Lin Chen felt that he should have fainted because that would be in line with the logic of the movie.
But he was always sober; whether it was the appearance of Xing Conglian, the movement of hugging him, or even the sentence “it’s me”; he clearly experienced it.
Because he had to stay awake so that his dreamlike reunion wouldn’t be fleeting. He clung to the collar of the rough combat uniform of Xing Conglian tightly, watching the blood flow out from the other party’s shoulder. His ears were extremely quiet, filled with the background noise of various gunfire and explosions. All these details seemed to be stretched infinitely.
Xing Conglian hugged him tightly and jumped down the stairs. They flashed around the corner, dodging a bullet, and then continued to run. From beginning to end, Xing Conglian’s face was as stable as his arms. The bitter wind, broken bricks, and dust blew across his cheeks. They rushed out of the factory building as smoke and dust filled the sky. He didn’t remember how far they ran, but for a moment, the entire space trembled, as if someone had pressed the pause button and all substances were backlogged, then suddenly released.
Xing Conglian seemed to perceive this, or perhaps the countdown in his earpiece had reached its final moments.
He held onto Lin Chen tightly and then suddenly rushed behind a pile of bricks, completely shielding Lin Chen underneath his body. He even used his arm as a cushion for Lin Chen’s head and neck to prevent him from being injured.
Facing Xing Conglian, Lin Chen only heard him say in a gentle tone, “Don’t be afraid.”
Then came a deafening explosion. It was only at this moment that Lin Chen realized that when he was so close to the explosion site, the sound could be this loud; as if everything in the world was collapsing and the shockwave seemed to shatter all his flesh and blood. Lin Chen held onto Xing Conglian’s back tightly, feeling the force of the shockwave knocking over the pile of bricks that fell onto Xing Conglian. This only made him cling to him even tighter.
At no time did he believe more than at this moment that they could survive.
When the factory exploded, Kang An was performing his cover mission in the designated area.
The countdown sound in the headset kept ringing, and he wished he could sprout wings and rush over to catch the man who was running fast, but he could only stay where he was, constantly pulling the trigger.
The time was getting shorter, but the distance wasn’t too close. The countdown sound finally stopped. After a loud explosion, the factory building collapsed, and most of the floors were blown into the sky. The shockwave and smoke forced him to fall to the ground. It took a long time before he could gradually hear the anxious voices in the headset.
“I see no one. Kang An, quickly report!”
“Where’s the Boss?! Have you seen the Boss?!”
“Are they safe? Kang An, you dumbass, talk to me!”
The sharp voice of Wang Chao was about to pierce his eardrums. Kang An vomited blood and barely propped up his body as he looked at the misty ruins.
The brown-gray smoke and dust made him almost unable to open his eyes. He could only narrow his eyes into a squint. One minute passed, then two, then five…
There was dead silence in front of him, and even the anxious voice in the headset channel became silent. Kang An covered the blood flowing between his lips and teeth, shouted, and rushed forward frantically.
At this moment, he saw a tall figure in a daze, slowly penetrating out of the layers of smoke and dust, walking out of the restricted area of death.
After seeing the figure clearly, Kang An took two steps back and almost fell on his ass.
Xing Conglian looked at his subordinate, who had almost rushed in front of him, and said to everyone in the channel in a calm tone, “Okay, laozi is still alive. Continue your work.”
“Boss, it’s fine if you’re okay, but is my A’Chen Gege okay too? Is it really A’Chen Gege?” Wang Chao’s voice of concern came through.
Xing Conglian lowered his head while Lin Chen’s face was covered in gray dust, but he still gazed at him with dark eyes. Xing Conglian held onto his collar tightly, as if he were afraid Lin Chen would disappear if he let go.
Xing Conglian answered Wang Chao at the end of the channel, “It’s him.”
However, his answer seemed to make Lin Chen guess something. He obviously saw Lin Chen frowning and asked him, in a hoarse voice that seemed to have not drank water for days, “Is Wang Chao here too?”
After darting behind a wall, Xing Conglian took a breath and realized that Lin Chen was clearly worried about Wang Chao’s safety. Xing Conglian didn’t know what to say, so he weighed the person in his arms, who was almost weightless. He spoke coldly. “Stop worrying about others. Everyone is better than you.”
But if it were Lin Chen, as long as he was alive, he would think about these things all the time. Next, he heard Lin Chen nervously say, “Did the helicopter take off yet?”
“Can I trouble you to save someone else?”
This sentence made Xing Conglian extremely dissatisfied. First, Lin Chen’s tone was too polite, and second, he immediately thought that the person Lin Chen wanted him to save must be that young man he had just forced away.
Probably because Xing Conglian didn’t answer and he felt that he was asking too much at this time, Lin Chen’s eyes flickered as he added, “Please.”
At this time, a sniper bullet passed them and hit an ambush point in the right rear.
The bullet hit the wall and made a tooth-aching sound. Lin Chen closed his eyes abruptly. Xing Conglian put him down, put one arm around his shoulder, took out a light gun, and began to use the brick wall as a bunker to fight back. After a few gunshots, there was no sound of bullets any longer. Xing Conglian turned his head, and for some reason, he saw the black ring on Lin Chen’s left ring finger at first glance.
Xing Conglian felt that the most glaring scene he had ever seen in his life, apart from Huang Ze’s stupid forced kiss on Lin Chen, was the black ring on Lin Chen’s ring finger.
“Who gave it to you?” After he asked this, he said to the channel, “Kang An, go and save someone.” After he spoke, he took off the headset and stuffed it into Lin Chen’s ear as he picked him up and continued to retreat.
Lin Chen was obviously taken aback.
“Tell them who you want to save.” Xing Conglian’s gaze fell to the ring that Lin Chen was wearing as he heard Lin Chen say to the person on the other end of the headset in an extremely calm tone, “Chinese. Name is Duan Yang. About 185 cm, big eyes, short hair. He just went toward the helicopter landing pad. It hasn’t taken off yet. Something might have happened. Please confirm whether Duan Yang is alive or dead.”
It was really Lin Chen. He was always sober, no matter what the situation was. Xing Conglian continued to retreat with Lin Chen in his arms. The path ahead had been cleared. Except for the sporadic bullets, they didn’t encounter too many obstacles along the way.
The smoke and dust were still heavy. Xing Conglian held his breath, but he heard Lin Chen say a few words into the headset. It was nothing more than soothing sentences such as “I’m fine” and “I’ll be there soon”. It must be Wang Chao he was talking to.
Xing Conglian looked at the person in his arms with dissatisfaction. Finally, Lin Chen seemed to notice his dissatisfaction. Suddenly, he put his hands around his neck, leaned on his shoulders, and said weakly, “What did you say?”
Xing Conglian pursed his lips, as if concentrating on running, without saying a word.
Soon, the sound of water was clearly audible. The ferry was within reach. He could even see the uncontrollable excitement on Wang Chao’s face.
“I’m sorry.” Just before boarding the boat, he suddenly heard Lin Chen continue to speak softly on the side of his neck.
Xing Conglian’s expression condensed as he stepped into the cabin with Lin Chen in his arms.
The first floor of the ferry had long been occupied by the terrified Gaomeng people. Wang Chao had already rushed forward, as if he had thousands of words to say to them. Xing Conglian shot a deathly glare at the teenager before going straight to the second floor. He kicked open the captain’s quarters and slammed the door shut, locking the chattering teenager outside.
He took off the headset from Lin Chen’s ear and threw it out, then put him down on the bed. With just such a simple action, he could clearly see the painful expression on Lin Chen’s face.
Lin Chen was so weak that he could hardly speak. Xing Conglian leaned down and got close to Lin Chen. He could feel the other party’s hot breath falling on his face. Xing Conglian felt that this was too much like a line that would be said in a third-rate TV series, but he couldn’t help asking, “Do you know what you did wrong?”
Lin Chen barely opened his eyes, and after thinking about it, he replied in a serious tone, “It’s too dangerous. I shouldn’t have let your men risk their lives to save my friend, but…”
“Lin Chen.” Xing Conglian called the other party’s name solemnly. He did his best to suppress all his emotions of fear, worry, tension, and heartache from the past ten minutes. He looked at the sky obscured by smoke and then down at the person on the bed who had become so thin and deformed in just a few days. He reached from Lin Chen’s waist to his shoulder blade with one hand, carefully but tightly embracing him, and said, “These are all small things. First, don’t talk to me in a pleading tone. I would do anything for you. You should take it for granted. Second…” He took a deep breath and said calmly, “When you pushed that something—Duan Yang—out of the door and locked yourself in to wait for death, did you ever think about what I would do?”
Lin Chen choked for a moment. His eyes were red, and the tears that had stopped flowing flowed from the corner of his eyes to his hair. He looked at Xing Conglian blankly and finally said, “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.”
As Xing Conglian looked at Lin Chen’s pale and bloodless face, the bloodstains caused by the abrasions on his face, and the tears rolling down Lin Chen’s soot-covered cheek, leaving a clear trail, he felt everything around him suddenly become quiet. All the smoke and gunshots seemed to freeze as Lin Chen hugged him tightly with both arms.
“Please think about one thing before you want to give up your life next time…” Xing Conglian kissed the hot skin on the side of his ear and said slowly, “What should I do if you die?”
Lin Chen instantly panicked. “I don’t know. I’m sorry. I don’t know…”
Xing Conglian just hugged Lin Chen tightly, trying to make his heart beat slower to a less deadly speed. Neither of them spoke.
“Why did you lose so much weight?” he asked softly.
There was a mess of noise coming from the headset. Xing Conglian didn’t have time to worry about whether it was a communication failure or something else. His brain was completely occupied by Lin Chen’s appearance, filled with countless possibilities that seemed like they would explode.
And one of the most terrifying possibilities was: If he couldn’t save Lin Chen, if Lin Chen had already sliced his neck with that blade, what should he do?
At that moment, Xing Conglian felt a fear he had never experienced in his life. He was as nervous as when he held a gun for the first time and killed someone. However, reality didn’t allow him to think about emotions or possibilities because he suddenly heard news from the headset.
“Boss, that’s a C4 explosive that detonates at a fixed time. It can’t be stopped.” In the headset, Ye Zhu’s voice held an imperceptible tremor.
“I understand.” Xing Conglian instantly regained his senses. He immediately put away his gun, ran downstairs, and said to the person on the other end of the headset in an extremely calm tone, “Zhao Hu, I’m going to T2 floor. Cover me.”
In the attic, the man who had just finished killing was folding his silk scarf. When he heard this, he almost tore the lilac silk scarf in his hand. “Boss, what’s the situation? Don’t take risks! Can you escape now if you rush over there?”
The same sound was transmitted simultaneously to several places where others were carrying out their missions.
Wang Chao was already sitting in the cabin, but Xing Conglian’s words made him stand up abruptly in shock.
There was a light screen in front of him, and there were changes in the 7 dots representing each person’s position. The red dot representing Xing Conglian really began to rapidly move towards the most dangerous area that was about to detonate. “Boss, calm down. What the hell happened? It’s over!”
The primeval forest, alarmed by the explosion and gunfire, began to tremble uneasily. Dark, cloud-like birds rushed to the sky, covering the sky.
Wang Chao looked at the factory area covered by a sky of smoke and dust in the distance. In his earphones, he heard the sound of wind, bricks, occasional gunshots, and the stable voice of Xing Conglian. “Lin Chen is in that building.”
In an instant, Wang Chao also experienced the feeling of having his heart stop after being electrified. After a moment of shock, he suddenly shouted, “How is this possible? This can’t be happening. Boss, don’t be impulsive!”
The deep voice of Xing Conglian sounded like a cello playing in the darkness of night. Wang Chao instantly sobered up. He gripped the edge of the table tightly and tried to calm himself down, but how could he calm down? His muscles were tense and trembling all over. Why did this kind of thing happen?!
“Wang Chao, find someone to assist me. The others retreat according to the original plan.” Xing Conglian’s voice sounded again. Wang Chao didn’t know how his boss could still speak in such a firm tone in this situation. He took a deep breath and looked at the screen, saying word by word, “Kang An, maintain your current position. Move to T4 in 3 minutes and assist the Boss.”
The race against time was more exhausting than imagined.
A burst of gunfire sounded from the back of his head. Xing Conglian slammed down and rolled over a piece of rubble. The bullet caused a series of smoke and dust behind him, and a broken shrapnel slammed into his calf. In the case of extreme chaos, any small detail was enough to kill, but any attention to detail would slow him down.
“Zhao Hu!” Xing Conglian jumped up and continued to run.
“I’m sorry, Boss.” The gunman lying on the high-rise building pulled the trigger at an unprecedented speed. He didn’t even calculate the ballistics anymore and purely used instinct to kill all men in the space who dared to block the man running for life and death.
“Four minutes left.” Ye Zhu’s voice sounded again.
More and more Gaomeng people crowded into the ferry, causing the light ship to shake.
Wang Chao was still holding the corner of the table tightly. He was motionless, staring at the red dot on the light screen that was rushing towards the factory building that was about to explode without any tactical cover, wishing that time would slow down just a little, but he had long known that such physical phenomena in this world could never be shifted by human will. He could only watch and wait for the result.
After countless brushes with death, Xing Conglian finally came downstairs in the building. He was too calm to be calm any longer because he realized that it was also a good choice to die with Lin Chen. All the previous burning emotions were completely suppressed.
The entire factory area turned into cold, inorganic lines in his eyes. He knew very well the function of the factory that Lin Chen was in, which was the reason why he chose to blow it up in the end. Buried downstairs was enough explosives to blow up the factory building and kill all soldiers who tried to rescue it.
Sure enough, a small group of heavily armed Zaratul soldiers were trying to rush into the building.
Two of them had sharply turned their guns, but before they could pull the trigger, their foreheads had been pierced with blood holes.
Xing Conglian pulled the trigger. The gun fired bullets like whips, and the sound of flesh piercing suddenly sounded. At the same time, he was also hit on the shoulder by a bullet.
The intense secretion of adrenaline made him feel no pain. He finally reached the front of the building. Facing the corpses all over the floor, he looked up at the building with broken windows and rushed in without hesitation.
The floor plan of the factory building in the mining area quickly unfolded in his mind. He jumped to the last floor and found the laboratory at the end of the corridor, among the continuously extending lines.
The countdown was broadcast again on the communication channel. No one spoke after.
Xing Conglian kicked the door open, and all he could see was darkness. With the faintly visible glass sliding door across his eyes, he raised his gun. Not giving a damn whether it was bulletproof or not, he pulled the trigger as he swept the muzzle from left to right.
The glass suddenly shattered, making a tooth grinding noise.
He rushed through the glass rain curtain, seeing an erratic mess of tables and chairs and collapsed experimental equipment. He calculated Lin Chen’s final position and kicked open a door.
Sunlight suddenly poured in. The group of monkeys roared, but the sounds and lights all disappeared. All he could see was the door at the end; the pure white wooden door with broken glass in its upper half.
Lin Chen was lying on the ground. The floor of the laboratory was a bit cold. Although the air conditioning had stopped, it was still cold.
He couldn’t help but curl up, thinking for a moment that he might be dead, but the feeling of being alive and dead was still different. At least it seemed like he could still think.
Of course, his thinking stopped completely as soon as he drove Duan Yang away. Now it had turned into a puddle of mud, everything about Xing Conglian once again filled all the corners of his mind.
Sometimes it was Xing Conglian who was smoking, sometimes it was Xing Conglian who was cleaning the room, and more often, it was Xing Conglian who was looking at him with his handsome face. His eyes were deep and calm, but he didn’t say a word. Those pictures glowed with some light; each frame was so clear that he could touch it, which made his fingers tremble slightly.
He always felt as if he were saying something to Xing Conglian. Maybe it was “I’m sorry” or “I love you”.
And until now, he had no time to think about whether Xing Conglian would accept his question when he came back.
It should still be possible.
He spent probably the most precious 30 seconds at the end of his life thinking about this question carefully and gave himself an answer as a form of self-comfort, thinking it was quite good.
But when he answered this question, the remaining questions followed.
—After Xing Conglian comes back, what will happen when he finds out about all this?
Although it was the best result to make Xing Conglian think he was missing and would never be found, given Xing Conglian’s personality, it was really possible he would follow all the clues to this abandoned mining area.
—So what if Xing Conglian finds his body?
For a moment, Lin Chen hoped that the ruins of this factory building would completely bury his body, so that the corrosion rate of the rainforest would quickly turn him into a pile of bones that no one would recognize. After Xing Conglian or Wang Chao found this place, he might not be found. Even if he were found, it wouldn’t be too sad.
He felt that he couldn’t imagine Xing Conglian being heartbroken. After all, in his concept, people like Xing Conglian shouldn’t be heartbroken, and he shouldn’t be the one who makes the other party heartbroken.
Lin Chen suddenly began to regret why he confessed his love at that time. If he hadn’t exposed these things, it might not have caused the person he loved so much pain.
Time couldn’t be turned back, and the decision made couldn’t be changed. Since he was a man, how could he be so irresponsible?
Although he was about to die, he suddenly discovered that he really didn’t want to die. He wanted to live.
If this world was really as <The Secret> said, then he wanted to live.
He braced himself against the ground, trying to stand up.
This was what Xing Conglian saw when he opened the pure white wooden door.
Although before that, he was even afraid of what would happen if Lin Chen wasn’t behind the door.
But the moment he saw the laboratory floor, all the scenes flooded in like a tide.
Lin Chen was curled up on the ground. His cheeks were slightly sunken, but his eyes were frighteningly large. His face, elbows, and all his exposed skin had abrasions of varying degrees, and shocking amounts of blood were dripping on the ground, but it wasn’t these wounds that worried Xing Conglian the most.
After seeing him, Lin Chen turned his head slightly and squinted his eyes. His out-of-focus eyes were full of doubts. He then let out a laugh. Xing Conglian clearly saw Lin Chen’s self-deprecating smile in his eyes, and his heart seemed to be tightly clenched by some external force.
He walked over step by step and squatted down, at a loss of how to pick Lin Chen up for a moment.
Suddenly, Lin Chen stretched out his hand and put it on his wrist. The temperature of the palm of his hand made him shudder. Xing Conglian slowly lowered his head and looked at the pale fingers resting on his wrist, like a struggling soul unwilling to enter hell, grasping its only lifeline.
The urging sound in the headset finally poured back into his ears.
“Boss, is it really A’Chen Gege?” Wang Chao asked.
“There are two minutes and thirty seconds left. Hurry up, Boss!” Ye Zhu let out a rare roar.
However, Xing Conglian’s movements were still slow. He held the back of Lin Chen’s neck with one hand while the other hand plunged into Lin Chen’s knee socket, holding the person in his arms with force. It was only at the moment he picked up Lin Chen that he felt the hot temperature of a soldering iron. How could a normal person have such a high body temperature?
At this moment, Lin Chen’s dark eyes, which had been staring at him, flickered slightly.
He heard Lin Chen ask in a hoarse voice, “Although it’s too much like a movie, am I dreaming?”
“It’s me.” Xing Conglian stood up while holding Lin Chen.
With just two words, he clearly saw Lin Chen’s eyes flushed and tears overflowed. As if to hide his sudden, fragile emotions, Lin Chen plunged his head into his chest. Xing Conglian couldn’t even tell whether the heat in his chest came from his emotions or Lin Chen’s tears.
He lowered his head and kissed the top of Lin Chen’s head. The smell of blood, dirt, salty sweat, and the clean and cold breath of Lin Chen’s mixed together, as if to soak into his soul.
He hugged Lin Chen tightly, turned around, kicked the monkey cage under his feet, and began to run out.
In the Hummer, Zhang Long was driving the vehicle at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour on the potholed road in the Dana Rainforest. The primeval forests on both sides regressed, and even the chimpanzees with cubs came out to make trouble. Of course, he didn’t know that he thought there was a slight flaw in his very arrogant and perfect action, but he couldn’t be blamed for this incident.
Comrade Ye Zhu was sitting next to him. He had just crawled out of the chassis and was dozing off at the moment, with no intention of helping him be vigilant.
Except for the intimidating name, Ye Zhu* looked like an ordinary college student next door who was cultured and harmless. Only a few people knew his true nature. Zhang Long dared to have Zaratul’s subordinates call him “dad”, but he didn’t dare wake up the person sitting next to him.
*His name translated is Wild Boar.
At this moment, the communicator sounded.
Ye Zhu opened his eyes gently with a clear expression as if he had never fallen asleep. “Boss.”
“There are still 50 minutes until it docks.”
“Where are the goods?”
Ye Zhu glanced at the towering forest in front of him and said solemnly, “It’ll be delivered soon.”
He didn’t know what Xing Conglian said at the other end, but Ye Zhu looked like usual, and at the end he said, “Roger that.”
Zhang Long said nervously, “How did Zaratul anger the Boss? This is simply a dragon’s wrath!”
Ye Zhu only said two words, “Shut up.”
Xing Conglian released the fingers pressing the headset and stood on the highest point of the whole building with a stiff waist.
In the alleyway of the dilapidated factory building outside the window, Zaratul’s soldiers started a new day of aimless vigilance. The soldiers behind the bunker began to smoke habitually. The curling smoke rose with the wind, mixed with the laughter and discussion about the dead woman yesterday.
Bullets could fall from the sky at any moment and hit their foreheads, but these soldiers didn’t seem aware of it at all. This was also normal. In the area controlled by Zaratul, no one would dare to snipe.
Xing Conglian’s cold gaze swept across the main warehouse, and finally landed on the power plant of the mine.
Behind him, Zhao Hu was installing a military sniper rifle with a gentle touch that felt like he was caressing a woman. The sniper took out a 12x scope from his backpack and carefully wiped the gun barrel with a lavender-embroidered silk scarf from his pocket before quickly installing the scope with a decisive hand. Then he continued to wipe the gun barrel with the same silk scarf.
Xing Conglian frowned but didn’t say much.
In the underground space under the mine, where he couldn’t even see his fingers, Kang An, with a bruised nose and a swollen face, was sneaking towards the designated location carrying C4 plastic explosives “smuggled” in by Comrade Zhao Hu. How to escort hundreds of people to migrate with a 7-member team may be a headache for ordinary commanders, but similar actions weren’t unfamiliar to him. In the depths of the rainforest, where there was little interference from external armed forces, directly destroying the target force was obviously the most straightforward way.
He bit the flashlight, unscrewed the screws at the mouth of the lower pipe with a light technique, quickly climbed out, took out a hand-drawn sketch from his pocket, and installed it on the marked load-bearing wall according to the instructions of the explosives expert who was currently on the way.
At this moment, there was a slight commotion in the communication channel.
The sniper was still wiping the body of the gun as Xing Conglian held down the headset. He heard Xiao Wu’s voice coming from it, and the background sound was filled with the low-pitched yells of the Gaomeng people.
“Boss, I think the people of the rainforest haven’t seen the sun all year round, so their brains are really muddled.” The sniper looked up at him.
Xing Conglian retracted his gaze, turned around, and left.
In the factory space covered with colorful clothes, Xiao Wu and Xiao Liu, who were distributing weapons, had a dispute with the Gaomeng people.
The sturdy and muscular rainforest warriors glared at them, trying to ask Xiao Wu for an M16 rifle with a C-MORE light shotgun system. Comrade Xiao Wu, who had established friendship with the rainforest people, didn’t know how to solve this problem.
After seeing Xing Conglian’s figure appear, Xiao Wu snatched the gun and aimed it at the muscular man who had taken the gun. Behind that man stood seven or eight of the most combat-effective Gaomeng people; tall rainforest warriors standing in a row like stout trees.
“They killed our people!”
“We are going to take revenge!”
“Please let us charge in!”
The Gaomeng people were all talking at once, and because they had been exposed to the wind and rain for several days, their voices weren’t as loud as they had shouted.
Xing Conglian’s calm gaze swept across the faces of those who were carried away by hatred.
“Oh, here,” Xing Conglian said.
“The M16 rifle without the shotgun system is worth $5,000 USD. Counting the complete set of accessories, you’ll be charged $30,000 USD, which is a cheap price. Do you have the money?” Xing Conglian asked lightly.
“We can repay with our lives!” the Gaomeng people said.
Xing Conglian thought it was funny, so he laughed. His thin lips curled a little. “Is your rotten life worth so much money?”
The Gaomeng people became enraged again. They clenched their fists as if they were going to fight their opponents with their bare hands.
The next moment, a Gaomeng man with an ivory pendant that was covered in blood fell to his knees. He raised his head and said to Xing Conglian, “My wife was raped and killed by them downstairs in this building yesterday. Please allow me to avenge my wife.”
Another Gaomeng man raised his pendant to his chest, revealing the photo of a little boy embedded in the pendant. “My child too. Please allow me to avenge him.”
Xing Conglian’s gaze was still cold and hard. He glanced at the riled-up Gaomeng people and said, “After walking out of this building, it will be a combat zone. If you don’t listen to my command, you will be killed.” Speaking in Gaomengnese, Xing Conglian said to the rainforest warriors, “I don’t think there’s any point in reasoning with you. If you believe that killing a few Zaratul people is more important than protecting your own people and leaving safely, then I respect your choice.”
The long, gentle wind blew through the primeval forest, causing the tips of every leaf to tremble.
The commotion started suddenly without warning. The shockwave caused by the explosion made the entire land tremble.
At that time, Duan Yang was pretending to pack up the laboratory while the masked man—ah, no—the Chinese named Lu Jia had just transferred a helicopter through security to send them off. Through Lu Jia’s example, Duan Yang deeply understood the importance of eloquence and acting skills.
He inserted the last test tube into the test tube holder and looked at the laboratory floor worriedly.
Lin Chen was curled up in the most sheltered corner of the entire laboratory. The turquoise blood vessels under his neck were vaguely visible. He was so weak that it seemed he could be crushed by just a pinch of snow.
Earlier, Lin Chen suddenly fell to the ground. After Duan Yang checked, he found that the high fever had finally put Lin Chen in a semi-comatose state. He was burning up like a soldering iron. Given Lin Chen’s situation, Duan Yang forced Lu Jia to change to a vehicle that could leave as soon as possible and demanded that Lu Jia find a helicopter. For this, they waited another forty minutes. While Lu Jia made a phone call in Gaomengnese that they didn’t understand, Duan Yang couldn’t help but admire Lin Chen’s meticulous thinking. If they hadn’t grasped Lu Jia’s weakness, just a simple phone call in Gaomengnese might have pushed them into hell.
However, just after Lu Jia hung up the phone, an explosion sounded. Duan Yang squatted down and pushed Lin Chen into the space under the experimental table. Just as he followed in, an incandescent lamp brushed past his back and crashed into the floor. The broken lamp tubes and powder made the floor a mess.
Not far away, the masked man hid under the table in distress.
In a short period of two or three seconds, there was only the stern roars of the rhesus monkeys in the entire space.
The people in the laboratory weren’t the only ones who were at a loss due to the explosion.
The Zaratul army, which was guarding the gate of the mining area from afar, was also subconsciously looking for a bunker to hide in. Then they started looking for the source of the explosion. When they turned on the communication channel, there was a chaotic buzzing sound, making it impossible for them to contact each other.
Even though Zaratul’s subordinates fought against primitive tribes in the rainforest year-round, it took a while to realize the problem of electromagnetic interference. In the area visible to the naked eye, the power plant building of the mine had been razed to the ground, and the broken bricks and soot rising into the sky had created a perfect smoke bomb. Beside the power plant building, two unprepared barracks were also riddled with holes.
Soldiers with blood on their faces crawled out of the barracks while more people were buried in them.
At this moment, a plume of smoke and dust also appeared on the road facing the door. The soldiers on the watchtower had just been stunned. Before they could accurately report the target, they were hit precisely by eight sniper bullets. The silver bullets made a beautiful arc mixed with red and white plasma as the soldier fell straight down while pulling the tarpaulin covering the machine gun down with him.
At a certain window on the upper floor, the sniper took out a lilac silk scarf from his pocket and kissed the scarf, signifying the successful completion of his first kill.
The modified Hummer crashed straight into the gate of the mines. Zaratul’s subordinates raised their rifles and began to fire back. No one expected that the driver of the Hummer wouldn’t slow down but would blatantly slam against the gate, moving at a fearless speed.
The iron gate suddenly opened, and at the same time the roof of the Hummer opened as well. A most primitive and reliable M2 machine gun poked out its life-harvesting head.
The man who manipulated the machine gun wasn’t one of those beefy machine gunners but a slim, svelte young man. His face was pale and wooden, but he didn’t hesitate to pull the heavy trigger of the M2 machine gun. As a classic weapon used for robbery during World War I, the M2 machine gun was commonly used to attack lightly armored targets and low-altitude air defense, and its killing power was evident.
Accompanied by deafening gunfire, a long steel whip quickly swept out from the muzzle of the machine gun, and flames and bullets hit all the surrounding moving targets. The M16 rifle was utterly useless under such heavy firepower suppression, and even the dilapidated factory building that was swept by the machine gun’s tail was instantly missing a corner and had a tendency to collapse.
Soon, the soldiers at the gate were cleaned up. The remaining soldiers hiding in the bunker looked up at the sky and prayed that the follow-up force wouldn’t be too terrifying.
No one expected that there would only be two men in a Hummer that brazenly challenged the Zaratul drug factory.
What was even more unexpected was that a light ferry with an Angodo Republic tourist company license plate and a capacity of 1,000 people quietly entered the mining area like a ghost.
On the light screen that displayed the location, the ferry entered the designated area. Ye Zhu released the trigger and, taking advantage of the gap, whispered into the communicator, “Area A1 cleared.”
The Gaomeng tribe, which had been besieged for many days, finally stepped out of the crumbling machine repair factory.
The rainforest warriors, armed with shotguns, rushed to the front. Zaratul’s subordinates hiding behind the sandbag bunker never dreamed that those Gaomeng people, whom they had been teasing like mice for many days, really dared to rush out of the factory and fight them to the death.
The fierce firepower collided with each other. Two rainforest warriors instantly fell. At the same time, ghostly sniper bullets shot from the sky again, and two Zaratul machine gunners with heavy weapons were instantly killed.
The Hummer had already rushed to the gate of the factory. The suppressed firepower of the M2 made Zaratul soldiers behind the sandbag bunker extremely suffocated. What was even more unexpected was that the bullets of the M2 machine gun easily penetrated the fragile bunker. Flowers of blood splashed on the sandbag.
More Gaomeng people poured out of the factory building. In the chaos, someone picked up an ivory pendant on the ground and gently closed the eyes of a dead warrior.
A second explosion sounded, and the earliest gravel factory in the mine fell, instantly blocking the remnants of Zaratul’s troops who wanted to pursue the Gaomeng people.
In the laboratory, where the power supply had been cut off, the successive explosions and deafening bullets caused everyone to fall into an extreme panic.
Duan Yang hid under the laboratory table and shivered slightly. He couldn’t see Lin Chen’s face clearly, but a hot hand kept holding his wrist tightly, as if relieved, causing Duan Yang to calm down.
This area wasn’t within the range of the electromagnetic interference. In the dark space, suddenly there was the passionate sound of a phone beeping. Lu Jia hurriedly connected the phone. On the other end of the line, a helicopter operator was roaring. The saying “where there’s a will, there’s a way” probably referred to such a situation. The C4 explosives installed by Kang An were gradually leveling the entire mining area, but miraculously, the helicopter landing site was preserved and intact.
What was even more fortunate was that Xing Conglian didn’t immediately order the launch of two smart bombs to destroy it since he saw through his binoculars that it wasn’t equipped with any ammunition compartment.
The light ferry docked at the pier.
Most of the soldiers stationed at the pier had already rushed to the front line to provide support, and the remaining sporadic soldiers who tried to attack the ferry with rocket launchers were mysteriously killed by a machine gun out of nowhere.
The heavy-firepower Hummer had cleared the way ahead, and the first batch of Gaomeng people ran frantically, arriving at the pier.
The captain of the ferry, named Bao Feng, had a full beard. He gently tidied up his suit and bowtie and walked politely to the deck to greet his guests.
The hatch opened.
In the laboratory, Lu Jia hung up the phone. The ceramic mask on his face had at some point fallen off. He hid under the laboratory table and shouted, “The helicopter is coming! Let’s go!”
The tooth-aching sound of bullets outside the window finally stopped temporarily.
Lin Chen’s slightly calm voice sounded. “Duan Yang, will I still have 12 hours if there’s no medicine?”
The young doctor looked stiff and said angrily, “What are you worrying about? Of course you do. Am I the doctor or you?”
“I understand.” Lin Chen smiled slightly, nodded, and released his hand from his wrist. “Go and assess the situation first.”
Duan Yang nodded. He plucked up the courage, crawled out from under the experiment table, and cautiously opened the door to the monkey room. The monkey cages had collapsed everywhere, and the screams of the rhesus monkeys almost pierced his eardrums.
Duan Yang stumbled and used a little glimmer of light from behind the curtains to figure out a way to the outside. His hands were constantly scratched by the monkeys’ sharp claws that were sticking out of the cages, but he didn’t make any cries of pain.
In the alleyway, a small group of Zaratul soldiers cut in from the rear, and bursts of machine gun fire quickly hit them at the end.
“Go ahead and leave me alone.”
Xing Conglian stood at the end of the migrating crowd. He said something briefly into the communicator, left the end of the team, and flashed into the factory building.
The police captain, armed with a gun, quickly climbed up to the fourth floor. Looking through a scope, a large number of Gaomeng people were still gritting their teeth as they ran hard. The depression in the middle of the group came from a pair of pure white stretchers. On the stretcher, Duan Wanshan’s eyes were closed, completely unaware of his surroundings.
Xing Conglian retracted the muzzle of the gun and pointed it at the Zaratul soldiers, who were gradually approaching the large group.
