Epoch of Twilight – Chapter 21

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Chapter 21: The Landfill

 

Luo Yuan and Zhao Yali were leisurely walking along the street without saying a word.


After some time, Zhao Yali couldn’t take it anymore and said, “Don’t you have anything to say to me?”


Luo Yuan thought for a while and said drily, “Yes, please do take care of yourself.”


This man could always incite anger and hatred in others. Luo Yuan really wanted to beat him up, but sadly was unable to.


“And?” Zhao Yali said forcefully while biting her lip. It seemed that she wanted to take her revenge.  


Luo Yuan was annoyed. He looked at Zhao Yali queerly and asked, “What do you want me to say?”


Zhao Yali sighed in her heart. “Oh yes, what to say? What answer do I want? Our relationship was simply that of housemates, or just a one night stand. Furthermore, we are going to depart soon and may not see each other again. Isn’t it meaningless to hang on?”


They walked in silence, neither saying anything after that.  


The weather was getting colder a humid and cool wind blew past them. Then, the bean-sized raindrops poured down. And soon, it was raining cats and dogs.  


Luo Yuan took off his T-shirt and  used it to cover Zhao Yali’s head. “Let’s hide somewhere. This rain is too heavy.”


“Let’s go to the factory nearby.” Zhao Yali looked at the shirt above her head and felt warm.  


“Okay!”


It was an old shabby factory. It seemed to have been shut down for a long time as it had no signboard and the rusty electric sliding door at the entrance was opened widely.


They quickly ran into the factory. Nevertheless, they were both soaked to the skin.  


The light green dress was attached to Zhao Yali’s body, making its outline more obvious and seductive.


Maybe it was because they were somewhere in a hidden place, or maybe because they thought they might not meet again, but the flame of concupiscence ignited and burned fiercely. Neither of them could have said who started first but their bodies were soon stuck together. They were kissing, gasping and panting. Their skins rubbed against each other, heating up the fire even more.

 

The storm outside completely covered the sounds made by the two.


The rain gradually ceased.


Zhao Yali snuggled up to Luo Yuan. Her dress was in an utter mess.


“Will we meet again?” she asked softly.


“Of course we will!” Luo Yuan comforted her.


But was that really so?” The world was getting more chaotic each day, and nobody could say anything about their future as the mutated animals continued to evolve. Luo Yuan was uncertain. Maybe with the advanced technology that humanity had, they might win eventually. But by that time, the world would most likely be severely damaged, and the air thick with smoke.

 

Anyway, it all came down to an individual’s luck. During such a disaster, one may only struggle and hope.

 

When the rain stopped, Luo Yuan left.


Zhao Yali watched him walking away and gradually becoming a small dot. Then, she could no longer hold back her tears from dripping down her cheeks.


She didn’t know why, since it was only for a short period of time she had known him, but Luo Yuan had settled deep within her heart. Perhaps it was because Luo Yuan had always comforted her when she was alone, helpless. Or maybe it had to do with the peace and security she felt around him. Yet still, it could be simply because they used to get entangled sexually together.

Those feelings were like a firing hot volcano, violently erupting and then forced to an abrupt-end now that he was gone.


Luo Yuan walked to the highway. The mountain pass seemed to have been opened up, and there were already a few cars passing by.


He waited for half an hour until an empty public bus finally came. He boarded it, and went to sit at the back.


As the bus passed through the incident point, he saw that the two buses which had broken down were no longer there. Only the leftover blood stains showed that an incident had happened there.


Yushui City was still in depression and there was no sign of revitalization at all. Panic was still pervading the whole city.


Luo Yuan managed to buy a train ticket and check in his Zhanmadao. He turned back, looking at the city for the last time, and without hesitation boarded the train back to Donghu City.

The landfill at the east gate was stinky and with flowing sewage water. The place was overcrowded with shabby old shacks and some simple iron shielded rooms. It was an obvious contrast to the beautiful and new high rise buildings nearby.

 
Here was the slums of the city. People normally avoided to come to this place.

 

However, it gradually became lively.


Fifteen days after Luo Yuan had come back to Donghu City, the condition at the city hadn’t improved but deteriorated instead. The army and police were quite often on the streets, and armored vehicles could be seen occasionally too.


Fuel such as gas and diesel had become part of army supplies and, thus, had been taken over completely. Other than some cars from the government or the army, there were barely any other on the road.


Many businesses were closing down after being affected by increasing bills and the lack of raw materials, transportation, and electricity. As the supplies were limited, many people started to make a living by themselves. In addition, the limited amount and the soaring prices of meat and food had made some people who thought they had some fighting skills start to join hunting groups.


The landfill was a city within a city where the living organisms gathered together. For them, it was a huge storehouse with an inexhaustible food supply. Of course, that attracted a of lot of cats, dogs and rats.


However, after a few encircling and suppressing moves by the army, the larger sized dangerous animals such as stray dogs could barely be seen. Only some of the elusive rats could be found.


Nonetheless, it was quite dangerous there. Those rats were the size of a normal cat, very aggressive and quite clever. They always appeared in groups and a single bite of theirs  would make a bloody hole in the victim’s body.


Besides that, four to five rats were enough to kill a strong adult. Thus, hunters were usually hunting in groups of three to five or even more than eleven people in a team. It was rare to see an individual hunter like Luo Yuan.


He was wearing army boots, coarse jeans and a thin jacket to cover the snake scale bullet vest. He held the Zhanmadao in his right hand and walked toward the landfill.


Luo Yuan came here often and his fighting ability was astonishing. Therefore, many knew this great man and surrounded him when he came.


“Brother Luo, can you please be merciful and share some meat with me? My family hasn’t eaten meat for a few days already, and my kids are craving it. Just a leg of a rat is enough, and I’ll pay for it. It’s allright if you want two or five hundred for it,” a depressed middle-aged man said, forcefully squeezing into the circle.

 

Because of the presence of the supply and demand relationship, the landfill had become a lively market area. Every day, many were waiting to deal with the successful hunters. But it was very rare to have hunters like Luo Yuan who would receive bookings before they even went out to hunt. Throughout the landfill, there were only a few people or teams capable of something like that. And they were mostly great people, with many of them having guns.


It was now an open secret of how to purchase a gun. As long as one had some connections, he could easily get one. However, most were handguns, and it was rare to see the more powerful weapons.


“The money today is greatly inflating. I’ve got money but I can’t buy anything, so what’s the use of it?” one fat guy in a suit said scornfully. “I want to change with food. Five catties of food to a one catty of meat, and I’ll change all of them, face-to-face. It’ll be in the open.”


When the people took a look, there were four strong men with weapons standing alertly, watching over more than ten bags of fifty catties of food. The two of them even had guns at their waists.


Someone knew the speaker and said with a grin, “GM Xie, why didn’t you continue with your software company but started trading instead? Aren’t you moving backward?”


“Software Company? So what? What’s a big business? A business which can provide you food like this is the current largest business!” Xie Qifeng didn’t mind exposing his business plan as there were already a large number of such businessmen. Therefore, it didn’t matter if there were more people competing. Furthermore, one needed capital and social networks to start a business.


“I don’t need food nor money yet, I just need some gas. Do you have any sources?” Luo Yuan asked.


As the number of people increased at this landfill, it was becoming more difficult to hunt. He needed to spend a lot of time daily to look for prey. Thus, it was one of the reasons why he needed gas.


Since he knew the meat of mutated animals had some special effects, he tried to target only blue-level mutated organisms. However, the defensive power of Donghu City was strong, and the blue-level organisms were instantly killed by the army. In order to get some for himself, he had to go elsewhere.


He managed to get a car but couldn’t get gas.


“Brother Luo, you know that gas is now a controlled product. As the sea route was blocked, the crude oil can no longer be sent through there. It’s still possible via land, but the transportation isn’t easy. We should now save gas as much as possible. Well, I’ve got some left at home, but what’s the price?” Fatty Xie used to have a company, so of course, he had ways to get even controlled supplies. As soon as he started talking about business, the man’s eyes began glowing shrewdly.


Luo Yuan grinned. “As long as you can get gas, the price is up to you.”


Fatty Xie was moved and knew this was his chance to earn more, but soon he stopped himself from being too greedy. This was because many people might still have gas as they could get some from their cars, though it was precious. Furthermore, this guy wasn’t someone easy to bully. If Fatty Xie cheated him today, he might seek revenge tomorrow. And with today’s collapsing order, such a person shouldn’t be offended.


“Since Brother Luo is such a straightforward man, I’ll not ask for a preposterous price either. Let it be fair enough, ten catties of meat per liter. You may ask around for the price of gas in the black market, and you’ll learn this is definitely a bargain,” Fatty Xie said straightforwardly, patting his chest.

 
“It depends, will you deal with mutated rats?” Luo Yuan said.


“Oh brother Luo, you are ready to do it, right? Sure, I will make a phone call and get somebody to send the gas here!” Fatty Xie said brightly.


The surrounding people knew that they no longer had any chance and, thus, faded away quickly. Soon, another hunter team came, and these people went to surround them.


The deal was done. Luo Yuan walked to the stall nearby, bought a bottle of beer and chose a relatively clean rock to squat on. It was still evening, the sky not completely dark yet. So it wasn’t the best hunting time.

 
Though mutated rats came out during the day, they were most active during the night. Occasionally, the hunters might be lucky to meet some larger group in one of the smaller areas and receive great rewards for it. However, it was also the most dangerous time and it was normal to have more than ten people die.

  
During the troubled time, human lives were not precious. Because of the living pressure, the landfill kept on attracting many risk-takers.


As the day quickly darkened, the area was soon overcrowded. With the squeaking sounds coming from deep in the landfill, some newcomers became nervous and breathed heavily.


The crowd started to light up their torches, and the surroundings became brighter.


Luo Yuan didn’t prepare any torches as his eyesight was pretty good and his senses keen. With only some weak moonlight, he could roughly recognize the landscape, and it didn’t have a lot of effect on his fights. Instead, he felt that a torch might interfere during a battle.


He looked up at the sky and saw a full moon hanging, covering the ground with a layer of silvery light. It was a good day to hunt.

 
As the night got darker, the people started to move toward the landfill.


Soon, there was a scream of terror, and then a gunshot. The smell of blood started to fill the air.


The landfill had once more become the location of war the war between men and rats.


Luo Yuan continued to sit for a little longer, drank the last mouthful of beer, then simply threw the bottle away and stood up.


Such incidents occurred every day and he had already gotten used to it.


However, it was somehow different. The war had started too fast and the screaming was obviously more common than the previous times. Soon, there was a commotion. Some people ran back with terrified looks on their faces; most of them newcomers.


Then, Luo Yuan quickly walked to the front.


“Brother Luo Yuan, you came too?” a tall youth suddenly called Luo Yuan.


“Yes, what’s happening? Why are all these people leaving?” Luo Yuan knew this guy, he was known as Chen Haiyan, a ladylike name. Like him, he was an individualist. He should have learned fighting before, and was good with a knife. He was strong and if Luo Yuan wasn’t agile, he might not be his opponent. But they just knew each other from sight.


“We’ve met a large group of rats. As soon as we started fighting, many had already died. And I heard that somebody saw a large guy,” Chen Haiyan summed up.


“Oh, it was the large group of rats!” Luo Yuan was moved. “Do you mean that the big guy was the king of the rats?”


“Possibly. If it’s not, then these people won’t leave. You should know that having this large group of rats tonight is a great opportunity. I’d bet on it, we’ll earn more than enough for four to five days.” Chen Haiyan looked at this landfill filled with screams and licked his dry lips. “I heard that the price of this king of rats, the leader-level organism, is now very high. Normally when they appear, they are killed by the army and, thus, this is our only chance. I can’t do it alone, shall we form a team and ***?”


“Has the good effects of consuming mutated animals have been made known to everyone? But it’s not surprising after all. With the strong research abilities that the government has, such obvious effects would quickly become known to the public too. Even the hunters here must know a lot about it,” Luo Yuan thought.

 
He had been ready to kill blue-level organism for some time now, so how could he give up this opportunity? When he decided on it, a message came into his mind.


“Optional mission, e- level mission: hunt down and kill the king of the rats in three days. You have to kill it on your own. Mission failed if it is killed by others (Accept/Decline).”


“e- level mission, what the hell?” Luo Yuan was shocked and scolded himself.


It was his first time receiving an e- level mission. Even when he killed that giant snake, it was only an f+ level while this mission was e-.


Luo Yuan hesitated for a while, but then thought about the difficulty to upgrade and grinding his teeth accepted. It was just a one level difference! Also, just like what Chen Haiyan had said, it was the only chance. He might need to wait for a long time until he received another e- level mission. Besides, with the two light-blue equipments, he didn’t believe that he would be killed by that rat.


“Okay, let’s separate and call some trustable people over, then we can gather here,” said Luo Yuan, grinding his teeth.


“Alright!” Chen Haiyan nodded and left speedily.


Since Luo Yuan had been here for so long, he had to know some people. Soon, he found five.

These five people were from a team. They used to be security guards for some company, and they were also retired soldiers. They were very united and always helped each other, thus, becoming a relatively strong team at this landfill. Luo Yuan had saved their life once during one large group of rats’ attack, so they were quite close.


Soon, Chen Haiyan came back with another group of people. They kind of knew each other as they were quite famous. Other than the individualist Qian Dakui, there was a noticeable group of three.


Those three had a gun each, but no other weapons. Their shooting skills were very accurate and their leader was a middle aged man called boss Zhou. It was said that he used to be in a gang, and was very stubborn, intractable and emotional. He would kill anyone who disagreed with him. Therefore, none dared to look for trouble with him.

     
Luo Yuan slightly raised his eyebrow, feeling somewhat uneasy with this cooperation.


The screams of terror kept coming from the landfill, and more people were retracting!


“Everyone should know the others. With limited time, I will cut it short.” Chen Haiyan looked toward the noisy area in the far distance and said quickly, “You should know the price of the king of rats, and I believe that many are targeting it.”


“Stop talking about this nonsense. Let’s talk about dividing the prize to prevent misunderstandings later,” Qian Dakui said, interrupting. He was tall and strong, and his height was about two meters. He held a big hacking knife in one hand and a shield of one meter height in the other. The shield was apparently customized as there were seven sharp blades welded onto it. One hit by such a shield, and one may soon die.


Chen Haiyan looked at him, anger passing over his eyes for a second. He then said, “Talking about dividing, let me clarify first, this is our first cooperation and we don’t know much about each other yet. In order to avoid misunderstandings, I would suggest that we divide evenly and the person who kills the king of rats will have two portions. If there’re no other questions, we will start now to prevent the king of rats from being killed by others and us receiving nothing.”


None disagreed as it was a team formed at the last minute. As they didn’t know each other much, such division was more suitable.


“We accept even division, but let me clarify first, if someone doesn’t work for it, he’ll be out,” Boss Zhou said, looking at everyone.


“Okay, let it be so,” Qian Dakui agreed.


Luo Yuan also nodded in agreement.


The people brought in by Luo Yuan, they had naturally let him become their leader.

The operation had gathered a total of 11 people. Though they looked like a team, they were not of one body, and they didn’t have any teamwork. However, they were all considered as strong men at the landfill. Once they walked into the landfill, they quickly went forward.


Small sized mutated rats couldn’t hinder their steps as they were killed the moment they got in the way.


Since the target was the king of rats, nobody picked up the normal mutated rats in order not to burden themselves. When some people saw that they might get some advantages, they followed after them. Soon, the team expanded like a rolling snowball.

 

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