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235 Fools

    Kiba silently looked on as Ashlyn jumped from one tree to another as she proceeded ahead. In his heart, there was only pity.

    "Cursed ones... the ones whom the era of evolution didn't deem worthy enough."

    He now understood why she suffered such severe side effects and have to consume those pills after the recent battle.

    Tapping a foot on the branch, he leaped in the air. He transformed a series of afterimages and caught up with Ashlyn.

    "Ashlyn, do you know the coordinates of ice blood flower?" Kiba asked. He acted as if the conversation just now never happened.

    Ashley nodded and conjured a digital tablet in her hand. A few seconds later, she showed him a map marked with a red dot. The distance from their present location was about fifty miles, and in between, there were various strategic points targetted by human hunters. Neither of them has any interest in those spots so they were not expecting any trouble for the time being.

    A few hours later.

    Kiba and Ashlyn were rushing forward when they felt energy ripples in the air. They looked towards their right, and some distance away, two teams were in the middle of a battle. Each team has about four to five members, and they were going against each other with full force.

    One of them noticed the new arrivals and signaled the others. In less than a minute, the deadly battle stopped as if both teams have found a common enemy.

    In the forest, there was no lack of people who would take advantage of a conflict between two parties. Such people would wait for the conflict to end and attack the winner who was weakened and exhausted.

    "The mantis stalks the cicada, unaware of the oriole behind," The leader of one of the teams said.

    The leader of the other group also thought the same. They both reasoned the newly arrived duo was playing the role of the oriole.

    The truth was that they have discovered a precious fruit some few hundred meters away. The fruit was yellow and circular, hanging from a stout stem with a rosette of sword-shaped leaves. It was a vitality enhancing fruit, a truly rare item in this part of the forest.

    While the extended vitality could buy a year at most since the fruit was not fully ripe, but for a man at the end of life, even a minute was as valuable as a year.

    In the present era, most genetic experiments and research were focused on gaining strength and increase lifespan. Every year billions would be spent on finding new ways and exploiting the potential in genes for such causes.

    Most of the research on these two fields was backed by the world government and top corporations. After all, those running the powerful organizations were mostly old men, and the thing which they dreaded the most was obviously death.

    No matter the status and power, death was a common fate for all, regardless of background or race. Most of these men have spent decades to reach their current position of power, and when they finally they got the chance to enjoy the fruits of their hard work, they realized they were no longer in the primes of their youth. All the scheming, betrayal and dirty work would be for nothing if death embraces them.

    This fear of death and loss of power, in a way, gave rise to the increase in the numbers of adventurers and treasure hunters. They would explore mutated forests and other deadly regions to find items that could help in extending the lifetime and strength.

    The two teams were made of such adventurers. The fruit which they found was still undergrowth but they had no intention of waiting since for the fruit to fully ripe, it would take decades.

    No, even if they were told the fruit would ripe tomorrow, they wouldn't wait. The risk of others knowing or someone else stealing was high.

    "Please continue," Kiba waved his hand in a goodbye motion. "We are leaving."

    While the fruit was rare, it couldn't help him or anyone close to him. Maybe if it was fully grown, then he would have even considered taking it but as of now, he has no interest.

    Ashlyn's thinking was the same as him. She has fruits she wanted but they were in the core region. This was why they both wanted to avoid any unnecessary conflict.

    "You take us for fools?" A man asked in an angry voice.

    How was it possible for someone to not lust for such precious fruit? The two were obviously lying, and most likely, they would wait for an opportunity to strike or bring more companions. In either case, the two shouldn't leave this place to save future troubles.

    "Actually yes, I take you all for fools," Kiba said with a heavy sigh. Neither of the teams wanted someone else to benefit from their conflict so their thoughts were pretty understandable.

    Ashlyn put a hand on her other hand to take out a disc.

    "No need," Kiba's voice entered her ears. "They are just fools so we don't need to dirty our hands."

    "Son of a bitch!" A team leader loudly cursed. "I'm going to rip you apart!"

    "Sure, go ahead and try," Kiba stretched his arms as if inviting him, "But when you are busy tearing me, who would guard that fruit? Your newfound friend?"

    The team leader's expression turned ugly. He obviously was thinking the same. There was a strong risk of betrayal at the last moment when they tried to deal with this new enemy. After all, every one of them wanted that fruit.

    "He is trying to demoralize us," The another team's leader said. "We would attack him together!"

    "Good!"

    The two teams agreed and they dashed towards Kiba.

    "Well, that was rather easy," Kiba said with a smirk. "You left the fruit unguarded."

    "Everyone is here so there is no risk to that fruit!" One of the team leaders waved his hand and the ground split apart. Hundreds of stone spikes shot out with a screeching sound.

    The other team leader closed his hands and a sonic beam boomed out. Their subordinates took out guns and fired multiple shots.

    Every one of them attacked to kill the duo so that they could concentrate on the fruit.

    "Who said everyone is here?" Kiba put a hand on Ashlyn's shoulder before adding, "At least, we are not here any longer."

    "What?!"

    As the attacks were about to land on them, they both disappeared in a blinding flash.

    "Fuck! Teleporter!"

    Everyone's expression changed for worse. They turned around and saw the duo next to the fruit.

    Kiba plucked the fruit, and with a smile, gave a low bow, and said, "Thank you."

    Ashlyn has a strange expression on her face. She didn't know what to think of his action. He obviously didn't need the fruit and neither did he need to teleport.

    The two teams stared at him with deep hatred. If looks could kill, he would have died a thousand times by now.

    "Mother**er!"

    "Return that fruit to us!"

    "We found it!"

    "You have no right to take it!"

    Both teams rushed towards him but they stopped in middle, afraid he would teleport again. While it was possible to stop a teleporter, that needed preparations and proper coordination. Something that wasn't possible in such a short time.

    Kiba observed the fruit before bringing his eyes on the two teams.

    "Actually, you guys are right," Kiba raised his hand and threw the fruit towards them. "The fruit is yours."

    Everyone was startled. They didn't think he would return it just by their warnings.

    Without caring about their temporary partnership or thinking much, everyone jumped in the air to catch the fruit. The only thing thought in their hearts was the fruit was their ticket to being millionaire, and they must absolutely get it. If they failed to grasp the fruit now, then there would be no other chance.

    "It is mine!"

    "No!"

    "Get lost!"

    "AHHH!"

    Everyone started pushing each other to catch the fruit. As the fruit shot towards them, their struggle turned into a riot which soon transformed into a full-scale battle.

    The present scene was akin to a human throwing a piece of meat among starved dogs. The desperate dogs would do anything to get meat, even killing each other, and that's what happened now.

    One mutant has his heart pierced by a stone spike while other has his head exploded by a sonic boom.

    BANG!

    Bullets started shooting at each other, and everyone went all out using their abilities.  In less than a minute, everyone except the team leaders was dead.

    The team leaders collapsed on the floor, their bodies filled with heavy injuries.

    The battle just now was short but it was far more intense. Earlier, the fruit was unplucked so they fought while ensuring no harm to self since they have to think of the future. Now, no such luxury was available which brought them to their current state.

    The fruit which was responsible for this mess was actually on the ground. Neither of the teams could keep it when the battle began or ended.

    ~step~

    The team leaders turned after hearing a stepping sound. Kiba was walking in a slow and relaxed manner. It was like he was in a park and not a forest.

    "33% of the world's population is starving and living in extreme poverty," Kiba said as he stepped forward. "Yet, you guys are letting such a precious fruit go to waste by discarding it."

    The team leaders almost coughed up blood in anger. If not for him, they would not be in their present situation, and now he was saying such words?!

    They were not discarding the fruit! It was him who brought them to such a state that they could not take the treasure despite it being in front of their eyes!

    "Oh well, since you guys don't want this," Kiba leaned down and retrieved the fruit. "I shall take it."

    "Bastard! Stop!"

    "That's mine!"

    The team leaders felt their blood boiling. Their eyes were bloodshot and they cursed him nonstop. Their comrades were already dead, and if he takes the fruit, then what was the use of so many sacrifices?!

    "You tricked us by inviting us!"

    "Don't you feel any shame to use such disgraceful scheme?!"

    "The gods would punish you for using underhanded tactics!"

    Kiba listened to their abuses with a nonchalant expression. A minute later, the two stopped after running out of breath.

    "You are blaming me but shouldn't you blame your own foolishness instead?" Kiba asked.

    The team leaders were in no state to argue. Kiba was responsible for their injuries and the death of their comrades, but he did so without attacking them! In a way, he only exploited their greed, and nothing else.

    "Join your teams in the underworld!" Kiba said as he stretched his right hand and shot out two beams of energy. The team leaders cried and whimpered before evaporating into a crimson mist.

    Behind, Ashlyn let out a low sigh as she reached a conclusion based on everything she has seen in the last few days.

    "He is a sadist."
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