Chapter 1: The Rescue Mission with an Unknown Objective
The entire space was tense beyond comparison. The communications personnel had foreheads covered with sweat and backs thoroughly drenched.
“Line 2! Line 2 please reply when the message is received!”
“Is Line 3 still there? Line 3 please reply when the message is received!”
“Is Line 5 still on the line?”
In a temporary command center, three communications personnel involved in operations were trying to get in touch with the SWAT team that had entered Juli Corporation’s Biological Research Institute. Less than ten minutes after they had entered the Research Institute, all of them lost contact with the command center.
It was a first for such silence to be so frightening.
Behind the three communications personnel, Zhou Yu stood in a bulletproof vest with his arms crossed while acting as the operation commander.
The twenty-eight-year-old Zhou Yu’s eyes had a calm sharpness to them. His lips were pursed in a stiff line and his right index finger pushed down on his opposite arm.
He was silent, deep in thought. The response from the Research Institute was not the only thing on his mind.
What could cause seven specially trained, fully equipped, skilled, healthy, and amply experienced SWAT team members to lose all contact with them in less than ten minutes while the command center was left completely in the dark?
This was supposed to be a simple rescue operation.
Juli Corp originated from the large-scale investments of an alliance of corporate tycoons from Asia, America, and Europe to create a biotechnology corporation. In recent years, the development of the domain of biopharmaceuticals had advanced by leaps and bounds. Whether it was a certain malignant infectious disease that spread around Africa or critical care for the genetic disorder of a certain country’s important figure, the corporation was extremely active. No matter which country Juli Corp branched into, their research organization was sure to receive special protection from the government.
An hour ago, Zhou Yu’s SWAT team had received an assignment to enter Juli Corp’s Biological Research Institute and rescue the trapped hostages there. The cause of the incident was allegedly a researcher who had suffered a mental collapse under long-term work-related stress and was attempting to destroy the entire research organization. After he was discovered, his plans for destruction were foiled, but he took advantage of the Research Institute’s system equipment to trap the other researchers inside. Threatening their lives, he demanded that Juli Corp terminate all research involved in a project code-named “Der Ring des Nibelungen.”
That kind of demand was impossible to agree to.
And so, Zhou Yu’s small, elite unit had accepted the assignment and headed for the sealed Research Institute to save the trapped researchers.
Before mission deployment, communications personnel Mei Xi had glanced over the researchers’ profiles and was taken aback.
They were the cream of the crop in their respective fields, such as cytology, neurology, virology, and others. Their collective worth was beyond a monetary value. This meant that even if they had to stake it all, they could spare no effort in completing the rescue mission.
This puzzled Mei Xi; just what kind of research was Juli Corp engaged in?
At this time, Mei Xi faintly had a feeling that the story of an aberrant researcher keeping the other researchers hostage was a cover-up. Something even more terrible must have happened in there… Mei Xi also believed that the team that had gone inside was now…
Just then, Line 7 responded.
“Chief! Don’t come inside! Do not come inside!”
It was vice-captain Chen Chong’s voice.
Zhou Yu, who had not spoken a word so far, yanked over Mei Xi’s headset with one hand and commanded, “Chen Chong! Where are you? Pull out immediately!”
The signal didn’t cut off, but the crunch of bones shattering came through in a burst. Zhou Yu tightly clenched his fist upon hearing it, and at his side, Mei Xi’s fingertips were slightly trembling.
“Chen Chong! Chen Chong!”
Zhou Yu’s voice remained low and cold, stifling the atmosphere in the command vehicle to the verge of suffocation.
“Chief…” Mei Xi had been through operations both large and small, and although she hadn’t been charging through enemy lines, she did have plenty of experience with all sorts of situations. She thought that she had perfected an imperturbable heart, but she had overestimated herself.
Zhou Yu’s back only stiffened for less than a second before he straightened out his cut-resistant gloves. After confirming the location of the pistol in the holster on his thigh, he shouldered a Type 95 assault rifle and pulled open the car door.
His actions were sharp and decisive.
When Zhou Yu was about the exit the vehicle, Mei Xi finally realized what Zhou Yu was about to do. “Chief, you can’t go! Did you forget vice-captain Chen’s last words? Reinforcements are about to arrive!”
“By the time reinforcements come, it might be too late to recover their bodies.”
Zhou Yu’s tone remained cool and collected, as if he was facing a familiar situation where the worst that could happen was getting caught up in a hail of bullets. But he knew in his heart that it definitely wouldn’t be as simple as just that.
“Chief…” Mei Xi knew that once Zhou Yu had set his mind to something, then she wouldn’t be able to stop him.
“I’m only going to take a look at what took out all our people.”
Zhou Yu left quickly, approaching the Research Institute.
