(This chapter too was dedicated to Paj, I apologize for the delay but thank you for your kind support previously, hope you will enjoy this chapter too. =) )
“Back then in the 13th street of Jinyong, Hong Jie led us with machetes and fight all the way from the start of the street till the end, the whole street was covered with blood and no one dared to come after us anymore!”
At the evening celebration dinner, in an overly excited narrative by Brother San, after he had a few drinks. The crowd learned the story of Hong Jie.
Jinyong 13th street, Gu Ning had also heard about it, that neighbourhood was notoriously chaotic and all parents at home would definitely warn the children not to go to that area. It was named after the thirteen streets that intersect each other, twisting and turning like a maze, so that anyone who did not live in it, or who entered it, would surely get lost. Due to its unique geographical location and low rent, more and more gangsters, prostitutes and drug dealers had established in the thirteen streets of Jinyong. Eventually, Jinyong 13th street had become an indelible stain on the city. Li HongJuan was once a famous female gangster on the 13th street of Jinyong, born and raised on the 13th street of Jinyong. She didn’t become a prostitute or a drug dealer but succeeded in becoming a female gang leader and the most powerful kind of gangster. She had a very common and somewhat rustic name, Li HongJuan, but had another particularly overbearing nickname, Hong Jie.
Gu Ning also finally knew how her parents plus Hong Jie’s middle-aged trio had made it all the way to the colony safely.
Hong Jie gulped down a mouthful of liquor and sneered after a tsk: “The best gangsters are still gangsters, what’s the point.”
A look of reminiscence appeared on Brother San’s face as he sighed: “Back then, Hong Jie, you said the same sentence and asked me to go to the army.”
Hong Jie glanced at him and replied: “If you hadn’t been told to go to the army back then, you would have rotted in some stinking ditch, and how would you still be here drinking and boasting while having so many underlings?”
“What underlings, Hong Jie, these are my soldiers and not some gangsters.” Brother San said with some resentment: “Do you think I didn’t know back then that you casually sent me off to be a soldier because you wanted to run off with that man?”
When Brother San spoke of that man, the smile on Hong Jie’s face faintly froze for a moment before she suddenly slapped the back of Brother San’s head and yelled: “You, Xie AiGuo, is it that now you have so many underlings under your hand, and you don’t respect me, your old boss, in your sights anymore?”
Rubbing the back of his head, Brother San seemed to realize that he had spoken the wrong topic, so he picked up his glass of alcohol and said to Hong Jie: “Hong Jie, I was wrong! I’ll finish this glass, don’t be angry!” After saying that, he drank that shot of liquor in one gulp and said while gritting his teeth: “This Wang JiZhong, he actually hid so much liquor, too bad he didn’t have the chance to enjoy it, it’s really a good bargain for us.”
Hong Jie snatched the glass of liquor from Brother San’s hand and placed it on the table with a clang, then said: “That’s not how you drink alcohol. Don’t you have to go out tomorrow to continue killing zombies? How can you go out if you’re drunk? Stop drinking, eat more meat.” She placed a piece of chicken leg meat in Brother San’s bowl.
Not sure if Brother San drank too much and started getting emotional and actually shed tears at the piece of chicken leg meat in his bowl: “Hong Jie, I’ve been looking for you since then. I’ve asked a lot of people to help me locate you, but I couldn’t find you. I didn’t want to do anything, but just checking on how you are doing over the years and if that man treated you well……”
The atmosphere at the dining table was a little strange.
Not to mention Gu Ning, even the soldiers who had been with Brother San for several years had never seen Brother San like this before. They glanced at Brother San and then at Hong Jie with strange expressions on their faces.
Hong Jie didn’t respond to this sudden “confession” from Brother San, she didn’t even raise her eyebrows and after taking a sip of liquor, she glared at the soldiers and ordered: “What are you all looking at? Your boss is drunk, why don’t you all go send him to rest?”
Several soldiers hurriedly went to help Brother San.
Brother San was really drunk, his face didn’t turn reddish from being drunk, and was just like a normal person. When the soldiers grabbed him, he made a scene: “I’m not drunk! What are you doing? Are you guys going to rebel?!”
Zhang XiaoBai glanced at Hong Jie helplessly and asked: “Hong Jie, look at this……”
Hong Jie raised her eyebrows and seems quite fierce: “Xie AiGuo, why can’t you go and rest huh? What’s with the drinking? If you pretend to be crazy by drinking again, do you believe I’ll beat you to death?!”
Brother San didn’t dare to make any more noise and was quietly dragged back to the room by some soldiers.
Everyone, including Gu Ning, sighed in amazement at Hong Jie’s impressive power over Brother San.
Hong Jie stuffed down a piece of chicken and said in a slurred voice: “You think you’re so great after being a b*llshit company commander.” The wound on her face was treated by Huang MengYao leaving a yellow mark of iodine, her red hair was neatly combed and pinned behind her ear. She really didn’t look like the Li HongJuan that had been her parent’s neighbours for the past several years and of course, they didn’t know the “hidden identity” of Hong Jie either. Also, the usually so “mighty” looking Brother San when faced with Hong Jie, he became such a “good boy” which makes everyone inexplicable sigh in awe.
