The line moved forward again.
When passing by that black military vehicle, Yu Feichen turned his head slightly.
He could see the silhouette of a young man inside.
The silhouette of a young man could be seen inside.
His back was straight and upright, aesthetic as he leaned slightly against the black, leather seats.
He wore snow-white gloves on his left hand.
On his right, the glove was removed, with which he used to wipe down the barrel of a silver gun.
From the guard’s conversation, this ‘Black Chapter Captain’ had freshly graduated from ‘Tin Cloud Military Academy’ this month.
However, in Yu Feichen’s opinion, even an instructor from the academy might not be able to achieve such a graceful, practised way of handling guns.
Moreover, only frequently fired guns needed to be disassembled and wiped down.
After pressing the disassembled parts back in, the gun remained on his lap.
The young captain rested his right hand on the half-opened window, a gesture that looked breezy and arrogant, as if he were the commander of this camp.
The snow-white, fine cloth glove slid off his fingers, spiralling in the wind before landing on the frozen, greyish-brown ground.
One of the guards swore.
Their white gloves were already stained and spotted with dirt, yet this external commanding officer wantonly wasted resources without a second thought.
The whimpering cold wind grew into a roaring gust.
Several snowflakes fell from the sky, whirling through the half-open window.
That platinum blonde-haired captain angled his head down slightly.
He covered his lips and nose with a handkerchief and coughed a few times before finally turning his icy green eyes towards the prisoners.
His gaze swept across the line of people.
Yu Feichen was sure that their gazes briefly met for a fleeting moment, but at that time, his face remained expressionless, as did the face of the dignified and arrogant captain.
The next moment, the captain pressed down a knob by the side of the window and the dark brown glass windows rose, blocking the sight.
The light snow only lasted for about fifteen minutes.
The sky was as grey as the base of a porcelain teacup.
It was now the married couple’s turn.
The epaulette of the officer seated at the centre of the long table displayed the rank of a senior colonel.
He lifted his chin at the wife.
Embarrassing women seemed to be one of Black Chapter Army’s hobbies, for men could leave on a pair of trousers, whereas women had to strip completely bare.
There was even a two-metre tall mirror placed in front of the long table which not only reflected the person stripping, but also allowing them to see all of the people lined up behind, magnifying the humiliation of this action thousandfold.
Her husband kept whispering, “Don’t be afraid, Leanna, it’s okay.”
She took off her outer garments and untied the band of her undergarments, sobbing.
“Are you pregnant?” a doctor in a white coat said.
In actuality, the bulge of her belly wasn’t obvious and could be passed off as fat deposits had Yu Feichen not witnessed how she protected her stomach the whole time.
She looked at her husband in panic, then turned to look at the two groups standing on the left.
In one group were women, old men, and children.
In the other were a pregnant woman near her term, a cripple, an albino, and a new addition, an ugly man with dwarfism.
The doctor had a kind, round face and held a thick fleece blanket in his right hand.
He smiled at her gently, “Dr.
Seber and I will take care of you and your baby.”
The husband patted her and motioned for her to go over that side.
Admittedly, this doctor’s kindness was moving.
But no one had ever heard of such a detention centre that would both take care of pregnant women and let women stand bare in the cold wind.
No one knew which side was the safer option.
Her gaze wavered unsurely between the two groups and she finally bit her lip, saying, “I’m not pregnant, sir.”
The doctor gave an apologetic smile, waving his hand.
“It’s a pity.”
She walked over to stand with the women, children, and elderly.
A guard gave her a sack-like flannel robe.
The officer looked at her husband.
“Gerold Hilding,” he said.
“What was your occupation before this?”
“I’m a middle school teacher.” He paused.
“I taught chemistry.”
The officer said, “Not bad.”
Another officer took down his name, and he was assigned to the ranks of the grown men, a group obviously put together for manual labour.
After Gerold left, Yu Feichen moved forward and reported his name and occupation.
He clearly saw himself in the mirror; approximately twenty five years of age, wearing a black shirt, vest, and a greyish blue plaid coat.
He had a head of deep golden, chestnut hair, and his eyes were dark blue like ink.
As for his facial features, he felt that he didn’t look much different from how he looked in Paradise.
Then again, due to his facial blindness, he couldn’t claim this with certainty.
He took off his coat and began to unbutton his shirt.
Meanwhile, a guard searched his trouser pockets and the soles of his boots.
Yu Feichen tilted his head down slightly and stretched out his right hand, passing his shirt to the guard.
At the same time, the guard reached out and handed him the subpar quality grey clothes.
Just then, he subtly waved his left wrist.
The guard looked up and caught sight of the silver glint on his platinum watch.
During this short second, a silver-plated lighter and sharp, folding pocket knife that had been previously transferred to his shirt pocket was hooked in his hand and swiftly disappeared under the cover of his grey clothes.
After taking his former clothes, the guard roughly turned to the left and removed his wristwatch.
At the same time, no one saw him slip the lighter and knife into the side pocket of his trousers.
Now that the coat was gone, the young man in the mirror had strong limbs and sharp, neat lines of musculature.
“Fine fellow.” The officer’s face was cold.
He gave a hoarse sneer, “The kiln needs a good lad like you more desperately than bricks.
I’ve to give that meddlesome tuberculosis bitch something to do, but Korosha bastards and swindler lawyers should be sent to the kilns.”
His adjutant, along with the other guards, began to laugh.
Yu Feichen looked at him coldly.
Indeed, crude jokes were a common pastime in some armies, but the senior colonel’s bulging, bloodshot eyes, slightly twitching eyelids, and the rough, low timbre of his voice all suggest that he was abnormal in the mind.
If this were a zombie world, this could be considered the beginning of alienation.
However, based on what he had seen thus far, Yu Feichen felt that this was a regular world.
After the officer was done muttering curses, Yu Feichen naturally joined the ranks of the labourers.
Next was Bai Song.
This boy who had served in the military was only slightly shorter than him, and had firm muscles and strong bones.
So, he was given the nickname ‘cinder-eating Korosha mongrel’.
Several others followed after, receiving various nicknames such as frog-eating Korosha mongrel, cinder-eating Korosha frog, and mongrel-eating Korosha cinder.
Women and children were taken to the other side of the wall, while the group with the pregnant women and albino patients were whisked off in a vehicle.
The labouring group was divided into four teams.
One team went to the oak mountain in the south to collect acorns, the other team went to the hillside in the north to cut trees, the third team built barracks, and the fourth team was assigned to the brick kilns.
However, it was already night.
Instead of making them work through the night, the detention centre used three trucks to bring them to their barracks.
They were led into a long concrete building with twenty cells on each side.
The cells were small and humid.
Ten mattresses were placed above straw mats on the floor.
“Stay there, mongrel.”
The mattress that Yu Feichen was assigned was the barrack in the deepest corner opposite the lavatory.
He was with Bai Song, Gerold, the frog-eating Korosha mongrel, and three other men that he didn’t know.
There were seven of them in total.
He chose the side by the door so that he could see the situation outside more easily.
Bai Song chose the space next to him.
A guard walked over, kicking the iron gates of the cells back to their original position, and dropping padlocks on them one by one.
“I hope that when I wake up, you Korosha frogs are still here.” The chief warden of the barracks was fat and meaty.
He carried a basket of bread and threw them individually through the bars of the iron gates.
The hard and blackened croissants knocked against the ground like stones.
“There are always mongrels who try to escape.
Every time someone escapes, ten people will be executed here.”
The voice neared them.
When a croissant whacked Bai Song’s head, the chief warden pressed his face up to the iron gate, meeting Yu Feichen’s gaze.
Darkness wrapped around him, obscuring his facial features, and the shadows cast by light on the wall were long and vertical.
“The gate was locked.
But two people ran off without a trace from this cell, once.” The chief warden’s shrill voice said.
“Guess where the others are now?”
It wasn’t hard to guess.
They had been executed.
Of the forty cells, all others had people already staying in them.
Only theirs was empty.
Bai Song cowered beside Yu Feichen.
“Hoho.” This reaction greatly satisfied the chief warden, and he pulled out the electric cord on the wall.
It was pitch black.
Only a small, fist-sized window in the wall near the ceiling let in a little light.
The chief warden’s footsteps faded away.
Then, another dull locking sound as the door of the cement building was closed.
Water dripped steadily from the lavatory opposite.
Voices came indistinctly from the other cells, but they couldn’t be clearly made out.
Their cell remained deathly silent, aside from the sound of Bai Song gnawing the croissants, which resembled what gnawing a lump of coal would sound like.
“Why aren’t you guys talking?” After a long time, Bai Song asked.
Yu Feichen didn’t answer.
He was thinking of the situation at hand.
Like countless missions in the past, he was thrown into a world outside of Paradise.
But this time, he didn’t know the mission objective, nor did he know the reward.
There were only three types of objectives that can arise from a detention centre where civilians are held during wartime.
Rescue, destruction, or intelligence gathering.
If there wasn’t a clear mission objective, he could just try all three.
As he thought this, someone finally broke the silence.
It was the one who ‘ate frogs’.
He was a thin and weak-looking friar.
“Why do they call us ‘frog-eating mongrels’?” he said.
Bai Song said, “The Black Chapter believes that Koroshans have betrayed the God of Truth, thus leaving the country barren.”
“Korosha has never believed in the God of Truth.”
Bai Song didn’t answer, continuing to gnaw on his bread.
Another man spoke up.
“Korosha is full of coal mines.
They’ve been coveting them for a long time.”
“What are you doing?” Bai Song stopped chewing on coal cinders and asked Yu Feichen.
Yu Feichen was looking at the padlock.
After he inspected the thick iron lock, he shook the tightly welded iron bars.
They were very sturdy.
“Two men had escaped before,” he said.
“Probably not from here,” Bai Song also touched them, saying, “you can run when you pick acorns or cut wood.”
Unfortunately, they both belonged to the team manning the brick kilns.
But Yu Feichen clearly remembered the chief warden stressing that the gates were locked.
Sometimes, subtle anomalies were the key to breaking through.
The friar said, “Their God of Truth believes that it’s a virtue to treat prisoners with kindness.”
“I hope that’s so.”
—His companions didn’t look to have any desire to escape.
After scanning the cell under the wan moonlight, Yu Feichen simply closed his eyes and entered a light sleep.
He didn’t eat the bread for he had no interest in eating coal cinders.
Perhaps it might soften a little by morning from the humidity in this place.
He slept very shallowly.
This was a habit ingrained from the countless missions he had completed.
Any suspicious movement would wake him, and even if there wasn’t any, he would still wake once every hour.
An hour later, another man in their cell began to chew on cinders.
Bai Song started to snore lightly.
In the second hour, all six people in the cell fell asleep.
In the third hour, a few people were whispering from the neighbouring cell.
In the fourth hour, the midnight bell tolled in the distance.
Surrounded by darkness, Yu Feichen suddenly opened his eyes.
The dripping of water in the lavatory had vanished.
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