With all of the shops available for a Standard Grade Village built, Cheng Yang decreed that every soldier needed to pick a Profession. Although every Profession was important for the territory, it was critical to have Professions that harvested raw materials. Cheng Yang hoped to collect a large reserve of stone before leveling up the village to prevent a shortage.
Along with the decree, Cheng Yang requested that Ma Tao come and find him. Today, they would visit the safe zone in Cloud City.
In his past life, there were several dozen civilian Professionals by this time and there would be now, too, if Yuan Jianzhe had made the same choices in this life. As long as Cheng Yang was careful, he and Ma Tao would be able to enter the safe zone without exposing their identities.
As Cheng Yang was leaving Phoenix Village, he heard Lau Hui call out to him. “My Lord, I heard you were going into the Cloud City safe zone today.”
“I am.” Cheng Yang said turning around to see Lau Hui and his girlfriend. “Why? Did you want to come?”
“Not me, I have my duties as a general to attend to. It was just that Pang Sun wanted to ask you for a favor.”
Seeing her chance, Pang Sun stepped up. “My Lord, since you’re going to the safe zone, I was hoping to have a chance to search for my friend. I know this is a bit excessive since most soldiers haven’t even found their families yet but my friend is very special to me. Since she was also a student of Yu Cheng University like we were, she’s close enough to the safe zone to have been saved by now. That’s why I’m hoping you’ll allow her to become a citizen of Phoenix Village if we find her.” Pang Sun rambled, ending with an apologetic smile.
When Cheng Yang heard the first sentence, he frowned. As Pang Sun said, many people hadn’t rescued their families but she wanted to save a friend. If this had come from anyone else, Cheng Yang would have scolded them. However, this request had come from his friends girlfriend so he couldn’t ignore it. There wasn’t really a difference between finding one person and finding two so Cheng Yang was ready to agree.
“What’s her name?” He asked.
“Liu Wei, were you ever in a class with her?”
“Liu Wei?” Cheng Yang asked in shock.
“Aha, I knew you would know her. She was the most beautiful girl in school so how could you have forgotten her?”
It was true; back when he was a student, Liu Wei’s had captured his heart. However, after experiencing the hardships of the apocalypse, Cheng Yang had a new definition of the word beauty.
“Beauty?” He asked with his head slightly tilted, “What use is beauty that is nice to look at? The most beautiful woman in this world isn’t a woman that is pretty but a woman that is strong. Regardless, if we find her I’ll bring her to Phoenix Village.”
Although it was a frivolous request, it gave Cheng Yang a bit of hope. If they were able to find Liu Wei maybe he could find some of his other old classmates? Although he had saved his closest friends, there were several people he had good relationships with at the university. If he was able to find them, he wanted to be able to give them a better life than they could get in Cloud City.
Cheng Yang would actively hunt monsters as he travelled on a normal day but, since the safe zone of Cloud City was over ten kilometers away, he couldn’t afford to slow down. If Cheng Yang were to run full speed towards the safe zone, he could reach it in just half an hour. Unfortunately, Ma Tao was far slower than Cheng Yang, so it took more than two hours for them to get there.
“My Lord, is that dome the safe zone?” Ma Tao asked when he saw the brightly glowing barrier at the center of Cloud City.
“Yes. That barrier prevents any monsters from entering the safe zone so, relatively speaking, its actually safer to live in there than in Phoenix Village even though we’re stronger than the citizens here.”
“Will we be able to set up a barrier like that for our village?” Ma Tao asked jealously.
Hearing him say “our village”, the corners of Cheng Yang’s mouth turned up. Even when tempted with absolute safety, Ma Tao was still willing to stay in Phoenix Village. Cheng Yang didn’t know it but nearly every soldier in Phoenix Village would have acted the same way. Although it had only been a week and a half since the world ended, the people living in Phoenix Village had started to consider it home.
“I’m not sure but I don’t think having a barrier will be necessary.” Cheng Yang replied firmly. “Living in a barrier just makes you lazy. The only way to be truly safe is to have the strength to protect yourself. One day, we’ll be strong enough to destroy any threat to Phoenix Village and grasp destiny in our hands.”
Ma Tao felt that Cheng Yang’s goals were too ambitious, but was it a bad thing to be optimistic?
“My Lord, rest assured, the soldiers of Phoenix Village will fight by your side for humanity’s future.”
“I’m glad. Now, let’s go check out the safe zone. Watch out for members of the military and don’t talk too much. Take this, use it to make sure no one will see your equipment.” Cheng Yang warned, handing Ma Tao a cloak.
The two hadn’t even walked a hundred meters before than ran into a military patrol.
The soldier’s from Ma Tao’s memories were an intimidating group wearing tactical body armor and armed with guns but the one’s in front of him looked like something out of a comedy sketch. The soldiers marched in orderly lines wielding stick and blades. Although he wanted to laugh, Ma Tao knew that he probably looked just as funny wearing his set of leather armor.
Once the soldiers noticed Cheng Yang and Ma Tao, one of the officers called out to them, “Halt! Identify yourselves. Why are you two operating alone?”
“Sir, we’re members of the Bloodhound Militia. The captain asked us to scout the area around the rest of the group.” Cheng Yang answered without batting an eye.
“Oh, so you were with the Bloodhounds? Led your leader know that he’ll get an extra new member today. The army has been really pleased with the Bloodhound’s dedication.” The officer laughed, “I’ve heard reports that a couple of small monster groups have broken through the perimeter so be careful. We’re still a kilometer away from the safe zone so it’s dangerous to be in such a small group. It would be a shame if you ended up in some monster’s gullet.”
“Thank you for the advice, sir. We’ll be careful.” Cheng Yang said respectfully as the patrol marched past them. Cheng Yang winked at Ma Tao and started to walk towards the safe zone.
“My Lord, how did you know one of the militia’s names?” Ma Tao whispered. “You’ve never been to the safe zone before.”
“I saw a vision of the future remember? I know quite a bit about the state of the safe zone actually.”
Ma Tao nodded with reverence, not doubting Cheng Yang in the slightest.
As they got closer to the barrier, they saw more and more humans. There were two distinct groups of people willing to leave the safety of the city, warriors and scavengers. The warriors either wore military uniforms or clean close fitting clothes. The scavengers were dirty and emancipated, wearing whatever they had on when the earthquake destroyed the city.
The warriors were obviously outside the city to kill the respawning monsters, the scavengers on the other hand were searching through the ruins for supplies. Although the army provided them with food, there was never enough. Not to mention other supplies such as medicine or sanitary items.
If the civilians wanted anything more than a thin bowl of soup two times a day, they needed to get it themselves from the ruins.
Whenever Cheng Yang and Ma Tao passed by a group of those refugees, their eyes would be filled with envy and fear.
Cheng Yang had become accustomed to receiving those glares a long time ago, but for Ma Tao this was a new and frightening experience. Although there were civilians in Phoenix Village, none of them needed to risk their lives scavenging for scraps.
Even now and then, Ma Tao would watch a monster spawn near a group of scavengers. Without being able to resist in the slightest, the monsters would devour the flesh of whatever person was unlucky enough to get caught. Although the warriors in the area would quickly slay the respawned monster, there was no way to bring back the dead.
Watching this, Ma Tao was on the verge of tears. His high expectations for the safe zone in Cloud City had been shattered.
“Do all the ordinary people in Cloud City need to live like this?” He asked Cheng Yang in a quiet voice.
Cheng Yang looked at Ma Tai with pity. “What else can they do? It’s impossible for the tens of thousands living here to all perform class change ceremonies in just a few days. Sadly, it will only get worse as a caste system begins to develop. Professionals will feel superior to normal people and, well, I’m sure you can guess the rest.”
“Are humans really so lowly that they’d act so selfishly in this kind of situation?” Ma Tao asked bitterly.
He didn’t need Cheng Yang to respond. The answer was all around him.
“You’ll be able to clearly see the plight of ordinary people in this new world when you enter the safe zone.” Cheng Yang said grimly.
Ma Tao became silent and just quietly walked behind Cheng Yang. What cruel fate had his family experience in the safe zone?
When they reached the barrier, Cheng Yang walked though without slowing down. Ma Tao on the other hand, hesitated in front of the brightly glowing screen of light. Clenching his teeth he charged through the barrier.
“I didn’t feel a thing?” Ma Tao whispered in confusion.
“Of course not.” Cheng Yang chuckled. “After all, the barrier only stops monsters.”
“Which is why the safe zones aren’t entirely safe,” Cheng Yang thought to himself. Since the barrier only blocked monsters from entering, Ascendants were able to enter the safe zones and wreak havoc. Ascendants had destroyed more than one safe zone in his past life.