Dominion’s End Volume 5: Zhanjiang Garrison
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
Extra 1: Lonely Thunder—translated by Simone (proofread by Arcedemius; C/E edited by lucathia)
Jin Zhan was sitting in a large black office chair, listening to his underlings report on Debert. That man known as the Flame King had sent a message, hoping to discuss combining their strengths to reclaim human territories.
Reclaim? A smile almost tugged at his lips, which might have been his first smile in years.
“That’s enough.” His interest had gradually died down.
“Jin-gē, maybe we really could cooperate?” his underlings said carefully. “There are too many aberrants and they are too strong. I heard that the Aberrant King in Lan City kills people on sight. Maybe one day it’ll come after us.”
“Where would we start this ‘reclaiming’? From Debert’s side? Do you want me to leave this place? Or let’s say we start from our location. Do you believe Debert would come here?”
Seeing the embarrassed faces of his underlings, Jin Zhan felt regret over the loss of his truly capable generals, the twin brothers Lü. They had always done well. The elder brother was courageous, the younger brother wise. One would craft the plan and the other would carry it out, without much need of Jin Zhan’s orders, even coming up with more and better plans than he could.
Even Feng’s underling Scar would be better than this useless lot in front of him. What a pity…
If only the twins were still here, perhaps there would have been one more top tier elite. Lü Mengren, as his name implied, was a fierce general. There would be no need for Jin Zhan to be stuck in a besieged city, unable to leave his post.
Jin Zhan’s lips curled into a sneer, causing each of his underlings who saw to tremble in fear and wonder whether they were the one who had angered this god—the Thunder God!
Where did all these “if only’s” come from? If I really wanted to dwell on the past, then if only Feng… The sound of knees hitting the ground one after the other interrupted Jin Zhan’s short-lived musings. He looked coldly at the group of underlings kneeling on the ground, begging for forgiveness in all kinds of fearful tones.
If it wasn’t for the “Jin-gē” they shouted, Jin Zhan would have thought they must have been worshipping and kneeling for an ancient emperor standing by his side.
Since when had his underlings stopped valuing even their knees?
Ah, yes, it was after Ah Zhi had left on his own without permission to avenge his brother’s death. In the end, he followed in his brother’s footsteps and never returned. Both brothers died by the hands of the same aberrant.
When the news reached Jin Zhan, he wasn’t able to control his rage and despair. Anyone standing close to him was half electrocuted to death, and some of them almost didn’t recover.
A few threads of lightning crackled between Jin Zhan’s fingers. The underlings on the ground were so frightened that they even started kowtowing. Though their movements sounded like they were playing ping pong with their foreheads, Jin Zhan didn’t pay attention to them at all.
He gazed into the distance. Out there were two powerful energies, one of which even shocked him…
Jin Zhan rose to his feet. He could only think of one person—no, one aberrant. Thirteen.
Although there was no certainty of victory, he still planned on going. With the other party so close, what room was there for fleeing? Unless he planned to escape by himself and abandon all the people who were at the base, he would have to face his opponent head-on.
“Jin-gē, where are you going?”
Jin Zhan glanced at his panic-stricken men. He wouldn’t take anyone with him. In the kind of world they lived in now, there was already no big advantage in numbers. To take anyone with him would be a death sentence for them.
But when Jin Zhan arrived at the scene, the situation was not like he had expected at all. One of the two energies had already been wiped out. The one that remained was the one that had intimidated even him.
A figure stood in front of the body of a huge aberrant—no, a “mutilated corpse.” A steady energy radiated from the figure’s hands. He must have found the aberrant’s crystal yet seemed to have no intention of leaving. He just stood there quietly.
Even after so many years, Jin Zhan still remembered this person’s face, but his memory was a bit vague. What is his name again?
Frost covered everything, the cold so intense that anyone nearby would feel the chill even in their hearts.
This man is the Ice Emperor.
Jin Zhan thought it over, and finally remembered that before the end of the world, Jiang Shutian had indeed lived nearby.
The memory of those first days of the apocalypse were too intense, dripping with blood, red as far as the eye could see. The final days before the end had become like black and white pictures. Even if anyone remembered, they were like a distant memory.
When had the Ice Emperor returned?
To travel across the world in these times was anything but simple. The overwhelming power of the aberrants in the sky was too great. Each and every one of them sustained itself with fresh meat, evolving quickly and often even banding together. Since the sky belonged to the aberrants, no one dared to fly.
Did he travel by boat?
The ocean was not a good place either, and no one even dared to live close to the shore.
No wonder the Ice Emperor is so fearless. Jin Zhan couldn’t fully assess his strength. It seemed that there was some disparity in strength…
He didn’t move. He didn’t need to say anything. The Ice Emperor had already noticed him for sure. He even had a feeling that the Ice Emperor was waiting for him to speak, to say even one word he shouldn’t so the Ice Emperor could happily give him a beating.
