Chapter 9: The Four Divine Monarchs
The room was exquisitely decorated, a hundred square meters, and yet uncomplicated and luxurious.
Decorations lined the walls, fine examples of old French décor, sporting hand-polished copper wall sconces plated in gold which bathed the lavish quarters in light. The large pendant lamp hanging from the ceiling was itself copper and plated gold, but with the addition of gold inlay, enamel and more. Above it’s oval make burned over a hundred candles, their stems veined with pale gold coiled dragons, and each topped with a gentle flame.
In the middle of the chamber was a long table, capable of accommodating twenty people. The head and foot of the table were curved, becoming straight as they drew towards the ends and extending.
The table top sported a simple decorative pattern, bestowing a vivid and lively sensation. Under closer inspection, the pattern didn’t appear burned into the wood, but rather raised. In fact it was composed of various splinters of bark, of many different colors, polished and joined flawlessly into the surface to create the beautiful and classical pattern.
The twenty chairs on either side of the table were made of a single piece of wood, the backs of each deliberately carved into arches to completely conform with the human figure. Even after sitting for lengthy periods, one would not feel exhausted or uncomfortable. The hollowed-out decorations of the chair were carved into the likeness of two standing eagles, their eyes and feathers detailed perfectly, and like the tabletop composed of polished bark fragments fused together.
The table came from the Francesco ‘Black Dragon’ line. In the previous era, the brand was Italian, and produced a myriad of furniture exclusively for European royalty.
At present, many of the chairs lining the table were occupied. At it’s head sat an elderly gentleman in his sixties, with sleek and meticulously kept long silver hair. His black formal attire delineated him as nobility.
The atmosphere of the room was oppressive, no one spoke, with only the faint sound of breathing in the air. Upon the table sat seven cups of water, untouched.
Bang, bang! resonated from the door of the chamber.
“Enter,” the old man’s deep voice responded.
The door opened and a scholarly middle-aged man entered, clad in a white Armani suit, a rim of gold around his eyes. He moved quickly to the elderly gentleman’s side, and placed a piece of paper before him on the table.
“Did you find out?”
The scholar nodded his head slightly. “Yes, President Luo.”
“Tell them.” The old man waved his hand for him to proceed.
The middle-aged man stood beside the elderly gentleman, sweeping his eyes over those gathered at the table. Ultimately his gaze landed on a beautiful, pale face, with pity in his eyes.
“Greetings ladies and gentlemen. I am Guo Xin, Head of the Heavenly Auction House Intelligence Bureau. In regards to the theft of the Cipher Box, we’ve completed our preliminary investigation.”
Upon hearing this sentence, the previously inattentive Leng Lingxi suddenly bolted to her feet. Grinding her teeth she growled “Who? Who was it?”
Guo Xin looked sympathetically upon Leng Lingxi, her first important mission and she was robbed. He understood well this special young woman’s feelings.
“Please be patient, Miss Leng.”
Director Luo raised a hand towards Leng Lingxi, indicating she sit. The young woman took several deep breathes before returning to her seat.
Gui Xin continued. “From our analysis of the scene, the Number T-25 Space Shuttle ferrying Miss Leng Lingxi and her twenty-two person convoy suffered no damage, but for a temporary malfunction in it’s internal controls. Thanks to meticulous attention to detail and a faint trail, we were able to issue a preliminary report.”
“The culprit likely approached the shuttle mid-flight via Mecha, drawing near under cover as the ship decelerated for atmospheric entry. Then, through some unknown means, he simulated an interplanetary magnetic current which permitted him to enter the shuttle’s hull without a trace. The Mecha itself was attached to the shuttle’s frame.”
“Our suspect then entered the ship, moving directly to First-Class. His sense of timing must have been exemplary, as he arrived just as the First-Class passengers were being revived from Deep Sleep. Employing electric current, he managed to incapacitate everyone with the exception of Miss Leng. He then proceeded to paralyze Miss Leng, and abscond with the Cipher Box.”
“In the process of the robbery he engaged in combat with Miss Leng Lingxi. None of the other passengers were hurt in the process. At present the only thing we aren’t sure of is how he managed to pass through the shuttle’s hull, enter the ship and leave without haste.”
Director Luo tapped the tabletop with a finger, interrupting Guo Xin’s report.
“You’re conclusion. I want to hear your deduction.”
Guo Xin paused, his previously impassive expression becoming more serious. “At present, our conclusion is that what the culprit told Miss Leng Lingxi was no falsehood – he truly is Zeus. Zeus, of the Divine Monarchs.”
The previous silence of the chamber became a cacophony, with shock clearly written on nearly everyone’s face.
“Impossible, it’s impossible! That bastard… how could that bastard possibly be Zeus?” Leng Lingxi sprung up once more, like a cat who’d had their tail stomped on. “How could Zeus have done such a despicable thing, robbing like a common Space Pirate! Inconceivable, my Zeus would never do such a thing!”
Her voice was nearly hysterical, drawing everyone’s eyes to her.
“Your Zeus?” Director Luo looked at her quizzically.
Leng Lingxi’s face grew red. “Zeus is my idol. How could he know…” It was then it seemed, before her very eyes, that detestable laughing face appeared.
Guo Xin interjected. “Zeus’ sphere of control is Electricity. If someone wanted to covertly enter a shuttle to commit a crime, and overpower you, I’m afraid it could only be accomplished by someone of his Level.”
The expression in Leng Lingxi’s eyes was lifeless. She suddenly remembered the young man’s words as he departed.
“You’re a girl of quality, a girl of vision.”
Sure… Surely it couldn’t be true? But… but he kept saying I was an idiot! The scoundrel!
“Silence!” Director Luo’s commanding voice brought stillness once more to the chamber. “With the loss of the Cipher Box, my Heavenly Auction House has suffered greatly. The envoy responsible, Leng Lingxi, is demoted to Rank Two. Cancel all protection missions, and suspend all escorts for three months. As to the identity of the culprit, I will proceed with verification. Dismissed!”
Director Luo was the first to leave, followed by Guo Xin. The others followed afterward.
Leng Lingxi sat, unmoving.
Her left index finger gently rapped the tabletop, and in her heart she thought, He is Zeus!
Her right index finger gently rapped the tabletop, and in her heart she thought, He is NOT Zeus!
Over, and over, and over.