Duan Yang pulled down the curtains hanging horizontally on the wall of the monkey room letting the sunlight spill in, causing him to cover his eyes.
He looked back at the laboratory. Lu Jia had already followed him out of the innermost room, but Lin Chen’s figure didn’t appear.
Duan Yang rushed back again.
The sunlight from the monkey room caused a faint light to appear in the innermost part of the lab. Lin Chen was leaning against an experimental bench as the dim light cast a layer of blue-gray on his face.
Duan Yang tried to pull him up, but Lin Chen put his hand on his wrist and shook his head.
Although Lin Chen didn’t say a word, Duan Yang instantly understood what the consultant meant.
Lin Chen’s gaze was still clear and firm. There was a trace of tenderness in his eyes that made him immediately relax, as if agreeing to his request.
Duan Yang stopped talking nonsense. He carried Lin Chen on his back and was about to run outside.
Lin Chen suddenly said, “Are you asking me to be a target on your back?”
Duan Yang stood in place, panicking, as Lin Chen slipped off him.
Mr. Consultant supported himself on a lab bench and couldn’t even stand, but still said, “Help me walk out.”
Regarding Lin Chen’s sudden and willful request, Duan Yang didn’t doubt him. He could only hug Lin Chen’s armpit and drag him out.
When he was about to step through the door, Lin Chen suddenly coughed violently, bending his body. He said in pain, “Wait a minute. You pressed my wound.”
Duan Yang hurriedly let go. At the moment he let go of his hand, Lin Chen somehow mustered up enough strength to push him outside and quickly slammed the wooden door of the lab as quick as lightning.
Duan Yang fell heavily to the ground as the rhesus monkey near him screamed.
He climbed up desperately. He didn’t know what was wrong with Lin Chen, but he clenched his fist without hesitation, trying to punch and shatter the glass upper part of the wooden door.
Lin Chen’s weak figure was crumbling at the door. Looking at the calm face of this young man who wasn’t even a few years older than him, Duan Yang couldn’t help shouting, “Motherfucker. Don’t say you’ll drag me down. Let’s go together!”
Lin Chen had already calculated Duan Yang’s thoughts. He stood with difficulty, holding the wooden door. In his other hand, a cold glint from a scalpel appeared at some point. He easily pressed the scalpel to his neck.
“What are you doing?!”
Duan Yang’s tears flowed instantly.
With a second punch, the glass suddenly shattered. Lin Chen took a half step back and fell to the ground, but still held the scalpel firmly in place. He calmly said, “First, if you take me with you, you won’t reach the helicopter smoothly under the hail of bullets.”
“Second, I just discovered that the sound of the explosion from the factory is gradually coming towards the building we’re in. I briefly estimated the detonation time, and the building where we are will be blown up in about five minutes. With me, you’ll never be able to escape the explosion range in such a short period of time. There’s even a greater possibility you’ll be killed by someone. Be mature. Live and avenge me.” He blinked as he said solemnly, “I’ll count to three. Get out, now.”
Xing Conglian, who was in charge of covering the retreat, stood tall on the fourth floor of the factory building. He killed the last soldier in sight and prepared to evacuate.
He pulled the wooden table away and used the scope to lightly draw an arc, trying to confirm that all the targets had been cleared. It was this tiny arc that made his heart beat to its highest speed in an instant. All his blood rushed to his heart in such a short time that his limbs fell into extreme cold numbness, which made him feel as if his soul had popped out of his body.
He saw Lin Chen. Why the hell did he see Lin Chen?
Lin Chen was bent over and coughing. He had pushed away the man next to him and was leaning against the wooden door as he held a blade at his neck, as if he were talking to the person outside the door…
Xing Conglian thought it was an illusion after thinking about him day and night, so he bit the tip of his tongue hard to wake himself up. Lin Chen’s figure was gone. The young man gritted his teeth, turned his head, and left with tears streaming down his face, leaving only broken glass behind.
Xing Conglian felt that he was trembling all over. He pulled his collar and pointed the microphone at him as he tremblingly said, “Stop the detonation. Stop all the detonations. Stop the fucking detonation. Do you hear me!!!”
Wang Chao thought it was a good thing his boss suddenly realized and took the initiative to see his A’Chen Gege.
In line with the principle of respecting the privacy of adults, Comrade Xiao Wang turned on the 360-degree surveillance cameras in their home without any blind spots, and he even thoughtfully chose a location near the bathroom. He thought he understood this very well.
Unfortunately, when the picture appeared, he thought the surveillance at home was broken, because no matter how he adjusted the timeline, no one had ever entered or left the bathroom. What was more terrifying was that the corridor light in front of the bathroom was never turned on. He swallowed, turned his head cautiously, and said, “Boss, it may be that something big happened. Either A’Chen Gege is living at the police station or he doesn’t like to shower!”
God knew how he came up with such a reason as not liking showering, but Xing Conglian’s face turned ugly.
He instantly pulled up the shot of the foyer on the screen. No one, no one, no one…
As the timeline rewound, the final scene captured by the hallway surveillance camera was actually the footage of A’Chen Gege leaving the house on the night when that dumbass Huang Ze came to their home.
Thinking back to the passionate scene he witnessed that day, Wang Chao’s mind was in turmoil. He hoped that Huang Ze, that idiot, wouldn’t play any tricks like “if I can’t have you, no one can,” and after running through countless scenarios of imprisonment in his mind, Wang Chao’s body was electrified.
Xing Conglian still didn’t speak. When Wang Chao looked back, his boss’ face was so cold that it could freeze the entire rainforest.
He trembled and said, “Boss, take a deep breath first. Things may not be what you think!”
Xing Conglian stretched out his hand and pointed to Lin Chen’s hand on the screen. “Zoom in here.”
Wang Chao followed his orders. There were almost no clues from the picture, but it was faintly visible that the gauze on Lin Chen’s palm seemed to be bleeding.
“What’s the matter, Boss?”
“He went out to bandage his wound.”
“And then didn’t come back?”
When Wang Chao said this, he regretted it. When he mentioned the words “didn’t come back”, he felt like he had fallen into a freezer. If he knew that A’Chen Gege would disappear, then the Dana Rainforest was nothing. His boss would probably tie A’Chen Gege to his belt even if he went to Mars.
“Do you need me to check the surveillance at the entrance of the alley that day?” he asked worriedly.
“No need.” There was no discernible emotion in Xing Conglian’s tone. “Just check the missing persons record.”
Wang Chao’s heart trembled as it overflowed with a bad premonition that he couldn’t press the keyboard. “Boss…”
“If you’re asked to check, then check it.”
Wang Chao nodded and opened the database. He entered the name and pressed the Enter key tremblingly. The progress bar quickly ended. In the list of missing persons, Lin Chen’s name suddenly appeared. His photo was still the same as when he joined the police force. In a white shirt with a blue background, his face was calm, as if it were just yesterday.
Wang Chao choked so much that he couldn’t speak.
“Huang Ze, Meijing, and Xiang Ye; he has offended so many people. It’s my fault for being too careless,” Xing Conglian said indifferently.
Although there wasn’t much emotion in his boss’ tone, Wang Chao had been with Xing Conglian for so many years that he instantly sensed a deep regret in the tone. In short, his boss had always been in control of the overall situation, so regret seemed like the kind of thing that was impossible for him.
Wang Chao turned around, but he didn’t know how to comfort him.
However, to his surprise, his boss took out his phone and called the police station.
On the other end of the line.
Comrade Zhang Xiaolong hadn’t closed her eyes for three days and nights. With Wang Chao absent, they lacked the main force for checking electronic materials, so even she was dragged to watch videos. However, no matter how hard they tried, the minivan disappeared on an unmonitored path like a ghost. So many days had passed that Consultant Lin could be tied up in any corner of the world. According to the on-site investigation, the kidnapper’s methods were so professional that Zhang Xiaolong couldn’t help but think of a bad outcome.
Therefore, when her phone vibrated and the caller ID flashed, she thought she was seeing things that were caused by a few days of sleeplessness.
She picked up the phone tremblingly and heard Captain Xing’s low, hoarse voice coming from the other end.
“Lin Chen is missing?” Was the first thing that Xing Conglian said.
“Xing… Captain…” The police officer shuddered and instantly raised her voice. “Where have you been?!” As she said this, tears flowed out involuntarily.
“On some other official duties. Tell me what happened and send the relevant materials to Wang Chao.” The voice on the other end of the phone was so calm and crisp that she thought she was talking to some robot. But it was probably because the voice on the other end of the line was emotionless that it allowed her to gradually calm down. She talked intermittently for a while, mentioning the weird appointment letter and the staff at the pet hospital who disappeared together with Lin Chen, and finally, there was only the sound of even breathing coming from the other end of the line.
“That’s probably it,” she said.
“I see. Thank you, and I’m sorry.”
Xing Conglian hung up the phone.
Wang Chao had received the relevant materials from the police officer. The police in Hongjing had launched a search force that spanned two provinces, but to no avail. They were far away in Dana, so how could they find clues so quickly?
Xing Conglian was so anxious that he watched the surveillance video outside the pet shop over and over again, but he could only watch Lin Chen’s bound hands in the dark night and the moment he was pushed into the rain curtain. The heavy rain was pouring as Lin Chen’s thin figure disappeared at the end of the alley.
Wang Chao’s eyes were red. He turned his head and saw that his boss had been staring at the screen with a cold expression. His dark green eyes were solemn, but he couldn’t perceive any emotions at all.
“Boss, what shall we do?” Wang Chao rubbed his nose as he asked.
“Let Zhang Long bring twice as many bombs and have him show up before 9 tomorrow. Tell him don’t come if he’s late.”
After he finished speaking, Xing Conglian turned and walked into Dr. Duan’s cabin.
At that time, Kang An and Xiao Wu were walking in from outside. Wang Chao rubbed his eyes and tried to hide his emotions.
“Xiao Wang Chao, why are you crying? Where’s the boss?” Kang An asked carelessly.
Wang Chao looked up and saw the obliviously happy and relaxed face of Kang An, and punched it.
Xing Conglian was standing in the hut.
The moon was still clear and cold. Duan Wanshan was asleep on the haystack. Probably because the runned-down room in this dilapidated factory was too quiet, he always felt like the words he had just said to Duan Wanshan seemed to be floating in his ears.
All that “I’ve met someone with determination and perseverance, who even dares to pursue their love” speech now seemed like boastful words coming from a fool.
Xing Conglian clenched his fists and punched the wall.
Powder puffed out, and the noise outside the cabin rose. Xing Conglian was standing by the window. Not far away was the afterimage of the yellow searchlight column sweeping across Zaratul’s camp, and farther away was the eternal night in the rainforest.
Like some slow silent movie, Lin Chen’s thin figure was finally pushed into the rain curtain. He was blindfolded, but he still raised his head and looked around blankly, as if looking for someone.
Xing Conglian unclasped his fists. Originally, he thought that a lifetime was ample time, but now it seemed that things were quite tense.
He was thinking that if the “sorry” he had said to Lin Chen in the square at that time would be the last thing he said to Lin Chen in this life, then how should he live his life in the future?
Thinking about it, he couldn’t imagine that scenario. With no Lin Chen at home on the balcony drinking tea, no Lin Chen in the police station in front of the desk reading documents, and no Lin Chen to go out together to eat breakfast, there was no one to lead the way, which made life dark and meaningless.
He finally understood why Duan Wanshan was so indifferent to death… because there was no point in living.
Xing Conglian glanced at the calm face of Duan Wanshan, who was lying on the haystack after letting go of everything, and walked out.
Wang Chao was pressing on Kang An’s body as he beat him fiercely, while Xiao Wu and Xiao Liu only dared to stand by and watch.
Naturally, with Kang An’s strength, he could easily control Wang Chao, but he only dared to cover his head, afraid that Wang Chao would punch the ground and injure himself even if he dodged.
Looking at the two people on the ground, Xing Conglian said lightly, “Get up.”
Wang Chao’s eyes weren’t the only thing that became red due to excitement and anger; his whole face turned red.
“Boss.” The young teenager lowered his head slightly, and a tear hung on his lower eyelashes. Xing Conglian stretched out his hand, patted him on the head, and said calmly, “After tomorrow, we’ll go back.”
“It has nothing to do with you,” Xing Conglian said.
Lin Chen slept soundly, but Xing Conglian stayed up all night. The Gaomeng people who were preparing for the great escape were already making final preparations. Wooden boards secured the broken bones of the wounded, and everyone had divided all the remaining food.
Xing Conglian and his former subordinates had their own independent space.
The police captain’s side face was chiseled and covered with growing stubble. His gaze was cold enough to drop ice chips. While everyone in the room was still asleep, he folded up the mine terrain map and the communicator’s red light flashed.
At the same time, a ghostly figure appeared on the banks of the Dana River.
Because the dense branches and leaves blocked most of the light, it was almost impossible to see the face of the person. Only a lean figure could be seen quickly taking off their coat, revealing the matte custom wetsuit inside.
The figure squatted down but didn’t go into the water. Instead, they carefully folded the clothes that had just fallen on the soil and even their socks meticulously. Finally, they carefully stuffed all their clothes into a waterproof bag, looked excitedly at the humid and dark sky of the rainforest, then jumped into the dark Dana River.
Langli Bay was located on a tributary of the Dana River. A reinforced concrete and steel bridge built by the French in 1912 spanned the river. The bridge was primarily built to facilitate the transportation of precious wood species and rare metals from the depths of the rainforest. However, control over Langli Bay changed hands several times. Eventually, the rising rainforest overlord, King Zaratul, managed to gain control over Langli Bay Bridge, thus controlling the transportation hub leading deeper into the rainforest.
10 minutes past 7.
The air was filled with the fishy smell unique to the rainforest. Even the rough river water under the bridge couldn’t blow away the stagnant smell.
The soldiers on bridge guard duty began to wait for the shift change as usual. To be honest, although the rainforest was remote, the equipment of the Zaratul Tribe wasn’t too bad. At least in the Dana Region, where second-hand Polish AKs had become standard, the weapons owned by King Zaratul, who acted as a proxy for a great power and had not rusted, were enough to make him dominate this area.
15 minutes past 7.
There was still a quarter of an hour before it was time to change shifts. The soldiers, who had been standing for three hours, had reached their most sleepy moment. One was physical hardship, while the other was psychological slack. After all, in the Dana Region, no one had dared rush into King Zaratul’s military facilities for many years.
The people waiting to cross the bridge had already formed a short queue, when a modified military Hummer attracted the attention of the soldiers guarding the bridge.
There was a cocky young man wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses sitting in the driver’s seat. The seasoned soldier recognized the watch on the young man’s hand as a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, which was extremely valuable and the most important hard currency. Several soldiers guarding the bridge looked at each other and quickly let the refugees blocked in front of them pass through the bridge and onto the iron fence before stopping the Hummer.
The young man driving the car was still cocky. His short hair was fixed upright with hairspray. Facing a dozen AKs, he didn’t lift his head. The first thing he said turned out to be foul-mouthed. “Fuck!”
The soldiers guarding the bridge were scolded in a daze. How could anyone come to Dana dare be so arrogant?
The arrogant young man wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses in the driver’s seat was very casual when faced with the cold barrel of a gun. He lifted his sunglasses over his head and pulled out a pass from the partition, along with some US dollar bills that were also tucked in the partition, which scattered on the ground. The young man impatiently waved away the bills in front of the car and spoke in broken Dana language, “Idiot, have you heard of Anda Mining? Your boss wants to ask my dad to buy biomineral mining technology. Get the hell out of laozi’s way.”
The words “Anda Mining” and “biological mining technology” were like a foreign language to ordinary bridge guards, but it seemed that this was a prince of a certain company that had business dealings with Zaratul. Someone took the pass and immediately reported it to check the identity.
The quick-eye soldier had already opened the car door and retrieved two shiny guns from the trunk. The streamlined gun god and the black, cool gun body made the soldier holding the gun handle cheer happily.
“Poor bastards. Never seen a gun before?” The young man cursed.
The soldier in charge of verification quickly returned, and the excitement of catching a fat sheep was no longer there. He returned the pass and then saluted in an informal manner.
The young man flipped his middle finger to all the black guards guarding the bridge and honked the horn to signal them to open the iron gate.
As the young man stepped on the gas, just before the modified Hummer passed the checkpoint, for some unknown reason, the arrogant prince in the car had a thought, and he grabbed the stack of US bills on the dashboard and threw them out of the window.
“Kneel and call me Dad!” the young man shouted in Chinese.
The picture finally ended with the arrogant laughter of the young man and the smoke and dust rushing out of the exhaust pipe.
So much so that no one noticed that, while all the soldiers were scrambling for the money, a small and inconspicuous directional mine flew out from under the Hummer’s chassis, as if remotely controlled, skimmed across the bridge deck, and closely stuck to the pier.
When Xing Conglian saw his neatly dressed subordinate, he was sitting next to Duan Wanshan.
