Chapter 27: Hiding in Plain Sight
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Gu Nianzhi stared at the phone for a long moment, then coughed and said in a small, uncertain voice, “…Uncle Huo, this is Nianzhi…”
Had he gotten her mixed up with someone else again?
“Well, don’t stay up too late.” Huo Shaoheng ended the call. He could now finally sleep in peace.
Early the next morning, Huo Shaoheng and his subordinates got up and checked out from Chiba Hotel with their backpacks before splitting up. They each had their own objectives.
Huo Shaoheng went to the Tokyo Imperial University Hospital.
Zhao Liangze went directly to Tokyo International Airport; he would be responsible for the logistics of the mission.
Yin Shixiong went to Shinjuku Gyo-en National Garden to monitor Oda Masao. He had to make sure Oda Masao wasn’t about to suddenly make a U-turn for his lab; that would throw a wrench into their plans.
It was Cherry Blossom Day for Tokyo. According to the weather forecast, the cherry blossoms in Shinjuku Gyo-en would be at full bloom today.
Although it was an early Monday morning, Shinjuku Gyo-en was already packed; everyone was eager to see the cherry blossoms.
Many of the most beautiful cherry trees already had large families camped beneath them, spread out on cushions and stools.
Yin Shixiong had specially booked a spot with a tour group to Shinjuku Gyo-en.
The three military men had undergone special training, and were experts at disguising themselves when carrying out their objectives in public.
For anyone who did not know better, Yin Shixiong looked just like any other tourist from the Empire, complete with sunglasses, a stooped posture, and a silly little red I’m-with-this-tour-group cap on his head.
According to their intel, Oda Masao was going to be at Shinjuku Gyo-en for the cherry blossoms today.
Oda Masao was a scholar, obsessed with biomedicine. The degree of his obsession rivaled that of Chen Lie’s.
He spent most of his time in his lab, and was more reclusive than even Chen Lie.
He had no family, no relatives, no friends – his only earthly possessions were his laboratory equipment, and his research.
His one and only interest, outside of work, was visiting Shinjuku Gyo-en once a year, to see the cherry blossoms.
Huo Shaoheng had gone to the Tokyo Imperial University Hospital the day before for recon; there, he had discovered that the security system for Oda Masao’s laboratory wasn’t particularly sophisticated. Breaking in was easy enough; their biggest problem was Oda Masao himself.
He practically lived in his lab: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
They had come up with a few different methods to break in, but all of them would tip Oda Masao off and send him into high alert.
Then they discovered, quite by accident, that Oda Masao was going to leave his lab and go to Shinjuku Gyo-en the next day, to see the cherry blossoms.
Luck was on their side.
They had returned to the hotel to plan, then split up the next day to make their move.
When Yin Shixiong arrived at Shinjuku Gyo-en, Huo Shaoheng had also just arrived at Tokyo Imperial University Hospital.
“Sir, I have eyes on Oda Masao. He’s with his grad students, sitting under a cherry tree.” Yin Shixiong had his headset on; he talked as he walked, but to any casual observer he looked like he was only listening to music. He was dressed like the countless tourists around him.
Huo Shaoheng had just emerged from a small room next to Oda Masao’s laboratory.
He had on a white coat and special black-rimmed non-prescription glasses. A light blue surgical mask covered his face, and the laboratory access card Zhao Liangze had prepared for him hung around his neck.
Zhao Liangze had successfully hacked into the security system for Oda Masao’s lab the night before and forged a barcode for Huo Shaoheng’s access card.
Of course, they did not find any experimental data on H3aB7 on the laboratory’s intranet.
Chen Lie had already told them not to expect to find anything there. He had once been obsessed with the drug, and had done everything he could think of to get his hands on the research data – to no avail. All he managed to dig up were random bits and pieces Oda Masao had published in prestigious academic journals.
It would seem that Oda Masao shared their reservations about the internet. He did not trust it to be safe, so he kept his most important documents on paper, never uploading them to any network.
If it weren’t for Gu Nianzhi falling victim to the drug, Huo Shaoheng would never have come to Japan. He was only here because he wanted to get all the research data available on H3aB7, as well as the formula, just in case something worse awaited her.
