Author: 长洱 / Chang’er
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
How long had it been since something this big happened on this highway?
Liu Xing didn’t remember anymore. As a senior employee of Hongjing Highway Company, he came to work here as soon as he graduated. He had seen too many traffic jams and a series of accidents, from crashes to rollovers.
But a time bomb?
That was truly a novelty.
However, five minutes ago, in the parking lot of the Hongjing Highway Langchuan Rest Stop, they found a time bomb tied to a bus driver.
The numbers on the bomb were still flashing and jumping, indicating that time was passing by minute by minute. The entire staff in the hall was terrified, as if the debris from the explosion of the bomb hundreds of kilometers away would also hurt them.
Liu Xing stood in front of the monitor desk and didn’t move, not because he didn’t want to leave this terrifying place, but because someone was looking at him with extreme calmness that prevented him from moving.
“Liu Xing, right? How many years have you been working here?”
“Then you should be familiar with the highway evacuation plan, right?”
Liu Xing saw the captain of the police criminal division hold down his mic and spoke to him.
He didn’t know why the person he had looked down on before suddenly became a different person. The policeman’s eyes were deep and beautiful, but what made him unable to move was that he saw trust in those eyes, which made him nod involuntarily.
“Arrange for the staff to evacuate the rest station in an orderly manner, and do not divulge the news of the time bomb to prevent panic.”
After Xing Conglian finished speaking, he released the mic and continued to speak at the other end of the phone. “Hello, sir. I am the Captain of the Hongjing Police Criminal Division. My name is Xing Conglian. Can you tell me how many people are on the bus right now?”
“Just one!” The security guard was anxious. “When can we leave? The bomb will explode in twenty-nine minutes! When will the police come?!”
Everyone in the know was taken aback when they heard this. The bus had twenty-six children and two chaperoned teachers. Where did those people go?!
Xing Conglian pressed Lin Chen’s hand and continued, “Now, please take out your phone and take two photos for me.” He paused and looked at the security guard on the screen, then said, “In the first picture, please aim it at the time bomb on the driver. The clearer you can capture the bomb, the better. In the second photo, please capture the bus and take several pictures of the environment around the bus.”
Soon, a response came from the other end. “It’s done. A lot of pictures have been taken!”
“Do you have WeChat? Please send it to me on WeChat.” Xing Conglian gave Wang Chao a wink. The technician quickly opened the WeChat interface on the laptop, ready to receive the photos.
“No, no. Don’t open the door.” On the other end of the line, he didn’t know who suggested the proposal, but Xing Conglian increased his volume to stop them.
Wang Chao was anxiously waiting for the photos on his laptop screen. Seeing that Xing Conglian was still talking on the phone, Lin Chen mumbled to himself in a low voice, “Twenty-nine minutes? Could it be there was a fuse on the time bomb that led from the door of the bus, and it was activated when the door was open?”
“I’m afraid that’s the case. Jiang Zhe was right about one thing. He wants to attract attention, but why not just blow up the bus in a parking lot and instead use a time bomb?” Lin Chen looked at the captain of the police criminal division, who had requisitioned two phones and was still on call non-stop, and continued, “He must ensure that when we find this bus, it won’t explode. Then installing a fuse on the lock was the easiest and most direct way. Once someone opens the door, the timer starts.”
“What about the children? Where have the children gone?”
“There are twenty-six children. He wouldn’t be stupid enough to hide them at the rest stop. It’s too conspicuous. Then the biggest possibility is that they got off the bus between Meicun and Langchuan.” Lin Chen leaned over slightly and said to Wang Chao, “Can you adjust the highway surveillance to check the trajectory of this bus?”
“A’Chen, I have to teach some science. Most surveillance cameras on highways are used to calculate the traffic flow and photograph illegal vehicles. Unless that bus happens to be photographed for illegal parking, the system will extract and filter out its license plate information. It’s going to take too much time and manpower to track it, and what we lack right now is both of that…”
“I’m asking you, can you or can’t you?” Lin Chen looked at Wang Chao, patted him on the head, and spoke very gently.
Wang Chao jolted and hurriedly said, “In theory, we can still use the OCR technology, which is the technology that scans paper documents and then recognizes them as text, to identify all the surveillance photos taken from Meicun to the Langchuan, within these four hours, and then retrieve the license plate of the bus, but…”
Lin Chen looked into Wang Chao’s eyes as if waiting for him to continue.
