On the way, they saw another mixed monster.
It was different from the monster that had fallen under Lu Feng’s gun. It was slender and grey-black, like a stick insect that had been enlarged tens of thousands of times. It had huge, thin wings on its back that were unique to butterflies. Two thin antennae stretched from its forehead and it was unknown where the eyes were. It was five metres long and had six slender feet. When Lu Feng and An Zhe crossed a high slope, the creature had been eating a two metre long lizard. The smooth chitin body reflected light under the aurora and gradually became rough scales while it was eating.
The light and flexible body allowed it to move quickly. After eating the head of the lizard, the stick insect lay down its torso and jumped forward, grabbing the remaining lizard corpse and running into the distance. There was no time for it to discover Lu Feng and An Zhe.
This might be what Lu Feng called a clever mixed monster. It knew how to find hidden places to hide after acquiring genes to then go through the chaotic stage.
An Zhe gazed at the snow-white wings and spoke sincerely, “So beautiful.”
He himself was white. He liked the colour of his mycelium but he couldn’t stretch out beautiful wings. He was ashamed of his soft mass. As early as that rainy season where he was broken by the rain and hurricane, he had lost the appearance of a mushroom and was defined as a ‘variation from the basic form of the species.’
He heard Lu Feng’s cold voice. “Do you want to eat it?”
An Zhe, “…”
He denied it. “No.”
Lu Feng ordered, “Don’t eat it.”
An Zhe whispered, “I can’t beat them.”
Lu Feng’s lips curved slightly.
As a heterogeneous, he was even being controlled by a human and couldn’t eat freely. An Zhe was furious He felt he should have the right to eat freely. Then his stomach growled.
Lu Feng questioned, “What about your things?”
An Zhe recalled the amount of food and found it wasn’t enough for even a meal. He said, “Wait.”
He thought about it before asking Lu Feng, “Are you hungry?”
An Zhe felt this human was hard-mouthed. He found the remaining half of the compressed biscuit in his backpack. He broke off a piece and brought it to Lu Feng’s mouth, feeding it to him. The colonel didn’t refuse. An Zhe continued to feed him. When feeding the third piece, he remembered that compressed biscuits were too dry and should be taken with water. There was half a bottle of water left. He took it out but he didn’t know how to feed it to the colonel.
He could only say, “Stop for a moment.”
So, at dawn, he and Lu Feng divided the remaining half a bottle of water behind a large stone. Water was something that made mushrooms happy. An Zhe was licking his lips when Lu Feng stuffed a compressed biscuit into his mouth.
The cool fingers inadvertently touched his lips as An Zhe took the biscuit and slowly swallowed it. At this moment, he felt very comfortable despite obviously running out of food and water and not knowing how they would live tomorrow.
He told Lu Feng, “You eat. I’m not being active.”
Being inactive meant he didn’t need to eat a lot of things.
Lu Feng didn’t speak and just rubbed his head. An Zhe gazed up at this person. He felt that in the faint morning light, the colonel’s usual cold eyes were rendered slightly mild.
Suddenly, there was an illusion. Although he might be completely different from Lu Feng and although the two of them didn’t have any common language but—if the signal never recovered, if he and Lu Feng were both heterogeneous species or if he and Lu Feng were both humans, if they were still alive—one day, he and Lu Feng might be very good friends.
He himself wasn’t a very good human individual. He was even a worthless individual. Nevertheless, the colonel was very good to him. So if Lu Feng became a heterogeneous, An Zhe wouldn’t dislike him as long as he wasn’t too ugly.
However, this wasn’t possible at all. Lu Feng was human and he was unfortunately a mushroom. Still, if he had been a human from the beginning, perhaps an ordinary member of the outer city, he wouldn’t have known Lu Feng at all. Thus, he was lucky to be a mushroom.
