That night, Du Jing booked a room with a large bed at Xinxin Hotel and got to work.
At midnight, Zhou Luoyang finally threw himself onto the bed. Du Jing followed his lead and collapsed on the bed, causing Zhou Luoyang to sway next to him.
“This mattress is pretty nice.” Du Jing took out his phone. Evidently, he was still wide awake even at this hour.
Zhou Luoyang flipped over on the bed. “Sleep.”
“Can’t. After I take a shower, I’ll still have work to do. You sleep first,” Du Jing said.
He’d already gotten enough sleep that afternoon, but Zhou Luoyang was tired. He listened sleepily as Du Jing used computer software to analyze Wu Xingping’s voice frequency and then spoke, mimicking his voice. After post processing, it would be played on WeChat.
Meanwhile, he sent identical messages to Wu Xingping’s two contacts.
“You shouldn’t have let him go,” Zhou Luoyang said. “Don’t say it was because of me.”
He understood very clearly that Du Jing just didn’t want to be disturbed by other people. It was rare that they got to come to Hangzhou, and he didn’t want to bring a suspect along as they ate and slept.
“It would make things easier if we brought him along,” Du Jing agreed, “but he isn’t under control. It’s much safer to find someone to impersonate him.”
Zhou Luoyang had to concede. Du Jing added, “Also, if there’s someone next to him coercing him, they would immediately be able to tell from his voice messages. You have to understand that intuition is always accurate.”
“But why did you add both of the contacts?” Zhou Luoyang asked. “Who’s the other person?”
“Cop,” Du Jing said calmly.
Zhou Luoyang felt like Du Jing was shrouded in a web of riddles. He’d always known that Du Jing had the highest IQ out of anyone he’d ever met in his life, but it was hard for him to grasp Du Jing’s full reasoning—it was just too out of the box.
Zhou Luoyang braced himself and asked, “But how do you know for sure that this one’s the cop and the other one’s the blackmailer?”
“What if the other one’s the cop?” Zhou Luoyang asked again.
“Then he’s the cop, and this guy’s the target,” said Du Jing. “What’s the difference?”
Zhou Luoyang simply had no temper left in him. “So you’re planning on having us, the cop, and the target all gather together tomorrow.”
“It’ll be merrier that way,” Du Jing said in deadly earnest. “A rendezvous without cops to liven things up is an imperfect rendezvous.”
“Alright,” Zhou Luoyang said. “I’ll wait and see.”
“I’ll buy you some popcorn. You can sit in Leifeng Pagoda and eat it while you watch.”
As always, Du Jing’s cold roasts were one of a kind.
The next afternoon, at Liulang Wenying Park:
“What exactly is your objective?”
Zhou Luoyang and Du Jing were sipping tea by the lake and watching the trees on the opposite shore through a pair of binoculars. Du Jing was in the middle of texting both WeChat contacts.
“I thought you’d guessed it a long time ago,” Du Jing said.
“To tell the truth, I have no idea,” said Zhou Luoyang. “Clear—you were originally working as a mole at Yu Jianqiang’s company. It seemed like you were there to protect him, and you saved his life, but then you stole his things. It’s obvious that Wu Xingping is more important to you…I see cops in civilian clothing! They’re the same ones that were chasing us that night…Crap, they won’t suspect us of working with Wu Xingping, will they?”
“They will,” Du Jing said. “The cops aren’t dumb. They saw us running away with him with their own eyes that night. Who is Yu Jianqiang? Is his identity that of someone I would go out of my way to protect?”
The two plainclothes had arrived at the destination Du Jing had given them. One was feeding the fish in the pond; the other was taking pictures of the surroundings.
It suddenly dawned on Zhou Luoyang. “Your company’s objective is to track down the extortion organization by following the clues. You want to catch the syndicate?”
Du Jing took the binoculars. They were in a safe location; there weren’t even any tourists nearby. They’d purchased the binoculars at a store for over two hundred bucks, and it worked very well.
“They’re here,” Du Jing announced. Then he took out his phone and narrowed the camera’s aperture.
His phone had clearly been modified! The phone camera—on its own—clearly captured the people who had come for the meetup!
One of the plainclothes suddenly looked at his partner. The two of them had noticed that not far away, someone had taken out a slip of paper from beneath a flower pot, unfolded it, read it, and then put it away.
That person glanced around and walked away in a hurry.
Du Jing footed the bill and took a boat with Zhou Luoyang to their next destination.
“The company has three objectives,” Du Jing explained. “First, get to the bottom of Wang Ke’s cause of death. Second, gather evidence of Yu Jianqiang’s crimes. Third, find UT’s mainland China branch and shut it down.”
