To prevent panic, the captain suppressed the information about the stowaways and didn’t tell the guests nor the program staff. Only the crew members who would be conducting emergency searches knew.
On a cruise ship isolated from the world, any negative emotions could become the spark that detonates disaster.
But, no one would guard against a harmless little white cat. Cui Zuojing had Victor to collect intelligence. Presumably, other pilgrims probably had their own magical abilities.
All the pilgrims were waiting for a good show.
Most of these people already knew the name and type of box they’re in. They also knew that something would happen to the ship, enabling them to reach their destination, Dusk Island.
But, they soon stopped thinking that way.
Because another person died.
It happened on the sixth day. At this time, 29 hours had passed since the captain began to strictly control the food allotment.
The person who died was a crew member. He disappeared while searching the second-class cabin on the ship. When people found him, he had already become an incomplete body.
His arms, torso, and legs were all eaten. The wounds revealed grim tearing marks, as if…something that was hungry to the point of irrationality had bit his arm, tore pieces of meat from it, and devoured it. It was the same with the torso.
Without food, it was eating people.
This crew member was discovered by a member of the program crew. She was checking the hidden cameras on the ship one by one and found the bloodied body in a corner of the corridor.
The news could no longer be hidden.
The people on the boat were caught in an unavoidable panic, and even the pilgrims themselves found it somewhat difficult to sit still. Because, the wounds looked like it came from a human mouth.
The filming for the show had to be urgently put on hold.
The Wonton Insurgency held a second meeting in Dong Zheng’s room to discuss the current situation.
Cui Zuojing said, “We can’t wait too long. Remember, I told you back at the Doll’s House that if you encountered danger and avoided it, you might miss some important clues.”
Dong Zheng nodded. At that time, he’d heard crying coming from the women’s restroom. He’d followed Cui Zuojing’s suggestion and ended up completing the little girl ghost’s commission. This allowed him to obtain the bag of buttons, which made the plot development’s progression much smoother.
Although, in the end, they were still caught by the dolls and put in jail.
Dong Linhai said, “Then, how are we going to find these stowaways?”
Cui Zuojing snapped his fingers and said with satisfaction, “Children can also be taught. Plus, it’s not our style to sit and wait for death.”
An hour later, in the captain’s room.
“You said you want to help us find the stowaways?” The first mate thought he’d heard it wrong.
Dong Zheng said, “Yes. Each day they’re not caught is each day the ship won’t be at peace. Although we’re not professionals, it’s better to have more people to search together.”
The first mate and the captain looked at each other. “If this is the case, we can’t guarantee your safety. Arthur was killed during the search. It’s safer to stay in a crowded area.”
Dong Zheng disagreed. “If the ship is really dangerous, no matter where you stay, there will always be trouble.”
The captain looked at the young faces in front of him and said anxiously, “No one wants to see this kind of thing happen. We didn’t check for stowaways properly, and we should take full responsibility. You’re still so young. What if something really happened….?”
Cui Zuojing understood what the captain was worried about. “Don’t worry. We’re ready. No matter what the consequences are, we’ll bear it.”
Seeing him say this, the captain finally felt relieved. “Mmn, I’ll divide you and the crew into three different groups. The crew members who are in charge of the search will have weapons and can protect you if anything happened.”
Finally, the discussion was settled. As everyone was planning to leave, a knock came at the captain’s door.
The person was the gray-eyed man Cui Zuojing had met in the corridor. He didn’t seem surprised at all to see that everyone from the Wonton Insurgency was in the captain’s room. His glance shifted across everyone’s faces, and he said to the captain, “I hope to join the team in searching for the stowaways.”
The captain didn’t expect that there would be more people willing to wade through this muddy water. He subconsciously glanced at Dong Zheng. Cui Zuojing shrugged and said, “We’re not together in a team.”
During this time on the ship, Cui Zuojing had basically recognized all the pilgrims. This person was Domingo, who’d claimed to be a Spaniard. He’d entered the box alone and didn’t interact much with anyone else on the ship. The word “withdrawn” was written on every strand of his hair.
“Okay.” The captain sighed and introduced the man. “Mr. Dong also asked to help with the search. I will organize you into teams.”
Domingo nodded lightly to Dong Zheng. It seemed that this was meant to be a greeting. Dong Zheng looked at him with a strange, inexplicable feeling.
But, at the moment when their two eyes met, Domingo looked away.
It didn’t take long for them to return to the room, and the search team arrived. They separated into groups, with Dong Zheng and Cui Zuojing together, Lin Hangzhi and Allen together, and Domingo, Dong Linhai, and Wang Que in a group. Together with the crew, the three teams searched the warehouse, the engine room, and the central garden.
They each received a long stick, a dagger, and an electric shock device to defend themselves.
While Domingo wasn’t paying attention, Dong Linhai whispered to Wang Que, “By the way, can’t you control bugs? Can you locate the stowaways through their vision?”
“No,” Wang Que flatly rebuffed. “It’s very disgusting. When I control the insects, I can also feel their perceptions, and I definitely don’t like it.”
The central garden was arranged in the style of a tropical rain forest, completed with lush vegetation and abundant water plants. There would naturally be some insects. As the crew carefully searched each corner, Dong Linhai and Wang Que walked behind them, searching and talking in low voices, as if they were out on an outing instead.
Halfway through their search, Dong Linhai suddenly realized that someone was gone.
“Eh? Where did Domingo go?” Dong Linhai asked, running his hand through his hair. “Did you see him?”
