The closed off alley late in the night was absolutely silent. The wan light coming in from the streetlamps outside shone onto the bugs that flew around her body before landing on her wide-open eyes.
Her mouth was agape, but no sound came out. Instead, her voice was forced back into her throat, transforming into agonised chokes.
The black vortex slowly corroded away her inner mind’s consciousness bit by bit, as if countless black hands were dragging it down.
Her entire body powerlessly melted onto the ground.
A small depression was made into the narrow walls of the alley. The blood spurted out to stain the walls, and it slowly dripped down the bricks. There would soon be ants coming out from the other side of the darkness, drawn by the scent.
Her torn apart purse dropped down next to her, and her powder foundation tumbled out, flipping open. If it were any other situation, no woman would ever bear to waste this extremely expensive, specialised little product.
There was a person standing there. Then, she slowly breathed her last.CHAPTER ONE
Some people said that their time had been stopped long ago, much like their external appearances.
After entering the police academy, it was as if they were models that had been carved out, and after being sprayed in protective coating, remained like that forever.
Aside from cutting their hair that grew time after time, and their ranks slightly changing, they still gave off the same feeling as they had when they had first stepped into the police academy.
Before, when his nephew was still a tiny little thing, the person that looked identical to him had gotten into a car accident and lost his family. As a result, he, who had originally been alone, began to start living together with the two that had lost their family member.
While being cared for, he continued to work as he had before, occasionally punching certain people when they annoyed him.
Yes, that was the everyday lifestyle that they were all familiar with.
Before the violet-eyed child had joined, another matter had shattered their usual pace, like a brief interlude that continuously persisted.
It was early morning. As usual, Yu Tong was currently in the kitchen getting breakfast ready for everyone when he saw his adopted son walk over with a ton of newspapers and some letters in his arms.
It was a bit past seven in the morning. Some people upstairs had yet to come out of their rooms.
Because everyone in the family had for once no need to go to class or work, Yu Tong could prepare breakfast a bit later than normal, as he didn’t need to go to work until afternoon today. He took the mail from Yu’s arms. It wasn’t a standard envelope, but rather more similar to the Christmas card type. It had the picture of a smiley face on it, and no sender or address written. All that was on it were the words: “To Yu Xia”.
“Haha, I know who sent this. Give this to Xia later!” Yu Tong warmly smiled and patted the boy’s head.
“?” Yu nodded as he looked down at the mail in his hands.
“We might keep getting those in the future too. A few years or so ago, back when Xia and I were still working in the same unit, we received a case that was something like an underground loan shark detaining many children from families that couldn’t repay their debts. He was probably planning on selling them off to work off what they owed by becoming underage prostitutes, selling organs, or doing dirty work for others.” Yu Tong paused and pushed his glasses up as he recalled, “After receiving a spy’s report, we went to the mountains to uncover and capture that group. Some of the kids were several injured or ill. Because the mountains were too remote, the ambulances and police cars couldn’t enter, and one could only travel by foot. So Xia did all he could to carry those severely critical children that couldn’t wait much longer for treatment to the ambulances outside. Since then, one of kids that were rescued has been sending letters to Xia often. We’re all used to it by now.”
So that was it. Yu nodded, understanding more or less the origin of the letters.
Pretty much right when breakfast was about ready, a sound came from the top of the stairs. Yu Yin, who had woken by his alarm, yawned as he stumbled down. His originally somewhat curly hair was messy from bed-head. With his current hair color, it looked exactly like a bird’s nest.
Following behind was the person that shared an identical face to Yu Tong. Yu was pushing him from behind, re-enforcing the most important order of the Yu family head to “eat first then sleep”.
“Uncle, you have a letter again!”
While chewing on a potato slice, Yu Yin grabbed the letter he noticed on the table and waved it twice. “Your fan sent another letter of greeting.”
Yu Xia, who had only just gotten back from work at five in the morning, yawned as he walked over to grab the letter and easily ripped it open. “It’s here again.”
