Back in Jingdu, Xia Lei was brought to Bureau 101 by Long Bing before he even had time to go to Thunder Horse Military Factory. Ling Han was in Shi Boren’s office too.
They greeted each other, and Shi Boren placed a document envelope on the tea table, then pushed it before Xia Lei.
“What’s this?” asked Xia Lei.
“Open it up and you’ll see,” said Shi Boren.
Xia Lei opened the envelope and looked inside. There was a health insurance plan, a set of keys and a driver’s licence. The names on all three documents were the same - Katou Takasuke. All the documents had Xia Lei’s picture on them too.
Japan was not a country which had national identity cards, and the health insurance was a sort of proof of identity, as well as a driving licence. Xia Lei understood what Shi Boren meant when he saw these two documents. He was to take on the identity of a Japanese man because he would be going to Japan.
Xia Lei moved his gaze to the keys and saw that they were keys to a Toyota and to an apartment. He was curious, and asked, “Boss Shi, you made a Japanese ID for me… Does this mean that you’ve prepared a car and a place too?”
Shi Boren nodded. “Our intelligence station there made these. Someone on that side will receive you when you get there. The apartment and the car have been prepared, and your identification too.”
Xia Lei was silent for a bit before he said, “I only said that the next treasure location may be Japan. I didn’t confirm it. Aren’t you moving too fast by preparing all of these?”
Shi Boren glanced at Ling Han.
“Mr Xia, the higher-ups are giving the Alloy X Project great importance and would like to keep a close eye on it too. We got Long Bing to bring you here today to talk with you and ask for your opinion. Look, we’ve prepared everything for you - when can you be mobilised?” said Ling Han.
The Alloy X Project referred to the ancient alloy.
Xia Lei had just returned to Jingdu and he was being sent to Japan - the higher-ups sure were impatient.
Xia Lei wrinkled his brows. “And if it’s not Japan?”
Ling Han chuckled. “We believe in your judgement, Mr Xia. This is why we’ve made prior preparations.”
Xia Lei looked at the health insurance certificate and the driver’s licence on the table and smiled wryly. “You’re not going to tell me that you’re sending me off to Japan just like this, are you? I can guarantee that I’ll be invited to drink coffee with the Japanese inspectors and the CIA once I get off the plane if I go just like this.”
Ling Han and Shi Boren exchanged glances.
“You won’t be acting alone. Our people will receive you on the other side. We have an intelligence station in Tokyo too,” said Shi Boren.
“There will definitely be a risk but the Alloy X Project is much too important to our nation. This risk has to be taken. The higher-ups were clear - all of your wants will be fulfilled,” said Ling Han.
Xia Lei thought for a bit. “This trip to Japan will be very dangerous. You need to give me at least a month to prepare. Additionally, you’ll need to let me hold the compass and go around Japan on the plane before I enter Japan. I want to confirm that the next location is in Japan before I enter.”
“Go one round around Japan?” Shi Boren was incredulous. “You’re asking for such a thing, Boy? You think Japan is ours? That we can just fly around where we like? You know that Japan has restrictions - can our planes fly one round around it?”
Xia Lei spoke evenly, “A Russian plane can do it. I’ll go to the Four Islands in the north after a month. You guys think of some way to get a Russian fighter plane to take me around Japan.”
“Are you serious?” Shi Boren stared disbelievingly at Xia Lei.
Xia Lei nodded. “I’m not kidding.”
Shi Boren looked at Ling Han again. This was obviously not something he could decide on.
Ling Han thought for a bit, then said, “Okay. We can fulfil this request. Is there anything else?”
Xia Lei slid the health insurance document back to Shi Boren. “I’ll take a few pictures after I go back. You guys use my pictures to make documents. Using my original face for these documents is too risky.”
“All right, I’ll get Long Bing to get the pictures from you when you’re done,” said Shi Boren.
“Boss Shi, Mr Ling, is there anything else? I’ll be going back to the factory if nothing else is needed of me,” said Xia Lei.
Ling Han seemed to remember something. “Oh, right, I nearly forgot. The Ministry of Defence will hold a weapons exhibition at the end of the year. This is no regular exhibition. The military will be showcasing several weapons to various companies, and conducting analytical and comprehensive tests to select and rate the best light weapons.”
Xia Lei’s heart thumped. “Select and rate the best light weapons?”
“This is no simple selection, and there is no winning certificate if the weapon is picked. I’ll give you a personal bit of intel since we’re friends. Our country’s troops need to update their assault rifles. I feel that this is a rare chance for you. If Thunder Horse can beat out Hanwu Weapons and the other companies, I dare say your Thunder Horse Military Factory will have great development opportunities.”
This was indeed a once in a lifetime opportunity!
Xia Lei held his excitement in check. “Mr Ling, when does this weapons exhibition begin? And where?”
“It’s in Jingdu, at the year’s end,” said Ling Han. “The end of the lunar year. There’s still around 20 days left. You’ll have time to make your preparations.”
