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The SUV was parked in an underground garage. The middle-aged man led the fake Wu Xingping away, and the driver left to go to the bathroom without turning off the engine. At first, Zhou Luoyang wanted to wait a few more minutes, but Du Jing silently climbed out of the trunk and mouthed, Hurry.
Zhou Luoyang looked at Du Jing quizzically. Du Jing nodded to show that he was feeling much better now and had mustered up some strength.
“Why aren’t you waiting for them to head up first?” Zhou Luoyang whispered.
“There are cameras in the elevator. We can’t take it,” Du Jing replied.
The middle-aged man and the fake Wu Xingping were still in the garage waiting for the elevator to arrive. Du Jing darted out from the cover of the car and went through an emergency exit door, easing himself sideways and hiding behind the door. After a moment of observation, he found a blind spot and stuck half of his body out, letting the fake Wu Xingping see him.
The fake Wu Xingping turned away. He understood now that they had arrived.
“Take the stairs up?” Zhou Luoyang asked. “What floor are they on?”
They climbed the stairs from floor B2 to floor B1. Du Jing pulled out a Swiss Army knife from the inner pockets of his suit, used it to pry open the B1 elevator doors, and waited for the elevator to come down. He grabbed Zhou Luoyang’s hand, and when the elevator slowed to a halt, the two of them leapt forward and landed on top of it with a quiet clang.
The middle-aged man and the fake Wu Xingping entered the elevator, and all four of them were brought up toward the seventeenth floor. Du Jing contacted Zhuang Li, who was in a different car, with his phone and asked him to connect him to the bug before putting in his earphones. Zhou Luoyang noticed some grime on his face and wiped it off for him with the back of his hand.
Du Jing’s expression was unruffled. It seemed he was much better now than he was in the afternoon.
“I should go outside and find a place to wait,” Zhou Luoyang said softly when the elevator came to a stop.
Du Jing forced open the doors on the eighteenth floor. “I won’t feel at ease if you’re not by my side.”
The two of them stepped onto the eighteenth floor. Du Jing found the emergency exit based on what he could remember of the floor plan. Custodial equipment was propped up inside the passageway.
The two of them took the stairs down to the seventeenth floor and gently pushed open the hallway door. They saw that the fake Wu Xingping had already gone into the office, and a bodyguard was standing not far from the office door. Meanwhile the middle-aged man went inside the conference room to play poker.
They waited for a bit while Du Jing tried to think of a solution. He looked down at his watch. “We have to distract him.”
“He’s got cauliflower ears—he’s good at fighting. Can you beat him?” Zhou Luoyang asked.
Du Jing was a bit surprised. “You still remember?”
“I remember everything you say,” Zhou Luoyang answered.
Cauliflower ears: martial artists who practiced Taekwondo, karate, etcetera would take hits over a long period of time, and their ears would endure chafing and trauma. As a result, their ears would swell unnaturally, and over time they gradually became that way permanently. A long time ago, Du Jing had taught Zhou Luoyang this method of telling if someone was a martial artist.
Du Jing said, “I’ll attack him from behind—it won’t be a problem.”
“I’ll do it,” Zhou Luoyang said.
Du Jing was just about to stop him, but Zhou Luoyang indicated that it was no big deal. As long as the two of them were together, everything was under control.
Zhou Luoyang shed his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. He took a mop and a bucket of water from the emergency exit and, looking unperturbed, he walked out and began mopping the floor.
The bodyguard glanced at Zhou Luoyang and furrowed his brows. He walked toward him, looking down at his watch as if to ask, You’re cleaning at this hour?
Zhou Luoyang had only just climbed out of the trunk, so he was covered in dust. In addition, he was wearing activewear that was easy to move around in. Looking at him from behind, though, it was difficult to determine whether he was a custodian.
“Go downstairs,” the bodyguard said, pressing the elevator button for him. “You don’t need to do this floor.”
Zhou Luoyang straightened. Just as he was about to speak, however, Du Jing suddenly snuck up from behind and hooked his left arm around the bodyguard’s neck. The bodyguard reacted immediately.