“UT is the gang that got in contact with Wu Xingping and the others. They’re the guys in charge of extortion on the mainland. These three cases were appointed by different parties and are inconvenient for the government to take care of. As for each individual party, I’m not at liberty to tell you who they are.”
Zhou Luoyang understood. “Coincidentally, these three cases are connected to each other, so you took on all three at once.”
“It wasn’t that they were connected,” Du Jing corrected. “It was me who connected them together.”
Zhou Luoyang suddenly understood. Astonished, he asked, “You were the one who gave the clues to UT’s American headquarters?”
“First of all, their headquarters are in Mexico, not America. Second of all, I simply told Wang Ke’s little lover how she could make some money,” Du Jing drawled easily. He bought them boat tickets, and they sailed across West Lake on the sightseeing boat. They didn’t get off when it stopped by Yingzhou Island.
It was true that this was not something the government or even the international police could do, or else it would surely be held against them during public prosecution. From a legal standpoint, much of the evidence collection was not done according to proper procedures.
But there would be no issue if these things were handled by private organizations like the one Du Jing was part of.
West Lake’s autumn breeze felt nice. It had rained that morning, and it reminded Zhou Luoyang of the time when they first started university.
By doing this, Du Jing was making an enemy of UT, a global crime syndicate. “Aren’t you afraid of the danger?”
“Aren’t you afraid of the danger?” Du Jing asked in return.
“What danger am I in?” Zhou Luoyang asked.
When the boat got to Zhongshan Park Pier, Du Jing hopped off the boat and rented bikes, which he and Zhou Luoyang rode toward Leifeng Pagoda. According to his plans, the instructions that he’d given to the man sent by UT would have him running around panting before finally arriving at the final destination—Leifeng Pagoda.
Meanwhile, the person disguised as “Wu Xingping”—in other words, Du Jing’s coworker from his company’s Hangzhou branch—would be waiting for him at the top of Leifeng Pagoda.
But what next? Such a brilliant method of cracking a case really left Zhou Luoyang at a loss. In the crime novels he’d read, the routine was always to discover clues, investigate the case, then dig up more clues, then crack the case by following the trail of clues…But Du Jing went against routine. He’d laid out a chessboard and accurately predicted everybody’s next move.
In the blink of an eye, he’d left both the undercover cops and UT running around in circles.
“What happens after they meet up?” Zhou Luoyang asked. “Sorry, I really have too many questions.”
“After they meet, the objective will of course be to uncover UT’s hideout,” Du Jing said. “You don’t even ask a tenth of the questions Zhuang Li asks. No need to apologize.”
Zhou Luoyang: “……”
At first, Zhou Luoyang hadn’t been sure why Du Jing had summoned UT here as well as the cops. But he could pretty much guess that this was a part of Du Jing’s plans. Maybe he didn’t want to dirty his own hands? When everything was over, he would try to keep the two of them spotless.
Or maybe notifying the police would put mental pressure on the dispatched UT member, who might then lead them to where they wanted to go, making it easier for them to achieve their goals?
The two of them returned their bikes on the side of the road. Du Jing said, “Wait inside Jingci Temple.”
When they were still in Hangzhou, they’d visited Jingci Temple, which sat across Leifeng Pagoda, many times. At 5:30, Jingci Temple would close and all visitors would leave. But Zhou Luoyang had discovered a little lane behind the temple where he could hide himself for a short time.
Zhou Luoyang had previously wondered if being in a temple might make Du Jing feel better. That proved to be true. When Du Jing was living in the United States, he’d lived in a Catholic household. He was instinctively opposed to the effect that religion had on the mind, but Buddhism made him feel calm and comfortable, granting him temporary peace.
“You left so many slips of paper that you’re going to lead them on a full tour of West Lake’s ten sights. I’m sure they’ll never forget this West Lake sightseeing experience that you arranged for them.”
At 5:50 PM, Zhou Luoyang picked up the binoculars and peered at the top floor of Leifeng Pagoda. “Wu Xingping” was already waiting there.
“Exercise is good for the body,” Du Jing said solemnly and lowered his head, twisting the watch on his wrist.
Zhou Luoyang glanced at Du Jing. He really did like this gift, but he’d noticed something: when normal people wore watches, they wore them facing outwards.
Du Jing typically did too. But as he lay in ambush, he twisted the watch around so that it sat on the inside of his wrist, facing him.
This was a habit of military spies or even snipers or special forces agents to prevent the watch face from reflecting light and exposing their hiding spot, and also to make it easier to see the time.
