The expression of the Head of CIA’s European Branch turned ugly. He had given Xia Lei a minute to consider dropping the weapon and to surrender but Xia Lei had only given him 30 seconds to think about it, or he would commit suicide. His orders were to capture Xia Lei alive, not bring his corpse back.
This operation was akin to going back in time to capture da Vinci or Einstein, only to bring their dead bodies to the present time — What would be the point of that?
If Xia Lei were to die here, it would be a disastrous blow to the AE Research Centre. This would also be a tremendous loss for the United States.
These were all factors which Sean needed to consider.
“No—” yelled Long Bing at Xia Lei. “Go! I don’t want you to save me!”
Tang Yuyan suddenly turned and landed a kick on a CIA agent. Her hands were bound by cable ties, but her skill with her legs was not affected. Her kick landed heavily, and the CIA agent fell to the ground. He would probably have been sent flying if he had the build of an Asian. A man of at least 120 kilograms had been kicked to the ground by a petite woman! Tang Yuyan’s formidability shocked the big group of CIA agents.
Tang Yuyan had the same thought as Long Bing — to sacrifice her life so that Xia Lei could live.
The CIA agent who had been kicked to the floor was outraged at this humiliation, and he raised his gun, aiming it at Tang Yuyan.
“Bastard!” Sean kicked the gun out of the hands of the agent. “What do you think you’re doing!”
The CIA agent looked at his superior in surprise but did not move to pick his gun up. Judging by the ferocity in Sean’s gaze, he might just get shot by Sean first if he grabbed his gun and shot Tang Yuyan.
Xia Lei was fairly nervous too because he’d thought that the CIA agent would shoot and kill Tang Yuyan. Fortunately, Sean had moved to stop the agent. Xie Lei did not wish to experience such misfortune for a second time. “Time’s up!” he said, his voice heavy.
Sean looked at Xia Lei and asked coldly, “Would you shoot?”
Xia Lei scoffed. “I’m dead if I wind up in your hands anyway. It’s more straightforward to kill myself. Since I’m dead either way, I have nothing to be afraid of. You, on the other hand… You won’t live for much longer if I die here, huh?” Xia Lei suddenly yelled at Sean, “I’ll say just this — Let them go right now, and I will go with you!”
Sean finally made a decision. “Release them. Let them go.”
Two agents promptly pulled out their military knives, and cut the cable ties off Long Bing’s and Tang Yuyan’s wrists, then another agent cut the cable ties around Liu Zhengnan’s body.
“Give them a mobile phone,” Xia Lei said.
Sean gave them a look.
A CIA agent returned Long Bing’s phone to her.
Long Bing took the phone but did not move. She looked at Xia Lei, and her tears flowed silently.
Xia Lei made a pretense of being fierce and bellowed at Long Bing, “Why are you still standing here? Scram! I don’t wish to see you again!”
It would have been better if Xia Lei had not been fierce. Long Bing’s tears flowed faster at his fierceness.
“You dummy…” Tang Yuyan’s voice was choked with emotion.
“Don’t let this all become meaningless. Go. All of you.” Xia Lei finally softened his tone. “Get out of here, get somewhere safe, and give me a call.”
“Director Xia…” Liu Zhengnan cried too. He could only be described as Xia Lei’s employee in the past, but he was Xia Lei’s Brother now, after all that he had experienced.
Long Bing could no longer control her emotions. She took quick steps towards Xia Lei, ignoring the black sea of guns, ignoring the cold stares around her. She spread her arms and closed Xia Lei in a hug. There were thousands of words in her heart but she could say none in that moment.
Xia Lei cupped her cheeks and kissed her on the lips.
“Hmmph…” A muffled sound came from Long Bing’s throat. She quickly got into the kiss, and locked lips with Xia Lei in sorrowful abandon.
“How romantic.” Sean sneered, “I can give you a few minutes for your last bit of romance. You two can have one round, haha.”
Xia Lei ignored Sean’s taunts. There was no way that Sean would give them time to have one last fling. Long Bing pressed against him, and wrapped herself around him, disregarding everything else. Xia Lei quietly grabbed the alloy necklace around his neck and yanked it off, then reached his hand into Long Bing’s collar, into her bra.
Long Bing froze instantly. She didn’t dare believe that Xia Lei would have that sort of need at this time, especially in front of so many people. However, she swiftly discovered that he had put something in her bra, something cold.
Xia Lei kissed her ear and whispered in her ear, “Bring this back. This is very important to me. Don’t tell anyone, and wait for me to come back.”
Long Bing paused, then nodded.
Xia Lei pushed her away, and said fiercely, “Scram, don’t let me see you again!”
Long Bing bit her lip and turned to walk away.
Tang Yuyan suddenly walked towards Xia Lei. She seemed to want to do the same as Long Bing had done.
“Go!” Long Bing pulled Tang Yuyan by the arm.
“You…” Tang Yuyan started to say something, then stopped.
Long Bing gave no explanations. She went out the door, pulling Tang Yuyan with her.
