Dominion’s End Volume 3: Ice-Bound Splendor and Majesty
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 9: Truth, Part One—translated by Michimochi (proofread by Lala Su; C/E edited by lucathia)
With the motorcycle, tracking them down was a lot easier. Even though Jiang Xiaotian felt I was wishy washy, Thirteen didn’t seem to be a decisive guy either. His footprints revealed that his speed going forward was not that quick. This could also be because he was being dragged down by Asura and Maternibaby, who were both wounded.
I searched for hours. The beginning went pretty smoothly, but the later tracks were faint. Maternibaby had also stopped bleeding, becoming harder to track. It was going to be night soon. I had no choice but to slow down my motorcycle, in order to avoid skipping over any key clues. Luckily, because of this, I discovered a glow in the woods.
I hesitated before stopping the motorcycle. The aberrants of today shouldn’t be able to start a fire. Although they aren’t afraid of fire, they wouldn’t need to start a fire. Most of the time, a human would still be the one starting a fire, especially since it’s getting colder and colder. Even if it’s dangerous, they still have to have some fire, or else they are so cold that they can’t even sleep.
“It shouldn’t be them, right?” I turned to look at Jiang Xiaotian, who was sitting behind me.
“Hard to say. Thirteen seems to possess quite a few human characteristics still. It’s quite strange. So even if he is able to start a fire, it wouldn’t be that shocking.”
Hearing this, I decided to take a look after all. I parked the motorcycle on the side, grabbed Jiang Xiaotian, and entered the woods.
Jiang Xiaotian glanced at the motorcycle and said, “Your regard for your motorcycle only came this far, despite how much you loved it.”
Don’t tell me that I should send it off reluctantly? I rolled my eyes at Jiang Xiaotian.
As I walked in the woods, I was extra careful, though I questioned if this kind of action was useful or not. Psychic-type aberrants were always hell, especially the king of aberrants having a psychic ability. This was practically evil. Who knows if he has whatever kind of eye or not. Aren’t all mangas drawn like this? Big brother’s watchful eyes, glazed over eyes, and Sharingans, etc.
I’m obviously thinking too much. I haven’t spotted any abnormalities so far. From far away, in the gaps between the tree trunks, I could see Pork Ball and Bamboo Sticks—I meant to say, Maternibaby and Asura.
Turning a bit, I saw an office worker about to burst his liver. Ah, it’s Thirteen.
I couldn’t resist wiping off cold sweat. How can these aberrants, who will be as horrifying as hell in the future, look so funny right now?
There were some people lying on the ground. I hid in the shadows, carefully observing those people. There were only six of them, entangled by the baby arms and legs extending from Maternibaby’s belly. With them on the ground like that, I couldn’t tell if they were sleeping or just passed out. I couldn’t help but feel there was something wrong. Wait, they’re all men!
Is the meat of men more delicious? I never heard of aberrants preferring to eat men, but the main point is: where’s Beibei? It can’t be that she has already…
At this moment, Maternibaby suddenly dragged one of them to her side. She raised the other’s leg and was about to chomp down on it.
Suddenly, there was a soft cry. This clear and tender sound absolutely couldn’t possibly be Maternibaby’s normal voice; or else, I would regurgitate all that chicken soup that I had been eating in the apocalypse.
“Go eat over there,” said Thirteen flatly.
Maternibaby looked at Thirteen. Her face paled even more. Don’t know if I’m hallucinating. She looks like an aggrieved mistress. It’s just that this mistress is dragging six large men into the forest to the side. Then, Asura stood up and followed her.
It was exactly a family of three: Mom’s table manners were horrible, so she was kicked out by Dad. The son rushed to console the mom… Hold it! My imagination is too wild. Asura probably just wants a leg all to himself!
“Don’t be afraid.”
Alone, Thirteen suddenly spoke. I looked over doubtfully. Only then did I discover a tiny silhouette.
My eyes opened wide. She was actually sitting in Thirteen’s arms. Since Thirteen was wearing a white lab coat from the lab’s doctors, and it was also night with shadows from the campfire, I had completely missed her presence.
Beibei completely shrank within Thirteen’s embrace. She occasionally stole glances with a panicked face in the direction Asura and Maternibaby had left in.
I pushed down the impulse of wanting to save the little girl right away. The first target should not be Thirteen, but Asura and Maternibaby. Although both aberrants were injured, aberrants were tough beings. If they went all out, they could cause great damage. I can’t risk it.
On top of that, I could rescue six others.
Can’t delay any longer, or else someone is going to miss a leg. I don’t want to be Mother Teresa, but I can’t just stand by and do nothing if I can save someone just by taking action earlier. I immediately sneaked up to the two aberrants. They had crouched down, and each was pulling on a leg, about to tear that person apart.
