Although some of them were not willing to do what they’d been told, none of them said anything. Humans were used to obeying their superiors. Superiority lay in power, wealth and primitive physical strength. In modern society, physical strength had become the most insignificant factor of superiority. It was not comparable to the other two. However, during a time of apocalypse and isolation, it was no doubt the most significant quality.
Luo Yuan was the most powerful person among the team, so naturally he was their superior. It was a mutual understanding. Even the soldiers who had just joined did not have any thoughts of betrayal. It was an unwritten rule that even their own superior, Commander Xia, abode by. Their obedience was of a higher level because they were in the military.
Luo Yuan was handling the creature he had captured earlier while the rest of them were preparing the fire. Pretty soon, breakfast was served. They sat together and ate quietly. Not many of them were talking. Everyone looked tense, and the atmosphere was heavy.
Wei Xiaohu was chewing on a plant stalk. The plant was delicious and it exuded an indescribable fragrance, but its texture was rough. It scratched his esophagus whenever he swallowed. Still, that kind of pain was nothing for a soldier who had lived their live to the fullest. Wei Xiaohu had been in the army for half a year. He had gone through three months of training and participated in seven missions. A few of them had been major battles, so he could even be considered a veteran.
He had joined the military as a refugee, just like many others. Hundreds of thousands of refugees fled to the rehabilitation area every month. There were both gifted people as well as weak and old civilians. Most of them were forced to enlist. Although Wei Xiaohu had finished high school and was working in a private enterprise assembly line at the time, he had still been considered just a soldier in the military. Much like an assembly line in a factory, there were countless soldiers dying and enlisting every day. Human life was merely a cheap consumable. The only difference was that they were soldiers, and not products.
Wei Xiaohu had been lucky that the aircraft had crashed into that forest. Had it crashed into the rehabilitation area, he could have been sent on a battle mission again. Of course, he could also have become food for mutated beasts, or an insignificant dead soldier in a military staff report.
Danger was really close, though. Wei Xiaohu peeked at Luo Yuan. Perhaps he had not noticed him, but Wei Xiaohu was looking at him with respect. Sensing someone looking at him, Luo Yuan turned in the soldier’s direction. Wei Xiaohu bowed his head immediately, trying to hide by drinking his soup. When Luo Yuan turned away again, he felt relieved. His heart was pounding, and he hated himself for feeling like that. Luo Yuan was not a mutated beast. Why did he have to be afraid of him?
Luo Yuan swallowed his last piece of meat and put down his cutlery. When they saw him, everyone started eating faster. They finished their meal within a minute.
“Let’s not waste any more time. The sun hasn’t fully risen yet, and the temperature is still bearable. Let’s get going!”
Huang Jiahui looked at the kids and felt soft-hearted. “Let Chen Jiayi and the rest stay. Wouldn’t it be too dangerous for them to come?”
Only Huang Jiahui and a few women close to Luo Yuan had the audacity to question him.
Luo Yuan looked at the three kids, but they did not dare say anything. They just kept their heads low. They were all nervous except Deng Chao, who looked excited.
Luo Yuan thought that kids were always the bravest, but they were still too young and weak. If they were to follow, they could die at any time without supervision. He nodded and said, “Alright, the three of you can stay here. Hide inside the cave, and don’t come out. Remember to lock the cabin door.”
Deng Chao and the rest nodded hard. “Yes sir!”
Everyone checked their sleeves and pant legs, tying them carefully again. Then they checked their daggers, firearms and other weapons again and again, until they made sure everything was ready to go.
It had been almost a year since the apocalypse had started, so everyone had become survival experts by now. For instance, they knew that pant legs and sleeves were entrances that creatures could creep through easily, so they had to be tied at all times. Only when they were sure that a place was safe, would they untie them so their blood could circulate better. When they were ready, everyone picked up their weapons and followed Luo Yuan into the forest.
The field and the forest were two entirely different worlds. Once they stepped inside the forest, it was as if it was already evening. The air was chilly, and they were all soaking in sweat.
As they stepped on the soft, dry leaves, many bizarre bugs and mutated creatures fled in their wake. A few of them even tried to crawl up their legs. Some of the creatures were so colourful, it was terrifying.
Huo Dong was walking in the back, his hand holding his sword really tight, his body stiff as a bow. His face was unusually tense, and his eyes were looking everywhere while he listened to the sounds all around them. He felt like this time Boss Luo was not as careful as he usually was. It seemed like he did not care anymore. Boss Luo would usually walk in the middle, but this time, he was walking in front and wouldn’t even bother to look back.
It seemed like they had to rely on themselves now, he thought distractedly. Suddenly, a strong throbbing feeling rose within his heart, at the same time that a strong wind blew from the back of his head. He got goosebumps.
“Here it is!” That thought flashed through his mind like lightning. He instinctively pulled his sword out, turned around and swung it twice without thinking. All his movements were smooth, as if he’d had thousands of years of training. A two-meter long, snake-like mutated beast with wings had been pierced by his sword.
The beast’s body was tough, so the sword had only managed to pierce through one quarter of it. The pain had triggered the beast’s viciousness. Once it landed on the ground, it used its tail to bounce back toward him. Luckily, Huo Dong reacted fast, holding his sword and leaning back. Like a leopard ready to charge, he leapt towards the beast like an arrow. The tip of his sword landed on the soft ground like lightning.
The strong force cut the snake-like beast into half along with the ground. It pierced it 30 to 40 centimeters deep. Seeing that the situation had been taken care of, Luo Yuan dropped his hands, which had been holding his weapon tight. The mission was just to test everybody’s strength. He did not want any of them to die. Luo Yuan would still take care of them if he needed to. He might not have turned his head around along the way, but his instincts had still been on alert, paying attention to their surroundings. Given his response time, as long as the mutated creatures were not too fast, he could save the whole team in a matter of seconds.
Everyone had felt something happening behind them and had stopped walking.
“Are you okay?” Cao Lin asked, turning around.
Huo Dong swung his sword a few more times to cut off the snake’s head and kill it once and for all. He stood up, his breathing a little fast as he said, ”I… I’m okay.”
His face was a little pale, but he looked excited. He had never been as smooth during training as he had been just now. He had been as smooth as flowing water. As he’d swung his sword, his entire body strength had been fully concentrated and unleashed. Although the fight had made him sore all over his body, he was still happy and a lot less nervous.
Luo Yuan noticed Huo Dong’s exhaustion, so he asked everyone to take a break before they kept going. As they went deeper into the forest, there were more and more mutated creatures making an appearance. They seemed to be in constant danger. The number of the mutated creatures made their brains numb. Most of them moved at high speed and attacked them unexpectedly. They were different from the mutated beasts near the sea in that they were much more dangerous. In only 10 minutes, there had been quite a few alarming incidents.
On one particular occurrence, the mutated creature had been way too strong to handle, so Luo Yuan had had to interfere and help them. The remaining incidents were handled by the rest of the group, though. As there was more and more danger, their insecurity faded away and was replaced by excitement. They realized that their training the past 10 days had paid off. As long as they kept improving their strength, they would get to survive longer.