Star Rank Hunter - Chapter 356.1
Chapter 356: Who Are They [Part 1]
Anbixin was the head person-in-charge of the base where Mo Heng was held in. The higher-ups of Miracle saw great value in the projects that were being carried on there and invested a lot manpower, wealth and resource into it. Anbixin himself had invested a lot of effort to make sure that the work progressed as smoothly as possible.
Unfortunately, they had run into a bottleneck for some time now. His progress weren’t much better than the other bases, and worse the high-ups had pressured him to get them the results they wanted just two days ago. Although he had done the same to his subordinates, he didn’t think that a miracle breakthrough would happen.
That was why he was looking into alternatives that might lubricate this process substantially. For starters, he had ordered his men keep an eye on the commander of the Eleventh Squad, Cillin. As Mo Heng’s former student, Anbixin knew of his teacher’s ability better than most. That was why he believed that the technology Cillin had used to fire that space lightning had belonged to his teacher, and had tried to make him spill the beans. If the higher-ups hadn’t told him to give Mo Heng special treatment—compared to the other personnel who had been coerced into working for them anyway—he would’ve subjected his teacher to forceful interrogation already.
Unfortunately, the news his spies had reported back surprising news. The Eleventh Squad was currently on a mission, and every one of their members was present and accounted for. Anbixin couldn’t help but feel curious and irritated. Was he mistaken? Was Mo Heng’s message not intended for Cillin after all?
At any rate, the pressure from the higher-ups, the research bottleneck, the unproven theories; he was usually an unflappable person, but even he was starting to grow worried. He also couldn’t shake the feeling that something was about to happen.
His ominous premonition was proven true very soon. Five of the nine large research bases on the planet had caught an unknown virus, and three of them had been classified as red zones. They could suffer a total collapse at any moment.
Anbixin immediately ordered a lockdown when he learned of the news. No one from outside was allowed to enter the base. He didn’t stop people from leaving the base, but once they were out, they were out permanently until a cure of sorts had been found. Anbixin even dispatched some men to set up a quarantine perimeter a long, long distance away from the base. Long story short, anyone who crossed over the line and wasn’t a special person would be killed on sight.
For obvious reasons, Anbixin didn’t want the virus to spread to his base. If even one person got infected, then it was only a matter of time before the entire base succumbed. Although he was an engineering researcher, he knew enough about the subject to be extremely cautious about them. He had never been comfortable with the fact that his base and the virus research base were on the same planet; always choosing to turn them away from his doorsteps whenever possible. It was because he knew just how dangerous some of the viruses they were researching.
Not only did he have zero favorable impressions toward them, his first reaction upon learning of the virus outbreak was to curse everyone who worked in the virus and biochemistry research base a million times over. Even after he learned that the virus research base wasn’t ground zero, he still believed that it was their negligence that had led to their current conundrum and panic.
Of course, Anbixin had considered the possibility that someone might be spreading the virus on purpose. In fact, his first instinct was to suspect Mo Heng’s students or contacts. However, that made no sense because the outbreak had first started at the biochemistry research base. Assuming that someone was trying to save Mo Heng, they should’ve targeted the engineering base first. Moreover, genetics was one of Miracle’s primary research focus, so the defenses and safeguards in the biochemistry base were even better than the engineering base’s. He saw no reason why a rescue force would intentionally target a heavily guarded base where their target wasn’t even located at. Finally, the crisis at hand was a virus outbreak, and Mo Heng was an engineering expert. There was no connection between the two of them whatsoever.
Unable to figure out the reason behind the outbreak, Anbixin ultimately decide to put all the blame on the persons in charge of the biochemistry research base and the virus research base.
Meanwhile, Mo Heng was doing little to nothing in his room as per usual. If he was bored, he would assemble a generic machine to pass the time. If he was tired, he would either listen to a tune or take a short nap.
Mo Heng was resting in his chair right now. He was feeling a bit tired after finishing assembling a machine. He was just about to fall asleep when his fellow colleague, Old Man Sayd came through the door to speak with him.
“How are you so calm, Old Mo?” asked Sayd the moment he saw Mo Heng. He seemed unusually nervous and panicky today.
“I don’t understand what you mean. Why wouldn’t I?” Mo Heng opened his eyes lazily.
“You… you don’t know?”
“When was the last time you checked the public channel?” Old Man Sayd stared at his colleague in disbelief. Even if he pretended that the public channel didn’t exist, all Mo Heng needed to do to learn about the news was to walk out of his room and strike a conversation with any researcher. What the hell had he been doing all day?
“Like I care about the mind-boggling nonsense they spout on the public channel. It’s way better to just listen to some music.” His nap had been disrupted, so Mo Heng grabbed a part and tossed it into the air repeatedly.
Still wearing a panicky expression on his face, Sayd began telling Mo Heng all about the virus outbreak.
“There isn’t a single person in the base who isn’t panicking right now. We’re probably all going to die if just one of us catches the virus!”
Mo Heng fell silent for a moment before asking, “It’s that bad?”
“There hasn’t been any casualty yet—or at least that’s what they claim—but there’s no doubt that the virus is extremely powerful. Forget treating the virus, the special task force themselves had succumbed to it!”