I clenched the ice spear. After a period of rest, I’ve pretty much recovered my power. Although I can’t say I’m at 100%, I’m at least at 90%. Let’s take care of Asura first, this battle oriented aberrant!
Just before Asura went ahead to bite at that person’s femoral artery, I glided over, charging out from the shadows. I stabbed right into the side of his body. This is usually the least protected area.
Sure enough, despite the fact that the ice spear was not tough enough, it could still puncture it, and I did just that. If the other one had not butt in, piercing right through Asura would not have been impossible.
The body of the ice spear was entangled with many hands: teeny hands and skinny, long arms, a stretched version of small, baby hands, which looked soft and weak, but in reality they were quite powerful, plus they were numerous. Even I could not pierce through them. Immediately, I slashed out horizontally and wounded him as much as I could.
Asura let out a cry of pain. A slit spread down a third of his chest. Blood spurted freely. He glared hatefully at me but couldn’t get up.
Maternibaby let out piercing cry. The babies’ hands, feet, and head, which were entangled in the belly, all shot out. The arms flailed in the air. If you got caught by those, you’d be torn into pieces at the very least. As for the feet, they all extended to the ground and supported Maternibaby. She advanced forward just like caterpillar, yet she was quite fast.
So this was how Maternibaby moved about. I had doubted that those two toothpicks could support that meatball figure. No matter how I saw it, I didn’t feel she could move easily. In the apocalyptic world, how could she survive ten years into the apocalypse if she couldn’t even walk properly?
Apparently, the gal had plenty of legs. There was no need to worry at all.
I slashed away the tiny herd of arms pouncing at me. Those long, skinny arms were weird though, as if they simply did not have any bones. They felt more like tentacles.
It’s gonna be annoying now. My ice spear is not suitable for chopping, and my dagger is too short. If I get too close, these densely packed hands are going to be hard to defend against.
I successively retreated a few steps, dodging the attacking herd of hands. I circled around, whimsically wanting to see if the opponent’s hands would get tangled, and she’d finish herself off, tying herself into a dead knot! But I was obviously too foolish. How stupid would someone have to be to get their hands tangled up? Who has seen people knot their own hands and feet together?
Pain suddenly shot through my head. I swung my head to look over.
Thirteen had arrived.
A sudden blast of pain through my head almost scared the heck out of me. If he uses psychic powers, how am I supposed to defend against that?
“Shuyu, go and deal with Thirteen. Calm down. Even if he has psychic powers, as long as you’re on guard, he can’t easily get the better of you!”
Yeah. Don’t panic. If psychic types really were this powerful, then the future top-tier elites should all have been psychic types.
I just never had a chance to face rare, psychic type aberrants in battle in my previous life. The unfamiliarity would inevitably cause panic.
But if I’m fighting Thirteen, what about Maternibaby?
Thirteen didn’t give me any time to think. He shouted “Asura, leave.” Asura’s long arms snatched a person, and he left hastily, half running, half crawling. He even dripped an entire floor of blood and yowled several times in pain.
I felt bad about the person getting dragged away, but this was no time for my saint complex to kick in. Out of the three aberrants, I had only taken care of one. I myself was sandwiched by two of them. I didn’t have the spare energy to save anyone. The biggest problem now is, can I defeat Thirteen and Maternibaby at the same time?
“Shuyu, go block Thirteen.”
At this moment, I finally understood what Jiang Xiaotian meant. He wants to deal with Maternibaby himself!
“No!” You can’t use your powers. When you helped me level up, you burned yourself out like that. If you take part in this battle, what will happen now? Over my dead body!
Jiang Xiaotian said in a stern voice, “Don’t be arrogant. If you can defeat Thirteen, that’s already a win, but don’t gamble for more. If you lose, I still have to take over and would end up facing two aberrants!”
I froze. Damn it! I’m still not strong enough. If I could take care of two aberrants myself, Dàgē wouldn’t need to do anything!
Blitzkrieg strategy! Gotta finish Thirteen before Jiang Xiaotian has any time to make a move!
I raised my ice spear and formed ice boots. The ice spear wasn’t useful against Maternibaby, but now that my opponent was Thirteen, there should be no problem. Since the opponent had a human form and didn’t have specially reinforced skin, I only needed to pay extra heed to that thick, sturdy tail. It looked a lot stronger than those legs of his. My bones would break if I got caught by that.
Thirteen roared. His face transformed again, his brow bones lifting higher. His entire person went from a liver bursting office worker to a spitfire evil boss.
I froze the whole ground to ice, but not too thick a layer to avoid using too much energy, just enough for easier gliding. In the meantime, I hoped it would also affect Thirteen’s movement, since the ice was cold and slippery. An aberrant that was not resistant to the cold really would be affected.
