Xia Lei walked out of his workshop early the next afternoon. He had finished modifying the sniper rifle he had been working on for Long Bing and he put the locally-made and the AS50 sniper rifle parts in the plastic box which Ke Jie had brought him. Xia Lei did not have any experience using sniper rifles but he had capabilities and confidence beyond the norm in the realm of processing so he could confirm that the locally made sniper rifle he had processed would perform much better than the imported AS50. Long Bing would definitely be satisfied.
There was still an hour to go before the end of the workday and Xia Lei hesitated as he walked past the office building, but decided not to go back to the office in the end.
He put the plastic box in the boot of his BMW M6 and got ready to drive off.
“Lei.” Liang Si-Yao had walked out of the office building and she called out to him, “Where are you going?”
“I… I’m going to deliver the gun to Long Bing.” Xia Lei did not tell the truth. “She’s been pushing me for it.”
“Are you coming back for dinner?” asked Liang Si-Yao.
Xia Lei gave her a smile. “No need to wait for me. Eat with Xue.”
“Drive carefully. Come back early,” said Liang Si-Yao in concern.
“Nn, I’m off.” Xia Lei felt warm inside. He sat in the driver’s seat.
Liang Si-Yao went to his window and, with no regard for the eyes of the employees, stuck her face through the car window and kissed Xia Lei on the lips.
Xia Lei really wanted to tell her the truth in that instant but he swallowed his words before they got out. His father, Xia Chang-He, had disappeared mysteriously and his career and identity were suspect - it might even be something shady. He could not tell Liang Si-Yao before he found out the truth, even if he trusted her.
“Heh, you two - when are you sending me the wedding invitations? I’m waiting to drink your wedding wine.” Qin Xiang poked his head out from his office window and grinned.
Liang Si-Yao let go of Xia Lei and glared at Qin Xiang. “I’m not inviting you.”
Xia Lei laughed. “Don’t listen to her, Qin Xiang. You’ll definitely get some wedding wine. I’ve thought about it too and you’re going to be a groomsman.”
“Oh my! Really? That’s great…” Qin Xiang applauded in the window, then said, “But can I be the bridesmaid?”
Liang Si-Yao had an odd expression on her face.
Xia Lei started the car and escaped in a cloud of dust.
In the evening, Xia Lei arrived in the vicinity of Dayangshan Public Cemetery.
The cemetery was closed at this time but Xia Lei wasn’t going to go through the normal entrance. The less people who knew about this meeting, the better. The security guard would see his face and might want to record this or that if he went through the normal entrance so he parked his car in an inconspicuous corner and climbed over the wall into the cemetery.
Inside, Xia Lei followed the flagstone path to the hill. The cemetery was built on a hill and tombstones stood like dominoes in the darkness. Every tombstone represented a life and the story of the joys, sadness, bitterness and tribulations of life. The many tombstones crowded together made the cemetery take on a sinister air and made one feel depressed.
‘Of all places, why here?’ thought Xia Lei. However, his steps did not slow as he walked on towards the highest point of the cemetery. Throughout all this, he was on the alert, scanning his surroundings and looking for that Russian woman.
Xia Lei came to the cemetery’s end in ten minutes and could go no further - it was an untamed forest. If he walked further up he could reach the top of the hill but it was densely covered with trees and vegetation. It wasn’t going to be easy to find one person in this environment, even with X-ray vision.
Xia Lei looked at his watch. It was 7.50pm, ten minutes more till the meeting time. ‘She asked to meet me so she may be watching me right now and will only appear when it’s time. I might miss her if I go into the forest,’ thought Xia Lei.
Having made his decision, Xia Lei stayed in the spot where cemetery met forest to wait.
Ten minutes passed in the blink of an eye.
Rustling steps from the forest suddenly came from behind Xia Lei. He looked towards the sound and quickly saw the Russian woman. She was slowly and cautiously approaching him from the forest. What she did not know was that Xia Lei had already seen through all the leaves and branches and could see her clearly.
Xia Lei used his X-ray vision on the Russian woman as soon as she stepped out of the forest and discovered that she had a handgun and a combat knife on her person. This discovery made him nervous right away and he subconsciously stepped backwards.
“No need to be afraid.” The Russian woman walked out of the forest and spoke in fluent Chinese, “I am not your enemy.”
Xia Lei did not lower his guard. “Who in the world are you?”
“It’s not important who I am. You will know when it is time,” said the Russian woman.
