Chapter 53: The out-of-control night spirit
With that, Dr. Ron left.
“Dr. Ron is actually… kind of cute?” Wu Yun, who had been sleeping near Zhou Yu, got up and commented.
“Anyone compared with Mr. Song would be pretty cute, no?” Li Qian also sat up, looking depressed. “When can we go back to our base? My waist can’t take sleeping on the floor every day…”
At this time, Base 5 was still under quarantine.
Song Zhi was carrying a small suitcase and walking along an empty passageway.
The only sound was the echo of his footsteps. Passing through several nodes, he came to the garage, where he started up a Humvee and left the base.
The car entered into a world of all-encompassing yellow sand.
After nearly an hour’s drive, Song Zhi got out of the car and used a shovel to throw aside the sand until a black metal door could be seen. Song Zhi opened the door using fingerprint recognition then carried the suitcase inside.
Through the sand that was tossed about in the wind from time to time, another car stopped not too far away from Song Zhi’s vehicle. A dozen seconds later, the car drove away, and the wind and sand soon covered up traces of its tracks.
The team led by Dr. Shen finally made a breakthrough in the development of the antiviral drug and vaccine.
“Dr. Shen, you’re amazing! We can finally go back to our base.” Wu Yun patted Dr. Shen on the shoulder, almost knocking him over.
“No, no, no… I can’t take all the credit for it, it’s also Dr. Yao’s… He was very close to figuring out the virus the night that he…” Dr. Shen covered his face and thought of his former lab partner with mixed feelings.
“But in any case, your research is moving along very quickly. You were able to create such a complex antiviral compound and perform gene decryption in such a short time frame. Compared to you, I seem to be useless.” Zhou Qing said with a smile.
“That’s because when we were stuck in place, Dr. Jiang came in. He has a very open-minded way of thinking, unlike those of us who are trapped by convention. A problem we couldn’t figure out after many days and nights of work only took Dr. Jiang only a few minutes to come up with a new approach; he’s truly a pioneer in his field.”
“What? Dr. Jiang’s here? Where is he?” Zhou Qing’s eyes brightened.
“He came by shuttle and left after staying for only a few hours,” Ron replied.
“Oh, heavens! You should have introduced me to him! I have so many questions about plant viruses that I’d wanted to ask him!” Zhou Qing looked extremely regretful.
“But you were already asleep. And… I imagine when the problems in our world are resolved, Dr. Jiang will return, so you can keep thinking up any questions you have for him.” Ron answered.
Zhou Qing lowered his head and smiled helplessly. Who knew if he’d still be alive by the time Dr. Jiang returned?
“Don’t think about things you shouldn’t think about,” said Zhou Yu.
Zhou Qing blanked out for a second, then smiled. “Yes, I should concentrate my thoughts on more meaningful concerns. But Dr. Shen, why do you say that you’re an “older fellow” compared to Dr. Jiang? How young is Dr. Jiang?”
“Ah… Well… The first time I saw him, I thought he was a high school student.” Dr. Shen replied.
“Heh, I hate those young Ph.D. types. Younger means more talented, and that means even bigger egos.” Wu Yun covered his eyes. “I’m not looking forward to meeting him.”
Everyone laughed in response.
“I just got a call from Song Zhi. Since there’s been a breakthrough in the research here, he hopes that you can escort the virologists back to Base 5 with the research results. If we drag it on any longer, Base 5 will soon become a ghost town. Those who stayed behind will grow desperate, and Song Zhi could soon lose control of the situation.”
“Of course.” Zhou Yu nodded.
“I’m going back with you, too.” Li Qian said.
“You? Life here is pretty good, you won’t have to worry about getting infected by the virus and you have plenty of bread and butter. Are you sure you want to go back?” Wu Yun asked curiously.
“Of course. I designed the system at Base 5. When they need someone to hold down the entire base, I’m the expert they’re looking for. If the people in Base 5 really are panicking, then Mr. Song will need my help. If it’s me, then I can lock you in a room until you starve to death while sitting in front of a computer.” Li Qian stuck up his middle finger at Wu Yun.
“I’ll go back with you, too.” Without waiting for Zhou Yu to speak, Zhou Qing continued, “I have very important research to complete. I’m going back to my lab.”
Moreover, no matter where Zhou Yu goes or what happens to him, he hoped to be the first to hear of it.
“Well then, I’ll prepare the Humvees for you. Also, it has been very pleasant to work with you in the past few days, I hope we’ll have another chance to cooperate again in the future.” Ron shook hands with Zhou Qing and Dr. Shen in goodbye.
The procession of three Humvees drove back to the base.
