“You mean, why would my fingerprint appear on Guo Yue?” Yang Chen let out a chuckle.

“This is where it gets suspicious. After all, fingerprints can’t be faked, but I doubt the Guo family would say nonsensical things. So how on earth would you explain this?” Lin Ruoxi wondered aloud.

Yang Chen plopped down on a stone bench not too far away and began nonchalantly, “Do you still remember the batch of clones by Yan Buwen? I mean, the group of biochemical beings that were cloned from my cells.”

A hint of confusion flashed across Lin Ruoxi’s eyes. “You mean Yan Buwen? Isn’t he dead?”

Yang Chen shook his head. “I’m not claiming that it was him. But his death does not imply the disappearance of his experimental products. After all, we have never seen where Yan Buwen’s laboratory was, have we?”

“How would I know? You guys are always keeping certain things from me. Well, since there’s a possibility, I guess it’s justified.” Lin Ruoxi shrugged. “It’s just that this would mean that the enemy is in the dark while we’re in the open. You must be more cautious. We still don’t know why those people are targeting you from behind.”

Yang Chen chuckled again. “Compared to this matter, I’m more puzzled about the fact that the girl named Wu Xiaoli was, in reality, a trap they had set for me. I would never have thought that I would be deceived by a young maiden like her.”

“Hmph, you must have been having so much fun that your eyes turned blind,” Lin Ruoxi sulked bitterly.

A sullen smile appeared on Yang Chen’s face. “I was not! How would I ever be aroused when a ‘female spy’ was obviously placed by my side?”

“A female spy?”

Yang Chen briefly went over his efforts to probe Sister Luo from last night.

After Yang Chen was done, Lin Ruoxi asked, befuddled, “Since you knew that lady was up to no good, why didn’t you capture her for interrogation?”

“Capture her? She’s nothing more than a pawn. What’s more, I didn’t have the appropriate evidence. If she were to pull tricks and take her own life, that would only get me accused of murder. Why bother?” Yang Chen shrugged.

Lin Ruoxi nodded along, but kept her questions coming. “So, what’s next? I heard that the Liang family is about to engage in a military parade. If that’s the case, they’re sure to push the blame onto you and our family.”

“A military parade?” Yang Chen snickered. “He would still have to be alive to watch it happen.”

“Honey, tell me you’re not planning to…” Lin Ruoxi dared not finish her sentence.

Yang Chen couldn’t be bothered to hide the sinister smile that materialized on his face. He took out his phone and continued, “You’re telling me a mere trifle like the Liang family wishes to turn China’s internals upside down. This is only reasonable; my intervention will only promote domestic stability, that is, sacrifice a few lives in exchange for peace. Perhaps even those under Hongmeng wouldn’t feel as if I’ve done something wrong.”

Just as Yang Chen was about to dial Makedon’s number to confirm the Liangs’ location, he noticed that he had received several consecutive text messages from an unknown number.

He clicked open the notification and his eyes scanned the few paragraphs of text. Thereafter, a touch of relief interspersed with regret clouded his face.

“What’s the matter? Who is it?” Lin Ruoxi asked in concern.

Yang Chen handed the phone to Lin Ruoxi. She quickly caught on that this was an anonymous message from an unidentified sender.

“Thank you for your willingness to help a girl from a poor mountain village like myself. I’m sorry that I can only act in concert with them, for the sake of my parents and my schooling brother.

“They got me infected from a syringe used by AIDS patients. As long as I follow their orders and give my life, my family would be able to receive a lump sum of money without having me to pull them down.

“I know you are good people, but everyone must strive for themselves and their family. I’m sorry…”

Although there was no name, they were very certain as to who the sender was.

These messages were clearly sent during dawn by the girl that had only met once. She must have passed within two hours from then.

Once Lin Ruoxi finished reading the messages, she couldn’t help the tears welling up in her eyes. She returned the phone to Yang Chen and bit her lip. “I now know why you couldn’t spot any loopholes. That’s because she wasn’t acting. She was actually afraid and at a loss. She dreaded having to compromise, but there was nothing she could do. She was only being her truest self.”

Yang Chen nodded silently. He broke out in a smile and said, “This tickles my curiosity. Who is the mastermind this time around? This person’s means is shrewder than Yan Buwen’s.”

