STB Chapter 173: Teaser
Johnson Brown was nervous.
He was surrounded by big and burly men in black suits. There’s a classic fireplace in the bright European-style living room, and on the expensive leather sofa was an Italian man wearing an opal ring.
Johnson quietly compared him to the male actors in the studio. They can’t compare with the man’s aura sitting in front of him at all.
This “Mr. Morenza” reflected the vicissitudes of time with the slight smell of cigar and the cufflinks on his silk shirt reflecting the brilliance of the crystal chandelier.
That careless attitude and indifferent eyes made the sensitive Johnson feel numb.
——very dangerous, every muscle in his body tightened, clamoring that he ran away.
After experiencing death and danger in the Abandoned World, Johnson had grown a lot. After returning to the United States, he was forced to meet many people like FBI investigators, senior officials of Homeland Security, and military people. They all have a common problem, they liked to dominate the conversation. Whether they guided gently or spoke in a commanding tone, Johnson didn’t take them seriously.
This was also why those people felt that the ability holders were hard to manage.
The ability holders were in chaos since they lost the awe of ordinary people under the country’s weapons. More than this, even their thinking had changed as they saw other humans as just moving pieces of meat. The stronger the ability, the more they killed in the Abandoned World, and the more serious their condition was.
Of the living S-class ability holders, Jian Hua’s original character was the most different from ordinary people since he could control mushrooms. There’s no need to abandon his morality and humanity for food to survive, so he’s not affected much.
Li Fei was an excellent actor. This excellence, more than his acting skills, also reflected his mental state. Ever since he debuted, Li Fei has played a serial murderer seeking revenge for his sister, a patient with schizophrenia, and also filmed biographies. There’s even a sensitive painter reluctant to live and finally committed suicide. In trying to figure out how to shape these characters, Li Fei never confused the role with his own personality. He could go in and out of character in just a second.
This is talent, and now this talent has saved Li Fei. He could easily adjust his mind, and since Jian Hua was always with him, nothing even stimulated him.
Johnson has no such luck.
His psychological problems mainly manifested as the sequela of traumatic stress. Since he was accustomed to a dangerous environment, he had insomnia and anxiety, reluctant to contact strangers, and if someone approached him while in a daze, Johnson would reflexively attack.
Federico had long “foreseen” this and had asked a psychiatrist for Johnson.
En, also under the control of the Morenza family.
After Johnson returned to the United States, Federico became his official guardian. He hired a tutor to homeschool him, and except when shooting《Outcast》, Johnson basically didn’t go out, so his psychological problems gradually recovered.
The 17-year-old Johnson was no longer emaciated. His height jumped up a few months after the shooting, and the changes in his bones slightly altered the contours of his face. Even if he returned to his hometown in the Southern State, estimated not many people would recognize him.
Today was the premiere of《Outcast》but Johnson did not participate. He was going to watch the live broadcast at home, but he was informed by Federico’s driver that Mr. Wolf Morenza wanted to see him.
When Johnson returned to the United States this time, he inadvertently heard some arguments regarding the manpower and material resources Federico used to bring him back from China, and it made him realize what kind of person Federico’s uncle was like.
He would be lying if he said he wasn’t afraid.
After not moving for such a long time, Johnson thought the other didn’t take him seriously. As a result, a big “surprise” came over: the East Coast’s Godfather wanted to see him.
And to see him alone, not accompanied by Federico.
Johnson came obediently.
As soon as he saw Wolf Morenza, intuition sent Johnson a danger alert.
Even if he’s not from the Morenza family, Federico’s driver, agent, and assistant still gave him a clear path towards Wolf. They were particularly respectful to Wolf, so Johnson simply can’t expect these people to accompany him.
This villa was far from the city, and the vast forest nearby was private property and surrounded by high fences. Johnson came in by car, and along the way, he saw a lot of people holding guns and wolf dogs on patrol.
Johnson didn’t want to trouble Federico since he noticed that when Mr. Morenza talked about his uncle, he had a lot of respect in his voice, so Johnson became even more uneasy. Even so, he still had to go over even if he’s nervous. He still looked up and resisted the urge to step back and let the man look at him coldly and dangerously.
“Sit.” Wolf pointed at the chair next to him.
The words were spoken softly, seemingly casual, but that does not mean it carried little weight.
Johnson froze. He found that Wolf’s voice was very much like Federico. Does this family specialize in training their voices? They spoke differently from everyone else......
Actually, regarding if Johnson showed up or not, Wolf didn’t care. He already knew Johnson’s situation from his tutors and psychologist since he kept an eye on everything related to Federico.
“You can begin.”
The person standing by the living room wall immediately turned off the lights.
The surroundings suddenly became dark. Johnson hadn’t reacted yet when he found that the home theater screen in the living room lit up.
A familiar piano melody burst out. It was the BGM in the《Outcast》trailer, and Johnson was familiar because he had heard it many times. The next scene was a city immersed in the night, quiet and peaceful.
It’s that movie!
Johnson immediately became interested since he hadn’t seen it yet!
To protect Johnson, Federico intentionally used the Morenza family’s name to wipe out Johnson’s participation in the later publicity, trying to dilute the protagonist’s sense of presence in the early stages. Anyway, there are many Johnson Browns in the United States.
Wolf didn’t have to attend the premiere since he could watch this movie at home. Johnson was not surprised, and he was quickly attracted to the main character of the symphony orchestra which was preparing for an interview on the screen.
Music spread out like magic, the playing fingertips moving like brewing a breeze under the rain, sometimes seeming like a violent thunder.
Johnson had seen this scene as he saw the actor being gradually shown. It’s really different from being on the scene. The camera and later edits seemed to unearth all of Federico’s charm.
He subconsciously turned his head. With the lights from the screen, Johnson saw Wolf look more serious than before.
——so today, Mr. Morenza’s uncle wanted to watch this movie?
Johnson was a little dazed.
“What’s up?” Wolf’s tone revealed his dissatisfaction.
Johnson quickly turned his attention to the screen. Soon his eyes followed the “protagonist” as his peaceful life was suddenly broken, disaster and monsters appeared at the same time...... then he came back to reality to see a friend die, corpses filled the streets, and the mourning people filling the city with wailing.
As the plot slowly advanced, Johnson involuntarily clenched his fingers as his expression changed with the scenes.
When the monster on the screen opened its mouth, Johnson almost jumped up and waved his arm to solve this monster. Fortunately, he restrained himself because the familiar feeling of activating his ability was not there anymore.
Wolf saw Johnson’s movements in the corner of his eyes.
Halfway through the movie, Johnson’s chair had already left its original position, because he leaned back sometimes, and sometimes can’t help but lean forward to see the details. This was not the movie theater, so the chair was not fixed.
The “protagonist” had a chance encounter with the American Ability Holders Bureau and was even exposed to the person in charge. He was suspected to be a wanted serial killer because one of the victims was his high school classmate.
The snippets of flashbacks were short, and the content was similar to Johnson’s actual experience, an orphan suffering from school violence. The difference was that there’s a teacher who appreciated the protagonist’s musical talent and occasionally takes care of him.
Johnson’s acting skills were average, so there were naturally not many shots. The editing was also done cleverly. The stylist even gave Johnson and Federico the same red mole on their ears, coupled with the intention of the makeup artist to give them the same eyebrows (mainly to make Johnson seem like Federico) so that the two people of different ages have similar looks.
Johnson looked at the screen in a daze.
He didn’t expect the final effect to be so good. The teenager who huddled in the corner and didn’t speak touched the wound on his head but still carefully took the music sheets from his arms, drew keyboard keys on the window sill with chalk, then opened his hands to practice.
The light was warm as fingers skillfully jumped over the “keys.” It was dark behind the boy, but in front of him was a blooming flowerbed and bright sunshine.
This “finger practice” wasn’t done by Johnson since the crew found a young pianist to temporarily substitute.
Johnson was a little bit shy, but the figure of the teenager gradually grew in the memory flashbacks. The view was from the ground when the scene changed. The camera moved along with a shadow, showing a young and handsome actor standing under the school flowerbed, slender fingers stroking the old windowsill.
The characters in the movie yelled the protagonist’s name.
The teenager watching the movie trembled slightly as if he finally realized: this apocalyptic movie was a reflection of reality, and that he was linked to Federico Morenza’s fate.
Wolf stood up silently, leaving the living room where the movie was showing, but Johnson was unaware.
Outside the villa, a respectful man in a suit offered Wolf a cigar.
“Sir, now you can rest assured that the boy did not pose any threat to Mr. Morenza.”
“Their relationship is so good, isn’t that a threat?” Wolf said coldly. Federico almost lost his life to save this little kid. If the food in the Abandoned World didn’t have special effects, Federico’s life would be ruined just by becoming a drug addict.
Wolf was among the first people who watched the movie, so even if he came out midway, he knew the following events.
“The one who played the leader of China’s Red Dragon......”
Wolf thought deeply with a calm face. Li Fei’s role in the first part was not much, but also a lot. It added up to about 15 minutes. After all, the main plot of《Outcast》was still in the United States. Wolf couldn’t tell what kind of person Li Fei was from the movie, which was a little tricky.
“The information is unmistakable. Fire Demon is protected by China’s Dragon Team! Ah, sorry, protected by China’s Red Dragon.” The man in the black suit was a little dizzy. Red Dragon was a codename and also the name of the secret service department. The reality was confused with the setting in the film, which was really troublesome.
“He is stress-free, very high profile, and don’t care about the consequences of the film’s global release.”
However, the former ability holders could not wait to dig a pit to hide.
Wolf’s subordinate thought about it, then offered a suggestion, “Maybe he’s used to becoming the focus and standing in the eyes of everyone?”
“No, he’s fearless, bold, and has a strong ability.” Wolf took a breath from the cigar. The power behind Fire Demon was undoubtedly Red Dragon, but as the person who has the idea to create a huge mysterious organization in the Abandoned World, will he fully trust the State?
“The Chinese are really hard to understand.” Wolf flicked some soot. The winked subordinate immediately took out an ashtray, their timings just right.
Putting the cigar back in his mouth, Wolf suddenly said, “The day the Abandoned World disappeared, find out the video from the maritime conflict, I want to take a closer look.”
This kind of secret government information, people with no background would obviously find it troublesome.
Three days later, Wolf Morenza got the satellite image.
When Federico returned by private jet and opened the door, the smoke in the room looked as if there’s a fire.
After opening the ventilation for half a minute, Federico walked in again.
Wolf was facing the screen. He couldn’t find any problems in the video data, but the speculation in his mind became more evident.
——because the Devourer was taken away by the Abandoned World, the panic-stricken Li Fei almost collapsed, but to recover so quickly and even filming as if nothing happened while also willing to lead a normal life?
“Federico, don’t go to China again.”
“Huh?” Federico was puzzled.
Wolf glanced at him but didn’t say that he suspected Li Fei had a distorted temperament and may even be plotting revenge. Sooner or later, big trouble would occur, so Wolf instead said his second more direct guess.
“Devourer might not be dead.”
Federico had a rare guilty conscience. He didn’t tell his uncle that when he was fetching Johnson, he saw Jian Hua at the airport and he just came back without saying anything.
“The Devourer’s relationship with the Fire Demon is unusual.” Federico awkwardly said, “Johnson once heard them at night......er, when they were in the underground city of the Turkish Plateau.”
Wolf froze, then felt that his guess was reasonable.
Federico wasn’t worried that his uncle would tell the secret just out of fear of the Devourer. He just subconsciously wanted his family and friends to stay away from that name.
“Actually, the Devourer is someone close to Li Fei in reality, its his stuntman. In the film, there might be some shots of him among the Chinese Dragon Team, but not with Fire Demon.”
Wolf became interested.
“You go rest, and we’ll talk later,” Wolf said in a commanding tone.
Well, there’s a new reason to watch the movie again tonight.
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