Memory Lost (美人为馅): Chapter 24 16


Chapter 24: Sniping Heaven

Bai Jin Xi is standing in front of her desk taking out her belongings from a box and putting them neatly into the drawers.

Her desk faces the entrance directly.  There are people constantly passing by who turn and look inside.  There are even a few male officers who have stopped at the doorway to look at her and smile toward her.

Jin Xi smiles back at them.

After finishing tidying up, she raises her head and looks over.  Han Chen is seating diagonally across from her against the wall.  He’s reading a copy of “Titan Sports Weekly” (sports newspaper).  She had greeted him in the morning on arrival, and he hummed “Mm” to her.

This office has been designated exclusively for the “Black Shield Team.”  Her probation period is six months.  If she passes, she can stay.  She left Jiangchen just yesterday; District Chief and her other colleagues all expressed that they would miss her, but would also support her.

As for Xu Si Bai……

Jin Xi can still recall the smile on his face and the loneliness in his eyes when he sent her off at the train station yesterday.

“If it’s your decision to go, I’ll support it,” is what he said.

Jin Xi gave him a hug.  It was probably the first time they hugged.  When they separated, his face was red.  And she smiled, “Xu Si Bai, I’ll come back to visit you whenever I have time!”

……

“What are you looking at?!”  Qin Wen Long’s voice says coming from doorway.  He smacks away the two male officers standing at the entrance, and then struts inside.

“Don’t mind.  These rascals are just curious to see a fresh face.  They mean no harm,” he says.

Jin Xi replies, “It’s okay.”

But he turns around and kicks Han Chen’s desk, “Yet you don’t bother taking care of it!  What if it scares Jin Xi away?”

Han Chen flips his newspapers, “She doesn’t get scared so easily.”

Jin Xi wants to laugh.  Qin Wen Long has already made it in front of her and smiles looking at her, “Jin Xi, have you gotten used to staying at the dorm?  Just let us know what ever you need.”

“It’s been alright.  I don’t need anything else yet,” Jin Xi answers.

Qin Wen Long nods in satisfaction, and then says, “Criminal Psychology is very important in our Black Shield Team.  You can start working in this area, and after everything has settled down, we will hire two college professors to work part-time here to provide some guidance and assistance to your work.”

“That’s great.”

Qin Wen Long glances at Han Chen, “As for this fellow, he is biased about criminal psychology, so don’t bother about him.  Just treat him as a case solving robot.”  He leaves after finishing talking.

Jin Xi takes a peek at Han Chen, who’s reading the newspapers as if none of this has to do with him, and then clears her throat, “Mm……case solving robot.  (English) Hello, Robot!”  She sounds especially upbeat calling him.

Just as she finishes, Han Chen suddenly throws down his newspapers, gets up, and walks over.

Jin Xi examines him carefully as he comes closer.

He stops right beside her desk, and presses one hand on the top of the table.

“Your immediate boss is me.”

His deep voice ripples in her heart.  But he turns around and leaves.

After a while, three people come in.

Jin Xi stands up smiling, and greets them, “(English) Hello!  Hello!”  She punches Zhou Xiao Zhuan at the end.

The first one is actually the guy who talked endlessly on the day of the ceremony. Xiao Zhuan has nicknamed him “chatterbox.”  Chatterbox’s actual name is rather elegant; he’s called Shi Heng (bestowing gem), and is from another city.  Both Jin Xi and Xiao Zhuan are quite surprised that he got recruited.

Chatterbox immediately explains the reason lively, “The moment I walked into the interviewing room that day, Super Detective Han said: ‘Shi Heng, I know you.  In the whole Province K, no one can recover fingerprints or analyse traces of evidence better than you.  I won’t look at anything else.  If you pass the written test, I’ll have you on my team.’  Holy, Super Detective Han is just incredible.  He knows a talent when he sees one!  In the end, I just passed with a 60 on the written test, hahaha!  Oh yeah, Han Chen is my idol starting today.  No one is allowed to take him away!”

