The Third

"That's not true!" Amelia exclaimed, her face displaying disbelief at Kai's words.

"Believe what you want. But remember, we are a team with a common goal here," Kai muttered, expressing his weariness of being in the bunker as he made his way towards the exit.

Amelia stood rooted in place, watching Kai walk away. She felt a tinge of annoyance that he had left without giving her a chance to respond to his statement.

"You traitor!" Amelia muttered under her breath, making sure Kai, who was still at a distance, couldn't hear her. Frustration surged through her, and she stamped her foot on the ground, only to be met with a sharp pain in her hand, causing her to cry out.

Kai swiftly turned back upon hearing Amelia's cry, casting a concerned glance at her as she clutched her arm in agony.

"More problems while the current one remains unresolved," Kai remarked, retracing his steps to Amelia's side.

He reached out to touch her broken arm, but Amelia halted him with a stern look.

"Hey, don't give me that look. I know my worth, and if not for your cry that I heard, I would have left this place long ago," Kai asserted.

Kai's every word held truth, fueling his anger at the situation, and he walked away from Amelia without glancing back.

"So you're just going to leave me here?" Amelia exclaimed, expecting Kai to turn around as he always had before.

As he approached the bunker's exit, Kai merely waved his hand without looking back.

Amelia darted out of her spot, feeling unsettled by the bunker's eerie atmosphere now that she was the sole occupant.

"I'll make him pay!" Amelia whispered to herself as she stepped out of the bunker.

She stood still in front of the bunker, watching the guards who had once stood watch departing, leaving behind only the lone survivors who faded into the distance.

Despite the destruction of the entire survival base, Amelia felt a sense of joy in finding someone who shared her goal. She hastened her steps, knowing she couldn't be left behind by Kai. Returning to the tent, she found the Chief seated on a hay bed, deep in contemplation, stroking his chin beard—a familiar posture when he had much on his mind.

"Hey!" Amelia gently tapped his shoulder, rousing him from his reverie.

The Chief snapped back to reality, scanning his surroundings for the source of the tap.

"You're back. How did it go in there with you and that criminal?" the Chief inquired, attempting to brush off the dust that clung to his face from the sandstorm.

"It went well, and now I'm ready to move out," Amelia replied.

"Amelia, I won't hold you back anymore, but it would be a shame if you return and find me no longer among the living. I fear we might lose each other, one way or another," the Chief expressed, his hand still caressing his chin.

Amelia understood the Chief's concern. Despite her promises to return, it would be difficult for him to lose both his daughter and the best scavenger he had ever known.

"I can't stay here indefinitely. I've only explored the city; I need to see what lies beyond," Amelia asserted.

"Believe me, Amelia, out there is nothing but pain, fear, and despair. This planet is doomed, and we, the remaining humans, must do everything in our power to avoid extinction."

After grabbing her sword, bow, and slinging a satchel filled with arrows around her waist, Amelia paused and turned back to the tent. She tightly embraced the Chief and planted a kiss on his beard-covered cheek. "I will return. I promise," she whispered.

With a resolute determination, Amelia walked out of the tent, suppressing the tears that welled up in her eyes. Doubts lingered in her mind about leaving the Chief behind, and she wondered what would happen if she encountered her real biological father during her journey.

Her expression turned solemn, as if silently questioning whether she was making the right decision. "I hope I'm on the right track," she muttered to herself.

Kai, absorbed in sharpening his sword, seemed completely engrossed in the process, as if his entire life depended on it.

"You should take it easy with the sword," Amelia spoke up as she approached Kai from behind.

Kai continued sharpening his sword without turning to face Amelia, recognizing her voice. He paused momentarily to tame his long hair that frequently fell in front of his face, obscuring his vision.

"What have I done this time?" Amelia asked as she walked past Kai and positioned herself in front of him.

Kai chuckled, raising his head to meet Amelia's gaze, his hand still gripping the sword he was sharpening. "You haven't done anything wrong, but there's something intriguing about you," he remarked.

"Intriguing?" Amelia was puzzled by Kai's description.

"Yes, there's something mysterious about you," Kai replied.

Amelia felt a jolt of surprise, immediately assuming that Kai might have discovered her true identity as a Zombie shapeshifter. She swiftly attempted to divert the conversation, saying, "We should hurry. We don't want to miss sunset."

"I don't think you're aware of the exact location of the Jaden Federation base. Even with two days of non-stop walking, we won't reach there," Kai replied.

Amelia paused, disappointed in her lack of knowledge about the area beyond the city. She had never ventured far from the survival base, which was only a few kilometers away. She shook her head, unsure of how to respond without revealing her ignorance once again.

Kai secured his sword back into its satchel and turned to face Amelia. "We can't go alone. We need capable individuals to join us."

"I've considered that too, but none of the survivors here would willingly volunteer for a rescue mission against the Jaden Federation."

"I know some trustworthy men who could be useful!" Kai exclaimed.

"That's good. We should gather them and set out then!" Amelia replied to Kai eagerly.

Kai glanced around, as if searching for something, and called out, "Duncan!!!"

Amelia locked her gaze on Kai, perplexed by his loud and echoing voice that traveled across the wasteland. She wondered why he was yelling so urgently. 

Kai continued to search and walked around for a while. Just as he was about to call out again, a heavily built man appeared, dragging a large bag behind him. Amelia silently prayed, hoping that this man wasn't the person Kai was calling for. She recalled the incident where she had wronged him and feared the consequences if they ended up on the same team.

"Where have you been, you moron?" Kai asked angrily as he approached the heavily built man.

Upon seeing Amelia, the heavily built man paused, dropping his jaw in awe. His gaze fixed on Amelia, who was dressed in full armor and carried a bow on her back.

"You can't just drop that; I need it more than your life," Kai teased Duncan as he bent down to retrieve the dropped bag.

Stammering, Duncan managed to ask, "Don't tell me she's coming with us?" Even though he was talking to Kai, his gaze remained fixed on Amelia, who stood at a distance.

"Yeah, she is coming. And let me give you a piece of advice: always protect your precious parts because I can't guarantee their safety from her!" Kai's words sent a shiver down Duncan's spine, and he started to tremble. The memory of the excruciating pain he had experienced the day before still haunted him, and he knew that another blow to his sensitive area would be his downfall.

"She shouldn't be here. She should..." Duncan began to protest, but quickly fell silent as he saw Amelia approaching.

"No, no... no," Duncan stammered, on the verge of fleeing.

"Don't run. I promise you, I won't hurt you," Amelia reassured him, her words laced with sincerity.

Duncan hesitated, his legs tense and ready to bolt, but he couldn't bring himself to move as he heard Amelia's voice. Slowly, he turned, his gaze shifting between Amelia and Kai, who pretended to be oblivious as he unloaded the bag Duncan had brought.

With tears welling up, Duncan pleaded, "I just hope you won't kick my... you know. I'm terrified. Please spare me!" Overwhelmed by fear, he collapsed to the ground, the memory of the pain he had endured still fresh in his mind.

Amelia approached Duncan, who remained bowed, and gently placed her hand on the back of his neck. Duncan was startled and immediately raised his head. Seeing Amelia so close made him shiver even more, surpassing the unease caused by his own arrogance.

"I apologize for my actions; I should have been more polite!" Amelia said, her voice soft and sincere.

"You're truly sorry?" Duncan was taken aback, not expecting Amelia to apologize. He felt that he should be the one apologizing to her, considering he believed he would meet his end with another blow from Amelia.

"Enough with the drama," Kai interjected, sounding unconcerned. He held a tin of canned chicken in his hand, ready to open it. "She said she's sorry, so let's leave it at that. No need to turn yourself into a chicken just because you're afraid of getting kicked in the nuts."

Duncan's eyes caught a glimpse of the chicken in Kai's hand, and he quickly stood up, exclaiming, "You idiot, I was saving that for a special occasion!"

Before Duncan could reach Kai, he had already opened the tin, and Duncan's eyes lit up at the sight. But his joy was short-lived as the chicken disappeared into Kai's mouth, accompanied by strange noises.

"Why does my life have to turn out to be the worst?" Duncan muttered, falling to the ground once again.

Amelia lent her support and helped Duncan up. His eyes welled up with tears, ready to burst, as he watched Kai enjoy the chicken.

Unable to contain his rage any longer, Duncan burst into tears and charged at Kai, his fist clenched, aiming for his face. However, Kai swiftly dodged the attack with lightning speed. Overwhelmed by his own weight, Duncan lost his balance and fell to the ground after missing his punch.

"I will kill you!" Duncan threatened from his position on the ground, his face covered in dust as he struggled to stand. In his mind, he had saved the chicken for a special moment when he would meet a girl who would genuinely love him. Proposing on the wasteland with a ring was not as well received as proposing with a fresh canned chicken.


They all gathered around a campfire, having evacuated the underground bunker and the fallen survival base, seeking refuge in the nearby mountains. A heavy silence hung in the air, broken at last by Duncan, his voice filled with concern.

"I hope we don't get ourselves killed," he said, glancing between Amelia and Kai, searching for reassurance.

Amelia nodded, understanding the gravity of their situation. "Indeed, this won't be an easy task. We must come up with a solid plan before we attempt to infiltrate the Jaden Federation and rescue Logan."

Duncan and Amelia turned their expectant gazes towards Kai, awaiting his input. Kai, however, brought his hand up to cover his mouth as a sudden sneeze escaped him. Recovering quickly, he used his hand to stroke his face and spoke, his voice muffled.

"You guys have no idea what I'm thinking," he said, causing Duncan to react with curiosity.

"What are you thinking about?" Duncan asked, eager for any insights Kai might offer.

Kai's eyes gleamed with a hint of mischief as he replied, "The Jaden Federation's facility is filled with high-tech gadgets and security measures. How are we supposed to bypass them without someone skilled in cracking security systems?"

Amelia and Duncan were taken aback, realizing they had reached a roadblock. Just as their hope began to fade, Kai's sudden exclamation startled them.

"I know who can help!" he shouted, excitement radiating from his voice.

Duncan's somber expression transformed into anticipation as he leaned closer to Kai, eager to hear the name of the person who could skillfully crack the security gadgets. His hopeful eyes locked onto Kai, awaiting his revelation.

With a mischievous glint in his eyes, Kai teased, "It's Logan." He let a brief pause linger in the air before bursting into a playful grin.

Duncan playfully tapped Kai on the head, disappointment etched on his face. "Come on, Kai, don't be foolish. Logan is the one we're trying to rescue. How could he possibly help us when he's being held captive?"

Kai raised an eyebrow, defending his initial suggestion. "Hey, don't blame me. Logan has always been a pro at cracking stuff. It was the first thought that crossed my mind. Just give me a moment to think of someone else."

Kai dove into another round of deep contemplation, his index finger extended beside his head as if trying to channel his thoughts.

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