The Rebel: Chapter 1

Translated by qikiqtarjuaq
Posted on 2020-09-05

After being struck by a bullet, Lin Nansheng lost consciousness. He didn't know that he'd left Shanghai in a coffin. And he didn't know that after his Japanese cargo plane landed at Kai Tak Airport, an ambulance had carried him off with its sirens blaring. When he woke up and saw the doctor wearing a Japanese military cap standing by his hospital bed, he assumed that he'd been captured, so he closed his eyes again and swallowed back the questions he most wanted to ask.

Lin Nansheng spent the rest of the day on the operating table. Time and time again, he came out from under the effects of the anesthetics. Time and time again, he was put back under anesthesia. Afterward, the Japanese Military invited a British doctor for consultation. Having examined the X-rays, the British doctor gazed down at the Japanese doctor who was almost half a head shorter than him, and spoke English with an arrogant and confident tone.

"In this world, no one but God has the ability to extract this bullet."

After he finished speaking, the pale-faced, arrogant British doctor took off his surgical gown, and with his head raised high, walked out of the operating room. Still using English, he spoke to the guards stationed outside the door.

"You can send me back to the prison camp now."

It was only after Lin Nansheng completely regained his consciousness that he found out that the bullet which had lodged in his spine had also injured his central nervous system.

It would gradually make him lose all sense of feeling. If he were still alive by then, he would be paralyzed for the rest of his life.

After explaining this in stiff English, the Japanese military doctor named Suzuki Masao hung his head and stood upright in front of Lin Nansheng's hospital bed, as though in grief.

From beginning to end, Lin Nansheng didn't say a single word. Every day, he lay in bed as though he were mute. Even when his injury flared up with unbearable pain, he only gritted his teeth and silently observed the doctors and nurses coming in and out of his hospital room. However, he couldn't find the answers he sought on their faces. Each and every one of them was conscientious and professional, their care of him extremely meticulous. He could only bury all his doubts deep in his heart.

On this day, Zuo Qiuming entered the intensive care ward carrying a leather suitcase, a gentle smile on his face. He looked like a traveler who'd arrived from a faraway place. Lin Nansheng still didn't speak, watching as Zuo Qiuming took out the clothes from the suitcase and hung them one by one in the closet. Then, Zuo Qiuming put a few books on the bedside table, before pulling up a chair and sitting down. Lin Nansheng looked into his eyes and opened his mouth for the first time.

"What is this place?"

"Hong Kong." Zuo Qiuming immediately smiled and continued. "The Japanese Imperial Army Hospital."

Taken aback, Lin Nansheng fell silent, and turned to watch the dark blue skies outside the window.

Zuo Qiuming was one of Lin Nansheng's classmates during their specialized training class. After graduation, he went to Guangzhou, where he rose through the ranks from an ordinary intelligence analyst to become the foreign liaison officer for the Hong Kong area.

After letting out a brief sigh, he put his mouth close to Lin Nansheng's ear and said, "Remember, your name is Pang Jiajun now."

Then, he took out an envelope and stuffed it under Lin Nansheng's pillow. "Your father is Pang Ran, a full member of the Central Committee from Nanjing."

Lin Nansheng remained silent, not even opening his mouth when Zuo Qiuming stood up to leave. He only gazed calmly at Zuo Qiuming.

The envelope that Zuo Qiuming had stuffed under the pillow contained a green booklet of documents. There were two rows of gold letters on it: China Kuomintang Central Executive Committee, Special Affairs Division Operations Headquarters.

This was Wang Jingwei's intelligence organization. Lin Nansheng had once gone there when he'd been stationed in Shanghai. No. 76 Jessfield Road had two machine guns mounted on the bunker at the entrance. Everyone who wanted to enter was required to submit to a body search under gunpoint. At that time, he'd just been deployed to Shanghai from Chongqing, and his main assignment had been to gather intelligence and recruit defectors from the Wang Puppet Regime.

Posing as a reporter from Reuters, he went to interview Ding Momang and test the waters before headquarters made the decision on turning and recruiting this infamous traitor.

As they shook hands, Lin Nansheng smiled and said, "Mr. Ding, we all hope that something like the incident with Siberian fur shop won't happen again."

A year ago, Ding Momang had almost been assassinated by a CBIS agent on the street in front of a Siberian leather goods store. Yet at this moment, he acted as though nothing had ever happened. He calmly looked at Lin Nansheng, and asked indifferently, "Is your boss surnamed Chen?"

