Chapter 26.1 – Observers and Rule Setters

However, considering working for a year without a break and a salary of twenty-five hundred a month, it seemed inevitable that this branch would have to be done for sooner or later.

Jiang Yujin briefly recalled the declaration made by Shi Bu’s former employer a while ago, contemplated for a moment, then smiled and said, “It’s alright even if this place falls apart. I’ll recommend you a good place.”

He had a broad smile on his face, reached out to pat Shi Bu on the shoulder, and said, “Do you know about Lu Dongcheng?”

Shi Bu nodded, “I do, the one who was pursuing you…”

The rest of his words were muted under Jiang Yujin’s gaze.

“If you stick with his company, you’ll be right,” Jiang Yujin said. “It’s a big group, a large company, with guaranteed benefits.”

Shi Bu trusted him a lot and nodded immediately, “Okay.”

After resolving the employment issue, Jiang Yujin looked up at the still-lit electronic screen occupying an entire wall and asked, “Are there any surveillance cameras here?”

By ‘here’, he meant the entire branch.

Shi Bu nodded in affirmation.

Jiang Yujin remarked, “Disguise as an external force, destroy all the data.”

Once the data was destroyed, he patted the person next to him, urging him to get up. “Pack up and leave this place in two minutes.”

Shi Bu quickly bent down to gather his prized possessions.

Not wanting to stay in the garbage room any longer, Jiang Yujin stood up as well, lifted his foot, and walked out, waiting outside the door.

In two minutes, Shi Bu packed up bags of belongings and appeared at the door on time. They both went upstairs together.

The sound of firearms upstairs had ceased, but there were noises of strange species activity, not as intense as before, probably indicating some significant injuries.

The previously relatively tidy corridor was now crowded with people. Jiang Yujin, at the far end, saw the tattooed man pinned under the sticky corpse of a strange species—perhaps he couldn’t be called the tattooed man anymore as his tattooed arms were nowhere to be seen, who knows where they flew off. Some strange species were still alive but had several massive wounds, continuously oozing blood and flesh.

Jiang Yujin continued up the stairs, while Shi Bu instinctively fired a few shots at the remaining strange species, then followed after confirming their deaths.

They climbed the long stairs until they returned to the dilapidated wooden house and emerged from the deep forest. Jiang Yujin said, “You go first, just remember to head to Lu Dongcheng’s company.”

Meeting the other’s gaze, he added, “I’ll stay back and report to the authorities.”

Upon discovering what seemed to be a cult’s stronghold and witnessing a large-scale crime, an exemplary and conscientious citizen ought to report it as soon as possible.

Shi Bu, confused, carried his bags and thoughts, and walked away.

Although he still couldn’t remember the emergency number for the Special Investigation Unit, luckily, the previous call logs were still available. After searching high and low, Jiang Yujin finally found them and managed to make the call from an open area successfully.

The team from the Special Investigation Unit arrived swiftly, at least before his phone ran out of battery while he was playing Xiaoxiaole. Glancing around the crowd, he didn’t spot several people he knew from before, missing the company he could chatter with along the way, which left him sighing with regret.

While his mind was preoccupied with chatter, others seemed quite vigilant, lacking any atmosphere for casual conversation.

After nearly half a day of searching, those who came along initially dealt with the prisoners in the prison building and the bodies of the strange beings, transporting them out.

Meanwhile, others thoroughly inspected both the inside and outside of the branch, finding a considerable amount of fragmented information about Organization Zero in the data room on the first floor.

However, the information was scattered, leaving everything about the organization’s motives, structure, and even the location of their headquarters, unknown.

After completing their investigation and gathering subsequent relevant information, they inquired about the reason for the presence of the concerned citizen surnamed Jiang.

In his statement, Jiang Yujin chose to retain some of the truth. Holding a pen and following the person taking notes, he began, “Well, it all started at the convenience store.”

He got into an argument with a friend, went to the store to buy something for that friend, but coincidentally encountered a robbery in progress. He intervened, preventing the shameful act, and the robber, pretending to repent, deceitfully invited him for tea, leading him to an unfinished building with the intention to kill him. Unexpectedly, internal conflicts arose among the robbers themselves, leading the leader to kill everyone, including the robber and his accomplices.

To save himself, he pretended to have important information to convey. The leader then took him to this remote forest, but they stumbled upon a problem with the containment of the strange species. When everyone was preoccupied, he managed to escape and found a place with signal reception to call for help.

However, it seemed evident that the others didn’t manage to escape.

