Book 7: The Cloud
Chapter 317: Cracked Ice (Part 1/2)
The devil ray, bound in the whistling winds, streaked across the sky to arrive above the viewing platform. It slightly tilted its flat body, and it passed through the structural frame. Its momentum was eliminated with wave-like ripples as it hovered above the pool. Then, it slowly descended.
Luo Nan's legs didn't move, but the devil ray stimulated the flesh of its back on its own to send Luo Nan down like a conveyor belt. He just staggered a bit when he slid off the wing-like fins.
Xue Lei had been waiting to the side, and he stepped forward to support Luo Nan in a timely manner. He was just wearing a thin t-shirt, and his body was covered in sweat. He only let out a breath of relief when he was able to hold firmly onto Luo Nan's arm. But a different sort of energy rushed through his head.
"Nanster, have you gone crazy!?"
Near the end of his speech, his voice suddenly dropped an octave, "Your eyes…."
Luo Nan motioned to the devil ray to submerge into the Heavenly Ocean Lake and enter the central crystal pillar. He was dripping with water from the splash made by the devil ray when he broke free from Xue Lei's grasp, and he walked to a dryer area to the side of the pool.
Luo Nan's eyes were still burning and in pain from when he had dropped to the ground, but after blinking his eyes a few times and feeling the autumn breeze blow over, he soon felt quite refreshed. His eyes were like lubricated ball bearings, taking the moisture in layer by layer. In the middle, there came some prickly and itchy sensations, but most of it was alleviated quickly. Unexpectedly, his eye sockets, eyebrows, forehead, and face all felt immersed in coolness. It was rather soothing.
Luo Nan believed that it wasn't a big deal. The lightning in between the coupling of the two gears both lacerated, but also repaired the coupling like glue. Right now, he couldn't control the coupling too accurately, perhaps due to the damage from the prior wave of lightning and various lacerations. But the following wave of lightning produced a welding effect. It came in a reversal, and perhaps because his luck was good, the coupling subsequently exploded open.
But since it was coupling, it was natural for information to intercommunicate and synchronize. It was highly probable that the transformation was a good one, and as time passed, Luo Nan felt it become more and more obvious.
This was merely Luo Nan's own thoughts. Xue Lei got a different feeling as he looked at Luo Nan's eyes.
Xue Lei felt like he was looking at the eyes of a cold-blooded beast. Although Luo Nan's eyes weren't long and narrow, the densely woven cracks that spiraled within them made those eyes look like glass balls that could shatter at any moment.
Xue Lei subconsciously shuddered when he witnessed this scene, and he immediately reached out to grab Luo Nan in order to take him to the hospital and get him examined. But the energy that flared within Luo Nan made Xue Lei's eyelids twitch twice.
Xue Lei composed his mind, and he followed the reaction of the energy. He saw once more the fractured cracks, which were like deep cracks in ice. It looked desolate at first glance, but there lay a dense cold aura seeped within. The glow would occasionally pulsate, like flaring lightning rending the night sky. It was dazzling.
When faced with this pair of aberrant eyes, Xue Lei didn't know what to say for a time, and he subconsciously handed over the notebook in his hand.
This was Luo Nan's loose-leaf notebook. It had been thrown upon the platform when Luo Nan had jumped on the devil ray's back. Xue Lei had picked it up and was returning it to its rightful owner.
Luo Nan held the leather cover and laughed. It was hard to hide his weariness.
Xue Lei's tone eased a bit. "You should still go get yourself checked up."
"Okay." Luo Nan knew that this was something he couldn't avoid, and he agreed to it quite crisply. His gaze turned and he saw a girl, with Xue Lei's clothes draped over her, sitting atop a bench besides the pool. Luo Nan was quite baffled. "Senior Sister Tian is still here?"
Tian Si heard Luo Nan say her name. She slightly bit her lower lip and raised her head. Her lips were so white that not a trace of red could be seen. Her expression was also a bit stiff. Luo Nan didn't know if it was due to the effects of the cold, or the power of fear increasing a bit.
