Dominion’s End Volume 1: Raining Stars at World’s End
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 8: The Sick Cat Retaliates—translated by Elkin
I went from being trussed up on the bed to being dangled in mid-air above the balcony.
My situation was worsening by the second. Am I really getting a second life in another reality? Has there ever been a reincarnated protagonist who got hit on the head with a tile, got injured by an aberrant, withered into a stick, ate soil, nearly got raped, and was finally hung up on a balcony?
If anyone dared to accuse me of living a good life in the apocalypse in this life, what with plentiful food and shelter and all, I would tell them oh so pleasantly, “Stand here, and I’ll go up to the top floor of Taipei 101 and throw a tile at your head!”
One of the mercenaries in Dàgē’s troop had been discovered lurking nearby, which resulted in me being strung up on the balcony. Personally, I was pretty sure it was Cain intentionally giving himself away. Even if it wasn’t him, I was going to blame him anyway!
The only fortunate thing was that they hadn’t found my ice knife and ice staff. Probably because I was still young and looked absolutely dreadful and pathetic with my illness; not to mention the basement was positively bursting with supplies, that they couldn’t be bothered to do a search of my room. And good thing they hadn’t, otherwise things wouldn’t have been as simple as me getting hung up on this balcony.
Actually, I wasn’t the slightest bit concerned about the rope binding my hands. They had been pretty prudent and had used thick hemp rope to tie me up. This was more than enough to immobilize even the most muscular of mercenaries, much less an ordinary eighteen-year-old kid. It was such a pity that I was their opponent. I could only say, tough luck!
No, actually, I’m the one with the bad luck. I mean, the person being hung up so pitifully here is me.
If not for the fact that they have a machine gun and that Uncle and Auntie are nearby, I would kill them all… No wait, they said they also have grenades as well. Whew, good thing I didn’t do anything rash.
I had no choice but to continue hanging there, waiting for the right time. Actually, the best case scenario would be if Dàgē and the others were to draw away the people over here with a gunfight, because then I could rescue Uncle and Auntie!
Unfortunately, I was also worried about the same thing that Chief Hao was talking about. If both sides started fighting with guns and grenades in earnest, not only would this place be reduced to rubble, even the supplies could be put in danger. Additionally, Dàgē and the others were short on ammunition to start with, and they didn’t seem to have properly trained their abilities. So, even if they won the fight, it would be tough surviving afterwards without guns.
After turning over the possibilities a million times, I still felt that the safest method to get out of the current situation would be to pick them off one by one, so long as I could get them isolated.
Speaking of which, it was such a pity just now that the two women were stopped by Chief Hao, so they weren’t able to haul me off to the next room to rape me.
Chief Hao walked out onto the balcony, but possibly because he was worried that he would get sniped, he stood behind me and shouted out into the open, “Jiang Shutian, I’m warning you, you best stay away from this house and give up on this base. Otherwise, this pretty little brother of yours will get ripped to pieces!”
He pressed a knife against the small of my back, whispering, “Shout and cry like you mean it. ‘Gē, don’t come, they really will kill me. And they’ve got Uncle and Auntie as well.’ You’re not allowed to say anything else. One extra word, and your Uncle will be cheated on by your infidel Auntie.”
At that, fury erupted within me, but I had no choice but to follow his instructions to the T. But I really couldn’t force myself to cry, so I could only put in more emotion while wailing my words. I hope Dàgē won’t get too worked up…
The moment I finished, Chief Hao suddenly grabbed at my hair and jerked my head back. Although my scalp was tearing with pain, I was slow in letting out a scream, mainly because I had temporarily forgotten that my image was of a gentle, powerless pretty boy who was a useless university student. As such, I must not be able to put up with this mild pain without screaming. Hopefully, the slight hesitation had not given me away.
Fortunately, Chief Hao retreated into the house, so it seemed that I hadn’t raised his suspicions.
I created a piece of ice in my mouth and melted it slowly to drink. So far, I hadn’t felt any energy waves that would indicate the mercenaries having abilities. Unless their abilities were much stronger than mine, it was impossible to hide their use of abilities from me. Besides, I’d created ice multiple times, but they’d had no reaction whatsoever.
So, I should be able to strike off abilities from the list of variables to consider. Even if they discovered my abilities, they wouldn’t pose any risk to me.
Now, all I had to do was wait for Dàgē to act. The longer this dragged out, the more supplies they would carry away. I really hoped Dàgē would not act too late in the game, otherwise it’d be troublesome getting back the supplies.
Not knowing how long that would take, I continued to craft pieces of ice to drink. To be honest, I was really very hungry and seriously missed the meals cooked by Shujun. Only being able to drink water to fill my stomach at the moment was torture for me. Hmph, all right, I’ll be sure to get revenge on Chief Hao for that…
“Hao Pansi!” came Dàgē’s distant roar, filled with so much anger that even I was cowed, “Let go of all the hostages right this moment; otherwise you’re not getting out of this alive!”
I almost choked on the piece of ice in my mouth.
H-How pansy? Don’t tell me this was Chief Hao’s name. How could such a tall, big man be called Hao Pansi? Where did his pansy-ness go?!1
Chief Hao walked out again, remarking thoughtfully, “Seems that he values you more than I’d thought.”
Dàgē, you really flipped out! Now the enemy knows everything! That said, I felt a fuzzy warmth in my chest.
Hao Pansi called back, “Jiang Shutian, as long as you promise to abandon this base, your little brother will be just fine.”
“Dàgē, don’t promise him!” I panicked. Although I didn’t have any memories, my gut told me that Jiang Shutian was the kind of guy to go through with his promises no matter what. If he ended up making such a promise, then we really might have to give up on this base.
Having forbidden me to talk, Hao Pansi slammed the butt of his gun against my head. Thankfully, I remembered to let out a cry this time around.
A sudden gunshot rang out, and a bullet hole appeared on the wall behind Hao Pansi, a mere twenty centimeters from him.
“Fuck!” Hao Pansi raised his gun in anger. However, he didn’t lose himself completely, as expected from someone who was a leader, and aimed at my leg instead of my head.
As of the moment, my toes could barely touch the ground. This was to make sure I didn’t have any firm foothold so I couldn’t put up a proper fight. At the same time, I wasn’t dangling completely in the air; otherwise I wouldn’t be able to last long at all.
Probably because I really looked extremely harmless, they didn’t even tie up my feet. Only my hands were bound with the thick hemp rope. Heh, don’t mistake me for a gentle, powerless pretty boy. I’m telling you, only the “pretty boy” part applies to me!
Grabbing onto the thick rope, I flexed my waist, using my core strength to twist in a wide arc mid-air so that I was facing Hao Pansi. Then, I rested one foot against the machine gun he was holding and kicked it against the wall so hard that the wall cracked.
The other foot kicked at his lower jaw. At the same time, a palm-sized ice blade had appeared in my hands. While it wasn’t as sturdy as my ice knife, it was still plenty for cutting the hemp rope!
The rope gave and I landed on my feet, using the momentum to launch myself forward. My opponent, getting kicked in the face, was falling backwards, so I rushed forward, the palm-sized ice blade gliding toward his neck…
But he was able to react in time, as expected from a mercenary. Hao Pansi arched backward, so the strike narrowly missed his neck, but the ice blade still left a deep, red gash across his cheek. If he drank water this very moment, it was highly likely that some would spill from such a deep wound.
Next, I did a backward somersault, yanking out the machine gun that had been embedded in the wall, and fired a sweeping barrage as I walked into the room. All these actions were executed in one continuous flow, without even the slightest delay in between.
While opening fire, I peeked at Uncle and Auntie out of the corner of my eye. They were sitting in the corner, completely forgotten. As expected, mercenaries couldn’t care less about a middle-aged couple.
The whole room was filled with the stuttering of the machine gun, punctuated by one or two cracks of handguns returning fire. Then, complete silence took over. Although I hadn’t used up the ammunition, there weren’t any more targets to attack.
From start to finish, Uncle and Auntie stared at me with wide eyes and hadn’t even had the time to react. The sequence of events just now happened in the span of at most ten seconds or so.
Without any time to spare, I rushed out of the room without even bothering to pick up my ice staff or ice knife. I slammed the door behind me and flung an arm backward. The lock was sealed off with ice, so no one could get into the room to harm Uncle or Auntie.
As for why I dashed off without even bothering to undo Uncle and Auntie’s ropes was because Hao Pansi had escaped. I never imagined that he would be able to get away even in that situation. After crashing to the ground, he immediately ducked and wove through, not intending to fight back in the slightest. He seized the opportunity to grab Fatty as a shield and raced out of the room.
Even though I had fired a dozen odd rounds at him, I couldn’t kill him. But I had to finish off all the other guys as well. Otherwise, they would get the chance to grab Uncle and Auntie, so I had no choice but to let him go.
But I was not planning on letting Hao Pansi get away. Just like he’d said, if you start something, you’ve got to finish it. If I didn’t kill off all the opposition, just having someone remember a grudge would pose a danger to me. Now that I had killed off his mercenaries, it was impossible for him not to hate me—not when he had lost his team in this apocalyptic world.
The moment I exited the room, I caught a glimpse of Hao Pansi’s back. He was already at the very end of the corridor, about to jump down. If he got out of the house, then it would become difficult to find him.
I froze a dozen odd small ice knives out of the air. Just as I was about to fire them at him, the lanky guy came barging out of the room next to me. He stared at me in shock, but didn’t hesitate to open fire with the two guns in his hands. As expected, a mercenary would mercilessly shoot without hesitation.
I immediately flung myself backward, blocking myself with the ice knives. The bullets either whizzed over head or were deflected by the ice knives. Then, I kicked upwards at my opponent’s knee. While he was falling, I sprang up, grabbed one of the ice knives hanging in mid-air and drove it right into his jaw from below.
Something fell from his hand. He was actually able to pull this off in the instant before he died, so his ability was probably speed—shit, it’s a grenade!
Watching that lethal weapon fall onto the floor without its pin, I growled, thrusting both hands out. The air started crackling, and a stream of ice shot out from between my palms straight to the ground, drawing out a river of ice that froze over the grenade.
Cold sweat dripped from my forehead… It didn’t go off, good.
Turning away from the grenade, I rushed to the end of the corridor and hopped onto the railing. I looked down in time to see Hao Pansi just about to exit the house. So I leaped down, sprinted forward then jumped, kicking both feet straight at Hao Pansi’s neck. I wanted to snap it so bad!
Hao Pansi was opening the door at that moment, and he was thrown out through the doors by my running kick. I heard the sound of bones cracking, which should have been enough to kill him, but I had acquired a habit from fighting aberrants for too long—making a killing blow wasn’t enough, you had to make sure your target was ripped to shreds like a scene out of a horror movie!
I landed and planted one foot on his head. Holding up my right hand with all fingers straight, I formed an ice blade with the palm of my hand as the base. Then I severed his neck with one blow and wrung off his head.
Just as I was about to smash it into mush from force of habit, I suddenly remembered that this wasn’t an aberrant, but a human being. He was pretty much dead the moment his head was cut off. With his head severed, he wouldn’t start biting maniacally like an aberrant could.
I didn’t have to re-enact a horror movie.
Breathing a sigh of relief, I looked up to see five or six people standing in front of me, all armed with guns. They were in position, ready to fire at any given moment, but I wasn’t too concerned about that.
“Dàgē.” Holding onto Hao Pansi’s head with one hand, I looked around for a moment but only saw Dàgē and the mercenaries. I asked, “Did you find Junjun?”
“She’s at the back. I didn’t let her come.” Dàgē looked back at me, his expression no different from normal. So it really did seem that Shujun was fine.
I sighed with relief. Good, Shujun is back without a scratch on her, so this incident didn’t result in any major consequences.
I flung Hao Pansi’s head casually to one side before suddenly remembering something important. “Oh shoot, I better help Uncle and Auntie undo their restraints.”
I turned to leave.
For some reason, from behind came the sound of someone swallowing hard.
Everyone headed inside the house, which was littered with corpses. Originally, Dàgē wanted to clean up with his troop before letting Shujun in. But I told him, “Dàgē, Junjun is going to have to face the reality of the apocalypse sooner or later, unless you think we are so strong that we can keep her completely safe from any worry. But neither of us are, so it’s probably easier for her to start small with dealing with corpses than suddenly jumping straight to killing living people.”
