Chapter 28: Soaring Little Bird
The crime scene of the third victim, Chen Can Lan, is just like the previous two incidents.
At noon time, the victim died from a shot in the chest. This wealthy girl had just woken up from bed at the time. But she met her death after walking a few steps.
The Black Shield Team’s office.
Han Chen, Bai Jin Xi, Chatterbox, and Cold Face all have a cigarette in their hand, taking a smoke every now and then while they flip through the information gathered at the scene. Xiao Zhuan is chewing hard on his gum with a solemn expression.
“There are no interactions between the three victims, and they have not appeared in the same event before,” Han Chen puts down the file, and looks around him, “There is only one thing that links them together to T——”
Jin Xi finishes for him, “The internet.”
Chatterbox asks doubtfully, “But other than Chen Can Lan’s incident that caused an uproar online, the previous two victims were ordinary civilians. How did T find out that they caused someone else to lose their life?”
Han Chen inhales his cigarette, and then points and taps on the table, “And how did we find out?”
Everyone is silent.
“The Zhou Family! And Zheng Cheng Zhi’s younger brother, Zheng Cheng Da!” Xiao Zhuan says in shock, “Could it be that they told T? But how did they come to know T?”
Han Chen stares towards the peaceful scenery outside the window, “We’ll find out once we invite them over for questioning.”
The Zhou Family is brought back to the station first.
Following Jin Xi’s advice, the three members of the family are each brought into separate rooms for questioning. Just as she had thought, Mr. and Mrs. Zhou are completely unaware of the existence of “T.” They are just as surprised to hear about Chen Xi Xian’s death.
Jin Xi, carrying two cups of coffee, walks into the room with Zhou Family’s youngest daughter, Zhou Si Lin.
Jin Xi had felt something strange about this girl when they met the first time. Now that she thinks about it, a nineteen-year-old like her is definitely more familiar with the internet than her parents and has a greater chance of meeting T and telling him about her older sister’s death.
Zhou Si Lin is still young nonetheless, so she seems to be very nervous; her fingers slide up and down the cup of coffee non-stop. But at the same time, she seems determined.
Jin Xi takes a sip from her coffee, and asks, “How did you meet him?”
The question catches her off guard. After being stunned for a while, she answers, “Who? Who are you referring to?”
Zhou Si Lin keeps quiet for a few seconds, “I don’t know. I don’t know that person.”
Jin Xi puts the coffee down. She leans forward and stares directly at her, “Si Lin, right now, this person named T is carrying a sniper rifle and sniping people in the city. He has already killed three people, including Chen Xi Xian. Perhaps you feel that Chen Xi Xian deserved to die, but did you know? T used to be a professional killer, and it’s very possible that he is no longer mentally stable. To put it simply, he might be killing people who deserve to die right now, but if we let him continue, who knows when he’ll start killing innocent people?”
Zhou Si Lin bites on her lower lip and doesn’t say anything.
“I know that you’re thankful to him, and want to protect him,” Jin Xi says slowly, “but if you tell us now, you’ll actually be helping him before he commits more wrongdoings. You don’t want T to become an out of control serial killer and be despised by everybody, do you?”
Based on the information provided by Zhou Si Lin, Xiao Zhuan and Jin Xi immediately log into the biggest forum of City Lan: White Crane of Yangtze BBS.
And after being interrogated by the police, Zheng Cheng Da, who has been keeping his mouth shut, has finally given in to the pressure and admitted that he spoke to T on this BBS before.
Without much effort, Xiao Zhuan quickly finds the posts written by Zhou Si Lin and Zheng Cheng Da.
Just like other well-known forums, people on the White Crane of Yangtze BBS often make posts about real life problems or express injustice or unfairness issues, hoping that they would receive attention and help from others. It’s just that there are too many “injustice” posts these days. The netizens have probably become numb from reading them. Therefore, besides some hot topics, other posts are not read by many. Some of them are even made fun of by others.
