Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The first air pirate ship to appear was already within range of the Wellington’s guns. Even though Duan FeiZhou had covered his ears in time, the deafening sound was so loud that it made his ears hurt.
The gun batteries on the flanks of the airship fired grenades in turn, and the shells flew towards the pirate airship trailing smoke.
The hull burst into a blinding fire.
“Second round of flak!” Colonel Freeman ordered.
At the same time, two other pirate airships approached the Wellington, and fired dozens of small grenades. The Wellington’s sturdy hull was strong enough to withstand the shells, but the impact still made the entire airship shake violently.
Simon grabbed the armrest of Colonel Freeman’s seat to stabilize himself, while Duan FeiZhou collided with Z in his stumble. Z subconsciously wrapped his body around him.
When the shaking stopped, Duan FeiZhou looked up and met Z’s crimson eyes. Both men looked away at the same time, and pushed each other away.
The first pirate ship that rushed towards the Wellington billowed with thick black smoke, the engine parts flashed with fire, and the whole ship fell into the sea of clouds.
The other two pirate airships, when they saw the situation, covered each other as they retreated slowly. Their tonnage was much smaller than the Wellington’s, and although their engines weren’t as powerful as the Wellington’s, they were quick and nimble. In a flash they were out of the Wellington’s range.
“Colonel, should we pursue?” The chief gunner’s voice sounded through the speaking tube.
Colonel Freeman thought for a moment. “No, let them go. Our goal is the North Pole. We can’t waste time on other things.”
The colonel said into another speaking tube, “Check the ship over. Report hull damage and casualties.”
He gave several orders skillfully. Soon, order was restored to the bridge as if the air pirates had never attacked.
Only then did the colonel turn his attention to the three passengers.
“You gentlemen aren’t hurt, are you?”
The three men shook their heads.
“That’s good. The three of you are valuable guests. If anything happens to you, I won’t be able to explain it to the top brass.”
Duan FeiZhou braced himself and asked, “Is it appropriate to let those air pirates go? Will they come back to harass us?”
“I’m afraid that those two boats are decoys.” Colonel Freeman’s eyes darkened. “To try and take the Wellington with two or three small boats, even the most idiotic air pirate would know that is a fool’s dream. I’m afraid the reason they are so desperate isn’t because of robbery.”
“They want to gain information about the Wellington?” Duan FeiZhou asked.
The Wellington was the newest British airship, with world class engines. The European countries were probably eager to get first-hand information about the Wellington. The best way to find out was to send a few small ships to test the capabilities of the Wellington by pretending to be air pirates, and engaging her in a firefight.
Which country sent the three air pirate ships? Any country could have. Although it was still twenty years until World War I would break out, the seeds of war had been planted decades before. European countries had long been testing each other, and the sparks from conflicts rubbed off and gradually accumulated before they finally formed a grand explosion.
The responses from the various departments of the airship came to the bridge one by one. The ship’s shell was slightly damaged, but it hadn’t affected navigation. There were no casualties among the ship’s personnel, only one person who suffered a sudden acute illness after the air pirate attack.
“Captain, please come to the infirmary.” The voice over the speaking tube had a tremor in it. “Sergeant Bulwer may be suffering from Etheric Disease.”
Duan FeiZhou raised an eyebrow.
Captain Freeman said in a heavy voice. “I’m on my way.” He turned to face his three passengers. “I’m sorry about this situation. I will call a soldier to escort you back to your cabins.”
Simon was very relieved. He couldn’t wait to continue his adventure with his animal friends. The bridge was grand, but there was nothing interesting to see after one glance.
Duan FeiZhou stepped forward. “Captain, I’ll go with you.”
“You heard what happened. One of the soldiers suddenly suffered from Etheric Disease…No, I should say an unknown systemic disease.”
That’s was the professional scientific name for Etheric Disease from the Council for the Advancement of Science. However, there was a growing tendency in the civilian world to call that disease ‘Etheric Disease’.
“I’ve had experience practicing medicine, and I know a little bit about Etheric disease,” Duan FeiZhou said. “Maybe I can be of some help.”
