Time-Limited Hunt – Chapter 21 : Irritability

Potential triggers for the entire novel:
Domestic abuse, sexual assault, suicide, nonconsensual sex (main cp).
T97 mentions this is an experimental work. Read @ your own risk.
If any of the above are landmines for you, please stop reading now.

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Yan Junxun did not want to be watched by the surveillance camera. He threw the trash away and prepared to leave. His ID communicator rang again. Yan Junxun really wanted to throw it away, but he held back and took the call. He said, brief and to the point, “Speak.”  

“You’d better get out of there.” Su Heting, having just woken up, yawned as he tapped away on the light screen. “There’s a nutcase watching you right now.” 

“Where is he?” Yan Junxun cast a glance at the surveillance camera as he left the convenience store. “Don’t let him touch my systems again!” 

“You’re getting cranky.” Su Heting slowed down his speed of talking and looked at the data sliding rapidly before him. “But I have to tell you that he is not only caressing your systems but also trying to hack into them.”   

The sun crossed over the cluster of buildings, and the sunlight dispelled a little of the gloom. The number of people on the streets increased, most of whom were hurrying to work. ID communicators on various people began to ring, and countless screens lit up and vanished among the crowd of impeccably dressed people. It was as if the “play” button had been hit for the entire Tingbo District as everyone started to move in that split second. It was poles apart from the stillness and silence about ten or so minutes ago. 

“I can’t trace his location. He concealed his tracks pretty well.” Su Heting was just like the broadcaster on the news. “I can only remind you that the regional system of Tingbo District is garbage. He is able to watch you through all the surveillance cameras.” 

Yan Junxun swiftly swept his gaze around. The street corners, traffic lights, stores—there were cameras everywhere. It was simply impossible to determine the position in which the other party was watching him from. He said, “Black Panther told you to come just to do a live broadcast?” 

“Ain’t that the case. My current mission is to keep an eye on you both.” There was no urgency in Su Heting’s tone. This matter had nothing to do with him. Even if someone were to blow up 7-001’s and serial no. 01AE86’s heads right there on the street now, he would still remain a true-to-form videographer.

The internal department of the Black Panther had always been based on the Inuit structure. It was to serve such a structure that they would adopt such a crude ordering sequence for their serial numbers. The members at the top of the rank were the lead dogs in the eyes of the people behind them. Their missions had best be mistake-free, as a mistake not only meant a mission failure but also a drop in serial number ranking. Once the falling serial number exceeded a particular figure, the person would be automatically demoted to team dog and deprived of all rights they had once enjoyed. 

No one who had ever been a lead dog would want to be a team dog. Once a person falls into the pack of team dogs, he would be torn to pieces by the members who had once chased behind him. Black Panther’s bloody internal ranking rule had been condemned for a very long time, but Fu Chenghui never had it changed. He insisted on using this structure and even found it pretty effective.

Never expect Black Panther’s members to give a helping hand to other members who had the same tattoo as them; they were already abiding by the rule by not carrying out the kills themselves. Not unless it was an operation carried out by a small squad with a clear limit of the number of casualties in the mission stipulation. Otherwise, everyone would just watch each other get bitten by vipers on the screen, just like now. 

“Don’t keep making excuses for yourself. You just can’t track down the other guy.” Shi Shanyan walked down the steps and wiped the sole of his shoe on the spot where the clown had just stood earlier. A bullet from a toy gun had fallen there. “He’s nearby.”  

“This is why you don’t have a teammate so far. Who would want to stay with a control freak with a vicious mouth?” Su Heting said without emotion. “I’m very good at what I do. I’m not going to repeat it. Now, 001, please raise your head. Do you see that ‘Uncle Hong’s1 Hair Salon’ on the third floor to the right? He’s using the surveillance camera there to watch you.” 

Yan Junxun saw a red dot under the words “Hair Salon” on the LED signboard on the third floor. He said, “Turn it off. Prove that you’re not as useless as Shi Shanyan makes you out to be.” 

“I don’t need to prove anything.” Su Heting said and tapped hard on the keyboard. “There, I turned it off! But he’s very fast in switching cameras. Don’t even think of asking me to turn off all the surveillance cameras in the entire district. I won’t break the law!” 

Yan Junxun could not help it and snap at the communicator, “You have already broken the law back then when you were monitoring my home system! Keep chasing him. I want his position!”  

The other party was nearby. Otherwise, he would not have been able to shoot at the clown’s balloon. Yan Junxun did not want to play a game of deduction with the other party. He only wanted to drag the other party out and throw him at the entrance of the Inspection Bureau. 

“Then you’ll have to drive.” Su Heting looked at the position of the blinking red dot. “He’s going to flee.” 

The car was parked in the outdoor parking lot. Yan Junxun turned off the little orange dragon when he got into the car and started the engine. That rumbling sound, like a beast ready to launch an attack, drew the sidelong glances of others. Shi Shanyan fastened his seat belt, although he felt that the seat belt would not be of much use in the upcoming ride. 

“The light rail’s inner beltline.” Su Heting said, “He wants to get out of here.”  

