Chapter 8 – Awakening
That night, as the news arrived, the city seemed to come alive again.
Mo Chu stayed in the warehouse, occasionally hearing the voices of survivors coming out in groups to search for supplies in the city. They formed small teams of seven or eight people or even dozens, cautiously walking the streets while quietly discussing the impending rescue that would come tomorrow.
This was the sixth day of the apocalypse. Before this, those capable had already chosen to escape the city. The survivors remaining in the city were either people who lacked the courage to venture outside, those unable to leave due to various reasons, or those who clung to hope for rescue.
Now, just because of a single piece of information, hope was rekindled in everyone’s hearts, and the once-lifeless city gained a bit of vitality.
Mo Chu chose not to venture outside. She tightly closed the warehouse door and, after much contemplation, decided to absorb another crystal core.
Only one day had passed since her first absorption of a crystal core, and making such a decision rashly wasn’t a wise choice. However, Mo Chu relied on her experiences from her previous life and decided to give it a try.
The worst result would be her body reacting adversely to the power, but as a sixth-level healer in her previous life, she knew she had a way to deal with it.
The confrontation with the 2 Espers (instead of ability users) during the day shattered the sense of security she had gained from her six years of experience since waking up. The powerful esper ability that erupted from Li Chen during his unconscious state also left her shocked. She suddenly realized a fact – there was no fairness in esper abilities.
As a “useless Esper” before reaching the third-level, if she didn’t want to tread the same path as in her previous life, she couldn’t rely solely on her past experiences. Once the Espers became familiar with their abilities and the apocalypse, those experiences would no longer give her an advantage.
She had to find a way to stay ahead of most people.
However, this wasn’t the only reason she hastily decided to absorb the crystal core.
More importantly, it was to face what was coming tomorrow.
Tomorrow, the first batch of military rescue teams would enter the city. They would bring out survivors and Espers and establish the first Survival Zone in Lin City, encircling the city.
After that, various survival zones with different functions would spring up outside the city like mushrooms after rain, becoming the bases for the survival of both the survivors and espers.
Tomorrow, humanity will enter a new era.
And she wants to be prepared before this era arrives. She doesn’t want to be caught in the same chaotic torrent as her previous life.
Mo Chu took a deep breath, tightly holding the crystal core in her hand, and closed her eyes.
Her consciousness was suddenly pulled into a vortex of power.
Around her, a red fire line entwined, as if a knight guarding its master, loyal and inviolable.
The entire warehouse fell into silence, with only faint and intermittent sounds from outside, belonging to humans and zombies.
Li Chen had a dream.
He was acutely aware that it was a dream, and he could recall everything he had experienced before entering this dream. But the scenes in this dream were terrifyingly real.
In the dream, he was crucified and roasted by fierce flames.
He could feel the pain of the flames burning his skin—the invisible flames first scorched his skin, then devoured his flesh, and finally gnawed on his bones.
He felt every bit of this excruciating pain.
And when it all ended, the unseen flames consumed him entirely, and everything started over. He felt the pain of flames burning his skin, flesh, and bones all over again, in an endless loop.
Those flames burned his body and also devoured his sanity.
Every time he was on the brink of giving up due to unbearable pain, the intensity of the pain would immediately weaken. The stronger his urge to give up, the milder the pain became.
It was as if tempting him to surrender.
As he approached the brink of despair, he experienced extreme agony time and time again, yet each instance seemed to pull him back to his senses.
At the moment when he couldn’t hold on any longer, he couldn’t help but wonder,
‘why should he persist? What reason did he have to endure all this pain after all? It was so agonizing.’
He knew what giving up would mean, but did he have any reason to keep going? In this world, who could make him persevere and willingly endure such pain?
When he was lost in these thoughts, a voice suddenly told him in his mind that there was someone.
The flames in front of him suddenly burst open and burned him, but this time, he surprisingly didn’t feel any pain.
He opened his eyes and saw a silhouette of crimson flames burning in front of him.
A frail girl was perched on the car roof, her slender arms holding onto the falling man, tightly and with great force. Even though the heavyweight threatened to drag her into the abyss, she never let go.
Terrifying zombies were in front of her, and indifferent humans were behind her.
A voice suddenly sounded in his ears, and she said, “Let’s go.”
There was a girl… still waiting for him to wake up!
Li Chen suddenly opened his eyes.
Distant cheers echoed in his ears, and before him was the dim but clear ceiling of the warehouse.
His five senses seemed to have become incredibly acute, magnifying even the slightest movements or sounds within his perception.
As he woke up, his whole body suddenly burst into red flames, just like he had seen in his dream, instantly burning the ropes that bound him to ashes.
He sat up, but his gaze froze in an instant.
He saw the girl who had appeared in his dream a moment ago sitting by his bed, her eyes closed, completely undisturbed by the commotion he just caused, as if she were doing something unknown.
And around her, several fire lines were swirling, guarding her like protectors.
The source of those fire lines… was him.
Li Chen hesitated for a moment, not sure what his motive was, but he didn’t retract the fire lines.
The next moment, the girl, who he was watching, suddenly opened her eyes without any warning and met his gaze.
Li Chen wanted to look away in embarrassment, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from her.
He saw the girl’s face light up with joy and surprise, her eyes gradually shining brighter.
He heard her say, “You’re awake!”
At that moment, Li Chen’s heart suddenly settled.
He hadn’t been abandoned.
Li Chen woke up, which was truly unexpected for Mo Chu.
Before she began absorbing the crystal core, she had carefully assessed Li Chen’s condition, and the results were far from optimistic. Instead of improving, his condition had worsened.
Mo Chu knew that competing for survival against the zombie virus within one’s body was a painful and prolonged process. She had even prepared herself for Li Chen to remain unconscious for another two days, but he suddenly woke up without any warning while she was absorbing the crystal core.
What happened while she was absorbing the crystal core?
Nevertheless, Li Chen waking up was a good thing, both for Mo Chu and for Li Chen.
It also made her upcoming plans more convenient.
While Mo Chu was contemplating how to express what she wanted to do, she heard Li Chen suddenly ask her, “Why did you save me?”
‘Why did I save him?’
Mo Chu looked at him.
The young man before her had a somewhat pale complexion as if recovering from a severe illness, but his eyes were dark, carrying a depth that was difficult to fathom—calm yet mysterious.
Compared to the Li Chen she had seen moments ago, the current Li Chen had the familiar appearance he had during the sixth year of the apocalypse.
She didn’t know if saving him was the right decision, but she had never regretted it.
She wanted to say, ‘I want to thank you,’ but in the end, after thinking about it, she lowered her head and smiled faintly, saying,
“Because you saved me.”
Li Chen: “Is that so…”
Then she heard him ask again, “Aren’t you going to ask what Esper ability I awakened?”
What esper ability he awakened? Of course, Mo Chu knew.
In the sixth year of the apocalypse, everyone knew.
Mo Chu smiled and pointed to the fire lines around her, saying, “It’s this.”
A powerful fire-based Esper ability, one of the five elemental Esper abilities, specialized in group attacks. The true moment when Li Chen and his fire-based Esper ability became widely known among Espers was when he avenged Chu Ming, a close friend of another Esper, who was brutally killed. Li Chen summoned countless fire crows, and with a wave of his hand, more than twenty Espers turned into ashes.
Before that, people only knew that the closer an Esper’s ability was to the five elements, the rarer it was, and the five elemental Esper abilities were considered the most powerful in the apocalypse.
At that time, they thought, how much stronger can one get? At most, it would be a slightly more sophisticated technique.
However, when Li Chen used his fire-based Esper ability to annihilate a special operations team with a single move, people were faced with the terror of the five elemental Esper abilities.
From then on, the name “Li Chen” became a subject of hushed silence.
Mo Chu said, “You have a fire-based Esper ability.”
But the young man in front of her shook his head and said, “I have a fire-based esper ability, and… an ability to conceal myself.
As he finished speaking, his entire body suddenly disappeared from the bed, only to reappear without any warning.
He looked at her with a hint of amusement in his eyes.
Mo Chu was almost dumbfounded.
Li Chen… had dual Esper abilities?
But in his previous life, he was only known for his fire-based Esper ability.
Did he have a concealed ability in his previous life that he never used, or was this a new Esper ability he awakened in this life?
Mo Chu suddenly remembered something.
Before she died in her previous life, Li Chen had admitted several times that he was the one who saved her, but each time, she hardly ever caught sight of the person who rescued her.
If Li Chen had a concealed esper ability…
Mo Chu dared not think further. She forced herself to break off her thoughts and looked up at Li Chen.
Li Chen was still looking at her.
She sincerely said, “You’re very formidable.”
Li Chen moved his fingers, and the flames around him retracted back into his body, along with the few fire lines that were around Mo Chu.
Mo Chu’s gaze followed those fire lines, feeling a bit regretful.
Then she heard Li Chen say, “Thank you for saving me.”
He had saved her so many times, yet now it was him saying these words to her.
Mo Chu felt a bit uneasy, so she changed the topic and mentioned the message they received during the day.
“…The rescue team will arrive tomorrow, and they should establish a temporary Survival Zone outside the city. Are you going to follow the rescue team?”
Li Chen remained silent for a moment before asking, “What about you?”
Mo Chu hesitated for a moment and said, “I won’t follow the rescue team.”
She used “you” and “I” instead of “we.”
“I won’t follow the rescue team,” Mo Chu said.
There was a moment of silence from the girl in front of him, saying so.
Li Chen didn’t speak for a while.
She asked herself if she should follow the rescue team and then said she wouldn’t.
Li Chen remained silent, and the atmosphere became heavy. Mo Chu didn’t know why, but she felt uneasy.
She couldn’t shake the feeling that she had said something wrong, but she couldn’t pinpoint where the problem was. However, when she looked at Li Chen, an inexplicable sense of guilt washed over her.
Thankfully, after a moment, she heard Li Chen asking, “If you’re not going with the rescue team, where are you planning to go?”
As soon as Li Chen spoke, Mo Chu felt relieved. She looked up at Li Chen, who still had a pale complexion and deep eyes that were inscrutable.
But facing his question, she hesitated.