Mother Gu couldn’t help but ask: “HongJuan, you really used to be a triad, huh?”
Hong Jie laughed and replied: “What triad. It’s just to mingle and survive on 13th Street. I have no choice, even if you don’t bully others, others will still bully you. Then I just simply choose a side and at least I would not be bullied by others.” Then she continued: “Sister Jiang, don’t let me scare you. I stopped doing this for a long time ago, I’m no different from you.”
“I’m afraid of nothing.” Mother Gu smiled, however, she pointed at Gu Ning: “My daughter is as good as you were back then, isn’t she?”
Hong Jie glanced at Gu Ning and replied with a smile: “Much better than me.”
Mother Gu said: “Hmmm, you do have a good temper. In the past, when you quarrelled with those neighbours, I never saw you resort to fighting instead.”
Hong Jie laughed and replied: “Did you ever see me lose a fight in quarrelling? It’s too much of a bully to fight when you win. If I lose an argument, you’ll see me make my move.”
Mother Gu was stunned for a while before laughing at the response.
All the people who had been listening were also amused.
At the end, when Hong Jie wanted to clean up the leftovers, the soldiers firmly refused, even Brother San had to refer to her as Hong Jie, thus they didn’t dare to let her clean up.
Hong Jie was also happy to be left alone.
When Wang JiZhong died, the building he had occupied naturally went to Brother San.
The children had their first full meal since the post-apocalyptic world and went to bed early after eating happily. Wang JiZhong had stocked up on some warm clothes and now were covered the children with them, so they should have a good night’s sleep.
Taking into consideration that they had to go out hunting tomorrow.
The soldiers were all very happy, but at the same time restrained themselves and didn’t drink too much.
Gu Ning had also drunk a bit this evening, and at this time, lying on top of the blanket spread on the floor, listening to the rustling whispers in the room. With the soft breathing of her parents who were already asleep next to her, she felt very peaceful.
In the darkness, she raised her hand to check on the watch, it was only 6 pm, and it was already dark outside. Neither those who had gone out last night nor those who had stayed behind had much rest yesterday, thus it was the right time to go to bed after having a good meal and alcohol.
She lightly got up, slowly crossed those bodies in the darkness, and then walked out of the room.
In the living room, Hong Jie was still sitting there taking small sips of liquor, not expecting Gu Ning to come out suddenly, she froze for a moment before saying in slight embarrassment: “It’s been a long time since I have a drink, to relieve my addiction.”
Hong Jie interrupted her: “Just call me Hong Jie just like they do.”
Gu Ning smiled: “Hong Jie, I’m going out for a bit, so I’ll leave my parents in your care. If they ask, please help me explain Hong Jie.”
Hong Jie didn’t ask her what she was going out for, she just replied: “Got it, go ahead and be safe.”
Gu Ning relaxed and smiled a little before saying: “Alright.”
Although she had been her neighbour for several years, Gu Ning had never spent more than three minutes with Hong Jie, nor did she speak more than ten words at a time. Otherwise, she probably would have been able to spot something extraordinary about her sooner. Yet perhaps, at that time she didn’t care if Hong Jie was extraordinary in any way either. Gu Ning smiled, then walked into the storage room in the backyard, and after locking the door, she entered her space with a thought.
After swallowing that crystal core, she didn’t develop her powers. Having experience from last time, Gu Ning probably guessed the changes would happen in the space instead, but even so, she was still surprised by the grass that grew over a meter high near the shore.
With difficulty, she plucked away those grasses that rose as high as her shoulders and when she reached the beach, she tested out the water temperature with her hands. Then she took off the clothes and shoes she was wearing and stepped into the water.
With a leap, she swarms into the water like a fish, her eyes open under the water without any discomfort. After holding her breath for a while, she was amazed to find that she could actually breathe in the water. What a wonderful feeling, it felt as if she had become a fish, her legs were like a fish’s tail, she could swim long distances with just an easy swing. The water was very clear, and it look very deep, that it was basically impossible to see the bottom. There were no fish, no corals or plants, no sands or stones, it was all water and only water.
Xiang Xu had said before that the psychic energy in her body was like a lake, so Gu Ning had a bold guess, was it possible that this green ocean was her psychic energy? Yet after swimming for half a day, she did not find any difference between this water and ordinary water, nor could she see any kinds of speciality.
Gu Ning walked out of the water after swimming for a while, the water droplets on her body flowed down her skin and into the ground, and not a single drop remained on her.
After dressing, she didn’t linger any longer. She adjusted the golden pointer and opened the door and left the space. Entering back into her bedroom, she glanced at the wall clock and it was seven in the morning.
She changed into a clean set of clothing before going out.
Father Gu was reading the newspaper and eating breakfast at the same time, when he heard the door open, he looked up and spoke: “Come and have your breakfast after washing up.”
Mother Gu chimed in: “Hurry up, it’s better to go early than be late. Don’t be late on your first day, or they won’t be happy.” She was obviously very nervous about Gu Ning’s new job.
Gu Ning had come from the post-apocalyptic world and had a particularly strong feeling of such peaceful happiness as if the nerves that had been tense in the post-apocalyptic world were instantly loosened. She couldn’t help but reveal a smile and replied in an energetic voice: “Yes! I will give all my best!”
Father Gu and Mother Gu looked at Gu Ning in surprise, then glanced at each other before both laughed.
“Have you brought everything?! Make sure you make a good impression on your first day there. Teach the children well ah.” Mother Gu kept sending Gu Ning to the door, and couldn’t help but shout at Gu Ning who was descending the stairs.
“Don’t worry Mom. Don’t wait for me for dinner tonight.” Gu Ning waved at Mother Gu before disappearing around the corner of the house.
The door to the house next to them opened and a middle-aged woman asked in surprise: “Gu Ning found a job so soon?”
Mother Gu smiled and replied: “Yes, it is. A home tutor, and a pretty good deal too.”
“Aiyo, that’s really good then.” The middle-aged woman smiled and then asked tentatively: “I’ve noticed that there was a man who drove a car to pick up your Gu Ning yesterday, is he Gu Ning’s boyfriend or someone else? I haven’t seen him before.”
Mother Gu was stunned for a while before replying with a smile: “You mean Fang Fa? Oh, that’s our Gu Ning’s friend, not a boyfriend, don’t get it wrong.”
The middle-aged woman’s eyes rolled for a moment and she said half-jokingly: “Not a boyfriend, huh? Then if Gu Ning doesn’t like him, can introduce him to my FanFan then.”
Mother Gu froze for a moment, not knowing how to reply.
Just as she wanted to excuse herself, she heard a voice interrupting: “Yang DongYan, isn’t your FanFan seeing a guy? Why are you *looking at the pot while eating from the bowl, you want her to *have a foot in two boats? Be careful, don’t splitting her legs.”
(T/N: 吃着碗里的还看着锅里chī zhuó wǎn lǐ kàn zhe guō li translated as eating the bowl of food while watching the pot means having something in own hand but also thinking about getting more.
脚踏两只船Jiǎo tà liǎng zhī chuán translated as having one’s feet in two boats means to cheat on somebody.)
The middle-aged woman snapped at the woman leaning against the door while munching on seed and her face had a sarcastic expression: “Li HongJuan where did you hear that gossip again? You can eat things randomly but you can’t spurt nonsense. Don’t tarnish our FanFan’s reputation!”
Li HongJuan emptied all the seed shells into the bin by the door and replied: “Oh, so the woman I saw kissing a man last night when I went down to take out the trash wasn’t your FanFan?”
“I’m too lazy to talk to you!” Yang DongYan glared at Li HongJuan in annoyance before turning around and slamming the door close.
“Mom! You’re meddling again!” A young woman’s impatient voice came from Li HongJuan’s house.
Li HongJuan gave a smile to Mother Gu before she was ready to enter back to her house.
Mother Gu called out to her: “Alas, HongJuan! Neither Gu Ning nor Old Gu will be back for lunch today, so if you and your daughter don’t mind. I’ll stir-fry two small dishes for us to eat casually.”
Li HongJuan froze for a moment, obviously not expecting why Mother Gu wanted to invite her for a meal all of a sudden, but seeing the somewhat expectant smile on Mother Gu’s face. As well as Mr. Gu who usually greeted her pleasantly and took the initiative to greet her every time she saw her, she was unexpectedly unable to reject her and just nodded in an awkward manner: “Then thank you for all the trouble.”
“Hey! Great! Then don’t cook at noon, wait until I come over to get you guys!” Mother Gu chimed happily.
Li HongJuan was a bit overwhelmed by Mother Gu’s sudden enthusiasm, so she responded with a few words and went back home, full of doubts.
“Why did you suddenly want to invite her over for a meal? Don’t you dislike her?” A somewhat puzzled Gu SiYuan asked when Mother Gu returned home, after hearing the conversation taken place outside.
Mother Gu sighed: “Alas, *one can at most know men’s faces but not their heart. I was wrong to blame her previously, yesterday I heard her arguing with the people in the building next door, over our NingNing.” Mother Gu recalled about what those people gossiped about Gu Ning and getting slightly teary then continued: “In the future, we need to hang out with Li HongJuan family more, it’s quite sad to be a widow and have to take care of a daughter.”
(T/N: 知人知面不知心 zhī rén zhī miàn bù zhī xīn means it is impossible to judge a man’s heart from his looks. )
Gu SiYuan first froze for a while, then shook his head and replied: “You ah, I’ve already said that a woman who hasn’t remarried for an unrelated child for so many years can’t be any worse. You just listened to other people’s gossip and believe that she was not of good character. How shallow!”
Mother Gu nagged instead: “Ok, ok, ok, I’m wrong, I’m shallow. Gu SiYuan, you have a connotation, you have discerning eyes that could tell one’s greatness mediocrity, and able to see through others thoughts at a glance. Stop dilly-dallying and put down that newspaper, you’re late for class and you’re still taking your time. Luckily NingNing doesn’t follow you, otherwise being anxious would kill me.”
Gu SiYuan shook his head helplessly, the topic was again pulled into the far end of the sky by Mother Gu.