Introduction 5: Gunshots in Front of the Mining Company Part II

[Wu Xie]

[I’m still here, you just don’t recognize me]

I called a number in my phone and said to the other party, “Although I don’t want to, I may have to temporarily restore my identity.”

“Whatever you say. You’re the boss.” The person on the other end of the line was Wang Meng.

“Who’s available in the shop? Anyone strong and smart?” I needed a reliable helper. 

“I’ll arrange it. Boss, which name are you using when you come back?” Wang Meng asked.

“My own name. This case has nothing to do with our profession.”

“Yes, boss. Welcome back.”

Let me reintroduce myself. My real name is Wu Xie.

In terms of my real occupation, I don’t like to talk about it often. All I can say is that there was a time when I did some illegal things. I stole some stuff—some ancient stuff—from some ancient places.

It was only a few years ago that I started to gradually get into photography, and I used the photographer identity as a cover. The idea was that I could use this identity to gain access to government-controlled places to obtain information.

But later, by some strange coincidence, my identity began to be known in the field. I had participated in photographing some adventure projects, so maybe it was my unique understanding of these projects which was different from ordinary people that made me famous. I gradually fell in love with this identity, and when there was no need for my original occupation, I lived under the name of Guan Gen. I felt like an ordinary person, but I still needed to recover some of the qualities that were unique to my original profession when I had to do something special.

I was currently at the headquarter of The Beijing United Mining Group, located in a remote corner of Miyun District. 

I didn’t see a guard, only an iron gate which was closed and covered in rust. To the left was a small door that was just as old. 

The lock on the small door was brass and there was a layer of patina on it, but it wasn’t as thick as the rust layer on the iron gate. I judged that this door was still frequently in use.

This place should be just like any old abandoned factory, with no workers or business being conducted. There were only a few managers awaiting retirement who were left here in this ramshackle old factory to deal with matters pertaining to the former retired workers.

The factory was huge and must’ve been a busy place before, but now it was just a huge corpse that had decayed to the bones.

There was no way for a factory like this to have customers, and even if I could attract someone’s attention inside the factory, they wouldn’t open the door for me. But there were still advantages: no one would care about me if I made it in there. So, I decided to figure it out myself.

The walls were the type unique to Beijing-style courtyards, with high walls. Mining enterprises tended to construct walls in this style, but luckily, I saw a big tree next to one of the walls here.

Beside me was the guy I had brought with me. If I were to say it in an offensive way, he was my subordinate. But if I were to say it in a respectful way, then he was my employee. 

His name was Huang Yan. To be honest, I wasn’t familiar with him. I had clearly been living as Guan Gen for too long.

Huang Yan was strong and looked steady, and judging by the lines of his muscles, he had top-level talent. But I noticed the way he looked around, which meant that he was in the habit of planning things out before he took action. He was definitely a meticulous person.

As for Lan Ting’s original intent to follow Li Zhongyuan, there were several possibilities:

Li Zhongyuan had experienced something before that prevented his image from appearing in photographs. He acknowledged and accepted this reality, however, Lan Ting found out about it. Lan Ting wanted to know what happened to Li Zhongyuan, so she started following him. 

I determined this to be unlikely, because if this matter had already passed, then Li Zhongyuan wouldn’t have anything to hide and Lan Ting could ask him directly. Unless he just didn’t want to talk about it himself. Things that a veteran worker like Li Zhongyuan didn’t want to talk about should be related to the secrecy of the project itself, but such past secrets were useless to track now.

So, it was very likely that Li Zhongyuan was still working on the Gutong Jing project. If this was the case, then there had to be some clues in his office and in the factory.

Huang Yan was still very alert. “Don’t be so nervous,” I comforted him. “There won’t be any unexpected situations here.”

“Shall we look for a back door?” My words seemed to have no effect on him.

“Don’t be so cautious. Just climb the tree and open the door,” I ordered him.

“Yes, Boss.” Huang Yan quickly climbed up the tree and opened the iron gate.

Just as I had expected, there was a huge yard with lush greenery inside. But no one had mowed it for a long time, so the yard was overgrown with weeds. Through the weeds, I could see people walking in a humble, two-story building. This appeared to be their last office space.

I sometimes admired the managers of dilapidated factories, because even if there weren’t any workers in the factory, they would still commute to and from work on time, just like guards keeping an eye on a mausoleum.

According to Lan Ting’s notes, the people here started working around 8:30 or 9:00 every morning. Li Zhongyuan should set out around this time to transport the goods to Xiangshan.

