A fleet of black cars made their way across the second ring bridge and stopped outside the gate of the building material factory. Adding to the four vehicles that had already been there, much of the open space outside the gate was taken up now, making the picture rather crowded.
What was left of Team Four gathered around to greet the newcomers, who were led by two men. One was Director Tong, their direct boss, the other one they saw only for the first time. Judging by Tong's bowing and scraping, the man should be the rumored 'imperial envoy' sent by the HQ.
"What are we looking at?" Mu Kun came directly to the point.
"They are still inside. We can detect no movement and do not know what they are doing. We've had the entire factory area surrounded and swept. There are no residents nearby," replied the team captain, who had came up to Mu Kun.
"Good, very thorough."
Mu Kun nodded his approval and went on, "Have you communicated with them over the loudspeaker yet?"
"We have. There was no response."
He pondered for a moment and examined the terrain, then pointed at a small window high up on the warehouse wall. "Can you go in through there?"
"In that case, make another assault. Easy on the firepower."
The captain promptly returned to his team, giving out orders and making arrangements. Mu Kun, on the other hand, raised his head slightly and looked at the half-hidden warehouse with an emotionless face.
As a matter of fact, the plan of the HQ was to have Investigation Department gather information and act as the assistant team while leaving the tough battles to the Operation Department. Exactly what did that mean for members of the Operation Department? Well, since they were handling unusual persons, they themselves had to have the adequate capability.
Incidents such as this one should be the problem of the Operation Department's people. Unfortunately, they were unable to recruit anyone talented enough and the department was an empty shell at the moment.
A couple of minutes later, the captain finished mapping out the plan and deployed a team of eight with himself on the lead. They stealthily made their way near the warehouse first, then slung a rope and climbed to the small window.
Mu Kun observed from afar with binoculars. The team removed the window glass noiselessly, giving them entrance into the building. They then swiftly moved in through the opening one after another. Their agility and adroitness would leave any onlooker wondering in amazement. It was indeed an elite team.
The first wave they sent in comprised a single man—Zhao Lei himself—who was probably stranded in the warehouse at the moment.
The second wave comprised four people, and for some unknown reason, they were unexpectedly taken out.
This third wave was increased to eight well-equipped men holding firearms. They should return with at least some sort of information.
That was why Mu Kun remained holding the binoculars to his eyes while waiting for the team's feedback. However, five seconds passed and nothing happened…
Then, five seconds turned into five minutes…
There were no shots fired, no shouting, and no sounds of any struggle. Nothing came out of the warehouse. The window looked like the gaping mouth of a monster, pitch-dark and bottomless, ready to lure in its willing victims, who would be swallowed and digested in its stomach until nothing was left.
Director Tong shuddered. Any sound of a struggle would be better than this dead silence, which was creeping him out. He turned to Mu Kun involuntarily, hoping to get some hint, but only to find Mu Kun somewhat agitated as well and pacing around despite himself.
The opponent had taken up a stronghold, seized hostages, and was extremely capable in their martial prowess. What was worse, this incident was taking place in a downtown area… okay, it was almost out of the second ring road, but it was still downtown Urumqi!
Apparently, such a situation was the toughest to handle. It was almost impossible to solve unless they brought in a rocket and bombed the entire warehouse to the ground. Okay, come on, no one in the right mind would ever consider that.
More importantly, it was far from a life-or-death situation.
"Hand me the loudspeaker!"
With a high-powered loudspeaker in hand, Mu Kun pondered on the wording and was ready to give a speech. Before he had a chance to open his mouth, however, the warehouse gate parted from the middle.
It was open.
The entire group was taken by surprise. 'What's going on?' Immediately after that, a man walked out. One of the team members shouted right away, "Don't shoot! It's Zhao Lei!"
"Oh? Let him through."
Mu Kun found it rather strange as well and beckoned Zhao Lei over.
In the subtle silence, Zhao Lei approached them across the dusty ground. He was walking slowly at first, then his pace quickened as he started trotting. Soon, he was outside the yard.