She had been grabbed by the throat, been threatened as a hostage, and fallen into the Heavenly Ocean Lake. Her entire body was soaked with water. Her knitted clothes entered the water, so they became extremely heavy. After getting out of the water, the slightest cold breeze became exceptionally cold. Her shoes had fallen into the Heavenly Ocean Lake early on, leaving her fine legs to touch the moist ground with only pantyhose as protection. She was battered and exhausted.
It was late autumn. The chill was very serious. Though Xue Lei had kindly given her his gym clothes to warm her body, it was still hard for her not to hug her legs and shiver from the cold.
Xue Lei whispered, "The fright she took was probably too vicious. She probably has some post-traumatic stress. She's been staying here, not moving at all, no matter how much I try persuading her."
Luo Nan furrowed his brows upon hearing this; he didn't know how to handle this for a time. His gaze deviated a bit, and he saw that the viewing platform had clearly been cleared of all people. Black Beetle's and Puppeteer's corpses were gone, the unconscious tourists were all evacuated, and all traces of the battle were wiped clean.
Xue Lei was informed. He whispered, "Secretary He came not long after you left. She cleared the site and arranged for Brother Zhou to take care of things here."
From the end of the pool, a calm man in his forties was making his way over. It was Zhou Hu, who Xue Lei had just mentioned. He was one of He Yueyin's bodyguards and her confidant. He had met Luo Nan twice in the past, and he was Crag Burst's comrade-in-arms. He was no stranger.
"Brother Zhou,” Luo Nan placed the matter with Tian Si to the side as he made a courteous greeting.
Zhou Hu's words and actions were steady and fitting from start to finish. "Mr. Luo. According to Miss He's instructions, I will wait by your side this night to do some odd jobs for you. Just give me direct instructions for anything that needs to be done."
Luo Nan didn't refuse. He nodded in thanks.
Zhou Hu swept a glance at Tian Si and more or less understood the situation. He lowered his voice and said, "Miss He told me that this one was stifled quite ruthlessly, and even struggled during a hostage situation…."
Luo Nan heard his words and thought for a while. Then, he walked forward two paces.
The distance closed, and everything was fine except when Tian Si saw Luo Nan's ice-cracked eyes. Her entire body recoiled, but she soon realized what she just did. She forcefully restrained her fear and shuffled forward, raising her head to see him. She was terrified and pitiful.
"Junior, I'm sorry…."
Right now, Tian Si absolutely didn't have her daily leisurely and cheerful appearance.
Luo Nan furrowed his brows and bent down a bit. "Senior Sister, it's very cold out. Go change your clothes, then we can continue chatting, okay?"
Luo Nan had used his close-range hypnosis technique right then. Tian Si subconsciously grunted in agreement, and her mind went into a slight daze.
Luo Nan improvised upon seeing this. "Go with her, Leister."
Xue Lei shook his head hard. Tonight, he practically didn't do anything. He settled firmly on a decision in his moment of regret. He would follow closely by Luo Nan's side.
"All right. Let's all go together." Luo Nan really didn't have any special feelings for Tian Si, but because she had researched Gear and Coupling Theory, his attitude was a lot different than it normally would have been.
There was a large-scale shopping center within Ocean Sky Cloud City. It would be quite convenient for Tian Si to change clothes there. Plus, Luo Nan had rode the slippery back of the devil ray to do some firefighting at Gear. His body was covered with dirt and ash, and the white coat he wore was beyond recognition. His face was probably no better. He needed to clean himself up.
The group of people took the elevator down. They headed toward the shopping center.
Luo Nan didn't intend to immediately meet up with He Yueyin and the others. This was primarily because the just-established internal channel on the Psychic Wave Network had quickly been maxed out by the chaotic stream of information.
Luo Nan had handled things impulsively today, and the others had downloaded photographic and video evidence of this from the network. They went into complete chaos, and Luo Nan didn't know how he should respond for a time.
