Chapter 17 The Present Comes First

That night, I used all of the plastic film from our equipment to set up a water collecting device to collect water vapor from the air.

Back when I was in Alxa League, I became quite skillful at guessing how much water we could collect the next day just from the feel of the air around me. At this time, I reached out and touched the air. It was still quite humid here, so I wasn’t worried about our water supply.

The three of us huddled in front of that little shrine, hungry. The food problem could only be solved tomorrow, so it was best that we have a good night’s sleep tonight.

Poker-Face decided to take the first watch. I saw Fatty looking at the top of the crevice in the rock with a thoughtful expression on his face. I couldn’t guess what he was thinking, but his hand kept touching the bullet around his neck.

I leaned against the shrine and glanced at the bronze meteorite fragment. I used to find this thing absolutely terrifying before, but now it seemed to be the key to solving the heavenly gift problem.

To be honest, when I looked at it carefully now, I couldn’t help but think that the shape of this bronze piece was a bit like that god I saw in the Heavenly Palace that looked like a wooden club you’d use to beat clothes while washing.(1) This shape wasn’t formed naturally and had been carved, which meant that this bronze piece may really be an idol.

At that time, I thought it was an ancient god, but as I looked at the extent of the twisting patterns on the bronze, I couldn’t help but think that it was evil. I was hoping that this evil aura was more powerful than the heavenly gift and could protect us from it.

This kind of mood was very complicated. The mystery here ran very deep, so I dared not think too deeply about it before I had enough information. I could only vaguely feel that this was a kind of contradiction between something that came from the sky and something that was buried deep underground.

Now that I was relaxed, I turned on my cell phone and started watching the other thirty videos from the past month. The flash of inspiration I just had came from a theory.

Maybe this battle was hard to win with the three of us alone, but if my reflexive smoking habit could continue, then it meant that no matter how powerful the heavenly gift was, there was still a strong link between me and my heavenly gifted self. In other words, even if I received a heavenly gift, my body still had Wu Xie’s characteristics.

If that were true, then could I trick the “me” who was heavenly gifted into seeing a mystery? Based on my nature, would “I” go back to the source? During this process, I had to come up with a subtle plan to let “me” discover my existence so as to help myself.

The key to this idea was that I needed to know what kind of person “I” was.

Those thirty videos were like a nightmare to me, because I could clearly see in the videos that there was a certain tacit understanding between the three “people”. Compared to now, “I” seemed to be livelier and a little more naïve. Although “we” didn’t communicate much in the video clips taken before we went to sleep, I could sense a relaxed and curious atmosphere around us.

At that time, they must have felt that their journey would continue on brilliantly instead of stopping abruptly in front of a small shrine.

I looked at the me in the video with his clear, bright eyes and felt such a chill in my heart that it made my hair stand on end.

I even felt a little envious of the “me” in the video.

But what I wanted to do now was to plot against him, have him follow my plan step by step until he came to a crossroads, and then let him know that all of his memories were false. At that time, he would have to face a choice: accept the heavenly gift and live according to the desire given to him so that he and his friends would still go along according to the relationship they understood, or destroy everything and deny all of his memories so as to help me succeed.

This seemed to require my cooperation in two different times and spaces—I didn’t expect there to be the possibility of parallel versions of myself actually interacting.

Of course, this all relied on the premise that I would receive the heavenly gift when we left here and turn back into the person in the video.

But if this thing was crazy and I was given a third personality after leaving here—like Kim Kardashian(2)—then the game was over. The actual operation was very risky, so this idea only remained an idea.

I ran through it all twice but finally gave up in the end. I glanced at Poker-Face, who was keeping watch, and Fatty, who was sleeping soundly. I found that I couldn’t bear to take the risk. I had become a man who couldn’t put all of his eggs in one basket.

So, I emptied my mind, said a quick prayer for tomorrow, and tried to fall asleep.

After laying there for about four minutes, however, I suddenly sat up and pulled the video up on my phone again. When I was on the brink of sleep, I suddenly remembered the details I had seen when watching the video just now.

I was wrong. In the video just now, I seemed to have seen an additional person. I opened the video and quickly searched for the right clip. Sure enough, I saw a hand flashing at the edge of the screen, and Fatty also seemed to be saying a few words in that direction.

Fuck me. The team in this video isn’t three people but four!

<Chapter 16><Table of Contents><Chapter 18>


TN Notes:

(1) In “Palace of Doom”, it was said to be a spiral that looked like a worm. Tiffany said Wu Xie made this comparison because both things stood tall and looked like a stick.  

(2) An American media personality, socialite, model, businesswoman, producer, and actress. Info here.


5 thoughts on “Chapter 17 The Present Comes First

  1. This is the most complicated move Wu Xie trying to pull. Are you sure you can trick your second personality? Your other self seems to be more naive and not as experienced as you… And that fourth person, i bet its that white human they see before entering!
    Thank you for the chapter Bear-san~

    Liked by 1 person

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