QZ Chapter 8
Quality Checker: MochiMochi95
First Published on Ainushi.
Ying Feng’s voice successfully stopped Ling Xiao from struggling. After seeing the person in his arms became quiet and still, Ying Feng finally put down his hand slowly.
He half-held Ling Xiao in his arms in an extremely intimate position. Their bodies were pressing against each other’s seamlessly. Ying Feng’s breath was blowing on Ling Xiao’s nape, successfully painting it red as if it was mixed with invisible pigment molecules.
Someone came in. A rustling noise echoed in the laboratory. Hiding in the corner using the cabinet as a cover, they didn’t know what happened, having even less courage to rashly pop their heads out to take a look.
The door pushed open once again. The person who arrived earlier was obviously surprised to see the person who had just come in, as his emotion was conveyed by his voice, “Why’re you here?”
They just heard this man’s voice not long ago, a voice that was gentle, modest, and scholarly.
“Don’t forget that I’ve also worked here before. I’m very aware of what you’re going to do.”
The second voice sounded even more familiar. Ling Xiao and Ying Feng exchanged a meaningful glance simultaneously–it was Dr. Yao. Had they not read the profile in the laboratory already, they would probably be very astonished to hear this sentence.
Zhi Shang barely forced out a smile, “Sure enough, I can’t hide anything from you. It’s an emergency situation now…” There came another burst of rattles. This time, Ling Xiao was able to recognize the sound of colliding glass within it. Zhi Shang spoke a lot faster, “It’s impossible to drive an airplane to the Lighthouse, but luckily, we still have the ‘2nd Gen Embers’ left by teacher.”
“But the development for 2nd Gen Embers wasn’t successful at that time. Teacher said it was only a semi-finished product, and the side effects were significant.”
“But there’s no time to worry about these things now.”
Ling Xiao and Ying Feng couldn’t suppress their curiosity and popped out half of their heads, risking the danger of being found out. Fortunately, those two people were too focused to notice the unusual activity on this side.
Yao Tai watched him smoothly extract the chemical solution from the bottles into the syringe, then blocked him with her hand, “Let me go. Don’t forget that I’m your Qizhu. My ability is stronger than yours.”
Zhi Shang rubbed her head as he smiled, “Your responsibility is to protect the children, while my responsibility is to protect this place. There isn’t much time left, I have to go.”
After he finished speaking, he raised the syringe without the slightest hesitation. However, the movement of his hand suddenly came to a halt.
Disbelief welled up in his eyes. “You…”
Even the two observers, Ling Xiao and Ying Feng, could tell that Zhi Shang didn’t do it out of his own will. His hand was trembling as he struggled, and even the only word he said sounded like it was squeezed out between his teeth with all his might.
Yao Tai easily took away the syringe from his hand, and gave him a soft kiss on the lips, whispering in his ear, “This is Qizhu’s order, you must not disobey.”
Zhi Shang couldn’t even move an inch. He stared helplessly as Yao Tai injected all of the orange-colored liquid into her body. She smiled at him, then disappeared before him like a flash.
The alarm in the Base was set off once again, and the hazard code was one grade higher. The largest meteorite created during the asteroid explosion was approaching them in an astonishing speed, yet the Lighthouse fell right onto its trajectory.
“Inform. The meteorite is confirmed to hit the Lighthouse after one minute!”
“Fifty-nine, fifty-eight, fifty-seven…” The system automatically started the countdown.
“Prepare the photon cannon.” The Vice Chief Researcher commanded.
“The launch angle is not ideal. The meteorite is too close to the Lighthouse that the cannon can easily hit it accidentally,” reported the staff.
The Vice Chief slapped the control panel heavily. At such a crucial moment, where did the Chief go after leaving behind such a big mess?
“Will the Lighthouse get destroyed?” The students covered their mouth in panic. Some of them were already on the verge of bursting into tears.
All the staff members were clouded with worries. They had been working here for so many years, yet this was the first time they had faced such a passive situation.
The system was still counting down diligently, “Ten, nine, eight…”
Right as everyone in the command center was at their wits’ end, someone suddenly pointed to the monitor screen. “Look!”
A bright light flashed across. The outside of the Lighthouse was too enveloped in a nearly transparent protection shell.
“Someone activated the emergency protection shell!”
Almost at the same time, a gigantic meteorite came flying through the sky, dragging a tail of flames and thick smoke. It crashed exactly onto the Lighthouse with a loud banging sound, immediately shrouding the Lighthouse mercilessly with flying dirt and smoke that filled the whole sky.
People stared at the monitor screen nervously. After a period of time, the thick smoke dissipated, and the Lighthouse revealed behind it was intact.
A burst of sighs of relief and cheers reverberated across the main hall. Some people were tightly grabbing their chest, while some others hugged each other enthusiastically. This was the first time for the students to experience such a tense moment which they felt like had lasted a whole century.
Ling Xiao and Ying Feng were hiding in the dark. Apart from a muffled noise which came from afar, they knew nothing else. All they could see was Zhi Shang standing there unmoving as if someone had thrown him a root spell. Only after the noise had passed was the spell finally removed.
“Ah-Yao!” Zhi Shang rushed out as soon as he was able to move again.
They had finally found their chance. Ying Feng gave Ling Xiao a push and said, “Go!”
Ling Xiao was the first to jump out from their hiding place, but only a few steps after he had dashed to the door, he turned around and headed back. Ying Feng, who was already outside the laboratory, knotted his brows. Just as he was about to let out a few accusations, that person appeared before him again.
“This.” Ling Xiao opened his palm, inside of it was the decoder Ying Feng left behind.
Ying Feng took back what he wanted to say in time. As he put the decoder away, he felt there was something weird about Ling Xiao.
“What’s in your hand?” He stared at Ling Xiao’s other hand. The other person guiltily hid the clenched fist behind his back.
“Nothing. Let’s go, people will come soon.”
Ying Feng didn’t have time to argue with him. They quickly returned to section G, one following the other. Sure enough, some staff members were searching for the missing students there. As the staffs saw them, they started to run towards them from afar. “Are you okay?”
“The alarm rang a minute ago. We were too nervous and lost our way.” Ying Feng replied calmly.
Ling Xiao also pretended to be flustered as he nodded, “That’s right. What happened?”
Ying Feng glanced at his hand. It was already empty. He couldn’t tell what Ling Xiao had taken from the laboratory, nor where he had hidden it now.
“An asteroid nearby accidentally disintegrated, but the alarm was already clear now.” The staff member explained to them. “It’s good that you two are fine. I’ll take you back now.”
“Asteroid disintegration? What about Dr. Yao and the other students? Are they alright?” Ling Xiao was mainly concerned about the former, but in order to prevent raising the other person’s suspicion, he had to pretend to know nothing about the scene which had just happened in the laboratory.
“The students are all in the main hall. No one is injured. Assistant Yao just left, but she should be fine too.”
“Did you just call her Assistant Yao?” Ling Xiao was sharp at catching the loophole in his words.
“Oh no, Dr. Yao.” The staff member flustered as he corrected himself, “I accidentally said it wrong.”
Ling Xiao thought of the profile he just saw. He tried to make some discreet inquiries, “Actually, Dr. Yao once told me in private that she had worked in the Base for a while before under a very famous advisor. I think his name was Tai something…”
This question was a bit of a bold move. It could easily arouse other people’s suspicion. For such an action that was very much a gamble, even Ying Feng was seized with anxiety inside for Ling Xiao.
The staff’s eyes widened in surprise. “It was the former Chief Researcher Tai Yin. She even told you about this? You must have a pretty good relationship with her.”
“Well, it’s not bad.” Seeing that the other person did not suspect him, Ling Xiao secretly heaved a breath of relief. “Dr. Yao looks after us a lot, and we often chat about some personal things.”
“Dr. Yao… Or, Assistant Yao indeed was an assistant researcher in the Base before. But that was already more than thirty years ago.” Seeing that Ling Xiao was also an insider, the staff member started to talk without any misgivings.
“Not only that, she was also a direct apprentice of the former Chief Researcher in Base. The former Chief Researcher didn’t take apprentices easily, and he only had three students in recent decades. One of them is the current Chief Researcher, Dr. Zhi Shang, whom you’ve just met.”
“Then why didn’t Dr. Yao stay in the Base but instead became a school doctor in our Institute?”
The staff member was silent. After a while, he said, “That’s because there was an accident about thirty years ago. The former Chief Researcher made an unredeemable mistake, and Assistant Yao and her junior brother decided to help their teacher during the event.”
“After the former Chief Researcher left, Dr. Zhi Shang who had taken the correct stand was promoted as the new Chief Researcher, while Dr. Yao, who was about to obtain her tenure, was deprived of her qualification to work in the Base.”
Ling Xiao was finally able to connect the two events. “Then what about Dr. Yao’s junior brother? Where is he now?”