Zhou Luoyang retreated at lighting speed. At the same time, the bodyguard flipped Du Jing over his shoulder. Du Jing was wearing brass knuckles on his right hand, and he swiped them across the bodyguard’s neck, breaking skin and drawing blood. The bodyguard had tossed him into the air, but only half a second later, his pupils dilated and he staggered, crumpling to the floor.
Du Jing flipped around in midair and released the bodyguard. He landed on the ground bent over, then stood steady. He turned and went forward, hoisting up the bodyguard. All of this unfolded within the span of three seconds.
Zhou Luoyang: “……”
Du Jing dragged him into the emergency exit by the arm.
“Is he dead?” Zhou Luoyang asked.
“It’s a strong sedative,” Du Jing said. “He’s still alive.”
“It’s rather strong.”
Du Jing searched the bodyguard and found a silenced pistol. “This is my first time using it. It works alright.”
Du Jing handed the pistol to Zhou Luoyang, who said, “I don’t know how to use a gun. I’ve never learned.”
Du Jing said, “I’ll just leave it with you for now.”
Then he took the bodyguard’s employee badge and flipped it over, glancing at the other side. He left the emergency exit, still holding the badge, and said to Zhou Luoyang, “Wait here. The security monitors are in the conference room. I’ll go in and adjust them. It should take around five minutes.”
Zhou Luoyang nodded. Just as Du Jing was about to go inside, he paused and thought something over. He took off his suit jacket and handed it over to Zhou Luoyang. He then adjusted the brass knuckles on his right hand and stuck it in his pocket. With a swipe of the badge, he entered the conference room.
The meeting room had very good soundproofing. Zhou Luoyang could only hear a quiet thump against the door, and not even a scream escaped.
He headed for the emergency exit. But just then, the main office door opened, and the supervisor walked out.
“Where is everyone?” he wondered aloud. “Where did they all scamper off to?! Little Luo!”
Zhou Luoyang spotted the half-shut office door. The fake Wu Xingping’s back was to the door, and he was currently looking around for anything suspicious.
The supervisor knocked on the conference room door. “Are you all in there?”
Suddenly, he sensed that something was wrong. He turned and looked around, then quickly headed to the elevator and jabbed at the elevator button.
Behind him, a gun pressed against the back of his head.
“Where are you going?” Zhou Luoyang asked.
The supervisor slowly put both of his hands in the air. He didn’t dare make any rash moves.
Zhou Luoyang kept the gun pressed to his head and did his best to keep his voice from shaking as he forced him to turn around. The supervisor asked, “Who are you? How did you get up here?”
“Quiet! Go to the conference room door!” Zhou Luoyang barked.
The supervisor walked to the conference room. “We’re a private company. We don’t have cash…”
“Open the door! You know the passcode!” Zhou Luoyang ordered.
The supervisor had no choice but to enter the passcode. Just then, Du Jing opened the door from the inside, and with a single glance, he understood what had happened.
“The computer was too slow,” Du Jing said. “Sorry for the wait.” At the same time, he motioned for Zhou Luoyang to let him handle things.
As soon as the supervisor caught sight of the bodyguard and middle-aged man lying motionless on the other side of the door, he began to tremble. Zhou Luoyang was extremely nervous. With Du Jing there, however, he didn’t need the gun anymore.
“You’ve violated criminal law article two sixty-three,” the supervisor stated calmly. “Armed robbery. You’ll be sentenced to a minimum of ten years imprisonment, life imprisonment, or the death penalty. On top of that, you’ll either be fined or your assets seized.”
“Oh, you’re a lawyer too,” Zhou Luoyang said. “But this gun seems to belong to you guys. Found it on your bodyguard. How long would someone be sentenced for illegal possession of a firearm?”
Du Jing didn’t speak. He forced him to the office and knocked on the door.
“Here’s your phone.” Du Jing returned the confiscated phone back to the fake Wu Xingping.
The body double wasn’t the least bit surprised to see Du Jing and Zhou Luoyang come inside. Du Jing turned on the computer on the office table and said, “Startup password.”
The supervisor didn’t reply. The body double swept a glance over the nearby bookshelf and motioned for Du Jing to look at the photograph on it. It was a picture of the supervisor and a little girl.
