Chapter 38: Night Spirit Island
“That’s not right, Mo Ye. You’ve been following me the whole time, so you should like the foods that I like. For example, beer.” Zhou Yu wore a serious expression, as if he would get mad if Mo Ye didn’t do as he said. He cracked open a can of beer and indicated for Mo Ye to come closer. “Open your mouth.”
Like an obedient child, Mo Ye opened his mouth. Zhou Yu quickly poured the beer inside. Mo Ye face scrunched up and he spat out a mouthful of beer, spraying Zhou Yu all over his face.
Zhou Yu wiped away the beer on his face and looked at Mo Ye.
Mo Ye seemed to be afraid of angering Zhou Yu again, and he scooted back until he reached the edge of the table. He looked up at Zhou Yu with innocent and woeful eyes.
Zhou Yu looked back at him coldly, appearing impassive. All the warmth he had from when he was feeding Mo Ye the watermelon disappeared in his icy countenance.
A dozen seconds later, Zhou Yu was still expressionless.
Mo Ye started to panic, and although he was afraid that Zhou Yu was angry, he slowly inched closer to him anyway, using his nose to nudge Zhou Yu’s shoulder. Zhou Yu ignored him. Mo Ye curled into a ball again, squeezing himself into Zhou Yu’s lap, but Zhou Yu only turned his head to the side.
Mo Ye whimpered in a way that sounded like he was crying.
But Zhou Yu knew Mo Ye, and he knew that Mo Ye was acting pitiful instead of actually crying. Zhou Yu was about to stand up and leave on purpose, knowing that Mo Ye would definitely follow him. Then Mo Ye would rub against his legs, looking very funny.
But he didn’t expect that Mo Ye would pounce and bowl him over.
Zhou Yu’s eyes widened in shock. For a moment he felt like he was being hunted by Mo Ye!
Mo Ye’s body was both graceful and brimming with strength, and as if he was breaking through the boundaries of the world, he charged into Zhou Yu’s horizons.
Zhou Yu thought he was prepared for it, as he had always had abnormally fast reaction times, but this time was different. Mo Ye was stronger than what Zhou Yu could withstand, and he was fiercely pinned down to the floor.
Zhou Yu though his spine would break from the impact, but Mo Ye reached out a wing to wrap it around him so that when he fell, he didn’t feel any pain.
For the first time, Zhou Yu was stunned. He looked into Mo Ye’s eyes until Mo Ye also looked down and used his little tongue to lick him on the lips.
Zhou Yu had a feeling that Mo Ye was being possessive over him.
“Hey! All right, get up, Mo Ye! Get up!” He finally managed to raise a hand and pat Mo Ye on the back.
He realized then that Mo Ye had truly grown up. When his body was fully extended, he looked like a little leopard that was not yet an adult, but no longer a baby.
Mo Ye did not release Zhou Yu. He turned his face to the side and rubbed against Zhou Yu’s cheek, as if he was saying, “Are you still mad at me? If you’re still mad, then I’m not getting up!”
Zhou Yu helplessly shook his head. He rubbed the soft fur on Mo Ye’s back and whispered, “You little dummy, I was teasing you. How could I be mad at you?”
Finally, Mo Ye slowly got off of him. When Mo Ye sat crouching beside Zhou Yu with his wings folded again, Zhou Yu suddenly realized that he had once again formed another connection to this world.
“Okay, okay! Let’s go back!”
When Zhou Yu turned to leave for the dining hall, he found Wu Yun looking at them with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
“Zhou Yu, have you realized that our little Mo Ye is all grown up? He’s no longer the little kid that anyone could bully.” Wu Yun sighed wistfully.
“As long as you know.”
The implication of his words was that Wu Yun bullied Mo Ye much more often than Zhou Yu.
That night, Zhou Yu hugged Mo Ye as they laid down in his capsule room.
“Mo Ye, we’re leaving for someplace else tomorrow…”
Zhou Yu paused. A few seconds later, when Mo Ye did not hear him continue, he used his head to bump Zhou Yu’s chin.
“Okay, okay, the place we’re going to is Night Spirit Island.”
That name didn’t seem to mean anything special to Mo Ye; he merely wore an expression that said “I’m going to play at the park tomorrow” and looked at Zhou Yu with excited eyes. After all, the base was suffocating for Mo Ye.
“Do you know what Night Spirit Island is?”
Mo Ye shook his head, then scratched his face with a paw.
“I’m human, and you’re a night spirit. You’re part of the night spirit race, understand?”
Mo Ye didn’t nod or shake his head, as if he was asking, “And?”
