Edited by: Isalee
When he entered the water, Zhou Rong only had one thought — it was very cold.
The groundwater was bone-chilling. He did a couple of strokes to loosen his muscles. With the light from his headlamp, he saw that Zhang Yingjie was trapped by two large shadows near his feet, and could not struggle out from their hold.
Zhou Rong was afraid that he would hit Zhang Yingjie. He aimed at a zombie before pressing the trigger. However, the water deflected the angle of the bullet, and it only hit the zombie’s back!
It was completely useless!
Aggressive movements would cause a depletion in oxygen. Zhang Yingjie could finally no longer hold on to his breath, and bubbles expelled from his lungs before he silently sank further into the water.
Zhou Rong swore in his heart. He resolutely dived deeper. One of the zombies who had swelled up after being submerged in water now turned back to catch him while the other chased after Zhang Yingjie.
Zhou Rong used the butt of his rifle to hit the zombie, making it fall back. However, the zombie slammed against the wall of the elevator shaft and rebounded. Stretching open its dissolving mouth, the zombie leaned forward, but its mouth was blocked by Zhou Rong’s gun. With a shot, its head exploded!
With black blood trailing behind its body, the zombie sank swiftly. Zhou Rong felt that he could no longer hold his breath anymore. However, the situation did not allow him to hesitate at all. He lunged towards the direction where Zhang Yingjie had disappeared.
In many drowning situations, the hardest type of rescue was when the victim jumped into a well. Due to the smoothness of the walls, there was no pivot point, and it was difficult to struggle to stay afloat in such a cramped space. Descending rapidly like what Zhou Rong was doing would increase the water pressure tremendously, and the oxygen consumption would instantly reach its limit.
His lungs convulsing violently, Zhou Rong gritted his teeth, holding on to his last breath. Suddenly, he felt a change in the direction of the water, and the zombie who had been chasing Zhang Yingjie was now floating up!
Zhou Rong only had this thought left in his head. His blood surged up within him, and he swung a heavy fist towards it!
If this was on land, Zhou Rong’s right fist could reach a force of 400 kilograms. In the arena, this could knock out a boxer. However, due to the lack of oxygen as well as the density of water, a large portion of his strength was diminished. The zombie’s chest caved in with his punch, but it lunged towards him again.
Zhou Rong’s vision was darkening. He struggled to lift his gun up and press his trigger!
The random shots made the water murky. The head and body of the zombie burst apart and finally sank down.
By then, Zhou Rong could no longer feel the existence of his limbs. He pulled his gun away, mechanically sinking down. Groping about, he touched a motionless leg at the bottom.
A hard-soled military boot, a leg, a tactical bag… It was Zhang Yingjie!
Feeling as though a cardiotonic had been injected into him, Zhou Rong used the last bit of his strength to drag Zhang Yingjie up, then did his utmost to head to the surface.
— There was a sudden weight on his foot!
Two icy, stiff hands reached out from the bottom of the elevator shaft and caught his ankle.
The water rushed upwards. A zombie with a swollen, disgusting head came up and savagely bit Zhou Rong’s calf that was covered by his uniform!
Zhou Rong kicked his leg wildly. The kicks echoed in the water, but due to the lack of oxygen, his vision was dark, and he was unable to pull out his handgun. In the struggle, his mouth opened, and this insignificant action nearly ended his life there and then—
As his throat was relaxed, the last breath of air in his lungs escaped out in a flurry of bubbles.
Was this… the end?
A bright light came from above. A shadow dove in swiftly, brushing past Zhou Rong!
Zhou Rong was really completely exhausted, he could barely see anything anymore. The last thing he saw before he fainted was that person biting a dagger, heading straight towards the zombie. The light shone upon his cold, handsome face.
— It was Si Nan.
Zhou Rong shut his eyes, and his consciousness finally faded away.
“There’s still a pulse…”
“Keep it up! …”
“He moved! He’s moving!”
Zhou Rong wrenched his eyes open, struggling to sit up as he coughed out a bellyful of water.
