Hiding in an abandoned farmhouse nearby, Xiang Aoting had already noticed the three cars rushing out of the residential building one after another, and faintly heard a few muffled gunshots. He felt that something was not right and was about to get closer to find out what was going on when he received a text message from Shi Jin.
His expression changed drastically as he took out his locator to confirm Shi Jin's location. He found that Shi Jin was moving at high speed and quickly instructed his team members to act separately while he himself rushed towards the vehicles hidden behind the firewood stack not far away.
By now, the sky had completely darkened, and there were no streetlights installed in the village. The roads were narrow and driving was very inconvenient.
Yuan Ma-zi had chosen a large van, which made him an easy target while driving. He was both angry and anxious, surrounded by farmland with nowhere to hide.
He shouted at Shi Jin, "Quick, show yourself and shoot them! Stop them!"
Shi Jin cursed Yuan Ma-zi in his heart for trying to trick him at such a critical moment. He pretended to be scared and replied, "I can't do it, Brother Liu. A bullet just grazed my head a moment ago. I'm afraid, I regret this, I want to go home and find my mother."
"Fuck! You useless piece of crap!" Yuan Ma-zi was so angry that he almost burst a blood vessel. He slammed the steering wheel in frustration. There was no other choice but to speed up and try to enter the other side of the village where there were more people, using the crowd as cover.
Shi Jin shrank down under his seat again, seeing that Yuan Ma-zi was too busy to pay attention to him. He pulled out his phone and quickly dialed a number, reaching Xiang Aoting.
Xiang Aoting answered immediately and asked, "How's it going over there? I'm leading my men to take the back roads to cover you. Stay safe."
"Mom, I want to go home, wuwuwu..." Shi Jin fake cried and glanced at Yuan Ma-zi who was driving. Using a pickled vegetable jar as a cover, he sobbed into his phone, "I've earned my brother's dowry money, Mom, I want to go home. I'm with kind people in the car, please come pick me up. It's scary here."
Xiang Aoting remained silent for two seconds, then stepped on the gas pedal and accelerated, saying, "Don't be afraid, I'll be there soon. Don't conflict with Yuan Ma-zi for now, protect yourself."
Shi Jin continued to whimper.
After pulling away from the pursuers a bit, Yuan Ma-zi finally noticed the commotion on Shi Jin's side. He looked back and saw that Shi Jin seemed to be talking to someone, and he was both shocked and angry. He asked, "Who are you talking to?! Did you secretly hide your phone?"
Without hanging up the phone, Shi Jin reached out and lifted the jar of pickled vegetables, looking like he had been wronged. With a sob in his voice, he exclaimed, "Can't I talk to the pickled vegetables? This is my Ma's favorite jar of pickled vegetables! I'm about to die, boo hoo hoo, can't I say goodbye to my Ma?"
A bullet pierced through the center of the jar, shattering the glass and sending pickled vegetables and shards flying everywhere.
Shi Jin was so scared that he almost cried for real. He quickly withdrew his hand and stopped pretending, obediently waiting for rescue.
Yuan Ma-zi was covered in pickled vegetables and glass fragments, and almost drove the car into a ditch again. His mentality completely collapsed, and he no longer paid attention to Shi Jin.
He glared fiercely at the car behind him, suddenly pulled something out of his pocket, bit it open with his mouth, and threw it out of the car window.
Shi Jin was stunned. He never expected that Yuan Ma-zi would have a bomb hidden in his arms. His eyes scanned Yuan Ma-zi up and down, secretly hoping to catch a glimpse of a magical pocket filled with violent and powerful items.
An explosion sounded from behind, and the rain of bullets finally weakened. Seizing the opportunity, Yuan Ma-zi accelerated and charged into an empty space on the other side of the village. He was about to make a final push to escape onto the main road when two bright lights suddenly shone ahead. A black off-road vehicle rushed out from the diagonal and blocked his path.
"Damn it! Where did this turtle son of a b*tch come from? Can't he drive?" Yuan Ma-zi was almost blinded by the bright lights and quickly hit the brakes to avoid a collision. He stuck his head out of the car window and shouted, "Your high beams are blinding me! Get out of my way, or you'll regret it!"
Opening the car door, Xiang Aoting strode towards Yuan Ma-zi with a stern expression.
Watching Xiang Aoting's backlit figure, Yuan Ma-zi's expression of impatience and ferocity gradually softened as he realized that the one approaching was not who he expected.
He was about to retreat and drive away when suddenly he felt a sharp blow to the back of his head. A hand reached out from behind and deftly snatched the car keys from his grasp.
Yuan Ma-zi couldn't believe it and turned to face the owner of the hand. "You--"
"Don't 'you' me, you sicko! Get ready to eat prison food!" Shi Jin interrupted with a complete lack of manners. His previous timidity vanished, replaced by a fierce and menacing expression. He grabbed Yuan Ma-zi's shoulder and pinned him to the driver's seat, bending down to tie his hands.
Yuan Ma-zi was so shocked that he forgot to struggle and stammered, "Why, why are you, are you an undercover agent?! You, a country bumpkin, actually deceived me! Just wait, I will definitely rape and kill you, and smash your body--"
As soon as Xiang Aoting arrived, he heard Yuan Ma-zi's threat and his face turned black. He reached out and forcefully pulled open the car door, aimed at Yuan Ma-zi's chest and delivered an elbow strike.
Then, he dragged Yuan Ma-zi off the car like a dead dog and coldly said, "Shut up! If you speak out of turn again, I'll' make sure you can never speak again."
Yuan Ma-zi was both in pain and angry, struggling desperately and still unwilling to give up. He cursed incessantly with foul language.
Shi Jin couldn't help but kick him as well after getting out of the car. Seeing that no one else was following behind Xiang Aoting, he asked in confusion, "Where are the others?"
"Taking care of the people in the two cars chasing behind, and there's another group of people by the civilian houses," explained Xiang Aoting. After handcuffing Yuan Ma-zi, he grabbed a piece of cloth from the car and stuffed it into his mouth. He turned his head to look at Shi Jin and asked, "Are you injured? I heard gunshots and explosions on the phone."
"I'm fine," Shi Jin shook his head. Seeing Xiang Aoting preparing to drag Yuan Ma-zi to the car to lock him up, he quickly reached out to stop him and felt around Yuan Ma-zi's body.
Xiang Aoting's eyebrows furrowed as he watched, and he asked, "What's wrong?"
"He touched me, so I have to touch him back," said Shi Jin with a playful tone. His hands moved quickly and purposefully as he pressed on Yuan Ma-zi's slightly chubby belly, a smug expression on his face.
He then turned to Xiang Aoting and asked for a dagger, slicing through Yuan Ma-zi's clothes layer by layer until he found a small package tied tightly around his waist.
Yuan Ma-zi's eyes bulged with fury as he gasped for air.
Xiang Aoting furrowed his brows and asked, "What is this?"
"It's his magic pocket," explained Shi Jin, swiftly opening the package and revealing its contents to Xiang Aoting.
There was a pile of miscellaneous items in the box: medicine, grenades, bullets, guns, strange little bottles, money, USB drives...even the box that Shi Jin had given Yuan Ma-zi was in there. It was unclear when Yuan Ma-zi had put it in.
Yuan Ma-zi went crazy when Shi Jin exposed his secrets, struggling as if he were possessed. His eyes glared at Shi Jin with intense hatred, as if he could spew venom.
Xiang Aoting found it irritating to watch, so he gave Yuan Ma-zi a few hits and then covered his head with a bag, out of sight, out of mind.
Shi Jin closed the small bag and turned to Xiang Aoting, "People like him are full of tricks. Even if we catch him, we still need to be careful. Who knows what other tricks he has up his sleeve."
As he watched Shi Jin's serious expression as he gave his advice, Xiang Aoting couldn't resist reaching out and patting his head, praising him, "You did great, you worked hard this time."
Xiao Si happily reminded, "It's reached 800, Jin Jin, your progress bar has dropped to 800!"
Shi Jin was momentarily stunned, then overjoyed. He turned to Xiang Aoting with a brilliant smile and replied, "It was no trouble at all, I'm here to serve the people."
Xiang Aoting: "..."
With the main task completed, the remaining cleanup work would be led by Xiang Aoting's team. Shi Jin, having completed the main task as an outsider, was granted early rest.
He made up an excuse to stay alone in the car and pulled out the chip and USB drive he stole from Brother Wolf. He poked Xiao Si and said, "These will definitely have to be handed over to the authorities eventually. While we still have them, can you copy the contents in advance?"
Xiao Si knew the information was important and replied cautiously, "I can, but it will take some time. After all, we don't have the tools to read and convert the data."
Shi Jin asked, "How long will it take?"
"Two hours?" Xiao Si conservatively estimated.
Shi Jin thought for a moment and said, "They should still need some time to wrap things up with Xiang Aoting and the others. We definitely have enough time. I'll go steal the USB drive from Yuan Ma-zi's little bag later, and you can copy everything together."
Xiao Si agreed and silently got to work.
As he held the chip and USB drive, Shi Jin suddenly felt a surge of electricity flow from the chip, up his arm, and towards his brain. It wasn't painful, but it was definitely strange. He reflexively tensed up, taking a moment to adjust to the sensation before finally relaxing his body.
Yuan Ma-zi's bag was on Xiang Aoting's car, and Shi Jin, relying on the fact that he was Xiang Aoting's brother, boldly slipped past and smoothly made his way onto the car. He used the cheesy excuse of feeling safe only in his brother's car. Once inside, he found Yuan Ma-zi's bag and located the USB drive.
To avoid arousing suspicion, he didn't directly steal the USB drive. Instead, he held the entire small package in his arms and carefully made a slit in the package. Through this small opening, he pinched the USB drive and then lay down on the car seat, closing his eyes and pretending to be asleep.
...And then he really fell asleep. The current released during the copying of the data was so comfortable and tingly and he had been too tense for too many days that he was immediately "massaged" into a deep sleep.
Seeing this, Xiao Si couldn't bear to wake him up. He took over a bit of control of his body, making sure he held onto the small package tightly, and carefully increased the speed of the data copying.
When Xiang Aoting finished handling everything and came back, all he saw was Shi Jin sleeping soundly in his car.
Perhaps due to not getting enough rest these past few days, Shi Jin had dark circles under his eyes and looked somewhat frail in the dim light of the night. His clothes were dirty and his old cotton jacket was covered in dust and stains from when he had run away, with the added imprint of salted vegetables.
There were several deep red marks on his exposed fingers, which were caused by the shattered glass from the exploding salted vegetable jar.
When Xiang Aoting opened the door, he paused and stared at Shi Jin for a moment. It wasn't until a gust of night wind blew in and Shi Jin shivered from the cold that he snapped out of it.
Xiang Aoting quickly got into the car with a gentle motion and took off his own coat to cover Shi Jin. Xiang Aoting was much bigger than Shi Jin, and with his coat covering Shi Jin, it made his face look even smaller.
It was late at night, and the melancholy atmosphere made Xiang Aoting feel emotional as he looked at Shi Jin's current state. Unable to contain his feelings, he took out his phone and sent a WeChat message to Shi Weichong: Big brother, maybe we've both made mistakes in the past.
Shi Weichong didn't reply to his message, most likely already asleep.
Years of self-discipline allowed Xiang Aoting to quickly detach himself from this inexplicable emotional turmoil. He hesitated for a moment as he looked at the message he had sent, but instead of retracting it, he added a photo of Shi Jin's current state and sent it over.
After putting away his phone, he helped Shi Jin fasten his seatbelt, contacted the team members, and officially announced the successful completion of the mission, preparing to return.
