Han Xiao had gone to the road the night before when the troops were camping at the battleground. He had planted a trap using the corpses of Pan Kuang and Ji Jie to lure Colonel Carl out of his vehicle. The moment Carl stepped out of his command vehicle, Han Xiao had the opportunity to snipe him down.
Additionally, he had placed a blank landmine beneath the bodies to scare the troops out of their formation so that he could get a better shot at Colonel Carl from the distant cliff.
Killing a high-ranking Hesla officer in front of everybody was bound to raise suspicion from the Hesleans. They could probably deduce that it was Han Xiao who did it based on the use of the two bodies, but Han Xiao was not at all worried. They had no concrete evidence to proof that he was guilty. As long as Division 13 denied it, all Hesla could do was protest diplomatically. They could never hold Han Xiao accountable.
Just like Carl did not care if the enemy killed them, Zhang Wei's team could also push the blame to the escaped personnel from the Dark Crow Valley Base.
I can be just as devious as you, Carl.
Han Xiao cocked the barrel, and the smoky bullet cartridge fell out. He conveniently tossed it into his pocket, leaving no trace behind.
Carl's order had almost taken his life. He was bound to take revenge after the mission was completed. Han Xiao had once been a 'real' player who had always taken revenge when someone, regardless of who they were, harmed him. And he would avenge himself in all sorts of ways without saying much.
Han Xiao saw that the Hesla troops were in a mess through his scope. Some of the troops were furious. They boarded their vehicles and moved rapidly toward the source of the fire.
He calmly stowed the dissembled sniper into his backpack. He had handpicked the position for an easy escape after the assassination.
After turning around, he jumped off the cliff, and a feeling of freefall hit him immediately. He smacked the button on his back, and two fine, foldable metal wings expanded. He was then gliding in the air toward the forest beneath the cliff.
Sky Swallow Gliders!
When the Hesla troops arrived at the cliff, all they could see was a nimble shadow rapidly disappearing before their eyes.
Division 13 agents were still dumbfounded. They could not believe that Han Xiao had the guts to kill a commanding officer from Hesla.
It was a definitely a good way to vent one's anger, but there would be dire consequences. Nothing was worse than killing a Hesla high-ranking military officer right on their land! It seemed that Han Xiao had the balls of steel!
Qi Bai Jia was greatly anxious, but when he saw that the Hesla troops had not caught anyone, he was relieved.
Thank goodness he got away. In this case, they cannot prove that he is guilty. We can still argue our case.
Wait! If Han Xiao disappears, are we going to take his place in the trials
Everyone's eyes were wide open. They felt it was something that Han Xiao would definitely do.
How can he just push all the troubles to us! He is such a master at shirking responsibility!
The surrounding Hesla troops raised their rifles in anger and pointed them at the Division 13 agents. They were arrested, locked up in the cars, and escorted back to the border camp. As soon as deputy officer reported the incident, Hesla's government was furious.
Hesla's agents had to interrogate Division 13 as they were the prime suspect.
However, they soon became frustrated. Division 13 insisted that they did not know anything about the incident. Winna felt a sense of defeat.
Everyone knew that Han Xiao had done it, but no one had any evidence to proof that it was him. They could not even find the cartridge, which meant the only thing they could do was interrogate Division 13 over and over again. Since they could not use torturous methods to extort information because they were up against the Stardragon agents, their efforts were in vain. Moreover, the condemnation from the higher-ups of Hesla was met with empty excuses from Division 13.
The head of Intelligence in Division 13 took a private jet to quickly arrive at the Hesla border in order to rescue his agents. Without any concrete evidence, Hesla had to release the Division 13 agents.
The head of Intelligence brought everyone out of the interrogation room and back to the jet. He ordered Qi Bai Jia to report on the details of the incident after he was certain that there was no Hesla personnel around.
"He is such a trouble-maker. Fortunately, he did not leave any trace. Otherwise, Hesla would not have rested until they found him," he said.
Qi Bai Jia was feeling embarrassed and dared not reply. Ultimately, he had to take the full responsibility as the Stardragon leader of this mission.
The head of Intelligence looked at him without saying a word. He reflected on the reaction of the higher ups in Division 13 upon hearing this news. They believed that Carl's orders were authorized by the high-ranking officials in Hesla. It was the only reasonable conclusion to explain why Hesla purposefully sent a radical officer to helm this mission. They were displeased with Hesla's insidious acts. It was actually quite a good ending. After all, Hesla failed in causing any harm to Stardragon agents, and yet, they lost a high-ranking officer. They even had to swallow the loss without catching the culprit.
"This fellow did an excellent job." The Head of Intelligence nodded quietly. This time, even the hawks in the department had nothing critical to say about this incident. In fact, they loved what Han Xiao did. If one had the audacity to plot against Stardragon, the retaliation would be swift and deadly.
Despite the appreciation, the heads of the Department unanimously agreed in the previous internal meeting that they had to impose greater control on Han Xiao and not let him escape their surveillance. As their source of valuable intel, Han Xiao was far too important to warrant any accidents or mishaps.
Because of Han Xiao's cooperative attitude, they had been too lenient with his actions, but since the incident from the joint mission, they became deeply alarmed. They came to the consensus to reject any of Han Xiao's future mission requests.
This motion was passed without any objection, even from the conservatives in the Division 13. The department was still willing to cooperate with Han Xiao, but before divulging all the intel he had, he would not leave the headquarters' surveillance.
