Chapter 52: Dreams and Lucidity
“What should we do then?” Zhou Qing found them caught between a rock and a hard place.
Just then, Zhou Yu’s voice came from the radio transceiver. “I’ll go with Mo Ye. I believe that Mo Ye will be able to intimidate the Nibelungen jellyfish, as a higher ranking organism. He can help us resist its influence.”
“Brother! You can’t go!” Zhou Qing started panicking. The scene of the worker putting the gun to his head and committing suicide was still fresh in his mind. Zhou Qing was unable to keep his cool.
“The jellyfish is only just starting to move. Once it familiarizes itself with the situation in the base and adapts to it, we could all become nourishment for its offspring. This must be taken care of as soon as possible.” Zhou Yu’s voice was very calm.
Dr. Ron stroked his chin in contemplation. “Professor Zhou, maybe your brother has the right idea. The night spirit is the only one that can resist the Nibelungen jellyfish in this entire base. Let him go with your brother to carry out this task, perhaps he may give us our greatest chance of success.”
Zhou Qing knew that once Zhou Yu set his mind to something, then it would be very hard to stop him. Zhou Qing sighed, his head sagging.
“We have to go back together.”
“Of course.” Zhou Yu replied.
Zhou Yu brought Mo Ye with him to collect the neurotoxin from the lab workers, who told him that as long as he opened the vial and threw it into the formalin solution, everything would be over.
When Zhou Yu entered the specimen room, he looked up at the giant jellyfish. Although he was wary of it, he could not help but appreciate the miracles of God, deep in his heart.
Zhou Yu felt a bite on his calf and looked down to see Mo Ye’s eyes showing dissatisfaction.
Zhou Yu smiled. “Keep watch for me, Mo Ye.”
“Hnn.” Mo Ye nodded.
Some of the tension in him also eased.
As Zhou Yu climbed up to the top of the storage vessel, time seemed to drag on in slow motion. He thought to himself that the giant jellyfish wouldn’t go down without a fight. How will it choose to defend itself and strike back?
Zhou Qing was nervously standing in front of the monitor. He subconsciously clenched his chest. It was not Zhou Yu’s most dangerous moment in Nibelungen, but it may be the most deadly.
Zhou Yu took out some rope and tied it around his waist, then draped it outside the storage vessel to prevent himself from falling into the formalin like Dr. Yao. Next, Zhou Yu pressed a button to slowly open the top cover of the storage vessel. The moment Zhou Yu was about to pour in the toxin, he heard a splash, and a slender hand reached out of the liquid, clamping around his wrist. The strength behind the grip felt strong enough to crush his bones.
“Do you want to kill me?”
An ethereal voice sounded. Zhou Yu’s eyes widened as he saw the black-haired young man who had once saved him rise out of the water.
His smile was laced with temptation and provocation, just like the first time Zhou Yu had seen him. Rather than appearing vulgar, he looked graceful.
“Why are you here?” Zhou Yu’s pupils instantly dilated.
“Did you miss me?” The young man’s other hand was propped up on the edge of the storage vessel. He turned to look at Zhou Yu.
Zhou Yu opened his mouth but did not speak.
Why was he here?
Was it because he sensed danger, so he came to protect him again, like he had each time before this one?
“Did you miss me…?”
His lips opened and closed with a certain allure. It quietly penetrated through Zhou Yu’s defenses, destroying his seemingly unwavering resistance.
He turned his head to the side, his slightly drooping eyes seemed to bring all of Zhou Yu’s thoughts into a dreamland.
Zhou Yu subconsciously leaned into him, an inexplicable desire surging up in his heart. He wanted to touch the young man and possess his everything.
But at the moment Zhou Yu’s lips were about to meet his, a voice echoed deep in his mind.
“I will never ask you if you want to kill me because I’d press my chest to the muzzle of your gun first.”
Zhou Yu instantly tensed up, abruptly pulled away from all the beautiful thoughts in his mind. Through his earpiece, Zhou Qing was shouting at him at full strength.
Behind him, Mo Ye jumped up to grab onto his belt and pull him away.
The situation suddenly reminded him of that day at Angel’s Horns where he was almost swallowed whole by the reverse-scale dragon.
The giant jellyfish churned up waves as it sprang up.
Sometime before, it had turned in a big circle in the storage vessel, its umbrella-shaped bell surfacing from the water like a giant, transparent flower.
Zhou Yu had been only a millisecond away from being engulfed by it!
The formalin solution almost splashed on Zhou Yu, but Mo Ye shielded him with his wings. He fell off and was caught by the rope around his waist, dangling about halfway down the storage vessel. Mo Ye wrapped around him then looked up at the jellyfish that had attached to a surface somewhere above their heads. It spread out rapidly and extended in all directions, its body leaving the formalin completely!
“Fuck!” Zhou Yu hadn’t expected the jellyfish’s projected illusion to be so realistic.
His vial of neurotoxin had fallen into the storage vessel.
“It wants to envelop the entire room so that you can’t leave, then swallow you up!” Zhou Qing’s voice came from the communication device.
Zhou Yu looked up at the jellyfish. Sticky, strip-shaped things were dribbling down from its body and wriggling like digestive organs.
Zhou Yu’s lips curved up. “That’s not the only source of toxin.”
With that, Zhou Yu took out the pistol at his waist and shot it in the head.
Two shots rang out. The bullets pierced into the body of the Nibelungen jellyfish and melted.
The jellyfish that had been attached to the ceiling seemed to lose its strength as it made sticky sounds. It oozed down, about to envelop Zhou Yu!
Mo Ye’s wings sliced past Zhou Yu’s back, cutting the rope tied to him loose. He took Zhou Yu with him and smashed through a wall in the specimen room to rush outside.
At the same time, the jellyfish fell off with a splash, its hood dropping back into the storage vessel. The resulting splatter sent liquid formalin sloshing all over the floor like a flood.
Some tentacles that were not retracted in time fell over the outside of the storage dish.
Everything was quiet.
Zhou Qing’s clenched fists finally relaxed in front of the monitor. He breathed out in relief and found that his back was soaked with sweat.
Ron’s mouth was agape. “The night spirit… He was actually that strong… He broke down a wall in the base so easily! We humans can’t restrain him at all…”
“That’s why he’s on our side by his own volition, not because we are stronger than him.” Zhou Qing replied.
This was not the first time Mo Ye had broken out from behind enemy lines with Zhou Yu.
Mo Ye slipped a short distance into the passageway then landed, Zhou Yu still lying on top of him.
Mo Ye wasn’t in a hurry to let Zhou Yu down. He cutely lay down, lifted his wings, then wrapped up Zhou Yu on his back.
“Mo Ye… I fell into the Nibelungen jellyfish’s illusion.” Zhou Yu pressed his forehead against the back of Mo Ye’s head.
“Hnn…” Mo Ye answered softly.
“In the illusion… There was a person I should not have imagined.” Zhou Yu didn’t know when the young man had started to occupy his thoughts.
Zhou Yu smiled and stroked Mo Ye’s head. “You saved me again. Without you… I probably would have died many times over.”
“Hnn.” Mo Ye nodded seriously.
Zhou Yu suddenly realized what he was thinking about and thumped him on the head. “What are you thinking of?! There’s no way I’ll show you a striptease! Have Wu Yun dance for you!”
“Hrrn…” Mo Ye carried Zhou Yu for a few more steps before straightening up angrily, letting Zhou Yu slide down to the floor.
This time, Ron was able to confirm that the Nibelungen jellyfish was truly dead.
Zhou Yu walked forward and saw Zhou Qing standing at the end of the passageway, waiting for him.
“I say to myself every time, I can’t let you do anything risky again… But I couldn’t be strong enough to stop you each time. I’m the worst brother in the world.” Zhou Qing’s expression was as clean and handsome as always, as if he simply had no worldly desires.
But his eyes were quivering.
Zhou Yu came forward and hugged Zhou Qing.
“You idiot. Some are fit to make decisions, and others, to carry them out. I’m obviously the second type, and I hope you can be the first.”
“I know. I will become more confident and stronger.”
According to Wu Yun, they should have a party to celebrate what little joy they could find in their situation.
Originally, Wu Yun had thought that his idea would be laughed off, so he hadn’t expected Dr. Ron to take him seriously. He sent Zhou Yu a whole barrel of red wine.
With his hands on his hips, Wu Yun complained, “Why didn’t we get assigned to Base 2? Ron is much more generous than Song Zhi!”
Zhou Yu petted the fluff on Mo Ye’s back while propping up his chin in his other hand. “I prefer beer to wine.”
But Mo Ye was very curious. He left Zhou Yu’s side and went up to the barrel to sniff its scent while circling it.
Wu Yun started laughing. “Hahaha, even if you don’t want a drink, Mo Ye wants to try it!”
Zhou Yu smiled and accepted a small glass of red wine, which he brought up to Mo Ye. Mo Ye immediately thrust his face close and stuck his tongue into the glass and lick it.
Mo Ye’s tongue withdrew just as it made contact with the wine. He looked at Zhou Yu, countless stars seeming to tremble in his eyes.
“What’s the matter? You don’t like it? ” Zhou Yu was going to take the glass back, but Mo Ye stopped him with his front paws. He tipped over the glass and took a gulp.
“Haa…” Mo Ye sighed with his eyes closed. He looked like he was savoring it.
It was the first time he’d made a sound other than “hrrn” or “hmm.” Even Wu Yun was surprised and wanted to feed more wine to Mo Ye.
Mo Ye happily circled around Zhou Yu, swaying.
