Volume 4 –
Chapters 301 To 400
Chapter 388 – Father And Son Meet
Xia Lei had idle time aplenty in the morning so he roamed about in the embassy. Ling Han, on the other hand, was the busiest of their group, starting work on the final preparations for Thunder Horse Military Factory’s participation in the light weapons exhibition. Tang Yuyan and Hu Hao were called to assist him and Xia Lei was glad for that. He would have practically no opportunity to leave the embassy and meet his father if Tang Yuyan hung around him.
It was quiet on the Hanwu Weapons end too since the employees were busy preparing for the light weapons exhibition. Ye Kun did make some phone calls and Xia Lei used his X-ray vision and lip-reading to get some information from him.
The two of the calls Ye Kun had made were to China, asking his underlings how things were going with the poaching of talent from Thunder Horse Military Factory, as well as the visit to the workshops. Another call was to Mu Jianfeng, also about Thunder Horse Military Factory. Yet another call was made to some person from the Equipment Department, asking about the acceptance of the first batch of XL2500 sniper rifles.
Xia Lei saw some facts from his snooping, and that was that Ye Kun was not giving up on making things difficult for Thunder Horse Military Factory as the head of Hanwu Weapons. He also understood that he had no other choice than to break free from this siege Hanwu Weapons had put him under or he would fall from the assault of the oligarchy headed by Ye Kun.
Xia Lei expected Ye Kun to contact Ahn Suhyeong but the man was a sly fox and didn’t do so.
The morning passed in this way and it drew close to noon. Xia Lei went to the doors of the embassy.
“I’m sorry, Mr Xia.” The gate guard blocked Xia Lei off. “Mr Ling has informed us that you are not allowed to go out.”
Xia Lei frowned. “Why can’t I go out?”
“It is what Mr Ling has instructed. Please ask him.” The gate guard was honest. “We are just following orders, so please understand.”
It was not just Tang Yuyan who had to obey but the soldiers in the embassy too. What is this Ling Han’s identity?
“Never mind. I just want to go out to buy something. If that’s the case then I won’t go out.” Xia Lei put on an unbothered front and moved away from the gate.
A small delivery van carrying vegetables, grain and oil stopped at the main gates. The driver alighted and started talking to the gate guards. The driver was a rotund Russian babushka who could speak Chinese. She did not speak it very well but the ability to do so was remarkable.
The guards checked the babushka’s entrance permit and asked her to open up the delivery van for inspection but they did not get on the vehicle. They let her in.
The Russian babushka drove the delivery van to the unloading station behind the kitchens, honking at Xia Lei as she went past him.
An idea hatched in Xia Lei’s head when he saw the little delivery van go past.
Lunchtime came and Xia Lei was the first to go to the cafeteria for his meal. He got a helping of food and sat at a table, eating slowly. As he ate, he stared straight at the wall opposite him, using his X-ray vision to watch the delivery van.
The kitchen workers were unloading the delivery from the babushka. They weren’t very fast; it looked like they would take ten minutes.
The babushka didn’t seem happy about their speed and she muttered something before walking off in the direction of the bathrooms.
Xia Lei stopped using his X-ray vision. Tang Yuyan and Ling Han walked into the cafeteria at that moment.
“You’re being too lazy, aren’t you, Lei?” Tang Yuyan grumbled as soon as she came over. “We were busy the whole time and here you are eating.”
Xia Lei smiled. “Mr Ling is in charge of all of that work. My job is at the exhibition, so it’s not my time to be busy yet.”
Tang Yuyan pursed her lips. “I knew you’d say that. I don’t care – you must play with me after the exhibition is over. Count that as compensation.”
Xia Lei agreed. “No problem. I’ll accompany you to wherever you want to go after the exhibition.”
The two of them chatted and laughed. Ling Han did not come over – he sat by himself at a table as always and ate his lunch.
‘Ling Han looks like a loner. Does he have friends?’ wondered Xia Lei.
Tang Yuyan winked at Xia Lei and asked in a low voice, “What are you doing in the afternoon?”
“What do you have in mind?” asked Xia Lei tentatively.
“How about playing a game with me?”
“My foot. I’m sleepy, I want to nap.” Xia Lei stood. “Don’t bother me. I don’t know how to play games.”
Tang Yuyan rolled her eyes at him and muttered, “Petty.”
Xia Lei left the dining area and quickly went to the back.
The cafeteria staff were done unloading but the babushka had yet to return from the bathroom. This was just the opportunity Xia Lei was waiting for. He climbed into the delivery van and closed the door. There were several empty plastic boxes in a corner which were just right for hiding him.
Barely two minutes after he hid himself, the babushka was back. She just glanced at the shut delivery van door and didn’t check. The babushka went straight to the driver’s seat and drove off.
The exit from the embassy went smoothly too. The gate guards did not open up the van to check it and waved the babushka through after exchanging just a few lines with her.
The babushka entered traffic, heading north. In the back of the delivery van, Xia Lei removed his mobile phone battery and the SIM card, looking outside the van with his X-ray vision as he did so and waiting for his chance to get out of the vehicle.
A song suddenly blasted in the van – a famous song in Russia titled ‘Night in Moscow’s Outskirts’. Xia Lei then discovered that the old-fashioned music was coming from a very small loudspeaker in the back of the delivery van.
Just as Xia Lei was about to leave his hiding place and open the door of the delivery van, the babushka’s voice came from the speaker. “Don’t get off. We’ll be there soon.”
Xia Lei froze. He was astonished – this babushka knew that he was in the vehicle, and even told him directly that they were ‘almost there’. Who was she?
The babushka’s voice came from over the speaker again. “Don’t be nervous. We’re on the same side.”
Xia Lei smiled wryly and cancelled his plan to jump out of the van. He thought more carefully about when the babushka had entered the embassy, to the time when she’d exited but did not see any outward hints throughout the entire process. If even he could not tell then the staff of the embassy were even more clueless.
This was good. At least Ling Han and Tang Yuyan wouldn’t find out.
The delivery van continued north and stopped after half an hour. Xia Lei called forth the power of his eye and scanned the environment outside the delivery van. This was not central Moscow any longer, but an area close to the suburbs. The delivery van had stopped before the door of a warehouse. This warehouse was quite isolated and there were no people about.
The babushka honked three times and the shutter-door of the warehouse rumbled upwards. She drove inside when the door was more or less open.
The delivery van finally came to a stop and the babushka opened the back door of the van.
Xia Lei jumped out. The warehouse had stacks of frozen pork and fish, and tendrils of cold blew about everywhere; it was cold. However, he did not see Yelena or his father. He wanted to use his X-ray vision on the place but quickly gave up on the idea because he could not see through so many hanging frozen pigs.
The babushka stared at Xia Lei. “Where are the guns?”
“I’m afraid there will only be a chance after the exhibition. I can’t give it to you guys right now,” said Xia Lei.
The babushka wrinkled her brows. “You made the guns though. Why is it still so difficult?”
“Who are you?” probed Xia Lei.
The babushka laughed, then reached out to fiddle with her chin. She grabbed skin and pulled upwards. The face full of wrinkles disappeared in the blink of an eye, replaced by a young, beautiful face. She was Yelena. The sculpted mask in her hand was intricately detailed and life-like; it was astonishing.
Xia Lei snapped back to his senses. No wonder a delivery babushka had turned up at the time when he’d most needed to escape the embassy. She had unexpectedly turned out to be Yelena, come specially to fetch him.
“What would you have done if I didn’t get in your van?” asked Xia Lei.
Yelena gave a laugh. “I’d have no words to say if you didn’t make use of this opportunity. Plus, I intentionally went to the bathroom to give you a chance to get in the van.”
Xia Lei shrugged. “Where’s my father?”
Yelena reached into the driver’s cabin and honked twice.
Footsteps came from deeper inside the warehouse and a middle-aged man came into view. He wore grey work clothes and thick black leather shoes with a grey baseball cap on his head. The cap covered half his face but Xia Lei recognised him at once – he was his father, Xia Changhe.
Xia Lei opened his mouth to say ‘Dad’ but no sound came out. His mind was a blank when he saw Xia Changhe, and his feelings were an absolute mess.
“You guys chat. I’ll go out and keep watch.” Yelena left.
Xia Changhe walked to stand before Xia Lei and he looked at him silently. A smile played about the corners of his mouth and his heart was full of excitement and joy.
Xia Lei looked straight at Xia Changhe too. His mind was not a blank now – images of what he’d experienced flashed through his head like a film in reverse. His father put him on his shoulders to run about with him as a child. His father buying him sweets. His father walking with him to cross the busy streets safely when he was a student in school. His father making sweet and sour pork ribs for him and his sister in the evening…
Xia Lei’s eyes filled gradually with tears and he finally said, “Dad!”
Xia Changhe opened his arms and enveloped Xia Lei in a hug. “Lei.” Tears fell from Xia Changhe’s eyes when he called his name.
Xia Lei had harboured some resentment towards Xia Changhe before he met him but he found that he could not hate his father after he met him.
“Lei, these past years have been tough on you,” said Xia Changhe.
Xia Lei took a deep breath. “Dad, why? Do you know how I lived these past few years? I sometimes huddled alone under my bed-covers and cried. I didn’t dare to let Xue know. I wanted so much for you to be with us but you went away for six years. Six years without any contact.”
He could not hate Xia Changhe but he had kept these words inside for years and they bubbled to the surface.
Xia Changhe sighed. “I know I’ve let you and Xue down, and I do not hope for your forgiveness. But you have to trust me – I had no other choice. If I came back I would not help you, but bring you danger. You two are safest only if I disappear off the face of this Earth. More importantly, I have to help you gain the time you need.”
Xia Lei paused. “You… know everything?”
Xia Changhe let go of Xia Lei. “Come with me. This is not the place to talk.”
Xia Lei nodded and followed Xia Chenghe, going deeper into the warehouse.