However, Jin Zhan had no intention to take a beating. He had thought that he would fight Thirteen to the death, kill him or be killed. He knew he couldn’t have won. But though he had come knowing it would have been his last battle, that didn’t mean that he was in need of a beating.
After watching for a while, Jin Zhan wanted to leave, but he couldn’t. His sixth sense told him not to move if he wanted to avoid a fight. While he stood helpless like that, a woman rushed toward them.
She shouted “Leader” again and again without a response. The woman fell to her knees and started crying, without a sound and without end. There were so many tears. Jin Zhan hadn’t seen a woman cry like this for a long time. All women who were brought before him would adapt to the situation, flirting and flaunting themselves, and even when they had to cry, there would be no endless flow of tears and snot.
The last time he had seen a woman cry like this was when, shortly after the apocalypse, the woman he cherished the most lost her daughter…
“Jin-gē, many people were seriously injured. It’s not looking good. The doctor said that our medicine might not be enough. Wh-what should we do?”
Jin Zhan’s lips were pressed tight as he listened to his underlings’ report on how many people they had lost. Half of them had turned into monsters, and many of the remaining half had been eaten by the monsters. The last surviving people all suffered injuries to some extent. The fortunate thing was that, though the number of people Jin Zhan could rely upon was few, many of those he depended upon the most were still alive. It was unavoidable that some had turned into aberrants and others were caught unaware and were eaten, but compared to losing half, the number he lost was simply not worth mentioning.
However, the most important people were still outside.
Jin Zhan frowned, hearing frantic cries.
“Xiaoyue, where is my Xiaoyue?”
Someone rushed past in a flurry of white. Before, Jin Zhan had always felt she brightened the room. She was a most rare sight, always able to bring a sense of serenity to all around her.
He remembered meeting Lin Yixue for the first time. The girl had been standing in the hall, slender and delicate, like a doe who had lost her way, not matching the surroundings at all. Even though she was several years older than him, Jin Zhan had still thought the girl was younger.
Therefore, when hearing this girl was his stepmother, Jin Zhan had felt it to be utterly ridiculous.
Even more absurd was that in the days to come, his stepmother became the person he cherished the most.
Today marked the first day that Jin Zhan didn’t want to see her.
Seeing that the situation was going south, Jin Zhan had sent someone to find Jin Feng, asking her to pick up Jin Xiaoyue on the way and return together. He never expected something to happen in the middle of the night. Now no one knew where the two were, and it was impossible for him to go and save them!
The city was crawling with monsters, and all Jin Zhan had left were wounded men. Even firearms could not be used lightly, as any loud noise would attract monsters. There was simply no way for them to overcome their situation.
Lin Yixue grabbed her stepson’s hand, like a drowning woman grabbing the last piece of driftwood.
“Ah Zhan, what about my Xiaoyue? Why isn’t Xiaoyue here? Didn’t you send someone to pick her up?”
Facing this woman, Jin Zhan simply couldn’t make a foul expression.
“I sent Feng to her.”
“Why haven’t they come back yet?” Lin Yixue was beside herself with worry. “Xiaoyue is so easily scared. She must be frightened. There are so many monsters. Ah Zhan, can’t you send more people to pick her up?
In the end, she was still biased toward her biological daughter. Jin Zhan thought about how this girl had become a stepmother at a very young age and had treated him and Jin Feng pretty well, especially Jin Feng. Even though Yixue often failed to understand them and always saw her own ordinary, girlish tastes as the standard, which actually gave Jin Feng a lot of trouble, in the end her intentions were good.
Jin Feng had taken it in stride. Her relationship with her stepmother and Xiaoyue had always been good. Even though they had nothing at all in common to talk about, Feng would listen quietly.
Jin Zhan remained silent. The expressions of the people around him were filled with anger, but the one whose gaze held the most hatred was Scar, Jin Feng’s right-hand man. On that day at headquarters, he had been bitten by a comrade who had turned into an aberrant. His leg was so swollen it resembled a big sausage. He couldn’t walk without crutches and even had a fever. Even so, he forced himself to come over to deal with the situation, hoping to free up more manpower to rescue Jin Feng.
If it hadn’t been for Jin Zhan telling him, “You will only be a burden to Feng if you went,” Scar really would have dragged himself out on his injured leg to save her.
Lü Zhi grabbed Scar’s shoulder and said, “Ha, don’t be so nervous, Scar. Feng-jiě is not someone who’s so easily snuffed out. If even she can’t survive this world, we might as well shoot ourselves in the head before it’s too late.”
Scar knew that Feng-jiě was powerful, but the kind of world they were in now, they simply couldn’t afford to relax.
They waited for two more days. Even though Jin Zhan was exhausted, and many casualties unexpectedly revived as monsters, causing a second wave of injuries and deaths, he still led his people out in search of Jin Feng. Somehow, in a street not far off from their location, they stumbled upon Ben.
