Yang Chen's mind went into overdrive. The distress in Lin Ruoxi's voice was clear despite the static call. It made his stomach knot up and uneasy.
To this day, he could count on one hand the number of times Lin Ruoxi was submissive. Yet here she was, breaking down over Luo Cuishan and desperately begging Yang Chen not to take any action despite everything Luo Cuishan had done.
When Lin Ruoxi didn't hear his answer, she said with added distress, “The family that she kidnapped in the States, the Xue clan, include my uncle and his family. If anything happens to her, they’ll die.” She sobbed and continued, “My mom and I owe his family too much as of now. I can’t sit here and watch idly as they die for me.”
Yang Chen's heart was burning with turmoil, seeing the typically upbeat and cheerful Ruoxi's being reduced to such a pitiful state, and even his eyes were red-rimmed.
Despite Lin Ruoxi's pained voice sounding out through the call, he still felt an unknown force winding up all his rage into a tight ball in his chest, making it impossible for him to release his pent-up fury.
Luo Cuishan casually packed her things into her handbag and twirled some stray curls of her hair with her finger. “See, your darling wife requested so sweetly for you to spare my life. She's right, you know. It would be wise for you to think this through beforehand. If you want to be the head of the Yang clan, your actions must be based on rational thinking and not impulse. Understood?”
With that, she turned and moved past the cracked ground, sauntering back where she came from.
Yang Chen's face was unreadable but he made no attempt to stop her from leaving. Instead, he directed his next question towards Lin Ruoxi who was still on the line. “Do their lives really matter that much to you?”
Lin Ruoxi audibly choked back her tears, but forced out, “Being threatened is no excuse to sacrifice innocent lives.”
“I understand,” he muttered and ended the call abruptly.
At that same moment, Lin Ruoxi was still in her office. She listlessly slid down from the sofa to the ground to rest on the floor next to the coffee table and gazed at the yellowed photograph on her work desk.
The photograph was a portrait shot of a man and a woman with attractive features. The man looked to be slightly older, with rather unusual features and the woman in the photo was none other than her own mother, Xue Zijing.
Written finely on the bottom corner of the photo were the words ‘Siblings Zifeng and Zijing of the Xue clan’.
Lin Ruoxi laughed self-mockingly and muttered out loud, “Mom, I'm so tired. If only you had left the country back then when you were supposed to…”
The room was empty and dark with the exception of the scenes flashing across the television screen that illuminated a small corner of the room.
At this point in time, Luo Cuishan was just about to leave the villa. However, before she could even take a single step outside, she felt an immense power pulling her body back to the living hall.
She let out a shout of surprise at being lifted up into the air then dropped right onto a coffee table. She was fuming at her treatment but in mild terror at the fact that Yang Chen had somehow managed to do all that without even lifting a finger. She got up and furiously demanded, “What are you doing? Are you trying to get your wife's family killed?!”
Yang Chen wordlessly approached her and reached out his arm to deliver a slap! The sheer force of his open palm against her cheek knocked her back down into the carpet.
Confused and still reeling from the sting of his slap, she couldn't wrap her mind around the situation. Has he gone insane? Is he really going to let the Xue clan die out?
He simply gave her a bland glance and turned his attention to Xue Minghe who was hiding in a corner and scared out of his wits. “Your family, where are they now? Are they still in Philadelphia?”
Xue Minghe gulped and even though he didn't understand why Yang Chen would ask such a question, he shook his head and answered, “N—not anymo—more…”
“Well, where are they now?”
“They moved to Baltimore, Maryland, in the States two years ago.” Xue Minghe couldn't even make eye contact with Yang Chen as he spoke because his aura was too oppressive.
Yang Chen reached for his phone and dialed a number without acknowledging Xue Minghe and Luo Cuishan's confusion.
Once the call went through, Sauron's voice could be heard over the phone.
“Your Majesty Pluto, this is sudden. Do you have an order?” asked Sauron, his voice heavily laced with respect.
“Who's the closest agent to Baltimore, Maryland that can be dispatched?” Yang Chen asked in English.
Sauron paused to gather his thoughts and replied, “For that area, the tactical team on land is made up of retired American soldiers from the Delta Force and the Navy SEALs. Together, they form the elite ‘DSEAL’ mercenaries for hire. They are estimated to be around a hundred or so in numbers. Baltimore is also a port city so if needed, we can use the secret transport route spanning countries like Canada and Norway codenamed ‘maple #039’. On such short notice, we can still deploy at least three destroyers and more than ten Apache attack helicopters.”