They continued to walk forward. An Zhe felt that the night had passed ad his legs weren’t as pained any more. He didn’t need to be carried on Lu Feng’s back and could walk on his own. As he was put down, he saw Lu Feng frown slightly while looking to the side.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
There were two human skeleton fragments scattered not far away. The skull and fractured spines were far apart. The hand bones were missing while a grey leg bone was inserted obliquely into the sand, like a flagpole or tombstone.
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Lu Feng looked around. “There is no debris.”
They carefully examined the bones again. There were traces of monster bites on the bones and tattered pieces of clothing were buried under the thin sand. They were grey-black and weren’t the clothing of the base. Lu Feng’s expression became thoughtful because this incident was by no means normal.
However, they had no other clues and could only move on. After another half an hour, something distant appeared in the fog. It was a line of grey spread out on the horizon like the edge of a huge city.
An Zhe said, “I seem to see it.”
This must be the city ruins that Lu Feng had mentioned. Lu Feng told him, “I also saw it.”
“Can we find food and water at the ruins?”
Lu Feng explained lightly, “I often stay in ruins.”
Colonel Lu was a man who freely came and went from the Abyss. Still, it was a happy thing that they wouldn’t starve to death. He walked a little lighter and took a step forward ahead of Lu Feng. At this moment, the ground under his feet suddenly softened! Then it sank. He had fallen down.
An Zhe, “!!!”
His heart was beating fiercely and he was so frightened that he was about to take the shape of mycelium. Then there was the flash of an electric light and a heavy force came from his left arm. It was Lu Feng firmly holding him. An Zhe hung in the air, relieved. Then he was pulled up by Lu Feng. His leg was fine while his arm started to hurt sharply. He sucked in a low breath and Lu Feng reached out his hand, running it all the way from his shoulder to his wrist. “It isn’t broken.”
An Zhe glanced over at that place.
It was a sinister three metre deep pit, covered with some brittle and thin wooden boards and then covered by sand. It looked no different from the surroundings but as soon as you stepped on it, you would fall into the pit.
An Zhe felt strange and saw that Lu Feng was also slightly frowning.
“It is a trap and newly made,” Lu Feng stated.
First, human bones appeared in this place and now there was a trap—a human made product. Was someone alive in the wilderness?
Suddenly, Lu Feng looked over to a certain place. “Who is it?”
There was a mound above the ground. It looked flat in the hills and after Lu Feng spoke, there was no response. Even so, Lu Feng pulled out his gun and ordered in a low voice, “Come out.”
There was no movement.
10 seconds, 20 seconds, half a minute.
Then there was a rustling sound from there followed by a dull squeak. As An Zhe watched, the dirt on the mound fell to the ground and a lid-like object opened. A figure crawled out from it. At first glance, An Zhe thought it was a groundhog. Then he looked again and saw that it was a human, a living human without the slightest sign of variation. He wore shabby denim clothes that were somewhat like the clothes next to the bones.
Once he stood up, it was revealed he was a thin boy with pale skin due to the lack of sun. However, there were some freckles scattered on his cheeks. He looked at them, completely choked up.
An Zhe stared back silently.
A full two minutes passed before the boy stuttered, “You… you are… people?”
His words were unskilled and his pronunciation very strange. It was unlike the general tone of the base people.
Lu Feng stated, “Take us out of this place first.”
The boy stared at them, his hands trembling by his side before he ran over. “Wait a minute!”
He came to them using a roundabout route before turning to lead the way, taking the two of them through many twists and turns while stuttering, “Yes… sorry, we are afraid… afraid of monsters approaching so we dug… a lot of traps. They can’t get through. I… we can also observe… no, I didn’t expect someone to come here You… are you okay?”
Seeing his head hang down in a remorseful manner, An Zhe told him, “It’s okay.”
Once the boy reached the mound, he pushed a device and a heavy iron lid opened with a creak, revealing a dark hole.
“You… are you outsiders?” The boy seemed to suddenly react to something and turned to them. He looked at Lu Feng first but seemed frightened by Lu Feng’s blank expression. Thus, he stiffly turned to An Zhe.
