Regardless of whatever decided to befall the world, time would never freeze. It’d move forward with an undisturbed speed. Every second was a second closer to death.
No matter how hard you’ve hustled, no matter how much money you made per year, as soon as your time has reached its end, nothing would be left of you.
Sadly, there weren’t many in the world that could grasp such a simple concept.
Hattori Mei was one of them.
V Science Corporation Limited branch office.
“Damn it!” Hattori Mei smashed the coffee mug onto the tiled floor. Spread wide in front of her was a piece of intel offered by Japan’s HyperTech intelligence department. Someone was offering a twenty million USD bounty on her mother’s head. The reward would be greater if she was brought in alive instead. It was almost as if the world had decided to treat the Hattori clan like animals in a slaughterhouse!
The Hattori clan had originated from Hattori Hanzo. For centuries, they had never once faced such doom as today. What made Hattori Mei grow uncomfortable was the fact that the glory, belief and spirit that her clan had cultivated throughout the years was trampled over and deemed worthless!
Yagyu Yuichi and a hoard of Japanese samurais watched Hattori Mei in silence. What the Hattori clan had faced was equally humiliating as it was to them. But what could they possibly do to help the situation? Those assassins were merely working their asses off for money. Even if they rushed back to Japan and killed off all assassins, it would just prompt more to travel over to their land. It was a never-ending cycle.
“And here I was thinking that he was a humane person. I can’t believe he actually went ahead and did something so unspeakable! Bastard! Filthy animal! Scumbag!” Hattori Mei roared uncontrollably like an agitated wolf.
“Mei, calm down.” Yagyu Yuichi reassured, “Your mother is protected by the Japanese Police Force and the Land Defense Team. I reckon she’ll be alright for the time being. You need to focus on baiting Xia Lei out of his hiding spot. He is the one offering the bounty. You can void it as soon as you take him out.”
A tall woman with fox-like features shifted in her elaborate kimono. “We’ve been here in America for a while now. Each day was spent with unease, yet the man in question had yet to show himself. Hattori Mei, didn’t you guarantee his appearance? Why is he in Japan doing as his please and humiliating the entire samurai community with his cash? You told us to be patient. But this is what our patience is rewarded with?”
Leader of the Hatano-ryu, Hatano Naoka, expressed her displeasure. While she looked not a day over twenty, she was actually in her forties. Despite that, age did not tamper her beauty. She was a gorgeous woman that radiated lust.
“That Chinese bastard is using his wealth to buy the lives of the Hattori clan. Your family too runs a gigantic conglomerate, why are you not placing bounties on his head too?” A middle-aged man with a petite stature spoke.
He was the leader of the Koga-ryu, Sanada Saruo. He was only about one hundred and sixty centimetres tall and his body mass was no more than sixty kilogrammes, the man looked more like a quiet teacher than a veteran samurai. Despite that, his looks were a mere illusion. Sanada Saruo’s true colours were akin to a sharp blade. While it was short, it could cut through bones and easily reap one’s soul.
Hattori Mei answered, “If that was a viable choice, I would’ve used half the clan’s wealth as prize money over bounties on him, his women and children’s head. But it’s just not effective. Xia Lei’s house is right beside the Thunder Horse Organization and his family spends most of their time holed up in the Peace Mansion. There’s no need to mention Xia Lei’s personal armed force. Just by the protection offered by the Chinese state government, there’s no way an assassin could do their job. You need to understand that their government had stationed two thousand personnel of China’s most elite Special Force Team around Xia Lei’s territory. Aside from that, there are also two anti-aircraft missile systems installed in the premises. Added with the Thunder Horse’s Sweeper infantry fighting vehicle, the ZTZ100 main battle tank and the Hellbound One-Soldier Cannon are also present. Any attempts to kill Xia Lei in his homeland will be fruitless. We need to lure him out of the country to even stand a chance.”
“I had enough!” A strong samurai with a height of at least two metres interjected. “I had enough of your countless plans and direction changes. You’ve come up with so many plans and all of them have fallen through. That fucking Chinese parasite is still alive and well. If you’re not going to make a move, I’ll be leading my own operation.”
The person who spoke was a legendary existence in the samurai community. He was the leader of the Fuma clan, Fuma Kotaro.
The name, Fuma Kotaro, was heredity. The fifth Fuma Kotaro was one of the three most legendary ninjas that had ever served during Japan’s Sengoku Period. The leader of each Fuma generation was blessed with a tall body and extraordinary strength. It was said that the fifth-generation Fuma Kotaro stood at two metres tall and had his body covered in fleshy tumours. His face was horrible. Bulging eyes, a wide sinister jaw that had four abnormally sharp canine teeth peeking through each corner. His voice had rung like a deep bell and his roars could be miles away.
While the Fuma Kotaro of this generation was not as terrifying as his ancestor, he was admittedly halfway there. Among the crowd of samurais, he was the most eye-catching and intimidating of them all. A glare from him was enough to shut a wailing child up.
Which totally made sense for him to be the only one who dared to call Xia Lei a parasite.
