Volume 1: Case 502 — The Intoxicated Frozen Corpse
Captain Jiang, this person, was the sort to do his work with great detachment and tranquility, like a Buddha.
Edited by Beth
Jiangning City; the technician’s control room in a chemical plant.
Two in the morning.
The darkness beyond the window was endless, with the buzzing and chirping of insects coming from the grass.
An employee sat in front of the monitors, head nodding away as he dozed off. But just as he was falling to sleep, a buzzing sound of overloading current was heard from the lightbulb above him. The light sparked a few times, then went out.
“Eh?” The employee jerked awake. Seeing darkness in front of him, he stood up reflexively, looking around. “What’s going on?”
At this moment, white flashed in the corner of his eye, diving into the dark like a spirit.
This employee had only just graduated high school, so he was only a young, timid kid who was a little slovenly. At this moment, he was frozen solid, wondering what was happening. But in the next second, his nerves were shot and his entire body broke out in a cold sweat. “Who…”
An ice cold hand silently clasped the back of his neck.
“AHHHH A GHOST—”
That hand gave a deft hit. The scream of the employee immediately vanished, and the boy collapsed onto the ground.
Chu Ci was expressionless. Shaking his hand, he straightened his white coat. He then helped move the employee, who nearly peed his pants, into a chair and placed him into a sleeping position, before taking out a bunch of keycards from his pocket.
At the chemicals storage control room, the keycard beeped, and the glass door slid open silently in the dark.
At this time of night, the patrol wasn’t present, with the next shift yet to arrive. It could be said to be the safest moment, so there was no one in the dark and silent warehouse. With much familiarity, Chu Ci made his way along the rows of storage tanks filled with raw chemical reagents. When turning on his flashlight, he carefully searched through the labels on the bottom of the storage tanks.
“… AR6 equilibrium catalyst, methanol… 2-Chlorobenzaldehyde.”
Chu Ci stopped, standing in front of a large storage tank half the height of an adult man.
With one hand in the pocket of his coat, he held a flashlight in the other. The beam of light trembled slightly in the dark, casting shadows upon his face. After standing there for enough time to smoke a cigarette, Chu Ci seemed to finally shake himself awake. With a deep breath, he took a short step forward and crouched down in front of the pipe of the tank, placing the flashlight between his teeth, he took out a vial and a few other things from his pocket.
However, just as the tips of his fingers touched the pipe, the phone in his pocket vibrated violently. After taking it out, what was displayed on the screen left him frozen for a moment.
His advisor was a workaholic who often spent his nights in the lab. Calling him in the middle of the night and asking for data was something he would usually do, but no one would have expected the coincidence of his timing at that moment. Now was not the time to talk, so just as Chu Ci was about to reject the call, he suddenly heard a voice ring out from the entrance of the storage room without any prior warning.
The crashing sounds of falling bottles and cans were ear piercing in the night. Did someone come?!
Chu Ci turned off his flashlight and hurriedly accepted the call, but his phone clattered to the ground!
The call connected immediately, the screen lit up and the time counter started running. Chu Ci’s pupils constricted as he reached out, wanting to grab his phone to disconnect the call. However, everything happened in a blink of an eye, and the newcomer had already followed the sounds right to him. From behind him, the person lunged across and seized his hand!
Chu Ci’s breath caught in his throat. He jerked his head back, only to meet that person’s eyes in that moment.
The traffic light blinked non-stop. Noise, horns and the shrieking sounds of brakes sounded together, and passersby hurriedly crossed the street.
A thick layer of clouds hung low in the sky of Jianning City. The air was heavy and wet, and a vague smell of earth could be detected.
The rainy season was coming.
“Hey, are you alright?”
There was a bout of silence on the other side of the phone conversation. Perhaps a little surprised, Jiang Ting then replied, his tone cold and steady, “I’m fine.”
Yan Xie stood in front of the window in the office, his eyes looking at the cloudy sky in the distance. The glass of the window reflected his side profile, strong yet weary.
“You were right,” he said. “Hu Weisheng is dead.”