Xia Lei smiled. “Thank you, Mr Ling. This is important news for me.”
“You’ll be an exhibitor at the exhibition but remember - the mission you have is most important,” said Ling Han.
“I will not make any mistakes in either of these matters. Rest assured.” Xia Lei had requested for a month before he went to Japan, not entirely because he needed to make his preparations but because he wanted to relax for a bit and spend some time with Shentu Tianyin.
Ling Han stood and held out a hand to Xia Lei with a smile on his face. “Brother Xia. I await your good news.”
Xia Lei grasped Ling Han’s hands in a shake. “I will be sure to do well, Brother Ling.”
Ling Han’s term of address for Xia Lei had changed from "friend" to calling his name directly, to "Brother Xia". Xia Lei was not going to refuse a friendship like this, and it was just a matter of course to call him "Brother Ling".
Ling Han had been neither an enemy nor a friend to Xia Lei. He had even had Xia Lei investigated, but he was his friend now.
Xia Lei did not ask Long Bing to take him back after walking out of Bureau 101. He called for a taxi and took it to Bailu Town.
The taxi has just arrived at Bailu Town when Xia Lei received a call.
It was from a local number but he had never seen it before. Xia Lei hesitated, but he accepted it. “Hello, who is this?”
A familiar voice came over the line. “Let’s meet, Mr Xia.”
This was Ahn Geungan’s voice.
Xia Lei paused. “It’s you. You want to meet me? Where?”
“I am in the hotel in the town next to your military factory. I’ll wait for you there,” said Ahn Geungan.
Xia Lei then said to the driver, “Sir, please stop here. I’m getting off here.”
The taxi stopped. Xia Lei paid and alighted, then pulled his luggage behind him as he walked towards Bailu Town. He spoke with Ahn Geungan as he walked. “Mr Ahn, can you tell me why you want to meet?”
“It’s not convenient to talk over the phone. Let’s meet.” Ahn Geungan was not willing to say more.
Xia Lei’s gaze went to the hotel in the distance. He watched the place as he said, “Mr Ahn, you know well what sort of place this is. You’d better not be trying anything funny.”
“No. I chose this as our meeting spot to show my sincerity,” said Ahn Geungan.
“I’ll be there in five minutes.” Xia Lei hung up.
Ahn Geungan had actually come all the way to China.
‘It’s impossible that Ahn Geungan doesn’t know that I’ve killed Ahn Suhyeong. Is he here for revenge? Impossible. He wouldn’t be so stupid as to deal with me here - it’ll be suicide. If it’s not for revenge for Ahn Suhyeong, then it is for the evidence I have. Why does he think that I’ll give it to him?’
There was no card for Ahn Geungan to play now. His son was dead and he’d lost the evidence he had to threaten Shentu Tianyin with. What was he going to use to convince Xia Lei to hand over the evidence which could put him in prison?
The town seemed normal, and there were no suspicious people around the hotel either. Xia Lei used his X-ray vision on the building when he got close too, and did not spot any hidden gunman.
A Korean man bowed respectfully to Xia Lei once he stepped into the hotel lobby. He said politely, “Mr Xia, please come with me. Our chairman is waiting for you in the room.”
Xia Lei gave a slight nod and followed the Korean man to the door of a room.
The man knocked, and Ahn Geungan’s voice came from behind the door. “Enter.”
Xia Lei entered. There was just Ahn Geungan in the room.
The look of pride and arrogance had vanished from Ahn Geungan’s eyes, leaving him listless. His hair had greyed considerably, as if he’d aged ten years in one night.
Xia Lei relaxed his guard and said softly, “What did you come see me for, Mr Ahn?”
Ahn Geungan waved his hand and the underling at the door shut it.
“Mr Xia, can you tell me… My Suhyeong…” Ahn Geungan was silent for a bit before he managed to say, “Is he alive?”
Xia Lei shook his head. “Is this a joke, Mr Ahn? How would I know if your son is dead or alive? If you came all the way here to ask me this, then you can go back to Korea. This is my answer.”
Ahn Geungan’s expression darkened as he tried to infer some sort of answer from Xia Lei’s tone and behaviour. He had actually known the answer before he’d come but a ray of hope still lingered in his heart. Now even that ray had been extinguished.
Ahn Geungan took a deep breath. “All right. He came to kill you but you’re still alive. There is no need for me to ask further. Let’s cut straight to the chase - name a price for what you have.”
Xia Lei scoffed. “Are you kidding, Mr Ahn? You’ve admitted that you let your son bring dozens of men to kill me, and a world-class killer. You still have the gall to negotiate with me now?”
“There is no exchange that can’t be negotiated in this world. Trust me - there isn’t.” Ahn Geungan bowed to Xia Lei. “I express my deepest sincerity, and account of my lost son, please, complete this exchange.”
“Huh. You can still do this?” Xia Lei laughed. “You Koreans sure are a mystery. You think I will fulfil your wish if you apologise to me?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter