Out of caution, Lu Lingxi and the others quickly returned to the workstation.
The staff inside was a little surprised, “How come you’re back so soon?”
Wang Chaoliang had already listened to Yan Yue’s account of what had happened on the way, so he briefly recounted it at once. He had seen how smart Dahei and Xiaohei were, and believed that the little monkey Yan Yue had mentioned was smart enough to give them an early warning. He was worried that the other two staff members wouldn’t believe him, but when he finished, one of them thought about it and smiled, “I know which little monkey you’re talking about. It’s a very clever little fellow and occasionally comes to the workstation. But it’s very wary and seldom deals with people of its own accord, so it’s rare for it to give you a warning.”
There were many monkeys living in the rainforest of Kunnan, but these monkeys lived far away from human gathering places and rarely appeared in front of humans. The staff at the workstation had only seen them a few times, and the little monkey Yan Yue was talking about was the most lively and daring of them all. Last time, it even exchanged a flower for a loaf of bread, but only after observing them for a long time to make sure they were not a danger. Situations like the one Yan Yue mentioned hardly ever happened.
The topic of conversation soon turned to the little monkey, and although Yan Yue found it interesting to listen, he had to interrupt them to ask a question that had been on his mind all the way. “What would the little monkey warn us about?”
On this point, the staff present had no idea. But from what they knew about the little monkey, it must have been some kind of danger ahead, either a human or a large, dangerous animal. One of the staff members was inclined towards a human. This rainforest, because it bordered other countries, had its fair share of fugitives and drug smuggling outlaws venturing out. Fortunately, on the one hand, the rainforest was too dangerous, and on the other hand, the border armed police were very strict, and nothing had happened to this area. However, some time ago, the anti-drug police on Kunnan’s side caught a large overseas smuggling and drug trafficking group apart from several of the main leaders. It might be that they would flee to this area.
It was fine if he didn’t say it; but when he finished speaking, not to mention Yan Yue, even Lu Lingxi realised the seriousness of the problem.
The staff member explained with a smile: “Don’t worry, because of the unique environment in the rainforest, vision is limited. Except for a little monkey, an average person can’t see far. Besides, there are border armed police patrolling regularly nearby, so nothing will happen.”
When the other party said that, Yan Yue couldn’t say anything. The rest of the time, he and Lu Lingxi were very conscious of their activities and kept them within a few hundred metres of the workstation, not daring to stray too far away.
Not far behind them, the tall, burly man who had followed them all the way here climbed up on the hanging vines and looked through the small binoculars in the direction of Lu Lingxi and Yan Yue. He recognised the workstation of the botanical garden and guessed that Lu Lingxi and Yan Yue were probably the new staff here. It looked like the two probably hadn’t seen anything, otherwise they wouldn’t have remained here. In that case, the tall, strong man was a little hesitant to listen to his boss and make a move while they were alone.
As he hesitated, Yan Yue sensed something and looked thoughtfully in the man’s direction. Although he couldn’t see anything, Yan Yue felt in his heart that something was wrong. He took Xiaohei from his wrist and whispered something; Xiaohei hissed in agreement and then burrowed into the grass. Within a few moments, several brightly coloured poisonous snakes slithered out of the grass, driven by Xiaohei in the direction of the man.
The man didn’t react at first, but soon realised that something was wrong. A small green snake suddenly sprang up from under him and tried to bite him. The man reacted extremely quickly and jumped down from the tree to avoid the snake’s attack. He was glad that he’d managed to dodge the snake’s attack when he felt a stinging pain in his ankle. When he looked down, another small green snake was hanging from his boot, biting him hard. The man knew this snake, a common venomous snake in the rainforest. He hurriedly fished out the antidote he always had in his bag, applied it to the wound and left the area hastily. The man was in such a hurry that he didn’t even notice that he had dropped his binoculars on the ground.
As soon as he left, Yan Yue rushed over to the place where he heard the commotion, and his face looked a bit ugly when he saw the binoculars on the ground.
