Taio let out a laugh. “Oh, is that your confession? The bastard who killed my brother-in-law is one of you Insurgent Trifecta?”
Joe took a step forward. “What are you saying?! You have no proof backing up your claims, Taio, so stop spreading misinformation! The Insurgent Trifecta is not a name you can just slander to your liking!”
Icy indifference was etched on to Taio’s expression as he nailed Joe with his eyes. “Am I hearing a kind of eagerness to become my enemy, Joe Pennywise?”
An intimidating aura emanated from Taio, like a dome threatening to encapsulate the world. The air seemed to have been thickened into a viscous paste. His output of power was so overwhelming that everyone felt the same crushing weight on their shoulders.
Even heavyweights like Liam and Holden found themselves gasping for air.
The only one who was utterly unfazed was Joe, because he had attained the fourth tier of the superior class. With an unamused sneer, he unleashed his own tidal wave of power to match head-to-head with Taio’s aura.
A head-to-head conflict was upon them.
“You’re flouting the rules of my turf, Taio Cruz. The Insurgent Trifecta isn’t as strong as the Insurgent Duofecta… But it’s also not a place for dipsh*ts like you to wreak havoc on and leave without being punished.”
Liam, Holden, and the other higher-ups stepped forwards, looking serious and solemn. Their eyes were unflinching, resolute, and fixed on Taio’s face. No one needed to guess where the entire organization stood on the issue.
Taio felt their conviction and furrowed his brows. He had come to them displaying the full brunt of his hostility, thinking that it would coerce the Insurgent Trifecta’s meekness to compliance.
He might not have wanted to kill Zayn, but he wanted to teach the man a lasting, agonizing lesson, and leave the actual taking of his life after his mission was over.
However, Joe and his ilk’s resolute defiance seemed to have thrown a wrench in his plans.
“You think you can protect him forever, Pennywise?! That Larson guy killed my brother-in-law, mercy and forgiveness are off the table.”
“Do you really think it’s worth getting on my bad side to protect that murderer?!” Taio shouted hoarsely. Joe hesitated for a moment. One could see the conflict on his features.
Then he broke out a smile. “As long as he remains a member of the Insurgent Trifecta,” he declared, his voice brimming with do-or-die determination, “He will always be under my protection.”
Taio was apoplectic. Joe had basically flipped him the bird in uncharacteristic hubris, despite Taio’s position and superior status as the lead combat instructor of the Insurgent Duofecta and the fact that he, Taio Cruz, was a fourth-tier force of nature worthy of only adulation.
He broke out a mirthless, scornful laugh and clapped his hands sarcastically. “Fantastic. F**king fantastic!” he cried, his death stare nailed to Joe.
“You’ve got balls, Joe! Too bad you think with them and not with your head! I can’t wait to see just how long your heroic little protection is gonna last!”
With that threat hanging in the air, he turned and strode away. His retinue of powerful fighters followed suit and disappeared from Joe and his people’s line of sight in silence.
Joe watched them go completely before finally showing his darkened expression and a sigh. “Get Sergeant Larson on the phone,” he ordered Liam.
The man obeyed with a nod, but each of his calls ended with no answer. “Sir, I think he’s offline.”
Joe furrowed his eyebrows. “Then talk to Squad 4 and use them to get him. We need to contact him however we can!”