A few minutes ago, the Gaomeng people on night watch reported the news that Duan Wanshan refused to evacuate together.
Sitting next to the doctor, Xing Conglian was no longer as irritable as before and was extremely arrogant and cold. He stopped talking nonsense, took out a pistol from his pocket, loaded it, and pointed at the Gaomeng man in front of him as he said to the doctor, who was more concerned with the Gaomeng peoples safety than helping them, “I know you have many reasons not to want to be a burden to us, but I also have a reason to try to get you out alive. Cooperate well. Otherwise, none of the Gaomeng people here will leave alive.”
Perhaps it was because Xing Conglian’s attitude was so resolute that it was like hardened steel. Even Duan Wanshan, who was about to die, was also aroused with a trace of bloodlust. “I understand.” The doctor nodded hard.
Comrade Zhao Hu had pushed open the door and entered the room in this situation. He saw his boss holding a gun, his eyes full of murderous intent. The first thing he said was, “Boss, whoever you want us to take care of, we’ll take care of them!”
Xing Conglian put down his gun and looked at the equipment on Zhao Hu’s back and said lightly, “I didn’t ask you to come here to talk. Follow me.”
Duan Yang got up early. At 5 in the morning, he had already gotten up. The lights weren’t turned on in the lab, so it was still dim. He washed his face with cold water. After checking Lin Chen’s condition, he began the final preparations before their kidnapping operation.
Inside the dissecting room, he turned his back to the surveillance and took out plasma extracted from the body of the rhesus monkey he killed yesterday. Just like the chicken and duck blood cubes in the market, he added sodium chloride to the plasma, which made the blood of the rhesus monkey coagulated into clots. Duan Yang carefully crushed it with force, turning it into a disgusting semi-solid state. He drew a tube of it with a syringe, attached the needle, and remained calm, as if he were conducting the most ordinary scientific experiment.
After doing all this, he began to pretend to be busy. When it was five minutes short of eight, the outermost door opened, and a thin white figure slowly passed through the dense monkey cage. The unlucky monkeys were frightened, causing them to yell.
When the last door opened, Lin Chen groaned in pain before waking up.
The weirdo wearing the porcelain-white mask stood in front of them.
After Lin Chen’s analysis yesterday, Duan Yang suddenly felt that the weirdo, who looked like he could eat human blood raw, was just an unorthodox cheat.
“How’s the progress?” the inorganic electronic voice rang out.
“Because you haven’t seen a real psychopath, the truly terrifying people are always those who seem harmless.”
Duan Yang meditated on what Lin Chen had said to him. According to the original plan, he said to the masked man, “I need to see a paper to study a new purification method.”
He pointed his finger at the computer in the corner of the lab and asked, “Can I use the computer?”
Although he couldn’t see the masked man’s expression clearly, he still sensed that the other party was looking at him up and down with hesitant eyes.
“This is important. No researcher’s work should be conducted without consulting relevant literature,” Duan Yang emphasized.
Finally, the masked man nodded and walked to the computer desk in the corner. “Tell me what you want me to check.”
Duan Yang hung his hand to his side, followed the masked man, and stood with his back to the surveillance.
“Close your eyes!” The masked man sitting in front of the computer said coldly.
Duan Yang turned around as he spoke, and after hearing six simple keyboard tapping sounds, Duan Yang turned his head and put his hand on the masked man lightly.
The masked man trembled suddenly, and a chill ran down his spine to the back of his head. Just as he wanted to move, he felt a needle about to pierce his skin.
The idiot young man, whom he didn’t even want to look at before, was now speaking to him in a very cold and heartless tone. “Don’t move. In fact, the coldness you feel on your back is from a needle.”
The young man paused, then continued to calmly say, “The needle is a disposable product in the lab, but the contents inside are quite special. I guarantee that as soon as you show any reaction to being kidnapped or shout for help, the contents of the needle will be injected into your body within one-tenth of a second. Of course, you’re probably asking, what’s so terrible inside? I can only say, Mr. Masked Weirdo, have you ever heard of Ebola*?”
*A viral hemorrhagic fever in humans and other primates, caused by ebolaviruses. Symptoms typically start anywhere between two days and three weeks after infection. The first symptoms are usually fever, sore throat, muscle pain, and headaches. These are usually followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash and decreased liver and kidney function, at which point some people begin to bleed both internally and externally. It kills between 25% and 90% of those infected – about 50% on average. The virus is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as blood from infected humans or animals.
The masked man thought, ‘I’ve been in the rainforest for so long. Of course I have heard of Ebola. How the hell haven’t I heard of this deadly virus that has ravaged Africa and killed tens of thousands of people?’ But in order to maintain the advantage, he still asked in an extremely calm tone, “Do you think I’m that stupid? This laboratory is completely under my control. Where did you get the Ebola virus from? If you want to make up a story, at least make it more believable.”
“According to your request, when I checked the monkeys yesterday, I found a group of strange sick monkeys. Those monkeys had congested eyes and were dying. Based on some experience, I performed a dissection on one of the monkeys. Of course, your dissection room can’t achieve the level of a Level 4 biochemical protection, so when I found that the monkey’s blood was almost coagulated after it was cut open, it was too late, and I was exposed to the virus. You should know that the blood of the deceased is semi-coagulated, which is a typical feature of the Ebola virus.” There was a faint resentment in the young man’s tone. “I don’t know if I have been infected with the virus, but if I get it, I will drag you down with me, understand?”
The trembling and anger in the young man’s voice made the masked man terrified. He raised his head and subconsciously looked at the dissection room. The door was closed, but through the glass, he could see the horrible monkey corpse lying on the dissection table. As the man said, the rhesus monkey’s blood showed a coagulated dark red color, which was disgusting.
“Calm down!” he said reluctantly. “It may not be Ebola. It can’t be just a coincidence.”
“Cut the crap.” The young man raised his voice and leaned closer to the masked man’s ear. “Of course, you don’t have to believe it, but in any case, we’ll die together!”
The masked man swallowed, and his voice became cautious. “What do you want?”
“I want to make a deal.”
“Do you think you can get out of here alive by killing me with a virus?”
“If we can’t get out of here, you’ll immediately be injected with a needle full of Ebola. The astronomical number of viruses in it will completely swallow you within a week. You’ll bleed and die miserably. Even the shit and urine flowing out of your body will carry coagulated plasma. You can certainly take a gamble,” the young man responded.
There was an imperceptible tremor in the electronic sound. The masked man took a deep breath. “Don’t be impulsive. Everything can be discussed.”
“There’s nothing to talk about,” the young man said simply. “Answer my question. Who do you serve? Don’t try to lie.”
“The armed militants of the Dana Region?”
“Find the official website of this armed organization online and show it to me,” Duan Yang said.
The masked man trembled violently and opened the NoFacebooK homepage of the Zaratul Tribe.
Duan Yang compared the patterns of the python and jaguar above and nodded.
“Next, take out your phone and record a video.”
“In order to cooperate happily, we must have the appropriate bargaining chips,” Duan Yang said coldly. “Please admit in English that you slept with Zaratul’s wife.”
The masked man felt incredulous. “What did you say?”
At that moment, a weak but rather calm voice sounded from his side. Lin Chen at some point had stood up and was leaning against a table as he explained, “He means that because we don’t speak the same language in the Dana Region and are very afraid of being easily betrayed in the process of being taken out with you, we have to find some leverage on you. I’ll store it in a timed email that, if not resolved within 24 hours, will reveal a video of you and Mrs. Zaratul having an affair with the organization’s official email and message board. If we can successfully escape from this place under your protection, I’ll fulfill my promise to cancel the scheduled email.”
Although the black-haired young man in front of him looked extremely weak and seemed about to collapse, the threat in his calm tone was even more threatening than the one who was holding him hostage with the needle.
“The countdown is three seconds,” the black-haired young man said. “Three…”
“I’ll record it. I’ll record it!” The masked man replied hastily.
With the press of the Enter key, an email that might take his life lay quietly in the mailbox, waiting to be sent out.
The cold needle was finally withdrawn from his back.
“Where is the medicine I asked you to find? Did you bring it?” The doctor holding the deadly virus asked.
“I was just about to say that the Langli Bridge was blown up so the car delivering the medicine… couldn’t get in,” the masked man said in horror.
Duan Yang turned off most of the lights in the laboratory. He then turned on a table lamp and sat down beside Lin Chen.
He was afraid that Lin Chen would suddenly not last in the middle of the night, so he could only use the most primitive method to disinfect Lin Chen’s wounds regularly. Fortunately, there was enough anhydrous alcohol in the lab. Although it wasn’t much use, he still cut open a lab coat, dipped it in diluted alcohol, and let Lin Chen clip it under his armpits and apply it to his forehead to lower his body temperature.
Surprisingly, Lin Chen cooperated.
There was a faint smell of alcohol in the air. Duan Yang felt that he was almost drunk. Thinking of Lin Chen’s previous words, he looked at the haggard face of Mr. Consultant lying next to him. He actually asked subconsciously, “Consultant Lin, what kind of person do you love?”
After speaking out, Duan Yang felt regret. He would surely be scolded by Lin Chen again for asking such a question.
“A very handsome person.”
What Duan Yang didn’t expect was that Lin Chen actually answered him.
“Eh? Handsome? I thought you would use some other adjective.”
“Is it too vulgar?”
“No, no.” Duan Yang thought to himself, ‘Lin Chen’s taste is really different that he actually likes handsome girls*.’
*Clarity: Lin Chen isn’t using any specific gender pronouns when he’s talking to Duan Yang, so Duan Yang doesn’t know that person is a man.
“That’s right. Handsome for everyone to see, but only I know their inner beauty,” Lin Chen added.
“Then… Do they know that you love them?” Duan Yang felt a bit tangled, but he still tried asking.
“Yes, I confessed.”
As if seeing through his thoughts, Lin Chen opened his eyes slightly and looked askance at him. “Is the next thing you want to ask is: Consultant Lin, how did you confess?”
“I’m just… asking.” Duan Yang hesitated.
“At that time… it was basically an accident. I forcibly kissed them,” Lin Chen said calmly.
Duan Yang was shocked again. “Didn’t the girl get scared by that?”
“What girl? He’s a man.”
Hearing this, Duan Yang almost bit his tongue. “What… What do you like about men?”
“You have a crush on your Teacher Duan yet you don’t allow me to like men?”
“That’s not what I meant.” Duan Yang hurriedly shook his hand. “But is the person you like also a policeman?”
“Yes. My superior.”
Lin Chen was quite ill, but he was still talking to him in a decisive tone, as if his physical illness couldn’t affect his will.
Duan Yang asked, “Will there be any problems, such as disagreement from your leaders or gossip among colleagues?”
“A lot of people talk nonsense every day. Do I have to listen to everything they say and keep it in my heart?”
“You really are…” Duan Yang couldn’t help leaning against the experiment table and stretched out his legs. “Amazing.”
“What kind of evaluation is this?”
“To be honest, Consultant Lin, I really want to be someone like you…”
Lin Chen said, “Is the following sentence: If I were like you, I might already be with Teacher now.”
“It’s impossible… It’s impossible for Teacher to be with me,” Duan Yang interrupted.
“Just say what you want. I won’t ask why.”
Duan Yang lowered his head and looked into Lin Chen’s dark, calm eyes. “Because I did something very excessive to Teacher.”
Lin Chen frowned, and his expression became serious. “What did you do?”
Duan Yang gently covered his face with his hands as he recalled that night. The feeling of remorse submerged him again like sea water. “That day, our laboratory was involved in a big project, and everyone stayed up for many days and nights, but the seniors were excited. Yes, Teacher also came by that day. There was something wrong with the experiment. Teacher stayed late and said he would sleep in the lounge. If there was any problem, we could call him at any time. There weren’t enough beds in the lounge, so originally I slept on the floor next to Teacher’s bed, but Teacher asked me to sleep on the bed so I wouldn’t catch a cold, so I went up. I… I slept on the same bed as Teacher.”
“Hmm… and then what?”
“Then, we fell asleep. I really like Teacher, so I couldn’t help but hold him and kiss him while he slept next to me. Teacher must’ve known. After that, he seemed very upset. When the experiment ended, he never came back that summer. Later, we received news that he had resigned to participate in medical assistance work. He must’ve known that I had kissed him and disliked me, but didn’t want to affect me, so he left…” Duan Yang paused, took a deep breath, then continued, “At the beginning, I called him every day and sent countless messages. I wanted to apologize to him and say sorry, but his phone was always off, and he never replied to my messages. Later, I heard news about him from an older student who followed in his footsteps. I asked her to ask Teacher for me, and he clearly expressed that he didn’t want me to come to Dana and that I should stay in China. Looking back now, I realize that I wasn’t brave enough. I should have bought a plane ticket and gone there. It’s only a short distance away, and I could have apologized to him face to face after taking a few more trips.” Duan Yang’s mood became more depressed. He couldn’t speak when he thought about all the emails that he sent that went unanswered. “It’s all my fault. I’m sorry… I’m really sorry…”
“Come here,” Lin Chen said suddenly.
Duan Yang looked at him with red eyes.
“Lower your head a little.”
Following Lin Chen’s instructions, he lowered his head inexplicably. The next moment, a thin palm gently covered the top of his head and then rubbed his hair fiercely.
“Stupid. If it’s because he hates your kisses and hugs, he can think of 10,000 ways to punish you. Why would he leave on his own?”
Duan Yang heard Lin Chen say.
When Duan Wanshan began his story, Xing Conglian already felt regret.
Since Duan Wanshan was dying, no matter how sweet the story he told, it would naturally be a tragedy. Although the tragedy was thought-provoking, he was still in a bad mood as he listened to it.
“Actually, I’m not that great. I gave up my high paying medical job in China and came here to the Dana Region to aid in medical care because I fell in love with one of my students.”
Xing Conglian’s cigarette just burned out, almost burning his fingers. He looked at the doctor sitting against the wall on the haystack and asked, “So scandalous? A teacher-student relationship?”
“Yes, and it’s a boy,” Duan Wanshan said frankly.
Xing Conglian stared at Duan Wanshan with wide eyes.
Probably seeing his reaction, Duan Wanshan said, “At that time, I felt like falling in love with a male student was like a bolt from the blue. He was such a naïve young man who was taller than me and surrounded me every day, calling me ‘Teacher, Teacher’, wholeheartedly respecting and admiring me. But all I could think about were things beyond a teacher-student relationship. Social norms told me that this was called a teacher-student romance, which was slightly better than other improper relationships. I felt like something wasn’t right about it. Anyway, falling in love is just like taking drugs; both stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain. I felt happy when I saw him and thought I liked him very much. To be honest, I couldn’t explain what ‘liking’ meant. There’s no reason for liking someone anyway. So, compared to others, I paid special attention to him. He thought I was targeting him, so he always looked at me with fawn-like eyes as he ran around me every day, just to make me a little happier.”
Duan Wanshan’s tone, when he talked about this matter, was indifferent. He didn’t even have the slightest painful reaction and seemed happy even.
“From when you like someone to when you make up your mind to leave them, something must have happened between now and then, right?”
“Of course. At first, it was my own inability to let go. Although I liked him, I didn’t dare pursue him. I also thought about confessing my feelings to him, but I felt embarrassed and just let it drag on. Until one day, I heard that he got a girlfriend. I watched as that girl walked into the school holding his hand. He reached out and rubbed her head. It was a beautiful sight… That’s when I realized that I could finally let go.”
“You don’t call this letting go.”
Just as Duan Wanshan put the bottle on the ground, he couldn’t find it even after searching for a while. Xing Conglian looked at him with unfocused eyes, afraid that the toxins from sepsis had invaded his optic nerve, causing his vision to gradually deteriorate. Xing Conglian reached out and picked up the bottle of “Niulan Mountain” Erhuotou, handing it to Duan Wanshan.
“Yeah, it’s not called letting go if you’ve never had it, right?” Duan Wanshan took a sip of the alcohol. “At that time, I happened to see the introduction to the Dana Region and the recruitment notice from Doctors Without Borders, so I went to participate. Looking back now, I was probably angry because I saw him with a girlfriend, but I had no reason to be. I could only torture myself. Now that I’ve risked my life here, I do have some regrets when I think back on it. Why couldn’t I think clearly back then?”
“It’s really stupid,” Xing Conglian commented.
In a daze, Xing Conglian seemed to see Duan Wanshan flipping him off with his middle finger. This kind of action was done by a man who looked like an old farmer and had the air of a suave scholar. It was so incongruous that he didn’t have time to react before he heard Duan Wanshan continue.
“It doesn’t hurt to stand and talk less. When it comes to relationship problems, not everyone can be like you; having determination, perseverance, and even full ability to pursue what they love. Many people don’t even know their feelings and let go of true love in hesitation…”
“Of course I’m not in pain because I have encountered someone with determination and perseverance, who even dares to pursue what they love,” Xing Conglian said.
Duan Wanshan almost spat out the alcohol he just swallowed. His face was flushed, and he turned his head as he angrily said, “Don’t you think it’s too much to show off your affection to a dying person?”
