Global Evolution - Chapter 65
Chapter 65: Food web
Translator: Letty Editor: Jello
The soil was soft and moist. When Qing shui stepped into the flower bush, Chang noticed the sound of Qing shui's shoe slightly sinking into the soil. The sound was light, but it suffocated Chang as if a pillow was pressed firmly on his face.
His palm was sweating and he clenched his fist, Chang didn't even dare to blink, he paid all of his attention to the surroundings of Qing shui.
It was only the first step, but those flowers became vigilant to the stranger immediately. Then, creepily, they turned their ’’face’’ altogether, as if there were pairs of eyes in the center of the flowers. They were facing Qing shui now.
’’It moves, like I thought!’’ Chang almost lost control, he wanted to drag Qing shui back before things escalated. But Qing shui only waved to him, indicating that he was fine. ’’Don't worry, just stay there.’’
The waving convinced Chang and he sat back knowing the person who he trusted well.
After making sure Chang wouldn't interrupt, he took another step and cautiously avoided most of the small plants around the flowers.
Even though Qing shui paid full attention to avoid having to have contact with the plants, the vividness sensed his existence. The flowers turned their faces one by one as if they were bystanders of a fight. They looked at Qing shui in a circle, although they were only at Qing shui's waist height.
Chang almost had a heart attack from the strangeness. He couldn't wait to shout out to ask Qing shui to come back, but he was also afraid that these seemingly mellow flowers would turn into killing machines if he ever spoke. It was a double dilemma to Chang, he struggled to decide if he should follow Qing shui or ask him to come back.
Qing shui, as the person stayed within the circle, was even more nervous of the unforeseeable unknown. The evolution of his intelligence didn't dull his emotions. As a normal human, he knew the bitter taste of fear.
However, he had also become a smarter human these past days. He realized he needed to suppress his feelings more in this situation.
Qing shui took a deep breath to stabilize the tremor of fear over his body, and he again took a third step further in the flower bush...
Then there was the fourth...
As if he was the Sun and those were just normal sunflowers, every movement he made was followed by the sensitive readjustment from the flowers. Qing shui escalated his pace as he went further into the flower bush.
To Chang, Qing shui was a fearless champion that walked into the abyss of fear without hesitation. His clenched fist couldn't stop trembling. He couldn't dare imagine that the person
he knew could be sliced into pieces by the whirling petals. He also couldn't take the heartbreaking moment that the face he knew would become mummified.
Therefore, Chang closed and opened his eyes, again and again. He wanted to make sure Qing shui was safe but also wanted to flee since he would never be able to handle Qing shui's death. As he thought internally, Qing shui had found the captain's body. It really was a mercy that the lush flower bush didn't give him too much of a hard time on finding the compass. About 10 seconds after, Chang knew Qing shui had found the compass when he stood up.
The familiar man tucked his right hand in his sleeve and picked up the compass that fell in the flower bush, and then started to make his way back.
Step by step, Qing shui was even more cautious than when he went in. Of course, the flowers watched him all the way back too.
The last step Qing shui took to get out of the flower bush was a relief for both of them. Qing shui kneeled as he had used up all his strength. All his emotions finally had a channel to break out.
’’I never want to do this again.’’ Qing shui's fingers fumbled over the compass. The blood cloth dried half way when he got into the flower bush, but it was re-damped by the cold sweat and tears in this moment. Perhaps this was the time he cried hardest in his life. He took several large inhales to try to calm his mind.
’’Let's get back.’’ Chang took Qing shui's arm and placed it around his neck to help him to stand up.
’’Wait.’’ Qing shui didn't want to wipe off his tears because his hands might have had contact with the pollen when he was in the bush. He shook his head instead as if he could shake off the emotional side of him in this way. ’’We still have one more thing to do.’’
’’What? We have had the compass already, let's move.’’
’’Let's get his high powered flashlight too, I remembered he dropped it beside the flower bush.’’ Qing shui let down his arm from Chang's shoulder and returned to the place where the blood first splashed. He moved forward on his knees. Apparently, he had not recovered from the terror. A minute after, his fingers felt the flashlight, but it seemed to have stopped working. Qing shui sighed and fixed the flashlight using the most primitive but perhaps the easiest way. He pounded it on the ground twice and the light went back on within 3 seconds.
He turned off the flashlight and hung it on his belt. Qing shui walked again to the edge of the flower bush as if he was possessed.
’’What are you doing?’’ Chang squatted beside him and frowned. His heart almost stopped when he saw what Qing shui had just done: Qing shui ripped off 2 flowers in a flash of light. There were a handful of petals in his hands now.
’’Are you kidding me?!’’
’’Don't worry, it has no teeth so it doesn't bite.’’ Qing shui showed the petals to Chang calmly, convincing Chang that those bloody flowers were danger free. He then carefully placed them into an iron box that he hid in his pocket. Obviously, it wasn't a spontaneous decision. He prepared all this when he changed his clothes.
