Edited by Beth
“Do you see a pharmacy?”
“There’s none here too—”
The bus driver turned the steering wheel, speaking seriously, “Young comrades, there aren’t any here. I used to drive along the Xiangjiang River, working long distances, so I’m very familiar with the area. There aren’t any big pharmacies here, while the small ones don’t have those…”
“Inhibitors,” Guo Weixiang reminded.
“Right, inhibitors, they don’t have the inhibitors you want,” the driver said. “There’s a Tong Ren Tang for traditional medicine just round the corner of the street ahead of us. But it’s been many years, I don’t know if it’s still open…”
Dr. Zheng spoke affably, “Xiao Ren, let’s go take a look?”
Ren Junxiang was an introverted, gentle Omega who wasn’t talkative and often blushed before speaking. On the night after his arrival, Zhou Rong got into a fight with Yan Hao over the issue of whether or not they were able to force a match between him and one of their team’s members. After the fight, Zhou Rong was left with no other choice but to seek out Xiao Ren himself and ask for his opinion.
However, perhaps because Zhou Rong had just finished fighting and was unprepared to listen to Xiao Ren’s opinion, but his tone was no longer warm like the spring. At a loss for what to do, Xiao Ren stammered continuously, unable to form a complete sentence. Zhou Rong asked a couple more times, but the Omega actually started crying aggrievedly, scaring Zhou Rong into withdrawing twenty metres away.
So, Dr. Zheng gentled his tone. “Xiao Ren?”
Xiao Ren twisted his fingers, his voice so small like the buzzing of an insect. “I-I don’t know…”
The few people exchanged a look. Guo Weixiang patted the driver’s seat, saying resignedly, “Let’s go take a look.”
However, the driver’s memory disappointed everyone who placed their hopes in him — after twisting and turning for over ten minutes, they finally found a Tong Ren Tang a few streets away. However, written on the sign was: The shop is located on B2 of the shopping mall.
It was winter, and with the recent change in weather, most of the zombies were hiding in the basements of buildings to hibernate. With a rifle on his back, Si Nan glanced down at the basement and shook his head. “Forget it, we’re not going in.”
Dr. Zheng reminded them, “Captain Zhou and his team should be nearly done, we should hurry up and search for a pick-up location nearby. Xiao Ren, what do you think?”
Everyone’s eyes turned towards him. His face bright red, Xiao Ren’s mouth opened and closed, but he did not say a word.
Si Nan shot Guo Weixiang a look, and the latter shrugged.
“You,” Si Nan clapped a hand on Ren Junxiang’s shoulder, his tone not allowing for any refusal, “Come with me.”
He dragged Ren Junxiang to the corner of the last row of the bus. After a sharp look from Si Nan, the man originally sitting in that row immediately stood up and quickly moved away, smiling and gesturing at Si Nan to take the spot.
Si Nan pushed Xiao Ren into the row, making him sit down. He sat down himself as well, crossing his arms as he studied the little Omega’s timid face. “What do you plan on doing?”
Tears instantly gathered in the corners of Ren Junxiang’s big eyes, and he was about to start sobbing.
Si Nan’s brows came together.
“…” The sob that was about to make its way out was scared back into Ren Junxiang’s throat.
“If you’re about to die, out of responsibility, the special force soldiers will go all out to save you. However, things like going into heat, if lives need to be paid in exchange for the inhibitors, no one owes you this.”
Si Nan’s voice had an innate huskiness to it, and when he whispered in someone’s ear, his voice could really stir up a person’s emotions. However, when his voice was flat and emotionless, it was like the heartbeat of a dead person; with no rise or fall to it, and giving off a terrifyingly heartless feel.
“You decide for yourself. If you don’t want them to assign you an Alpha randomly, then just tell me who you like. I’ll make them respect your decision. If not, this will make our survival even harder. Work with me.”
“…” Xiao Ren’s face was paper white. He looked at Si Nan in a daze, seeming to be scared by the phrase “you decide for yourself.”
Si Nan tapped on the face of his watch. “My patience only lasts for thirty seconds.”
