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652 She’s Still Alive

 He Zhichu rubbed his forehead with annoyance as he walked around the Königssee. It looked like it was unlikely they would find Gu Nianzhi directly, so they had to think of a different angle. Recalling how Seth appeared in the video, He Zhichu calmed down. He was really being too anxious, and too much concern would ruin things. How could he forget such an important person? Seth. Since Seth was a part of this, then his stepfather, York, must have something to do with it as well. There was no way York didn't know anything about Gu Nianzhi's disappearance, but in order to deal with someone like that, He Zhichu couldn't treat him like the driver.

Tightening his fists, he silently prayed to the night sky that Gu Nianzhi would try her best to survive. No matter what, there would always be hope as long as she stayed alive. "Back to the city." He Zhichu decided and got back inside the car. As soon as he sat down, he hadn't even caught his breath yet when he heard the phone ring. He unlocked it to take the call. "What is it?"

It was the agency helping him track the license plates for a fee. The person was very excited and spoke German quickly like a machine gun going off. "Someone called to tell us they saw those two cars!"

He Zhichu immediately replied, "Send the address to my phone. I'll go check it out right away." He happened to be out, so it was on the way to see where those cars were. He Zhichu originally assumed the enemy committed the crimes using the two cars, then ran off and abandoned them. However, it seemed like they were either too careless or overconfident that they had been discreet enough that no one would find them.

After the locations of the two cars were sent to He Zhichu, he noticed one was located not far from the outskirts of Munich, while the other was actually parked in a small clinic in Munich! "Go, we'll go to this place first." He Zhichu sent the address in the outskirts to his employees. Several Hummer SUVs sped away from the Königssee. In the dark night, they braced against the cool night wind to head towards Munich. They drove quickly and continued accelerating to pass other cars, so it only took one hour to reach the location.

The address was located in a middle-class neighborhood in the outskirts of Munich. All the homes in the area were single-family, and each one had a small garden in the front. These weren't especially large properties, but they had front and backyards as well as gardens. There were many tall pine trees there that were green all year in order to preserve the community's privacy. Even satellites had a hard time detecting the streetscape, but the downside was that it was gloomy year-round and lacked light.

He Zhichu didn't get out of the car and used the lowered window to look at the house before them. It was a very large, nondescript house that was typical of those in the outskirts of Munich. It wasn't fancy or discreet, and it didn't stand out from the rest of the community. There was a generic flowerbed in the front planted with bougainvillea as well as several rose bushes that bloomed colorfully. It was flamboyant yet unremarkable. They might not have been able to find this place if the license plate hadn't been found parked there. He Zhichu looked away and commanded his subordinates, "Go take a look."

A bodyguard got out of the car and went to the front door to ring the doorbell. He pressed it for a long time, but no one came out. The neighbor heard it and came out to the yard to watch them with curiosity. The bodyguard went over to greet him and asked, "Hello, may I ask if you know if this family is home?"

The neighbor shook his head with a smile. "I haven't seen anybody coming out of this house for a while now. I think they moved away."

"Moved away?" The bodyguard was shocked but still thanked the neighbor and came back to He Zhichu to report.

He Zhichu frowned and poked his head out from the car to study the house again. "Take people there to have a look." The bodyguard nodded and turned to ask several physically adept colleagues to vault over the walls to enter the yard. The neighbor stared, wide-eyed.

Another bodyguard explained to him with a chuckle, "That family owes our boss money and hasn't paid it back or returned our calls. He cancelled his number recently, so we came by to have a look."

The neighbor looked blankly at the obviously unkind-looking group of people and immediately labeled them as loan sharks. "Oh, then you go ahead. I'll be going now," he stuttered and dashed back into his house.

The bodyguard was unperturbed and noted the neighbor's house number just in case, then went back inside to see how his colleagues were doing. Ten minutes later, the person who jumped over the wall reported back, "There really isn't anyone inside, just a few cars parked in the back. One of them had the plate we were tracking, but it doesn't look like there are any clues."

"It was the car in the back," someone chimed in and everyone understood. The car parked at the villa wasn't the one Gu Nianzhi was forced into but the one following it. There shouldn't be clues in it, but He Zhichu still instructed them to be sure. "Go inside and look, take photos." Several bodyguards went back inside and took many photos of the car inside and outside. They then made several notations and damaged the engine before jumping over the wall again.

He Zhichu looked at all the photos they took one by one but didn't notice anything amiss. He knew it looked like the only real clue would be from the car that Gu Nianzhi was stuffed into on the video. He Zhichu put away the photos and didn't say anything more before waving them all back into the car. "Go check out the clinic in the city."