Wang Chao could only bite the bullet and say, “But, the module for filtering highway surveillance photos isn’t embedded with OCR technology…”
“So… I will need to upgrade the system slightly…” Wang Chao gulped and looked at his captain and the chairman.
“Are you kidding me?! In case something happens to this system, can you afford to replace it?!”
“He doesn’t need to bear it. I will.” Xing Conglian pressed the chairman’s shoulder and said to Wang Chao, “Get started.”
The technician seemed to have been given a booster shot. He took two deep breaths and then said, “Alright, I just killed two Trojan horses for this system, so there won’t be any major problems. You can look at the photos on the computer at table 2. Finally, the girl who is playing poker at table 35, can we please use your phone number.”
After he finished speaking, the entire surveillance hall was so quiet that only the sound of electric current and heating remained.
Finally, Lin Chen sighed and asked Xing Conglian, “Where did you find this guy?”
“He owes me some money.”
“Must be a lot.”
At the same time, the pictures quickly came through. They walked to table 2 and looked at the photos.
In the photo, only the driver was tied to the cab. Other than that, the bus was empty inside. The twenty-six children and two teachers who were supposed to be sitting in their seats had disappeared out of thin air.
In the next photo, it could be clearly seen that the driver tied to the cab had struggled desperately. There was a simple time bomb tied to him.
The bomb had a simple structure. Above the detonator, lines of wires were exposed and intertwined, as if they were the terrifying blood vessels of a patient.
More importantly, there were only 27 minutes left on the countdown on the time bomb.
“You have to send a bomb disposal expert quickly!” Xing Conglian heard someone shout at him, but he ignored it and leaned down to look at the screen, constantly adjusting the photo position and angle.
“The bus is parked next to a gas station. In case the bomb goes off, the consequences will be unimaginable!”
“Captain Xing, you must think of a way.” Yang Dianfeng, who had been standing near Xing Conglian, finally spoke.
“It’s an isolated area.” Lin Chen looked at the man silently while he spoke slowly. “All the bomb disposal experts are in the city. Even if the lanes are cleared, it will take them at least an hour to make it to that rest stop.”
“Then what to do?!” Yang Dianfeng added, “Find someone to disarm the bomb at the scene? I have watched some movies. Can’t you tell them which wire to cut?”
“Real bomb disposal is very complicated.” Lin Chen looked at the time bomb on the screen. “It’s no different from suicide if you haven’t received professional training.”
“Then what do we do?!” The technician, who had his hands flying around as he wrote code, couldn’t help but interject.
“Continue to take chances.” Xing Conglian suddenly turned his head and said to Wang Chao, “Check if the rest station staff, the nearby traffic police, or any of the security guards have been in the army!”
Hearing what he said, Lin Chen suddenly looked at Xing Conglian and said, “How sure are you?”
“The time bomb’s structure isn’t very complicated. We just need to dismantle the ignition device between the detonator and the fuse. Therefore, I need someone with very stable hands who can handle the pressure of disarming a bomb.”
Lin Chen was silent for a moment. He raised his head and stared at the huge LED screen in front of him again. The left half of the screen had been switched to live surveillance by Wang Chao. The sea of people was vast. Where could he find such a person?
“You need a person with very good psychological quality, which means he has a strong resistance to stress, can abide by traffic rules even in chaos, keep vehicles moving in a straight line, and will even give way for traffic jams…” Lin Chen’s gaze quickly swept back and forth.
“Captain, our luck doesn’t seem to be very good. Among all the staff, there doesn’t seem to be any veterans… The security guards are all temporary workers, and I can’t transfer the information… The traffic police system isn’t connected to us. Should I hack it?”
“No need.” Lin Chen suddenly spoke. On the big screen, a white police car was driving into the rest stop against the flow of traffic. After that car, there were more than a dozen news cars of all shapes and sizes.
The white police car was as efficient as ever. It quickly drove into the parking space, and a young man in a police uniform opened the door and walked out.
Looking at the person on the screen, Lin Chen said lightly, “Huang Ze was a Special Ops. I’m pretty sure he has received professional bomb disposal training.”