The Head of Intelligence finished contemplating and looked at the team of agents. He then looked at his watch and said in a puzzled tone, "Why is Han Xiao still not back?"
"I have no idea." Qi Bai Jia shook his head.
"Han Xiao just contacted me." Lin Yao suddenly pressed his headphone as he became overly-excited. But the next second, his expression changed drastically.
"What did he say?" The Head of Intelligence had a bad hunch.
"Brother Xiao said... he is going to lie low until the dust settles," Lin Yao stammered.
"Lie low until the dust settles? This means...." The Head of Intelligence was slow to process the meaning of this message. Then, he quickly realized what it meant. "He is not coming back"
His expression turned ghastly.
Zhang Wei looked shell-shocked. Li Ya Lin was wide-eyed. Lambert was in disbelief.
Everyone was utterly shocked.
It looked as if he was really going solo!
There was really nothing he was afraid to do!
Twenty minutes later in Division 13's headquarters, Gu Hui called for an emergency meeting. The directors who were not stationed at the headquarters joined the video conference. Everyone had a solemn look.
"Han Xiao ran away," Gu Hui said in a sobering tone.
"Is he defecting?"
"Unclear. Before this, he sniped a Heslean military officer. It is possible that he is afraid of the consequences, so he escaped. But this possibility is not high," the Head of Intelligence replied.
The other heads were irritated. That reason was highly improbable, unless Han Xiao believed that Stardragon was incapable of protecting him, which also meant that Han Xiao looked down at their abilities.
"What about the GPS tracker that we planted in his phone?"
"The tracker has not moved in the last twenty-four hours. Han Xiao discovered and removed it."
"He is going to defect. He must be still near us and heading toward the wilderness. We have to bring him back!" the Head of Internal Affairs thundered.
"We cannot be certain that he is defecting." Gu Hui waved his hands disapprovingly.
All the heads simmered silently. They had been planning to restrict him in the West Capital the moment he was back, but his sudden escape had ruined all their plans.
Was it a pre-meditated move, or was it just a spur of the moment decision?
Was it defection, or was it something else?
Standard protocol indicated that when an agent broke contact, and when the exact cause behind the disappearance was inconclusive, the first thing they needed to do was send people to track the agent down. Then, they would contact the agent to make a judgement based on their reaction for the subsequent course of actions.
If the agent resisted the capture or continued to run, they would have no choice but to hunt the agent down globally.
If the agent had a good reason, the protocol ensured that a misunderstanding and manslaughter were avoided.
"This is just in. The Germinal Organization has increased the reward for capturing or killing Han Xiao by five times to five million on the dark net," the Head of Intelligence said all of a sudden.
Everyone was utterly surprised. This mission had been announced as a joint exercise between the two countries. How did the Germinal Organization know that Han Xiao was the main catalyst? Was there a mole within them?
The increase in reward implied that the Germinal Organization was determined to kill Han Xiao more than ever. Furthermore, the organization had already located Han Xiao to be in the West Capital. Could that have been the reason for Han Xiao's departure?
Was he not afraid of being located by the organization in the wilderness and slaughtered? The Germinal Organization was way more unhinged in the wilderness. They could very well fire missiles to bombard the whole area.
"He came to Stardragon to seek protection in the first place. How did he suddenly have the guts to leave?"
This question lingered in everyone's mind.
Gu Hui knocked on table and concluded the meeting. "We will continue to keep his identity as our agent and file him under missing personnel. The Intelligence Department will collect the surveillance tapes, migration records, and transport records from everywhere to try and contact him. We will also send out search teams to find him. We must get hold of him first before any subsequent action!"
On the private jet back, the Division 13 agents constantly peeked at the corner, where Zhang Wei's team was. It was like the center of a high-pressure vortex.
Zhang Wei pinched the bridge of his nose with a look of seriousness. The veins on his forehead were showing clearly.
Lambert was wiping his knife in silence.
Li Ya Lin was constantly shaking her legs with a look of indignation and anxiousness. Her tight black body suit outlined her beautiful and seductive long legs.
Lin Yao was sitting at the side, frightened.
He wanted to get away from his raging teammates but was afraid of doing so. He trembled in fear.
"This is too much! He just left without saying anything to us. He clearly does not treat us as his teammates!" Li Ya Lin slammed hard on the table. The thundery sound spooked all the other agents that were eavesdropping in the surrounding.
Zhang Wei's hands held onto half of his face, and he looked as if he had nothing to live for.
"He modified my armored suit... and no one else knows how to repair it," he mumbled.
It was such a tragedy. The other agents did not know how to console Zhang Wei.
"He asked me to take business orders for him, and he already collected the deposit for a few dozen orders. What do I do now" Li Ya Lin clenched her teeth in rage.
The other agents were startled. They realized that they had also made some orders...
"I used my reputation to guarantee to his business. He totally ruined my reputation!" Li Ya Lin now sounded like a grudging wife who was being cheated on. She pinched Lin Yao's arm in an attempt to release her anger.
Lin Yao felt an immense pain. He immediately jumped far away and said hastily, "Calm down... Calm down..."
"Do you know his real identity?" Lambert suddenly commented.
The three of them were startled.
They were unaware of his real identity even after being on the same team for so long. Han Xiao had always been rather mysterious, and he had never divulged any information related to his real identity. Even the higher ups had refused to tell the team.
At this moment, everyone was dispirited.
"When I find him, I will definitely beat the crap out of him," Li Ya Lin said in an infuriated voice as she cracked her knuckles loudly.