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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Outcast: Volume 1 Chapter 6

Volume One: Eastwood Is All Stones

Chapter 6: He is not a special agent

Bao Longtao had not seen what happened under the big green tree earlier, but that didn’t stop him from raising plenty of caution about the youngster whose face was still hiding behind the hood. He took two steps forward and then lowered his head so he could speak softly right next to Xu Le’s ear, which was of course still separated by the hood.
“Perhaps I shouldn’t ask you. I should go ask Li Wei.”
Like how animal handlers at the zoo always had their ways to handle the disobedient animals, whether with a whip or a piece of fresh meat, if an officer of the Federation wanted to handle the underground forces, he always had endless means. When Bao Longtao mentioned Li Wei’s name at this moment, he obviously was making a threat – even without checking ID himself, he could still easily find out about Xu Le’s identity.
But Xu Le had no worries. He was sure that Li Wei and those other orphans had plenty of means to survive. He carefully avoided Deputy Chief Bao’s intimate gesture without showing any offending signs. Still with his head lowered, he walked into the dark shadow humbly.
“I am sure we’ll meet again!” Bao Longtao shouted toward the youngster’s back, loosening his grip of the police baton.
It didn’t take long for the two to meet again. As a matter of fact, it was too short, so short that it was shocking and absurd.
In the dark shadow by the side gate of the Green Garden Apartments, Xu Le raised his head in shock, his bright eyes now squinting into two crescents. He gazed in utter disbelief at Bao Longtao, who leaned against the wall in a very comfortable posture with the confidence that the entire situation was still under his control. Xu Le appeared quite startled at the fact that the man had followed him to this remote corner without ever catching his attention.
“Didn’t I say we’ll meet again…? And I am very glad that no security monitors or nosy passersby would be able to interrupt our communication this time.”
Deputy Chief Bao stepped out of the dark shadow in his dark police uniform, the big grin on his face filled with insidious satisfaction. The police baton hanging by his waist was now in his hand. The diamond-shaped metal tip sparkled with terrifying blue electric arcs. Although they looked small, no one would have any doubt about their power.
Bao Longtao didn’t want to give Xu Le any chance to escape and didn’t expect Xu Le to immediately spill his guts. Out of habit he was ready to disable the young lad with a good shock before anything else and use the unbearable pain to soften the boy’s heart, so he would reveal the person behind him, the one who was capable of hacking into the Police Station network and taking advantage of the conflicts among the upper management of the Riverwest State government.
The tip of the baton almost reached Xu Le’s waist when Deputy Chief Bao suddenly felt a sharp pain.
A strong electric current instantly shot through his entire body, making all parts of his body twitch without control. In unbearable pain, he collapsed to the ground, trembling like someone with an epileptic seizure. White foam spilled from his half-open mouth.
The faint burning smell quickly dispersed into the night wind. The wall, however, was left with traces of permanent burning marks from the electric current.
After making sure Bao Longtao had no resistance left in him, Xu Le carefully returned the electric prod to his pocket.
The prod was only as long as a finger, but the electric current it sent out far exceeded the prod he gave to Li Wei earlier, not mentioning the police baton held by Bao Longtao.
Bao Longtao had pretended to let Xu Le leave and secretly intended to torture him in the dark corner. It was simply beyond his imagination that the feeble young lab could so easily take him down.
Xu Le walked by Bao Longtao. He hunkered down and examined the man. Then he placed a small metal piece into his ear and spoke with an intentionally lowered voice.
“Special agent No. 78 of the Federation Communication reporting. Operation interrupted. Should I erase the eyewitness?”
Xu Le crouched over Bao Longtao’s unconscious body as if he was waiting for instructions from the other end of the communication. A short moment later, he received his instructions. Paying no more attention to Deputy Chief Bao lying next to his feet, he quickly adjusted his jacket, so the hood covered his face even tighter, and soon disappeared into the darkness next to the Green Garden Apartments.
Obviously he did not live in the Green Garden Apartments.
After a long while, Deputy Chief Bao at the foot of the wall slowly opened his eyes. He made sure the mysterious young lad was really gone before he struggled to sit up. Wiping the white foam from his lips, he glanced gloomily in the direction of the youngster’s disappearance, his face twitching in grimace.
The pain and soreness in his muscle nerves was not gone yet, but Deputy Chief Bao’s attention was fully consumed by the shocking find. When he had been struck down by the electric shock, he hadn’t really lost his consciousness, and heard every word of the youngster’s request clearly. The words “erase eyewitness” and “special agent” frightened him, and he had dared not to open his eyes.
“Special agent of the Federation Communication, operating directly under both the Federation Communication Committee and the Federation President? You’ve gotta be kidding me!”
The feeling of dread quickly shot up Bao Longtao’s heart. The man who secretly provoked the orphans to cause trouble on the streets was a special agent sent from the Capital Star? The tiny yet powerful electric prod Xu Le had pulled out of nowhere only strengthened Bao Longtao’s conclusion.
As short as a finger, yet powerful enough to shoot an electric arc as far as fifty centimeters. Such delicate yet powerful weaponry simply could not have been copied by underground gangs. Only the military had the luxury to equip such devices and they were for Special Forces only.
Did that young lad work for the Federation Communication Committee or the President? Either would be a class far beyond his status. Bao Longtao slowly got back onto his feet with the help of the wall, still awed in terror. He knew he had made a terrible mistake today. This matter was something he’d never touch again.
Hot water streamed down from the faucet. The welfare of the Federation had always been good in small things. This was one example. The thick fog from the steam filled the entire bathroom with a dreamlike setting. Xu Le stood in front of the bathroom mirror and looked at the face inside the mirror. The steam soon turned the face into a blurry blob, but he remained still. Only after a long while, he finally let out a heavy breath.
The hands that grasped the edges of the white ceramic sink seemed to have been squeezing quite hard. The fingers looked paler than usual and also trembled slightly. He found himself terrified.
Xu Le pulled the small metal piece out of his ear, and then took out another metal object from underneath his tongue – it was used to change his voice. He threw them into the sink, which made two crisp clanking sounds – they were really only two metal buttons from his leisure jacket.
Bending his head low, Xu Le breathed heavily, as though doing so would allow him to exhale all the terror out of his body. With only two metal buttons, he had just fooled the infamous Bao Longtao, who was truly dreaded by many orphans, but he felt no accomplishment, not a single bit of it. If it weren’t for Li Wei’s sake, he would have never done anything like this.
He was no special agent, nor did he have the slightest ties with the big shots in the Capital Star Circle. He was merely a common person, gifted at mechanics maybe, but just a young lad.
Bao Longtao had always thought there were some powerful political forces standing behind him, but Xu Le knew that there was only one damn fellow behind all of this. If that fellow didn’t beg him in tears, how could he ever let the orphans and himself dig themselves into such an absurd situation?
Would Bao Longtao continue with his investigation? Xu Le wasn’t sure.
He could only splash hot water over his face again and again until the naïve-looking face almost turned red, and that was when he could finally breathe normally again. He stared at himself in the mirror irritably and then cussed in a lowered voice.
“Feng Yu, you a-hole! Who the hell are you?”

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