It was already dark by the time everyone finished checking the information and preparing the supplies. Xiao Lou looked out the window. The street lights were on so the bugs clearly hadn’t had time to destroy the city’s electrical system. He asked Yu Hanjiang, “Are we going to the east of the city tonight or shall we wait until dawn?”
Yu Hanjiang thought about it before replying, “Let’s explore the habits of the bugs first. We don’t know if they will rest or become more active after dark.”
After all, this type of bug was very new to everyone. It was unknown if they would become more aggressive at night. What if the bugs were more excited? Walking through the night was simply looking for death. It was only by knowing the enemy that they could better clear the instance.
Yu Hanjiang’s eyes swept over the group. “The people who can move fast will follow me to explore the way.”
Liu Qiao, Ye Qi, Long Sen and Qu Wanyue raised their hands. Then Shao Qingge said, “I copied the teleportation card and can also go.”
Xiao Lou had the acceleration shoes from Yu Hanjiang but his running speed was too slow. He might not be able to escape from the bugs even at five times the acceleration. Yu Hanjiang thought about it and decided it was better to copy one more displacement card so he could take Xiao Lou with him.
He looked at Shao Qingge and ordered, “Chief Shao, copy the light footwork card for me.”
Shao Qingge helplessly rubbed his temple. “My Rich and Willfull skill costs 5 million gold coins and it can only copy a card twice in a secret room. It also can’t copy the same card.”
Yu Hanjiang told him calmly, “It doesn’t matter. You can go back to the main city to make money. It is more important to clear 8 of Spades first.”
Since the captain said so, Shao Qingge was comfortable spending money. He copied Liu Qiao’s Light as a Swallow.
Once everyone’s cards were ready, Yu Hanjiang said simply, “This time, the path exploration is based on investigating the bugs’ habits. Everyone has their invisibility cloak and displacement cards. Try not to disturb the bugs or have a conflict with them. We are investigating, not fighting.”
He gestured to everyone, walked to the door of the decorating company and opened the iron door. The eight people flashed outside quickly and Old Mo locked the iron door behind them.
Outside the door, the street lights lit up the whole city. The streets were empty and most of the small stores were closed. The shopping malls were open but not a single person could be seen. In one day, the originally lively and bustling city had almost turned into an empty city.
From time to time, there was the sound of rats gnawing at the garbage bag. Yu Hanjiang watched the surroundings alertly. Not far away, a fat mouse saw then and immediately fled behind a trash can.
There were also stray cats and dogs looking for food in the bins. They were used to people coming and going and weren’t afraid of humans. A stray dog even barked twice when it saw Yu Hanjiang. However, there were no signs of attacking them.
Yu Hanjiang lowered his voice. “It seems that the bugs only infect humans. They have no effect on these animals.”
The eight people walked forward quickly.
Those who had been basking in the sunlight in the square and taking photos at noon were infected while others died on the side of the road. The corpses had bleeding eyes and the blood spots on the ground were infected. Some people became infected and chased other normal humans.
Now the square was empty. A cold wind blew through and everyone shivered.
Yu Hanjiang opened his mouth. “They should be systematically invading the entire city and chasing the locals. There are no prey in the square so they have shifted their targets. Places with a concentrated flow of people like the residential areas, shopping plazas, commercial centres, food cities, etc will definitely have a large number of mutated bugs. Everyone should be careful when moving.”
Ye Qi quickly took out his flute and looked above his head.
The moment he looked up, a bug suddenly swooped down from the sky. It turned out to have been lying on the street light at the edge of the square. The light at night was too dim and he was wearing pure black clothing so he almost melted into the night. The scarlet eyes exuded a cold light as he stared straight at Ye Qi.
Ye Qi cursed in his heart and immediately blew the flute. The bug was fixed in place by the sound of the flute. Then Yu Hanjiang took out his glock 17 handgun from his card pack, equipped it with a silencer and blasted the other party’s head!
Xiao Lou nervously clenched his fists. “Won’t it merge and upgrade?”
Yu Hanjiang stared coldly at the man in the suit lying on the ground. “The premise of fusion is that a partner is nearby to fuse with. There is just one bug within 100 metres. I want to see if they can be killed this way.”
