22 Comfort

In Richard's bedroom, a somber atmosphere hung heavy in the air. Lisa's tear-streaked face revealed the depth of her grief as she sat beside her brother on the bed. Her hands covered her face, muffling the quiet sobs that escaped from her trembling lips.

Richard sat there, his own emotions a tumultuous blend of sorrow and uncertainty. Death was a stark reality, one that had struck close to home, but his nature resisted the urge to succumb to dramatic displays of grief. He was more accustomed to a pragmatic outlook on life, one that sought solutions rather than dwelling on the emotional turbulence death often brought. Yet, even he couldn't deny the weight of the loss they were both feeling.

Looking back, he could have saved their parents when he acquired access to the military system. But he had chosen otherwise, primarily because Lisa's safety was in jeopardy too. Given that their parents ran a grocery store, he had believed they could endure for a while. On top of that, his mother had informed him that they had secured the door with a barricade.

Now, what to do? He looked at his sister who was still overwhelmed with grief. As a brother, he had to find a way to comfort his little sister.

With a slow and gentle movement, he reached out to Lisa, his arm finding its way around her shoulders. She didn't resist, allowing herself to be drawn into his embrace. He held her close, letting her tears soak into his shirt as her sobs continued.

In the quiet of that moment, no words were exchanged. Richard simply held Lisa, offering his silent support. He felt her trembling slowly ease, her breathing becoming less ragged as she clung to him.

It was a small gesture, a simple act of solace amidst the storm of emotions that raged within both of them.

As minutes passed, Lisa seemed to have calmed down. And there, he took his opportunity.

"I'm sorry, Lisa," Richard whispered. "I wasn't able to save them in time."

"It's not your fault, brother..." she replied in a whisper, shaking her head slowly.

"Now…there's only the two of us," Richard said gently. "I will not lose you."

Lisa looked up, her tear-swollen eyes meeting his gaze. She saw a determination in his eyes that she hadn't noticed before, a determination to protect what was left of their family.

Richard wiped her tears gently with his thumb and managed a faint smile. "Stop crying now, you are making me even sadder."

Lisa managed a soft chuckle through her tears. His attempt at humor, no matter how slight, brought a glimmer of light to the heaviness that surrounded them.

"I'll try."

He leaned back, still keeping an arm around her. "We'll figure things out, Lisa. We have each other, and my army. I will kill all the zombies in this world and save as many survivors as I can."

"I'll support you in any way I can," Lisa responded.

Richard smiled warmly for one last time before speaking. "Okay, I'm going to sleep as I need to reset my biological clock."

"Brother…I have a favor…" Lisa said.


"Brother…can I sleep here with you?"

Richard looked at her tenderly before replying. "I have no problem with it, the bed is big anyway."

With that, they settled together in the bed.

As Richard was about to close his eyes, a notification tab popped up.

[You haven't claimed your daily rewards for this day.]

Richard almost forgot that the system has daily rewards. He opened his system and claimed the daily reward.

[Congratulations, you have received an experience capsule! Experience capsule can increase experience gains by about 100 percent.]

It's a good reward, it would allow him to grind up levels when they started clearing a portion of the surroundings of zombies.

"Brother…why are you grinning?" Lisa asked.


Lisa nodded and snuggled closer, wrapping her arm around his chest.

"Lisa…how can I sleep if you are being this clingy?"

"Well…it's making me comfortable," Lisa explained. "Just don't mind me."

"Alright, I won't mind," he replied, and he drifted off to sleep.


Richard slowly opened his eyes, and raised his upper body, attempting to stretch and shake off the remnants of sleep. But his movement was abruptly halted by an unexpected obstacle – a portion of Lisa's body was draped over him, her head nestled on his chest and her arm resting across his abdomen.

He blinked in surprise, momentarily disoriented by the warm weight pressing against him. As his sleep-fogged mind cleared, he recalled the events of the previous night. Lisa had asked to sleep beside him, and he had agreed without hesitation. However, he hadn't anticipated the physical closeness that came with it.

Careful not to wake her, Richard adjusted his position as best as he could within the confines of the bed. He realized that Lisa had sought comfort in her sleep, seeking solace in his presence. Her peaceful expression contrasted starkly with the grief-stricken face he had seen the night before.

He couldn't help but feel a surge of protectiveness. Their parents were gone, and the world outside was a dangerous place now. Lisa was all he had left, and he was determined to shield her from harm in any way he could.

Gently, he brushed a strand of hair away from Lisa's face, his touch feather-light so as not to disturb her slumber. He marveled at the innocence she still held, despite the grim reality they faced. She looked so much younger when she was asleep, like the little sister he had always known.

But it's time for him to work. So he carefully lifted Lisa's arm from his abdomen and slid out of the bed, tucking the covers around her to keep her warm. She stirred slightly but didn't wake.

Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he made his way out of his bedroom and headed over to the command center.

Arriving at the command center, the staff there performed a salute.

"Sir!" Mark called as he approached him. "You fell asleep again huh?"

"Yeah…I'm sorry for leaving the command center like that so suddenly…"

"It's perfectly fine sir, we understand what you are going through," Mark said. "Anyways sir, about the rescue operation of Lisa's classmates."

"Oh…what about it?" Richard asked as he settled down on his chair.

"We have successfully rescued Denise and Angela's parents. We are holding them on the eighth floor. Also, I need you to approve this system that we came up with."

Mark handed Richard a document.

"What time is it?" Richard asked, momentarily disoriented after the sleep.

"It's around 5 AM, sir," Mark replied.

Richard rubbed his eyes and took the document, scanning through it. It detailed a plan for processing survivors, where they'll get their identification, age, previous job, and any skills that might be useful in this new world. It was a necessary step to ensure the group's resources were optimized and everyone contributed in a meaningful way.

Richard nodded as he read through the plan. "This looks well thought out, Mark. Go ahead and implement it."

"I need your signature, sir," Mark said, handing over a pen.

Richard quickly reviewed the document one more time before signing it. With the document signed, he handed it back to Mark.

"So, about Lisa's classmates' parents. How are they holding up?"

"Eager to see their daughters," Mark replied simply.

"But why only Angela and Denise's parents rescued? Aren't there still four?"

"Well, about that sir, the helicopters need to return and refuel. We'll continue the rescue operation at eight o'clock in the morning, giving our Special Forces time to rest."

"Speaking of rest, you need it too. You have been working round the clock and it's not healthy," Richard stated firmly.

Mark offered a tired smile. "I will sir."

"So how many survivors did we take in?"

"As for Angela, there are two; her mother and father. As for Denise, it's three: her mother, father, and older sister."

[Notification update: 5 survivors rescued. You receive 25,000 gold coins.]

"Mark, tomorrow, we'll start the scavenging operation. I want the Chief of Staff of the Army to give me the list of military hardware that we will need for the operation," he paused as he opened his drawer and pulled out a paper. "This is the list of available military hardware in my system with the price and my current balance."

"I'll make sure to give it to him later," Mark said.

"Later…let's deliver good news to Denise and Angela."

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