Chapter 24

A Source of Stress

Translated by boilpoil
Edited by boilpoil

The next morning, Cheng Zhaoci wakes up all refreshed.

All excited, he sends a message to both Xiao Ji and He Huaijian, recounting how he went to play the virtual mecha fighting simulation, and killed the other side 8 times! Shemales!

Xiao Ji immediately replies, “holy fuck! amazing! good job my boy!”
He Huaijian takes a while to reply, “Good job.”

So cold that Xiao Ji, who is in the same room as him, is unhappy, “what’s with that lame reply? Did Ci-zai wrong you? Who are you making a long face at?”

“I don’t want to speak to Zhaoci for a while,” He Huaijian says, then turns towards Xiao Ji, who realises the issue, “were you crying? Why are your eyes all red?”

He Huaijian tries to pull a smile, “did you know Zhaoci released a new comic?”


“Check it out later,” He Huaijian hmphs, “you can call me out afterwards.”

Cheng Zhaoci is still so excited and is flailing on his bed. Watching the ceiling, he thinks there’s something important he should remember.

But anyway, it can’t be that important if it was forgotten! Time to keep working on the little zombie king, but first, he needs to recharge his inspiration.

Office Building 3, Restricted Area A1, Capital Planet.

A shemale, his badge betraying his Air Vice-marshal status, pushes open the door to Wei Zhuo’s office with a joyous step, “xiao-Wei, your promotion ceremony is tomorrow, how are you… holding up?!”

Wei Zhuo, who is sitting upright by his desk, quietly looks up to meet the Vice-marshal in the eye. He salutes, “sir, all is well, sir!”

“What’s wrong? Did you not get any sleep last night?” Though it’d still be surprising a grade S shemale like Wei Zhuo would get such heavy eyebags just from staying up one night.

“I slept,” Wei Zhuo answers unenergetically, “but I had nightmares.”

“Do you want to tell me about it?” The vice-marshal, already in his 130s, and also having two shemale sons, is generally more amiable than the younger shemale officers.

“Yesterday, I brought a young male to the stores for simulated mecha fights. He was happy,” Wei Zhuo explains frankly.

“Ah, but isn’t that nice? A male who’s interested in mechas, huh?” The vice-marshal takes a seat on the sofa nearby, before suddenly tilting his head. Wait! Wei Zhuo, this unromantic guy took a male out to have fun?

“I played over 200 rounds with him. He kept dying as soon as the game started, but he was resilient and brave. He would not give up, and finally, in the end, he successfully killed his opponents a few times in the last rounds,” Wei Zhuo sighs and continues, “I did not have the heart to tell him, that the kills he managed, was only after the system has shunted us both from insectoid-on-insectoid games to insectoid-on-AI games. He was just fighting the AI the entire time.”

“And then?” The hollow, soulless, glassy eyes of Wei Zhuo tells the vice-marshal this isn’t the end of it.

“When the young male finally won, he felt he became amazing. He kept telling me to play another round, so I, kept fighting and killing the mecha on the lowest AI difficulty setting, the one where the way the mecha moves is preprogrammed and rigid. The male did not realise this. He thought he has seen through how the ‘shemales’ typically fight. It went on and on and on. It was like I was just a machine repeatedly chopping vegetables.”

Wei Zhuo skips over the fact that, even on this lowest setting, Cheng Zhaoci still lost more games than he won, and still felt he was a match for the ‘shemales.’

Continuing to recall, almost in a trance, Wei Zhuo says, “we did not return late, as the male appreciated the fact I still had to work today, but as soon as I closed my eyes to sleep yesterday, I could hear the male’s voice repeating ‘again!’ the whole night.”

A grade S shemale who has fallen from grace to ‘train’ against the beginners’ 2-on-2 mecha fights with AI. Ah, the woe! The tragedy!

The Vice-marshal really doesn’t know how he could help, so he can only pat Wei Zhuo on the shoulder in solidarity.

There is a knock on the door, and the Vice-marshal lets the person in. It’s Meng Yuele, whose soul seems to have left him, somehow, wobbling in to say, “Wei-ge, a Classification C document needs your signature,” he sounds like his throat was chock-full of sandpaper.

“What’s wrong with you?!” Even the Vice-marshal’s tone is getting heightened, as Meng Yuele looked even worse than Wei Zhuo did. His eyes are all bloodshot, even swelling a little. His face looked so red like he spent too much time under the star’s light.

Meng Yuele freezes, then puffs his chest up to salute the Vice-marshal, before collapsing entirely with his straightened form crumbling.

“Uwaaaaah! Aaaah! It is unconscionable! Inhumane! How could he ever draw something like that?!” Meng Yuele goes full ‘helpless infant,’ shaking and trembling.

The Vice-marshal is confused; Wei Zhuo is spooked awake entirely.

“I, I uwaaaa!” Meng Yuele’s lips are trembling so hard he can’t even speak properly.

Cheng Zhaoci only showed his comic to a male insectoid, because Cheng Zhaoci had the completely wrong impression from their appearance that males are more emotional. He has vastly underestimated how much impact his little tragic story could have on the insectoid society with very few venues for entertainment.

He thought males are more emotional, but in fact, males are much less sympathetic than shemales in general. They are shorter and weaker in physical form, but their hearts are not at all fragile or sensitive.

