As Yan Yue’s group continued the search, the police officers left behind in the village received word that a wounded drug dealer might have escaped and lurked around the village.
“Don’t alert the villagers, and don’t miss any suspicious places. Remember, the other party is a ruthless outlaw, make sure the villagers are safe, and be careful that the other party might fight to death.” The man in charge instructed.
The police officers around him nodded.
The case they handled this time had been followed from the beginning of the year to the present. For a full three months, all their energy had been focused on this case. Now they were about to finally close the net. As long as these main criminals were caught, this overseas drug trafficking group would be completely eliminated. But if any of them escaped, no one knew when the other party would resurface again. Therefore, the police were holding back their breath and swore that they would never let any drug dealer get away.
As soon as they started their search, the two staff from the botanical garden’s workstation came to the police in a panic, saying that two of their companions had been abducted by an injured man who had run off to the rainforest.
“What! The drug dealer took two hostages?” The man in charge of the left-behind team was very anxious and while arranging for the police to chase after the man, he hurriedly contacted the leader of the team searching in the rainforest.
“What the hell is going on?”
The two staff members were regretful. They just showed kindness for a moment. Who knew they would run into an outlaw? Just half an hour ago, they met an injured man at the entrance of the village. The man wore local ethnic attire and was very familiar with the surroundings. They didn’t suspect anything. They took the man back to the village and gave him the medicine. After the man took the medicine, he said that he wanted to go to the village on the other side of the mountain. They saw that the man didn’t really feel well and they kindly sent the man to the entrance of the village. Unexpectedly, the man was much more mobile than he pretended to be. Suddenly he took out a gun and dragged their unsuspecting companions into the rainforest while they were not paying attention.
The two companions who were held hostage by the man were also familiar to the police. They happened to be the two who came to the police in the morning and said that they had discovered the whereabouts of drug dealers. They also had a friend who was now showing the way for the police in the rainforest. Hearing this, the man in charge of the police force in the village had a headache.
He remembered the very good-looking teenager, especially the warm feeling that the teenager gave him when he smiled. He also remembered the teenager’s companion, a handsome, strong man who talked to them so calmly and didn’t look simple. Not to mention the fact that these men were also friends of Fang Lei, the senior police officer sent from the Fengcheng City side of this joint operation. The handsome man had come forward to show the police the way, and the police thanked him and promised to protect his companions who were left in the village. But how long had it been since those words were spoken before the teenager was held hostage by a drug dealer? So how could he explain it to that man?
Before he could think of what to say on his side, his men had already contacted the leader of the anti-drug brigade leading the team in the rainforest.
“What’s going on? A villager is being held hostage by a drug dealer?” The voice of Captain Wu Jiang came over the satellite phone.
The local person in charge smiled bitterly, “It’s not our local villagers, it’s the two people who called the police this morning. One of their companions is with you, Team Wu, I have no face to talk to him.”
According to the thoughts of the man in charge, had the drug dealer really held local villagers hostage, they wouldn’t have to worry so much. Even if the villagers were held hostage, they might find an opportunity to escape the drug trafficker at some point. They were also familiar with the rainforest and knew how to avoid the dangers there. But the two people being held hostage were both outsiders, one old and one young, and neither had any experience of living in the rainforest, not to mention dealing with the drug traffickers. It would be troublesome if they encountered a poisonous snake or something.
Wu Jiang’s face sank as he darted a glance at Yan Yue in front of him and said in a low voice, “Okay, I see. They can’t run far, so hurry up and send someone after them.”
After hanging up the phone, Wu Jiang thought about it and went up and patted Yan Yue’s shoulder, “Brother, let me tell you something.”
Yan Yue had a bad feeling in his heart since Wu Jiang received the phone call, and his heart sank when he heard the words. His gaze was fixed on Wu Jiang’s face, sharp like a knife. Wu Jiang was speechless.
Fang Lei also realised that something was wrong and immediately stood next to Yan Yue, asking, “What’s wrong?”
Yan Yue’s expression was stern and his gaze was grim as he looked at Wu Jiang, but his tone was unexpectedly calm, “Say it, what happened?”
Wu Jiang was a little embarrassed, but now was not the time to hide it; he told the news he received, focusing on the fact that the police left behind in the village had been deployed, so Yan Yue didn’t have to worry. The other party had been injured after all, and Wu Jiang suspected that he took hostages on purpose. According to the other two staff members, the other party was perfectly capable of running away if he wanted to. If the man wanted to kill Lu Lingxi and Wang Chaoliang before running, he could do it easily. But the other party didn’t do it, instead, he took the two of them into the rainforest as hostages. Wu Jiang analysed that the other party must have known that their whereabouts were revealed and that the police started searching the rainforest, so he took the hostages as a bargaining chip. It seemed that for a while Lu Lingxi and Wang Chaoliang wouldn’t be in any danger.
He said this both as an analysis and in the hope that Yan Yue would calm down after hearing this. Although Yan Yue appeared to be calm, Wu Jiang was standing close to him and could sense how heavy the pressure on Yan Yue was; it was like a volcano on the verge of eruption.
Although he had been mentally prepared in advance, after Yan Yue heard that Lu Lingxi was being held hostage in the rainforest, he still had the feeling of blood running out of his body and his brain being hit with a heavy hammer. He was clearly standing on the flat ground, but he had the illusion of falling into the abyss. Anxiety and fear filled his heart, and never before had he felt as panicked as he did now. Even when he heard the news of his parents’ divorce back then, even when his father opposed his return to China after he graduated from university, it didn’t make him feel as deeply powerless as it did now.
“Yan Yue, Xiao Xi…” Fang Lei wanted to comfort him but didn’t know what to say.
Xiaohei seemed to sense Yan Yue’s emotions and quickly poked his head out of his sleeve, slowly rubbing his body against Yan Yue’s wrist and hissing, showing his tongue.
After being rubbed by Xiaohei like this, Yan Yue completely calmed down. He knew that Wu Jiang couldn’t be blamed for this matter, and he also needed Wu Jiang’s help in finding Xiao Xi. He said solemnly, “I’m going to find Xiao Xi.”
Wu Jiang let out a sigh of relief; it was good that Yan Yue had calmed down. He quickly analysed, “The reason why the drug trafficker escaped into the rainforest and his purpose are actually the same as ours. We want to catch the remaining drug dealers, and he wants to meet with them. I can guarantee that as long as we catch the other drug dealers before they meet, your friend will be safe. At that point, whether it’s an ambush or a negotiation, the initiative will be in our hands.”
His analysis made sense, but it was all based on them getting to the remaining drug dealers first. What if that drug dealer rejoined them first? What if they had escaped the police completely? What would happen to Xiao Xi at that point?
Along the way, Wu Jiang had revealed many of the drug dealers’ past deeds, all of which were cruel and criminal. Yan Yue didn’t dare to imagine how they would treat Lu Lingxi, cursing, beating, or… any picture he could imagine was as if someone was holding a knife to his heart and cutting his flesh, causing him pain to the bone marrow.
Yan Yue settled down and insisted, “I’m going to find Xiao Xi.”
After he finished speaking, he stopped paying attention to Wu Jiang, lowered his head and rubbed Xiaohei on his wrist, asking as if no one else was there: “Xiaohei, how many helpers can you gather?”
Xiaohei waved his tail, seemingly in thought, and just as Wu Jiang felt puzzled, Xiaohei suddenly leapt from Yan Yue’s wrist to the ground and slithered into the grass. After a moment of silence, the whole grass suddenly boiled up like water. Only rustling sounds were heard around as countless snakes of different colours burst out of the grass, from the roots of trees and vines, and slithered in all directions.
“Snakes, why are there so many snakes!” A policeman’s voice rang out in panic.
Immediately after his initial disbelief, Wu Jiang shouted, “Don’t move, these snakes won’t attack, no one move.”
His authority in the team was unmatched, and after he finished speaking all the police officers present restrained the urge to do something and stayed quietly in their places. They watched as the snakes seemed to be completely oblivious to them, leaving the vicinity one by one, and in a matter of moments they were gone.
“Captain, what the hell is going on here?”
A policeman came over and asked Wu Jiang. Apart from Wu Jiang and Fang Lei, no one else had noticed Yan Yue’s behaviour.
Wu Jiang gave Yan Yue a strange look and said with a sullen face, “How should I know? Keep searching.”
The policeman who asked the question sighed and went back to continue with his search mission. They had now reached the vicinity of the monster flower and were looking for traces of previous activities of the drug dealers.
Xiaohei slowly nibbled at Yan Yue’s pants and crawled back onto his wrist, and Yan Yue stroked his head, waiting for the snakes to bring back news from their surroundings. When he was looking for the drug traffickers, Yan Yue wasn’t ready to expose Xiaohei; he didn’t know how capable Xiaohei was and whether he would be useful in finding people or not. But now that Lu Lingxi was in danger, Yan Yue couldn’t care less about Wu Jiang’s reaction, nor could he think about whether snakes had the ability to find people; he only wanted to use all the power he could to find Lu Lingxi.
It was already afternoon, and the rainforest was quite dim because of the tangle of vines. As the sun was about to set, it was getting even darker and more eerie. In order not to alert the enemy, none of the police officers turned on the flashlights and continued to search the area in silence.
As time passed, Yan Yue’s heart grew more and more anxious, worrying that if he found Lu Lingxi one minute later, Lu Lingxi would be in more danger. Suddenly Xiaohei, who had been quietly wrapped around his wrist raised his head and showed his tongue quickly. The next moment, Yan Yue looked over to the southeast and was about to say something when a faint gunshot echoed there.
“Southeast side, let’s go check it out.”
Wu Jiang shouted immediately, and Yan Yue was the first to run in the direction of the southeast part.
Deep in the rainforest, the man with the scarred face gave the young man beside him a sharp slap on the face. “Xiao Liu, if you want to die, don’t drag others with you. Is this a place where you can shoot?”
“Big Brother, sorry.” The young man covered his face and said in a muffled voice. The scar-faced man had used so much force that half of the young man’s face was swollen. He also knew that he shouldn’t have fired at the moment when the border police and anti-drug police outside were looking for them, but anyone who would find that there were so many snakes at his feet, all of them poisonous snakes from the rainforest, would probably react the way he did. He jumped to his feet and looked at the few snakes scattered on the ground with a puzzled expression, “What’s going on, Big Brother? Why are there suddenly so many snakes?”
The man with the scarred face grunted, “It’s not your first day here, you know that there are many snakes in the rainforest. Now that it’s dark, they should also come out for food. It’s normal for them to feel your smell and come looking for it.”
“But I applied snake repellent on me.” The young man was still puzzled.
The man with the scarred face interrupted him impatiently, “Come on, Lao San just contacted us and said he has two men with him, so let’s go and meet up with him as soon as possible. Let’s go.”
The group of four travelled in the dark towards the northwest. They were very familiar with this part of the rainforest and several potentially dangerous places had been avoided in advance. “Be careful.” The man with the scarred face warned, “There’s a snake not far ahead, it looks like it’s at least arm’s length, so avoid it.”
The three men following behind obeyed as the young man muttered in a low voice, “Why are there so many little snakes this way.”
Someone next to him sniggered, “A little snake is better than a large python.”
“Shut up.” Scarface suddenly whispered, “Something’s not right.”
Even before the words left his mouth, they knew what was going on. From behind a few large trees as thick as three or four people, heavily armed anti-drug police came out.
“Fuck, it’s the cops, run.”
There were gunshots and chaos all around.
Just as Yan Yue’s group ambushed the drug dealers and opened fire, Lu Lingxi was exploring the rainforest in the dark, walking an uneven road. Wang Chaoliang was following him, his nose swollen and his face bruised, his hands tied, and the end of the rope was in the hands of the man they had helped at the entrance to the village earlier. The man had a gun in his other hand and was pointing it in Lu Lingxi’s direction.
“Don’t be lazy, walk faster.” The man scolded.
Lu Lingxi pursed his lips and didn’t say anything, watching out for any poisonous snakes around him while walking as fast as he could. He knew that if he walked slower, it was Wang Chaoliang behind him who would take the beating. From the moment they were held hostage by the man and taken into the rainforest, he and Wang Chaoliang tried to resist. When they encountered a big python, they tried to use the opportunity to grab the man’s gun while he was distracted. Unfortunately, neither Lu Lingxi nor Wang Chaoliang was a fighter, and the man killed the python in a matter of seconds. Afterwards, the man beat up the two of them, but it was mainly Wang Chaoliang who took the beating. Lu Lingxi didn’t take many blows, he didn’t know why.
A short distance ahead was a large tree, as thick as several people, and Lu Lingxi tried to get around it. Snakes in the rainforest liked to climb up trees, and there was no telling when one would leap from the tree. He was about to take a few steps to his left when an unknown fruit hit him on the head. Subconsciously he looked up, and a rather familiar little monkey crouched on a branch and squeaked at him.