Serial Saturday #21: On A Beach In Kinmen
Shan was tense. She was nestled on top of the shiny new International Bank Building on the edge of the channel between Xiamen and Gulangyu. She watched as the ferry moved out into the main channel, heading north to its destination and Tongyi Wharf.
"Target's moving," Mei-Shan's voice came over the radio. "Heading for the bow."
"Acknowledged." Shan caught sight of him then, moving toward the bow, looking pensive as if he wanted the breeze to relieve his mind of its troubles. His minders made to follow him, but he waved them away and found a spot on the railing where he leaned out over the water.
"Do you have a shot?"
"Then take it."
Shan settled herself and then pulled the trigger. She watched as the bullet slammed into him and sent him over the edge of the rail. She saw him claw for a moment at the railing and then he fell into the water with a splash.
Pei-Shan and Wei-Ting were driving out toward Nanshan Beach in silence, Wei-Ting holding the box of ashes in his lap.
A black car was waiting for them. Pei-Shan parked behind it and stepped out. Wei-Ting followed her carrying the box. As they walked up to the black car, the doors began to open and first Mei-Shan and then Shan stepped out. Neither looked happy as a third person emerged from the car and both Pei-Shan and Wei-Ting exchanged a surprised glance before Mei-Shan raised a hand.
"Yes, he is who you think he is," she said. "And we were never here, understand?"
Pei-Shan and Wei-Ting exchanged another glance before nodding their agreement. The news had broken around lunchtime that the local party boss had been assassinated while taking a ferry to Xiamen. Authorities had been unable to locate a body thus far and now Pei-Shan and Wei-Ting knew why.
He stepped forward to Wei-Ting. "May I?"
Wei-Ting extended the box of Jiezhi's ashes to him and he took it and began making his way down to the beach, the others following behind him. They walked down onto the beach and he stopped, for there, walking down the beach was someone else. Mei-Shan and Shan both stepped in front of him and began to reach for their weapons when Wei-Ting said-
"Wait, it's... him. The boyfriend."
Both women relaxed and stepped aside and they all waited as Ricky closed the distance between them. He stopped a few steps away from Jiezhi's father, his eyes never leaving the box he was carrying.
"I remember you," Her father said. "She dated once or twice after you, but you were the only one who made her truly happy, I think. So thank you."
He walked down to where the water met the sand. The five of them watched in silence as Jiezhi's father opened the box and began to scatter her ashes into the water. Once finished, he stood there for a moment, gazing across the water and the lights of Xiamen in the distance. Then he turned away from them, the box still in his hand, and walked back up to Mei-Shan and Shan.
"My business here is finished." And then he began to walk back to the car, Mei-Shan, and Shan following behind him.
"What did you find out in Macau?" Pei-Shan asked Ricky.
"I found her source code," Rick said. "It's a worm. It's just out there right now, rotting their foundation from within." He shook his head in admiration. "I always knew she was going to do something amazing."
He looked over at Pei-Shan's confused expression and smiled. "Don't you see? They want Taiwan by 2049. They've made no secret of it. Her worm might take them down from the inside and they will never know why."
"There are people coming," Wei-Ting interjected, pointing down the beach.
"Ricky," called the first person. "You're a real pain in the ass, you know that." The newcomers were a mismatched pair- the one who had spoken was a well-built man who looked to be in his mid-40s and the other was a woman of about the same age with her hair pulled back into a tight, blond ponytail. She looked both exhilarated and relieved.
"Greg!" Ricky said, catching the man in a bear hug. "I can't believe Sean sent you after me. And--" his expression turned to astonishment. "Penny? Is that you?"
"Sure is," the woman replied. "Get over here, you lummox," she said and pulled Ricky down into a hug. "We've been running all over trying to track you down."
"Well," Ricky said. "We best get me home then. Did you find one?"
"Yes," Penny said. She held up the paper lantern. "Complete with a candle."
"You got a lighter?"
Greg dug into his pocket and handed him a silver lighter. Ricky lit the candle as Penny stepped back to stand with Greg. He carried it down to the water before saying. "I love you, Jiezhi."
Then, he let the lantern go and they watched as the wind caught the lantern in its grasp and carried it high into the sky, soaring far above them all standing on a beach in Kinmen.