Jiang Ting did not express any surprise, only giving a quiet acknowledgement.
Yan Xie asked, “Aren’t you going to ask how he died, and who killed him?”
“A person’s life is very fragile. There are countless methods to kill a man, and the only thing unchangeable is the fact that he’s dead. The person who wanted Hu Weisheng’s life is very sharp, and the current focus now is not to investigate how he died.”
Yan Xie said, “Why don’t you go and become a Buddha?”
Jiang Ting did not react at all to this unfunny joke, not even giving a courteous chuckle in response. Bluntly, he asked, “What are you planning to do now?”
Yan Xie strode through the office, standing by the door and gazing out through the glass. Everyone in the main hall was seated in front of their computers, busy with work. The recording from “Three Spring Trees” had already been sharpened by the forensics agency and sent over, and the bureau had transferred over dozens of investigators from the subdistrict branch to their office, and they were looking into the evidence round the clock.
“After you left last night, I spent a long time thinking,” Yan Xie spoke out of the blue. “I think I got your hints.”
“Three Spring Trees KTV does not have the ‘blue stuff’ we’re looking for, which means, right from the start, the police have already been off the mark. The reason for this conclusion is because if Hu Weisheng was able to get the ‘blue stuff’ at any time from his supplier, there was completely no need for him to hide that little bag up on the roof as though it was something precious. Furthermore, he had hidden it up there for so long, to the point where the handwriting on the label of the sealed bag had started to fade.”
“He had gotten that bag of drugs from somewhere else,” Yan Xie continued. “Three Spring Trees is not the key to why he was silenced, it’s that bag of drugs.”
The vague sound of footsteps could be heard over the phone. Yang Mei’s distinctive husky and charming voice was very soft as she called out, “Jiang-ge.”
Jiang Ting covered up the bottom half of his phone. He answered, saying something that should be, “Leave it here first for later.”
“What thing?” Yan Xie asked, his ears sensitive to the sounds.
Jiang Ting replied, “It’s lunch.”
Yan Xie: “…”
“The cash thrown about in the nightclub last night is a total of 60,000RMB. It’s Yang Mei’s money. Remember to apply for reimbursement from the case’s expenses.”
Yan Xie was incredulous. “We’ve just shared a momentous occasion of life and death. You’re not saying anything about it other than the money?”
“If not for money, Feng Yuguang would not have died, Hu Weisheng would not have been silenced, there would be no one selling drugs in this world, and the global crime rate would drop by at least 80%. So, money is very important. By the way,” Jiang Ting said lazily, “what happened to us was not an occasion of life and death, it’s called a helping hand.”
A vein in Yan Xie’s forehead throbbed.
“Don’t forget to report the expenses,” Jiang Ting said before hanging up.
“Yan-ge!” A couple of knocks sounded on the office door, and Ma Xiang shouted, “The experts from the provincial office are here, and Chief Lu is urging you to hurry up and do your work!”
Yan Xie returned to his senses. “Got it! Give me a minute!”
He pondered for some time, walking back to the window and swiftly dialling a number. To no surprise, the call connected very quickly, and a voice overflowing with murderous intent answered by the third ring: “Hello?!”
“Hey, Dad,” Yan Xie quickly lowered his voice and spoke before the man started scolding him. “Do me a favour.”
Jianning Public Security Bureau, a small meeting room.
Yan Xie pushed the door open and entered. The entire meeting room was already full of people. At the head of the table was Chief Lu, the head of the city’s public security bureau; so pudgy that he seemed like a harmless Maitreya. Sitting up straight, his attention was very focused. On his right were the two assistant chiefs other than Wei Yao, along with a few team leaders, investigators, the chief medical examiners and others. On his left were three strangers that Yan Xie had never met before. They should be the experts from the provincial office.
“Last night, at 12:20, the suspect in custody, Hu Weisheng, suddenly took the initiative, saying that he wanted to explain the situation. This was reflected to the Criminal Investigation Unit by the policeman standing on guard, and great importance was attached to it. At 12:30, Hu Weisheng claimed that he was feeling the withdrawal effects from drugs, and requested for drugs in exchange for his information. This was reflected to Assistant Chief Wei by Gao Panqing and others from the Criminal Investigation Unit, and Assistant Chief Wei approved the use of two vials of medical morphine.”
