Plane Supermarket Plane 1: Da Liang Dynasty C28
After the night fell, the supermarket still closed its main hall lights at ten o’clock as usual. Only the lights in the lounge are and the warehouse remains on. At this late hour, the employees had already fallen asleep, but today, not a single person rested.
Wu Yan’s wife sat quietly by the bedside. She held a milk bottle in her hand, feeding her crying daughter. She softly said, “Since the immortal asked you, go. After all, we’re inside the supermarket, nothing bad can happen to us.”
The baby girl had her fill in her mother’s gentle embrace. She licked her lips twice and let out a little milk bubble before extending her tiny arms.
Wu Yan’s wife lifted the child, gently patting her back, and after a while, she put her down for a nap.
“I know you want to impress the immortal,” Wu Yan’s wife understood her husband well. He possessed an unwavering determination, always striving to excel. When the family couldn’t sell their cooking oil, and the town’s grocery stores tried to lower the prices, he would rather sleep under the open sky and travel on foot to the neighboring town to sell it, never compromising on the price.
He was stubborn and had a penchant for taking the spotlight and as stubborn as a cow.
But precisely because of his stubbornness and tenacity, their entire family managed to survive.
“But you must remember that you’re just a mortal,” Wu Yan’s wife patted Wu Yan’s hand. “Remember, you have a daughter.”
Wu Yan glanced at his daughter’s slightly red cheeks and grinned foolishly at his wife. “I’m not off to meet my doom, you know. Didn’t you see that the immortal gave me this magical tool? It’s incredible!”
“If I have good aim, I can hit the bullseye from a hundred steps away without much effort,” Wu Yan assured her. “You can trust me. I won’t show off.”
Although Wu Yan’s wife had never seen the magical tool given by the immortal, she knew it had to be something special. She can only add, “I’ll only teach you not to show off. As for what you can do, that’s for you to figure out.”
Wu Yan laughed, “I understand!”
This time, Cao Er would accompany them as well. After all, she knew how to use the repeating crossbow.
Cao Er frowned. She believed she wasn’t cut out for archery and she didn’t know if she’d hit anyone that night.
She longed to hit the mark, to prove her worth.
But she also hoped not to hit the mark because taking a life was never a good thing.
Torn by her thoughts, she could only sigh deeply. Strangely, Cao Er Niang wasn’t the least bit worried. She kept advising Cao Er, “Since you can use the repeating crossbow, why worry? Just stick with the immortal! Don’t think about anything else.”
Cao Er sighed, “Mother, battles lead to deaths!”
Cao Er Niang looked confused, “Isn’t that a matter of course? Anyway, you won’t die. It’ll be those bandits who will die.”
Cao Er rubbed her face, saying, “Mother, you’ve never killed anyone, so it sounds simple when you say it.”
Cao Er Niang smacked her on the back and scolded, “If I weren’t getting on in years, would I let you go? Look at the others, they’re just doing odd jobs. If the immortal decides to return to the heavens in the future, they won’t ascend to the heavens like us. We’re different!”
Cao Er truly couldn’t fathom what set her apart from the others.
But since her mother had said so, she didn’t dare to argue. If her mother wanted her to go, she wouldn’t dare to refuse.
“Your relationship with Sarah is good. As long as she’s watching out for you, you’ll be fine,” Cao Er Niang said with a glint in her eyes. “Observe and learn more. When you’ve mastered it, you’ll be the right-hand woman of the immortal. When the immortal can’t leave you behind and returns to the heavens, you can go with them as an immortal maiden!”
Ever since Cao Er Niang learned that Wu Yan considered her daughter half-stepping into the immortal realm, she couldn’t let herself fall behind. If Wu Yan’s daughter could become an immortal maiden, why not her own daughter too?
Cao Er nodded obediently.
Ye Zhou had assumed that the next day when they went up the mountain, the employees would surely be weeping and lamenting with their families, exchanging emotions and regrets accumulated over the years. But what actually happened was…
They were telling their “sons,” “husbands,” and “daughters” to do their best, not to embarrass themselves, and to strive for glory in the upcoming battle, with the hope of following the immortal to the heavens.
Not a single person believed there was any danger in this journey.
On the other hand, Ye Zhou stayed in the lounge, filled with self-blame.
“I used to be fixated on guns, that’s why I always want to shoot my way out when something goes wrong,” Ye Zhou lay on the couch, looking up at the ceiling as if he had turned into a boneless salted fish, completely limp. “I could’ve hired people, hired security, hired bodyguards.”
But Zou Ming said, “What happens after this whole thing is over?”
“At the very least, I could sign a one-month contract. Many people require a minimum of three months,” Ye Zhou responded.
“We can cut back on a few,” Ye Zhou suggested, “Hire ten, and once this is over, we can have them stay in the supermarket for three months.”
Zou Ming replied, “If these three months yield no income and they leave, you still won’t have trained your own personnel, nor will you have guns, or accumulated experience. That’s when everything truly goes back to square one.”
Ye Zhou blinked. “… What you said makes sense.”
Hiring people might indeed quickly address the current problem, but it would only lead to more, deeper troubles in the long run.
He didn’t have a stable and reliable source of funds, and he couldn’t guarantee when his next business deal would come through.
Above all, he truly needed to train his own personnal staff.
Although he didn’t know if these employees would join him when he went to the next plane, at the very least, he hoped to leave something behind for them before his departure. Something that would help them navigate this dangerous world on their own.
After all, the employees had genuinely worked diligently for him.
He had clearly told them beforehand that he might not be able to help them once they went out to do business, but they were still willing to risk their lives to bring in business for him.
No matter how others saw him, Ye Zhou had his own moral compass.
“So, I did something right by mistake?” Ye Zhou laughed.
At first, he was still blaming himself, but now he strangely thought that what he was doing wasn’t too bad.
Zou Ming said, “You can’t forever rely on the system, and you can’t entrust your safety entirely to hired hands.” He continued, “Even with contractual limitations, there are always those who can find loopholes. The system’s protective regulations are quite crude. Employees can’t personally harm you, but that’s about it.”
Ye Zhou was confused for a moment. “Does that mean employees won’t want to earn money to return to their own plane?”
His primary goal was to return to his original world. He had no interest in engaging in actual plane trade.
Zou Ming replied, “For people like me, who are alone without any family ties, the conditions in their original dimensions are even harsher. It’s normal for them to want to stay here, and individuals like me are not uncommon among employees.”
Ye Zhou said, “… You don’t have to use yourself as an example.”
Zou Ming remained calm. “I won’t do that.”
Ye Zhou: “…”
Ye Zhou sighed, not quite sure if Zou Ming was genuinely straightforward or just uncalculating.
After all, they were about to head to the “battlefield,” and there was no way Ye Zhou could fall asleep tonight. After checking the smoke grenades, he bid Zou Ming a good night, lay in bed with open eyes, and counted sheep. When he reached two thousand, he felt hungry and got up. He shared a late-night snack with Zou Ming, who was also awake and couldn’t sleep.
It was not until dawn neared that Ye Zhou finally closed his eyes and fell into a deep sleep.
Day and night rotated.
Ye Zhou was awakened by the alarm he had set before going to sleep.
At ten in the morning, there was already activity outside the lounge. When Ye Zhou finished getting ready and opened the door, he found the employees fully equipped and ready for action.
They were all very excited. They have a tense expression but there was not a trace of fear on their faces. It was as if they were not about to risk their lives but participating in a grand event.
Sarah had also changed her clothes. She might possess some special ability to keep her clothes clean because she usually wore her lacy dresses, but today, probably for the sake of convenience during the operation, she switched to sports pants and a short-sleeved shirt, tying her blonde hair into a bun.
Not only Sarah, but Cao Er was also dressed similarly. But her hair wasn’t long enough to tie into a bun, so she tied it into a cute little ponytail, resembling a tiny broom.
Ye Zhou smiled warmly at them and asked, “It’s still early. Are you all heading out?”
Wu Yan quickly replied, “Immortal, we’re going out to practice our aim.”
Ye Zhou didn’t approve of this approach. “We’ll be setting out shortly. You all should rest well for now and check if there’s anything left behind or forgotten.”
They had expended energy now but they would be climbing a mountain later. After the climb, they’d face a tough battle. Besides, they had already sharpened their weapons yesterday, so there was no need to squeeze out half an hour today for more grinding, especially since it wouldn’t yield much benefit.
Wu Yan didn’t insist further and said immediately, “Then let’s bring a few extra bottles of water with us.”
Ye Zhou didn’t object to that. He nodded and then turned to Cao Er Niang. “You’ll be in the supermarket. Don’t let anyone touch or mess with things indiscriminately, understand?”
He was concerned about a potential fire breaking out in the supermarket in his absence.
At that point, everyone finished their preparations.
Cao Er Niang promised him, “Immortal, rest assured. If any of them dare to act recklessly, I shall deal with them…”
She gazed into Ye Zhou’s eyes and did not finish her sentence, but continued to smile at him flatteringly.
Ye Zhou nodded slightly, and only after everyone had dispersed did he go in to look for food.
When the clock’s hands pointed to around eleven o’clock, Ye Zhou set off with his employees.
They were fully armed. Not only they carried weapons but they also sprayed themselves with a mild-smelling mosquito repellent. Unless you were right next to them, you couldn’t smell it no matter what. Although it was hot, they all wore hiking boots, carried backpacks, and even brought tents along.
Ye Zhou felt tired looking at their appearance as if they were ready for an outing.
It was Zou Ming and Sarah who went empty-handed. Sarah didn’t bring anything at all, and Zou Ming only had bullets and a machine gun.
Ye Zhou strapped the gun to his waist and, following the map he had drawn yesterday, once again set foot on the mountain trail.
As he stepped onto that path, Ye Zhou gathered his thoughts.
This was the most dangerous challenge he had ever encountered in this world.
And he had to face it head-on. There was no way out.
At noon, the sun relentlessly scorched the earth as usual, but there was only a comfortable coldness inside the deep mountain cave.
With their clothes showing signs of wear and tear, the men sprawled on the ground in various poses. Tonight was the night for action, and this was their time of relaxation.
They were the ones keeping an eye on the other party and were convinced they had taken the initiative.
The men guarding the cave leaned against the stone wall, dozing off, their heads bobbing like chicks pecking at grains. Slowly shifting their bodies towards the cooler interior of the cave. It was scorching outside, and they naturally wanted to rest in a cooler place.
Unbeknownst to anyone, a diminutive and frail figure was slowly approaching the cave’s entrance.
Chen Liu was hunched over. His light and careful steps was not because of any inherent agility but due to the “illness” he had developed during his escape from famine.
He was not naturally strong, and being the only child of his mother, his physical strength was limited so he couldn’t cultivate much land. For years, his family relied on his mother’s good health to barely make ends meet.
Later, when he went to Huangshan, he could at least get enough food to eat, but no matter how you looked at it, Huangshan was a den of bandits. He had been restless ever since the day he went up the mountain, and shortly after coming down, he encountered another disaster.
With a family of the elderly and the weak, Chen Liu never dared to speak loudly, nor did he dare to travel with the strong-bodied men. Whenever they needed to find a direction, he had to explore the path alone. His already feeble strides became even lighter and more nimble as if he was floating in the air.
He had never expected that this would turn into his advantage.
Chen Liu cautiously pressed against the stone wall and slowly moved to the cave entrance. He resembled a nimble little beast as he squatted against the wall, retrieving smoke grenades from his bag one by one. Following the method Zou Ming had told him, he pulled the pins and rolled the smoke grenades into the cave.
He was very careful. Aside from the slight sound of the smoke grenades rolling on the rocky ground, there was no other noise.
The bandit guarding the cave was still asleep. He seemed to have heard the sound of something hard rolling, but in his groggy state, he opened his eyes to find nothing wrong outside the cave. He let out a yawn, thinking it was just some loose rocks tumbling, and closed his eyes to continue sleeping.
Inside this cave, apart from a small pool, there was really nothing much to find. The animals within a ten-mile radius had long been hunted out, and unless the imperial forces came to root out the bandits, they were absolutely safe here.
Chen Liu swallowed hard, and after rolling all the smoke grenades inside, he quietly stood up. He retraced his steps along the path he had come, his heart pounding wildly in his chest. His cheeks flushed, his steps quickened as become more and more excited.
It wasn’t until he reached the cover of the forest that he couldn’t help but plop down on the ground.
He did something big!
It was something only he could achieve!
Chen Liu took a moment to catch his breath. Then he slowly stood up using a tree trunk for support, and gazed at the hillside with the tree hole.
On that hillside, Zou Ming had already set up the machine gun. The machine gun was entirely black, with noticeable signs of wear and tear in several places, but it didn’t diminish its aura of lethality. In fact, these blemishes only made it appear more ruthless.
The others were all curious about this machine gun, and even Wu Yan and his group would secretly glanced at it.
If handguns were so powerful, then this weapon called a machine gun should be even more formidable, right?
Zou Ming adjusted the sights, ensuring everything was in order, then turned to Ye Zhou and said, “No problem.”
Ye Zhou then looked towards Li Si and his group. Li Si and his group brought repeating crossbows, and Ye Zhou had supplied them with more arrows. Although repeating crossbows were not as powerful as machine guns, in this era, they were undoubtedly formidable weapons.
It had long range, rapid fire, and didn’t depend on the shooter’s physical strength. As long as it hit its mark, it would inevitably pierce through the person’s body, creating a hole. If it struck a vital area, it could take a life in an instant.
Li Si was rarely the focus of an immortal like this. He stood up straight and quickly said, “We’re all prepared.”
Ye Zhou nodded in his direction.
Ye Zhou’s gaze returned to the cave entrance. What came next was waiting for the smoke grenades to do their job, waiting for someone to rush out.
He lightly rubbed his index finger against the barrel, a mix of tension and excitement, fear and indifference coursing through him.
This was the greatest challenge he had faced since arriving here.
Something had rolled in.
The bandits near the cave entrance sat in groups of threes and twos. They had no other entertainment but to brag about their exploits, day after day, in their hideout. During the day, when it was their resting time, they were reluctant to leave the cave to patrol. The tasks assigned by their “Dawang” were often delayed as long as possible.
Even when they occasionally ventured out for patrols, they never went too far, typically returning within half an hour at most.
“Did any of you hear something?” someone suddenly asked, “A rolling sound of some sort?”
The room had just been filled with laughter, but now everyone fell silent, extending their ears and carefully listening for any signs of movement within the cave.
Unfortunately, there were too many people inside the cave, and the noise was too chaotic, making it hard for them to discern clearly.
“It does seem like there was something, but now it’s gone.”
“Maybe we heard it wrong.”
“It’s probably just a loose rock somewhere. I’ve been saying this cave isn’t suitable for living. Sure, it has water, but it’s way too damp. I’ve had a rash on my body since morning, it’s itchy and uncomfortable. Thankfully, we’ll be moving to a new place soon.”
“Do you think finding a suitable place is that easy?”
“Exactly, some people can’t even find water to drink, and you’re complaining about too much water.”
They laughed and were about to continue their conversation when suddenly someone widened their eyes and asked in a terrified manner, “Did any of you smell something?”
Right as the words left their mouth, a massive cloud of smoke and fog billowed up from somewhere, instantly engulfing them.
“Fire! Where’s the fire?!”
Someone yelled frantically.
The guard at the cave entrance was startled and finally woke up. He looked into the cave where the white smoke and fog had almost completely engulfed everything, rendering everything inside invisible.
The smoke spread so fast that it rushed to every corner as if it were alive, not letting go at all.
“Where’s the cave entrance?! Hurry! Get out!”
The guard at the cave entrance swallowed hard.
No one should have seen him, right? The place was on fire, and he had to run!
The guard held the big stick in his arms, ignoring the cries for help from inside the cave. He sprinted with all his might, his disheveled hair flying behind him.
Almost there! He was about to break free!
The cave guard stepped into the sunlight, and beneath his feet lay a pitch-black shadow.
Before he could fully steady himself…
“Bang!” A loud sound reverberated.
The cave guard’s body stiffened. He felt a chill in his chest, and his nostrils caught a familiar scent of blood.
Dazed, he lowered his head, looking at his own chest.
He hadn’t felt any pain yet, just watched in disbelief as the blood gush out from his chest.
The blood drained his strength and robbed his body of warmth.
He had never felt this cold since the great drought.
“Lao Liu! What are you standing there like a fool for?!” someone else ran out from behind him, scolding, “You didn’t even respond when I called you from the front! I couldn’t see anything inside, I almost cracked my head!”
Lao Liu’s lips trembled as he tried to open his mouth to say a warning to run, to signal the danger.
But he couldn’t manage to say a word before he collapsed to the ground.
As he fell, a barrage of arrows rained down from the front, a dense and relentless storm of projectiles that turned anyone emerging from the cave into a hedgehogs.
The fresh blood dyed the earth at the cave entrance a deep red.
“What’s happening outside?!”
“What was that sound just now?!”
Standing on the hill, Ye Zhou also held a repeating crossbow in his hand. His handgun wouldn’t be of much use at the moment. Although he wasn’t good at close combat, a repeating crossbow was always a reliable option, even though its accuracy was uncertain.
Even when he saw the bandits falling to the ground, Ye Zhou still had no sense of reality that he had killed people.
“How many people?” Ye Zhou asked Zou Ming.
He hadn’t counted himself just a moment ago, and now bodies were piled upon bodies.
Zou Ming, “Eight.”
Ye Zhou sighed deeply, “Only eight.”
Over four hundred more to go. He didn’t know how much longer it would take to resolve this.
He forced himself not to look at the corpses piled up at the cave entrance. He was only concerned with how many more he had to deal with.
It seemed that Cao Er and her group were unaffected by the sight of the dead. After all, they weren’t the ones taking lives. They hadn’t personally torn anyone open, so they remained completely untouched by the situation.
They had seen plenty of death before. The journey over the mountains and plains during the famine was strewn with corpses.
Even those buried will be eventually dug up.
Having witnessed hellish landscapes, what was the death of a few individuals to them?
As long as the deaths weren’t among their group, they were fine with it.
It was now pitch dark inside the cave and chaos reigned. Everyone ran towards the source of the light. They couldn’t hear the commotion outside, only the deafening shouts around them. They all assumed there was a fire somewhere, yet they couldn’t see the source of the flames.
“Dawang!” His confidant called for Zhao Changsheng.
Zhao Changsheng took a drag from his cigarette, covering his mouth and nose, and shouted loudly, “Go outside!”
His subordinate couldn’t hear him clearly and continued to shout, “Dawang! Where are you?! I’ll protect you out there!”
Zhao Changsheng had remained immobile for quite some time, and despite living in turbulent times, he had grown quite obese. He struggled to move his feet and would occasionally bumped into or tripped over by others. He had a lump on his forehead from a fall. With great effort, he was helped to his feet and continued making his way towards the cave entrance.
“Dawang, could it be the people from down the mountain that started this fire?” His confidant couldn’t help but feel something was fishy about the fire’s origin.
Inside the cave, it was already quite damp, making it difficult to start a fire, let alone one of this magnitude.
The smoke was also suspicious. What kind of smoke would be white?
Wasn’t smoke from a raging fire always thick and black?
Zhao Changsheng frowned. “We have cave guards. If they came, wouldn’t we know?”
“It must have been someone who accidentally ignited the fire while trying to make a fire.”
He didn’t want to entertain the thought his subordinate was suggesting. If his subordinate was right, they were trapped like fish in a barrel at this moment.
After what felt like an eternity, an eternity that left Zhao Changsheng gasping for breath, they finally reached the cave entrance.
Just a few more steps, and they would no longer have to inhale the white smoke.
Zhao Changsheng turned to his trusted subordinate and said, “You go out first.”
His confidant didn’t ask questions either. He was accustomed to following Zhao Changsheng’s orders. Once you’ve grown accustomed to being a lackey, when Zhao Changsheng issued an order, he carried it out without hesitation. He indeed moved out toward the exit.
Zhao Changsheng remained hidden in the lingering white smoke, watching as his subordinate slowly exited.
Then, he witnessed a scene that would haunt him for the rest of his life—
It was an onslaught of arrows, like a storm of black clouds descending upon them. The arrows seemed substantial, and he could even hear the sound of arrowheads piercing through the air.
Everyone who had just exited alongside him, including his confidant, now lay in a pool of blood.
And behind him, others were eager to charge out.
The smoke obscured their view of everything happening at the cave entrance.
And the noise within the cave made it impossible for them to discern the sounds from outside.
They believed they were fighting for their survival.
But they were rushing towards death.
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