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The next day:
“What’s inside the refugee centre?” The young fatty asked.
Lai Jie smiled. “Everything. The government built it. After you go inside, you’ll be totally safe, until we ensure that there are no zombies and no viruses outside. Everyone can then come out and rebuild this country, and start a new life.
Rourou’s mother asked, “Do you need us to give you anything?”
Lai Jie, “No need. Most of the people living there don’t need too much. A lot of jobs in society are very mundane. There’s a lot of time, no need for labour, but once you go there, the group will assign you to studies and… suitable ways to pass your time. University students are divided into sciences and liberal arts. The science students are a bit busier than the liberal arts students, they’ll be transferred to do some research work, especially the biologists. You don’t have anyone specialising in biology, do you? That’s a big panda, you have to protect them.”
“No. What are the living conditions like?” Someone asked.
“The military manages things. There are twenty people in each room, three meals a day, no going out of the base, you need to make a report if you go out. Lights out at 9pm,” Lai Jie said.
The crowd nodded in understanding.
Liu Yan came downstairs and saw Lai Jie.
“I used to be a police officer. What about me?” Deng Changhe asked.
“A police officer… You can go through more training and take on the role of a guard,” Lai Jie said. “It’s not very clear, we’ll have to see what the arrangements are like over there.”
“Can you ask someone to take care of it?” Ding Lan asked.
Lai Jie was overjoyed.”I’m not really related to the centre. We’re under the jurisdiction of the military. I can’t help you.”
“Living on is pretty good already,” someone said. “You still want a private room and a bathroom?”
Everyone laughed. Lai Jie told them in detail stories about the refugee centre.
“Lieutenant Lai, when do you plan to go and rescue people?” Liu Yan asked.
As soon as Liu Yan appeared, the people around Lai Jie dispersed.
“I need manpower,” Lai Jie said.
Liu Yan nodded and said politely, “Good luck.”
Lai Jie smiled self-deprecatingly, and sat in the canteen, pondering for the entire morning.
In the afternoon, Liu Yan walked out to the flower field and saw Wen Qiege standing there. The Hurricane squad’s car doors were wide open. Lai Jie had opened a case with a passcode-protected lock on it, then turned towards Wen Qiege to say, “You’ve thought about it? If you change your mind, I’ll kill you.”
“I’ve made my decision,” Wen Qiege said.
Lai Jie nodded, and opened the steel case. Liu Yan went up to them, and saw that there was a white mist around the case. It was a freezer case.
From within the case, he took out a syringe, a needle. He tore open the packaging. “You arm,” he said.
Wen Qiege pulled up his sleeve.
“That’s your vaccine,” Liu Yan said.
“Yes.” Lai Jie did not avoid the question. “The International Rescue Organisation came up with it. It’s very precious.”
“Can it completely prevent infection?” Liu Yan said.
“No,” Lai Jie said.
“This vaccine was apparently modified from the earliest form of the vaccine. When the zombie outbreak first started, research for the vaccine was already underway…” Lai Jie slowly pressed the needle down. Wen Qiege was sweating and panting slightly.
“Hang in there, buddy,” Lai Jie said. “I believe you can do it.”
Liu Yan narrowed his eyes at that blue-coloured medicine in the syringe. Lai Jie was pushing the needle very very slowly. He didn't even raise his head as he said, “Previously, there were people who died when getting the vaccine. There are some who were successfully protected from the first incidence of infection, but their bodies did not produce antibodies…”
“I have two friends who are like that. They were bitten after getting the vaccine, but they lived,” Liu Yan said.
“They’re very lucky. There was only one in tens of thousands of cases… where one infection was prevented. Let them cherish their lives,” Lai Jie said.
“How does it spread?” Liu Yan asked.
“The people at the centre will tell you… Apparently there are two different stages. The first stage is when the virus enters your body, and you live. The second stage is that after you become a zombie, the structure of the virus also changes,” Lai Jie said casually.
Liu Yan nodded. Lai Jie continued, “Here’s a free pamphlet from the refugee centre. You can take it and have a look.”
“What’s the difference between the second and first stage?” Liu Yan asked.
