Dominion’s End Volume 3: Ice-Bound Splendor and Majesty
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 8: The Three-Forked Road, Part One—translated by Elkin & Raylight (proofread by Arcedemius & Trespasserby; C/E edited by lucathia)
Weary and wounded, we made our way back up to the refugee camp in single file. Along the way, we even encountered Wu Yaojin. The moment we ran into him, every soldier rushed at him, thirsting for blood and vengeance. As for me, I didn’t feel it necessary to stop them.
Everyone had dark expressions on their faces after we did a count just now. The number of survivors after all the deaths and injuries had been whittled down to just under a third. The greatest shock was the deaths of the Lieutenant and Guo Hong. Their lives were lost in the aberrant ambush led by Asura and not even their corpses were spared. Given the circumstances, could you really blame the soldiers for wanting to rip apart the researchers?
“If you kill me, you’re going to run into trouble two days down the line,” Wu Yaojin analyzed the situation extremely calmly despite the fact that his life was in danger. “In the past, we relied on Maternibaby to keep the aberrants from the refugee camp. But now that it’s not around anymore…”
He had actually adopted the term “aberrant.” With that, this new vocabulary might become commonplace even faster.
Ah Nuo’s face immediately darkened and he asked gravely, “So those monsters are gonna come?”
Wu Yaojin nodded.
The soldiers’ expressions became grimmer, with what seemed to be a tinge of resignation mixed in.
I quickly asked, “So since you’re saying ‘killing you will bring trouble,’ you’re saying that you have some way to fix this, right?”
“Yup.” Wu Yaojin gazed evenly at everyone but didn’t tell us the solution. It was obvious that he was going to use it as a bargaining chip to protect his own life. He was keeping his lips tightly sealed.
I looked down at Jiang Xiaotian, wondering if he had any ideas. But he didn’t seem to care and instead said, “Let’s head up. Thirteen is probably heading east, since his main camp was established there. Then again, there’s no guarantee that he went over to that city directly, or there might be some delay in between.”
Eastwards…? I blanched. Dàgē’s route was also eastwards, and I vaguely remembered the aberrants’ main camp being in a large metropolis. Don’t tell me it’s Lan City?!
Seeing my abrupt change in expression, Jiang Xiaotian shot me a look of bewilderment, but before I even needed to explain myself, he quickly figured it out himself, and his expression also changed to one of alarm. He blurted out, “Shujun’s in danger!”
Technically speaking, it didn’t pose an immediate danger to them. Dàgē and the others were planning to set up camp in the old town near Lan City rather than in Lan City itself. Furthermore, the world was a big place, so what was the probability of running into—Wait a second, with the Jiang family’s rotten luck, it’s hard to say! I mean, I bumped into Thirteen myself!
We’d better go soon. I started worrying.
At this moment, Chen Yanqing suddenly took a few steps toward me, with a look of unease on his face. It was almost like a man who was deeply terrified of being abandoned by his wife… No wait, I mean, just like, just like—I really don’t know a better way to describe it!
But I could understand his unease. In my previous life, there were many who wanted to stay with the strong. Even a small-fry like Xia Zhengu had quite a few followers. Everyone had simply run out of options, and survival in the face of aberrants, hunger, and drastic climate changes had become incredibly difficult. Walking in the shadow of someone strong gave that little bit of security in life, and people were willing to sell themselves and even their children to get that security.
From the way Jiang Xiaotian and I acted, it was like we were masters who knew everything, so who would want to give up the chance to tag along with such people? Although Chen Yanqing was already very clingy to begin with…
But Wu Yaojin dodged behind me and gripped my shoulder tightly before saying, “Promise that you won’t kill me, and then I’ll fix this situation for you.”
The soldiers’ thirst for blood became even stronger, and even I didn’t have any inclination of saving him. What kind of idiot thinks that hiding behind me will help?
I tore his hand off me and sidestepped to let him face the fury of the soldiers.
Wu Yaojin sighed and remarked, “Killing me will be nothing but a loss to you. Although it seems like the current world favors those with physical power, you will still need to rely on truth seekers like me to figure out problems. Surely you don’t want to be forever living in fear of aberrants?”
The soldiers were dead silent. I could sympathize with them. Although some people became obsessed with power and the apocalyptic world was probably more exciting than the days of the past, the vast majority of people just wanted to return to the old times, when even the weak could survive, rather than this kind of exciting life where slipping up even a little bit could mean death.
But why did the world suddenly become like this? Was the red meteor shower a coincidence or one of the causes? What on earth was the black fog that would visit every year without fail?
What on earth happened in the tenth year of the apocalypse, the very year I died?
I recalled there was a big commotion and there were great booms and explosions that filled the world… What was with that? My memory of that time was a bit foggy—I only remembered everyone fleeing for their lives, and the thing that was hot on their heels seemed intent on annihilating everyone.
I had chosen a direction and led a few people I was close to along the paths with no enemies, but in the end, the bastard Xia Zhengu caught up with us. Not only did he draw the danger to us, he even attacked us just to slow down the enemy. He shoved at me and sent me flying back a fair bit, and when I looked up, there was a swarm… of insect-like aberrants… Ugh!
“Shuyu, what’s wrong?”
Gripping my head, I looked up to see Xiaotian gazing at me with worry.
“Just a headache, probably thanks to whatever Thirteen did to me.”
I probably needed to question Jiang Xiaotian about the apocalyptic world ten years in the future once we were free from these soldiers. He probably knew about the commotion, unless his time travel happened earlier than Guan Weijun’s death. But that probably isn’t the case? At least I hadn’t heard of any of the elite dying back then.
While the soldiers were still being indecisive, Ah Nuo spoke, “We won’t touch you. But you better do what you need to do fast. We don’t know what the situation is like up there. If the refugee camp’s gone, you’ll be useless, and you sure won’t have any say in how you die then!”
I nodded. He was right. Without the refugee camp, all Ah Nuo and the others needed to do was just leave this place, and there wouldn’t be any more worrying about whether the aberrants would invade. Then again, if he really had a way to keep the aberrants away, everyone would want to get their hands on it! I wanted it too. It would be such a waste to destroy it!
“It’s the blood extracted from Maternibaby. With it, lasting several weeks wouldn’t be an issue. As for what comes after that, we’ll have to wait and see how to deal with it. Hopefully the research center will send help within this time frame.”
Ah Nuo impatiently butted in, “Then hurry up and get it!”
Wu Yaojin shook his head and declared, “I already took some beforehand. We can go.”
“…” All the soldiers and I felt an impulse to viciously beat him to death.
When we returned to the military zone once more, the scene was a chaotic mess. The few surviving soldiers were completely unable to control the situation. I heard from them that when Thirteen had come out, the aberrants had easily captured a few people, probably as rations to eat on the way. Even the desperate gunfire from the military was not enough to stop them because the two armored bears had managed to block all of the bullets, terrifying the soldiers to the point they thought they were goners. However, the aberrants had left without a second thought, all while clutching large quantities of “food.”
“You’re saying that the group of aberrants just left toward the south? You’re certain of this?”
I questioned the soldier in front of me in detail, afraid he had made a mistake. I mean, wouldn’t Thirteen head east to go man his main camp? What would he want to go south for?
The soldier nodded his head vigorously and pointed in that direction as he said, “If you don’t believe me, go take a look. The footprints and mucus are still there. Nobody has even dared to touch them.”
Jiang Xiaotian actually did run over to take a look. I was planning to join him, until the other soldiers started reporting to Ah Nuo, and I decided I would rather listen in. Moreover, Chen Yanqing—No, not just him, several others besides him were also looking at me with worship. If I were to run over now, I might be bringing an entire group with me, mobilizing way too many troops. It’s best if Jiang Xiaotian goes there on his own.
Speaking of which, is this a flag to start my own harem? I don’t want to become the second Xia Zhengu, thanks. All of you should just scram!
The soldier reported, “Many people have escaped, but I believe they should still be around the premises. After all, they don’t have anywhere to go to. Once the military zone settles down, they should come back.”
They might as well not come back!
First of all, it increased food consumption. Second, since there’d been a large decrease in the number of soldiers, if they had to spare a few people to go scavenge for resources in the city, the rest of them probably couldn’t control the masses of civilians. At that point, it wouldn’t be odd if people started fighting over food and firearms, and even started murdering others.
Don’t ever underestimate civilians. When your hunger reaches the limit, your humanity would also be eaten away to nothing.
Ah Nuo obviously knew that too. His brows were knitted tightly. He was deep in thought. However, in the next second when he looked up and saw me, his brows relaxed, as though I could fix it all.
… Is this the start of taking an army under my wing?
I raised my head and looked over. The cute little Jiang Xiaotian dashed over, gleefully informing me, “Shuyu, let’s hurry! Thirteen doesn’t have any more strength to control those aberrants. That’s why he left so simply. Seeing the way the footprints are scattered around, he must have let those aberrants go free. At most, he will only have Asura and Maternibaby with him, but both are heavily injured, especially Maternibaby. They’ll only hold him back. Also, Maternibaby left a scent trail and tons of body fluid, so tracking them won’t be an issue.”
This is really a one in a thousand chance, even better than when we were in the research center! If we could do away with Thirteen here, wouldn’t the plight of humans improve for the better?
“Okay.” I nodded and spoke, “Let’s go.”
Chen Yanqing’s expression immediately changed as he shouted, “Wait—”
I snapped back my head and asserted, “I have to go after him! The leader of the aberrants just now is really something. If we leave him alive, it’s going to spell a catastrophe for mankind!”
Before Chen Yanqing could say anything, Ah Nuo interjected, “Since just now, I have been hearing this kid and you talk about something I don’t get. But it looks like you two do know something. If that’s so, we can’t neglect a bigger problem for the sake of fixing smaller ones. Ah Qing, don’t try to stop them anymore. Bigger problems are at hand, so we should let them go.”
