For the eighth time, Luo Wen Xu’s call couldn’t get through, and he almost broke his desk.
Lu Luo, with a look of walking towards certain death, approached Luo Wen Xu to report: “The vehicle dispatch record says that the Vice-Captain took the jeep out alone at 1:47 in the morning.”
”What?!” Luo Wen Xu yelled, about to throw away his cellphone.
”Captain, that cell phone case was a gift from the Vice-Captain—!” At the critical moment, Lu Luo spoke quickly, closing her eyes in fear.
But the expected crash wasn’t heard. Luo Wen Xu clenched his phone and violently shoved it back into his pocket, slapping the table: “Give me the last position!”
The pens on the table were sent flying by the sudden earthquake. Lu Luo nervously pointed to the circle on the tablet screen and showed Luo Wen Xu. “H-here…”
Luo Wen glance at it, and, without a word, he marched out, grabbing the heavy-duty motorcycle from a young policeman who had just returned from duty. He slammed the throttle and rode out with a blast of exhaust.
”Uwa, so scary…” Lu Luo covered her face and slumped to the ground. “I need a new job.”
It was daybreak, the morning light shone on the ice.
Because of last night’s heavy snowfall, the water had turned into a thick layer of ice. From a distance, the lake appeared to be a cozy light blue.
The reservoir was used by the whole forest. The area was quite large, and currently covered with snow, the border not noticeable at a glance. In the morning sun, a few lone birds slowly flew past, adding to the loneliness of the spacious and empty snow field. This was a good time to appreciate scenery and recite poetry, discussing the natural world and life philosophy – if you ignored the annoying racket coming from the center of the lake.
Bai Huo was wearing a turtleneck sweater, a pair of thin-rimmed glasses perched on the bridge of his nose, casually sitting on a piece of rotten log. He was holding a stack of documents in one hand, and a cleaver in the other, staring at the bloody photos in the file as he “clink”, slammed the cleaver into the ice.
After a series of crisp sounds echoed, the ice only cracked a little. The little baby dragon shook his tail and ran over, pressing against the crack with his small paws. His little face wrinkled, then he once again hid behind Bai Huo.
“The ice is too thick.” Bai Huo turned a page in the file, not even glancing up. He once again swung the cleaver, accurately chopping at the ice crack.
The information delivered by Ji Bei included screenshots of the surveillance video from the third case. Bai Huo’s amber eyes focused on a certain image, his glasses lens reflecting a sharp light.
The morning wind was still very cold. His hair was a little disheveled because of the wind, and the oversized gray sweater contrasted with his white skin, making Bai Huo’s face appear almost transparent in the snow.
The ice surface was as stable as Mt Tai, not moving at all. The little dragon was tired of running back and forth, he crawled to Bai Huo’s legs and laid down on top.
”Hungry?” Bai Huo smiled and pinched his horns. With his head bowed, his sharp chin was covered by the sweater’s collar, making the lines of his lower jaw appear softer.
It was very puzzling for Bai Huo to have such a friendly expression, someone who’d never met him before would likely be attracted to the slight gentleness he occasionally exposed. They say that a person’s potential was 30% dependent on physiognomy, 70% dependent on bluffing. Those who were able to bluff lived respectably, those who couldn’t were treated as degenerates. Bai Huo probably belonged to the 30% displaying stability, 70% playing with life category.
With an otherworldly expression, he violently swung the cleaver, chopping at the ice.
The ice shards flew, water splashing in every direction. The heart of the lake was less than a square meter, the noise resembled a scene of slaughter.
”Oh, it cracked.” Finally, a hole appeared in the ice, Bai Huo pulled back the cleaver in satisfaction, tossing it aside, and throwing in the previously prepared fishing line. After a short while, the bobber rocked and he lifted the fishing line, pulling out a live fish.
The little dragon excitedly jumped over and pressed down the fish with his claws. Then he lowered his head and bit it. Bai Huo was too slow to stop the ruthless display.
”Cook it first, then eat.” Bai Huo was amused. Afraid of straining the little cub’s teeth, he didn’t jerk the fish away, just spreading his palm by the little cub’s mouth and wiggling his fingers, making a “Give me” gesture. “Hmm?”
