Chapter 33: Falling into Deep Sleep Together
“They’re finally here. These two highly skilled experts sure know how to make us wait.”
It’s a young man sitting by the door talking. He’s also wearing camouflage clothes like everyone else. He’s tall, has a healthy tanned skin tone, and dimples when he smiles. A pair of black headphones is resting around his neck.
He stands up, and reaches out his hand towards Han Chen and Bai Jin Xi, “Hello, I’m Yan Er.”
Han Chen has one hand in his pocket while shaking hands with his other, “Han Chen.” Jin Xi gives Yan Er a once-over, and smiles holding her hand out, “Bai Jin Xi.”
Yan Er puts his headphones on and sits back down.
Han Chen and Jin Xi step into the room.
Some immediately raise their heads to look at them, while others continue staring off to elsewhere and don’t bother about them. The first thing Jin Xi notices is a couple seating below the window. The girl has her arms wrapped around the guy’s arm. She looks to be in her twenties. The guy isn’t tall but is quite good looking. The girl’s look is average, but her smile is very sweet. They are chatting and seem very intimate.
“Hello!” the girl waves at her, probably due to noticing Bai Jin Xi staring at her.
Jin Xi smiles and waves back, “Hello.”
The girl gives Han Chen a once-over; a hint of mesmerisation crosses her eyes. She asks, “You two are……also a couple?”
Before Jin Xi even responds, she feels something on her shoulder and the scent of cigarettes come close. It’s Han Chen grabbing her.
“Yes,” he answers.
This is the perfect answer; this way, they can advance and retreat together. Jin Xi smiles and nods.
But as a result, almost everyone turns to look at them at the same time.
Han Chen continues grabbing onto Jin Xi, looking calm. Jin Xi, on the other hand, smiles politely.
She can understand why they’re looking at them. For a Battle Royal competition like this, being a couple means that they can fight one opponent together, which is obviously a great advantage.
Just as she expects, the girl of the couple gives her boyfriend a push, “See, there’s also another couple. We’re not considered special. Since it was the sponsor who picked us, it means that this is fair.” She smiles at Bai Jin Xi, “I heard your names just now. I’m Le Luo Xia. You can call me Xia Zi (little Xia). He is my boyfriend, Zhang Mu Han.”
Zhang Mu Han tilts his head towards her shoulder, raises his hand above his head, and makes a cool and handsome gesture to greet Han Chen and Bai Jin Xi.
At the same time, a man sitting in a rattan chair on the left gets up.
There’re not many decor in the house and it’s very worn out. The others are either sitting on the floor or on the staircase. Only he is occupying the best spot. He looks to be around twenty-seven or eight years old. His body figure is also the tallest and strongest among all. His looks are handsome.
“Hello, I’m Ke Fan. You can just call me Big Ke,” he says with both of his hands in his pockets while revealing a bright and friendly smile, “Let me introduce the others to you. That is You Chuan, known as Xiao You. He’s my buddy.”
A skinny young man sitting on the inner side of the staircase holds up his hand. He is carrying a gun on his back while resting both of his hands on his knees. Even though Ke Fan is introducing him, he doesn’t look towards them at all. His eyes are staring out the window, looking calm and unconcerned.
Ke Fan laughs, “Xiao You doesn’t talk much. You can just pretend that he’s not here. But when the competition begins, you’ll have to be careful of not getting shot in the head by him. Next——Ming Yue, a woman who you should not mess with.”
Han Chen and Jin Xi follow his gaze and look toward another woman in the room. She’s sitting on the floor with her legs crossed. Her camouflage jacket is not buttoned, but instead, it’s been tied around her waist. Her long wavy hair has been tied into a ponytail. She’s not a beauty, but her facial features are refined.
Hearing Ke Fan call her name, she raises her head, “Big Ke, why are you talking so much nonsense?” She glances at the two of them and nods, “I’m Li Ming Yue.”
Ke Fan isn’t angry. He lifts his head and looks at the remaining two men at the inner part of the room, “The older one is Sun Dian, Professor Sun. The other one is Fang Xu.”
Han Chen and Jin Xi look to where he’s pointing. Sun Dian is sitting in the most inner part. He has a medium built body, looks to be thirty-three or four years old, a pointy face and seems to be well educated. It’s just that he looks rather gloomy and doesn’t bother greeting them.
Han Chen: “Professor?”
Ke Fan reveals a wicked smile and says in a low voice, “He claims to be a university professor, but who knows? He has such a weird temper.”
Fang Xu looks to be twenty-seven or eight years old, also has a medium built body, and average looks. He’s tidying his backpack at the corner of the wall. He raises his head and glances at them. He’s probably the most unnoticeable person among everybody.
Jin Xi reveals a curious expression, “Big Ke, you all know each other?”
Ke Fan answers, “Pretty much. We’ve met here and there in previous competitions. You two, on the other hand are new faces. Are you guys from abroad?”
Jin Xi smiles and doesn’t answer.
Ke Fan claps his hand and says aloud, “Since everybody is here, let’s draw to decide our teams then.”
From the info that Xiao Zhuan sent, it included the forum announcement and the criteria of the competition.
It will last 24 hours from 8am tomorrow to 8pm the day after. Participants will be split into two teams that will combat each other. The losing team will be eliminated and the winning team will then PK (player kill) each other until one player is left and is the final winner. Every participant’s camouflage clothing has sensors installed, so whoever is hit by a laser, it will imitate the effects of the wound, so that no one can cheat. The winner will be prized with a hundred thousand RMB from the sponsor.
Hearing Ke Fan call out, everyone comes over, follows his gesture and sits in a circle. Jin Xi sits beside Han Chen and secretly observes the others.
From the time that T made the request to now, it has been no more than three hours.
As she looks at the participants who are unaware of their lives being in danger, she is observing them every minute and every second——is T watching the ten of them from afar, or is he among them? She has taken a look at everybody’s guns and hasn’t found anything suspicious. T will definitely not expose his real gun out in the open. Since he is in control of this island and base on his intricate planning, he must have other things set up to prevent her and Han Chen from breaking the rules and revealing their identities.
Therefore, they must not act rashly. They can only act reactively.
It’s just that this wild and mountainous area is too isolated. And everyone is immersed in the competition so the atmosphere is rather calm and there’s nothing out of the ordinary. Now that she thinks about the “Battle Royal” happening tomorrow, it feels unreal.
She looks towards Han Chen beside her. Ke Fan is the tallest and buffest among them all. But he, on the other hand, has a long and lean body figure that makes his back look straight while he’s sitting down. His hands are resting on his knees and his face doesn’t show any expression.
Jin Xi recalls him telling her to “listen to his instructions” while they were heading here. She understands that he must have his own thoughts on this, so she continues to keep her silence.
At this moment, Ke Fan places a round container with wooden sticks inside onto the floor. He reaches out his hand, “One stick per person. Let’s do it.”
Jin Xi is a bit hesitant.
If they’re on the same team, it’ll definitely be safer; if they split up, they can keep an eye on the people in each of their teams. There are both pros and cons to this.
“My girlfriend and I have to be on the same team,” Han Chen raises his head and looks at the rest of the group.
Jin Xi’s heart shakes as she turns her head and looks at the side of his face. The lighting in the house is dim, making his face hard to make out, but his eyes are rich dark brown and calm.
Nobody says a word.
Ke Fan pats his shoulder and says, “Buddy, I can understand how you feel. But you cannot control the outcome of the draw unless you can find someone who’s willing to trade with you.”
Han Chen glances at him and doesn’t respond.
Xia Zi pinches her boyfriend’s waist. As a result, Zhang Mu Han also speaks up, “Same here. We want to be on the same team. Big Brothers and Sisters, will you please let us?! If not, she won’t let me off.”
