Chapter 12 – Wanted
Grandma Wang looked at Qing Linglong, who descended the stairs, and signaled her subtly with a movement of the eyebrow. Qing Linglong approached Eyeglasses and pretended to be reading the information on the monitor. Eyeglasses’s lips quirked and he pushed his glasses up; the three became quite light-hearted with the thought of everything progressing smoothly. However, their relaxed looks quickly changed into concern as Qing Qiaoqiao’s voice came out of their earbuds, and, a second later, into consternation.
‘No… That big of a problem… But… Why? How could this happen?’
The three exchanged glances of bafflement.‘The camouflager killed Guo Xiang? What does this have to do with him?’
All three fully appreciated the gravity of the situation, because there was no reason for the camouflager to commit an unmotivated act: a problem must have existed elsewhere. ‘But where?’ None of them could think of anything.
“Leave, now.” Qing Linglong showed her usual decisiveness, and the three left in a hurry, without even leaving time for Eyeglasses to pack up the equipment he brought.
* * *
Ji Xiaoqin sat on the edge of a parterre across the street from the hotel, wrapped in a hospital blanket. A doctor was taking her pulse while three police officers, who, judging by their epaulettes, were highly ranked, stood right before her.
“Ms. Ji, May I ask about your relationship with the victim, Guo Xiang?” one of the officers asked her while taking her ID out of her wallet to match the picture.
“We’re… Friends.” Ji Xiaoqin eyes wandered around, pausing briefly on the patrol cars, the ambulances and the firefighter trucks across the street; the people dressed in different uniforms who were busy with their respective tasks, but could not focus on a single spot for longer than a few moments.
“How did Guo Xiang and you get into that room? There were no records of your arrival at the front desk of the hotel.”
“I… I don’t know…I was at the bar…”
“What do you mean, you don’t know? You were in the same room as your friend, who had a blade through his skull, and there were twenty bullet holes in the wall, an M4 with the safe open!” One of the officers shook his arms agitatedly and pointed at the other side of the street. “Do you see that? That’s a portable anti-tank rocket launcher, a rocket launcher! The kind that can blow up a tank!”
“Officer Zhang, the patient’s mental state is very unstable, you…” The medical staff immediately intervened.
“Zhang, don’t get too excited.” The officer with the highest rank pulled on his colleague and asked Ji Xiaoqin in an affable voice. “Did you see someone kill him?”
Ji Xiaoqin’s pupils finally constricted, and she threw a terrified look at the officer, but nodded through her trembling.
“Do you know the murderer?”
Ji Xiaoqin nodded again.
“Li… Li Yiming.”
* * *
Guo Tai sat on his office chair and played around with a Lantian1 jade pendant. A thin layer of skin from his thumb had already peeled off from all the rubbing, but Guo Tai was oblivious to it and simply stared at a note on the desk, on which one word was written in a bloody crimson. Confession. He thought back on his entire life over the last few minutes, the schemes, all the efforts he made, the birth of his son, and the passing away of his wife… Guo Tai hesitated.
He remained in a trance-like state until his thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of the telephone on his desk. He picked up the receiver. “What?” He jumped up and his finger joints whitened from the force with which he clasped the object.
“Li Yiming! Even if I shall be ruined, I’ll shred your body into ten thousand pieces…” The piece of Lantian jade, worth millions, shattered and fragments of it punctured Guo Tai’s left palm as he smashed the marble table.
* * *
Li Yiming leaned against the bed. After drinking Grandma Wang’s medicine, aside from an overall soreness, he had mostly recovered.
“This is what happened…” Qing Qiaoqiao stood right next to the bed and narrated. Grandma Wang and Qing Linglong sat on the sofa facing her while Eyeglasses browsed for news about the police investigation on his tablet.
“Makes no sense…”
“There’s no reason…”
Grandma Wang and Qing Linglong had nearly identical anxieties after hearing the tale. They exchanged a glance and sank back into their own thoughts. ‘Regardless of how you look at it, there’s simply no reason for the camouflager to kill Guo Xiang, unless… The rules?’
“The rules have changed once again…” Grandma Wang shut her eyes in powerless frustration. ‘This many complications in a low level domain?’
“The municipal office has deemed this a terrorist attack and reported the incident to State Security, it seems like these two will be famous now…” Eyeglasses touched his chin with one hand and pushed the tablet towards Qing Linglong with a rather amused look.
“A-level wanted?” Qing Linglong glanced at the screen and pushed the tablet towards Grandma Wang.
An internal page was pulled from the police commissariat’s internal system. The relevant information about Li Yiming and Qing Qiaoqiao was posted on screen, along with ID pictures and a note commenting the following. “Extremely dangerous, carrying heavy weapons. Five-star risk factor, admissible to elimination without permission.”
“Let me have a look, let me see!” Qing Qiaoqiao gabbed the tablet. “Huh… Wow, I look ugly in that picture… Haha! Li Yiming, is that from high school? Cute.”
“Do you not care a single bit?” Li Yiming was slightly annoyed by her reaction. ‘We’re wanted now, the admissible-to-elimination kind of wanted. How many people in this world have the luxury of receiving that kind of treatment? How can she act as if nothing happened?’
“What’s there to care about? This is a domain…” Qing Qiaoqiao pursed her lips.