Wu Yun and Zhou Yu were protecting Dr. Shen, Zhou Qing, and Li Qian. This time, there were no major accidents along the way.
Zhou Yu propped up his chin in one hand and lowered his gaze to watch Mo Ye, who was sleeping soundly in his lap and making light, snoring sounds. He had a nagging feeling that their peaceful journey had to do with Mo Ye.
Is that you who’s keeping us safe?
Zhou Yu raised his hand and smoothed it gently from the top of Mo Ye’s head down along his neck then back.
Mo Ye seemed to be enjoying it, his small wings gently rising and falling along with Zhou Yu’s touch.
When the sun was setting, they finally made it back to Base 5.
Wu Yun sighed in relief the moment the main gates opened for them.
“What’s the matter?” Zhou Yu asked.
“It seemed like a lifetime ago.” Wu Yun replied.
The Humvees entered the base, the gate falling shut behind them. Everything around them appeared cold and desolate and the air was suffused with the smell of disinfectant.
At the end of the passage stood Song Zhi, who was wearing a suit and looking as meticulous as ever.
Behind him were two guards in protective equipment.
DO NOT REPOST!
Wu Yun whistled. “Evening, Mr. Song. You didn’t put on any protective gear, don’t tell me it’s because you were infected, so there’s no need to wear any.”
Song Zhi ignored Wu Yun and his gaze fell directly on Zhou Yu.
“Welcome back. We’ve been waiting for quite a long time.” Song Zhi said.
The antiviral drugs developed by Dr. Shen were quickly put to use and two medical staff who had just developed symptoms were saved. The gloom of death that had been looming over the whole base finally started to disperse, and the pestilence would soon pass.
That night, Zhou Yu wasn’t in a rush to sleep so he accompanied Mo Ye to watch “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in the dining hall.
Instead of perching on the table and looking up to watch the movie, Mo Ye had learned to nest in Zhou Yu’s arms and lean the back of his head on Zhou Yu’s shoulder, pretty much treating him like a human-shaped sofa, leaving Zhou Yu with no room to refuse.
“You’re really spoiling him.”
Sometime unbeknownst to him, Song Zhi had come to Zhou Yu’s side. He placed a bottle of beer down in front of him.
Song Zhi’s arrival made Mo Ye slightly unhappy. He pretended not to see Song Zhi and continued watching the movie.
“He saved me many times, and he’s more trustworthy than other humans.”
“Are you talking about me?” Song Zhi asked.
Zhou Yun saw the sarcastic quirk of Song Zhi’s lips.
“I’ve always wanted to ask you, have you been deliberately sending me out to do the most dangerous and near-impossible tasks?”
“I have.” Song Zhi answered frankly and without hesitation.
“Why? Do you want me to die?”
“It’s because those tasks are very important to me, but they are not ones that ordinary people can accomplish, so my only choice was to put my hope in you. If you couldn’t accomplish them, then nobody would.”
“What good would it do you for me to complete those tasks?” Zhou asked again.
“In order to make Juli Corp believe that I have the ability to sit in this position, I will always make the choice that is most favorable for Juli Corp.” Song Zhi replied.
“And then? If you continue occupying the same position, will Juli group pay you a higher salary? You can’t be short of money, Mr. Song.”
“Because only in this position can I protect what is most important to me. If someone else were to take this spot, then I can guarantee you that they’d be doing everything they could to destroy what I care about.” Song Zhi cracked open the beer for Zhou Yu.
“Are you bribing me?” Zhou Yu asked.
“Kind of.” Song Zhi smiled.
“What if, one day, you can’t keep your position anymore?”
“Then so be it… Because I grow weary too, and even in Nibelungen, there’s no such thing as an eternal reign. There will always be an end to everything, be it sooner or later.”
With that, Song Zhi got up.
Before leaving, he asked, “Zhou Yu, do you have any opinions?”
“Nibelungen has viruses too, so we need to be careful. Does that count as a suggestion?”
“Of course. Good night.” Song Zhi left.
Zhou Yu went to rub Mo Ye’s belly, which was soft like a marshmallow.
“Is it fun to eavesdrop on adults?”
Mo Ye tried to lick Zhou Yu’s cheek, but Zhou Yu was faster and shoved something in him.
Mo Ye chewed for a while, then showed a puzzled expression. He opened his mouth to reveal chewing gum stuck to his teeth.
Zhou Yu started laughing.
A month later, the virus spread by the Nibelungen jellyfish was finally eradicated from the base.
They had a celebratory party in the dining hall, even though Song Zhi just gave everyone an extra beer and a cigarette.
A bright and joyous atmosphere spread over the base.
