High Energy QR Code

Chapter 91: Incubation Period

Xing Ye's room didn't have wifi, but that didn't stop Yan Hebi's "Keyboard King" ability. He cracked the neighbouring doctor office's wifi and did all sorts of weird tech things the others didn't understand to remotely install a trojan virus into the department head's, Director Wang's, and the infectious disease department's computers.

Yan Hebi's flew across the keyboard, yet he still had the time to chat, "To be honest, my own hacking skills aren't that good. All I can do is operate computers remotely. The 'Keyboard King' ability the system gave me is really strong- now I'm basically unrivalled on the web. It's just too bad it's completely useless in worlds without computers."

After around half an hour, Yan Hebi finally the Infectious Disease Department's security footage encrypted in cloud.

The four watched the footage from last night. There was no camera in the washroom, so they could only see Guan Ling run inside, with the monster chasing behind him. Two minutes later, Xing Ye and the others went upstairs. Yan Hebi tapped something on his phone. Earlier, he had used "Maze of Doom", causing a labyrinth to appear in the hallway. In the video, nothing was visible.

In the video feed, they were running around the hall and spraying perfume everywhere like they were crazy. The parasitic monster looked even more stupid, spinning in the hall in circles.

Xing Ye said, "It looks like QR code abilities are considered supernatural, so the camera can't capture it. That's good- it means enemies and other players can't use the video feed to learn about our abilities."

In the video feed, they had already escaped down the stairwell. The parasitic monster continued to go in circles in the hall before suddenly rolling, seeming to be in great pain. The video feed had no sound, but the monster's mouth was wide open as if it was screaming.

The giant pustules all over its body burst one after another, the yellow ooze dripping from its body to the floor. Its wounds healed very quickly. For three hours, its body was destroying and healing itself. At six am, its skin finally fell off completely and returned to a normal human's skin.

It was the measles patient. He seemed to have forgotten everything and just stood up like nothing happened.

At that moment, a nurse walked out of a ward and handed a hospital gown to the measles patient. He put it on and helped the nurse clean the yellow ooze off the floor.

Yan Hebi had put the video on 32x speed. The feed was several hours, but it only took them 5-6 minutes to finish watching it. By the end of it, a few of them already had goosebumps.

Xing Ye sat in front of the computer and pondered.

"Little Yiyi, do you want me to replay it?" Yan Hebi asked.

"No," Xing Ye shook his head, "I've memorized it. Just let me think."

He leaned back against his chair and closed his eyes, his finger tapping absently on the table as he tried to connect all the clues they'd collected.

Yan Hebi watched Xing Ye's face. His eyes were gently closed, lashes drooping in slight fatigue. He couldn't help but lean towards Xing Ye, getting closer and closer...

Cao Qian grabbed Yan Hebi and tugged him aside. She stood in front of Xing Ye blankly, acting as his guard.

Yan Hebi rubbed his face, embarrassed. He shuffled over to Guan Ling and whispered, "You've been in a team with a girl as beautiful as Yiyi for so long. Don't you ever feel anything?"

Guan Ling looked at him, "I have a wife, and besides... how do I say it, Boss... Xing Ye really is a beautiful girl, but she's an opposing fate player. It's rare that she can keep her beauty. The last world we were in was Puppet City, how can you appreciate beauty when everyone's a puppet?"

Guan Ling didn't want to tell Yan Hebi Xing Ye's true gender until the world was over. With how useful Yan Hebi's abilities were, it'd be a tragedy to lose him as a teammate.

At this moment, Xing Ye opened his eyes, "I'll tell you guys what I think so far, but it's not certain. I don't think the parasitic monster was actually attacking Guan Ling last night. It was in pain and wanted the doctor to help it. In the video, after three hours, the parasitic monster transformed back into a human appearance, but it was no longer human anymore. That's the real human face, beast's heart."

Guan Ling felt bad, "Then if I did something, would I have been able to save him?"

"Not necessarily," Xing Ye shook his head, "Your ability only works on players. The measles patient might not actually be a player, we just guessed that he was. Plus, if the world was really so simple that we could just use our initial skills to restrain the parasite, there wouldn't be so many opposing fate players."

Cao Qian asked, "What's wrong with having a lot of opposing fate players?"

Xing Ye said, "I believe that if Guan Ling wasn't in our team, the person in his place should be an opposing fate player too. Look at how unlucky we are. It's only natural that the more opposing fate players there are, the harder the world is."

Yan Hebi nodded, "I agree. In my previous worlds, the more following fate players there were, the easier it'd be for me to get the true ending."

"Boss, isn't it already pretty difficult with you losing your memory every day?" Guan Ling asked.

Xing Ye said, "My memory loss only makes it more difficult for me, it's not related to the world. I'll start with the points of difficulty in this world.

"First, the prompt the system gave us was misleading. Our mission is to find an existence with a human face and beast's heart and survive to win, but the existence of the parasitic monsters deliberately misleads us to think they're our mission targets. It's only thanks to the monitoring cameras that we know the parasitic monsters are victims as well and there are likely humans behind all of this.

"Second, the plot background said there are two parasites draped in human skin in the hospital and the number will grow by one every passing day. With that, it's only natural to assume the number of parasites will grow in a linear fashion, going from two the second night, three the third, and so on. However, there's another way of viewing it that's easy to miss. Two mature parasites can have one offspring. That would mean that on the number of parasites increases by one the first night, one the second night, and two on the third night.

"Third, players in this world can be parasitized. Our mission isn't just to find an existence with a human face and beast's heart, it's also to survive. But, what counts as surviving? Do you have to stay human? Does being a parasitic monster count as surviving?

"Fourth, all of our actions were captured on the surveillance cameras. Why did they let us continue running around the hospital instead of restraining us?

"Fifth, there's one thing I've been overlooking this whole time. Seeing that video just now reminded me- why did we assume being parasitized is instant? Or in other words, why did we believe that if somebody's infected, they'll turn into a monster that very same night? Does this parasite have an incubation period? Is it possible that we're all already infected?"

"How would we be infected?" The more Guan Ling listened to Xing Ye's analysis, the more frightened he felt.

Xing Ye said, "Don't panic yet. I was just thinking about the measles patient's medical record. In the nurse's room, it said in his records that he took five doses of fever-relieving drugs. He started taking them five days ago. On the day he was found passed out in the ER, he still took a dose of the medication."

Guan Ling raised his hand, "I prescribed that medication. His fever was very strong and the nurse was asking me for directions, so I prescribed him that following his previous prescription."  

Xing Ye said, "Yes, his previous prescription. I always thought that he was infected after eating a fake fever-relieving pill, so the last fever medication he took should've been the source of the parasite. But looking at it now, that doesn't seem right. When he passed out in the ER room, he was obviously already infected, but the nurse still gave him another dosage of fever-relieving medicine.

"This means that mediciations won't stop even after infection. In other words, in the worst case scenerio, the first fever relieving pill he ate after entering the hospital was the source of the parasite."

"But he was admitted into the hospital five days ago, earlier than all of us." Yan Hebi realized the gravity of the situation, "We only entered this world two days ago!"

Xing Ye nodded, "That's right, that's why I think we're all already infected. The reason why we haven't become parasitic monsters yet is because of the incubation period. At first, I thought the incubation period was fixed. If we take the measles patient as an example, it took four days for him to become a monster. But then, I remembered the hospital director telling the nurses in the infectious disease department to spread measles, chickenpox, mumps, and other infectious diseases throughout the hospital. Could that mean patients with those sorts of diseases have a lower incubation period due to their lower immunity?

"According to the hospital records, Yan Hebi was admitted four days ago, Cao Qian three days, and myself, two days ago. However, the cancer patient's already been in the hopsital for 17 days while Guan Ling and the following fate players have always been working in the hospital. Despite that, why was the measles patient the first one infected?

"There's only one answer: with his immune system under attack, the parasite's incubation period shortened."

"Could we really be infected?" Yan Hebi rolled up his sleeves, checking his arms in fear a pustule would suddenly start growing out of him.

Xing Ye said, "The three following fate players in the gynecology department really got lucky. The antibodies they received were likely real. I doubt they were supposed to have the antibodies, but because two of the following fate players were pregnant and the male following fate player is involved with one of them, the hospital probably wanted to use their baby to do something and gave them the antibodies.

"Assuming they drink the antibodies, if they find a parasitic monster, wouldn't it fulfil the criteria of an existence with a human face and beast's heart? They have the antibody and can't be infected so after everyone else is infected, they probably would've gotten the surface ending, just like that."

"Nevermind that..." Guan Ling pointed at himself and said, "There's four following fate players, so why was I the only one not selected?"

"I think you were selected," Xing Ye said, "You encountered that monster last night. If we hadn't showed up, you probably would've been saved by the nurse who cleaned the hallway with the monster in the video. She would've given you the antibodies then. But we found you and brought you away, so you ended up missing the chance to get it."

Guan Ling: "..."

Cao Qian pondered, "If the hospital staff saw us last night, then why didn't they stop us instead of letting us run around the hospital buildings?"

Xing Ye thought before replying, "They probably see us as a turtle in a jar- easy targets they can catch whenever. It's not like we can leave the hospital.

"By the time we are able to leave the hospital, we'll have likely already become one of them."

Xing Ye pointed at the computer screen, frozen at the measles patient who had already become a monster.

"If a group of people like that leaves the hospital, it'll be a disaster."

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