Jiang Zhe's utterly humiliated roar rang out from the phone and was casually ignored by Lin Chen who was handing it back to Xing Cong Lian.
On the screen, Huang Ze was putting on the bluetooth earpiece before he picked up a high-definition camera and approached the bus.
"All of you, step back."
Huang Ze's voice came out from the phone. He drove away the reporters behind him.
Xing Cong Lian held the receiver closer. "Inspector Huang, please be careful when you open the door. It's very likely that the suspect connected the trigger for the timed explosive to the door, so…"
"So, this means there's a chance that the bomb might go off the moment I open the door?"
Before Xing Cong Lian could finish, Huang Ze already opened it without hesitation, camera in hand.
Everyone's heart was pounding.
The door opened and the camera faithfully broadcasted the image it captured. A thin wire connected the time bomb to the door, and was hanging loose.
The bus driver opened his mouth and frantically began to struggle in the face of this police officer's sudden appearance.
Huang Ze placed the camera on the front seat, adjusted it, and then asked, "How's the picture?"
The lens was aimed at the driver's chest, the threadlike wires of the time bomb and the detonator fastened precariously over the driver's heart.
The timer was remodelled from the simplest electronic clock display. The bright red numbers flashed non-stop, highlighting the 19 minutes and 58 seconds they had left.
Xing Cong Lian thought for a moment, covered the receiver and turned to a nearby staff. "There must be a car workshop in the rest station. Find all types of pipe wrenches and milling tools, wash them clean with water and send it to the bus within 10 minutes."
Hearing this, Lin Chen pulled Xing Cong Lian aside. "Didn't you say that this bomb isn't complicated? That we only needed to dismantle the initiator?"
"That's a type 101 rear-mounted detonator that explodes on contact. Removing the initiator will be like snipping the live wire; it's not completely safe. If Huang Ze is professionally trained, then the safer method is to uninstall the safety s.p.a.cer and box containing the main charge."
On the screen, Huang Ze crouched down and patted the back of the driver's hand. Then, he leaned close to the bomb and looked at it for a while. All of a sudden, he turned to stare at the camera lens and asked, "Captain Xing, what do you think?"
"Life or luck, fight with all you have, or fight with everything you have." Huang Ze laughed. His hair was already drenched with sweat, yet he was still laughing. "It seems like I've always looked down on you too much, Captain Xing. Which corps were you from?"
Xing Cong Lian's expression was grave, though he shared a sense of camaraderie with Huang Ze through that secret signal. "I would like to ask, Inspector Huang, how quickly can you remove a detonator?"
"Faster than you, Captain Xing, that's for sure." Looking at the number flashing on the driver's heaving chest, Huang Ze said, "I need a pipe wrench No. 3 and a set of milling tools. If they're not available, then an art knife and screwdriver will do."
"It's being prepared."
Huang Ze hummed in reply. Then, both fell into awkward silence.
Lin Chen, who had been staring at the screen this whole time, suddenly spoke up. "Huang Ze, pa.s.s the bluetooth earpiece to the driver."
"What do you want to do?" Huang Ze's head snapped around to stare fixedly at the camera.
"Make him confess." While Lin Chen continued to observe the screen, Huang Ze's angry gaze turned to the driver. His tone was very calm and monotonous, as if he didn't care about the life and death situation that was about to occur.
Huang Ze lowered his voice. "The man is scared to death, yet you actually want to squeeze a confession out of him right now?"
"He holds the clues to the missing 26 children and 2 teachers." Perhaps because the screen was too bright, Lin Chen squinted a little. "If we wait, it might be too late."
After Lin Chen finished, even Xing Cong Lian stared at him with an abstruse gaze, as if trying to convey with his eyes how inappropriate those words were for this moment.
Huang Ze rushed off the bus, continuing to keep his voice low. It seemed he didn't want the driver to overhear their conversation. "That means that if I fail and both of us get killed, it'll be too late for you to ask anything, right?" He took a deep breath and said, "Lin Chen, you're really cold-blooded."
In the monitoring hall, Huang Ze's accusations were heard by everyone loud and clear.
But Lin Chen seemed to not sense the questioning eyes. His lips moved slightly and he only uttered a single syllable, "Yes."
Huang Ze sneered and yanked his earpiece out angrily. He stomped back to the bus and tapped the driver on the shoulder. He lowered his head to offer him some comforting words, then hung the device on the driver's ear.
The driver seemed to be immersed in extreme panic. Once he understood what was going on, he shook his head in desperation.
"Mister, I hope you can calm down and answer a few questions for me." Hearing the stuttering gasps from the speaker, Lin Chen took the phone from Xing Cong Lian and spoke.
Hearing this, the driver reflexively turned to the camera. His mouth opened, while his body tensed and started twitching. It didn't look as though he could string together a coherent sentence.
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"The police officer in front of you is risking his life to save you. But right now, we have no clue on the whereabouts of the missing 28 pa.s.sengers. If you can't calm down, I'll have to ask the staff to inject you with chlorpromazine, commonly known as a tranquilizer that will help you calm down. You can answer my questions then."
"I don't remember, I don't have the time to remember that! Mr. Police, why are you not doing anything yet? Time's almost up!" The driver looked down to his chest, where the timer showed less than 14 minutes left.
When Huang Ze heard this, he rushed to retrieve the earpiece.
"I have one last question. Can you repeat the way he took control of the bus?"
Lin Chen repeated a question he had already asked. The low murmurs of the conversation in the hall turned into an uproar.
"I've already answered that question. Didn't I make it clear just now?! Why do you have to ask this again?!" The driver suddenly raised his voice, now angry and irritated. He started struggling and the situation inside the bus turned uncontrollable.
"Lin Chen, what the h.e.l.l are you doing?!" Huang Ze yanked back the earpiece and shouted into the receiver.
"Huang Ze, place the earpiece back to your ear and answer a few of my questions."
On the screen, Huang Ze did as he was told. Lin Chen asked again, "Can you really dismantle the bomb in 13 minutes?"
"Do you want to hear the truth?"
"How confident are you that while you're dismantling the bomb with those tools, you wouldn't accidentally trigger the bomb's detonator because of inadvertent sparks or a slight tremble?"
"If I have plenty of time, the success rate is about 75 to 80%."
"That is to say, now that you don't have enough time, your success rate is greatly reduced. And it's also possible that you might accidentally detonate the bomb in the process of dismantling it."
"You're really direct, aren't you?"
"Huang Ze, do you trust me?" Asking an irrelevant question out of the blue, Lin Chen's face was serene and pleasant.
He asked Xing Cong Lian the same question a few months ago. Now that the target of the question changed, and because it was Huang Ze, Lin Chen couldn't guarantee that he would get the answer he antic.i.p.ated.
"Why would I? How can I, after you killed Wei?" Huang Ze was facing the camera. With sweat running down his face, the black-haired young man enunciated every word for Lin Chen.
Xing Cong Lian could clearly see that when Huang Ze mentioned the girl's name, a peculiar trace of emotion flashed past Lin Chen's calm face. It wasn't regret or nostalgia, but pain. It was as if a nail was piercing into his marrow, or a hammer pounded into his back. Even the most restrained and reserved person wouldn't be able to control his emotions for a moment because of a single name. As such, many people refer to this emotion as pain equal to that of .
However, Lin Chen was still Lin Chen, after all. The pained expression was gone in a second. His voice was still as clear and gentle as before, unwavering. "Do you see the red live wire that fixes the driver to the seat? When the tools are delivered to you, please cut it directly."
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