Volume 1: Case 502 — The Intoxicated Frozen Corpse
Vice Captain Yan couldn’t feel cared for at all, Vice Captain Yan was going to kick up a fuss!
Translated by Melts/@meltsmelts
Edited by AlexPT
The next morning.
The first ray of sunlight shone through the grey residential building, landing on the bumpy flagstone path. The layer of water left by the heavy rain yesterday night reflected that light like the face of a mirror.
“Liu Wanqiu denied ever buying a red Toyota Camry with the license plate A9U766, and at the same time, she has an alibi for two a.m to four a.m yesterday.” Qin Chuan’s tired voice came from the other end of the phone. Due to the consecutive night shifts, his voice was very hoarse. “I’ll bring some people and investigate her alibi in person to see if I can find any flaws.”
Holding onto his phone, Yan Xie walked out of the narrow passageway with his head lowered.
A crowd had gathered outside of the police cordon. All of the aunties and uncles came to attend the show; munching on their buns, beancurd or fried dough sticks, looking on from the side. Vivid descriptions and gasps travelled out from time to time.
“Someone apparently died in there! There’s already a smell! A few bags of corpses were dragged out yesterday night!”
“The wife caught her husband cheating red handedly! She took a knife and stabbed her husband, her mother-in-law, and the mistress to death!”
“Wow, so ruthless!…”
Five minutes ago, the story was still ‘a bandit broke in, killing a family of five’. In just a toilet break’s worth of time, the imagination of the crowd had already advanced to the story of love and revenge between a city girl, a rural boy and a shameless mistress. It went to show just what these aged uncles and aunties loved to see and hear.
Yan Xie walked out of the gate and headed towards the police car. Right as he appeared, a new wave of hot discussion was sparked once again.
“Look, a cop, a cop!”
“Why isn’t he wearing a uniform, where’s his gun?”
“Ohh, what a handsome young lad! I wonder if he’s married?…”
After mentally saying ‘all of you really are a group of aunties who insist on picking the worst topic to say’, Yan Xie stopped giving them his attention. He kept his head down as he entered the car under the crowd’s attention, then towards his phone, he asked, “Who has an alibi from two a.m to four a.m? Let me tell you, her husband’s account doesn’t count, alright?”
“Liu Wanqiu doesn’t have a husband, but she has a boyfriend. To celebrate her birthday last night, she called up a bunch of people for an all-night KTV session. Everyone there can testify that she had only left after four a.m. I have already checked the KTV surveillance records. Unless we made a wrong deduction on the time of the case, Liu Wanqiu couldn’t have had enough time to slip away from the gathering and reach the crime scene over ten kilometres away.”
Yan Xie’s expression turned dark. “Then what’s with the car?”
“Liu Wanqiu insists that she has never bought a car before, and I have already contacted the Traffic Management Bureau to carry out an investigation.”
His phone buzzed. It was the interrogation results and related voice records sent by Qin Chuan.
Yan Xie put on his earphones, looked down, then an indescribable expression appeared on his face.
“…Although it’s wrong to judge people based on appearance, this young lady’s appearance… Are you sure she was able to mesmerize the soul out of Hu Weisheng to the point where he refuses to give her up?”
Qin Chuan criticised him seriously. “Now that’s wrong of you, lao-Yan. First, in my eyes, there are no women in this world who aren’t beautiful. Even if Liu Wanqiu looks a little average, her degree and masters are all from excellent schools. Do you know, people like Hu Weisheng, who were emotionally deficient in school and got into society early, they’ll be more easily charmed by good girls who are outstanding in the traditional sense?”
Yan Xie said, “…You’ve been watching too many TV shows.”
An investigating officer walked over from afar. He stopped next to the open car door, and he seemed as if he wanted to say something.
Yan Xie put up a hand gesture for him to wait for a moment, then he heard Qin Chuan ask, “How is it? Any finds in Chi Rui’s home?”
“Nothing,” Yan Xie answered with no joy. He reached for a smoke out of habit, but he found that the cigarette pack was already empty. “Damn it!” He threw the empty box fiercely on the car’s front window.
“Hey, what’s that for!” Qin Chuan asked, “Did Chi Rui already escape?”
“He’s not just gone, he’s gone without a trace. No clues could be found in his home at all. I have already sent out nine investigation teams to a few places where he might be hiding in, including the mahjong houses, his sister’s home, the hardware factory… There’s no leads at all. Oh right, you already have an eye on the Ding family, right?”
Qin Chuan said, “Would I overlook that? Liu Wanqiu’s dad, mom, boyfriend, the Ding couple and their daughter are all on my name list. I’ve already sent people out, just wait for news from me.”
Yan Xie nodded, then he suddenly noticed the policeman trying to communicate with him repeatedly through his eyes.
“What?” Yan Xie raised his head and looked at him strangely.
Covering his mouth, the officer said quietly, “Someone with the surname Lu just got out of a cab outside of the police cordon. He says he’s your friend and that he’s been waiting for you for a long time already…”
A click sounded in Yan Xie’s mind that had slowed down because of the all-nighter. Like a rusty machine suddenly operating again, he reacted.
“Aiyo!” He shut the call off, nearly standing up directly from the front seat. “Tell him to come here, quickly!”
Wearing a cap and a mask, Jiang Ting held Yan Xie’s windbreaker in his arm and his notebook in his other hand. He went past the police cordon amidst the surrounding aunties’ pointing and gesturing, then walked towards the police car.
For some reason, as Yan Xie watched him walk over the puddles on the flagstone path, seeing his upright posture, slender legs, a handsome face unaffected by the all-nighter, and even his neat and tidy hair, Qin Chuan’s words suddenly appeared in his mind.
“People who were emotionally deficient in school and got into society early are more easily charmed by good girls who are outstanding in the traditional sense…”
If Jiang Ting was a woman, would he count as outstanding in a traditional sense, cold, aloof, proud and extremely self-disciplined?
Then that made him…
Yan Xie suddenly shuddered. He thought to himself that it had definitely been too long since he had a date with his hand. Once he seized those bastard drug-manufacturing kidnappers, he definitely had to go to the bathroom and have a good wank.
“What’s the matter?” Standing next to the open car door, Jiang Ting tossed the windbreaker to Yan Xie. “Are you cold? Wear this.”
Yan Xie corrected his opinion right then and there.
Which good girl didn’t drape the jacket over her husband’s shoulders very gently? What was with that icy-cold toss? That didn’t make him feel cared for at all!
“Didn’t I tell you not to go out unless you have to, and to wait for me to send someone to get you?” Yan Xie tossed the windbreaker to the backseat and said unhappily, “Do you know how dangerous it is to hire a cab?”
“It’s fine, things aren’t that sensitive for now.”
“What do you mean by not sensitive for now?”
Jiang Ting didn’t want to say too much, but like a wolf on a piece of meat, Yan Xie refused to let it go. Jiang Ting had no choice but to explain simply: “Fan Si died in such an exposed manner on the highway. People who share the same motives as him would of course hold off for a while. Did Chi Rui escape?”
Yan Xie sighed. “Of all the things you could say, why did you have to bring that up?”
Yan Xie gave a brief recount of the situation, including Liu Wanqiu’s alibi and the fact that the Ding family was already being monitored from top to bottom. Jiang Ting took a look at Liu Wanqiu’s ID photo, then he fell quiet, thinking about something. Yan Xie picked the cigarette box he threw away in a rage back up, then raised it to his nose for a sniff. Taking a glance at Jiang Ting from the side, he asked in a low and muffled voice, “Well, any ideas?”
“Records of any communication between Hu Weisheng and Liu Wanqiu, including online social accounts, wechat pages and cash transactions weren’t found?”
“No.” Pursing his lips, Yan Xie shook his head.
“Her alibi is complete and there are no clear flaws?”
“Her household register, driver’s license, and driving record hadn’t been used by any family members or relatives?”
“We’re monitoring the Ding family so we can find out.”
Rubbing his chin, Jiang Ting nodded slightly, then he suddenly heard Yan Xie ask in a seemingly casual way, “What do you think about this young woman’s appearance?”
Jiang Ting studied the photo with a professional gaze for a moment, then he mused, “Proper features, hazel hair, and clean white teeth. I can’t tell if there’s any major cosmetic surgery done. She might also have a slight temporomandibular joint disorder syndrome… What?”
Yan Xie had an incredulous look all over his face. He said slowly, word by word, “Is- she- pretty?”
Jiang Ting raised an eyebrow. After a moment, he finally gave a confirmed answer, “I think she looks alright.”
The air stiffened.
At Chi Rui’s home, the police were presently going in and out, collecting evidence and looking through everything. Outside of the police cordon, the local police shouted for the ever increasing crowd of bored uncles and aunties to disperse. In the distance, the light of dawn grew clearer. The chirping of birds among trees and the sound of cars on the road travelled over from afar, converging into a busy, noisy, and lively morning.
Jiang Ting finally sensed that something was off about the atmosphere. “…Is there something wrong?”
Yan Xie gathered up the photos slowly, then he said coldly, “You really are way too much.”
Jiang Ting, “???”
