An outsider consultant commanding two Bureau 101 chiefs - this arrangement made it plain to see how much importance the higher-ups had put on this mission. However, Xia Lei had his troubles as team leader too. Which one of his team members, Long Bing and Tang Yuyan, could he command to do things? What happened earlier was an example. He’d been ordered by Tang Yuyan to give her a massage right after they got to their hotel room. He would be considered fortunate to not be ordered around with these two outstanding team members.
The three of them came to the hotel’s restaurant as the sun went down, and the restaurant already had a number of diners. Tang Yuyan ordered food for them. Xia Lei observed their surroundings, not leaving any corner unscanned. Long Bing was doing the same but she could not reach Xia Lei’s level of scanning, of course.
Some female Israeli soldiers walked into the restaurant when the waiter brought their food. The women were in military gear, and had plump, well-rounded hips and assault rifles across their backs. The assault rifles made Xia Lei’s eyes light up because he recognised them. Those were the latest TAR-21 assault rifles from a collaboration between IMI and Barrett, known for being the most advanced assault rifle.
If Thunder Horse Military Factory’s Gust assault rifle was to have a rival, then it would be this TAR-21.
Xia Lei had become more attentive of the industry after becoming an arms dealer and entering the field. He would not miss the IMI-Barrett collaboration product, of course.
‘I wonder how far behind my Gust will leave this TAR-21 if I were to compare them?’ thought Xia Lei to himself. A faint smile appeared in the corners of his mouth.
The TAR-21 assault rifle had an effective shooting range of 300 to 600 metres, and could fire 700 to 900 rounds per minute. The initial bullet speed could go up to 960 metres per second. The Gust assault rifle had an effective shooting range of 500 to 800 metres, and was like a light sniper rifle. It could also fire 800 to 1,000 rounds per minute, and the initial speed was 1,100 metres per second. More importantly, Gust’s recoil was only equivalent to that of a regular handgun!
There was actually no need to compare guns - Gust had already left the TAR-21 in the dust.
Tang Yuyan looked at Xia Lei, then followed his line of sight to the female Israeli soldiers. She wrinkled her brows. “Pervert. Aren’t you ashamed, looking at their butts?”
Xia Lei looked away. “What are you talking about? I’m looking at their guns. That’s the TAR-21 which was produced by the IMI-Barrett collaboration. It’s known as the world’s best.”
Tang Yuyan lowered her voice. “Oh, I nearly forgot you’re already an arms dealer now. But can you dare say that you did not look at those girls’ butts?”
Xia Lei was speechless.
He did look but it was entirely a matter of course for a man to look at women’s butts, wasn’t it? Which woman hid her butt completely out of sight when she went outdoors?
She was obviously finding fault.
Long Bing kicked Xia Lei lightly under the table and said quietly, “There’s no guarantee that there aren’t any people of the Mossad or the CIA here. Be careful what you say; don’t get discovered.”
Xia Lei nodded. “Let’s eat.”
The three of them busied themselves with eating and didn’t chat further. They thought their own thoughts.
A few minutes later, two men and a woman walked through the doorway of the restaurant. One man was in his early forties while the other was in his twenties. The older man wore a pair of black-rimmed spectacles and looked quite bookish, like a learned man. The young man was fit and his eyes were alert, giving one the impression of danger. The woman was in her thirties and also wore spectacles. She had fair and clear skin, was gentle and quiet, and looked very much like someone in the secretarial line of work.
Xia Lei fixed his gaze on them out of the corner of his eye once those three walked through the doors.
These three people were who China had sent on the treasure-seeking mission. Dr Qin Changqing, Middle East expert, Dou Yong, Bureau 101 agent and Ma Li, archaeologist.
Xia Lei had all three of their profiles memorised before setting off from China. China had sent more people than these three to seek the treasure, but the rest of the people were probably still in their rooms. The group had most likely set shifts to take their meals so as to avoid attracting attention due to the size of their party.
“They’re here,” said Tang Yuyan softly, “They only know that people are coming to take over the mission but don’t know who. Let’s eat slowly and wait for them to finish, then leave with them. We’ll give them a signal on our way out.”
Xia Lei and Long Bing nodded.
Qin Changqing, Dou Yong and Ma Li sat at a table opposite, close to the windows. They ordered their food and while they waited, Qin Changqing and Ma Li discussed something in low voices. Dou Yong looked at all the people in the restaurant and his gaze swept over Xia Lei, Tang Yuyan and Long Bing, but he did not discover anything. He just glanced at them and his gaze did not linger on them.
Xia Lei savoured his hummus and pita as he used his lip-reading ability to decipher Qin Changqing and Ma Li’s conversation.
“The contact said the our side has sent a small mobile team to take over. This team is probably in Israel now but they have not made contact with us. It’s so worrying,” said Qin Changqing.
“Don’t worry, Dr Qin. The higher-ups must have sent the elite of the elite this time. We will complete our mission. That team hasn’t appeared yet because they haven’t arrived here - that must be it. Let’s wait a while longer,” said Ma Li.
