“Leah, a second-year student in the music department of Pierre Mondès University, wasn’t aware of what happened between her brother Edward and Black Nest. Before Edward left Black Nest, he sent her an encrypted email. Black Nest scrambled to scrunch their brains, trying to crack the encrypted email, only to find a 60-second animation of SpongeBob SquarePants in the end.”
“That’s very Edward,” Little Boy praised.
“So, she doesn’t know that he’s in some kind of trouble, right?”
“Yes,” Ponytail answered, “That’s one of the challenges of this rescue mission. We have no idea who the other one is. I was going to contact Leah earlier on to tell her the truth, but Black Nest is keeping a close eye on her right now. They are monitoring her mobile phone, computer, email, and social networks. They haven’t made a move yet because they plan to use her as bait. If we contact her online, they’ll find out for sure.”
“Our initial plan was to paralyze the network that is monitoring her, but we have no idea how to make her believe us and come with us,” Philip scratched his head, “She might even mistake us for human traffickers…”
“Any more detailed information about her?” Zhang Heng asked as he looked at the blue-haired girl on the screen.
Ponytail looked at Waldo.
“Oh, is it my turn?” The latter gleefully rubbed his palms together as a grin formed across his face. He took out a USB flash drive from his pocket, plugged it into the computer, and clicked on a folder. “What is this?”
“It’s all the social information about her that can be found on the Internet, including blogs, Christmas videos on S, the names of the dogs she likes, boys which she had a crush on in junior high, the specific lipstick brand and color that she uses and lots of other things. We may not be able to contact her, but I can still log in to her social accounts and snoop around.”
Instead of accessing the data he was given, Zhang Heng asked Waldo, “Can I learn how to do that too?”
“Of course, I have dozens of ways to hack into social accounts, some of which don’t even require much knowledge about computers,” Waldo said, brimming with confidence when it came to his area of expertise. Little Boy simply snorted. She had just changed her attitude about Zhang Heng because he took the initiative to make peace, but now that she heard he was interested in hacking social accounts, her opinion of him took a sudden plunge.
Fortunately, Ponytail coughed and interrupted the conversation. “Erm… you should discuss this in private later. Let’s just focus on what we need to do now.”
Zhang Heng did not object to that, himself needing to learn how to hack so he could continue to investigate the matter that had happened seventeen years ago. It was not urgent, though, having only been less than a day since the game started. Zhang Heng spent the remainder of his time on the plane sifting through information he could find about Leah. By the time they landed, he had a general idea of who she was.
“Disguise as Gaspard?!” Ponytail exclaimed.
“Yes, Gaspard is one of Leah’s closest acquaintances. The two met in an online music group a year and a half ago and had sent each other thousands of emails and tens of thousands of text messages. Each of them regards the other as their best friend, and most importantly, they have also never met each other. Leah may not believe us, but Gaspard, on the other hand, could coin up a reason, and she would end up leaving with us.”
“That’s not a bad idea… but it’s not going to easy to execute,” Philip said, subconsciously tugging at his hair. He could not imagine how he could disguise himself as Gaspard. Leah would most probably peg him for a sham before he even had a chance to speak. The other members of the 01 guerrillas might be better actors, but they too had their limitations.
Finally, after a long silence, Zhang Heng said, “I’ll do it.”
The lemonade Waldo was sipping on nearly escaped his mouth. “You’ll do it? You’re ASIAN! You’re the least likely candidate!”
“Has skin color been a topic of discussion in their emails and messages?”
“Hang on…” Waldo typed in the keywords and found that the pair had discussed living conditions of ethnic minorities and their musical styles, but had never talked about their skin color.
“That may be so, but you don’t look French at all, and do you know anything about music? If the topic surfaces, your cover will be blown.”
“I’ve played the piano, but I don’t know much about French pop music,” Zhang Heng replied, “But don’t worry, there won’t be a problem tomorrow.” He then glanced at his watch. Twenty hours had passed since he started the quest, and based on the game’s rate of time-flow, he had another ten hours before he had to enter a parallel quest. There, he would have nearly a year-enough time for him to assimilate with the French, and also learn more about pop music. On top of that, there were the 01 guerrillas backing him up in terms of the logistics.
The plane soon landed at Grenoble airport.
Waldo stretched lazily and reluctantly got off from the first-class seat he was in. Once they had disembarked, he and Semiprime went through the formalities of renting a car, while Ponytail went to pick up the luggage. Philip connected to the WiFi to deal with a few days’ worth of accumulated work, leaving Little Boy with Zhang Heng. She made it clear that she wanted no conversation with Zhang Heng as she plugged in her earbuds and started up a game on her console.
Surprisingly, she was playing a very old game -in fact, one might even call it antique.
It was Tetris.
The game was invented in 1984 by a Russian named Alexei Pajitnov. Players could shift, rotate, and place various blocks to form a complete line. When that happened, the line would disappear and the player would be granted points. It once took the world by storm and was popular among all ages.
Little Boy had obviously made some changes to the game’s program. Typically, the game’s difficulty would increase over time, but the one she was playing started at the most difficult level. The blocks fell from the top like a storm-Little Boy was completely focused, her fingers flying all over the screen, dragging, dropping, and shifting the blocks into place in mere microseconds.
This was one level that put the player’s eyesight, speed, and thinking to the ultimate test.
Little Boy lasted for about two and a half minutes before eventually losing.
“Can I try?” Zhang Heng asked.
Little Boy hesitated for a minute, tempted tell him off, but remembered the Ponytail’s instructions before he left. He had told her specifically not to get into conflict with Zhang Heng. Finally, she reluctantly handed the game console to Zhang Heng.