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630 Friend or Foe

 Gu Nianzhi shrugged, shielding her eyes from the sun, and looked at the sky in the distance. It was already dusk, and the golden setting sun drenched the small creek in an orangey yellow. Through the thick foliage, she could see the grand arrival of birds returning to the forest from the sky. It was nearly nighttime again. Another day had passed, and Gu Nianzhi was slightly let down. Why were the police so inefficient here? She had called them last night, and it was already sunset. Nearly 20 hours had elapsed... When were they going to save her?! Also, hadn't Smith and her colleagues received her messages by now? Even if they had missed her voicemails, she hadn't returned to the hotel for a whole day and night now. Could they not be worrying about her? They didn't even call. Was she that unlikeable?

Gu Nianzhi was mulling it over anxiously as she gathered all the leaves and twigs on the grass to divide into small piles of fuel. She planned to light a pile of twigs and leaves when it got dark so when the police arrived, they would be sure to see the fire right away. It was also so cold at night, how could she survive without a fire? She ran a high fever last night... Sighing, Gu Nianzhi sat quietly by the pile of twigs and leaves to await the coming night.

Soon after, the entire valley dimmed again as the setting sun drifted lower and lower on the horizon before finally disappearing. Gu Nianzhi was alone in the valley, and the autumn bugs chirped around her. There was the occasional chattering of a bird nesting for the night, and not far away, fish splashed in the small creek. Soon, it was all quiet again.

Completely alone, Gu Niazni felt like she was the only one left in the world. She waited until the last shred of light disappeared from between the foliage but had yet to see a trace of the police. She was certain that the police wouldn't be coming today as she slowly lit the pile of leaves with the lighter. It burned brightly and smoke wafted up. Taking a deep breath, Gu Nianzhi looked at the white smoke and thought optimistically that even if the police couldn't come in time, the forest rangers might see someone lighting a fire with the smoke it created. They might come to see what was happening. If the forest rangers were alerted and came here in time, then Gu Nianzhi would be rescued and wouldn't have to wait for the police to come. These European public servants sure had low productivity levels... They was no comparison to the speed of police dispatch in the Hua Xia Empire.

Sitting against the large rock, and with the bright, warm fire before her to dispel the night's chilly air, Gu Nianzhi gradually felt sleepy after staring at the flickering flames for some time. Her head started to bob slightly, like a little chick pecking for rice. She didn't want to sleep alone in the wilderness, but she had had a fever yesterday, and her body had a mind of its own. However, today she had recovered and didn't dare to sleep. Even so, she couldn't resist her body's circadian rhythm. The later into the night it was, the sleepier she got. She was nearly at her limit. Although she forced her eyes open several times, she somehow closed her eyes in slumber under the powerful drowsiness.

She didn't know how long she slept, perhaps a few minutes, or an hour or two. Her head felt foggy, but amid the confusion, a sudden flurry of flying birds sounded by her ear. Gu Nianzhi woke up, startled. It couldn't be a good thing that nesting birds were suddenly flying around in the middle of the night. Gu Nianzhi instantly recalled a military drill she had with Huo Shaoheng. It was late at night, and she was sleeping deeply in her tent when Huo Shaoheng gently woke her up and said the Blue Army was planning an ambush, so they had to move sites right then. Gu Nianzhi followed him groggily and asked, "How do you know there's an ambush?" She didn't see anything. The camp was quiet, and there was no sign of a large-scale enemy attack...

Huo Shaoheng said, "Many birds by the camp are suddenly flying in the middle of the night. There can only be people coming." As expected, their camp was overtaken by the Blue Army soon after evacuating.

There was no question people were coming, but how could she be sure if they were friend or foe? Although she had called the police, they weren't the only ones who knew her location. Even the people plotting with Seth to hurt her knew! Gu Nianzhi considered it very carefully, and finally came to the conclusion that she wasn't certain. Perhaps the police would come, or it could be the people trying to kill her because they still had to confirm if she had died. They wanted her dead or alive, so they might come down there to search again. Of course, it could also be the forest rangers coming, since she had started a fire in the woods...

What would the situation be? Gu Nianzhi's mind spun quickly, and she decided that she should hide. She had gathered several piles of firewood during the day and had just lit the smallest one, so the fire wasn't too big yet. She extinguished it with two stomps of her feet. The valley that had been previously illuminated by the fire suddenly dimmed, leaving only the soft moonlight and starlight floating through the forest. Gu Nianzhi blinked and quickly accustomed herself to the darkness. Using the cane to stand up, she went around the large rock to hide behind it.

The birds fluttered their wings in flight, and there was also another sound among them. Gu Nianzhi was totally focused and finally understood what it was. She would've bolted and found a faraway place to hide at that point if her left leg hadn't been hurt. There was no way she could hide in the shadows of the large rock behind the firewood. Hugging her bucket bag tightly, her heart hammered when she suddenly thought about the phone inside it. What if it rang? She quickly reached in the bucket bag to put her phone into vibration mode, then put it in her sweatpants' pocket close to her body. That way, she wouldn't miss a call if her rescuers tried reaching her.

Laying behind the large rock motionlessly for a few minutes, she finally heard a vague buzzing sound from above. Slowly looking up, she glanced at the sky, and her eyes suddenly widened.

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In the dark night, four black-clothed figures slowly descended from the sky. Upon closer inspection, they appeared to be uniformed policemen. They were tied with harnesses that resembled wires in cinematic special effects scenes. These people gripped the wires with one hand and a gun with the other! The muzzles pointed up at the sky, and the shape of the guns looked very familiar. Gu Nianzhi's eyes narrowed quickly. Those were semi-automatic submachine guns! Were these people here to rescue her or kill her?! Police typically were fully armed to this extent only when facing off with terrorists! As an unarmed little girl, why did they need such firepower?! Gu Nianzhi's heart thumped hard.