Jianning Chemical Plant Storage Duty Room. Midnight, two o’clock. Outside the window, the boundless darkness was accompanied by the intermittent chirping of insects in the grass. The duty officer sat in front of the monitor, dozing off bit by bit. Just as he was drifting into drowsiness, the light bulb above his head made a sizzling sound of electrical overload and flickered a few times before going out.

“Huh?” The duty officer woke up abruptly and saw nothing but darkness in front of him. Reflexively, he turned around and asked, “What’s going on?”

At that moment, a pale figure flashed across the corner of his eye, like a ghost disappearing into the darkness.

“…”

The duty officer had just graduated from high school, usually a timid and somewhat sloppy young man. Now he was dumbfounded on the spot, even subconsciously wondering what was here. But before he could finish his thought, his scalp exploded with a “buzz,” and cold sweat broke out all over his body. “Who…”

A cold hand silently touched the back of his neck.

“Ah! Ah! A ghost!”

With one clean and swift blow, the hand silenced the duty officer’s scream, and he collapsed limply to the ground.

Chu Ci, expressionless, shook his hand, adjusted his white coat, and gently placed the frightened duty officer in a sleeping position on the chair. Then he reached into the officer’s pocket and pulled out a bunch of access cards.

The door card to the Chemical Materials Storage Control Room made a beep sound, and the glass door silently slid open in the darkness.

At this time, the patrol guards were not on duty, and the relief guards hadn’t arrived yet. It could be said that it was the safest time in the silent and empty warehouse. Chu Ci, familiar with the route, passed through rows of chemical reagent storage tanks, turned on a flashlight, and meticulously searched through each labeled container.

“…R6 Balanced Catalyst, Methanol…ortho-Chlorobenzaldehyde.”

Chu Ci halted his steps, standing in front of a storage tank that was over half a person’s height.

With one hand in his white coat pocket and the other holding the flashlight, the beam of light trembled slightly in the darkness, casting an obscure and mysterious shadow on his profile. He stood there for a long moment, seemingly awakening, took a deep breath, and took a half-step forward to squat at the dispensing pipe. Using his teeth to hold the flashlight, he took out testing kits and other items from his pocket.

However, just as his fingertips were about to touch the dispensing pipe, his cellphone in his pocket suddenly vibrated violently. Taking it out and looking at the caller ID, he paused for a moment.

Mentor?

His mentor was a workaholic who often spent nights in the laboratory. It was common for him to call in the middle of the night to ask about data. But no one expected it to be so coincidental, right at this moment. At that moment, when speaking was inappropriate, Chu Ci was about to hang up the call, but suddenly, without any warning, a voice came from the entrance of the warehouse:

“Who’s there?!”

“!”

Several crashing sounds of chemical containers falling resounded sharply in the dark night. Someone had arrived?! Chu Ci clicked off the flashlight, hastily answered the call, and the cellphone fell to the ground!

In an instant, the call connected, the screen lit up, and the call timer started. Chu Ci’s pupils contracted, and he reached out to grab the phone and end the call, but all the changes occurred within the blink of an eye. The footsteps of the approaching person had already reached his ears, and they pounced on him from behind, grabbing his hand!

“…!”

Chu Ci’s breath got stuck in his chest. He turned his head sharply and, in that instant, locked eyes with the other person.

The traffic lights kept flashing, the bustling noise of horns and screeching brakes filled the air as pedestrians hurriedly crossed the street.

The sky over Jianning City was covered in heavy clouds, the air was heavy and humid, permeated with a faint salty smell of mud.

The rainy season was approaching.

“Hey, are you okay?”

After a moment of silence on the other end of the phone, probably a bit surprised, Jiang Ting’s calm and steady voice came, “I’m fine.”

Yan Yin stood in front of the office window, gazing at the distant gloomy sky. The glass reflected half of his rugged and weary face.

“You hit the nail on the head,” he said, “Hu Weisheng is dead.”

Jiang Ting showed no signs of surprise, just responded with a “Hmm.”

Yan Yin asked, “Aren’t you going to ask how he died or who killed him?”

“A person’s life is very fragile. There are countless ways to kill someone, but the fact that they are already dead cannot be changed. The clear target for Hu Weisheng’s life is not the focus of the current investigation.”

Yan Yin said, “Why don’t you become a Buddha?”

Jiang Ting didn’t respond to this joke that had no humor. He didn’t even give a perfunctory chuckle, and instead asked directly, “What’s your plan now?”