His storytelling was so thrilling that the others involuntarily widened their eyes as they listened. Once he paused, someone couldn’t help but ask, “What happened next?”

Jiang Yujin shrugged, “Then you all showed up.”

As the story returned to reality, a few bystanders contemplated the words he had just spoken. It all seemed rational yet surreal. However, the person in front of them appeared sincere and serious, making it difficult to believe that the entire sequence of events wasn’t true.

The questioning concluded, and the person taking notes stood up, extending a hand, “Thank you for your cooperation and timely notification.”

Jiang Yujin briefly shook hands with them, and the red string on his wrist swayed slightly with the movement. He replied, “You’re welcome.”

*

The bodies of both humans and the strange species were taken to a temporary collection point nearby. All the weapons discovered in the branch were transported back to the A City Special Investigation Unit’s headquarters. These items appeared distinctive, and the handlers refrained from touching them lightly. Instead, they were temporarily handed over to a team for identification.

Such items, potentially originating from the Game but unable to be confirmed, were usually shown to them.

The team members were all busy, often out in the field. Only Hu Li staunchly adhered to office hours. If there was no task at hand, he stayed within the office, making him one of the team members who spent the most time in the office.

When the firearms were in their hands, including Hu Li, the few remaining members in the office took a closer look.

Someone remarked, “Quite familiar.”

“Indeed,” Hu Li said, “These were made by Shi Bu.”

There was a momentary quietness in the office.

Setting down the items in his hands, Hu Li continued, “I’ve seen things made by him before, his personal style is quite distinctive.”

That seemed to confirm it. The office became even quieter.

The top fifty players, perhaps not all of them had met Shi Bu, but they had some knowledge, especially those ranking higher. Shi Bu, the Mobile Arsenal, the pinnacle of game weapon manufacturing. Whether he joined Zero or simply cooperated, the situation didn’t bode well for them considering that this branch had weapons made by him.

Someone mentioned, “At the lowest level of the branch, they discovered a room where someone had lived for a long time. Many components were found there, some of which had been recently moved. Considering the circumstances, it’s likely that Shi Bu was the one living in there.”

If the individual had been residing in that room for a long time, it indicated a more permanent presence within the branch. Rather than cooperation, it seemed more like the person had joined the organization. Unfortunately, the branch’s surveillance records were all damaged; otherwise, they could have obtained more useful information.

Hu Li remained silent, drumming his fingers slowly on the tabletop.

*

In the afternoon, Jiang Yujin was kicked out of the barbershop. Late at night, after being sent back in a specialized car, he knocked on the door of the barbershop again.

The front area of the barbershop was where regular haircuts took place, while the back was where the owner rested at night. Knocking on the door here usually meant the person inside could hear.

Jiang Yujin knocked twice, then twice more, and finally another two times.

As he prepared for the final two knocks, the door opened, revealing the barbershop owner’s face, filled with hostility.

Jiang Yujin patted the owner’s shoulder, “Good evening.”

The owner didn’t look too pleased.

Even if the owner seemed unhappy, Jiang Yujin had to share the absurd job Shi Bu had done as soon as possible.

The barbershop owner: “…”

For a moment, the barbershop owner didn’t know which piece of news to be more surprised about. Both were quite explosive.

The sleepiness was completely gone. The owner went back into the shop, lit a cigarette, and asked, “How did he end up there…”

Mid-sentence, he fell silent.

It was quite imaginable, the other person was a bit foolish, so anything was possible.

As if guessing his thoughts, Jiang Yujin said, “Isn’t it?”

Footsteps echoed from the end of the street. A dim crimson light appeared, and the barbershop owner, puffing on the lit cigarette, remarked, “Your cheap son is back.”

The faint footsteps didn’t sound as smooth as usual, interrupted as if the person had sustained some serious injury again.

Sighing, Jiang Yujin stepped inside, saying, “I’m crashing here tonight.”

The barbershop owner stepped aside, allowing him in this time.

When Chen Jing arrived downstairs, the barbershop door was closed, and the street was deserted. He walked upstairs quietly, turning the key to open the door. Inside, the room was pitch black. He glanced at the entrance but didn’t spot the familiar shoes.

It seemed that Citizen Jiang, wasn’t home today; probably off somewhere drinking again.

It was actually better not to be home tonight. Chen Jing relaxed, relieved that no one had spotted him along the way. He got up and searched through the cabinet, skillfully tending to his wounds with the first aid kit.

In the deep night, the tearing sound of the bandage was swallowed by darkness.

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