Escaping with Annina seemed like the smartest choice but it wasn’t. Running away together would mean exposing their backs to that South Asian sniper’s colleagues and Annina was not fast either. Both of them would be killed if the enemy caught up to them.
The other reason was that these snipers were most likely the Gu clan’s hirelings, meaning Danny would be participating in this too. Xia Lei did not want to miss an opportunity to take Danny out!
In another time and place, Xia Lei would have absolutely no excuse or reason to shoot at someone as a normal citizen but it was different now. This was self-defence, and the gun belonged to Tang Yu-Yan!
Annina’s retreating back disappeared from his sight and Xia Lei left the rocky, tree-less terrain. He entered a patch of dense forest. He was tense; alert. As he moved he activated his left eye’s zoom-in and X-ray powers to survey his surroundings.
A few minutes passed but the sniper’s colleagues did not appear. No one fired either.
The sun went below the horizon and the mountain forest gradually quieted.
Xia Lei hid behind a large tree, facing downward from the mountain. He used his left eye to keep surveying the areas flanking him and then used his X-ray vision on the high areas of the mountain opposite. There were no movements in the forest. It was like a dead world if one discounted the sounds of the wind and the chatter of birds returning to their nests.
‘I shot that South Asian sniper so his colleagues must know. Were they frightened away? No, impossible. But why aren’t they showing themselves if they haven’t run away? Is he waiting for something…’ Xia Lei looked up at the darkening sky and suddenly realised something.
The enemy was waiting for nightfall.
Xia Lei had no equipment to help him see at night. If the enemy had decided that he was a formidable opponent, they would wait for dark to move, since they would surely have equipment to see in the dark. The enemy only needed to keep watch on the paths down the mountain during this time.
Every sniper had great patience and endurance.
Xia Lei was lacking a little in these departments but he was no ordinary sniper.
He gave up on waiting and slung the sniper rifle over his back. He looked up at the branches above him and bent his knees, jumping up like a wildcat. His body lifted from the ground in a jump over two metres high. The distance of over two metres between his feet and the ground, plus his height and arm range enabled him to grab hold of a branch five metres off the ground. He pulled his body up on that branch.
The Tang Qinggong he’d learnt from Tang Yu-Yan came in handy and he had some results after practicing for two weeks.
Up in the tree, Xia Lei moved cautiously from branch to branch and soon reached the highest point he could climb.
This tree was at least twenty metres and was taller than any of the trees nearby. Xia Lei’s visual range broadened quite a bit after he climbed up. The lack of sufficient light was no obstacle to him. His left eye could even see a rabbit moving about a thousand metres away in the dark of night!
Xia Lei’s left eye searched his surroundings like a radar.
He spotted two targets after a few minutes. There was a blonde man at his eight O’clock holding a Barrett anti-material rifle. This rifle could penetrate armoured cars and it would be fairly difficult to avoid getting hit by it when hiding behind a tree. There was an Asian man at his twelve O’clock with a M200 sniper rifle. Both had painted faces and were covered with camouflage like the professionals they were.
Xia Lei focused his eye on the Asian man. His face was covered with paint but Xia Lei still recognised him - Danny!
A small sneer appeared on Xia Lei’s lips and he moved his sniper rifle from his shoulder and onto a branch. The one he aimed at, however, was not Danny but the blonde man with the Barrett anti-material rifle…
A small wind blew and foliage rustled. Sounds like these covered the sound of feet treading on fallen leaves. Even with cover like that and night-vision equipment, Danny’s nerves were still as taut as a strung bow. He grew increasingly nervous with every step.
He was up against Xia Lei - till now, the scene from his attempt on Xia Lei’s life still replayed in his mind. He had pulled the trigger the instant the door opened but Xia Lei had dodged his bullet!
Who could relax when up against an opponent like that? Besides, the highly-trained professional he had hired from South Asia had already been killed by Xia Lei!
Danny definitely did not want to be within three thousand metres of Xia Lei with a sniper rifle if he had a choice. However, Gu Ding-Shan had a bone-deep hatred for him and wanted him dead no matter what. He could refuse anything but Gu Ding-Shan’s orders.
“He’s in that patch of forest. I can take him out when it gets a little darker,” said Danny to himself as he moved cautiously forward.
The voice of his colleague, Cain, came from his earphones, “Danny, he’s been cornered in that patch of forest but I lost sight of him. What’s with this guy? Is he a monkey?”
Danny lowered his voice, “Don’t talk! He’s more cunning than you think!”