He flipped it over as he circled around the kitchen to the fridge, taking out a glass of fresh milk from a family business. The logo on the bottle belonged to a specific pasture. This was the brand that Yu Tong liked to order from.
Yu Yin cheerfully bounded over to look over his uncle’s shoulders at the letter. Aside from the typical greeting, a girl’s neat and tidy handwriting described how her grades at school had recently improved. Although she didn’t have the best relationships with her classmates, she would still bravely study at the police academy. The contents of the letter continued on a similar note.
Indifferent to the letter’s typical contents, Yu Yin looked over at Yu Xia, who was still half-asleep. His face that looked young enough to be a high school student’s was focusing on reading the letter.
Sometimes, Yu Yin really wanted to pinch that ridiculous baby face.
Too young…in two years, he’ll definitely look like my younger brother. It’s so imbalanced.
“Uncle, after drinking the high-calcium milk for several years, do you feel like you’ve gotten any taller?”
He grabbed at the somewhat heavy bottle as he mocked at the person that was still slightly shorter than him by one or two inches.
Despite focusing on the letter, Yu Xia did not fail to pick up Yu Yin’s words. His elbow shot out to strike his family’s son, who then doubled over in pain. Then he spun out a roundhouse kick quickly, viciously and accurately, without any hesitation. The glass bottle that nearly fell onto the ground was caught perfectly in his hands. All his movements were so precise and beautiful that the people watching from the sidelines practically felt like applauding.
Following an extremely loud bang from next to the dining table was a pained shout from a certain, smart-mouthed fellow.
Xiao Yu decided to pretend everything was just a hallucination, and very calmly held onto the soup bowl that had nearly spilled over from the collision. Ignoring what had just happened, he continued eating his breakfast.
“Xia, Ah Yin, didn’t I say before not to fight while eating?” Yu Tong stopped his younger brother from jumping onto his son and beating him up as he walked out carrying fruits, seeing that the two had successfully ceased their movements. “Don’t try it again, you broke the dining table last time!”
Yu Xia snorted and swiped his empty palm against the back of the other person’s head before going over to help bring the fruits.
Yu put down his chopsticks and then pressed some keys on his cellphone keyboard before turning the screen to show Yu Yin, who was currently rubbing his head.
After turning to read the small words on the screen, Yu Yin smiled. “That’s right, I’m sure it would be very easy to figure out who is specially sending the letters. But Uncle said to respect the other person’s privacy, so he never looked into it. After all, girls are more sensitive. If she wanted us to know her identity, she would naturally appear,” he explained in response to the short text asking why they hadn’t looked for the sender’s identity.
Back when they had first gotten this letter a few years ago, his dad had been worried about it possibly being an enemy, and had thus wanted to investigate who the sender was for a while. It wasn’t a hard task, as they could just check the public cameras.
However, Yu Xia had said that the person had no ill intent, so he had temporarily stopped them from doing this. After a few years passed without incident, they had all gotten used to it.
“But, now that you think about it, it really has been quite a while.”
Yu Tong sat down in an empty seat and sighed regretfully, “If she was still a little girl back then, she should be a high school student now.”
When he did the calculations, the children from the uncovered mountain area base hadn’t been very old back then. According to his estimates, they would be roughly around this age now. The slightly older ones were probably the same age as his son.
Back then, after seeing all the children suffering, Yu Xia had gotten so furious that he had ferociously beaten up the caught criminals. However…he obviously ended up getting punished to write reports afterwards.
Honestly speaking though, he beat those people up well.
“Sigh, in another two or three years, she will probably become a good wife and loving mother.”
Then he let out another sorrowful sigh.
Yu Yin turned to look at the target of admiration and said, “Speaking of which, Uncle, you’re already in your thirties. Do you have any plans to find someone to marry…no, I meant to say, any plans to let someone marry you?”
Yu Xia smiled slightly as he began to immediately lose it as usual. He cracked his knuckles, which emitted a horrifying clicking sound, and a twisted vortex-like mass of black appeared behind him.
“I’m sorry, I was wrong.”
He shouldn’t have provoked the demon king’s good mood today.