Yan Junxun stepped on the accelerator, and the car instantly sprang forth. The pendant in the car belatedly made a long arc in the air before hitting the glass. That “thud” startled the little orange dragon awake, and it sounded the alarm at the roof of the car.  

“Give me the coordinates.” Yan Junxun said amidst the blaring of alarm. “Hurry.” 

“Are you my fucking leader?” Su Heting was finally annoyed. As he typed furiously at the keyboard, he said, “I don’t like to be rushed. Don’t rush me!”  

The screen lit up at the side. Outside the window, the glare of the sunlight gradually intensified, making it harsher on the eyes. There was no longer any sight of the morning gloom. At present, it was the rush hour, and the traffic lane was packed with cars. The other party was slipping away very fast; he was almost about to make his way out of the light rail’s inner beltline. Yan Junxun stared at the blinking red dot on the screen and suddenly accelerated. 

“Mr. Yan.” The little orange dragon was alarmed. “It’s too dangerous!” 

Yan Junxun could not hear it. In his world, there was only that blinking red dot. The old model sports car kept overtaking the other vehicles, causing a cacophony of blaring horns to ring out behind him. 

Several drivers rolled down their windows, revealing half of their bodies as they let loose a torrent of curses, “You’ve got a death wish?! Crazy!”

The other party was still watching Yan Junxun’s movements; he seemed to have already known of Yan Junxun’s pursuit of him. The red dot moved out of the inner line, made a turn into the outer zone highway, and headed in the direction of the mountain range. Yan Junxun sped the entire way and followed him out of the inner line onto the outer zone highway. 

At this timing, the trucks transporting coke and steel were still not on the road, and there were merely several private cars driving unhurriedly before him. Yan Junxun’s sports car charged forth like a cannonball. All Shi Shanyan could hear was the thunderous roar of the sports car.    

But Yan Junxun was very quiet. He was always this quiet. Even if the ice layer on the surface had cracked, the undercurrent beneath still did not make a sound. He stared ahead, as if there was nothing more interesting to him than to catch up. This astonishing focus made him appear to be extremely dangerous. It was a subtle, silent kind of danger, as if one would be torn into pieces if they so much touched Yan Junxun one more time.

The rear-end of the other party’s car had already appeared in the periphery of their field of vision. That was a solid black, second-generation family car, with a license plate that had a Tingbo District’s district code. The little orange dragon’s alarm had completely drowned out the honkings. Su Heting looked at Yan Junxun’s position. He had to shout at the top of his voice before he could make himself clear. 

“He’s going to get off the highway and continue in the direction of the mountain range. You’d better slow down. The tunnel is full of trucks waiting to get on the highway!” 

Yan Junxun accelerated again.

“Fuck.” Su Heting then yelled at Shi Shanyan. “You guys made a pledge to die together for love?!”  

“You shut the hell up.” Shi Shanyan frowned at all the din.

The other party started to adjust his direction. He would have been able to enter the tunnel before the mountain range after the big bend. But then, Yan Junxun had already caught up with him. He turned the steering wheel, and the front of the car slammed hard into the rear of the other car like a ballistic bull. The other party did not expect Yan Junxun to be so ruthless. Before he could adjust the direction, the left door of the car struck against the railings of the bend. The jarring sound of friction rang out right after. However, the other party was quick to react and changed directions under the screeching of tires to continue forward at the cost of scraping off one side-view mirror.

Go on, run faster. 

Yan Junxun followed closely behind and rammed into the car again, as if provoking the other party.    

Once again, the door of the other party’s car crashed into the railings. The little orange dragon’s alarm was already blaring in a frenzied loop. The other party lurched on forward. Because of the bend, the entire car repeatedly slammed left and right on the narrow road. But Yan Junxun had no intention of entering the tunnel. He turned the steering wheel, and the rear of his car arced around the bend with the front of the car turning around to choke off the gap in between. He used the body of the car to slam the other party into the tunnel’s blind spot. The other party crashed right over into it. 

Yan Junxun turned off the engine and opened the door of the car. As he stepped out, he pulled out a steel rod from under the seat. 

“Warning!” The voice of the other party’s on-board system indistinctly wafted out. “Warning! An SOS has been sent—”  

Yan Junxun swung the steel rod and abruptly smashed it on the other party’s car door. Glass next to the driver’s seat promptly exploded! Everyone thought that Yan Junxun would stop here, but he swung the rod down again and again, smashing the other party’s car door until it was all out of shape. 

Because the driver’s seat was empty.

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Author’s Words:
Inuit (Eskimo) Structure: The Inuits used the exclusivity of animals and divided the dogs pulling the snow sleds into two ranks: lead dogs and team dogs. The lead dogs lead the way at the front. They enjoy a variety of privileges, such as having individual portions of food all to themselves and exclusive access to the best kennels. They were also never beaten. Team dogs pull the sled behind the lead dogs. They do not eat and live well, having to fight for food and stay in cramped kennels together. They were also often subjected to whippings. The preferential treatments of the lead dogs make team dogs resentful, and consequently, they are always wanting to catch up with the lead dogs to bite hard and relentlessly into it.—Criminology: A Sociological Understanding.  
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  1. 红叔 literally red uncle, although 红 (hong) is also a surname