Chapter 146 - Raising a Big Cat in the Apocalypse (25)
Chi Xiaochi closed his eyes briefly.
For a moment, he had an illusion, and it was as though the person who’d greeted him good morning was really the person he missed so much.
The feel of the handle against his palm was still real and warm, but his hands were now empty. Ding Qiuyun’s blanket was on his body, Ding Qiuyun’s leopard was at his feet, and Ding Qiuyun’s teammates were downstairs.
He stretched, then greeted his system, the only thing that belonged to him. “Good morning, Liu-laoshi.”
The sunrise didn’t appear to be all that magnificent through the fog that diffused it, but the sunlight that shone on his body felt really warm.
Chi Xiaochi spent a moment recovering while wrapped up in the blanket, loosening his slightly stiff muscles before heading downstairs.
Yan Lanlan hadn’t dared to sleep all night. She sat there on the stairs, like standing by a tree and waiting for a Ding rabbit. Now, seeing Ding Qiuyun, she hurriedly rushed up and said, “Captain Ding, Captain Ding.”
Ding Qiuyun maintained a straight face, “Mm.”
Yan Lanlan pointed downstairs, where the scent of crispy roasted meat wafted up, and attempted to seek credit, “Uncle Luo cleaned up those hyenas from yesterday. We have breakfast!”
Ding Qiuyun spoke, “Well, if you were dragged away by the hyenas yesterday, then maybe that would be what the hyena said to its mother this morning, too.”
Yan Lanlan made a crying expression, “Captain Ding, I really know that I was wrong.”
Therefore, Yan Lanlan, who knew that she’d been wrong, was deprived of the right to eat meat. Ding Qiuyun requested that everyone eat meat in front of Yan Lanlan, while Yan Lanlan could only drink water and gnaw on dry steamed buns.
This scene was incredibly tragic.
The team members naturally didn’t hesitate to tease Yan Lanlan. They cut off pieces of crispy and tender hyena meat with a knife, then ate it along with all kinds of flavorings and sauces.
Yan Lanlan lamented indignantly, “You guys can eat, but do you have to smack your lips?”
Ding Qiuyun spoke distantly, “You’ve already been eaten by dogs. Don’t speak.”
Amidst the sound of laughter, Yan Lanlan could only work on her dry steamed bun and cry sadly.
In order to annoy Yan Lanlan, most people ate until they were overfull and had to trot around the supermarket to help digest their meal.
Ding Qiuyun and Gu Xinzhi were quite restrained with their food. They sat on top of the truck and watched from afar as the members of their team did a post-meal sports session.
Gu Xinzhi lit a cigarette and held it in his mouth, both hands placed behind him. The smoke contrasted to make his lips redder, and his teeth whiter.
Ding Qiuyun tossed a new roll of gauze to him, “Hand.”
Last night, Gu Xinzhi’s right hand had gotten an inch deep cut from the broken steel pipe. He hadn’t said anything and had simply ripped up a piece of felt to wrap around his wound. He didn’t seem afraid of it getting infected.
Gu Xinzhi placed the cigarette with smoke still curling up from it behind his ear, removed the cloth that had been stained dirty with blood, and skillfully used his mouth and left hand to wrap up the wound.
It was unclear if he really didn’t feel the pain, but he was very happy as he re-bandaged his wound, and he even put the leftover gauze into his pocket.
Ding Qiuyun pretended not to see and acquiesced to his bit of selfishness.
Recently, Gu Xinzhi had already gotten used to having to take the initiative to break the silence between him and Ding Qiuyun.
He tried his best to use a gentle tone to start up the conversation, “I’m sorry about yesterday. I shouldn’t have jumped downstairs. But I did it to save Yan Lanlan.”
Ding Qiuyun laughed briefly.
Gu Xinzhi: “What are you laughing about?”
Ding Qiuyun: “This sentence doesn’t seem like something you would say.”
Gu Xinzhi himself didn’t like making these kinds of grandiose statements, so in the next second, he spoke frankly, “k2026; Alright then, I did it for myself.”
Ding Qiuyun lifted his gaze to look at him.
“If I didn’t save her, you would’ve.” Gu Xinzhi said, “I’m not happy with having your teammates accept your kindness. Why not accept mine instead.”
Ding Qiuyun: “You’re crazy.”
Gu Xinzhi: “There’s a cure for it.”
Ding Qiuyun: “Mm, your treatment method is quite hard core. Swallowing sedatives after dealing self-harm.”
Gu Xinzhi froze.
Ding Qiuyun asked him, “Did you think that the empty medicine bottles you threw away were hidden well?”
Gu Xinzhi turned his face away, somewhat chagrined.
He didn’t feel that there was anything wrong with what he did, but he knew that Ding Qiuyun didn’t like him doing such a thing.
Ever since he arrived at Ding Qiuyun’s side, Gu Xinzhi has experienced confusion, surprise, pain, and anxiety. Bu now, he’d already calmed down.
He had to cherish Ding Qiuyun’s life after rebirth more than Ding Qiuyun himself did.
”It looks like you’re idle.”
Ding Qiuyun took out the small alcohol jug, took a sip, then plucked out the cigarette from behind Gu Xinzhi’s ear, gently dusting off the ash before sending it to Gu Xinzhi’s mouth.
Gu Xinzhi opened his mouth to accept it, but Ding Qiuyun didn’t let go and let him smoke the cigarette from his hand.
The gun-coc.o.o.ned pad of his index finger and middle finger brushed against his lips in a touch that wasn’t quite there. Gu Xinzhi’s ears suddenly turned red, but he didn’t dare move and could only sit there stiffly, quietly and obediently breathing in the smoke.
The tobacco made a few rounds back and forth in his lungs. Gu Xinzhi’s brain, which had been stirred up like a pot of porridge, also calmed down a lot.
He kept silent. After enjoying the cigarette, he leaned back to make room and said, “Captain Ding, is there something you want to say?”
Ding Qiuyun extinguished the cigarette b.u.t.t, then took out a piece of paper from a chest pocket and wiped the spot on his fingers where he’d touched Gu Xinzhi’s lips “What we discussed last night. How does Vice-captain Gu feel about taking over the task?”
Gu Xinzhi: “I’d do it even if you didn’t try to please me.”
Ding Qiuyun carefully wrapped up the cigarette b.u.t.t with a paper towel, then stuffed it into Gu Xinzhi’s coat pocket. He patted it lightly, “You can find whoever you want, or use any team members, but I have several conditions.”
First of all, confidentiality was the top priority. If more people knew, it would create confusion, and they would have mixed opinions. Therefore, potential new team members should be observed for a period before being selected. Their character, ability, and whether or not they were close-mouthed enough would all be within the scope of the investigation.
Secondly, after they joined the team, the team members had to be informed regarding the purpose of the team and the danger involved. Seeking cooperation with the army may not necessarily succeed, and their goal meant they were doomed to enter into conflict with new humans. He wasn’t allowed to lead them blindly into courting death.
Finally, to not give priority to those who had families and mouths to feed, or those who were a family’s only child.
Gu Xinzhi didn’t say anything extra after hearing all the conditions and simply said, “You don’t have to worry.”
It took Gu Xinzhi half a year to set up his team from scratch.
He didn’t try to pull anyone away from Ding Qiuyun’s original team. He slowly reached out his own feelers, penetrated into the community, and set up his own network of relationships.
Every three days, he would write a report to Ding Qiuyun. It was like the report on his thoughts that he’d written in the army before, where he would list the personnel changes, recent plans, progress on preparations, and so on.
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These reports had Gu Xinzhi’s personal style in them and were written concisely, with no redundant words. Sometimes, they came as internal electronic messages, and sometimes, they were handwritten letters.
Her voice was cold, but it sounded soft with no hard edges and slid easily into the ear, “This isn’t considered anything expensive. I’m afraid it can’t even compare to a sip of hot water nowadays.”
Yan Lanlan felt embarra.s.sed, “This is too much.”
Shu Wenqing didn’t tell her that she’d worn this piece of jade since childhood, and that she’d been caring for it for over ten years prior to her death.
She released Yan Lanlan’s hands and calmly put forward a request, “Little girl, your Vice-captain Gu took one of my team members, and we might be left with too much to do…”
At this point, she tilted her head slightly and looked distressed, “Stay and help me for a while, will you?”
Gu Xinzhi only discovered that Yan Lanlan hadn’t arrived when he did a head count just prior to departure.
Recently, Gu Xinzhi had taken over doing the headcount and other toolman tasks. Chi Xiaochi was happy remain idle and shirk his responsibilities.
He glanced at his watch, frowned, then said, “Sun Bin, go look for Yan Lanlan.”
But no one moved.
Sun Yan sighed meaningfully from his spot in the cab of the truck, “A grown girl can’t be kept at home.”
It was Sun Bin who had to patiently explain that Yan Lanlan wanted to stay and help Shu Wenqing, so she wouldn’t be going back with them this time.
Gu Xinzhi frowned, “She’s our team member. Why does she have to stay just because she wants her to?”
Sun Bin: “…… About that, Vice-captain Gu, Lanlan herself agreed to it.”
“I didn’t agree.” Gu Xinzhi said stubbornly, “Call her back.”
Shu Wenqing’s team member who’d been forcibly pulled to his team without Shu Wenqing’s consent, “……”
The team members: “……”
Everyone was shocked by Gu Xinzhi’s casual double standards, and they all looked at Ding Qiuyun, waiting for him to made a decision.
Ding Qiuyun had to speak up to break the deadlock, “Start driving.”
Since Ding Qiuyun had said so, Gu Xinzhi opened his mouth, closed it, and stopped talking.
After watching this for a long time, 061 finally guessed Chi Xiaochi’s intentions.
… He was trying to expand the narrow exclusiveness of Gu Xinzhi’s mind.
At present, it had been quite effective.
Everyone had been busy all day, and the rickety truck seemed to increase their sense of fatigue. Everyone felt sleepy, and Ding Qiuyun also fell asleep nestled against Boss’s automatic heater body.
Gu Xinzhi had never been easily affected by the environment. Instead, he bowed his head and used a pencil to draw Ding Qiuyun’s sleeping face on a cigarette packet.
The new team member was in a strange environment and didn’t dare to fall asleep so easily. When he saw Gu Xinzhi’s serious expression, he thought that he was drawing out some sort of important map and didn’t dare to disturb him, so he kept his head down and fiddled with the tip of his gun.
After a while, he heard Gu Xinzhi’s voice, asking in a seemingly casual tone, “Is there a young man in your town who is about 188cm tall, wears white shirts and black trousers, and is good at fighting?”
Gu Xinzhi wasn’t looking at him when he asked, so the new team member was left stunned for a moment. Gu Xinzhi glanced over coldly before he could react, “I’m asking you something.”
The sense of oppression that Gu Xinzhi gave off was too great, and the new team member didn’t dare to neglect the question. He thought it over carefully, “No.”
Gu Xinzhi couldn’t quite keep himself calm, and his eyebrows drew together briefly, “… Nevermind then.”
The black leopard to one side raised its gray blue eyes and glanced at Gu Xinzhi. Its tail wrapped around Chi Xiaochi’s waist, and it quietly pulled him closer into its embrace.
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