Lai Jie, “The virus started out as a normal virus, like the flu, but after people became zombies, the virus became completely different. They call the virus carried by an uninfected person a ‘spore’. After they become zombies, it’s called the ‘host’. It’s quite vivid, ha.”
Liu Yan was silent. It was very vivid. It spread around as spores, and rooted itself inside a body and became a host.
“It’s strange,” Liu Yan said. “Along with the virus’s own reproduction capabilities, it can also create smaller viral particles? What is the chemical structure like? A spiral or icosahedral?”
“Look at the pamphlet for yourself,” Lai Jie said.
“I guess that both of those aren’t it. This is a strange hybrid between a virus and a proliferating cell… Is this still a virus?” Liu Yan muttered.
“I heard them say that this is a virus that humankind has never interacted with before. It could be an entirely new organism, just that it looks similar to a virus,” Lai Jie said.
Liu Yan nodded slowly. “Wen Qiege won’t have to be afraid of ever getting infected?”
Lai Jie glanced at Liu Yan, and seemed to understand where his questions were coming from. “No, this is a second vaccine that was created after many experiments and tests. Once you’ve received the injection, and come into contact with the virus, there will be other reactions… It can only protect you three times in total. It’s a bit like two different things. The vaccine will create new antibodies, and the virus that infects you, they’ll eat at each other inside your body.”
Liu Yan, “After the three times are over, then another injection?”
“Only three times in your life,” Lai Jie said. “So, including your own, that’s a total of four lives. After four lives, it’s all used up.”
Liu Yan nodded.
“The Oaks virus, it’s the name the Europeans gave it.” Lai Jie pushed the needle all the way down. Wen Qiege let out a pained cry and fell over. Liu Yan immediately stepped forward to help him up, but Lai Jie reached him first and held Wen Qiege.
“All right, it’s over,” Lai Jie said in a low voice. “Take a rest.”
He put Wen Qiege in the back of the car, and watched Liu Yan as he kept his things.
“The side effects are quite serious,” Liu Yan said. “There won’t be any mutations, right?”
“There will,” Lai Jie said as he smiled. “The body will create antibodies. Not only can it fight the Oaks virus, it can also heal wounds in a very short amount of time, a thousand times faster.”
“Just like a zombie?” Liu Yan noticed that Lai Jie’s wounds from yesterday had already vanished.
“Mhm?” Lai Jie nodded. “A little bit, but it’s completely different. The qualities of those who are injected will be amplified a hundred times. Wen Qiege, for example, has very dexterous hands. Apparently, he said he used to be a… thief. So I think he will have certain qualities.”
“He’ll become more agile?” Liu Yan said.
Lai Jie, “The body will begin to heal on its own after receiving fatal wounds, unless you were hit hard, or got a bullet to the head. Otherwise, if you lost an arm, leg… It will probably grow back. I’ve never tried it, anyway.”
Liu Yan, “A cyborg.”
“A cyborg warrior,” Lai Jie nodded. “Those who have been infected don’t have to be afraid. The refugee centre uses another kind of virus… to give to those who were infected. It can make their mobility slow down a lot, and enter hibernation.”
“To wait until they can be cured, then treat them,” Liu Yan muttered.
Lai Jie nodded appreciatively. “A plan when there’s no other plan, but apparently it can cause some damage to the brain, its magnitude is unclear.”
“I couldn’t tell that you knew so much about viral studies,” Liu Yan said.
Lai Jie laughed modestly. “It’s a must. How else would I explain it to new people when they’re getting the shot?”
Liu Yan changed the topic. “When we were migrating, we discovered a sort of giant, made up of parts of bodies.”
Lai Jie’s smile was restrained. “Oaks Amalgam. How many have you seen?”
Liu Yan’s heart shuddered. Lai Jie had the answers he was looking for.
But Liu Yan didn’t ask “what does that mean,” and directly said, “In the middle of that thing, there was something very weird. It made all of the dead zombies stick together…”
Lai Jie’s expression grew quite serious. “You’ve seen the string?”
“What?” Liu Yan asked. “That thing is called a string?”
“Impossible,” Lai Jie said.