In Ning Guangyao’s study, within the Ning’s Residence in Beijing.

Ning Guangyao repeatedly inspected the report in his hands before finally putting it down. As he did so, he began drumming the table with two fingers, still silent.

Sitting opposite him were Ning Xin and Ning De with a cup of tea each. They exchanged a glance in impatience.

“Guangyao, why aren’t you saying anything? Could there be a problem with the report?” asked Ning Xin.

Ning Guangyao returned to his senses and smiled. “Elder, that’s not true. This report is indeed from my comrades back in the Ning family. There is no mistake.”

“If that’s the case, that can only mean that the Yang family is in for imminent disaster. What’s more, it will involve their infighting this time around. Yang Chen is bound by familial relations and may not be able to withstand it. This situation would be the perfect opportunity for the Ning family to intercede and give him a hand. He would surely be grateful and, by then, he would commend your father even with Lin Ruoxi by his side.”

Ning Guangyao’s heart was filled with contempt. What did those two cultivators know? Still, he plastered a smile across his face and said, “You’re right, Elder. But I’m thinking there’s more to it. If the Ning family is able to retrieve this information from the dark, then how is the Li family unaware of any movement when they have the most powerful intelligence network in China? The Yang family’s oblivion could be due to deliberate avoidance, but there’s no way to justify the Li family’s ignorance.”

“You do have a point.” Ning De furrowed his brows. “Aren’t the Lis well-acquainted with the Yangs though? Why haven’t they done anything to defend them?”

“Guangyao believes that the inaction of the Li family is, in fact, smart play.”

“Why is that so?” Ning Xin frowned.

“Elders, may you ponder about this for a minute. The Guo’s father-son duo who went to the Yangs’ to make a fuss was Yang Chen’s biological grandfather and uncle, but it only took one encounter to create a blood feud. If the Guo family themselves hate Yang Chen to this extent, just imagine how the other families feel, those who have suffered losses because of him. It won’t take much reasoning to deduce that Yang Chen has made countless enemies within Beijing. There are way too many wary families who are eyeing this opportunity to compel Yang Gongming into forfeiting Yang Chen. Besides, having so many families join forces together, although Yang Chen is strong, unless he disregards the safety of his family and lets blood shed happen in Beijing, he can only compromise. By that time, be it our Ning family or the Li family, we will all become the crowd’s target, if we make it, it's fine, if we don’t, our image will be ruined as well. One more thing is that the Fourth Prince had advised us to limit the Yang family’s military power. If we can let Yang Chen leave the Yang family for this reason, they won’t be able to hold onto the military power that tightly anymore…”

It was only then did Ning Xin and Ning De nod in unison.

“So, your plan is to leave it? Wouldn’t that be too hurtful towards your daughter?” Ning De asked worriedly.

Ning Guangyao waved his hand with a smile, “It’s fine, I suppose the Yang family will notice the condensation of powers from all directions latest by tomorrow and they will know what’s going on by then. I shall send Ruoxi a message in the evening to ask her to take care and let her know that I want her to come back to the Ning family. She will definitely understand me as her father, no matter if she is willing to return to the Ning family or not, it’s fine, I suppose Yang Chen will not let his wife get hurt.”

“Haha, brilliant! Brilliant! This way, it’s best if Yang Chen emerges unscathed. If he were to leave the Yang family for real, the Ning family can receive the couple in the dark. This would unmistakably increase our odds!”

Seeing the delight on Ning Xin and Ning De’s faces, Ning Guangyao sneered in his heart. In fact, he was eager to find out how Yang Chen would react after all the traps he had set up for him.

At midnight, in the Liangs’ Residence at the Guangdong Military Region.

The special forces of the military district under martial law formed an array of iron barrels around the compound, airtight.

Dozens of tanks and armored vehicles were parked on the site. It was almost as if they were preparing for an expedition.

Apart from the rustling leaves, the entire military region was in absolute silence and sternness.

At this moment, the line of special forces soldiers at the gate of the compound suddenly heard footsteps coming from about a dozen meters away.

Many of them even suspected that they were dazzled. Their feet were stuck to the ground as they unwittingly saw a young man’s figure gradually come into view.