Xing Conglian spread his hands. “I’m just telling the truth.”
“I envy you very much.” Duan Wanshan raised the alcohol bottle and saluted him from afar.
“I envy myself too,” Xing Conglian said solemnly.
That night, Duan Wanshan probably really regarded him as a confidant and told him many things.
He hoped to spread the news and let his colleagues at the Dana General Hospital temporarily act as the dean and manage the hospital affairs. While on the topic, Duan Wanshan also mentioned that the hospital was currently lacking funds and that it would be great if someone could invest more.
Xing Conglian always felt that the other party was taking the opportunity to rob the rich to help the poor, but people like Duan Wanshan had wishes before they died that weren’t so simple. He even asked if he knew any wealthy people and hoped that someone could invest more money to facilitate the establishment of a pre-observation station for the Dana Rainforest viruses. Duan Wanshan said that if such an observation had existed at that time, HIV might not have had a chance to spread from the African rainforest and kill tens of millions of people worldwide, so it was quite important.
Duan Wanshan really talked too much. In the end, Xing Conglian couldn’t help it and asked, “Don’t you think it’s too much to ask for so much from someone you just met?”
“What can I do? I’m dying and there are still so many things unfinished. What’s wrong with just telling someone about it?” Duan Wanshan said.
Probably because he was too righteous, Xing Conglian couldn’t find the words to refute. “You might as well talk about you and your student and if you need me to bring anything to him.”
Duan Wanshan shook his head. “It’s too deliberate to specifically let him know that I’m dead and bring him my relics.”
“Then what do you want?”
“I think he’d make a great doctor.”
Xing Conglian walked out of the room and closed the door gently.
Many of the Gaomeng people in the factory were instantly awoken and looked at him with vigilant but questioning eyes.
Without words, Xing Conglian glanced at the door and nodded to everyone, indicating that Dr. Duan was still alive, but his life was only temporary.
Xing Conglian looked around. Wang Chao was operating the laptop in the corner, and everyone else was gone.
Xing Conglian walked over, patted the young teenager on the shoulder, and said to him, “Pull up the surveillance at home. I want to see him.”
The militants downstairs seemed to think it wasn’t enough and kept torturing the poor woman’s body. There was no more painful pleading. Duan Yang could only hear cruel laughter that was so unbridled that it pierced the sky.
He silently closed the curtains, feeling that it was enough for him to witness alone.
Lin Chen was still asleep at the other end, while Xing Conglian retracted his head back at the same time.
Xing Conglian returned to his subordinates and kicked open the door.
Xiao Wu and Kang An were sitting together, while Wang Chao and Xiao Liu were muttering about something.
“Boss!” The four of them stood up.
Xing Conglian didn’t bother talking nonsense with any of them. “Xiao Wu and Xiao Liu, go determine the number of available combatants among the Gaomeng people and what’s left of the ammunition reserves. We’re going to evacuate…”
“Take… How many people are we going to take to evacuate?” Xiao Liu asked anxiously.
“Everyone in this building and all the Gaomeng people who were captured by the Zaratul tribe.”
“But where are we going to evacuate? Zaratul wants the Gaomeng people, and I’m afraid that no one in the entire Dana Region, including neighboring countries, would dare accept them.”
“Do you know now?” Xing Conglian sneered coldly.
“Boss…” Xiao Liu laughed.
“At the mouth of the Dana River, in the port of Kagasi. I’ll arrange a boat to take them to a country that’s willing to accept refugees.”
Wang Chao couldn’t help it. He raised his hand and asked, “Then Boss, what about me?”
“Cut the crap. What can you do? Can the five of us cover the evacuation of so many people? Of course, we have to find more people,” Xing Conglian said.
Wang Chao rolled up his cuffs and his eyes lit up. “Are we calling for some help to bring weapons? How many people should we call? I remember there are still many secret militant bases of various countries nearby. There is also a branch of the Black Hawk Security, a mercenary organization. Boss, which one should we call? I’ll handle it!”
“What are you thinking?” Xing Conglian was annoyed. “Check who has recently traveled and find three of them.”
“Three?” Wang Chao asked.
“A sniper, a heavy firepower, and a bomb expert.”
“Understood.” Wang Chao quickly took out his phone, clicked on the chat group, and sent a group message. Soon, the pinging prompt sounded like popping beans. “Boss… They said they are all free…”
Xing Conglian didn’t bother to care about how many tasks those people skipped so that they were “free”. He simply said, “Since they’re all free, let Zhang Long, Zhao Hu, and Ye Zhu come. I’ll give you the equipment list later for you to tell them what to bring.” He looked at his watch. “I want to see someone before noon tomorrow, Dana time.”
Wang Chao nodded vigorously.
As soon as his voice fell, Kang An raised his hand abruptly and said actively, “Boss, what do you need me to do?”
“Do me a favor,” Xing Conglian said coldly.
“What kind of favor, Boss? Just ask!”
“Stay out of my sight and don’t let me see you!”
Kang An made a bitter face. “I’m sorry.”
“All right. Get out and grab two of Zaratul’s soldiers and interrogate them about the layout of the mine, then scout their troop arrangements.”
“Got it!” Kang An finally recovered from the state of a wilted eggplant and rushed out the door like the wind after speaking.
“You have terrible judgment.” Xing Conglian glanced at Xiao Wu as he said coldly.
When Lin Chen woke up, he saw Duan Yang’s quiet face, which looked quite different.
The young man was wearing a mask and was standing in front of a test bench, staring at a blood sample in front of him. Lin Chen wondered what he was doing.
He coughed softly, causing Duan Yang to hurriedly turn his head. He put down the work at hand, squatted down after washing his hands, and put his cold fingers on Lin Chen’s wrist. He briefly measured his body temperature and heartbeat, then carefully checked his eyes.
Perhaps because Duan Yang was wearing a mask, Lin Chen felt he seemed a bit colder, but soon, the coldness in his brows was replaced by deep worry. “Consultant Lin, what’s wrong with you?”
“I feel uncomfortable all over,” Lin Chen said with a smile.
“I’m asking you very seriously.”
“I also answered very seriously. It really hurts all over. If you really develop a new type of poison, please give me the first shot.”
“Please stop joking,” Duan Yang said with a serious expression.
Lin Chen struggled to get up, and the doctor began to get angry. As a patient, he should be more obedient.
Lin Chen nodded and looked at the experiment table again. “Are you really studying the drug?”
Duan Yang felt a little embarrassed. “You were sleeping just now, so I checked a few of the rhesus monkeys that were locked up. There is indeed a problem with the monkeys here.”
“Of course there would be a problem if they were injected with a high-purity drug.”
“New drugs are always different.”
“The drugs injected into the rhesus monkeys here are different from common drugs. Typically, addiction comes with severe psychological cravings, but some of these monkeys, despite being agitated and restless, don’t seem agitated because they are unable to obtain something. They seem to still be in a normal state after being injected with drugs. How long has it been? It’s impossible…” Duan Yang muttered to himself. “I didn’t understand before how the new drug developed by Zhorui Pharmaceutical was related to this kind of drug, but it may indeed affect some substance in the brain…”
“It is indeed strange.” Lin Chen struggled to stand up. “Help me take a look.”
“You—you, don’t get up.” Duan Yang pressed Lin Chen back to the ground. “I put the monkey in the lab window to show you, so just lie down and watch.”
Lin Chen thought for a while and said, “No need. I should trust your judgment.”
“What were you doing just now?”
“I see that there is a sliding phase column here. I want to use the most primitive method to separate the drugs from the blood and see if we can recover it.”
“I see.” Lin Chen nodded. “But after you’re done, remember to destroy the results. Only you can know it.”
“Where were we?” He asked Duan Yang.
Duan Yang had an expression of annoyance at being interrupted, but he still answered seriously. “You said that the masked man captured us because only he could communicate with us here without worrying about us informing anyone else. You emphasized that this was important, and then there was no further mention of it…”
“Of course this is important. It reminds us that when making an escape plan, we must take the language barrier into account. In other words, we only have one option, which is to kidnap the masked man and escape with him. We must also make sure to control his weakness beforehand, forcing him to take us out alive.”
“Escape?” Duan Yang’s eyes widened. “Are we going to escape?”
“What else? Sit still?” Lin Chen opened some of the experimental coats covering his body and asked rhetorically.
“But how can we kidnap him?” Duan Yang thought for a while. “There are a lot of knives in the dissecting room. If all else fails, I can even load a glass slide!”
Lin Chen said coldly, “The surveillance system here tells us that once you rush to draw a knife to restrain him, soldiers will soon rush in and beat you into a bloody pulp with their AKs.”
“Then…” Duan Yang shuddered, and his face wrinkled. “You mean, just the two of us, we have to quietly subdue the masked man under surveillance and force him to take us out? How can this be done?”
“I have no idea.”
“There’s only one general direction.”
“For example, are you making a love potion right now?”
“What?” Duan Yang showed an incredulous look.
“What I mean is, I need a drug that will make him forget who he is and obediently follow our orders after he takes it. For example, a hallucinogenic spray that can make people give up all their possessions after a single spray.”
“There is no such drug. It’s all a lie,” Duan Yang said with a serious expression.
“Well, you’re being too honest,” Lin Chen said regretfully. “Then we are screwed.”
Duan Yang suddenly said, “You mean, a knife isn’t good, but it’s okay to drug him?”
Lin Chen nodded. “The reason why a knife won’t work is simple. We only have one chance. It’s very difficult for you to covertly control his lifeline with a cold weapon under surveillance.”
“What if it’s a needle?”
“A small syringe…” Duan Yang said suddenly, looking at the monkey outside.
Lin Chen’s thoughts turned, and he understood Duan Yang’s meaning. “I think, let’s give it a try. If it doesn’t work, we’ll just die. It’s no big deal.”
Duan Yang took a long breath, unable to laugh or cry. “Consultant Lin, you’re so sick. Can you stop joking.”
“It’s good to joke. At least it can cover up my true mood right now.”
“What are you covering up?”
“Because I’m afraid that you will lose your faith in perseverance if you know that I’m dying of illness.”
“Consultant Lin…” The young doctor frowned again.
“Duan Yang.” Lin Chen suddenly raised his voice.
The young man in front of him shuddered.
“If you want to get out of here alive, stop putting any emotion on your face.”
“I… I’ll try my best.”
The setting sun of the rainforest gradually descended from the side of the Xazi mountain range, and darkness gradually covered the entire forest.
Xing Conglian’s former subordinates had already scattered and worked separately while he sat alone in the room smoking.
Outside, there was the sound of hungry Gaomeng people sharing the only dry food left. The charcoal fire crackled, mixed with the voices of parents comforting their children, couples consoling each other, and, of course, the voice of the doctor checking on the patients’ condition. In short, those soft Gaomeng words fell on Xing Conglian’s ears, which made him irritable.
He flicked the cigarette butt away and fell asleep on the haystack.
The door of the room was pushed open, and Duan Wanshan’s stumbling figure appeared.
Xing Conglian opened his mouth, but before he could speak, Duan Wanshan closed the door. At the moment the door closed, Duan Wanshan’s entire body seemed as if it were being pulled from his spine as he visibly collapsed, falling to the ground with a thud.
Xing Conglian stood up and helped the man to the haystack to lie down. Duan Wanshan laid on the haystack, like a candle that had burned the last of its remaining life and had exhausted all his strength. He opened his eyes slightly and stared at Xing Conglian with a weak but serious gaze, as if he had a lot to say.
Xing Conglian felt unpleasant. “Professor Duan, you look as if you’re going to leave me with something, but I don’t want it.”
“It’s not a consignment.” Duan Wanshan struggled to reach into his pocket. “I have a bottle of liquor in my pocket. Take it out and see if it’s broken.”
Xing Conglian lowered his head and saw Duan Wanshan’s right hand trembling. He hadn’t pulled the zipper of his jacket open even halfway. He raised his eyebrows and helped out. Sure enough, there was a palm-sized bottle of liquor in Duan Wanshan’s arms. “It’s Erguotou, from my hometown, Niulanshan.”
Duan Wanshan was lying on the ground, struggling to sit up.
Xing Conglian couldn’t bear to watch anymore, so he leaned the person against the wall.
Duan Wanshan handed him the bottle.
Xing Conglian didn’t take it. “What’s this?”
“A gift as thanks.”
“This gift is too light.”
“But the sentiment is heavy.”
Duan Wanshan held it in his hand persistently and said, “I took the trouble to ask a friend to bring this from Taipei and never drank it. It has been put away for a whole decade.”
“Then I can’t accept it even more, because the next thing you’ll surely say is that you won’t have a chance to drink it in your life anyway.” Xing Conglian curled his lips and responded coldly.
“Hahahahahaha.” Duan Wanshan laughed heartily. His laughter was weak, but he seemed to have a carefree attitude towards life and death. He mustered up the strength to twist off the bottle cap and took a big swig, saying, “I still have a chance to drink.”
Under the moonlight, the doctor’s face was pale, perhaps signifying he was close to death. Surprisingly, from the old-farmer-like face of Duan Wanshan, Xing Conglian saw some traces of his youthful handsomeness. Actually, the word “youthful” wasn’t appropriate, as Xing Conglian had seen Duan Wanshan’s resume. This doctor was just in his forties, and according to the existing age classification of the United Nations, people in their forties were still considered young. But perhaps the years in Dana had aged Duan Wanshan beyond his true age.
Xing Conglian couldn’t help but say, “You can’t die.”
“Everyone has to die.”
“Your current state makes laozi feel like I went through all this trouble to come to Dana to save you, but as soon as you see me, you give up and say you’re going to die. It makes me feel like helping you is what’s going to kill you.”
Duan Wanshan shook his head. He bowed his knees and rolled up his trouser legs layer by layer. Only then did Xing Conglian see the wounds that had been covered under the trousers and had been festering for many days. It should be a gunshot wound. The wound was blocked by a wooden stick. In the rotting wound, muddy and smelly blood was still oozing out. Duan Wanshan seemed to have applied herbal medicines to the wound, but for a gunshot wound, this kind of treatment was simply a drop in the bucket.
Xing Conglian raised his eyes and looked at the doctor’s slightly flushed face after drinking, but he knew very well that this flush was more like a return to the light.
“Sepsis*. The toxins have already spread throughout my body. Even amputation won’t help. But I’m not trying to make a point. I’m just telling you that I’ll die whether you come or not,” Duan Wanshan said. “But it just wouldn’t be worth it.”
*Also known as blood poisoning, is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs. It requires immediate treatment. Without timely treatment, sepsis can rapidly lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.
“Do you think it’s worth it for you to die now?” Xing Conglian asked rhetorically.
“Haha.” Duan Wanshan’s chest rose and fell with a mixture of laughter and pain. “I just have to face it head-on since there’s nothing else I can do. What else can I do?”
When Duan Wanshan responded with the rhetorical question, “What else can I do?”, upon hearing it, Xing Conglian suddenly realized that there was no other choice for someone like Duan Wanshan but to face the situation head-on. Abandoning over a thousand people and escaping alone wasn’t an option.
He sneered again and found that the number of times he sneered had increased day by day since he came to Dana.
“Have you ever thought that if you lived, with the rest of your remaining life, you might be able to save ten or even twenty times more people than those that are out there?”
“I didn’t know I was going to die either until I got shot.”
“What if you knew you were going to die?” Xing Conglian insisted.
“Do you have to ask such harsh questions?”
“It’s a very interesting proposition, and it makes sense to ask these questions to someone who is going to die.”
Duan Wanshan lowered his eyes, as if in deep thought, but Xing Conglian clearly saw the various emotions that flashed on the doctor’s face. Finally, after careful consideration, Duan Wanshan looked up at him. “I should still help.”
“Because no one can tell what will happen in the future. The 10,000 people in the future have their own people who can save them. And I’m pretty sure that if I see these Gaomeng people die without reaching out, then I will live in regret and guilt for the rest of my life, which is more painful than death. I think your subordinates think so too,” Duan Wanshan said slowly.
“Why do you want to be a peacemaker when you’re dying?” Xing Conglian felt that when Duan Wanshan talked about regret and guilt, he was just stating facts without any emotions. “Do you really feel regret?”
Duan Wanshan said bluntly, “This matter is weird. I haven’t investigated it clearly yet, so I don’t want to let it go. But I’m still sorry to involve you in it.”
“What do you mean?” Xing Conglian glared at him. “Do I look like someone who will be irritable because of such trivial things?”
Duan Wanshan shook his head and sighed. “Because you have been angry with your subordinates.”
“I can’t scold my own men?”
“You know that’s not what I meant.”
“I’m not angry because of them. When they came to find me, and even when you finally found me, I didn’t feel anything…”
“As long as the reasons are justified, solving these problems that make you guys suffer is just a piece of cake for me.” As Xing Conglian spoke, he took out a cigarette, put it in his mouth, and lit it with a snap of his lighter.
Duan Wanshan opened his mouth slightly and looked at him in surprise.
“This is the meaning of the existence of people like me,” Xing Conglian said quietly.
The rainforest was excessively bright as the silver moon rose.
After a long time, Duan Wanshan spoke. “But you’ve been constantly cranky.”
“I’m cranky because of a personal matter.” Xing Conglian’s tone turned sour again.
“A person like you would still be bothered by personal matters?” Duan Wanshan leaned against the wall and took another swig of the bottle.
Xing Conglian felt that Duan Wanshan was probably really nearing the end of his life, becoming less and less like the old farmer he was before. After all, an old farmer wouldn’t be so sharp-tongued towards his benefactor.
“If someone is waiting for you to go home, but you can’t return for the time being, won’t you feel irritated?”
“Your wife?” Duan Wanshan asked.
“My… friend, but probably a future boyfriend,” Xing Conglian said decisively.
“Because before we established our relationship, I was suddenly reeled in by an idiot to deal with your pile of shit. I don’t know if he will accept me when I return.”
Duan Wanshan almost choked on the liquor. “Wait, boyfriend?”
“Are you homophobic?”
As soon as he spoke, he saw Duan Wanshan laugh absentmindedly. The doctor picked up the bottle and took another small sip, looking at the moon outside the window, silent for a long time.
Seeing Duan Wanshan look as if he was missing someone, Xing Conglian hurriedly stepped back. “I don’t really want to hear your love history.”
Duan Wanshan smiled. “Just listen to it. Listen to the feelings of a dying man. Maybe it will inspire you.”
“Well, alright.” Xing Conglian thought about it, then responded solemnly.
In the laboratory, Duan Yang was hungry.
Because Lin Chen had fallen asleep again and the masked man hadn’t arrived, he continued to complete the extraction work he had previously done earlier and also checked on all the samples he had taken from the rhesus monkeys.
He put down the lab test tube, stretched, and looked at the ground beside the experiment table.
Lin Chen had wrapped himself in a few lab coats and fallen asleep again.
Although Lin Chen was constantly joking, Duan Yang knew very well that the time Lin Chen spent awake was decreasing. He had previously diluted the anhydrous alcohol solvent in the lab to 75% and given Lin Chen a simple disinfection treatment, but it was clear that what Lin Chen needed now was a large dose of antibiotics to help him fight the infection in his body.
He looked at the time, squatted down with the alcohol, and took out Lin Chen’s injured hand from the layers of lab coats.
Due to the infected wound on his palm, Lin Chen’s originally pale and thin hand became swollen, and his fingers were also red and swollen, doubling in size. Duan Yang used cotton soaked in alcohol to clean the wound, and yellowish pus flowed out along the wound.
The wound disinfection should have been extremely painful, but Lin Chen only slightly restlessly struggled in his sleep. He didn’t even open his eyes, which only made Duan Yang worry even more.
He capped the bottle of alcohol, stood up again, put things back in place, and only after a while did Lin Chen reluctantly wake up.
Duan Yang looked down.
Lin Chen, who had just woken up from a semi-comatose state, braced himself to open his eyes. The moment he saw him, the festering focus in Lin Chen’s eyes gathered in a very short time and instantly regained clarity.
Duan Yang thought that Lin Chen’s willpower was probably one of the strongest he had ever seen.
“Did you kill the monkey?” Consultant Lin, who was lying on the ground, sniffed the smell in the air and looked at the location of the dissection room.
Duan Yang squatted down. “I’m preparing for tomorrow’s great escape.”
“It’s all up to you, Doctor Duan,” Lin Chen said with forceful cheerfulness. “But if by then there’s a chance that my physical condition doesn’t allow you, I want you to go alone.”
Upon hearing this, Duan Yang trembled. He looked at the psychological consultant, who had rapidly weakened due to infection but had been continuously using various words to stimulate him to cheer up. He kneeled on the ground, and put his hand on Lin Chen’s hot forehead.
“Consultant Lin, I have been thinking about <The Secret> you mentioned. Although you have been talking about dying, you have never given up, have you?”
Lin Chen didn’t speak. He just lay on the ground, gasping weakly.
Duan Yang became a little anxious. He felt that he couldn’t understand Lin Chen’s thoughts more and more, so he could only try to awaken his will to survive. “Didn’t you say before that someone like that exists? Someone you want to persevere for and try to hold on until the end?!”
“Yes, of course there is.” There was a smile at the corner of Lin Chen’s mouth.
“Who is it?” Duan Yang asked smoothly.
“Of course, it’s the person I love, idiot,” Lin Chen said lightly.
In the dim hut of the dilapidated factory building, Xiao Wu recounted what had happened as Xing Conglian continued to smoke. The green smoke was like a fog, suffocating and depressing the entire room.
Xing Conglian didn’t sit on the ground but stood upright, like a javelin, without even leaning against the wall.
The voices of the two people who were telling the story on the ground became lower. At the end, Xiao Wu raised his head slightly and looked at him with a silent and focused gaze.
Xing Conglian squeezed the cigarette pack and found that he had exhausted all the cigarettes inside. He held the shriveled cigarette package tightly in his palm.
He glanced at the doctor standing by the door, and his first words were, “Dr. Duan, please go outside and wait for a bit.”
Duan Wanshan looked at him, then nodded and left.
The wooden door creaked shut, and Xing Conglian squatted down, looking directly at Xiao Wu.
In Xing Conglian’s memory, Xiao Wu had always been a young and shy boy. Xing Conglian was already in a bad mood, and now the child he raised was suddenly stolen by that pig, Kang An. When Xiao Wu was speaking, he would hide his feelings, giving Xing Conglian the bitter sense of a parent unable to control their child after they grow up and leave home.
“Let’s sort through everything,” he said slowly.
Xiao Wu nodded.
“A week ago, you received a request to arrive in the Dana Region to investigate the Gaomeng massacre. When you passed through the village of the Gaomeng Tribe, the Gaomeng people disappeared. You followed their tracks and encountered the Gaomeng Tribe being besieged by Zaratul’s forces. You accidentally fell into a trap set by Zaratul, and after being injured, you were rescued by Dr. Duan and protected until you arrived here?”
Xiao Wu reluctantly said, “That’s correct, boss.”
Xing Conglian sneered. “Such garbage. Don’t call me boss.”
Instantly, Xiao Wu’s face became ugly. Kang An was also too scared, and he could only hold back his anger.
“Boss…” Xiao Liu said weakly.
The two people in front of him were silent and cautious, and their posture had changed from sitting to kneeling. Looking at the faint scars on their faces and bodies, Xing Conglian became even more angry and couldn’t help but say, “Come on, you two, tell me. If I’m not senile yet, according to regulations, you’re just here to conduct an observational survey in the Dana Region, which means you’re only supposed to observe if anything is wrong here. If you find something is wrong, you will call back and report it, then fly home. Am I right?”
“Boss, you wrote the charter, so of course you are right,” Xiao Liu said obsequiously.
Xing Conglian didn’t even say a word to this shaved-headed subordinate. He continued to look at Xiao Wu and said solemnly, “Then may I ask, Mr. Lu Zhengyan, you two observers got accidentally swept up in this incident and even stepped on a trap by Zaratul. Is this too much for me to call you useless?”
“It’s our fault, boss. We were greedy and wanted to find the matter out clearly. We accidently strayed into Zaratul’s encirclement trap…”
The words were so fake that Xing Conglian couldn’t bear to listen anymore. He stood up to leave, but his legs stiffened, and he froze in place.
Someone hugged his leg vigorously. The person holding it was Xiao Wu, the young man whom he had raised just like Wang Chao. He reluctantly turned his head and saw Wang Chao trembling as he put down his laptop and squatted beside the three of them. “Boss, although I don’t know what happened, I just saw everyone kneeling, so it doesn’t feel appropriate to stand…”
Looking at four people in a row kneeling on the ground, Xing Conglian missed Lin Chen even more. If Lin Chen encountered such a situation, he would probably cross his arms coldly and leave without turning his head. Once he thought of Lin Chen, he became even more irritable. “What with all this apologizing set? Laozi’s not a gangster!”
“Boss, it’s really miserable. We feel guilty in our hearts,” Xiao Liu said.
Through the door, Xing Conglian pointed at the hundreds of Gaomeng people outside and suddenly became quiet. “In the Dana Region, I have never seen the principle of saving people just out of pity. Since you’re here to observe and investigate, you have to get out after observation. Understand this and don’t cause trouble for others!” Xing Conglian said solemnly. “If you don’t have the ability, don’t take on the work. Otherwise, you’ll just drag others down.”
When his voice fell, the room was silent.
“When we arrived, Zaratul was killing people.” At this moment, Xiao Wu spoke up slowly. “There were the elderly and children. When they fled the village at the beginning, their formation wasn’t good. The young were at the back, while the old were still at the front. Then Zaratul ambushed them in the front. There was a burst of machine gun fire, and many people were shot… When we arrived, this was the scene we saw.” Xiao Wu was injured, so as he spoke, his voice became lighter.
Thinking about it, massacres were like this, and these were words that Xing Conglian didn’t want to hear. When he heard such inhumane stories, it also meant that his conscience would overcome his reason and prevent him from “minding his own business”. “And then what? You guys copied them and picked up your weapons and attacked?” he said sarcastically.
Xiao Wu shook his head. “Not at first. We also wonder why the intelligence was so different from the actual situation, so we just helped them behind the scenes.”
Xiao Wu said it tactfully, but the help they provided wasn’t that simple. Xing Conglian had already listened enough to their nonsense and didn’t need to listen to it again. “Okay, Mr. Lu Zhengyan, no need to keep repeating yourself. You have said so much, you’re circumventing a problem.”
“Kang An said you went crazy and lost contact with him. What the hell happened?”
Xiao Wu lowered his head. He was quiet for a moment and was just about to speak when the wooden door was pushed open.
Duan Wanshan appeared at the door on crutches. He looked at the two people kneeling on the ground and said, “I appreciate your kindness, but it looks like your boss is more difficult than you think.”
After he finished, he slightly turned and bowed to Xing Conglian and slowly said, “If you want to know the truth, please come with me, Captain Xing.”
Duan Wanshan walked in front, and Xing Conglian followed behind. He had already walked through most of the factory, and now Duan Wanshan took him out again and walked to the warehouse in the corner of the floor. He suddenly realized that Duan Wanshan’s arrangement for the crowd gathering area in the factory seemed to have a deeper meaning.
“Just now?” he asked.
“Those are all patients with mild symptoms.”
“What about here?”
Before Duan Wanshan’s voice fell, he opened the heavy iron door in front of him.
Because the door was too heavy and the chain was too old, it made a sound like an earthquake when opened. Xing Conglian quickly realized that the muffled sobbing sound that followed the roar didn’t come entirely from the door in front of him but from something behind the door.
Behind the door were rooms in which some people were locked up, or rather, could be considered people.
Xing Conglian followed Duan Wanshan and looked at all the rooms. Everyone in the room was bound by heavy cotton gauze. In addition, each of them had an iron chain tied to their feet to limit their range of activities. If it weren’t for knowing that this was an abandoned factory deep in the Dana Rainforest, Xing Conglian would have thought he had stepped into a mental hospital.
Of course, psychiatry wasn’t his specialty, but the situation in the room may far exceed ordinary mental problems.
It was difficult for Xing Conglian to describe the people he saw.
Some of their feet were worn by the iron chains, but they were gnawing on their ankles in an extraordinary, twisted position. When Xing Conglian walked by, they raised their heads and showed him their teeth full of gaps and their bloody lips.
Others tried their best to rush to the door, but because of the chain restrictions, they could only maintain a one-foot-forward posture. The distance between their legs grew larger and larger until they tripped and fell with a clatter, then they quickly got up again.
However, most of the people in the room were looking at them with vigilant eyes. That kind of vigilant eye was different from that of humans, looking more like a natural beast. Some of them curled up in a ball, while others squatted in a corner, posing like an animal about to attack.
Xing Conglian had seen many distorted humans, but he never even imagined that normal human joints could be folded to such a point. People whom he couldn’t identify by gender were entangled together in twisted poses, seemingly as if they’d been dead for a while now.
Xing Conglian stared at everything in front of him in a daze, and finally his gaze moved to the doctor, who had been silently walking in front of him on crutches. “What’s wrong with them?”
“I can’t separate them. Although it’s inhumane, we’re almost at the point of cannibalism now, so it doesn’t matter.” Duan Wanshan stopped walking, turned around, and explained to him with a determined expression. “The man’s name is Kachu and the woman’s is Soren. They were a pair of ordinary fisherman couple from the Gaomeng tribe. I won’t talk about how happy their lives used to be, because their happiness is insignificant to outsiders. When I saw them, they were arguing endlessly. Their neighbors had put up with them for three days and were about to take an ax to chop them up. At that time, I happened to be investigating at the residence of the Gaomeng Tribe. Their neighbors came to me and asked me if there was any medicine that could poison them.”
“What did you say?”
“I told him that an ax was more useful.” Duan Wanshan looked at the two people in the room and continued, “But an ax doesn’t work either. The actual situation is that as long as he leaves Soran, Kachu will quickly grab something on the ground and bash his head in.”
Duan Wanshan paused, then said calmly, “Captain Xin, I’m not going to beat around the bush anymore, as I don’t have much time left. About a little over half a month ago, I became aware of a strange madness in the Dana Region, and during my epidemiological investigation of the cases, I found that the source may be in the Gaomeng Tribe’s settlement. By the time I arrived here, the situation had already become uncontrollable. Roughly ten percent of the population of the Gaomeng Tribe has varying degrees of mental abnormalities. When this happened, my first consideration was food and drug factors. However, at that time, the Gaomeng Tribe’s outpost had learned that the Zaratul Tribe was going to encircle and suppress them. For various reasons, the Gaomeng Tribe decided to migrate as a whole. Before the migration, my investigation wasn’t yet complete. After discussing it with the tribal chief, we decided to bring along those mentally ill patients.”
Xing Conglian titled his head and said seriously, “The kindness of women*.”
*Phrase used to describe a situation where a person shows excessive mercy or compassion, to the point of neglecting practical considerations or even causing harm to oneself or others.
“Of course. I am a doctor, and doctors are like this,” Duan Wanshan said confidently. Perhaps he spoke too strongly when he said “I am a doctor” and didn’t sound at all like a dying person, so the sobbing sound in the space was completely suppressed by this strong tone, and the surroundings became very quiet.
The doctor continued, “Taking mentally ill people is actually a big part of the army’s itinerary. During the march, we also considered giving up those people, but when the Zaratul Tribe asked us to hand over all mentally abnormal patients and they’d let the rest of us leave, I was very surprised. It turns out that the reason for their big fight was actually that they wanted the patients. Considering the current situation, I suspect that all patients with mental abnormalities have ingested high-purity drugs.”
“Drugs?” Xing Conglian interrupted him.
“Specifically, drugs referring to all chemicals that can cause harm to the human body.” Duan Wanshan’s thoughts were clear, and he didn’t end his narrative because of the interruption. “Therefore, I cross-examined some patients with mild symptoms about their diet and medication. The people of the Gaomeng Tribe said that before I came, a group of Doctors Without Borders would regularly come to examine them and distribute vitamins. However, some of the users didn’t have mental problems, while others had severe problems.”
Xing Conglian was shocked. “There were people pretending to be Doctors Without Borders who used the rainforest nation to conduct illegal drug experiments?”
“This is also my guess,” Duan Wanshan said solemnly. “I met your men after that. After learning that they were investigating officials, I asked them to return to the village and destroy all the drugs we didn’t bring out, because there may be poisonous drugs mixed there, and those poisonous drugs are exactly Zaratul’s goal. In fact, your subordinate, in the process of helping me destroy the drugs, had a fight with the Zaratul Tribe and accidentally ingested high-purity drugs, but his intake was very small. After a simple withdrawal treatment, he’s no longer affected.”
From start to end, Duan Wanshan’s tone was calm, without much change in feelings. The processes of blood and fire, death and pain that came from his mouth were said as if they weren’t such a big deal.
Xing Conglian thought that most likely Duan Wanshan also used this tone when he announced to a patient that their life was coming to an end, which was why he could treat his own death in such a calm manner.
“I understand,” Xing Conglian said lightly.
There was no clear statement in his words, but a gratifying smile suddenly appeared on Duan Wanshan’s deathly gray face. He said, “I can understand why you blame your subordinate. Because if my student kept doing CPR for an hour after I told him that the patient was already dead, I would also have a similar attitude as yours. In any case, they are indeed helping me. They made up the lie by saying I saved them. They probably just know you very well and want to stay to help solve the problem.”
“No,” Xing Conglian interrupted Duan Wanshan. “Didn’t you give them withdrawal treatment?”
This time, Duan Wanshan finally smiled bitterly. “It’s just a simple treatment.”
“What happens if they weren’t treated?”
“It’s hard to say…”
“Alright, I see.” Xing Conglian waved his hand. “It’s only natural to pay off debts. I’ll pay off the debts they owe you before you die.”