By the time they arrived at the small clinic in downtown Munich, they saw that it had been completely emptied. Several cars were parked behind the building, and one of them was the one Gu Nianzhi had been forced into! It was the one Seth drove! He Zhichu got out of the car this time and personally went up to the car. Under the night sky, he looked at the car with an expression as cold as Antarctica. Just one look would freeze someone to death. After a long moment, he finally gritted out from between clenched teeth, his voice as cold as ice, "Open it." This time, the subordinates he brought all had special skills in this regard. For example, they were able to pry open car doors even without a key.

One bodyguard went over and used a two-foot-long, half-inch-wide telescopic ruler and inserted it in the car's door handle. Using precise movements, he pried open the car door. He Zhichu was the first to go inside. The interior had obviously been newly cleaned, and the seats were all new. However, the exterior was so worn down that the new interior appeared very jarring. It looked like someone had switched out the entire interior.

He Zhichu exhaled faintly. "Bring this car back for forensic analysis." He then got out of the car and went back to his own. Propping his head up with one hand, he thought about the days' progress. First, Gu Nianzhi had been taken from the Königssee. But where was she taken after? It was most likely she was taken into the Alps, but why did they take her there? They had found both cars that had been used to kidnap her, and this meant Gu Nianzhi didn't stay with the cars. There were only two possiblities. One, they directly drove into the mountains after leaving the Königssee, then came back. Two, after leaving the Königssee, they changed vehicles, so neither of these cars went to the mountains, or they went into the mountains and swapped cars.

The first possibility would be the most dangerous one. If they went into the Alps and came out, but Nianzhi had disappeared, and the car interior was replaced, then the only explanation was that there was a fatal conflict in the car that left permanent traces, so the enemy had to completely replace the interior of the car. But under what circumstances would there be a fatal conflict? There was no question that Nianzhi, the silly girl, had struggled for her life... He Zhichu's eyes turned red at this thought.

The last time he had been in so much pain was seven years ago when Nianzhi disappeared. He hadn't cried in so many years, and this time, it was still because of her. He Zhichu tried to compose himself. Closing his eyes, he covered them with his hand and sat there quietly to suppress the bitter tears. His heart rate resumed its normal rhythm, and he continued to contemplate the second possibility: the two cars didn't go directly into the mountains or had been swapped after going to the mountains. This possibility was a bit better than the first, and that also meant Nianzhi had a higher likelihood of surviving, although it was also more likely she had been tortured...

In that moment, He Zhichi actually didn't know whether he wished for Nianzhi to survive no matter what or perish without suffering heartbreaking torture. Regardless of the outcome, it would haunt Nianzhi for the rest of her life. He Zhichu pressed his lips together. This time, he would take her home, and no one could stop him. No matter if she was dead or alive, he would take her home and be with her forever. He Zhichu thought about it the entire way back, and time passed quickly. Soon, they arrived back at the Hilton Hotel.

One bodyguard came over to ask He Zhichu, "Mr. He, what do you plan to do?"

They towed the car using the Hummer SUV, and it was parked in the hotel's parking lot. He Zhichu got out of the car and glanced at it. "Do a forensic analysis on it, then hand it over to the police."

"Yes, Mr. He." The captain of the bodyguards saluted, his military habit emerging.

He Zhichu glanced at him. "You don't need to do that. You've already retired."

"Haha... I'll try not to, Mr. He." He had just retired and become a mercenary, so he still had a strong sense of military habits.

"Yeah, tell your subordinates that the forensic analysis of the car is to be completed tonight. Also, I've booked the entire 16th floor of the Hilton Hotel for you and your men. You can stay there," He Zhichu said and walked away. As for the forensic analysis of the car, the mercenaries had experts in that regard, so He Zhichu didn't need to worry. He just had to go back to his room and await results.

He took four bodyguards with him to the room, and Smith and the three other lawyers came over to speak with him. He Zhichu was their boss, after all, and he had taken them to Germany for this case, but they ended up losing a colleague and felt horrible about it. He Zhichu saw them but didn't invite them to sit down. He was already completely exhausted and was in no mood to entertain these irrelevant people. He stood by the window and resumed his typical cool demeanor, both hands in his trouser pockets as he asked briskly, "What do you want?"

"...Lawyer He, do you need us to help with anything?" Smith came forward to ask, "I can go to the police station again to rush them with the Seth situation. It's already been ten days since he escaped."

He Zhichu shook his head. "I already said that you guys don't need to get involved in this. I have my own plans. Go back, if you have nothing to do, you can rush the courts to make a decision on the Li Haiqing case. If they delay the sentencing, then we can take the judge to the next level of court." He Zhichu appeared quite ruthless, as though he were going to give hell to whomever displeased him.

Smith and the lawyers were capable of this, so they immediately exclaimed, "Yes, sir! Lawyer He, we won't do anything but make sure the court will make a decision on the first trial!"

