Chapter 68.2 Savage expansion (1)
With thoughts of the novel in mind, Lin Zhaohe wanted to engage in a casual conversation with Zhuang Lao. He knocked on the door of Zhuang Lao’s office and heard a voice inviting him in before entering. Upon pushing the door open, he saw several people seated in Zhuang Lao’s office, all wearing serious expressions, except for Zhuang Lao.
Lin Zhaohe didn’t expect him to be in a meeting, where everyone present was a stranger. He planned to say “pardon” and quietly close the door, but Zhuang Lao raised his chin at him and said, “Take a seat.” With that, Lin Zhaohe’s retreat was blocked.
Lin Zhaohe silently cursed himself for not realizing that a meeting was taking place and reluctantly complied, taking a seat next to Zhuang Lao.
“Mr. Zhuang, the current situation is extremely critical. We suggest that you evacuate as soon as possible,” said the leader, a middle-aged man in his forties or fifties, appearing dignified and seemingly holding a high position.
“Hmm,” Zhuang Lao responded. “Are you planning to abandon this area?”
“We are organizing manpower to go in,” the leader stated. “But based on the information we received, the situation is not favorable. There are multiple instances of high-level fusion occurring simultaneously. The only confirmed fusion from the overall environment is ‘Mist Day.’ I wonder if you are familiar with this work.”
Zhuang Lao replied, “I am familiar.”
Lin Zhaohe had also seen “Mist Day.” It was a typical disaster film that had enjoyed high box office success in its time. The basic premise revolved around a sudden global fog that triggered rampant growth of animals and plants, as if they were injected with catalysts. Fusion of such a disaster film was particularly troublesome because it was highly popular, had a significant environmental impact, and was fundamentally unsolvable. Unlike zombie movies, there was no cure or vaccine. It was simply nature going haywire, and humanity had no means to counter it.
“There are other works mixed in as well,” the leader furrowed his brow, appearing extremely pessimistic. “The team that went in a few days ago reported sightings of ‘Screaming Birds’ and ‘Shadow People.’ Furthermore, the deeper they ventured, the higher the fusion levels. Their last communication was yesterday afternoon, and they’ve been out of contact for nearly a day now.”
Going missing within the fusion zone meant an eighty percent chance that the individuals involved had been killed. It was almost an assumption.
The works mentioned by the person carried high levels of danger. ‘Shadow People’ was a thriller about monsters parasitizing human shadows. Dealing with them individually was already troublesome, let alone in an area heavily fused.
Lin Zhaohe felt a tinge of melancholy. Just last month, he was squatting on the corner of Min’an Street, slurping noodles, and now everything had changed. The lower areas of the fusion zone were diminishing, implying the constant compression of the human living space.
“Are we just going to give up like this?” Zhuang Lao asked.
“No, because the closer we get to the center, the more severe the fusion becomes. So, we suspect that something originated from the location of Min’an Street. If we can find and destroy the source, it might reduce the fusion levels. However, the difficulty is exceedingly high, and we can only do our best. Mr. Zhuang, we would be very grateful if you could provide assistance,” the leader politely expressed.
“I understand. I will also send someone to investigate, but I cannot make any guarantees.”
The leader nodded, visibly relieved. “If you send people inside, please search for any surviving civilians. The fusion occurred so suddenly that many residents couldn’t evacuate. It will be difficult for them to escape without external help.”
Zhuang Lao: “We will do our best.”
The leader nodded in acknowledgment.
The two of them conversed for a while, presumably discussing the current situation and personnel in the fusion zone. Lin Zhaohe perked up his ears, eager to listen. His pointy ears even pushed his hat up a bit higher.
Based on the information gathered so far, several top-notch teams had been sent in. Some teams were tasked with rescuing the citizens who hadn’t managed to evacuate yet, while others were venturing closer to the core area, hoping to locate the source of fusion. The best-case scenario would be to destroy the fusion source, at least halting the massive fusion of “Mist Days,” while the other fusions could be gradually resolved.
After listening, Lin Zhaohe couldn’t help but feel that the world was doomed.
After the leader left, Zhuang Lao turned to Lin Zhaohe and asked for his thoughts. Did he want to escape or brainstorm solutions?
