After reimbursing the owner for the damage, we left the stall on foot. The SWAT team captain wiped the beads of cold sweat off his forehead, saying, "Oh my God, that was close! Fortunately, you reminded us to keep our identities hidden. But the whole incident is really strange since the gang got beaten up over nothing. I think the incident will put them on alert."
Xiaotao’s fists were still clenched tightly as if she hadn’t fought her fill. "What do you mean they got beaten up over nothing?!” she seethed. “They asked for it. Scum like this should be properly taught a lesson and removed from the streets!"
"Captain, I'm really sorry about tonight,” I said. “But we only started fighting after we were pushed into a corner. Anyway, thank you for your help!"
The man simply waved his hand and smiled bitterly, "It’s alright. With where things were heading, how could we just stand by and watch you get hurt?"
"By the way, do you know Captain Zhang?" I asked.
The man pointed to his nose and said, "You’re talking to him!"
Xiaotao and I exchanged a look of disbelief, shocked at our chance encounter. To be on the safe side, I verified his identity; the man was indeed the Captain Zhang we were looking for.
"What can I do for the two of you?" Captain Zhang looked askance at us.
I briefly informed him of the situation, explaining there was a man out to kill him. Hence, we had to keep him under close watch.
"That’s not possible,” Captain Zhang shook his head. “As you can see, I'm on a mission right now so I can't leave. Who is it who wants to kill me?"
"Do you still remember the name Long Bangguo?"
"When was he released?" Captain Zhang furrowed his brows.
"Possibly a week or so before,” answered Xiaotao. “He’s now taking revenge on the officers who sent him to prison back then. Officer Niu and Officer Ouyang were murdered by him, and now Officer Cui’s family was completely massacred..."
Despite the shock from the bombshell we dropped on him, Captain Zhang was after all a tough guy who had weathered countless storms, neither depressed nor grief-stricken. "Death comes to all, especially for those who work in high-risk occupations like us. Perhaps one day, on my way home, I’ll be stabbed by a criminal but that’s the life I chose. Let him come to me! You’ve seen my team and what they’re capable of. I don't believe he dares to go up against me!"
"Long Bangguo doesn't need to lift a finger to kill you!"
"Consultant Song, are you joking? The man has been in prison for twenty years,” laughed Captain Zhang. Even if he has the ability, he doesn’t have the courage to... "
His remarks came to an abrupt stop when I handed over my cell phone and showed him the photos of Officers Niu and Ouyang’s dead bodies. Captain Zhang stared wide-eyed at the screen, "What the hell happened? Long Bangguo did this?!"
"To be exact, they did it themselves!"
I explained all the evidence pointed to a musical instrument that could kill the listener. Even the most strong-willed man would be driven to commit suicide, and the effect of the music potent enough to implicate those around him.
However, Captain Zhang merely took my words with a grain of salt. "Don’t you remember Professor Li who had the ability to hypnotize? In the beginning, many officers didn’t believe she could do anything using hypnosis, but the consequences told us otherwise. More deaths are just around the corner so we can't risk any more lives just to prove a point!"
Captain Zhang burst out laughing, "Do you doubt that I can't resist this so-called murderous music? I received professional special forces torture training. Even if someone tried to hypnotize me, they wouldn't succeed. Li Wenjia's hostage-taking situation was handled by my team. I’m not trying to show off, but the officers involved in that case were too weak in terms of willpower. If I had been given the case from the start, the suspect wouldn’t have had the chance to hypnotize me because I would’ve killed her with one bullet. So, please go back, both of you. Your worries are superfluous."
His words struck a raw nerve in Xiaotao, especially since Li Wenjia's case was still a sore spot. Hearing Captain Zhang’s downplay of the dangers, displeasure was written all over her face. "Do you mean to say that your brain is so well trained you won't be affected?" she quipped.
"Yes…” replied Captain Zhang. “Hold on, are you being sarcastic?"
"So you’re trying to say that my teacher, Ma Guozhong, and those officers all died in vain because they weren’t as tough as you?” sneered Xiaotao. “Song Yang, let’s leave the man to his own devices. Why should we bother about him if he doesn’t care? We'll just wait to collect his body in a few days."
Captain Zhang awkwardly scratched his head, well aware he had offended Xiaotao. Watching the tall, burly man trying to wade through the uncomfortable situation was rather hilarious. "Xiaotao, don't be upset,” I comforted. “After all, it's a matter of life and death!"
Xiaotao folded her arms and stopped talking. I turned to Captain Zhang, "The murderous music cannot be resisted by willpower alone so don't be overconfident. Even if you can resist, can you ensure that no one else will be around you at the time? What about these buddies of yours? Do you want them to die because of you?"
"I’m his target!" insisted Captain Zhang.
"How naive!” I scoffed. “Do you know how many innocent people he killed in retaliation against Officer Cui's family? An entire restaurant of people were murdered–all 27 of them! He’s gone mad and he doesn't care how many innocent people are involved. If you’re in the car when he comes for you, he’ll gladly murder everyone on board. If you’re with your team, he’s not going to care if they’ve got nothing to do with your feud. If you’re with your family... "
At this point, I deliberately trailed off. Captain Zhang clenched his fist, smoldering under that stony expression. Finally, he wavered, "I have to report this matter to my superiors. After all, if I interrupt the mission, I will be punished."
"Your superior has approved of your leave,” I affirmed. “He said your life is more important than the mission. If you don't believe me, you can call and ask him." Of course, that extra bit in the middle was my own embellishment.
"All right, follow me back to the SWAT department,” he said. “I'll change and grab some daily necessities."
A while later, Captain Zhang drove us to the SWAT unit. This was my first time visiting the place. In order to enter the compound, we were subjected to three checkpoints. Along the way, I noticed several scouts standing guard on high ground, holding QBU-88 sniper rifles.
As we drove into the compound, we passed several riot control vehicles, ZFB-05 armored personnel carriers and military armored cars parked by the road. To my amazement, these vehicles were armed with machine guns on their roofs. In the distance, there are several large heaps covered with cloth, possibly military helicopters.
Captain Zhang explained that the guns and ammunition here were enough to arm the entire company. The existence of the SWAT team was not only a deterrent to criminals, but also a strong support for the city! If foreign enemies were to invade the city one day, they were no longer SWAT officers but soldiers who would charge to the frontlines to protect the common people.
When we arrived at his dormitory, the other officers had already turned in for the night.
"Captain Zhang, why do you still live in the dormitory?" I asked.
"I’m all alone so I might as well live here," he laughed.
Only after speaking to him did I know that his wife left him a few years ago, taking the children with her. I grew more cognizant of the fact that being an officer of the law was challenging, and many policemen ended up with broken families.
My gaze flitted over to Xiaotao as a thought crossed my mind. If I were to face such emotional conflicts in the future, would I choose to leave her?
And my answer to that question was–never!
Solving crimes was our form of a date, and our sort of relationship would never wane with time.Previous Chapter Next Chapter