When Shi Jin woke up, it was because of Xiao Si's piercing scream. He groggily opened his eyes and found that it was already bright outside. He was lying in a strange hotel room, wearing obviously oversized pajamas, and there was no one beside him.
"What's wrong?" He yawned, feeling incredibly well-rested. He almost wanted Xiao Si to shock him again.
Xiao Si sounded panicked. "Jin Jin, the baby's progress bar suddenly started to rise. It's already at 600."
"Oh," Shi Jin responded, rubbing his eyes and snuggling under the covers. But two seconds later, he sat up abruptly, shouting in shock, "What?! Who's progress bar is rising? Who?"
Xiao Si was on the verge of tears as it replied, "Baby, it's the baby. It just rose again, to 610!"
When Shi Jin woke up, he was in a panic and frantically searched the room for his phone and luggage, but found nothing. It was only with Xiao Si's reminder that he realized he had been arranged to stay in the hotel by Xiang Aoting, and his luggage was next door.
He quickly ran to knock on the neighboring door.
Xiang Aoting opened the door quickly, holding a towel in his hand, his hair still dripping with water, and wearing only a bathrobe that revealed droplets of water on his skin. It seemed he had just finished showering. Seeing Shi Jin's anxious expression, he furrowed his brows and asked, "What's wrong?"
Shi Jin casually replied, "I had a nightmare," and pushed past him to enter the room. He immediately spotted his luggage and pulled out his phone to call Lian Jun.
The call was quickly answered, and Lian Jun's voice came through, asking, "Shi Jin?"
When Shi Jin heard the voice on the other end, he breathed a sigh of relief and plopped down on the ground. "It's me. How's everything on your end, Young Master Jun?" he asked.
Instead of answering, Lian Jun asked a question of his own: "Shi Jin, are you not planning on coming back?"
Shi Jin was confused. "What?"
Lian Jun paused for two seconds before explaining, "The officials have sent word that your mission was officially handed over early this morning, and the main force has already driven back to B City overnight. Shi Jin, why didn't you return to the club? Or is it that...you're not planning on coming back at all?"
"How is that possible!" Shi Jin exclaimed, realizing he may have been a bit too excited. He quickly lowered his voice and explained, "I fell asleep after completing the mission yesterday and just woke up in my hotel. I'll be heading back soon. By the way, Young Master Jun, you're still at the club, right?" He had to be at the club!
Lian Jun's tone returned to normal as he replied, "I'm not."
"Oh, not there...wait, not there? Where are you? What are you doing? What do you want to do? You, you..." Do you know your progress bar is skyrocketing?!
Shi Jin's heart, which had just settled down, was now racing again. His nerves were on edge as he glanced at the slow but steady progress bar in his mind for Lian Jun, ticking up at 10 point increments. Without waiting for Lian Jun's response, he asked, "Are you in the car? Where are you going?"
Lian Jun had just gotten on the car and was surprised by Shi Jin's sharp timing. His tone unconsciously softened a bit as he sat down and replied, "I'm going to have dinner with an old friend. Call Number One later and have him pick you up at the hotel. And...you did well this time. I'm hanging up now, see you at dinner."
With that, he hung up the phone.
Shi Jin felt a chill in his heart as he listened to the busy tone on his phone and watched Lian Jun's progress bar rise to 750 in his mind. Without hesitation, he called Lian Jun again.
Lian Jun still answered quickly and asked, "What's up?"
"Can you not go have dinner with your old friend?" Shi Jin got straight to the point.
After a while, Lian Jun finally replied in a much calmer tone, saying, "Don't worry, I won't eat anything I shouldn't. You go back to the club first, I'll definitely be back before dinner."
But with the progress bar moving at this speed, it would be a miracle if he could even hold out until lunch, let alone dinner!
Shi Jin was getting anxious, but he couldn't directly tell Lian Jun that there was danger ahead. The more he panicked, the less he knew how to convince Lian Jun not to go to this meal. After scratching his head for a while, he heard Lian Jun say that he was hanging up again. In a moment of impulsiveness, he shouted, "I forbid you from eating with anyone else. You can only eat with me!"
