Space was scarce in the tunnel, but it was just enough to let an adult through. Two armed Arabians led them through it. Their leader and another comrade were trailing at the back meaning Xia Lei and his team were sandwiched in between. The man was not at all affected by the black sack over his head. Sadly, that wasn’t the case for the others. The offset caused them to stumble and slow down.
Xia Lei would try to turn around once in a while to watch the two Arabians in the back, secretly observing them. He wasn’t worried that they would attack them here because he had promised to pay them the remaining half after they had left Jerusalem safely. Twenty million USD was a gargantuan sum for an independent armed force like them. They needed that money to operate.
“Climb up. You’re going to reach Gaza soon.” The leader spoke.
Xia Lei could obviously see the metal box on the metal rail. Yet, he pretended to be confused. “Huh? Where do I climb up?”
The two Arabs in the front whipped their head around, one of them knocking the back of his gun against the box rudely. “This is just a cart. Climb up and get in!”
“Oh, okay.” Xia Lei hovered his arms around like a blind man. It was only after his fingers came in contact with the large box that he carefully climbed on top. Following him, Tsukino Kyoko and the rest did the same.
The four Arabs joined them. Making sure they were settled, the leader pulled the lever on its electrical gear. The metal cart began to move forward at approximately fifty miles per hour.
In the moving cart, one of the armed Arabian members inched closer to whisper into their leader’s ear. While his voice was inaudible, there was a pair of discreet eyes that were studying his lips.
“Sir, are we really going to let them loose after we get the money?”
The leader smirked in return. “They were willing to pay forty million USD for a mere escape route. This is a rare chance. After we get out, we’ll kidnap them with those waiting on the other side. I’m sure we can easily earn another few million USD from the Native American.”
“What about everyone else other than him?”
“Are you seriously asking me that? Kill everyone else. We don’t need to keep them alive,” answered the leader with a harsh whisper.
The man nodded, falling silent after that.
Xia Lei peeled his gaze away. Abruptly, he gasped and exclaimed in Chinese. “Oh shit! I left my safe in our hotel back in Jerusalem. Crap… There’s about one million USD inside and a diamond worth five million!”
The Chinese Zodiac Battle Team turned their heads to the source. They understood what he was saying but no one could remember him owning a safe like that.
“Hey! What the fuck were you saying?” The leader warned.
Xia Lei yelled anxiously in Chinese. “I was talking about my money, USDs and diamonds! They’re worth six million USD in total! I left them in a hotel in Jerusalem!”
“Speak in Arabic!” The leader’s gaze turned cold and dark.
Xia Lei did as instructed. “I said I left a safe in a hotel back in Jerusalem. There’s one million USD and a five million USD diamond inside.”
Hearing that, the leader’s jaw had hung low.
Xia Lei sighed dramatically. “Ugh, nevermind. I guess I won’t be getting it back, it’s just six million USD. It’s barely enough to play a round of cards in Las Vegas.”
“You can tell us which hotel it was.” The leader swallowed his spit. “I can have my men retrieve it for you.”
“Really?” Xia Lei’s tone was convincingly surprised.
“Of course. But you must pay us half of it,” said the leader.
Xia Lei chuckled. “That’s not an issue. Getting back at least three million USD doesn’t sound bad. My room is on the top floor of Sheraton Hotel, room number 408. I left my room card at the hotel’s storage room. It’s safe with a password. The password is 908912. There’s also a limited edition Patek Phillipe watch inside. It’s my favourite. I hope you can bring it back to me.”
The Chinese Zodiac Battle Team members were dumbfounded at Xia Lei’s words. They were aware that those were blatant lies but they couldn’t figure out the rationale behind it.
The leader stopped the cart and turned to his nearest subordinate. “Bring one with you and get the stuff from Sheraton hotel.”
“On it.” The Arabian leapt out of the cart. Another quickly rushed to get out of the moving box to join the other man, pushing his comrade out of the way in the process. It was obvious that he wanted to leech some wealth off the mini operation.
After they had left, the leader pulled the lever again. The cart continued to move forward.
The end of the tunnel felt so far away. Their journey continued, illuminated by the cheap fluorescent bulbs along the tunnel. To sit in a moving metal box in such a tunnel was an experience. It felt like a one way trip to gell.
Tsukino Kyoko gently placed her head on top of Xia Lei’s shoulder blade. But she did not utter a word.
