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Lian Jun also looked at Shi Jin then moved over to his side and grabbed his free left hand. Squeezing it gently, he soothed, “Don’t get angry, the traitor isn’t worth it.” His voice was indescribably tender.
Shi Jin immediately grasped Lian Jun’s hand, holding it tight.
Xiao Si squawked in surprise. Suddenly, the future looked bright.
Gua One and the others turned towards the two, some even leaning hard to the side to see better, and stared at their clasped hands. Their eyes went wide as if doubting what they saw.
It was such a tense moment, but pink bubbles seemed to float in the air.
Shi Jin, however, was oblivious to it all. He pulled Lian Jun back a few steps and cautioned him with a frown, “Jun-shao, don’t get too close—I suspect there’s a problem with Long Shi.” He moved to stand in front of the wheelchair, still aiming at the traitor.
Long Shi stopped shouting the moment the teenager pulled out his gun. After seeing the interaction between Shi Jin and Lian Jun, his expression distorted, and he began to struggle desperately. “Jun-shao! Who is he? Who is that little bastard pointing a gun at me? Why can he touch you, why!”
Lian Jun’s face sank. He was about to speak when Shi Jin unceremoniously pulled the trigger.
The bullet flew, but its target was Zuo Yang’s hand clamped on Long Shi’s arm.
Nine Eagles’ leader had been thoughtfully looking back and forth between Lian Jun and Shi Jin. He snorted coldly and dodged, pulling Long Shi with him.
The shot directly destroyed the fragile peace between the two sides. Suddenly, a large number of people poured onto both decks, pointing guns at each other. Battle seemed imminent.
Lian Jun’s progress bar fell to 950, just after Long Shi shut up and the two sides squared off.
Shi Jin was more and more convinced there was something suspicious about Long Shi; the man couldn’t be allowed in contact with Lian Jun. He reloaded his gun—this time, he aimed directly at the traitor’s head.
Long Shi’s expression became even more terrible. His eyes on Shi Jin were full of burning hatred. He struggled and tried to shout, but Zuo Yang stuffed a piece of cloth in his mouth.
“It seems your little subordinate doesn’t want you to live, Lian Jun,” Zuo Yang drawled. He reached for the knife stabbed in Long Shi’s arm and pulled it out with one long jerk.
Blood gushed out, spattering on the deck. Long Shi’s eyes snapped wide open, and he screamed, the sound muffled by the gag. His face rapidly lost color.
Uncle Long clenched his jaw and looked away.
Zuo Yang wiped the bloody knife on Long Shi’s clothes. He glanced at Lian Jun half-hidden behind Shi Jin, and said, “Lian Jun, you have to think clearly—if you let your subordinates kill Long Shi, your legs will never get better. Let’s make a deal: I’ll trade him for this kid and the old guy over there. It’s quite a bargain, wouldn’t you say?” He pointed at Shi Jin and Uncle Long with his knife.
The expressions of Gua One and the others became ugly. Zuo Yang could really pick people: one was Lian Jun’s object of affection and the other his personal doctor with detailed knowledge of his physical condition. He wanted to exchange the traitor who wouldn’t tell the truth even if asked about the weather for these two? It was a bargain, sure—for him!
If you’re seeing this notice, you’re reading this chapter on pirate site – the original translator of Death Progress Bar is Betwixted Translations.
Lian Jun slid out from behind Shi Jin and looked at Zuo Yang. “You’re not in a position to negotiate with me. You can kill the traitor, I don’t care—you won’t get any of my people.”
“Mm, mmph!” When Long Shi heard this, he struggled again. He stared at Lian Jun with wide eyes and actually started to cry
Shi Jin’s mind worked furiously. He turned to Lian Jun and whispered, “Jun-shao, I can…”
“No,” Lian Jun interrupted. He looked up at him, explaining, “Zuo Yang doesn’t really want you and Uncle Long, he just wants me to compromise. If I give in, the initiative will fall out of our hands.”
Of course, Shi Jin understood this, but… He glanced at Long Shi’s face, pale from blood loss, and said, “But if this goes on, he might be tortured to death.”
“If he dies, he dies—from the moment he betrayed Annihilation, his life and death no longer have anything to do with us,” Lian Jun replied. He took Shi Jin’s hand, urging, “Put the gun away, Uncle Long will take care of this.”
