The dark sky held no moon or stars and grey clouds covered the sky. Visibility was low. However, this was no obstacle to the CIA team because they had night-vision equipment.
Ramsbigg led three people in pursuit of Xia Lei, following the tracks he had left behind and communicating with the flanking teams at the same time. Hank was right next to him. Hank was violent and rather heavily inclined towards violence but he was the best performer on his team. He had been through a hundred battles and Ramsbigg’s trust in Hank was rock-solid.
“Shit! How did that fucker wake up?” cursed Hank. “Are the anaesthetics we got a dud?”
“Capture him and we’ll know,” said Ramsbigg.
Hank spat on the ground. “That fucker is as annoying as all these reeds. I’m going to crush his kneecaps when we catch him. Let’s see if that bastard can still run!”
“Good thing he didn’t have a gun, or we’ll all be in danger,” said Ramsbigg.
“Is he that good with a gun? Pshaw!” Hank suddenly looked back, as if he’d heard voices talking, nagging.
Ramsbigg also reached up a hand to hold his head; he looked pained.
“What’s wrong, Boss?” asked an agent suspiciously.
“Nothing, just a headache. Keep going after him.” Ramsbigg tolerated the pain and kept going forward.
And Xia Lei’s tracks abruptly disappeared.
The four of them stopped in their tracks.
An agent’s voice came from over the communications device just then. “I think we see him!”
“Where?” said Ramsbigg, “Report!”
“He’s…” There was suddenly no sound from the communications device.
Nervousness flickered in Ramsbigg’s eyes.
A voice suddenly came from the communications device. “He’s attacking us! He’s…”
The speaker was silenced again.
“Talk!” screamed Ramsbigg. “Bastard!”
The team which reported seeing Xia Lei was the one which had gone left and comprised of four agents with night-vision equipment. They had been wiped out before they could report Xia Lei’s location!
This must’ve been what happened, because there would have been gunshots and a follow-up report if any of the team were still alive. But none of these had happened - what can it be other than death for those four?
Ptu ptu ptu…
Gunshots suddenly came from the right.
“Where’s he?” shouted someone. “I can’t see him, damn it!”
“Someone’s been hit!”
The right flank was in chaos. The situation was dire and the team on the right had no time to report their situation to Ramsbigg.
Ramsbigg and Hank charged to the right flank and the other two CIA agents followed. They moved with their M16A1 assault rifles, pushing the reeds aside as they advanced and looking warily at their surroundings. The night-vision equipment allowed them to see in the dark and in their surroundings but there was a limit to their range of vision and they couldn’t see far off into the distance.
Ramsbigg got to the place the gunshots had come from a few minutes later.
Four corpses lay in a patch of reeds. Every one of them had been killed by a head-shot; the gunmanship was so precise it was spine-chilling.
The flanking groups had been eradicated in a short span of a few minutes, and this was something Ramsbigg and Hank could not accept.
Terror loomed silently.
‘That fucker actually hid a sniper rifle here. Did he know how we were going to handle him?’ Ramsbigg was filled with terror and he wanted to retreat, but was also unwilling to do so. If they couldn’t even capture Xia Lei after using the threat of Shentu Tianyin’s kidnapping then there would be no chance at all in the future.
But continuing the mission and having a gunfight with Xia Lei in this environment meant their chances of victory were zero!
“Retreat!” Ramsbigg gave the order.
Pzzt! The words had just left Ramsbigg’s mouth when a bullet came flying over, burying itself instantly in the brain of an agent. Blood and brain matter spurted from his head, splattering quite a distance.
The remaining three threw themselves to the ground at practically the same time.
Hank lifted his gun and returned fire in the direction the bullet came from. The shells clinked to the ground as a swath of reeds were cut down.
Pzzt! Another bullet came flying and it buried itself viciously in the head of a CIA agent - and the agent’s head had been just a foot above the ground.
“How is this possible!” Goosebumps crawled across Ramsbigg’s back and he broke out in cold sweat.
There was no way Xia Lei could kill his target in such a position unless he was firing from a close range in this situation, based on the simple fact that the reeds were a great visual block.
Unless he could see through these reeds!
“AE! It must be AE!” Ramsbigg was losing it. “I have to report this to headquarters!”
“What’s AE?” Hank quickly returned fire.
“Don’t ask if you don’t know. Cover me!” Ramsbigg pulled out a satellite phone.
Hank did not ask further; he raised his gun and shot blindly.
Ptah! A bullet came flying instantly ripped through Ramsbigg’s wrist. The phone in his hand fell to the ground. Ramsbigg let out a cry of pain. Two-thirds of his wrist had been blown off, and just a layer of skin was left.
Three seconds later, the same thing happened to Hank. His right wrist of his hand holding the gun was torn apart by a bullet and his palm fell to the ground.
Footsteps came from further off in the reeds, heading towards them.
“Shit!” Hank let out a shout of anger. He climbed to his feet, and took a handgun from his weapons belt with his remaining left hand.
