Chapter 368 - Project Metal X

“What is that, Grandpa? There are so many birds…”

Who’s he calling ‘Grandpa’?

Wang Lei, Long Bing and Xia Lei looked at Chen Kexue. 

Chen Kexue stared back at them, but it was as if they were air. He kept talking, “Hubby, let’s return to Bianliang*. I miss home.”

Wang Lei shook his head. “Insane. Really insane. What a pity. Doctor Chen Kexue is an important member of our team. His condition will affect our research.”

“Why did this happen?” asked Long Bing, “Did he show any such behaviour before?”

“No, definitely not,” said Wang Lei. “He’s never had any psychotic episodes in all the time I’ve known him. His family doesn’t have any history of this sort of condition either, so it’s not possible that it’s hereditary.”

Xia Lei kept his silence while Long Bing and Wang Lei discussed the situation; he kept watch on Chen Kexue. 

Chen Kexue did look insane from the behaviour he displayed but if one carefully dissected his words, a different opinion would be formed. 

‘He spoke as a soldier first, then mentioned ‘Princess’. Then he spoke like a child next and mentioned birds. Next, a woman talking about Bianliang… Bianliang was the old capital of the Ming dynasty, and the ‘Princess’ he spoke of could also be Princess Yong-Mei. And the birds mentioned by that child… Could it be the bats I encountered in the tomb?’ Xia Lei analysed quietly, thinking. 

“What do you think, Mr Xia?” said Wang Lei. 

“I dare not make any assumptions,” said Xia Lei. 

Long Bing rolled her eyes, then nudged Xia Lei with her elbow. “Just say it.”

“Yes, please speak your mind, Mr Xia,” said Wang Lei. 

So they didn’t want him to know things and excluded him from the research project but wanted him to do things for them, write reports and offer opinions. There was no reason to let them occupy his time anymore, and they weren’t going to give him something?

Xia Lei gave a laugh. “I do have some idea, and it may be the real reason why Doctor Chen is mad.”

“What is the reason?” asked Wang Lei anxiously. 

“My thoughts are still rather jumbled so I need time to sort them out. Give me some time and I’ll tell you,” said Xia Lei. 

Wang Lei wrinkled his brows, and he felt like he had been conned by Xia Lei. 

“Xia Lei, you’re the only one who can write the report that Scholar Wang needs. Stay here tonight and write that report. Sort out your thoughts while you write. I’ll hand in your report and your thoughts on the matter to Scholar Wang in the morning. Is that all right with you?” said Long Bing. 

“Sure, I’ll follow that arrangement.” Xia Lei agreed readily. 

“Is this all right with you, Scholar Wang?” Long Bing asked Wang Lei. 

Wang Lei seemed dissatisfied with it but he nodded. “Then we’ll do that. I’ll get someone to arrange for your lodging. However, let me remind you that you cannot move about as you please, and that you cannot ask for information.”

“No problem.” Long Bing gave Xia Lei a look. 

“No problem,” said Xia Lei.

Chen Kexue mumbled something again, softly, and couldn’t be heard clearly but Xia Lei had been keeping an eye on him. Chen Kexue’s words had no coherence and his identity was changing constantly. He had changed through several identities in the span of time that Xia Lei had talked with Wang Lei. 

Xia Lei’s first prognosis of Chen Kexue was that he was not crazy but it was difficult to say what caused this. 

Wang Lei led Long Bing and Xia Lei out of the medical room, and got someone to get them rooms. He also handed a notebook computer to Xia Lei for convenience of writing the report. Xia Lei spouted compliance and agreement but threw the computer to one side and lay on the bed to rest after he entered the room. 

He had no plans to hand in the report, much less stay up the whole night to write it. He had his thoughts straight - the greater the number of problems this group had, the greater his chances of getting closer to the research on the ancient alloy, and the information he wanted. He would be a big fool indeed if he did whatever they wanted him to like a good boy. 

After lying on the bed for a bit, he awakened the power of his left eye and looked at the room on his left. 

The room was a storage room for experimental consumables and spare equipment for research. Xia Lei examined those but didn’t get any new information. He then strengthened his power and looked through the second wall, further into the room after the one next to him. 

This drained a lot of his energy but he had no choice if he wanted to get more information. 

The second room on the left was an office. There was a computer and a name-plate on the desk and Wang Lei’s name was on the nameplate. 

‘Wang Lei’s office?’ Xia Lei grew excited. ‘Wang Lei is the person in charge of this project, and this group of experts has been conducting research here for some time so there must be some record related to the research. I hope it’s on paper. If it’s all saved on the computer then I won’t be able to see…’

There was a room between himself that that office, and two walls but Xia Lei’s left eye was like burglar, sifting through the room for information which could be valuable. 

