Xiaotao covered her mouth and exclaimed, "Does such a terrible thing really exist?"
I nodded, "Have you ever heard of Stockholm syndrome?"
"I think I’ve heard of it somewhere."
In 1973, two criminals went to the largest bank in Stockholm and held four bankers hostage. After a stalemate with the police that lasted over a hundred hours, the criminals chose to turn themselves in.
However, the four hostages pitied and sympathised with the two criminals, not only refusing to testify against them in court, but also actively raising defense funds for them. One of the female hostages was eventually engaged to one of the criminals while serving his sentence.
This incident sparked a great uproar in the academic circles who named it the Stockholm Syndrome. Psychiatrists explored the reasons behind it and found that everyone had a mental switch that leaned towards favorable circumstances and away from pain and harm. Once the surrounding environment exceeded the threshold considered bearable, this mental switch would automatically turn on as soon as the perpetrator showed little gestures of goodwill, such as giving the victims a meal or a mouthful of water! Feelings of gratitude, dependence, and trust towards the perpetrators would sprout within the victims. Eventually, they would surrender and obey their perpetrators.
This was a self-preservation mechanism in order to protect themselves. Anyone, even me, Xiaotao or Wang Yuanchao whose will was as strong as iron would collapse and surrender in such an environment and under constant ‘rewiring.’
MLM organizations and cults often used this method to brainwash people. They imprisoned them and forced them to do all sorts of things, repeatedly instilling fallacies in their heads. Over time, these people would be bound by invisible chains. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising to see news of rescued MLM members who return on their own accord or perhaps create their own organization to harm others.
"It is terrible!” cried Xiaotao. “That’s to say, the witnesses kidnapped by the Dog Trainers won’t testify even if we manage to find them..."
In fact, there was a simple solution–fight fire with fire and rewire the victims’ minds by means of torture and training! However, this was obviously illegal. If we ever reached the end of the road, I could resort to this under necessity.
At the time, I never imagined both Xiaotao and I were hatching a bold yet illegal plan.
With the four scapegoats in detention, Xiaotao led the task force to continue tracking the expenditures of the real culprits’ fathers. Before I left the station, she turned to me and said, "Don’t worry. I will do everything in my power to arrest these criminals."
"You should pay attention to your health as well. Make sure you rest and shut those eyes every once in a while. Don't push yourself too hard!” I urged. “If you die now, I’ll have to spend so much money buying flowers every year."
Xiaotao burst into laughter, "I know! I'd rather live to receive your flowers!"
Thus, I returned to the store and briefly chatted with the cashier about my work. The store was operating well so Dali and I weren’t required to do a lot of hands-on work. During this period, Dali stuck to Luo Youyou like glue.
After my conversation with the cashier, I headed to the supermarket and bought a whole black chicken and some herbs to prepare a nourishing soup for Huang Xiaotao.
I chanced upon Dali whom I didn’t expect to see home. The idiot was lying in bed holding a literary classic. Feigning surprise, he said, "Hey, weren't you going to investigate the case today?"
Scanning the apartment, I chuckled, "Luo Youyou, you can come out!"
The closet door slowly opened and there stood Luo Youyou. "Song Yang, you’re so observant!” she spat her tongue. “How did you know I’m here?"
"Dali, the book in your hand is upside down!” I laughed. “Why the hell are you still pretending?"
Embarrassed by the revelation, Dali made up some excuse about hanging out with Luo Youyou at home. I couldn’t be bothered to expose their lies. Instead, I headed to the kitchen to start cooking soup. A novice at cooking, I decided to follow a recipe on Baidu and managed to churn out a decent pot of soup.
Smelling the fragrance, Luo Youyou walked into the kitchen. "Song Yang, how thoughtful of you to make soup for your girlfriend. Dali has never even thought about doing that for me."
"Dude, you’re deliberately making me look bad, aren’t you?!" frowned Dali.
"Go away!” I waved my hand. “I didn't know you two were home today."
"Youyou, why don’t we go shopping!" suggested Dali.
Just as they were about to leave, I reminded, "Be careful out there! Don't walk around alone and buy a stun gun or pepper spray if you can."
"Who have you offended this time?" asked Dali.
I kept my worries to myself. In fact, I had a premonition the arrival of the Dog Trainer meant a tough battle ahead. The case of the four young masters was just the warm-up. I didn't want to involve the people around me. If something were to happen to them because of me, I couldn’t live with myself.
At four in the afternoon, I took my thermos and headed down to the station. Xiaotao had just concluded a meeting. Seeing the thermos filled with chicken soup in my hand, she smiled with, "Did you specially make this for me?"
I scratched my head awkwardly, "I cooked too much soup and I thought you might like a taste."
"Why won’t you just admit it?” Xiaotao playfully poked my cheeks. “Do you think I don’t know what you’re like. You order takeout every day!"
She slipped into her office to taste the soup. When I asked how it was, she scooped some and fed me, "Try it yourself."
Afraid someone would suddenly barge in, I glanced around furtively and took a sip.
"It needs more salt,” I remarked. “I'll do better next time!"
"I think the soup you personally cooked tastes better than any delicacy!" gushed Xiaotao.
"I have some good news to share,” she continued. “I have in my hands a clue that may be the key to bringing down the four young masters."
"What is it?"
"I won't tell you yet,” teased Xiaotao. “You’re always making me guess! So this time, I’m taking a page out of your book!!"
A few days later, while the task force was still following up on the case, I would visit Xiaotao from time to time. Investigating their accounts was a tedious task, especially when it involved the rich. One man alone had several accounts and the payee had to be verified one by one. Therefore, it often took several months for the Anti-Corruption Bureau to investigate a corrupt official. In the course of the investigation, certain cases of bribery were unexpectedly discovered. In order not to alert the ones responsible, these details were kept under wraps for the time being.
Early this morning, I received a call from Xiaotao. "Song Yang, we have a witness!" she shouted excitedly.
I immediately rushed down to the station. Upon meeting Xiaotao, she handed me some files. "This is Qin Guozhu’s expenditure over the past month." She pointed to several transactions, "All these were made out to an overseas trading company, totaling sixteen million yuan. But after verification, this company doesn’t exist."
"Creating a fake company and collecting money in the name of investment are indeed the usual methods of the organization. Sixteen million divided by four… So the original price to protect one of them is four million. The prices are clearly marked indeed.”
The four young masters shared the same interests. If one person were caught, the others would be arrested as well. Qin Guozhu gritted his teeth and paid such a large sum to protect his son.
"But the transactions alone aren’t enough. When the time comes, Qin Guozhu can say that he gave the money to his mistress or bribed someone which is why we also need a witness,” explained Xiaotao. “Qin Guozhu's secretary has agreed to cooperate with us and testify against his boss for sheltering criminals, destroying evidence and murder-for-hire!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter