaric in its suddenness.
“Big Beard?” A sword appeared in Li Yiming’s hand, his hand glowed purple as he prepared himself for a fight.
“I’m also looking for her.” Big Beard kicked the car door fly open and walked down the car. He looked at Li Yiming coldly.
“You’re not with her?” Li Yiming frowned, lowered his sword, but the purple light in his hand did not go away.
“She disappeared after what happened back at the park. If I knew she would do something like this, I would have killed her back then.” Big Beard shook his right hand and moved around. The metallic components of what looked like a heavy machinegun gradually climbed up his forearm from the tip of his fingers, turning his hand into a weapon he could use at will.
“Li Yiming, Zeng Qian is in the south of the city. She’s fighting the camouflager!” Qing Linglong’s voice came from Eyeglasses’ transmitter. With dawn breaking, Eyeglasses had gone to sleep, and Qing Linglong was the one who continued the search for Zeng Qian.
“South?” Li Yiming looked southward
“What’s happening? Big Beard asked.
“Zeng Qian is in the southern part of the city. She’s fighting the camouflager,” Li Yiming answered truthfully. Big Beard was no enemy of his, at least for the moment.
“Get on.” A metal chest appeared in front of Big Beard. The chest melted into a puddle of liquid metal after falling to the ground. The substance covered Big Beard’s body and gained in size until it became a giant mech of about five meters tall that gradually lifted itself off the ground by spitting fire from its back.
Li Yiming hopped aboard in a hurry and grabbed one of the metallic bars on the shoulder of the mech avoid falling off. After a burst of fire from the back, the mech flew toward the southern part of the city. It traversed Shangbei in almost an instant and arrived at a neighborhood over which dark clouds loomed. A black tornado whirled ravaged the neighborhood, and bestial roars could be heard coming from within it.
“It’s Ya Yu. They’re over there!” Li Yiming yelled when he heard the inhuman roars
“They’re all there. The camouflager, Bai Xi, and Ya Yu. They know that we’re here.” Big Beard’s voice came out of the mech. Amplified by the speakers attached to the mech, Big Beard’s voice sounded robotic and colder than ever.
The combat unfolding below them pitted Ya Yu against a black tornado apparition. The camouflager and Bai Xi stood quietly in the distance, waiting with hands behind their back while the old man Duan Mu hid behind them, terrified by what he was witnessing.
“That tornado… Is it Zeng Qian? How did she become that strong? She’s fighting on even footing with Ya Yu!” Li Yiming was astounded by what he saw. Ya Yu’s eyes shone with a red luminescence as he roared and tore through the tornado, but it was like cutting through water with a knife; the wall of bugs would soon close in and drown him once again, as if Ya Yu’s strike had achieved nothing at all.
“Something’s wrong. I’ve seen Zeng Qian before. She’s level three at most. There’s no way she can hold her own against Ya Yu.” Bai Ze’s sounded confused.
“Looks like we’ve got some visitors. That’ll spare me the trouble to go look for them.” The camouflager looked at the mech in the sky and made his intentions clear.
Duan Mu avoided looking at Li Yiming, but he was also curious about his sudden appearance. ‘He’s riding on top of a level-five mech… I wonder how many high-level guardians are still hiding in this domain. Where’s Li Huaibei?’
“We have the same goal in mind.” Li Yiming could feel that the camouflager was about to attack him, so he rushed to explain his own motives. He knew that the most important thing was to stop Zeng Qian and the spreading of the virus.
“Same goal?” The camouflager snorted in discontent, but the receding aura around him indicated that he understood Li Yiming’s message.
The tornado of bugs suddenly scattered. The stream of bugs flew into a somewhere in the distance and gathered once again. Ya Yu roar and was about to chase after the bugs, but the camouflager signaled for him to stop. Ya Yu stood where he was, repressing his frustration from fighting an enemy he could not hit.
“Li… Yi… Ming…” A hoarse screech came from the black shadow that was formed. The bugs congregated into a human form. It had a hideous appearance; a hunched back, dried skin reminiscent of a mummy, skeletal limbs and a green glow that illuminated the flesh beneath the skin. Its eyes were fixated Li Yiming. This was Zeng Qian’s true form.
“You deserve to die!” Li Yiming looked at the monstrous apparition. He had never felt such a desire to kill someone before. This was not a matter of who was right and who was wrong anymore. Zeng Qian had to pay for the catastrophe she had created.
