China has embarked on the research of a new material that aims to serve as the most perfect alloy material for the aerospace industry. The completion of this new material research is estimated to be within five years. Its birth will create a new milestone in material science. It will soon be widely used in aircraft creation, offering its selfless contribution to mankind.
That was an excerpt from an official article by the Chinese government. Despite announcing its existence, not once did the writers mention the exact identity of the new material, nor did it bring up which company was responsible for the project. It was kept vague and a secret.
No fighter jets or weapons were clearly stated but following the little hints sandwiched between the lines, even regular soldiers would be able to guess that this new material was going to be applied in the production of fighter jets.
This article wasn’t intended to praise one’s achievements, it was actually a signal. A signal to the whole wide world.
In Xia Lei’s opinion, the man really wasn’t eager to have an article announcing his research. But this was politics. All decisions made had to be strategic. Unsheathing their sword at the right time would be able to intimidate one’s enemy or rivals. Doing such things would require extremely high political literacy and wisdom, both of which he was inept. Xia Lei comforted himself in the fact that this new material would be announced to the world inevitably someday. Nothing would be affected even if its presence was made known earlier than expected. All he needed to do was to keep its confidentiality well.
It was after the article that Xia Lei named the new material. It was given the name Alloy X.
The Alloy X Project had been under his wing since its beginning. The man felt that it was only appropriate to name the new material with it after some consideration. Though it was under his watch, the Alloy X Project was at a dead-end for a long time. The use of its name on the new material could be considered an explanation of some sort to the authorities.
From another perspective, this silver metal was indeed related to the ancient alloy. If he had stopped his relentless research and refused to embark on his multiple adventures, this material wouldn’t have existed.
He sowed what he reaped. Karma was Buddhist teaching but it had an undoubtedly useful philosophical value that added to one’s wisdom.
While Xia Lei was busy handling the logistics of his new project, Long Bing was staring at a zooming Boeing 747 plane from a village near Narita Airport. That was a plane serving for a Chinese airline, the sight of it grasped her heart with worry.
“This is not it. What can I do if I continue to stay here? I need to get my job done, not stay here and be protected by others.” Long Bing thought to himself anxiously. She ripped her attention away and left her room.
Tsukino Kyoko was busy training her sword skill in the yard. There were two katanas in her grip, one long and one short. With varying swinging forms, she balanced her technique with different length. Switching between offensive and defensive, her sword skills were superb.
The female ninja had noticed Long Bing exiting her room, but Tsukino Kyoko made no move to stop herself. Her sword dance intensified as she picked up her rotating speed, enveloping her form in the cold sheen of her blade.
“Mind if you stop for a minute? I need to talk to you,” said Long Bing with furrowed brows.
It was only then that Tsukino Kyoko stopped her movements, returning her blades into its sheath skillfully. Every rippled of her muscle was practised with terrifying precision. She approached Long Bing. “Madam Long, how can I help you?”
Long Bing said, “I’m here on a mission, not to be a witness. I don’t need protection. All I need is for you to help locate the FA members and get rid of them.”
Tsukino Kyoko flashed her a smile. “Madam Long, since the boss had instructed me to assist you, I’m sure you’re already aware of the existence of the Chinese Zodiac Battle Team, yes?”
Long Bing nodded.
Tsukino Kyoko continued, “Since you’re aware of its existence, you probably have an idea of the number of our members and real competence.”
Long Bing nodded again. Before she had left China, the woman had a deep conversation with Xia Lei. The man had told her many things about the Zodiac Team and the forte of each member. She knew that this female ninja before her was an expert assassin.
“Madam Long, my duty is to protect you. I know you require some intel but that’s Sa’im’s responsibility. The man is our intelligence expert and he has an intel system that he had formed alone. Trust me, you can enjoy the sun with a nice cup of tea and you’d still get the information you wish for,” said Tsukino Kyoko.
“But… What if the FA members board the plane now? My mission would be a failure,” uttered Long Bing grimly.
Tsukino Kyoko reassured her. “There’s no need to worry about that. Yelena is keeping a watch at Narita Airport. She’s the chicken of the team. Please have some faith in her. As soon as the FA members show up at Narita Airport, you’ll be receiving a call within no more than one minute.”
“But what about Haneda Airport?”
“There are fewer flights to China departing from Haneda, most of it is headed towards Europe. Under normal circumstances, the chances of the FA selecting that airport is low. But even if they picked that airport, we have Anjum Khan over there. The monkey is a sharpshooter. If anything happens at Haneda Airport, you’ll also be the first to know,” uttered Tsukino Kyoko.