Cain did not shut up. “Fuck. Tell me who this guy is. He was actually able to kill Tiger! What are you hiding?”
“Bastard! Can’t you shut up?” Danny was mad.
“Sure, but you have to tell your boss to increase my retainer. Five million is not enough for me to want to deal with this guy,” came Cain’s voice.
A killer for hire at five million US dollars - this was a high price anywhere in the world. This amount showed how much Gu Ding-Shan wanted Xia Lei dead.
“You fucker, you’re just trying to profit from someone else’s misfortune!” Hate flashed in Danny’s eyes. ‘I’ll kill you after I kill Xia Lei!’ he swore coldly to himself.
“Increase the retainer. Add a million or I’m not doing the job,” came Cain’s voice.
“Fine. My boss won’t be bothered by this bit of money. Get the job done first and I guarantee that you’ll get the money,” said Danny.
The report of a gunshot came from the forest right after he finished speaking.
Danny instinctively dropped flat to the ground and rolled behind a tree trunk. “Cain, did you see him? Cain? Cain?”
Danny’s voice came from the receiver but Cain could not respond any longer. There was a gaping pit in his chest and his heart had been obliterated.
Bang! Another gunshot.
The tree trunk shuddered and bark flew in all directions. Danny did not dare look out from behind the tree. He protected his head with his arms to avoid getting pierced by tree shrapnel. He had been thinking of how he was going to kill Xia Lei just two seconds earlier but his heart was now filled with terror. The scene from when Xia Lei dodged his killing shot replayed in his mind and he felt a chill go down his back.
Bang! A bullet came flying and hit the same spot as the previous one. The trunk splintered further and the great impact made it shake as sawdust billowed.
Danny scrambled to his feet and away from the tree trunk, looking for his next hiding place. As he prepared to dash toward the next tree, a bullet came grazing past the trunk to hit a rock next to him, sending sparks flying up. Rock fragments struck him in his legs and they did not penetrate the fabric of his clothing but they burnt, hurting him.
This shot seemed to be a calculated shot to keep him in place, based on where he was likely to run. It was a good thing that he had been a second too slow or he’d have been dead once he stepped out.
“Fuck, is that guy a human or a monster?” Danny was shocked and angry. His terror grew. He set his sights on another tree at the other side and prepared to change his hiding place.
Before Danny could discern when Xia Lei would shoot next, the fourth bullet came flying, hitting the trunk behind him. The bullet tore through the battered trunk and into Danny’s back.
“Argh!” Danny let out a cry of pain. The force of the shot pushed him to the ground.
The tree trunk had absorbed some of the attack but his back had still received a terrible wound. The bullet had hit his kidneys and blood flowed as his consciousness was consumed by pain.
Danny abandoned his sniper rifle and drew a handgun. He lay on the ground, unmoving. He knew well that he was not enough of an opponent for Xia Lei when uninjured, much less now. He had only one hope now, and that was Xia Lei thinking him dead and coming to check on his body. He could use his handgun to shoot Xia Lei then.
Three seconds later… Bang!
“Argh!” Danny cried in pain again. A third of his left thigh was missing! Pain rolled over him and he fell into a dead faint.
Faking death? He’d have to try to pull the wool over Xia Lei’s left eye first.
And there was not been anyone who could fool Xia Lei’s left eye on this Earth yet.
Xia Lei slid down the tree and ran towards Danny with his sniper rifle.
Danny lay on the ground, bleeding from his wounds. He was not dead; his heart was still beating.
Xia Lei walked to Danny’s side and flipped him over with his foot. He picked up the handgun from Danny’s hand and his combat knife, then poked him in his ‘human centre’ acupuncture point.
Danny opened his eyes with a weak moan and saw Xia Lei’s face. He’d rather see the face of the devil than Xia Lei’s face then.
“You’re awake. Want me to help you stem the bleeding?” Xia Lei looked concerned.
“Pah!” Danny wanted to spit in Xia Lei’s face but he lacked the strength. Bloody saliva dribbled from his mouth; it was disgusting.
Xia Lei frowned. “Is Gu Ding-Shan worth you selling your life?”
“Kill me!” Danny cried spitefully.
Xia Lei shook his head. “I won’t kill you; you’re still useful. I’ll help you stem the bleeding and send you to the hospital for treatment. I can guarantee that Gu Ding-Shan will be finished, along with you.”
Danny reached for the handgun which Xia Lei had tossed aside.
Xia Lei frowned, then lifted his rifle and hit him on the head with the butt of the gun…
It had been useless to awaken him.Previous Chapter Next Chapter