"What happened to you? What do they want?" Director Tong asked at once.
"Director, Director Mu, they want to speak to you."
Ignoring Tong, Zhao Lei handed an encrypted phone to Mu Kun right away. "They have interrogated us and know much about your identity. There's no casualty on our side."
"Good, well done."
Mu Kun's eyes flickered as he dialed a number following Zhao Lei's instructions. Three seconds later, the phone was picked up by someone with a clear and bright voice. "Hello, is that Director Mu?"
"Is that Mr. Gu?"
"So, you guys know a great deal about me," the man chuckled.
"Who knows what scene you'll cause if we cannot even find out information as basic as this," Mu Kun chuckled back.
"Haha… well, let's cut to the chase. Shall we have a talk?" Gu Yu asked.
"Sure. Are you coming out, or shall I go in?"
"There are so many of you. I think you should come to me."
"I can do that."
"We're looking forward to meeting you."
"Click!" The phone was hung up after that.
"You cannot go in there. It must be a trap!"
Old Tong got the general idea of their conversation's contents and tried to stop Mu Kun anxiously, "I'll send for more people. There must be a way to take down this warehouse!"
Mu Kun waved him off impatiently. "They are not stupid and have no reason to harm me. If they really were against us, with their ability, do you think any of those people would still be alive? Don't worry, it's a sign that they aim for peace talks. You all wait here. I'll go in and have a look."
"My goodness! If anything should happen to you, then, then…"
Old Tong was driven insane. He ignored Mu Kun's instructions and urgently ordered a few gunmen to escort the latter. Mu Kun did not refuse the gesture. After all, the safer, the better.
After that, four men entered the factory, followed by the concerned eyes of a whole bunch of people.
Inside was an open area. Dust swirled in the air and formed yellow hazes of sand from time to time. The three gunners kept their guard around Mu Kun and approached the warehouse with their hearts in their mouths.
One step, two steps, three steps… the first half of the trip passed uneventfully. When they were five steps away from the building, however, the gate clanked open again.
Two shadows flew straight out like giant birds. The gunners were frightened out of their wits and raised their guns to shoot. As it turned out, before they even had a chance to touch the two figures, they all thumped to the ground one after another.
Immediately after that, the two people held Mu Kun by his shoulders and backed away at an amazing speed.
The gate was shut again. If it were not for the three unfortunate 'victims' on the ground, what had just happened was almost like a hallucination.
"This is a disaster! I'm finished!"
Old Tong almost collapsed to the ground. He realized that his career had just come to an end.
Mu Kun was in his fifties and a former soldier. He used to be a fierce fighter in his youth, mastering everything from handling guns to hand-to-hand combat. He did not let go of those qualities even after he became an official with a desk job and had kept his body in good shape.
Nevertheless, he found himself completely defenseless during that brief engagement just then. He felt like a poor chicken gripped between the claws of an eagle. He was shocked, somewhat humiliated, and even detected a rare uneasiness in himself.
By the time he came to himself, he was inside. The warehouse was empty except for a few rotten wooden boards, tables, and chairs. In the eastern corner, a bunch of people were piled up like turnips. Those were members of Team Four.
Despite their sagging spirit, they weren't injured in any way.
As for the two standing right in front of him, they were none other than Gu Yu and Jiang Xiaozhai themselves. They had created a series of uproars from Shu Zhou to Xiang Zhou, then to Urumqi. Even government officials high up in the command chain were shocked and the emphasis on these two had been increasing ever since... until they became their prime targets!
He sized the duo up and the duo reciprocated his gaze. The atmosphere turned awkward as the three pairs of eyes met. Everything had happened so fast that none of them was ready for it.
What Gu Yu and Xiaozhai planned was to grab some foot soldier and extract some information. Unexpectedly, they found about BIMAUP and even managed to lure out a King of hearts. Mu Kun, on the other hand, had started off with the superiority complex typical to government officials... only to be met with a most straightforward approach. Voila! Here he was, on the other side of the looking glass.
Mu Kun revealed nothing on his face. Inside, however, there was a storm going on in his head.