Yan Yin walked through the office and stood at the doorway, looking out through the glass. Everyone in the lobby was busy at their computers. The high-resolution surveillance video of the “Spring Blossoms” had been obtained from the Forensic Evidence Center. The city bureau had mobilized dozens of visual surveillance personnel from the sub-bureaus and police stations to conduct a round-the-clock investigation.

“After you left last night, I thought for a long time alone,” Yan Yin suddenly said without warning, “I think I understand your hint.”

“…”

“The ‘Spring Blossoms’ event had nothing to do with our target blue merchandise. In other words, the police’s operation had deviated from the main focus. The reason for this conclusion is that if Hu Weisheng could obtain the blue merchandise from his supplier at any time, he wouldn’t have needed to carefully hide that small bag on the rooftop for such a long time, to the point where the label on the sealed bag was fading.”

“That bag of drugs was obtained from elsewhere,” Yan Yin continued, “The ‘Spring Blossoms’ event was not the key reason for someone trying to silence him. It was that bag of drugs.”

A faint sound of footsteps came from the other end of the phone. Yang Mei’s distinctive, slightly hoarse and charming voice was soft as she called, “Jiang Ge.”

Jiang Ting covered the bottom of the phone and replied with something, probably saying, “Put it aside for now.”

“What is it?” Yan Yin asked sensitively.

Jiang Ting answered, “Lunch.”

Yan Yin: “…”

“The cash that was scattered in the nightclub last night, a total of 60,000 yuan, is Yang Mei’s money. Remember to reimburse it from the case funds.”

Yan Yin said incredulously, “We just went through life and death together, and you don’t have any deep thoughts or reflections. All you remember is money?”

“If it weren’t for money, Feng Yuguang wouldn’t have died, and Hu Weisheng wouldn’t have been silenced. There would be no drug trafficking in this world, and the global crime rate would decrease by at least 80 percent. So money is important. By the way,” Jiang Ting lazily added, “Our experience is not just surviving together, it’s also about extending a helping hand to save someone.”

Yan Yin’s temple throbbed with anger.

“Don’t forget to reimburse,” Jiang Ting said, and then hung up the phone.

“Yan Ge!” There were two knocks on the office door, and Ma Xiang’s voice came, “The provincial experts have arrived. Director Lv is urging you to get things done quickly!”

Yan Yin snapped back to reality. “Got it, wait a moment!”

After thinking for a long time, he walked back to the window and quickly dialed a number. As expected, the call connected quickly, and just as it rang for the third time, a voice full of killing intent came from the other side, “Hello!”

“Hello, Dad.” Yan Yin lowered his voice before the other side started cursing, “Can you do me a favor?”

Jianning City Public Security Bureau, Small Conference Room.

Yan Yin pushed the door open and entered. The entire conference room was already filled with people. At the front of the long table sat Director Lv, the top official of the city’s public security system. He was chubby and seemed as harmless as the Maitreya Buddha, focused with his eyes lowered. On his right side were two deputy directors, several division leaders, forensic experts, and other officials. On his left side were three unfamiliar faces, probably experts from the provincial department.

“At twelve twenty last night, the detained suspect Hu Weisheng voluntarily requested to confess the situation. The information was reported to the Criminal Investigation Division by the supervising police officers, causing high concern. At twelve thirty, Hu Weisheng claimed to have a drug addiction and requested to exchange drugs for information. This information was reported to Deputy Director Wei Yao by Guo Huanqing and others from the Criminal Investigation Division. Deputy Director Wei approved the use of two doses of medical morphine.”

Despite the gazes from the entire conference room, Yan Yin seemed completely oblivious. He did not interrupt Guo Li’s speech and quietly pulled out a chair, sitting down and quickly exchanging a glance with Director Lv.

“The regulation at the Forensic Medicine Department states that medical morphine must be personally obtained from the chief forensic pathologist. The key and the signature are in the hands of the chief forensic pathologist, but last night there was an urgent operation by the city bureau, and I was on duty with the task force, so I left the Forensic Medicine Department,” Guo Li took a breath and said, “The situation at that time was extremely tense. Hu Weisheng was an important target that the Criminal Investigation Division had been targeting for a long time, and he had strong anti-surveillance and interrogation capabilities. In order to obtain his cooperation and leads, Deputy Director Wei made a special request and urgently retrieved a dose of diacetylmorphine from the confiscated controlled substances of the Drug Control Division.”

