Short, Light, Free Chapter 203: Mountain, Sea IX: Malong

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"Gather all nine sons?" I asked, puzzled.

"Chaos is very strong and the only one who has managed to constrain it was the real dragon. Even then, he wasn't able to kill it completely. Now that Chaos has escaped, it'd be sure to destroy the planet if unstopped."

Kylin counted the number of people onboard. "How do we arrange this? I'll follow Boss."

Dongfang looked at me. "It doesn't matter who goes but I must be with him."

Xiaoai immediately grabbed my shoulder, saying, "Me, too. I'll follow Brother Gou."

I stood rooted to the ground, unsure.

Suddenly, I felt something odd happening inside my body. I opened my mouth and an aged voice sounded, "I'm sure everyone knows what's going on. I, Old Tao, was the first to enter. You might need to get someone to receive me. It's so dark here."

"Don't be anxious, I'll get you soon," Pu Lao promised.

Jiao Tu asked, "Why are you guys in his body?"

"This child lacks souls so I put a piece of mine in his body. I wasn't expecting the rest of you to do the same. What else was I supposed to do? I'm stuck in a bag and I have no choice but to borrow him to see the world."

I kept my mouth opened wide as these strange voices continued flowing out of me. Was I now reduced to just being a megaphone? It was an uncomfortable experience.

Jiao Tu stirred his saliva on his hand before sticking it on my head. "Tao Tie, Pu Lao, and Pi, way to go, huh?"

When Jiao Tu's hand was on my head, I could barely gain a bit more control over my body. The moment he let go of his hand, I said, "Please don't tell me that you've joined them? It's messy enough in here. Look at me! I can't even move!"

"Yes, I've done it. A piece of my soul is in your body now but mine's much more gentle," Jiao Tu responded.

"What? You gave it already?" I asked in disbelief.

"I have nothing great to offer you but I think you'll like having a highly retentive memory," Jiao Tu commented.

I touched my head and could feel the external skeleton moving. Truthfully, compared to Tao Tie's transference, Senior Jiao Tu's was indeed the gentlest.

"Didn't you say earlier that the external shell can only last for three hours? If you're going to gather the sons, shouldn't you settle my problem first?" I pleaded helplessly.

"You can move, can't you? It's already settled! Your recovery is all up to you, though," Jiao Tu replied.

"Quit all that nonsense chitchat," Kylin cut in. "We should allocate tasks now."

"I'll go look for Boss Bixi. Who's going to find Boss Chiwen?" Jiao Tu asked.

Dongfang, Xiaoai, and Kylin shifted their eyes to me as if they were waiting for my decision.

I looked at Kylin and said, "Let's go in order. One person per search. Let them go first, it's no problem."

The moment I finished my sentence, the external gear controlled my arm by raising it and pointing it at Kylin.

"Me? How dare you order me?" Kylin demanded, displeased.

"I merely said what I was thinking. I'm not controlling my movements. It's this thing…" I explained, my mechanically-ran hand pointing at the exoskeleton frame around my head.

"You expect me to believe that?" Kylin raised his right hand indignantly. Having lost his left, his action seemed to require more effort.

"Stay away from me. I won't fight a cripple." My legs automatically took a few steps back and my hands instinctively shifted into a protective pose in front of my head.

Dongfang interrupted, "Go look for Chiwen, Kylin. No more discussion."

Jiao Tu approached Kylin and looked his arm over. "It's not a serious injury. I'll give you a few jabs and you should be fine in three hours."

"Three hours for a whole arm?" I gasped.

Kylin huffed haughtily. "Our healing ability isn't something you humans can understand." 

Jiao Tu retrieved a few syringes from somewhere and gave him the vaccines.

"Get some people down here." Jiao Tu pointed upward as Kylin transformed into his beast form. Even without a left limb, he was able to stand steadily. In just a few strides, he was out the door.

"As for Gong Fu and Ya Zi... how are you three planning to do this?" Jiao Tu turned to us.

"I'll follow Brother Gou," Xiaoai repeated.

Dongfang shook her head and said, "He has to follow me since he can't really move and is dependant on the machine. I'll bring him along to look for Gong Fu. Xiaoai will look for Ya Zi."

"Kylin's your subject so he should listen to you, but I'm not bound to such oath. Plus, I don't know who Ya Zi is and where to find him," Xiaoai snapped back.

"Then we're short of one person. What should we do?" Kylin asked.

"No, we're not. My parents can go look for Ya Zi while I follow them to find Gong Fu," Xiaoai said with a smile, fishing her mobile phone out.

After seeing Xiaoai wave it about in the air, Jiao Tu added, "There's no signal down here, we have to get back upstairs. Who are your parents by the way?"

"Bai Ze," Dongfang answered for her.

"Oh. Well, it shouldn't be a problem then," Jiao Tu decided before walking up.

I quickly caught up with him while Dongfang followed behind. Xiaoai continued moving her phone around until we reached the top.

She finally got through to her father and she quickly relayed the events to him. After a short while, she hung up and faced the rest of us. "It's all settled. My dad has agreed to look for Gong Fu."

"I'd like to ask you something, Senior. That Gong Fu… where is he?" I questioned.

