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563 Stockholm Syndrome

 "They're here to save us!" Tan Guiren was overwhelmed with happiness as she held the hands of the two children. "That's great! We're saved!"

She wanted to run out, but Huo Shaoheng moved back and commanded through his Bluetooth earpiece, "Retreat! Retreat! Now!"

"What about you, boss?!" Zhao Liangze asked, his voice trembling.

"Don't worry about me. All of you, retreat! That is an order! Leave this area and retreat as planned! That. Is. An. Order." Huo Shaoheng still sounded calm and composed.

Zhao Liangze felt his heart wrench. He regretted not tying Tan Guiren up when he had the chance to!

She had to run!

Now Mr. Huo was in deep sh*t. He was trapped in the building by the police and the Army. They had mistaken Mr. Huo for the kidnapper! Even if Tan Guiren were to speak up for him, explaining that he wasn't the kidnapper but was sent there to save her, she wouldn't be able to explain the countless bodies of the kidnappers in the building. Of course, most importantly, Huo Shaoheng could never be seen by the public!

Listening to his tone, Zhao Liangze knew that Huo Shaoheng would be looking for an opportunity to escape. As long as both Special Forces teams were able to retreat successfully, it would be easier for Huo Shaoheng to escape on his own.

"Let's go. Retreat," Zhao Liangze ordered softly and disappeared into the darkness with his men. The Army had already surrounded the six-story building that was currently in flames. The fire engine had already arrived as well. A huge hose was set up, and the fire was put out in no time.

Huo Shaoheng watched the Army officers from the building. He looked at their Jeep, police cars, and the helicopter up above, and made up his mind in seconds. "Miss Tan, take the two children and get out there now. Look for the police. They've been searching for you." Huo Shaoheng pushed her forward. "You're free now. After getting out, return to the Hua Xia Empire immediately. Don't delay for anything. Our people will escort you back to safety."

"What about you?" Tan Guiren turned around and looked at Huo Shaoheng blankly. "You come out with us. I'll explain to them that you're not the kidnapper but are here to save us!" Tan Guiren wasn't sure of Huo Shaoheng's identity, but she knew that as long as her dad had sent him, he wouldn't be a bad guy!

"No. I have some other things going on." Huo Shaoheng pushed her forward softly again. He was already sure that the entire case was a plot, a plot to lure him to America to get trapped in a situation like this. Someone wanted his life, and he had fallen into the trap.

Tan Guiren stumbled out of the house upon being pushed by Huo Shaoheng. A child in each hand, she stood in the middle of the spotlight, looking extremely helpless. At that moment, she was only glad that the kidnapper had been kind enough to allow her to go to the bathroom to freshen herself up during the day. She had washed her hair and had a change of clothes. The kidnapper had even thought of giving her a new sanitary pad. Otherwise, she would have looked how she looked yesterday, dirty with matted hair, smelly with stained pants. If so many people saw her in that state, she would've felt so humiliated.

The military police officer saw that someone had come out of the building, and he lifted his gun to take aim. Then, realizing that it was a lady with messy hair with two children who looked malnourished, he understood; they were the hostages! Tan Guiren looked exactly like she did in the pictures of her they had received.

Officer A of the Manhattan west station ran over and waved to them with exaggerated movements. "Come here! Come here, quickly! You're safe now!"

Tan Guiren felt a sudden gush of warmth in her eyes. She held the two children and ran towards the people. Two female police officers ran over and supported her, one on each side, and searched her thoroughly. Upon ensuring that she did not have any weapons or time bombs on her, they wrapped her up in a thick blanket. The two children were taken to a police car as well to have their fingerprints collected and identities verified.

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Tan Guiren only snapped back to reality after a good while and understood that she had been saved. This experience of slightly more than a month felt just like a long nightmare. Thankfully, she had woken up from it...

She turned around abruptly and looked towards the building. She wanted to call out to the person who had just saved her, but the female police officer pulled her backwards. They hid behind a Jeep. Tan Guiren saw another police officer taking aim at the building, and the next thing she knew, they were all firing non-stop at it!

Countless bullets rained down on the main entrance of the building, causing dust to fly everywhere, dancing among the spotlights shining on the building. The building shook. The helicopter above them had machine guns fixed to them as well. The officers in the helicopter were shooting at the building, too, and they finally even began firing miniature grenades!

The building, which had already been bombed once previously, shook again, and all of a sudden, it collapsed with a bang. A massive cloud of dust flew up and greatly reduced visibility in the area.

Tan Guiren turned pale. She turned to the female police officer and asked, "What on earth are you guys doing? What if there were more hostages in the building?!"