Although I really wanted to protect Shujun and shield her from such cruel situations, my past experiences in the apocalypse told me loud and clear that it wasn’t good to live under someone’s wing. Even if Dàgē and I truly cared about her and shielded her from everything, as long as she didn’t have the power to protect herself and her loved ones, she could only be protected to the bitter end. That was even crueler!
Dàgē considered this and nodded, saying, “You’re right, but…” He suddenly reached out to ruffle my hair, sighing, “Dàgē really hoped he could protect you all of your lives.”
“There’s nothing wrong with Dàgē protecting us, but your Dìdì and Mèimei have grown up. Sometimes we want to protect Dàgē too, so give us a chance, Dàgē.”
The corner of Dàgē’s mouth tugged upwards. “So, you’re not angry at me anymore?”
I blinked and replied quietly, “I was never angry, just sad and scared.”
Rather than being pissed off, it would be better to say that I respected and feared and loved and was frightened of him. My feelings toward Dàgē were a jumbled mess, so it was hard to describe it exactly.
“Scared? Of me?” Dàgē looked stunned, and then said quickly, “Shuyu, I really would never hurt you!”
“It’s not that! It’s just, I’m worried, like, you’d think I’m not…” I stopped, but realization dawned on Dàgē’s face.
Actually, I was beginning to feel that even if I wasn’t completely Jiang Shuyu, some part of me was. Otherwise, why would I love Jiang Shuyu’s family so much? But the more I loved Dàgē, Xiaomèi, Uncle, and Auntie, the more I became scared that I would lose them. I was terrified by the idea of them feeling that I wasn’t the Jiang Shuyu they so deeply loved.
“Sorry, Dàgē had promised to believe you no matter what, but I broke my promise. I’m really sorry. It will never happen again.”
Dàgē apologized again and again, almost making me burst into tears again. I could kill people without even batting an eye, no problem. But tears would start springing into my eyes because of just one word, “sorry.” You’re really something, Jiang Shuyu!
I quickly blinked away the tears. There was still the bunch of mercenaries nearby, and we still had to sort out the messed up house.
During the battle just now, I hadn’t actually killed everyone. The two women had also opened the door of the room they were holed up in, but they were so freaked out that they had immediately slammed the door shut again. I had been busy pursuing Hao Pansi, so I couldn’t have cared less about them. Judging from their reactions, those two were probably pathetic beyond hope of redemption.
And they did turn out to be utterly pathetic. They didn’t take the chance to run away while I was still tied up with killing Hao Pansi. They just hid in the room, shaking all the while. I really didn’t know how to best describe these two hopeless cases, and that also made it difficult to know how to deal with these two women.
Zheng Xing scowled, remarking, “They’re just women, and they’re not mercs like Yunqian. They’re probably just the mercenaries’ family members or some people they picked up along the way. It doesn’t seem right to kill them?”
What the hell? What do you mean by “just” women? Women are pretty scary in their own rights, okay? And they’re even more vengeful than men! Just look at me—I blame everything on Cain, and I’m quite petty minded, so much so that you couldn’t find space for forgiveness in me no matter how you tried.
I pointed at the rips in my clothes and the kiss marks that dotted my neck and chest, and reported, “They did this to me.”
“Did they really violate you?” Dàgē suddenly asked.
W-what do you mean by “really violate”…? I flushed, hastily refuting, “No! They just molested me a bit.”
I thought about suggesting at least beating them up. If not, then I’d just have been taken advantage of for nothing! So no way in hell am I… And I watched as Dàgē drew his dagger and slit their throats in one clean stroke, moving coolly like he was just polishing his blade.
I blinked and swallowed the words “beat up” right back down.
“Mm, then we’ll just kill them.”
Er, if not, what were you planning, Dàgē?
Shujun dashed into the house and immediately leapt at me. When she saw what a mess I looked, her eyes reddened, though not in the sense that she wanted to cry, but rather that she was so angry, she was out for blood. I must be seeing things ‘cause I’m too hungry and tired. How could my sweet, good, gentle, little Junjun ever want to kill anyone?
With heavy tones of remorse, she said, “Èrgē, I’m so sorry for what happened. By the time we discovered them, the house was already surrounded, so I could only randomly zap down one guy and run off to find Dàgē so he could fight them. But I never thought they would…”
Her eyes reddened even further.
Um? Shujun was the one who reported to Dàgē?