The man who fell to the ground should’ve been a company executive before being infected. He was in a suit, leather shoes and had a briefcase in his hand. After being shot, he bled all over the ground. Sure enough, like the person killed with a headshot in the supermarket, countless black spider-shaped things crawled out of the blood.
However, there were no other parasites around for them to fuse and upgrade with. They couldn’t directly infect Xiao Lou’s group so the bugs quickly collapsed like they were drained of strength. There were a few squeaks and then no more movement.
Ye Qi had been very disgusted when he saw these things at first. Now he was used to it after seeing more. He stared at the group of bugs and wondered, “They aren’t moving. Are they dead?”
Xiao Lou was thoughtful. “It seems that a single bug is easy to kill. As long as the bugs are driven out of the human body, they won’t survive. In the future, we can find a way to separate the bugs and kill them one by one.
Of course, this approach was only useful in small-scale encounters. Once they encountered more than 20 bugs acting collectively, it would be difficult to separate and kill them one by one. Yu Hanjiang analyzed, “This type of bug should be a group species. The more there are, the stronger they become. We don’t need to be afraid of one or two alone.”
The others nodded in agreement.
Today, due to the large number of bugs in the supermarket, the upgrading and integration of the bugs caused trouble for everyone. However, it wasn’t that terrible if there were only one or two. They couldn’t merge and upgrade so it was only a dead end.
Group creatures. This judgment made everyone’s hair stand up.
The square was empty and it seemed to confirm Yu Hanjiang’s speculation that the bugs were hiding in the buildings and staying in groups. The sporadic lone ones on the street might’ve been lost and couldn’t keep up with the big troops. This also meant that once they met the bugs, it would be in a terrible number!
Xiao Lou questioned, “The night seems to have no effect on them?’
Yu Hanjiang replied, “Most bugs like to come and go at night. My guess is that the night won’t affect their actions. It will only make their eyesight and hearing more sensitive. If Xiao Ye hadn’t been on guard then he might’ve been knocked down.”
Ye Qi stared at the black things in the ground with lingering fear. “It must’ve been staring at us and waiting for us to approach before suddenly attacking. Fortunately, I reacted quickly!”
Humans were used to moving during the day and resting at night. Meanwhile, small animals like cockroaches, mice and these unknown bugs preferred the dark night. Night time was more dangerous for challengers.
It was unreasonable to cross half the city to reach the east district in one night. It was best to act during the day. Even so, Yu Hanjiang still wanted to seize the opportunity to avoid the gathering place of the bugs and to avoid the bug army when everyone acted tomorrow.
He thought up to here and ordered his teammates, “Everyone, put on your invisibility cloak. We have 30 minutes to investigate the nearby shopping malls, food cities and other places to see where the bugs are most active.”
Ye Qi suggested, “The bugs can’t see us when the cloaks are worn, right? The cloaks only last 30 minutes and it might take too long to check all these places. Should we split up?”
Xiao Lou was worried. “If we act separately, it is easy to be infected if you are weak and encounter danger.”
Ye Qi spoke seriously. “I have the invisibility cloak and teleportation card. The bugs can’t see me or catch me. It should be okay. If I meet a large number of bugs then I will immediately run away.”
Liu Qiao followed him. “I am the same. I can put on the invisibility cloak and jump on top of the building. They can’t be faster than me when I’m flying in the sky.”
Long Sen added, “Wanyue and I don’t have a problem with protecting ourselves. Before the bugs find us, we can use the cloak along with Long Jump and run 8 metres at a time. The bugs won’t be able to keep up.”
Yu Hanjiang frowned and didn’t speak.
Ye Qi scratched his head, his clear eyes full of seriousness. “Our strength might not be as good as Group Leader Yu’s strength but… we can’t always rely on Group Leader Yu to protect us. We also want to help a bit.”
Liu Qiao nodded solemnly. “Yes, this is only an A-grade secret room. We have to pass through the S-grade secret rooms. If we don’t dare to investigate alone in A-grade secret rooms then will we always hide behind Group Leader Yu in S-grade secret rooms?”
Long Sen agreed. “Yes, the invisibility only lasts for 30 minutes. It is too wasteful if all eight of us investigate one place. Group Leader Yu, rest assured. We can protect ourselves with the help of the cloak!”
The others looked at each other and nodded in agreement.
Yu Hanjiang thought carefully. They were right. He couldn’t always protect them. Everyone had to learn to protect themselves. If they had no way to protect themselves in 8 of Spades, what would happen in the more difficult J of Spades or K of Spades?
It was time to train the team members’ ability and courage.
The invisibility cloak hid the body as well as the smell. They became transparent air for 30 minutes and the bugs wouldn’t be able to detect them. Add in the various displacement cards and it would be really a waste if they couldn’t escape!
Yu Hanjiang watched his teammates.
Since his teammates were so courageous, Yu Hanjiang didn’t want to hurt everyone’s self-confidence. He simply said, “Okay, I will arrange the groups now. Liu Qiao, Long Sen and Qu Wanyue, the three of you have cards that can fly and jump. You are responsible for the large high-rise residential area on the east side of the square. Check the movements of the bugs from the air. The three of you should act together and mutually care for each other. Don’t be too far apart.”
The trio nodded. “Understood!”
Yu Hanjiang continued. “Chief Shao, Ye Qi and Old Mo, go and check the financial centre and office buildings. These buildings have a large number of companies and banking institutions. I need rough data of the office workers’ survival rate and infection rate.”
Ye Qi replied, “No problem!”
Yu Hanjiang glanced at Xiao Lou. “We will go to the shopping mall and food city.”
Xiao Lou naturally had no comment and nodded.
Yu Hanjiang whispered, “Be careful. If you encounter danger then use your displacement cards to retreat immediately. Find out the situation of the bugs within 25 minutes and come back here to meet. Don’t fight and if there is trouble that can’t be solved, throw the Night Pearl or lantern up directly to give a signal to your teammates!”
Everyone nodded. “We understand.”
Yu Hanjiang waved his hand. “Action!”
The eight people split into three teams. They put on their invisibility cloaks and entered the night in three different directions. The bugs couldn’t perceive their existence even if the bugs had no blind spots and a sharp sense of smell.
Unfortunately, the invisibility cloak could only be used once a day and it only lasted for 30 minutes. It was being used to check the enemy’s situation tonight. Tomorrow, it was necessary to plan and use it carefully. It could save lives at critical moments.
Once everyone left, Yu Hanjiang gently hugged Xiao Lou’s waist and told him calmly, “I will take you.”
Xiao Lou’s ears became hot. “Can you carry someone and still fly using the light footwork card? I don’t remember Liu Qiao’s card having this skill…”
Yu Hanjiang whispered, “The cards can’t but I can.”
He used a bit of strength and carried Xiao Lou up. Xiao Lou was really too light. Carrying Xiao Lou was easier than running at the police academy with a sack. Xiao Lou only felt the arm around his waist tightening and then he was easily brought into this man’s strong arms. This was followed by the use of the light footwork card and they soared into the sky.
Xiao Lou, “…”
There was the sound of the wind in their ears. They couldn’t see each other due to the invisibility cloaks but Xiao Lou could clearly feel the strength of Yu Hanjiang’s arms as he was hugged by Yu Hanjiang. Xiao Lou’s heart thumped as they flew lightly.
In order to avoid falling, he had to extend his hand and gently grasp Yu Hanjiang’s arm.
Underneath them was the dark crisis-ridden city while Yu Hanjiang flew above the city with the help of buildings. The main point of Light as a Swallow was to find a landing point within three seconds. If it wasn’t found, the user would fall. After full level, it was enough to find a landing point within eight seconds. Liu Qiao’s card was already at full level when Chief Shao copied it so the flying distance was very long.
Eight seconds of flying could cover almost all buildings on both sides of the street. Add in Yu Hanjiang’s long legs and it was very easy to find a landing point. He jumped like a swallow and flew lightly between buildings.
Xiao Lou suddenly had the illusion of making a big blockbuster with Group Leader Yu. After a moment of flight, Yu Hanjiang was chosen to be in the shopping mall. The two of them flew for a while before Yu Hanjiang chose a shopping mall.