An Zhe said, “Yes.”
“I…” The boy gasped a few times, face flushed with excitement. If he wasn’t half a meter away, An Zhe suspected that he would be able to hear the boy’s throbbing heartbeat.
An Zhe asked, “Are you okay?”
“I…” The boy seemed to finally be reacting to what was happening and was breathless.
“Hello.” It was Lu Feng who opened his mouth. “I’m from the Trial Court of the Northern Base. Do you need help?”
“We… we need help.” A flash of light burst in the boy’s eyes as he turned into the tunnel. He ran deeper while shouting, “Grandpa!”
Following him, Lu Feng and An Zhe also walked into the deep and winding tunnel. The iron lid was closed and it was dark and shady, but there was a faint flash ahead. Unable to see the path under his feet, An Zhe carefully supported himself using the wall. Then Lu Feng grabbed his wrist and led him forward.
This was a steep downward staircase and it was easy to fall. After walking down a slope of around 100 metres and turning a corner, it became slightly more spacious. The steam lamp on the wall emitted a faint white light. Looking in the distance, it was deep and there was the sound of footsteps inside, creating endless echoes.
Lu Feng inquired, “Did you dig this?”
“No, not me,” the boy replied. “It was a mine a long time ago. Many of us hid here.”
Lu Feng continued questioning the boy. “How many people are there? How long have you lived here?”
“I don’t know.” The boy lowered his head slightly. “I’ve been here since I was born. Many people later… all died. My uncle went out and now it is only me and my grandfather here.”
Before entering the place where the ‘grandpa’ that the boy called out to was located, An Zhe heard a heavy gasp that was like an animal on the verge of death.
He saw a 10 metre square hole containing a wire bed that was less than a metre wide. An old man with grey hair was lying on the bed. An Zhe approached and saw that the old man’s body was covered with grey-yellow blankets. His cheeks were sunken, his eyes were cloudy and his body was shaking as if he was enduring great pain. He didn’t respond even when they came to the bed.
“He’s sick,” the boy stated.
Then he sat on the bed, took his grandfather’s hand and called out loudly, “Grandpa! The people outside have come to us. They say they are from a base. There really is a base!”
The old man wasn’t awake and wasn’t affected by the euphoria in the words. Still, he frowned at the chaos and turned his head like he was trying to escape the noise.
“Let’s go to a place with a lot of people!” The boy seemed used to it and wasn’t affected by the old man’s negative attitude. Rather, his tone was even more excited. Just then, the old man’s dry mouth moved and he emitted a few vague syllables.
“What?” his grandson asked.
An Zhe also listened carefully. The old man’s lips moved and he repeated the syllables again.
“Time…” His throat was hoarse and his mouth was leaking air, his voice like broken wind. “The time… is coming.”
The boy turned apologetically to Lu Feng and An Zhe. “Grandpa always says this. He thinks he is seriously ill and will die.”
Then he turned to the old man again. “We are going to a place where there are humans. There must be medicine.”
The old man just turned around. The boy spoke up to here and had to give up. Even as they left, the old man was still muttering, “The time is coming.” An Zhe thought this phrase was familiar but he couldn’t remember where he heard it.
Then the boy took them to a slightly larger square room that was connected to three dark cave forks, like a heartland extending in all directions. The rugged walls were pasted with yellowed paper that contained the mine map and operating precautions. There was a small square table in the middle and two old sofas next to the table. The excessive moisture had eroded the leather of the sofa.
Lu Feng talked to the boy.
The boy’s name was Xi Bei. According to him, when the unprecedented disaster came, the mind collapsed. However, the radiation didn’t penetrate through the ground so some people inside survived and they continued to the present day. They would go to the nearby ruins to collect necessities of life and they would be killed and eaten by the monsters outside. He was his mother’s only child. In the beginning, there were dozens of people but now only he and his grandfather as well as several older uncles were left to depend on each other.
“I knew that everyone definitely hadn’t died, they must’ve built a new home somewhere. We just couldn’t find out. My grandfather previously said that when we found another exit out of the mine, the outside had changed and living people were gone.”
“The radio had no signal and there were monsters outside. We couldn’t go out and could only stay here, but we knew there must be others.” Xi Bei’s voice trembled with a bit of excitement as he took out a shabby, thin book from a small grid to the side.
“Two years ago, we found a car outside. Aside from a dead person in the car, there was this thing. That’s how I knew there are people outside. I… have been waiting for you. We… my companions have been searching and praying for rescue.” He looked at Lu Feng with hope in his eyes.”
Lu Feng’s voice was slightly lower as he said, “The base welcomes you.”
Meanwhile, An Zhe reached out for the thin booklet. The yellow steam lamp illuminated the cover and the title was ‘Base Monthly.’ These words touched some fragments of memories stored in his mind. This was a booklet distributed by the people of the base.
This booklet was produced in the distant human base and acquired by mercenaries or soldiers along with pornographic novels and weapon illustrations. It boarded an armoured vehicle leaving the base and after a long distance, it was left in the wilderness forever. Then the survivors in the desert took it out of the wreckage of the vehicle and kept it in the mind, knowing that it represented the distant human homeland.
The title page had turned yellow and there was a line written, ‘May we have a bright future.’ An Zhe turned the page and it was a table of contents. An Zhe’s hand turning the paper suddenly trembled. His eyes stopped on one line in the contents which were two extremely simple words.
The ellipsis extended all the way to the right edge of the paper and at the end, there were two other characters written, representing the author’s name.
An Zhe’s breathing briefly paused and the next moment, he saw the line after Winter Day. It was called ‘One day in 2059.’ 2059 was a distant era in history so the name illustrated a point, This was an elegant historical article.
The author’s name was Poet.
The two names sat quietly side by side on the page.
An Zhe’s fingers touched the paper. His fingers had once touched An Ze’s shoulder covered in vines and was once grasped by Poet in a dark vehicle. Now he caressed the names of the two individuals and their silhouettes clearly appeared in An Zhe’s mind. He turned to the page and the two pages were next to each other. Winter Day was a short poem about winter when snowflakes fell on the supply station square. An Ze said the snow was soft like snow-white dove wings.
An Zhe could hear all the details of his voice. He seemed to hear An Ze describing it to himself. At this moment, An Ze seemed to be alive again and Poet was once again standing in front of him with a smile, telling him the history of the base—these were the records left by them in this world.
An Zhe’s eyes were blurry. He clearly hadn’t thought of these two men for a long time but their figures appeared in front of him so clearly that it was like they had met yesterday. He was reunited with them like this, just as the boy called Xi Bei suddenly met a visitor from a human base.
“Originally, there were two uncles here but they went out to find something to eat and they haven’t returned for more than a day. I think…” Xi Bei lowered his head. “I think… they might not be able to return.”
“I’m sorry, I’m late.” Lu Feng apologized.
“No!” Xi Bei shook his head sharply and grinned at Lu Feng, speaking in a husky voice, “There are monsters outside and you must be in a difficult situation. The fact that you’re here, I’m already… already very grateful. There are other humans in this world and we have a home. It is… good.”
The light of the steam lamp reflected in his black eyes where there was a bright and excited spark. Combined with the subtle expression on Xi Bei’s face, it presented a pure, sad joy.
An Zhe quietly looked at Xi Bei’s face and knew it was an emotion he could never understand. He lowered his head and saw the yellowed pages of the monthly magazine, An Ze’s voice and smile once again resurfacing before his eyes.
His eyes were blurry. Just a few hours ago, he was still disregarding the efforts of humans to maintain their will. He thought that he wouldn’t dislike it if Lu Feng became a heterogeneous species. However, this idea was slightly shaken at this moment.
‘Humans are humans,’ he thought. He knew that the base had no medicine and that it was the end for humanity. However, they were truly immortal.