The next day was a cloudy day, with large overcast clouds stretching across the sky, behind which a heavy rain seemed to be brewing before it fell.
After inquiring from Zhang Yang about Brother San’s residence, Gu Ning left the dormitory with her gun on her back.
When Brother San escaped from the army, he brought out more than thirty soldiers, but now there were only twenty-three of them left including himself.
They occupied the ground floor of the teachers’ building.
Even at this hour, there were two soldiers with guns standing guard at the entrance to the building.
Before Gu Ning could introduce herself, a young soldier in his twenties with particularly fair skin standing guard had his eyes lit up and stared at Gu Ning and asked: “Are you Gu Ning? Here to visit our Third Company?”
“Zhang XiaoBai, how many times do I have to tell you to refer him as Brother San! Brother San!” Another slightly older soldier who looked to be around twenty-five or twenty-six years old, said with a helpless look on his face, before turning to Gu Ning again with shining eyes and asked: “You’re Gu Ning?” Looking at Gu Ning’s outfit, a tracksuit, topped with blonde hair, a very fair face, and carrying a gun on her back. These were a few points that Brother San had reminded him about, so it should be correct.
“You’ve come at the right time, if you were a little later, we would have left!” The soldier named Zhang XiaoBai replied.
“Leaving?” Gu Ning asked.
Zhang XiaoBai replied: “Yup. We have a small group that goes out daily to search for other survivors out there.” Speaking halfway, he gave a slight pause and looked at Gu Ning gratefully before continuing: “We all heard from Zhang Yang that if it wasn’t for you yesterday, not only Zhao Jie and the others, but even Brother San and the rest might not be able to return.”
The slightly older soldier also cast a grateful glance at Gu Ning.
Gu Ning was slightly speechless.
Although they had left the army, they continue to search for survivors and brought them back safely to the colony. For them, there was no benefit to be gained from this matter, but they were still holding onto their vocation as a soldier before the apocalypse happened as to protect the people.
Gu Ning stared at the soldier standing in front of her, who looked younger and talks about going out into the danger and search for more survivors without any complaints, but with the feeling that it was a matter of course.
Suddenly, Gu Ning felt dignified respect for them.
“Let me bring you in.” Zhang XiaoBai said enthusiastically, before leading Gu Ning into the corridor: “Zhang Yang said that you just learned how to shoot, but your shooting accuracy is even better than Luo Long’s! When Zhang Yang said so, I wasn’t convinced by it as he likes to exaggerate things as he spoke, but then I believed it when Luo Long also said the same thing. How did you manage to do that?”
What surprised Gu Ning a little was that there were only two rooms where the soldiers lived on this floor, the other rooms were occupied by children. The floor was covered with messy quilts or clothes, and the children slept on these. Each room contained almost twenty to thirty children, most of them were sleeping at this hour, yet some of them woke up early and were unusually well behaved. None of them cried and they were just looking curiously at Gu Ning, a stranger, with their pairs of dark and bright eyes. “They are all orphans who lost their parents.” Zhang XiaoBai took the initiative to introduce them: “Brother San said that children are the future of the world, and saving one means giving the world one more chance of hope in the future. I think Brother San is quite correct. Anyway, we have extra rooms here, so we gather all the children here, they are all very well behaved and never give us any trouble. Also, kids don’t eat much too.” At this point, his voice gave a slight pause and his brow furrowed slightly as he continued: “It’s just that the weather is getting colder and when the winter finally arrived, these children have no clothes to wear, and I don’t know if they’ll make it through the winter.”
Gu Ning glanced at those pairs of curious yet very quiet dark eyes and listened to Zhang XiaoBai’s slightly heavy words, she felt speechless.
Getting used to the indifference of people after the apocalypse started, used to the numb and cold faces of people dealing with women and children, it was the first time Gu Ning had met people who still held passion for the world. This kind of enthusiasm made Gu Ning inexplicably felt ashamed of herself.
However, at the same time, she felt very confused. Naturally, she had not forgotten yesterday morning, the man who had been shot in the head because he caused the delays. Although she didn’t know if that person was one of Brother San’s underling or not, the person who was able to shoot so decisively at that time should be ruthless in Gu Ning’s level of understanding, and not someone who would take care of orphans.
Gu Ning was unable to grasp Brother San’s character.
Gu Ning was being led by Zhang XiaoBai to meet Brother San who was checking the guns and ammo.
There was a slight surprise at Gu Ning’s arrival, but he didn’t stop and continue his work while asking her: “Gu Ning? Any problem?”
Gu Ning first scanned the area, it was no different from the room where the children lived, but the clothes and quilts spread on the floor were thinner than the room where the children slept.
The ten or so soldiers were crammed into a room, and everything that could be moved in the room was shifted away to the aisle for making more walking space. Most of the soldiers were young men in their twenties and had heard of Gu Ning’s “heroic deeds”, so they were all glancing at her with curiosity.
Gu Ning gave them a slight nod as a form of greeting before answering Brother San’s question: “Well, there are a few very important questions that I would like to ask Uncle San.”
Gu Ning’s expression was so serious which made Brother San became solemn. Thus, he put down his gun, stood up, and replied to Gu Ning: “Let’s go, go out and chat.”
The two of them walked to the other end of the corridor and stood at the small balcony. Brother San pulled out a small metal box from his inner pocket, in which there were about ten cigarettes left. He took out a half-smoked cigarette, lit it with a lighter, took an intoxicating puff, and then put it out before keeping it back in the small metal box. He let the puff stay in his mouth long enough before letting it out of his nose. He squinted his eyes, an expression of enjoyment spread on his face before he cursed: “D*mn, cigarettes are harder to get than drugs these days.” After cursing, he then asked: “What is it? Speak then.”
Gu Ning had thought of the wording on the way here and asked: “I have a question. If, right now the apocalypse didn’t happen, and Brother San, you’re still in the army. If I want to get into the army to learn combat skills, what should I do?” Gu Ning emphasized the word if.
Brother San paused for a moment at Gu Ning’s very strange question then replied: “Is this the very important question you’re talking about? What kind of a question is this? Are you joking with me?”
No one could blame Brother San for such a reaction, as Gu Ning’s question was just too strange and boring no matter how it seemed.
Gu Ning couldn’t explain anything to Brother San, so she could only emphasize: “Brother San, I’m not joking, this issue is very important to me.”
Seeing that Gu Ning’s expression did not seem like a joke, Brother San then believed that Gu Ning was seriously asking him this very boring and strange question, and his reply was: “Difficult.” After saying this, there was a slight pause in his voice, before he continued: “Seriously though if I was still in the army and knew you have such potential, I would have helped in introducing you to the Five Stars Brigade. Tsk, it’s such a shame that if it wasn’t for the apocalypse, another week or two would have been the time when the Five Stars Brigade came to the army and pick people.” He said with a raised eyebrow: “Then I’ll show those sons of a b*tches who blew up the company of mine last year what it means to be a sharpshooter. Hehe!” He stopped laughing and glanced at Gu Ning and said: “Tsk, it’s a d*mn shame! Couldn’t watch the Five Stars Brigade group get whacked.”
Gu Ning was silent for a moment before asking: “What is the Five Stars Brigade?”
Originally these were kept secret, but now it’s the post-apocalyptic world, Brother San was interested in declassifying them to Gu Ning: “The Five Stars Brigade is the code name for a special forces unit in our country. Every year this group will recruit the top talents into it from every army in the country. Their recruitment is not limited to troops, men and women, young and old, but they have only one condition for recruitment, that is to defeat them. Marksmanship, close-quarters combat, you only need one thing that catches the eye of those guys and you can be one of the Five Stars Brigade agents. As much as I don’t like their overbearing and smug look, I can’t help but acknowledge that the ones that can get in, are the top talent. We are scum as we compared to them. I believe that even to this day, they are the ones who will survive to the end.”
From Brother San’s words, one could hear his mixed emotions of love and hate for that Five Stars Brigade.
Brother San gave Gu Ning one last glance before saying: “If it were the olden days of peace. You have this kind of talent, and with my systematically training, you might have the chance to be chosen and get into the Five Stars Brigade.” He sighed again: “What a shame.”
However, Gu Ning’s heart was racing with longing because of those words that Brother San had said, and what moved Gu Ning the most was undoubtedly his words that even today, they were the ones who would survive to the end.
This was also Gu Ning’s ultimate goal in this world.
After Gu Ning obtained the important information from Brother San, she bid goodbye to him and then walked out of the teacher’s building.
Just after she walked out, Gu Ning was stopped by someone.
Gu Ning looked at the person who had stopped in front of her in surprise.
The little girl who she had met once in the backfield, spread open her arms and stopped in front of Gu Ning. Not knowing if it was because of the lack of oxygen caused by running too much, her face was pale, which made her dark eyes look like a deep pool. She tilted her head to look at Gu Ning, and although her ink-like eyes managed to remain calm, her voice couldn’t contain her trembling sobs as she spoke: “Please help my brother! He’s about to be beaten to death!”
Perhaps it was because of the unusually well-behaved and quiet children who Gu Ning had just seen in the teachers’ building or because of this little girl’s “specialness”, she hesitated for a moment before followed this little girl towards the backfield.
The brother who’s the little girl was talking about being beaten to death soon was falling helplessly on the ground, his thin body curled up in pain, but no one was beating him at this moment because the group was ganging up on a…… black man?!
Gu Ning stared at the tall black man in the out-of-shape shorts and bodysuit and was wailing nonstop. Gu Ning was lost in a trance for a moment.