Chapter 5: Zhou Qing
“If I told you I refuse, will you regret saving me and think that you wish you had left me to die in there?”
Song Zhi shook his head, “I never speculate about the past.”
“I can’t possibly agree. You want me to join the research project that took away the lives of all my team members? Stop joking, you have no idea how much I want to kill all of you.” A cold gleam of light flashed by in Zhou Yu’s eyes.
“When was the last time you saw your younger brother Zhou Qing?” Song Zhi suddenly said.
Zhou Yu’s pupils trembled and he grabbed the collar of Song Zhi’s shirt, “What did you do to Zhou Qing? Or did you also drag him into this mess?”
Song Zhi rapped the back of Zhou Yu’s hand, signaling for him to put him down. “Professor Zhou is one of our most valuable members and a leading figure in plant physiology and embryology. For any scholar, being able to participate in cutting-edge research of their chosen domain is a lifelong pursuit, which is why you shouldn’t use the phrase ‘dragged in’ to describe Professor Zhou’s current situation.”
“How did you persuade him?”
Zhou Yu knew his own younger brother. Zhou Qing was a simple scholar, but he also had his own bottom line. As for Juli Corp’s research, Zhou Yu thought that it had already crossed that bottom line.
Song Zhi stood up and straightened out the edges of his shirt. Zhou Yu didn’t appreciate people who constantly paid attention to their appearance, but the feeling Song Zhi gave him was strict and businesslike.
“The main point isn’t how we persuaded Zhou Qing, but … when was the last time you sat down to have a chat or a meal with your younger brother? Do you know what his current condition is? Or what he needs? Go see him, and if you’re still determined to tell me you can’t accept Juli Corp’s olive branch, then I promise that we won’t bother you anymore. Juli Corp keeps its promises.”
When he finished speaking, Song Zhi left the room.
The world had been flipped upside down in the span of only a few minutes for Zhou Yu. He didn’t have time to be immersed in the sorrow of losing his teammates when another problem had already come his way.
He had survived a life-and-death confrontation with a monster, heard about a parallel world named “Nibelungen,” someone wanted to hire him to travel to that world, and he was reminded of his lack of contact with his younger brother Zhou Qing.
It was as if everything had played out according to a plan.
Zhou Yu’s recovery time was quicker than expected, and after a month, he left in a helicopter sent by Song Zhi.
When the helicopter was traveling through the sky, Zhou You discovered that they had been flying over a large desert the entire time. With each gust of wind, the sand was tossed about in great waves, as if everything below was flooding over.
Arriving in the city, Zhou Yu returned to his bachelor’s apartment. He picked up a call from his superiors, thinking that he would be reprimanded, but he instead received a month-long vacation to let him recuperate.
Zhou Yu smiled helplessly. No matter how he thought about it, it sounded like Juli Corp was giving him time to “think it over.”
He also got a call from Mei Xi. She was very worried about him, and after hearing Zhou Yu call out “Xiao Mei,” she started to cry into the phone.
It was fortunate that Juli Corp didn’t investigate Mei Xi and her two co-workers’ neglect of duties, since they were supposed to stop Zhou Yu, but did not. Zhou You’s small team was pretty much been completely wiped out, and Mei Xi had been transferred to another operation team.
When Mei Xi asked Zhou Yu what he had seen in the Research Institute, Zhou Yu only said, “Xiao Mei, live your life well. What you don’t have to know, and you don’t need to know.”
Sometimes, closing your eyes will bring more happiness than chasing after the truth.
Mei Xi tactfully understood and didn’t pursue the topic.
“What will happen to Zhao Cheng and Chen Chong?” Zhou Yu’s fingers stiffened.
Although he wouldn’t deliberately think back to that moment, their deaths were deeply branded into his mind.
“The funeral is already over. Top brass announced that they had died in the line of duty. When their remains were handed back to family, they were already cremated.”
Because their cause of death was confidential, they couldn’t let their families see the remains.
“I’ll go visit them.” Zhou Yu’s gaze lowered.
Then there was silence between him and Mei Xi.
On the afternoon of the same day, Zhou Yu visited the public cemetery, and seeing his teammates’ gravestones and the pictures on the graves, he remained silent.
On the second day, he bought a plane ticket for another city, to pay a visit to his younger brother Zhou Qing.
Zhou Qing is the youngest university professor in his position, and although he was young and ambitious, he could simplify complex concepts.
Zhou Yu came to F University and called his brother, only to find that his brother’s cell phone was turned off. He went directly to Zhou Qing’s office and met his two research assistants.
“Hello, I’m looking for Professor Zhou Qing.”
“Professor Zhou isn’t here at the moment. We’re not sure when he’ll be back, are you part of a research organization or institute? Or a biotechnology company?”
Zhou Qing’s name was well-known and he received an endless stream of research or collaborative invitations, even though he himself was not good at socializing. If it wasn’t a mandatory event, then his assistants would politely decline the invitations for him.
