Dominion’s End Volume 2: Aberrant City
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Extra: The Journey Home, Part Two—translated by purplezero (proofread by Arcedemius & Elkin; C/E edited by lucathia)
Jiang Shutian was the first to wake up.
Reflexively, he touched his chest and confirmed that he was still alive. Then, feeling silly about such an action, he lowered his hand with a bitter smile. That wave of pain had been so terrifying that he thought he was going to die.
He turned around, looking at the others, and saw that red-haired Jenny was moving. She was lifting her head up.
“Up already? Wake up the others. We need to hurry and hit the road …”
Jiang Shutian’s sentence trailed off. She raised her head and looked straight at him, her face covered with translucent fish scales. Her mouth ripped open, revealing a mouth filled with sharp teeth. Her throat even had lines of openings that fluttered non-stop. They were fish gills!
But he could still tell from that face that it was Jenny. Jiang Shutian didn’t know how to react. He even began to worry about what he currently looked like. Could it be…
Jiang Shutian abruptly pulled his gun out and aimed at the half-monster, half-human Jenny—she was pouncing at him. He hesitated for a second but in the end, he could not bring himself to shoot, choosing to duck aside instead. However, something swept at his legs, almost tripping him. He looked down to discover that Jenny’s legs had morphed into a large fish tail.
With the body of a human and the tail of a fish, she was practically a mermaid. But the mermaid in front of him was absolutely nothing like the beautiful ones from fairytales. The fish tail was a wretched shade of green, as if mold were growing on it, and spikes jutted out of it.
Jiang Shutian aimed at the fish tail and fired a few shots. She was in so much pain that she leapt non-stop, shrieking like a strangled chicken. By now, the muzzle had already moved to point between Jenny’s eyes. Jiang Shutian gazed at that face that was both familiar yet foreign, struggling to shoot. Before he could open fire, a throwing knife had stabbed into her head, and she slowly sagged to the floor.
Jiang Shutian turned his head. Xiao Sha was looking at Jenny in alarm.
Xiao Sha still retained the appearance of a human. Judging from the way he was looking at himself, Jiang Shutian could conclude that he also appeared human.
“What is that thing?” Xiao Sha asked in disbelief.
Jiang Shutian opened his mouth and only then realized that from Xiao Sha’s angle, the large fish tail had blocked more than half of his view. He had probably not realized that this was Jenny and had only seen a monster attacking his boss, thus he was able to act so decisively.
He hesitated over what to say. But the next moment, someone grabbed his ankle. Jiang Shutian looked down and saw Jenny yawning her mouth wide open, about to take a bite of his leg.
Bang, bang, bang!
Jiang Shutian fired three consecutive shots and blasted away most of her head.
In that moment, he completely understood what kind of apocalypse this was: it was terrifying beyond expectation.
With such a great commotion, some of the others woke up in a daze.
Jiang Shutian surveyed the inside of the car and then pressed the muzzle of his gun to the head of furry monster with a snout.
It was Wu Zaiyu, the rookie mercenary, Wu the Ewe. He had always said that once he married a girl, he would then be able to raise a dog with her at home. Cain had always teased him that he was marrying just to get a dog. But before the rookie could realize that future, he had turned into a dog himself.
After Jiang Shutian pulled the trigger and lowered the gun, he realized that his steady right hand that had never missed a mark was shaking.
“Boss, t-they’re…” Xiao Sha made out the fish’s face and realized that the monster he had attacked had actually been his comrade.
“Dead.” Jiang Shutian coldly said, “Jenny would never attack me. That thing isn’t her.”
Xiao Sha nodded, silent. He hesitated for a bit but still asked, “Will we become like that too?”
Jiang Shutian firmly answered, “No.”
If everyone would turn into monsters, Shuyu would not have asked him to prepare supplies, so not everyone would turn. He just didn’t know what the trigger was. Jenny and Wu Zaiyu did not have anything in common.
How many will turn into monsters at home?
Can Shuyu really handle it?
The more Jiang Shutian thought about it, the more his heart sank. He also completely failed to realize that his siblings could become monsters.
“Xiao Sha, wake up the others. We’re returning immediately!”
However, this “immediately” took several days. Jiang Shutian had never thought that there would be so many monsters, or that they would all be different types with completely different abilities so that there was simply no way of predicting what they could do. Many of them were much tougher to deal with than Jenny, who had been a fish out of water.
Although guns were still useful, the moment a shot was fired, it would attract hundreds and thousands of monsters. They had to sneak along the entire way and were forced to only use daggers to fight with those monsters.
It only took a momentary lapse of concentration for Zheng Xing to get bitten.
Everyone had grim looks on their faces. At the start of the apocalypse when they hadn’t figured out anything, they had already lost Jenny and Wu Zaiyu. Now, they would even have to lose Zheng Xing too?
“Kill me.” Zheng Xing took a deep breath. “Let me die as a human.”
The group’s eyes reddened. Cain lifted his gun, intending to send off his comrade, only to be ordered “Stop!” by their boss.
“Give him a shot of antibiotics.” Jiang Shutian calmly said, “If we die from a single bite, then Shuyu wouldn’t have asked me to get hold of so many antibiotics.”
Hearing that, the mercenaries, who had survived through countless battles, almost cried with relief. The next day, after seeing that Zheng Xing was still human and able to eat, talk, and not bite people, they really did burst into tears.
After many days of risking life and limb to escape, he had finally arrived home. Yet, Jiang Shutian did not dare to get out of the car. Yes, the man who had entered the mercenary world before even turning twenty was, at this very moment, afraid to get out of the car.