……

The second person on the other hand, is a cold and quiet lad, just like Han Chen, he is wearing a black jacket.  His name is Chi Chen.  He is a drastic contrast from Chatterbox and Xiao Zhuan.  Even when he is greeting them, his face does not show a smile.  Xiao Zhuan has nicknamed him “Cold Face.”  But Jin Xi has heard of him, and respects him very much.  It is said that he is an expert in chasing after criminals; he is the champion of the yearly sniping and wrestling competition.  His investigation skills are also excellent.  Without a doubt, he has great fighting skills, we just don’t know how he compares to Han Chen——because Han Chen has never participated in these competitions.

The last person is obviously Xiao Zhuan.  Han Chen and Qin Wen Long like his attention to detail and his academic achievements; they plan to let him be the “documenter” of the team, as well as having him be the technical support for their computer systems.

These are all of the new members of the “Black Shield Team.”

Han Chen comes back soon after.  The three guys all stand up, so Jin Xi has no choice but to stand up as well.  But Han Chen clearly doesn’t care about formalities as he walks straight to his desk; he doesn’t give any welcome speeches and starts getting busy by himself.

The four of them exchange a few glances and sit back down as well.

Since they’re new, Chatterbox and Xiao Zhuan are both refraining from getting out of hand; they only chit chat every now and then.  “Cold Face” Chi Chen doesn’t even have any desire to chit chat; his face is buried behind his computer.  And Jin Xi is just doing her own things.

The first morning at the Black Shield Team pretty much passes in quietness.

It’s noon time when Han Chen stands up.

Chatterbox stands up right away after him, “Brother Han, are you going for lunch?  Oh, noon has arrived before we know it.  I’m quite hungry.”

Xiao Zhuan adds, “Brother Han, is the food at the cafeteria good?  It’s our first day at the Public Security Bureau, so we don’t really know!  Hehheh.”

Although Cold Face doesn’t say anything, he also stands up looking at Han Chen.

Jin Xi wants to laugh; since Han Chen has always been on his own, he probably didn’t have any plans to eat with them.  It’s unfortunate that the team is too persistent.

Just as she had expected, probably considering that they’re newcomers, Han Chen tilts his head to light up a cigarette, keeps quiet for a few seconds, and then answers, “Let’s go.”

_____

The cafeteria is on the side of the office building.  The five of them walk on the passageway.  As Han Chen’s fan, Chatterbox walks with him on the left; Although Cold Face doesn’t talk much, he walks close by him on the right.  No one knows what his relationship is with Han Chen, but the two of them chat among themselves as they walk.

Jin Xi and Xiao Zhuan follow them from behind.

It’s lunchtime, so there are a lot of people at the cafeteria.  There’s even a line up.  Quite a few people turn around to look at their fresh faces.

Jin Xi and Xiao Zhuan just make it to the end of the line when they hear Han Chen’s voice, “Jin Xi, come here.”

Jin Xi is a bit startled, but Xiao Zhuan immediately pokes her arm, “Go.”  Chatterbox in front of them also says, “Yeah, ladies first.  Go in front of us.”

Jin Xi goes up.  Han Chen glances at her and takes a step back to give her some room.  She slips in line, “Thanks.”

Han Chen doesn’t say anything.

The line moves fast.  Within a few minutes, Jin Xi has already made it to the window where she takes a tray.

“Miss, what would you like?”  Seeing that it’s a pretty girl, the cook’s eyes gleam and he speaks louder than before.

Jin Xi points with her hand, “Pork chop, and potato strips, and two bowls of rice.”

“Okay!”  The cook scoops up the food, and gives her one and a half more servings than anyone else.  Her tray is piled with food.  Jin Xi says sweetly, “Thank you sir!  You’re so nice.”

They haven’t gotten their meal cards yet, so Han Chen reaches over and swipes on her behalf.

“You eat quite a lot,” his voice says beside her ear, “Where have all the fat gone in your body?”

