Chapter 60: “Messenger”
Zhou Yu closed his eyes, quickly adjusting his emotions before turning and walking back to the base.
“Hey, Zhou Yu! What’s wrong?” Wu Yun asked.
Zhou Yu raised his hand but didn’t answer.
After passing through several checkpoints, he came to the innermost section.
Mo Ye was placidly sitting under the lights, holding a book in his hands. When he saw Zhou Yu coming to him, his lips slowly curved up and he slightly raised his chin, giving Zhou Yu the illusion that he was being looked up at by a powerful organism.
His facial features are finely detailed.
Such delicacy had nothing to do with femininity, but it caused Zhou Yu to trace over them subconsciously.
“Song Zhi said you want to see me.”
“Don’t go on the assignment,” Mo Ye replied.
“Dr. Turing no longer exists,” Mo Ye said.
“How do you know?”
When Zhou Yu finished asking the question, Mo Ye turned to the side and smiled.
“I know that Dr. Turing no longer exists, just as I know you were expecting me to kiss you last night.”
Zhou Yu’s fingers froze for a moment before they quickly stretched out.
“That wasn’t what I expected of you. It’s an illusion you created.”
“Maybe it was an illusion, but it doesn’t have to be made by me.” Mo Ye stood up and came in front of Zhou Yu. His gaze sank down. “Don’t go, Zhou Yu.”
That “don’t go” was a deeply tender cry in Zhou Yu’s mind, but Zhou Yu forced his emotions to disengage from it.
“The search for Dr. Turing has nothing to do with whether Dr. Turing is still alive.” Zhou Yu turned to leave.
He knew Mo Ye remained standing in place, looking at him, but he did not hesitate for even a moment.
He got in the helicopter, and Wu Yun, sitting opposite him, asked, “hey, what’s wrong?”
“Wu Yun, be careful on this assignment,” Zhou Yu said.
Wu Yun’s expression turned somber. He lowered his head and whispered, “did Song Zhi say anything to you?”
“It wasn’t Song Zhi, but Mo Ye. He said Dr. Turing no longer exists.”
“We really are going to meet a ghost then… How did his vital signs come through?” Wu Yun tugged at the corners of his mouth. “And even if I wanted to be careful, what’s the use of being careful when bringing along all these newbies?”
On this assignment, Zhou Yu and Wu Yun were each bringing along three people. They were very clear on the fact that the ones who could survive this task were the ones Juli Corp wanted. In Nibelungen, Juli Corp would not give anyone time to grow up or adapt. Everything was survival of the fittest.
When Zhou Yu closed his eyes to concentrate, a voice sounded in his mind.
“Once you leave the range of my abilities, I can’t protect you, Zhou Yu.”
Zhou Yu clenched his fists.
“It may be a way for you to protect me, but for me, it’s being under control.” Zhou Yu replied in his heart.
If Mo Ye had had this ability since the beginning, then did it mean that every minute they were together, he was like an open book from which Mo Ye could easily read?
“Even if you know it’s dangerous and you know the most likely outcome, you will still do what you think is right. I won’t stop you, but I will bear responsibility for the final outcome with you.”
Looking out of the window, the base was completely out of sight.
And Mo Ye’s voice never sounded again.
Maybe he had always existed in Zhou Yu’s head, quietly deciphering Zhou Yu’s mind and silently observing everything that belonged to him.
The helicopter came to an expanse of dense, rolling mountains overlaid with green vegetation and lush plants. The helicopter could not find a landing point.
“This environment… looks even thornier than the primeval forest we went through the first time.” Wu Yun glanced at the location device on his wrist. “Dr. Turing should be in this area.”
Wu Yun clapped his hands and said to his team members, “children, we’re going down here. To be honest, I didn’t expect Juli Corp to send you all to such a dangerous place. As your senior, the only thing I can remind you of is—this assignment is deadly.”
With that, Wu Yun slid down along the rope, closely followed by his team members.
Zhou Yu looked down and could not see anything except for the branches being pushed down by the wind from the helicopter’s blades.
After Wu Yun’s team dropped to the ground, they immediately organized their defense. They carried guns and paid close attention to their surrounding situation.
There were very few creatures visible in the forest, which surprised Wu Yun a little. There was the light fragrance of plants in the air, and the oxygen quality was fresher than that of the base. It made one feel as if every cell in the body was being mellowed out.
But the more harmless it seemed, the more dangerous it was.