Diacetylmorphine, heroin.

Who would have thought that just one dose of heroin would send the old drug addict Hu Weisheng to his death?

The provincial experts exchanged glances, and the middle-aged man in front spoke, “What operation were you involved in last night?”

Guo Li looked at Yan Yin for help, and Qin Chuan coughed and interrupted, “Hu Weisheng confessed that the upper-level drug trafficking channel for the ‘Spring Blossoms’ event on Yihu Road is related to our case. Therefore, our bureau planned an infiltration operation. Deputy Chief Yan Yin and Director Guo went on the operation.”

“Oh,” the middle-aged man responded calmly, “How did the operation go?”

Qin Chuan said, “We arrested three suspects involved in drug trafficking…”

“How much evidence was seized? How many grams of various drugs and banned substances were confiscated?”

“…”

“Were there any new types of psychotropic drugs used by the victim in case 502? Can it be determined that they are related to this case?”

Qin Chuan hesitated.

“So,” the middle-aged man summed up, “The joint infiltration and search conducted by the Criminal Investigation Division, the Drug Control Division, and the Forensic Medicine Department of the Jianning City Bureau achieved almost no results, but instead led to the death of an important suspect, Hu Weisheng.”

The discussion in the conference room sounded as if Hu Weisheng had been deliberately killed to silence him. The expressions on everyone’s faces were not pleasant.

Qin Chuan’s face turned sour, and he was about to speak when he was suddenly interrupted by Fang Zhenghong.

“What Chen said makes sense,” Fang Zhenghong affirmed. His face was pale and weak as he spoke, “We must immediately investigate the events of last night, isolate and interrogate all relevant personnel, and arrange for an autopsy. The Case 502 has made significant progress, and we will provide a response to the provincial department as soon as possible.”

Fang Zhenghong, as an elder, had a smooth and tactful way of speaking. However, Chen did not follow this approach.

“Investigate? No need,” Chen said forcefully, “Strictly speaking, your forensic director can also be considered one of the responsible parties for Hu Weisheng’s death. To avoid suspicion, let’s isolate you as well!”

Guo Li’s face changed, “What do you mean by that?”

“The provincial technical personnel will be responsible for the autopsy of Hu Weisheng’s body. In addition, Deputy Director Wei Yao and others will be isolated and interrogated by the task force. This case has been closely monitored by the provincial department for so long, but you have been unable to make progress, and now an important suspect has died, died within the Public Security Bureau! Whether it’s a misunderstanding or a mistake, we cannot allow any secrets that should not see the light of day to be hidden in our esteemed city’s public security bureau!”

Chen’s words resounded loudly, and the echo lingered. Everyone’s faces turned exceptionally unpleasant.

“The application for the emergency use of diacetylmorphine by Deputy Director Wei was approved by me,” a slow and deliberate voice suddenly came from the head seat.

Everyone looked up and saw Director Lv, who had a kind face, lifting a thermos cup. The posture was as if he was clasping his hands together, and the leather chair beneath his big bottom emitted a creaking sound under the weight.

Yan Yin raised a case file to block the view and secretly made a gesture, and Director Lv nodded almost imperceptibly.

Chen asked, “So?”

He didn’t notice that the division leaders and directors below were showing a relieved look.

“So, our current investigation focus is not only on the bureau but also on the provincial department. We stand on the same standpoint. We know that based on the long-term experience of drug control work, the likelihood of severe addicts like Hu Weisheng overdosing or having an allergic reaction to diacetylmorphine is minimal. However, based on the spirit of seeking truth from facts, we must also acknowledge that even though the possibility is very, very small, the fact that it exists cannot be completely denied…”

“Wait, wait,” Chen could no longer bear it and forcefully interrupted the recitation of the Great Compassion Mantra, “Director Lv, are you suggesting that Hu Weisheng died from an allergic reaction to drugs that he himself took?!”

Director Lv affirmed, “We cannot rule out this possibility.”

“Hu…” From his lip movement, it seemed that Chen had swallowed the words “nonsense” and was almost choked, “Nonsensical speculation! This is impossible!”

But Director Lv remained unfazed, without even a hint of displeasure. He still appeared very approachable.

“Young man, that’s not correct. There is always a possibility in everything. For example, society generally believes that long-term drug users have a strong tolerance to drugs. However, among the annual deaths from drug use, there is an increasing trend of cases where morphine addicts are allergic to amphetamine compounds, new psychotropic drug addicts are allergic to morphine-based drugs, and even more serious cases where drug users are severely allergic to drug additives such as antifreeze, battery acid, leading to shock, heart failure, and death. Do you know the official statistics for drug allergy deaths in Jianning City last year?”

