Whatever the twins were currently thinking about, they were temporarily unable to find Fang Zhao. They had even especially run over to the auction venue for a look, but they were still unable to even catch a glimpse of their idol.
"He is probably in a private room. If not, he really isn't here."
"He was seen walking in the opposite direction. Maybe he really has no intention of coming here."
"Or maybe there are too many people here and that's why we haven't found him."
"Forget it, let's stop looking. After all, he is still on this ship. Who knows, maybe we might get to see him tomorrow or something."
Friends of the twins advised them to give up searching for Fang Zhao. Having achieved zilch in their search, they could only abandon it altogether.
Ruan Shuang, who had also had the idea of finding director Roman, had gone to the auction venue for a look-see. He had caught sight of neither Roman nor Fang Zhao and thought to himself, Did that little fella Fang Zhao really not come? My previous words were indeed effective.
Elsewhere, Fang Zhao referred to the information that Eric had provided, and he started his search.
"Is this where he disappeared?"
The place Fang Zhao was standing at currently was known as the central plaza. This was the central open-air entertainment district on the cruise. It was teeming with people at all times. Besides commercial shops, there were also many self-service dispensers with a variety of goods.
Among the crowd of guests, Fang Zhao also spotted some plainclothes. These were probably the men that Eric had dispatched.
"My men have split up and have been searching the nearby area for 10 minutes, yet they have not seen the target. We have used the surveillance system and are still unable to detect him. Even with face recognition, we still aren't able to find him. I suspect that he might have put on a mask or a disguise," Eric said on the call.
If the target had reacted and changed his disguise before they had even responded or if the target had other accomplices assisting him, then it would really be hard to find him.
So much time had already passed. Just one minute was enough for someone to go into hiding, and it had already been 10 minutes since they had lost sight of the target.
There were too many people in this district. Even Eric, who was looking through each and every surveillance camera, felt tired and did not know where to start.
Although this was not the first time such a situation had occurred on this cruise ship, Eric still felt he had no other alternatives. There were too many people on board that had special statuses, so the manhunt operation was limited. Both his subordinates and himself had limited capabilities, as their hands were tied.
Watching Fang Zhao standing there, Eric felt that he had forced Fang Zhao to do something, so he told Fang Zhao, "Never mind, go ahead if you have other matters to attend to first. I will dispatch more manpower to investigate here."
Since he had already come over, Fang Zhao had no intention of leaving immediately. "I'll take a look around first." The auction had already started; he wouldn't be able to make it even if he went over now. The venue entrance had already been shut and there would be no entry. He might as well search around here. Any additional clues were always good.
Somewhere on the 12th floor.
A person stepped out from the disco dance floor at a bar. This was the suspect that had put on a disguise and was currently being sought out by the police squad.
He stood leisurely in front of the railing and answered a call.
"Wait another 30 minutes. They would probably disperse by then," the person on the other end of the line said.
"Who did you say their backup was?" the suspect asked.
"No idea, the wiretap information is not complete. All I know is that it's the person who made the police report."
"The one who set the police's attention on to me? Has he come over? Who is it?"
He knew that the police's attention was on him because someone had made a report and disrupted his escape plans, exposing him too early.
To actually make a police report!
"I feel that what is most important now is to wait," the voice in the earpiece advised.
"Got it. After this job is done, I'm going to leave this place and lay low for a couple of years."
However, he just wanted to know exactly who it was that had made the police report. What had that person been able to see through? At which point had he screwed up?
As he scanned the central plaza, he saw a few plainclothes.
This bunch couldn't be any more obvious even if they were in disguise.
The corner of his mouth curled upward into a grin. He just loved standing at a high place and watching this bunch thinking that they were well hidden as they searched for him.
However, he had only just broken into a grin when his face froze.
He saw someone, and their eyes made contact. At the moment the other party met his eyes, the suspect felt a shred of alarm in his heart.
Following that, all he noticed was the other party's gaze locking on to him and that person saying something. Immediately after, the few plainclothes turned to look over!
What followed was like the police squad turning into hungry cats that had caught the scent of a fish as they started to encircle the suspect!
"You have been found!" the voice in the earpiece said, sounding both questioning and confused.
"I have a disguise on!"
The tone in the earpiece was anxious now. "But you have been exposed! What have you done?"
"Nothing! All I f*cking did was unintentionally make eye contact with him!"
At the other side, Fang Zhao had originally wanted to search upward floor by floor. He had not expected to see the suspect right away. The suspect even had the gall to stand so brazenly at the railings and look down.
After informing the police squad, Fang Zhao also made his way in that direction.
Police duty room.
A police officer watching the screen was surprised. "Is it really this person? But his hairstyle and appearance have totally changed.
"Probably. There is no other reason for why our men hadn't been able to find him. If he was innocent, why would he be trying to escape?" Eric was delighted with his decision to get Fang Zhao. Otherwise, who would have known that the completely unfamiliar person standing out in the open was actually the suspect that they had so painstakingly been trying to find?
"That impressive? I feel that Fang Zhao can moonlight at the Cemetery of Martyrs on Memorial Day," another police officer lamented.
