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65 What They’re After

 "What's going on?" Mei Xiawen frowned as he looked at Gu Nianzhi. "What are you trying to say, exactly?"

Gu Nianzhi thought about it, and decided that her close friends deserved an explanation. It was their right to know the truth.

"Come inside, I have something to say." Gu Nianzhi turned to enter her room. Inside, she said to her roommates, "Green Tea Fang, Lady Cao, Little Temptress - I have something to tell you."

Gu Nianzhi's three roommates and Mei Xiawen gathered around her. They looked at her curiously.

Gu Nianzhi took a deep breath, and began by describing the strange symbols she had seen. She followed this with the black SUV and sniper rifle, things she had learned from Brother Li. Finally, she brought up the predicament they were in: no phone signal, no internet connection, and no working landlines...

"We lucked out when Class Two practically extorted Mingyue Court from us. I just hope they're smart enough to get through this." Gu Nianzhi got out her phone and used a drawing app to show the others the concentric circles she had seen.

Her three roommates and Mei Xiawen were absolutely dumbfounded. They looked at each other, and asked, dubiously, "...How do you know what a sniper rifle case looks like?"

"One of my distant relatives is a soldier. He has a sniper rifle case, exactly like the one the man was carrying." Gu Nianzhi did not tell them that she had gotten the information from Brother Li. Her intricate platinum floral earrings flashed in a brilliant arc under the light as she calmly turned her head.

She had been with Huo Shaoheng for six years; if there was one thing she had learned from him, it was how to remain calm and composed. "Aren't you all worried?"

"Worried? What about?" Little Temptress asked as she carefully arranged her hair. "I'm more worried about the internet connection. I have to get online so I can check Weibo."

"Yeah, why should we be worried? Okay, so maybe someone's up to no good. What's that got to do with us?" Mei Xiawen did not understand; he put on his gold-rimmed glasses, and asked, "Aren't you overthinking it?"

"How very magnanimous of you all." Gu Nianzhi was absolutely perplexed by their non-reaction; she walked around the other four as she said, "You guys are either wealthy heirs or have parents in high places. Have your families never warned you that the world is full of dangers?"

Mei Xiawen suddenly realized what she was saying. The blood immediately drained from his lean, fair face. "You think it's us they're after?! How dare they!"

Wealthy heirs were always at risk of being kidnapped. It was their greatest fear.

It was true that kidnappers only wanted money, but it was also true that many of them would not hesitate to kill their hostage after getting what they wanted.

The Meis were bigwigs in C City; as a general rule, no one dared to mess with them, not inside C City. This was why Mei Xiawen had never had bodyguards with him when he was inside the city.

But he was always surrounded by bodyguards whenever he had to step outside of C City.

Gu Nianzhi and Brother Li had deduced the bandits' intentions using nothing more than common sense: if Gu Nianzhi wasn't the target, then it was only logical to assume that the bad guys were after her wealthy classmates.

Gu Nianzhi had the utmost confidence in Huo Shaoheng. He had protected her well; no one had realized that she was more than just an "ordinary citizen." She was therefore absolutely certain that she wasn't the target.

Those thugs probably thought of her as nothing more than a barnacle on the whales they were hunting.

"...Lil Sis makes a good point..." Lady Cao looked at Little Temptress. "There are a lot of wealthy, powerful people in our class."

It wasn't just Mei Xiawen; there was also Wang Junya, a.k.a. Little Temptress.

The Wang family, based in the imperial capital, was distinguished and famous.

Green Tea Fang, too, had come from a family worth tens of millions.

Gu Nianzhi was the only one in the room from an ordinary family. She had been dragged into this entirely by accident.

"What should we do then? Are we supposed to just give in without a fight?!" Little Temptress was nervous now. "Should we tell everyone? Get everyone together so we can discuss how to deal with this?"

Gu Nianzhi shook her head. "No, I don't think we should tell everyone. The more people know about this the easier it is for word to get out. Whoever's out there may start paying a little more attention to us if they think we're acting funny."

"That makes sense." Mei Xiawen was thinking about the students in Class Two. "But surely we can't leave Class Two completely in the dark? How about we go talk to them?"

"Sucks to be Class Two." Green Tea Fang elegantly raised her cup of tea and blew on it. "But then again they practically threw a tantrum to get us to swap rooms with them. They got what they wanted, can't blame us now."

"This is no time to gloat," said Gu Nianzhi as she tugged Green Tea Fang's hand. "I'm worried something will happen to them."

"I'll ask Strongman to go have a look." Mei Xiawen nodded. "We'll tell them to be careful. There are more than 20 people over there - as long as they stick together and keep the gate shut, everything should be all right."

With that, Mei Xiawen left Gu Nianzhi's room, and returned to the room he shared with Strongman.

A moment later, Strongman rushed out of the room, wearing a disposable raincoat.


It was now precisely eight o'clock. An assortment of food and drink had been laid out in the resort villa's conference room, inside the administration building. All the resort staff were present; someone who looked like a manager was up front, calling out names and ticking them off a list.

Five minutes later, the man was in front of the director's office, knocking on his door. "Director Fu, everyone's here."

A voice answered from inside the office. "Tell everyone they can start eating. I have something to announce after everyone's finished." The voice was indistinct and hard to make out, but the message was clear: the manager was to go back and give the order for everyone to have their dinner.

The manager returned to the conference room, and announced, with a smile, "Director Fu says we can start eating. There'll be an announcement after dinner!"

So they had been summoned for a staff dinner. Nothing important.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and began to eat and drink in high spirits.


Strongman ran through the rain and arrived at Mingyue Court.

He reached out and gave the gate a gentle push; it swung open at his touch. Inside, all was quiet, save for the sound of heavy rain.

Strongman felt a chill run down his spine.

He walked to the covered passageway and made his way to one of the rooms, the one the class representative for Class Two was living in. He stood before the door.

The lights were on inside, but there were no voices to be heard. He had just come from the noisy, boisterous rooms in Qingfeng Garden; now, he felt as though he had stepped into another world.

"...Class Rep Chang?" Strongman knocked on the door, but no one answered.

He pushed open the door, and what he saw almost made him scream!

There were six or seven people in the room, lying haphazardly on the ground, all of them unconscious!

Strongman almost swallowed both his fists as he tried to stop himself from screaming.

He was so terrified he could barely keep his wits about him. He crept slowly towards the person nearest to him, who happened to be the class representative for Class Two.

When he was close enough to get a better look, he saw everyone's chests rhythmically rise and fall. Everyone was still breathing.

He breathed a sigh of relief.

Strongman knew he would go crazy if they were all dead...

He summoned his courage and began to check all the rooms, only to discover that every student from Class Two had passed out.

Food lay half-eaten in every room. Upon inspection, he realized that these were the food and drinks that had been offered to them free of charge.

He had some of these free food in his room; fortunately for him, he hadn't touched any of it.

Strongman rushed out of Mingyue Court, his face full of terror. On his way back to Qingfeng Garden, he came across a kitten sheltering from the rain inside the bamboo forest. Strongman's heart melted at the sight of it; he took the kitten back with him to Qingfeng Garden.

"Bad news, Class Rep." Strongman set the kitten down, and described what he had seen at Mingyue Court to Mei Xiawen. "It's probably the food they brought over for free. Like they say, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch!"

Mei Xiawen's face had darkened; he slammed an angry fist into the table. As he turned away, he heard a meow. He looked at Strongman. "Where'd you get the cat?"

"I found it on my way back. It was hiding in the bamboo forest, sheltering from the rain."

"Feed it with these leftovers." Mei Xiawen pointed at the free food the chef had sent over.