My expression darkened, and I whipped my head around, asking, “Who was on guard duty today?”
“Me,” Uncle confessed with a look of shame.
Er? Uncle? I was stunned and looked at him in bewilderment. Why on earth was Uncle on guard duty?
Dàgē explained, “We discovered a police station and wanted to search it for ammunition, but there were too many aberrants inside. We didn’t have enough manpower, so we appointed Uncle for guard duty. Uncle and Auntie have been conducting archaeological digs around the world, so they know how to use guns for self-protection against bandits.”
But out of all days, we had to encounter invaders today, who were mercenaries to boot. Uncle and Auntie had no way of holding the fort, and I just happened to be in bed, being miserably sick. Worse still, because I had reconciled with Dàgē the night before, I’d slept exceptionally well, to the point where I had only woken up after I’d been trussed up like a turkey. Seriously, this rotten luck… Are there still any temples I could pray at? This is a really unlucky year!
I held my head in my hands. This Jiang family really did have everything except for good luck! I mean, look at them—the Jiang parents both died and Jiang Shuyu was put into a coma out of the blue by a falling tile. We were in deep shit. If strength was the number one most important thing in the apocalyptic world, then luck was very solidly in second place.
“I never thought you were so strong! It’s kind of scary!”
I turned. Ceng Yunqian shrilled, “It’s so wrong with your looks! Watching a young, handsome lad holding a human head—I thought I was dreaming!”
Cain said with a face full of smiles, “Now that we’ve got Shuyu to help out, it looks like taking down that police station isn’t a problem anymore. Seriously, as expected of Boss’s little bro, like father like son.”
Xiao Sha snapped irritably, “Idiot foreigner. Don’t use idioms randomly. They’re not father and son.”
“That’s just a comparison! A metaphor!” Cain retorted.
Watching the mercenary troop joke around, without even a hint of hostility toward me, I couldn’t help but stare in a daze, unsure of how to react.
“They’re my brothers-in-arms who’ve gone through thick and thin with me. You’ll get to know them soon enough.” Dàgē ruffled my hair, the corner of his mouth twitching upwards. Then, he turned his eyes toward Ceng Yunqian and Lily, who were pretending to sulk, and chuckled, “Yes, even the women are my brothers, okay?”
I remained silent. After ten years of the apocalypse, I had become incredibly petty minded, so much so that you couldn’t find space for forgiveness in me no matter how you tried. It was far too difficult for me to trust people lightly.
“Gē, stop chatting. We need to sort this out quickly.” Shujun looked at the bloody room. Although she wasn’t freaking out, her complexion was still rather pale.
Dàgē and I agreed.
By the time we sorted out the mess that was our house, I was so famished, I could eat a whole elephant. Fortunately, this was when Shujun shouted, “It’s time for dinner!” Junjun’s angelic voice was always a pleasure to listen to, especially when she was calling us to eat.
During dinner, although I was incredibly hungry, I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open. The injury at my waist was hurting again, and I had almost run out of my ability power. This feeling of being on an almost empty gauge was simply unbearable…
I jolted awake, to see everyone looking at me, and quickly asked, “What? Who called me?”
Just now, I was so out of it, I hadn’t even recognized the voice.
Shujun giggled. “Èrgē, you almost buried your nose into your bowl.”
I had almost dozed off. I abashedly looked down at my bowl. Thank god someone woke me up, because what was in the bowl was hot soup.
Dàgē asked, frowning, “Shuyu, are you okay?”
“I’m just sleepy,” I replied honestly. “I’ve just recovered from my illness, and I used up too much of my ability today, so I’m a bit tired.”
Although the combat time was short today, I had let out all my powers in one explosive burst, so it was no way any easier than taking my time in hunting down aberrants.
“Then, eat and go to bed.” Dàgē paused here, thinking over something, then added, “Go wash up in your room. Once I’ve healed your wounds, go sleep.”
I nodded. Actually, I was almost done with my meal. After finishing the remaining few gulps of soup, I informed everyone that I was heading back to my room.
Strangely enough, everyone watched after me with yearning expressions. Why? I felt unsettled. Previously, I was practically as invisible as air at the dining table. Because I’d felt like I was sticking out like a sore thumb, I’d always eaten as fast as I could and left the dining table.
