430 15 Gunshots

    At 4 am, the sky was still dark. 5 cubic km around the wasteland, the frontline workers were notified to evacuate but they had no idea this was an emergency evacuation. From the start, these workers had performed a series of radiation inspections at the wasteland. They did not detect any high radiation. But of course, there was some minor natural radiation. But now the headquarters suspected there might be a kind of locust radiation among the 'natural radiation' that could infiltrate the human genes.

    How did human DNA look like in the past? The past here referred to several billion years ago, the start of the mammalian animals. Before the modern human DNA framework was formed, it might be hard to believe but about 8 percent of human DNA came from prehistoric virus. Most of them were retrovirus, this kind of virus could infiltrate into the host's cells and then input their own gene into the host's DNA to accomplish parasitic infection. These parasitic genes would participate in the host's cellular activities and adopt them to their personal requirement. These retroviruses would be transmitted to the host's next generation through semen or ovum. The reason that human beings were the way human beings were today, the origins of certain organs and the brain synapses... had deep relations to these parasitic genes.

    After billions of years, human beings had adapted to these viruses. This was common to most mammals. Animal experiments had been done to split out these virus genes and they realized the lab rats soon perished. These virus genes were relatively stable inside the human body. But if a new kind of virus wished to infiltrate into this body, like the HIV virus, which was another retrovirus, then there would be a serious problem. On the other hand, medical science had attempted to input specific external gene information into the human body for the sake of recovery, this was genetic treatment.

    Therefore, was it possible that the pathogen for the Locust Sickness was a strand of specific DNA information that was input into the human genetics through radiation?

    "The hypothesis of carriers and infected" as well as "The hypothesis of parasitic gene", these two hypotheses provided by Wang Ruoxiang were heavily valued by the command central. Wang Ruoxiang was a star student. Even though her hypotheses could not be proven for now, they had plenty of supportive evidence. The first was since all bodily tissue within the victim could be transmogrified into locust worms, then this could indeed point towards an issue on a genetic level. The second was the connection to the mutated area. Radiation could indeed cause DNA mutation.

    The Scientific Research department immediately sampled the patient's and the parasite's DNA for comparison, but these analyses took time. The 6 patients who participated in the second experiment were immediately transferred to an isolated building. The others stayed where they were. The self-implosion of Headmaster Chui caused a radioactive corruption of about 8000 cubic metres with the man as the centre.

    "I've been thinking what is so special about the soil there..." This was the supportive argument behind Wang Ruoxiang's hypothesis. Since there was no difference in soil composition, then could the difference have come from radiation pollution? Its difference was not something current human technology could detect? The locust egg was not the key or perhaps they were by-products of the radiation? This hypothesis caused great distress to Elder Tong. If the wasteland was another piece of mutated area... then it was more dangerous than the nuclear mutated area. At least for the latter, they could tell the border clearly. For this wasteland, they could not tell where the border ended. There was no disappearing trees or discoloration in the ground to mark the difference.

    "Assuming the wasteland is connected to anormal abnormal space and like how the locust swarm can arrive at our world through the other mutated area, could the carriers like Lee Yuhan have travelled to another world?" Wang Ruoxiang's hypothesis was perfectly logical. Even at a place as sparse as Mo Bei, with Phecda's technology and manpower, it shouldn't be too hard to locate these 300 plus people. All the surveillance pointed towards the fact that they did head towards the wasteland. Their vehicles were still parked there. So where had they gone? To another world? Like that multi-colored cat?

    Compared to these people, the headquarter's main mission was to deal with the members who had entered the mutated wasteland. Would these people become mew carriers?

    If that was the case, before their self-explosion, the carriers' inherent radiation was not strong enough to contaminate others, that was the only good news. That meant that these people did not need to be quarantined for now. Of course, there was the possibility of there being a threshold and those within the threshold simply were in the latent stage. Headmaster Chui and his group stayed at the wasteland for 1.5 hours during Arbor Day without protection, that was a referenceable data.

    Some of these members had stayed here for more than 30 hours. Some had changed shifts while others set up camp there. Even with the protective gear, they had been there at least 10 times longer than Headmaster Chui... This evacuation was done in secret to not arouse the frontline workers' suspicion. No one could tell for sure what was happening so there was no need to raise unnecessary havoc.