To Zhou Yu, this had nothing to do with curiosity, only responsibility. He had to find out what had happened to the team that had been through hell and high water with him. If they had all died in the line of duty, then as the operation commander, Zhou Yu couldn’t just let himself live on without knowing the truth.
The exterior of the Research Institute was an all-metal construct. Under the moonlight, it reflected a cold light. There were no other buildings in the vicinity of the facility. Gravel was everywhere but there were no signs of human habitation, as if it was a deserted island.
According to the building map, it was a hexagonal courtyard-style building. The layout was a bit like the pentagon.
To protect classified research, its security system was extremely precise. Every researcher’s height, pace, and voice were all recorded into the system. Each researcher could only move about in their corresponding zones, and if anyone overstepped their research zone, then they would be locked down and issued a warning.
In order to facilitate the rescue work of the SWAT team, the system technicians at Juli Corp had opened the passageway to the Research Institute through remote access.
Zhou Yu carried his gun and came to the passageway entrance.
The space in front of him was brightly lit, but not a single person could be seen.
The scenario was somewhat like Resident Evil. Perhaps if he went a bit more forward, a horde of zombies would rush forth, or maybe an infrared laser would cut intruders into meat chunks.
But at that moment, Zhou Yu only wanted to find his team members as quickly as possible.
He held up his gun, kept his back straight, and walked forward with steady but silent steps. He maintained this posture while quickly walking in.
The communication device in his ear sounded with Mei Xi’s voice, “Chief, new orders came from up top, we need to withdraw immediately! The mission has been terminated!”
Zhou Yu snorted coldly, “We don’t have anyone left, what’s the point of retreating?”
He knew he should obey the order and that it wasn’t too late to turn around and head back. But at the same time, he also knew that if he turned around now, then everything that happened here would become an unspeakable secret. Not only will he never see his teammates again, but he’ll also never find out what happened.
Compared to spending the rest of his life in uncertainty and regret, he’d rather find out the truth now.
Zhou Yu walked the entire passageway without hesitating. He started to turn to the left.
Originally, there had been a set of double doors ahead, but now, both the inner and outer doors were wide open.
Zhou Yu went forward while remaining calm and collected, his senses sharpening. He carefully listened for any sounds, but there was only his own breathing.
Where were the researchers?
Where were his teammates?
The silence felt abnormal to Zhou Yu.
Finally, up ahead in the passageway, he saw a figure lying prone on the floor. He should have been a researcher because he wore a long, white lab coat. He was lying in a pool of blood, staining a large portion of his white lab coat red. It was a ghastly sight.
The entire place was splattered with traces of blood, as if something had been moving at high speed while spraying the researchers’ blood everywhere. But presently, Zhou Yu couldn’t see anything nearby. Whatever person or monster it was that had murdered those researchers, they or it wasn’t here at the moment.
Zhou Yu slowly crouched down while remaining vigilant. With his left hand, he pressed down on the person’s neck. His pulse was already gone and even his corpse had cooled.
Zhou Yu turned over his face slightly, wanting to confirm if he was the researcher who had lost his mind or a hostage. But the moment he saw the face, his entire body tensed up.
The corpse’s jaw was completely gone, as if some wild animal had torn it off. The area below his collarbones was also hollow and even his organs were missing.
Zhou Yu knitted his brows, cursing in his heart: Fuck!
Juli Corp was definitely lying, and as for the research they were conducting, Zhou Yu didn’t believe that it was only limited to biopharmaceuticals!
Maybe the story that a researcher had lost his mind was also false!
Zhou Yu adjusted his breathing and continued forwards.
Past another set of double doors, what appeared in front of his eyes exceeded his understanding.
There were bloodstains everywhere. A security guard at the Research Institute was sitting against the wall, his eyes open wide and both of his calves missing. Something had struck his head. Zhou Yu didn’t need to examine him any further; he knew that the back of his head had been completely crushed.
At the front, two researchers in white lab coats were lying face-down. One of the researchers was in a considerably twisted pose. It looked like they had been snapped in half at the waist.
Under the lights, the scene resembled Asura’s hell. There were no signs of life, and if you closed your eyes, you could even hear the dripping sound of blood.
Zhou Yu was very convinced at this moment that whatever had done this, it definitely wasn’t human!
Mei Xi’s voice came from the earpiece, “Chief! Come back quickly! The higher-ups said this mission is already beyond our capabilities! I’m begging you! If something happens to you, what are we going to do?”
Mei Xi’s voice was low. She was holding back her tears.
“Xiao Mei, If I can’t come back anymore, then you should just treat this whole thing as if it never happened.”
At that moment, the three communications personnel, including Mei Xi, all fell silent. They clenched their fists, and even if outsiders were unable to comprehend Zhou Yu’s insistence, they absolutely could.
“We’re not leaving, we’ll wait for you here,” Mei Xi replied.
Zhou Yu took out his earpiece and shut down his communications equipment.