He didn’t know if it was because his words were too simple, but before his voice fell, there was a renewed noise around him. Xing Conglian pursed his lips and listened carefully for a while before realizing that the noise wasn’t coming from the space where they were located but from outside the factory building in the open space.
Duan Wanshan looked at his watch. His face suddenly sank, but there was no expression of grief, only disgust.
“What’s going on?” While Xing Conglian spoke, he walked towards the window, following the sound.
“During our migration, some tribal residents were captured by Zaratul as captives. They would kill one person in front of us every day to force us out of the building,” Duan Wanshan said calmly. “Now, it’s the killing time.”
When Duan Yang heard the noise outside the laboratory, he was inspecting the monkey room. The monkeys seemed to sense something and suddenly squeaked like crazy.
Cruel laughter came through the walls. It should be human laughter, mixed with a language he couldn’t understand. He walked carefully to the window and looked out. In the open space downstairs, the militants dragged a black woman to a dilapidated factory building.
For the first time in his life, Duan Yang saw such an inhumane scene.
Someone put a gun against the woman’s head.
The woman was dying, and her nose was pinched, forcing her to open her mouth…
Duan Yang looked away. The scene downstairs was too cruel and terrifying. Then he heard someone appear to be counting down.
He looked back at Lin Chen, who was asleep in the laboratory, hesitating whether he should wake Lin Chen up.
Xing Conglian was also standing by a window. He tried to hide himself as much as possible to avoid being discovered by the not-so-outstanding snipers on the opposite floor.
Duan Wanshan stood beside him against the wall, as if he had watched this scene for many days, and lightly closed his eyes. He didn’t want to watch the scene downstairs.
Gunshots rang out as blood splattered, followed by resounding laughter that filled the sky.
But the air around them seemed to drain in an instant, and all sound disappeared. Xing Conglian looked at the corpse downstairs, then slowly raised his head and glanced at the transparent blue sky in Dana.
Xing Conglian naturally wanted to say, “It’s none of my business if you’re going to die.” However, upon seeing Duan Wanshan’s graying temples, he swallowed back his irritable words.
He looked at the other and knew well that if he turned around now, he wouldn’t be able to return home in a short while.
Although the two reasons mentioned by this Doctor Duan weren’t discussed at length, each of them made sense.
It was right to pay off a debt, and since the debt owed was to a dying man, it made his reasons more meaningful.
This attitude reminded Xing Conglian of Lin Chen.
So he turned around and went back to the room and kicked the subordinate, who was stubbornly sitting on the ground and refused to leave. “Tell me, how did you get saved? Is it true that I have to pay off your debts?”
At the same time, in the monkey room, Lin Chen endured the aches and pains all over his body. He barely managed to raise his spirits as he said to Duan Yang, “Tell me your plan.”
Duan Yang was holding the key as he opened the door to the innermost laboratory.
The air from the air conditioner was blowing in his face.
There was a complete set of professional medical experimental equipment in front of them, which was different from the pure drug production factory outside. According to Duan Yang, there were more centrifuges and reactors… There was even an anatomy table separated inside. Of course, the dissecting table should be purely for the rhesus monkeys.
Overall, it was well equipped. The only problem was that the whole lab looked like it hadn’t been used for a while, as there was a thin layer of dust on the bench.
Duan Yang carefully swept the table with his hands, glanced at the surveillance camera hanging in the corner of the lab, and asked, “Consultant Lin, do you think it’s bugged here?”
With the cold air blowing from the air conditioner, Lin Chen shivered from the cold. For him, the current environment may not be as good as the sweltering cellar. He looked at Duan Yang and said, “It doesn’t matter if there is or not. Besides, we will die in two days.”
“Hey…” Duan Yang let out a long sigh, feeling helpless.
“There are no bugs here.” Lin Chen decided to change the topic.
Duan Yang was stunned. “How do you know?”
Lin Chen didn’t answer directly. He hooked his fingers at Duan Yang and pointed to several lab coats hanging on the wall.
Duan Yang understood immediately and tore off all coats and wrapped them around him.
The sudden warmth made Lin Chen feel comfortable. He put on a lab coat, barely opened his eyes, and asked Duan Yang, “How many coats are there?”
“Six… It seems like six?”
“What does this mean?”
“That there were six people doing experiments here?”
“Not necessarily, but there are signs that there were people here before. So that begs the question, where are they now?”
Duan Yang swallowed. “Chopped up by…?”
“Why chopped up?”
“Because they didn’t finish the research, so they were killed?”
“If the research isn’t complete, then why were you able to deduce from the masked man’s words earlier that he wanted you to analyze the drug components from the monkeys’ blood?” Lin Chen paused. “What kind of blood would the monkeys have to be fed to contain drug components?”
“Of course, it’s poison,” Duan Yang said.
“Since there are toxic chemicals, why has the research not been completed?”
“Consultant Lin, what are you trying to say?” Duan Yang was confused. Of course, he wasn’t like Xing Conglian, who knew everything.
“Okay, let’s start from the beginning.” Lin Chen asked him, “Why do you think you were kidnapped?”
“Because I offended Zhorui Pharmaceutical?”
“To be more specific, what is your inference about the cause and result of your kidnapping?”
“Because I accidentally exposed myself during the investigation of Zhorui Pharmaceutical, so I was kidnapped by them to do research in the Dana Region?”
“That is to say, you think this entire laboratory is part of Zhorui Pharmaceutical in the Dana Region, right?”
“Is it not?”
Lin Chen laughed. “Classmate Duan Yang, I think you’re much more confident than I thought.”
“After all, you think that your personal ability can replace the entire R&D department of Zhorui Pharmaceutical. Otherwise, why would they kidnap you and send you thousands of miles away?”
“I… That’s not what I mean. I really think it’s strange that they kidnapped us to come here.” Duan Yang’s face was about to blush. “Then… Consultant Lin, why do you think they kidnapped me?”
“Because you may be the one closest to the results of the study.”
“I don’t understand.” Duan Yang frowned.
“If you don’t understand, how can you expect me to?” Lin Chen looked at Duan Yang, motioned to the other party to turn his back to the camera. “Don’t look like you’re chatting with me so obviously. Anyway, pretend to be working.”
Duan Yang hurriedly turned around, and the first thing he did was take a cloth and start wiping the test bench. This kind of cleanliness obsession was beyond saving.
“I have some guesses, but it’s not complete yet.” Lin Chen lowered his eyes slightly. The high fever made him look at everything as if it had double shadows. He gently unfolded the wrapped white lab coat, looked at the cuffs and pockets where the edges were easy to wear, and then looked at the label. Finally, his gaze fell on the offset logo on the chest of the lab coat. It was still a jaguar and python symbol, but the golden offset print was cracked. Obviously, this lab coat had been worn and washed many times.
“Consultant Lin, what’s wrong with the lab coats?” Duan Yang asked upon seeing this.
“This coat has been worn by people for a long time.” He emphasized the last two words.
“Yes, you have already made it clear just now. This means that there have been people in this laboratory who have been doing experiments, but now those people are gone. What does this mean?”
“It doesn’t explain much. You can think about it from another perspective. There used to be a laboratory related to Zhorui Pharmaceutical deep in the rainforest, but now there are no people in this lab. This is the result we’re seeing now.” Lin Chen coughed twice in a low voice. He resisted the desire to cough violently and continued, “From the result to the reason, I think there are two possibilities. The first may be that, as you said, the successive drug researchers here have not completed their work, so they were chopped up for feed.”
“What about the second?”
“The situation in the Dana Region is complicated, and Zhorui Pharmaceutical shouldn’t have much energy to expend armed forces here. So the only possibility is that they found militants in the Dana Region as partners. That is, the leader of this jaguar and python symbol. In connection with Professor Duan’s drug research, it was highly possible that Zhorui Pharmaceutical had conducted their new drug development here. After completing the research, they left without a trace, leaving their ‘partners’ at a loss, forcing them to act recklessly and randomly kidnap people everywhere. Finally, they stumbled upon you, who ventured into this matter haphazardly.”
“This is impossible!” Duan Yang said immediately. “Zhorui Pharmaceutical develops drugs, not poisons. As you said, they found many people, so why me?”
Lin Chen felt a splitting pain in his head and finally couldn’t hold back from coughing violently.
Duan Yang hurriedly squatted down in front of him. “I won’t interrupt. I won’t. You can continue.”
“I don’t understand the relationship between drugs and medicines. This is not my specialty. It’s up to you to find out, but if your professional level is not enough, then forget I said anything.” Lin Chen looked up and glanced at Duan Yang. “As for why they found you, there could be many possibilities. Maybe it’s because you are particularly handsome. But you should think about where you posted those reports and research results on the new drug that made them discover you,” Lin Chen said sternly.
Duan Yang’s face tightened, as if he were aware of something and suddenly said, “If what you say is true, then the new drug launched by Zhorui Pharmaceutical this time really has a very serious problem. It may be a new type of neurodegenerative drug or a corresponding derivative. The R&D personnel of Zhorui Pharmaceutical withdrew from the country after the experiment was completed, leaving only the experimental animals. So they probably played a trick on the militants in the Dana Region?”
Lin Chen said, “This is just an inference, and there may be loopholes and irrationality.”
“That’s right. According to what you said, the researchers who conducted the research here before were employees of Zhorui Pharmaceutical, so why did they kidnap me instead of the previous researchers? Also, who is that masked person? Since Zhorui Pharmaceutical completed the research in this laboratory, the previous researchers should also have relevant research materials. Why did the masked person go to such lengths to kidnap us and say that all our research materials are only the monkeys here… Ah, no, he also mentioned people. Where did they come from?”
Duan Yang asked too many questions, which gave Lin Chen a headache. “I’m not sure why they kidnapped you. It’s very likely you were an easy target and that your research results were more relevant. Zhorui Pharmaceutical needed to find a partner in the Dana Region, but given their strength in the country, hiding a few researchers would be easy.” Lin Chen propped up his head with one hand, looking at the young man in front of him with a smile on his face. “And I can answer your second question as well, because all my deductions are based on the answer to your second question.”
“Consultant Lin…” Duan Yang said depressingly. “I’ve noticed that you like to keep people in suspense.”
“No, I just give you a certain amount of time to think about the problem,” Lin Chen said softly. “Well, the answer is, you have never seen a real psychopath.”
Duan Yang shuddered.
“In fact, the masked weirdo you just saw is a fraudster,” Lin Chen curled his lips as he said with disdain.
Duan Yan was momentarily stunned before he said, “Frau… A fraudster?”
“Specially, the more ignorant and backward the area, the easier it is for scammers to succeed. Often some small trick can convince others, so the primitive tribe’s rituals and shamans have a lot of say.”
“I didn’t mean that. Why do you think he’s a fraudster?”
“A person wearing a white ceramic mask and using an electronic voice changer—do you think he’s very scary?”
“Yes, it feels mysterious. Could he be our acquaintance and don’t want us to recognize him?”
“What you said is one possibility. But you can see that everyone here is familiar with him, which means he has always been dressed this way, so this kind of mystery is the feeling he deliberately created, mainly supported by acting and costumes, not by his own character.”
Hearing this, Duan Yang plucked up the courage and said, “Do you have any evidence?”
Lin Chen found it funny. Few people distrusted his judgment so much, but he still nodded and said, “Do you remember the office outside that we just passed by?”
“Is that his office?”
“Yes.” Looking at the young man’s puzzled face, he took the initiative to say, “There’s a photo of him and probably the leader of the militants hanging on the wall of the office, so I can basically be sure of this.” Lin Chen coughed lightly and continued, “But what I want to talk about is not his office, which looks like a pig’s nest, but the whiteboard on the wall.”
“Can you understand what was written on the whiteboard?”
Duan Yang shook his head and said honestly, “It should be something like a chemical formula for calculation, but I’m not a chemistry major, so I can’t understand it.”
“That’s not his calculation formula, but a formula he found somewhere, copied it on the whiteboard, and pretended to bluff people on purpose,” Lin Chen explained to Duan Yang, who was still squatting in front of him. “The flow of writing when copying and writing normally is different. Generally, if we do a fluent calculation, pauses will appear at the end of each formula, but he often stops after writing half of a chemical formula and lets the pen stay on the whiteboard for a while to look at what he wants to copy before continuing to write. If you have a chance to walk out of this lab, you can pay attention to some prominent ink marks.”
“I understand.” Duan Yang pondered for a moment, then suddenly became serious. “If that is indeed a fraudster, then it all makes sense. The fraudster must have used some method to make the leader of the militants believe in him, so he was put in charge of the entire laboratory. He had been working smoothly before, but one day, the militant leader decided to collaborate with Zhorui Pharmaceutical to research a new type of drug. Originally, the research results should have been shared, and the armed group would certainly have sent someone to supervise the entire research. However, driven by the huge profits from drugs and pharmaceuticals, the people at Zhorui Pharmaceutical saw that the person sent to supervise them was a fool, so they decided to deceive their partner. As the person behind the research, the mask man could only resort to desperate measures and keep abducting people to complete the drug research.”
“Congratulations,” Lin Chen said lightly.
“Even you can make up stories.”
“Consultant Lin, don’t make fun of me.”
“No, I’m really complimenting you,” Lin Chen said seriously. “Some investigations are carried out meticulously in order to find clear evidence and gradually piece together the truth. But sometimes, you don’t have any evidence. All you have are scattered fragments. In that case, you have to look for a possibility that connects all the pieces and roughly reconstruct the truth of the event.”
“It’s the same as our doctor diagnosing intractable diseases,” Duan Yang said.
“I’m very pleased that you can understand my analogy,” Lin Chen said half-jokingly. “But there is another important reason why he looks for people from China instead of other countries.”
“Because he’s also from China. In this place full of Dana language, he’s the only one who can communicate with us, and basically doesn’t have to worry about us snitching on him.”
“I understand.” Duan Yang was stunned for a moment. “But you suddenly mentioned this because it’s very important.”
“Of course it’s important,” Lin Chen said. “But Mr. Duan, I’m still a patient. I have to sleep for a bit before I tell you why this is important.”
Well, that explains why the mask guy thinks they can reverse engineer a drug in 3 days. Also, Lin Chen needs to stop speaking in tongues. No normal human can follow that train of thought, my dude.
Xing Conglian gently waved away the smell of rotting corpses in the air and looked at the person walking at the end of the corridor.
The setting sun in the rainforest fell from the ceiling, and the orange-yellow light brought by it sprinkled on that person, giving the figure a strange sense of sacredness. However, Xing Conglian felt it was probably due to the person’s identity having some kind of bonus.
Because the visitor was actually in tatters and was leaning on a wooden cane. He had dark skin and looked more like a farmer returning from the fields than an expert scholar, but this was indeed the second purpose of his trip.
In the ranch medical station, he was entrusted to find someone; a respectable and handsome doctor who was a resident of the Gaomeng Tribe. The doctor’s name was Duan Wanshan, and he was the legendary founder of the basic medical system in the Dana Region. Because he was so handsome, countless doctors from all over the world were inspired by him to come to the Dana Region and assist in healthcare.
Xing Conglian looked at the person standing in front of him and felt that this person seemed to be a little bit too far from the word handsome; just like the gap between a buyer’s expectation and reality on Taobao.
But at this moment, the man who looked like a farmer walked up to him, stood up straight, bowed slightly, and extended a hand to him. “Hello.”
Xing Conglian had a cigarette in his mouth. He reached out his hand to shake hands with the person. As the sunlight fell, there was a feeling of a successful reunion after a long journey of thousands of miles.
When Xing Conglian retracted his hand, the doctor in front of him staggered slightly, barely managing to maintain his standing position.
Xing Conglian looked down and noticed that the doctor’s pant legs were in tatters; the left leg was rolled up to the knee while the right was completely down, making it difficult to see the condition of his legs, but Xing Conglian was sure he saw faint dark brown stains adhered to his right ankle.
There was even some viscous liquid dripping down his ankle.
Xing Conglian frowned and asked, “What do you want?”
Lin Chen felt that what he heard just now was unbelievable.
To summarize, the weirdo wearing the white ceramic mask that was standing in front of him and Duan Yang explained that the reason why he kidnapped them to Dana was because he needed them to complete an unfinished research on a neurotoxic drug. The time limit was three days, and if they couldn’t complete it, then they would become food for the rhesus monkeys, just like their predecessors.
The rhesus monkeys in the cages squeaked horribly, as if welcoming them as food. Factually speaking, rhesus monkeys were basically vegetarians, so eating human flesh may not be so pleasant for them.
As they continued on their journey, the kidnapping case became increasingly bizarre, as if it were a scene from a spy thriller movie. If they added in underground passage crossing or special forces helicopter rappelling, then for just 9.9 yuan, he could watch this strange and bizarre film through group purchasing.
But this time, Duan Yang’s reaction was faster than his.
The young man asked, “How did you find us, and why do you think we can complete this research?”
Lin Chen felt relieved as these questions hit the bullseye.
The masked weirdo laughed, making the inorganic electronic sound harsh.
“You don’t need to know this.” He stretched out his hand and pointed to the vast monkey cage around him. “The materials are all here.”
Duan Yang showed a sick look in his eyes. “Even if you want to make us the drug, are you going to give us the chemical composition analysis?”
“There is no such thing,” the masked weirdo responded and chuckled.
Duan Yang asked incredulously, “You’re asking us to create a drug out of thin air?”
“Doesn’t all scientific research start from scratch? Besides, you have my babies.”
Duan Yang frowned, thought for a moment, then replied, “You mean, some of the monkeys here have been fed poisonous products, but some have not. We need to find out which ones have been fed the poisonous products and analyze their blood composition?”
“I’m not responsible for answering your questions.”
“Okay, we can do it, but there is a requirement,” Duan Yang said.
“Do you think you’re qualified to make a request?”
“My shixiong is injured. He’s the leading figure in drug research, so I want hydrogen peroxide, iodine, and aztreonam to save him…” Duan Yang heavily emphasized. “If something happens to my shixiong, I’ll definitely not be able to complete the research, and you’ll need to find someone else.”
Lin Chen watched the young man lie without even blinking.
The masked man stood there and looked at them solemnly for a while. “Write down what you want.”
Duan Yang immediately pulled out a piece of paper from the side of a cage and quickly wrote down those life-saving items. He tore off the paper and handed it over.
The masked weirdo looked at the paper and stuffed it in his pocket. “I hope we have a happy cooperation.
Duan Yang nodded. “But where are we going to experiment? I don’t see any centrifuges inside the lab. I need a complete medical laboratory.”
The other party threw a key over, pointed to the door at the end of the monkey room, then turned around and left.
Lin Chen saw a contemplative flash on the young man’s face.
“Wait!” Suddenly, he spoke again and stopped the masked weirdo.
The other party didn’t look back.
Duan Yang raised his voice. “Even if I extract the corresponding toxin ingredients from the monkey blood, that doesn’t mean it can be used by humans. Drug research itself is a very complicated process.”
“It doesn’t matter. I have someone.” The ending tone of the masked man slightly rose. “We have everything you need.”
Xing Conglian saw many people.
In the large space on the second floor of the factory building, there were densely packed Gaomeng people. The windows of the factory building were covered with curtains, and those curtains looked more like patchwork or various colorful clothes and scraps of fabric.
Xing Conglian looked away. The number of people present was about five to six hundred, and everyone had reached the end of their strength. Men and women were naked, and everyone had a decayed expression and a dead silence on their faces. The air on the second floor was cleaner than that of the “morgue” on the first floor, but it wasn’t much better. The smell of so many people who haven’t bathed for a few days was terrible enough, not to mention that most of the men present had injuries on their bodies, and the air was filled with the sour smell of rotting flesh.
However, when they saw outsiders like them, the Gaomeng people became vigilant, and their faces showed the hateful eyes that those gun-wielding soldiers had shown before, with an obvious will to prefer death to surrender.
Xing Conglian pushed on the door with one hand, looked at the gray-faced doctor beside him, and said, “Mr. Duan, as I said just now, I’m here to find someone.” He continued, “Mr. Duan, I have already made it clear that I came here primarily to find my people, not to save lives or treat the injured.”
Duan Wanshan said, “I know. I’m also taking you to find your subordinate, but I just need to pass by here.”
As he spoke, he leaned weakly on his crutch and limped into the crowd. “I know you don’t care about the Gaomeng people at all since you haven’t asked us how we were forced into this situation, but the truth of the matter may be different from what you think.”
Xing Conglian looked at the painful but persistent faces and then at the back of the doctor in front of him.
Although Duan Wanshan looked seriously injured, he was full of energy when he spoke. Xing Conglian was forced to follow him and listen to his nonsense.
“First, it’s fake news saying that the Gaomeng people organized a massacre.”
“How do you know it’s fake news?” Xing Conglian asked.
“Because I released the news,” Duan Wanshan replied simply.
While speaking, they had already passed through the crowd and walked to the window. Duan Wanshan lifted a pair of trousers from the window, then quickly moved out of the way.
Suddenly, a whistling bullet blasted through the air, shattering the glass and piercing where he originally was before finally embedding itself into the opposite wall.
Even Xing Conglian was startled. He raised his brows and instantly understood the other’s meaning. However, it was still unpleasant to have someone suddenly tear off this veil of shame in front of him.
“I have been in Dana for many years. I understand the rules of the game in the international community too well. Zaratul is just a puppet for big countries to control the Dana Region. In 1998, 2006, and 2013, Zaratul held three confrontations here. Did anyone care about the massacre of the aborigines?” Duan Wanshan said calmly. “Maybe the international community will pay a little attention to the massacre of aborigines, but if it’s Zaratul’s doing, they will just brush it under the rug, right?”
When he said these words, Duan Wanshan didn’t feel like that old farmer. The knowledge and insight revealed in his bones couldn’t be faked. Xing Conglian rarely felt like being held by the neck and being told to “just stand by and watch” by someone. He irritably spat out the cigarette he had just lit and stepped on it. “Okay, I’m not secretary general of the United Nations. It’s not my job to deal with things like genocide.”
Duan Wanshan leaned on his crutches, tapped the ground, turned around, and walked towards the room on the other side.
“But you have to take care of this matter.”
“Two reasons.” Duan Wanshan’s voice became low and steady this time. “First, I save your men, so you have to repay me.”
“Former subordinates,” Xing Conglian emphasized. “The problem is that if it weren’t for you, my former subordinates, including myself, wouldn’t have come here in the first place.”
“That’s why I have another reason.” Duan Wanshan took him to the doors of several rooms. He took out a key, unlocked the chain on the first door, and walked in.
There was a small light in the room. Naturally, it was impossible to have such a thing as an electric light in a place like an abandoned mine, so the light came from a field military lighting equipment that Xing Conglian was somewhat familiar with.
The light illuminated most of the indoor space, and there were only two people in the room. One was sitting, and the other was lying flat on the ground.
The moment he saw the man lying on the ground, Kang An, who had been following him, suddenly rushed over like crazy, but before approaching the other party, he suddenly braked and became cautious. He only dared touch the other’s cheek lightly with his fingers and softly call, “Xiao Wu…”
Xing Conglian was angry to the point that he wasn’t able to speak.
The two people in the room opened their eyes at the same time. Xing Conglian obviously saw that the faces of the two invariably showed a “gone through hell” expression.
Xiao Wu, who was lying on the ground, jumped up and pushed Kang An away. He rushed up to Xing Conglian and said in a daze, “Boss, why are you here?!”
“You ask laozi, so who am I supposed to ask?” Facing the pale and concerned face of his former subordinate, Xing Conglian finally felt relieved.
“Sorry, I didn’t do a good job and bothered you,” Xiao Wu said respectfully.
“Boss, I thought I would never see you again in my life.” Xing Conglian lowered his eyes and found another person tugging at his pants while crying. “Why are your clothes so wet?”
Xing Conglian couldn’t help but kick him. “There are people outside. How do you think I got in?”
“From the river?”
Xing Conglian didn’t bother to answer. He beckoned with his hand at his subordinates and turned to walk outside the room.
There was no movement from the people in the room.
Xing Conglian walked through the dark underground pipeline. At that time, he didn’t know that at a certain moment, Lin Chen and he were only separated by a wall.
As if he were aware of something, he stopped and raised his flashlight to illuminate the passage in front of him. The mining factory built by the British wasn’t so difficult to traverse. Most of the areas have maintained their appearance from the original blueprint, except for some creatures that were not within the scope of the plan.
In the damp and dark abandoned pipeline, a three-colored spearhead viper nestled in front of it.
Wang Chao was so frightened that he almost screamed.
Xing Conglian’s hand was stuck to the wall of the cement pipe, touching a greasy moss. He looked above his head and suddenly felt palpitations. A chill began to permeate his entire body from his chest, and a layer of goosebumps soon appeared on his arms.
He paused for a while, and Kang An squeezed in front of him and asked, “Boss, should I go?”
Xing Conglian ignored him. He recovered, drew out his dagger, and took a half step forward. He stepped on the tail of the snake with one foot and pinched the slippery snake’s body with his other hand. The knife fell and blood spattered, then they continued to move forward.
In the cellar of the mine.
When Lin Chen’s consciousness was about to blur, he vaguely felt that someone was looking at him.
At that time, he was resting on Duan Yang’s lap. Duan Yang had already fallen asleep. His breathing was rapid as various chaotic images filled his head. Most of the images were related to Xing Conglian, as his consciousness no longer had the strength to restrain his subconscious.
There was a sound of breathing around that didn’t belong to him or Duan Yang. He could only open his eyes slightly. Through the thin, dim light, he saw someone standing in front of the iron cage and staring at them.
He woke up instantly.
The person outside the cage was wearing a long robe, and only after he looked closely did he realize it was a white coat, but the uniform was too long, as it went all the way down to the ankles. The person wrapped in the robe was too thin, making him look like a child who had stolen the clothes of an adult.
Lin Chen rubbed his forehead and moved his eyes with difficulty to the face of the visitor. At first glance, he simply wanted to curse. The other party was wearing a pure white mask on his face, and there were two drops of bright red blood that resembled tears falling from the eye socket, making him look like some kind of ghost.
Probably because he moved too much, Duan Yang also woke up. The moment he saw the figure outside the cage, the young man screamed, “Ah, what the hell?!”
Duan Yang’s voice seemed to awaken the sleeping beasts underground. Suddenly, many cages around them roared, and the iron cages shook, making loud clanging sounds.
The masked man moved his index finger closer to his lips. What came from behind the mask was a pure electronic sound, with an inorganic coldness but also a sense of lightness that mocked everything.
Lin Chen sat up straight. He felt that Dana was a place full of insanity. Although he was dressed like a ghost, the one in front of him was still human.
“What can I do for you?” he asked.
After he finished speaking, he felt that it was stupid. This wasn’t China. Speaking Chinese to the other party was equivalent to him talking to a duck.
But suddenly, he really heard the long-lost, pure Chinese. “I’ve been waiting for you for a long time. Come… Come with me…”
The cell opened, and militants guarding the cellar pulled them out of the iron cage and walked out.
From the sewer to the designated location, they only traveled for about 15 minutes.
Very faint light poured down from the drain, and there was a rotten smell in the air that was different from that of underground water pipes.
They were blocked by iron fences. Kang An took out tools and wanted to remove the fence. Xing Conglian pushed the man behind him and kicked away the rusty railing in front of him with one foot.
The iron railing flew out and slammed to the ground, causing dust to kick up. Then they proceeded to crawl out of the pipe.
After a loud noise, there were running sounds on the floor, as if someone had heard movement and rushed down.
The floor was shaking non-stop. Taking advantage of the gap before an encounter, Xing Conglian didn’t choose to take out his gun. Instead, he took out a cigarette case from his wet, waterproof pocket and lit it.
The sound of dense footsteps came from around the corner and were approaching quickly. When it approached the door, a black barrel from a gun went through the door first.
After tracking the Gaomeng people for a whole week, they finally saw a bewildered rainforest warrior.
Wang Chao was holding his laptop to cover his chest and said to the Gaomeng man who was holding a gun in front of him, “Ah… Good afternoon!”
Xing Conglian took a puff of his cigarette, shook the ash, and said in Gaomengnese, “Take me to see your chief.”
Lin Chen’s footsteps were soft, but he had to pretend that he wasn’t in a terrible state.
With one hand on Duan Yang’s shoulder, he examined the scene in front of him.
To be honest, if he hadn’t been quite so sure that he was kidnapped deep into the Dana Rainforest, he would have thought he was visiting some kind of national laboratory.
There was only white in front of him, and under the incandescent lights was a space about the size of two basketball courts. Many people in white lab coats were busy inside the automatic door. No one would have thought that in the depths of the dilapidated and collapsed abandoned mine there would be such an advanced laboratory.
There was a weird smell of plastic in the air.
The staff of the laboratory handed over a full set of dust-proof suits. Lin Chen’s eyes kept staring at the ghostly masked man. The other party turned around and looked at them through the door, as if he were smiling at them.
He and Duan Yang were forced to stop at the door and put on light blue dust proof clothing. The moment he put on the mask, the blocked breathing made him feel as if his whole body was burning.
“Consultant Lin, where is this?”
Only then did Duan Yang recover from shock, as he asked tremblingly.
“I know it’s a laboratory, but where is there such a huge lab here? Who’s funding this?”
The sliding door opened. The staff in the laboratory were obviously of high caliber. They just buried their heads in their work without even looking at them.
“You’re asking me, so who should I ask?” Lin Chen coughed lowly as he gave a rhetorical reply.
“I… Then what are they doing with us?” After Duan Yang finished his sentence, he hurriedly covered his mouth. “I won’t ask. I won’t ask.”
While talking, they passed an experimental table with some testers analyzing some kind of pure powder.
“Do you recognize these testing equipment and what they are used for?” Lin Chen grabbed Duan Yang’s arm and asked in a low voice.
“It seems they are meteorological chromatography, mass spectrometers, distillation towers…”
“What type of lab is this probably?”
“This should be a chemistry lab.”
“Huh?” Lin Chen paused. Thinking of the reason why Duan Yang was kidnapped, he asked, “Drug research lab?”
“I don’t think so. There are no centrifuges here…”
Lin Chen shook his head. He looked at the focused gaze beside the lab table and realized that his previous cognition was actually a little problematic. This place that looked like a laboratory might not actually be one. It should be a chemical factory.
Given that it was a chemical factory deep in the three-way zone, Lin Chen didn’t need to look at the scientific names of those powders to guess what they were.
He gently rubbed the ring with his hand as he thought of the middle-aged man who died unexpectedly and tragically as a stowaway, and the identity of the other party gradually became clear.
However, he was probably confused. He felt that although things were gradually being revealed, it was too confusing.
Xing Conglian had seen many miserable scenes, so the corpse in front of him wasn’t so terrifying.
In a warehouse on the first floor of the factory, there were more than a dozen corpses on the floor, most of which were young men whose bodies had been mutilated. Because the rainforest climate wasn’t conducive to storing corpses, many of them were already covered with white maggots and had a foul smell.
Wang Chao covered his mouth and nose in fright. He pressed his face tightly into his backpack. Xing Conglian looked away and then looked at the soldiers, who were pointing submachine guns at them.
The other party looked like he was going to kill them here and add them to the corpse pile.
Wang Chao’s voice was tinged with sobs. Xing Conglian looked towards the corner where the teenager was pointing, only to find a young, naked Gaomeng boy sleeping in the corner of the corpse pile.
Xing Conglian sighed inaudibly.
The bald-headed bar owner started to go crazy at the door of the warehouse. He howled and wanted to rush in like crazy, causing the soldiers of the Gaomeng Tribe armed with firearms to nervously point their muzzles at them.
Kang An unlocked the safety of his gun and stood at the front.
“How many people are there upstairs?” Xing Conglian asked, throwing down his cigarette butt and stamping it out.
He didn’t know how he had offended these barbarians. In short, the other party became angrier, and their dark fingers tightened on the trigger.
At this moment, a weak voice came from the end of the dilapidated corridor in the distance. “Stop!”
Following the sound of footsteps, Xing Conglian looked in that direction and saw a person walking slowly against the sunlight.
After a short walk through the laboratory, Lin Chen and Duan Yang came to the last office area.
The style of the office was completely different from the cleanliness of the laboratory. It was full of all kinds of garbage. There was an old tire on the desk, paper scraps were everywhere, and a white magnetic board that was covered with black ink that scribbled out various complex chemical formulas that, at Lin Chen’s level, he couldn’t understand.
Therefore, he could only look at the masked man in front of him with more focus. The two traces of blood tears on the other’s mask were even more glaring under the incandescent light.
With a height of about 160 cm, a weight of 45 kg, and a shoe size of 6.5, he should be left-handed. Apart from this, Lin Chen found he couldn’t see any other characteristics of the other party, including gender.
He looked at the handwriting on the whiteboard again, then at the masked man, and couldn’t help frowning slightly.
“Let’s talk,” he said.
“Hee hee.” A mechanical cold laugh came from behind the mask. The man turned his head and pushed open the back door of the office.
Duan Yang couldn’t help screaming again and grabbed Lin Chen’s hand vigorously.
Lin Chen narrowed his eyes and looked into the dim space. Behind the door were countless small iron cages that he couldn’t see the end from a glance.
Inside the cages were taupe wild monkeys. Those monkeys had pink faces. When he was in college, Lin Chen had specially studied this kind of monkey. Their scientific name was rhesus macaque, and they were an important species used in scientific experiments in various countries around the world. A single rhesus monkey costs more than 10,000 yuan in the international market, so the value of nearly a hundred experimental monkeys in this lab alone was worth millions. Probably only in places like the Dana Rainforest could there be such an unscrupulous supply of monkeys.
The thin, masked man stopped in front of a cage.
The light shone on his pale mask. “Giving you a choice. Do something for me or be chopped into feed and fed to my babies.”