This cough lasted forever, nearly forcing his spleen out. A moment later, Zhou Rong finally awkwardly stopped coughing, gasping as he spoke hoarsely, “Yingjie…”
Chun Cao exclaimed in joy, “Rong-ge is fine! — Hey, Si Xiao-Nan?!”
Zhou Rong raised his head only to see Si Nan kneeling next to him. When he heard that he was fine, he silently collapsed backwards.
Zhou Rong was extremely alarmed. He hurriedly reached out to grab him. Si Nan was soaked, his face pale, and he had fainted away.
“He’s overexerted himself.” Exhaustion was written across Chun Cao’s face, “We both took turns to do CPR on you both.”
Zhou Rong leaned against the wall, pillowing Si Nan’s head on his stomach. Wearily, he examined his surroundings. They had finally reached Zone B. This should be some personnel’s office. Sprayed across the concrete walls was blood. Papers and files were scattered all over the ground, and the metal door was closed tightly. Outside the room, the indistinct moans of the zombies could be heard.
Zhang Yingjie was lying motionless next to him. He looked as though he was dead, but after studying him carefully, his chest was rising and falling slightly.
Zhou Rong gave a couple of coughs. Having nearly drowned, his throat was extremely painful. He barely managed to ask, “What happened?”
“There was limited space in the elevator shaft. Si Xiao-Nan and I were afraid that the two of you wouldn’t have space to work. However, after two or three minutes, there was still no sign from either of you, and we could only jump in and start searching. Discovering that you had been caught by the zombie, Si Xiao-Nan stabbed the zombie’s head that was biting you. I then blasted the bomb that we set up, and we were flushed out from the shaft…”
“However, the shockwave from the explosion was too big, and both you and Yingjie hit your heads,” Chun Cao gazed at Zhang Yingjie in worry. “I hope he hasn’t become stupid from it.”
Zhou Rong thought of something and looked down at his calf.
His pant leg had turned ragged from the bites. However, thanks to the full body bulletproof clothing, he was not injured.
“Did Yingjie…” Zhou Rong asked quietly.
“No, he was wearing his gas mask when we were flushed out. He must have immediately pulled it over his head when he was dragged underwater by the zombies. However, his clothes are full of holes, and his body is covered with scrapes and bruises. We haven’t had time to check yet.”
Zhou Rong turned over and felt for Zhang Yingjie’s pulse. Although it was weak, it was still steady, and he sighed in relief.
Suddenly, he discovered that under Zhang Yingjie’s nose was a trace of blood that had not been wiped away completely. Abruptly realising something, he reached up and touched the area under his own nose. As expected, the immense water pressure had caused him to bleed. He instantly got a headache. “What’s going on?! Just now, Si Nan—”
Si Nan’s head was lying on Zhou Rong’s firm abdomen. He was still unconscious.
“Dad, you got lucky today.” Chun Cao spoke feebly, “You didn’t see what Si Xiao-Nan was like when he was resuscitating you. He had already reached his limit and was out of his mind. As he pumped your chest, I thought that he would be able to break your ribs just like that. I asked him to rest for a bit to let me take over, but even when I shouted into his ear, he couldn’t hear me…”
Zhou Rong was in a daze.
“Also,” Chun Cao spoke earnestly, “having spent so much time next to the zombies, you guys really smell awful. For all we know, Si Xiao-Nan may have just been overwhelmed by your odour and fainted…”
Zhou Rong finally completely relaxed. He leaned into the wall, giving a long exhalation.
Although Si Nan did not notice their Alpha pheromones, biologically speaking, he was still affected. In his comatose state, he seemed to be suffering slightly, anxiously tossing about. Zhou Rong hugged him and shifted him up, pulling him up into his arms. He patted his back lightly, trying to soothe him in such a manner.
After some time, Si Nan finally settled down a little. His breathing deepened, but his forehead was still creased.
His appearance was quite young. Because of his mixed blood, his features were more defined than most. His skin was a chilly white after being submerged underwater.
However, there were already apparent wrinkles on his brow. It seemed as though he was always frowning slightly, looking as though there were always things on his mind.
Zhou Rong fed him some water. Wiping away the stray droplets with his thumb, he left a light reddish mark on the corner of his lips.