“I’m Zhou Yu, Professor Zhou’s older brother.”
After Zhou Yu said that, the two assistants’ attitudes immediately changed.
“So it’s Captain Zhou, Professor Zhou didn’t tell you his hospital ward room number?”
Zhou Yu’s heart skipped a beat. Zhou Qing was hospitalized? He hadn’t even known.
There weren’t any unnecessary emotions shown on his face. He only replied to the assistant’s question. “That’s right, he forgot to tell me. You know his personality, he always forgets the important things.”
“Professor Zhou is staying in the special ward of this city’s First General Hospital, room three.”
The premonition that something was wrong kept growing in Zhou Yu. Why did Zhou Qing not tell his only brother that he was sick? And he was staying in the special ward… what kind of illness did he have?
Twenty minutes later, Zhou Yu arrived at First General Hospital. It was there that he learned that Zhou Qing had just been through surgery to remove a glioma in his brain a mere few hours ago. Zhou Qing’s attending doctor told him the tumor was malignant with a high rate of recurrence. Although Zhou Qing’s surgery was very successful, it was expected to recur in six months to a year. Zhou Qing’s brain will eventually be pushed aside by the tumor, and he would gradually lose his vision, motor functions, and finally, his ability to breathe.
Zhou Yu’s fingertips started trembling.
He had already lost his teammates. That was a fixed outcome that could no longer be changed.
But now he was also on the verge of losing his younger brother Zhou Qing, too. He was ready to do anything to save Zhou Qing, but at the same time, he knew that he was powerless to go against the natural laws of the world.
Zhou Yu sat by Zhou Qing the entire time, waiting for him to wake up. While he was waiting, he kept remembering what Song Zhi had said to him.
“When was the last time you sat down to have a chat or a meal with your younger brother? Do you know what his current condition is? Or what he needs? Go see him, and if you’re still determined to tell me you can’t accept Juli Corp‘s olive branch, then I promise that we won’t bother you anymore. Juli Corp keeps its promises.”
Did Song Zhi mean that Juli Corp’s leading scientific technologies could save Zhou Qing’s life?
Zhou Yu was a very resolute person. He was very clear on what he had already lost, what he could still strive to obtain, what he had to do, and what he had to protect even if he had to stake it all.
A few hours passed by, but Zhou Yu maintained his position sitting straight up by the bedside, without moving a limb. The surrounding medical personnel had come to check on him many times, but they were unable to disturb Zhou Yu’s train of thought.
When Zhou Yu finally came back to his senses, the skies outside the windows had already darkened and even the hallways were silent. It was already midnight. Lying on the hospital bed, Zhou Qing was already awake. He was looking at Zhou Yu with a serene gaze. It was unknown how long he had been staring.
“Zhou Qing, you’re awake…”
Having been stared at like an animal under examination by Zhou Qing with such a penetrative gaze, he was momentarily at a loss for words.
“I didn’t think you would come,” Zhou Qing slowly said.
His voice was a little hoarse. His wan face looked to be completely bloodless, and he had become extremely thin.
“I’m your older brother,” Zhou Yu said.
Starting from some time ago, he and Zhou Qing contacted each other less and less. Was it because Zhou Qing was hooked on research and he was busy with various missions, or was it because they were in different cities? Or maybe it was just that their encounters were becoming less frequent.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I fell ill. I just thought… that telling you wouldn’t change anything. And… you’re often out on dangerous missions, I didn’t want to distract you.”
Zhou Yu looked down.
“Your surgery was very successful, but since the location of the surgery was the brain, it was an extremely complicated and delicate process. Even if a single nerve was touched, it can have an effect on your motor skills or other abilities.”
“I know.” Zhou Qing smiled. “From when I first gained consciousness to now, there hasn’t been any discomfort so far. While you were spacing out, I reviewed the research experiments I was conducting and found that my thinking and memory abilities don’t seem to be affected. I tried moving my fingers and toes and they seem fine. After all, the chief surgeon who operated on me is the brain surgeon ranked first in the world, Doctor Daniel Benn.”
Zhou Yu’s brow knitted up.
The best brain surgeon in the world, Doctor Daniel Benn, wasn’t someone Zhou Yu had the power to invite.
“It was Juli Corp.” Zhou Qing directly answered Zhou Yu’s doubts.
“The condition is that I have to participate in a project called ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen.’ The location is in another world.” Zhou Qing carefully observed Zhou Yu’s expression. Zhou Yu’s calmness revealed that he had already predicted it. “You’re not asking about what Juli Corp does, or what “Der Ring des Nibelungen” project is, you’re not even shocked that I said there was another world, so you already knew?”
“You haven’t seen a creature from that world. You will die, Zhou Qing.”
It was only after a long time that Zhou Yu spoke.