Although all the eyes in the meeting room quickly darted over to him, Yan Xie seemed as though he did not notice any of them. He also did not interrupt Gou Li’s report, quietly pulling out a swivel chair and taking a seat. Next, he quickly gave Chief Lu, who was sitting at the head of a table, a meaning look.
“The stipulation of the forensics department is that medical morphine has to be retrieved from the cabinet by the chief forensics doctor himself, and both the key and the seal are in the hands of the chief forensics doctor. However, last night, the bureau had a last minute emergency operation. I was fielded along with the team, and so I left the forensics department.” Gou Li took in a breath, then said, “At that time, the situation was very tense. Hu Weisheng was an important target that the bureau had been watching for a very long time, and he was very highly trained in anti-reconnaissance and anti-interrogation. To gain the cooperation from the criminal, as well as other leads, Assistant Chief Wei made a special request, and there was an urgent transfer of a vial of diamorphine from the inventory of drugs that the anti-drug department had seized.”
Diamorphine, also known as heroin.
Who would have thought that just a vial of heroin would send the old drug addict, Hu Weisheng, down the path of no return?
The provinicial experts exchanged a look among themselves, and the middle-aged man leading them asked, “What sort of operation were you following last night?”
Gou Li shot a pleading look over. Qin Chuan coughed, cutting in, “Hu Weisheng stated that the Three Springs Tree KTV at Yihe Road is one of the channels through which drugs are trafficked. As such, our bureau planned an infiltration at the last minute, and both Vice Captain Yan and Chief Gou aided in the operation.”
“Oh,” the middle-aged man did not react. “What was the result of the operation?”
Qin Chuan siad, “We’ve arrested three suspected drug traffickers…”
“How much evidence did you seize? How many grams of drugs and prescription medication did you find in total?”
“Was there the new type of psychotropic drugs that was used by the victims in Case 502? Can we confirm if there’s any relationship with the case?”
Qin Chuan choked slightly.
“So,” the middle-aged man concluded, “Jianning Public Security Bureau’s Municipal Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Municipal Bureau of Narcotics, the Chief Forensics Doctor and others joined hands and completed a search and seizure operation. Basically nothing came out from it, but instead, it resulted in the death of an important suspect, Hu Weisheng.”
This sentence made it sound as though Hu Weisheng was deliberately silenced by Jianning Public Security Bureau. The meeting room broke out into quiet discussion, and everyone’s expressions were quite ugly.
Qin Chuan looked unhappy. Just as he was about to speak, someone suddenly held him back. It was Fang Zhenghong.
“Chen Chu makes sense,” Fang Zhenghong first agreed. His face was waxy and pallid, and his tone was feeble. “We will definitely launch an investigation into last night’s matter immediately, isolating and questioning all relevant personnel one by one, as well as arranging an autopsy. Right now, we’ve already made inroads into the investigation of Case 502, and we will give the province an answer as soon as possible.”
Fang Zhenghong was truly worthy of being from the older generation. His words were sophisticated, leaving a way out for the other party. However, Chen Chu did not follow the path.
“An investigation? There’s no need for that anymore,” Chen Chu said harshly. “Strictly speaking, your bureau’s Chief Forensics Doctor can also be considered one of the people responsible for Hu Weisheng’s death. To avoid any suspicions of being unfair, isolate them all!”
Gou Li’s face changed rapidly. “What do you mean by that?”
“Our staff will be the ones in charge of Hu Weisheng’s autopsy. Also, Assistant Chief Wei Yao and others will be isolated and questioned by our task force. The province has been deeply concerned with this case for so long already, but it’s been such a long time and you still have yet to gain any results. Now, even an important suspect is dead, and he died right in the bureau! Whether there was a misunderstanding, or if it was an error, we will never allow any shameful secrets to be hidden in our honest public security bureau!”
