Chapter 62.1 – Duolan Mountain (2)

Family Member Jiang used his strong persuasive skills to get onto the SIU’s vehicle. The team members by his side were trying to reassure him, promising to do their utmost to find his son.

When he stopped playing Xiaoxiaole, he appeared slightly more serious. He casually responded to the reassuring words from the SIU around him. Jiang Yujin then picked up his phone again and sent a message to the high schooler.

No response.

Putting away the phone and raising his head again, Jiang Yujin glanced at the back of the car and said, “There’s quite a lot of stuff in your car.”

The conversation suddenly shifted from the son to the equipment in the car. The nearby SIU member didn’t immediately react, then nodded and began to introduce.

The introduction of the car’s contents was much easier than comforting people. They skipped over the parts that couldn’t be disclosed. He mentioned there was a place in the back used for holding prisoners. When there were no prisoners, they’d use it to rest. In cases of overnight outdoor missions, it was the best resting spot.

Jiang Yujin curiously asked, “Do you change clothes?”

The other person mentioned there was a spare set, but they usually didn’t use it.

Jiang Yujin nodded.

In another car ahead, Hu Li sat in the backseat, quietly listening to the latest news from the H City branch.

In short, there was no progress. There were bloodstains at the scene, but no obvious signs of a fight. The other side speculated two possibilities: either the group encountered an overwhelmingly powerful strange species, against which they couldn’t resist, or they encountered equally overwhelming individuals—or even a group, which seemed more likely.

If it was the former, the survival probability of these dozen or so people was slim. If it was the latter, perhaps they were still alive somewhere else.

After hearing the news, Hu Li turned to look at Xu Gao sitting in the backseat and asked, “How come Jiang Yujin is here?”

Xu Gao replied, “He came to share some interesting life stories with me.”

He truly hadn’t expected that by leaving work a few tens of minutes early, an office colleague would go out on a mission within that short timeframe. This left just him from the fourth unit, and the task of going to H City ended up falling squarely on his shoulders.

‘If I had known, I would’ve left work later in the evening.’

This person made gossip sound like they have a lively life. Without commenting on his statement, Hu Li said, “Keep an eye on him after we get off the car later.”

Xu Gao replied, “Didn’t we agree that he’d wait in the car earlier?”

They understood the family member’s desire to know the progress as soon as possible, and the other person’s eloquence was really impressive, so they agreed to take him to H City, but he could only stay in the car.

Hu Li said, “Do you think he can stay put?”

After some thought, Xu Gao nodded understandingly.

It was hard to imagine that the person would actually obediently stay in the car.

The vehicle drove from A City into H City, and the road to Duolan Mountain was clear all the way.

Duolan Mountain was already cordoned off, preventing unrelated personnel from entering. The vehicles stopped outside the marked yellow line, and the members of the SIU quickly disembarked.

Just as Hu Li said, after the team members in black uniform got off the vehicle, the man in a wrinkled shirt also got out of the car and slowly looked up at the mountain in front of him.

Considering this person’s character, locking him in the car would be considered restricting his freedom. Instead of letting him roam around, it was better to keep him close.

Hu Li gestured to Xu Gao, who understood his meaning and waved to Jiang Yujin.

From the time they left A City until now, the H City branch had already searched every nook and cranny of the mountain, yet they found no trace of people or strange species, nor did they discover any other clues.

It was like burning a candle at both ends—whether these dozen or so people encountered strange species or were taken by someone else, there were no leads, making it likely to become a cold case.

The H City branch couldn’t handle a cold case involving a dozen people and swiftly passed it to the HQ, now referring to it as an “Assisting the HQ in case handling.”

Ignoring the branch personnel, the others went to search the surrounding mountains. Hu Li started climbing, while Xu Gao led Jiang Yujin following behind.

Climbing the mountain was indeed climbing—a not very tall mountain with few climbers, hence no cable cars; they relied solely on walking to ascend.

Halfway through, Jiang Yujin somehow found a long stick to use as a hiking pole and attempted to negotiate with Xu Gao nearby, “Can you carry me on your back?”

The gossip-loving companion firmly refused.

It was a sunny day. Finally reaching halfway up the mountain, the sun shone brightly in the sky, causing a slight stinging sensation on their skin.

Hu Li brought out his flashy floral shirt, making his already unserious appearance seem even more unreliable against the backdrop of the vibrant shirt.

They spotted bloodstains on the ground, scattered in small dots, forming a long trail.

Just as mentioned by the branch personnel, there were no obvious signs of a struggle here. It appeared to be an ordinary half-mountain, with nothing particularly distinctive.

Squinting, Hu Li looked up at the mountain and said, “Let’s continue going up.”

The H City branch’s leader wiped the sweat off his forehead and advised, “The upper part is a rockfall zone. Our people have checked; the missing individuals aren’t up there.”

Rather than searching for the missing individuals, the correct course of action now was to look for traces of strange species or clues regarding an unknown group. That would shed light on where those people might have been taken.

Hu Li continued ascending, climbing over the fenced barrier.

Some people looked half-dead but managed to keep up, albeit trailing slowly behind.

As they ascended, more scattered rocks by the roadside became visible—rocks big enough to fatally injure an adult.

There had been a minor earthquake in the area previously, causing changes in the mountain’s structure, resulting in rockfalls. Even now, walking on the path, one could see protruding rocks with faint cracks, seemingly on the verge of breaking apart at any moment.

From the foot to the summit, it was challenging for the branch’s personnel to keep up all the way. The leader wiped the sweat with a completely soaked handkerchief and said, “It’s quite dangerous here. Let’s head down first.”

So much time had passed; neither strange species nor the unknown group would likely still be present here. Continuing the search would only be futile.

Jiang Yujin stood under the only shade of a tree, using his phone to fan himself, and casually remarked, “They might not even be here.”

Hu Li looked at him.

Xu Gao on the side squeezed with him, using this shady place to spread their imagination, and followed his words: “There’s a saying, ‘It’s darkest under the lamp.’ Maybe there’s a secret base of some other organization here, where they’ve taken these people as experimental subjects.”

If there were others present, they might praise him for his childlike innocence, suggesting he’d make a good scriptwriter.

Jiang Yujin glanced at him, a slight smirk on his face.

The H City branch leader, tired of being exposed to the sun, said, “The rabbit doesn’t eat near its burrow.”

If such an organization truly existed, the risk of exposure would be too high. It wouldn’t make sense for them to capture people in their own backyard.

Hu Li said, “There’s a kind of rabbit called the snow rabbit.”

Xu Gao didn’t understand but didn’t want to reveal his ignorance, so he quietly asked the person next to him, “What does that mean?”

Jiang Yujin explained, “Snow rabbits do eat near their burrows.”

He added, patting the person’s shoulder. “It means your Vice-Captain agrees with your idea.”

A third line of thinking opened up, opened in a strange and bizarre way, sounding as unreliable as Hu Li’s floral shirt.

The H City branch leader looked at them with an indescribable expression, clearly doubting the intelligence of the HQ’s personnel.

Feeling a bit tired from standing, Jiang Yujin changed his posture, raising and then dropping the tree branch he was using as a hiking pole, making a sound.

Unlike the sound of tapping on solid ground, this sound was odd.

Xu Gao tapped it low and then said as he lifted his head, “It seems like there’s something hollow underneath.”

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