The rooftop was full of people, so many that the security staff had to block off entrances to the roof and stop people from going up.
The challenge had not begun but Xia Lei had already transferred the 20,000,000 Euros to the bank account of the Moscow International Convention and Exhibition Centre, and Chekhov became the officiator of the challenge. 50,000 Euros was enough for him to take on these duties.
Tang Yuyan put the box with the two sniper rifles in Xia Lei’s hands and he opened it with practiced motions. Quite a few reporters were taking pictures of him and these pictures would appear on international media later.
The sniper-employees picked by Barrett, HK and FN were already in position. The executives of the three companies had also come up to the rooftop, interested in seeing the power of this XL2500. They did not think that a China-made sniper rifle would be up to par.
“Mr Xia, do we begin just like this?” The Belgium FN company’s executive, Ileva walked up to Xia Lei and looked at him with an odd gaze.
Xia Lei was amiable. “Ms Ileva, I think we’re ready. Mr Chekhov has prepared the targets for us on the rooftops of several buildings opposite us. We can begin at any time.”
Just then, Chekhov spoke into the intercom, “Raise the targets.”
A target was soon raised on top of a building opposite the Moscow International Convention and Exhibition Centre, about 800 metres away. The target had a circle of LED lights and was visible from far away.
“Are you kidding me?” The Barrett executive, Joe Barton scoffed. “A target at this distance can be hit easily with our company’s guns from ten years ago. You’re not using that target to test our guns’ capabilities, are you?”
The HK executive, Mueller, also spoke up, “Yes, and if we all hit the target then how do we determine who’s won?”
Xia Lei smiled. “What you see now is just one of the targets. I was taking the capabilities of your sniper rifles into consideration when I requested for a target at 800 metres. I don’t actually need it. I want to hit the target at 2,500 metres and 3,200 metres.”
The expressions on the faces of the executives of the three large companies changed.
“The targets further out are on the rooftops of buildings too but you’ll need professional snipers to hit them,” added Xia Lei.
The executives picked up their respective company’s latest surveillance equipment and looked. They did spot the targets further out. One was 1,500 metres away, another at 2,000 metres and the ones at 2,500 metres and 3,200 metres like Xia Lei had mentioned.
On the other side, Chekhov had invited some media reporters to observe targets further away with telescopes. Those targets also had a circle of LED lights and were easy to spot.
Some military enthusiasts had also spotted the furthest target with the telescope and were abuzz with discussion.
“Oh my gawd, that snipe’s far out! The bullet’s got to fly like three or four seconds. If the bullet can hit that, then it’s gonna be LEGENDARY!”
“Nah, likely not. This Chinese guy’s prepared. He’s set up so many targets at different distances. He just needs to shoot what the other companies shoot and he won’t lose.”
“That must be it. Who’s gonna just give 20,000,000 Euros away?”
“Ah! 20,000,000 Euros! I should’ve brought my Barrett M82A1 sniper rifle today to participate in this challenge. I could have a chance to win that money.”
“Dream on. This is a challenge between companies. Individuals aren’t qualified to participate.”
“Yeah, what would it benefit him to win against you? If that Chinese guy wins against Barrett, a new king of sniper rifles will have to be crowned.”
These words were overheard by the Barrett executive and they stung like a provocative barb.
“Mr Xia,” said Joe Barton, “We’ll need to sign an agreement before we begin. If you lose, you have to hold up your end of the bargain and pay the 20,000,000 Euros. And if you lose, you’ll have to leave. Finish up whatever your company has at this exhibition and withdraw from the exhibition.”
The FN executive also spoke up, “Yes, that has to be added too. This farce should end itself early.”
This was not a fair agreement. If Xia Lei lost, he would have to not only pay the 20,000,000 but pull Thunder Horse Military Factory from the exhibition too. Barrett, FN and HK, on the other hand, would suffer no losses.
Some media reporters started whispering amongst themselves when they heard the terms of the agreement; they felt it unfair.
Just when everyone thought that Xia Lei would refuse, he laughed and said breezily, “No problem. I can sign an agreement like that.”
Chekhov then had his people draft the agreement and print out four copies to be sent up to the rooftop. While this was going on, the snipers from Barrett, FN and HK were making their preparations, testing wind speed, light refraction and distance and adjusting their sniper rifles.
Xia Lei signed the agreement. Joe Barton, Mueller and Ileva also signed.
And so they entered the final stage of preparations for the challenge.
