Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Markelov slowly told them about his past, and apart from some of the missions he and his brother had carried out, others, such as their clashes with the top brass and their disobedience to them, were explained clearly.
Finally, Big Markelov said with a sad expression, “When we joined the army, we were ready to die for our country, but what happened? This was what we got in return. How could it be like this?”
Li Du believed that he was telling the truth. The emotion he showed during his tale was sincere.
In particular, the last expression of Big Markelov’s emotion, emphasized by the cold moonlight illuminating his face, was even more desperate and pathetic.
Li Du rubbed his chin and asked, “Is everything you say true?”
Big Markov said with a weary smile, “I’m not stupid to try to fool you at this moment. If there are any loopholes in my story, I will be the one in trouble.”
Li Du said, “I can see you are a clever person, but how could a smart person live so miserably in the United States?”
Big Markelov said, “Smart person? No, when we came to America, we became like rats… smart rats at most.”
Li Du said, “In fact, you are right about one thing. No matter what we think of each other, we haven’t hurt each other yet. So, if I let you go, what will you do?”
Big Markelov said quickly, “Stay in these mountains. We’ll live like savages, hunting, and gathering, and never trouble you.”
Li Du said, “Never thought of anything else?”
Big Markov shook his head. “There’s nothing else to think about.”
Li Du ventured to say, “In fact, you have other ways. You are good at something. I like guys who are good at something. If the person is not a bad guy, I’m willing to recruit them.”
Big Markelov was stunned when he heard this, and asked back in astonishment, “You want to hire us both?”
Li Du thought about it for a moment and said, “Just you. Your younger brother looks so stupid that he was easily taken in by my two men.”
Big Markelov protested, “No way! In terms of military skills, he’s better than me! I don’t doubt the competence of your men, sir, but if my brother had had any chance at all to fight back, you would see what a soldier he is!”
It was true that Ah Meow came down silently from the tree and took away Young Markelov’s walkie-talkie. Brother Wolf and Firecracker had him at gunpoint. Young Markelov indeed did not have any chance to fight back.
Li Du said, “Why don’t both of you give it a try? You become my bodyguards and I’ll give you a chance to have a better life.”
Big Markelov shook his head. “I’m sorry, sir. If you are kind enough to let us go, let us stay in the mountains and give us some basic equipment to keep us alive.”
“Don’t worry, I’m going to hire you and I’m going to be able to help you with your legal status,” Li Du said. “You’ll be safe in the United States unless Ukrainian agents assassinate you.”
At this, Big Markelov hesitated. “You have the power?”
Li Du said, “You don’t have to question that. To tell you the truth, your ability to run away saved both of you, or I would have called the police because you were criminals!”
“Even though we are very capable, we are still criminals,” said Big Markelov.
Li Du smiled and said, “Yes, I know, but I have my own principles. As long as you did not rape, murder, or plunder, I can tolerate other minor crimes. Your poaching is exactly within my tolerance range.”
Firecracker, who was beside him, said, “Boss, you are a little self0contradictory. Didn’t you deal with those poachers because you couldn’t tolerate their crime?”
Li Du said frankly, “No, I mainly wanted to get back at them for what they did to Ah Bai. If they hadn’t hurt Ah Bai, I wouldn’t want to deal with this matter.”
“Those poor fellows,” said big Markelov, with a bitter smile.
Li Du said, “Think about it, buddy. Do you want to be my bodyguard? I can arrange your legal status, so you don’t have to worry about deportation again…”
“I’ll accept anything that will keep us safe from being sent back to Ukraine. I’ll do anything,” Markelov said.
He suddenly became so happy that Li Du was a little doubtful. “Why did you suddenly change your mind?”
Big Markelov said, “Who wants to stay in the mountains and be a savage? You know who we are and you promise to help us, so why shouldn’t we accept your offer?”
“Now, we both are in your hands. If you want to hand us over to the police, you could just make a phone call. However, you gave a promise. I believe in your sincerity.”
Li Du nodded in satisfaction and said, “Very good, you are a clever person. I didn’t choose the wrong men.”
With a wry smile, Big Markelov pointed to the mouth of the cave and said, “Now that you say so, I can’t play tricks. I’ll tell you where the relics are.”
Li Du was interested in the relics, but he did not think that the Big Markelov would tell this directly. He thought of asking him when they were close enough and had gotten along for some time.
Thus, puzzled by his frankness, Li Du asked, “Why are you telling me so soon? Aren’t you afraid I made a promise just now to get the information from you?”
Big Markelov shook his head. “No, because there’s no need for that. If I don’t say where it is, you’ll find it in a little while yourself.”
He pointed to the cave as he spoke. “The relics are here, and you will certainly run into them later. You will find them almost as soon as you go in. In that case, I might as well say it in advance and earn me some brownie points, don’t you think?”
Looking at the dark cave, Li Du was surprised and asked, “Where are the relics?”
Firecracker said in disdain, “This is the first time you’ve seen this cave, isn’t it? Aren’t you talking nonsense?”
“I’m not talking nonsense,” said Big Markelov in a confident tone. “It is the first time I’ve been in this cave, but I saw it when I got in. There are petroglyphs on the walls that you didn’t notice.”
Li Du removed his flashlight from Brother Wolf’s backpack. He turned on his flashlight and entered the cave.
As he walked along, past the corner where Big Markelov had been hiding, the beam of light slid across the walls and intricate signs appeared…