Cold wind whistled as the plane roared with fury in the air. It was heading south.
This passenger jumbo had been modified and refitted for special use. It was made to transport mutants onto front lines, but the interior was rather tastefully furnished.
Du Huaijin was also known as the Clairvoyant. His eyes became gold and shiny since the moment he boarded the plane.
He was excited. The interior of this jumbo jet could be called a piece of luxurious art. There was also meeting room, dining room and other functioning rooms that he had never seen on a plane before.
There were also a cinema, a marble bathtub, and a lounge. The plane had all that was necessary.
Besides, there was also an armory on the plane. It stored all kinds of cold and hot weapons that would potentially come to use in the upcoming battle. There was a specialist taking care of these weapons as well.
Right now, they were stepping into the meeting room.
It was a spacious room, with a warm tone inside. The design and the furnishings echoed the luxury of the rest of the plane. The long meeting table and the couches all had a warm golden color. Standing inside, one could feel as if he was standing inside a royal palace.
There was a specific person waiting for them inside the meeting room. He was giving Chu Feng and the others a historical introduction on the Ash Wolf.
The five members of the team led by Chu Feng were the main players in this expedition, but there was also a group of entourages, serving them on the way.
One of them, for instance, was a middle-aged man. He turned on a projector, detailing all the information he had gathered about Ash Wolf.
He was professional. From start to finish, he spoke clearly and systematically.
"Unluckily, Ash Wolf was not in the center of the explosion. He escaped death, but that attack did have sapped much of its vitality."
This explained why Ash Wolf had survived the blast.
Besides, there was a fissure on the earth at the time of the explosion. Ash Wolf plunged headlong into the fissure, digging down towards the center of the earth fiercely. In so doing, Ash Wolf avoided the scorching heat of the nuke.
Radioactive substances, however, dealt no harm to Ash Wolf.
Ash Wolf hid underground for a few days before it crawled out from its cave. Its appearance was captured by the military drone, and when the image was sent back to the headquarter, everyone from the army was shocked.
"What a lucky bastard!" Ouyang Qing the Clairaudient sighed.
Ash Wolf was still alive even after two nuclear missiles had been deployed. It truly had a terrifying life force running in its vein.
However, it was still comforting to know that nuclear weapon did have the capacity to terminate the life of a king from the animal kingdom. The reason why Ash Wolf could survive was simply because the beast was not in the center of the explosion.
Then, the zoologist on-board opened his mouth. He explained the habits and characteristics of a wolf.
Even though Ash Wolf was not a wolf in the ordinary sense, it still was a wolf nevertheless. Some of its inherent natures would still remain the same.
Then, medical professionals arrived on the scene and gave each person a little crystal bottle. Inside the bottles, there was a suspension of fluid, which was purple in color. Mists were evaporating from the suspension.
"These will come in handy when your life is in serious trouble. As long as your heart and brain are still functioning, drinking this medicine will help you last out a few hours before professional medical team can arrive on scene to save you."
"Wow, this is amazing!" Du Huaijin was surprised. He shamelessly begged for more vials of this magical drug. Because the more he had, the longer he would last when he was seriously injured.
"I'm sorry, but the active ingredients in this drug is too rare to find. At present, we've only developed a small amount of this drug in our lab," an old doctor said.
Because Chu Feng's team was on a special mission, everything granted to them were the best that the sect could offer. Normally, they would receive none of this.
Then, a man who claimed to know the climate and geography of Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau began introducing them to the environment of the place.
Hollow Jade Temple had done all the homework for their fighters. The preparation was ample and sufficient. Chu Feng was visibly moved; he felt that his decision to join the sect was getting more and more justified.
They were the core of this entire jumbo jet, so all the services were revolving around them.
Then, there were people teaching them how to poison Ash Wolf. It was necessary to be prepared for all eventualities; they needed Ash Wolf to die through whatever means they could think of.
In the end, someone led them into the armory. They could choose any weapons that they might find suitable. From dagger to lance to rocket launchers that were easy to carry, every weapon that one could think of was put on display in this armory.
After the five had chosen their weapons, a specialist tested the weapons for them to check for any defects.