Dr. Turing was here. If it really was as safe as it seemed, then he would have left long ago. Why would he send out a signal months later?
Wu Yun’s past experiences told him that something must be lying dormant under the tranquility, and with them as its prey.
Half a minute later, Zhou Yu was still waiting at the entrance of the cabin, not intending to go down.
A member of the team could not help but ask, “Instructor Zhou… We… “
Zhou Yu simply raised a hand and clenched it into a fist, signaling them to stay on standby.
This was the tacit understanding that he and Wu Yun had formed a long time ago. Before each assignment, they would play rock-paper-scissors and the loser would lead the team down first to scout. If nothing dangerous happened, then the second team would go down. This was done to avoid total annihilation if they were to encounter dangerous organisms.
More than a dozen seconds later, Wu Yun’s message came. “Come down now, but on orange alert.”
Zhou Yu turned back to his team and announced the orange alert. Then he quickly grabbed the rope and slid down from above. He was very worried about Wu Yun.
The other team members gulped. They thought that when Wu Yun had said at the beginning that the task was deadly, it was just to get their attention, but issuing an “orange alert” was no joke. This meant that the assessment of the environment was concluded to be “dangerous.”
They followed close behind, the two teams smoothly converging.
But when they dropped into the forest, they found that there was a complete stillness, without so much as an E rank organism.
There weren’t the calls of insects or birds. Even though the vegetation was lush, it also gave off the feeling of a ghost town.
Wu Yun raised his hand, indicating that Dr. Turing’s signal was coming from ahead.
Zhou Yu nodded but did not go forward. He carefully observed the things around him. The trees here were not tall comparatively in Nibelungen and almost completely covered in vines. Zhou Yu’s eyes narrowed, and he quickly gave instructions. “Hold your breaths and put on your breathing masks!”
Without any hesitation, Wu Yun immediately took out his mask. But there was one person who was a step too slow.
The concentration of the sweet fragrance in the air suddenly went up, and a team member beside Zhou Yu had his gaze go slack. Before he could put on his breathing mask, he dropped it, and it was caught by Zhou Yu. He walked forward sluggishly, and the other two team members quickly grabbed him.
But he was so strong that they could hardly stop him, and his expression appeared obsessed. His team members quickly put on the mask for him, but it didn’t seem to help.
Wu Yun directly went up and punched him, almost knocking out his teeth. He wobbled to his feet and walked towards a tree entwined with vines.
Zhou Yu had once almost been captured by the same kind of organism. It wouldn’t be easy to kill. Even if they weren’t enthralled by the scent of the plant or if they resisted its illusion, they could still be attacked directly. The vines were powerful, and they seemed to be growing all over the forest. Even if they were to empty out their bullets, they might not be able to escape.
Zhou Yu immediately took out a tranquilizer bullet and shot it.
A light yellow gas was dispersed and the fragrance gradually weakened. The vines that were about to extend to them retracted, but the effects didn’t last very long. Even if they were to use up all the tranquilizer bullets they carried, they still couldn’t hold it off for long enough until the mission ended.
Zhou Yu issued a task cancellation order to the helicopter.
But the response was “rejected.”
“Those bastards,” Wu Yun gave a cold snort, “when we’re all dead, let’s see who they’ll send then.”
“Forget it,” was all Zhou Yu said.
“Sorry, I already finished saying what I shouldn’t have said.”
They could only move forward. Looking down a long crevice in the valley, there was no light shining through, as if it was an invitation into the abyss of hell.
“I hate assignments like going into caves and valleys.” Wu Yun still remembered that he and Zhou Yu had nearly died in the underground cave where Elpis was growing last time.
They couldn’t rush in. If something dangerous were to happen, they wouldn’t have room to move around in, and it might be the nest of some dangerous organism.
Just as Zhou Yu hesitated, they suddenly heard the sound of some creatures running over to them at high speed.
“Perytons!” one of the team members called out.
How did the perytons find them? They could only identify prey through the hormones in the air produced by their fear, but the whole team’s inhibitors were still working!
The herd of perytons was still a few dozen meters away from them. But to creatures like them, a few dozen meters was nothing.
Zhou Yu took the rifle off his back, loaded it quickly, and aimed. In the blink of an eye, he fired two or three shots, each one hitting bullseye.
The rest of the team finally recovered from their shock, and they picked up their guns and started shooting too.
When the perytons at the front dropped down, the perytons behind it came rushing up.
“Damn it! What the hell is going on here?” Wu Yun immediately contacted the helicopter and requested support.