Zhou Si Lin and Zheng Cheng Da are examples.
In Zhou Si Lin’s topic post, she criticizes how Chen Xi Xian had treated her now deceased older sister, and writes directly: when her sister returned home after being raped, her sister once told her that she saw another person’s shadow in the alleyway and believed that it looked like Chen Xi Xian. Her sister was heartbroken and hopeless, but forbid her from telling their parents. Her sister has now died from a car accident, and she has no evidence of what happened that day, so she has no way of taking revenge on Chen Xi Xian. She hopes that members of the forum can condemn this heartless drug addict bastard.
There are only about a hundred replies. Most of them express support and condolences, but some make fun and bashes, saying that her older sister is too stupid, or that she made up the story to grab attention. Someone even replies with: little girl, post up a photo. If you don’t post a photo, how do we know that you’re for real?
T’s reply is about 80 posts after. The user ID is “T”, while Zhou Si Lin’s ID is “LonelySoaringBird”.
“T: Is what you say true?
LonelySoaringBird: If any part of it is false, I’ll die an ugly death!
T: I understand.”
Zhou Si Lin’s post is from some day in March. About four to five days later, T comes back and posts.
“T: He will be punished.
LonelySoaringBird: Who are you?”
T doesn’t respond.
On Zheng Cheng Da’s topic post, the conversation between the two of them is very similar.
“T: Is what you say true?
ExpertSelf: I swear on my life! That is my mom! I don’t care about the compensation from taking down the house. I won’t take a penny of it. My mom can’t just die like this!
T: He will be punished.
ExpertSelf: What do you mean?
ExpertSelf: Where did you go?”
Just as they had thought, what happened to the third victim, Chen Can Lan, has also been posted onto the forum. But this topic is particularly popular; it has many replies, but not one from T.
Xiao Zhuan immediately searches through all the posts in the forum. The outcome is a surprise——in the past year, T has replied to a total of 13 topics.
Everyone in the Black Shield Team office is carrying a stern expression.
“So……” Chatterbox speaks, “starting tomorrow, we have to ensure the safety of 13 people?”
Xiao Zhuan flips through the information, and answers, “No, it’s 9. There are 4 who has either died last year or has been sentenced to jail.”
Chatterbox says softly, “This guy is actually carrying out justice on behalf of the society. Sigh!”
The other four stares at him and doesn’t comment.
Han Chen presses his cigarette down, and stands up, “I’m going to talk to the police chief. Tell everyone to be on guard.”
It’s been 6 hours since Chen Can Lan’s death. There are still 18 hours before T will snipe another person.
Jin Xi is exhausted as she pushes open the office door. She has just come back from the police station in the West district, where they worked together on a protection plan to protect the two targets in the area.
With 9 possible targets, the workload is tremendous. Not only that they have to protect them for 24 hours, they also have to be on an alert for high building locations in order to catch T when he comes tomorrow.
But the fact that they can shrink the area of focus, it’s already a very big breakthrough. It feels as if they’re only a step away from cracking the case.
Chatterbox and the others have gone to other city districts to prepare. There is nobody in the office. Jin Xi takes off her hat, sits for a while, gets up, and pushes open the door to the conference room.
But the moment she lifts her head, she sees someone inside.
Han Chen has both of his hands in his pockets standing in front of the whiteboard when he turns around to look at her.
“Everything is done at the West District?”
“Mm,” Jin Xi walks to his side. She presses her hands onto the table and gets herself up to sit on top of it. She stares at the whiteboard with him.
There’s a full map of the city on the left side of the whiteboard. There are red circles drawn on it, marking where the nine possible targets will be at 12pm tomorrow. It also shows the location of where the previous three victims were killed. Their photos are all stuck on to the right side of the whiteboard.
Jin Xi asks, “You want to decrease the target area further?”
Han Chen leans towards the table. He lowers his head and lights up a cigarette, “Mm.”
