I told Xiaotao I would go down to the station at once. When Dali asked me where I was going, I pointed towards the Weibo app.
Upon scrolling through, Dali cried indignantly, "How can Yi Xi distort the facts like that? Any good impression I had of the man is gone! I have to post something to save your reputation!"
"No, no, you mustn't get involved,” I said, waving my hands at him. “The mobs on the internet are terrible. Don’t involve yourself."
Dali clapped his chest and retorted, "But I can't just stand idly by as my buddy suffers. I don’t care what they say about me anyway!"
"I appreciate your kindness,” I laughed. “But we can't all fall into his trap. We need someone on the outside looking in, am I right?"
When I left my dormitory, I couldn’t fight the anxiety that I would be surrounded by a group of fans holding up their banners. In the cab, even the driver was scrolling through Weibo. "Gee, the police nowadays are so corrupt!” he commented. “If it weren't for the fact that the suspect was a star, perhaps this kind of abuse would never be exposed... By the way, why are you two going to the public security bureau so early in the morning?"
Beads of cold sweat covered my forehead as I endeavored to find an excuse. Fortunately, Dali responded quickly, "We’re fans of Yi Xi and we’re going there to support him!"
The driver gave a thumbs-up. "That’s the right attitude! We shouldn’t be afraid just because the police have power. I hope this young celebrity will be cleared of the accusations soon!"
From the driver's reaction, I realized that Yi Xi’s microblog had successfully transformed him from suspect to victim and diverted public attention. Later on, I found that all the famous accounts on Weibo spoke out for Yi Xi, and his fans rose by millions.
When we arrived at the station, the large crowd had already dispersed. Xiaotao greeted me and said, "Director-General Cheng just called and instructed us not to take any action. He wants to talk to us."
"Talk?" I suddenly had a bad feeling.
"Dude, there’s someone pretending to be you online!" Dali exclaimed, his eyes fixed to his cell phone screen.
I went on Weibo and discovered that someone had registered an account with the nickname, "Nanjiang City Bureau Police Officer Song." The first post was an arrogant, offensive one–"Don't think that being a star makes you special. No one can save you if you’ve committed a crime. Keep running that mouth of yours and I’ll torture you to death!"
There were many similar comments below and the number of reposts was astounding. A group of keyboard warriors was always sharpening their swords at the mention of any sensitive or offensive subjects. These radical people should really be pulled out and executed.
"Stop looking at it,” I said. “You’ll only feel worse.”
"I ordered some soup dumplings and spicy soup,” chuckled Xiaotao. “Let's have breakfast first!"
We discussed countermeasures while eating breakfast, the officers complained about the injustice and grumbled about Yi Xi’s underhanded means. How could a star be so cold-blooded?
Their opinion was to quickly dispel the rumors but Xiaotao explained that people were more likely to believe in gossip than trust the credibility of the government. Moreover, the other party was a star who had his own fan base.
I scarfed down breakfast sullenly, too distracted to hear Xiaotao calling for me so she had to repeat herself several times. My reaction gave her the impression that I was depressed.
I quickly explained, "I was just thinking about something. We can ask Lao Yao if there’s something he can do about the situation."
I called Lao Yao who excitedly picked up at once. "Xiao Song-song, how could you hit someone?” he accused. “Even if he looks prettier than you and makes you jealous, you can’t resort to violence! Several people have come up to ask me if that Officer Song is you but I didn't reveal anything. Aren’t I loyal?"
"Do you really believe that?” I scoffed. “It's all fabricated. I haven’t laid a finger on him. By the way, do you have any tricks to deal with him?"
"This sort of thing will only worsen unless they deny the rumor," said Lao Yao.
"Is that even possible?” I laughed bitterly. “Wouldn’t he be contradicting himself?"
Lao Yao broke out in wicked laughter, "But what if we have something on him? I will churn out everything about him right now. We may have to hire a water army. About the cost..."
