“These are the leaders of the settlement.” Jie Zhengqing said without honorifics. “That old man in the middle is Wei Yun. He makes most of the decisions and leaves small matters to the others.”
Wei Yun looked like he was around fifty, which surprised Cheng Yang. Normally someone so old wouldn’t be able to claim a position of power without a class.
At the moment, Wei Yun was frowning, and his lackeys had grave expressions.
Cheng Yang coughed to get the other party’s attention.
“Can’t you see that we’re busy asshole? Who the hell are you?” A forty-year-old man named Su Zong growled. He had a short temper normally, so when they were interrupted, he snapped.
“Who I am doesn’t matter. What does is that I’ve come to offer you hope.” Cheng Yang said without putting on airs.
“You…?” Su Zong was so angry he nearly burst a blood vessel. “Who the hell are you to say you can offer us hope during this damned apocalypse? You better not be some kind of religious jackass. If you’ve been spreading bullshit around, you’re going to regret it!”
The man’s accusation wasn’t unfounded. A week ago, there was a man who claimed to be an angel and swindled people into feeding themselves to monsters so he could gather food. Once the leaders of the settlement found out, they fed him to the monsters as well.
“Can you give others hope? Just because you can’t, does that mean I can’t either?” Cheng Yang wasn’t in a hurry to prove anything, so he danced around the issue. “Do you recognize the woman next to me? You may not know her name, but you’ve surely seen her face?”
Wei Yun and the others closely studied Jie Zhengqing’s face. Cheng Yang was right. They had seen her before since they made it a point to recognize the members of their exploration teams.
“Miss Zhenqiang? Which team are you in?” Asked a new person.
“I used to be in group three, but now this man here is my boss. He brought me here to persuade you to submit to him as well.”
“Tch, yet another deluded idiot.” The same person replied. “What did he offer you that was so good that you betrayed us? Did we wrong you somehow?”
Despite the angry questioning, Jie Zhengqing was completely calm. Even if she cared about betraying the settlement, it wasn’t voluntary in the first place.
“Dude, don’t jump to conclusions so quickly.” Cheng Yang smiled warmly. “I know you’re upset, but you need to move past that. Now, I have a question for you. If I had the power to save everyone in your settlement, would you willingly become my soldiers?”
Su Zong snorted. “How is that possible? I bet you can’t even guarantee you’ll be alive tomorrow.”
“Silence Su Zong.” Wei Yun said while looking at Cheng Yang with narrowed eyes. “Youngster, if you really can save this settlement, this old man with do your bidding. But what if you can’t? Then what? You confound my citizens and lead them astray? Have them die for you only to accumulate grudges with your enemies? How could I accept this kind of risk.”
What a sly fox! He pretended to agree on the surface but revealed a hidden blade with the other hand. The meaning of his words couldn’t be more obvious: If you fuck this up, you’ll meet a tragic end.
At the same time, a crowd of explorers surrounded the houses. Although most people lost their will to live, there would always be those striving to survive. If Cheng Yang could offer them a way out, they would grab onto it desperately. Otherwise, they would rip him to shreds and discard him.
Cheng Yang’s smile grew wider. Although that old man was arrogant, his performance was satisfactory. He was worth subduing.
“I hope you’ll keep your word.” Cheng Yang winked at Lau Hui.
Once he received the signal, Lau Hui raised his staff above his head and started to cast Summon Direwolf.
His actions caused a ripple of sighs among the crowd. In their eyes, another religious lunatic had appeared.
Only Wei Yun treated Lau Hui seriously. Since he had dared to enter the settlement and challenge them, he had a backup plan. Moreover, he could tell from their eyes that they genuinely believed something would happen.
A few moments later, a bright flash of light blinded everyone. When they could see again, a dire wolf was standing next to Lau Hui.
Was that a wolf? It was as big as an ordinary tiger! The five leaders of the settlement calmly rose to their feet, quickly pulled out their guns, and aimed them at the wolf.
The other survivors rapidly retreated. They were here to watch a nice show, not get killed.
“If you don’t want to die, you’d better not fire those.” Cheng Yang appeared next to Wei Yun so quickly that not a single person had seen him move. Before anyone could react, he grabbed the gun and crushed the barrel.
Fear and despair filled Wei Yun’s heart. He had expected Cheng Yang to have an ace up his sleeve but nothing like this. Even having a tamed monster was somewhat acceptable, but how could you fight someone who moved faster than you could see? Would bullets even work on him?
“You- What are you?” Wei Yun’s face was turning purple with rage and anxiety.
“There’s no need to be nervous. I already told you what I am. I’m your settlement’s only hope for survival.” Cheng Yang tossed the trashed gun back to Wei Yun, “As long as you’re willing to submit to me, one day, your strength will rival my own.”
Wei Yun stayed silent. It was hard to call Cheng Yang a liar right now, but how was it possible for anyone to get that kind of power? Much less tens of thousands of people.
“Now, if that demonstration wasn’t enough proof, I’ll need to find someone else to lead this settlement. So, will you fulfill your promise?”
Since Wei Yun was willing to threaten him, Cheng Yang Yang would do the same. Besides, even if he killed Wei Yun, there would be plenty of people willing to die for the opportunity he was offering.
Wei Yun looked around at his advisors. Most of them were too stricken with fear to think about the offer. However, Wei Yun could tell that none of them had any desire to resist.
“Answer me.” Cheng Yang demanded.
Wei Yun looked up to the sky with a sigh: “Since I’ve given you my word, I will not go back on it but, I have a request for you, sir.”
“We are all poor people struggling to survive, so I hope you’ll be kind to us, sir. The world is already like this, so I hope humanity will not turn on itself and turn out existence into a memory.”
“Don’t worry. As long as I am here, the human race will not die out.”
Although Cheng Yang sounded confident, he was anything but. Even half a year after the apocalypse, humanity was hanging by a thread, so how could he protect it? What if humanity disappointed the gods one too many times?
The future was unknown, and Cheng Yang couldn’t prevent extinction is the gods demanded it. Even if he reached the pinnacle of strength and survived, what was the point if he was the only person left? Maybe that fear of loneliness was what drove Cheng Yang to help others? Only that would be worse than the cold void of death.
Wei Yun had no choice other than to believe in Cheng Yang’s words. Thus, the two sides reached a wordless agreement.
The person most relieved to see this was Jie Zhengqing. Although she would have been safe, if Cheng Yang went on a killing rampage, her friends and family might have died.
“You made the right choice, Mr. Wei. You don’t have to worry about whether that man lied. Although the circumstances weren’t great, I have the power he talked about. Although it’s not at the same level, I can kill weak monsters with ease. The important thing is that my strength hasn’t peaked. By my calculations, I’ll soon have the same power as a first world war tank.”
When Wei Yun heard that, his heart was put at ease. Although the apocalypse had allowed him to escape life as a convenience store clerk to become a leader, he had no confidence in leading his people to salvation.