The air instantly froze, and there was silence on the other end of the phone.
Behind Shi Jin, the hand that Xiang Aoting was holding the towel with had bulging veins from how tightly he was gripping it. His face was as hard as a rock, and his mind was in turmoil.
Lian Jun broke the silence.
"Shi Jin, don't be stubborn. I'll go back right after dinner. This old friend once saved my life, I can't disrespect him." Even though Lian Jun's tone had become a bit stern, his words were soothing and conciliatory.
It was a benefactor's relationship, and with Lian Jun's personality, it seemed that this dinner couldn't be stopped.
Shi Jin forced himself to stay calm, resisting the urge to check the progress bar that was still increasing. He told himself that it wasn't really dangerous until the progress bar reached the end. His heart rate slowly slowed down as he said, "Then I'll come with you. I don't feel comfortable leaving you alone."
Lian Jun called out, "Shi Jin."
"I want to have dinner with you," Shi Jin insisted firmly, even to the point of being a little stubborn in the eyes of others. He found a reason for himself, "You said to me before that I should follow you closely and have meals with you. Now that I've returned to B city, it's not fair for you to leave me behind."
Lian Jun remained silent, but eventually compromised and gave him an address, saying, "Come over, I'll have Number Two wait for you outside."
"No need! Let Number Two stay by your side, I'll find my own way there." Shi Jin quickly stopped him, feeling relieved. He got up and grabbed a random down jacket from his luggage, too lazy to even change out of his pajamas. He turned around and was ready to go find Lian Jun.
Xiang Aoting reached out and grabbed his shoulder, his expression tense as if he was holding something back, his face stern and silent.
Shi Jin was feeling anxious and a bit impatient. He reached out to grab his brother's hand and said, "Fourth Brother, can you help me take my luggage to the club later? I have to rush to a dinner with Young Master Jun."
"I know, I heard the phone call," said Xiang Aoting with a stern tone, holding onto Shi Jin's shoulder to stop him from leaving.
He wanted to ask something, but saw that Shi Jin's expression had become visibly impatient and the strength in his grip was increasing. Xiang Aoting decided to hold back his questions and let go of Shi Jin, bending down to take out a pair of shoes and placing them in front of him.
"Why rush? Go freshen up and change your clothes first. I'll check out of the room and then drive you there. It'll definitely be faster than taking a taxi."
When Shi Jin heard this, his struggling stopped abruptly. He quickly weighed the pros and cons, obediently grabbed a set of clothes and ran towards the bathroom, saying, "Fourth Brother, wait for me. I'll change quickly. Five minutes, no, two minutes is enough! Young Master Jun must be getting impatient waiting for me."
Xiang Aoting watched him run into the bathroom, almost hitting the door in his haste. He almost couldn't resist pulling him back to give him a good lecture, but he held back and turned to call Shi Weichong on his phone.
Fifteen minutes later, the two brothers left the hotel. As soon as Shi Jin got into the car, he immediately called Lian Jun and asked about his old friend while watching the progress bar in his mind and rambling on about various topics.
Who knew what Lian Jun was thinking, but he actually joined in the idle chatter with him, his attitude so amiable that it could almost be considered indulgent.
As he listened from the driver's seat, Xiang Aoting's grip on the steering wheel tightened and tightened until he couldn't resist dialing a phone call to Rong Zhouzhong. When the call connected, he asked directly, "Are you in B City?"
"Yeah, I took a little break, what's up?" Rong Zhouzhong's voice was lazy and a bit muffled, as if he was eating something.
Xiang Aoting glanced at the passenger seat where Shi Jin was engrossed in his phone call, and almost gritted his teeth as he repeated the address where his old friend and Lian Jun were having dinner, saying, "Come to this place, right away, Big Brother will also be coming."
Rong Zhouzhong was puzzled, "What's this for, a gathering?"
"No," said Xiang Aoting, his thin lips pursed tightly, his voice as hard as iron. "We're going to talk to Little Sixth's boss."