“Si Nan!” Yan Hao knocked on the window,. “Are you free? Want to go out for a walk?”
In the centre of the empty workshop, Si Nan had found a whisk from somewhere, and was in the midst of mixing a black, ointment-like substance, and the thick kerosene smell pervaded throughout the surroundings. Hearing Yan Hao, he stopped his movements and waved at him, gesturing that he should come in.
This was the first time an outsider was allowed into his workshop. Yan Hao was overwhelmed by his attention. “You’re…”
Si Nan passed the whisk and metal bowl to him, instructing, “Beat it hard.”
Yan Hao was confused. Holding on to the bowl, he stirred for a long time. Only when his arms were aching to the point where he could barely lift them up, was Si Nan satisfied. “Alright, you’re done. You can leave now, don’t go around talking about it.”
“What is this?”
Yan Hao, “…”
Yan Hao had wanted to look for Si Nan to discuss if he was interested in going with the special force soldiers to B Military Zone. However, Si Nan clearly was not interested in where they were going, and Yan Hao could only leave and discuss it alone with Zhou Rong.
Under autumn’s broad, blue sky, Si Nan placed the gunpowder in a cool, shady area of the warehouse, allowing the kerosene to evaporate by itself. He suddenly heard light yet urgent footsteps, and turned his head towards the window.
Behind the warehouse was a quiet little road. A ten minutes walk to the east was an anhydrous ammonia storage and treatment tank, and towards the west was the kitchen of the cafeteria. A young lady wearing an apron turned hastily from the road towards the warehouse, her face pale and panicked. When she suddenly caught sight of Si Nan, she paused.
“?” Si Nan stared at her, recognising Wu Xinyan.
Wu Xinyan flew over, reaching out to pull herself through the window.
Si Nan’s “it’s been six months, it can’t be aborted” probably left Wu Xinyan with a deep impression, and this lady did not seem to like him much, always avoiding him. Si Nan did not know what was happening now, but it did not seem like she was bitten by a zombie and wanted to eat people. He then reached out to open the windows, but was stopped by her, and pulled back in.
Wu Xinyan closed the windows, crouching down on the ground. She pulled Si Nan down to the ground as well.
“Shh…” She said softly.
Si Nan’s brows wrinkled, before hearing more footsteps outside the window. This time, it was a lot heavier, and a man exhaled roughly, speaking in a gruff voice, “She was just here, where did she go?”
Another man spoke up, his voice accented. “What place is this.”
Footsteps drew closer. The man looked into the window, but did not see Si Nan and Wu Xinyan hiding underneath. “There’s no one here.”
“Fuck, that girl can sure run fast.”
“You should stop making trouble too. President Feng has said to not touch this group of people, don’t you remember that?”
They were Feng Wentai’s bodyguards. Si Nan’s eyes clouded.
Rustling sounds could be heard. The two of them seemed to be smoking. The first person spoke unhappily, “I only want to have some fun with her, why can’t I do that? Not allowed to this and that, President Feng sure worries about those few special force soldiers.”
The accented voice went, “Oh.”
“Say,” That man lowered his voice in doubt. “Are they really special force soldiers?”
“Why, you don’t think they are?”
“It seems wrong for Betas to be so wild. Also, isn’t it that only Alphas can join the special force team? I suspect that they’re men from the Guo family, and are taking advantage of the current chaos, swindling and scaring everyone, including President Feng…”
“It doesn’t matter what they’re doing. As long as they have a way to let us in to the shelter.”
The two people groused for a couple more sentences. Completely hidden in the small space under the window, Si Nan’s eyes narrowed slightly.
“Right,” That gruff voice suddenly seemed to think of something. “That day, President Feng had made Lu Hui kneel and apologise, in the end Lu Hui was kicked in front of everyone by that sissy. He’s been holding himself back from looking for trouble.”
“There’s something like this?”
“Mn. In my opinion, it’s also embarrassing that we can’t deal with this little weakling. Someday when no one’s around we’ll grab that fellow and teach him a lesson… So fragile and delicate looking, he looks just like an Omega. Don’t let him be a fake modified one…”
“Why, you’re thinking about going in from the back door?”
Their laughter was full of obscenity. They cursed at a few other things, and finally, they gradually walked away.
Wu Xinyan’s face was ashen, her body trembling as she turned around. Si Nan’s brows were tight, his pupils constricted, and his eyes curved up fiercely.
Before she could finish her sentence, Si Nan raised his index finger in a stop motion. He then pulled her and whirled out of the warehouse.
“This is the car key. Once there’s something wrong, bring everyone and evacuate. The provisions have already been stored in the bus already. We’ll have to trouble you to take care of that pregnant lady. We’ll be back from the military zone in at most one week…”
Zhou Rong was listing the things to take note of one by one to Dr Zheng. Si Nan suddenly entered, pulling with him a panting Wu Xinyan who had jogged her way here. He did not say anything, but directly grabbed the Type 64 handgun from Zhou Rong’s waist.
“Hey!” Zhou Rong roared. “What are you doing? Come back!”
Si Nan did come back. He stuck his hand into Zhou Rong’s pocket and pulled out a big bunch of keys before leaving again.
Fortunately, this time Zhou Rong caught his wrist in time. “What happened, where are you going? Are you committing a robbery?”
Si Nan replied coldly, “Don’t bother about this, it has nothing to do with you.”
Flinging his hand away from Zhou Rong’s grip, he grabbed Wu Xinyan and left, heading towards the garage.
Zhou Rong chased for two steps, wanting to yell at him. However, when he saw Wu Xinyan’s stumbling figure, he seemed to suddenly realise something, and abruptly fell silent.
“… Tsk, this fellow.” Zhou Rong murmured. “He’s pretty popular amongst the girls.”
He stood where he was for a moment, feeling as though something was stuck in his throat, and he could neither swallow it down nor spit it out. Pinching hard at the center of his brows, using that pain to distract himself, he turned his head and smiled, “Sorry about that.”
Dr Zheng bit his tongue, nodding his head in understanding.
“Get onto the car,” Si Nan said.
Wu Xinyan had to use both her hands and legs before she could climb into the high driver’s compartment of the armoured vehicle. In great trepidation, she asked, “Where are we going?”
Si Nan slammed the door shut, starting the engine. “We’re not going anywhere.”
The armoured vehicle left the garage, turning one circle in the empty space before making its way past the cafeteria, driving towards the anhydrous ammonia storage and treatment tank where few people went. Following the rocky path for a few minutes, it was so bumpy it almost made Wu Xinyan carsick, and finally screeched to a stop at a dilapidated brick building.
“When I was clearing the zombies last week, I discovered this place.” Si Nan leapt off the vehicle. “How long has he been pestering you?”
No matter how brave Wu Xinyan was, she still shivered a little. “A, a few days after they arrived…”
This was a garage for the waste disposal truck, and the surroundings stank of ammonia. The green metal door to the garage was already rusty, and no one knew how long it had been abandoned for. Si Nan stepped on top of the rubbish bin, flipping through the dusty window filled with cobwebs before going to the door and opening it, signalling Wu Xinyan to enter.
“The garage door is battery-operated, and the switch is here. It’s not very clean inside, but after some tidying up, it should be fine for people to stay here.”
Wu Xinyan wrapped her arms around herself, observing her surroundings with fear and curiosity.
On the wall was a huge patch of mould, the corners were piled up with junk, and a thick layer of dust was on the ground. Si Nan moved two cartons of mineral water, instant noodles, blankets and various items off the armoured vehicle, then yanked out that Type 64 and slapped it into Wu Xinyan’s hands. “If something happens after we leave, bring your pregnant friend along and hide here.”
Wu Xinyan’s breathing nearly stopped, feeling as though she was holding on to a piece of burning coal. “I, I, I, I d-don’t dare to shoot…”
Si Nan went behind her, patted her on the arms, and raised the gun along with her, aiming at the sky. Bang!
The recoil made Wu Xinyan stagger, and the empty casing fell clinking onto the ground. Si Nan said encouragingly, “Now, you’ll dare to do it.”
Wu Xinyan’s mind blanked out, her thoughts chaotic. A moment later, she decisively nodded her head, her lips still trembling.
“Don’t tell anyone about this place, including your pregnant friend.” As Si Nan drove back, his attention was on the rocky path filled with potholes. “For these few days, avoid those people. Don’t have any direct conflict with them. Before we leave, I’ll prepare a few more provisions for you.”
Wu Xinyan turned her head towards him. Si Nan’s long and curled eyelashes were lowered. His eyes were always reticent and focused, sometimes giving people a misconception that he did not have much feelings.
“You…” Wu Xinyan spoke up, her voice as thin as a thread. “You’re… not afraid of them?”
Wu Xinyan tried a more direct approach, but her voice lowered in volume. “… What they said about you, is it true?”
This time, Si Nan glanced at her with the corner of her eyes, and did not reply.
And so, Wu Xinyan was distracted the entire journey, imagining an invisible person grabbing onto Si Nan’s shoulders and violently shaking him.
Only when they returned to the factory, parked the vehicle and locked the doors did Si Nan suddenly waved his hand at her.
Wu Xinyan, “?”
Following Si Nan’s finger, she gazed at the brick wall, then suddenly something flew past — Bang!
Wu Xinyan gave a start. Si Nan’s fist slammed into the wall, the bricks splitting apart, and a half-metre crack silently appeared.
“What do you think?” Si Nan said calmly.
Si Nan tossed the keys up in his hand before catching them. He slowly walked away, leaving Wu Xinyan behind staring at the fist-sized hole in the wall blankly.
Zhou Rong sent away Dr Zheng, who continuously promised to do a good job or face severe penalties. Alone in the main office of the factory, he sunk into a swivel chair.
Outside the window was the afternoon’s calm, blue sky. The sounds of people training and chatting in the front yard drifted along with the wind, and could be heard indistinctly. Out of habit, Zhou Rong touched the cigarette box by his hand. It was his last cigarette already, and placing it in front of his nose, he sniffed at it for a long while but did not light it.
Zhou Rong took his time to retrieve his lighter. At this moment, behind him, the office door was pushed open fiercely, and Si Nan tossed a big bunch of keys over.
“Yo!” It was fortunate that Zhou Rong’s reaction time was fast. Turning his chair, he caught them in mid-air. “— Done with your thing?”
Si Nan did not understand, and replied casually, “Mn.”
Zhou Rong observed his expressions, deliberating over his words, thinking for a long while before asking, “Are you going with us to the military zone?”
“…” Zhou Rong tried asking, “Do you like that girl?”
Si Nan was about to leave, but hearing his words, he stopped, a little baffled. “I don’t like her, why?”
His brain filled with words, Zhou Rong did not know where to start, and his temple started throbbing, “Then you still…”
“That girl,” Si Nan looked around the corridor and suddenly lowered his voice, sounding very earnest. “She likes Yan Hao, you better pay more attention.”
— Si Nan’s voice at that moment could be described as being friendly. Zhou Rong stared at him, dumbfounded, and suddenly his intuition told him that something was not quite right.
But he did not have time to contemplate about it. Si Nan had turned and headed to the warehouse to stir his gunpowder already.
Three days later, Zhou Rong personally checked the last box of ammunition on the inventory list, and slammed the door to the rear compartment shut. “Let’s go!”
With a yard full of people watching, the armoured vehicle slowly made its way out of the industrial zone. In the rearview mirror, the people’s reluctance, gratefulness, anticipation, fear, and worry, their varied expressions all gradually shrinking.
Six special force soldiers and one off-staff combatant sat in the vehicle. Everyone was in full gear, wearing a kevlar armour, and carrying a mini submachine gun. Zhou Rong wanted to say something to boost the atmosphere, only to see Si Nan standing up, opening the back door, and jumping off the moving vehicle.
Zhou Rong stuck his head out of the window and yelled, “My little ancestor, what do you want to do this time?!”
Si Nan sprinted towards Wu Xinyan who was standing at the first row of the crowd. From his shoulder tactical bag he pulled out a glass bottle with many cracks on it, that was filled with an unknown substance. He handed it to her, and explained simply, “Avoid jolting it, throw it as far as possible.”
Wu Xinyan was like a soldier about to step on the battlefield. She had a death grip on that bottle of nitroglycerin, and anxiously asked, “What if it’s not far enough?!”
Si Nan was silent for a moment. “Then pray.”
“…” Wu Xinyan was resigned. “Then I better practise with rocks first.”
Not far away, Zhou Rong pulled his eyes back from the window, sighing in disappointment. He suddenly reached out and mussed Chun Cao’s hair. “Cao’er…”
His cheap daughter was wiping her gun barrel with a cloth, and she replied without looking up. “What?”
“Should Papa start properly looking for an omega, and settle down?”
Everyone in the vehicle looked up at the same time, gazing at Zhou Rong in astonishment. Yan Hao, in the driver’s seat, drove an ‘S’ path on the road.
After running back to the vehicle, Si Nan grabbed the ladder and pulled himself in, deftly returning to the rear compartment. In an uncomprehending manner, he surveyed the group. At this moment, no one paid attention to his confusion. Chun Cao put down her machine gun, clasping her cheap father’s hand tightly, speaking emotionally, “Can you not talk as if there would be an Omega who would actually be interested in you?”