Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 9: Village of the Ruined
In the midst of battle, people often needed to separate the emotional part. The battlefield changed rapidly, and timing was fleeting. If one spent too much time dealing with emotional problems and fell into a panic at an inappropriate moment, God wouldn’t be able to save them.
Shu Jun was very sober at the moment.
He tried several hibernation pods, and the feedback from the system was exactly the same. It didn’t look like it was faked. Taking a step back, even if Zhu Yanchen wanted to play a big joke on him, such a prank was too complicated. From Zhu Yanchen’s being “kidnapped” to the Corpse Parasite in the corpse disposal office, there were too many variables in each scenario.
Combined with his own situation, Shu Jun had to admit that the <Erosion> world was the real world and made the most logical sense.
He couldn’t help but rationalize his former life.
Thinking about the past 20 years of his life, he found it quite lackluster. Shu Jun was an orphan, with no memories of his parents and had been cared for by the staff of the relevant departments since he was a child. With the highly developed technology, he didn’t need to live with adults, nor was he bored being alone. Three meals a day were delivered to his door, and his home was checked regularly. Aside from going to school, he spent most of his time at home playing games—board games, puzzles, action games—as long as he could do well, he wouldn’t refuse.
He had lived alone since he was 8 years old.
He grew up normally, playing and making friends. There wasn’t much difference between yesterday and today, and it was easy to guess what would happen tomorrow. He grew up normally, and because of his outstanding abilities, he smoothly became a professional player. In his world, this life trajectory was as standard as it could be.
To say that there were any odd things in his past, he was once “blessed” in a mock battle organized by his school.
As a highly regarded national entertainment, <Erosion> also had related elective courses offered in schools. Before the age of 11, Shu Jun didn’t perform well in combat courses—not that he wasn’t good at individual combat training or lacked ideas for command. On the contrary, he had too many tricks up his sleeve and relied on his beast-like intuition to come up with unconventional tactics, which were innovative but also quite disorganized in terms of overall strategy.
His grades once reached the brink of having him expelled.
At that time, Shu Jun only found it boring. For an 11-year-old child, training close to actual combat was too boring, and he was a kid who loved to play. It wasn’t that Shu Jun hadn’t considered giving up, but he was so competitive that he didn’t allow himself to be kicked out of a course like this, so he had to muddle through uneventfully.
The miracle came in the final mock test.
It was obviously the same test as usual, but somehow, he seemed to reach an epiphany. That time, Shu Jun’s command and layout were as bold as usual, but nothing went wrong. After too long, Shu Jun couldn’t remember the details of that game; only the feeling of his heart beating so fast that it was going to burst and that his courage and confidence flowed continuously.
And a vague but firm impression—as long as he was willing to do his best, he wouldn’t fail.
Shu Jun firmly engraved those feelings and impressions into his mind, and his grades skyrocketed since then. The instructor smiled and said that he finally reached enlightenment, but Shu Jun knew very well that the feeling wasn’t a result of accumulated experience and sudden comprehension. Someone once called him, and the faint figure was hidden in the wave of strong emotions, but he just couldn’t remember it.
If he were to draw an analogy, it would be more like he had been blessed by some kind of presence.
After that, the Blackbirds, under his leadership, although occasionally trailing behind other teams in points, were bound to win in the end. He himself won many battles and eventually became the “Immortal Legend” who ranked first in single ranking.
Thinking about it now, he didn’t know how many times he had escaped death. His life was tantamount to a long pre-game training. If he really dropped out of class at that time, what would happen to him in the real world? Was that inexplicable blessing the result of outside interference and adjustment?
But one thing was certain. It had been refined more, purely by countless battles and was still in effect.
It allowed him to stand calmly, among his peers sleeping in their hibernation pods, without being crushed by the truth. He was a fighting machine made by this world, so he would win to the end with dignity as before.
He would always win.
For this reason, Zhu Yanchen was necessary. No matter what purpose Marshal Zhu approached him with, he would never let go of this valuable intelligence target—it was enough to escape alone. If he wanted to save his teammates, cooperating with Zhu Yanchen was his only way out.
As for the vague fondness for Smoke, Shu Jun decided to press it down in his heart and let it fend for itself. His world had been turned upside down, and the “Smoke” in front of him was an entirely new person—a partner who he needed to get along cautiously with—the world wasn’t in a good state, so a person who was considered a marshal shouldn’t be useless.
“Happy cooperation.” Shu Jun’s tone was relaxed. “Okay, I know what you were worried about just now. I will not collapse and go out of control here, nor will I try to take these members—just tell me the truth, since you seem to struggle for most of the day about it. I’ve almost lost half my life. There are 300 Blackbirds members. Even if you open the door and allow me to take them away, there are problems with follow-up resources and processing.”
Zhu Yanchen exhaled a turbid breath. It seemed like he wasn’t as tense as before. “Indeed.”
“If I had insisted that I will take those people, what would you have done?” Shu Jun asked half-jokingly and half-seriously.
“Blast off your arm with a purification gun.” Zhu Yanchen didn’t sound like he was joking, and he didn’t seem to have any intention of unlocking the handcuffs.
“…” That sounded like a threat.
“It’s not time to leave yet. We need…”
“We need to replenish supplies, because you can’t get back to that secret base.” Shu Jun took over. “You brought a briefcase back then, and it was full of strange things. We need clothes and have to eat… Speaking of which, is there enough for me to eat?”
An Erosion Swamp wasn’t something that could stay honest with just afternoon tea.
“Ordinary food can make you feel better. To fill your stomach, you can try the mutant beasts outside.” Zhu Yanchen tugged on Shu Jun with his handcuffs, and the two began walking towards the door. “This is the first time I’ve seen a situation like yours, so I can only guess at the moment.”
The handcuffs still weren’t unlocked, but the man’s mood seemed better.
When they returned to the roof, one of them carried a large backpack, which was bulging with supplies. The corpse handler had stayed honestly in place. As soon as Shu Jun picked her up, he was stunned by the added weight.
Wind-based abilities were convenient, but usually the Blackbirds didn’t let their captain work as a part-time transport plane.
The stronghold that the woman pointed to was extremely far away. Shu Jun had been tossed around all day and felt somewhat lifeless when he finally landed, like a wilted vegetable.
The stronghold was exceptionally run-down, and the purifiers in the surrounding area weren’t running and had lost their color due to erosion. The building wasn’t lit up, and black cracks crawled along the walls, giving off a ghostly aura. Compared to the stronghold, this felt more like the map they had previously fought on. Shu Jun was still on high alert, while Zhu Yanchen had already taken a step forward.
“You guys came on your own. The purifiers here are broken. We’re not responsible if something happens,” the woman muttered as she led them into the building.
After that, she turned her head again. “It’s too late today. Everyone is asleep, and I can’t talk to you alone. I brought you to the place. There’s an empty room on the right side. You can stay there, and we’ll talk tomorrow.”
As if she was afraid they would refuse, she ran away after speaking.
“Take off the handcuffs.” Shu Jun flung his wrist. His occupational disease instantly struck. “I’m going to follow and explore.”
Zhu Yanchen remained motionless like a rock, but not expressionless—he raised his brows at Shu Jun.
“…No, A’Yan, do you really think I’ll go crazy now?”
“Before I let you move freely, you directly restrained me and found someone to ask for the coordinates. If your mental fortitude hadn’t been decent, we would’ve already fought to death by now,” Zhu Yanchen said hoarsely.
Shu Jun laughed. “I’m actively trying to confirm the situation. Doesn’t this show that my mental fortitude is quite good?”
Zhu Yanchen remained unconvinced. “I won’t let you go for the next three days.”
“…” Shu Jun swallowed. “It’s useless if it’s only for three days. I can act, you know?”
Zhu Yanchen pursed his lips and let out a sigh, which sounded like a polite chuckle. ‘He might as well just laugh,’ Shu Jun thought. What he did seemed as if he were being mocked.
But, to be honest, he wasn’t really good at acting.
“Okay, although I think it’s better to explore the situation.” Shu Jun closed his eyes.
“I’ll go with you.”
Shu Jun looked up and down at Zhu Yanchen. The latter opened his bag and casually fished out two gun-like weapons that looked pretty dangerous. “Let’s go together.”
The imposter corpse handler certainly didn’t go directly to sleep. In the silent building, it was particularly easy to find her movements. The two of them slowed down and quickly moved in the direction of a faint human voice. Zhu Yanchen’s sneaking skills were quite good and his level of picking locks and unlocking doors all the way made even professional thieves feel inferior. What kind of marshal is this guy anyway?
The collision of handcuffs could be regarded as the loudest sound the two made.
It was quite severely eroded here, and they could barely see any electronic equipment. Without the trouble of surveillance, the two of them moved quite fast—when they caught up with the woman again, the conversation between her and the person in the room had just begun and she was still taking off her mask.
Shu Jun looked through the gap in the door.
The woman put the mask she had taken off on the table. Her face was almost swollen, full of lesions beyond recognition, and her facial features were pushed to the edge, like a pattern on an overinflated balloon. Shu Jun recognized this; there had been similar cases among NPCs before. This was one of the diseases caused by long-term exposure to the Erosion Swamp. Without exposure to erosion and by taking medicine, one could suppress it, but if they lived in this kind of place, the only thing waiting for them was death.
He subconsciously looked at Zhu Yanchen beside him. Zhu Yanchen put a hand on his shoulder and looked more solemn than him.
“Today, I encountered a Corpse Parasite, and I was discovered,” the woman hurriedly said. “Lao Wei, listen to me. They have guns, and they insist that I bring them over.”
“People from the army?” From their angle, they couldn’t see who the woman was talking to and could only hear an old voice.
“It shouldn’t be. The man wore a mask, and he sounded like he’s from the city. He also brought a… I don’t know what it is, but it’s a monster. The monster is now following him. I ask them to rest first, Lao Wei. What about our village—”
“As long as they’re not from the army, then it’s fine. Let them rest, and tomorrow we’ll treat them well. Anyway, we have nothing valuable here for them to steal.”
“But that—” The woman just opened her mouth and then swallowed back her words. Most likely, she was silently warned by the other party. “Or we can find someone to do it. Lao Wang still has guns.”
“If someone can discover you and still dare come after you, what good is a gun? If we provoke them, we might end up burying a few people. Xiao Xi, go rest first. I know you’re worried and anxious, but this isn’t something we can rush.”
The woman opened her mouth. Her face was so deformed that this action was particularly terrifying.
“Alright, I understand.” A few seconds later, she responded angrily.
Seeing her hand turn to the mask, the two people eavesdropping outside instantly backed away. The two men quietly ran away before the woman went out.
“It seems that there’s nothing wrong for the time being. For safety’s sake, let’s take turns keeping watch overnight.”
“You sleep,” Zhu Yanchen said succinctly.
“Can you hold on?”
“Used to it.” Zhu Yanchen nodded. “You’re exhausted today, so it’s better to rest early. If you become ‘hungry’ like before again, we’ll all be in trouble.”
After speaking, the man sat down on the bed, opened his backpack, and took out a few documents to read.
It seemed that even if he fell asleep, Zhu Yanchen didn’t intend to unlock the handcuffs. Shu Jun was discouraged and had to lie down on the bed. He was obviously very tired, but he couldn’t fall asleep.
The bed was hard with erosion marks along the sides, and the sheets were dusty. The air here made him feel refreshed, and the concentration of erosion wasn’t high. Shu Jun turned to look at Zhu Yanchen, who was still wearing a gas mask. The other party was sitting up straight, carefully examining the information. As his gloves brushed over the paper, it made a rustling sound that was quite pleasant to listen to.
Speaking of which, Zhu Yanchen didn’t replace his torn protective suit but just added another coat outside.
Grand Marshall Zhu wasn’t a girl. Even if he were handcuffed to him, he wouldn’t be so thin-skinned that he wouldn’t change protective suits in front of him. God knows how many secrets this guy was hiding. Shu Jun rolled over and closed his eyes.
His breathing quickly became light and long.
After making sure the person behind him was asleep, Zhu Yanchen gently put down the documents in his hand and stood up carefully. He frowned and swallowed a pill. He kept the handcuffs on as he began to unbutton his protective suit.
In order to cope with various situations, the design of the protective suit was relatively complex, and there were many ways to disassemble it, but it was still easy to get around with one hand.
He silently took off his damaged jacket, pulled a new one from the freshly searched materials, and quickly put it on. If Shu Jun was still awake, he might have seen Zhu Yanchen’s back.
The skin on Zhu Yanchen’s back was equally pale but covered with fine and dense scars. It wasn’t a battle scar but closer to a surgical scar, and several new injuries were still faintly gray. He got dressed extremely quickly, and his body was soon squared away again, regaining the neatness enough to enter a conference room.
Then he sat back down on the edge of the bed, twisted around, and held out his uncuffed hand. There was no hug and no touching of skin. The gloved hand twirled a few strands of gray hair and brushed them into a neater position.
“Good night,” he said, turning his gaze back to the document in his hand.
When Shu Jun woke up again, it was already dawn. The place wasn’t a heavily erosion zone so there was still some difference between day and night. Zhu Yanchen sat on the head of the bed like a statue. If it weren’t for the documents in his hand turning into a book, Shu Jun would have thought he hadn’t moved all night.
“Morning,” Shu Jun muttered.
“Good morning.” Zhu Yanchen turned around and stuck a needle directly into him.
Shu Jun: “……”
“How do you feel?”
Shu Jun glanced at the arm that had just been poked. His slightly dim complexion and mutated nails hadn’t recovered, and the bandaged wounds were still there, but he felt comfortable, as if he had been covered by a three-layer blanket all night, and he finally poked out his head. There was no trace of fatigue that followed him like before, and his physical condition was good enough to go to the battlefield.
“…Just a little hungry,” he added solemnly.
Zhu Yanchen pulled out a piece of compressed dry food from his backpack. “Very good. I happened to look at the data on hunger status. You can use this for now, and we’ll go hunting when we have time.”
“Now that we’re already in a hand-in-hand relationship, just tell me. Why are you here? Where is this place?”
With one hand restrained and his nails turning into claws, Shu Jun struggled to tear open the packing of the compressed food. Zhu Yanchen took the ration back, tore open a hole in it, and then threw it back to Shu Jun.
“I planned to come here from the beginning, but fortunately, I ran into people from here by chance, so I didn’t need to find the way.”
“From the beginning?”
“Well, you’re the unplanned variable.”
“This is the ‘Village of the Ruined’,” Zhu Yanchen continued to answer, putting the book back in his bag.
“A place of your ‘suspected kind’.”
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One thought on “Access Denied Ch9”
Thank you for the update ❤️💯