267 The Smallest Bacteria

    Tik Tok, Tik tok. The clock kept turning. On the monitor at the emergency command central, there was a 4 hours countdown to the departure of Team B and 10 hours left to blow up the channel. It had been 2 hours since Problematic Team A entered Dreamlands. The physical channel at Jiang Xin Municipal was still stable and more people had been assigned to guard over it. Team B and Team C were gathering and they comprised more members from the Spell Department.

    Commotion filled up the command central, every department was busy with assignment and arrangement. Elder Tong was having a discussion with Prof Shen and Prof Jiang. Long before Team A departed, they had already been discussing sending people into the Dreamlands through dreams like how they managed to at the island with the house of nightmare through a mental connection with Gu Jun. If that was possible, they would not exhaust the physical channel. But the problem was they had no idea where Kaar and the House of Worm were. However, since there was a mental connection, Prof Jiang claimed that it was theoretically worth a try.

    "Do not attempt to have Wu Siyu dream her way into Dreamlands." Gu Jun had warned before he left, "She will be faced with tragedy if she does so, that has been prophesied by the Great Atal." The issue was Wu Siyu had the tightest mental bond with Gu Jun. However, having predicted this contingency, Gu Jun offered another candidate, Wang Ruoxiang. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Wang Ruoxiang was thus summoned out from quarantine, and she was on her way to join the dreaming team...

    "It's been 2 hours already." Prof Shen said worriedly, "I wonder what's going on with Ah Jun's team."

    The other thing, which worried the command central, was the seedling for the 'Lai Hwa Tree'. Gu Jun said that it was a gift by Atal and it would have its uses. The researchers planted it in the greenhouse on the mothership. Since Gu Jun stressed that the seedling had to be cultured organically, the team had been following that principle. It was carefully monitored by a group of botanists. The main leader of the marine armada, Zhang Jingmin said, "We will not let the Phecda Hero down."

    "Elder Tong, this body is acting strangely." All over the world, the fatality number was still increasing. Huang Guoxin's body had been moved to the ship for further research. At that moment, a surveillance video running 8 times on fast forward was playing on the monitor so everyone could see the changes happening to Huang Guoxin's body clearly. The people from the medical department chilled. Xiao Huiwen, who was there to observe the autopsy of the zombie, mumbled numbly, "This is too fast, too fast..."

    Huang Guoxin's body recorded a steady body temperature of over 40 degree, in fact, the temperature had risen after his death. This was nothing strange, for example, for victims of cerebritis and pneumonia, due to the activity of the virus and bacteria in the dead body, the process of disintegration would accelerate, producing heat. It was normal for the body temperature to rise for a short while after death. But the other process of decomposition on Huang Guoxin's body was occurring far too early than they were supposed to!

    Decomposition normally occurred after the first 24 hour after death but there were clear signs of decomposition on Huang Guoxin's body less than 5 hours after his death. Every part of his body was decomposing, the illness had apparently spread beyond his lungs.

    "Bacillaemia." Xiao Huiwen concluded, "During the time of the death, the pneumonic bacteria infiltrated into the blood streams and caused bacillaemia." That was the only valid reason to explain how the bacteria from the lungs could have travelled to the rest of the body. Bacillaemia is an illness where after a bacterium enters a person's bloodstream, they start to procreate inside the blood. They then travel throughout the whole body following the blood flow. Even if it is just a minor bacterium, bacillaemia can cause severe consequences like acute internal organs failure. The fatality rate of bacillaemia caused by pneumonia was as high as 60 percent and that was just accounting for common pneumonia... this would explain why the patients had such a short survival time after infection.

    The Medical Department came up with this hypothesis before but they did not have the time to conduct autopsy and analysis. But now it could be confirmed that late stage patients of this new strain would suffer from bacillaemia, causing purulent infections all over the body. However, before this symptom could surface, the patients had already died from acute internal organs failure and thus the symptoms of bacillaemia were masked by other decomposing phenomena.

    Not only Huang Guoxin, the bodies of the other patients at Jiang Xin Hospital showed similar reactions. Their dead bodies became warm beds for the festering of legionella pneumophilia! They were literally morphing into pools of pus. To make things worse, the bacteria's growth appeared to have sped up after their hosts' death...

    "I'll bet my life that there is spell work behind this." Elder Tong said darkly, "This bacterium is impossibly virulent."

    "You are right..." Prof Jiang concurred. "Or it involves a type of science that we do not understand."

    A normal legionella pneumophilia was 0.6 to 1.2 millimeters in size, and the biggest among them could grow up to 50 mm. However, from the sample taken from the patient's blood and saliva, some of the new strain could grow up to 100 mm. However, the severity was not how big it could get but how small, because that would determine the kind of filtration device needed for decontamination. For now, the researchers had no answer but they were sure that it was smaller than 0.3 mm because the bacterium managed to pass through N95 medical mask which had over 95 percent filtration effectiveness.

    How small could a bacterium be? Well, the current smallest bacterium known to man was 'nanobacterium' which was only 50 nanometers or 0.05 mm in diameter. Therefore, from the virulity of its transmission, this pneumonic bacteria could be as small as 0.05 mm and that meant that only air-tight protective gear would be effective against them. However, the government did not have so many highly-protective gear to supply the public.

    Another strange thing was, from the patient's blood and saliva sample as well as air sample, the researchers failed to find such a small bacterium, the smallest among them was only 0.1 mm. 'Does this mean the bacteria can change their size and transform to adapt to their surroundings?'

    In some bacterial culture labs in the space station, it was observed that some bacteria knew how to transform as an evolved resistance to drugs but the transformation was not instantaneous...

    However, this new strain could be something incomprehensible according to the current human scientific knowledge. According to Gu Jun, the foreign civilization was ravaged by a 'hemoptysis plague' that could be transmitted without the trace of any bacteria, virus or parasite. It appeared to be transmitted through thoughts like the Nightmare Illness. If this new strain of legionella pneumophilia was a precursor to this hemoptysis, then the people behind this were very close to their goal already....

    As a precaution, the country had already initiated the Kindle Project. Some persons of interest had been moved to the secret base. Elder Tong, Prof Shen and Yao Sinian thought silently, 'Ah Jun, what is happening over there. Please hurry.'

    At that moment, suddenly an alarm echoed in the command central. The communicator gasped in panic. "Command central, we have a sight of a new fleet!"

    The armada of research ships sent over a livefeed. Down the sea horizon, a ghost-like fleet sailed through the darkness.

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