Lu Lingxi also saw the binoculars and asked nervously, “Is there any danger?”
Yan Yue frowned slightly and said in a low voice, “I’m afraid so.” At this time he couldn’t help but start to miss Dahei; in terms of vigilance and chasing people, Dahei could beat Xiaohei by a hundred points. Yan Yue sighed, “If only Dahei or Fang Lei were here.”
Lu Lingxi seriously thought about this idea and privately felt that Dahei was more reliable than Fang Lei.
Fang Lei, who was far away in downtown Kunnan, didn’t know that he was being missed by Yan Yue and sneezed several times in a row. “Strange, could it be that Xiaohui misses me.” Fang Lei muttered in his heart. This time he couldn’t bring Xiaohui with him on his business trip and entrusted Xiaohui to a colleague like he had last time. In order to avoid Master Cat making trouble, Fang Lei also made it a point to explain to his colleague that he shouldn’t feed Xiaohui canned cat food all the time; Xiaohui preferred to eat small dried fish, and the colleague should occasionally treat Xiaohui to it.
When he thought about it, Fang Lei felt that he really missed Xiaohui. He didn’t know if Xiaohui was obedient during his absence, if he was eating well, and if his colleague had bought Xiaohui dried fish. He looked up and saw a food stall on the side of the road selling crispy dried fish, a speciality of Kunnan. Fang Lei’s heart moved; he went over to the owner and bought half a catty, which would be his snack for tonight.
With the dried fish in his hand, Fang Lei wandered back to where he lived. Because he was expected to stay in Kunnan for a short time, Fang Lei and the two colleagues who had come with him didn’t stay in a hotel to save money, but in an old house owned by a local colleague in Kunnan who didn’t live there often.
When he returned, his two colleagues were not at home. Fang Lei was about to open the door when he suddenly stopped moving, overwhelmed with the feeling of being watched again, just like in the morning. He glanced back and scanned the surroundings alertly, but there was nothing suspicious around him. Fang Lei lowered his head. His intuition of many years of work made him believe that he was not mistaken; someone was really watching him. Could it be related to the case? The ones who escaped came back to tip off the others?
While Fang Lei felt suspicious, he suddenly heard a meow and a yellow tabby cat jumped to the wall of the alley, its green eyes looking straight at Fang Lei, giving him a feeling of being watched. Fang Lei couldn’t help but be relieved that it was just a cat and he was the one who had been a little overly nervous. Fang Lei relaxed, thought about it, took out some of the fish in his hand and put it in the corner against the wall, gesturing for the tabby cat to come over and eat the fish.
The cat didn’t move at first, and Fang Lei didn’t care. Cats are always wary of people, so when he was gone, the cat would probably dare to come over and eat. He opened the door, thinking that, but before he could enter the house, a grey figure pounced on him and scratched his face unceremoniously. Almost by reflex, Fang Lei took a step back extremely quickly and grabbed the little thing in front of him while it slowed down a bit.
“Xiaohui!” Fang Lei said in shock.
The one he had grabbed was clearly Xiaohui, who should have stayed in Fengcheng. Xiaohui waved his paws angrily, the fur on his body bristling in anger. Unfortunately for Xiaohui, Fang Lei had gained a lot of fighting experience in the process of getting along with him and carried Xiaohui in a position that made Xiaohui unable to scratch his face.
“Xiaohui, why are you here and how did you get here?” Fang Lei asked curiously.
Xiaohui in front of him looked clean and dry, not at all like he had travelled a long way to Kunnan. Fang Lei didn’t believe that Xiaohui could have run from Fengcheng to Kunnan all by himself.
Xiaohui meowed twice in anger.
Fang Lei found a small plate, put the dried fish in it and placed it in front of Xiaohui, coaxing him, “These fish are all for you. Just now outside I thought Xiaohui liked to eat dried fish, so I gave some to another cat.”
Xiaohui listened and meowed twice more.