When Jin Zhan saw Ben was covered in blood, his heart sank. Ben was young, and although Jin Feng made him train a lot, she never allowed him to be in danger in any way.
Ben had collapsed to the ground and said angrily, “It was all to save that damn girl. She was already a hindrance, yet she refused to leave just like that. She just had to go and save those university classmates—”
“Where is Feng?” Jin Zhan interrupted him.
Ben’s lips trembled. With a bowed head and choking on sobs, he said, “There were too many monsters in the university. We were trapped, and waiting around would only lead to death. The only thing we could do was break out. Feng-jiě told us to go first, and she would follow. I didn’t think she’d run in the opposite direction and fire a gunshot. In the end, all the monsters swarmed her…”
Jin Zhan was silent for a long time before remembering to ask one more question.
“Xiaoyue is also dead?”
Ben gritted his teeth in anger and said, “She isn’t dead. She and her classmates were running ahead of me. I was hurt and couldn’t run as fast. They ran incredibly fast, and were gone in the blink of an eye!”
Having heard that, Jin Zhan didn’t say anymore, but lifted Ben up himself, and led his people back to the base.
When Lin Yixue didn’t see her daughter among them, her tears kept falling, like pearls from a broken string. She begged Jin Zhan to save Jin Xiaoyue.
Standing aside, Scar’s eyes flashed red in anger and he yelled, “Because of that girl, Feng-jiě is dead! Jin Feng, your own sister! You still want to save that girl?”
“But Xiaoyue is also Ah Zhan’s sister!” Lin Yixue sobbed.
Scar just sneered in disdain.
Jin Zhan was silent. They were both his sisters, but Jin Feng and Jin Xiaoyue were different. Rather than saying Jin Xiaoyue was his sister, one might say she was the daughter of the woman he cherished the most. Because Lin Yixue cared, he cared.
Jin Feng had been his sister by blood and his equal. He had always trusted her to have his back.
No one could see the depths of the regret Jin Zhan felt in that moment. He might think of Lin Yixue like that, but her daughter was like a pet at best. How could a pet compare to the life of a relative? What a joke!
However, Jin Zhan still answered Lin Yixue’s plea and sent people to find Jin Xiaoyue. She and her classmates had fallen into the hands of a group of men. Of course, it hadn’t ended well. Her fingers had been trampled until they were all crooked. Her nose was broken and even her vision was affected. One leg had even been crippled, and she had to drag it when she walked. The inhumanities she’d suffered had even muddled her mind. From a good university student, she had turned into an incontinent madwoman.
Scar still refused to let her off the hook. As soon as he got the chance, he finished her off with one stroke of his knife. After that, he took Ben and ran away.
In truth, the reason to retrieve Jin Xiaoyue had been to avenge Jin Feng’s death. But when Jin Zhan saw the condition she was in, he understood that death might actually be a relief for her, so he didn’t do anything.
That was the first time Jin Zhan saw Lin Yixue cry in such an ugly manner. The following days she became even uglier.
Another woman gone mad.
The only woman able to cope in this crazy world must have been Jin Feng, Jin Zhan thought to himself. Why is Lin Yixue, a woman so weak she can’t even kill a cockroach, still alive, while Jin Feng is dead?
Simple. Her own brother had killed her.
“Leader, you still haven’t avenged Xiao Sha!”
The Ice Emperor finally moved. He turned and only said, “Go back.” He glanced at Jin Zhan’s hiding place. His gaze was as dark as an abyss, not a single thing reflected in his eyes, not even the mighty Thunder God.
The woman wiped her tears and struggled to her feet. She had been kneeling for a long time. Even though in these times people were quite fit, her knees were numb.
When she turned, a stranger stood in front of her. She gasped, but could not attack him. Their difference in strength was too large. Under the immense power pressing down on her, even moving was difficult. Yet she wasn’t nervous. She was with the leader. There was no way he would stand by doing nothing while she was in danger!
Jin Zhan said to this woman with eyes puffy from crying, “There is a man called Scar who is not far from here in the southern suburbs. He has some power. Ask the Ice Emperor to take him in.”
The woman froze.
“Make sure not to let Scar die. I, Jin Zhan, will owe you one.”
“Thunder God Jin Zhan?” The woman stared at him.
Though she was astonished, she looked forward and saw that the Ice Emperor had ignored their conversation and was leaving without a word. The woman panicked, afraid that she would be abandoned if she didn’t keep up with him. Quickly, she said, “I will do my best.” She hurried after him.
Jin Zhan looked at the departing figures of the two people, yet he knew that the man was all alone.
I wonder if the Flame King Debert, who is in the top twelve as well, is also just as lonely?
Jin Zhan felt he actually might have some interest in meeting him now.
──Lonely Thunder • End──