When the group returned to their lounge, Ouyang Qing the Clairaudient whispered, "I asked for the price of that drug just then. They said it's worth five million Jiuzhou dollars!"
He put the vial over his chest, gently stroking it like an old miser. For him, this vial of drug was invaluable. Unless his life depended on it, he would not take it.
Du Huaijin also whispered, "This felt like a dream. I made an inquiry to them too. They told me that those weapons were all made of a special alloy, which only existed after the world underwent its dramatic changes. They were all produced at an exorbitant price. It was said that each set of armors we equip on ourselves is worth at least several million dollars."
"What alloy metal could be sold at this price?" Even Chu Feng was taken aback. He wanted to have a go at these weapons and see how they compared with his black dagger. Which would be sharper and firmer?
"Hopefully, we'll return in one piece!" Chen Luoyan opened his mouth.
If Hollow Jade Temple had been so thorough with their preparation, it meant that the mission must have been an arduous task.
Different from an ordinary plane, there were telephone signals on this jumbo jet. People on-board got up from their seats, and each made a phone call to his family.
Chu Feng told his parents that he needed to meditate in seclusion and practice boxing behind closed doors. As such, he wouldn't be able to make it home in the next few days.
"Oh, don't you lie to me. I know that because you screwed up the blind date and provoked Jiang Luoshen, you're afraid of coming back home. Am I right?" Wang Jing called her son to account.
Her voice was quite loud. Everyone around Chu Feng had vividly heard her words.
Especially Ouyang Qing the Clairaudient, he heard the words most distinctly. He winked and made eyes at Chu Feng.
Even Ye Qingrou was tucking her lips in a smile before bursting out laughing.
Chu Feng quickly ended the call, then he asked Clairvoyant and Clairaudient to come to him. He warned them that in the future, neither of the two could use their special abilities on him, otherwise, he would practice boxing with them every day.
The two wore a long face and wailed. Last time Chu Feng practiced boxing with them, he almost made them a pair of disabled person. The two knew that he was teaching them a lesson last time.
And now, they were warned again!
A few steps away, Ye Qingrou laughed like a gorgeous beauty.
Chen Luoyan was a lot steadier than the rest of them. He was looking out of a window.
Looking down from the air, the earth still looked the same. It seemed as if nothing had happened, but everyone knew that it was not possible.
There were Multi-verses on the earth; the sky was no less strange and dangerous. Nothing was comprehensible for the human's mind.
"Are we making a detour?" Chu Feng asked.
"Yes. Some regions might look like a boundless stretch of blue sky with no clouds and no storms, but in fact, those are the most dangerous ones. If we fly into them, we might lose ourselves in the Multi-verse," the head of the flight crew explained.
The process of opening this new air route was a rather difficult one. It was accomplished at a great cost. The government sent out numerous unmanned aerial vehicles to endeavor a flyable route for the planes. Months of trial and errors, there was finally a reliable air route fitted for the planes to fly.
"The most dangerous thing during our flight is still mutated birds, but we have ample preparation to deal with those guys. We have an early-warning radar coupled with our offensive barrage. Once anything dangerous showed up near us, the barrage would make sure that they are dead before they know it.
The journey should be safe and sound so long as the aggressor was not a bird king.
"So, it's quite dangerous in the air." Chen Luoyan frowned.
"Sister Ye, you've got to protect us when danger comes," Chu Feng said with a smile, because she was only one here capable of flying.
Ye Qingrou had a sweet smile, looking charming and enchanting too. Her big eyes were twinkling as she said, "No problem. When danger comes, I will carry you guys in the air."
Du Huaijin the Clairvoyant was suddenly on his full mettle. He said, "If danger does come, my brother will hug your waist, and I will grab onto your leg. We'll soar into the blue sky together!"
"Go to hell!" Ye Qingrou kicked him into the air, then the man tumbled into a couch.
At night, they returned to their bedrooms. Chu Feng made a phone call to Yellow Ox as soon as he got to his room, but he couldn't set his mind at ease.
