Part 8: Trailing and Tracking
BGM: Intel Investigation Underway
05/10 (THU), Noon
Later that day, Odette gets me to start tailing him. Needless to say, this is for the sake of getting information regarding his regret. Divine Selection takes place at 12 p.m. on Sunday, JST, so we'll be in a good spot if we manage to get all three pieces of info on him before then. As for why I'm tailing him on my own, well... Odette's down with a hangover. Not in the way you'd imagine, though. She ain't suffering in bed- she's pissed off and screaming at everyone and everything. Can't believe she's making me second-guess her usefulness just one day later.
Odette, this ain't good!
Not long after I start tailing him, I have to rush back to the hotel to get Odette. Ro's company was located in one of those fancy high-class buildings in the middle of Beijing. I lost sight of him thanks to it being so crowded, but I managed to learn his plans. A few minutes after entering the building, he made his way out. Acting as someone there on official business, I asked the front desk about his schedule, to which they replied he was leaving on a business trip.
They were hesitant about revealing the destination at first, but I managed to get them to reveal that he'd be staying in Taiwan for three days while visiting their local branch. Turns out we can hop on the same flight as him if we haul ass over to the airport.
He's on his way to Taiwan, so get movin'! We're going after him!
I knock on her door, fully expecting her to flip out at me. Imagine my surprise when she struts out of the room allr eady to go, luggage and all. As an aside, our phones and credit cards were perfectly intact, despite our washing up ashore, so we didn't have any issue buying whatever gear we needed.
I just told the front desk that we'd be checking out.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but I was fully aware of his plans when we hashed things out last night.
Why'd you get me to tail him, then?
Ain't much of a co-op if I'm doing all the ops, know what I mean? I'd planned on calling the whole thing off if you couldn't get your hands on such basic info.
She drops that bombshell on me like it's a casual greeting. The fact that she doesn't mention what she'd do with me if I failed her little test proves how twisted she is. Why do I gotta be tested in the first place?!
You're a bit too sly for your own good.
What was that?
We leave the hotel after I rush to get my stuff together.
BGM: Chilling With Sidekicks
05/10 (THU), Night
Having made it on time to catch the same flight as Ro, we make our way to our hotel in Taiwan after landing. It's the same hotel he's staying in, so we choose a room far enough away from his, and then discuss our next move over some wine and cheese.
Gotta hand it to ya, I didn't think you'd try to find him on the flight itself.
Well, I couldn't find him in the flight's lobby since he had the nerve to fly business class. Then again, it's probably best that he did, since that stomach of his would just piss off everyone in economy. Glad I was able to upgrade to business class myself, though. Managed to tail him from the arrival lounge to his hotel because of that.
Meanwhile, I was stranded in economy... You do realize the other participants know your face, right? What would you have done if he noticed and started to panic?
He didn't seem bothered. Probably doesn't expect other participants to make their way out to China to find him. In fact, the way he's working and going about his daily life may mean that he doesn't actually believe that Divine Selection's happening.
True, most adults wouldn't believe that crap. Only reason I did is because we both washed ashore together.
She grins nihilistically before continuing.
Surely you'd have some questions about how you're still alive if you're aware that you died, though. Seems like enough to believe that this whole situation's for real.
Pretty sure you're the only one with enough screws loose to reach that conclusion. More importantly... Something's fishy about how long he's staying here, wouldn't you say?
I grab some squares of cheese as I pose that question to her. Once I confirm that she's reacted to it, I continue...
The people at his work said he'd be gone for two nights and three days, but the front desk here said he's only here for tonight.
I hope you made sure he won't find out about your snooping.
Damn right I did. I started shouting at them about how he's being too noisy and that they should fix things, only for them to tell me to deal with it since he's leaving in the morning.
Hmm, I guess that works. Still, that's odd... From what I gathered, he's visiting the Taiwan branch tomorrow, and one of their factories the day after. This hotel is pretty ideal for getting to both locations, too... Oh, well. Just tail him again tomorrow. I'll do my own digging in the meantime.
Mind being a bit more specific?
Let's forget about it for now and focus on tonight's grub. I still haven't had Taiwanese food yet, so I'm curious how it stacks up against good ol' Mediterranean.
Welp, guess we're best off not rushing things and messing it all up.
We split the rest of the wine between us and finish off the cheese.
Hey, just to be clear, Mediterranean cuisine belongs to Italy and not France. If anyone's gonna compare its quality to the seafood here, then it's me.
BGM: Intel Investigation Underway
05/11 (FRI), Night
The major thing I take away from yesterday's activities is that, surprisingly, Taiwanese food ain't half bad. Yeah, they could work on their presentation a bit, but those steamed shrimp buns were delicious. Could see myself getting hooked on those rice noodles, too. Don't lemme forget the spicy stuff, either. Adding some doubanjiang and tianmianjiang really created a perfect and rich balance between sweet and sour. Oops, that's enough Odette impressions for one day.
Even though my stomach regrets eating so much last night, here I am in the hotel's parking lot early in the morning waiting for Ro. Once I see him leave in a taxi, I make sure to follow. And now I've been sitting around outside his company's building for a good part of the day. Boring as hell, but I'm used to waiting by this point. The streets of Taiwan really are an interesting sight, though. You can get a good hour's worth of entertainment from peoplewatching. Too bad I still got another seven hours left...
After what feels like an eternity, I finally spot him leaving the building.
Here we go.
I figure he'll make his way back by taxi too, but it looks like he's hoofing it instead. It's entirely possible that the people at the front desk told me he'd only be staying one night just to get rid of me. But the fact that he's not going straight back by taxi proves nothing. He could be going out for a meal with someone first- that much is normal for a corporate bigwig like him.
As it turns out, he ends up at an Italian restaurant in town. A ristorante, to be accurate. Italian restaurants are split into ristorantes, trattorias, and osterias. Ristorantes are the fanciest of the three.
Heh. At least he's got good taste.
The glass paneling makes the restaurant easy to keep an eye on, so I waltz into a cafe directly across the street. It's got glass paneling as well, so there's no danger of losing track of him. I order an espresso and dump plenty of sugar into it. It's gonna be a struggle to make this last as long as a ristorante meal, but I gotta deal with it. As far as I can tell, it seems like a real fancy joint. Looks like he's made a reservation, judging by how he gets taken to his seat by one of the staff right away. Soon after, someone takes a seat across from him. A young woman. She's wearing one of those glitzy red dresses that dirty old geezers drool over. I'm pretty sure he's got a family, but it doesn't take much for me to catch on to what this is about. She ain't my type, but there's no denying that she's a looker. Doesn't seem like a random hostess, either.
Hardly surprising, considering the kind of person he is, I guess.
Having discovered their relationship, I spend the rest of my time watching them enjoy their meal. Guess he's picked out a wine beforehand. Gotta hand it to him. Red wine like that will send any woman over the moon, assuming they've got good taste. It's just a shame that he's using his bread to wipe up the leftover pasta sauce. You're gonna make that woman feel ashamed to be with you, buddy.
The ristorante seems like it's more on the expensive end compared to the others around here, too. Chances are he started going to these types of places more often once he hit a certain age. He has the appropriate manners, but sticking to 'em and also dropping old habits can prove to be tricky. Not like anyone's gonna call him out for it, considering his age and position.
Three hours pass before they finish eating and enjoying their after-dinner espresso. I get myself ready to leave while Ro pays for the whole thing by card. Fortunately, I know exactly what their plan is after this. Probably 'cuz I'd do the same thing. Once they leave and get into a taxi, I jump into another one and follow them. They end up making their way back to the woman's apartment, so after I confirm that they've gone inside, I return to the hotel. I dunno much about Taiwanese dogs, but some breed I'd never seen before came out to greet them both when they arrived at her place.
BGM: Chilling With Sidekicks
05/11 (FRI), Night
Took your damn time.
Part of the job. How'd things go on your end?
She waves her hand in dismissal. Guess she wasn't able to learn anything interesting, so now she's pissed off. Meanwhile, I'm feeling pretty great because I've gotten my hands on some crucial info.
Looks like I'm the only one who came outta this with more info, then.
Quit bragging and spit it out, asshole.
Yup, she's pissed all right. I heave a quick sigh before explaining what I saw.
BGM: Intel Investigation Underway
Our respectable businessman was out meeting a woman.
...Not family, I assume. His wife and three kids should still be in Beijing.
Right. She was a young one. No doubt she's his lover, considering they shared a little kiss before heading into her apartment.
Ugh. What a scumbag.
Right? The fatty acts all respectable when he's got a hot little dish on the side. Even her dog seems attached to him, so there's no doubt he visits often.
Damn... But I was talking about you. What kinda person spies on a middle-aged man's affairs like that?
Look, you can't accuse me of whatever you want just 'cuz you're pissed off. Anyway, it's pretty much a given that his regret has to do with his lover.
Our last two attempts were regarding his family and work, but neither caused a card to appear. It might've been because we weren't entirely certain, but a part of me felt that we just weren't on the right track. I'm confident about this one, too, which is why I direct my comment to the book, expecting it to churn out a card for me.
C'mon! What is this crap? It's gotta be his lover!
All that follows is a brief period of absolute silence, sans the sound of the air conditioning humming away in the background.
...Looks like you didn't dig deep enough. The fact that nothing happened despite your misplaced confidence proves you're wrong.
I have no comeback. All I can do is begrudgingly jam a cigarette in my mouth.
Mind going to the smoking area? I really can't handle the smell of those things.
Ugh... Guess we gotta start over. Want me to tail him again tomorrow?
She flashes me her standard grin in response.
I guess you can have fun doing that again. Meanwhile, I'm gonna make sure I get the right dirt on him this time around.
Whatever. Can't believe he's screwing around with his lover while I'm stuck here.
I find myself eyeing Odette after saying that, but... nah. I wouldn't go at it with someone like her even if she asked. I head out to have a smoke after that, a little annoyed at myself for even considering that option.