Eric didn't have too much to think about. The dejection he had been feeling previously had vanished. Clutching the comms device in his hand, he instructed the scattered squad members on each floor while staring fixedly at the screen. His tone was somewhat elated as he barked out instructions. "Seize that person! Surveillance, watch closely! Don't let him escape this time!"
As he saw Fang Zhao also heading over, Eric decided to withdraw Fang Zhao from the capture, but after thinking about it, he changed his mind. He would wait till the suspect was caught first. What would happen if they lost sight of this guy again?
At the central plaza.
Tonight, Fang Zhao was wearing a slightly more formal suit for a soiree. This sort of outfit was not conspicuous here, as it was meant for the night's auction.
Fang Zhao had wanted to dress a little more headstrongly, but from his days at Silver Wing, he knew that this sort of formal suit gave a better impression and projected the serious and dignified appearance of someone going for an interview.
Only someone with a high enough status had the capability to be headstrong. If one wasn't at a high enough level, it was best to adhere to the rules. This was something that both Xue Jing and Ming Cang had told Fang Zhao before. Thus, Fang Zhao had specially dressed up formally. However, the current circumstances were extraordinary, so he didn't care about being formal or not.
Hearing about the suspect's movements from inside his earpiece, Fang Zhao took off his jacket and hung it on a nearby public clothes rack.
He dispensed a drawstring from a vending machine—the sort that was used by guests at the swimming pool to tie up their children's bags or to tie items such as swimming tubes to the kid to prevent them from losing it. The length and elasticity of these strings were adjustable. It was extremely childish in pink and blue, and it even had cartoon illustrations on it.
Fang Zhao pulled on both ends; it seemed rather durable.
Police officers watching Fang Zhao's movements on the screen were somewhat stunned by this series of actions.
Captain Eric glanced at the scene but simply had no time to express his views. He had received information on the suspect they were pursuing.
"Target his gone to the roof!"
"He's heading to the bow of the ship!"
A conjecture came to Eric's mind as he heard this while keeping an eye on the pursuing operation. It seemed like this suspect was very familiar with every area on the ship. Had he infiltrated the ship quite some time ago? There was probably someone giving him instructions inwardly. Perhaps the few cases aboard cruise ships previously had also been committed by them.
Thinking about it, Eric got more worked up. Not about the merits he might log—if they could solve the previous few cases, the brooding feeling in his heart would disappear.
"Continue to chase! If you lose him this time, forget about returning!"
When he finished issuing commands, Eric watched Fang Zhao through the surveillance systems. The comms between the two were still ongoing. Eric passed on the disseminated information to Fang Zhao. "The elevators here are very crowded. There is a door 20 meters toward the left side of where you are. Head through that door and move another 70 meters before making a right. You will see a special elevator there. I'll inform the command center to give you special privileges for it and you will be able to reach the roof very quickly... Where are you running to!"
Over there, after Fang Zhao had left the central plaza, his pace picked up. As the crowd became more sparse, Fang Zhao kept increasing his speed.
The route he took was completely different from the one Eric had advised him to take!
There was a section at the end of the central plaza that was a rock-climbing wall simulating a natural cliff. This was specifically used for rock climbing, and it satisfied guests who had a passion for extreme sports.
At the moment, a group was performing an activity on the rock-climbing wall.
The instructor had just demonstrated to the members of the group how to effectively climb up the wall at speed and had competed with a few competitive people, quite simply crushing their eager spirits.
"All right, take a break before having another go! Next, anybody else want to have a go against me?"
The words had just left the instructor's mouth when he realized someone had rushed over from the side in a flash. Following that, there was a rustle of wind as that person started ascending the wall.
The other person had climbed up with rapid speed, as if he were on flat ground. In a flash, he had vanished from the summit. To be precise, the other party had ascended the rock wall and had climbed to the roof deck.
People from the group who had raised their heads early had still been able to see a silhouette climbing. Others who looked up too late could only see the top of the wall.
A short while later, that instructor blankly asked, "Did someone... just... climb up?"
"I think so," members of the group replied.
"Are you sure it was a person?"
"I think... so."
"Who was that just now? I hadn't even said to start yet!"
"Couldn't see clearly."
There were still some people who had their heads raised as they stared at the summit. "Seems like he was bare handed, and his attire wasn't suited for climbing."
"Very good. Now, who can tell me how a bare-handed person without the aid of any equipment and wearing clothing not suitable could climb up so quickly?" the instructor asked.
The group of extreme sports fans collectively faced the wall and pondered hard.
How exactly had he done it?
The instructor waited for a bit, and before anyone answered, clapped his hands to draw the attention of everyone once again. "All right, let's change the question. Anyone know who that expert was?"
Everyone shook their heads, and they continued to face the wall and pondered.
The instructor asked once more but discovered that nobody knew the able person who had ascended the wall with a "woosh."
"We have seen a ghost!"
Police duty room.
Those who had witnessed the scene were already dumbstruck.
The cruise's command center was currently in a comms channel with Eric.
"Captain Eric, the elevator is ready for use and the authority has been handed over. When is the person you mentioned going to come?"
Eric, who could not take his eyes off the screen, had a complex look on his face. "...Thank you. There is no longer any need."