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647 Let the Embassy Know

 Smith thought for a moment then shook his head. "Let's go look for her ourselves. I don't really trust the police here." The other two lawyers agreed.

"We are not from around here and don't know anybody or how things work. Furthermore, we are here to prosecute the German police force and government on behalf of our client. I don't think we should call the police for the time being. In case it's a misunderstanding, we don't want to make a scene." Smith waved his finger. "Let's do this instead. We'll get surveillance footage of these past ten days from this hotel and see if we can find anything."

They identified themselves as lawyers and demanded surveillance footage from the Hilton. The Hilton's management was reluctant but gave in due to the fact they were from America's biggest law firm. They gave them a copy of the surveillance footage from the front of the hotel and the inside of the hotel as a favor.

The surveillance footage did not violate their customers' privacy, so it didn't matter if the lawyers saw it. However, the four were not satisfied with only getting the surveillance footage of the front door. What if someone inside the hotel was the one hurting Gu Nianzhi?

It was not unheard of. For example, there was a famous case in New York where a young woman suddenly disappeared and was found naked in a cistern on the hotel's roof. The cistern was two meters high and had a very heavy concrete cover that required several strong men to lift it. However, the New York police ruled it a "suicide."

These four lawyers were quite famous and had seen more than enough of their share of police corruption, so they could not blindly trust the police. They trusted the German police even less due to the fact that Gu Nianzhi's sudden disappearance happened so subtly.

Smith said to the Hilton's head of security in a stern, cold voice, "Are you going to be able to take responsibility if something happened to our colleague inside the hotel? I can assure you that if anything happened to her while she was here, Hilton will not be able to stay open anywhere in the world."

The head of security's face turned red then white. He stared at the imposing lawyers before he reluctantly asked for his superior. To keep the peace, Hilton's executives made a special concession to make a copy of the security footage of the hotel's corridors for the four lawyers to examine.

With the security footage of the hotel's corridors, Smith and the others made sure nothing was missing. Then they assigned themselves each a part of the tape to examine overnight. They fixed their eyes on it the whole night until their eyes were red. They only saw Gu Nianzhi leaving the hotel ten days ago early one morning. However, it was clear as day that she left the hotel in their company car. She had not come back since the day she left. The last time she used her key card corresponded with the last time she left.

Smith's spirits went up a bit, and he immediately called their company driver. He acted like he had urgent business, asking the driver to come to the hotel immediately. He said he urgently needed his help and that there would be additional pay. The driver was so happy that he got to the Hilton within five minutes.

Smith and the other three invited him to a small conference room in the hotel and secretly turned on the cameras on their phones. They asked him nonchalantly, "Are you the one who drove Lawyer Gu? Where did you drove her to?"

The driver hastily said, "Oh, yes, I remember. Lawyer Gu said she wanted to go to the Königssee to see a friend and asked me to drive her there. It's about two hours away from Munich by car." The driver finished and without waiting for Smith to continue asking, he added, "How did Lawyer Gu get back? Did she call for another car? She said she'd only stay for a day and would call me when she was ready to go back. I waited for her for two days. She never called. Did she not want to come back after having so much fun?"

As soon as he finished speaking, the driver realized he had said the wrong thing. He took back what he said, quickly backpedaling. "No, it was ten days. I forgot, it was ten days," he said while squinting slyly to avoid Smith's line of sight. He regretted it. It had been days, and now these lawyers were asking him what happened on that day. He became agitated, so he forgot what that person told him to say and let the truth slip out. Luckily, he remembered and fixed it. He hoped they would ignore his slip of tongue.

Smith looked at the driver with a frown and crossed his arms as he asked, "Was it ten days or one day!? You can't remember a thing like that?"

"It has been many days. How could I remember?" The driver was very crafty and asked cautiously, "Is lawyer Gu back? Can't you ask her yourself?"

"If she was back, would I be asking you?" Smith glared at him. "Think, did Lawyer Gu say one day or ten days?"

The driver's heart dropped when he heard that Gu Nianzhi hasn't come back, and he was a little scared. He steadied himself, gritted his teeth, and told the truth. "Probably one day. Yes, it was most likely one day. If you don't believe me, you can ask her."

The four lawyers finished listening. They were all speechless. First off, the text Gu Nianzhi sent them said ten days, but she told the driver herself that it would only be one day. She even said she would come back that night and that she would call him to pick her up! Was it ten days or one day? That was the first inconsistency. After she went missing, they weren't able to get through to Gu Nianzhi's phone. From the constant voicemail to not being in the phone service zone, it was strange, very strange.

Their faces looked grim as the four of them met in Smith's room that night. They didn't want to admit it, but they had to. Gu Nianzhi was most likely missing. She didn't get lost herself, that was for sure. Someone did it. But who?

Gu Nianzhi was the Hua Xia Empire's citizen and came to Germany specifically for a case. If she had angered anyone, it would only be Seth and his family, the lawless local emperor.

They looked each other in the eyes and understood the meaning behind them. Lawyers only represented their clients and had no direct stakes in the other party. However, because the law was directly linked to being a lawyer, it was all too easy to have enemies. So defense lawyers hurting prosecuting lawyers was a common occurrence, and prosecuting lawyers hurting defense lawyers was also a common occurrence.

"Could it be Seth's family? His stepfather wasn't a good man." One of the lawyers said coldly, "We've looked into his background, and it's definitely not clean."

"Don't forget, Seth is also at large. The hospital reported it nine days ago, but that's only when they realized it. If you push the time he went missing back a bit earlier, it might be around the same time as when Lawyer Gu went missing." Smith was the first to think of this possibility, and he shivered. It was not because of that, but because on the day he and Gu Nianzhi went to the hospital to see the severely wounded Seth, the way Seth stared at Gu Nianzhi was very unusual.

"Ah? Does it really have something to do with that perverted jerk? What are we going to do?" No one knew what kind of scum Seth was better than this team of lawyers that knew the details of Li Haiqing's case.

"Let's call Lawyer He first. We'll call the cops after we tell him everything." Smith rubbed his forehead. "We can't delay this any further. We still haven't heard from Lawyer Gu. I'm really worried."

What was there to worry about? They looked at each other. They all understood, but no one dared to say that possibility out loud, as if it would come true if they said it. As long as they didn't say it out loud, Gu Nianzhi would be safe. Everyone was praying, hoping what they were despairing and dreading wouldn't happen to Gu Nianzhi.

They didn't hang out much, but everybody had worked well together over these past few months. They all liked this hard working and smart lawyer from Hua Xia. They wouldn't be able to handle it if anything happened to her.

"They even dare to go after lawyers. Looks like they are more corrupt than most!" The four finished talking among themselves, and Smith called He Zhichu right there. He called He Zhichu's number for a full hour, but it always ended up with his voicemail.

The other three were shocked, and one by one they took out their phones and dialed He Zhichu's numbers including his personal cell phone, work cell phone, his office, and even the Hua Xia Empire's professor building B's phone. Not one went through. They all went to voicemail.

Smith stared at his phone and said with a muffled nasal sound, "Didn't he go back home? Where is his home? The South Pole or the North Pole? He's not picking up his phone at all."

"Forget it, Smith." His colleague comforted him. "Weren't we the same when we were on break? Work phone and emails. We don't answer them." That's what a break was. Otherwise, why take a break? Wouldn't working overtime be better?

One of the lawyers added, "Plus, Lawyer He said he would be back in two weeks at the latest. Four more days, and it will be two weeks. We'll see how it goes then."

It made sense to Smith, but the thing with Gu Nianzhi couldn't wait. "Let's do this." Smith hesitated. "We still need to report this. Also, Lawyer Gu is a citizen of the Hua Xia Empire. Something has happened to her, so we still need to report this to their embassy." If Gu Nianzhi were a US citizen, they would have gone to the American embassy long ago. Too bad she wasn't. They could only go to the Hua Xia Embassy in Munich.

After discussing their plan, they split into two groups. One would report this to the police, and the other would go to the Hua Xia Empire's embassy. Smith had more dealings with the police, so he and another lawyer went to the police to report. The two other lawyers who knew basic Mandarin went to the Hua Xia Empire's embassy in Munich.

...

The person in charge of missing person cases at the Munich police station asked, "What did you say? One of your lawyers went missing?" He looked at Smith and his colleague with disbelief. "Are you playing with me?"

Smith had come there a few days ago to report Seth's escape to the Munich police station. He was urging them to catch the criminal quickly. Everyone here knew of him. Some sympathized with him, but some hated him. They felt like he was interfering with their work. Plus, their report brought shame upon the German police forces' reputation. They were very unfriendly to them. Seeing that they had come to make a report, some of the officers took pleasure in their misfortune and made things difficult for them. Smith was about to die from his anger, but he had no other choice.

"Missing? You think it's easy to fill out a missing person report? If she's underage and had been missing for 24 hours straight, you could report her missing, but unfortunately, she's already 18, an adult, so..." The Munich police department's officer kept on speaking in official jargon, refused to accept Smith's report.

Smith laughed coldly. He put both of his hands on that officer's desk and looked straight at his cloudy gray eyes. Punctuating every word, he said, "Yeah? Now, you think 18 is an adult? Then how about your bureau chief's son? He's already 21. Why do you still say he's underage? Doesn't German law say you are an adult when you're 22? Tell me, am I filing a false report, or does Germany have a new fake law?" The officer was no match for this elite American lawyer when it came to talking about laws and regulations.

The officer's face turned red after Smith publicly criticized him. He was embarrassed, but he was unable to back down. He pounded on the desk furiously and said, "If I said she's an adult, then she's an adult! Even if you take it to court and ask the judge! What does it have to do with me?"

"That's right... saying that she's missing might just be a misunderstanding. Your colleague is already a professional lawyer. Do you need to report it with such impatience?" The officer's colleague backed him up. "Plus, missing person cases can only be reported by close relatives. Which of you is her close relative?"

Seeing these high and mighty lawyers suffering made the officers secretly happy. Many times, the police had caught suspects tirelessly only to see them walk away without being charged because of smooth talking lawyers. But why didn't they realize that lawyers also often helped the police and the prosecutors, helping them charge the suspects? It could only be said that some people only remember it when people treat them badly but forget those who treat them well.

The police stopped Smith's flow, but he would not be defeated so easily. He used his hands to push his gold-colored glasses up the bridge of his nose. He spoke sternly with a sense of righteousness, "It's precisely because you said my friend is an adult that I'm making this report. You don't need to be a close relative to report that. How I see it is that you guys are just talking nonsense. What law? It's all just nonsense. You just pull a law out of nowhere, and you don't even care if what you say is correct or not."

"Huh? You trying to use reason with us? Don't you know that we're the police? We are an agency that uses violence to enforce laws." All the officers rolled their eyes and had looks of disdain on their faces. "If you want to reason, then go to the court. The door's that way. You can see yourself out."

"How can you be like this? We are just following the law. That's why we are reporting this, and you give us such an attitude?" Smith slammed his hand down on the table. "Did you think of the consequences?"

"What consequences? We are also following the law and the protocol. The law never said colleagues can report a case in place of their close relatives."

Smith and his colleague left angrily and had to think of another way.

The other two lawyers who went to the Hua Xia Empire's embassy in Munich had a much better reception than Smith and their other colleague. The moment they said they were the prosecutors of Li Haiqin's case at the front counter, the embassy's staff warmly invited them inside. The vice-consul personally received them and invited them into a small guest room.

"You must be the team of lawyers from America, right? Thank you for your entertaining argument and for helping our country's overseas student get justice. We will remember you." The vice-consul was a middle-aged man in his fifties. He took good care of himself. He looked like he was only in his early forties.

The two lawyers were modest and said, "The reason why we're here today is on behalf of one of our lawyers, Lawyer Gu, who is also a citizen of the Hua Xia Empire."

"Oh, it's Lawyer Gu! Yes, yes, yes. She's very good. I heard her arguments. Her English was very good, not a bit of accent. It was a standard Oxford accent." He chuckled as he praised Gu Nianzhi.

Seeing that this vice-consul was praising Gu Nianzhi abundantly, the two lawyers immediately struck the iron while it was hot. "Yes, yes! She's very good. Although she's young, she's very intelligent, not to mention hard working. She's the main prosecutor in charge of the arguments. She's already very experienced."

"Hahaha! Our country's female lawyer sure is good!" When the vice-consul heard it, he couldn't stop laughing, but he didn't forget what those two Americans had just said. He said, "You are here concerning her. What happened?"

The two lawyers became serious, and one of them started speaking first, "It's like this. Ten days ago, Lawyer Gu told us she was going to see a friend. She said she'd be back in ten days. However, we couldn't reach her on her phone these past ten days. Every time we called, it would go to voicemail. We found out yesterday that her phone was not in the phone service zone. We are worried."

Another lawyer continued, "We thought something was wrong and looked into Lawyer Gu's whereabouts by asking some people. We found out our company driver said ten days ago, Lawyer Gu personally told him that she was going to the Königssee for a day, and that she would call him that night to pick her up. However, that driver never received a call from her, even until now."

The vice-consul understood what they were trying to say. His smile faded. His brows furrowed as he thought about it. "You mean... Lawyer Gu..."

"Is missing" the two lawyers said simultaneously. "Our other two colleagues already went to Munich's police station to report this. We specifically came to let you know. After all, you are the embassy for Lawyer Gu's country, and you have a duty to protect your citizens overseas."

"Of course. Even if she was not hired by Mr. Bai, the department head, and she came to Germany for their fellow countryman as a normal overseas student or a contract worker, we, at the embassy, all have a duty." The vice-consul hit the table. "I'll immediately get in contact with our country after you fill out the form, then we will see how they want to proceed."