Although the rooms became soundproof with the door closed, with the presence of Clairaudient, Chu Feng still needed to act with caution to avoid having his conversation eavesdropped.
To solve this, his method was simple, brutal and effective.
He knocked on the door to the bedroom of Ouyang Qing the Clairaudient with a hearty smile. When the door opened, he waltzed into the room.
"Chief, please take a seat."
Ouyang Qing's smile froze on his face. He rolled back his eyes and fainted. Chu Feng dragged his body onto his bed then settled him under the quilt. Soon, Ouyang Qing fell asleep.
However, his dream was quite a wretched one. Throughout the night, he had someone banging on his head with an iron hammer in his dream.
"Phew! Nighty nighty, sleeping beauty!" Chu Feng helped him close the bedroom door. Then, he sneaked back to his own crib.
He immediately began video chatting with Yellow Ox.
"Yellow Ox, the dark mist is becoming thicker and thicker when I practice the special breathing exercise at night. After the exercise, I felt so nice and cozy; the improvement was distinct too. Is this hinting that I'm going to make another big breakthrough this time?"
Yellow Ox wanted to give Chu Feng the middle finger, but it had no fingers. Instead, the calf flicked out one of its front hooves to express its disdain for him. The calf felt like Chu Feng was deliberately trying to make it upset again.
"I'm on my way to kill the king of the animal kingdom. Do you reckon I will succeed?" Chu Feng asked.
"Courting death!" Yellow Ox was brief but to the point.
"In terms of strength and power, how wide is the gap between me and the kings?" This was something Chu Feng had always wanted to be clear about.
"As wide as a realm!" Yellow Ox responded. The calf looked genuinely concerned. It warned him against taking any bold actions yet.
Yellow Ox's words immediately caught Chu Feng's interest. "What are the realms? How is it decided?" Chu Feng asked, eager for a definite answer.
He had been practicing the special breathing exercise incessantly for the past few months; he was eager to know where exactly he stood on the scale of strength, power, skills and speed.
Yellow Ox hesitated, but in the end, it decided to tell him. In so doing, the calf wished that it could prevent Chu Feng from taking any rash actions. Provoking the kings of the beasts at this stage would only court death for him.
Awakening. Yoke. Carefree. These were the three realms that Yellow Ox had typed.
Chu Feng asked the calf to relate these three realms in elaborate detail.
"Awakening. Just as the name suggests, this is only the start of the evolution process. The mutants you see are the awakeners; the mysterious molecules inside their bodies are only just awakened. This unlocked their special abilities." Yellow Ox's words were simple and easy to understand.
"Yoke. One day, you will notice that your body and your spirit are shackled by yokes. You can only battle the kings of the beasts when that day comes. The white snake from Taihang Mountains, the elder ape from Mount Song and the cranes from Mount Emei have all reached this level," Yellow Ox said.
"Carefree. No creatures have reached this level yet. It is the highest level, and it is the most terrifying too. No-one can reach this level." Yellow Ox shook its head.
"Elaborate on this final stage." Chu Feng wanted to know the details about it.
"Shaking off the yokes and shackles to lead a carefree life in this world. This is the simplest way to explain the name of this realm, but if you want to understand it more thoroughly, you can have a read of 'Wandering in Absolute Freedom' by Chuang Tzu," Yellow Ox wrote.
Chu Feng was a little speechless. One had to read a classical literature from the antiquity to understand the meaning of this third realm? Seriously?
"It is a good piece of literary work. It depicts the essence of spirit and mind and contains the most fundamentals of Taoism. It's worth a read." Then, Yellow Ox went on to despise Chu Feng for reading so narrowly. The calf commented that he was not worthy of being called an earthling. "How come you never read these classical masterpieces before? What do you even do in your spare time?"
Compelled by shame and anger, Chu Feng wanted to bash up the calf. Receiving contempt and mockery from a calf was beyond what he could bear. Clearly, the calf was taking him as an illiterate. "If this can be tolerated, what cannot?" Chu Feng indignantly thought to himself.
"I've read 'Wandering in Absolute Freedom', but there's no 'essence of spirit and mind' or 'fundamentals of Taoism' in that piece! Can you just stop spewing out that load of cock?" Chu Feng said.