“Have you found anything so far?”
With the cigarette in his mouth, Han Chen rolls up his right arm sleeve with his left hand and picks up the pen from the table. The long and thin pen makes his hand look even more slender and pretty. He’s staring at the map in full concentration, making his side profile look even more distinctive.
Jin Xi is captivated by him. She takes a sip of the tea before shifting her gaze to the map.
He draws three circles near where the three victims were.
“There have been other cases involving deaths at these locations, so we would definitely guard them closely with many police patrolling. Therefore, he won’t choose another target in these areas,” he says.
Jin Xi follows his pen. Besides the three victims, there are two targets that are in the circles.
She nods, “Therefore, there is a very low chance that these two people will be chosen tomorrow.”
There are still seven left.
Han Chen takes a breath from his cigarette. He tilts his head to look at her, “Miss criminal psychologist, what do you think?”
He says this in a gentle yet mocking kind of voice. Jin Xi can’t tell if he is making fun of her like he usually does or if he is really asking her. She thinks for a moment, takes the pen from his hand, stands in front of the whiteboard, and circles two people from the group of photos.
“The first victim, Zheng Cheng Zhi, was unfilial, disregarded his family, and killed his mother. The second victim, Chen Xi Xian, was disloyal to his love, and ruined his girlfriend,” she looks up at the photo, “Just look. In the other seven, one of them has been accused of abusing his daughter and indirectly causing her to be kidnapped. One of them is a husband who had an affair, causing his wife to have a miscarriage and die due to too much stress. And another one is someone who was playing at work and neglected his responsibilities, causing his coworker to die from an accident. But because he is the son of the corporate executive, someone else became the scapegoat. This one, and this one……” she points to two other photos, “are also similar. These five people have events related to either family members or other responsibilities, like the previous three victims.”
“But these two remaining individuals……” she points to the two photos that she has circled, “The first one is the vice-principal of a high school, where he is rumored to have sexually harassed a young female student when he was working in the county. However, the student later fell into the water by accident and the incident was forgotten. And because he had an exceptional record, he was transferred over to this city. Even though he is an educator, he has no morals.”
Han Chen listens to her analysis as he smokes.
“There’s another one that’s an old director of a small business company. He has reportedly participated in violent acts of demolishing buildings, and indirectly caused deaths. For the sake of financial gains, he took all lengths. It’s just that as time goes by, there is no longer any direct evidence,” she says slowly, “‘Punishment’ carries a sense of ‘warning.’ It’s impossible for T to kill every person who is like this, and he also can’t guarantee that he can kill all of his targets. Therefore, if I were him, I would kill someone who’s more typical.”
Both of them are in silence.
Jin Xi’s throat is dry from all the talking. Her eyes are still on the whiteboard as she reaches for the cup.
But just when she touches the side of the cup, she feels a cool finger come in contact with the back of her hand.
Her heart shakes as she turns her head to look.
Han Chen also turns to look. His expression is calm and his pair of eyes is rich dark brown.
They’re both reaching for the cup in the middle of the table, so their hands have come into contact.
Jin Xi smiles and picks the cup up before him; the back of her hand brushes past the palm of his hand.
“Go pour your own cup……” before she finishes, she looks at the cup in her hand and realizes that when she came in, she wasn’t carrying a cup with her.
Han Chen reaches over and takes it away while she falls into a daze.
“Pour your own cup if you’re thirsty,” he sends the words back to her.
“Wait!” She hops down from the table and reaches out her hand to grab the cup. But Han Chen immediately grasps her wrist with one hand while lifting the cup up to his mouth to drink with the other.
This fellow! He’s bullying her on purpose again, isn’t he? Jin Xi is speechless as she tries to grab the cup with her other hand, “This cup of tea……”
But he quickly reaches forward and uses a grappling fighting technique; he locks both of her wrists with one hand. Jin Xi was already standing close to begin with, and now her whole body is almost up against his after their brief fight. As if he doesn’t notice their distance, he calmly tilts his head and drinks all the tea in the cup slowly.
