Chapter 337: Soloer
Zhang Yingying stammered a bit when Luo Nan asked this question. The words she just spoke were all driven by her emotions. They were an attempt to evoke Luo Nan's emotions, so Zhang Yingying didn't pay particular attention to her choice of words. How was she to know that this guy, Luo Nan, would be apathetic to the extreme, and even have the leisure to answer her question with a question?
Zhang Yingying had no choice. She could only improvise on the fly, "Yes, you understand now. When one wears a mask, one gains an additional layer of protection. It is easier to let loose with this protection. Aren't there performance styles with people wearing masks on stage? In those performances, the expressive power of the limbs is regarded as more important than the face. You don't need to worry about ugly appearances. The audience will even naturally imagine it. Don't people say that imagination is more beautiful than reality?"
Zhang Yingying's logic was a complete mess by the end. Even she was about to facepalm.
But she never expected that Luo Nan would really be dragged into the ditches by her. "You're saying that this is a show, and I am to engage as a new character. This way I can lessen the pressure?"
The power of imagination had exploded!
Zhang Yingying had accidentally saved Luo Nan with her completely broken logic. She immediately seized this chance and fiercely nodded her head from the other side of the call, saying, "Yeah, yeah! Haven't you seen those Internet trolls? A lot of them make good money and have good education in real life. They express themselves so virtuously in front of people in everyday life, but they talk bullshit when they go online in anonymity. That's how they vent and relieve stress! Just think. This is human nature. Your behavior on the Internet and your own nature are certainly different!"
Luo Nan conscientiously thought about his own Internet life before responding, "It seems like there's not much difference for me."
Zhang Yingying took in a deep breath before spitting out word after word with gritted teeth, "Then you go learn. Learn how others vent. Learn how others let loose. Otherwise, you will just keep on stressing out like this, and you'll break down sooner or later! You don't need to think about much else. In the entire firm, only me and the boss know your identity—"
"Peony doesn't know?"
"Of course she doesn't. She's a newcomer—"
"A newcomer? What does she do in your firm?"
"What else can she do? The boss just unearthed her and has yet to arrange a specific task for her. Then a project just so happened to come along, so we let her coordinate for experience."
Luo Nan felt like his heart was stabbed with a knife. Not only did he not relax, he turned gloomy. "A newcomer is this amazing. What did she do before?"
Zhang Yingying lost her patience. "It was boss's good eyes. I think she had been observing her for quite some time. It was only recently that the boss recruited her. I'm not too certain of her past. She wasn't part of the Society, nor an Order. She also has no relationships with the military. Who knows where she spawned from? She’s super mysterious…. Oh right, don't you be intimidated by her. She's just a stage performer, just an assistant and messenger. The important person in question is you!"
Luo Nan wanted to say, "You wouldn't think so if you were in this meeting,” but the words only reached the tip of his tongue when he suddenly felt that something was off. The topic was the same, but today's Zhang Yingying was much more emotional than last week's. She was clearly perturbed.
As soon as the thought formed, the words within Luo Nan's mouth changed, "Uh, do you not like Peony or something?"
Zhang Yingying instantly went silent.
Luo Nan thought back on Zhang Yingying's attitude and suddenly realized, "You can't be competing with her, right!? Are you jealous of the newcomer?"
"...Just go die!" Zhang Yingying was really mad now. She hung up the call.
Luo Nan went, "Uh." His evaluation grew firmer.
Luo Nan was able to make an assessment out of Zhang Yingying's nature, words, and actions. Zhang Yingying probably had a very special position in the Hidden Indigo Firm. She was very much a favorite of Her Majesty Empress Wu. But all of a sudden, the newcomer Peony came out of nowhere. She was extremely brilliant in handling affairs, and her abilities were very powerful. She likely gave Zhang Yingying a dangerous feeling.
These thoughts and feelings were very subtle, subtle enough that perhaps even Zhang Yingying wasn't conscious of them. But they were laid bare in a few words by Luo Nan in quite a rude and impetuous manner. Honestly, this was very disrespectful of Luo Nan. He got off easy with Zhang Yingying merely hanging up the phone and not blocking him.
Luo Nan scratched his head. He started getting a headache over figuring out how to apologize to Zhang Yingying. In the end, he wasn't someone who was good with words. He could only leave a message on the Psychic Wave Network.
"I spoke wrongly. I'm sorry…. Also, thank you. I understand now."
Luo Nan's prior words were very clumsy, but they were also very sincere. However, the later few words had false intentions.
Understand? He understood in principle, but in practice, his thoughts were far from clear. As time passed, Luo Nan even felt that doing these things wasn't that significant.
Relax? Would relaxing let those enemies, who were akin to tigers watching their prey, give up? Would it change the pursuit of their goals?
He had the time to mull over these matters. He might as well sink into his mind and do some school work exercises.
But then someone in the shuttle made a low cry all of a sudden. A muffled boom soon followed. Something heavy had smashed into the vehicle's window, and this brought new and louder shouts.
Everyone in the vehicle all turned to look. Most of these people were messaging others online. They had been unaware of what was going on outside the windows. During their befuddled states, a fellow wearing a baseball cap was spotted through an open window. He cursed from afar and gave the middle finger.
"F*CK! We lost another, zero to three. I'll kick you all in the balls!"
Luo Nan understood now. The electric shuttle had passed the open-air field. An athlete in the middle of training had lost control of his foot, kicking the ball into the shuttle's window.
