Quality Check: Kai
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter One Hundred and Seventeen: Mastermind
“H-how should I address you?”
Xiao Yu trembled as he served the guest with a cup of tea.
The formally dressed lawyer accepted the drink and set it aside: “My surname is Hu. This is my name card.”
“Ohh, okay, okay. N-nice to meet you, Lawyer Hu.” This was the first time Xiao Yu had interacted with a lawyer in real life, and he was not even sure where to place his hands.
“According to the details Mr. Yan has entrusted me with, I would like to first hear Mr. Xiao’s side of the story. I will be conveying your words appropriately back to Mr. Yan.” Lawyer Hu spoke in a professional manner.
Xiao Yu stared blankly, unaware that Lawyer Hu had presumed his expression to be a facade of naïvety.
“Mr. Xiao, with how things had developed to this point, it would be meaningless for you to deny your involvement. I suggest that you tell the truth earlier and save everybody’s time.”
Xiao Yu was truly stuck in a daze. Two days ago, Chu Ge had also told him to tell the truth. However, the honest truth was that he unknowingly possessed a hamster body and, as a result of a freak combination of factors, he had become Yan Jin’s pet. In the end he could only hope that the chairman would allow him not to have to compensate for the Rolls-Royce Phantom for the sake of their eight months of companionship.
But, all those were things that he could not reveal to the lawyer in front of him.
Xiao Yu tried to probe further: “I-I can be honest, but could I say it to Yan Jin in person? Can I meet- “
“You can’t possibly be thinking of explaining yourself personally to Mr. Yan, are you?” Lawyer Hu dashed Xiao Yu’s hope with contempt as he held his wrist up to look at the time: “I think if you are going to waste my time like this, then I should end the mediation now, and we’ll meet in court.”
“Hey, don’t, don’t. I’m just asking randomly.”
The word ‘court’ made Xiao Yu start sweating. For the past twenty-five years, he had never thought that he would be involved with that word.
“So, what you meant was?” Lawyer Hu asked.
“I-I’ll speak, but you have to at least tell me which part I’m supposed to be honest about…?”
Xiao Yu could not bring himself to believe that the lawyer was asking him to tell the truth about his hamster life for the past eight months; however, he was unsure about what the lawyer was trying to find out from him.
“Of course you should tell me everything you know. Most importantly, you should tell me about the mastermind behind this accident. Secondly, you should tell me how much you know about the Yan family matters, and how much you know about Mr Yan. On top of that, Mr Yan had specifically requested me to ask…” Lawyer Hu pushed up his spectacles as he continued: “about how much do you know about the events that happened twenty years ago.”
Xiao Yu: “……”
He carefully eyed Lawyer Hu for a short moment and confirmed by his serious look that the lawyer was not lying.
But in that case, why did the lawyer’s words make him feel even more confused?
For the past two days, Xiao Yu had not gone to work as he had applied for leave to “recuperate” at home. At the same time, he had been researching online, endlessly comparing both memories from his two lifetimes and sorting out everything that had happened up to the current time.
Finally, Xiao Yu assumed that he had straightened out the logic of all the past events.
It was probably this year on March 5th when he had crashed into Yan Jin’s Rolls-Royce Phantom while he was driving. He fell into the river and his soul had possessed a hamster which was probably already dead around July of the previous year. As the result of a freak combination of factors, he had become Yan Jin’s hamster. Eight months later, in his hamster form, he was sitting in Yan Jin’s car, when the human form of him crashed into him. His soul then returned and after being unconscious for an entire day, he woke up on March 7th.
These were the conclusions that he made in the past two days. Neither of those included “who was the mastermind, how did he contact you, how much you know about the Yan family, and how much you know about Mr. Yan.”
Although Xiao Yu had been insulted by Chu Ge saying that he was dense like a pig, reality had proven that Xiao Yu’s brain was functioning alright. He pondered for a moment and understood that Lawyer Hu was not referring to “the mastermind who turned him into a hamster”, but “the mastermind who made him crash into Yan Jin’s vehicle”.
Okay, so it all comes back to the question Chu Ge had raised two days ago.
Learning from his lesson with the doctor, Xiao Yu was not in a rush to defend himself, but to calmly elaborate everything from the beginning: “Have you heard about the Stars Designer Cup competition?
Lawyer Hu nodded: “I heard that it is a significant competition for the industry.”
“I won the grand award in this year’s Stars Designer Cup. It was the highest award in the entire competition. The award presentation was held on the March 5th, which you can easily find out online. There are recordings of the award presentation ceremony. I know a number of forums that would have displayed it. It was a Thursday that day, and I went to receive my award with some of my colleagues. After the event had ended, it was after working hours at the company as well, so, our department suggested that we should gather and celebrate the event. We had already booked the hot spring resort and everything, and our bosses had approved leave for us on the following Friday. Hence, after I retrieved my award, I drove directly to the suburban district.”
“My trophy and medal are still lying in my car. It was very normal when I started driving. It was normal when I went off the highway. Then, it started raining. I may have been too engrossed in the excitement of receiving the award back then, even though I had already been informed a few days prior that I would be receiving it. But, could you understand? That agitation when you personally received the trophy- sorry, that’s off topic. All in all, it was dark outside, and I couldn’t see very well. I may have exceeded the speed limit because I thought that no one would be out in the mountain roads. However, when I saw the light coming from the car in opposite direction, I hit the brakes, I really did, but not only did the car not slow down, it went even faster. Then the accident happened…”
When he recalled the memories of that incident, Xiao Yu could still feel the freezing cold river and the suffocation that had engulfed him, but what made him even more fearful was the moment when he saw the red liquid rolling off Yan Jin’s face.
That moment was not more than a second, it went by so fast that Xiao Yu could not even give Yan Jin a last hug in time. However, now that he recalled, he felt that the one second was way too long, that it had buried itself deep in his memories making it possible for him to clearly remember that blood red scene.
Xiao Yu pushed those memories out from his mind as he looked earnestly into Lawyer Hu’s eyes and said: “I am an adult. My intelligence is normal, and I am the youngest award winner of that design competition. Why would I crash into Yan Jin’s car on purpose? Taking a few hundred thousand steps back, how could I have known that Yan Jin would coincidentally drive out from that area back then?”
“In fact, what you have just said is what puzzles us.” The edge of Lawyer Hu’s lips curled slightly: “Otherwise I’m afraid you wouldn’t even have the chance to speak to us right now.”
That sentence sent a chill down Xiao Yu’s spine. He looked at the hand tucked in Lawyer Hu’s pocket, worried that in the coming moments the lawyer may take out a gun.
Hold on. Don’t panic. Those were all scenarios from television dramas. This was a society ruled by laws; the lawyer couldn’t possibly take his life for real.
Xiao Yu comforted himself as he spoke pitifully: “I know the accident was indeed my fault. I should be responsible for what I have caused. I have my accident insurance as well, and I won’t renege on a debt… b-but I-I’m just really puzzled, why do none of you believe that it was just an accident?”
Lawyer Hu laughed, and it was not one of those sarcastic snickers, but real laughter: “Mr. Xiao, you’re such an interesting person.”
“Your thinking is as naïve as my nieces. She’s ten this year.”
Xiao Yu swallowed the ‘thank you’ back into his stomach.
Perhaps it was Xiao Yu’s ten-year-old like naivety that touched Lawyer Hu’s compassion. He analyzed according to Xiao Yu’s story: “According to what I am aware of, the possibility that you have mentioned may be true. However, have you wondered why your car would malfunction at that crucial point in time?”
Xiao Yu shook his head.
Lawyer Hu squinted his eyes as he continued: “Assuming that you are indeed speaking the truth, then, in this entire incident, you are merely just a pawn that was used by someone else. Not to mention, the most inferior pawn.”
Xiao Yu still felt very confused, but he was smart enough not to cut into the conversation.
“We have begun our investigation on the relevant matters; however, you are the most suspicious person involved.
Xiao Yu nodded his head confusedly.
Lawyer Hu stared at Xiao Yu’s bewildered expression for a moment before he sighed: “From my personal perspective, I am willing to believe in you.”
“However, just because I believe in you does not mean that Mr. Yan will do the same, neither would the law let you off.” Lawyer Hu took out a set of documents from his briefcase and passed it to Xiao Yu: “From the legislation’s point of view, your actions were enough to be considered as attempted homicide.”
“Homicide?” Xiao Yu was so shocked that he did not even accept the document. He was petrified on the spot: “I committed attempted homicide? Why would I possibly kill someone? Also it’s Yan Jin we’re talking about. I don’t have any motives; it’s really just an accident…”
“I am willing to believe that it is an accident; however, we have conclusive evidence of your criminal act by your driving. Should we meet in court, it would most definitely be at your disadvantage. This is the lawyer’s letter, you may read through the details. There are parts highlighted regarding the penalty for attempted homicide.”
When Xiao Yu accepted the lawyer’s letter, both of his hands were shaking.
He initially thought that he would end up compensating by monetary means. He had checked online about the selling price of the Rolls-Royce Phantom Yan Jin had driven. He had then become a coward and begun to think of how he could contact Yan Jin to tell him the truth……
However, reality had given him a harsh slap in his face.
Lawyer Hu rubbed his chin as he studied the scared stiff young man before him. Despite his complete trust in his employer, he couldn’t help but to wonder if there was indeed a ulterior motive behind this incident.
If the young man in front of him was a nail that the opposing families had planted, then such a realistic act of confusion seemed to be too well-played?
Perhaps this young man was indeed was a pawn that was made used of, one who had no self-awareness about it ‘til now. Lawyer Hu couldn’t help think that.
It was just that these thoughts had nothing to do with him. All he needed to do was to fulfil the task given by his employer.
“You don’t have to be so nervous. Since we are not meeting at the court right now, it means that there is still leeway for this matter.” Lawyer Hu took the lawyer letter from of Xiao Yu’s hands: “If you are willing to confess as to who the mastermind was, then perhaps Mr. Yan will be lenient towards you.”
“B-but there’s no mastermind…”
“Mr. Xiao.” Lawyer Hu raised his voice: “You don’t seem to realize that the choice is no longer in your hands.”
Xiao Yu shook his head slowly.
“If you are willing to follow our instructions and confess the mastermind’s identity, we would naturally not make things difficult for you.” Lawyer Hu shrugged his shoulders: “Too bad you’re not willing to confess that you have been made use of, as you still think that you are innocent. Thus, you can only choose to ‘follow our instructions to confess about the mastermind’s identity’.”
“That way, perhaps Mr. Yan may provide you with a check to live out the rest of your life overseas after you have atoned for your crime.”
It was the same sentence, yet a slight pause in the sentence had changed the entire meaning.
It was at that moment when Xiao Yu finally realized what the other person was trying to say.
The ridiculous acknowledgement made his brains burst into fireworks.
Moments later, Xiao Yu finally recovered and asked in disbelief: “Did Yan Jin make you say that?”
“Of course. What I am conveying right now are Mr. Yan’s words.”
“That is to say to say, he doesn’t even care whether I’m innocent or not. No matter what, I have to testify for the ‘mastermind’ and the identity of that person will be decided by you guys?”
“I am honored that you understood my words so quickly.” Lawyer Hu smiled sarcastically.
Xiao Yu took a deep breath before he grit his teeth and enunciating each word carefully
“I refuse. We will meet in court.”