The little dragon cub bit the struggling fish, looking at Bai Huo with a trace of doubt, but he still obediently put the fish in his palm.
Bai Huo was a little baffled, he grabbed the fish, earnestly observing the little cub for a few moments. Then he suddenly realized, no wonder this child had pointed to the live fish the last time he’d ordered takeaway, he’d wanted to eat raw fish.
This matter was his fault, Bai Huo patted the little dragon’s head. He’d lived among humans for too long, he almost forgot, although dragons had the divine bone, in the end, they were still animal incarnations, liking raw food was natural.
”Freshwater fish are riddled with parasites.” Bai Huo pondered a bit, then asked, “Next time, why don’t we go buy salmon at the supermarket?”
The little dragon used his horns to poke his knee in agreement, then he ran back to the ice hole and circled around, shaking his tail in expectation.
”Want to catch another one?” Bai Huo smiled indulgently, “Okay.”
Bai Huo was about to lower the fishing line when his ears twitched. He reached for the little dragon, saying: “Be good, someone’s coming.”
The little dragon cub had obviously sensed it too, without waiting for a second warning, he changed back into human form and dashed into Bai Huo’s arms, looking over his shoulder.
A few meters away, Luo Wen Xu aggressively jumped off a bike. Bai Huo walked towards him, holding the baby in one hand, and the cleaver and fish in the other.
”Officer Luo? What a coincidence.” Bai Huo greeted him with a smile.
”When was the last time you saw Xiao Bei?” Luo Wen Xu skipped the greetings, asking as soon as he approached.
Bai Huo keenly sensed that this man’s aura was abnormal, somewhat grim: “He left my home at four o’clock last night. What happened?”
“Four o’clock?” Luo Wen pulled his hair, irritated: “Which direction did he go?”
Bai Huo stared blankly, realizing that something really had happened.
The two men left to find Ji Bei together. Fortunately, they found Ji Bei’s car eight kilometers away. This area was deserted, the snow was extraordinarily thick. Half of the jeep’s wheels were trapped in potholes, and the windows were almost entirely covered in heavy snow.
Luo Wen Xu dashed over and started digging madly, but after opening the door, he found that there was only the car, the person inside was gone.
”Don’t worry, maybe Officer Ji came across an incident, and got out to rescue someone?” Bai Huo saw Luo Wen Xu silently staring at the front seat for half a day, and had no choice but to offer comfort.
Luo Wen Xu slowly turned his head, and Bai Huo discovered that his eyes were fully bloodshot, and his eyeballs appeared to be bulging out terribly. He sighed internally, it was pretty rare to see someone in the human race who could expose such a menacing a look, this was also an odd man.
”Impossible!” Luo Wen Xu suddenly roared, and the little baby dragon lifted his head from Bai Huo’s embrace, staring vigilantly at the other man.
Bai Huo calmly covered the little dragon cub’s ears and pressed him into his coat.
”You don’t understand! Xiao Bei has two phones, one for private use, one for the unit. Even when he fell sick and had to enter the ICU, he never forgot his work phone. It’s impossible for him to disappear for more than four hours without returning a call! Something must’ve happened to him!” When Luo Wen Xu said this, his eyes were almost crazy with paranoia, but strangely, Bai Huo also saw some unspoken fear in his eyes.
Bai Huo was considered a youngster to the dragon race, but extremely old to humanity. He was at an awkward age. He was apathetic to humanity’s mortal fate, but he also hadn’t completely collected all his earthly desires and emotions. With these two intertwining mental states, whenever he was confronted with an emotional human, he’d always inadvertently reveal a somewhat helpless and uneven expression. To outsiders, he probably looked coldhearted.
”Calm down,” Bai Huo carried the little cub in one arm and inserted the other hand into his coat pocket, saying calmly, “If Officer Ji is really in trouble, you’ll only become a burden to him in your current state of mind.”
Luo Wen Xu’s face tightened. Clenching his teeth, he ducked into the car and started searching. The blue veins on his hands were protruding, he was obviously desperately suppressing something.
