A few minutes later, Yan Yin’s phone vibrated, and a gloomy, fierce, and young face appeared on the screen.

Jin Jie, male, of Burmese nationality. The name may not be real, and the age is unknown, estimated to be between twenty-six and twenty-nine. He had been involved in local gangs since his youth, traversing various factions over the years. There is ample evidence of his crimes, including receiving money to kill opponents in underground boxing matches, illegal possession of firearms, ivory smuggling, shooting and killing military police in a gunfight, and trafficking large quantities of drugs.

Five years ago, when the Armed Police confiscated a batch of heroin on the China-Myanmar border, most of the drug traffickers were killed on the spot during the firefight, and two criminals were captured alive. However, the operation was not entirely successful because one of the drug traffickers managed to escape despite being surrounded by five or six armed police officers, seriously injuring two of them. The Armed Police squad conducted a thorough three-day search in the jungle but found no trace of him.

According to the drug traffickers’ confession, this young man was sent by someone “above” to supervise the transportation. His role was to execute anyone who dared to hide drugs or gold during the transport. No one in the smuggling team knew his real name, and they usually called him “Jie Ge” following the Chinese tradition or respectfully referred to him as “Bo Jie” according to Burmese customs. Only once did the leader of the transport team address him as “Fang Pian J.”

Since then, this person gradually disappeared in Myanmar and was said to have died on the China-Myanmar border according to local military police. Who knows how much money the local police received from the drug traffickers.

Now it appears that this person not only did not die but even managed to smuggle himself into China.

“Fang Pian J—” Yan Yin rubbed his chin and said, “If we rank them according to the order of playing cards, this person should be the third-in-command of the Black Spades K drug trafficking group, right?”

The five-star hotel restaurant was filled with elegant music, and the air was fragrant. The waiters moved about silently, and faint clinking sounds of glasses and plates could be heard from a distance.

Jiang Ting gently stirred the remaining half bowl of seafood porridge with a spoon and said with his eyes lowered, “I suppose so.”

But Yan Yin gave a soft hiss. “That’s not right.”

“…”

“Both the head boss of the international criminal organization and the third-in-command, they both risked going to Hu Weisheng’s rooftop to search for a package of ‘Blue Gold.’ Are they just daring, or do they feel invincible? Maybe there are other reasons behind it.”

Jiang Ting said, “How would I know?”

He raised his head, and their gazes met in the air. After a moment, Jiang Ting spread his hands helplessly. “Right now, it’s meaningless for you to make these assumptions. How do you know that these two are just daring? When the police rescue team arrived at the abandoned road that night, on the surface, only two motorcyclists came to rescue Fang Pian J, but in reality, there was an entire convoy of drug traffickers ambushed nearby. It’s hard to say if the police could have survived when the real fight erupted.”

“I have replayed it in my mind many times,” Yan Yin interrupted him, “I feel that on the rooftop, the two of them didn’t seem to have any backup.”

Silence enveloped the surroundings. Jiang Ting remained silent for a moment before finally saying, “Then we can only speculate that when Black Spades K and Fang Pian J went to Hu Weisheng’s rooftop, they were very certain that the police wouldn’t arrive.”

—They had an insider and were well-informed about the progress of the investigation.

In other words, Jiang Ting’s unexpected appearance with Yan Yin at this point was truly surprising to them.

“Could it be that the package of samples hidden by Hu Weisheng is not the same as the ‘Blue Gold’ circulating in the black market?” Yan Yin suddenly said, “So they had to take it away immediately and destroy it themselves, even if it couldn’t be entrusted to others?”

As soon as the words left his mouth, he realized that this hypothesis was not valid. The confessions of the Ding Jiawang drug manufacturing group had already confirmed that the package of samples was stolen by Hu Weisheng from a large shipment, and its chemical composition should not have any special features.

Yan Yin’s thinking involuntarily wandered a bit. What if the importance of that package of Blue Gold samples didn’t lie in its chemical composition but in other aspects?

He tried his best to recall the scenes on the rooftop, passing through the fog of memory to get a clear view of the package of drugs held in Jiang Ting’s hands at that time. Just as a peculiar impression was about to surface from the depths of his mind, Jiang Ting interrupted his thoughts.

“Are you asking these questions now to prove that this Burmese-Chinese person is not Fang Pian J or something?”

“Hmm?” Yan Yin pointed to the screen of the phone and said, “It’s him.”

Yan Yin snapped back to attention, and his eyebrows twitched.

“You remember I mentioned before that when I discovered the existence of the new synthetic compound Blue Gold, I independently investigated this massive drug trafficking organization, right? Several different informants mentioned the presence of this Burmese individual to me. I speculated that it might be due to their shared antisocial personality and similar age. Black Spades K trusts this underling and bodyguard very much, but I can’t determine if he is the second-in-command or the third-in-command below Black Spades K— in other words, whether he is Q or J.”

