Chapter 17: The Fruit of Elpis
Its name was “Elpis” and once it matured, it would grow into an A rank organism.
The name “Elpis” was taken from the Greek goddess of hope. She was once locked in Pandora’s box, and when the box was opened, all kinds of catastrophes were released into the world. Only Elpis remained in the box.
As an A rank organism in Nibelungen, it possessed a rich nervous system. Although it didn’t have a human “brain,” it was capable of complex thinking and awareness. When Zhou Qing discovered information regarding this organism, he thought that this would be the breakthrough to cure his brain tumor.
Juli Corporation had already been conducting research in Nibelungen for many years. A plant like Elpis had always been one of their key research priorities, but they’ve never been able to obtain its fruit or seed, let alone take a sample of it.
Yet now, Zhou Qing had its fruit in his grasp?
None of this was an illusion.
That S rank organism had really been here!
However, what was his purpose in helping Zhou Qing?
Well, no matter what his purpose was, he no longer had anything worthy of being taken away.
If he wanted Zhou Qing’s life, then he could give it to him… there was nothing unfair about it, and Zhou Qing wouldn’t feel unfortunate.
On the contrary, he would feel grateful.
The fragrance of the fruit of Elpis seemed to have a calming effect. Zhou Qing felt as if his thoughts were galloping across open plains, running with the wind, free and boundless.
He fell asleep.
“Zhou Yu! Zhou Yu! Wake up!”
Someone was slapping Zhou Yu’s face. Zhou Yu abruptly sat up, almost knocking into Wu Yun’s nose.
“My God, you sure sleep like a log. Even Dr. Daniel woke up before you.” Wu Yun looked at Zhou Yu, then placed a hand on his forehead.
“What happened?” Zhou Yu asked.
“Nothing. I thought you were having a fever, but your body temperature is normal.”
Wu Yun got up and went to wake Han Li and Li Qian.
Zhou Yu kneaded his face. He felt like something unbelievable had happened.
What was going on? Why was he so deeply asleep?
He had always been very vigilant, but after he closed his eyes last night, he actually fell asleep without a bit of awareness.
He looked down at that little thing. It was still well asleep and didn’t react at all.
“Hey, if you think there’s something wrong with it…” Wu Yun hinted at Zhou Yu’s gun with his eyes.
“I thought you said we had to bring it back to the base for research.”
“That’s what I meant. Even if you think there’s something wrong with it, we still have to bring it back to the base. It has high research value,” Wu Yun nodded.
Zhou Yu didn’t want to pay attention to him. He put the little thing back into the silk scarf and tied it to his waist, then continued walking. He looked towards Zhou Qing.
Probably because they had gotten a full night’s rest, Zhou Qing looked much more spirited than he had been yesterday. Not only were his spirits improved, but even his face didn’t look as pallid as usual.
“Professor Zhou, you can give me some of your stuff. I’ll help you carry it,” suggested Dr. Daniel.
“There’s no need, thank you. I feel fine today.” Not only did Zhou Qing respect Dr. Daniel, but he also felt grateful towards him.
Li Qian and Han Li were in lower spirits than Zhou Qing. The two had their heads down and were rubbing their eyes.
Wu Yun walked up to them and clapped his hands, “Hey! Cheer up! Let’s try to make it out of here today!”
“Actually, our luck has been pretty good. No dangerous organisms tried to attack us throughout the entire night,” said Dr. Daniel.
Li Qian and Han Li also nodded, agreeing that they had been extremely fortunate, but Wu Yun and Zhou Yu looked at Zhou Qing.
In his heart, Zhou Qing understood that their night of peace had been because of the protection of that S rank organism, but he couldn’t tell everyone that.
For one thing, it would cause panic, and for another, Zhou Yu’s character would definitely compel him to protect Zhou Qing by breaking off all contact between him and the S rank organism.
But Zhou Qing didn’t want that to happen. He wanted to learn more about the S rank organism.
It wasn’t just a scholarly desire for knowledge, but more so due to his longing for the other deep in his subconscious.
There was a kind of resonance between him and that S rank organism.
He wanted to keep maintaining the unique understanding they had between them, even if his ending was to become the other’s prey.
“Probably because we all injected the inhibitors, we didn’t emit any hormones that would mark us as prey,” Zhou Qing replied.
“Maybe,” Zhou Yu looked away.
“All right, let’s not waste time and keep going.” Wu Yun saw that Zhou Yu wasn’t planning on pursuing an answer, so it would be meaningless if he continued to drag on the conversation.
“Are you sure we’re going the right way?” Li Qian felt unsure and asked Wu Yun while walking.
Wu Yun raised his wrist to check his watch. It was fitted with a special compass that was calibrated to the magnetic field in Nibelungen and could tell the direction.
“We’re going the right way. We took a long detour to avoid the two-headed wolf spiders,” replied Wu Yun.
“So we can’t make it out by tonight?” Han Li asked, extremely worried.
“That’s very possible.”
Wu Yun thought that his words would make everyone nervous, but contrary to his expectations, Li Qian and Han Li, the two with the most emotional ups and downs, were very calm.
They walked for a while. The little fellow at Zhou Yu’s waist nudged him, seeming to have woken up. It poked its head out of the silk scarf and opened its large eyes, looking up at Zhou Yu.
“Eh, it’s awake!” Han Li walked over to Zhou Yu and stroked its head with a finger.
It turned to look at Han Li, seeming to smile. It licked Han Li once on the back of her hand, then rubbed against her with its head, like a small, lazy kitten.
Han Li was amused by it. “Don’t you guys think we need to give it a name?”
“Look at it, it’s black all over. Let’s call it ‘Charcoal Ball’!” Wu Yun deadpanned.
Han Li rolled her eyes, “What kind of a name is that?”
“Let’s call it Little Black,” Li Qian also came by to chime in, “Are you hungry, Little Black?”
Saying that, Li Qian took the leftover compressed biscuit he hadn’t finished eating and slowly waved it in front of its face.
The little guy followed Li Qian’s hand, turning to the left, then to the right. Every time Li Qian moved the biscuit close to its mouth, it opened its mouth and closed its eyes. Then, Li Qian would move his hand away. After this was repeated a few times, it simply turned around and buried its face against Zhou Yu’s waist, showing its dissatisfaction towards Li Qian by ignoring him.
Zhou Yu placed his palm on top of its head. “It’s better if we don’t give it a name. Once we name it, we’ll become attached to it, and then we won’t have the heart to hand it over to the researchers anymore.”
Zhou Yu’s words caused everyone to fall silent.
As if the little thing understood Zhou Yu’s words, it showed Zhou Yu an expression that was completely different from pity, dissatisfaction, or even grievance.
It was disappointment.
Zhou Yu suddenly started to doubt if it could understand their language.
Before he came here, he had heard that many life forms in Nibelungen were intelligent, and some of them… surpassed even humans.
Zhou Yu teased it a little with his finger, but it didn’t react at all. Zhou Yu slid his index finger down the soft fur on his head, but it extended a wing and covered its head with it, not allowing Zhou Yu to touch. Zhou Yu thought it was funny for some reason.
“Do you want a name that badly?”
The little fellow peeped out from under its wing and looked at Zhou Yu, then shrunk back under it and continued sulking.
After walking for more than an hour, the air had become noticeably more humid.
“I think I heard something…” Wu Yun tilted his head.
“It’s the sound of water,” replied Zhou Yu.
Everyone pointed their ears that way and listened carefully. The sound of water became more and more obvious.
“Is it a waterfall?” Dr. Daniel asked.
“It seems so…”
“I’m a little curious, how are the waterfalls in Nibelungen different from the ones in our world…?”
As Li Qian spoke, he found that Wu Yun’s expression had turned dark.
When they saw the huge stream of water that seemed to fall straight down from above through the gaps in the branches of the trees, they collectively tilted their heads up and let out an “Oh…” in unison.
The waterfall was very large and deafening.
“If I’m not wrong, this should be the largest waterfall in this primeval forest and the source of all its rivers, the ‘Angel Horns,’” said Wu Yun.
“This is the Angel Horns? How magnificent…” Zhou Qing was moved. “According to Juli Corp’s research data, the ecological diversity here isn’t inferior to the Amazon River!”
“So… are there any piranhas here?” Li Qian gulped.
“Piranhas are comparatively harmless,” Zhou Qing replied.
In the Amazonian ecosystem, there were many animals even more ferocious than the piranha, let alone in Nibelungen.
Li Qian’s face immediately lost all of its color.
“Let’s not get any closer to that waterfall!”
Wu Yun didn’t say anything, he only kept walking. Everyone else silently followed behind him. Li Qian didn’t understand and tugged at Han Li. “Are you not afraid either?”
Han Li gave a bitter laugh. “Will that help? Wu Yun is familiar with this place. If we could go around it, why would he bring us here? It has to be because going around would take more time. The inhibitor in our bodies can’t last until then.”
After hearing Han Li explain, Li Qian also lowered his head and fell silent.
The closer they got, the more they felt the spray of mist and water splashing from the waterfall on their faces. Li Qian had no doubt that if he were to be hit by the falling water, the force of its impact would pulverize him.
Under the falls lay the longest river in the forest—the Angel Tears.