”That ’s the thing, you know, you guys are too naive, you lack mettle, and that ’s why you ’re not top-tier material. ”

Bai Zhi smirked at the pale-faced Mustachio and at Nine-Tailed Fox, who was still retching with one hand on the couch for support, then he squatted down before the grisly corpse.

”If you can ’t even handle this much, I ’d hate to see what happens when you have to face something like a nameless horror…
Don ’t you Players in official organizations get any training for this? ”

”…N-no, ” Mustachio said through gritted teeth, as he tried to keep his queasy stomach in check.

”In that case, here ’s a training tip for you: try watching something like a horror flick with lots of blood and gore, while eating some delicious food at the same time, or perhaps challenge yourself to finish a meal next to a foul-smelling outhouse somewhere…

”Keep it up and you ’ll soon be able to sit at a table with Lao Ba* and Liu FeiFan** without batting an eye, ” came Bai Zhi ’s nonchalant reply as he thoroughly inspected the pile of flesh and bones before him.
”Tsk, tsk…
The bones are all exposed…
Hey, that reminds me—fall-off-the-bone tender, juicy steamed ribs are so good! ”

This time, it was Mustachio ’s turn to run to the nearest corner and puke.

Late Night Kitty had been spared the nightmarish sight from where she stood, but as she took in every moment of Mustachio and Nine-Tailed Fox ’s extremely worrying reactions, she dared not take even one step forward.

Reluctantly, she put the glasses on.


”Alrighty then, everyone emptied their guts? If you ’re done chucking up, it ’s time to get down to business. ”

Bai Zhi stood up, casually grabbing the throw blanket on the couch and draping it over the corpse as he did.

”I can count on you for some basic reconnaissance, yes? Front lawn, backyard—there should be a pool there—and rooftop, pick one each and search it for clues, just note down any important details and report back to me. ”

Mustachio and Nine-Tailed Fox ’s suffering was completely swept aside.

Between the four of them, it didn ’t take more than five minutes to figure out the complete layout of the house.
They were in a small bungalow, and this Game seemed to have captured every detail from the original Plants versus Zombies game exactly, from what Bai Zhi remembered of it.
There was a lawn in the front, a swimming pool in the back, and even the tiles on the roof looked like those in the game.

During the final five minutes before the start of the first wave, a virtual screen showed up in front of each Player with ten spaces on it.
Under the first one was an image of a slot machine, but the other nine were greyed-out and unusable.

”Spin the reels to unlock your starting plant… Each spin costs ten Coins and Players may spin a maximum of three times… Once accepted, the plant cannot be changed…
What is this? ”

Late Night Kitty looked bewildered after reading the instructions.

Bai Zhi glanced at her.
”Simple, we ’ll be defending against the first wave with four types of plants.
Haven ’t you played Plants versus Zombies before? ”

”…Plants versus…
Zombies? ”

After racking her brains for a moment, Late Night Kitty gave a firm shake of her head.
”Never heard of it.
I ’m not much of a gamer… ”

”Forget it then.
You all have at least ten Coins, right? Don ’t accept immediately after your first spin, but don ’t rush to spin again, either! Follow my lead…
and pray it ’s not Version 95.*** ”

As the seconds counted down, Bai Zhi had no choice but to speak bluntly.

”Also, if any of you roll a [Sunflower], lock it in immediately— ” Bai Zhi ’s brows went up upon seeing that the result of his first spin turned out to be the Sunflower, and he frowned as he quickly accepted the result.
”Well, I guess I got that covered. ”

Following in his footsteps, the other party members also spun the reels for their own plants.

”[Doom-shroom] …Shall I accept this? ”

Late Night Kitty ’s eyes lit up when she saw the result of her first spin.

”It sounds really strong, based on the description.
’Destroys zombies in a wide area ’…
Hmm? What ’s this about sleeping during the day? Why would a mushroom need to sleep? ”

”…No mushrooms, ” said Bai Zhi after a moment ’s thought.

well, how about [Cob Cannon]? It says here that it shoots homing corn missiles, and…
’can explode whole areas of zombies with a single corn launch ’.
Sounds even stronger than the Doom-shroom! ”

”…Fingers crossed you get something more normal on your third spin. ”


It took a total of about seven spins between the three other party members, but with Bai Zhi ’s advice, they settled on their starting lineup of plants.

Bai Zhi had his [Sunflower], while Mustachio and Nine-Tailed Fox got the [Starfruit] and [Peashooter] respectively.
Late Night Kitty ended up getting…
the [Fume-shroom].

Bai Zhi could not help making a derisive smirk as he saw what Late Night Kitty ’s final spin produced.

”Whatever, at least it doesn ’t consume Sun, and in a pinch, it could be useful as cannon fodder…
It ’s better than the first two, at least. ”

In a way, these four plants were adequate for surviving the first wave of zombies, but the possibility that the zombies could come from the lawn, the pool or even the roof complicated things greatly.

”We start with fifty Sun, and it ’s a shared resource, so all of you—except Late Night Kitty, because her Fume-shroom doesn ’t consume any Sun—please don ’t spend it rashly.
Kitty can plant her shrooms anywhere, though. ”

Bai Zhi weighed each of their strengths and soon assigned them their respective tasks.

”Nine-Tailed Fox, you take the roof.
If any zombies try to break in from there, you take them out with physical attacks, got it? ”

After thoughtfully considering the implications, Fox said, ”…No problem. ”

Turning to Mustachio, Bai Zhi said, ”Good.
Mustachio, you guard the pool, but first, lay down a row of Starfruits on the front lawn.
Then, you should plant one Starfruit on either side of the pool.
Finally, swap places with Fox so he can plant some Peashooters.

Feeling slightly frustrated at being ignored, Late Night Kitty raised a hand.
”What about me? ”

”You… ”

Bai Zhi hummed to himself briefly.
Finally, he nodded and said, ”Go nuts, plant your Fume-shrooms everywhere, as fast as the cooldown will allow, and as close to the frontline as possible.
Do your best to slow down the zombies and buy time for your teammates with your sacrifice! We will never forget you, Fume-shroom. ”

Late Night Kitty fixed Bai Zhi with an incredulous stare.

* Content Warning! Crazy person who streamed himself tasting feces in a toilet.

** A character from the TVB drama 巾帼枭雄之义海豪情 (No Regrets in English, lit.
The Passionate Saga of an Iron Lady in a Sea of Righteousness).
Apparently notable for a line of dialogue where he gets told to ”eat shit ”.
Source (in Chinese)

*** Extremely difficult, modified version of PvZ.

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