Chapter 2 – Strange Happenings in Tianshan
“We’ve read the file about that robbery case in Hangzhou…” Zheng Wei suddenly smiled.
“That case is over,” Li Yiming retorted calmly.
“Of course, we’re not here to investigate that case. It’s just that we were rather… interested by it… After a quick investigation, an inmate from the police station told us about you.” Zheng Mei adjusted his posture and tried his best to sound friendly.
‘Goddam Fatty… don’t let me catch you.’ Li Yiming cursed inwardly.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” Li Yiming settled down once he was no longer suspicious about the three men. He adhered to the belief that he should use his abilities to help out others whenever he could, and so it would be his pleasure to help the government on such matters, especially when he had quite a bit of free time.
“However, before we can disclose the information with you, you need to sign a non-disclosure act. Sorry, bureaucracy demands it.” Zheng Wei said with a smile. Liu Meng quickly pulled out a piece of paper from his bag. It was about the same format as the one Eyeglasses had fabricated back in Hangzhou, and it stipulated the usual thing about suffering due consequences if one was to divulge the information to any third party.
Li Yiming promptly signed his name down on the paper. At the same time, Zhang Dong stood up and walked around the room with a scanner in his hand. Upon finishing his tour, he drew the curtains up and put his device on the table.
“Please turn your cellphone off and put it on the table. My apologies,” Zhang Dong said.
Li Yiming shrugged his shoulders and obeyed; he already had a fair bit of “job experience”, so he was familiar with the procedures. After everything was made ready, Zheng Wei took out an aged leather pouch and took out a stack of papers.
“Last March, we have received news from Master Qingfeng of the Xianyun Abbey at Lianyun Peak. He claims that he had discovered the occurrence of supernatural events near that area using his Dao techniques, and that a disaster is impending.” As soon as Zheng Wei started speaking, Li Yiming’s brows furrowed into a frown. ‘What? Master Qingfeng? Dao techniques? Impending disasters? Are you serious? I thought this guy was from National Security.’
“Normally, National Security does not deal with such matters, but the pictures Master Qing Feng sent us were quite… troubling, so the Minister of Religious Affairs related the findings to us.” Zheng Feng rushed to the evidence; he realized that Li Yiming was not remotely convinced by his story. He handed a set of photos to Li Yiming, who grabbed a few and examined them. ‘Hmm, bad quality, mountains, clouds, forests…’
“These are the ones which have been processed.” Seeing that Li Yiming was even more confused, Deng Wei quickly picked up a few photos and gave them to Li Yiming.
“Oh?” Li Yiming’s attention was piqued. On one of them was a mundane picture of mountains, but in the clouds, one could see the silhouette of a giant bird. Based on the scale of the picture, the bird must have been even bigger than a jetliner. On another one was a stream in a valley, and a woman was seen in the water, only she had a golden tail instead of legs. ‘Bai Xi?’
“Aren’t these… photo-shopped?” Li Yiming asked. Images of this quality could be produced by any high schooler with the relevant knowledge.
“Please listen to what I have to say.” Zheng Wei was a little embarrassed, and he himself knew just how incredulous his tale was.
“After receiving these pictures, we sent two agents to investigate. They found multiple witnesses for these supernatural events. Xianyun Abbey has received much attention as a result.”
“Well, we can’t exclude the possibility that the people at the Abbey staged this to attract attention, can’t we?” Li Yiming asked. ‘Heck, if they can even fake Cao Cao’s grave, then there’s nothing they can’t do.’ 1
“That’s what we thought at first, so we sent a team of fifteen agents last August. They entered Lianyun Peak under the pretense of geological and floral inspection.”
“What happened then?”
“After twenty-seven days, one person came back. It was the local guide, and he died on the same day from heart failure.” Zheng Wei said with a grave countenance.
“What?” Li Yiming now understood the gravity of the situation.
“Since then, we’ve assigned a high priority to this case, so we sent another team this July. The team comprised of forty agents: thirty-two trained soldiers, six agents and two guides, all equipped with our latest technology.” Zheng Wei continued.
“Well… we haven’t heard from them since…”
“What?” Li Yiming was baffled.
“Satellite imaging? GPS? Drones? Did you try everything?”
“There’s an abnormal electromagnetic field around Lianyun Peak which blocks off all transmission…” Zheng Wei was surprised that Li Yiming came up with such an assortment of methods this quickly.
“So you have nothing? Nothing at all?” Li Yiming asked.
“This is the picture we retrieved from the cellphone of the first team’s guide. There are seven pictures in it.” Zheng Wei handed another stack of photos to Li Yiming, and the latter went through them quickly.
‘Normal… normal… This is all vegetation. Wait. What’s up with this picture of a woman? It looks it was taken without her consent…’ However, Li Yiming froze when he saw the sixth picture.
It was the picture of a golden wok. It also looked like a picture taken secretly, only Li Yiming had seen the object before. ‘This is… the same as what Mr. Kong held back in Eden… There’s a slight difference, but the size, the color, everything is practically the same!’