Chen: “…”

The room fell silent.

The three provincial experts never imagined that Director Lv would calmly and smoothly recite this lengthy passage without any fluctuations or pauses. They were shocked.

“509 cases, an increase of 1172 compared to the same period two years ago,” Director Lv continued with a persuasive tone.

As his words trailed off, a phone in the conference room suddenly made a ding sound.

The crowd turned their heads, only to see Yan Yin glancing at the text message on his newly arrived phone. He then lifted his head and met Director Lv’s inquiring gaze, making his first brief statement since entering the conference room today:

“It’s done.”

Chen: “???”

The ringing suddenly erupted, and Chen looked down to find that it was his own phone, displaying a call from Liu, the Provincial Party Committee Secretary.

“So, before the Case 502 is completely solved, any internal investigation that delays the progress of the investigation should be conducted under the premise of not affecting the work of the municipal bureau, with self-examination by the municipal bureau as the main focus and oversight from the provincial department as secondary. I completely agree with Secretary Liu’s opinion.” Maitreya Buddha, at four times his normal speaking speed, finished the lengthy sentence and smiled faintly. “Answer the call, Chen.”

Chen picked up the phone inexplicably and walked out while answering the call, “Hello, Secretary Liu… Yes, yes, it’s about the abnormal death of a suspect in Jianning City Public Security Bureau…”

The voice gradually faded as it moved away down the corridor, and silence fell in the conference room.

Two minutes later, the door opened again, and Chen, with a grim face, stared at Director Lv.

“You intentionally delayed the time?!”

Director Lv chuckled, appearing very benevolent.

One of the provincial experts asked softly, “What’s going on, Old Chen?”

Chen pointed at Director Lv, unable to speak, his temper completely lost. After a while, he said resentfully, “Secretary Liu just called and asked the municipal bureau not to temporarily interrupt the investigation of Case 502. The situation with Wei Yao and the autopsy of Hu Weisheng will be handled by the municipal bureau itself, and we are responsible for oversight!”

“Ah?” The others were all stunned.

Chen’s gaze shifted accurately to the farthest corner of the conference table. His gaze was like that of a strict headmaster staring at a student who was cheating on a test, and he coldly snorted, “Yan Yin?”

“…”

“You’re Yan Yin, the deputy director who came from the wealthy family of Jianning Coal Mine?”

Yan Yin still didn’t say a word.

“Listen carefully,” Chen said coldly, “I don’t care about your father’s relationship with Secretary Liu, or how much tax your family pays, or how many investment projects you support. I’ll be keeping an eye on your Criminal Investigation Division here. As long as there’s any shady business in Case 502, I guarantee you won’t be able to work in the public security system for the rest of your life!”

With a loud bang, Chen angrily slammed the door and left.

The conference room once again fell into an extremely awkward silence. Everyone looked at each other, their breathing irregular.

After an unknown amount of time, Yan Yin coughed and slowly said, “Um, let me clarify. Our family hasn’t been the richest for a long time. Last year, we were surpassed by those who got into internet finance.”

Everyone: “…………….”

Director Lv struggled to stand up with the support of the armrests and solemnly said, “Meeting adjourned.”

People came and went in front of the Criminal Investigation Building of the Municipal Bureau. Director Lv walked out of the main entrance, carrying a briefcase. His plump body slightly leaned to one side, and one hand in the air swayed slightly as he spoke, like a middle school principal giving a morning exercise speech to the students:

“… All personnel involved in the handling of diacetylmorphine will be summoned for questioning and have their traces checked. I still insist on this view: the possibility of Hu Weisheng’s death being caused by an allergic reaction to drug additives is very small. So, please arrange the autopsy immediately, and Yan Yin, the 72-hour deadline given by Old Wei is still valid. As for the surveillance video from the evidence center…”

“Understood,” Yan Yin said briefly, “I will take care of it.”

Director Lv nodded in satisfaction. “We owe you for this matter, Yan Yin.”

Yan Yin said, “Everyone is just trying to skip unnecessary procedures and solve the case as soon as possible. We, in the Criminal Investigation Division, should thank Director Lv for your trust.”

Director Lv laughed heartily. “No, no, without trust, there is no trust.”