    The One was also ordered to return from the nuclear mutated area. They too had visited the desert wasteland. 12 of them did, 6 came from Phecda. They were Lou Xiaoning, Ma Feng, Deng Ximei, Peacock, Malachite and Uncle Dan. They arrived and left together. They stayed for 31 minutes. They walked around the area before being transferred away. Therefore, all 12 of them could have been infected but due to difference in physical state, they'd manifest different symptoms. Among them, Peacock showed the most obvious symptom. During the evacuation, Peacock was assigned an isolated vehicle. She was tasked with a small experiment.

    She had Kathlyn take over the body. This change caused a strange influence on Kathlyn. Since she was not as mentally strong as Peacock, she was more easily influenced, "I feel so hungry... I want to eat dirt and there is a voice that forbids me from telling you guys that..." In comparison, Peacock felt more at ease in the body. Ever since the desire to eat locust appeared, she silenced it easily. She felt quite peaceful. But this did mean that... her body indeed had been infected by Locust Sickness.

    The secret command central was silent. Elder Tong and Yao Sinian's expressions were dark. Things were slowly proving Wang Ruoxiang right. Before they could react, another bad news came from the intercom, "There are members who refuse to retreat from the desert wasteland frontline! I repeat, there are members who refuse to retreat from the desert wasteland frontline!"

    There 173 members from Phecda who worked the 2 cubic km of the desert wasteland. 5 of them were from the Spell Department and 10 were from the Ancient Seal Department.

    "Get me connected to their leader now!" Elder Tong hissed through his teeth. The leader sent by the Spell Department was Yu Xiaoyong. Yu Xiaoyong was the original captain of the Arctic Wolf Special Mobile Force. He was handpicked to join the Spell Department. In the Yellow Brotherhood incident, he was part of the 'traitors' and was imprisoned alongside Wang Ruoxiang. He just returned to his post 1 year ago. Elder Tong, went against many complaints, to rescue people like Wang Ruoxiang and Yu Xiaoyong from imprisonment. If they disappointed Phecda again, Elder Tong would be in serious trouble. And now Phecda really did not have the time to deal with more dissent...

    Soon, the image was connected to the wasteland frontline. Yu Xiaoyong's tense expression appeared at the temporary camp headquarters. Behind him were a group of familiar faces. They were members Yao Sinian and Elder Tong personally selected to join the Spell Department and Ancient Seal Department.

    "Elder Tong... we have ingested too much soil... I, I cannot help it..." Yu Xiaoyong's voice trembled and his eyes reddened. "None of us can resist it. What I want to say is, we tried to physically fight it but there is a voice calling for us and we eventually succumbed to it..." So these people had not lost their mind, they were not as sick as Headmaster Chui yet. They knew the condition that they were in and could see the purpose behind this sudden evacuation.

    "I can feel the change in my body, parts of my body are changing... I can see worms under my palm..." Yu Xiaoyong croaked. "We can't be saved. We have eaten too much soil. We have been changed... If we return and are forbidden from eating soil, we'll go insane; if we stay here, we too will go insane as the worms take over our mind..."

    Elder Tong, Yao Sinian and others were lost. The rationality assessment stones did not glow. This was not a dark corruption. It was radiation and mutation.

    "The wills that we've written every time before our departure finally can come into use... Of the 163 people here, 82 of us are willing to commit suicide. All members from the Spell Department and Ancient Seal Department agreed to it. This is a free choice so we won't force the other colleagues. But personally, I'd suggest the headquarters to blow up this place with a missile. Do not let them go because they will turn into your enemy...

    "We have to make the move while we are still ourselves... Soil, I want soil. Eat more soil and we can see god... A voice told us that. Perhaps I know spells so I could hear more... because I also heard, eat more soil and I will become part of the Flying Locust... But no, I know I am Yu Xiaoyong, the former Arctic Wolf leader and proud Phecda member...

    "Now, please look away from the screen but record it, perhaps the science team can get some information from this... Elder Tong, and other officers, we're sorry but this shall be where our fight ends..."

    Yu Xiaoyong gave a military salute, took the gun from his waist, aimed it at his head and pulled the trigger.

    With a bang, the bullet shattered the skull and blood splashed everywhere. Along with the blood was brain matter and half-translucent young locust worms.

    The other members behind him all raised the gun with pain, determination and struggle.

    Bang, bang, bang, bang...

    There were 15 gunshots fired.
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