Volume 1: Case 502 – The Intoxicated Frozen Corpse
“You wouldn’t have to die, if you cops hadn’t arrived so soon.”
The wooden frame between the inner and outer window-ledge was stained with grease, it was all over due to the smoke and fire remnants which had accumulated over the years. Several indistinctive, oblique outlines, remained on the surface of the thick, black filth.
Yan Xie was leaning outside. After a long, cautious inspection, he finally noticed that there was traces of a fire-escape ladder; resting against the side of the tubular building.
Yan Xie motioned to Jiang Ting, telling him to wait for a moment while he made a phone call. “Hey, Old Qin…”
“Where are you right now?” It was obvious that Qin Chuan was driving at that moment, as on the other end of the line there was incredibly loud background-noise. “We’ve finished conducting a full sweep of Fan Zhengyuan’s home; I’ll explain more in detail back at the bureau. By the way, the other hidden base-of-operations is at Yihong Bathhouse, located in the Northern District. I heard from the informant that you didn’t show up?”
“I asked Ma Xiang to head there with a few of our comrades. What’s up?”
“Hah,” Qin Chuan laughed. “Okay, now you’re the one who refused to go meet up with those one-hundred-and-eighty ‘Yui Hatanos’, so you can’t blame your old bro’ for missing such an opportunity.”
“How could that kind of place..” As Yan Xie glimpsed Jiang Ting out of the corner of his eye, he suddenly realised that he needed to protect his personal image. So he rapidly changed the subject, “Huh? Who is this Yui Hatano? Why the hell is your brain so fucking filthy?”
Qin Chuan: “…???”
“Cut the bullshit, I’m at Hu Weisheng’s rented place. We managed to find a fresh clue, so come by if you’re close.” Quick to cut Qin Chuan off before he could speak, Yan Xie said in a hurry, “If there’s nothing else— i’ll go first. Get here quick, see ya!”
Jiang Ting took, and saved a picture of the shoe-print before supporting his hand on the wall; intending to climb the fire-escape ladder found just outside the window. However, his plan was foiled when halfway through his sloppy movements, Yan Xie hauled him down by the shoulders. He was then chided, “What were you thinking? Get behind me now.”
Shoving Jiang Ting behind him, Yan Xie tightened his gloves before latching onto the window-frame. With a grunt, and in one swift movement, he leapt. His entire body shot through the window and onto the fire-escape, without any form of protection. He poked his head up to cast a glance at the top of the building. “Fuck!”
“There’s something there?”
“That bloody Hu is a genius.” Yelled Yan Xie, as he climbed onto the roof of the building; reaching out his hand to pull Jiang Ting up afterwards.
The thermal felt-fabric on the rooftop was already tattered beyond recognition. Copious amounts of trash, such as abandoned building-materials and damaged pipes strewn about, filled up the expansive space. The rusty and mottled metal doors, situated on either ends of the rooftop, had long since been sealed-off. Located to one side, were three illegal structures that were made from tiles, bricks and galvanised iron-sheets. The buzz of a working generator could be heard coming from them.
“My my, it’s a pity that Hu Weisheng didn’t study to be mason. How creative of him to build a small duplex of his own, on the roof.” Approaching the shack to take a good look inside, Yan Xie asked, “How did you think to push on the window? And don’t you dare say that it was intuition.”
The wind was rather strong on the rooftop that evening. With one hand gripping onto Yan Xie’s coat tightly, he covered his nose, replying with a muffled tone, “Sixth sense.”
“…” Yan Xie couldn’t resist the urge to comment. “Are you a woman?”
As he slid his eyes over to return the gaze, Jiang Ting was completely silent. His fair eyelids were freezing to the point that they had flushed red in color.
After sneaking in a few more glances, Yan Xie said, “Enough of that, poster-girl of the police force. Why don’t you stay-putwait outside while I head in and take a look around.”