Yellow Ox was still contemptuous. The calf quickly typed out a line that was extracted from the piece.
"If one could follow the nature of universe to control the changes of six climates, he would wander the world in absolute freedom. There would be no yokes to hinder him, no shackles to confine him."
Chu Feng asked the calf to explain.
Yellow Ox shook its head as if it were saying "what a hopeless guy". In the end, the calf explained with the plainest words: "This explains the essence of 'Carefree'. When you're free from the yokes and detached from this world, you will have nothing to depend on, but there'll be nothing hinder you either. Then, you will be able to wander the world in absolute freedom."
"When are you coming back, Yellow Ox?' Chu Feng asked. Having had enough of the contempt, he was itching to have some "boxing practices" with this cow when it came back.
"Kunlun Mountains is my current location. I arrived here yesterday, seeing a lot of sacred trees from the distance, but almost every mountain had been occupied by some monstrous beasts. I'll think about if I'll ever go back to you when I manage to seize a mountain for myself."
"But I think at my level, I'm at least better than the average 'awakening' mutants, right? Doesn't that make me more of a worthy opponent against the beast kings?" Chu Feng asked again.
For him, the division of the realms was a bit too general.
"'Awakening' is only a general term used for the realm, but to make it more specific, we can use the grading system that is used for the go game . Using that system, I can say with confidence that you're at least a level eight fighter, or even nine."
Chu Feng felt much more confident when he saw these words. He was not far from stepping up to the realm in which the beast kings were. In fact, ranking up to the next realm was only a short haul for him!
To put it into perspective, Chu Feng listed a few other mutants for comparison.
"The average mutants are only at level one or two of the awakening realm. People like Kong Kim should be somewhere between seven to eight," Yellow Ox informed.
Level seven and eight are the highest level that a mutant could ever wish to reach. It was the epitome of human evolution!
However, for people like Kong Kim, there was still room for evolution. In the future, they might be capable enough to win a battle against beast kings as well.
At present, beast kings like white snake, the elder ape and the cranes were the ones that had reached the epitome of the "yoke" realm! They were the true kings of the animal kingdom.
Above them was the realm of "carefree", but there were no creatures who could ever reach that level!
"My target is Ash Wolf," Chu Feng informed Yellow Ox. He wanted to know what the odds were in killing this beast.
"Spine is snapped, claws are trashed, eyes are blinded… With this level of injury, I would say that the wolf only has about three percent of its power and strength. You can give it a try," Yellow Ox said.
Then, he added, "Most importantly, this wolf has only just stepped into the realm of 'yoke'. It barely passes as a king. In my opinion, even that little black yak is stronger than this wolf, so I reckon the odds are pretty much in your favor."
The calf typed on its communicator. Suddenly, a black shadow silently raised behind the unknowing calf. BANG! The calf was hammered by a black hoof.
Yellow Ox rolled back its eyes and fainted straight away.
"You cheeky bastard! Show some respect for the elders! Little black yak? You should call me Uncle black yak!" the black yak scolded. Then, it grimaced at Chu Feng on the video chat and said, "I tell ya, young man! Don't you dare teach Yellow Ox any of those bad stuff, you hear me, or I'll find you in Shuntian and bash you up!"
Then, it ended the call for Yellow Ox.
Chu Feng looked on in despair. There was nothing he could do but get scolded at for no reason.
On the following day, the jumbo jet landed at an airport near their destination.
Chu Feng and his team were armed to their teeth. They were then dropped off by an armored truck at the depth of the plateau. The drop-off point was near the entry to the primitive mountains.
"Nuclear radiation shouldn't be a problem for mutants, but to keep you safe, I recommend that you wear the hazard suits."
The team that was providing the logistic support had prepared them a special suit tailored for the occasion.
The earth was scorched dry. The nuclear blast had left not so much as a blade of grass. The grounds outside the primitive mountains were like a death zone, devoid of any forms of life.
Chu Feng and his four followers stepped into the death zone. At the moment, their mission had finally started!
 (p.s. a traditional Chinese board game for two players)