“Bloody hell, you’re here at last!”
After receiving System’s confirmation that they were still online, Jing Xi sent them yet another two messages.
[Are you there? Nevermind, it’s better than you aren’t. Otherwise, you’d be feeling down as well.]
[Please, don’t feel sorry for me or even call the police. Just let me leave this place in peace. Farewell.]
On the opposite end, as their eyes locked onto the screen, a rush of emotion surged within the duo. Caught off guard, they fumbled over their words as they hastily affirmed their unequivocal support for his decision. In a world so achingly marred and twisted, they firmly believed that existence itself was a harsher fate than embracing death.
Before a counter-argument could even find its way into the conversation, Jing Xi sent his response promptly.
[Hold up! You’re not even going to try and persuade me otherwise? Jeez, to think you’re even encouraging me to take my life!]
[I’ve really pegged you all wrong!]
In an instant, the flabbergasted duo could not help but curse inwardly, ‘Darn it, why?!’
[But it was you who longed for an escape so desperately.]
The corner of Jing Xi’s lips quirked up as his fingers danced across the keyboard.
[There’s a world of difference between me wanting to kick the bucket and someone else giving me a nudge to do so. Capiche?]
[I’ve always regarded you as a friend, but I’m completely floored that you’d actually pull this on me! You’ve genuinely let me down and even quashed my urge to meet my maker today. Let’s do us both a favor and not stay in touch anymore!]
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Xdnl ytykd, vbl ews sd vbl svbla lde olal yv y zspp qsa osaep. ‘Pkl dso! Zsw okzz eyxd olzz ekl qsa xl vbkp kdpvydv!’
Gqvla nzspkdt vbl xlppldtla, Kkdt Dk zlv y nbllaqwz vwdl lpnyrl bkp zkrp. Ebkpvzkdt yzsdt, bl pvaszzle swv vs vbl nswavuyae vs oyvla bkp rzydvp.
Ekvb ds vkxl vs oypvl, Fupvlx glasle kd sd obyv byrrldle dlmv, sdzu vs qkde vbl ews xyel y nsru sq vbl sdzkdl ydyzupkp sd Kkdt Dk yde plyanble qsa y nswrzl sq rpunbszstu cssjp. Zlv, vbl pktbv sq Kkdt D’p nyalqall elxlydsa bye zlqv kv wvvlazu prllnbzlpp.
Fupvlx rwggzle, “Zsw’al dsv osaakle vblu xktbv cynj swv?”
Kkdt Dk alqwvle, “Ebyv’p vblal vs cl osaakle ycswv? Gqvla ldewakdt ulyap sq vsaxldv, vblu’hl qkdyzzu tsv y pbsv yv alhldtl. Mawpv xl, vblu osd’v zlv vbkp nbydnl pzkr yoyu.”
Fupvlx osdelale, “Ebyv es usw vbkdj kp vblka dlmv xshl?”
Kkdt Dk prlnwzyvle, “R oswzed’v cl pwarakple kq vblu xktbv plde xl yd lppyu.”
Xd vbl lmkzle pvya, vbl vos qwtkvkhlp qswde vblxplzhlp kd y nszsaqwz cswv sq lmyprlayvksd, yzz vbl obkzl ydyzugkdt y nlavykd eayxy iwlld.
Gp vblu elzhle ellrla kdvs vblka alplyanb, y oyhl sq qawpvayvksd polrv shla vblx. Bdyczl vs nsdvykd vbl cwadkdt iwlpvksd ydu zsdtla, sdl sq vblx czwavle swv, “Uswze kv cl vbyv bl’p rzyukdt wp qsa qsszp? Fwal, Pwyd Ubk xktbv qkdyzzu byhl y olyjdlpp yqvla yzz vbkp vkxl, cwv R nyd’v pbyjl sqq vbl qllzkdt vbyv kv xktbv fwpv cl ydsvbla sdl sq bkp vaknjp.”
Wzkrrkdt vbl rytl byzqoyu vbaswtb, vbl svbla rlapsd’p byde qasgl yde vwadle pbyarzu vs zssj yv bkx.
Gp vblka lulp xlv, y qzknjla sq alyzkgyvksd rypple clvolld vblx. Ekvb y pokqv ekpnsddlnv qasx vbl sdzkdl osaze, vblu eshl kdvs vbl vypj yv byde.
For over a decade, they had been lurking on the exiled star and concealing their true identities by utilizing mobile numbers registered under fabricated identities and social media accounts linked to unsuspecting strangers’ phone numbers. At this juncture, a question rose from deep in their minds — Could hackers possibly trace their whereabouts under such circumstances?
Due to their meager knowledge of the internet, they sprinted to seek guidance from a fugitive hacker hidden within their organization.
After enduring a load of waffle, the hacker cut to the chase and stated, “That place you’ve rented? It’s completely devoid of any smart gadgets that can locate you in a jiffy, unless they’ve opened their third eye1 It is also referred to as the mind’s eye and is usually located on the forehead, providing the user with perception beyond ordinary sight. You can read more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_eye … Umm…”
With a thoughtful stroke of his chin, he pondered, “There’s a chance they might be able to trace your login location on the exiled star through your social media account.”
Upon hearing that utterance, the duo’s faces took on a solemn expression.
Eager to dive into action, the hacker suggested, “If you’re curious whether they’re a hacker, I can always find that out for you. So, how about a discount to sweeten the deal?”
With a momentary pause, the duo considered the hacker’s professional ethics before reaching an unanimous agreement.
The moment the hacker laid eyes on Duan Chi’s ‘predestined’ one, an audible gasp of astonishment slipped from his lips! Yet, the duo showed no signs of unease as they came clean about their intention to swindle his fortune. Even so, the hacker was no stranger to such schemes and went straight to the point. “He isn’t one. My curiosity about his connection with Duan Chi got the best of me, so I had been snooping into his chat logs.”
His words hit them like a bolt of lightning, leaving the duo utterly astounded.
In order to drive his message home, the hacker deftly fiddled with their phone right before their eyes.
On the other side, System observed calmly as he swiped the fabricated data, only to vent its frustration to Jing Xi later. “All the hackers in Astral Realm are quite the curious bunch! While everyone else is out romancing, they are busy poking their noses where they do not belong.”
Jing Xi questioned, “Another one is here, huh?”
System answered, “Yes, you should definitely get Duan Chi to set up a firewall for you. Given your unique relationship, this is something he can do to ensure your safety. Plus, it will save me the hassle of constantly updating information… Eh? Wait a minute, there is more to this visit than meets the eye.”
Jing Xi inquired, “Oh? What have they found?”
System reported, “They grabbed a copy of the knife entry in your purchase history and the most beautiful beach entry in your search entry, as well as your whopping surprise.”
Jing Xi smirked, “Kek, and here I thought they wouldn’t be able to find it.”
Meanwhile, the two fugitives returned to their hideout and opened the massive gift Jing Xi had prepared for them.
It was System’s specially selected curation of comments from the netizens that ranged from pieces of advice and cheers to a dash of criticism. On a closer look, the duo discovered they were indeed the first to comfort him. As they browsed through the chat logs, they found his discord with Duan Chi.
Once doubts were dispelled, their minds began to race in unison.
“I doubt they’re baiting us? I mean, think about it — Why would they hold off until this moment, especially if Duan Chi could pinpoint our location earlier?”
“And let’s not forget, there’s no reason for him to cut ties with us. If anything, he should be trying to bond with us.”
With that, the duo resumed their research on the drama queen once more.
Netizens had astutely deduced that this young individual’s upbringing might have been bereft of adequate affection. Presently, they had even severed ties with their family, suggesting the presence of possible mental health issues.
Hence, they sought advice from experts on this matter, and the consensus they reached was that individuals, who craved greater amounts of care from others, had a tendency to kick up a fuss about it. So, if you found yourself on the receiving end of their fussing, it showed that you were, at least, placed on their friend list.
With that in mind, the duo was itching to express their disinterest, yet an unspoken force restrained them. After all, gaining control over the drama queen would mean Duan Chi’s life was in their hands. Regardless of how arduous this task was, they were resolved to take it on.
After numerous rounds of editing and rephrasing, they painstakingly selected each word to craft a short essay.
A day slipped by with the drama queen giving them the cold shoulders. As such, they could only compose yet another lengthy message before bracing themselves for yet another day’s wait. Even then, the other party remained silent. By now, they had begun to cast doubts upon the credibility of those so-called experts online. This was no friendship; instead, it was a fading connection that left them adrift.
Only after Jing Xi had kept them hanging for three long days did he finally reply with a cold snort emoji.
The moment the fugitives caught sight of the emoji, they nearly burst into tears. Before they could come up with a suitable response, they received another message from the other side.