Remove These Shackles, and Grant Me Freedom
“Jiang Chen is coming back?”
I’m getting the flip out of here!
“Relax, Big Bro; you misunderstood. He won’t come back. Coming back would only ruin his plan.”
After listening to the whole analysis, I wagged my hand. “Well, scared me there. Also, stop calling me Big Bro. You’re considerably older than I am; it’s awkward for me.”
Yuan Kou jerked in surprise at the revelation, then started to feel embarrassed before once again showing admiration. “Although I am older, at the end of the day, you are my superior. I ought to show due respect. But you truly are a man with a big heart. That being the case, your brother shall follow your instructions…”
“Call me ‘Sir’.”
“Ah? Yes, sorry, Sir.”
You already want to be my brother? If I leave you unchecked for a few days, are you going to start calling my ancestors grandpa and grandma?
“Give me the details. What exactly is Jiang Chen up to? Who is he after?”
“Please allow your subordinate to report.”
Wow, you sure got into role fast. You must’ve been dying to work for the government.
“This one monitored every minute detail in the base ever since he came here. Recently, he discovered a big secret and, based on it, confirmed that Jiang Chen plans to kill all of us.”
“Yeah, and that’s what I’m waiting to hear more about.”
The more I heard, the straighter my hairs stood up. By the end, I couldn’t help gasping. “Can’t we get out, though?”
“This one went to check in order to check his suspicion…”
By the time I finished listening to Yuan Kou’s last discovery, I was speechless. I never would’ve thought Jiang Chen could be so cold blooded. We were defenceless, would be subject to hell, and he was dead set on killing us. By a stroke of fortune, perhaps not even he realised that we’d discover his fool-proof plan before he could complete it. The element of surprise was our only hope. Perhaps, he never thought I’d be the wrench in his plan.
“I called everyone here for an extremely pressing matter.”
Save for “Zero” and her personal subordinates, pretty much all outsiders to Fiends’ Genesis had gathered in my room. With Gu Xianxian, Ning Zhuoru and Yan Jiangnan seated to my left, and Ouyang, Teng and Lang Qing to my left, Yuan Kou stood beside me to help conduct the meeting.
“Nobody here is an outsider.”
That line of mine prompted everyone to look to each other as if to ask, “You’re one of us?” or “You’re one of us, too?” Accordingly, I let them have their little moments. Ouyang Xiucai, of course, was the most lost man as he was the only one who couldn’t understand the eye signals.
“Mr. Zero isn’t here,” stated Ouyang Xiucai.
“Of course not. Imagine if Zero was here,” responded Yuan Kou. “Today’s conversation must be kept a secret from everyone affiliated with Fiends’ Genesis. If anyone lets a word slip, hmph,” he added with the domineering aura of his true identity.
Everyone was rather taken aback at Yuan Kou’s bold tone of speech toward Ouyang Xiucai. Teng squinted, while Ouyang Xiucai replied, “You’re…”
Yuan Kou smirked. “Ouyang Xiucai, my knuckles taste good, hey?”
“It was you!”
Ouyang Xiucai jumped to his feet and sent his palm toward Yuan Kou’s face. Expecting the violent reaction, Yuan Kou brushed the attack aside without needing to move from his feet or torso.
Having confirmed Yuan Kou was the man in black, Ouyang Xiucai thundered, “Brother Wu, what is the meaning of this?”
“Brother Ouyang, Ol’ Yuan, you two barely even exchanged a few moves; it can’t even be counted as a fight. You two don’t have any enmity between you. Calm down and sit down.”
“You’re right. I didn’t pursue him for a personal vendetta. His origins are fishy, and his behaviours are suspicious. How can I work with him if I don’t know the truth?”
“Aren’t we getting to that? You interrupted me.”
With that, Ouyang Xiucai was willing to return to his seat, although not without stopping to think first.
“Okay. To tell the truth, nobody here is an outsider. Some know who I am, as well. Let’s do this. I’ll start: I’m not Wu Ping.”
I received an unexpectedly quiet response. Ouyang Xiucai was the only one to react with disbelief. Lang Qing remarked, “I knew that.”
Ouyang Xiucai questioned, “So who exactly are you?”
“I was the captive held in the dungeon. I’m a constable of Liu Shan Men. Understand now?”
“Everyone here knew?”
Gu Xianxian and his wife nodded, whilst the others shook their heads. “Never heard about it.”
How the hell are all of you so calm, then?!
I took advantage of Ouyang Xiucai’s speechless moment to tell them everything, including a rough recount of how I distorted the perception of time to kill Kuanggu Sheng.
“Brother Ouyang, a man as smart as yourself knows we public servants oppose Jiang Chen. I’m not his enemy because I did something bad. He is the one who confined me, so I had to defend myself. You’re not his ally, so there’s no reason for you to oppose me, right?”
Based on what I knew about Ouyang Xiucai, he was an upright man. Therefore, I wasn’t concerned he’d tell me fibs.
Once he finished musing, Ouyang Xiucai pointed to the others. “But they…”
“They all have their reasons. Lang Qing, you lost to me, and I never demanded your life. Can you work with me, though?”
I interpreted Lang Qing’s silence as a “yes”.
“Going forward, Yuan Kou is Liu Shan Men’s undercover constable. I don’t need to explain any more, right?”
I didn’t expect Yan Jiangnan, Gu Xianxian and Ning Zhuoru to be the most shocked. Their reactions were obviously, “He can even sneak spies in. Thank heavens, we’re on the same side.” I gave them a smile and said, “I’m glad that’s how you feel.”
Ouyang Xiucai scoffed, “You think you can intimidate me with numbers? Are you not afraid I’d tell Zero?”
“Brother Ouyang, you’re a good man. I harbour no ill will towards you. I won’t stop you even if you leave now. As for Zero, once you hear what I have to say, I won’t have to worry about you siding with him or Jiang Chen.”
“So what exactly is it you want to tell us?” queried Ouyang Xiucai.
I gestured with my head for Yuan Kou to speak.
Yuan Kou informed, “This is something I noticed. I discovered Jiang Chen plans to kill all of us.
Everyone: “Jiang Chen is coming back?”
That was my reaction…
Clearly, Jiang Chen had instilled fear in them. Only Lang Qing was excited at the thought of Jiang Chen was returning.
Yuan Kou shook his head. “No.”
When everyone heaved breaths of relief, Lang Qing was the only person to hang his head.
Man, you and your hunger for fights! I don’t want to see Tang Ye in you! I’m going to have to change Tang Ye a second time when I get back now, or he’ll become another you.
“He can kill all of us without returning.”
Ouyang Xiucai: “What do you mean?”
Yuan Kou: “Nobody noticed that we don’t have enough supplies for another five days.”
Hang on. Hear me out…
Before I could piece together my speech to deliver, Yuan Kou explained, “None of you cared to check on the supplies. You all grew complacent and assumed there’d be plenty of water and food. Two things have changed, though. Firstly, since Wu Ping… Sir Wu was brought in, nobody else has been come in. Months before his arrival, no supplies were transported in or out. Second, do any of you know how supplies are brought in?”
Everyone shook their heads.
“I don’t know, and I reckon Zero doesn’t know, either. It’s our most important resource, yet not one of us knows a thing. We don’t know where the supplies are kept, how they’re sent in, and we weren’t even aware that deliveries had been cut off. Have you considered what will happen if this continues?”
Lang Qing: “We’ll run out of supplies.”
“Exactly! I’ve sneaked into the supplies storehouse several times and discovered that there’s not much left in the once full storehouse. Jiang Chen left us with just enough for a few months. He doesn’t even need to lift a finger to trap us here. Since we can’t get out, we’ll have to starve here.”
At this point, everyone understood the gravity of the matter I wanted to talk about. In five more days, we’d start fighting amongst each other inevitably. Even if we were lucky enough to survive, we certainly wouldn’t be unscathed, and we’d still be without sustenance. Accordingly, the corpses strewn around would be our first source of sustenance. Once we had finished going through the corpses, we might very well cave in and start fighting amongst each other. Naturally, the strong would win a few more days to live, but it’d be no different to hell on earth.
Teng: “… Zero can get out.”
“That’s right!” Yan Jiangnan asked, “Are we going to threaten Zero? Is that our ticket out?”
That was pretty much what everyone was thinking. He wasn’t just blindly bold. We really did have a conceivable chance of winning against Zero’s group if we worked together. Sadly, Yuan Kou shook his head and said, “We’ve already considered that.” He spared me a glance, then continued, “Acting on Sir Wu’s orders, I checked the exit and contraptions, where I bumped into Ouyang Xiucai and even had a scrap with him. I found that the contraptions had changed. I doubt even Zero can open the exit now.”
Yuan Kou wasn’t responsible for the tampering traces on the contraption, but it wasn’t because he was an amateur at contraptions. If he was, the perverted organisation wouldn’t have tasked him with keeping surveillance on Jiang Chen. To speak more accurately, they were traces of modification. As long as someone amongst Fiends’ Genesis was willing to modify the contraption and then commit suicide, it was entirely possible, especially given how many martyrs they had. To sum up, we couldn’t escape even if Zero agreed to let us go.
Yuan Kou sighed. “Luckily, we unearthed the plan in time. If we put our minds and hands together, perhaps there is hope of escape.”
Yuan Kou said what everybody was hoping for.
“I’m surprised you noticed,” Ouyang Xiucai expressed in admiration.
“Jiang Chen is a shrewd man, and he was particularly careful with this plan, attacking us where we were most complacent.”
“Then, how did you…”
“According to Jiang Chen’s plan, we were supposed to only find out we were out of supplies and trapped ten to twenty days from now. Starting from a few days ago, though, I kept hearing the kitchen workers talk about a food shortage. Chicken, duck, fish and even lamb were running out fast; once, ten serves of lamb went missing in one go. That’s when I started piecing things together. I immediately went to check the supplies storehouse and discovered the food shortage, which eventually led me to Jiang Chen’s plan. The credit for the discovery belongs to one individual.”
Everyone cast their gazes my way.
That’s right! It was all thanks to me! I exposed Jiang Chen’s plans pre-emptively with just my appetite. Thank me! I am the miscalculated variable in his masterplan!
Gu Xianxian: “So you were the one who ate all the bloody food!”
Ning Zhuoru: “Are you actually a pig?”
Yan Jiangnan, with his eyes red, cried, “You ate all that while I ate all those horrible things?! And that much, for that matter?!”
Teng: “… Ten serves of lamb in one meal? Ten?”
Lang Qing: “I believe you finished all the wine, too?”
Ouyang Xiucai: “Brother Wu, please take responsibility.”
Why am I the first victim of this new alliance?! Let me explain myself.