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Beijing, Restaurant of Ren Zilin

Scene 17

Meanwhile, the main office in Santa Lemusa had found out more about the ominous «Buro 106». Apparently it was a luxuriously paid international organisation that specialised in technological espionage. That meant again that the Chinese secret service was interested in Professor Koslow's research. Maille assumed that the Chinese had at first sought to make direct contact with the professor. Only when they had failed to reach the professor themselves had they begun to do business with Dr Hing's organisation. He doubted however that the Chinese had directly assigned Hing with the task of kidnapping Koslow. Quite probably Hing was pursuing his own agenda, even though Maille continued to be in the dark about this background. And it appeared as though the negotiations between the Chinese secret service and Hing's organisation had gone awry.

Ren Zilin brought him the salads and continued to stand by the table. She had the rather unpleasant habit of watching Maille from close quarters while he was eating. And the more acquainted she became with him, the closer she stood – next, thought Maille, she will feed me with the spoon or chopsticks. «Is it tasty?» she asked him, and it seemed to Maille that she was chewing the pork ears along with him. Then her gaze shifted to the card lying on the table.
«Strange to think that the observatory was once located far outside the city walls – while today…»
«Today?» mumbled Maille, trying desperately to prevent a strand of coriander from choking his throat.
«I mean that is now in the centre of town.»
«What is in the middle of town?»
«The observatory!»
«Which observatory then?»
«Oh, that one,» said Zilin, pointing with her index finger to the card lying before Maille on the table which now had a spot of sauce on it.
«I thought I saw this globe at the airport.»
«I doubt it. The original is here in town, in Gu Guanxiangtai, the old observatory by Jianguomen.»
«Are you sure?»
«Yes, look, there in the background one can see the red walls of the pavilion in which the exhibitions of our astronomy are held. I believe we were the first people on the moon.»