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Despite having to suffer some pain, Shi Jin was very satisfied with the results of today’s test.
First of all, he determined the plot had loopholes—his brothers did not necessarily want to kill him; at least, Rong Zhouzhong either did not want to or wouldn’t really do it even if he thought about it.
Secondly, the fluctuation of the progress bar was very problematic, and he needed to analyze the correlation between it and danger one more time.
Finally, the increase and decrease of the progress bar may be influenced by other things in addition to the lethal factors or his understanding of the lethal factors was too limited.
Xiao Si’s expression showed it didn’t really understand.
Shi Jin explained, “The lethal factors can be divided into subjective factors and objective factors. Lian Jun’s progress bar is affected mostly by objective factors, such as the state of his body, whether there are people aiming for him nearby or whether the location he’s in is dangerous, and so on.
My situation is different—my progress is going up and down randomly, just like a roller coaster. It’s influenced by many subjective factors, for example, my brothers or some unknown person intentions to kill me and such.
The difference between me and your Darling can be seen clearly when we compare our ways of death: if Lian Jun’s progress bar fills up, he’s going to die right away, but in my case, the plot will take over and I will have to passively follow it until it ends with my death, like in the book.”
Xiao Si looked to be deep in thought.
“There’s another significant difference between Lian Jun’s and my progress bars—the fluctuation of his progress bar is related only to his health or the increase of lethal factors in his vicinity, and the fluctuation of my progress bar may also be related to survival factors.”
Xiao Si was puzzled. <Survival factors?>
“Yes, this is my current conjecture. Do you remember my progress bar decreasing by a large amount when Lian Jun allowed me to stay with him? At that time, I had thought that Lian Jun’s existence intimidated those who wanted to kill me, which reduced my lethal factors, and that’s why my progress bar fell. If we look at it from another angle though, it’s not that my lethal factors decreased because of the fear of Lian Jun, but that Lian Jun increased the chances of me saving my life—he’s my survival factor. Don’t you think this explanation makes much more sense?”
Xiao Si still couldn’t quite comprehend the difference. It was originally heavily damaged, and being bound to Shi Jin limited its abilities further. As a result, it wasn’t actually all that smart.
Seeing its frustration, Shi Jin scratched his head. He did not know how to make it understand the details, so he decided to simplify his explanation: “You see, my progress bar is actually influenced by both lethal and survival factors. I used to believe that my brothers were lethal factors, but now I think they might in fact be survival factors. Of course, it does not rule out the possibility that some of them do want to kill me, but at least Rong Zhouzhong and Shi Weichong should not be considered lethal factors right now.”
This time, Xiao Si managed to follow Shi Jin’s meaning. <What you mean is that some of the five brothers may not be bad people, so avoiding them doesn’t reduce your lethal factors—on the contrary, having a good relationship with them can increase your survival factors and make the progress bar fall?> It asked.
“Yes, exactly! If we put aside our prejudice, then all of my brothers are very impressive. If I improve our relationship, then won’t I have a lot of powerful thighs to hug?” Envisioning this future, Shi Jin smiled blissfully. He then continued to say, “Before our fight, Rong Zhouzhong never took the initiative to call me or send me text messages, but today he did. What does this prove? It proves that friendship between men is established through fighting!”
His blind optimism made Xiao Si speechless, and it felt it had to pour cold water on this plan: <But JinJin, even if they don’t want to kill you, it’s very likely you died because of them. Approaching them is almost equivalent to approaching the murderer. Have you forgotten the great increase in your progress bar just before you arrived in B City, and when you met Shi Weichong and your third and fourth brother?>
Pop! Shi Jin’s dream world existed only for a few seconds before it was punctured by cruel reality. Xiao Si was right—considering the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ non-existent social circle, his death could only be related to his brothers. The murderer should be either one of them or a person connected with them, otherwise, it was impossible to explain the crazy jumps of the progress bar when it came to them.
Therefore, even if Shi Jin more or less analyzed the reasons for every increase and decrease of the progress bar, it did not help him to find an answer to the most fundamental question. On the contrary, removing Shi Weichong and other brothers from the list of murder suspects actually made things much more complicated.
When Shi Jin believed his five brothers were guilty, he only needed to focus on dealing with them, but now that the murderer could be anyone he might provoke him or her by accident, so his every step had to be as cautious as if he was walking through a minefield.
Thinking about this, Shi Jin felt a little despairing.
“Oh well, we’ve still made some progress. At least we know who we should suspect.” Shi Jin quickly pulled himself together. He found some paper and a pen, then promptly wrote down the names of his five brothers, drawing a circle around ‘Shi Weichong’ and ‘Rong Zhouzhong’. He thought aloud, “Big Brother and Third Brother have been ruled out, and I haven’t contacted the remaining three brothers yet. That leaves us my brothers’ friends, relatives, subordinates, business partners, competitors…”
Xiao Si continued to pour cold water: <With your brothers’ fame and connections, these people add up to tens of thousands.>
Shi Jin: “…”
He tried to narrow the scope of suspects further: “What if we only consider interested parties…”
Xiao Si: <That narrows them down to only about a million.>
Shi Jin was shocked. “How come the number increased?”