“What do you want me to do?” Li Yiming still had his doubts, but he knew that he needed to get to the bottom of the case.
“After the disappearance of an entire company during the second excursion, we will try one last time.” Zheng Wei paused; he did not mention what was going to happen if the last attempt failed as well. Instead, he waited for Li Yiming’s response.
“We’ve read your file, and your exchange with Zhang Dong earlier is enough to prove that we need you to be part of our team,” Zheng Wei said earnestly.
“When are we leaving?”
Zheng Wei eyes lit up with hope when he heard Li Yiming’s answer, but it also shocked him to the point that he exchanged a look of disbelief with his friend. He had put some care into explaining how dangerous the trip was going to be, and yet Li Yiming accepted without hesitation.
“The original departure date was to be tomorrow, but you were not part of the original team, if you could…”
“I have no problems. I’m ready to go any time.” Li Yiming was in fact quite eager to get to the bottom of the affair. ‘That golden wok…’
“We should leave now then. If we rush to the airport, we should arrive at Tianshan by the evening.” Deng Wei was overjoyed at everything proceeding so smoothly.
“Alright, let’s go.” Li Yiming stood up and looked at the three agents.
“You… you’re not going to make any preparations?” Zhen Wei was dumbfounded. Especially when he saw that Li Yiming had nothing but a thin vest on him. ‘That bald head of his… that’s a little too remarkable… and these eyebrows…’
“Oh, right. Wait a second.” Li Yiming went inside the bedroom and started checking the windows and the door. After that, he went by the sink, checked the tap and unplugged all of the electric appliances. Finally, he hesitated a little in front of the fridge, but he then decided to take out two bottles of yogurt. ‘Well, Bai Ze bought these, and they’re probably going to go bad if I leave them here. But there are also other things in the fridge, so I should probably leave it powered.’
“Alright, let’s go!” Li Yiming walked to the front door with the two cups of yogurt.
‘Are you not going to bring anything else?” Zheng Wei was baffled. ‘That was the ‘preparation’ he was talking about? Closing the windows, removing the plugs, and two bottles of yogurt?’
“I thought you were going to provide the equipment?” Li Yiming was rather surprised at hearing Zheng Wei’s question.
Zheng licked his lips. ‘Well, he’s right about that, but it just feels… strange, to be honest.’
Li Yiming locked the door and followed the three agents downstairs. Two cars were parked at the entrance.
“Well, Liu Ke is going to be the one who will accompany you to Tianshan. He’s the one responsible for this case. I need to go back to headquarters .” Zheng Wei shook Li Yiming’s hand again, this time, with visible gratitude. Li Yiming still seemed like quite the odd person to him, but curiously, he somehow knew that Li Yiming was not the type to appreciate formalities.
The two cars split way. Deng Meng closed the car window and shut his eyes, trying to remember every detail about his meeting with Li Yiming.
“What do you make of this?” Zheng Wei asked Zhang Dong, who was driving.
“His strength is beyond comprehension.” Zheng Dong kneaded his right hand; the red marks on it had yet to recede.
“If you’re willing to give him this much credit, then he must have a few tricks up his sleeves. But in the files…”
“I think that whatever that was written on there might actually be true.” Zhang Dong peeked at Zheng Wei.
“True? But it said that he sent someone flying for dozens of meters!”
“Yeah. I think that he might even be stronger than her.”
“That strong?” Zheng Wei was shocked.
“He could probably take on ten people like me at the same time.” Zhang Dong suddenly let out a bitter smile.
“Well, you know what they say, the gods do live among us.” Zheng Wei sighed.
“It’s good that he seems to be a hot-blooded young man.”
“Yeah, I really didn’t expect him to accept right away. And without request for compensation, too. Compared to the other people we went to…” Zheng Wei was interrupted by his phone’s ringing.
“It’s Liu Ke… Hello?”
“Captain, it’s me… I..” Liu Ke hesitated.
“What is it?” Zheng Wei frowned.
“Li Yiming says that he has a request.”
“Oh? He’s only thought of it now? Alright, shoot.” A smile still hung on Zheng Wei’s lips as he exchanged a look with Zhang Dong, but he had grown more alert. His reaction would have been premature if the request was to be excessive.
“He says that he wants a driver’s license. A normal one is fine.” Liu Ke found the situation quite absurd.
“Driver’s license?’ Zheng Wei paused and tried his best to make sense out of Li Yiming’s wish.
“He said that he was on his way to do the exam, but he can’t anymore since we’ve assigned him to this mission…”
“Alright. Tell him that we’ll give him an answer soon.” Zheng Wei hung up the call. ‘A driver’s license? A normal one of top of it?’ For some reason, Zhen Wei remembered Li Yiming’s bald head and eyebrows again.
“Did he have his license revoked after driving under influence or something?” Zhang Dong guessed.
“I think we would’ve found out about it if it was the case, wouldn’t we? I’ll send someone to check on this.”
1. So apparently a few years back there has been an archeological discovery that was controversial in China because… well some expect thought that the grave was a fake one.