Chapter 203: 203

We quickly rushed back to the station . Although it was already past seven, no one mentioned anything about dinner . We were all anxiously awaiting to hear the results from Xiaozhou .

If the DNA on the band-aid wasn’t Zhang Qiang's, then we would have to watch the murderer go unpunished, unless he committed another crime . But that was the last thing I wanted to see .

At eight, Xiaozhou exited the laboratory . Like a cat on hot bricks, Xiaotao immediately asked, "What’re the results?"

He said with conviction, "The two phalanges are consistent with the DNA of the corpse . As for the DNA on the band-aid… . " he paused intentionally, "It matches the DNA on the cigarette butt given to me by Song Yang!"

We cheered happily from the bottom of our hearts . Xiaotao rapped her knuckles on the table and everyone soon quieted down . In a stern voice, she instructed, "Get ready to pull in the net!"

We quickly made our way over to Zhang Qiang's tailor shop . The plainclothes officers in charge of surveillance had already found the landlord . Upon our instruction, the landlord went up and knocked on the door . "Open up, I’m here to check the electricity meter . "

After several knocks, still no one answered . The landlord asked, "Officer, what crime has Zhang Qiang committed? Is it related to those murders?"

I asked, "How did you know?"

The landlord burst out laughing . "I’m rather close to the landlord of that area . In the evening, she mentioned that you investigated a tenant’s house and seemed to have found some important clues . "

Xiaotao cursed, "Damn it, I gave him hush money for nothing!"

The nerd was useless at keeping things under wraps . News of our investigation had spread throughout the area in less than a few hours . Zhang Qiang had probably absconded from the crime . I later learned that the situation was even more serious than I had initially thought .

I pulled out a wire and picked the lock . Everything in the shop was as it had been, as if the owner had gone out temporarily .

In the back of the tailor’s shop was the couple's bedroom . I noticed a long strand of hair on the floor and picked it up . "Doesn’t Li Qin have short hair?"

Xiaotao asked, "Did they take a hostage?"

There were some cosmetics on the dressing table, which I examined one by one . In one of the bottles of makeup remover, I caught a whiff of ether .

This was an open room with no hidden spaces, so where would they hide someone? I opened the wardrobe only to smell a strong stench left by extended periods of not bathing . On top of that, there were scratches on the door .

I was astounded . We had visited the tailor’s shop several times but never expected that someone would be held captive here .

Maybe it was a girl they were about to kill . Our arrival must’ve obstructed their plans, so they knocked her out and hid her . Now, this girl had become their hostage!

I looked around and noticed that the calendar on the wall was crooked . As it turned out, there was an unbolted window concealed behind it . Using my Cave Vision, I detected that the dust on the window frame had just been wiped clean and showed traces of fingerprints on it, indicating that someone had climbed out of here .

I climbed through the window to the back alley and found wheel tracks on the ground . I quickly concluded, "They fled less than an hour ago . "

Xiaotao immediately ordered, "Check Zhang Qiang's license plate number . Contact the toll station and ask them to stop the vehicle . The rest of you will take all the exits along this road!"

"Wait a minute!" I gestured with a wave of my hand .

I called the landlord and asked him to describe Zhang Qiang’s vehicle . He said it was a white van usually used for transporting goods . The conspicuous words “Qiang’s Tailor' Shop” had been spray-painted onto the doors along with his telephone number .

Xiaotao instructed the officers to inform the county traffic police to coordinate on intercepting them .

Meanwhile, the three of us hopped into Xiaotao's car and started chasing after them . About half an hour later, one of the officers sent news that they had caught sight of Zhang Qiang’s van, so we got a move on it .

As we turned onto that road, we could hear sirens from a distance away . Xiaotao immediately hit the gas pedal in an attempt to catch up to them . The white van accelerated down the road with a fleet of police cars in pursuit, siren lights flashing as an officer bellowed through a loudspeaker, "Pull over immediately or we will use coercive measures!"

However, the white van didn’t stop at all . Considering that there might be hostages inside, the police were afraid to push too hard and trailed behind the van the entire time .

I told Xiaotao to stabilize the car so I could launch my Cave Vision to examine the van . The two vehicles were more than fifty meters apart, forcing me to dilate my pupils to the maximum just to see the inside of the van . There was only the driver in the vehicle . "Zhang Qiang isn’t here, nor is there a hostage . Obstruct the van at once!"

At Xiaotao’s command, the police cars quickly flanked the van from the left and right, bringing it to a stop . I hopped off Xiaotao’s car . As the police surrounded the van, I heard fearful cries . "Help! Help! It's going to explode!"

Everyone else stopped dead in their tracks, while I went to open the car door . A middle-aged man was in the driver's seat, hands fastened around the steering wheel with tape . He was wearing a bomb vest packed with wires and explosives along with something that had a blinking red light .

"Don't move . Let the bomb squad handle it!" Xiaotao stopped me as I reached out my hand .

I weighed the vest and found that it was very light . I laughed, "It's fake . "

Once I had removed the vest from the man, I found that the explosives were indeed empty paper packages . The blinking light was really a dismantled digital watch that looked quite like the real thing .

When asked about what had happened, the man explained that he had been kidnapped by a man and two women on his way home from work . They robbed him of his car, placed a bomb on him and taped his hands around the steering wheel . Then, they warned him not to stop once he started driving or else he would die .

Zhang Qiang was an expert in acting . At the time, the threat in his tone probably sounded real and his expression authentic . The man was scared out of his wits and had to do as he said .

Huang Xiaotao angrily slammed the car . "Damn it, just when we were about to catch him! What a cunning bastard!"

I got the man to describe his car–a red Santana–and license plate number, which Xiaotao shared with the traffic police .

I asked, "Of the two women, one of them has long hair . What does she look like?"

He thought for a moment and said, "She’s in her early twenties, quite beautiful . But she looked a little dazed and confused . "

Xiaotao dug up a photo from her cell phone and asked, "Is that her?"

The man nodded . "Yes, yes! That's her!"

Xiaotao slapped her forehead and heaved a long sigh . "I was afraid of this . "

I asked her what’s wrong and she whispered, "It's the mayor’s illegitimate daughter!"

Zhang Qiang had made a fool out of us and was probably already out of the county . Right now, we felt discouraged but we couldn’t give up that last ray of hope . We still had to go after them . Xiaotao instructed the other officers to go after the couple . She and Bingxin would stay with me while I took a look at the van .

Once in the van, I found only some rags and snack wrappers . There was an empty pill bottle under the driver's seat but the label had been torn off . There was no way I could tell what drug it was by smelling the bottle alone . The bottle itself looked new, without a speck of dust on it .

I hadn’t seen any signs of illness in the two . Did Li Qin's mental illness relapse? Then this was probably a sedative .

I put the pill bottle down and said, "Xiaotao, they could still be in the county . "

Xiaotao was surprised . "Are you sure?"

I hesitated . "I’m only thirty percent sure . I suspect Li Qin’s illness might have relapsed . Zhang Qiang might have taken the hostage elsewhere to dispose of her . After all, it’s more convenient for them to flee after they get rid of the hostage . "

Xiaotao said, "Then they’ll definitely head to the forest . It’s the most hidden place in the county! Get in the car!"