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One day later, Paris, DGSE Headquarters.
Jacqueline Eva watched the sky outside the window gloomily. The sky was clear but she felt terrible. On her desk was a report. Over the past three days, she had found out about this person named “Dark Mona.” She was the FA Organisation’s ace agent and their best assassin. However, that was all that was in the report. There was no information about the FA Organisation headquarters or Dark Mona’s whereabouts, or anything about Xia Lei. There was no way she could save Xia Lei like this.
DGSE’s top brass, Benjamin, had only gave her three days, and today was the last day. She did not know how she was to face Benjamin. A person had been lost under her watch, and she could not help but feel depressed every time she thought of this.
Bzz, bzz, bzz…
The phone on the desk suddenly began to vibrate.
Jacqueline Eva walked to the desk and picked up the phone. The number on the phone screen was a very normal local number. She hesitated, then swiped to accept the call. She asked, “Who is this?”
“Is this Miss Jacqueline Eva?” asked a man’s voice.
“This is she.” Jacqueline Eva became alert. “Who are you?”
“Oh, I am a driver,” said the man. “I work for the Rapid Logistics Company…”
Jacqueline Eva’s brows were already knotted. “I do not have time to chat with you.”
“Wait,” said the man. “A certain Mister told me to call you.”
“He is Chinese,” said the man. “I met him on the street, and he was in a terrible condition…”
Jacqueline Eva hurriedly interrupted, “Did he tell you his name?”
“Xia Lei,” said the man. “This name is sure hard to say.”
Jacqueline Eva’s heart almost jumped out of her chest when she heard Xia Lei’s name. She said in excitement, “Quick! Give the phone to him, let him talk to me!”
“That cannot do,” said the man. “His condition is terrible, he is sleeping in my car now. He said that if I call you and send him to your place, you will give me ten thousand euros, is that true?”
This seemed to be the real reason this driver called Jacqueline Eva.
“No problem,” said Jacqueline Eva. “But I need to understand the situation first. Tell me, how did you meet him? What is his situation right now?”
“I was driving out of Paris this morning when I saw a man lying on the grass on the roadside with his body covered in blood. I thought he was dead but right when I was about to call the police, he woke up and asked for my help. I bought him food and then he told me to call you. He said you would give me ten thousand euros.”
“I will give you ten thousand euros, so stop mentioning it. Tell me, are his wounds serious?”
“It looks serious but he is very strong. He should be fine. I suggested that he go to the hospital but he rejected the idea. Okay, where are you? I will take him to you.”
Jacqueline Eva thought for a moment and then said, “Where are you?”
“I am at the petrol station by Road 13, in the east of Paris.”
“Stay there and do not move. I will be right there.”
Jacqueline Eva had already hung up. She did not want to hear the words “ten thousand euros” mentioned anymore. She picked up the phone on the desk and dialled a number with practiced ease. “Prepare two helicopters!”
Meanwhile, at the petrol station in the east of Paris, Xia Lei lay in the car and stopped using his X-ray vision. He had seen the entire process of the French driver’s call to Jacqueline Eva. He had not needed to read his lips to understand his words, because that man’s voice was very loud.
In one night, he had come back to France from Italy. It was not difficult to shake off the Knights Hospitaller. What was difficult was to explain his “escape” to Jacqueline Eva, since he did do a self-directed act of kidnapping.
The French driver got in the car and looked at Xia Lei, who was lying on the car seat.
Xia Lei closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep.
The French driver reached out his hand and prodded at Xia Lei’s shoulder. “Hey, my friend, the woman named Jacqueline Eva told me to wait here. I want to send you back but she did not even tell me the address.”
Xia Lei opened his eyes. He seemed very weak. “It’s okay, we can just wait here.”
“Then… Will she give me ten thousand euros?”
“She will. If she does not give it to you, I will,” said Xia Lei. This guy uttered “ten thousand euros” every two minutes; Xia Lei was already annoyed.
“Hehe, this money is very important to me. Me, my wife, and my daughter thank you. My friend, you are such a nice person… How did you get hurt?”
“Let me sleep for a while.”
“Oh, sorry, I am too noisy. I will go to the petrol station mart and see if there is anything you need. Oh right, you need clothes. I will go buy you underwear.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
The chatty driver went to the petrol station mart, and Xia Lei could finally have some quiet. The image of da Vinci’s secret laboratory appeared in his head — the silver metal, da Vinci’s notebook, and that painting of the starry sky made with mysterious minerals…
‘The Princess Yongmei that I met before could only say two to three sentences like a tape on repeat. Later, as the number of ancient alloys pieces I collected increased, she also became more and more complete. From initially only being able to say a few words to being able to have autonomous thinking, and even having a temper. I had always thought that her incompleteness and completeness had to do with the ancient alloy box. If I collected all of the ancient alloy parts, she would become complete. But when she was in the maze, she seemed to already be complete. Could it be that her being complete or incomplete had nothing to do with the ancient alloy box…?’