“Be safe, Director Xia,” said Liu Zhengnan. He then followed Long Bing and Tang Yuyan out.
The trio quickly disappeared from Xia Lei’s line of sight.
Xia Lei said, “Give me my phone, I will leave with you after I confirm that they are safe.”
“Give it to him,” said Mark.
The phone which Mark Amin had taken was quickly returned to Xia Lei’s hand, and Xia Lei gripped it tightly. A mobile phone had never been so important to him as it was right now. His phone concerned the lives of Long Bing and Tang Yuyan, making it especially important. It also involved the last AE capsule.
He actually had the thought of taking the last AE capsule earlier, but he had immediately had the other thought that he would definitely have to go through another state of evolution even he could not predict if he did so. He could die, or he could become an existence like Princess Yongmei. Whichever the result was, it was not something he wanted to see.
Additionally, eating the last AE capsule would covertly give the AE Research Center an excellent opportunity to study him. This was because his body’s evolution would not be immediately visible even if he took the last AE capsule — it needed a process. And this process, if discovered by the AE Research Center, would maybe earn the AE Research Center some great biotechnology due to America’s strength in science and technology. Xia Lei did not want to see a result like this either. And so, he gave up on the thought of consuming the last AE capsule after weighing the pros and cons over and over, and got Long Bing to take it back to China.
This was the best way to take care of it. First of all, it did not change his prior intention to decide to take the last AE capsule only after solving its mysteries. Secondly, was that the last AE capsule would be in Long Bing’s hands if he were not able to return to China. Long Bing would hand it in to the nation if he died.
“You are the first person to use your own life as a threat against me, Xia Lei.” Sean’s voice held a trace of ridicule. “This is very interesting, isn’t it?”
This was the behaviour of a victor.
Xia Lei took no notice of Sean, and looked out the window. He saw the German Special Forces seizing the mobile phones of the guests to check if any of them had taken photographs or videos. What happened here must not be made known to the public.
Xia Lei saw Sylvia and Rihanna. The two women were standing in the circle of confinement, looking over at him. Sylvia’s gaze was full of worry.
Xia Lei couldn’t help the faint, wry smile in the corners of his lips. He knew that Sylvia had certain thoughts about him but he was in no mood to pick up girls now. Sylvia was fated to be just a passer-by in his life, and perhaps he would remember what she looked like after brushing past her, but their paths would not intersect.
Xia Lei suddenly turned and walked towards the oil painting.
“What are you doing?” yelled Sean.
The sounds of guns being raised could be heard from all around him.
“I like this painting and I’m just taking a look at it. There’s no need to get nervous, guys,” said Xia Lei nonchalantly.
The oil painting depicted a female pirate with two faces. She held a shield in one hand, and brandished a hand-axe, a weapon favoured by Viking pirates, in her other hand at a burly Gaul. She seemed to possess a miraculous power which could not only cleave her enemies into pieces, but rent through space-time — an eternal existence!
‘Was this really painted by da Vinci?’ Xia Lei couldn’t help imagining it. ‘Sylvia said that this female pirate had her revenge for her comrade in the end, and built a martyr’s town here, for it to become a gathering place for Viking pirates. How did she get her revenge? Could it be… that Princess Yongmei helped her? Was this why da Vinci painted Princess Yongmei’s face below hers?’
He was in dire straits, but he was thinking thoughts such as these instead of how to escape. Xia Lei found himself rather laughable.
Sean did not stop Xie Lei from admiring Mark Armin’s heirloom painting. He was waiting for Long Bing’s phone call too, and he would take Xia Lei away once he confirmed that the three people had left and were safe.
A few minutes later, Xie Lei suddenly put his fist through the oil painting. The hundreds-year-old painting was instantly destroyed, and the female pirate’s face was gone. Only a hole was left.
Only he had discovered this hidden secret of Princess Yongmei’s face in the painting, and he too, would be the last to know. He was not going to leave an opportunity for Mark or his descendants to discover this secret. Of course, there was also no reason to not make Mark pay for setting him up like this.
“What did you do?” said Sean angrily.
Xie Lei turned and shrugged. “I was unhappy, so I vented. I can’t? You can get Mr Mark Armin to contact my lawyer. I am willing to stand in the dock, and compensate him fully for his loss.”
Ring ring ring...
The satellite phone rang.
Xie Lei answered.
“We’re safe.” It was Long Bing’s voice.
“Nn. Go,” said Xie Lei.
“Promise me that you’ll come back alive, or I’ll go to America to look for you. I will go down to Hell with you too, if you die.” Long Bing’s voice was cold, determined.
Xie Lei hung up and walked to Sean.
A group of CIA agents escorted Xia Lei to a Chevrolet Suburban, and he got in.
Sylvia stood in the group of people, gaping at Xia Lei.
Mark Armin walked into his living room. His gaze went to the hole in the heirloom painting and he let out an abrupt scream before his vision went dark, and he collapsed to the floor in a faint.Previous Chapter Next Chapter