Uncle Long will take care of this?
Shi Jin blinked, puzzled. The next moment, he saw Uncle Long snatch a gun from one of the people standing near him and aim at Long Shi. His ever-steady hand was trembling. His finger touched the trigger, tightened, relaxed, then tightened again; it was obvious he was struggling.
“You force your subordinate to kill his son—you really are a cold-blooded son of a bitch, aren’t you, Lian Jun?” When Lian Jun still refused to rise to the bait, Zuo Yang sneered and pulled the gag from Long Shi’s mouth.
Long Shi instantly struggled to turn to face Uncle Long and cried pitifully, “Dad! Dad, I’m sorry, I know I was wrong! Don’t kill me, dad, I was just confused. I just lost my head for a moment! You said you would always protect me, dad!”
Uncle Long’s hand shook harder, and his eyes were red, but he gritted his teeth and said, “The sin you committed is too grave. Long Shi, I’m not saying you should’ve been full of gratitude, but for you to actually try to kill Jun-shao… You’re worse than a beast. The worst mistake I’ve ever made in my life was to accept you as my son! That’s why, today, I’m breaking off our father-son relationship.”
And he pulled the trigger, the bullet aiming straight between Long Shi’s eyebrows.
Zuo Yang hadn’t expected him to really shoot. His expression changed, and he threw Long Shi down to the deck. After barely avoiding the bullet himself, he snapped, “Do you truly not care about your life, Lian Jun? This is your only chance to save your life!”
Lian Jun signaled Gua Five to support Uncle Long, who staggered after firing the gun as if that one shot had completely exhausted him, and said, “My life belongs only to me, I will never live according to someone else’s rules. Zuo Yang, your provocations are useless—Long Shi has never been my weakness. Let alone trade, I would refuse to take him even if you gave him to me for free.”
“So you say, but aren’t you just talking big?” Zuo Yang’s expression sank. Abruptly, he sneered aloud and waved his hand, commanding his subordinates. He made them truss up the nearly comatose Long Shi and tie the other end of the rope to the deck fence. Then he threw Long Shi off the ship.
“What’s going… Aaaaah! Help! I don’t want to feed the sharks! Help! Dad! Dad, save me!” The sudden feeling of weightlessness woke the man up. A second later, the rope broke his fall, and he dangled just over the surface of the sea. Immediately, he started to struggle and scream.
Uncle Long lowered his head, his hands twitching at the sound. On his face, there appeared a kind of weary apathy. He shrugged off Gua Five’s hand and stepped towards the cabin, no longer caring about what would happen.
Lian Jun glanced at him but didn’t stop him.
Long Shi hung too low to see the situation on the deck. He didn’t know Uncle Long had left and continued to beg him for help. Sometimes, he would call Lian Jun. His voice sounded pathetic.
Night fell. The government ship had quietly left, and there was no moon or stars tonight—the whole sea was shrouded in darkness, except for a few lights on the two vessels.
Zuo Yang leaned on the deck fence, lazily grazing the rope tied to Long Shi with his knife. He said, smiling, “Come on, shoot, he’s a stationary target right now. This time, I won’t help him avoid the bullet. Aren’t I kind? Haven’t you always wanted to get rid of the traitor? I caught him for you and even started his punishment. How are you going to thank me, hmm?”
No one on the Annihilation’s ship spoke. Gua One and the others watched Long Shi, who was struggling less and less, with tense expressions and clenched fists—if he died, they would lose their last hope to obtain the poison formula.
Zuo Yang continued to act nonchalant: “Oh well, never mind. Seeing that we are peers, I’ll take a step back and give you a chance to get Long Shi, just… Let’s see, Gua One and Gua Two, and the kid—get in the boat and come over to Long Shi. If you manage to untie the rope, I’ll let you have him.”
Gua One and Gua Two instantly began to make plans, Shi Jin also looked at Lian Jun. It was obvious they were asking for his consent.
“Go inside,” Lian Jun said as if he hadn’t heard Zuo Yang’s words.
Gua Two couldn’t help but call out, “Jun-shao.”
“Go inside,” Lian Jun repeated, his tone brooking no objection. He turned to Gua Five again, “It’s getting late. Get ready to set off.”
Gua Five hesitated for a moment, clearly torn, but obeyed. Gua One and Gua Two wanted to speak; in the end, they stayed silent, but their expressions were unwilling.