Xiaotao interrupted, "I'll pay for it!"
"Xiaotao-jiejie, how generous you are!” he laughed. “Alright, I’ll get busy then. Wait for my good news!"
Right then, an officer entered the room and said, "Officer Huang, Consultant Song, Director-General Cheng is waiting for you in his office."
I exchanged a meaningful glance with Xiaotao. Dali advised, "Song Yang, you mustn’t argue with him!"
Upon entering Director-General Cheng's office, the man poured us two cups of hot tea and politely brought up the furore on the Internet. The phones in the bureau had been ringing off the hook the entire morning.
Considering the influence of public opinion, he suggested that we temporarily withdraw from the case.
Although I had expected Director-General Cheng to say so, I couldn’t help turning cold when the words left his lips. Xiaotao stood up abruptly and protested, "A clear conscience fears nothing! We haven’t done anything wrong so why should we voluntarily quit? Wouldn’t this only convince them of our wrongdoing?"
Director-General Cheng motioned for her to sit down while he stood up and walked to the door, clicking the lock shut. "Xiaotao, calm down,” he comforted. “In fact, I have other news to share with you."
We both stared wide-eyed at Director-General Cheng as he narrated the incidents last night. The press conference ended up lasting until 10 pm when Yi Xi's agent contacted him and invited him to dinner. During the meal, they mentioned my name three times, unambiguously implying that Director-General Cheng should force me to withdraw from the investigation.
After that, the situation took an even more ridiculous turn.
The others suddenly left the private room and in came a scantily dressed beauty who turned out to be one of China’s B-listers. While pouring drinks for the director-general, she rubbed her voluptuous chest against his arm and winked at him. Yi Xi’s agent smiled ingratiatingly and said, "Mr. Cheng, you’ve worked so hard. Why don't you two go upstairs so this young lady can give you a nice massage to loosen those tense muscles? I’ll gladly open a room so she can show you her special skills."
At this point, Director-General Cheng laughed. "I've been around in the bureau for so many years, so of course I knew what it meant. Naturally, I refused. Getting a domestic celebrity to sleep with me is something even money can’t buy, and it leaves no money trail. How meticulous of them."
"They were trying to buy you off?" asked Xiaotao.
"Yes,” nodded Director-General Cheng. “We’re facing a strong enemy this time! While you investigate them, they are also investigating you, and they move very quickly. It’s clear they don't want you two involved in the investigation. After I refused their bribe, they came up with this morning’s little trick."
"So you have to remove us from the investigation? Isn't that exactly what they want?” argued Xiaotao. “If that were the case, you might as well have slept with that female celebrity. At least we wouldn’t have been condemned by everyone."
"On the surface, it only looks like I’ve removed the both of you..." Director-General Cheng trailed off.
We immediately recognized the implication of his words. "So we secretly continue investigating the case?" Xiaotao asked excitedly.
Director-General Cheng nodded, "All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make them believe we are near.”
"Director Cheng, there you go again with your wise anecdotes,” Xiaotao furrowed her brow. “Can you use modern language that we understand?"
"The other party has already revealed their secrets,” surmised Director-General Cheng. “I think we’ll need both of you on this case. I will transfer a group of criminal investigation experts from the other sub-bureaus to assist you. You can use my name to mobilize all resources, but of course, I will inform the public that you have been suspended."
Xiaotao stood up and saluted him, "Thank you for your support!"
I wasn’t a police officer so I didn't need to salute, but I sincerely bowed to the man. "I have to admit that I used to think of you like any ordinary director-general. But now I find that you’re very intelligent and worthy of the badge on your cap!"
Director-General Cheng looked pleased. "It is my honor to be recognized by the Great Detective Song.”
He gave us his contact number and told us to report to the sub-bureau. Before we left, Director-General Cheng coughed lightly and reminded, "You’ve just been suspended. Look a little depressed!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter