Chapter 58: Return to Nibelungen
He told Zhou Qing which hotel he was staying in.
Just as Zhou Qing was thinking of how to get to the hotel, Bai Yingting suddenly spoke, “I’m in front of your dormitory building.”
Zhou Qing was stunned. He came to the windowsill and saw a tall and slender man in a smoke-gray windbreaker standing under the street lamp.
Seeming to feel Zhou Qing’s gaze, he slowly looked up.
A silent wave rushed at Zhou Qing, sweeping over and engulfing him in its fresh and gentle air.
Bai Yingting’s eyes and brows were elegant. There was something indescribable in his eyes, as if he had walked a long way and lived a long time until finally meeting Zhou Qing.
Zhou Qing blinked hard, causing a smile to grace the corners of Bai Yingting’s lips. He raised his hand and gave a small wave.
“P-professor Bai, how did you know I live here?”
“Your research assistant told my Ph.D. student. Professor Zhou, if you take offense to my unsolicited visit, we can make an appointment to meet elsewhere.”
“No! Of course not!” Zhou Qing looked back into his room. Fortunately, he did not come back often, but his unwashed clothes were still on the sofa.
Zhou Qing cleaned the room as fast as he could before opening the door. Bai Yingting stood there with his hands in his pockets.
Seeing Bai Yingting up close, Zhou Qing felt even more strongly that he knew Bai Yingting… Then the realization hit him: he was remarkably similar to the S rank organism he’d met before!
The similarity was not in his facial features, but more of an innate overlapping.
“Have I met you somewhere before?” Zhou Qing asked subconsciously.
Only when he registered what he had said did he realize that the question was a bit rude.
“Online?” Bai Yingting replied, and then he smiled again. “Professor Zhou, do you realize that words like ‘have I met you somewhere before?’ are outdated pick-up lines?”
Zhou Qing’s face immediately turned red. He moved aside. “My apologies… Professor Bai, please come in!”
“Actually, don’t you think calling each other professor Bai and professor Zhou back and forth is a bit overly courteous?”
“Huh?” Zhou Qing could not process this in his shock.
If not “professor,” then what should he call him? Mr. Bai?
“Also…” Bai Yingting suddenly approached Zhou Qing. A clear view of his handsome face filled Zhou Qing’s vision, causing Zhou Qing to freeze up with his mind blanking out. “I was just joking when I called your words a pick-up line, yet you’re blushing. It looks like professor Zhou has never been in love before.”
Bai Yingting was very tall, the type with long legs and slender hands. Zhou Qing, standing in front of him at one meter and seventy-five centimeters, was half a head shorter. Bai Yingting was different from the stoic scholar with low EQ; he had an elegant and sophisticated demeanor. A man like him who was also highly intelligent should be very popular with women.
In order to see Zhou Qing’s expression clearly, Bai Yingting deliberately leaned down, appearing like he was looking at a child who had misbehaved. At that distance, the beautiful shape of his eyes appeared up close in front of Zhou Qing, as well as his slightly upturned eyelashes that were like a butterfly on the verge taking flight.
“You jest, professor Bai.” Zhou Qing turned around and said, “I’ll make you tea.”
Zhou Qing’s heart was racing.
It seemed that ever since he had first heard Bai Yingting’s voice, his heartbeat no longer belonged to him.
Once he finished steeping the tea and brought it out, he saw Bai Yingting with his hands clasped behind his back and his head stuck half-outside the window. He seemed to be watching something.
Zhou Qing put down the teacup and came to Bai Yingting’s side. Following his line of sight, he found that what he was looking at was a small flower growing from a crack in the wall.
It seemed fragile, yet it swayed against the wind. Free under the sun, it grew just as brilliantly without any admirers.
“This is my favorite place for the living things of this world,” Bai Yingting said.
“Growing in the harshest and most difficult of conditions, it may be weak or barren, but whatever living conditions nature has given it, it will push them to the limit.” Bai Yingting turned to the side.
There was the faint smell of grass on his body. Zhou Qing has never smelled it on anyone else before.
“Have some tea, Professor Bai,” Zhou Qing said.
“Alright.” Bai Yingting smiled.
His smile was light and easy.
Zhou Qing found that although the lines of Bai Yingting’s features were far less exquisite and refined than that of the S rank organism, when Bai Yingting smiled, their similarity level multiplied.
They talked about their theories on the evolution of plants; Bai Yingting shared many of Zhou Qing’s views. Not only that, but he also guided Zhou Qing on how to systematize his ideas to become more persuasive. If he had written that paper together with Bai Yingting, there probably would not be so much contention on his point of view.
When Zhou Qing’s stomach rumbled, Bai Yingting raised up his hand to look at his wristwatch and found that it was ten o’clock in the evening.
“Oh dear, we’ve talked for so long! You probably haven’t had supper yet, professor Bai!” Zhou Qing’s eyes widened. He and Bai Yingting were getting along so well that they had lost track of time.
“That’s alright. What’s in your fridge?” Bai Yingting got up.
“How can I let you cook, professor Bai? Let’s…”
Bai Yingting smiled. “At this hour, the restaurants nearby must be closed. Can professor Zhou, who often stays in the lab 24 hours a day, cook?”
Zhou Qing started feeling embarrassed again.
Bai Yingting opened the refrigerator and found that other than eggs, there were only a few mushrooms and potatoes inside.
This made Zhou Qing self-conscious again. To Bai Yingting, he’d probably left the impression of not knowing how to live properly.
“We can make scrambled egg pancakes.” Saying that, Bai Yingting took two eggs from the fridge.
“You’re making it for me? How can I let you do that! Professor Bai, you’re a guest, why don’t I…”
Before Zhou Qing could finish speaking, Bai Yingting approached him again. The depth of his eyes made Zhou Qing feel weightless.
“Does professor Zhou not even know how to stir-fry eggs with tomatoes?”
“I… I…” Zhou Qing wanted to say that he could make it, but he truly couldn’t.
Most of the time, he ate in the lab first before returning to his dormitory. Back when Zhou Yu had been there, Zhou Yu was the one who had bought vegetables and cooked. Even the eggs in the refrigerator had been left behind by Zhou Yu.
In the end, Zhou Qing really was an idiot in terms of his lifestyle.
“Oh, so professor Zhou can make it? Then, is it the tomatoes or the eggs that are fried first?” Bai Yingting asked again.
His smile was slightly mischievous, but there wasn’t any intention to mock or look down on Zhou Qing. It even seemed like he had known Zhou Qing for a long time and was very naturally joking with him.
Zhou Qing opened and closed his mouth but didn’t know how to answer.
Bai Yingting reached out and swiped Zhou Qing’s nose.
It was as if a feather had flitted across his heart; Zhou Qing’s pulse and breath skipped a beat.
“Professor Zhou, you have dark circles under your eyes. Why don’t you sleep for a while and we’ll have dinner together in ten minutes?”
“Oh, thank you…”
Zhou Qing did not leave the kitchen, but stood not too far away, staring at Bai Yingting’s back.
His wrists formed an elegant arc as he tapped lightly on the edge of a bowl, the eggs sliding into it. Even though he was working with common ingredients, his entire body radiated a noble demeanor.
When the scrambled egg pancake was slid onto a plate, Bai Yingting turned around and watched Zhou Qing with a smile. “Professor Zhou, why didn’t you go rest?”
“I’m learning from you.” Zhou Qing found an excuse for having stared at Bai Yingting the whole time.
Bai Yingting walked over to Zhou Qing’s side with a smile. “Then have a taste of my cooking and see if it’s worth learning.”
They sat down at the dinner table and Bai Yingting handed Zhou Qing some chopsticks.
The egg pancake was very simple and without rich seasonings, but Zhou Qing felt the tenderness of the egg and the fragrance of the shiitake mushrooms on the first bite.
He had not been taken care of like this for a long time. Warmth welled up in his heart.
“Originally, my research team had wanted to invite you to the Kekashen mountains for a biology expedition next month, but I heard that you’ve just had an operation, and that sort of environment would not be suitable for you. It truly is a pity.”
“The Kekashen mountains?” Zhou Qing’s eyes lit up.
It was a paradise on earth that had just recently been discovered by an exploration team. As no one else had been there prior, it maintained a relatively complete natural landscape. Because of its closed-off ecosystem, many new species were discovered.
But no matter how interesting or rare the creatures of the Kekashen mountains were, Zhou Qing had already seen the world of Nibelungen.
“Yes, the Kekashen mountains. But it doesn’t matter, we can go together when professor Zhou’s health recovers.”
Zhou Qing knew clearly that his tumor could not be cured. If he were to die in this world, then he would prefer that it be in a place like the Kekashen mountains.
He and Bai Yingting got along so well that he even thought that if they were to work together, then they could work at twice the efficiency with half the time. If, one day, he were to die, then maybe only Bai Yingting could continue his research.
But Nibelungen… that world was too dangerous. How could he put Bai Yingting in such a dangerous situation? And even if he were to recommend Bai Yingting to Juli Corp, he might not be accepted.
Over the next few days, when Zhou Qing and Bai Yingting weren’t in the lab, they were drinking tea on the balcony of Zhou Qing’s dormitory, discussing each other’s opinions. Sometimes their argument would turn quite fierce in a collision of views, but no matter what, Bai Yingting always maintained his gentlemanly demeanor. He was able to push Zhou Qing’s thinking to a broader level.
The second half of this chapter will be posted at a later time. Please read this novel on coffeetoobitter dot wordpress dot com 🙂
Meanwhile, Zhou Yu was finally being dispatched to Nibelungen on an assignment.
He and Wu Yun were taking six fresh recruits to Base 12 on a shuttle mission. The base was an older base that had been remodeled with reinforcements and was known as Juli Corp’s strongest fortress in the other world. In addition to the six newcomers, some of the other team members were stationed there.
Zhou Yu glanced at the list. It included Li Qian and Dr. Daniel’s names, as well as Zhou Qing’s.
This was both a blessing and a curse for Zhou Qing. The curse was that in that world, Zhou Qing had almost no way of protecting himself and was even being seduced by that S rank organism. The blessing was that if he didn’t go back to Nibelungen, then Zhou Qing’s brain tumor would recur sooner or later. The burden a human could bear was finite, and the brain also happened to be the most delicate part; it was unrealistic to repeatedly undergo surgery again and again.
The name next to Zhou Qing’s was that of a university professor called Bai Yingting.
Wu Yun stuck his head over. “Looks like there are a few dead weights again this time!”
Zhou Yu replied coolly, “aren’t you one too?”
Wu Yun was speechless. He, a seasoned veteran, had become a burden before Zhou Yu… This was a blow to his pride!
A week later, all personnel to be dispatched were picked up by Juli Corp.
When Zhou Qing and Dr. Daniel entered the shuttle cabin, Li Qian was already inside. He excitedly gave Zhou Qing a big hug.
But Zhou Qing looked past Li Qian’s shoulder and froze when he saw a tall and upright man with a warm temperament.
“P-Professor Bai?” Zhou Qing’s eyes widened in shock.
The man was Bai Yingting.
“You know each other?” Zhou Yu walked over and asked.
“Ye… yes.” Zhou Qing nodded.
Bai Yingting held out his hand to Zhou Yu. “Hello, Captain Zhou. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.”
Zhou Yu did not take his hand but scrutinized him with his gaze.
There was something special about the man’s temperament; the others who were also about to enter Nibelungen—even “old-timers” like Li Qian and Dr. Daniel, who were not on their first trip—were more or less extremely nervous at the moment. Only Professor Bai was calm and collected, as if he was just going over to another country’s academic conference.
“Hello.” A few seconds later, Zhou Yu took his hand.
Bai Yingting’s hand was steady and the temperature of his palm wasn’t too high, showing that he really wasn’t nervous.
“Professor Bai, were you also recruited by Juli Corp?” Zhou Qing couldn’t help asking.
“Yes. To be honest, when they found me, I didn’t believe in the world they were talking about. But when they told me that you had also joined the program, I decided to join too.” Bai Yingting replied.
Zhou Qing frowned and grabbed his arm. “Do you know how dangerous it is over there?! It’s completely different from the world you know!”
“I know,” Bai Yingting nodded. “Knowledge cannot be gained without a price. The more we know, the higher the cost. And it would be my greatest honor to work with you. You’re also looking forward to it in your heart, aren’t you?”
At that moment, Zhou Qing felt like Bai Yingting knew all of his thoughts. Bai Yingting patted Zhou Qing on the back of his hand to show that he didn’t need to be nervous. Only then did Zhou Qing realize that he had forgotten his manners and he quickly let go of him.
“I’m sorry, I…”
“It’s fine. I look forward to working with you, Professor Zhou.”
Bai Yingting’s smile had a soothing undertone. It seemed like no matter how nervous Zhou Qing got, he could always calm him down.
Zhou Yu watched in silence. He hadn’t left Zhou Qing’s side for long, so when had this Bai Yingting showed up? And Zhou Qing seemed to care a lot about him…
Dr. Cook came up to Zhou Yu and Wu Yun and handed them the information on Base 12.
When Zhou Yu saw that Song Zhi’s name was filled in the box for the base leader, his heart that had been left hanging in the air the whole time finally calmed down.
Song Zhi was still alive, which meant that Mo Ye had beaten the other night spirit.
Everyone entered the shuttle.
Just as Wu Yun was about to say something, Li Qian cut in. “Shut up!”
He preemptively stopped Wu Yun’s mouth from jinxing them. [T/N: lit. he preemptively blocked up Wu Yun’s crow’s beak.]
The shuttle was launched.
Li Qian closed his eyes, feeling just as nervous as last time.
Zhou Yu watched Professor Bai. He had his eyes closed as if he was resting.
The others who were traveling through the magnetic field for the first time were also very nervous. Occasionally, some of them would talk to each other, but their conversations would peter out due to the tension in the air.
Nearly an hour later, the shuttle suddenly stopped. The personnel in the cabin slowly went from being suspended in the air to regaining their sense of gravity.
Li Qian finally breathed out. “Did we arrive safely?”
When the safety devices were lifted, they all carefully sat up and looked around.
“We won’t open the hatch to find the base blown up again, right?” Li Qian was feeling uneasy.
Wu Yun chuckled, “your ability to jinx things is no worse than mine.” [T/N: the extent of your crow’s beak is not inferior to mine.]
Li Qian was speechless at having his words thrown back at him.
When the hatch slowly opened, Song Zhi was standing in front of them with his arms crossed.
He was just like before, wearing a meticulous suit and rimless glasses with an indifferent expression.
“Welcome to Base 12. I’m sure you all know Nibelungen’s laws of survival. I’m glad to see some old faces too.”
Song Zhi’s gaze landed on Zhou Yu, then he nodded.
When the dispatched personnel were assigned to their stations, Zhou Yu quickly followed behind Song Zhi.
Song Zhi knew what Zhou Yu’s goal was, and the two of them were silent the entire way. It was only when they got to a corridor where there were only the two of them did Song Zhi suddenly stop.
“Where’s Mo Ye?” Zhou Yu asked.
Song Zhi didn’t turn around.
“Are you sure you want to know where he is? I’m afraid you might regret knowing.”
“It’s not dead, is it? If it had died, then you wouldn’t be alive.” Zhou Yu’s frowned. He didn’t understand what Song Zhi was trying to say to him.
“Did you know that Base 12 is Juli Corp’s largest, best equipped, and most fortified base?”
“I heard from Dr. Cook.”
“It’s because there’s an S rank organism here.” Song Zhi answered.
Zhou Yu was silent. He had a feeling that what Song Zhi was about to say next wasn’t something he wanted to hear.
“His name is Mo Ye.”
The moment he uttered that name, Zhou Yu’s heart seemed to break open.
“What did you say? Mo Ye is a night spirit… an A rank organism…”
“Didn’t you know? S rank organisms can mimic any biological form. Not just humans, but also night spirits,” Song Zhi answered.
Zhou Yu’s heart thumped wildly like a volcanic eruption. After about a dozen seconds, it gradually calmed down.
He thought of the silver creature that had saved him when he fell into the Angel’s Horns, and the young man it had turned into after. It embraced him, and saved him.
He remembered that every time he was in critical danger, the young man would appear.
The past quickly replayed through Zhou Yu’s mind. The most subtle of expressions at the corner of his eye and the tip of the brow, the profound meaning behind his smile, his every action and movement, and Mo Ye’s large, innocent eyes… They were different.
“Do you not believe it?” Song Zhi asked.
Zhou Yu thought of each time that young man had appeared; whether it was when he had saved Zhou Yu at the Angel’s Horns, when he had taken Zhou Yu out of the nest of the silver overlord spiders, or when he had gotten rid of the bone gnawing worms in the observation station… he never appeared at the same time as Mo Ye. And whenever he left, Mo Ye would return to his side!
It was not a coincidence that he had been saved, because that young man was Mo Ye!
At the thought of Mo Ye sucking on his fingers, his blood started to surge up.
“Do you still want to see him?” Song Zhi asked.
“Of course.” Zhou Yu clenched his fists.
The little thing that had often nestled in his arms and was completely reliant on him… was actually an S rank organism! What was its purpose in doing this?
“If Mo Ye is an S rank organism, then how did you capture it?” Zhou Yu immediately thought of this problem.
Song Zhi, with his hands in his pockets, looked down and chuckled, “it’s because I told him that if he didn’t shoot himself, then the shuttle cabin you were in would disintegrate because I planted a code in it.”
“There were neurotoxins in the gun?” Zhou Yu asked.
“It’s neurotoxic to him… your spinal fluid.”
Song Zhi’s answer instantly enraged Zhou Yu.
He pulled up Song Zhi by his collar and slammed him against the wall. “You bastard! You took samples of my spinal fluid under the guise of an examination, saying that you were afraid I would be infected or parasitized. You were using it to deal with Mo Ye! Did you know that Mo Ye was an S rank organism a long time ago? You never told me! Did you do it on purpose?”
Song Zhi looked straight into Zhou Yu’s eyes without any evasion.
“Are you angry, Zhou Yu? How rare. At first, I didn’t know Mo Ye was an S rank organism, but later, I grew suspicious. But Zhou Yu, have you forgotten the purpose of S rank organisms that get close to humans?”
“So? Are you trying to say that I’m a source of nutrition to Mo Ye? That I’m his prey?”
“That, you’ll have to ask him in person… if he tells you the truth.” Song Zhi patted Zhou Yu on the back of his hand. “It’s not easy to iron a suit here.”
Zhou Yu let go of Song Zhi and said coldly, “I want to see him now.”
“Follow me,” Song Zhi smiled and said, “you’re different from everyone else here. Even if we instill in you the laws of survival, you still retain your own judgment.”
“It’s because you can’t be trusted. That’s why nothing you say is believable,” Zhou Yu replied.
“It seems like my integrity is in danger.” Song Zhi smiled. “But this is fine, too.”
“You won’t make the same mistake as me.” Song Zhi turned around. His words were always incomprehensible to Zhou Yu.
Zhou Yu followed Song Zhi through layer upon layer of guarded passageways.
Hi again, I’m wondering how readers feel about the chapter length and update speed. Your opinion would mean a lot!
Thanks for voting! I’ll be sticking to the original length.