Jiang Ting quickly went downstairs, crossed the hotel lobby, rushed out through the main entrance, and stood by the bustling street, frowning as he looked at the traffic in the distance.

Yan Yi followed him and draped his windbreaker over Jiang Ting’s shoulders, simply saying, “It’s cold outside.”

Jiang Ting nodded, “Qi Sihao said he’ll be here in a few minutes.”

The fact that Spade K made a move so quickly caught them off guard. After all, Jiang Ting had no intention of killing Qi Sihao before, only to coerce and manipulate him for personal gain. Therefore, when Qi Sihao hesitated between following their actions or staying in Gongzhou, Jiang Ting advised him to maintain his daily routine and not let others notice anything unusual.

“What do you think is the deal with Fang Zhenghong?” Qi Sihao’s car was still nowhere to be seen. Yan Yi took out a cigarette, lit it, and asked Jiang Ting, “His attitude seems as if he knows you from before?”

Jiang Ting reached out to take the cigarette but was stopped by Yan Yi. “Your health is not good. Let it be.”

Recently, Yan Yi had been influenced by some unorthodox health theories he saw on Mrs. Zeng Cuicui’s Moments. When buying breakfast, he refused to buy red bean buns and insisted that Jiang Ting eat more meat, claiming it would nourish his body. Now, he prevented Jiang Ting from smoking, even twisting his body intentionally, with a face that expressed vigilance.jpg.

Jiang Ting sighed deeply, thinking that the article Yang Mei sent him on WeChat was indeed correct. Family members without economic income could only be considered second-class citizens. So, he reluctantly rubbed his nose and said, “We’ve met, but we’re not familiar.”

“What do you mean by ’not familiar’?”

“We’ve cooperated a few times before during the joint operations between Gongzhou and Jianning. He was the team leader from Jianning, so we worked together a few times. I felt that he followed my instructions and had a moderate approach to everything. So, when you said that Fang Zhenghong disliked you because of your family’s wealth, I was quite surprised because in my impression, he never relied on his seniority. On the contrary, he always showed respect towards others.”

At this point, Jiang Ting paused and cautiously added, “But this alone can only indicate that he had a favorable opinion of me as an individual. It’s impossible for him to firmly believe that I have no association with the drug traffickers based on just a few times of collaboration.”

—So where did Fang Zhenghong’s peculiar and contrasting attitude towards the two of them come from?

Yan Yi pondered while smoking, then inhaled sharply and said, “Do you think the gun stolen by Yue Guangping was really taken by Fang Zhenghong?”

“Hard to say. It depends on what kind of benefits Spade K can offer to lure him in.” Jiang Ting contemplated and continued, “But I always feel… Fang Zhenghong’s attitude towards you, instead of being driven by personal gain, it’s more like…”

Yan Yi looked at him, and the two locked eyes on the noisy street. After a moment, Jiang Ting finally uttered those two words in confusion:

“Hatred.”

Squeak—

At this moment, a Mercedes-Benz abruptly stopped by the side of the road. The car window rolled down, revealing Qi Sihao’s sweaty face. “I’m here, get in quickly! Get in quickly!”

·

In preparation for Qi Sihao’s arrival, Fang Zhenghong was once again gagged with the gloves and locked in the bathroom. Being a middle-aged man, he was driven to the point of anger by Yan Yi’s constant torment. He kept protesting inside the bathroom with squeaking and whimpering sounds. However, Qi Sihao was terrified enough, and when he entered the room, he tremblingly held a cup of hot water, completely ignoring the commotion coming from the bathroom.

“I left home this morning to attend a meeting at the Municipal Party Committee. Just after I left the neighborhood, a white van started following me, neither too close nor too far behind. At first, I didn’t pay much attention, but when I reached a quieter section after exiting the elevated highway, another truck suddenly sped up from behind, continuously crossing the line to force me towards the right side of the road—I felt that something was wrong even if I were slow. They clearly intended to ram into me! I tried to accelerate to shake off the two vehicles, but whenever I sped up, both the van and the truck accelerated as well. The van tried to block me from the left side, while the truck kept colliding with the rear of my car. It went on like this for several kilometers. I couldn’t describe the situation in detail at that time; I was too nervous to even see the license plate clearly. If I had the slightest distraction, I would have already been killed in a car accident. Fortunately… What’s that sound?!”

Qi Sihao was startled and looked toward the bathroom. Yan Yi casually said, “It’s nothing, just a stray dog.”

Qi Sihao: “?”

The protests from the bathroom grew louder.

