Chapter 26: 00J

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Edited by Bet from Betwixted Translations

That wasn’t the end of the fun—things were still getting more interesting.

After money, Pockmarked Yuan fished out a gun from somewhere and stuffed it into Shi Jin’s hand.
He said persuasively, “This is for your self-defense.
Xiao Yuan, to be honest, my friends are involved in a dirty business.
They wanted me to join but I didn’t agree.
As a result, they despicably threatened my family…” His tone was full of vicissitudes of life.
As he spoke, he raised his hand and wiped the nonexistent tears from the corners of his eyes.

Shi Jin thought, What the fuck? Did you graduate from a drama school?, but his face filled with disbelief and righteous indignation.
He said, “Threat’n yer fokes? Them ain’t no frends o’ yer!”

“That’s not important, I had no choice anyway.
I thought they would let my family go if I helped them.
I didn’t expect they were planning to kill me instead! This is all my fault, if I hadn’t talked to you at the station and wanted to help you earn money, you wouldn’t have followed me into this den of wolves… But I also want to thank you.
If you hadn’t overheard their conversation, I’m afraid we wouldn’t even know how we died.
Oh, Xiao Yuan, Brother Liu is truly sorry, Brother Liu shouldn’t have tried to be kind to you, you wouldn’t be involved in this mess then.”

Pockmarked Yuan sighed, his expression full of misery.
He clutched Shi Jin’s hands and rubbed them comfortingly, either wanting to take advantage and cop a feel or trying to act out an emotional scene.

Shi Jin got goosebumps all over, but forced himself to endure.
He couldn’t bear it for long though and grabbed Pockmarked Yuan’s hands, squeezing them tight.
His big, innocent-looking eyes filled with determination and encouragement and he said with all seriousness he could muster, “Brother Liu, don’t be ‘fraid! We has trouble, we calls da police! Da police will catch yer nasty frends!”

“Cough, cough, cough, cough, cough!” Pockmarked Yuan choked on his saliva and let out a hacking cough.
He wanted to move back, but his hands were caught in a painful grip, so he frantically shook his head and lied through his teeth, “We can’t! You don’t know, we-my friends are protected by someone powerful, and they have guns, you saw it.
If we call the police, we will die even faster!”

“Is, is dat right?” The determination on Shi Jin’s face disappeared, replaced by “Xiao Yuan’s” signature cowardly appearance.
Hands loosening, he asked in a terrified voice, “Den, den what we gonna do, Brother Liu? Run? Yeah, let’s run!”

Vivid finger-shaped indents covered Pockmarked Yuan’s hands.
His eyebrows twitching from pain, he squeezed out an ugly smile and replied, “Of course we will run, but before that, I need to steal a piece of information from my friends.
As long as I have the data, I can force them to let my family go.”

The data?

Shi Jin’s eyes lit up, but he masked the excitment in his gaze with a fearful expression.
He said weakly, “But thievin’ ain’t right… We still calls da police, Ah trusts them police uncles…”

“So you don’t trust me?” Pockmarked Yuan displayed a hurt expression on his face and again pulled out a few stacks of cash from God knows where.
He pushed them into Shi Jin’s arms and said, “Xiao Yuan, you’re the only one who can help me! If we call the police, they will kill my family, do you have the heart to see that? My grandson is only one year old.
Only one year old!”

Shi Jin was shocked by his exaggerated acting and “throwing money like a boss” move—Where the hell did that come from? I didn’t see a dime when I took off his coat earlier!

Pockmarked Yuan thought Shi Jin was stunned by seeing so much money at once, and his expression became doleful.
He took Shi Jin’s hand and said, “Xiao Yuan, this isn’t stealing, it’s self-protection! As long as you help me this one time, I will give you twice as much money! Didn’t you say your brother’s leg was broken and he was in a hurry to marry his fiancée? If you do this, your family will no longer have to worry about money.”

Shi Jin pretended to waver, biting his lips and tapping his foot.
He seemed to decide and nodded with determination.
“Good! Brother Liu, ya says ‘ow Ah can help ya, den we will run!”

Pockmarked Yuan smiled with relief and touched his head.
“Good boy.
Xiao Yuan, you are my lucky star…”

Oh yeah, I am your “lucky star,” that’s for sure.

Shi Jin let him pat his head and put on a trusting smile, his white teeth flashing in the darkness.

It was still before daybreak, so after they finished planning, each of them occupied half of the bed and fell sleep.

Maybe because there was something on his mind, maybe because he planned to use Shi Jin later, but Pockmarked Yuan was well-behaved that night and did not try to touch Shi Jin’s butt again.

The effect of the drugged dinner had not yet disappeared and the trafficker soon fell asleep.
Shi Jin opened his eyes, found the miniature phone he had hidden in the quilt and texted Xiang Aoting.

00J: [Internal strife in Werewolf.
Yuan’s backer cuckolded him with his boss.
The scum husband and the mistress joined hands and plan to kill the rightful wife.]

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Xiang Aoting, after he read Shi Jin’s text message for the first time: “…”

“Team leader?” Inquired a team member who was sitting next to Xiang Aoting and saw him staring at his phone.

Xiang Aoting returned to himself but ignored the query.
He texted back: [Are you in danger?]

00J: [No.
I’ve agreed to cooperate with the wife.
Tomorrow, we plan to steal the evidence of adultery.
The wife bribed me with 80 000 and gave me a gun.]

Xiang Aoting became speechless once more: “…”

“Leader?” The team member became increasingly confused about why his superior kept contemplating his mobile phone with such a complicated expression on his face.

Xiang Aoting calmed himself down and gestured that he was fine.
He sent another text: [Be careful and watch out for Pockmarked Yuan’s tricks.]

00J: [Rest assured, I won’t be bought! Sugar-coated bullets can’t corrupt my soul!]

Xiang Aoting covered his forehead with his hand and tried to recall how Shi Jin used to look.
When he closed his eyes, all that appeared in his mind’s eye was a kiwifruit flashing him a white-toothed smile—bizarrely charming.

The two men woke up as the dawn was breaking.
Pockmarked Yuan’s expression was gloomy while “Xiao Yuan’s” was cowardly as usual.
They reviewed the plan they made and confirmed the details, then both hid a gun in their pocket and left the room.

The plan was: the two would act as usual and pretend to cooperate with the other people, then Pockmarked Yuan would find the bad guys’ room and lead them away while Shi Jin snuck inside to steal the information.

Of course, there was a possibility that one of the men had the data on him.
If this were the case, Pockmarked Yuan would distract them and Shi Jin would get them drugged water to drink, then search for the information again.
The problem was, it was impossible to make everybody drink it and lose consciousness at the same time.
In case the gangsters notice something was wrong, what awaited Pockmarked Yuan and Shi Jin was a desperate battle.

The plan itself was straightforward, but there were too many factors that could influence its execution.
Not to mention all the risks were carried by Shi Jin—if he stole the information, then Pockmarked Yuan’s plan was a success; if he failed, Pockmarked Yuan would pretend ignorance and accuse Shi Jin of being an enemy spy who deliberately approached him, pushing all the blame onto him.

Obviously, Pockmarked Yuan did not tell “Xiao Yuan” this, it was Shi Jin’s own analysis.

Shi Jin exclaimed in his mind, “Huh, Pockmarked Yuan is a true villain.”

Xiao Si was indignant.

One person and one system insulted Pockmarked Yuan and all his ancestors.
Both foul-mouthed to the extreme, but outwardly, Shi Jin still looked awkward and foolish, not revealing any flaws.

He pretended to be timid and kept his head down as he followed Pockmarked Yuan to the first floor.

Unlike last night’s scene of desolation, the central room was filled with people.
There were about a dozen men, and three of them were sitting at the square table—a brawny man with nondescript features and a beard, a skinny man with scars on his face, and a shaven-headed, portly man.
Others were sitting on the plastic stools scattered around the room, so it was clear at a glance the three were of higher status.

When the bearded man saw Pockmarked Yuan coming down the stairs, he said coldly, “Old Liu, we are here for business, not to enjoy ourselves.
You shouldn’t go overboard.”

“Did I? I just found someone for some fun.
You’re so gutless, it’s no wonder you are just a small-timer.” His usual arrogant attitude still in place, Pockmarked Yuan showed he was amenable to coaxing but not coercion and mocked the man.
He pulled up a remaining chair and plopped down, motioning Shi Jin to sit beside him.