"Are there anymore hostages inside? Didn't you all run out?" The female police officer glanced at her and took one step to the side. Two white men in black uniforms stepped forward from the back and began comparing her looks to the picture they were holding. "Miss Tan Guiren?" they asked politely.

"Yes. I am her, and you are?" The sounds of bombing were too loud. Tan Guiren was almost shouting to get her words across.

The two men exchanged glances and replied loudly, "We are the FBI. We are in charge of your case. Please follow us."

"I am the victim! You guys didn't go and capture the kidnappers when I was kidnapped, but you want to interrogate me now that I'm out?! Can you guys be more reasonable?!" Tan Guiren was seeing red. She was about to continue reasoning with the two men when she heard a commotion nearby. The guns stopped shooting for a while, then started again, much faster than before.

She turned around with the two FBI officers. A tall figure had emerged from the rubble of the building. He had a semi automatic machine gun, and his head was covered with headgear that covered his eyes as well. Tan Guiren was taken aback. Isn't that the man who just saved me? He hasn't escaped?! Where are his big goggles?

Tan Guiren was about to talk, but the military police superseded her. "Capture him! He's the kidnapper!" Then, they began to close in on him from all sides.

Tan Guiren panicked. She pushed the policemen in front of her and screamed, "Stop! Stop! Don't shoot! He's not a kidnapper!" However, no one listened. The American military police behaved as though they had met an army of opponents and hid behind the Jeep and police cars, shooting at the rubble mercilessly. The helicopter above roared, and its spotlight shined even brighter than before.

A female police officer said excitedly, "That's amazing! The broadcasting stations are going to earn big bucks this time around!"

"Of course! Have you seen such a scale for worldwide broadcast? Look at that helicopter. That's NBC's live broadcast helicopter!"

Tan Guiren was so angry that she couldn't speak. These people were incorrigible! They wanted to kill a scapegoat just because they couldn't manage to capture the real kidnapper!

No one heard her, even if she shouted. The shootings and bombings were getting more intense, and bigger fires were burning. The man who emerged from the rubble ran as the spotlight chased after him, like a warrior in the Colosseum in ancient Rome with all the beasts chasing after him, and these ruthless military police who were shooting were none other than the heartless audience!

Tan Guiren began crying again. It's all because of me, all because of me... If she hadn't insisted on saving the children, the man wouldn't have had to go through this! The moment she thought that he might lose his life because of her stupidity, Tan Guiren couldn't take it. Clenching her teeth and looking at the helicopter flying above them, then looking at the police officers and military soldiers who were full of disgusting anticipation hiding behind the Jeep and police cars, she took a deep breath and ran out, wrapped in that blanket!

The people were all engrossed with chasing that "kidnapper." No one noticed that Tan Guiren, whom they'd just "rescued," had run out among those bullets and grenades! Bullets flew past her. Tan Guiren closed her eyes and continued running. She used all her strength to run towards the tall man. It was only at this point that the military police, who were still shooting, realized that the "hostage" had actually run out to save the "kidnapper!"

"Stop! Stop!" The senior FBI officer in command ran over to stop them. "Don't shoot!"

"Boss, why are we stopping?" His subordinate was displeased. "We're about to capture him!"

This man lowered his voice and reprimanded the subordinate. "Shut up! Didn't you watch the broadcast?! The calls are flooding the broadcasting station! The audience all saw that woman run out. You want to kill her?! Don't you know that we managed to get all this ammo and the SEALs because we used rescuing her as an excuse?!"

The live broadcast was a double-edged sword for them. On one hand, they could use the broadcast to prove that their suspicions had been right all along, and there was no longer any doubt. This could garner support and attention for them. However, on the other hand, because it was a live broadcast, the public would see any mistakes on their end. They would be accused of misusing the military's strength if that happened.

The shooting and bombing in the Bronx had halted. After discussion with the military, the FBI commander decided not to engage in bombing anymore. Instead, they would be sending snipers to ambush the area and take the opponent down. The spotlight was turned off, and live broadcast was stopped.

The female broadcaster began a discussion with the audience as to why the hostage would undertake the risk of flying bullets and grenades to save the kidnapper. Everyone came to the same conclusion. This woman must have gotten "Stockholm syndrome," which meant a hostage complex or hostage syndrome. The victim would develop feelings towards the criminal, thinking that it was love, and would even turn around and help the criminal out.

...

Huo Shaoheng carried his gun and finally managed to roll across a short wall before the last bullet from the military police was fired. He hid behind the wall. Sitting on the ground, he could finally catch his breath. His arm felt hot. He hadn't been shot, but it was a bullet's abrasion.

A woman wrapped up in a thick towel squatted beside him. It was none other than Tan Guiren. She asked him carefully, "Are you okay?"