Chapter 4: A Sudden Turn
Obviously the words “Live Human Experimentation” weren’t good.
But the word “Vagrant” had another lexical property to it in the present era.
The Third World War erupted in the year 2044. 70% of human occupied areas were destroyed in a short five years. The damage was so bad fifty years later that the entire population of 10 billion people were squeezed and confined inside 88 enormous-scale metropolises to live crowded and cramped. It took until the last ten years for conditions to come around for the better.
Outside the metropolises was the wilderness. The wilderness was vast and empty. The land was warped to ruin by the nuclear radiation such that nothing was recognizable. It was a place completely unsuited for humans to survive. But there were a group of people who refused to live in modern civilization, or perhaps they were extremists, fugitists, megalomaniacs exiled from human society…… They made a bold gamble with their lives to wander about in the wilderness. Together they formed the concept of “Vagrant”.
The rule of the jungle was devoid of all humanity. There was no baseline…...
Related vocabulary words bounced around one by one in Xie Junping’s brain. He instantly formed a standard framework of Luo Nan’s grandfather who he had never met before:
Evil mad scientist! The sort that been popping up more and more in superhero movies.
“Luo Yuandao and his son had a falling out due to this matter. His son Luo Zhongheng, who’s also Luo Nan’s father, suddenly left home and went missing. There’s no news of Luo Zhongheng to this day. Luo Yuandao suffered from a serious case of a mental breakdown and was hospitalized for a long time. His condition has worsened recently; he won’t be able to live for more than a few days.”
Xie Junping had a toothache listening to all this. He didn’t care about all this. He was just worried about Luo Nan. Luo Nan by all means must not have inherited any sort of bad characteristics or have a warped character and so on from growing up in these circumstances.…...
This time, Yingying’s tone had actually shifted:
“Anyway, this isn’t even the most fascinating thing. Luo Yuandao was unknown in his generation, asides from that accusation of live human experimentation. But he’s related to someone else who’s actually renowned…… Yan Hong. You should know of him.”
Xie Junping nodded his head by reflex. Of course he knew of Yan Hong. Yan Hong was a famous professor of Acumen College years ago. He was world renowned. But he had lost his reputation from an issue with academic misconduct. He faded away from mainstream society. It was quite a hand-wringing situation.
“Yan Hong’s Archetype Nerve Formatting Study paper paved the way for the emergence of “Burners”. The results were revolutionary without a doubt. It's impossible to overestimate its significance. I used to be quite an admirer.”
No trace of adoration could be heard from Yingying’s voice. There was only excitement: “The problem is the issue of academic misconduct when he was 90. Someone exposed his results using Luo Yuandao’s unpublished first-hand data. That’s right. The data came from those who performed live human experimentation in the wilderness…... Your circle is quite screwed up!”
Your sister! I’m not part of the academic circle!
Xie Junping silently cursed again. But Yingying stopped gossiping; she stuck closer with real analysis:
“Luo Yuandao’s incident happened when he was 83. Luo Nan was only 3 years old at the time. The influence of his grandfather’s scandal and his missing father certainly pierced through his childhood years. How could a child understand all of this? What sort character would be manifested?”
“We can see it right now. His manner of speaking is relatively gentle. His behavior is very virtuous, simply like the model example of morality. Without taking into account the issue that this may be an act, we can filter out two possibilities:”
“One is that he’s compensating by being virtuous. He feels shame and guilt for the actions conducted by his grandfather. He subconsciously holds himself to a very high virtuous standard, cutting out everything bad.”
But Yingying immediately followed with a rejection: “Of course if this was the case, Luo Nan wouldn’t have talked nonstop about his grandfather’s notebook. There’s also likely some issue with the history of that flexible screen. What was he clearly avoiding……”
Yingying stopped explaining further. She directly jumped to the second possibility: “The other possibility is that he’s being virtuous for a mission. If his grandfather possessed some sort of charisma, or maybe he didn’t care for any preconceived notions, the event of 90 years that disrupted the academic circle must have given Luo Nan a sort of assumption or fantasy towards the achievements of his grandfather. Afterall, it was sufficient enough to exert a toppling effect…....”
Xie Junping couldn’t help raising his head and looking towards Luo Nan.
Yingying’s description was synchronized. Her voice had the same cadence as reciting a poem:
“Perhaps his grandfather had suffered an injustice? Perhaps that ‘combustion’ should have been his grandfather’s achievement? That old fellow in the mental ward who is on the verge of dying is actually a great person misunderstood and unacknowledged by the world?”
“Luo Nan’s bound to have a feeling of solidarity with these thoughts, molding a sense of having the world against him, a sense of a mission. So he’s reserved, antisocial, resolute, and vigilant. Just like an anti-hero, he has the staunch resolution to charge alone against the world’s dark plots…… Wow! Even I’m emotionally moved!”
The corner of Xie Junping’s mouth was twitching from hearing this. That person Luo Nan was still in front of him. Why is the person behind him sounding more and more like she’s writing a screenplay?
