“Edward was certainly no low-ranking Black Nest member, having key evidence in his hand that proved CTOS was not only used in public facilities.”
“It’s okay to hand over the evidence to the police just as it is,” Zhang Heng said.
Ponytail and Philip glanced at each other and sighed, “It would be great if it were so simple. Black Nest has very complicated origins. Although they are a relatively new tech company established only ten years ago, their territory has expanded rapidly all over the world. Throughout Europe, hundreds of small technology companies merged with them, but the source of funds behind the organization has always been a mystery. A mega project like this would be impossible without the help of powerful people. The enemy we are about to face is a behemoth of unprecedented proportions!”
“I’m sorry for what we did to you, but this is a special time. At a time like this, we don’t know who else to trust,” Ponytail apologized.
“Then why do you trust me now?”.
“Mainly… it’s because Little Boy is in your hand,” Waldo hesitated.
“We want to help Edward not only out of friendship but also because we don’t want to live in a closely monitored world. We always say that we can’t have both security and privacy at the same time. Sometimes you have to sacrifice some of your privacy to live safely in this world. Since Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web, it is still a controversial topic and an ongoing debate. This time, whatever Black Nest Company has done obviously crossed the line. The bottom line is, we can’t stand there and watch it happen anymore. We have to do something about it,” Philip, the security consultant, added, “But first, we must ensure the safety of 01 team members.”
The girl in the baseball cap with the username Little Boy on the forum was still rubbing her bruised wrist caused by Zhang Heng. She stared at him with a hostile glare.
Ponytail looked a bit helpless.
“We don’t believe you, but we don’t have many options,” he said, “When we go against the Black Nest, our only advantage is that our enemy doesn’t know about our existence. Otherwise, Black Nest wouldn’t need to come up with strategies to deal with us; they could just control us directly. In other words, it is highly unlikely that you are siding with them.”
“No, there is another possibility. Black Nest wants to use us to find the whereabouts of Edward,” Little Boy said. This was the first time she spoke in front of Zhang Heng. He finally knew why she chose Little Boy as her username. Not only did she dress up like a boy, but her voice also sounded neutral. As she spoke, she continued staring at Zhang Heng
But what surprised her was that the guy in front of her seemed to be distracted at this vital moment.
Zhang Heng had been thinking about another possibility. A quest with such confrontation between factions had apparent loopholes. For example, players could freely change factions according to the development of the situation at a particular stage of the game. Or, everyone could choose not to join sides at first and agree to all join the same side after meeting. This could significantly reduce the difficulty of the game.
This quest was different from the Apollo Program Training Camp, with no limit on how many players could enter. In theory, as long as everyone chose the same side, everyone would be able to complete this quest.
The system, however, obviously took this loophole into consideration. After the members of the 01 guerrillas finished telling the story about Edward, a familiar voice came into Zhang Heng’s ear, asking him to complete the faction selection within five minutes. He was told that once he chose his side, he wouldn’t be to make any more changes.
Generally speaking, two factors had to be taken into account in the selection of the faction. One was the strength of the faction. For now, CTOS was undoubtedly stronger, and the 01 guerrillas were more like an improvised mob.
The thing that Philip did in the casino was indeed impressive, and in all fairness, they did a good job at the mall as well. Putting aside their mediocre acting skills for a moment, the plans that they had come up so far were still very good. If their opponent weren’t Zhang Heng, they would have probably gotten what they wanted by now. However, this did not change the fact they were in an absolutely disadvantageous position. Since this was a game, the player’s choices greatly impacted the story’s development. Nonetheless, Zhang Heng still hadn’t encountered any players so far.
This didn’t make much sense. If the 01 guerrillas were the key to approaching Edward, it would be impossible that Zhang Heng was the only one who found them. He also didn’t think that crossing paths with Phillip and Justina in the casino was out of pure luck—especially after the conflict between the two and the casino staff at that time. Although many people in the casino noticed the incident, he was the only one who caught up with Philip afterward.
Taking into account the two factions given by the system, Zhang Heng could confirm that the players’ starting points significantly differed from each other. And the clues that everyone encountered had to be different as well. Since players were given a limited time to choose a side, it prevented players from selecting the same faction after the discussion.
In other words, it was easy to choose a side, and Zhang Heng did not need to think about other players too much.
“Putting my problem aside, if you can’t just call the police, how do you plan to stop CTOS then?” Zhang Heng asked Ponytail.
“Edward has contacted several prominent media outlets and famous international documentary directors. He wants to disclose the evidence he has on hand, but it will certainly cause him massive problems. The only reason why he hasn’t been found by the Black Nest yet is that he knows them very well… and he’s managed to hide himself well too. For now, the Black Nest still has a gentle attitude towards him, and they hope that he can return to them soon.
“They value Edward’s talents very much, but everything has a limit, and he’s not completely indispensable to them. The successful launch of CTOS will always be their priority. Once they discover what Edward’s true intentions are, they will not hesitate to treat him as a serious threat. Our task is to ensure that the news can be successfully published, and at the same time, help Edward avoid the Black Nest hunters.”
Ponytail hesitated, but since he had revealed so much, it did not make much sense to keep the rest of the information from Zhang Heng. So, he decided that he would tell him everything. After that, though, he looked at Zhang Heng nervously.
“You told me that you have one more friend, not Edward, and he was supposed to be arrested. Is it true, or did you say that just to get rid of me?”
Waldo scratched his head, “It is a half-truth, and we do have a friend who is in trouble. Our next plan is to rescue him. But not in Rodez. We wanted to use fake news to get rid of you.”
Zhang Heng pondered for a while and looked at the people of the 01 guerrillas in front of him, “I know that there’s a lack of trust between us after what happened earlier. But since we will inevitably continue to work together in the future, allow me to show you my sincerity.”