Death Progress Bar

Chapter 13 - Zero Degrees

Chapter 13: Zero Degrees

Lian Jun closed the file and emerged from behind the desk. He said, “Come with me.”

Shi Jin was confused. “Where are we going?”

“To practice shooting.” Lian Jun took off the thin blanket covering his legs and signaled Shi Jin to come over and push the wheelchair, instructing, “Take the special elevator to the underground floor.”

Nightlight actually has a place where you can practice shooting?

Shi Jin was surprised, then his eyes lit up and he hurried to grab the wheelchair handles.

Because of Gua Two’s earlier explanation, Shi Jin knew Nightlight was the private property of Lian Jun. Although it looked like a normal high-end club, in fact, all of its members and guests were either ‘brothers’ in the same line of business or undercover military agents cooperating with Annihilation, not the ordinary visitors.

As Shi Jin had too much free time these days, he asked Xiao Si to lend him a hand and made a detailed floor plan of the club. He had long found that it had a hidden underground level, but he thought it was something like a stockroom or storeroom, not a shooting range.

Finally, there’s a feeling of belonging to the criminal syndicate… Was what flashed through Shi Jin’s mind.

After the elevator arrived and its door opened, a place like the combination of the front desk and the reception room could be seen, with two plain, strong-looking men sitting behind the counter. When Lian Jun appeared, they promptly rose, calling out deferentially, “Jun-shao.”

Lian Jun nodded in response and pointed at Shi Jin behind him, ordering, “Find someone to teach him the basics, then let him pick any gun he wants as a personal weapon.”

The men glanced at Shi Jin and one of them came out and respectfully gestured for Shi Jin to follow him.

Shi Jin hesitated, looked at Lian Jun and asked, “Am I not supposed to accompany you?” His job was to be Lian Jun’s personal guard…

Perhaps it was his delusion, but after he asked this question, the expressions of the two men standing nearby seemed to become rather strange.

Lian Jun understood why Shi Jin said this and answered, “This is my territory, nobody would dare to come in and make trouble. You should practice hard because I’ll make Gua One check on you later.”

Shi Jin thought bluntly, Isn’t the Flowery Orchard your territory too? Even so, accidents happened and Lian Jun’s progress bar kept rising and falling like on a rollercoaster.

“No, I’m going back with you,” he said firmly, feeling a little sorry though.

The expressions of the men became even stranger, and they kept casting covert glances at Shi Jin and Lian Jun, looking as if they had discovered some great secret.

Lian Jun’s eyes swept over them and moved to Shi Jin. “If you don’t practice seriously, you will go back to Gua Two.”

Back to Gua Two? I can’t do that!

Shi Jin realized this matter was non-negotiable, and he really wanted to satisfy his addiction to guns, so he stopped protesting and nodded obediently.

Lian Jun turned his wheelchair towards the elevator.

“Ah, wait a minute. Remember to wait for me with dinner, you are not allowed to eat alone!” Shi Jin reminded him hurriedly.

Lian Jun glanced at him through the gradually closing elevator door and turned away with an expressionless face. His look spoke volumes.

Shi Jin sighed. “It seems your Darling abandoned me.”

Xiao Si whispered timidly: <It’s mostly because when you eat with Darling, you act like a mother hen…> He can’t be picky, he has to eat more if he has the appetite, is not allowed to touch wine, can only drink milk and soy milk, can’t even touch cold dishes or Shi Jin’s expression becomes fierce… Every meal, Lian Jun appeared as if he was committing suicide by swallowing poison—the negative aura radiating from him was really scary… The most frightening thing is, Darling actually lets Shi Jin boss him around like that…

“Who am I doing that for? Didn’t you notice that his appetite has been a little bigger recently? He won’t be sick again after eating a few bites more than usual! ” Shi Jin became angry.

Xiao Si’s voice choked with emotion: <Yesyesyes, JinJin the most tired harm, JinJin loved baby, JinJin love nest greasy.>

“…Shut up!”

Nightlight’s shooting range was very professional and fully equipped. Shi Jin took to it like a duck to water, words such as boredom quickly disappearing from his mind. He was as ecstatic as a mouse in a rice bowl, almost wishing he never had to leave here.

He decided to join the police academy in his last life because he liked guns, unfortunately, after becoming a police officer, he did not have many chances to use them and his first-rate skills kept wasting away. Now that he could touch guns every day, he felt he ascended to heaven.

Two weeks went by in a blink of an eye. Shi Jin tried out every model of a gun available in Nightlight’s shooting range, going through all the drills every time, and finally chose a small, palm-size gun he would be able to carry in his pocket, as a personal weapon. Then he was thrown out.

“Don’t come here again, you’re discouraging other trainees.” The instructor’s voice was harsh. He looked at Shi Jin with a complex expression—he seemed to admire and appreciate him, but also to want to gnash his teeth and curse.

Shi Jin felt aggrieved. “But I still haven’t cleared several simulated scenarios.”

“The simulated scenarios area needs to be refurbished and is closed down for now,” the instructor answered with a frown. He looked at Shi Jin’s baby face and complexion which seemed to become fairer and fairer as the days passed, and couldn’t help but ask: “Are you really underage?”

Shi Jin nodded, then, not realizing the reason for this question, scowled at him and stressed: “You can’t bully me just because of my age! Besides, I’m almost an adult, my eighteenth birthday is next month!”

Bully you? Who would dare to bully someone who is allowed to act spoiled in front of Jun-shao, and whom Jun-shao didn’t refuse when asked to eat together? Do I look like I’m suicidal?

The instructor revealed an expression as if his face has been pelted with feces. He grabbed Shi Jin’s smooth, uncalloused hand, choking out after a long moment: “Take good care of Jun-shao, don’t disappoint him.” Then he threw Shi Jin into the elevator and pushed the button.

Shi Jin was banned from the underground floor. Spiritless, he moped around Lian Jun’s study and tried to pass time by improving Lian Jun’s lunch menu.

Lian Jun obviously hadn’t expected Shi Jin would finish the gun training so fast. For a while, he just kept watching Shi Jin without saying a word. Seeing Shi Jin was about to go stir-crazy, he finally made a move—he called Gua Two and ordered him to return at once.

Not knowing what the emergency was, Gua Two hurried back, still wearing an expensive suit. Faced with his nervous questioning, Lian Jun put down the document in his hand and pointed at innocent-looking Shi Jin. “Take him out and give him something to do.”

Gua Two, whose mind was filled with anxiety due to the urgent summons, felt his tension ease immediately. Speechless, he glanced at Shi Jin and said, “But Jun-shao, you have to have someone around to guard you, besides, my current duties require me to appear in public and make myself conspicuous…”

“Call Gua Nine here to protect me. Right now, Shi Jin needs to accumulate practical experience, so let him follow you and learn.” The tone in Lian Jun’s voice brooked no argument. He waved them away and picked up the document he had been reading, appearing to have had enough of talking.

Gua Two wisely shut up and gave Shi Jin a sideways glance.

Shi Jin beamed at him.

Gua Two rolled his eyes, motioned for him to keep up, then turned away and left the study.

When they came outside, Gua Two finally couldn’t endure. He moved closer to Shi Jin and whispered: “What the heck did you do to make Jun-shao throw you out?”

<It’s because JinJin kept forcing Darling to drink soup! Darling doesn’t like soup!> Xiao Si answered loudly in Shi Jin’s mind.

Shi Jin covered his forehead with his hand but was reluctant to admit that Lian Jun had really wanted to get rid of him, so he replied cheekily: “It’s probably because I’m too outstanding and Jun-shao doesn’t want to bury my talent.”

Gua Two: “…I totally believe you.”

“Thank you for your confidence in me.” Shi Jin had an earnest look on his face.

Gua Two expressed his current feelings with a simple move of his finger.

Shi Jin breathed the air outside for the first time in more than half a month. Gua Two stuffed him into the backseat of a very eye-catching, luxurious, black car and told the driver waiting inside: “Go to the nearest mall.”

The driver acknowledged the order and started the engine.

“Why are we going to the mall?” Shi Jin asked curiously. “By the way, what have you been doing lately and what will I need to do?”

“We are going to the mall to give you a makeover, right now you look too rough.” Gua Two loosened his necktie and relaxed in his seat, pulling out his cellphone and calling up an encrypted file. After entering the password and unlocking it, he threw the phone to Shi Jin, explaining, “Recently, I’ve been trying to complete a task. On the government’s side, there’s an old guy who has been very busy lately. He got his hands on important official documents and plans to sell them abroad. The officials wanted to deal with him but didn’t have enough evidence, so they asked Jun-shao for help. They want us to help them discover who the old man sent to complete the deal and use him to find the buyer and the place of the transaction. Then, they will be able to catch the big fish behind him.”

This exciting, huh?

Shi Jin’s expression turned serious and he gave the file his full attention.

Seeing how fast he got into the right frame of mind, Gua Two was very satisfied. He continued, “The old man is extremely vigilant and cunning, and also very careful in his actions, but he has a significant weakness—an illegitimate son who has been raised by his mother’s family. This son, called Xu Huai, is a playboy famous in B City, who indulges in everything—the proverbial ‘eating, drinking, whoring and gambling’.

My current identity is that of a casino owner and drug dealer, and I’m already included in this bastard’s circle of playmates; the next goal is to talk to him and somehow coax some information about his dad’s business from him.”

Shi Jin quickly scanned the information in the file and frowned. “What if Xu Huai doesn’t know anything? You said the old man is very careful. Xu Huai seems unreliable, so it’s quite possible he didn’t tell him anything about such an important matter.”

“If he doesn’t know, we will find another way.” Gua Two pulled out a cigarette and held it in his mouth without lighting it, his expression meaningful. “If we can’t get the information while staying within the bounds of the law, we’ll have to get a little violent. Little JinJin, remember this well: if you want to stay by Jun-shao’s side, you need to have a strong heart.”

Shi Jin fell deep in thought. He turned his head towards Gua Two, looking at him with unfathomable expression in his eyes, then pulled the cigarette out of his mouth and advised sincerely: “Smoking is harmful to health, quit it.”

Gua Two: “…” Fuck, isn’t he aware I’m his senior?

After arriving at the mall, Gua Two pushed Shi Jin into a high-end hair salon and called for the most expensive hairstylist to give Shi Jin a trendy and glamorous new hairstyle. Shi Jin was loath to do this, but he knew it was for the task, so he could only grit his teeth and bear with it.

A few hours later, when Shi Jin came out of the mall, he had a head full of fluffy, ash-gray curls and was wearing the latest trendy clothes. He also had an expensive watch, a diamond earring in his ear, and the limited-edition sneakers on his feet—to sum it up, he looked like a typical flamboyant toy boy, yet it made him exude a special kind of sex appeal.

“This is not bad. Come here, I’ll take your photo and send it to Jun-shao.” Gua Two made Shi Jin lean against the bus stop and put a pair of sunglasses on his nose, then snapped a few pictures with his phone.

Shi Jin pulled the sunglasses lower and looked over them at Gua Two with a dangerous glint in his eyes.

Gua Two stopped before things went too far and mailed the photos to Lian Jun and others to let them familiarize themselves with Shi Jin’s new look lest they make a mistake when they see him again. Then he pulled Shi Jin into the backseat and waved his hand like a true big shot, ordering in arrogant tone: “Take us to the Zero Degrees Bar.”

The driver obediently started the car.

Shi Jin took the sunglasses off and asked, “What is this Zero Degrees Bar you just mentioned?”

“It’s one of Xu Huai’s favorite places, and its owner is his friend. I’ve heard that one of Xu Huai’s cronies is holding a birthday party there tonight and Xu Huai will definitely join in the fun, so we’ll approach him there,” explained Gua Two.

Shi Jin nodded his understanding and asked, “What do I need to do? Should I act like a spoiled, self-indulgent, rich young master, same as Xu Huai?”

“No, your assumed identity is different. Xu Huai only cares about beauty, gender doesn’t matter to him. He broke up with his internet celebrity girlfriend recently, my guess is his taste changed and he got bored with her. You will pretend to be a little toy boy I keep—according to the investigation, Xu Huai loves exactly this type of innocent-looking boys.”

Shi Jin: “…”

“Remember not to play hard to get. Xu Huai is self-centered and vain and even though he’s fond of beautiful people, he doesn’t like them to be high-maintenance, so try not to act demanding,” Gua Two kept adding things to pay attention to.

Shi Jin leaned back in his seat, feeling an incoming headache. He suddenly thought that staying by Lian Jun’s side while he was reading documents was very comfortable; the outside air was not fresh at all, but dirty and disgusting.

The two men wasted too much time in the shopping mall, so when they arrived at their destination, it was already dark—exactly the time when the bar was starting to get lively.

Gua Two changed into more casual clothes in the car and messed up his hair, immediately giving off the impression he was wild and dissolute.

“After a moment, you will follow me into the bar. Don’t accept any cigarettes, drinks or sweets from others, and if you have to accept, absolutely don’t eat them, because they’ll probably be drugged. Also, it’s possible I or my people will need to take some liberties with you, but you have to endure—you’ve made your bed, now lie in it.”

Shi Jin asked very seriously, “Can I ‘take some liberties’ with you too?”

Gua Two paused and grinned at him, baring his teeth. Shi Jin flipped him off.

There were not many people inside the bar, and it seemed Xu Huai and his friends haven’t arrived yet. Gua Two took Shi Jin to the counter and sat down in the most conspicuous, central seat, ordering a glass of whiskey for himself and one of the popular Zero Degrees drinks called ‘Dreamy Night’ for Shi Jin.

Translator’s Notes:

“…only cares about beauty” – the term used here is 颜控, “face-obsessed”, and you’ve probably already met with it reading other novels. Here’s some useful info.

“Take liberties” [动手动脚] – literally “move hands and feet”, which usually means groping, but it can also be understood as trying to start a fight, hence Shi Jin’s question.

It seems gangsters gossip as much as your average neighborhood aunties. Makes some sense though if you think about it.

I really wanted to describe Shi Jin’s hairstyle as a “granny perm”. ( ̄▽ ̄)

Next chapter will be fun fun fun~

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