The red BMW M6 came to a small neighbourhood and Liang Si-Yao parked her car, then entered an apartment building. A ratty-tatty red Polo entered the neighbourhood after she went into the building.
Xia Lei wound down the window and saw Liang Si-Yao enter the apartment building. He alighted too and entered the building.
Xia Lei used his left eye’s zoom-in ability in the stairwell and Liang Si-Yao’s footprints appeared. He was familiar with everything about her, including her footprints. He followed these footprints to a door on the third floor. Liang Si-Yao had entered this door.
Liang Si-Yao had never mentioned this place and Xia Lei had never been here.
Xia Lei’s left eye twitched and the tightly-shut door disappeared before his left eye.
This was not a flat one lived in. Several pieces of medical equipment like microscopes, analysis apparatus and so on were in the flat - it looked like a small science laboratory.
In the room, Liang Si-Yao took out the container with his condom and squeezed the liquid in it in a glass test tube. She then put the glass test tube in a piece of equipment and the piece of equipment started spinning.
Xia Lei was dumbstruck. ‘She’s analysing my… stuff… What is she planning to do?’
Just then, Liang Si-Yao took out the pill and walked over to an analysis machine. She carefully opened the capsule and removed a tiny portion for analysis.
Two minutes later, Liang Si-Yao suddenly stiffened, then pushed the analysis machine over on the experimentation table in an emotional fit. She knelt on the floor, holding her head with her hands and looking like she was in pain.
Only the shell of the pill was real - the contents were just ordinary amoxicillin powder. She was an exceptionally smart woman and she already knew what it meant.
Xia Lei hesitated, then reached out and knocked on the door.
It was now time to confront her.
Knock knock knock.
Liang Si-Yao lifted her head to look at the tightly-shut door. She was nervous.
Xia Lei continued knocking. Knock knock knock.
Liang Si-Yao stood and walked to the door. She looked out the peephole and her teeth tore through her lip when she saw that the person standing beyond the door was Xia Lei.
Liang Si-Yao did not open the door.
“Si-Yao, open the door. It’s just me. Do you want to talk to me, or to Long Bing?” said Xia Lei.
Liang Si-Yao finally opened the door. She stood in the doorway, looking like her soul had left her body.
Xia Lei passed her as he walked into the flat.
Liang Si-Yao shut the door.
The two of them said nothing; they just looked at each other.
After a while, Xia Lei broke the heavy silence. “Why?”
“I…” Liang Si-Yao spoke just one word before the tears fell. What else could she say, now that it had come to this?
Xia Lei shook his head. “Stop with the tears. I won’t believe them anymore. Tell me - Why?”
Liang Si-Yao bit her cherry lips. She bit hard, and the little trickle of blood between her white teeth was particularly striking.
The corners of Xia Lei’s eyes grew wet too but he steeled himself and did not let tears form.
Liang Si-Yao took a deep breath. “Just hit me if it’ll make you feel better.”
“I want to know the truth.” Xia Lei was out of patience.
Liang Si-Yao grew silent again and her tears fell quietly.
Xia Lei laughed abruptly. “I told you I don’t believe your tears anymore. You’ve done all this - you think tears will get you my forgiveness? And that we can pretend nothing happened? I did not contact Long Bing on account of our relationship. I have nothing to say if you won’t even tell me the truth - I’ll let Long Bing come ask you.” He took out his phone when he was done speaking.
“Wait!” Liang Si-Yao grew nervous. “Don’t call her here. I’ll tell you.”
Xia Lei put down his phone. “Tell me.”
Liang Si-Yao smiled bitterly. “My father sent me to America to study because I have an uncle there. He is a US Military Officer. I am good at martial arts and also excelled in several fields so he recommended me to the Central Intelligence Agency - the CIA. I started receiving various trainings in high school and my time in university was no different. I’ve participated in many missions and have always completed them well. I have also been promoted many times and become a high-ranking intelligence officer. But my father knows nothing of this. Everything I’ve done is not related to him.”
“He is still my Master, don’t worry. Keep talking,” said Xia Lei.
Liang Si-Yao let out a breath. “Before I returned to China, I was transferred to a very special task force in charge of a mission called ‘Patch’.”
“Patch? Is this the mission targeting me?”
“Yes, but not just you. The previous target was your father, Xia Chang-He.” Liang Si-Yao looked at Xia Lei. “You still don’t know, do you? Your father is a free agent. He has a name too - Jing Ke*. We call him The Assassin.”
Xia Lei stared blankly, not quite believing what he was hearing.
“I know it is difficult for you to accept this truth but he is someone who works for money. However, we don’t know who he’s working for this time. We thought he was working for China in the beginning but investigations found that he wasn’t. We used vast amounts of our resources, human and material, and finally found The Assassin’s real identity - Xia Chang-He. Then we found you. You’d coincidentally joined my father’s martial school, so I appeared,” said Liang Si-Yao.
Liang Si-Yao fell silent again after saying all that.
Xia Lei gave a cold laugh. “So it was all pre-arranged. Our love was all part of your plan, huh?”
“It is part of the plan, but…” Liang Si-Yao suddenly raised her voice, “My feelings for you are real! If you hadn’t found out, I would have used the result of this mission to trade for my freedom, and when I have my freedom I can have a chance to be with you!”
Xia Lei shook his head. “I don’t care if what you say is true. I don’t care anymore. It’s not possible between us.”
