Chapter 512: Useful A’Ji
A’Ji blinked and said, “I’ve been wandering alone. If I’m tired, I curl up in a corner of an underground shelter and sleep. I don’t need a home, and I don’t need any belongings. If anyone needs me to work for them, I’ll work and get a few cans of earthworm meat to eat. If no one looks for me, I’ll work at the resource recovery centers. Of course, I’m not taking things from the dead and selling them. I’m just picking trash!”
Meng Chao smiled and shook his head while he mumbled, “Looks like I’m still too merciful. I should have crushed your hands before anything else. In any case, I just need your mouth. It doesn’t matter to me whether you have hands or not.”
As he spoke, he stood up as if he was going to walk to A’Ji.
A’Ji’s face went stark pale. He waved his hands in a panic and said, “U-Uncle, I’m telling the truth. Picking trash isn’t shady business. Wh-Why are you so angry?”
Meng Chao was covered in dust and looked nothing like his usual self. No one could tell how he was supposed to look like, nor what was his age. To show respect, A’Ji naturally decided to refer to him as an elder.
“So that you’d understand why you died.” Meng Chao smiled coldly. “Before you started running your mouth off, your hands had already betrayed you. Your hands don’t belong to a waste recoverer!
“There are plenty of people who take up jobs to categorize waste and recover them in Dragon City, but Dragon City’s trash is different from that on Earth. We have a lot of monster carcasses, substances derived from crystals that possess strong radioactivity, acidic substances, poisonous substances, viruses, and other dangerous things.
“Even if you wore a few layers of plastic gloves and completely airtight protective suits, it’d have been impossible for the strong acid and poisonous substances to not seep into the gloves and damage your hands.
“I’ve seen plenty of waste recoverers’ hands. All of them were waxy yellow or black and had a lot of atrophic scars. They also had calluses that looked like scales. Many of their joints were swollen and large, and their fingers were deformed. Their nails had fallen, and it was an unbearable sight.
“And these waste recoverers handled relatively safe and valuable trash.
“After they processed it, the unwanted stuff was sent to the lair to go through a second filtration. I believe that after the waste recoverers in the lair filter through that trash, the leftovers are then finally sent to Leprosy Village.
“In other words, the waste recoverers in Leprosy Village should be facing trash that has been filtered countless times, have the least value, and is the most dangerous. You would have to spend a lot of effort processing it, and you would be attacked by even more acid and poison before you could get any ‘treasure’ from the piles of trash.
“If you’re in that field, why are your hands so nimble, graceful, and tender? Why do they look like a newborn’s hands?”
A’Ji was dumbfounded. It seemed that he hadn’t expected that Meng Chao would be able to decipher so much information from his hands.
“You don’t have to wreck your brains to come up with a lie. Let me guess your occupation,” Meng Chao said calmly. “Even if you were outside and wanted to have such graceful and nimble hands, you would need to spend a lot of money to buy all sorts of gene medicine and secret ointments to take care of them meticulously.
“But you look thin and dirty. You don’t even have the money to treat the scabies on your head. You don’t seem like someone who will fork out a lot of money to nourish his hands.
“So, someone nourished your hands for you, yes?
“You don’t have stunning looks, but whoever it is was willing to spend a lot of money nourishing your hands. It’s clear that he doesn’t have any strange kinks, but wants your hands to work for him.
“I can think of only three jobs that require hands that need to be protected and trained to such an extent. First, assassins, second, harvesters, third thieves.
“But you don’t just need to train your hands to be an assassin. You need to train all your joints and muscles. You’re weak, so it’s clear that you have never received any proper martial arts training.
“And it’s also impossible for you to be a harvester. The reason is simple. Freshness is very important when it comes to harvesting monsters. There are plenty of harvesters in Dragon City, so no one will send a monster they killed in the wild or at the borders of the city into the depths of the lair, which is polluted, noisy, and filled with germs.
“So, the answer is simple. You’re a thief— Don’t be in such a hurry to deny it. I had used a special method to tie that tactical bag to my leg. Unless you were a professional, no matter how much strength you used, it would have been impossible for you to get it off me. But you managed to do it in half a minute.
“Also, you were sure that I was a corpse, but your movements were still very light, as if you didn’t want to wake me up. That’s a habit of a pickpocket.
“‘Useless A’Ji’? Heh. You were dishonest right from the beginning. With such graceful and nimble hands, you should be a trump card in your den of thieves. How could anyone call you Useless A’Ji? You’re too useful!”
A’Ji took two steps back and nearly fell into the water again.
His face turned red, and he shouted, “I’m not a thief! I-I was just trying to survive!”
“I’m not interested in you being a thief at all.” Meng Chao stared at him and released the second Fear Bomb. “If you really want to survive, then behave when you work with me. Otherwise, even if I don’t kill you, before long, you will die. In fact, everyone in Leprosy Village and all of Golden Tooth Lair will die!”
A’Ji’s eyes went wide, filled with the fear of Leprosy Village being destroyed.
This time, he seemed to be really frightened and became much more honest. He hunched his shoulders and mumbled honestly, “Alright. I’ll tell you. I was brought up by Boss Feng. I’ve been working for him.”
“Boss Feng is Three Fingers Feng. He’s very famous in Golden Tooth Lair. Apparently, he once boasted that there is nothing he can’t get within the lair with just three fingers. But we think that he’s called Three Fingers Feng because he was once caught when stealing, so seven of his fingers were chopped off and only three are left.” A’Ji shrugged. “In any case, after Boss Feng was left with only three fingers, he seldom steals on his own. Instead, he brought a group of children up and taught us how to... recover resources and redistribute them.”
Meng Chao narrowed his eyes. “So, you’re saying that there are plenty of young thieves in the den of thieves. I don’t understand it. Leprosy Village looks very poor. How could there be so many targets to steal from?”
“We don’t steal from our own, so we don’t steal from the villagers in Leprosy Village... I mean, we don’t recover resources from them and redistribute them,” A’Ji said. “There are plenty of rich people in the lair. There are also plenty of rich guests who come from the city area to visit the monster coliseums.
“They get very excited by the monster fights, and their eyes become stuck on the arena. When the fights end, there’s a huge crowd as well, and it’s cramped. Those are good chances to steal from them. It’s not hard to fill our pockets with money during those times.”
“Wait,” Meng Chao said. “I thought that Leprosy Village villagers are isolated from the world and seldom go out.”
“Uncle, that was decades ago.” A’Ji sniffed. “If you’re more than three meters tall and look like a bear when you stand up or you have a tail that’s even thicker than a crocodile’s, you’ll definitely scare the kids and weeds outside when you go out!
“But people like me are smart and harmless. We only have some mild defects. If we wear thick sunglasses and masks, then lower the hoods of our cloaks to cover our faces, we look no different from the people outside. Even if we sneak out, no one discovers us.
“But if we’re discovered, we’re still fine, because Boss Feng has already discussed and settled things on how we’re supposed to split the loot with the gangs in the lair.
“Anyway, I’ve gone out dozens of times, and only once have I been discovered by a superhuman with sharp senses. So the gang members who are in charge of guarding the place beat me up in front of that superhuman. Once that person left, they threw me back in Leprosy Village. Of course, it was unavoidable that I was beat up again by Boss Feng!”
Meng Chao’s mind raced. “So, you’re saying that you’re pretty familiar with the situation and forces of power in Leprosy Village and the entire lair?”
A’Ji slapped his chest and said, “I can’t say that I’m pretty familiar, but I know a bit. Uncle, what do you want to know? Even if I don’t know, I’ll think of a way to get that information for you.”
“I’m not in a hurry,” Meng Chao said. “First, tell me. Where is Boss Feng’s den?”
A’Ji pouted and pointed at a spot behind Meng Chao.
Meng Chao frowned a little. The spot behind him was where the building collapsed.
Based on how the polluted water was flowing slower in the sewer with each passing moment, the building had to have collapsed entirely, and even the underground space was blocked. The polluted water was going to be cut off soon.
But once he thought about it carefully, he did not find it strange.
If Boss Feng’s den was not nearby, A’Ji would not be stealing from the dead in this area.
“Where is Boss Feng?” he asked.
“Dead,” A’Ji answered frankly. “He died with everyone else when the building collapsed.”
A’Ji told Meng Chao that Boss Feng’s den was located on the second underground floor of the collapsed building. Boss Feng and dozens of other young thieves lived there.
They had wanted for it to be easy to escape if any enemies or family members of their previous targets came looking for them, so they situated their den close to the surface.
But the major explosion caused by the super crystal bomb had created an unstoppable shockwave that instantly killed most of the villagers from the first to the third underground floors. Boss Feng and the young thieves were all killed by either the explosion or the shockwaves.
As for A’Ji, since he did not steal enough to hit the quota yesterday and talked back to Boss Feng, he was punished and not allowed to sleep in the den. He was asked to search for a few rich-looking targets in Leprosy Village and only allowed to return once he hit the quota.
But how could he possibly get any rich-looking targets in Leprosy Village? It was just a punishment.
But unexpectedly, it allowed A’Ji to escape the disaster.
Meng Chao thought that with the power of the super crystal bomb, the possibility of those living in the second underground floor escaping was close to zero.
“Boss Feng and your companions died, so you’re alone now, but you’re not the slightest bit sad?” Meng Chao looked into A’Ji’s eyes.
“Why should I be?” A’Ji flung his graceful and nimble hands. Suddenly, his fingers moved in different directions, and they wriggled bizarrely in the opposite orientation of the joints. “Even though Boss Feng brought me up, you have no idea what sort of life I lived under him. To make my fingers as nimble as earthworms, he crushed my palms and fingers three times. Three times!” he hissed.
“Now that the bastard is dead, if I had money, I’d definitely buy lots of good food to celebrate his death. Why should I be sad? What am I, out of my mind?
“As for my friends... Compared to living in this stupid era and this stupid place, dying painlessly might be better.”
The boy who looked as pathetic as a rat in the drain had a self-deprecating look on his face. He also looked lost, and there was envy on his face.
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