Chapter 49: Breaking out
The young man smiled. His smile was the most beautiful thing Doctor Lin had ever seen in Nibelungen, but it contained a hint of something fatal and dangerous.
She couldn’t look away. His amber eyes were all-encompassing waves of crystal clear seawater that blotted out the sky before falling back down.
Doctor Lin opened her mouth, but she was speechless.
The guard behind her whimpered and could barely hold back from ejecting the bone gnawer.
Zhou Yu took this time to quickly move to the other side of the guard. Even at such a precarious angle, he shot and hit the guard with a loud bang.
When the gunshot sounded, Doctor Lin whipped around. She stared, wide-eyed, as her tears started to well up.
In that second, her grief was real.
The guard fell to the ground with a bullet hole through his head. His eyes and mouth were wide open; the bone gnawer had managed to extend itself outside by two centimeters before rupturing.
The young man snapped and said with a smile, “You’re sad… because those worms are the ‘children’ you worked hard to raise, am I right?”
What…? They had been raised by Doctor Lin?
Zhou Yu frowned and turned to point the gun at Doctor Lin.
Doctor Lin stared unflinchingly at Zhou Yu, her gaze seething with hate. She bit down on her lips as if she was tearing him apart.
“You killed them… You killed them…”
Doctor Lin completely ignored the gun in Zhou Yu’s hands and started to stand up. However, the young man casually leaned over to sit on her desk and press her back into the chair with one hand.
“Doctor Lin… They’re just bone gnawing worms. Even though you raised them, they’re not your children. They only see you as a source of food.”
“Do you really think of the bone gnawing worms as your children?” Zhou Yu’s voice was even more frigid, his gaze almost enough to freeze Doctor Lin’s breaths.
They were in a special environment that was both dangerous and lonely. It could force the mind into desperate places.
If Doctor Lin had really thought of the worms as her own children, then Zhou Yu would find it surprising, but not inconceivable.
“Life in the observation station is boring, isn’t it? You started off observing dangerous organisms with the other researchers.” The young man left the table and came to a corner of the lab. He pressed a button on the wall and it slowly sank down, revealing another organism breeding room.
Through the glass, the translucent eggs of countless bone gnawing worms could be seen. Some larvae that had not yet been incubated were sluggishly twitching in the eggs, soon to break out from within them.
In the organism breeding room, there were also the remains of many other creatures, most likely having once been used for nourishment for the newly hatched larvae.
With his gun in hand, Zhou Yu drew in a breath. There were so many bone gnawing worms; this was not something that had developed over the span of just a day or two, or even months!
“What are you planning on doing?!” Doctor Lin got up nervously, but Zhou Yu fired at her desk.
“Don’t move! The first shot is a warning, the next one will blow your head off!” Zhou Yu said icily.
The young man went back to Doctor Lin’s desk and fiddled with the teacup that was on it. “From simple observation, to watching them hatch from their eggs like newborns, one by one, searching for food… The other researchers would perfunctorily drop off the creatures they caught in Nibelungen, record the incubation time, study their habits, food consumption, and maturity cycle, but you developed different feelings. You feel as if you’re raising them, like a mother bringing food to her children.”
“You don’t know how it feels… They need me… They call out to me when they’re hungry! I’m connected to them!” Doctor Lin’s face warped to show a deranged and obsessed expression.
“They need you because they sensed your abnormal feelings for them. The so-called ‘connection’ you share is being used by them.” Zhou Yu replied.
“What are you talking about?! People like you don’t understand!” Doctor Lin reached out to pull Zhou Yu’s arm, but the young man pushed her back.
“You don’t deserve to touch him.” The young man’s expression was ice cold.
Doctor Lin started struggling, but the young man easily crushed her wrist with his hand.
“Ah—” Doctor Lin cried out in pain.
“Your colleagues thought that further research on the bone gnawing worms was no longer meaningful. They reported to Juli Corp that they wanted to stop the research on the bone gnawing worms and ‘clean’ them up. That’s when you went crazy. One by one, you lured them into traps you set and made them into nourishment for the bone gnawing worms. Just when you started worrying about the lack of food, you received notice from Mr. Song that a large party of people was to be transferred here. You were overjoyed because you’d found plenty of food for your children. What a pity—to the worms, you’re no different from their food.”
The young man sneered.
Zhou Yu knew that as an S rank organism of Nibelungen, he had abilities beyond that of an ordinary organism, for example… he may have figured out everything about Doctor Lin a long time ago.
“You don’t understand! You don’t understand!” Doctor Lin cried out hysterically. She charged at the young man.
