Author: 长洱 / Chang’er
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Knowing that Lin Chen was at the rest stop and couldn’t leave, Xing Conglian wasn’t in a rush. He knew very well the ingenuity of his friend, so Lin Chen must have known that he was already exposed.
It would be quite interesting to watch a man, who was usually known for his calmness, become extremely anxious.
On the north side of Heping Road, the traffic police stopped a school bus from presumably turning onto Changping Avenue going northbound.
When Xing Conglian arrived, the school bus driver was arguing with the traffic police who had stopped him.
“Sir, you haven’t broken any laws. The police just want to ask you some questions.” The traffic police officer stood by the school bus and tried to patiently persuade.
“Students are trying to get to class!” The school bus driver slammed on the steering wheel.
Xing Conglian circled around the bright yellow school bus.
The students on the bus had already gotten out so they could inspect it. The boys and girls were all wearing private school uniforms and standing in twos and threes on the side of the road.
The girls wore sailor skirts that came to their knees. When the wind blew, it revealed the lines of their youthful, energetic legs; the boys, without the slightest air of arrogance, were quietly waiting to be questioned, despite the delay.
“Fengjing* Private School?” Xing Conglian set his gaze on the school emblem composed of a golden maple leaf and silver laurels on the left side of the school bus.
*Maple [Feng] (枫) View [Jing] (景). This is why the school’s emblem is a maple leaf.
“It’s the city’s famous private school that offers courses from kindergarten to high school. The tuition fees are quite high!” Wang Chao pointed to a little girl with a mushroom head on the side of the road. The little girl was also wearing a navy blue school uniform skirt and was being held by a tall boy.
“For such a young child, her parents are comfortable letting her go to school by herself?” Xing Conglian couldn’t help but click his tongue.
“In Fengjing, kindergarteners are picked up and dropped off one-on-one by special senior students, so how could it be unsafe?” Hearing this question, the manager of the transportation company that was standing to the side couldn’t help but speak up.
“Do you have children going to Fengjing?”
“My youngest brother. He’s a high schooler.”
“Must be rich, huh?”
Hearing what Xing Conglian said, Yang Dianfeng gave him a meaningful smile and replied, “After all, the quality of education is good, so it’s only right to spend more money. If Captain Xing also wants to send his children to it, I can introduce you to the principal.”
“We criminal investigators are very poor and can’t afford such tuition.”
While chatting with Yang Dianfeng, Xing Conglian suddenly noticed the police officer who was assisting in handling the scene had pulled something out of a girl’s schoolbag.
The police officer sealed the items in the evidence bag and handed them to Xing Conglian.
Xing Conglian glanced at the contents of the bag and walked up to the female student. “Young lady…” As soon as he opened his mouth, Wang Chao kicked him in the sides.
“Classmate, you said this thing isn’t yours?” He quickly changed his tone and held up the evidence bag in front of the female student. Inside was the tablet computer that was taken away by the teenage hijacker not long ago.
The girl nodded. “When I packed my schoolbag this morning, I didn’t have this thing.”
“Then you have never touched it?”
The girl’s eyes were clear. “You can check for fingerprints.”
“Makes sense.” Xing Conglian rubbed the stubble on his chin.
“My schoolbag has always been on me today. Unless someone put it on me when I was walking to the bus stop, but that’s not very likely.” The girl looked at her schoolbag, which was securely fastened by an iron clasp.
“Makes sense.” Xing Conglian continued to rub his stubbles. “What time did you leave the house?”
“Where do you live?”
“Oh?” Xing Conglian looked at the girl but didn’t ask any other questions.
“Well, uncle, can I go now?” After she spoke, she started walking in the direction of the school bus.
“Interesting.” Xing Conglian stared at the girl’s ponytail as he said it aloud to himself.
Wang Chao found it unbearable. “Captain, quickly give me the tablet and hurry up and go to the rest stop and find A’Chen, please!”
The captain of the police criminal division, who was about to catch a turtle in a jar*, ignored the pleas of his subordinate. He handed over the tablet in a leisurely manner and waited to the side with his arms folded.
*(瓮中捉鳖) Idiom referring to a sure catch.
Wang Chao looked at Xing Conglian’s happy face and had to swallow his anger and resigned himself to work.
He quickly connected the tablet to his laptop and tapped out a bunch of dazzling codes.
A complex red path was outlined on the map, showing the specific location of the tablet after it was stolen by the hijacker.
The cobweb-like road map was completely confusing, but Wang Chao seemed to suddenly realize something. He took out his phone and entered two locations.
“What the hell…” Wang Chao looked at the phone, then at the road map on the computer. He subconsciously shouted at Xing Conglian, “Captain, there’s a problem with the GPS on this computer. This is simply impossible!”
