Death Progress Bar
After waking up the next afternoon, Shi Jin was rounded up by Gua Two and forced to get on a ship.
Tarantula’s cargo ships would be leaving the port in the wee hours of the morning and Gua Two wanted to watch the fun… no, no, to keep an eye on the situation.
As punishment for staying up late, Shi Jin was sent to be his minion.
Dressed as cargo workers, the two sat on the deck of a reconnaissance vessel disguised as a cargo ship, anchored not far from the shipping route, and chatted while waiting for news from Tarantula.
“Today’s task is relatively simple.
The situation can develop in two ways: first, Snake Fang attacks Tarantula’s ships.
In this case, we’ll follow behind and watch the excitement, rescuing Tarantula’s members if there’s a need and helping Tarantula beat Snake Fang.
Second, Snake Fang doesn’t attack Tarantula’s ships.
If this happens, we’ll wander around looking for Snake Fang’s ship to ambush.
Shi Jin nodded solemnly.
“Yes—in short, whatever we do, we’re going to thump Snake Fang.”
“You show promise, young man, you’re worthy of my teachings,” Gua Two acknowledged sagely, stroking a non-existent beard.
“Here, I shall reward you with a candy.” He took out motion sickness medicine and passed it to Shi Jin.
Shi Jin took it, speechless.
“Don’t you think it’s a little late for this?” he asked, shaking the box at Gua Two.
“In general, motion sickness medicine should be taken before traveling.”
Not like you got seasick anyway,” Gua Two said with mock exasperation.
He moved his camping stool closer and squeezed Shi Jin’s shoulder.
“Okay, now be honest: what’s the matter with you? These past few days, you’ve been so unlike yourself that I almost invited a Taoist priest to see if you’ve been possessed by evil spirits.”
Shi Jin eyed him.
“Do you really want to know?” he asked mysteriously.
Gua Two nodded eagerly.
“You guessed it—I really am possessed,” Shi Jin confessed, his big, guileless eyes radiating sincerity.
“Actually, there are someone else’s memories in my head, and that person deeply hates Rong Zhouzhong.
I was affected by these memories and it caused me to be out of sorts for a while.
Ah, why is my life so hard…”
Gua Two looked as if he was forced to eat shit, and let go of Shi Jin with disgust.
“Dude, pull the other one.
You aren’t seriously telling me you have multiple personality disorder.”
Shi Jin gave it serious thought.
“You know, that actually isn’t out of the realm of possibility…”
Gua Two hurriedly took out a lollipop from his pocket and stuffed it in Shi Jin’s mouth.
“Pooh, pooh, pooh, don’t be silly! Children shouldn’t talk nonsense.
Be careful that I don’t send you to Uncle Long for electrotherapy.”
“I’m serious, it really isn’t impossible,” Shi Jin muttered, slightly unintelligibly due to the lollipop in his mouth.
He turned to watch the sea, deceptively tranquil and beautiful under the dimly lit night sky.
A thought crossing his mind, he asked Xiao Si, “Just now, Gua Two reminded me—maybe I really have multiple personality disorder? Perhaps, the one that I call the ‘original Shi Jin’ is in fact me.
What he suffered was so traumatic he couldn’t bear it, so he created a strong and bold subpersonality, me.
Perhaps I’m just someone mentally ill who thinks he’s a normal person that has been reborn, and you and the progress bars are nothing but my hallucinations.”
Hearing his hypothesis, Xiao Si nearly broke down.
< No! > it denied vehemently.
< No, JinJin, you’re not mentally ill, your mind is completely healthy! Multiple personality disorder won’t make you suddenly change from a spoiled young master to a trained policeman.
And I, I really exist, I’m not a hallucination.
“Hmm, you have a point.
I do know a lot more and have more skills than the original ‘Shi Jin.’ And ‘he’ hates eating cucumbers, but I don’t, though I don’t exactly like them very much.” Shi Jin sank in thought for a while, then nodded.
“Yeah, mental illness as an explanation doesn’t quite add up.
Well, it was just a theory I thought of just now.”
Xiao Si breathed a sigh of relief and fell silent again.
“You know, I wondered why you were so quiet recently or pretended not to be here.
What you’re trying to do is to let me get used to life without you as soon as possible so I won’t be sad when you really leave one day, right?” Shi Jin asked abruptly.
Startled, Xiao Si let out a frightened duck-like squawk.
If you’re seeing this notice, you’re reading this chapter on pirate site – the original translator of Death Progress Bar is Betwixted Translations.
“This reaction… I knew it! You jerk, you really planned to cut and run,” The lollipop crunched as Shi Jin bit down on it hard, crushing it.
Darkly, he continued, “‘Leniency to those who confess, harsher punishment to those who resist’—if you refuse to tell me the truth, I’ll tell on you to your Darling!”
< N-no! I didn’t plan to run! I’m innocent! > Xiao Si rebutted at the top of its metaphorical lungs, its demeanor practically screaming “guilty conscience.”
Shi Jin pulled out his phone and began scrolling through his contact list for Lian Jun’s number.
Xiao Si was so scared it choked.
It was only when Shi Jin’s finger was about to touch the dial button that it overcame fright and bawled, < I, I don’t want to leave you, either! I haven’t seen you making monkeys with Darling yet, how can I be willing to leave! Wah wah waaaaaaah… >
Shi Jin: “……”
< Every time you lock me in the small black room, waaaaaah… >
A throbbing vein popped out on Shi Jin’s forehead.
“Oh, so this is why you don’t want to leave? Okay, never mind, you can go! Goodbye, so long, bon voyage!”
< No! JinJin, I don’t waaaaah… Boohoo, wah wah waaaaaaah… > Xiao Si dissolved in violent sobs, crying to the point of hiccups.
Shi Jin listened, stony-faced, but the expression in his eyes softened.
He supported his chin on his hand, closing his eyes to better enjoy the sea breeze with the accompaniment of the system’s wailing.
Only after the sobs began to weaken, he continued, “You really are the most cute when you’re noisy.
Anyway, let me guess: you will leave when the progress bars are eliminated, right?”
The only reply he got was sniffles.
“This seems to be another one of the questions you can’t answer, but it’s okay.
No matter what, if you don’t want to leave, no one can make you leave.
In the worst case, I’ll just live with the progress bar for the rest of my life, no big deal!” Shi Jin comforted, putting on the demeanor of a powerful big boss.
< N-no, hiccup, you can’t.
> Xiao Si’s words were interrupted by hiccups, but it pressed on with seldom showed persistence, < They have to be eliminated as soon as possible, Darling’s and yours.
If the progress bars don’t disappear, you may be dragged back into the darkness one day.
You’re both my beloved darlings, I don’t want this to happen.
Shi Jin was taken aback—he hadn’t expected the bars to hold such hidden danger.
Glancing at Lian Jun’s progress bar in his mind, which had been slowly but steadily declining, he said, “I need to eliminate Lian Jun’s progress bar, but mine should be fine since it’s already so low.
I mean, didn’t you say I don’t need to be anxious to get rid of it?”
< That’s not the same… JinJin, there’s no guarantee you’ll be fine.
Have you forgotten about your abnormality these past few days? > Xiao Si countered.
Shi Jin frowned.
“Of course I haven’t, but I actually let this happen on purpose—”
< No, JinJin, > Xiao Si interrupted him, voice serious.
< The resonance between mind and memory is not something you can make happen at will.
The last part of the progress bar was unlocked.
As long as those dark emotions lay buried inside of you, they remain a time bomb that will be set off by the right stimuli.
Unless you clear them up, they might swallow you at any time and you will never be able to escape them.
They’re bona fide lethal factor—they may really kill you.
Shi Jin suppressed a shiver.
Remembering the out-of-control deluge of emotions in the cinema room, as if the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ memories had taken over his soul, he couldn’t refute Xiao Si’s words.
During the military training, his progress bar suddenly dropped 20 points.
After racking his brains, he finally figured out it must’ve had something to do with Xiang Aoting and the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ memories.
To verify this conjecture, when he encountered Rong Zhouzhong this time and felt the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ memory stirring, he decided to take a gamble.
With barely any hesitation, he chose to let himself be overwhelmed by ‘Shi Jin’s’ memories, forming a kind of empathic resonance, and experiment to see if the progress bar going down was really related to the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ feelings about his brothers.
Death Progress Bar is translated by Betwixted Translations.
Read on the original translator’s site to get the fastest updates!
The experiment could be considered successful—not only did he verify his guess, but also lowered his progress bar—but it turned out to be much harder on him than he expected.
The original ‘Shi Jin’s’ memories and emotions had taken control over his mind to a degree greatly exceeding his estimate; he truly wasn’t sure that if a similar situation occurred in the future, he would be able to break free from them in time or, in fact, at all.
He could not deny it—those memories really could kill him.
He had also speculated why the resonance was so deep.
Was it because he had the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ memories sitting in his mind for too long and came to know it too well? Or maybe ‘his’ obsession had been carved into ‘his’ body? He even wondered if ‘Shi Jin’s’ soul was still sleeping inside this body, trying to take advantage of the opportunity to seize back control.
However, Xiao Si said that the resonance between mind and memory was not something that could happen at will.
If he interpreted this statement correctly, it wasn’t that he could choose some random memory stuffed in his head and let it control him—it was because the memory was “special” that the total immersion he experienced could happen.
Not for the first time, Shi Jin wished that he really was a fool, because a fool wouldn’t think about too many things.
Alas, reality refused to bend to his will.
All of a sudden, he remembered the moment when his progress bar dropped last time.
It was during the military training when Xiang Aoting and he were bringing water for the rest of the squad.
As they walked side by side, with the bright sun overhead and lively cadets all around, he was suddenly overcome with a feeling that his life was finally getting on the right track.
At that moment, even the sweat pouring from him had a smell of hope and every breath he took was a symbol of rebirth.
It felt as if a brand-new future was in front of him, within his reach.
It was then that all of a sudden, the progress bar dropped, and that very night, he dreamed of those memories from the perspective of the original ‘Shi Jin,’ and was gradually affected by the feelings in them.
After examining the order of events, it was clear that the progress bar dropping was the prerequisite for the special memories to appear, rather than the other way around.
Just now, Xiao Si said that the last part of the progress bar was unlocked.
“Unlocked,” what a peculiar choice of words.
This made it sound as if the last part had been locked until one day, the progress bar judged the conditions had been fulfilled so the lock disappeared, giving him access to whatever had been hidden.
Remembering the time when the progress bar dropped and his mental state at that moment, he was almost certain that the unlocking condition was him reaching a certain kind of illuminating realization, and what was behind the lock were the special memories that could affect him.
To sum it up: when the progress bar determined that its host had embarked on a completely different path than the original ‘Shi Jin’ and judged his heart to be strong enough, it opened the hidden gate, forcing him to face the final, most difficult crisis which actually originated in his own soul.
This was “saving yourself” in the most literal sense.
“In other words, the source of all my current troubles is the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ memories—the memories you stuffed into my head in the first place,” he said in his mind.
Earnestly, he continued, “Xiao Si, can you take them back?”
With Shi Jin asking this after being silent for a long time, Xiao Si realized he must’ve guessed something.
< No… it’s impossible, > it whispered haltingly.
“Why is it impossible?”
Again, his only reply was silence.
But Shi Jin had already learned how to glean information from the system’s silences.
Calmly, he asked, “Xiao Si, who am I?”
Xiao Si still kept silent, but Shi Jin could feel its panic and helplessness.
“The same face, the same mole, the same name, memories that can’t be taken back and make me go out of control… What’s more, the progress bar is forcing me to relive them in order to save myself…” As Shi Jin recounted all the problematic issues, but rather than following with the logical conclusion they led to, he asked instead, “Is the original ‘Shi Jin’ another me in a parallel world?”
< JinJin… > Xiao Si finally whispered, its voice weak with worry and anxiety.
< Don’t think about it.
You are JinJin, just JinJin.
“Are you getting some ridiculous notions in your head again? Don’t be afraid, I’m completely calm right now.” Shi Jin gathered his thoughts and looked at the calm sea surface.
“My father’s name is Shi Lei and my mother’s Lan Xiao.
They were already quite old when they adopted me.
I was their only child.
They were proud of me when I graduated from a police academy and continued to work as a policeman.
Their lives reached their end without illness or pain.
I wore the police uniform to their funerals.
They were good, wonderful people, and my biggest regret is that I wasn’t able to find my other half before they died.”
That was his last life, short but blessed, enough to support him through all the difficulties.
Moreover, he had Lian Jun by his side, so no matter what the truth was, he would go on living the life he had now—filled with happiness, sunny and without hatred.
“Forget it, it’s meaningless to pursue this matter now.
What’s important is to find a way to get rid of this emotional resonance.
You know, I like playing games with a third-person view better—FPSes make me dizzy!” Concluding the conversation in his head, he spat out the lollipop stick, sat up straight, and glanced back to see what Gua Two was doing.
Gua Two had his back turned to him and was talking on the phone in a stage whisper, voice panicky: “I’m serious! There’s something wrong with Shi Jin.
His expression is changing all the time as if he’s talking to someone, but I’m the only one here! Uncle Long, could he really have some mental disorder? Will he go psycho if I interrupt him right now?”
Shi Jin: “……”
At two o’clock in the morning, the Tarantula’s three cargo ships set off from the harbor and headed for Formosa.
About half an hour into the voyage, more than a dozen speedy, maneuverable trawlers suddenly approached the cargo ships, surrounding them.
Once Tarantula notified them of the attack, Gua Two immediately sprang into action.
Ten minutes later, the four Annihilation’s vessels stealthily approached the attack site, stopped behind Snake Fang’s lines, and launched a surprise attack.
Snake Fang and Tarantula clashed in the center of the battlefield, the sound of gunfire and artillery barrage filling the air.
Shi Jin stayed by Gua Two’s side, happily sniping at the enemies with a little help from Xiao Si’s buffs.
Seeing him fire one shot after another, without pausing or taking aim properly, Gua Two said with a painful wince, “You’re not shooting blind, are you? Shooting from a moving ship is difficult, but you’re taking barely a few seconds to aim.
Are you sure you aren’t hitting friendlies? Dude, you do know how to identify targets, right?”
Shi Jin stiffened.
“My marksmanship is excellent, don’t worry,” he replied slightly sheepishly.
“‘Don’t worry,’ my ass!” Exasperated, Gua Two slapped Shi Jin on the head.
“Restrain yourself a little, will you? If you accidentally shoot our allies, your ass will be toast and I won’t be able to protect you—Lu Shan is no less protective of her people than Jun-shao!”
Shi Jin docilely accepted the rebuke, even while the gun in his hands spat out another bullet.
It unerringly hit a Snake Fang member who was about to stealthily throw a Molotov cocktail on the board of Tarantula’s cargo ship.
Gua Two hurriedly raised the binoculars to check Shi Jin’s target, breathing with relief when it turned out to have been a Snake Fang’s ship.
He looked at Shi Jin’s focused expression and hesitated for a moment, but in the end, chose to trust the younger man rather than force him to put the gun down.
After more than half an hour’s struggle, Snake Fang decided they were unlikely to win and tried to withdraw.
However, Tarantula’s members were determined not to let them go and redoubled their efforts, successfully stopping their retreat.
Seeing this, Gua Two immediately ordered the Annihilation’s ships to stop attacking and pull back to the edge of the battlefield.
“We’re not going to thrash Snake Fang more?” Shi Jin asked, disappointed.
Gua Two shook his head.
Tarantula’s follow-up forces are coming—Snake Fang no longer has any chance to run away.
The show here is over, the next part will take place on Formosa.”
Shi Jin nodded to show he understood and reluctantly put his gun down.
Death Progress Bar is translated by Betwixted Translations.
Read on the original translator’s site to get the fastest updates!
Just as Lian Jun predicted, Snake Fang’s intended robbery of Tarantula’s goods was just a cover.
Their real purpose was to attract Tarantula’s forces and tie them down at sea, then launch a surprise attack on Tarantula’s bases on Formosa.
In the early hours of the morning, shortly after Gua Two’s retreat and the arrival of massive Tarantula’s reinforcements at the site of the naval skirmish, several of Tarantula’s strongholds and warehouses on the other side of Formosa were attacked by Snake Fang.
Fortunately, Lu Shan had long been prepared and, aided by Gua Three and Gua Five, successfully resisted the attack.
By a stroke of luck, Tarantula even captured Xi Fan, Snake Fang’s deputy leader, who was commanding the attack in person.
This made Lu Shan very happy.
The moment the battle ended, not even waiting for the sun to rise, she called Zhang Zhuoyuan to kick up a fuss about her miserable situation because of Snake Fang’s attack and Xi Fang’s attempt to kill her, and requested an explanation for “Snake Fang’s viciously targeting the life of the organization’s leader.”
Zhang Zhuoyuan didn’t expect Snake Fang to be so bold as to target not only Tarantula’s goods but also their most indispensable bases on Formosa and even Lu Shan’s life.
When Lu Shan demanded an explanation from him, quoting the very document he issued to use against Tarantula not too long ago, he almost passed out from fury and started silently cursing at Snake Fang.
Idiots! Fucking idiots! Not only stupid but also useless! Being greedy is one thing, recklessly targeting Tarantula’s lifeline is quite another! And if it wasn’t enough, you were so damn incompetent while at it that Lu Shan has completely become the side that’s in the right!
The deputy leader was captured—that was simply the biggest joke Zhang Zhuoyuan heard this year! No matter what Xi Fan’s actual intentions had been, now that Lu Shan had him in her hands, she could spin the truth to be whatever suited her, and she was certain to claim he was there to kill her!
When Tarantula did the same thing, to gain favor with Annihilation, he cracked down on it hard.
If he let Snake Fang off, that was simply asking Tarantula to kick up a big stink.
However, Snake Fang was already lacking resources and now suffered heavy losses at Tarantula’s hands.
If it was subjected to the government’s suppression on top of that, it was likely to directly collapse.
What about the balance of power then? What about the ‘bad apple spoiling the whole bunch’? Wouldn’t all their plans be ruined?
Zhang Zhuoyuan had no idea how to proceed.
He squeezed his phone, watching time trickle down with torturous slowness until he judged Lian Jun had gotten up and finished eating breakfast, then called him to ask for advice.
When Lian Jun received the call, he’d been carefully watching over Shi Jin, who was so sleepy he could fall asleep at any moment but still insisted on having breakfast with him.
He was in no mood to listen to Zhang Zhuoyuan rambling.
He endured until the other man finished explaining, then said concisely, “Contact Snake Fang’s leader and make Lu Shan and him talk face-to-face, on the grounds that there’s no proof Xi Fan was truly targeting Lu Shan’s life.
You should just watch from the sidelines and mediate.
I have something to do now, we’ll talk more later.” Not waiting for the reply, he hung up and stretched out a hand to stop Shi Jin’s head from falling into the soup bowl.
Zhang Zhuoyuan sat still for a moment, stunned.
After thinking for a while, he sprang to his feet, exclaiming excitedly, “Yes, that’s right! The truth can’t be decided with just Lu Shan’s words as proof! What an ingenious move, Lian Jun is brilliant!”
“A-choo!” Shi Jin woke up with a sneeze.
Feeling a familiar palm touching his forehead, he rubbed against it instinctively, then struggled to make his eyes open.
When he succeeded, he turned to look at Lian Jun and announced, “I dreamed that someone praised you for being brilliant.”
Lian Jun moved his wheelchair over to him and put a hand over his forcibly wide-open eyes.
“The breakfast is finished, now go to sleep,” he coaxed.
“You’re done already?” Shi Jin asked, unconvinced.
He felt as if he had just sat down at the table.
He pulled down Lian Jun’s hand and tried to turn his head, wanting to confirm the situation on the tabletop.
Lian Jun hurriedly held his head, stopping him.
“I’ve forgotten a document in our bedroom.
Could you go and get it for me? I haven’t finished eating yet.”
Shi Jin frowned and blinked, forcing himself to wake up.
Getting to his feet, he said, “Okay, I’ll get it for you.
You should finish your breakfast properly.”
Lian Jun waited until there was a few steps’ distance between them, then got up from the wheelchair and followed him quietly.
They entered the bedroom one after another.
A few minutes later, Lian Jun walked out alone, his lips much rosier than when he went in.
As it happened, Rong Zhouzhong was entering the living room from the walkway outside at that very moment.
The two stopped at the same time and stared at each other in silence.
Rong Zhouzhong’s eyes widened little by little as his gaze moved from Lian Jun’s face to his apparently fully functioning legs.
A moment later, his mouth dropped open and the packages of snacks he was holding fell to the floor.
The brothers’ chat group:
Rong Zhouzhong [suddenly appearing]: Ah ah ah ah aaaaaaaaaah!
Xiang Aoting: What’s wrong?
Shi Weichong: Have you finished your work, Third?
Rong Zhouzhong: OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Li Jiuzheng: ？
Fei Yujing: Did your stans corner you?
Rong Zhouzhong did not respond.
A few minutes later.
Rong Zhouzhong [suddenly appearing again]: FUCKING HELL!!!
Shi Weichong [frowning]: Don’t swear.
Rong Zhouzhong: Lian Jun is standing! He can walk!
Xiang Aoting: Huh?
Fei Yujing: What?
Shi Weichong: What do you mean?
Li Jiuzheng [immediately figuring it out]: How do you know Lian Jun can walk? Are you with Xiao Jin? Weren’t you supposed to be busy working? Have you been so silent recently because you’ve been trying to hide from us that you and Xiao Jin are together?
Rong Zhouzhong did not respond.
A few seconds later.
System prompt: Rong Zhouzhong has left the group chat.
The others: ???
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