“Qiaoqiao,” Her sister said in a low voice, “Mr. Li is right. It’s very troublesome for us at this point and time.”
“Why? It’s not the…”
“If it were the usual case, or in some kind of small domain, then you’d be right, it wouldn’t matter. But right now… We don’t have much time left…”
In fact, they barely had a day left.
“There are many limitations that come with this kind of wanted status. We are able to kill whomever we want, true, but we simply cannot kill everyone… That would ruin the balance of the domain… On top of that, it’s very possible for the domain to send endless waves of police, SWAT teams, special op teams, or even military personnel after us, and we can scarcely afford to waste time on them…” Grandma Wang stared at Qing Qiaoqiao. ‘As expected from a newcomer, she’s still inexperienced…’
“Ah? What do we do now then?”
“It’ll take some time for an A-level notice to be processed. I’ve done what I could on their system, so they won’t be able to send it out immediately, but I can’t delay it for too long.” Eyeglasses removed his glasses for the first time and wiped the lenses with a corner of his shirt.
“We cannot afford to let this notice be sent out. We’re heading to the city police headquarters right away.”
“We’re going to the police headquarters? But we’re wanted criminals, are we going there for a massacre? But you said…” The eyes of the little fairy glittered with anticipation
Qing Linglong slapped her head. “Who said that you were wanted criminals? We’re agents from State Security…”
* * *
Wu Jie is a fresh graduate from the provincial police school. Owing to an outstanding performance at school, he was offered a position at the Hangzhou headquarters. Although his current job was no more than guarding the entrance to the building, Wu Jie believed that if he worked assiduously, he would be able to climb up the floors of the building behind him eventually.
Today was a lively day, and the people that entered and exited the building were all somewhat tense, quite unlike their usual composed selves. The impact of the explosion from earlier in the morning was noticeable. It was rumored to be a terrorist attack; the incident even received exceptional attention from the capital. Secretary Ye, whom Wu Jie would barely see usually, came to administer the affairs. The high-level officials went in and out as if they were on patrol duty, and the conferences, big or small, lingered on. Even he himself, who was but a door guard, had been called to three different meetings. Of all the people rushing out of the building, Wu Jie had not seen a single one who walked.
Wu Jie sighed inwardly as he looked at the people busy in their tasks. ‘When will I be able to work on a big case like them?’ He was still bemoaning himself when he noticed something unusual right at the entrance: four people dressed entirely in black and wearing sunglasses, strolled toward the building. Their moderate cadence made them stand out amidst the crowd of hurried passers-by. Wu Jie did not dare to neglect them, especially given their air and the occasion. He stiffened his torso, and, when the four walked by him, saluted them with a gesture he had practiced thousands of times before.
“Please display your…” Before he finished, the elderly woman, who led the three others, waved to him an ID badge with a golden insignia. They did not speak, or halt, or even slow down as they walked past Wu Jie.
Wu Jie was intimidated enough by the grandeur of the four that he did not dare to stop them. However, before they went too far, the young man, who trailed the three others, turned his head back reluctantly and looked at him. The glance struck Wu Jie like lightning when he noticed it. Back then at police school, Wu Jie had a title, “The Strongest Brain of Police school”, and his ability to distinguish subtle patterns, as well as his memory, were usually the subject of wonderment of his teachers. He had already thought about participating in a television show.
Wu Jie, upon seeing that face, though only for a brief instant, hindered partially by the sunglasses, and from the side, instantly made the match inside his head.
“Li Yiming!” After making sure of it, Wu Jie felt blessed by a beam of holy light which had descended from the heavens; he was not alone in his fight. At that instant, Bao Zheng, Henry Lee, Song Ci, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Conan Edogawa…2 The spirits of these heroes were all by his side. He had little time to ponder about why terrorists would come to the police headquarters, and he did not think about the fact that according to the documents, they possessed heavy weaponry. He saw the medals.. The banners… And a bright future for himself.
“Stop right there! On the ground, with your hands around your head!” Wu Jie pulled out his baton, took a deep breath that reach all the way to his abdomen, and roared mightily. His sonorous voice likely rivalled that of Zhang Fei at the battle of Changban. 3
The shout was loud enough to send tremors down Li Yiming’s legs. He almost fell to the ground, but, fortunately, Qing Linglong pulled him up. She threw a bizarre look at him. ‘That Thunder Palm is strong… He’s still not recovered?’’
Grandma Wang turned around and lowered her head slightly, pulling her sunglasses down her nose bridge. She threw a cold glanced mingled with surprise at Wu Jie. The flow of people had also stopped, and most of them looked at the scene with confusion.
“He’s… Li Yiming.” Wu Jie’s hot blood was instantly frozen by the few stares he received, but he nevertheless yelled loudly.
The crowd scattered after the initial moment of bafflement. Those who had a gun pulled it out, while the others looked for cover. Paper files were flung to the ground and the continuous noises of doors and windows closing were heard.
Li Yiming’s palms started to sweat… He remembered “Elimination without approval”. The Qing sisters stood there as if nothing happened… Grandma Wang looked around and, after finding someone with a high-ranking insignia, threw her ID badge to the ground.
“Tell your secretary to come and see me.” Grandma Wang’s demeanor and her tone made her seem like an old regime public minister on a voyage amongst commoners.