Jin Xi says with a helpless expression, “I have a strange body, there’s no helping it.”

_____

The five of them find a table and sit down.  Probably because they’re not as uptight now, so Chatterbox starts to chit chat non-stop with Xiao Zhuan; Han Chen and Cold Face eat their meals in silence, while Jin Xi joins the conversation every now and then.  When they say something funny, Han Chen and Cold Face would laugh too.

The atmosphere is rather harmonious.

After a while, Jin Xi feels thirsty, so she gets up, “I’m going to buy some drinks.”

Nobody objects.

After Jin Xi leaves, the table continues on with the two of them chit chatting and Han Chen eating his meal with his head down.

He suddenly notices that the chatter has stopped.

Han Chen lifts his head, follows their gazes to look beside him.

Xin Jia.

She, who is the Goddess of Province K’s teachers college, is wearing a green long dress today accompanied by a small white cardigan; making her look slender and elegant, attracting many gazes from around.

She’s holding a big box of delicate mooncakes in her hand standing beside the table smiling slightly.  She smiles towards the few of them.

“Han Chen,” she calls his name.

Han Chen glances at her, and continues eating his meal with his head down, “What’s the matter?”

She places the mooncakes on the empty seat beside him, “It’s the autumn festival soon.  These mooncakes were mailed to my place by Auntie, so I brought them here for you.” (auntie: polite way to address a friend’s mom, or an elder woman around the same age as your mom.)

“Just leave it here.”

The table of guys are not dumb; they can sense Han Chen’s coldness.  Therefore, besides Cold Face, they all politely pretend to be dumb and smile.

Xin Jia smiles towards them, “You guys should give them a try too.”  She then looks at Han Chen, “Auntie says that you should remember to eat your meals on time, and don’t smoke so much.”

Han Chen puts the spoon into his mouth with his eyes looking straight, and doesn’t respond to her.

Xin Jia smiles forcefully, “I’ll be leaving then.”  She nods at the rest of them, “Goodbye.”

_____

Jin Xi is holding a few bottles of drinks; when she lifts her head, she sees a pretty woman turn around and walk away from Han Chen’s side.  Her expression looks rather……complicated.

Jin Xi weighs the bottles in her hands as she slowly walks back, but then she sees a box of mooncakes on her seat.

Han Chen picks them up and puts them on another empty chair.

“Brother Han……the one from just now, is she your girlfriend?” Chatterbox asks courageously.  He’s thinking that the couple must have had a fight; after all, the girl is so pretty.

Jin Xi lowers her head and takes a bite of her pork chop.  Xiao Zhuan stares at Han Chen with his eyes wide.

“No.”

“Oh……”

Han Chen is already finished with eating.  He puts down his spoon, “You guys can split the mooncakes.  There’s no need to save them for me.”

Jin Xi thinks in her head: there’s no need to give me any either.

The table is quiet.  She takes a few more bites, and suddenly feels something strange.

Someone is watching her.

It goes without saying that a criminal investigator’s skills are top notch.  She slowly puts down her spoon, and turns her head.

To her surprise, it’s the woman from just now.

Xin Jia is standing beside a wall not far from the entrance of the cafeteria, watching her from afar.  Maybe it’s due to the lighting, her face seems very pale, and her eyes……they look gloomy, as if they’re full of all kinds of emotions.

Jin Xi stares at her quietly.

And then she sees her eyes getting watery.

Jin Xi turns her head back around and asks Han Chen, “The one from just now, is she your crazy pursuer?”

Her question is direct, causing others to be struck dumb.

Han Chen twists open a water bottle, takes a sip, and answers nonchalantly, “She’s not a bad person, so don’t mind about her.”

They all finish eating soon after.  They carry their trays and walk towards the exit.  Jin Xi notices that Xin Jia is no longer standing at where she was, she has sat down at a table deep in her own thoughts.

Jin Xi slows down her footsteps and falls to the end of the group.  After Han Chen and the others leave the cafeteria, she stuffs both of her hands into her pockets, turns around, and walks to Xin Jia’s back.

