Chapter 55.1 – One-eyed (1)
Jiang Yujin’s memory failed him, so only the barber shop owner remembered. He briefly said, “Encountered before, in the Insect Valley, called Deng Jiang.”
Before entering the Insect Valley instance, he had heard this name. At that time, this person was already notorious for being ruthless and fond of using insects to assassinate other players.
However, when in the Insect Valley, the person still had both eyes. It was only during the escape that insects blinded him completely. Now, for some reason, he seemed to have acquired another eye and unexpectedly, contrary to his character, joined an organization.
Jiang Yujin seemed to have some recollection but not much. He stood up from his chair, looking down and pulling out his phone.
Their task ended here; the rest was left to the professionals.
The professionals referred to the members of the SIU. After a few eager attempts, Jiang Yujin finally remembered the SIU’s phone number. The call automatically connected to the local branch based on his location.
As he spoke, he pondered, attempting to describe the appearance of the insects in the pond: “Long and black, very swift… like a swoosh, you know?”
The other end might not have quite understood.
Before he continued his description, the barber shop owner standing nearby pointed to a corner of the surveillance footage, saying, “There might be something else to mention.”
Jiang Yujin looked over and saw a limp figure.
It was his newly made friend, apparently unconscious, being carried over the outermost courtyard wall by someone, their silhouette disappearing completely.
Jiang Yujin added, “Another person has been taken away,” as he walked outside, heading towards where the figure had vanished.
It was quite a distance from the surveillance room. Some people involuntarily move while on the phone. Caretakers might walk while on the call, unknowingly straying too far, leading to trouble when they reach a certain point. There was a phone on the ground, most likely dropped while being held, its screen visibly cracked. The call hadn’t disconnected, and the voice of the other person could still be heard: “Hello? Can you hear me… her side might have a bad signal.”
The call was then disconnected. Jiang Yujin picked up the phone, checked the call duration, and casually ended the call on the nearby phone.
He turned to the barber shop owner, asking, “What’s the story?”
The barber shop owner replied, “Deng Jiang has an associate, Zheng Dao, who enjoys conducting assassinations and ambushes.”
Because of their experience, that’s why taking the person away this time was so smooth.
Apart from being held hostage himself, Jiang Yujin had no experience with others being tied up. After some thought, he said to the barber shop owner, “Go up there and make sure the person doesn’t die.”
The person was somewhat of a new gossip friend and employer; trouble wasn’t an option right now.
Already being called upon multiple times in just one morning, the barber shop owner, irritated, lit a cigarette. “I must have been possessed by evil when I agreed to come with you.”
He made a sudden move to attack Jiang Yujin’s head from behind, applying considerable force. Before leaving, gritting his teeth, he said, “After this mess is over, go and open a shop opposite the SIU.”
Whoever gets used to it should bear it, and it is Xu Tonggui’s responsibility to pay for it himself.
Caught off guard by the sudden hit on the back of his head, and still expecting him to do something, Jiang Yujin couldn’t bear it.
If only he had the money to open a shop opposite the SIU headquarters, he could have easily quit working long ago.
The SIU local branch’s support team arrived later. None of them were familiar, and they all appeared quite serious. The team split into two groups: one remained here to seal off the pond, securing the scene and transporting samples to a specialized research institution. The other team was tasked with tracing the whereabouts of the taken individual, going to review the surveillance footage.
They seemed occupied.
Jiang Yujin was originally questioned, and once the interrogation was over, had nothing else to do but idle by the side and watch them work.
The SIU Headquarters was still dealing with the mess left by the One-eyed man. Since tracing their last lead, they had chased from A City to the adjacent city. In the end, it was Xu Tonggui who made the arrest, while the others handled transportation and custody.
Previously, a heavily injured Zero member of the organization had arrived at the SIU, seeking his safety in exchange for organizational secrets. The management agreed to his terms. One of the secrets he revealed was among the organization’s latest research findings, involving something on the One-eyed individual. He speculated it was a strange species, likely insectoid due to One-eyed’s preferences. Finally, he provided potential locations where One-eyed might appear.
There were a total of several locations. They actually spotted One-eyed in one of those places, but One-eyed, being alert, quickly realized someone was stalking him and began to dart around.
Xu Tonggui captured the person yesterday, and during a thorough search, they found nothing on him. Meanwhile, various abnormalities started occurring at places One-eyed had passed through: maggots blocking drains, creatures capable of corroding steel, minuscule worms that could devour brains, leading to two fatalities.
These cases had to be handled, especially with the possibility that the latest research findings of the organization might be involved. Due to the recent surge in incidents and insufficient manpower at the HQ, they had to clean up the messes after apprehending individuals.
Midway through handling these issues, the neighboring branch called, reporting strange species at the lotus pond where One-eyed had passed through yesterday. Furthermore, an individual had been abducted by unknown persons.
The abducted person was just a regular lotus caretaker, had no known grievances with anyone, and the incident occurred after the other incidents, making it highly likely to be connected to One-eyed. Unusual events always have peculiar reasons behind them, so they swiftly focused on the lotus pond with strange species.
The situation at the lotus pond was handed over to personnel from the HQ, who promptly arrived on-site for takeover.
Upon their immediate arrival, the HQ’s personnel spotted a familiar figure. The individual seemed quite nonchalant, squatting by the roadside, playing with dewdrops on the lotus leaves, causing them to spin around without falling.
Sensing movements behind, the person squatting turned, and in that instant, the approaching individual could clearly perceive joy and gratitude in his eyes.
