Chapter 64: The Mannerheim Line Welcomes You VI
Zhang Heng and the sniper were patient, both adamant at waiting for the other to first make his move. Of course, the sniper which lay on the ground waiting for his victim to pop his head was definitely a cut above Zhang Heng. He had read before that most of the guerillas in Finland were once hunter-gatherers. They knew these grounds they stepped on with their very souls, spending their entire childhood in a forest like this to hunt down small animals. Even though their targets had since changed from animals to humans, it was no doubt that the same methods still applied. This made them very, very good at what they did.
Unfortunately, this was no fair game. When the crow appeared in the dark again, everything would come to an end. Zhang Heng had his finger placed steadily on the trigger as he prepared himself mentally to vanquish the target in front of him.
Suddenly, the sniper rolled to his side! Zhang Heng was taken aback in a jump-scare, knowing there was no noise from his surroundings. Finish! His worst fears had come to pass! Alas, his shadow form had been found out by the sniper.
It was then that he saw the bullet landing on the snow-caked ground. With his lightning-fast reflexes, the sniper managed to dodge the first round of attack!
Immediately, he pointed his weapon in a different direction and pulled the trigger. Zhang Heng then realized another weakness of the shadow form. The sunlight shining from a particular side would mean Zhang Heng’s shadow was also fixed in a certain direction. Though he could attach his shadow on a tree to observe his surroundings, he could only look to the right, left, and front. There was, however, no way that he could look at his back. Even if he turned around, he would only see the tree bark.
The only thing he knew right now was that the deafening gunshot would have undoubtedly drawn the attention of Soviet soldiers nearby. However, he had no idea what their strength was and how far they were. The thing that troubled him the most was that his shadow form was about to expire. He had around ten seconds left before he would be ultimately revealed!
Right now, Zhang Heng wasn’t bothered to kill the sniper anymore. The only thing on his mind was making sure that he wouldn’t be caught between the impending exchange of fire. Without wasting any time, he swiftly left the trees and bolted away from the sniper as fast as possible! Then, he attached his shadow to another tree.
Zhang Heng wished that he could run further away from the snipe,r but his time was running out. He knew for a fact that if the Soviets won the fight, he would still be spared the chance to get away safely. However, if the sniper won the fight, this would be the last day he breathed on this earth.
Rather than be killed like helpless prey, Zhang Heng resolved that he would fight for his life. The place that he chose to hide was only a meter away from the sniper. At such close proximity, it would be hard for the sharp-shooter to kill effectively. Besides, there was a high chance that Zhang Heng would not miss his target when shooting at point-blank even though he was still new to guns.
In about four seconds, he would reappear again. Nevertheless, the battle on the other side heated up pretty fast. A hailstorm of bullets landed on the tree that Zhang Heng was attached to, and he clearly saw shards of wood flying all over! Clearly, the soldiers that had just arrived were more ferocious than the scout team, which seemed docile at this point.
Having seen what the sniper was capable of doing, Zhang Heng believed that he wouldn’t allow the soldiers shooting so wildly at him to live too long. Judging by the sound of continuous gunfire from the machine gun, the number of soldiers that came to kill the sniper was hell lot more than he expected. Once the soldiers on the frontline were killed by the sniper, they would simply send another batch of conscripts to attack him.
However, it seemed like the sniper had found a perfect nest to return fire. He waited for a short while before firing. The miraculous part about all of it was that he was about to kill an enemy each time he fired his gun.
In the meantime, Zhang Heng had to control his breathing, not making a single move to avoid being detected. After a round of violent shooting, the Soviet side seemed weakened—the constant staccato of guns firing reduced to intermittent bursts. In contrast, the sniper still had the upper hand. From the start to the end, he was like a killing machine, mauling every living being in front of him without any mercy.
Suddenly, the ‘killing machine’ fell silent. Zhang Heng knew that he was running out of bullets. This sniper had just been through two fierce battles and had probably been assigned a different target before he got here. Logically, he should be running out of ammunition by now.
This had complicated the whole situation. Of course, he had never hoped for such a terrifying sniper to roam the forests, looking for someone to kill. Initially, he thought that there were only two outcomes from this standoff. If the sniper was killed by the Soviets, he would run as fast as possible to get away from them. If the sniper managed to kill all those soldiers, then he would sneak behind the sniper and pull the trigger on him.
The only outcome that he did not think of was the depletion of ammunition. Since the sniper had run out of bullets, the soldiers would know this and attempt to approach the sniper.
The place that Zhang Heng was hiding at was really close to the sniper. When they shot at each other, they would definitely not notice his presence. However, once the fight was over, either the soldiers or the sniper would definitely see something escaping.
The sniper leaned on a large rock. He must have realized how improbable it would be to get out of this alive. He took out the dagger strapped to his waist and prepared to fight for his life. Suddenly, a stone rolled by his feet! In an instant, he spotted a Soviet soldier creeping up from behind the tree prompting the sniper to pick up his weapon unconsciously!
To his surprise, the soldier signaled him to stay quiet. Half a minute ago, Zhang Heng assumed that this could be a golden opportunity for him to save himself. After spending four days all alone in the forest, he quickly realized it would be impossible for him to live here for hundreds of days. Be it the Finnish or the Soviets, Zhang Heng had no quarrel with them, really.
Based on experience, these people would never give him the chance to explain himself. They would usually point their guns at him before he could say anything. And the worst part was, Zhang Heng did not know how to speak their language. Now that the sniper had run out of ammunition, Zhang Heng felt that this was the perfect moment to make a move!
He first pointed at the red stars on his coat, then at himself, then waved his hands. He was trying to tell the sniper that he had nothing to do with the Soviets. Unfortunately, the gestures did not promt a response from the sniper. Zhang Heng then took off the coat to show him his black turtleneck and jeans. In the end, the sniper’s attention was caught by the revolver that Zhang Heng had with him.
Zhang Heng knew that there was no time for this kind of back and forth with the shooter. He could hear that the boots of the Soviets approaching them. Clearly, there was more than one of them. He couldn’t possibly deal with them alone. In a critical moment such as this, a leap of faith was a necessity.
Once again, Zhang Heng clutched the wooden statue in his hand to prepare for any unforeseen circumstances. He then drew the revolver and tossed it to the sniper. This time, the shooter actually responded by picking the weapon! He pointed at Zhang Heng aggressively, threatening to let out a shot.
After a second, he lowered the pistol.
Zhang Heng let out a massive sigh of relief. It seemed that his leap of faith had finally borne fruit! He removed his phone from his pocket. For the past few days, he had tried his best to conserve battery, only using it sparingly to get his bearings. Otherwise, he would turn it off. Right now, it was the best time for him to use it to distract his enemies. He set a quick alarm and tossed it far away from him.
Like a grenade, three seconds later, the cellphone blared on the snowy ground, instantly drawing the soldiers’ attention! The sniper then popped half of his head out, aiming for the Soviets!
The first shot was a blank. Zhang Heng had to prioritize his own safety. He had to consider the possibility of the sniper killing him when he gave him his gun. That was why he swapped the first bullet with a blank. Not about to take any more chances, he would instantly change into shadow form if the sniper did pull the trigger on him.
Shocked by the blank shot, he immediately fired the second shot, bursting a soldier’s head open with a splatter of bright blood!