“I was negligent. When I didn’t see the cabin in the elevator shaft, I should have thought of it.” Zhou Rong spoke lowly, “When the electricity was cut off due to the virus outbreak in the shelter, the cabin would have fallen all the way to the bottom. Even if the people inside did not fall to their deaths, their injuries would have been infected with the groundwater that contained the virus and turned into zombies. Hiding under the water… Fortunately, everyone is fine, if not.”
His voice paused, and he did not continue.
“If not what? You’ll pay with your life?” Chun Cao laughed lazily. “Rong-ge, don’t be foolish. Life and death are decreed by fate, we all understand that.”
Zhou Rong smiled and no longer lingered around this topic. In his arms, Si Nan gave an uneasy shudder, and slowly opened his eyes.
Zhou Rong bent closer, listening to him grumble softly, “… You smell…”
Zhou Rong paused, then patted him on his face as he smiled. “We’re all soaked in groundwater and you still wish for me to smell like Chanel No. 5? It’s perfectly normal to smell like this, ok?”
Si Nan shut his eyes, opening them again a moment later. Repeating this a few times, he finally woke up properly. Sitting up, he asked, “What time is it now?”
Chun Cao happened to be sitting across them, looking at her cheap dad with condemning eyes. She tapped on her watch with a glow-in-the-dark face, “It’s 11.30. It’s been five and a half hours since we entered the base.”
“Very good, R&R is over. Let’s get ready to go!” Zhou Rong kicked Zhang Yingjie’s backside. The latter refused to budge, still sleeping soundly, even giving a slight snore.
Zhou Rong had no choice. He could only let Chun Cao carry Zhang Yingjie as he carried Chun Cao’s gear. He swayed as he stood up.
“We’re now at the entrance of the communication department in the base. The emergency satellite communication room is here,” Zhou Rong marked the location in red on the map. “We’re about 200 metres away from it directly, and we’ll need to go through 2 corridors and a metal safety door. Comrade Xiao-Si will be in charge of blasting that open.”
“Once we send a message through the satellite, we should be able to reach Zone E within 2 hours. The viral research lab is here… This is a high-risk zone, don’t be eager to fight. As soon as it’s clear that we have no chance of making an attack there, we’ll evacuate immediately. The escape route will be the one that we planned previously, and we’ll meet at the rail station in the central zone. If Yan Hao’s group hasn’t been completely wiped out, we’ll be able to drive a new armoured vehicle back.” Zhou Rong waved the tablet, “— Are there any questions?”
No one raised their hands.
Chun Cao dragged Zhang Yingjie along with much difficulty. The latter’s two feet were trailing along the ground. Si Nan was sitting cross-legged as he rubbed at his eyes. They had turned red, and he clearly was not completely alert yet.
“Not bad, everyone still has plenty of fight in them!” Zhou Rong clapped his hands together, full of enthusiasm, “Next, everyone, follow me, and we’ll proceed towards the light of success!”
Zhou Rong turned around and Si Nan’s voice suddenly drifted over from behind him. “Rong-ge.”
Zhou Rong turned his head around. Before he could say anything, he received a tight hug.
Si Nan’s face was almost buried in Zhou Rong’s neck. He neither spoke nor moved. Maintaining this position for more than ten seconds, he finally lifted his head up. As if in relief, he patted Zhou Rong’s tense, strong back that felt as though it was on fire.
“How great, you didn’t die.”
Si Nan took half a step back, looking into Zhou Rong’s eyes and saying earnestly, “I won’t let any of you die.”
He then bent down and picked up his tactical backpack, walking past Zhou Rong’s motionless body.
The air seemed to freeze for a very long time. Zhou Rong finally blinked as though someone had turned his switch on.
“… Cao’er.” His entire person seemed to be drifting in the clouds, “Papa will give you one last chance… Yan Hao and Papa, whose side are you on?”
Chun Cao observed him sympathetically, slowly shaking her head. “I only know that in the future, when he discovers that he has been deceived by us, you will definitely be screwed to death, you’ll definitely get it worse than Yan Hao…”