297 Li Qi Zai

    It was still early in the morning but Da Hwa City's Nan Hwa Street was already busy with activities. Middle-aged aunties and uncles practiced tai chi, the cleaners swept the grounds, youngsters ran in tracks while couples walked their dogs. Most shops down the streets were closed except for a few which specialized in takeaway breakfast. Nan Hwa Street was the city's commerce centre and it also was home to many luxury brands' branches. The fearful pall from the epidemic faded, evidenced by the activities that returned to the street.

    Suddenly, the aunties and uncles playing Tai Chi were stunned as they saw a troupe funnel into the street. There were armored cars, medic cars, quarantine vehicles, mobile com cars... Each vehicle was marked with a star symbol, which was now familiar to the public. These were the people from Phecda. Before the public could react, a group of imposing soldiers came to chase them away, "Please leave the scene immediately!"

    Some took out their phones to record this incident but they were immediately halted by the soldiers. The aunties and uncles, who'd normally stay to gossip, ran faster than the rest, fearful that this might be another outbreak.

    Once the armored cars parked, the passengers unloaded swiftly. Before the public evacuated completely, these special agents assumed their position around a shop named Li Qi Zai. The explosive expert stuck a pipe bomb on the closed steel door. They made sure the people retreated a safe distance away before detonating the bomb.

    Bang! The steel door was blown away, the shockwave knocking over the items inside the eatery. Some of the aunties and uncles yelped as their ears buzzed from the explosion. Their towels dropped to the ground. "Ah!" Some of the youngsters screamed as well. It was out of a mixture of panic and excitement, they never imagined encountering something like this before they left home that morning. Hearing the explosion, the tenants of nearby buildings looked out from their windows. Instantly some took out their phones to record this momentous moment. They uploaded the videos onto the internet.

    The special agents wore unique gear that consisted of, among others, anti-bullet vests, night vision goggles and helmets. It was impossible to tell their identity. It had been a few days since the government announced the existence of supernatural forces and Phecda but nothing big had changed since then. Other than the promotional activities carried out by the local tenancy organization, life moved on... So this sudden change hit the public like a slap to the face!

    Naturally Phecda had considered the presence of the public when they drafted the plan. It was why they had decided to make their move early in the morning. In one or two hours, the street would be jammed packed with shoppers. They avoided having the mission at midnight because the power of darkness grew under the vision of twilight.

    After the steel down was blown apart, immediately a tactical drone was sent in for reconnaissance. Gu Jun's team focused on the live feed sent back to the monitor. Once everything was clear, they would rush in immediately. Actually the superiors did not wish for Gu Jun to be a part of the mission due to its dangers but he insisted on coming. Certain senses could only be picked up in person. By standing in the communication bases, he could get a clearer understanding of who Deng Ximei was. Furthermore, he refused to turn into a promotional celebrity in front of cameras, he had had enough of those days.

    The live feed from the drone was channelled directly to the command central and the mobile com car. Li Qi Zai was an antique shop, the interior was classically decorated with Tang Dynasty vases and china on the wooden shelves. There was no sign of life and the heat sensor did not detect any explosives either. At the same time, the mission was underway at 15 different locations across the country. There were already reports of skirmishes at some of them.

    "Eastern State, Eastern State, the enemies are spotted to be using spells!""Engaging the enemies at Cave No. 1. Discovery of zombies, discovery of zombies!" The updates travelled through the command central into Gu Jun's earphones. They made him hold his breaths.

    'It's about time.' With a wave of his hand, Gu Jun's team stormed into the shop with the barrels of their rifles pointing at all corners of the room. From the moment Gu Jun stepped into the shop, he felt something was off. It was the grounded force mentioned by Deng Ximei. The shop was in the middle of a metropolis but Gu Jun felt like he had stepped into a tomb. The patterns on the vases... reminded him of flowers from the foreign world. Agitation muddled his mind as an echo of the voice he heard during the press conference reverberated in his ears. This place was indeed a communication base.

    Before the mission, they did study the layout of the shop. The front was the shop and there was a 30 cubic metres room at the back which could act as a bedroom or a warehouse. The owner was not seen to leave the premise after closing hours yesterday night, so there was a possibility that he was still in the building. Gu Jun signed for his teammates to break down the inner door. With a few rams, the door shattered. The team then saw a middle-aged man standing by the wall, splashing it with paint. The room was empty but the walls were covered in strange patterns. The man was destroying the ritualistic patterns! Gu Jun immediately pulled the trigger.

    "Ah..." Bullets made quick work of the man's calves. He collapsed to the ground, dropping the paint bucket. Fresh colors pooled on the ground. The man's face gritted from anger and he howled shrilly, echoing a demon straight from hell, "Gu Jun, it was us who cultivated you, you are created by us..."

    Bang, bang, bang! The man was rewarded with a few more shots to his calves. The pain convulsed his body but his face appeared even more distorted by fanaticism...

    Regardless of his intention, Gu Jun shot an Ancient Seal at him. Instantly the man shrieked with increased madness. Xue Ba took the opening and rushed forward to apprehend the man with a stun gun. Gu Jun ignored the man's claim, if anything he was glad that they had captured a cultist alive. But another question niggled at his mind, 'Why would Lai Sheng Company leave behind only a single person to defend such an important locale? That is very unlikely... From the force that channels through this place, there should be more.'

    Right at that moment, an urgent voice came from the command central, "Problematic Team, attention please! Anomalous change is currently happening at Nan Hwa Street!"

    Anomalous change? What did that mean? But the answer soon arrived as the ground shook with tremors. Gu Jun frowned. They might have caught a big fish this time...

    He led his team out of the shop. The buildings down the street teetered dangerously and the public's screams of fear echoed everywhere. Despite the night-vision goggles, his vision was so blurred that Gu Jun took them off. He scanned the surroundings which were dipped in chaos energy. It was underground, something was causing the tremors underground. 'Subterrain giant worms? No, they are not that powerful. A spatial transmutation spell? Is this an enemy effort for offense or defence?'

    Not much time had passed since the notice for evacuation. Some of the older public members lagged behind. They turned to look at Li Qi Zai from a distance. Like the nearby tenants, they were gripped by fear. But the sharp eyes among them caught a familiar face. They shouted. "Captain Gu, that appears to be Captain Gu!""You're right, it's really him!"


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