No one spoke for a long time.
In the wasteland city three thousand years later, all the traces left by humans were almost impossible to find. Only some of the buildings that once served as the city’s skyline still stood. To be precise, they were frozen in place and could not collapse.
And these wrecks had become nests for bugs.
Cui Zuojing took a deep breath and murmured, “No wonder it’s a survival instance. If it looks like this, then being able to survive at all is still pretty good.”
Wang Que stood in place, staring at everything in front of her. She seemed frightened. Cui Zuojing patted her shoulder and asked with concern, “Are you okay?”
It took a long time for Wang Que to recover. She swallowed hard and clenched her hands into fists. “I’m fine.”
Dong Linhai and the others saw that the doors were opened and also came over to look at the numerous oddly-shaped giant insects that had taken over the abandoned city. Everyone was stunned. After a while, Lin Hangzhi said, “WTF, what kind of play is this? We can’t go to the biochemistry base surrounded by these things.”
Cui Zuojing said, “It’s unfortunate to say but now it seems that, yes, maybe once we reach the biochemistry base, we may meet even more terrifying things.”
Allen suddenly had a thought. “Have you ever played StarCraft?”
Dong Linhai said, “Yes, I’ve played a lot…This is basically a box made according to the Zerg standard.”
Dong Zheng didn’t know much about video games. “What do you mean?”
Dong Linhai said, “In the galaxy hegemony, there are three races: Human, Protoss, and Zerg. The Zerg has a place in the universe with its tenacious vitality and huge numbers. I feel that if these lower lifeforms are allowed to develop, once the ice age ends and humans that had emigrated outside the solar system returns, it’ll become Humans vs Zergs.”
“Anyway, without our firepower, facing them directly will result in a dead end.”
The ruins of the city walls where insects clustered were radiating with lights and refracting on the ice and snow, creating an oddly beautiful scene. Cui Zuojing let out a deep breath and said, “Let’s not stand here foolishly and focus on setting off as quickly as possible. I think that we should save a little time on the road. The real big problem should definitely be the biochemistry base.”
The rest agreed and turned back to the supermarket.
But, Wang Que stood still.
She looked straight at the distant horizon. At the end of her sight, the former Wanda Twin Towers stood tall. Between the two towers was a huge honeycomb.
Even as the darkness gradually deepened, black and yellow bees were flying back to their nests from afar.
She seemed to hear a steady heartbeat, thump thump, thump thump, and the honeycomb swayed in the wind as the workers buzzed, contrasting with her slightly slower pulse.
That was the will of the insect swarm.
The frozen soil under her feet was slightly turned up, and a translucent insect with a soft, spindle-shaped body protruded from it. In the breathing hole on its back, fine tentacles gently waved, sensing the environment around it.
Seeing that Wang Que hadn’t moved, Dong Linhai stopped. He turned around and called out, “Wang Que?”
The young woman didn’t seem to hear his voice at all. Dong Linhai tried to scratch his head, but his hand touched the helmet instead.
He stepped back, stretched out his hand and patted Wang Que’s shoulder lightly. “Stop looking. Let’s go back.”
Wang Que woke up and turned around. She saw Dong Linhai’s face under his helmet.
For a moment, she couldn’t tell who she was.
The transparent insect that came out of the frozen ground and was touching her ankle was startled by Dong Linhai and disappeared as if it had melted away. Wang Que shook her head, waved away the illusory scene from her head, smiled, and said, “Okay.”
Dong Linhai successfully found several overturned bottles of compressed oxygen in the corner of the supermarket. The protective suit could carry a total of four canisters of compressed oxygen. Now everyone had used up one can and had to replace it with a new one. Dong Zheng distributed a few compressed food to everyone.
The water in the military kettle was about to freeze. Cui Zuojing took the flamethrower and singed the kettle from a distance to dissolve the water. Everyone hydrated their food and age.
Wang Que was initially a picky eater, but when she came to the Pure White Realm, she had the profound realization that anything was better than nothing. She endured the unsatisfactory taste of the food in her mouth and forcibly washed it down with water.
Several communities were spread out not far from the supermarket. The residential buildings exuded Zerg’s bio-fluorescence, like a wall of colored lights. After eating, Cui Zuojing returned to the door, chewing a block of ice in his mouth. He was silent as he looked out at the residential building from afar.
“What are you looking at?” Dong Zheng came over and stood beside him, and this unimaginable wasteland was reflected in his dark eyes.
As he said this, he took off his gloves. His hands were covered for so long that they felt uncomfortable.
“Those who chose to sleep in the hibernation pods in their own homes were probably all dead.” Cui Zuojing swallowed the remaining small piece of ice, feeling cold from the tip of his tongue to his stomach, “Even if the bugs couldn’t disturb their hibernation, they could still destroy the pipelines responsible for their nutrient supplies.”
Dong Zheng agreed in a low voice. According to the predictions at the base, there were supposed to be very few land creatures that could survive the ice age. The government provided a special underground hibernation area, but most people still choose to enter dormancy at home. They looked forward to waiting for a thousand years, and the first thing they hoped to see when they opened their eyes was their familiar home and relatives.
But everything was in vain.
Cui Zuojing and Dong Zheng leaned against the door together, looking at the frozen world that was like an alien scene. Soon, Dong Zheng noticed something and frowned. “Why don’t those bugs come here?”
Dong Zheng said, “This building was completely preserved. There not only wasn’t much snow and it also provided good shelter. It is reasonable to say that there ought to be quite a lot of bugs living here. From the moment we entered this place up until now, we haven’t come across any aggressive insects and only a few small bugs.”
“Ah,” Cui Zuojing said quite calmly. “Maybe there are some big creatures hidden in a certain floor of this building that other insects dare not approach.”
Dong Zheng: “……………..”
“Don’t worry,” Cui Zuojing comforted him. “We’ll stay here for a while, and since the thing that lives here hasn’t shown up even up, it may still be sleeping. Furthermore…if you want to leave, I don’t think that it’s much safer out there than it is here.”
Dong Zheng had to admit that Cui Zuojing’s words were reasonable. If they leave now, they would be greeted by hundreds of millions of various kinds of bugs. Right now, it was better to hide here.
Cui Zuojing grabbed two more pieces of ice and gave Dong Zheng one. “Let’s consider taking the drainage pipe. The outside world is too dangerous. I can’t guarantee that you’ll all be safe.”
“The biochemistry base’s drainage system is definitely not the same as that used in the city. It may not be possible to reach our destination using the underground pipes.”
Cui Zuojing thought for a moment, “Yes, anyway, I don’t recommend walking on foot the rest of the journey, especially through this urban area.”
Dong Zheng said, “I’ll think of a way.”
Cui Zuojing’s helmet was opened, and his cheeks and nose were flushed with cold. Dong Zheng all of a sudden couldn’t stop himself. For some inexplicable reason, he reached out and pressed the back of his hand to Cui Zuojing’s face. “Aren’t you cold?”
“I’m alright.” As soon as Cui Zuojing finished saying this, his nose became itchy and he let out an earth-shattering sneeze.
He rubbed his nose, and looking at the widening smile on Dong Zheng’s face, he mumbled in a tone of complaint, “Okay…it is a bit cold.”
As soon as Cui Zuojing put down his face shield, he caught a glimpse of a dark object flashed past the base of the wall.
“A snake!” The young man recognized the species from its slender figure. His eyes brightened, and he left Dong Zheng to chase the snake, “Wait! I’ll turn you into food!”
Dong Zheng didn’t have time to stop him. He saw Cui Zuojing suddenly chasing after the snake in a hurry and disappeared behind a shelf.
He frowned and chased in the direction where Cui Zuojing left.
In such a situation where the world was full of bugs, could other carnivores really survive?
The snake slithered away really fast. Cui Zuojing hurried after it, always feeling that he could catch the snake’s tail at any second, but it always ended up making a mistake.
As they passed by countless shelves, Cui Zuojing reached out his hands with confidence but always failed to catch the cunning snake. This made him extremely annoyed and so he ignored the question that Dong Zheng had immediately thought of.
He chased after the snake until they reached the entrance to the underground parking lot. He leaped down the stairs a few steps at a time and stepped into the wide, dark parking lot.
The black snake soon disappeared into the darkness.
It was at this moment that Cui Zuojing finally noticed that something was wrong.
The intuition he’d cultivated over the years told him that there was a problem here.
Coming to a halt, Cui Zuojing stared at the darkness ahead. He slowly backed up step by step, never leaving his back to the unknown.
He retreated to the top of the stairs, then suddenly turned around and ran toward the center of the supermarket where everyone had gathered.
On the way, Cui Zuojing sped through the corner of a shelf and directly ran into Dong Zheng, who was still chasing after him.
They collided into each other and staggered back two steps. But, they immediately reached out their hands to tacitly grab each other.
“There appears to be something in the underground parking lot.” Cui Zuojing was breathing hard. Since no one was around, he didn’t hold back his annoyance at himself. “My mind was pretty funny. I just tried to catch it without even thinking. Wasn’t it just a snake? What’s so good about it?”
Dong Zheng raised his eyebrows. He was silent for a moment and finally said, “The idea of chasing after the snake just now, was it really your own thought?”
Cui Zuojing looked at him questioningly.
He thought about it and had to admit, “It was really impulsive, but if you’re suggesting that something had controlled my consciousness, it would be impossible for me not to feel it. I had added a lot of mental points.”
Dong Zheng shook his head. “I don’t know, but it’s always good to be cautious.”
They walked side by side in the direction where the others were.
Under the supermarket, in the underground parking lot on the lowest floor of the building, the black snake slithered up the youth’s leg and climbed all the way up to wrap around his shoulder. It’s head brushed against Tang Ji’s side affectionately.
“Not fooled,” Tang Ji said in a regretful yet not regretful tone of voice and stuck both his hands into his pockets. “Then I just prepared such a big gift for nothing?”
But it was not without gain. Tang Ji narrowed his eyes. This snake was a reification of part of his soul. Through the eyes of the black snake, he also saw everything the snake “saw”.
If he saw correctly, the back of Cui Zuojing’s rookie master’s hand had a blood contract prisoner coat of arms.