This was a blatant provocation and a heavy insult.
To allow a “plaything” and the Werewolf higher-ups sit at the same table? They could not consider it a small matter.

The atmosphere instantly became tense.

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Shi Jin did not move, or rather, he couldn’t move because of shock.
He frantically “poked” Xiao Si in his mind: “Xiao Si, look at that scarred man and that bald fatty! Weren’t these guys the ones who had kidnapped the original ‘Shi Jin’ in the novel? Take a look!”

Unnerved by his tone, Xiao Si hurriedly searched through its database and confirmed a moment later,

The moment Shi Jin heard Xiao Si say this, his face and his hand throbbed with pain.
He looked at the two men who seemed to occupy a high position in Werewolf and recalled the words Pockmarked Yuan said in the car: ‘If that list of kidnappings we planned abroad hadn’t been leaked a few months ago, we wouldn’t have risked coming home for such a pitiful amount of money.’

The list of kidnappings! The original ‘Shi Jin’s’ name should be on it, that is, my name!

Feeling the perspiration on his forehead, Shi Jin bowed his head, forcing himself to turn away.
He was both excited and strung up.
“Xiao Si, we have to steal the list of Werewolf’s clients, the murderer’s name is on it!”

Xiao Si became agitated too and it had to force itself to calm down before answering,

The others weren’t aware of the situation, so when Shi Jin froze and even began to sweat, they thought the atmosphere frightened him.
Pockmarked Yuan became unhappy because he felt Shi Jin embarrassed him, and the bearded man seized the chance to mock him: “Old Liu, the one you picked this time doesn’t seem to have much courage, so you shouldn’t make things difficult for him.
I’m afraid he’ll wet his pants if you make him sit down.
After all, the best place for a plaything is a bed.”

When the people present in the room heard these words, they burst out laughing.

Pockmarked Yuan’s face was as dark as storm clouds.
He sneered, “You look down on someone I brought, well, I guess you also look down on me.
In that case, let’s forget the whole thing.
Do the business by yourselves, this opportunity is far too good for poor old me.
I will just take my ‘plaything’ and disappear.” He rose from his chair and turned towards the door.

When he said that, the others stopped laughing.
Instead, they scowled and looked at Pockmarked Yuan with angry expressions.
They were unwilling to let him get the upper hand, but at the same time, they did not dare to aggravate him further.

“Brother Wolf, you know we should show every consideration for Brother Liu, and yet you joked like that.
Can’t you see it annoyed him?” The shaven-headed fat man nicknamed “the Rich Boss” decided to play peacemaker and stood.
He grabbed the arm of Pockmarked Yuan, who pretended to leave, smiled and tried to smooth things over.
“Don’t be angry, Old Liu, you know Brother Wolf’s temper.
The current business depends on you, what will we, your brothers, do if you leave? Let it go this time.”

Pockmarked Yuan halted but did not reply, and his face was still dark.

The Rich Boss looked at Brother Dagger meaningfully, and the scarred man got up, then pushed Shi Jin into his chair and said, “Now let’s get down to business, Brother Liu, don’t leave your brothers in the lurch.”

Pockmarked Yuan sneered inwardly, but he pretended to soften and sat down with a slight frown.
To give Brother Dagger face, he nudged Shi Jin, motioning him to get up.
“This time I can ignore it, I just hope there is no next time.”

No one spoke, and once again everyone tolerated his arrogance and willfulness.

Because of this confrontation, the meeting ended on a sour note and everyone dispersed in a lousy mood.
Pockmarked Yuan took Shi Jin to the kitchen for breakfast, then rushed him back to their room and went out.

Shi Jin once again asked Xiao Si to strengthen his hearing and tried to eavesdrop, but it was for naught—not only were there too many people speaking, making it hard to distinguish their voices, but they were also not saying anything useful.
He had no choice but to give up and obediently wait for Pockmarked Yuan’s return.

The trafficker came back more than an hour later.
He told Shi Jin Brother Wolf’s room number and the approximate distribution of people in the house, then he taught him how to use a gun.
The action was set to start at dinner time.