“Of course, we need to find a solution,” Lin Zhaohe couldn’t bear to move away. The place he lived in held all the memories of happiness before the disaster struck. If he were to lose it, Lin Zhaohe wouldn’t be able to accept it.
“Lin Yan should go as well,” Zhuang Lao pondered. “But considering his current health condition, he might not go through the government channels. I’ll contact him from my end. If it’s convenient, let’s go together.”
Lin Zhaohe agreed.
The intact witch’s egg, brought back from the wasteland, sat on Zhuang Lao’s desk. According to the witch’s words, all they could do now was wait patiently until she regained her strength and took on a human form again. In the meantime, Lin Zhaohe had to live with his fuzzy little dog ears.
Due to the urgency, preparations proceeded swiftly.
Lin Zhaohe received their weapon from Yun Yuzi, who would also be joining them on this mission. She furrowed her brows, eyeing Lin Zhaohe for a while before saying, “Why are you wearing a hat on such a hot day?”
“I have my own purpose…” Lin Zhaohe began to say.
Before the sentence could be completed, his hat was lifted off.
Yun Yuzi stared at Lin Zhaohe’s fluffy little dog ears, her eyes widening. “Lin Zhaohe, where did you get those? They’re so cute! Can I touch them?”
There was no way Lin Zhaohe would agree to let someone touch his vulnerable spot. He firmly refused, saying it was a witch’s curse and that touching them would turn the person into a dog.
Yun Yuzi looked skeptical. “Turn into a dog? I heard that the boss recently got a little white dog. It wouldn’t have anything to do with you, right?”
Lin Zhaohe scoffed, “What does a dog have to do with me? The only time I’ve been a dog in my life is when I’ve been single.”
Yun Yuzi: “They say Chinese people don’t deceive their fellow Chinese.”
Lin Zhaohe: “I have something to attend to. I must go.”
Yun Yuzi: “……”
Half an hour later, with tears in his eyes, Lin Zhaohe, who had been exposed as a “little dog,” walked towards the path leading to the fusion zone alongside Yun Yuzi and Zhuang Lao. Zhuang Lao explained that the situation inside the fusion zone was highly unusual, so they needed to prepare not only weapons but also food and drinking water. Once inside, they might have to stay for ten days or half a month, and there would be no place to replenish their supplies.
Lin Zhaohe was obedient and carried a backpack full of food. He cracked sunflower seeds as he walked forward.
During the few hours they stayed in the office, the scope of the fusion zone expanded. As they left the company, they could already see a faint mist floating around them. Soon, the mist would become denser, and at the same time, the surrounding plants and animals would mutate at an astonishing speed.
Currently, the mutations had not yet become apparent, but Lin Zhaohe could clearly sense that the nearby trees had suddenly grown much taller. The once bright sky was now obscured by layers of tree canopies, allowing only a few faint rays of sunlight to filter through the gaps.
The grass by their feet made a rustling sound, resembling a gentle breeze at first. However, upon careful listening, it became evident that it was not the sound of the wind but the constant growth of the vegetation.
There were hardly any pedestrians on the road anymore. Most people had quickly evacuated the fusion zone after receiving the notification. They had become accustomed to this nomadic way of life, where one day they would stay in their homes, and the next day they would have to find a new place to survive. Individuals like Lin Zhaohe, who had lived in the fusion zone for three years without moving, were considered exceptional miracles.
Min’an Street was a street that Lin Zhaohe was very familiar with.
The street food stalls there were Lin Zhaohe’s favorite hangout spot during university. The prices were cheap, and the food was delicious. Back then, whenever he received his remuneration, he would invite friends, find a familiar stall, and enjoy a table full of good dishes and several cases of beer until they were drunk. Those cherished memories now felt like a distant past. As Lin Zhaohe walked further towards Min’an Street, the surroundings became increasingly desolate, and he could already see signs of fusion.
The once bustling high-rises nearby were covered in dense vines, as if this disaster had been going on for years. However, only he knew that it had been just a matter of a few weeks, and an entire city seemed on the verge of destruction.
The fog had become extremely dense, making it impossible to see anything beyond five meters. The ground was covered in tangled vines and various wild grasses. Even the grass had undergone mutations, with their leaves becoming razor-sharp, almost like blades. If it weren’t for the specially reinforced pants Lin Zhaohe was wearing, his legs would have been cut and bleeding by now.
The three of them were fully armed from head to toe, wearing protective face masks. However, as they ventured further into the area, Lin Zhaohe’s heart grew colder. They were still only at the outskirts, yet the fusion intensity seemed to rival that of an S-level disaster. It had become entirely inhospitable for humans in the three-dimensional world.
As they continued walking, Lin Zhaohe’s personal communicator buzzed. He looked down and saw it was a video call from Lin Yan.
With a beep, Lin Yan’s soft and round face appeared on the screen. “Lin Zhaohe, where are you guys?”
Lin Zhaohe: “We just entered, probably around the area where the Baiyun Mall used to be. How about you?”
Lin Yan: “Then stay where you are, I’ll come over right away.” While he spoke, there were voices in the background shouting at Lin Yan, telling him to be careful not to fall off.
Upon closer inspection, Lin Zhaohe realized that Lin Yan’s height seemed off. It appeared as if he was speaking while sitting on someone’s neck. The voice also sounded remarkably similar to Mr. Li. Could it be that Lin Yan was riding on Mr. Li’s shoulders?
Lin Zhaohe couldn’t help but feel incredulous. How was it possible for Mr. Li to let Lin Yan ride on his shoulders?
The call ended, and Yun Yuzi asked, “Who was that?”
Lin Zhaohe hesitated for a moment before saying it was his younger sister. He knew Yun Yuzi was also from the same city, and if by any chance she had lost loved ones due to Lin Yan’s actions, it might lead to some objections.
“Younger sister?” Yun Yuzi questioned with suspicion. “How come I never knew you had a younger sister?”
Lin Zhaohe replied, “It’s a long story…”
Zhuang Lao, who had been spectating, suddenly changed his expression and solemnly said, “Something is coming.”
Lin Zhaohe asked, “What?” The surroundings were eerily quiet, except for the occasional chirping of birds. However, Zhuang Lao’s warnings were never baseless. Soon enough, Lin Zhaohe also heard strange sounds, buzzing from above, causing an unsettling sensation.
“Why does it sound like mosquitoes?” Yun Yuzi’s face turned unpleasant.
Lin Zhaohe’s face turned grim. “It’s indeed mosquitoes—”
In the distance, a dark mist emerged, surging forward and covering the sky. Upon closer inspection, one would discover it was a swarm of densely packed mosquitoes descending from above. Their numbers were astonishingly vast, and they were larger than normal mosquitoes. Yun Yuzi pulled out a flamethrower and unleashed a frenzy of flames upon the swarm. However, their numbers were too great, rendering the flamethrower ineffective. The nozzle quickly became clogged as well.
“Run!” Lin Zhaohe exclaimed. “There’s a building ahead! Let’s take shelter inside!” Not far from them stood a high-rise building that still appeared intact. Taking refuge there should offer some respite.
The three of them dashed towards the high-rise building. Lin Zhaohe pulled open the unlocked door, and they quickly took cover inside.
The densely packed swarm of mosquitoes followed closely behind, with most of them blocked by the doors and windows. Only a few managed to stick to their bodies and enter along with them. These mosquitoes attempted to fly in through the gaps in the door, but their numbers were not too significant, allowing everyone to breathe a sigh of relief.
Lin Zhaohe slapped the mosquitoes on his body, coughing incessantly. He felt immensely grateful for being fully armed, otherwise, he might have been drained dry.
Yun Yuzi had a few bites on her wrist, quickly swelling into walnut-sized bumps. She hastily sprayed medicine on them and used a scarf to cover the exposed area on her wrist.
Lin Zhaohe, however, wasn’t so lucky. When Zhuang Lao looked at him, tears had welled up in his eyes.
“What’s wrong?” Zhuang Lao was somewhat puzzled by his intense reaction.
Lin Zhaohe took off his head covering, revealing a swollen mosquito bite on his furry ear. It was painful and itchy, almost driving him crazy.
“I got bitten on the ear,” Lin Zhaohe lamented with great distress. He thought to himself, “Why did it have to bite my ear? Of all places, it had to choose the most sensitive one. Now, I can’t even touch it. It feels like having twenty mosquito bites on the soles of my feet that I can’t scratch.”
If you enjoy this novel, support the Translator ginevre on her ko-fi account :))