Wu Yun even took Li Qian’s hand and started ballroom dancing, although Li Qian was annoyed to be in the female role.
“Where’s Professor Zhou? Why didn’t he come out to have fun?” Wu Yun asked when he sauntered past Zhou Yu with Li Qian.
“He’s trying to catch up on the research he left behind.” Zhou Yu replied.
“Hah, how boring.”
But Mo Ye was eager to give it a try. He really wanted to dance with Zhou Yu. As if he was placating a young child, Zhou Yu took hold of Mo Ye’s front paws and led him around in a few circles. Now there were not as many people who took issue with Mo Ye’s presence, they were all used to seeing him wander around the dining hall.
As they turned around and around, Zhou Yu found that nothing else around them mattered except Mo Ye’s eyes.
His happiness was so simple and real.
The party lasted past midnight, after which everyone either went back to their dormitories or posts.
Meanwhile, Carlos was in his lab, focusing on the night spirit in the transparent growth tank.
While the virus had been wreaking havoc in the base, he stood guard there the entire time, not stepping one foot outside nor communicating with anyone. Besides intaking food and water from a stockpile, he chatted with the night spirit.
He hoped that it would trust him, just like how Mo Ye clung to Zhou Yu.
It was close to maturity and it shared a very similar appearance with Mo Ye. With its eyes closed, Carlos couldn’t help but imagine what they would look like when opened.
Were they the same amber color as Mo Ye?
Would they share Mo Ye’s high intellect and his curiosity and yearning for the human world?
DO NOT REPOST!
Carlos’s hand was placed on the glass, imagining its temperature and touch.
“What should I name you? If you were to match with Mo Ye… maybe Bai Zhou? Sorry, I’m not good at naming, maybe Zhou Yu can give you a good name.”
T/N: Baizhou means “daytime” while Moye means “ink night”.
Just then, the night spirit in the tank suddenly opened its eyes. It wasn’t a clear amber color, but blood-red!
Carlos stepped back in surprise.
He thought he was hallucinating so he rubbed his eyes, but the night spirit’s eyes remained open. Although it wasn’t was displaying any obvious emotions, Carlos saw hunger and killing intent in those eyes.
This night spirit and Mo Ye were like two sides of the same mirror: one crazy and one calm.
Carlos gulped, he suddenly had a foreboding feeling that the creature he’d been raising was not a lovable and reasonable individual like Mo Ye!
No! Something must have gone wrong!
Carlos suddenly had a premonition of danger.
He wanted to avoid the night spirit’s gaze, but when he went to the left, its line of sight followed him to the left.
He went to the right, and that pair of eyes also moved to the right.
Those eyes never left him.
This intensified the feeling of danger Carlos was sensing; it was as if he’d become its prey.
He thought of Zhou Yu’s hesitance to speak, and of Mo Ye’s dislike for this night spirit. Maybe they were all for good reason, and not merely a coincidence!
Carlos told himself that he had to resolve this issue before it got any more serious! It didn’t matter if Song Zhi would question his decision, Carlos knew what he had to!
He gulped, clenched his fists, and made a decision: He would go to his computer and input a command to inject neurotoxins into the growth tank!
He must not let it leave the tank alive!
Just when he’d made up his mind, the sound of broken glass came from behind him. Carlos’s heart clenched, and turning around, he saw that the tank had been broken, the growth liquid inside leaking everywhere. It made a dripping sound, but the night spirit was gone.
In a corner of the laboratory, the night spirit was plastered there, with all four limbs hooked in the ceiling. When he turned, the wings on his back fell and then slowly open again, like a hellhound.
Those strange, blood-red eyes stared at Carlos, making his hair stand on end. They seemed to know what Carlos was thinking and looked at him with sneering disdain for the weak.
Carlos took a step back. The only thing he could think of at the moment was to lock up the laboratory to prevent it from leaving.
He raced to his computer in desperation, but before he could touch the fingerprint sensor, he was struck by a powerful force and fell to the ground.
The moment he made contact with the ground, his brain registered severe pain and he knew that his ribs had been crushed.
Carlos struggled to get up with the night spirit on top of him. When he saw the shadow that was cast on the floor, he knew that the night spirit was opening its wings. It only took a moment for its wings to stab into Carlos’s body.
“Ah—” Carlos produced a blood-curdling scream, but soon, he could no longer make any sounds.
The night spirit ruthlessly bit down on Carlos’s neck and sucked hard.
Carlos’s eyes widened; his voice seemed to be stuck in his throat and his blood was rapidly draining from his body.
The feelings that accompanied him were unparalleled pain and the dread of dying.
The night spirit slurped up his fear.
Was this really a night spirit?
Why was it like this?
He didn’t want to die… He really didn’t want to die…
The heavy beating of a heart sounded in his ear, gradually slowing down.
It was finally over. Carlos died there with his eyes still open.
The night spirit slowly came to one side and quietly looked down Carlos’ body with a strange smile.
Its bones crackled as it arched its neck and stretched its body out taut, as if it had been reborn from the cracking.
When it lowered its head and turned it from side to side, its body suddenly grew by a third.
Ten minutes later, Carlos’s research assistant came to the double doors. He entered the first door then opened the second door. The moment he opened the inner door, he was attacked by a flash of a black shadow. A few seconds later, the black figure closed the second door and patiently lay in wait in the vestibule. It waited quietly; there was sure to be another person to come open the door.
That night at the very same base, several researchers and field personnel were scheduled to be sent back to their original world.
The magnetic shuttle was having its readings checked. The workers bustled about while Song Zhi stood before a multitude of monitors that were all on the wall with his arms crossed. Bright flickers of light from the ever-changing data scrolled past his face.
Li Qian was sitting in front of a computer. There were dark circles under his eyes. As the systems designer, he had to ensure that the system could handle the shuttle operation without any “accidents” happening.
Although virtually no accidents had occurred over the past two years, the risk level was still much higher than that of a manned spaceship. A single data error could lead to unpredictable consequences.
At this time, Li Qian, who had snoozed off for a few seconds due to a lack of sleep, opened his eyes and saw, through the screen, a researcher delivering samples who opened the outer door of Carlos’s lab and was then pounced on and attacked by a black night spirit.
Li Qian’s shoulders jolted up, causing the coffee on the table to spill all over his pants. Fortunately, the coffee had long gone cold.
Li Qian didn’t move to wipe himself. He gawked at the screen, then blinked.
“Is that Mo Ye? No way… How could Mo Ye hurt a researcher?”
“What’s wrong?” Song Zhi’s voice rang in Li Qian’s ear.
Li Qian sucked in a deep breath, then pointed to the night spirit that was leisurely walking down a hallway on the monitor and asked, “M-Mr. Song… Is that Mo Ye?”
Song Zhi leaned down and squinted at the screen. The night spirit seemed to feel something watching it and suddenly turned in the direction of the security camera.
Those eyes that were a shocking blood-red color almost made Li Qian almost fall off his seat.
Song Zhi immediately connected to Carlos’s lab. “Carlos! Are you in there?! Reply immediately!”
There was no response.
“Turn on the monitoring devices in the Carlos’s lab! Quickly!”
The mess of a scene abruptly appeared before Song Zhi. Carlos lay on the ground, his head almost twisted to the back.
Two researchers had died in the space between the two doors.
Li Qian covered his mouth, holding back his urge to vomit.
“It’s the night spirit… Carlos was nurturing…”
Song Zhi turned back around and clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention. “Today’s shuttle mission is temporarily on hold! All combat personnel on standby!”
The announcement caused an uproar.
Everyone was discussing what had happened.
“All combat personnel, stand on alert! All researchers are to lock their rooms or laboratories. Do NOT come out no matter what!”
“Yes, Mr. Song!” Li Qian quickly started typing.
“Can neurotoxins be dispersed in Carlos’s lab?” Song asked.
“Let me check!” Li Qian input some numbers through the keyboard, then nodded and replied, “Yes. I’ll input the command to open both doors in Carlos’s lab then release the neurotoxin. I just don’t know if it will work for the night spirit in low concentrations when the toxin diffuses into the hallway outside of the lab.”
“Just try it and see.”
When the neurotoxin spread to the night spirit, it coolly looked back, allowing the toxin to wash over itself.
A few seconds later, Li Qian and Song Zhi watched as it came strolling out of the mist.
“How could this happen? It wasn’t affected at all!” Li Qian couldn’t comprehend it.
“It’s because… It held its breath.” Song Zhi clenched his fists.
“How long can it hold it for?”
“It looks calm so it should be a long time.” Song Zhi pressed down on his throbbing temples.
A special combat team was currently heading in the direction of Carlos’s lab. Before they opened the door, they received a warning from Li Qian: the night spirit was waiting for them on the other side.
Song Zhi took over the radio transceiver and instructed, “After you open the door, don’t hesitate to empty out your guns!”
The special combat team waited for Li Qian to prompt the system to open the door, after which they let out an all-or-nothing burst of frenzied gunfire.
The author has something to say:
Mo Ye: For the sake of my family’s Zhou Yu, I’ll have to go all out even if it’d blow my cover!