“You mean Yu Quan? He got back to the right side after realizing his mistakes and reported his advisory professor to the Military Ministry, which could be counted as atoning for his crimes. Therefore, he was allowed to stay. However, he has remained as an assistant even till today, even though according to his qualifications, he should be able to obtain his tenure long ago. This is all because of the history before.”
Ling Xiao nodded, looking pensive. “About the former Chief Researcher Tai Yin, what kind of person is he?”
The staff member thought for a moment. “The word ‘genius’ alone was not enough to describe his talent, and even more so, he was an upright, resolute, mature, and earnest person. Every single person who has worked with him worshiped and revered him. It could be said that back in the Base during those years, he was able to rally multitudes at one call.”
“He had an extraordinary intelligence quotient as well as dedication. If he was determined to do something, then he must achieve it. But perhaps it was his abnormal obsession that eventually led him into the dead end.”
He sounded grieved and sorry as he was recalling those days. Every word of his seemed to come from the bottom of his heart. He might have once had a cherished reverence towards Tai Yin too, regarding the person as his beacon light. Tai Yin’s defect had probably smashed the adoration of numerous people like him.
But what surprised Ling Xiao was that Dr. Yao had also participated in that event. He wondered what kind of role she played in it. It must have been a dilemma in her heart to choose between justice and her gratitude towards her teacher.
While Ling Xiao was pondering as he walked, the people in his mind appeared right before him. Yao Tai was coming towards them with the support of Dr. Zhi Shang. Her face was red, her breath quick–she was obviously under the torture of the medicine’s side effects.
Deeply concerned, Ling Xiao went up to greet them as soon as he saw them. “Dr. Yao, are you alright?”
Yao Tai feebly shook her head, and Zhi Shang explained to Ling Xiao on her behalf, “Ah-Yao has some health problems now, so she can’t bring you back at the moment.”
Ling Xiao knew it was definitely not as simple as temporary health problems, but he had no other choice but to pretend he was not aware. “All right. You need to take care of yourself, Dr. Yao.”
Yao Tai nodded with great difficulty. Ying Feng who had just arrived also nodded back at her as they brushed past each other.
“In a moment, there will be staff members from the Base to accompany you back to your Institute. We’re very sorry that your precious field trip ended up being ruined like this,” said the staff member.
“Don’t say that, it was only an accident.” Ling Xiao thought to himself, if it wasn’t for this accident, we would not have entered the laboratory so easily. “Are you the one who’s going to send us back later?”
“No, the management is very strict in terms of entering and exiting the base. Some colleagues from the outer-ring will be responsible for sending you back.”
“Oh, by the way. We’ve been chatting for so long, but we still don’t know your name yet.”
The staff member laughed, “I’m He Gui. You’re welcome to visit me if you have the opportunity to come here again in the future.”
Ling Xiao and Ying Feng followed He Gui and returned to the main hall together. Three people immediately dashed towards them once they came into sight. Ping Zong and Lan Sheng grabbed Ling Xiao and started to throw all kinds of questions at him, while the person next to Ying Feng was, of course, Zhu Yue.
Ling Xiao had to use the excuse of ‘getting lost’ to get by. As he was talking, he kept glancing in Ying Feng’s direction. The latter was obviously unresponsive to Zhu Yue’s concerns, replying in the same cold attitude regardless of what the other person asked, and by the end, he simply ignored Zhu Yue.
‘If both your blood are able to blend, I doubt you would still treat him with that half-hearted look.’ Ling Xiao said in his mind. But as soon as he came up with this conjecture, he felt a sense of suffocation in his chest. A pent-up frustration coagulated inside it, refusing to go away.
On the other side, Zhu Yue was also quite discontented inside. “Where did you go? Why are you together with Ling Xiao?”
Ying Feng’s indifference was not only aimed against Ling Xiao; even toward Zhu Yue, who was chasing after him everyday, his attitude was still the same. “It doesn’t seem to concern you.”
Zhu Yue had just made an important decision, but Ying Feng had been completely ignoring him all this time, which made his determination seem not confident enough. “I’m just worried about you.”
“I don’t need your worry.”
Ying Feng turned around and left, leaving Zhu Yue biting his lips, feeling wronged.
“All clear. The protection shell can be turned off.” A voice came from the command center.
After receiving the order, the staff pushed down the release button, and the protection shell which had been covering the Base slowly went down. The unfiltered sunshine once again shone into the Base, but with naked eyes, one could not tell the difference at all.
On a window sill somewhere deep inside the Base, two droplets of blood hadn’t congealed yet. One of them slightly trembled. As if it was alive, it rolled towards the side, blending itself into the other drop intimately.