Yu Tong picked up the plates and decided not to pay either of them any mind. He called for the violet-eyed child to follow him into the living room, ignoring the sounds of the killer and the victim from behind.
“Take your time playing!”
If the dining table broke, he would just make the two of them pay for it together.
He was already over thirty.
Yu Xia watched his family members go out to do their own things. It was rare for him to have a break, and he could spend it at home sleeping a few extra hours. With a yawn, he lazily plopped down on the living room sofa, and its softness caused his accumulated exhaustion to spread throughout his body, forcing his eyelids to grow heavy.
There was movement from one side as someone lightly sat down on the rug next to the sofa.
Yu Xia squinted and saw the child his older brother had adopted sitting down on the side, with books and a backpack. In his hands was the cellphone that Yu Yin had gifted him.
“You planning on heading out?” Yu Xia flipped over and leaned forward to grab the remote control on the table. He turned the television on and switched to the news channel, intermittently eyeing the news broadcast talking about murders and arsons and such.
Yu nodded as he packed up the things in his backpack, the last item being his library card, before zipping the bag up.
“Who are you going off to study with?” Wow, so fast! The family member of a murderer that had just been caught yesterday had already appeared on TV. Sometimes, he really couldn’t help but admire the media’s power. They had even managed to film the family member crying while saying something along the lines of “the murderer was wrongly accused, the police have to carefully re-examine”.
If a family member of a cop had personally seen how fiercely that guy had attacked the police, perhaps they would also be crying right now?
The basic salary of a policeman wasn’t high, and they had little equipment. Even when stabbed and forced into hospitalisation, they had to make an external announcement questioning whether the investigators were overly defensive, even if all that happened to the murderer was being flipped over and possibly injuring their forehead.
That’s right, I should make a call to the hospital later to see if the stabbed patrol is awake yet…
Yu stared at him for half a second before taking up his phone and pressing a few buttons. He then turned the screen to face Yu Xia. “I’m going alone.”
“Why did you lie before? There’s no way Ah Si has any time to revise school work with you!” Unlike his older brother, Yu Xia did not beat around the bush, instead asking the question directly.
“Would you guys feel at ease letting me stay outside by myself for long periods of time?” Yu flashed the words on the screen before shrugging.
“But I don’t think you would stay outside alone for a long time. Before, you were always hiding in your room to read. Did anyone accompany you then?”
Ever since they had brought this child home, aside from doing their usual work, Yu Xia and his brother would often filter through the dealings that the Shao Di family and friends had. However, they had yet to discover anything about the situation.
The violet-eyed child did not reply. He pulled out a pair of glasses from his bag, which Yu Xia recognised as a former possession of Yu Yin’s. That damn brat loved playing around outside and had tons of random stuff like this. However, it was indeed good at covering the conspicuous violet eyes, which helped avoid unnecessary trouble.
Just as Yu was finishing up his preparations, the news temporarily switched to a daytime broadcast.
At the same time, the cellphone that Yu Xia had tossed on the side table started ringing. He immediately picked up the call and answered, “I’m currently on break, what’s the matter?”
Yu looked over to see the person lying on the sofa crawl up with a frown while saying things like “I’ll head over immediately”.
After hanging up, Yu Xia turned to see a certain person currently putting on their shoes. “Xiao Yu, I’ll go out with you. I can drop you off along the way.”
Yu wordlessly nodded and stood up, and after tapping the shoes on his feet, walked outside first. After a moment’s thought, he automatically grabbed the motorbike keys and waited in the driveway outside.
Like the other residents here, the Yu family had an outer wall and a large metal gate outside. The first thing upon entering the premise was the front yard, which some people had changed into a type of garden, while others, like the Yu family, had filled with cement to make into a driveway.
The first one to own a car was Yu Tong. Eventually, Yu Xia got fed up with constantly traveling around with public transport, so he ended up bringing a second-hand car home too. Then, Yu Xia decided that driving a car wasn’t flexible enough, so he bought a new motorbike.
After Yu Yin started working part-time, he also bought a motorbike. As a result, the front yard was filled with vehicles, almost like a mini exhibition.