“When you tried to peep at me back then, you even ordered take out to keep up the farce, acting all gentle and understanding, nicely saying ‘don’t forget to eat’… Well now, here you are at the scene early in the morning with empty hands, without even a single cup of soy milk! You don’t need to act like you care anymore, you might as well reveal your true nature. Even spending one dollar and fifty cents for a meat bun is too…”
Jiang Ting’s expression went blank. The psychological critical damage caused by the phrase ‘gentle and understanding’ instantly KO-ed ‘your hand is really pretty’.
“Hold on, hold on.” Jiang Ting interrupted his complaint in a hurry, and reached into his laptop bag. He took out a thermos cup and stuffed it in Yan Xie’s hands before he could say another word. “This is for you.”
Now Yan Xie was the one who was dazed. He opened the thermos cup, and the rich fragrance of red tea rose up to his face.
“I thought since it had already been opened up, I can’t not let the proper owner have a taste of it, that’s why I prepared it just for you,” Jiang Ting said sincerely, “hold it steady, and drink it while it’s hot. Don’t spill it on the laptop, I’m going to the washroom.”
Jiang Ting turned and left. Yan Xie was stunned for a few seconds, then he went into a rage. “Do you think I’m stupid! You shear me of all my wool and say that it’s to make a wool jacket for me? Take it back right now, I don’t want it!”
Chi Rui, thirty-five years old, a citizen of Jianning, Zhoubian county. A man with a criminal record.
No one knew what kind of courage that top chem student had when he was being kidnapped. When he was shoved into the car, he suddenly shoved away the armed kidnapper with a burst of strength, knocking him into the brush, even thinking of a way to cause the kidnapper to leave blood stains behind.
The hostage might receive frightening punishment because of this, but his quick-thinking and courage in that instant left an extremely valuable clue for the investigators.
The vice squad did not let this clue go to waste. Before ten in the morning, Chi Rui’s life story, daily communication records, driving records, monetary transactions, social interactions… were exposed like an open abdominal cavity on the surgery table. Each blood vessel, nerve, and muscle, was brought to light by the investigators’ X-ray eyes.
“Chi Rui has no wife or children. He’s close to a hooker in Xiyu City, but she is already cleared of suspicion. We have told his parents and older sister to try and contact him, but we haven’t heard anything from them yet. He was last seen on security footage at nine-thirty in the morning the day before, driving a Nissan pickup past an oil station near the new Wuhai district. His whereabouts after that are unknown.”
“Through police analysis, Chi Rui’s hiding place might be the underground drug manufacturing factory run by organized criminals. The branch office in the new Wuhai district and various local stations are already on the move; they’re ready to carry out close surveillance.”
Sitting in the driver seat of the jeep, Yan Xie listened to the preliminary investigator’s report through his bluetooth earphone, which was so loud that it could be heard from the backseat.
Yan Xie took a bite of a steaming hot meat bun— Jiang Ting had finally admitted defeat. With the company of Han Xiaomei, he personally bought four buns, and brought it back for Vice Captain Yan, finally putting the endless complaining to an end. While chewing, Yan Xie took a glance at the backseat. Jiang Ting was listening with his full attention, holding the thermos cup that had already cooled. He was leaning forward slightly, and at that moment, he was looking at him too. Their eyes met each other for that instant.
Jiang Ting mouthed.
New Wuhai district?
Yan Xie nodded, indicating that he got it. He swallowed, then he said loudly towards the mic purposefully, “Wuhai is an industrial area built about two years ago, it hasn’t developed yet, and it’s far from the southeast of Jianning’s downtown area. It’s too hard to search through such a big and sparsely populated place. Are there any other clues that can lock down Chi Rui’s hiding spot quickly? Is his phone monitored already?”
Jiang Ting received the map of Jianning that Yan Xie handed over. He opened it quickly, took a look around, then he circled out ‘Wuhai industrial area’ with a red pen.
The preliminary investigator said, “Chi Rui uses an unregistered number, so we can’t locate his exact position. But we are already monitoring the main factories, trading areas, residential areas and train stations in the perimeter. Once we find anyone suspicious, we will notify the vice squad to head to the local station at once!”
Yan Xie said, “All right.” He then ended the call, his brows knitting extremely tightly.
“The process of making methamphetamine produces a lot of hazardous substances and a pungent ammonia smell. If it’s not made with the right technique, neighbours will easily notice it. But in order to make it properly, it requires a special vacuum pump, tanks made of cement, and an industrial air filter system. It’s very hard to complete the process in a residential area.” Jiang Ting paused for a moment, then he tapped the map lightly with his pen. He said darkly, “Shrink the search area to the factories that have yet to start work, or are already abandoned around Wuhai district. There’s no need to check the government owned corporations or foreign companies. Focus on private factories, hardware factories, and mould manufacturing enterprises.”
