Three hundred metres later, Xia Lei paused in his tracks. He reached out and knocked at the cement walls behind the thick sewage pipes. Despite his vehement force, there was no echo coming from beyond the cement walls. Under normal circumstances, the sound itself would’ve been a good indication that there was no space behind the walls but Xia Lei knew otherwise. “This is it, Kyoko. Blast this open.”
Tsukino Kyoko was perplexed. “But there was no echo. There’s no space behind it. Are you sure you want to do that?”
Xia Lei was firm. “Believe me, just do it.”
Tsukino Kyoko did not press on further. She took out the explosive device from her bag. The explosion offered by the custom directional explosive device was made to be quiet.
Xia Lei placed his palm on the wall again, giving it a light slap this time. “This spot, please.”
Tsukino Kyoko plastered the device onto the spot Xia Lei pointed to and they both took ten steps back to avoid the explosion radius. As soon as they were safe, she pressed on the controller in her grip.
Boom! A muted noise rang through the confined underground system and shook the cement wall. It trembled and crumbled backwards.
Without even waiting for the soot and dust to settle, Xia Lei strode forward to the fresh opening. Beyond the wall was an even more ancient underground sewage system. It was tall, wide and comparatively dry.
This was Jerusalem’s ancient drainage system. Previously, Xia Lei had managed to locate the ancient tomb beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre through an underground system like this. 48 St. Cross Street was an ancient building that was built during the time of the Crusades. Hence, the ancient system would most definitely lead them there. It was clear now that the odd shaded area in the Sanitation Bureau’s map was a part of the ancient system. Mossad probably did not wish for the general public to find out.
“There’s actually a drainage system? Boss, you’re amazing!” Tsukino Kyoko’s eyes were positively glistening with admiration.
Xia Lei crossed into the opening. “Let’s go, we’re running out of time.”
Tsukino Kyoko quickly trailed closely.
After a twenty metre trek, the once flat ancient drain ditch had an abrupt two-metre drop. He jumped down without an ounce of hesitation.
Tsukino Kyoko did the same.
It took Xia Lei another ten metres and an exit from a well appeared before him. His gaze shifted to study the sewage well, a gush of filthy water just so happened to drop from above. Xia Lei broke into a smile. “This is it, we found it.”
Tsukino Kyoko came closer. “So you’re saying that this well will lead us to 48 St. Cross Street?”
Xia Lei returned her a nod. “The underground dungeon of 48 St. Cross Street to be exact. The well is the drainage system for the cells. We’ll climb up from here, find the prisoner and rescue him.”
Tsukino Kyoko had her doubts. “If it's a cell up there, it surely wouldn’t have only one prisoner. We’ve never seen them before, how are we going to know who to bring away?”
The question was simple but it was a valid concern. In fact, it was one of Xia Lei’s worst worries. He had considered the thought but his mind could not arrive at a good solution. The only thing he could depend on was his left eye and brain. To be fairly honest, this operation was essentially a gamble. The addition of a left eye and a brain along with luck might seem wobbly to others but Xia Lei was confident enough to give it a shot. Truthfully, even if the success rate was only half, Xia Lei would still try it out!
“Watch your step and follow me.” Xia Lei began to climb the metal ladder. The streams of filthy sewage occasionally splashed onto him. Despite donning an oxygen mask, the stench was still so intense that it was nauseating.
Tsukino Kyoko, who was only one step below Xia Lei’s hovering butt, faced the same fate. The foul smell caused her brows to crease.
They continued to climb three metres until a steel manhole cover cut their path. Xia Lei activated his X-ray vision and let it penetrate through the cover. Soon enough, he could see that it was a public shower and toilet, where the prisoners took care of their hygiene.
At the moment, it was unoccupied. The tiled room was empty and silent.
Xia Lei ducked his head down and pushed the cover upwards with his back. It must’ve been a long time since the cover was removed, as the rust that formed around its edges had made it incredibly stubborn. Xia Lei rammed his spine against it twice to no avail.
“Shit, it’s rusted.” Xia Lei felt his mood dampen. Everything had gone well up to this point but the rusted manhole cover was something he did not calculate.
Nothing was perfect. Even an extremely intelligent person could not have seen this coming.
“Why don’t we blast it away?” Tsukino Kyoko suggested.
“No! If we execute an explosion here, Mossad agents would hear it!”
“Then what should we do?” Tsukino Kyoko checked her wristwatch, anxiety bubbling in her heart. “We only have eighteen minutes. We won’t be able to make it on time with delays.”
“Hmph!” Xia Lei slammed against it once more, using all his might this time. The force had knocked the airs out his lungs. He sounded like an ox in the middle of a rice field.
Unfortunately, the manhole cover did not even move an inch.
The cover was not welded and no guardrails were installed in place. The surprising lack of security structure was because Mossad knew its structure like the back of its hand. Only a handful of people had the knowledge. The drainage system used in 48 St. Cross Street was mainly this ancient system. Ever since its first occupancy, the manhole cover was not removed for more than five times. Each removal would cost a fortune and who would care about it if they knew that it was incredibly tough to open?
Another minute was wasted. There were only seventeen minutes left until their retreat. Xia Lei was anxious. It would be a joke if the operation had failed merely due to a rusted manhole cover.
Suddenly, Tsukino Kyoko abruptly climbed upwards.
“Kyoko? What are you trying to do?” Xia Lei was taken aback.
Tsukino Kyoko offered no explanation. She removed her oxygen mask and pushed her torso closer.
“No!” Out of desperation, Xia Lei’s body made a sudden jolt to avoid Tsukino’s sneak attack. His urgency was as if he had gotten a bite from a venomous snake. The sudden burst of force was so immense that the rusted cover wobbled.
Clack! The cover was completely loosened, letting a ray of light shine through its gaps onto Tsukino Kyoko’s face. Her smirk was evil, like a bully challenging her victim to retaliate.
“I’ll make you pay after we get out!” Xia Lei reprimanded her sternly.
Tsukino Kyoko’s reply was meek. “Sure, no problem. You’re free to punish me however you want.”
Xia Lei could only sigh internally. When would their weird mutual debt be cleared off? But the man had to admit that the ninja’s boldness in some aspects was very mind-boggling.
The cover was moved aside to allow them an exit. Xia Lei was the first to climb out, quickly scanning through his surroundings with his ability. There was no one in the communal showers and toilet cubicles. He walked towards the door with caution in every step.
Outside the communal showers was a corridor and separated cell rooms flanking its sides. All of it had looked old.
When Tsukino Kyoko came closer to his back, there was already a silenced Viper pistol and a poison-laced shuriken in her grip.
Xia Lei whipped his head around to check on her, immediately surprised at the sight. The man reached over and removed a strand of black hair from the top of her cherry lips. He discreetly hid it in his palm.
Oddly enough, Tsukino Kyoko’s cheeks were flushed red. Guess Xia Lei’s motion wasn’t exactly that discrete.
Despite that, the slight episode did not affect their performance.
Xia Lei opened the door and entered the corridor.
The dungeon cells along the corridor were vacant. It wasn’t weird as this place wasn’t a professional prison. It only held special prisoners. The fact that Harde had to buy breakfast at the diner opposite the building explained the situation. Any prison that held a certain number of people would surely have its own kitchen and staff. Harde wouldn’t need to buy breakfast if that was the case.
“I hope I’m lucky enough to only find one prisoner in the dungeon. That person would surely be the one I’m looking for. Looks like I’m on a roll today.” The empty cells had brought some joy to Xia Lei. There was no longer the need to rack his mind over analyses and deduction. His steps felt lighter now.
Taking the corner, the corridor continued to extend forward. At the end of the corridor was a staircase made of stone. It spiralled upwards leading to the main base. Xia Lei’s attention landed on a wooden metal door on the side of the turning. Beside the tightly-shut door were two bronze brazier that seemed so ancient that it was out of use. The lit LED lamp that replaced it was cold and eerie.
Xia Lei had a gut feeling. He took a step forward and allowed his X-ray vision to penetrate through the door. Immediately, the sight of a prisoner laying on a stack of dried grass was projected into his brain.
The man looked positively horrible. His hair was a ruffled greasy mess. It looked like it had been months since his last shower. The clothes on his back were tattered and filthy. The prisoner was curled into a fetal position on his pitiful excuse of a bed.
At that moment, Xia Lei caught sight of an exposed arm from his ripped sleeve. He could not believe it. On the prisoner’s right arm was the tattoo of a cobra snake. Its body was green, its eyes and tongue were blood red.
All of a sudden, Xia Lei’s mind was reminded of something. In that fated mountain body in the outskirts of Jerusalem, a built man had murdered a troop of Israeli archaeologists with a rain of bullets and took away the amber that contained the AE capsule…
So this was him!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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