Yan Yin: “…”

Director Lv patted Yan Yin’s shoulder and kindly said, “If it turns out that Old Wei is involved in the end, either the high walls of the prison or the cement walls inside the prison will be your ultimate destination. Hahaha.”

Yan Yin’s mouth twitched uncontrollably. Director Lv waved his hand, walked down the steps confidently, and got into the waiting Hongqi sedan, roaring towards the direction of the provincial department.

The national flag was dyed red with the blood of martyrs, and the solid wall of Jianning City’s resistance against crime was built by the people’s police.

This statement is indeed not false.

Yan Yin watched the Hongqi sedan disappear outside the main gate of the municipal bureau and couldn’t help but feel both amused and exasperated.

He stood there for a moment, took out a cigarette case, intending to smoke a cigarette and organize his thoughts before returning to the office to urgently interrogate the drug dealers who still thought they were charged with “harboring prostitution.” However, just as he was about to light the lighter, two loud honks resounded from across the street.

Who wouldn’t recognize Marquis Ma’s penetrating gaze? How dare someone act arrogantly in front of the gate of Jianning’s number one power in the martial arts world?

Yan Yin looked up and his gaze passed through the iron gate, only to see a familiar silver Mercedes parked on the side of the street.

Yang Mei?

Even by very strict standards, Yang Mei could be considered an inspirational success story as a wealthy and beautiful woman.

Jianning, though not comparable to Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou, has always been an extremely prosperous city in the southwestern region. And in this city’s prime commercial area, she drives around with thirty to forty employees under her, owning a luxury car. Even when she casually carries an Hermès or Chanel, she is undoubtedly one of the successful individuals in this city.

But Yan Yin fears nothing.

Although his face, which can be bought for a starting price of fifty thousand, hasn’t been washed in a long time, and stubbles can be seen piercing through his handsome face, he still hasn’t changed his attire from last night when he went undercover at the nightclub. The limited-edition watch on his wrist and the custom-made shoes on his feet give him the confidence to overlook all beings in front of Yang Mei.

Even though he still hasn’t figured out why he needs this kind of confidence.

Yan Yin cleared his throat, adjusted his cuffs, lifted his head and chest as if he were a male model on a catwalk, and crossed the street with standard steps, arriving in front of the silver Mercedes. He tapped the window with his index knuckle, then reservedly opened the passenger door.

“Hey, it’s not allowed at the entrance of the municipal bureau.”

Yan Yin’s proud voice abruptly stopped.

“Are you okay?” Jiang Ting asked with one hand on the steering wheel, doubtful. “You were walking as if you were a peacock spreading its tail feathers just now. You almost got hit by that police car.”

Yan Yin turned his head.

A police Iveco had screeched to a halt in front of the traffic light, and more than ten interns stuck their heads out of the windows in an orderly manner, staring blankly at Deputy Director Yan.

“… " Yan Yin silently sat in the passenger seat of the Mercedes, slammed the door shut with a bang, and acted as if nothing had happened. “Why are you here?”

This car was covered with dark film, almost completely isolating the outside world. The not-so-spacious compartment only accommodated the two of them, sitting shoulder to shoulder. If they leaned slightly, their shoulders might touch.

Yan Yin’s ears felt a little warm, and he rubbed his earlobe with his hand.

Jiang Ting took out a transparent sealed bag from the inside of the car door and said, “I came to give you this.”

Inside was a miniature Bluetooth earpiece!

The expression on Yan Yin’s face instantly changed from “???” to “!!!”

If his mental activity were visualized, it would be a stormy sea with lightning and thunder, a barrage of arrows, and fireworks. He stiffened in the passenger seat, unable to utter a word for a long time.

There are only two ways to retrieve the earpiece: either from the top or from the bottom. Of course, both methods would cause irreversible damage to the delicate electronic device of the miniature earpiece, and it wouldn’t be very comfortable for the person involved. It’s unnecessary to imagine the more specific and vivid scenes.

So now the question is: how did Jiang Ting retrieve the earpiece?

Yan Yin’s gaze was uncontrollable. It moved from Jiang Ting’s pale red lips to the space between their thighs, then back to the lips, and then to the thighs… After a few back and forth, he finally closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and forcefully expelled all the images from his mind.

Then, under Jiang Ting’s increasingly suspicious gaze, he pointed to the earpiece, gathered his courage, and asked, “How did you retrieve it, from the top or the bottom?”

“… " Jiang Ting was bewildered. “Let’s say the bottom, what do you mean?”