Amongst the three shacks that were built next to each other, Yan Xie ended up picking the one furthest to the left. Giving the plywood-door a push, it flew open. The dust that explosively flew out, gagged Yan Xie till he broke out into a fit of coughs. It was only when the dust had more-or-less settled, was he able to bend down to go in; lighting his way with the aid of the phone’s flashlight. The four to five square metres of space was filled to the brim with various bits and bobs. There wasn’t even enough room for someone to turn around.
On the cabinet covered in spiderwebs, stacked a variety of plastic-goods and scrap metals; equipment which was hard to come by. Some of them were even wrapped in plastic sheets, while others were just blanketed in what seemed to be, a discolored white cloth.
Yan Xie already knew what to expect the moment he laid eyes on the shape of the equipment. He hastily took more than a dozen shots before removing the cloth, which was covered in layers of dust, without care for the filthy condition it was in.
Dripping flasks, reactors, heaters, and centrifuges…
Yan Xie took half a step back.
—as amidst the forest of spiderwebs, secretly contained a bunch of drug-manufacturing instruments!
Outside of the shack, dusk emerged from all directions as the night’s breeze whirled past. Jiang Ting surveyed the surroundings of the rooftop before his gaze came to rest on the iron-sheeted shack which was located not too far from him. The sound of a generator came from there. Hesitating briefly, he repeated again, “Vice-captain Yan?”
He wasn’t sure what Yan Xie was doing amidst the rustling sounds that were coming from the shack inside.
Narrowing his eyes, pondering for a little while longer, Jiang Ting finally decided to head there first.
The window of the iron-sheeted shack was sealed using plastic sheets. An iron lock lay suspending, hanging from the latch of the door, which enabled him to enter just by pulling the horizontal bar. The room was different from the other shacks, as it was emptier in comparison to the dark and narrow one. A generator was installed in the corner of the room, with a bunch of power-cords connected to a felt-cloth, which was half his height, on the other end.
Jiang Ting went to press the felt again and again. Upon verifying that the thing lying underneath the cloth was some sort of cuboid device, he pulled the cloth away with force.
A wave of dry, mouldy dust rose into the air due to his actions, causing Jiang Ting to quickly jerk his head to the side, coughing violently for a while before stopping. As he had expected, a small one-door fridge, revealed itself from right under the cloth.
For some reason— with slightly trembling fingers, he opened the door to the cold storage and piles of various bottles and jars loomed largely before him.
A majority of the transparent beakers, as well as some opaque brown-coloured medicine bottles which were disorderly mixed together, were already empty. Traces of different coloured residues could be seen at the bottom of the glasswares; with some glass bottles still holding solutions in them. However, since they weren’t sealed up properly, a pungent stench of chemicals rose, permeating the air.
In the grooves of the inner wall of the fridge’s door, lay a packet of items which appeared to be filled to the brim; tightly wrapped by layer upon layer of newspaper.
With his heart pounding away, Jiang Ting’s expression slightly contorted as he gently removed the newspaper.
Inside, was a small packet containing a light-blue powder sealed within it.
With one knee on the ground, Jiang Ting’s pupils rapidly enlarged before shrinking as he reached out to pick up the sealed packet, which was half the size of his palm. Only to see a yellowed label stuck on the lower-right corner of it, ‘Group C, 9th Box, 7704’ was written using a fountain-pen. The ink had already began to fade.
As Jiang Ting focused his utmost attention on the label, an indistinct chill drifting out from the fridge, shrouded the entire space. Amidst the darkness looming over him, his face was now a ghastly shade of white.
Finding the powder completely lay within his expectations. But why? Why these words?
How could this string of words appear here?!
In a flash, a fragment of a memory surfaced from the depths of his subconscious. That was, a dark and spacious factory-warehouse, with countless packets of a similar powder which were piled together to resemble the dull, blue-spirits drifting about in the depths of hell. They were being packed into cases, and were sealed before being loaded into a truck, one at a time. A heavy downpour bucketed down in the distance, and the street lamps flickered with a ghostly green shadow.
“Six million.” Someone spoke behind him, laughing. The tenderness in his voice sounded much like the devil’s loving words as he said, “You see, the happiness of this mundane world is that valuable.”
