In the small kitchen behind them, Zu Wen and the others were very interested in all the Old Era cooking utensils. At this age, most of them had played a Fiery Bird game before, but this was the first time they had entered a game on its release date.
After they'd come of age, they had been able to formally log into the game, but by then, there had been lots of strategy guides, and basically all they'd done was play according to others' past experiences. It was not particularly stimulating, but now they could only fumble around themselves. This sort of experience was a novelty for people who liked games. Even if they had previously played other games based on the Period of Destruction, none of those could compare with this Fiery Bird version with its attention to detail.
Zu Wen found an egg after rummaging through the kitchen. Because the Old Era's microwave was very intriguing, he placed the egg in to play around with it.
"Is there electricity?"
"What else do you have to set up? Why isn't it automated? How troublesome."
"Hmm, I should just randomly pick one."
"This one... Whoa! the machine is starting to revolve!"
Zu Wen and the others surrounded the front of the microwave, their heads all gathered together as they watched the egg spinning around inside, as if it was a rare sight.
Zhang Yu and Fu Yingtian, who were in charge of standing guard could not contain their curiosity and looked over.
"Doesn't seem like there are any changes."
The words had just left the lips when there was a "BANG," scaring the few of them into taking a step back.
"Why did this egg explode when placed inside? Was it from incorrect usage? Song Miao, don't tell me I used it wrongly?"
Song Miao did not understand either. "Perhaps. I have never used such an appliance either."
Zu Wen had even gotten addicted to playing with it. "Let's look for other stuff to test it out!"
"Look around and see if there is anything else."
"Eh, there are fish here!"
Outside, Fang Zhao, who was sitting on a box in the warehouse, let out a deep sigh. He felt like hitting someone.
Zuo Yu who was guarding Fang Zhao diligently, also could not help but cast a few curious glances over. He was also very curious toward the things from the Old Era. Other than the game letting everyone experience the background of the Period of Destruction, it also satiated the curiosity everyone had of the Old Era.
Therefore, now that Zuo Yu heard the activity over that side, there was a slight itch in his heart.
"Arghh!" A loud shout broke the cheerful atmosphere in the kitchen.
"F*ck me! Your father got bitten by a fish!" Zu Wen shouted.
A series of banging sounds were heard from the back of the kitchen.
"Enough, Pang Pusong, it's no longer moving."
"Did you get any experience points?"
"I gained 0.5 points."
The others felt a little sorry when they heard this. "Only 0.5 points?"
"I'm finished," Zu Wen wailed.
The few of them once again came in front of Fang Zhao. The one making the decisions in the team was still Fang Zhao. If anything happened, they made sure to inform him first.
Rodney briefly explained what had happened to Fang Zhao.
It turned out that, as Zu Wen had been searching for something else to play with, he'd seen a bucket in the corner that was covered. Expecting something inside, he had warily removed the lid and found the bucket filled with water, with two palm-sized fish inside. One was floating upside down, not moving at all—evidently, it was dead. The other was swimming about feebly. Just at the moment when Zu Wen let his guard down, the fish that originally looked weak suddenly leaped out of the bucket and bit Zu Wen. It happened so quickly that Zu Wen couldn't avoid it and got a little cut on his hand.
The fish that had leapt out was flopping around on the floor. Pang Pusong had taken an iron rod behind the kitchen door and bludgeoned that fish to death, receiving 0.5 experience points. As for Zu Wen, who had received the cut, he realized that on his status was displayed "infected." He wanted to cry immediately but was unable to do so.
As time passed, his "infected" value would keep increasing. When it reached a certain critical point, he would lose control of himself and, just like those infected organisms, would attack his own teammates.
"You guys don't have to worry. I will settle this myself!" Zu Wen expertly tooked out his gun and pointed it at his own head. "Comrades! Wait for me. In half an hour's time, I will surely bring back some strategies, believe me!"
Zu Wen was regretful. He had been too careless just now. He had never expected this to be more treacherous and cunning than all the games he had ever played. A bite from an unremarkable fish could actually force him to disconnect, that was so humiliating!
A gunshot rang out.
Zu Wen disappeared from his spot.
Fang Zhao closed his eyes and did not say anything. Seeing Fang Zhao not looking so good, the others did not utter a single word.
"You guys..." Fang Zhao opened his eyes.
"Boss, what are your orders?" The few of them were more well-behaved now. They realized that the few of them had been too foolish a while ago and had probably made their boss unhappy.
"Log off and wait," Fang Zhao said.
"..." The few of them looked over at Fang Zhao, trying to determine whether he was joking.
"Log off and cool your heads for half an hour before coming back."
This was to let them go offline and reflect, just like facing the wall after doing something wrong.
As a few members exchanged glances, Rodney hesitantly asked Fang Zhao, "Boss, when we are gone, what will happen to you?"
"Zuo Yu is here."
Since Fang Zhao had already given them instructions, it was best to obediently head offline and not anger their boss any further, in case he deducted their wages. After all, Fang Zhao only wanted them to disconnect and reflect on their actions. In half an hour, they could log back in with Zu Wen, perhaps even with the latest strategies to share with everyone.
"Pang Pusong," Fang Zhao called out, "pass me the iron rod."
"... Oh, sure!" Pang Pusong respectfully handed over the iron rod and compliantly disconnected. He had always listened to Fang Zhao.
After the others had also disconnected, only Fang Zhao and Zuo Yu were left in the warehouse.
Zuo Yu thought for a bit and felt he needed to say something. "We are not a professional team, after all, and are just having fun. The others are just too curious; you don't have to be frustrated over such small matters."
As Fang Zhao did not seem to want to chat, Zuo Yu did not continue. He just did not understand why Fang Zhao still continued sitting there, not going off to look for food or other stuff?
Suddenly, Zuo Yu's expression changed and he faced a certain direction. He could hear the sounds of gunshots, and there were continuously firing. The sounds did not seem close, but they did not seem especially far either. Most likely, some players in the vicinity had run into a situation.
Had something come along?
He tilted his head, intending to advise Fang Zhao to find a place to hide, but he saw that Fang Zhao's hand that was gripping the iron rod was trembling.
Is this fear? Zuo Yu snickered mentally. Fang Zhao was only 20-plus, and his gaming history was also lesser than most. He had acted so impressively a while ago, but now he exposed his true nature? Actually admitting he was afraid was no big deal; it would not displace his position as the department's boss. Such determination to save his own face!
Could it be that Fang Zhao had known he would be frightened and thus took advantage of Zu Wen's situation to get rid of the others and try and adapt by himself?
The more Zuo Yu pondered, the more he felt this was the case.
But some words just had to be said.
"Boss, I hear footsteps approaching and some roaring. It's not just one, and it's not human. It might be a savage beast. Do you want to head to the kitchen and hide?
"Don't worry boss, I'm here. Later on, you just have to stay behind my back. If the situation doesn't look too good, you disconnect first."
Zuo Yu did not hear Fang Zhao's answer, but he did not continue asking. He attentively watched the warehouse's steel door.
With his back to Fang Zhao, Zuo Yu didn't see that, as the footsteps and roars got closer, Fang Zhao's hand that was gripping the iron rod trembled less and less. At the moment when the footsteps stopped outside the steel door, his trembling ceased.
Fang Zhao could hear own heartbeats as though they were drumbeats, and he could hear his blood flowing as if it was a surging river. He was not afraid. Rather, he was fired up.
Perhaps the functions of the 10th gen console were really too good. Even the imitated smells were 70% real.
Everytime he took a breath, he could smell the foul air reeking of blood. It was as if that period from long ago in his memory had all lumped together. All the feelings and sentiments he had suppressed since his rebirth seemed like they had found an exit and were about to erupt.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
The figures that had appeared in front of the steel door roared and smashed into the door forcefully. The iron chain that kept the steel door locked kept creaking.
Figures glistening with fresh blood on their bodies could be seen through the slit in the door. Their deep-red eyeballs peeked through the gap at the two men in the warehouse as putrid and thick saliva dripped from the tip of their teeth.
During the beginning of the Period of Destruction, due to the sudden disaster, many species, including humans, had experienced mutations. Regardless of whether they were flying or lived in the water, not a single one had been spared.
The mutations had caused them to lose rationality and had warped their temperaments. Some had gradually died out from the mutations, while others had transformed or evolved from their base state, becoming destructive and stronger savage beasts. These beasts only lived for blood and slaughter and had an intense desire to attack humans or other organisms.
Many organisms that had not mutated experienced massacres. The number of species that became extinct during the Period of Destruction was uncountable. Bones or a hard-to-come-back specimen of an Old Era creature that had managed to survive would be treated as a valuable artifact and be hoarded. Although many species had been resurrected due to genetics technology, specimens from the Old Era had a very high value that would never drop. This was how people in the New Era felt about the Old Era.
Aside from this, specimens from the Period of Destruction were also considered valuable pieces of art. Fang Zhao remembered seeing an auction at the start of the year where a specimen of a creature that had arisen from the initial stages of the Period of Destruction had been sold to the highest bidder, a collector from Muzhou, for $20 million.
That specimen had been from the initial stages of the Period of Destruction. It had mutated from a dog species and had a bright colored coat. Back then, in order to study the parasitic disease that mutated creatures, they had created a specimen. Following the chaos of war, it had been moved from placed to place until the Period of Destruction ended and the New Era was founded. The specimen that was lucky to survive a hundred years preserved in liquid was specially made into a dried-out sample, and shortly after, it was sold off at the auction.
Many people in Yanzhou knew about this. These sorts of specimens always created a buzz on the internet for a period of time. Nobody was interested in the scientific name given by historians but instead remembered the nickname given by netizens—Twenty Million.
Unfortunately, the present that Fiery Bird was going to give everyone was just this.
At this moment, on the first day they logged in, all players would experience being hunted by a colony of Twenty Millions.