“Why were you looking at me before?” she presses her hand onto the table, staring down at her.

Xin Jia’s whole body shakes from being startled.  She looks up and her face blushes and turns pale again.  But her eyes continue to look indifferent.

She snickers, and turns her head to the side, “Who’s looking at you?  Who do you think you are?”

Jin Xi doesn’t bother arguing with her.  She continues to stare at her.

“Lunatic!” Xin Jia grabs her bag on the side, turns around, and leaves through the doors on the other side.

Jin Xi watches her back.

Is it because she saw her with Han Chen and got jealous, so she was looking at her full of bitterness?

Jin Xi walks towards the exit, but immediately sees Han Chen standing there.  He is still holding the bottle of water as he looks in her direction and drinks from it slowly.  It looks like he saw their interaction just now.

Jin Xi stops at his side and spreads out her hands, “I’m sorry.  It looks like I made your confidante cried.”

Han Chen throws the empty bottle into the trash can, “She’s not my confidante.”

Jin Xi can’t help but press her lips together as she walks out.

Han Chen follows behind her.  After a few steps, he suddenly turns his head and looks thoughtfully in the direction of where Xin Jia left.

_____

Just when they make it upstairs, Han Chen is summoned by Qin Wen Long on the phone.  Jin Xi returns to the office by herself.  Once she arrives at the door, she sees Chatterbox holding a bunch of his own stuff and walking around her desk.

“What are you doing?” she asks.

Chatterbox puts the things in his hands down, “We’re switching seats.”

“Why?”

“Leader said so.  When we left the cafeteria, he told me to.” Chatterbox smiles, “It’s probably so that I could be closer to him!”

“Oh.”

After a while, she sits down at her new spot, and suddenly realizes……

This desk is against the wall, and has it’s back towards the door.

People who walk pass in the hallway will not be able to see her.

She suddenly feels delighted.

After they’ve sat down for a while, they see Han Chen and Qin Wen Long walk inside.

Han Chen walks directly to his desk, picks up his jacket, and puts it on.  Qin Wen Long tosses a file onto Xiao Zhuan’s desk, “There’s a gun shooting case that just happened at noontime today at the Ruili area in the East side of the city.  The victim is a civilian.”

Jin Xi and the others are stunned.

Gun shooting case?

In many criminal cases, the chances of a gun shooting event happening is very low.  It’s because in China, firearms are heavily regulated.  A person can only obtain one from the black market, or a shotgun that has been hidden by another criminal from many years ago or the like.

Qin Wen Long’s smile on his face seems colder, “Yesterday at noon, in another area in the East that’s not far away, a gun shooting case also occurred.  The victim was also a civilian.  Based on the findings from the scene and the ballistic analysis, the shooter is the same person using the same gun.  Therefore, the East city district has transferred this case to our provincial criminal investigation team.  Black Shield Team, your first case is here.”

_____

Ruili is a semi-new commercial building area.  Looking at it from afar, some of the paint has fallen from the buildings’ walls, but they look tidy nonetheless.  The deceased victim, Chen Xi Xian, lives on the 8th floor.

It’s almost thirty minutes since the shooting has happened.  A few police cars are parked downstairs, the area has been sealed with police tapes, and there are a number of onlookers.

The instant that Jin Xi walks into the scene, her eyebrows furrow; there’s an awful bad and sour smell; the kind that has been stuffed inside for several days.

Han Chen is standing beside her as he and Chatterbox put on their gloves and walk inside.  Xiao Zhuan and Cold Face also spreads out to start examining the area.

Jin Xi walks slowly to the dead body.

This is a very simple looking apartment; take out boxes, plastic bags, and water bottles are piled everywhere in the living room.  The blanket is scrunched up messily on the sofa……there’s almost not a place that is clean; clearly showing that the homeowner is down and out, and very dirty.

The way he died is also frightening.

Chen Xi Xian, twenty-three years old, jobless, and has a record of being high on drugs.  He’s average in height, and a slim body.  His hair is a bit long.