Hearing this, the general manager of Tu’an changed his expression. “Mr. Police Officer, this on-board system is the latest equipment from our company. It’s impossible for there to be any problems!”
“Look, I just did a simple calculation using my phone navigation app. From the Shifang section of the Honjing Highway to our current location, it’s a total of 165 kilometers. That would take more than two hours to drive.” As Wang Chao spoke, he flashed his phone to Yang Dianfeng, then tapped on the estimated time in the upper right corner of the phone. “But look, it’s just 8:00. It’s only been an hour and a half since the bus was robbed, and his driving path is complicated. How can it be possible to get from there to here in such a short time.”
“Maybe he took a shortcut. Can’t you analyze these paths? Shouldn’t there be clues?”
Wang Chao wanted to refute, but after thinking about it, Xing Conglian could have a point, so he brought up the map of the surrounding area of Honjing and began to study it carefully.
Xing Conglian looked at the entire map. The roads were densely packed like blood vessels inside a human body.
“The young lady just said she went out at 7:35. She was pretty sure that this tablet wasn’t in her schoolbag before that, so focus on studying where our lovely tablet passed through and how that tablet got into that young lady’s school bag during the magical time between 7:25 to 8:00.”
Wang Chao’s eyes lit up. He started to retrieve the data according to what Xing Conglian said, but soon became depressed.
“Manager Yang, to be honest, there’s still a problem with your system.” The technician looked frustrated. “Why doesn’t your GPS system have a ‘location-time’ record?”
“What do you mean?” Xing Conglian asked.
“The system only records the location and driving path of the machine, but it doesn’t record when it passes through these places.”
Yang Dianfeng spread his hands helplessly. “For us, we only need the GPS to control and monitor the driving path of the vehicle. I’m sorry.”
“We’ll have to combine this with surveillance to investigate. I’ll ask the school bus driver to show us his daily driving map for you to compare with.” Xing Conglian was also a bit disappointed. He patted Wang Chao on the shoulder as if to soothe him.
“But it doesn’t make sense, Captain!” Wang Chao rubbed his hands together. “Even if the comparison is made, what can it prove by knowing how it got into that young lady’s schoolbag?”
“Prove what?” Xing Conglian’s tone became a little cold. “Prove that a criminal has the ability to do something that we usually can’t do? Prove that we’ve been taken for a ride by him? Prove that we don’t know what his purpose is yet? What proof do you need?”
After Xing Conglian finished speaking, he didn’t even look at Wang Chao and walked towards the driver.
Wang Chao looked at the back of his boss and felt that after the autumn full of torrential rain and blood, his captain seemed to be quietly undergoing some changes, but it was hard to say what the difference was.
“Captain Xing, please wait a moment.”
Before having walked two steps, Xing Conglian was stopped by Yang Dianfeng.
“I have the latest map of Hongjing in paper form.” Yang Dianfeng ran to his car, took out a map from the glove compartment, and trotted over to deliver it. “Let him draw directly on the map so you can see it clearly.”
The school bus driver found that the captain of the criminal division had a bad look on his face, so he surprisingly cooperated. He marked his daily route on the map and clearly marked each stop he made. Xing Conglian glanced at the map and then gave it to Wang Chao.
Wang Chao compared the route on the map and compiled the driving path on the computer. A simple and clear path in yellow began to overlap with the red route recorded by the tablet system.
“What the hell?” Looking at the map, Xing Conglian couldn’t help but repeat what Wang Chao had just said.
Because the earliest overlap between the two routes was at the entrance of Fengjing, and after that, the red and yellow lines separated and overlapped many times, which was completely baffling.
“If there was a matching timeline, this would be much easier,” Wang Chao said exasperatedly.
“I’ll go around this section of the road again.” Xing Conglian pointed to the school bus route.
“I’ll go with you,” Yang Dianfeng said with a smile.
Outside the car window, the road signs kept changing. Yang Dianfeng was sitting in the front passenger seat and saw that while Xing Conglian was looking at the map, he didn’t make a wrong turn.
“Captain Xing has a good memory.” The handsome bus company manager leaned against the window and propped up his chin with one hand, letting the spring breeze blow into his hair.
Xing Conglian took out a cigarette and didn’t bother responding.
Xing Conglian stopped the car at the intersection close to Fengjing. It was currently school hours. The boys and girls got off the bus from a place outside the intersection and walked past the school gate.
Yang Dianfeng followed Xing Conglian briskly along the tree-lined street full of camphor trees.
Xing Conglian walked slowly with his hands in his pockets.
The chilly spring breeze was loud as it passed him, but he moved without hesitation.
“What are you thinking?” Yang Dianfeng finally couldn’t help but ask.
“Once, a friend of mine told me that if there’s something I don’t understand, just feel it.” Xing Conglian closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
“Then, do you feel anything?”
The captain of the police force opened his eyes and didn’t answer.
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