Thirteen bared his teeth, looking pissed. He stretched his hands up, and crackling noises from popping bones sounded. The transformation started from the joints. Sphere after sphere popped out, like small balls; from the arms to the fingers, all had exploded in length, extending his arms by a fold.
This transformation was not limited to his two arms. His two legs were transforming in the same way. Seeing as the opponent would soon to have four big claws, I plunged straight ahead, stabbing forward with my spear.
Waiting for you to finish transforming, do you take me for a fool? Of course I’ll stab you while you don’t have any hands!
Too bad, it was not as if he really didn’t have any hands. Although those two humongous claws hadn’t finished morphing, that did not hinder his attack. He struck with a claw, almost sending my ice spear flying. He even has more power than I do. This really pisses me off. He’s a psychic-type, yet he has this much strength. This is as illogical as mages swinging their staffs to knock out warriors!
No wonder Thirteen was a top-tier elite. He was so powerful that he could count as an otherworldly creature.
Luckily, I’m more or less also an “otherworldly creature.” I wielded the ice spear with vigor: piercing, stabbing, striking, swinging, and, occasionally, feinting. I also mixed in some kicking. Ice blades were attached to the bottom of my feet. Although they weren’t strong, Thirteen did not seem that durable either. At least, they could nick him with no problem.
Attack after attack left him dazed, unable to distinguish between actual attacks and feints. At times, when I was actually attacking, he would be unable to block the attack. The tip of the spear touched his body before he frantically attacked the body of the spear, and only then did he prevent it from piercing through him.
Sometimes, they were feints, yet he thought they were real attacks. I would immediately retreat after tapping him, letting his strength propel him forward. Plus, the floor was an ice rink, almost causing him to fall flat on his face.
The injuries on Thirteen’s body increased by many folds after just a few exchanges between us. He hastily retreated, wanting to pull away. This guy was completely unable to block moves that were feints or ambushes; moreover, he didn’t have a strong enough exterior that he could disregard them.
I’m in luck. The Thirteen of this time really wasn’t a battle oriented aberrant. At most, his strength is just a bit higher. No wonder he had kept two armored bears by his side at the lab. He needed them to block the bullets for him!
At this moment, a sudden stinging pain hit my head. He couldn’t win physically, so he was attacking with his psychic powers now.
I immediately glided across, not giving him any more chances to strike. I then executed another string of attacks, only these were far sharper. Those a moment ago were just a test. Now that I pretty much got a sense of the other’s capability, I don’t need to continue probing. Finishing this lightning fast is what I really need. I still have to take over the fight with Maternibaby!
Thirteen had no other choice but to take on these strikes. Although piercing pain seized my head in waves, it was not as if I couldn’t tolerate them. Not giving Thirteen any opportunities to be distracted, he seemed unable to hurt me to the point of fainting like before, or it could be that I was prepared for it. Therefore, I wasn’t as affected by this as I was before.
As this moment, thanks to a feint, Thirteen all of a sudden lost his balance and fell. I hastily rushed forward to put him out of his misery. But in the end, I was too impatient. He abruptly slapped his hand on the ground and kicked upwards with his head down to knock the spear astray. Then, he seized the opportunity to kick downwards from the upper-left side of my head. If that huge clawed foot hit me, my face would probably crack into fours.
I retreated a step but was a little too late, my thigh getting caught by that clawed foot. A shock of acute pain seized me. Luckily, that kick had not hit me full on. My bones should still be fine; it was just that the sharp claw had left several deep gashes across my thigh. Blood immediately stained my pants.
After all this fighting, the opponent has a pile of minor injuries, which don’t look pleasant. On the other hand, I’ve only gotten hit a few times, with the most serious wound on my thigh, yet it hurts a fucking ton.
When I go home, I’m going to do strength training! I don’t hope to knock-out enemies with a single move, but three moves should do the job. Not all battles would let me slowly wear down the opponent.
To the side, a piercing cry suddenly sounded—a woman’s shriek plus a toddler’s wail. It gave me goose bumps. If the pre-apocalyptic world had been able to produce this kind of sound in horror movies, then there wouldn’t have been any need of visuals. Let the audience sit in the dark and listen to this soundtrack— that would scare the heck out of them.
Thirteen’s expression changed, and he suddenly ran to the side. I saw this golden opportunity and immediately chased after him, wanting to stab him in the back.
Only then did I see where the dreadful noise was coming from. Maternibaby was about to be frozen into an ice sculpture. The herd of baby hands that reached out from the stomach was already frozen in ice. Only half of the mother’s body remained unfrozen, but it wouldn’t be long now.
