Edited by Beth
“Captain, you have to cure that gender prejudice of yours. There’s nothing bad about Omegas— look, he was secretly staring at you just now…”
“No, no, he was secretly looking at you just now. The two of you look so fitting when standing next to one another, how can you refuse it?”
“But Captain, you’re two months older than me. It’s even more imperative that you should quickly settle down and start a family. So the one who shouldn’t refuse is clearly you!”
“I already have Comrade Xiao Si. See, he was just looking at me right now. He clearly has secret, tender affections towards me and is just too embarrassed to say anything. How can I pretend not to see it and hurt him?”
Zhou Rong and Yan Hao were seated next to the fire, their heads bowed together. They looked like they were having a secret meeting— or were two terrorists planning an unmentionable scheme. Everyone consciously kept at least ten metres away from them. When suddenly, the two of them simultaneously turned their heads, four eyes directed towards Si Nan who was leaning against a vehicle and polishing his dagger. It left him puzzled.
“Look,” Zhou Rong’s lips didn’t move as he whispered from the corner of his mouth. “He’s looking at me, right? You see how focused he is.”
Yan Hao was doubtful. “No, I think he’s actually looking at me?”
Zhou Rong shoved his head, forcing him to turn back. “You’re dreaming!”
After leaving Military Zone B, every time Si Nan had almost managed to convince himself that the relationship between the two Alphas was something he had imagined, the couple would do something astounding. Those actions had blinded Si Nan’s alluring eyes; so pretty they could tempt anything within eight-hundred metres of him.
Out of habit, Si Nan rubbed the center of his brows. Slowly exhaling, he unconsciously tried to smoothen out a wrinkle.
“See, he’s sighing,” Zhou Rong spoke icily. “If you refuse again, I’ll beat you!”
On the other side of the fire, Guo Weixiang was sprawled out face down on the ground— so not to put pressure on his buttocks, which Zhou Rong had just delivered a fierce kick to.
“… Say,” Guo Weixiang spoke feebly. “Did you all forget that there’s still one more Alpha on our team?”
Yan Hao responded sympathetically. “Ding Shi? No, Da Ding has a crush on his little Jing Hua back home. Our team can’t force another soldier to go against his personal feelings.”
“Mn! Mn!” Next to them, Ding Shi nodded.
Guo Weixiang hemmed and hawed. “Other than Da Ding, there’s still one more, right?”
“Chuncao? No, not Chuncao,” Zhou Rong replied. “Our Chuncao’s pheromones have yet to even mature. This extremely slow and delayed puberty of hers, she’ll have to go and see the doctor when we reach headquarters. Alright, Chuncao?”
Chuncao looked very serious. “Mn! Mn!”
“…” Guo Weixiang swept an indignant and grievous gaze across the faces of his team mates. After some time, he couldn’t hold himself back any longer and sat up, pointing at himself. “What about me?!”
Everyone ignored him.
“Am I not considered an Alpha? Can’t you hand him over to me?!”
Zhou Rong took the baby away from Dr. Zheng and passed her over to Guo Weixiang. With a doting expression, Zhou Rong patted Guo Weixiang’s shoulder. “You have a child already, so what are you complaining about? Come now, we have to respect the old yet love the young, so you should give-way to your Vice-Captain who is two years your senior.”
The new Omega was called Ren Junyang. He was actually of-age already, but it was his appearance which was rather delicate and pretty that made him look much younger than he really was.
Worse still was how unfit he was. It was unknown if it was innate, or due to his lack of exercising, but he couldn’t lift nor carry anything. Not only was he unable to take shifts throughout the night with the rest of the men, he also couldn’t help the women with the kitchen work. Dr. Zheng thought hard but still couldn’t think of where he would be best assigned. So finally he had no other choice but to send Ren Junyang with Wu Xinyan to assist in washing some lighter pieces of laundry.
The few Special Forces soldiers didn’t dare to let him wash their clothes. The inhibitors which they had been injected with in order to hide their Alpha identities could only last for two months. Now it was completely ineffective, and they were afraid that any remnants of pheromones left behind on their clothes would stimulate the Omega and send him into heat prematurely. With no other choice, Zhou Rong had to scrub his t-shirt in the river every day, with a cigarette between his lips.
They headed down south, moving through the small villages and towns along the road, through Hubei by way of Wuhan, and tried their best to avoid the highways that were jam-packed with zombies, as well as densely packed cities. Each time they went past a village, Zhou Rong would personally lead a team to search for necessities, and would sometimes be able to rescue a few survivors.
But as time went by, the amount of food that was salvageable and the amount of civilians they could rescue started decreasing.
Because, the number of people alive was dwindling.
Including the crowd who left the fertiliser factory with the soldiers, and the survivors which were rescued from various villages, they now had formed a group of over seventy people.
Zhou Rong said that if they entered the bigger cities, they would definitely be able to find more survivors. However, they were running out of time, nor did they possess the ability to fight their way into such high-risk areas in order to seek out those who were still alive.
No one knew how stable the proto-antibodies they had were, and how long they would remain effective for. If the headquarters in Nanhai were really waiting for them, and the critical period for the antivirus research was delayed due to their side trips, the consequences of that were unthinkable.
Yan Hao lay low behind the bunker. He squinted and aimed at the zombie about 40 metres away through his sight. “Captain.”
The silencer emitted a soft sound, and the zombie fell.
Zhou Rong, “What?”
They had just finished searching through a village. It had completely fallen, with no survivors found within. The supplies which were left behind were only the bare minimum, and Wu Xinyan had ran halfway through the village before managing to catch a terrified rooster. With his surgical skills, Dr. Zheng killed the rooster with much precision, and was about to pluck it of its feathers and drain it of its blood to supplement everyone with an additional bowl of chicken soup that night.
“I’ve been thinking it over for a long time,” Yan Hao spoke solemnly. “I think you really need an Omega.”
Zhou Rong, “… Why?”
“You’ve been single for too long, and so you’re really pent up. There’s obviously an issue with your pheromones, as the last time when you were peeing in the grass you nearly knocked Chuncao out with the smell. Also last night, you pretended to be asleep and hugged Comrade Xiao Si, so he had to keep avoiding you…”
“I was sleepwalking.” There was no change in Zhou Rong’s expression or his heart rate. Steadily, he pulled the trigger of his gun, and the zombie sixty metres away was killed in one shot.
Yan Hao sighed.
“Captain, stubbornness won’t work anymore,” he said sympathetically. “You’re too deep in the closet of Omega-phobia, it’s time to come out from that closet. Also, the scent coming off that Xiao Ren is becoming heavier, and we haven’t found any pharmacy along the way. If this continues, everyone will be in big trouble when the day of his heat arrives. In my opinion, you should take the initiative to…”
Footsteps came from behind them.
Maintaining his primed position, Zhou Rong tilted his head back only to see Si Nan placing the ammunition case on the ground while watching the two of them from above, his arms crossed.
Unconsciously, Zhou Rong wanted to pull the fruit candy out from his pockets to curry favour with Si Nan. However, before he could even move, he heard Si Nan ask frostily, “Why don’t you just ask for their opinion?”
It was as though Zhou Rong had heard the world’s greatest joke. “Whose opinion?”
Si Nan pointed a finger to the back. Xiao Ren was seated next to Dr. Zheng, clumsily plucking the feathers off the rooster.
“An Omega’s opinion?” Zhou Rong burst out laughing. “What opinion does an Omega have to express? They’re just for marking and giving birth…”
“If he couldn’t find an Alpha, it would be very difficult for him to survive. Besides, the marking of an Omega was never the choice of the Omega themselves even before.” Yan Hao looked at Si Nan’s face, and realised something wasn’t quite right, so he hurriedly explained himself, “Omegas innately search for weaker Alphas whose pheromones aren’t that strong, but if they’re allowed to carry on like this, Alphas would have long collapsed due to the weakening of the genes — many people now criticise Alphas for being chauvinistic, but this is the current state of society, and this is also taught to us when in school as well.”
Si Nan’s eyes narrowed. If they were to carefully observe him, they would have noticed that his facial muscles were actually quite tense.
Zhou Rong shrugged, and he seemed to agree with Yan Hao. “Also, just look at him, he simply doesn’t look like the decisive sort. If we really can’t find any inhibitors, we’ll just arrange an Alpha for him. In any case, just don’t attract a horde of zombies over to us… actually, it isn’t like Xiang-zi isn’t a possibility.”
Guo Weixiang was standing not too far away, armed and alert. As such, Zhou Rong’s last sentence was spoken very quietly.
Si Nan lifted up the 30kg ammunition box with one hand. Expressionless, he opened the box, and flipped it over.
Countless bullets rained from above, causing the two Alphas to wail aloud. Si Nan then placed the empty box over Zhou Rong’s head, dusting his hands as he walked away.
From that day on, Si Nan refused to sleep in the same vehicle with Zhou Rong, moving his sleeping-bag to another vehicle.
Yan Hao was a little delighted over this, and packed up to move to the other vehicle as well. However, before he had even laid down for two minutes, Si Nan flipped over, saw him, got up, packed his sleeping-bag and moved away again.
Hugging his pillow, Si Nan circled the camp a few rounds. Under the close watch of Zhou Rong and Yan Hao behind the windows of the vehicles, he silently entered the tourist bus.
This fleeing group of seventy passed through Wuhan, went by Xianning, and headed for Changsha from the suburbs of Yueyang. After they got through Hunan, what came next was the coastal region where the density of zombies were highly concentrated.
This journey that cut across half the country was finally at the stage where they would be facing danger.
“There’s no chance that we can drive all the way to the harbour.” Zhou Rong chewed on a long stick of grass, his finger dragging through a torn, ragged map they found along the way. “The population of Guangdong is too high, and they eat everything, even deep-frying fujianese people and dipping them in hoisin sauce… When I was in military school, on the bottom bunk was a dude from Guangdong. He’s nice, but I always suspected that the disappearance of the Fujian classmate from next door had something to do with him…”
“As such, it’s best that we don’t personally experience the lethality of zombies from Guangdong. Here—”
His fingers paused on where Changsha was located on the map. “We can try searching for aviation locations around the suburbs of the district. It’s best if we can find a civilian helicopter company, and fly the helicopter directly to Nanhai. When we’re closer to the base, we can then send a location signal.”
Yan Hao and Chuncao were sat by the map. Si Nan was seated alone in a corner of the vehicle, resting with closed eyes.
“Where would a civilian helicopter company be located?” Chuncao asked.
“We can try our luck around the airport, and for all we know, we might even find a pharmacy.”
“Will we still be divided into groups?”
“Mn. As usual, I’ll lead one and Yan Hao will lead the other… No.”
Zhou Rong paused slightly, murmuring, “Yan Hao hasn’t fully recovered yet.”
His eyes darted to one side. In that corner, Si Nan looked up, gazing back silently.
Zhou Rong had an idea, and waved his hand at Si Nan. “Come here.”
Leaning against the leather seat, Si Nan watched him lazily.
If the mountain doesn’t come to me, I’ll go to the mountain. Not only can I be close to the mountain, I can even hug the mountain — Goodnaturedly, Zhou Rong walked over. Half-kneeling in front of the seat, and in front of Si Nan’s startled gaze, he removed that ruby stud from his right ear and reached out to grope about Si Nan’s right ear.
“…” Si Nan’s voice quivered. “What are you doing?”
Zhou Rong laughed. “Why didn’t you get a piercing or something?”
Under the eyes of everyone, the hair on the back of Si Nan’s neck stood up. “Why would I do something so gay?!”