A bullet came whistling over before he could shoot and hit him in the left arm. The sniper bullet’s penetrating power was terrifying; the bone of his left arm was shattered and the flesh shredded.
Hank, a seasoned CIA agent, was reduced to a cripple in under a minute. He fell to the ground with a thud, but he was tough enough that he did not lose consciousness, even with his serious injuries. He lay on the ground and took deep breaths. The terror of impending death infused every fibre of his being.
Ramsbigg crawled two steps and reached for the satellite phone he’d dropped.
Pzzt! A bullet zoomed over and the hand Ramsbigg was reaching towards the phone exploded. Blood, flesh and dirt sprayed up.
Intense pain almost made Ramsbigg pass out but he held fast. He finally saw the man walking out of the reeds - Xia Lei.
Xia Lei was carrying his sniper rifle. He was calm and his face expressionless.
Ramsbigg gasped, “Y, You won. You can take me in.”
“Arrest you? Huh, you mean get you an ambulance and a doctor to rush over, stop your bleeding and give you medical treatment?” said Xia Lei.
“You can’t kill me, you c,can’t.” Ramsbigg bit the bullet. “I am the director of CIA’s Asian division. My rank is… higher than you think.”
Xia Lei stopped by Hank and looked down at him. “Oh, right, you kicked my woman. Which foot did you use? Left? Right?”
Hank paused, then screamed, “Shoot me! Kill me!”
“Shoot you? Are you worth shooting at?” Xia Lei lifted his foot and stomped down on Hank’s shattered wrist.
“ARGH-” Hank screamed. His chest heaved with great gasping breaths but there was no way for him to be rid of the pain he was experiencing, not even with all the air in the world.
“Xia Lei!” Ramsbigg shouted, “We are Americans! You should know the consequences of your actions!”
A small smile appeared in the corners of Xia Lei’s mouth. “Thanks for the reminder. I’d have forgotten if you didn’t tell me. It’s you Americans who kidnapped my woman, injected me with anaesthetics, and want to drag me to America. I asked you to let my woman go and I was willing to go with you if you did… But what did you say?”
Ramsbigg could not speak. He had been arrogant earlier but this arrogance was gone now. Xia Lei was meat on the chopping block earlier and subject to his whims but he was now the meat on the chopping board, ready to be cut up. He found it uncomfortable indeed when the tables were turned on him.
Princess Yongmei stood by Xia Lei and looked inquisitively at Hank lying on the ground. She seemed to be thinking of something.
Hank suddenly started mumbling but he did not produce any real words, nor any syllables which sounded like Chinese. His voice was vague, weird. He looked terrified.
Xia Lei was surprised. ‘This guy was all tough earlier - what’s wrong with him now? It’s like he’s gone mad.’
“What did you do to him?” Ramsbigg grew nervous. Xia Lei was undoubtedly like an unknown creature in Ramsbigg’s eyes.
Xia Lei removed his foot from Hank’s torn wrist and slowly walked over to Ramsbigg. He was not going to kill Hank. If he did, then it would be an execution and Bureau 101 will chastise him for not leaving a living witness. And he didn’t need to do that either - Hank wouldn’t last past half an hour with all the injuries and bleeding he was suffering. Additionally, he could observe the changes in Hank in this half an hour and get some information on Princess Yongmei.
Xia Lei squatted next to Ramsbigg and looked at him. “Tell me how you kidnapped my woman.”
Ramsbigg’s gaze was unsteady; he avoided Xia Lei’s gaze.
“Tell me - what part did Ahn Suhyeong and Gu Kewen play in this?” Xia Lei continued his line of questioning.
“Call for an ambulance and I’ll tell you,” said Ramsbigg.
Xia Lei shook his head. “I know even if you don’t say it. Ahn Suhyeong and Gu Kewen must be involved. There is no way for you guys to do something like this in Jingdu without their help. Am I right?”
If Bureau 101 did not react to dozens of CIA agents kidnapping China’s wealthiest woman, then it would lose its meaning for existence. No news and no action from Bureau 101 meant that something was wrong. Xia Lei and thought it over and could not find anyone else with the ability and motive to do such a thing.
Ramsbigg shut his mouth; not one word escaped his lips.
Xia Lei grew silent. He suddenly reached out and broke off a stalk of reed, and plunged the sharp end of the stalk into Ramsbigg’s broken mess of a wound.
“AAAARGH!” Ramsbigg let out a scream and his entire body trembled.
Xia Lei pushed the reed further into Ramsbigg’s wound, adding pressure as he went. “What are you holding out for? True, I won’t kill you since you have a special rank. Killing you will draw a lot of trouble. But if you keep dragging for time like this you’ll die from blood loss, not me killing you. Tell me what part Gu Kewen and Ahn Suhyeong played in this kidnapping and I’ll call for the ambulance right away.”
On one side was unbearable torture, and a chance to live on the other. Ramsbigg’s psychological defences were crumbling fast.Previous Chapter Next Chapter