The past five days were difficult for everyone in the team. The sense of threat was always there despite them hiding far from the steel fortress. A squad of Decepticons patrolled right past them every two hours. They almost got discovered in the first few patrols due to the scent of the Autobots they possessed. The team had to back off fifty meters further. Even communication between the two groups became difficult.
“Xuan, what are you really thinking?” Zheng poked the campfire and asked. “It’s only my intuition but I feel that you are scheming something. Same with HongLu. What are the two of you planning to do? Understand that you two are still part of the team no matter how smart you are. Don’t make plans based on however you want.”
Xuan turned around and glanced at him. He did not say anything then continued eating his food, a bunch of bananas he brought from Shelter 1.
Zheng was defeated seeing Xuan didn’t talk. He turned to the other members and especially chatted with Lan. The main focus of conversation was on the psyche scan.
“The area fifty meters beneath the fortress have been converted into several floors. Each of these floors is larger than the fortress above ground and bigger than the original St. Louis. I can’t probe further than fifty meters downward. It feels like it’s being masked.” Lan said with her eyes closed.
A warm breath of air blew by her ear. She opened her eyes in a shock and saw Zheng spoke next to her ear. “Don’t just focus on the scan. Say, what do you think will happen between the two of them?”
Lan was surprised. Zheng gave a nod. She touched her forehead then muttered. “I think the highest possibility is they diverged on the plan concerning nuclear weapons. Or perhaps they both have their own plan regarding nuclear weapons. The details are beyond my ability. Don’t you feel suspicious that HongLu chose YinKong?”
“Suspicious?” Zheng became curious. “Of what?”
“YinKong was the key to stealing the nuclear arsenal password. I can control a person temporarily but I can’t insert a piece of information into a person’s mind and hypnotize him for days like movies and novels depict. The password is dynamic so sneaking to the secret place was their criteria. YinKong could put the CD into the computer while I controlled the president temporarily.” Lan said.
“Yeah, that’s Xuan’s plan. There doesn’t seem to be anything suspicious on this.” Zheng looked to Lan and saw a smile on her face. A thought suddenly struck his mind. “I get it. The CD was in YinKong’s hand during that time. Only she knows what HongLu coud have done on the CD. That’s why HongLu chose her. Her close combat ability is less effective than Kampa and WangXia in enacting the bait plan. Even Gando would be more useful than her.”
Lan just smiled without responding. Her gaze was tender.
Although Zheng still didn’t know what HongLu did but if YinKong helped him complete the plan and hid the fact, it shouldn’t have a big impact on the team. HongLu was still a boy after all. He might be smart but he would get influenced by his emotions. As long as he did not cause a negative impact on the team, it was fine to let him contend with someone stronger than him.
However, Lan… She had been quiet ever since being revived. Zheng occasionally could feel her gaze. Most of the time she played her role as the psyche force user in the team to the best of her ability but beyond that, her sense of existence in the team was thin. Zheng knew what Lan was planning. She was attempting to shut herself off using this method. The distance between the two of them would grow with time until they become strangers to each other.
On the edge of a tiny forest far from Zheng’s camp was HongLu’s group. They backed off further from the fortress due to a lack of a psyche force user in the group. YinKong was proficient in hiding so there was no need to worry about being discovered. They sat by a small campfire and ate some simple foods.
“… So the CD is confirmed to have inserted into the black box?” HongLu asked for the third time.
YinKong nodded. “Yes. It was indeed inserted into the black box along with Xuan’s program and your program.”
HongLu let out a sigh of relief. “Then does Xuan know? Have you told him about the CD?”
YinKong raised her head and glanced at him. Her tone remained calm. “I didn’t say anything unnecessary. We cooperated a few times before. Do I seem like someone who would talk more than needed?”
HongLu laughed. “Relax. I am only being so overly suspicious because I want the plan to succeed too much. Haha. There’s nothing to worry since Xuan doesn’t know what I did. Tomorrow is the beginning of the fifth day. Just wait. Wait for the arrival of the hydrogen bomb.”
HongLu was a cooperating partner for YinKong before she met Xuan. Although they wiped in Resident Evil, she had just as much trust in HongLu as she had in Xuan. However, since Xuan had proved himself to be one step ahead of everyone, she decided to remain neutral in this competition.
Back in the Shelter, HongLu told her his plan in full. She weighted the pros and cons of the plan then decided to help him. There were almost no cons for HongLu’s plan. In contrast, it would lower the danger they would face if it worked. HongLu wrote another program in Xuan’s CD that would activate three hours after the hydrogen bombs launched.
“It’s just a small trojan. Xuan’s program can break through the firewall and bypass the network password. So the code of this trojan is fairly small. It’s main function is to issue an attack order… To the American army on standby outside the steel fortress. The time is three hours after the nuclear strike!”
HongLu wanted to compete with Xuan but he wasn’t going to doing anything harmful to the team. He merely wanted to show Xuan that he wasn’t weak. Maybe not as strong as Xuan but he could think of things that Xuan didn’t think of, such as using the American army.
“Information exchange is crippled due to the loss of satellites and cities. Only a few military communications lines are preserved. They can still send Morse code telegrams but this method is too slow. I left the president a message before leaving, telling him we have a bacteria that accelerates the rusting process which counters the Transformers. Once we found their main base, we can annihilate them. However, I am an American troop in the future and want to leave the U.S. with some useful technology and the AllSpark. So he needs to surround St. Louis with the army. Once we destroyed the robots with the bateria and obtained the AllSpark, the army could detain us.
“The truth is to have the American army surround St. Louis. Three hours after the nuclear strike, the trojan will issue an order to attack the fortress in the name of the military base. Xuan’s virus will destroy the central computing system afterward. No one can stop the American army from attacking at that point. This is my plan, to have the army become our bait! While they fight the Decepticons, Zheng’s group can easily sneak into the fortress and steal the AllSpark! Xuan, wait and see. I am not weaker than you! My plan is designed with you in mind!”
The sun rose on the horizon. Dawn of the fifth day came. Over half a million soldiers surrounded St. Louis in the past few days. They were awaiting for the order from the base. This was the last full army of the U.S. They would attack into the main base of the Decepticons.