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Chapter 560: Infiltration

    Chapter 560: Infiltration

    The pirate stepped out of the elevator and paused to stretch. "Argh! So tired... I need a break." He tapped at his communicator while muttering to himself. It rang a few times then was answered. "Sister Jia, do you have any openings? Alright, arrange one for me, I'm heading over for a few drinks. A meal, too! See if we still have the sweet shrimp from the West. I've been wanting some more of that for a long time. Heh, alright, alright. Excellent!"

    The conversation continued as he walked into a nearby warehouse. A few moments later, a verticar exited and rose into the air. The pirate was in the driver's seat, whistling pleasantly.

    "You and I need to have a chat." A low voice the pirate wasn't expecting gave him a scare. He didn't turn around, instead fiercely slapping his hand toward a button on the car's console.

    The interior of the car flickered with an intense blue light. The pirate's whole body went numb.

    Verticars didn't have the automatic steering even small airships had and yet the car held steady. The pirate then noticed the golden-masked man in the seat beside him.

    He tried to speak, but the numbness extended all the way to his tongue. "Wh....who a'..... y-you."

    Lan Jue's response was cold as death. "You don't need to know who I am. Your job is to behave yourself and answer my questions."

    The stubborn pirate grunted and turned his face away.

    Lan Jue chuckled. "If you decide not to cooperate, don't blame me for what you will suffer. I'm fine with it - I've learned a few new tricks I'd like to try out."

    He gently stroked a hand along the pirate's arm.

    Immediately the pirate shuddered, and then began to scream like a pig at slaughter. Even Lan Jue was shocked at the reaction, and he initiated it. I hardly did anything! He thought. All he'd done was briefly stimulate Captus' power. It was hardly one tenth of a percent of what he could draw from the Banishing Blade.

    Still, it seemed even that tiny amount was more than the pirate could stand.

    Lan Jue considered himself a benevolent person. He saved the pirate from the pain he's summoned. He spoke pleasantly to the suffering soul. "Well?"

    His prisoner took great gasping breaths, unable to speak. This sort of pain wasn't something you endured and then got over. He wanted to die, he couldn't stand even the memory of it.

    "Stubborn. Even after that you don't want to talk. Fine, let's try something else." Lan Jue nodded and lifted his hand again.

    "Stop!" The Pirate yelped helplessly.

    Lan Jue's hand stopped halfway between them. "Hm?"

    "I'll... I'll talk, just let me catch my breath." The pirate's haggard voice was downtrodden and defeated. How could he refuse? Vestiges of that agony still wracked his body. If he wanted his brief life to remain-pain free, he'd talk.

    Lan Jue's eyes peered out the passenger window. "We're not far from the residential area. You don't have a lot of time."

    What came next from the burly man could only be described as diarrhea of the jawbone.

    The verticar soared through the air, eventually reaching its destination in the residential area. It touched down without any fuss. When the door opened, a man in a black suit with a Red Widow emblem climbed out. Lan Jue fastened his newly acquired communicator with a small smile on his face. He strutted toward the residential buildings.

    A lot had been revealed by the chatty pirate. Firstly, capable as their defenses were there were spots it didn't cover. Obviously the hub of the planetary defense system was the most severe, other areas didn't see the same amount of protections. After all, this was a pirate base and not an Alliance military installation. Imposing too many restrictions on these scoundrels would have the opposite desired effect.

    This was a home to degenerates of all sorts, who came together to get everything their evil hearts desired. Women, drink, tobacco, drugs - whatever they wanted.

    Lan Jue already shared his information with Majesty, adding to the plan they were calling Operation Bugle Call. Tomorrow it would be underway, and he needed something from where the lions slept.

    From the pirate, Lan Jue had learned that every pirate had an identifier implanted in their communicators. It was among the more advanced defensive measures pirates had, but it wasn't strictly enforced in areas of play. Once you got past the security, there wasn't a lot they marked essential. Hard exterior and a loose interior; that was what the pirates had built here. If they tried to enforce discipline the scallywags would just revolt and that was no good for any pirate clan.

    As Lan Jue stepped through the doors, the brisk and inhospitable environment changed. He was immediately struck by the scent of marijuana that made him scowl. 1

    The roads running through the district were lit up with dim red lights and women sat listlessly in the doorway. 2.  Sounds of raucous revelry filled the air. Most of the pirates were in normal clothes here, leaving their flight suits at home.

    Lan Jue had removed his mask before exiting the car. His handsome features and physique attracted no small amount of attention from the female pirates.

    "Hey cutie, you new? Your face is so white! 3 Let big sister here give it a touch." The proposition came from a woman who looked at least forty. She reached a hand toward Lan Jue.

    He scowled at her and slapped her hand away. "Screw off!"

    "Hey! We've got one with a nasty temper!" The woman's face changed, became hard. She blocked his path.

