Once they entered the secret passage, Lian Jun's progress bar began to rapidly retreat, quickly dropping to 500, ensuring complete safety. Shi Jin's progress bar also followed suit, returning to 690.
Seeing this, Shi Jin breathed a sigh of relief and gritted his teeth, while also forming a suspicion in his mind. He thought to himself, "Your Dearest's progress bar retreats to 500 every time a crisis is resolved, but what about the remaining 500...?"
Xiao Si chimed in, "Jin Jin, do you have any ideas?"
Shi Jin glanced at Lian Jun, who was being pushed ahead by Number Three, and speculated, "Could the remaining 500 be related to Lian Jun's physical condition?"
"I think Jin Jin is right! Jin Jin is so smart! Jin Jin is my favorite!" Xiao Si enthusiastically flattered, trying to make Shi Jin happy.
After finally managing to regain his composure, Shi Jin's heart was almost knocked down again by Xiao Si's confession. He quickly pinched himself to stay calm and asked, "What's wrong with your Dearest's health? Is he sick?"
Xiao Si's tone became serious as he replied, "No, he was born with a weak constitution and has some issues with his nerves."
"What does that mean?" Shi Jin furrowed his brows.
Xiao Si sighed and explained in detail, "My Baby was born prematurely and has always had poor health. His legs have always been weak since birth, but it wasn't as severe as it is now. He used to be able to walk normally and do some basic exercises to strengthen his body, but he couldn't engage in intense physical activity for long periods of time. After intense exercise, his legs would spasm and he would feel uncomfortable for a long time.
"Actually, with my Baby's perseverance and effort, it's only a matter of time before he can slowly improve his physical condition. However, a few years ago, something happened that 'destroyed' everything. My Baby was secretly attacked and exposed to a new type of nerve toxin. He almost died, and although the poison was barely neutralized, it still caused irreparable damage to his body, which completely collapsed."
Shi Jin's brow furrowed tighter as he continued to ask, "Then his legs..."
"Now he can walk, but only for a few steps. And because of the residual toxins, the nerves in his legs have become extremely sensitive. Have you heard of the story of dancing on the tip of a knife? That's probably how it feels for him to walk now."
Dancing on the tip of a knife.
Shi Jin couldn't help but glance again at Lian Jun sitting in the wheelchair ahead. He pondered for a while, then his furrowed brows slowly relaxed as he asked, "Xiao Si, is it possible for there to be a lethal factor in the progress bar that cannot be eliminated?"
Xiao Si was taken aback by the question and replied, "No, there isn't. Otherwise, this game would be too unfair for you and the Baby."
"Then that's alright!" Shi Jin's spirits lifted as he exclaimed happily, "Since there are no fatal factors that cannot be eliminated, it means that your Baby's body can still be saved. As long as we find the right method, he will definitely become healthy again!"
Xiao Si was stunned for a few seconds, but then it too realized what Shi Jin meant and laughed foolishly, saying, "Yes, yes! The progress bar doesn't lie. If the remaining 500 progress bar really is related to his body... Ah, ah, ah, Jin Jin, you're so good! Jin Jin, I love you! Jin Jin, will you have little monkey babies with my Baby--"
Shi Jin's tone was faint, "Want to try self-harm?"
"...Jin Jin, we've reached the end of the secret passage," Xiao Si changed the subject, saving itself from punishment. Shi Jin looked up and saw that the secret passage had come to an end, with an iron door standing quietly.
Number Three went to open the door, while Lian Jun slid his wheelchair to face Shi Jin from behind and asked, "Why so quiet? What are you thinking about?"
Shi Jin looked at him, took in his frail body and pale complexion, and sighed with mixed emotions. He replied, "I'm thinking about whether you'll give me a bonus this month. After all, I helped you capture Number Four."
Lian Jun didn't expect such an answer and was silent for a few seconds. He then pointed to the armrest of his wheelchair and continued, "What kind of bonus do you want? Power? Money? Or...freedom?"
Huh? So a bonus doesn't just mean cash, but can also have other meanings?
Shi Jin was puzzled and couldn't understand the hidden meaning in Lian Jun's words. Just as he was about to offer to double his salary, he thought of something and swallowed his words back. He confirmed and asked, "This bonus, no matter what I say, you will give it to me, right?"
As soon as he asked this question, Lian Jun's fingers tapping on the armrest stopped, and Number Three by the door and Number Two behind the door also stopped talking and turned their heads to look at him.
Shi Jin was confused and asked, "What's wrong with you guys? Did I say something strange?"
"No," Lian Jun controlled his emotions, waved his hand to let Number Three and Number Two look away, and promised, "What do you want? As long as you ask, I will agree."
With this assurance, Shi Jin felt relieved and said, "Then I want--"
A loud explosion suddenly came from afar, causing Shi Jin's words to be held back. He turned his head towards the direction of the sound, but saw nothing. Behind the secret door was a small medical room with no windows for him to observe the outside world.
Lian Jun frowned and ordered Number Two and Number Three to deal with the remnant companions of Number Four who were still causing trouble outside. He moved his wheelchair closer to Shi Jin and said, "Don't be distracted, Shi Jin. What do you want?"
He showed an unexpected persistence towards this question, as if he wouldn't give up until he got an answer.
Shi Jin turned his head again and tried to speak.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
A series of intense explosions echoed through the air, each one coming from a different direction. Shi Jin became anxious and cried out, "Could our orchard have been bombed away by Number Four's people? My pillow is still in the dormitory building!"
