Chapter 44: Infection
Zhou Yu stroked Mo Ye’s head and said, “That’s how humans are—extremely fragile. For example, if I get shot in the head, I’ll die instantly. If I get shot in the heart, I’ll also die very quickly. In the femoral artery… even with an experienced surgeon around, my chances of survival are slim. That’s the difference between humans and you.”
Even though his healing ability had improved beyond that of an ordinary person’s because of the S rank organism, the ability may not exist forever and could disappear with the metabolic processes of his body. In any case, he was still far too fragile compared to Mo Ye.
Mo Ye stepped back and withdrew into Zhou Yu’s arms.
Mo Ye, do you know what it means to be “heartbroken”?
Being “heartbroken” and “hurting” were different.
Mo Ye, like many creatures in Nibelungen, you have a strong healing ability, and nothing can really ‘hurt’ you.
But if something you cared about disappeared right now, you’d be heartbroken.
A broken heart can’t be healed.
“Hnn…” Mo Ye hummed softly.
Zhou Yu paused. Why did he feel like Mo Ye heard what he was thinking?
In the following days, Zhou Yu didn’t go on any missions. He frequently took Mo Ye out for a spin around the base in a Hummer. The expanse of the desert stretched on everywhere they went, but Mo Ye was quite content just playing with the sand.
Only until the sun rose completely and it became too hot did Zhou Yu wave his hat to signal for Mo Ye to go back with him.
Mo Ye’s wings and ears, which had been wiggling before, would droop in response.
Zhou Yu drove the car and laughed while rubbing Mo Ye’s head. “What’s wrong? I’ll feed you some watermelon when we get back?”
Mo Ye continued to stay there and ignore Zhou Yu.
It was because Zhou Yu had promised to teach Han Li how to shoot.
Once they were in the shooting range, Zhou Yu concentrated on teaching Han Li step-by-step. Behind them, Mo Ye was given the cold shoulder.
He sat there in a bad mood and stared at Zhou Yu’s back.
“Han Li, pay attention to your center of gravity.”
Although Zhou Yu got close to Han Li, he never touched her except during demonstrations. That was why Han Li had chosen Zhou Yu as her shooting instructor. In a base with more men than women, it was unavoidable for female doctors like Han Li to stir up trouble if they got too close to the opposite sex.
But Zhou Yu was different. He possessed restraint and the principles of a real gentleman.
That was where Han Li trusted him the most.
Han Li fired several shots. They weren’t very good in the beginning. Mo Ye yawned from behind them and even grabbed at Zhou Yu’s calf with his claws. Zhou Yu didn’t turn back, but he raised his heel and rubbed it against Mo Ye’s chin.
Han Li looked down and couldn’t help smiling. “Zhou Yu, if you keep staying with Mo Ye all the time, I think you can forget about getting a wife.”
Mo Ye bumped into Zhou Yu’s back with his head. Zhou Yu knew that it would be impossible for him to continue teaching Han Li how to shoot today.
“You class wrecker.” Zhou Yu lowered himself down to pick up Mo Ye by his ear.
Mo Ye pretended to be in pain and whimpered, scratching at Zhou Yu’s arm with his front paws.
“Keep pretending! Let’s see how long you can keep it up!”
It was easy for Mo Ye to break away from Zhou Yu with his strength.
Just then, the intercom in Zhou Qing’s lab sounded.
“Hello, I’m Chen Ruoshui from the marine biology research department. I have some ideas regarding Nibelungen’s marine vegetation that I would like to discuss with Professor Zhou.”
Zhou Qing had long heard of the renowned Professor Chen Ruoshui before, and a feeling of surprise welled up in his heart. He immediately opened the first set of doors and went to greet him together with his research assistant, Xiao Wen.
Just as the second set of doors opened, and before Zhou Qing could say hello, Professor Chen slumped onto Xiao Wen and started convulsing, his body temperature running very high.
“Professor Chen! What’s wrong, Professor Chen?!”
Xiao Wen touched Professor Chen’s forehead and was appalled by the temperature. “Professor Zhou! Professor Chen has a fever! It’s serious!”
“What?” Zhou Qing was shocked. Professor Chen’s voice had sounded perfectly normal through the intercom. How could he have a fever?
Zhou Qing immediately contacted the medical team and sent Professor Chen away.
He stood there with a foreboding feeling of what had yet to come.
In the shooting range, Han Li’s intercom buzzed. The medical team required her to rush to the emergency room, immediately.
“It looks like I won’t be able to catch a break today.” Han Li returned the gun to Zhou Yu and left in a hurry.