“Fuma Kotaro, we must not rush into this.” Yagyu Yuichi’s tone remained courteous. “The Hattori clan are going through hard times now. Mei is visibly upset, but she had been doing a good job of holding herself together. We are a unit and Xia Lei is the mutual enemy of the Japanese empire and its people. If we fight each other before fighting him, how are we supposed to destroy Xia Lei? You must understand that the man is capable of chasing away America’s Seventh Fleet single-handedly!”
Fuma Kotaro huffed coldly but went silent. Sure, he was irritated but he had to admit that even his impressive family would not be able to achieve Xia Lei’s feat.
“Master Yagyu.” The gorgeous Hatano Naoka uttered, “From what I heard, one of your disciples, Tsukino Kyoko, is a servant of Xia Lei. Her hands must’ve been stained with the blood of our people. What do you plan to do about her?”
“Hmph! There’s no need to remind me!” Yagyu Yuichi’s gaze turned icy. “I’ll kill her personally!”
“If you can’t do it, there’s always the choice of letting me take over,” offered Hatano Naoka.
Sanada Saruo called for his attention. “Master Yagyu, I must say that your disciple is admirable. Will she be open to joining our cause?”
Yagyu Yuichi grimaced lightly. “I tried but to no avail.”
“Why?” Sanada Saruo asked.
“No particular reason,” Yagyu Yuichi offered a curt reply. He couldn’t help but be reminded of the lewd nothings his disciple had spilt over the phone last time. That was blatant disrespect that could only be compensated with her warmblood!
The office slipped into stifling silence. Everyone’s heart burdened with untold stories.
The uncomfortable quietness had stretched on until Hattori Mei disturbed it, “Judging by the timing, Xia Lei should be in Las Vegas now. He’s a master of hiding. If he wasn’t, the CIA’s face recognition system would’ve long notified us of his presence. I’m guessing that he had set up a temporary base in the outskirts. I’ll be sending HyperTech agents over to scout the area…”
Fuma Kotaro interjected again. “If he’s hiding, it means that he is also aware that you’re here. He’s deliberately not showing himself. It’s a clear sign that he already knows that this is all a trap. Would he come even if he’s clear about our plan?”
“We can’t continue waiting like this. We need a change of plans,” said Sanada Saruo.
“I agree.” Hatano Naoka expressed her support.
Hattori Mei was silent for a beat. “Alright. Since this is the majority sentiment, let’s talk about a new viable approach.”
The samurais glanced at one another. While they were dissatisfied and had qualms about Hattori Mei’s initial plan, it seemed that they did not have the requirements to come up with a brand new strategy. They were ninjas that killed people who walked in the sun. But their chances of killing someone who hid in the shadows were low.
No one had provided usable suggestions. Hattori Mei sighed and relented, “Then we shall stick to my plan. I’ll call Yan Fo and Augustan now and invite them over. Aside from them, I’ll also be inviting another key character. Erik, the person in charge of the AE Research Centre. The addition of three of them and me would certainly pique Xia Lei’s motivation to show himself.”
Yagyu Yuichi had his own set of concerns. “But what if the FA members refuse to come?”
Hattori Mei was confident. “They’ll come, trust me. They’re as eager as me to see Xia Lei perish.”
Meanwhile, in an abandoned farm building, north of Las Vegas.
Xia Lei stood at the basement’s door. He watched Alice, who was still asleep on the bed, through the stainless steel door as guilt ate his heart. After all, the man was using her in the greater scheme of things.
Footsteps approached him from behind.
Without turning back, Xia Lei asked in hushed tones, “Kyoko, why did you strip her clean?”
Tsukino Kyoko replied, “I was worried that she’d run away. It’s also a precautionary measure to check if she had any spy bugs planted on her.”
Xia Lei frowned. “She’s just an ordinary girl. Return her clothes soon, okay?”
“I can give her clothes but…”
“I know what you’re trying to say. I know killing her off would be safer than keeping her alive. While it is beneficial for us, I refuse to do that.” Xia Lei smiled wryly. “If we kill her, we are no different from Hattori Mei and the FA Organization. When everything is complete, we’ll let her go. I’ll hand her all the money I won from Thompson as some form of compensation.”
“That’s a very luxurious compensation.” Tsukino Kyoko plastered her front to his back. She wrapped her arms around his waist. “Did you give her the marks on her body?”
That took Xia Lei aback. “Uh… Well, I’m not that kind of person but I needed to give her a reason to believe me.”
“I want to try it too.” Tsukino Kyoko’s voice was soft like butter. Her intention to bed him was obvious now.
Xia Lei felt something pooling at the pit of his stomach.
Tsukino Kyoko’s palms slithered under his shirt like a snake. “My showdown with my master is about to happen in due time. I might not live to see past this trip. Would you be kind enough to let me go wild? I want to give you the most precious thing I have in my body.”
Xia Lei froze. “What is it?”
Tsukino Kyoko tiptoed and whispered into Xia Lei’s ear.
Xia Lei did not know what to say.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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