Chapter 38 - That“s Not Him
Qian Mian, there’s no need for you to come anymore. I’ll meet you at the safehouse with Tian Yan. I have something I need to give to you.” Li Huaibei said as he leaned against the freezer of the convenience store, occasionally glancing at a package wrapped in a black cloth. As he hung up, he reached out for the bottle of hard liquor on the rack, but decided against it as he touched the bottle, opting to pick up a bottle of spring water instead.
As he opened the cap and took a long sip, he squinted his eyes and threw his gaze toward the entrance to the sauna center.
“Get ready, Tian Yan. I’ll come and get you soon. I think you need to have a look at this.” Li Huaibei made another call.
“Looks like Li Yiming just killed some people…” Li Huaibei said as he drank another mouthful of water, slightly disappointed by the lack of taste.
“He just massacred an entire gang.”
“He did a very cruel job.”
“What do you mean?” Tian Yan said with a calm voice, as she did not consider the deaths of a few people to be a big deal.
“I’m saying that I doubt it was actually Li Yiming who killed those people…” Li Huaibei took a deep breath.
“What do you mean? Doubt?” Tian Yan’s tone turned serious, remembering that Li Huaibei had mentioned previously that there was something off about Li Yiming.
“There was a strange change in his aura right before he began fighting. It was like an entirely different person.” Li Huaibei put the plastic bottle to his lips again, only to throw the bottle away in frustration upon realizing that it was empty.
“Heart Trial?” Tian Yan conjected, as there was no way that anyone could put up such a perfect disguise of Li Yiming. The only remaining explanation she could think of was that there were two beings fighting for control inside of him.
“No, that’s shouldn’t be possible. How should I put it… He feels different. He’s not the Li Yiming I knew, at least.”
“What happened after that?”
“He gradually stabilized, but I think that you might still be able to see something…”
“I’m coming right away,” Tian Yan said she hung up the phone. The mysterious entity which suppressed her powers had disappeared, meaning that her senses were as acute as ever. With how much attention Stargaze had given to Li Yiming, Tian Yan was not about to give up this opportunity.
When Tian Yan exited of the building, she suddenly froze in place. A black car traveling on the opposite side of the road came to an abrupt stop, and a woman wearing a business suit came out of the vehicle.
“Sis Ying…” Tian Yan said with a trembling voice.
“Long time no see…” Ying Mei said as she approached Tian Yan with a smile.
Li Huaibei waited for Tian Yan after hanging up the phone. He stood up with a frown as he spotted Li Yiming and Chen Quan exit the sauna center with Wu Jia and Lin Lu.
“The water is two yuan, right?” After brushing away the bits of dust on his pants, Li Huaibei asked the owner of the shop politely as he took out two coins.
“Here’s the money.” Li Huaibei said with a smile as he put the coins down, only for one of them to roll to the other side of the counter before falling to the floor.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Li Huaibei apologized.
“Don’t worry about it.” The woman at the counter bent down and picked it up.
“Sorry again.” Li Huaibei repeated as he let out a smile and left the convenience store.
“What a handsome smile. If only he dressed more properly .” The woman said with a smile as she found Li Huaibei’s features very attractive.
“Hey! What happened to the package that last customer asked us to keep for a bit?”
“Which one?” A voice came from below the storage racks.
“That ugly dwarf.” The woman said impatiently as she searched around.
“Didn’t you put it right next to the counter?” The man asked as he walked out from the back of the store.
“That’s odd… It was here a second ago…” The woman said to herself as she looked in which Li Huaibei left. “He was the only customer… Could it have been him…? But he had nothing in his hands…”
“Don’t be ridiculous… Those stone tablets were so heavy, there’s no way he could have taken them. Besides, those pieces of rock were probably some worthless construction material that the dwarf stole from his workplace…” The man grumbled as he picked up a pack of drinks and continued restocking.
“Well, it would still look bad for us to lose them…” The woman said as she continued to look around, not taking the situation too seriously.
* * *
“This is the news report about the massacre at the Dreamy Waterland sauna center. According to a preliminary police investigation, at least forty-seven people have died in a massive armed conflict between rival gangs…”
When Eyeglasses heard the news, he instantly stopped what he was doing and picked up his phone.
“What is it?” Qing Linglong answered the phone, her low voice implying that she was in a business meeting.
“Did you see the news?”
“You mean that incident at the sauna center? I’ve only seen it briefly. What happened? Is it a newly-awakened guardian again?” Qing Linglong asked as she walked into a quiet room.
“Who is it then?”
“What?” Qing Linglong exclaimed.
“Have a look at it yourself. You’ll see what I mean.” Eyeglasses said as he sent a video.
“Alright.” Qing Linglong opened the video after making sure that she was alone.
“It’s footage captured from the surveillance camera on the opposite side of the street.”
On the video, Li Yiming and Chen Quan were seen making their way out of the sauna center.
“Li Yiming? When was this taken?”
“This was right before police arrived on the scene. Let me show you another video.”
This time, the footage showed Li Yiming and Chen Quan rushing out of a small alleyway, only Li Yiming vanished in a flash of purple light a few seconds in. Qing Linglong frowned as she reached the end of the video. “So, what happened exactly?”
“Forty-seven dead. All of them were dismembered. I did a background check, not a single guardian, but all of them were affiliated with a gang called the Merry Couples.”
“Why go so far if they weren’t guardians?”
“I don’t know. He’s not picking up.”
“Did you dispose of the evidence?”
“Before the police could put their hands on it. But someone was even faster than me…”
“Someone copied the footage before I accessed it.”
“Copying? Not deleting?”
“Yes.” Eyeglasses said with a grave voice as he put on his glasses.
“Tell Big Beard to come to the airport tonight. He’ll need our help.” Qing Linglong said after a moment of reflection and then hung up. She had conjectured that Li Yiming avoided contacting them due to not wanting to cause them trouble, but that was even more of a reason for them to try to help their friend.
Eyeglasses put down his phone. After staring at the screen blankly for a while, he shook his head and dialed Big Beard’s number.
“Nice timing. I was about to call you.” Big Beard’s voice came.
“We have a… situation. Li Yiming might need our help.”
“What is it?”
“Well…” Eyeglasses gave Big Beard a detailed account of what happened, including Qing Linglong’s and his supposition.
“Unfortunately, I’m not sure we have time for him…” Big Beard said after hearing Eyeglasses’ story.
“Remember the blood sample you gave me?”
“A309?” Eyeglasses was well aware of the subject on which he was investigating.
“Yes, well, they’ve launched their research program.”
“What the hell? I thought they stopped it for good?” Eyeglasses could not believe what he heard. The program in question was one that researched on how to artificially create guardians.
“They’ve changed locations and brought all of their data and equipment with them… And this time, they’re sponsored by Yunyu Corporation.”
“What? Yun Yiyuan has chosen to get himself involved in this? How…”