Sayd was more sensitive toward virus than most because he had gone through a similar experience in the past. That virus outbreak had only affected a small area, and the research institute had found a cure and stopped the spread very quickly. However, as a GAL Engineering Institute scholar with a fair amount of influence at the time, Sayd had learned that the virus outbreak had started from a lab. Since then, he never got close to a lab that conducted virus or even biochemistry research again. He was perfectly content dealing with machines only.
Mo Heng stopped playing with the part and asked another question, “What are the others planning?”
Sayd sighed again. “At first, Anbixin allowed individual researchers to leave the base. No one thinks that it’s safe to remain here since everyone gets infected if even one person gets infected. I’ve already told you how ridiculously fast this new virus spread. However, the number of people who wishes to leave the base kept growing, and it’s reached the point where Anbixin put his foot down and forbade anyone else from leaving. After all, who’s going to work on the projects if everyone’s gone?”
“What an idiot. Who the hell can work undisturbed after hearing that!?” Mo Heng snorted. “Leaving the base isn’t necessarily the best thing to do, however. If the virus really is as fast-spreading as you claim, I bet there’s a ton of pathogens in the air. To leave the base is the same as committing suicide. At least here we have some high-end sterilization facilities and whatnot.”
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“I know, but those people were hoping that they could get out of the planet first before the virus reaches them. Of course, Miracle would never agree to that. The satellite arrays are already on standby mode, and anyone who attempts to leave will be killed without mercy. Not even if they are the head person-in-charge of the base, if you catch my drift.”
Mo Heng curled his lips. Miracle was a ruthless corporation alright.
“And what are you planning to do?” Mo Heng looked at Sayd.
Sayd paused for a moment before starting, “I’m going to isolate myself. I’ve already prepared the food, and I’m going to modify my room so that it would at least keep out the patients. What about you? Are you going to do the same thing? If you are, then I suggest that you start gathering the food supplies right away.”
Sayd was obviously nervous, and Mo Heng wasn’t able to give him an immediate answer. A while later, Sayd bade him goodbye and left the room in a hurry.
Mo Heng would lie back down on his chair and do nothing until a very, very long time later. He understood Sayd’s thinking, and he reckoned that many many others were planning something similar. However, Mo Heng had his own ideas. As the father of a general, he had a better understanding of the higher-ups’ way of thinking.
Assuming that the virus was too powerful to overcome, and a cure couldn’t be found before in a reasonably short timeframe, it was highly likely they would choose to abandon the planet entirely. What this meant was that the entire planet would be destroyed and wiped out from the surface of GAL. If that worst case scenario were to come by, then what was the point of holing up inside one’s own makeshift shelter? They would still die.
While Mo Heng was coming up with a plan, Cillin was also counting down the time until he began his operation.
The first patient had been discovered in the base he was imprisoned in. The second and third patients quickly popped up as well.
The base personnel were already nervous to begin with, but the appearance of their base’s patient zero immediately caused them to panic like birds that were startled by the mere twang of a bow. The order they maintained up until this point immediately fell apart, and over ninety percent of the ongoing work had come to a screeching halt. No one was in the mood of continuing their projects, and everyone was thinking how to avoid the unknown virus and the patients with all their hearts.
In fact, they couldn’t even trust the people around them anymore. It was as if everyone was a potential virus carrier. As the thought took root in every man and woman’s mind, the researchers began staying a good distance away from each other and put on their protective suits. It was almost like they were arming themselves to go to war.
Of course, those who knew the ropes knew that the special task force created to deal with the virus possessed some of the best facility and equipment on the entire planet. It might even be the best protective equipment Miracle had produced up until this point. Would their isolation suits be inadequate, and their sterilization facilities not up to date enough to deal with any virus? As for the members themselves, even the lowliest assistant among them had been a veteran with many, many years of experience beneath their belt. Would they really allow themselves to fall to negligence when their own lives were on the line?
The answer to all three questions were no, and they all knew that. That was exactly why they were anxious and terrified. They knew that their isolation suits might be useless, and they knew that it was only a matter of time before they were infected. However, they were just human, and even the most pragmatic among them couldn’t help but indulge in a sliver of wishful thinking. Most of them time, they would rather lie to themselves than face the cruel reality.
While the researchers were distracted, and the guards had been called away to maintain order within the base—
All the white cages inside the prison room were suddenly unlocked. Many of the soldiers trapped inside were tethering on the edge of despair, so many of them thought they were hallucinating for a second. Once the moment of sudden joy, excitement and hope had passed through, they immediately escaped their cages and ran with all their might. Most of them still carried severe injuries, but they weren’t so incapitated that they couldn’t move at all. The weaker captives were still shambling their way to the exit while the stronger ones were figuring out how to open the door.
Cillin was surprised by this occurrence because it wasn’t part of the plan. Yes, Czedow and Shusag were going to unlock the cages eventually, but that should’ve happened twenty minutes later. Twenty minutes wasn’t a long time, but it still wasn’t possible for them to arrive twenty minutes early considering the mission objectives they were supposed to carry out before this. Therefore, it couldn’t be Czedow’s work. Therefore, it was either the work of that mysterious wall walker, or Yue Lou’s rescuers. It could of course be caused by some other unknown party, but he decided that there was no point considering that possibility until he actually encountered them.
Regardless, this was good news overall. It meant that he could make some additional preparation before the start of the operation.