“I saw it when I used infrared waves to investigate it,” Liu Yan said, and he kept talking. “Meng Feng used gasoline to burn it, and other people helped by using hooks to carve all the bodies away…”
Lai Jie immediately grabbed Liu Yan’s hand and pushed him to the side of the car. “Don’t move! When did you take apart the Oaks Amalgam?!”
He fumbled around for a piece of litmus paper and moistened it between his lips, then forced open Liu Yan’s mouth.
Liu Yan, “!!!”
Lai Jie, “I’m seeing if you have any antibodies. Don’t move!”
Liu Yan was constantly complaining inside his mind. Lai Jie was no weaker than Meng Feng, and he could not resist as he was being pressed down. He just had to use his saliva to moisten the litmus paper Lai Jie was holding.
After a moment, Lai Jie let go of him, pulling the paper out of Liu Yan’s mouth. He flipped open a colour chart, comparing it closely with the litmus paper.
“No,” Lai Jie said disappointedly. “You weren’t affected. You’re not who they’re looking for…”
String. Earth string.
Liu Yan had obtained two very important phrases.
Lai Jie closed the colour chart, and casually ate the piece of litmus paper. “Tell me in detail, how did you provoke that giant.”
“Why did you eat the paper,” Liu Yan said.
Liu Yan said very strangely, “I liked you from the first moment I saw you, didn’t I say that already?”
This guy really is a pervert – Liu Yan thought.
“We…” Liu Yan examined Lai Jie’s gaze, then backed away a bit just in case he tried to do something sudden, and continued carefully, “Just when we were taking it apart, another giant appeared. That giant started to attack us…”
Lai Jie laughed loudly.
“You’re lying.” After Lai Jie finished laughing, his expression changed. “I almost got tricked,” he said coldly.
He had seen through Liu Yan’s lie, there was no point in pretending, so he just asked, “What is this Earth String?”
Lai Jie’s brows wiggled. “Do you want to know?”
Liu Yan, “...”
“Join us,” Lai Jie said. “The Hurricane squad’s mechanic died not too long ago.”
Liu Yan shook his head slightly. “No.”
The corner of Lai Jie’s mouth tilted upwards a bit. “Then I’ll also say ‘no’. Although I liked you from the moment I saw you, I can’t tell you.”
Liu Yan saw that Lai Jie would not tell him, and suddenly changed to another question. “The zombies are intelligent now.”
“Oh, what about it?” Lai Jie said casually.
Lai Jie nodded, his hand holding the stack of litmus paper, playing and fiddling with it, looking as if he wanted to eat another piece.
Liu Yan frowned. “They’ve mutated? Or evolved? They have some IQ? What age of humans are they comparable to?”
Lai Jie, “If you don’t join us, I can’t tell you. It’s the absolute rule the organisation gave out. Even though I liked you the first time…”
Liu Yan interrupted him without remorse. “They also know it, and feel scared, is that it? Have you ever thought about if the zombies keep on evolving like this, what they will be like in the end?”
Lai Jie, “No comment.”
Liu Yan backed up a few steps, in case Lai Jie got violent in a fit of rage, then said regretfully, “You actually don’t even know anything. All you know is what you’ve memorised off that little pamphlet. You also only memorised all those things about the virus.”
Lai Jie, “...”
Lai Jie got up. Liu Yan immediately ran and disappeared.
At that moment, Lai Jie felt as though he had been duped.
“You can’t join even if you wanted to! The organisation has orders that they won’t accept anyone who can’t fight! You university students, will all be forced to go to the refugee centre in the end!” Lai Jie called out.
That night, Liu Yan turned over. Meng Feng was not asleep yet.
“Will you go with me? Meng Feng. To the refugee centre,” Liu Yan asked in the dark.
Meng Feng did not reply, and only looked at the ceiling.
Liu Yan had only heard a few things Lai Jie had said, but guessed completely correctly what had been discussed during the whole argument. “Work for the country, save people. What’s important is your heart, and not where you are.”
Meng Feng turned over and faced the wall, his voice heavy in the long night when he spoke.
“What can I do even if I go to the base?” he said. “Stand guard for my dad, get some salary, be his worker? Sounds great.”
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cael.