“Jun-shao.” Before Shi Jin could stop himself, he grabbed the wheelchair.
Lian Jun looked at him, and reassured, “I’ll put all my effort into getting better without the antidote, even if just for you. It’s clear that Zuo Yang wants to exchange Long Shi for the lives of the three of you, but I’ll never make such a gamble.”
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Even if just for you.
When Shi Jin heard these words, his heart skipped a beat. His hands unconsciously tightening on the wheelchair, he said, “You never planned to get Long Shi back, right? You said you made arrangements, but it was a lie—you were just trying to mollify me, weren’t you?”
Lian Jun didn’t answer, only attempted to take his hand.
Shi Jin promptly broke away from his hold.
“Shi Jin.” Lian Jun paused, then lowered his hand. He looked up at him and explained softly, “Long Shi’s temperament is strange, and he’s mentally unstable. We probably won’t get the poison formula out of him even if we manage to snatch him back. I’m not going to risk your lives when the return is likely to fall short of the cost.”
“For me, a deal with your life as a stake is not something to be considered in terms of costs and benefits.” For the first time, Shi Jin showed a cold expression to Lian Jun. Suddenly, he turned away and strode towards Nine Eagles’ ship.
Lian Jun’s face changed. He hurriedly asked Gua One and the others to stop him.
“You don’t have to stop me, I’m not suicidal,” Shi Jin said before they rushed towards him. He looked at Zuo Yang, whose expression he could see clearly at this distance, and snarled, “Dream on, none of us will take risks for a traitor. If you have the balls, throw Long Shi in the sea to feed the sharks right now. It’s not easy to threaten Jun-shao, is it? Suck it up, you useless trash! Jun-shao will definitely live to a hundred even without the antidote, and you… fucking drop dead, motherfucker.”
The lazy smile on Zuo Yang’s face disappeared, and his expression hardened. “I advise you watch your mouth, young man, or you’re going to get yourself killed,” he drawled.
Shi Jin sneered at him, muttered “piece of trash” again, and turned around. Then, completely ignoring Lian Jun, he strode towards the lounge.
Before today, no one had ever seen Shi Jin genuinely angry. Not quite sure how to react, everybody looked at Lian Jun.
Lian Jun watched Shi Jin enter the cabin, his hands tightening on the wheelchair armrests until his knuckles were white. He coldly glanced at Zuo Yang and turned away. “Return to your cabins. We’re leaving!”
After being mocked by Shi Jin, Zuo Yang felt as if he was suffocating. ‘You useless trash!’ and ‘Jun-shao will definitely live to a hundred even without the antidote’ kept repeating in his mind as if stuck on replay. He remembered all the troubles and annoyances he suffered these past few days then recalled the look Lian Jun gave him just now. The longer he thought, the hotter his brain became. The knife in his hand, touching the rope, was suddenly applied pressure, and he began to cut for real. He shouted, “Want to leave? Not so fast! You said Lian Jun can live even without the antidote? Then I want to see how that pathetic cripple confined to a wheelchair is going to live! Come on, show me!”
Shocked, his subordinate standing nearby hurried to stop him. “Boss, didn’t we decide to keep Long Shi alive? He’s a useful pawn.”
However, the anger made Zuo Yang completely lose his head—he wasn’t going to listen. He threw his hand off and snapped, “‘Useful pawn’ my ass! Since Lian Jun won’t swallow the bait, what’s his fucking use? Let him die! You were told to make arrangements, is everything ready? Today, I’m going to take Lian Jun’s life!”
The subordinate didn’t dare to say any more. He frowned and stepped back.
The knife was sharp, and the rope not too thick. It broke before Zuo Yang finished speaking, and Long Shi fell into the sea with a splash.
The men on deck received their orders and opened fire on Annihilation.
The expressions of Gua One and the others changed. They shouted at the people nearby to drop down and hide then ordered the ones further away to give cover fire and retreated towards the cabins while shielding Lian Jun.
For a while, the sea echoed with gunshots. Gua Five took out his walkie-talkie and told the control cabin to quickly distance them from Nine Eagles’ ship. The fire from the other vessel was growing heavier, and there was a faint sound of a helicopter taking off.
“Is Zuo Yang insane?” Gua Two exclaimed after he pushed Lian Jun into the lounge.