“A long time ago… maybe a thousand or ten thousand years ago, the night spirits died out. But before that, the night spirits were the servants of a powerful S rank organism. Your race served that organism, and it cared for you in return. But for some reason, your entire race died out. We leave for Night Spirit Island tomorrow, and maybe when we get there, you’ll be able to hear the words of your ancestors. They can pass onto you what they once experienced, and you…”
What path will you take then?
Mo Ye was unhappy that Zhou Yu was spacing out again, so he used his paw to lightly pat him on the face.
Snapping out of his daze, Zhou Yu pinched Mo Ye’s face with his fingers. He looked like he was joking, but his tone was serious, “No matter what you hear or see, you have to remember what you want to become. You decide your own fate, understand?”
“Hnn.” Mo Ye looked at Zhou Yu with his large amber eyes.
“Okay, let’s sleep.”
Zhou Yu hugged Mo Ye and laid down. Mo Ye reached out a paw and rested it on Zhou Yu’s face, which Zhou Yu waved off. Mo Ye put his paw back on Zhou Yu’s face and Zhou Yu laughingly brushed it off again. Finally, Mo Ye got mad and turned around to curl into a ball, ignoring Zhou Yu.
“Fine, fine, you’re so cranky. I’ll let you put your paw here, okay?”
Zhou Yu searched for Mo Ye’s little paw and put it on his face. Satisfied, Mo Ye finally turned back around.
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On the morning of the next day, Zhou Yu and the others left the base in a helicopter.
Wu Yun sat facing Zhou Yu.
Wu Yun grimaced, “What if, before we even get to the sea, something…”
“Shut your goddamn mouth.” Zhou Yu had to shut down Wu Yun first before his prophetic tongue could doom them again.
“The helicopter we’re taking this time is different from the previous ones,” a researcher sitting beside Wu Yun said.
“What’s different about it?” asked Wu Yun.
“It’s equipped with sonar. If an airborne creature tries to attack us, then it will be hit with a sound wave capable of rupturing its organs.”
“How come I’ve never heard of this technology before?”
“It’s still being tested.”
“What? Using trial tech during an important assignment like this…? I can only say that…”
Zhou Yu cut him off again. “Shut your goddamn mouth.”
Wu Yun scowled then turned to the researcher beside him. “Are you new? I’ve never seen you around before, what’s your name?”
“You can call me Xiao Chen.”
Xiao Chen and Wu Yun shook hands, but Xiao Chen’s hand paused as it was moving past Zhou Yu because Zhou Yu appeared somewhat serious-looking.
However, Xiao Chen’s eyes were glued to Mo Ye, who was crouched on Zhou Yu’s legs. His eyes reflected both apprehension and curiosity.
It was Mo Ye’s first time riding in a helicopter, and he looked nervous. He kept his head buried the entire time.
Wu Yun thought it was funny and poked Mo Ye’s butt, “Hey, brat, are you getting motion sickness?”
Annoyed, Mo Ye turned to glare at Wu Yun.
Xiao Chen showed an expression of surprise, “T-That’s a night spirit?”
“Yup. Isn’t it ugly-cute?” laughed Wu Yun.
“That’s an A rank organism! If it gets angry, then we’ll all die!” Xiao Chen was terrified.
“What? That little thing’s never been mad before, no matter how much you bully him!” Saying that, Wu Yun went to tug on Mo Ye’s wings.
That really pissed Mo Ye off and he sent a death glare at Wu Yun, posing like he was going to bite him, even though he didn’t show any teeth.
Wu Yun laughed, “Haha! Are you a kitten? You don’t even have teeth yet!”
Zhou Yu was speechless. He was more clear than anyone about whether Mo Ye had teeth or not.
“Bite him,” said Zhou Yu.
Mo Ye actually chomped down on him, and Wu Yun couldn’t shake him off no matter how much it hurt.
As they got deeper into the clouds, the mist slowly dispersed.
Wu Yun glanced off to the side and out the window, trying to make out something outside.
“What is it, Wu Yun?”
“Look… what is that?”
Zhou Yu followed his line of sight and saw something enormous that spiraled upward into the heavens. A stream of water fell from the horizon, forming a huge screen that glistened under the sunlight.
Because it was too far away, they couldn’t see it clearly.
But no matter what it was, it was a more spectacular sight than the tower of Babylon.
“Yeah, what is that?” Xiao Chen squinted to see better.
Countless possibilities flashed by Zhou Yu’s mind; he could feel an overwhelming sense of something holy and reverent from Elpis’s memories.
“That’s the first ancestor of all plants, Ymir. A land-based S rank organism,” said Zhou Yu.
