As Xia Lei swam back up to the surface, he looked around and brought up the bag of weapons which Long Bing had sunk too.
Long Bing called out anxiously when she saw Xia Lei emerge. “You’re finally back. I was going to go down there after you if you were any later.”
The first thing she was concerned about when she saw Xia Lei, was him, and not the things he had brought up from the sea bed.
Xia Lei climbed onto the yacht but he did not get his bearings yet, and he flopped to the deck. The mysterious power in his body which had sustained him disappeared once he got to the deck of the yacht and the desperate need for survival had worn off. Once he relaxed, it was like his body lost his bones and could not support itself any longer.
“Are you okay?” Long Bing went hurriedly to support him.
“Don’t come here!” said Xia Lei anxiously.
“You…” Long Bing did not understand why Xia Lei behaved this way.
“I found 22 pieces of alloy this time. It a much larger number than before. Don’t come close to me – it’s dangerous,” said Xia Lei.
Long Bing then understood why Xia Lei did not let her come close, and she was stunned by what she heard.
“How long was I down there?” asked Xia Lei.
“An hour,” said Long Bing.
Xia Lei glanced subconsciously at the sea and remembered something. “Start the yacht immediately. We need to leave this place.”
“But you…” Long Bing looked worriedly at Xia Lei.
“I’m fine. I’ll recover after I rest for a bit.”
“All right, I’ll go drive the yacht.” Long Bing moved towards the cockpit.
Xia Lei suddenly called out to her. “Wait, where do you plan to go?”
“This spot isn’t far from a fishing islet. Our fuel reserves will get us to that part of the sea, and once we get past that we’ll be able to contact our Navy. They can escort us back,” said Long Bing.
“Let’s follow your plan, then.” Xia Lei let out a breath of relief, then lay motionless on the deck, waiting for his body to regain some energy.
One minute later, Long Bing moved the yacht in the direction of the fishing islet and headed there with the help of the navigation device. They had a vessel, fuel, and equipment. There was no need to go back to Okinawa.
Xia Lei regained more of his energy with time. Half an hour later, he crawled to his feet on the deck. The night sky bobbed in his field of vision, and the stars in the distance winked unendingly, shining brilliantly. The warm sea breeze caressed his cheek, taking his thoughts with it.
‘Princess Yongmei had designs on my AE capsule in the basement of the lab at Thunder Horse Military Factory, and she tried to attack me this time. But… she said that she cannot hurt me, because I am The One. So the move to attack me was a feint. She was actually aiming for my AE capsule?’ Everything which had happened on the sea bed replayed in Xia Lei’s head, one by one, and he grew wary.
Letting Princess Yongmei out had been a rash decision. He should have considered it more carefully.
However, this did not affect Xia Lei’s plan to let her out and talk properly with her. He already had 29 pieces of ancient alloy in his possession, just one short of the whole box. This meant that he was just that little bit away from completion – so how complete was Princess Yongmei going to be if he let her out?
It was difficult to say, but one thing was for sure. She was like the box – almost complete!
An almost-complete Princess Yongmei must know about the secrets of AE!
This thought made Xia Lei quite excited. He felt an impulse to assemble the box and let Princess Yongmei out again. However, he did not give in to this temptation in the end, because of Long Bing. Princess Yongmei could not hurt him, but she could hurt Long Bing. It would be terrible if Princess Yongmei transferred her hate for him to Long Bing.
“Are you feeling better, Lei?” came Long Bing’s voice.
Xia Lei put his thoughts away and grunted in reply. “I’m better. Don’t worry, I’ll go put these things away and come to you.”
Long Bing watched Xia Lei enter the cabin, then muttered to herself after a bit. “What secrets are you hiding? Is it because you find it difficult to tell me? Or… You don’t even know it yourself? Are you searching for answers too?”
Womens’ thoughts and intuition were sometimes very accurate.
Ten minutes later, Xia Lei returned to the cockpit with a big bag in his hands.
“What’s that?” Long Bing saw it and asked.
Xia Lei opened the bag to reveal its contents. It contained items from the ship like jewellery, porcelain, Princess Yongmei’s bronze mirror and so on.
“I got these from the treasure location. Take what you like,” said Xia Lei.
Long Bing gave it a passing glance. “You can have it. I don’t want any.”
“Why not?” Xia Lei said with a smile, “How can I take it when you don’t? Do you want me to give it to the nation or something? I’ll do it if you want me to.”
“You know that I don’t like these sort of things. I… I have my principles too. Really, you just take it. I don’t want it.”
“Then I’ll give it to the nation.”
“Don’t.” Long Bing said, “You’ve already spent tens of thousands of USD on this mission so far. It’s so much money… Boss Shi won’t pay you back. Based on how he usually operates, the budget for our mission would not go past 300,000 yuan. Chinese yuan. Your expenses so far would be considered to be on your on account. Just hold on to these. If I lack money in the future I’ll just go look for you, okay?”
Xia Lei gave a laugh. “Then I’ll take them. I’ll buy you a good car when we get back. I’ll also get some high-end home appliances for you. Oh, right, do you like the type of bathtubs with a jacuzzi function? I’ll buy one, remodel the place and you’ll have a big bath.”
Long Bing stared straight at Xia Lei. “You want to buy a car for me? And renovate my home for me, buy high-end appliances, and a huge bathtub… Are you trying to make me your kept woman?”
Xia Lei stared blankly. That’s right. Was he trying to make Chief Long into a kept woman? He definitely did not have this thought but how different was this from those wealthy folk who kept lovers on the side?
“Forget it. What’s the difference between keeping me, or not? I’m not looking to replace Shentu Tianyin. Go ahead and renovate my place if you want, install the huge bathtub or whatever. You’ll have to use it when you come over anyway. Bear in mind, though, that you have to come stay over once a week after the renovations are complete.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
Did he just smash his own foot with a rock?
“Um…” Long Bing became embarrassed, and changed the topic. “Right, did you get a new compass needle?”
Xia Lei’s thoughts returned to the business at hand. “Yes. I’ll put it on and see where the next treasure location is.”
Xia Lei removed the old pointer needle, and put the new one on.
The needle spun in a circle as soon as it was installed, and stopped in its original position.
“What’s going on here?” Xia Lei stared at the compass, flabbergasted.
Long Bing looked over too, and stared closely at the compass.
Both of them had thought that the compass would do something new, point in some direction and shake or something, but an entire minute passed, and the compass did not move.
“Could it be broken?” Long Bing broke the silence. She could not help doubting its functionality.
“I don’t know,” said Xia Lei. He was confused, and a little depressed. He wouldn’t be able to find the next treasure location in this situation. If he could not find the next location, then he wouldn’t be able to find the last ancient alloy piece, and gather all the pieces to make a complete box.
How was he to solve the final mystery if he couldn’t complete the box?
He’d put in so much, gone through so much… He would not be able to be happy for the rest of his life if he did not manage to solve the final mystery.
Just as Xia Lei was filled with doubt and wondering if the compass had suffered some sort of damage due to the great pressure at the sea bed, the needle on the compass suddenly trembled. It lifted up, up to the sky.
What was stranger was that the needle removed itself from the surface of the compass, hanging itself in the air like it was free from the grip of gravity.
Xia Lei and Long Bing were shocked. Both of them looked from the needle and up, slowly, to stare dumbly at the ceiling above them.
The next treasure location was in the sky?
This had to be a joke.
Based on the current advancements in human technology, humans could go to the moon, but it was only possible with the resources of a country. Humans could only land in a pre-calculated spot, and have a very limited range of activity after landing too. A simple example was of the Americans making it to the moon, but just placing a flag there. The Chinese made it to the moon too, and their range of activity spanned wider than two large football fields. Human science was at this level now – come to think of it, what sort of requirements had to be met before they could get to the next treasure location?
Truthfully, even if China were willing to send Xia Lei to the moon, and up into the sky… was the target actually the moon? If it wasn’t on the moon, then why go there to try to dig for treasure?
“Hahaha…” Xia Lei couldn’t help laughing. His laugh was weird.
Long Bing was silent for a bit before she said consolingly, “Don’t worry. Maybe the compass has some problems. If it really is someplace up in the sky, you won’t be able to get there. It’s no big deal either. You’ve already tried your best. The nation will not forget your contributions.”
Xia Lei couldn’t laugh anymore. He knew that he was not researching this for the nation, but for himself, for the secret of AE. He was intimately involved with this secret, so how could he just let it go?
Right at that moment, the floating needle pointer dropped. It landed exactly on its original position, so very precisely it seemed like it had all been measured.
The compass quieted again, and there were no new movements.
What was going on now?
Xia Lei stared dumbly at the needle, his thoughts whirring. All his thoughts did not affect the matter at hand.
A minute later, the compass needle stood again, and pointed up at the sky. It stayed that way for a period of time, then returned to its original position.
‘It looks like it’s gathering energy, and pointing only after it has accumulated enough to move. What sort of energy is it? Is it some innate energy in the compass itself, or something else?’ Xia Lei thought in amazement.
The yacht cut through the waves, carrying its cargo of questions as it sailed through the night.
Dawn would surely come, but before it did, the darkness would persist and it would not be easy to chase it away.Previous Chapter Next Chapter