“Is Mo Ye drunk? Stop giving him wine, he’s not even fully grown yet!” Li Qian was somewhat concerned.
But Zhou Yu smiled. “He’s not drunk. A night spirit’s metabolism works fast, how could he get drunk? He must have seen it from a movie and copied their drunken mannerisms.”
Mo Ye’s eyes narrowed into crescents as he smiled. He returned to Zhou Yu’s side and flopped down lazily.
After three rounds of drinks, everyone was sleepy.
Zhou Yu lay down right on the floor of the dining hall, pillowed on Mo Ye’s back.
“Zhou Yu, have you ever wondered… If Juli Corp, Nibelungen, and everything, is just a dream?” Wu Yun exclaimed.
“Between hopes and reality, I’d still choose to do what I can do and change the status quo.” Zhou Yu replied.
Wu Yun chuckled. “But I’m more grateful than anyone that this is all real. Otherwise… how depressing would it be to watch my daughter die in the so-called real world?”
Zhou Yu patted him on the shoulder. “Maybe when we wake up tomorrow, the virus will be decoded and we can safely make it back to our original base. Your contract with Juli Corp expires in less than a month, you’ll be able to see your daughter and stay with her.”
“And you? What’s your wish… Zhou Yu?” Wu Yun asked.
Zhou Yu paused.
Yes, what was his wish?
From when the peryton had killed all his teammates, to when he crossed over to protect Zhou Qing, those reasons no longer seemed to be as important.
The peryton, an absolute creature of nightmares in the human world, was nothing in the world of Nibelungen.
And to Nibelungen, Zhou Yu’s strength was insignificant. Without Mo Ye’s protection, he would not be able to protect Zhou Qing at all.
So… What was the meaning of all of this?
Zhou Yu lifted up a hand to touch Mo Ye. Mo Ye tilted his head over to him and rubbed against his face.
At present, all his wishes had to do with Mo Ye.
He hoped that Mo Ye was happy, that he could become strong, that he could find happiness even without his existence.
Zhou Yu was sleepy, so he closed his eyes.
Sometime later, a soft hum drifted by his ear.
Someone was humming a tune. His voice was unique; it was elegant and bright, as if it were particles of dust colliding in the air.
Zhou Yu abruptly opened his eyes to find the young man sitting on the table. His long legs were gently swinging to and fro and both his hands were placed on the edge of the table, just so that his head was angled down to look straight at Zhou Yu.
Zhou Yu gasped in surprise and sat up, only to find that there wasn’t another soul in sight in the dining hall.
Wu Yun, Li Qian, Han Li, and all the other more distantly familiar researchers were gone.
Zhou Yu looked into the young man’s eyes. His eyes revealed that he was smiling gently at him.
The last time Zhou Yu had seen the young man sitting on the edge of a table was when they’d confronted Dr. Lin. At that time, his smile also had a captivating curve to it, but it was different from now, which Zhou Yu could feel had pure intentions.
“I’m dreaming. I’m asleep, and you’re an illusion.” Zhou Yu said confidently.
The young man’s smile only deepened. He leaned in towards Zhou Yu, stopping only when his center of balance was about to tip over.
Such a perfect distance allowed Zhou Yu to feel his temperature but was not too close so that Zhou Yu could not see him clearly.
His eyes were the most beautiful pair Zhou Yu had ever seen. They were delicate but also possessed the strength to break through the bounds of his vision.
“Then you know that if I am an illusion, and all of this is merely a dream… It means you miss me.”
“It’s also possible that you’re in my mind.”
“Fine, say I built this dreamland for you, would you like for it to last a little longer, or will you wake up now?”
Zhou Yu chuckled and was about to answer, but the young man put a finger against his lips, the touch of which felt entirely real.
“Think before answering me.” The young man’s smile vanished and his expression turned serious.
In this world, he stood at the top of the pyramid. He didn’t need to be serious about anything because everything was in the palm of his hand.
His fingertip grazed past Zhou Yu’s lips.
“This does not exist in the objective world, but to you and me, this is 100% true.”
“So… What is the purpose of your ‘visit’?” Zhou Yu asked.
The boy hopped off the table. He was very light on his feet and didn’t make a sound.
Zhou Yu was about to stand up, but the young man pressed his hands down on his shoulders. Zhou Yu fell back down again, and the young man stepped over to straddle him across his waist.
“Did you know that the illusion the Nibelungen jellyfish casts onto its prey is not determined by it, but rather, by the prey themselves?”
The young man leaned into Zhou Yu, practically sticking to him. Zhou Yu tilted back to find his balance and said in a cold voice, “You should get up.”
“When the jellyfish was stalking its prey, you saw me because I am what’s the most attractive to you.”
“I said, you should get up.” Zhou Yu’s gaze and voice started to grow frosty.
Those eyes were far too deep. Zhou Yu felt as if he was about to drown in them.
The young man bowed his head and smiled, his hair softly quivering. He let go of his hand.
But when Zhou Yu felt him loosen his grip and was about to push the young man away, he suddenly looked up at him, the overbearing power of his gaze colliding with Zhou Yu’s. Zhou Yu was knocked down again and as he was about to struggle, the young man captured Zhou Yu’s wrists and held them down beside his ears.
Zhou Yu looked back at him with wide eyes.
“Look at your gaze. You’re imagining yourself as my prey.”
“At this moment, am I not your prey?” Zhou Yu asked.
“This is only a dream. If you want to get rid of me, just wake up.”
Zhou Yu didn’t understand, but the young man suddenly pressed down and captured his lips. His tongue squeezed in with an irresistible force, sending waves of shock to Zhou Yu’s brain, just like a viral invasion that occupied all of Zhou Yu’s cells.
Zhou Yu went to strike him with his knee, but he was pressed back down with just one hand. With a crushing force, Zhou Yu felt acute pain in his knee as if it had shattered.
Wake up… Zhou Yu, wake up!
The moment Zhou Yu opened his eyes, he took hard, breathless gasps, his heart beating violently. The aroma of wine was suffused in the air and it lingered in his nose.
The young man’s parting words echoed in his ears: You know I’m dangerous, but you didn’t wake up right away because you wanted to be with me.
Those bewitching eyes were more terrible than the Nibelungen jellyfish that could devour space.
It was an irresistible force that lurked in every nerve on Zhou Yu’s body, hidden beneath his every thought.
“Hrrn?” An intimate voice sounded.
Zhou Yu gulped and turned to see Mo Ye.
“Hnn…” Mo Ye rubbed Zhou Yu with the tip of his nose, the soft touch relaxing Zhou Yu’s tensed nerves.
Zhou Yu opens his arms and embraced Mo Ye. He looked into Mo Ye’s eyes for a long time.
Mo Ye probably thought that it was weird to be looked at for so long, and just as he was about to turn away, Zhou Yu said, “Look at me… Mo Ye… Let me look at you for a little longer.”
“Hnn.” Mo Ye seemed to sense Zhou Yu’s mood and he stuck out his tongue to lick Zhou Yu’s upper lip.
“You little rascal.” Zhou Yu touched Mo Ye’s head then stuffed him into his arms.
Gradually, sleepiness washed over him.
This time, Zhou Yu slept until dawn.
When he opened his eyes, he found Dr. Ron sitting on a chair in the dining hall, looking down at him.
Zhou Yu sat up abruptly. He wasn’t expecting anyone to be near him or to be sitting in front of him. He hadn’t noticed at all.
“Dr. Ron… Is the Nibelungen jellyfish still alive? “
“Of course not.” Dr. Ron shook his head. “It’s been completely dissolved. Its cells and the virus it carried were sent to Dr. Shen for research.”
“Oh… Then… Are you here to study Mo Ye? “
“Then, can I dissect him?” asked Dr. Ron.
“Of course not.” Zhou Yu looked at him coldly.
“Can I take a blood sample from him?”
“He doesn’t like that.”
“Can I test him behaviorally?”
“Dr. Carlos tried that and ended up with a destroyed monitoring room.”
“Oh… Nevermind then. What I want to study has already come to a conclusion. “
“What did you want to study?”
“Can night spirits with superior intellect adapt to human society?”
“So… What’s the conclusion?” Zhou Yu found that there was a generation gap between his train of thought and Dr. Ron’s.
“The conclusion is that if humans can trust night spirits, then it’s certainly possible.”
“…” Zhou Yu didn’t know what to say.
Mo Ye also woke up, making a murmuring sound. He studied Dr. Ron with his head askew. He found that Dr. Ron was wearing the same white lab coat as the researchers who had previously come running to see him. He instantly felt mischievous and he wore a ferocious expression on purpose, looking like he was about to run up and bite Dr. Ron.
“Hey! Mo Ye!”
Just as Zhou Yu went to press down Mo Ye’s head, Dr. Ron unexpectedly reached out to flick Mo Ye’s forehead.
“You haven’t hurt a single person since coming here, so don’t think your little trick will scare me.”
Mo Ye wasn’t expecting him to react that way and subconsciously shrank back.
“Oh, by the way… Dr. Shen has made some progress in research on the virus. Do you want to know why Professor Zhou and Dr. Han Li could be exposed to environments where the virus was being transmitted without getting infected?”
“Because they were both ill. Professor Zhou had glioma, and Dr. Han Li had a bad cold that day. They were both in an unhealthy state. The virus is produced within the jellyfish, and their role through millions of years of evolution is to help the jellyfish digest food. Professor Zhou and Dr. Han Li were not “healthy food.”
I want a pillow Mo Ye too.