The Rebel: Chapter 5

Translated by qikiqtarjuaq
Posted on 2020-09-07

The Japanese set up barbed wire barricades in many of the downtown city streets and marked out a control zone. During the day, they interrogated every pedestrian they found suspicious. At night, they enforced a strict curfew. Unexpectedly, this caused the gathering area for Japanese expats to become unusually bustling. Once night arrived, patrons swarmed the restaurants, performance halls, brothels, and gambling dens. Every person acted as though there would be no tomorrow after today, filling the area with the clamor of those seizing the day.

Lin Nansheng, on the other hand, appeared especially at peace. Every day, as long as Zhu Yizhen didn't have any assignments, they would stay in their small attic room for the entire day. One person embroidered while the other person read books, but more often, they spent their time in bed.

However, those days soon ended with Gu Shenyan's return to Shanghai. Inside an Italian-owned brothel, he met with Lin Nansheng. The moment they saw each other, Gu Shenyan pointed to the mirrors on all four walls of the room and casually asked if he'd ever seen something like this before.

Lin Nansheng shook his head.

"A person who doesn't indulge in passion has wasted their youth," said Gu Shenyan with a smile. "I once went to a Parisian brothel when I was studying abroad in France, even falling in love with a young blonde woman. That was truly a place where the colors were vivid enough to bring out the memory of a fragrance."

As Gu Shenyan spoke, his eyes shimmered with a never-before-seen light, seemingly recalling his lost youth. After he sat down on the sofa, he stared for a long time at the golden liquid in his wineglass before sighing with emotion.

"Love is like a glass of wine. It can intoxicate you and give you courage, making you forget about everything else." Gu Shenyan's gaze passed over the wineglass and slowly shifted towards Lin Nansheng's face. "But you should also know: even the most beautiful wine can only give you a moment's pleasure."

Lin Nansheng's heart thumped, and he lowered his head. "Yes."

After Gu Shenyan downed all the wine in one gulp, he began to issue the next assignment. The new agents that he'd recruited were all hurrying towards Shanghai at the moment. His request was for Lin Nansheng to immediately devise a completely new method of communication, in order to prevent any captured intelligence officers from implicating the entire organization.

"We must learn from our failures," said Gu Shenyan. "I suggest that you consult the structure of the CCP's organizations as a reference."

Lin Nansheng was taken aback. "Why are we taking them as a reference?"

"The CPP's intelligence network may not be the most scientific, but practice has proved that under the current circumstances, it's definitely the most effective."

"All right."

With a wave of his hand, Gu Shenyan motioned for Lin Nansheng to sit down. After filling up his glass of wine again, he began to talk about the new intelligence network he wanted to set up in Shanghai.

Lin Nansheng hurriedly interrupted him. "Sir, you shouldn't give this information to a subordinate."

"Then, do you know why I'm telling you this?" Gu Shenyan gave a slight smile. "Trust is sometimes such a strange thing."

He turned to look at Lin Nansheng. "Do you deserve my trust?"

Lin Nansheng stood up at once, his body ramrod straight. However, he didn't know how to answer.

Gu Shenyan was still smiling. "During a time of crisis, I have to have to be prepared for the worst as well."

"There won't be such a day," said Lin Nansheng.

Gu Shenyan's expression turned grim. "I've already sent my request to headquarters. If that day comes, you will be the one to take over my work."

On the way home from the brothel, Lin Nansheng's emotions churned. At the same time, he felt an increasing sense of a lingering fear. He arrived home after thinking over many things in his mind. Zhu Yizhen had already prepared dinner and was sitting beneath the lights, calmly waiting for him.

Halfway through dinner, Lin Nansheng suddenly spoke. "You have to leave here as quickly as possible."

Zhu Yizhen paused for a bit, before lowering her head and continuing to eat.

"This place has already been compromised," said Lin Nansheng again.

It was only then that Zhu Yizhen put down her bowl. After getting up to turn off the lights, she stood by the window and looked down for a long time. However, she didn't find anything out of the ordinary. Thus, she turned on the lights again and sat down to finish the food in her bowl. Then, she cleaned up the dishes, sat down at the embroidery table, and spent most of her evening embroidering on silk.

Zhu Yizhen only spoke when she went to bed. In the darkness, she gazed at the man lying on the pillow next to her and mumbled, "It really is time for us to end things."

Lin Nansheng seemed to return to a point in the past. He met with Zhu Yizhen every week, sometimes once, sometimes twice, sometimes during the day, and sometimes at night. However, each meeting wasn't for exchanging intelligence. Like all couples who were passionately in love, other than sharing meals, watching movies, and sitting in coffee shops, they would also make love in hotel rooms. The only thing was, they would be extremely cautious each time they met. It seemed like a rendezvous, yet also a secret affair, filling both of them with the thrill of danger.

The day after the Spring Festival, Gu Shenyan suddenly called Lin Nansheng over, saying that he had to meet the person in charge of Shanghai for the CCP.

"From what I know, the Jiangsu provincial party committee has already withdrawn form Shanghai," said Lin Nansheng.

"They still have an office for the New Fourth Army." Gu Shenyan's tone brooked no arguments. "Find them. Quickly."

Lin Nansheng rushed to Zhu Yizhen's new residence that very night. The next afternoon, as he waited for a response on the zigzag bridge near the City God Temple, he saw Zhu Yizhen's figure appear within the crowd from afar. He also discovered the plainclothes agents tailing her. According to their regulations, the only thing Lin Nansheng could do right now was to turn around and leave. However, he didn't do so. Without the slightest hesitation, he greeted and embraced Zhu Yizhen in the crowd, saying, "Follow me."

Two people squeezed through the crowd, swiftly running across the zigzag bridge. They passed through the Buddha hall and the incense burning site behind it. Then, they left the City God Temple through a small door in the back garden. This route was one that Lin Nansheng had studied before he came. Something like this was already instinct to him. However, this time, they encountered an expert. Coming out of the alley, Lin Nansheng could only pull Zhu Yizhen with him on a desperate run.

That was when a gunshot sounded. The bullet penetrated Zhu Yizhen's body, exiting her chest and lodging in Lin Nansheng's back at the same time. As though he'd just stumbled and tripped, Lin Nansheng fell face-first against the flagstone pavement road. He called out, "Zhenzhen."

Zhu Yizhen looked at him and opened her mouth, choking on the blood that spilled out of her nose and mouth.

That night, a black car slowly drove to the garden entrance at 101 Yuyuan Road. Gu Shenyan wore a bowler hat and a mink coat. After he followed the guard into a study, he sat down on the sofa and waited for a very long time before finally seeing Ding Momang push open the door and enter the room.

Ding Momang, who had already been transferred to the post of the Ministry of Transport, had clearly just gotten out of bed. A silk belt was wrapped tightly around the nightgown he wore.

Gu Shenyan smiled. "After seeing an old friend, you aren't going to buy me a drink?"

Unmoving, Ding Momang stood and stared coldly at him. "According to what I know, all of you have completely withdrawn from Shanghai."

"Your intelligence has never been accurate." Keeping a smile on his face, Gu Shenyan walked over and chose a bottle of brandy from the liquor cabinet. After pouring himself a glass, he glanced at the label on the bottle and said, "A 1935 Cognac. That year, we were both at Nanchang's General Suppression Headquarters, right?"

"If you have something to say, then get straight to the point. There's no need to curry favor here."

"Please help me take back someone from the hands of the Japanese."

Ding Momang sat down on the sofa. "Right now, you should consider how you can leave this study in one piece."

"If Minister Ding insists that I stay, then shouldn't he first allow me to use the transmitter set up here by Mr. Dai so I can inform Chongqing?"

Ding Momang's complexion changed. After quite a while, he finally spoke. "You should know how difficult it is to do anything on the Japanese side."

"I know that the second position you hold is the head of the secret service."

"Who is it that you want to save?"

"A subordinate."

"You'd barge into my house in the middle of the night for a subordinate?"

"He's currently in the emergency room of the Yan Chai Hospital."

"I can help you silence him forever."

"Is this how you people treat your own comrades?"

Ding Momang laughed. "Shenyan-xiong, you're still a member of the CCP at your core."

This time, Gu Shenyan was the one whose complexion changed. He put down his glass of wine and lifted his hand to glance at his wristwatch. "We don't have much time left."

"But what I want to know is how you'll repay me?"

Gu Shenyan thought for a bit. "My coming to find you is your repayment."

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