“So, you didn’t go to the Municipal Party Committee and came straight to Gaorong County?” Jiang Ting asked.

“I wouldn’t dare to go to the meeting!” Qi Sihao mournfully said, “They even dared to make a move on me on the way to the Municipal Party Committee. How audacious can these people be?!”

Yan Yi leaned against the TV cabinet with his arms crossed and chuckled, “You’re quite daring, driving your little million-dollar car to the Municipal Party Committee, afraid that the Discipline Inspection Commission wouldn’t know how much money you’ve made.”

“Yes, yes,” Qi Sihao spread his hands, feeling both regretful and wronged, “But how would I know that making this little bit of money would anger a drug lord like Spade K? They are the ones involved in drug production and trafficking, making big money from it. I was just approving some ‘small packages’ and having some meat soup. Did they really have to repeatedly try to kill me?”

—Unknown to Yan Yi, after Qi Sihao finished speaking, the noise from the bathroom suddenly stopped.

“If that’s how you think, then there will be bigger trouble in the future,” Jiang Ting calmly said.

He wouldn’t have said that, but upon hearing those words, Qi Sihao’s face turned pale and red. Annoyed, he jumped up and said, “Is this the time to discuss whether I’m at fault? You promised me that as long as I cooperate with the investigation into Yue Guangping’s murder, we can gather evidence against the drug traffickers and bring Spade K to justice. But what now? Where is the progress of your investigation?!”

Yan Yi said, “Calm down, Qi Sihao. We have at least found out that Yue Guangping may have had an illegitimate child…”

“Could that child be Spade K?” Qi Sihao, anxious and angry, interrupted him, “His son is a drug trafficker, which is why Operation 1009 was leaked in advance. Feeling guilty and remorseful, he wanted to meet with Team Leader Jiang, but his son got to him first and silenced him?”

Silence filled the room as the individuals exchanged glances. Finally, Yang Mei let out a satisfied sigh, “Qi Team, why don’t you write crime novels?”

“Spade K’s family is a legitimate criminal organization, and his father and even his grandfather were all involved in shady dealings. He was called Spade K in the early years in the southwestern border area because his father was once called Grass Flower A. That’s how it evolved,” Jiang Ting said, “If we assume that his son is Spade K himself, it would be too far-fetched. But I suspect that Yue Guangping’s illegitimate child has some connection to the Spade K criminal group, and it’s even possible that the child was planted by the drug traffickers as an insider beside Yue Guangping.”

“Then go and investigate already!” Qi Sihao nearly had a heart attack, “Didn’t you solemnly promise to uncover the mole? Didn’t you want to clear Team Leader Jiang’s name? Jiang, you have a blood feud with Spade K’s grandson. Can you just stand by and let him continue to harm the righteous? You have to save me!”

Qi Sihao reached out to grab Jiang Ting’s hand, but Jiang Ting quickly and agilely stepped back. Yan Yi, who had been a few steps away, immediately caught up and forcefully inserted himself between Jiang Ting and Qi Sihao, saying sternly, “Hey, what are you doing? Speak properly and keep your hands to yourself!”

“No, no,” Qi Sihao was repeatedly on the verge of being attacked. Given his greedy and timid nature, his mental state was almost at its limit. He anxiously turned around, intending to plead with Jiang Ting by going past Yan Yi, “Jiang, listen to me. This critical situation—”

But how could Yan Yi allow another man to touch Jiang Ting’s hand? He couldn’t even be ugly at nearly fifty years old. Without distinguishing right from wrong, he pushed him away and angrily said, “Who do you think you are? Stand far away and speak properly!”

Knock, knock, knock!

The pounding on the door resounded heavily, and everyone froze. Jiang Ting searched for the source of the sound with a vigilant gaze.

Knock, knock!

“…” Qi Sihao trembled as he weakly pointed at the bathroom door, “S-someone is knocking on the door?”

The doorknob was laboriously turned and then, in full view of everyone, the door swung open. Freed from the shackles on his feet, Fang Zhenghong struggled to stand up, unlocked the handcuffs with his wrist, and awkwardly squeezed out of the door, glaring at the others, uttering obscenities.

“…” Qi Sihao was dumbfounded and turned his head to look at Yan Yi with an astonished gaze. Is this the stray dog you picked up?

Yan Yi covered his forehead and sighed deeply, stepping forward to remove the tattered gloves from Fang Zhenghong’s mouth, showing a sincere expression with both hands spread open.

