Chapter 32: My Hero
The phone hangs up.
The office is silent.
After a while, Chatterbox curses out loud, “F–k.”
Xiao Zhuan can feel his heart beating out of his chest. He turns around, but sees Bai Jin Xi with a sarcastic smile and not a hint of nervousness.
He looks at Han Chen in the front, who originally had his hands pressed onto the table, and he’s now slowly standing straight with a calm look on his face. The subtle smile at the corners of his mouth is very much like Bai Jin Xi’s.
That’s right. These two are quite bold, so why would they be scared of T’s threat, right?
Xiao Zhuan unexpectedly starts to feel relieved.
Qin Wen Long says to Han Chen, “This is a very serious matter. Come with me to report this to the police chief immediately.”
But Han Chen looks down at his watch and says, “No time. Jin Xi and I need to go there right away.” Qin Wen Long thinks for a second, and nods, “Okay. Let’s split up. I’ll talk to the special police unit to see what’s the best way to invade Mountain Wulin and rescue the hostages. You guys head out first. If we can invade, we’ll take action right away. We must not let T lead us by the nose!”
Han Chen nods, turns around and looks at the four of them.
Chatterbox and Xiao Zhuan say at the same time, “We’re going too!” Cold Face also takes a step forward.
“No, you guys have to stay here. Research everything about this competition and its participants, as well as Mountain Wulin. Cold Face, work with the special unit team to come up with a plan.”
“……Yes, Sir.” “Okay.” “I understand.”
Han Chen’s gaze falls onto Bai Jin Xi again.
Jin Xi stares into his rich dark brown eyes and smiles. She fetches the jacket hanging on the seat and puts it on, “Let’s go.”
A landrover with flashing lights speeds through the highway, passing one car after another.
Jin Xi is sitting quietly in the passenger seat. She adjusts the rear mirror, brushes her hair, and then takes out a wet napkin and wipes her face.
Han Chen watches her until she finishes and adjusts the rear mirror back in place.
“You have quite the time. You’re not afraid of dying?”
“Of course I am.” Jin Xi leans back on the luxurious seat and responds lazily, “But have you not heard of the saying? At critical times, a woman needs to have even more composure in order to grasp the situation.”
She is actually a bit nervous, but being nervous doesn’t help anything. Therefore, she’s trying her best to relax, so the way she talks also seems upbeat.
With his hands on the steering wheel, Han Chen reveals a smile with his eyes on the road.
“Mm, it makes sense.”
It’s afternoon. The sun pierces through the car windows. After driving for a while, he glances at her.
Under the bright sunlight, her face seems even fairer white and refreshing. Her fringes do look tidier after she brushed them with her hands, revealing her eyebrows under them; her facial features are even more captivating. But her seating position is nowhere near being refined; she’s leaning crookedly with her arms lowered on each side.
He taps his finger lightly on the steering wheel and shifts his eyes away.
Jin Xi’s tablet makes a sound. She takes it out from her bag. She swipes the screen a few times and stares at it with full concentration, “Xiao Zhuan has sent the information over!”
She tells Han Chen as she reads, “They’ve found the info. This competition was organized and sponsored by someone on the CS forum three months ago. There’s also a very big monetary reward, which attracted a lot of people to sign up. In the end, the organizer picked eight members to participate. Xiao Zhuan and the IT team is already working on tracking down the sponsor’s IP, but just like the previous few times, they might not find anything.”
She lifts her head and her eyes meet Han Chen’s.
Without a doubt, it’s possible that this mysterious sponsor is T.
“Furthermore, the sponsor did not announce the final list of participants and details on the forum, so Xiao Zhuan and the others are still investigating.”
Han Chen nods.
They both are quiet for a while before he says, “There are two important details from T’s words today.”
Jin Xi nods, “The first is the word, ‘outcome.’ He said: ‘at that time, no matter what the outcome is.’ This means that he wants to have an outcome through this event. This outcome may be the truth to something or a punishment to some people. At this point, the people that T wants to punish must be from those eight participants. And T may be hiding in the dark, watching everything that’s happening on the mountain, or he may be one of the eight participants too.”
She closes her eyes, “Just imagine: when the sound of a gunshot is heard, everyone will think that it’s a game, but someone will fall to the ground from being shot, and the killer is among us. The fear of dying will engulf each one of us——he purposely organized this competition, ‘Battle Royal.’ It shows that someone from the group of participants has once brought him or his loved one this kind of fear and hurt.”
Han Chen nods, “Let Xiao Zhuan and Chatterbox focus on investigating all the cases and incidents related to CS for the last few years.”
“Okay,” she opens her eyes and looks at him, “And why do you think he insisted us two to participate?”
Han Chen doesn’t answer, but asks instead, “Have you done anything against your conscience before?”
“Of course not.”
Han Chen grabs the water bottle beside the chair, takes a sip, and places it down again, “That’s fine then. Nothing will happen to us.”
Jin Xi smiles and lets out a soft “Mm.”
“Even if something happens to us, I will protect you,” he says with his eyes looking straight.