Fang Lei smoothed Xiaohui’s fur in amusement and promised, “Okay, all the dried fish from now on will be Xiaohui’s, no other cats will eat it.”
Xiaohui seemed to be satisfied with Fang Lei’s assurance and squatted down in front of the small plate and started to eat the dried fish.
Fang Lei was still curious as to how Xiaohui had found his way here, but unfortunately Xiaohui refused to answer this question. But Fang Lei did learn that the tabby cat outside was Xiaohui’s little brother whom Xiaohui entrusted specifically to keep an eye on Fang Lei’s whereabouts when he went out. There were several other little brothers like that, spread out in different parts of the alley. Just now, if he hadn’t made Xiaohui too angry by giving the tabby cat dried fish, Xiaohui wouldn’t have jumped out to settle the score with him.
Fang Lei laughed and shook his head, rubbing Xiaohui’s bulging belly. Xiaohui lay comfortably with his belly facing the sky, meowing a few times every now and then.
The mood was perfect when the mobile phone in Fang Lei’s pocket rang. Just as he picked up the phone, his colleague said urgently, “The border police have just discovered the whereabouts of the escaped drug traffickers in the rainforest at the border. The local police have already sent someone there, so we have to hurry up and follow them.”
Before his colleague could finish speaking, Fang Lei grabbed his car keys and left the house. As soon as he walked out, Xiaohui jumped into the car right behind him. At this time, Fang Lei couldn’t care less about talking to Xiaohui. While driving, he said holding his mobile phone, “I’ll meet you at the police station right away, so tell me what happened first. How did you find the trail? Is it confirmed that it’s the gang?”
The colleague said: “Only 80% confirmed now, but the binoculars found at the scene were commonly used by the gang. You know that all their stuff is plundered from abroad, the things left when the army retreated and not available in the country, so there is a high possibility that it is them. As for how it was found, I heard that two tourists in the rainforest found it, and they were also the ones who called the police and contacted the armed border police.”
“There are tourists in the rainforest?” Fang Lei was surprised, “Don’t tourists all go to the Kunnan Nature Reserve? Is there such a thing as going to the jungle?”
The colleague laughed at this, “Some tourists are bold and don’t want to go to the reserve, they just like to wander around outside. Besides, the two tourists this time weren’t exactly going on their own. There is a botanical garden field workstation in that rainforest and they were with the staff of the station.”
The botanical garden, the staff, the two tourists, the combination of these words gave Fang Lei a bad feeling. He remembered calling Yan Yue in the morning. Didn’t Yan Yue say they were following a friend from the botanical garden to wander around in the rainforest? It couldn’t be a coincidence, right?
Fang Lei’s heart was beating like a drum all the way, and he didn’t even bother to respond when he met up with his colleagues at the police station and was teased about taking his cat out with him. He turned his head to look at the mighty and domineering Master Cat crouching on the passenger side and smiled wryly. It would be convenient if it was Yan Yue and Lu Lingxi, just in time to entrust Xiaohui to them.
They sped along the way and soon reached a small village at the border. The border police were stationed here, and the local police station was also located in this small village. As soon as he got out of the car, Fang Lei saw Yan Yue. The colleague who had come with him went in to ask about the situation and asked Fang Lei to wait by the car first. Fang Lei took advantage of the situation to rush over to Yan Yue, looking him up and down, “Is everything alright?”
Yan Yue was taken aback, “Fang Lei, why are you here?”
Fang Lei said in a low voice, “You still remember the incident at the beginning of the year when someone tried to plant evidence to frame Xiao Xi, right?”
Yan Yue nodded.
“It is that case. The more we followed the trail, the deeper the investigation went, directly leading to a drug trafficking gang outside the country. Now quite a few drug dealers have been caught, and a few big fish got away during the previous arrest, presumably the ones you met.” Speaking of this, Fang Lei changed the subject, “What about Xiao Xi? How did you guys meet those people? What the colleague said on the phone wasn’t clear either.”