But his family was waiting for his rescue, and a second could spell the difference between life and death. Jiang Shutian could not permit himself to be weak here. He pulled the door open and was out of the car the next moment, leading the charge into his house.
The moment Jiang Shutian opened the front door, he felt all the blood in his body freeze.
It was absolute chaos inside—the living room furniture was overturned and many places had been stained dark red. It was dried blood.
He was going crazy.
“Shuyu!” He rushed into the living room and passed through the kitchen. The entrance was blocked off by stacks of stuff, but he did not see anyone.
“Shujun!” The hallway was dyed with blood. Whose blood am I stepping on?
“Where are you? Answer me!”
“Boss, there’s…” Ceng Yunqian stuck her head out from the second floor. However, after shouting “there’s,” she did not know how to finish that sentence and was at a loss of what to do.
Jiang Shutian rushed directly to the second floor. He blankly stood rooted to the spot. The floor in front of Shuyu’s door was completely stained a dark red, dotted with specks of yellow-white. An unbearable, rotting stench emanated from it.
He was too frightened to take another step, too scared of going into Shuyu’s room, too afraid to even think…
The mercenaries stood behind him, not daring to make a sound.
The group all started. Although the voice hadn’t been loud, they had definitely heard it.
Jiang Shutian growled, shoving the suffocating worry out of his mind, and jumped straight from the second floor to the first. He had glanced into Shujun’s room but had found no one there. He turned around and saw that Lin-bó’s door was closed. Jiang Shutian couldn’t stand the torture anymore and forcefully kicked the door open. There, he saw a figure lying on the bed.
He rushed over with long strides and lowered his head to look. He nearly broke down there and then. That face was no longer a human’s.
But his gaze was.
Jiang Shutian took another look. This was his younger brother. It was just that he was skinny to the point that he didn’t look human. He stretched his hand out to touch the face of that person lying on the bed, his touch feather-light for fear of breaking him. He couldn’t feel any flesh, only skin and bones. Is this really my dìdi who has been handsome beyond words since childhood?
Jiang Shutian was speechless when he saw his brother open his mouth to say something, but he couldn’t hear anything. He quickly lowered his head to listen closely.
Jiang Shutian didn’t know how he had responded. His heart both ached and was bursting with pride. Shuyu had really protected the family. He had been the one protecting the family all along. As for him, the elder brother, what had he done? What was he doing?!
The person lying in bed heaved sigh of relief, and his eyes slowly closed.
“Shuyu!” Jiang Shutian frantically yelled.
Both eyes opened a little, as if shocked open, but his gaze wasn’t focusing at all.
“Bring over the antibiotics! Now! Shuyu, wake up, you’ve got to stay awake, Shuyu—”
Zheng Xing rushed in and pushed his boss away. Seeing Shuyu’s condition shocked him too, but he immediately took over the emergency rescue effort.
Jiang Shutian could only stand there senselessly. He knew that his sister was in the basement, and that her situation was unknown, but he also knew that as long as Shuyu was breathing, Shujun would be all right.
Just as expected, before long, Shujun rushed in. It was only then that Jiang Shutian snapped out of his daze and quickly wrapped his arms around his sister and forcibly took her out of the room. On the way out, he also locked the door to prevent her from getting in again.
Jiang Shujun yelled hysterically, “What are you doing, Dàgē? I want to see Èrgē! Èrgē!”
Nevertheless, Jiang Shutian refused to let her go in. If Shujun were to see Shuyu’s condition, and how he was currently being resuscitated, she would likely fall apart on the spot.
Unable to break free, Jiang Shujun sobbed, turning to pound her fists against Jiang Shutian’s chest over and over again.
“Dàgē, where did you go? Why are you only home now? You don’t know how much Èrgē pushed himself. He couldn’t even stand up steadily, but he still used a baseball bat to save us, and he even went to check the basement. Lin-bó grabbed him and…”
Jiang Shutian hugged his sister and listened to the several days of events his brother had experienced, suddenly feeling like trash. He had plenty of firepower but he had still taken such a long time to return home. Conversely, his dìdi, with a dilapidated body and a single baseball bat, had saved the entire family!
“Dàgē, I…” Jiang Shujun was filled with dread, and the pace of her breathing quickened. She babbled, “I locked Èrgē outside. He told me not to open the door. U-Uncle and Auntie were behind me, so I didn’t dare open the door. But… Èrgē’s dead because of this, right? I killed Èrgē!”
Jiang Shutian’s heart ached. Shujun was panicking to the point that she was incoherent. He didn’t fully understand the situation, but he did know how heavily Shujun relied on Shuyu. If what she said was true, she had locked Shuyu outside the door. For these past few days, just how much pressure had Shujun had to bear? Now, all that stress was let out in one explosive burst and she was completely hysterical.
He squashed down his guilt and slapped his sister.
“Nonsense. Your Èrgē is doing well. Who do you think you’ve killed?”
Shujun stopped and caressed her face without feeling the pain. She could only stare at Dàgē and asked in a daze, “Èrgē is fine?”
“Of course he’s fine. Have you forgotten his reputation of being the healthy boy who never gets sick?” Shuyu’s skinny and rugged body kept flashing through Jiang Shutian’s mind. Not only was he trying to persuade his sister, he was also trying to persuade himself.
“Yeah!” Jiang Shujun brushed her tears away and smiled. “I’m glad that Èrgē is fine. I’m glad that Dàgē has returned. With both of you here, our family will definitely be all right.”
Jiang Shutian hugged his sister. He hoped it would be so, begged that it would be so.
Shuyu, I’ve come home. You also need to come back quickly.
[The Journey Home, End]