IWOL Chapter 126: Safe House

Dong Zheng raced all the way towards the cabin. He drove too hard. The side of the hover car made a loud noise and shook violently. It seemed to have hit a rock, but Dong Zheng didn’t care. They were already prepared to abandon the vehicle and escape at any time.

The hut’s silhouette finally came into view. Dong Zheng hurriedly stopped the car, which ended up drifting forward and throwing everyone against the car’s interior wall.

“Go go go!” He slammed the car door open, pushed the console from the cab away, and threw himself out into the snow. Cui Zuojing was dizzy from the drifting. He shook his head and jumped off the roof. Running ahead of everyone and struggling to advance several meters in waist-deep snow, he reached the hut first and kicked the door opened.

The safe house’s door was half-buried in snow. The moment the door opened, snow poured inside, pushing him inward.

Dong Zheng rushed in, followed by Allen. Dong Linhai pulled Wang Que after him, and finally Lin Hangzhi hurried in. Dong Zheng tried his best to push the door close. Regardless of whether it was useful or not, he pushed his back against the door and inserted the door latch.

In the communication channel, there were only the sounds of people panting violently one after another. Wang Que leaned against the wall, watching with horror as a layer of black bugs hit the window, instantly blocking the light streaming in from outside.

The swarms of insects following the hover car came one after another. They crawled along the wall and covered the entire house. The flying insects droned forward and hit the windows and their companions, creating layer after layer of bugs and engulfing the cabin into a squirming, black mass .

The cabin became dark.

The popping sound of insect exoskeletons colliding was still ringing one after another. Wang Que almost went crazy. The will of the insect swarm surrounded her, but because the number was too large, she couldn’t control them at all.

No matter how much she endured the nausea and gave the order for them to leave as soon as possible, countless insects still gathered.

They turned on the lights on their protective clothing, and the interlacing light illuminated everything in the cabin. Lin Hangzhi had guessed correctly. This was indeed a safe house.

The square-shape room only had a door and a window. The door was locked from the inside. Considering that this was a safe house, the bugs outside should not be able to get in for a while. The windows were tightly covered with insects, and from inside, they could clearly see the abdomen of countless small black beetles, as well as their densely packed feet.

Otherwise, there was nothing in the room.

Allen sat down on the ground, took off his helmet, and wiped the cold sweat from his face.

After discovering that it was spider silk that was sticking to him, Allen became very nervous. This was a box that they could die at anytime and anywhere. Any accident would definitely lead to a series of chain reactions.

Fortunately, with the help of his companions, he managed to break free.

The protective clothing allowed them to maintain a comfortable 20 degree Celsius temperature. Now, after taking off their helmets, their beads of sweat were starting to freeze on their faces.

Cui Zuojing turned around in the house and was roughly certain that the only visible exit was the door. He said, “So, how are we going out?”

Dong Zheng pinched his eyebrows tiredly and sat on the ground with his back against the wall. Then, he thought of the many bugs on the other side of the wall and moved to the center of the room. “I don’t know.”

Cui Zuojing sat down when he saw this and said, “Okay, let’s rest for awhile and think of a way.”

He was silent for a moment, thinking of the thrilling event just now, and he couldn’t help but wonder, “The thermal radar on the car couldn’t detect a spider that big?”

Dong Zheng shook his head. “There are no traces of any creatures on the radar. Otherwise we wouldn’t have directly hit the spider’s web.”

Lin Hangzhi said, “They live in a low temperature environment for a long time. Their body temperature must have evolved and adapted to be the same as their surroundings. Of course, traditional bio-radars using thermal sensors wouldn’t work.”

Allen’s glove still had a length of spider silk and a small part of the car’s front bumper attached to it. He didn’t dare touch it, for fear that the spider silk would attach to his other hand or to some other places.

Dong Linhai and Lin Hangzhi were helping him figure out how to get rid of the spider silk. Dong Linhai frowned and said, “It’s such a huge spider. Even if photosynthetic lower lifeforms could support the food chain, how can it grow so big? It would need innumerable amounts of food and would need to eat often.”

“In such a harsh environment, there are still such top predators. They must have evolved a very complete food chain.” Lin Hangzhi added, “Spiders use venom to turn the bones of their food into juices and then suck it out. This means that they are just like whales of the sea, who are unable to feed on the phytoplankton and krill at the bottom of the food chain. The more complex the food chain and the more an organism moved beyond the middle range, the less efficient its energy conversion. In this way, the spider’s age may be beyond our imagination.”

Dong Zheng said, “Even if the food chain is perfect, it’s impossible for such a creature to grow so large. I personally leaned toward another important factor, such as….our destination, the Institute of Biochemistry.”

Allen said, “You mean, after humans fell asleep, the chemical at the Institute of Biochemistry leaked, causing these bugs to mutate?”

Lin Hangzhi nodded in agreement. With a wry smile, he said, “This is the most likely scenario. Even if the insects have very tenacious vitalities, it’s impossible for so many to survive in the ice age. What’s more, the box will definitely cause us some trouble. If it is biochemical pollution, there will be trouble in the future.”

“It’s really an advanced version of Resident Evil,” Dong Linhai exclaimed. “No wonder the box gave us so many weapons.”

“Okay, guys. No more talking about trivial matters.” Cui Zuojing reminded them, “Even in a safe room, absolute safety cannot be guaranteed for a long time. You all know this.”

Everyone heard these words and stopped discussing the box settings. They stood up one after another and began to find another path out.

The hut wasn’t very big. It was quickly searched through, but nothing out of the ordinary could be found.

“No, we need to search more carefully. Since the box gave us a safe house, it won’t trap us inside.” Cui Zuojing frowned. “Keep searching until we find something.”

Six people thoroughly searched through the small hut until finally, Dong Linhai found a small hole the thickness of a finger in the corner.

“Quick, come see whether this is some kind of mechanism.”

The group gathered around. Dong Zheng put his fingers in and probed around. There seemed to be a cavity below this.

Just as Dong Zheng was about to look for something to expand the hole, Cui Zuojing took out his dagger. “I’ll do it.”

He expanded the hole to the size of a palm two by two, until he simply and roughly cut away a whole section of the floor, leaving behind the mechanism.

It was clear that there was a layer of complicated mechanical structure under the floor.

Cui Zuojing knocked and listened to the echo to confirm that the lower part was hollow. He stood up and said, “Okay, that’s it. Get ready to go.”

Allen couldn’t help sighing. “Cui’er, your ability is so easy to use and saves a lot of labor.”

Cui Zuojing shrugged. “It’s not as handy as it seems. Or else, it would have been able to do something about that spider silk on your hand.”

The insects outside were no longer making any noises, but they still layered densely over the house. Dong Zheng studied the mechanical gears for a while. As he touched each mechanical piece, he analyzed the possible results. After sorting each situation in his mind and simulating it a hundred times, he finally decided on one course of action for successfully unlocking the mechanism.

Dong Zheng followed the simulation sequence in his mind. After a series of operations, a dull sound rang out and a hidden door slowly opened on the floor.

To other people’s eyes, it just looked like Dong Zheng had frowned, thought for a while, and then unlocked the mechanism in two to three moves. Dong Linhai sucked in a breath and whole-heartedly exclaimed, “Brother, your ability is also very useful.”

“Enviable, is it?” Dong Zheng endured the headache and nausea and said, “After you practice for a long time, your ability will also be very useful.”

As the only person who knew Dong Zheng’s true mental state, Cui Zuojing didn’t say anything. In this world, where were the geniuses with great abilities that seemed to have everything? It was all due timeless hard work and perseverance that made the person look so amazing once he finally displayed his capability.

But only the person involved knew the bitterness he’d experienced.

Gulon’s claw had been lost while they were avoiding Leviathan in the underground cavern and so they were unable to take it out of Dusk Island. As a result, Dong Zheng lost the useful prop that could take away his headaches.

Before going to sleep, he laid in bed every night, training his newly acquired abilities, and refused to stop until his headache became unbearable. Because of this, he usually almost always fell asleep right after.

It was only due to the blood contract that Cui Zuojing knew about Dong Zheng’s headaches, but he couldn’t do anything and could only follow Dong Zheng to sleep.

Even so, Cui Zuojing was also very happy to see that the person he’d chosen was working so hard.

Under the secret door was a vertical ladder with a metal-like texture. It’d been frozen for so long in the low temperature that it’d become as brittle as a tree branch. Dong Linhai, who was in charge of exploring the path, was already prepared and stepped on it in a relaxed manner. Just as he transferred part of his weight to that foot, the ladder made a cracking sound and broke.

Looking down, Dong Linhai saw that it was only three to four meters high. He directly jumped and used his protective clothing as a buffer so that his body won’t be jarred by the impact.

Allen came down right after, but he was preoccupied about how to get rid of the spider silk sticking to his hand. It was too inconvenient to carry it around. If he accidentally touched something, he would stick to it and wouldn’t be able to get away.

“Why don’t I just cut it off the glove?” Allen thought for a while and asked Cui Zuojing, “Cui’er, can you just cut through the layer of fiber that it was stuck to?”

“This condition is too hard. If I can do it safely, I’ll do it for you as soon as possible.” Cui Zuojing sighed. “It’s mainly because I don’t have the right tools. You’ll have to find me the right blade. Right now, I only have a dagger, which will make it difficult.”

Allen said, “It’s okay. You can do it. It’s better to take a bit of risk than to carry this around all the time.”

“Then, okay.” Cui Zuojing also felt that it was inconvenient for Allen. Originally, Allen’s advantage was his ability for speed. He took out his dagger and swung it twice, trying to get the feel of it. He said, “Que’er, stand here and keep the light steady for me.”

Wang Que hurriedly stood where Cui Zuojing told her to. She was constantly mindful of any movements that the Fungus Bell might convey to her, hoping that if there were any bugs hiding in this area, she would find them as soon as possible.

Cui Zuojing took a deep breath. In order to control the precision of his movements, he took off his gloves. In an underground pipe that was -10 degrees Celsius, he placed one bare hand on Allen’s glove, held his breath, and began to cut.

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3 years ago

I’m definitely getting some resident evil vibes in this arc. Reminds me of RE7 Biohazard the most.

So the most probable explanation for the evolution of the bugs is mutation from biochemicals. Makes sense. Shouldn’t the spider eat the smaller bugs tho?

2 years ago
Reply to  Dreamer

Not to mention that the reason we don’t have bugs bigger than they are today is because the current oxygen level wouldn’t be compatible with their respiratory system in a larger scale… i imagine it would be even more difficult what with the lack of plant life.
Mutations are interesting tho, I’m very curious about their biology

1 year ago