Book 3 Chapter 9 – Master Thieves
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don’t read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
“Shangbei Historical Museum, established in 1952, occupying 39 200 square meters, 11 000 of which is indoor. Two floors underground and five above, for a height of 29.5 meters. There are eleven dedicated collections and three galleries. The exposition area alone amounts to 2 800 square meters, and there are over one million artifacts here, 120 000 of which are top-class. This place alone can be said to hold half of our country’s historical collection.” Eyeglasses looked at the huge, spherical dome through the inked glass of the driver’s window and summarized the information he had gathered.
If there are equipments within the domain, we would find them here.” Qing Linglong examined the building with a pair of binoculars.
Li Yiming left the planning entirely to Qing Linglong and Eyeglasses. With her strategies and his ability to gather information, all he needed to do was follow instructions: at least he was aware of his own limitations. He was most preoccupied by Liu Meng and Qing Qiaoqiao. After the two sat down together, they spent most of their time complimenting each other and acted like two best friends who had been separated for a long time. However, when Li Yiming listened to the tone with which they expressed their mutual admiration, he could not help but notice a strong dissonance, a strange feeling that made him doubt their sincerity. Qing Linglong smiled when she looked back at the two, obviously aware of what was happening, but did not do anything to break them apart.
“What’s the plan?” Li Yiming asked. ‘I hope that’s it’s not just busting into the museum with AK-47s. But then again, with Qing Qiaoqiao’s blowing up the car last time, this might just be the plan.’
“Let’s have a look inside first. We’ll search for artifacts of interest and plan accordingly.”
“Then we should hurry, the museum closes in two hours.”
“Let’s split up into pairs, shall we? We should avoid staying alone as much as possible,” Grandma Wang proposed, prudent as she always was.
“How about I stay with sis Liu Meng? I’m having a fun time chatting with her.” Qing Qiaoqiao voiced her opinion before Li Yiming could say anything.
“I also want to stay with Qiaoqiao. Is that okay?” Liu Meng asked Li Yiming.
Li Yiming did not know what to say. He had a bad feeling about the two teaming up, and, if it was up for him to decide, he would have kept them apart no matter what.
“It’s a casual walk, just be a little careful, okay?” Qing Linglong did not mind the two.
“Alright. Yiming, will you keep an old lady company?” Curiously, a smile climbed up Grandma Wang’s usually cold and gloomy face.
“Let’s go then. Eyeglasses?”
“Please don’t lose this.” Eyeglasses took out some black cases from his silver suitcase. Li Yiming now finally knew where these came from, only this time it was without the glasses. “I didn’t have time to resupply, so we’re going to have to make do with this,” Eyeglasses added.
With Eyeglasses’ equipment in their ears, the group split into three pairs and each proceeded toward the gate of the museum. When Li Yiming and Grandma Wang reached the entrance, Li Yiming had to regretfully pull out three hundred yuan from his own wallet to purchase two tickets. After all, he could let not let someone older than his own mother pay for them. He was about to enter the museum with the tickets, but turned around when he realized that Grandma Wang was not following him. Instead, she stood still at the entrance.
“There are some wheelchairs there. How about we rent one so we don’t have to wait in line?” Grandma Wang said without a hint of guilt.
A drop of cold sweat ran down Li Yiming’s forehead. ‘Wow, these people…’
Li Yiming pushed Grandma Wang into the “Green Corridor” for express entry. They bumped into Eyeglasses and Qing Linglong inside. Eyeglasses actually had a disability card with him. ‘I wonder how he would explain it to police if they ever catch him driving,’ Li Yiming grumbled. 1
Li Yiming walked past Qing Linglong, as if they did not know each other, and made for the fifth floor directly: they had split the work according to the floors of the museum. There were many visitors, and, of course, a kind grandson coming here with his grandmother would not be an unusual sight.
“Are all of these real? A question suddenly occurred to Li Yiming. He had heard from others before that most artifacts on display in a museum, especially those who were very valuable, were replicates, and the real thing would be hidden or stored somewhere else. ‘What if after all the efforts I only get a fake one?’
“I don’t know about the real world, but these have to be real,” Grandma Wang answered in a monotonous voice. She had her eyes closed the entire time, as if she had fallen asleep.
“If we bring a couple out of the domain, wouldn’t we be rich then?” Li Yiming thought about his bank-robbing plan and found the current method to be more profitable, especially since they were about to steal things anyways.
“Bring out and sell?” Grandma Wang looked at Li Yiming questioningly, making sure that he was not kidding.
“I mean, these are precious artifacts, right?” Li Yiming himself was rather confused when he noticed Grandma Wang’s disapproval. ‘So it’s okay to rob a bank, but not okay to sell artifacts?’
“There’s a difference between selling precious items to collectors and selling national treasures…” Grandma Wang shut her eyes again after another terse explanation.
‘Oh, right.’ Li Yiming realized his mistake. The artifacts here were all owned by the country, and, if he took them and tried to sell them outside of the domain… ‘Ah, well, I’ll have to stick with the bank then. Simple and direct.’
“Yiming,” Grandma Wang suddenly called him with a serious voice. She stared at a set of armor from the Song Dynasty that was display to their left. Li Yiming scrutinized the item and soon noticed a weak glow that shrouded it. However, the other visitors in the museum seemed to be completely oblivious to it. ‘Is this a guardian’s equipment?’
“5A09534,” Grandma said a string of a number in a low voice and looked elsewhere. Li Yiming glanced at the serial number carved on the label next to the item and understood what she meant. He pushed her forward.
“2C24324.” Eyeglasses’ voice came through the earphone.
* * *
“Thirteen items in total, even if we missed some, it probably wouldn’t be a big deal.” After their visit, they met in a coffee shop across the street. Eyeglasses compiled the barcode numbers into his computer and marked the locations down on a rendered 3-D model.”
“Thirteen? It would be great if we could get all of them.” Qing Linglong sipped her coffee gracefully, as she always did, but even her good manners could not hide her eager excitement.
Li Yiming was busy finishing off his dessert. He was rather irritated by the fact that the coffee shop did not sell chicken rice, since he was really hungry from not having been able to take a single bite out of his “free” meal back in the restaurant earlier. Liu Meng and Qing Qiaoqiao sat on opposite sides of the table, each sunken into their own thoughts.
“The best way I can think of right now is to sneak into the museum during night time. I’ve analyzed their security system. It’s well-designed, but rather meaningless against us. Everything can be done quickly if we’re careful.” Eyeglasses rotated the 3-D model of the museum in his computer. Data and graphs appeared on the screen. Li Yiming glanced at it without understanding anything.
“Sneak in? Why don’t we just make Qing Qiaoqiao charm someone in the museum?” Li Yiming mumbled while chewing on his cake. He remembered just how effective and scary Qing Qiaoqiao’s talent was.
“Can’t do it. I saw someone who’s probably a manager in the museum. He had a mark on him that will shield him from being influenced. That’s probably a limitation imposed by the domain.” Qing Qiaoqiao picked up a doughnut from Li Yiming’s plate and glanced at Liu Meng before taking a bite from it.
“That’s normal, otherwise it would be too easy for those with that kind of talent,” Grandma Wang explained.
“Well, then I guess our only option is to steal. We’d cause far too much trouble if we were to rob the museum directly,” Li Yiming remembered Li Huaibei’s counsel: he should not destroy the forest.
“It shouldn’t be too hard, should it?” Liu Meng snatched a half-finished piece of cake from Li Yiming’s hand, took a bite out of it and returned a challenging glance at Qing Qiaoqiao.
“No, it shouldn’t be. Let’s split the work,” Eyeglasses said with a repressed smile. He pushed his laptop to the center of the table. “There are thirteen targets. Three on the fifth floor, three on the fourth floor, two on the third floor, one on the second floor, two on the first floor and two underground. There’s another floor underground, but since it’s not open right now, I’d recommend that we play it safe and get our hands on the ones we’ve spotted. I’ve devised three ways to infiltrate the museum based on the internal layouts and the information I’ve gathered about the security personnel. Have a look.” After a few more clicks and taps on the keyboard, thirteen red dots were displayed on the 3-D hologram, with three green lines going through each of them.
“The first entryway is through the sewers into the underground floor. I can take care of the infrared and the photodetector-based sensors there. Then, you’ll just need to follow this path, turn here… and get out with five items from the terrace on the second floor.” Eyeglasses paused briefly, waited for any opposition, and continued when he saw that there was none.
“The second path is through the emergency exit on the side of the building on the ground level. There are four bodyguards there, so we’re going to have to put Qiaoqiao. Also, I’ll shut down all the surveillance camera in the meantime, so you don’t have to worry about getting spotted. After going through here, here and there, you’ll exit from another emergency exit on the first floor.” Eyeglasses stopped again and looked at Qiaoqiao, who nodded approvingly.
“The third and final route is the hardest. The plan is to enter through the roof, and, since the glass panes there are bulletproof, we’re going to need to blow a hole in it with controlled explosives. The calculation of the load will need to be minute. Also…” Eyeglasses looked at Li Yiming. “You’ll need to reach the roof via the skyscraper on the other side of the public square, since there are light projectors around the museum and they would make climbing the walls too risky.”
“From the skyscraper?” Li Yiming blurted out; the glance from Eyeglasses was hinting at him doing the work.
“You can slide down on a cable.”
“Aren’t there other entrances? Why take such a high risk?” Li Yiming was not ready to yield.
“After the closing of the museum, internal walls will be lowered to compartmentalize the museum halls. That makes the roof entrance the only choice, especially given the patrol data I’ve obtained.”
Li Yiming found no other excuse. He sipped on his coffee. Its bitterness echoed his frustration.
“There are 134 infrared motion sensors, 78 weight sensors, 83 photosensors, 21 heat sensors and 69 touch alarms. All of the electronics can be ignored, but the patrol of security once every forty-five minutes cannot be. The alarm system is connected to the four police commissariats nearby, so whenever triggered, it’ll only take three minutes before the police arrive.”
‘And that’s supposed to be easy?’ Li Yiming took another sip of his coffee without thinking.
“Well, that’s the plan. Let’s split up the work then. Eyeglasses has to stay here for remote control and support, and Qiaoqiao’s choice is already made. Volunteers for the remaining two?” Qing Linglong looked at Li Yiming as she asked the question.
“Let’s send Liu Meng in with Qiaoqiao,” Li Yiming proposed, but he did not have much of a choice. ‘With Qiaoqiao’s charming ability, that should be the safest option. What else am I going to propose, make her dive the sewers or try an acrobatic stunt?’
“And the roof…” Qing Linglong waited for an answer.
“I’ll go.” Li Yiming answered unwillingly.
“Well then, Grandma Wang and I will have to go through the sewers then.” Qing Linglong put down her cup as if she had just the worst job. Grandma Wang shrugged her shoulders. Liu Meng seemed a little worried.
“It’s okay, it’ll be just like one of those in an amusement park, except a little bit higher in the air,” Li Yiming reassured her.
Anyone played Uncharted or Payday 2 here… This museum “mission” reminds me of an infinite amount of frustration of getting wrecked by level design x.x
- The “Green Corridor” is a common feature found in public buildings, government offices, etc. that allows disabled people, the elderly etc. To shorten their wait in line. ↩