There were a few seconds where Jiang Ting almost lost his ability to breathe. He then immediately shut his eyes, taking deep breaths before opening them again. This action enabled him to force down his state of shock, freezing it underneath the thick layer of frost known as calmness. Then, he crumpled the newspaper and tossed it right back into the cold storage before standing up to close the fridge’s door. Covering it back up with the felt, he stuffed the small packet of powder into his pants pocket.
It was at that instant that someone locked his wrist in a tight grip.
“Take it out.” came Yan Xie’s cold voice from behind him.
Jiang Ting momentarily froze in his tracks, the hand in his pocket did not relax one bit as he slowly turned around to greet him. “Vice-captain Yan…”
“Give it to me.” Yan Xie’s eyes were pitch-black. “Don’t make me do this.”
The short few seconds that past felt so long, as though it was a confrontation. Soon, the muscles on Jiang Ting’s arm eventually relaxed; enabling Yan Xie to pull out his hand from his pocket and seize the packet trapped within.
With his chin raised, Jiang Ting refused to answer his question.
Fishing out his cell-phone, right before Jiang Ting’s eyes, Yan Xie pressed the numbers: 1, 1 & 0, before hovering his thumb over the call-button. Although Jiang Ting couldn’t tell what the expression was on Yan Xie’s face, since the man’s back was blocking the little amount of remaining sunlight shining through the open door, his voice was laced with an incredibly chillness as he spoke. “One last time, Jiang Ting. If you still don’t have an answer for me, I’ll send you back to Gongzhou tonight.”
“…” After a long pause, Jiang Ting finally parted his lips to say, “There’s no reason. Just maybe, maybe it’s because I take drugs too?”
All of a sudden, after a momentary lapse of silence where tension rung high in the air, Jiang Ting’s entire body lurched forward, having been forcibly dragged by the collar by Yan Xie. Immediately hauling him out of the shack with brute force.
This sort of craft, akin to lifting a cub with one hand, made it difficult for him to breathe; let alone speak. Throughout the struggle, Jiang Ting lost count of how many items he must have knocked over— even accidentally kicking the door frame on the way out, causing a heap of cement and sand pour down over their heads in torrents. He countered it by grabbing Yan Xie’s hand, wanting badly to shake off the iron-like grip, to no avail. As soon as they were outside, he was violently shoved forward, almost colliding with the ground after staggering a few steps.
Hand clutching onto his throat, Jiang Ting was almost out of air, his vision blurring from time to time. He only managed to scramble back to his feet after a brief recovery. Voice hoarse, he started, “You…”
Grabbing his chin in one swift movement, Yan Xie’s handsome face was full of anger, beyond recognition. He was about to say something but looked up all of a sudden, his expression paled on sight. “Watch out!”
Before Jiang Ting could react, Yan Xie had already shoved him behind him. Amidst the chaos, he felt a strong wind whip past his outer-ear. Turning around abruptly, he was greeted by the sight of several people who had actually showed up out of nowhere!
The entire situation changed too fast. Their visibility was poor because it was the crack of dawn, so he wasn’t able to get a clear picture of how they looked, only managing to catch sight of a gleaming and shiny blade striking down at him in that instant! Anyone would say, that in that very instant, Yan Xie reacted at lightning-speed, raising his hand to seize the man’s arm with absolute precision. He quickly retaliated by viciously swinging his elbow into the man’s shoulder!
Having been hit, the dagger in the man’s hand fell to the ground. But who would expect that without emitting even a grunt of pain, the moment the tip of the blade hit the ground, he kicked the dagger into the air and grabbed the handle in one grip, swiping it across— Yan Xie leant back to save his own life; the dagger grazing his nose as it swung past!
In a flash, realisation dawned on Yan Xie that the man was of an extremely-professional calibre, so without even turning to look, he roared at Jiang Ting, “—RUN!”
Jiang Ting paused in his tracks.