Still smiling, Lin Nansheng replied, "What does it matter if his surname is Chen or Dai?"

Ding Momang nodded and pulled his hand back. "Please give my regards to your boss, then."

Lin Nansheng had just experienced the most spine-chilling moment in his career. Coming out of the entrance of No. 76 Jessfield Road, he walked along the sidewalk all the way to Yuyuan Road before discovering that the shirt under his suit had long been soaked through with sweat.

That evening, in a suite in the East Asia Hotel, Gu Shenyan personally poured a glass of brandy for Lin Nansheng. With a smile, he said, "Go ahead and settle your nerves."

Gu Shenyan was Lin Nansheng's superior, as well as the dean during his specialized training class. He'd nurtured countless hot-blooded youth into operatives in service of country and party. However, he himself had always remained a gentleman. He enjoyed listening to the symphony, singing Beijing opera, and playing Go. Sometimes, he'd recite Baudelaire's poems in French while in his room.

After carefully listening to Lin Nansheng's every word, he put out his cigar in the ashtray. "Find another opportunity to go there again. Tell him that I want to meet him. The time and place is up to him."

Lin Nansheng gave it some thought. "The reason he didn't detain me today might be to hook a big fish like you."

"Then just let him fish," said Gu Shenyan. "Doing our line of work is to dance on the tip of a knife."

Not long after Wang Jingwei formed his regime in Nanjing, his military and political advisor suddenly came to Shanghai. After this advisor finished attending the meeting at the Japanese naval command in Shanghai, he would also attend an Appreciation Ball to raise funds for the Peacebuilding National Army.

This is their only chance. That day, Gu Shenyan took out a picture from his office desk. "We've been waiting for this day for two years already."

Lin Nansheng knew that this man was registered on the Japanese Army's roster as Uemura Jin, and that he also had a Chinese name called Tong Zizhong. In the assassin rankings of the NBIS, he was ranked 21st.

"This should be a field agent's job." Lin Nansheng immediately regretted saying this. Ever since the chief NBIS agent in Shanghai defected, the operations department had almost been paralyzed.

"He's going back to Nanjing tonight," said Gu Shenyan. "We don't have time to transfer a field agent over."

"The problem is that I've never killed anyone before."

"But you know how to kill." Gu Shenyan stood up and walked to the window. Gazing out at the streets, his words were slow and steady. "There are some things we must do."

Lin Nansheng only had half a day to prepare. At home, he filled his bathtub with hot water, then immersed himself in the bath for a full two hours. It was only when night approached that he got out, dried himself off, shaved his face, and put on a formal suit. He closed his curtains, turned on all the lights, and stood in the middle of the room, looking about for a bit. As he turned to pull open the door, he took out his keys and threw them onto the floor. Then, he gently closed the door, and ran down the stairs without looking back.

It wasn't until Lin Nansheng rushed to the Red House Restaurant that he discovered that the person he was meeting was Miss Lan. She was a famous social butterfly in Shanghai, her face often appearing on many calendar illustrations. However, tonight, she was Lin Nansheng's assistant, responsible for bringing him into the venue, providing him with a weapon, and covering his retreat. After she finished explaining the full details of the plan, she pointed at the steak on the table and said, "Go ahead and eat."

Lin Nansheng nodded obediently and picked up his knife and fork.

Halfway through eating, she spoke suddenly. "I like this restaurant's fried steak and mushroom soup the best."

Lin Nansheng paused, raising his head to gaze into her beautiful eyes. However, he no longer had the appetite to finish the steak on his plate.

The Appreciation Ball was being held on the eighth floor of the Cathay Hotel. This was a distinguished gathering of China's traitors and pro-Japanese sympathizers. The octagonal hall downstairs was filled with plainclothes agents inspecting invitation cards. They treated the guests in a refined and courteous manner while carefully searching every person who entered the elevator.

Tong Zizhong's arrival pushed the event to its climax. Amidst the sweeping applause, he began to give a speech. Miss Lan turned and entered the ladies' dressing room. When she came out, she stuffed a handgun against Lin Nansheng's lower back, and left her hand there. Then, like a docile sweetheart, she rested her head on his shoulder.

When the applause sounded again, the lights on the ceiling gradually began to dim as music surged forth like a tide. Miss Lan took out a handkerchief, gently wiped away the trace of sweat from Lin Nansheng's temples, and whispered next to his ear, "Come on."

After that, she pulled Lin Nansheng onto the dance floor. The two of them didn't speak anymore.