Xia Lei seemed to realize something. He took the cue and wrapped his arm around her shoulders to add intimacy to their position.
This display did not escape the leader in the back, but the man gave no response. After all, what the man had seen were two Native Americans. It was natural to assume that they were romantically involved.
The metal cart continued to zoom forward for a distance.
Finally, the leader’s attention on Xia Lei and Tsukino Kyoko had faded. He looked away.
As he looked away, Tsukino Kyoko lowered her voice to a volume only audible to Xia Lei. “Are they planning to kill us? Is that why you tricked two away?”
Xia Lei’s voice was hushed too. “Yeah. They’re planning to kidnap us. The leader has plans to kill everyone else except me.”
“I knew these fuckers are not to be trusted. What the hell is Sa’im doing?” Tsukino Kyoko grumbled.
Xia Lei defended him. “Don’t blame him. We were short on time and the fact that he could achieve this is already a feat. Those bastards only see the money. They’re not trustworthy at all.”
“So what do we do now?”
“On a count of three, I’ll take the one at the back and you take the one in front,” instructed Xia Lei.
“Mn.” A sound of affirmation from the female ninja.
“One…” He counted and slid his palms to grip the military dagger strapped to his waist.
Tsukino Kyoko produced a shuriken.
“Two. Three!” Xia Lei abruptly turned over and struck his blade towards the leader’s skull.
However, before Xia Lei could land any damage, the man with the cobra tattoo was quick to whip a chop on the leader’s neck.
Xia Lei was fast, but the man’s attack was one step earlier!
With a muffled groan, the leader slumped over the edge of the cart. Without waiting further, the tattooed man lunged forward and grabbed his head to twist it violently.
Crack! The leader’s cervical spine broke like sugarcane. Losing its support, his skull dropped low.
With a light push, the leader fell off the metal cart. The leader’s AK-47 was now in the possession of the ex-prisoner.
In that instance, Xia Lei’s heart was struck with panic. Despite that, he did not try to stop the man. While there was a weapon in the tattooed man’s grip, Xia Lei could sense that he had no ill intention. He merely balanced the AK-47 on top of his knees and let his grip loose. The man’s finger did not hover over the trigger.
Meanwhile, Tsukino Kyoko had executed Xia Lei’s order cleanly. When Xia Lei had counted to ‘three’, Tsukino Kyoko swiftly stabbed her shuriken into the back of the Arabian’s skull. The physical damage was enough to kill him right away, let alone the poison coating the cold metal.
Sa’im, Anjum Khan and Yelena stripped away the black sack over their heads. There was no hint of shock across their faces. While they had not witnessed the events earlier, they had an idea of what had ensued.
Xia Lei moved over and stopped the cart.
Sa’im swallowed and began to speak, remorse and guilt clouding his expression. “Boss, I’m so sorry. I really fucked this up. Those bastards, they tricked me.”
Xia Lei patted his shoulder softly. “No need to blame yourself, you did your absolute best. I would’ve done the same too. These assholes have no humanity at all. They’ve abandoned all morality for the sake of money.”
“But boss, I…” Despite Xia Lei’s comforting words, Sa’im couldn’t help but let his guilt gnaw him alive.
“It’s alright. Let’s not speak of this anymore in the future.” Xia Lei shifted the topic. “I’m guessing that we’ll be out of this tunnel very soon. They have someone waiting for us on the other end. As soon as we emerge, don’t hesitate. Kill them all.”
“We’re going to get that twenty million back!” Sa’im sneered.
“Money is not that important. We’ll leave after everyone is murdered,” said Xia Lei.
Twenty million USD was a sum that would send anyone with a functioning mind into a craze. But to Xia Lei, twenty million was nothing. If he wanted money, he could either withdraw it from Thunder Horse’s bank account or the American stock market.”
“I…” The man with the cobra tattoo interjected meekly. “Can I use a gun?”
Xia Lei nodded. “Of course.”
The man nodded in return and fell silent.
Xia Lei said, “My friend, we’ve paid a great price to rescue you. Trust us, we’ve got no ill intentions. We’ve got no ulterior motives either. I only have one goal. To understand the truth behind some matters. So do not leave.”
It was a courteous warning.
The man with the cobra tattoo nodded, still silent. He too had questions that required answers from Xia Lei. Even if Xia Lei hadn’t mentioned that, he had no plans to leave.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
have a nice day!