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91 Mercenaries for Hire

    Inside the mall...

    "If he tries to do anything, kill him." Jun ordered the masked men that held the thief. Their eyes glowed and returned with clarity, meaning that they received the order.

    "Wait for me over there. I'll deal with him later. I just have some business to deal with."

    The two masked men nodded their heads. The man tried pleading to be let go, pledging that he would live an honest life, but he failed when a group of angry women stormed out from the second floor. A young lady smacked him in the face followed by seven more slaps that made the man's face swell.

    After learning about the reason why the man was held captive, the masked men held the man's arms tighter and treated him roughly every time he spoke.

    Jun went to the back office to submit Old John's request, his crafting tools, anvils and other bunch of equipment. He also requested if he could make any range type of weaponry. Which the old man replied with a snicker, "Here I thought you were concerned for me. Looks like you're concerned over my health these days, huh."

    Jun smiled the whole time Old John vexed his feelings out. Afterwards, he finally answered the question. "I can make bows, nothing special, just simple ones with bent wood and strings. If you want crossbows, then give me a blueprint and I can probably learn it."

    Old John suddenly shook his head, "Concern over me, huh! You just increased my workload."

    Jun wryly smiled as he sarcastically replied. "I thought you like working here."

    "Well, yeah. What? This old man can't voice out his feelings anymore?"

    "You're social skills suck. I mean, you weren't good back then, but it really worsened now." Jun shook his head as he left. "You should try and get some apprentice. Having someone to talk with seemed better than spending your day here quietly."

    After Jun left the room, Old John pondered over the idea of having an apprentice. Ever since blacksmithing started all the way on the ancient times, apprentices were always present. There are many reasons why it has been sought after, the most common was to acquire knowledge and continue the craft for earning a livelihood.

    That afternoon, a conspicuous advertisement looking for crafting apprentice was posted on the bus. The advertisement gathered a lot of attention and the news spread like wildfire among the survivors. Black Haven's main craftsman is recruiting apprentices! That's right, apprentices! Not just one, but a total of five apprentice. The interesting part is that the only requirement is that the person must have strong perseverance. They don't need any previous background or knowledge regarding crafting. Everything will be taught to them from scratch.

    This became the talk of the town since there was nothing else noteworthy to talk about at the moment.

    When Jun came back at the mall's entrance, he saw Edward smashing someone on the floor. Jamie tried pacifying the situation, but was blocked by barriers and couldn't approach him. She just shouted for him to stop, but he didn't listen.

    "You could have waited." Jun said as he approached the group. "There's too many eyes and ears over here."

    Edward raised his head after staring down at the man on the floor. He saw Jun glaring at him and he flinched. After taking some air, the hotheadedness he felt disappeared. His shoulders relaxed as he backed off.

    "You're going to deal with him, right? Let me come with you. I'm ready." Edward said, rage still noticeable in his eyes.

    "You're not. Stay here and tend to her." Jun replied.

    Edward followed where Jun was indicating and saw Jamie, shedding some tears. When he met her eyes, he felt guilt and wanted to criticize himself more harshly.

    Jamie shook her head and ran up to the second floor, going back into her room.

    "Take care of her. And remember, no one is ever ready. It just happens."

    Jun walked by and signaled for the masked men to carry the bruised man on the floor. As they were about to pick the man up, the man crawled towards Jun.

    "Please! I'm sorry, I won't do it again. Please let me go, just once!" the man begged knowing that his life might be really on the line.

    The two masked men shook their heads, thinking to themselves, "You don't plead from a devil."

    ***

    In the plaza square...

    "Have you seen the notice? Old John is looking for apprentices! What do you think? Should I apply? I can finally use this babies to earn some quick money, hoo-ha!" said a mustached man as he flexed his skinny arms.

    "Stop that! You're embarrassing me! People will think that our group is weird if you keep on doing that! Hi, hello, we are the Caged Animals. Please look for us if you have any problem that you want to be dealt with. Any kind of problem, we are efficient, we charge cheaply and we do our work professionally- wait! Please come back! Darn it. So I was saying, you should stop flexing your arms like that. Aish, I give up on you! Do what you want." the huge fat man sighed, then turned to his side.

    "Bear, how's client search doing?"

    The bearded man replied as he glared at everyone passing by. "Not going well, no one seems to be interested to avail our services."

    His eyebrows were almost touching each other making him a unibrow. He also held a placard that says, 1000 CP for one mission, with small additional words written on the side, "Payment First".

    They never thought that the price was high since they would be using valuable time and putting their life on the line for doing the missions. They also knew that not many people would be willing to spend that high of a price for a single request. They don't even know what kind of requests they would receive.

    They were new to the service industry since they spontaneously decided working as mercenaries. They got tired of scavenging abandoned houses and leaving their fates to luck, hoping that they hit a jackpot on one random house. They wanted to challenge themselves and explore something new.

    The idea started when they overheard a woman requesting help from the police to look for her missing boyfriend. Though the police accepted and repeatedly assured her that they would do their best and search for him the woman still left dejected. This ignited some of the fat man's brain cells and with the goal of fulfilling personal requests, they started their mercenary lives.

    "H-hello." a voice came from behind them.

    The three turned their heads at the same time. A fragile elegant woman stared at them while having her arms close to her body as if protecting herself from invisible threats.

    "Hi, are you new here? Are you lost? Is there anything we could help you with?" said Monkey.

    "Yes, please. I saw that you guys are mercenaries, is that correct?"

    The Bear glared softly while the Monkey grinned widely, before he could even open his mouth, Chanchan already shut him up and pushed him to the side. His huge fatty scared the woman a little, but she managed not to run away.

    "We are the Caged Animals happy to be of service. We can help you with anything at a cheap price of 1000 CP - Payment First. Let's hear your problem. shall we?" Chanchan said politely as he rubbed his hand together.

    The woman seemed reluctant at first, but finally said her request after Chanchan egged her to talk by nodding his head, as if saying go on.

    "I want you to help me level up."

    A few moments after she said her request, Monkey hurriedly pulled Chanchan's arm.

    "What is it?" Chanchan irritably said. They finally have their first potential customer and this monkey is acting weirdly. He hoped that the woman wouldn't view them badly over this.

    "She said to help her level up! And that's 1000 CP. We could buy essence crystals, then make her level up, then we keep the rest of the money! This is good!" said Monkey.

    Chanchan's eyes widened in realization, this would be an easy mission and they would earn a hefty amount while practically doing nothing!

    He turned around to accept the request, just to have their easy-money plan be shattered by the woman. She said, "I don't want to level up by absorbing shards. I heard it has a huge disadvantage regarding generating skills and i don't want to risk starting out with only a single skill."

    Chanchan turn around once more, to ask Monkey what to do. The Bear on the side finally spoke, "We could just do it, you know? We know how to fight regular zombies and with our weapons, we should be able to do it safely. We should just veer off the danger zone and we should be fine. What do you think?"

    "Okay, let's do it!"

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    "Okay!"

    Chanchan turned around and held out his Black Haven credit points card. The woman did the same and pulled out a black card from her pockets.

    ["0042" sent you 500 CP.]

    Chanchan frowned. "This is not the agreed amount."

    "And you haven't done your part. I'll pay the other half right after I level up." the woman smiled charmingly, causing Chanchan to feel lightheaded.

    He nodded his head and said, "Fair enough."
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