Epoch of Twilight – Chapter 55

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Earthworm

“Third level mutated meat. It’s 80 catties of food stamps per one catty of meat, and you can keep five catties for yourself,” a plump supervisor in a military uniform said with a smile while two soldiers weighed the meat.

It would be foolish to think that there was no business talent in the military. They had to raise most of their funds themselves before the mutation, so they were willing to engage in any profitable business. There was also a lot of smuggling was going on in the military since soldiers could afford to be bolder than most people. There were also soldiers who had bribed their way into the armed forces, thus making corruption in the military a common phenomenon.

Luo Yuan was slightly surprised. He had not expected blue rank creature meat to sell for such  a high price, but he dismissed that thought promptly. Rare things were usually more precious, and this meat’s value was far more superior than that of light blue rank meat. Its price would probably be inflated even further when the military resold it.

It was indeed a profitable business.

Luo Yuan did not have a lot of options. He had earned a total of 18,500 catties of food stamps plus the five catties of meat he had saved for himself. This was the first time he felt like making money was easy.

There was also a routine check. Under Luo Yuan’s imposing gaze, the soldier completed a rough check before he ran away, breaking out in cold sweat. Luo Yuan’s hiding tactic was not that clever. He had simply stuffed everything under the car seat. After all, a car could only be so big, and its hiding spots were limited. Besides, his loot was not small in size. It could easily be spotted if one checked with a little more discipline. The soldier though had feigned complete ignorance.

Before coming to the base, he had already thought of all possible countermeasures, including bribery. His threat though had been more than enough to force the soldier into cooperating. He had not expected it to work so well, but in the end he did not have to use any of the countermeasures he had prepared.

“If only I’d known, I’d have hidden more things!” Luo Yuan sighed. He’d been worried that he would not be able to bluff his way out of the check if he’d kept too many things, so he’d only hidden the dragon snake’s innards and the remaining black owl feathers. The thought filled him with regret.

At least there would still be more chances in the future.

Luo Yuan stuffed the lizard’s meat into his rucksack and left the base in his van.

When he got to the entrance of the residential area, he sensed that something was not right. There was a faint pungent smell coming from the area. He drove on and saw a crowd of people up ahead. They looked like they were watching some sort of drama to unfold.

Feeling curious, Luo Yuan parked his car nearby and got out while holding on to his rucksack. Scanning the area, he saw that Huang Jiahui and Wang Shishi were both there. He went over to them, nudged Huang Jiahui’s arm and asked, “What’s going on here?”

Huang Jiahui snapped her head back when she heard his voice, “Oh, you’re back?”

“What are you guys doing crowding over here? What’s happened?” Luo Yuan asked again.

“There’s a large earthworm drilling holes in the area, and someone fell into one of them!” Wang Shishi answered without waiting for further questions.

“Are they safe now?”

“I don’t know. People said that they heard a cry, but there were no more signs of life after that. The holes are very deep. A few brave people have tried checking them out with flashlights, but the light couldn’t reach the bottom,” Huang Jiahui said, sounding bothered. After experiencing the hopelessness of the worm tide, she appreciated the current peace and stability more than anyone.

“You two don’t get too close, it might be dangerous. I’ll go check it out!” he said hurriedly.

“Be careful.” Huang Jiahui knew Luo Yuan’s capabilities so she did not try to stop him.

He nodded and squeezed forcefully his way through the crowd despite the complaints around him. His expression changed after he took a look. There were about seven holes half a meter in diameter drilled into the land in front of him. Their walls were shiny and slick. The earlier pungent smell had indeed come from these tunnels.

“He was just walking in front of me and just like that, he disappeared. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, so I blinked, and there was this huge hole in the ground.” A young man beside him was talking animatedly, his face flushing red as he got near the climax of the story, “It’s that one over there. The rest of the holes appeared later on. I was so scared when its head popped out after it drilled that last hole. I think it’s a mutated earthworm, but what could it have eaten to become so big?”

His animated storytelling had attracted a crowd of listeners.

Two military jeeps pulled up and a team of eight armed policemen in full protective gear got out of the cars and walked over briskly. Luo Yuan noticed that two of them were holding military grade flamethrowers.

The squad leader spoke through a hailer with a serious expression, “It’s very dangerous here. Everyone move 100 meters away!”

The crowd buzzed and dispersed at once. Some people ran towards the outskirts of the residential area, but most of them stayed close enough to watch from afar. Luo Yuan pulled both Huang Jiahui and Wang Shishi into the car and didn’t stop until they were 200 meters away.

The police squad had already isolated the zone with yellow tape while snipers and heavy machine gunners were climbing nearby buildings to get to their firing points. It was evident from their apple-pie order that the policemen were used to such operations.

When everyone was in position, two policemen moved towards the openings of the holes cautiously, holding grenades.

The atmosphere became charged at once. There was pin-drop silence all around as some people withdrew even further, unable to bear the tension.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

Dull booms were heard as the third crate collapsed under the grenade’s detonation. The ground quaked suddenly and a mound appeared, a sliver of something huge popping out the next moment.

A purple snake-like creature around 7-8 meters long wiggled into the air, causing fear and panic to everyone watching. Screams were heard from the crowd while most people were stunned motionless.

Judging by the creature’s form, it had to be an earthworm magnified hundreds of thousands of times. Slick liquid dropped from its smooth skin, turning the sand into mud once it touched the ground. Everyone looked nauseous.

The surrounding policemen had an entirely different mentality though. They were only stunned for a short moment before the snipers began firing.

The earthworm was quickly shot to pieces.

Heavy machine guns and flamethrowers joined the battle as bullets rained on the earthworm.

The compressed flamethrower was a sight to behold. Two streams of flame assaulted the earthworm, causing it to catch fire at once. It seemed that it wasn’t that dangerous after all. It did not even struggle before succumbing to its death.

In barely two minutes time, the exposed part of the earthworm was lying motionless.

Several armed officers dropped their weapons and hopped on the jeeps. The squad leader signaled and two men drove while another two took out ropes and hooked one end on the jeeps and the other on the earthworm’s body, intending to pull the worm out of the hole.

They had only pulled around two meters of the earthworm out when it ended in a bloody wound.

This section of the worm’s body was around 10 meters long, but for an earthworm about half a meter in girth, this length did not even constitute one-third of its body. An officer ran towards the hole to check. His expression suddenly changed.

The armed policemen threw another handful of grenades into the holes, yet there was no reaction. After hustling for about an hour without managing to force the mutated earthworm out, the squad of eight reminded the residents to report any problems and left.

Luo Yuan, Huang Jiahui and Wang Shishi had also gone home.

Huang Jiahui sighed and mumbled, “If there’s a problem here, then I don’t know where else it’s safe anymore.”

Luo Yuan dropped his rucksack and lit a cigarette. “Now that the residential area is not safe, it’s best if you two stay at home for a few days. Especially you, Wang Shishi. Don’t go out to play anymore.”

“Isn’t that earthworm dead?” Wang Shishi asked curiously.

Luo Yuan shook his head, “Earthworms are really strong. They won’t die even if they’ve been hacked into several pieces. They might even grow into several earthworms. At least that’s the case with normal earthworms, I can’t even imagine what a mutated earthworm would do. We’re not sure yet if this creature will eat humans, so we have to be careful.”

“Okay,” Wang Shishi replied obediently.

Huang Jiahui seemed to be in deep thought. When she came back to her senses, she said, “What about groceries? We still have to eat.”

“Don’t worry about that, I’ll take care of it,” Luo Yuan said.

“You should be more cautious, too,” Huang Jiahui said hesitantly. She was well aware that even though Luo Yuan was very nice, he could also be very stubborn.

Luo Yuan seemed to think for a while before he answered, “If the earthworm issue is not solved within a few days, we’ll move somewhere else. We have two cars now anyway, so it’ll be easier to move.”

Huang Jiahui grumbled, “Right, thanks for reminding me. Why did you get another car? We already have one here. It might be a bit old, but it works just fine. It’s wasteful to buy another one. Do you still have enough money left?”

“I did not buy this car,” Luo Yuan explained.

“You stole this one, too? What if the owner finds us?” Huang Jiahui asked, lowering her voice.

Luo Yuan did not want the two of them to worry, so he said, “Don’t worry. Somebody had dumped it. It’d be a waste to leave it there, so I drove it over.”

“Brother Luo, how did you know that someone had dumped it? What if they had just parked it there?” Wang Shishi said, pursing her lips.

“Right. Aren’t you smart,” Luo Yuan scolded.

Huang Jiahui wanted to lecture him, but she gave up on the idea. After all, she had been forced to steal a car herself .

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