The man seized Yan Xie’s leg as he attempted to kick, the tip of the blade almost slicing down to his knee, but was kicked back by Yan Xie on the chest. However, the man’s body was incredibly strong and powerful, he’d only reeled back a few steps before regaining his balance! In a blink of an eye, he ducked to evade the counterattack and grabbed a handful of sand from the ground and threw it—
Yan Xie shielded his eyes on reflex, putting up his arms, but in a split second the dust had already reached them. It was already too late.
Accompanying the agonizing pain was the wave of hot and cold that ripped through his thigh. He knew he had been stabbed by the blade, but when a person is highly tensed and caught up in the midst of an adrenaline rush, they could not feel any pain at all. On top of that, Yan Xie was very dauntless. Without even sparing a single thought that he was at a risk of blood loss for moving too much, he seized the opportunity to lift his leg and brutally propelled the dagger from the man’s hand. ‘Crash—!’
The dagger spun as it hit the roof’s railings and dropped down the building.
Because the wrist of the man holding the dagger had been unexpectedly struck, the attacker groaned for a while. But the tone of his voice eventually turned into an icy chill. Rather than saying it was caused by the pain, it more or less sounded like a sneer.
—The sound of the voice allowed Yan Xie to pinpoint the man’s age. It should be a young man.
But who was the man?
What’s his purpose for ambushing the police?
The dirt rendered Yan Xie unable to get a clear view of things. In a flash, someone grabbed onto his arm. Turning around, he was thrown over a shoulder beautifully. There was no doubt that the man was an expert in a brawl, as he managed to throw Yan Xie in a perfect circle despite Yan Xie’s monster 190cm height. However, fighting instincts Yan Xie had accumulated over the years made him instinctively hook himself around the man’s neck at the exact moment he was about to hit the ground. ‘Bang—!’ Two loud noises cut through the air as the two of them were both simultaneously thrown to the ground!
Almost immediately, the two of them entangled in a brawl. Yan Xie, blind as a bat, pulled through after all the punches that rained down on him. Suddenly, he felt the man rapidly searching through his pockets. Fishing something out of his back-pocket.
The attacker chuckled lowly for a while, picking up Yan Xie with a tight grip on the neck before slamming him heavily to the railing. The combination of a more than eighty-kilogram weight being slammed against the railing made it creak dangerously!
The brute strength the professional hitman put behind trying to snap his throat, was nothing to joke about. If other police officers were currently in Yan Xie’s shoes, they would have already died with honour. With both hands, Yan Xie gripped the man’s hand that was strangling him. Gnashing his teeth, he tried to suppress the sharp pain rippling through him. “You.. You’re the one…who killed Fan Zhengyuan…”
Ah Jie, who didn’t expect to be recognized by him, let out an “Oh?” before adding, “I never expected you cops to arrive so soon either. You didn’t have to die.”
The veins on Yan Xie’s arm bulged in anger. “I think the one who’s fucking gonna die…is you!”
Everything happened in a flash. Yan Xie abruptly exerted his strength and viciously swept his leg across the man’s ankle, instantly ending the evenly-matched confrontation. Ah Jie staggered, having almost fallen to the ground, but gaining an advantage over the fact that Yan Xie couldn’t see, he quickly evaded the attack and kicked upwards as hard as he could— whirling into a standing position before capturing Yan Xie’s shoulders.
“…” Ah Jie cursed under his breath as he pressed his shoulder against Yan Xie’s. In one brutish movement, he threw Yan Xie over the railing!
At the very exact moment that the metal deformed, Yan Xie, having already caught hold of the man’s shoulder and neck, only needed to exert himself enough in order to throw his professional opponent over his shoulders and to his death from such a height. However, in less than a split second, the rusty metal-railings, having survived the beatings of both wind and rain over the years, unexpectedly gave out right under their weights; the entire row inclining backwards and away from the rooftop!
Without sparing a single second, Yan Xie and Ah Jie both lost their footings at the same time!
Jiang Ting cried out loudly in shock, “Yan…”
Before he could even take a step forward, a cold, hard gun crept up soundlessly, pressing against the back of his head.
The familiar voice carried a hint of laughter as the person drawled softly into his ear, “Freeze.”