Chen Chu’s words were powerful and resounding, echoing across the room. Everyone’s faces were extremely ugly.
“Assistant Chief Wei’s emergency application for the use of diamorphine had been approved by me.” Suddenly, a slow voice spoke up from the head of the table.
Everyone looked over, only to see Chief Lu amiably holding up his thermos cup. He looked as though he had his hands together, and under his big backside, the leather swivel chair creaked, as though overwhelmed by his weight.
Yan Xie held up a file as cover, secretly giving him an OK sign. Chief Lu nodded imperceptibly.
Chen Chu asked, “And so?”
He did not notice how the most of the chiefs and captains in the room had a look of salvation in their eyes.
“So, as for our process, there’s no issue with it. However, Hu Weisheng did actually die. Since he’s dead, then on the basis of fairness, strictness, objectivity and efficiency, we must investigate it thoroughly. We have to discard what is false, and keep what is true, as well as be realistic about matters. We’ll strive to find out the truth behind his death, along with putting the work of our teams, our forensics doctors and our bureau back onto the track of normality.”
Chen Chu wanted to interrupt a few times, but he was forced silent by the Maitreya’s unhurried, relaxed, calm, highly skilled and impenetrable narration.
The Maitreya said, “We’re now at the crucial point of the investigation. Not only the bureau, but the provincial department as well, we’re all standing on the same side. We know that according to the experience accumulated by our long term work with the narcotics bureau, it’s not very likely for severe drug addicts like Hu Weisheng to overdose or react to a vial of diamorphine. However, in our line of work, we must uphold facts, and we have to admit that despite how minute the possibility can be, there could still be a chance that the possibility exist—”
“Hold on, hold on,” Chen Chu could no longer hold himself back, forcibly cutting off Prajnaparamita’s Great Compassion Chant. “Chief Lu, do you mean to say that Hu Weisheng died because of a reaction to the drug he took himself?!”
Chief Lu affirmed, “We cannot exclude this speculation.”
“Non…” From the shape of his lips, it could be seen that Chen Chu had forced the word “nonsense” back down his throat. Choking on it, he nearly had to gasp for air. “What a wild speculation! This is impossible!”
However, Chief Lu was not annoyed in the slightest. In fact, he did not even look unhappy at all, and still appeared very amiable.
“Young man, it’s not right of you to say this. Anything is always possible. For example, nowadays in society, it is generally believed that the bodies of chronic drug abusers are very tolerant of drugs. However, the truth is that among the number of people who die from drug abuse, morphine addicts are allergic to amphetamine compounds, psychotropic drug addicts are allergic to morphine, and also other more serious cases like drug addicts being allergic to various additives in drugs like battery acids and freezing agents. Such incidences can cause cardiac shock, heart failure and even death, and this trend has been increasing exponentially over the years. Do you know the official statistics for the number of deaths last year in Jianning due to such allergy cases?”
Chen Chu: “…”
The scene was silent.
The three provincial experts could never have imagined that the Maitreya could say such a long, unbroken speech without having to stop for air, and they were all stunned.
“There were 509 of them. Compared to the same time period during the year before, it has increased by 117.2%,” Chief Lu stated systematically and patiently.
Just as he paused slightly, a phone inside the meeting room chimed suddenly.
Everyone turned around, only to see Yan Xie glancing at the message he had just received on his phone. He then looked up, meeting the questioning eyes of Chief Lu, and with much brevity, said the first sentence since he stepped into this meeting room.
Chen Chu: “???”
A phone started ringing. Chen Chu looked down to discover that it was actually his phone, and the incoming call was from — Liu Ting from the provincial committee.
“So, before Case 502 is solved, any internal investigations carried out should try to avoid affecting the work of the municipal bureau, that the investigation should be carried out by the municipal bureau itself, under the supervision of the provincial department. With regards to this point, I completely agree with Liu Ting’s opinion.” The Maitreya spoke this very long statement at a speed four times his usual speed, then smiled slightly. “Chen Chu, you should answer the call.”
Baffled, Chen Chu picked up his phone, standing up and heading out as he answered his phone. “Hi, Old Liu, you… Yes, yes, a suspect in Jianning Public Security Bureau had died from an unnatural cause…”
The voice gradually faded away as the distance drew further, and there was a complete silence in the meeting room.
Two minutes later, the door opened again. Ashen-faced, Chen Chu glared at Chief Lu.
“You were deliberately delaying the meeting?!”
Chief Lu chuckled, looking very benevolent.
One of the provincial experts asked quietly, “Old Chen, what’s wrong?”
Chen Chu pointed at Chief Lu, speechless, and he was at the peak of his anger. A beat later, he said resentfully, “Liu Ting just called and asked the city bureau to not let this matter interrupt the investigation of Case 502 for now. As for Wei Yao and the others, together with Hu Weisheng’s death, they’ll be handled by the city bureau themselves too. We’ll just be in charge of supervision!”
“Huh?” The rest of the people were astonished.
Chen Chu looked around the room, glaring accurately at the furthest corner of the table in the meeting room. His eyes were like those of the strictest instructor glaring at a cheating student, and he snorted icily. “— Yan Xie?”
“You’re that Vice Captain Yan, from the richest family who owns Jianning Coal Mine, and who came running over here to be a cop?”
Yan Xie did not even make a peep.
“Listen carefully,” Chen Chu said coldly. “I don’t care what sort of relationship your father has with Liu Ting, and I don’t care how much tax your family has paid, or how many projects your family has invested in and supported. I will be here, watching over your criminal investigation team. As long as any fishy business turns up in Case 502, I guarantee that you will never again be able to work in law enforcement for the rest of your life!”
Bang! Chen Chu slammed the door close and left huffily.
Once again, the meeting room descended into an awkward silence. Everyone exchanged looks, their breaths rising and falling, one after the other.
After some time passed, Yan Xie coughed, speaking slowly, “Umm, let me make it clear. My family has long since been the richest family in the city. Last year, we were overtaken by some internet financing business.”
Everyone else: “…”
With great effort, Chief Lu supported himself on the armrests of the chair and stood up. Solemnly he said, “The meeting’s over.”
People were hurrying to and fro in front of the building housing the city bureau. Clasping his briefcase under his arm, Chief Lu walked out of the main door. His fat body was turned slightly to the side, and he had a hand in the air, gesturing lightly as he spoke. Looking at him, he seemed like the principal of a junior high lecturing his students at morning assembly.
“… Those people who came in contact with that vial of diamorphine, interview and examine every single one of them. I still strongly believe that it is highly possible that the reason for Hu Weisheng’s death is a reaction to an additive in the drug. Xiao Gou, immediately arrange for an autopsy. As for Xiao Yan, the seventy-two hours Old Wei gave you to solve the case is still running. As for the CCTV recordings that have come back from the forensics department—”
“Understood,” Yan Xie spoke succinctly. “I’ll definitely hurry up.”
Chief Lu nodded in satisfaction. “This time, it’s all thanks to you with regards to Old Wei.”
Yan Xie said, “Everyone only wants to skip past the unnecessary procedures, and we just want to solve the case as soon as possible. It’s our team that has to thank Chief Lu for your trust.”
Chief Lu laughed, “No no, no such trust, no such trust.”
Yan Xie: “…”
Chief Lu patted Yan Xie’s shoulder, speaking kindly, “If in the end, it’s really discovered that it has something to do with Old Wei, then, the prison walls — not within the walls — those cement walls around the prison will be your final resting places, hahaha—”
The corners of Yan Xie’s mouth could not help but twitch. He watched as Chief Lu waved his wave, walking down the stairs composedly and getting into a Hongqi sedan that had been waiting for quite some time. The car then drove off in the direction of the provincial department building.
The national flag was dyed red with the blood of heroes, and the impregnable fortress of Jianning, fencing off the criminals, were built by the (bodies of the) people’s police.
This statement was true.
Yan Xie watched the Hongqi sedan vanish out of the gates of the compound, not knowing how he should react.