Wang Que shook her head.
Domingo hadn’t said a word, and Dong Linhai didn’t even know when he’d disappeared.
….There shouldn’t be any trouble, right?
Dong Linhai rejected the idea the moment it showed up. He seemed to have an instinctive, unreasonable trust in Domingo. This person’s abilities were much stronger than what he’d let on and so he wouldn’t easily die.
Maybe he just slipped off somewhere to take a rest.
Cui Zuojing and Dong Zheng walked into the engine room.
It was hot and loud in the cabin, which had criss-crossing pipes, cylinder boilers and electric motors everywhere. After walking for a while, a thin layer of sweat appeared on Cui Zuojing’s forehead. He rolled up the sleeves of his shirt and walked through the narrow aisle with one hand touching the steel pipes.
In addition to the two of them, there were also three crew members on their search team. They were all equipped with a full set of electronic communication equipment. They were also very upset about what was happening on board, but their excellent professional ethics prevented them from complaining in front of Cui Zuojing and Dong Zheng.
After I go back, I’m going to eat an ice cone, Cui Zuojin was thinking when he suddenly saw a band of cloth between two pipes.
“What’s this?” he poked at it with a long stick.
The others turned around at the sound. The leader of the search team pulled out the band. It turned out to be a brown cloth belt that was more than one meter long and two fingers wide. It was crumbled with fold marks along the buckle. The middle section was printed with a speckles of blood.
Dong Zheng said, “A belt?”
“Seems like it.” The leader nodded. His expression was grave. This blood likely belonged to his dead colleague.
The leader said, “Be careful. Those things are probably nearby.”
They continued to search, but this time, they were more vigilant. Sweat dripped from their forehead, though it was unclear whether it was from the heat or from fear.
They discovered a spot of dark red on the ground, like dripping blood that had been trampled into a round spot.
Some ten centimeters ahead was another spot of blood, but these were densely connected, leading to the most dense and complex corners of the pipelines.
The leader pressed his palm down to signal everyone to be quiet. He scratched his fingernails on the communicator several times to send signals to the nearby team.
Everyone clenched the weapons in their hands and quietly approached the corner where the blood trail had disappeared.
A scream suddenly exploded above everyone’s head. They all raised their head subconsciously. The only exception was Cui Zuojing. The youth strode forward and stood in front of the leader. His long stick slashed horizontally, blocking the creature that had suddenly thrown itself out from its hiding place.
At the same time, the sharp claws that descended from the pipe overhead also reached Dong Zheng. There was nowhere to hide in the narrow aisle. At that critical moment, Dong Zheng lifted the long stick and turned it, sticking it between the pipes on both side and effectively blocking the creature that was rushing down toward his body.
The creature was the size of a lynx, with a cat’s head and a dog’s body. It had a fox tail and was covered with long, brown hair. It’s four claws were extremely sharp.
As it jumped down, it was blocked by the long stick and fell to the ground. It immediately sprang back up and stared at the people in front of it. When it opened its mouth to hiss, traces of flesh and blood could still be seen on its teeth.
Cui Zuojing batted away the other creature that was about to attack while its companion attracted their attention. If he weren’t there, with the degree of cooperation between the two creatures, they would definitely be able to bite off someone’s head and neck before anyone could react.
The youth took two steps backward and bumped against Dong Zheng’s back.
The cathead creature that he’d batted away climbed back up. It bare its teeth and growled angrily from its throat. Leaning forward, it stared at Cui Zuojing, ready to pounce at any moment.
The five humans were pressed back to back with two monsters on each side of the narrow aisle, blocking them at the front and back.
Cui Zuojing didn’t feel nervous at all. He touched his bulging pants pocket, where he’d placed a long roll of toilet paper. “I’ll leave the other one to you. Can you handle it?”
“Yes.” Dong Zheng reached out his hand and took hold of the stick.
The crew didn’t expect such a development at all. Moreover, these two passengers were different from what they’d imagined!
Soon, they calmed down. The power compartment was full of metal. For the ship’s safety, they couldn’t use the electric shock gun that was pinned at their waist, so they immediately replaced it with the anesthesia gun.
The black hole of the muzzle undoubtedly made the creatures feel threatened. They roared, no longer hesitated, and rushed straight at the people!
At the same time, Cui Zuojing also moved.
He held the long stick in one hand and took out the roll of toilet paper from his pocket with the other hand. When he shook it violently, the soft toilet paper fluttered in the air like a white ribbon. The cathead creature obviously didn’t take it seriously. But, the moment a claw touched the paper towel, the edge of the towel suddenly became extremely sharp and directly sliced the claw off.
The cathead creature screamed, and its forward momentum immediately disappeared. Cui Zuojing smashed it with a stick and knocked it over to the ground, where it lay with blood foaming in its mouth.
The battle ended within five seconds, and the toilet paper soon turned into a pile of dust. Cui Zuojing nudged the unconscious cathead creature with the stick and leaned over to check its body structure.
Behind him came a roar, followed by the sounds of Dong Zheng and the crew members fighting. Cui Zuojing ignored it and turned over the creature’s body intently, trying to figure out what it was.
Hmmm…it was somewhat familiar. What was it called?
Just as Cui Zuojing was searching his memory for the name, he suddenly heard someone shouted, “Watch out!”
The youth raised his head, and his pupils shrank. A black mist had suddenly appeared in front of him at some point without his knowledge.
It was a humanoid creature with wings on its back and black fangs. It held an axe raised high, aimed at his head, and was just about to bring it down!