"You might not know, Junior, but Xiu does," Jiao Tu answered.

I gave Dongfang a side glance and she replied, "I've lost a part of my memory."

"Well, Gong Fu likes water. If he's not in Yangtze, he'd be in Yellow River," Jiao Tu contributed.

Xiaoai grabbed my hand and said, "That's great. Sister Dongfang can go to Yangtze with Senior and I'll bring Brother Gou to Yellow River."

"I'm stronger than you and I can protect him. I'll bring him. You can head down to Yellow River alone," Dongfang responded dully.

"Didn't you see how handsome Brother Gou is after the transformation? So handsome… no, I mean powerful. He'd be able to protect me. I want Brother Gou to protect me. Since you're so strong, you can visit Yangtze yourself," Xiaoai insisted.

"You go to Yellow River alone," Dongfang clapped back.

"How about you go to Yangtze yourself," Xiaoai spat.

 ...

Jiao Tu gave me a look. "I'll let you youngsters settle it by yourselves. Just bring them back so we can all gather and make plans."

Before I could speak, Jiao Tu transformed into a tortoise and tucked his head and limbs into the shell before rolling forward like a wheel.

The two women were still arguing.

I butted in, "Stop. We'll all go to Yellow River first then Yangtze. We'll do this together, alright?"

Dongfang took a few steps forward and called a staff over. "Get the chariot ready."

The staff hedged, "You want the car, right?"

Dongfang nodded.

Relying on the exoskeleton machine, I followed Dongfang to the door while Xiaoai followed behind me like a kitten.

A Lincoln sedan drove over and parked right before the gate.

The chauffeur, dressed in a sleek suit, alighted to open the door for us.

Dongfang waited as Xiaoai boarded first.

My external gear guided me forward. "Aren't you coming?" I asked Dongfang.

"Where's my chariot?" she asked suspiciously.

"What's that?"

"The real dragon gave it to me. Dragon head, horse body. Just a call and he'll bring me almost anywhere," she explained.

The chauffeur removed his cap and smiled, "I'm here, Madam. You lost your memory again?"

"You're it?" she eyed him doubtfully.

"With the progress of the nation, we're no longer allowed to roam about in our original forms. Call me Malong from now on. I'm not the table tennis guy, though, so don't get confused," he joked.

"No more flying?" Dongfang asked.

"We're going to Yangtze. This doesn't fly, does it?" I asked, pointing at the Lincoln. "How long is it going to take us?"

Malong rummaged through his pockets and finally fished out a bunch of cards.

"Here are my licenses. I can pilot a car, lorry, helicopter, plane, and ship. Skydiving license, diving cert, first aid cert, blood donation cert. I learned all these so I can bring Madam out."

I was almost drooling when he continued, "There are more but I didn't bring them out. We're going to Yangtze, right? We'll drive to the airport to book a plane."

"You're good at geography," I mused in awe.

"It's never too old to learn," he told me.

"But... I can't sit on you anymore?" Dongfang complained.

"Don't worry, we'll find a quiet spot and I can take you for a ride."

Dongfang nodded happily before hopping into the car.

I had to retract the machine a little before I could fit in the car.

We went straight to the airport and took the VIP route upon arriving.

Malong seemed to have a professional relationship with the airport personnel.

At the security checkpoint, I was forced to remove my gear since it couldn't pass the scanner and be transported.

I looked at the battery level and realized that there wasn't much left.

Malong called for the staff to prepare a wheelchair for me as I recalled Senior Jiao Tu's words: Internal piece is good. I do not recommend the external one.

 Just like that, I was back to being paralyzed.

‌Malong put on a pilot's uniform and entered the cockpit.

Dongfang stared blankly at the space in front of her while Xiaoai ordered some fruits just before departure. Since it was free, she had decided to order 10 portions to share.

When the plane took off, I could feel my ears suffering. I wasn't able to even swallow to pop them. Malong joined us from time to time, asking if he was driving at an alright speed.

Dongfang would always ask if he could go faster each time he checked on us. At times, Malong would even sit down with Xiaoai to chat and enjoy the fruits.

"Hey, aren't you the pilot? Who's driving the plane when you're here?" I asked in confusion.

"It's on autopilot so don't worry. It knows how to fly by itself."

"But it's just a machine!" I argued.

"Even if the engine fails and explodes, I can transform and save all of you within a minute," he assured me with a carefree laugh, popping a grape into his mouth.

All of a sudden, an explosion sounded from my left. I looked out the window and saw that the left wing had been broken off.

"F*ck that mouth of yours!" I exclaimed.

"The plane must be moving too fast. Come, I'll bring you guys out." Malong squatted on the ground and transformed into a beast with a dragon's head and a horse's body.

Dongfang grabbed me and we hopped on its back.

She then picked up a chair and threw it at the cabin door, creating a hole for Malong to leap through.

Xiaoai turned invisible and passed through the plane walls.

"It will be fine, Madam. The plane's cheap and paid for already. Look down, that's Yangtze River. We're not at the river source yet but let's go take a look, anyway," Malong suggested.

I was frightened and speechless.

"I'm here for Gong Fu," Dongfang informed him.

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