His branch was the only part of the factory still operating, so it made sense that Lan Ting focused on his past. 

If I were Guan Gen, I wouldn’t ask him directly about it because I would be subjected to a lot of social constraints. But now that I was Wu Xie, I could use the easiest method to get the information I wanted. 

My plan was simple. After Li Zhongyuan left, there would only be one assistant left in his office. I would meet Li Zhongyuan when he was on his way to pick up the car from the local warehouse and sound him out using my usual bluffing method. This should work out if his schedule stayed the same as usual.  

Huang Yan, on the other hand, would go straight into Li Zhongyuan’s office, knock out his assistant, and go through all the files.

We waited until 8:33 a.m., at which time Li Zhongyuan appeared. He was an ordinary middle-aged man without what modern people would call an “aura”. To put it another way, he was tense like an animal on high alert, but because he was in such a state for so long that it had become habit, he now just looked dim and depressed. He seemed to be explaining things to others in the office before he left in a hurry.

“Just go up and ask him directly. If he doesn’t answer, I have a way to make him talk.” Huang Yan rolled up his sleeves.

I stopped him, “I just recovered my identity and don’t want to do too many drastic things that would cause a ripple in the industry. Stick to my plan. We’ll meet at the shop this evening.”

“All right.”

“You know exactly what I’m looking for, right? Don’t miss any files or documents,” I emphasized.

“Don’t worry.”

Li Zhongyuan came straight to the warehouse door. At this time, the driver near him was already preparing for departure. I found that although the driver’s truck was old, it was scrupulously maintained. The driver stood straight and didn’t act like an ordinary driver would, so he was probably a military driver.

There were weeds all around, so I found a place to squat down and watched as they began moving the goods.

All of the goods were in a kind of sealed container, which I had never seen before. Or maybe I just wasn’t knowledgeable enough to know what they were. I was really far away from them, so I couldn’t really tell. 

I took a few photos with my camera and put it back in my backpack before standing up and walking over to them.

“Stop, stay where you are! Who are you?!” The driver immediately became alarmed when he saw me. 

“I’m lost. Can you tell me where to get out?”

The driver was impatient, “Over there. How did you get in here?”

“I’m a realtor. I noticed that this lot is always empty, so I climbed in to take a look.”

“This land is not for sale. Hurry up and leave.” The driver waved his hand.

While the argument was going on, I took this chance to approach their car.

I saw that the containers looked like buckets or some kind of oval-shaped things, but they were covered in rivets. Then I saw the biochemical warning signs on them. 

“What are these things? Aren’t these toxic substances? How can you store these things so close to a residential area?” I probed.

“It’s none of your business.” The driver’s face began to contort.

“I’m a member of society, why can’t I care?” In my opinion, playing dumb was a type of skill—a shameless skill.

The driver’s expression changed again and became very gloomy. He looked at Li Zhongyuan.

Li Zhongyuan looked at me calmly, waved to the driver, and then asked me, “Who the hell are you?”

“I made that very clear just a minute ago, but now I’m an environmentalist. I’m going to find out exactly what you’re doing,” I continued to probe for information.

Li Zhongyuan’s expression changed, “You’ve been following me ever since I left the office. There’s no way you’re a realtor.”

I was a little surprised that Li Zhongyuan had discovered me that long ago; it seemed that there was more to him than I had initially thought. He point out my whereabouts so frankly that it was useless for me to disguise myself, so I laid all my cards on the table and said, “I’m here to see you.”

“I don’t know you.” He was still staring at me.

He obviously hadn’t completely lowered his guard. Should I use my usual method? For some reason, I looked at the driver’s eyes and felt a sense of foreboding, so I tried changing the subject. “Actually, I know what you did in the desert.”

There was a brief silence, and as I tried to advance the topic, I saw the driver suddenly pull out a submachine gun.

It was a domestic 05 submachine gun. At this distance, it would cripple me instantly but I wouldn’t immediately die. Instead, I would bleed out for seven hours before eventually succumbing to death. This conversation was clearly over; I needed to leave at once.

—Tak tak tak tak tak tak

The gunshots sounded like stuttered hooting in my ears as I rolled into the weeds next to me. When I got up, I ran to the door in a zigzag pattern.

—Tak tak tak tak tak tak

Bullets whizzed behind me, but I knew how to dodge them. It was impossible for anyone without professional training to hit me when I was using this zigzag pattern to escape. But with the speed at which the bullets were approaching me, I knew that the shooter was rapidly adjusting the trajectory.

—Tak tak tak tak tak tak

I didn’t expect them to be so sensitive to this issue that they would even dare open fire in broad daylight. This showed that the secrets they were keeping had an unfathomable background.

—Tak tak tak tak tak tak

I jumped into the weeds again as the trajectory got closer to me. When I jumped out again, I was far enough away from them. I looked back and saw them rushing towards me.

I couldn’t stay here anymore, so I quickly ran to the door and escaped from the factory. When I arrived in a busy neighborhood, I started breaking out in a cold sweat. The extreme exercise and adrenaline rush left me feeling exhausted after they wore off. I didn’t remember how I got out and I didn’t have time to head back to my car, so I fled the busy area and ran into the market. I remember that when I rushed into the market, they were still behind me. Their guns were hidden, but they didn’t give up on trying to catch me.

I took some time to check my condition and found that even though I had used all of my skills to avoid the bullets, I still had multiple bruises. When I calmed down, I realized the seriousness of the situation. This wasn’t an ordinary incident and there was no possibility of it being a scam, which meant that there must be a huge secret going on.

But when I returned to my shop, I was greeted with a situation that I had never imagined before.

In the corner of the back room was Li Zhongyuan’s assistant, who was tied to a chair. The bloodstains on his body and on the floor indicated that he had been tortured for a very long time. His head was hanging down so I couldn’t see if he was breathing, but he had obviously completely lost consciousness.

“What’s all this? What are you doing?!” I could hardly control my emotions.

“There weren’t any clues in the office paperwork. They had very little documentation saved, but this guy’s eyes told me that he knew things, so I brought him back,” Huang Yan explained.

“What did I tell you?! Don’t do things like this!” I felt myself yelling.

Huang Yan disagreed, “Don’t worry, I did it very cleanly.”

“What’s the matter with him? Is he dead?” I demanded.

Huang Yan said a little unwillingly, “This guy’s mouth is a lot tighter than I thought. He just passed out. Don’t worry, he’ll spill everything in a few hours.”

“Nonsense! Get him medical attention quickly!” I scolded.

“Boss, it’s too late to fix everything now that it’s already been done, right? Might as well get on with it. You’re not one of those people who can’t make decisions, are you?” Huang Yan continued to argue with me.

Thoroughly exasperated, I said to him, “What a charming approach! What are you, a gangster?”


I sighed. “Let me teach you a lesson. In the real world, real fear happens quietly.”

I looked at Huang Yan coldly. I didn’t know him, but it didn’t matter anymore. I put away my usual relaxed personality and switched to a face that even I was afraid of. He finally realized that I was genuinely irritated and instantly showed a fearful expression.

“I’m glad that I saw you for the first time today, so we didn’t establish any connections. I never regret anything I do.” The people around me knew what I wanted to do and came forward to seize Huang Yan. My skin turned cold as I touched the torture instruments.

“… The greatest project in history…” At this time, the dying assistant suddenly said something strange. He still didn’t regain consciousness, so the words must’ve been uttered by accident:

“… Gutong Jing… The greatest project in history…”

“… It worked…” Huang Yan was overjoyed.

“It failed… failed… It’s a secret…”

Then, Li Zhongyuan’s assistant died.

Never in my life had I caused someone’s death in a situation like this. In my original occupation, death was a common occurrence. Although Li Zhongyuan wanted to kill me today, the death of this man in front of me still made me feel a strong sense of guilt. I once swore silently that I didn’t want anyone around me to die because of me.

After that, I imprisoned Huang Yan. He was clearly unfit to continue working for me, but how I should punish him was still a difficult problem I needed to figure out.

The greatest project…

In China’s history, there were many great projects which the ancients claimed were the greatest. But I knew that the Gutong Jing Project was a modern project which began in the 1980s. What would the greatest project of modern times be about? What did these men have to do with this project? They were transporting those weird containers and took this project very seriously, but why were they staying in such a dilapidated factory?

What did this project have to do with not being able to appear in photos?

I had to get to the root of the matter. 

<Introduction 5 Part I><Table of Contents><>


Translated by: Yvette
Edited by: merebear226

4 thoughts on “Introduction 5: Gunshots in Front of the Mining Company Part II

  1. I never thought this was an actual story. I always thought the first few chapters were just a lead in to Sand Sea. Written about some random people who had small connections to Gu Tong Jin. So this is really cool that we’re getting a full fledged Wu Xie story while he’s in gangster mode. Thank you for the chapter!


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