It was May 12, 116, 2 a.m. in the middle of the night, in the countryside of X, a city of the empire.
Seven jet black vehicles were speeding along the country highway, two in front, two at the rear and two more flanking a sedan in the middle of the convoy. The vehicle was built to military specifications; its high powered engine emitted a smooth and steady hum. It was covered with high performance alloy. If one looked closely, one could see spiral patterns on the windshield that made it bulletproof. This vehicle was without a license plate, nor a military insignia. This convoy inevitably caused suspicion. How on earth did this convoy emerge from the highly secured city?
After an hour, the convoy pulled into an ordinary yellow building somewhere in the city's countryside. Four soldiers in camouflage uniforms walked forward, indicating to the convoy that they were subject to security checks. When the doors of the front vehicle opened, a young man in a black suit stepped out and gave the soldier a dark red card. After the soldier inspected the card for a long while, he said softly, "I need to seek approval from my superiors."
The man in black suit furrowed his brows and looked a little annoyed, as he muttered, "The signature of General Jin is on the card, whose approval do you still need?"
The soldier showed no signs of emotions, as he replied, "Major, the superiors issued their orders just now. Unless it is the head of state comes here in person, no one is to enter this military facility unless they have the permission of both General Jin and Mr. Zhang, the Chief of Staff."
A deep voice suddenly emerged from the vehicle behind him. One of the black cars moved gently forward. The driver rolled down the windows and behind it was an old and seemingly wearied face. The soldier was stunned. He stood to attention immediately while offering a salute. "General Sir!"
General Jin nodded mindlessly and asked, "Can we go in now?"
The soldier paused and said, "Sir, Chief Zhang has ordered that there would be no vehicular movement within the camp, only walking is allowed."
General Jin frowned, while patting his leg he asked, "Even I have to walk?"
Looking increasingly uncomfortable with the situation, the soldier gazed into the car to take a look at the General's injured leg. Even so, he emotionally said, "Sorry Sir, these are the orders from the top. No one is to ride in vehicles, only walking is allowed!"
Li Yang was furious, with his face flushed red.
General Jin gently waved the soldier away and turned towards Li Yang. "Li Yang, go in yourself. Bring my documents, and you have to bring Agent 005 out safely and securely. We cannot afford to suffer a loss like we did with Agent 003. These agents are all treasures of the empire," he instructed.
Li Yang froze, facing this exhausted and aging elder. He respectfully paid a salute. With a voice of determination, he said, "Rest assured General, I will definitely complete this task."
However, at this moment, a massive blast was heard. Bright and blazing flames were seen, with a dark gigantic mushroom cloud hovering over it. Li Yang's eyes widened in shock. With veins on his forehead visible, he sprinted straight into the military camp.
In this night, X's citizens were still quietly fast asleep, but right outside the city's limits, at the fourth military prison, there was a huge explosion that would shock the world. In the darkness, everyone's eyes around the country were fixated on that same spot, waiting for dawn to break in a few hours.
Four hours ago.
In the courtroom of the country's fourth military prison, seven high ranking military officials sat in their uniforms, with their rank insignias sparkling on their shoulder epaulets. They were all generals. On the judges' stand, there were five military judges, all of whom came from different military divisions, which were not necessarily under a similar military system. Beneath them were over 20 men holding Kurt MOD733 5.56 caliber machine guns, all of which were from the country's top special forces operatives. They looked prepared to take down anyone who stood in their way.
The atmosphere in the courtroom was solemn and serious, all eyes were concentrating on the defendant stand. At this moment, one of the judges in military uniform cleared his throat and said with a deep voice, "Name?"
"Chu Qiao," a low voice responded calmly and mildly. Although it was a little hoarse, no one would have difficulty to identify the gender of its owner.
As expected, a lady sat on the defendant's stand, dressed in light green military pants with a white shirt. She rolled up her sleeves revealing a pair of fair arms. She sat there calm and collected, without a tinge of nervousness.
The judge continued the dry judiciary process, "Gender?"
"October 8th, 90."
"Luo City of Yun Tu Province."
"Past military positions?"
"I enlisted in the empire's military school in 109. In 111, I was picked out and transferred to the 5th intelligence unit within the military command center to learn. In the same year, I went into Hawk squad in the 7th army to start my training. On August 27, 112, I was officially inducted into the 5th intelligence unit, working in section 2, regarding data analysis and distribution. In December 113, I transferred to the intelligence department in City Y, carrying out Plan HL together with the 9th Military Intelligence division. In June of the next year, I was out of the country working as a spy. I returned in November 114 and was working in the 11th division command center as their assistant commander, until now."
"During your tour of duty, what operations were you on?"
"The 11th division executed a total of 97 operations of all types, 29 of which were conducted by me. Among the missions, there are 11 one-starred missions, 9 two-starred, 5 three-starred, 4 four-starred and no five-starred missions."
"Which operations did you participate in during your time in service? Please elaborate missions that are classified as four-starred and above."
"In August 114, with the intelligence gathered from the 7th intelligence division, 9th intelligence division participated in 'Operation Sea Salt', planned by Colonel Li and me, successfully obtaining 3 tons of uranium ore. In November of the same year, 11th division and the 6th outpost division came together for 'Bait and Capture' operation, successfully capturing the rebel leader 'Mica Half Rat', destroying the nuclear reserves of country F. In April 115, I planned and instigated the super-powered beings from country E and successfully regained the passwords to the loophole within the Central Bank. In June of the same year, with the help of country X, planned by the 11th division, assisted by super-powered beings, Agent 003 of 9th division conducted operation Ximo, successfully obtaining the blueprint of HK-47."