“He has a daughter. Try his daughter’s birthday,” the fake Wu Xingping suggested.
The supervisor’s expression promptly changed. “Who exactly are you people?”
Du Jing didn’t answer. Instead, he said, “Search him. Check his ID.”
Zhou Luoyang blocked the office door to prevent him from escaping.
“His desk uses a fingerprint lock,” he reminded him.
The body double searched the supervisor but couldn’t find his ID. Pressing down on his shoulder, he forced the man to scan his fingerprint in order to open the fingerprint-locked drawers of the desk. Du Jing pulled them open one by one and found his name on a passport, then tossed it to the body double. The body double fished out his phone and began looking up the supervisor’s registration data.
“Try this.” The body double read a string of numbers out loud, and the last of the supervisor’s hopes were finally extinguished.
“You’re stealing trade secrets!” the supervisor accused.
“Hey, hey.” The body double noticed Zhou Luoyang and said, “Put the gun down. Careful not to accidentally set it off.”
Du Jing input the password—it worked, and the computer turned on. “The gun’s safety is still on.”
The supervisor: “………………”
The body double laughed and put his palm over the muzzle of the gun. Zhou Luoyang let the weight bring the gun down.
“Give it to me,” said the body double.
Du Jing nodded and happily began to look through the supervisor’s computer. Using the keyword search, he pulled up a hefty stash of encrypted reports.
He opened up the tail end of his Swiss Army knife, revealing a USB flash drive, and stuck it into the Apple computer. He authenticated it, imported all the reports onto it, and sent them out via satellite network. At the same time, he notified Zhuang Li to make sure he was ready to receive the data.
“Let’s have a chat,” Du Jing said to the supervisor as he waited for the files to be sent. “Sit. Your bodyguard won’t wake up for another five hours. Don’t make any moves that’ll waste your energy, or else you’ll be prosecuting me for intentional assault afterwards.”
He turned to Zhou Luoyang and the body double. “You two wait outside.”
Zhou Luoyang hesitated briefly. He knew that Du Jing might genuinely have classified information to ask about though, so he and the body double left the office and went next door.
In the conference room, the body double yawned. It was five past eleven.
“How long have you been with your shifu?” the body double asked, curious.
Zhou Luoyang read the text that Leyao had sent two hours ago and absentmindedly answered, “Today was my first time on an assignment.”
“I could tell,” the body double said, smiling. “This is quite a big case for your first time. Did you not have any experience at all prior to this?”
“That’s right,” Zhou Luoyang said. “I’m completely counting on shifu’s guidance. He’s very skilled. All I need to do is stand on the sidelines and cheer him on.”
The body double nodded. “Work hard. With him teaching you, your future prospects are boundless.”
And thus, Du Jing gains another nickname, Zhou Luoyang thought. When we get back, I’ll have something to tease him about.
“I didn’t expect him to be so young,” the body double sighed.
Zhou Luoyang knew that this young man was sighing out of awe of Du Jing’s talent and ability. When you compared yourself to others, it was easy to be upset by the contrast.
“Were the cameras taken care of?” the young man asked after some thought, a bit relaxed now that the assignment was completed.
“I don’t know. Shifu did it,” Zhou Luoyang replied.
The young man got up and pushed open a side door to the conference room to check the surveillance, just in case. It was best to err on the side of caution.
“Want to grab a late-night snack later?” the young man asked.
But Zhou Luoyang looked at the young man gravely. He was smiling broadly at him with Wu Xingping’s face.
“Promise me one thing: don’t stray from our side later, no matter what,” Zhou Luoyang suddenly said. “Not until we’ve left safely.”
The young man was caught off guard by this request, but he didn’t take it as a joke by any means. “What’s wrong?”
Zhou Luoyang had thought of that night when Yu Jianqiang had fallen off the top of a building to his death. They’d ended up saving a life, but it had led to the expected death of a different person. What did that mean? Now that they’d saved this young man’s life, would someone else have to die as compensation?
Zhou Luoyang gazed at him, and the young man didn’t ask why; he just nodded seriously.
“Got it,” he agreed frankly.