Liang Si-Yao’s tears rolled down again. Xia Lei’s words were like a knife stabbing into her heart.
“Keep going. You’ve said so much but you haven’t said anything about the most important part. This ‘Mission Patch’. Why are you after my father? Why have I become your target?” said Xia Lei.
“Don’t ask any more. Really, don’t ask any more.” Liang Si-Yao looked like she was in pain.
Xia Lei hardened his heart and shouted, “Speak! Tell me!”
“You…” Liang Si-Yao let out a long breath. “All right. I won’t keep it from you. I’ll tell you what you want to know. Your father is highly capable. He stole the results of America’s AE Program.”
Xia Lei’s heart leapt when the words ‘AE’ entered his ear.
Liang Si-Yao kept talking. “The AE Program is short for ‘Artificial Evolution’. This program is the American military’s top secret and many top-ranking American officers don’t even know about it. Your father not only found out, but stole all twelve pills from the AE Program. The entire program was stalled. The American military started Patch after that.”
Xia Lei immediately thought of that last pill. According to what Liang Si-Yao had said, it was a drug which could make humans evolve. This explained how he had mysteriously gained his X-ray vision!
“Afterwards, when we found your father’s real identity, we naturally found you. We’ve been keeping tabs on you since you were discovered. We discovered that you had taken AE pills after some analysis. We originally had plans to kidnap you and take you to America but you became involved with Bureau 101 and it has a fairly secure monitoring system. We would draw their attention if we acted rashly. The AE Research Centre does not want you to become China’s live specimen, so it took a more secure route. I was sent to get into contact with you, date you, and then take the samples they need.”
Xia Lei couldn’t help glancing at the metal tube Liang Si-Yao had put on the laboratory table. She had actually used her own body to get the sample, yet she’s telling him that her feelings for him were real!
Xia Lei smiled bitterly. “But the AE Research Centre wants to get me to America somehow in the end, right? I remember you encouraging me to go overseas for a holiday - that was for this goal, wasn’t it?”
Liang Si-Yao said nothing but the look in her eyes seemed to confirm it.
Xia Lei’s heart filled with bitterness. “So if I didn’t see through you, and we got married, our honeymoon would be in America, won’t it? Once we step into America I’d be put in a prison van while you return to your CIA to resume your high-level intelligence officer duties, huh?”
Liang Si-Yao suddenly looked Xia Lei straight in the eyes. “I have no choice. No one can betray the CIA. All betrayers will be eliminated, no matter which part of the world they’re in. And have you forgotten your trip to Germany? I could have easily taken you and Long Bing down during your trip to Germany but I did not! Truthfully, I’d also kept this from the CIA. I did it to protect you. Have you forgotten?”
Xia Lei was gobsmacked.
It was true. Liang Si-Yao could have caught him and Long Bing any time she wanted when they were in Germany but she had not.
“After that, they had doubts about me but they could not afford to lose me. I was forced to report to them to prove myself. This resulted in the matter with Annina and the German agents. Don’t think I don’t know that Annina is not dead - I’m just not blowing your cover.” Liang Si-Yao smiled wryly. “I’ve said so much - do you still doubt if what I said was true? You were the first man to touch my body!” Tears welled in her eyes at this point.
What she said might’ve been true but what meaning did it hold?
“Whether I believe you or not - is that important to you?” Xia Lei sounded beaten.
“Would I tell you the truth if you weren’t important to me? I’ve had professional training - I wouldn’t open my mouth if I didn’t want to, even if Long Bing interrogated me.” Liang Si-Yao continued looking straight at Xia Lei. “Tell me, do you believe that my feelings for you are true?”
Xia Lei did not speak but he nodded. The truth of feelings was actually emotion and there was no way he could delete the period of sweetness he had shared with her, and neither could he deny that she had let him off the hook by not reporting his trip to Germany. She definitely would not have done that if she did not have any feelings for him.
A faint smile appeared in the corners of Liang Si-Yao’s mouth, but it was a smile of forlorn pain.
“One last question - What conclusion have you come to after studying me for so long?” said Xia Lei.
Liang Si-Yao shook her head. “You are the one and only person on this Earth who has taken AE pills. It can make humans evolve but we don’t know how much you’ve evolved. From what we’ve observed so far, your intelligence is astounding and you have a very high learning ability. Your organ functions should be greater than a normal person’s but we have not analysed how much greater. You’ve been evolving all this while and we don’t know what the result will be either. I am actually also very curious about what sort of existence you are now but I dare not ask. Can you tell me now?”
It seemed she did not know about the mysterious X-ray ability of his left eye.
Xia Lei was silent for a bit before he said, “Go. Leave China. The further the better - don’t ever come back.”
“You… You’re letting me go?”
“You’ve let me off the hook in the past so I’m letting you off the hook now. We don’t owe each other anything,” said Xia Lei.
Liang Si-Yao bit her lip. “Can you really act as if nothing happened?”
Xia Lei avoided her gaze. “Leave. Quickly. Before I change my mind.”
Liang Si-Yao suddenly drew close and kissed Xia Lei on the cheek, then turned and left.
Xia Lei stood for a long time before he lifted a hand to wipe away the tears on his cheek. The tears were not just Liang Si-Yao’s - some were his own.
*Jing Ke, assassin - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jing_KePrevious Chapter Next Chapter