The results of the forensic analysis were set on He Zhichu's desk the next morning. Firstly, the tires on both cars were tested and were proven to have entered the Alps. There were traces of dirt exclusive to the mountain roads by the Alps found in the tire treads. Also, by spraying luminol on the car, they determined there were indeed bloodstains in the car. The forensic expert determined there was a trace of a physical struggle in the car, and the bottoms of the seats had been derailed by an external force, then later corrected.

He Zhichu's heart caught in his throat when he heard there were bloodstains. However, he sighed in relief as he continued reading the report because the blood type wasn't Gu Nianzhi's. Gu Nianzhi was the universal donor type O, and the blood found in the car was type A. If He Zhichu recalled correctly, the scumbag Seth was Type A, so he immediately had someone ask the courts for Seth's blood sample for comparative analysis. The DNA test proved that the bloodstains in the car belonged to Seth! There had been a serious altercation in the car, but Seth was the one who had bled, not Gu Nianzhi. Could it be inferred that it was Seth and not Gu Nianzhi who had suffered?! At that thought, He Zhichu's anxious mood finally found some reprieve. Closing his eyes, he considered the entire situation from start to finish again, including the new clues and evidence. He opened his eyes and shifted his gaze to the Alps in the distance. What on earth happened inside those two cars? Where was Nianzhi?

...

He Zhichu had returned to Germany to discreetly begin searching for Gu Nianzhi when she had just been carried out of the Alps by Reinitz. She was sick for two days but did not have a high fever, only a low one that refused to break. It wasn't considered a serious illness, and she didn't lose consciousness, but she was physically weak and panted heavily after walking a long distance. Reinitz saw it would be quicker to carry her as opposed to all the stops they were making. They had been living in the wilderness for two days, and thanks to Reinitz's strong survival skills, they were able to make it out. However, the two days of physical overexertion had been tough on even a strong man like Reinitz. He had lost much weight, his blonde hair was tangled, and his face was covered with pale gold stubble. Only his stunning blue eyes appeared even brighter than before.

"Thirsty?" Reinitz carefully set Gu Nainzhi down and sat with his back against a large rock. "I have some water here." He had two bottles of spring water in his duffel bag, and for the past two days, only Gu Nianzhi had been drinking from them. Reinitz always looked for mountain springs or water from rivers and lakes. Gu Nianzhi looked at the scant amount left in the bottle. Because she had a low fever the entire time, she easily felt parched and drank more water. She also knew Reinitz had given both bottles of the precious mineral water to her while they were in the wilderness. Looking at Reinitz's gaunt cheeks, she pushed it to him for him to drink.

Reinitz understood her intentions, and his blue eyes shone even brighter. "I'm not thirsty. Here, you have it." He unscrewed the cap and carefully supported Gu Nianzhi's neck and set the water bottle to her cracked lips. "Open your mouth." Gu Nianzhi could only open her mouth slowly and allow Reinitz to give her water. She only took a sip to moisten her lips then shook her head. "I don't want it."

Reinitz laughed, his eyes sparkling like starlight. "Drink it. We're about to get out right away."

"Oh? Really?!" Gu Nianzhi was extremely excited. They had been wandering around the Alps for more than ten days, and she felt she was already at her physical limit. That was why she had gotten ill right before their victory. Stabilizing herself against Reinitz, she wobbled up and looked down to where the mountain path snaked forward. At the end of the mountain road was an asphalt road with a pretty little town at the end. "We really... made it out." Gu Nianzhi was ecstatic and got so excited that her temple started to throb, and her blood pressure dropped sharply. Soon afterwards, she saw darkness and passed out.

Reintiz quickly supported her and carried her on his back to make his way down the mountain. He originally thought the way down would be exhausting and that he would be relieved once they got off the mountain. But as he went down, he discovered that perhaps this was the sweetest burden he would ever have in his life. Reinitz was a bit stunned as he carried Gu Nianzhi, taking his time with each step and walking steadily. Though the trek should have only taken half a day, he took nearly a whole day.

It was midnight by the time they got to the small town. He carried Gu Nianzhi to the only clinic in the entire town, and there was a small emergency room. The doctor there had a large beard. He checked Gu Nainzhi's blood pressure and was so shocked, his eyes bulged against his glasses. "Such low blood pressure! Can she even wake up?! Why did you wait so long to take her to the hospital?! Do you want to kill her?!" This was even more serious than a stroke!

Reinitz was also shocked when he saw the numbers displayed on the doctor's blood pressure monitor. He was stunned for half a minute, his mind completely blank and unable to focus. The bearded doctor poked his shoulder, and he finally responded, "Then can you check if she's still alive?" Reinitz found himself choking when he said the word "alive."