Zhou Luoyang glanced at the surveillance and asked, “Are these your people or theirs?”
Twenty-something people had appeared on the cameras. They parked their cars in the garage and filed into the emergency exit. No one waited for the elevator.
“Theirs.” The young man glanced at his phone and said, “You have to tell your shifu to hurry. Their hired thugs are almost here.”
Zhou Luoyang went out right away and knocked on the door. The supervisor’s face was bloody and bruised, and he was led out of the room blindfolded, looking extremely haggard.
The young man asked, “Does this building have any other exits?”
Du Jing replied, “Not sure. Follow me. When will your people get here?”
The young man didn’t want his response to be overheard, so he held up two fingers.
The supervisor wanted to stealthily pull down the blindfold, but Du Jing socked him with his left hand and said threateningly, “Behave.”
Even Zhou Luoyang felt the pain of that punch when he heard the crisp sound of a fist striking bone.
“They blocked both emergency exits.”
Du Jing forced open the elevator doors and looked up and down. “Is anyone standing guard at the elevator doors in the underground parking garage?”
“Yes,” the young man answered.
“You go first, the hostage goes after. Hurry! Or I’ll push you down.”
The supervisor seemed to have been utterly frightened into submission through that brief chat with Du Jing. He was taken inside the elevator shaft and onto the vertical ladder used for maintenance.
The young man went down first, followed by the supervisor. Du Jing said to Zhou Luoyang, “Get on my back.”
“I can climb on my own,” Zhou Luoyang said.
“We’re running out of time. Quick!” Du Jing urged.
Zhou Luoyang had no choice but to grab onto Du Jing from behind. He wound his left arm around Du Jing’s shoulders and his right arm around his waist, then clasped his hands together in front of Du Jing’s chest.
The young man grabbed onto the pole of the ladder and slid down.
Pale as a sheet and sweating profusely, the supervisor slowly climbed downwards.
Du Jing got on the ladder with Zhou Luoyang on his back—and he still had strength to spare. He stepped on the supervisor’s hand and snapped, “Faster!”
The supervisor immediately shrieked and nearly fell off, but he did his best to steady himself and then slid downwards. Once he was five or six floors down, Du Jing also grabbed onto the edge of the ladder with both hands, and all of a sudden Zhou Luoyang felt weightless, nearly flying up off Du Jing’s back.
“Don’t rush me! Don’t rush me!” the supervisor cried.
The four of them slid all the way down to floor B1. The elevator doors that Du Jing had pried apart on their way up were still open.
Just like that, Du Jing had evaded all the bodyguards heading up the stairs.
“Get ready,” he instructed the young man.
As soon as they stepped into the garage, the two bodyguards standing guard outside caught sight of them. The supervisor, still blindfolded, yelled, “Don’t shoot!”
As soon as he spoke, there was a quiet bang from a silenced pistol, and the sound of car alarms immediately erupted. Du Jing herded the three of them behind a car and adjusted the brass knuckles on his hand.
“Looks like your underlings don’t value your life very much.” The young man began inspecting the bullets in the seized pistol, reloaded the magazine, and pulled the safety lever.
Another car drove into the garage and blocked off the exit. It turned on its high beams, illuminating the entire garage and four bodyguards got out. They had already alerted UT to their presence.
“Leave the garage,” Du Jing said. “I’ll draw them away. If we split up, we’ll meet up again on our own.”
The supervisor shook uncontrollably. The young man said, “Let’s go!”
Right then, Du Jing rolled sideways and rushed out into the bodyguards’ line of sight. Zhou Luoyang knew that he absolutely could not encumber Du Jing at this time. He grabbed the supervisor and said, “Go!”
The young man hunched over and broke into a run, leading the two of them into the depths of the dark garage. At the same time, gunshots erupted, and even though the pistols were silenced, the sound of five or six guns firing into the darkness was deafening.
The bullets seemed to brush right over their heads. Fortunately they couldn’t see anything in the darkness. Dozens of car alarms blared madly, masking the sound of their footsteps. The young man dashed forward, keeping his head down and dragging the supervisor along by the collar.
They were only ten meters from the exit of the garage.
The supervisor started struggling. He quietly hissed, “Let me go! You won’t regret it!”
“Shut up! They want to kill you right now! Don’t do anything stupid if you don’t want to die!” the young man said.
Just when they emerged into the open, two bodyguards spotted them and promptly rushed at them. The young man shoved the supervisor at Zhou Luoyang and tossed him the gun.
“Bring him out with you!” He launched himself over the hood of a car at the closest bodyguard and twisted him to the ground.
The other bodyguard rushed up from behind and pressed a gun to the young man’s head.
It was the same scene once again! At that moment, Zhou Luoyang couldn’t spare the effort to keep an eye on the supervisor anymore. He swiped a leg out sideways, tripping the man in an instant. The bodyguard flew onto the hood of the car. Zhou Luoyang appeared from behind the car and pressed his gun to the back of his head, but he couldn’t stop shaking, nor could he bring himself to pull the trigger. The young man took care of one guy, lunged over, struck the bodyguard in the temple with his elbow, and pushed him down.
“Where is he?” the young man asked.
The supervisor took advantage of this opportunity to finally pull off the blindfold and make a run for it!
“Don’t go!” Zhou Luoyang had a feeling that something bad was about to happen.
But the supervisor ran toward the car parked at the garage exit, yelling, “Don’t shoot!”
The bodyguards had already all gone to fight Du Jing, so there was no one guarding the car, and he quickly scrambled inside.
The high beams went out, and the car turned around lightning fast and sped out of the garage. Zhou Luoyang grabbed the young man firmly, refusing to let go. Suddenly, Du Jing rushed over and solidly shouldered a bodyguard that was creeping up behind Zhou Luoyang, sending the man flying.
Zhou Luoyang: “……”
“When you’re fleeing, remember to check if anyone’s sneaking up on you from behind,” said Du Jing.
“He got away!” the young man exclaimed. “He isn’t driving very fast! I can catch up! I can hop on that car!”
Du Jing yelled, “Don’t chase after him! The people upstairs are coming down!”
Du Jing arrived behind the two of them. The emergency exit door opened, and the bodyguards rushed out. Du Jing ran out the garage exit, dragging Zhou Luoyang behind him.
As soon as they left the garage, the streetlights outside blinded Zhou Luoyang until he couldn’t open his eyes. The three of them ran onto the grass. The young man clearly wanted to chase after the supervisor, but Zhou Luoyang had his wrist in a death grip.
Very soon, a car turned past the intersection. But just as it was about to run a red light and drive away, a freight truck that was waiting nearby suddenly started up and sped toward the car as fast as lightning!
The three of them watched as the freight truck smashed into the car. The car was launched into midair, where it flipped over—and then there was a deafening crash as it slammed heavily onto the ground.
The young man: “……”
12:00 AM. Half of the supervisor’s body was hanging out of the driver’s seat window. His eyes were wide open. Blood pooled on the ground.
The freight truck reversed, getting ready to leave, but just then, five police cars arrived from the other side of the intersection and blocked off the road.
“Let’s go,” Du Jing immediately said.
Zhou Luoyang took a deep breath. His mind was totally blank. This was his second time watching someone die with his own eyes.
“Holy shit,” the young man muttered. “That was too vicious.”
The three of them made their way through the grass. The most important question now had become how to escape. Fortunately, the police had only just arrived, so they hadn’t yet surrounded them fully. Many bodyguards ran out of the underground garage, scattering in all directions. No one dared drive a car; everyone quietly disappeared into the night.
Zhou Luoyang ran blindly behind Du Jing. They ran an entire two kilometers, making two turns along the way, before they came to a stop, panting, hearts still in their throats.
“Be careful of the night patrol,” the young man said. “Head somewhere with more people, where it’ll be easier to blend in.”
Du Jing let go of Zhou Luoyang’s hand. In front of them was a river, and on both shores of the river were bright yellow lights that shone all night long. The bars in the distance were still open.
“Where are we?” asked the young man.
Zhou Luoyang remembered now—he’d been here before. He and Du Jing had come here four years ago.
“Qinhuai River,” Zhou Luoyang answered.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cat.