"No!" Ye Minzhe's grip on her wrist tightened.
His muscles were tensed so tight that it looked like his jaw might crack from the strain, and his brows were furrowed with some unfathomable emotion.
"I'll go wherever you go. Jia, you're dreaming if you think you leave me behind!"
"I'm not leaving you behind," Song Jia tried to placate him. "I'm going to come after you, I'll just be late for a bit, that's all."
Seeing that he didn't seem to be convinced, she added, "If you don't clear the rest of the decks, then we're all going to die here. Ye Minzhe, I'll only be gone for a while. Clear the upper decks from zombies, then come after me if you want."
Seeing that Ye Minzhe still didn't have any signs of softening his stance, Long Aotian finally volunteered, "I'll go with her."
Ye Minzhe glared at him. "What do you want to do with Jia?!"
Long Aotian raised his hands.
"Minzhe, relax. I'm just going to guard your sister. I promise that if it comes down to it, I'll sacrifice myself for her."
Long Aotian had been friends with Ye Minzhe since childhood. Although Long Aotian was quiet while Ye Minzhe was loud and noisy, the two of them surprisingly got along well with each other. Compared to Ye Jia, who was an illegitimate child of his father and only got reacquainted with Ye Minzhe a few months ago, Ye Minzhe should have valued Long Aotian's life more.
But, contrary to everybody's expectations, Ye Minzhe's expression slightly relaxed the moment Long Aotian declared those words.
He bit his lip, and worriedly looked at Song Jia. Ye Minzhe also knew that they didn't have enough time. He clenched and unclenched his fingers around Song Jia's wrist.
"Ye Jia, make sure to come back safely. Or I'll kick you out of the Ye family!"
"I know," Song Jia nodded, hiding a smile.
She knew this half-brother of hers was just a paper tiger.
He turned his head towards Long Aotian and squeezed out the following words unwillingly, "You...if you let her get hurt, I won't spare you. Take care of her properly, you hear me?"
Then without giving them another look back, he picked up his axe and walked forward in long strides.
"Hurry up and let's go!" he shouted.
Ding Xiuxiu, Gong Qiye, and Ouyang Che were stunned, before they hastily caught up to him.
"Brother Minzhe, wait up!"
Song Jia looked at Long Aotian. He was still staring at the direction where the rest of his friends had left. But as if he felt the weight of her stare, he suddenly looked back over his shoulder and stared at her, his gaze calm and deep, like still waters.
"Let's go," Song Jia told him.
Long Aotian silently nodded.
They were on Deck 15, so they had a long way to go before they could reach Deck 11. Fortunately, from Deck 15 to Deck 13, because they had already cleared the way, there were no obstacles waiting for them.
But on Deck 12, something went wrong. They encountered a large mass of zombies.
Long Aotian was stunned. "Why are they here? Didn't we already clear this deck? And there's more of them here than before!"
Song Jia had already expected this outcome, which she deliberately kept a secret from Ye Minzhe earlier.
"If the bilge area was flooded hours earlier and some of the rats managed to even reach Deck 14, I'm betting that most of the lower decks have already been filled with water. Similar to rats, the zombies would start climbing towards the upper decks too."
Song Jia pursed her lips. It wouldn't be long before the ship would start to capsize. They truly didn't have enough time.
"Then, what do we do? Doesn't this mean we wouldn't be able to rescue Teacher Gu and the rest of our classmates?" Long Aotian asked.
"We have no other choice. We'll just have to fight our way through them."
Long Aotian looked at her with wide eyes. "Ye Jia, have you gone crazy?!"
"We have no other way," Song Jia adjusted her grip on her make-shift quarterstaff. "And we have no time to hesitate. It won't be long before this deck would become flooded too, and if that happens, all hope of rescuing Teacher Gu and the rest of our classmates would be gone."
Long Aotina's voice was soft.
"You might have no choice, but I do."
Song Jia had barely heard his words before a forceful shove pushed her forward, straight into the herd of zombies. She whipped her head around, staring at him with wide eyes.
"What are you doing?!"
Song Jia barely blocked the gaping mouth of a zombie with her quarterstaff. Several pairs of hands seemed to reach for her all at once, while another zombie, leaping like a panther, landed on her back.
Long Aotian watched her struggle, with not a single ripple on his expression.
"I've been wondering about this for a while, but how did you survive for so long? In your past life, you were killed from the start. Ah, but this time, you were protected by Ye Minzhe, weren't you? Is that how you managed to stay alive? By seducing him?"
"What are you talking about? Ye Minzhe and I are half-siblings!"
Panting heavily, Song Jia weaved in and out of flailing limbs. She used her quarterstaff to keep most of them from biting her. "And what do you mean by my 'past life'? Hurry up and help me already!"
Despite being in a life or death situation, Song Jia still managed to act like she didn't know Long Aotian was a vengeful reincarnator. This was the main reason why she agreed for him to accompany her. If she left him to tag along with Ye Minzhe, she was afraid that the future prediction would come true and he would cause Ye Minzhe to become infected.
The corner of Long Aotian's lips curled upwards in a sneer.
"Half-siblings? Don't make me laugh. You're just some stray child that slutty woman picked off the street so that Ye Minzhe's father would continue supporting her. Ye Jia, you're simply a fake."
Song Jia was stunned. Her head was suddenly filled with unanswered questions. Ye Minzhe and the original host weren't related by blood? Ye Jia was a fake? How did Long Aotian know about this?
And why was he deliberately targeting her?
"Even if I'm a fake, can you ignore your conscience and just watch another human being die in front of you?"
Song Jia frowned, thinking of another problem. Although Long Aotian stood far away, the zombies should still be able to smell him. Why didn't they attack Long Aotian and only attacked her? Was there something she missed?