“You haven’t met, right? Let me introduce you to each other. This is Qi Sihao from the Gongzhou Criminal Investigation Brigade, currently being hunted by Spade K. And this is Fang Zhenghong from the Jianning Anti-Drug Brigade, currently helping Spade K hunt me down. You two can exchange experiences of being hunted and hunting, learn from each other, and get along well, ah.”

The next moment, Fang Zhenghong interrupted Yan Yi as if he hadn’t heard anything, glaring at Jiang Ting, “Yue Guangping was killed by someone, right?”

Jiang Ting inserted his hands into his pockets without uttering a word.

Fang Zhenghong blinked his wrinkled eyes and turned to Yan Yi, incredulous, “Could it be that the mole is you?!”

· Ten minutes later, in the hotel room.

Yan Yi forcefully slapped the armrest, but was held down on the chair by the others, “Let go of him! Let me hit him some more! If he doesn’t submit, I’ll change my surname to Fang!”

Jiang Ting guarded Fang Zhenghong at the other end of the room, while Yang Mei hypocritically tried to persuade Yan Yi, “Yan Deputy, don’t be like this. After all, he is a regular brigade leader, and you, diligently working for over ten years, are only a deputy. We can’t compare with someone superior to us. Don’t clash with him…”

Yang Mei couldn’t hide her joy, and Yan Yi, upon hearing her, nearly rolled up his sleeves in anger, exclaiming, “Let go of me!”

“You’re still stubborn?!” Fang Zhenghong couldn’t hold back any longer and stuck his head out from under Jiang Ting’s grip, his face turning red. “If it’s not you who is the mole in the Jianning Municipal Bureau, then who could it be? Ever since the Hu Weisheng drug case, your whereabouts have been secretive. You often act alone during investigations, and you even left the scene where hostages were rescued in a police car without authorization. Who knows what you’re up to?!”

Yan Yi’s eyebrows shot up, ready to retort, but Jiang Ting swiftly interjected, “Captain Fang, on the night of the hostage rescue in the Hu Weisheng case, I discovered the sniper’s whereabouts and even engaged in a close-quarters battle on an abandoned road. Deputy Yan acted on his own to capture the sniper.”

Fang Zhenghong was at a loss for words, but then he straightened his neck and said, “He locks himself in his office all the time, doing god knows what. He often secretly makes phone calls during investigations—”

“That’s to contact me,” Jiang Ting said gently. “Han Xiaomei and Ma Xiang can testify to that.”

Seizing the opportunity, Yan Yi let out an extremely sarcastic laugh.

“…Then, then…” Fang Zhenghong’s index finger trembled as he was provoked by this laughter. He was on the verge of saying something reckless, “On the day when Yan drank poisoned alcohol, no normal person could have survived, but he miraculously got rescued on the deserted mountain road. How is that possible?! Why doesn’t anyone think that it was a staged act he deliberately directed to clear his name and avoid suspicion?!”

Yan Yi made a gesture as if he was about to spray him, and Jiang Ting helplessly said, “But Captain Fang, that mountain road wasn’t empty on that day.”

Fang Zhenghong’s eyes widened, only to see Jiang Ting’s left hand on his shoulder and his right hand lifting his own hair, revealing the fresh and unhealed scar on his temple.

“On the day of the incident, I followed Yan Ting in an off-road vehicle, and when the poison took effect, I crashed into his car to save him. Then Ma Xiang arrived and took us to the hospital. That’s how Yan Ting survived.”

The room fell silent, and Fang Zhenghong opened his mouth, his expression particularly absurd and ridiculous.

“You…you…” After a while, he finally struggled to squeeze out a few words, “What is your relationship?”

Jiang Ting sighed as he supported his temple. “I told you, I am a family member accompanying him.”

Fang Zhenghong staggered backward a few steps and sat on the bed, looking somewhat disoriented, as if his worldview had been shattered.

Everyone stared at him without saying a word, except for Yang Mei, who had a face full of sympathy, feeling an eerie sense of empathy.

“Now it’s my turn to ask, Captain Fang,” Yan Yi sneered, the corners of his mouth curling up, a mocking and triumphant expression on his face.

Fang Zhenghong: “…”

Yan Yi towered over him, looking down with a cold gaze, and asked one word at a time, “What the hell did I do to make you not only think that I’m the mole in Jianning but also repeatedly attempt to kill me, huh?!”

“…,” Fang Zhenghong’s gaze was fixed on Yan Yi after a long time, and he finally raised his head. His eyes were sharp and terrifyingly bright.

“Because I thought you might want to harm him,” Fang Zhenghong slowly said, “Just like how I was injured before, after drinking your alcohol…I became seriously ill and still haven’t recovered.”