Yu had only stood there for a bit over a minute before Yu Xia quickly finished dressing and ran down the stairs with slippers on. He gave Yu a look and asked, “How did you know I was going to take the motorbike?” He took the keys from the child’s hands while tossing a safety helmet over.
Xiao Yu caught the black safety helmet and shrugged.
It was past 11 AM. The typically ordinary little road was surrounded by layers and layers of yellow tape.
As usual, the residents nearby had gotten up early in the morning, with the mothers and grandmothers carrying grocery baskets to buy some groceries or breakfast at the market next to the small park nearby, bringing back with them the aroma of soy milk and fried bread sticks.
What had differed from usual was that as time passed and the amount of people increased, those that entered the small alley let out sharp shouts, drawing the other people nearby to surround the entrance and see the stranger lying on the ground, never to wake again.
Countless people gathered outside the yellow tape, some with good intentions, some with curiosity, some that were just passing by, and some that had come just for a scoop. The area was extremely noisy now.
“Boss, why are you so slow today? I thought it only took ten minutes to get here from your place!” Jiu Shen, who had made the call around half an hour ago and was nearly done taking photos of the scene, asked. Then he saw a motorbike use a ferocious speed to quickly force the reporters to retreat from their attempts at breaking in before sharply coming to a stop outside the tape. The rider jumped off and greeted the guarding police before tossing his safety helmet, accepting a cap, gloves, and facial mask before walking in.
“I made a detour to drop Xiao Yu off at the Taichung Library.” Yu Xia looked around; it was a very typical kind of small alley, which pretty much any area with higher populations had. There was also a pile of junk at the end of the dark path. “What’s the situation here?”
Jiu Shen passed the camera to an officer collecting the evidence and straightened up, patting his sore waist. “It’s a female. We found her ID in her bag: 25 years old, from Changhua city. She had just contacted her family before coming here. No lethal weapons found on the scene, but there are traces of blood and a heavy strike on the wall. Based on preliminary on-site examination, she has a serious injury on the back of her head, and some bruises on her forehead. Cause of death is still pending results. She has a lot of bruising and wounds from resisting as self-defense, with some clear finger-shaped bruises on her arm. Judging from the size, the other person was possibly male, and he would probably have scratches on his hand. We just gathered some objects as well as samples from underneath the fingernails to send back to the laboratory. That is where we are at now.”
Yu Xia looked at the body that had already been covered with a white cloth before kneeling down to lift it away.
A mix of blood and an odd stench assailed his nostrils.
He furrowed his brows. The body was already crawling with ants and small bugs, densely packed together and crawling all over, with even some coming out from the nostrils along the dried blood traces. It was as if these things had originally lived inside and were absorbing the body’s life force, and the sight was somewhat horrifying.
The eyes were still wide-open, as if she had been unwilling to close them. However, those eyes had already lost their focus and responsiveness. Her black, short hair was spread out from behind her skull, covering with thick bloodstains.
It was still possible to see her pretty features from her now ashen face. Perhaps due to struggling, her very standard female work clothes were somewhat messed up. The purse that had been tossed to one side was the same color as her outfit.
This victim’s income was probably pretty good. Yu Xia thought this after flipping through her purse and seeing its brand tag and the high-quality cosmetic goods. The powder foundation on her face and her clothing were not things that lower-class people would choose.
“Ah, Xu Ru Xian.” Jiu Shen quickly answered after thinking about the name that he had seen on the ID earlier. “We asked the neighboring residents, and apparently someone saw her walk in and out of this area, so we just sent out some brothers to go investigate.”
“Mm, got it.” Yu Xia patted away the ants on his fingers and lifted the white cloth a bit higher to see the woman’s fingers that had nearly been twisted apart. There was blood on them, although it wasn’t clear if it belonged to her or someone else. As time had passed, they had begun to darken.
“Um, Boss, the corpse will be transferred to Ah Si’s office.”
