The Mutated Man
After making sure that Wang Xiaguang was alright, Luo Yuan picked up his sword and walked out of the room.
The five people that had arrived looked pretty old. The oldest one was 67 years old while the youngest was 34. Compared to normal people, the five of them looked considerably more mature. As they watched Luo Yuan come out, the men maintained their composure, although they still looked kind of uneasy.
None of them had wanted to come and face the cold-blooded killer. They had been forced to. Originally, the murder of Wang Xiaguang’s family had been approved by all parties, but now they would have to pay the price for it.
“You and Wang Hongbiao are from East Lake City, right?” one of the old men asked, trying to force a warm smile.
Luo Yuan sneered, “Cut the crap. Have you come here to die?”
Maintaining the same expression, the old man exhaled a sigh of relief. As long as there was no violence, everything would be alright. The scariest ones were those who killed like madmen without saying anything. With a smile, he took a short, respectful bow and carefully said, “We only hoped that you would not kill innocent people. There must be some kind of misunderstanding!’
“Misunderstanding?” Luo Yuan snorted. He scanned the crowd. This group of people had to be the investors of the base.
Although he had a few guesses about their secrets, the truth about to be revealed would still shock him.
“Yes, a misunderstanding!” the old man sighed, his eyes flashing with a trace of fear. “Wang Hongbiao is our friend. Although some of us only met recently, most of us have known each other very long and have done business together before. We all know each other. Even though our friendship may not be a deep one, we still consider each other as a friend.”
“This small base had been in the works for a long time. It had been designed to act as an escape route for our people. We thought it was going to be a while before we truly needed it. We had not expected it to be this soon.”
“When we first moved here, everything was normal. However, gradually, we started to notice some weird changes in Wang Hongbiao. He fed on raw meat; at first he was discreet, but then he started to feed in front of people. His appetite grew enormous, and soon he was consuming up to several pounds of meat a day. He looked unstable, sometimes even crazy. The way he looked at people had also changed. Come to think of it, he was looking at them like they were food.”
“Although we felt strange, we didn’t put much thought into it. We had heard the rumors about evolution, and we thought he was one of those people. As time passed, people in the base started to go missing. Their number increased as the days went by.
“One of them was the father of the man you just killed, Shen Shao Chong. People started to get worried, afraid that they would be next. When we finally performed a thorough investigation and set up surveillance cameras in every corner, we found him in a bloodied bathroom, tearing apart a corpse and eating it like a crazy beast.”
“He had become so strong, that even bullets did not have much of an effect on him. Only when one of the dying victims accidentally tore through his clothes, did we see that a part of his body was covered in scales. Even though we eventually had him killed, seven to eight lives had already been lost.”
It wasn’t a bad story.
When Luo Yuan heard that Wang Hongbiao had grown scales on his body, his expression changed and became doubtful. Was this a failed evolution? The idea flashed across his mind as he coldly asked, “Is that your explanation?’
The old man sighed, but didn’t speak.
Even though he said nothing, Luo Yuan could guess that the hatred of the people had led them to take revenge on Wang Hongbiao’s wife and daughter. Luo Yuan never underestimated the evil of human nature. Looking at the group of people, his hands tightened on his sword, ready to kill.
The crowd held their breath as their faces turned pale and their hearts began to beat fast. A few of them had quietly reached into pockets for their handguns. Out of the corner of his eye, Luo Yuan saw several men with guns emerge, preparing for the worst.
“How did Wang Xiaguang’s mother die?” Luo Yuan suddenly said. The room went silent for a while.
“Maybe she had heard the news and didn’t want to wait for us to take action. She committed suicide on that very night,” the old man said, swallowing hard.
“We didn’t touch her either. Shen Shao Chong wanted her to kneel before him, but she stubbornly refused. We had cleared the issue, so we didn’t think that Shen Shao Chong would go to such extremes.” As a man he naturally understood what Luo Yuan had meant earlier.
A dead person could hardly ever defend themselves. Luo Yuan knew that there had to be others involved too. They could not be as innocent as they claimed to be. But what was the point in insisting on learning the truth? Killing more people? Or killing everyone in the base?
At least Wang Xiaguang was still alive. He had never met her parents nor did their deaths cause him any sad feelings. There was nothing he could do about it. Feeling exhausted, he waved his hand. “Leave now, before I kill you all.”
The crowd quickly dispersed with a sigh of relief, only to realize their backs had been sweating profusely all this time.
“Wait!” Luo Yuan suddenly called out.
The people were surprised. Some of them nearly took off, but in the end they all remained still. Fighting back his fear, the old man, turned around and said respectfully, “Young brother, if there’s anything you want, please tell us. As long as we have it, it’s yours. Money, gold, diamonds, food… Resources are not a problem.”
Perhaps these things held great appeal for normal people, but for Luo Yuan, who was about to leave East Lake City, such useless items would only be a burden.
All along the journey, Luo Yuan had not intended to bring much, not even food. If anything, it would not fit into his vehicle. Plus, even though they were in the city, most roads had been closed down, thus most of the things would have to be thrown away.
“I’m not interested in anything like that. Is Wang Hongbiao’s body still here?” Luo Yuan asked.
The changes on Wang Hongbiao’s body had piqued his curiosity.
The old man hesitated for a moment, glancing at the crowd reluctantly. Even if he didn’t speak, one of them would. Finally, he admitted, “Yes, it’s inside the freezer in the laboratory.”
“The laboratory?” Luo Yuan said.
Most of the people living in this affluent district, apart from the few wealthy families, were intelligent elite from Donghu City. Apart from the few famous people sent to work in the government underground base, there were several unknown, highly-paid staff that had stayed on. Some of them were departmental staff involved in innovative experiments.
“Show me,” Luo Yuan said, indifferent to the crowd’s fear.
The laboratory was almost bare. There was very little equipment; most of it just test tubes and chemical agents. Even to an outsider like Luo Yuan, the facility looked poorly equipped.
He understood why. Business trade in Hedong City had long stopped, thus most resources were being heavily regulated. Even the richest citizens couldn’t afford to equip a research facility.
Until Luo Yuan’s arrival a minute ago, there had been no one inside the laboratory.
A frightened researcher dressed in a laboratory coat was dragged in by the crowd.
“Where’s Wang Hongbiao’s body?” someone asked him.
“In… in the freezer. I… I’ll bring it out,” the man stammered as he quickly walked to the freezer.
Luo Yuan noticed that it looked like a mortuary freezer. There were labels with the names of mutated animals and lower-rank insects attached to it. No doubt, they were more easy to catch given these people’s skill level.
The researcher drew open one of the drawers, and pulled out a body wrapped it a plastic bag. He proceeded to open the bag.
The body inside it had visibly been dissected. Its chest cavity was open, and the cranial bone had been removed to reveal the grooves and folds of white and gray brain matter. What caught Luo Yuan’s attention though was its chest, thighs and arms, which were covered in reptile-like scales. The kind of cold scales that made one’s hair stand on end.
Suddenly, he reached out and touched the body, a bunch of information appearing in his mind.
‘Level: Level One Mutant;’
‘Weight: 68 kg;’
“Assessment: His genes were altered by mutated organisms during evolution. He mutated and formed a new gene sequence.”
Sensing Luo Yuan’s curiosity, the researcher cautiously said, “We discovered that his body had undergone a great degree of mutation. The skin had become very tough. Normal scalpels were completely useless. We had to use a saw to dissect him. The pores had also closed up and he had experienced hair loss. His nails had become very hard. Even his visceral organs had been transformed. The intestinal microvilli had become dense and twice as long as a normal person’s. As you can imagine, he digested food very fast. Also, the body had two hearts, a large one and a smaller one. His blood was flowing 1.5 times faster than the average person’s.”
