Las Vegas’s traffic condition was the only thing Xia Lei obtained from gaining access into its surveillance system. To the average person, this was pointless. However, this bland and boring activity had valuable intel when placed in Xia Lei’s hands. The man began to capture each and every vehicle shown on the screen along with the faces of their drivers. As he did that, his mind began recreating a map of Las Vegas.
The map in his mind had shown the number of foreign cars and domestic cars, how many vehicles were on the road, the number of vehicles parked and their duration of stay. The list goes on. Every detail was incorporated into what seemed like a meticulous introductory documentary of Las Vegas!
The information load was massive beyond imagination. Despite that, Xia Lei’s brain soaked it up like a sponge. With a thought, he was able to access all this information. Xia Lei spent the entire afternoon on this, only finishing it when the skies darkened. Xia Lei was now the only person to know the entirety of Las Vegas like the back of his hand. Forget the mayor or the locals. They couldn’t even hold a candle to what he knew. His mind would readily pour out any information of his wish as long as he thought about it. The occupants of a certain area? The types of vehicles around a particular zone? What flowers are planted around an area? Everything was only a thought away!
With this mental map, Xia Lei’s visit to Las Vegas city would be equivalent to returning to a familiar hometown. There was no corner in the city that felt like a stranger!
Keeping away his laptop, Xia Lei laid down on the bed. He was about to doze off until some noise jolted him awake. Begrudgingly, he clambered away from the bed to check the situation outside through his window.
Under the night sky, a campfire was set up on the clearing behind the church. The town’s residents were gathered around the orange flames as they sang and danced. Of course, the accordion was a staple in a situation like this. He could even see bottles of tequila and roasted mutton on the side.
There were a few young faces in the crowd. A few were Mexican youths that bore classic Hispanic features. These were new faces to Xia Lei.
“Why are there strangers in the mix?” Xia Lei was immediately alarmed. His left eye and right eye twitched to bring him into his X-ray vision and data scanning mode.
Clothes disappearing out of sight, he could clearly see the tattoos and needle syringes used for drug-use on the unfamiliar Mexican youths’ bodies. It was obvious that they meant trouble. They were either mafia members or drug vendors or assassins of some cartel in the area.
Xia Lei could also see a few Chinese Zodiac Battle Team members and armed members of the Relief Society scattered around the clearing. They were all disguised well. Lastly, he found Giovanna, Stella, Theresa and Rosa together with Hernandez. Only Giovanna’s identity was revealed. While she had donned on a disguise and altered her facial features, she still came as their bishop. Hernandez seemed to be in the middle of a conversation with her. Evidently, the young man had no idea who Theresa, Stella and Rosa were. He hadn’t bothered to spare them another glance because their disguises were frankly, deliberately ugly.
Just as Xia Lei was about to return his attention to the handful of strangers, one of them waved at Hernandez, a signal for him to come over for a talk.
Hernandez quickly ended his exchange with Giovanna and walked over. Now, Giovanna had left her spot to head to Xia Lei’s room. Perhaps she was going to report to him about the current situation.
Hernandez greeted the youngsters from a distance courteously.
The men answered his greetings. It seemed that they were at least acquaintances.
Xia Lei furrowed his brows. “How would Hernandez know this crowd? They look like they’re from the area but Hernandez is supposedly on the run. Why is he so friendly with them?”
Hernandez went closer and gave them each a hug. Their lips began to move.
Xia Lei no longer needed to rely on his lip-reading ability to understand their conversation. His hearing had evolved sufficiently to tap into their exchange at his spot.
“Scimitar, it’s such a surprise to see you here,” One of them said.
Scimitar seemed to be Hernandez’s code name. Just based on that alone, these men held quite a bit of dirt on Hernandez.
Things were getting progressively weird.
Hernandez replied, “Lobo Negro, my friend. What brings you here?”
“I heard that there’s this new wonderful church erected in the town. We too are followers of God. We decided to check it out.” The youth nicknamed Lobo Negro answered.
His code name had seemed to stem from the menacing black wolf tattoo spread across his back. Aside from that, the way he held himself bore indication that he was the leader of the group.
“Lobo Negro, enough jokes. We’re aware that you’re no worshipper of God. There’s no point beating around the bush. Say, what are you here for?” Hernandez stared at them.
One of them shifted into a more aggressive stance. “Oi! The fuck you’re saying? What’s with your tone?!”
Something cold flashed through Hernandez’s pupils, but his face betrayed no expression. He remained as calm as ever.
Lobo Negro raised a palm and stopped his subordinate from taunting Hernandez.
The man scoffed, displeased at being told to stop. Even so, he quitted mocking Hernandez.
At this moment, Giovanna opened Xia Lei’s door.
“Boss, we’ve got company.” Noticing that Xia Lei was at the window, she reported straightforwardly, “Those are members of the Tijuana gang, one of the bigger mafia gangs in Mexico. Their leader is Lobo Negro. He’s somewhat influential in the organization’s construct.”
