“We’re a group of survivors and our aim is to save any remaining humans so that we can get out of this apocalypse and restore mankind to its former glory.” The leader seemed very confident, as if he already possessed the power to help mankind to advance despite these circumstances.
Kano Mai became even more suspicious, but she just smiled and said, “Thanks for your kind intentions, but I think we can handle the rest ourselves. We’ll head off now.”
“Oh, but look! Your friend is injured, so I think it’s better to go in and dress her wounds first. If she’s been scratched or bitten by any of those things…I suggest you get rid of her immediately.” He tried to reach for Ju Xinlan.
Kano Mai carefully moved Ju Xinlan out of his reach and said, “No thanks, we should get going.”
“Stop right there!” The leader’s face fell and the other men with him quickly surrounded the group. “You don’t know what sort of injury your friend is suffering from and she might very well have been bitten by one of the zombies. If I let you leave now, firstly, that would be very irresponsible of me; secondly, that would also be a threat to us. Every additional zombie in this world increases the level of danger, after all.”
Kano Mai scoffed inwardly. These men were clearly not the nice guys they had made themselves out to be. Chu Yi and the rest started becoming suspicious of the men as well. They weren’t stupid. These men phrased everything very nicely, but their overly friendly attitude was very odd and what they were saying now wasn’t even making sense.
Logically speaking, it was quite normal for any survivors in an apocalypse to want to help each other. But these men seemed way too eager to keep them here, as if they were afraid that the group would run off. Compared to their claims to be the messiah, Kano Mai felt that these people were more like hunters, except that they were possibly hunting for human survivors and not zombies.
“In that case, we’ll have to trouble you then.” Kano Mai figured that if they tried to resist the men some more, the men might attack them. These people definitely outnumbered her small group and they were also armed with proper weapons. She and Chu Yi were no match for them.
The leader started smiling again when he saw that Kano Mai had decided to be cooperative. He motioned to the group to follow him into the library.
The library had been divided into several sections and each section was for a different function. Kano Mai could see a section for medical treatment, another for food and another for weapons. These were not hidden from the site.
The men brought the group to a place that looked like a bar counter and said, “Anybody who enters the library has to hand over all the resources they have and we will reallocate them as necessary. I hope you can understand.”
Chu Yi snorted, but since they were now in the care of these men, they had no choice but to be compliant. They placed their bags on the counter and a large sized man came to inspect their items. He poured everything out onto the counter and was stunned for a few seconds when he saw how much stuff they had.
“Wow. I’m not sure if all of you were very brave or just really lucky. You actually dared to enter the supermarket and took so many items. We’ve been eyeing that supermarket for a long time too, but it’s too dangerous. There are many zombies outside and many Level 2 mutants inside. It’s practically a death trap.” The leader picked up one of the cans of food, smelled it greedily, then waved at the man conducting the inspection before stuffing it into his own pocket.
Chu Yi and Kano Mai had four bags in total and they were filled to the brim. If the things inside were to be shared by just the group, then there was enough food to last everyone for a month. But now, everything was confiscated and they weren’t even allowed to keep a loaf of bread.
“And you’ve taken a number of weapons too, I see. We won’t be taking these, you can keep them for yourselves.” The leader looked at the random knives and other household items that the group had intended to use as weapons, and snorted a little, as if he thought of them as useless.
He went on, “By the way, I’ve not introduced myself yet. My name is Reggie and I’m in charge of the security in the library. I’m responsible for the safety of everybody inside here, so I hope that we’ll get along well, please don’t make things difficult for me.”
He glanced at Ju Xinlan again and frowned. “Take her to get checked. If she’s really been injured by those zombies, I’m sorry to say that you’ll probably lose her.”
Chu Yi almost lost his temper when he heard the flippant way Reggie spoke but Kano Mai pulled him back. She smiled and asked, “Where can we sit down and rest? What time are meals?”
Reggie smiled and said, “The sleeping area is at the back, but you guys are new and you didn’t make any contributions, so you won’t have a bed. You can just find a space somewhere and sleep wherever.”
“We didn’t make any contributions? We’ve brought a lot of food with us. Don’t these count?” asked Kano Mai in a calm voice.
“These? These can’t be counted as contributions. It’s more like remuneration. We saved your group from those mutants, so it’s only fair to pay us with this food, right?” Reggie burst out laughing loudly.
Kano Mai didn’t get angry and kept a faint smile on as she said, “That’s fair. These things are nothing compared to staying alive.”
“You’re a clever girl! I like clever people, so let me tell you more.” Reggie pulled out a cigarette that had been lit before, lit it again, took one puff and snuffed it out again. “In the library, you can’t just stay here and eat for free. If you can’t gather more resources to contribute to the pile, I’m afraid you won’t get anything to eat.”
“Of course, there are other things you could do to get food and water. The men can join our team to help clear the zombies in the vicinity and protect everyone from hard. They’ll get half a piece of rye bread and half a bottle of clean water every day.”
“The women…can help to fix up some of our things or whatever they can. But they will get less in return, so a quarter piece of rye bread a day and half a bottle of water for three days. Of course, there’s also one easier method to get food, since…women are a rare resource to come by in such times!” Reggie had such a lecherous smile on his face, it didn’t take a genius to understand what he was driving at.
Chu Yi’s knuckles were cracking loudly from how hard he was clenching his fists and he would have bashed Reggie in the face if Kano Mai hadn’t held him back. It was obvious that this group had not saved them out of kindness, but because they wanted the food and resources the group had and also wanted the group to work for them.
“Everything sounds reasonable to me, except that the amount of food and water we get in return is a little on the stingy side,” said Kano Mai with a smile.
“Stingy? Miss, you must understand that food is very scarce in such times. By staying here, you get to eat something and you also get a good night’s rest. Isn’t that such a blessing? Isn’t that what a messiah should be doing?” Reggie came closer to Kano Mai, sniffed her neck and looked utterly mesmerized.
“Last question. Can we choose to leave right now?”
Reggie shook his head sadly. “I’m sorry, but the zombies are getting smarter and smarter. To ensure everyone’s safety, anyone who has entered the library is not allowed to leave without permission, or you will be seen as a traitor. And when it comes to traitors…our policy is to kill them all.”
He felt that he had said everything that he ought to, so he walked away with his subordinates.
After leaving, the man inspecting the group’s items whispered, “I’d advise you guys not to incur his wrath. Reggie’s basically the king around here.”
“The king?” Kano Mai had a mocking smile on her face as she muttered almost inaudibly, “Looks like your king is going to meet his end soon.”
They brought Ju Xinlan to get checked, and once they had confirmed that she was fine, they walked through the library to reach the living quarters of the library, which was essentially an open area where the bookshelves had been cleared. Right in the middle stood a room that had been built from bookshelves.
“That must be the palace,” snorted Chu Yi.
Chu Yi and the group were new and hadn’t contributed in any significant way, so they just found an area that was relatively clean and sat down. Chen Duo asked worriedly, “What do we do next?”
“What do we do next? We’ll just wait. Boss will find us.” Chu Yi seemed to have given up and was just hoping for a miracle. Su Jin was the miracle he was waiting for.
The rest ignored Chu Yi and turned to look at Kano Mai. She had a much better plan. “Let’s try to find out more about this place first. It looks like a safe place, but it could be more like some sort of slave factory. But since the city actually has such an organization, this might be pertinent to the Challenge.”
The group quietly went to look around to gather more information. There were more than 70 people in the library and most of them were lying tiredly on the floor. It was hard to say how long it had been since they last had anything to eat. Most of them were either rather old or rather young. They couldn’t do any fighting or patrolling like the younger adults, so it was hard for them to earn any food.
Or rather, Reggie and his team were probably not going to give these people any chance to earn food because feeding these people was a waste of resources. The fact that he didn’t just have them killed was kind enough on his part.
“At least they don’t just go around killing other people,” said Chu Yi with a sigh. That was good news to him.
But Kano Mai shook her head. “That’s not necessarily true. Almost everybody here are elderly, children or women and there are almost no young men. In fact, besides Reggie and his team, I don’t think I’ve seen any young men since we entered the library.”
“Could it be a coincidence?” asked Shen Hongjiang.
Chen Duo shook her head. She stood next to Kano Mai and said, “That’s impossible. If a disaster struck our world, then the ones who would survive the longest would definitely be young men and not the old and weak. But we only have the old and weak here, which is very strange indeed.”
“Miss Chen is right. If you ask me, I think these messiahs have killed those young men,” said Kano Mai as she narrowed her eyes. “After all, if you don’t mind, that age group makes for a pretty good meal.”
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