Unable to look at the insect-filled corpse any longer, Jiu Shen turned his head and just happened to see the person that was helping the transfer not too far away. Yu Xia nodded and looked around for a moment before shifting to the side so that they could continue with their process flow. His gaze was then drawn by the pile of junk in the back, so he went over to look. There wasn’t anything special, just some wooden furniture that had been abandoned by someone, a small chair, and something else unidentifiable. The ground was covered with a few empty bottles as well as mysterious garbage. Further down was a dead end. It looked like a few people tossed their trash here. Because it didn’t have a fixed cleaning schedule, the trash had accumulated.
The surrounding walls on either side were a bit tall, with old-fashioned single-story homes behind. One of them no longer had residents, with the grass and weeds having grown out completely to surround the house. There were no traces of anyone having gone through the area recently. There were several grey cement bricks on the wall. Aside from these, there were also glass shards and iron wires, a very common early-phase anti-theft installment.
After evaluating this for a bit, Yu Xia concluded that there was clearly nothing here. Moreover, it was a distance away from the corpse. Nothing around this area had been touched, and there were no other traces to be found. It looked like the victim had been forced in from the street, and upon discovering that it was a dead end, had turned back and gotten attacked there.
Yu Xia thought this over to himself for a while before turning around and calling out to the officer closest to him. “Give me the camera for a bit.” For some reason, although nothing was here, but he maintained his attitude of “wrongly killing one hundred is better than letting go of one thousand”, and decided to take some photos.
The officer immediately responded and turned to pass the camera over. But as he completed his turn, his expression suddenly changed drastically, and he shouted while clutching his camera tightly, “Boss! Above—”
Before he even finished speaking, Yu Xia immediately responded as he sensed a black shadow coming down from the top of his head. He reflexively jumped to the side and crashed into the other wall. Because there wasn’t much space, he was unable to dodge completely, so right before that thing could hit his head, he reached out to counter first. The loud bang immediately drew everyone’s attention towards him.
“Above, above you is a brick…” The officer stuttered out the rest of his sentence as he stared dumbly at Yu Xia as he patted away the broken shards on his body.
Absolutely terrifying! He broke the brick in half with his bare hand!
Jiu Shen, who had witnessed the historic destruction of the brick swallowed hard and hurriedly ran up to Yu Xia. “Bo-boss, are you ok?” No way, that brick wasn’t small or anything…yet it was so easily broken apart. Jiu Shen almost felt the brick’s pain. That brick must have been completely hollow, right?
Yu Xia glanced at him and pressed down on his fingers. “Slight sprain.”
Jiu Shen stared at the person in front of him whose inside did not match his baby face at all, and very cautiously patted his superior’s shoulder. With a serious expression, he finally voiced his suspicions of many years, “Boss, are you actually an Nth generation disciple of a Shaolin Temple layman?” If not, how could he have rampaged through their group with his brute power for so many years?
Everyone turned to look in their direction, anticipating the answer to the question they had also harbored for many years.
“Layman, my ass!” Yu Xia slammed a fist down onto Jiu Shen’s head and rolled his eyes. “If you have the time to blab nonsense, use it to hurry up and get to work!”
Jiu Shen’s head instantly burst in pain, and suspecting that his skull would shatter, he walked away while holding back tears. Luckily, the reporters hadn’t seen this scene; otherwise the main focus of tonight’s news would definitely not be this murder case, but something like: “Alarmed police officer uses bare hands to shatter brick on the crime scene. According to the channel’s exclusive reports, said police officer is from the Five Sacred Mountains.”
Haha! He even knew what tomorrow’s lead story would be; it would be about a certain news channel being mysteriously smashed up.
“Camera.” Completely ignoring the thought that all the subordinates were thinking, he reached a hand out to the dazed officer and stated one word.
As if waking from a dream, the young officer immediately loosened his grip to pass over the prepared camera before immediately fleeing to continue his work.
Too scary… They had all gained a deeper understanding of their superior’s strength today. Which division’s lead could hold up against our boss? The young cop suddenly felt that he had entered a frightening place to work under an even more frightening boss. Hopefully we don’t make a mistake some day and end up having the same fate as that brick.