Chen Yanqing turned red in the face, as he stammered, “I-I just wanted to say, that professor from the research center is gone.”
Ah Nuo’s face changed and he instantly glanced around, but there was no trace of Wu Yaojin to be found. He raged, “Damn it!”
“Didn’t we already agree not to kill him? Why did he still make a run for it?” I was deeply shocked at this. All of us knew that it was not a good time to be running away right now. With this many aberrants outside, running around on your own was like asking to be food for the aberrants. That’s why the thought that Wu Yaojin might run away had never even crossed my mind.
“Everyone, go look for him!” ordered Ah Nuo. Afterwards, he paced around furiously, as he roared, “That guy must have nothing on him that can stop the aberrants coming. He was just fooling us!”
“He probably does have something, or his escape would just mean he’s marching to his death.” Jiang Xiaotian thought for a moment and said, “Most likely he is unable to use it on the entire camp, or he would have chosen to stay. Moreover, the MORC might have an emergency shelter, since they were working on such dangerous experiments. After all, accidents do occur easily. They can overlook the research center getting destroyed, but even losing one researcher would hurt them, especially if they were one of the few leading the experiment. They can’t afford to lose them, so the MORC must have left them an escape route.”
Ah Nuo seemed to have suddenly recalled something and said, “There were orders from the higher-ups before, that if anything were to happen, we must protect Professor Wu as well as follow his instructions.”
I nodded and added on, “Wu Yaojin said that Professor Wu was his brother. So it wouldn’t be odd at all if he also knew where the ‘escape route’ is. Chances are that he headed over by himself.”
Chen Yanqing spoke in confusion, “Then, why didn’t he tell us? We could have escorted him over. It’s still miles safer than running over on his own.”
Jiang Xiaotian indifferently stated, “First, he would be worried that you all still hold a grudge against him, and would attempt to kill him once we’ve reached a safe and secure place. The second reason is just my speculation, but that ‘escape route’ probably can’t hold too many people. Putting aside the issue whether you all can fit in, it definitely would not be able to contain all of those civilians outside. Probably, he didn’t want to wait around while you all struggled to decide matters, so he simply made a run for it.”
“That freaking bastard!” Ah Nuo roared. “We should have just killed him!”
No use crying over spilled milk! Hurry and think of what to do, because there’s a few thousand people gathered here practically screaming to become a food haven for the aberrants! Sooner or later we’ll be wiped clean….
Jiang Xiaotian grabbed my hand and said, “Let’s quickly head out and catch up to Thirteen. After we deal with him, then you can go home. I’m a little worried that Thirteen will know how to hide his trail. At the very least, he wouldn’t let Maternibaby drip blood the entire way to form a blood trail. By then, it will be difficult to locate them.”
Hearing that, I took a deep breath, and did my best to suppress the urge to go home. In my heart, I chanted repeatedly, “As long as I finish this, I will be able to see Dàgē and Xiǎomèi.” Yes, there is no need to hurry. I’m just giving chase and busting in three heads. It’ll take no time at all.
What Jiang Xiaotian said was right. The longer I delayed now, the more time I would have to spend later looking for Thirteen. Probably double, or even several dozen times, the amount of time? I should have given chase immediately. Who knows, I might have already busted Thirteen’s brains out by now. What a mistake!
Thinking of that, I instantly turned to leave.
“Xiao Yu!” Chen Yanqing shouted anxiously.
Turning back, all of the military soldiers were looking at me, as though in disbelief that I could just up and go like that.
I gave a sigh. It’s not easy to be a master…
“Since there’s no way to prevent the aberrants from attacking, it’s best if you all evacuate the civilians and then run away. It’s definitely not a good thing to have so many people gathered in one place.”
Ah Nuo growled in disbelief, “Evacuate to where? All of them will die!”
That was true. Ah Nuo and the others at least had some military strength. However, the civilians outside had nothing to protect themselves with, and the large city beside them wasn’t somewhere that they could enter. Having no resources was pretty much equivalent to death. Moreover, even if they headed toward the smaller cities, there would be few who could survive the trip.
“Are you going to just watch as several thousand die in front of you?”
Several thousand? I felt so angry to the point it was laughable. The number of people that I have watched die in front of me in my life is a hell of a lot more than this!
“The aberrant that I’m about to give chase to is called Thirteen. Years later, he will become a very strong aberrant. The human deaths that he’s directly or indirectly involved in will be well above ten thousand, and that’s just a minimum estimate!”
All who were present at the scene had their eyes wide open in shock. They were probably shocked by the sheer numbers. However, it seemed like doubt filled their minds.
Ah Nuo hesitated for a short moment, before he questioned, “How would you know about something that happens years later?”
“Didn’t you mention just now that I know some stuff that you all don’t?” Impatiently, I continued, “Our Xiaotian can foresee many things.”