The spectating crowd suddenly surged as they were bodily pushed aside to open up a passage. Some bodyguards surrounding a blonde-haired, blue-eyed towering woman and a cameraman walked onto the challenge grounds. The woman held a microphone in her hand with the Russian National television station logo on it.
The Russian National television station covered the entire Russian Federation and was the biggest television station in Russia with the highest viewership. Their appearance here was a pleasant surprise for Xia Lei.
The impressive female reporter entered work-mode as soon as she stepped into the challenge area. She held the microphone and spoke confidently into the camera, “Hello viewers, I am Natalya. I am now at the Moscow International Convention and Exhibition Centre where an emerging Chinese company has challenged the giants of the light weapons industry. It is reported that this Chinese company, called Thunder Horse Military Factory, has put 20,000,000 Euros on the line. If the company fails, 20,000,000 Euros will be awarded to the winning party. This is a huge sum, and the companies, Barrett, FN and HK, who have accepted this challenge are giants in the light weapons industry. Just who would be awarded this huge sum of 20,000,000 Euros? Let us wait and see…”
It was plain that the beautiful Natalya from the Russian National television station did not think well of Xia Lei’s chances of winning. He was challenging the giants of the industry after all and they had been the ‘kings’ of this field for dozens of years. His little Thunder Horse Military Factory was just an unknown upstart.
“May we begin?” Joe Barton had lost his patience. “This farce has gone on for long enough.”
Xia Lei smiled faintly. “Then let’s begin. You guys go first. You can shoot at any target you’d like. Your snipers and your sniper rifles show some result first, then I’ll shoot and show the capabilities of the XL2500 to everyone.”
Joe Barton snorted, then signalled for the Barrett sniper to shoot.
The Barrett sniper took his position, aimed and fired. He hit the target at 800 metres, and in the nine ring too; this was an impressive result.
A round of applause rang out on the roof in praise of the skill of the Barrett sniper and the capabilities of the Barrett sniper rifle.
The FN and HK snipers took their shots too. The FN sniper hit the target in the eight ring at 800 metres, and the HK sniper hit the ten ring. This result made the HK executive smile, and he looked confident that he would pocket the 20,000,000 Euros.
“Your turn.” Mueller looked smugly at Xia Lei. “Mr Xia, you can admit your loss right away too; no need to draw laughter.”
Xia Lei was not upset at all and he maintained his amiable smile. “Mr Mueller, I’ve said that I will shoot after your snipers have shown their best results. Please continue. Let your snipers shoot and reach the the level that they can reach.”
This arrogance! He was looking down on the three industry giants!
Mueller couldn’t be bothered to argue with Xia Lei any longer and he signalled the HK sniper to keep shooting.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
The three industry giants’ snipers went on to shoot at targets further away.
Applause and cheers came from the rooftop after every shot, and the venue was very lively indeed.
And during that time, Xia Lei, who should have felt nervous, was standing on the rooftop and being interviewed by Natalya.
“Mr Xia, can you tell me the reason why you’ve done something like this?” Natalya stood next to Xia Lei and put the microphone before him when she was done speaking.
Xia Lei smiled naturally and said, “I put up 20,000,000 Euros for this challenge because I want to prove to everyone that China does not just produce socks and shirts. Our manufacturing industry has had new developments and our quality is not inferior to the West. Take my company’s XL2500 for example. I dare say that it is the best sniper rifle in the world, and that no other company can surpass it.”
“Wow, Mr Xia, your Russian is very good.” Natalya’s smile was wide. “Right, the other companies have their own professional snipers but I don’t see any such person for your company. Who is going to be taking the shots?”
“I am. I can be counted as a sniper too. I am an amateur but I am confident that I can complete my shots,” said Xia Lei.
“Amateur? Oh my, but the other three companies have sent professionals.”
Xia Lei spoke honestly, “It’s all right. Our gun is good so it can make up for my gap in technique.”
Tang Yuyan, who was standing next to Xia Lei, wanted to give Xia Lei a kick. If he was an amateur sniper then who could qualify to be called a professional sniper in this world? She thought of the time in Afghanistan where he had done one-shot-one-kill in the fight against the American Special Forces and her face grew hot.
At that moment, the crowd on the rooftop exclaimed all of a sudden. Barrett and HK’s snipers had hit the target at 2,000 metres, and in the five ring.
“Looks like we’ll have to split the prize,” said Mueller laughingly to Joe Barton.
Joe Barton laughed. He could accept this result too.
“Mr Xia, you may shoot now,” said the FN executive, Ileva.Previous Chapter Next Chapter