After taking some photos around the place, Yu Xia waved his hands to shift the piles of junk over a bit. There was nothing suspicious inside, so he turned back around to drop the camera back into the hands of the previous guy.
“Boss, the reporters are still there…” Jiu Shen approached once he saw that Yu Xia had seemingly finished his actions, and pointed to the reports outside that had no intentions of leaving.
“No comment.” Yu Xia eyed his companion and gave this simple, two-word reply.
Once the work here had pretty much finished, Yu Xia, who was able to laze around on vacation for once, removed his cap and face mask to leave the site. As a bunch of reports came over to try and block him off, he jumped onto his motorbike and left. Once those people felt they couldn’t catch up and changed their target to another officer, Yu Xia stopped to make a phone call.
While waiting, Yu Xia scanned his surroundings on habit.
Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but when his gaze landed on a nearby building, he happened to see one of the residents walk out. Seemingly also noticing him, the person stared straight back.
The figure belonged to a long-haired woman.
Then, the call connected.
“This is Yan Si. I’m currently busy, so if you have something to say, hurry up and say it, and if you have to fart, hurry up and do it. If there is a very urgent matter, please come and find me. I’m currently in my workplace on a date with a corpse.”
After getting an eyeroll from his colleague, Yan Si put down his work and held the phone with his shoulder without removing his gloves as he laughingly spoke on the line.
“You’re too long-winded, and even more annoying than an answering machine,” an impatient voice answered.
“Boss Xia, my hands are still dripping blood. If you don’t hurry up, that time will result in blood on the floor.”
Protecting the environment was very important. Randomly destroying the place’s hygienic state would result in him being beaten up by the cleaning people later. “That’s right, I heard from Jiu Shen just now about your miraculous brick-shattering!”
It was really such a shame that he hadn’t been there to witness the historical moment and take some dynamic photos. Then he could have submitted them for publication and the next police publication could have the image of his boss’s godly courage displayed on the front cover!
“You speak too much…the new victim will be sent to you in a bit…ants…”
Suddenly, the static sound of connection interference covered the original words, breaking up the call so that it was hard to piece together. Yan Si knit his brows together as he asked, “You’re sending an ant’s corpse here?” That would really be amazing. He had never tried to dissect such a corpse before, since it was mini, pocket-sized. Just who would be cruel enough to make an ant its victim? “Is it the first of April today?” If he was supposed to be pranked, he needed a more interesting excuse!
“Weird…” It seemed as if more words were being said, but the phone was still clearly suffering from heavy interference, making the other person just as confused.
Yan Si listened closely to the static, which wasn’t too ear-piercing, and could hear a strange voice. “Boss, are you near a broadcasting station? I seem to hear the sounds of a drug deal.” But isn’t this broadcasting station interference a bit too strong? To even affect a cellphone… He had always thought that phones wouldn’t be affected.
It’s not an underground station right?
“I’ll call you again later.” Seeing as the connection was so poor, Yu Xia immediately decided it was best to just cut the call.
Yan Si chuckled at the buzzing reply and asked the person next to him to put the phone back.
Less than 20 minutes after hanging up, another corpse was delivered to the workstation as usual.
After looking over the new case, Yan Si could more or less guess what the other person had been trying to say.
“That’s right, could you help me prepare the first aid kit in the office?” Upon seeing the ants crawling all over the body, Yan Si pulled off his gloves to wash his hands while shouting at his coworker, who had been about to leave.
“First aid kit?” The female colleague in the office stared at him doubtfully. “Were you cut by the corpse? If you got injured, you had better quickly disinfect it and get it checked! Otherwise, it will get infected.” Having worked in this occupation for many years, they all knew this procedure well.
“Oh, that’s not it. Boss Xia will definitely charge straight here later.” Yan Si smiled as he took out new gloves and tools and said, “Nobody could walk out completely uninjured after breaking a brick with their bare hands. If they did, then they would really be god.”
“What and what now?” The female employee did not understand at all, and simply waved her hands. “I’ll just take it out and place it in the resting room. See you tomorrow.”