According to the plan, Lin Nansheng was supposed to pull out the gun and shoot when they brushed past Tong Zizhong. Then, he would run up to the eleventh floor, spend the night in one of the rooms, and leave the hotel the next day. However, before he could get close to Tong Zizhong, a gunshot sounded on the dance floor.

A man pushed away his dance partner, shot down Tong Zhizhong, and while the woman was screaming, shot two more times at Tong Zizhong's body. After that, he ran towards the employees-only passage. However, Tong Zizhong's bodyguards had charged onto the dance floor, and their bullets overtook him in an instant. The man collapsed at the edge of the dance floor.

Lin Nansheng hurriedly threw away his gun and pulled Miss Lan behind him, mixing into the crowd. However, they didn't follow the crowd downstairs, but went up to the eleventh floor instead. He clutched Miss Lan's hand tightly, all the way until they entered the designated hotel room.

Miss Lan slowly extracted her hand, grabbed a bathrobe and went into the bathroom. When she came out, there was no longer any trace of panic in her expression.

"If it weren't for that person, the one who died would definitely have been me," said Lin Nansheng.

"It wouldn't have been you." Miss Lan shook her head, climbed onto the bed, and bundled herself tight under the covers.

To ensure that Lin Nansheng escaped safely, even at the cost of her own life, was the final requirement of her assignment tonight.

Lin Nansheng watched as her eyes slowly dimmed. This evening, the commotion in Cathay Hotel lasted the whole night. Huddled together under the covers, neither of them slept a wink. Like all people who had experienced a life and death situation, they grew closer. After they turned off the lights, Miss Lan told him under the cover of darkness that she had a son who was not yet four years old, and that her husband died in the battle of Xiaguan, Nanjing.

The next day, when Lin Nansheng went to his debrief, he saw many newspapers on Gu Shenyan's desk. After Gu Shenyan listened to Lin Nansheng's careful report, he rubbed his temples and said, "This should be the CCP."

"Why couldn't it be the CBIS?" asked Lin Nansheng.

Gu Shenyan thought for a little while, picked up a newspaper, and carefully examined the picture printed on it. "This isn't the CBIS' way of doing things."

Recap

This chapter introduces all the major factions at play throughout the novel, which takes place between 1940 and 1950. It can be a bit overwhelming, so here's my best attempt at summarizing it. Please correct me if I've made any mistakes!

The KMT (Kuomintang) & The CCP (Chinese Communist Party)

The two major political parties vying for control of China during the events of the novel. The KMT was led by Chiang Kai-shek, while the CCP was led by Mae Zedong. Their conflicts during that time was known as the Chinese Civil War.

In the original text of this novel, it refers to the CCP as Zhonggong (中共), which is a short form of its full name, 产党.

The CBIS (Central Bureau of Investigation and Statistics)

This intelligence unit is one of the two agencies under the Kuomintang (KMT)'s command, led by Chen Lifu and the CC clique. In the original text of the novel, it's referred to as the Zhongtong (中统), which is the short form of its Chinese name, 中國國民黨央執行委員會調查計局.

The NBIS (National Bureau of Investigation and Statistics)

This is the other agency under the Kuomintang(KMT)'s command, led by Dai Li. In the original text of the novel, it's referred to as the Juntong (军统), which is the short form of its Chinese name, 國民政府事委員會調查計局.

Wang Jingwei's Regime

Wang Jingwei is a former member of the Kuomintang and rival of Chiang Kai-shek. He defected to Japan, and formed the Collaborationist Chinese Army, eventually heading a puppet state for Japan in eastern China. The intelligence agency he formed with its headquarters at 76 Jessfield Road should not be confused with either the NBIS or the CBIS despite having KMT in its name.

Translator's Note: I felt that between Zhonggong, Zhongtong, and Juntong, it might be a little difficult for non-Chinese speakers to track, so I've decided to use English abbreviations in this translation. I don't know if I made it harder or easier with this choice.

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walkingslug

Thank you for your amazing translation!

I think you have made it enough for non-chinese like me to understand, and I also prefer the english abbreviation for each faction since it's more familiar that way.

Explanation is indeed a bit overwhelming but give me a slight understanding about the historical setting more :D

Ane

Okay wow, the recap helped a LOT haha, I was rereading the chapter again and again to understand who belonged to which organisation, but the succinct recap made it so easy!

Thank you for the brilliant translation, I'm very intrigued now and will mostly binge the rest as well :D and yes, the same English short-forms make it much more easier to differentiate between all the parties.

classicorner

What a superb translation and the explanation at the end is very much needed! Thank you!