“Alright, alright,” the Vice-marshal is hugging Meng Yuele and patting him on the back, “you’re a grown adult insectoid now, you’re not a crybaby anymore, right?”

“I, I didn’t want, either, I cried the whole night! Why?! Why did it have to end like this?! I couldn’t sleep, but it was only 7 chapters! It was complete! There is no more uwuwu!” Meng Yuele is inconsolable, “why?! How could he draw something like that?!”

“You mean, Mr Cheng Zhaoci’s comic?” Wei Zhuo picks up on the cue, and Meng Yuele nods, “yes! It was new! Yesterday! Uwah!”

The Vice-marshal seems bewildered, “what? Another male insectoid? Comic?”

“I, I’ll send you after work,” Meng Yuele hasn’t forgotten about his job as a shemale soldier. No comic during work. He is just under the effects of the plot last night. A bit… probably.

Meng Yuele wipes his tears away as he puts down the document to leave.

Then he runs into Sun Wushe at the door.

Sun Wushe is the one to speak up first, though, “you read the comic yesterday?”

Meng Yuele nods. Sun Wushe probably read the comic as well, and understood why he’s bawling like a baby; Sun Wushe looks rather calm and collected, though. Maybe he is too emotional, or Sun Wushe is just really good at not letting his emotions show.

“Going to get Wei-ge? Vice-marshal Liu is inside right now,” Meng Yuele reminds him, and Sun Wushe lifts his brow a little, “I’ll come back later, then,” the Vice-marshal doesn’t like him, so it just means trouble going in now.

Sun Wushe is walking back to his seat, and the image of Meng Yuele’s beet-red face is still vivid in his mind. It reminds him of how he felt when he finished reading the comic yesterday.

He actually followed the emotional journey of the protagonist entirely. After finally hitting the ending that is unequivocally a tragedy, he just stared at the last panel. He stared for a very long time.

He could scarcely believe such a comic exists. Such a comic created by a male insectoid.

A young, little male insectoid that sprained his waist flailing around in a garden.

A despair exclusive to shemales, shemales like his dad. He could not call out for help, almost like he’s mute. And it was a male insectoid that relayed and publicised this pain.

The comic is certainly good. Not just the story, but the pacing and detailing are also well done. There are enough themes in the comic deserving further discussion.

But Sun Wushe can’t take his mind off the little, teenage male insectoid, who drew this story. Perhaps, just as Meng Yuele said, he is actually a kind and responsible male insectoid.

The unprecedented story kept coming back to him, even until now. He would not cry and wail like Meng Yuele. Meng Yuele is a dumbass with a screw loose, but he’s not. He knows what he is doing, and what he has to do. He does not belong here.

Cheng Zhaoci, meanwhile, finally remembered his comic when his editor called him about how it exploded in popularity. Right, he forgot to check reader feedback! It completely slipped his mind after he set it up to publish automatically.

When he gets onto his alt, there are a billion private messages; there are even a few messages from close acquaintances on his personal account, too, but on BombInMyPants’ account, he can’t help but worry that the system might crash if not for the amazing technological advancement this world has achieved.

There are lots of people lashing out at him in private messages. They berate him for drawing such a story – only to add a ‘sob’ at the end of the message.

Among the comments, one stands out among the rest, “this is a pirate speaking. putting a bounty on the artist’s address. I plan to pay a friendly visit to him’

Aren’t we getting a bit too hardcore here?!

There are even extremely rich and generous insectoids, having showered him with virtual gifts to ask for the ending to be changed. Apparently, this is just a down payment, too. They’ll add more when he changes. Cheng Zhaoci quietly refunds the gifts back to the user. He won’t change the ending.

Though what is unexpected is that the amount of gifts he’s got only a day after publishing the short story is more than the sum he’s got for all three chapters of the little zombie king combined! Just one day, you know!

So Cheng Zhaoci sends a message to Xiao Ji and He Huaijian that he’ll visit in a few days! With lots of tasty food!

Though a while later, Xiao Ji finally replies, “Don’t come here so soon. I don’t think I want to see your face these few days.”

Cheng Zhaoci “???”

He does not understand why he seems unpopular all of a sudden.

But thankfully, Wei Zhuo is still Wei Zhuo.

After dusk, Wei Zhuo sent him a message.

[WeiZhuo: The comic is great (˙▽˙)]

The usual emoticon makes Cheng Zhaoci chuckle in response. He asks what he’s doing.

[WeiZhuo: My coworkers and I are out drinking troubles away]

Coworkers? So shemale soldiers? And drinking? Are they having a hard time at work/

[ChengZhaoci: Sounds like you all had a tough time. Is the military career stressful?]

Stressful? Wei Zhuo, in the bar, looks around him.

“Why would the artist do this to me?! Why would there be a story like this?! Oh man, fuck, I feel so sad, I’m so sad!”
“I’ve been sad since yesterday! I should never have followed the artist! But now, I, I can’t bring myself to unfollow either.”
“Why? Why? I don’t think I can ever be happy again.”
“My eyes, ow, my eyes hurt, but I still can’t stop crying! Boohoo.”

Finally, Wei Zhuo’s gaze falls to Sun Wushe, who is just quietly drinking away next to him. Whenever an insectoid talks about the most depressing parts of the story, his brows would visibly furrow.

[WeiZhuo: Yes, everyone is quite stressful]

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