Nine Eagles actually attacked them on the high seas! If the two really fought a naval battle, and Annihilation used all the firepower at its disposal, Zuo Yang would soon realize he bit off more than he could chew!
Then, Gua Five’s expression changed. He said, “Control just told me many unidentified ships suddenly appeared on the radar and are rapidly approaching this area.”
“Fuck!” Gua Two swore, realizing something. “Zuo Yang planned to ambush us since the very beginning! He brought out Long Shi and talked nonsense for so long just to play for time! He waited until all the others left so he could be free to act.”
Unexpectedly, amid the gunfire, Lian Jun keenly picked out several splashes, as if several large objects hit the water. For some reason, a hint of panic appeared in his heart. He thought of something and snapped his head up, looking around. “Where’s Shi Jin?” He asked.
This question stunned everyone for a second. Gua Two glanced around. “Yes, he went inside, shouldn’t he be here? Maybe he’s sulking in his cabin?”
“No.” Lian Jun’s face suddenly paled. He continued, finding his mouth unpleasantly dry, “He wouldn’t have stayed in his cabin after Nine Eagles opened fire. It would be impossible for him to sit still… Look for him! Quick!”
A man suddenly ran in from the deck, and said, “Jun-shao, I saw a few of our lifeboats floating on the sea, somebody dropped them down! We have a traitor!”
Lian Jun’s face turned completely white. Though his expression stayed calm, there was a faint tremble in his voice. “It’s not a traitor, it’s Shi Jin. He went after Long Shi. Gua Three, whatever you have to do, drag Nine Eagles’ ship away from here, don’t let them fire in this area. Send people to find Shi Jin, hurry up!”
After the momentary shock, everyone scattered to fulfill his orders, faster than ever before.
Shi Jin was indeed in the sea. His actions before were deliberate—he tried to make Zuo Yang as angry as possible. At the time, Xiao Si gave him many buffs to help provoke Nine Eagles’ leader into abandoning Long Shi.
Everything went smoothly: Zuo Yang cut the rope, dropping Long Shi into the sea, and Shi Jin managed to leave the ship without anyone noticing. Now, all he needed was ask Xiao Si for the mermaid buff and swim to where it located Long Shi, and his improvised plan would end in complete success.
Shi Jin touched the strange transparent things growing from the edges of his auricles, eyed the milky white membranes between his fingers, touched his slenderized, elongated waist and thighs, and asked, “You call this a mermaid?” This is clearly a frog buff, you know?
<Yes. JinJin, you’re beautiful! As expected, you look beautiful in any form!> Xiao Si complimented, completely unfazed.
Shi Jin: “…Yeah, okay. As long as you’re happy.”
Anyway, he didn’t have time for this—he needed to hurry up and save Long Shi. After adapting to the odd feeling of his transformed body, he tried moving around and felt he was too slow. “Can the mermaid buff be stacked? I need to swim faster. Long Shi won’t last long underwater.”
Xiao Si hesitated: <It can, but it will be hard on you. You will feel awful after the buff fades.>
“I don’t care—if Long Shi dies, the poison formula will be gone. Just give it to me.”
The system gave in and repeatedly added the mermaid buff to him.
Shi Jin only felt a burst of heat, then his skin and bones changed even more. Being in the water felt much more natural. He gently moved his legs, and his body slipped forward like a fish.
Astonished, he stared at his arms, now unusually flexible and weird-looking; he couldn’t begin to imagine what his body looked like at the moment. He shook his head, putting it out of his mind, and cut through the water, swimming straight to where Xiao Si located Long Shi.
On the surface, Annihilation fought back against Nine Eagles’ attack, slowly moving the battlefield to another area.
A few minutes later, Shi Jin, holding the unconscious Long Shi, broke through the water surface. Wiping the briny water off his face, he had Xiao Si find the nearest lifeboat. Swimming to it, he none-too-gently threw the man onto it then climbed in himself. Not paying attention to his surroundings for the moment, he untied the rope binding Long Shi, knelt next to him, and began resuscitating him.
There was a lot of accumulated injuries on Long Shi’s body. After falling into the sea, the brine made his wounds worse, not to mention he nearly drowned. Now, the deathly pallor of his skin, tinged with blue, could easily convince people he was already dead.
