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Gua Two didn’t provide much information.
It only took Shi Jin an hour to read through it. 

Lishui Hospital was situated in the old urban area of a small city in L country, about a five-hour drive away from where Shi Jin and the rest were living at the moment.
The hospital wasn’t big, just a single building in total, but that made it easy to defend and difficult to attack.
It only had one entrance, at least according to the architectural plans.

Long Shi had worked in Lishui Hospital as a pharmacist, and his range of activity was usually limited to the pharmacy in the deepest area of the first floor.
He’d lived in the hospital, eaten in the canteen, rarely went out, and never talked to outsiders.
He was like a ghost bound to the pharmacy.

According to Old Ghost, Long Shi disappeared without warning.
The day before he did, Old Ghost ordered a few of his subordinates to go to Lishui Hospital pretending to be sick, and told them to try to talk to Long Shi by picking up the doctor’s prescriptions from the hospital pharmacy.
The man, however, was cautious—he acted like a native of L country who didn’t understand Chinese.
Right after giving Phantom’s members their medicine, he left the pharmacy claiming to feel unwell and seemed to vanish into thin air.
The next time he appeared, he was in Nine Eagles’ hands.

Despite Long Shi going missing, Lishui Hospital continued to operate as usual.
Soon, it had a new pharmacist, as if Long Shi had never existed.

The small organization behind Lishui Hospital was called Hydra, whose headquarters was located in the suburbs of the same city.
Hydra’s main businesses were drugs and the flesh trade; it had no subordinate organizations and didn’t try to expand outside the city it was based in.
It acted very low-key.

In summary: there was nothing worth paying attention to.
However, the information seemed to be riddled with inconsistencies.

Shi Jin circled several parts he was particularly concerned about and pondered for a while.
Then he got up and left the room.

Lian Jun was in a meeting with someone from the official side of things.
Shi Jin didn’t bother him.
After a moment of consideration, he headed to the kitchen to write down Lian Jun’s menu for the next day.
He wouldn’t be there, and it was better the kitchen staff didn’t have to guess what dishes they should prepare.

When Shi Jin walked into the living room, he saw Fei Yujing again.
Unlike before, his brother wasn’t as haggard and didn’t have dark circles under his eyes, but looked full of energy.
He wore a suit and carried a briefcase, apparently about to go out and take care of what he came to do.

Shi Jin was preoccupied with the menu.
Upon seeing him, he only gave an absent-minded reminder, “Remember to take an umbrella, it’s going to rain today.”

Fei Yujing stopped to look at the teenager and saw his back disappear through the entrance of the kitchen.
He glanced at the umbrella stand in the entryway, frowned, then reached for a foldable black umbrella and stuffed it into his briefcase.

Everyone was busy all day.
After dinner, Shi Jin caught Gua Two and talked to him about the pieces of information he had doubts over.
Some of his questions were answered, while others weren’t.
They talked until it was time to sleep, at which point Shi Jin ended the conversation and dashed to Lian Jun’s room.

Lian Jun had finished washing and was already sitting in bed.
When Shi Jin entered, he motioned towards the bathroom.
“Go wash up quickly and come sleep.
Don’t forget to take your pajamas.”

Shi Jin walked into the bathroom, took a few minutes to wash, casually blew his hair dry, then rushed out and threw himself onto the bed.

The mattress bounced.
Lian Jun lowered the tablet, giving his lover a sideways glance.

Shi Jin wormed himself under the covers, touching Lian Jun’s legs.
He moved up little by little until he was about to touch Lian Jun’s waist when he sat up in a flash, flinging the covers off to hold himself up and kiss Lian Jun. 

The tablet in Lian Jun’s hand was put on the nightstand as soon as Shi Jin slipped under the covers.
Seeing him lean down, Lian Jun grabbed him and pressed him sideways on the bed, deepening the kiss.

Things soon became heated.
Shi Jin took a bite of Lian Jun’s lips, forcing him to retreat, in the meantime “turning off” the progress bars in his mind.

“Not going to sleep?” Lian Jun murmured.
He held the younger man’s cheek, pressing their foreheads together. 

Shi Jin reached out to pull his robe open, saying solemnly, “I haven’t massaged your legs yet—physical therapy has to continue every day.”

I really don’t think leg massage starts with touching the chest.

The corners of Lian Jun’s mouth rose.
He pressed Shi Jin’s hands down to restrain him and bowed down to kiss his nose, asking, “You don’t think this kind of body is unsightly?”

“Nonsense, it’s beautiful.” Shi Jin hugged him, slowly stroking his spine.
“And, Lian Jun, you will look even better in the future,” he said, a serious look in his eyes. 

Lian Jun’s breath hitched.
He ducked his head and kissed Shi Jin, as if to conceal the way his own eyes shone, like they had been lit with starlight.
With a low hum, he reached under the covers to unbutton Shi Jin’s pajamas.

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At dawn the next day, Shi Jin changed into a low-key casual outfit, put on all the gear under Gua Two’s guidance, and got into a silver van parked before the entrance.

Lian Jun accompanied him to the car.
“Come back safely,” he said after Shi Jin took his seat.

At this, Shi Jin jumped out, ran over and hugged him, then returned to the car and closed the door.
A second later, he lowered the window, put his head out, and ordered, “Remember to eat properly, I’ll check when I come back.”

Lian Jun looked at him with a gentle gaze and nodded obediently.

Gua Three started the car and drove out.
Gua Two raised the window Shi Jin had lowered and began to check over the various kinds of equipment filling the van.

Shi Jin leaned on the window, watching Lian Jun’s figure getting smaller and smaller.
His expression turned glum.
“That’s it—we’ve only just left and I’m already worried about your Darling.
I’m sure he won’t eat properly,” he said in his mind.

Xiao Si never forgot to correct him on that, no matter the situation.

Shi Jin was speechless, then amused.
He smiled, but sighed again a moment later. 

It would be nice if he and Lian Jun were just an ordinary couple, living in some peaceful town.
He would be responsible for going out to make money to support his family, and Lian Jun would be responsible for waiting for him at home, looking beautiful.
Yes, it would be nice.

Xiao Si cruelly popped the bubble of his fantasy: If you want to imagine living ordinary lives, you should imagine him as an overbearing president and yourself as a pretty face he supports.>

Shi Jin: “……”

Xiao Si comforted him, its voice earnest.

Shi Jin’s heartache due to leaving Lian Jun disappeared in a flash.
He reclined in his seat, indignant.

If you’re seeing this notice, you’re reading this chapter on pirate site – the original translator of Death Progress Bar is Betwixted Translations.

Equipment check finished, Gua Two explained the tactical arrangements for the operation.

The current plan was this: Gua Three would lead a large force to surround Hydra’s headquarters and launch a direct assault, while Gua Two would take Shi Jin and a small team to carry out a thorough search of Lishui Hospital, avoiding outright combat wherever possible. 

The reason for this difference in approach was that although Hydra used Lishui Hospital as a storehouse, it still functioned like a normal hospital and took in the sick or injured.
As such, besides the organization members, there were many real patients in the building who could get caught in the crossfire. 

That wasn’t the only reason.
Hydra’s main businesses were drugs and the flesh trade, and the goods stored in Lishui Hospital could only be drugs.
No one knew exactly where the cache was.
If an all-out battle broke out, the drugs might be ignited by accident, which wouldn’t exactly be safe.

“Our objective in Lishui Hospital is to investigate the place Long Shi had been hiding out these past few years and see if we can’t find more clues about the poison formula, not to fight with Hydra, so we need to act with restraint.
It’s best to wait until the hospital receives news about Gua Three hitting Hydra’s headquarters—we will take advantage of the chaos to conduct the search.”

Gua Two opened a detailed hospital plan on his tablet and continued, “Before that happens, we need someone to carry out initial reconnaissance.
It can’t be any of us, our oriental features stand out too much.  Some members of Annihilation’s branch in L country are local people—I’ve asked them to do it.
They’ve been hanging around the hospital for the past few days, as patients, family members of patients, drug addicts shopping for drugs, and so on.
When we arrive, we will get in contact with them first, then we’ll wait to see how the situation on Gua Three’s side develops.
If everything goes well, we’ll sneak in and start the search.”

Shi Jin nodded to show he understood.

“Well, that’s about it.
This time, our task is relatively simple, so you don’t have to be too nervous,” Gua Two placated him.
He handed Shi Jin the tablet and said, “You should get familiar with it.
When we begin, you can’t make an elementary mistake such as going the wrong way.”

In fact, Shi Jin had memorized the hospital plan the previous day, and he also asked Xiao Si to scan it just in case.
Despite this, he didn’t protest, and studied it again.

Four hours later, the van stopped in a city neighboring the one where Lishui Hospital was located.
Gua Three got off, took command of Annihilation’s branch troops who’d arrived there yesterday, and headed for Hydra’s headquarters without delay. 

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Gua Two replaced Gua Three in the driver’s seat and continued to Lishui Hospital with Shi Jin. 

Another hour later, Gua Two parked the van in a secluded street about ten minutes’ drive from Lishui Hospital, and waited patiently.
After a few minutes, a garbage truck and delivery van drove up.
Gua two checked the license plates of the two cars in the rear mirror and started the engine again.

“The team we’re going to bring along is in those two vehicles behind us?” Shi Jin guessed.

“Yeah, Gua Seven sent us eighteen guys from the local branch.
Adding us, we’ll have a total of twenty people.  That should be enough to search through Lishui Hospital,” Gua Two replied.

“Gua Seven?”

Gua Two then remembered that Shi Jin didn’t know Gua Seven yet, and explained, “Gua Seven used to be Gua One’s apprentice.
He’s in charge of staff dispatch and training the newcomers.
Whenever we’re on a mission that requires running around, like this one or the one earlier when we got rid of Gunfire’s subordinate organizations, we ask him to help us arrange manpower.”

Shi Jin said he understood, and turned his attention back to the task.

A few minutes later, the van stopped next to the building diagonally opposite to Lishui Hospital.
Gua Two contacted the people he’d arranged inside; after confirming the situation hadn’t changed, he made himself comfortable and began to wait.  

Shi Jin learned by example.
He suppressed the desire to rush in, and settled down. 

By the time an hour had passed, he couldn’t hold back.
“Do you think Nine Eagles left someone in the hospital, betting we’d come check the place Long Shi was hiding?” Shi Jin asked. 

Gua Two glanced at him in the rear mirror.
“There’s a good chance of that, so let’s be even more cautious.” 

Shi Jin agreed and quieted down once more.

After another half an hour, Gua Two’s inside observers informed him that some of the cleaners and nurse’s aides had gone frantic all of a sudden, running towards the pharmacy and medicine storeroom.
At the same time, word came from Gua Three that they’d broken through and penetrated Hydra’s headquarters.

“Get ready for action.
Enter the hospital in batches, you have ten minutes to get in.” Gua Two, who had pulled off an impressive impression of a stone statue until that point, revived in an instant.
He turned the steering wheel and headed for the hospital, giving orders through the phone.

The men hiding in the other two vehicles went into action as soon as they heard his orders. 

Shi Jin also got busy.
He put in an earpiece and checked his gear, getting ready to fight.

Gua Two pulled over along the side of the hospital building.

Five minutes later, the people inside reported that most of the Hydra personnel in Lishui Hospital had gone to the storeroom, and the protection in other places was lax.

“They realized they won’t be able to hide, so they want to salvage as many goods as possible?” Gua Two raised his eyebrows, a malicious grin stretching over his face.
He confirmed the status of the other eighteen people, then started the van again, commanding, “Divide into three groups.
The first group will approach the storeroom and watch the movements around and inside; the second group will scatter throughout the hospital and keep an eye on the general situation and the hospital staff; the last group—Number 9 to 12, the four of you will follow Shi Jin to the pharmacy.
Remember to stay in touch.”

{Roger!} A chorus of voices sounded in the earpiece. 

Shi Jin didn’t say anything but sat up straight.
The second the van stopped at the hospital entrance, he opened the door, got off, and walked inside alone.
Like a family member who came to see the patient, he passed through the hospital lobby without hesitation and climbed the stairs leading to the inpatient department on the second floor.

His Chinese face should’ve been very conspicuous, but he acted natural, and his perfect confidence allowed him to move through the lobby without attracting attention. 

Gua Two didn’t even manage to open his mouth to give Shi Jin instructions before the young man was gone, disappearing as if he had teleported.

What the hell is this speed.

He gaped for a second, then pulled out the tablet to check Shi Jin’s position.
The hospital plan was laid out on the screen, and as the green dot representing the teenager arrived on the second floor it’s pace accelerated.
It sped through the inpatient department to the stairs on the other side, returned to the first floor, then unerringly navigated the maze of corridors, avoiding the crowds and making a swift approach to the pharmacy. 

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What the fuck… Is this place your home? How are your movements so skillful? 

“That kid… really isn’t normal,” Gua Two sighed, his mood complex.
Not wasting any more time, he adjusted his earphones and ordered the four people still scattered throughout the hospital to join Shi Jin. 

Inside, Shi Jin had successfully approached the pharmacy.

Whoever was in charge of this place had probably heard the news—the iron-barred security gate was locked.
The glass door behind it was ajar, but the only thing visible through there were rows and rows of shelves, not a single person to be seen. 

The sound of footsteps came from behind.
Shi Jin paused his inspection and hid in a shadow by the door. 

A lanky man turned the corner.
He didn’t continue forward, but stopped and called, “Shi?” 

{Don’t worry, it’s one of our people,} Gua Two informed him, right on time. 

Reassured, Shi Jin stepped out of the shadow and motioned to the man to approach.

The man walked closer.
Noticing the iron gate, he asked, “Locked?”

“Only the security gate, the glass door is open.
The person who should’ve closed it was probably in a hurry and didn’t have time to lock both,” Shi Jin replied, taking out a piece of wire.
Signaling for the lanky man to act as a lookout, he crouched down and started to pick the lock.

The man: “……” Brother, why do you look so proficient at this?

By the time the second ally arrived, Shi Jin had already unlocked the gate.

He got up and stowed the lockpick away, then entered the pharmacy with the lanky man, leaving the newcomer to wait for the two who still weren’t here.

The pharmacy was very quiet.
The dense rows of shelves obstructed their view, and it was impossible to determine if anyone was hiding inside.

Shi Jin signaled for his companion to cover him and went straight into the depths of pharmacy, alert and listening for any movement.

Walking to the middle of the room, he caught a short rustling noise to the left.
He circled around, sneaking behind the person who was hiding there, then lunged forward, covered the man’s mouth and knocked him out with a chop to the back of his neck.
The enemy folded like an empty sack.
The whole process was quick, silent, and efficient.

The lanky man who was about to shoot to help Shi Jin out: “……”

There were several more enemies in the pharmacy, some armed with guns.
Shi Jin knocked them out one by one, calm and steady the whole way, moving like a ghost.
He didn’t allow them to get out a single shot.
His actions were so skilled it was almost frustrating. 

The lanky man watched all this, dumbfounded.
He felt he was entirely redundant here.

After taking care of the lookouts, the two approached the closed door deep in the pharmacy.
Shi Jin reached for the door handle, signalled to the lanky man, then threw the door open and took cover behind the wall. 

Bang bang bang bang bang!

Dense gunfire rang from inside. 

Shi Jin pulled out a tear gas grenade and threw it in, then put on a pollution mask and darted through the door, keeping his body low.
He ducked behind a cabinet and started to return fire with his silenced gun. 

By the time the lanky man rushed in, there were no enemies left to attack.

A total of four people were slumped on the floor.
Two were shot in their right arms, two in their right shoulders, and none had the ability to pick up a gun.
Shi Jin was kicking away the weapons they’d dropped.

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“Tie them up,” he commanded.

The lanky man gave him a silent glance and stepped forward without protest. 

Shi Jin examined the room they were in.

It was quite large, and seemed to serve as the quarters for a live-in pharmacist.
The furnishings were simple and sparse, consisting only of a bed, desk, and wardrobe.
There were many boxes in the corner, however, piled up without care and looking like they’d been tossed around. 

According to the floor plan, there were no other rooms connected to the pharmacy, and no place to hide anything.
Long Shi should have lived in this place for all those years, but this room was completely ordinary—it didn’t look like there was anything even remotely resembling a clue here. 

{Find anything?} Gua Two’s voice sounded.

Shi Jin circled the room again, looking for a hidden door or something similar, but there was none.
“No, nothing.
Even if Long Shi lived here, my guess is that the person who replaced him erased any traces long ago.
I’ll go and check the pharmacy, maybe… Hmm?” He stopped and looked up at the ceiling.
“Wait a moment.” 

The now-tied captives noticed his actions, and their expressions became uneasy. 

{What did you find?} Gua Two asked.

Shi Jin glanced at Hydra members, then at the disorderly boxes, and said, “Just a little something.
As far as I remember, the height of the floors in Lishui Hospital is taller than average, yet the ceiling of this room is actually a bit lower than that, plus, I couldn’t find the pharmacist.
What’s more, the people Hydra left here seem to have been in the middle of moving the goods.
However, the only exit from the pharmacy was locked…”

{You suspect there’s a passage in the ceiling?}

“Well, I couldn’t find anywhere else it could be,” Shi Jin replied, walking to the pile of boxes.
Upon closer examination he discovered drag marks, which seemed to begin in the center of the room.

The center, huh?

Shi Jin glanced at the ceiling, then at the walls near the boxes.
In the end, his gaze settled on an old-fashioned hook screwed into the wall.
He hopped up onto a few boxes and reached for the hook, trying to push or rotate it, then gripped it with a firm hand and pulled hard.  

There was a faint rattling sound, like chains moving, and without any other warning several ceiling tiles opened outwards, a set of folding stairs dropping down in front of the pile of boxes. 

“Mmmph!” Tied and gagged, the Hydra members began to struggle, wanting to attack Shi Jin.

Shi Jin let go of the hook and jumped down.
Looking up at the opening in the ceiling, he said, “I remember there’s a doctor’s office right above this room.
Is there anyone on the second floor right now?”

{Yes, I’ll tell them to go take a look,} Gua Two replied.
He marveled at Shi Jin’s keen insight. 

Ten minutes later, a few knocks came from above the ceiling.
After receiving confirmation from Gua Two, Shi Jin climbed the ladder, entering the doctor’s office upstairs without any issue.

It was empty.
There were several boxes scattered over the floor, the same as those below—apparently, the owner of this room hadn’t been able to take all of them away. 

Shi Jin looked around.
“It looks like the pharmacy was just something Hydra used to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes,” he observed.
“There’s no way Long Shi was only hiding in this tiny hospital for all those years.
He must’ve been involved in Hydra’s other activities.”

{Why am I not surprised? It’s impossible for someone like Long Shi to stay honest, otherwise, Jun-shao wouldn’t have let us investigate this place, and tell us to be careful,} Gua Two interjected.
{Is there anything else attention-worthy in the office?}

“No,” Shi Jin replied.
He recalled the structure of the hospital and noticed that this office was right next to the stairs and very close to the elevator.
This meant that from here, Hydra members had easy access to anywhere inside the hospital.

Translator’s Notes:

“…you should imagine him as an overbearing president and yourself as a pretty face he supports” – 小白臉, lit.
“little white face”; it can mean an attractive young man, adonis, gigolo, toy boy.
This term is more or less derogatory – it usually means a young man who doesn’t work and rely on rich women (or men).

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