‘That’s not it. She was originally trapped in the ancient alloy. I had to use X-ray vision to free her. Every time I found a new ancient alloy part, she would become more complete. She is a type of energy. If I compare her to electrical energy, she would be able to fit into different batteries, and the ancient alloy parts are those batteries. She’s existed for some time. She used up too much energy to fight the Japanese navy that previous time, and then she went into slumber…’
‘She sent me messages through Ning Jing to get me to awaken her. That painting is the key to her existence. Were those sparkling things really mineral? Or were those sparkling things her body? They disappeared in the end… If they were minerals, how would they disappear? And, she gave da Vinci a silver metal. Da Vinci also said he studied it, but why was there no research record linked to it? This was not like da Vinci. When he studied the human body, he would leave behind a manuscript, so how would he not leave behind his records when he studied that piece of metal? The later pages of that notebook were all blank. Could there have been an essay in it, or…’
Questions flooded Xia Lei’s mind, one by one. He thought through these questions, but his thoughts just became messier in the end.
“My friend, haha, look what I got you!” The car door was opened by the French driver and he climbed in. In his hands was a pair of red underwear. “Chinese people like red. Look, I got you a red pair. Do you like it?”
Xia Lei’s gaze turned to the underwear in the driver’s hand and he became speechless.
There was even the “Made in China” tag on the underwear, so obviously in was manufactured in China. But that was not what made Xia Lei speechless. What made him speechless was that the underwear that this guy bought him was actually for a female. There was even a peony print on it. If he were to act intimate with Long Bing wearing this kind of underwear, Long Bing would likely strangle him.
“Do you like it?” The French driver gave him a fawning smile.
Xia Lei forced a smile onto his face. “I like it, thank you.”
“Then put it on.” The driver tossed the peony-print underwear to Xia Lei, and smiled as he said, “I will not peek at you. I am not gay.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
A few minutes later, two helicopters appeared in the sky. One was a Eurocopter Tiger of the National Gendarmerie and one was a NH-90 transport aircraft. The Eurocopter Tiger carried an array of weapons like ground-to-ground missiles and autocannons. The NH-90 transport aircraft was filled with the French National Security Administration’s agents and the National Gendarmerie’s elites. All this just to pick Xia Lei up.
The Eurocopter Tiger stayed in the air surveilling the ground, ready to shoot any suspicious individuals. The NH-90 transport aircraft landed on vacant area next to the petrol station. Agents and elites armed to their teeth hopped down from the transport aircraft, one by one. They quickly encircled the gas station and the surrounding area in a blockade. Everything was under their control.
Jacqueline Eva walked towards the truck parked next to the petrol station.
The driver who had called Jacqueline Eva looked at the scene before him in awe. He stood with his mouth hanging open.
“Are you that driver?” asked Jacqueline Eva.
The driver finally snapped back to his senses. He seemed unable to get words out and only nodded.
Jacqueline Eva threw a bulging envelope into the driver’s hands. She did not want to waste anymore time on him. She walked straight to the truck.
“He is in the car.” The driver finally came back to his senses. “Who is he? A prince of China?”
Jacqueline Eva opened the car door and saw Xia Lei. In her eyes, Xia Lei was no longer that handsome Chairman of the Thunder Horse Group. He was dirty and covered with cuts and bloodstains. He looked like a refugee who had just been smuggled past the border, the kind of refugee who had been robbed.
But she felt relieved after she confirmed that it was Xia Lei. The tension in her body eased.
Xia Lei opened his eyes and looked at Jacqueline Eva. He looked very weak.
“What happened?” Jacqueline Eva looked at the bloodstains and at the bruises small and large on Xia Lei’s body.
“They ripped off my clothes and pushed me into the trunk of a car,” said Xia Lei weakly. “I undid the ropes on my body and jumped out of the car… You can see for yourself that I am in a terrible state.”
“That’s all that happened?” Jacqueline Eva could not believe that Xia Lei had escaped from those FA Organisation agents this easily.
Xia Lei spread his hands. “Do you want me to have been shot or something? Take me away from here, I… want to take a shower, and have a meal.”
“Can you walk?”
“It’s a little difficult.” Xia Lei struggled to stand up.
“Never mind, I will hold you.” Jacqueline Eva reached out her hand.
A minute later, a giantess of 192 cm carried a dirty Chinese man in her arms and walked towards the NH-90 transport helicopter. The Chinese man’s peony patterned underwear became the most eye catching existence for that walk. No one dared to look directly at them.
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