The Tijuana gang, one of Mexico’s six largest mafia gangs to exist. They were notorious for their capabilities and were massive headaches to the country’s military and police force. The mafia functioned like a miniature kingdom, equipped with its own power construct and rules on survival.
“Boss?” Noticing his lack of response, Giovanna prompted him.
Xia Lei finally gave her some attention. “I heard you. I’m listening to their conversation.”
Giovanna took a spot beside him and studied Hernandez’s interaction with the Tijuana gang members through the window. All she could see were blurry faces illuminated by the campfire. The female knight could not catch a single word. Just as she was about to question it, Xia Lei quickly hushed her up. She stayed silent. Giovanna then brought Xia Lei’s coat over from the bed and draped it over his shoulders.
Beside the campfire, the tense conversation was still ongoing.
“Hernandez, we’re clear of your predicament.” Lobo Negro narrowed his eyes, “Your leader is offering one hundred thousand USD for your bounty. What do you think we should do?”
Hernandez replied, “Lobo Negro, I’m no longer the same person as I was before. Please spare some mercy.”
Lobo Negro snorted. “But that’s one hundred thousand USD we’re talking about. You think we’d spare you just like that?”
“Then what do you want?” Hernandez lowered his palm, ready to draw his gun out at any given moment.
Lobo Negro’s subordinates mirrored him.
Behind Hernandez, a dozen of Relief Society members did the same. They began to move over on alert.
The tension was stifling.
A gunfight over a disagreement was far too common in this land.
“Oh, ho ho.” Lobo Negro raised his arms, signalling his underlings to keep calm. He chuckled. “Looks like you’ve built your own power here. You know I’m part of the Tijuana gang, right? If you dare shoot at me, I will have this entire town bulldozed to the ground.”
Hernandez raised his arms too, stopping his people from doing anything outrageous.
The Tijuana gang had around a few thousand members and this town was too close to their base for comfort. To bulldoze the town flat was merely a simple task to them that wouldn’t take more than an hour to achieve.
“Lobo Negro, I am not afraid of death. However, I am now just a worshipper. I don’t see how that threatens your interests.” Hernandez continued, “How would you like to settle this?”
“Fifty thousand USD,” said Lobo Negro.
“I don’t have that much money,” replied Hernandez.
“Then how are you able to build such a majestic church? That’s bullshit.” Lobo Negro was not planning to let this die. He had the Tijuana gang as his support, Hernandez and the Relief Society members felt like ants to him.
In the room, Xia Lei instructed, “Send a brother over to tell Hernandez to pay them fifty thousand USD.”
Giovanna nodded lightly and went out. She could not comprehend how Xia Lei could understand that those strangers were asking for money from Hernandez. Nevermind that, Xia Lei was certainly morphing closer and closer to her idea of ‘God’.
Just as Giovanna stepped out of the door, Lobo Negro added on, “Aside from the fifty thousand, I want you to do me a favour. You all may remain on this land after you’re done.”
Hernandez swallowed his building anger. “What are you asking of me?”
Lobo Negro presented two pictures from his pocket and tossed it to Hernandez’s shoes.
Xia Lei’s eyes followed the photos. One glance was enough to freeze him.
It was none other than the important figures of the FA Organization. Yan Fo and Augustan!
Xia Lei was utterly confused, he thought to himself, “Why are their pictures in the hands of the Tijuana gang? What are they trying to make Hernandez do?”
“Who are they?” These faces were unfamiliar to Hernandez.
Lobo Negro explained, “They’re enemies of our gang. We’ve managed to track them down. They’re currently at Las Vegas’ Caesar Hotel. I want you and your people to take them out in exchange for your survival here.”
“Lobo Negro, don’t you dare push this too far!” Hernandez bristled.
At this moment, a Mexican teen came over to Hernandez’s side and whispered into his ear.
After a beat, Hernandez relented, “We can give you fifty thousand USD. Take the money and leave. That is all we will do.”
“Fine, fifty thousand isn’t a small amount. We will let you live for a year. We will be back,” sneered Lobo Negro.
Before Hernandez could act up, he caught Giovanna’s wink from aside. He quickly let it slide.
A Relief Society female member passed a black plastic bag into Lobo Negro’s waiting hands.
The man checked its contents and broke out into a smile. “Boys, let’s go!”
And with that, the Tijuana gang members left.
Back in the room, Xia Lei brought up his satellite phone and laid some instructions, “Kyoko, commence attack after they’re away from the town. Remember, leave two of them alive. Leave the leader for the last.”
Tsukino Kyoko uttered her acknowledgement. “Understood.”
Xia Lei ended the call, his lips curling into a malicious smirk.
This was a man who had single-handedly challenged the Seventh Fleet. The Mexican mafia was a mere child’s play to him!