Standing there for a moment, he pulled out a box of cigarettes. He wanted to smoke a stick to gather up his thoughts, before returning to his office and getting people to interrogate those drug traffickers who thought they had been detained for harbouring prostitutes. However, just as he was about to flick his lighter, a couple of loud, penetrating blares from a car horn came from across the street.
Which idiot did not know how many eyes the Horse God had, and dared to be so arrogant right at the doors of Jianning’s top most powerful building?
Yan Xie lifted his head. His gaze shot through the metal gate, only to see a very familiar silver Mercedes Benz parked by the side of the road.
— Yang Mei?
Even by the strictest standards, Yang Mei would still be considered an inspirational, self-made, fair, rich beauty.
Although Jianning was not as vast as the north, since ancient times, it was also a wealthy and exceptional city in the south-west region. She owned a KTV in the commercial area of the city centre with thirty to forty employees, she drove expensive european cars, and she would regularly carry Hermès or Chanel bags. No matter how one looked at it, she was definitely one of the successful people in the city.
But Yan Xie had nothing to fear.
Although his face that could easily be sold for 50,000RMB had not been washed in a long time, and his stubble was growing in patches all over his handsome face, he had yet to change out of the clothes and accessories he wore last night when he went undercover. That limited edition watch on his hand and the bespoke shoes on his feet still gave him the confidence to look down disdainfully at Yang Mei.
— Despite the fact that right now, he could not understand why he needed such confidence.
Yan Xie cleared his throat. Straightening his sleeves, he held his head up and puffed up his chest. Like a model, he crossed the road with a perfect catwalk and walked over to the silver Benz. First, he rapped on the window with the knuckle of his index finger, then with much restraint, he opened the door to the passenger seat.
“Hey, this is the entrance to the city bureau, you’re not allowed—”
Yan Xie’s haughty voice ceased abruptly.
“Are you alright?” Jiang Ting had a hand on the steering wheel, and he spoke suspiciously, “Just now, you were walking over like a peacock flaunting its feathers, and you nearly got knocked down by a police vehicle.”
Yan Xie turned his head around.
A police-issued Iveco had made an emergency break at the traffic light. Along the windows were the faces of a dozen trainee policemen arranged neatly, and they were all staring in astonishment at Vice Captain Yan.
“…” Without a sound, Yan Xie slid into the passenger seat of the Benz, slamming the door shut. He behaved as though nothing had happened and asked, “Why are you here?”
The car windows were tinted, and it felt as though they were completely isolated from the outside world. There were only the two of them in the not very spacious interior. Sitting together, their shoulders right next to each other, they only had to lean in slightly before they would make contact with the other.
Yan Xie’s ears felt a little hot, and he lifted his hand, rubbing at his ear lobe.
Jiang Ting took out a transparent sealed bag from a compartment by the door. “I came to pass this to you.”
In the bag was clearly a small, bluetooth earpiece!
The expression on Yan Xie’s face immediately changed from “???” to “!!!”.
If his psychological state was to be visualised, it would definitely be a scene of stormy waves, lightning and thunder, along with ten thousand arrows firing at once, accompanied by a display of fireworks and a sea of lanterns. His entire being froze in his seat, a thousand words stuck in his throat, and even after some time, he still could not make a sound.
There were only two methods to expel the earpiece. One was by the top, which was through a stomach pump; the other was by the bottom, through excretion. No matter the method, it would cause irreparable damage to delicate equipment like the small earpiece, and the process was also not very comfortable for the person. As for a more specific and dramatic description, there was no need to continue thinking about it.
Here was the question. How did Jiang Ting retrieve the earpiece?
Yan Xie’s gaze slid involuntarily from Jiang Ting’s light, reddish lips, down to his thighs, then back to his lips, and again to his thighs… After repeating this a few more times, he finally shut his eyes, taking in a deep harsh breath and forcibly expelling all related images from his head.
Then, under Jiang Ting’s increasingly doubtful eyes, he pointed at the earpiece, mustering his courage and asked, “How did you get it? Was it from the top or the bottom?”
“…” Jiang Ting was baffled. “It can be considered from the bottom, I guess. What do you mean by that?”