At first glance, he recognized Xu Gao walking among the crowd. It was a genuine moment of happiness for Jiang Yujin, akin to meeting a non-blood relative. He smiled as he observed the handover between the two parties.
As expected, a rascal remained a rascal. They feigned seriousness in front of the branch personnel but, once they left, Xu Gao turned to Jiang Yujin, waving with a sparkle in his eyes.
It was evident that this person was already contemplating how to engage in some relaxed chat. Taking the initiative, he took over the work of gathering evidence from relevant witnesses and joyfully rushed over to Jiang Yujin.
It was stated to be a follow-up for evidence gathering, but in reality, all the necessary questioning had been done previously. There was no need to question the person again.
Squatting side by side at the lotus pond, Xu Gao asked, “How come you’re here in a place like this again?”
This person seemed inherently tied to these situations; wherever something happened, they had to be involved.
Jiang Yujin rubbed his hair. “Even if you ask me like this, it’s hard for me to say.”
He had simply made a new friend and taken on another assignment. Glancing at the others working, Jiang Yujin asked, “Where’s Xu Tonggui?”
“Captain Xu has other matters; Vice Captain Hu is in charge of this now.” Looking towards a person nearby, unusually not wearing a floral shirt, Xu Gao remarked, “Vice Captain Hu might not look like it, but he’s actually quite reliable.”
Jiang Yujin felt that perhaps everyone present might be more dependable than the rascal beside him. But the rascal also had his merits, a thought he didn’t voice.
Noticing the attention directed at him, Hu Li, standing not far away, turned and exchanged a few words with those around him before striding over.
Both of them squatted in a neat line, and Hu Li followed suit, taking out his phone and handing over a video clip to Jiang Yujin. With a smile, he asked, “How did you spot this?”
The video he handed over was footage from the surveillance monitor, precisely the few seconds of distorted brickwork.
Objectively speaking, such minute changes might not even be noticeable to a professional.
“Although I’ve mentioned it before, I can say it again,” Jiang Yujin said, “It was my assistant who noticed this; he deals with hair strands every day, so he’s quite sensitive to these things.”
His reference to his assistant was clearly indicating the barber shop owner.
From the monitor footage, it was indeed noticeable that someone had been consistently accompanying him today, and both individuals appeared to have no unusual behavior.
Hu Li inquired, “Why did your assistant leave on their own?”
Jiang Yujin shook his head, sighing with some regret. “He wasn’t satisfied with the wages I offered and left after hitting me.”
The wages referred to unpaid work and covering fuel expenses.
Not knowing the full story, Xu Gao patted his shoulder, reassuring him, “You’ll find a better assistant next.”
Jiang Yujin thanked him for his comfort.
Unable to get any further information, Hu Li stood up and returned to work, taking the slacking Xu Gao along.
With his chatting partner taken away, Jiang Yujin was left alone, pondering and messaging to check on his assistant’s situation.
The former assistant, now hired as an assistant again, was still trailing behind Zheng Dao and the caretaker. It seemed like an ingrained habit, one they couldn’t shake off. The person he followed had a penchant for wandering into obscure corners, diverging from the straight path. Even walking slowly behind, he managed to keep pace.
After carrying the person for a while, Zheng Dao veered off increasingly and eventually entered an abandoned building.
The building had been marked for demolition, but it seemed time had passed, leaving it abandoned and untouched.
Assassins are perceptive; the barber shop owner didn’t get too close. He squatted at a distance, ensuring he could intervene before any killing occurred.
Zheng Dao had scars on his face, running from his forehead down to his mouth at a slant, dark scars almost traversing his entire face. The surrounding skin appeared burnt and heavily wrinkled, giving him a fearsome appearance when expressionless.
He used physical means to awaken the caretaker, who, even while unconscious, continued to emit sounds of agony.
Different from the concerned citizen, Jiang Yujin, or perhaps fundamentally similar, the barber shop owner showed no change in expression upon hearing the cries of pain, and his movements did not change.
Jiang Yujin’s task was simply to ensure the person didn’t die. As long as she remained alive, he didn’t need to intervene.
At a distance, the barber shop owner observed as Zheng Dao pulled out a phone.
He called the SIU, pinching the caretaker’s neck to make her produce sound for the person on the other end to hear clearly. Zheng Dao made his demands.
“First, release Deng Jiang and have him go to the lotus pond. Second, don’t take away any worms from the lotus pond. Return any taken away. If Deng Jiang doesn’t find the worm he’s looking for and leaves safely, the person here will die.”
Without waiting for the person on the other end to answer, he hung up the phone, spat to the side and said, “It’s bad luck.”
The bases consecutively faced issues, and the organization suspected infiltration. Consequently, they began sweeping them one by one, but they didn’t expect this cleansing to implicate them as well.
Someone who knew they were on the suspicion list absconded one night, only for the other party to run directly to the SIU and reveal their actions.
Deng Jiang was under surveillance, carrying research results urgently needed by the HQ. In a moment of urgency, they contacted him, instructing him to throw the item into the last lotus pond in the lotus garden for retrieval later.
Upon his arrival, he overheard the person beside him making a call about unidentified creatures in the lotus pond. Their next move was to contact the SIU.
It was imaginable that Deng Jiang’s carelessness led to the strange species escaping. After their escape, the strange species rapidly began reproducing through division.
Their experiments resulted in the mother strange species; it could only be the mother strange species. According to the lab, the genetic bridges and unique cell secretions implanted by those people were only present inside the mother strange species’s body. The grown offspring were identical to the mother. The only person capable of identifying the mother among the pond’s strange species was Deng Jiang.
He never liked dealing with complex matters. Being inexplicably stuck with this mess only made him feel bad luck.