The Rebel: Chapter 7

Translated by qikiqtarjuaq
Posted on 2020-09-07

On Christmas night, in order to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Hong Kong signing the truce agreement, the streets were covered with Japanese flags and military flags while Geishas in kimonos replaced the white-bearded Santa Claus. Soldiers who were recklessly seeking pleasure could be found everywhere.

When Zuo Qiuming walked to the Emperor Hotel on Lockhart Road and entered its lobby, he immediately discovered that this place had already been compromised. However, he didn't leave right away. Instead, he went straight into a phone booth, where he swallowed a piece of paper and made a phone call, disconnecting it before the other party answered. Then, after taking out a handgun and cocking it, he put it inside his coat pocket. Without taking his hand off his gun, he pushed the door open.

Just then, the plainclothes agents surrounded him. After Zuo Qiuming shot down two people and ran behind a pillar, he put the gun against his temple. However, before he could pull the trigger, he was struck by a bullet in his chest, causing him to crumple to the ground.

One hour later, just as Suzuki Masao was about to perform surgery, the operating room's door was roughly pushed open. The one who came in was a Japanese lieutenant in his military uniform. After waving his credentials for the Special Higher Police around a few times, he bowed towards Doctor Suzuki and spoke in Japanese. "Can I trouble you to cut open his stomach? He has very likely swallowed the intelligence that we need."

Suzuki Masao signaled the nurse, then took off his mask and spread his hands. "That would kill him."

"His life isn't important," said the lieutenant. "The important thing is the information."

"But I'm a doctor," said Suzuki Masao. "I can't do something like this."

"You're a soldier of the Empire first and foremost," said the lieutenant. "You must obey your orders."

Suzuki Masao stood still and lowered his head. After a while, he walked to the operating table and took the scalpel from the nurse.

The lieutenant became a little impatient. Stepping forward, he swiftly pulled away the surgical drapes covering Zuo Qiuming's body. "Please hurry."

Not paying him any heed, Suzuki Masao let the nurse inject some more anesthetics into Zuo Qiuming's veins before cutting his stomach.

Two days later, although Zuo Qiuming miraculously survived, he chose to commit suicide. Late into the night on the third day, he waited until the doctors and nurses making the rounds left. Then, he took off his oxygen mask, pulled the IV out of his arm, and after moving his hands under the covers, he tore apart the two wounds on his body. After that, he lay quietly in the dark with his eyes open, and amidst the agonizing pain, allowed his blood to drain from his body one drop at a time.

When Suzuki Masao told the entire story to Lin Nansheng, they were sitting in the main hall of a teahouse. After he finished speaking, Suzuki Masao stood up and gave Lin Nansheng a solemn and respectful bow before sitting back down. "Pang-san, I've let down your friend."

Lin Nansheng didn't respond, continuing to slowly sip his tea. He finally spoke after putting his cup down. "You got it wrong. He's not my friend."

"I've seen him visit you at the hospital more than once."

"Your words will get me arrested."

"I'm your doctor and your friend," said Suzuki Masao earnestly. "I asked you to meet me only to tell you that a brave man deserves an honorable burial. He shouldn't be left lying in a morgue."

"Suzuki, to have sympathy for your enemy is to betray your Empire," said Lin Nansheng evenly.

"I don't have enemies." Suzuki Masao looked up at Lin Nansheng. "As a doctor, I only have patients."

No expression could be detected on Lin Nansheng's face. He just kept drinking tea and pouring water. After he left the teahouse, he returned to his company and continued to go to work. He treated this meeting with Suzuki Masao as some sort of test from the Japanese until he spotted a notice for claiming the body of an unknown man in the papers a few days later. Looking at the pictures of Zuo Qiuming, Lin Nansheng suddenly felt a surge of emotions.

That night, he asked to see the highest ranking senior official for the NBIS in Hong Kong. The senior official waited until he was finished speaking, pulled open a drawer, and took out a folder. "You perform intelligence analysis. Why don't you make a deduction?"

There were many pictures enclosed in the folder, all of them showing places that Zuo Qiuming had been or people that Zuo Qiuming had met. In one of the pictures, Lin Nansheng saw Ji Zhongyuan's profile and immediately understood. However, he still asked, "What can this prove?"

"That's why we still need to examine this further. This is the last chance."

"He's already dead."

"However, we need to know whose martyr he was." The senior official sighed. Standing up, he walked towards a globe and gave it a spin. "If my deduction is right, then someone will come collect his body."

Lin Nansheng didn't speak another word. After leaving the senior official's office, he went to a bar on Queen's Road. There, he drank non-stop while flirting with the waitress. Then, carrying half a bottle of wine, he drunkenly went to the mouth of the alley where he'd met Ji Zhongyuan. He looked like a homeless man who'd been drinking deep into the night for five nights straight.

Late at night on the sixth day, a pedicab stopped in front of him after looping around the area. Dressed as a pedicab driver, Ji Zhongyuan helped him onboard.

Lin Nansheng let out a long breath. "You finally showed up."

Ji Zhongyuan pedaled hard. "What if I didn't show up?"

"Would you really give up?" countered Lin Nansheng.

At the break of dawn, Jo Zhongyuan brought him across the sea to a cemetery on Lantau Island. Standing in front of a fresh grave that didn't have a tombstone, he said, "I know that you were friends for many years."

"When did he start working for you?"

"He wasn't working for anyone," said Ji Zhongyuan. "He was only doing his duty as a Chinese special agent."

Lin Nansheng lowered his head and stood in place for a while. By the time he returned to the ship, he still hadn't said a single word. Silently, he sat alone at the prow of the ship, facing the rising sun and the sea breeze. It wasn't until he was disembarking from the ship that he turned his head and spoke to Ji Zhongyuan. "From the comprehensive analysis of the incoming and outgoing telegrams, the Japanese Army will soon send troops to Guangzhouwan."

"What about the movements of the French army?"

"The British couldn't even hold on to Hong Kong. What can the French do?" With that, Lin Nansheng turned and left. However, before he took more than a few steps, he doubled back. Looking at Ji Zhongyuan, he hesitated for a bit. "I hope that your people in Shanghai can help look for her whereabouts."

"Don't worry." Ji Zhongyuan expressionlessly interrupted him. "She's my comrade and my wife."

In order to receive Lin Nansheng's intelligence reports, Ji Zhongyuan specially opened up an exclusive line that he would personally monitor. However, those days didn't last for very long. A sudden transfer order later, Lin Nansheng was recalled to Chongqing to take up a post as a technical instructor for the Sino-American Cooperative Organization.

Lin Nansheng didn't say goodbye to anyone before leaving, nor did he contact Ji Zhongyuan. Instead, he arrived all on his own at the pier, and followed the tourists aboard the cruise liner. However, the moment he stepped into the cabin, he immediately spotted Ji Zhongyuan.

Dressed in a white waiter's uniform with a warm towel in his hand, Ji Zhongyuan stepped forward with a radiant smile. "Sir, would you like to wipe your face?"

"Do you want to send me off to Chongqing?" asked Lin Nansheng coldly.

Ji Zhongyuan continued to smile. At the same time that he handed over the towel, he also slipped Lin Nansheng a piece of paper. "If at any time you need to contact us, then just publish this in the Central Daily News."

On the piece of paper was a qilu verse titled Ode to the Plum Blossom, signed by Huang Shanyun.

Leaning against the side of the ship, he silently read the poem, then tore apart the piece of paper and threw it into the sea. As he closed his eyes, he heard the sound of the ship's whistle.

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