Huo Shaoheng walked down the corridors of the laboratory, completely inconspicuous.
Everyone around him was dressed more or less like him; Oda Masao’s lab shared the same building with the Imperial University Hospital’s surgical outpatient department.
He turned a corner, and found himself outside the plain, unassuming door to Oda Masao’s lab.
It didn’t look like a very important or valuable lab. At all.
But it wouldn’t do to judge a book by its cover – it could very well be a cunning ruse.
Hiding in plain sight could be very effective sometimes.
There was no one else about. Huo Shaoheng produced his access card, swiped it, and entered the lab. Everything was going as planned.
Once he was inside, he immediately locked the door behind him, and tapped the speaker on his headset: three long taps, followed by two short taps.
On the other end of the connection, Zhao Liangze understood Huo Shaoheng had made it in, and immediately seized control of the surveillance camera inside Oda Masao’s lab.
Oda Masao may have kept all his lab data offline, but the same couldn’t be done for the lab’s power supply, central air-conditioning, and surveillance cameras. These were all connected to the Imperial University Hospital’s central power grid and controlled by the security department.
Soon enough, three long beeps came over Huo Shaoheng’s earpiece, followed by a short beep. That was the signal indicating that Zhao Liangze had successfully hijacked the surveillance camera.
With the surveillance camera compromised, and no one else in the lab, Huo Shaoheng was now able to openly search for the information he was after.
He looked everywhere, and finally found a safe in the small, innermost office of Oda Masao’s lab. On the safe were several promising clues that appeared to point to H3aB7.
The password for the safe wasn’t difficult to crack. Huo Shaoheng had previously undergone training in decoding and cracking passwords; this was easy enough for him.
He cracked the password, opened the safe, and saw a stack of documents and a box of test tubes, all neatly arranged. Huo Shaoheng could not help feeling just a tiny bit moved by his success.
There was an infrared sensor inside the safe; he could not reach in and take the documents without tripping the alarm.
Huo Shaoheng lifted his head and looked straight at the surveillance camera.
On the other end of the camera was Zhao Liangze. He immediately understood the meaning of Huo Shaoheng’s look and promptly cut off the power supply to the safe’s infrared sensor.
Once the power was cut, Huo Shaoheng reached in and extracted the stack of paper documents and the box of test tubes, quick as lightning. He replaced them with a stack of blank paper that was more or less the same size and weight.
Task accomplished, Huo Shaoheng immediately exited the laboratory and made his way to one of the bathrooms in the building. He removed his custom-made non-prescription glasses and converted them into a scanner. He began to rapidly scan all the documents, transmitting them directly to Chen Lie’s office back at the C City military base, via the Empire’s exclusive encrypted satellite.
Zhao Liangze seized this opportunity to quickly reconnect the surveillance camera to its normal video feed. Over at the hospital’s security department, the surveillance monitors showed a squeaky clean laboratory. Not a single thing looked out of place.
Back in C City, inside the Special Ops military base, Chen Lie had just returned to his office.
He turned on his work computer, and immediately saw a number of high-priority encrypted files being transferred over to him.
He accepted them, and opened the first document. He had read only a few pages when his entire body froze, as though paralyzed.
Sweat poured from him like rain. His round eyes were full of terror.
He whipped out his phone and dialed Huo Shaoheng’s private, military-only number. His teeth would not stop chattering; at this very moment he looked for all the world like he had lost his mind.
When Huo Shaoheng received the call from Chen Lie, he was almost done scanning the documents.
As he took the call, he carefully packed the test tubes in a thermal insulated lead box, which he then placed inside his backpack. He asked, “What is it?”
“I just looked at the documents you sent me. H3aB7… H3aB7 isn’t a sexual stimulant, it’s… it’s clearly a virus!”
Huo Shaoheng froze. “…What did you just say? Say it again.”
His voice was low and deliberate, like a heavy metal object sinking, slowly, into a bottomless sea. It made one feel like gasping for air.
“I haven’t had a closer look just yet, but I can assure you that this is no ordinary aphrodisiac. The chemical structure is that of a deadly virus – it’s a silent killer, capable of killing without leaving a trace!” said Chen Lie, his face grim.