Luo Yuan slowly withdrew his hand. From a different point of view, mutants were no longer considered human beings. Suddenly, he felt grateful that he had not turned into a mutated monster after his evolution.
Luo Yuan looked at him and asked, “What do you study these things for?”
The researcher’s face went stiff and he broke out in cold sweat as he answered, “We are researching the cause of mutation in human beings. We believe that mutation is a form of evolution.”
In the past, this type of experiment might have been considered evil, but in recent times it had become common. In order to ensure the survival of the human race, countless numbers of bloody, inhumane, evil experiments had been conducted in various laboratories. In comparison to those, this was nothing.
Luo Yuan left the laboratory, picked up the sleeping Wang Xiaguang and left.
Life there was comfortable, with sufficient resources, clean drinking water, and stocked provisions that could sustain the one hundred people living there for twenty years. Even he had considered staying, but he had eventually rejected the idea.
Luo Yuan have seen how fast mutated plants could erode the cement. The villa outside might not even last a month before it started to collapse as the cement turned into soil. Although the defense in the base was strong, it still wouldn’t be safe for long. Perhaps in a year, maybe even less than six months, the base would collapse.
Sooner or later, they would have to leave this place, and it would be more dangerous if they left it later rather than now. Plus, after a long period of comfortable living, their Willpower would gradually fade until there was no such thing anymore.
Luo Yuan closed the iron gate and took one last look before he walked away, carrying Wang Xiaguang.
He was cautious on the road, trying to avoid the increasingly stronger mutated beasts. There were several times that he almost initiated a fight, but he was lucky enough to escape. Three hours later, he finally got back to the villa. Huang Jiahui was surprised to see Luo Yuan carrying a woman. Luo Yuan did not wait for her to ask before he said, “This is my former colleague. We will travel together this time.”
Cao Lin and several other people looked at each other without speaking. The atmosphere had suddenly changed.
‘Is this the one you had mentioned?” Huang Jiahui suddenly remembered as she glanced at Wang Xiaguang.
Luo Yuan nodded. “Make some space for her and cook some porridge. She hasn’t eaten anything in days!”
“Alright!” Huang Jiahui answered in agreement before she sighed and turned away.
She had secretly read Luo Yuan’s message. Since the mutation, Luo Yuan had received few messages, most of them sent by her. Huang Jiahui was very clear on how she felt about Luo Yuan. It seemed that she had a rival now, even though Luo Yuan did not seem to be interested in her.
Wang Shishi was pouting. She looked unhappy and uneasy. Her eyes kept circling back to Wang Xiaguang as she waited for Huang Jiahui to clean up a room for her. Watching Luo Yuan carry Wang Xiaguang over to the bed, take off her coat and carefully cover her with a blanket, she finally could not hide her thoughts anymore and blurted, ’Brother Luo, what is she to you?’
“Didn’t I just say that she was my former colleague?” Luo Yuan said without turning around.
Wang Shi Shi pouted as she said bitterly, “That does not mean anything! You definitely seem to like her. Why else would you be so gentle to her? I thought you liked me. How could you also like someone else?”
Luo Yuan’s feelings for Wang Xiaguang were complicated. Having a pretty young woman caring and thinking about you was an indescribable feeling.
Before the apocalypse, when they had been working in the same trading company, Luo Yuan’s good looks, likable temperament and quiet confidence coupled with his diligence had attracted the attention of a lot of young women. Wang Xiaguang had made a good impression on him, and the feeling had been mutual. However, the difference in their family status had made him decide to stay away. He did not want to depend on other people’s fortune for a living.
He had not known that the other party would be so persistent, and given the current circumstances, he did not know what to do about the situation.
He looked troubled as he said, “Careful, don’t let Jiahui hear that.’
Wang Shishi opened her mouth, but nothing came out. After a short silence, she said in a quiet voice, ‘Let her hear, I’m not scared.’