At this moment, his face is facing upwards with his body lying on the dirty couch.  There’s a splat of blood on the left chest area of his shirt; a small hole can be seen——evident that a bullet has gone through.  His eyes are still wide open, staring at the ceiling.  His left arm is resting on the couch, and his right hand is still holding a potato chip.  A fly is resting on the chip.  There’s a cell phone beside him with earbuds plugged in; the sound of noisy music can be heard faintly from it.

Jin Xi looks at him in silence.  She turns her head and looks across the window.

There’s a small hole on the glass window; already marked with a circle by an officer.

It’s where the bullet entered the place.

Han Chen and the others finish taking a look around and come to the dead body.  Zhou Xiao Zhuan flips open the file in his hand, and says, “The bullet shell found at the scene has already been sent to the lab for analysis, but based on preliminary findings, it’s from the same gun as yesterday’s shooting.  Furthermore, the victim from yesterday was also shot in the chest.  The results of the ballistic analysis indicate that the bullet was shot from an American Barrett M82A1 rifle.  And this firearm has been in used for at least a few years’ time.”

Chatterbox mumbles, “Barrett M82A1?  The king of sniping weapon?”

“Yes,” Xiao Zhuan answers, “Additionally, yesterday’s victim was a forty-year-old jobless male civilian named Zhou Chang Geng.  According to the East city district station’s preliminary findings, these two victims do not know each other, and they have no interactions with each other.  In both crime scenes, besides the bullet shells, there are no other traces.  There are also no possessions stolen.”

“This case is very troublesome,” Cold Face, who’s been quiet all this time, says suddenly.

The group doesn’t know what to say.  Han Chen is standing the closest to the dead body.  He’s looking down with this sleeves rolled up and his hands wearing black gloves are hanging on both sides of his body.

“Jin Xi,” he calls her.

He hasn’t said anything, but Jin Xi hums, “Mm,” and says, “Cold Face is right……”

Cold Face suddenly lifts his head and looks at her.  Jin Xi realizes what she has just called him, so she immediately corrects herself, but she can’t recall his name, so she says ambiguously, “……he’s right, this case is very troublesome.

Serial shooting cases have happened domestically and abroad.  Domestically, an earlier example would be the incidents that happened in 1997, which the Interpol listed it as the third most important case, calling it the ‘Bai Baoshan’ case.  More recently, there was the ‘Zhou Kehua’ case that shook the entire nation. But these shootings and serial killers from inside the country all had a common trait: they were mainly after money, seeking revenge, or were attempting to escape.  They used stolen firearms, shotguns kept in secret, or homemade guns.  And some of them had a background in the military.  In any case, the serial shooters in China were basically all ‘ruthless’ bumpkins.

On the other hand, there are more serial shooters abroad, and they are more professional.  Most of them have a military or police background.  Some of them are even psychopaths, killing people randomly.

Our case at hand shows that the killer seems to be killing people randomly.  But at the same time, he’s different from those famous serial shooters from abroad.”

Jin Xi pauses, and continues in a low voice, “This killer is even more vicious.  It’s because he used a Barrett M82A1 which is quite impossible for an ordinary person to obtain.  Our police and military forces also don’t use this model of weapon.  He has used this gun for some years’ time and his work is smooth and clean.  This indicates that he could very well be a professional killer.

It’s not that China doesn’t have any professional killers, but they are very small in number.  They usually keep their identities a secret, hide in the dark, and are very far away from normal people’s lives——this is the standard of their profession.  In the past few years, some cases of wealthy men or politicians being shot dead have gone unsolved, and they have all been done by these killers.  It’s just that, professional killers have always worked for money.  Their mind is very calm and restrained, and would definitely not interact with civilians.  But looking at this case, this professional killer has suddenly walked into the sunlight for some unknown reason, and has started killing randomly.”

She looks up at them, “He could be a psychopath now.  This means that as long as he desires, this whole city will be his hunting ground.”


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