Had he been a soldier too? Or had he undergone spy training? Zhou Luoyang was a little suspicious, but he didn’t expose Du Jing.
“Has it stopped again?” Zhou Luoyang asked.
“Just messing around with it,” Du Jing said. “Gotta ease the anxiety with a little fidgeting.”
“Play with something else. Don’t make so much trouble with those hands of yours. This watch is very old and doesn’t have a rotor, so you have to wind it manually from time to time, but winding it fully will typically keep it moving for two days.”
Du Jing aligned the watch disk, and the mechanical watch made a quiet click.
He moved his hand to the top of Zhou Luoyang’s head, scratching it as he would a cat.
“You…go back to playing with the watch.” Zhou Luoyang didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Suddenly, he exclaimed, “Ah! Look!”
Zhou Luoyang handed him the binoculars. Du Jing only took a quick look before saying, “I need to go up. You stay here and wait for me. We’ll get dinner afterwards.”
Du Jing used one of the phones to call Zhou Luoyang’s phone. Zhou Luoyang put on a pair of earphones and found a spot under the eaves where he could watch him. He didn’t insist on following Du Jing. He held his hand up in an “okay” gesture. “Be careful.”
Du Jing quickly left Jingci Temple, put on his sunglasses, and entered Leifeng Pagoda.
“You’re too eye-catching,” Zhou Luoyang said into the earphones. “You look like a secret service agent here on a mission.”
Du Jing draped his blazer over his arm and rolled up his sleeves. He bought a drink and held it in one hand, his phone in the other, as he walked and looked around. He said haughtily into his earphones, “An elite man who’s crawled his way out of the impoverished countryside through his own hard work and now works at the financial center of Shanghai. He came to Hangzhou on a business trip and has, by chance, just finished a meeting. He wants to distract himself from his loneliness, and he just so happens to be alone, so he’s going around chasing women. Is that not reasonable?” As he spoke, he turned to stare at a female tourist.
“You do look a little like that,” Zhou Luoyang said. “Make sure to look at her legs from time to time. Don’t only stare at her face.”
“Thank you, Professor Zhou,” Du Jing said politely.
“The UT employee has entered Leifeng Pagoda.”
Zhou Luoyang was doing his part very well. He knew it was Zhuang Li that ought to be doing this job, but poor Zhuang Li had been sent to clean his home.
The UT employee brushed right past Du Jing without ever noticing him. Du Jing glanced at him from behind his sunglasses. A middle-aged man about forty years old, in a hurry and wearing a familiar look of anxiety. He’d evidently already discovered that there were plainclothes on his tail, and from time to time, he would call someone on his phone.
He followed the paper slips’ instructions up to the top floor of Leifeng Pagoda. The sun was setting in the west. It set Leifeng Pagoda’s gilded roof and golden roof tiles aglow, a bright, dazzling sight. This was the most famous of West Lake’s ten sights: Leifeng’s glowing sunset.
From the fourth floor up, tourists swarmed to the top floor and gathered at the west side of the pagoda, waiting to watch the sunset.
“Wu Xingping” was waiting on the top floor. The middle-aged man arrived behind him. Du Jing went up to the second highest floor and fished out his phone. Using an application software, he layered the two communication channels together, and the conversation between “Wu Xingping” and the UT employee popped up in his earphones. It was clear he had planted a bug on him.
“So timid?” the middle-aged man asked.
The fake Wu Xingping quietly said, “The cops have been following me from Wan City to Hangzhou. What can I do?”
“How much do you want? We’ll send you away to hide for a time.”
The fake Wu Xingping hesitated for a long moment. Then, as if making up his mind, he said firmly, “One million.”
“Come with me.”
They were surrounded by tourists; no one noticed their quiet conversation, but the fake Wu Xingping said, “Transfer me the money first. I won’t believe you. I have records of your conversations with my boss, all of them, so don’t mess with me.”
UT had been in the extortion business in China for so many years—they never would have expected that they would be the ones being blackmailed by someone like Wu Xingping. The middle-aged man didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, and he said, “There’s nothing else for me to say. They’ve been following me this entire time. You can decide for yourself whether or not you want to come.”
“Pay me half first!” the fake Wu Xingping demanded.
The middle-aged man gnashed his teeth. “The bank has a withdrawal limit! I can only transfer two hundred thousand a day! If I go over that, they’ll start watching me! How can I give it to you?!”
“Give me two hundred first.” The fake Wu Xingping was very dedicated to playing his character.
“A single cent stumps a mighty hero,” Du Jing cut in.
“What?” Zhou Luoyang asked. He couldn’t hear the two people’s conversation.