The judge nudged his glasses higher. As he read through the documents, he muttered, "Can you please elaborate on your relationship with Agent 003 of the 9th military intelligence division?"
The lady raised her brows, her unchanging expression turned cold and took a thorough look at the seven military officials on the stand. She finally said, "When I was training in the 7th Army, I was living in the same bunk as Agent 003, Agent 007 and Major Huang Minrui, the operations planning officer in the 11th division. In 115, I was part of operation Ximo with Agent 003."
The judge asked with a deep voice, "How would you describe your relationship with Agent 003? A comrade, colleague, or an acquaintance?"
She remained calm and raised her brows once again. After a while, she answered, "We were friends."
The jury started murmuring among themselves. She looked at two of the judges with an incisive stare, glimpsing at the smile that they were unable to hide.
"Can we also infer that Agent 003 and you were close friends who shared everything with each other?" a female judge asked. She was dressed in a dark green military outfit and was in her forties.
Chu Qiao turned and faced the judge, her gaze settled upon the judge and studied her for a while. She eventually said, "Your Honor, Agent 003 and I have been through the country's professional training and are top quality soldiers. We are very clear as to what we are supposed to say, and what we are not. With that, when you said that we shared everything with each other, I feel that you are doubting our professionalism and that is utterly disrespectful to a hero that laid her life on the line for the sake of the country's interest."
The female judge paled and sealed her lips, with an awkward atmosphere surrounding her.
The main judge continued, "Chu Qiao, as of now, please elaborate and defend the Operation M1N1."
At this point, the hearing was entering the moment of importance. After hearing that sentence, two judges in their forties sat forward and focused intensely.
Chu Qiao lowered her head, straightening her neck after a long while. She spoke slowly and clearly, "I wish to meet my superior, or I will be tried in the highest military court. Before any of that happens, I will not elaborate further on Operation M1N1."
The judge frowned, and said with a tinge of anger, "Are you questioning the authority of a hearing conducted together by five different military districts that were set up by the leading law experts?"
"I am not." Chu Qiao repeated, with her head held high, "I just want to see my superior, without a handwritten note to declassify this operation by General Jin, I am afraid I cannot elaborate on the details and data of Operation M1N1."
With his brows tightly furrowed, the judge continued, "Then, please defend and elaborate on your orders to storm and raid the main operations building, causing the death of hostages from 23 different countries."
"They are not hostages." Chu Qiao raised her head and muttered, "All of my orders are in accordance with military law and I have not killed a single innocent person. As long as I see the document signed off on by my superiors as well as General Jin, I will explain the entire operation to the military court. Before that, I will not accept any questioning."
The hearing slipped into a stalemate. After taking Chu Qiao away, the judges and generals retired from the courtroom, with the CCTV capturing their every move. However, under the chair which one of the generals sat on, there was a little device with a blinking red light, it's screen glowed with numbers counting down.
There was not much time left.
Chu Qiao sat silently on her metal bed, with her head hung low. The place she was imprisoned in was surrounded by steel reinforced glass, allowing full view of the cell from the outside, but those on the inside were clueless about the outside world. There was no form of privacy. These hardened glass walls were so tough, that one could only blast a tiny hole after shooting it with a rifle all day. In order to escape, only a nuclear bomb would be sufficient.
Although she could not hear nor see the outside world, as the senior commander of one of the most classified intelligence units in the country, she knew the entire layout of the complex. With one hand on her pulse, she felt her heartbeat to determine the time and she knew mealtime was coming.
As expected, with a loud click, the hatch at the bottom of the reinforced glass opened and a hand holding a tray slid into the cell.
Chu Qiao sat motionless on her bed, with her head down. She seemed motionless, but a small pebble flew out and hit the watch strap of the soldier who brought her meal silently and precisely. After only a faint swoosh, the watch fell to the floor of the cell.
The soldier was stunned, he reached his hand in and tried to feel for the watch, but he could not find it. Chu Qiao heard the clank and turned towards it innocently, furrowing her brows in confusion. She knew that other than the soldier, there was another guard watching her every move carefully. In normal circumstances, when meals were served, inmates were not supposed to go near the cell door, but this time, she pointed towards herself. The soldier outside saw it clearly, and tried to reach for the watch again, but to no avail, and hit the floor twice, accepting her help.
Chu Qiao jumped off her metal bed and picked up the watch, placing it into his palm and smiled towards the reinforced glass. After which, she picked up her tray and returned to her bed.
It soon became quiet outside the cell.
All these seemed natural, without any anomaly.
After finishing her meal, Chu Qiao walked towards the simple bathroom in her cell and opened the door.
The government being moral, designed the bathroom with some privacy. Below the shoulder, the bathroom was made of opaque plastic. Chu Qiao sat on the toilet and lowered her head. She knew there were people watching her, and she could not spend more than 20 minutes in the bathroom.
When no one could see what she was doing in the bathroom, Chu Qiao opened her fair palm. Earlier when she had come into contact with the fingertips of the soldier, she had a sheet of plastic on her hand, which she used to secretly obtain his fingerprints. She knew, that the clock was ticking, she had to move.