<Don’t you think Rong Zhouzhong fanatical followers and fans can be also counted among these people? Well, strictly speaking, a million is only a conservative estimate,> answered Xiao Si.
Shi Jin: “…”
The analysis seemed to have reached a dead end. Shi Jin sprawled on the sofa, feeling brain-dead, and Xiao Si accompanied him in his daze.
A few minutes later, Shi Jin sat up, his eyes flashing light like the TV detective’s who had found a vital clue to solving the case. He said excitedly, “Xiao Si, we have neglected a very important issue—the motive. Why would someone want to kill an underage high school student? What makes him special?”
Startled, Xiao Si tried to follow his train of thoughts and replied hesitantly, <He’s very rich? And he’s the favorite son of Shi Xingrui?> Except for that, there didn’t seem to be anything significant about ‘Shi Jin’.
Shi Jin nodded his head vigorously and discreetly encouraged the system to think things through: “Now if we take these two things into consideration and sift through the possible suspects again, the people who have the motive to kill the original ‘Shi Jin’ are…”
The lightbulb seemed to flash above Xiao Si’s head, and it roared, <His five brothers!>
Shi Jin almost choked to death trying to stop himself from screaming in despair.
<… And their mothers and other family members!> Xiao Si continued, its mechanic voice becoming excited. <They also have a motive!>
Shi Jin calmed down, feeling slightly relieved—it seemed his ‘golden finger’ wasn’t totally hopeless. He nodded and added, “There are still some people we can’t ignore, that is, Shi Xingrui’s close subordinates. I suspect some of them betrayed ‘Shi Jin’ and colluded with his enemies because the car accident happened soon after ‘Shi Jin’ contacted them. It’s just that the timing was too well-chosen and I can’t be sure who seized the opportunity to get rid of ‘him’.”
Xiao Si started to feel anxious. <There’s still so many suspects…>
“It’s all right. We will keep eliminating them one by one, and sooner or later, we will uncover the real mastermind,” consoled it Shi Jin. Taking a look at the clock, he noticed it was time for dinner, so he stood up, exhaling loudly and letting go of his feelings. “I don’t want to think anymore, let’s eat! Only after eating can I have enough strength to investigate!”
Influenced by him, Xiao Si agreed with an enthusiastic “uh-huh”, echoing, <Yes, let’s eat first! Go eat dinner, JinJin!>
After a moment, it added quietly, <JinJin, I’m really useless. I’m sorry…>
“It doesn’t matter.” Shi Jin waved his hand with a smile. He opened the door and headed towards the dining room, comforting it warmly, “If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have a chance to live this life. You’re already very formidable, and you will be even better in the future. I believe in you.”
Xiao Si was so moved it wanted to cry, but it was afraid Shi Jin would scold it for being too noisy, so it tried to choke its emotions back. In the end, what it let out was, <Hiccup.>
Shi Jin: “…”
When Shi Jin walked into the dining room, Lian Jun was already present, and there were seven or eight dishes on the table. Shi Jin gave them a cursory glance and found that unexpectedly, most of them were his favorites.
“Sit.” Lian Jun put his tablet down when he saw Shi Jin come in.
Immediately, Shi Jin sat down and smiled at Lian Jun as always, trying to flatter him again with his usual lack of skill: “Jun-shao, you seem to be full of energy today.”
Lian Jun eyed him briefly and picked up his chopsticks. “Don’t smile, your swollen face is too ugly.”
Shi Jin: “…”
Even so, they had a quiet meal in a fairly harmonious atmosphere. When dinner was over and Shi Jin was about to leave, Lian Jun called out, “I need to talk to you.”
Shi Jin turned back at once and sat down, looking attentive.
Lian Jun asked the waiter to bring them something to drink and said, “Usually, I would simply command my subordinates without discussing anything with them in advance, but your situation is somewhat special, so this isn’t an order, but a request. The government wants us to cooperate with them for a task, and I’m thinking of letting you go.”
Shi Jin was surprised for a moment, then nodded his head to show he understood—when he decided to follow Lian Jun, he already knew it wouldn’t be all flowers and sunshine. It was obvious he couldn’t just eat for free and laze about, so he had been mentally prepared to fulfill some assignments.
“Don’t agree too fast.” Lian Jun raised his hand to stop him and elaborated, “You would need to participate in this mission alone, without Gua Two—the only people you will cooperate with will be from the official side, what’s more, this task is rather dangerous. You can decide whether you want to take part in it or not, I’m not going to force you.”
Independent task? And Lian Jun wants to let a rookie undertake it?
Taken aback, Shi Jin was asked, “Jun-shao, why would you want me to go? Aren’t you afraid I’ll screw up?”
“It doesn’t matter if you screw up, this time I can help you out even if you do,” Lian Jun answered, his slender finger circling the rim of the glass. “As for why I want you to go… The objective reason is, your age and qualifications make you the most suitable person. Letting you go is the optimal choice.”
Shi Jin decided to probe further: “Is there any subjective reason?”
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