The five storey shopping mall should have a large number of humans gathered. If more than 80% of people were infected then it would’ve become a bug nest and no one could run away. Yu Hanjiang just wanted to confirm if the shopping mall was a gathering place for the bugs. If so, they would avoid this area when evacuating to the east district tomorrow.
They fell in front of the shopping centre and Yu Hanjiang let go of Xiao Lou’s waist. He spoke through their heart channel, “Go in and see.”
The two people entered the shopping mall together. To their surprise, the first floor was empty.
The entire mall was brightly lit up but not a single figure could be seen. The shops selling clothes and drinks had their doors open but the shop employees were missing. The escalators of the mall were still running as usual but there was no one on it. At first glance, they seemed to have entered a ghost town. Just like the supermarket, the temperature of the mall was so low that it was clear the heating had been turned off.
Yu Hanjiang’s voice rang in Xiao Lou’s mind. “Come with me upstairs to see.”
The two of them went upstairs together on the escalator. The 2nd floor, 3rd floor, 4th floor…
It was all empty. Not a single person could be seen.
Xiao Lou wondered doubtfully in his mind, “There should’ve been many people at noon in such a large shopping centre. As long as they attack, the bugs should spread quickly. Why can’t we see a single infected person? Where did they go?”
Yu Hanjiang frowned. “It isn’t right here. Be careful.”
The two men stepped onto the escalator for the fifth floor.
Looking around, they still didn’t see any infected people. At this moment, Xiao Lou’s forehead was cold. It felt like when rain fell on his forehead. Xiao Lou raised his head in a confused manner but the scene in front of him caused him to stiffen and all the hairs on his body to stand upright.
He saw that the ceiling of the fifth floor was densely covered with people!
Some of them were wearing the clothes of the mall staff while some were customers who came to the mall. The elderly, young people and children… countless people all climbed onto the ceiling and were motionless!
They were closed to each other, their hands and feet gripping the ceiling. The scarlet eyes protruded slightly like insect eyes and turned around greedily.
The scene of a large number of infected people crawling on the ceiling made Xiao Lou frightened. If this group suddenly fell from the ceiling then he and Yu Hanjiang would instantly be overwhelmed by the bugs.
Fortunately, the two of them were wearing invisibility cloaks. The consequences would’ve been unimaginable if they hadn’t been invisible. Yu Hanjiang’s expression sank when he saw this scene and he instantly hugged Xiao Lou while whispering in his mind, “Go!”
Xiao Lou turned to keep up with Yu Hanjiang.
His heart had almost popped out of his chest. Such a scene was more terrible than any science fiction movie he had ever seen. Fortunately, he didn’t have any intensive phobias or this scene would’ve frightened him to death.
The two people quickly evacuated the mall. Yu Hanjiang flew lightly with Xiao Lou and they came to the food city.
Unlike the shopping mall where the bugs were on the ceiling, all the bugs in the food city were crawling on the ground. The entire street was full of people moving slowly. Their scarlet eyes were moving around. They seemed to be checking if any fish had fallen into their net. The originally lively food street had directly become the territory of the bugs!
Xiao Lou didn’t know what to say. He told Yu Hanjiang in his mind, “It seems that no one on this street was spared. We can’t go here when we evacuate tomorrow.”
Yu Hanjiang nodded. “Go back as soon as possible. Don’t alarm them.”
The number of bugs was too scary. This dense group was more terrifying than the train station during the Spring Festival. Most importantly, they were all crawling on the ground or on the ceiling. This scene was simply the nemesis of those with intensive phobias and it made his scalp numb!
Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou returned to the square. The end time of the invisibility cloak hadn’t arrived yet so they didn’t take it off. They just placed a lantern in the middle to call for everyone.
Shao Qingge, Ye Qi and Old Mo also came back. Ye Qi whispered, “Group Leader Yu?”
Yu Hanjiang’s low voice was heard. “I am here. How was it?”
Ye Qi came near the lantern and reported, “We went to the financial building. There are a large number of enterprises and companies in this office building and countless white-collar employees have been infected. They are crowding into the lobby on the first floor!”
Old Mo added, “Their bodies are almost glued together. It is disgusting to see them.”
Humans preferred some independent space. Crowded places, especially being crowded in front and behind, made a person irritable. However, the bugs were different. They liked to be close to their companions and liked to crowd into the same space in large numbers. Perhaps this made them feel more secure.
Xiao Lou analyzed it. “Probably it is more convenient to upgrade if they are crowded together.”
Ye Qi’s lips trembled slightly. “It is terrible. There should be thousands of infected people in the lobby. All the bugs in the building came together like they were having a meeting of bugs. It would’ve definitely been a dead end if we weren’t wearing the invisibility cloaks!”
Yu Hanjiang whispered, “How about Liu Qiao?”
Ye Qi replied, “It seems they haven’t returned yet.”
Everyone was wearing invisibility cloaks and couldn’t see each other. They could only distinguish by sound.
Yu Hanjiang was worried that Liu Qiao’s group had an accident. Then within a minute, Qu Wanyue’s slightly trembling voice was heard. “Are you there?”
Yu Hanjiang asked, “How was your side?”
Qu Wanyue sighed with relief. “We wanted to jump up and check the situation of several residential buildings. We didn’t expect… the infected people in the entire community were concentrated at the square of the community.”
Liu Qiao added, “Moreover, the music of the square was still playing the square dance. It must be that they didn’t have time to turn it off in the evening. The community we went to should have more than 1,000 residents. It is estimated that the number of infected people is over 2,000.”
Long Sen scolded, “This group of bugs is too perverted! Listening to the music of the square dance while lying motionless on the square of the community. It is like a meeting! If it wasn’t for the bugs staying still, I suspected they would’ve clapped and listened to the leader’s speech the next moment.
Long Sen’s joke wasn’t funny. Everyone just got goosebumps. The bugs were group animals and liked to stay together in large groups. It seemed that not many residents of this central square had survived. The shopping malls, financial buildings, food streets and other places with high traffic had been infected.
In the residential area, the residents who didn’t go out today might live a few days if they shut their doors and windows. However, they could see from the window the thousands of people lying together downstairs. It was highly likely they would be frightened.
Xiao Lou spoke calmly. “Long Sen is right. In the bugs’ population, there might really be a leader gathering them together.”
The group watched Xiao Lou. He took a deep breath before whispering, “They are gathered together in groups. Perhaps the leader is giving instructions for their next actions. For example, when an ant colony is about to move, the queen ant will give the ants some instructions.”
Ye Qi’s eyes brightened. “Yes! The scene I saw in the financial building was like a meeting for bugs!”
It seemed there would be a large-scale action by the bugs tonight?
Yu Hanjiang had this thought and suddenly ordered, “It is dangerous! Everyone, withdraw!”
The moment he finished speaking, he hugged Xiao Lou’s waist and flew with Xiao Lou to the opposite street using the light footwork card. The others also used their displacement cards to escape.
The next moment… they saw countless bugs suddenly pour out of the nest!
A huge amount of infected people emerged from the shopping malls, food streets, financial buildings and other buildings like a tide. They were on all fours and using both hands and feet to crawl like crazy to the nearby residential areas.
It turned out that the bugs wanted to completely occupy this area. At present, some residents had escaped the net and none of the bugs wanted to let them go. So the bugs decided to suppress them with an army and surround the entire residential area.
Yu Hanjiang’s face was extremely ugly. “Go back and pack our things. We will leave here immediately!”
Unexpectedly, the bugs would collectively attack the residential area at night. As they were fully attacking, the team had to evacuate as soon as possible. Otherwise, by tomorrow morning, the city centre would be the world of bugs and it would be difficult for them.
Thinking of the serious consequences, the group used their displacement cards to quickly return to Old Mo’s company. Old Mo opened the door and everyone went in to grab their bags, the insecticides, the lights, medicine boxes and other supplies. Then they ran to Yu Hanjiang.
Everyone’s goal was the eastern part of the city. They could only hope that the logistics distribution centre didn’t have too many infected people. Everyone silently prayed in their hearts.