Du Jing asked, “How’s the situation?”
Zhou Luoyang peered into the binoculars for a while and muttered, “They took out their phones. It looks like they’re comparing something…Now they’re coming down the pagoda.”
Du Jing knew that the man was transferring the money in order to appease him; he just didn’t know if afterwards the man would take him somewhere remote to kill him or what.
“Will the body double’s life be in danger?” Zhou Luoyang asked. “This job is just so high-risk. What if they want to kill Wu Xingping?”
“One of my objectives in contacting the cops was to protect the body double.” Du Jing didn’t turn around. “The man sent by UT has already been seen by the plainclothes, so he can no longer kill anyone, or else he’ll be the primary suspect.”
“They’re currently coming down the pagoda,” Zhou Luoyang reported. “Oh this is bad, the cops are going up.”
Du Jing didn’t turn around. This was the time when the man sent by UT would definitely be most on guard. As he came down the stairs, he would surely carefully scan his surroundings, and Du Jing didn’t want to catch his attention.
There was an elevator in the middle of Leifeng Pagoda, with one set of stairs going up and one set of stairs going down on either side of it. The plainclothes climbed the upwards stairs towards the top floor and caught sight of the middle-aged man and Wu Xingping right away. They immediately headed in their direction. The middle-aged man sped up, practically dragging Wu Xingping down the stairs.
“Stop right there!” a cop shouted, seeing that they wouldn’t be able to catch up to them.
Du Jing suddenly turned around and thought, This is bad! Why did they startle the target now of all times?
All of the tourists were startled too. The phone cameras that had been facing the sunset now turned toward the cops charging down the stairs. Annoyed, Du Jing said, “Quick, report!”
“They’re downstairs!” Zhou Luoyang said. “It’s a little chaotic…There are cops at the bottom of the pagoda too, lots of them! Oh no, Du Jing! Hurry down, there are more than just two plainclothes!”
Zhou Luoyang had discovered that there were seven or eight of them below the pagoda; their goal was to capture Wu Xingping. “The two of them are about to be caught. Don’t assault the police!”
Du Jing reigned in his anger. The plans he’d spent so long on had been messed up by the cops in an instant. But logically, he knew they couldn’t be blamed, because their objective was simply to capture Wu Xingping; they had no idea that there were other plans after that.
“You and the police should have kept each other informed,” Zhou Luoyang said. “They’ve run outside now! And startled quite a few tourists.”
Du Jing raced down the stairs and barreled outside. “I had no way to contact them. The systems are too disorganized. Didn’t want to accidentally leak any information. This was the boss’s decision. Where are they? Which way did they run?”
Zhou Luoyang craned his neck to look. “Oh…not good, they ran into Jingci Temple.”
Jingci Temple was already closed, but there was a small side door still open for custodial staff to enter and exit, and the middle-aged man immediately ran through it with Wu Xingping. The plainclothes chased right behind them.
They were clearly trying to catch him now. The plainclothes had evidently made the decision to resolve the entire affair right in Hangzhou and drag Wu Xingping back to Wan City. Judging by the situation, cross-provincial law enforcement had already been dispatched, and there were also many local police officers working with them.
Once they ran inside Jingci Temple, Zhou Luoyang could no longer see them. He asked, “Now what?”
“We can’t let them be captured!” Du Jing said. “Otherwise, all of our efforts will go right down the drain. Quick, think of a way to help them get back outside!”
Du Jing suddenly realized that he’d misspoken in his haste. He’d taken Zhou Luoyang to be his coworker and made a terribly poor decision.
But Zhou Luoyang was jolted into action. He climbed down from his perch and arrived at the square outside the main temple hall. The middle-aged man and Wu Xingping soon also ran into the square. The middle-aged man wasn’t a local and didn’t know this place at all. He was still studying their surroundings and was about to run for the rear hall.
Zhou Luoyang dashed out at just the right moment and yelled, “Xingping! This way!”
Du Jing: “…………………………”
The fake Wu Xingping spotted Zhou Luoyang. He’d run into his savior! “Cousin!”
“This is my cousin!” the fake Wu Xingping explained to the middle-aged man.
“This way!” Zhou Luoyang led the two through the side hall and out along the lane behind Jingci Temple.
Du Jing came to a stop, took off his sunglasses, and cursed.
“After you get out, think of a way to leave them as soon as possible. It’s too dangerous.” Du Jing’s voice was shaking. “Luoyang? Did you hear me?”
beansprout: Much love to yunyun, Nara, and Cat for helping me with my rapidly deteriorating English!! qvq
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cat.