Professor Chen’s treatment did not go well. At first, the medical team thought that it was just a simple fever, but with the rapid deterioration of his condition, Professor Chen developed visceral hemorrhaging as well as muscular atrophy and decay.
Han Li, who was in charge of the emergency resuscitation, was on alert. “It can’t be a simple fever! This is symptomatic of a hemorrhagic fever! “
“Don’t tell me… Ebola exists in Nibelungen too?”
“Everything is possible!”
Professor Chen’s blood samples were sent to the laboratory for virus testing. After testing, it was found that Professor Chen’s blood actually did contain a certain virus. But more importantly, its infectivity was unknown and its replication rate was very high.
The test results had not yet been sent to Han Li. Professor Chen suffered from respiratory failure and passed away under extreme pain. His entire body seemed to melt into a pool of blood, creating a grisly scene.
Han Li’s back was soaked with sweat and her heart pounded heavily. She made a snap decision. “All medical staff involved in the rescue and those who had contact with Professor Chen will be isolated!”
The base issued a red alarm, requiring all personnel to stay in their own rooms and forbidding anyone to walk around.
Li Qian closed down all the nodes in the base and placed the departments in lockdown mode.
Zhou Qing was trapped in his lab and his researchers were all very nervous because they had gone up to take care of Professor Chen when he collapsed. No one could be sure when Professor Chen had been infected and who had been in contact with him before the infection. Because of that, the researchers were all sitting in their own corners, neither speaking nor communicating with each other, especially since there was no way to determine how the virus had spread.
Zhou Yu and Mo Ye had just returned to their room. Mo Ye was hearing the red alarm for the first time. He straightened out his back and nudged the flashing alarm with his nose, looking curious.
Currently, most people were still unaware of what was happening in the base.
Zhou Yu called Song Zhi’s room. “Mr. Song, excuse me, but what happened? Are dangerous organisms invading the base? “
Song Zhi didn’t hide anything from Zhou Yu and replied honestly, “It’s worse than that. The researchers in the base have been infected by an unknown virus. We are now testing the virus in an attempt to identify the pathogen. We will prepare antibodies if possible, but in the short term, the situation is not looking optimistic.”
Everything had happened too suddenly. For Zhou Yu, he had been playing in the base with Mo Ye one moment, and then everything changed the next.
“Is my brother Zhou Qing okay?”
“Professor Zhou has not shown any signs of infection yet.”
Zhou Yu was somewhat relieved upon hearing Song Zhi’s answer. He didn’t know how long it would take to wait. And when will they lift the lockdown? It didn’t matter if they were shut in for just one day, but if it stretched on to two or three days, then they would all die without food or water supplies.
Zhou Yu turned Mo Ye around and shook him while holding him. “Do you know what a virus is?”
Mo Ye looked at Zhou Yu with his large eyes, the same as usual. Suddenly, he pushed Zhou Yu down, forcing him to fall onto the bed. Two small claws grasped Zhou Yu’s shoulders and Mo Ye rubbed the tip of Zhou Yu’s nose with his own. He stuck out his tongue to lick Zhou Yu’s mouth, but Zhou Yu quickly turned his face away to avoid it.
“You’re the only one who’s carefree at this time, you little thing.” Zhou Yu shook his head helplessly.
Mo Ye had grown a lot. His two hind legs were clinging onto both sides of Zhou Yu’s waist and he was half-sitting on Zhou Yu’s body.
Zhou Yu patted his back and said in a low voice, “Okay, okay, get up. You’re heavy.”
Mo Ye instantly became unhappy. He didn’t move and even deliberately increased his weight on Zhou Yu, as if to say: You’re lying, I’m not heavy at all, I’m going to punish you.
Zhou Yu simply stopped moving and let Mo Ye rest on himself. He sighed, “It seems like viruses aren’t something exclusive to my world…”
Mo Ye leaned down and stuck his face to Zhou Yu’s cheek.
Such warmth and intimacy made Zhou Yu, who was worried about Zhou Qing, feel a little more relaxed.
At this time, Song Zhi received a report from Han Li. The situation was critical. The two medical staff members involved in rescuing Professor Chen had symptoms of high fever, body ulceration, and internal bleeding.
Han Li’s voice trembled as she spoke to Song Zhi, “Mr. Song, I also had direct contact with Professor Chen. I don’t think I can make it through this time…”
“Please don’t be overly pessimistic. Even in the worst-case scenario, if something really happened to you in here, then Juli Corp will fulfill all the promises made to you.” Song Zhi’s voice sounded calm, but his head was halfway tilted up as he tried to suppress his nervous breathing.
“Thank you!” Han Li’s tears fell.
When their connection broke off, Song Zhi pulled opened a drawer with his eyes closed and put his hand inside as if he wanted to touch something. But in the end, he took his hand back.
Meanwhile, Li Qian, who was trapped in the control room, witnessed everything from the surveillance footage. He saw how Professor Chen had died and how the infected medical staff had struggled in pain.
But even so, Han Li stood strong as she put on protective clothing to treat the infected medical staff as best as she could and accompany them in their final moments before death.
During this period, Han Li was prepared to hear news of the worst possible outcome. Her recent health had not been very good. She has a cough and a cold, as well as a weakened immune system. Although she had been far away from the researcher being saved, she knew that the virus was most likely airborne. The chance that she wasn’t affected already was low.
The infected medical staff died one after another until Han Li was the only one left in the department. She simply took off her isolation suit, retrieved a bottle of nutrient drink from the refrigerator, and gulped down two mouthfuls before sliding down against the wall.
There was dead silence in the emergency room. Except for Li Qian, who accompanied Han Li through the surveillance camera, there was no one else present.
“Hey! Let’s have Li Qian sing a song!” Han Li shouted as she closed her eyes and slapped the ground wearily with her hands.
Soon, Li Qian’s tone-deaf voice came through the broadcast.
Han Li laughed, “Good Heavens, I can’t remember what the original tune of that song sounds like anymore after you sang it!”
When Li Qian finished singing, Han Li hugged her knees and started to cry.
“I want to live, I really want to live!”
Li Qian couldn’t say a single word of comfort. He could only share her misery from the control room.
Meanwhile, Xiao Wen, the research assistant who had been in the same room with Zhou Qing, was lying on the table, moaning. His body looked scalding hot, his white lab coat was drenched in sweat, and his ears were bleeding.
The researchers fell into a panic. They all pressed against the wall, far away from Xiao Wen.
“He’s the only one among us who had direct contact with Professor Chen! He must be infected!”
Zhou Qing gulped. Just as he was about to step forward, another researcher said, “Professor Zhou, be careful!”
At that moment, Xiao Wen fell to the ground, his body paralyzed like a pool of stagnant water. There was a faint odor of decay in the air. His eyes, nose, and ears were all bleeding, and his pale face was twisted in pain.
The researchers fell into a state of uncontrollable turmoil, the desire to survive compelling them to rush up to the double doors and furiously pound on them while shouting, “Let us out! Let us out!”
But Li Qian, who controlled the system, was currently tracking what Professor Chen, the first to have a disease, had touched throughout the day.
According to Han Li’s calculations, no more than three hours had passed from the onset of high fever symptoms to Professor Chen’s death. The medical staff who rescued him had only two hours of contact with him before experiencing high fevers, which meant that the incubation period of the virus from infection to onset was not that long.
Professor Chen seemed normal going to breakfast and entering his lab, so Li Qian pulled out the footage of the inside of his lab.
In his lab, there was a marine organism that resembled a jellyfish, but with a different appearance than a common jellyfish. It was in the shape of a golden veil, and it danced gracefully in the nutrient solution, with some kind of synapse running along its surface. The synapse was emitting a strange biological electric transmission that made those who touched it feel happy and gratified.
This jellyfish had a very simple name—the Nibelungen jellyfish. It could survive in freshwater and saltwater. But more importantly, in the absence of water, it could still stretch its body out like an umbrella in anticipation of its prey. But its usual prey were small insects or aquatic creatures, which were not deadly at all.
Li Qian saw Professor Chen put his finger into a vessel containing the Nibelungen jellyfish. When the jellyfish gently stroked him with an electric pulse, his face looked like he was yearning for something, as if he’d become addicted.
After more than a dozen seconds, he finally took his finger back, then subconsciously put it in his mouth. He continued his observation and research. Then he left the lab and took some materials with him to Zhou Qing’s lab.
Li Qian reported the news to Song Zhi as if he’d discovered a new continent.
The base’s virology team quickly headed into the lab, fully equipped, and took samples of the Nibelungen jellyfish. On the same day, they found that the jellyfish was carrying a virus. The virus was first transmitted through contact, but after entering the human body, it could quickly mutate and adapt to its new environment, until it was able to spread through the air.
Meanwhile, Zhou Qing watched as all the researchers around him began to show signs of a fever, and thus a viral infection. They fell down around him and struggled to open the doors. Only Zhou Qing was still standing; the hellish scene seemed very much removed from him.
His thoughts were a mess and he didn’t know where to put his feet.
When will he fall too?
When will his fever begin?
What would it feel like to experience visceral hemorrhaging?
Fear slowly bubbled up in Zhou Qing’s thoughts.
“Don’t be afraid…” A voice that seeped through the dust and mist emerged in his mind.
Zhou Qing instinctively looked around.
“You will not be infected with the virus.”
The gentle voice soothed Zhou Qing’s tensed nerves.
“Then… Help them… Please help them… ” Zhou Qing prayed.
He knew the S rank organism who had saved him was somewhere out there. They knew everything, and understood everything.
“I cannot. You will not be infected because you are special, not because of me.”
“Special? What’s special about me?”
More than a dozen seconds passed, but Zhou Qing did not receive an answer.
Li Qian watched Zhou Qing on the screen as he stood in the center of the lab talking to himself. He looked like he was about to have a mental breakdown. He begged Song Zhi anxiously, “Mr. Song, please let Professor Zhou out, before he gets infected!”
Song Zhi frowned. “Do you mean Professor Zhou is still unaffected? What about the others who were in the same lab as him?”
“T-They’ve all collapsed!”
Song Zhi clasped his hands together and showed a puzzled expression. “That’s impossible! If everyone else is dead, then why is Zhou Qing still alive? And Han Li? How is Han Li doing?”
“Han Li is fine for the time being. She drank a few bottles of nutrient drink and cried a lot. Now she is asleep.”
Song Zhi narrowed his eyes and thought it over for a moment. “Send the medical team to take them out and observe them in isolation.”
Hearing this, Li Qian could finally be at ease. He really couldn’t bear to let Han Li and Professor Zhou be trapped in such an environment where their spirit and willpower were completely whittled away.
Just as Zhou Yu and Mo Ye grew bored and were lying on the bed playing together, Song Zhi’s voice rang out from the communication device above his head. “Open your door and put on the isolation suit outside, then come to Zone 9.”
Zhou Yu instantly got up without a word. Following Song Zhi’s instructions, he put on the suit. Mo Ye wanted to go with him, but Zhou Yu reached out and pressed Mo Ye’s head back into the room.
Zhou Yu knelt down in front of him and said to him in a very serious voice, “Mo Ye, I don’t know if the virus will affect you, so you can’t go out. Be good and stay in my room, okay?”
Mo Ye had thought that he could go out with Zhou Yu. Instantly, his excited expression became a lonely one. He looked at Zhou Yu with imploring eyes, but Zhou Yu shook his head.
Mo Ye had no choice but to lower his head and step back a little. Zhou Yu looked at him, then closed the door. He put his palm on the door and whispered, “Good boy, I’ll be back.”
Zhou Yu turned and walked away quickly. When he got to Zone 9, he saw Song Zhi standing in front of the isolation ward in protective clothing and stopped before him.
It was because it was none other than his brother, Zhou Qing, in the isolation ward. Zhou Qing was clearly panicked and disoriented. He sat on the bed waiting for the medical staff in protective clothing to take his blood for various tests.
“Mr. Song, didn’t you just say that my brother wasn’t infected?” Zhou Yu asked.
“He hasn’t collapsed, even though all his research assistants were infected with the virus and have died. Should I have told you that he was infected? What we want to know the most right now is how, in the same enclosed area, were all his research assistants infected with the same virus while Professor Zhou remained unharmed. Does he already have antibodies against the virus in his blood? If so, then our entire base will be saved.”
Zhou Qing seemed to catch sight of Zhou Yu. He looked over and gave him a hard smile. Zhou Yu knew that Zhou Qing was much stronger than he imagined.
But the results of the blood test were baffling; Zhou Qing did not have any antibodies of the virus in his body, nor did he have the virus. The same went for Han Li, who was also being kept in isolation.
And was near impossible for the virologists in the base to decode the virus in such a short period of time.
Song Zhi put everything they knew about the virus together in a package and sent the information off to another world. “If only Jiang Jinghang was here.”
“Jiang Jinghang?” Zhou Yu thought the name sounded familiar, but he couldn’t recall why.
“Juli Corp’s top-ranking virologist.” Song Zhi answered.
“Right now, I suddenly feel like it might be safer outside.” Li Qian exclaimed, sitting in front of his computer.
“Zhou Yu, the organism carrying the virus is the Nibelung jellyfish, the same one that you’ve seen before. I want to know if you have any information on this organism from Elpis.” Song Zhi looked at Zhou Yu.