Thirteen really wanted to aid Maternibaby, but a small silhouette waved his hand and an ice spear emerged in front of Maternibaby’s feeble face. If this was thrust forward, her whole head would be gone.
“Don’t kill her!” Thirteen hollered, “You want to kill me. Let her go.”
Hearing this, Jiang Xiaotian creased his brows. I wasn’t sure if he was thinking of whether or not to keep Thirteen’s aberrants as pets, as he actually stopped making the ice sculpture—Anyhow, can’t you raise Asura instead? Does it have to be Maternibaby? Do you think that it’s fine just because it’s going to be Halloween?
Jiang Xiaotian glanced at me and said, “Kill him, then. I didn’t expect Thirteen’s current fighting ability to be so poor. He is not going to be much of a help to you. Although you should practice how to defend against psychic attacks, you have lost your memories and often dream. Your mental state is not stable to begin with. This isn’t a good time to train your capability to resist psychic attacks.”
I nodded, raised my ice spear, and walked over.
Thirteen raised both claws, refusing to submit. He threatened, “Let her go.”
Jiang Xiaotian raised his eyebrows. In each tiny hand, he released a ball of cold air. Thirteen’s knees instantly froze into two round balls, and he was forced to kneel down, as he desperately tried to knock away the ice on his knees. His face was so pained that it had lost all color, though I could understand that. The ice power from the Ice Emperor was so cold that even someone with the ice ability like me was gonna freeze to death, not to mention an aberrant that dreaded the cold.
“You think you can still talk about conditions with me?” Jiang Xiaotian sneered. I think something’s not right here. If Thirteen could be this easily dealt with, then Jiang Xiaotian would have already made his move at the lab. Don’t tell me there’s a serious repercussion to his power, so he didn’t fight earlier?
My complexion changed at the thought. I shouted, “Jiang Xiaotian. You are not allowed to continue. I will kill Thirteen right now. You be good now. You hear me!”
Jiang Xiaotian pursed his lips but, nevertheless, nodded his head.
Thirteen couldn’t help but ask, “I don’t understand. Why do you have to kill me?”
Why? Because the current you can actually ask me “why”! Which aberrants as of now can speak?
Even if the Thirteen before us didn’t seem as ruthless and domineering as the one from rumors, once he encountered any people, even if he didn’t eat them, he’d still kill them. I didn’t know if some event in the future caused him to turn out like that, but I also couldn’t guarantee that I could prevent that event from happening. Even more, I didn’t have the confidence to persuade Thirteen not to kill people outside of mealtime. I could only choose the simplest solution—send him to the next world!
“You’re too unique. For the sake of less people dying in the future,” I coldly said, “I can only trouble you to die now.”
Thirteen said no more, suddenly turning his head and looking under the tree. I then noticed Beibei was actually sitting there. She had been shocked frozen, to the point that even her eyes were glazed and unmoving.
Before the aberrant had come over, he had not forgotten to leave Beibei in a safe place. As for me, this human, I had forgotten all about her. Guilt stabbed me. This is absurd. I couldn’t help explaining, “I will bring her to her mother’s side.”
“Keep her by your side,” Thirteen said seriously. It seemed more like a request.
I was silent. It was not that I didn’t want to bring Beibei with me, but his actions baffled me. He’s like a human, too much like a human! I couldn’t help but recall Wu Yaojin’s words. Aberrants can recover their minds… No, it’s impossible no matter how you think about it. Thirteen should be a special case.
“Protect Beibei!” Thirteen pleaded once again.
“Why? Unless you know Beibei?”
Thirteen shook his head and said, perplexed, “When I was asleep, I saw two people: a tiny one, very much like Beibei, and the other is bigger. She is, she…”
Unable to figure it out, his eyes unexpectedly reddened. I only felt panic at the sight. In the past, killing aberrants simply didn’t cause me any mental stress. Killing aberrants that eat people, who would feel any moral dilemmas! But if there are also human-like existences like Thirteen among them, then before I go for the kill, is it necessary to investigate their background beforehand and determine whether they’re human or not?
No, I shouldn’t listen any further. My saint complex is already untreatable. If I throw in this moral dilemma over their humanity, I’ll be dead before I know it!
“Okay, I’ll protect Beibei.”
Thirteen unexpectedly relaxed a bit. He slowly closed his eyes, waiting for death as a manner of relief.
The sight almost made me stay my hand, but only nearly. Thinking of the soldiers who had died at the lab, and then of those future tens of thousands of human beings…
The ice spear pierced straight toward his chest.
Bang, bang, bang!
I swayed, lowering my head to stare at my chest. Blood blossomed, seeping through my clothes, bit by bit, an ugly sight.
That wasn’t even the end of the gunshots.