Anxious, Shi Jin asked Xiao Si for buffs like “Increased Success Rate of Resuscitation,” “Lucky Bonus,” and so on, and used all the emergency treatment methods he knew.
The situation seemed hopeless. Just as Shi Jin began to despair, Long Shi choked out a mouthful of water and opened his eyes, confused.
Shi Jin was overjoyed. He leaned forward and asked, “How do you feel, are you awake? How many fingers do you see?” He thrust a hand, distorted because of the mermaid buff, in front of the man’s face.
Long Shi instinctively looked in the direction of the voice. When he saw Shi Jin’s ears with weird cartilage growing out of them and the abnormal shape of his limbs, his originally groggy mind instantly sobered up. He almost stopped breathing again from shock. Then, his hand suddenly moved, and he attempted to stab Shi Jin with something small and shiny.
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Shi Jin’s progress bar jumped almost to the max. Xiao Si shrieked, and the surprised teenager twisted away, kicking the traitor at the same time.
With a low cry, Long Shi collapsed, curling on his side. The miniature syringe in his hand fell to the bottom of the boat.
Shi Jin hastily grabbed the rope and tied him up again then picked up the syringe. It was filled with a strange-colored liquid. He couldn’t help but kick Long Shi one more time.
“Fuck! I was right to think you were suspicious. I don’t believe Zuo Yang didn’t know you had this hidden on your body—you were working with him since the very beginning, weren’t you?”
The longer he spoke, the angrier he became. He thought the world would truly be a better place if such scum died, but restrained himself and didn’t kick him again. He carefully put the syringe away, glad Lian Jun kept a cool head and refused to be taken in by Zuo Yang no matter how he was provoked.
Grunting with pain, Long Shi turned his head and looked at Shi Jin. After a moment, he managed to put aside the distortion caused by the buff and see the teenager’s face clearly. “It’s you!” He blurted out. “What’s with your appearance, are you a monster?! Did you use some kind of witchcraft to seduce Jun-shao?!”
Shi Jin rolled his eyes. “Yes, I’m a monster. Tell me the poison formula, or I’ll devour you alive!” he said ferociously.
At the words “poison formula,” Long Shi’s expression changed yet again. He blinked for a moment, and suddenly calmed down. “I will only tell it to Jun-shao. I want to see Jun-shao, take me to him.”
Shi Jin wanted to burst into foul language. Seeing Long Shi look as if he had nothing to fear, he sneered and opened his mouth to give the comeback those words deserved. However, just at that moment, he heard the deafening noise of artillery fire coming from afar. He immediately turned in the direction of the sound, face sinking.
<Darling must be fighting with Nine Eagles,> Xiao Si said. It asked worriedly, <Are we going back now, JinJin?>
“Of course we’re—” Shi Jin began, then remembered his current appearance and frowned. “No, I can’t go back yet, I shouldn’t let Lian Jun see how I look right now. We need to wait a while.”
Long Shi also heard the sound of the battle and looked at the flashes of gunfire brightening the sky. Abruptly, he became agitated: “Did it begin? Is Nine Eagles fighting with Annihilation? Hurry up! Take me to Jun-shao, take me to Jun-shao!”
“No! And shut the fuck up.” Shi Jin started the lifeboat’s engine and headed away from the battlefield, though his expression looked awful—he was worried about Lian Jun, but it was better to stay away for now.
Long Shi saw his actions. After a momentary surprise, he burst into madman-like laughter and screamed, “Are you afraid Jun-shao will see the way you look now, monster? Let him see, what are you afraid of? Weren’t you arrogant before? You don’t know yet—Zuo Yang had long planned to attack Jun-shao! He had his other ships hide nearby and held Jun-shao back until the government ship left to make sure his ambush was successful! Aren’t you Jun-shao’s protector? And yet, you care more about exposing your true appearance than his life? Ha ha ha ha, don’t run, you coward—mmph!”
Fed up, Shi Jin stuffed a rag in his mouth and snapped, “You think everyone is as shallow as you, asshole? Believe it or not, Lian Jun would still eat with me at the same table every day even if he saw me like this!” He glanced at the distant sea, hesitated, then gritted his teeth, deciding not to move the lifeboat further away. He would stay here and keep an eye on the situation. If Lian Jun was truly in danger—if his progress bar went into the danger zone—he would immediately jump in the water and swim over to save him.
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