“What did you say… the first ancestor? How come I’ve never heard of it in the research center?” Xiao Chen looked confused.
“Of course you’ve never heard of it… You’ve never even seen it before.”
Ymir went back hundreds of millions of years in the history of Nibelungen. It was certain that it was capable of mimicry.
Since it could disguise itself, it didn’t need to take on a form like the towering tree reaching into the skies. It could change itself into a leaf, or an unremarkable E rank organism. It could be hiding in some corner, secretly observing the humans trespassing in Nibelungen.
When their helicopter turned at an angle, the colossal tree vanished.
Xiao Chen shook his head, “That’s not the progenitor of some organism. I bet that it was a natural phenomenon, like tornados. The organisms of Nibelungen are intelligent and long-lived, but it should be impossible for them to be as old as the sky.”
Zhou Yu didn’t continue the topic because he knew that a normal human being who had not seen the world through Elpis’s eyes would not believe his words.
As for why the first ancestor Ymir would appear in front of them, that was another question.
The helicopter left dry land and gradually, the dark blue hues of the sea replaced the space below them.
The sound of the sea came in waves, exciting the researchers in the helicopter.
“I’ve never seen such a beautiful sight before in our original world!”
Wu Yun shook his head, “Another noob.”
“What?” Xiao Chen was displeased with Wu Yun’s description.
“The more beautiful something is, the more dangerous they are. The sea is the same,” answered Zhou Yu.
While they flew further out into the sea, the helicopter also increased its altitude.
Suddenly, there was a disturbance on the surface of the water. A humongous creature with the head of a snake and the tail of a fish leaped out, straight at their helicopter.
“Ahh—” Xiao Chen screamed in fear.
In contrast, Wu Yun and Zhou Yu appeared calm, and Mo Ye was even perched against the window—his little face squished against the glass almost to the point of bursting—wanting to take a good look at the organism.
Its size left them speechless.
“That’s… almost the size of an aircraft carrier!”
There were countless fins growing on both sides of the creature. It fell back down at an altitude a few dozen meters shy of the helicopter, creating a giant splash.
“I-Is it trying to eat us?” Xiao Chen was terrified, “Can we go higher?”
“This is the highest the helicopter can go to. And that’s only a D rank organism,” Zhou Yu calmly replied.
“D rank? You’re kidding! It’s huge!”
“It didn’t jump out of the water to eat us, but to soak up sunlight,” answered Zhou Yu.
“Sunlight activates a vital chemical process in its body to help it absorb nutrients. In reality, as long as we don’t fall into the sea, then the only danger we’ll face here are from winged creatures,” said Zhou Yu.
“Wait, how do you know all this information that I’ve never even heard of before?” Xiao Chen was confused.
“You should read over Juli Corp’s database on the organisms of Nibelungen carefully when we get back.”
If we get a chance to make it back alive.
The helicopter flew for a long time, and it really did encounter several attacks from winged predators during that time.
Fortunately, the sonar system worked as well as it did in theory, and it protected them each time.
After over an hour of flying, they were able to spot a verdant island far off in the distance. It looked like a piece of jade floating above the water’s surface.
“That’s Night Spirit Island,” said Zhou Yu. Mo Ye leaned against the window to see.
The helicopter found a level surface on the island to land.
While they were looking down from above, they noticed that vegetation on the island was especially lush, yet there were no night spirit remains to be found.
Zhou Yu stepped out of the helicopter, and Mo Ye hopped out to follow him.
The captain of team alpha was speaking to the escort team, “It’s very dangerous here, everyone must be careful…”
Before he could finish his words, a giant insect on the tree behind him opened its mouth and bit down on him.
“Ah—!” Xiao Chen had never seen anything like that before. Zhou Yu immediately covered his mouth.
The other members of team alpha whipped out their guns, shooting it without any second thoughts.
The insect’s shell was quickly shattered, and a stream of pus oozed out all over the ground.
When the insect stood up, it appeared exactly like a tree, which was why the captain of team alpha did not notice it.
The team members wrenched open the giant insect’s jaws and dragged out their captain from within, confirming that he had already died.
Wu Yun had his face pressed in his palms: “He was a seasoned veteran too… And he died all because of a bug, what the hell?”
Zhou Yu looked up and carefully observed his surroundings with narrowed eyes. The insect was known as the “tree-shaped insect.”It hunted based on its prey’s level of fear, but the only reason why it attacked the captain of team alpha so suddenly was that it had its larvae deposited nearby. During the period of time immediately after a mother tree-shaped insect laid its eggs, it will attack anything that invades its space.
“Be careful, everyone, there may be insect larvae nearby,” Zhou Yu cautioned them.
Wu Yun walked up to Zhou Yu and they stood back-to-back, each protecting the other.
“Where are the remains of the night spirit that the researcher found here?” Wu Yun asked Xiao Chen.
Xiao Chen pointed to the other side of the forest: “It’s buried under the sand at the center of the island.”
“Then get in the helicopter, we’re leaving.” Wu Yun’s head was swimming. The whole plan was a mess; they should have landed at the center of the island!
To avoid being attacked by the tree-shaped insects, they quickly got back in the helicopter.
Just as the helicopter rose into the air, it suddenly started shaking.
Wu Yun helplessly knocked on the pilot’s seat, “Hey… Are you asleep or what…?”
Before Wu Yun could finish his words, the pilot collapsed to the side.
There was a miniature tree-shaped insect on his neck, trying to drill its way inside.
Researcher Xiao Chen was scared out of his wits.
The helicopter was about to crash right before their eyes, but luckily, Zhou Yu stepped up to steady its path.
“Jesus! You know how to pilot a helicopter too?!” Wu Yun looked at Zhou Yu with worshipping eyes.
“Why don’t you hurry up and take care of the tree-shaped insect?!”Zhou Yu glared at him.
Wu Yun immediately unsheathed the dagger at his waist and carefully flicked away the insect from the pilot’s neck and out the window. He felt the pilot’s pulse and found that he was still alive. However, the spot where he had been bitten by the insect did not stop bleeding. Wu Yun started wrapping him with the staunching bandages he carried on him.
“If only this assignment could be over sooner, then he might still be saved.”
“I’m afraid it won’t be that easy.” Zhou Yu glanced at the mass of pure white sand outside the window, then sent out an announcement to team alpha, “Pay attention, team alpha, they may be string sandworms in the sand, please be careful!”
“String sandworms? How do you know they’re in the sand?” Xiao Chen was dying of curiosity, and Zhou Yu seemed to know everything.
“You’ll know more if you’ve seen more.”
What he had “seen more” of were the things that Elpis had let him see.
After the helicopter landed, Zhou Yu had Wu Yun and Xiao Chen wait inside the cabin instead of leaving. The string sandworm was very sensitive to vibrations, and they probably became aware of their presence the moment the helicopter arrived in the area.
But the members of team alpha grew impatient. After all, if they could bring back the remains of a night spirit, then they would be able to gain unimaginable riches enough to trade their lives for.
“Hey, aren’t you going to stop them?” asked Wu Yun.
“I’ve already warned them, once they leave the cabin, I don’t know what else I can do to stop them,” Zhou Yu coldly said.
Just as four of the team members got out of the helicopter armed with guns, a sand dune suddenly started to undulate like a continuous wave.
They fired their guns and the bullets sank into the sand, but the white sand was moving too quickly and came near them in the blink of an eye.
Within the sand, a giant python-like organism slithered out, and with a sweep of its tail, two team members flew out. They fell somewhere far away, one right onto the glass window in front of Zhou Yu, causing a loud bang.
The string sandworm opened its mouth wide enough to swallow half the helicopter.
Mo Ye, who had been sticking his face out to watch, now shrunk his head back subconsciously.
Xiao Chen paled in fear, “T-That’s a worm?!”
“That’s a string sandworm, they’re a species that goes back to ancient times in Nibelungen. Even back in our world, the worms were also pretty large back then.”
Xiao Chen was left speechless.
Zhou Yu’s expression grew grave, “When you get back, tell Song Zhi to stop sending people who can’t listen to orders with us!”
“What do we do? Give up the assignment and go back to base?”
In Wu Yun’s opinion, team alpha’s complete annihilation was reasonable grounds for them to abandon the mission.
“Don’t forget, we still have the sonar strikes.”
The sandworm sprang up to twist their way with its mouth wide open. Zhou Yu could even make out the anatomy of its oral cavity.
Zhou Yu pressed a button, sending out the sound wave.
An invisible vibration rippled out in the air, and a powerful force ruthlessly threw back the sandworm. It fell onto the white sand.
Wu Yun let out a sigh of relief, “Goddamn… can you stop playing risky games, kid?!”
Like opening the car door and shooting a two-headed wolf spider.
“I know what I’m doing, it’s not risky,” answered Zhou Yu.
For a short while, everything was peaceful.
Wu Yun asked, “Can we get off now?”
Just as he touched the cabin door, Mo Ye scampered down and bit his arm.
“Wait a bit longer… As I recall, string sandworms live in family units.”
Just then, Mo Ye’s ears straightened up.
Zhou Yu swiveled around the machine gun and let out a series of rapid gunfire.