Yang Chen muttered to himself, “DSEAL are ours too? When were they added to our payroll?”
“Since last year. But you told us to not bother you with trivial things so I have never gotten the chance to tell you,” Sauron replied.
Yang Chen didn't even remember what he told Sauron. “Well, whatever. Ask them to collect information on the Xue clan from Sea Eagles. The clan members are currently still in Baltimore and have either been kidnapped or covertly surrounded. I need you to resolve this as soon as possible, so as long as the clan's safety isn't compromised. The team can make as much of a racket as possible. You have half an hour. I will not tolerate any longer than that.”
“Copy that.” Sauron immediately carried out his orders without questioning.
Yang Chen ended the call and gazed directly at Luo Cuishan.
Luo Cuishan understood English well enough that even though she was clueless about certain unique terms that Yang Chen used, she could still figure out that he was sending out people to rescue the Xue clan.
“You know, you made two foolish assumptions.” Yang Chen smiled breezily and raised his index finger. “The first mistake was risking your own safety for the clan's lives. That is to say, as long as any news of your demise doesn't reach your men, they won't take any immediate action.”
Luo Cuishan's eyes widened, panicked. She realized what Yang Chen was up to!
Indeed, as long as she was within the villa, she couldn’t notify anyone outside. Even if she had people nearby, they wouldn't be able to receive the orders in time.
Yang Chen lifted another finger and continued sagely, “The second mistake was the most foolish one of all. Of all the fights to pick, you chose to have your fight abroad. Here, you might still possess some measure of influence, but outside of this country, you're worth less than trash.”
Luo Cuishan was mad to the point where her lips turned purple, but she couldn't even open her mouth because of Yang Chen's oppressive power.
Yang Chen laughed again and patted himself on the chest. “To tell you the truth, I can absolutely destroy the entire world even if it is the White House, with the exception of the very earth beneath my feet now!”
The aura was so oppressive that even a Xiantian cultivator could resist. So even though he only released a sliver of it, Luo Cuishan was struggling to remain conscious!
The dark and terrifying energy alone emanating from Yang Chen was enough to dissolve all of her pride and arrogance into nothing. Suddenly, her face twisted, tears rolling down her face as she let out a pained cry.
Xue Minghe who had been watching everything unfold from the corner of the room was astonished as well. On closer look, he noticed that on the carpet that Luo Cuishan was seated on, a small but noticeable water stain was slowly growing larger.
Did the woman get so terrified that she wet her pants?!
Ten minutes later, it was afternoon at Baltimore where the sun was blazing hot.
At the side of a road leading into a residential neighborhood was a Chevrolet sedan. Seated inside and was a hulking Caucasian man talking into his phone, while two other gangly boys were typing rapidly on their computers, searching for something.
“D37, your targets’ numbers are 235 and 214 on the third floor. D48, your targets are number 387 and 552 on the fifth floor. Radio in once you have assumed your positions,” ordered the man on the front passenger seat in an authoritative voice.
“D37 in position.”
“D48 in position.”
“Roger. Landon, can you confirm any enemy activity?” asked the man.
One of the boys in the backseat paused in his typing to reply, “Captain, D55 and D21 apprehended an enemy on the street and D21 proceeded to disguise themselves as them. The plan is going without a hitch. There are five hostiles in total and the remaining four will be taken care of soon.”
The captain held up his communication device and ordered, “Strike team, get ready to lock in on the remaining hostiles. I want a clean take out. D55 and D21, you two are in charge of cleanup. Engage in twenty seconds.”
“Yes sir!” answered the team in unision before the burly man hung up the line. He reached for a can of Red Bull and chugged it down in one go then said to one of the boys in the backseat, “Plan an escape route now and make sure to cut all the lines to the police or any other authorities.”
“Roger that, Captain. This mission is way below our paygrade. The hostiles were not even able to take on a single one of our agents, what a piece of cake,” one of them said offhandedly.
“Shut up!” the captain urged. “We have to take all missions seriously. Besides, it's our first time working under that young hotshot's orders, so we better keep this clean and quick. If we don't finish the mission in time, then we're all dead men.”
The young agent quickly went back to his work without another word.
Just a few minutes later, two muffled sniper shots rang out and screams could be heard from the previously peaceful neighborhood.