Chapter 40 - Mirage
“Where’s that bastard gang leader?” Lin Lu asked as she struggled to stand up from her bed, her body still weak from the after-effects of Chen Quan’s treatment.
“Right downstairs. Li Yiming didn’t go light on him.” The young agent shuddered as he remembered the gruesome state in which he found the man in question.
“Bring me to him.” Lin Lu said with anger flashing in her eyes.
“Secretary Lin…” The young agent hesitated.
“What is it?” Having recruited the agent herself and worked together for many years, Lin Lu could tell that he had something to say.
“Well… you might want to have a look at this…” The young man took out a file folder which contained two photos.
“What?! Where did you get this?” Lin Lu was bewildered when she saw the pictures. The photo depicted an ordinary scenery of dusk at a beach in the Southern part of the country. The orange glow of the setting sun created an atmosphere of relaxation and serenity, as the tourists on the beach enjoyed themselves with leisurely activities. What highlighted the abnormality in the scene was the second picture, which was a zoom-in on a few clouds in the sky.
“Is this a mirage?” Lin Lu scrutinized the picture – she saw a woman between the clouds with long hair.
“That’s the only explanation. I’ve had people in the analytics department take a look at it. They confirmed no traces of digital modification.”
“Where did you get this?” Lin Lu asked with a grave countenance, as she recognized the woman between the clouds, who seemed to be looking back with a confused expression.
“From one of our stations. One of the agents there caught a thief. We found it in the stolen goods while searching for evidence.”
“This was taken from a digital camera which was among the stolen goods. It’s part of the standard protocol for finding the owner of the camera and returning the stolen goods, but this picture, in particular, caught the attention of the investigation team, as it matched the profile of the woman we’re looking for.”
“Did you figure out where the picture was taken?”
“We’ve interrogated the thief without finding anything interesting. The owner of the camera lives in Shangbei. Curiously, he didn’t call the police after his home was broken through. When I asked him about the photo, he did not want to discuss it further.”
“We suspect it has to do with the nature of his trip. The man in question is a manager, and he went on a personal vacation with his personal assistant. The man had a wife.” The man shrugged his shoulders as he retold the information he had gathered, knowing that Lin Lu would understand the implications.
“Who made the discovery?” Lin Lu asked as she considered the ramifications of such a finding.
“There were two of them. We’ve already made them sign non-disclosure acts.”
“What about the people above?”
“I didn’t report it yet.” After the sauna center incident, the young agent began to grow wary even of the high-ranking officials in National Security.
“Nicely done. Why didn’t you bring up this earlier?”
“We didn’t have time to confirm the veracity of the data yet. Also, Li Yiming himself is…”
“You don’t know if he’ll cooperate so you decided to keep this as leverage against him?”
“Yes.” The young agent confessed.
“You did the right thing.” Lin Lu said with a low voice. She agreed with her agent’s choice, despite knowing that the decision meant that she would be betraying Li Yiming by hiding an important piece of information about Liu Meng.
“What do we do now??”
“I’ll go pay a visit to the man who was bold enough to drug me. Go get the procedures done for me to get the hell out of this place. I’ll leave for Shangbei right away,” Lin Lu said as she tossed her blanket to the side and sat up, clasping onto the two photos. ‘Showing up between the clouds, like a fallen angel from the Heavens… Who are you, Liu Meng?’
* * *
Despite the exhausting trip back to Pure Water Herb Hall, Chen Quan was brimming with excitement, for he knew that he was about to open the door to a world which had been hidden to him.
“Chen Quan, this is Chen Jiawang. Chen Jiawang, Chen Quan.” Li Yiming had expected Chen Quan to be utterly shocked by his revelation, but instead, Chen Quan did not have a sliver of doubt about Li Yiming’s words. In turn, Li Yiming began to wonder whether his memories had fully been erased after the domain.
“Chen Quan, are you…?” Chen Jiawang’s eyes lit up with excitement, thinking that the guest was another one of Li Yiming’s teammates, especially with how much he stood out from looks alone.
“He’s my friend. He’s not one of us,” Li Yiming said.
“What?” Chen Jiawang froze in place, unsure of what Li Yiming’s intentions were in introducing Chen Quan.
“How should I put it… He has some special abilities, that’s for sure. Just consider him one of us, okay?” Li Yiming noticed Chen Jiawang’s confusion.
“Oh? Oh, welcome then!” Chen Jiawang resumed his tactful display of friendliness and offered a hug to Chen Quan.
“You…” Chen Quan understood from the conversation that Chen Jiawang was no ordinary person.
“You guys can have a long talk later. Help Chen Quan set down, will you? I’ll go rest for a bit.” Li Yiming left the two alone, giving them the opportunity to get to know each other.
“Leave it to me then. Hello, I’m Chen Jiawang, nice to meet you.” Chen Jiawang saluted Chen Quan formally. He took out a pen and threw it into the air. The object turned into pure gold as it landed.
Seeing Chen Quan’s amazement brought a great amount of satisfaction to Chen Jiawang, especially due to his young age. Over the last few weeks, he had gradually come to terms with his new identity. However, after the acceptance came a desire to show off his extraordinary power to other people rather than pretend that it did not exist.
“You see… Oh! Wait, you’ve said that he’s one of us, right?” Chen Jiawang, who was smiling with confidence, suddenly turned back to look at Li Yiming, knowing that the latter often scolded him for abusing his power.
“Just keep it to a reasonable degree, okay?” Li Yiming cracked a smile and left. He needed a quiet place to ponder over a few things.
His bedroom on the second floor was exceptionally clean — clearly, Chen Jiawang had been diligent in everyday cleaning. Seeing the dustless furniture made Li Yiming feel somewhat bad about making the latter work as a waiter rather than giving him a task befitting his guardian status.
Li Yiming thoughts quickly shifted to Qing Linglong when he saw the luxurious khaki-colored sofa which had been left behind by her. As he sat down, he felt a sense of serenity unlike never before. He closed his eyes and made himself comfortable, breathing slowly as he moved his left hand slowly on the hand rest, appreciating the cozy touch of the fabric. He suddenly became drowsy, and he was about to fall asleep when he suddenly opened his eyes with a radiant smile.
He saw the face of a small girl, still with a little bit of baby fat on her rosy cheeks – it was Bai Ze. She stared back at him with a frown on her face, and she leaned in enough such that her face was almost touching Li Yiming’s.
“Are you awake?” Li Yiming smiled as he touched Bai Ze’s head.
Instead of being as happy as Li Yiming, Bai Ze turned her head to the side with a frown and dodged Li Yiming’s act of affection. She then began staring at him with a grave countenance.
“What is it?”
“You’re not a guardian…” Bai Ze put her face closer to Li Yiming and said with pursed lips.
“I do remember telling you this the first time we met.” Li Yiming smiled again and closed his eyes, Sharing the same soul, he could feel Bai Ze’s emotions.
“Well, you didn’t say that you were that staff!” Bai Ze’s voice suddenly went up by a pitch.
“I didn’t know myself.”
“To hell with that! I thought my master was a big shot. I even thought you were him, but you’re just that staff!”
“Well I’m the one and only staff, how’s that?”