Chapter 38 – Life

Sea Monster Alliance
ZFX
52 Chapters

Editor: Sammy

Proofreader: XavierForest


In an apocalypse, disasters weren’t the most dangerous thing. Rather, it was the human heart.

The tsunami’s waves were huge, expanding across the entire ocean. In the end, it managed to reach the American shorelines that were on the opposite end of the sea, as well as the Persian Gulf in the Indian Ocean. Though they weren’t towering waves tens of metres high, they were still big enough to cause panic and fear in a world where technology could no longer predict the incoming danger. This particular earthquake was a clash between tectonic plates, thus the volcanoes along the Ring of Fire all activated. This was, without a doubt, a major disaster for those who’d barely evaded the devastating apocalypse and didn’t know what to do in the future.

Was this really the end of the world?

Those who were religious prayed in desperation despite knowing full well that not much would come from the action. People could be seen grasping various weapons and wandering along the abandoned streets. Viciously glaring at each other, they broke into homes and robbed residents of their food and water. Some idiots stuffed their pockets with gold and precious items, but they soon gave up the practice as even a moldy piece of bread was worth more than these once-valuable things.

For almost all of humanity, their dreams had become very simple: gather enough food to travel to a big city and arrive at a place of lawfulness using their legs or bikes! Regardless of if they were a weak child, the elderly, or bandits who robbed and killed, they all recognised the looming danger; very few resources were able to be stored for a year or two. One day, they’d deplete all the food around them— what would they do then? Even if they wanted to plant and farm, they needed a safe place to do so!

They could only hope that there still existed habitable places in the world where people could live.

At first, humans were fixed on reuniting with lost friends and family. By now, no one cared about such things anymore and resorted to burying their worries and fears deep in their hearts. More often than not, even those related by blood or possessing the intimacy of spouses had trouble trusting one another. In this country, one heard sayings that the tearing down of a house could cause major rifts in a family, turning them against each other and into bitter enemies. Now that an apocalypse had struck, a small complaint could be magnified hundreds of times over under current predicaments. It was very difficult to say what people were capable of doing out of desperation.

Perhaps they’d disregard previous disagreements and rely on each other, or maybe…

Who’d dare place their bets on this ‘maybe’?

In Beijing, the clearing of ruins and reconstruction of buildings was still going strong. The civilians were now participating for no other reason than wanting to earn some food. The government retained ample reserves of grains and vegetables that were meant to cope with disasters or war times. Yet the recent influx of people flooding into Beijing and seeking refuge had put noticeable stress on the capital’s struggle to return to order.

Soilless planting had already achieved considerable success in plenty of laboratories, but without the fine-tuning instruments and scheduled nutrient fluids, these research breakthroughs were as good as nothing. The best they could do now was cultivate plants in soil that had yet to be polluted by radiation and ensure that these plants were under constant surveillance. A greater problem, however, was the abnormal temperatures. Daytime was accompanied by intense heat while even a quilt wasn’t enough to brave through the night’s cold.

But even that wasn’t the biggest issue— the most difficult thing to deal with now was none other than special ability users.

There were only a dozen or so ability wielders in Beijing, and most had appeared in the military or police force. Theoretically, they should be easy to control and organise. Except an oddity had occurred with a man named Zhou Liang who’d come to Beijing to work. He hadn’t been doing very well, his life quite pitiful and disappointing. He used to live in the rented basement of a skyscraper and had achieved nothing despite being in his thirties. Then, having acquired such a strong ability overnight and becoming the most powerful user in Beijing, Zhou Liang’s mind was immediately corrupted.

Why should he be satisfied with the country firing orders at him? Why should he be content when others received more than he did?

He, Zhou Liang, could snatch whatever he didn’t have. This was the apocalypse! Airplanes and artillery were worthless compared to bullets and hand grenades! Zhou Liang wanted to laugh. After killing many people that night, he fled from the city.

In the end, he was still a lone wolf fighting. Regardless of his powerful ability and how broken the government was, he was still unable to take on the state singlehandedly. Of course, if he could gather a few hundreds, or even thousands of people, that would be a different story. China was very vast and there were countless places for him to hide.

And so, with Zhou Liang being the first, there was bound to be a second. Plenty of ability users had selfish motives of their own, but not many were as smart as Zhou Liang. Some of the wielders arrived in Beijing and hid in the districts, looking for the right opportunity to rob working residents of their hard-earned food before escaping. Their actions stirred up panic and fear in the city despite everyone’s best efforts to quell the effects of the initial disaster.

Keep in mind that this was still Beijing. It was impossible to imagine what life must be like for people in other cities where not even a corpse lying in the ruins would stir a single soul.

There was no longer any calcium oxide or disinfectants; an epidemic was already on the rise.

In comparison, those on the island with An Li and Li Shao were living in paradise. The sheer power of the ability wielders quickly forced the once-proud islanders into submission; such was the reality of an island nation. Most of the inhabitants disliked the Chinese because larger plantations and economic lifelines were controlled by them. However, what laid in front of them now wasn’t wealth that could be envied, nor was it a thriving life— it was the chance to survive. Even if the islanders racked their brains and managed to kill the wielders, they couldn’t steal their abilities like weapons or gold.

Useful things, like some palm trees and other random materials, had been cleaned out and organised, whereas corpses and other useless waste had been burned. Other than An Li, the remaining fire-users also recognised the horrifying consequence of a plague. They’d struggled so much to stay alive, and while they had their own individual plans and calculations, considering how they’d finally settled down, they wouldn’t be careless with serious issues.

There wasn’t much food available on the mountain, but luckily, many of the islanders residing on these hills still had seeds left in their homes. Although it wasn’t easy planting on mountain grounds, it was something the survivors could look forward to. They also built plenty of rafts near the shore and mended some of the fishing nets, ready to feed themselves off the sea. For now, fights would break out every time the tides receded since they’d brawl to death for any shellfishes, crabs, or fishes the water would leave.

Unwittingly, a tribal atmosphere permeated the island, settling on five distinct groups. Despite the special ability users never initiating a battle between one another, they constantly pitted the islanders who’d settled under them against each other.

Was this the new reality for them?

That was a question everyone pondered over but no one had an answer to.

“Alas, if only I had a water-related ability.” Na Lin stared out at the sea and suddenly remembered Xia Yi.

This way, she wouldn’t be trapped on this island, unable to go home or search for her loved ones. Na Lin believed that even though this was the apocalypse, a powerful ability wielder would be able to thrive quite well. They wouldn’t have to live under An Li’s whims.

“Although having nothing but a water ability definitely wouldn’t be enough!” The ocean was too dangerous… Just take sharks as an obvious example— if a school came charging, who’d still be alive? That Xia Yi… just what kind of person is he? I found him odd before, and now even more so!

Na Lin’s train of thought didn’t get to run too wild because she had too many things to worry about. She couldn’t understand why An Li disapproved of incorporating the islanders into their group. In her eyes, wasn’t relaxing and having others do the hard work much better than personally scavenging around the beach for food every day? Perhaps this meant that An Li didn’t trust anyone, or that she hadn’t planned to stay on this island for the long-term. Na Lin’s eyes lit up at that last thought.

“We need a boat, enough manpower to row it, and supplies…” The captain had been calculating for the past few days. “In order to get these things, we have to travel in the opposite direction of home, continuing towards the west or north! There’s an American military base somewhere in the Mariana Islands. Ms An, do you dare to ransack it?”

***

In the deep sea, these troubles were floating further and further away as Xia Yi remained strong on his stance of not returning to civilisation.

A few hundred metres below the surface, the ocean was already pitch black. However, Siren brought a group of fist-sized jellyfish that glowed blue, basking their surroundings in a faint, beautiful light.

A dense layer of water encircled Xia Yi, with another layer of water acting as a buffer behind the initial shield. These protections greatly weakened the pressure of the deep sea. The group was now at about eight hundred metres below sea level, where the ‘natives’ all looked incredibly bizarre and were more or less bioluminescent. The oarfish’s long body was like a beam of silver light diving into the seemingly bottomless abyss.

Xia Yi was currently resting on the deck of a sunken ship.

The railing had fallen off, and the water pressure and corrosion had completely distorted the hull, cracking it in two from the center. The bow and stern were very far apart, with half of the bow buried deeply in the ocean floor. Not far from this fallen vessel was a sudden chasm that led into an even deeper trench.

In terms of location, this was a wonderful house.

The ship was covered in algae and seashells, and Siren swam over from the mast that was surprisingly still attached. The merman’s movements were graceful and enchanting in the water, filled with an unspeakable allure. It looked like a scene taken from the legends: a merman who brought disaster and misfortune lived his days in a sunken ship, only to appear on the surface during a clear night, singing quietly under the moon.

Wait, Xia Yi realised, I’ve never heard Siren sing before…

That was because you couldn’t hear it!

This ship wasn’t small, but it wasn’t a cruise ship either. Instead, it resembled a battle cruiser that might’ve sunk during World War II. Abyss, the giant octopus, had ducked into the hull and was now contently snoring. Octopuses were molluscs, meaning they could change their build and size with the help of outside forces. According to the sea monsters, this sunken ship belonged to Abyss; it even housed many of the giant octopus’ collections.

For example, there was a giant but cracked porcelain bottle lying on the deck right beside Xia Yi.

Abyss had probably dug it from the waterways leading to and from China. The bottle was about half the size of an adult human and covered in algae and gunk, making it impossible to see its original design. But it was clearly a relic from a ship that sank in the ancient days… making it a bit eerie when it appeared on a battle cruiser.

This wasn’t even Abyss’ favourite treasure. From what Xia Yi heard, the octopus had even bigger and more well-kept bottles which it stored in the hull and hugged happily when sleeping.

For the sea monsters, that was what ‘like’ would be!

With conflicted emotions, Xia Yi glanced at Siren, who’d stopped beside him and was now peering into the trench’s depths from the side of the deck.

The merman always remembers to bring me food, never leaves me alone, and doesn’t bother me by continuously talking… For Xia Yi, Siren evoked a strange and new feeling.

All humans liked what was pleasing to the eye. It had always been difficult for Xia Yi to despise or love something, yet the magnificence of the vast seas and the sense of freedom that they evoked made it feel as if they’d opened a door which he’d never been able to conquer.

It wasn’t that the world wasn’t beautiful, it was just that he’d never looked in the right places.

Here, there was no profit to be gained— no hypocrites or complicated relationships that needed to be maintained— no need to do anything that he didn’t want to simply for survival; there was no requirement for him to force himself into social environments and be subjected to the looks and finger-pointing that came as a result of his lack of understanding regarding human behaviour.

He could suddenly be alive and truly follow his heart!

Abruptly, a disturbance in the currents jostled Xia Yi back to reality. Startled, he watched as thick whirlpools emerged from deep inside the trench, scaring away the life along their paths. Even the jellyfishes that were used as lights scuttled away uncontrollably.

【That is—】

A battle to the death between two marine organisms. A large fish violently thrashed and snapped, but the monster atop its head refused to budge in the slightest.

As they grew closer, Xia Yi saw that the ‘monster’ was actually a squid.

It wasn’t Eurybia, but it was still a gigantic creature. Including its tentacles, the squid must’ve been well over ten metres long. Several of its tentacles were bitten off by what it was fighting— a whale.

It was a sperm whale and a giant squid…

While the giant squid might seem to have the lower hand, one mustn’t forget that if the squid could successfully block the blowhole of the sperm whale, the latter could be defeated and killed. Naturally, the giant squid would need to put up a considerable deal of force, but even then, it would still be very difficult for it to win.

This time was no different, with the giant squid’s body almost being torn into pieces. The sea monsters carried on with either their sleeping or show-watching; not one of them looked like they were going to intervene in the fight.

Xia Yi was very puzzled by this because Eurybia was laying on the sand not far from the fight. Is it indifferent towards the death of one of its own kind?

What Xia Yi didn’t know was that there were many types of squids. Eurybia was a colossal squid found in Antarctica; first of all, it wasn’t even familiar with that giant squid, and second, Eurybia wouldn’t have spared a glance at the fight even if it did concern another colossal squid. In some cases, squids would fight amongst themselves for various reasons, so why would it be bothered by something as natural as this?

【It did not win, so it has become food for the sperm whale…】Siren quietly said, watching the sperm whale swallow the giant squid’s broken body from where it laid on the deck.

The sperm whale wasn’t only a mammal, but also a creature that resided in the deep sea. All of the organisms here needed to somehow protect certain muscle-building proteins in their bodies from oxidisation. Astaxanthin was their equivalent of the vitamins that humans ate. Squids and octopuses received this chemical from eating shellfish and crabs while sperm whales, in turn, fed on squids and octopuses.

Thus, their battle to the death was, in some sense, a battle of survival. If that wasn’t the case, then the sperm whale had no need to risk its life by attempting to eat a giant squid; there was plenty of food in the ocean for a strong sperm whale— it didn’t have a death wish.

【In the ocean, everything is made simple and done in the name of survival.】

Even a small fish or tiny shrimp lived like this.

The sea monsters wouldn’t think twice before eating them, but they also wouldn’t disrupt another organism’s fight for survival.

【Beautiful, is it not?】

Siren cocked its head and stared at the sperm whale, seeming to appreciate its strength. In the eyes of sea monsters, ‘beautiful’ was defined by a creature’s ability to remain as the last one standing.

【Shayi, do you want it?】

【No…】What was he going to do with a sperm whale? Keep it as a pet? That was much too ridiculous.

Without warning, Siren smiled and hugged Xia Yi from behind. 【You are more beautiful than that. I like you more.】

Xia Yi froze, unable to register the words. Beautiful… What kind of wrong description was that?! And compared to a whale too!!

—Emm… What Siren was trying to say was that you’re more powerful than the sperm whale. Cross-species misunderstandings were indeed an issue…

zfx

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