Jin Xi keeps quiet for a few seconds before responding, “Don’t be so confident of yourself. We don’t know who’s going to be protecting whom in the end.”
He turns and takes a look at her, “Alright. You can protect me.”
Jin Xi bursts in laughter.
They remain silent for a while until she says, “Two police officers will be participating in this battle royal, yet they can’t reveal their identities and can only watch him carry out punishment——this must be very exciting to any serial killer.
The second point he mentioned was ‘turn himself in.’ If he really does, it means that he also agrees that he has committed a crime and will accept the responsibility. Perhaps he’s also struggling with contradictions deep inside his heart. The fact that he specifically requested for us to participate means that he clearly knows us well. Maybe he hopes that we can expose the truth and stop him from continuing with killing others.”
4:30pm. The provincial Criminal Investigation Team’s office.
Qin Wen Long, the special unit team leader, Cold Face, and other station chiefs are hovering at the map on the table and discussing quietly with each other.
Even after prolonged discussions, the special unit team leader continues to shake his head; Cold Face is expressionless, but his forehead is covered with sweat.
“That won’t do,” the special unit team leader points to a spot on the map, “This is the entrance to Mountain Wulin. T will definitely have installed many surveillance cameras and detectors there. It’ll be too difficult to execute our action plan from the front. It will put the hostages in danger.”
“The other three sides of Mountain Wulin are encompassed by forests and the lake. There’s no way for us to get in. If we send troops to climb the mountain, it’ll take at least two days for them to get to the valley. If we use helicopters, it’ll be too noisy. T will definitely notice right away.”
The Branch Police Chief is silent for a moment before he stands up and says in a serious voice, “Do we really have no other way but to let those two walk into danger? Is there really no other way that you can think of?!”
Qin Wen Long thinks for a moment, and then raises his head to look at everybody, “Chief, we can give this a try. Han Chen and Bai Jin Xi have skills that are good enough to be part of the special unit team and are very strong at investigating. I have great confidence that they will be able to make a break from the inside, collaborate with us, rescue the hostages, and capture T.”
5pm on the dot.
The entrance to Mountain Wulin is actually a narrow and rugged road. Cars can just manage to get through, but if they fall over, it is a bottomless cliff.
Several police cars are crowding at the entrance. Over ten officers are observing the surroundings carefully, especially the mountain forest up ahead.
Han Chen and Bai Jin Xi are standing behind the crowd. An IT officer is handing them a mini signal gun, “Keep this safe. Once we receive a signal, special forces and forest armed police force will take action immediately.”
“Okay,” Han Chen glances at Bai Jin Xi beside him, “Let’s go.”
They pass through the cars and the crowd and start walking on the empty mountain road.
Just after a few steps, the police officers behind them shout out: “Watch your safety!” “Take care!” “Good luck!”
Han Chen pauses before continuing walking. Jin Xi puts her hand behind her back with her thumb up.
Xiao Zhuan has already sent both of them the basic info of Mountain Wulin an hour ago. Not many people know about this mountain, but searching it on the internet will reveal that it has a very complex landscape with steep slopes; many cases of mudslides between May and October. It’s the dangerous season right now. In the past few years, there have been backpackers who have been in danger.
The sun is setting at the far away mountain top; the dense forest is blocking most of the light. It’s very cool and damp here, and quiet as if nobody is around. After walking for ten or so minutes, the road ends. There’s only the rough and bumpy slope with grass and weeds.
Han Chen has already taken a look at the map. He looks ahead for a second and then squats down. The soil is soft and there are few scattered footsteps. He stares at it for a while before getting up and looking ahead at the tall standing mountain: “Get ready to climb.”
He doesn’t move though. After being silent for a moment, he turns to the side to look at her.
Jin Xi: “What’s the matter?”
Under the setting sun with his arms resting on both sides, the contours of his side profile are cut out even more clearly. He suddenly reaches out his arm and pulls Jin Xi into his embrace. Her face is pressed lightly against his shirt; she can hear his heartbeat.
“Bai Jin Xi, you must follow me always. We must go in together, and come out together. Do you understand?”
He lets go, turns around, and starts climbing up the mountain.
It’s not until an hour of climbing when they finally see a large area of grass. To their surprise, there are actually two big green boxes on the ground. They look at each other and walk up to them. The boxes are not sealed. Han Chen opens them up. They both contain a highly realistic AK47 laser tag gun, a set of camouflage clothes, a pair of boots, and a knife. There’s also a backpack full of essential items for survival: a compass, biscuits, beef, a military canteen full of water, a sleeping bag, helmet, etcetera.
They change into the camouflage clothes and boots; they fit just right. They carry their backpacks and guns and continue walking ahead.
They walk for another hour and after passing through the foggy forest, they come to a small open valley. They can hear the sound of a water stream.
A shabby and dilapidated house stands in front of them. The door is open and they can see clearly a room full of people sitting inside. Hearing the noise, they all turn to look at them.
“They’re finally here,” someone says grinning, “These two highly skilled experts sure knows how to make us wait.”
Chapter 32: My Hero