Ke Fan smiles and says, “How about this, let’s draw first. If you guys don’t end up on the same team and someone is willing to switch with you, then it’s fine.” He picks up the round container and holds it out in front of Han Chen: “Pick one.”
Just when Han Chen’s fingers touch a wooden stick, Fang Xu, who’s been sitting across quietly all this time and is hardly noticeable, says suddenly, “I won’t trade with anyone. You guys shouldn’t trade with them either. These competitions have always been a game of survival of the fittest. Why should we give way to them?”
Everyone looks at him and doesn’t say anything. Han Chen lifts his eyes and glances at him. He pulls out his hand, taking a wooden stick with him. Jin Xi leans over and takes a look; it’s got the color red at the end.
Jin Xi is the second to draw. Her eyes are wide open the moment she looks at the wooden stick she picked: it’s actually blue.
Han Chen also sees it. Their eyes meet, but they both don’t say a word.
Fang Xu sitting across probably notices their expressions; his eyes reveal a mocking smile.
Jin Xi uses her gaze to ask Han Chen: what should we do?
Han Chen looks back at her at a very close distance. He suddenly smiles, takes the blue wooden stick away from her hand and says in a low voice, “I’ll think of a way.”
The rest of the drawing moves quickly. Ke Fan picks out a blue stick, and Xiao You also picks up a blue one. Xia Zi draws a red stick. While her boyfriend is hesitating on which stick to pick, everyone else finishes picking out theirs. He ends up with the last stick. When he picks it up and looks, he wraps his arm around his girlfriend’s shoulders immediately, “We have such great luck! It’s red!”
Fang Xu beside them waves the stick in his hand, “I also got a red one. I’m on the same team as you two. Haha.”
Jin Xi glances at him.
And then Han Chen beside her pushes his hands against the floor and gets up suddenly.
Jin Xi looks up at him. Not just her, but others are also staring at him.
Holding her blue stick in his hand, he walks past everyone until he stops and squats in front of Fang Xu.
Li Ming Yue, Yan Er, and the others reveal an expression of schadenfreude instantly.
Fang Xu stares at Han Chen vigilantly. He says with his face turning pale, “What do you want to do?”
Han Chen looks at him. He reaches out his hand and snatches his red wooden stick quickly. He gives him a once-over, gets up, and tosses the blue stick at him. He walks back and sits down without saying anything.
Fang Xu jumps up immediately, “What is the meaning of this? You think you can swap when you want to?”
Everyone shifts their eyes to Han Chen.
Han Chen doesn’t even look at Fang Xu. He tilts his head, lights up a cigarette, and breathes out white smoke while raising his head.
“This competition is the survival of the fittest. You have to swap even if you don’t want to.”
He actually returns the exact words from Fang Xu back to him.
Everyone is stunned; some even whistles. Jin Xi didn’t think that his method would actually be to snatch it from someone else……She turns her head to look at him, smiles and then looks at Fang Xu’s pale face. But instead of provoking him, she tries to smooth things over by saying in a mellow voice, “Sorry Fang Xu, can you help us out this time and give us the red stick? Thank you so much!”
Fang Xu still has an awful looking expression on his face. Ke Fan also tries to calm the situation, “Alright Fang Xu, since you’re here by yourself, it’s the same regardless of which team you’re in. It’s not so bad to be on the same team as me and Xiao You, is it?”
This seems to have an effect on Fang Xu; it immediately relieves his facial expression a bit. He glares at Han Chen, “I’m just giving Big Ke respect. When the competition begins tomorrow, you better watch your head!”
Han Chen inhales his cigarette with his eyes half closed and doesn’t bother answering him.
Yan Er, who’s sitting diagonally across, snickers and says, “Fang Xu? You’re scared?” Li Ming Yue also giggles and looks at Fang Xu derisively.
Fang Xu glares at them.
Ke Fan summarizes the outcome of the draw:
Blue Team: Ke Fan, Xiao You, Li Ming Yue, Yan Er, and Fang Xu.
Red Team: Han Chen, Bai Jin Xi, Zhang Mu Han, Xia Zi, and Professor Sun.
Some members are already asleep, while others are still chatting. The house is small, to begin with, so it’s very crowded when all ten of them lie down. Jin Xi is at a corner. Just when she finishes laying down their sleeping bags, she sees Han Chen walking in from the outside.
He must have gone to wash his face by the river; his hair is wet and is stuck against his forehead, making his face look paler from the color contrast. He walks to her and sits down. He fetches the red stick from his pocket and gives it to her.
Jin Xi takes it. She wants to giggle recalling what happened at the time. She looks around to confirm that no one is watching before leaning over to him and saying softly, “You were quite ferocious.”
Han Chen places his hands on his knees and looks ahead, “Was I?”
Jin Xi smiles again.
Han Chen dumps out everything in the backpack; there are biscuits, a watch, a knife……he examines each of them in detail, and shakes them by his ear. Jin Xi watches him quietly until he picks up the compass and places it aside.
Jin Xi also picks it up and gives it a shake. Her heart shudders——there seems to be something inside.
Han Chen holds up the backpack and starts feeling every inch of it, especially the pockets and around the seams. He actually feels a tiny micro tapping device.
Han Chen gets up, walks outside, and throws the tapping device and compass into the bushes.
Jin Xi feels heavy inside.
This tapping device is probably a warning from T, isn’t it? They can find the tapping devices on them, but what about the others around them? What about other places? Besides tapping devices, what other things could there be? For example, explosives?
They’ll have to take it one step at a time.
They keep their silence and watch the others in the house.
There are 8 people not including them; 6 guys and 2 girls. Among the 6 guys, Ke Fan and Xiao You are buddies; Ke Fan is the leader and organizer of the pack and is recognized as such by the others; Zhang Mu Han is always glued to his girlfriend and doesn’t seem to be suspicious; Yan Er clearly likes to act on his own and has a very distinctive personality; Fang Xu doesn’t talk much but is petty and a bit detestable; and lastly, Professor Sun is taciturn.
Jin Xi thinks for a moment and says, “Hold out your hand.”
Han Chen takes a look at her and then holds out his hand. Jin Xi picks up the stick and writes a “5” lightly on his palm.
They can already rule out one man and know that he’s not T. Therefore if T is among them, there are 5 suspects left.
Han Chen retrieves his hand and hums “Mm” lightly.
They seem to think the same.
Jin Xin asks softly, “Should we take turns watching over them at night? You can watch the first half, and I’ll watch over the second half?”
But Han Chen lies down, putting his arms behind his head, “No need. It’ll be too easy to expose himself if he takes action here. T wouldn’t do it. If he uses a sniper, we have no chance to stop him anyway.”
Probably because she has been nervous all day and constantly on the move, Jin Xi falls asleep very quickly. She can’t be certain if it’s because Han Chen is lying beside her so that she can smell the familiar scent of cigarettes; she actually sleeps feeling especially calm and relaxed.
She wakes up when the sky is almost lit, slowly opening her eyes. But she is shocked the moment she does.
Last night, Han Chen slept with his back towards her, but he has turned to face her now. She originally lied down facing the ceiling, but she is currently on her side facing him; her face is almost up against his chest, and her forehead is touching his chin. They’re both in their own sleeping bags, which makes them look like two caterpillars side by side.
Jin Xi pulls out her hand from the sleeping bag and takes a look at her watch. It’s still early. Just when she wants to get up, she pauses her actions suddenly.
Should she get up, or continue to……sleep this way?
She starts feeling sleepy again during this short period of hesitation. She can’t open her eyes anymore. Just before she falls back to sleep, she senses Han Chen, who’s in front of her, moving suddenly.