When back in my room, I simply wiped myself down and waited for Dàgē to come heal me. I hadn’t gotten too much blood on myself, because one of the specialties of ice abilities was that it would freeze over the enemy’s wounds and stop them from bleeding too much. Though, actually, this was more of a disadvantage, since I was helping to stop my enemies from bleeding out!
I took a peek under the bandages that were wrapped around my waist, and noticed that the wound had already scabbed over. But probably because of the intense action today, parts of the scabs had been ripped open and had started oozing blood again.
Dàgē walked in. The moment he saw my injuries, his brows immediately knitted together. But he didn’t say anything, and just walked up to heal me. The warmth felt very comfortable, and I had to keep pinching myself to stop myself from drifting off during the healing process.
After healing me, Dàgē wrapped up my wounds again, then suddenly said, “Shuyu, why don’t you come sleep with me? This room’s in bad condition.”
Of course it wasn’t in good shape—everything was riddled with bullet holes and a bunch of people had died here too. But seeing as I was the one who had done this with a machine gun, I couldn’t really complain. Still, sleeping in a honeycombed room was better than sleeping with Dàgē!
Sleeping with Dàgē every night simply presented too much temptation to me. I worried that just the nose bleeds from getting turned on would make me anemic!
I shook my head hard.
“Why? Do you still not trust Dàgē?”
Seeing Dàgē’s expression become more downhearted, I could only admit honestly, “Dàgē, you remember that I was a woman in my past life, right?”
Looking a little stunned, he asked, “And it’s affecting you a lot?”
“More than a little.” I could only respond this way. I mean, it wasn’t just “more than a little;” I was 100% Guan Weijun!
Dàgē pondered a little and asked, “So you don’t want to sleep with me because I’m a man? You like men?”
This question hit the bullseye! I’d never dreamed in my past life that I would experience such embarrassing things as being the younger brother who was confessing to his older brother that he liked guys. I responded with a grimace, “I’m not sure.”
I really had no idea which gender I preferred. Although I was occasionally tempted by Dàgē, whenever Mèimei leapt into my arms, that soft, fragrant body of hers also shook me to my very core. I was such a lowlife!
Jiang Shuyu, you bastard, stop being such a sis-con!
But then again, Jiang Shuyu probably really wanted to rage at Guan Weijun to stop drooling after his older brother.
“It’s fine, don’t worry too much,” Dàgē said as he ruffled my hair, “This kind of stuff isn’t a big deal. Yunqian also likes women.”
…Don’t suddenly say stuff like this out of the blue! Dàgē, you’ve shocked your Dìdì!
“You’ll be fine as long as you know what you want.”
I know I want to do my Dàgē and marry my Xiaomèi, so like hell that’s fine!
“If you don’t want to share a room with me, why don’t you go to Shujun’s room to sleep? This room still smells of blood, so you shouldn’t sleep here. At least wait until the smell’s gone before coming back here.”
“It’s really okay. The smell doesn’t bother me.” I hesitated and then reminded him gently, “Gē, I’ve lived ten years in the apocalypse, so I’m not a gentle little eighteen year-old.”
Dàgē looked at me, and then suddenly snorted. He said in an amused voice, “So you’re such a bad boy that you would sneak out in the middle of the night to hunt for evolution crystals for your entire family to eat? Which I then poured away?”
I replied awkwardly, “Well, it’s not the same for family.”
He smiled as he ruffled my hair. Why does he keep doing that? I was eighteen already and he still kept ruffling it. By now, my hair had reached my shoulders, not to mention my hair was thick and stiff, so the moment he ruffled it, it would poof up into a messy bird’s nest.
“If it doesn’t bother you, then go sleep. Rest a few days, and once you’re better, come with us. Don’t go hunting aberrants by yourself anymore. Dàgē worries about you.”
Hearing that, I frowned a little. I decided to come clean with Dàgē and explain about the situation with the mercenaries.
“Dàgē, I don’t want to go with the mercs.” I said calmly, “I don’t like them.”
“Why not?” Dàgē didn’t seem surprised. Then again, I had been pretty obvious about it.
“They don’t like me.”