Long Bing shrugged her shoulders and heaved. This was the first time she was protected well during a mission. How could this be considered as a special agent mission? This literally was a millionaire’s vacation runaway. Becoming Xia Lei’s woman had allowed her to enjoy such privileges.
Tsukino Kyoko studied Long Bing’s abdomen. “Madam Long, how far are you along?”
The question caught Long Bing by surprise. “What do you mean?”
Long Bing immediately felt sheepish. “I just found out not too long ago. Why?”
“I’m a woman too.” Tsukino Kyoko explained, “I’m curious about how it feels to be pregnant. Do you mind sharing your feelings on it?”
Long Bing reached an arm to caress her stomach lightly. Though it was still completely flat, she was positive she could feel the budding little life within her. The gentle touch had her produce a faint smile. “I’ve not experienced any obvious pregnancy effects but I know that a baby is growing within me. My child fills me with worries.”
Tsukino Kyoko smiled at her gently. “Yeah, you should think more about your child. We can help you handle this mission. All you need to do is take good care of yourself and the child.”
Abruptly, a motorbike came to a halt beside the yard. The helmet-clad rider leapt off the bike and headed towards them.
Long Bing had noticed him since he appeared on the streets of the village. However, this was a stranger to her.
“Kyoko, can I have a cup of coffee? One sugar cube would do,” requested the man, taking off his helmet in the process. His features were Arabian.
Tsukino Kyoko stood her ground, turning to introduce the newcomer to Long Bing. “This is Sa’im, our intelligence expert.”
Long Bing nodded to him. “Hello, Mister Sa’im.”
“Nice to meet you, Madam Long.” Sa’im was courteous. “Let’s talk inside.”
The three of them entered the house.
In the living room, Sa’im brought out a folded newspaper issue and placed it on the coffee table. The newspaper was fully in Japanese. Though Long Bing’s mastery of the language was lacklustre, there were many similarities between the Japanese and Chinese characters. So it wasn’t difficult for her to get a gist of the headline’s content.
Long Bing eyes widened in shock.
The content had talked about how China was researching new aerospace material. The woman had also noticed the words ‘Xia Lei’ and ‘Thunder Horse’ written in between the lines.
Tsukino Kyoko broke the silence. “This article is quoted by Asahi News from a Chinese news outlet. What is the point of you showing this to us?” She frowned at him. “This piece of intel barely has any value. It can’t be exchanged for a cup of coffee. Not to mention, you even asked for a cube of sugar.”
“The official article published by the Chinese government had not mentioned the boss’s name and Thunder Horse Organization. If you look here, Asahi News had mentioned him and the company specifically. This article indicates that China had obtained the new material successfully but is only going to achieve completion after five years. China did not drop a bomb on them. The country’s intention of releasing this signal was to ease the growing tension of the marine territory situation,” explained Sa’im.
Tsukino Kyoko shook her head. “I’m not interested in politics.”
Something clicked in Long Bing’s mind. “Mister Sa’im, you’re saying that…”
“Madam Long, there’s no need to be courteous with me. You can just call me Sa’im, but you can also call me Sa’im al-Majid al-Tikriti. Of course, the latter is a mouth full to say.” Sa’im chuckled.
“Alright then, Sa’im,” said Long Bing. She needed to learn more about this person and adjust herself to them. She was destined to fight alongside them for the sake of the Thunder Horse Organization soon.
Tsukino Kyoko interrupted them, displeased. “Cut the crap, Sa’im. Speak, what have you found?”
Sa’im’s expression turned hard. “I’ve seen many similar articles from mainstream Japanese media but none with the same tone. In the past, when China announced its research outcome, the typical tone Japanese media would use was full of mockery and suspicion. They would either question the product or show how inferior it was to its Japanese counterpart. This time, this article was firm with its wording. It reeks of anxiety and concern too. This may seem normal but if you compare this to their earlier publications, this tone is not normal at all.”
“You’re saying that…” Long Bing was troubled. “The Japanese have an accurate intel source?”
Sa’im nodded. “Yes.”
“There’s a spy in the Thunder Horse Organization?” Long Bing pressed on.
Sa’im answered, “That I’m not sure. But I’m rarely wrong about situations like this. I even suspect that the Japanese Intelligence Department knows that you’re already here in Japan.”
To be able to sniff out intel from a single Asahi News article was Sa’im’s expertise. When God made humans, there was always bound to be some eccentricities to create a person with terrifying natural talent.
“I need to contact Xia Lei right away.” Long Bing reached for the satellite phone.
Surprisingly, Tsukino Kyoko pressed on her hand. “No, we need to evacuate this place as soon as possible!”
Ring… Ring… Ring…
At this moment, Long Bing’s other phone had rung.
Her Bureau 101 colleagues were trying to reach her.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
have a nice day!