Xia Lei was not satisfied with an answer like that. “You asked to meet, and here I am, but you’re not being sincere at all.”
“We do not need sincerity between us. We need trust.”
“What about him?” Xia Lei looked at the forest behind the Russian woman but did not see the man who looked exactly like his father.
“You don’t need to look. He has more important matters to tend to and he’s not in China now. He is worried for your safety. This is the reason why he asked me to meet you,” said the Russian woman.
Her words hit Xia Lei in the chest like a hammer and sent his heart reeling. The Russian woman had not said that that man was his father, but ‘he is worried for your safety’ was telling. That mysterious man was his father, Xia Chang-He!
Emotions flooded Xia Lei in that instant - excitement, happiness, anger, confusion and sadness. These emotions bound him like a rope; he had difficulty breathing.
“Don’t blame him. He’s got his difficulties,” said the Russian woman.
Xia Lei smiled bitterly. “Difficulties? What sort of difficulties can make a man abandon his family? You don’t know how I’ve lived these past years. Do you know how I felt when I tore up my acceptance letter from Jing-Du University? Let me tell you - that feeling was like I’ve died!”
“Aren’t you living well right now? He’s proud of you.”
“I don’t need him to feel proud of me. I just want to meet him. I want to hear him explain himself,” said Xia Lei.
“The day will come, believe me. He will return to your side one day and he will explain everything,” said the Russian woman.
Xia Lei looked straight at her. “Who are you to him?”
“I am his assistant,” said the Russian woman, “My name’s Yevgenia. I can only tell you this much.”
“You asked to meet me here all because he asked you to tell me that he’s concerned?”
“Of course not. Your father wants me to tell you that that last pill is extremely valuable. You should not keep it but take it, the faster the better,” said Yevgenia.
Xia Lei’s head was awhirl again. He remembered the last time when he had failed to meet his father that he had discovered a Russian word, ‘caution’, under the glass bottle. It now looked like Xia Chang-He had gone home and discovered that he had not taken the last pill.
Xia Lei was silent for a bit before saying, “Why does he want me to eat that pill? My body is fine. I don’t need any medicine.”
“He is your father. You have to trust that he will never harm you. On the contrary, all that he has done is for your own good. He’s telling you to take the pill so just take the pill. I don’t know much about it so I can’t tell you much more,” said Yevgenia.
“Just this?” Xia Lei was hesitant. Did he really have to take that pill?
“Another thing. You’ve been targeted. It’s dangerous for you,” said Yevgenia.
“Who’s targeting me? Why?” Xia Lei was full of doubts and he naturally thought of the American spy.
Yevgenia spoke, “It’s your…”
Half of Yevgenia’s chest exploded abruptly and Xia Lei was showered with human blood and gristle. Yevgenia’s body was thrown several steps backwards by the great force before it fell to the ground.
Yevgenia was dead - killed at the most critical moment.
Xia Lei dove to the ground and rolled to hide between two tombstones. He quickly scanned his surroundings but did not find the assassin who had killed Yevgenia. The enemy had evidently used an excellent sniper rifle, capable of hitting a target two kilometres away. His left eye could not see through obstacles to find the enemy at this distance.
He was just one step away from the truth but this step had become a sinister moat which could no longer be crossed.
Xia Lei was full of fear and anger. He did not know if he was the target of the sniper, so he did not dare make any false moves. He searched his memory for the sniper’s identity but came up with no leads.
The sniper’s target seemed to have been just Yevgenia. There was no second shot.
The night grew darker. Xia Lei shut his left eye and used his right eye to look at Yevgenia, who was in a pool of blood. When he confirmed that it would be impossible to see him clearly under normal circumstances, he cautiously crawled out from between the two tombstones and went slowly to Yevgenia’s side.
Yevgenia had long stopped breathing. The huge hole had drained her body of blood and the ground was covered in blood; the air was thick with the smell of blood.
“I’m sorry…” Xia Lei’s heart was full of guilt. He reached out and took a wallet from inside Yevgenia’s clothing, then disappeared in the darkness with it.
He would have made a police report under normal circumstances or given Long Bing a call but Yevgenia’s identity was unknown and she had a gun on her too. He had no way of explaining to the police or Long Bing what he was doing here and how Yevgenia had died. Furthermore, Yevgenia was his father’s assistant and things involving his father were not things he wanted the police or Long Bing to be involved in.
After weighing his options over and over, he finally decided to leave - alone.Previous Chapter Next Chapter