Editor: Happy Bubbles
Generally, when one thought of superpowers, something like the ability to bend metal spoons would come to mind— it was a little freakish, but not completely outrageous. Science had long since proven that some people carried vast amounts of easily-accumulated static electricity, which was why they could never fully brush their hair. There were also those who possessed an incredibly strong mentality that could resist hypnosis; others had an unbelievable psychological defense mechanism which allowed them to deceive a lie detector without their body – both internally and externally – betraying anything. Then, there were stories of people born with tremendous strength; what superpowers, those were just strangely amazing people!
If a person suddenly lit a cigarette from nothing, most people would assume that he was a magician, not a person who had superpowers or real magic.
But this was the end of the world, and anything was possible.
Li Shao pulled his eyes away from An Li’s shoulder-cut dress. Say, a model’s figure was truly extraordinary; one arm was enough to wrap around that waist. The only problem was An Li’s almost daunting height, further enhanced by her high heels. Even if Li Shao could now lift up packages weighing hundreds of pounds, he still wouldn’t dare lay a hand on her.
Li Shao was a nobody and had low expectations for himself. He was timid and didn’t like conflicts; whatever “hypermasculinity” he had was hidden quite deeply and rarely exploded out. Not only was he not bothered by An Li ordering him around, in fact, he was currently feeling quite impressed with himself.
It wasn’t that he wished to turn into Superman overnight, but he did once daydream about becoming a Wulin Master1 A person highly trained in martial arts. .
Now that he’d developed a special ability, Li Shao felt the world changing (and he was right about that one).
When he was with Xia Yi— who was barely noticed among a crowd of people— his already low presence became even scarcer. Afterall, he was nothing more than a lame assistant in front of big names like XX Best Singer, XX Best Actor or big project-investing bosses and bad-tempered directors. Miserably, Li Shao not only couldn’t afford to offend anyone other than the extras, but he also had to force a smile onto his face regardless of his feelings.
Integrating into society was a process of filing away one’s hard edges. There were those whose characters were naturally both sly and proud, however most were bewildered youngsters like Li Shao. With his limited cleverness and eventual experience gain, he may have had some success after a decade or so.
But now, everything was thrown into chaos.
Crouching on one side of the deck, Li Shao watched as some sailors fumblingly carried the corpses and threw them overboard, their expressions blank.
While some of these people were killed by the radiation, more had died at the hands of each other.
Though several survivors had developed special abilities, the most they could do was keep an object in midair, cook raw food, or barely create half a cup of water in an empty glass. Obviously, those with special water-related abilities were incredibly valuable as they were stranded at sea; sooner or later, their water supply would run out.
“And that’s the story, Captain. What we encountered weren’t sea monsters, but instead…”
“A-apocalypse? Miss A-An, that sounds so ridiculous, it’s hard for me to believe you.”
An Li rubbed her fingers together as a small flame danced on her fingertips. With a seemingly careless smile she said, “I trust that, as Captain, you know very clearly that five days have passed without any sign of rescue. Why is that the case when, assuming that we’re still on Earth, the Thalassa Goddess is such an obvious target? No clouds have gathered over us, so have we been abandoned by the world? Of course not. Clearly, the rescue team back on land has also been affected by this possibly-international disaster. We’re on a ship where endless amounts of seawater can be evaporated by the rising temperature and used to replenish the clouds. But what about on land? And areas that lacked water to begin with?”
The question now was how many people were still alive.
“Most importantly, though we have enough supplies on the ship and the temperature has gradually been dropping back to normal, all these are limited.”
She clapped her hands and pointed at the tens of people standing around the deck.
“I believe in you, Captain. You and your group stayed in the bunker so no one was exposed to radiation. At the same time, you don’t know how lucky the people who survived the past five days were. Even though some of us can release minimal electricity and shock some fishes, or myself, who can use fire, our biggest problem is still the fact that we don’t have enough electricity. Without it, we can’t operate any facilities— not even the microwaves— on this cruise ship. There’s no GPS, though frankly, I’m suspicious about whether the satellites out in the earth’s orbit are still operating fine. For now, it’s possible for us to not return to land. Our main priority is to find a place with fresh water and food.”
If not, then death would be the only option.
The captain stayed silent for a long time before asking, “Since the radiation is gone, won’t the generators eventually be restored?”
“We can’t wait that long.”
Staring at An Li, the captain suddenly felt all his worries and fear of this woman be vanquished. It was true that as long as food was still available, an average person would be no threat. No matter what An Li did before – and whether she was right about the “apocalypse” – the appearance of strong, special powers would surely change the world after this catastrophe.
He wasn’t stupid. When compared to the Han father and son, he knew who was more worthy to follow.
“The Thalassa Goddess is completely made of steel and other alloy metals, but if we can dismantle the flooring and beds in the luxury ocean-viewing suites, we can have some usable, good quality oars. We also have ropes and things like lifeboats and life jackets in storage, which will need manpower to bring to the deck. There are other useful things in there, though we’d need to break down the doors in order to get them.”
As he spoke, the captain felt his confidence surging. “There’s a waterproof map that was originally meant for situations where a storm disturbs the global positioning system. As long as we bring a compass, I’m sure—”
“That’s quite unfortunate!” A man who appeared to be in his forties walked out. His suit jacket was draped over his shoulders and unshaven stubble could be seen on his chin. He looked thoroughly dispirited and his eyes were glazed over. “None of the compasses are working. I believe in Miss An Li’s guess that there’s something wrong with the earth’s magnetic field.”
The captain fell silent. There were many reasons why compasses may not function, but when all of the cruise ship’s motors and installations just so happened to break down at the same time…
“No, we can’t leave! There’s monsters in the sea!” A person who was crouched to one side shouted.
An Li didn’t even spare them a glance.
Li Shao yelled back, “Then you can wait and starve on the ship! Spares us the trouble of wasting food and water on you!”
The Thalassa Goddess was an enormous cruise ship. It had almost everything imaginable and it was impossible for it to be tipped over by any normal waves and winds. A majority of the people truly believed that it’d be safer to stay onboard, yet when faced with the possibility of diminishing food and water, they had to make a choice.
“An-Jie, those from the Han family came following after us.”
“Just ignore them.”
There were a lot of lifeboats on the cruise ship, definitely enough for over a hundred people. No one was certain about successfully escaping the ship and finding an island with freshwater. An Li wasn’t some twisted-minded psychopath who’d kill off the people she didn’t like under such circumstances. She just wouldn’t bother sharing food and water with them; the Han father and son could fend for themselves.
“The temperature difference between day and night has gradually lessened. Though there’s no more radiation in the air, there probably is some lingering in the ocean. It’s true that staying on the ship would be safer for those without special abilities. They can take one portion of food and water, then we’ll part ways.”
We may not survive a year after coming into contact with radiated seawater, but there is a chance of getting unique powers!
That was the inner monologue of many people as they struggled between two choices, at a loss for what to do.
An Li didn’t care for what they were thinking and said directly to the captain, “If we’re doing this, we must leave immediately! If rain clouds begin to gather and stormy gales start raging above the sea, we’ll all die before the sea monsters get to us since the only thing these lifeboats can do is float.”
The few people who previously had hopeful expressions became visibly dejected.
Against this vast, boundless sea, humans were much too insignificant.
That was exactly what Xia Yi thought.
Once he realised— much to his confusion— the reason why he’d yet to die of thirst and hunger, he was… um… even more confused!
In this part of the sea, the only islands he could find were formed by groups of shoal rocks, which would be completely swallowed up by the rising tides. There were only a few species of algae on the seafloor, and most depressingly, Xia Yi didn’t know if the fishes that once inhabited the area were all killed by radiation or if they were scared off by the sea monster, regardless, he couldn’t find a single one!
If this continued on, would he starve to death?
He had to get out of here.
Xia Yi made this decision with absolutely zero difficulty. Compared to the people on the Thalassa Goddess, he was in a much more comfortable state. Though he didn’t have a ship or food to… ahem, speaking of food, he could grab a handful at any time while he was “on the road”. Was there anything else that was supposed to matter?
To be honest, if this were anyone else who, for four-five days, had stayed alone on a barren island with no food and the possibility of terrifying sea monsters lurking around, their mental state would’ve hit rock bottom a long time ago. But this was Xia Yi.
If someone was with him, he’d probably be too tense to sleep.
Xia Yi was antisocial, not stupid. In an apocalyptic world, human nature was the least dependable thing.
When life was normal, people would still argue and fight over things as small as a quota number. Xia Yi couldn’t guess what others were thinking, however, during these times, it was no good to not be careful and cautious. Xia Yi knew very clearly that even Li Shao wouldn’t turn around and give him a helping hand if they were facing a life-or-death situation; even considering their good relationship and Li Shao’s adequate morality, Xia Yi still wouldn’t trust his life in the hands of his assistant.
In this world, nobody “should” do anything for anyone. In other words, there existed no expectation that others should help him.
He didn’t have that kind of relationship with Li Shao or anyone else.
Though living in loneliness may have been an unimaginable way of life to others, right now, it suddenly became the biggest advantage.
There was no one that Xia Yi worried for. He didn’t need to toss and turn at night, wondering how they were doing in this calamity. Even with Li Shao and An Li, they were merely people he was familiar with and had spoken to. In such times, luck was what determined the survival of people. The only thing he wanted to do was simple: survive the apocalypse.
There was no point in overthinking and stressing about the future.
Since Xia Yi had decided to swim into deeper waters for food, he made sure to find a sheltering cave early to rest that night. He’d planned to restore all of his energy and not wake up until late into the morning the next day.
But that simple wish was a little difficult to realise.
Whenever he turned over, the possibility of knocking himself against a hard rock and gaining bruises was high.
This time, instead of pain, he was woken by hunger.
Xia Yi hadn’t eaten properly for the past few days. When he opened his eyes, he grimaced at his twitching stomach and then abruptly froze.
Jumping sardines covered the average-sized shoal rock. Some of the fishes laid flat without the energy to move, while others still attempted a final struggle; all of them were fresh with the smell of the sea. Their flapping tails flung off water droplets that landed on Xia Yi.
—What the hell was this?! Just yesterday, there wasn’t a single fish in sight within a radius of hundreds of metres!
- 1A person highly trained in martial arts.