Xiao Ren seemed to be in disbelief that Si Nan could be so harsh against an Omega like himself. It took him some time before he finally squeezed his words out, faltering, “…I-I don’t know anything, I have no opinions…”
“You have no opinions?”
Xiao Ren bowed his head, tugging at the hem of his clothes.
“You have no opinions about randomly assigning you an Alpha? Zhou Rong, Yan Hao, Chuncao, Ding Shi and Guo Weixiang, you’re fine with any one of them?”
Xiao Ren’s face was deep red, almost like the colour of blood, and his acknowledgement barely audible.
Si Nan recalled that day when Zhou Rong mocked him, “What opinion does an Omega have to express?”
At that moment, he could not say a thing.
Adding salt to his wound, Xiao Ren again bowed his head low, his tiny voice buzzing, “As… as long as they take responsibility for me, it’ll be fine…”
“Even if it’s a partner you choose, after he accepts you, you both have the duty to be responsible for each other. How can that be an issue?”
Xiao Ren fell silent, shifting slightly, looking scared as he wanted to say something but dared not.
A moment later, he finally forced out, “I… I’m only an Omega…”
Si Nan studied his face carefully, coming to a sudden realisation.
He had never once thought of himself as one of the weak — not biologically, but mentally. However, if he looked at it from the other side, Ren Junxiang’s behaviour actually expressed how he felt very clearly, that he wished to be governed by another.
He hoped that Zhou Rong and the others would decide for him, and whether things turn out for good or bad, he would have someone to thank, to blame or to rely on.
He hoped that he would be selected by an Alpha, offered up as a property, to be protected and kept. Like this, he would rid himself of all the risks that came with making his own choices, and he could thus be like dodder, clinging on a tree, happily having someone take responsibility for him.
This was actually the belief that most Omegas would have right now.
Si Nan vaguely felt that he had met such Omegas before. He closed his eyes, in a trance, but his mind was blank and he couldn’t recall anything.
“Si Nan!” Guo Weixiang called out from the front of the bus. “Come here for a bit, there’s a platform over here!”
“I understand,” Si Nan got straight to the point. He no longer looked at Ren Junxiang, standing up and leaving the seat.
Xiao Ren raised his head hesitantly, seeming to hear a subtle sigh as Si Nan turned around. However, before he could decide if it was an illusion, he saw Si Nan walk down the aisle, striding towards Guo Weixiang and the rest.
Carrying an Uzi gun on his back, his black anti-riot uniform made his body look strong and flexible. Above his collar, his neck looked snow-white in contrast to his black hair.
This set of uniform fit well on top, but the pants were two inches too short. However, as the pant legs were tucked into the tall, black leather boots, it couldn’t be seen. In the get-up, his legs looked unreasonably long, and his steps were sure and quick, making one feel as though they needed to jog to catch up.
… How could he understand? Ren Junxiang lamented.
He’s not an Omega, not like us, how could he understand our suffering.
However — a thought churned within his mind. There’s nothing bad about being an Omega. At the very least, we’ll be able to stay behind and be well protected. And all we need to do is bare children and take care of them. There’s no need for us to face those scary monsters directly, and no big responsibilities or duties will be given to us.
Thinking like this, Ren Junxiang felt slightly satisfied.
“It’s a gynaecological hospital.” Guo Weixiang pointed at a three-storey building at the end of the street, signalling for Si Nan to look at the roof. “The roof is rigid, and from what I can see, there’s no obstructions. Most hospital roofs fulfil the requirements for a helicopter landing. When the virus broke out, the first round of infected people were mostly sent to general hospitals and police stations, so gynaecological hospitals should be safe. Shall we give it a try?”
Si Nan took a few seconds to think, then nodded.
“Alright!” The driver exclaimed. He slammed down on the accelerator and the bus rushed onto the walkway, jolting all the passengers at the same time!
A few loud clangs, and the bus ran over a few zombies before stopping outside the building. Guo Weixiang and Si Nan ran out of the bus, their backs against each other. They cleared all the zombies rushing over on the walkway as well as the hospital; the bullet shells rattling down onto the ground.
Dr. Zheng and the driver swiftly led the survivors down from the bus. They instinctively formed a line, and followed Si Nan, running into the hospital.
There were not many zombies in the lobby. A few pregnant women were shuffling about blankly, and before they reacted, they were sent to rest in peace. Only the two nurses behind the front desk were a little more agitated, shrieking as they scrambled towards the survivors, seemingly unhappy with the group of survivors suddenly trespassing onto their turf.
Guo Weixiang turned and shot them both, shouting, “Si Xiaonan!”
The group was anxious but not chaotic, and they remained orderly as they ran upstairs behind Si Nan. “What?”
“Did you notice? Although Rong-ge is normally quite neurotic and abnormal!”
Si Nan: “…”
“But his IQ! Is actually very high—!”
Si Nan: “…….”
Si Nan’s feet never stopped, his assault rifle firing away. The twenty-odd zombies swarming the corridor which had caused the survivors to give a short scream, were pushed back.
However, no one’s legs turned weak, nor did the situation turn chaotic. They quickly rearranged themselves, placing the women and children in the center as they continued moving upwards.
“Look!” Guo Weixiang shouted proudly. “Everyone’s ability to flee has been trained by him! The group’s arrangement was also set by him! Look at how much foresight he has! Don’t you feel even a little proud?”
“— Yeah!” The driver agreed while running. “Captain Zhou is very capable!”
Wu Xinyan: “He’s not too bad!”
Dr. Zheng: “His genes are very good too!”
Guo Weixiang: “If he proposes, will you agree?”
“…” Si Nan mumbled, “I really want to leave you guys behind and wash my hands off you.”
A dozen doctors and nurses stumbled out from the lounge, their hands holding onto various items like manual blood pressure monitors, stethoscopes and forceps, as they roared and shot towards the staircase. Si Nan’s reaction was miraculously quick. He first shot the zombie right in front, then a few more after that. However, there were still a few doctors who, with agility and deftness that had developed over the years of chaos within the hospital, managed to rush forwards screaming with all their might. Si Nan gave them all a kick to their chests, and then fired at their heads.
“You’re too violent,” Guo Weixiang said, discontented, “our country’s doctors have it tough, you must treat them more gently.”
Si Nan: “It’s all business. Doctors are part of the highly paid elites…”
Guo Weixiang: “What do you know, Comrade Xiao Si! Don’t talk nonsense! They study for five years and intern for three years—”
“Then another two years of specialised training, there’s completely no money in it!” Dr. Zheng yelled in anger.
Dr. Zheng was panting from climbing the stairs, and he harped on, grumbling, “The number of surgeries we perform in a day is equivalent to the number of surgeries doctors in other countries perform in a month, and once we leave the operating theatre, we have to deal with rowdy patients and their families. When we go to work, we’re at risk of receiving slashes and stabs from others — I’m old now, but when I was young, once I heard the chief shout for us to get out of there, I could run the fifty metres corridor of the emergency ward in six seconds…”
A loud crash occurred. Si Nan had opened the door to the roof, his head aching very badly. “Fine, I’m sorry, alright?”
Guo Weixiang cleared off the last few zombies before chasing after them. The entire group arrived at the rooftop, and he turned to close the metal door, swiftly locking it.
“We’re safe!” He shouted. “Mission accomplished!”
The roof of this three-storey building was flat and wide, with no obstructions. It was perfect for a helicopter to land, and was one of the rare spots in the city for a platform. Si Nan surveyed the gradually darkening sky. Lifting his hand and pressing on the ruby ear stud, he felt the rice grain-sized button depress.
The survivors were still badly shaken. Ignoring the strong winds blowing across the roof, they all sat down to rest.
“Alright, nice job.” Guo Weixiang walked forward, studying the sight around the hospital building. “Next, we’ll settle down and… wait for Rong-ge and the rest to pick us up… Hmm? Isn’t that a pharmacy?”
Behind the hospital was a construction site. The zombified workers had probably all ran away, leaving behind emptiness and bleakness.
A street behind the construction site, through the winter-bared branches of trees, a corner of a green sign “Civilian Pharmacy” peeked out.
Guo Weixiang estimated the distance silently. Feeling the distance was reasonable, he exhaled heavily. “I’ll go take a look.”
Si Nan cast him a side-eye.
“What?” Guo Weixiang was very sensitive.
“…” Si Nan said slowly, “I thought you liked him…”
“Ai, actually, no.” Guo Weixiang paused, then continued self-mockingly, “I do have some physiological attraction to him, but the main issue is that I just want to not be single anymore. As for really liking him… there’s not much to it… Can you understand that? Ai, it’s fine that he doesn’t like me, it’s not like I must find a partner.”
Si Nan spoke politely, “Congratulations on your heartbreak, you’re a nice guy.”
Guo Weixiang: “Why are you the one giving me the nice guy label!!”
Guo Weixiang scratched his nose. From his bag, he took out Zhou Rong’s 118’s secret weapon — the grappling gun. He instructed, “I’ll be back soon, it’ll at most take 5 minutes. Give me your extra ammunition, you’ll stay here on guard.”
Si Nan had no opinions about it. He watched as Guo Weixiang fired the grappling gun onto the ground, then slid down the rope onto the path and ran across the construction site. His body was spry and deft, and he quickly vanished into the pharmacy.
It was 5.30 in the afternoon. The sky was gloomy, the cold wind whistling through the air.
Dark clouds gathered at the horizon, swirling like a harbinger of doom.
Si Nan frowned, his eyelid twitching twice out of the blue. Next, he saw two barely detectable little dots far away in the sky.
— Those were the helicopters!
Si Nan immediately pressed on the locator again. The people behind him broke out into discussion as they stood up, repeatedly cheering in delight.
Then, at that moment.
In the distance, gunshots were fired. Si Nan jerked his head down to see the windows of the pharmacy explode, and Guo Weixiang rushed out madly covered in glass.
Two seconds later, zombies followed him out, rushing down the street in a formidable group!
Why were there so many zombies hiding in the pharmacy? Si Nan’s heart skipped a beat. He grabbed onto the rope of the grappling gun, only to hear Guo Weixiang shouting without even looking up, “I can handle them! Don’t come down! Stay up there!”
The speed of Guo Weixiang’s hundred-metres-dash was not something the zombies could catch up with. Like an illusion, he dashed across the street, running into the construction site. Leaping over a pile of sand, he left the zombies far behind, then sped towards the walkway behind the hospital where the rope of the grappling gun was.
However, at that moment, he made a mistake.
Between the construction site and the hospital was a brick wall, and at the corner of the wall was a door for people to pass through.
Guo Weixiang had left through the door, but perhaps he wanted to save some time, or perhaps he had too much confidence in his dexterity, when he rushed over to the wall, without even thinking, he leapt up onto the top of the wall, landing heavily—
With a weight of eighty kilograms plus forty kilograms worth of equipment, along with the earth-shattering force in the jump —
The brick wall hastily piled up by the construction company as a barrier was not like the obstacle wall the special force soldiers used during training. It was unable to withstand the force exerted on it, and collapsed with a loud crash.
Guo Weixiang had no time to react. He and his equipment were now buried under the bricks!
This was way beyond what Si Nan had expected. During the first two seconds, he did not react, and then he heard Dr. Zheng yell, “Oh no!”
They watched as the zombies were drawn to the scent of fresh blood, stumbling their way into the construction site, moving step by step closer to the pile of bricks. As for Guo Weixiang, he tried his best to crawl forward, poking his bleeding head out from the bricks, and it looked like he would soon be caught by the zombies.
Si Nan yanked out the handgun from his thigh holster, tossing it to Dr. Zheng. Grabbing the rope of the grappling gun, he spoke succinctly, “Take care of the group.”
Dr. Zheng fumbled as he caught the gun. In a blink of an eye, Si Nan vanished from his sight. When the doctor looked down, Si Nan had appeared on the ground, running straight into the construction site.
“Why did you come?!” Guo Weixiang gasped. Without a word, Si Nan grabbed his hand and dragged him out.
In a hurry to escape, Si Nan didn’t hesitate. Even if Guo Weixiang was a sumo wrestler stuck under a truck, at that moment, Si Nan would still be able to drag him out alive. However, he did not expect that with his bout of strength, Guo Weixiang would scream painfully, “—Ah!”
“What happened to you?”
Guo Weixiang’s face was ashen, beads of sweat dripping off his face. Bearing with the pain, he shook his head, “Don’t bother about it, hurry!”
With a few shots, Si Nan killed the zombies within a twenty-metre radius of them. Steeling himself, he dragged Guo Weixiang out from the rubble, only to see blood streaming down his calf, and his ankle at a weird angle — it had dislocated.
The two people cooperated very well together, with great coordination. Si Nan stood up, shooting the zombies, while Guo Weixiang fell sitting onto the ground. He grabbed his ankle, gritted his teeth, and with a crack, he shifted the joint back into position.
“OK! Hurry, run!”
From the rooftop came the group’s anxious shouts.
Si Nan supported the sweating Guo Weixiang with one hand as he fired at the hoard of zombies drawing closer with the other, moving towards the back entrance of the hospital. However, a dislocated ankle that had just been popped back was not able to bear much weight. No matter how hard Guo Weixiang tried to move, his speed was limited. Not only the zombies spilling forth from the pharmacy were drawing close, even the zombies from the nearby streets had detected the scent of Alpha pheromones in the freshly spilt blood, and they also headed towards them.
Bang! Bang bang!
Guo Weixiang gritted his teeth as he fired at the few zombies coming from the right. He yelled, “Don’t bother about me anymore, I can’t climb the rope!”
Amidst the shots from the guns, Si Nan shouted, “Just bear with it for a little more, Zhou Rong is back!”
“I can’t bear with it anymore—!” Guo Weixiang roared right into Si Nan’s ear. “Don’t get dragged down by me! Quick, run! Take the inhibitors!”
The zombies surrounded them. Guo Weixiang braced himself. He struggled free from Si Nan, pushing him forcefully ahead. “Hurry up and leave!”
Si Nan stumbled, firing his gun at the first few rows of zombies, then turned, wanting to carry Guo Weixiang on his back. However, there was no way he could lift a person as heavy as Guo Weixiang in a fireman’s carry, and furthermore, the latter was uncooperative, struggling as he swore, “Fuck off! Hurry up and fuck off! I don’t fucking know you, why the fuck aren’t you leaving—!!”
Bang bang bang bang!!
Bullets sprayed wildly. Guo Weixiang shot a path through the zombies huddling around, then pushed Si Nan hard in that direction. “Hurry up and get lost! Quickly!”
Si Nan ran a few steps, only to stop. He turned and looked at Guo Weixiang’s calf that was covered in blood, his amber eyes contracting wildly.
While trying his best to move forward, Guo Weixiang cursed Si Nan wildly. However, under the non-stop hail of bullets, his yells and shouts could not be heard clearly.
Zhou Rong, Yan Hao, Chuncao, Ding Shi, and the already dead Zhang Yingjie… Among the flying bullets, the images of those people laughing, joking and fighting next to each other flashed by like a zoetrope, gradually melding with Guo Weixiang’s image that was yelling away.
Si Nan’s lips trembled faintly. His chest heaved, and from the back of his waist, he drew a military dagger.
Guo Weixiang suddenly smelled something sweet.
This scent was soft and ethereal, yet was highly penetrative, instantly concealing the thick smell of gunpowder in the air.
At this juncture of life and death, he did not immediately recognise this scent. However, in the next moment, he turned his head unconsciously—
Si Nan strode close, his face paper white, his steps starting to falter.
On his exposed left arm were seven or eight long cuts left by the military dagger. They criss-crossed, blood dripping from it.
Guo Weixiang was in disbelief, mumbling as though he was in a dream. “… Si Nan…?”
Si Nan’s feet paused, and he shot forward!
The zombies discovered an even more enticing, delicious-smelling target, moans and shrieks bursting out from them. In front of their shrivelled, outstretched arms, Si Nan was like a raptor unafraid of death, heading straight towards the spot next to Guo Weixiang, where there was the highest concentration of zombies.
A second later, he leapt up, stepping right on the zombies’ heads!