Captain Freeman was a bit surprised. He looked at Z, and asked with his eyes if what Duan FeiZhou said was true. Z nodded.
“I can’t believe you know about medicine! Worthy of being a scholar of the Royal Society!” Captain Freeman looked at Duan FeiZhou as if he had a new understanding of him. “Then you can come with me.”
Z hesitated for a moment, then said, “I’ll go too.”
They left the bridge, and found that Simon’s animal friends were nowhere to be seen.
“They must have been scared off by the commotion of the battle!” The teenager’s eyes were teary.
Captain Freeman looked even more panicked than he did. Now that a fox, a squirrel and two parrots were nowhere to be found, they could be located anywhere on the airship, possibly near the hatch, possibly in the Ether crystal-powered engine, or possibly in the cook’s pot.
“I’ll order the soldiers to search.” The veins in his forehead rippled. “Please go back to your compartment and stay put.”
To prevent Simon from ignoring his orders, he called for two soldiers and instructed them to “escort” Simon to his room. The soldiers picked up the teenager left and right and carried him away like a chicken.
Colonel Freeman took Duan FeiZhou and Z to the infirmary. The infirmary was empty because no one had been injured in the battle. In the innermost bed lay a soldier whose shoulder patch told everyone he was a sergeant. The doctor and nurses in the infirmary were gathered around him as they administered glucose.
“How’s his condition?” Colonel Freeman asked, as he stepped forward.
“I haven’t treated this disease before.” The doctor shook his head, as he indicated there was nothing he could do.
Duan FeiZhou bent down and looked closely at the symptoms of the sergeant’s illness. His eyes were tightly closed, and sweat was pouring out. A faint red stripe had emerged on his arm. Over the next few days, the lines would deepen, and when the sergeant began to talk nonsense, his life would come to an end.
Etheric disease appeared without warning, and no one knew the cause of the onset. It wasn’t the people who worked with Etheric crystals all day long who were prone to illness. Otherwise, the crew of the airship would have borne the brunt of the disease. On the contrary, most patients had never been on an airship or even near an airport in their lives.
When the Etheric crystals burned, the evil thoughts of the Lord of Light contained in them spread to the world, so maybe He just randomly picked the victims. The Forerunner was a near-godlike being, and one couldn’t use human ethics, morals and behavioral protocols to guess what was in his mind.
Duan FeiZhou told Colonel Freeman, “There is a sanatorium in London called the Beautiful Gaia Sanatorium, which specializes in the treatment of Etheric disease. The daughter of a friend of mine also suffers from Etheric disease, and recovered significantly after treatment there.”
The doctor was a bit indignant. “Sir, there is no such thing as Etheric disease in the world…”
Colonel Freeman glared at the doctor.
“Whether there is such a thing or not, my soldier is sick!” he said sternly. “Is there any point in getting hung up on names right now? Would changing the name of the disease cause the patient to recover?”
The doctor bowed his head, and didn’t dare speak.
Colonel Freeman turned to Duan FeiZhou with a much gentler expression.
“Thank you for the information. It’s just that we can’t return to the ship exclusively for this right now. As soon as we get back to London, I’ll send the sergeant to that sanatorium.”
The colonel half-knelt down in front of the sickbed and took the sergeant’s hand in his.
“Bulwer, do you hear me? Hold on just a little longer. The ship will be returning soon.”
The sergeant closed his eyes tightly, as if he was in a long nightmare, and couldn’t hear the colonel at all.
Colonel Freeman let out a long sigh. “Is there anything we can do to ease his pain?”
The doctor bowed his head.
“Please pay more attention to the sergeant’s condition,” Duan FeiZhou said to the doctor. “If he starts talking about some inexplicable nonsense, please come and inform me.”
“What’s the point of informing you?” The doctor glared at him warily.
“Listen to this gentleman!” Colonel Freeman ordered.
