Xiaotao went to check on the truck driver, while Song Xingchen and I searched for the location of the club.
"What am I supposed to do?” asked Bingxin. “There aren’t any corpses to dissect."
"Song Yang, find something for Bingxin to do!" instructed Xiaotao.
Upon further contemplation, I suggested, "Could you please gather the recent missing person reports from each branch and look for potential victims?"
"How would I do that?" Bingxin wasn’t involved in the investigation of the human buns case.
I chuckled, "Go with your stomach! Whoever looks the most delicious!"
Thus, we went our separate ways. Song Xingchen and I took a cab to the outskirts. I circled the area, twirling the Autopsy Umbrella searching for footprints. Despite stumbling upon some footprints, the surrounding area was empty due to the strong winds. The ground was covered in weeds and intermittent footprints.
I had a map plug-in designed by Lao Yao on my cell phone which could connect to Baidu Maps. Every time I noticed something, I would mark my position. I discovered that Mr. Huang did circle the area for some distance last night, going back and forth many times.
Eventually, I ran out of clues to follow. When I pulled up the map to check if there were any hills nearby, I found a hill range in the southwest. Because it was too desolate, it didn't show up on the map.
Calling Lao Yao, I ordered a search for any neighboring villas and other landmarks and told him to send me the coordinates.
On the other end of the line, Lao Yao hammered away at his keyboard. "There aren’t any residences, but there is a Qingliang Temple. Would you like the coordinates?"
"What about residential areas?" I asked.
"Who the hell would build a residential area here? There aren’t any!" replied Lao Yao.
According to Mr. Huang, one of the possible locations of the club was a villa in the hills. I instructed Lao Yao to take a second look. Was it possible for an unregistered building to exist in the vicinity? After hacking into the Ministry of Land and Resources’ database, Lao Yao sent me some satellite images. Upon careful inspection, I found that there were no buildings.
However, there was a faint reflection in one location when the photo was taken, probably around noon. Enlarging the image until it became pixelated, I endeavored to figure out what it was. At this point, Song Xingchen interjected, "That’s a buried antenna!"
"A buried antenna?" I had never heard of this.
"It’s an antenna used in underground structures for communication with the outside world. This antenna isn’t very long so it’s not noticeable. During the stalemate with the Soviet Union, Aunt Song’s father, Song Zhaolin of the martial Songs, served as a consultant in a secret department of the Ministry of National Defense and participated in the construction of underground fortifications. I’ve seen drawings when I was little."
"That is to say, there’s a bomb shelter under this hill!" I exclaimed.
As I recalled, Mr. Huang described sealed windows. Due to his account, we initially assumed it was an above-ground building, but it turned out to be an underground one. There was nothing outside the windows; perhaps the windows weren’t even real.
However, I was interested to hear about my ‘grandfather’ from the martial Songs. "Is Song Zhaolin still alive?" I queried.
"He disappeared during a classified mission twenty years ago. Apparently, he died for our country. They made an exception and erected a cenotaph for him at the Mt. Bao Revolutionary Cemetery."
"How unfortunate!" I sighed.
We set out and arrived at the foot of the hill half an hour later. Although the image sent by Lao Yao gave an unobstructed view of the terrain, it was difficult to distinguish what exactly we were looking at. Making a thorough observation of our surroundings, Song Xingchen soon discovered footprints. We followed the trail of footprints that ended abruptly as if the man had disappeared into thin air.
"There must be a secret door here!" remarked Song Xingchen.
He pulled out his Tang Sword and inserted the blade into a gap in the ground, using all his strength till the sword bent unnaturally. Worried he might break his sword, I said, "Don't bother. There may be some sort of mechanism or something. Let’s look for it."
Scanning the area with Cave Vision, I noticed a slight protrusion on the ground and dug away at the soil. There was a thick wire beneath that led all the way to a tree.
By tapping the trunk, I discovered it was empty on the inside.
Song Xingchen immediately walked over, sliced the bark with his sword and demolished it with his hand, revealing a switch that was installed inside the hollowed tree.
This switch was so well hidden that I wondered, "Where’s the power supply?"
"This switch is merely used to open the door so all they need is a battery. Large underground shelters usually get their power supply by generating their own electricity," explained Song Xingchen.
"How do you know so much about this?" The Song Xingchen I knew understood little about modern equipment.
"Because there are such facilities in the Martial Song Village,” answered Song Xingchen. “Although the country is now peaceful, the martial Songs have been very cautious since ancient times and have prepared for the worst."
If it weren’t for our close friendship, Song Xingchen wouldn’t have revealed such a confidential matter. I sighed to myself. It seems that the small village isn’t as simple as it looks.
When I pulled the switch, the rumble of a hydraulic press came from beneath the ground as a gap gradually opened behind our feet. The secret door was extremely thick and heavy, made of reinforced concrete underneath and dirt on the top. The turf used as camouflage was authentic.
The stairs led to the bottom in the absence of light, though the darkness had no effect on us.
The shelter had been rebuilt so its original purpose remained a mystery. Passing through a dreary corridor, we soon arrived at the place that Mr. Huang described. The underground room was as luxurious as a villa, with large chandeliers, indoor fountains, expensive furniture, and odd litter on the ground after the party.
"No one’s here. It looks like it was abandoned in a hurry,” I analyzed. “These people are really cautious. Because Mr. Huang managed to escape, they immediately abandoned the entire facility.”
I took special care not to disturb the footprints on the ground which were probably left by the guests and could be used as evidence. In the absence of tools, I pulled out my cell phone and began snapping photos.
We stumbled upon a room that appeared to be an office. Upon entering, we were greeted with a large oak desk and a computer, a bookshelf on the side, and a display stand opposite the shelf. A big tortoise shell protected by a square glass case stood proudly on display.
As I approached, I noticed a label written in English under the tortoise shell–Harriet (1842-2006).
Who was Harriet and how did she live that long?
Realization dawned upon me–it was referring to the tortoise. A few years ago, there was a report about the death of Darwin’s tortoise. Could the tortoise shell in front of me belong to it?
The tortoise that witnessed the birth of Darwin’s book “On The Origin Of Species” was said to be the treasure of the Australian Zoo. On the day of its death, Darwin fans from all over the world mourned. Its shell was said to have been auctioned in Switzerland–the first auction of animal bones in Swiss history, and the price must have been astounding.
It seemed that the owner of this club was very wealthy and a big Darwin fan who believed in the law of the jungle.
"Look at this!" Song Xingchen pointed out.
In his hand was a small aluminum alloy card that had been placed under the glass top of the desk.
This card was delicate, with a smiling skull wearing a chef’s hat on the front, knife and fork in its hand.
A machete covered in blood was engraved on the back.
My heart skipped a beat. "The Jiangbei Daggers!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter