Chapter 16 – 001’s Fanatic Follower

The man in the black woolen hat held a rusty utility knife in his hand as he slowly backed away with Jiang Yujin.

Jiang Yujin gently pushed away the knife that was almost touching his neck and tried to reason, saying, “Hey, buddy, keep that knife away from me. If it slips and nicks me, even the doctor can’t fix a bad wound like that.”

“I just got back from the hospital; I don’t want to go back,” he added.

The man in the black woolen hat was highly tense, saying, “Don’t speak!”

Understanding his demand, Jiang Yujin obediently stayed quiet.

Surrounded by onlookers and two men in black, they continued to retreat slowly, descending the stairs until they reached a blind spot out of sight.

As the man reached the blind spot, the two men in black were about to follow, but suddenly someone from upstairs jumped down. Clad in white, their clothes billowed in the wind, exuding a vibrant youthful energy.

An unexpectedly young man.

Without glancing at them, the young man continued to jump down, holding onto the railing, and chased after.

Confused by the sudden turn of events, the two men in black exchanged a glance before joining the pursuit.

The man in the black woolen hat, holding the hostage, remained cautious as they retreated. Upon passing a corner, upon closer look, an additional young man had inexplicably joined the group. Yet, this figure appeared to be a high school student, posing minimal threat.

Jiang Yujin turned to him, asking, “Hey, what’s your name?”

The man in the black woolen hat warned him in a hushed tone, “Don’t inquire.”

“Alright, won’t inquire,” Jiang Yujin lowered his voice and continued, “But why are they chasing you?”

“Don’t inquire,” the man responded.

Nodding, Jiang Yujin said, “Okay, okay, I know your name’s Don’t Inquire. I’m asking why they’re after you.”

Don’t Inquire fell silent.

Moments of amusement come and go swiftly, Jiang Yujin sighed.

Don’t Inquire continued down the stairs; the mall’s security had arrived but remained at a distance, afraid that any sudden movement might provoke the hostage-taker.

As they turned a corner, upon catching up, the stairwell lay empty, devoid of the two figures.

Losing sight of their target, Chen Jing furrowed his brow, leaped downstairs, swiftly traversing through the crowd.

Don’t Inquire slipped into an employee corridor, leading Jiang Yujin to the underground parking lot on the negative second floor.

Upon reaching this spot, no one followed them further. He appeared somewhat relieved, searching through the cars, presumably looking for his own.

Initially willing to help, Jiang Yujin wanted to assist in finding the car. However, Don’t Inquire refused to disclose the car model and plate number, leaving Jiang Yujin to casually glance at the parked cars while waiting for him to find his.

When Don’t Inquire found his car, his eyes, the only visible part of his face, seemed to light up. He approached the vehicle slowly, instructing Jiang Yujin to stand aside quietly once the car’s lights turned on.

The quietness of the underground garage was disrupted by the sound of a vehicle entering, followed by footsteps.

It wasn’t the person who had been chasing them earlier; these were distinct footsteps of polished shoes approaching methodically. The person who appeared at the exit was dressed in a precise grey suit with a perfectly tied black tie, the silver edges of their glasses slightly hidden in the darkness.

Initially relaxed, Don’t Inquire instantly became alert, reflexively touching a pocket containing something, turning to the newcomer cautiously and inquiring, “Who are you?”

The person in the suit continued to approach slowly, chuckling in response, “Didn’t the one who sent you tell you whose things you’ve stolen?”

While smiling, their eyes betrayed no emotion, their voice deep and deliberate, striking as if resonating within the heart.

Don’t Inquire hesitated momentarily, glanced at the key not yet inserted into the lock, then at Jiang Yujin standing idly by. Eventually, he opted to retrieve the utility knife he had just stashed away, pressing it firmly against the newcomer’s neck.

The ordinary civilian, Jiang Yujin, who thought his hostage role was nearly over, hadn’t expected to find himself in a second hostage situation so soon. But this time, the person standing opposite didn’t resemble a high schooler or a justice-driven security guard.

At that moment, it seemed like self-rescue was necessary. Jiang Yujin hesitated slightly between continuing to act as a hostage and making a small attempt at resistance. However, when Don’t Inquire’s hand, holding the knife against his neck, trembled, it caused a momentary pause.

The moment Don’t Inquire pointed the utility knife at the neck of the person next to him, he saw the smile on the face of the person standing opposite disappear instantly. An indescribable sense of immense panic flooded his chest. He unconsciously wanted to retract the knife but found himself immobilized, unable to move a muscle, watching the other person draw nearer and nearer.

Intense pain ensued, and Don’t Inquire couldn’t react. He could only soberly feel his body propelled away, a numbing sensation overcoming the pain. He couldn’t even perceive the pain at the back of his head, just a cooling sensation, his vision gradually blurring.

“…”

Casting a pitying glance at the bald head of the person lying on the ground, Jiang Yujin, who had been standing by the car, finally understood why this person wore a hat.

Before completely losing consciousness, a vague figure appeared in Don’t Inquire’s sight. Then, he felt something pierce his palm. He heard the person squatting in front of him say, “Don’t touch him.”

The bald man lost consciousness entirely.

Jiang Yujin, standing with folded arms, watched as the man took something from Don’t Inquire and discarded him before turning and walking closer.

“001,” the man, impeccably dressed, smiled at him and said, “Or perhaps Jiang Yujin suits you better, quite a coincidence.”

Jiang Yujin lifted his eyelids slightly. “Coincidence, Lu Yi Yi.”

Hearing this name from him, Lu Dongcheng first hesitated, then realized, “Liu Cheng’s loose lips, as always.”

The mention of Lu Yi Yi (Lu 100million) was a clear jab at him spending a fortune on a name. He wasn’t surprised that the person had found out about the transaction with Liu Cheng and didn’t deny it.

Returning what he found on the bald man back into his pocket, he chuckled, saying, “I should have prepared a gift knowing you’d be here.”

Jiang Yujin scoffed.

Lu Dongcheng approached a bit closer, asking, “Did you receive the invitation I sent earlier?”

Jiang Yujin replied bluntly, “Refused.”

As if not hearing the refusal, Lu Dongcheng stepped closer, brushed past his hand, and touched his black hair, the eyes behind the silver-rimmed glasses squinting slightly in admiration, praising, “Black looks good on you too.”

Jiang Yujin patted his face and asked sincerely, “Are you unable to speak when the distance is more than one meter?”

His tone was still equally blunt.

Lu Dongcheng took a step back as he followed Jiang Yujin’s words, then, hearing footsteps from the staircase, calmly said, “I have other matters to attend to today. Until next time.”

Jiang Yujin remained non-committal.

When Chen Jing arrived downstairs, he saw the hostage, Jiang Yujin, standing by a car looking unharmed, and the bald man lying near a cracked pillar.

A vehicle, exuding discreet luxury, slowly departed from the parking lot.

Approaching quickly, Chen Jing examined Jiang Yujin from head to toe, ensuring he had no injuries, then asked, “What happened?”

Jiang Yujin clarified it wasn’t his doing and that he had brain freeze from eating the sundae, leaving his mind still foggy, unaware of what had occurred.

“…”

Chen Jing unconsciously rubbed his forehead.

Meanwhile, in the just-departed vehicle, the driver glanced at the rearview mirror and suddenly widened their eyes, their voice trembling as they said, “Sir, your face…”

Lu Dongcheng raised his gaze to the rearview mirror.

On one side of his cheek, tiny bloodstains had appeared at some point, slowly trailing down his face.

Recalling the tap the other person had made on his face earlier, Lu Dongcheng fell silent for a moment, then smiled, wiping away the bloodstains.

Despite the twists and turns at the mall, Jiang Yujin successfully brought back a new dishwasher. It gleamed brightly, a stark contrast to the humble kitchen.

Along with the dishwasher, a large bunch of red roses was delivered, vibrant in color. The recipient’s name was written on it without the sender’s name or a note.

Later that evening, when the high schooler returned home, Jiang Yujin took him to a nearby romantic spot in a small park. They spent two hours there, selling flowers, making a few hundred yuan. Some even appreciated his flower quality and asked if they would sell flowers there regularly.

With a few hundred yuan in hand, Jiang Yujin indulged in a few sips of wine that night.

The price of having a little wine was struggling to get up from the sofa the next afternoon.

As he turned on the TV, the front door opened, and the high schooler returned, accompanied by someone this time, a chubby guy. Chen Jing introduced him as his friend, here to study together.

This was the high schooler’s first time bringing a friend over. Jiang Yujin, feeling like a proud father, shed tears of joy, warmly greeting the chubby guy.

With the lingering scent of alcohol in the air, the chubby guy, observing the slightly stubbled chin of the man on the sofa, greeted him, “Hello, uncle.”

Elevated to an uncle’s status, Jiang Yujin still smiled happily and enthusiastically offered, “Would you like something to drink? Uncle has water and some wine.”

After a brief pause, he added, “And water.”

The person accepted the role of uncle quite naturally.

“…No need for anything,” Chen Jing said, “We’ll go to our room to study.”

So, Jiang Yujin stayed in the living room, continuing to watch TV. Incidentally, he spotted someone familiar on the screen.

In the upper right corner of the TV, there was a wanted poster. The face on the poster was unfamiliar, but the bald head was striking.

Below the news was a line: [Serial thief arrested].

Jiang Yujin raised an eyebrow and slowly took a sip of water.

The TV’s sound was blocked outside the door. Chen Jing and Xiao Pang sat at the table in the room. Xiao Pang pulled out a folded photocopy of an invitation, whispering:

“Do you remember Lu Dongcheng? The fanatic follower of 001?”

He continued, “If it’s him, he might try every means to find out about 001. In half a month, he’ll attend a banquet, a good opportunity to get closer to him.”

Lu Dongcheng, ranked fourth in the game, a notorious zealot known for dedicating his life to pursuing 001.

Due to his high status and infrequent public appearances, it was challenging to access the places he frequented. Compared to other venues, a banquet was one of the easiest places to infiltrate.

Chen Jing nodded, then glanced at the invitation again, feeling strangely familiar.

It seemed like he had seen the same pattern somewhere, perhaps in a trash can.

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