With the colonel present, the doctor didn’t dare make a move. He could only hang his head and agree. Duan FeiZhou stared somberly at the sergeant. As far as he knew, the only one who could treat Etheric disease was the Beautiful Gaia Sanatorium, but would the poor man last until the Wellington returned to its home port?
Councilor Evangeline’s secret medicine could treat the condition. She had bought goods in the trading house last time, but left some secret medicine there as well, intended for long-term consignment in the trading house for sale. It just so happened that it could be used to save Sergeant Bulwer.
Unfortunately, Duan FeiZhou first had to enter the trading house in order to take out the special medicine. He glanced at Z beside him. The key to the trading house had been confiscated at the time of his arrest, and had not been returned to him. Although he asked for it, he was coldly refused by Z. Did Z bring the talisman paper with him?
If Z hadn’t, then Sergeant Bulwer was doomed.
After they visited the sergeant, the two men returned to the cabin. Neither of them said anything on the way. Z took out his key and was about to open his door when his wrist was gripped.
Duan FeiZhou took a deep breath, and mustered up the courage to say, “I have something to tell you.”
Z gazed into the young man’s golden-green eyes. He wanted to refuse, but he knew that the other party wouldn’t have asked to talk to him if it wasn’t some important information. He pursed his lips and pushed open the door. “Come in.”
Duan FeiZhou darted into the cabin.
“Go ahead and say it.” Z closed the door and deliberately went to unpack his bags so he wouldn’t accidentally lock eyes with the man. He suddenly missed the time when he was still blind. Since when had the mere sight of that young man’s figure become a torture for him?
“I want to go into the Secret Trading House.” Duan FeiZhou said.
Z’s hand stopped, “Do you have to bring up the pot out of nowhere?”
“I’m not doing it for myself, but for the soldier who is sick,” Duan FeiZhou said. “There are some medicines in the trading house that can relieve his illness.”
Sneaking into the trading house would surely anger Z. This way he could simply go in openly and honestly.
“I don’t have the talisman paper with me.” Z said.
Duan FeiZhou stared at him, “Really?”
“Why would I bring something like that? Wouldn’t it be safer to keep it in Scotland Yard?”
“If you’re worried about me running away, you can come with me,” Duan FeiZhou said. “This is to save someone’s life.”
Z’s eyes darkened.
Damn, he thought, this kid knows that if he comes up with the grand excuse of “saving someone’s life”, I won’t be able to refuse. Bad thing. It was a bad thing from start to finish. He opened the suitcase, and took out the spell paper from the bottom.
He had intended to leave it in London, but for some reason when he left, he surreptitiously stuffed it into the suitcase. When he took out the rune paper, another thing fell out with it.
It was a white envelope, no address on the front, and only two words written on it: suicide note.
Z quickly picked up the envelope and stuffed it back into the suitcase.
Duan FeiZhou looked at him with a complicated expression.
“A suicide note?”
“Nightmen’s habit,” Z said faintly. “We are all bloodthirsty people, and it’s possible to die at any time. In order to avoid disputes after death, you have to write a suicide note on the first day of employment.”
“… I haven’t written a suicide note.”
“You aren’t an official Nightmen.” He shoved the talisman paper at Duan FeiZhou.
Duan FeiZhou extended his hand to him.
The Master of the Secret Trading House, the most wanted criminal by the Nightmen, was boldly asking to bring him into the trading house with him. If the successive chiefs of the Nightmen had known that he would have such a day, they might have jumped out of their graves in anger.
But he still took the hand that was offered to him.
There was a spinning of the sky, and two people appeared in the trading house.
It was as if time in this mysterious space had frozen, and was exactly like it was when they last came, and that was how it remained. Duan FeiZhou waved his hand and summoned the compartment of the display cabinet where the Beautiful Gaia special medicine was stored. He took out a small packet of powder and turned to Z. “I just came to get this. We can go back now.”
Z looked at him coldly, and returned to the real world with him.
“When you go back to London, that place should be completely closed.” Z snatched back the talisman paper. “The whole space will be erased.”
“I would like to close it.” Duan FeiZhou was helpless. “As long as I don’t enter the Trading House, it won’t open. But I don’t know how to erase the space where the Trading House is located. It’s not like I built it.”
“In other words, the opening of the Trading House depends on whether you are conscious of it or not?”
“…Something like that.”
Z frowned and twisted his face away, obviously not very satisfied with this answer.
“I’m going to the infirmary.” Duan FeiZhou said.
“Wait.” Z called out to him. “I also have something to say to you.”
Duan FeiZhou dropped the hand which was about to open the door.
Z sat down on the bed with his arms crossed over his chest and said, “Since we are working together on this mission, I’ll be honest with you. The Wellington is hiding spies. Her Majesty specifically instructed me to uncover this spy before we left.”
“… A spy? On the Wellington?” Duan FeiZhou was incredulous.
“Do you really find it puzzling? It’s surprising that we could meet air pirates over the North Sea.”
“Didn’t Colonel Freeman say that the air pirates were privateers pretending to be regular troops from other countries?”
Z nodded, “Even if they were privateers, trying to intercept a ship in such a vast sky would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Generally, air pirates only operate on popular routes because the routes are fixed, and they only need to wait for them. But this route we are sailing has never been taken before. After all, the destination is the North Pole. Think about it. How did those air pirates pinpoint us?”
Duan FeiZhou was silent for a moment, and the answer just came out. He said, “The spies on board leaked our coordinates.”
“It’s not that easy to transmit messages over long distances. Either the spy had an easily concealed wireless transmitter in his possession, or he possessed some special means of communicating over long distances.”
“–An occult technique.” Duan FeiZhou said after Z’s words.
Now he understood why Z wanted to cooperate with him. It was because he was an occult practitioner, and Z was not. The fact that he had inherited his powers from Duncan and Jack the Ripper made his hearing extremely sharp, so it was easy to listen to the movements around him. Z probably knew of this ability and asked him to cooperate.
Only when it comes to work would Z put aside his personal position and emotions, and talk to him more than once.
“I know. It’s just to help you uncover the spy right?” Duan FeiZhou averted his eyes, and stopped looking at the beautiful, almost inhuman face of the Nightmen.
“The kid who keeps animals.” Z’s cheek twitched. He was a bit allergic to Simon like Colonel Freeman was. “Can his animals help?”
“I can’t say. But I don’t think he’s a good counterintelligence asset.” Duan FeiZhou was honest about his opinion of Simon. Having Simon as a counterspy would be like having a Disney princess in Star Wars. Besides, Simon worshiped Carter so much that Duan FeiZhou naturally felt he belonged in the ‘enemy camp.’
“…Then don’t count on him.” Z tilted his head, and looked away from Duan FeiZhou. “Aren’t you going to deliver the medicine?”
“I’m going.” Duan FeiZhou weighed the medicine bag in his hand. “You…Don’t you have anything else to say to me?”
“No.” Z said.
Duan FeiZhou opened the door without saying a word.
Z stared at the spell rune paper. In his eyes, it was just a white piece of paper. He pondered for a moment, then suddenly said, “Wait a minute. Actually I…”
When he looked up, he found that the cabin was empty. The hatch had closed at some point, but he hadn’t even noticed.
It was strange. From a medical point of view he no longer had a heart, his chest cavity only possessed a machine driven by Ether crystals, but just now his heart felt as if it had been cut by a blunt knife.
Thanks for the chapter <3
I wonder that since Z’s heart is run by ether crystals is he like the incarnation of the lord of light? And DFZ the fourth forerunner? And when he died the lord of light sent him to another world?
Z is starting to feel his feelings, hopefully after this trip, they’ll sort themselves out again! Thanks for the chapter!!!
Wonder who leaked the coordinates.
Where have all these the animals disappeared to? Are they really animals?… what I’d they are shape shifters, like Xenophon?
Come on Z, see DFZ for what he is; someone who’d risk their life for you and cares deeply about you (and your face 😉).
Thanks for translating and editing.
Z, stop holding out and just go love your man!
Hopefully this trip will bring them back together.
Thank you for the chapter!