The captain wasn’t wrong to worry; after scavenging through everywhere they could find and almost being tempted to rob the islanders for food, in the end, they could only manage to find some hard coconuts amongst the mud and ruins.
With Li Shao here, opening them wasn’t the problem. Rather…
“Does this thing contain vitamin C?” An Li asked.
“I don’t know… Most plants have it, but fruits and vegetables are the ones that hold a rich amount of the vitamin. Dried fruits and vegetables also contain a higher concentration of vitamins than canned ones. I don’t think all fruits contain vitamin C though…” The captain thought for a while and shrugged in exasperation.
What year are we in? Why is this even a concern! All ships are stocked with vitamin supplements. The Age of Exploration where sailors would be lost at sea for months on end has long been history! Even if a ship malfunctions today, it’d take at least a month to develop scurvy. If the crew was unfortunate enough to not be rescued within that time, then they’d probably already be dead! We’re living in the technological era with satellites— who could’ve possibly imagined!
While there were whispers about the end of the world in 2012, those who believed the prediction did nothing more than write and store their wills away. Maybe a few would look up ways to survive a zombie apocalypse or keep some food and water in their rooms. But who would constantly have a cheap bottle of supplements in their pockets?
“If we’re talking about plants… then what about algae?”
“That’s a question not even an oceanologist may know. Ms An, I’m just the captain of a cruise ship. I know how to rescue my crew and passengers upon a shipwreck by using technology that no longer exists today. I also know the ship’s structure and principles, the currents and climate, as well as the history of ocean voyages. I am not a nutritionist!” The captain crouched where he was and dejectedly stared at the boundless horizon. “On the day I left the Thalassa Goddess, I was stripped of my ‘captain’ title. Even if the ship needed to be abandoned, a captain should be the last to leave.”
Silence enveloped them; nobody knew what to say.
“But… it… I mean, it didn’t sink, right?” Li Shao hugged three coconuts and said dryly.
Right! The tsunami won’t appear on open seas! The deeper the ocean, the smaller the impacts of a tsunami are. The Thalassa Goddess is enormous, meaning that it will only topple if it met tornados or unusual disasters like in the movie ‘The Perfect Storm’.
Immediately regaining his spirit, the captain laughed. “Yes! You’re right! We cannot just stay here and wilt!”
First, they needed to survive. Then, if possible, they would build a boat and try to go back home.
Our friends and family may still be alive somewhere. So, even if it’s for their sakes, we shouldn’t be wallowing in self-pity here. The hope of reuniting is only possible when everybody gives it their all to survive.
“An-Jie, we’re forgetting something…” Li Shao mumbled as he cracked the coconuts.
Na Lin hated how he was swallowing his words as he spoke. Turning away, she muttered in her heart: Why could men like Li Shao still be alive in the apocalypse? Natural selection should’ve long eliminated them regardless of if they were in a peaceful age before.
She truly despised useless men.
“What about Xia-Ge?” Li Shao was the type that was unyielding online but a coward in real life. His life as a busy nobody had gradually filed away the few virtues he had. Just when he was standing at the crossroad that determined whether he could become someone of profession and skills or remain nameless for the rest of his life, destiny changed alongside the entire world. He had yet to become adjusted to this change.
“Xia-Ge… well, he’s odd and antisocial… and never talks to anyone, but…” Li Shao didn’t know what to say. He liked to take small advantages and justified his actions by convincing himself that he was poor. So as long as the company hadn’t covered their expenses, whether it’d been for meals or other matters, Xia Yi was always the one who’d paid. This was a normal sight in the company, where artists with no fame would do such a thing to win over their assistants or backup dancers and singers. The problem was that Xia Yi wasn’t good with his words and had a standoffish expression all the time— as if the entire world owed him money. His relationship with other people couldn’t be worse, which was why he’d ended up getting stuck with an assistant that nobody else wanted.
Li Shao wasn’t an idiot.
“Xia-Ge may not be a good guy, but he’s definitely not a bad person or has some ill intent for others…” There were too many deceptions, hypocrites, and traps in the entertainment industry. Xia Yi conducted himself in an extremely unappealing way, but the pros of that was everyone considering him to be an unimportant background figure. Even pairing his name up with the most ridiculous headline rumours wouldn’t gain him any exposure or gossip… Maybe this way of existing was another type of success?
An Li’s expression changed several times, but she still remained quiet.
She really didn’t want to have any more encounters with the sea monsters. As for Xia Yi’s oddity… Oh no, don’t go there. The more she recalled, the scarier it became. She didn’t know whether Li Shao had thought about it at all (well, the truth is often held in the hands of the naive), though now that she herself thought about it, the sea monsters had never attacked them. There was also that huge whirlpool…
“Easy for you to say! Why don’t you go over there and see if those monsters will rob your food or simply turn you into food instead!” Na Lin couldn’t help but scoff. Li Shao, Xia Yi, and the silent wind-user that she didn’t know— it was awful enough to be stuck on an island during the apocalypse, but why was she stuck with such a group of people?!
Li Shao flushed, but upon seeing Na Lin’s newly cleaned and pretty face, he didn’t dare utter a single word. That was a bad habit he’d developed after immersing himself in the entertainment industry. The artists were the ones that were important, whereas mere assistants like him simply needed to fuck off.
“Enough! Stop arguing!” An Li didn’t know what else to say. After a long period of silence, she continued, “He doesn’t need our help. Even so, you can go and say what you need, Li Shao.”
Na Lin snickered, expecting Li Shao to eat back his words and regret ever bringing up the topic.
Li Shao’s choice surprised her.
Looking down at the coconut he carried, Li Shao was torn between leaving the coconut behind to protect it or taking the coconut with him to protect himself. After placing it down and picking it back up several times, he finally came to a resolution.
Leaving food unattended would only cause him to lose it!
Holding his coconut, Li Shao ran down the mountain. On the way, he met several people who stared at him threateningly. But Li Shao wasn’t like the idiot crab who insisted on climbing over obstacles. When a pile of trash blocked his way, Li Shao sent it flying with a kick of his foot. Leaving behind heavy thuds and screams, he continued on.
On the shore, the crab was still whining, waving its pincer weakly.
“Oi—” Li Shao yelled towards the sea. “The sea turtle over there! I know you can understand me! I need to speak with Xia… Xia Yi!”
His voice was very loud; the issue was that while Thaumas had lived for a long time and understood most human languages, it was impossible for the turtle to be fluent in them. Plus, it was so far away from the island… Like hell it was going to know what this human was saying.
Seeing that his call was met with silence, Li Shao began to rack his brain. He vaguely recalled the sea turtle having a name, but could not— for the sake of god— remember what it was. However, the crab’s name was unique enough for him to not forget.
“Gululu?” Li Shao positioned himself a slight distance away and crouched carefully. He felt like an idiot for talking to a crab, especially when the sea creature completely ignored him. Its pincer twitching every now and then was the only proof that the monster was still alive.
—And after spending a good amount of effort and failing to get back, the idiot had tired itself to sleep.
The sky was still unusually dark and heavy, convincing many that an aftershock was coming. Retreating back to the mountains, the people divided into their groups and were on their guard against the others.
Thaumas sank back into the ocean, its giant silhouette disappearing from the surface. For those who didn’t know what it was, they only thought a strangely-shaped cloud had settled over the sea earlier.
【Siren, what about Gululu?】
【I told you to go ashore to save it, but you refused.】
Thaumas turned its head to the other side and paddled its fins. It firmly stated that only female sea turtles would go on land when they were about to lay eggs; it would never touch the beach.
【Honestly, this human can!】The giant squid murmured, chewing on its own tentacles.
Siren didn’t move from where it was, half-lying on Thaumas’ back.
Xia Yi’s burning temperature cooled down a little when he was submerged in the water. Regaining some sense, he opened his eyes and stared blankly into the blue ocean.
This is nearly identical to the room of my dreams.
Ocean ripples painted on the ceiling, or have some advanced-technology device tossing and rippling water on the walls. A light will shine from the edge, just like a single beam of sun, basking the surroundings in a hazy glow. That blurry environment invites me to close my eyes and climb into bed, where I’m the only person left in the whole world.
Except this bed… is ridiculously hard.
Xia Yi could feel his stomach twisting in pain, but his back ached even more. There wasn’t a single ounce of strength left in his body.
Frankly speaking, it wasn’t only him and the sea monsters with huge appetites, but even Siren was beginning to feel hungry. After all, it’d been almost a whole day of dealing with earthquakes and whirlpools.
The entire ocean region nearby was empty; the fish and other marine life that once inhabited the area had either fled or were washed away by the waves.
The oarfish burrowed into the seafloor, unwilling to give up.
With a splash, all the sea monsters lunged towards it.
【Abyss! I was the one to discover it!】The oarfish roared.
Abyss blatantly curled its tentacles around the small shell.【It’s your fault for not having appendages! Finders keepers!】
The squid, being a second too late, failed to grab the shellfish. Thus, it resorted to tightly wrapping its tentacles around Abyss, shamelessly refusing to let the octopus go.
【Nereus, what are you doing here? You can’t even eat shellfish!】
Nereus bobbed, half-sinking as it did its best to strangle the squid from the back with its tentacles. Furious, it yelled,【Why not?! You first bullied me, and now you’re bullying Abyss!】
As for Thaumas… well, it utilised its superiority in size and descended from the ‘sky’.
Humph! I’ll crush you all. Now let’s see if you’re giving it up or not!
Just when chaos was about to spill, a light silver fish tail flicked and slid down from Thaumas’ back. In a harsh voice, Siren demanded,【Move. Give me the shellfish!】
The group of sea monsters stared pitifully at the shell that Siren grabbed from Abyss’s tentacles. It was about half the size of the merman’s palm; now that they were seeing it clearly, they could tell that it was an oyster. Definitely a delicious oyster!
【This must have fallen off my back…】Thaumas muttered under its breath, not caring the slightest bit about logic.【It got washed here by the waves!】
Ignoring the sea turtle, Siren cracked the shell open. Its sharp nails sliced off the cleanest part of the soft flesh with ease. Swimming back to Xia Yi, the merman disregarded its treasure’s dazed state and stuffed the oyster into his mouth.
All the sea monsters were suddenly overcome with the urge to rise above the ocean surface and roar at the sky.