She is fully awake now, but her eyes are still closed.
After a while, she feels him lowering his head; his breathing blows onto her cheeks and he seems to be looking at her. And due to him lowering his head, his lips unavoidably brush her face lightly.
Jin Xi’s neck stiffens and her palms slowly become sweaty.
She can feel his breathing moving away and hear the sound of him getting up. Just like every time they come close to each other unexpectedly, he always moves away quietly, as if he never skips a heartbeat and be mesmerized by her.
Jin Xi waits until he walks out of the house before opening her eyes. She sits up after continuing lying down for a while.
She believes that after they solve this case, the first thing she has to do is to wipe away her feelings for Han Chen; it would be best if she can get rid of it all.
After a while, their other teammates start waking up. Jin Xi also gets up and tidies up their backpacks.
Once she walks outside of the house, she sees Han Chen leaning on a tree holding a pack of biscuit and eating it slowly. She goes over, and Han Chen fetches a pack from his bag and tosses it to her.
She catches it, rips open the package and says while eating, “You’re even willing to eat this? Looks like you’re quite capable of adapting to new environments.”
Han Chen glances at her and doesn’t say anything.
A few teammates are washing their faces by the riverside. The mountain is permeated with the fresh scent of the forest in the morning, and it is covered with light fog. The sunlight penetrates through the leaves, shining onto the river surface.
Jin Xi sighs lightly staring at the scenery.
“Yan Er, why haven’t you gotten out of bed yet? Yan Er? Yan Er?” They hear Li Ming Yue’s voice coming from inside the house. Jin Xi and Han Chen lift their heads and look over.
“Yan Er?! What happened?” Li Ming Yue’s pitch suddenly becomes sharp. The members by the river all stand up straight. Han Chen and Jin Xi are already rushing back into the house.
Inside the house.
Yan Er was sleeping beside the staircase last night; he’s still lying down in the same spot. Li Ming Yue is squatting beside him looking anxious. Ke Fan, Xiao You, and Zhang Mu Han have all come due to the noise.
Han Chen pushes them aside. Jin Xi follows him and dashes inside. Yan Er’s eyes are closed, his fingers are bent into a clawing position, and there are no movements from his chest. No matter how many times Li Ming Yue calls him, he doesn’t respond.
Han Chen is a bit shocked. Zhang Mu Han says suddenly, “He isn’t dead, is he?”
Just when Jin Xi is about to squat down to check, they hear a sound of “yo!” and watch Yan Er flip onto one side and hop up from the floor like a tiger full of energy.
Everyone is dumbstruck. Yan Er carries his gun onto his back, turns around, and walks out of the house, “Yo, did I scare you all? I was just playing with ya.”
“You bastard!” Li Ming Yue kicks him in the butt.
8am on the dot.
Both the red and blue teams are standing on a flat grass area. The sun is fully up, and the summit of Mountain Wulin is ahead of them.
According to the rules, the two teams will each begin at either the North or South end of the mountain and make their way up. Once they are at the halfway point, they can start to combat; ambushes, group attacks, and trap set up will all depend on their skills.
The two teams sync their watches and split up. It’s no surprise that Ke Fan is the blue team’s captain. As for the red team, they selected their captain last night. Han Chen was not interested, so Zhang Mu Han became the captain; the couple was quite happy about it.
At this moment, Zhang Mu Han waves his hand, “Red Team, follow me.” Xia Zi follows right behind him, and then it’s Han Chen and Jin Xi; Professor Sun walks behind all of them in silence.
After taking a few steps into the forest, Jin Xi turns around and looks at the other team behind them. Captain Ke Fan also turns around as if he sensed someone watching him. Their eyes meet; Ke Fan smiles, makes a finger gun gesture at her and pretending to shoot. He then turns around and leads his team into the forest.
Chapter 33: Falling into Deep Sleep Together