    Another pirate joined, at least two meters tall, strong as on ox with ebony skin. He stood behind the woman and glowered dangerously at Lan Jue.

    "Kid, you're lucky Sister Tarantula likes you. But if you wanna die, my friend here will show you what his fist looks like."

    Tarantula, as she called herself, delightfully poked him in the chest with her finger. "Get on your knees and lick my feet, or we'll see how fast it takes pig-head here to turn you into paste."

    Ripples of laughter surrounded them. Pirates like action, and bullying greenhorns was as fun as anything. Lan Jue was young, an easy target.

    "Fuck off," Lan Jue growled.

    Both Tarantula and her enormous companion were struck dumb. In the depths of their hearts his voice seemed to resonate, bypassing their resistance. Saying nothing further, they stepped aside and let him be.

    Lan Jue paid them no further mind and walked on.

    "Ey, Tarantula! Look at you, so convincing! You must really like that pale-faced kid." The other pirates were just as surprised. Tarantula was not risk-averse, why'd she let him go so easily?

    She shook her head, trying to clear the fog. She didn't know what happened, only that she had to do whatever the guy told her to do. She snapped her head around to look for him, but Lan Jue was already gone.

    What she could not know was that she was a victim of Lan Jue's voice of command, a watered-down version. If Lan Jue wanted her to kill herself, he could have made her do it.

    Lan Jue turned a corner, and a large bar came in to view. In the world of pirates, bars were the places of choice to spend their down hours. They had good booze and good women, making it one of the most boisterous places in the district. It was the perfect place for rapscallions to unwind.

    Coming part and parcel, of course, were the less reputable means of entertainment. Fights were a daily occurrence.

    The moment he entered Lan Jue's brows knit tight. The atmosphere was foul, thick with smoke and old booze. He was a fan of tobacco and drink, but not the fair pirates preferred. What he preferred was a quiet place where he could enjoy them, where pretty girls delivered the drinks to his table.

    The Monarch paused to take in the environment. Night had fallen, which was peak time for these sorts of establishments. It was safe to assume every bar on this asteroid was full by now. That was exactly what Lan Jue wanted.

    He briefly rose on the tips of his toes, and a bolt of lightning raced through the floor. It emerged just behind a particularly beefy looking reprobate. The man wasn't aware until he felt the explosive power strike him in the back. He was thrown forward into the pirate in front of him.

    "Bastard! Who the hell pushed me?!" The pirate who'd been struck by lightning scrambled to his feet, turned, and threw a metal table into the crowd.

    Pirates didn't mind trouble, they sought it out. It helped them let off steam, especially when there wasn't anything to do. Right away the whole bar was a flurry of wailing fists and curses. Since the fight had started in the middle of the bar, it wasn't long before it swept everyone up in it.

    No one paid attention to the lone man wandering through the crowd. He looked like he was part of the action, but no one even got close enough to land a blow. He wandered the bar, picking communicator's off of pirates' wrists and stoking the fires.

    By the time Lan Jue stepped out of the bar, more than ten communicators were safely stowed away in Thor's Promise. He made his way back to the car, the pirate still unconscious within. He activated the verticar's navigation systems to lead him back to the defense control center.

    Now it was time to really get things underway.

    He parked the car in the warehouse they'd left from and walked out. He was in no hurry, and leaned back in the chair. He shut his eyes for a few moments of rest. There was still some time before Operation Bugle Call was slated to start. He still needed to get in that tower.

    1. I showed this to my wife for a laugh. After going through pains to describe how terrible these guys were, I found it humorous how TJSS would choose marijuana instead of something more dramatic like heroin or cocaine. My wife made an interesting point, saying that heroin is endemic in many parts of China (the local clubs where I lived were essentially drug dens). Outside of Western China, marijuana is actually hard to come by. He may have chosen it because of its novelty.

    2. Prostitution is widely prevalent in China. Many if not all of their bath houses have women on staff for this purpose. Just down the street from my house was an alley filled with 'massage parlors,' where woman sat in the doorways in nightgowns waiting for customers. It's phenomenally sad, since sexual slavery or poverty is what has driven these women to prostitute themselves. Young girls are stolen from villages, driven thousands of miles across the country and sold into slavery in the cities

    3. Woo, more explanations. When it rains it pours. 'Whiteness' is the pinnacle of attractiveness in China. They go to tremendous lengths to avoid tans. My theory - or I dunno, maybe I heard it somewhere - is that those with tans are usually farmers or those who have to work outside like in construction. These are jobs for the poor, dangerous and physical. The rich get to stay inside all day. From a medical standpoint, I also found it interesting that these delicate pale women were also prone to fainting or otherwise weak constitutions. Sexism aside, those are all clear signs of anemia - which would make you pale as **. This is the same with those you may find with long pinky fingernails. While in the US that is an indicator or a coke head, in China it shows that your job is more cerebral than physical since there's no labor to break your nails.
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