Plague Doctor - Chapter 434
Was it the quarantine circle or life circle? Elder Tong couldn’t help the niggling sensation. It was like after a moment’s reprieve, some minor yet important detail was different. Looking around, the command central was busy as ever, but… Elder Tong’s eyes landed on a water cup next to him. He remembered finishing the water but now the cup was full. ‘What is this life circle project?’ Elder Tong turned to one of the screens. He saw trucks and carts carrying plants like trees and flowers as well as livestock like cows and sheep towards the border of the mutated area. Some of the plants were being planted into the ground, others were abandoned just like that; the animals were chased into the hurriedly built pens.
‘Wait a minute… I’m not drunk, am I…?’ Elder Tong scratched his head. How come he remembered a different version of this? Quarantine circle was to manually destroy all the plants around the border of the mutated area to deplete the sources of life being accessible to the mutated area to stop its expansion. At the time, two proposals were given to him and Elder Tong remembered he chose the quarantine circle proposal.
The hypothesis of intersection between two dimensions appeared after they spotted the multi-colored cat. The quarantine circle was already in effect then. It did help to slow down the expansion speed of the mutated area, it proved useful… Or did it?
Before the appearance of the multi-colored cat, Elder Tong already proposed the hypothesis of ‘multiworld overlapping’ based on his own analysis. It was because of this that Elder Tong came up with the following hypothesis which was the Competing Reality Hypothesis. If the two worlds were overlapping, two realities would compete. Which one would remain as the ‘real’ reality and which would disappear?
Of course, reality A at world B could trade places with reality B at world A. But why was the mutated area looking like this? Why was the wasteland land invading into Earth and not Earth which invaded into the wasteland world? Initially the mutated area was only 300 cubic metres, its discovery was due to Tian Fuhou who reported the disappearance of his planted trees. The trees within the area disappeared one after another and the mutated area took on the shape of the Wasteland Land. The scale continued to tip and the reality from the Wasteland World won out. That led to the first explosion and expansion of the mutated area. The appearance of the locust made the mutated area even more barren; the sacrifice of the insects and birds lowered the life force and the world was slowly being made into a wasteland…
Due to the competing reality hypothesis, after the first explosion, while the mutated area was still limited to Elder Tian’s tree farm, Elder Tong had various departments start the life circle project, which employed a large amount of plants and animals to surround the mutated area. This was the competition of two realities. The closer the mutated area mirrored a particular world, the reality of that world would have the bigger chance to be the ‘real’ reality. Therefore, they had to figure out a way to chase away the aura of death, and darkness. To do that, they constructed a life circle, a living zone, in essence, an antibiotic to counter the virus that was the wasteland reality. But now with the appearance of the locust swarm and the Flying Locust, the wasteland reality was winning. The second explosion occurred and the mutated area grew to about 3 cubic km.
‘Wait, what…’ Elder Tong’s brain numbed. It was like he was suffering from a hangover. Facts were remembered wrongly and things were forgotten but he had not had a drop of alcohol… ‘The second explosion? Wasn’t it the fifth already?’
During the fifth explosion, the mutated area grew to 350 cubic km and the whole Ma Er Wan was lost. 627 members died because they did not have the time to retreat…
During the second explosion, the mutated area grew to 3 cubic km, it covered Tian Fuhou’s tree farm and nearby lands. Temporarily there was no life lost…
“What is going on?” Elder Tong checked the screens in confusion. The One sent 3 members into the mutated area, Deng Ximei discovered the poster and saw the illusion. Wu Siyu painted the watercolor and lost her soul. The multi-colored cat and the locust swarm appeared. However, no birds and insects flew into the swarm to sacrifice themselves. The situation at the mutated area was still under control. The evacuation at Mo Bei was going smoothly because it began much earlier.
On the desert wasteland’s side, things appeared similar to what Elder Tong believed happened. Headmaster Chui exploded, the staff and students were infected, the clinical experiments were done, Wang Ruoxiang gave her hypothesis, the locust radiation was discovered. 163 people, including Yu Xiaoyong died. Peacock showed signs of infection. The Flying Locust appeared, the city sunk into chaos and the dare to die units were sent in…
The memory loss and changes appeared only to apply to the mutated radiation area. It was his choice of life circle over quarantine circle that caused this series of changes…
‘But… Multi-world overlapping hypothesis, competing reality hypothesis, life circle project… Did I really come up with all of them?’ Elder Tong was confused.
“Guotong, should we use the life circle at the desert wasteland too?” Yao Sinian asked, “If the wasteland is competing for reality with our world, then the life circle should be usable there too…”
“Ol’ Yao, don’t you feel that something is wrong? We were sitting here earlier but things were not like this.” Hearing that, Yao Sinian frowned. The suspicion in his heart grew. “I thought it was just me. Some details did seem different to me.”
“Investigate it immediately!” With the order from Elder Tong, an investigation was conducted immediately. A questionnaire was posed to everyone at the command central. Soon the result came. 65 percent felt there was a discrepancy in their memory, 24 percent was uncertain, 11 percent felt nothing was wrong. This… something strange was happening…
For the One and Spell Department members like Wang Ruoxiang, or people with high spirituality, 86 percent of them felt something had shifted. Some of them even gave the term quarantine circle when asked.
“I remember I have absorbed around 500mSv dosage of radiation.” Deng Ximei said, “But now I am told it was only 200 mSv.”
“Didn’t many die at the frontline?” Lou Xiaoning grumbled in confusion, “I remember being angry about it.”
“Something’s wrong!” Uncle Dan groaned, “Am I suffering from Alzheimer’s?”
Elder Tong tried to think back to when these thoughts appeared in his mind. He tried to dig in his memory but realized there was an empty space. It was like there was a moment in time where he was unconscious and his memory was tempered with. The more he tried to understand it, the more confused he became. It was as if there was a moment when his body was taken over by another version of himself. These hypotheses and thoughts were provided by an intruder. This thought made Elder Tong fearful and agitated. A force from a higher dimension had reached into the past to change some minor points, specifically some tactical decisions made by him, Elder Tong. These small changes caused a big difference in the present. But it was a better present…
Who was it? How did it accomplish this? Was it a friend or a foe? If it was a friend, why not lend a greater help by changing the situation at the desert wasteland as well? Was it not possible or was there another reason?
Elder Tong stared at the big screen and his mind was muddled. He picked up the cup of water and gulped it down. In any case, he needed to make a decision now, how was he going to handle this change? No matter the choice he made, there was a risk involved. In the end, Elder Tong decided to follow his instinct. The invasion of body or mind felt weird but it felt as weird as when he used the Ancient Seal, they probably came from the same source.
“Initiate the life circle project at the desert wasteland as well!” Elder Tong ordered and told Yao Sinian as well as the related members at the field. “Pick up the speed! Call the dare to die units to retreat now. Instead send in the infected patients to the frontline to try out the soil. Control their amount of ingestion but use them to delineate the border. Set up snipers around the border. Shoot down any Flying Locust member that you encounter. Aim for the head! Do not let any of them past the border!
“We need more trees and more life to turn the wasteland into a forest, to turn the desert into oasis. Other than the life circle, we need to continue killing those locusts. We need to counter the reality invasion. The closer these mutated areas surge with life, the stronger our world’s reality will be able to assert itself!”
With Elder Tong’s inspiring words, all units launched into action. The national military sent in reinforcement. Even though the locust swarm was endless, so did the military firepower. The situation was not positive but the war was not yet over. They had not lost, they needed to win.
Elder Tong knew something there was something bigger at work. For now, they needed to fight for time. They needed to narrow down the two mutated areas and prevent them from expanding. That was most helpful to win the war. They were not the only parties in this war, there were unknown forces fighting at a higher dimension.