The constant interruptions of the explosions made Lian Jun lose his patience. He grabbed Shi Jin's arm and squeezed it hard to regain his attention. In a deep voice, he asked, "Shi Jin, what do you really want?"
Shi Jin shivered from Lian Jun's cold hand and finally realized that something was wrong with his emotions. He wanted to pull his arm back but held back and instead, grabbed Lian Jun's hand and rubbed it gently to warm him up.
He replied, "Why are you in such a hurry? I just want to have dinner with you every day. And why is your hand so cold? It's not that cold today."
Having meals together every day?
Lian Jun was stunned, looking at his hand that had just been gently rubbed by him. His eyes flickered for a few seconds, and his tense arm slowly relaxed. He subtly closed the distance between them and asked, as if coaxing him, "So, what you mean is that you want to become like Number One and the rest, having equal rights and staying by my side? Or do you want to be even closer than them...what?"
Why did he suddenly get so close...Shi Jin took a step back and shook his head, replying, "No, I simply want to have meals with you. After all, the food there must be better than the dormitory building's. Sigh, the canteen chef in the dormitory building uses too much oil and salt in his cooking. I really can't stand it."
Lian Jun's expression stiffened, his gaze falling on the foot that had just stepped back. He asked, "...Is that all?"
"Just that, wait, someone's coming," said Shi Jin, his expression serious as he pulled out his gun and held it tightly in his hand. He pushed Lian Jun to the corner of the wall and then crept towards the door, listening carefully to the footsteps approaching from outside.
Three meters, two meters, one meter... Shi Jin loaded his gun and kept his eyes fixed on the door handle, which was being turned.
Click, the door opened, and Shi Jin immediately aimed his gun at the intruder, his finger on the trigger.
"Don't be alarmed, it's me," said Number Two, raising his hands in surrender and calming Shi Jin down. He then searched the room and found Lian Jun emerging from the corner. He reported, "The remnants have been dealt with. Number Four did indeed collude with outsiders and tried to use them to his advantage. The police have already caught all the ambushers waiting outside."
Lian Jun slid out in his wheelchair and glanced at Shi Jin without much interest. "Not bad," he replied before passing by the two of them and wheeling away.
Number Two looked puzzled and turned to Shi Jin, mouthing, "Did you make Lian Jun angry?"
Shi Jin shook his head at first, then nodded hesitantly. "I guess so..."
Number Two became intrigued and asked, "What did you do? Lian Jun may seem cold, but he actually has a pretty good temper. It's quite an accomplishment to make him angry."
Shi Jin sighed. "I told him I'm a picky eater and wanted to go to his place to mooch off his food... Was that really such an unreasonable request?"
Number Two: "...pfft."
Shi Jin glared at him and started wriggling his fingers threateningly.
"Don't, don't, don't! Don't touch me, you... sigh, you..." Number Two held his hand and struggled to hold back his laughter. Finally, unable to resist, he stifled a few chuckles, patted his shoulder, and sighed, "Silly child," before walking away.
Shi Jin's face was as black as the bottom of a pot - you're the silly one! Your whole family is silly!
At dawn, the internal conflict instigated by Number Four was finally resolved. Number Four was captured, and all of his followers were exposed. The Flower Fruit Orchard was in shambles, and the damage caused by the explosion was incalculable.
The dormitory building where Shi Jin lived was also destroyed in the blast. After a busy night, he wanted to catch up on sleep, but found that he had no bed to sleep in.
Number Two passed by carrying a bag and comforted him, "Don't worry, hold on a bit longer. We have to move today, and the car will be here soon. You can sleep on the car."
Shi Jin turned his head and asked, "Move? Where to?"
"To City B. Actually, we should have left half a month ago. If it weren't for solving the hidden danger of Number Four, we wouldn't have been stuck in this poor mountain valley even after everything was settled. For people in our line of work, staying in one place for a long time is a big taboo," explained Number Two.
He thought of something and added, "By the way, we can't wear the Fruit Orchard's clothes anymore after we get to City B. Come on, follow me to get new gear."
Shi Jin agreed and took one last look at the dormitory where they had briefly stayed before obediently following Number Two.
Half an hour later, the Fruit Orchard group, now dressed in new clothes, boarded a modified small RV and headed towards Y Province's airport.
The seats inside the RV were in a "U" shape. Shi Jin sat on one side of the "U", with Number Two beside him, Number Three and the rarely seen Number Five with his simple and honest face on the opposite side. In the centre of the "U" sat Lian Jun and the refined-looking man, Number One.
At this moment, Number One was tapping away on his tablet. Other than his slightly pale complexion, there were no signs of injury on him.
The RV was quiet, with no one speaking. Shi Jin felt a sense of unease for no reason and shifted in his seat. Just as he was about to distract himself by arguing with Xiao Si, he saw Number One stand up with his tablet and connect it to the RV's TV using a data cable.
As the television turned on, a surveillance footage appeared on the screen. Shi Jin was shocked to see that the person in the footage was actually himself, who was frantically riding his bike to get to his destination last night.
After adjusting the screen, Number One turned around to face everyone. His gaze lingered on Shi Jin before he spoke, "Since we have some free time, at the request of Young Master Jun, let's review the performance of our newcomer Shi Jin during the traitor elimination mission last night."
Shi Jin remained silent, feeling a mix of embarrassment and anxiety.