Yan Yue’s expression was quite serious, “Xiao Xi and some friends are resting inside. As for the encounter, it wasn’t us who encountered them, it was them who came looking for us.” He started with the little monkey warning them, and kept talking about how he felt something was wrong and commanded Xiaohei to drive poisonous snakes to investigate, only to find the binoculars someone had left behind, and finally to the point where they left the rainforest and reported the incident to the police.
Fang Lei was stunned as he listened; he immediately lowered his voice, “That’s not what you told the police, right?” This was too much like making up a story, a monkey warning them, commanding poisonous snakes or something.
Yan Yue chuckled, “Don’t worry, I’m not that stupid.”
But apart from the Xiaohei part, Yan Yue didn’t hide anything else. He was honest about the warning from the little monkey and he suspected it was from there that he and Xiao Xi were being watched.
Fang Lei thought so too, “That group was probably nearby at the time, and if it wasn’t for the little monkey’s warning, you would have run into each other. It’s also a good thing you guys left early, otherwise it would have been dangerous. It’s a gang of desperados. I guess they thought you had seen them and wanted to check what was going on and deal with you when you are alone so that you didn’t give away their whereabouts.”
Yan Yue nodded. That was what he was worried about, so after seeing the binoculars he made a quick decision to leave the rainforest with the two staff members of the workstation and immediately went to the village to call the police.
Fang Lei reminded, “They’re already on you and Xiao Xi, so you and Xiao Xi should stay in the village for now and not go back to Kunnan yet. There might be trouble in case there are still their accomplices over there. I’ll go back with you guys when this operation is over.”
Yan Yue gave an “en” and agreed. While the two of them were talking, Xiaohui had already jumped out of the car window like an arrow and followed the scent to find Lu Lingxi.
“Xiaohui?” Lu Lingxi blinked, wondering if he was mistaken.
Xiaohui leapt gently into Lu Lingxi’s arms; his furry paws clung to Lu Lingxi’s arm as he meowed affectionately.
As he got close, Lu Lingxi recognised that it was really Xiaohui and that he was not mistaken. He hugged Xiaohui in surprise, somewhat in disbelief, “Is Brother Fang also here? But that’s not right, Brother Fang is here on a business trip, how can he bring you along with him?”
Xiaohui held his head up proudly and nibbled on Lu Lingxi’s sleeve, signalling him to follow him out. Lu Lingxi spoke to Wang Chaoliang and carried Xiaohui out, following Xiaohui all the way to Fang Lei’s car. Fang Lei and the others had come to Kunnan not by plane like Lu Lingxi and Yan Yue but taking turns to drive all the way from Fengcheng to Kunnan. Xiaohui agilely jumped from Lu Lingxi’s arms onto the trunk, gently tapped his paw and crouched there without moving.
Lu Lingxi was dazed, “Xiaohui was hiding in the trunk to follow?”
Xiaohui licked his paws and meowed, sort of admitting it.
Lu Lingxi simply didn’t know what to say.
When Yan Yue finished talking to Fang Lei, he looked at Lu Lingxi standing alone behind Fang Lei’s car looking at something. The two of them walked over, and when they saw Xiaohui, Yan Yue was surprised to see that Fang Lei had brought Xiaohui with him on the business trip. Meanwhile, Fang Lei guessed that Xiaohui had been hiding in the trunk and said in a weird tone: “Xiaohui, you’ve been in the car all the way?”
Xiaohui jumped into Lu Lingxi’s arms and refused to pay any attention to Fang Lei. Fang Lei laughed and reached out to take Xiaohui, patting his head, “You’re lucky that this car is so broken and the trunk doesn’t close tightly, otherwise you’d suffocate.”
Meow! Xiaohui angrily scratched Fang Lei.
Fang Lei couldn’t do anything, so he had to stuff Xiaohui back into Lu Lingxi’s arms, which resulted in Xiaohui getting even angrier.
Fang Lei: “……”
What a Master Cat.