A few minutes later, he used his left eye to ‘open’ a locked drawer in the desk and he found a paper file inside. 

The cover of the file read ‘Project Metal X Records’ and Wang Lei’s name as the person in charge. 

‘Project Metal X? What a strange name.’ Xia Lei was curious and his eye roamed further. 

Xia Lei’s vision had evolved a lot from its original state and his technique in using it have reached a point of perfection. He did not need to use his hands to turn the pages of a book anymore - he could control his left eye and ‘turn’ the pages one by one. 

This seemed to be related to the ‘upgrade’ of his brain but there was no way to prove it. 

On the first page was written: The components of Metal X still remain a mystery after over a thousand scans, sample-taking and tests. Members of the expert groups occasionally hear strange sounds which are difficult to explain. I have had similar experiences too - sometimes it is a woman’s voice, sometimes it is a man. It feels very strange. Following the deeper study of this metal, some members have experienced negative effects on their bodies. Some had conditions like itchy skin, or nausea and vomiting, but they have recovered after treatment. It is unknown if it is because of their interaction with Metal X…

Xia Lei was perplexed after reading the handwritten record.

‘I heard strange voices in Afghanistan too. A woman said she remembered my face - looks like that was not an auditory hallucination. The sounds must exist; that’s why the members of the expert group can hear them. These sounds… could the sounds have come from the two pieces of green alloy? How’s that possible?’ Xia Lei couldn’t find an explanation for it; it was unfathomable.  

The sight in his left eye suddenly blurred. It was difficult for him to maintain his X-ray vision at increased strength for long periods of time, even now. 

Xia Lei stopped using his X-ray vision. He was dizzy but experienced no hallucinations like in the beginning. He rested for a bit and quickly recovered. He then turned his gaze to the wall on the right. 

The room on his right was Long Bing’s room. 

What would Long Bing be doing in a similar environment?

Xia Lei called up the power of his left eye with that thought in mind and the wall on the right disappeared. 

Long Bing was doing push-ups. 

‘How hardworking.’ Xia Lei smiled. Long Bing climbed to her feet and picked up the phone next to the head of the bed as he was about to stop using his eye. 

Xia Lei was struck by a thought and he continued using his X-ray vision. He focused on Long Bing’s lips. 

Their mobile phones had been taken away when they’d entered this place so the phone in her room was an internal phone system. Was it Wang Lei calling at this hour? 

This guess was quickly proven wrong because Long Bing’s first line was ‘Boss Shi’. 

It was easy for Boss Shi to phone in - he should have greater clearance than Long Bing did. 

“Nn, yes, Xia Lei and I are staying overnight,” said Long Bing, “Uh huh… I told him to write a report. I hope it can help the experts solve their problem… Xia Lei’s reaction? Hm. Normal. He didn’t say much and didn’t ask much… I will continue to keep watch. Yes. Goodbye.”

Continue to keep watch? Xia Lei’s heart sank. 

Long Bing put down the phone but she did not go back to exercising. She unhooked her bra, removed her last stitch of clothing and walked towards the bathroom. 

A nosebleed-worthy scene met his eyes but Xia Lei could only think of Long Bing’s last line. ‘Continue to keep watch? Watch me? Bureau 101 suspects me? What is there for them to suspect?’

The more he pondered, the worse his mood became. 

‘I risked my life in Afghanistan and spent my own money to bribe the armed tribesmen. I even sacrificed my body to win Szlamy over. I managed to bring these things back from Afghanistan after all that trouble - fine, don’t let me participate in this project but keeping watch on me? What do they take me for? A tool which can be used over and over again? Looks like it’s time for me to cut ties with Bureau 101.’ Xia Lei grew angrier the more he thought about it and it made him think of leaving. 

Long Bing entered the bathroom and her snowy-white body disappeared behind the frosted glass door. 

Xia Lei stopped using his X-ray vision. He was being watched by Long Bing but he felt no resentment towards her because he understood her. She was steadfast in the missions Bureau 101 assigned to her and she carried them out meticulously. 

Knock knock knocking suddenly came from the door. 

Xia Lei got up to open it and found Wang Lei outside. “What is it, Scholar Wang?” greeted Xia Lei. 

“Another person has gone mad! Quick, come to the laboratory!” Wang Lei went to Long Bing’s room next. “I’ll call Chief Long.”

How could this be? 

Xia Lei started running towards the laboratory. 

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translationraven's Thoughts

*Bianliang (old name for Kaifeng) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaifeng