Chapter 17    Black Blunderbuss Mercenary Team (I)

 Wu Qi returned to District A’s campsite after a while. District A’s campsite was a riverbank that had many old bungalows nearby, and a perfectly intact pavilion with a grey canopy stood on the river bank. But after the past fifty years, the willow near the river had died and the river bed had dried, leaving behind only a few small puddles.

The mercenary squad responsible for dissecting the dreadwolf bodies sat on their chairs near the river bank. Several mercenaries from the Black Blunderbuss Mercenary Team wearing military-grade protective clothing were resting and chatting under the pavilion with their explosion-proof helmets taken off.

Wu Qi ignored all the strangers but was intrigued by one of the mercenaries. He had a gaunt face, a tall nose, a unibrow, and eyes like calm waters. He had a black crew cut, his skin was lightly tanned, and his muscles barely filled out the mercenary uniform on his body. He wasn’t as tough or muscular as the other beefy mercenaries that were strong as oxen…

What drew Wu Qi’s attention was the fact that he was still holding a long and rough-looking sniper rifle even as he rested. The straps were on his back, the rifle was held in front of him against his chest; his right hand gently stroked the shiny black rifle breech like he was caressing his girlfriend’s bottom.

Wu Qi walked towards the direction of the mercenary squad. He walked past the Black Blunderbuss Team for four seconds while watching the sniper named Gao Yuan silently for four seconds. Wu Qi paid attention to those silent eyes and the quiet breathing that, like his, became one with nature.

“Hey, boy with the blade, stop right there.” A mercenary on the Black Blunderbuss team stopped him as he was about to go back to An Qi and the others.

Wu Qi turned around when he heard the order. He saw a tall and big man with a thick beard. The rolled-up sleeves showed off his brawny arms and shoulders, and he held something between his lips, something that was lit up and had grey smoke coming from the tip. Wu Qi thought about it for a while and finally remembered Sister Ruorong once mentioned that thing was a consumer good called “cigarette” from the civilized era.

“What’s up?” Wu Qi asked.

“Let me ask you something, kid. You are a member of the safe zone’s mercenary squad, how come other people use firearms but you are using a blade?” the brawny man asked smilingly while blowing out some thick smoke from his big mouth.

“I have never used firearms. I’ve only ever used blade,” Wu Qi answered normally. To his surprise, his answer made the entire Black Blunderbuss Mercenary Team burst into a loud guffaw. The sound of a group of swaggering men laughing out loud hurt Wu Qi’s ears.

The sniper named Gao Yuan that Wu Qi kept his eye on only glanced at Wu Qi but didn’t laugh.

“Old Hu, watch me.” Another muscular mercenary patted Old Hu on the shoulder, then stood up and smiled at Wu Qi. “Kid, which one do you think is better, your knife or our rifles?”

Wu Qi shook his head. “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know? Hey, catch this.” Then, the man threw the HK416 on his side to Wu Qi. The big, long rifle’s trajectory drew an arc in the air and landed in Wu Qi’s chest as he opened his arms.

It was Wu Qi’s first time touching a magical firearm. He was indeed curious. He recalled the knowledge that Ruorong taught him and meticulously studied the assault rifle in his hands: the slender barrel, the mechanical body, the precise reflex sight, the triangular stock, the handle, the trigger, the magazine.

It was different from the long blade that accompanied him for nine years. The blade had the bone-chilling touch of cold iron, and the rifle, on the other hand, had its unique and complicated design. A layer of scratches covered its smooth surface, the fishbone-shaped upper receiver had the mechanical feel of a gear, and the handguard and the handle conformed to his hand perfectly.

Wu Qi stroked the rifle’s jet-black body and felt the lingering warmth, and the explosive roars were as if sounding in his ears.

This was a killing machine. A machine that was the epitome of hot-blooded masculinity. It was indeed different from the long blade. The long blade would always be a cold hunter. Strike out, then sheath up, even wild animal blood couldn’t alter the iron’s ice-cold temperament.

The long blade wouldn’t roar ferociously.

“Do you know how to use it?” The mercenary laughed eagerly as he looked at Wu Qi, who was examining the HK416 with lively eyes. Old Hu and some other teammates tugged on the man’s clothes but he waved his hands and shooed them off.

Wu Qi didn’t answer. He looked to his left and saw a red-and-white soda can that stood on a shelf case two hundred meters away. He heard these types of soda cans were filled with delicious, refreshing drinks from the civilized era, but that soda can had been empty since fifty years ago.

He used things like that as targets when he practiced throwing stones in the mountains. Wu Qi raised the HK416 and mimicked the position the mercenaries used during the battle. He aimed at the soda can using the red-dot scope.

The mercenaries of the Black Blunderbuss team surrounded and watched this sixteen-year-old for fun. Wu Qi was 1.8 centimeters tall, but the average height of the mercenary team was 1.88 centimeters. To them, Wu Qi was just a little kid, a hillbilly who had never touched a gun before.

A loud bang was bound to happen once his index finger pulled the trigger, at least that was what everyone thought. What they wanted to see was the surprised look on this kid’s face when his seriousness plumbed into shock. That would be super funny.

However, before Wu Qi made the shot, he switched off safety, and then pulled the trigger.

But nothing happened. There were no flames emitting from the silent muzzle, nor did a bullet fly out. The soda can still stood at its spot two hundred meters away.

Wu Qi was a little stupefied. He followed Sister Ruorong’s teachings exactly and switched the safety on. Then, the HK416 in his hand was taken away by the laughing mercenary who threw it to him.

“There are no bullets inside, silly boy.”

The mercenaries of the Black Blunderbuss team burst out mocking laughter, making fun of the hillbilly who got confused by the rifle. Wu Qi was speechless. He suppressed the urge to teach these uncouth men a lesson, turned around, and walked away.

Just then, the doors of the campsite’s discussion room opened. Wang Sheng stepped out from the room with An Yi following behind.

“All Black Blunderbuss members, all mercenaries of SW0304, gather up! We have something important to announce!” Wang Sheng stood with his hands behind his back and ordered loudly. An Yi stood beside him, his stature much shorter than Wang Sheng’s.

Members of the Black Blunderbuss Team followed the order and walked out of the pavilion to gather before Wang Sheng. The other mercenary squad did not understand why the leader of an unfamiliar team had an announcement for them, but once they saw An Yi’s “follow the order” eyes, they dropped whatever they were doing and followed the Black Blunderbuss team. Wu Qi followed the crowd and stood along with them.

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