Shi Jin nodded, still pretending to be timid.

Everyone had lunch in their rooms.
Because Pockmarked Yuan ate facing Shi Jin, he almost stuffed himself to death again.
Shi Jin pretended not to notice anything.

Shi Jin killed time until dinner.
In the meantime, Xiang Aoting sent him a message saying he and his team have already arrived in the vicinity and were ready to act at any time.
Shi Jin replied he understood and asked him to stay put for the time being.

At dinner, Pockmarked Yuan left by himself.
Shi Jin did not know what method he used, but he gathered every Werewolf member in the central room, looking conspirational.

Shi Jin used this opportunity to slip out of the room.
He let Xiao Si give him a set of buffs and went straight to the third floor.

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The floor plans of the second and third floors were the same, so he quickly found the room number Pockmarked Yuan told him but, as he expected, the situation differed from the plan—there was a big padlock hanging on Brother Wolf’s door.

Shi Jin hesitated for a moment, weighing between taking the risk of picking the lock and going downstairs to drug everybody.
Deciding to try his luck against the door, he took out an iron wire hidden in his belt and cautiously inserted it into the keyhole.

With the help of a buff, about two minutes later the lock opened with a slight click.

Shi Jin was so nervous that his palms were sweating.
He asked Xiao Si to check the situation in the room, then removed the padlock and sneaked inside.

Brother Wolf’s room was also simple, with little furniture.
Except for some clothes thrown on the bed, there was a couple of open bags at its foot and a single closed suitcase.

Because he did not know how long the distraction arranged by Pockmarked Yuan would last, Shi Jin didn’t dare to delay and honed in on the suitcase—it was the only thing in the room that seemed to be a good hiding place.

Xiao Si’s scream stopped Shi Jin’s movements partway before he touched it.

Shi Jin retracted his hand and asked nervously, “What’s wrong? Is somebody coming?”

Xiao Si warned him in a serious voice.

This made Shi Jin both happy and worried.
Happy because there must be something important inside for it to be protected like that.
Worried because he had only one chance to unlock it and no clue about the password.

The minutes passed one by one.
Shi Jin didn’t want to waste any more time, so he searched other bags, but not surprisingly, the only thing he found was a pile of dirty clothes.
There was nothing even remotely useful.

Xiao Si’s voice was anxious.
It was much more worried about Shi Jin than the data; if someone discovered him, his life would be in danger.

Shi Jin wiped the sweat from his hands and appeased his system while his brain was furiously at work.
Suddenly, something occured to him.
“Xiao Si, can you stop sound from getting out of the room? Temporarily isolate this space?”

Xiao Si said hesitantly,

“That’s fine, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.” Shi Jin’s eyes shone.
When Xiao Si isolated the room, he crouched beside the suitcase and fished out a candy from his pocket.
He sprinkled a bit of the white powder it contained on a tissue and carefully rubbed the password lock.

Several greasy, smeared fingerprints appeared on some of the numbers.
Shi Jin heaved a sigh of relief and wrote them down, asking, “When is the Werewolf’s Boss birthday? When was it created? Give me all the important dates, the day the organization made it big, the birthdays of the Boss’ relatives, everything you can think of.”

It was covered in the information provided by Xiang Aoting.
Xiao Si quickly searched its memory and recited them to Shi Jin.

As Shi Jin listened, he kept filtering and rearranging the numbers in his mind.
Finally, only the date Werewolf became self-supporting remained.
He reached out and pressed the digits according to the deduced sequence.

The entered password was correct and the lock opened.

Xiao Si hurriedly took down the sound shield and checked the situation outside.
Noticing there was a quarrel downstairs, it got nervous and informed its host at once.

Shi Jin picked up the pace, rummaging through the variety of illegal goods filling the suitcase.
After a thorough search, he found two memory cards, one flash drive, and a flat, palm-sized box.
He hid them in his clothes and closed the suitcase.
He returned it to its original position then quietly slipped out again.

When Pockmarked Yuanmazi returned, Shi Jin was already back in their room, holding his pickle jar.

“Have you found it?” The man asked tensely.

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Shi Jin nodded and showed him the small box.
“Dis was awl Ah found.
Ah reckon da drive will be inside, but I can’t opens dis.” Of course, this was a lie.
Xiao Si scanned the box and it contained nothing more than a few precious stones.

Pockmarked Yuan seized the box and shook it, hearing a quiet rattling noise; there was also a custom-made password lock on the lid.
Feeling both surprised and delighted, he patted Shi Jin on the shoulder and praised, “Well done, Xiao Yuan, I was right in choosing you.”

Shi Jin gave him a bashful smile, then gleefully poured cold water on him.
“But we needta run more fast, Brother Liu.
Ah trash’d da syutcase to git dis.
Ah put it back, but them bad guys mightta finds it soon.”

The trafficker’s expression changed.
He put the box in his pocket and walked to the door, cracking it and listening to the noise outside.
He hesitated for a moment, then tilted his head, motioning Shi Jin to follow him.

Shi Jin ran to catch up with him.

As though nothing was wrong, the two men left the house.
When they passed through the hall, the night guard hailed Pockmarked Yuan, but he dismissed him with an impatient wave of his hand and took Shi Jin straight to the van parked outside.
He took out the keys, unlocked the door, got inside, and started the car, all in one breath.
Then he rushed down the concrete village road without waiting for Shi Jin to get in, intending to leave him there to be a scapegoat.

The people in the house were shocked.
A moment later, a bellow of rage could be heard, then the window on the third floor opened and Brother Wolf shot at the van.

Shi Jin sensibly laid down and stuttered, still keeping up his act of a cowardly country boy, “They, they shoots at us, them found out! What now, Brother Liu?”

Startled, Pockmarked Yuan pressed the gas pedal hard, making the van leap forward and almost driving into a ditch.
After he stabilized the car, he glanced into the rearview mirror.
Seeing Shi Jin lying on the back seat, his expression turned incredulous.
“How come you’re here?”

“Ah shouldna be?” Shi Jin asked, then became aggrieved.
“Brother Liu wanted t’ left me yonder? Ah shoulda stay an’ be kilt?”

“Of, of course not.” Pockmarked Yuan let out a wooden laugh.
He frowned and thought hard, but wasn’t able to remember how or when Shi Jin got into the car.
Vaguely feeling something was amiss, he forced out, “Xiao Yuan, you move so quickly.
I, I was just a little surprised.”

Shi Jin’s expression said ‘oh, so it was like that,’ and he replied shyly, “Ain’t it normal? Ah allus helps mah Ma on da farn, so Ah lernt t’ do everythin’ awfully quick.”

Pockmarked Yuan: “…” Fine, but what does farm work have to do with getting on the car?


A bullet burst through the rear window, brushed Shi Jin’s hair, and hit the steering wheel.

Shi Jin shrank in terror, ducking his head.
Pockmarked Yuan looked into the rearview mirror and saw that two black cars were catching up with them.
His expression distorted.
“Fuck this backstabbing bunch of bastards! The car they sent to pick me up wasn’t bulletproof!”

Not bulletproof? We’re dead.

Shi Jin curled up to make himself smaller.
Amid the hail of bullets, he unscrewed the pickle jar and fumbled about for the miniature phone, then blindly pushed the buttons and sent: [Heop! They sre dhootng at us!]


Translator’s Notes:
“Sugar-coated bullets can’t corrupt my soul!” – Shi Jin indirectly quotes Mao Zedong here; sugar-coated bullets [糖衣炮弹] mean something that is tempting but will corrupt you; sweet talk (well, it’s more complicated but I’m not going into this here).
If you want to read the whole quote, it’s on this page, second from the top.
“Bizarrely charming” [魔性, mó xìng] – lit.
devilish or having a magical pull.
A slang expression to describe things that first appear weird and peculiar, maybe even annoying, but quickly gain popularity and become addictive.
It can mean the same thing as the slang term “cancerous.”
“Giving face” – I’m quite certain 99% of you already know what it means, but perhaps there is someone who doesn’t.
It’s a little hard to explain; “face” can be understood as respect, social standing, prestige, or influence (depending on the context).
“Giving face” may be explained as not putting someone in a socially awkward position; showing them respect or not embarrassing them, especially in public (also depending on the context).

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