Nevertheless, youths that are fifteen~sixteen years old like Luo Nan are at a period of life when they’re filled with heroic fantasies. Look at his utterly serious appearance. Can it be that Luo Nan’s thought process is truly what Yingying says it is?
“Senior Xie?” Luo Nan asked a sentence which had the appearance of a warning.
Xie Junping only just discovered now that he had been egregiously lost his manners in front of Luo Nan while he was concentrated on listening to Yingying’s “screenplay”. What if he really gets misunderstood? That would spell the death of him.
He hurriedly returned the notebook back to Luo Nan and naturally glossed things over by commenting: “These drawings are quite decent.”
When these words left his mouth, Xie Junping felt a dried and stiff. He could not bear what followed.
“These don’t count as drawings; they’re mere sketches.”
Luo Nan maintained his politeness, but after he took back the notebook he politely bid farewell: “If Senior has no other matters then I’m going to go.”
Xie Junping’s blank expression was like a work of art. Luo Nan faced him with a nod, placed the performance drink on the center console, and got out of the car without fooling around.
He…… was clearly being doubted!
Xie Junping’s mind was really empty. He hurriedly asked Yingying a question: “Hey! Don’t I need to say something?”
“So it turns out all my saliva has been wasted!” Yingying’s words contained a tone of hateful resentment: “You……”
The noise transmitting to his ear suddenly turned minute. Yingying’s voice turned fuzzy and indistinct.
To hell with it! There’s a situation now!
Xie Junping sweated in a flash. He saw the Luo Nan had already walked quite the distance. He had to do something so he rushed out of the car and shouted: “Junior. I’ll send you off!”
Luo Nan turned his head and responded: “It’s fine if I just run. Wouldn’t Senior be inconvenienced?”
“Hic! That’s true.” Xie Junping was embarrassed. Right now it would be disastrous if he’s seen in public. He should retreat back to Mangzhong without delay. The key thing was to snip the situation in the bud. He actually needed Luo Nan to remind him of this. He’s been struck dumb to a certain level.
Embarrassed as he was, he could only follow his usual habits to try to pull him closer: “Then let me arrange a dinner as thanks later. I’ll find a place and notify you within two days.”
Xie Junping walked over upon speaking, intending to exchange numbers. Luo Nan actually didn’t refuse. The two touched their wristbands together and the exchange was successful. They even shook each other’s hand in passing.
Right when Xie Junping was mulling over further words to say, the area to the side suddenly lit up, causing him to instinctively turn his head. All he saw was an azure arc of lightning jump across. At first glance it appeared to be lightning, but it clearly was striking towards the sky from the ground according to its direction. It pierced between the layers of clouds.
The surrounding electric lit boundings appeared to warp and distort, perhaps due to the arc of light being way too strong.
And at practically the same time, his flying car Phantom emitted an alarm.
“What’s going on?” Xie Junping turned around and he walked over towards his flying car. But he only took a few steps before his internal earbuds suddenly rang with an ear-piercing screech.
He shouted loudly. He reflexively went to cover his ears, but before his hands could grasp his ears another pain was felt in his eyes. The HoloFilm contact lenses temperature increased suddenly. The HoloFilm sensed that something was strange, activating its auto-cutoff mechanism. All functionality was shut off.
Xie Junping’s sight was blurred, and his head was spinning. This was no illusion, but rather a vivid shaking, surging, and warping!
The solid ground beneath his feet instantly turned into a rocking junk boat on turbulent waves. He could see skyscrapers and giant bridges warping and deforming within his field of vision. Fiery stars could be seen floating and swaying in the distance, shining red on the unlit sky.
“Earthquake. Major earthquake!”
Xie Junping only had this thought flicker in his might for a moment. But the ground went empty before he could completely come to. His entire body dropped downwards. And falling with him at the end of the bridge was the greenbelt, the railing, rocks, and his Phantom flying car worth 500 million.
The bridge collapsed!
This bridge, known to be able to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake, was like a bunch of toy building blocks being kicked over. Half of the end of the bridge suddenly crumpled.
Xie Junping’s mind was just a sea of whiteness. He instinctively shrieked, his pair of hands clawing wildly, wishing to grab onto something for support.
He even grabbed onto something hard…… some rubble that had fallen down with him.
His hand grasped the toy. This had no significance whatsoever besides adding to his mass!
Xie Junping’s eyeballs were on the verge of bulging out, then his vision spun rapidly.
The miserable screech had just started when a stabbing pain was felt in the shoulder joint then the wrist. A great force pierced through his entire body. The direction he was falling seemed to have spun around in a flash. His entire body was swinging violently.
“AHHH! AHHH! AHHH!”
Xie Junping screeched at the top of his lungs. He screamed violently at a high pitch and he cried out tears violently. The falling bridge had already slammed into the lower levels of buildings at this time, ringing out with muffled explosions. Smoke and dust rose up. There was also the alarmed screams of pedestrians. The situation had turned extremely chaotic.
“Shut up!” A muffled voice pierced through the rumbling noise and entered his ear.
Xie Junping screamed two more times by reflex before he suddenly came to, violently shuddering. He raised his head and saw Luo Nan’s face and half a chest sticking out of the top of the bridge.
Of course, that arm that was reaching out with the utmost effort was the most important of all. It was scrawny, not thick at all. Yet that arm had firmly snatched him away from under the scythe of the grim reaper…… Hic! That arm was still wrestling with death.
It was unknown whether Xie Junping’s luck was enough.
The shock the overpass received was extraordinary. Although the bridge has been seriously warped, only the edge end area of the bridge had fractured. Xie Junping just happened to be confined to that area. Luo Nan who was only five steps away from him had come out unscathed.
But Luo Nan was only able to rush forward and fish his arm because things were precisely this way. Luo Nan didn’t let Xie Junping fall and turn into meat paste.
The situation was still unresolved. Luo Nan gripped Xie Junping firmly, but clearly Luo Nan’s strength was not enough. It would be difficult for Luo Nan to exert the strength to drag Xie Junping up.
The slope formed from the collapse of the end of the bridge was the most frightening. The angle was small, but Luo Nan was actually slowly sliding down under these circumstances. There wasn’t anything to be seen in their surroundings that could lend them strength.
The possibility of dying left a bitter taste in his mouth. Xie Junping tried his best to find something to grab onto, but his hand was struggling free, making Luo Nan hook onto the knuckles of his hand. Their hands were dangerously sliding apart.
Xie Junping saw that his body was moving downwards, scaring him into screaming and squirming.
Luo Nan had a very ugly expression on his face. He opened his mouth strained: “Don’t move. Grab my hand.”
Xie Junping was scared of his wits; how could he take in what he was hearing. He continued to squirm.
“DO YOU WANT TO DIE!”
A roar pierced his ears, causing him to violently shudder. Xie Junping looked up and just happened to see Luo Nan’s eyes.
Yingying had said that Luo Nan’s eyes glowed with light while Luo Nan was exercising. But from this distance, Xie Junping saw that Luo Nan’s irses weren’t clear. They with thick and shot with blood. There was some traces of a green-yellow mottled color. But this mottled coloration seemed to have formed an otherworldly and bewitching sight that deeply penetrated into Xie Junping’s mind.
Xie Junping was unable to describe what it was, but his heart had tensed up inexplicably. His entire body was frozen.
Luo Nan had spent a lot of energy roaring. This time his voice was quieter; it was also somewhat raspy:
“Look at your hand. What the hell is it doing!?”
Xie Junping turned his gaze to look and saw that his right hand, the one that Luo Nan was firmly grabbing onto, was curled fixed into a fist. It was stiff like a hard piece of wood. He was grasping ruthlessly a rock that had fallen down with him in the palm of his hand. The sharp edges stabbed into his palm, causing blood to flow. He didn’t know all this time.
This was likely due to psychological stress. It was so much that he even lost all sense of pain. The rock and his bloody flesh seemed to be fused together…… Fearfully they were bound together.
“Let go!” ordered Luo Nan.
Xie Junpei wanted to let go, but his normally-agile hand was completely dead frozen, making him sweat freely with urgency. He completely ignored the orders: “I. I…..won’t let go! I absolutely won’t let go!”
Luo Nan took a deep breath and glared fixed at Xie Junping: “Don’t look at your hand. Look at my eyes.”
Right now only Luo Nan shouldn’t loosen his hand, so Xie Junping listened obediently. Xie Junping acted like a marionette. He did whatever Luo Nan said.
Xie Junping looked once more into Luo Nan’s eyes. Those eyes were like a turbid vortex with their mottled coloration. His attention was firmly locked onto those eyes. Next, Luo Nan’s voice exploded directly within the depths of his mind:
Xie Junping had only relaxed a single knuckle when he felt all the strength in his body leak cleanly in a flash. His fingers loosened. The blood-cover rock fell straight down and smashed on his shoulder before falling off to the distance.
The pain woke Xie Junping. He felt his body go soft and heavy. He reflexively grabbed out with his hand amidst his own screams. This time his hand hooked onto Luo Nan’s hand successfully. This time he wouldn’t let go.
With Xie Junping’s hand sharing the load, Luo Nan was able to adjust his hand position at last to be able to properly exert force.
The taut situation was softened by this adjustment. Xie Junping’s blood congested skull started to recover soberness. The element of feeling returned a little more to his body.
The cold morning wind blew over, causing his body to sway. Noise was also amidst the wind. And amidst the wind were the sounds of explosions. Some buildings had collapsed, causing rumbling sounds. There was also the sharp sound of sirens…...
One didn’t need eyes to be able to understand all the chaos that was going on in the surroundings.
He had heartfelt thanks towards this “Anti-Hero”......Right now Xie Junping was already completely convinced of Yingying’s analysis. Otherwise, he would have certainly turned into a puddle of mincemeat among the rubble.
But he wished even more for this Anti-Hero to be able to produce more strength, to pull him up…..
Then an inexplicable strong explosion came right when he opened his mouth.