Chapter 16 - A Moving Song
“On the round-the-city highway. Male, about thirty years old, average stature. Grey shirt and jeans. We’ve got an eighty-five percent match on him.” Eyeglasses reported through his phone.
“I’ll be there in three minutes.” Big Beard twisted the handlebars and bolted out onto the road on his motorcycle.
“Eyeglasses, can you track the location of manager Lu again?” A white Land Rover zoomed on the highway on the other end of the city.
“He entered his workplace about fifteen minutes ago. Nothing else since then.” Eyeglasses switched the input feed to an office tower.
“We’ll be there in five then. Any clues about our ‘friends’?” Qing Linglong asked.
“No. Nothing.” Eyeglasses shook his head in frustration.
“What about the others?” Qing Linglong brushed her hair back and asked nervously.
“Li Huaibei’s been drinking the entire time. Wang Liping’s been sitting at the river bank for the entire time as well. Liu Meng’s has been trailing that taxi…” Eyeglasses was aware that Qing Linglong spoke to him in a private channel due to the blinking light on his transmitter.
“We need to make the preparations,” Qing Linglong said as she glanced at Qiaoqiao’s pale face.
“I know.” Eyeglasses took off his glasses, massaged his sore nose and looked at a small metallic box which rested at his feet.
Liu Meng was driving a rented car and followed the taxi in front of her closely. She still hesitated as even Stargaze’s hint was unable to dispel her worries.
To ask her to decide the life and deaths of others was much too overwhelming of a burden. Liu Meng kept asking herself what Li Yiming would do in such a situation. ‘To not let a single guilty person escape rather than to spare the innocent. But what’s the point, after what we’ve done in Lianyun city?’
The taxi soon picked up a young woman who wore a thick layer of cosmetics. Liu Meng could tell with her heightened senses that from the moment the young woman stepped onto the taxi, the driver’s eyes never left her exposed body parts.
‘Give me a reason to kill you…” Liu Meng squinted and continued to trail the taxi.
* * *
“To think of every day as the last we’ll be together… Every second beautiful enough to make you cry…” The young model did not have an amazing voice, but it was a definite improvement over Li Yiming’s, and her pleasant voice resounded in in the empty stage.
Li Yiming scratched his head in embarrassment as he exchanged a glance with Fang Shui’er. Singing was a deadly weakness of his, and even his dance teachers once wondered how someone who was so talented at dancing could be so atrocious at singing.
“It doesn’t matter what the others think… Pick up your courage and come with me…” The song continued. The girl seemed like she knew the song from in and out. Her nervousness gradually settled, and she began offering a much more appreciable second verse.
“Shao Xian has a beautiful voice.” Ximen Song stared at the girl on the stage longly. His moral defects had little to do with his agents as a talent manager.
“Hmmpf!” Mrs. Qiang snorted in dissatisfaction and pinched his waist. Li Yiming turned back, only to see jealousy and disgust written all over her face.
‘Is this… humanity? Not so long ago she was panicking, and yet now… Does she not understand for whom Shao Xian is singing?
“No need for plans… just you and I, and a sweet kiss. Enjoy the moment… and if you leave me, I’ll worry about you being hurt… As long as we believe in ourselves, miracles will happen…” Shao Xian seemed to have forgotten about her surroundings and became fully immersed in her song.
Li Yiming had guessed wrong that Shao Xian had in mind the salvation of everyone on the ship. She, just like many others, was beyond shocked after witnessing Li Yiming’s dance.
His performance only solidified her admiration for Li Yiming ever since the incident at the pool. At this point, it was no longer possible for Shao Xian to ever forget about Li Yiming, who had captivated her heart.
When she jumped onto the stage, she simply thought about helping Li Yiming when the latter was about to embarrass himself. However, as soon as she started singing, she quickly became absorbed by the glamorous stage, the flashing lights, and being the center of attention. Every verse she sang made her feel more and more engrossed. She remembered her aspirations and her dreams, as well as everything she sacrificed to reach them. Even her decision of boarding the Pandaria, she did not know if it was proof of her conviction or a first step into the depths of hell.
“I’ll love you until death… Until the end… and only then I can tell you clearly…” A drop of tear, containing all of Shao Xian’s frustration, fears, bitterness, and desires, rolled down her cheek.
“Everyone has their own tale to tell…” Li Yiming looked at the girl who was performing her heart out. He could feel the intensity of the emotions she sought to express.
“She had to sacrifice many things to achieve her dream. If she chose to do so, no one can blame her for it not can she blame anyone else for it.” Fang Shui’er remarked coldly. She was not looking at Shao Xian, but rather at the giant silver pillar on the stage.
After a few verses of singing, the redness had once again filled up more than half of the column.
“The key changed. It went from a C major to an E-flat major.” As Fang Shui’er expected, just as the red bar hit sixty percent, the music suddenly jumped up a few notes. As she had expected, the singing challenge would not prove to be so easy, just like the dancing machine.
“Until death… Crying until my tears turn into a smile… Even at the end of the world, my heart shall…”
‘She caught up?” Fang Shui’er was surprised. After such a drastic switch in the key of the song, Shao Xian adjusted without too many problems.
Li Yiming also frowned. Although he did not possess the skills to instantly recognize the switching of the accompanying music, he did notice that Shao Xian’s voice jumped up three notes.
“Impressive. I wouldn’t expect an average singer to pull it off without any preparations beforehand.” Fang Shui’er explained as Li Yiming looked at her.
“Until death… And not before then…” Shao Xian continued to sing, having apparently forgotten about everything else.
“It went up by two more half-notes. And twice in one sentence, too…” Fang Shui’er said and readied herself to intervene at any time.
“Holy shit! Who wrote this song? It’s genius!” Ximen Song yelled in a frenzy of admiration as he pushed Mrs. Qiang to the side. Three transitions, once after another, put together seamlessly. He knew that if he could manage to secure a contract with Shao Xian, he would never need to endure Mrs. Qiang’s idiocy ever again.
“What’s so impressive with her, isn’t she just…” Mrs. Qiang was angered by Ximen Song’s throwing her hand away, but she swallowed back the rest of her insult when she noticed the irritated stares that were pointed towards her. Instead, she went back to glaring at Shao Xian venomously.
“Until death… Crying until my tears turn into a smile…” Shao Xian continued on with a sad, moving tone. The singing was as beautiful as always, but it now sounded slightly different from the version Li Yiming was used to hearing.
“The rhythm changed. I didn’t know you could change a song like this…” Fang Shui’er, although surprised by the variation of this performance over the original song, became more worried than ever; she had a feeling that if it kept on going like this, Shao Xian was not going to be able to finish her performance.
The bar had just reached seventy percent.