Finally, Jiang Ting set down the porcelain spoon, gestured for the waiter to take away the nearly empty bowl of porridge, rinsed his mouth with tea, and continued, “Since I wanted to dismantle this organization, I had to first understand its internal structure. But it took a long time because the whereabouts of Black Spades K and the Burmese man were too difficult to determine. I couldn’t even obtain any visual materials… until later, an undercover agent codenamed ‘Rivet’ successfully infiltrated the organization.”

When mentioning Rivet, Jiang Ting paused for a moment.

Yan Yin stared closely at his eyes from the side but didn’t urge him to continue.

“The intelligence from Rivet confirmed the existence of another person under the name of Heart Q,” Jiang Ting finally took a deep breath and hoarsely said, “In summary, their division of labor is as follows: Black Spades K controls all decisions, Heart Q is responsible for executing part of the plans, and Diamond J ensures that everyone faithfully and unquestioningly carries out Black Spades K’s orders. At the same time, Diamond J possesses the authority for surveillance, clean-up operations, punishment, and silencing. His shadow can be seen behind many bloody criminal activities.”

“From this perspective, Heart Q’s involvement seems to be the lowest?” Yan Yin suddenly asked.

Jiang Ting raised an eyebrow. “Because Rivet once mentioned that she is a woman.”

Yan Yin hadn’t expected that and was momentarily stunned.

“Rivet is an exceptionally outstanding and brave undercover agent. She once acted as the direct contact for Heart Q and stole many pieces of intelligence that were passed on to the police,” Jiang Ting’s mouth curved, displaying a smile that held no trace of amusement. “Including the drug deal during the explosion at the Gongzhou Plastics Factory three years ago.”

—The Gongzhou Plastics Factory explosion case!

Yan Yin’s expression slightly changed.

The teapot that the waiter had brought earlier had already gone cold, but Jiang Ting seemed to be unaware of the bitterness as he drank the remaining green tea in his cup. The two of them remained silent for about a minute, and then Yan Yin finally gathered his thoughts and asked, “Were the reports from Rivet three years ago incorrect, or was there a traitor leaking information to Heart Q, which led to the failure of your… the police’s operation?”

As soon as the words left his mouth, he realized that he had just asked Jiang Ting the most sensitive question of his life.

Jiang Ting pressed his palm to his mouth, coughed a few times, and waved his hand to indicate that Yan Yin shouldn’t worry. Then he lifted his head, looked at Yan Yin, and a hint of mockery flickered in his eyes. “If I knew who the traitor was, would I still sit here patiently?”

That mockery didn’t seem to be directed at Yan Yin but rather at himself.

Yan Yin didn’t know what to say for a moment, and Jiang Ting, as if talking to himself, said, “Unless we completely eliminate them, how can all the secrets of this drug trafficking organization be exposed to the world?”

Yan Yin’s phone beeped, breaking the eerie silence. He checked the message, stood up, and said, “I should go back now. Surveillance has finally found a lead on Wang Xingye. Guess how this fatty managed to escape from the police’s dragnet?”

Jiang Ting looked up, and Yan Yin gritted his teeth and said, “He rode a bicycle!”

“…,” Jiang Ting picked up the keys to his G65. “Let me give you a ride.”

But before he could get up, Yan Yin pressed his shoulder and motioned for him to sit back down. Then he looked at the waiter and called out, “Bring a small bowl of warm, clear soup without oil, the kind used for porridge. And also, bring me the bill to sign.”

Jiang Ting complied and asked, “Are you going to work overnight tonight?”

Yan Yin turned his head and smiled mischievously, “Having trouble sleeping alone?”

“…”

“Be a good boy,” Yan Yin leaned down and whispered in his ear, “Once the case is solved, I promise to accompany you every night.”

The waiter happened to turn around and had an “O” shape on their mouth. Jiang Ting expressionlessly supported his forehead, and only after Yan Yin finished signing the bill, he coolly hailed a taxi back to the Municipal Bureau.

It was only when Yan Yin’s figure completely disappeared outside the door of the restaurant that Jiang Ting slowly let go and stared at the delicious and clear hot soup in front of him. His calm expression seemed slightly blurred amidst the warm steam.

The waiter stood outside the elegant booth, stealing glances at the youthful and handsome man whose age was hard to discern.

Jiang Ting noticed the curious gaze but couldn’t be bothered to react.

Just like a movie being rewound and replayed, every scene and line from earlier flashed through his mind. His soul seemed to separate from his body, suspended in mid-air, observing the subtle changes in light, shadows, and tones from an outsider’s perspective, until there was no imperfection left.

