The newbies were scared out of their wits by what they just witnessed. A man who had been well and alive just minutes ago was now nothing but some bones and pieces of flesh. The zombies who ate him still seemed hungry and refused to leave for a long time.
The youngest one among them finally burst out crying. She trembled violently and it was clear that she had reached the point of breaking. The other three didn’t cry, but their faces were pale and their expressions were grim.
Su Jin frowned and said patiently, “Everyone, you’ve seen what just happened. It’s not easy to live on under such circumstances, but the first thing you need is courage!”
“The three of us have gone through several similar Challenges, and to be honest with you guys, this is probably going to be the easiest one so far, which is good news to all of you. But just because it’s simple doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re all going to survive it. We will try our best to help you guys, but I hope that you never lose hope and never lose courage. Otherwise, even if we help you to get through this first Challenge, you will still face the threat of death in your next Challenge.”
“What utter nonsense.” The lady in her 20s looked at Su Jin with disdain and she looked like she couldn’t stand Su Jin at all. Su Jin was very puzzled. What had he done to offend her?
“What a hypocrite. You’re willing to help us? Tsk! What about that man just now then? Did you help him? He was being eaten alive by those creatures! Did you help him? You didn’t!” The displeasure in her eyes became more intense as she scoffed. “I think you just want to use us as pawns and you’d sacrifice us the minute you face any danger, right?”
Su Jin was speechless for a moment. What sort of logic was that? The man was the one who insisted on leaving even though the situation had already been explained to him, and Su Jin had also tried to convince him not to leave.
“Miss, my friend tried to convince the man not to leave earlier but he refused to listen. How could you call my friend a hypocrite?” Chu Yi started getting annoyed.
The woman’s eyes were bulging as she spoke in a sarcastic manner, “Tried to convince? You knew very well that there’s real danger out there and you could have forcibly held him back since you’re so strong. Did you do that? You didn’t! Instead, you just watched him walk out to his death! Are you sure you REALLY tried to convince him?”
Her logic was simple. Su Jin had the ability to literally stop the man from leaving but he did not use that ability, so her conclusion was that he hadn’t tried hard enough because he wasn’t sincere in wanting to help the man. That made Su Jin a hypocrite.
Su Jin frowned. He didn’t want to spend too much time arguing with her, since he could understand where she was coming from. When he first found himself in the Handbook’s universe, he had been naïve as well. But he was also pretty sure he had been more cooperative than her.
“That’s quite enough! If you think we’re dangerous and unreliable people, then from now on, you can go your way and we’ll go ours. There’s no need to bother yourself with us at all. If the rest of you agree with her, you can go ahead and do whatever you like too. We won’t stop you,” Kano Mai suddenly spoke up. Her logic was also very simple. If the newbies didn’t trust Team Boning Knife, they could leave on their own. The team was willing to respect their decision.
This stunned the woman into silence. Leaving this safe area on her own was practically suicide. But following them went against the bad feeling she had about them, and it also made her feel like a wimp for backing down after saying such things about them.
Su Jin just shook his head and looked at the other three. “Let’s introduce ourselves, shall we? I’ll go first. I’m Su Jin, team leader of Team Boning Knife.”
“Chu Yi, member of Team Boning Knife.”
“Kano Mai, member of Team Boning Knife.”
The three of them introduced themselves very simply and did not state anything else besides their name. It was a protective measure that they had decided to take after realizing that there were too many unknowns in each Challenge, like enemy missions. It was better not to share too much.
“I’m Chen Duo, a student.” The first one to speak turned out to be the one who burst out crying earlier. She bit her lip and looked like she was trying very hard to suppress the fear she was feeling inside.
“I’m Zhang Lei, an office worker.” He was the other man in his 30s and looked pretty fit, so he probably exercised on a regular basis.
“I’m Shen Hongjiang, a university student.” The young man wore glasses and was on the plump side. He pushed his glasses up nervously and asked, “I still want to confirm something. What…what world are we in? Are we still on Earth?”
“To put it simply, this place is a parallel universe to Earth. But time here works differently to Earth,” explained Su Jin.
Shen Hongjiang nodded, but Su Jin wasn’t sure if the young man could really understand or accept what he just heard.
Su Jin then turned back to the lady who had called him a hypocrite earlier. “Miss, just like my friend said earlier, if you don’t trust us, you can choose to leave on your own. But of course, if you change your mind, I don’t mind letting you come along with us.”
He did not mind what she said earlier, since it was only normal to be terrified and be distrustful of everyone after being pulled into this strange and frightening universe. At the same time, if she insisted on going her own way, he wasn’t going to stop her. If she wanted to do what the first man did, she could go ahead.
She hesitated for a while, and finally chose to go along with Su Jin and the rest, since she wasn’t going to take a gamble on her life. She took a deep breath to suppress the irritation she felt and said, “I’m Ju Xinlan, a company director and a Big V.”
“A Big V?” Kano Mai looked at Su Jin with a confused expression.
Su Jin laughed. “Do you know about Weibo? Big Vs are people who’ve been verified. So she’s like an internet celebrity.” 1
“Ah! I see.” Kano Mai nodded. She understood that much.
Ju Xinlan said in an annoyed voice, “What do you mean by ‘internet celebrity’? Don’t use such crude terms on me. I’m just someone who speaks up on the internet for those who’ve been treated unjustly.”
Su Jin just smiled faintly. He didn’t really care who Ju Xinlan was in her universe. He was more focused on the task at hand.
He turned to discuss things with Chu Yi and Kano Mai, “At the moment, there’s no information on the Safe Zone, but I’m sure we’ll find something once we step out of this place. Mai, you’ve taken one elixir and Chu Yi, you’re a martial artist, so we should be safe as long as we don’t run into any Level 2 mutants. You two take the front and the back of the team, while I’ll clear the path in front and get rid of any threats.”
Both of them were fine with the plan. Actually, they could choose to ignore the newbies, since they had nothing to do with one another. But Kano Mai knew that Su Jin and Chu Yi were kindhearted people and would choose to save lives if they could.
“So…what do we need to do?” Zhang Lei asked.
Su Jin and Chu Yi exchanged glances. Chu Yi sighed and said, “Just stay alive. Like literally.”
Zhang Lei’s eyes nearly popped out at that response.
“Well, while it’s true that newbies aren’t very useful in a Challenge, especially if they’ve got nothing to fight with, if you’ve got a good memory or observation skills, it’ll be helpful if you could take note of anything that might be of use,” Su Jin comforted Zhang Lei.
Before heading out, Su Jin used some of the scraps he found around them to make some armor. To put it more accurately, he was just trying to cover any exposed skin up. The zombies could pass their zombie attributes on with an injury, and even though they were owners and the humans in this world, Su Jin didn’t think they had any immunity against the zombies if they were to be bitten or cut by them.
The plan was straightforward. Su Jin would hang around the group to get rid of anything coming their way. Kano Mai was the leader of the group, the four newbies would follow behind her, while Chu Yi would cover the back. Once everyone was properly briefed, they walked out of the safe area.
Immediately after they left the safe area, a large number of zombies came towards them. Thankfully, the zombies moved very slowly. As long as they did not remain standing in one place and curse and shout like the first man did, it was possible to outrun these slow moving zombies quite easily. But of course, their best defense was Su Jin.
Despite losing the ability to use his Spirit Power and equipment, Su Jin was still a killing machine in this Challenge. He managed to find a metal rod among the rubble, and he used his bare hands to flatten one end of the rod to turn it into a spear of sorts. Once he had his eye on any zombie, that zombie was doomed.
These Level 1 zombies were easy to deal with and he could earn points by killing them too, so he dealt with them as quickly as possible. The zombies were dead before they could even get within 10 meters of the group.
“Boss, leave some for me, won’t you? Look at how many points you must have accumulated by now!” Chu Yi wished he could just abandon these newbies and go on a zombie massacre like Su Jin.
“You’d better stick to the plan! You can’t use any internal energy, so you’re not as formidable as you usually are. It’s not so bad if you end up getting killed by the zombies, but if you get bitten and turn into one, we’ll be worse off.” It wasn’t that Su Jin couldn’t bear to share these points with Chu Yi, but Su Jin knew that it was more dangerous to allow Chu Yi to fight these zombies.
Su Jin’s body was so strong now that even if a lion or tiger tried to bite him, his skin wouldn’t break, so he wasn’t afraid of getting infected. But the same couldn’t be said about Chu Yi. It was too horrifying to imagine what would happen if Chu Yi were bitten.
Chu Yi was disappointed, but he obediently stuck to his post and followed behind the group. The group just kept walking on, hoping to find some clues about this Safe Zone they needed to reach.
More than an hour later, the group arrived at a supermarket. Su Jin stopped because he felt something that he never felt during Challenges. He felt hungry.
They had only been on the move for slightly over an hour, but he was feeling hungry already. That didn’t sound right.
Kano Mai explained, “Since your Spirit Power has been sealed up, you’re relying entirely on your body and you’ve been clearing all these zombies during this time. It’s only natural for you to feel hungry after expending so much energy.”
After hearing Kano Mai’s explanation, Su Jin decided it was best to get some food. The supermarket was a good place to get some, and it was vital that they got food quickly, since it wouldn’t be long before the rest also got hungry.
“Be careful, everyone. There are many hidden corners in a supermarket, so beware of zombies hiding in the shadows,” Su Jin warned the group before pushing the glass door of the supermarket open.“
But immediately after he pushed it open, something black pushed Su Jin to the floor and screeched loudly.
Most articles I’ve read online equate Weibo verification to Twitter verification, but as far as my personal experience with Weibo goes, I feel that Weibo is a bit looser with who gets to be verified compared to Twitter. That’s just my feeling, no stats nor papers to back it up. ↩️
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