This was supposed to be a minor matter, but some of the students in the shuttle found a common topic, and someone faced the fellow wearing the baseball cap. He said, "Team Pathfinder's level this year is full of drunkards, losing to even Yunshang, zero to three. They even recruited Clark."
"Clark, what a soloer. He just knows how to run a hundred meters down the sidelines. He must be using this as a chance to train for track and field. How much is the track and field society giving him as a sign-on bonus?"
"Hellooo, he ran down the entire field. That's nearly twenty kilometers. Are you up for the task?"
"Up for picking weeds? I'll break an ankle on the turf by the time we get through the whole field…."
"You're right. Lando Field is very crappy. It's absolutely not suitable for our school. We should switch to a more responsible sponsor. Who wants to start a petition with me?"
The atmosphere in the shuttle grew livelier and livelier. A lot of people who had been silent while the vehicle was in motion broke their silence. They participated in the game discussion. Some people even went to the school message board to petition, while some took the opportunity to get the female students’ numbers. There were plentiful gains.
Luo Nan didn't care for such things. He raised his eyes to look, and was about to go back into his own train of thought and world when he saw that Xue Lei was also exchanging numbers with people, and was discussing topics involving Clark.
Luo Nan was inexplicably shocked. "You know this person?"
“Of course, Clark Kembo, the athletic star of the school. Lightning of the field. Rumor has it that soon he'd be able to enter the city's team. I saw his matches before, back when school started. He wasn't as rough with his feet as people are saying now."
Xue Lei spoke as if this was the most obvious thing on earth. Then, he became shocked as well. "You don't know!? His posters are all over the classroom buildings in the school!"
Luo Nan's mouth gaped. He looked once more at his peers chattering away within the vehicle, and his heart inexplicably fell. He opened his mouth again several seconds later and asked, "Do you also know about Jungle Owl and what it is?"
"Of course, man. They're our school's gaming clan. They play Ten Days in the Wilderness. They lost quite horribly in the Autumn Games last month…. Did you run into a member of Jungle Owl? Who?"
"I didn't," Luo Nan muttered. He turned his head to look out the window, scanning the campus subconsciously.
Xue Lei was completely confused. "What's wrong?"
"It's nothing. I just feel that I stay at home too much," Luo Nan laughed, not saying much else.
Actually, he had spoken another lie. His current assessment of himself couldn't be merely described as staying at home too much.
Xue Lei concentrated on his martial arts, while Peony joined the Hidden Indigo Firm. They each engaged in their own activities, acquiring a certain distance from the world of normal people. However, they didn't lose perception of their surrounding environment.
Luo Nan was far too dull in comparison.
The shuttle made its way leisurely to the auditorium, and the student passengers went off and on in-between. The subject of the soccer ball had vanished into thin air, as if nothing had happened.
Luo Nan got off the shuttle and deliberately turned his head to look around. His gaze soon cut into the area surrounding the bustling auditorium. A week ago, it was here that he tempered the eyes orifice. He was familiar with each blade of grass and each tree. He also had the number of steps in the flight of stairs in his mind. The faces of people who were often active here were a bit familiar looking to Luo Nan, but that was all.
After all, these were merely temporary targets of his observation. There wasn't any deeper information to be acquired. There wasn't any meaning.
Luo Nan harbored this sort of understanding all this time. But as he returned to this place today, a certain feeling suddenly dawned upon him: He and this auditorium, the surrounding plaza, and even the entire school, were totally incompatible.
Things were like this two months ago when he had just entered the school, and things were still like this now.
This feeling of his was not a good one.
Luo Nan and Xue Lei didn't have time to waste. They simply entered the forest that surrounded the north bank. They made a few turns and arrived in front of Gear. The smell of smoke and ash seemed to remain.
The construction team had finished today's work by now. They left one by one, reducing the presence of people.
Hu Huaying was already waiting at the entrance by the time Luo Nan arrived. Besides him, there waited also the supervisor and the project manager. It looked like today’s activity was going to be a formal inspection.
Hu Huaying immediately introduced everyone, being positioned in-between, and Luo Nan nodded in greeting. Luo Nan didn't intend to go deeper into conversation. He also didn't immediately go inspect. Instead, he went to ask for Xie Junping.
Previously, the young master of the Xie Family was forging on ahead, but all of a sudden he was nowhere to be seen. Luo Nan really did want to see him. With Xie Junping present and chatting up a storm, wouldn't things be lively?
"Old Xie has been acting quite mysteriously lately. It probably has to something to do with Sissy Du. They're doing some fasting cultivation."
Luo Nan accidently heard the biggest joke in Xia City. He couldn't help grinning. Hu Huaying also couldn't but laugh, "Waking up at six a.m. Going to sleep at nine p.m. He has maintained this for five days."
"Oh, that's not easy…. But having order in life is a good thing. He has perseverance."
The Sissy Du who Hu Huaying just mentioned was the former president of the Mystic Arts Research Society, Du Yong. Luo Nan only met him once before. He wasn't too familiar with him. He just knew that Du Yong was a bit neurotic, albeit a decent person.
They started to talk about Gear after a few words of idle chatter.
The project manager maintained his silence, while the supervisor explained. Luo Nan didn't really listen. Nothing but the installation of wiring, the maintenance of various systems, and related things were said.
Luo Nan made grunts and okays in response. He wasn't a technical person; he just checked the contract commissioned to the supervisor. It was just that things didn't merely involve construction. The supervisor's spy work was played quite swimmingly, protectively, and so on.
Luo Nan would be damned to trust him!