Yan Xie noted it down quickly as he listened, then he sent a text to Ma Xiang.
“This gang is pretty tightly organized. We currently have at least four members confirmed — the security manager Diao Yong is responsible for guarding and stealing chemical ingredients, the gun manufacturer Chi Rui is responsible for brute force and weapon supply, and the drug dealer Hu Weisheng has off-line distribution channels. There is also a woman who has no clear profession but is related to the Ding family, who’s main purpose is possibly to keep Hu Weisheng hooked. Ding Dang, who is unable to present an alibi, and the owner of the car, Liu Wanqiu, are both greatly suspicious.”
Jiang Ting’s voice when he analyzed clues was always completely steady. No matter how dangerous or urgent a case might be, it would always sound unusually steady from his mouth. No emotions could be heard from it.
It hardly fit with his young and delicately handsome appearance — because the last person who Yan Xie knew with that sort of experienced presence was the head of Jianning’s municipal Public Security Bureau, Chief Lu.
“Other than that, judging from the tracks on the scene last night, there are at least two other kidnappers besides Chi Rui. One of them is a driver who is extremely familiar with the interior of the factory.” Jiang Ting paused. He squinted his eyes slightly as he looked at the work laptop open on the front seat.
The screen was presently replaying the security footage of the factory in the early morning yesterday — the red Toyota Camry avoided all of the cameras in the lit areas. The driver was wearing a mask, gloves, and a sun hat, leaving only an indistinct figure for the investigators as they disappeared into the darkness.
Yan Xie set his gaze on the monitor too, then he sucked in a quiet breath through his teeth.
“All of the people who can come in contact with the monitoring equipment in the chemical enterprise — from ordinary security guards, to engineers, and assistant general managers, even the out-sourced company who installed the cameras for the factory hadn’t been left out; everyone who has the ability to know the location of every security camera has already been checked by the bureau.”
Jiang Ting leaned back in his seat. He furrowed his brows and folded his arms across his chest, then unconsciously rubbed his nape with one hand.
This was only a habit he had when he was thinking. However, when Jiang Ting raised his chin, it made his neck look especially slender from his jawline to his collarbone, and to the lines that reached under his collar. Just by looking at the subtle movements of his fingers rubbing his neck, one could sense the warmth and softness of his skin.
Yan Xie’s Adam’s apple suddenly moved a little, then he averted his gaze in a hurry.
“If no traces of a woman were found at the scene, that means that the female kidnapper was not actually at the scene. So why was her car used?” Jiang Ting murmured, “Could it be that the driver didn’t have his own car? Or perhaps his car was a unique model, so he didn’t dare to drive it carelessly?”
Yan Xie responded perfunctorily. He pretended to be focused on the screen as he pressed the pause key from one second to the next.
“Or could it be that,” Jiang Ting said as if he was absorbed in thought, “the driver’s car would be instantly recognised if it appeared on the security footage within the factory’s range?”
The implication behind this sentence followed through Yan Xie’s nerves to his brain, lightly pricking his most sensitive detective senses like a small needle — the key on the keyboard clacked at that moment, and the screen paused. Yan Xie stared straight at a certain point in the still image.
“…Jiang Ting,” Yan Xie’s voice wavered at the end. “Look at the driver’s gloves.”
Jiang Ting leaned forward slightly. The screen displayed the blurry image of the driving seat which had been enlarged eight times — this was taken at a sharp turn, hence the driver’s hand was right on the top of the steering wheel. Light from the streetlamp cast in from the side, outlining the shape of their glove with more definition.
The glove’s color was rather unique. The fingers were black, while the back of the glove was grey, subtly printed with a bright red brand. The opening of the glove was unusually wide.
Yan Xie asked, “What do you think that looks like?”
Jiang Ting shook his head doubtfully.
“In-su-la-ting gloves,” Yan Xie said, “they were able to read the electricity pathways through the power supply system and locate all of the security cameras. An electric emergency repair truck is very conspicuous, that’s why they had to drive the female kidnapper’s car — Ma Xiang!”
Yan Xie picked up the hand radio and ordered with a strong voice, “Return immediately to the robbed warehouse and search through it again. Try to collect any talc powder scattered from insulating gloves. The second kidnapper might be an electrician of the factory!”
The walkie-talkie buzzed. A few seconds later, Ma Xiang’s urgent voice came through the radio.
“This is bad, Yan Xie. News came from the bureau. That little girl called Ding Dang fooled the officers by giving an excuse, saying she wanted to go to a bathroom in a mall to change clothes…”
“Ding Jiawang’s daughter has escaped!”