“Let them fight.” The camouflager once again relayed his message to Ya Yu and Bai Xi. Zeng Qian was a fish in a barrel, and if the two guardians wanted to do the job themselves, he would let them fight and kill whomever that stayed alive later.
“We should be careful about the camouflager.” Big Beard reminded Li Yiming and carefully adjusted the height of his mech.
“You will pay for Xiao Hei—!” Zeng Qian roared. The lower part of her jaw fell down, her mouth was opened wide like that of a snake. A stream of bugs, carrying with it a disgusting stench, shot toward Li Yiming with loud buzzing noises.
Big Beard’s mech trembled violently, and a beam of white light shot of out its chest. The two beams, one black and one white, collided in midair, and vanished without leaving trace of it behind.
Li Yiming’s countenance changed. ‘That attack of hers. I wouldn’t have been able to stop it without Thunderous Strike… How did she become this strong?’
‘I can feel traces of the domain’s will on her…’ Bai Ze’s voice came again.
‘The domain’s will? Is that what happened to Zeng Qian?’
‘It’s odd. Zeng Qian’s acts are clearly against the will of the domain, so why would the domain grant her so much strength?’ Bai Ze sounded confused and also concerned.
“Something’s wrong with her.” Big Beard, who had just fended off Zeng Qian’s attack, knew that it was impossible that she had grown to such a level by herself in such a short time.
After her fruitless attack, Zeng Qian’s body shrank even more. The bugs that flew around her body seemed to also have decreased in number and were barely visible anymore. “Kill Li Yiming… Revenge… Kill Li Yiming… Revenge… Kill Li Yiming… Revenge…” Zeng Qian’s skeletal body was about to fall over, but the echoes of this bone-chilling sentence still resonated around her.
“Come back, Ya Yu!” The camouflager suddenly sensed an impending danger and hurried to call for Ya Yu’s retreat. He also grabbed Duan Mu on his way and jumped back.
“AHHHH—!” Another scream from Zeng Qian. The scale-like skin that covered her body splintered, producing fissures that let through an intensifying green light. The bugs that flew around her body also blew up one by one, spreading out a thin mist of poisonous gas around her.
“She’s about to blow up!” Big Beard yelled. The mech flew back, and two panels beneath the arms of the mech flew open, and Big Beard took out two giant shields from the two compartments. Another dome-shaped light barrier covered both the mech and Li Yiming, who stood on its shoulder.
A deafening blast was heard, but instead of the shockwave and the destruction that Li Yiming had anticipated, all he could see was a ray of inky green light that shot toward the sky. The blast of light flew into the clouds above the city and, instead of blasting the clouds away, painted them into an even darker color.
“That’s it?” Big Beard lowered the two shields in front of his mech, but still maintained the dome barrier.
“She’s dead?” The camouflager frowned and looked at Duan Mu, who was right next to him.
“Her aura… She’s gone.” Duan Mu was baffled, but he hurried to activate his talent after receiving a glance from the camouflager; he knew that it was the only reason for which he was kept alive.
“Zeng Qian’s dead?” Li Yiming looked at where Zeng Qian stood a moment ago. Her final attack had failed to produce even a small crater.
‘That’s impossible. Her suicidal attack shouldn’t have been this weak.’ Bai Ze sounded a little nervous; she knew that the situation was getting out control.
“Rain?” Li Yiming looked at the clouds above him, baffled. The mass of dark clouds continually expanded, and mixed within the darkness was a faint green glow.
“Shit!” The camouflager also noticed the change in the clouds. He made a punching gesture and a deep crater appeared in the ground. Duan Mu crawled away from it in terror.
“Guardians! I will make you regret being born!” The camouflager stared at Li Yiming, furious about what was going to happen very soon. “Ya Yu, Bai Xi, kill them.”
With the camouflager’s order, Ya Yu, who seemed unsettled, roared mightily and leaped at Li Yiming. Bai Xi, on the other hand, bent down as her legs morphed into a giant snake’s tail. She screeched and a transparent sword flew in Li Yiming’s direction.
‘There’s no point in fighting them now. We need to leave,” Big Bead said. Twelve cannons sprung up from the should portion of his mech and fired a volley of suppressive fire. Meanwhile, a jet of fire burst out from behind the mech and beneath its feet, carrying it into the distance.
“I’ll kill you even if you run to the corner of the Earth!” The camouflager roared at the mech that was leaving the scene. He snatched Duan Bu by the neck and choked him. “Find them, or I’ll make you want to die.”
A lightning suddenly traversed the sky, but oddly, it was green light. A moment layer and droplets of water started to pour down from the clouds.
The rain had started.