Chapter 270: This Life—The Beginning (XI)
Shang Ke changed into new clothes, tidied himself up, and instantly changed from a poor wandering artist to a capable young man.
确定英勇赴死的目标后, 他反而轻松下来，不再像先前那般小心谨慎, 顾虑重重。他是要征服死亡的男人，又何必畏惧与世俗抗争？
After determining his heroic death goal, he relaxed and was no longer as cautious or worried as before. He was a man who would conquer death, so why should he be afraid to fight against the world?
“走吧, 戚辰，我们回国。”尚可将自己的吉他送给了一个孩子, 轻装简行，身边跟着已经恢复勿独记忆、获得系统的戚辰。戚辰应该不知道自己保留了前世的记忆，尚可自然也不会暴露。
“Let’s go, Qi Chen, we’re going home.” Shang Ke gave his guitar to a child. He was dressed simply walked in a relaxed manner, followed by Qi Chen, who had recovered his memory and gained a system. Qi Chen shouldn’t know that he had retained the memory of his previous life, and Shang Ke naturally wouldn’t reveal it.
无论是曾经的师弟勿独，还是如今的发小戚辰，尚可都说不上恨, 却也没了往昔的情分。勿独或许爱他，但他的爱参杂着太多不甘和嫉恨，就像一个赌气的孩子, 非得分个胜负。
Whether it was his former junior brother Wu Du, or the current childhood friend Qi Chen, Shang Ke could not say he hated them, but the affections of the past were no longer there. Perhaps Wu Du loved him, but his love was mixed with too much unresignment and jealous hate, just like a peeved child unable to score a victory.
“Keke, what are you laughing at?” Qi Chen looked at him in confusion.
“I’m laughing at you for wearing your underwear outside.”
“What? I didn’t! I didn’t wear underwear at all today!”
Wei Xun followed the clues to G City, searching during the whole journey. He found the same robot markings separately in the back alleys of bars, ruins, construction sites, and other places throughout every block of the small town. Wei Xun asked all around but found no sign that KeKe had worked in those places, until he saw the line of words on the cart of an old scrap collector: 【The feeling of not bathing for five days is like making pickled vegetables— air dried, soaked, and then waiting to slowly ferment. 7/15/2020】 → SangWei Town。
“Oh, Sweet Boy.” The old scrap collector saw the photo that Wei Xun took out, laughed, and said, “I really like him. He stayed by my side for around ten days.”
“Stayed by your side for around ten days?” Wei Xun looked at the old scrap collector in front of him with messy hair, tattered clothes, and a smelly body. His heart couldn’t help but tighten. No wonder why Keke’s footprints were practically all over the small city but he still couldn’t get any news about him. It was because no one would pay attention to a downtrodden lowly scrap collector.
That’s right. Keke didn’t have his ID card. What else could he do besides picking up garbage?
Wei Xun went to the scrap collector’s residence to take a look. It was an abandoned warehouse, leaking wind on all sides, with dim lighting. The floor was piled up with various bottles and cans. The only thing that looked pleasing was the two mattresses at the corner. Even though they were handsewn, the tailoring and design were both carefully made, and they were clearly incompatible with the surroundings here.
“Oh, you’re talking about this?” The old scrap collector laughed and replied, “Sweet Boy made it. He said the former bed was too damp, and it’s bad for the body to sleep there for so long, so he made two new ones from scratch. I have to say it. His hands are so skillful. If he applies as a tailor, there will definitely be many masters rushing to get him…”
Wei Xun didn’t continue listening to the old man’s chatter. He gazed deeply at that bed that Shang Ke slept in. The image of Shang Ke, sitting in the corner of this dark warehouse, sewing a mattress appeared in his mind. Thriving in adversity, he still didn’t forget to make life more comfortable even under limited circumstances.
Wei Xun seem to have never truly understood him. He simply relied on his heart’s impulses and desires to force him to be his own, to the extent he ignored his truly beautiful characteristics.
Wei Xun said goodbye to the old scavenger and continued on his journey to find Keke.
The next stop— Sang Wei Town. Judging from his route, his goal should be the city. But without any papers, what was he planning to do for a living? He couldn’t pick up trash the whole time, could he?
Wei Xun soon knew the answer.
He found a trace that KeKe left behind at a small restaurant in Sang Wei town. KeKe worked as a dishwasher in the restaurant for around ten days, and he even took on a part-time job cleaning and transporting. He rested seven hours every day, his salary was meager, and he didn’t even have tips. The owner was obviously squeezing the employees.
Wei Xun was extremely angry and reported the restaurant under the justification of “child labor, poor sanitation, and use of gutter oil.”
【Bosses that give low salaries but overwork employees are all cacti in a swamp. They will soak themselves to death sooner or later (Lights Candle). 7/26/2020】→ Ke Lun.
Afterwards, Wei Xun also found traces Shang Ke left behind, one after the other, in Theron, Kip, Konrad, and Barru, and other cities. Treading on his footsteps and sampling all his experiences, it was as if he was walking through a spiritual journey.
【It turns out that there really are people who like to eat rotten fish, ram testicles, insect eggs whose shells are about to break… Alright, Konrad, please allow me to carefully part from you forever. 8/10/2020】
【Today I met an aloof driver nicknamed the “Race Car Warrior”. Only after riding on the roller coaster for three hours did I realize that “warrior” was perhaps an artistically beautified derogatory term. 9/17/2020】
【After using ⅔ of my savings to buy a second hand guitar. I decided to become a wandering artist. 11/11/2020】
Wei Xun couldn’t bear to overlook any traces that KeKe left behind. He spent almost two week’s time continuously searching, until he reached T country’s capital, Bangkok.
He didn’t go and search at all, rather, he sent out a large number of people to check in advance and cut down on as much time as possible. After all, the further one goes, the larger the area, the bigger the population, and the difficulty of searching will also naturally increase. With one person’s strength alone, he was afraid it’s still not possible to finish searching after a few months.
“Master Xun, this is the video I found on the internet.” The bodyguard handed an IPad over to Wei Xun.
There was a video on the screen that was recorded on a phone. The screen was somewhat shaky, but the image was very clear. A man was sitting on a park bench, holding a guitar in his hands, concentrating on singing and playing it. His face was as white as snow jade in the cold wind. His eyes half-closed, his expression gentle, his black hair gently ruffled on his forehead, and his bright red lips the brightest and most beautiful color on the screen. The moving songs were sung one by one, attracting passer-byers to stop and listen. From time to time a girl’s excited whisper could be heard.
Wei Xun noticed the stains on his clothes, the tears on his pants, as well as the redness and swelling on his finger. He looked again at his gentle smile and bright eyes. His heart was full of extreme upset and pity. He wished he could immediately rush over to hug him.
“Where is he right now?” Wei Xun asked.
“He had already returned back to the country.” The bodyguard paused and added a sentence, “With Mr. Qi.”
Wei Xun didn’t react much. He only played the video over and over again.
Half an hour later, he opened his mouth and said, “Go book a plane ticket.”
At 1 o’clock in the afternoon, Wei Xun boarded the plane to return home. He also took a guitar that he bought from a child.
While Wei Xun was still looking for Shang Ke in T country, Shang Ke was already carrying out business in his home country. He pushed open the restaurant’s private room and walked over slowly to the person sitting on the sofa.
“Mr. Wei, it’s our first time meeting. I’m Shang Ke.” Shang Ke stood still in front of the man, and said with a smile, “You shouldn’t be unfamiliar with me so I won’t introduce myself in detail. You probably aren’t in a good mood right now, but I would still like to thank you for coming to our appointment today.”
Wei Xingye, that is, Wei Xun’s father, stared at Shang Ke coldly without saying a word.
Shang Ke sat down by the sofa on the side and said calmly, “I’ll get straight to the point and say it frankly. I want your son.”
The corner of Wei Xingye’s mouth twitched. He obviously didn’t anticipate him to get to the point in such an aggressive manner.
“Using a son in exchange for stabilizing your family, this is a bargain.” Shang Ke looked straight at Wei Xinye’s eyes. “Don’t threaten me with your identity, you’ve already lost this qualification.”
Wei Xingye snorted coldly, “Little friend, some things can’t be done at a moment’s will.”
“You’re right, so I prepared a lot of chips.” Shang Ke smiled and said, “The transaction details I issued the day before yesterday was one of them. I wonder if you’re satisfied?”
“Where did you get it?” Wei Xingye stared at him aggressively. If those materials were that easy to obtain, their Wei Family would’ve long been done for.
Shang Ke didn’t answer his question, rather, he continued to speak, “I will regularly send you other information until you agree with my terms.”
“Can you be any more disgusting?” Wei Xingye finally erupted, “If you like men, that’s your own problem, and you can pick so many men out there. Why do you have to lead Wei Xun astray?”
“I didn’t come here today to reason with you.” Shang Ke crossed his legs and said lightly, “Rather, I’m threatening you with extreme ‘sincerity’.”
Wei Xingye’s voice was cold: “Where did you get the courage to threaten me?”
“When I first decided to approach you directly, I was fearless.” Shang Ke said with a laugh, “You can use any means against me, even killing me. But I want to remind you of the ‘chips’ I have in my hands. They won’t lose any value because of my death. On the contrary, those ‘chips’ will spread everywhere half a month after my death. As long as the Internet exists for one day, it will be everywhere.”
“You think I’ll believe that?” Wei XingYe sneered.
“You guys took away my Chu Hao. Did you develop any results?” Shang Ke suddenly changed the subject.
Shang Ke said with a laugh, “Do you want to experience true artificial intelligence?”
Wei Xingye was dumbfounded. He didn’t speak.
Shang Ke suddenly said to the air, “Chu Hao, send Mr. Wei a picture of a puppy.”
“Ok.” A young and tender voice came from Shang Ke’s pocket.
Immediately after hearing a ring, Wei XingYe’s phone rang with message beeps. He turned it on to take a look, and surprisingly, it was the headshot of a husky.
Wei Xingye: “…”
“Help Mr. Wei beautify it.” Shang Ke said.
The husky on the phone screen immediately moved to a beautifully adorned software. It drew on fake eyelashes, put on a bow, wiped off an incisor, adjusted it to black and white, then added a photo frame, and even lit a candle on the side.
Wei Xingye: “…”
Shang Ke caught a glimpse out of the corner of his eye. He laughed and said, “I’m sorry, Chu Hao’s aesthetics are somewhat unconventional.”
It’s called “unconventional”? It’s simply a tragedy for humans, alright?!
Chu Hao expressed with no modesty, “This is all the result of great effort and intensive study.”
Shang Ke said quite reasonably, “If you still have questions, I can continue to reveal other functions to you.”
Wei Xingye had to admit at this moment that he underestimated Shang Ke’s ability. The technology he mastered exceeded far beyond his understanding. Perhaps it would be more advantageous for the Wei Family to control and exploit him than to eliminate him. Moreover, he had grasped enough blackmail in his hands to shake the foundation of the Wei Family. It’s impossible for him to gamble the entire Wei Family with a nobody.
But two men… It was still hard for Wei Xingye to accept it.
“You should know that it’s impossible for the Wei Family to publicly acknowledge your relationship with Wei Xun.” Wei Xingye’s attitude softened a bit.
“Don’t worry about this. I can guarantee I’ll handle this matter without damaging the reputation of the WeiFamily.”
“What will you use to guarantee it?”
“My life.” Shang Ke replied with a smile.