Chapter 5: Sigh
Mo Chu’s movements paused, and she held her breath.
Outside the door, there came a series of faint scraping sounds, as if something sharp was continuously scratching against the door, producing a subtle and dense noise.
Mo Chu was very familiar with that sound; it was the unique noise made by the sharp claws of zombies when they scratched against something sharp.
There was a zombie outside the door.
However, that zombie might not have noticed that there were people inside the warehouse. If it had sensed someone inside, its response would be to attack the warehouse door, rather than just using its claws to scratch it.
It was likely making those sounds unintentionally, but Mo Chu couldn’t let it continue like this.
In the dead of the night, even the slightest sound could attract the ravenous and highly active zombies that emerged in the early days of the apocalypse. This lone zombie outside could potentially call forth an entire horde of them. Once a zombie horde gathered, they would not leave on their own without any other stimuli.
At that point, both Mo Chu, a 1st-Level Healing type, and Li Chen with a still unknown condition would be trapped inside the warehouse.
She wouldn’t be able to leave even if she wanted to.
Facing a single zombie versus facing a horde of zombies, Mo Chu naturally chose the former.
Mo Chu took another look at Li Chen, and then silently picked up the dagger she had placed on the ground. She also grabbed the remaining rope that had been used to tie Li Chen, securing one end around her waist.
Climbing up a wall where a foldable ladder was placed, she opened a small window at the top of the warehouse, just enough for one person to crawl through, and tied the other end of the rope to the window frame.
The noise she made already caught the attention of the zombie outside, but Mo Chu didn’t give it a chance to howl and attract more zombies. She leaped from the window, more than two meters above the ground, and used her knee to press against the zombie’s neck. Then, with a swift motion, she stabbed the zombie’s brain with her dagger.
As the dagger touched something hard, Mo Chu’s wrist moved, picking out a crystal-clear crystal nucleus from the zombie’s brain.
Her luck was not bad this time.
Mo Chu collected the crystal nucleus and stood up from the zombie’s body, but she staggered slightly.
Her knee was in pain.
She lifted her trouser leg and noticed that the knee she had used to press down on the zombie was now bright red. The impact force from top to bottom was too great, and it seemed like it might swell.
Mo Chu couldn’t help but smile wryly.
After returning from the sixth year of the apocalypse, she had gotten used to the physical fitness and strength of a 6th Level Awakener. Although her combat skills were still there, she inevitably struggled with adjusting her strength.
If she used her 6th Level of physical fitness to press down on a 1st Level zombie, she could easily break the zombie’s neck. However, using 1st Level physical fitness to press down on a 1st Level zombie resulted in her own knee swelling while also having to give the zombie another strike.
Mo Chu let go of her trousers and patted her leg before climbing back up the rope and closing the window.
During the short time she was outside, Li Chen’s condition worsened again.
His face took on a bluish hue, nearly resembling the skin color of the zombies during the apocalypse. Mo Chu noticed keenly that his nails had grown longer, and the normally pinkish color had turned a grayish shade, becoming more and more similar to zombie’s nails.
Mo Chu instinctively began to use her healing ability.
A small blue light gathered in her palm, and as she pressed her hand against Li Chen’s body, it dissipated like a drop in the ocean, causing no response whatsoever.
Mo Chu finally realized that she was no longer the “Doctor Mo” who could easily save people with her abilities.
She put her hand down and reassured herself that even in her previous life, Li Chen managed to survive in isolated and desperate situations. The trials he had faced must have been more terrifying than what she was witnessing now. Therefore, he would surely be able to survive.
She closed her eyes and took out the two crystal nuclei she had with her, examining them closely.
Absorbing zombie crystal nuclei was the key to advancing one’s power.
In her previous life, there was a theory that stated both Awakeners and zombies were infected beings. The only difference was that zombies were defeated by the virus before death, while Awakeners, after being infected, defeated the virus. Zombies advanced by devouring flesh and even their own kind, while Awakeners advanced by absorbing crystal nuclei. Essentially, there was not much difference between the two.
Regardless of the accuracy of this theory, absorbing crystal nuclei was indeed the only way for Awakeners to advance.
During the initial days of the apocalypse, advancing from the first to the second order was relatively easy. Four to six 1st Level crystal nuclei would allow an Awakener’s energy to reach a critical threshold.
Experienced Awakeners during the early days of the apocalypse found it easy, but for those who had not yet developed a combat mindset and reacted to 1st Level zombies by running away, it was not easy at all.
Furthermore, not every 1st Level zombie had a crystal nucleus, and there was a risk of re-infection while absorbing a nucleus.
In her previous life, it took Mo Chu,, half a year after the apocalypse to obtain her first crystal nucleus.
In this life, she could do it much earlier. With the experience of six additional years, she could seize every opportunity to advance to the 3rd level as quickly as possible and break the vicious cycle of her previous life.
Even if she was “not a combat type,” she could become a warrior.
Mo Chu’s determination solidified as she raised her hand and absorbed one of the crystal nuclei.
Cold energy flowed into her body from her palm, chilling her entire bloodstream, causing frost to form on her palm.
A strange sensation surged inside her body. On one hand, she felt the increase in strength, but on the other, she also felt something unsettling. It was as if something within her was brewing an awakening. When she indulged in the power, it would break through its restraints and take over her body, consuming her soul.
This feeling was familiar to Mo Chu, but it was foreign to this body.
Mo Chu tried to pull herself back to reality, but the power from the crystal core was like an enticing abyss, constantly telling her that jumping in would grant her endless strength.
“Jump in! Jump in!”
However, Mo Chu knew that jumping in would mean eternal damnation.
With great effort, she managed to pull herself out of the power obsession. When she opened her eyes, her body was icy cold, but she was drenched in sweat. She glanced at the clock in the warehouse, realizing that what felt like a few seconds of struggle in her mind had actually been half an hour in reality.
In her previous life, Mo Chu had reached the sixth level and was familiar with the process of absorbing crystal cores. Yet, even this time, she had almost succ*mbed to it.
The first time she absorbed a crystal core in her previous life was out of desperation. After absorbing it, she had lost consciousness. She didn’t even know how she managed to survive.
It was truly terrifying.
Taking a deep breath, she put away the other crystal core.
Today, she had reached the limit of absorbing one crystal core with this body. If she absorbed another one, she was afraid that even before Li Chen recovered, she would turn into another zombie.
Mo Chu sat beside Li Chen and waited until dawn, resting only briefly during that time.
As the sun rose, Li Chen’s fever still hadn’t subsided.
This had already exceeded the time it would take for a normal person to awaken their ability after being infected. Regular supernatural beings would burn with a fever for one night at most. Afterward, they would either awaken their abilities or turn into zombies.
However, Li Chen’s condition kept fluctuating. The eerie characteristics, reminiscent of zombies, flickered on him, momentarily vanishing, only to reemerge once again.
Mo Chu could almost see Li Chen struggling on the edge of the abyss from his constantly changing state.
After daybreak, Mo Chu carefully raised Li Chen’s head and gently made him drink the remaining half bottle of water she found in the warehouse.
Due to the pain, Li Chen’s teeth clenched tightly, but he seemed to be suppressing it. Even though he was in agony, he made no sound, as if he was unconsciously avoiding attracting zombies.
Initially, Mo Chu couldn’t get the water into his mouth because of how tightly he clenched his teeth, but when he tasted the water with his lips, he consciously opened his mouth.
Mo Chu felt somewhat relieved. As long as he had the will to survive, it was enough. She dreaded the thought of being with someone who had lost all hope.
However, their supplies were almost depleted. They had left Chu Ming’s car without taking any provisions, and apart from a small amount of snack food in the warehouse, there was only half a bottle of water left, which she had given to Li Chen. If he didn’t recover today, staying here would mean both of them running out of resources.
Mo Chu contemplated for a couple of minutes, then covered Li Chen from head to toe with a thin blanket lying nearby. She picked up the knife from the floor and prepared to go out to find supplies.
She couldn’t leave Li Chen alone here, but just staying would risk them both dying of thirst and hunger before he recovered.
She had to come back as quickly as possible, as delaying could lead to unforeseen changes.
However, as she turned around, a hand suddenly grabbed her wrist tightly from behind.
Startled, Mo Chu turned back, thinking that Li Chen had woken up. She asked eagerly, “Li Chen?”
But Li Chen showed no response. Even when she pulled down the blanket covering his face, he continued to frown, showing no reaction to the outside world.
Mo Chu tried to free her wrist from his grasp, but Li Chen responded with strong resistance, using whatever strength he had left to tightly hold onto her wrist.
She looked at his hand holding onto her wrist, feeling perplexed and puzzled.
After a moment, she suddenly remembered something and hesitated. Gently, she covered Li Chen’s hand with her other hand and softly said, “Li Chen, I’m going out to find food. I’ll be back soon.”
She sensed that Li Chen’s grip on her wrist loosened a bit, and the previous stubborn force was gone.
Mo Chu hesitated for a moment, then whispered, “I won’t abandon you.” Her voice was low, but it carried unwavering determination.
After she said those words, she noticed that Li Chen’s grip on her wrist gradually relaxed.
Mo Chu didn’t move, she lowered her head and looked at Li Chen, her eyes filled with a complexity she didn’t even realize was there. Then, she let out a slow, deep sigh.