380 Water Mammal

    The van rumbled forward. Gu Jun was quite surprised that a normal poster could evoke such excitement from Ah Bao and his friends.

    "Brother, where did you get this painting?" A man with a tiny nose called Ah Qiang, stared until his eyes were burning, "I'm willing to trade 5 rats for this!"

    "Aiz, if only Li San can see this." Another man called Shou Hou sighed. "She has always wanted to see the sea." Ah Bao explained to Gu Jun that Li San was Shou Hou's younger sister. But to Gu Jun's confusion, from their tone, it did not sound like Li San had passed away or in danger so he asked, "There's still a chance in the future for her to see this, right?" Ah Bao giggled wickedly, "That's hard to say."

    "What are those?" A slightly larger man called Da Niu pointed at the two animals on the posters with creased brows. "Are they fish?"

    "Of course, they are, but we're just not sure what kind." Ah Bao huffed. He already confirmed those were fishes.

    From their conversation, Gu Jun derived that these people had not seen fish before. Then again, with the geography that he had seen so far, that was not that surprising....

    "They are actually not fish but dolphins." He explained gently. "Even though they are aquatic creatures, they are mammals and have high intelligence."

    "What?" Ah Bao voiced his confusion. The rest of the guys looked at Gu Jun with blankness too.

    Gu Jun was startled seeing the apparent confusion on the young men's faces. 'Is this an effect of the apocalypse? Education will be the first system to collapse if the need to survive becomes the most prominent in a culture... What kind of era is this?' Gu Jun gave an impromptu class in biology. "We humans are mammals too and mammals are characterized by the presence of mammary glands that produce milk. Fish do not have that. They lay eggs instead." The group scratched their heads. Ah Bao understood it better than most but most of them got the idea of mammals somewhat.

    "By mammary glands, you mean..." Ah Bao cupped the area around his chest and his expression took on a different kind of excitement. The guys started to laugh, it was a dirty joke shared among men. However, none of them believed that dolphins could be a mammal. They took that as a joke from a foreigner. "Feeding in the sea? Won't that contaminate the milk?"

    "I can't tell whether these two are fish or mammals. In any case, I do not see them carrying the necessary tools required for milk-feeding." Da Niu stared seriously at the two dolphins inside the poster.

    Ah Bao sneaked in a joke. "Brother, you must have missed the touch of a woman until you've lost your mind. You do realize you're lusting after two fishes, right?" That made the group laugh even louder. Nothing helped men bond faster than dirty jokes. Then they started to discuss which of the women they knew had the biggest breasts. Men of their age often talked about such topics, that was nothing too surprising about that. Gu Jun knew that if he did not change the subject, they'd continue this topic all day. When he tried to draw information out of them but none of them fell for his trick. Their growth condition appeared to have reverted them to a more barbaric culture. They were not used to conversational civility and said directly what was on their mind.

    "Guys, I really just want to know." Gu Jun decided to shoot right to the point then. "What kind of place is this Angel City?"

    The laughter stopped immediately. The engine roared while Ah Bao and his friends looked at each other.

    "Alright then, after all, this should be common knowledge." Ah Bao thought about it and said, "Where did you say you come from again? Eastern State? Is it a city dissimilar from this place? Anyway, Angel City dominates the water source and oil rigs at this land. According to rumors, they enjoy the greatest of life. They have everything, but some of the things were ours, they have stolen it from us..." Ah Bao's anger got in the way of a logical retelling of the history but Gu Jun got the gist. The forces from Angel City ruled over this wasteland and the meagre resources that it offered. People like Ah Bao were smaller tribes who were bullied. Some of them moved around to avoid detection while others tried to resist but most of them ended up dead or as slaves.

    "But we'll show them!" Da Niu grumbled in a booming voice. "If Angel City wishes us death, then we will bring death right to their doorstep." Gu Jun wondered if this was the leader's plan all along. He knew the younger members wouldn't be able to keep their mouth shut for long so he purposely arranged for Gu Jun to ride with them so that Gu Jun had the chance to get an update of the situation.

    "I heard your leader used the term Locust God earlier." Gu Jun pressed, "What is that? I've not heard of something like that before."

    The group was confused. Ah Bao asked with curiosity, "Your city does not suffer from the locust plague?"

    "We do but there is no such thing called Locust God." Gu Jun looked out the window. The barren wasteland... Could this world have been destroyed by locust plagues? He continued, "We probably have different cultural backgrounds. So what is the story behind this Locust God?"

    "Aiz." Ah Bao started with a sigh and it darkened his young face. "It started, I don't know, several hundred or probably thousand years ago, there was an endless plague of locust. They consumed all the plants and drained all the water. They also brought with them a great plague which claimed many lives. Then for some reason, people started to worship this Locust God. The Locust God's strongest and most devout disciples are called Flying Locusts. They are the rulers at Angel City. But truthfully, they're nothing but bandits." Ah Bao scoffed with condescension. "What God? The worms are nothing but our enemy. Why should we worship them?"

    Gu Jun frowned. This was not a story he expected. The apocalypse described by the R'yleh cultists was a world submerged in water, it had nothing to do with locust plague.

    'Worms?' His heart quivered as he remembered the mockery by the witch, "The Yith? The bunch of worms overlooked by the master."'Am I being suspicious... or there is a connection here?'

    "What kind of worm are these locusts?" Gu Jun wondered if the locusts here were different from the ones that he knew. Could they be a mutated species? Why would these people refer to locusts as a 'worm' and not an 'insect'? Was it because they did not understand the concept 'insect'? "What do they look like?"

    "None of us has seen it, those who did are already dead." Ah Bao said with hatred. "According to legend, they're a kind of aquatic worm. Whenever they arrive, they will suck away all the water."

    Gu Jun memorized this detail. Then he wanted to find out the supernatural energy level of the enemy. "Do these Flying Locusts really have divine power?"

    That riled the group up. There was an undercurrent of fear under their rage though.

    "Who cares!" Ah Bao huffed, "Foreigner, listen to this. Angel City is going to attempt a big sacrifice to summon a locust plague! When that happens, other than Angel City, everything alive, including ourselves will be consumed by those worms! Don't you think they have lost their minds?"

    "Then, you guys plan to..." Gu Jun hesitated. As he expected, they were going for a fight. But the problem was how were they going to fight against the Angel City and the Flying Locusts who had such firm hold over the wasteland?

    "We are going to level the place." Ah Bao gritted his teeth. "Today, Angel City will be wiped off the map."

    Da Niu concurred, "The women were forbidden from coming with us! There are still plenty of men back at home, like my younger brother. After Angel City is destroyed, the women can repopulate the world. None of them will believe in the worms anymore. After a few more decades, everything will turn for the better!"

    Shou Hou and Ah Qiang's expressions became complicated. There was solemnity but also fear and loss.

    Gu Jun then realized that this was a one-way trip. Those participated in this journey did not expect to make it back home. But there was still something that bugged Gu Jun. "How big is this Angel City? How many people live there?" Could this Angel City actually be a small hamlet with just several hundred people in population?

    "Well, look over there. We're almost at its border already." Ah Bao pointed ahead. The engine roared louder and the men screamed in bloodlust. Gu Jun turned to look and he was stunned by what he saw.

    Down in the horizon, there was a cityscape. There were endless skyscrapers... Angel City was a modern metropolis.
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