When he was emotionally excited, he hated not being able to face the world and speak of the greatness of his mother's work. But now, his mood had ebbed away, and his rationality had returned. He knew that the secrets within must never be divulged to outsiders.
How should he respond to the others? What a troubling matter.
Unfortunately, he was too tired to rack his brain. He might as well continue being stubborn and talk later.
Xue Lei wanted to say something about the way Luo Nan did things, but he didn't open his mouth. Zhou Hu completely listened to Luo Nan's plans. As for Tian Si, she acted like a marionette. Whatever Luo Nan said was law.
The group arrived at the 101st floor and found a brand store nearby. They went to purchase clothes.
Luo Nan just washed his face and threw away his white gown. He would first make do with everything else. As for Tian Si, no matter how much she would have to make do, she would need to spend a bit of time. The three guys just stood waiting in the store.
Xie Junping's call came at exactly this time. He pelted Luo Nan with a question, "Where the hell did you go?"
Luo Nan glanced at the dazzling lineup of women's clothing. "I'm buying clothes."
Xie Junping clearly choked for a second. He paused, before asking, "Where's Leister?"
"He's with me. What's going on?"
Xie Junping chuckled, "It's nothing. It's nothing. I'm just asking. Both of you two suddenly disappeared. Tang Yi came over just now, and we couldn't find you two at all."
Luo Nan suddenly thought of something. He turned a bit to the side, and his eyes brushed past the most striking fixture outside the store—the central crystal pillar spanning over a hundred forty stories of the building. The devil ray was swimming about inside, attracting quite a few guests to stop and watch.
"Ask Yao Feng for me, about how much the price of that Mutant devil ray is."
"So it really was—” Xie Junping coughed hard, “It's nothing, something went down the wrong pipe."
The sudden rise in pitch was forcefully suppressed; this was how Xie Junping concluded things. Xie Junping's latter words were given to deal with his companions on his side, but as he spoke to Luo Nan again, he dialed his voice down into a whisper. He couldn't refrain from shivering in excitement.
"Nanster, Y-y-y-you... it really was you? The Internet is going to explode, don't you know!? Yao Feng just got the news and is under pressure. Oh right, he shouldn't have recognized that it was you!"
"Then he's quite retarded."
Luo Nan didn't want to keep talking, so he just reminded Xie Junping, "I'll be over in a bit. Don't forget to ask him the price."
He hung up the call upon saying this.
Luo Nan admitted to himself that asking Yao Feng the price of the devil ray was an impulsive thought. He really liked looking down at Gear from the sky, experiencing marvelous feelings and appreciating the beauty of the building to the limits. It naturally was ideal to obtain the devil ray for himself.
Of course, more realistic factors were at play.
The power of the Mutant devil ray's fleshly body was tyrannical. In addition to that, its muscles were pliable, tough, and top-notch. It could control them extremely well. It could be used for many purposes, mostly acting as a substitution for Luo Nan's weak fleshly body and for doing some antagonistic work.
Possessing this weapon-companion was a key factor in Luo Nan's survival for the future.
Luo Nan was truly tired. He was in the clothing display area, and he simply sat on a stool meant for trying on shoes. He flipped open his notebook, and the flexible e-ink screen lit up.
He subconsciously opened the second layer of the drawing software, and the lustrous star river nearly dazzled his eyes. The heart lantern of the eyes orifice, under the effects of coupling, practically swept clear the turbid dark clouds within the star river. The eight extremes were illuminated, and the myriad of Life Sketches formed hundreds and thousands of constellations. They revolved inside and outside the Format Pyramid, rising and sinking. This was a grand star atlas, practically drawing one's mind within.
Luo Nan didn't look at it carefully, and just exhaled with a low sigh. He returned to the upper layer of the software and easily created a blank interface. His electronic pen drew out lines. The pen soared as it went up, and it paused as it went down. It moved chaotically, drawing out an unknown composition.
Xue Lei was standing by his side when he suddenly said, "Nanster, why don't you transfer me over to that Order Club you're in."