This line came out like a kid’s whining. I flushed a little. I was already thirty-five years old, and I was still whining to Dàgē. And what was worse was that Dàgē was only twenty-seven! It was plenty shameful, whining to someone younger than me. Fortunately, Jiang Shuyu’s appearance was of an eighteen year old’s, otherwise it would be really disgusting, right?
Dàgē replied, puzzled, “Don’t like you? Who said so?”
Do I really need someone to spell it out for me? I laid out my reasoning, “They must be angry and hate me for hiding the stuff about evolution crystals.”
“Of course they would be angry that you took all the loot for yourself, but you’re only an eighteen year old kid. It’s not like they’d be angry at you forever. And besides, everyone was able to get a fair amount of evolution crystals afterwards, so they wouldn’t really hold a grudge against you for that.”
I snapped back in anger, “If they didn’t hold a grudge, why would they refuse to share the crystals with you? And they even said that they would deduct your portion against what I took, so what am I supposed to make of that?”
If Shujun hadn’t told me, and Dàgē had slowed down behind the others in terms of powering up, how could he still lead with strength less than theirs? It was likely that someone would rebel, wanting to take over Dàgē’s place, and I would never allow that to happen!
“That was what I proposed,” Dàgē replied, frowning. “Shuyu, they’re my brothers. Ever since I ran the JDT, I’ve never let my brothers down. That was the loot from battles that they risked their lives in, so it should have gone to them in the first place.”
I exclaimed, “And if they became stronger than you in the future? What then?”
“They’re already stronger than me.”
Dàgē responded, completely stunning me. Dàgē clapped his hands to my shoulders, speaking in utmost seriousness, “Shuyu, a mercenary troop is all about teamwork, and not individual strength. Ceng Yunqian’s marksmanship is better than mine, Xiao Sha’s subterfuge skills are better than mine, Zheng Xing’s medical skills—“
“I was talking about combat strength!” I forcefully cut in. If he went on, he’d probably keep comparing to the point where he’d be talking about how Lily’s chest was bigger than his.
Dàgē said in equal parts good humor and amusement, “So marksmanship isn’t combat power?”
Not… in the future.
“Cain could probably win in a fight against me.” Dàgē admitted, “I may be better at unarmed combat, but the moment he gets his hands on nunchucks, I might be the one who’d lose.”
Cain’s so strong? I started to become warier.
“Shuyu, there are no weaklings in my mercenary troop. What’s the point of gathering people who are weaker than me in everything?”
Dàgē declared proudly, “My Jiang Dominion Troop will only take in the strongest!”
Only take in the strongest…
I gaped blankly at Dàgē, who didn’t seem the slightest bit worried that someone would be more powerful than him. The only thing I could think of was, why hadn’t anyone like this appeared in my previous life?
Could this be a so-called “leader’s charisma?”
In the past, “he” too was a leader of a group, and over half the evolution crystals the group got went straight into his belly. Especially for us women, almost all the evolution crystals we got went to him. It got to the point where sometimes, I felt like I was a mother raising a child rather than his girlfriend.
He would also go through pleasantries like “You are my good brothers,” and what not, especially when recruiting useful new blood. He acted like he was all for justice and righteousness, like he would really sacrifice himself for others. But I knew all too well that he wasn’t the kind of person who would allow anyone in his group to be more powerful than him, the leader.
By taking away half of people’s evolution crystals in the name of supporting the group, together with this group of idiot women feeding him, no one would ever become stronger than him.
Even though I hated him, I had followed in his footsteps, with my petty-mindedness narrower than a needle’s eye, as I refused to allow anyone to be stronger than me.
Dàgē continued speaking, “Shuyu, the ones who followed me were all those who believed me when I told them that the apocalypse was coming.”
Belief and trust… I remained silent. I too had once trusted people, but the price was giving up my life after ten painful years of living, and this lesson was deeply etched into my heart.
“Don’t stay cooped up in your room forever, and don’t leave just like that once you’re done eating without even saying a single word. Try getting along with them, okay?”
Seeing Dàgē’s hopeful and worried expression, I once again thought back to the “him” in my memories.
These two people were really very different.
Then, should I also be different too?
1 “Hao Pansi”: Originally 郝思文(Hǎo Sīwén), his name is a pun on “好斯文(hǎo sīwén)” which means “very gentle/cultured.” His name is one big pun and thus was translated as a pun.