After an unknown amount of time, the waiter boredly studied the exquisite tassels on the curtains and suddenly caught sight of the handsome customer moving—He picked up the long untouched soup spoon and finally took a slow sip of the now cold soup.

“Sir, would you like me to replace it with a hot bowl?” the waiter hurriedly approached and asked.

But the customer simply shook his head without uttering a word, and slowly finished the icy soup spoon by spoon.

· Late at night, twelve o’clock.

Dark clouds rolled and the wind howled. A lightning bolt suddenly streaked across the sky over Gongzhou, followed by a deafening thunderclap, and torrential rain poured down.

The rooftop of the apartment building, the iron door was pushed open with a clatter.

A chubby figure in a dark green raincoat stumbled and waded through the muddy water, his rubber shoes squelching with each step. But he paid no attention to his drenched and disheveled appearance. He tightly held a folded umbrella that had long turned inside out and slowly made his way through the rain-soaked rooftop in the dark. Eventually, he found a barely sheltered spot where he could hide from the rain, huddled up and sat down, wiping off the sweat and water from his face.

“You bitch, you little brat…” He took off his rubber shoes and poured out the accumulated water, muttering angrily, “I won’t let you off, I won’t…!”

Boom—

Another lightning accompanied by thunder shook the earth, illuminating the world in an instant.

Wang Xingye’s movements suddenly froze. His entire body turned ice-cold, his face pale as a ghost.

—In the empty space before him stood seven or eight figures, dressed entirely in black with hoods covering their faces and hands hidden within their raincoats. They resembled zombies climbing out of their graves on a rainy night, stiffly surrounding him.

“… No, no,” Wang Xingye trembled, scrambling backward with his hands and feet. The fat on his body trembled violently, “Get away, you wouldn’t dare lay a hand on me here, you wouldn’t… Get away! Get away!!”

A low and pleasant voice sounded from behind the crowd, “Why?”

The “zombies” all turned to the side, and in the center of the rooftop, A Jie held a gun in his right hand while supporting himself with a black umbrella in his left. Under the umbrella stood a man in black clothing and pants, his face obscured, seemingly looking at Wang Xingye with a smile.

Wang Xingye’s eyes froze the moment they met the other person’s, and he trembled so violently that his eyes almost popped out of their sockets. His voice shook as he struggled to form coherent words, “Impossible… Spare me, spare me… Impossible…”

“Why wouldn’t you dare to do it here?” Black Spades K asked in a refined manner, even somewhat politely repeating his question.

“Spare me!” Wang Xingye screamed at the top of his lungs, “I didn’t intend to kill that little girl! It wasn’t my intention! The incident with the police car in Jiangyang County was my mistake, but it was only for self-preservation! That girl surnamed Li saw me! I beg you, spare me! Spare me—!”

Rolling and crawling, Wang Xingye fell prostrate on the ground, trying to grab onto Black Spades K’s leg, but Ah Jie kicked him hard and sent him sprawling in the muddy water.

Black Spades K crouched down, looking at the fat man writhing in pain, and asked with a smile, “Did you see that police officer?”

Wang Xingye’s face turned ashen as if he were dead, and after a long while, he trembled and nodded.

“What’s your opinion?”

That fat man surnamed Wang didn’t expect to be asked this question, and it took him several seconds to react. His mouth moved comically, not knowing what to say, “I… opinion… the police officer… I don’t know…”

“You see,” Black Spades K regretfully said, “You can’t even offer a compliment. What reason do I have to spare you?”

Black Spades K stood up amidst the terrified screams of the fat man. He took a step forward, and several “zombies” immediately approached and restrained Wang Xingye, forcefully dragging him towards the edge of the rooftop’s railing.

Ah Jie caught up with his umbrella and whispered, “How should we handle it, boss?”

“Death by suicide.”

Ah Jie immediately turned his head, signaling his subordinates, who understood and left.

“What about the other loose ends, boss?”

“The police will take care of it for us.”

Ah Jie nodded.

“Let suitable people do suitable tasks. It’s much more convenient and secure than personally handling everything.” Black Spades K smiled and said, “Let’s go.”

A few minutes later, beneath the pitch-black apartment building, the two walked out of the hallway one after the other and headed towards a black car that was waiting not far away. Ah Jie quickly opened the rear door.

Black Spades K bent down to get in, and in that instant, a gust of wind whistled behind their ears. A figure plummeted from the rooftop, instantly turning into splatters of flesh and blood—

Bang!

The car door closed, blood splattered on the window, then washed away by the heavy rain into a faint red mist.

The sedan started and drove towards the distant road, its red taillights disappearing into the night. After a long while, one streetlight after another finally lit up.