Jin Xi’s heart pounds as her hands are being grasped by him and are unable to break free. He throws the empty paper cup onto the table before releasing her. It’s as if they are just joking around like any normal coworkers. He fetches a cigarette, puts it in his mouth, and leaves without saying anything.
Jin Xi stands in the conference room by herself. She rubs the part of her wrists that were held onto by him; they actually hurt a bit.
When she first came to City Lan, she wasn’t sure about her feelings for him. Once she joined the Black Shield Team, they received a serial sniper case, making them busy every day, so whatever she felt in her heart was thrown to the back of her mind. Many times, she would have the same thoughts as him and would admire his ability. Unlike in the beginning, where her heart would beat fast just from the sight of him, they’ve become closer and have a better understanding of each other. This feeling is also good too.
But when they were fooling around just now, why did her heart beat so fast?
Han Chen exits the conference room and returns to his seat.
He waits for a while with the cigarette in his hand but notices that she still hasn’t come out.
He unbuttons the top of his shirt as he smokes while looking at the sky outside.
His cell phone rings.
Chatterbox sounds extremely excited, “Haha Leader! Hurry and praise me. Praise me quick! I know whom the killer is after tomorrow!”
Han Chen smiles, “Is it that vice principal or the Director of a small business company?”
“Huh? How did you know?!” Chatterbox is even more worked up now. He speaks quickly and slurs, “My Super Detective is my Super Detective!…..It’s the vice principal! I questioned him thoroughly, asking him if there has been anything that has happened out of the ordinary, even if it is minuscule! I even told him that the previous victims were all shot in the chest. He was scared out of his chair. He said that four days ago, he was shot with red paint on the left side of his chest. He thought it was just a prank. I’ve asked the other targets, and none of them have experienced the same thing so far. It’s possible that T hasn’t sent them this red-coloured death notice yet! Too bad that the previous three victims can’t speak anymore. I wonder if they were also shot with red paint before. But I think they definitely had been……”
Han Chen hangs up and walks to the conference room’s entrance again.
Jin Xi has her chin resting in her hand while sitting on the table with her back towards him; she’s deep in her own thoughts. She’s clearly a beautiful girl, yet her gestures and personality are like a guy. To add to that, she’s also quite full of herself.
“Bai Jin Xi.”
Jin Xi turns to look at him.
He stuffs both of his hands into his pockets, turns around, and walks outside, “Come with me. Let’s see if your guess is right.”
Noon of the next day.
In the vice principal’s office on the top floor at Shi Lan Ying high school’s office building.
Vice Principal Luo Kai Fang, who is one of the chosen targets and is also suspected to have harassed a female student, has already been safely taken away by the police. He will be closely guarded for 24 hours, as well as interrogated for the past event.
The weather is very good today. It’s sunny, and no wind; best for sniping.
All possible sniping locations in the area around the office building are closely watched by the police. As soon as T appears in any of these locations, he will be arrested. And in the school area, police officers in disguise are walking around the main passageways; being on an alert of anybody who passes by. The roads and highways around the school are also under surveillance; the moment that the black C-Quatre appears, they will have the target locked on.
Inside the principal’s office, a young officer whose body figure looks exactly like Luo Kai Fang has a bullet proof vest on; the makeup on his face is professionally done to disguise as the principal. He is sitting behind the desk reading the newspaper; playing his part as the bait.
The members of the Black Shield Team are hiding in a company van, observing the surroundings via the many surveillance camera video monitors.
The clock ticks. It’s almost 12pm.
Sweat is dripping inside every officer’s heart.
Every member of the Black Shield Team is highly concentrated and on full alert.
They are all thinking about the same question——
Will T really appear?
Will the professional killer, who has only appeared in rumors, carry a sniping rifle, walk into their world, and appear in front of them?
Chapter 28: Soaring Little Bird