’’You are nuts! How can it be possible that those monster flowers eat you!?’’ Chang forced Qing shui to leave with him. He needed to stop Qing shui's crazy act.
’’They didn't because they have not yet evolved far enough.’’ Qing shui chuckled ’’As I thought, they only gain the sensory system at this time, but mouth pieces and digesting system are still far off reach for them.’’
’’It was pure luck! If we were a few days later, they could have jumped up and digested you somehow.’’ Chang's brows still knotted together as he couldn't understand why Qing shui just did that. ’’I just don't get why you are taking a meaningless risk.’’
’’Was it meaningless? I don't do things meaninglessly.’’ Qing shui secured the box and got his arm out from Chang's hand. ’’I am studying this newborn ecosystem.’’
’’But we almost died! Why do you still have the spare attention to study all this?’’ Chang was irritated.
’’Well, I am making hay while the sun shines. Who knows what will happen in the future? Humans are no better than other species until they know forethought.’’
’’But aren't you planning too far ahead?’’ Chang said, ’’After all, we are still stuck in the middle of nowhere. If we were still in the base, I understand why you would do it, because that's you.’’
’’No no no, don't get me wrong. I am not a great person that is concerned about the future of humanity. I am merely thinking about what will happen tomorrow. Chang, where do you think we will go to when we get to Zhengzhou?’’
’’The research institute that they have been talking about.’’
’’You are right. My second question for you is, why do you think I am able to survive in that socalled institute? Let me put it in a different way. If I am merely a human with higher intelligence without matching scientific value, will I be treated as a lab rat could potentially be sliced into pieces for studying?’’
’’So...’’ Chang's brows untied, he began to understand Qing shui's intention.
’’Therefore, I wanted to know more and research more before I get there. In this way, they will know I am far beyond a lab rat.’’ Qing shui explained as he walked, ’’Even if the politics there is better than I thought, I need to demonstrate my skills and value so that I can seek greater benefit for us.’’
’’I see what you mean.’’ Chang understood thoroughly, ’’You found anything yet?’’
’’Yes, but they are only parts and pieces. Based on what I have seen and known these days, I have come up with a theory of this new ecosystem. And of course, never underestimate the power of theory, it is fundamental. I believe this will be a great help for research.’’
’’Well... can you tell me something about your theory?’’
’’Just keep in mind that my reasoning is not perfect as I only reasoned this newborn food chain.’’ Qing shui smiled as he talked about his theory, ’’I call it the preliminary theory of food web.’’
’’Exactly, I said preliminary because it is yet to be completed, but let me explain.’’ Qing shui said. ’’You still remember the food chain we talked about back in the days right?’’
’’Of course. It starts with producer, then predator, and then decomposer.’’ Chang answered.
’’The whole of nature was linked altogether in a hierarchy.’’ Qing shui drew a circle in the sky with his finger ’’But now, can you see the traces of the food chain? At least, I am lost.’’
’’It seems....’’ Chang looked at varieties of plants in front of him, ’’It seems like it is gone.’’
’’Like I said, after the red fog, the original food chain in the biological system collapsed. Plants are producers, but they are also predators now. Who says frogs must be preyed upon by bigger animals like snakes? Even mosquitos are carnivores.’’ Qing shui explained what he had seen in these days.
Chang took a few minutes to take in the information and shook his head ’’You are right. All these species no longer act like what we used to know. Graminivores prey on animals now and the carnivores that I knew... They seemed okay with grass too. Not to mention trees and plants, we have to keep an eye on them.’’
’’As you said, the newborn system is no longer a hierarchic structure, it has become a web, a complicated one. It blurred out the three roles in the food chain that we know.’’
’’The concept of producers and predators got mixed up, giving us trees that prey on animals. However, what is more astonishing to me is that they don't lose the ability to utilize the chemical energy of getting nutrients from the soil. When the line between graminivore and carnivore blurs, everything is transforming into an omnivore. It even eliminates the idea of the apex predator, as long as they are in bigger size, rats can prey on cats, and sadly, cats can prey on humans too.’’
’’The ecosystem I have known so far is a chaotic fight for resources.’’
’’Chaotic fight...’’ Chang looked around as if he just witnessed blood gushing form the sky from a deadly fight.
Qing shui paused for a second, as he added, ’’Let's talk about the flower. I didn't pick them for research purposes only.’’
’’What if we were lucky enough to get to Zhengzhou and we need to have some sort of weapon that can protect us. As long as there are humans, arguments and fighting are inevitable. To be honest, I have been thinking about this for the whole time. If we had these flowers when you killed that family, it would have been easier for not only you but also us too.’’
Qing shui's word was like an alarming bell, it woke Chang up from thinking about the food web. His astounded eyes only captured the last bit of Qing shui's wicked smile.