Who knew if it was because of what Bai Huo said, but when Luo Wen Xu got out of the compartment, his face was completely free of anger. Only his tense throat trembled slightly as he said: “…His gun is gone.”
Early morning, everyone was already busily running back and forth in the municipal bureau’s Criminal Investigation Unit’s office.
”Immediately collect all the surveillance video recordings on that road, don’t ignore any abnormalities! Contact the police dog unit, divide the area and do a blanket search. If you find any news about Vice-Captain Ji, tell me immediately!”
Lu Luo answered the phone and simultaneously recorded the instructions, anxiously saying: “Captain Luo, aren’t you coming back to preside over the work?”
The uniformed officers quickly shuttled around the office, the sounds of picking up a car, picking up a phone, the printers whirling and the telephones ringing all intertwined. It was busy but orderly, the young troop’s competence was undoubtedly revealed at this moment.
Luo Wen Xu’s silence seemed to stretch on for a particularly long time in the noisy environment. After a few moments, a hoarse voice said: “If you run into any obstacles, go to Yang Ju and tell him that if something happens to Xiao Bei, the city bureau will never see the man named Luo Wen Xu again.”
Lu Luo was astonished, thinking that she had misheard: “But — tootootooto…”
Bai Huo was holding a sleepy little dragon, he cast a glance at Luo Wen Xu’s decrepit back.
The man was in his thirties, but at the moment, he looked like a child who’d just lost a loved one. He was crouched on the ground, staring at a patch of blood-stained snow.
He couldn’t leave here, but was also inseparable from here. Luo Wen Xu painfully thought, he wasn’t Xi City’s ace, not without Ji Bei by his side. Calm, rationality and logical thinking, he had nothing of that now.
”The blood has been frozen for some time,” Bai Huo calmly analyzed, looking at the blood stain in the snow. “This amount of bleeding isn’t life-threatening.”
Luo Wen Xu turned to look at him, his cheeks tense, the emotions in his eyes were suffocatingly heavy: “The last person Xiao Bei saw was you. It’s reasonable to assume that you’re the most suspicious person.”
Bai Huo was baffled: “Why would I harm him?”
Luo Wen Xu suddenly stood up and approached Bai Huo, his gaze deep: “When I first saw you, I immediately thought that something was fishy about you. You’re not that annoying professor, I checked. Who the f#ck are you, why did you get involved in the case?”
Luo Wen Xu’s mobster policeman reputation wasn’t baseless. He had a very oppressive aura. His gaze was naturally extremely unyielding. Whenever he focused that gaze on someone, the average person wouldn’t be able to fight back.
But Bai Huo merely shrugged indifferently and chuckled: “Guess?”
”You–” Luo Wen Xu raised his hand, but when he saw the child in Bai Huo’s embrace, he restrained himself, slapping the car window, angrily saying, “You’d better have nothing to do with Xiao Bei’s disappearance!”
The snow on the car window shuddered and fell, Bai Huo pacified the little dragon cub that was startled awake by the noise, and said without lifting his head: “So you just want to save him?”
Not waiting for Luo Wen Xu to speak, Bai Huo resignedly retreated to the side, nodding to the stuck wheels: “Get the car out, let’s go somewhere.”
Luo Wen Xu turned to sit on top of the motorcycle.
Bai Huo scowled, saying coldly: “I’m not sitting on that, my son will freeze.”
It was complete darkness.
Ji Bei still hadn’t opened his eyes when he smelled the unique coldness of an underground cave.
Nothing could be seen, but there was a sound of dripping water, the drip drop reminding him of the opening shot of a horror movie. The dampness and piercing cold made Ji Bei gradually wake up from his muddleheaded-ness. He stroked the slippery ground with his fingers, determining that he was in quite an ancient cave.
His whole body ached, and his eyelids were so heavy that he felt like falling asleep again. Ji Bei was a detective with high self-control and endurance, he knew the consequences of falling asleep. He took a deep breath and bit the tip of his tongue, forcing himself awake.
