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63 No Signal

 Strongman hurried out to sign off on the delivery. He had just brought everyone's dinner inside, with the help of two other male classmates, when there was a loud boom of thunder.

The sound of rain followed. It was as though a reservoir up in the sky had burst open; the rain poured relentlessly, in an unending torrent.

The staff who had delivered their food rushed back outside, and disappeared into the wind and rain.

It was impossible to eat outside in the yard while it was raining like this.

Mei Xiawen had everyone claim their dinner and return to their respective rooms to eat.

Gu Nianzhi, as per her usual habit, had her eyes glued to her phone while eating dinner. Suddenly, she frowned, the wrinkles in her brow deepening with every passing second.

"What's wrong, Lil Sis? Why are you so upset? Class Rep was super well-behaved today-he totally ignored the Two-faced B*tch from Class Two, so don't worry!" Little Temptress had automatically assumed that Gu Nianzhi was angry with Mei Xiawen.

Gu Nianzhi did not bother replying; she put her chopsticks down, and walked around the room with her phone raised. She tried every spot, and finally walked to the door, her phone still held high above her.

It was still raining cats and dogs outside; there was even the occasional sound of thunder.

Was it the rain? Was that why there was no phone signal?

"What's she doing?" Green Tea Fang was dumbfounded. She asked Lady Cao, "Did Lil Sis eat something funny?"

Lady Cao was also frowning at her phone. She said, perplexed, "Lil Sis is looking for a signal. What's going on? I'm not getting a signal on my phone, either."

"Maybe it's your phone?" Little Temptress produced her phone. "Voila! My latest Vertu diamond phone! Hmm? Wait... it looks like you're right: there's no signal!"

Green Tea Fang got out her iPhone, and found that she didn't have a signal either.

Gu Nianzhi had turned back to her roommates. She looked at them, her face very pale. Although she was trying very hard to stay calm, she could not hide the panic in her eyes.

"There's no signal: there's no signal anywhere." Gu Nianzhi said, her face white as a sheet. "I'm going online."

She tried to connect to the resort Wi-Fi, only to find that even the internet was down!

"What happened?!" Little Temptress asked worriedly. "No internet? Are they trying to kill us?!" She slumped dramatically.

Everyone had long since taken the internet for granted, and expected it to be available at all times.

In this day and age, being unable to connect to the internet was an unimaginable nightmare, tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment.

Gu Nianzhi stared at her phone, and thought for a long moment. She opened the door and walked along the covered passageway to look for Mei Xiawen. She wanted to ask him if he could get ahold of the resort staff and ask to borrow their telephone.


"Nianzhi, you're here! Looking for the Class Rep, I suppose?" Strongman had spotted Gu Nianzhi, clad in an olive green camouflage T-shirt, and was now enthusiastically inviting her in.

Gu Nianzhi shook her head. "I'll wait here."

"Class Rep! Nianzhi's here for you!" Strongman hurriedly turned and called for Mei Xiawen when he realized that Gu Nianzhi wasn't going to come inside.

Mei Xiawen had just finished his meal and was stepping in to take a shower when he heard Strongman say that Nianzhi had come. He hurriedly dried his hair with a towel and came out of the bathroom. He looked around, but did not see Gu Nianzhi. He grabbed Strongman and asked, "Where's Nianzhi? I thought I heard you say she's here?"

"She's at the door, but she wouldn't come in," Strongman said, smiling. He pointed towards the door.

Mei Xiawen quickly opened the door and stepped outside. It was dark out; Gu Nianzhi stood in the covered passageway, looking slim and graceful against the backdrop of heavy, fog producing rain. Platinum floral earrings shone on her pearly white earlobes, complementing her creamy skin. She was so delicate and beautiful, he was seized by the desire to fold her protectively into his arms. At the same time, he was afraid to do so; she looked so fragile that it seemed entirely possible that a sudden, sharp exhalation from him would blow her away, scattering her into the storm.

Mei Xiawen's heart beat harder. "Nianzhi, I was just about to look for you myself. You read my mind, so we must be soulmates."

Gu Nianzhi ignored the love-struck look in Mei Xiawen's eyes; instead, she put a hand around his arm and pulled him next to the door. She said, in a quiet voice, "Xiawen, I want to call my family, but there's no phone signal. The internet is down, too. Can you do me a favor? Can you ask the villa staff if we can borrow their phone?"

During an emergency, it was unlikely for the landlines to fail, even if the signal towers had somehow malfunctioned.

Mei Xiawen was stunned to hear this. "No signal on your phone? No internet? That's impossible. I've been here a dozen times, and I've never had this happen to me."

He rushed into his room, found his phone, and tried it. Gu Nianzhi was right: there was no signal. He tried the Wi-Fi, and got only an error message.

"How is this possible?" Mei Xiawen's eyebrows were knit together in exasperation.

These days, losing one's mobile phone or internet connection was likely to drive even the calmest person mad with frustration.

"See? I wasn't lying. Let's go look for a phone, all right?" Gu Nianzhi was beginning to feel antsy.

Mei Xiawen looked at her and stuffed his phone back into his trouser pocket. "It's pouring out there. Let's wait for the rain to stop before we go borrow a phone."

Gu Nianzhi turned to look at the dense, rainfall; the rain drops were falling so fast, it was as though she were staring at a curtain of water. She nodded helplessly and said, "Okay. I'll go back to my room, then."

Just as she was about to leave, disheartened, she heard a voice come from the rain: "Miss Gu, did you drop this plastic bag?"

Gu Nianzhi looked up, confused.

Standing there, in the dark night and pouring rain, was an ordinary-looking man in a sweater; his features were so unremarkable that it would be impossible to find him again if he were to walk into a crowd. He was walking in the rain towards Gu Nianzhi with a black plastic bag in his hand.

Gu Nianzhi was just about to say that the plastic bag wasn't hers when she took a closer look and realized that this was actually someone she knew.

He used to be a familiar face, back when she lived with Huo Shaoheng in the Special Ops military base. She had not seen him again after moving out from the base to study at C University.

Gu Nianzhi's heart was beating wildly. She immediately asked, "Where did you find it?!"

Mei Xiawen glanced at the plastic bag; his brow wrinkled further at the sight. "Nianzhi, why on earth are you using a plastic bag? They're terrible for the environment."

Gu Nianzhi was anxious to talk to the man. She pushed Mei Xiawen into his room, and said, "Xiawen, why don't you go back inside? I want to talk to him. I know him, don't worry."

Mei Xiawen looked at the ordinary-looking man, and then at Gu Nianzhi. He pressed his lips together and returned to his room in a sulky mood.

As soon as Mei Xiawen had gone, the man immediately led Gu Nianzhi to a remote corner of Qingfeng Garden, isolated from the other sleeping quarters. He said in a low voice, "Miss Gu, do you remember me? I work under Mister Huo. It is my duty to protect you as your bodyguard."

Gu Nianzhi nodded. "I remember you. It's nice to see you again, Brother Li. Why are you here? Are Huo Shao and the others here, too?"

She brightened at this thought. Her eyes sparkled.

If Huo Shao was here, there was nothing to fear!

"This is no time for chit-chat." Brother Li's face was very grim. "Mister Huo isn't here. He sent me here to protect you. I've been shadowing you since yesterday, but I wasn't expecting something like this to happen. We've lost both the phone signal and internet connection today. Something is definitely wrong here, so I came here to warn you."

Half an hour before, he had noticed that the phone signal and the internet connection had disappeared at almost the same time. He had hurried to the signal tower located in the nearby mountain only to discover that it had been deliberately sabotaged by someone. The damage was extensive; it could not be repaired for a while.

He had lost contact with the Special Operations Forces, and had no way of knowing whether the rest of the team knew something was wrong. It was a Saturday and there were fewer men on duty at the base than usual.

If the person on duty was sleeping on the job due to the slow nature of the weekend, then it could take up to an entire day before someone realized that there was a situation up at the resort.

He could not afford to wait until the next day for a response from the base. It might be too late by then.

Brother Li had not wasted any more time trying to get in touch with the base. Spurred by anxiety, he had come directly to Gu Nianzhi instead, with the intention of taking her away from there immediately.

As long as they were able to get to a place with a phone signal, they would be safe and out of danger.

Gu Nianzhi was staring at Brother Li, mouth agape. "Huo Shao sent you to protect me? Why haven't I heard of this?"