Specialists of the bureau had gathered a great amount of information, piling up a stack of paper as thick as 15 cm, just to analyze and establish a psychological model of the duo and their personalities. It was of vital importance. To some extent, the outcome had set the basic attitude of the government.
If the duo were found to be potentially anti-society or anti-humanity, the authorities would spare no effort to take them down by force.
If the duo were deemed immature, foolish, lacking common sense, and inexperienced in interpersonal relations due to their sudden rise from the bottom of the social structure after a lucky windfall of some sort, the authorities would naturally resolve to both mild and severe measures.
The toughest type to deal with, however, were those like these two. They had independent awareness and minds, were attracted to an unrestrained life, held no obvious hostility, and even had the willingness to fight crimes as vigilantes...
"Oh my, I've heard so much about you!"
After a brief silence, Mu Kun's face softened as he put up a friendly smile. "I have been wanting to meet you two for a while. Now that we've finally met, you guys are indeed everything they claimed you to be."
"You flatter us. There's no tea around here, sorry about that."
Gu Yu had deemed Mu Kun a man of experience and made his own pleasantries sound sincere. Xiaozhai followed suit and shook the bag of seaweed in her hand, "This is all we have. Want some?"
Mu Kun felt his lips twitching. Even with the foreknowledge of the psychological model from the specialists, one could only feel exactly what a pain in the neck these people could be when they met them in person.
The small talk went on for a minute or two before Mu Kun asked, "I don't think you've brought me here for chit-chat. Get to the point. What are we going to talk about?"
"Not with you. You're here to pass on a message for us."
"To whom?" he frowned.
"The highest rank officials you have access to," grinned Xiaozhai.
That was some statement!
Enraged by their words, Mu Kun almost laughed. 'I can see the goddamn prime minister if I need to, but why should I be your messenger?' his face darkened slightly. "Are you mocking me?"
"No offense, Director Mu, but what we need to talk about is beyond your pay grid," replied Gu Yu in a serious tone.
At those words, the tension was raised. The three of them were on one side of the building and the pile of turnips on the other side could hear nothing they were saying. All they could do was blink. Their fate was no longer in their hands.
Gu Yu and Xiaozhai felt somewhat helpless about their situation. They would never get in touch with the government if they had any other choice. But now, they had to. For one, they had taken Long Qiu. For another, judging by how the state of affairs had been developing, they would eventually cross paths with these people. It was only a matter of time.
The modern society was nothing like the ancient one, where one could find some secluded forest and hide away for the rest of their lives. To put it plainly, nowadays, everything belonged to the state, cultivation resources included.
From the action the authorities took so far, they had obviously obtained some sort of information, after which they would keep digging until they got the whole picture.
Conflicts existed naturally between private resources and state control. Rather than waiting for the authorities to act against them openly, they decided to have an above-board talk while they still had a thing or two up their sleeves.
How to approach it was vital. They were the disadvantaged side. Taking the initiative and seeking out the authorities was no different than turning themselves in. Therefore, after some discussion, Gu Yu and Xiaozhai decided to take advantage of the incident today and let the authorities come to them. At least in that way, they would seize the apparent initiative.
Mu Kun snorted suddenly after a brief pause. He replied with an obvious sneer. "The saying 'ignorant individuals are those breaking the law' is talking about people exactly like yourselves. Just because you're talented in some way, you think you can do as you please, ignoring the laws of the state! We haven't even started with the thing you did in the Miao village and you are taking hostages today. Do you have any idea what a felony you've committed? Instead of realizing your criminal conduct and surrendering yourselves to the law, you fantasize about making a deal? You think too highly of yourselves! What do you think qualifies you to negotiate with the government?"
Those were extremely harsh words. He kept his gaze upon the two, for such authoritative manner and disdain would usually generate a tremendous psychological pressure.
"Hoho, of course we're qualified…"
Gu Yu's mood was not affected at all, as if he had seen through Mu Kun's little trick. He replied unhurriedly, "...Because I'm the only one that can lead you the thing you want most."