The young man easily grabbed her by the neck, but Doctor Lin flailed her hands around and slapped him on the shoulder.
Instantly, those eyes that had once mesmerized Doctor Lin became obscured in the gloom of death.
“If they really loved you, then they wouldn’t have let you do anything dangerous for them. When your life was at stake, they should have stood in front of you, not behind you.”
The young man chuckled and forced Doctor Lin to walk backwards, each step bringing her closer to the glass wall of the breeding room. Doctor Lin struggled every step of the way.
Zhou Yu was frozen in shock… The young man spoke as if he fully understood why human beings protected the ones they loved. How was that possible?
“That’s bullshit! They love me! They wouldn’t be here without me! They love me!”
“Then let’s test it out to see if they truly love you.”
With a smile, the young man used his left hand to lightly tap a finger on the glass wall, which formed a crack.
“What are you doing?” Zhou Yu’s eyes got wide as it clicked for him.
But just as he took the first step forward, the young man pushed Doctor Lin into the breeding room from the crack in the glass wall.
Instantly, the bone gnawing worms that had been curled up in their egg sacs came swarming out. Zhou Yu’s pupils dilated at the horrific scene.
They were so ravenous that they bore into Doctor Lin’s body and crushed her bones then crunched on them.
Just when Doctor Lin was about to scream from the agony, Zhou Yu found that he could not hear anything and that his eyes had been covered by the young man’s hands.
“Why do you do that?” Zhou Yu asked.
“To have her stop lying to herself and face reality.” The young man’s voice rang out in Zhou Yu’s mind.
It was like they were in an imaginary world just between the two of them. In reality, Doctor Lin was being eaten alive by the bone gnawers and struggling in torment.
Zhou Yu knew that it was too late to help her. There was no need to try and save Doctor Lin, who was already beyond saving.
The cruelty of the young man reminded Zhou Yu of the last of the three laws.
“Zhou Yu, just like humans, I have no need to be kind and compassionate to the whole world. Zhou Yu, remember—focus on the people who are important to you, but be ruthless to those who hurt you. That is the real law of survival in Nibelungen.”
When the young man moved his hands away, what Zhou Yu was looking into his eyes that seemed to encompass the whole world.
When the isolated world faded away, he heard movement from the bone gnawing worms.
A large mass of bone gnawing worms rushed out of the breeding room and at the young man’s back.
They were unsatisfied. They wanted more subsistence.
The young man was still smiling carelessly. He gently tapped Zhou Yu’s nose. Thinking of when he had shattered the glass wall, Zhou Yu instinctively flinched. But when the young man’s fingertip touched him, he felt fervent passion flare up inside of him, almost swallowing him whole yet also restraining him to his limit.
Time became static, then all the bone gnawing worms behind the young man burst open, splattering everywhere without leaving a single drop of blood on Zhou Yu.
An alarm suddenly sounded in the observation station, breaking Zhou Yu out of his trance.
Turning around, he saw a red warning sign on the computer screen Doctor Lin had been using. He immediately pulled the young man closer to him.
“Let’s go—Doctor Lin linked the station’s self-destruct code to her own vital signs! A tracker on her body transmitted her heart rate and pulse data to the station’s system. Once her heart rate falls to zero, the station will start to self destruct!”
The young man was brought into a run by Zhou Yu. He looked after the back of Zhou Yu’s head and said with a smile, “Doctor Lin really did make up her mind to live and die with her babies…”
Meanwhile, Wu Yun had blasted open the door to a laboratory. Li Qian successfully hacked into the system and opened the exit of the observation station. The others in the dining hall were in an emergency evacuation.
Wu Yun picked up the radio transceiver. “Zhou Yu! Where are you, Zhou Yu?! I’ll go find you!”
Suddenly, there was an explosion, and the whole station starting shaking violently.
Zhou Yu almost fell down, but he managed to stabilize his body. “I’m almost out! Don’t come back to look back for me! Take Zhou Qing and Li Qian and leave—”
Li Qian quickly opened up all the hallway nodes.
“Brother—I’m not going anywhere without you!” Zhou Qing grabbed Wu Yun’s radio transceiver and shouted.
“Don’t make more trouble for me!” Zhou Yu roared. “Wu Yun, take him away even if you have to hit his head! Otherwise I’ll never forgive you!”
Wu Yun clenched his teeth, then raised his hand and chopped down on Zhou Qing’s nape. Zhou Qing crumpled and was caught by Li Qian.
Li Qian looked at Wu Yu, who replied, “You know how important Zhou Qing is to Zhou Yu.”
Li Qian could see how pained he was through his eyes.
“I’m sorry…” Li Qian felt guilty.
Wu Yun hauled Zhou Qing up over his shoulder. “What are you sorry for? We would have all died without you!”
“If we weren’t here… you could have gone back for Zhou Yu…”
“Yeah right! Just focus on running faster—maybe then I’ll have time left over to go back for Zhou Yu!”
Just then, a series of explosions went off and their surroundings started to collapse, making their ears buzz.
Li Qian was almost hit by objects several times, but Wu Yun dragged him away. Carrying Zhou Qing and leading Li Qian, Wu Yun clenched his jaw and kept running.
Zhou Yu was running while avoiding the falling pieces. There was another explosion and the ground protruded up, then collapsed back down.
Zhou Yu felt something give him a hard push on the back. Then everything behind him sank into the ground.
“Goodbye, Zhou Yu.”
When Zhou Yu turned back around, he found that everything behind him was now blocked up. Did the young man get trapped? Or…
His brain instantly blanked out.
“Don’t look back, keep running.”
The voice echoed again in his mind and Zhou Yu’s thoughts returned to him in a flash. He was an S rank organism; it was impossible for him to die that easily.
Zhou Yu recovered his composure and kept running hard.
Before he could reach the outside extension of the observation station, the entire area above his head collapsed!
Zhou Yu experienced what it was like to have the whole world topple over, but he was too small and powerless in front of it all.
After falling and climbing back up again many times, Zhou Yu squeezed out of a space that was nearly impossible to pass through with the wreckage fallen on top.
He wanted to live… He couldn’t die here!
Seeing that the entire passageway was about to collapse on top of him and drown out the last bit of light, Zhou Yu could no longer support himself and was about to fall. Then he heard a boom as something broke through the collapsed wall to come to Zhou Yu.
Something opened up and shielded Zhou Yu’s head, propping up the remaining space that was rapidly shrinking from the added weight.
Zhou Yu looked up straight into Mo Ye’s eyes.
“Hnn…” Mo Ye shook his head, throwing off dust.
The destruction and explosions continued; they were in danger of being buried alive at any given moment.
“Mo Ye… Why are you here…?” Zhou Yu felt like he was dreaming.
Mo Ye rubbed Zhou Yu with the tip of his nose and continued supporting their cover. He turned around and faced Zhou Yu with his back.
Zhou Yu immediately understood his meaning and climbed up to hug his neck. He knew that Mo Ye was really strong, but he wasn’t sure how Mo Ye was going to get them outside.
When Zhou Yu pressed his face into Mo Ye’s back, he felt its softness and warmth. It didn’t seem like the impending doom of the outside world mattered anymore.
He could almost feel the blood flowing through Mo Ye’s body, the rhythm of his breathing, and how he tensed his muscles.
“It’s great that you’re here…” Zhou Yu said softly.
He thought he would be trapped under there, alone, but Mo Ye had arrived.
Just as the entire observation station was about to fall to ruins, Wu Yun came charging out in their very last Hummer.
Even sitting in the car, they could feel the magnitude of the destructive power behind them. They had been a mere fraction of a second away from being crushed inside.
“Oh my God…” Li Qian turned back to look at the ruins, his heart pounding wildly as if he had just descended from the top of a roller coaster.
The others who had also escaped looked to the direction of the observation station. Some of them were crying out in alarm while others wept and covered their faces. A few were hugging each other.
They had survived to live another day.
Wu Yun’s hands were pressed on the steering wheel. He lowered his head and shut his eyes. “What about Zhou Yu? Did you see him come out…?”
Li Qian’s rejoiceful mood of having survived another day abruptly froze over. “I… didn’t…”
“I’m going to go find him… Even if I have to keep digging, I’ll dig him out!” Wu Yun slammed the door shut and strode out of the car.
Li Qian glanced at Zhou Qing, who was sitting in the backseat and not yet fully awake. He also got out of the car. “I’ll go look for him with you!” Wu Yun gritted his teeth and shoved away the broken wall. Everyone else stood nearby, unsure of what was happening.
Even knowing that Zhou Yu could not have lived, Wu Yun refused to give up.
He couldn’t remember the last time he cried, not could he tell whether it was tears or sweat that ran down his face.
Han Li came running out of another car. “Is Zhou Yu… still in there? I didn’t see him come out…”
Wu Yun didn’t speak. Li Qian nodded.
Han Li looked away, teardrops plopping to the ground. The others starting urging Wu Yun to decide on whether they were to head for base 2 or not. If they delayed things any longer, night would soon fall and things would become much more dangerous for them.
Wu Yun was about to roar out in rage when a loud sound came from the rubble like a volcano eruption. Countless pieces of debris and metal fragments were sent flying out into the sky by the strong force. The sunlight slanting down from the West scattered about countless shining light spots, those particles of dust reaching a summit before falling back down, accompanied by a loud bang. Everyone looked up to see a blur of a figure shoot towards the sky, shadowed against the sun.
Wu Yun’s eyes widened. His mouth was agape, but he couldn’t say a word.
Wings were suddenly unfurled in mid-air. Gliding in the sky, there was an unimpeded sense of freedom in such a display of raw absolute power.
At the moment of landing, the audience that been held captive was finally released, and everyone breathed out in relief.
Zhou Yu opened his eyes. His heart was hammering so fast it might leap out of his chest.
He still remembered the feeling of rushing out together with Mo Ye. Brushing past the debris had scratched up his body and his hands were only barely holding onto Mo Ye. Every joint in his body seemed to creak. The breeze ruffled past his hair and down his back. It was the sprint of a beast breaking through the dawn.
Mo Ye quietly came to a stop on the ground. Then he spread out his winds and wrapped up Zhou Yu, who was lying on his back, waiting until his breathing evened out.
Wu Yun snapped out of his daze. He still wasn’t sure if what he was seeing was real. He walked up to them, a step at a time, until he saw the side of Zhou Yu’s face from a gap in Mo Ye’s wings.
“Oh my God… You’re still alive! You’re still alive! You fucking… If you had really died, then I have no doubt Zhou Qing would shoot me!”
Zhou Yu jumped off of Mo Ye and hit Wu Yun lightly on his shoulder. “If you don’t bring Zhou Qing out, I’ll shoot you right now.”
Wu Yun smiled helplessly. They gave each other a hug and Wu Yun slapped Zhou Yu’s back twice.
Zhou Yu looked up at the sky. The sun was setting. “We should go.”
As soon as Zhou Yu turned around, Mo Ye came up to his leg, closed his eyes, and put his head against Zhou Yu’s knee, as if he was sensing and making sure of Zhou Yu’s body temperature.
“When he was carrying you… He wasn’t that small…” Wu Yun reached out to measure the air.
Zhou Yu realized that Mo Ye had been growing all this time. His rate of growth was not the same as Doctor Carlos’ estimates, but even more accelerated… Zhou Yu has always regarded Mo Ye as a child, but perhaps the current Mo Ye was no longer one.
“Hnn…” Mo Ye opened his eyes and peered up, looking like he was expecting something.
“Thank you.” Zhou Yu bent down and put his forehead against the top of Mo Ye’s head.
Without Mo Ye, he would have died countless times over already.
“It’s time we left. There’s still a long way to go to get to base 2… Our base is waiting for us to find the key to controlling the virus in the maternal Nibelungen jellyfish.” Han Li reminded them.
“Let’s go!” Zhou Yu patted Wu Yun and their group returned to their vehicles.
Zhou Yu settled down in his seat, and before he could close the door, Mo Ye scrambled in and laid down on Zhou Yu’s legs.
Zhou Yu spread out his arms, helpless but unsure if he should hold him or not. He was actually a pretty big fellow; it was surely against the rules to deliberately make himself look smaller for the sake of acting cute.
But for Wu Yun, nothing else mattered as long as Zhou Yu was alive.
He was ecstatic. It was written all over his face. He drew out a crumpled cigarette from somewhere on him, put it between his lips, and put on the song “It’s a heartache,” which gave Li Qian a headache. 
“Hnn…” Mo Ye deliberately rubbed the top of his head against Zhou Yu’s chin. Being brushed by the soft fluff, Zhou Yu sighed and held him tight.
Then, even tighter.
It would have been painful for an ordinary person to be hugged by Zhou Yu like that, but Mo Ye wasn’t hurt. He obediently let Zhou Yu hold him tightly.
When the ruins of the observation station disappeared completely from the rearview mirror, Zhou Yu sighed.
“What’s the matter?” Wu Yun asked.
“The observation station was destroyed so I have no way of watching the surveillance footage now.” Zhou Yu told everyone about Doctor Lin.
“Yeah… I’d like to see what happened too… Juli Corp should bring over some psychologists. Nibelungen drives people crazy…” Wu Yun lamented.
“No…” Looking out the window where the sunset had dyed everything crimson, transforming it into a bloodstained world, Han Li said, “It’s loneliness that drives people crazy.”