It turns out that the surroundings were not absolutely dark. After his eyes adjusted, there was a faint thread of light in the cave. Ji Bei blinked a few times and looked at the mouth of the cave, unable to help a shudder.
Standing in the cave entrance across from him was a huge beast. Shuffling around, it looked like it wanted to come over but didn’t dare. Ji Bei’s eyes were also injured, he couldn’t see details for the time being. He was only able to tell that the other side was fretful by the sound of its breathing.
The wound on Ji Bei’s neck had already stopped bleeding. It must not have been very deep. There was something cool touching his skin. He wanted to reach out to touch it, but as soon as he moved, he was overwhelmed by sudden pain, he gasped, curling up. When the pain passed, Ji Bei realized that he was wearing a blanket. He bowed his head and sniffed. It carried the child’s unique fresh smell. This was the scarf that Bai Huo’s son had forgotten.
Memories slowly emerged in his mind. Ji Bei remembered being bitten by something soon after getting out of the jeep. He’d fallen into a short coma, as if he was sedated. Later, he’d woken up confused. Then he remembered trying to climb into the car to make a call, however, because he was too weak, he couldn’t pull himself up, frantically grabbing the scarf before falling into a coma again.
Sensing that he was awake, the strange beast on the other side of the cave was even more anxious, it eagerly clawed the earth. In the early years of his career, Ji Bei had performed some tasks in the countryside, so he had a certain understanding of wild animals. Hearing this movement, he could judge the weight of the animal, and suddenly, his heart sank.
He reached out and groped his lower back, his fingertips touching a familiar cold metal. His heart stabilized a bit, thank God, he still had his gun.
There was a strange wheezing in the cave, very deep, like a drowning ox.
The sound seemed to be a command, the restless behemoth flinched like it had been reprimanded, and suddenly quieted down, bowing its head to the ground.
Ji Bei looked up in amazement, and watched as the stone that blocked the entrance slowly moved. A dim light came in, and he squinted, his dark pupils gradually widening as a slow-moving creature approached him.
- That wasn’t a stone at all, rather, it was an even bigger beast, its length nearly three meters, and it was slowly crawling towards him. The thing was covered in black scales, with a long snout and big ears. It was ugly, its back tall, like a small hill, nearly identical to the small one next to it. It was simply a giant pangolin with a pair of long wings.
“What the hell… what is…”
Ji Bei was confident that his mental fortitude was already perfect. But now, as he finally saw the creatures in front of him, he couldn’t stop himself from trembling. He was stiff, his scalp numb, his mouth agape, unable to make a sound for a long time.
The giant mutant pangolin moved very slowly, like an old tortoise. Ji Bei was drenched in cold sweat, he subconsciously recoiled, frantically reaching for his gun. He pulled it out and aimed at the giant beast.
The beast was indifferent, continuing to slowly crawl towards him.
Cold sweat streaked down Ji Bei’s pale cheeks, and he gradually calmed down the endless mental turmoil, trying to calculate how far the bullets in his magazine could force the two beasts back.
His gun was a Type 92 semi-automatic pistol. Luo Wen Xu had modified it for him. It had slightly less recoil than a normal handgun, so it wasn’t as forceful to use, but his wrists didn’t have any strength right now, firing 5 shots in succession was the limit. It would be quite difficult to settle the two large beasts within five shots; he also didn’t know how thick their scales were. In theory, the Type 92 could penetrate a 5 mm steel plate within a range of 50 meters. These things were probably not thicker than a steel plate… Ji Bei absent-mindedly thought as he aimed the gun, his Adam’s apple unconsciously rolling because of tension.
The big beast finally stopped moving. Ji Bei took a deep breath and concentrated. Just as he was about to pull the trigger, the big beast suddenly lowered its body and stretched a dirty claw towards him.
”Clink”, a shiny glass bead rolled forward, gently tapping Ji Bei’s foot.
Bai Huo probably belonged to…:白惑大概就属于那三分发挥稳定，七分发挥靠命的选手- Not sure of translation
Mortal fate: to be born, to grow old, to get sick and to die
Pangolin: Chinese pangolin, a scaly anteater