“I really hope nothing’s happened to them. I’ve been quite jittery these past two days, always worried that something will go wrong,” said Qin Changqing.
“Dr Qin, we’re not from this line of work after all. I’m worried too, and scared, but I believe we will be all right,” said Ma Li.
Just then, Dou Yong completed his scan of their environment and he lowered his voice too. “You two - don’t discuss sensitive matters in this sort of environment. This is very dangerous.”
Qin Changqing and Ma Li shut their mouths.
Xia Lei understood something from observing that short scene. Qing Changqing and Ma Li obviously lacked the ability to be spies and their alertness was also extremely low. On the other hand, the Bureau 101 agent Dou Yong was quite experienced. This made sense, since the three of them had different jobs and statuses.
Over ten minutes later, they finished their meal and exited the restaurant.
Xia Lei and his team paid their bill too and followed closely behind Dr Qin’s group.
Dr Qin’s group walked towards the lift lobby to take a lift up.
Xia Lei increased his pace and caught up to Dr Qin’s group. As he brushed past, he said to Dou Yong, “ZD, go to the stairwell.”
ZD - the initials for Emperor Yongle, Zhu Di. The compass used for the treasure hunt had been made by Emperor Yongle, so the treasure-seeking mission was like a continuing mission from the Ming dynasty. That was why ZD had become the contact code for this mission.
Dou Yong froze for a millisecond before he reacted with a nod.
Qin Changqing and Ma Li heard the contact code too and they both looked at Xia Lei. However, Xia Lei had already brushed past them and was heading to the stairwell. Long Bing and Tang Yuyan followed closely behind him and they entered the stairwell first.
The six of them climbed upwards in the stairwell, one group after another.
Xia Lei stopped after climbing to the sixth floor to wait for the three people below.
Some hotel guests on the lower floors would choose to take the stairs so it was not a suitable place to have a conversation. The guests on floor six and up would not normally take the stairs so the stairwell became the most ideal place to talk. Most importantly, there were no cameras in the stairwell.
Xia Lei cut to the chase as soon as Dr Qin’s group caught up. “We’re the team sent to take over. Tell me, what location did the compass point to?”
Qin Changqing glanced at Dou Yong, as if asking for his opinion.
Dou Yong did not speak; he just looked at Xia Lei and the two ugly women behind him. He seemed to want to confirm the identities of these three people one more time.
Long Bing then reached out to pull her silicone mask off to reveal her real face.
“Long…” Dou Yong nearly called out her name but abruptly shut himself up. He then said, “Dr Qin, there is no problem with their identities. You can tell them.”
Long Bing put her mask back on and adjusted it.
Qin Changqing was reassured and said softly, “That compass brought us to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We went to the Holy Sepulchre of Jesus and thought that it would be in the tomb but the compass pointed downwards. We racked our brains and found the architectural plans of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and discovered that there is no passage or hidden room underground. There is no way for us to continue in this situation.”
There truly was no way to proceed if the treasure was located in the Holy Sepulchre of Jesus. Who would dare defile that tomb?
Xia Lei wrinkled his brows. “You guys are sure that it’s under the tomb of Jesus?”
“I’m afraid so. We cannot guarantee it 100% but we are 70 to 80% sure about this. Honestly, we’d even investigated the surroundings of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to no avail. The compass keeps leading us to the tomb of Jesus. We would have completed our mission and gone back to China long ago if it were another place,” said Qin Changqing.
Xia Lei was quiet for a bit. “Dr Qin, give me a copy of the architectural plans you’ve acquired. I want to take a look.”
“No problem. Give it to him, Ma Li,” said Qin Changqing.
Ma Li opened her handbag and took out an envelope. She delivered it to Xia Lei’s hands.
Xia Lei did not open it. He put the envelope in his trousers. “You three go back to your rooms. Wait for further instructions.” So saying, he turned and left, entering the sixth floor corridor.
“He’s…?” Dou Yong looked at Long Bing and asked tentatively.
“Don’t ask. Go back to your rooms. Keep the number of times you’re out at minimum,” said Long Bing.
Dou Yong nodded and left, taking Dr Qin and Ma Li with him.
Long Bing and Tang Yuyan went out into the sixth floor corridor too, then entered the room shared by Xia Lei and Tang Yuyan.
Xia Lei took out the plans from the envelope and laid them out on a small table. Long Bing and Tang Yuyan drew close too, standing on either side of him to look.
The drawings were old and several places were blank due to damage. The lines on it were also not clear but it still provided an overall picture.
The drawings were not complicated and Xia Lei was soon finished with it. “I can’t see any leads from this. I believe Dr Qin and the rest have already pored over this a hundred times. They wouldn’t be so helpless if they could find a lead from this.”
Long Bing looked at Xia Lei. “What do you plan to do?”
Xia Lei thought for a bit. “We’ll stay here for the night and go to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre tomorrow to take a look.”
Long Bing did not move; she kept looking at the drawings.
Tang Yuyan looked at her. “Hey, Cousin. Your room’s next door.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter