The Creatures That We Are - C.430: Three Groups

The Creatures That We Are

C.430: Three Groups

In the room, everyone waited quietly, either standing or sitting.

In less than ten minutes, Chen Ying opened the door to the bathroom.

This time, she didn’t look panicked and pale like before, but only a little tired. “I got information on Dick’s friend from the intelligence agency, but I only got a fake name on the prostitute.”

Officer Huang said, “Makes sense. People with such jobs usually use fake names.”

“Can you draw the two of them, Chen Ying?” Gao Yang paused and added, “And give us the detailed address to where we’ll find Dick’s friend from the intelligence agency.”

“Okay.” Chen Ying grabbed her briefcase and took out the sketchbook and pencil she always carried with her, starting to draw their portraits. Psychometry significantly improved her ability to draw from her memory.

Twenty minutes later, the portraits were down. The sketches were lifelike and vivid.

Gao Yang checked his phone. It was five o’clock in the morning.

He thought for a moment and looked up at Qing Ling and Officer Huang. “Let’s split up. Green Snake, Yellow Ox, go back to the warehouse and stake out nearby. The chance that Hyena and Astronaut show up is slim, but perhaps we’ll get lucky. Remember to maintain your distance and prioritize safety.”

“Got it,” said Officer Huang.

Qing Ling nodded.

Gao Yang turned to Lithe Snake and Nainai. “The two of you, go to Dick’s friend at the intelligence agency. Nainai, make sure if he’s a regular human, awakener, wanderer, or elite monster with Shapeshifter. If he is a wanderer, Lithe Snake, question him like you would a regular person and have him speak the truth.”

“I know what I have to do,” Lithe Snake said.

Nainai scoffed. “I’ll show you this Empress...”

Without waiting for her to finish, Gao Yang turned to Chen Ying, “Follow me to Dick’s apartment and look for clues, Chen Ying.”

“Okay.” Chen Ying nodded.

Gao Yang clapped lightly. “Keep your phone on and keep in contact.”

The others voiced their acknowledgement before splitting up.

Nainai quickly shrunk down and jumped into Lithe Snake’s breast pocket. Lithe Snake opened the window, jumping out, followed by Qing Ling and Officer Huang.

Holding Chen Ying’s elbow, Gao Yang went up to the window and made it to the empty alley on the side of the hotel with two teleportations.

They left the alley and hailed a taxi, heading to Dick’s place, the exact location of which Chen Ying had found out with Psychometry.

Twenty minutes later, the two of them got out of the car.

Again, Gao Yang grabbed Chen Ying’s elbow and teleported twice to Dick’s window. With Skeleton Key, Chen Ying unlocked the window easily.

They vaulted in. The light was off, but they could make out the general layout of the flat thanks to the moonlight. It was a rectangular studio flat with no division between the living, dining, and sleeping areas. What one saw at first glance was all there was to the flat.

It was obvious that the tenant was an unmarried man. Jackets and pants were left on the sofa in messy heaps, and the table was covered in empty beer cans and an ashtray filled with cigarette butts.

On the kitchen counter was a half-filled bowl of milk and cereal. It must be his breakfast.

“Look around,” Gao Yang said as he went off to check the desk and drawers in the room.

Chen Ying turned to examine the bookshelf and paused for a couple seconds.

On the shelf was a framed photo of Dick and his friends and professors when he graduated. He was dressed in black bachelor gown and a square academic cap. Due to his big build, he stood in the back of the group, his bright smile carefree.

Having looked through the desk, Gao Yang went up to Chen Ying. “What did you find?”

Chen Ying shook her head. “I just remembered something.”

Gao Yang didn’t ask and instead turned to search the other places.

Chen Ying started flipping through the books on the bookshelf, saying at the same time, “Seven years ago, Dick was an international student in Li City. I was his upperclassman. We met at a group date, and he started pursuing me...”

Chen Ying paused. Why would she talk about that?

“I’m sorry. That has nothing to do with the mission.”

“It may not be totally unrelated. Keep going.” Gao Yang wasn’t interested in gossip, but there might be unexpected clues to be found in their stories.

Chen Ying was grateful. She did want to talk to someone about it. She didn’t want to keep all of it bottled up.

“Dick wouldn’t take no for an answer, and I went from feeling troubled to feeling worried. I’m scared that Dick might be an elite monster, and that he was testing me because he suspected me of being an awakener... To be safe, I asked Joker to check for me. It turned out Dick was an unawakened human.”

She smiled wryly. “Perhaps humans feel an inherent attraction to one another, and that was why Dick thought he had fallen for me at first sight.”

“At the time, the Hundred Rivers Union sought not only awakeners who shared the same goal, but also regular humans. After all, humans could awaken at any time.”

Chen Ying bent down slightly to look over the second row of the shelf, smiling bitterly with self-mockery. “Ha, how pathetic. But the Hundred Rivers was too weak. We didn’t have a choice...”

Gao Yang didn’t say anything to that. Each organization and each individual had their own way to survive. There was often no right or wrong, only different sides.

“I debated with myself before finally telling Dick the truth. He awakened half a month later,” Chen Ying continued. “Then he graduated. Before going back to the West Nation, he asked me to have a meal with him. He said that he was grateful to me, that he didn’t regret awakening.”

Chen Ying lowered her head, her tone rueful. “I wonder if Dick felt regret and resentment for me before his death. He wouldn’t have died if not for me.”

“I often asked myself the same question in the past.” Gao Yang started checking the bed. “But I stopped.”

Chen Ying said from behind him, “Why?”

“We mistakenly believe that we can change other people’s fate. It’s actually...” Gao Yang thought for a moment and remembered what Dragon had once said. “Arrogant of us.”

“Arrogant.” Chen Ying chewed on the word.

“We all have our own fates, and the changes others bring are part of it. So don’t blame yourself. If something happens to you, you aren’t going to blame others, are you?”

“Thank you.” Chen Ying felt a little better after hearing that.

Then she chuckled in surprise. “I didn’t expect you to be this pessimistic. I thought you were the optimistic type.”

“I’m neither pessimistic nor optimistic.” Gao Yang started with the pillow and was now checking the mattress, his tone somewhat distracted. “I believe in fate, but I don’t submit to fate.”

Chen Ying paused and looked back at Gao Yang.

At that moment, she felt a sense of security and a charisma that inspired trust and loyalty from him, as if following him would lead one to the right path sooner or later.

The young man was only eighteen, but he seemed to have matured much since they last met.

What changed someone wasn’t simple passage of time, but experience.

“Got it.” Gao Yang put down the mattress and turned to Chen Ying, holding a small black device.

Chen Ying came over after a beat and frowned. “It’s a bug.”

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