The moment the helicopter let down its rope, their team members jumped up without regard for the situation, quickly pulling themselves up the rope.
If it weren’t a waste of bullets, Wu Yun would have really liked to shoot them one by one!
A peryton rushed at them. Its tail quickly swept over, and Zhou Yu dropped backwards. Its tail brushed the tip of Zhou Yu’s nose, and the extended barb flashed across his eyes. After Zhou Yu fell down, he immediately sidestepped and dodged. On the other side, Wu Yun watched him, shell-shocked.
The peryton’s tail swept at the team members who were climbing up the rope into the helicopter, causing them to fall off and die miserably. Then the rope broke. Only two team members had climbed high enough and the other two fell.
He saw a peryton rush at Wu Yun at a speed that could not be avoided.
“Get down!” Zhou Yu yelled.
Wu Yun dropped down without saying a word. The peryton’s legs just missed Wu Yun’s head as they stepped over. When it was about to lower its head and bite Wu Yun’s leg, Zhou Yu shot it.
The peryton was shot down and its head fell on Wu Yun.
At that moment, Zhou Yu’s mind was exceptionally calm. The peryton just now had known where Wu Yun was, as if it could see!
What the hell was going on here?
Zhou Yu’s eyes scanned the area. He found that from some time ago, several blue and purple birds had perched on the tree. These birds were the size of hummingbirds, with red eyes. They hid among the leaves of the tree, not making a single peep or any movements. They merely looked at Zhou Yu. If one wasn’t paying attention, they would have gone unnoticed.
The information Elpis had passed on to Zhou Yu quickly flashed through his mind. He suddenly realized why those perytons couldn’t feel their fear but could still accurately lock onto their position!
The birds were B rank organisms. They weren’t aggressive, but they had the special ability to connect their vision and hearing with other creatures! So the reason why the perytons could “see” was because of the existence of those birds! They were called “messengers.”
Just as Wu Yun climbed out from under the dead peryton, another came.
The two fallen team members found that the helicopter had risen, and losing the possibility of evacuation, they took out their guns and started shooting at the perytons that were approaching.
They started to panic.
The target of Zhou Yu’s aim wasn’t the perytons, but the “messengers.”
He shot one down, and the rest flew away in a flurry of wings.
At the same time, those single-minded perytons seemed to panic and lose their sense of direction. Several of them were taken down.
But the “messengers” lingered in the sky, and the perytons regained their sight.
In a normal situation, any creature that feels threatened would flee, especially when Zhou Yu had killed one of them. However, these birds remained somewhere where they could see them clearly. There was only one possibility—that these birds were targeting Zhou Yu and the rest of them!
It was unrealistic to get rid of the birds one by one.
Zhou Yu took out another sedative bomb and threw it at them with all his strength.
The anesthetic gas was quickly released, and the birds fell from the air, flailing.
The perytons, on the other hand, lost their sense of direction and trampled several birds to death.
They looked at the scene in surprise. The remaining two team members could not help but ask, “Instructor Zhou… Do these birds have anything to do with the perytons?”
Zhou Yu got rid of the last peryton and said in a cold voice, “these birds and the perytons are all being manipulated by some higher-ranking organism.”
“Perytons can’t see or hear, but they are strong at attacking. That organism was manipulating the perytons to attack us, and at the same time, it was also manipulating the birds—the “messengers,”—to share their sight and direct the perytons. I have to say that this organism is definitely A rank or above.”
Just like how Elpis could manipulate the swordbone butterflies and the devil vines.
Just then, there was a boom in the sky.
A flock of giant, six-eyed birds rushed to the helicopter in the sky. These giant birds were the same as those Zhou Yu had met at the Angel’s Horns.
The helicopter released sonic blasts, pushing back one giant bird after another.
Some of the giant birds dropped down and couldn’t move because of serious injuries; others flew far away and then recklessly charged at the helicopter again, wave after wave.
They didn’t seem like they would stop until they struck the helicopter down.
The helicopter had to evacuate quickly.
The two team members who didn’t make it up into the helicopter madly chased after it.
“Wait for us—Hey!”
“Asshole! Take us with you!”
If the helicopter were to leave, then they’d be left behind in this hellish place.
“Those two fools!” Wu Yun was so enraged that his teeth itched.
“Careful!” Zhou Yu yelled.
A giant bird in the sky who had been chasing after the helicopter suddenly dove down, opened its beak, and was about to seize one of the two team members.
Zhou Yu rushed up and knocked one of them down.
The other one was snatched up. Fortunately, Wu Yun made a snap decision and shot it.
It opened its beak and dropped down.
Although the team member also fell down and rolled a few times to a stop, he wasn’t seriously injured other than suffering a fright.
Other giant birds, as if inspired, swooped down one after the other.
The other team member who had been knocked down by Zhou Yu was dumbstruck. Even though he was a seasoned veteran in the other world, he’d never before experienced such a scene.
Zhou Yu pulled him up. “Run—”
Wu Yun and the other person immediately set off and ran like crazy.
There was nowhere to hide in the forest.
Even though Zhou Yu knew at the bottom of his heart that the giant birds were also being controlled by some kind of organism hiding nearby and intentionally forcing them, they had nowhere to retreat and could only rush into the crevice in the valley.
Those giant birds tried to follow them in, but they were so big that they could only put their beaks in and peck at them in a frenzy, alarming Zhou Yu and the others to retreat even deeper inside.
When the two team members were still looking up at the long beaks of the giant birds in a daze, Wu Yun had already turned around. “Guard your back! Idiots!”
It was pitch-black behind them, as if there was some monster about to rush out.
Zhou Yu and Wu Yun took out light sticks and shook them. There was finally some light in the pitch-black crevice.
At the same time, those giant birds saw that Zhou Yu and the rest had gone too far away for them to catch and retreated.
But this was not the end. The vines, awakened from the anesthesia, started to move and twist, layer over layer, sealing the entrance to the crevice.
“Fuck…” Wu Yun gnashed his teeth.
He and Zhou Yu could now confirm that they’d completely fallen into the trap of that organism.
As the vines continued to spread, Zhou Yu knew that they could only move a few hundred meters away. One of the team members took out a dagger and wanted to chop at the vines, but Zhou Yu stopped him.
“Don’t waste your effort. It won’t cut.”
Unless, like Zhou Yu’s last experience, they were dragged into the abdominal cavity of a certain kind of tree and given a fatal blow. Once they became entangled, they would have an almost zero chance of even holding a dagger.
They had no choice but to continuously retreat to avoid the vines.
Their hearts were beating wildly. No one knew what was waiting for them ahead.
Zhou Yu’s finger was always on the trigger, and each step was a step towards hell.
Gradually, they heard the faint sound of water flowing.
The narrow crevice widened.
A “crack” came from beneath Wu Yun’s feet, as if he had stepped on something.
He looked down and found that it was a sampler.
Wu Yun picked it up.
Zhou Yu made a gesture, meaning, did Dr. Turing leave that behind?
Wu Yun shrugged his shoulders, indicating that he didn’t know.
Samplers all looked the same.
Zhou Yu also looked down at the location device, which showed that Dr. Turing’s locator was still ahead.
They entered into defensive mode, Zhou Yu and Wu Yun sandwiching the two team members from the front and back.
As the space in front of them grew more and more spacious, they could even hear the sound of water flowing.
If there was water, then there was very likely to be an exit at the other end!
When Wu Yun’s light stick flashed by, they were astonished to find that there was some kind of creature bowing down at the water’s edge to drink water.
The fellow had a sharp nose and was covered with scales all over its body.
It had almost no pupils and a pair of eyes that were almost all white, which gave the two team members following Zhou Yu a fright.
Zhou Yu searched his mind for what this creature was and what characteristics it possessed.
But Zhou Yu found that he did not have the slightest impression of it. It did not belong in the memory that Elpis had passed on to Zhou Yu.
The four of them momentarily did not know what to do.
Zhou Yu raised his hand and clenched it into a fist. Everyone held their breaths and did not move.
Zhou Yu narrowed his eyes and observed the organism carefully. It looked like a giant lizard, but it had no tail.
They stood there for a long time, but it did not respond. Zhou Yu suspected that it had no sight. Maybe it had lived in a dark cave for so long that its vision degenerated. In the human world, such creatures would usually have sharp hearing. However, when Zhou Yu and the rest came walking over, it was impossible that they had not made a single sound along the way. This creature had not followed the sound; was it the same as a peryton?
Uncertain, Zhou Yu picked up a stone from the ground and threw it to the other side. It hit the stone wall with a loud crack.
But the lizard-like creature didn’t move its head even a hairsbreadth.
Just when Zhou Yu thought it hunted in the same way as the peryton, a small creature that was chasing a fast-moving insect came scuttling out.